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SD! Thoughts, Ratings, The F is Back,
and Other Weekend News
April 18, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, it looks like there's just enough to talk about to make writing a fresh column worthwhile today.  Maybe it's all part of my never-takes-two-Fridays-in-a-row-off program?  Nah, it's just that trying to dig up another classic column of any worth whatsoever would be ALMOST as much trouble as writing a new one.

Here comes da pain:

  • SmackDown! was a good ride last night, and again, it was a deal where I actually thought the non-wrestling stuff was as good as, or better than, the in-ring content.
    Not that the wrestling wasn't good... it was solid as ever.  Just nothing that stood out a whole lot.  For me, the memorable moments included Brock Lesnar showing iotas of charisma and speaking skills in an interview with Michael Cole and the second really fun Piper's Pit in a row.  Then again, I have a feeling that even I could make the threat of punking out Cole into a ratings-getting extravaganza!
    The opening tag match was kind of depressing; a week after making Mysterio/Tajiri as a team (with a win over Team Angle), they were basically props in a match against Show/A-Train.  The only upside: if I know my rasslin' Poetic Justice, this builds to Rey beating Show on the PPV, albeit probably in cheap fashion, which sends all kinds of the right messages.
    And also on the downside: this Torrie/Sable stuff is just... I don't know... maybe "stupid" is the right word.  My brain (or perhaps another anatomical region) knows this should be tantalizing, but you just can't do this sort of angle with Torrie so quickly after the retarded Torrie/Dawn storyline and expect me to forgive and forget.  I'm all for the hot girl-on-girl action in theory; but in practice, Torrie's second female romantic interest in the past six months just makes me flash back to her disastrous first.  And like the first, I ask the (rhestorical) question, "Why start a storyline upon which you know you can't pay off?"..
    But beyond those two complaints, SD! was strong in just about every other segment...  the Brock/Cena/Benoit thing came off really well, and actually, Benoit, as well as Lesnar, showed a spark of personality.  The later Benoit/Cena match was also good; and while some might bemoan the fact that Benoit jobbed cleanly, I appreciated the finish.  It sets the right tone for Cena's first PPV title match, I think, and whatever damage was done to Benoit is not irreparable.
    The Piper's Pit segment came off great.  The time spent establishing Sean O'Haire as Piper's protege basically only did what it had to... but I was as surprised as anyone to see Jimmy Snuka show up, and from there on out, it was gold.  Look, I'm not keen on the idea of Piper actually wrestling next week or anything, but I don't actually think it'll come to that.  And neither do you.  We'll get 90 seconds (if that) of Piper going through the motions before the run-ins begin.  Next week will be all about storytelling leading into the O'Haire/Rikishi PPV match (where I'm sure Piper and Snuka will both be corner men).
    Even Nathan Jones looked alright last night.  Then again, they cut his "match" even shorter than last week, and afterwards, actually had him take an ass-whupping, so maybe that's why I liked it...  in any case, he did his job without looking bad (as many have reported he has in non-televised appearances) or looking boring (like last week).
    For full results from last night's show, check out Big Danny T's recap.
  • The final rating for SD! came in as a 3.3, which is up nominally from last week.  SD! does not seem to be experiencing the same wild fluctuations as RAW (which in February and March rose by almost a 30% and was being watched by more people than SD!, but which is now back down to pre-Austin levels and is being out-paced by SD on a weekly basis), which is sort of an odd phenomenon.
  • The F is back.  Kind of.
    On Wednesday, a British court over-turned a previous ruling that forced WWE and THQ to pull old videogames -- ones that had the old WWF scratch logo embedded -- off shelves.  The World Wildlife Fund obtained the original ruling just prior to the Christmas shopping season, and without any WWE representation present (as the Fund targetted only THQ in that case).
    WWE intervened in the appeal process, and won the right to once again distribute the old games.  As part of the ruling, the court expressly stated that the Fund had not shown that WWE's selling of the games caused no demonstrable damage to the Fund, and also (listen closely now) that the Fund could not claim exclusive rights to the initials "WWF."
    Now, I've only seen the press releases, and not the actual ruling made by the courts, but that last bit sounds promising...  we may not ever see the "Wheeeee!" go back to operating as the "Whiff", but I would think this ruling opens the doors for today's WWE to use/release old footage that did include the WWF name/logos.
    That would be nice.  The end of the blurring, the end of the revisionist history... yeah, I'd take that as a compromise at this point.  To me, if it happened before May 2002, it happened in the WWF, and that's always how I reference it when I talk or write about it.  It'd be nice for today's WWE to have the same freedom.
    Press releases also included mentions of an attempt by the Fund to "extort" $90 million from WWE last year, and later attempts to have WWE declared in contempt of court for revealing the Fund's demands.  The attack on THQ was purportedly in response to WWE's refusal to pay the $90 million.
    The Fund is also on the hook for all of WWE's court costs related to this appeal, upwards of $100,000, which, as a quote from Linda McMahon notes, will come out of monies collected by the Fund from unwitting donors who thought they were helping the poor pandas.
    And yes, I am intentionally milking this particular bullet point for a few extra paragraphs with unnecessary backstory.  Because if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: any excuse to mock the pretentious, obnoxious, no-sense-of-perspective-having pricks at the World Wildlife Fund is a good one.
  • Mr. America?  Don't ask me...
    It could be a way to package some incoming piece of developmental talent, I guess, but I don't know of any one, off hand, who really fits the bill.
    There is also a low-level buzz that this could be nothing more than Hulk Hogan's own "Yellow Dog" gimmick... you know, the banished star returns under a new name, but with such a poor disguise that everybody knows who it is.  On one hand, that makes sense, since the Mr. America gimmick seems really silly and one-dimensional (thus, you wouldn't want some new guy really trying to use it to get over); but on the other, I thought Hogan would be gone till more like June or July as they try to keep him rested and healthy.
    We'll see...
  • Several readers wrote in to say that Trish Stratus was shown once or twice during a recent Toronto Maple Leafs/Philadelphia Flyers play-off game.  The cameras found her, and the announcers played up her presence, and her Leafs fandom.
    This is precisely one of the silly non-news items that I usually don't mention.  But in this case, I bring it up because (a) I'm running short on real news, and (b) I want to warn Ms. Stratus that this is one of the few times situations in which cheering against a team called the Flyers is completely acceptable.  But Trish, keep an eye on that anti-Flyer behavior, or I may be forced to knock you down from your lofty position on The Rick's Rasslin' Babes What Are Hot List...  all the way down to the bottom, just below Mae Young.
    And none of us want that.  
  • A few folks mailed in to say that TNN's re-branding to the male-focused "Spike TV" is actually an attempt to subvert a planned new network lauch...  Maxim magazine is trying to put together the Maxim Entertainment Network (MEN, get it?), and Spike TV will beat it to the airwaves.  This means a headstart not just on building a brand and an audience, but also a headstart on lining up programming.
    You might remember that the then-WWF and Playboy had talks about starting a male-focused cable network several years ago.  The idea was dismissed, for reasons that I can't be bothered to recall.  Kind of curious that now, in 2003, there are at least 2 companies who think the idea is worth pursuing.
    You know, I never quite got the popularity of Maxim...  how did they manage to turn T&A where the T and A must be covered along with articles that only the most brain-dead of Frat-Guy-Types could read without laughing out loud into a marketable phenomenon?  I can only imagine what their TV network would be like...  maybe I should cheer for Spike TV to tank so that I never have to?
  • Alright, that's about all I can do today... I need to wrap it up so I can can meditate on something that I haven't yet made my peace with: somehow, tonight, my Red start an away series at the Montreal Expos.  In Puerto Rico.  Wacky.
    See you Monday.


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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