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Low-Content Weekend Update...
October 31, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'm not even really sure what I'm doing here today, other than feeling obligated to do a Friday column because of the rash promise I made last Friday to not take any days off as long as I'm asking you folks for money to support the OO website as it starts Year Three.

I've got my SD! Disappointment I could talk about, but Erin already hit the high points there (while Danny's recap does a fine job mentioning the parts that DID work), and so mostly here, I'll be trying not to repeat.  I could have a hearty chuckle at TNA's bone-headed show this week, but Damian has more than effectively tore them a new one.  I, ummm, could make fun of Triple H and Stephanie, I guess...  but that's what the rest of the internet is for, and plus, at least when somebody does it here at OO, it's handled hilariously, like when Brad Smoley does it.

Plus, Phase One of this week's Battle of the Brands is posted; due to scheduling difficulties, it's only a four-person, columnist-only roundtable, but it's a start.  We'll add four or five more ratings over the weekend, and it's conceivably a close enough race that those additional ratings will CHANGE the outcome.  Wow, how exciting!  Or at least: Wow, what a trick to try to get you all to click on BotB TWICE this week!

Anyway, so there's FIVE big things you could be reading instead of this, right now, all of which may well turn out to be more interesting to you than I'm gonna be.  Cuz although I'll try, and try hard, dammit, I'm already rifling through my notes and seeing that it's gonna be a short one... and it's hard, so very hard, Ringo, to repress the urge to kill some more time at the top here with an extended excuse for why the page didn't get updated until after 6pm the last two days (and more like 7pm yesterday).

Cuz it's a kind of funny story, and it involves my quarterly foray into the realm of the "Margarita Excellante"  (not to be confused with a competing local restaurant's "Bad Juan Margarita," the only other form of tequila I ever imbibe) with old high school and college friends (itself, a night that was a prelude/warm-up/catch-up session for one of our massive annual shindigs next weekend) on Wednesday, and the domino effect it had on me Thursday.  Remember this if you remember anything kids: unless you're a loose college girl, tequila should not be taken internally.  And then, like me, you can forget that sage advice once every three or four months and go on a Stupid Juice bender in an attempt to prove you have mastered the dreaded nectar of the Blue Agave.  But you haven't.  You just end up needing to take a nap late the next afternoon instead of updating your wildly popular website, on the grounds that you (a) are going out again that night (hey, it's Halloween weekend, so you're sucking it up and doing a rare four nights in a row of liver abuse) and need to be on your game, and (b) are semi-fired up for SmackDown! and would rather nap now than sleep through the show later. Seriously, a nap.  What am I?  Four years old?  Or possibly back in college? 

But I'm not going to tell that story, because I really want to stay on task today.  Or at least, I'm not going to tell any more than a summary of the story.  You poor saps... here's the rasslin' column:

  • In retrospect, a quick bit of utilitarian calculus suggests that I SHOULD have satisfied the thousands of you with a timelier update yesterday instead of napping...  because on top of your combined satisfaction, I would probably have ended up happier, too, if I'd watched a fast-forward-able version of SmackDown!.
    I'm not wildly pissed off at the show.  It was not as bad as the tainted burrito/sewage truck shows...  but it was also not as good as the previous week, and marked yet another blatant deviation from what SmackDown! should count as its primary strength: the in-ring wrestling.
    So hearing tell of a great cruiserweight match and a strong showing by Haas/Benjamin in their first outing as a babyface team and stuff like that, I was, as mentioned above, a bit excited to see SD! continue building momentum back up.  And instead, a lot of the good stuff was shaved down or edited out entirely to make room for a storyline-intensive show.
    Where this got to me the most was all the Vince/Taker content.  They could have taken 8 minutes back just by limiting them to the two backstage bits with Vince and Heyman (which then could have been spaced out, instead of piled on top of each other with the goofy "15 minute" stipulation).  Heyman's pep talk, in particular, was outstanding in conveying key storyline points, and his performance, I thought, was so good and dead-on for the occasion that it made Vince's over-the-top "acting" seem out of place.  There was nothing in the show-opening video package or the Taker promo later on that NEEDED to be there last night.  The Taker promo, I don't know, I guess it was good and everything, but by the time we got to it, it was Vince/Taker overload for me.  If nothing else, if they're gonna do the "Taker has a vacation till Survivor Series" thing, why use this segment this week.  Why not save it till next week?  It was just too much last night...
    Then you have the Trick or Treat Challenge, which was more wasted time, and in this case, there's not even any real match or feud to build to.  It was there to either titillate or to play Tazz off as a buffoon.  Both very noble goals, I am sure, but if you had "A" material in the can, was it really the best use of time?  I guess, unlike the "Bourbon Street Bikini Challenge," however, they spent time and money on the set and scenery, so they didn't want to just trim it down to a 2 minute video package?  Probably something like that.
    And even when the storytelling was something interesting, I found my attention wandering a bit.  The three interconnected bits with Eddie Guerrero were a tremendous roller coaster of a ride.  Eddie HAD to give that promo in that fashion, even though it was a long tough slog there in the middle.  He had to address the comments made by Chavo, had to show his ass to some extent to create some real emotion.  Why?  Because up until that moment, his fall from Two Title Grace had been devoid of it.  I outlined last week how they could have had Eddie go from 2 titles to zero and actually be MORE over... but instead the way they handled him equates to a "do over."  On one hand, I am very happy that they are aggresively starting over to build Eddie back up.  But on the other, I couldn't help but consider that Eddie wouldn't have needed to take that much time or expend that much emotion last night (saving it for another, more important occasion, perhaps) if his prior month hadn't been such a massive clusterfrick.  Still kudos to Eddie for, once being put in this position, knocking the ball out of the park with a very intense promo that should have him speeding back to almost-but-not-quite-main-event status.  And I'm not talking about regaining the tag belts, either...  I think the thing with Chavo is gonna blow up, leaving Eddie to do the uncle/nephew feud, and then either chase a rematch with Show or play with other top singles heels.
    Where I had no qualms whatsoever was in the Angle/Benoit vs. Train/Cena show opening match and the way that eventually all played into the creation of SD!'s own five-on-five Survivor Series match.  Cena/Train's implosion as a team was a cool counter-point to Angle/Benoit's last week, and Angle/Benoit sticking together this week was so perfect I'm finding it tough to come up with the short way of putting it into words.  I mean, it's a deal where I know it probably makes no sense to someone who is a super-casual fan or who needs to have every storyline explained to them in graphic detail.  They FOUGHT last week, surely they can't be back together.  But if you've been a fan these last 4 years, you know why they can fight one week and then be the best tag team on the planet the next: the investment they've made in the "we don't like each other, but we know we rule" mutual respect angle between them pays huge dividends on nights like last night.
    And it ties into the five-on-five, too.  Angle and Benoit will work together in that match, OK.  But then you have Heyman in his as-good-as-you-could-possibly-expect introduction of Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones as Lesnar and Show's partners leaving only one spot open on the heel side, a spot that Lesnar went and said probably belongs to John Cena.  Ah, but this is very interesting, as Heyman's past ties to A-Train (and the fact that Cena would be a fish out of water with four other Monsters, whereas Train would fit in perfectly) seem to suggest otherwise.  Then does Cena's face turn complete by jumping in to take the last spot on Team Angle (I'm assuming, at this point, that Faarooq is being written out)?  Does Benoit turn heel at the PPV or before, if at all?  The work we can expect from the heel side is a big question mark, but the drama and tension going in should be solid, and there's plenty of talent on that babyface side to carry the work load.
    So it was a show that had equal parts good and frustrating.  Nothing really bad, just spots where you wish they'd spend time on something else.  Both brands this week turned in roughly the same sort of short:  more than just watchable, but short of being anything particularly commendable.
  • The overnight rating for SD! is currently standing at a 3.6, which is not particularly strong... but as is increasingly the case, I'm just mentioning the overnight number because I can today.  Not because it'll even vaguely correlate to the final rating when it's available later this weekend.
    It should be noted that the depressed ON number COULD translate into an actual lower final rating:  not only is there the Halloween Weekend factor to consider, but last night was also the first official night of November Sweeps, and the other networks returned to busting out first run episodes of their top rated shows.  Stiffer competition and more fun places for WWE's target audience of young adults to be than in front of the TV could result in lower numbers.  We'll see.
  • Again, not to step on Erin's toes, but just in case you're not reading the whole site, I figure you might want to know what was missing from SD! that they taped this past Tuesday in Atlanta...
    Probably most distressing was that they halved the Dragon/Mysterio match.  It was hyped as 8-10 minutes long and the Match of the Night by folks there live.  It was a "good while it lasted" 3-4 minute TV special by the time they got done with the editing.
    Two entire matches were done away with: Haas and Benjamin worked as babyfaces against the FBI in a handicap match, and the Bashams successfully defended against Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi.
    Other segments that were trimmed: Eddie's promo, even as long as it was, had a minute or so of superfluous material removed (although there was only one edit that was really obvious)... and the Dawn Marie/Torrie thing was maybe cut down by a bit, or was at least changed up in terms of camera angles.  The version that went out over satellite on Tuesday night had a LOT more of Torrie bending over and her undies running up on her, and also featured many more shots of Dawn frolicking after getting her chocolate coating.  Via the magic of readers who know I care about, umm, such editing anomalies (yes, editing anomalies, THAT's what I care about!), I have seen the pictures.  Trust me, WWE didn't even do the titillation right last night.
    Inquiring minds wanted to know, didn't they?
  • If you're following the Hogan/TNA saga, then you ought to know that the first of Jimmy Hart's hired goons showed up to face Jeff Jarrett on this past week's show.
    First was Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  After Jarrett dispatched him, Hart brought out Plan B: Rick Steiner.  When that didn't exactly work out, Jimmy promised that next week, he's bringing in Sting to face Jarrett.
    Well, one out of three ain't bad.
    But the gimmick was supposed to be that Jimmy was bringing in guys he had managed before so that Jarrett would be revenged upon for what he did to Hogan (and to Hart).  I think maybe Duggan and Hart did stuff together like on WCW Saturday Night in the last year or two before that show died, but when did Hart and Steiner ever work together?  And Sting/Hart, obviously, there's nothing there...
    Fans might have had a hearty chuckle at Brutus the Booty Barber Beefcake showing up with Jimmy this week, but at least they'd KNOW he and Hart had history.  Instead, you get the exact same laugh that Beefer would have generated when you go with Duggan COMBINED with confusion, since he's not exactly one of Jimmy Hart's most well-known associates.  Hell, Honkey Tonk Man would have been a better choice.  If he'd work with Jarrett.
    End result: this week's show was kind of a stinker.  Next week, though, Sting's back again, and that probably shouldn't suck.
    Get the full report from Damian, if you haven't already.
  • Hold the phone...  Bill DeMott isn't fully retired?  He's only MOSTLY retired?  What is this, the wrestling version of the Princess Bride?
    Despite an Atlanta newspaper article that puts DeMott's status as "retired," there is apparently an outside hope that he could get back in the ring if his neck condition improves.  Not sure, but one guy told me that DeMott wasn't in such bad shape that he couldn't ever work again, just that he has no business trying to keep to a full schedule.  No telling what some rest or a trip to Dr. Jho or simple good luck might bring, but hope has not been completely snuffed out just yet.  Just mostly.  Or something.
    One scenario: if the announcer thing (DeMott starts this weekend on Velocity) works out, maybe it leaves him available to do in-ring angles like Lawler or like Tazz did at the start of his gig?
  • Put another note down in the Rock's little black book: Variety confirms that he is attached to star as Johnny Bravo in a live action adaptation.  Writers have just been hired, which means that this is probably a few spots down the pipeline for Rocky, but still...  he's "attached" to an awful lot of projects.
    FYI, "attached," as far as I can tell, doesn't necessarily guarantee anything.  It means Rock has agreed to be a part of a project that may or may not ever happen, but that the people who want to make the movie can use his name to drum up studio and financial backing in their pitches.  Rock could eventually opt out of one or more of these things he's "attached" to, or producers could decide to use someone else, or they may not even ever get made.  
    Just keep that in mind when you try to sort out all these things Rock's involved with...  he's a movie star now, so of course he's in demand.  It doesn't mean every rumor will pan out and blossom.
  • James Shute passed along a Sun (UK) article from earlier this week that mentioned WWE participation in what they make sound like a celebrity version of American Gladiators.  Ummmm, British Gladiators?  I don't know...
    Anyway, the article says that both the Rock and Steve Austin are signed on, as are a number of other UK celebrities whose names I didn't immediately recognize.  The pitch is that the celebs go to a training camp, and then do televised matches against each other, presumably wrestling-style with promos and everything.  I guess maybe "Live action Celebrity Deathmatch" would be a better description than "British Gladiators"...
    Anyway, you know how I said "attached to" doesn't guarantee anything... well, this article in The Sun doesn't, either.  As James noted, despite the name-dropping of Austin and Rock, the British celebs they mention are B-list, and the whole proposition sounds rather dodgy to me.  I can't see too many celebs being interested in committing this much time to something that could injure them. Nobody on the WWE side over here has said anything about involvement in this project, either.
    Here's the article, if you're interested.  But my official prediction is you'll never hear about this again.
  • I think that's about all I got today.  Enjoy the Halloween weekend, kids...  I'll be doing my best.  I'll be the lazy jerk dressed in his regular jeans and t-shirt and who thinks wearing a wrestling mask for 5 minutes at the party constitutes "a costume."   
    See you Monday....  And please, remember, if you like what you see here at OO, drop a few bucks on me as part of the Annual OO Pledge Drive.  We got credit card, PayPal, and check/cash options...


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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