Welcome to another installment of FACT OR FICTION with William Martinez and Mr. Tito. Today, we discuss such topics as Austin's effect on No Way Out, Torrie Wilson in Playboy, Shane McMahon as RAW GM, Chris Jericho, and wrestler deaths. A nice mixture of topics, heavily weighted on the WWE.

Funny that last week Steve Austin participated on ESPN's FACT or FICTION, where the idea for this column originated. ESPN gave Austin only a minute to participate in the "Texas edition". Oh well, take publicity where you can take it.

Please e-mail all feedback to William Martinez at martinezlop@hotmail.com or to Mr. Tito at wrathoftito@yahoo.com.

1) FACT OR FICTION: By not showing up on television just yet, Steve Austin is going to help give the WWE a successful buyrate for No Way Out.

Mr. Tito: It's a FACT because the WWE hasn't given away Austin for free on television, which I figured was going to happen. Glad they didn't pull the trigger, unlike many other times, such as having Triple H wrestle on a show after he returned before the Royal Rumble in 2001, and many other examples. Many 1998-Attitude fans have been craving Austin for a while, but I fear that these spiked buyrates/ratings will only be short term, as bad writing backstage will still produce lousy shows weekly. Just the hype of Austin being on the show has given the WWE a 4.1 rating and a 3.9 rating in the last 3 weeks, with the middle week producing a disappointing number. He'll spike No Way Out, despite it being a lousy card overall, and hopefully be given a good opponent for Wrestlemania 19.

William Martinez: Provided Steve Austin doesn't show up on another television this week, WWE has written this angle BEAUTIFULLY. Definite FACT. I thought the move of having Austin show up after Raw went off the air was a brilliant move as word of mouth will spread that Steve Austin will actually be at No Way Out, thus quieting the skeptics of the appearance actually occuring due to past incidents such as Triple H's return at Vengeance 2001. In my opinion, Steve Austin is the person who could show up on WWE today and give the maximum impact WWE expects from these hyped-debuts/returns. Fans have been very well informed about the circumstances that lead to Austin's departure and while gone, he has never really been forgotten. I feel that you can have the return of Hulk Hogan, you can have the debut of Scott Steiner but the return of Steve Austin is completely on a different level and I think it will result in a successful buyrate for WWE.

2) FACT OR FICTION: Torrie Wilson's issue of Playboy will outsell Sable's Playboy.

William Martinez: Not to say that I'm not looking forward to the issue but I seriously doubt that it will outsell Sable's issue. Total FICTION. At the time of its release, Sable was the feature female on WWE television at a period when WWE (then WWF) was at the heights of their popularity. Sable's fanbase was also extremely larger than Torrie Wilson's is now. Personally, I find Torrie Wilson more attractive than Sable, and if the large majority of fans think that, then I could be proven wrong.

Mr. Tito: I agree fully with Martinez in that this is FICTION. The likes of Sable and Sunny were downloaded on the internet before many other celebrity women were getting showcased online. Horny wrestling fans CRAVED Sable back then, ever since she came out in those leather outfits with Marc Mero. Plus, let's not forget the many revealing bikinis she wore, such as the hands and the one she wore under the potato sack one time. People wanted to see her naked, and badly, at the time, and with her being a hot property in 1998 as part of the Attitude revolution, it sold many issues. Isn't it one of the top selling Playboys of the 1990's? I do, however, also think that Torrie is more attractive than Sable, but Torrie is in a role that Sable opened the door for long ago.

3) FACT OR FICTION: Shane McMahon will still end up as RAW's General Manager.

Mr. Tito: This is a FACT, for sure. Wrestlemania is coming up, and the McMahons can't help but be showcased for that show. Shane wasn't a part of last year's WM, so he's itching for a role this year, I know it. After hearing the pop Shane received for the one appearance, I'm assuming that gears have already been shifted in Vince's sick mind that Shane's presence could be used as a quick ratings spike, and maybe Bischoff and Shane could have some sort of fight for the GM spot on RAW on television? I just see Shane getting on television somehow and this seems like it will happen. Plus, you have to wonder how much longer Vince will keep Eric Bischoff around as a character, anyway, because Eric has made his money in the wrestling industry and is basically doing what you see today for fun.

William Martinez: This is FICTION. If WWE was really going to go through with having Shane McMahon as the Raw General Manager, they would have done it on Raw this past Monday. There are a lot of problems with Raw but Eric Bischoff in the GM position is not one of them. I enjoy the chemistry between Bischoff and Chief Morley and that alone was why I thought all along that Bischoff would keep his job. I think WWE recognizes that chemistry and will allow the duo to grow more. Of course, as well as know, things can change at the drop of a hat with Vince McMahon. I really think, and hope, that Vince has finally realized that McMahons do not necessarily mean ratings especially with how much they've been exposed in the last few years. I certainly support a role for Shane McMahon on Raw but I believe that the Bischoff character is far better in the GM role and I think Vince feels the same way.

4) FACT OR FICTION: Excluding Austin, Chris Jericho is the best wrestler/performer on Monday Night RAW.

William Martinez: No one makes me follow Raw more closely than Chris Jericho does. FACT. He plays his gimmick so well and backs it up with his ring ability beautifully. It's a damn shame that Jericho will never get the chance to shine as Raw's number one heel with Triple H on the roster because Jericho has far surpassed Triple H in overall performance (which is why I think Jericho is being shoved into this angle with Test...but that's another story all together). The only person I see that comes close to combining wrestling and performance is Booker T with Rob Van Dam in a distant third.

Mr. Tito: I agree completely. FACT. I was actually cheering for Jericho at the Royal Rumble. Since Jericho came over to RAW, nobody has putting up good and consistent performances like Chris Jericho has on that show. NOBODY. His personality is bar none, the best on the show, and his wrestling ability is no longer flawed with some spots in matches. He's starting to do well with carry jobs, like recent ones on the un-motivated Jeff Hardy. I actually can't wait for his Wrestlemania match with Shawn Michaels. It should blowaway HBK's work with Triple H, aside from the Summerslam match. It's a damn shame that Triple H is too solid at the top heel position, meaning he won't ever let it go. But he's clearly the best wrestler on RAW and one of the few reasons to keep watching that crummy show.

5) FACT OR FICTION: Something, whether it's strict health regulations or excessive drug tests, needs to be done to keep professional wrestlers from dying before the age of 50.

Mr. Tito: Of course it's a FACT. The stresses of making a great living from wrestling are killing these guys. Whether it's from cosmetic stress (muscle enhancers), road stress (drugs and alcohol), or just overall pain of being a wrestler (excessive pain killers), our favorite guys whom we watched in the WWE in the 1980's or early 1990's are suddenly disappearing before our very eyes. Guys like Rick Rude, Davey Boy Smith, or Brian Pillman died due to their bodies giving out from years of muscle enhancer abuse. Louie Spicoli died from an excessive amount of pain killers, among other things. Bobby Duncum Jr. died from a drug overdose. It's obvious that there's too much pressure to become something big in wrestling that these guys are forced to put their bodies through hell just to make a buck. It's not hardly this bad in other professional sports.

William Martinez: While this might seem to be an obvious FACT, I actually almost went with fiction on this for the reason that I think the independent business would die if this were to occur because it would have to be them who would have to enforce drug tests and regulations on these fading stars which I doubt would go over too well with them. Unless the death of Curt Hennig proves to have anything to do with drugs, I don't think that this is a serious problem just yet but it would be nice to find a way to take care of retired wrestlers after they've retired and given all they have to the business.

------Thanks for Reading,

-William Martinez

-Mr. Tito

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