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The Monday Grind
July 7, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


So I don't know about you, but where I'm at, the weather didn't exactly co-operate with holiday weekend festivity plans.  Early evening rolls around three days in a row, and along with it, massive thunderstorms.  Now, this did not affect alcohol consumption, mind you, but it did drive us inside and meant that the only fireworks we got to see all weekend were the ones I.... ummmm, the ones that my FRIENDS obtained in a COMPLETELY LEGAL fashion.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  A mild annoyance, to be certain.

So that is how it came to pass that on Friday night, there were like 25 of us huddled inside, taking numbers so that we could shoot some pool, watching MTV2's "Top 100 Videos in the History of all Time and Space" on my friend's brand new JeriTron 5000 during the wait.  Of course, this was a recipe for making just about everybody very pissy.  Since MTV are apparently a bunch of morons.  Can somebody please explain to me how Madonna's "Vogue" is the #2 Greatest Video Ever?  It's not even HER biggest or more important video ever.  I know we only saw the top 15 or so, but no Prince?  No "Money for Nothing"?  And I'm now so old and out of touch that I have to watch VH-1 for a countdown where they have the good sense to put Nirvana ahead of that fruit Michael Jackson?  We were all very confused.

Then Saturday, when the weather finally let us resume outside porch drinking around midnight (this time, we're over at my guitar player's girlfriend's house), it wasn't long before some asshole we didn't know invited himself and his bottle rockets up for a beer.  And then just started randomly shooting bottle rockets towards people.  Let's just say he didn't stay to finish his beer, and leave it at that.  

All of which is my long-winded way of explaining how this was not the greatest Fourth of July weekend ever.  Which is important for you to know, since lord knows there isn't a whole lot of wrestling to talk about today.  

Hopefully next weekend will look up.  I know it's not a holiday, but it IS going to feature the Foo Fighters making their pass through Dayton.  On the downside, I'll have to sit through Pete Yorn as an opening act.  On the upside, maybe Dave and the boys will go out and a few bars that are on my very own Weekly Path of Rage like they did last time (resulting in you poor schmucks in Columbus NOT seeing them play the next night due to "illness"...  HA!).

You haven't clicked away yet?  Alright, a (much briefer than usual) reward for your persistence:

  • RAW tonight will hopefully rebound from last week's scattershot affair.  Though I could not agree more with the idea that Eric Bischoff needs weeks to shine so that he can come off as the genuine equal of Steve Austin, last week didn't really accomplish that goal.
    If anything, having "Bischoff's Masterpiece" feature three forgettable matches in the final 45 minutes had people zoning out and not caring about his first chance to shine as the real boss in several months.  It should, I hope, be a lesson that Bischoff will not be made to look stronger merely by the absence of his primary foil, but that he needs to be made stronger by actively besting that foil.  
    Maybe that can happen tonight, as Austin will be back in the house.  Though he has no particular reason to care about the babyfaces who got screwed by Eric's deus ex machina run-ins last week (changing rules and altering finishes), he is simply a contrary enough character that I'm sure he'll pull something like forcing a Christian/Booker rematch or putting Test in some sort of unpleasant contest.  Just because he knows it'll annoy Bischoff.
    Or, perhaps, will tonight be the counterpoint to last week?  Bischoff could be absent entirely, selling the chokeslam from Kane delivered last Monday.  After last week's often-disjointed storytelling, that might be preferable: instead of clouding the Bischoff/Kane issue, Austin and Bischoff can be kept apart for a few weeks so that their natural hostilities can be pushed to the background.  I see the wisdom in focusing on one thing at a time, and doing it right, instead of throwing a half-dozen ideas out there and having none of them get through clearly to the audience (which was a big problem last week).  Whichever way they go, I am sure, however, that it will involve an assertive Austin tonight.
    Besides keeping the New Kane involved in something fresh an interesting (again, Bischoff could be tangentially involved, but I see RVD as the focus there), it looks like another important project is going to be setting the stage for a HHH/Goldberg feud.  Lance Storm is now positioned to be an interim lamb for Goldberg after escaping last week without taking medicine, but it does now feel like HHH is out from under the whole Kane/RVD thing, which means (assuming Mick Foley doesn't have a massive change of heart) that there's probably not a whole lot more weeks of Goldberg trashing mid-carders before they put things in motion for the SummerSlam title match between Goldberg and HHH. 
    Also:  Christian/Booker is still your most viable feud for the IC Title...  in the tag division, the most pressing issue is Hurricane's Tag Team Partner Search as he tries chasing down La Resistance and the tag belts; last week, this brought him to Spike Dudley, which I thought would be the logical catalyst to bring Bubba and D-Von into a feud with La Resistance, but no; the tag division remains kind of a mess on RAW...  Gail Kim's the new women's champ, effectively resetting the whole division and scrapping any pre-existing storylines; potential feuds are with Jazz (the former champ who was never really eliminated in the battle royal last week) and maybe even with Trish (who was "accidentally" eliminated by Gail), but before they get her into anything really involved, I'm sure they'll feed her an easy win or two; poor Molly....  Test is far from done with Stacy and Scott Steiner; the only question is how involved does Chris Jericho stay in all this, or does he go off to stir shit in another feud using "The Highlight Reel"....  
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back tomorrow for the usual slate of RAW-related goodness here at OO.
  • If you missed it, or simply aren't paying attention to it every week like you should, I was very complimentary towards last week's SD! in generating my ratings for last week's OO Battle of the Brands.  And miracle of miracles: this week, the staff around here agreed with me, and SD! won Brand of the Week honors.
    I mean, I could find some nits to pick, but even that would take some doing.  Like about how Orlando Jordan isn't really doing anything for me yet, and how putting him against A-Train is so NOT a formula for remedying that situation.  Or how I'm not too fired up at the prospect of Billy Gunn advancing in the US Title tourney if its for any other reason than to job to Matt Hardy.  Silly little things like that...
    Things that were all very easily overshadowed by important segments like the fantastic tag title match (and the kind of surprising, and visually effective, heel turn of Eddie Guerrero on Tajiri afterwards)... or the Rey/Nunzio opener...  or the potential for John Cena to get the better of Taker verbally in what's shaping up as a PPV-ready feud (even though I'm sure Taker will get the better of it inside the ring)...  or the Bashams' most promising showing to date (even if in a loss, and admittedly against the very-hard-to-look-terrible-against team of Benoit and Rhyno)...  or the stupendously effective main event in which Zach Gowen won a WWE contract by pinning the big show.  I mean, he showed us just enough to surprise the vast majority of the audience and believably score the pinfall after hitting a moonsault; but they also had Angle and Lesnar involved hitting finishers prior to that so as to protect Show to an extent, and also didn't fully empty Zach's own arsenal, either.  Plus, I think this all builds logically to Zach vs. Mr. McMahon, which isn't gonna be a work of art, but which at least feels a bit fresher to me than another 2 months of Vince jawing with Mr. America.
    As down as I was after RAW last week, I sure ended up feeling pretty enthusiastic after checking out SD!.  Easily their best outing in a month or so.
  • The SD! brand is heading over to Asia next week for shows in Thailand and Japan.  For us here in the States, this means we'll have a unique opportunity to know what happens on SD! for the week of July 14 before we know what happens on RAW.
    SD! is being taped this Sunday, the 13th, at a matinee show about an hour and a half up the road from me in Columbus, OH.  The crew then ships out for three shows over the course of four days, before getting back in time for a TV taping the following week in California.
    Cards/line-ups for the shows have not been announced, of course, though it'd seems logical for them to take advantage of Tajiri and Ultimo Dragon's popularity in the region, as well as booking logical top matches involving the likes of Lesnar and Big Show.
  • RAW follows SD! with a tour of the opposite hemisphere two weeks later, when they do a trio of shows in Australia.  RAW's taping schedule will not be affected by that trip.
  • So yesterday I'm paging through all the stuff that's collected on my DVR, and decide to check out this weekend's "Confidential."  Much to my combined surprise and bemusement, it's a show dedicated to the history and significance of the RAW "World Title" (it seemed like it was a repeat, actually).
    I swear I am not in collusion with Titan Tower: the fact that that show was aired on the same weekend I left up a big opinion column on the actual value of wrestling titles (specifically one in which I railed the "World Title" as a 10 month old creation with no rightful claim to the legacy of the NWA/WCW Title) is a happy coincidence, a way to make myself feel like I'm more relevant than I really am.
    For whatever it's worth, I did get the predictable feedback from people who just bristle at the fact that I used the word "prop" to describe title belts.  I knew no matter how hard or carefully I tried to argue NOT that belts are meaningless, but rather that as props, they have ALTERNATIVE value, often at significant levels, the fact that I had simply used that word would mean people would latch on to my language and not to my (attempted) logic.
    Ah, well...  I could have softened my language, I guess, but I chose not to.  Better that you get the full brunt of my cynicism rather than some watered down version of it.  And to be honest, this is so far from a closed issue with me that I enjoyed the feedback and debate even more than I usually do.  I was wrestling with the value of title belts five years ago on nWWWo.com, that opinion is still evolving in my mind today, and if the stars align, I might still be spouting off about it five years from now.  Thanks to everyone who took the time, even if you disagreed with me, to fire me an e-mail with your thoughts on the matter; it just might make my future discussions on this topic that much more robust and interesting.
  • Thanks (I think?) to everyone in the past 2 weeks who has passed along links to the "wedding registry" for Stephanie McMahon and Paul "HHH" Levesque.  To be honest, I hadn't mentioned it till now because, well, it seems REALLY silly and pointless.
    And also, it's only natural to be suspicious of whether this thing is legit or if some (ingenious) jerk-ass simply came up with a cheap way prey on wrestling fans while simultaneously upgrading his cookware.
    But since this is a really slow Monday and since I'd like to stop getting two or three e-mails a day from people cluing me in, here's the link to HHH and Steph's Williams-Sonoma Wedding Registry.
    And if you actually buy something, please let me know.  Because then I'd LOVE to direct you to Chris Benoit's Amazon.com Wish List.  I hear he has a birthday, or an anniversary, or some crap like that coming up!  I'd just ask that you pay no attention to the fact that the shipping address is in Dayton, OH.  That's just where Benoit keeps his PO Box for security reasons.
  • And since we're in Humorous, Only Tangentially-Related to Wrestling Mode...  when scanning me e-mail today, I got a hearty chuckle from a Reader named Dave G., who pondered what would happen at the Royal Rumble if Zach Gowen were entered into the match.
    Afterall, for years, the mantra has been "Both feet must touch the floor" for someone to be eliminated.  
    In fairness: Dave knew this was a sort of sick and inappropriate question, and I am the one who could not stop chuckling.  So feel free to reduce your opinion of me by a few notches; do not let it affect your faith in the fine upstandingness of all OO readers.
    My friends and I have already had a bit of fun speculating about how Zach could be unbeatable against foes like Chris Jericho or Ric Flair, who would be unable to lock in their patented submission moves on the one-legged wonder.  But then we deviated and speculated that Lance Storm (with the Canadian Maple Leaf/half crab) could be Zach's own personal kryptonite.
    We had not yet, however, let our minds wander ahead six months to the Rumble.  Clearly, Zach would be an odds-on favorite to punch his ticket to WM's main event as long as the "both feet" rule remains.  Perhaps we'll need to send someone in to alter the Gorilla Monsoon Memorial WWE Big Book of Bylaws to read, "A Participant will be considered eliminated from the Royal Rumble when each and every metatarsal appendage possessed by said participant is in simultaneous contact with the floor." 
    That change should hold WWE in good stead, at least until a completely legless wrestler makes his debut using some sort of anti-gravitational floatation system.
  • I'm getting outta here before this gets any more stupid or unseemly.  See you again tomorrow with RAW results, then Wednesday with the spoilers and midweek news.  


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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