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Armageddon Fall-Out, RAW, and the
REAL Start of the Slow News Month!
December 15, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, so if we can just keep anybody of relative import from dying in the next two weeks, we can make it through the rest of December the way god intended: bored out of our skulls, and resorting to listening to me talk about college hoops, the Greatest Albums of 2003, and what a giant pain in my ass the OO Year in Review is turning out to be.

Because the wrestling world is getting ready to go into a bit of a holiday hibernation after TV tapings this week.  I mean, sure SD! is going to Iraq...  which is nice and all...  but unless Saddam's precious "POW privileges" include a complementary WWE developmental deal and an obligatory shoot match against Bradshaw, I don't think there will be anything really significant taking place on Christmas night on UPN.  Nah, after TV this week, I'm probably gonna opt for a whole lot of getting completely blitzed with family and friends!  And taking lots of days off from updating the site!  Because I know all you filthy lushes are the same way I am and you won't be here visiting, anyway!  And plus: binge drinking and slacking off, that's the True Meaning of Christmas!

Oh, and I'm sure it's also the True Meaning of Hanukah and Kwanzaa and Festivus and whatever other holidays you, personally, hold dear.  I'd hate to only offend the Christians.  I've got plenty of good-natured needling stored up to insult EVERYBODY!  I'm like the Santa Claus of Religious Indifference, spreading my message of apathy all around the world during this special time of year!  Or something.  I don't know.  I had to work Santa in there somewhere.  You know, to make sure I offended those dirty atheists and their jolly fat icon of greed and materialism!

What in the blue hell was I talking about?  Oh, probably wrestling or something.  I swear, I haven't begun my festive holiday daytime drinking schedule, yet!  Honest!

  • OK, so how about we reflect for a moment on last night's Armageddon?  
    I think, upon the obligatory further reflection, I really only have one change of opinion since my immediate post-show PPV Recap from last night...  the main event DID start off "clunky" (which was a more apt word than I'd realized on first pass), but it wasn't quite as bad as I'd made it out to be, in the end.  In fact, once Goldberg was written out, Kane and HHH worked pretty decently together.  The problem was that the awkwardness lingered: not because of problems with the ring work or physicality, but just because the crowd had two heels to pick from, and didn't make a clear choice.
    HHH was, quite obviously I thought, trying to give us Cowardly Heel which should have left Kane as the sort of Bad Ass De Facto Babyface.  But it didn't quite work out that way.  Still, even if the crowd never really got into the dynamic, that last half of the match was OK, not the major down note that I'd felt like it was last night.  
    I think what colored my immediate post-show opinion was that not only was the work in the main event a bit off, but as soon as they forced in the Flair/Batista tag title win, you just KNEW what the finish of the main event was gonna be.  I am by no means one of the internet HHHaters, and if WWE has an actual long term plan for HHH and Evolution (although long-term planning seems to have been dismissed on RAW these past two weeks), then truth is, he's a perfectly logical choice to have holding the title heading into WM20.  This is a time of year when a heel should hold the belt and a top babyface should step up and chase.  Also: the myriad of possibilities for Evolution's situation over the next few months is another intriguing development.  So no: I don't have a problem with HHH, World Champ (like I gather many on the 'net do).  I do have a problem with having to sit around, knowing he'd be the world champ for an hour before the inevitable ending to the match.
    I don't know what the alternative would have been, other than inventing a time machine, going back to 4 weeks ago, and actually telling the stories that WWE wound up wanting to tell at Armageddon instead of whatever crap they flung at the wall the Monday after Survivor Series and then had to work with for the last month.  Work Flair and Batista into the tag title picture, in other words, so that their winning the belts is not so forced and so obviously a telegraphing of the "Undefeated Evolution" angle.  
    But anyway, even if I back off slightly on my criticisms of the main event, it doesn't do a whole lot to enhance my overall opinion of the show.  RVD/Orton still stands out as the Match of the Night, and my pleasant surprise at how Jericho, Christian, Trish, and Lita managed to have what was mostly an actual wrestling match instead of a extra-curricular-laden Sports Entertainment Segment placed the Battle of the Sexes in at #2 on the Most Entertaining Continuum (even though it might have actually benefited from some more Sports Entertainment, as essentially nothing happened from a storyline standpoint other than the ponderous underscoring of what we already knew from the previous Monday about Jericho being smitten, but Christian just being an asshole).  Past those two matches, though, I really only thought that HBK/Batista and the second half of Tag Team Turmoil really got up past the "OK" mark.  The former almost exclusively because of Shawn Michaels, the latter mostly thanks to the Dudleys/Test/Steiner, and neither due to Batista even though he figured pretty importantly into both.  I guess I just don't get Batista; aren't there probably about a million guys out there whose #1 resume item is "looks like he should probably be a professional wrestler," and whose #2 resume item is "Acts kind of like a generic, stereotypical 80s heel," and whose #3 (and final) resume item is "Can repress laughter until after the show no matter how vaguely homoerotic the vibe given off by Ric Flair seems, assuming you would assign him to manage me." 
    Toss in the main event that was probably more watchable than I credited it for originally and then two completely forgettable matches where the "right" (read, "blatantly obvious") person won... and the end result is really quite notable for nothing except how not notable it was.  Usually, I have myself a chuckle on Mondays after PPVs when my mailbox fills up with "I'm never buying a PPV ever again, ever!" type messages.  But today, the three different people who thought to type "More Like Awful-Geddon" (or something very close to it) and the other dozens who clearly didn't like the show even if they didn't turn such a clever little phrase almost seem like they're onto something.  This one and Bad Blood are kind of standing out as the biggest wastes of my PPV money all year...  I know that probably sounds like my usual RAW-hatin' to some of you, but hey, it's my site, so deal.
    Again, the actual results from Armageddon (with more details on what happened and less whining about what I thought about it) are available in the OO PPV Recap.
  • Where might Armageddon prove to be a success?  In the storylines it sets up heading into the New Year.  RAW, which cruised through the autumn with good episodic TV, has, in the last 3 weeks, turned to surprises and swerves to entertain, seemingly getting away from whatever long-term planning made the brand so good there for a while.  I guess slow and steady DOESN'T win the race...
    It almost feels like they had one idea for where RAW was going four weeks ago, and at some point in the last month, they decided to shift gears.  If the "Evolution wins all four belts" storyline is much more than a week or two old, I'll eat a bug.  And if someone actually tries to call me on it, yeah, I'll eat the bug, but then I'll spend the next 5000 words explaining how, if they really had that plan in place for more than a week, they did the Shittiest Job Ever of telling the story.  So really, I'll win, either way.  I am so smart!  Love me, shower me with praise!
    If my guess is right about a fundamental shifting of the gears resulting in the disjointed TV of the past few weeks, where surprises from Mick Foley and the Rock distracted us from the sudden dearth of continuity and sustainable forward momentum, but I'd further guess that RAW has probably not jumped into this Evolution domination without SOME form of long-term thought put into it.  This past few weeks culminating in the PPV last night, might be what put their house in order as they head into the New Year.  At least, I hope that's the case.
    We'll start to find out tonight with the last live RAW of... um, shit, last live RAW for two weeks.  There is one more live one on December 29, too.  Point is, babyfaces chasing is almost always more fun than babyfaces being chased... and right now, RAW is in position to do the ultimate in babyfaces chasing.  Who'll step up?  I mean, I think you probably have the Duds, RVD, and Goldberg getting requisite rematches, but none of those really have the taint of long-term feuds at this point.  Goldberg staying in the world title picture is the only one what would even have an outside shot of making it to WM20, I think.
    So right there, there's three intriguing questions that need answered.  I'm probably not exactly shocking you by mentioning this, but my move would be Shawn Michaels moving in to feud for the Big Belt.  He is the only person who got a win over Evolution last night... that can't sit well with them, can it?  Kane's also got a sort of stake in things, but I already mentioned how heel/heel didn't quite work, and plus, Kane's gonna be dealing with Taker soon enough, anyway.
    And here's another issue that I can see being REALLY interesting: what happens to the first Evolution member to lose a title?  Do they handle it like Flair did with Batista's loss last night, with pep talk and moral support and scheming to get revenge?  Or might the first loser face the wrath of the rest of the group?  I think it's pretty obvious that, at some point, Evolution's implosion will take place because Randy Orton decides the only legends left to kill are his own stable mates...  but when?  And how?  All I'm saying is that all members of Evolution holding titles now makes it VERY easy to isolate the weakest link....
    And damn that Matt Hocking, he stole my joke, but there is one title that DOESN'T belong to Evolution... Molly's women's title.  And so instead of making it into a joke, let me be semi-serious and point out that it might be a cool little mini-story-arc if Evolution at least floated the idea of recruiting Molly.  Not a major deal, but something that might provide Molly with back-up now that (I'm sure) she'll be back to dealing mostly with Lita and her title aspirations.  Keeping Lita at arm's length until at least the Rumble will take some doing.  And Gail Kim's not back for another few weeks.  Just a thought.  Again, I'm not exactly sure how serious I am about this... mostly, I think it'd probably just be a minor throw-away sort of segment that would show an attention to detail and continuity, and NOT be a major storyline. 
    I think Lita will be mostly free and clear of the Battle of the Sexes to resume her title feud with Molly.  In so far as she and Trish are friends, there will still be interaction, but it's pretty obvious that the matter of Christian and Lita is a dead issue, and what remains if figuring out what's going on between Jericho and Trish.  If Jericho's gonna win Trish over, I'm assuming it'll have to include renouncing his friendship (and probably outright feuding) with Christian, so look for that dissention to start soon.  And seriously: what about Jericho's Survivor Series Wish?  Another tool he can use to convince Trish of his sincerity, perhaps... or possibly filed under "Who sent Booker that I Still Remember note" in the dropped angle folder...  we'll see.
    OK, so other than needing some folks to step up to challenge Evolution and the next phase of Trish/Jericho, there is only one other firmly established storyline going into 2004: how in the hell do we bring Steve Austin back to TV.  I've chided the "petition" thing as lazy and uncreative and not a very convincing and interesting way for WWE to undo a major match stipulation.  But I guess they decided they needed to freshen their opt-in mailing lists or something, so they did this gimmick to trick you into supplying your personal contact information.  Suckers!
    It seems the next step will be nothing more ingenious than the Board of Directors re-considering Steve Austin for a non-GM role in the company (the way they've played it on TV, the stipulation at Survivor Series only eliminated Austin as a general manager, but it left every other capacity as options for Stone Cold).  Problem is, the #1 wrestler Austin could come back to feud with in the capacity of "active competitor" is Chris Jericho, who orchestrated the anti-Austin campaign, but who is now, to the dismay of smarks the globe over, in the middle of becoming a pussy-whipped babyface.  Your words, not mine.  I got no problem with Jericho the Face, other than I lose out on the Jericho/Austin WM20 feud that I think would be super-sweet.  Maybe it's no coincidence that Randy Orton has gone out of his way (as recently as last night) to take personal credit for sending Austin away for ever and ever.  Is there any bigger legend for Orton to slay than Stone Cold?  Only problem there is that Orton's got the pesky IC belt, which would be wasted if put in the middle of an Orton/Austin feud.  So I guess what I'm getting at is that if Austin's return is based on the idea of him being an active wrestler, I really have no idea what I'd do with him.  But at the same time that I feel strongly that for as weak as the "Bring Back Stone Cold" campaign has been, you almost HAVE to bring him back with a splash (as a wrestler, probably participating in the Rumble, or something) and not just cart him out in some BS position (*cough* "outside consultant" *cough*).
    Should be very interesting tonight.  I think SD!'s getting itself set up for the Mania stretch run, introducing the Benoit-chasing-Lesnar scenario last week...  tonight's the night I'd like to see RAW counter with something resembling the seeds for long-term storytelling, too.  
    Check it out, or come on back to OO on Tuesday for the full results and analysis.
  • The final rating for last week's SD! was a 3.6, a boost of 0.2 points and putting the show back up to it's pre-Thanksgiving levels.  
    Over the last 10 weeks, SD! has scored over a 3.5 seven times (Thanksgiving's 3.0, last week's 3.4, and Oct. 17's 3.3 are the only exceptions).  In those ten weeks, SD!'s audience has exceeded RAWs INCLUDING on Thanksgiving, and on average over that time frame, has been seen in about a half-million households more per week than RAW (SD!'s broadcast average is about a 3.5, RAW's converted-to-broadcast rating is around 3.0 even).
  • In the OO Staff Ratings, SD! was also a winner last week, but by a slimmer margin than what Nielsen said.  OO rated SD! worthy of a 3.38 rating, edging RAW's 3.14.  
    In the same 10 week shut-out period reference above, RAW is actually a seven-time winner according to OO, with SD! settling for three ratings wins.  RAW's ten week average of around a 3.35 also bests SD!'s time period average of close to 3.10.  You still think OO has an anti-RAW bias?
    You can check out the entire Battle of the Brands for the weekend ending December 12 right here.  And regardless of what you thought of the shows, and even if you disagree with our learned staff of columnists, keep your eyes open for Jeb Lund's perfect 5.0 use of the word "lubricious." 
  • The RSPW Awards have been tallied up by the elusive hermit of the Internet Wrestling Community, CRZ...  and YOUR Wrestler of the Year:  Kurt Angle.  And in a landslide (he doubled up #2 Chris Jericho and #3 Eddie Guerrero, who were neck-and-neck).
    I do not question Angle's ability, but due to his durability (or lack there of during the voting year, over which time he was sidelined for over four months, total), I did not personally vote for Angle this year.  I hope this doesn't make me a bad person.  You'll find out my top three and my reasons soon enough.  Just wait for it.
    Other winners of note in the awards that I have, until this year, personally endorsed as the best and most important done in the wrestling world...  Haas and Benjamin narrowly beat Los Guerreros for Best Tag Team...  Chris Jericho trampled a tightly-packed group of runners-up (Cena, HHH, Rock, Lesnar, and Matt Hardy) for Best Heel...  Kurt Angle topped Eddie Guerrero by two measly points to be Best Babyface...  John Cena took both "Most Improved" and "Best Gimmick" handily...    Angle vs. Benoit from the Royal Rumble was the Best Match, with Jericho/HBK from WM19 a strong #2...  Angle vs. Lesnar was the Best Feud, and again Jericho/HBK came in as a strong second....  
    Biggest shock: Jerry Lawler only finished fourth in the "Most Obnoxious" category.  Goddammit, this was the only spot in the awards where I could actually FEEL THE SMARKISHNESS.  You kids voted for three McMahons (Steph, Vince, and HHH) ahead of Lawler, even though Lawler gets to work his magic for 2 hours every damn week, and the other three were absent (or sporadically non-obnoxious) for parts of 2003.
    Biggest Non-Shock: Tazz's win in the Best Colour Commentator category.  But I was mildly shocked at the lop-sidedness of the victory.  Out of 122 ballots cast for the category, Tazz was the winner on 99 of them and either placed or showed on 16 others.  He tripled up second-place Al Snow, and was by far the most dominant winner in any category.
    You can check out a plain text version of the 2003 Awards Voting right here.
  • Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels got rave reviews from multiple NYC fans who attended Friday night's RAW house show at Madison Square Garden.  The two worked an outstanding 20 minute draw, and then went into "overtime" at the insistence of Flair (who try as he might still got a lot of cheers).  In the overtime period, Michaels hit a superkick to get the clean win.
    Goldberg also made a rare house show appearance to successfully defend his title against Kane in a match that may have been the main event but which didn't do much for the live crowd.  In fact, both a Christian/Jericho vs. Dudleys and RVD/Booker vs. Orton/Batista matches (and Michaels/Flair, obviously) reportedly got more over with the crowd than the main event.
    Only other noteworthy item from the major house show was that a bunch of people were suckered in by an injury angle they did with Lita in a women's elimination match.  No injury, just a gimmick to write her out of the match without her having to drop a pinfall or submission.  She did later run-in during the tag title match, and was also clearly fine at the PPV last night.
  • Actually, I should mention that Jazz was back on the road this weekend, and participated in the women's elimination matches in both NYC and in West Palm Beach (both matches came down to Trish vs. Molly, with special ref Victoria helping Molly to win).
    Jazz's recovery from injury seemed complete, and so this probably means you can look for her to show up on TV at any point, now.  Where does she go?  Not sure...  she sort of had an issue with Ivory that never got settled, but nobody gives a shit about that now.  Also she might have gotten pissed about losing her title in a battle royal setting to Gail Kim, but Gail's now a heel, too, not to mention off TV with a shoulder injury.  So who knows?  Other than pretty much having to be a heel, I don't know what to tell you Jazz will be up to when she makes it back on TV...
    One possibly good thing: with Jazz back on the heel side, and with Gail coming back soon, too, it might free up Victoria to make the face turn that fans are practically begging for.
  • Hugh Zeitlin was live at the West Palm Beach Show, and filed this report, if you're interested in the gory details.
  • On the SD! house show circuit, nothing much to report from the weekend, other than the fans from both Chicago and Indianapolis were falling all over themselves to declare that Paul London and Spanky were the breakout performers on shows.  They worked (and lost) matches to Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, stealing the shows both nights (well, afternoon in Indy).
    Fans were way into the matches, a testament to how exciting they must have been.  Because I wouldn't necessarily assume that majorities of the live crowds are religious Velocity viewers.  London and Spanky were probably starting from scratch in terms of building up fan interest, but did so very well.
    Maybe this'll be the inspiration the creative team needs to find room for Spanky and London on Thursday nights?  I mean, I like Scotty and all, but him and Rikishi doing their things just screams "three years ago" to me.  For some reason, they don't seem to wear it as well as the Dudleys...
    Main events were Cena/Benoit/Rey vs. Lesnar/Show/Morgan, which managed to get "second best of the show" honors from Chi-Town and Indy fans.  In Indianapolis, the post-show celebration actually included Cena handing the mic to Benoit for some allegedly-funny free-stylin'.  Man alive, have they learned nothing from Dancin' Lance Storm?
  • "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (last seen doing a little cameo for TNA about a month ago) has been busy on eBay... thanks to a few readers, I can now tell you that the WCW TV Title (retired on Hacksaw's watch) sold for about $7000, and that Duggan's first cape and crown from the "King" gimmick he did upon defeating Haku went for about $1200.
    The same buyer picked up both items.
    Hey, I told you it was gonna be slow, news-wise.  Let's see if I can scrap anything else out from the bottom of the ol' in-box...
  • Well, I do have Jeb Lund who, for reasons I'm sure he'd rather not divulge, was listening to his local Shitty Top 40 station on Friday night (WFLZ 93.3, whoo hoo!), and was lucky enough to hear Randy Savage babbling incoherently and apparently introducing the "Top 8 at 8" (eight popular songs played in the 8pm hour).
    The kicker: if, at the end of the hour, you could recite the songs in the correct order, as introduced by Macho Man, you won tickets to tonight's RAW tapings.  Which is either hilarious (because Savage is on WWE's persona-non-grata list) or indicative of some sort of fundamental shift (to a Savage playing ball to get off the list, maybe? I don't know... I never really understood why Randy was the one guy who really got singled out by WWF/E for defecting to WCW).
  • Alright, I think that's about enough for today.  RAW and stuff tomorrow.  News and spoilers on Wednesday.  And at some point this week, it's the big kick-off of the OO Year End Crapstravaganza!  No way am I going to ask you to read through a dozen columnists all voting in the same 40-plus categories like the RSPW awards... but we are all gonna stick to a basic template, and then, at the very end of the year, I'll tally up the votes and OO will crown it's own set of winners in our own unique categories.
    We'll be better and smarter and more relevant than any awards anywhere, I promise.  Cuz idiots like you can't vote!  Ha!  Just kidding!  You already got to vote in the RSPW awards.  So let us have our little self-important wank-fest, OK?
    See you tomorrow... 


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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