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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Playboy Spoilers!, RAW, Japan Notes,
and Other Monday Newsbites
February 9, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Generic greeting bemoaning the start of the work week and the four days until next permitted drinking!

Attempted small talk regarding the pathetically under-talented winners of last night's Major Awards Show.  Realizing most Americans do not share my eclectic tastes, switch gears.  Discuss the incredibly exciting sporting contest also held last night, instead.

Use self-deprecating segue to poke fun at off-topic rambling and begin today's wrestling column.

And that, with all due punches in the face to Josh Mathews, is The Blueprint...

  • While SD! busies itself with a rush-job of a PPV this week (Noble vs. Nidia?  Really?), RAW has hit the cruise control and looks on target to glide into WrestleMania 20 in style.
     
    Tonight, they lock in their main event for the big show, as Chris Benoit and Triple H are slated to do the ever-popular pro wrestling staple: the Official Contract Signing.  You know, with the red carpet, and the banquet table, and the chairs... the whole nine.  And of course, also with a 95% chance of Things Not Going Smoothly.
     
    Although some contract signings end up being nothing more than an excuse to do a Super Staredown, I don't think tonight's will be one of that class.  Nope... there are two elements in play here to cause me to think we'll get something a little messier.
     
    One: although Benoit and HHH are supposedly the combatants in the WM20 main event, you've got Shawn Michaels hovering on the edges of the title picture.  HHH has not been able to beat HBK in the last 2 months, a fact not lost on Steve Austin, who in both of the past 2 weeks has insisted that he thinks Michaels deserves another rematch.  Is Austin's big talk nothing but smoke and mirrors to coax fans into the house show contests between HBK and HHH?  Or will there be a "free-per-view" HHH/HBK match on RAW between now and Mania?  Or, considering that HBK has absolutely nothing else on his table, might he be tapped to join in the Benoit/HHH match for a WM20 3-way match?  
     
    Just as an aside: I have, in e-mails, gotten Fantasy Booking scenarios where you're all falling all over yourselves to re-invent WM10 (sensible, given the intangibles).  One scenario: that they re-do the 3-match series this year (like they did with Hart/Yoko/Luger), starting with HHH/Benoit (while HBK vs. RVD is your "filler" match to make sure Michaels isn't rested for his later shot) and then culminating with Benoit vs. Michaels.  The other scenario: that to recall WM10 (where, for WWF purposes, Michaels and Razor Ramon invented the ladder match), you insert HBK into the Benoit/HHH match and turn it into a Ladder Match.  I'd think either of those would be pretty neat, but I'm also pretty sure that both are firmly in the realm of Fantasy, not Reality, so...  I'll stick to my dream of Bret Hart showing up to help Benoit win the title (cuz it actually works regardless of if it's HHH or HBK... or both, for that matter).
     
    Anyway, in addition to Michaels being kind of a monkeywrench in the works of a completely smooth-sailing Contract Signing tonight, there is another matter.  Once Benoit is done signing the contract, he's got other business to conduct with Evolution tonight: he's got a one-on-one match against Ric Flair.  And you're telling me Evolution isn't gonna want to soften Benoit up before Flair gets to him?  Don't think so....
     
    The Flair/Benoit match should be an ideal showcase for Benoit as he continues to fight the uphill battle of getting over with the RAW audience...  having him get his ass kicked, and then still coming back to beat Flair decisively should do the trick.  An outing like that piled on top of the fact that they will announce tonight that Benoit's Crippler Crossface tore out Mark Henry's shoulder last week (Henry will miss up to 4 months of action, though the injury was really sustained the night before last Monday's RAW match against Benoit) should go a long way to legitimizing Benoit to an audience that has been warming to the mostly-mute Benoit in a pretty slow fashion.
     
    The #2 story as RAW saunters to WM20 will end up being Mick Foley's troubles with other members of Evolution.  For now, it's Mick versus Randy Orton that's generating all the interest.  But the Rock himself has said that he expects to team with Foley at WMXX against Orton and (probably) Batista.  So how to get to that finish line?  Well, Rock's movie schedule precludes him from jumping into storylines with both feet for a few more weeks.  But given that Mick and Orton can only spin their wheels in a holding patter for so long, it wouldn't surprise me if we got SOME indication that Rock was ready to come to Mick's aid sooner rather than later.  Maybe a taped interview?  Maybe with RAW on the west coast each of the next two weeks, a quick pop-in (next week in Bakersfield, CA, seems especially ideal)?  Who knows, but it'll be something to keep in mind...
     
    And while Mick and Orton have to simmer and await the arrival of the Rock, that means that some of their spotlight can be temporarily usurped.  Make no mistake: Chris Jericho vs. Christian won't have anywhere near the sizzle as the Rock 'n' Sock Connection reuniting at WM, but for tonight, it oughta get plenty of play on RAW.  Last week, Jericho saved Trish Stratus, hurt his knee in the process, and then lost a tag title match as a result.  Surely, Christian will be pissed about this.  Surely, we'll hear all about it tonight.  Surely, Trish is gonna have to be involved in some capacity.  And surely, she and Jericho aren't going to remain "just friends" much longer than Christian and Jericho do...  now heading into its fifth month, this soap opera storyline has been pretty solid again in recent weeks as it appears ready to cement Jericho as a babyface.  With tonight looking like a possible big payoff, here's hoping they capitalize on those recent strengths and don't regress into some of the silliness and awkwardness that has permeated the storyline at times.
     
    Two other WM20 storylines will also easily eclipse Jericho/Christian in the Sizzle Factor come WM20, but the fact that they cross brands make it hard to say which show can claim ownership.  One, Undertaker's tormenting of Kane, is looking like it'll probably belong to RAW, since it's easier for the resurrected, non-corporeal spirit of Taker to jump to RAW than it would be for Kane to show up on SD!.  The other, Goldberg vs. Lesnar, is gonna end up getting time on Thursday nights, it seems, with Goldberg already slated for a SD! appearance on Sunday's No Way Out PPV.  Gentle nudging forward for both these storylines should also take place tonight...
     
    Even though I've laid out five big WM-worthy feuds there, it's kind of off-putting that three of RAW's four titles are not represented.  Randy Orton's IC belt simply has no place in a feud against Mick Foley...  Evolution's tag titles have no serious challengers outside of Attempt #495 by the Dudleys... and Molly Holly's women's title is under such fire from all sides that it's unclear which of Victoria, Lita, or Trish should be considered as a top contender, resulting in a messy situation.
     
    I'd hope for some clarity in these matter tonight, but I'm not holding my breath.  Orton and the IC Title would be the easiest to fix, as there are a TON of underutilized mid-carders who could make the IC division instantly viable (Booker, RVD, Hardy to name just three who could do more with it than Orton has in the past 3 months), but it's also the one least likely to get the fix (because long term plans for Orton and Evolution mean he's gotta keep the IC belt for a while).  But we'll see...
     
    Check out RAW tonight to see what develops...  or come on back to OO tomorrow for the full recap and analysis.
     
  • FYI, the final rating for SD! last week wound up being a 3.4, not much of a jump at all from the prelim rating we had on Friday.  That's a drop of 0.2 from the week before, but like we talked about on Friday, this was the first SD! of February Sweeps, which meant much stiffer-than-usual competition.  So holding pretty steady is probably a moral victory.
     
  • The Playboy with Torrie Wilson and Sable isn't gonna hit newsstands for another week or so, but somehow, via the magic of the internet, the pictures are available for all to see.
     
    Now, I'm a law-abiding web publisher, and know that putting these copyrighted nekkid photos of WWE divas on OnlineOnslaught.com could land me in hot water.  But I'm also very lazy.  So if -- IF -- some criminal element happened to invade the OO Forums and IF that person happened to post the pictures in question, well...  I probably wouldn't find out about it for days, possibly even weeks.  And then it'd take even longer for me to do anything about it.  Because, as I've noted, I'm lazy.
     
    Continuing with our ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICAL discussion, if I were to have seen the pictures in the Forums, I think I'd probably wonder, "Am I the only one who actually needed to take 10 seconds and do a double take before he could tell Torrie and Sable apart?".  But then I'd probably end up keeping my thoughts to myself on the grounds that I'm already on thin ice after expressing my lack of enthusiasm back on Friday.  To win you back, I can definitely and sincerely point to the one on the right and say, "I'd hit that," and then point to the one on the left and say, "That, too."  Because I like bOObs, honest!
     
    Entirely hypothetical, people.  Just remember that.  I didn't actually say anything.
     
  • Forgot to mention this in Friday's jam-packed edition of OO, but for as hit-and-miss as SD! was, I tip the cap to WWE for making a particularly wise post-production decision with regards to the show...
     
    Ernest Miller defeated Tajiri in a match taped for the show.  Akio and Sakoda tried to interfere for Tajiri, but then Orlando Jordan made the save and helped the Cat win.  And then, Miller and Jordan danced, while the crowd (depending on reports) either made no sound or outright mutinied with boos.  
     
    I'd like to think that WWE realized it made a mistake here and simply lets this idea (Cat over Tajiri for no discernable reason) die a quiet death.  But why do I dread the possibility that the edit was made for time reasons, and that we'll be subjected to a only-slightly tweaked version of this same scenario this week? And that this time, it won't get cut?
     
    My fear is justified, I think: on SD! house shows, Cat, Jordan, and Lamont teamed up and beat Tajiri, Akio, and Sakoda (to apparently tepid responses)... even without the angle on TV, they went ahead with this crap.  They will find a way to put it on our screens...
     
    Look I know I'm irrationally pro-Tajiri, but I honestly think there's a mis-diagnosis here...  WWE probably looked at the decent pops the Cat got at the two Rumbles, and figured maybe they could capitalize by having him use his stupid dancing to get Orlando Jordan over.  But in reality, I am 100% confident that the big responses Miller got in the two Rumble appearances was due to one simple thing: that fans took pleasure in seeing him embarrassed.  Those were kind of sarcastic cheers (like a partisan crowd will give to referees after they FINALLY give the home team a call, for instance).  Those were not cheers of "Yes, please, give us more."  If you want to "capitalize" on those responses, the way to do it is to have the Cat's song and dance act result not in wins over much-more-deserving stars, but rather to have him LOSE MATCHES because of his dicking around.  Then, if you got nothing better to do with Jordan, you have him show up as Cat's dancing lackey who finally helps Miller win a match at some point down the road, and you do NOT play it as a babyface thing.  You play it as a heel turn for Miller and Jordan.  Then and only then can they start winning matches: Cat's schmuckery is a matter of record, Jordan "ruins" the crowd's fun by helping him actually win, and then BAM you got yourself a tag team.  And since they're heels, Tazz can still sing along with Cat's theme song, which is good, because that's about the only part of this entire act that is any fun at the present time (well, other than the stupidity of it all invariably resulting in the Cat losing).  
     
    Goddammit, I just wasted five minutes of my life typing up a scenario to help get Ernest the fricking Cat Miller over with fans....  pardon me, but I think I'm gonna go over here and stick an ice cream scoop up my nose to excise the portions of my brain responsible for thinking this tangent was a worthwhile way to spend my time.
     
  • The RAW crew concluded their tour of Japan on Saturday, doing almost $2 million in ticket sales (the best ever for a non-televised event) for a dome show in Saitama, Japan.
     
    The show was said to be the strongest of the entire tour, with everybody taking up a notch to PPV-caliber performances.  Match of the night was Chris Benoit getting a submission win over Chris Jericho.  Not far behind was a killer 30 minute contest between Triple H and Shawn Michaels (HHH won via clean pinfall).  
     
    Two big surprises: a very entertaining brawl between tag champs Flair/Batista and the Dudley Boyz.  Flair still brings it hard every time he wrestles over in Japan, I guess...  and Molly Holly defeated Lita in another very well-received match.  Both these contests were apparently in the 15-20 minute range.  If you can direct me to the last time the women wrestled a 1-on-1 match on TV that lasted 15 minutes, I'd love hear about it, cuz I'm stumped...
     
    Other shorter (still 10 minutes or better across the board, though) matches: Christian beat Hurricane, Randy Orton beat Matt Hardy, Kane beat Rob Van Dam, and Rico beat Test.  In addition to the seven match card, there was a hugh mid-show angle where Eric Bischoff tried to address the crowd about how he had put together such a great event; of course, this resulted in Steve Austin coming out to dispute Bischoff's genius.  A few heels ran in to back Bischoff, but Austin beat them all down, last Stunnering Bischoff.  By the time all was said and done, Austin was in the ring drinking beers with the Dudleys, Stacy Keibler, and a big sumo champ who had been enjoying the show from ringside.   
     
  • Methinks that's enough for today.  Stop by tomorrow for my own personal Most Favorite RAW Recap on the entire internet, plus Matt's Satire.  Then the usual news and spoiler routine from me on Wednesday.
     
    See you then....

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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