Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Phat Daily Column. Wow, lots of opinion floating around about Rikishi's turn, as the WWF at least has everyone talking about it, and nothing about WCW, besides their pending sale. The ratings are delayed until sometime after this column comes out, so I'm sort of screwed for today. So instead, I'll just talk about what everyone is talking about, and that's Rikishi. Now can you dig that?
You had Mick Foley telling college students at lectures that Vince McMahon asked him to be the driver, Billy Gunn was a choice but that was obviously scratched when Stone Cold stunned him last week, and finally, it was also rumored to be Chris Jericho of all people, but I think he's getting a bad rap in the locker room, so that plan was changed. I'm sure the WWF was thinking about having either Triple H or the Rock being the driver, but it wouldn't make sense for The Game's storyline, and it was too obvious for the Rock to be it since it was his rental car and all.
I'm thinking that many of you are bitter that Shawn Michaels was NOT the driver. I know you hardcore fans, including myself, have wanted HBK to be the driver so that he could get involved again. Truth is, the WWF is still scared about disrupting anything backstage, plus with HBK's contract running out this summer, it wouldn't be a good decision by the WWF. The contract issue is obvious that the WWF is going to drag out this storyline, hence why HBK wasn't involved.
So now, they decided to make Rikishi the driver. Here, you had a very well known midcarder with a gimmick that was going no where. He danced many times, he did the stink face many times, and so forth. It was getting old! This man has wrestled in main event matches, and has at times, looked very good in that spot. So let's see here.....his gimmick is going no where, he can easily become a main eventer, and the WWF needed to turn somebody heel with the surplus of faces....hey, Rikishi is available!!!
In my opinion, I felt that Rikishi was a good choice. It was totally unexpected for me and the rest of the internet, since nobody called it, and it's something different and new for a change. There are lots of possibilities with this angle, which we'll get into in a little bit. My point is that it's BRAND NEW. The WWF has been drifting along with nothing interesting lately, and now this comes along. It's sort of like the Marriage angle with Triple H and Stephanie. It came at a time where the WWF storylines were getting really stale, and BOOM, this storyline hits and things are interesting again. Same with this.
But what really gets to me is HOW the WWF did this. This whole racial thing....ugh. Not good at all. Angles like when somebody trashed the Nation's locker room, and DX was blaming the Hart Foundation for it. A few odd things were said in that angle that left a sour taste in my mouth after watching it. Racism should have NO PART in wrestling, no matter how much they try to be a reality based show. It's too sensitive of a topic to include, especially for fired up wrestling fans.
However, that racial speech is said to have some flaws, which I'm going to cover right now. Let's get into this, shall we?
The Samoans have been held back from any titles by the WWF for years now! Now that's a very bold statement since you yourself, Rikishi Phatu, were a former WWF Tag Team champion with Samu. Yes, remember being a Headshrinker? Remember Captain Lou Albano leading you guys to the titles?
There was even a team called the Samoans in 1980 and 1983, who were three time WWF World Tag champs. The team was made up of Afa and Sika if you don't remember.
Don't forget Haku, who was WWF King for years. He was also one half of the Colossal Connection with the late great Andre the Giant, who were Tag Team champs as well.
Rikishi could argue that your "Sultan" gimmick, which I guess isn't supposed to be Samoan, was never given a title. Well, you did fight The Rock at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental Title, if you can remember correctly. The Rock is part Samoan. The WWF, during that time, was trying to push the Rock as a babyface superstar. I don't think anybody was held down there.
What about Yokozuna?? He is indeed Samoan, but an argument could be made here. He's supposed to be a Japanese sumo wrestler from Japan. So in the storylines, he's not Samoan. BUT, in reality, he is, and he's held the WWF World Title two times.
Finally, you have the Rock, who held the World Title 3 times before becoming World Champion after Austin was hit by the car. I guess he's arguing the space between the 3rd reign and the 4th, right? That's the only good reason he'd have, since the WWF didn't think he needed that title to remain over.
Then you have how Rikishi was found to be the driver. Mick Foley said that the car was adjusted for a really large man. That's odd, because the WWF never mentioned finding that car last year, let alone reporting that somebody large was driving it. What about Rikishi being in the WWF at that time? Well, he wasn't in the Survivor Series, but he was in the WWF testing out gimmicks which lead to him being Rikishi Phatu. I think I saw him on Jakked a few times, oddly enough or somewhere(maybe Heat?). Also, I didn't know Scotty Too Hotty and Rikishi were good friends then, as I thought they just turned friends after Rikishi officially started wrestling on RAW. Very odd there, but they could have been good "backstage" friends, and not going with the storyline.
So I guess you could say Rikishi was at Survivor Series since he was a WWF wrestler and that he was there in support of the Rock, his COUSIN in real life. He did NOT mention that he was helping out his cousin, which could have been very acceptable, but he was helping the Rock for racially motivated reasons. My opinion is that they could have easily gotten away with just having him as a "helpful" cousin, and NOT this guy who thinks his race is getting the shaft.
The WWF got the Double FINGER OF SHAME for going this dangerous racial route, which could have been avoided with my reasons above. But now, they must do something with it since they tried it. I don't know where it will lead because if you READ the Rocks book, The Rock Says..., you'll know that when he turned heel and joined the Nation, he wanted his turn to NOT be racially motivated. That was the only way he'd join the Nation. Now if this leads to the Rock turning heel again, do you think he'd join the racially motivated Rikishi?
Well, I'm thinking that the WWF has to make Rikishi have more reasons than just Race. Have them use the racial reasons as a cover up for something else twisted. Maybe he just wants the best for his cousin, but getting that best is about killing somebody! It will be very interesting how the WWF chooses to play this out.
Ultimately, this turn by Rikishi will help fuel a new feud between Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock for a sold out Astrodome Wrestlemania 2001. I'm thinking that since Rikishi is the Rock's "friend" or cousin in real life, it will lead to Austin blaming the Rock, and somebody will turn heel, thus setting up this very match. That's where I think it's eventually leading, with possibly this man getting involved too....Click Here to hear him speak.
I guess only time will tell with this whole angle. I just don't like the Racial stuff, which is a turn off for many other fans as well. I am happy that the WWF is trying something new though because they haven't in a long time now. I'm also hoping that Stone Cold doesn't go through Rikishi. It's time for Austin to recognize that he could help put some wrestlers over this time around, and not be in it for himself like he was last time. If you are going to have Austin defeat Rikishi at No Mercy, at least make Rikishi take Stone Cold to the limits. Don't let it be a squash, or the reason you turned Rikishi heel has already failed.
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@That's all for today. Good thing this Rikishi topic is red hot, or today would have been really rough to write. I'll be back tomorrow with WCW Day, and I guess Ratings Analysis, although I might spread those around to the certain "Days". Until then, check out Kicking Ass and Taking Names Later at the Phat Pharm!
Phat Pharm: BRAND NEW "Kicking Ass and Taking Names Later", which discusses Vince McMahon! CLICK HERE to check it out!!!
Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.