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The Midweek News
By Dr. Tom
Sep 4, 2002, 18:28

THE MIDWEEK NEWS

The NFL finally kicks off the regular season this Thursday. Baseball may be the American pastime, but football is definitely America's sport. No labor problems, no drug scandals, no millionaires holding out for more cash ... okay, there are a few of those, but they're sine qua non to American sports, for better or worse. The NFL also seems to have more than its share of convicts in uniform, but the on-field product is good enough for most fans to look past the star running back using his wife for a tackling dummy.

We were trying to get an NFL Crossface together here at TSM, but all of us are so busy putting dominant content on the site that we couldn't get enough of us together. I'm going to offer my picks and predictions here, for the division winners and playoffs. (Quick note: there was an interesting article on ESPN about the media's record of picking Super Bowl winners. One guy – ONE GUY – picked the Pats to go all the way at the start of the season, and that's only because they fit a pattern he noticed, namely that the Super Bowl winner never plays on Monday Night Football.)

Of course, I am not responsible for any money you piss away based on these predictions, but I certainly wouldn't mind a cut of the check if you break the bank with one of them. Let's look at the division winners:

AFC East: Patriots
AFC North: Pittsburgh
AFC South: Tennessee
AFC West: Oakland
AFC Wild Cards: NY Jets, Indianapolis, Denver
AFC Dark Horse: Buffalo
NFC East: Philadelphia
NFC North: Chicago
NFC South: Tampa Bay
NFC West: St. Louis
NFC Wild Cards: Washington, Green Bay, San Francisco
NFC Dark Horse: Atlanta

The AFC will come down to Pittsburgh and Oakland, with the Steelers moving on. The NFC will come down to Philadelphia and St. Louis, and the Eagles will slip past the offensive powerhouse of the Rams, setting up the all-PA Super Bowl. The Eagles take it because their quarterback doesn't suck.

Random NFL observation: Mike Martz is not an offensive genius, Brian Billick certainly isn't, but Steve Spurrier just might be. Spurrier won in college with guys like Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel throwing for him because he had talented, fast receivers, and the system was good. Don’t expect the Fun 'N Gun to translate perfectly to the NFL, but look for Spurrier's team to make believers out of some of the doubters. Stephen Davis will not be a forgotten man, either; 1400-yard rushers are impossible to overlook. Spurrier doesn't hold a candle to Bill Walsh in the offensive genius category, though.

The above is offered with the knowledge that I absolutely loathe the Redskins.

Wait, this is a wrestling column. At least, it's supposed to be. The past few weeks have been slow for news, and this one looks to be no different. One last piece of old business before he dive into the new stuff: last week's classic, which no one spotted, was "Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again," by John Donne. No classic this week, though, as I'm severely on the rushed side and can't get one in. You can still email me your feedback, though, and tell me how excellent and edgy my writing is.

Since we've now dispensed with the rather lengthy (but content-filled, damnit) preamble, here's all the news that's fit to steal, all the dirt that's fit to deal, and all the mud that's fit to sling.

Hello In Connecticut! I'm Still Alive. What?

According to the fine folks who assemble the Torch newsletter, Steve Austin has reportedly broken his WWE-related silence to his friends and associates. Austin admits to having no contact with anyone in WWE since he parted ways with the company in June. He is still working out and is said to be in great shape, though he has reportedly not mentioned anything to friends about wanting to return to WWE. Austin is also said to be in great spirits, and wasn't affected by WWE's on-air burial of him shortly after his departure.

Austin was unfazed by it because it's an expected part of the business. I would also expect to see Austin in WWE again, not necessarily soon, but before Wrestlemania. It's very hard to burn a bridge in wrestling, even with Vince McMahon at the other end. Make no mistake, though: he wants to come back. It gets in the blood. Especially with his personal life slumping, Steve Austin needs the crowd reactions, he needs the spotlight, he needs the adrenaline rush and the breaking glass that give him his fix.

(Credit: PWTorch.com newsletter)

The Raw Rewind

As always, you should peep JHawk's Raw report for your in-depth recapping needs. The Cliff Notes from last night's Raw:

-- Trish/Bubba vs. Molly/Harvard: I'm just wondering: is this not a Hardcore match simply because it wasn't announced as one? Fun match, though Nowinski eliminating himself with an errant dive is inconsistent with previous table match canon. I could have lived without the "hymen" talk, though. 4/10

-- Booker T vs. William Regal: A couple of solid competitors in a match that was too short to mean anything. 2/10

-- Big Gold Belt Match: HHHGH vs. Ric Flair: I guess it's not the Big Gold Belt unless someone beats Flair for it. Pretty solid match with an old-school feel, though I didn't like Flair's early arm psychology on HHH going nowhere. 5/10

-- Kane vs. Storm/Christian: They did a decent job here of making all parties involved look strong coming out of this one. 3/10

-- Big Slow vs. Tommy Dreamer: OK, I enjoyed seeing Dreamer beat Slow like a little bitch with that chair. In fact, I'll give it a point just for that. 1/10

-- Terri vs. Yummy Stacy, Lingerie Pillow Fight: Seeing Stacy in that negligee was worth the colossal waste of time this ended up being. Hubba hubba. No rating.

-- HHHGH/Jericho vs. RVD/Flair: How hard up are they for talent if a 53 year-old man has to wrestle twice in one night? Nothing special here, and we all know that RVD's win over HHH at the finish will go the opposite way when it really counts. 4/10

Other Developments: You saw the mention of the Big Gold Belt above. It's ba-aack. The erstwhile WCW Title cum WCW International World Title cum WWF/WCW "World Title" made its return last night, when Eric Bischoff took it out of the Magic Briefcase (2002 Edition) and gave it to HHH. Easy E learned someone was defecting to Raw to join a family member, so he had the Island Boys squash Jeff Hardy before his match with Crash. Props to those of you who remembered Crash was on the roster. Of course, he ended up being the one jumping to Smackdown, presumably to enter the cruiserweight division. Test tried to burn the flag again after running in following the Kane handicap match, but Old Glory was saved this time by Bradshaw. If you're salivating over the Bradshaw/Kane hoss connection . . . well, you and Jim Ross are the only ones. Amusingly enough, the flag almost went up accidentally when Kane's pyro went off right near it. I wonder how they would have handed THAT one. Shawn Michaels gave an interview "via satellite" and "from a wheelchair," basically running down HHH and leaving the possibility of another match open.

In toto, it was a pretty blah episode of Raw, definitely below average though not precipitously so.

Because We Need More Blond Steroid Freaks, Bah Gawd!

WWE is apparently in the on-again phase in their on again/off again interest in Scott Steiner. Many folks at Raw were talking about it, and were even saying WWE had already contacted Steiner about bringing him aboard, no doubt as a pawn in the GM struggles. WWE has asked Steiner to submit to numerous tests to determine his health over the past few months; reports are that he took them all willingly and passed them.

One thing Steiner would give WWE is a monster heel, something they've unsuccessfully tried to build recently in Brock Lesnar.

(Credit: 1wrestling.com)

Marks Would Swear He's Really In A Wheelchair

The prevailing sentiment at Raw Monday night was that Shawn Michaels has not wrestled his last match. Michaels iced his back down after Summerslam and has reportedly suffered no ill effects from his match with HHH. Michaels was pleased with the match, and his promo last night obviously left the possibility of a return match open-ended.

I'll admit I didn't think Michaels could bring it like he did at Summerslam. Kudos to him for fooling us all into underestimating one of the top performers of the last 20 years.

(Credit: 1wrestling.com)

Dream Of A Little Dreamer

As Jim Ross mentioned in a recent Ross Report, former Hardcore champion and ECW star Tommy Dreamer is getting married. Ross didn't mention, however, that Dreamer would be marrying his former ECW valet: Teresa Hayes, aka Beulah McGillicutty. The nuptials are scheduled for October 12th. Best wishes to the happy couple, and my sincerest hopes that they keep the cookie sheets away from Tommy at the reception.

(Credit: Rajahwwf.com)



It's another slow week for the news, so that's all for this time. We're going to two news reports a week now – mine on Wednesdays and Byron's over the weekend – since three was a bit much. So look for Byron's take on the world of wrestling this weekend. I'll be back tomorrow with Smackdown, which isn't supposed to be pre-empted this week. Over and out.

Dr. Tom


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