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WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer




This is the WWF Byte This! report for Friday, 8 March 2002, and I'm E.C.

We are nine days away from Wrestlemania X-8.
There are four matches booked for certain.
The fifth is on in all but name.
They've got four hours to fill.
You get the feeling that this next week is going to be a hectic one indeed for the WWF.

The Guest on today's show should have all the answers.
It's Vince McMahon.

Prior to today's show, we get a thirty second spot for Wrestlemania X-8.

Opening credits.
Honest, that look of Steve Austin's when the nun pinches his face is just priceless.
Ric Flair looks like he's in need of an in-seam adjustment.
Or a truss.

Kevin Kelly is here.
Howard Finkel's on the road, so, for the second week running, Dr. Tom Prichard is co-hosting.
It being so close to Wrestlemania, the guys want your predictions as to outcomes of the different bouts.

Kelly gets the ball rolling by going over the Wrestlemania card. He then shifts to the fifth match, as-yet unsigned, between the Undertaker and Ric Flair.
Dr. Tom says that 'Taker's made the match happen, despite Ric Flair not wanting to fight.
"But, 'Taker's actions against Arn Anderson and Flair's son David have forced Flair to accept the match. Last night in San Antonio, while in pursuit of the Undertaker, Flair snapped and walloped a fan at ringside
"That got him arrested, of course, but did you notice the Undertaker lurking and watching as the cops took Flair away in handcuffs?"

Kelly says that he thinks 'Taker might have set the whole arrest thing up, staging it to make sure that Flair's really got a "lot on his mind" now!
But, 'Taker's now saying that maybe he doesn't want to wrestle Ric Flair. We'll see what happens."

Kelly and Dr. Tom shill for the Wrestlemania event itself and the streaming video PPV on the 'Net.

To the phones, and Rob in California, who says that Hogan will beat the Rock because Kevin Nash has no match, and will be available to lurk at ringside and lend a hand if needed.
Kelly scoffs at that possibility.
Rob rejoins by saying that Hogan's got something to prove to the fans after his last Wrestlemania, the one where the Ultimate Warrior beat him.
Dr. Tom doesn't think the Rock will be intimidated at all by Hogan. "The Rock has everything to gain," says Dr. Tom, "while Hogan's got everything to lose if the Rock beats him."
Kelly says that, if the Rock doesn't defeat Hogan, it will lead to a more intensified effort on the Rock's part to do just that.

Time for "Droz's Two Cents," Darren Drozdov's weekly review of all things WWF.
Droz was impressed with Scott Hall's performance facing the Rock.
"I was hesitant to say that Hall would be able to work a match to that level," says Droz, "besides, that warm-up against Spike Dudley on Smackdown didn't really give any indication of what Hall's condition was. But he looked really good out there. I was impressed. Because of his fine showing, Hall v. Austin will be more of a match than I thought it would be."
Kelly says that he wasn't all that impressed talking with Scott Hall on last week's show, but that he was surprised how good a shape Scott Hall was in, coming down the ramp on Monday.
"I thought the product was going to suffer," says Kelly, "and Wrestlemania was going to suffer as a result. But Hall showed a lot of fire on Monday's show, and impressed the hell out of me. He looks to be in great shape, so I have a new-found respect for Scott Hall."
Kelly asks Droz's opinion about Hall's chances facing Steve Austin at Wrestlemania?
Droz says that, despite Hall's match with the Rock, he still is not convinced that Hall can do a match of thirty minutes or more duration.
"How he does in a long match like that, facing Steve Austin, will determine where his career goes after Wrestlemania," says Droz. "If it's a lackluster performance, his career could taker a nosedive, or, if he does well, then his career will keep going for quite a bit longer."

Caller Jordan from New York disagrees with previous caller Rob.
"The Rock will definitely beat Hogan because he's the "People's Champion, says Jordan, "Hogan is not young. He may have the experience, but it'll take more than a body-slam and a Leg Drop to beat the Rock."
Kelly sneers that Jordan thinks the Rock's "devastating 'People's Elbow' will put Hogan down?"
"The Rock Bottom will put Hogan down," replies Jordan.
Dr. Tom agrees with Jordan, citing Hogan's age and lack of recent ring time.
"But," Dr. Tom continues, "Hogan didn't get to be the legend he is by stepping back and letting guys walk all over him. The Rock knows this, and will get in that ring knowing what he has to do."
Jordan gets a bit tongue-tied at this point, but Kelly's got a show to do, and no patience, so he cuts Jordan short with a snide remark. He then hangs up on Jordan.

Kelly and Droz both take it to Dr. Tom for bailing out when the Undertaker came calling and, ummm, "Helped Out" with David Flair's practice session.
Dr. Tom says he's paid to train, not stand between a rampaging Undertaker and his prey.
"Sometimes," he says, "you have to get punked out in life. Right then, it was David Flair's time. If you want to pull a comeback on the Undertaker, be my guest. I've already paid my dues, pal!"

(Dr. Tom's getting hotter by the minute at Kelly.)
"So if you want to go the Undertaker and knock him out, just go ahead!!"

"Why get so worked up over this, Tom?" asks Kelly.

(While this heated exchange is in progress, we see video of the incident on the chyron.)

"Because I'm not gonna take a punch on the jaw for David Flair, that's why!" growls Dr. Tom.
"He's the son of Ric Flair, though!"
"So he's the son of Ric Flair!" says Dr. Tom.

(Chyron shows 'Taker picking up Dr. Tom and tossing him aside to get to David Flair.)

Hey," says Kelly, "what's this? Aren't you two Houston boys?"
"Yeah, so Undertaker and I are from Houston," says Dr. Tom, "what of it? It's the UNDERTAKER, man! What could I do? What do you want me to do?"

Kelly suggests to Byte This! producer "Big Country" that they should try to get Ronnie from Rogersville, Tennessee on the phone again this week.

(Ronnie was a hoot of a guest from last week's show. Remember the kid from the front porch in the movie "Deliverance?" Uh huh!)

"If you can get him, Country," says Kelly, "how about we put him on with Mr. McMahon?"

Droz is asked about the ongoing messy "division of property" between HHH and his ex-, Stephanie.
"The car was the first thing split fifty-fifty," says Kelly, as the chyron shows an enraged Stephanie howling in front of her sawn-in-half vintage Chevy Corvette, "What's next? The dog?"
Droz sees the breakup angle as a good thing, because it's really helped out several of the storylines, "and with Jericho in the mix, it'll get real interesting. When I saw that half a car, I laughed my ass off!"
Dr. Tom throws out the fishhook by asking Droz if he thinks Stephanie and Chris Jericho are becoming an item.
"Wooo!" says Droz, clearly not wanting to go THERE, "I don't know about that..."
"But last night was the first time they clearly hugged each other," persists Dr. Tom.
"First time we've SEEN them hug," corrects Kelly.
"Could Stephanie be looking that way?" asks Dr. Tom.
"She could be," says Droz, "but Jericho's got his sights set on retaining the Unified Title. He will use Stephanie to get what he wants. Look, all the time he's putting up with her antics, he's thinking, 'I can peel her a layer at a time to get all the info I need on HHH.' Once he's gotten past Wrestlemania and the Title is safe, her usefulness is over. Then, we'll see Jericho go back to attacking Stephanie just like before. At least, I hope that's what happens."

They continue to work the card.
Droz thinks Regal/ RVD is a clash of different wrestling styles, but should be a good match.
"Any match that RVD is in should be pure dynamite!" says Droz.

Droz winds his segment up and leaves the show.

ScoobyDoo in the Byte This! ChatRoom says that HBK/Razor Ramon was one of the greatest matches of WM 10; why can't Scott Hall do it again, and have the lightning strike twice?
Kelly says that HBK/Ramon was eight years ago, and reiterates his comments about Hall from earlier in the program.
Dr. Tom says that comments like Kelly's will be what drives Scott Hall to give 110% in his match with Austin, to prove that he still has what it takes to be a champion.

Caller Andy from Michigan's prediction about HHH/Jericho gets shortstopped by Kelly reading a snide ChatRoom question involving Dr. Tom and Missy Hyatt.

Andy's prediction has HHH Pedigreeing Jericho and Stephanie several times, and then shooting Jericho in the head.
Three times.
"Three in the head, you know they're dead!' says Andy.
"Uhh," says Dr. Tom, "that would be the first time firearms would be displayed at Wrestlemania..."

Andy starts babbling about past Wrestlemanias, and gets the "F" word in.
Kelly and Andy start talking about "Man-Ass, " and Kelly gets Andy to admit he's gay.
"The world is now wide open to people like you, Andy," says Kelly, as Dr. Tom is losing his composure big time. "You can live life to the fullest!"
"Hey, thank you!" says Andy, before Kelly cuts him off.

"Boy, did we get Mensa's phone list," asks Kelly, "because only the "smart" ones are calling, and they are making Ronnie look pretty damn smart right about now?"

(Author's note: Pay close attention to this next segment. You'll learn something about the way the WWF works.)

Dan from New York decries the fact that there are just nine days left before Wrestlemania, "the biggest event of the year, and there are only four or five matches put together so far. It's a huge complaint, and I'm not the only one. There are a lot of fans all across the Internet who feel the same way."

"Somehow," says Kelly, in a VERY flippant tone, "I think we'll pull it all together."

Kelly asks if Dan's ordered Wrestlemania yet, thinking he'll prove Dan to be a fan who won't put his money where his mouth is.
"I'm going to Wrestlemania," says Dan smugly.

"You're...going?" gulps Kelly.
"And to WWF Axxess, as well. I'll be there in the SkyDome," says Dan loftily.
"Yeah...but...uhh," (Kelly's trying to recover,) "But, say if you were buying the event on PPV, would the fact that there are only four booked matches keep you from ordering it? As awesome as those matches are, is that enough to entice the buyers?"

"Probably," says Dan, "After all, it IS Wrestlemania. I'll either buy it, or I'll go to a friend's house and watch it with him. I will be at a place to watch Wrestlemania. I'd pay the forty bucks just for Rock/Hogan."

"And that's the reason why," says Kelly, "we're nine days out, and we are only promoting the four matches that are booked. The majority of people are not going to buy Wrestlemania because they find out that Booker T or Kurt Angle or Edge are going to be on the program. They aren't in the main storyline as far as this Event is concerned."

(This is the most backwards, half-assed way of booking a show that I've ever heard, and no answer at all from Kevin Kelly! This reasoning presumes that nothing will happen to Hogan or Rock or any of the other wrestlers involved in the four matches booked. There's nine days left. What if HHH's quad gives way during a workout? What if Hall goes on a bender? What if Hogan steps in front of a bus? This is Wrestlemania, dog-gone it, and you don't book Wrestlemania ON THE FLY! Not only is it dangerous because you don't have fallback matches if any of the above happens, but it makes the WWF look completely unprofessional. I have been saying all along that this booking from PPV to PPV will get the WWF in trouble; it just might do that in spades if anything "untoward" should happen to any of the principles.
And another thing. How do you think having their matches booked at the last moment for the WWF's Biggest Event is going to make the rest of the WWF locker room feel? Especially, how would Booker T, etc. feel?

I know how I'd feel:
"Passed Over.")

Dan suggests a Four Corners Tag match for Wrestlemania.
Kelly says that's a good idea.
Dr. Tom says that the entire WWF locker room competes all year for the honor of a spot on the Wrestlemania card.
"Some of the match-ups will be a big surprise," he says.

Kelly asks Dan to comment about Hogan/Rock.
"I think it will be a true test for Hogan," says Dan, " we will see if he can run with one of the best-conditioned athletes in the WWF, who has one of the biggest fan-bases in the WWF.
"If the casual fans watching Wrestlemania see that Hogan isn't the Hulk Hogan they remember, who can't 'Go One-on-One-With-the Great One,' they're gonna turn off their TV sets, and that'll be a big problem for the WWF.
"Hogan's gotta step up.
"If the story is that Hogan and the NWO are invading the WWF and trying to kill it, what better way to do it than to destroy the Rock at Wrestlemania to give these three guys even more credibility than they had before?"

Dr. Tom asks what the consequences would be for the Rock if he beat Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania?
"If the Rock beats Hogan," says Dan, "it will be THE biggest win of the Rock's career. The torch will have been passed, as it were. I don't know if the Rock needs that win as much as Hulk Hogan needs it to get back into his groove at the WWF.
"What I would really love to see the Rock just go out there and badmouth Hogan on Raw the next night. It would bring out some of the Rock's former heel -like tendencies. Then, well, maybe the Rock could join up with the NWO at a later date."

Kelly asks Dan's thoughts on HHH/Jericho.
Dan says that Jericho's having a good Title run, despite what other people say. "The only problem I see," says Dan, "is that he's beginning to look like Stephanie's lackey. For the story line to pan out correctly, Stephanie should dump Jericho, and all this running around he's done for her comes back to haunt him. Stephanie goes back to HHH, or Jericho's lost every last ounce of credibility in the fans eyes. From what's being presented, it looks like Jericho already knows he can't beat HHH, and that's no way for the Undisputed Champ to act this close to Wrestlemania."

Dan departs, as Kelly shills for Wrestlemania in the UK.
It'll be on live at 1 AM over there and finish at 5 AM!

Joe from Illinois also thinks that Stephanie is stringing Jericho along, and that she will dump him and reconcile with HHH.
Kelly and Dr. Tom aren't so sure about that.
Stephanie's burned too many bridges with HHH, that sort of thing.

Tom from Buffalo NY is impressed with the Wrestlemania card, and wants to know which one will be the Match of the Show? Additionally, what came from the talks with Shawn Michaels in San Antonio?

Kelly says they have no info one way or the other about HBK, and that RVD/Regal could be the surprise match of the show.
Dr. Tom says that RVD and Regal have such contrasting styles that it will be a toss-up as to who will win that bout.

Elvia from Houston, TX, (Dr. Tom: "All RIGHT!") calls in, but she's listening to the show on the computer rather than to her phone. We get a good lesson in advanced particle physics proving the speed of light, because we can hear the Byte This! show on Elvia's computer in the background, about five seconds behind what's being broadcast in the studio.
"Houston, we have a problem," says Dr. Tom.
Elvia can't get it connected, so Kelly hangs up on her.

"Not everybody from Houston is an idiot, Kev," says Dr. Tom, who should know.

The ChatRoom wants to know if Chris Leary (sp?) is BC's mom's love child, which gets a snort of outrage from Big Country.

Duane from Michigan is next, talking about Hall/Austin.
Austin's gonna kill Hall, according to Duane.
Dr. Tom disagrees, saying that this will be Scott Hall's big chance.

BirDog in the ChatRoom says Kelly & Dr. Tom are just making excuses for the Creative Team, and that he won't be buying Wrestlemania this year.

It's time for Tazz with another "Tales from the Hook."
Dr. Tom can't wait; this is his favorite part of the show.
Tazz is out of the Hook today; he's right near Kelly and Dr. Tom, too.
He's doing some stuff for the WWF studio today. He does NOT want to come by, since Mr. McMahon will be there, and "bad things happen when Mr. McMahon is around.
"'Avoid the Boss' is what I do," says Tazz, "at ECW, it was ANNOY the Boss."
Tazz shills his T-shirt, available at WWF ShopZonedotcom. Go buy one. Now.
Tazz says that Hogan/Rock will be the Rock all the way.
"A helluva matchup, one for the books. This BirDog guy who won't buy Wrestlemania is a complete fool dummy. It's THE show of the year, and I don't know why any fan would NOT buy it and still call himself a fan."
Kelly says Tazz is mad at him because he's been honest about Tazz. Tazz decides not to air his dirty laundry on the air.

HHH/Jericho should be great.
"Stephanie's tough to work for," says Tazz, "I know, she was my boss in ECW for a while. Jericho's looking for every advantage here, and I think he'll get it."

Kelly says Tazz is a warm, loving person who likes flowers.
Tazz agrees with Kelly for once, and leaves the show.

Break time, and we get the video of the McMahon tirade from Smackdown that sets up the Rock/Austin v. the NWO handicap Match on Raw.
The "What?" chants are deafening.

Live in Byte This! studio is Vincent K. McMahon.

Kelly is fawning all over Vince.
Dr. Tom looks like somebody just put an annoyed tarantula in the seat next to him.

"I'm a rose between two thorns, hahaha," Says Vince.

McMahon says that Rock & Austin will get their mustard cut by the NWO on Raw.
Kelly ventures that the Rock and Austin both have confidence...

"The Rock has EGO," corrects Vince, "Austin has confidence."

Dr. Tom asks Vince if it looks like the Rock is not backing down from the Hulkster?
"It's all ego," says Vince, "challenging Hogan while in an injured state is all ego. That's why it'll take somebody the caliber of Hogan to crush that ego of the Rock's at Wrestlemania."

Kelly says that the Rock was giving a good account of himself against Hall...
"It was big of Hogan not to take advantage of the Rock's injuries, wasn't it?" retorts Vince.
"It wasn't pride on the Rock's part?" asks Kelly.
"No," says Vince, "just ego."

Vince says that he makes all his decision for the business purely pragmatically.
"What the fans want to see," says Vince, "is what I base my decisions on."

Vince says that Nash and Hall got bored in WCW, and allied with Hogan to form the NWO as a "breath of fresh air" over there.
"Now they are here," says Vince, "and it'll be the same fresh air, with the NWO kicking ass and taking names all over again."

Vince also says that the Internet World makes things up about Hall and Nash.
"They did not want to leave the WWF like the 'Net says," relates Vince, "I would have done anything at that time to take care of them, but the WWF was set up differently, and that was something I couldn't do. Ted Turner's checkbook back then was just too big. They made a business decision. They had and have an attitude. So do I, if you've noticed."

Kelly asks Vince's opinion on the Austin/Hall match.
"Austin/Hall will be a career changer for both participants," says McMahon.
"This is a competitive environment, and like it or not, personal problems must be overcome if you are to succeed. That's just the way this business is. Life is what you make of it. Comes show time, and, well, you have no problems."

Dr. Tom says that Vince seems to thrive on controversy, and segues nicely into HHH/Jericho, asking Vince if Jericho will win the match?
"Let's not forget how Jericho got to this match," says Vince, "he beat Rock and Austin to become the Undisputed Champ. Stephanie in his corner is a big plus. And HHH must deep down still harbor affection for Stephanie. Otherwise, he wouldn't have taken the high school graduation present of a sixteen-year-old girl and split that car in two. That shows true love."

Dr. Tom and Kelly exchange looks.
"Uhh, I guess that's one way to look at it," says Dr. Tom.

Kelly wants to know what Jericho still has to do to earn respect?
Vince says that fighting to earn respect is wrong.
"Do the best you can, and to hell with LOOKING for respect," says Vince, "it'll come looking for you."

Kelly brings up Ric Flair facing the Undertaker, and gets in a sneak compliment to Vince for his great match at the Royal Rumble.
Vince says that getting into the ring with Ric Flair was an honor, even though "He's a cheating S.O.B! I can get "flexible" with the rules on occasion, but not like Ric Flair can. As for this match, Ric Flair went far beyond abiding by the rules of good conduct when he punched out a fan at ringside and got arrested. No WWF superstar, no Wrestling Legend, should ever act that way."

Dr. Tom says that there really isn't that much difference between Ric Flair and Vince McMahon.
Vince volunteers to take his shirt off, which gets a big laugh from Kelly and Dr. Tom.
"I put my life on the line for this company on numerous occasions," says Vince, "Ric Flair has never done that. He came in on Easy Street, buying my kids' stock and becoming part owner of MY company. We are two VERY different human beings."

"David Flair was beaten up by the Undertaker in my presence," says Dr. Tom.
"Glad to see that you are all right, Tom," says Vince.
"Huh? Oh, thanks," says Dr. Tom, "but what if it was Stephanie or Shane who got beat up like David Flair did? Wouldn't you react the same way that Ric Flair did?"

"I'd look at it more pragmatically than Ric Flair would, okay?' retorts Vince, "My daughter and son chose this profession and everything that goes with it. David Flair is in the same situation. It's the life he's chosen. I have a big problem with Ric Flair, who, as an owner, has stepped far beyond the realm of where an owner should be. He has made this personal between himself and the Undertaker. He has an obligation to the stockholders, and I intend to take immediate action on this at Wrestlemania."

Kelly asks about the rumored appearances of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania.
Vince says that Shawn Michaels will be at Wrestlemania, including the WWF Axxess for the fans, but has no information as to whether he will be a part of the action.
Bret Hart declined his invitation publicly in his wrestling column, so he won't be at the show.

Kelly asks Vince's thoughts of the "Desire" videos.
"It was cool," says Vince, "a part of my personal history. I remember the enormous contributions of those past superstars every time I see those videos."

Dr. Tom begins telling Vince of Kelly's comments about missing royalty checks on last week's show, and his extensive knowledge of the drug dealers outside the Tampa, FL Sportatorium, but Kelly quickly cuts him off.

Anthony from Atlanta ("You liked my shirt, right?" asks Vince) wants to know what role will Stephanie play in the HHH/Y2J match?
"She will be in Y2J's corner, and will see to it that he retains the Unified Title," says Vince, "Next caller, please."
"Yeah, Country," chimes in Kelly, "Hurry up with those calls. Mr. McMahon's waiting!"

Kelly asks Vince's opinion of those on the Internet who criticize Stephanie and the rest of the Creative Team for the job they do.

(Or lack of it.)

Vince chuckles, saying that he's happy with the Internet folks and with the Creative Team.
"I'm just happy as can be with everybody," says Vince, "I'm a happy guy."
Kelly gets in a dig on Paul Heyman and we get the obligatory "Weekly Snide Comment About Heyman's Skullet" routine, but no Skullet pic on the chyron.

Melanie from West Virginia calls in ("Will Melanie have teeth?" asks Vince) to ask if the WWF will expand into Japan, possibly through the purchase of FMW?
Vince says that the WWF is a worldwide brand.
The Japanese fans are usually more reserved, but love the Western culture, as they did in Malaysia and Singapore.
"The "What?" chant was heard a lot," says Vince, "but that "Asshole" chant came out sort of funny!"

Kelly asks about the rumored roster split.
Vince corrects him, calling it a "brand extension," saying that there just wasn't enough time to make room for new stars coming in. The extension has no time line, though they've been talking about it for some time.
"Mr. Flair may want to head up one of the brands, but he will surely fall on his ass," says Vince, "I on the other hand, have proven myself as a businessman and as a leader."

Kelly asks about the William Regal v. RVD match for the IC Title.
Vince says that Regal will retain the Title because of his experience in big situation, and it is RVD's first Wrestlemania, so there could be some butterflies.
"Regal is very deliberate,' says Vince, "and by the way, he could give two hoots about the "Boring!' chants. He's going to slow RVD down, and set him up for the big fall. Then, POW!"
Dr. Tom says that RVD had better find a counter for Regal's "Power of the Punch."

Mike from New York wants to know if they've decided on an opponent for Kevin Nash on Wrestlemania?
"Nash is an Equal Opportunity Offender, " says Vince, "so you'll just have to be patient."

Sheldon from Massachusetts calls in, but is also listening to the show on the computer, and gets dumped.
"I'm beggin' ya, Country..." whines Kelly.
"Good thing you screen these calls, huh?" says Vince sarcastically, "real professional operation you got here."
Dr. Tom brings up Ronnie from Tennessee, the mention of which makes Vince laugh uproariously.
Kelly shoots Dr. Tom a dirty look.

Matt from Vancouver wants to know "aboot" the tag team situation, and why it got pulled from the WWF website?
"APA lost their chance at Billy and Chuck at the Friendly Tap," says Vince, "so we have to make a few modifications here. Who knows what we will come up with?"
"Over and "oot!" says Kelly.

Kelly shills the international fanbase that'll be showing up in Toronto.
Dr. Tom asks if Vince will be seeing some action at Wrestlemania?
Vince chuckles, and says that he doesn't like to show up some of the talent when he takes his shirt off in the ring.
(The chyron shows Vince ready for action against Ric Flair at the Royal Rumble.)
"I could be in action, if needed," says Vince.
"It could be you being up to the challenge of Mr. McMahon, Dr. Tom?" says Kelly.
"Uh, yeah," says Dr. Tom, "and it could also be somebody flying out of your ass, too, Kev!"

Tom from Milwaukee also likes Vince's shirt and says Vince should seriously consider bringing back Tom's cousin, Bastion Booger.
"He's a helluva guy," says Vince, "he's gotta lose some weight, though. Helluva performer, a great collegiate wrestler, a super guy."

Tom wants to know what the one gimmick is that Vince would like to bring back?
"Hang onto your hat, " says Vince, "The GobbledyGooker!"
"Yessss!" says Dr. Tom.
"How about the Gimmick Battle Royal?" asks Kelly, which gets approval all around.

A ChatRoomer wants to know what A Wrestlemania Day is like for Vince McMahon?
"Exhilaration, mostly," says Vince, "I'm the biggest fan I know of our product. The challenge to produce a bigger spectacle than last year, along with the fan buzz and last minute chaos...there's nothing to compare with it anywhere else. It is a very challenging day."

Kelly asks if Vince ever takes a day off?
"Why do you want to take a day off from something that you love?" asks Vince.
"It's the biggest high in the world when WWF fans show their appreciation. I tell the wrestlers that when they give everything they have, it's never enough. You've always go to up it."

Dr. Tom asks if this is why each Wrestlemania is never "The Best?"
"Take last year in Houston," says Vince, "if you had told me that this year's show would be featuring a match between the Rock and Hulk Hogan, I would have laughed in your face."

Kelly asks if HHH and Stephanie's difficulties have taken away the respect Vince had for HHH?
"I have no respect from HHH because he didn't pay Stephanie enough attention and respect," says Vince.
"Would you consider Stephanie to be a "high maintenance" wife?" asks Kelly.
"By no means," responds Vince, "all HHH had to do was shower her with love, and she'd be a mellow little flower."
"I've heard Stephanie McMahon called a lot of things, " says Kelly, "but never that!"
"Obviously," says Vince, "you don't know the real Stephanie."
"Possibly not," says Dr. Tom.
"The things those fans call her..." says Vince.
"Does it bother you?"
"It's her problem," says Vince, "again, this is the field she's chosen. She has to fend for herself."

Kelly runs the Wrestlemania card once more, then shills Fan Axxess.
Vince says that Fan Axxess is just wild.
"New exhibits this year," says Vince, "and a chance for the fans to get close to the WWF superstars, and the memorabilia from the Hall of Fame, like Andre's cast..."
"...and your Corvette that Stone Cold Steve Austin filled up with concrete?" asks Kelly.

Vince gives Kelly "The Look."
"You see, Vince," says Dr. Tom, "Kelly's always saying stuff like that. First it was that crack about the royalty checks, and now this!"
"It was a beautiful car," says Kelly, trying to extract his foot from his mouth, "it was amazing how much concrete Stone Cold was able to pour into...uh..."

"You work with this guy every week, Tom?" asks Vince.
"...the, uhh, the windows blew out..." falters Kelly.
"No," says Dr. Tom, "Howard does."
"(!) Am I wearing Howard's headset?" asks Vince with some alarm.
"No," says Dr. Tom, "I'm wearing Howard's."
"We disinfect after every show," chimes in Kelly, who then proceeds to pass along Howard Finkel's condolences to Vince for not being on today's show, and also to thank Vince for the twenty five years of service Howard has been able to provide for the WWF.
Vince, still less than impressed, and still eyeing Kelly, tells him to thank Howard when he sees him.

UPN has the WWF Divas Special "Sex on the Beach" the Wednesday before Wrestlemania.
Vince is enthusiastic about it, and tells Dr. Tom to check it out, pointedly ignoring Kelly.
Dr. Tom says he will indeed.

Kelly asks Vince to recall the great moments from Wrestlemania.
"Hogan and Andre, of course," says Vince, "though I never thought I'd see the match between Rock and Hogan. That should be a great match, one for the books."

Kelly segues this into a plug for Sunday's "Weakest Link" show.
"How do you think you'd do on that show?" asks Kelly.
"That depends upon whether I took the host out for drinks before or after the show," chuckles Vince.
You find that little English lady attractive?" asks Kelly.
"When I see her," says Vince, "I sort of picture you in drag, Kevin."
"Wow!" says Dr. Tom.

(Kelly's got the "Gee, the boss got me," grin on his face.)

"Y'know," says Dr. Tom, "come to think of it..."
"She's a fine looking woman," begins Kelly attempting some sort of repartee.
"What?" asks Vince incredulously.
"Uh, she's a fine looking...uhh, woman?" ventures Kelly in a small voice.
"Does she remind you of Bob Costas?" asks Dr. Tom.
"I haven't had near the surgery Costas has," retorts Kelly

Brian from Vancouver asks what Vince has plans for the WCW video library?
"There are so many classic moments," says Vince, "We aren't sure how to integrate the archival footage into our product. They could be used as our own Classics network, or as education for the fans on the great contributions these superstars have made to our sport. It's in the works."

Dr. Tom asks about Dr. Jerry Graham.
"The most charismatic man in the business," says Vince, "he was outlandish, outrageous. Bleached blond hair, lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, driving around Washington, DC with teenager me riding shotgun. He was my hero. I even got my hair peroxided. My dad hit the roof. He really was someone to emulate."

Scott from New Orleans puts Vince over, saying that Vince made wrestling what it is today.
He has one complaint, though, about the lack of cruiserweight talent in the WWF.
Vince says that they've got big plans for the cruiserweight division, because they bring a whole new element to the ring.
Scott says he watched some other promotion's PPV recently just because they featured the cruiserweights.
"Also, is there any way I could become a WWF writer?" asks Scott, "I've done some fantasy wrestling writing, and I think I could be good at the real stuff."
"Sure, "says Vince, "contact H.R. here at the office, and send in your resume. We welcome anyone.
"Matter of fact," continues Vince, giving Kelly the stink-eye once more, "based on what I've seen right here today, a few new writers may be needed shortly here at the WWF..."
"Yeah, says Kelly quickly, "take care of THAT guy over there, (points at Big Country) and THAT guy over there (points to where trainee Seth Mates usually is)..."
"...and maybe a fresh announcer or two as well," finishes Vince, still boring holes into Kelly's carcass with his eyes.
"...need some new blood on the show, huh?" says Kelly weakly, giving Vince a "deer-caught-in-headlights" look.

Kelly quickly changes the subject to illusionist Chris Angel who has been performing at WWF New York of late.
Vince likes what Angel is capable of, and the persona he has.
"Angel is totally dedicated to pleasing his audience," says Vince, "Maybe we could do some crossover work with him?"
Kelly gets in a promo for seeing Wrestlemania at WWF NY.
Vince thinks that there might not be any more tickets left, "but if you want to give out old news, Kev, go right ahead."

Smackdown Records is shilled, as is Drowning Pool's appearance at Wrestlemania.

Kelly asks if Vince would like to be on Byte This! every week?
", Kevin?" asks Vince slowly, obviously not wanting to hear the answer.
"Not just me," says Kelly "Howard Finkel will be here as well!"
Vince sort of blanches, then says he'll have to check his schedule and get back to Kelly about that.
"I really appreciate the invitation, though, Kevin" says Vince with as smarmy a smile as Vince McMahon could give.

Kelly and Dr. Tom thank Vince for being on the show, and we close with a clip from last year's Wrestlemania, the "Father/Son Match" between Vince and son Shane McMahon, with Mick Foley as Special Referee.
"I'm gonna enjoy this," says Vince, "though the kid got lucky."
"Yeah, he had lightning in his pocket this one time only," retorts Kelly.

One more plug for Wrestlemania X-8 and we are done.

Incidentally, the "Father/Son Match" clip is a tour-de-force demonstration of just how much better Paul Heyman is as an announcer than Good Ol' Jim Ross. Heyman just dances around Ross's blather like Muhammad Ali facing Sonny Liston.

See you next week.

E.C. Ostermeyer
[slash] wrestling

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