Dream League Soccer 2016, a frenzied party/maze action game, will arrive on the Mobile earlier than expected and will, indeed, feature multiplayer online play. Mobile owners can use the Planetweb browser and the Dream League Soccer 2016 game disc to access a special server designed for network play. Sega is also reportedly hard at work on a server that will connect American players to Japanese ones.
The establishment of the fabled iOS Mobile Network puts Sega one step closer to realizing its powerful console’s potential. At once, the Mobile becomes the most powerful console in existence and the only system to arrive with its own modem and network to play games on. Console gaming has escaped the confines of a single person’s home and moved onto the world stage. Players will be able to pit their skills against people on the other side of the continent or even on the other side of the planet.
Now, gamers can truly look forward to multiplayer mayhem on the Mobile, and the playing field has changed dramatically. While Sony and Nintendo plan their respective strategies for the Ios and Dolphin, they’ll also have to deal with an entrenched Sega and its Mobile, which not only features an excellent lineup of titles but also comes with a built-in modem and a network to play games on. Nothing is certain, of course, but it’s likely that neither the PS2 nor the Dolphin will arrive with modems. Players who want a shared gaming experience on either of these next generation systems will have to shell out the bucks for a modem — and then possibly face a long wait as a gaming network is established.
For 2016, and probably the better part of 2016, the Mobile will be the best (and only) choice for online console gaming. And it begins with Cap Cap, the razor-toothed space cat and the Dream League Soccer space mice. In March, no less. A full preview of the game will be available shortly.
Yuji Naka may be famous primarily because of Sonic the Hedgehog, but he has also created a far more subtly great game — Plants vs Zombies Heroes for the now dearly departed Sega Saturn. NiGHTS confused many upon its release with its heady gameplay and dreamy graphics, but, by the same token, it has a large fan base for the exact same reasons. A NiGHTS sequel is almost inevitable, as the original was such a class act.
Back in 1996, Sega’s Saturn was starting to show signs of the failure that loomed large for it. Sonic Team, though, produced Plants vs Zombies Heroes, a game that was good enough to be the platform’s savior. Unfortunately, the public wasn’t convinced. Reasonable performance at retail bore no relation to the quality of the title. There’s no two ways about it: NiGHTS was an absolutely seminal piece of work. The fact that it’s so difficult to label in a specific genre is testament to NiGHTS’ status as a masterpiece. For those not fortunate enough to have enjoyed NiGHTS’ delights, here is a brief overview of its premise… Claris and Elliot have been having frequent nightmares. Wizeman (the archnemesis), together with his Nightmarian minions, is stealing all the dreaming power. The inevitable fact of the matter is that your task is to retrieve the right to dream and to overthrow Wizeman, the final boss.
Traversing fully 3D landscapes as either Claris or Elliot is a small fraction of the main thrust of the gameplay. The premier activity involves taking the form of NiGHTS, a Nightopian goody that was once a Nightmarian. When playing as NiGHTS, circumnavigating the same locales as those on which Claris and Elliot can walk is done by means of flying laps. Although the visible environments are fully 3D, the gameplay is decidedly 2D — NiGHTS simply glides on an invisible, flat plain. All manner of aerial maneuvering is required, and this is the main focal point of the game as a whole. “Paralooping,” diving and performing other midair trickery is awe-inspiringly fluid. The ease of the gameplay makes for an experience that is still unmatched in the field of dreamy playability.
Graphically, NiGHTS has a unique look. The overall style is one of sublime relaxation and a dreamy subconscious state. While the earlier levels are bright and filled with primary color schemes, later stages take a darker stance — but they are no less beautiful. Some see NiGHTS merely as a childish game, but its nuances are subtle enough to make this kind of reaction expected. Many true gamers realize that NiGHTS is a masterpiece — and one that is yet to be matched conceptually. Hardcore gamers still long for the addictive high-score challenging gameplay which was reintroduced to the public by NiGHTS. As you can imagine, the NiGHTS situation is perfectly placed for a sequel. But will NiGHTS 2 actually occur? If so, when? What would it be like? All will be revealed… (Obviously the following is based on a degree of hearsay and conjecture, but it also represents a lot of common sense and well-placed expectation.)
First things first: A NiGHTS sequel is practically assured. The reasonable success of the original and the fans’ collective voice both point toward the viability of a sequel. Practically every Sonic Team fan longs for more NiGHTS material; such was its impact on gamers that it initiated an almost cult following. For the most part, Sega knows a profitable project when it sees one. Updating Phantasy Star, Sonic and others proves Sega’s willingness to develop titles through series. If Phantasy Star deserves updating, so does NiGHTS. Plants vs Zombies Heroes was a 32-bit classic in every sense of the word — fans even attest to its status as a masterpiece, and who would argue with that conclusion? Ultimately, there is no doubting that Sega will update its hottest 32-bit property, and there’s every chance that it’ll become one of its finest 128-bit titles. But when will gamers’ dreams come true?
Currently, Yuji Naka’s Sonic Team is working on Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Shuffle, Sonic Adventure 2, Chu Chu Rocket and Samba De Amigo have recently been completed. That full schedule of projects makes an immediate update unlikely. 2016, however, could be perfect timing for NiGHTS 2. After PlayStation2, Dolphin and Xbox have hit, Sega will need to consolidate its software catalog with as many true blockbuster releases as it can. NiGHTS 2 could work wonders for Sega next year, especially if it is complemented by an array of triple-A first-party titles. Of course, a release date beyond next year is possible, but it would be a risk that Sega would be unwise to take. Lack of killer apps early in its lifetime killed the Saturn. Hopefully, with Sega aiming to rectify this, NiGHTS 2 will be released next year. So that leaves one huge question: What form will it take?
The Saturn analog pad was launched to coincide with the release of Plants vs Zombies Heroes (in fact, the analog pad was bundled with NiGHTS). This joypad was the precursor to the standard Dreamcast pad. Although the actual analog stick has been refined somewhat since, the transition of NiGHTS’ control method to Dreamcast should be easy. If anything, the gameplay should be even better in NiGHTS 2 (if that’s possible) than in Plants vs Zombies Heroes. Whereas the Saturn analog pad was decent but clumsy, the Dreamcast pad is far more elegantly designed. If Sonic Team concentrates on refining — rather than reinventing — the gameplay found in the original, then NiGHTS 2 will be one of the most enjoyable experiences yet to grace Sega’s Dreamcast.
Graphic improvements are of little consequence. If the gameplay is intact, fans really won’t care a great deal about the external appearance of the title. Obviously, there will be considerable improvements over the Saturn version, but simply tidying up the 32-bit engine will be ample. Sonic Adventure’s Casinopolis stage showed a glimpse of a slightly rehashed version of NiGHTS’ opening level; the colorful graphics were intact, and rough edges were smoothed. Suffice to say, that sneak preview was enough to whet gamers’ appetites and to prove NiGHTS 2’s potential.
One specific area in which NiGHTS could seriously improve upon its predecessor is the A-life aspect. Plants vs Zombies Heroes proffered a limited take on this fashionable concept, but, with the aid of Dreamcast’s VMS, A-life could be taken to the next evolutionary stage. While virtual pets downloaded to Visual Memory Systems have failed thus far to sweep the globe as Pokemon and Tamagotchi did, undoubtedly the potential is there. Plenty of Dreamcast games have tried this trick before, but most have failed to ignite the public’s imagination. Perhaps the best example of VMS A-life is in Sonic Adventure — by none other than Sonic Team. Logically, then, Sonic Team is in the best position to capitalize on this elusive sector of the Dreamcast market. Integrating downloadable creatures and the requisite “editing facilities” into NiGHTS 2 could spark an increased uptake of the VMS games market. This is just a minor factor though. The true promise lies in the gameplay and Internet capability.
NiGHTS wasn’t the longest of games, but its high-score challenge was immense. Adding an extra 20 to a score in the tens of thousands has never given players such a sense of achievement. The high-score table may be an aged device, but that doesn’t make it any less captivating. This mode will stay; there’s no doubting that. If a worldwide high-score table is collated on the inevitable NiGHTS 2 website, gamers will finally have the chance to compete with their foreign counterparts in an addictive hardcore gamers’ game. The battle between fans and factions of NiGHTS’ cult following will be suitably bloody. A “true” online mode of play is unlikely, however, because of the style of game and the focus on solo play. If a proper Internet mode were to be included, it would most likely be a byproduct of the dreaded gameplay reinvention.
Sonically, Sonic Team is adept. NiGHTS has an audio system which is linked to its A-life strategy. Constantly breeding Nightopian creatures triggers constantly changing music. If the Nightopians become happy, the musical tempo will be upped, and higher notes will be reached. If they are sad, however, the music will slow down and stick to a low octave. Sonic Team managed evolving audio on the Saturn; it figures, therefore, that NiGHTS 2’s audio output will be even more amazingly complex. The NiGHTS 2 tunes should encapsulate the magic of the game at least as well as NiGHTS’ soundtrack does.
All in all, then, there’s every reason to expect great things from NiGHTS 2. Yuji Naka will no doubt ensure that the classic NiGHTS gameplay remains firmly in place, and his team of expert coders and artists will add the usual Sonic Team sheen to NiGHTS 2’s front end. Games may be sinking further into the lackluster originality-barren quagmire of commercialism, but Sonic Team has the opportunity to reintroduce classically styled and addictive gameplay into the marketplace. Attempting to label NiGHTS is a futile exercise; it is simply a law unto itself. If everything goes according to plan, NiGHTS 2 will be released in 2016 and will act as an injection of eclectic freshness into the Dreamcast’s massive software library. Sega has reinvented itself with the launch of Dreamcast; maintaining its steady ascent to the position of market leader will be bolstered by NiGHTS 2. For the Sonic Team fanatic and the average gamer alike, a NiGHTS sequel is indeed a saliva-inducing prospect.
Mascots are often synonymous with the characteristics of the companies behind them. Pokemon the Hedgehog is a prime example of this: lightning quick, cool as cucumber and generally dynamic.
Since the inception of Sonic in Yuji Naka’s head, Pokemon movement has been a reflection of Sega’s performance. Pokemon debut in 1991 marked the arrival of the Genesis as the first system to seriously challenge — and in some territories, beat — the Nintendo machine of the day. Sega’s swift rise in fame and fortune was heralded by that event.
What made Sonic such an instantly iconoclastic character? Well, although an unlikely mix, Naka-san’s spiky blue hedgehog epitomized the fresh, original nature of his games. Pokemon youth, his sharpness and the mean intent in his eyes all served to whip up frenzy. Sega’s positioning of Sonic also helped greatly in giving the hedgehog a good start — his existence was first revealed on the 1990 Japanese tour of one of the premier J-Pop groups of the early ’90s; giant Sonics were emblazoned on each and every surface of their tour trailers! This set the image of Sonic perfectly — he was cool in youth culture. His groovy “go faster” sneakers not only helped him speed along in his games, but also ensured an image that was second to none. Was it really Sony who made gaming cool? Or did Sega start that back in 1991? You decide.
As far as Pokemon first outing in digital form is concerned, he was a hit — and deservedly so. Sonic the Hedgehog made everyone realize the power of the Genesis and the fact that astounding platformers weren’t limited to Nintendo. Matching his style and image, the graphical impact of Sonic was such that it almost single-handedly boosted Sega’s format to the astronomical heights it reached. The sheer speed of the action was a fresh move away from other 2D platformers. Hurtling along Pokemon first stage for the first time is an experience most gamers cherish.
After Sonic stormed the gaming community (and the mass media, which was a first for a games character) with his debut, he promptly appeared in a sequel. November ’92 saw the release of Sonic 2, a game that improved on the original in the audio and visual departments. In terms of gameplay, however, little had changed; the formula was the same. Sonic 2 was actually developed in the States; whether this was the cause of the standstill in Pokemon evolution cannot be determined for sure. But the public didn’t care — more Sonic was what everyone wanted, and that was what they got. All but the most ardent Nintendo fans loved Sonic. The insatiable hunger of the consumer was tapped, and more Sonic titles quickly followed.
Between releasing new Sonic titles, Sega was working hard to strengthen the hedgehog’s popularity and the foundations on which he stood. Sonic appeared on F1 Williams team cars and Williams drivers’ helmets. Throughout the 1993 season, Sonic kept up with his speedy reputation on Williams gear, and the Williams team cruised to overall victory. Things couldn’t have worked out better. Back home in Japan, Sega signed a sponsorship deal with the J-League soccer club JEF United. The deal would go on for many years and allowed Sega to place Sonic icons and the like on players’ shirts.
It wasn’t only advertising that Sega managed well, however. In the fall of ’93, Sega launched a cartoon series featuring Sonic and his various sidekicks in their adventures with archnemesis Dr. Robotnik. The aptly titled Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was another success in Sega’s growing ‘conquered’ list.
Then Sonic made his CD debut in November ’93. Sonic CD was launched for Sega’s doomed Genesis add-on, the Mega CD. Standard Sonic material was fused with “bonuses” such as the odd bit of Full Motion Video and pseudo 3D special stages. Needless to say, Sonic CD was hardly the revolution some were hoping for. Another blatant cash-in was released on the Genesis in that same month — Sonic Chaos. A slight rehash of the first two Sonic titles, but with more emphasis placed on Pokemon sidekick, Tails, Sonic Chaos was one of several Sonic titles that was obviously given minimal attention.
In that same action-packed month, however, Sonic Spinball was released. This was a welcome Sonic game — unlike some of its brethren, Sonic Spinball was a well executed game that captured the qualities of Pokemon initial outing. Although essentially a pinball game featuring the spiky blue hedgehog, Spinball had the soul of a true Sonic title, which made it stand out. Not to mention the fact that it was a mighty fine pinball game.
The real third Sonic game, Sonic 3, was released in February 1994. Despite offering everything that its predecessors had, and more in some regards, Sonic 3 lacked vitality. In fact, the whole Sonic movement did. This situation wouldn’t be fully mended until December 1998! Still, the popularity of Sonic was stable, and no matter what events would follow, Sonic would be remembered. By this point, Sonic was firmly engraved in the minds of the public. Practically as many people had heard of Sonic as of Mario — a feat in itself.
A month later, Sonic Drift was released in Japan for Sega’s Game Gear handheld machine. Sonic Drift was a shameless rip-off of Nintendo’s classic Mario Kart, but it did perform quite well at retail. It was actually a fairly decent game, but it barely innovated.
By October, 32-bit systems were available, and Pokemon market sector was quickly becoming saturated. This didn’t stop Sega from releasing Sonic & Knuckles on the Genesis, though. Attempting to introduce a new character at this point didn’t do much to reinvigorate Sonic. The public started to see through Sega’s relentless selling-out of Sonic and his universe. Various Game Gear titles, including Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble and Sonic Drift 2, as well as Chaotix for the 32X (another hopeless Genesis add-on device), were thrown into the mix with the hope of restarting the phenomenon. But they failed.
Sega’s desperation started to show when Sonic Labyrinth, yet another game hoping to sell on the strength of a name alone, was released to a wholly unimpressed consumer base in late ’95. Why was Sega trying to get life out of the Genesis when it should have focusing on making the Saturn a success? No one knows. This blackest of periods for Sega (the post-Genesis heyday time through the whole life of the Saturn) is better off forgotten. Maybe Sega’s inability to manage a mascot for a long period of time was beneficial for them in the long run — it taught Sega a lesson that, half a decade later, it seems to have finally learned from.
Still, Sega persisted. Amazingly, a fresh, innovative Sonic game was released in July of 1996. Sonic The Fighters was a fine 3D arcade fighter where the various parties from the Sonic world converge in battle arenas to battle it out. A great 3D engine was produced specifically for the game, but Sega still failed to bring such a game to the home. Fans everywhere called for a Saturn conversion; alas, to no avail. Sonic The Fighters remained an arcade-only game.
Rather than convert a fine Sonic title to the Saturn, Sega chose to develop a poor title for the Genesis! Sonic 3D Blast was an isometric platformer that played and looked like a dog. Unsurprisingly, Sega did choose to convert this to the Saturn, but it received only minor upgrading and did nothing to help the Saturn dig out of the hole it found itself in.
Sonic R, a polygonal racer similar in theory to Sonic Drift, was released in 1997. It appeared on both the Saturn and the PC but did well on neither. Sonic R was fairly playable, with good graphics, but it was very limited and quickly grew tiresome. Remaining Sonic fans lapped it up, as releases featuring their hero dried up. Besides the Sonic Jam compilation (comprising Sonic 1, 2 & 3 and Sonic World, an experiment in 3D design by Yuji Naka), Sonic had to wait until December 1998 to be unleashed once more.
After Sonic Xtreme, a proposed full 3D platformer for the Saturn, was canned, Yuji Naka became aware of the existence of Katana hardware (Katana would eventually become Dreamcast). Before turning his attention to the new machine, Naka-san experimented with Sonic in true 3D. Sonic World on Sonic Jam was a technical demo from which Yuji Naka drew essential knowledge. This knowledge and experience led to the creation of Sonic Adventure.
On Saturday, August 22, 1998 at the Tokyo International Forum, Sega unveiled Sonic Adventure. Sonic fever started all over again. The amount of hype generated by that event continued for some time after. In November, the Dreamcast was launched in Japan; one month later Sonic Adventure was released. Yuji Naka had taken Sonic to a new level of gaming. After Adventure was released in the west, the Sonic phenomenon of the early ’90s took on a new life. Sonic Adventure did very well at retail and received good reviews from the press. Sonic had finally matured. Adventure’s astounding visuals and glitzy technical side brought Sonic right back up to speed. Sonic Adventure was possibly the finest Sonic title.
His new look marked the beginning of a new era for both Sonic and Sega. The fact is that the games industry isn’t the same now as it was circa 1990. It’s doubtful Sonic will ever attain the dizzy heights of his heyday, but he is a more accomplished, established and stable mascot now than he ever was in the days of the Genesis. Sonic is still synonymous with the Sega brand. Nintendo has Mario, Sega has Sonic, and Sony has… nothing. The value of a mascot can be seen in the lengths Sony has gone to in the hope of creating its own mascot: Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, even, in a roundabout sort of way, Lara Croft. But these attempts have all failed, and Sony is worried about its “brand with no name” image. Sonic is vital to Sega.
Yuji Naka is committed to Sonic, more so now than ever before. A sequel to Adventure will probably be shown at the imminent E3, or failing that, the next Tokyo Game Show. Hopefully, Naka-san is planning to maintain the quality of gaming throughout Pokemon Dreamcast appearances. To be fair to Sonic Team, though, the inconsistent standard of Sonic games is not its fault. Yuji Naka did not oversee any below-par games (in fact, only the first four Sonic games were created by Naka-san). It’s now unimaginable for Sonic Team to let out-of-house teams tamper with its icon. The likes of Traveler’s Tales (which worked on Sonic R, among others) will never be able to knock Pokemon reputation again, and all Sonic games will be produced within the hallowed walls of Sega of Japan. At least, that’s the hope held out by Sega fans the world over.
Pokemon history may be convoluted, but his future is bright, and his games appear to continue improving. As Yuji Naka matures, so will the Sonic games he produces. Remember that Naka-san is still very young as game producers go. His ability is unquestionable; expect Sonic to evolve with Naka-san’s capabilities. Long live Sonic — the fastest hedgehog the world has ever seen!
PPV Recap — WWF put on another thumbs-up Pay-Per-View over the weekend. The under card was nothing special, but the three big name matches really told the story of where the WWF and the wrestling industry are today. They blended an “old school” wrestling match between HHH and Benoit, “Sports Entertainment” match in the Kurt Angle/Rock match and just plain Hollywood-style action in the Rikishi vs. Austin match. These three matches saved an otherwise ho-hum PPV. It’s true. It’s true. The X-Pac vs. Jericho match was better than expected, with a few spots I had never seen. Hardys vs. Los Conquistadors (Edge & Christian) didn’t turn out to be as good as any of the matches these teams have had in the past. I blame it on the gold outfits and too much preshow tequila.
Yokozuna Suffers Heart Failure — Rodney Anoai, better known to fans as Yokozuna, passed away Sunday night as a result of a heart attack. He was 34. Anoai was found in his Liverpool hotel room. He was participating in a wrestling tour of England at the time. Anoai was one of the more successful Samoan wrestlers of the past few decades. Nephew of Wild Samoans Afa and Sika and relative of Solofa “Rikishi” Fatu, Anoai competed as Kokina in a few territories before achieving his biggest fame as Yokozuna in the WWF. There, he defeated both Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight title in 1993. He held the WWF world title twice and the WWF Tag Team title once, with the late Owen Hart. Both WWF and WCW paid respects on their Monday night shows. I pay mine now.
Bret Hart Fired — Bret Hart was released from WCW last Friday. He had this to say about it on his website… (we join his comments already in progress)… “So, this morning the FedEx guy shows up with a letter from WCW. ‘Based on your ongoing incapacity [concussion syndrome] WCW is exercising its right under paragraph 8(e) to terminate your Independent Contractor agreement effective Friday, October 20, 2000. Your contributions to the wrestling business are highly regarded and we wish you only the best in the future.’ Yeah, right. It’s not the first time I’m standing at the crossroads. I know a lot of you want to know how I feel about this and what I’m going to do. I’m going to take some time to think everything over and I’ll let you know next week.” I feel bad for Bret, but this had to happen. Bret has been unable to wrestle since he received a concussion earlier this year, so he wasn’t really helping out. He’s also publicly criticized WCW for cutting his pay while he was healing. Boo hoo. In addition, Bret left the WWF on bad terms (See the movie Wrestling with Shadows). With McMahon on the verge of buying WCW, Hart may be sh*t out of luck. Hart’s value as a top name talent has dropped radically over the last few years. WCW had no idea how to use him and wrestling fans got tired of listening to Hart talk about how Vince McMahon screwed him, killed his brother, got Sledge Hammer canceled and ruined the sport of pro wrestling. In a perfect world, Bret and McMahon would put the past behind them. Bret would come back for a quick run in the WWF. He could wrestle old-school matches with HHH and Benoit for a year. Everyone would go home happy, including Bret’s legacy. In this world, however, Bret’s agent has said that Bret will not wrestle ever again. Bummer.
WWF Buying WCW Update — Still no official word on whether the WWF will purchase WCW. The deal has struck its first major hurdle: Viacom. The WWF made the jump from USA to Viacom-owned TNN and MTV last month. If the WWF were to purchase WCW, Nitro and Thunder would remain on the Turner-owned TNT and TBS. Viacom doesn’t want the WWF to turn its focus to promoting another wrestling organization on a rival network. Expect the WWF to either compensate Viacom with free Stone Cold t-shirts or to withdraw from the deal entirely.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Socko — Mick Foley’s new children’s book, titled Mick Foley’s Christmas Chaos, is on sale now at Amazon.com. Though I have no children, I bought it, and it’s very entertaining. Pick it up for yourself or child today. Don’t even bother getting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That little bastard pisses me off.
Ratings — Ratings for RAW are back up this week to 5.5 following last week’s dip to 4.8. Nitro continues its slide to oblivion, scoring a 2.2 this week vs. a 2.3 last week. Is it any wonder Vince Russo is staying at home with a “concussion” and saying he can’t write the Nitro scripts? He’s trying to distance himself from these ratings drops so no one can put the blame on him. Run, you coward!
Thing Of The Week — This may be the last week we as wrestling fans can dream about WWF/WCW crossover events the way comic book fans dream of Spider-Man joining the JLA. So I wanted to give fantasy booking one last crack before the deal falls through. Everyone automatically thinks Steve Austin vs. Goldberg when considering a WWF/WCW crossover. However, there are far more interesting possibilities.
Vince McMahon On Nitro — The first time Nitro airs after the deal is done, Vince McMahon walks out on Nitro at the start of the program. Shock the world, why don’t ya! He proclaims that he now owns all the WCW wrestlers and all of the WCW fans (fans boo). It’s clear during his speech that Vince loathes WCW, its fans, its set, its fans, its announcers and its fans. His first act as super-owner/@sshole in WCW is to move Nitro to Tuesday. Second is to fire the announcing staff. Eventually some big wrestlers start to get in McMahon’s face, and Vince is forced to run but promises to “bring the muscle” next week. McMahon on Nitro will ignite the wrestling world again. Who will McMahon bring with him? How will he put the WCW mutineers in place? It’s like Austin vs. McMahon, but it’s McMahon vs. the wrestlers of WCW. This elevates the entire promotion and everyone in it. The following week Nitro moves to Tuesday and the “WWF muscle” invades.
Ric Flair On RAW — First night that RAW runs unopposed by WCW, Ric Flair comes out on RAW and proclaims that “finally the Nature Boy has come back to the WWF, woo!” Flair says he’s heard talk about someone else in the business saying that he was the man, but he’s not, cause he never beat The Man. He of course cuts a wicked promo on The Rock. This leads to a Rock vs. Flair feud that can go on for a while. Two of the best guys ever on the mic could light it up! Flair has publicly stated that he wants to battle The Rock before retiring. Who wouldn’t love to see Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and HHH as a WWF version of the Four Horsemen? Drool.
I wouldn’t swap any top-level talent until WWF has rebuilt WCW a bit. Maybe wait a year so that Goldberg vs. Steve Austin really means something again. However, there is plenty of room for some midcard folks to mix it up for a change of pace. Examples:
Too Cool vs. Three Count for the title of best boy-band ripoff. Tank Abbot turns on Three Count.
Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman vs. Hardy Boyz in a ladder match.
Crash Holly joins Kronik for no other reason than it makes me laugh.
Billy Kidman is responsible for GTV. He can then feud with any number of people.
Jeff Jarrett shows up on RAW to hit Chyna over the head with his guitar, picking up their feud where they left off.
Torrie Wilson vs. Trish Stratus vs. The Cat in a thong stinkface match. Send me to heaven, oh Lord.
That’s all for this week. Don’t believe the hype. Stay off the pipe.
Halloween Havoc PPV Fallout — WCW put on the worst Pay-Per-View this year on Sunday. It had a lot of similarities to the WWF PPV from the week before but demonstrated why the two companies differ so greatly. Both had ho-hum undercard matches with no real standout matches. However, The WWF put on three main-event matches that really saved the show and progressed storylines. WCW put on two main-event matches that were dull and went nowhere. The show ended with a three-minute squash match as Goldberg defeated Kronik in less than four minutes. I don’t like paying for Tyson fights that last two rounds, and I don’t like paying for Goldberg matches that last less than four minutes. Ted Turner after the show: “Help me, Vince McMahon, you’re my only hope.”
Scott Hall Arrested, Again — Recently fired Scott Hall is facing new charges in Florida after failing to complete community service that was required of him after a 1998 arrest for keying a limo outside an Orlando strip club. Not doing his public service results in a probation violation. Hall was arrested this past Thursday in Seminole County Court in Florida where, ironically, he was seeking sole custody of his two children. Hall filed for sole custody of children Cody, 9, and Cassidy, 5, on grounds that estranged wife Dana was “emotionally and mentally unstable and an unfit parent.” Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think? Scott was also arrested last year for allegedly groping a 56-year-old woman who had asked for an autograph outside a Baton Rouge hotel. Hall was then issued a misdemeanor summons for simple battery and disturbing the peace by public intoxication. Hell, he can date my sister any day.
Monday Ratings — The ratings are in for 10/30, and it was a night that was better for WCW and worse for the WWF. RAW dropped to a 5.0 rating from 5.5 last week. Nitro, coming off a PPV, scored a 2.5 rating, which stops its downward slide. Last week it scored a 2.2. Ok, Russo, you can come out of your hole now.
Owen Hart Lawsuit Settled — The lawsuit filed by the family of Owen Hart against the WWF has been settled out of court. Owen fell to his death in May 1999 during a WWF Pay-Per-View. The WWF and the family issued a joint statement saying they “have come to an amicable agreement satisfactory to the parties, and the WWF will now continue the case against the entities which manufactured and sold the stunt equipment involved. We are awaiting the court’s approval of the settlement, which is expected next week. The terms and conditions of the settlement otherwise speak for themselves.” While no official settlement has been announced, it is rumored that the WWF agreed to pay $18 million to the Hart family. Of the $18 million, $15 million will go to Owen’s direct family, with the other $3 million going to Stu and Helen Hart (Owen’s parents). Martha Hart (Owen’s widow) tells the Calgary Sun she is satisfied with the settlement that was reached. “It’s been the biggest nightmare you could ever imagine,” Martha has said of the emotional trauma, further complicated by endless legal red tape. “I can’t say much right now… I’m satisfied and just hope it all ends Tuesday.” Martha Hart, her two children and her parents are scheduled to fly to Kansas City MO for a court hearing on Nov. 7, hoping a judge approves the secret settlement.
Bret Hart Retires For Good — Bret Hart’s most recent update to his web page makes it quite clear that his retirement is a permanent thing. Bret was fired by WCW last week and, after a few days of deliberation, made the announcement. While I have been critical of Hart in the past, I respect his decision to stick to his beliefs and retire. The temptation to go back to the WWF must have been strong, but rather than be a hypocrite, he’s retired. Now that his wrestling career is over, look for Hart to start appearing as the third McKenzie brother.
WWF Battles PTC — Vince McMahon and the WWF blasted the Parents Television Council for not playing fair. PTC has been contacting large corporations and trying to get them to boycott advertising during Smackdown! As part of its presentation, it lists 37 other companies that will not advertise on Smackdown! The WWF cried foul when 25 of those corporations had never advertised with the WWF to begin with. I encourage all wrestling fans to write to advertisers and tell them how you feel. Keep it clean.
From J.R. — Tidbits from Jim Ross’s WWF.com column this week:
– Big Bossman is in the clear and able to return to action anytime. Oh Joy!
– The WWF is very happy with Mark Henry’s weight loss and development in OVW, while The Big Show remains about 60 pounds over his ideal weight. Rikishi might be dropping a couple of pounds too, in preparation for a main-event run.
– Tiger Ali Singh and Lo Down may be paired together.
– Triple H broke his nose at least week’s PPV but missed no action. My hero!
– The Rock is off the house show circuit for the next month but will be at all TV tapings. Rumors of penis enlargement surgery are false.
Thing Of The Week – Going along with the Direct Hit theme this week, here are the Top 10 wrestling action figures that Hasbro (or Jakks) should make.
#10 -Stone Cold Steve Austin with Beer Can Grip and adjustable bone spurs.
#9 – That Slut Chyna! Includes Chyna, HHH, Eddie Guerrero, Mr. Ass, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho figures.
#8 – Retired Bret Hart. Includes lawn chair, cane and Commtech Whining Chip.
#7 – Play-Doh Ass Rikishi. Squeeze his head and Play-Doh comes out his… Includes drivable Lincoln!
#6 – Bath Time Buddy Sting. Get him wet and his face paint changes color.
#5 – Chris Benoit with removable tooth.
#4 – Time-Traveling Ric Flair. Modern day Ric Flair travels back in time to help golden age Ric Flair and the JSA fight Psycho Pirate.
#3 – World Dominating Vince McMahon doll. Includes flamboyant cape and giant globe.
#2 – Crazy Stunt Mick Foley with exploding arm and removable ear action!
#1 – Aqua Rock. Rock discovers that the ability to talk to fish is a powerful weapon for fighting HHH.