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SD! Thoughts/Rating, Hogan's Plan,
WWE Originals, TNA's Newest Star, More...
January 16, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


If you think I'm bringing the heat today, you're sorely mistaken.  Just a couple of random newsbites, the odd bit of pointless rambling, and that's it for me.  So do both of us a favor: go read Scotty's Best of ECW Piece.  The Numbers Ones on his lists went up today, and there are links to the other parts of the series on that page.

It's good stuff.  There's some ECW memories in there that I hold as dear as he does... and a few that I'd somehow lost over time, but was plenty happy to be reminded of.  So check it out.

After you breeze through this little column will be fine:

  • It's actually kind of serendipitous that ECW's got the spotlight today, on the third anniversary of its final PPV... because the company figured prominently on last night's SmackDown!.
    OK, maybe not prominently, but it was mentioned directly twice and referenced in passing another time... and that's more love for ECW than we've seen on any WWE show since the end of the inVasion.
    No doubt, John Cena and Rhyno had the best match of the night on SD!, and it was thanks to a very effective bit of rehabilitational work done on Rhyno's behalf.  Building off a one-line joke by Cena in the opening promo, Paul Heyman boosted Rhyno up with a pep talk that referenced Rhyno's (well, actually RHINO's) dominating past in ECW... and then, to turn the main event in Rhyno's favor, Heyman ordered that Rhyno would be competing under "ECW Rules" (read, "no rules") while Cena would be competing under Zero Tolerance rules.  The end result was a really intense and dramatic match; after months of wasting the guy, WWE finally found a way to make Rhyno a plausible upper card guy.
    Question is, Do they intend to keep it up?  I hope so... the idea of Rhyno as Heyman's muscle, benefiting from the boss' influence, makes me think the Fed does have a plan for the Man Beast.  One other than "Let him fade away quietly so nobody makes a stink when we release him," I mean.  So that said, of course look for Rhyno to earn the ire of Heyman next week on SD!, become a tepid babyface as a result, and then, natch, fade away quietly.
    SD! as a whole was really fun: not only was the main event a good match/brawl, but the post-match bit with Benoit and Cena feeding Heyman soap was, against all conventional wisdom, extremely entertaining.  The "Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap Match" stip sounded really lame, forced, and stupid at first, but they paid it off with a nice climax.  Nobody shows ass quite like Heyman.  And with good reason: nobody can get his heat back by being a phenomenal asshole quite like Heyman, either.  Cena and Benoit best watch out next week.
    The Father/Son Beatdown segment was kind of neat, as well.  It's always a risk when you send a non-performer out there, solo, to cut a 3 minute promo... but Chavo Sr. did a decent job, and then once Eddie showed up, and then Chavo Jr., it was all gold.  I kind of hope they bring Chavo Sr. back for at least one more week: I think a "Who are you to talk to me about how I raised  my son, bro?  You're the one who taught him to lie, cheat, and steal!" type promo would put the icing on the cake, and also (assuming this is the plan) lay the foundation for why Kurt Angle has gotten involved and will turn heel on Eddie in the coming weeks (for promoting the lying, cheating, and stealing, instead of virtues like the Three I's).
    Tajiri/Noble was a let-down; I'm not sure, but based on two spoiler reports I got, I thought it'd be longer (maybe they cut it in post-production?).  But it was still good and solid while it lasted.  The other match that stepped up was the Bashams vs. Haas/Benjamin.  To think that about one year ago, all four guys were down in OVW, and now they're having matches this good on WWE TV (and one of the teams is wearing the gold)...
    The win-your-way-into-the-Rumble matches with the FBI and Scotty/Rikishi were not so spectacular, but served their purposes.  And speaking of sucking as a wrestling match but really delivering the goods, entertainment-wise: Big Show vs. Funaki was a nothing if not for Show's selling of the neck injury and Lesnar's oh-so-noble effort to stand right by Show's side (where Show's 50 foot restaining order on Bob Holly would conveniently enough protect Brock as well).  As it was, Show/Lesnar/Holly turned in a nice little show-arcing story; taken out of the main event slot, it didn't seem forced down our throats and clicked as a nice underneath issue.
    Pretty strong show, I thought.  You can get the full report, however, courtesy of Big Danny T's SD! Recap.
  • The prelim rating for last night's show is a 3.3.  As is now custom, I'll tell you that the final number should come in close to that, but that it might fluctuate as much as 2 tenths in either direction.
    I'll have the final rating on Monday.  [And again, I forgot to do the weekly reminder, so Battle of the Brands will have to wait till Monday, too.  And this week, it might actually be pretty close.  I liked SD! better, but RAW was a good show, too.]
  • NWA-TNA has made it official... they have signed John "Johnny Fairplay" Dalton to a contract.  Why do you care?  Because "Johnny Fairplay" is the heel persona adopted by Dalton on last season's top-rated "Survivor" on CBS.  
    So, apparently, the idea is that 30 million or so "Survivor" fans know who this guy is, which logically must translate into a boost for TNA's significantly smaller fanbase.   
    Dalton was actually trained as a pro wrestler before his appearance on "Survivor" and after he started going into his heel gimmick and dropping wrestling terms on the show, most wrestling fans who watch "Survivor" assumed it was only a matter of time before he got a contract with either WWE or TNA.  So here's your answer: after remarkably little interest from WWE (who, at most, were goign to offer him a developmental deal), Johnny Fairplay is going to TNA.  His first show is next Wednesday night.
    Personally, I haven't seen but 25 minutes of "Survivor" in all the four years it's been on TV.  I'm sure there will be some minor cross-over impact here, but mostly, I am interested in what Dalton can do in the ring and on the mic now that he's pursuing wrestling as a career.  I don't think very many wrestling fans are going to be much more forgiving than me, either, just because he's a reality TV "star" entering his 13th minute of fame.
    If Johnny Fairplay brings it hard and strong, then he could make WWE look stupid for not giving him a shot....  if he doesn't.... well, let's just say there's not one among you who is wondering what ever happened "The Bachelor," who was also apparently a trained wrestler...
  • And speaking of TNA, there has been almost no fresh word on exactly what their plans are for a proposed full-price, 3-hour Sunday night PPV.  And there may be a very good reason why...
    Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart are apparently looking into starting their own wrestling company (with TV tapings based out of Universal Studios Orlando).  This is per a Jimmy Hart radio interview on Wednesday.  All the usual suspects (relative old timers and cronies of Hogan) were mentioned as participants, and from the e-mail I got on the subject, I'm just gonna go ahead and call this "XWF 2K4" for lack of a better name.
    Now, looking into a new company like this does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of Hogan working for TNA...  but I think it at least introduces a serious question mark where previously, there were only lingering doubts.  And if there's no Hogan, can there be a TNA full-price PPV?
    My sources say "No."  Back when TNA scheduled their Sunday night event for last November, it was contingent upon Hogan's participation.  When Hogan went down with knee surgery, the show was yanked because distributors didn't want to be on the hook for a show that would suddenly be little bigger of a draw than what TNA produces on Wednesday nights.
    Might TNA be able to put together a package of other top-drawing wrestlers (Sting, Luger, maybe a special appearance by Bret Hart) that would convince PPV distributors to give them a shot on Sunday night at $30 a pop?  Maybe, and depending on further cuts/resignations from the WWE roster, they might even be getting some more help...  but the Stings and Lugers and Harts are guys who would more likely gravitate towards a proposed Hogan/Universal promotion, so, there's kind of a slippery slope, here...
    It'll be interesting to see if Jimmy Hart was spouting anything more than hot air, and if not, what this means for TNA's plans...
  • I will say this one thing and then be done with the Hogan issue:  if he and Hart are seriously pursuing this, I think it greatly increases the chances of Hogan making a cameo run in WWE for WrestleMania XX.  Even if it's just a one-night thing at the event itself, Hogan's a savvy enough self-promoter to know that getting back out there after a near year-absence is a smart move if he's going to be trying to start up a promotion leveraged largely on his own household name.  He'd probably do the appearance at a reasonable rate of pay.  And Vince is savvy enough to know that an affordable Hogan is a guy who practically NEEDS to be on the WMXX PPV if the show is really gonna seem special.
  • Speaking of guys making special appearances leading up to WMXX, that fits The Rock to a T.  He's expected to be around for a few weeks leading up to the show, as last reports had the producers of "Be Cool" shuffle their filming schedule so that he could be done in time to return to WWE in late February/early March and get a few weeks of TV in before the PPV.
    Don't know what, at this point, they will do with Rocky at the show, but one of the best ideas I've seen in e-mail involved HHH dropping the belt to Michaels at the Rumble, and then getting involved backing up Randy Orton against Mick Foley.  The two-on-one feud could go on for a few weeks, and then BAM, when Rock's ready to return, he shows up to save Mick, and at WMXX you can do a nice big Rock 'n' Sock Connection vs. HHH/Orton match that would go over huge with fans and still exist as kind of a sidebar so as not to disrupt any other more important on-going issues (in other words, Rock and Mick can just evaporate after the show, and no harm done).
    Rock is presently on the last leg of some international promotion for "The Rundown" (which is actually back to being called "Welcome to the Jungle" in at least some foreign markets), which is opening in Mexico, the UK, and a few other places this weekend.  The overseas haul for the movie should push it into the profitable range (and if not, DVD/video sales will), even though the domestic grosses were probably a bit disappointing to those involved.
    Then it's on to "Be Cool" where he plays a gay Samoan bodyguard with dreams of becoming a song and dance man.  And then, hopefully in the next 6 weeks or so, it's back on WWE TV for a quick run.
  • And I have been, ahem, lucky enough to get a listen to "WWE Originals" in the last two days...  I'm not so sure I'd be as charitable as Matt Hocking was in his Album Review on Wednesday, either.
    I'd lean more towards the opinions I had based on the "Confidential" segment I recapped in my Monday column: that there are very good reasons why Lita was giggling when trying to convince us her track was "fun" if not necessarily good, and why Rikishi was giving us a stone cold poker face when discussing a love song titled "Put Some Ass on It."
    I'll say this much: the Dudleys track, Jericho's track, and the Lillian Garcia track are the closest the album comes to hitting the mark.  The first two are intense and "in character" enough that they would make plausible entrance theme's.  Not to fuck with Jericho's set-up, but if he turns face, they could do worse if they decide to change his theme.  And Lillian's song, well, it's not great shakes, not by a long shot, but the fact that she can, you know, actually sing is quite apparent.  Amidst an album full of speaking/rapping and limited vocal ranges that seem like they were probably very pitch-doctored as well, I couldn't help but appreciate an actually complex melody sung well.
    Time will tell if Matt's right about Kurt's track being so bad it's good.  For now, it just strikes me as bad, and the fact that you can kind of tell Kurt's clearly NOT trying to be good or cool is somehow less funny to me than when Shatner was clearly convinced he was making art...  we'll see how "I Don't Suck (Really)" ages.  And if I was going to let my unbecoming grown-man-schoolboy-crush affect my assessment of the record, I'd be a lot more likely to say I liked Trish's track than Stacy's.  Both are completely generic representatives of their genres.  But Stacy's genre is just unlistenable club crap.  Where as Trish's is a mostly inoffensive pop song that for some reason reminded me of a song from the Jeff Lynne record that came out when I was in like 8th grade (but I can't put my finger on it, and I don't have the CD anymore, either, to see what made me think that). 

    And for chrissakes Jim Johnston, I'm begging you:  get a studio drummer for the songs that aren't straight up dance/rap tracks.  It's especially bad on Jericho's track, where you've got this supposedly rocking guitar riff underlaid by an awful drum machine beat and those always-fake-sounding cymbals. At least, I'm assuming he used a drum machine on all of these.  It's either that, or somebody has no freaking idea how to mic drums.
    My vote, overall: save your money. It was a chore for me to sit through the entire songs: my instinct was to hear the opening 45 seconds, say "OK, I got the picture", and FF to the next track.  Nothing really reached out and grabbed me.
  • Alrighty, that's it.  When album reviews are the order of the day, I know I'm scraping bottom.  So I'll just pack it in and see you on Monday.  With the 2003 Year in Review, hopefully.


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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