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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW Stuff, SD! Injury Report,
Costas, DVDs, and Other Midweek News
January 28, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

First thing: apparently, there's another new worm/virus making the rounds, and it's a particularly pesky one.  So if you sent me an e-mail in the past two days (especially if you gave it an innocuous subject header like "Hi" or "Hello" or "[BLANK]"), there's a chance it might have been lost in the slash in burn of over 2000 infected messages.

Damn, 2000 messages in two days.  I haven't been THAT popular since Thursdays and Fridays after a new edition of "The Rick Says" on WrestleLine...

Just a heads-up in case you sent something particularly important and didn't hear back from me. 

  • I mostly said my piece about RAW in yesterday's Recap...  but as is custom, I'll find still more to say today.
     
    First and foremost, I caught a few e-mails about my displeasure with the Benoit-to-RAW story.  A few of you noted (quite fairly) that I was probably underwhelmed by Benoit's RAW return mostly just because I was going in with my negative mindset.  Fair enough.  Others said, "Just give it time, and they will explain it sensibly."  Which is also fair, except that I've now been waiting for a month for somebody to explain this Sheriff thing, and it looks like I might as well just get used to it.
     
    I grant that there are plenty of ways for additional storyline elements to play out in coming weeks to make Benoit on RAW logical and compelling.  All sorts of things with Bischoff and Heyman wrangling and getting Goldberg on SD!, or with Benoit coming right out to say he used a loophole to jump just to fuck with Heyman after Heyman fucked with him, or things along those lines.  I also don't know just how much of me was joking when I said that the way it'd all be worthwhile is if Bret Hart showed up at WM20 to help Benoit beat Shawn Michaels for the title in a kick-ass main event.  I mean, I know I wasn't joking that that'd be super-sweet; but most of me knows I have to be joking about it being a plausible out because it soooooo reeks of smark wet dream.
     
    Anyway, let me have my one week of again ragging on the lack of logic or context for a RAW swerve, and if they fix it next week, I'll eat my crow.  I'm good about that.  But if they just keep plugging forward without an explanation, then I'll lump this in with "Sheriff Austin's Nonsensical Return" and start campaigning for somebody at WWE to take the "Slow It Down" movement and apply it to the writers, too.  You know, make them look at the big picture and make sure they're TELLING THE DAMN STORY, instead of rushing from high spot to high spot.
     
    You want a story told at exactly the right pace and with exactly the right attention to detail:  you had it with Mick Foley's main event promo.  In 6-7 weeks since his walk-out, they played up the coward angle just right, and made Mick's escape from his cocoon that much more of a "Hell Yeah" moment.  At the Rumble it was more visceral.  Then on RAW, it was the full explanation (part hardcore Cactus, and part Mankind inner dialogue psychobabble, but all very compelling) with another, more dramatically built-to physical climax.  By stretching it out, they not only helped set the perfect tone for the return of Mick's "hatred," but they also made it easier to portion the remaining parts of the story out in small bitesize pieces in the 6 more shows prior to WM20 (where I'm assuming they'll just do Foley/Orton, but where I'd RATHER, as I said in the RAW Recap, see them consolidate the non-regular workers by doing HHH/Orton vs. Rock/Foley, which might even allow for Foley/Orton as a solo blow-off at like SummerSlam or something).
     
    A story that I can't even tell if it's at the right pace or not: the Jericho/Christian/Trish thing.  The past six weeks or so has been a bit annoying, with characters locked into some unflattering behavior (Jericho all whipped, Trish all oblivious and bitchy, Christian all third-grade).  Now, after the past two weeks, we kind of ARE in a spot where I could totally see a holding pattern (as Jericho and Trish try to figure out how to escape the ever-popular Just Friends scenario, which is the more reasonable and relatable way of building up the "They obviously love each other, so why don't they just get together, already, dammit?!?" frustration in fans compared to what they did the last month)... but at the same time I could NOW take a month-long holding pattern, all signs point to the next big step happening next week.  Christian's Dickweed Quotient was off the charts this week, and when he and Jericho don't win the tag titles next Monday, I can see that being the official face turn for Jericho (or heel turn for Christian, whichever seems more applicable to you), which in turn means Christian won't be able to act as the filter between Trish and Jericho (since neither will trust him to talk to him, anymore, they'll be forced to *GASP* get their information directly from each other), which means that storyline heads down the homestretch, too.  So maybe this one started just right, then went way too slow, now it's going too fast, I don't know... but if nothing else, the bit on Monday was really good and regardless of pacing set things up very nicely for next week.
     
    Throw in the main event caliber match that actually opened the show, and the pre-Benoit portion of the HHH/HBK promo (which, if I may presume, essentially guaranteed us another kick-ass FREE Michaels/HHH title match on RAW at some point in the next few weeks) and I think there was plenty of sizzle and steak on RAW.  Good outing, and an effective start down the road to WrestleMania.
     
    Again, check the RAW Recap if you want the full details from the show. 
     
  • The rating for last nights show was an impressive 4.0 cable rating.  That's a gain of 0.4 points from the week before, and the Fed's first visit over the 4 Barrier since the week ending September 5, 2003.
     
    That could indicate strong interest in the Rumble outcome(s), or a steadily growing audience that really wanted to see what Mick Foley had to say, or something else entirely.  But no matter how you slice it, it's good news for WWE.
     
  • The post-RAW, send-the-live-crowd-home happy special ending was a doozy on Monday night.  On the order of 45 minutes of beer-drinking and mic work by Steve Austin and others, and really, really fun.
     
    It started out with Mick Foley (after running off Evolution) talking to the crowd about his good friend (a sick kid in the front row) and how Mick had a great time spending the day with him and helping him make a sign for the show and everything.  Mick had the crowd chanting the kid's name when it was said and done.
     
    Then Goldberg and Benoit both came down, and Goldberg talked about another sick kid with whom HE had spent the day, and got the crowd to chant HIS name.  The guys seemed really genuine in their affection for the kids, and the kids seemed to eat it up.
     
    But OK, enough feel good time.  Out comes Steve Austin, who hands out a good case of beer to everybody, and they chug 'em down (not so much spilling, either, causing at least one on-site reporter to suggest that by the end, Austin was wearing a serious buzz, which might have explained his giddiness).  This went on for a bit, and then they invited timekeeper Mark Yeaton (the guy who tosses Austin his beers) into the ring for a few brewskis on the grounds that Hershey, PA, is his home town.  Then, for reasons that seemed odd at first but then grew in sagacity, Austin asked Lillian Garcia to come up into the ring to sing Mark "Happy Birthday."  Even though Mark's birthday isn't for another 6 months.  But Lillian did it.  And for her troubles?  You bet: that saucy little AC/DC "Back in Black" thing she had going on was drenched in beer by the time all was said and done.
     
    After playing with Lillian for a bit (she got to douse Austin, Goldberg, and Benoit, too... but Foley was long-gone by this point), Austin decided to embarrass Goldberg by announcing to the crowd that the big lug just got engaged.  You guessed it: they got the crowd to chant Goldberg's fiancÚ's name, too.
     
    This eventually degenerated into Austin taking the mic into the crowd and basically doing a nightclub act...  Goldberg and Benoit hung around and interacted with the crowd the whole while, too, and it was after midnight before they decided to wrap it up.  A great time, however, had been had by all.
     
  • A quick update on John Cena: despite the dreaded "X" after his awkward elimination from the Rumble, Cena did work SD! tapings last night.
     
    Two reports agree that he seemed to be favoring one leg visibly, but that he competed at pretty much full speed.  Don't know if they'll give him a weekend off of house shows to recoup fully, or what, but it looks like this is not that big a deal.  Either that, or Cena's just gonna tough it out, do his work, and not land himself in a doctor's office where he might hear it is a big deal.
     
    Full report on Cena's work (and everything else) last night in DC can be had in the OO SmackDown! Spoilers.  Your February No Way Out PPV main event is set, now, and they did it in a very interesting fashion...
     
  • The other SD! injury we need to talk about today is also looking like much better news than it could have been...
     
    Matt Morgan was stretchered out of a house show event in Reading, PA, on Monday night.  He was teaming with Brock Lesnar in a match against the tag team of Billy Gunn and Bob Holly, and landed badly after taking a clothesline-over-the-top-rope bump.  The match was immediately halted, and the show paused for several minutes as EMTs tended to Morgan.  
     
    Morgan was hospitalized overnight, but word today is that he was released on Tuesday morning, and is apparently doing OK.  Just a stinger and some temporary paralysis.  However, Morgan was off SD! tapings, and will be getting looked at more closely before returning to the road, just to be sure... if you recall, Steve Austin's problems all started with "just a stinger and some temporary paralysis," so better safe than sorry.
     
  • It took us a month, but 2004's logged its first wrestling death.  It may not mean anything to you newer fans, but anyone over the age of 25 or so will always remember "WWF President" Jack Tunney, who passed away this past weekend of a heart attack.  He was 68.
     
    Though he was presented as the "President" of the World Wrestling Federation, the title was entirely fictitious and for storyline purposes.  Tunney was actually a wrestling promoter who was integral to the then-struggling WWF's efforts to break into Canada and specifically the Toronto market.  The chance to take over events previously featuring local talents and touring NWA shows helped the WWF's stature at a key time, and the WWF's explosion in the mid-80s, in return, helped turn Toronto back into a big wrestling town.  It was a truly synergistic relationship, and Tunney was rewarded by Vince McMahon by being used several times per year as the on-air President starting in 1986.
     
    Jack Tunney was not a particularly engaging on-air personality, but my main memory of him is always thinking that something important was going to happen whenever he showed up.  Probably what some of the younger fans of today think about Linda McMahon...  in any case, Tunney would show up to make the tough rulings throughout the late 80s.  His appearances faded in frequency into the 90s, and I think around 1994, at the same time Tunney quit promoting Toronto wrestling, WWF finally announced that Jack Tunney had retired from his post as President, and installed Gorilla Monsoon in the figurehead role.
     
    Condolences go out to the family and friends of Jack Tunney...
     
  • Some WWE DVD news for you...  following the Foley and Monday Night War sets, the next pair of major DVD releases will come in about a month, on March 2.
     
    There will be a Kurt Angle compilation (apparently just a single disc, which seems like, even if the guy's only got 4 years under the belt, would miss a lot of good ground) and a John Cena disc (definitely and justifiably just the one disc) released next month, so keep an eye out.  There are also rumors that Undertaker and Steve Austin are the next candidates for the 2-disc "From the Vault" treatments; also, I honestly think we'll see a WWE-produced Bret Hart set before too long, as well.
     
    The next time the Fed goes to 3-discs?  I don't know if this is true or not, but one guy who works at a video distributor mailed in and said WrestleMania XX (when it is released in early May) is scheduled to be just such a set.  Figure the four-hour PPV split in two with a few extras on each disc, and then who knows what kind of goodness they might pack onto third disc....
     
    In essentially unrelated news, there are also two bargain bin DVDs that are hitting the streets this week or next, and one of them is another Taker disc (all in "dead man" mode from '90-'95 or so) that is just an hour of clipped matches and fluff.  The other quickie bargain bin disc is gonna be a Best of Confidential thing that would appeal only to people to lazy to operate their VCRs on Saturdays.  [I say "unrelated" because this marketing channel is the one the Fed uses to dump cheaply produced vids for "impulse buy" type outlets with an under $10 price tag; their primary home video operation is the over-$20 market where we get the good stuff.]
     
  • Before I forget, that "Best of Confidential" thing reminded me...  this past weekend's show certainly won't be showing up on any best-of collection.  The over-riding theme of the show was Rumble hype, with the feature piece being a history of the Rumble event (how it was the brainchild of Pat Patterson, how it was originally a special for USA Network, but then a PPV the next year)...
     
    Only problem is, somebody was asleep at the switch and got the dates all wrong.  They talked about there being only three PPVs on the WWF schedule prior to 1990, and how the Rumble match concept came into existence in "late 1989."  Seriously, I'm not suggesting WWE employ a hardcore master of all trivial happenings, but how about a cursory understanding of the past 20 years since the company took off, or at least a willingness to go back and check a few notes?
     
    The Rumble match concept was hatched by Patterson in 1987, and made it to USA Network in January 1988 (Jim Duggan won the 20 man event that year).  The first Rumble PPV was in January 1989 (Big John Studd won that one).  By 1990, the Rumble was in its third year.  I hope by railing against this heinous mistake, I do not seem like too much of a Star Trek Convention-type geek... I simply report the facts.  And the mistakes, when they are bad enough.
     
  • A WWE video/film project that never took off, "WrestleMania: The Movie," is being repackaged into a UPN special...
      
    When I first heard about it several weeks ago, I assumed it'd be a February Sweeps Month stunt to bolster UPN's ratings, but I just got confirmation yesterday that the air date will be Wednesday, March 3.  Which, unless I miss my guess, is NOT during February Sweeps.
     
    Anyway, it'll be one-part fluff piece hyping the legacy of WM, and one-part incorporating the reels of footage the filmed last year at WM19 in hopes of producing it as a feature film.  Should be kinda interesting... but you won't string me up if I say that I'm still a few years away from needing an update to the 8 hours of pre-WM2000 hype I got a few years ago when it comes to my WrestleMania Jones...
     
  • A few folks mailed in with word of Bob Costas doing a NYC radio interview on Monday...  and apparently he told a story about dining at a restaurant in Florida, when the McMahons (Vince and Linda McMahon, and Steph and HHH McMahon) came in and sat down a few tables away.  Apparently, HHH did some shtick (saying Costas better behave, cuz this time Vince had back-up), but it was all amicable, and Vince and Costas hugged after a brief chat.
     
    I guess y'all thought it was a fun story, and it is.  But your surprise that Vince and Bob Costas would be on good terms is misplaced.  After Vince's blustering 2002 appearance on Costas' HBO show (which had the net effect of making both guys look bad), Vince actually did a follow-up appearance last year and joking good-naturedly with Costas (which had the net effect of making both guys look pretty good).  Also, Costas agreed to be interviewed for last year's pre-WM special about his thoughts on wrestling and the spectacle of WWE.  They are friendly.
     
    I think you might have been thinking about Vince's appearance last June on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."  Costas, Gumbel, they're both white guys with little or no discernable athletic acumen who nevertheless cover sports, so your confusion is forgiven!  It was on that show that Vince did another classic angry dickhead interview with Armen Ketayian, who I'm assuming might not get a friendly hug from Vince if they met at a restaurant.
     
  • I talked on Monday about WWE doing its first ever show in Mexico (Monterrey on May 3, I believe I said).  In reporting that news, I expressed mild befuddlement that it would be the RAW brand invading Mexico, and not SD!...  SD!, I reasoned, would be the more logical geographic draw because the Guerreros, Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, and a few others were known for their lucha work down south of the border.
     
    Well, OO's resident Lucha Guy (well, actually, I guess he's really only our resident B-Show Guy, and my lack of attention span means he has to do the Lucha Thing on his own time) The Cubs Fan mailed in and straightened me out.  The explanation for RAW going to Mexico is quite simple:  RAW is the only brand that airs in Mexico.  Aha!  RAWs and PPVs, that's all.  So it'd be kind of stupid for SD! to think about going into Mexico.
     
    Which makes me look stupid for suggesting it.  I stand before you today completely humbled.
     
    Also: Sean "Val Venis" Morley is not an unknown in Mexico. And now that Benoit's confirmed as jumping to RAW, he's another guy who was well known in Mexico prior to WCW.  It's also not unusual for WWE to stock foreign tours with a handful of workers from the other brand if they think they can help draw (like Tajiri working RAW or Flair working SD! when both brands went to Asia). 
     
  • Remember a few months ago, when I said I ditched out on a band called Waterproof Blonde because I was only at that show to see friends in the two local bands that opened for them, and then felt like a dipshit when I realized I SHOULD have been interested in checking out the band that does Sean O'Haire's theme song and also, it turned out, has a crazy-hot singer? 
     
    Well, they passed through again this weekend, and I figured it's only fair to mention that I saw 'em, they were actually quite good (especially on a few songs they said were newer and were not as generically radio-friendly as a few other tunes).  The bass player, at one point, noted "You can see us on TV.  We're on rasslin'!", to which I ALMOST had the balls to shout back, "Not in the past six months, you haven't!".  Poor Sean O'Haire.  
     
    So if they visit your town, support Waterproof Blonde, and in so doing, support wrestling in some miniscule, barely cosmically significant way.  You'll have a good time.  Thus ends my Make-Good Testimonial.
     
  • A quick good luck shout-out to my old bud Dave Scherer.  In the controlled chaos of Joey Styles purchasing 1Wrestling.com, Dave and some of his crew have decided to move on to a new project, which you can check out at www.pwinsider.com.  If nothing else, I figure if Dave lays off the "Macho Man" ads, the new place will instantly be about one thousand times more visit-able than 1Wrestling lately....  ah, c'mon, I kid!
     
    Of course, my apparently kind-hearted gesture is also a chance for me to tip the cap to Joey and 1Wrestling for handling the departure with class (they even plugged Dave's new site for anyone missing him)... unlike a certain other Major Wrestling Site, who I might have been reminded of a little big ago when I typed the intro to this column, and who shut me down without so much as a phone call or a chance to tell readers "Hey, here's where I'll be from now one."  Not that I'm one to bear a grudge or anything....
     
  • I think that's all for me today.
     
    Remember, the Year in Review is freaking awesome.  In size, if in nothing else.  So read it.  In spurts, if you have to.  An hour here, an hour there, you'll get through it soon enough.
     
    And I'll be back with fresh material on Friday....  fair warning: it'll probably be slow on the news, which means I'll be ranting at length about the Titanic Showdown between Dayton and Xavier (Saturday on ESPN, with an ungodly Noon tip-off... which means there' s a 92% probability I'll still be on Friday night's buzz) and how I couldn't possibly care any less about the two teams in the Super Bowl.
     
    So you might save the last bit of the Year in Review for your weekend reading just, you know, to be on the safe side....
     

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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