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Weekend Update...
Somebody, Go Fetch Me Tina Fey!
May 30, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know how Wednesday I was all, "Alright, let's cut the crap cuz we've got a lot of stuff to talk about today"?  Well, I probably should have wasted a bit more time with small talk and saved back some good stuff for today. Because it's slim pickin's this weekend.

Maybe I should fill space here by regaling you with the tale of my energy-sapping past week of retarded band politics, in which Flight Risk (the rock sensation that's sweeping the nation) went from adding a second guitarist, to firing the second guitarist, to breaking up entirely, to re-forming (complete with second guitarist) following our front man's brief bout with actual sanity.  Let's hope it holds together.  You wouldn't think that a band that has played all of 15 shows since starting up six months ago would be capable of such idiotic melodrama, would you?  I tells ya, it's enough to drive a man to drink.  Or in my case, drink more...

Maybe I should kill time today by lamenting about the Reds' starting pitching.  Or maybe I should tread water by putting you all on notice of The Rick's June travel plans (which will affect my column output).  Possibly, I could distract you from a lack of content by reciting my rather-lengthy grocery list from this past Wednesday's trip to Kroger.

Or maybe I should just get on with it already, and if I happen to come up shorter than usual, well hell, that just means you can start the weekend's boozing and whoring a few minutes earlier than you thought.  HEY!  That ain't a bad idea:

  • SmackDown! last night did something that it hadn't come even close to doing in the previous month:  it made the Mr. America/Vince McMahon angle extraordinarily entertaining.
    Playing it as serious drama just did not work for me.  And while I know some fans (at least, the ones on the OO Forums) found that unintentionally hilarious, I'm not one of those guys who grew up on blatantly-horrible movies on USA Up All Night on the grounds that they were "so bad they're funny."  No, I grew up on USA Up All Night on the grounds that that was as close as I could get to seeing tits in a household that only had basic cable.
    So the move to add some levity to the proceedings last night was very welcome.  It's like they realized, "This is so cheesy, we know you can't possibly be taking it seriously.  So neither will we."  As long as the laughably-transparent Mr. America gimmick is around, I'd prefer it stay that way, too.  We can make it all personal and serious again when they're ready to have Hogan be, you know, Hulk Hogan.
    So, Big Ups (tm, Tazz) to the Lie Detector segment.  The only way it could have been funnier is if they somehow worked Mr. America's train-derailing penis into the skit.
    Also getting a gold star from me:  the tag title match.  Los Tajiros' antics the past few weeks have also been hilarious, and unlike Vince and Hogan, they can back that up by having the best matches each and every week.  The cheating 2 win gimmick actually serves a double purpose, too:  (1) obviously, it's just really funny and entertaining, but (2) it helps explain how the makeshift team of Eddie and Tajiri can retain the tag belts over an experienced duo like Team Angle.  Think about it:  they won the belts in a ladder match (a gimmick that suited them far better than the "amateur style" Haas and Benjamin), and now have retained them via cheating.  Give 'em a couple more weeks like that, and then fans'll buy them as a fully-jelled tag team, and they can win matches clean.
    But all was not necessarily shiny and happy last night.  I was struck by a palpable sense of directionlessness at times.  Erin has a great piece up right now about the probable reason for that.  You should go check that out now.  Then come back here so I can do a few quick counter-points.
    Done?  Good...
    The way I look at it, not having a PPV few two months SHOULD be viewed as a strength, a tool that can be used.  You can build up little mini-feuds -- ones that might not be quite ready for PPV, but still very appealing -- and then blow them off for free on SD! over the course of that first month to boost ratings.  Simmering underneath should be the PPV issues that you'll want to settle down the line, but those should be dealt with subtly.  
    Then as you enter that second month -- the last four weeks till the PPV -- you bring those sell-able issues to the forefront.  The winners of the mini-feuds will be stronger than before, more viable as you start push to the PPV.  At that point, you thin the roster down and focus only on the key players.  Once you hit the PPV and blow things off, you restart the process, cycling in ALL the talent, giving them fresh starts.  Perhaps in another two months THEY will be the ones who won a mini-feud and got a shot on PPV.
    Under this philosophy, you accomplish a couple of things.  You lose the period of directionlessness because even if you don't have a PPV four weeks away, you're still getting guys into feuds that mean a little something.  Plus, the mini-feuds position workers for the key PPV feuds and help you bang some rating, too.
    As an example:  what if, coming out of "Vengeance," Chris Benoit and John Cena had started a feud based on the finish to the six-man tag match at the PPV.  It'd have been as simple as Cena cutting a rap bragging about his team winning, and as simple as Benoit retorting "Yeah, but I had you tapping out" (which he did).  Over the course of the first four weeks, they build that up as a mini-feud.  Then they blow it off on SD! after Stephanie McMahon declares that these two guys are both in position to be #1 Contenders, and therefore, their one-on-one will be to determine who gets the title shot against Lesnar at the first SD-exclusive PPV.  Then whoever wins spends the final four weeks building up the feud against Brock.
    In those first four weeks, Brock and Rey could have teamed up and milked the last few ounces of value out of Big Show.  Maybe a Brock/Rey vs. A-Train/Show tag match, leading up to the "mini-feud" blow-off match between Rey and Show on some Thursday.  Then Brock's off to feud with [Benoit/Cena] and Rey can start his push to the PPV by going after Matt Hardy's CW title.  The pieces fit together really nicely using this philosophy.
    But instead, last night, we had Show pinning Lesnar in the main event.  Whaaaa?  That's not just treading water... that's going BACKWARDS, setting up another rematch in a feud that has been fully played.  Why use Show/Lesnar IV as a "mini-feud" blow-off match around the 4 week mark when you had so many other more interesting options?
    Along those same lines:  Sean O'Haire getting a cheap win over Chris Benoit does NEITHER guy any good.  O'Haire would be better served getting clean, decisive wins (without Piper's help) over a lesser-caliber star than Benoit.  His place in the Piper/Hogan feud is guaranteed to still be there even if he's spending every other Thursday pounding on a Funaki or a Spanky.  And Benoit?  Well, obviously, the smarks are just furious that he's jobbing after flirting with main event status earlier this year... but me, I'm frustrated because I just -- off the top of my head -- outlined a really simple way for Benoit to be involved in a semi-important feud that would result in a good pay-off match above.  And instead, he's dicking around with pointless matches with no standing issues.
    So:  I agree that the change in PPV schedule necessitates some change in the pacing of storytelling for SmackDown!... it's just that I happen to believe that the change could wind up being for the better.  C'mon, SD!, find the groove...
    Alright, enough pontificating.  The criticisms I have from last night are more in the theoretical realm.  As a show that I just sat down and watched, I still got plenty I liked.  Plenty.  Big Danny T. has your full recap right here, too, in case tangential rambling ain't telling you what you need to know about last night.
  • The overnight rating for last night's show was a 4.1, down two-tenths from the previous week's overnight, and only good enough for fifth place among the six major networks.  [An aside: a controversial Mike Tyson interview helped lift FOX to a substantially higher-than-usual rating for the night, which is why UPN dipped to fifth.]
  • There are indications that UK fans will be treated to an all-wrestling network on Sky Digital by the end of 2003.  Details are still being worked out, but tentatively, the groups who have agreed to provide content to the network are:  OVW, Ring of Honor, XPW, New Japan, and a couple of UK-based federations.
    If it all comes together, that could be a tremendous score for the Queen's subjects...
  • The Shawn Michaels DVD that I mentioned on Wednesday looks to be a 2-disc set.  I'd erroneously suggested it might be 3 discs... sorry, but based on the number of matches/extras -- including an AWA match, the first use the Fed has made of that tape library, as far as I know -- I thought 3 sounded reasonable.
    Still, it looks to be a definitive collection of Michaels' best matches.  Should be kick-ass.
  • Remember a while back when I mentioned a sitcom pilot called "The Mullet Brothers"?  Well, I've heard from my brother (the "West Wing" script monkey) that the show got a 9 episode pick-up from UPN; it's a lock for the fall, but under the name "The Mullet Boys" (why?  because there were trademark issues with a real-life "Mullet Brothers Roofing Co.").
    The show's pilot featured some wrestling-crossover (the episode even ends with the Mullet family at WrestleMania) and there was a lot of potential for more of the same.  Supposedly, UPN's idea was that they could use SmackDown! to help promote the new show.  The guys behind the show are former Simpsons' writers Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, and the "stars" of the show are Loni Anderson and the guy who was J. Peterman on "Seinfeld" (as the Mullet parents).  The actual Mullet Boys are relative unknowns.
    My brother saw the pilot, too, and assures me it was pretty funny.  By UPN sitcom standards, anyway.  He usually doesn't like crap, so I guess keep an eye out for this one in the fall...
  • A couple e-mails have come in asking if its true that Nidia and Eric Angle are engaged to be married... well, it says so on Nidia's unofficial fan site, at least, so I have to assume they know what they're talking about there.  Congratulations are in order, I guess...
    The fact that Eric has been cut free from his OVW/developmental deal is more newsworthy, in my estimation.  That's not to say that Eric won't have future value for one-off shots (like the one three months ago doubling for Kurt), but it does say that the Fed has become convinced that Eric would never be a total package, full-time performer.
    First David Flair, now Eric Angle...  hey, for the first time in my wrestling memory, it almost looks like it's WHAT you know and now WHO you know.  
    Next week on SmackDown!:  "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is unmasked as Mr. America and the Nasty Boys debut, as my little theory is blown to smithereens.
  • Confirmation:  Danny Basham is, indeed, the developmental artist formerly known as "The Damaja."  OO Reader "docbooty23" went to high school with the guy in Seymour, IN, and reports his real name is Danny Hollie (ah, makes sense).
  • Alright... UPN sitcoms, Danny Basham's true identity...  I'm scraping bottom.  Time to wrap it up.  It's Friday, and there are better things to be done than overstaying my welcome...  so:
    That's the news, and I am outta here....


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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