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RAW/Ratings, Good Blood, plus News on
Flair, Steiner, WM21, and Lots More... 
May 5, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I really got nothing interesting or witty today to kick off, so maybe a quick question:  this week's RAW was the first I didn't "time shift" in a very long time.  That's how fired up I was for the show: had a couple cocktails, and treated it like a live sporting event instead of like the other 95% of TV shows I watch.  [To you unhip cats out there, this basically means I actually watched the commercials.  Well, most of 'em.  Because the Reds game I was flipping to got out of hand pretty bad during RAW's first half-hour...]

So my question: is the new version of the Old School Undertaker patterned directly on "Van Helsing" or what?   I first thought of that like a month ago, but dismissed it as being a stupid thing to say.  Well, seeing the ads on Monday and having nothing better to talk about has removed the filter between brain and fingers, so... well, discuss.  I'm sure it's just coincidental, but....

Here's the goods:

  • On the topic of RAW, I'm not sure there's a whole lot I can say that I didn't say already in the RAW Recap.  It's kind of hard to come up with that many different or interesting ways to say "awesome"...  which is the tool kit you need to bring when talking about Monday's show.
    Well, except for Kane/Lita/Matt.  But I already beat that horse dead, too.
    Still, the Short Version for those of you who think, "Well, I watched the show, Scaia, I don't need to wade through your recap"....
    The opening half hour: awesome, the six man was spot-on, and nobody was more shocked than me when the person who did the J.O.B. was "Not Tajiri."  The closing half-hour: even awesomer, and the hands-down Free TV Match of the Year So Far.  I personally loved how HHH was Tajiri's bitch (the only Evolution member who couldn't hit a move on Tajiri the whole match) in the opener, but then turned around and was the difference maker in the main event.
    The middle hour: everything but the Kane/Lita/Matt stuff was really good.  I'm especially going to underscore two things: (1) the Eugene/Regal training skit, which took a different route from the "gratuitous nut shots" script I would have written, and was better for it.  I'm cocky enough to think I have a really solid head on my shoulders for coming up with ideas that would work, but I'm also smart enough to know when I've been outclassed.  Eugene and Regal were still funny as hell, but this play makes Eugene The Wrestler a MUCH more viable commodity, and THAT is something I completely whiffed on.  Nice work.  And (2) Gail Kim getting Victoria to tap out.  The match was arduous at times, but after my ranting about Lawler's idiocy the week before during a move that looked THAT sweet, I was happy to see them right the wrong and put the submission hold (um, I mean "put Gail") over.
    For the second or third time in the past 2 months, I'm left thinking "Well, that's about as good a RAW as I've seen in a long time."  I can't say enough good about these two hours.
    And maybe the best part: can you believe that in the middle of all Monday's Goodness, they set up a show for NEXT week that has the potential to be every bit as good (if not quite as "big")?  Eugene's debut (which now looks to suck much less than I'd have guessed thanks to his Idiot Savant display of grappling against Regal), Evolution's three singles matches (including one IC Title match, and another featuring my boy Tajiri), and Christian vs. Jericho in a cage.  Somebody phone up SD! and tell them to just cede their PPV this month.  RAW would make the company more money by charging $30 for the "Two Hour Show Every Monday Night in May" Package, I think....  I'm serious.
    Excellent show, and you can get the full details and all my terribly insightful analysis of the show in yesterday's OO RAW Recap.
  • For all the "Free Per View" hype and for all the kicking-of-ass that RAW had on its side this week, they were stagnant, ratings-wise.  The show did a 3.9 cable rating, which is down a tick from last week, but up a tick from the previous month's average.  
    We are now in May Sweeps, though, so network competition was probably stiffer and what not...  not that I could tell you a single show that's on Monday nights on any other channel.  Ummm, maybe "Everybody Loves Raymond"?  I think I remember getting booted off of wrestling once at my mom's house on a Monday because she just HAD to watch that...
    That's not the point: RAW not gaining anything in the ratings is the point.  But they really lost nothing, either.
  • OK, so tickets for RAW's June PPV (Bad Blood) go on sale this weekend.  The event is 45 minutes away from me in Columbus, OH.  As I've explained previously, I WON'T get to go because I'll be at a wedding out of town that weekend.
    And that was bad enough when I thought I was maybe gonna miss an HBK/Benoit Ladder Match (which was a logical thought back a month ago), and when I had to cancel my amazing and fantastical idea for a sOOper dOOper OO Fun Weekend Convention (that would have included RAW the next night and much partying with the OO-ites).
    But yesterday, they started the radio ads to promote the on-sale date for tickets... and it's not HBK/Benoit that I'll be missing.
    It'll be Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.  Hell in the Cell.
    That's what the radio ads are saying, anyway, and local media has been right on a bunch of stuff like this before (notably the Eddie vs. Lesnar February PPV main event that seemed nonsensical at first, but which actually ended up happening).
    My first thought on hearing about HitC headlining was, "Well, that's GOTTA mean that Jericho gets the shot at Benoit's title in the semi-main."  And my mind actually started figuring out ways I could piss of my friends Mike and Lisa so I'd get uninvited to the wedding, and then re-instating the open invitation to you all for the sOOper dOOper OO Fun Weekend.  Well, not really...
    Luckily, local ads are also filling in the blank for us on the World Title Match.  And it won't be Benoit/Jericho.  It's currently slated to be Benoit/Kane.  Which isn't nearly as underpants-messying a prospect.  But it does make a bit more sense, since then Jericho can probably build up to a one-on-one against Tomko, or something, instead of racing too quickly into a one-off World Title shot.  I should probably have thought it through a bit before flying off the handle.
    Still, HHH/HBK Hell in the Cell... man, that stings.  Even only in theory, it'd be a lock to become the Best Match I've Ever Seen In Person.  But it's not meant to be.  Oh well, at least I'll have RAW here in town the night after (although, even though I had Top Secret Pre-Sale information and was online within the first hour, they were already back to 12-15 rows deep, so screw that, if I'm not gonna get on TV to remind Orton who he fears, I'll just keep trying to get comped, and if not, my friends and I will get the cheapies).
    One interesting note: the Hell in the Cell gimmick all of a sudden looks like HHH's outro, doesn't it?  It pretty well jibes with the timetable that he'd be sticking around for an extra month.  Whether it's a big bump and a write out, or a tough loss and a hissy fit on RAW the next night, or some derivative there of, the options for him going away for 6-8 weeks after Bad Blood are numerous.
    Man alive: Monday's RAW ruled.  Next Monday's should, too.  Bad Blood is looking bad-ass.  They're making it look pretty freaking easy... and I'm loving every second of it.
  • Ric Flair's absence from RAW was nothing nefarious...  it's just that becoming a granddaddy takes precedence over making a booking where, really, his only jobs would have been ill-advised fondling of Batista's rippling man muscles and taking a few cheap shots on Edge, Shelton, and Tajiri.
    And oh, yeah, to a folks who took issue with my use of the word "swishy" to describe Batista's posing on Monday...  I don't care how many of you jock-sniffing, protein-shake-drinking, wannabe-wrestler types think I said that out of "jealousy," you can't be more wrong.  Hit a double bicep, remind me why I shouldn't take my shirt off in public, I don't care!  You're supposed to be pretty big and muscley if you're a wrestler.  But I'm talking about overly elaborate posing that involved pointing the toe or arching the back...  if that doesn't strike you as just WRONG somehow, I can't win the argument.  But obviously, your retort is that "Rick knows nothing about The Art and Grace of Bodybuilding," and I can't deny that.  I might think I'm a better man for it, but I can't deny it.  Maybe I'll just sum up by saying "Those poses are the lime in Batista's Corona of life," and leave it at that.
    Jesus, I didn't mean to start an international incident.  I just thought he looked really weenie....  and unless you're doing it with a mirror for a Narcissist gimmick (i.e. YOU like looking at you, instead of thinking the male audience likes looking at your), it's off-putting.  And I don't think Mark Jindrak would appreciate that much if that was Batista's next step.
    And I think my main point was (or should have been): Congratulations to Ric Flair, the proud new Grandfather.
  • There are reports circulating that Scott Steiner will not be used by WWE for the duration of his contract.  That he's healthy now, but sitting on the sidelines, and he'll stay there for the next 5 months.
    Don't know what to tell you.  That's news to me, and it's kind of silly if true.  I'm not saying you gotta push him to the moon, and risk him getting hurt again (or sucking again), but the guy's got some value.  No reason he and Test shouldn't be together as a tag team.  Doesn't even matter which brand.  Both could use them.  Doesn't even matter if it's heel or face.  That's how bad the tag division is.  Why the hell pay him to sit at home when he can AT LEAST be a contributing role player?
    Very odd story, if it pans out that way... but like I said, it's nothing I can even remotely confirm.
  • Tough Enough winner Matt WhatgothisasskickedbyBobHolly was all set to debut on SD! this week.  In fact, he was gonna be the guy who answered Chavo Guerrero's "Versus The World Challenge."
    But in a development that would be ironic if only I could be sure there wasn't a core of sheer assholishness behind it, Matt suffered a concussion after working house shows against.... Bob Holly.  D'oh.
    So SD! had to scramble for another plan for Chavo...  I won't spoil it here.  That's what the Spoilers are for.  I'm not gonna say it looks like a particularly good show, but not for nothing (Cole), it is another almost entirely Bradshaw-free show!  He's only there via videotape!  Somebody has figured something out, and it only took them a month longer than it took us internet jack-offs!
  • A newspaper article in Toronto reported over the weekend that WWE intends to debut "Hirohito" at next Monday's RAW.  They even have an additional detail: that he'll be accompanied by a caucasion mouthpiece/spokesperson.
    Well, not to rain on anybody's parade, but the absence of "Hirohito" vignettes the past two weeks does not bode well for this report panning out.  In fact, negative response to the one week of vigngettes has the Fed rethinking it's plan.
    At best, I think you can look for Hirohito (who as we've discussed will be portrayed by Kenzu Suzuki) to work a DARK match next Monday.  And maybe for a few Mondays afterward.  They're still trying to decide exactly how to position the character, but my guess is no matter what they decide, we'd get at least a couple weeks of resumed vignettes before the guy is on TV.
    Also: there is a weak buzz that WWE has reconsidered the "caucasion mouthpiece" (a la Jim Cornette with Yokozuna 10 years ago) concept... apparently, Suzuki's wife either is now or soon will be under contract to WWE, and some people are saying she will be his ringside accompaniment.  I'm not 100% on the details, but she's got at least SOME in-ring experience, too.  Something to keep an eye on...
  • Speaking of invading Japanese women...
    Well, not really, but anything for a segue....  Takako Inoue, a top woman's wrestler in Japan for the past, I dunno, probably 15 years or so, is gonna get a look from WWE.  Two nights of try out matches on WWE's next California swing. 
    I'm not totally sure, but back in my tape trading days, she was definitely a big name, and had already been established for a couple years.  I don't want to say this might be a case like Ultimo Dragon where the Fed is picking up a good thing, but just too late, but... well, we'll see.
    Actually, I don't want to say too much, and somebody who knows their puroresu better than me will have to help, but I THINK maybe of all the Takako Inoue videotape I saw back in the day, the one that sticks in my head didn't actually involve any wrestling.  Or was that two other girls?  Well, she's a babe, either way (was 10 years ago, at least), and I'm sure that'll help her prospects, too...  Aja Kong or Bull Nakano she is not.
  • This week, WWE announced that WrestleMania has been pushed back to an April 3, 2005, date.
    Checking on a reason, all I can really get is a vague comment that it was an "internal decision."  So eliminate issues with the building (over Laker games or whatever), and you can probably assume that this is secret code for "still working out the kinks on PPV scheduling because we're greedy sons of bitches and want to add even more shows to the calendar in 2005."  That's just my guess, anyway.  
    Remember, the Fed's doing 14 PPV events this year (an increase of 2), and as of last word, they still weren't sure about 2005 (the plan was to go up to at least 16, I thought, but hard-on remains intact for the idea of 18).  If pushing the WM21 date back means anything, my guess is that it means they want both a RAW AND a SD! brand PPV between the Rumble and Mania.
    Again: I'm putting words in people's mouths, or at least spinning their words my own nefarious way.  But I also wouldn't necessarily be rushing to bet against me, either.
  • Most popular e-mail of the past day: people asking about Benoit being listed at 6'0" in the "Tale of the Tape."  Some even did their homework and bitched because even on WWE's own website, he's listed at 5'10" (itself a charitable call, as I've met Benoit, and even recall thinking "Hey, I could be the tallest Radical" at one of the Pillman shows, and *I* go 5'10").
    You know what folks?  Who cares.  I swear, I can't get a read on you.  One minute, I think the internet would collectively lay down and spread its legs for Benoit, the next, they get annoyed that WWE tries to do something to help him get over a bit.
    Man, pick one annoying trait, and stick with it, kids!
  • All my conspiricizing about Earl Hebner the past couple weeks?  For naught.  WWE.com reports that Earl is down with a shoulder injury, and that's why he's been missing since Backlash.  Not so that he can avoid Calgary fans, and not so he can do dramatic run-ins and screw Chris Benoit just because Vince McMahon is in a sky box.
    Good to know.  And good luck to Earl, too.  I know if ever a Bret needs screwing, there's only one man for the job!  Get well soon.
  • I think that's about all for me today.  There stands a good chance that I might give myself Friday off as a birthday present, but that's not set in stone.  It'll depend on whether or not there's adequate subject matter, as well as my level of motivation.
    But there will still be plenty of good stuff coming up the next few days, so don't be shy about coming on back.
    Quick request, though: he joked about it a few weeks ago, but Canadian Bulldog really will be taking a week or two off here.  Please don't hassle him about it, please don't assume it's another ruse.  And if you've got a spare moment and want to bring universal karma into alignment, think a happy thought and shoot it his way, and he'll be back on the job as soon as possible.  
    And with that, I am outta here...


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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