By Mike Mooneyham

Nov. 16, 2003

World Wrestling Entertainment presents one of its four major, combined pay-per-views of the year tonight when the Raw and Smackdown brands team up for Survivor Series.

The show’s top billing goes to the Triple H-Bill Goldberg rematch for the WWE heavyweight title, although most of the buildup has centered around the Buried Alive Match between Vince McMahon and The Undertaker. Not to be outdone, Shane McMahon’s Ambulance Match with Kane has received more than its share of pre-show hype.

And what would a major WWE pay-per-view these days be without the presence of Stephanie McMahon, who is rumored to be making a surprise return tonight as she helps her 58-year-old father send Taker back into the depths whence he came – at least until Wrestlemania XX. The logical angle, of course, would be to have Kane interfere and put his storyline brother out of action, which remains a possible scenario.

At any rate, the show is going to be a McMahon family production.

Unlike their previous bout, in which Goldberg vowed to retire if he lost, tonight’s rematch for the Raw version of the WWE heavyweight title holds some mystery surrounding the outcome.

Stephanie McMahon and HHH

Stephanie McMahon and HHH

Triple H, now officially a member of the McMahon clan and fresh off his honeymoon with Stephanie, is looking at a heavy filming schedule in December as he works on his latest movie project. But that doesn’t mean he’s cool with doing two consecutive jobs to Goldberg. It’s more likely that The Game will find a creative way to wrest control of the title from the champ.

Kevin Nash had been slated to challenge Goldberg for the title, but yet another physical setback to the injury-prone performer prompted a change in plans. Nash, who ended Goldberg’s win streak in WCW several years ago in a move that turned out to be the beginning of the end for that company, had been pegged to turn heel and collect the $100,000 bounty on Goldberg. That storyline was scrapped, however, when Nash told WWE officials that he would be undergoing neck surgery and would be out of action for a minimum of two months. Nash had the procedure done by Dr. Hae-Dong Jho, who performed Kurt Angle’s minimally invasive surgery earlier this year. With his contract coming up for renewal in February, it appears likely that the 44-year-old Nash is headed for a spot in the office.

One of the most heavily hyped matches on tonight’s PPV is the showdown between Kane and Shane McMahon in what hopefully will spell an end to their program. As a last-minute buildup for their bout, WWE writers had the two mortal enemies break bread at an upscale Boston restaurant, calmly sitting down at the table, discussing their feud over dinner and talking about how they were going to maim each other tonight. The main problem with this angle is that few fans believe a non-wrestler such as Shane could actually overcome a supposedly psychotic monster like Kane. But logic is a consideration that’s rarely used these days, so it’s probably a moot point anyway.

The big stipulation in tonight’s match is that the loser will get hauled off in an ambulance, even though viewers already have been treated to car crashes, infernos and 20-foot plunges involving the two. Once again pro wrestling is sacrificed at the altar of sports entertainment. And with the recent hiring of two consultants with little wrestling experience whose job is to critique the product from an entertainment standpoint, the pendulum is likely to continue shifting in that direction.

Speculation also abounds around the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff match tonight, with the stipulation that Austin will be removed as co-general manager of Raw if his team loses. However, if Austin’s team is victorious, the Rattlesnake no longer has to be physically provoked before going on the attack.

– The funeral for Mike Lockwood (Crash Holly) was held Wednesday in China Grove, N.C. Lockwood died Nov. 6 at the age of 32. A cause of death is unknown, with toxicology reports pending.

Lockwood, who had been working for NWA-TNA and various independents under the name Mad Mikey, was staying at the house of wrestler Steven Richards at the time of his death.

A native of California, Lockwood had opened a wrestling school in the Salisbury, N.C., area last year, and had worked part-time as a bouncer as well. Lockwood, who had a history of out-of-the-ring problems, had experienced a number of personal setbacks in recent months, including a separation from his wife and a release from WWE.

A polished technician inside the ring who was diminutive compared to most of his WWE colleagues, turned the size differential into a comedic angle in which he billed himself as a super heavyweight and carried a scale with him to the ring.

His former company dropped the ball by failing to acknowledge his death on either its Raw or Smackdown telecasts. Lockwood worked for WWE for five years, and held its hardcore title on 19 occasions, along with stints as the light-heavyweight and European champ. While the company deserves props for not only mentioning the recent deaths of Mike Hegstrand (Road Warrior Hawk) and Stu Hart, but spotlighting them on its Confidential show, it’s disappointing the decision was made not to acknowledge Lockwood’s passing (WWE did post news of his death on its Web site, and a 10-bell salute was given to him on at least one of the house shows).

– Toxicology reports confirmed that Anthony Durante (Pitbull No. 2) and his girlfriend, Diane Hulsey, who were found dead in their Misquamicut, R.I., home in September, succumbed to drug overdoses.

Durante, 36, and Hulsey, 29, overdosed on the painkiller fentanyl, police said. The state’s medical examiner’s office confirmed the causes of death. Police are looking to file criminal charges if they can find out who gave them the drugs. Police also found what appeared to be time-release pain drug patches in the couple’s home. No charges have been filed in the deaths, but police are still investigating.

– Lex Luger’s return to the ring stirred a hornet’s nest in NWA-TNA circles, where he appeared Wednesday in his first match in the United States since March 2001, weeks before the unceremonious end of WCW. Ironically that bout was part of WCW’s aptly named “Greed” pay-per-view, with Luger and partner Buff Bagwell, upset at doing a job, simply “laying down” in a 54-second squash to Sean O’Haire and Chuck Palumbo.

NWA-TNA brought Luger in as a favor to Sting (Steve Borden), with whom he shared a business and working relationship until a falling out several years ago. According to sources, the gesture represented a helping hand to Luger, who is facing a number of drug-related charges in the wake of the death of longtime girlfriend Liz Hulette (the former Miss Elizabeth). With a massive cloud hanging over his future and a less-than-stellar track record, Luger’s return has been met with considerable skepticism.

A rash of negative feedback regarding the booking of Luger prompted a reply to the media from NWA-TNA president Dixie Carter.

“When our talent approaches management and recommends giving someone an opportunity, we listen, and that is the case with Lex Luger, as well as others,” she said on the promotion’s Web site. “The success of bringing Lex to TNA won’t be measured with pay-per-view buys. It will be measured by what a man does with an opportunity given. As a company, if any talent becomes a negative force in the locker room, then they are no longer welcome to be part of our team, and that has been proven on occasion and will continue to be our manner of operation.”

Sting and A.J. Styles turned back Luger and Jeff Jarrett on the NWA-TNA show, with Luger dropping the fall to Styles after being hit by Sting several times with a chair.

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

– Condolences to Ric Flair on the loss of his mother, Kathleen (Kay) Fliehr, who passed away Nov. 9 at the age of 85 in Charlotte. Mrs. Fliehr was a University of Minnesota journalism graduate who once worked at the Star and Tribune in Minneapolis, and along with her husband, Dick, helped found the American Community Theater Association. She also worked for the Sir Tyron Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis as the head of public relations, and authored a book titled “In Search of an Audience” in 1968.

Ric Flair’s father, Dick Fliehr, passed away in June 2000 at the age of 81. – Ole Anderson, an original member of the legendary Four Horsemen, has co-written a biography titled “Inside Out: How Corporate America Destroyed Professional Wrestling.” The book will be released in early December.

– A new tell-all book about former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has hit the stands. Dan Creed, a former manager of the governor’s mansion who was fired from the job, said he wouldn’t have written “Governor Ventura ‘The Body’ Exposed. The Man. The Mansion. The Meltdown” if Ventura had not dismissed the staff after a couple made observations about the Venturas to reporters.

Creed said Ventura was often rude to others, and spent much of his time watching television. But he says Ventura was a master storyteller who exudes charisma, adores his wife and seldom drinks.

The book features photos taken from private Ventura family functions, including one showing the former governor at his 50th birthday party dressed in a pink hula skirt and flowered headdress.

– Former WWE champion Mick Foley told The Crimson White newspaper last week that he is in preliminary discussions with the company to return to the ring at Wrestlemania XX. He listed Triple H as a possible opponent.

“He was one of my favorite opponents,” Foley said at an appearance at the University of Alabama. “And I keep hearing rumors he might be one of my future opponents.”

A Wrestlemania match would mark his first appearance at Madison Square Garden as a wrestler since the 2000 Royal Rumble, where he lost a Street Fight to then-WWF champion Triple H. Foley officially retired the following month, but returned for one last appearance at Wrestlemania that year. He’s currently promoting his most recent writing effort, the fictional novel “Tietam Brown.”