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SD!'s Strong Outing, RAW's Response,
Another Wrestling Lawsuit, and More...
July 28, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


As I write this, the hot rumor on the radio is that the Reds will be calling a press conference later this afternoon to fire Bob Boone and Jim Bowden.  I won't pretend this means anything about how the Reds finish up this year...  but it's nice to think forward some and realize, "Hey, SOMEbody in that organization wants games in some indeterminate future month of September to mean something!".

Bowden's fairly consistently done less with, well, less (if we're completely honest about the Reds spending habits); he was just really good at playing up his smart moves/cheap reclamation projects that we could be distracted from the fact that, for every one of those, there were two bone-headed pick-ups.  And Boone wasn't even the organization's top choice for manager 3 years ago; he only got the job because he was willing to work cheap when there was a miscommunication in negotiations with Ron Oester.  Why they stuck with his -- shall we be diplomatic and call it "unorthodox"? -- style for all this time is beyond me.

Now if only it were possible to get out from under a half-dozen or so contracts and axe any pitcher on our staff making more than the league minimum, we could REALLY get to work rebuilding where the trouble is at....  but don't get me started.  You're here for my follow up gush about Vengeance and other wrestling stuff:

  • I joked that I didn't want to "do anything rash" in my immediate post-show PPV Recap last night... but even a night's sleep has not changed my perspective on Vengeance.  I think it's just about the strongest pay-per-view effort WWE has given us this year.  And they did it with half their roster tied behind their back.
    When Bad Blood came up short as the RAW brand's first solo PPV, you'd have been within your rights to kind of wonder if they'd finally gone one step too far in the "Brand Extension" concept.  Can a show seem like it's worth 35 bucks when you're only seeing about half of your favorite stars?  After last night, we've been shown another path, though, and the answer is "Yep, you can do top shelf brand-specific PPVs."
    Vengeance was not bogged down by awful skits (such as vomiting Bischoff, as at Bad Blood), and was unafraid to have five matches all in that 15-plus minute window.  SD!'s strength is in-ring depth, so I was really happy to see them let that aspect shine through, rather than rank ordering the matches and determining that "If it's got Billy Kidman in it, it can't go any longer than 8 minutes."  
    I got a ton of feedback after my recap, and none of it really disputed the fundamental goodness of Vengeance... it was more to take issue with my choice for favorite match.  Strong cases were made for Benoit/Eddie and for the main event among those disputing my choice (the tag title match).  That alone is about as good an illustration of Vengeance's strength as I can come up with: if you've got fans arguing spiritedly about which of three very good matches was the night's best, you're doing something right.
    If readers thought I went overboard with my praise, it was for my comments about Taker/Cena coming off really great, just about matching Eddie/Benoit in a close race for the third best match of the night.  But, if I may be my usual self-important self, I'll kind of disregard a lot of that criticism because it comes from people who are convinced Taker is evil, and that the simple act of him getting the win over Cena knocked three stars off the match's rating.  Sorry people, it didn't work that way; Taker, I thought, worked hard and made Cena seem credible in the second half of the match, and the final message -- as Cena was standing and walking out of the match while Taker still struggled to get to his feet despite winning -- was pretty clearly along the lines of, "John Cena's for real."
    There were some who also wrote in to say that Cena/Taker was OK, but it would be better when they did a rematch down the line for Taker to "finally pass the torch."  Unfortunately, I don't quite see it that way, either.  The vibe I get is that Taker will admit Cena took him to the limit, and Cena might admit he got beat by the better man: mutual respect, and the chance to turn Cena face (something that's probably inevitable).  Do I think THAT is the best move?  Eh, I'm torn...  the biggest negative I see to Cena becoming a babyface as soon as this Thursday is that I see his logical first feud coming against A-Train.  Think about it: last week, he's in the ring getting himself a piece of Steph's sweet ass.  This coming week, Steph's ass might be in need of saving once they explain just where A-Train and his attack last night were coming from.  On one hand, Albert's an easy target for Cena to bust some crowd-pleasing rhymes.  On the other.... he's still Albert.
    Speaking of potential turns: with Angle winning the WWE Title, I think we've seen the first surprise swerve on a road that ends up with Angle or Lesnar going full-out heel.  Lesnar could play the "sore loser" card and go heel.  Angle could play the "I only had to defend this title against you one last time, and that was at WM, and oh by the way, you remember Paul Heyman?  Good, because he's my agent again" card.  Or they could slow play the feud, and have them do a tenuous face/face showdown at SummerSlam before adding in the heel turn and the stipulation matches over the course of the fall.  Should be good stuff, no matter what, though.  I mean, it always is with Angle, right?
    What else coming out of the PPV?  Well, Eddie as US Champ and Rhyno's heel turn leave the brand new secondary title with plenty of prospects.  The case could be made that Benoit "needed" the title more than the already-very-over Eddie, but upon further review, I disagree.  There could be some merit to Benoit -- the long-suffering, under-appreciated fan favorite -- chasing that title, eventually having to overcome not just Eddie, but also Rhyno to win it.  It's almost part of Benoit's shtick to have to work that little bit extra harder to get something that fans respect so much.  They want to see him get the gold and the accolades, and they want it to mean something.  Eddie using his strengths on the mic to make the US Title important and Rhyno delaying Benoit's quest for that title all add up to enhancing the value of the US Title.  I reiterate that getting Tajiri into this mix can only enhance things further.
    Just an all-around awesome show last night.  They delivered the goods in the ring, and they even left me here a day later speculating about where the SD! brand goes from here, so storyline-wise, nothing was lacking.  Now, all we gotta do is get through the sure-to-suck Torrie/Noble skit this week, and it should be smooth sailing to SummerSlam.
    Full results of Vengeance are still available right here.
  • Got a number of live reports from fans in Denver who attended Vengeances live.  After each reader took the apparently obligatory potshot at me for calling Denver "white bread" on Friday when I live in Dayton, OH, (which you should know is probably a notch or two closer to "red neck" than "white bread" if you must know), I collected these observations...
    First, I was not hearing things: there were about 5-10% of fans who booed when they did the "standing ovation" spot for Zach Gowen.  I wasn't positive because, as is our custom, we usually don't have the TV up very loud on the grounds that we like to talk over it, but I thought I had heard that.  I was shocked: I mean, I am as cynical a jerk as you know, and I DID kind of think they went overboard with the sappiness in the pre-match Gowen vignette, but there was no way I could see booing a one-legged kid who'd just busted his ass for 15 minutes.  That takes a black, black heart.  [WWE needs to monitor this situation, and should take my heed: do not go to melodramatic lengths to explain to us why we should love and worship Zach Gowen.  The dude's got one freaking leg: his story tells itself.  When you bludgeon us over the head with it, it loses some effect.  Apparently, it made some in Denver feel decidedly less than sympathetic towards him.]
    Even with a vocal minority of anti-Gowen-ites, everyone who wrote in agreed that Vince McMahon was the hands-down strongest heel of the night.  He was head-and-shoulders above the next two villains, Cena and Big Show, in terms of crowd reaction.
    On the flip side, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle were pretty much neck and neck in terms of top babyface.  Rey Mysterio and Undertaker a notch below.  In the APA Brawl, special mentions go to the Easter Bunny and Doink the Clown for getting big heat (I thought the Easter Bunny easily stole that match, if you care).
    After the cameras stopped rolling, the live crowd was treated to a bit of showboating from Brock Lesnar.  After Angle and Show cleared out, Lesnar recovered, his music played, and he sort of paced around the ring looking upset that he lost.
    By all accounts, Vengeance was not quite sold out, as there were some empty seats scattered throughout the building.  Still a very healthy, and overall very hot, crowd, though.
    Thanks to those from Denver who wrote in with live reports....
  • So, it's a rare Monday when we invest a ton of time talking about SmackDown!, but that does not mean we can get away from taking a look at RAW... which just so happens to be coming our way live tonight.
    The big story continues to be Kane, and not for anything he's really done inside the ring.  In the past two weeks, he's set Jim Ross on fire and Tombstoned Linda McMahon.  Clearly, this is a man who needs to be reined in.  
    And that's where it gets (kind of) interesting.  One option would be to have Rob Van Dam -- who stands as the closest thing to an actual top level in-ring feud that's pending for Kane -- step up to oppose Kane again after their match last week went to a no decision.  But while RVD can bring it inside the ring, he has very little in the way of the authority to demand any particular type of retribution.
    Steve Austin has some authority, and has publicly stated his desire to kick Kane's ass.  But that might not be an option, as Austin's decision to attack Kane or remain as a hands-off GM is also coming tonight in RAW's second biggest on-going storyline.
    And I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention Shane McMahon here.  Many rumors have him showing up as Linda's surrogate tonight, to preside of the Austin/Bischoff situation, and then, I guess it follows logically that he could get involved with Kane.  Again, I have no idea how much veracity there is to these rumors; I can see Shane showing up to cover for Linda, but Shane vs. Kane is a bit further than I'm willing to posit at this point.  
    More on that secondary storyline with Austin: last week, he was put to the test, as Linda McMahon told him he had to choose between remaining as co-GM of RAW and not putting his hands on the wrestlers, or attacking Kane and relinquishing full power of the show back to Eric Bischoff.  Austin was given the week off to decide what he wanted to do, and his decision will come tonight.  Clearly, unless Austin were to be cleared to wrestle a regular schedule, there's no way he gives up the GM role, where he can stir shit up with a minimal amount of risk of injury to his neck, so... well, you do the math.
    Finally, third on the depth chart is something that resembles an old fashioned wrestling feud.  Triple H vs. Goldberg for HHH's world title was set up last week in a simple-but-effective fashion.  Footage from a press conference held last week should get some play tonight, as it made HHH/Goldberg the first official match for SummerSlam.  Then, live in Colorado Springs, I'm sure we'll see HHH and Goldberg exchange something more than press conference pleasantries.  [BTW, I find it hilarious that I actually had an argument last night about why SD! shouldn't do Angle/Lesnar so fast because it'll get buried at SummerSlam behind the "obvious focal point," HHH/Goldberg.  But HHH/Goldberg isn't even the focal point of RAW... it's third on the list of important things!]
    Other stuff: I'd be surprised if we DON'T head towards a sort of 4-way IC Title situation with champ Booker T fending off challenges from Christian, Test, and Scott Steiner...  I wish there was something that obvious pending in the tag division, but I'm just about ready to write off that entire debacle until they do the simple thing and get Michaels/Nash in there as a tag team to revive interest...  then, you can take your time on Randy Orton's "legend killer" feud with Michaels by adding in the tag titles (Orton/Flair vs. Michaels/Nash beats the hell out of La Resistance vs. Anybody Else)....  one possible ray of hope for the tag division: if Hurricane and Goldust's combined efforts are enough to turn Rosey into the S.H.I.T., we just might have something.  I also know full well this could suck, but I'm hoping....  Chris Jericho is too good to not have some reason for me to mention him here; here's to him getting something fun to do other than acting as the sass-talking mic stand during "The Highlight Reel," tonight (could he be used to set up next week's supposed guest spot by The Rock?  maybe...)...
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for full me-talking-at-length-about-RAW!
  • Proving that sort of frivolous lawsuits are just as capable of being initiated BY those within the wrestling business as AGAINST those within it, former WCW and WWF wrestler Darryl Peterson last week sued Rockstar Games (and/or affiliated companies, I'm not exactly clear).
    You see, Peterson's ring persona in WCW (and during the majority of his other indie/international bookings) was "Maxx Payne."  And Rockstar (also the makers of the "Grand Theft Auto" series) has gotten rich off a new video game with a titular character named "Max Payne."  So clearly -- even though the character in the game is not a wrestler, bears no physical resemblance to Peterson, and spells his name with one fewer "X" (which if anything, makes him only half as Xtreme!) -- Peterson's somehow getting ripped off in this deal.
    Look by admitting this, I probably HELP Peterson's case, which is counter to my "common sense first" agenda, but as a wrestling fan, when I saw the first commercials for the videogame "Max Payne," one of my first thoughts was "Hey, whatever happened to that wrestler who used that name?".  But it's also worth noting that (a) I'm one of probably 8% of people who'd make that connection and (b) the mere association of the two Max(x) Paynes did nothing to increase the likelihood of buying the game.  In other words, Rockstar made no extra money because of the association.
    I actually really liked Peterson, and though he was under-rated and a victim of terrible timing in the early- to mid-90s.  He had some legit amateur credentials, and for a bigger man, could work a good match.  As witnessed by his WCW partnership with Cactus Jack, he could brawl his ass off, too.  Unfortunately, at the time WWF came sniffing around, looking to take advantage of his potential, they were in the midst of one of their most pathetic creative phases of all times... the era that brought us wrestling plumbers and "The Goon," turned Peterson into the tie-dye-wearing "Man Mountain Rock," complete with cheesy WWF-logo guitar.  So of course no one could take him seriously.  A year or two later, and he's a guy who the WWF could probably have turned into a star with a more "Attitude" era approach.
    But none of that takes away from the fact that I think this lawsuit is craptacular, and that whatever out-of-court settlement Rockstar ends up offering to make it go away should make Peterson feel very, very lucky to be an American who knows how to get in touch with those ever elusive lawyers.
  • So did anyone see that OnlineOnslaught.com was a featured link on Comcast's website this weekend?  It was OO and three links to WWE.com as hype for Vengeance.  It would have been cooler if they hadn't arbitrarily picked to deep-link to the recaps page where I still promise that you can get weekly results from Excess, but hey, I'll take what I can get, right?
    Also, I'd like to pretend it's my level and incisive analysis that landed that spot for me instead of for your Torchs or 1Wrestlings... but instead, I have a feeling it has more to do with my very public bashings of Comcast competitor and The Rick Service Provider Time Warner Cable.  You know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and so forth....
  • I know I usually leave the indie hype for Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus and his video collection...  and usually only hype the genuinely odd and unique things like Kaiju my own self.  Well, I'm not sure where to classify this one.
    On one hand, it's pretty much just a typical Florida indie show.  But on the other, it's a newer company trying to make a name for itself with a wholly unique promotional approach:  FREE BEER.  

    Full Impact Wrestling is having a show in St. Petersburg this Saturday.  OO Reader (and sometimes Florida Indie Corespondent) Hugh Zeitlin turned me on to this show.  From the flyer, it appears the main event if "FREE BEER."  Also: Mike Awesome vs. Justin Credible will happen.  [Gangrel is on the bill with Luna; he's taking on TNA's David Young...  and there's other stuff, too.]  But I have to admit it's the FREE BEER that caught my eye.
    I'm sure it's a deal where your $10 ticket ($12 at the door) gets you 2 small draft beers or something like that.  Otherwise the promoters could go broke and they'd have a logistical nightmare if people were spending all night standing in slow-moving lines trying to fill up on all-you-can-drink free beers.  But it's still kind of an interesting marketing idea to get people to come out to the building... that's the biggest part of the battle with indie shows: get people to come out, and they'll usually have a good time.  Free beer's as convincing an enticement as I can think of.
    Check out Full Impact Pro's website for more details.
  • I'm done for today.  Anyone attending the back-to-back WWE tapings in Colorado Springs, please feel free to send in recaps of the events so we can get timely and detailed Spoilers up here on OO on Wednesday (along with other mid-week news).
    See the rest of you then.....   


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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