|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 15 June 2001, and I'm E.C.
On today's show, Howard Finkel nearly makes Kevin Kelly's head explode, Droz is impressed by Stacy Kiebler's legs, Tazz is impressed by Stacy Kiebler's legs, and Jim Ross says that the girls in Oklahoma don't have legs like that.
Y'all see a coincidence developing here?
Jeff Hardy demonstrates what the words "terminal velocity" mean.
You hosts are Kevin Kelly, and sitting in the co-pilot's seat is Howard Finkel.
And now, another episode of "Where's Dr. Tom?"
June: "It's been three weeks since we've seen Dr. Tom Prichard, and I'm getting worried."
Ward: "He's never been gone this long before."
Wally: "Think we should go look for him?"
The Beaver: "Nah, he'll come home when he gets hungry."
Kelly remarks that they are starting the show on time, for once. We are one week and counting for the "King of The Ring" PPV, "a spectacular night of competition!"
Kelly and Finkel shill for the "Triple Threat" Main Event at KoTR between Champ Steve Austin, and challengers Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho. "The WWF World Title is dangling by a thread around Steve Austin's waist," says Kelly.
Finkel has some harsh words for Austin's coercion tactics that he used to get his petition signed on last night's Smackdown, and spoke glowingly of Spike Dudley tearing up the same petition toward the end of the show.
"I'm kind of happy Spike Dudley did what he did, even though he paid for it later."
"Outthink the Fink's " question this week wants to know who each of Chief Jay Strongbow's three tag team partners were when he was Tag Team Champion?
The correct answer gets a copy of Mick Foley's new book, "Foley is Good" (on sale in bookstores everywhere. Or you can get it at your local Sam's Club for half-price. Oops! Guess I shouldn't have said that!)
Time for "Droz's Two Cents," and Droz gets excited about the performances on Raw and Smackdown of "two of my boys, Test and Albert!"
"Albert stepped up and really put on a good show with Kane, and I hope the front office took notice," says Droz, "plus, Test shined by winning the hardcore Title from Rhyno, with an assist from Shane-o-Mac and the lovely Stacy Kiebler."
"Boy," says Kelly, "what a set of legs, hah?"
"Rhyno got distracted by the 'assets'," says Droz, "but it was Test who won the match!"
This naturally segues into Shane's disruptions on Raw and Smackdown. Kelly says that Shane's antics must be driving Vince McMahon crazy.
On to Yoshihiro Tajiri's outstanding debut match on Smackdown.
"Did you see the look on Commissioner (William) Regal's face, Droz" says Kelly. "Like a lot of us, he was just shocked at how good Tajiri did!"
"Tajiri was a big time player in ECW," says Droz, " and the fans have been waiting and waiting for him to get in the ring. Man, MY head was hurting from some of those kicks he hit Crash with! Tajiri let everybody know he's here and he's ready to play. And he's heading to the next round in King of The Ring."
"Tajiri really came through in a high-pressure situation," says Kelly, "in front of all those people, and on TV, too."
Finkel says that Tajiri's facing Crash in the Tournament was an acid test, one he passed with flying colors. "Plus," says Finkel, " he got the extra bonus 'rub' from William Regal...those expressions on Regal's face were absolutely PRICELESS! The combination of the two is very unique!"
Talk shifts back to Austin's petition campaign on Smackdown, with nifty graphics of Howard Finkel getting strong-armed by Austin into signing.
"You could see Austin's mood change from being all glad-handing to menacing within the space of a few heartbeats," says Finkel, "I think he's got some real problems."
"How about the reaction that Spike got when he tore up Austin's petition right in front of him.," says Kelly.
Droz says that since Spike and Molly are now truly a couple, Spike was defending Molly when Austin called her a bimbo. "Austin thought he could bully Spike and Molly around," says Droz, "and (when Spike tore up the petition) you could see Austin slowly having some sort of mental breakdown. Not quite as bad as Perry Saturn, you understand, but, well, he gave Mr. McMahon a HUG on Raw Monday night! That shows you that he's losing it. And then to go around with a petition, thinking that's actually going to have any bearing on the Triple Threat Match at King of The Ring. Then, because Spike goes out on him, Austin wants not only a match with Spike, but makes it a World Title match...I'm looking forward to this Triple Threat Match to drop him down even farther, mentally, and continue a steady downfall that I'm looking forward to seeing very much!"
Kelly asks Droz about the dynamic of the friendship between Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. At some point, it's going to come down to Benoit vs. Jericho in this King of The Ring match," says Kelly, "only one man can walk away with the Championship Title. Each has promised the other an opportunity for a chance at the Title, should the other win. But do you, Droz, see their friendship emerging unscathed after King of the Ring?"
Droz says no, because everybody wants to wear that gold belt, and it fits around only one man's waist, no matter what they may say to each other now. "When they get into the ring," says Droz, "they're going to have to go against each other, and I have a feeling it's going to tear them apart. After that match, it's going ot be a big downfall for them as a team."
Howard Finkel says that the tension surrounding King of the Ring is beginning to effect other tag teams as well. "Even Edge & Christian are not immune," says Finkel, "as we saw on Smackdown this week. "King of The Ring" has traditionally meant that the one person who emerges as the King of The Ring has their career get a big boost; you are perceived as going on to bigger and better things. And the rift between Edge & Christian may be due to that "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow. If either Edge or Christian won the Tournament, what would happen to that tag team?"
Kelly says that the tag teams should also be on their best behavior , because if either Jericho or Benoit wins the World Title from Steve Austin, the Tag Titles could be ripe for the picking. "Either could hold both Titles legally," says Kelly, "but, physically, it's impossible. Having to defend both belts will grind the Champ down, and sooner or later he will lose one of the Titles, if not both."
Droz says that Edge & Christian as a tag team are on their way out. "This started when the Hardys won their individual belts," says Droz, "that drove Edge & Christian nuts. Losing to Benoit and Jericho on Smackdown, and then shoving each other after the match...and what happens if they have to face each other in "King of The Ring?"
Droz gets in a plug for his "Two Cents" column this week over at WWF.com, which is all about the wonders of good mental health. Steve Austin, and Perry Saturn are used as negative examples.
Before Droz leaves, he picks the LA Lakers, "unless the Sixers can hit a foul shot."
Still no winner in the "Outthink the Fink" contest.
Discussion between Kelly and Finkel shifts to the mental unraveling of Perry Saturn on Smackdown, centered around the "Double Date From Hell."
"Could you ever imagine a double date going that way?" asks Kelly.
Finkel wants to see more of "this unique character that Saturn is developing. Nobody else in the WWF has developed a character like this. He is completely off the wall."
Kelly compares Saturn's new character top George "The Animal" Steele.
"Saturn is a wrestler, he's talented, and now the personality is coming out," says Finkel.
Tazz joins the show, saying that Perry Saturn is "very, ummm, unique. He doesn't really act like that. That much. Naw, this is a great bit for Perry, and I'm happy for him."
Tazz remembers him as one half of ECW's Eliminators tag team with John Kronus.
Kelly thinks it's ironic that Kronus was never known to have both oars in the water, and now Saturn's going the same way.
"Yeah," says Tazz, "but with Kronus, it was a shoot!"
Tazz relates that he and Saturn used to run the ECW Wrestling School together. "I am happy for Perry," says Tazz, "this is a great new angle for him; it's like a modern day Rick Steiner we got here. But better."
Kelly shifts the conversation to Steve Austin, and compares Austin's new character to that of Robert Di Niro in "Cape Fear."
"Phenomenal," says Tazz, "the most entertaining stuff I've ever seen Austin do, and it's right because the WWF Champ should have the most interesting character."
Tazz couldn't stop laughing during Austin's petition signing antics on Smackdown. "I'm sitting out there next to Michael Cole," says Tazz, "and I'm trying awfully hard not to laugh. The guy was just hilarious, being the phony like he was. And then to be able to get in the ring and just kick butt. To have that diversity in your character, is a recipe for success."
Tazz concludes by saying that Austin could go out there, trip and fall on his face, and still get over. "He can do no wrong out there."
Kelly says the funniest thing was when Austin was backstage glad-handing everybody, "you could see him, the guy known as the 'Texas Rattlesnake' getting agitated about being forced to be nice to so many people. Now that's somebody who's very comfortable in their character. And maybe the best is yet to come for Austin's new version of Stone Cold."
Tazz says that Austin is portraying the character in a different way. "We know Austin's an ass-kicker," says Tazz, "he always has been. This time, he's a different kind of ass-kicker. He's a bad guy, and his job is to make people hate him for it. His character has gotten a whole lot broader, and I'm digging it."
Kelly brings up Tajiri's debut, to which Tazz enthusiastically says that Tajiri will be a great asset to the WWF roster as he was to ECW. "He's got charisma. Who knew he could be funny?" asks Tazz incredulously, "Those vignettes of his were great! But remember, he's the Japanese Buzzsaw, and he's gong to be tearing it up out there."
Spike Dudley's match with Austin is discussed. "The way you saw Spike Dudley wrestle Steve Austin last night," says Tazz, "is the way Spike Dudley got over in his whole career."
Finkel asks Tazz for a "shotgun analysis on everybody whom you competed with in ECW, and has made it to the WWF."
Tazz says he's not surprised at the progress made by those former ECW stars who now work in the WWF. "And let's remember, Howard, that there are still guys from ECW who haven't made it over here yet!"
Tazz goes on to name Tajiri, Rhyno, the Dudley Boyz, then says that we haven't seen Raven's potential fully developed. "He has so much more to offer the WWF, and I hope that we tap into it soon. But, everybody gets their time, and Raven's enough of a pro to sit back, ride the ride, and bust your butt out there, which he is doing. Then, when the time is right, you get that call, and you go."
As Tazz winds down this week's "Tales From the Hook," Kelly queries him about the "Tough Enough" Casting Special on 21st June, (right after Smackdown.)
"Any marks out there, any wrestling fans that HATE Tazz," says Tazz, "be prepared to hate me a LOT more. I got the feeling I'm gonna come across like a real heathen on this show."
"Only the people that work with you hate you, Tazz," says Kelly, with a smirk.
"Yeah," says Tazz, "them and my wife."
This cracks everybody up.
Tazz thinks the show's debut is gonna be awesome.
"'Survivor' was a cool show. 'Boot Camp' sucked, "says Tazz, "but 'Tough Enough' will be real. You'll see people trying to capture a dream. With seven WWF superstars standing in their way. "
Kelly says that the other so-called 'reality TV' shows are contrived, but 'Tough Enough' is real. "You are in the face of all the would-be participants. It's true reality because this is the way it was."
Tazz calls it a crash course in life, and a reality check for any wannabes out there who think they might have the stuff to be a WWF superstar.
Kelly then asks Tazz to check up on Perry Saturn when he and Terri co-host "WWF Sunday Night Heat" this Sunday.
"Poor Perry," says Tazz, going kayfabe real quick.
"I gotta have a sit-down with him. Y'know, 'old-school Tazz' helpin' out a brothuh..."
"Yeah," says Kelly, "you'll be staring at Terri the whole time, right? Just like you were staring at Stacy Kiebler, huh?"
"Holy COW!" says Tazz, "where do the FIND these broads?"
"I dunno," says Kelly, "maybe they grow 'em in a lab, somewhere..."
"We ain't got nothin' like that in "The Hook," says Tazz.
"What can we expect next week on 'Tales From the Hook', Tazz?" asks Finkel.
"Same thing as this week, Howie. Absolutely nothin'..." and Tazz leaves.
GameBoy Advance promo.
Yep, the Nintendo folks got taken by their ad agency, all right.
The Test/Rhyno Hardcore Title match from Smackdown gets the "Pulp Fiction" treatment this week.
To quote "Wrestling's Only Living Legend," Larry Zbyszko:
"Stacy Kiebler IS about 90% leg."
Her mere presence is enough to start Tazz channeling Little Richard.
Rhyno, watching Baltimore's own Ms. Stacy dance on the ring apron, has the look of a starving glutton confronted with a crackling roast.
That is, until Test kicks a trash can into his skull.
Good ol' Jim Ross joins the show, as Kelly finishes waxing poetic about Stacy Kiebler's appearance on Smackdown.
"Girls in Oklahoma don't have legs THAT long," says JR with a laugh.
Kelly kicks off the interview by asking JR about Steve Austin's new persona, post Wrestlemania.
JR says that Austin had a challenging situation facing him, aligning himself as he did with Mr. McMahon after Texas. "When you are called the 'Texas Rattlesnake', you are more apt to have an endearing situation with your fan base there," says JR. "He had a real challenge to become the bad guy. I think he's done a helluva job, quite frankly."
JR thinks that Austin's new persona is beginning to take hold. "Steve's happy with it, though it's not coming overnight. I think the fans are accepting him now, because, since 'Judgment Day,' he's really been on top of his game."
Kelly asks what the loss of HHH has meant to the WWF.
"It's hurt us," says JR, "no injury comes at a good time. We had the two biggest fan favorites in the history of our company lost in a 24-hour period. Stone Cold jumps to the other side of the fence, and the Rock gets his storyline suspended, and he's out in California making a movie. HHH was poised and positioned to fill one of those slots. If he had filled those slots the night after Wrestlemania, it would have made me breathe a little easier. But, that was not the direction that was taken. Now, with Austin on the bad side of the fence, and the Rock putting the finishing touches on his movie, and "The Game" down in Birmingham rehabbing like a crazy man, we've had some challenging times. Jericho and Benoit have both been elevated, the Undertaker has got a unique story going that has ignited his character. Kane is stepping up to the plate more and more each week. We've just got to get more guys to step up when they get the opportunity, and they have, or they will. HHH going down hurt us, but when he comes back, he will be a huge fan favorite when he returns. We hope to get the Rock back, if everything goes according to plan, by Summerslam time (in August). This summer will give some guys the opportunity to really score some points, do some good things. HHH is possibly due back in the ring by October or November, at the earliest. Before the year ends, we will be building a tremendous amount of momentum, which should take us right back into Wrestlemania."
Kelly asks JR to comment on the impressive strides that Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho have made.
JR says that he actively recruited Benoit early in his career, but Benoit had commitments to the New Japan promotion, which, at that time, the WWF would not honor, and WCW would let him work part-time, so he signed WCW. JR praised Benoit's work ethic and skills. Chris Jericho is blessed with more natural charisma that Benoit, but Benoit's still working on that, and both have stepped up and proven themselves to be ready for the top spot. "They come to work on time, and the give the fans everything they've got. They are not going to cheat the consumer with a half-assed effort. We can rely on them. We can depend on them, and they are only going to get better at their craft."
JR says that Benoit and Jericho both know that there are fine points of their game that they need to work on, and they are doing just that. Additionally, he sees both of them as role models for the other wrestlers who want to step up and seize their opportunity to 'play big.'
Finkel asks JR about how high the performance 'bar' has been set of late in the
WWF, and can it be raised even higher?
JR says that 'raising the bar' doesn't mean going through three tables this week, and the four tables next week.
"'Raising the bar' is perfecting the art of storytelling in the ring," say JR, "being able to refine ring psychology, understand wheat it is going to take to motivate that audience on that particular night.
"'Raising the bar' is improving within the art form of a wrestling match, not an endless game of one-upsmanship.
"'Raising the bar' is getting better at telling the stories, and better at the ring psychology.
(Hey folks, check out JR's next statement.)
"Raising the bar is being able to do less, and have it mean more. Not to do moves for moves' sake, but to improve your in-ring performance, and not just by doing sensational high spots.
"It is the art of "working."
Kelly, referring to Benoit's steel cage match with Kurt Angle on Raw, asks JR if he would have condoned both Kurt Angle's moonsault off the top of the cage?
JR says that as long as Angle was okay with the move, and landed flat, he (JR) had no beef with the move. "However," says JR, "if you had asked me that question before the match, I would have said 'absolutely not!"
JR saw Kurt Angle taking a tremendous risk "that I don't know that we needed to do, as frequently as we do. As for the fans who watch just to see guys put life and limb on the line, I would suggest they watch something else! We can do more by using better storytelling and a logical match to 'raise the bar', than we can without having to do more, spectacular and risky high spots."
Kelly asked about how JR was getting along with Paul Heyman sitting in the right seat.
An email from Tim asks JR if Paul Heyman is "an easy character to hate, " as he has mentioned several times in "The Ross Report? Is it his on-air personality, or do you two really clash off-air?"
JR says people read more into this thing than there really is. JR says that he helped Heyman break into broadcasting way back when, down in Atlanta. "Paul E. Dangerously," the "character", is very easy to dislike. Not Paul Heyman, himself.
"I don't wear this black hat too often outside the set," says JR, "I'm not that same guy all the time. I've got a 'day job' as they say. And it's the same way with Paul Heyman."
JR then takes issue with those who think they know something about how he feels about Paul, when they really know nothing at all about it. "Paul knows how I feel about him," says JR, "I have a great deal of respect for Paul, I like Paul, and I enjoy working with Paul. Paul's character is very easy to dislike, and that's a good thing for his role. He keeps me on my toes."
JR then says he's received mail from fans of Heyman who credit Heyman with resurrecting JR's career.
"If that's the case," saysd JR with a laugh, "then I truly have a lot to be appreciative of."
Kelly asks JR to rate his own announcing skills.
JR says that he has a lot of room for improvement, and shows emotion to easily when he's on the air. "I learn something new about my job every week," he says.
JR also credits the late Gordon Solie as being the best ever at his craft, "with the rest of us playing for the #2 slot."
JR goes on to say that his style of announcing teamed with Paul Heyman, is different than the style he used when teamed with Jerry Lawler.
Speaking of Lawler, Kelly asks JR about "The King's" chances of getting back on the air.
"In a perfect world, I wish that that was possible, " says JR, "but I don't know that it is going to be possible with everybody's current mindset. I still consider Jerry a friend, and I truly enjoyed working with him. I've learned to never say never in this business but the chances of Jerry returning are less than fifty-fifty given the current mindset that everyone's in. That's unfortunate, because he still has a great deal to offer, and is a hell of an entertainer."
Kelly moves on to JR's involvement in the re-launch of WCW, and who of the WCW roster impresses him?
JR says that WCW will have an entirely different look from the WWF, different graphics and pyro, of course, and other things as well. He would say more, but he doesn't want to spoil the surprise.
The entire WCW roster, as it stands now, is chock-full of highly motivated talent, all wanting to make WCW a success. He then takes issue with the amount of misinformation, both on the 'Net and elsewhere, about just who has and has not signed with the new WCW.
JR is impressed with Lance Storm skills and diligence in preparation. He likes Hugh Morrus, but feels Morrus needs to drop some weight, say down to 275 lbs.
Mike Awesome is leaner and quicker than when the fans last saw him. Chuck Palumbo, Sean O'Haire, and Mark Jindrak have great potential, but need to learn more about 'raising the bar' and telling stories than relying on spectacular high spot moves. JR singles out Chavo Guerrero, Jr. for exceptional praise, saying that Chavo will be instrumental in providing guidance for the Cruiserweight and Light Heavyweight Divisions.
Look for the official signing announcements within the week.
Sadly, Bill Goldberg is still at the "talk-on-the-phone-with-JR" stage. Goldberg seems to be content to take a large amount of Time Warner's money to basically do nothing. The same goes for Diamond Dallas Page, though there appears to be a break in Time Warner's letting DDP buy out his contract. "Maybe, one day, both those guys will be free and able to sign with us," says JR.
Kelly asks if there will be some cross-over and cross-promotion between the two WWF and the new WCW?
"Absolutely," says JR, "There's going to be WCW guys that end up in the WWF, and WWF guys that will make the jump to WCW, as time goes on. There's going to be some great story lines and some great 'cross-pollination.' It'll make for some great television, all right, and it'll all start much sooner than later."
Speaking of which, Kelly asks if there will be any of the WWF talent currently in the developmental territories that will be moving up.
JR says that he likes Puerto Rico's D'Lo Brown for his new attitude and workrate, and sees him showing up real soon in either the WWF or WCW. As for the others in Memphis, Louisville, California's UPW, and elsewhere, there are many that are close, but just not quite ready yet for the big move up. JR counseled on the perils of bringing rookie talent up too soon, citing, among others, David Flair.
"Our fans are smart and observant," says JR, " and very unforgiving of you if you don't come prepared, or if you screw up badly. You only get that one chance to make that first impression, and we don't want to have that happen to somebody in our business that's not ready."
Kelly asks JR for his comments and predictions for the upcoming "King of The Ring" PPV.
JR has a long history with KoTR, as it was in 1993 as his second PPV that he worked, and Bret Hart won it that year. The show appears to be strong, and getting stronger, and though the card still isn't complete, this week's Raw and Smackdown should clear that situation up quickly.
"Somebody always makes a bona-fide turn at 'King of The Ring," says JR, "whether it's positive, or negative."
JR sees the PPV having the potential to be an outstanding PPV, especially because of the fresh talent that is currently entered in the tournament.
"The "Triple Threat' Main Event match between Austin, Benoit and Jericho," says JR," based on the level that all three have been operating on in the last several weeks, I don't know how you can look at that, and not expect that match to be excellent. That'll be the 'cherry on the sundae' of a successful PPV. To be quite frank, a lot of how well that show is received at home on PPV is dependent upon how much the crowd is into what they are seeing. We are challenged to provide a good product, to push the right buttons on the crowd. Sometimes, in the northeast, it's like feast or famine with us. But it's up to us to provide the product that's going to motivate the fans. Hopefully, we will be able to do that, and the fans will respond in kind, and raise the perception of the show a little bit."
Overall, JR feels good about KoTR, even though two weeks ago, he had no feel for it at all. "With the TV that we've done, and the momentum that we are building," says JR, "I think we are in good shape."
Kelly thanks JR for showing up. JR says that this week is "a week that we will not soon forget, a big Monday, Thursday, and Sunday, and I hope that everybody involved is up for the challenge."
Finkel compares Jim Ross calling WWF wrestling to Vin Scully calling Major League Baseball.
Kelly and Finkel promo the upcoming WWF house shows in Toronto (where the Junkyard Dog will make an appearance as a special referee [Whoa - I thought he was dead? - CRZ]), Ft. Lauderdale at the NCR Center, Tampa for Raw, and Orlando.
Finkel then promo's the house show next Saturday in Trenton, NJ.
The answer to the "Outthink the Fink" question posed at the top of the show, about who Chief Jay Strongbow's three tag partners were, is Billy White Wolf, (1976), Jules Strongbow, (1982-83) and (from way back in the WWWF days) Sonny King (1972).
John Ozeran (sp?) from "West Blmlflgh, Michigan" wins a copy of "Foley is Good," (on sale in bookstores everywhere) for having the correct answer, even though it took the whole show to get it.
Kelly announces that the guest for next week's show will be Stone Cold Steve Austin
Both Kelly and Howard Finkel plan to take a sick day.
See you next week.
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