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RAW Rocks, Rock Rolls, ECW Stuff,
More Unpleasantness, and Other News...
March 31, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, that's the last time I ever watch a baseball game at 5am...  I completely throw my schedule out of whack to see the Yankees' opener, and they get shellacked by the freaking Devil Rays.  D'oh.

It was actually still kinda fun to watch.  In school, I convinced my International Management prof to let me do a semester-long research project on baseball in Japan.  In the process of churning out a 40 page paper and hour-long presentation, I learned a few interesting things about how the sport is different over there.  So I still thought it was cool to get to watch a game in that setting.

And yes, of course I got an "A" for the course.  What else would you expect from the guy who graduated Summa cum Pompous?  I can count my Bs on one hand with fingers left over.  And if you think that's incongruous with my claims about being a championship booze hound and party beast, well then, you simply have never gotten to experience the splendor that is The Rick.  I make it all look so easy...

Anyway, now I'm back to a regular schedule, and inevitably, to ditching the small talk for the actual wrestling news:

  • And unfortunately, we have to start with more news in the same vein as Monday's unpleasantness...
    Two years after the fact, attendants on a WWE charter flight back from Europe to the US are suing the Fed and specifically naming three wrestlers, as well.  That's the flight that was dubbed "The Flight From Hell" in some circles and that pretty much led to the dismissals of both Scott Hall and Curt Hennig from the company.
    A lot of the unpleasantness of that flight was "worker on worker" chicanery: in other words, only WWE personnel were affected by the bad behavior.  This is the plane ride where Brock Lesnar and Curt Hennig decided to figure out who was the better amateur wrestler by grappling dangerously close to a side hatch, where Dustin Runnels made uncomfortable advances on his ex-wife Terri, and where Michael Hayes got an unscheduled haircut because the boys didn't like him.
    None of that comes into play in this suit, however.
    Ric Flair, Scott Hall, and Dustin Runnels are all individually named in the suit as sexually harrassing female flight attendants.  WWE is named because they're the company that rented the charter jet and because they have a lot of money.
    The specific claims have Flair prancing around in one of his robes (and nothing else) and insisting that one attendant meet "Li'l Naitch"...  Hall propositioning one attendant for a BJ at 20000 Feet and licking another one inappropriately (when is an appropriate time to lick a flight attendant?)...  and Runnels for grabbing another attendant forcibly and suggesting that they have sex.
    With the exception of Flair's semi-naked romp (which, it needs to be noted, is actually in the class of "Things you hear about and that happens a lot but you just don't talk about it" because Flair does/did this often and he's usually pretty harmless about it, so people let it slide), these are all new accusations, which is pretty remarkable considering how easily that ride was dubbed the Flight From Hell with only the other details...
    After the incident(s), WWE was publicly apologetic, and JR even went on the company website to say it was a case of drunken men behaving badly and the front office would make sure that never happened again.  Though it was never implicitly stated, and though there were other factors, the dismissals of Hall and Hennig were both attributable, at least in part, to management cleaning house after the flight.  After those moves, this Flight From Hell sort of evaporated as an issue.
    Now, the company stands to get a ton of negative publicity with the flight being re-hashed with this lawsuit.  Although only Flair remains with WWE, the company itself is named, and the impression of institutional irresponsibility may come to the forefront and present PR problems.  So far, WWE has not commented on the case.  It'll be interesting to see what their move is...
    The lawsuit was first mentioned in an article by the Arizona Republic.  Thanks to all who forwarded it.  You can also check out that article by clicking here.
  • I guess we might as well talk briefly update the unpleasantness from Monday, too...
    A few other reports from Tampa's Sunday house show have surfaced, and they seem to further vindicate Eddie Guerrero.  Although Eddie's did have a few unkind words for the guy who tossed a drink at his daughter, he did NOT come back out to the ring after the show angry (which was the initial report I got).  He came out very calm, I guess, just to check things out and make sure justice was being served.  It was only after the perp got hostile and shouted at Eddie that Eddie got geared back up again.  That's when people had to hold Eddie back.  
    It sounds like Eddie was 100% in the right here, and at no point instigated or even facilitated the episode.
    And about Steve Austin's domestic disturbance:  there's actually no real update here.  Cops still haven't made a move towards pressing charges, but apparently his (ex-)girlfriend would still like them to.  But I do have to mention the story again just because a few readers got the impression that I somehow condoned Austin's actions in my Monday column.  Which is such a complete mis-read of my words that I can't let it stand.
    Look, I'll play the heel and do "fruit in beer" riffs for weeks to annoy scores of you, but even just a half-dozen folks who think I said it was OK for Austin to shove his girlfriend makes me very defensive.  Yes, I said the woman should "chill out," because she's obviously not hurt and it didn't seem like there was a whole lot of real violence here.  But didn't I do condemn Austin for living in a fantasy world where violence against women is apparently OK, too?  Yes, I did.  Look, I'm not going to apologize for thinking that, in the absence of physical harm, a person needs to be rational and thick-skinned enough to let some things slide.  It was GOOD she called the cops, probably, cuz that stopped things from escalating.  It's ABSOLUTELY FINE if she thinks Steve Austin is an asshole and wants to leave him.  But I'm just not a fan of litigation in a case where just walking away and never going back will have the desired effect.
    I don't know what that makes me, but please, don't try to figure out a way that it makes me a wife beater; I'm really not even much of a guy beater.  Maybe you can think me some kind of moral relativist, since this ultimately boils down to yet another case of me thinking there's a big difference between what's on the books as "Law" and what's actually "Right."
  • OK, so I'm sorry.  That was way too early in the column to be throwing in rants like that.  Let's get back to wrestling news.  HAPPY wrestling news...
    Monday's RAW was freaking awesome.  On par with the previous week's show, and probably even a little better.  Definitely better if you take into account it was a standard wrestling show, not some gimmicky Lottery show.
    Finding holes in the Monday's show is tough, and as I said in yesterday's RAW Recap, they might be limited to two segments: Molly/Nidia (where the ending seemed a bit off, and I thought Molly should have gotten the post-match revenge so it didn't seem quite so anti-climactic) and Storm/Rhyno (which had the taint of pointlessness, unless it really is heading where a lot of you folks think it's heading, but more on that later).
    Pretty much everything else -- be it promo, or skit, or wrestling match -- ranged from very good to outstanding.  You give me 90 minutes of Very Good or Better, 10 minutes of Eh (and 30 minutes of commercials), and I'm gonna be very, very pleased.
    Shelton Benjamin got handed a huge chance on Monday, and for one night, he sure made the best of it.  He didn't really have to show a whole lot in terms of personality in his promos (his best work was silently REACTING to other guys talking to him), but once in the ring, he busted out a sort of in-ring charisma and likeability and had the perfect foil to bring it out of him in the ever-despicable HHH.
    Kudos to the creative team, the announcers, and the performers for setting the stage perfectly with Benjamin's roller coaster ride (confident, concerned, then confident again but still overmatched by all conventional wisdom).  And then double kudos to Benjamin and HHH for delivering the goods.  The psychology of the opening minutes was awesome, and the action picked up nicely by the end.
    I also loved the Highlight Reel.  I lack the vocabulary to adequately describe how perfect Jericho was on Monday.  His cathartic explosion of mean-spirited one liners was exactly what he needed to do (even if I'm already tired of the return of the "trashbag ho" routine).  Trish was OK, too. She definitely needs to lose the nervous pacing, but she seemed adequately bitchy and also provided the more storyline-advancement side of things by actually explaining why she did what she did.  Could you find flaws in her logic?  Sure, but in terms of the vast class of "Retroactive Explanations for a Swerve Heel Turn," hers was among the better ones I can recall.  It tied in the elements of what we already knew ("Trish likes it rough") with elements they are clearing trying to promote now ("Trish is a slut"), so Trish being so easily seduced by a guy who beat her up earlier in the night and then plotting with him against a new common enemy?  I'll buy it.
    Other big winners: the opening Evolution promo generaled by Flair which eventually set up Orton/Foley...  the Evolution vs. Michaels/Benoit tag title match, especially the hot finish...  and HHH's promo that ended with him in the PPV title match.  All good stuff.
    Last week, I called RAW "the most fun I've had watching wrestling in a Monday night in a long, long time."  This week, I think the same exact label applies: RAW matched, if not topped, itself.  Tremendous show.
    And again, I'm being curt here because I've already said my piece in the RAW Recap.  Check it out.  It's got the results for those who missed the show, but it's got my sparkling analysis and witty asides for those who saw the show but would like to break it down a little bit.  
  • Who else liked RAW on Monday?  Mr. Nielsen did.
    RAW scored a 4.3 cable rating.  Yeah, that's a drop of 0.2 from the rating for the RAW Lottery, but I gotta admit I'm pretty pleasantly surprised to see that RAW held on to as many of those new viewers as they did.  The 4.3 is still well above RAW's year-to-date average, is the second highest-rated show of 2004 so far, and is as high a rating as RAW has gotten since its mini-run of success late last summer (Kane's unmasking, start of Goldberg's title push, etc.).
    Do I be a wise ass and suggest that Shelton Benjamin and Tajiri are responsible for the big ratings?  I mean, clearly, the SD! fans checked out RAW last week, and they decided to come on back to keep tabs on their Favorite SmackDown! Superstars, right?  Without them, RAW would have been right back in the mid-3's!  Or maybe not... but any excuse to inappropriately pimp Tajiri's a good one!
    I anxiously await a chance to see if RAW can sustain this momentum, unlike what happened after the first draft in 2002.  Also to find out if SD! ever gets any of the reciprocal ratings rub; though this might be a tough stretch, as the NBA makes a final push to the play-offs and Thursday night preemptions for hoops are becoming more common.  I already know that Atlanta's screwed on SD! this week... maybe some other markets, too.
  • OK, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention this:  I know you're all hot for a "New ECW."  I know Paul Heyman quitting fed into your theories.  I know Lance Storm bitching about being unappreciated on RAW did, too.  So does the fact that WWE is actually producing an ECW DVD to be released in a few months.  
    In short: I know all the reasons to want to HOPE for a New ECW angle.  What I don't have are the hard facts to BELIEVE that it's happening.
    That said, there is at least SOME buzz about it becoming a reality soon.  Mostly what I get is some of my third-hand news guys thinking out loud about how it'd be a good thing to try to open up "more spots."  But one indie source, in particular, seems to think there's more than theory going on here: that WWE is really set to start an ECW "territory" complete with its own TV show (he says the Velocity slot), regular house shows, and the whole nine.

    This source has been very helpful and accurate in the past, so I'll at least pass this along.  But I gotta admit to some misgivings.  Not just because of the lack of independent confirmation, but also because the details sound uncomfortably close to my 2002 April Fools joke column.  I'm talking down to details about the "two tier" developmental system, expectations about the company's touring ability, and Tommy Dreamer being installed as Paul Heyman's right hand man.
    You can find that column in the archives if you want; or maybe I'll run it as an OOld School tomorrow.  It was really funny, and the top two stories had people suckered in.  I can promise you that since I'm blanking on any ideas this year that would be equally effective, there WON'T be an April Fools column this year.  You can believe everything you see here at OO tomorrow.  That Canadian Bulldog is a bastion of factual information!
    So anyway, the main point: there's a possibility you folks really will be getting your New ECW.  Maybe.  I don't know for sure, though.  But if it happens, goddammit, I want a job there because obviously this whole operation was my idea from 2 years ago.
  • If you missed 'em, the spoilers for exactly what will be happening on Thursday's SD! are right here.  Atlanta, I guess you have an excuse to peak.  The rest of you: I think you're all sucking the joy out of watching the show.
    One of these weeks, I'll make good on my threat to never publish spoilers again, because I hate ruining the show for myself!  It's all part of my plan to try to turn OO into the website that I wish WWE.com had the balls to be:  smart and self-critical when it's OK to be analytical, but magnificently ignorant and markish when you're supposed to be those things, too.  I'll keep the sub-site with the half-naked pictures of hot babes, too.
  • Speaking of the babes (see, I told you I make it all look easy!), my understanding is that the Diva Challenge to determine who'll be on the cover of next months Diva Magazine has been whittled down to two: Gail Kim and Torrie Wilson.
    That's kind of funny.  I mean, I know I endorsed Gail's cover as being particularly hot, but in a popularity contest, I didn't expect a girl who hasn't been on TV for five months to make it to the finals against a girl who's front and center every week (and naked in Playboy).  Maybe all you fine voters out there are just as discerning and discriminating as I, and actually voted based on attractiveness of the actual photo than based on TV push.
    I think you still have time to vote, if you want.  Personally, I'm still in cynical mode and think the thing's rigged.  No way is Ms. Currently On TV NOT on the cover.  Unless... maybe they could make it into an angle.  Gail's on the cover and suddenly reappears on TV all full of herself and bitchy because she got the cover?  Or maybe comes back all popular and thankful because she won the vote?  I don't know...  maybe there's nothing there.  But it was a thought.   
  • "Walking Tall" opens on Friday, but already reviews are coming out.  There were sneak previews over the weekend, open to the public, in many markets, and a few OO readers attended, and said nice things.  I mean, it ain't "The Godfather," but it was another well-executed example of what the Rock's trying to do at this point of his career: simple action movies with a lot of humor.
    In this way, early buzz is pretty much on par with what existed leading up to "The Rundown."  I ended up liking "The Rundown" a lot, so maybe I'll change my tune here... maybe Rocky can carry a movie even without Walken?  All I know is I wasn't a fan of "The Scorpion King," so to me, Rock's batting .500, which wasn't gonna be enough to get me to a theater just because a wrestler's in a movie.
    Critics reviews have been along the same lines, too.  I was bouncing around a few sites yesterday, and it seems like there are a lot of "B" and "*** out of ****" ratings, which is about the best you'll ever see for a pure brain-candy movie like this.
  • Keeping on the Rock roll: I still only know of three major appearances that you need to be aware of as he promotes the movie this week.
    Tomorrow (Thursday) morning, he'll do Howard Stern (which will, in turn, show up on TV in a few weeks, I'm sure).  Tomorrow night, he's on Letterman.  Friday night, he's on Conan.
    I really wish Rocky would do the Daily Show, since I'd like to see what tack Jon would take with him... but Rock's too big for that.  I think he's sending Johnny Jackass to handle "Walking Tall" pub on Comedy Central.
  • And finally, regarding the Rock:  we've discussed this before, but in the movie Rocky just got done filming -- "Be Cool," which is the sequel to "Get Shorty" --  he's playing a gay Samoan bodyguard with dreams of becoming a Hollywood star.
    Now, in that movie, Rock's just an ensemble player, not the star... but I honestly think if he's gonna be a movie star, that's gonna be the role that puts him there.  It'll pretty much be the first time he's not playing himself.  Maybe he'll have made more money with other movies where he was the star, but this'll be the one where America decides "Hey, this guy's good, I want to pay money to see him in movies."
    When I first heard about the role, my first thought was that it was perfect for Rock.  You needed a big Samoan-looking guy, and the wanting to act, and the whole thing... it seemed like just the sort of thing he could sink his teeth into.  That's exactly what Rock thought, too.  Thing is, he later found out that author Elmore Leonard (these movies were books, first, people... you know books, right?) actually created the character based on the Rock.
    Rock made this revelation during a recent interview to promote "Walking Tall," which you can read here.  It's pretty good stuff (with other info like SpyHunter starting up in July and the King Kamehemeha bio pic not happening until Rock is sure he is ready as an actor).  But dammit, it also means that that line about "Rock not playing himself" is crap:  if anything, this role is the role where he MOST be playing himself.  Or at least, himself as dramatized by Elmore Leonard.
  • Correction time: Edge's "Never Gonna Stop" theme song was NOT commissioned by WWE.  It was actually on one of Rob Zombie's solo albums, and Edge adopted it.  My bad.
    That said, the theme was there in full force on Monday night when Edge made his appearance.  This after WWE dubbed over the theme on repeat/video package airings of his run-in from last Monday.  So who the hell knows what's going on?
    Two or three people have asked if this might be like Hulk Hogan using Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" as his theme in WCW, and how the company would only let him come out to that song once per show, because they were paying some ludicrous fee (I remember $10,000, but don't quote me) every time the song was played.  And they'd make sure that use of the song never showed up in replays or anything, because then they'd have to pay again.
    Hey, it makes as much sense as anything I can figure out in my own head, except for the part where there's no way in hell Rob Zombie's is commanding the same kind of price as the Estate of Jimi Hendrix, so I can't imagine what the big deal is.  And anyway, don't I also remember WWE letting Hogan use as many times of "Voodoo Chile" per show as he wanted back in 2002?  So why would they screw with Edge?

    There's gotta be something else here.  Maybe something with international rights?  WWE only produces so many video packages, so if an Edge one has to air in England and it can't use Rob Zombie, then we all get a video package where the theme is dubbed over?  I don't know...  it's pretty non-sensical to me...
  • And now we've reached the end....  man, this hurts.  I can't think of a single good excuse to bring up Randy Orton drinking beer that has fruit in it.  Thus ends the streak!
    But:  did you know that "Legend Killer Randy Orton" can be re-arranged to spell "Tell nerd! Girly Korona Den!"?  It can.  Thank you OO Reader Shawn D for combining my two favorite ways of pissing people off into one hilarious anagram!  
    If you miss the Orton/Corona jokes, just come on back Friday.  Unless some major news happens, I've got a column lined up that should pretty much kill that topic off once and for all.  You won't want to talk about wrestlers' favorite drinks ever again after I beat this horse dead!
    See you then....  if you dare.


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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