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RAW, the Wedding, Warrior, and a
Very Gracious Loser is the Rick....
October 27, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This feels so... weird.  For the second October in a row, I'm left sitting here, empty-handed, telling anyone who decides that they just HAVE to give the knife in my gut a twist that "Hey, the Yankees will be back next year."  Twice in a row.  What is this, the 80s?

Of course, the good thing -- the thing I expect will get me no sympathy even from those of you who don't even really like the Marlins -- is that when I say "Next Year," I mean it.  The economics of baseball, of New York, and of George Steinbrenner simply preclude another stretch of painful futility like Yankees fans went through for 15 years ending in 1995.  New York means there's money to be spent; Steinbrenner means there will be good baseball people deciding how to spend it.  Unlike, for example, the mindless spending that a team like Texas is known for.  I won't bore you with my ideas for how differently NYY will look next year... nor with the disappointment I feel in the new Reds' General Manager coming from said Texas baseball franchise.  Good lord... at least there, he had the money to spend stupidly....

And a back-handed congratulations to the Marlins and their fans.  I will admit that I feel a little bit sick that in a sport that has an unmatched 100 year history, a franchise that has (a) existed only for 10 years and (b) has only had two seasons over .500 can also (c) claim 2 World Series wins to its credit.  But that said, the way this year's team was built would seem to suggest the Marlins will be back again next year, and on top of that, I cannot help but be very happy for Jack McKeon and for the young superstars he fathered along this year.  They are a likable bunch.  I like them even more when I realize that you Marlins fans will go back to putting 8000 fans in the stands per night at some point in the next few years, at which point your young superstars of today will become the More Expensive Superstars of the Yankees of tomorrow.  Ahhh, the circle of life.

And with that, my favorite month of the year is just about done.  I didn't even get to really enjoy the switch back to Standard Time, another of my favorite parts of October.  I usually associate the clocks going back with Halloween weekend, so I got caught by surprise on Saturday night.  Oh well.  At least we've still got a full week of syndicated reruns of all the old Simpsons Halloween specials before October ends!  That's something to look forward to.  But then after that, it's all shitty weather, and having to spend time with (ewww!) family, and the rest of the crap that November and December bring.  

Except for college basketball. That ain't crap.  And hear me know, believe me later: the Flyers are gonna be very good this year, and I won't let you forget it.  The whole A-10 is sounding like it'll have an up-year, actually.  Obviously St. Joe's is the cream of the crop, a possible Top 10 team.  But Dayton won't be far behind, and I don't think Xavier will lose too many steps minus West.  Temple will be back again this year, too.  It's gonna be fun.

But now I've really let myself ramble.  All I really meant to do was find a way to convey a gracious-in-defeat demeanor so as to defuse that particular situation.  My Yankee fandom is no secret, and as I've seen the past day or two, there's nothing like being a loser to bring out the Yankee haters in a crowd.  So I was being a bit defensive.

And now, I shall try to be at least a little bit on-topic:

  • RAW...  to the amazement of just about anyone who was watching the two shows as recently as a month ago, it has become the week-in and week-out Brand of Choice, even among fickle internet types.
    At times, they've done with by pulling out a few SD!-caliber tricks (such as two weeks ago, with a killer 8-man tag), but mostly, it's been RAW's unpredictable storytelling.  Until the past 3 weeks or so, RAW's major surprises had been ones that just left you shaking your head in one-part dismay, and one-part pity.  There's a REASON you didn't consider them:  because they were stupid.  Think battery and jumper cables.
    But RAW's unpredictability in the last few weeks has been of a different sort.  Surprising happenings are in the "Oh, yeah, I should have seen that coming" category.  And the handful of surprises we've been treated to give the show they anything-can-happen feel that had been missing: now, I'm even finding myself on the edge of my seat for what's next in little throw-away segments.  "What's Stacy gonna do with that beer?" or "What in the blue hell are Jericho and Christian up to?" are issues that wouldn't save an otherwise crappy show, but with everything else clicking into place, they are just the sort of things you need to have to keep fans wondering where the show will go next.
    Of course, now that I say that, watch tonight go 180 degrees the other direction.  Stuff like Batista and Orton trying to stumble through a big, long promo instead of just biting the bullet and letting Flair do the talking if HHH ain't around... or the Jericho/Christian/Trish/Lita sitcom-caliber Double Date Vignettes from Hell...  or Kane introducing his new Male Health Guru Manager, Val Venis, who can teach Kane how he can stay aroused longer after he breaks the necks of 50-something-year-old women...  or worst of all, another tag team title shot for La Resistance.
    But I have faith, O My Brothers, I have faith.
    For the most part, my faith is based on the simple fact that the main thrust of the show tonight SHOULD be the big Bischoff vs. Austin Five-on-Five Survivor Series match.  Way I figure it, HHH is gone tonight, right?  And assuming HHH/Goldberg is the money feud (cuz it sure ain't Goldberg/Batista), the whole thing with Goldberg and Evolution should get back-burnered to some extent.  Keep it brief, keep it simple...  maybe just set up Goldberg vs. Batista for next week's show (Goldberg should definitely play hurt tonight, too; otherwise, what was so special about Batista's attack that he deserved the hundred grand?), and be done with it.
    Meantime, you can involve any number of different parties in the 5-on-5 deal.  Already, you can have Austin, Bischoff, Jericho, Steiner, and Booker who can participate in promos/matches hyping the PPV match.  You might as well just count RVD in on the babyface side, too.  But from there?  Do you use Jericho to bring Christian into the match?  Or Steiner to bring Test in (Test is now projected to be possibly ready to return to action by mid-November)?  Or (and this is my favorite), do you bring Evolution in to round out the heel side?  I think if you use Orton and Flair with one of Christian and Test, you're set up perfectly.  Because then Booker and RVD can logically add Shawn Michaels (last feuded with Orton), which they'll need to give the team a "leader" commensurate with the level Jericho's at on the other side.  Then you finish up with either the Dudleys (just because) or with Maven and Lance Storm (because they fit the storylines better, even if they aren't over like the Duds).  You could have cross-feuds going, too: like after last week, Booker vs. Orton is simmering, even if Shawn vs. Orton is a main dish (and Booker's own main rival is, I would think, Christian, who I really think HAS to be in this match, if only so Austin can call him a Creepy Little Bastard for a few more weeks).  RVD vs. Steiner is a key singles feud, but RVD and Jericho have so much history together you can't forget that, either...  all kinds of cool things present themselves, all depending on what decisions WWE makes for the roster in this match.
    You could tweak a few things in different directions, and the end result is still a five-on-five match that I'll be fired up for.  Mostly, though, the important thing is that RAW's got a chance for a week or two worth of storylines that can twist us and turn us, and keep us interested because they've got more strong performers than they've got spots in the match.  This ain't a by-the-numbers sort of a deal, and that's what makes it fun to watch.
    As already outlined, Goldberg vs. HHH will end up being another PPV match from RAW at Survivor Series, and unless everybody has missed their guess, that's a story that won't start getting told in earnest till next week.  That's when I'd have HHH run in to spoil Goldberg getting a win over Batista....  it may seem obvious, maybe a little bit too simple, but I'd argue that with the focus (rightly) put on weaving together enough feuds for the 5-on-5, you can get away with waiting till virtually the last second with Goldberg/HHH.  Plus, it's a rematch that HHH began calling for back 6 weeks ago.  It's not like it's really coming out of nowhere, even if they don't make it official until the week before the PPV.
    The other PPV-ready feud for Survivor Series is Kane vs. Shane McMahon.  They've done a ton of really stupid stuff between them, and it usually works out that it doesn't matter because they also end up doing killer wild brawls to save things at the end of the night.  Last week's promo by Kane was a good example of a microcosm of the entire feud:  an embarrassingly misguided first half of the promo (which I maintain practically SHOUTED "From the Desk of Mr. McMahon," what with the inappropriate horniness further assassinating the Kane character), was saved in the end when it seemed like Glen Jacobs came out of the forest of the Prepared Material and into a clearing of Intense Spontaneous Shouting.  Was it microphone gold?  Nope, but it served as a reminder that Kane hates Shane, and made their future PPV confrontation seem like it'll be the final one.  Given how badly it started, I'll take that outcome.
    Ummm, what else tonight?  I admit it, I'm a sucker for the Jericho/Trish/Christian/Lita thing, too; I won't steal anyone else's thunder by doing a big thing with my own thoughts (none of which would really be original by this point), other than to simply say these are appealing performers who have already taken what (in other, less capable hands) might have been a really stupid and flat skit and given it life.  I await the next twist...  that storyline overlays not just Jericho's "screw with Austin's head" agenda, but also the women's title feud with Molly and Lita, so at least tangentially, you might even be able to work the women into the over-riding five-on-five intertwined segments....  depending on what you do with the Duds with regards to the five-man, you need to find SOMEthing for them to do soon (unfortunately Orton and Batista probably has to wait till after Batista gets his ass kicked by Goldberg... by which time Test is probably back and able to team with Steiner, if they decide they want to go that direction)...  also in the "if they don't tie it into the five-on-five" category: Maven and Ric Flair aren't done with each other, yet, it's just a question of when and where and with how many partners they shall next meet...
    Oughta be a fun show.  RAW's on a roll.  We'll have full results (and Satire) here at OO tomorrow.
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.6 broadcast rating.  That's a gain of a third-of-a-point from the week before, and puts SD! back at or slightly above it's 3 month average.  As always, I think it's cool when a show that I liked winds up being seen by more people: that was the case with last week's SD!, which I thought finally got the brand back on track after a few odd choices in the previous month.
    Then again, I'm also smart enough to know that me thinking SD! was a good show has nothing to do with Mr. Nielsen's ratings. A more likely explanation for the ratings jump: although World Series Game 5 did big ratings for FOX last week, the audience for baseball was still about 25% smaller than the one that watched the amazing ALCS Game 7 the previous Thursday.  The always-popular CBS and NBC line-ups snatched up a lot of that extra audience, and SD! probably just happened to pick up a few stragglers the same way.
  • The marriage of Paul "Triple H" Levesque and Stephanie McMahon went off without a hitch on Saturday afternoon in Sleepy Hollow, NY.  The weather was nice, the wrestling world was assembled en masse to celebrate with the couple, and there were no real problems or scenes caused by fans or gate crashers.  
    If anything, from the sounds of things in this local newspaper article, the wedding party may have over-spent on extra police and security, as fewer than 100 wrestling fans showed up to watch from a distance.  There's no shock here: Mick Foley scored points as the most friendly and accessible star present, going out of his way to mingle with fans.
    Scoring no points: the Rock.  Because he didn't even show up.  The dumbass.  He's not even making a movie or anything, and so obviously the reason he's not on WWE TV right now is because Triple H and Steph are upset with him and are PERSONALLY holding him down.  If only he'd shown up at the wedding with a nice tea service or gravy ladle or something by way of a thoughtful gift...
    Other than that, there's not a whole lot to mention on the subject.  At least, not that I didn't already cover on Friday.  That's where I did the big "life imitating art" spiel, as well as thoughts on how/if the wedding is addressed in storylines, plus the congratulations and best wishes for the couple from me personally (but not from the rest of the internet)
  • I guess one thing that I do need to address/correct from Friday:  I made a big deal out of how, for a while, you could tell what divas were turning heel in the WWF based on their hair.  Straight meant babyface, curly meant evil.  I said that Steph telegraphed her heel turn against her dad back in '99 with a curly 'do, but many, many mailed in to tell me to lay off the recreational pharmaceuticals...  Steph's hair was, they assure me, straight at that PPV.
    So I don't know where I got that from...  but I do know that for some reason, in my brain, Steph is integral to the genesis of the "evil hair" theory that my friends and I had going.  Maybe the night after she turned evil, her hair was curly on RAW?  Somebody want to check that for me?  No? OK...  just take my word for it, I guess: more than a few times, turns were telegraphed by hair styles.  I remember both Steph and Chyna being culprits vividly, even if I'm off on the precise details.
    Sorry 'bout that.
  • Well, in just about the most concise and clear sentence ever published on his official website, the Ultimate Warrior is promising an update on his return to professional wrestling. And he promises it's coming tomorrow. 
    His exact words: "Check back here on Tuesday October 28th for an important announcement regarding Ultimate Warrior's return to professional wrestling!"
    Of course, within a few scrolls or a few clicks, you can get back to the Warrior you know and love...  the one who makes The Rick's personal experimentations with vocabulary, punctuation, and run-on sentences look like kindergarten-level "Jack and Jill" primers by comparison.  
    The important thing is that, if the tease is to be believed, Warrior is gonna do something in the realm of pro wrestling here soon.  And while don't actually doubt the teaser line, I guess what I mean is that there may be some doubt in my head as to whether or not whatever Warrior's planned return is will turn out to be of much interest to the typical wrestling fan who has successfully moved past 1991 in his own head.  Anything short of showing up on TNA or WWE is probably just wankery at this juncture, is what I'm pushing at.
    You've got the link to the website above.  Check him out tomorrow.  Or yeah, I guess you can count on me to mention the Big News, whatever it is, in my column here on Wednesday.
  • An extended tribute to Road Warrior Hawk is being prepared by WWE to air on this weekend's "Confidential" (and probably with more material left over for the following week, if they stick with the multi-week arcs that they've done for major stories in the past).  Hawk's tag partner Animal has already confirmed that he'll be flown in to do a sit-down interview this week that will be included as part of the package.
    This just in: Ultimate Warrior's "return to wrestling" will not be to offer kind words in memory of Hawk on "Confidential."
    It's good to know that WWE is doing this up right: it's tough to grasp for some of us old timers, but there really are a lot of fans out there who never saw Hawk and Animal (at least, not booker relatively well, and almost certainly not in their 80s peak form).  Hell, even *I* never really saw any of the pre-NWA/WCW stuff (I just read about it in PWI)...  so I think it's good and important that WWE include Animal and as many other people who were there and can explain to these fans just why Hawk was so significant a performer.
  • Alright, I think that's about enough jibber jabber for today...  I will just close by reminding you that OO is in the middle of the Annual Pledge Drive (where I take your money today, and then use it to make sure that OO is able to run smoothly for another year without having to hassle you again).  Even a couple of bucks helps, especially if we can get hundreds of people over pitching in.
    You have the options of credit card (via Amazon), PayPal, or the US Mails...  just check out the OO Pledge Drive page for details.  And thanks to all who've already helped out, and in advance to the rest of you who will break down and pay just to get me to shut up in the next couple of weeks!
    See you Wednesday with more news and Spoilers, too.


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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