|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer
We open with a vidclip from the Byte This! show of two weeks ago, where Steve Austin called the Raw show's writing "piss-poor and substandard. It's pretty shitty! Creative could be doing a lot better than it is."
This is the WWE Byte This report for Friday, 14 June 2002 and I'm E.C.
get talked over and interrupted by your hosts, Kevin Kelly and Dr. Tom Prichard. Especially Kelly, who is jabbering away like a granny on crystal meth.
Kelly opens the show by reading, verbatim if you please, the WWE's "Official Statement On Steve Austin's Unauthorized And Unapproved Departure From Last Monday Night's Raw Show," and great is the disruption to the WWE thereof.
(It says so right here.)
Kelly says that "Byte This! is once again at the center of the whole Austin controversy, a controversy that has caught everybody off guard."
Dr. Tom says that Austin is always outspoken, but that in this case, actions have spoken louder than words.
"You never know what is going to happen next with Austin," says Dr. Tom, "the rest of the roster is wondering what is next for Stone Cold, for Vince, for the entire WWE!"
Kelly says the Byte This! ChatRoom is just boiling over with comments from concerned fans.
Byte This! producer "Big Country" says that the system is handling the load. For now.
We go to the phones.
Regular caller Dan from Chicago is frustrated with the whole deal.
"Yes, the writing could be better, " says Dan, "but if I walk out on MY job, I...get...fired!"
Kelly shills the "WWE Confidential" show where both Vince McMahon and Jim Ross will discuss the Austin situation at length, and all will be revealed.
(Bobby "The Brain" Heenan will also be on the show. Knowing Heenan, he may upstage both Vince, JR, and the whole "Austin Walkout" bit.)
Kelly asks Dan, if he were Vince, would he give Austin a pass on this incident?
Dan says he would.
"Austin is an icon, a legend," says Dan, "and you don't fire a legend."
Dr. Tom wonders why Austin left without telling anybody?
Dan wasn't aware of that fact, and says, "in that regard, Austin blew it; he should have told somebody he was leaving."
Dan also gives kudos to Chris "Harvard" Lewinsky's (sp?) first appearance on Raw.
(Lewinsky? Naw, he couldn't be related to Monica. Could he?)
"Chris played it right by not getting too close to the other "Tough Enough" contestants, becoming all buddy-buddy," says Dan, "it must have worked, because look where he is now!"
"As opposed to how Jake and Kenny have fared, huh?" asks Dr. Tom with a laugh.
Dan leaves, as Kelly shills the "WWE Confidential" show once more. Vince! J.R.! The "Truth!"
The next caller, Michael from Atlanta, says that Austin is setting a bad example as a veteran and superstar, both for the rest of the locker room, and for the fans.
Dr. Tom thinks that Austin maybe just finally had had enough.
Kelly asks Dr. Tom if he ever "just walked out?"
Dr. Tom says no, he never did that.
"I didn't want to burn any bridges, Kev."
The ChatRoom is percolating away like mad today.
One message says that WWE is in trouble with Austin gone, what with all the other superstars on the injured list.
Dr. Tom is quick to point out that WWE is not hurting for talent by any means, and that it just means that other superstars will get their opportunity a little sooner.
Next caller, whose name gets garbled, thinks that the company is being way too public with all this, that maybe there is something big happening behind the scenes, that the "Austin Walkout" is all "just part of the show."
Kelly pooh-poohs this, saying that this is reality TV, that it continues through to the magazines, the Internet, everywhere.
"When real things happen in WWE they are going to be brought up and dealt with," says Kelly.
(I will now pause to give you, my gentle readers, time to stuff your collective jaws back in your faces!)
"There's no way we can keep any of this from the fans," says Dr. Tom.
(I will wait again, for the same reason. Is "Big Country" asleep at the switch, or what?)
Kelly reiterates that this isn't a work; that it is real, and everybody should watch "WWE Confidential," where Vince and J.R. Will Explain It All!
Next caller congratulates WWE on the depth of their talent roster, but says that some of the story lines are still weak. He specifically refers to the NWO story line.
Kelly says that with Nash returning, and Shawn Michaels being brought in, plus Booker T being kicked out on last Monday's Raw, the NWO turned a new page in their angle.
"The NWO don't have any excuses anymore," says Dr. Tom. "The opportunity is there for them to use."
A ChatRoom lurker wonders, with all the young talent available, if Stone Cold is still needed, really?
Building on his reply to the previous NWO question, Dr. Tom relates the story about how the Rock got started, how he took his opportunity and ran with it. He never really addresses the question directly, though.
Time for Tazz's "Tales from the Hook."
Tazz is driving back from Bethpage, New York where Tiger Woods' latest massacre of the PGA is in progress.
Tazz says he blew off staying to watch Tiger to be on Byte This! today.
Emailer Andy Pettit (sp?) says that WWE is falling apart. Kelly and Dr. Tom disagree.
Tazz says that he was on Raw Monday working promos with that other brand on his day off.
"I got to Atlanta and that's when I heard about it. The fans should be angry with Stone Co- YEAH, WAY TO CUT ME OFF, IDIOT!" (Tazz is being "very demonstrative" behind the wheel, apparently.)
Tazz says that "business moves on; Vince is running things, and he's got a locker room full of talent to draw from. When I left ECW, they didn't close their doors, so why should WWE fold up?"
Tazz goes into a tunnel and the connection fractures.
An emailer named "Corrosive" says that WWE is in deep trouble; the fans are getting fed up with this sort of juvenile behavior from supposed professionals.
Kelly is just about to respond to "Corrosive's" comment, when Tazz comes back, saying that the ratings drop and decrease in house show attendance means that WWE's business is just going through another cycle.
"This is not a seasonal sport," says Tazz, "we go all year round. Take me, I'm a football fan. This time of year, I want football. I'm waiting, dreaming, anticipating football. WWE is year round, so there is no anticipation period. So, we get this down time. This is the time to build new characters, get new faces, to open the door for someone else."
Caller Pedro from the Bronx wonders if something in Austin's personal life has caused him to act as he did?
Tazz says that's a possibility.
Dr. Tom agrees, saying that it could be a possibility Austin could have something personal going on which may have caused him to walk out.
Another ChatRoomer wants Michael Cole to die.
In a momentary departure from kayfabe, Tazz sticks up for Cole, saying that Cole is still learning, still growing.
"The fans don't know where he came from," says Tazz, "how Mike's career had him working for CBS in Bosnia; he had bombs and everything being thrown at him."
Kelly relates how he came in to work real early one morning, and peeked in the broadcast booth. There was Cole, reviewing ads and promos, and that "Tazz was in the booth reviewing ads and promos right along side Cole!"
Dr. Tom is impressed.
"We sometimes work 6 PM to 6 AM doing those," laughs Tazz, "I get home just in time to get my wife her morning coffee!"
Kelly and Tazz talk about how good the "Tough Enough Reunion" show was.
Tazz says that casting for "Tough Enough 3" is going really well. "We got tomatoes, studs, blue chippers, orange chippers, wood chippers... should be great this time, says Tazz, "Tough Enough" is blazing a new path into this business. With it will come a whole new set of opportunities, different ways to get in. Look at Chris Harvard, who lost the Tough Enough contract to Maven in the final round. Now, he's in the business and working with William Regal. What an opportunity!"
On the same subject, Dr. Tom says he was disappointed with how Jake and Kenny's attitude went bad so quickly after they lost out on "Tough Enough 2."
"They don't see that the door is still open to them," says Dr. Tom, "though, if they keep on the way they have, that door could close real quick."
Tazz let's loose with another truly volcanic commentary directed at some unfortunate driver.
Kelly winds up this segment by suggesting that Tazz do a video entitled " 'Tazz's Driving School,' where Tazz shows people how to drive like Tazz does."
"Violence and driving is a good mix," says Tazz with a laugh.
Kelly and Tazz joke around for a bit, and each get in successive plugs for "WWE Confidential" this Saturday.
Vince! JR! The True Word Made Manifest!
Tazz leaves, and Kelly reads an email that says that this situation with Austin is what you get when you let fifty-year-olds run things. This cracks up the whole studio.
Kelly disagrees, and elaborates on how fortunate the fans are, that this is the stuff the fans normally don't see, that the new WWE will be showing more behind the scenes stuff like how they are handling the "Austin Walkout."
Next up is Edge with an update on how his injured shoulder is progressing. Edge sounds pretty good, all enthusiastic and everything.
He says the first doctor he went to scared him by saying that he needed surgery NOW.
He then went to Birmingham, AL and saw Dr. Andrews for a second opinion. Dr. Andrews decided a more conservative regimen of rehabilitative therapy was in order, and to leave the surgery as a last resort.
"Because of this, we are now talking about weeks instead of months for my return to the ring," says Edge, and you can just hear the enthusiasm coming through in his voice.
Edge says he is starting to get cabin fever with all the sitting at home, going to rehab, and sitting at home some more.
(At this point in the conversation, Edge's dogs cut loose with a lot of barking and snarling in the background like they are fighting off a wolf pack. It takes a couple of minutes for Edge to get them calmed down so he can get back on the phone.)
Kelly asks if Edge saw the unveiling of Kurt Angle's bald head?
Edge says he was flying home and missed it.
Edge has an update on Rhyno. He will be out of the hard neck brace soon, and will be able to give up sleeping only on his back.
"Rhyno will be back to work before too long. He has to. He's got cabin fever worse than me," laughs Edge.
Kelly asks Edge his thoughts about Austin leaving the active roster.
"Christian told me the next day, and I said, 'Whoa, THAT sucks!' I don't know what I'd do about this. With Austin gone, maybe you make a trade to have somebody step up and fill the spot that Austin has left."
Edge repeats that WWE is in flux, though Austin's departure only magnifies that.
The ChatRoom is hotly divided today, with some thinking Kelly and Co. are hammering on Stone Cold much too much for leaving.
Other ChatRoomers say that Austin's leaving is the best thing that could have happened to WWE.
Talk shifts to "King of the Ring," and Edge's thoughts on who will win.
Edge says that Jericho doesn't need the win, nor does RVD.
"I look at Bob Holly, Test, Brock Lesnar, and Booker T as needing the KoTR Title to help their careers along," says Edge.
(No mention of X-Pac or Big Valbowski, you'll notice.)
Edge talks about moving on from his feud with Kurt Angle to his pending feud with Chris Jericho, saying that it is the next logical step.
Kelly says he'd like to see Edge work with HHH more, and Edge agrees. "The top guys bring out the intensity," says Edge, "that you need to take it to the next level. It was a cool thing. I'm looking forward to working with Jericho."
Dr. Tom asks how cool it was for Edge to work the backstage promo with Hogan, with all the feather boas and the pose-downs? Edge laughs, saying that nopbody knows it but he hurt his shoulder BEFORE doing the promo with Hogan, and played through it because he didn't want to miss working with Hulk Hogan.
Edge says he was glad Angle lost the wig, though: it was beginning to smell.
Being Edge, it's time for the "Hockey Talk!" segment.
Edge says that the NHL's New Jersey Devils will be back stronger than ever next year, and that he's pleased the Detroit red Wings have won the Stanley Cup for the third time in six years.
Edge closes out by saying that the next time he talks with Kelly and Dr. Tom he will be back on the active roster. Kelly and Dr. Tom are glad to hear that, and thank him for being on the show.
Edge leaves, as Kelly and Dr. Tom discuss elective surgery, and all the good work Dr. Andrews does for WWE's talent down in Birmingham.
We take a break, but Kelly messes up the promo lead for the video. It's the one from three (?) weeks ago, where Chris Benoit returns to WWE in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta.
Man, the whole arena just goes nuts when Benoit climbs into the ring.
"Front Page News," hollers Lawler, "Benoit is Back! Benoit is Bigger Than Gretzsky!"
"Who says you can never go home again?" asks Good Ol' Jim Ross.
Benoit's theme plays, and live on the phone is Chris Benoit.
Kelly asks Benoit for his latest medical clearance date for wrestling?
Benoit says he's ready now, but that his release date is June 28th.
"I'm training just as hard now as I was before I had the injury. I'm ahead of schedule."
Kelly asks Benoit about his return to the ring in Edmonton, his hometown?
"It is great to walk out in front of a sold-out crowd in your own hometown," says Benoit.
Kelly asks Benoit about his turning on Steve Austin in Edmonton?
"What better way to make a statement in front of the fans," says Benoit, "than to hit on Steve Austin, especially with Eddie Guerrero helping me."
Kelly wants to know what the difference is in Eddie G?
It's like a big black cloud has been lifted from Eddie. He's focused and driven, like he was in Japan."
Kelly asks Benoit about Davey Boy Smith's passing.
"It just plain sucks," says Benoit, "I got to see him in his last days and what he was going through.. I've never known him to be a bad person., but he didn't have to go through that, not at all!"
Regular caller Melanie from West Virginia welcomes Benoit back and asks about the prevalence of neck injuries in professional wrestling, and how the rehab program works to build up the neck area so you don't have to do the surgery?
Benoit says that, in his case, it was a matter of bones fusing together in his neck. As for the physical therapy, he got more into it the later months, as he got closer to his return.
As for getting "cabin fever, Benoit says that "it got so I couldn't watch the shows; I wanted that badly to be back working again!"
Kelly comments that Diamond Dallas Page has decided to retire because of his neck injury, and how his injury outcome differs from Benoit's.
It's all about making the right decision at the right time, " says Benoit, "I reflect on where I am and what I am doing right now, and I am content."
Dr. Tom asks if Benoit will take certain moves out of his repertoire, like the flying head-butt; the ones that could be potentially dangerous.
"No," says Benoit, "because that would mean that my repertoire would be totally different. If that happened, that would mean I was doubting myself and my ability. If that happened, I might think about retiring myself."
Benoit talks about the match he had with William Regal at the Brian Pillman Memorial Show that lasted thirty minutes, and how he and Regal told a story. "We built the match around that story, jacked up the excitement, and had the crowd on its feet at the end, cheering like mad."
"You can't just do high-flying stuff and have it mean anything," says Benoit, "you've got to understand the psychology, the 'why' of doing the moonsault or the back-flip in the match sequence, and how it all fits together to tell the story."
Kelly relates the special circumstances about the match; how it occurred at the end of a long night in front of a tired crowd. Benoit and Regal took a deliberate-paced story line and worked it for all it was worth.
Benoit says that that is the way the new wrestling is coming back to, real "Old School" storytelling.
"No more "high spot-to-high spot" stuff;" says Benoit, "you've got to tell a story. Spectacular stuff is just flash if there is no story to back it up, give it a reason for being."
Dr Tom says that Kurt Angle has learned how to wrestle like that, to tell an exciting story without all the flash, and bring some new stuff for the old school foundation.
Benoit says you have to learn the basic moves of pro wrestling; that the moonsaults, back flips and other flashy moves come later.
Kelly asks about when and where the light finally came on for Benoit, where did it all click?
"I don't think it ever has for me," says Benoit, "I'm still learning, and I guess I always will be."
A caller from Toronto asks Benoit what his prediction would be for the King of the Ring tourney?
Kelly has "Big Country" put up the KoTR brackets on the chyron as a graphic aid.
Benoit has no opinion, but says that KoTR points up how unpredictable World Wrestling Entertainment is.
Kelly asks Benoit about Austin's walkout.
"It sucks," says Benoit, "I mean, it's my second, third week back in the company, and this happens! It hurt my morale a bit. I was all gearing up for matches with Steve Austin. Now? I don't know. I just hope both sides resolve the conflict for everybody involved."
This leads Kelly to Chris Benoit's departure from WCW.
"Were you unhappy?" asks Kelly.
"I can't compare that time with this," says Benoit.
Kelly gives a brief review of Austin's segment on Byte This! from two weeks ago, that we saw at the top of the show, and comments briefly on what things Austin said.
Benoit says that, yes, there was a lot of turmoil those last few months.
"The day before, I made it clear to Bill Busch that I wanted to leave WCW, I told him I wasn't happy in WCW. That night, I won the WCW Title belt. The next day I saw Busch again and told him that, even with the Title, I still wanted to leave. At that point, Mr. Busch told me to go home."
Kelly thinks that a Steve Austin return is not out of order,
(Oh ho, this is interesting!)
and wants to know if Benoit plans to call Austin about this?
Benoit thinks that anything he could say to Austin would be taken as prying, but that if Austin wants to talk he's there.
"I hope he comes back for the fans, my morale, and everything," says Benoit. "I'd gone through so much crap in WCW when it was owned by Ted Turner, I don't want to see anything like that happen to anyone else, Austin included. Everything can be negotiated. It always helps to talk."
Kelly asks if Benoit might be returning to the ring early.
"If I can," says Benoit, "then you can count on me being there."
"I'll tell Regal that you will be pouring pickle brine on your head to split people's skulls open," laughs Kelly, recounting a real "Old School" trick of pro wrestlers. He thanks Benoit for being on this week's show.
Benoit thanks Kelly and Dr. Tom, and leaves the show
Kelly and Dr. Tom continue to talk enthusiastically about the Regal/Benoit match at the Pillman Memorial Show, and how it is a great teaching tool for the craft of wrestling. Dr. Tom says that all novices and wannabes should watch it so they will know what good storytelling, and therefore what good wrestling is.
Caller Rob from Vancouver says that WWE is doing fine; that it doesn't need Austin anymore.
"Hogan, Bret Hart, Scott Hall, " says Rob, "nobody is irreplaceable anymore."
"You think Vince needs Austin?" asks Kelly.
"Vince is a certified billionaire," says Rob, "he said so himself. He doesn't need anybody. Nobody is that crucial to the survival of WWE anymore."
Kelly remarks on how passionate Vince, Austin, JR, the fans, everybody is about this incident, and thanks the ChatRoomers for their passion and restraint today. Kelly is glad for the great comments and feedback in the ChatRoom, with very little spam and flame work.
Kelly encourages everybody to use the ChatRoom more than the phone, so you can have a better chance to get through.
"We only have a limited number of phone lines into the show," admits Kelly.
Kelly then spoils the moment by pestering "Big Country" on whether he had actually booked Shawn Michaels for next week's show?
Lots of hemming and hawing from BC, but nothing's been confirmed as of yet.
Kelly sneers that BC's staking his reputation on having Shawn Michaels on the show, right?
BC doesn't dignify that question with an answer.
'Big Country" is catching all Kelly's flak this week because Byte This! intern and whipping boy Seth Mates is apparently not in the studio.
There are several nasty comments on Mates being Jewish, which of course brings on the dreaded Paul Heyman "Skullet" pic.
Big Country then puts up a REALLY nasty-looking mug shot-like picture of Kevin Kelly. Dr. Tom says was the pic they used for Kelly's action figure.
The show closes with a "King of the Ring" clip. We get the brutal street fight between Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle, as commentated by Good Ol' JR and Paul Heyman.
Boy howdy, this ain't wrestling.
It's a mess!
Shawn Michaels is scheduled for next week's show.
See you then.
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