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Justifiable Giddiness: Eddie/PPV, RAW,
ARod, and Probably Some Other News...
February 16, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Tee hee. Again, I repeat: tee hee.

Those who know me know that "giddy" is not in my repertoire. "Contentment" is about as demonstrably happy as I get.  Once in a blue moon, I might go all the way to "destructive," if I'm particularly pleased and a more-than-advisable amount of booze is involved.  It's an odd quirk, I know... but the point is, giddiness never factors in.

So why, oh why, am I unable to repress this urge to giggle impishly today?  Must be the combination of things.  Probably including, but not limited to: Eddie winning the title, the prospects for Michaels/Benoit tonight on RAW, and the best player in baseball becoming a New York Yankee in a steal (after you figure in what the Yanks are out from under by trading Soriano, cutting Henson, ditching Boone, AND hoodwinking Texas into paying a third of ARod's contract, the Yanks are really only adding about $1 million in salary for this year, so somebody tell Affleck to stick that in his Evil Empire pipe and smoke it, cuz this is as sound a business deal as it is a baseball deal... from OUR side, of course).  

Oh yeah, it's good to be The Me.  Tee Hee. Onward, ho:

  • Let's start with last night.  
    Eddie Guerrero is the new WWE Champion, and won the title in a match that stands out as WWE's best of the young year and almost certainly a top early candidate for Match of the Year.  Talk about sweet.
    My instinct is to flash you all back to last August, when I drew the comparisons between Eddie Guerrero and Mick Foley, and extrapolated forward that -- if there existed any justice in the universe -- that meant Eddie would find himself holding the big gold at some point in the next year.  And after Eddie accomplished just that with six months to spare, I'd probably be justified.  Except that a visit to the OO Forums reveals that somebody beat me by about 2 months to the "Eddie could be champ" thesis. 
    So I'll refrain from clapping myself on the back for my obvious genius, and instead use the fact that the idea that Eddie deserved better was so ubiquitous as the foundation for an observation that we (the obsessed, internet-reading wrestling fans) were probably ready for this for about the last year...  but that apparently in the way we couched our praise of Eddie indicated we never really thought it would happen.  Even over the course of the last week, when all logic and good sense INSISTED that Eddie had to win because it was the only way WWE could get to their planned WM20 Goldberg/Lesnar match, I was looking for some loophole, some simple factor I was overlooking.  I considered convoluted scenarios in which John Cena's knee injury would be used to take him out of the #1 contender's match, and then Paul Heyman, trying to stick it to RAW, would insert Bill Goldberg in that slot, and Goldberg would then go on to win his shot at Lesnar that way....
    And I don't think I was the only one who had those misgivings, that sort of lack of faith in WWE to do something sensible when so many ridiculous and ill-advised options (they kind they often prefer) remained.
    But last night at the conclusion of No Way Out, all that went away.  I'm almost sorry I couldn't be at a bar or in a big crowd for this, just to vicariously get the thrill of "Oh my god, I can't believe Eddie won."  A stand up and cheer and screw your own smartness kind of moment. Because honestly, watching the show with a small cadre of pretty smart fans, the vibe I got was more relief than anything. We were no less happy, but because of our expectations, there wasn't unbridled joy...  it was more matter-of-fact: "this is what should be, and it's a damned good thing WWE realized it for once."  If I had a misgiving, that'd be it.
    But if I counted that as a serious misgiving, I'd be picking for nits.  Eddie won the title.  It doesn't get much better than that.
    And now, we can let the extended comparisons to Mick Foley begin, as well... because last night, Kurt Angle stepped up and won the shot against Eddie at WM20.  And we must immediately settle down and realize that even when Foley won his WWF Title(s), he was sort of an interloper, a transitionary champ who borrowed the strap from the established upper-card, main event cadre, and never held it for more than a month at a time.  Eddie's stepping right into a feud with an already-established former champion...  will his fate match Mick's more closely than we might like?
    It's hard to say.  On one hand, having both Eddie and Benoit leave WM20 with titles would seem "babyface overkill."  On the other, having Angle take Eddie's title would probably mean both World Titles change hands, which might be "title change overkill."  Smarks can twist themselves all up in knots over this in the coming weeks, and I'll sit back and watch the show... myself, I'd LEAN towards keeping the title on Eddie (because it's the way that allows for an extended main event program with Brock, plus more with Angle, maybe even against Big Show once Cena's got the US Title; there are more heel challengers, so I say do this until SD! can figure a way to compensate for the loss of Benoit to RAW and the fact that Angle's turning; the return of Edge should help, hint hint).  But mostly, I'm just gonna enjoy the ride and the possible Match of the Night at WM20.
  • What else from No Way Out?  Well, I pretty much already said my piece in the Recap.  It was a killer second half, and a disposable first half, end of story.
    Chavo/Rey, Angle/Cena/Show, and Eddie/Lesnar were all very good matches, with the main event standing head and shoulders above the other two.  The other four matches varied between "decent Thursday night throw-away match" and "decent Velocity match."  Namely: competently contested, but not really significant in any way.  The angle with Goldberg was about the only thing on the first half of the show that registered with me, and I thought it was really well done.
    You can get the full report in the OO PPV Recap.
  • Now with last night's business put to bed, how about talking about tonight?
    Because there's more goodness on the way.  Even as Eddie Guerrero defied all conventional wisdom to leapfrog over Chris Benoit and win a World Title first (let's all do like WWE and just pretend that one-day WCW Title run never happened, OK?), the fact is that WWE has a Plan in place for Benoit, too.
    Who'd ever have thought that in 2004, two guys so respected and beloved by hardcore wrestling fans, with histories so intertwined that they've been packaged together for nearly a decade now (back in 1995, they were part of the "New Japan Four" that WCW swooped in and "stole" from ECW...  then they were "the Radicals" when they jumped from WCW to the WWF...), would be, nearly simultaneously, ready to stand up and cease the day?
    Tonight, Benoit has perhaps his ideal chance to shine, as he'll go one-on-one with Shawn Michaels.  Benoit is not a great guy with a mic, but in the ring, his intensity, body language, and moveset give him a certain type of bad-ass charisma that should win over many fans.  And there is no better dancing partner on the RAW roster than HBK.  It's unlikely that they'll get 30 minutes to try to match Eddie/Lesnar, but even 15 quality minutes should be pure gold here.
    And there's more reason to be excited for Benoit/Michaels than the pure in-ring appeal of it.  Top level storylines are also riding on this match.  Michaels has seemingly interjected himself into Benoit's WM20 title shot against Triple H, so there will be outside factors at play here.  To get himself involved in the title picture, Michaels incurred the wrath of fans last week, and seems like he'll be playing the tweener in a three-way feud.  And although I think it's kind of tired and used up by this point,  I expect that any displays by Michaels of less than the purest lilly-white-babyface-ishness will lead to inevitable gum-flapping by Lawler about how he and his old Clique-mate HHH might be in cahoots.  It started last week. It might continue this week.
    So you've got a duel-pronged appeal for Benoit/Michaels.  It'll kick as as a match, and it'll be pretty intriguing from a storyline perspective.  Figuring that between those two elements, it'll take up maybe a quarter (or more) of RAW's total airtime, I'm pretty confident in tonight's show being a good one.
    But wait, there's more (and it's not sold in any store)...
    Last week, Mick Foley made it clear that he wanted himself a piece of Randy Orton, in a one-on-one match.  But then Mick let himself get suckered into an ambush.  It should be abundently clear to a man of Mick's intelligence that trying to get Randy one-on-one is a lost cause.  And if he's gonna have to deal with all of Evolution, maybe a little back-up is what he needs.  A former tag partner of Mick's just happens to be proximate to tonight's RAW tapings, and if the rumors about WM20 being a tag match for Foley against Evolution, we might have a little surprise in the pipeline for tonight on RAW....
    Chris Jericho and Christian and Trish Stratus got their little thing going on. The latest twist is that Jericho and Trish are still Just Friends (even though neither of them seems satisfied with that status), a state of affairs being facilitated by a suddenly contrite Christian, who then realized that there was nothing wrong with hitting on his bud's completely platonic Just Friend, and made a slimy little move on Trish last week.  This will not end happily.  But the pace things are going (interminably slowly since like last October), I can safely say that I think I'll be happy when it finally gets around to ending.

    The Undertaker's tormenting of Kane will pay off at WM20 in 27 days.  In the meantime, increasingly cryptic and mysterious special effects shows should probably plague Kane.  This could be good.  Or it could get annoying.  By introducing Taker's super-natural elements, the Fed assumes that risk of knowing good-spooky from gay-spooky.  Good luck to them toeing that line....
    And when Vince McMahon suspended Goldberg last week on RAW, he made vague remarks about how if Goldberg did anything at the No Way Out PPV, it would be on Bischoff's head.  Well, Goldberg did something.  What, exactly, will that mean for Vince and Bischoff?  And why was Vince so intent on harping on the idea that Goldberg was "Bischoff's man," and that Bischoff should be held responsible, anyway?  It sure felt like they were setting up for something pretty major there....  one school of thought is that Austin will also be involved, possibly sent to SD/WM20 to referee Goldberg/Lesnar, or something, but I think there's gotta be more to Vince's threat than that...
    We need to do some work on finalizing the situations in the tag title and women's title ranks, too...  and who knows what other bits of fluffery might get tossed in to fill time, as well?  But these are the five stories that should dominate tonight on RAW.  And again, I got a feeling it should be a really good one.
    Check it out, or come on back to OO tomorrow for the full recap.
  • The final rating for last week's SD! was a 3.5.  Just about what I expected, and again, WWE continues to perform at its usual level despite the stronger-than-normal competition coming from Sweeps Month programming.
  • Jim Ross posted a commentary on WWE.com, talking a bit about recent releases (Gowen, Kanyon, and the Cat) and then using that as a springboard to rip on the internet for mis-interpreting WWE business moves.  Fair enough, although I think a large part of what JR rallied against was an infinite feedback loop that starts in his company's locker rooms.  For all the noises about how business is good, and we're not gonna be laying anybody off, the boys are convinced otherwise and have their ideas on the subject.  Despite the Fed's asinine attempt to pretend the internet doesn't exist and should not be talked to, those concerns and theories trickle out and down, and wind up in print (unfortunately, sometimes presented as fact in a move that makes us look just as asinine).  Those items then trickle back up, and end up, for better or for worse, re-affirming the concerns and theories that started the whole thing,
    I originally started this bullet point intending to do an exceptionally sage and wise discussion of internet cause and effect... but since I feel myself already leaning towards going into full rant mode about WWE's irrational attitude towards the internet and how it infuriates me that they only seem to see the negatives and not the copious opportunities that might present themselves if they opened their eyes.  And I don't want to get into that again.
    So I'll just shut up now.
  • Condolences go out to Maven and the entire Huffman family...  Maven's mom passed away late last week after her long battle with cancer.  Maven had gotten time over (even as far back as Tough Enough) to be with his mom during tough times, and though no injury is ever "lucky," he's been off the road the last few weeks and able to spend time with his family during this time.  
  • Kevin Nash and Scott Hall's first post-WWE appearance as a tag team will come this Friday in California.  In a match under the UPW banner, Nash and Hall will team up against Tom Howard and Christopher Daniels.  Joe Millionaire (who once trained as a wrestler in UPW) will be the special guest referee. 
    UPW is sort of like a satellite-territory for WWE, but without a true developmental relationship or anything.  John Cena, Victoria, and others came up through UPW (with Howard as a lead trainer, actually), though...  but I'm pretty sure you shouldn't be reading anything into the fact that the Outsiders reunion is happening in a promotion tangentially affliated with WWE.  They just have the resources to pay the price tag.
    Also on the show on Friday will be Ivory, Ken Shamrock, Jimmy Snuka, and a couple of guys you might recognize from TNA's X Division.  It's a pretty loaded indie show. You can get full details and ticket info (if you're around Anaheim) at www.UPW.com
  • Mixed signals about TNA's "Bound for Glory" PPV... on one hand, PPV distributors are listing the event on advance schedules for April 4.  On the other, there are rumblings that internal forces at TNA want to push the date back a few weeks.  I just don't know, any more.
    It's worth noting that when this news originally broke last year, the PPV was NOT listed on advance schedules for November 30.  But then, after Hogan's knee surgery put the show on ice, the event WAS listed on schedules for about a week.  So there's a propagation delay on these things.  I wouldn't say that the show being on advance schedules is binding or anything...
  • Two sorta requests to close out today.
    First, a friend of mine is trying to convince a local bar to use their new "lounge" area and big screen TV to pick up WrestleMania 20.  I know it's one thing to say "I have five billion readers" and another to say "I have at least a dozen or so readers close enough to Dayton and who might be interested in seeing WM20 at a bar," but I figured I'd at least sort of float this idea out there, and see what kind of response, if any, it generates.  Cuz the place won't bite on it if it sounds like we just want to make them get the license just so we can see the show for free on their big TV and drink half-price beers because we know the bartender... but maybe if I can say at least a handful of other folks (who'll all drink alot!) will show, we can do this thing... drop me a line at my regular address if you'd intrigued.  
    And second.... purely hypothetically, I'd like to collect a round of questions from you folks.  Questions?  Yeah, just like back in the "The Rick Says" days....  I'd like to just check the level of the room, see what kinds of things you're interested in reading/hearing about, what kinds of new misconceptions and urban legends may have popped up in the last 2 and a half years that I could have fun debunking, and so on and so forth.  I can't promise anything, but over the next week, I'd like to amass a few queries to go with the 3000-plus e-mails I still have in my "Ask the Rick" folder from the SportsLine days that I never even got around to reading...  and maybe, if the stars align, you'll see those issues addressed in print.  Yee haw?
    For your "The Rick Says" questions, please e-mail me at AskTheRick@onlineonslaught.com.  Thanks.
  • That is all.  Tee hee.


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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