The Little Things 01.22.03: Stacy’s Injury, Nowinski, D’Lo, Jericho, More

It appears Eric S. may not be around next week for the usual mixing of politics and wrestling, so for those whom depend on him for that type of thing (and I usually count myself in that group) let me try to provide your fix.

With all of the anti-war protests happening over the past few weeks, and a recent poll in Canada stating that 1/3rd of that country’s population views the United States as the biggest threat to world peace, something hit me: the United States is now the Bret Hart of the global community. I offer the following similarities:

1) Previously, both the US and Bret have been viewed predominantly as classic babyface entities, standing for what is good within their respective fields (here, democracy and wrestling)

2) At some point in time, both entities suffered a respective slap-in-the-face style calamity to a rival entity. For Hart, one could say that this was either the marathon match loss to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12 or the Royal Rumble loss to Austin in 1997 where Austin eliminated Bret despite having been eliminated already. For the US, this is the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

(Before I go any further, I’m just having fun with history and wrestling here. I’m not trying to compare the ’97 Royal Rumble to September 11th in terms of significance, ok? Put down the mouse and relax.)

3) With strong initial sympathy from the wrestling and global communities in place, both entities undergo a period marked by feelings of intense nationalism. Bret reforms the Hart Foundation and Americans put flags on their cars.

4) At the same time as #3 unfolds, backlash develops in the respective communities of each entitiy. Wrestling fans rally behind the ability and attitude of Steve Austin, a traditional heel, viewing Bret as a holier-than-thou whiner who forces his values down fans’ throats. The international community, as evidenced above, has rallied against George W. Bush’s foreign policy team, even in support of Saddam Hussein, a traditional autocrat. Some opponents see W. and the Americans as shoving our policies down the throats of the international community (especially via the World Bank).

But I digress. Anyone care to carry this along further (or point out indiscrepancies, if you’re that type)? Hopefully this maybe-war won’t cause the US to end up the same way Bret did

Onto the wrestling we go!

Note to Self: Try Harder Next Time

Regrettably, I must start with some errors and omissions.

The first deals with #4 from last week’s Little Five. I heaped praise on the entertainment value of Vince’s facial expressions and grunts and threw in the slap on the shoulder delivered to Randy Orton on the way to the arena as a bonus. What I neglected to mention is that Randy’s selling of the slap made the moment that much more hilarious. Certainly, I did not mean to shortchange Randy for this bit. In fact, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how I loved his wincing as he shook the hand of a youngster at the New York Stock Exchnage during a vignette that aired about a month ago.

Thanks to readers Pat Spekhardt, Jason Buckley, Paul Murray, and Bill Laird for pointing this out.

As an aside, Pat had his microscope especially focused this week as he pointed out that during HHH’s promo he listed Hulk Hogan as a wrestler who thought they could hang with the Game, but failed. To his recollection and mine, HHH has never defeated Hulk Hogan. Are we wrong or is HHH rewriting history?

The second piece of backtracking deals with the commentary on foreshadowing from last week. A couple of readers pointed out that “the plan” I thought Ric mentioned was actually “the project” in reference to his managing of Batista. Being a Flair mark, I guess I jumped the gun on a chance to extol the storytelling prowess of the Nature Boy. Also, being an ex-English major from UVa, I probably jumped the gun on an opportunity to intermingle literary elements with a professional wrestling column. I promise more self-restraint in the future.

Of course, if one takes “the project” to mean the reformation of the Four Horseman, I might have to retract my retraction now. Thanks to Michael Fortuna and the best email handle I have ever come across, Ooga Chucka, for their observations though.

X Anniversary Pick: It’s Time

Since I did not bother to cover the RAW X show on Tuesday, I’ll let Eric Szulczewski offer a thought on a detail he liked:

I did like one moment during Raw Tenth, and that was when Trip and the Bitch of the Baskervilles came on stage to “My Time”. After being used for Steph alone for so long, a lot of people don’t remember that this was Trip’s entrance music before the Motorhead crapola (unfortunately, the audio on “My Time” was so botched that you could barely hear it, but that could have been a tribute to Nitro).

Yeah, it’s a nice touch, but there’s that one bit of irony that always gets to me whenever Steph comes out to it. They don’t ever play enough of it to reach the “the marks, the suits, McMahon” line. True, it referenced Vince at first, but these days, it applies to Steph more than it ever applied to Vince. I have no idea if she’s either clueless about it or if she’s got some kind of self-loathing problem that we’re not aware of. If it’s the latter, that would explain a lot of what’s going on with Raw and Smackdown, wouldn’t it?

Readers’ Picks: Face the Facts

When I noted Lance Storm’s cartoonish facial expressions a couple of weeks ago, it apparently primed a couple of readers to pick up on some over-the-top antics:

Greg Cordier caught Lance Storm exclaiming “Those aren’t mine! I have no idea how they got there!” after the refs found brass knucks in his elbow pads.

And Ooga Chucka (I won’t ever get tired of that name) found D’Lo Brown’s crossing of the eyes after a boot from Test to be hilarious. D’Lo would probably be a hall of famer in the funny facial expressions category.

Great catches, guys. To top this section off, I’ll post a reply I received from an AOL user by the handle of Zzzzaxxxx”. Sometimes the obvious is just too funny to ignore:

A little detail I picked up on is that Eric is told he has 30 days to “turn RAW upside down” and yet he wastes the 2nd hour pulling his pud in the back? Why didn’t he start right away? Whoever writes for RAW needs to go.

I spent at least 5 minutes laughing over this and when I saw Eric just sitting at the dinner table at the RAW X show, I laughed again. You guys are making this column fun to write. Keep up the good work!

A major pay-per-view is in the books and so is the post-pay-per-view RAW. Let’s see what’s shaking for RAW 1.13.2003:

1. Dressed to Kill

Something as simple as garb can help or hurt a wrestler. Back in my first column, I decreed that to make 3 Minute Warning a more viable tag team, they had to at least get together on a common costume and then progress on to more advanced subjects (wrestling, for one). Didn’t the matching black and green jerseys make them at least look like a more solidified team? Now all they need to do is fix Rico’s look and work on the timing of his bumps and they will be that much further along.

While I’m on the topic, the gear that Rob Van Dam wears helped make me a mark for his character. Simply put, skulls, dragons and fire are cool. Not to mention that other symbol he wore while in ECW Finally, jobbing Tommy Dreamer may be bad but trotting him out nonsensically in an HBK shirt makes it even worse.

2. Sleeping Beauty

Scott Keith hinted at this in the teaser for his RAW rant, but I will expound upon it because details matter here. I have no problems with a fake injury angle but please don’t forget the fake injury! Are we really to believe that Stacy needed EMTs and a stretcher when her make-up hasn’t even been smudged? From a chairshot! It’s not like I expect a blade job, but could she at least chew on one of those capsules or something? I don’t like having my belief crash land, especially during a very, very long segment.

3. Math Major

The show kicked off with a short backstage vignette that warms the heart of this column. Chris Nowinski, replete with suit and slicked-back hair, smugly declares before the boss that if his math is correct (and it usually is), he only has 21 days left to answer Vince’s challenge. A simple but effective skit that develops a character and gives him the funniest line of the night. Why they can’t find a feud for this guy (especially with Maven, his natural rival) is beyond me.

4. Dream On

Jericho’s “I have a dream” speech was the more subtle attempt of the night to play on the fact that it was MLK day in the States. It was also the more successful attempt in over-the-top humor of the night that conveyed a wrestler’s frustration over his misfortunes. Jericho’s character is finally getting interesting and with a matchup against HBK pending in Montreal of all places, it seems like history and these two wrestlers are destined to collide and create something interesting.

This is not to say that D’Lo’s character has no potential. Dubious timing aside, he has a manager to do some stick work for him, a character with legitimate reasons for being pissed fostered over time in the storylines and a new catchphrase to create heat. Which it did, once the crowd got over the shock value of the promo. However, the act could quickly become very crass and stale if done improperly.

5. HHHeel Antics III

I’m sorry that the match at the Rumble did not pan out properly for most. But for once, don’t blame the booking. The pins were well set up over time for a knockdown and the crowd seemed revved up for the match. Then the match rolled a gutterball and the crowd turned on the entire feud.

Despite the lack of execution in the end, the feud still had its merits. Salvaging what I can, I will take HHH’s heel antics as a plus and hope that going forward he can keep this up. By the way, he delivered again last night by using a doctor’s note to get out of wrestling. A grade school premise like that is certainly good for a laugh. Propping Steiner’s bloody head next to the belt was a good touch, too.

Keep the comments coming and I’ll see you next week.