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The Castrating of Eddie, The Rebutting
of Jeb, and Some Weekend News
May 7, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'll be honest: I wasn't gonna do a column today.  Even on Wednesday when I said it was up in the air, the chances of today's column happening were, realistically, less than one in a hundred.  I thought I'd have little to say, and I thought I'd have even less motivation to say it.

Then Lund Happens, and I feel an obligation to retort, even though our debate has now devolved into an argument about the argument, instead of an argument about the issue.  But hey, it's really fun for us (for me, at least), and I'm not gonna let him have the last word.  Especially not after those lies he told about my friends!  Both of them.  They ENJOY Rick Time.  CRAVE it.  They told me so.

Toss in a few pressing newsbites, accentuated with what I'm feeling might be kind of a longish rant, and I think I can squeeze a column out of this.  Then maybe I'll give myself Monday off, which is probably when I'll need it after an extended two day birthday party with friends and then the obligatory Actual Birthday Combined With Mother's Day celebration with family at my mom's house. [Where it looks like the formula is: my birthday is to be celebrated with presents for me, and Mother's Day is to be celebrated by me cooking a quality dinner...  which suits me fine!  And you jerks thought the only things I was awesome at whipping up were drinks!  I'm as deadly in the kitchen as I am with the booze, bitches!]

But me, miss doing a Free Per View Preview?  Probably not gonna happen, either... so let's just do this thing today, let me get off to my Weekend of Fun, and then no matter how hard it is, I'll slog through something for you all on Monday, too...  

Segment the First: Some Ranting and Newsbites

  • So I saw SD! last night.  I was not that impressed.  But I just might surprise you with where I felt let down...
    Obviously, the crap with Booker was just that: unadulterated poop.  It's one (actually worse: TWO) of those segments where I just sit there wondering, "Who thought it was a good idea to put this on TV?".
    Storyline-wise: I fear my half-ramble from the Spoilers might be right... that Booker's voodoo scavenger hunt will have the effect of "summoning" Mordecai from the Other Side, or something.  Notice who didn't get a vignette tonight?  Cuz I did.  Methinks they decided to change course, and having a guy cutting promos in slickly-produced skits doesn't jibe with emerging from below in stupid graveyard nonsense like tonight's.  That somebody sat down and thought "This is the way to introduce a new character" absolutely baffles me, and yet, that's clearly what the purpose of the skits was.
    Maybe it'll be somebody other than Mordecai, if we're lucky (I actually think that guy has too much promise to be pissed away in a laughably bad introductory angle like this).  Has anyone talked to Ted DiBiase and Brian Lee lately? Or Charles Wright?  God, I hope I'm kidding there...  Either way, it's Gay Spooky personified, and the overly Hollywood production (especially during the first bit, with the fancy edits and spooky music) was Lower My Head in Shame Bad (even though I had no company for the show, I STILL sort of felt embarrassed for watching, as the Reds were waging a second consecutive heroic comeback 15 channels away)...
    But you know what else I especially didn't cotton to?  I'll give you one guess.
    HA!  WRONG!  You all guessed "Jacquelyn winning the CW Title," didn't you?  Yes, you did.  Frankly, although I'm not shocked that the internet types are up in arms that their Personal Favorite Title Belt went to a woman, the simple facts are that it got over with the crowd, that it was a late decision due to injury and probably won't be a long term thing, and that you're all missing the point.
    Yes, things like David Arquette, Madusa, and Oklahoma winning titles were bad, and devalued the belts.  But that's not because Madusa and Arquette possess female genitalia: it's because Vince Russo didn't fully understand what the fuck he was doing.  Those things failed in pre-planning and in execution, not in theory.  As evidence: Chyna and Vince McMahon didn't ruin the IC belt or the Royal Rumble by winning those, did they?  No, because those stunts were conceived of with the proper "outs" and were executed so as to make sure everybody saved face.  They actually were done in a grander context and with an ultimate purpose, instead of because it sounded like a good idea at the time.
    On the strength of how freaking outstanding Chavo (both Chavos, actually, as Classic was doing some pretty quality over-the-top gesturing, too; loved the post-match bit where ref Hebner grabbed the title right out of his hands!) set up the loss, it went over great.  So far so good.  It could still end up sucking, but I'll wait till it ACTUALLY DOES before I commence my bitching.  If anything, I thought that the CW Title Change was one of the three most effective segments of the night.  I'd say more, but frankly, if you need to be told a whole bunch of additional and completely unique reasons why you're wrong for being all pissed off, this is also what Erin wrote about this week.  Talk to the Broad, cuz I got other fish to fry...
    The other thing I really didn't like:  pretty much all things Eddie and Bradshaw.  Even the pretty cool post-main event Psycho Act didn't do anything for me.  You know why?  Because it does nothing to fix the root problem: that Eddie vs. Bradshaw is the least-sellable PPV main event in recent memory, and probably should never have been dedicated to paper, much less put into execution.  OK, so Eddie bloodies two Dudleys, one referee, and RVD.  That's got NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING, except that it undoes the kind of cheesy simpering silent act Eddie did earlier in the night.  At best, we might hope that maybe RVD somehow uses this as an excuse to be another challenger to Eddie's belt, cuz lord knows he needs some.  But I wouldn't even put much money on that...
    And the opening bit, the Incident in El Paso?  Again, really nothing to do with Eddie vs. Bradshaw.  At least, not in so far as anyone could possibly give two shits about.  Just about the only reasonable thing Bradshaw said in his later promo was that he didn't really do anything to Mrs. Guerrero (despite Cole's ham-handed attempts to portray it otherwise, and NO, I am not endorsing Clotheslines From Hell on 75-year-old women, I just don't think it was a viscerally heel act by Bradshaw).  The rest was just one-dimensionally gimmicky nonsense that personifies the pointlessness of Bradshaw's latest repackaging: his is a character that might have been edgy in 1996.  But the Insensitive, Loud-Mouthed, Rich White Guy has to go and do something like get hooked on drugs to be interesting here in 2004.  Other than that, it's a marginal gimmick that is entertaining to only a very few, and actually despised by even fewer since it's long ago become clear that a lot of the political grandstanding is just part of an act.
    So pushing Bradshaw was dumb from the get-go, I say.  And even though I've said that the last two weeks have maybe seemed more tolerable because he's only there via video, that's really a cheapshot on my part.  Ideally, the solution isn't "less Bradshaw to make a better SmackDown!"... it's "Better WWE Title Feud makes a better SmackDown!".  And even with less Bradshaw, even with attempted sizzle like this week -- a "shoot" angle with Eddie's mom having a heart attack, and then psycho Eddie to close out the show -- the fact is that none of that does ANYTHING to make ANYONE care more about the main event of a PPV that is just 10 days away.  It's all tangentially related to that main point, but it's not at the core of Eddie vs. Bradshaw.
    I guess maybe what I'm getting at is that there is no way to make Eddie vs. Bradshaw sellable.  At least, not here in May of 2004.  Maybe if they'd let Bradshaw do the JBL gimmick, test the waters, tweak it over time, he'd have caught on.  I have my doubts, but hey, anything is possible.  And they aren't just taking the general, anonymous label of "SmackDown!" down with them by pushing Bradshaw... they are also doing something much worse: they are severely hamstringing Eddie Guerrero, the singular man and performer.
    A tacitly understood fact of pro wrestling is that a babyface is really only as good as the heels who put him over.  There are, in rare instances, exceptions, when your heroes evolve into superheroes and people actually do tune in to watch Hulk Hogan vs. The Masked Tenta and think it's special.  But most faces need that top heel to MAKE them.  Eddie got the benefit of beating Brock Lesnar, but sort of had to cope with the fact that Goldberg was involved.  Some rub, but not all of it.  Then he got into a feud with Kurt Angle, but it was cut short (both in terms of match quality/duration at Mania AND overall feud length/intensity) by Kurt's injury.  Again some rub, but not enough.
    In a very formative period, Eddie was then stuck with... John Bradshaw Layfield.  An established, massively-over champion could have made do with JBL as an off-month PPV challenger, maybe.  Eddie does not have that luxury.  He really could have used a career-making, title-reign-defining feud to climax on this May PPV.  Bradshaw should never have been considered for the job.  I won't lay any blame on the Angles or the Shows who are dealing with injuries.  I just think somebody, somewhere, should have thought more creatively about this. Because, really, the solution would have been pretty simple.
    Triple H.  If HHH gets lotteried to SD! and STAYS there, so many of our problems are solved.
    What does RAW lose?  Not as much as you might think.  Yes, Shelton takes a hit, because he doesn't get the shocking upset win.  But guess what?  Shelton's back on the mid-card now, MAYBE getting into position for an IC Title run.  There are other ways he could have been elevated into that position, and they didn't HAVE to involve HHH.  And would it have been so horrible if they'd had to run with Benoit/HBK, one-on-one, a month or three sooner than they wanted to so HHH could be free to save SD?  And hell, HHH could always have been back on RAW by the fall to do all the things he DIDN'T do by skipping over to SD!, basically leaving us right back where we started by the end of the year...
    Meantime, even if you posit that RAW loses a mid-card babyface, a bit of Utilitarian Calculus quickly establishes that using HHH to cement the position of a brand-carrying main event babyface is MUCH more important.  HHH simply should have gone to SD! a month ago.  As an offshoot of the match they had on the Lottery Edition of RAW, Eddie vs. HHH could have been a really hot feud for two months, leading to the Judgment Day PPV.  Without the drag on entertainment that is JBL in main events, SD!'s weekly shows would have had more spark, and some of the effective mid-card things they are doing (Rico/Haas, the elevation of Dupree) would have had a brighter spotlight in which to shine, instead of existing as relatively amusing throw-away moments on otherwise boring shows.
    SD!'s weekly show sucks less, the May PPV suddenly has an anchor around which to coalesce, and best of all, HHH's recent tendency towards being selfless and jobby MAKES Eddie Guerrero.  Makes him a real champion and a real main eventer.  Then HHH can go off and make his movie, and some plot device can be used upon his return to put him on whichever show they want.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is that they could have used the guy, in the course of three months, to MAKE the careers of Benoit and Eddie, and in the end, help keep both brands' titles equal in the fans' eyes.
    Didn't happen.  Should've though, I think.  Trying to ponder reasons why it didn't, one thought occurs to me: HHH didn't WANT to go, and obviously would have had the stroke to veto the move.  And I really couldn't blame him.  Angle and Show down with injuries, Lesnar gone.  That would have been scary, having to go to a new show and basically be The Man, especially when he could just stay on RAW and be part of an ensemble cast that's kicking ass.  I'm not kidding, either: I honestly sympathize if that was even the smallest part of the motivation here.  Simply put: it's my freaking Dream Job to put all my years of internet wanking to use for real, but if somebody came to me tomorrow and said, "Here, jerko, SmackDown! is your show for the next three months," I'm not sure I'd take it.  Cuz I'm not really sure I could do anything with it except fail and set the NEXT guy up to do well.  That's what HHH would have been signing up for: a little over a 2 month long tour of duty on a show that looked utterly depleted.  Would YOU want that job?
    But now I'm digressing.  Point was: Eddie vs. Bradshaw blows.  This is bad for SD!, and then bad again for Eddie and his chances of having a legacy past "one failed title reign."  And more to the point: the stuff they did last night (quasi-shoot heart attacks, via satellite promos, and Psycho Eddie Run-Ins against people who have nothing to do with Eddie) did nothing to fix this problem.  Those segments didn't necessarily suck out loud, they just didn't really have any reason for existing.  And 10 days out from a PPV, I think you oughta have more focus on your main event.
    Anyway, not a particularly strong outing, overall, as a result of my two main areas of bitchiness.  Two of the three matches they have for the PPV, and the storytelling last night for them  completely failed to do anything for me.  Not good.  And still only having three matches for the PPV?  Even worse.  I mean, I guess now we can at least infer a Chavo/Jackie thing, but that's still only about half a show (and that's being charitable given that it's half a pretty weak show).
    Stuff I did like (along with the harmless fun of Jackie's title win): Taker's match with the FBI; again, it's still new enough (and I never hated it enough back when it was "tired," anyway) that I love the Old School Taker fixins, and loved the return of the Sign of the Cross Last Ride with Nunzio, too...  Dupree/Cena: developed out of a pretty trying Torrie/Dawn match, but the beating and "new side" of Dupree was another step towards making the US Title match the Only Reason Why I Care About Judgment Day at this juncture...  and the main event: a little short, and again, not tied to any particular storyline, but you put those four in the ring, and I'll get something I like out of it.
    You can get the full report from Big Danny T in the SmackDown! Recap.
  • put prelim rating here tomorrow, and if its low, rip on "friends"
  • I don't always single out columns for specific praise.  If they conveniently allow me to skip an in-depth discussion: link.  If they are my own and I want to plug them again: link.  If I am directly rebutting it below: oh, you better believe that'll get a link.
    But other than that, I just assume that you all know that if I go through the trouble of formatting a column and publishing it, it's because I think it's good.  You SHOULD be reading everything here at OO, people!
    That said, I'm specifically mentioning Cory Harris' guest column from yesterday.  You might think "Oh, he's only a guest, how good can he be?", but you'd be stupid.  Just trust me, as a proud owner of National Organization of Rare Disorder's Handbook of Unusual or Sinister Symptoms (more commonly known as HUSS), I cannot put into words just how extensive, accurate, and insightful Cory's research is.  You simply have to read it for yourself: 8 WWE superstars matched up with their "perfect" diseases.
    Clearly he was inspired by greatness (warning: Link Type #2!).  But he, himself, achieved it again.  Just read the damn thing.
  • Mick Foley is returning to the ring this weekend!  But not in WWE...
    Instead, Mick is replacing an injured Bill Goldberg on a major show in Yokohama, Japan.  Mick is actually going to headline the Dreamstage Hustle III event against Triple Crown Champion Toshiaki Kawada.  The spot had been Goldberg's, and the match had been hyped for months, but Goldberg reportedly injured his hand while training and couldn't make the match.
    Mick took the booking on less than a week's notice, and will be wrestling his first match in Japan since BEFORE his original WWF stint.
    Now, how does Mick Foley take over for Goldberg on a match in Japan?  Well, you COULD spin fanciful tales about how Foley's a WWE star and under contract and Goldberg's STILL got his bio listed on the RAW Superstars page, and maybe this is a case of WWE quietly shuffling its own talents around for some incomprehensibly nefarious purpose.  But you'd be wasting your time.  It's just because both Mick and Goldberg have the same agent, and Mick's WWE contract allows him to pretty much do whatever he wants as long as it doesn't interfere with his WWE bookings.
    Still a very interesting development, just not one with any real implications here on the home front.
    Also on tomorrow night's big show in Yokohama, the Outsiders (Hall and Nash) will be working together for only the second time since the final dissolution of the nWo.  Sounds like a pretty loaded show, even just to us Ugly Americans...
  • Quickly, while my mind is in Japan: I think I lied about the videotape featuring possible incoming WWE diva Takako Inoue.  A few readers helped out with links and info, and I guess the deal is Takako did cheesecake PHOTOS and two other women wrestlers did the cheesecake VIDEO.  Oh well, I knew I was right to have my mind flashing to bOObs when I heard her name, I just got the details wrong....
    I mention it only because I know you care very deeply. 

  • Today on "Byte This," Tommy Dreamer basically formalized an already-existing arrangement: like Lance Storm before him, he said he now considers his in-ring wrestling career to be over, although he will remain with the Fed in a backstage capacity.
    As the plucky pretty boy turned Hardcore Protege, Dreamer was a trademark star of ECW during just about its entire run as a national entity.  But what may end up serving him best from the ECW days was what he learned as kind of a right hand man and apprentice to Paul Heyman.  The tricks of the backstage trade were imparted onto Tommy, and now, that's the job he's got with WWE.
    In the absence of a Hardcore Division, Dreamer probably didn't really have any chance to make it as a wrestler in WWE: his most memorable in-ring moments were outrageous brawls and innovative hardcore spots.  And in a company trying to limit that stuff to the very top of the card, Dreamer was destined to be nothing but a watered down version of his old self working low on the card.  And sometimes being asked to drink Taker's tobacco spit.
    I'd feel bad for the guy, except (a) he's still got a good job, and (b) he's still banging Beulah.
  • If you were wondering why Bradshaw pimped CNBC tonight on SD!, it's because he just inked a deal to appear on that network twice a week, on something called "Bullseye."  If you really care, you can find it, I'm sure.
  • OK, so on Wednesday we talked about WrestleMania 21 being pushed back a week to April 3, 2005.  And I then told you that the explanation being forwarded to me was it was an "internal decision."  Basically that meant WWE made the move, not the Staples Center (which would have been Thought #1 for many, since they also have NBA and NHL obligations).
    And I further extrapolated that "internal decision" meant something to do with adding PPVs and bleeding our, the loyal fans', wallets dry.  For once, I missed the mark.  Go figure: ME, of all people, overthinking something and coming up with an unnecessarily complex explanation for an easy problem.
    Reader Tom Valentino dropped me a line yesterday and politely let me know that March 27, 2005 (the original date of WM21), just so happens to be Easter.  Duh.  So Titan pulled a WCW and some dumbass put a PPV on Easter, and they want to, as quietly as possible, move the show without anyone realizing they were out to lunch.
    Whoops.  I guess I've let the cat out of the bag.  And as another reader pointed out: if they really did put another PPV (a RAW one) in between Rumble and Mania, that would mean RAW would be part of nine consecutive months of PPV (SummerSlam thru Mania to Backlash, since they are already jumping in on SD!'s exclusive October action), which is kind of a stretch....
  • And that's about enough news, cuz what I really wanted to do here today is go revenging.  Strap in, kids....

Segment the Second: Rebuttal, Mr. Dukakis?

Well, I led with the news and current events because I realize this second segment is a masturbatory piece: not only is it me arguing about an argument that you may or may not care about, it's me flexing my mighty Webmaster Powers to try to get the last word.

But after Jeb said we were all getting burnt out on wrestling, then I said no because we're resigned to certain cycles, and then Jeb said I missed the point entirely, I am struck by a few additional thoughts.  I'll try to keep them brief.  And to keep them organized, I'll try to go point-by-point in the same order as Jeb's column yesterday (although, as the Lazy Man that Jeb correctly posits me to be, I'm not actually going to quote and footnote this thing; I ain't in college no more, kids, and I ain't gots to write like it if I doesn't wanna).

First, about Problem Identification vs. Solution Development.  Jeb says he never said out to propose a solution, just tell us what was wrong.  Now, it might just be my business school training, but I think mostly it's my personality: if I can't develop a course of action, then that entire train of thought is not worth my time.  By taking the time to identify the problem, Jeb's tacitly saying there's gotta be a way to fix it.  At least, that's how my ears hear it... and maybe that's what led to one of our misunderstandings.  But that's gonna be our fourth issue, so...

Second, resignation vs. disappointment.  Mr. Fancy Pants Journalism Guy probably has me dead to rights on the actual literal meaning of "resignation" and how I'm not making any softer a criticism than him by using it.  So I guess I should cop to something: I used "Learned Resignation" mostly as a play on Jeb's own "Learned Disappointment," back 18 months ago.  It was kind of arbitrary, and seriously just word play more than anything.  I just used it again last week without putting too much thought into it, just because, hell, he used his old column title for a sequel, so why shouldn't I?  I'd beg that you focus more on the overall gist of my column than on the fact that I thought using "resignation" would make my rebuttal more catchy.  And that gist: that things aren't necessarily as dire as Jeb makes them out to be, and that there are solutions. 

Third, Diehard, Dieharder, Diehardest.  Jeb paints me as a diehard fan, and that's why I can be so forgiving, even to the point of blindness to a bad product.  I just want to make sure I register a distinction.  I actually thought I made it clear in my first rebuttal, where I talked about watching SD! in 40 minutes flat and skipping out on B- and C-shows and so forth...  I am clearly a different class of fan than Jeb, and he's right to put serious significance on the fact that I'm about 19 years into a serious habit.  But like I said: I may be an addictive personality, but I'm not a sucker.  If Cobain had lived and put out shitty records, I wouldn't have made it 10 years after the fact with the "Mr. Nirvana" nickname.  If I see it's a Lisa Episode of the "Simpsons," I pass.  And if the wrestling sucks, I don't have to watch it.  Now, there is another class of fan who WILL watch it, and who WILL trade for indie tapes and buy weekly TNA PPVs and all that, and that's cool.  If I'm a "Diehard," then I think we need to make sure we realize there are "Dieharders," too.  But not for one second would I say I'm a "regular fan," either.  Because even if the wrestling sucks, the thought will still occur to me that "Hey, I can go pick up the WM20 DVD" or "I've still got the Iron Man Match on my DVR," and I'll go back and re-watch wrestling that is good.  Addictive personality, you see: but maybe not quite the true diehardest of fan.  

And let's not gloss over how important having OO is to my fandom, too: even if wrestling really DID suck, it'd take months of the entire business sucking as bad as SD!-in-April did before I got so tired of it that the ego gratification of having so many people care about what I think got old.  And even after that, the old tapes and my history as a wrestling fan might sustain me longer.  And even after that, the cool people I've got writing for me and hanging out in the forums might be able to keep me on track and sustain some semblance of enthusiasm.  It's quite a little web I've woven myself into, and yet, I think my ability to walk away and have a "low wrestling content" week maybe knocks me down a peg on the Wrestling Diehard Ladder, even if it is the thing that helps keep me sane.  More than anything, my disbelief in "Wrestling Burnout" stems from the fact that I'd self-monitor the situation and not let myself get burnt out on crap, because I wouldn't be watching it long enough to get sick of it. If it gets that bad, I'm just gone.  The rest of my argument seemed sage at the time, and I still think I've got some good points, but mostly, it was window dressing that I schemed up because I can't imagine ever letting myself get so overexposed to something even when I know it blows. 

Fourth, the Argument Never Made.  True enough, Jeb never once said "I think wrestling should do reruns or have an off-season" in his original piece.  But he did clearly say (paraphrasing, cuz I'm lazy) that "Wrestling not having reruns or an offseason is a bad thing because there aren't enough good ideas to fill up all the time."  Now, if you flash back to Point #1, I hope you'll understand how I might have read Jeb's problem identification and distilled it down to two possible solutions:  either More Good Ideas or Less TV Shows.  I tried to address both those by endorsing "More Good Ideas" (and pacing of those Good Ideas via management of Free Per Views and Maintenance Shows, and what not)  over Less TV Shows (which even if Jeb didn't champion himself, he clearly set it out there as an option).

If he'd mentioned it just matter-of-factly (more like "well, we just gotta deal with the fact that wrestling is fresh 52 weeks a year, so here's a bunch of related problems that we REALLY have to address"), I wouldn't have latched on to it... but Jeb did go on at length about how most shows on TV have 22-26 week "seasons," and more than half the year off.  And those shows are either 30 minutes or 60 minutes in length.  And WWE is doing two separate 120 minute shows EVERY week.  Laying all that out there, I don't think I can be blamed for concluding that Jeb did think that a summer hiatus or something would be desirable for wrestling.  Hell, I remember reading through the first time and expecting him to bust out the example of HBO's Original Series (which, unlike regular TV, do only 10 or 12 episodes per season in order to concentrate the quality) to support a theory of how a reduced Wrestling Year could work.  Of course, he didn't, and I did probably put words in his mouth...  but I think my inference may have been a common one.

Fifth, the Burnout Ratio: Steak vs. Hamburger.  It seems like Jeb thinks I'm glossing over "bad minutes" by calling shows laden with them "Maintenance Shows."  And as a result, I'm unwittingly supporting a genre that he thinks has a 1:4 "good to bad" ratio by using flowery language to cover up the preponderance of awfulness.

I don't think that's the case at all.  In fact, I'd isolate Jeb's definition of Good vs. Bad minutes, and find our bone of contention there.  "Good" minutes are just that to Jeb: good.  But in his "bad" minutes, Jeb clearly says are all things that are average, boring, or awful.  And I can't cop to that.  As soon as you start putting the baseline product in a "bad" category, start calling "average" unacceptable, well, we've reached a severe impasse.  And look it up: this is one time I know I'm getting an exact quote right:  Jeb said that "average" minutes go in with the bad.  To him, Hurricane vs. Conway on this past Monday would be a reason to get angry, burnt out, and channel-flippy... or at least contribute to those reasons.  Which I can't quite get behind.  Bear with me...

Now, this isn't just me being a long-term (or diehard) fan who likes wrestling, and therefore thinks of an "average" wrestling show as better than an "average" sitcom.  It's more me accepting that "average" is OK, and THEN because of my fandom, actually embracing the "average" as something I do like.  If you can't accept "average" as being OK, you might be locking yourself into a miserable existence.  It might take the precise amount of whiskey, but I can go out and not openly mock (or punch) the vast majority of people I meet, even though 90% are "average or worse."  And I even enjoy them, sometimes.  And hell, if only the "Above Average" got to get laid... well, let's just say over-population wouldn't be a problem here on Spaceship Earth. 

It's OK to want more from your wrestling shows, but I also think that you're really painting yourself into a corner if you can't go ahead and accept/endure the "average," especially if it's a genre that you're particularly fond of.  Getting back to TV and entertainment, every TV show has off-weeks.  The good shows bottom out on "average,"  maybe brush up against "boring."  But I am NOT just covering up by calling those "maintenance weeks."  Simply put, to build to a crescendo, you need to lay a foundation.  Sometimes, that means a boring "character" week where you make us care about somebody so you can kill 'em later and blow viewers' minds.  It even ties into budgetary concerns: I always remember being able to identify the 2 or 3 "ship-bound" episodes of "The Next Generation" that seemed packed in near the end of the season so they could blow a lot of extra stuff up and have tons of cool special effects in the season finales.  Any show that doesn't have a few down weeks in a season, well, hell... they're probably on HBO doing 10 shows a year.  And as I said, and as Jeb has even agreed with: a reduced Wrestling Year is NOT the solution.

If you've got people who know what they are doing, these "average" weeks aren't just acceptable because they are reasonably competent examples of the form... but they can also have added value if viewers KNOW that more of the genuinely GOOD is coming.  Latent anticipation can render an average show to be greater than the sum of its parts.  It's that phenomenon that made it easy for me to praise the 4/26 RAW as "good maintenance work," because it was fresh off a hot show, with another one clearly looming.  An "average" show with a throw-away main event designed only to hype the following week's main event?  Maybe not so good if viewed in a vacuum.  But viewed with a fan's loving eye (not even necessarily a diehard fan's eye), it did nothing but make you wish you had a time machine so you could make it be May 3 that much sooner.  Average in a vacuum, delicious in context.  

And going back to Hurricane vs. Conway from Monday: in a vacuum it sounds like the purest Heat Crap imaginable.  But in context, it was a reason to get a bit excited about Eugene debuting a week later and a chance to see Conway debut a new move that could serve him well in said match.  I won't just endure such average content, I'll enjoy it, thank you very much.

Once permitted to take "average" and put it in with the Good Minutes, I think some of Jeb's more dire proclamations about Ratios fizzle away.  When you're left with only the genuinely bad, you have things like this past Monday's RAW, where the Good:Bad Ratio would have been something like 93:4 (assuming a 127 minute run time and 30 minutes for commercials).  Kane, Lita, and Matt, I'm looking at you kids!  

Even if Jeb plays hardball and won't let me put "average" in with the Good, I'd insist you can't have it in with the Bad.  So we'd have to add a third figure to our Ratio.  Good:Neither:Bad.  And still, here I think I win, because the genuinely bad is scarce on RAW these days, and is scarce MOST of the time when a brand is clicking.  Even the previous two weeks on SD! (BEFORE last night's nonsense and misplays), they did shows that might have had a pretty even Good:Bad Ratio (albeit one with a bloated Average figure in the middle).

If my optimism and diehardness makes me guilty of anything, I think it's of accepting the average.  Cuz when stuff is bad, I don't think I've ever had a problem saying so.  And it's only the bad that makes me angry.  Therefore, it's only the bad that I can honestly put on the frowning side of the scoreboard in any kind of Ratio.

And finally sixth, Agreement in Essentials.  Hey, I think Jeb's probably pretty close to right here.  My viewpoint (putting "average" minutes on the Good side is as good an example as any, actually) is more optimistic, his is more pessimistic, and yet, we'd probably generally agree on the very best and worst parts of any show.  What we're arguing is the degree.  True dat.  But we're also both smart and stubborn sons of bitches, and so we argue it tooth and nail.  Lucky for you who have to read it, we're also entertaining and eloquent bastards, so I think it's an interesting enough process.

Oh, and one more thing:  Jeb smells funny.  His mom told me.  After I boned her.  

Just kidding!  Jeb started it!  Fricking snail on vicodin my ass....

See you Monday, folks.  Free Per View or Not Per View?  That is the question...  I'll figure it out this weekend, and make sure you know all about it before RAW hits the air...


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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