Retro column from 2000 – Reaction to Rikishi running over Steve Austin

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The following column was written by Willy Bauer on (my original domain name before in 2000. This column was a review of the storyline where Rikishi was revealed as the driver that ran down Steve Austin.

Off The Top Turnbuckle

Last week, Rikishi shocked the wrestling world by admitting he ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin. Few, if any, wrestling pundits and writers suspected the sun-glass wearing, hip-hop dancing Rikishi as the person who struck down Austin the prime of his wrestling career. Most internet speculation pointed to Billy Gunn, Debra or Shawn Michaels. However, considering the relationship between wrestling and the internet, Rikishi’s revelation should have surprised no one.

The internet is one of the most powerful tools in wrestling. When wrestling fans discovered how the WWF would handle the return of its most popular superstar, people suspected Billy Gunn. He was a former D-X member and did not have an alibi. In addition, Gunn had been nursing a shoulder injury for a few months and his return was imminent. However, Gunn dispelled those rumors when he provided Austin with an alibi and revealed the driver had blond hair. Again internet writers wrote stories declaring either Debra, Shawn Michaels or Linda McMahon ran over Austin. No one mentioned Rikishi. The absence of speculation, of course, was a determining factor. No one suspected him, thus shocking the wrestling world.

The relationship between wrestling and the internet, then, is ambiguous. Internet reports are often at the whim of the wrestling companies. The WWF or WCW (well, I heard they were a wrestling company but I am not sure) can float rumors to test a possible angle or spread red herrings in order to distract writers from the true direction of the angle. The internet is by no means a shill for corporate America. Actually, the proliferation of information on the internet makes great demands on the writers of the WWF and WCW. They must surprise an audience that has read at least four or five different possibilities for angles. Clearly this is a fascinating relationship and one that I have bought into.

That being said, and to make this column a little less anachronistic, do not be surprised if Rikishi-Austin match at No Mercy this weekend does not come out as expected. Everyone suspects Austin will win and win quickly. However, this would only stunt the angle and it would not produce the surprise wrestling provides its audiences. Will Rikishi emerge victorious? Doubtful. But expect the unexpected and not something you read on the internet (except this site. It publishes the truth).

RAW Observations:

Worst Match of the Telecast: T&A; vs. the Acolytes. These men need more work together. Both teams badly missed spots and did little to sell their opponents’ moves.

Steven, er, William Regal needs to come to the ring in something else than his wrestling trunks. Regal looks pasty and disproportioned. Tazz had this problem when he first entered the WWF and looked awkward. Thankfully, the WWF fixed that problem.