By Mike Mooneyham

Aug. 24, 2003

Tonight’s Summer Slam pay-per-view could very well mark the end of Triple H’s controversial world heavyweight title reign in WWE.

The much-maligned Hunter Hearst Helmsley, viewed by many fans as the recipient of an undeserved push due to his political standing within the company and the McMahon family, remains the odds-on favorite to retain the Raw version of the WWE crown in the six-man Elimination Chamber match.

WWE officials, however, reportedly are poised to pull the trigger and put the strap on 23-year-old, third-generation star Randy Orton.

Sources say the 6-4 Orton, the son of Cowboy Bob Orton and grandson of “Big O” Bob Orton Sr., is in line for a Rock-like push. Either Orton or Triple H is expected to be turned babyface in the near future to set up an eventual showdown between the two.



Tonight’s six-man main event has been designed to divert attention from Triple H, who is recovering from a groin pull suffered several weeks ago in a dark match with Bill Goldberg. The champ has been experiencing intense pain preparing for the show, and his role in tonight’s bout is expected to be limited.

A previously scheduled singles match between Triple H and Goldberg was scrapped when Helmsley suffered the injury. That money match will be held off until at least the next pay-per-view.

For now, though, it appears that Orton, who some critics claim is too green to credibly carry the strap, will get his shot at the top spot. A future title run for Goldberg, which was practically a given just months ago, is now far from certain. One major stumbling block is a contract that requires him to work a maximum of only six dates per month, far fewer than the company would like.

In other bouts at Summer Slam: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Smackdown heavyweight title; Kane vs. Rob Van Dam; Eric Bischoff vs. Shane McMahon; The Dudleys vs. La Resistance for the WWE Raw tag-team title; Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rhyno and Tajiri in a four-way match for the U.S. heavyweight title; The Undertaker vs. A-Train; and Matt Hardy vs. Zach Gowen. Superstar Billy Graham also is scheduled to make an appearance on the show.

– WWE lost more credibility last week on Raw with its hair vs. hair match between Chris Jericho and Kevin Nash. With the stipulations stating that the loser would get his head shaved bald, the clip job that Nash received was a clear case of false advertising. The trim, in preparation for an acting part in an upcoming movie, left Nash with little more than a crew cut.

– Vince McMahon no-showed his own house shows last weekend after advertising was based largely on his personal appearance.

– The latest spoiled-sport incident in the wrestling business occurred last weekend during a Ring of Honor match between Low Ki and Danny Maff in Fairfield, Conn. Low Ki, who had accidentally knocked out his opponent (and best friend) with an errant kick and brought the match to a premature conclusion, shortly afterward slapped a ringside cameraman out of frustration.

Give a measure of credit to Low Ki, though, for issuing a public apology three days later and admitting that he was out of line.

“I broke the code,” he said. “The code of ROH, the code of this industry, and the code of this very professional and proud locker room … I offer no excuses for my actions, as they were inexcusable. I only offer an apology, and wish there was a way for me to express just how sorry I am for my unprofessional display. I hope in future I will have the opportunity to be a better representative of the company and of this business.”

– Percy Pringle, the former Paul Bearer, apparently was among the many fans and observers who thought the Eric Bischoff-Linda McMahon angle on Raw Monday night went a tad overboard.

The storyline saw Bischoff apparently break into the McMahon home, force Linda’s arm behind her back and make sexual overtones. Pringle said it was only the second time in his 40-plus years as a wrestling fan that he did the unthinkable: turning off a television wrestling program (the first was Triple H’s lewd action with a fake corpse a year ago).

“The last time I checked, the marquee read ‘Wrestling,’ not ‘McWrestling,’ Pringle said on his Web site. “Yet, every time I turn on McRaw and McSmackdown, what do I see? It’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s open display of lewdness with a nipped ‘n tucked Playboy Playmate. Then there is his son and daughter, running around actually playing the parts of professional wrestlers. Now it’s the last straw, Linda McMahon in that sickening scene with Bischoff.

“Vince McMahon and his one-ring circus sideshow is dying a slow agonizing death. Talented ring performers are sitting at home all over the country unable to pay their bills because of the McMonopoly of our business. Yet, staged or not, he dare laugh at a handicapped grappler flopping around the ring like a catfish out of water. It’s sickening. Sometimes I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend I never had a damn thing to do with any of this.”

My take on the segment is that it’s one major stretch (and a real suspension of disbelief) to envision Linda McMahon falling for Eric Bischoff. One also has to wonder what Vince McMahon, who fought tooth-and-nail with Bischoff during the heated Monday night wars, has in store for his former nemesis. McMahon, who is all about business and will do whatever it takes to draw money, apparently is banking on Bischoff cutting promos with the same vigor and venom that he did while trying to put McMahon out of business several years ago.

It will take two to successfully pull off this angle, however, and Linda looked painfully uncomfortable during Monday night’s segment. Let’s hope the eventual payoff match between Vince and Eric is worth it.

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

– Sean Waltman has responded to Joanie Laurer’s recent charges of abuse that were made public in a number of media outlets.

Waltman (the former Syxx-Pac) admitted in a rambling statement that he put Laurer (the former Chyna) in a defensive chokehold to restrain her, but did not initiate the hostilities.

“I did shove her to the ground, and when she ran back at me with her hands in the air as to hit me, I placed my right foot into her chest and shoved her back to the ground again. A true kick to the body would have sent her to the hospital. Joanie is an incredibly powerful woman, one of the strongest in the world at one time. She bench-pressed 350 pounds plus. The world record was only about 30 pounds difference. I wrapped her in a rear naked choke (my legs wrapped around her waist). She has turned this into me trying to snap her neck. Never did I cut off her windpipe. I was trying to keep us both from getting hurt. I do not mean to offer this as an excuse for my part in this.”

“I am ashamed of myself for letting things escalate to this point,” Waltman concluded. “I am ashamed of putting Joanie ahead of my children. They are the greatest thing I have and I have forsaken them for a woman. That sounds terrible and it is.”

– Although last weekend’s USA Championship Wrestling show at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, Ga., produced a number of no-shows due to circumstances beyond the promotion’s control (including the nation’s worst blackout), it also produced a number of pleasant surprises and a true “old-school” wrestling atmosphere.

The main event saw Buff Bagwell, who put on his working shoes on this particular evening, defeat Public Enemy’s Johnny Grunge (subbing for Raven) in a bloody falls-count-anywhere match. J.J. Dillon was the mystery original member of The Four Horsemen and did a run-in to set up Mike Sanders’ (subbing for David Flair) victory over Terry Ray Gordy. Dillon also cut an effective promo while doing an in-ring interview with former WCW announcer Tony Schiavone.

Promoters offered a 50 percent discount on tickets to the next show (scheduled for October).

– Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, which hosted a number of Crockett Promotions TV tapings during the ‘80s, will be the site of a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling show on Sept. 2. The event will feature Dusty Rhodes, The Midnight Express, Buff Bagwell and Rick Steiner.

– Alexis Lareee is the latest diva to sign with WWE. Laree, who signed a developmental deal last week and will be reporting to Ohio Valley Wrestling, has been working as a heel member of Raven’s Gathering in NWA-TNA and as a babyface for Ring of Honor.