Welcome to the returning edition of Wrestling's FACT or FICTION. It's been a while, yes, since this column was out, but I apologize for its absence. Just couldn't find time to produce it.

But this time, it should be more dependable to be up every week. Now, I've decided to use a pool of great wrestling fans on the LoP message boards to co-write the column with me. This should keep the column fresh and posted at each week, and even at times, there will be more than 2 writers to make things interesting.

Today's co-writer is Da Ref, who has been a longtime member of the LoP Forums and has been one of the tougher ones to fight with on opinions on the message boards. I, myself, have argued with him over matches, Metallica, and many other topics which would go to several pages and many paragraphs. Here is his own description of himself:

Da Ref: "I have been a wrestling fan since about late 1988. While I have watched many groups, my favorite has always been NWA/WCW. I did ring crew for WCW in 1992 whenever they came to Charleston as well as sold souvenirs. I have been a referee for coming up on 3 years and have worked for groups in South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina."

There you have it. I want to personally thank him for his involvement. Today's column will have 8 statements instead of the usual 5 in honor of Wrestlemania on Sunday night. The style of this column is very simple. A statement will be made, and both myself and Da Ref will say whether it's FACT or FICTION, and then give our reasons why. The idea came from ESPN's Sportscenter, and the first few columns I posted of this did well.


1) FACT OR FICTION: Booker T will beat Triple H at Wrestlemania to become the new World Champion of RAW.

Da Ref: I gotta go more with FICTION on this one. My proof lies in the fact that Booker T has two tag team pinfalls over Helmsley on RAW(One when he teamed with Steiner against Helmsley & Batista and this past week when he teamed with Goldust against Helmsley & Flair.) It's almost like a pattern for challengers. Give them their heat for the match and take them down. They did it with Rob Van Dam and Kane. It also sorta fits what happened with Shawn Michaels. Michaels got the first win at Summerslam and got the second win at Survivor Series for the RAW Title. When it came to the third match, who went over? However, if I'm wrong on this one, I'll guarantee Booker will have a short reign.

Mr. Tito: I agree and I'll say FICTION as well. With Kurt Angle definitely dropping the Undisputed Title to Brock Lesnar this Sunday, it's clearly obvious that another face wrestler won't be winning the other brand's World Title. It doesn't make sense to have two faces winning championships on one show, as they may negate each other's impact. Booker T deserves the title over the stale Triple H, but it's not happening. Triple H has grand plans to wrestle his buddy, Kevin Nash, no matter how many rumors suggest that Nash is just going to be Bischoff's bodyguard (Nash is training in OVW for his return). As Da Ref said, the wins over Triple H in the tag matches clearly show who is winning the match at Wrestlemania, especially since Vince McMahon's future son-in-law won't lose to a former WCW trademarked wrestler at the biggest WWE show of the year.

2) FACT OR FICTION: The Smackdown brand will suffer without Kurt Angle on its show after Wrestlemania.

Mr. Tito: I believe this is a definite FACT. Kurt Angle is, in my opinion, the best all around performer the WWE has. His personality has never gone stale and he's a great wrestler to boot. Nobody on the Smackdown roster can draw heat like Angle or speak like Angle. Angle is also great for giving a rub to other performers, such as helping Brian Kendrick and John Cena start their WWE careers, and teaming Benjamin and Haas as "Team Angle" has been nothing but a success. Without Angle, that leaves a void at the main event heel position, and who do you think will take that role? Big Show or Albert. Angle is probably the main guy I tune into for Smackdown, and without him, my Thursdays aren't the same.

Da Ref: I'll say FICTION. Smackdown is starting to suffer now. They've got a lot of good Cruiserweight talent that they still haven't been able to use correctly. There aren't a number of guys that the fans can really rally around. I don't think anyone's interested in the posibility of seeing Wight and A-Train main eventing on the cards. Angle's absence will be a major problem for the company. However, it's not the only one right now.

3) FACT OR FICTION: Bill Goldberg will make a big impact in the WWE.

Da Ref: In the long run, it'll be FICTION. When the rumors of Austin coming back started, it spiked RAW's ratings and provided a couple more sold outs when it came to live shows. However, those numbers have dipped a bit since then. With Bill Goldberg, you have a guy that isn't too fresh in the fans' minds. When McMahon bought WCW and was going through the list of guys that were with the company, the crowd was chanting "Goldberg! Goldberg!" The problem is that was about two years ago. I could see the numbers increase for a brief time. After that, they'll come back down to where they are now.

Mr. Tito: I agree and I'll say FICTION. Let's look at the problems Goldberg had in WCW. He wanted more money there and hated the creative direction of Vince Russo. Now, the WWE may have given him a nice salary, BUT it's definitely not the $2 to $4 million he made in WCW. He had his contract negotiated TWICE and threatened to hold out both times if he didn't get paid. Then, his issues with Vince Russo. He hates Crash TV, and the WWE still actually runs that on their television shows. Just look at some of the stuff attempted in 2002. We can go anywhere from the Kiss My Ass Club to the Hot Lesbian Action. He'll get angry at the creative direction and begin to refuse to do anything all over again. For the short run, yes, it could be a good boost, but it's not good for the long run.

4) FACT OR FICTION: This summer will be the worst business the WWE has done since 1998.

Mr. Tito: Definite FACT. Wrestlemania lacks the buzz that it should have for this time of year, and thus the momentum of a big show might not be there. I seriously believe the lack of Kurt Angle is going to badly cripple the Smackdown brand, while the RAW brand will sorely miss the Rock when he takes off after Backlash. The Rock and Kurt Angle are the only top guys, wrestlers who have held any world titles, who aren't stale right now. Both will be gone in the summer, so we'll enjoy the same old Undertaker, Austin, and Triple H at the top of the shows. New stars won't be created, just like they weren't created when they were badly needed for the past 2 years, which saw lower business than in previous summers. Unless Bill Goldberg catches popularity, works well with the WWE, and stays healthy, it could be a long summer for wrestling fans.

Da Ref: It's going to be close to tell but I lean more towards FACT on this one. With a number of top guys out, that will make a difference. The dips in ratings after significant increases show that people are once again losing interest. What is really telling is that those increases and decreases came with the returns of Austin and Maivia, two guys who played a large role in WWF/WWE's biggest years. The people were interested in them coming back but it looks like they haven't been too interested in seeing them beyond that.

5) FACT OR FICTION: Nathan Jones/Undertaker vs. A-Train/Big Show will go down as the worst Wrestlemania match ever.

Da Ref: I'm gonna say FICTION on this one but not because I think the match will be all that great. You have four guys who have about as much mobility in the ring as the residents of an old folks home. I have figured out the booking style when it comes to the Undertaker. It's all about one word: perception. Right now, you have a tag team match with four guys that have not exactly wowed the fans. So right away, this match sucks. However, if they manage to squeeze just one drop of anything worth watching out, it'll at least be considered as a "not bad" match. For proof, just look at Taker's match against Wight at No Way Out. Plus, can it be any worse than Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver, & Haiti Kid taking on King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook, & Little Tokyo at Wrestlemania III or Undertaker taking on Giant Gonzalez at Wrestlemania IX?

Mr. Tito: While Da Ref brings up 2 very bad Wrestlemania matches, I'm still going to say FACT. For one, this match has a lot of hype behind it (although nobody is buying it), and for the hype and television time given to it, that will make it the worst match ever. But the simple fact remains that all 4 workers suck and will be terrible together in that ring. All 4 rely on a smaller worker bumping like a champ to make them look good in the ring. However, now, you have 2 big stiffs against 2 big stiffs. Especially Nathan Jones. I saw him wrestle in a dark match before a Smackdown taping, and damn he's horrible! Albert and Big Show working with Jones will be an absolute joke, and the Undertaker wrestling with them won't work as well. These hosses will stink up the arena, but yet they'll keep getting pushed afterward.

6) FACT OR FICTION: The Match of the Night for Wrestlemania won't be Rock vs. Austin or Angle vs. Lesnar.

Mr. Tito: I'll say FACT. I have this burning feeling that Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels might tear the house down. Shawn's back injury has been keeping him out of wrestling since the last time he wrestled (2 months ago), and I believe this is his last big match that he'll ever have. He'll give it his all. Plus, both wrestlers have a few things to prove. Jericho wants to show that he should be getting pushed on the RAW roster and HBK will show that he has one more great Wrestlemania performance left in him. Angle and Lesnar could be surprisingly good, though, as Angle could do a ballsy performance against Lesnar, taking a few moves with his neck and such.

Da Ref: I gotta go with FACT on this one. Maivia versus Austin at Wrestlemania has been played out. Plus, Austin has only had squashes against Eric Bischoff and that's not really a measure of whether or not he's ready to go like he used to. In Angle versus Lesnar, you'll see both men possibly being overcautious because of Angle's neck. So, creating a match with a lot of anger and rage wouldn't been prudent. Meanwhile, you have the three way for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles with Team Angle defending against Benoit/Rhyno and the Guerreros. All six competitors haven't had all that many bad matches against each other.

7) FACT OR FICTION: Chris Benoit would make a great World Champion.

Da Ref: Hooo-boy. That's a tough one. If you base it solely on his work in the ring, I'll go with FACT. He's been one of the absolute most solid workers the fed has on its roster. When he returned from his neck surgery, people wondered if he had lost a step. Like before, the guy has very rarely if ever had a bad match. He's even had a number of Match of the Year candidates that people are still buzzing about. If given the chance, he could do what Bret Hart did and become a major player as RAW or Smackdown's Champion.

Mr. Tito: This is sadly FICTION. I love Benoit. His matches are always pleasing to watch and I mark out whenever he chops the shit out of somebody. However, the WWF Attitude 1998 fans don't appreciate workrate as they do with things Benoit lacks, such as stronger mic skills or a personality they can relate to. Plus, glass ceiling owners Triple H and the Undertaker would do their usual maneuvers to make him look weak as a champion, although his matches would always be good. Maybe if he took over as leader of Team Angle, making Haas and Benjamin his thugs and going after Lesnar could be good. I do believe, however, Benoit deserves a run with the title, given how much he's given to professional wrestling and the WWE.

8) FACT OR FICTION: Wrestlemania will be Hulk Hogan's final match in the WWE ever.

Mr. Tito: Wrestlemania will be Hogan's final WWE match, so FACT. Why? I personally believe that Hogan is working under a pay-per-night agreement with the WWE, which he gets paid by the night (duh!). Proof of this can be shown from the Smackdown shows he's been able to miss. He shows up on every other Smackdown anymore. I don't think Vince McMahon wants to pay Hogan top dollar, which Hogan commands, especially when Hogan only draws pops from people live at an event, but not drawing people for higher ratings on television. Hogan's knee and back are giving out on him, so this would be a proper send off for Hogan, who just doesn't have much left in the tank for professional wrestling or the WWE. It's been a great run, but going out on the show that practically made you (Wrestlemania) is very, very fitting.

Da Ref: I'll say FICTION. We've heard it before. Supposedly, he left "for good" some time after Wrestlemania IV but came back in time for Summerslam in 1988. His Wrestlemania VIII match against Sid Justice was hyped as his last match but that ended up being wrong. He talked about retirement while in WCW but came back. After WCW folded, he worked the XWF tapings and when they shut down, he talked about calling it quits. Yet, here we are talking about yet another "final match" for Hogan.

@Thanks for reading!

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