|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer
This is the WWE Byte This report for Friday, 20 September 2002, and I'm E.C.
After a loud and annoying "Unreal Tournament" ad, (typical shooter, folks. Go find a cheap, used copy of "Redneck Rampage," instead. Ebay's got 'em two for a dollar now, and the action's way better than this) we get yet another recap of Smackdown's "Billy & Chuck Commitment Ceremony" from Thursday a week ago, including the "Great Unmasking."
I don't care what you think, I'm still impressed with the way Eric Bischoff carried this off. Tazz, for once, was at a loss for words, and says so. Michael Cole, however, was not, more's the pity.
Of note is that the Byte This! techs are still having trouble with the sound, for the fourth week running.
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dr. Tom Prichard, both of whom are waving their headsets at Byte This! producer and Maxim Hair Color user Matt Duda off stage. They don't look happy, either.
This Sunday sees the running of WWE's September PPV, "Unforgiven," and you can tell Kelly, Dr. Tom and all concerned are going to turn today's show into one big shill-fest to make up for the lack of selling the PPV that WWE's marketing flacks have not done over the past four weeks.
We are talking duty ill-done and judgement at hand here, folks.
However, both Kelly and Dr. Tom are still busy waving their headsets around and hollering, saying that TOO MUCH sound is coming out.
Still having audio problems here, huh guys?
Once the sound settles down, Kelly and Dr. Tom move right into the weekly obligatory shill for the Force of Nature known as HHH, and his match with Rob Van Dam at "Unforgiven."
Here's Droz with his take on the bout, who says that RVD has to go all out to win the WWE Heavyweight Title from HHH; there can be no half measures here.
Kelly is impressed that RVD lost his cool on Raw this week, and tore a strip off HHH. Lots of "real" blood and everything.
(Incidentally, ain't it strange that, in WWE's quest for an "edgier" product, they wouldn't see fit to hire one of the best stick men in the business, Steve Corino, because the extensive forehead scarring Corino has from all those blade jobs might gross out the viewers? Sheesh!)
Dr. Tom says RVD had better be more than just his usual cocky self in the match, getting a nod of assent from Kelly, and verbal assent from Droz.
Kelly, never one to stray from the task at hand, sends the next five minutes extolling the virtues of HHH as Heavyweight Champion, and how he should retain the Title.
Kelly brings up Molly's angry comment from last week's show about how the whole "HLA" angle seemed to preoccupy Raw announcers Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross, who seemed to talk of nothing else, while Bubba Ray Dudley and Steven Richards were working their butts off in the ring. You and us both, Molly.
The three of them move on to the Ric Flair v. Chris Jericho bout for the WWE Intercontinental Title; Droz says that Flair may surprise everybody once more, and that includes Chris Jericho.
The Raw vs. Smackdown match between Rosey and Jamal of Raw squaring off against Billy & Chuck of Smackdown. This leads to Droz's opinion of the I.O.W.'s assault and battery on Eric Bischoff, and another rehash of the "Commitment Ceremony," including the backlash from GLAAD and the media.
Can you say, "swerve?"
Droz gives a few brief comments on Brock Lesnar's defense of the Undisputed Title against the Undertaker, then the Kurt Angle vs. Chris Jericho bout, and then Edge/ Eddie Guerrero.
Droz leaves as Kelly announces that next week's show will be broadcast live and remote from the "World" in New York City. Dr. Tom is enthusiastic about this, surprise, surprise.
More on the continuing story of Byte This! producer Matt Duda's hair color. Still looks good. Kelly wants him to color the bottom half, now. Smiling, Duda shakes his head.
The boys clear up some misunderstandings in the Chatroom.
The Chatroom then says that we've got the "Battle of the Bellies" between Kelly and Dr. Tom.
"Hey," says Dr. Tom, 'pinching a roll' like the Michelin Man, "I'm losing. I'm losing!"
Duda tries to show a clip from Smackdown, but not before screwing the audio up several times, and cutting back to Kelly and Dr. Tom.
Kelly's getting testy about the technical foul-ups, and says so, waving his headset for emphasis. Duda says he's just trying to do his job.
To the phones, where Matt from Illinois says he agrees wholeheartedly with the "Shut Up and Wrestle" article over at the WWEdotcom site. Promos are good, but the matches are the most important," says Matt. "Smackdown is better than Raw because the promos are kept to a minimum over on Smackdown."
Matt goes on to say that the whole of WWE is in disarray due to slipshod booking, and gives Jericho v. Flair as an example. Kelly gets testy with Matt, and grills him on why he hasn't thought things through with Jericho and Flair? Matt isn't as quick with the response this time, and Kelly cuts him off as being irrelevant. You better get your duck sin a row if you want to argue with Kevin Kelly in public, fans. Matt learned this to his cost.
Tazz gets on the phone and adds his spin, saying that Vince McMahon would just love it if everyone on the roster had their time in the ring. Kelly likes what Smackdown is becoming.
Tazz says that Raw will take longer to develop because of it being a live show; the "Crash TV" factor is almost a given. "The Raw fans tune in to se what's gonna happen next," says Tazz. "The brand extension wasn't going to resolve itself in one week."
Kelly says that both promotions will see a lot of new talent being called upon to step up and deliver, giving the fans something new to watch every week.
Tazz moves on to Brock Lesnar and how much he had improved since the Australia tour two months ago.
"You tell him how to improve what he does," says Tazz, "and it goes in his brain. He doesn't ever forget it. Very impressive."
Kelly and Tazz shill for the Flair/Jericho match, along with Angle/Benoit. Tazz likes the Eight-Man tag match from Raw. "It should be a helluva match."
Kelly thinks it may turn into a train wreck if somebody misses a cue. Tazz doesn't think so, because all of the participants are pros.
Tazz winds things up by saying that the competition between the two promotions is good for the company and for the fans. "I want the PPV to be a great show," says Tazz, "and everybody will be working their asses off to do just that."
Kelly asks Tazz if he's got a secret desire to see Stephanie McMahon do the HLA? Tazz says he won't comment on that at this time.
Kelly and Tazz do a Martin/Lewis routine on why Jim Ross doesn't like animals. Tazz says that it's because JR's an Oklahoman, and them Sooner's got issues with animals. Tazz says that, in Red Hook, they let the wildlife in the house to play with the kids. "Pigeons, squirrels, and rats," says Tazz, "that's my kind of wildlife."
Kelly brings up a sore spot with Tazz, that being his Nebraska 'Huskers' getting reamed by Penn State last week, and how the Penn State fans razzed Tazz when he got up to leave early in the fourth quarter. But, when he got back to Stamford, Tazz says that Jerry Brisco was the worst, followed by Kevin Dunn. "Thanks for pointing it out, Kev," growls Tazz.
Tazz leaves, and Matt Duda's got both Billy & Chuck on the phone almost immediately.
Kelly says he's surprised that Billy says he's not gay, and that "Commitment Ceremony" will go down as one of the greatest swerves in wrestling history.
Chuck says he was worried the fans would be really brutal to them over the angle, but the fans surprised him in their acceptance and appreciation of what they'd done.
Kelly asks their opinion about all the media attention the angle received? Billy says that the wrestling fans knew the whole thing was a work, no matter which way it went, or how it would resolve itself, and that was something the mainstream media just had no clue about
Kelly asks if some of Chuck's friends were concerned over what the angle would do to his image, or if they thought it might be a shoot instead of a work?
Chuck says that it was a challenge for he and Billy to see if they could pull the skit off. "It's like a movie," he says, "if you can't pull off a role and make it believable, the movie isn't a five-star spectacular."
Kelly remarks about how GLAAD seemed to give them support at first, and then reversed their position when the swerve came.
Billy says that GLAAD was all for the angle as long as they could get some publicity out of it, but then they really stepped in it afterwards by saying they knew all along how it was going to go down, that it was all a big joke. "It's like they're saying they weren't really reading more into the angle than they actually were," says Kelly.
Kelly then asks how much Chuck thinks he's improved since he's been working with Billy Gunn? Chuck says that Billy is cool, but he can be hard on you. "He will say whatever's on his mind," says Chuck.
Dr. Tom says that honesty may be why Billy's gone through so many partners. He then asks if the two of them plan on staying as tag partners or will the move onto singles competition?
Billy says that he thinks they could remain tag partners, but that Chuck needs to go single for his career to really take off. As for himself, Billy says that he has fun at whatever he does. "I like to pass on as much of my knowledge to Chuck as I can," says Billy, "I hope it has helped him."
"No doubt about that," says Chuck.
Dr. Tom asks how much longer Billy plans to be in the business?
Billy says he will stay in as long as he's healthy and can make a difference.
Kelly asks about Chuck's background in college basketball. Chuck says that he's originally from Providence, RI, (Hey, that's 'Hyatte Country!'), which gets Kelly started on Providence's corrupt mayor finally getting his. Chuck then relates how he gave up his basketball scholarship to try out at the WCW Power Plant in Atlanta. "Something told me 'Go try out,'" says Chuck, "so I did."
Kelly asks Billy if he liked the "HLA" segment on Raw?
"Oh yes," says Billy, "and the possibility of an 'HLA' deal with Stephanie at "Unforgiven" is a no-lose situation, isn't it?"
As Billy & Chuck leave, Kelly asks Dr. Tom how Billy Gunn will be remembered?
Dr. Tom says that Billy's career taken as a whole shows he's accomplished a lot, even though he hasn't won the top Titles. "He's definitely a Hall of Famer," says Dr. Tom, "there ought to be a lot of people at his induction ceremony, just from all the partners he's had."
The until-now ignored Edge/Eddie Guerrero match from Unforgiven is discussed by Kelly and Dr. Tom while we wait for Stephanie McMahon. Dr. Tom says that everyone has been saying that Edge is "ready to take it to the next level." "What I want to know," says Dr. Tom, "is just what else Edge has to do to get to that "next level?" Is he already there, or is he spinning his wheels? I think that this match with Eddie Guerrero may be the break Edge is looking for, the one match he needs to propel him into the top ranks of WWE. This will definitely be a match we all need to watch."
We take a quick break from the action, and watch Eric Bischoff getting his, uhh, "Bischoffs" rearranged by Stephanie McMahon.
"What was that, Eric?" (Steph's signature screech.)
"Ooohhhh!" (Eric, of course.)
"What was that you said? Three minutes?"
Jeez Lou-weez, but Stephanie's voice hasn't lost ANY of its hinge-like quality!
Live on the phone is the Smackdown GM, Stephanie McMahon, who says that the boys should get their priorities straight. It will be ol' Eric kissin' her butt after the Raw vs. Smackdown match is done, and Billy & Chuck clobber Rosey & Jamal.
"You can't imagine how good it felt to kick Eric Bischoff right between his legs," laughs Stephanie.
Kelly asks Stephanie about the "HLA Incident" that caused all the furor with TNN and the press?
Steph says that Eric is getting desperate since Smackdown is kicking Raw's ass right now, and he's been reduced to doing desperate things to get ratings.
Kelly asks Steph what changes she would make if she were GM of Raw? Steph says that would be giving her trade secrets away.
Dr. Tom compliments Steph on bringing back the tag ropes.
(Jeez, I didn't know they'd taken them away.)
Kelly and Steph talk about the Lesnar/ Undertaker match, dwelling on Paul Heyman's role in jacking up 'Taker's emotion level.
In answer to Kelly's question, Steph says that the most improved Smackdown wrestler is Brock Lesnar.
"Brock doesn't know who he's dealing with in the Undertaker," says Steph, "so Heyman's got to have enough fear for both of them. That's where Lesnar is keeping his caution right now."
Dr. Tom asks what will happen to Lesnar if 'Taker wins at "Unforgiven?"
"I think it will make Lesnar more determined than ever to take it back," says Steph. "The only questions are, when and where?"
Steph also says that the HHH/RVD match will be a good one, and for us not to count HHH out just yet. "HHH has proved he's a great champ," says Steph, "but, like me, he doesn't like things handed to him. He's got to prove to everyone that he deserves the Title."
Kelly asks if Steph felt Bischoff had put one over on her at Smackdown?
"The whole ruse of the ceremony had me going," says Steph, "so yes, he did put one over on me. That's why it felt so good to kick him in the 'Bischoffs.'"
Dr. Tom says that the scuttlebutt has put several names forward for Steph to have "HLA" with. Anna Kournikova and Britney Spears are mentioned. Kelly asks if Stephanie has any thoughts about that?
"I don't know," says Steph, "I've never tried it before, though, if it was the right person, I just might, uhhh, I just, ummm, well..."
Kelly and Dr. Tom exchange meaningful "Oh Ho!" glances before thanking Stephanie for being on the show.
As Stephanie leaves, Dr. Tom goes out on a limb saying he hopes Rosey & Jamal win the Raw/Smackdown bout.
"Maybe Steph is secretly hoping that, too, huh?" finishes Kelly with a knowing look.
Dr. Tom says that even Eric wins in that case.
We close the show with the "Eric & Stephanie Talking Heads Show" from last night's Smackdown. Twenty minutes of precious airtime that could have been used to put two deserving wrestlers over is frittered away between two jabbering gasbags. Sheesh!
Still, it's a good contrast in acting styles and experience. Bischoff is just smarmy and three dimensionally evil as Stephanie is screechy and two-dimensional. Bischoff is the way better showman here, no foolin'.
Take this, for example.
"I've never done Hot... Lesbian... Action... before," says Stephanie, trying hard to look seductive and dirty, and less like the boss's daughter, "but, who knows? I...might...like it!"
Bischoff says nothing in response.
But the look on Bischoff's face as he focuses THAT particular picture in his mind's eye is just priceless.
Looks like everybody COULD be a winner here.
"Unforgiven" is Sunday.
Support "Sports Entertainment." Go. Buy. Now.
See you next week.
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