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RAW Thoughts, Ominous Confidential?,
Indie Stuff, and Other Monday News
January 12, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


And now, for a very special One Time Only return of the once record-setting, mega-popular SportsLine™-owned wrestling column "The Rick Says"!

QUESTION #1: So where's the Year in Review, Scaia?

The Rick Says....

Shut the hell up.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled column:

  • RAW's live tonight in about 8 hours... and even this far ahead of time, 2 things are certain.
    One, Rob Van Dam will challenge Randy Orton for the IC Title in a marquee match-up.
    And two, RAW needs to step up this week and deliver the goods after a sub-par overall effort 7 days ago.
    I'll get to the former in a bit, but in terms of the latter, the process should be simple: take a look at what the brand hopes to accomplish at the Royal Rumble PPV, strip out anything that does not advance those issues, and BAM, put on four consecutive hours of TV to get things back on track before the PPV.  Last week's failures stemmed, at least in part, to focusing on entirely the wrong things... such as giving Jonathan Coachman just about the full 2 hours to spout off his heelish nonsense at the expense of potentially money-making storylines.
    Again, I understand the purpose of Coach's presence last week, and in the week since, it's been pretty much confirmed that last week's announcing efforts on both RAW and on SD! were part of an intentional attempt to re-introduce conflict to the announce table, where both the JR/King and Tazz/Cole tandems have supposedly gotten too comfortable and chummy for Vince McMahon's tastes.  Hey, conflict is fine.  But make it be with a purpose.  When you have announcers so blatantly forcing the most ridiculous patter in the name of not getting along, it really does take away from the product.  I hope a compromise of some kind can be reached; I wish I could tell you I simply hoped Coach would be absent again this week, but I'm not entirely sure that's a realistic hope.  If they left him out there after King returned last week, it really wouldn't shock me if they carted him out again this week.
    Other deviations from productivity last week included Mae Young showing up for no good reason in the middle of the Jericho/Trish/Christian arc, and Triple H deciding to do some stand-up comedy on Steve Austin before finally realizing he should be more concerned with Shawn Michaels.  Again, there's time to right all these wrongs...  just a question of whether it'll happen that way or not.
    Now, as to the specifics of tonight's show, the Orton/RVD match is where we start.  The general thinking is that Orton is spinning his wheels until the Fed and Mick Foley are ready for the next chapter of that particular story.  Using RVD's mandatory title re-match (or in this case, "mandatory rematch" overlooks that RVD had to win the title shot over Mark Henry last week, but you get the idea) as a way to eat up some of Orton's downtime makes sense.
    And further, I would contend that if Randy's next big issue is gonna be with Mick Foley, having the IC Title tied up with that is actually a bit counterproductive (Foley, even in the best case scenario, won't be wrestling more than a few times per year, and will have no business chasing gold).  I'd actually tell you I expected Orton to drop the title to RVD tonight in order to free up the IC belt to be involved in something important on the Road to WM, while Orton and Foley do a non-title feud that will have sizzle nevertheless.  Only problem: I also think that the gimmick with Evolution holding all the titles is the likely foundation for a major storyline development.  I mean, whoever is first to lose his title(s) is probably gonna be in a bit of trouble.  To that end, I foresee Flair dropping the fall in a tag match (which would set up a heel turn when Orton decides there's another weakened "legend" he can kill) or HHH dropping the World Title (precipitating another little vacation later this spring, maybe, one from which he would return to find the still-reigning Randy Orton in command of Evolution) before Orton would drop the IC belt.  Orton's hold on the IC belt is probably counter-productive in the short-term (for the title and for the second tier of wrestlers on RAW), but in time is the only way to position him as the top heel the Fed wants him to be by the time the year is out (which will only be accomplished if Flair or HHH or both turn face, as outlined above).
    So, chalk that up as a long-winded way of saying that although I think it might actually be the wiser move, RVD winning the IC belt tonight just doesn't fit with what I'm guessing is WWE's long term plan and won't be taking place.  
    Eric Bischoff will be back for tonight's show, after ceding control to Teddy Long last week.  Somebody will have to check my math, but I'm pretty sure that tonight makes 28 days since Bischoff "deactivated" Goldberg, which might mean it'll be time for Bischoff to address that issue and what might be next for Goldberg.  And even if not, even if they make Goldberg's return a sort of sudden and surprising thing, Bischoff will, at the very least, have to deal with another bald-headed SOB.  Sheriff Austin, for better or for worse, is essentially Bischoff's equal in terms of power, and this time around, does not have the physical provocation rule restraining him.
    I expect their power struggle to pick up right where it left off last November.  I'll leave it up to you to decide whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.  I'm ambivalent at best.  
    HHH and Shawn Michaels both got their finishers in on the other last week, and 2 weeks ago, took each other to the limit in an excellent 30 minute RAW main event.  I'm merely going to repeat myself from last week here, and say that making fans care about the PPV rematch should be a simple matter.  I mean, who among us is NOT already looking forward to a possible early Match of the Year contender between these two?  Here's to WWE keeping it simple, keeping it real, and mostly, keeping it non-stupid.  Andy Griffith jokes, I'm looking at you!
    Tag division is still, I'm thinking, pretty much a two team race, with Flair/Batista holding the gold and the Dudleys as the top challengers.  If those two don't face off at the PPV, I'd be pretty surprised.  I'd also be mildly shocked if it wasn't the next logical progression in the feud: a tables match (or another kind of stip match).  So sue me, I just don't see Hurricane/Rosey, Val/Lance, La Resistance, or Jindrak/Cade as champ material at this point.
    Women's division, on the other hand, has a preponderance of potential title holders, and all of them at least tangentially in the title picture.  Obviously, Molly's been doing  a great job as champ these last six months.  I don't think I'm exaggerating if I say that fans would buy either Lita or Trish as the champ in a heartbeat.  Victoria's work on the heel side has been impressive enough to the point that she's essentially turned babyface and would be another welcome title holder.  And fans might not like her nearly as much, but Jazz is about as viable a heel contender as you can picture.  Toss in Gail Kim, probably returning as Molly's protege any week now, and you've got a solid little roster there, split evenly down the middle in terms of heel/face structure.
    One tag team I left off my list: Chris Jericho and Christian.  I simply can't believe they are long for this world.  Even if they do end up sticking together in the long haul, there's gonna have to be a teased break-up here soon.  The thing with Jericho and Trish is not over, and before it is, Jericho and Christian will feud.  Might it still end with Jericho revealing he's a big jerk and he never really did fall for Trish afterall?  Maybe (but I don't think so).  But more than likely, Jericho really is gonna go babyface here soon, and it'll all start with a feud against Christian.  My thought is that they should go one-on-one at the Royal Rumble so that there is time to position Jericho to be firmly established as a fan favorite for WMXX, but at this point, the pure haphazardness of the storytelling between Jericho and Trish has me unsure of what'll happen or when.  
    I liked last week's showdown between Kane and Booker T.  Those two become the anchors of the RAW side of the Rumble match.  I think that this week, you can do a schmozz-y thing with Orton/RVD (probably involving Mark Henry, which then could in turn involve Booker, which in turn brings out Kane) so you get maybe 4-5 potential Rumble winners interwoven in storylines for the final push.  And again, depending on the Jericho/Christian thing, you can get them in the mix, too.  Jericho, at the very least, would be viewed as a very legtimate threat to win by most fans.
    You can probably do a similar thing underneath.  Like with the quasi-feud that is Steven Richards vs. Test: here you can quickly bring in Scott Steiner, and then somebody else on Richards' side, and they all hate each other, and they're all in the Rumble.  It ain't chess: in January, you basically take any excuse you can to have four or five or six guys all brawling in the ring together, and leave it up to the announcers to sell fans on the idea that this is Just A Taste of What You Can Expect on pay-per-view.
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back here tomorrow for the full Recap and Satire combo....
  • The final rating for last week's SD! wound up being a 3.6 (a bump of one tenth of a point over the prelim rating we talked about on Friday).  Long story short: SD!'s right back where it left off back before Thanksgiving and the holiday-dampened December ratings.
  • Also: the Battle of the Brands crown is back with SD! for the week ended January 9, too.  OO picked SD! over RAW last week by a comfortable margin, and of course, SD!'s win in the Nielsens was also by a pretty fair cushion (over half a million households).
    You can get the full report (which includes both the OO ratings and the Nielsen ones) in the new Battle of the Brands.
  • This happened to be one of those weeks where I actually sat down yesterday and watched "Confidential" without hardly ever laying on the fast-forward button...  I mean, honestly, for every "Inside the Ropes" that's actually amusing or for every video package of hilarious international hijinx, it seems like there's four packages of "Behind the Advertisement" that you have to sit through.  And if you think I care that much about what went into the creation of three different YJ Stinger ads, you're freaking insane.
    Anyway, my point...
    There were two interesting pieces on this weekend's show.  First was a segment about the "WWE Originals" album that is released this week.  Remember, I said "interesting" and not "encouraging."  Back a month or so ago when I first talked about this record for the first tiem, you might recall I dropped William Shatner's name into the discussion.  I am now leaning towards believing I was justified in doing so.
    Of the tracks they previewed, you had at least two stand out as having Shatnerian potential.  I mean, right off the bat, Lita herself couldn't bring herself to be seriously enthusiastic about her track.  I forget her exact quote, but there was a lot of giggling and sentiment along the lines of "Sure, what the hell, I'd sing this in front of an audience.  Not because it's, you know, actually good or anything, but cuz it'd be fun."  Then again, all signs point to Lita actually having, you know, decent taste in music and some actual first-hand experience (she played bass back in the day, although not nearly as well as a certain world-renowned Internet Wrestling Personality, I'm quite sure!).  And then there was Rikishi, who kept more of a poker face.  In fact, I wasn't sure exactly WHAT he thought of his track, a Barry-White-esque love song called "Put Some Ass on It."  But I know what I think about the idea...
    And that was without getting even a taste of Kurt Angle's spoken word piece which I think is titled something like "I Do Not Suck."
    Actually, the Shatner comparisons probably aren't exactly fair.  The tracks of his I've heard from the 70s were funny specifically because of his performance.  In the case of "WWE Originals," studio technology exists that had every single superstar sounding pretty good, performance-wise.  It's just a question of the material they're performing generating a few unintentional chuckles.  Unlike the first two Wrestling Albums, I don't think they mean to be kind of hokey and tongue-in-cheek here....  the vibe might be more along the lines of "Girls in Cars" and "Turn it Up" (you know, the They Weren't Being Serious, Were They? vibe) and less along the lines of Nikolai Volkoff's touching "Cara Mia" or "Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield" (the Laugh With Them, Not at Them vibe).
    So there: "WWE Originals" comes out tomorrow.  For better or for worse.  As long as the guys (and girls) involved had fun, then I say it does no harm.  And maybe, just maybe, one or two of the tracks actually will be good enough to have legs.  The Dudleys' one wasn't too shabby, actually, at least from the 30 seconds they played on TV. 
  • The other item of interest from Confidential was the Main Event Inside the Ropes, with special guest Steve Austin.  It started out with about 10 minutes of mostly predictable banter between Austin and Coach.  But the final two questions were kind of interesting....
    First, there was something about a beer endorsement deal, and Austin's response was along the lines of he's too edgy a personality to get an endorsement deal, but then he also let slip that there's a good chance that Stone Cold Beer will end up on store shelves before too long.  Now, without having any idea how good or bad the product would be, I will still say that I could see this working pretty well.  I mean, I've drank many shitty things just so I can have the empty bottle with the cool label/name on display above my bar.  That is to say, I've drank many shitty ALCOHOLIC things; I had no interest in JR's Barbeque Sauce, not even with it's cute little hat for a cap and not when the fine sauce from the Montgomery Inn (where the ribs are so world famous that celebrities such as Bob Hope would have them flown cross-country when he couldn't enjoy them in Cincinnati) is so readily available in stores here!  So at the very least, I think the Stone Cold beer thing could be an interesting, short-lived experiment... and maybe if they team up with a decent brewery, it could be something that'd have legs.  Then again, if Austin's favorite beer really is Miller Lite, maybe we shouldn't get our hopes up for anything better than fizzy yellow pee water.

    And then, my friends, the capper...  Coach's tenth question was, "If you only had one more Stunner to give on this Earth, to whom would you give it?"  (except Coach probably didn't actually say "whom," because it's so uncool to use proper grammar).  Austin ran down the laundry list of names you'd expect, like Vince and the Rock... but in the end, he settled on....
    I find that to be a really interesting twist.  Austin's got a match or two left in him, by all counts.  Just last week, I laid out a reader-suggested scenario for how Austin vs. Goldberg at WMXX could work, too...  I guess part of me just doesn't see how Austin would throw that answer out there without some logical reason.  Unless "fucking with the smarks" is reason enough for that crafty bastard.
    Which it might be.  I don't know.  
  • The major indie events that took place over the weekend wound up being roundly-applauded by those who attended.
    MLW's return from hiatus drew a total of around 600 paid fans combined for two back-to-back shows in Orlando on Friday and Saturday night (with the Saturday crowd being the bigger of the two).  Closer to 400 fans showed up for the Saturday show, on the strength of its Terry Funk vs. Steve Corino barbed wire MLW Title match.  That show also had Raven and Vampiro working a Falls Count Anywhere match, and concluded with a hot brawl that saw JJ Dillon show up to swerve the Samoan Island Tribe and help the Extreme Horsemen retain the tag titles.  The Friday show was headlined by Homicide defeating Low Ki in the Match of the Night, on a card that was, generally-speaking, less "sexy" in a box office appeal sort of way.
    Homicide also contributed half of the Match of the Night on Saturday, when he flew up to Wilmington, OH, to participate on the Ring of Honor event there.  There, AJ Styles provided the competition, and the two absolutely tore the house down, according to my On the Scene reporters.  The RoH show drew a crowd of around 500 (estimated, it was not quite as big a crowd as when RoH ran in Dayton back in August, however), and had them rocking all night.  Also on the card: Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels, CM Punk, and a few HWA workers to flesh out the usual RoH roster with locals.
  • And I guess last thing before I go today...
    I'd be remiss if I didn't respond to the many e-mails that Friday's column of potential "prophecies" generated.  Sadly, I think it would be wildly inappropriate of me to confirm or deny the accuracy of your interpretations.  I mean, that's the fun of it, right?  
    I'll say this: if I could somehow speak to this mysterious "Scaiadamus" character, I think he'd want to tell you:
    Scaling the mountain of obfuscation,
    The wise men have yet to reach the peak.
    Little do they know it is a goal unattainable,
    A tithing of absurdity will stop them.

    Or something like that.  Maybe.  He was an odd one, that Scaiadamus, and I'm sure he appreciates the efforts, if nothing else.  Also, a bunch of people are having fun trying to decipher the meanings of the 50 quatrains over in the OO Forums....
    That's it.  I'm out.  See you with the RAW Recap tomorrow, then spoilers and other news on Wednesday.  And the kick-ass Year in Review one of these days.


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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