Wrestling's FACT or FICTION is back for another week of pure joy, as this ESPN originated concept is catching on quite nicely. Who would have ever thought? I haven't actually seen ESPN do the segment for a while, since early this year, so maybe LoP can claim it as our own now?

A couple of feedback things... For one, several readers noticed that all 3 of us, Mr. Tito, SCHWAB, and Da Ref agreed on most of the topics. Hey, it happens. Nothing we can do about it when the topics selected are just obvious. The true beauty of it all, though, of these columns is HOW we decided to choose either "Fact" or "Fiction". If you read last week's column, you'd see that each of us had different viewpoints on each topic, despite choosing the same answer. For this week, the topics have a few screwballs in them to maybe get some interesting responses.

Secondly, I get a lot of e-mails regarding people wanting a spot on this column. My overall plan of this column was to get the LoP Message Board involved, which is where I found Schwab and Da Ref, and a host of others I'd use if one of those 2 guys aren't available for a week. The thought is nice for the readers who are asking to get involved, but understand how I've set this column up. There must be a way for the readers to somehow get involved in their own form of writing, and if I can find some time, I'll figure something out.

Finally, it was suggested that we add, say a total WWE brainwashed mark so that we can humiliate them on this column. No, not happening. The point of this column is to give you informative views on the current issues on wrestling. I don't wish to publicly humiliate anybody, anyway.

But keep the feedback coming, and don't hesitate to send us anything regarding this column. You can find all 3 email addresses below.

1) FACT OR FICTION: It was Jeff Hardy's fault that he was released by the WWE.

SCHWAB: This is FACT. There's no way nice way to say this, but it looked like Jeff couldn't give less of a shit about his job. He's become horribly broken down and just looked like a complete mess everytime he was in the ring. He was given way too many chances to become a solid mid carder, but blew every one of them with his laziness and complete lack of motivation. I don't know if he just didn't want to be there anymore or has genuine problems, but hopefully he'll use the time off to get his body back to health. It's a shame, because what looked like a promising young athlete in '99 became nothing more than a reckless mess in his final days.

Mr. Tito: Call me crazy, but I say FICTION. It's the WWE's fault. Let's go back to 2001, shall we? Jeff Hardy gets the surprising win over Triple H to win the Intercontinental Title on Smackdown. It was a shocker, indeed, and everyone thought it was Jeff Hardy's path to getting a solid singles push, maybe becoming the next Shawn Michaels. What the hell happened the RAW following this? Triple H squashed Jeff Hardy, cleanly, to win back the Intercontinental title. Let's keep going... Steve Austin also feuded with the Hardys that year, and he too beat the living crap out of Jeff Hardy in a match that didn't resemble one main eventer giving a rub to a youngster, it looked like an extended squash match. The Undertaker has butchered Jeff Hardy many times as well. Now, if the booking was made such that you'd NEVER get a chance to become a main eventer, where the real money is, would you care? If you had a job and it had no chance for promotion, would you give a damn? Of course not.

Da Ref: Absolutely FACT. I'm just surprised it took this long for them to realize the deal. He had no heart for the business, which is obvious by his matches. He was always late to shows. He kept having to take time off for "personal issues." Meanwhile, his matches were just so repetitive. Then, there's the whole deal with his band Peroxwhygen?, which seemed to become his big thing. WWE tried to push him to the moon time after time but it never caught on with the fans. Why? Hardy wasn't willing to try to develop his character. Why do you think Matt Hardy has been over?

2) FACT OR FICTION: Bill Goldberg isn't over as a face thus far, and will thus be turned into a heel.

Mr. Tito: I say FICTION, just based on the fact of what they are doing with Scott Steiner right now. Steiner was never over as a face, and even when he was getting boos in his match with Triple H, he was still pushed as the face. He'll remain a face just so Triple H can badly squash him and embarrass the final WCW wildcard forever. I just have fears of what Goldberg would do if he becomes a midcarder just like Scott Steiner. Yikes!

Da Ref: I lean towards FICTION. Turning him heel in a company that has a less than equal balance between heels and faces in the main event picture would be disastrous. Plus, the fans never seemed to buy into Goldberg as a heel. However, you can probably add in the fact that Goldberg wasn't comfortable as a heel, which I believe he said in his book. WWE needs Goldberg to stay face because Goldberg is one of the very few guys that were seriously hyped who hasn't seen their push killed by Helmsley(Van Dam, Kane, Steiner, Jericho, Booker T, etc.). Mind you, that's thinking logically and we can't have that in the WWE booking team.

SCHWAB: You have nothing to really say here other than FACT. You know they'll squeeze everything they can out of Bill before he finally gets the big burial (some may argue it's already happening).

3) FACT OR FICTION: Johnathan Coachman is an actual improvement on commentating over Jim Ross.

Da Ref: Ugh. That's gotta be FICTION. I remember when Jim Ross was a great commentator and not just the BBQ-Shillin', Catchphrase-Spillin' announcer that he has been for the past couple of years. I'm glad I didn't catch the WWE/Girls Gone Wild PPV they did to see Coachman further humiliate himself. It would make it even more difficult to listen to him try to commentate. Go back to having him do what he does best. Have him go back to being an interviewer backstage. With Kevin Kelly gone, he can take over the #1 verbal punching bag of the heels(and some faces) that he seems to do well.

SCHWAB: This is like asking if you want to get kicked in the nuts once or twice. I'll say FACT. Ross was just really horrible. While Coachman has turned into nothing more than a company shill, at least he isn't a loud, annoying one like JR was recently. I'm pretty sure he can call all the wrestlers by their right name too. I usually watch RAW with the volume down anyway.

Mr. Tito: While I'll agree that Jim Ross has badly diminished over the years, I have to say FICTION because Johnathan Coachman is just *that* bad. Sure, Ross goes overboard with emotion on matches, but at least he HAS emotion. Coachman sounds like a robot out there, saying what the WWE puppetmasters want him to say. I don't know what the WWE was going for when they hired Coachman, but he's weak. At least Michael Cole, another WWE puppet, can show emotion when calling matches, whereas Coachman seems to be in a great mood for everything, and not all is happy in the WWE world.

4) FACT OR FICTION: Hulk Hogan will indeed be "Mr. America".

SCHWAB: FACT. And guess what? Nobody will care, just like the last 2 Hogan angles. Or his title run last year. Or whatever. Old people do not draw. They get positive crowd heat out of childhood memory. I await Hogan v. Piper part 500, as it will surely hold a place in my heart as the worst match ever. Hey, maybe Hogan will even wrestle under the mask to give it that humor appeal like his match with Vince at WM. Or maybe they'll even work a handicap match with Hogan v. Vince AND Piper. Oh, I can see people lining up for miles already!

Mr. Tito: A blind man would see that this one is a FACT. A totally recycled angle, where Dusty Rhodes was once "retired" only to come back under a mask. When will the WWE learn that past angles will NOT work here in 2003? Even worse, it's another comeback by Hulk Hogan, which isn't going to spark business. To go even further, Mr. America will put Hogan back into the main event, which is whomever Vince McMahon is feuding with. Hogan should be used in the midcard, as his one time tag team with Edge was the best thing the WWE did with him since his return in 2002.

Da Ref: It's pretty much [B]FACT[/B]. Dusty Rhodes became "The Midnight Rider" when he was suspended. Barry Windham was "The Yellow Dog" after he was suspended. Brian Pillman became "The Yellow Dog" in his feud with Windham after dropping a Loser Leaves Town Match. Randy Savage donned a mask as "Mr. Madness" at house shows against Jake Roberts after losing the Loser Leaves Town match against The Ultimate Warrior. While not exactly as used as much as heel turns during a match while the ref is distracted/knocked-out or using the ropes for leverage, it's a common practice in booking.

5) FACT OR FICTION: John Cena has wins over Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, and Chris Benoit in 3 consecutive weeks. He is now ready for the main event scene.

Mr. Tito: I'm going to say FACT just because the WWE is TRYING to make a new main eventer. Isn't that what we want? New talent going over? He also beat Rhyno on Smackdown this week, so that's 4 big wins in a row for John Cena, and 3 of them were clean wins. I believe that it wouldn't hurt to somehow give John Cena the World Title this Sunday at Backlash and see how he runs with it. Why not?

Da Ref: Didn't we do this one last week? I said it then and I'll say it now: FICTION. Is he over as a heel? I think he is. However, he's still nowhere near the level to be a main eventer.

SCHWAB: This is FICTION. Eddy and Benoit job so much nobody has emotional attachment to them. Hey, didn't Benoit get a standing ovation a few months ago? Taker jobs in the most unconvincing way ever, as he usually does, giving nobody the rub except himself, because God knows he needs the heat for his Nathan Jones feuds. Cena is also a novelty gimmick and an extremely below average worker. He screams 1995 WWF mid carder. It's way to soon to take a chance with someone like that.

6) FACT OR FICTION: Given the recent signings of Steiner, Goldberg, Piper, and possibly Sting, the WWE will one day bring Lex Luger in.

Da Ref: Oy vey! They've been just reaching out to anyone from the past. So, I guess I'll inch my way toward it being FACT. I can hear them dusting off the Lex Express right now. People have been saying that WWE is starting to exhibit all of the traits that WCW did when they were having problems. Now, they might as well change the letters. Look at the shows, especially RAW. Who is running it in the storylines? Eric Bischoff. I'm just waiting for Mark Madden to be Lawler's new partner in the booth.

SCHWAB: We can only pray no, but knowing them it's FACT. I really have no reason to back this up, but hey, they signed Piper so anything is possible these days.

Mr. Tito: I say FICTION because Lex Luger is soooo bad! Given his past history and failures in the WWE with the Lex Express, he's a proven failure as a wrestler. He only does well when he's in a strong system, such as being the top face against Ric Flair in 1989 and being the top face against the NWO in 1997. Of course, many do not remember how he got back to WCW in 1995, and that was to quickly exit from the WWE one night and show up on the first Nitro the next. He sucks and has no in ring wrestling talent to offer the WWE, and he's by far, the one you'd think of last to pay top dollar to come in and make some kind of difference.

7) FACT OR FICTION: Any Japanese or International main eventer of their promotions can come into the WWE and make an impact.

SCHWAB: ANY main eventer? FICTION. New Japan has Nagata and he isn't even a big draw in his home company. All Japan doesn't know who it has, although Kojima has good charisma. He sucks as a worker these days though in my eyes. NOAH works a high impact head drop style these days, but emotional attachment will definitely be a problem since they very much go through the motions. The Toryumon guys work a spotfest style with WWE styled booking, so they have the best chance at getting over with a series of matches when you look at the success of guys like Rey in terms of good crowd heat. In short, they shouldn't worry about bringing guys over until they can get their own workers over. Bringing in new people isn't the answer anymore, plus we know everyone will just get buried anyway. If any wrestler/team was to come over from Japan and get over, my guess would be the tag team of Shinjiro Ohtani and Masato Tanaka.

Mr. Tito: I don't know shit about Japanese wrestling, but given what I've seen the WWE do to foreign wrestlers, I can say FICTION. For one, I can also say that any outside "main eventer" from another company ain't getting over in Triple H's company. But forgiving that fact, the WWE loves to exploit foreign wrestlers by whipping out stereotypes. Look at Funaki, Tajiri, and the Guerreros. Anybody coming in from Japan, especially, will get ridiculed, sadly enough.

Da Ref: Absolute FICTION. How many of the current wrestlers that have made an impact in the company are from outside of North America? None. When not doing Velocity, Tajiri is thrown an occasional bone with a squash match on Smackdown. Funaki gets an occasional match here and there.

8) FACT OR FICTION: Backlash is going to be a good or watchable show.

Mr. Tito: Although the hype for the show has been week, I think it's going to be a good show overall. FACT. I don't think Goldberg vs. Rock will disappoint, especially if the Rock gives full effort like he did with Austin at Wrestlemania 19 last month. Secondly, the Guerreros vs. Team Angle could be an awesome tag match, if given a good 15 minutes to work with. Cena vs. Lesnar has the potential to be solid, too, as I felt that Cena has taken Lesnar to some of his best matches. Although the buyrate will be low, it should still be a good show overall.

Da Ref: Since WWE isn't exactly going balls to the wall to hype this thing, I guess they don't see much promise. Therefore, I'll go with FICTION. As of late, the term "dream match" has been tossed around so much. Now, the new "dream match" is Maivia versus Goldberg. How? I can understand Hogan/Maivia. I can understand Hogan/McMahon. How does this match get "dream match" status? I can see Austin/Goldberg as being a dream match because of the similarities between the two but besides the fact that they've never faced off, what makes Maivia/Goldberg interesting enough to be a "dream match"? Plus, do you realize the only difference between the Women's Title match at last year's Backlash and this year's Backlash is the fact that TRISH is the champion in this match? It would be one thing if the show was hyped. You have the Guerreros and Team Angle for the Smackdown Tag Titles. There's talk of Brian Kendrick facing Matt Hardy for the Cruiserweight Title. However, besides the two main events(Six Man & Lesnar/Cena), how many of the matches have significant background going into the show?

SCHWAB: I'll go with FICTION. I'm expecting "worst show ever" type things here, as not even one match has the potential to be good, let alone watchable. Brock/Cena is a Smackdown filler. The tag title match with either get no time or feature Eddy carrying everyone to a decent match. Rock v. Goldberg will be Hogan/Rock 2 bad. The 6 man is laughable. To tell you the truth I completely forget their was a PPV this Sunday until this question was asked.

(NOTE: The following is upon request of the wonderful LoP Message Boards! Da Ref, Mr. Tito, and Schwab have fought countlessly over Metallica issues in the LoP Entertainment forum on LoPforums.com, and this is just an extension of that.)

BONUS NON-WRESTLING FACT OR FICTION: Metallica's St. Anger album, their newest album in several years, will be a SUCCESSFUL album for the band.

Da Ref: You just love to start trouble, don't you Tito? There's so many things that lead to FICTION and most of them we talked about in the many Metallica threads. Let's start with the rumors that this will be a "return" to their days with the first three albums. Now, THIS was not the Metallica that the fans who bought the Black Album. Then, you have the old school fans who will question if they can go back to the sound that they enjoyed. Plus, you have to factor in the Napster incident, which is still relevant. You also have to factor in the fact that their album sales dropped significantly with each recording since the Black Album. Will it debut at #1? That depends on what else is coming out on that same day. However, it won't take a huge artist to keep them from that spot.

SCHWAB: The short answer is I don't give a shit, since I haven't given a crap about Metallica in years. There's many levels of success. Will it sell a good chunk of records? Sure, probably. Metallica will always have a built in fan base, no matter how terrible their music gets or what kind of shitty bands they choose to tour with. Will it sells as much as their first 4 CDs, the Black Album, or even Load? Probably not. Metallica is already laughed at by a large majority of people. Hell, they're hated by some too thanks to the whole online music thing, another issue I care nothing about. I'm sure having Avril and Limp Bizkit covering their songs in a week won't exactly boost their credibility. Their summer tour looks brutal (not good). Hell, the album art and track list from the new CD, plus what I've read, just screams "pissed at everything nu metal", so expect Metallica to hit huge with the repetitive lyrics and songs featuring the same riff over and over and over through out the whole CD. Hell, the album may actually be good and I could be talking out my ass. I won't buy it though. I have better things to spend my cash on. There are other bands out there that deserve my money, like Mastodon and the Haunted. I'll say FACT anyway. It'll move enough copies to get them the only thing they care about these days. The cash.

Mr. Tito: Given that today's "success" means that you only need to sell 3-5 million, I say FACT. St. Anger, given Metallica's previous history, can easily sell 3 million. I'll definitely buy the album because I like all of the band's albums, and I don't think it would disappoint ME. However, I don't believe the ridiculous hype that says Metallica will return to "first 3 album" style with this new album. Back in the 1980's, Metallica was young and hungry, and now, they are rich and famous. Different attitudes, for sure. I do believe, though, that they were angry regarding all of the negative publicity they received during the Napster wars, along with various criticisms throughout the years that they've changed their styles. St. Anger sounding like the old Metallica? No, but it should be a good enough Metallica album for the fans who still support the band and maybe a few for outside of the band.

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