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RAW, Returning Star, Benoit, Rock News, 
Trish Wins Again, Other Midweek Stuff
April 14, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I don't know what's going on, but I'm getting worried...  it's the middle of April, the Reds are 3 games over .500 and still in first place, and last night, I looked out my window and saw freaking SNOW falling from the sky.

I'm not saying the Apocalypse is coming and that all women should report to my house for a final few days of bigamous bliss with The Rick while all men should arrive -- pre-castrated and wearing Nikes, please -- to fix our meals and drinks...  but I would probably feel safer if the Reds were eating Chicago and Houston's dust and we were brushing up against 70 degrees outside by this time next week....

This is just too spooky.  Or spOOky.  Yeah.

  • We'll start, as is my mid-week wont, with rehashing RAW really quickly.  As always, I said part of my piece in yesterday's RAW Recap, so you ought to check that out -- not only for the straight-up results, but also for my witty insights and asides!
    In short, I thought it was a show that put RAW right back where it had been the last two weeks of March: borderline outstanding, and up in 4.0-plus territory when BotB time rolls around this week.  After one week where they obviously put a bit of effort into maintenance and prepping for the following week, they were right back to blowing my socks off this week.
    Most things on the storyline side clicked, as I thought Mick opened the show with a strong promo and then the Foley-centric video package later on was one of the best of its kind that I've seen in a while.  I really like the idea of Mick manifesting other "Faces of Foley," and think I endorsed the return of Cactus Jack back a couple of months ago.  Bottom line: Foley/Orton has way more sizzle to it than I'd have guessed two weeks ago, when I was thinking it was a Foregone Conclusion and Foley'd be doing the Selfless Act at the PPV.  I mean, my brain still thinks that's probably what he'll do, but at least now, my hopes are unreasonably raised and thinking it might be something different.
    Jericho/Christian/Trish also got a nice boost.  The Highlight Reel was more very solid mic work by Y2J, then the post-match beatdown by Christian and Trish on Jericho was red hot and had them getting mega-heat for their actions.  It almost has me thinking that this feud might still have legs past Sunday's PPV: as long as WWE is willing to put Christian and Trish over, I think fans will bite on their heel routine and come back to see Jericho keep trying to get his revenge.
    [As an aside: the intervening Trish/Lita match wasn't any great shakes, as the two didn't seem totally comfortable working with each other, but it might point us to the reason why Molly has been unconscionably shoved aside in the Women's Title picture...  if the Fed puts the title on Lita on Sunday, then Trish vs. Lita is for the title.  Which is important, since lord knows the Fed can't get its head around the concept that they could have two simultaneous and completely independent feuds featuring the women...  Trish vs. Lita already has Jericho and Christian, and I don't think it needs the title, too, but I'm starting to think that's where we're headed.  And then Bald Molly vs. Victoria is headed straight to Heat.  If that.  Which it shouldn't have to if it was still about the title.]
    [An aside to my aside: since screwing Molly over is probably my only substantive complaint about this week's RAW, it's the only chance for me to apply my prodigious problem solving ability.  In this case, they're getting to the point where Molly is approaching socially acceptable hair length, probably, and any chance to reward her for going bald with a serious push as a driven psycho heel is gone... unless: they keep the title on Victoria, heed my advice about running with Trish vs. Lita as a second and independent women's feud, and then have Molly at some point after being invisible for about a month, return with a vengeance to decimate Victoria after a RAW match.  Then she willingly removes the wig, revealing... a still-shaved skull.  And then she cuts a killer promo about how she will never let herself forget about what Victoria did to her, and to remind herself every day, she will keep her head shaved until she wins back what is hers, the Women's Title, and destroys Victoria in the process.  Make it the start of a month-long chase to the June PPV, have Molly win.  Have her hold onto the title long enough to grow her hair back and have haircutting be a forgotten issue in the feud that results in her losing the belt.  Pure genius, I tells ya: and it works as a big "thank you" to Molly for working hard to have credible matches last year to help elevate the women's title and also for CUTTING HER FREAKING HAIR OFF WHICH HAS AS YET BEEN USED ONLY FOR COMEDIC PURPOSES BY WWE WHICH IS WRONG FOR MANY REASONS.  But I digress...]
    Back to Monday, where I was praising the storytelling side of things...  another Thumbs Up goes to working Shelton Benjamin into the mix enough that he'll come out of Backlash (against Flair) in good shape, but without detracting from Evolution's other issues (primarily Orton and HHH's matches).  
    And a Dork Thumbs Up goes to the Tajiri/Coach/Ninja segment, simply because I knew from the first split second where it was going, knew in my head that I was probably one of 10 percent of people who'd get the genius of it.  Kind of like how I'd bet a testicle that every one of you Star Wars fanboys out there must have wet yourselves in glee when Anakin Skywalker said "I have you now" in a Darth Vader-y cadence on some cartoon Star Wars mini-movie I found myself sucked into watching this past weekend.  I'm not sure what the thing was, but I saw that little in-joke and I said, "Whoa, I get it... but I bet my brother's somewhere nursing a raging boner."  Meantime, I reserved my dork-on for the return of Shinobi the Ninja.  So really, which of us is less lame?  Probably me, since I'll rescind every ounce of enjoyment I got out of that segment if Tajiri/Coach ends with anything other than Tajiri kicking the holy living crap out of Coach at the PPV...  but you'll all actually stand by, in denial, and try to convince me that this latest prequel trilogy hasn't sucked major ass.
    And again, with the digressing... even the storyline elements that were kind of disposable were still pretty enjoyable.  Like Kane squashing a returning superstar as a tease of what he'll do to Edge.  Or Edge spearing Johnny Nitro to practically ensure that Nitro will be used to ref Edge/Kane at the PPV.  Or Eugene being used in a non-obnoxious way to spruce up an otherwise forgettable Hurricane/Grenier match (and to think I kind of thought Erin's non-hatred of Eugene was little more than naive optimism).
    And you take a strong storyline show that put just the right amount of icing on this Sunday's PPV cake, then add in a killer main event wrestling match?  I couldn't ask for anything more.
    The end result is that I'm more excited about RAW, in general, than I've been in a long time.  A month of exceptionally strong efforts will do that for you... and more pertinent: I'm more excited about a brand-specific PPV than I've been in... well, at least since Vengeance, but maybe since the start of the brand-specific PPVs last year.  
    But we'll talk about Backlash on Friday (where, after some straw polling, it's looking like we've got at least an 8-man Team Coverage PPV Preview gimmick coming your way)...  for now, easy Thumbs Up for RAW.  And again, for the full results of the show, check the Recap.
  • The rating for Monday's show didn't reflect the quality of the outing... it held steady at a 3.8, the same as the week before when RAW kind of took a "rebuilding week" and also went up against the NCAA Championship game.
    So without the finale to March Madness as competition, and with the heavily-hyped main event that they spent the previous week building up, RAW gained no viewers.  That sucks.  If RAW sticks in the upper-3's, that'll be good for a tick or two above its year-to-date averages, but it's still disappointing that they couldn't hold onto the increasing audience that showed up for the Lottery.
    Unlike the drop-off following the first Draft, this one's not the Fed's fault: RAW's actually be stronger since the Lottery, whereas both brands were weakened noticeably in the first draft.
  • Brian "Grandmaster Sexay" Lawler returned to RAW on Monday, and despite the fact that he immediately got crushed by Kane, it was NOT a one-shot deal.  He's under contract and will apparently be assigned to RAW full-time.
    One might have thought a return to SD!, where his history with Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi could have been used (perhaps even by having a jealous Sexay play a heel role, either taking on a tag partner to challenge the champs or working eventually as a CW heel), would have been more logical, but hey, what do we know?
    The Fed's always liked Sexay's package: he's smaller, but he's got charisma and can talk.  And it doesn't hurt that his dad is as entrenched as anyone on the roster.  The Fed just didn't like Sexay's getting pinched at customs in Canada with drugs.  But that was over 2 years ago now, and has blown over.  Even with WWE being a bit more conscious of PR gaffes these last few weeks, the coast was plenty clear for Sexay to return.
    I know there have been discussions about him coming back dating back many months, but I had no idea anything was really imminent until I saw him prance out on RAW same time as the rest of you...  we'll have to see if they have any long-term plan in place for him, or if it takes a while for him to find his footing on Monday nights.
  • I should probably have talked about this on Monday, but it slipped my mind...
    The Rock's "Walking Tall" slipped three spots to fifth place at the box office over the weekend.  But that might not be so bad...  part of the tumble is due to the (ahem) resurrection of "The Passion," which capitalized on Easter Weekend to return to the top spot after dropping out of the top five.  It'll be back down again next week.  "Hellboy" was a strong #2, but "Walking Tall" actually held neck-and-neck with two new releases ("The Alamo" and "Johnson Family Vacation").  Out of those three, it was bottom-rung and in fifth place, but it still raked $8.5 million.  And it also held off three other heavily-hyped new releases (including last week's OO whipping boy "The Whole Ten Yards," which not unexpectedly -- at least not to me, even though I don't work in Hollywood -- made all of $6.5 million and finished eighth for the weekend).
    The box office usually takes a bit of a hit on Easter weekend, and if you discount the boost supplied by "The Passion," basically "Walking Tall" would have been right there battling with two new releases for second place, so that ain't too bad.  After a disappointing opening, we'll have to see if maybe this film's got more legs than "The Rundown," which faded pretty fast after its opening weekend.
  • Possible problems there: this weekend, the competition will be a bit stiffer in terms of new releases.  "Kill Bill Volume 2" will appeal massively to a certain type of film fan, while "The Punisher" (with Kevin Nash) will probably pick up where "Hellboy" left off in terms of siphoning off the young male audience.
    Speaking of Nash, he was on Jimmy Kimmel on Monday night.  Sorry about not warning you ahead of time in Monday's column, but I didn't know until I actually flipped past it part-way through the interview.  I almost didn't recognize Nash, who was sporting the same short-ish hair he got courtesy of Jericho last year, but had it more light brown, and somehow just didn't look like himself.  Or at least, not like any previous wrestling incarnation of himself...
    I gather the only real story he got to tell was the chestnut about getting stabbed on the set of "The Punisher."  Which we've all heard by now.  Wrestling didn't come up as long as I was watching, and from a couple e-mails I got, I don't think it came up at all.  It was all movie hype.  As far as I know, it was Nash's only TV appearance in support of "The Punisher."
  • Maybe I should soothe some Canuck Pride here today...
    I guess my lack of enthusiasm for the petition to re-acknowledge the Canadian roots of recently re-home-towned WWE stars on Monday pissed you off...  but honestly, it's not like WWE is being deceptive here.  In so far as I care about this issue (which isn't much), I think maybe it's more marketable to have a conclave of "openly Canadian" stars, since they're good for the box office up in the Great White North, and won't necessarily get booed down here unless they're obnoxious about it.  But I still don't see why you need to be doing petitions to change back Benoit or Jericho or Gail Kim's home towns.
    That'd be like Indianapolis natives getting up in arms over The Mighty Rick being billed from Dayton, OH, when he was BORN in Indy.  Speaking of which:  SD! was taped in Indianapolis last night, and OO's long-time Man on the Scene Robert Schutte filed a full report.  Is all SD! needed to get back on track a visit to my birthplace, where vestiges of my life force and sheer greatness linger?  I won't tell, but you can check the Spoilers, if you want.
    But for a third time, I'm getting way off track...
    The point here is that Canadians are getting their wish this week.  Kind of.  With Backlash taking place in Edmonton on Sunday, the Fed is openly acknowledging it as Benoit's home town and is playing it up as much as possible.  They even went so far as to publicize what flight he'd be arriving on in hopes of getting "hero's welcome" footage at the airport (as of this writing, I don't know how that went down).  
    Benoit's getting the hometown hero treatment, and WWE is documenting it and facilitating it any way they can.  I'm sure Lillian will be back to announcing "Currently Residing in Atlanta, Georgia" in 10 days time, but for this weekend, Benoit is 100% Canadian.
    Bask in it, you Canucks!  The closest thing I have to a hometown hero is Al Snow, so lord it over me, if you want!
  • After the PPV in Benoit's hometown of Edmonton, RAW is live the next night in Calgary.  And we can't help but notice that there might, hypothetically, be a certain former WWF star who hails from Calgary.
    We also can't help but notice Benoit using the Sharpshooter with a bit more frequency lately.  Or Jim Ross not so subtly using the line "Best there is, was, and ever will be" on RAW Monday.
    Now, is this guy in question on friendly terms with WWE?  Yep, and he has been for about 18 months, now.  Has the guy in question gone to great lengths the past few weeks to put Benoit over as a "Canadian Hero" in his newspaper column (assuming, whoever he is, that he has one)?  Sure.  Have I even heard tell that this person, and/or other members of his family, are actually expected as guests of WWE at points over the weekend?  You bet.
    But I've also got this hunch that if this guy actually shows up ON CAMERA in any capacity, WWE would want it to be kind of a surprise.  Which means he'll only show up if you're not expecting it and not talking about him or mentioning his name.
    So like a good Fan Boy who thinks there could be nothing cooler than World Champ Chris Benoit getting a little two-night endorsement from Some Canadian Guy, and sees very plausible ways that it could happen, I'm not saying a word.  I'm not gonna ruin or jinx anything.  
    But I also kind of think that the mere fact that WWE has teased us so in the last week is as good of evidence as any that the company WANTS us to think about the possibility and talk about it.  Which in turn, by my logic, means it won't happen.
    We'll see.  Just remember: I said nothing.
  • Final update on the FOXSports.com Hottest Sports Babe poll:  Trish Stratus won.
    She was in the Final Four and losing when I mentioned it Friday.  I'm sure you fine folks did your duty, though, because when I mentioned it on Monday, she was winning her Final Four Match.  Yesterday, I got the e-mails telling me Trish had won the whole thing.  Yippee!  I hope, in some small way, we contributed to the Deserving Victory.
    Actually, I don't feel bad about stuffing the box...  the worst crimes had already been committed before I even heard about the contest.  Trish caught some real lucky breaks.  I mean, I share the National Fascination with Anna Kournikova and probably put "Mia Hamm" not far behind "Being a Red Sox" on the list of reasons to hate Nomar and so on... but all the tough competition was gone by the time I started advocating, and I'm at a loss to explain why.
    Out of a final four that also consisted of Martina Hingis and two figure skaters (who for reasons probably related to the ridiculous make-up and costuming they are required to wear anytime I see them are just about the least-hot of sports babes, in my expert opinion), Trish was a no brainer.
    Keep trying, Trish: we'll turn on you, eventually.
  • I think that just about does it for me today.
    As alluded to above, Backlash is really glazing my donut, and I'm excited for this PPV...  and as such, I've been motivated to duplicate our WMXX PPV Preview gimmick.  We'll be including a bunch of other OO'ers thoughts and predictions, round-table style.
    So come on back for that on Friday if for no other reason than to find out which of the 8 of us who'll be playing guess the most matches right!
    And also, if there's news worth covering, I'll throw up a page of newsbites, too.  OO's got your back, baby.  See you then.



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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