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Lance Steps Aside, Lots of RAW Thoughts,
WWE Cast-Offs, and a Grassroots Campaign?
April 26, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I hope, after you enjoyed "The Simpsons" last night, that the first thing you thought of when the show was done was "Oh my, I bet I know what The Rick will write about in his rambling, pointless introductory paragraphs"....

Because if you didn't then that means (a) you're not as smart as I like to think you are, and/or (b) you clearly don't think and care enough about me, The Rick... although it might also mean (c) that I'm not quite as predictable and used up as I sometimes think I am.

Case in point: last night's "Simpsons" was essentially a 30-minute joke with Dayton, OH, as its butt!  I hyperbolize only slightly!  If the producers of "The Simpsons" thought they caught hell for crossing Brazil, well, they ain't seen nothing yet.  Those filthy Portuguese castaways deserved every bit of it... but we here in Dayton, even if we are a simpler lot, are fellow Shatner-stealing Mexico-touchers, and I think we deserve a bit more respect!  And plus, we do NOT have a Zipper Museum.  That I know of, anyway.

So it is thus that I announce Dayton Residents Opposed to Comedic Slander -- that's right, Dayton ROCS~! --  a grassroots campaign to rehabilitate our fine city's image. For a while, it's seemed we're the source of a greater-than-attributable-to-chance percentage of Conan O'Brien's "Actual Items."  Now, the Simpsons have arbitrarily picked Dayton, OH, to mock, and it's time to take a stand.  The line must be drawn here.  This far, no farther.  And I will be the one who makes them pay!

No?  Well, alright... but I had to try.  And admit it: if you saw it last night, you kind of knew it was coming.  If nothing else, hey, it was OK to be the butt of a 30 minute joke that was actually funny.  That doesn't happen every week with the Simpsons, anymore....  hell, it barely happens once every four or five episodes.  But it happened last night.  Viva la Making Fun of My Adopted Hometown!

Thanks for indulging me.  As a reward, here's your wrestling news:

  • We've got RAW back in the States again this week, which should mean kind of a return to normalcy.  It seems that the plan is NOT to turn Shawn Michaels heel, so he and Benoit probably go back to being just about equals, in the fans' eyes, starting tonight.  Or at least, that'd be my guess, because if you DID want Michaels to go heel, the time to do it would have been last week in Canada where the fans would have been mondo hot for it.
    Hey, something else that'll happen with RAW back Stateside: you Canucks will lose your precious favorite sons!  If I had to endure Dayton Slander, you hosers can take a little bit of my backlash, can't you, eh?  Benoit back to Atlanta, Jericho back to New York... umm, Gail Kim back to a unified "Korea" (which means she's either, like, 60 years old... or maybe from the Future?!?)...  and maybe you lose a few more, too.  How about "Hailing from The Other Side of Darkness, here is... EDGE!".  Or better yet:  "Currently Residing in Rick Scaia's Pants...  Trish Stratus!".
    Mheh heh heh, yeah.  Damn, I'm smooth.
    But I had a point...
    Things'll be back to "normal" after an aberrant last week.  Hebner can work a match and not be verbally assaulted.  Michaels will be a babyface if he wants to be.  Hopefully we can find room to squeeze in Shelton Benjamin, instead of spending all our energy on throwing bones to the Canadian fans by featuring Edge and Benoit in the night's two longest promos and single longest match.
    Actually: a few readers (more than I would have guessed) cottoned to an idea I threw out at random last week... that the End Game for Shelton might be a heel turn and membership in Evolution, once HHH is gone.  I didn't really put much thought into it other than "Well, Evolution will probably add someone else once Hunter's gone," but a few of you took my offhand comment and ran with it.  I won't reprise all the scenarios, but a couple of them are very workable, and in this case, I could understand why Shelton kind of got back-burnered last week, and why you need to keep him bubbling under instead of continuing a hot feud against Evolution.  We'll see.  I still kind of think it was just a missed opportunity to keep Benoit OUT of the tag title picture (it only musses up his primary issue), while simultaneously giving Benjamin something very compelling to do (team with Edge to feud with Evolution).  But what do I know?
    Cracks in Evolution (HHH leaving, Flair/Batista losing the tag belts) certainly opens up some doors.  I've long assumed that the "implosion" of Evolution would involve Randy Orton getting all cocky and deciding it was time to kill the Legend of Ric Flair... and once he did that, it'd be time for him to go after HHH.  The timing might be right, now, as HHH is taking off soon.  In that interim, Orton could do his thing with Flair, and when HHH comes back, I'd see him siding with Ric and trying to be a babyface.  Orton "taking over" Evolution has many interesting outs.  Adding Shelton in is one.  Some have obviously suggested that if Michaels DOES go heel, he'd be a possible fit in a HHH-free Evolution, too.
    The one option that does not seem viable in any way, shape, or form: a Randy Orton face turn.  Some have mailed in that, on the strength of his brawl with Foley, Orton could turn face and splinter off from Evolution.  Look, I'm on record congratulating the guy on a good match and following up with a strong promo.  But I'm also with Jeb: we all need to stop massively over-reacting like the guy re-invented the wheel.  Orton is not instant eyeball glue, now... he's just no longer in the Lex Luger/Billy Gunn pile for me.  It's a step in the right direction, but there's a ways to go before you start pinning a grassroots face turn on the guy.  Fans will NOT bite on it at this point.  I'll say this: Molly will be the de facto babyface in her feud with Victoria before Orton is a face in his feud against Edge.   Mark that one down, and remember to check it in a few months...
    So besides Evolution's state of flux, we've also got this Benoit/HBK issue on top.  They fight, one-on-one, next week.  Tonight is prelude to that.  Like I said, if a heel turn is what was planned, I'd have done it last week in Canada... but you probably can't totally dismiss the possibility that Michaels has got some kind of shenanigans up his sleeve.  Maybe, for dramatic purposes, you DON'T have HBK play all his cards last week... you save something back for the match next week.  Who knows?  I do know that the match oughta rock my socks off, that it oughta lead to a PPV rematch in June, and that it oughta be a ladder match at the PPV.  And that, my friends, is nothing but 2 solid months of me liking the main event picture on RAW.
    Benoit's also got another little problem.  He's holding half the tag titles with Edge.  And other than Evolution standing up and saying "Rematch, please," the only way I see that storyline going is with Benoit and Edge facing make-shift teams.  Who else is there on the heel side who could compete against a "Super Team"?  Bear with me: Benoit's main rival is Michaels.  Edge's is Randy Orton.  Evil Mastermind Eric Bischoff puts Michaels and Orton (rivals themselves) together as a team to face the tag champs.  I know that SD!'s already got the Odd Couple Tag Champs gimmick going, but in this case, maybe this is how you smooth HBK's transition to heel... unwilling partner at first, but eventual willing ringleader of Evolution?  Again, I'm thinking out loud, people...  and I'm also trying to make sense of a really odd line-up sheet I saw for a show coming up next month in Philly, too, forwarded to me by a few folks (a line-up sheet that could, very easily, be mistake-ridden).  As always, I'd love to hear your ideas and responses...
    Down a few notches from all that stuff swirling at the top level is the likely continuation of Christian/Trish vs. Jericho.  Or more likely: Travis Tomko vs. Chris Jericho, as Tomko adopts the role of Christian's Problem Solver.  I've not seen Tomko work, but if he's even remotely competent, then I don't see any problem with him holding onto residual Christian/Trish heat, nor with Jericho getting good matches out of him.  In a lot of ways, Christian's position on the card is safe as long as he's got the last win to hang over Jericho's head: having Tomko in as a surrogate means that they can stretch this out and have Jericho be the victim of even-less-fair 3-on-1 attacks, still beat Tomko when the time comes, but not have any trump card over Christian and Trish.
    Seeing Matt Hardy and Lita get back together would be an expected next step, too, after Matt saved Lita from Kane last week.  You could go several ways, there: merge them in with Jericho so they could face off against Christian/Trish while Jericho and Tomko are foes... or keep Kane in the picture and have him and Matt do a mini-feud where Matt has to prove himself to Lita over the course of a couple weeks...  and there's always Jeff sitting on the sidelines waiting for a spot (come to Matt's aid after a beat down by Kane?  Pretend to come to Matt's aid after a beat down by Kane only to beat him down some more?  Or just go to SD! where he doesn't get in Matt and Lita's way?).
    You've also got Molly and Victoria lining up for a rematch down the line.  Molly's sporting enough hair that I guess it's been determined she's not a TV Eyesore, so finally the wig is gone and the comedy of running away in shame when the wig was pulled off is done.  Now, it's time to kick some ass.  And I was serious: by the time this gets to PPV in June, it would not surprise me if Molly was getting more cheers than Victoria.  And sure, you can take that as one part my usual "I think Molly is the bees' knees," but it's also one part just realizing that out of Molly and Victoria, only one of them has done anything interesting from a character perspective in the last couple months.  Victoria hasn't cut one promo, had one funny skit with Stevie Richards, or done anything to pop a crowd since the night she wore the rumptastic shorts.  It's not necessarily her fault, or anything, but it's true.  Meantime, Molly's getting shaved, letting herself be the butt of jokes for probably a couple weeks longer than was necessary, and last week unleashed a new ass-kicking side (and people like the ass-kickers).  Do the math, and I think you'll arrive at the same conclusions...
    Then there's Eugene.  He'll do something tonight.  He'll probably be way over.  I kind of hope that somebody has the creativity to keep finding ways for Eugene to whack Regal in the balls every week that combine that perfect sense of anticipation/"I know it's coming" with the necessary spontaneity...  nothing would be funnier than having fans, en masse, scoping out every Regal/Eugene skit and immediately try to identify how the testicle-smacking would take place, and still being able to swerve/surprise them.  Mostly, I say let's milk that dynamic for as long as possible, because you know that (by design) the Eugene character probably isn't gonna be the slickest in-ring worker in terms of bell-to-bell action.  More comedy skits, and then, when the time comes, use him in tag matches where his "work" is again for laughs, and not required to carry the match....  
    And that's pretty much everything you need to keep in mind heading into tonight's RAW.  The show's been on a tremendous tear lately, and even if tonight's another one of those "maintenance weeks" to set up for next week's big Benoit/HBK main event, I'm sure it'll still be entertaining.
    Check it out, or come on back here tomorrow for the full OO Recap Treatment, courtesy of Yours Truly.
  • Above, I joked about Canada losing some of its RAW stars to Atlanta or to my pants....  but in all seriousness, one of Canada's favorite sons really will be relocated for good:  to a training position in OVW.
    Lance Storm announced today on his official website that his active in-ring career with WWE is over.  Last night on Heat, he wrestled a match against Stevie Richards, and he expects that to be his last one.  If so, it was a fitting one, as the match was taped in Calgary which is where, of course, Storm's home turf and where he broke into the business.
    Citing a general dissatisfaction with his onscreen role (but being careful to attribute it to general circumstances and not to any pervasive WWE conspiracy) as well as mounting injuries, Storm said he first began contemplating a change prior to WrestleMania.  He took a stab at a road agent position, but eventually settled on heading to OVW, where he will take an active hand in training the next generation of WWE stars.
    To be honest, Lance explains it all eloquently and in great detail himself, so unlike a lot of the vague and uninformative announcements issued by WWE.com, I don't have to pad this one out with the extra information the official sources left out.  Get it from the man your own self! 
    I'll say this: the first time I saw Storm was when he was swinging the wussiest chairshots EVER on ECW's debut PPV, and getting booed out of the building for it even though he was ostensibly the babyface.  It's a testament to his ability that it didn't take long before I and the rest of fans who remembered that bad first impression came around, and came around fast.  He had countless good matches in ECW, and developed the no-nonsense persona that eventually served him well even in WCW, where he was (out of necessity) one of their top heels by the end.  He won us over so effectively that he actually spent the last three years near the top of pretty much any "smart" fan's list of most underutilized stars, as he became a comedy act known for dancing and his giant schlong.  If last night on Heat was it, at least, Lance got to bring it part of the way back, with a solid WRESTLING match devoid of any silliness.
    But really, who's to say this is the end?  Lance will still be in "the system," and if the right spot presents itself, it's not like the guy's gonna be sitting out getting rusty and out of shape...  so maybe this is less a "Farewell" and more a "Till Next Time"? 
    Also, you can catch the full report on Storm's last match in The Cubs' Fan's Heat Recap
  • The final rating for last week's SD! wound up being a 3.1, which is up slightly from the prelim rating as well as from the week before.  But it's still well short of SD!'s pre-WM average.
  • Oh, and while I'm thinking of it: if you were clicking on the Battle of the Brands link on the main page, and getting a File Not Found/404 Error, well, sorry folks.  I am an idiot.
    I failed to upload the new BotB on Friday, so that link was broken all weekend.  The part that said RAW won was right, though, and you can now get the full thoughts/opinions of OO's staff regarding last week's RAW vs. SD! battle right here.
    I think I was secretly hoping that more OO'ers would remember to send along ratings before I published it...  but NOOOO-OOO. Three minutes is apparently asking too much.
    Oh my, did I just say "Three Minutes."  Rosey, Jamal: to the Lund Estate, STAT!  And then I've got a couple other stops for you, too, but we'll start with the guy what invented BotB, and then left me holding the bag once there were only four or five of us voting every week.....
  • WWE made a splash on the business wire late last week, and because the initials "WCW" were involved, a bunch of folks forwarded the articles to me....
    Well, let me apply my vast business school expertise and boil it all down for you to understand:  You don't care.  Trust me.  Basically, all the Fed did was retroactively re-organize the way the accounting was done for their acquisition of WCW.  Even if you're a stockholder, this means next to nothing for you.  And for the rest of us, there is no possible reason to give two craps.
    If you want something business-y to be excited about, try focusing on the fact that WWE stock has been trading at or near it's 52-week high for the past week or two, and in fact, is back up to around $15 a share, which is where it was prior to the post-WM debacle in 2002, where they did the brand split and got the F out within a month and business went into the ground.
    Then-WWF stock opened in late 1999 at around $25 a share, which was probably seriously over-valued.  Within three months of selling off, the stock was down to around $10 a share, which was probably under-valued.  Then things stabilized, and for a year, the stock kept trading between $15 and $20. Then as the wrestling business became decided Not Hot and WWF purchased WCW, the stock tumbled a bit in 2001, and spent a year trading between $10 and $15.  Then the brand split and the name change, and the stock hit bottom in 2002: from around $15 a share, WWE fell to about $7 a share, and stayed under $10 until about a year ago.  That's when they started a steady climb back up to where we are today.
    If you want an interesting or happy story from the financial sector, that's probably it.  WWE's accounting practices aren't good for anything but curing insomnia.  
  • Here's another one that I got a bunch in e-mail over the weekend that I probably shouldn't have...
    The website "AWAStars.com" (ostensibly the lingering vestiges of the once-great AWA) has issued a statement about being able to present a Dream Match of Hulk Hogan vs. Steve Austin.  The wording is something along the lines of "Both guys are free agents, and signing them to a dream match is just a phone call or e-mail away."
    Two words, folks: bait and switch.  Look, the statement may be factually correct.  Both Austin and Hogan ARE free agents, and they COULD be signed to a dream match.  But anyone calling up the AWA and asking for that match would be quoted a ridiculous price.  End of story.  Obviously AWAStars' hope is that the callers would then settle for whatever indie crap-a-thon they could throw together on a budget.
    Bottom line: Hogan vs. Austin is not happening under the AWA banner.  As always, though, thanks for policing the internet, folks, and for keeping me apprised of interesting items like this...  but you're also free to think for yourselves and apply a little common sense, too!  You don't have to wait for me to tell you it's bullshit...
  • Speaking of Hogan... many mailed in that Hogan was at Friday night's Tampa Bay/Montreal hockey game in Tampa.  He was there supporting his daughter, Britney... errrr, Brooke, I mean... who sang the national anthem.  But he also took the time to get on the stick and cut a promo to rile up the fans, which many thought was pretty cool.
  • WWE's 24/7 Video-on-Demand service is starting to take shape.  Today, they've announced both the new head of the division (a guy from The Golf Channel, whose job it will be to sell 24/7 to distributors) and the back-end mechanism for distributing the service (a company called N2Broadband out of Georgia).
    Again, realistically, these are details about which you don't really care... but in this case, we as fans DO have a vested interest in the end result -- i.e. access to 20 hours of classic wrestling footage on-demand -- so it's heartening to hear that there is forward progress happening on this front.  Even if the particulars do and should zoom right over our heads.
  • Sunday Night Heat saw Lance Storm's last match (for now)... and Saturday night saw the last Confidential (for ever).  I still haven't watched it (it's saved up for my pre-RAW viewing pleasure, though), but I gather it was just a recap show of some of Confidential's best bits from the past two years.  Kind of out with a whimper, not a bang, it sounds like...
    Confidential may have been hit-and-miss, and the inconsistencies in how genuinely smart/insider they wanted to be wore on me at times, but it was a show that was different, and even if on heavy-FF, I always found something interesting every week.  And sometimes, it was 60 minutes of interesting stuff.  Not often, but sometimes.  I'm sorry to see it go in favor of a recap show that will not possibly be worth my time.
    Remember, folks: this weekend is when things switch over for WWE shows on SpikeTV.  "Velocity" moves up to 7pm on Saturday nights.  "Experience" debuts at 10am on Sunday morning and will feature both RAW and SD! highlights (and supposedly, a few lingering vestiges of Confidential's insider features that don't show up on the other shows).  And "'Heat" stays put at 7pm on Sunday night. 
  • A couple recent WWE cast-offs aren't having any trouble finding work.  Both Ultimo Dragon and Sean O'Haire will be part of a big New Japan Tokyo Dome show this weekend, and are in demand elsewhere, too.
    Dragon's got dates in both Japan and Mexico booked throughout May and June, and O'Haire will be getting back to some of his martial arts roots by competing for K-1 next month.  Dragon is ostensibly coming back to WWE later this year... but O'Haire diversifying a bit doesn't surprise me in the least; I'm not entirely sure if his heart was ever in WWE-style pro wrestling.
  • I think that's about all I got for today.  I'm back with the ever-insightful RAW Recap tomorrow, and then Wednesday it's the mid-week news and views (and spoilers).  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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