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RAW, Kanyon Out, MLW Finished,
TNA Talk, and Other Midweek News
February 11, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I hate to live right down to your expectations, but I'm pretty much bursting with anticipation... so I gotta say a few quick things about tonight's Dayton/St. Joe's game.

It is, without a doubt, the biggest A-10 game of the year.  It is, without a doubt, St. Joe's last serious test of the regular season as they try to go undefeated.  It is, without a doubt, the most important regular season game UD has played in... well... since I've been a fan.  Which is a pretty damned long time.  This is easily bigger than when we played a #1 ranked UMass (w/ Camby) team when I was in school, and that's the only one I can think of that's even close.

This is the most coverage UD's gotten in a while, with ESPN2's "College Gamenight" professing that we have a very good chance to beat the Hawks.  And right now, SI's website has us picked to win a squeaker (in part, I guess, because St. Joe's will be on the cover of the next issue of SI, which is a jinx lately).  I wish I could be so confident.

I will settle for not being embarrassed and humiliated, like we were against UC in our only other Top 25 showdown of the year.  Keep an eye on your SportsCenter tonight, and if you see a shocking upset of one of the last undefeated teams in the nation, bow your head and say a quick prayer for my liver.  

You know what? Maybe say a quick prayer for my liver even if UD loses.  Drinks of jubilation or drinks of despair... I don't think it'll really matter.  There will be a lot of one of  'em tonight.

Luckily for you, I'm clear-headed enough at this early hour to still deliver a few wrestling-related thoughts:

  • First up, thanks to Jeb for handling recap duties for RAW...  I'd like to think that maybe my own recaps are more useful to the few folks who actually don't watch RAW and try to get by reading recaps.  But I've never had moments of sheer genius like Jeb displayed in transcribing HHH's promo, either, so...
    Well, it's a wash, and you should read it.
    And for once, I can go into a Wednesday update and present my RAW thoughts and not feel like I'm repeating myself, too...
    The short version is this: I know there was maybe 20, 25 minutes tops of actual wrestling on the show, and I didn't care.  I had fun.
    The slightly longer version...
    The opening angle with Vince and Heyman making unexpected appearances just felt big and special.  That's a hell of a way to kick off a show, and a great way to spice things up as you're heading down the Road to WM.  That bit also left some delicious dangling issues: how does Goldberg respond to suspension and threats to not do anything at No Way Out?  How does Austin respond to getting speared?  I'm diggin' it...
    The other lengthy promo/angle was HHH/Benoit/Michaels doing their thing.  And I liked that one even better.

    It might be unpopular to say, but Triple H was gold on Monday.  A week previous he was kind of stumbling around and seeming repetitive... but on Monday, he was intense, he was telling a story, and I actually got the sense he was pouring everything he could into being as big an asshole possible so as to help the cause of Chris Benoit.  And I thought it worked.  A tepid "Benoit" chant is, afterall, better than none at all.  HHH's best heel work is methodical in style, but when he's as intense as he was on Monday, it really clicks... my previous bitching about how he has become more and more inspired by Vince's "I'll take 15 minutes to do a 5 minute promo" shtick does not apply here.

    And then, out comes Shawn Michaels.  For a moment, let's just not be big dorks and harps on how Michaels signing that document has no legal meaning... let's just focus on how Michaels came out and projected a focused, self-centered aura that FIRMLY entrenched him as a tweener in all this.  I don't know about the theory put forth by Lawler that this is evidence that Michaels and HHH are in cahoots, but I do know that Michaels striking out on his own, steamrolling over Benoit to get what he wants... well, that's cool by me.  All we need now is to add a ladder match stipulation to the three-way, and I'll be perfectly happy with how things have played out.
    Two other well-told stories on Monday:  Mick Foley doing a little psychoanalysis on Randy Orton, bringing up Orton's own past cowardice, and then how that led to Foley getting a 3-on-1 Evolution beatdown.  The important plot point here: that Foley's not facing JUST Orton, he's dealing with all of Evolution.  If there is not a major development on the "Foley's back-up" front next week, I'll be shocked.  Let's leave it at that. 
    I think I even liked the latest on the Jericho/Trish/Christian front.  It was sort of a nothing-happens week, but because of expectations (that Christian would be mega-pissed at Jericho after losing the tag titles last week), the nothing BECOMES a something.  Kind of.  I hope that makes sense.  I have a feeling this was just a deal where they knew that they had packed in so much other stuff on the show, so they opted to hold back a week before pulling the trigger here.  By having Christian act all calm and collected (and sort of hitting on Trish), they just lay even more of a heelish foundation for when he does explode on Jericho.
    So you do some good storytelling like all that, and the fact that the wrestling was only about half of what it would be on a typically good show sort of fades in importance.  And the fact is, even with a dearth of wrestling, we still got 2 very entertaining matches, so there was a bit of a bone thrown to us.  The three-way IC Match was strong, and the Benoit/Flair match just a step down, maybe.  Both were at or around 10 minutes each.  Beyond that, sure, there was that 3 minute mixed tag and the 60 second Kane squash,  and... well, that's it, right?  Point is, the 25 minutes or so of in ring action wasn't split between 6 forgettable matches; it was invested mostly in 2 solid contests, making best use of that time.
    A good show, and a step up from the previous week, in my book.  Again, for full details, Jeb's Recap is what you need.
  • RAW rating on Monday came in at a 3.8 cable rating, which is up one-tenth from the week before, and basically in line with typical performances for RAW over the last several months.  After the post-Rumble bump, things have reverted back to usual...
  • A few readers mailed in with an interesting little story.  During Hour One of RAW, WWE showed members of the Portland Trailblazers (call 'em thugs and criminals, but Zach Randolph and Damon Stoudamire are Fantasy studs for The Rick!) at ringside enjoying the show...  but apparently their numbers were halved, as Rasheed Wallace and Wesley Person found out DURING RAW that they had been traded to the Atlanta Hawks.  The four or five members of the Blazers at the show huddled in the second hour, apparently saying their goodbyes, and then Wallace and Person left the arena.
  • Also off-camera at RAW, Steve Austin orchestrated another 30-45 minute post-show celebration for the fans.  There were attempted Spin-a-Roonies by Foley, RVD, and even Lillian Garcia.  And some singing by Austin and Lillian.  And a lot of beer (which again ended up all over Lillian).  A lot of fun was had by all.
  • Complete results from last night SD! TV tapings are also available if you're interested in getting the last pre-PPV touches for that brand.  Just click here, you nosy sons of bitches.
  • This has gotta go down as disappointing news...  maybe expected, but disappointing.
    Chris Kanyon, not seen on TV in months (not even on Velocity) has been cut loose from WWE, effective immediately.  WWE announced the move on their website, and Kanyon released a statement on his about how he believes this is a positive thing for him and his career.
    The fact that a guy as talented -- both in the ring and as a personality -- as Kanyon should have no trouble immediately finding work is indisputable.  But the fact that some of us are fans of his who would have liked to see him on the WWE stage is just as true.  Selfishly, I wish WWE had found a way to make use of Kanyon, his innovative offense, and his love-to-hate-him persona...  objectively, I realize the whole situation was even more frustrating to Kanyon than to us fans.
    Kanyon will have options in Japan as well as throughout the US indie scene.  And of course, WWE has just hand-delivered another upper-card-caliber worker for NWA-TNA to scoop up.  And unlike Dustin Runnels, Kanyon can show up complete with his name and gimmick still intact...
  • Apparently, WWE is not done with cuts/non-renewals, and as many as 2 or 3 more might come in the next couple weeks.  I had one source say that he thinks one or two divas might be in line (Ivory and Jacqueline leap to mind), but he also said that WWE has no idea what to do with Sean O'Haire and might just cut him loose to develop on his own, with the idea being that they can bring him back down the line.  And frankly, the thought of cutting a guy like O'Haire (who really does seem to have the total package, and shouldn't be punished for creative drawing a blank) seems a bit baffling to me (my thoughts on Ivory's value as a better talker than nearly every other diva on the roster are also a matter of record), so I'm not sure how much stock I put in this one... I mean, really, if I was gonna make shit up, I'd say Bill DeMott's recent absences from "Velocity" and Ernest Miller not showing up at all at SD! tapings after working house shows were more in line with SENSIBLE cuts, but I can only tell you what I'm told.
    Just take this whole "more cuts to come" rumor with at least a couple dozen grains of salt, is all I'm saying.
  • The number of places where Kanyon and hypothetical other WWE cuts might find work has been trimmed this week, as well...
    Major League Wrestling, based in Florida with TV airing throughout the US, is apparently done.  The company completely restructured late last year (after promoting "indy supershows" that unfortunately lost money even with crowds in the low thousands), but after MLW drew fewer than 1000 fans total to a pair of shows in January, the investors who OK'ed the re-structuring have pulled out.
    It's a tough break, because I really thought MLW's new model (2 less-ambitious shows per month, instead of 1 mega-show) made more fiscal sense and would have resulted in a sustainable revenue stream.  But the company won't get the chance to prove me right or wrong.
    MLW is immediately ceasing domestic TV operations (where their show was a welcome dose of the old ECW syndicated vibe), but will continue to repackage existing footage to meet the demands of their overseas TV contracts.  I wish I could get indignant about this, but the fact is that even though MLW allegedly aired in Dayton, I have never, not once in six months, seen a current edition of the show.  The random hodge-podge of shows ranging in age from 4 weeks to six months old were fun to watch, but made it hard to get hooked in a serious way....
  • I've been a proponent of Bret Hart showing up at WM20, advocating him helping Benoit win the World Title... but reader Darrell mailed in yesterday, asking why Hart couldn't show up to screw with Goldberg, the man who ended his wrestling career.
    Well, I've got no REALLY good answer for that.  It'd certainly be compelling, too...  but I still think more people are familiar with Montreal (where Michaels and HHH were both involved in the Screwjob), and that Hart helping a fellow Albertan makes more sense than helping Lesnar beat Goldberg.  But hell, I'd take anything if it meant getting the Hitman to show up at Mania.  He belongs there.
  • A bunch of people have also been mailing in about WM20's musical act.  Apparently, Guns 'n' Roses has been rumored other places as a possibility.
    I can't say with any certainty, because I've heard nothing about this, but I SUSPECT this is probably not gonna happen.  I mean, as good as it is in theory (a "classic" act like GnR makes more sense for the 20th Mania than some Flavor of the Week), the fact is that in reality, Axl can't sing anymore, and has the reliability of the Ultimate Warrior, to boot.  I can't believe WWE would think he's worth the potential for headaches.
    You know what I'm a fan of?  If they can't get a really good band, just forget having one at all.  If the latest crap metal or pop star is the best you can do, just invest that time in flashbacks, ceremonies, and other stuff where the history of WrestleMania is the special attraction.  I think wrestling fans would have no problem with that at all, and I've never believed that casual fans/non-fans actually watch WM every year just to see a band or a celebrity.
  • Last thing for today is a mention of TNA's PPV.... tonight, it'll be a pre-taped show, featuring the "America's X Cup" series pitting TNA workers versus luchadors from the AAA promotion.  It'll be a point-based thing, featuring 8 wrestlers in four singles matches,  two tag matches, and then a final 8 man elimination match.
    "Team TNA" is Jerry Lynn, Elix Skipper, Sonday Dutt, and Chris Sabin.  "Team AAA" is Mr. Aguila, Hector Garza, Juventud Guerrera, and Abismo Negro.  With the exception of Negro, I think most fans should know the other three AAA guys from appearances in the WWF and WCW.  Obviously,  Team TNA features outstanding workers who you should know, too.
    The matches have already been taped (mostly in Mexico, so sadly, I don't have anything on the spoiler front), and have gotten rave reviews, especially the 8-man elimination match.  Of course, what else did you expect TNA to say in hyping the show?  That the matches have already been taped, and they all suck?  Not likely...  given the participants, however, the positive buzz is entirely believable.
    Also on the show, an pre-taped interview with Terry Funk will air, who will discuss his possible future in TNA.
    This show will feature nothing in the way of advancement of current TNA storylines (those pick up next week, on a show that will also feature the TNA debut of Chyna, among other things), but sounds like an exceptional display of fast-paced wrestling that most fans should appreciate.
    I know that I'm already planning to check out a replay of this one at some point in the next few days.  
  • That's about it from me today.  On Friday, Erin will be handling the PPV preview, I think, but I might still have a column with other news if there's enough to talk about.  So check on back before No Way Out, why don't you?
    Go Flyers.... 


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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