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SD!, Ratings, Rock, Overseas Update,
Y2J vs. Rey?, and Other Weekend Crap
December 5, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


"Ouch."  That's the censored-for-your-protection version of what's going through my head right now and that will be going through my head for the entirety of writing this damned column.  I got stuck moving some couches around yesterday, and despite my Mark Henry-like power, I apparently utilized poor form.  I woke up today with my lower back so bad that merely walking causes knee-buckling pain.  Sitting in this office chair ain't doing me any favors, either.  Unlike another infamous blowhard, often known simply his first name (four letters long and starting with "R"), the Rick refuses, however, to dull that pain with anything that comes in pill form.  It'll be bourbon for me, baby.  But not till after dark.  Damn me and my puritan values!  For now, it's sweet, sweet agony.

So why in the blue fuck am I rambling on and on?  Let just get this started, get it done, and get me horizontal on a soft surface, ASAP, dammit:

  • How about that SmackDown! last night, eh?
    For all the spoiler-driven hype for Benoit/Lesnar being awesome, I was really surprised by how outstanding Benoit/Cena was.  It was still only the second best match of the night, but it was a much closer race for that crown than I had guessed based on spoiler reports.  Between those two matches, you had over 30 minutes of bell-to-bell time, and all of it outstanding.  Right there, you're well on the way to making The Rick mighty happy.
    And then for the gravy: more good in-ring action (Chavo/Benjamin was particularly note-worthy, and Sakoda/Noble was well-worked leading up to an intriguing finish), a very strong Brock Lesnar promo starting the show, Paul Heyman stirring a few pots (the Shannon Moore story continues, he's got Dawn Marie as an "assistant" of sorts with a dynamic that deviates completely from the WWE standard sexual harassment vibe, and he's still keeping Bob Holly at arm's length), and top shelf announcing (Tazz has been so good the last 2 years that now he's even got Cole so keyed into strategy/ring psychology that Cole will beat Tazz to an idea and feed him a line to discuss it; that's a minor thing, but appreciated).  Oh, and no Vince McMahon.  The final package was really impressive.
    Any criticisms I might muster aren't so much about the show last night, but more about what I anticipate in the near future.  Like Ernest Miller doing a "musical performance" next week...  Can anybody possibly be fired up about this?  And I maintain a bad taste in my mouth about the way they seem to be putting more value into a Lesnar/Holly match than any fan anywhere in the world.  Seriously: I had Lesnar/Holly pegged as the "free per view" match that they'd blow on a random Thursday in December.  Instead, we got last night's killer Benoit/Lesnar match, and I greatly fear that SD! will try to convince me that Holly/Lesnar is a Royal-Rumble-worthy match.  I'm not saying Bob Holly is without value; but I am saying that neither I nor any fan will ever really see his value as "legitimate World Title Challenger," and that trying to push him into that role will cast a pall over the title picture at a time when things should be full speed ahead towards WM20.  Contrary to the philosophy I've seen espoused by countless veterans, just being on the roster for over 10 years doesn't mean you "deserve a turn."  You gotta convince the fans and earn your turn; to me, Benoit's shown in the last year (standing O at last year's Rumble is just one instance) that he's done that.  Hell, even grizzled vet of all of 2 years, John Cena, has proven that fans buy his act.  But are we really still treating Holly/Lesnar as a slow-build, PPV-caliber showdown?  Seems like it, dammit....
    But how ridiculous of an internet jack-off opinion is that?  I was supposed to be talking about last night's SmackDown!, which ruled, not about my nebulous discomfort about possible future directions the show might be taking.
    There's plenty of future things to be excited about, too, some of them advanced last night.  I think Cena's on the US Title trail, which should be good for him.  Eddie vs. Chavo can't be too far off, and should be excellent.  Seeing where they go with Noble (a split with Nidia? another shot at Tajiri?) should be good, and you know good matches will follow no matter where it goes.  And all this is happening with Kurt Angle nowhere in sight, which means there's an instant infusion of kick-ass just waiting to come in the next month.  
    So let me underscore how much I liked Thursday's show, and leave these other discussions for another time.  And if my spotty rambling hasn't done ya fine, you can get the full, detailed results of the show from Danny in the SmackDown! Recap, if you need 'em.
  • The preliminary rating for last night's SD! is being listed as a 3.3, however I'm pretty sure that that number could change.  This is NOT an "overnight" number in the same sense as we're used to for UPN... Nielsen is changing its practices so that they can get fast ratings for UPN and WB the same way they do for  the four major networks.  This 3.3 is still only a preliminary number and subject to change, but it should approximate that final rating better than the "overnight" ratings (based only on the 20 biggest markets) do and is normally available just about as quickly as the overnight numbers are.
    So maybe (hopefully), that 3.3 will bump up a couple tenths to keep SD! strong 3.5-plus streak going...  if that's the case, it beats the hell out of the three-quarters-of-a-point deviations between the overnights and the final ratings.  We'll see.
  • While on the ratings issue...
    The delayed-by-holidays rating for Monday's RAW was a 3.7 cable rating, up a barely significant one-tenth from the week before. But a notable improvement over last week: the show's ratings grew over the course of two hours, instead of peaking mid-show (as they did the week before for HHH/Goldberg).
  • After taping last night's awesome show, the SD! crew immediately boarded a plane for the Pacific Rim, where they are doing 3 shows.  Joining them, from RAW, for the tour: Ric Flair (who is basically doing the run because the Fed felt they needed somebody to cover for the unexpected injury absence of Kurt Angle).
    Last night in Seoul, S. Korea, Flair was pressed into duty by Paul Heyman, and wrestled A-Train in an impromptu match.  Flair, well known and highly regarded overseas due to his close association with the NWA Title, made Train tap out to the Figure Four.  
    The main event on the Seoul show was Lesnar beating Benoit in a match that featured sort of the same finish as last night's SD! match (Lesnar tapped after a ref bump, but recovered to get a cheap win).  John Cena also has #1 Contender duty on the tour (he and Benoit will flip spots, the other being the less prestigious job of teaming with Bradshaw against Morgan/Jones).
    It's a hellish 3 shows in four nights, with a huge plane ride between tonight's show (Singapore) and Saturday's (Australia), and then an even worse plane ride back to the States, where the crew will get like one day to re-acclimate before SD! tapings next week.
  • Speaking of tapings...  I can't remember if I've mentioned this previously or not, but here goes, anyway....
    The Fed will not hold any tapings on December 22 or 23.  The 12/22 RAW and Christmas Day SD! are gonna be canned shows (probably "Year in Review" type dealies).  Tapings the week of December 15 are in Florida with standard 7:30 belltimes, which means the Fed has no intentions of taping extra matches at those shows and saving them for the next week.  
    There are, in fact, no live events for almost 2 weeks after the tapings on the 16th.  So the crew should have time to rest up and spend time with family before resuming a normal schedule with the tapings on December 29 and 30.
  • I gather some fans were kind of stoked by the promise of a Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho inter-brand match...  promised, at all places, for the Spike TV VideoGame Awards that aired last night.
    Truth be told, I heard about this maybe a little over a week ago, and I don't know if it's actually what I heard or if I (inaccurately) filled in some blanks on my own, but I'd assumed that the deal was Rey and Jericho would both appear, but that their "match" was going to be of the videogame variety.  You know, with the up-down-up-down-left-right-square-R1 and all that.
    Well, stupid me should have actually paid attention instead of dismissing the news.  Or wait... should I have?
    Get this: Rey and Jericho really did wrestle inside a ring at the VGAs, and since I was already planted on my ass with minor backpain last night, I happened to stumble across it in the TV blackhole between the end of SD! and the start of the Daily Show.  And when I saw them actually hopping into the ring to fight, I thought "Dammit, I'm an idiot, this is actually a pretty big deal!".  But by the time it was done, nope, it wasn't, and don't feel bad about dismissing the original news item and failing to inform you.
    They did a deal where it was Jericho vs. Rey, but for some reason, both Victoria and Trish were introduced, too, and milled around ringside while the guys did their thing for about 2 and a half minutes.  Then, when Rey seemed to be on the verge of victory, Victoria decided to interfere for reasons unknown.  Trish came in and attacked her.  Jericho and Rey just disappeared.  To where, I have no idea.  Victoria and Trish did about 2 more minutes (relieving each other of their tops in the process), and Trish won via clean pinfall.  This was, in short, a segment meant for non-wrestling fan videogame dorks.  You or I wasted our time by watching it.
    The prospects of what Jericho and Rey could do together in a ring were obviously unrealized... but they didn't even follow through with any storyline elements that fans could have gotten into.  "RAW vs. SD!" failed to be an issue when the guys powdered out, and the tempestuous Trish/Jericho thing was never even tangentially mentioned though both were right there (announcers Coach and Al Snow were too busy repressing raging boners -- Jenna Jameson!  Raiderettes! -- to be on task, anyway).  This one wasn't for us, folks.  You'd have to ask your local neighborhood Tony Hawk aficionado if it did anything for him.  I can't really say.  And I don't know any Tony Hawk aficionados to ask, either.
    FYI: the videogame awards were taped on Tuesday night in Vegas, which is why Rey was absent from SmackDown! this week.
  • Speaking of Trish and Jericho...
    Remember earlier in the week when I shat upon the latest twists in the Trish/Jericho storyline, and shat even harder upon the possibilities for future awful-movie-inspired twists?  And then shat some more upon the entire class of reader-suggested fantasy bookings that seemed to come from socially retarded smarks who sounded like they had never even talked to a girl, and thus were falling all over themselves to come up with schemes that would allow their hero Chris Jericho to maintain an existence as celibate (and as HEELISH~!) as theirs and essentially humiliate and discard Trish for daring to seduce the noble Y2J?
    Well, in the interest of fairness, let me say I've finally seen an interesting scenario presented that just might satisfy me!  One that avoids b-movie clichés, one that remembers Continuity (what of Jericho's Wish?), one that sets up a great WM20 feud, and one that doesn't completely destroy the character of Trish Stratus.
    Allow me to thank OO Reader Keith Smith for this ray of hope (and perhaps apologize to him, since I did take his original suggestion and bastardize it with a few not-so-minor changes of my own, and he might not like it so much, any more)...
    The idea is simple: Jericho does start in on his protestations next week about how he really has fallen for Trish, and eventually says the right things to convince Trish that he's genuine and that Christian is the real asshole in the equation.  But then, 3 weeks before the Rumble, Jericho reveals he was kidding all along, and they do the big "I was just trying to get in your pants" angle that they failed to do this past week (something big, cataclysmic, that actually makes you feel sympathy for Trish, not just a throw-away backstage skit).  Trish, having gone through this once (sort of) already, is not weepy and heartbroken as much as she is pissed; with her friend Lita, Trish swears revenge on Jericho.  Two weeks before the Rumble, she and Lita make an astounding challenge.  They want a match against Jericho and Christian at the Rumble!  Jericho and Christian smell opportunity, and say sure, they'll do the match, but only under one condition: if they win, Trish and Lita have to spend the night with them.  Trish and Lita seem to have predicted this ploy, because they immediately counter with this: they'll accept those terms, but only if they can have one partner of their choice.  Jericho and Christian ponder, and decide they like their odds against two girls and one other person.  They accept.  Problem is, Eric Bischoff doesn't want to make the match because he's already gotten heat (and an unwanted co-GM) because of his risqué match making, and he doesn't think sanctioning male-on-female violence (especially when there are also sexual favors on the line) will endear him to anyone.  So Jericho plays his trump card: he uses his Survivor Series wish to get Bischoff to book the match.  That's right, his Survivor Series Wish will finally net him some of that sweet, sweet Trish lovin'.
    Cut to six days later at the Rumble:  Trish and Lita reveal Steve Austin as their Mystery Partner.  Together, the three defeat Jericho and Christian (this is a Sports Entertainment Segment more than a match, and Austin's health concerns shouldn't keep him from playing the necessary role of basically doing not much, and then hitting Stunners so the girls can pin the vile fiends).  Trish and Lita get out of the storyline with characters fully intact (perhaps even strengthened) and ready to get back to the business of Molly Holly (who maybe can stay busy by sort of throwing in with Jericho and Christian?  Haven't given that much thought, but it could work...).  And in a deliciously ironic twist, it's Jericho and his Wish that result in Austin's return.  Ha!  And obviously, the match result puts us firmly on the road to an Austin/Jericho WM20 match, which is just what the doctor orders.  And the promos (which can also feature cameos from that little CLB) and angles building up it should be red hot, too. I like this.  A lot.
    So of course, it won't happen.  They'll do the stupid teen movie gimmick with Trish and Jericho, Austin's comeback will be based on the infuriatingly lazy and uncreative "petition" gimmick, and Jericho's wish will probably be forgotten.  I steel myself for the worst, even as I glimpse a very do-able and fascinating alternative.
  • You know, this sort of talk is just the sort of thing that gets my fantasy booking juices flowing...  and if you're interested, yeah, I've thought more about my Fantasy WrestleMania 20 from last week, and a few tweaks have occurred to me.  As have some interesting things that could happen on the way there.  Not only am I beginning to envision a WM20 PPV that, itself, would be kick-ass, but I'm also starting to see the connections and the path to get there that could make for an absolutely top-shelf 12 weeks of TV leading up to the PPV.
    But I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking these thoughts.  I'm confident somebody up at Titan Tower has put the forethought into WM20 and they've got a pretty solid idea of the things they'd like to do there.  And then there is the internet fan, who has his WM20 wet dreams, too; here, I'm talking about they people who want Benoit beating Lesnar, Hogan vs. Piper, Angle vs. Hart, Flair vs. Steamboat, and lord knows what else to happen on the show.  Probably a Michaels/Hall Ladder Match and The Reanimated Corpse of Andre the Giant winning a Battle Royale, if I know my smarks...  they're sweet kids, really, but sometimes I wonder what world they live in.
    I'm probably somewhere in the middle: the practicality of WWE with a dash of the "dream match" mentality.  That's why my WM20 would rock!  Rock, I tells ya!
  • Before I get myself too worked up about how much smarter I think I am than Stephanie McMahon's crew of monkeys, let's try to end with some actually useful information about WM20.
    Such as this pervasive rumor that it will be a five hour pay-per-view event...  the waters are muddy in terms of where this had its genesis, but all I know is that tickets list a 7pm belltime.  If that's all there is to it, then talk of a 5 hour show might be premature; that's what all PPV tickets say, since they want fans showing up during the pre-show edition of Heat.
    Others are claiming that WWE has already ordered five hours worth of PPV time that night, however, which would change my tune.  I already know the show will once again run till midnight, a four hour show assuming a normal start time.  WWE always reserves an extra 30 minutes for a pre-show, so there, you're up to a 4-and-a-half hour PPV window.  I have no idea if people actually have reliable info about the last half-hour or not, nor for what WWE would intend to do with that time if they had it.
    Certainly, the 20th WrestleMania warrants a lot of pomp and circumstance, and I think they could probably find ways to fill up five hours without burning out fans (alternating between ceremonies, flashbacks, and matches... not to mention my strong suspicion that we'll be subjected to a shitty band or two, as well) too badly.  But I can't say for certain that people propagating rumors of a five hour show on PPV know what they're talking about.  I mean, what of Heat?  Does it not happen?  Or is it on an hour early?  (And if that, what of the 7pm belltime?)  
    This is still an open issue to me...
  • Also an open issue with regards to WM20: the Rock's availability.
    In a new interview, the Rock just confirmed that he will begin filming "Stay Cool" (a sequel to "Get Shorty") in February.  This supercedes rumors about his next project being a shitty-sounding talking-animal movie called "Instant Karma" that was to start filming in March or April.  And it means that the Rock will probably NOT be available for any sort of significant TV appearances during the key January/February stretch run.
    I would still expect Rocky to contribute to WM20, as WWE would bend over backwards to simply have him in the building on such an important night, and I think Rock's also sharp enough to know this is the sort of night when he should (even if it means a hectic, no-rest weekend in the middle of filming a major movie) be on hand to maintain his goodwill with wrestling fans.  But a major feud and a match at WM20?  Starting to sound like less and less of a possibility for the Rock.  Could it be done with a few appearance prior to the start of filming and then a few phoned-in/via-satellite bits?  Sure, it COULD.  But COULD and WILL are two different things.
    And my previously mentioned Rock-free Fantasy WM20 is starting to look like less of a thoughtless oversight.  I knew what I was doing, people!  I knew!
  • Enough...  just think of me as delirious with pain, please.  Yeah, that's it.  Delirious.  Not cocky and egotistical.  Mark it down.
    I'm gettin' outta here. Gonna lay down in bed.  Read a book (end of Dark Tower 5, I'm looking at you).  Hopefully regain some semblance of mobility so I can go out tonight and enjoy the weekend.  If not, maybe a night at home with a bottle and one o' my gee-tars ain't so terrible an option.  Either by rest and recuperation or by the power of whiskey, I'll be feeling no pain...  weep not for The Rick, kids.
    Just get out there and have some fun this weekend, and then be sure you come on back to listen by my fresh ravings on Monday!  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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