Welcome back to Wrestling's FACT or FICTION, the column greatly dedicated to the cool feature on ESPN's Sportscenter. Apologies for the delay on this column, as the busy Memorial Day weekend pushed the publishing back a little bit. Our favorite Optimus, Schwab, is busy again this weekend, which we respect, and LoP Columnist RAW is Snapple will fill in to make the 3 way dance consist of him, Mr. Tito, and Da Ref. Here's a brief intro on RAW is Snapple:
RAW is Snapple: Introduction: For those of you who don't know me, shame on you. I am the one called Snapple, and I'm the writer of the pimpingest wrestling column on the internet, "Wrestling in a Bottle," hosted exclusively here on LordsofPain. I started watching wrestling at an early age, fell out of it for many years, then got back into it around my freshman year in high school. Ever since then, I've made it one of my goals to absorb as much about American wrestling as humanly possible, past and present. I think I've done a pretty good job so far. When Tito needed someone to fill in for this week, of course he came begging for my help. He was all, "Snapple!11 OMGWTFLOL!!!!" so I was more than gracious to help out.
Thanks again to Snapple for filling in, especially on such short notice. Please check out his most recent column by CLICKING HERE.
On to the FoF. First topic!
1. FACT or FICTION: Ric Flair is the greatest all around American wrestler of the last 25 years.
RAW is Snapple: When you consider all the many wrestlers who have come and gone over the last 25 years, you would figure there would be at least one better than Ric Flair. However, I can't really think of any. FACT. I don't deny the man has the goods. He's one of the greatest mic workers ever, and even though he's way past his prime, he can still carry Triple-H to a better match than a lot of the young guys. He just has that intangible something, the heart for wrestling that not many wrestlers can fully grasp.
Mr. Tito: Definitely a FACT. When you needed someone to carry the promotion, you could always rely on Flair. He was clearly the best World Champion of the 1980's, which says something, and worked his hardest to make each match of his worthy of the label "main event". Each time you thought he was finished in his role as top guy in the promotion, he always made a big comeback. He won his popularity over based on wrestling ability and charisma, and wasn't big due to a Vince McMahon hype machine or a lucky break on a movie, like Rocky 3 in the case of Hulk Hogan. The NWA should have thanked their lucky stars that they had Flair around to keep their company alive longer than it should have been around in the 1980's.
Da Ref: Isn't it obvious that it's FACT? Flair has and will always be "The Man" and there is no one that can come close. In the ring, the guy has had tremendous matches against pretty much every wrestler that he's come across, whether they were able to work or not. However, this past Monday showed that other element that he had. Whether he was a heel or a face, he could get the people to care about his matches. He could get the fans to react and be on the edge of their seats the entire time. How many wrestlers today can make that claim?
2. FACT or FICTION: Without Paul Heyman as the "head booker" of Smackdown, the show's quality has decreased ever since his demotion.
Mr. Tito: Clearly a FACT. Proof is easily provided in Chris Benoit and Matt Hardy's diminished roles, 2 guys who can work a match well and 2 guys who were shining in early 2003 when Heyman was still in charge. The fact that the Big Show received another push is just embarrassing, and Vince McMahon has been hogging up way too much television time, something he'd be slightly limited in if Heyman was around to argue with him. Every once and a while, you'll get good matches, but not as often as you did during 2002 when Smackdown was the show to watch from the WWE. It's too bad, too.
Da Ref: I'm saying FICTION but not just because of Heyman's lack of involvement. You also have to fit in the frequent pushes for Paul Wight and Albert as well as the lack of pushes for guys like Chris Benoit, Matt Hardy, and others who have drawn a reaction. The guys that replaced Heyman are a guy who got a writing credit for an episode of "Friends" and Bruce Pritchard, whose biggest claim to fame is wearing red makeup on his face and screaming, "I LOOOOVVEEEE YOUUUUU!" from 1989 to the early 90's. People can talk about how if Heyman was a genius, how come ECW isn't still alive. However, at least Heyman has a clue about the business. I still remember when Pritchard was watching a tape at a UPW show and talked about how some guy had the right look and could learn to wrestle.
RAW is Snapple: That's a very good question, but much like my favorite books, this one's FICTION. A lot of people give Heyman credit for disagreeing with a lot of Vince's ideas as of late, which I do admire, but it's not like his own ideas are all that special. Like Da Ref said, this is the man that drove his own company into the ground. Sure, Heyman gave us a lot of long free television matches with Smackdown!'s top stars last fall, but anyone could do that. The Heyman era took attention away from feuds and put more attention on fighting pointless matches. Although picking two of the Smackdown! Six and throwing them together in a match with no purpose can be fun, there's something to be said about building a match properly instead of giving it away. I think the only reason Smackdown! is usually better than RAW is because of the sheer roster talent, not the bookers.
3. FACT or FICTION: Rico, now broken away from 3 Minute Warning, will see a respectable singles push.
Da Ref: I gotta say FICTION. In order to really push him, the UnCreative Team have to completely recreate him. They'd have to take Rico and give him a new gimmick to get him away from the managerial gimmick that he's had and it doesn't look like they'll even try to. When he walked out of the ring, they were playing the AssF*ck(credit to LOP forum member rabidwolverine4life for the name) entrance music.
RAW is Snapple: I don't have to think about that one for more than a few seconds. FICTION. What happened to the guy who used to kick some ass on American Gladiators? What happened to the guy who was being called the next breakout star from OVW? Well, the WWE made him a gay hairstylist. Talk about "paying your dues," but it's well over a year after Rico debuted, and he still has the same gimmick, even though he's been managing a Samoan Gangsta tag team. We saw a glimpse of his potential when he fought a great match against Rey Mysterio last year, but the WWE hasn't known what to do with him, and it shows. It's possible to completely rebuild his credibility, but the writers aren't that smart. The guy is also over 40 already, so how far can he go before his age catches up with him?
Mr. Tito: Rico was handpicked by OVW trainers to be placed on the WWE roster. In fact, Jim Cornette was the most "high" on Rico's talent than any of the guys in OVW, and that includes John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Team Angle, and others. But you know, the WWE isn't high on him, as proof of this was from his role as Billy and Chuck's stylist. The WWE has no real intention on pushing this guy from this, so FICTION. I'm sure Jim Cornette makes regular calls, screaming at WWE road agents as to why Rico can't get a fair shake as a wrestler in the WWE. What hurts Rico is his size and age. He's a small guy and on the RAW roster, and I believe he's either pushing 40 or 40 already. Two strikes that will always be against him, despite having a great style of wrestling that you just can't teach. He'll be the regular heel jobber on Heat when it's all said and done.
4. Undertaker vs. Bossman OR Nash vs. Triple H: Which Hell in the Cell match will go down as the worst Hell in the Cell match in the history of the WWE/WWF?
RAW is Snapple: The thing about Undertaker-Bossman and HHH-Nash is that they both have one thing in common. They both had the Hell in a Cell stipulation added because nobody cared about either feud. The Undertaker was feuding with the Corporation, nobody cared, so let's add a Hell in a Cell to make people care. It didn't work then, and it won't work now. I have no doubt that people will still look back on Taker-Bossman as a bad match, but I think the winner of Snapple's Award for Craptacular Cage Wrestling will be Nash vs. Triple-H. As bad as Triple-H has been lately, Nash is just that much worse. Old Jell-O knees can't even walk more than one mph, let alone run. Nash has yet to even take an Irish whip since returning from injury. There's no way these guys are healthy enough to make this match work. In fact, the selling caption for the match should be "Four quads go in... No quads come out."
Mr. Tito: It's very much that Undertaker vs. Bossman will be the WORST Hell in the Cell mach when it's all said and done. That was the biggest eyesore on the Wrestlemania 15 card, and it was a match that featured nothing spectacular, other than Bossman getting hung when the cage went up. Triple H vs. Kevin Nash will be better because Triple H is going to bump around for his good buddy, Nash. Triple H isn't afraid to bleed, and for his pal Nash, he might just take a bump or two. Only for Nash.
Da Ref: Ugh. Both give me the heeby-jeebies just thinking about them. Overall, I'll go with Nash vs. Triple H as the worst. Taker/Bossman is pretty much forgotten because there was no real angle behind it, which means that there was no real build up for it. With that, it came and went as a footnote. However, the next one is going to be a main event. Not only that, it's the 1st main event of the first all-brand PPV. When you add it how well their match at Judgment Day went along with the fact that neither man is going to be willing to take the big bump off the cage, which is pretty much expected from the crowd, there's nothing even remotely redeeming about this match.
5. FACT or FICTION: With the new look and IC title around his waist, Christian could become the breakout wrestler of 2003 for the WWE.
Mr. Tito: This is FICTION only because I doubt Christian is willing to take an excessive amount of steroids to become larger. Despite being a great talker, he's too small in stature for the WWE to care in the long run.
Da Ref: I still believe FICTION and I've talked about this on the board. I'm still not seeing how they can push a guy that hasn't gotten a real reaction in over a year and that was when he was a tag team wrestler. When it comes to his promos, he needs someone to play off of to really get something going. With the IC Title around his waist, I don't see anything different. As far as his new look goes, I saw the new look and I wondered and wondered who he reminded me of. Then, I heard it on an online show and it's not exactly helpful. Christian's new look is that of Test after being put into the dryer for a little too long.
RAW is Snapple: I've gone back and forth on this question, but I'm going to just go ahead and say FACT. The problem hasn't been Christian's talent. I've always been a big supporter of his work, and I still am. True, Christian's already had two failed singles pushes since he and Edge have split, but you could attribute that to a number of things. His first push was too rushed, and his second push was the crybaby gimmick. While it was amusing, it was a deadend gimmick. You could also say that his Marty Janetty look has kept him in tag teams. In any case, Christian always falls short, and as a result, the fans had all but stopped caring. What Christian needed was to be completely retooled, a brand new look and gimmick, and that's just what he got. In a short time, Christian is already getting a better fan reaction than he's probably ever gotten. As long as he keeps his 'New People's Champ' schtick and stays away from the tag division, I think he could be a strong addition to the upper midcard, definitely. He has the look and the ability. He's good to go.
6. FACT or FICTION: The WWE is wrong for exploiting the death of Miss Elizabeth on Confidential and for trashing Lex Luger as well.
Da Ref: Absolute FACT. Here's the big question. Would McMahon have gone as far as he did with this if Luger hadn't left the WWF the way he did? What the Confidential segments were about wasn't the tragedy concerning the death of Elizabeth. It was about two things. The first was to distance WWE as far as possible from the whole incident and really put more of the blame on WCW for not having that "family environment" that the McMahon's try and push. The second was to just trash Luger. They talked about the 911 call on Easter Sunday and mentioned that there was talk about physical abuse. They went on and talked about all of the drugs that were found at Luger's place, the DUI where the cops found a loaded handgun, and all sorts of things that probably had less to do about Elizabeth. Did WWE talk about Hennig's problems when they were talking about his death? No, not even after the coroner's report mention traces of cocaine. Yet, the pieces on Elizabeth's death mentioned that it could be drug related WITHOUT THE CORONER'S REPORT EVEN BEING FINISHED.
RAW is Snapple: That's a FACT. It seems very odd to give tributes to most wrestlers, but instead of a tribute piece, Miss Elizabeth gets used as an excuse for Vince to take potshots at WCW and Luger. 'Miss Elizabeth was always very happy in the WWF. Then she went to WCW, where everyone was mean and made her depressed.' Give me a break. If the WWE is trying to end Lex's wrestling career for good, they're doing a fair job of it.
Mr. Tito: Although I think the WWE is full of sick fucks in the offices, production trucks, and in the McMahon family, I'll say FICTION. Why? Because Vince McMahon and company already signed their way into Hell long ago. Through their exploits of sex, making fun of the deceased, killing off many wrestlers through their size demands or painful road schedule, and much more. Who cares anymore? I can't see how any employee in the WWE can even go into a church or have any morals for standing what the WWE has stood for since the "Attitude" era started. It's bullshit like this that makes you want the WWE to keep losing money and business, given that karma is just what Vince McMahon deserves.
7. FACT or FICTION: Vince McMahon is losing his mind.
RAW is Snapple: You mean he hasn't already? Kidding aside, I'm going to say FACT. I don't forget that Vince has done insane things for his entire career. First there was the fight between Ali and Antonio Inoki. There was also the Bodybuilding Federation. More recently Vince tried the XFL. However, I think no matter what dumb thing Vince was trying, at least there was some rhyme or reason to believe his risks would work, and sometimes it paid off, like when he made Wrestlemania. Now, instead of being smart, Vince is hiring guys that should've retired years ago, pushing sloths like the Big Show and the A-Train, and booking nonsense angles like necrophilia and Al Wilson. Even though wrestlers and writers alike have questioned the reasoning behind Vince's decisions, he doesn't quit.
Mr. Tito: This is FICTION. Vince knows exactly what he's doing. He has eliminated all competition from the market, and he still makes money off the WWE, no matter how bad the content may be. He's made his millions, so now he's sitting back and watching the product HE wants to watch, not the fans. He doesn't care about the fans needs, and your own arrogance and laziness does not constitute a lost mind.
Da Ref: To quote Bill Murray, that's a FACT, Jack! Actually, I think he's been losing or completely lost his mind a couple of years ago. In 2000, his company was doing so well that he thought he could take it from the USA Network, which is available in pretty much every cable market there is, and do the same business he did there on TNN, which is still not available in all that many markets. Then, he thought he could create a football league but that ended up getting the absolute lowest ratings in the history of network TV. As part of his contract with Viacom, he got the chance to produce "Manhunt", which was supposed to be like a larger version of American Gladiators or Survivor. (All I know is one of the "hunters" was a former American Gladiator.) Then, you had the creation of Smackdown Records which had Neurotica as its one sole artist. How has McMahon lost his mind? He believed that he could do what he did for wrestling and translate it to other avenues. Yet, he seemed to have forgotten about the failures he encountered before he started to really get involved in wrestling like the Evel Kneivel event and the rock concerts he tried to promote.
RETRO FACT or FICTION: The WWE would have still beat WCW and put them out of business if the Survivor Series 1997 Montreal Screwjob never happened.
Mr. Tito: Maybe in the long run, so I'll say FACT. In 1997, before Survivor Series, the WWE was starting to grow as a business again and WCW was really beginning to spend heavily. They just resigned several superstars to higher contracts, such as Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan, while making ridiculous paychecks to guys like Dennis Rodman. The simple fact that WCW did NOTHING with Bret Hart when he came in goes to show you that they wouldn't have changed their path, other than hotshotting the Hogan vs. Goldberg match early. But still, they were on track to overspend themselves in 1998, as 1997-1998 were the years where the big contracts were made that helped put WCW out of business. I do think it was only a matter of time before Austin was going to set the world on fire, and the Rock was getting better by the month anyway.
Da Ref: This is a tough one. I'd have to go more with FICTION. If you look back at the 90's, ask yourself which match was the most talked about. If you think about it, the Montreal screwjob was definitely that match. If what happened in that match never happened and they went with the whole deal where Bret would either hand the title over or drop it in the US, no one would've cared enough to turn the channel to RAW to see what would happen next.
RAW is Snapple: Now there's a controversial question if I heard one. Even though I feel for Bret, I'm going out on a limb and saying FICTION. In addition to the Montreal Screwjob getting people to talk, it gave birth to the whole "Mr. McMahon" character. Even if it's tiresome to see Vince opening the show every week in this day and age, back then he was a hot commodity, and a huge part of establishing Steve Austin in the main event. It's one event that created a whole domino effect of storylines, that in the end really helped the WWF product. I can't honestly say things would've worked the same if it never happened.
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