Welcome to a brand new edition of Wrestling's FACT or FICTION, the greatest idea ever used from ESPN in association with professional wrestling. Today, boys and girls, we'll talk about issues such as Bill Goldberg, Christian, Linda McMahon's mouth, and much more.
This week's substitute, along with the usuals in Mr. Tito and Da Ref, is a fellow by the name of Scott Keith, as I'm sure many have heard of him. Here's a brief description: "Scott Keith writes exclusively for 411mania.com, including RAW, Smackdown, both brands of WWE PPV, the weekly NWA-TNA show, various Retro Rants on whatever videos and DVDs he has lying around in his collection, and DVD movie reviews for the Movies section of 411mania. Scott also has two books about wrestling on the market, including 2001's "The Buzz on Professional Wrestling" and 2003's "Tonight...In This Very Ring." The sequel to "Tonight...", due in October 2004, is entitled "One Ring Circus" and will focus on the period when the WWF became the WWE and fell apart completely as a result of one man's meddling. Who is that man? Read the book and find out!"
Personally speaking, I ran into Keith's work back when it was on Wrestlemaniacs, and then I followed him from there to his own website, theSmarks, and then to 411. I've followed his show reviews, comparing what he thought of the show to what I thought of the show. I really like his DVD reviews on 411, and some of his DVD rants are good if you're unsure whether to buy a certain DVD or not.
I reviewed his 2nd book in March (which you can read by Clicking Here), and I do recommend his book, "In this Very Ring" to anyone who wants a good crash course of the events and happenings of the WWF during the 1990's, especially. You can purchase his book by Clicking HERE.
1) FACT or FICTION: Bill Goldberg will be out of the WWE by Survivor Series 2003.
Scott Keith: I think this is pretty obviously FACT -- Goldberg has been booked very conservatively thus far and he hasn't reacted like a team player, which is not the way to earn a push to the top in the WWE. I don't always agree with the "paying your dues" theory, but for the kind of money he's getting paid preserving his dignity should be the last of his concerns. And most of his objections thus far have seemed to run in the "This won't be good for ME" category rather than the "This won't be good for the COMPANY" line that smarter people like HHH use to keep themselves from ever looking bad. Vince was never one to admit that someone else might have had a better idea than him, and I think they'll cut bait on Goldberg by the summer and chalk it up to him not being able to work main event style or whatever.
Da Ref: I gotta believe it's more of a FACT. The rumor going around is that his match against Helmsley at Summerslam is off with another match against Jericho being done instead. That's a telling sign. When you're keeping up a feud that was basically finished at the previous PPV, it means that they're putting Goldberg in a holding pattern. Also, there was the Linda McMahon comment, which I'll go into later.
Mr. Tito: I'll go with FICTION, only because Vince McMahon does not eat costs. Bill Goldberg has a yearly contract which pays him a DOWNSIDE GUARANTEE of $1.5 million per year. You can't tell me the last guy Vince sent home just because he wasn't working out on television. Mark Henry and the Big Show are excellent examples of this, as both have big contracts in the WWE and are pushed because Vince feels he needs to justify his investment. The same will apply for Bill Goldberg, as we better get used to seeing him in poorly booked roles throughout the summer and until his contract ends next year around April.
2) FACT or FICTION: Christian has been a worthy Intercontinental Champion thus far, and keeping the title on him was a good idea at Bad Blood.
Da Ref: I'm still saying FICTION and I'm still being proven right by what I see. I've said this before. His in-ring work isn't spectacular. His best interviews are when he has someone to play off of. He doesn't have the look that draws the fan's attention. If you want proof of that, take a look at the past RAW's and try to convince me that the crowd reacted to him. When he came out for his matches, the crowd was pretty much dead. Now, I've heard the argument that he hasn't been given any good programs that he can work with but that makes it even worse for him. Chris Jericho has been involved in angles that were more wretched. (At one point, he was looking for lotion and walking a damn dog while he was Undisputed Champion as part of the build up for his Wrestlemania Main Event match.) Yet, Jericho made the most of them and can still get a crowd reaction whether he's wrestling singles or in tag team matches. Christian, on the other hand, has not manage to come close.
Mr. Tito: I say FACT because I slowly hear the crowds booing him more and more every week, and to be honest with you, Booker T just doesn't feel like he's Intercontinental title caliber. He's a former WCW champion and one of RAW's best talents, and he should be pushed to the top. Christian changed his look and seems to be gaining more and more heat on himself the more he has the title. Given what happened at Bad Blood against Booker T, don't doubt if the WWE recycles the Honky Tonk Man IC title run, where he'll weasel his way out of any title loss.
Scott Keith: FACT, although I have to dispute the way they booked it. Trying to recreate the Honky Tonk Man is only going to earn them disappointment in the long run because no other human being can possibly be that obnoxious, outside of maybe Chris Jericho. On the other hand, what Booker needs is a good long run with the big belt, not a midcard belt revived from the dead and won in a battle royale. While walking out without the title might not have helped him any, winning the title would have been meaningless anyway except as another addition to the growing trivia question of people who have held major titles in both WCW and the WWE.
3) FACT or FICTION: The WWE will seriously push Ultimo Dragon as a Cruiserweight on Smackdown.
Mr. Tito: This is a definite FACT. Why? Proof is in where Ultimo will debut... In Madison Square Garden! That's the WWE's mothership so to speak, and sacred grounds for the company. To have Ultimo debut there, the site of Wrestlemania 20, only proves that the WWE is indeed serious about pushing him. When they get Ultimo in the ring, they'll be no doubt forced into pushing him as a worthy foe of Rey Mysterio.
Scott Keith: FICTION. They don't seriously push any cruiserweights, as the recent demotion of Jamie Noble to squash boy demonstrates. He'll get his 15 minutes of fame with the announcers putting him over for a couple of weeks, and then fade into the background just like Noble and Kidman and even Mysterio did. Dragon has three strikes against him right away -- he's a "WCW guy", he's Japanese, and he's small. I don't see them doing anything with him.
Da Ref: That might be FACT but it won't translate to much. After all, how many REAL Cruiserweights on Smackdown have been given a decent role? The company gives them their small amount of time when they debut. Then, they get thrown on Velocity for most of the time with an occasional SD appearance where they job to one of the bigger guys. Take a look at the other Japanese talent they have. Funaki gets a decent pop on the shows but is jobbing. Right now, Tajiri is a Tag Champion with Eddy Guerrero only because Chavo was injured. If that didn't happen, he probably wouldn't even be on the PPV.
4) FACT or FICTION: Linda McMahon was wrong for publicly denouncing Bill Goldberg on the 4th Quarter conference call (she called him "disappointing").
Scott Keith: FICTION. She's the boss, Goldberg's the talent (albeit expensive talent). It's a legitimate issue to be brought up for the shareholders when someone who is being paid into the millions out of company funds does not bring back their value in PPV buys, which is what they were specifically paid to do. Is it entirely his fault? Of course not. Is he burning the wrong bridges by picking fights backstage with ingrained WWE talent? Undoubtedly.
Da Ref: Absolute FACT and I can go long with this one. First of all, Linda showed that she can be unprofessional just by flat out saying that Goldberg's run has been "disappointing." How do you maintain a level of respect among employees by slamming them in the media? The main item of note was how poorly Backlash did in terms of buyrates and the fact that Goldberg headlined the show. Yet, what wasn't mentioned was that Backlash and most other PPV's that were done the month after Wrestlemania ended up doing low numbers. So, you can't make a judgment on Goldberg based on Backlash's low numbers. Plus, the UnCreative Team hasn't been using Goldberg properly. In 1998 when he was used properly, Goldberg was one of if not the main thing that kept WCW competitive with the WWF. His match against Hogan for the WCW World Title drew over 41,000 fans to the Georgia Dome and garnered a rating of about 4.9, beating RAW for that night. During that time, Goldberg was built up as a serious monster and the fans were eating it up. In WWE, he's been booked as pretty much just another wrestler with nothing special about him. Even through all of that, Goldberg has been involved in the highest rated RAW segments over the past couple of weeks. What REALLY gets me is that she called Goldberg a disappointment but what about her soon-to-be son-in-law Helmsley? RAW's ratings have dropped with him as the #1 guy on the show. The fans haven't been buying up PPV's with him as the headliner unless he has the right opponent. I think he's proven to be more "disappointing" for the past couple of years than Goldberg has alledgedly been for the past couple of months.
Mr. Tito: This is FACT. Yeah, that's a great way to get him even more worse with the crowds, call him a "disappointment" in public. The WWE is handling Bill Goldberg so wrong. Fine, you spent $1.5 million on this guy and he's struggling in the ring. Ok, send him down to Ohio Valley Wrestling's training complexes for a couple of months and season his wrestling ability. He has the high impact power moves and the in-ring charisma that many wrestlers wish they had, but his in-ring wrestling ability sucks and is exposed after 5 minutes. The McMahons should have kept the problem "inside the house" instead of telling the rest of the neighborhood.
5) FACT or FICTION: RAW's creative team is churning out better ideas than the Smackdown creative team.
Da Ref: I'm going with FICTION. I haven't really seen anything from the RAW creative team that would be considered a better idea.
Mr. Tito: Ever since the Smackdown writing team was changed, i.e. Paul Heyman getting demoted as head writer, the show has been free-falling with bad feuds and a lack of focus on the younger talent. FACT. Smackdown has become the new McMahon jack-off hour, as Vince and Stephanie have heavy television roles, especially in what is a very bad feud between Vince McMahon and Mr. America. Smackdown does have the better wrestling, but RAW has better storylines lately, in the form of Austin and Eric Bischoff as co-General Managers working well together and the recent hype for Bad Blood was spectacular! Smackdown better reconsider their decision about the demotion of Paul Heyman.
Scott Keith: FICTION. It's all Vince anyway, so comparing the two teams is pointless since everything has to go through Vince eventually. And there's significant crossover of the same ideas (feuding co-GMs, for example) so the illusion of a full split is really just that -- an illusion.
6) FACT or FICTION: If Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair was given more time, like say 30 minutes or so, it could have easily developed into a Match of the Year Candidate.
Mr. Tito: I may have picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue, but I say FACT. Compare 2 performances, here. One, you had Shawn Michaels in his recent bouts with Jericho and Triple H. Not bad, as Shawn knows how to work without taking the old high risk. Secondly, what about Flair vs. Triple H from RAW a few weeks ago? That's further proof that Flair can still go in this day and age. One thing you must notice is that the WWE lacks that many Match of the Year Candidates in 2003, anyway, and if this match had more time, it would become a good candidate, easily. The word is "candidate".
Scott Keith: FICTION. It was shaping up to be really, really good -- in the **** range -- but that's pretty much the upper limit for both guys at this point in their career. Whether it went 15, 20 or 30 it wasn't going to be a pure wrestling match than Angle-Benoit from Royal Rumble or even Angle-Lesnar from Wrestlemania, so either one would have had it beat. Of course, miracles can happen, but I think people expecting a ***** classic out of two semi-retired guys were just getting their hopes up a bit TOO high. They would have hit the ceiling at a certain point due to physical limitations, as the run-in finish and table breaking spot demonstrated.
Da Ref: I gotta go with FICTION. It could've been better but I doubt that they'd get to MOTY status.
7) FACT or FICTION: Given the role in Evolution, Randy Orton will become a breakout star that the WWE so sorely needs right now on RAW.
Scott Keith: I'm gonna say FICTION because I have no faith in this creative team to churn butter given a churn, some cream and a book entitled "How To Churn Butter For Dummies", but lord knows I'm hoping that they CAN pull it out in this case because they really need some new blood quite desperately. Orton also has the advantage of being one of HHH's hand-picked butt-kissers and that'll get him far up the card (until he's a threat to HHH of course), but he's injury-prone and Vince McMahon lost his marbles a long time ago, so it's 50/50 whether it'll work.
Da Ref: I'll say FICTION. There two things to think about. The first is whether or not Helmsley would allow Orton to get more attention than him in the group. If Orton became a bigger face in the group than him, you can bet anything that it would be the end of that. Plus, and this is the biggest thing, can Orton stay healthy enough to really get something going? As I recall, he was injured not long after the draft back in 2002. When he came back on RAW, he suffered another injury, which led to the RNN angle. So, he came back again as part of Evolution and reinjured himself in a house show tag team match against the Dudleys. If he gets injured again, could the company look at him as someone that the company could really get behind?
Mr. Tito: I say this is FACT. Orton is a star in the making. He was big in Ohio Valley Wrestling, and his problems in the WWE stand from injuries and the lack of ideas from the Smackdown creative team at one time. Now, he's a key member of the revised Evolution group, and his big speaking role on RAW only serves to prove that. Orton is a 2nd or 3rd generation wrestler, and with that in mind, he has a tradition behind him that the WWE Road Agents can always respect. Triple H must think something of him, too, because he's brought Orton into his group twice now, and once Orton is over as a heel, he'll turn face and who knows where you can go from there.
8) FACT or FICTION: With RAW/Smackdown and Wrestlemania 20 coming to Madison Square Garden, you can say that New York City fans are the best wrestling fans in America.
Da Ref: I'm going with FICTION. That doesn't really say anything except McMahon loves running MSG. If NY fans were the best, how come RAW isn't sold out like Jim Ross said it was? If you look at who the best fans, you have to put the fans in Chicago ahead of New York. They pop loud and pop often during shows. Just listen to them during WWF/WWE and WCW shows.
Mr. Tito: This is definite FICTION. Sure, New York City fans are loud, that's great. But they have millions upon millions of people in New York for a pool of loud and dedicated fans. The best fans are clearly in Memphis. Everytime the WWE runs a show there, the crowd always has some energy to display. Wrestling tradition runs deep there, from years upon years of promotions based there, even if the indy circuit hasn't been to nice to that city lately. Those fans eat, sleep, and live wrestling.
Scott Keith: FICTION. Given the right guys to cheer for and good booking, there's no better fanbase than in, whoo, by god, Mean Gene, whoo, North Carolina, whoo. New York sells out the shows a lot, but they tend to turn on people rather quickly if not catered to.
RETRO FACT or FICTION: WCW would have seen better ratings or success in early 2001 if their main event scene was better, given that the Steiner brothers dominated (had the World and US titles around their waists). Take into account that the Cruiserweight division had some good tag team battles and the Natural Born Thriller wrestlers had some decent attention and Team Canada with Storm and Mike Awesome. Basically, what is being asked is if WCW wasn't axed by AOL/Time Warner, they may have survived if the booking was better.
Mr. Tito: This is FACT. If you watched WCW in early 2001, it was basically featuring flashy matches between Cruiserweight wrestlers and midcard guys, like the Natural Born Thrillers. You were all excited for the midcard, especially from the newly adopted Cruiserweight Tag Team titles, but then changed the channel once Scott Steiner came out with the World Title on his waist and Rick Steiner came out with the United States Title on his waist. Booker T was basically wasted in early 2001 until the last few weeks of WCW, while Johnny Ace, the head booker of WCW at the time, ponied up to his Good Ol' Boy network of older veterans while never giving the company's hungrier younger or better wrestlers a chance. If WCW kept its television deal, and with the WWE starting to slip in 2001, there could have been a chance that WCW would have improved with a better main event scene. Clearly.
Scott Keith: FICTION. It was a dead promotion by the beginning of 2000 due to mismanagement and politics. They would have survived with decent ratings, but the buyrates were such a lost cause that nothing was going to save that aspect of business. People thinking that Bischoff was the savior of the promotion are dreaming.
Da Ref: If you're asking if WCW would've survived if Jamie Kellner hadn't cancelled wrestling from TNT and TBS, I'd go with FACT. If Nitro and Thunder had stayed on the air, the Fusient deal would've gone through and WCW would no longer have been under the AOL/Time Warner umbrella. That means that there would've been one boss in the company, which was one of the biggest problems that WCW had during its time. Plus, the plans that were talked about would definitely have provided wrestling fans with an alternative.
Again, a personal thank you to Scott Keith for joining us this week. Please Buy His Book and check out his work at 411mania.com.
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