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Attempting to Stay On-Topic when Wrestling 
is only THIRD on the Depth Chart....
March 17, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I should have expected as much... I take about 15 minutes to mock up a new color scheme/logo for the main page (to remain as long as the Dayton Flyers' quest for the Final Four is still active), and I get two types of responses.  One is "Wow, I like it even more than the design you slaved over last year.  I hope you keep it."  And the other is, "Ha ha, the Flyers suck, and the new design will be history by this weekend." 
To which I can respond only by saying that I'd like to see what YOU'd do if you'd developed an unhealthy sports team fixation AND combined that with having an outlet to convert tens of thousands of people to your cause.  You'd go off the deep end, too.  
And hey, at least, I didn't turn the page bright green in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  And at least I'm trying really hard to get to the wrestling news here, so that the only people who'll be subjected to my Flyers- and St. Patty's Day-induced distracted state of mind will be those who foolishly make it all the way to the end of the page.

Must... get... on.... topic:

  • While wrestling may only be the third or fourth most important thing going on today for me, it's still a live RAW, we're still just two weeks out from WrestleMania, and I'm not so deluded as to think you share my pre-occupations.
    So tonight, it's all about a RAW headlined by Steve Austin's first RAW match since his return, a fight against Eric Bischoff.  The match promises to be everything that Bischoff's PPV contest against Austin was not: since Bischoff WILL be allowed to make whatever stipulations he wants this time around, he'll indubitably stack the deck against Stone Cold.
    However, much like last week's Rock/Hurricane main event, I expect this week's Austin/Bischoff match to essentially be a backdrop for more developments between Austin and The Rock.  Austin/Bischoff is a serviceable storyline on its own, but the pay-off will almost surely include Rock trying to return the favor for Austin costing him that win last week on RAW.
    In the interim, if we're also be treated to the Rock playing guitar, bantering with the Hurricane, and in general trying to find new ways to come across like a total chickenshit, then all should be right with the world.  To some extent, Rock vs. Austin sells itself based on the strengths of the personalities involved... so little character-building skits like those are nearly as important as face-to-face in-ring confrontations between the two guys.
    We should also see a quantum leap forward in terms of the Triple H vs. Booker T WM19 title match...  since Booker won the title shot, HHH has taken an elitist "I don't have to worry about you" approach to Booker's challenge.  Last week, he sicced Ric Flair on Booker, but that backfired.  Booker stormed backstage and attacked HHH.  Now that HHH has been forced to get his hands dirty with Booker, and since he came up with the short end of the stick in said confrontation, I'm sure they'll be less of HHH avoiding Booker, and more of them going nose to nose.
    Booker's already looked like he's had a fire lit under his ass for the past month or two... and last week, after getting punked out by Booker, HHH looked ultra-motivated in squashing Maven.  These two might even be ready to do more than just talk about their issue; hell, if Evolution was still around, this would have been a perfect week to do Booker/Maven/Snow vs. HHH/Batista/Orton... but alas, we're going to have to find new partners for HHH if we want to get him and Booker in the same ring in a tag setting.
    A third marquee RAW feud heading into WM19 will probably stay in the realm of the mostly verbal confrontation:  Shawn Michaels won't be lacing up the boots for an actual match prior to facing Chris Jericho at the PPV.  Luckily, Jericho is one of the most consistently gifted talkers on the roster right now, and Michaels, if focused, is more than capable of keeping up.
    To mask the fact that Michaels isn't as physically capable on a week-in, week-out basis, Jericho has found himself woven into secondary storylines with Jeff Hardy, Test, and Stacy Keibler.  That one should rear its head again this week, as Test returns from (a) selling a con-chair-to and (b) participating in the Girls Gone Wild PPV.  Part (a) should mean he'll be back, targeting Jericho.  Part (b) should play into the continued friction between Test and Stacy.  Here, it's Part (a) that interests me, since it can provide the context for some kind of sneak attack by Jericho's partner, Christian, which in turn should set up a run-in from Michaels.
    Other stuff to look for tonight:  Bubba Dudley should succeed where both Spike and D-Von have failed; tonight should be the night where Chief Morley makes some mildly-retarded stipulation match (How hard is it to keep somebody suspended, really?), and Bubba gets the win to re-instate the Dudleys just in time to face Regal/Storm at the WM19 PPV...  a fifth RAW match for the Mania PPV will almost certainly be Victoria defending the women's title against both Jazz and Trish Stratus; Victoria crashed a #1 contender's match last week, likely providing ample justification for a three-way dance...  Rob Van Dam and Kane will apparently have nothing to do for WM19, which is too bad, although they should still contribute tangentially to tonight's RAW... not so lucky is Scott Steiner, who is not only idle for WM19, but who had his least sucky night of work of 2003 last week on RAW.  In a 10 second cameo; keep up the good work, Freakzilla! 
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for a complete recap, and also Matt's RAW Satire.
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.0, which down a third-of-a-point from the week before.  Although SD! did have a promised Angle vs. Lesnar "WrestleMania Comes Early" main event hyped throughout the week, the show was pre-empted in favor of conference tournaments in many key markets.
    Viewers in those markets had to catch the show either later at night on Thursday or had to wait for weekend broadcasts, and were not counted towards SD!'s final rating.
    It won't get any easier for SD! these next two weeks heading into WM, as CBS will be broadcasting NCAA tourney games, which will almost certainly erode SD!'s primarily young male audience.
  • While on the topic of the NCAA tourney games: with a war in Iraq looking like a near certainty, CBS has already announced that it will pass on NCAA hoops in favor of news coverage in the event of war.
    One scenario being discussed has other Viacom-owned outlets such as MTV, TNN, and UPN absorbing CBS's coverage of the basketball tournament.  A second, less likely scenario, would involve Viacom negotiating with ESPN to hand broadcast rights over to them.
    Obviously, in the case of the first scenario, WWE programming could stand to be affected.  With wall-to-wall basketball scheduled for this Thursday through Sunday, and a similar schedule for the following weekend, SmackDown!, Velocity/Confidential, and/or Heat could all feel the trickle down effects of CBS' news coverage of any Iraq developments.
    Then again, if we get in there and take care of business the way I know we can take care of business, CBS could be back to normal programming within like 48 hours...
  • And while we're talking about the shuffling of shows between Viacom-owned networks, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that there is talk that Sunday Night Heat will move from MTV over to TNN.  This could happen as soon as next month.
    Heat's flagging ratings and wrestling's overall decline in terms of being a cool, mainstream fad will probably spell the end of WWE's run on MTV...
  • Howard Stern's "battle of the bands" with Chris Jericho should take place at some point in the next couple of weeks...  it sounds like Sterns will be having a few WWE stars on to help ramp up to WrestleMania 19.  
    In addition to doing this thing with Jericho's band, Fozzy,  Stern will also have Torrie Wilson on the show to promote her Playboy magazine lay-out, and has openly stumped to have Goldust visit the program as well  (apparently, Stern has taken a shine to the new twitch-tastic Goldust).
  • I was wrong:  OO DOES have a Girls Gone Wild PPV recap for you... so for all the tantalizing TV-MA details, I give you Scott Keith's GGW PPV Rant.
  • SmackDown! had a few surprises on its Florida house shows this weekend...  first was Sgt. Slaughter being called into active duty.  He teamed with Brian Kendrick and Sean O'Haire against the Full Blooded Italians; Slaughter put Nunzio in the Cobra Clutch to get the submission wins both nights.
    In Miami, the Rock made a special appearance, and headlined the show by facing Brock Lesnar.  Rock actually got the win in his hometown, defeating the #1 Contender to the WWE Title with a Rock Bottom.
    In Tampa, the unexpected guest appearance slot was filled by Edge, who got a huge pop for simply coming out and sitting at ringside (in a huge neckbrace) to watch his pal Rhyno beat Kanyon.
    Lesnar's match in Tampa was also notable... even if he's not quite The Rock, John Cena is more than likely Brock's first challenger after WM19, and he faced Lesnar one-on-one in one of the show's highlights.  Great heat, and really good action, by multiple accounts.
    Didn't get as much word from RAW brand shows this weekend, but one reader did say that the Booker T vs. Triple H main event in Missouri was really good, which bodes well for their WM19 match.
  • OK, I think that's about it for me...  I alluded to it above, and it's a very real problem: there are a couple of other things occupying my mind today.  I've got a friend coming in from Chicago who's gonna be here within the hour to do some St. Patty's Day drinking... and if that wasn't distraction enough, he's a fellow Dayton alum who will be all too happy to discuss the Flyers' road to the Final Four while we're out celebrating the holiday!
    I just gotta remember to set the VCR for RAW...
    You'll just have to indulge me these next few days.  Or hopefully, weeks.  This is uncharted water for Flyer Fans (well, for those who weren't alive and kicking when Dayton was kicking ass in the 60s, anyway). We've had a good team for about five years, now.  But this year, the chips fell right.  I never would have anticipated going into the tournament FAVORED TO WIN our first game.  The four previous NCAA trips that I remember, UD was never seeded higher than #9.
    I know this time of year is basically just a prelude to disappointment.  There is only one team in the entire nation that will not lose its last game; and though I will cheer mightily, I don't really expect to be that team.  So until the inevitable crushing defeat, indulge me, won't you?  
    I'd like to look forward to a Sweet Sixteen showdown with Kentucky.  You know, in the past five years, we, the Dayton Flyers, are undefeated against Kentucky, including a win on a neutral court (just like it would be in Minneapolis).  Look it up, the numbers do not lie.  Unfortunately, UK is also one of two teams in the tourney who -- if we played them 10 times in 10 days -- would probably beat us 10 times.
    So my Ultimate Fantasy takes another direction:  UD wins two... and so does BYU.  And due to the vagaries of observing the Sabbath in Utah, this would result in Dayton being shifted over to the South region, against the more-beatable Texas Longhorns (with BYU offered up as a sacrifice to UK).  A Flyer win over Texas, and guess what could happen in the Elite Eight?  Dayton Flyers vs. Xavier Musketeers, Winner Take All.  Those Muskie punks tapped out to Temple in the A-10 tournament before WE could give them their medicine.  I'd love a shot at them in the big dance.  It'd be sweet, sweet vengeance for five defeats in a row.  I think I would experience approximately 72 simultaneous orgasms if we advanced to the Final Four over hated Xavier!
    But hell, I feel terrible even thinking that far ahead.  Tulsa is first on the hit list, and frankly, I've discovered that they are no patsy, #13 seed or no.  Their season as a whole looks unimpressive on paper; their last 2 months looks a whole lot different.  That said, I still think it's awfully cute that the Tulsa fans I've read on various message boards are all but chalking Thursday night up as a victory for the Golden Hurricane.  Look, I know you've been to the dance before, Tulsa, and I agree 100% that you're way undervalued at #13... but you're deluding yourself if you don't realize that Dayton is still a #4 seed, and well deserving of it (though we probably moved up a slot thanks only to the mess that jackass Harrick made at Georgia).  The national press seems to have lost sight of that as well, as Tulsa seems to be the most popular upset pick in the midwest region.  "Tulsa has won 11 out of 13," the experts proclaim.  "Uh, well, Dayton has won 20 out of 23, with our only losses coming to Duke and Xavier," I'd retort.  I like being under the radar a lot... but this borders on disrespect.  And it annoys me.  
    Tulsa's a good team.  The scariest, by far, of all the #13 seeds.  But we should be able to kill 'em inside from what I've read, and as long as we stay physical and rebound strong, I think we'll do what a #4 seed should do to a #13.  We play Tulsa 10 times, yeah, they beat us 2 or 3, I think...  but part of being a Flyer Fanatic is believing that your boys will come ready to play and not let one of those 2 or 3 happen.  But another part of being a Flyer Fanatic (especially one who was in school at UD when we sucked in the mid-90s) is a certain omni-present resignation to losing when you really should win.  Behind my Flyer Revelry, there lurks the Flyer Pain, just waiting to be loosed...
    Which will it be?  Thursday night, 10pm eastern.... all will be answered.
    And I'll try to talk wrestling and have some spoilers again on Wednesday...


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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