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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, PPV Line-Up, Goldberg, SD!'s Injured 
Heels, DVDs, and Other Monday News
March 22, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Not a huge day today, kids... to be honest, I probably put more effort into putting the main page colors back the way they belong than I did tossing together this hodge podge of a column.

But a RAW preview is kind of obligatory, and if nothing else, a quick follow-up on Lottery talk seems like it'll interest you folks (based on the e-mail I got over the weekend), so let's set the thrusters to station-keeping and turn this mother out as best we can...

  • Tonight's RAW is all about Lotto Fever.
     
    And since I got around to watching last week's SD! afterall, it now looks like the mechanics of the thing are going to be not dissimilar to how the then-WWF assigned the vast majority of the rosters back 2 years ago.  Namely: a completely random drawing.
     
    Or at least, that's the impression given off by SD! GM Paul Heyman in his explanation of standing by a hopper and drawing out names.  I can't imagine why they'd have him go out and talk like that if it wasn't what they intended to do tonight....
     
    I'm not a big fan of sending the mixed message of "This is the most important night in WWE history" while simultaneously saying "And we care so little we'll leave it entirely up to chance."  At least two years ago, they at least let Vince and Flair pick the top 10 for each brand before resorting to the Off-Air Bingo Hopper.
     
    I have a feeling that WWE believes (and probably quite correctly) that an actual draft -- a process of actually sending two people up to select the performers on their roster in a 40-plus round affair -- would turn off the vast majority of its audience.  We might get off on it.  I, personally, think it'd be an interesting little exercise.  But I realize that I'm one of the Special Ones in this case.  I mean, I like sports and all, but I've never -- not once in my entire life -- watched more than about 10 minutes of a Draft.  Why?  Because they are dull and stupid, and all I really care about is my one or two teams, and I can get that info in a timely fashion by just waiting for a bottom of the screen scroll on some other channel.
     
    And that's the fight the Fed faces tonight: keeping the fans tuned into RAW with a show that is entertaining and a little bit "business as usual," and only doing Lottery Bits as sidebar storyline segments.  I just hope that more than 10 people for each side are actually revealed on the show, as was the case two years ago in the original draft.  We had to wait till Tuesday for WWE.com to post an official list of where the other 60 superstars landed.  And nobody drafted Funaki.  The poor guy.  
     
    So while I expect the Lottery to be ubiquitous tonight on RAW, I also don't expect that it will provide us with a Main Event or any other extended 20 minute segments. Short of a continuation of the "Insanity" caliber speculation that I'll do below, chances are you'll get brief bursts of lotto picks, and also some backstage skits/vignettes to take advantage of the presence of SD! talent on RAW for the first time in forever.  This could -- nay, SHOULD -- lead to a few interpromotional matches, if you ask me.  You need a main event with some sizzle?  How about coming up with some excuse to put two world champs who just so happen to be great friends together in a single tag team?  Or for shits and giggles trying US Champ vs. IC Champ?  Or who knows what else might work...  but they oughta use it: if nothing else, it's a tease of Things to Come.
     
    And while teasing possible future match-ups or tag team pairings is all well and good, the Fed also has to keep a focus on a PPV coming up in 3 weeks.  Who the hell knows, at this point, but it's SUPPOSED to be a RAW-brand PPV, and I don't think they're putting "Backlash" up for dibs in the lottery.  Or are they?
     
    Actually, no matter what they do with Backlash's brand affiliation, it'll end up being a Benoit PPV.  That much is as engraved in stone as anything in this business can be.  It's in Benoit's home town, he's all over the promotional materials for the show.  And so even if Benoit ends up jumping back to SD!, and takes the Backlash PPV with him, I think that obligates Shawn Michaels and/or HHH to follow him as a top contender.  And thus, that storyline much be advanced tonight, as well.  
     
    Benoit's the champ, but who'll challenge first?  Logically, it's set up for HHH to get his return match first, but the better story might almost be HHH somehow getting roster-shuffled out of the equation, because it would allow him to hit one of the notes he's best at doing in promos: the Heel Indignation.  And HBK/Benoit just seems like it'd be a killer match if done right, so you've got that, too...  but no matter what HHH and Evolution will stay in the mix for at least tonight, along with HBK and Benoit.  And maybe longer.
     
    Really, there are only two other storylines that really seem like they'd require RAW to do brand-centric stuff tonight.  
     
    One is Chris Jericho vs. Christian/Trish.  Those three need to remain together on one brand so they can keep telling their story.  Last week set the tones for everybody -- for Christian and Trish's chemistry, and also for Jericho's hard-edged reckless abandon -- but this week, we need more depth and explanation to push this forward to another singles PPV match.
     
    The other is Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley.  I honestly had this mapped out another way in my head.  Foley and Rock win the essentially-meaningless WM20 tag match.  Rock goes back to Hollywood, takes his leave of Foley.  Foley thinks "OK, that business is done" and fades back a little bit, too.  But Orton stews over the loss, maybe they try to convince us he's as good as THEY think he is by booking him to -- oh, let's say -- REMEMBER THE IC TITLE and defend it successfully for a month or two (no outside help, nothing but more of that intense psycho vibe Randall was attempting to give off a few months ago).  All the while, he could be referencing Mick, but Mick would be, at most, a sporadic guest star until May or June.  And THAT is when you could ramp up for an Orton/Foley singles match, maybe trying to get things to peak for SummerSlam, if you think you could stretch it that long.  And whenever the singles match happened, THAT is when you have Mick do his selfless act of putting over the Legend Killer.  End of story.  Mick gets to go away again to live the simple life until the next storyline beckons.
     
    Instead, it looks like Foley and WWE are on pace to pack two Foley matches into two months.  Orton/Foley the Singles Conflagration is looking like a likely semi-main event for the April PPV.  I kinda think that, unless Mick's actually down with doing a 2 or 3 match singles series against Orton, this might be pulling the trigger a little too soon.  But on the upside, if they use the Brand Shuffle to make Orton a singles character (no Evolution), it might add a lot of drama and tension to the feud.  And plus, you make Mick do the J-O-B to this Bastion of Mediocrity in April, and maybe Orton'll actually get back to defending the IC belt before summertime....  we'll have to see.
     
    For better or worse, once you move beyond that, RAW doesn't have a whole lot of pressing issues that will demand TV time tonight.  OK, so Bald Molly sure as hell should get some airtime to begin her rebuilding process after the humiliation of the past couple weeks...  and Victoria SHOULD be the target.  But really, it won't matter.  But beyond that, just about everybody on RAW would be as well served to do randomly generated skits/matches, be they against other RAW talent or against SD! stars.
     
    And again, that's kind of what I expect: a very interpromotional feel to tonight's show outside of the the top 2 or 3 storylines.  I'm not sure if I'm ready to say that I'm expecting it to be fun.  I still remember the last "draft," and don't want to get burned again.  But my curiousity is definitely piqued, and I'll be watching tonight with rapt attention.  I'm sure you will be, too.
     
    If you don't, well lucky you, you can still just come on back to OO tomorrow for the complete recap, as done by OO's exceptionally insightful, quick-witted, and ruggedly-handsome The Me.
     
  • Now, to get back to a few more Bigger Picture elements of tonight's Lottery...
     
    The most common e-mail I got over the weekend was people expanding on my section regarding "All Out War."  Predictably, the feedback tended towards taking my already wild theory and making it even more so, by having it morph into an actual WWE vs. WCW/ECW storyline.  I say "predictably" not to cast a value judgment, but just because I think by this point the one sure thing you can say about us (me included) as a class of fans is that none of us are entirely satisfied with the way the inVasion played out and we want to see them try it again.
     
    The different ways to turn either Monday or Thursday night into a renegade show not under the WWE banner were myriad, but most tended towards Bischoff somehow taking RAW by the horns and turning it into Nitro.  And already, I can tell you that I don't see this happening.  Even if they decided to revive the WCW name, Vince is too proud of his baby to have RAW -- even in fake storylines and perception only -- "job" to Nitro.
     
    Actually, the only way I can see something even remotely like this playing out is something that I just occurred to me over the weekend.  It helped that I actually got to see SD! (which I hadn't when I did Friday's column), as it planted the seed in my mind that somebody has apparently decided that Paul Heyman is disposable.  And he shouldn't be.
     
    But tell me that didn't feel like an outro for Heyman on Thursday night... he boasted about "his" SmackDown and his vision for the show.  And then promptly got piledriven.  If nothing else, he should be absent for a week or two to sell the injury.  It certainly doesn't seem like he's the bullet-proof, untouchable, "guaranteed to be here next week" guy he claimed he was.  Even though I strongly protest that it's too soon, too non-sensical based on recent history, I wouldn't be shocked if this meant Stephanie McMahon was on her way back to head up SD! at her dad's behest.  [I continue to stump for a return of Pure Heel Steph: in a perfect world, rejoining HHH and/or Evolution on screen in a managerial role.]
     
    Whether Bischoff joins Paul on the unemployment line or not, it doesn't really matter: the idea is that Paul or both of them could, along with a cadre of dissatisfied wrestlers who "secede" from the brand split, show up in a month or so and throw a monkey wrench into the works.  If they have enough star power, the storyline mechanism for granting them a renegade brand -- maybe even using the WCW or ECW or "Nitro" brand names -- could be fabricated.
     
    Even if I see a sort of way you could get to an "interpromotional war," I see it as extremely implausible.  For one, the reason for the lottery is to cover up absences and a lack or star power: any attempt to create a "renegade" faction would only make matters worse by requiring that there be THREE brands, at least for a while until the two WWE brands coalesced into one.  And I just don't know of the Fed has the horses for that.  Well, check that: they've got the horses, but their inability to get anything out of talents like RVD and Rhyno and an entire roster of Cruiserweights beside Rey Mysterio doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence that they'd know how to run the horses.
     
    It's fun to think about and talk about, and there are a ton of cool ways the Fed could implement this that would get us talking and raving.  But I think they'll make the safer, more conventional play and just shuffle up the RAW and SD! brands, as advertised.  Any "war" you get will be just between those two shows...  and even then, some of the ideas I laid out for on-going RAW vs. SD! storylines were pretty out-there and implausible, already.  We don't need to go looking for even crazier theories.
     
    Quickly, a final e-mail feedback thing from Friday: another very common concern was my thought about going back to a unified champ, and how that would ruin house show business, because the champ could only appear on one show, and WWE runs concurrent house shows three nights a week.  My retort: that the champ will always have an "A-feud" and a "B-feud" under my scheme, and he just goes to whichever house show is his "A-feud."  The other brand is already going to be making due with another, non-title-based storyline as its headliner, and the distribution of top stars should make it a simple matter to run a marketable main event even in the absence of a world title.
     
    I was very disappointed that the only feedback I got about my "Rule 5 Draft" concept was one person telling me that I drastically over-simplified baseball's rules and that I could have made that discussion better by including more of the nuances in my wrestling version of the annual draft.  Really?  I thought it was already complicated enough, and until WWE introduces 25-man rosters (RAW or SD?) and 40-man protected rosters (the other 15 guys on Heat or Velocity?), I'd only have made it unnecessarily confusing to the 95 percent of readers who don't have an in-depth knowledge of baseball's rules.  So my simple version is what you got: and to be honest, it was probably my favorite of the ideas I presented, which is why I was let down by the lack of enthusiastic responses about how ingenious I am....
     
    Anyway, enough Lottery/Interpromotional talk for now...  some of our questions will be answered tonight.  And others will be made clear in the next few weeks.  The goal of this, make no mistake, is to create way more brand cross-overs, as the Fed doesn't much like this "70 percent brand loyal" figure.  I doubt we've hit on any plausible theories here at OO, so let's all just stay tuned...
     
  • Final rating for last week's SD! was a 3.6; as we thought after seeing the prelim rating bounce back up, the final rating was also back up where it belonged for SD!.  After a dramatic dip the week before (perhaps due to conference basketball tournament preemptions), the 3.6 is a tie for the year's best rating for SD!.
     
    Combined with RAW's second-best rating of the year last,  that made for a very successful post-Mania week for the Fed.  Now, to sustain that interest...
     
  • Still nothing concrete about Kurt Angle's injury status... he was absent from last week's SD! tapings, but I know he will be present as part of the Lottery tonight, with his level of involvement in storylines being dictated by how good or bad the news he's gotten from doctors is.  
     
    And even though nobody's quite sure what the future will hold for Angle, WWE is still hoping to use Angle vs. Eddie as the main event of the May SD! PPV.  They have the extra time to burn till that show, so unless they hear back conclusively that Angle needs surgery and is done, that's gonna remain the plan.  The hope is that things'll work out and Angle can go forward with the feud....
     
  • In that same vein, kind of: Big Show was originally going to take some time off after Mania.  I was wrong a week or two back: it's not one knee he needs cleaned up, it's BOTH.  Probably something to do with being 7-foot and close to 500 lbs. not being easy on the wheels...
     
    The surgery was expected to sideline him for about 2 months, but because of Lesnar's departure and the lingering uncertainty about Angle, he's postponed it and will continue to work in pain.
     
    Although there seems to be a vibe of cautious enthusiasm about Angle being OK as we start the week, the plan if there is bad news about Kurt would be to have Show step up as Eddie's challenger for May.  I hope it won't come to that, as I think a repaired and healthy Big Show would be much more valuable as a serious later challenger for Eddie (playing off the "I beat you for the US Title" theme) than as a throw-away, pre-surgery challenger....
     
  • Some interesting observations about Bill Goldberg... well, one interesting observation, and then vague conjecture, really.
     
    WWE's website still features Goldberg's bio as part of the RAW roster.  A week ago, they couldn't move quickly enough to remove Brock Lesnar's from the SD! side... and yet, Goldberg's remains.
     
    Now, the widely-accepted conventional wisdom is that Goldberg and WWE are done.  That's why WM20 had him getting Stunnered and sent off into the sunset the way it did.  But the door is not slammed COMPLETELY shut.  In the weeks leading into Mania, we got word that WWE and Goldberg were at least talking about extending their relationship, which is more than they were doing for the months preceding.  If nothing else, it seems a product of those talks is that WWE is not excising Goldberg's name from all things public quite as quickly as they did with Brock's...  we're in kind of a holding pattern in which perhaps things might change.  Or maybe they won't.  We just don't know.
     
    The conventional thinking is that WWE will just not be able to get out of Goldberg what they really need, that they'd be better served to promote from within than trying to milk main events out of Goldberg at his high asking price.  Goldberg basically wants a part time job, and thinks he should be able to be a huge star just by doing what he's always done in the past.  WWE believes Goldberg needs to adapt and improve his work to fit in with their other main eventers, something that won't happen working 4 or 5 dates per month.  So it's kind of an impasse, unless both sides see the value in working out a sort of Special Attraction deal, where Goldberg works only very limited dates so as not to over-expose him.  Kind of puts him on a feud-by-feud basis, or something...
     
    It could be a deal that sort of compliments his Japan deal (where he signed for something like a half-dozen matches over the course of two years).  The Fed could retain a relationship with Goldberg, bust him out when they need a trump card... but they wouldn't ever rely on him to carry a brand on his shoulders like they did late last year.
     
    Not to unnecessarily stir the pot, but since I'm bringing it up: one possible "trump card" use for Goldberg might be as an ace-in-the-hole for this Lottery mess.  Just thinking out loud, here, but theoretically, if Bischoff and Heyman were gonna somehow form a renegade promotion using disgruntled wrestlers who have seceded from the brand split, who better to use as the surprise center piece than the one-time anchor of WCW, Bill Goldberg?
     
    Ah, forget I mentioned it....
     
  • Following the success of the Ric Flair DVD set, it sounds like the Fed is slapping together another in the same vein: a Best of the Four Horsemen set.  Could be very cool, and there's certainly plenty of material to mine...
     
    Also on the DVD front: the WrestleMania XX DVD has been confirmed as a three-disc set.  The nearly-five-hour event split between two DVDs, and then one of bonus material (including the UPN special "The Mania of WrestleMania" and a ton of WM weekend stuff and interviews and whatnot).
     
    Something NOT to look for on the WM20 DVD: a whole lot of Hall of Fame emphasis.  The Fed is putting together a separate DVD release for the Hall of Fame ceremony, complete with all the induction/acceptance speeches and historical video packages.
     
  • While I'm thinking "DVD," I'll also remind you that tomorrow is the release date for two, count 'em TWO, DVDs of interest to wrestling fans.  First is the Rock's "The Rundown," which got a Thumbs Up from me in the pure brain candy vein.  The other is a special edition of "Beyond the Mat" with a ton of new stuff, including a commentary from Jesse Ventura and more.  "Beyond the Mat" was pretty much a must-see documentary for wrestling fans and I can't imagine they did anything except to make it even cooler with the additional features.
     
  • As part of the promotion for the release of the new "Beyond the Mat," remember this: Jesse Ventura is doing an MSN chat tomorrow night at 9pm (eastern).  It's a rare chance to hear Jesse in "wrestling mode," and you oughta check it out.
     
    Here's the link for you to bookmark.  Get there a little early and see if you can sneak some intelligent questions in!
     
  • The WWE pay-per-view schedule has been confirmed as adding at least two extra events during the remainder of 2004.  The first dual PPV month will be June, when RAW gets the "standard" PPV date in the middle of the month, and SD! gets an "add-on" show two weeks later.  RAW will also get ownership of the July PPV, under this scenario, before the Joint PPV at SummerSlam.
     
    It's too far out to say for sure, but I'd guess that SD! would then get September's PPV.
     
    And then in October, the Fed's thinking about trying something nutty: SD! would retain the usual Sunday night PPV for the month (echoing RAW's June/July two-fer), but RAW would get a special Tuesday night timeslot, as WWE wants to experiment with non-conventional PPV.  If this holds up, it would be the first regularly scheduled non-Sunday PPV since... well, I forget the year, but the Survivor Series held on to the "night before Thanksgiving" gimmick at least through the mid-90s.  
     
    Interesting stuff...
     
  • Last thing for today, a little Story Time...
     
    So last evening, I was feeling very sad.  My NCAA tourney bracket took a massive hit, a hit made doubly worse by the fact that the Hated Xavier Musketeers and their gut-wrenching success were a big part of the problem.  And also: no more new "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for another year, dammit.  Very sad, indeed.
     
    So I clicked on my recording of "Confidential" from the night before, and got me a quirky little Pick Me Up.  Nah, I'm not talking about the Hall of Fame segment, although that was kind of nice.  I'm sure as hell not talking about the self-promotional "The Rundown" stuff.
     
    I'm talking about one of those very special moments of Pure Vindication.  You know, when there's something you always BELIEVED was true in your heart, but which you never quite had hard evidence of.  And then you get that evidence.  That's what happened to me last night.
     
    When I saw Randy Orton drinking a Corona (possibly even a Corona Light), with a freaking lime in it.
     
    I can't explain exactly how or why, but that was just what I needed to see.  It was too perfect.  I have this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink in public.  My theory about people who drink Beer With Fruit In It, well... I guess it'd be overstating things to say "People who drink beer with fruit in it are in possession of vaginas."  But they are clearly exhibiting girlish tendencies.  And somehow, I would have guessed that about Randy Orton, even before Confidential's SHOCKING EXPOSE!
     
    Batista?  He drinks Heineken.  Even with his glossy metrosexual sheen, Batista suddenly seems a little bit cooler to me... a little bit less the bitch of Evolution....
     
  • And with that, we are through.  Check out RAW tonight, if it is your wont.  Be sure to come back for OO's RAW Recap if it is not.  See y'all tomorrow....

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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