Welcome, once again, to another fun filled edition of WRESTLING's FACT or FICTION, a great idea we use from ESPN's Sportscenter, but only for professional wrestling. I, Mr. Tito, have been very happy with the success of the column and I am happy to provide it for the readers each and every week. I'm also happy to be using many of the Message Board talent as well, and I've found 2 great ones in Da Ref and Phantom Lord. Da Ref has been on most of the columns you see here, and now I'm going to try out having Phantom Lord as the consistent 3rd member, shying away from the revolving door we had there for the past few weeks. Phantom Lord, mind you, was on Fact or Fiction about 3 or 4 weeks ago.
Heading into this column and last week's column, I was happy with the topics. I've been trying extra hard to throw curveballs into the mix, and I've been looking around for topics, such as using #7 and #8 from LoPforums.com's Terry, and #8 was his word for word. You can offer suggestions on topics by going to the Feedback section of LoPforums.com or by e-mailing the authors. I mostly try to incorporate latest news headlines for the first 8 topics, and maybe one or two that is a general topic about wrestling, while anything goes for the Retro one.
As always, e-mail in encouraged! E-mail us with suggestions, improvements, and other forms of feedback. Our email addresses are down below.
1) FACT or FICTION: Triple H is the WORST drawing champion in WWE/WWF history since Vince McMahon Jr. took over the company with HHH's current RAW World Title run.
Da Ref: As much as it'll shock people on this, I'll say FICTION. While he hasn't been drawing in that much business, one person to look at who drew even less as World Champion was the Ultimate Warrior. What was worse was the fact that Hogan cleanly put the guy over at Wrestlemania VI and no one cared one bit about him. Right now, Triple H isn't really drawing but the crowds are still better than when the Warrior was the #1 guy. However, there are probably a couple more guys who drew even lower than the two of them.
Mr. Tito: I say FACT only because of the gigantic fanbase he's lost while champion. In 2000, many argued he helped the company as the #1 heel. Then again, he had Foley, Rock, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, and eventually Steve Austin making him look great. He was just put in the driver's seat of a really nice vehicle. What about in 2002, when he made his "big" comeback. It did nothing to ratings, and Triple H in champion in 2002 did nothing for the company. In fact, after Wrestlemania 18, Triple's "big title win" against Chris Jericho, the RAW ratings haven't been in consistently in the upper 4.0's, and the WWE is a full point behind that now in the upper 3.0's. That is more than a million wrestling fans lost, nationwide, since Triple H has been on top and dominating RAW like he has. How can you be given such a great show to continue it's greatness, yet you take it down because you're a bad drawing champion. You could argue that Kevin Nash was a bad drawing champion, but nothing in the WWE worked in 1995, and Nash as champion only dug the hole deeper for WCW to rise, whereas Triple H has been destroying a dynasty.
Phantom Lord: I'm gonna say FACT on this one. Me bashing Triple H? Yes I know it's a shocker. But seriously all you have to do is look at the buyrates since he became champion and they've gone down and down and down. Now it's not all his fault, but he is the champion and if he isn't bringing in the money then he should go. It's a simple business equation they can't seem to figure out.
2) FACT or FICTION: Vince McMahon was correct in saying "if you can't take it, get out" in reference to overworking and putting too much stress on wrestlers, forcing some into drug use, on his interview with HBO's Real Sports.
Mr. Tito: He was certainly correct, FACT. Look, having a life where you're on pain medication consistently, on the road for most of the year, and have to keep your body in presentable shape, no matter what, it's a hard life. Then again, Vince hires people who can take that life. If he knows ahead of time that you may not be able to handle it on the road, you won't get hired. Take, for example, Tough Enough One. Taylor couldn't handle the road life, as she slept too much while the wrestlers drove to a destination (an no-no in the WWE) and she partied hard. It led to her loss against Nidia, despite Taylor probably showing more talent in the ring. There are plenty of jobs out there with BETTER long term financial futures than pro wrestling, given that the average WWE career is probably 3-4 years, tops. You see too many former WWE wrestlers just getting by in the independents. Only a handful of wrestlers can enter the WWE and leave it with a nice retirement. A wrestler in the WWE is a bad career in general (aside from living out your dream of performing in front of thousands), and putting your body through hell for several years is not only bad for your health, but unproductive in the long run when a regular job would be better for your health and retirement. And the wrestlers don't have to give into Vince's demands of looking larger in the ring. They can say "no" and walk away, just as they can say "no" to muscle enhancers, as well.
Phantom Lord: Total FICTION. Anyone who uses the "They can't take the heat" excuse is just trying to cover their own ass in case something happens. McMahon allow's this stuff to go on and he is just doing some damage control for when the next Louie Spicolli or Brian Pillman happens. It's sad to say that, but that's the truth.
Da Ref: That's a tough one because the wording leads it to many interpretations. I'll say a mixture of FACT and FICTION. I say "fact" when it comes to the idea that a person who is having a hard time being in the business should get out if they can't take it. Pro wrestling isn't exactly the dream job that a lot of people in the indies want to envision it to be. Sure, there's the roar of the crowd, the fame, and a decent paycheck. However, there's also intense scrutiny, being away from your family for long stretches of time, and even though you're under contract, you are still considered to be an independent contractor, which means the company doesn't provide you with any form of medical coverage. If you really want to be in the business, that's just a small bit of what is ahead for you. On the other hand, the comment shouldn't have been made to begin with. Even though guys that have/had problems with addictions have either been released(Jeff Hardy) or helped(Eddy Guerrero & William Regal), there are still guys that deal with their demons and they need someone that will help them, not go on TV and tell them to basically stop or leave. After all, a lot of these guys love the business and they really don't want to just quit. People have said in the past that shows like Real Sports and others have tried to go all-out to show Vince McMahon in a bad light. Well, in this case, they didn't have to work all that hard to do that.
3) FACT or FICTION: Hulk Hogan will return to the WWE.
Phantom Lord: I want to say Fact...but I'm leaning with FICTION on this one. Hogan is a crafty business man, but I think Vince would rather cut his losses on this one then give in. McMahon might get Hogan for WM 20, but right now I doubt it. Vince would rather let all his stars walk before he ever admit's he's wrong and gives into them.
Da Ref: I'm going to say FACT just because we've heard it before. How many times did Hogan say he was walking away from WWF/WWE? As I recall, he said that last year and yet he came back. I don't know if it'll be an immediate return but you gotta believe there's going to be another stint with the company.
Mr. Tito: This is total FACT. Hulk Hogan can't resist Wrestlemania 20 being at Madison Square Garden. Can't resist it! Now, as for being a regular WWE wrestler again, I can't guarantee that because his nostalgia trip was over once he won the WWE Undisputed Title at Backlash 2002 and his ego to become the top guy again is getting the best of him, again. But Hogan can't resist WM XX, and he'll break out his best pair of kneepads to get on that show. (Same with Roddy Piper)
4) FACT or FICTION: Bill Goldberg can be effective if he's moved to Smackdown.
Da Ref: That's a tough one. I'm gonna go with FICTION on this one. I do see the possibility in hyping up a feud between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, as well as how perfect of an opponent Goldberg could be for Lesnar. By the same token, having Goldberg and Lesnar on different shows is a smart move. People have argued about whether or not Lesnar is a Goldberg clone. While I wouldn't say that Lesnar is a clone of Goldberg, both guys are quite similar in their personas. They both debuted and were pure monsters with tremendous power. Both have finishing moves that the crowds never really saw and draw loud pops just from the set ups. Plus, both guys got over huge because of what I just mentioned. So, let's say you put Goldberg on Smackdown and program him in a feud against Lesnar. When it's all said and done, one of them has to go under. When that happens, you went from having two unbridled monsters to just having one.
Mr. Tito: As much as I think Goldberg would better on a show without Triple H, I realize that Stephanie and Vince McMahon are in charge of all creative, so I say FICTION. Smackdown is a show for younger wrestlers to blossom, such as Lesnar, Cena, Matt Hardy, etc., and it's recent struggles have been from the older wrestlers or personalities taking over (Undertaker, APA, Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, and more). Goldberg is an older wrestler, and face it, he's an older face as well. He stands for old WCW, and WCW is a bad word for fans who just started watching the WWE in 1998. There's enough crap holding down the younger talent for Goldberg to enter that show and go through all of them already. But I will say he'd look and appear better on Smackdown, only because RAW has a stale look and stale wrestlers to wrestle with for the moment.
Phantom Lord: I'll say FACT on this one. They need to realize Goldberg is a man who only does 6 holds and he needs the world to revolve around him. With that said he need's better opponents and since his feud with Jericho is seemingly dead, I think Goldberg vs. Angle or Goldberg vs. Lesnar would be a much bigger money match then Goldberg/Triple H ever will be. Hell...Goldberg/Undertaker is one I'd personally love to see happen.
5) FACT or FICTION: The WWE wrongfully let go Roddy Piper, just 2 days after his HBO Real Sports interview aired.
Mr. Tito: I say FACT just because it seems very obvious that he was scapegoated for the HBO special. Proof of this comes from his feud with Guerrero/Tajiri, which was a Tag Team Title shot and Piper was received well in Madison Square Garden. I really didn't hear of anything bad that Piper did backstage or any arguments with management. It's bad when the WWE tapes his match and lets go of him immediately after Smackdown airs on television. He just said that some promoters expose and exploit you, and Vince probably thought it was exclusively at him. That's wrong, Piper has wrestled for YEARS before entering the WWE. He was made as an example for any pro wrestler out there who wants to voice their opinion on HBO or anywhere else the WWE has no control on.
Phantom Lord: That's a FACT, Jack. Sean O'Haire needed Piper to get over with the masses. He's screwed now. What does the firing of Roddy Piper do? Send a message that when asked in an interview you should lie about how fucked up things really are? Piper was still over with the crowds and for Vince to fire someone who can get a real reaction instead of a taped one cough::Billy Gunn::cough is just a bonehead move. Are we really sure the WWF didn't change it's name to WCW when the panda got them by the balls last year?
Da Ref: I'm saying FICTION depending on the reason why. When Piper was brought back, I wondered why exactly. Even with the pop that he got at Wrestlemania, I couldn't see Piper really being someone that was worth the price he might've been asking. When they had him working with Sean O'Haire, I thought it was a good idea because it was Piper giving someone the rub, just like he had talked about with the tape he apparently sent to Eric Bischoff. Yet, O'Haire never got over and nothing was ever really done with Piper. So, you basically had a guy collecting a large paycheck with so little return. To me, that's just pissing away money. If the real reason as to why Piper was fired was that, I'll even call it a smart move.
6) Break from FACT or FICTION: What match, in your mind, was the WWE 'Match of the Year' so far in 2003 and why?
Phantom Lord: In my mind...Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle from Wrestlemania 19. Had we on the net not known Angle needed surgery it would of been even better. I thought it was a classic contest and it's a shame Hogan/McMahon got top billing at Wrestlemania. It had great chain wrestling, high impact moves, and plenty of drama. All you can ask for in a Match of the Year.
Da Ref: I'll go with the simple answer of Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit at Royal Rumble. Those two could always put on a good match but that one was kicked up a few notches.
Mr. Tito: I'll agree with Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit at Royal Rumble for being the WWE Match of the Year for the first half of 2003 so far, but I will say that the Guerreros vs. Team Angle matches, most of them, were up there. Those were some great pure tag team wrestling matches. I also agree that Lesnar vs. Angle could have been great if Angle wasn't injured, and I await Summerslam for that rematch.
7) TNN's new push towards a "network for men" will boost the audience for Monday Night RAW.
Da Ref: It's FICTION and I say that for three reasons. The first is because the whole "Network For Men" deal was for Spike TV. As we all know, that's not going to happen anytime soon because of the lawsuit with Spike Lee. People that actually knew that TNN was going through yet another name change associated Spike TV with "The Network For Men" and when Spike TV was put on the backburner, it made things a little confusing. Another reason is because even with the new programming, it doesn't change the product. The numbers dwindled when everyone knew that RAW was on TNN. Just because the whole channel is now geared toward a single gender, it'll take more to get those numbers back up. Finally, I look at the ads centered around the whole "Network For Men" concept and I don't see any significant advertising for RAW. They show a lot of ads surrounding that concept featuring shows like Stripperella, Gary The Rat, and Ren & Stimpy. Yet, the only time I saw anything dealing with RAW or WWE in general was Austin appearing for a brief moment in an ad.
Mr. Tito: This is such a FICTION answer. Wrestling fans will go to any network as long as the WRESTLING is good. But for real, TNN won't attract fans because their reasoning towards becoming a "Network for Men" is completely failing already. Spike TV or the New TNN? Make up your mind! But the programming is terrible on TNN. Ren and Stimpy's return isn't a bad idea, due to past success (although the new shows are disgusting!), but Gary the Rat and Stripperella are terrible cartoons. CSI repeats are on too late. If TNN wants to bring in more viewers to their network, they need to copy the old home of the WWE, USA Networks, who are seeing major success off creating news television series, such as the "Dead Zone" and "Monk". If you're going to attract more men to your network, then offer up innovative programming. Then again, I don't really see too many Monday Night RAW, Velocity, Confidential, or Heat ads running on TNN's other shows.....
Phantom Lord: It depends. If the WWE goes heavy on the T&A again then yes. If they say on their current path then no. For the moment I'm gonna say FICTION. In order for it draw in viewers they need to advertise on other Viacom networks...mainly MTV. That's the male demo they want. But even by doing that it's no guarantee. They need something compelling to lure in the average male. Hot chicks and crude humor only works for so long.
8) Many Internet wrestling fans worry too much about things out of the ring and not enough about it in the ring.
Mr. Tito: I say FICTION, calling the wrestling industry bluff. Look, the wrestling product that you see on television will always rule what you read on the internet. If a wrestler is clearly dogging it on television and stinking up the company, ala Triple H, then fans will see that no matter how much you read about him banging the boss's daughter or having whatever creative control he might have as world champion. That's what it truly comes down to, and when you see Triple H killing off Booker T, Kane, Rob Van Dam, and Chris Jericho like they are nothing on a week to week basis, you don't need to read about any backstage happenings to realize that the product sucks in the ring and on television. I think with anything, fans are just curious about what happens backstage or behind the scenes, which is why DVD extras are popular when in consideration regarding the purchase of a DVD. People want the inside look on something they enjoy watching, and that's it. It won't dictate whether that said fan HATES seeing Triple H on television as champion because of what he does in the ring and NOT backstage.
Phantom Lord: This is FACT. What can I say. We Smart Marks are more intrested in bitching about Triple H keeping his power because he's banging Stephanie McMahon then some of the good talent that still manages to shine despite what they are handed to work with in the ring. I personally don't care about everything that happens outside the ring, but it gives me so much material to go off about.
Da Ref: I'll go with FICTION only on the idea of it being "many fans." There are a number that do. However, I think that the idea of it being a large number has been perpetuated by the anti-Internet wrestling fans. Mind you, the irony that these people gripe about the Internet ON the Internet is not lost on me. People like what they like and they hate what they hate. When you have a worker that gets a little too much airtime because of who they know and isn't really doing anything to deserve it, it gets frustrating. In a way, being upset by that shows a lot more love for what goes on in the ring because you want to see something better.
RETRO FACT OR FICTION: The WWF would have died if Vince McMahon was convicted of steroid distribution in 1994.
Phantom Lord: FACT. I think Ted Turner would of moved in for the kill and would of bought the company just to merge the territory with WCW. That wouldn't of been such a bad thing, but I don't think the WWF could of made it more then a year tops if Vince landed in jail. Then again who know's. Jerry Jarrett was booking for Vince back then and he was smart enough to push Bret and Shawn. But on the whole I think they would of died.
Da Ref: I'll say FACT. The WWF was always Vince's baby and he was the only one that could lead it. Who else was there that could take Vince's place? Linda may be a semi-genius(She loses points for saying that the XFL was a failure.) when it comes to the business side but would you want her booking shows? It's obvious that Stephanie doesn't know what she's doing now. I can only imagine what would be going on if she was almost ten years younger and in charge. As for Shane, he isn't that much older than Stephanie. Could you logically give him the company and tell him to make a couple of million? If Vince was convicted, the best move would've probably been to sell the company.
Mr. Tito: The WWE would have been totally killed off from the negative press received from Vince McMahon's conviction, so FACT. Why would you want the stigma of a federation that ran on steroids for the past 15 or so years? The press would never give you the benefit of the doubt, as if they would anyway, and no sports athlete would want to go there for the added press (Lawrence Taylor, for example) for a promotion involved with steroids. That simple. But the company would have been in the hands of Jerry Jarrett, who owns NWA-TNA right now with Pat Patterson doing the head booking. Patterson helped run the WWE while Vince was on trial, and we were treated to some of the worst storylines ever invented, such as the Undertaker getting "killed" by Yokozuna and rising from the dead. Their stupid ideas, alone, would have made them an easy target for WCW to eventually destroy. But when Vince's back is against the wall, as it was in early 1997, he fights back, and nobody in the WWE outside of him would have had that same attitude or way of thinking to start more edgier storylines to bring back fans or create new ones.
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