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   Sat, May 22, 2004



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Raw writers give stories better fictional elements
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


On this day in 2003, the Calgary Flames were getting tee times instead of ice time, the Roughnecks had disbanded for the summer after a first-round loss to Buffalo and Monday Night Raw was in the middle of one of the worst creative slumps in its 10-year history. Just 12 months later, as summer 2004 ever-so-slowly rolls around, it's easy to see what a difference a year makes.

Flames fever is gripping the city as Lord Stanley's mug is just four wins away.

The Riggers are on top of the world as the newly-crowned NLL champs.

And as for Raw? Well, to loosely paraphrase the Great One (Rocky, not Gretzky), finally, the quality has come back to Monday nights.

WWE's flagship show has gradually transformed from a stale and slow-paced snooze-fest to a red-hot grade-A grappling experience. Carrying the momentum from Wrestlemania XX, the storylines have been solid and the matches spectacular.

With Chris Benoit at the helm, WWE writers are finding the perfect balance between an exciting main event picture and fun undercard storylines.

Benoit, Triple H and Shawn Michaels are providing heated feuds in the marquee slot, with five-star main events and bloody back and forth battles.

Elsewhere on the card, there's a little bit of something for everyone, from the Chris Jericho-Trish Stratus soap opera to fun storylines such as William Regal's training sessions with Eugene Dinsmore.

Actually, the Eugene character is a textbook example of how WWE has finally figured out how to do things right.

Nick Dinsmore must have been crushed when he found out that after all his years of training, his shot at the big time would be portraying Eric Bischoff's mentally challenged nephew on Raw.

Given that WWE usually uses minorities to get cheap heat (Bradshaw vs. the Hispanic audience) or even cheaper laughs (Billy and Chuck's big gay wedding), most wrestling journalists began writing obituaries for Dinsmore's career.

WWE clearly took the negative press to heart, because Dinsmore's character took a Rainman-influenced twist -- acting a little slow backstage but turning into a technical genius in the ring.

Instead of playing Eugene's disability for laughs, WWE have built him up as a hero who overcomes the odds in spite of his disability, and incredibly, the crowd got into him in a big way.

Eugene's chemistry with the Rock on Raw last week was off the charts and with the rub he got from working with the most electrifying man in sports and entertainment, it looks like a bonafide superstar has been born under the most unlikely circumstances.

Despite the above-average storyline quality, Raw's ratings have been up and down over the past few weeks.

- - -

EDDIE HURT: Eddie Guerrero was rushed to a L.A. hospital Sunday night after he collapsed in the ring soon after the cameras stopped rolling on Judgment Day.

Guerrero, who performed one of the sickest blade jobs in recent memory during his match with Bradshaw at the pay-per-view, apparently went into shock from blood loss. He was treated and released that same night but was written out of Tuesday's Smackdown tapings as a precaution.


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