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RAW, Austin's Agenda, Historic Hara,
And Other Week-Starting Newsbites
February 2, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, so I'm gonna need a little help from the ladies out there.  All, like, seven of you or whatever...

Do you all live in such fear of FCC fines and possible indecent exposure arrests that you've all taken to wearing protective stainless steel Nipple Armor at all times?  You know, on the off chance that some laughably irrelevant "solo artist" might sneak up on you and "accidentally" yank off your "tear-away vinyl top" during a nationally televised half-time "extravaganza" requiring a "sincere" apology thus fomenting discussion of an "incident" comprised of nothing more controversial than ALMOST showing one of your "naughty bits"?  I mean, I know I'm tragically unhip in many things, but in my travails, I have yet to be shocked by unexpected nipple armor... so what am I missing?

Note to Janet Jackson: if you're keen on drumming up some publicity for something other than what a fruit your brother is and realize that making out with Britney Spears has already been taken, then just lose the glorified pasties and take your act to Playboy, so we can download your pictures off the internet.  You know, like we all had to do last night when we heard about your little stunt after the game, since lord knows no guy in his right mind actually stayed put and watched the half-time show.  If it'll make you feel better, I'm sure we can convince Hef to snicker his way through a press release about how he can't believe something as offensive as pictures of your almost-bare boobies made it into his pristine and hallowed pages, and that it'll never, EVER happen again.  Note to Timberlake: if at all possible, please explain to me when 13-year-old girls became the target audience of the freaking SUPER BOWL, and then attempt to justify your existence.  Thank you, both.

And hey, prior to the rushed midnight run for for video captures and subsequent anti-climax, that was a hell of a football game we got, no?  What do you mean you couldn't care less about football?  You want me to start with the wrestling?  No?  

Ah, I got it: more TITS!  I'll try, folks.  I'll try:

  • Tonight on RAW, the big story will be how Rico and Miss Jackie follow up on last week's stunning victory over Rob Conway.  Of course, you'll remember that the win came thanks to Jackie's completely spontaneous and unplanned display of TITS!
    This week, RAW might try to play the "Dammit, WE Had the Idea to Get Permission from Viacom to Use a Girl Taking Her Top Off But Still Having Her Nipples Covered And Not Really Showing Anything As a Way To Trick People Into Being Interested First" Card.  Or perhaps Jackie will cut a lengthy, heartfelt promo revealing that her inspiration is now, and always has been, Janet Jackson, and that she'll CONTINUE to flash Rico on to victory after victory in an homage to her hero.
    Or perhaps the whole thing will just be left unmentioned on the grounds that last week's flash was mostly just a cheap tactic to give Lawler half-an-excuse to talk about Playboy featuring 2 WWE divas, and wasn't designed to have any long term bearing on anything this week.
    Then again, WWE is even less known for its discretion than I am, and recognizes chances for cheap pop culture cross-over references even when they don't, technically, actually exist.  So maybe Jackie SHOULD pack the nipple tape again this week...  I don't know.  About the only thing I'm sure of is that I'm reaching the end of my rope in so far as trying to find the halfway plausible way to keep Jackie and Breast Exposure as a primary topic...
    So maybe we'll talk about a few other things sure to feature prominently on RAW tonight.  Just pretend like you care.  The porn will still be there once you make it to the end of the column...
    The big thing we should probably hit on is the one match we know for sure will take place tonight:  Chris Jericho and Christian will face a Mystery Team with a title shot against Evolution on the line.  Funny, I SWEAR Christian said he got them the actual title shot last week; at least, that's what I put in the recap....  anyway, with Jericho and Christian on one side, you could put almost anybody else on the other side of the ring and still have a dandy wrestling match.  But I'm sure the real thrust of the match/storytelling will be on the slow dissolution of the Jericho/Christian partnership...  quite possibly due to Jericho again being distracted by just how damned awesome Trish Stratus is.
    We might not get the full implosion of Vitamin C tonight; in fact, unless they go with something wacky (since Christian orchestrated tonight's match, and they're playing up the mystery factor, another Christian/Bischoff "Battle of the Sexes" just might work, or some other tactic that puts Trish in between Jericho and the tag titles), the path I'd expect from WWE would be a standard tag match against some mid-card heels where the friction is kept to a minimum, and then Jericho/XTian actually do get the title shot next week... and THAT is when you have something happen that Christian construes as Jericho costing him the tag titles, and THAT is when you ignite the feud.  I certainly wouldn't mind something a bit more grand, but as I said last week, we're kind of in a reasonable pausing spot right now, with Jericho and Trish as the just-friends-who-both-want-to-be-more-than-friends, except that Christian is there acting as a filter and a nuisance to prevent that from happening...  so a few sparks, but no major explosion, might be the way WWE plays it tonight.
    I suspect that route because they've certainly taken their sweet time telling this story so far (one that I thought could, maybe even SHOULD, have been done a bit faster so that they would have blown off the feud at the Rumble PPV, or at the latest, on the February "free-per-view" version of RAW), and now, it looks like they might keep the tensions rolling between Jericho and Christian so that they're just hitting their stride at WMXX.
    It's something to consider, anyway... even after a full week of post-Rumble TV, we know shockingly little about any concrete WM matches.  And the ones we DO think we know about are ones that we have no idea HOW they'll play out:  Kane/Taker and Goldberg/Lesnar seem like locks, but at the present time, they are cross-brand matches, which means there's a lot of work to be done there on those fronts.
    But let's try to stay focused on RAW for today's discussion.  Jericho/Christian might be something they can keep rolling till Mania; certainly, there's nothing better waiting for either guy if they would end their rivalry early.  But then what for the rest of WM20 from the RAW side?  
    Foley/Orton seems like it's a big one.  But does a one-on-one match between those two really make the most sense?  At present, it'd have to be an IC Title match, which in turn probably translates into a crowd-displeaser of a finish in which Orton would go over.  That's why I'm such a champion of the Rock 'n' Sock vs. Orton/Partner concept.
    In my perfect world it'd be Orton/HHH...  with HHH dropping the World Title to Shawn Michaels here in the next couple weeks so that Michaels and Benoit have time to build to a one-on-one match.  But who knows if that's what the Fed's planning on?  I'd just say that, at this point, I'd consider Benoit/HBK just as plausible a Mania main event as Benoit/HHH or even the Benoit/HHH/HBK three-way that I had tossed at me a ton of times in e-mail.  Of all the options, I do, however, think Benoit/Michaels would be the best wrestling match (regardless of my previously mentioned smark wet dream involving Bret Hart's involvement), and also frees up HHH for a tag match in which he and Orton can lose to the visiting legends without it really MEANING anything in the grand scheme (unless taking the fall in the tag match would somehow result in HHH losing credibility with Evolution, who might turn to Orton as their leader or something, in which case the tag match deal provides the potential for EXTRA MEANING that would be impossible in any combination of singles matches for HHH and Orton).  But now I'm getting comically off-track.
    Point is, for all the exciting TV we got last week, we're still kind of wide open in terms of what the Fed is planning for WrestleMania 20.  Even on the undercard, the tag division on RAW is kind of up for grabs (do the Duds step up for another challenge?), and the women's division has about 4 viable contenders for Molly (who is WWE's current longest-reigning champion, so give the girl some credit there, kids) with no one really standing out above the others.
    So tonight should be an interesting and instructive night.  Some stuff like Foley/Orton you can just keep simmering without much trouble, and you can add more to it later if you want.  But we're gonna have to get a clearer picture of what's going on with the World Title, and we need it pronto.  Austin or Bischoff or somebody had best explain how they intend to give Shawn Michaels his rematch AND have Benoit get the WM title shot (both of which were promised last week), be it a three way, or be it Shawn and HHH going at it one more time for free on RAW sometime soon.
    That should be RAW's most important development tonight.  #2 on the list should be giving Benoit a chance to kick ass in his element (a match, not a promo) while the HHH/HBK thing sorts itself out.  #3 will maybe be addressing how Goldberg will end up going over to SD!.  #4 will be deciding how far and how fast to go with Christian/Jericho's break-up.  And then the rest can just be keeping stuff simmering/status quo'ing it (Foley/Orton, more Spooky Taker Tricks, and various tag and women's division water treading).  And you do that, and you got yourself a show! Well, that, and Jackie's tits.  
    Check the show out tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for the full recap, courtesy of Yours Truly.
  • The final rating for last week's SD! wound up being a 3.6, up a tick versus the prelim rating I had on Friday, and right on par with the previous week's number.  SD! continues on a pace similar to last fall's, prior to the holiday let-down.
    With RAW also doing its best number in months last week, the combined audience for WWE's two flagship shows was the highest it had been since the week ending September 5, 2003.  In fact, since I started keeping my little database (going back to last June), last week's showings for RAW and SD! were the third best single-week combined Nielsen ratings for WWE.
    And as encouraging as the ratings news is, there's another reason to be happy on WWE's behalf: because the larger-than-usual audience that tuned in for last week's shows got treated to VERY good programs.  While Mr. Nielsen was giving RAW and SD! the third-best combined ratings in the "Battle of the Brands" era, OO's staff stepped in and gave RAW and SD! the #1 Highest Combined Critics Ratings ever in BotB.
    For the week ending January 30, 2004, RAW and SD! combined for an 8.13 critics rating, the only time so far when the shows topped 8.0; the Nielsen ratings, by comparison, combined for a 7.0 (adjusted to broadcast for RAW's rating).  You can get last week's full ratings results (both Nielsen and OO versions) right here.
  • A few folks sent along a link to an interview with Steve Austin that appeared over the weekend in the UK tabloid, the Sun.
    Probably the most pressing thing to take away from the piece is that Austin doesn't expect to be competing at WM20 this year.  Although he says he'd be open to doing something like a streetfight (preferably with Vince, though he also talks about how Goldberg and Hogan are other guys he could draw money with), but that at this juncture, he doesn't think there's time to do it up right.  So he's thinking he'll be in some other capacity at Mania this time 'round.
    Austin also talks about the internet fabricating the "glass ceiling" concept, and runs down the prospects for some of the company's current younger stars making it as main eventers.  Included is a very diplomatic way of saying "Randy Orton's got the look, but he's not 100% all there, yet."  I knew I liked Austin for some reasons....
    You can check out the column right here.  It's a pretty good read.
  • Alrighty, so WWE was in town for a big RAW house show (Chris Benoit's first!) on Saturday night...  and I was where?
    Well, at bell time, I was probably about half-way through a much deserved Power Nap.  Chalk it up to getting 3 hours of sleep on Friday night, waking up early so as to be nicely boozed up for the Noon tip-off of the Dayton Flyers' victory over the hated Xavier Musketeers, then heading out to the post-game radio show for a few more drinks, and then finally getting home and crashing hard.  A few hours sleep, up about 11pm, a quick shower, and I wound up heading out to tie on my third separate, distinct drunk in a 24 hour period.  That's the sort of night out of which nothing good can come.  If I had it to do over again, I'd probably have just stayed in bed.  But that's not the point; the point was I was in no mood to face the world at showtime on Saturday night.
    That said, members of my Sometimes PPV Crew headed out to Hara Arena (historic site of 2 of ECW's three top-drawing events, the first-ever Hogan/Flair one-on-one match, and a lot of other cool rasslin' moments) to check things out.  One of 'em, Gary Spencer, does some freelance writing, and I somehow duped him into handling Recap Duty...
    Despite a lack of the usual Monday night star power, RAW did a real nice job using some unannounced cameos (from Coach and Trish Stratus, especially) to give a big of unpredictable, big time atmosphere to the night.  Solid thumbs up from Gary and the crew.  You can get the full report right here.
  • And for fuck's sake, somebody check me on this: when I was puttering my way back to full consciousness on Saturday night, I put "Confidential" on in the background.  And mostly in the background it stayed, since it turned out to be a repeat from many months ago. 
    But I SWEAR that when I glanced in from the kitchen, I saw a graphic on the screen that featured a map of Asia that included a big, practically GIANT label reading "Toyko, Japan."
    Toyko, people, Toyko.  Were my eyes playing tricks, or does somebody up at Titan Tower deserve a good wrist-slapping, with somebody else deserving an even harder wrist-slapping for letting the show air with the pathetic error not once, but TWICE?  
    Please, I can't be the only one who saw this, can I?
    And please #2: you can keep your smart-ass comments about all the stupid mistakes that seem to make it into my columns to yourself.  Until somebody wants to supply me with the backing of a multi-million dollar company -- or at least a monthly stipend equal in value to my whiskey consumption -- I will remain a proud One Draft Writer.  Deal with it.
  • I can't remember if I mentioned it back a week or so ago when we were on the topic of TNA's full-price 3-hour Sunday night PPV, or not...  but the date the company would like to run their show is April 4.
    You know, not to be a smart-ass or anything, but I sure hope somebody checked and made sure that's not Easter Sunday or anything.  Easter's usually right in there, right, and there's gotta be SOME reason why WWE ran away from the usual last-Sunday-in-March/first-in-April date for WM this year?  And from a company that is apparently pinning its hopes on Toby fricking Keith to be the PPV's biggest draw, I'm not gonna make any assumptions...

  • Got a few e-mails on this, and in case you're interested, I figure I'll pass it along: Bill Goldberg was ringside at UFC's big show in Vegas this weekend.  I'm not the world's biggest MMA expert, but I know who Tito Ortiz is, and that's who Goldberg was hanging out with, I guess.  Ortiz was also ringside at WM19 last year....
  • Maven's official website, www.MavenHuffman.com, reports that his dual surgeries last week were delayed a day by bad weather.
    Maven was taken off the road after hurting his elbow a couple weeks back.  And apparently, he decided to get the Lesnar Special, and got his knee scoped at the same time he was getting the elbow repaired.  Difference is that Maven's elbow was much worse, and he's still looking at being out of action till WM.
  • If the complete sell-out of "The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection" ruined your Christmas, and you've been too lazy to pick up a copy now that they are back in stock, then you might whet your appetite for all the Nature Boy Goodness with a big ol' review of the 3-disc set.
    Damien Gonzalez, who had to ditch his TNA recapping boots back in December, still has his DVD player and enough free time to recap the collection.  In this case, he's wrapped up a full write up (annotated with screen captures and everything) on Disc 2.  That's where you get all the Flair/Steamboat you can handle.  Check it out right here
  • And what the hell?  Tits you want, and tits you shall receive....
    I'm not exactly sure how much stock to put into this, but apparently Tammy Sytch has announced on a wrestling message board that she intends to honor a few final bookings and then leave the wrestling business entirely so that she can become a stewardess (or a flight attendant, or whatever the PC term is these days).  In the post, she says wrestling just isn't fun or worth the aggravation any more, so it's bye-bye to the biz.
    Now, I hesitate to admit this, but with my rarely venturing away from the cozy confines of OO, I'm not even familiar with the message board in question, nor sure whether or not it's actually Tammy who is making these comments.  I'm no rube: I'm familiar with the concept of online impersonators.  But that said, the half-dozen or so people who did forward the message to me were apparently convinced it was genuine and that Tammy is a regular contributor to this board. So on their say-so, I'm passing this along to you with the assumption that it's for real....
    And if that's the case, you know what?  I honestly tip my cap to Tammy...  there's no reason to stick around a business that makes you miserable, which seems to me to be a lesson that goes unlearned in the wrestling industry.  I'm not saying I fully ascribe to Roddy Piper's quasi-coherent ramblings about "The Sickness," but when you've got guys going to clearly self-destructive lengths to stay in a business that no longer seems to have a place for them, there is something wrong.
    So for as much as there's part of me that would have (selfishly) loved for a happier, more productive career for the Tammy/Sunny we all remember so fondly from SMW and the WWF, there's another part of me that is just happy that the woman behind those positive memories is gonna be able to move on with life where others haven't.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  Or something.
    I mean, how many times have guys like New Jack and Terry Funk promised they're hanging it up after "a few final commitments"?
  • That's it.  I'm out.  See you tomorrow with RAW, and Wednesday with the usual routine.


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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