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SD! Thoughts/Rating, More Nudity Please!,
Indie Updates, and Other Weekend News
January 9, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'm not sure what I expected when I did my big Pete Rose rampage on Wednesday, but it wasn't this... not one person dissented with my opinion that Pete should be in the Hall of Fame, but over a dozen took me to task for insinuating that Shoeless Joe Jackson deserves to remain excluded if Pete makes it in.

Look, I chose my word carefully about Shoeless Joe.  I know his story; I know his numbers in that series indicate he wasn't trying to throw anything.  I know he gave the money back.  But guess what? I said "conspired" to throw the World Series, and that, my friends, sticks.  Maybe there was a certain naive nobility to him keeping quiet and trying to cover for his teammates, or whatever, but he was still a tacit part of a plot to fix a sporting event, a scandal that actually did tarnish the sport of baseball so badly that, had it not been for Babe Ruth, might have ended the game once and for all.

By contrast, no one thought any less of baseball's integrity after Pete's debacle 14 years ago (and no one is questioning it now that Pete's guilt has, finally, been confirmed).  So while I grant that Pete's crime, in intent, was probably greater than silent bystander Joe Jackson's, I look at the damage done by each...  and I can't help but keep on thinking that a Hall of Fame without Pete Rose is a travesty, but one without Shoeless Joe, well, is sort of how it oughta be.

A quick weekend update:

  • Last night's SmackDown! was the better of the two shows this week.  But as lacking as RAW was, that's probably not saying much.
    Still, on the strength of an outstanding Guerreros/Bashams tag match and the compelling story that surrounded it, SD! definitely hit a very convincing high note.  Rey/Akio was also very good while it lasted, and I found myself very impressed with the effective Benoit/Mini-Rumble segment albeit mostly as a story-telling device.
    Most other things were just business as usual, neither advancing stories impressively, nor really missing the mark too badly.
    The cruiserweight division seems lined up for the next few months.  I'm assuming that Rey/Tajiri is you Royal Rumble PPV match, and then coming out of that, Rey will retain and go straight into a feud with Jamie Noble (whose heel turn ought to be finalized within a few weeks).  A quick title win by Noble (off the top of my head, wouldn't it work great if Nidia's on-going blindness was a ruse designed by her and Jamie to sucker Rey in, and then she'll help Noble win the title in the end?), and then Rey can chase him all the way to Mania....
    The tag ranks aren't nearly as interesting at this point.  One reason why I (unlike many, it felt like) didn't mind the tortuously slow burn of Eddie and Chavo's break up is because I really enjoyed and valued their work as SD!'s top babyface tag team, and didn't mind if it lingered.  Now, what are we in store for?  The Rikishi/Scotty vs. Bashams title match that, to date, has yet to actually happen?  Whoop-de-fricking-do, says I.  Sadly, London/Spanky seem trapped on Velocity, and the face turn for Haas and Benjamin that seemed forthcoming in October has been back-burnered.  
    The US Title:  has it been defended even once by the Big Show?  I'm thinking not, and he's had it for over 3 months, now.  Cena or Eddie needs to step in and take the belt (with a heel-turned Kurt and Chavo as other US Title players)... but for now, they're all just sort of melting together into the big Rumble match itself, so, the US is another title that's just sort of simmering quietly.  [Sidebar: once the title's off Show, I'd actually like to see him do a tag team thing -- probably with A-Train -- to create another really strong heel tandem, which would allow Haas and Benjamin to turn face, without disrupting the balance too badly.]
    Speaking of Kurt, I'm more even more confident my comments from last week will be bourn out: the guy is going heel.  Angle vs. Eddie, yeah, I can deal with that.  And even better, if/when Benoit takes the WWE Title, imagine the main events he and a heel Angle might have over the summer!
    And before I wrap up my SD! comments, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention something that stuck in my craw...  the commentary.  In spots, it was really obnoxious in a way that felt more contrived than Tazz and Cole have felt in years.  I'm not saying Cole ISN'T a tool, and I'm not saying Tazz didn't, for 90% of the time, let his first nature (the one that does a good job explaining the matches and stories) rule.  But I am saying that for that other 10% of the time, I honestly sat on my couch and debated which one of these two things was true: (1) Tazz was told by management to act obnoxious to close the "commentator quality gap" this week following Coach's ear-drum-puncturing performance, or (2) Tazz just decided to play up his old miserable bastard routine to see if the smarks (after months of giving him virtual reach-arounds) would call him on the carpet for being as off-task as Coach.  I wasn't able to decide, but ultimately, it didn't matter.
    And ultimately, I'd be a big ol' jerk if I said much more on the topic.  At some point in the last week, Erin Anderson decided to scrap the column where she made fun of me for thinking Brock Lesnar was the Wrestler of the Year, and instead did a nice write up on just how confidence-shattering Tazz and Cole's outing was last night.  She decided to lay off the "Rick is stupid" thing, so I won't steal any more of her thunder.  This week's Broad Perspective is right here.
    And then, the other requisite plug as I shut down the SD! thoughts is the one where I tell you that I know my own comments are inadequate, but you can get the full, detailed rundown of the show courtesy of Big Danny T's SmackDown! Recap.
  • The preliminary rating for last night's SmackDown! is a 3.5, putting the show back on track following the two holiday broadcasts.  The prelim numbers usually run within a tenth or two of the final rating, so when we have SD!'s final number on Monday, it'll be back up in the mid-3s where it belongs.
    A note: another thing that'll have to wait till Monday is Battle of the Brands.  Idiot that I am, I got wrapped up in something else last night, and forgot to send out the reminder to the OO Staff to do their rankings.  So now, I'll have to remind them today and hope they send stuff in over the weekend.  Between you and me, though, I think we can assume SD! will win.
  • Unzip your fly and prepare the tissues!  Playboy is going to be featuring more naked pictures of Sable and Torrie Wilson in their March issue!
    Ummm, you know what?  Pull your zipper up and settle down.  You still got like 3 or 4 weeks before that issue hits newsstands.
    And you know what else?  I'm not even sure it'll be anything to get too worked up about...  my understanding is that this will just be a recycled pictorial, featuring previously unseen shots of Torrie (from last March) and Sable (from a few years ago, when she did a lay-out or two as "Rena Mero" after she left the WWF).  This is based on a message I got from a little birdie who said that if (as some fanboy sites are indicating) Sable and Torrie really did a fresh nude photo shoot with a catfight motif, it would already have taken place, and WWE would already have started hyping it.  Clearly, that hasn't been happening.
    So, I guess if you're really fired up to see Torrie naked, posed 3.87 degrees more to the left than you've ever seen her before, then get in line!  Otherwise, prepare to be underwhelmed....
  • After the successes of Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair DVDs last year, WWE is getting 2004 off to a big start in the home video department...
    Not only is the 2 disc Mick Foley set coming out in a week or two, but also this winter, the Fed will release a two disc set commemorating the Monday Night Wars... in true dick-waving fashion, the title of that release will be "The Rise and Fall of WCW."  No reason to portray it as a "War" or WCW as an equal, now is there?  Nah.... they rose, but then, of course they fell.  That's what's important.
    It's definitely an interesting idea, and it'll be a cool item, even if only for some of the stories from the WWE side of the fence (I doubt they'd let anyone, even Bischoff and those who were on the WCW side back in the day, tell too many pro-Turner stories).  Of course, as a man who is quite clearly 500 pounds of dork in a 200 pound bag, I'd probably get pissy watching it because they don't have all the actual numbers and ratings and charts and stuff.  The rest of you typical fans will probably appreciate this decision.  Which is why I did the big OO Monday Night Wars Feature piece, and was not brought in as a consultant on this DVD.
    Obviously, the nature of this release will be more a non-stop series of moments and interviews and stuff, and less in the way of full matches.  No idea, at this point, what they might be throwing in as extras, either...
  • I got an e-mail asking if it was true that Chris Benoit was jumping to RAW...  that came totally out of left field to me.  I didn't know where it would have gotten started, but I gathered from the e-mail that it's basically a theory based on the fact that the RAW-only PPV after WM20 is taking place in Benoit's hometown of Edmonton.
    Allow me to opine: there is absolutely no good reason for Benoit to jump to RAW.  The opponents against whom he can look good, the announcers who can make him sound even better than he is... they are on SD!.  Being on RAW simply would not play to Benoit's skill set.  Though it may sometimes seem like I shit on RAW and call for them to put a bit more effort into the in-ring product, the fact is, I appreciate having the two brands have some level of distinguishing characteristics.  Benoit, if asked to "Sports Entertain" on RAW, would not be as strong as he is as more of a white-bread Wrestler on SD!.
    Also: all storyline considerations point against Benoit jumping ship.  Think about it, the Rumble/Heyman/No Title Shot thing is custom made to play out on SD, not on RAW.  Why ditch an established, compelling angle to plunk Benoit in the middle of a show where he has no outstanding issues.  [Momentarily playing Devil's Advocate against myself: the only, and the Rick means ONLY, way this makes any sense would be if Benoit did win the Rumble, but Heyman, in a rage, decided to make good on his promise of Benoit never receiving a WWE Title Shot by trading him to RAW.  Maybe Benoit's title shot would then transfer to the World Title?  Maybe SD! would get back Goldberg, so Vince can have his silly little Goldberg/Lesnar match that he apparently set in motion back at the Survivor Series?  I dunno... I don't know if  I like it, but it could work that way.]
  • Actually, the project of pushing Benoit and making him into the legit main event/championship caliber star most smarks want him to be has been an interesting little exercise over in the OO Forums.
    In a thread titled "Road to Benoit-Mania" in the Wrestling Current Events folder, there are over 75 posts from people trying to put forth ideas that they think would help ensure Benoit makes the most of his push to the top.  One very sage and perceptive individual proposed a moratorium on "Toothless Aggression" forever more.  Suggested replacement catchphrases abound, as do thoughts about how to introduce them, and who might work as a mouthpiece for Benoit if he can't introduce them himself.  
    It's a really cool read, even if you don't want to sign up and join the fun in the Forums.  And that's saying something, cuz I really don't spend much time in the Forums myself, much less plug them here in the column.
    There also another cool thread that runs through all the possibilities of Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle.  Let's just say the idea of the Three I's returning to take the purveyor of Lying, Cheating, and Stealing to task for corrupting his young nephew is a winner with me!
    So check out the Forums.  They're good (for now)!  You too, Readers at Titan Tower.  We won't sue if you take the Benoit ideas and put them to good use.  Honest!
  • It's gonna be an interesting weekend for indie wrestling...
    First, Major League Wrestling returns for the first time in about 4 months, with a pair of shows in Florida.  The group, whose weekly TV show had gotten some major praise (from me, no less) as a sort of heir apparent to ECW, has restructured, and hopes to remain viable throughout 2004.
    One big drawing card on tonight's first show will be Teddy Hart and Steve Corino in the same building.  Smarks know they had a bit of a falling out after Hart was booted from a Ring of Honor show for his spotlight-stealing antics.  In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if MLW tried to use the past incident in part of a quasi-shoot/work-the-smarts deal this weekend.  In the wrestling biz, no amount of bad blood is enough to stop a guy from realizing he can make money by working with his most hated rival.  Possibly a lot of money if fans are slow to realize this truth, and bite on it like it's real.
    The Saturday show will see Terry Funk coming in to work the main event against Corino in what is basically the culmination of their feud from before MLW's hiatus (I'm not sure, but I even think MLW had originally scheduled a tour of Texas where they had hoped to blow off the feud last Fall).
    MLW's expected headliners on the Friday show are Low Ki and Homicide, and I'm pretty sure neither will be present for the show on Saturday.  At the very least, Homicide has been heavily hyped as appearing at the RoH show that's in Wilmington, OH, tomorrow night.  It's RoH's second foray into southwest Ohio (following a show last year at Dayton's Montgomery County Fairgrounds).  I had a good excuse for missing that first one...  I have no excuse to miss this one tomorrow, except that it's like 45 minutes out of my way, which would really only be worth it if somebody had the good sense to comp me.  And about 5 of my jackass friends.
    Seriously, Wilmington?  Trying to go halfway between Dayton and Cinci (and partway to Columbus), you run the risk of getting fans from neither (or any, as the proper grammatical case may be)....  
  • And with that, I think we're about done for the week.  See you again on 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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