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RAW, TV/Late Night Update, Owen, and
A Few Other Monday Newsbites
May 24, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I won't kid you fine folks: I may be all "Dayton this, and Dayton that," but I'm not delusional.  I like it here and all, but mostly, I think I'm just comfortable...  and there's nothing like a couple nights in a city like Chicago to remind me that there's a difference between comfortable and kick-ass.

I won't bore you with the precise details of what really couldn't have been a more perfect weekend, but I'll just make this note: when I'm home, the State of Ohio pretty much decrees that everything shuts down at 2:30am and you gotta make your own fun from there.  [NOTE: shitty dance clubs that stay open and serve Red Bull till 4am are not fun and do not count. Your options are pretty much limited to grabbing some breakfast or finding an after-hours where somebody remembered to do the liquor shopping before 1am.]  But in Chicago on Saturday night, we left a bar at 2:30am of our own volition, were able to stop at a store and buy booze, went to a dude's house and got one of the strippers from earlier in the day to come on back for another quick floor show, and after all that, the bars were STILL OPEN.  Considering the day started with a Cubs game (all the beer and food we could handle on one of the rooftops on Sheffield) at noon, I'm not entirely sure HOW we still had the wits about ourselves to get back to the proper hotel room 18 hours after the debauchery started... but we did and it all worked out: fun had by all, and nobody got arrested or hospitalized.  There is nothing like the convergence of the right group of friends and a great venue like Chicago, folks.  Nothing.

But you know, maybe I should thank the State of Ohio for trying their hardest to make me want to be in bed by 3am...  because I'm not sure how long my body would hold up if Rocking Till Dawn was legal and encouraged.  But I'd still kinda like to try and find out.  I think my standing offer remains: anyone out there finds me a job in Chicago, and I will relocate in a heartbeat.  My only caveat: a minimum $150,000/yr. salary is REQUIRED, so that I may rock in the style to which I am accustomed! 

Or I can just stay here in Dayton, where (I shit you not) $20 can get you a night on the town, if you're crafty about it.  The place DOES have its charms, folks...

Here's a bit of rasslin' for you:

  • Well, I had to surgically remove my foot from my mouth last week after I did a half-assed "Well, it'll probably still be OK, but RAW won't be anything special tonight" preview for the post-PPV RAW.  And then the Rock showed up, and it was pretty awesome, and it WAS a special show.
    Well, this week again looks like a maintenance-type episode: but I'll refrain from making any bold proclamations.  I just think it SHOULD be kind of a down week, but I'll also grant that, in the tradition of the mid-90s WWF, Anything Can Happen.  I wouldn't bet on the Rock happening again, but who knows?
    Another reason to maybe think that this is not so much a blow-away week as it is a foundation-laying week for RAW is the fact that tonight's is the first show in a while where there really isn't any singular big match that's been pre-hyped for a week or longer.  Instead, it seems like tonight will be the night we firmly establish the storylines that the brand will need to take us through to June's Bad Blood PPV.
    On the top line (on my depth chart, anyway) is Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.  HHH cost Michaels his one-on-one title match against Chris Benoit, and last week Michaels returned the favor by costing HHH a chance at a title shot against Benoit by interfering in the #1 Contenders Battle Royale.  Although Michaels is "suspended" courtesy of Eric Bischoff, I'm sure that tonight's the night we get the twist that will allow HBK to come on back to TV and set things up for a PPV showdown (which is expected to a Hell in the Cell match).  Until a few weeks ago, most thought this storyline/match would be HHH's outro so he could go off and make a movie for a couple months, though now that project's status is much cloudier, so who knows?  Maybe a "Loser Stays Suspended" type deal is implemented if HHH still needs the time off?  We'll see.  I actually don't think I care either way: the end product will be so spectacular that I can't imagine any way in which the storytelling leading up to it does anything to dampen my enthusiasm.
    I wish I could say the same thing for the #2 line on the depth chart...  because that's where Kane has set up shop.  And no, I don't have any real problem with Kane being elevated and turned into a #1 Contender.  A fresh challenger for Chris Benoit is a Good Thing, and further, I think Kane's a guy who WILL have good matches with Benoit, to boot.  Winning the battle royal last week, and eliminating as many guys as he did, it kind of set the tone for a return of Bad Ass Kane.
    Problem is, before we got that, we got Lame Ass Kane.  Look, I don't know where they intend to go with the Lita/Kane thing, and sure, there are a couple outs that might be pretty satisfying.  But the lack of anything even remotely good in the soap opera to date does not inspire me to think positively.  Lita is being asked to act against her "type," for one, and it might be fair to say that her being asked to act at all is maybe a bad thing.  And they're kind of doing the same thing with Kane: there are just some characters that don't need a sexual dynamic to them, and Kane is one.  The DX/Tori and Katie Vick incidents were cases where a babyface Kane tanked with storylines based on him wanting to score, because that's really not the part of Kane that anybody cares about.  Now as a heel, I fear results simply cannot be any better that they're trying this out with Lita.  And I say this with a track record of being The Guy What Made Fun of All The Idiot Chair Moisteners Who Got Upset When Chris Jericho Decided He Liked Girls And Did a Six Month Storyline With Trish.  That was a good story and it was right for the people involved, no matter what the smarks who somehow took more comfort in Jericho's sole companion being Christian might have opined.  But this thing with Kane?  Probably not good for him, certainly not good for Lita, and because of his next primary opponent, possibly not good for the World Title Picture.
    Again, I'll eat my crow on this if it turns out better than I expect.  We don't even know what Kane's Mystery Question to Lita was...  and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention an increasingly popular theory that some fans have been writing in with: that Lita might turn heel.  Huh.  Well, I guess maybe she DID take way too long to make the "save" last week for Matt, but...  I dunno.  I think maybe that'd be more a swerve for the sake of a swerve than because it was something well crafted.  And for all of my comments lately about finding the "new" Lita less appealing, it does not follow that I'd find her boo-able, so if you're thinking that taking away Lita's balls this last 5-6 weeks is setting up a heel turn, you're not really hitting the mark.  I'm not disliking "new" Lita as much as I'm finding her way less interesting to watch.  So unless you're positing a heel Lita who gets tons and tons of X-Pac/Big Bossman "heat," I don't see it coming.  And plus, what would Lita's motivation be to hook up with a 7 foot monster?  Keep in mind, the "she likes it rough" card has already been played this Spring...
    And it's very telling that in my breakdown of the World Title Picture, I've barely uttered the name of the champion, Chris Benoit.  Instead, I'm all nervous about the state of his challenger's soap opera subplot...  I'm not so sure this is a good thing, either.  Although in Benoit's case, he does seem to be in a transitionary phase, it might be understandable.  Since he came to RAW in January, he has essentially only had feuds with Shawn Michaels and Triple H; SOMEthing new had to happen for him, and taking a week or two to get things situated with Kane is OK.  I'm sure (I hope?) that after tonight, we'll have more reasons to be writing about Kane/Benoit than about Kane/Lita. 

    And another thing: Benoit's still one-half of the tag team champions, too.  He and Edge hold the belts, and that gives Benoit another thing to occupy his time.  Although maybe not so much of his time: the sad state of WWE tag teams means that outside of another assault from Evolution, there really aren't a whole lot of heel tandems threatening Benoit/Edge.  You might be able to massage things so that Christian/Tomko might make a reasonable duo to challenge, and maybe given the World Title feud, you plop Kane into the Random Partner Generator... I don't know...  it's a messy situation with no real obvious solution.
    On the third line: if we don't have a Randy Orton vs. Shelton Benjamin IC Title Feud hitting on all cylinders after tonight, I'll be shocked.  After last week's promo, we ought get that match made for the PPV.  I could do without Orton's Overly Scripted Racial Epithets, as there should be enough juice between these two to NOT resort to such cheap tactics, but whatever: I'm curious to see what two guys who could very well be feuding over World Titles in a couple years deliver in a feud against each other at this stage of their careers.  Having spent almost a year being the beneficiary of his "Legend Killer" status (not only did he get the rub by beating legends, he also realized the benefits of working almost exclusively against talented veterans who knew what to do to make Randy look good), Orton will have a chance to show us whether or not he's got what it takes to be a ring general on his own.  I'm very curious to see how it all works out.
    On the fourth line (but if handled well, possibly as interesting and hot a storyline as RAW will have for the next month): Eugene vs. the Coach.  A five star workrate classic?  Never.  Entertaining as all hell?  Quite probably.  Unless somebody is napping up at Titan Tower, the obvious and ingenious play is Coach coming out all pissy tonight saying that without the Rock, Eugene is nothing, and challenges Eugene to a match, and that the match will take place on Pay-Per-View (where the Coach is undefeated in his career).  That part pretty much writes itself.... but where they go from there over the next 3 weeks is entirely up in the air: William Regal is your wild card in all this, and his loyalties and how soon that are revealed will dictate a lot.  I say drag out the ambiguity to the PPV, and have Bischoff and his boy, the Coach, openly dangling a return to the wrestling roster in front of Regal in return for him sabotaging Eugene.  And as I said last week, I don't care if it ends with Regal going full-out heel by screwing Eugene or if it ends with Regal showing compassion and becoming Eugene's tag partner for a feud against Cade/Coach, I just think it'll be quality entertainment.
    Elsewhere tonight: it's still unclear exactly what the next major showdown will be, but Chris Jericho vs. Christian's Soldiers is still a going concern.  I don't know if Jericho's gotta do a one-on-one with Tomko or what, nor do I have any late word on how Christian's back will affect his availability/role on tonight's show.  But I'd wager heavily that Jericho, Christian, Trish, and Tomko will be working together for the foreseeable future and we ought get a glimpse of that tonight...  they gave the women's division the week off last week, but they've got an interesting scenario developing in so far as Molly Holly should still want sweet, sweet revenge on Victoria for the head-shaving, but it's Molly's henchwoman, Gail Kim, who must now be in line for a title shot after making Victoria tap out in two non-title matches....  I'd assume that in so far as he needs something to do when his partner is occupied with his other belt, Edge will probably find himself feuding with Evolution in one form or another... and I also think that Tajiri might be in the same boat (as he took a week off to sell the beating he got from Batista, but should be back on TV tonight)...  
    So there you have it: everything you need to know about tonight's RAW.  I'm sensing a general maintenance week vibe, and spent paragraphs expounding upon my discomfort over the Kane Situation... so watch them go ahead and put on another kick-ass show tonight to make me look like an idiot.
    You can't afford to miss that, folks.  But if you do, remember: I'm back with the RAW Recap tomorrow, and that's almost as good as seeing the show.  Sometimes, it's better!
  • The final rating for last week's SD! wound up clocking in at 2.9, or a drop of a few ticks from the week before and another subpar performance.  It's especially bad since it came on the heels of a PPV, which goes to show that fans who didn't check out the PPV didn't even care enough to show up for the first free show afterwards to get up to speed on what happened.
    Not good news. 

  • But in so far as it's news at all, SD! is probably feeling better than RAW after the networks unveiled their new line-ups last week.
    For as long as I have any memory of the issue, Thursday night has always been "TV Night" where the networks put their biggest-drawing shows.  Starting when I was 8 or 9, before "Must See TV" was a billion dollar marketing phenomenon, it was Cosby and Family Ties.  Then it was Cheers, then Seinfeld, then Friends... and next year, for the first time since Ronald Reagan was in office, nobody's really sure if there's gonna be any real anchor show on Thursday nights.  If the Friends spin-off doesn't take off, Thursdays could be a really soft night, and SD! (assuming it's not still sucking by then) could be the beneficiary of the lightest competition its had to face in its five years on the air.
    Meantime, RAW's competition is looking a bit more fierce.  WWE always has to deal with Monday Night Football borrowing viewers from its primary demographic, but the other 8 months of the year, Monday nights are not exactly a haven for particularly hip programs that appeal to a younger/mostly male audience.  It's all CBS sitcoms that usually draw well, and those are designed for families and older folks.  That ends next season, when FOX moves "24" to Mondays at 9pm; it's part of a new gimmick schedule where FOX is debuting its shows across the calendar instead of all in the fall.  "24" will run uninterrupted (no reruns) every Monday, picking up exactly when Monday Night Football leaves off.  This is not coincidental: FOX wants that young adult audience as soon as MNF is done with it, and won't give them a chance to gravitate back to wrestling after football season.  
    I have only anecdotal evidence to suggest that "24" and wrestling share a fanbase, and I might be overstating things a bit, here...  but I'm VERY confident that I'm right to say that WWE has more to fear from "24" than they do from "Becker."  Given that the end of football and subsequent return of a few casual fans to RAW has always corresponded with the gearing up for the Rumble-to-Mania homestretch, I think this'll be an interesting little issue to reprise come the New Year.
  • Speaking of network TV shows and wrestling...
    The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young will be appearing tonight on the Jay Leno show.  I'm not sure whether or not WWE will promote it (or promote it that heavily), since I believe their appearance is for a non-WWE project....
    "Lipstick and Dynamite, Piss and Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling" is a documentary covering the genesis of women in wrestling, and both Moolah and Mae are featured.  It debuted in limited release about a month ago, and has recently secured distribution so that you might actually be able to see the film outside of NYC and LA.  This is what Moolah and Mae will be taking about with Leno tonight.
    Again, WWE does NOT have its fingers in this pot, so I can't imagine them too heavily promoting somebody else's film...  and if they don't plug the Leno show on RAW, this might be your only warning to make sure you check 'em out.  Then again, it IS Leno and Moolah and Mae, so maybe taking a pass isn't too horrible a plan, either....  let's just say none of them have much in the way of Passable PPV Appearances over the last 5 or 6 years and leave it at that.
  • Yesterday marked the five year anniversary of Owen Hart's tragic death on the "Over the Edge" PPV...  as always tends to be the case when this anniversary hits, my first thoughts are selfish ones: to salivate at the thought of all the matches Owen could have had with the Benoits and the Angles and the Jerichos, if only things hadn't gone wrong that night in Kansas City.
    And that's not fair to Owen's friends and family, who lost so much more than a steady stream of pleasant distractions on Monday nights.
    So I guess I'll just tell you that Denny Burkholder has done a much better job than I feel I could taking us back and remembering that fateful night in his latest Circa.
  • Since it's on my mind: a few folks have written in over the last few weeks asking if it's true that USA Network is making a movie based on Owen Hart's life...
    I know it was something that was in discussion/development, kinda based on Martha Hart's book, but if it has actually gotten past that phase (casting or production or anything), it's news to me.  
    It might be awful for me to say this, but turning Owen's life and tragic death into a low-budget made-for-TV crap-a-thon is something I'd rather NOT see.  I say this not because I don't think Owen's story is one that could be told in a compelling way, but that given the players involved, it's probably not going to be handled particularly well.
    Just look at what NBC (who probably had a budget that dwarfed whatever USA is gonna pony up) did with the Jesse Ventura TV movie, and tell me I'm wrong....
    I'll have to ask some of my cable people, but I'd guess if this thing has moved into production, given the speed at which this caliber of project moves, it's gonna be ready to air by the fall, maybe November Sweeps, or something....
  • Speaking of movie projects...
    The Rock's next one has apparently gotten a major boost.  Set to begin production this summer, "Spy Hunter" is a possible franchise-starter that will star the Rock.  And according to a movie sites, John Woo has agreed to come on board to direct the film.  This will almost certainly end up being the highest-profile, highest-budget film the Rock has been involved in to date.
    Of course, given the recent trend of Rock's box office performance, it also raises the issue of whether it might be the high-profile, high-budget bomb that finally brings the Rock's Hollywood prospects back down to earth.  
    Not that I'm cheering for failure or anything...  I'm just saying that another $45 million final tally (where "Walking Tall" seems to be settling in, and just below what "The Rundown" grossed) wouldn't make anyone happy given the scope of "Spy Hunter."  And to be fair: Rock has a really good chance to open some eyes in a low pressure situation this fall when his bit part as a gay Samoan bodyguard might steal the show in "Stay Cool."  No major box office expectations, a non-starring ensemble role, and a chance to be the guy everybody talks about after they see the movie?  That's not a bad spot for a guy who could use a Happy Story as far as his movie career goes...
  • I think that's about all I got today. Sorry, but trying to concentrate and collect material and be all witty and stuff when my body's still in a state of detox is not as easy as it might seem.
    I promise I'll bring the A-game in the RAW Recap and also be back for Spoilers and other news on Wednesday.  Till 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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