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RAW/Ratings, HHH/Movies, Eddie/UPN,
Bradshaw/Sucking, And Other/Stuff...
May 12, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


We're sort of at a crossroads here.  I could talk about how the RAW that happened two days ago was more really good TV and has me still excited about the future prospects for Monday nights.  Or I could look ahead and pretend to be interested about the fact that we've got a SD! PPV coming up, and feign some kind of enthusiasm on that front.

Ah well, we'll probably split the difference and do what everybody else on the 'net is doing: praise RAW, bitch about SD!.  Seems to be working...

  • To repeat myself from yesterday's RAW Recap: Monday's was a show that couldn't quite stack up to the preceding Free Per View show, but it was really very good on its own merits, and right up there with the vast majority of other shows RAW has delivered in the last three months. 
    I think the lack of a single climactic moment/match to define the show is what set Monday's show apart, and put it back in the realm of "outstanding edition of RAW" instead of up in the realm of something special or FPV-caliber.  You had good stuff all night long, some VERY good.  They even reduced the crap by about 50% from the week before (by shortening up and hinting at sweet, sweet closure for the Lita/Kane/Matt nonsense).  But in the absence of a match or development you'll be talking about for weeks to come, it was definitely back to feeling like a Monday night show again.
    That's NOT a bad thing.  I realize as I glance back it sounds like I'm being critical: but all I'm really trying to do is find the most ACCURATE way to praise the show.  For whatever reason, in my mind, that means making it clear that it was good in a different (and yes, SLIGHTLY lesser) way than the week before.  Because I am a giant asshole and these are the kinds of things that you come here for me to notice.
    Obviously, the main event cage match was really exciting.  I thought it had a very hot finish, and my only wish is that they hadn't short-changed it by only giving it 11 minutes.  That ending (starting with Trish's run-in) would have seem a lot bigger at the end of a 15-plus minute match, I think.  And tell me that you REALLY needed to see Randy Orton do that Crappy-Looking Resthold for 5 minutes in his match...  simple matter of time re-allocation would have made the main event even better, and would have tightened up what was already a good mid-show IC Title match.
    I was also a big fan of all things Eugene and Regal.  I think maybe they misstepped a bit by overselling the "Regal just wants to screw Eugene over" angle when it was clear Regal was playing it as "conflicted."  I hope Regal keeps playing it that way and that they spotlight it in coming weeks.  In a lot of ways, a Regal who wants to pursue his own interests but who also is coming to think Eugene is a good kid who deserves his shot would be cool because I think it mirrors MY interest in the angle.  Regal's my surrogate, as I first wanted to be divested of Eugene as quickly as possible, but have definitely come around and started to enjoy the character in recent weeks.  I can relate to that William Regal.  I can almost [a tear] feel for him.  OK, not really, but I still think it's a cool idea that a lot of fans would get behind, and I think when the day comes when Regal finally picks Eugene over Bischoff, it could go over huge.  THEN they do a tag team (which, for as much as I'm liking Eugene, seems like it'll be a necessary thing so as not to overexpose the gimmick or make it stale), and it'll really click.
    Everything else was OK or better, too.  Well, except for the part where not even one member of the audience thought Trish was naughty for teasing Lita about Kane, only further underscoring the poorly-conceived nature of that angle and the "new" Lita.  But everything besides that did its job.  Very strong show.
    And again, you can get the full recap and analysis and at least a few Restaurant Quality Asides in yesterday's OO RAW Recap.
  • For as much good news as there is on the Critical Front for RAW, the news on the Popular Front is not so happy.  Ratings for Monday's RAW took a nosedive, dropping nearly a half-point from the week before to a 3.5 cable rating.
    For all our enthusiasm over the brand's three-month hot streak, it seems Johnny Casualfan found some reason to not tune in to Monday's show.  Before I go making bold proclamations about what this might mean, I think maybe we need to hold tight for another week and see what trend (if any) develops, or if this might just be a one week anomalous blip.
  • Three other things from RAW... specifically, from my RAW Recap.
    One, I mentioned that during the Tajiri/Batista match, it seemed the crowd was responding to something other than the actual match.  Live reporters wrote in to say that there was a guy in a Gumby costume and a guy in a Michael Myers (from the Halloween movies) costume, and they were causing a ruckus.  The booing and "asshole" chants that you might have heard during that match were when security told Gumby to take off his costume's head.
    Two, I noted that Randy Orton seemed to have more fans than, strictly speaking, he should have had.  Again, live reports are there to not just back me up, but actually correct me: apparently, the feeling many had was that Randy Orton had MORE FANS THAN EDGE.  And that just ain't right.
    And three, during my recap of Jericho/Christian, I said Tomko slammed the cage door into Jericho's head before getting ejected.  This was wrong.  Tomko actually did one of his sloppy big boots to the head to get ejected.  My excuse: I'm usually in pure mark mode when I watch the shows, but sometimes, I can't help but let a tiny little observation sneak into my head.  Not grand smark theories, just little things that would have tightened up a particular spot or segment.  In this case, my brain said "Why bother making it more complicated than it had to be? He should have just slammed the door in Jericho's face."  Then when I did the recap, I just let the Fully Actualized Version of the spot come to the front of my brain instead of what really happened.  I actually happens about once a week where I accidentally "improve" RAW by putting something minor in the recap that didn't EXACTLY happen that way on the show...  this is the first time that a bunch of people caught me out on it, though.  So kudos to you!  I'll try to police myself more carefully in the future...
  • And a quick note about next week's Battle Royale on RAW.  I ran down the 20 names scheduled to participate in the Recap yesterday (another reason for you to read!), but really it's only 19.  Because Grand Master Sexay is either gone from the company or will be soon.
    Officially, I guess Sexay was sanctioned for showing up late to a house show over the weekend: he was originally only warned/fined for that transgression.  But reports are that a decision to up the punishment came only during the day on Monday (not even soon enough to take him out of the graphic for the Battle Royale), and was supposedly as much related to anticipated future problems as it was to the actual lateness to one show.  To say Grand Master Sexay didn't exactly have a Vote of Confidence from the locker room might be the best way to put it, I guess...
    If he's officially released already, or if it's just a matter of paperwork or whatever (for the record: WWE has not officially acknowledged this yet, which makes me lean towards the latter), this is still kinda hard to get worked up over if it turns out to be true.  Sexay hadn't exactly set the world on fire in his two or three TV appearances since returning, and though it's an asshole thing to say, I don't think fans will miss him much.  As long as they've got Scotty and Rikishi to annoy the piss out of them, I don't think Sexay was gonna bring anything really vital to the table.
    Oh, and one other thing about the 20 man graphic: got a couple e-mails wondering why Tajiri wouldn't have been in there.  Simple answer: they oughta hold him back and have him sell the Batista injuries next week.  If they do that, then I can secretly, in my head, imagine a scenario in which they actually intend to have Tajiri come back in 2 weeks and Revenge Himself upon Batista.  Let me have my moment, people.  Let me have it...
  • Continuing my trend of specifically pimping particular columns...  Matt Hocking's "Booking Wars" starts today, and runs in Trilogy Form through till Friday.  It's Star Wars meets... well I was gonna say "meets the RAW Satire," but it's actually more like the Nitro Satire.  Just trust me, you've never looked at the downfall of WCW quite this way.
    Unless you saw this the first time Matt posted it over on CRZ's site.  But it's updated and improved!  Just like Lucas did with the Star Wars Special Editions!  Except not retarded!  So be sure to check it out.
  • Some interesting developments about Triple H's movie career, and they are sort of intertwined.
    One is that his starring role in a WWE Films production called "Journey of Death" (or whatever "Journey of Death" is in Spanish) could be in danger of being postponed indefinitely.  "Outsider" John Milius is directing the project, and has actually, you know, made movies and stuff before.  But he works with one talent agency.  WWE works with another.  And apparently WWE's doesn't like Milius and wants WWE to bring the project "in house."  Which is putting the late-June/early-July start date to filming in jeopardy.
    For a moment, let me digress and say this is a totally in-character bonehead development if true.  The ego of WWE (to think they can start bodybuilding federations, football leagues, and production companies) is well noted.  But to pass up a chance to work with somebody who actually MIGHT know what he's doing so as to retain total control over the scope of a movie project when you've never actually produced a movie before?  Insane.  I'm already not 100% sold on the idea of HHH The Movie Star, so wouldn't you want the best possible people working on any vehicle that is designed to launch his career?  You know, so it's good and people like me have to eat their crow?
    From the wrestling side, the last I heard was still that WWE expects to be missing HHH for a couple months after Bad Blood, but that's now over a week old, and who knows how current it was at that time.  But I'd guess it DOES mean that you shouldn't totally write off "Journey of Death," either.  These are still rumors, just rumors from the movie side instead of the wrestling side: they are not inherently more true than what we talk about thrice weekly.
    And the second item actually comes from the same report: Milius has also been in the process of rejuvenating the Conan the Barbarian franchise for the past couple years.  And in all the talk over who might play the titular role, HHH's name has been frequently mentioned.  Never confirmed, but mentioned. 
    Well, it looks like we can confirm it: *if* a new Conan movie gets made, it looks like the director and Warner Brothers and HHH are all on the same page, and HHH will star in it.  For whatever reason, Milius is really high on HHH; it should be noted that he's the guy who originally selected the then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger to play Conan back 20 years ago, so who knows?  Maybe the guy's just got the knack for picking the right jacked-up, over-rated muscle head for the job?
    HA!  I keed, I keed.
    Anyway: "Journey of Death" apparently not for sure gonna happen any more, and if it turns out it doesn't, then HHH is gonna be here all Summer, kids.  But after that, who knows, because apparently if the money gets together, he could next be off to star in the next phase of "Conan the Barbarian" movies...
  • I was vague about this on Monday, because actual data wasn't in yet (just estimates), but the final take for the Rock's "Walking Tall" in its first weekend in second run/$2 movie theaters was $550,000, good for 18th place.  That trend pretty much cements it: "Walking Tall" will gross less than "The Rundown."
  • It's not a major motion picture, but Eddie Guerrero's gonna be showing up in an unexpected place later this month: in his own hour-long TV special on UPN.
    On Wednesday, May 26 (the last night of May Sweeps), UPN will air "Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story."  It'll feature all of the (euphemism alert) Demon Fighting Eddie has done to get to this point of his career, and should be pretty good viewing for fans, as well as just a plain ol' good story for non-fans.
    I know I ranted at length on Friday about how WWE was castrating Eddie by putting him in feud against Bradshaw at this formative stage of his reign, but... well, I guess it's nice to see something like this in the works.  It's not the same and won't have the same impact as a killer title feud would have, but it sends a message that Eddie's a signature star for the company, and is getting all the perks and benefits there of.
  • And I guess that kinda brings me to a final ranting point: Bradshaw.  
    He posted a new column today on WWE.com, and I can safely say that for the second time in the last few months, he's stealing shtick that's been done before in an attempt to get himself over.  Either that, or he's really missing the point.
    The "rich, conservative, insensitive white guy" thing has been around for over a decade, and as I've previously discussed, it's just not that interesting in the here and now, since the backlash of "obnoxious, righteous, liberal pantywaists" has revealed the entire industry of wind-baggery to be a giant show.  It's no more real than wrestling.  For the rich, insensitive white guy to make headlines these days, he needs to have a serious vicodin habit, or something.  Thus, "JBL" strikes me as a charicture more than a character.
    And for his latest trick, Bradshaw has questioned the intelligence, physical appearance, and sexual prowess of the internet because they dare to question his worth as a performer.  And that, my friends, is straight out of the HHH 2002 Playbook.  Again, not the freshest of material.  And I just had Lund calling me visually-displeasing and sexually impotent last week, so again, water of a ducks back.  Maybe if I wanted to retort in kind, I'd wittily mention how I'd boned Bradshaw's mom, like I did Jeb's.  Except, you see, I'm not as lazy and pathetic with my rhetoric as Bradshaw, so I'll actually try to argue a real point of view. 
    Here's a taste of JBL's wit: "For those of you fat, out-of-shape Internet wannabes who have never done anything more athletic than play checkers, kiss my ass for doubting me, and realize why you hate me. I was the guy in school who made you do my homework and locked you in your locker. JBL will deliver Sunday and you can 'report' whatever you want, but you will also realize how little influence you have, except to your little nerd friends. How long has it been since you guys that spend all your time reporting on us have been with a woman other than your mother? After all, when I see you in airports hanging out, you are always with guys. You guys donít have a questionable sexual orientation, do you?"

    I'm not gonna get into a whole big thing here, because I don't want to manufacture a controversy where none exists.  If Bradshaw wants to posit that there are fat, homosexual chair-moisteners out there watching wrestling and wants to intimidate them into being fans of his, fine.  You can be an icon to tubby, gay wastes of space, JBL, and I will be the first to salute you and note your newfound popularity!
    But for the rest of us, I don't know if we're in the majority on the internet or not, we're just regular folks who happen to like wrestling.  And we like it enough that we want it to be as good as possible.  Nobody is cheering against Bradshaw, at least I'm not.  I just can't help but notice when things don't click: and if I happen to mention that SD!'s downturn in popularity (ratings minus about 20% since WM20) coincided with Bradshaw's push, does this make me a villain?  I don't think so.
    Sure, there are other elements in play here: SD!'s roster took a massive hit after WM.  But by being the guy who stepped up and tried to fill some big shoes, Bradshaw needs to chill out and realize he's also got to field the Big Criticisms when they come.  Such is life when you're on top.  Or pretending to be, anyway. And I'd feel bad about making jokes or whatever, except that when you've even got HHH doing interviews in which the nicest thing he can find to say about JBL's Big Push is "Well, at least, it's better than his last gimmick," I don't think the internet is exactly alone in wondering if this was the right play for SD!'s top heel.  Who'd've thunk it? HHH and the Internet, agreeing on something!  Of course, word on the street is HHH *is* getting kind of chunky...  could he be morphing into One of Us?!?!?!?  OMG scOOp~!
    Anyway: all we want is for our wrestling to be as good as possible, and if we're guilty of anything, it's caring too much.  Awwwww.  But it gives us the freedom to make our judgments on whether something works or not based on criteria other than "Well, he worked really hard for a really long time and probably deserves a push."  Nobody doubts the hard work, nobody doubts the desire to do your best.  What we, the fans, are in charge of deciding, is if IT WORKS.  We vote with our eyeballs and our dollars, and some of us take the time to vote with silly internet columns, too.  More power to the Bradshaws and Bob Hollys and Billy Gunns for sticking with it the way they have and to each one of them (former 2 getting PPV main events this year, the latter one a former King of the Ring) getting at least that one big push to test the waters.  But for chrissakes, I don't think it's reasonable to lash out at fans just because they don't feel OBLIGATED to care about you, and instead go off and do something silly like turn rookies such as John Cena and Brock Lesnar into your brands stars.
    It boils down to: if a tree falls in the forrest, does it make a sound?  And if Bradshaw busts his ass and has a good match against Eddie on PPV, will anyone still be watching or will we have gotten sick of the show after Cena/Dupree?  There's simply more at work here than Bradshaw's hard work; there's the way he's been promoted, there's the gimmick, there's the entirely misguided storyline that landed him on top... the end result is, yes, the internet is down on Bradshaw's PPV Main Event Credentials.
    But some of us here on this wacky web have proven time and time again an ability to eat our words, if only you make us.  Maybe some of the porky, fey lethargic blobs actually do take pleasure in seeing the product suck or certain wrestlers fail.  I'm not one of 'em.  So overcome all the crap, Bradshaw, and you'll be entitled to all the riches you like to pretend you have on TV, just in the form of all the Virtual Ass Kissing you can handle.  Triple H took that deal, and he came out alright in the end.  Of course, so did Bob Holly, and he's pretty much set up camp on Velocity, now hasn't he?
    For the record, folks, you can check out Bradshaw's entire latest column (about one-eighth of which is actually about us internet fans) right here.  You worthless fat sack of man-loving crap, you KNOW you want to read it!
  • Actually I guess that leads us to another quick point.  And this time, I MEAN IT when I say "final."  For better or for worse, Eddie vs. Bradshaw is your PPV main event on Sunday.  You can find out for yourself whether they did anything to sufficiently improve the PPV's prospects at last night's TV tapings by reading the Spoilers, if you want.
    For my part, I'm not so sure they did anything to raise my personal level of anticipation to anything above "Sense of Obligation to Watch, At Least Unless Something Better Comes Up for Sunday Night."  But they did clearly add at least 1 additional match (which should be a really good one, even if not exactly a fresh one), and laid the foundation for maybe 2 others (which may or may not be so hot).  That's still a total of six.  And maybe two of which I care about.
    It leaves me in a bad place: the past two months, we've done this "Team Coverage" gimmick where all the OO-ites break down the matches and pick winners, and we try to decide who's the smartest based on who gets the most picks right.  Well, YOU try selling this PPV to a roster of columnists...  I'll be lucky to get 3 people playing along this month.
    And that's only if the release a PPV card in time for me to actually give the kids ample time to submit their picks.  Way to completely screw the pooch, WWE.  Probably the most loyally-lemming-like site on the web, and you're making it impossible for us to pimp your PPV for you.
    Well, we'll have some form of PPV Preview here on Friday for sure.  Maybe the Team does it, maybe I just turn it into an exercise in Fiction or something, and see if I have the chops to make every single match on the card sound AWESOME.  I don't know.  I just know that I can't do a solo, non-gimmick preview of the show without having to be really wasted off my ass.  I'd just get way too annoyed otherwise.
    So tune in Friday to see what happens.  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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