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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, October 6, 2000

Lining up the suspects

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

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Apparently, a segment was taped for the next episode of Heat in which Mick Foley announces that he's finally discovered the culprit in the who-hit-Stone Cold mystery thriller. He'll apparently reveal said person's identity at Monday Night Raw. I'm half-thinking this will be another bogus run-around, but with Austin allegedly facing his attacker in a match at No Mercy, this seems as good a time as any to start throwing guesses around. Here's my analysis of who hit Steve Austin.

 First, the evidence. Just about everyone has denied their involvement, and Austin has accepted the words of everyone in the main event and no one else. That still doesn't preclude their involvement, though. Billy Gunn couldn't have been the driver, because he got a lift to the arena - something Brooklyn Brawler has verified. We also know it was The Rock's rental car that was used. And if we're to believe Mr. Ass, the culprit had blond hair. Let's assume he's telling the truth, because if he isn't then there's really no point his entire involvement in this ongoing investigation. Here, ranked in no particular order, are the possible guilty parties, in no particular order:

 Chris Jericho - for the record, any amount of blond will do. Where he was in November 1999: he'd entered the federation only months prior, and was mired in the midcard, dealing with backstage whining and moaning by Degeneration-X that his style wasn't suited to the WWF. Y2J was feuding with Chyna over the intercontinental title, at the time, and wasn't having a tremendous amount of success. What he had to gain by assaulting Austin: effectively nothing, except the obvious fact that without Austin, everyone in the federation moves up a rank or two, but that's no more a motivation for him than anyone. I doubt it was Jericho. Too vicious an act for him, even as a heel.

 Gangrel. Where he was:jobbing his way into obscurity. What he had to gain: absolutely nothing. Cross him off the list.

 Luna - see Gangrel.

 Terri Runnels. Where she was: wrestling a series of T&A women's "matches" with the other plastified women in the WWF at the time. What she had to gain: I don't know, maybe pissing off Debra or something. Not her.

 Hardcore Holly - at least I think his hair was dyed blond at this point. Where he was: on his way up the ladder, feuding entertainingly with Crash Holly, putting on great matches. What he had to gain: tespect. Taking out Austin would make the boys in the back and the fans in the seats finally treat this guy like a champion, as he surely deserved. Holly is our best suspect yet. However, his rehabilitation from Kurt Angle's botched moonsault may be coming along nicely, but he isn't exactly back in the thick of things yet, which works against him.

 Crash Holly - I'm not convinced this guy can drive.

 Edge, Christian, or Jeff Hardy (whose hair may have been dyed blond at the time) - none of these guys would do with a car what they could do with their own bodies, no matter how reckless. Besides, Austin would kill any or all of them in ten seconds flat. Outside chance for Edge, who may be in for a push soon if he splits up with Christian.

 Triple H - I wouldn't call his hair blond, per se, but we're stretching things as it is. Where he was: fighting for the WWF title. What he had to gain: an easier title match sans Austin. He already denied it, and Austin clearly believed him, but Triple H is one of the few heels in the WWF so despicable that I might believe this to be consistent with his method of operation. Problem is, he's barely a heel anymore. Still, that could change overnight. He seems to be locked up with Chris Benoit for the time being, at least until No Mercy, when Austin will supposedly face his attacker, and two high-profile matches is a lot even for this man. Still, he'd be one of the few people who wouldn't be a let down if he turned out to be the man.

 Billy Gunn - he seems to be everyone's favourite, but I just don't see it. Where he was: with partner Road Dogg, fighting Al Snow and Mick Foley for the titles. He was also in a car with Brooklyn Brawler. Yeah, right. What he had to gain: starting a program with Austin would have boosted his career, and he and Austin sort of had a feud going on back in the days leading up to Austin's match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 1998, but that's stretching things. Sure, Austin wanted to work a program with him a year ago, but then his push ultimately failed, he got badly injured, and I think the WWF may be hesitant to waste a push and storyline of this magnitude on Gunn only weeks after his return.

 Believe it or not, that covers every WWF superstar with blond hair who competed at Survivor Series that day. Of course, we could suspend disbelief and assume that it might be someone who only debuted later. None of the Radicalz have the right hair, nor does Tazz. Raven arrived so recently that even the most casual fans wouldn't buy him as the culprit.

 It doesn't really look like it could be anyone, which means either we'll be totally surprised or it'll turn out to be something - and someone - so lame, we'll be wishing for Vince McMahon and the Greater Power mystery again.

 My personal guess - The Rock, wearing that ladies' wig he wore during his Ladies' Man sketch when he hosted Saturday Night Live. Maybe he wears that wig all the time. Hey, my guess is as good as any.

 As usually, I'd like to hear all the theories - but soon, before it's revealed on Monday.

 Here's the mailbag.

Chris Grozdanis, from, writes:

 "In response to a reader's e-mail, Mick Foley's book states that Sting was making about $750 000 per year as WCW's "franchise" way back in the early nineties. I don't think top WWF guys don't make that kind of guaranteed salary today. That makes it pretty clear why Sting stayed in WCW."

 Good point. Sting's been well-treated in WCW, and it's well-known that one can sometimes earn more money for less dates under WCW contract. However, while the guarantees in the WWF are on the low end, their wrestlers stay there for a reason - when business is good, there's potential for very high upturns. Guaranteed money is not the be all and end all of payment - just as Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Saturn, Dean Malenko, The Big Show, or Eddie Guerrero.

 Eric Enochs, from eenochs@GALYANS.COM, writes:

 "Eric, where is Bobby the Brain Heenan? When he was on WCW he was the funniest announcer out there. Maybe if they bring him back they will have a more interestingly announced program."

 I don't think many would disagree that Heenan's performance had been in decline recently. I still love him, and think he's the best WCW has, but Vince Russo, known to be anything but a supporter of Heenan's, apparently disagrees. I hope they bring him back, but I think that's less and less possible the more time goes by.

 That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, thanks for writing. Keep the letters coming. Have a great week.

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