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Foley/Hogan, Vince, Cena is Good?, 
Rock Buzz, and Other Mid-Week News
September 3, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Wow, it really hasn't been that great a past week for The Rick...  I've had a funeral to attend, the end of my rock band to deal with, the departure of the second of my personal Top Three Most Favorite Dayton Bartenders in the past 3 months to try to compensate for... and then on Monday, RAW annoyed the crap out of me.

Those are seven days I wouldn't mind giving back.  Who wants 'em?

To be polite to you fine readers, I'll only obsess at length about the fourth item on my list there.  And I'll save it till the end, since I already did a lot of venting in yesterday's half-recap, half-OOpinion column, and you might be sick of it.

Here are the rest of today's goodies:

  • Want spoilers?  They have been posted right here.  Enjoy.
  • Rarely does something that probably isn't even close to being an issue seem like we really should be paying super-close attention to it... but that's kind of the vibe folks are getting from Mick Foley's appearance on the season premiere of TSN's "Off the Record."
    Foley, who you might have thought was just there to plug his book, wound up being pressed into talking about his feelings towards Hulk Hogan by host Michael Landesberg.  Why?  Because during an OtR appearance by Hogan earlier this year, the Hulkster made a few snide remarks about how he had "trained more in the past week than Mick Foley has his entire career."
    Now, on one hand, it was just a joking comment made by Hogan to attempt to underscore that he was working hard to remain in good shape even at age 50... but on the other, it was also a bit rude of Hogan to malign Mick Foley's work ethic.  Foley may have never given much of a damn about hitting the gym for cosmetic purposes in the way Hogan does, but few intelligent people would look at Foley's series of 25 minute PPV main events in the late 90s and into the new century and say they honestly thought Foley was not in ring shape.
    Confronted with footage of Hogan's comments, Foley admitted to having been hurt by them.  He didn't make a big deal out of it, but he made sort of the same distinction I just did, claiming that he worked as hard as anyone to be in good ring shape, and that the result was that he regularly had far more entertaining matches than Hogan ever did.  Not that he bashed Hogan for a lack of skill or anything; rather, he said he respected Hogan and what he did as an entertainer, he just thought those comments about him were misdirected.
    By the end of the interview, Foley was even joking about how he might use this "feud" with Hogan to make money down the line...  that's what I love about Mick: he's real enough that he'll admit to having his feelings hurt by someone else's criticisms, but realistic enough to let it roll off his back and turn it into a little joke.
  • For his part, Hogan got to respond the next day during a brief cameo on the "Bubba the Love Sponge" radio show.  He basically tried to gloss the whole thing over when asked about it.  He said he didn't really mean anything by it, and didn't think he had any heat whatsoever with Foley, and then they moved on.
    Whether it's real or not, the "heat" between Hogan and Randy Savage is apparently much more worth talking about.  The reason for my dubiousness?  Well, frankly, this whole thing is too absurd for words.  Hogan goes on the radio, makes a few snide comments but mostly ignores Savage (especially when Savage is making challenges to Death Matches and whatnot)... and Savage's response: to make a rap album with at least one song directed at Hogan.
    If you haven't, you must go to www.MachoMan.com and dowload the first single from Savage's upcoming album.  It's called "Be a Man."  It is... I'm not sure what it is, actually.  Perhaps, 10 years from now, with the benefit of hindsight, we'll lump this in with the category of ill-advised recordings collectively labeled as "Shatner-ian."
  • Speaking of Shatner....
    A week or so ago, I mentioned Shatner was slated to direct a new movie co-starring  Erik Estrada (he of "Dos Mujeros, Un Camino" fame!) and our very own "Hot Rod" Roddy Piper.  You may have thought I was making that up.  I assure you, I was not.
    In fact, I should have mentioned this a couple updates ago, but an eagle-eyed reader passed along this link confirming the project, which is titled "Code Black."
    They don't have any detailed info, but if you're just dying to know, what I heard was a brief (couple weeks) shooting schedule this fall would have this movie ready for release (direct to either video or to cable TV) by mid-2004.
  • And speaking of movies...
    The buzz for "The Rundown" starring the Rock is very positive.  Over the course of the summer, studios started shuffling their fall release schedules to get away from "The Rundown," as word got stronger and stronger that the film had come together very strong.  It only helped when the trailer scored well with audiences.
    A few different movies cycled in and out of the head-to-head debut weekend with the Rock, but now, the only other major film set to debut nationally on September 26 is "The Duplex."  Now, a Ben Stiller/Drew Barrymore movie SOUNDS like stiff competition... but this movie has been finished for almost a year, and the studio kept pushing back its release date, apparently unconvinced that it was strong enough to compete.  Now, after a year of delays, it seems they are just "dumping" it on 9/26 to get it over with.  I guess studios have had enough of getting burned by Danny DeVito-directed "dark comedies"?
    If the movie lives up to the buzz, it'll stand a chance of holding up for a second week, too: the big movies set to debut the next weekend are a Denzel Washington drama and a Jack Black comedy, neither of which necessarily appeals to the shoot-'em-up action/adventure set catered to by "The Rundown."
    A big two-week-on-top opening for the Rock is just the sort of thing that would finally put him over the top as far as Hollywood is concerned.  Wrestling's now officially past-prime, and if he opens this movie big, it'll be because people want to see the Rock on the big screen, not just because WWE's fans showed up.  And that's when you'll see the Rock go from one-off flicks like "The Rundown" and "Walking Tall" to a franchise player.
    A lot of people have talked about using the Rock as the star of a movie franchise, but you'll notice that nobody's really said much about a "Scorpion King" sequel in the past 18 months, nor is there any progress on getting those "Spy Hunter" movies going.  A big open for "The Rundown" is what'll get those deals done and make the Rock's wrestling schedule that much more scarce.
    The big kahuna of possible franchise parts for Rocky?  A revived "Predator" movie series.  In parallel with the "Predator vs. Alien" project (which might be fast-tracked with the success of "Freddy vs. Jason"), producers have been talking about a straight-up "Predator" revival that would be a direct sequel to the first movie, and pick up the Arnold Schwarzenegger character's on-going battle with the Predator (sorry Danny Glover).
    Problem is, Arnold's got this little governor thing going (I swear, if you people elect him governor, you're even more retarded that my State of Ohio would have been if we'd elected Jerry "Yeah, Paying for a Hooker with a Personal Check Sounds Like a Smart Idea to Me" Springer to Congress)... and even if he loses, he's still pushing 60 by the time "Predator 3" gets made.  Not exactly a guy who you want to be trying to hang a franchise on.
    Producers have already been quoted in the entertainment trade papers as saying The Rock is a top candidate to take over the role of "Dutch" if additional Predator movies get made.  And they are talking in terms of "movies" with an "s," not just one and done.  So go ahead and put that on your pile of "things Rock might get to do that have nothing to do with wrestling."
    And if you're watching RAW and thinking it can't get any worse, let me say five little words to you:  Rock vs. Predator, WrestleMania Twenty-One.  If it worked for RoboCop....
  • I made a joke last Friday about how, unless SD! was taped in Boston, Eddie was on the road to being the pure babyface in a feud against John Cena....  as it turns out, I wasn't joking.
    A SD! house show in Boston was arranged so that Cena could be a babyface.  Cena teased playing the heel, and wore a Yankees jersey to the ring... but as soon as he got on the mic, he announced it was "to wipe his ass with" to a huge pop, and then he cut a big promo on Big Show and Brock Lesnar.  Then he and Undertaker did some mutual respect.  Whoa.  Cena was the special ref for a Taker/Show/Lesnar three way match, and in the end, he counted a pinfall for Taker over Show.  By all accounts, Cena owned the arena for his segments, and showed a rare type of star power potential. 

    I think he and Eddie will tear it up here for a few months on SD!, and in the end, they will help each other to BOTH make it to the top.  But in the end, Cena's the one with The Look that Vince's likes, and is also a decade younger with more career ahead of him.  I'm not taking a risk telling you Cena WILL make it.  But I'll also continue to take a stand and say that Eddie SHOULD make it; what happened in El Paso was special and unique (hey, everybody gets hometown pops, but how many guys have to have their segments edited by 10 minutes because of all the love?  That's what happened to Eddie), but Eddie can win over any crowd.  I'm still hoping he gets a shot at the top here before too long.
  • SD! house shows over the weekend were, however, Eddie-free.  And also Angle-free.  And Benoit-free.  What the hell?
    There are conflicting reports about whether these were scheduled weekends off, or if maybe (in the case of Angle) there is a lingering injury issue...  but whatever the reason, the missing guys resulted in SD! brand shows that came off a bit flat in Boston and Long Island.
    In fact, the Long Island show had an odd moment...  after a Haas/Banjamin vs. APA tag match that was a bit boring, Rhyno and Tajiri had only gotten about 5 minutes into their match when Vince McMahon took a live mic and headed out to ringside.  He ordered the time keeper to ring the bell, and declared that this match was boring, and it was time to move on to what people REALLY wanted to see:  Vince hosting a Bikini Contest.  Okey doke.
    And if you think the injury/scheduled-off-days reports are conflicting, you ain't seen nothing yet.  Nobody can agree on whether Vince actually called an audible, or if this was just part of the show.  And if he called an audible, nobody can agree on what this means.  Some say it was totally unprofessional and unfair to his workers; some say that matches really had killed the crowd, and Vince was making a bold move to spice up the show.  Whatever...  I'd take a sort of stance that's somewhere in the middle: "Hey, it's Vince's show, he can do what he wants.  I just don't have to like it."  As a fan, part of what I would pay to see would be Tajiri wrestling.  Part of what I DIDN'T pay to see would be Vince's PG-rated bikini contest.  Hey, I can operate the internet, and if I need to, I know how to find me some quality (and free) porn; but live wrestling shows only come to town once every few months.
    We'll have to see if this pattern repeats... Vince is scheduled to make more house show appearances throughout the month.
  • I'm not sure when this goes into effect, but TNA's got a deal in place for national cable distribution.  Sort of.  You have to have the right cable system, and the right level of digital service....  but if you get the two "InHD" hi-definition channels, you'll be able to see TNA's weekly Xplosion show (that's the show syndicated to a few markets, not the PPV show).
    InHD is not a pay-per-view service, but it is a premium one (showing sports and movies for HDTV owners) that your basic package probably doesn't include.  You can check with your local cable company to see if they offer the two InHD channels and how much extra crap you have to pay for to get them.
    As OO Reader "Jerry" (who passed along this development) noted: this is the first wrestling being made available in hi-def, so if you folks want to put your fancy TVs to use, TNA's your only option!
  • TNA's show tonight is the last before a brief hiatus... and it's gonna be a big one.  There are two events scheduled, and that's it.
    First is a huge main event, a 10-man gimmick match that combines elements of WarGames and the Clockwork Orange House of Fun.  Men will enter the match at intervals, WarGames style, but the cage will be studded with plenty of weapons for all.  The participants:  Jeff Jarrett, Raven, D'Lo Brown, and America's Most Wanted on one side, facing AJ Styles, Shane Douglas, Christopher Daniels, and Simon & Swinger.  That combines just about every top level TNA feud and star into one potential-laden match.  Should be amazing.
    The only other thing happening tonight:  an 8 man "Super X" Tournament (apparently, no titles or #1 contenderships are on the line), apparently slated to taken place entirely on tonight's show (even though that probably means short-changing the guys with really short matches).  The first round pairings are: Nosawa vs. Juventud Guerrera, Johnny Storm vs. Teddy Hart (yep, one of THOSE Harts), Chris Sabin vs. Jerry Lynn, and X Champ Michael Shane vs. Frankie Kanzarian.
    Should be a really good show if it comes of in reality as well as it looks on paper.  You really oughta check this one out (I'm gonna)... you can rationalize it this way:  buy tonight's show for $10, and then remember to set aside next Wednesday for TNA's one cent show.  It's like getting TWO wrestling PPVs for five bucks each!  Kind of!  C'mon, do it...
    But if you don't, Damian Gonzalez will be here on Friday with the full report for you.
  • Last thing today is to briefly reprise Monday's RAW.  If you need a recap, just click here and remember to stop reading about half-way down the page when I report on the Goldberg/HHH staredown ending the show.
    And if you want a 5000 word diatribe about how something like a 10 minute testicular electrocution angle is so wrong that it effectively spoiled the rest of the show for me, well, click up there again.  But this time, skip the recap part and go immediately to the mid-way point of the page where I started in with the venom.
    I won't rehash the whole mess.  In retrospect, I probably did over-react, but I think I can isolate why: if it had just been me sitting on the couch watching Kane bust out his AAA-Approved Testicular Defribulator, I'd probably have just started shaking my head in mild awe that somebody, somewhere, thought this was a remotely good idea for a serious wrestling angle.  Yesterday, I made the case that it would have made a good Mortal Kombat fatality.  Via e-mail, others have suggested other times when jumper cables to the balls CAN be a good idea.  For example: as part of an "Itchy and Scratcy" short, it might be hilarious.  Not one person suggested "Monday Night RAW" as the right place for it, though.
    But the fact is, I wasn't allowed a private moment of mourning over the continued assassination of Kane's character.  Nah, I had to deal with a couple of non-wrestling fan friends who saw fit to bust out laughing, first at the crap on TV, and then at me for watching it.  Now, I'm secure enough to know the laughs at me weren't serious or personal; everybody's got their little foibles, and most of my friends are more than happy to give me pro wrestling.  They are also happy to mock me about it when there's a good chance, just as I'm more than happy to poke fun at them when they do stupid shit like get addicted to "Joe Millionaire" or start drinking Michelob Ultra.  It's the circle of life!
    I'm not saying every non-wrestling fan should be instantly enthralled by every moment of every RAW.  I'm not even saying I want the jokes about my wrestling habit to stop (they kid because they love, and I know it).  What I am saying is that WWE should be able to put out a product that is soundly constructed to the point that most non-fans may still say "I don't get it," but which doesn't cause them to burst out in laughter at inappropriate times.  A product that, if I must, I can defend... or at least, I can wait till they're gone and know with certainty that what I just saw was pretty good, and I should know because I'm the wrestling fan, dammit.
    So I guess what I'm saying is that what caused that bug to crawl up my ass yesterday wasn't just that I had to watch a crappy angle on RAW.  I've seen those before, I'm resigned to seeing them again.  It was the crappy angle combined with GETTING CAUGHT watching the crappy angle that set me off.
    Again, as I said yesterday, with distance, I'm becoming less fired up about this, and by the time Friday rolls around and I do a BotB rating, I'm sure I won't stick it too hard to RAW.  Another low rating, sure, but not one that would leave you thinking that I must have spent the past week railing against the show.  Which I have.
    One quick thing: in the feedback I got since yesterday, there's been a lot of agreeing with me.  There's also been a lot of "it's about time you came over to the Dark Side, Scaia."  There were also two messages from people who (quite reasonably, I think) isolated my "they're just making this up as they go along" argument as the key to why these elements of RAW continue to suck on a weekly basis.
    One made the general suggestion that every PPV should be planned about 5-6 weeks ahead of time, and then the general outline for the one month leading up to that PPV should be reverse engineered.  Makes sense to me.  Another reader took it a step further, and singled out the writing on a show like "24" (where the entire season, including the finale, is mapped out before filming on the first episode even begins) as the example WWE should follow.  Again, this is something that seems to me so sensible that it's double frustrating to realize that WWE's not doing this already.
    Actually, one additional thought: instead of trying to steal writers away from "24," there's actually a slightly different focus I'd like to see adopted by WWE.  Yes, map out the entire "season's" (month-long PPV build-up) twists and turns, but don't get wrapped up in arty dialogue or anything like that.  Map out the whole thing, and then turn it over to talented performers who can get the ideas across and who know their characters well enough to suggest specifics.  Instead of "24," I'm thinking handle it more like "Curb Your Enthusiasm": you have a story you need to follow, but how that story comes through is in the hands of the individual performers improvising their way through the confrontations.  That sort of ad-libbing is perfectly suited to wrestling, where half the fun is playing off the live audience.
    I think I mention that only because the dreadfulness with Kane on Monday actually started sooner than you thought: it started with Shane and Terri's "interview" backstage, which was a horrible piece of stilted expository dialogue that gave us the information that Kane had "vanished" in as awkward a manner as possible.  I hate when dialogue comes off as rehearsed on wrestling shows.  Hate it.  That's all that drives my "CYE" vs. "24" distinction... in general, the important thing is that both shows map out entire seasons before they start on episode 1, and that's a lesson from which wrestling could learn.
  • Enough of that.  I've got another OOpinion thing lined up for Friday (unless huge news happens first).  I haven't finalized the presentation of it or exactly what slant I'm taking, but I think you'll like it.
    Also: tomorrow is the big finale of the Monday Night Wars piece.  Parts 7 and 8 will be posted, and with that, you'll have the full MNW feature available as a reference item here at OO.

    See 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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