Welcome to the returning edition of Wrestling's FACT or FICTION. It's been a busy couple of weeks, which put a brief vacation on this very column. But we're back this week and ready to serve up some Fact or Fiction before the first ever RAW brand only Pay Per View, Bad Blood.
Our good man SCHWAB is busy with some outside projects, insomuch that he's behind on his WWE material in addition to having a lack of time to contribute. So instead, we have our newest substitute for the week, Phantom Lord, who is a longtime poster at the LoP Forums and one of the best posters there, in my opinion. Here's a brief description of himself:
Phantom Lord: My name is Phantom Lord and I've been posting on the LOP Board's for a little over a year and a half. I've been watching wrestling as far back as I can remember. My first real memory was Arnold Skaland throwing in the towel on Bob Backlund when he was facing the Iron Shiek. I've pretty much seen it all in the last 20 years or so when it comes to the WWF/E. Right now I'm the head writer for the PWA. It's an E-Fed in the F.F.A of the LOP Forums. I out book and out write them on a weekly basis. But if you come to the forums, odd's are you have seen my postings in every forum. There is no subject that I don't have an opinion on. Consider me the Jesse Ventura of this column for this week.
Well said. On to the Fact or Fiction with Mr. Tito, Da Ref, and the debuting Phantom Lord. Feedback to ALL 3 writers is very much appreciated.
1) FACT or FICTION: Mick Foley will be tempted into working full time for the WWE again.
Mr. Tito: I say this is FICTION. Unless he comes out of retirement as a wrestler, the WWE will only want him in a position to appear every once and a while to maybe referee a match here. There's no use in spending more dollars on another personality who isn't wrestling in the ring. When Foley needs a book to plug, he'll come back to work. But as far as a full time schedule again, it's not happening. Foley invested his money well and has a family to spend time with.
Phantom Lord: I'm leaning towards fiction, but with a new book and the overall need for a face on RAW that Triple H can't run down I'm gonna say FACT on this one. He got such a huge response this monday and he took some vicious shots. I have a feeling he will be lured into working a program with Triple H leading to his comeback and ultimate final match at Summer Slam. With almost 2 months in between Bad Blood and Summer Slam even the Un-creative team could figure out an angle for Foley to work in that time frame that would carry the show.
Da Ref: I gotta believe FICTION. Will Foley be tempted to work a couple of matches? It's possible. However, the fact that Foley has been retired from in-ring action for almost three years is longer than pretty much every wrestler that has ever retired. That shows he's more committed to life outside the ring.
2) FACT or FICTION: The Bad Blood Pay Per View will have a larger buyrate than Backlash and Judgment Day.
Phantom Lord: I'm gonna say FICTION. I just don't see this ppv making the common fan say "I have to order this. I can't miss it". With Foley's return aside there is nothing on this card that could make it a big ppv in terms of buyraters. Sure old school fans might tune in to see Flair/HBK (Which should be a classic match and probably worth half the $34.95 they charge for a ppv assuming it goes 15 minutes), but even with that it's just an average show. You can pretty much guess who will win just by looking at the card.
Da Ref: Considering the fact that they have done more to push the matches on the show, I'll say FACT. If you look at the card for Bad Blood, there are almost as many matches that were developed on this one card as there were on Backlash and Judgment Day combined. Right there is something that is a bonus for the fans. I think the best thing they've done is in the Goldberg/Jericho match. Throughout the entire angle, Goldberg NEVER speared Jericho, which was something that the fans were expecting. Just when the fans thought it was going to happen, Jericho sprayed Pepper Spray in Goldberg's eyes or pulled Charles Robinson in the way. I realize it's a small thing but it's things like that that get the fans interested in the matches.
Mr. Tito: I agree with Da Ref's points, and I'll go with FACT, too. This may have been the best promoted/hyped event the WWE has had in 2003! Now granted, the matches aren't that special, but each match has had its share of television time to get over. Each feud has had several weeks to develop. I was happy with creative on the RAW side for the first time in a long time for the month of May. Also add to the fact that Backlash and Judgment Day received little or no attention from wrestling fans, insomuch that many didn't even know either show was on. This show has Jericho vs. Goldberg, Foley as the guest referee for the Hell in the Cell match, Flair vs. HBK, Christian vs. Booker T for the IC title, and more. Why couldn't the WWE hype their previous Pay Per Views like this?
3) FACT or FICTION: Kane should be pushed as RAW's top wrestler.
Da Ref: Absolute FICTION. His last chance of maybe becoming a top RAW name was squashed at No Mercy against Helmsley. The time that they should've really pushed Kane was upon his entry. He was working the gimmick of being the Undertaker's burnt brother and was getting big matches. At that point, any gimmick change that he went through down the line could be seen as character development. However, he has seen his stock drop and the fans don't really buy him as a serious player. Nowadays, any character development is just viewed as the company illustrating pure desperation. Plus, what has he done to show himself as a serious top name? He's been a part of two uninspiring tag teams that held the titles.
Mr. Tito: I say FACT, because look. He's a big man who can actually perform at a higher level than say the Undertaker, Albert, or the Big Show. He's a hoss, but a more talented hoss. If he was pushed to the title, he'd make a believeable champion. Nobody else on the RAW roster has the look of Kane, and Kane has a decent workrate to back that up. He's a lost soul in the tag team division with RVD. He SHOULD be pushed to the top of the card.
Phantom Lord: I say FICTION on this one. As much as I like Kane, the necro angle totally killed any chance he had as a viable main eventer. His character is really stale and odd's are Stone Cold's motivation will lead him to turn on RVD at the ppv creating a feud between them two. Now a feud between them would work if it ran till Summer Slam. But knowing the Creative team they would give up on it with in a couple weeks and just have Kane and RVD blend into the mid card like they have been for the last 7 months.
4) FACT or FICTION: Actual drug testing, for steroids and other drugs, will actually get enforced in the WWE.
Mr. Tito: HA! That's an absolute joke. Recent apparent drug testing laws are getting enforced in New York, hence why this topic was brought up. FICTION. Today, wrestlers know how to use muscle enhancers safer than ever. They'll juice up for a while and lay off for a while, which will maintain your size without giving you major side effects from roids or muscle enhancers. Drug testing was supposed to happen after 1994 when Vince McMahon ALMOST went to prison for the distribution of steroids, but given recent deaths, such as Brian Pillman and others with greatly enlarged hearts, which is your proof that illegal muscle enhancers still exist within the WWE. Vince will turn a blind eye to steroid use as long as his wrestlers look large with muscles.
Phantom Lord: Well Scott Stiener does look like he dropped some muscle mass...but this one is FICTION. Pro Athletes in all sports know how to get around the most strictest of drug testing. Testing for roids and other drugs with Wrestlers is going to be no different. Plus the current law here in New York is once a year. One tipoff and guys who are obviously on drugs will pass with flying colors. Vince wants guys to look there best. Triple H, Nash, and Stiener would be screwed with out their build. So I kinda doubt testing would do much.
Da Ref: Unless they plan on going to Oregon on a semi-regular basis, that's FICTION all the way. Here's the deal with Athletic Commissions. From what I understand, guys that test positive will have their licenses pulled and they won't be allowed to legally work the shows. If a show has a non-licensed worker on the program in an in-ring role, the promoter is fined. Now, an indy promoter getting fined for something like that is a huge situation. The company takes maybe a couple thousand at the gate but unless they have a lot of sponsorships, that money is used to pay off the workers on the show, the owners of the building, and the Commission. After that, they probably won't have anything to show for the matches. With Vince, he can take in 4,000 easily whether it be a House Show, TV taping, or PPV. Then, you include the fact that they make serious money with their merchandising stands unlike at indy shows where wrestlers run their own gimmick tables and take all the money. Plus, they sell their own DVD's and videos, which means more money. With that, a fine from the Commission isn't going to matter as much to Vince McMahon as it would to an indy promoter.
5) FACT or FICTION: Sable as Smackdown's Co-General Manager is a bad idea.
Phantom Lord: Much like most of Ole Anderson's booking from the early 90's this is a huge FACT. By all accounts Sable is in this angle because Princess Stephanie wanted some tv time with her. Now I'm sure all the lesbian inuendo's will be fun to watch, but this will lead to nothing in the end. Just a bunch of akward looking promo's and segments. I love how Sable is doing all this stuff after the whole law suit. But as they say, Karma is a bitch. But at least she still has her body. Worst comes to worse we can all hit mute.
Da Ref: FACT. Does anyone else realize the confusion of the whole situation? Legitimately, the McMahons(Vince, Linda, Shane, and Stephanie) own the company. In the storylines, there are two owners with Vince and Linda McMahon. On RAW, you have Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff as the Co-General Managers. On Smackdown, you have Stephanie McMahon and Sable. Also, Vince said that he was "taking charge" of Smackdown unless Sable is replacing her. With Smackdown and RAW having their own Co-General Managers and each show's Co-GM's not getting along, will this lead to Linda calling yet another late night meeting where she will determine that each show will split yet again with yet another draft? Then, will that lead to matches between the show's GM's to determine the sole GM of that show? Ugh. Sable versus Stephanie and Austin versus Bischoff. My brain is bubbling at the thought of those matches.
Mr. Tito: I believe, from watching the recent Smackdown, that Sable is just an assistant. Regardless, she's put in a position where she'll cause conflict with Stephanie and annoy her. I say this is FICTION only because nothing really matters. Vince McMahon has very much taken over Smackdown for himself, as Stephanie herself has even been involved with the Vince vs. Hogan feud. Vince is running the show, if you didn't notice. No need for 2 people underneath him when they are powerless in Vince's presence, who is getting WAY too ridiculous with this Mr. America feud.
6) FACT or FICTION: Mr. America will be revealed as another wrestler instead of Hulk Hogan.
Da Ref: If they are finally smart about this, I'll go with FACT. I remember back in 1991 when WCW had Black Blood(Billy Jack Haynes) as the one that finally unmasked the Yellow Dog. In the end, it turned out to be Rip Rogers all along. (Well....anyways.) It was a way to end the angle and bring back Brian Pillman without leaving all sorts of questions. Right now, they have to answer the whole Lie Detector segment on Smackdown from a few weeks ago. Everyone knows that Mr. America is Hogan. In order to at least feign respecting the intelligence of the fans, they have to get someone and use him to be Mr. America the night that he gets unmasked.
Mr. Tito: I say FICTION. What wrestler would it make sense to be Mr. America instead of Hogan? It was apparently going to be Billy Gunn at one time, but that was changed. I have a feeling Mr. America vs. Vince McMahon will occur at the Smackdown Pay Per View, and it will feature the mask on the line. Somehow, Vince will get his return victory just to set up the "rubber match" between these two, maybe at Summerslam. As if you thought seeing 2 middle-aged men wrestling 3 times in one year wasn't enough...
Phantom Lord: You have to think FACT on this one. It just reeks of the Brian Pillman "Yellow Dog" angle in WCW. I waiting for Brutha Brutis to magically appear as Mr. America when the mask comes off. Of course the tip off will be Mr. America suddenly gained 100 lbs and his offense will consist of a High Knee and Sleeper. But yeah that's probably what will happen. If Zack Gowen wrestles as Mr. America I'll be mighty pissed. This angle is pure comedy, but knowing them they would do something that dumb.
7) Shane or Stephanie: When Vince McMahon retires, steps down, or passes away, which McMahon child will run the WWE?
Mr. Tito: It's extremely apparent that STEPHANIE McMahon is the more aggressive and power-hungry McMahon child. In 2000, she quickly bull-headed the creative team and became consumed with power from the WWE's very profitable year. Plus, she's dating Triple H, who lives, eats, and breathes the wrestling business, and has wanted to be a McMahon this whole time. Stephanie and Triple H will run the WWE for the next few years, while Shane will be left in the cold, while continuing to head up that hard to administer media section of the WWE, which he's currently doing right now while Stephanie has good control over RAW/Smackdown.
Phantom Lord: I would think SHANE gets the nod here. Stephanie has proven to be a very irresponsible executive and booker/writer. Her relationship with Triple H has blurred her from doing her job. But since he keeps her pleased why wouldn't she listen to him. Shane on the other hand has proven time and time again he is willing to give to the company. Plus I'm almost certain had he really gained control of WCW, he would of given his old man a run a for his money. But assuming Vince is in perfect health we have maybe another 25 years of him at the helm. Heaven help us.
Da Ref: With the fact that she's still with the Creative Team, I gotta believe it'll be STEPHANIE. She's the head of the team that creates the storylines for the programs. Her role is just under Vince's. Meanwhile, Shane is....somewhere involved with multimedia or something. So even though Stephanie isn't exactly being a productive member of the team, it would seem that Vince is grooming her to take over. I'm not saying it's the right thing to do but it just seems logical for....wait a second. Logic...WWE...on second thought, let me change my answer. The next head of WWE will probably be the guy that was embezzling funds from the World.
8) FACT or FICTION: (Thanks to a reader for this idea) After seeing the fitting tributes to Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker deserves a fitting tribute once he retires or is coming close to the end of his full time wrestling career.
Phantom Lord: ::Spits out Tobbacco:: You Know it's a FACT. The Undertaker is the most loyal and respected man in the company. I still think he has a couple good years left in him, but when he finally leaves the yard I think the man who used to dress Like Satan should get an epic tribute. When I was younger he scared the shit out of me. I will never forget him and Paul Barer locking The Ultimate Warrior in a coffin and all the WWF officals franticly trying to drill air holes into the coffin and when they broke it open the inside was all clawed out. He's provided us with some of the best visuals of the decade. Only fitting he gets a great tribute to cap it off.
Da Ref: I'm going to take the heat on this one and say FICTION. If the Undertaker deserves a fitting tribute when he retires, there are a number of people that will deserve it and those who are still owed a tribute. Where was Mick Foley's tribute?
Mr. Tito: A reader asked me this and it's been in my head ever since. On one end, I look at the Undertaker and he was NEVER the man who brought in business. Whenever he was the main eventer or the main guy on the cards, or even World Champion, business actually went down. The Undertaker didn't exactly set the world on fire with his long feud with Yokozuna, nor did anybody care when he won the World Title at Wrestlemania 13. Taker as champion during the summer of 2002 actually damaged business. HOWEVER, he's been very loyal to the WWE and didn't pussy out when it came to minor injuries. When the Undertaker takes time off, he takes it because he physically can't move a body part any longer. I say FICTION because the undefeated streak at Wrestlemania is a good enough tribute to this very loyal wrestler, while guys like Hogan or Flair brought people into the arenas and have had better decades than the Undertaker could dream of.
RETRO FACT or FICTION: Wrestlemania 4's original winner of the World Title tournament was Ted Dibiase. However, leading up to the event, the decision was made to give the World Title to Macho Man Randy Savage instead. Fact or Fiction, if the WWE made Ted Dibiase the World Champion at Wrestlemania 4, they would have been more successful as a wrestling promotion than they were giving the title to Randy Savage.
Da Ref: I'm saying FICTION because of that era. The philosophy that Vince and Vince Jr. believed was that the WWWF/WWF should be built around faces, not heels. One thing to note was that the reigns of all of the recognized WWF World Champions up to Wrestlemania IV who were heels(Buddy Rogers, Ivan Koloff, Stan Stasiak, Billy Graham, The Iron Sheik, and Andre The Giant) equaled less than 13 months. Billy Graham picked up the slack with his 10 month reign. While Graham's reign may seem impressive, you have to compare that to the faces, who had reigns that went from two years to almost twelve years. Plus, take a look at DiBiase and the way things were. DiBiase was a tremendous worker, a great heel, and could work the mic. However, he was 6'4" but not over 260 pounds or extremely muscular, which is what Vince really pushed during that era. So, it's not a question of whether or not having DiBiase as World Champion would make the company more successful. It's more like whether or not Vince would put enough time and energy into making DiBiase a huge focal point in the company.
Mr. Tito: Totally FICTION for me. Although I thought Dibiase had good heat and was a decent wrestler, I don't think he was World Championship material at the time. Macho Man had the better look, and on top of that, he had Elizabeth, who was a VITAL part of hyping Wrestlemania 5 and giving the WWE a big feud to work with in 1989. I honestly don't think the Hogan vs. Dibiase would be as big as the Megapowers colliding at Wrestlemania 5. Dibiase did well in his later years in the midcard, I thought, which was a more fitting role than a World Champion. Plus, he was starting to get into heavy drugs during this time, and that my friends isn't what you want in a world champ.
Phantom Lord: I'm gonna say FICTION. They only did that tournament because Hogan was off to film No Holds Barred. So who ever won it was just keeping the belt warm for Hogan. I think Dibiase would of been a great champion and he would of done some great promo's, but the fact remained soon as Hogan came back and the feud was in place he was winning the title back. But had Savage not won we would of never got to see the Mega Powers and the first ever strip tease on a ppv by Miss Elizabeth and the implosion of the Mega Powers which led to the classic match between them at Wrestlemania 5. But like I said this is Fiction since they were keeping the belt warm for Hogan.
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