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Laboring Today for some
Weekend Newsbites...
August 29, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Ah, Labor Day Weekend...  that means a lot of things to a lot of different people.  Hell, it means a lot of things just to me alone.  Like (1) my neighborhood is again abuzz with the sounds of all the UD kids who lost in the housing lottery and had to try to find houses to rent outside the Ghetto; also, there are the grad students, but they don't make nearly as much of a buzz.  Or (2) it's time for me to make my annual donation to my old high school via their "Fun Fest" (unless it turns out that someone I know is working the blackjack tables or the beer concession).  Or (3) a chance for me to make my cutting and insightful comments about the state of the music industry in the wake of another depressingly rock-free edition of the MTV awards (even if the bit with Britney, Madonna, and to-a-significantly-lesser-extent-that-obnoxious-twit-XTina was a bona fide "Whoa!"/water cooler moment).

Or (4) I got a big rock show to play.  In what has become an annual tradition, my band is playing Saturday night of Labor Day weekend... OK, so it's only the second year in a row, and in this case, it's the last show ever for my band Flight Risk, and thus, the prospects for the tradition continuing NEXT year are foggy, at best.  All I know is that it's four rock bands at Elbo's (downtown Dayton, Fifth and Jefferson) on Saturday night, and we're calling it "Awesome Night '03."  If it's half as fun as Awesome Night '02, I'd consider it a fitting farewell to my rock 'n' roll career.  AWESOME NIGHT!

Do you get the impression that maybe I'm reaching for extra pointless material to ramble about here at the top today?  You do?  Good for you, Einstein.  Cuz it is a holiday weekend, and the news front is a bit slow.  Other than unqualified gushes about last night's SD!, there's only a trickle of wrestling news to talk about this weekend.

But still...  you don't deserve more than 4 paragraphs or so of nonsense.  So I'll restrain myself from boasting about how UD has just gotten a commitment from the second-best hoops player in Ohio's Class of '04 (and is in the mix with a couple other top 150 prospects) or lamenting about how I've had to change my baseball allegiances and am apparently now a HUGE fan of the Louisville Bats or outright bitching about how that thing I said last week about our weather finally settling down and staying out of the 90s couldn't have been more off base as we've just completed about 4-5 more days of the ultra hot and crappy.  Yeah, screw that noise.  I'll just get on with the graps:

  • I warned you not 2 paragraphs ago, and here it is: last night's SmackDown! kicked some serious ass.
    Look, it was a show that would have been very good no matter where it happened; maybe the tone would have been a little different, but ultimately, those stories would have flown anywhere.  That the show took place in Eddie Guerrero's hometown of El Paso, TX, however, took what was a good show and turned it into a special one.
    I ask you to go back about two weeks, to a column I did about Eddie Guerrero and his main event prospects.  Looking back my own self, the tone I set seems to be "hopeful, but not optimistic."  I didn't do that on purpose; as a first-draft writer, that's just sort of how it came out.  I tagged on a comment about how if Eddie were ever to get that push up to the next level, the SD! tapings in El Paso might be the best place to get it started.  Didn't say it WOULD happen... just kind of tossed the idea out there as an "if/then" statement.
    Well, I still don't want to get my (or your) hopes up too much, but I think last night saw Eddie Guerrero prove he can be the stand-alone star of the night, even on a show loaded with Angles, Lesnars, Takers, and Big Shows.  He did it in his hometown, yes, but the fact that Eddie hasn't been able to sustain boos in any other city in which he performs is ample evidence that crowds are ready and willing to cheer for him, no matter what.  They didn't even TRY to play Eddie as the heel last night, and if you give him the same treatment in other towns, well, I'm guessing you'll have yourself a marketable main event babyface before too long.
    And barring a sudden change of plans and a new set of SD! tapings held in John Cena's home-region of Boston, it does look like the Fed intends to run with Eddie as a babyface in the future.  Just 2 months after an attempt to turn him into a full-on heel, this storyline with Cena looks to be just getting started, and looks to have cast Eddie as the pure fan favorite, once again.  Last night's shenanigans were just as big a win for Cena, actually, as they were for Eddie.  Cena came off really strong, the beneficiary of Eddie's massive fan support.  Eddie didn't need Cena to get the reaction he got; but Cena needed to be working against Eddie to have engendered the crowd responses he did.  
    You move past the great promo by Eddie and Cena to open the show and their match that would have been the best of any non-PPV week, and SD! also featured a second excellent promo/match combo, and again, one that just might prove to be a bit of a watershed moment for a particular performer.
    I speak of Brock Lesnar, who somehow, in the course of one week, found heaps and heaps of personality and delivered the promo of his young career.  I viewed his new alliance with Vince McMahon as necessary, just as having Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece last year was necessary.  Now, I think Brock's just about ready to stand on his own.  He told his story well, and didn't just do it with words.  His tone, his body language, the whole thing: there was nothing about this Brock Lesnar you could cheer for, and plenty you could get pissed at.  I'm sure the hot El Paso crowd helped, but the "You Tapped Out" thing went over huge at least in part because Lesnar came off as so utterly unlikable.  A very nice touch.
    The promo continued with Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Big Show, and Stephanie McMahon all getting involved, as the argument shifted to who should be the #1 Contender to Angle's belt.  I thought Taker was the second most effective of the group, giving us the Elder Statesmen act where he didn't necessarily talk for anywhere near as long as Brock, but his brief missives were attention grabbing and drew oohhhs and ahhhhs.  Angle was very good, too, mixing the humor and the intensity fairly effectively.  Show and Steph each contributed exactly what s/he had to, as well.  That promo nicely set up the three-way main event for the #1 Contendership, but again, as time passes, what may become the important thing is that Lesnar owned that room for about 6 minutes, and he did it on the mic instead of in the ring.  Well, he did it on the mic in the ring, but c'mon, you know what I mean, people....
    Then, later in the night, Lesnar, Taker, and Show had themselves a very good main event wrestling match.  Lesnar was impressive in the power displays.  Taker resurrected a few dormant submission moves and brought his A-game.  And Show, for all the criticisms that I've made about him over the years, has really learned how to use his big-ness in the last 9 months or so, and was a believable and contributing part of the match, too.  On commentary, Angle did a great job of seeming VERY interested in watching the match and breaking it down while still not caring exactly who won (he just wants to put his title on the line and prove he is the best).  The finish was really cool, with the tease of variations on the top rope antics involving the Show that once collapsed the ring leading up to Show being hung out to dry, while Taker picked Lesnar off the top and gave him the Last Ride for the pin.  A very entertaining match with numerous plausible near falls and just tons of drama and excitement.
    Those two sets of stories pretty much took up the entire final 70 minutes of the show, as well as the opening 15.  In between, we got two matches and one backstage skit.  All were very effective, as well.  Rey's win over Nunzio in the opener was a 5 minute TV special, but was very good while it lasted, and reminded us that he DOES hold that Cruiserweight Title.  Benoit's win over A-Train was about the second or third time that those two have meshed well together for a solid match, and the story they told (Benoit gets a cheap win due to ref negligence) set up the backstage bit in which Train and Rhyno ambushed and laid out Benoit.  You know, A-Train and Rhyno could be a VERY good monster heel tag team... my main question, "Who teams up with Benoit to even the sides?".  If I'm put in charge, the answer is Tajiri, because that guy needs to be on TV more (and it fits fairly logically, too).  But I'm not laying down any money on that happening.
    Super show last night.  Hands down, SD! is MY choice for Brand of the Week.  I can only assume others will agree with me... why not click here to find out if they did?
  • SD! was pre-empted in about a half-dozen major markets across the US for the final week of pre-season football (including NYC for about the third time in four weeks).
    If you're in one of the places that won't get to see SD! until later this weekend, here's Big Danny T's detailed recap for your enjoyment.
  • All the pre-emptions meant that SD!'s overnight rating took a huge hit.... the overnight is just a 3.7 this week, down more than a half point from usual.  
    Again, overnight numbers for UPN and WB are unlike the data generated for the four major networks, and are based only on numbers from the top 20 TV markets in terms of overall size (NYC, LA, and Chicago are 1, 2, and 3 respectively).  When UPN loses 3 or 4 of those top 20 markets, they are, basically, losing 20% (give or take) of their potential audience as far as overnight numbers are concerned.
    That's my long-winded way of saying that once final numbers are released, SD!'s rating will be insulated by data from 200-plus other metropolitan markets, and should not take as big a hit, percentage-wise, as the overnight numbers did.
  • Not sure exactly what bug has gotten up Tom Green's ass, but after having Chris Jericho on as a guest a week ago, Green has already had Test on this week and apparently has Stacy Keibler scheduled for tonight's show.  Not that one needs any particularly special reason to chat up Stacy, but it does seem an odd quirk of scheduling....  maybe it's as simple as Green and his people discovering that the WWE stars are entertaining guests.  Or as complex as Viacom formulating a master plan for cross-platform synergy between WWE, UPN, SpikeTV, and MTV.
    Whatever the case, a few readers have informed me that Stacy's on tonight's show at midnight on MTV. 
  • Other cool guesting news: The Rock is going to host Saturday Night Live for the third time in October.  SNL's season starts with a "Best of Chris Kattan" special, but the first new, live show of the SNL's 29th year will be the Rock and musical guest John Mayer on October 4.  
    SNL usually reserves its season premieres for proven, money guests, so it speaks volumes about what they think of the Rock in his past two appearances that he gets the spot this year.  Rock's movie, "The Rundown," opens one week prior on September 26, so I think we all know what he'll be pimping... and hey, if SNL likes to load up the season premieres, how sweet would a quick cameo from Christopher Walken (also in "The Rundown") be on the 4th?
    Also cool, but not in a wrestling way: SNL's second show of the season will probably be hosted by Jack Black and feature musical guest Jane's Addiction.  If I had to pick, THIS is the one I'd watch.  But luckily, I don't have to.  Pick, that is.
  • WWE.com has recently posted an interview with Triple H which addresses the state of his groin injury.  Though it comes through clearly that HHH is doing much better now than about 3 weeks ago, the distressing thing is that the injury is talked about as being the sort of thing that can linger and hamper HHH for many months, and that it's still tender enough that HHH expects the month of September to be another one where his action is very limited so that he can make it to Unforgiven without causing any additional damage.
    You know what?  Not to be a dick or anything, but it might not be a horrible thing to have Goldberg's make good on his big words of this past Monday... the ones where he talked about ending Triple H for good.  Have the Unforgiven match end decisively.  Brutally, even.  And of course, in Goldberg's favor.  HHH can take some time off to sell Goldberg's bad-assery in storylines, and in real life, he can try to figure out how, exactly, to reconcile his need to rest and heal his groin with his desire to have himself a kick-ass honeymoon.  Perhaps the new catchphrase "Get on top, honey" would do the trick...  too bad it probably doesn't work on a t-shirt.  
    Or does it?
  • Chavo Guerrero was backstage at SD! tapings in El Paso this week, and is, by all accounts, 100% cleared and ready to return to WWE action.  He may continue to show up in OVW for rehab work, but that's basically just marking time until SD!'s creative team comes up with the right way to bring him back.
    This week in El Paso would probably have been a place where he could have made a maximum impact upon returning... but it also would have detracted a bit from his uncle Eddie's big night.  Plus, I've got this idea in my head that the best thing to do will be to have an angry Chavo return as a heel to confront his uncle about "abandoning" him in favor of a new partner (Tajiri) and then a singles agenda (US Title).  And El Paso may not have been the place to try to get fans to boo a Guerrero.  ANY Guerrero.
    FYI: one OO reader who was present at tapings confirms that there were (as I expected there would be) edits made to SD!'s opening promo.  Several minutes of footage were cut early in Eddie's promo, as the crowd was so loud that he couldn't even get started talking; also left on the cutting room floor were some more borderline emotional moments before Eddie got on with the humorous story about his grandmother.
    Also... once Cena made his entrance, there was at least one more cut: an exchange in which Eddie said Cena rapped "pretty good for a white guy" but then later took it back by saying "look who you're talking to, ese, I LIED!" to a huge pop.  "MistaBinks" estimates upwards of 10 minutes of material was cut.
    Just because I REALLY want to rile people up and start some shit (and not because I honestly feel any animosity over this minor issue), allow me to make one simple statement:  they would NEVER have edited Hulk Hogan for time.  
    Discuss amongst yourselves.
  • TNA is loaded for bear next week.  They're doing a one-night, eight-man X Division tourney for starters.  And get this: a ten-man Wargames-style match featuring Styles, Raven, AMW, and just about all the top guys will be the main event.
    Oh, and TNA's also announced another incoming star.  Roddy Piper.  Don't know if that's set for next week or later...  but Piper's back in TNA, and that could get.... well, I don't know.  It was ugly the first time, but maybe this time they'll have a better idea for how to use Hot Rod.
    Full recap of this week's TNA PPV is available right here.
  • I think that's about it.  Enjoy the long weekend, if you're lucky enough to be a student or government employee.  Or a banker.  Fricking bankers, what makes you so special that you can observe holidays that 80% of the rest of money-making America can't?
    Now, for the punchline: show up here at OO on Monday and find out if *I* take the day off!  If I don't skip out, I'm sure I'll figure out some way to make RAW sound like it'll be worth your time...  if I do take the day off, just remember that I was gonna make RAW sound like it was worth your time, and watch as much of it as you can before you remember that Lawler vs. Coach is scheduled to take place as a featured match!
    Later on....


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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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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