By Mike Mooneyham

June 15, 2003

World Wrestling Entertainment will present its first brand-exclusive pay-per-view tonight with Raw’s Bad Blood from the Compaq Center in Houston.

With disappointing showings from the last two pay-per-views, the company is taking a bold gamble by extending the split brands concept into the riskier pay-per-view realm. Four pay-per-views – the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summer Slam and Survivors Series – will continue to utilize performers from both Raw and Smackdown, while the eight other monthly PPVs will alternate between brands.

On paper, tonight’s show looks like a mixed bag, with a big question mark surrounding the main event, a rematch between Triple H and Kevin Nash. While there’s not much question that Nash makes a poor choice in the main event of a major show, the fact that Mick Foley has been brought in as special referee for the match adds considerable luster to the event.

Mick Foley

Foley and Triple H both deserve major kudos for hyping tonight’s show. Their performances last week on Raw sparked renewed interest in what promises to be – barring a miracle – a less-than-stellar Hell in a Cell headliner. It has become painful to watch the lumbering Nash navigate in a wrestling ring, and it’s obvious that WWE has all but given up on him. Less and less camera time has been assigned to the former “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel, evidenced by the fact that his first appearance Monday night wasn’t until the show’s overrun segment.

Foley, whose WWE return was partly motivated by the scheduled July 8 release of his first novel, “Tietam Brown,” most likely will get physically involved in tonight’s Hell in a Cell, a match made famous by Foley’s incredible bump off the top of the cage during his 1998 bout with The Undertaker.

One negative from last week’s Raw was that the Foley-Triple H angle overshadowed all the other major storylines heading into the pay-per-view, including the highly anticipated showdown between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. With the energy and enthusiasm both performers – especially Flair – have displayed in recent weeks, it’s a shame the writers didn’t allot more time for one final verbal exchange between the two.

The Flair-Michaels bout promises to be tonight’s show-stealer. It’s a match that both have looked forward to for years. Their only other singles meeting was during the early ‘90s when Michaels was part of The Rockers tag-team with Marty Jannetty, several years before he established himself as one of the greatest workers in the business. Despite Flair’s age (54) and Michaels’ relative inactivity since suffering a career-ending back injury several years ago, the two are extremely motivated and feel in good enough shape to put on a classic match.

Flair’s inspired performances have provided some of Raw’s best moments over the past six weeks, and a victory over HBK could signal that the company finally realizes that the “dirtiest player in the game” – when used effectively and not overexposed – is still a ratings draw and one of the most compelling characters in the business.

There are some other intriguing features on tonight’s show, such as the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin-Eric Bischoff “Redneck Triathlon” featuring a pie-eating contest, the impending split between WWE Raw tag-team champs Kane and Rob Van Dam, and the Scott Steiner-Test clash over the managerial services of Stacy Keibler. Look for Bill Goldberg to score a convincing win; too bad, though, that Chris Jericho will be on the receiving end. Goldberg, whose character has been weakened considerably, demanded last week at Raw that parts of his storyline with Jericho be changed, as well as his match with Rosey. And sources say it’s no longer a given that Goldberg will get Triple H’s strap at Summer Slam in August.

WWE’s current take on Goldberg was made public Friday when Linda McMahon, fielding a question during the company’s fourth quarter fiscal conference call, categorized Goldberg’s run thus far as “disappointing.”

– Jim Ross gave Ric Flair major props last week on the Between The Ropes radio show when he said that he was privileged to be in “rarefied air” several weeks ago in Greenville calling the Flair-Triple H match. Ross also said he could see another world title run for Flair under the right conditions.

– Often the target of criticism, WWE earns points for the manner in which it handled the recent passing of Classy Freddie Blassie. In addition to several tastefully produced tributes to the legendary heel, Vince McMahon delivered a moving eulogy at Blassie’s funeral service.

Dick Beyer, who as The Destroyer was one of pro wrestling’s greatest masked performers, was equally impressed.

“I don’t get along very well with Vince McMahon, however I went up to him (at the funeral) and thanked him for taking care of Freddie over the years,” Beyer, 72, said last week. “They did a great video tribute for Freddie, and it was all handled very well.”

– Rico (Rico Constantino) is undergoing a much-needed character overhaul that will result in him resurfacing soon with an Exotic Adrian Street-like gimmick. In the Miss Linda-like valet role will be Tough Enough 2 co-winner Jackie Gayda. Rico recently spent time with Street discussing the gimmick when WWE made a swing through Street’s hometown of Pensacola.

Longtime Mid-Atlantic mat fans will remember Street’s classic feud with Jimmy Valiant over the “Boogie Woogie Man” attempting to court Miss Linda (Street’s wife in real life).

– George’s Sports Bar and Grill, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the Bad Blood pay-per-view tonight beginning at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5.

– Miles Road Baptist Church will hold its annual Family Fun Night on June 27. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. and will feature food, refreshments, games and a wrestling exhibition featuring such names as Greg Valentine, Jimmy Valiant, Ricky Morton, The Barbarian and George South. The church is located at 816 Miles Road in Summerville.

– The rating for last week’s Raw dropped to a 3.5, down from the previous week’s 3.9. Smackdown, however, jumped to a 3.7, up from the previous week’s 3.1 and the highest number the show has done this year.

– Triple H said on the Jimmy Kimmel show last week that he asked Vince McMahon for his daughter’s hand in marriage before popping the question to Stephanie. The two will tie the knot on Oct. 25.

– Lance Storm reportedly is (understandably) unhappy with the way his character has been handled. Last week on Raw he basically served as squash fodder for Scott Steiner when time had to be cut from their bout due to the women’s tag-team match going long.

– A.J. Styles, with help from Vince Russo, captured the NWA-TNA world heavyweight title from Jeff Jarrett Wednesday night in Nashville. Jarrett had held the belt since defeating Ron “The Truth” Killings last November. Sting (Steve Borden) is scheduled to team with Jarrett on this week’s one-year anniversary show against Styles and an unnamed partner. He reportedly turned down an offer from WWE because he didn’t want to be on the road every week and away from his family.

– A forensic scientist who examined “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith’s body for a cause of death at the request of Smith’s family said last week that she found levels of morphine and steroids in his body, but they were not high enough to kill him, according to a report in The Manchester Evening News.

The medical inquiry was done at the request of Smith’s father, Sid, who did not believe the accounting of Smith’s death told by then-girlfriend Andrea Hart that Smith passed away in his sleep as the couple and Hart’s five children were vacationing.

“The levels found suggest a history of therapeutic use of codeine and morphine, but there is no scientific evidence of abuse,” said Julie Evans, who ruled the 39-year-old Smith’s death to be of natural causes stemming from an enlarged heart. “There were high levels of testosterone, but many athletes can have a higher level of testosterone than the average person.” The ruling backed up an initial ruling by Canadian investigators.

Smith, who insisted that his son’s body should be returned to England for a post mortem, told the newspaper that he may go to Canada himself to investigate Smith’s passing.

“I believe my son was murdered, he was so fit and healthy, it doesn’t make sense,” Smith told the British paper after the inquest.