|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer
This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday the Freakin' 13th, 2001, and I'm hiding under the bed.
On today's show:
Kelly keeps the face fuzz, despite my demon-spamming his email-box with three thousand hits telling him to shave the durn thing off, it looks ridiculous,
Droz goes berserk over the ECW/WCW Invasion, then cuts a promo on Darryl from "Tough Enough,"
Tazz brings us "Tales From Toronto," and he's after a piece of Darryl's hide as well,
And HHH shows us, once again, why he is THAT...DAMN...GOOD!
Not many more beer baths for ol' Stone Cold, given his sad attitude as regards Mr. McMahon on last night's Smackdown, hah?
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Howard Finkel, who's sporting a pair of Oakleys, it appears.
We are nine days away from the "Invasion" PPV, and things have definitely taken a turn for the interesting. Shane McMahon's WCW promotion just got a boost from Paul Heyman and his ECW superstars. And just to make things interesting, Shane's sister, Stephanie, is the new owner of ECW.
Fink says that nobody knew what to expect on last Monday's Raw, that Paul Heyman, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, and Shane McMahon have pulled the biggest coup in WWF history.
"Everybody expected that there would be some WWF superstars to defect to WCW," says Fink, "but nobody expected and entire FACTION of former ECW superstars to defect en masse, and join forces with WCW against the WWF!"
"That slow turn they did was cool. High drama there," says Kelly, "it just seemed to explode. It's gotten the entire industry talking, heck everybody is talking about the product again! A couple of weeks ago, after the first WCW matches, the fans said what they were seeing sucked! Not this week! Everybody is talking about what went on, and that's just the people who work in the industry! We've gotten THOUSANDS of emails from fans, literally thousands, wanting to send in comments just on Raw alone, and almost as many on Smackdown. That's about five or six times the normal amount!
Last week, right here on Byte This! Howard said that a lot of fans didn't like what they saw, and he responded that for those who didn't like it, the WWF would improve on it, and for those who did like it, the WWF would STILL improve on it. And that they did!"
Time for Droz's "Two Cents," where Darren Drozdov comments on the week's happenings in the WWF, and even HE is still trying to find the words to describe what has happened this week.
Droz says that we got Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam in the ring, interfering in the Jericho/Kane vs. Storm/Awesome tag match. "Out came the WWF locker room to make the save," says Droz, "but when I saw who it was coming down the ramp, I had a bad feeling about that. Which, of course, was justified. When they all did that turn, I thought 'We've got a big problem here.' It shocked me and the world!"
Fink asks if Droz has any good feelings for the ECW wrestlers, having been in ECW in years past.
"I don't know, Howard," says Droz pensively, "I mean, they came over to the WWF when ECW folded, and now they're going back again. I hope they remember who's writing their paychecks these days."
Kelly remarks that Byte This! has had a number of the ECW faction on recently, and they have nothing but respect for how Paul (Heyman) could create such chaos, although he wasn't the best businessman.
Kelly asks what the addition of "Extreme" means for the upcoming "Invasion" PPV, what with the WWF facing both WCW and ECW?
"What bothered me," says Droz, "was how the WWF wrestlers tried to keep WCW out of their locker room and their arenas. APA, guys like that. On Monday, those guys were nonexistent. They left our four guys hanging out there. What is needed is more unity in what remains of the WWF. They need more guys to step up and support the WWF. Batten down the hatches, that sort of thing."
Kelly reiterates his comments earlier on the amount emails that they've been getting, just TONS of responses.
"Before this, I was sensing a lot of apathy among the fans," he says, "It's one thing to get heat from the fans, but quite another to get nothing but silence! We got a lot of silence with WCW, and that on their "home turf", Atlanta. But now that ECW is involved, everyone is pumped up again!"
Droz agrees, saying that the Birmingham, AL crowd was really pumped for Smackdown, a lot more energetic.
"That Atlanta crowd was disappointed at how WCW, which had been there for years, had been going down," he says, "but when the ECW thing happened, they were taken aback at first. Then they really began to get behind the ECW Invasion. They opened up a little more. The fans on Thursday really got behind it from the start!"
Kevin shills for the "Invasion" PPV, saying that the show from Cleveland should be really interesting as well, and thanks Droz for stopping by this week. Droz gets in a shill of his own for his "Two Cents" column this week, saying he's got more on WCW, ECW, Mr. McMahon, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin and Debra.
As Droz leaves, Fink says that this it's a special time to be a pro wrestling fan, and briefly shills for the WWF House Shows this weekend.
"As a fan," says Kelly, "I would buy a ticket just to be able to say 'I was there when...! Cheer for one or the other, who cares?"
"If you're a fan," says Fink, "and you're at, say, Albany, or New Haven, this could be a once in a lifetime event for you."
Caller One is Matt from Vancouver, who wants to know if WCW gets "Raw is War," will this split up ECW and WCW?
"Who said anything about WCW getting Raw is War?" retorts Kelly.
"That's some of the rumors going around," says Matt. "I don't believe all of them, except for the one about Smackdown going live."
"I don't think a WCW TV show would draw flies," says Kelly.
"An ECW show would, right?" replies Matt.
"Hmmm, maybe," says Kelly, "You got two companies with a finite roster, with very few guys. I think that the inter-promotional war will go on for some time to come. Stephanie said she couldn't wait for her father to die so she could take over the WWF, so she bought ECW to run her father out of business."
This week's "Outthink the Fink" question takes us back to 1980, and Shea Stadium. "Who was Pat Patterson's opponent on the card?"
Kelly blurts out "Bruno Sammartino!" then "Larry Zbyszko!" both of which are wrong, and gets the horselaugh from a smug Fink in both instances. Winner gets a Chris Benoit T-shirt, by the way.
Caller Two, Jessica, from Providence, RI wants to know what's up with the new shades, Howard?
Fink replies that it's bright in the studio under all these lights, then decides to smart off by saying that he's showing for the Undertaker.
"Maybe you should replace the Rock," says Caller Two.
"No way," says Fink.
"Whaddaya think of 'Tough Enough?" says the caller.
"It sure ain't what those two girls thought it would be, was it?" says Kelly with a laugh.
"Maybe they didn't know what they were getting themselves into?" says the caller.
"They are all learning that lesson," says Kelly, "last night, Victoria and Bobby Jo were victims of what every wrestling school around the world finds. Everyone thinks they can do it, until they actually start doing it, and then they realize just how tough being a pro-wrestler really is."
This segues nicely into Tazz joining the show, with "Tales from Toronto" this week, instead of from "The Hook," because he's up in Canada doing some auto racing, and apparently won.
First up, Tazz says that they got rid of all the crap.
Kelly natters on about some inconsequential pose-down at the TV studio; (apparently Jonathan Coachman got beat by Tim Roach, (sp?)One of the camera guys) then asks about the "House of Hardcore" (ECW's wrestling school), if any of the "Tough Enough" bunch would have made it there?
"What was your dropout rate there, Tazz?" asks Kelly.
"We had two hundred come through the doors in a year's time," says Tazz with a snort, "and three graduated! They were dropping inside of half an hour; it was a heavy-duty job. No cameras there; it was just like an assault. Tazz and Perry, angry, and just buzzing right through them!"
"You saw how Al (Snow) dealt with Darryl," says Kelly, "after Darryl walked away from him, muttering under his breath."
"Man, I would have just run up and hit Darryl from behind," says Tazz, really getting hot at recalling Darryl's latest (of many) screw-ups on the show
"I'd clip the knee, stick my hand over his face, and cut a promo on him right there on the concrete! I mean it! I've done it! Al has a lot more patience than I do, and you will get to see me lose my temper as the show goes on. Al just puts up with a lot more crap than I do! I wasn't there that day, but Al can handle himself anyhow, and I would have whupped Darryl's ass, the puss!"
(Byte This! screenshot shows contestant Darryl of "Tough Enough," looking defiant, and also a little uneasy.)
"The kid reeks!" says Kelly. "Any thought of turning a fire hose on him?"
Tazz said that there was no call for Darryl to smell like rancid mayonnaise.
"We had to tell him to keep his nails trimmed, because there are germs that get trapped under there. And his ass smelled, too," adds Tazz.
He was about to elaborate on keeping yourself clean in the dojo, when his phone connection was broken.
Fink says that Darryl is the one guy you love to hate. Then, Fink wonders what would happen if Darryl got cut?
"We'd have to find somebody else to hate," says Fink
Kelly says he's pulling for Darryl to win the contract, because he wants to see what happens when Darryl meets (APA's) Faarooq & Bradshaw "in a professional setting. No cameras, of course. Darryl would remember that for a long time!"
Tazz reconnects just in time to say he's leaving, and that next week, "Tales from Toronto" would transform once again into "Tales from the Hook."
"What can we fans expect next week, Tazz?" asks Fink.
"I'll think of something, Fink," says Tazz with a laugh, and he leaves.
This week's "Pulp Fiction" treatment is "Pulp Fiction Unplugged."
We get a repeat of HHH's little "Reality Check" speech to the "Tough Enough" contestants about what being a professional wrestler really means.
Kelly says that HHH's speech should be required viewing for anyone who's thinking about becoming a pro wrestler.
"It's the best speech I've ever heard about being a prospective wannabe in this business," says Kelly.
Fink agrees, saying it doesn't get any better than that!
"I've been here a long time," says Fink, "and I have seen a lot. That speech was passionate and from the heart. Maybe it was deliberately done that way to scare some of the "Tough Enough" contestants.
"It apparently worked," says Kelly, "because it was the catalyst for contestant Jason, who left soon after."
And here's The Game himself, HHH, live on the phone.
HHH jokes with Kelly about Howard Finkel being the first employee of the WWF.
"When was that, Howie, the 1930's?" asks HHH with a laugh.
"Nah," says Fink, "The Civil War!"
"Oh yeah," says HHH, "he was there when they turned Pontius Pilate heel!"
This cracks up the entire studio.
"I remember that, HHH," says Fink, going along with the gag.
"Big angle back then," chuckles HHH.
Kelly asks how HHH is doing?
HHH says that he's working hard at his rehabilitation from his torn quadriceps, and is trying to return to the ring as fast as he can.
"I'm able to walk around on it a bit," says HHH, "and making good progress!"
(Screenshot of HHH's surgery is shown.)
Fink asks where HHH's doctors feel he is as regards full recovery?
HHH replies that they think he's ahead of schedule, but that he's not to try and push himself, possibly return to action, and not be fully healed. "If that happened," says HHH, " I could re-tear the muscle, and be right back where we started! So I think that late fall is when you can expect me back in the ring."
Kelly says that everybody is thinking about HHH and Chris Benoit and their respective injuries. HHH says that he talked to Benoit both before and after his surgery, and that he was in good spirits both times.
"I saw him just the other day," says HHH, "and he's raring to go. He's like an animal in the gym and his wrestling career. If he could, he'd be in the ring today. But his neck surgery was very extensive, and they've got him in this immovable support collar. Even so, he's been able to do some cardio training already!"
Kelly says that, what with all that's gone on in the WWF recently, it must be driving HHH crazy not being in the ring.
HHH says that it's been almost two and a half months since he's been home, and that he chose to go to the shows before he'd ever go home, it's such a big part of his life.
"Being back with the guys again, " says HHH, "and being able to help create again was just great."
Kelly asks if HHH ever "did a Steve (Austin) and throw his hat at the screen, while he was rehabbing?"
"During the first few weeks of rehab," says HHH with a laugh, "it was hard to watch the shows and not be bitter at myself for not being a part of it. But I rarely get to watch the shows as a fan, and this is my chance!"
Kelly segues nicely into a discussion of the new ECW "Invasion" angle, that has now completely changed.
HHH says that he was really impressed with the way it all played out.
"Paul Heyman and ECW," Says HHH, "were a huge factor in the business, a major key in changing the business into what it is today. Heyman is a visionary and a genius to do what he did, and he's a master of getting the most out of his talent..."
(Photomontage from last Monday's Raw of Heyman announcing the "Extreme" turn to the "Invasion.")
"...And adding him into this "Invasion" angle in "ECW mode" just makes it that much more viable to the WWF. It's very interesting, and, I believe, a great swerve to the whole thing."
Kelly tells HHH about the fan response flooding the email site for both Raw and Smackdown. "There was so much apathy with the WCW angle," he says, "that it was going nowhere. But this resurgence of ECW; love it or hate it, it's got everybody buzzing!"
HHH agrees. "It's one way or the other; you're either gonna hate it or love it, but you will be interested in it, and that's the biggest thing."
Kelly says that the callers are lined up to talk to HHH, and surprise, surprise, they appear to be all women!
Caller Three, Jessica, wants to know if HHH really does have an off-camera relationship with Stephanie McMahon?
HHH didn't hear the question, apparently, so Kelly repeats it, adding that it sounds like Jessica's angling for some action as Ms. Helmsley.
"Well, you know," says HHH (speaking of SMH, who now owns ECW), "with this whole Helmsley thing, I own fifty percent of it all, just remember that..."
(This cracks up everybody in the studio.)
"... so, y'know, depending upon how much money you got... I'M ALL IN FOR THE UPGRADE, Jessica!"
(In the background, Fink can be heard coughing loudly because he's been laughing so hard.)
"It might be tough to out-do the "Billion-Dollar Princess," says Kelly.
"Well, you gotta have all your ducks in a row," says HHH
Caller Four, Linda, wants to know if HHH "will ever consider becoming WWF Commissioner, way down the line, like after you retire from wrestling?"
"I would consider it," says HHH, "though I try not to think beyond my career in the ring at this point; I still have a long time to go. I'm just trying to get back in the ring right now. Some guys when they retire just walk away from it all, just go home and sit, and have nothing to do with it. I can't be that way. What I do is not just as a job. I honestly love the business, and being around it. So just because I may not physically be able to do it any more, I would still want to be around it, and do something with it, whether it's the Commissioner's spot or something else."
"By that time," says Kelly, "we'll all be wearing jet-packs, and our planet will be ruled by 'damn, dirty apes!"
"That might be better," laughs HHH.
Fink wants to know if HHH will know in his heart, mind and body, just when it will be time to hang it up? There are many people in this industry," says Fink, "who don't know when to hang it up; this is all they know how to do. Will you know when to hang it up, or will you push yourself beyond that time?"
"I think I'll know," says HHH, "I look at other guys in the business who should have retired, and went on too long, that you watch and say 'remember when...'
Kelly says that he remembers HHH saying that Ric Flair was a big influence on him, but that he felt that Flair just hung around too long."
HHH agrees, but says that he would "Watch Flair on WCW's programming towards the end of their run, and he was the only entertaining thing on there! I can't blame Flair for listening to a company that says 'we will pay you all this money if you stay in the ring, and then, at the same time look around and say, 'I'm better than all of these guys, anyway.' I can't blame him, though there is a part of me that says you have to know when it's your time. I'm an honest enough person with myself that I wouldn't just want to 'get by', and have people go 'he used to be pretty good." I don't want to get by on a name or a reputation. I want people to still see if it's good, and if it's not, I'll let somebody else be good."
Kelly asks HHH to comment on his "Reality Check" speech to the "Tough Enough" contestants, and the effect it had in causing Jason to drop out.
(Still photo of the Tough Enough show, with HHH giving his speech.)
HHH says he was shocked by the reaction the speech got, and that he never imagined that his words could have such an impact.
"If someone is trying to get into the business," says HHH, "then they should have the passion and the drive of the stars of the WWF, but sometimes that just isn't true. I went around afterwards, talking with some of them individually, asking them what they would do if they weren't chosen? The footage was cut out, but some of them replied that they'd go back to their old job, and do whatever. I was expecting them to say that they'd do whatever it takes to get into the WWF, even if they failed "Tough Enough!" One of the girls who dropped out,
said that she had never failed! She just decided 'hey, I can do that. I've never failed at anything!' That just blew my mind!
"People should look at our sport as just that," he continues, " but also that it is theater, with great actors. It's a mixture of the two.
Kelly gets back on Darryl's case once more, reiterating that he stinks!
"What would you do with Darryl, Hunter?" asks Kelly.
"I'd make him tag with Vader," says HHH, " that way, Vader could give him that rash he gave everybody else!"
Fink recalls the segment following HHH's speech where, Darryl was clowning around after HHH left.
HHH says that, from what he's seen of the show, there isn't a segment where Darryl doesn't show his ass.
"HE is a complete goof," says HHH, "No heart. No desire. He talks trash all day and has nothing to back it up!"
Kelly gets in a cheap shot against Darryl's alma mater, Northern Michigan. "I could have walked there and played!"
Kelly says he just wants Darryl in the WWF locker room, with the cameras off, and see what happens.
"Even if Darryl makes it and gets the WWF contract,' continues HHH, "he wouldn't last five minutes in the WWF locker room. He'd end up beat up, humiliated, and everything you could think of."
Kelly shifts the topic to WWF Champ Steve Austin, and the strange side of him that we are currently seeing.
(Still photo of Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, both wearing their cowboy hats. Angle looks ridiculous, as usual.)
"I just can't figure out what Austin's gonna throw at us next," says HHH. "It's highly entertaining, and we are seeing a side of Austin no one's ever seen before. It's a huge departure from his former character that has many fans talking about what may be coming next."
A dive into the email bag has a poignant request from Theresa, who says she's getting ready for surgery next Thursday on an injury almost the same as yours, and it's scaring the wits out of her. "Any pointers on the rehab, since it's almost the same thing you went through?"
"Theresa hurt her leg punching Jericho in the back of the head?" asks HHH, which cracks everybody up, "I hope she got a good shot in!"
"Seriously," he continues, "the first week is gonna be tough! But you just gotta keep your head up and take it one day at a time. If you say "I gotta endure THIS for six months?" you'll go nuts. Just take it one day at a time, and tell yourself that tomorrow's gonna get better than today. I'm in a lotta pain today, but tomorrow the pain will be less. Just keep going. It's all mental. You can handle the pain, because they give you stuff to handle the pain, but you just have to be willing to put in the time and the effort to make a full recovery. It's not allowing yourself to be beaten."
Fink says that, with HHH's rehabilitation, he's an armchair quarterback now. What's his take on what has transpired in the WWF as of late?
"I haven't been gone two months, and it's a completely different place," says HHH. "If you asked anybody a year ago if WCW, ECW, and the WWF would all be competing for time on the same show, they'd have said you were crazy! It's interesting, and getting more interesting by the day. It's something no wrestling fan ever dreamed he'd see happen. And whether or not the fans like it or hate it, they can't say they aren't intrigued by what's going on! This is gonna be a strong angle for a long time to come!"
Kelly remarks that, because of the way the angle is playing out, we are seeing a lot more exposure for characters that haven't gotten a lot of late, such as Raven, Tazz, and Justin Credible, plus they are bringing in Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam.
"It'll give an opportunity to a lot more people in the long run," says HHH. "This business is big enough for more than one group of guys."
(Screen shot of Tommy Dreamer and RVD's run-in on Raw, and the ECW roster in the ring afterwards.)
Kelly asks if, because of the depth and size of the current roster, some of the wrestlers could take some time off?
HHH replies that sure he'd love some time off, he hasn't had a break in seven and a half years, except for this injury.
Kelly asks if any stars stand out to HHH?
HHH replies that he's seen a lot of guys from WCW, and of course, ECW who fit the bill.
"I'm very impressed with Tajiri, even though he's decided to stay with the WWF," says HHH, " and, in WCW, O'Haire, Palumbo, and Shawn Stasiak.
"There's a lot of WCW wrestlers who've been given only limited opportunity in their careers,' he continues, "I just hope that they see what is in front of them. Don't be a Bagwell. Don't piss on the business that's giving you the opportunity, and think you're better and greater than anybody else."
Were you surprised at how quickly Bagwell got canned?" asks Kelly.
"I was surprised it didn't happen the week before!" says HHH with a laugh. "I saw that coming. I haven't spoken to Buff Bagwell since I was there, but I've heard from a lot of people that that's just the way he is, and that his attitude wouldn't make it in our business. He was gonna get on the office bad enough that they would have run him out, or the boys would have run him out."
"A cumulative effort, huh?" asks Kelly.
"Yeah," says HHH, "though remember, I wasn't around for most of it, so most of what I got is second hand. The way things are in the WWF, they aren't gonna allow attitudes like that to ruin what we've all worked so hard to achieve, and the boys aren't gonna allow that, either."
"The biggest thing the WCW guys have is this opportunity," he continues, "and if they want to work hard, and don't have any ego, and are hungry, and take the time to listen and learn how the WWF does business, there's a lotta guys there who have the potential to be big names in the business!"
Fink wants to know HHH's take on Booker T and DDP, and if they can continue to take the ball and run with it for WCW like they have been?
"Sure," says HHH, "both guys have tremendous ability, and tremendous talent, and have the potential to be even bigger than where they are, and stay on top. My question to them is, one how badly do they want it" and two, at what level are they willing to change from the way they were in the old WCW to what is expected of them in the WWF? The longer the stripes have been there, the harder they are to get off!"
Kelly wonders if they are indeed, able to change?
HHH responds by saying it looks like 'yes', but only time will tell.
"I don't want it to sound like they are all on trial or anything," he continues, " but it's just a fact of the business and the way it works. If they are able to adapt to the WWF's style, which has been successful, then they will continue to remain where they are. If not, they'll find their place in the roster."
Kelly asks if HHH has the weekend off.
HHH says no, he's on a seven-day-a-week rehab schedule now, which draws gasps of disbelief from all involved, including yours truly.
"No time off at all," he says.
Kelly wants to know if, with there now being only one company, the WWF, will there be opportunities for young wrestler prospects, or is that door now closed?
"This business is like a voracious animal that eats up talent," says HHH, " and there will always be spots available for those who have the talent and the drive to succeed. The WWF is THE league, and with WCW and ECW included, that's a lot of spots. Who knows, WCW and ECW may brand off into their own shows later.
"What's worrying these young guys," HHH says, "is that the free meal and free ride they have been getting is going to stop. There are guys in the business who just started, who never had a clue about wrestling, but somebody looked at them and said 'This guy was an All-American, or looked good at an Indy show, then we took these guys because we didn't want anybody else to have them. They'd get a developmental deal, and would go to the territory, and learn how to wrestle. It was a pretty decent deal. That's gonna stop because it's gonna fail. It will wee out the free rides, the guys who were just in it for the paycheck, and will leave the guys who are serious about becoming professional wrestlers. You are not gonna get people who say, 'Well, I just saw it on TV and I've never failed at anything before."
Now you are gonna get guys who say, "I don't care if I make $25 and sleep in my car, and drive two thousand miles in a week's time, and go to all of these shows and get my ass kicked every night. Because, no matter what, I will make it in this business, and I will reap the benefits of my efforts." You are gonna weed out the people who are saying, "Hell, these guys are gonna pay me a decent salary, and I'm gonna go down here, and be home every night, and travel to these little shows, and eventually, they will call me up and I'll go work for the WWF, and be a big huge star.
"These guys aren't paying any dues," HHH continues, " I've seen it in their attitudes, and I wonder, 'why shouldn't they have attitudes?' They're making the money already and they don't have a clue. You're gonna cut all that stuff out.
"Well, it's a rough business, and they will get weeded out, and you'll get better people with a greater appreciation of what it means to be a professional, just better quality."
Kelly thanks HHH for coming by, and wishes him a speedy recovery.
"When I do come back," says HHH, "be ready!"
The answer to this week's "Outthink the Fink" question is "Tor Kamata was Pat Patterson's opponent in 1980 at Shea Stadium, and the winner is George Eichardt from Richmond, VA, and wins the Chris Benoit T-shirt.
Kelly jokes that George's name should be George Hebner, because it's easier to pronounce.
This of course, allows Kelly to shill for the Earl Hebner v. Nick Patrick Referee Match, at "Invasion."
"Who will have the heart attack first?" laughs Kelly, "that is the question?"
Fink draws Kelly's attention to their guest for next week.
It's Vincent K. McMahon!
Dead silence in the studio for a moment, broken by Kevin Kelly saying he's got some vacation time coming, and he may take it next week.
Fink gives the Byte This! producers credit for booking Mr. McMahon two days before the important "Invasion" PPV.
Kelly says it'll sure be entertaining and that we fans don't want to miss it.
I sure won't!
See you next week.
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