SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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

Friday, August 3, 2001

A special quick hits edition

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

A weekly
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The Rock's return was well executed. I'm surprised it earned such a huge rating, since although he was obviously the main attraction of the show, he wasn't as over-exposed as I thought he would be. Then again, we up here in Canada watch Raw on TSN, and from what I heard, TNN was really pushing Rock's return. Kudos to them, I guess, for finally supporting their flagship show. The question on the WWF's mind, now, has to be whether they can sustain these ratings or whether they'll have to hotshot every week to get them. If they can manage to keep the new viewers tuned into Raw over the summer and into the autumn, they may successfully weather the supposedly inevitable wrestling decline of late.

I don't actually have a whole column's worth of reaction to The Rock's return, electrifying though it was. This will be a quick hits edition, as I have a few things to say about other topics. While on Rock, though, I'm glad that we don't have to wait three weeks to see which faction he'll side with. Though I'm also happy he didn't hug Vince McMahon or do anything else blatantly inconsistent, I think that was about as good as his return could have been.

Also, the WWF made a wise decision having him face Booker T while Austin and Angle match up at Summerslam.

  • I disagreed with Jim Ross in his Ross Report from last week, where he wrote that it would make no sense for Paul Heyman to return as an announcer while with the Alliance faction. The way he replaced Michael Cole on Raw made enough sense. If ECW and WCW can hijack the wrestling ring every ten minutes, surely they can hold on to an announcing spot. I was surprised he didn't argue more with Ross, but I suppose they didn't want to take away from the in-ring product.

    I remember when Ross turned heel awhile back, to help push "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, and he had his own smaller announce table in front of the WWF commentators' table. That was funny.

  • I can't get over X-Pac being a dual titleholder. I guess I'm glad he's not wrestling Kane or some other grossly mismatched heavyweight, but that doesn't mean I'd rather see him beat the likes of Kidman either.

  • Rob Van Dam has obviously been impressive in his WWF debut and first few matches. He's obviously making the most out of this extended audition. I don't know how he would hold up in a 30-minute main event, though. WWF main events, while long, are also more about psychology and brawling than anything else. I'm not sure if he's a good fit for that. I also feel slightly guilty watching him. He's worse than Jeff Hardy sometimes.

    I never watched too much ECW, which is perhaps why Van Dam seems so fresh to me. Equally, I'm really starting to enjoy the work of Tajiri. He combines psychology with innovative offense very well, and his moves aren't as death-defying as Van Dam's, but often just as impressive. Considering the verbal skills he has demonstrated so far, his personality is very over with the WWF audience and he's a great talent.

  • At first it seemed like a good idea, but now the APA really seem like a waste as tag team champions. For a good year and a half or two years, the WWF tag team titles were bar none my favourite titles in wrestling. The matches tag teams would wrestle over them were phenomenal, always competitive, and carried many a pay-per-view. Now, I have to remind myself who's holding them again. Oh yeah, APA.

  • Every time WWF officials happily announce that Ken Shamrock is considering a return to the WWF, I have to wonder whether I was watching the same Shamrock they were. Most SLAM! readers have agreed with me in the past when I suggested that Shamrock possessed just about the worst acting skills in wrestling, and made any match he was in seem utterly fake. Quite an accomplishment for a shoot wrestler. Somehow, the WWF was very impressed with his tenure. I still don't see why they'd want him back, though. After all, they've already given away his persona, only to someone who made it work: Kurt Angle. Angle is a believable competitor with experience in competitive wrestling, a very muscular but not terribly tall body, and a fervor for submission maneuvers and suplexes. Who needs Shamrock?

    Here's the mailbag.

    Shannon Miller, from, writes:
    "I agree with you almost 100 % about Kurt Angle's 'lost angle'. I've actually started to enjoy this whole invasion thing, which I was completely against. I find myself actually WANTING Angle to win. We watched him go from being Austin and Vince's puppet to the exact opposite. We may have gone from milk and cookies to beer swilling with the APA in a very short time. BUT it was pretty enjoyable to watch. A few cuss words later and we actually believe that Austin's @$$ is his."

    Most of the folks who mailed in seemed to be of like mind, Shannon. Just about everyone wants Angle to take on Austin at Summerslam, and a good chunk of people seem to want Angle to win enough to buy the pay-per-view. I guess not having Rock interrupt his feud with Austin made good business sense to the writers after all. I feared they would try to hotshot their way to higher ratings by doing the opposite.

    Alex, from, writes:
    "Well, how are you going to explain this botch-up? After all that crying about Angle's supposed derailment, he and Austin are having a match at SS. And Rock and Booker ARE fighting, just like you were saying should happen. Seems someone has no faith in good ol' Vince."

    So you're pointing out that in the end, my suggestion ended up being in line with the WWF's take on things, and so that makes my "crying" a "botch-up". Somehow.

    It wasn't exactly a prediction out of thin air that the WWF might go in another direction, but it's a good thing they didn't.

    Regardless, it's not about faith in Vince McMahon. He's as fallible as anyone in some respects, and he doesn't it right every time. But I'm glad to see the WWF on top of this one.

    That's all for this week. Have a safe and happy weekend. See you next week!

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