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SD! Thoughts/Rating, Sweet Sweet Love,
and a Very Few Random NewsBites
October 23, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I don't really have a whole lot of anything for you today...  news is slow, and I'd probably feel just fine taking a day off today.  Except me taking a day off in the middle of begging you fine folks for money would send entirely the wrong message.

My promise to you: I'll dutifully show up thrice a week, at least till the Annual OO Pledge Drive is done.  Hell, I'm feeling saucy, so a second promise: I will never scare you out of your chair by having Macho Man Savage shouting "Oohhhh Yeah, Buy My CD!" every time you open a page here.  Even though those ads would probably actually PAY me something.  See, even I have my limits.

On with the shoe:

  • I think the best compliment I can give to last night's SmackDown! is that it held my attention at least as closely as the World Series game.
    OK, given that the baseball game was a blow out most of the way until the last inning (damn you, David Wells' lower back! and Double Damn you, Yankees thin bullpen!  hey, you guys want Danny Graves and his $6 million salary?  I think you do, and then BOTH my teams would win in the deal!  And on top of that, I'm working on my longest parenthetical in a LONG TIME! Whoo!), maybe I could come up with a better compliment than that if I wanted to.  But I said I'd show up and do a column today, not that I'd actually try hard.
    But I did like the show a lot.  The stuff with Vince and Undertaker was maybe a bit much considering how obvious the "shocking swerve" was, but now that they've established the story and the PPV match, hopefully they'll pull back a bit.  I'm not saying it'll be good, necessarily, but it should exist in its own little world, and if they show some restraint, it'll mean more time for things like Angle/Benoit to develop.  The Taker/Show/Lesner main event match, though, was good and fun, and if anything underscored in my mind that Taker is really on his game and maybe deserves better than to be having Sports Entertainment segments with Vince on PPV when he could be pulling his share in quality wrestling matches.
    Speaking of quality wrestling: yeah, for as much as I make fun of how predictable the internet smarks are with regard to Benoit, I'm with you on this one.  I don't get worked up over whether he wins or loses and stuff like that, but based on past data, I feel very confident that Benoit will rule the universe working against Angle.  It shall be we fans who truly win.
    From the looks of things, Benoit was certainly playing the heel last night.  If that's something that he decides to stick with, then we'll be facing a few interesting twists, according to the theory of the Conservation of Heel and Face.  Likely candidate to turn good:  probably John Cena.  Actually, with Benoit and Angle sparring, Cena's basically cut loose to do something new.  I'd be a big fan of turning him face and lining him up as the next guy to challenge Lesnar.  It shakes up the main event scene by adding a new face, and plus, those two have worked together before to good results. 

    What else did I like?  Ummm, Tajiri/Zach was good stuff, including the Yakuza's post-match whatever-that-was move combined with their anal compulsive over-straightening of their jackets; that trio could end being just about as "bad ass" as we've ever seen from WWF/E cruiserweights.  I also thought Jamie Noble cut a decent promo that sets up a rematch against Tajiri that'll have some heat behind it.
    Paul Heyman as the new GM?  Nothing to complain about there.  I mean, sure, he ain't much to look at, but Paul E. can play up his innate sliminess when he needs to heel, but can also trade on his hardcore/ECW cred if he needs to make a few face-ish decisions here and there.  Steph usually played it straight babyface, which (as I've reiterated numerous times in my "Shane's the only one in that family that got a Babyface Gene" diatribe) didn't really play to her strengths, nor did it give the brand much flexibility, storyline-wise, until Vince showed up to wield periodic power.  Paul E. oughta make a fine straw to stir the drink.
    The Bashams winning the tag titles was alright with me, too.  I guess I'd been thinking Haas/Benjamin would take those titles back, but truthfully, they don't need them; the Bashams, however, are like "Team Angle" was 10 months ago, and can use the belts to establish themselves.  So I'm cool with the title change.  That said, it also gives me an excuse to launch into a mini tangent...
    All the progress made by Eddie Guerrero in the last four months has essentially been pissed away.  None of that momentum from July and August remains.  That's not to say it can't be rebuilt, because it can: Eddie's plenty good enough to do that.  But it's still frustrating that right now, we COULD have been looking at a deal where Eddie came out of his dual title reign positioned to challenge Brock Lesnar.  Instead, we're looking at a deal where a US Title rematch with Big Show is probably the best he can hope for.  
    The "exit plan" for Eddie was poorly constructed.  I'm not sure how much forethought went into it or how much of it was just falling ass-backwards into the situation... but after the very first week, SD! fumbled the opportunities to take advantage of Eddie's status, and instead treated his two titles like an inconvenience (or, at best, an afterthought).  I did envision Eddie losing both titles at roughly the same time (actually, in the same night), which is what SD! wound up doing.  But what I would have done would have been to tie the two losses together: make the feuds and matches interdependent to some extent.
    As it stands, Big Show did his thing over here, and beat Eddie.  Then the Bashams show up out of nowhere over here and do theirs to take the tag titles.  Eddie's just a guy who can't get the job done.  He got beat up by Show, and out-cheated by the Bashams.  There's no glory in that.
    But if they'd continued to play up the dual title status and -- as they did that very first week -- forced Eddie to defend both titles at the No Mercy PPV, you could have manufactured a scenario in which Eddie lost two matches, but actually gained ground on the night.  My first choices of opponents would have been Matt Hardy (US Title) and Haas/Benjamin (simply because they had the obvious beef with Los Guerreros, and even with Benjamin out until the week before the PPV, could have been plugged in with no trouble), but Show and the Bashams would have worked just the same.  The important thing would have been that both of Eddie's opponents would have a tacit arrangement to help each other out and take advantage of Eddie's working twice.  Maybe early in the show, it's a brutal backstage attack by Show, weakening Eddie for the tag title match.  In that tag match, Eddie still shows plenty of fire, but in the end, he's the guy who gets pinned after additional cheating.  Then in the US Title match, you could actually have the Bashams do a run in (it's as simple as saying they're "repaying" Show for softening up Eddie before) late in the match when it looks like Eddie, against all odds, is actually going to be Big Show.  Of course, the run-in turns the tides, and you have Show go over clean with a chokeslam before too much longer.  Show leaves to celebrate, and then, I'm guessing it would not have taken much of a goosing to get the live crowd to give Eddie a standing ovation, even after losing twice.
    The story would have been a month of stress and conspiring opponents finally got the best of Eddie Guerrero: sure he lost the titles, but it's the fighting spirit he showed defending them as well and as long as he did that the fans remember and respond to.  That's the "exit plan" I had been envisioning...  but instead, they're basically starting over with Eddie, now.
    That's my rant.  Take it or leave it.
    Still, the point here was to discuss SD!, and not to do big philosophical arguments about the past month worth of storytelling on the show.  So I'll close down by saying that I wound up liking last night's SD! more than any show they've done since mid-September (probably since the Iron Man free-per-view).  It was a show that shook things up, which is just what the doctor ordered for a brand that doesn't have to do its own PPV again till February.  Turns, returns, and debuts like we saw last night should have the effect of restructuring the roster and making it stronger, all around, over the next few months.  
    SmackDown!: it's good to have you back, buddy.  Full results from the show are in Danny's SD! Recap.
  • The overnight rating for SD! is a 4.0, which is... hell, I don't even know any more.  I know it's better than last week's, but more than ever, it's becoming impossible to estimate what final rating will be borne of a particular overnight number.
    What I'll say is this: the final rating will be available at some point this weekend, and at that time, I'll update this week's Battle o' the Brands with it.  Then I'll also be sure to mention it in Monday's column.
    Speaking of Battle of the Brands... that oughta be interesting this week.  Or at least, closer than it's been for a while.  Again: SmackDown!, it's good to have you back.
  • It ain't exactly Ben and J-Lo, but for the wrestling world, it also really can't get much bigger than this...
    Tomorrow, in the ultimate life-imitates-art twist of fate, Triple H (Paul Levesque) and Stephanie McMahon are getting married.  Just a week or two shy of four years ago (not exactly sure, but it's REAL close), Steph got shit-faced drunk (and possibly drugged by a guy on HHH's payroll) at her bachelorette party in Las Vegas, then abducted by Triple H, taken to a Drive-Thru wedding chapel, and legally married.  In storylines, of course.
    The next week, Stephanie was supposed to marry Test in a grand ceremony on RAW.  Of course, HHH crashed the party with footage from the Drive-Thru Wedding, and revealed Steph had already been married for a week. To him.  D'oh.  In later weeks, Vince McMahon would try to defend his daughter's honor (a job that one might argue should have been Test's; his career has yet to recover from the rapid dismissal from the cusp of the main event picture), only to find out that Steph was secretly in league with HHH.  He would have seen Steph's heel turn coming, if only he'd paid attention to her hair: back in 1999, straight hair mean "babyface," and curly meant "heel."  I still remember watching whatever PPV that was with a room full of dudes, and predicting Steph's heel turn based solely on her hair.
    The "McMahon/Helmsley Era" lasted for about 2 and a half years, actually way longer than anyone would have predicted.  Possibly longer than it should have, given how pathetically awful it turned out (remember? puppy dogs, fake pregnancies, and the divorce...).  But in that time, the onscreen relationship developed into a real life one.  HHH sent then-girlfriend Chyna on her merry way and started shacking up with Steph within the first six months or so of the onscreen relationship.
    And now, four years after they got married on TV and a year and a half after they got divorced, they'll be doing the real thing tomorrow.  I wonder how Stephanie will be wearing her hair?
    A few bits of fall-out due to the wedding: no Friday or Saturday house shows for either brand, as the WWE roster will be well represented at the wedding.  Shows do resume on Sunday (although they had briefly flirted with canceling those, too). And also, one's mind can't help but wander to the issue of how or if this will be addressed in terms of storylines.  I mean, it's a horribly-kept secret, and I think the vast majority of fans know that HHH and Steph are a real life couple even if they aren't reading newsletters/websites and know that tomorrow is the wedding.  It is WWE's long-standing MO to take advantage of real life relationships whenever they can, so let the speculation begin about HHH and Stephanie's returns to WWE TV...
    Anyway, as if they need anymore of them: congratulations and best of luck to the couple.  At least here in this little corner of the internet, we don't think you're horrible people, purposely trying to ruin WWE!  Well, I don't, anyway, and I run the place, so I say "Congrats and good luck."  
  • Ummm...  WWE's in line for another prime time special on UPN.  Looks like they're getting these about twice a year during sweeps months...
    The next one will be a Steve Austin-themed special, and will air on Wednesday night in late November (whichever Wednesday is a twenty-something date, I don't have it handy), where UPN will use it to grab ratings better than whatever crap they put on after Star Trek.
    Not to put my manliness in question, but chances are this will be more fun than past WWE specials, several of which were of the Diva variety, and attempted to do titillation while maintaining a TV-PG rating, which strikes me as a horribly pointless and self-defeating endeavor.
    At least here, they can bleep Austin's foul mouth and blur his middle fingers, and you'll still get the picture pretty clearly.  Where as putting a babe in a thong and then having to show her mostly from the front lest the censors suffer a stroke does not work so well.  Implied vulgarity: OK.  Implied backside: stupid.
  • Seriously, I'm reaching for things to say now...  does it show?  How about this for a final thing:
    Speaking of Austin, he taped an appearance for the "Sharon Osbourne Show" yesterday.  It will air next Thursday.  I have no idea where the show airs, but I think it might be syndicated, so you'll have to check your local listings.
    Austin's making the rounds (and getting the UPN special) at least in part because his (not-quite-auto-)biography is hitting stores soon.
  • That's it.  Stick a fork in me.  Go Yankees.  See you Monday.


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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