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SD!, Ratings, TNA's Celebrity Showdown,
House Show Stuff, and More...
January 30, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Remember how I said that the Titanic Showdown between A-10 rivals the Dayton Flyers and Xavier Musketeers would be on ESPN?  Well, I lied.  For purposes of scheduling, ESPN has again selected the UD/XU game at Cincinnati's 10,000 seat, antiseptic, personality-free Cintas Center (which happens in a few weeks, I'm assuming during ESPN's Rivalry Week), instead of Dayton's 13,000-seat, rocking, rolling, non-corporately-named University of Dayton Arena.

So unless you've got the FOX Sports digital package or the A-10 Network in your area, don't both looking for The Rick and The Flask in the front row on Saturday.  Oh wait, you don't know about that unpleasantness....  which is good.  I can't have you losing what little respect you've got for The Me due to my unintended television appearances!

I can have you lose it all just by doing a crappy, contractually-obligated wrestling column:

  • Man alive, SD! made it a clean sweep for WWE this week.  Strong Rumble PPV.  Strong RAW.  And last night, a strong SmackDown...
    Between the match, the opening promo, and all the Dawn Marie/balls skits and various angles (including Kurt and the Eddie being hospitalized one), the SD-only Rumble comprised over half of the show, and not a moment of it was lacking.
    The Heyman/Vince showdown was gold, with Paul E. pulling out the kind of "smart" references that actually make sense in context and don't seem forced or unnecessarily Russo-tastic.  The "Screw Chris Benoit" speech was, I think, Paul's best work since returning to WWE.  Having Vince sit there, mute, throughout the whole thing was nice, too: I know Vince has his own "style," but he could learn a thing or two about economy of language from Paul.  Make the air coming out of your cakehole mean something, dammit....
    Spoiler reports made the backstage number drawing/ball-joke segments seem stupid and silly... but by and large, they were actually quite fun.  Special commendation to the one with John Cena and Rhyno, which featured the requisite ogling of Dawn along with Cena's punchline of "Yo Paul, get your boy Rhyno some soap" and Paul's perfect response ("You know, that's really not funny" in a long-suffering voice).
    Eddie being KO'ed backstage not only served to make his Rumble showing more heroic later on, but also jump-started a Chavo vs. Rey feud, which should be excellent.  And I'm just waiting for the revelation, be it next week or next month, that it wasn't Chavo, but actually Kurt Angle who orchestrated the attack.
    Then the mini-Rumble itself was awesome.  From the get-go, it was excellent, with Angle starting as a babyface against three heels (including a nice little bit with Charlie Haas, which also provided me with another 5 seconds of evidence that Haas is getting it together on the charisma/personality side of things and will end up being, in reality, everything that WWE apparently thinks that Randy Orton should be).  Then the ring filled up over the course of 20 minutes (and two commercial breaks, which both seemed nicely timed and didn't hurt the flow of the Rumble as much as I'd feared), with a ton of cool stuff interspersed (like Big Show channeling Andre the Giant some more).  And then when it came down to Eddie vs. Angle, Angle was sort of the de facto heel (huge crowd support for Eddie), and the two did great work.  With the story being that Angle entered the match at #1 and was feeling the burn, while Eddie was making a heroic return from the hospital and was also not at 100%, the two did great chain wrestling, some high spots, and did so many teased eliminations that it put me in the mind of Bret/Owen SummerSlam '94 in terms of a cage match that has a TON of false cage escapes.  Just awesome.
    Throw in a Rey/Noble 10 minute match that eclipsed the PPV showdown in every way, a very watchable tag title defense for the Bashams against the potentially-here-to-stay team of Kidman and London, and an effective showing for Brock Lesnar (especially in his promo against Goldberg), and you got yourself an outstanding show.
    You can get the full report in Big Danny T's SD! Recap.
  • The prelim rating for last night's show is a 3.5, which should translate to about the same final rating (plus or minus a tenth or two, at most).  SD! seems like its right back where it was last autumn, before it lost a ton of momentum with Thanksgiving, Xmas, and New Years all hitting on Thursday nights....
  • Although it's been on the books for months, WWE only today OFFICIALLY announced that they'll be holding a Hall of Fame induction ceremony as part of WrestleMania weekend in NYC (on the night before WM).
    The cost for fans: $200, which includes food and an open bar at a pre-ceremony reception (where you can mingle with current superstars), the ceremony itself, and then a post-ceremony autograph-session/meet-and-greet with the inductees.  Sounds like it should be a really good time... and if somebody wanted to pony up for my airfare and lodging, I'd say $200 is a mighty fair price on the grounds that I'd slay that open bar.
    WWE hasn't started hyping this on TV, yet, but apparently, they intend to announce the inductees in the coming weeks.  With this being the 20th anniversary of WM (and with there being no HoF inductees since, I think, 1996), this oughta be a pretty star-studded class.  I'd certainly begrudge no one the right to start thinking this would be a perfect excuse to promote Bret Hart as being part of the weekend, for instance....

    WWE is also doing a brunch on WM Sunday itself.  Sounds like basically the sort of craptacular spread (bagels, danish, muffins, fruit, and maybe a microwave to heat them up) that you find set out for you every morning at your finer cheap-ass motels.  Except that there will be WWE Superstars on hand to mingle with.  Only $110!
    Tickets for both events will go on sale NEXT Saturday through the WWE Shopzone website, which means no additional TicketBastard charges.
  • While you might let your mind wander to grand schemes involving Bret Hart or Hulk Hogan or Roddy Piper for the WWE-sanctioned HoF event, there will also be a crew of other legends in the NYC area on WM weekend.
    Running from 8am till 5pm (roughly 2 hours before the start of the HoF event), a "Fan Slam" convention with a WM1 theme will be taking place just across the bridge in New Jersey.  Confirmed as participating are: Ricky Steamboat, Bobby Heenan, Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, Tito Santana, Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Lou Albano, Bob Orton, Buddy Rose ("The Executioner" at WM1), David Sammartino, the Fabulous Moolah, and Leilani Kai.  With the way the day was scheduled, it wouldn't surprise me to see some or most of these folks at the WWE induction ceremony later in the night.
    Tickets to get into the event are just $15 in advance, but it sounds like the day is an ingeniously-conceived scheme to take you for a much bigger chunk of change if you want to, you know, actually do anything (like get autographs or sit in on Q&A sessions).  You can get the full rundown at www.FanSlamWrestling.com.
  • About a zillion folks sent along a link to a recent IGN news item about Kevin Nash being "stabbed" by Mickey Mantle during a fight scene on the set of "The Punisher." 
    It was actually a very minor incident back during filming, but with the movie's release coming up in just 2 months or so, I guess they're trying to get a buzz going by leaking out information that makes it sound like there will be particular intense action in the movie....
  • A week after TNA got almost no mainstream attention for the debut of "Survivor" cast-off Jonny Fairplay, they are getting plenty of press after this week's show, where Fairplay crossed paths with Chicago Bear All-Pro linebacker (and wrestling fan) Brian Urlacher.
    The combined celebrity showdown was enough to get TNA coverage from both the entertainment and sports media.  Though Fairplay has signed a TNA contract, I think the Urlacher thing was just a one-night deal, so we'll have to see what develops from this for TNA....
  • Also getting a ton of press, in a barely-tangential-to-wrestling sort of way: Rod "He Hate Me" Smart.  The memorable XFL star is returning kicks for the Panthers, and has been a big hit during media week leading up to the Super Bowl.
    Although XFL MVP Tommy Maddox is probably the biggest talent to come out of the league's single season and make it in the NFL, "He Hate Me" is getting press coverage because of his nickname and charisma.  One article I saw noted that Smart trademarked the "He Hate Me" thing and has plans to merchandise it after the season...  
    Wow, between this and Steve Austin still wearing XFL jerseys during his personal appearances (c'mon, admit it, you saw that, too and made a smart-ass comment just like I did back on "Heat"), the XFL lives on!
  • Got a few e-mails from folks who caught Jim Rome's radio show yesterday, and apparently, there was only one comment of interest the entire time.  Considering what an insightful and not-at-all-douchebag-ish guy Rome is, I'm stunned by the lack of intelligent discourse!
    Anyway, Rock made the usual noises about how there's so much he wants to accomplish in Hollywood but that he also loves wrestling and might not ever be able to completely leave it behind, but then announced that he'll be at WrestleMania 20 in a "one night only" capacity.
    That kind of caught folks by surprise, as there was originally thought to be a schedule in place that would allow the Rock to show up for a few weeks prior to Mania to set up a storyline and a match at the PPV.  It's unclear if Rock was just speaking about WM being the lone big match of his comeback, or if he literally meant he was only going to be coming back to WWE for a one-night appearance.....  
    Something to keep an eye on in the next few weeks, anyway.  I think Rock does his work for "Stay Cool" starting up in the next week or two, and then the thought was he'd be clear by the end of February to show up on RAW (or SD!, if it beckoned, instead).
  • Speaking of being beckoned by the other brand, Chris Benoit's jump to RAW is in full force.  He's starting RAW brand house shows this weekend, with the first one coming tomorrow night.  Right here.  In Dayton, OH.
    Where's my cheap pop?
    Oh, right.  I'm the only one who likes it here.
    Anyway, the start of Benoit's RAW run will probably be going down without Yours Truly.  As previously discussed, the RAW show is not exactly tomorrow's hottest ticket in town, and by the time evening rolls around, I'll probably be fully kruesened and not at all interested in seeing if anybody wants to drive 20 minutes north of town to drop $30 on a RAW brand show.  That said, I DO endorse WWE's decision to return to the Hara Arena (for the past 12 years, they've run exclusively at the slightly-less-in-the-middle-of-nowhere Nutter Center).  Hara's the right building for wrestling, gun and knife shows, tough man contests, and rock shows. Nutter's better for basketball and Michael Bolton concerts.  Although I'm sure the boys probably disagree with me...  backstage at Hara, unless they've upgraded significantly since the last ECW PPV there, is not exactly plush....
    What was my point?  Oh yeah, that Benoit's starting RAW brand house shows this weekend.  His opponent around the horn?  Batista.  And you're still wondering why I didn't want the guy to jump shows...  Benoit/Batista is third from the top behind Kane/Jericho and RVD/Orton.  
    Benoit's also been officially added to the RAW tour of Asia that happens next week.  
  • Also joining RAW house shows this weekend is Nova, who'll work under his real name, Mike Bucci.  Although Nova/Bucci would more logically fit in over on SD!, where he could have killer matches in the CW division, I wonder if he might actually bring back the original SuperNova gimmick, which would be perfect for an angle with the Hurricane.....
  • And I think that's about it for me this week.  Here's the last plug for the Year in Review.  Once it's February, I won't pimp it any further, no matter how much I, personally, think it rules.  So check it out now, while the checking is good.
    See you 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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