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RAW Stuff, Bret, Dragon, Other News,
and the Mid-Week Mailbag!
April 21, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


My, my, my...  it's not looking like a particularly good week for The Me.  First I get smoked in the Backlash PPV Predictions Battle.  Then in Monday's column, I apparently make enough mistakes and controversial comments that fielded quite a bit of pissy e-mail.

Will I respond?  Will I be gracious, or will I be a dick when I do?  You'll just have to read on to find out:

  • Well, I was once again a big fan of Monday's RAW.  Fantastic "book ends" to the show, with the two very good matches.  And a mostly-delicious creamy filling, to boot, with good effective promos (Benoit/HBK and Orton/Edge), some quality comedy (Eugene/Regal), and the resurrection of Molly Holly.
    In fact, because I am a giant jerko, I will once again point out that one of my favorite Guilty Pleasure moments of the night was when Calgary got a "Randy, Randy" chant started to show respect to the kid what took the thumbtacks the night before...  but it was NOT QUITE as loud or intense as the "Molly, Molly" chant that came in the segment before.  Goes to show that the fans' respect is won over the course of months... not over the course of a 25 minute match.  Or something along those lines...  I was trying to be profound, and I think I failed.
    Anyway, the one thing that really stuck in my craw about RAW was Cade squashing Tajiri, and that's not quite enough to turn me against the show.  It's surprisingly close to being enough, though, because if this is all they had in mind for Tajiri, there is NO FUCKING REASON they should have moved him from the CW Division on SD, but...  [deep breath]...  fine, I like Tajiri, you're not obligated to agree with me, so I'll just drop it.
    The only other criticism of substance I could come up with is something that only occurred to me after the show: that Shelton Benjamin kind of got shat upon.  Two wins over HHH, and then a PPV win over Flair, and now he's working Heat this week.  Does Not Compute.  It's almost EXACTLY the problem that I outlined in my Backlash Predictions, where it would have been better for him to LOSE to Flair via Batista interference than to get a win and have his issue with Evolution be over... because a loser with a storyline is better than a winner working against Rhyno on Heat.
    Think about it:  at present, Shelton is done with Evolution and is re-setting on Heat.  They could bring him back to RAW next week and put him back in with Flair or HHH, but it'll be a stretch, and it'll be an issue that will have cooled off substantially.  
    My scenario: at Backlash, Shelton fights the good fight, but in the end, Batista shows up at ringside and helps Flair steal a cheap win.  The next night on RAW, you do everything EXACTLY the same, except for: when Edge confronts Orton and it leads to the Evolution beatdown, Benjamin joins Benoit in making the save.  Bischoff makes the main event: HHH/Flair/Batista vs. Benoit/Edge/Benjamin.  In that main event, you can have the faces go over so Benoit can celebrate in front of his countrymen, but I really don't think him being a double champion means THAT much in the grand scheme of things.  Then, in the next couple weeks, the Edge/Shelton partnership ends up getting a shot at Flair/Batista and THEY win the tag belts in a match that has a little more history behind it.  In the meantime, Benoit's not saddled with the "double champion" thing and his feud with HBK can go on full-speed.  You can also do a thing where Edge/Shelton are Evolution's Archnemeses: Edge already declared his lust for Orton and the IC belt, and Shelton has wins over HHH... there's even a possibility to do a thing where Edge and Shelton both decide they are interested in the IC Title, even as they are tag champs.  Maybe have it all end in a swerve and Shelton goes heel, or something, after HHH is gone and the rest of Evolution announces they actually RESPECT the kid for what they did to the now-absent leader.  I don't know, I'm essentially thinking out loud and typing this up at the speed of thought.  I just think there is a lot more sense going that way than what they did.  The goal should always be to give the most number of guys something interesting to do: instead, it's like they've given Benoit TOO MUCH to do, and its freezing a deserving guy out of the mix while also muddling storylines.
    And again, much like my Molly Scenario last week was my primary anti-RAW item, I'm getting off on a Shelton Scenario that really had nothing to do with the actual show this week...  RAW, as it was, entertained me.  Nuff said.
    You can get the detailed results and a more robust analysis of the show in yesterday's quite-excellent RAW Recap.
  • The rating for RAW:  a 3.8 cable rating.  That makes three weeks in a row at that level, and this is just about where RAW's year-to-date average is settling in, too.  It's still too bad WWE couldn't hold on to a few more of the eyeballs that showed up for the Lottery, but at least they aren't dropping BELOW the previous average like they did after the first draft two years ago.
  • A note about Bret Hart/WWE...  they obviously played up that angle at the PPV, with Michaels cinching the Sharpshooter just as Earl Hebner ran out to take over the match.  I LOVED that spot.  I can't explain why, because it's not like I actually thought it was the finish or anything.  I think I just liked that WWE was being really clever and sticking it to the entire nation of Canada.  Hey, Canucks: you can't let it go after 8 years, the Fed's gonna keep on twisting the knife!
    That said, the next night on RAW, they wisely kept Earl Hebner off TV, and didn't let the Calgary crowd get even a whiff of Montreal or of Bret.  Except for the constant use of the phrase "The Best" between Michaels and Benoit (which, admittedly, had me twitching involuntarily every time they used it even though I knew better).  The crowd only got one or two "You Screwed Bret" chants in on Shawn, and then one half-hearted "We Want Bret" chant in during the main event.  Probably a smart move to not play it up, since they were already teasing the crowd (and not paying off) on the Michaels/Benoit title match...
    Anyway, my point....
    There WERE Hart Family members at the show on Monday.  I'm not 100% clear, but either Bret himself or his representatives were also present at the event, and regardless of whether Bret was ever at the building or not, I've heard tell that he and Vince definitely met over the weekend.
    Now, with those two in the process of re-building their relationship, it might just have been a cup of coffee and a "Hey, how you doing?" kind of thing.  Or maybe they were mapping out what'd go into the upcoming Bret DVD release.  Or maybe it was a meeting to set up something like Bret showing up in Phoenix in two weeks to help Benoit beat Shawn, leading to the creation of Hart Foundation 2004 in which Benoit, Edge, Lance Storm, and the debuting Teddy Hart are managed by Bret!  OMG~!
    Or maybe not.  But if WWE can twist the knife, why can't I?  Admit it, smarkos, I was just joking around, but you're sporting half-wood, aren't you?!?  Ha ha, victory is mine!
    Bottom line: Vince and Bret talked this weekend.  You can let your filthy little minds imagine what the topic of discussion was, but I'd suggest you keep it simple.
  • Japan is looking more and more like a possible destination for Steve Austin... while you have the looming possibility of Austin doing a huge money match against Goldberg for Dreamstage/ZERO-ONE, New Japan Pro Wrestling also announced this week that it will enter negotiations for Austin's services.
    I know both Austin and Goldberg have openly talked about their desire to do a match against each other.  Everybody sort of assumed it'd happen in WWE, though.  Dreamstage has the resources to put it together in Japan, however, and that is one very real possibility.
    But NJPW is pretty much THE company in Japan, with the history and resources to make the biggest play on Austin.  So it's not like Stone Cold is without options.  Whoops, did I just say "Stone Cold"?  Probably shouldn't do that...
    At least, not until Austin's back in a WWE ring.  Which I'm telling you I still think will end up happening.  Even if he goes to Japan as a special attraction....
  • Following last week's TV loss to Nunzio, Ultimo Dragon is officially on a "Leave of Absence" from WWE... a lot of people think he's unofficially finished with WWE for good, although he has almost precisely one year left on his contract.
    I realize most of you reading this won't have a clue what I'm talking about, but there honestly was a time when Dragon was one of the best workers in the world.  He had the high-flying, but paired it with a credible mat attack, and could do pretty much anything, and against any opponent.  Back in my days as a giant wanker, I was trading for tapes, and I went out of my way to make sure I got matches of Yoshi Asai before he put the Dragon mask on, and everything.  I think a lot of what I like about Tajiri today is what I liked about Dragon then, to give you some perspective.
    And you need that perspective because I'll be the first to admit that Dragon didn't show much over the past year.  Some of that is certainly due to him being older and a bit broken down; he was attempting a comeback after what had been presumed to be a career-ending injury.  But some of it is also due to WWE never giving him the right stage on which to perform; not just this insistence on working the "WWE style," but also not the right opponents, not the right amount of time for his matches, not being on TV or building any kind of character/connection with the audience...  it all adds up.
    So pardon me if I'm a bit salty.  Not much, but a bit.  Even today's "broken down" Dragon would be superior to a number of guys on the roster, so WWE's mis-use of him gets me.  I think mostly I really did just want that one, singular 15-minute PPV showdown between Tajiri and Dragon where the two would mix ricockulously insane high flying spots with kicks so stiff they'd loosen your teeth with mat wrestling so tight it'd make Benoit go "daaaay-um."  Never happened.  And even if Dragon does come back this fall (as the "official" word says he will), I doubt it ever will.
    Dragon, although under WWE contract, has been given permission to work other dates.  He already has commitments in both Japan and Mexico starting in May.  I want to be optimistic, but the only way I see Dragon coming back to fulfill his WWE schedule is if, during these other matches, he really catches fire and opens some eyes.  Hey, maybe if the idiot promoters running those shows bring Dragon in and give him titles, WWE will bring him back this fall as a 8-title-holder world super champion or something?!?
    Wait, now who's sporting the inappropriate half-wood?
  • The spoilers from last night's SD! tapings are available right here.  There is one big surprise in store, and I'll leave it at that.
    So if you just can't wait till tomorrow night, check the Spoilers, complete with some of my asshole comments about decisions made by SD! creative before I even see the show.
  • TNA is expected to announce to its talent today that any of them who had Ring of Honor commitments will actually get paid by TNA for the shows they had to pull out of due to TNA's demands.
    The short version, in case you missed it (or, like me, really don't give two shits): ROH's former owner allegedly likes little boys, TNA is trying to get a national cable deal, so TNA doesn't want its wrestlers working for a company that has yet to prove that the alleged boy-lover is actually gone and won't be a PR headache for them as they continue negotiations, so they told a half-dozen or so workers to pull out of ROH events.
    It's a perfectly reasonable request, except that ROH is a strong-drawing, well-paying gig for some of TNA's top guys, and they'd already commited to dates, and probably couldn't get replacement dates on short notice, so basically TNA's move was taking money out of their pockets.  So actually, while I think TNA is correct and within its rights to pull its boys from ROH, I also think this is a very necessary move to compensate those talents for money they thought was already in the bank.  Win/win, says I.
  • Actually, that gives me a little segue...
    ROH has scheduled a show for Dayton, OH, on June 12.  This ends up creating one hell of a Wrestling Weekend for us, as you'd have a top-shelf indie event on Saturday, then the RAW Bad Blood PPV an hour away in Columbus on Sunday, then RAW back here in Dayton on Monday.
    I've mentioned it to a few message board and chat regulars, but this might be new to most of you: after the fun I remember having at RSPW gatherings at ECW shows in Philly back in the day, I always kind of had this idea in my head about doing a OO sOOper dOOper Fun Weekend.  Maybe it wouldn't draw the 50-60 people that the RSPW things did.  Or maybe it would.  I don't know.  But it'd still be fun to get OO readers together and hang out, right?
    So I'd look for schedule convergences, wanting to do a deal where a PPV and a live RAW (and maybe SD! tapings) would coincide somewhere around the midwest in a way that was exceptionally convenient for me.  Five or six weeks ago when I heard about RAW in Dayton after a PPV in Louisville, the gears started turning.  A week or two after that, when I heard the PPV was moved 2 hours closer to me, and would be in Columbus, I actually started planning!
    It was gonna be awesome.  Two live RAW events, maybe a mixer/BBQ at OO Headquarters on Monday afternoon, and all very centrally located.  A nice little 2 or 3 day vacation for all of us.  And I think SD! might even be in Cinci (also only an hour away) on Tuesday, if you wanted to extend things.  It bears noting that ROH on Saturday night was never part of the plan.  It probably never would have been.  It was just part of my segue.  And not because OO is in negotiations with FoxSportsNet or anything, but just because I have a limit to how much wrestling I can take.  We may all be here because of wrestling, but we got other stuff we like, right?  If people wanted to show up a day early and hang out Saturday night, I was actually thinking in terms of getting with a friend of mine and making good on a Rock Show Scheme we've had for a while, and doing a thing where a whole bunch of us who are in bands (or in my case, not in a band, but looking for an excuse to be on stage) just break down and form new alliances and do little 3-song mini-sets of all covers, because then you'd all get to see that I'm not boasting when I say I kick fricking ass as a bassist, and you'd get to see it with me playing songs you know and like so you wouldn't have to sit there through all originals and then PRETEND you liked it.  Always trying to get myself over, I am...
    But guess what?  All the thinking and scheming was for naught.  I'm probably not even gonna go to Bad Blood my own self.  I certainly won't be in town to host a party on Saturday night.  I was reminded that I've got a wedding out of town that weekend that takes precedence over wrestling.  When the OO sOOper dOOper Fun Weekend suddenly looked like (at best) it would consist of asking you to entertain yourselves until I could stumble into Columbus in the middle of Heat, still massively hungover, and then maybe still pulling together a fun time on Monday, I decided to cancel the event until another time.
    If I'm gonna throw a party, I'm gonna throw it right.  Consider this the simultaneous Announcement and Cancellation of OO sOOper dOOper Fun Weekend 2004!
    But oh yeah, this wasn't supposed to be a totally pointless anecdote:  don't let that stop the rest of you in the region from taking advantage of the four nights of consecutive cool wrestling events.  I'll only be hitting RAW, it looks like, but even without my sanction, this still sounds like a great opportunity for fans on June 12, 13, 14, and (if you're a glutton for SD! punishment) 15.
  • And as we continue down the Pointlessness Continuum, I'm gonna delve into the Mail Bag to answer some of my e-mail... because I got nothing better left to talk about.
    Issue #1: I bitched and moaned about "WWE Experience" on Sunday mornings being a pointless "recap of the recap shows" show.
    Your Retorts #1: WWE issued a press release saying this was a new show designed to appeal to kids and to revive the "Sunday morning wrestling tradition" that died when Superstars was cancelled several years ago.  And also: you are stupid for not paying attention to WWE press releases.
    My Retort to Your Retorts #1: The press release was issued after I wrote what I wrote.
    My Retort to Your Retorts #1a: Just because they are kids doesn't NECESSARILY mean they are dumb.  A recap show isn't gonna inspire them to become the Next Generation of fans.  There's a reason why the current recap shows air in shitty timeslots in syndication.  That reason: nobody cares.
  • That leads directly to...
    Issue #2: I said nobody watches "AfterBurn" or "Jakked."
    Your Retorts #2: The Rick is the dumbest son of a bitch in the universe because "Jakked" hasn't existed for years.  The two recap shows in syndication are "AfterBurn" (SD!) and "Bottom Line" (RAW).
    My Retort to Your Retorts #2:  Screw you.  I told you I didn't give a damn about either show ahead of time, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I botched that one.  The only reason I knew that one of the shows had a late night Saturday time slot is because there's a bar in town that usually has it on if I stop in there at some point around 1am.  I get the important stuff right, and that's what counts.  I don't waste my time with C-shows (sometimes not even with B-shows), and frankly, I thought most of you were the same way.  I kind of assumed the obsessive, watch-every-show crowd would have gravitated to the Other Wrestling Sites, where they could also get the obsessive, care-about-pointless-backstage-rumors news that has nothing to do with anything.  SO GET OFF MY CASE!  
  • How about...
    Issue #3: I said I didn't really care for SD!'s ending, and made jokes about Kurt Angle being "dead."
    Your Retorts #3: I should quit over-reacting because wrestlers always take sick bumps and they are never "dead," so quit acting like this bump was any different than any other and just enjoy SD!, chumpstain.
    My Retort to Your Retorts #3: Um, you're missing the point.  The "Angle is dead" jokes were just that, jokes.  What I hated is that WWE DID act like this was different from other bumps: they Hollywood-ized it with cheesy acting and incongruous motivations, and then shot it with very contrived camera angles.  I didn't really care so much that "Angle is dead" as that they thought this was the right way to "kill" him.  See just about my entire past portfolio of columns about why I don't like Vince McMahon's vision of WWE as "Weekly Hollywood Movies" and wish they'd stick to what works in Professional Wrestling.  Here's a good (if dated) one from 2001 that pretty much says everything I want to say about what belongs on a wrestling show.  I know this puts me in a certain niche audience, but this is my site, and you will be exposed to my biases.  Deal.
  • And finally...
    Issue #4: I went off on one of my tri-annual rants against Reality TV being stupid, with its popularity stemming from the fact that the American Public is apparently so boring and uninteresting that they think the boring and uninteresting "real" people on those shows are actually celebrities worth caring about.  Which they aren't.
    Your Retorts #4: Mostly, people said I should lay off Reality TV because I'm a wrestling fan, and really, that's no better.  But 2 or 3 ultra-clever bastard also noted another line in Monday's column, and combined it with my reality TV rant to respond that I'm an EVEN BIGGER LOSER than the Reality TV viewers because not only I am I spending 8 hours a week watching wrestling, but I'm also putting in my 12 hours a week writing about it.
    My Retort to Your Retorts #4: first, everybody needs a vice, and wrestling is mine; it just kind of annoys me when something that SHOULD be a very guilty pleasure becomes a National Phenomenon like Reality TV has (and yes, this does mean I'm kind of more comfortable now that wrestling is unhip again, too; I'm one of THOSE people who feels more hip when he's square).  Second, as I outlined in the "Jakked" Debacle, I'm pretty much good for 4 hours a week of wrestling TV unless there's a PPV.  And third, as soon as you have tens of thousands of people showing up to watch you sitting on your ass while you watch and gab about "Survivor" and you get extreme ego satisfaction (and maybe even a few pennies) from doing so, THEN you can talk to me about the time I put into OO and whether it's worth it for me or not.  And like I said Monday, unless my nightmare of a Reality TV Show About People Wasting Their Time Watching Lots of Reality TV actually happens, you're shit out of luck on that one, folks.
  • Thus alienating the few dozen people who wrote in the past couple days on those topics, I beg the remaining 99.9999998% percent of you to join me again on Friday, when I'm sure I'll have... I don't know.  Something more worth reading than this was, today, though.  I promise.


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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