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TNA: Pragmatically Speaking... plus SD!,
Future Contenders, Lesnar, and Lots More!
June 4, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


It's looking like the Last Great Porch Weather Weekend of the Year, folks...  last night after SmackDown! was awesome: a few drinks, good tunes blaring from inside, crystal clear, cool and dry, a full moon, the whole nine.  No need to hole up in my basement with the guitars and the bottles of booze when it's that glorious out!  I'll have to try to enjoy it these next couple nights, too, because by all forecasts, next week begins 90-plus degrees and Making Your Own Gravy Weather.

And I'll be a miserable bastard till about September.  My weekday evening choices are usually (1) Sweating My Ass Off at Home Until It Cools Down Around 11pm or (2) Going to the Buck-Fifty Third-Run Movie Theater Down the Road to Get Some Air Conditioning.  Why do I have a sinking feeling I will actually be paying to see "Soul Plane" at some point in the next few months?

But you couldn't care less, could you?  Of course not!  So here's your FDA Recommended Daily Allowance of Expert Wrestling Analysis, you selfish jerks:

  • Today begins TNA Impact on Fox Sports Net.  As of this writing, the show hasn't aired yet, although it WILL have as of your reading, which makes this kind of awkward....
    I'll have to save the recap-y discussion of specifics till Monday (I refuse to "recap" a show based on the spoiler reports I got), and instead try to stick to a few more abstract/theory-based ideas that maybe will turn out to be completely worthless after I've actually seen the show.
    But enough equivocation, let me just blurt it out:  I honestly hope nothing but the best for TNA, but I'm not going and betting the farm on them being any more successful or entertaining after a year on FSN than they are now.  That might sound douche-baggy of me, but remember, I WANT them to prove me wrong.
    The landscape of the wrestling business today is such that I honestly don't see anybody short of a billion-dollar corporation being able to make a serious dent in WWE's monopoly.  I'm talking Ted Turner Insane Lust To Beat Vince McMahon money, not Panda Energy Looking For A Tax Write-Off money.  Either that, or you'd have to take your lesser budget and GENUINELY present a product that was distinct and unique from what WWE is doing.
    And for all the bells and whistles, TNA is essentially doing Sports Entertainment in the WWE mold, trying to compete on the same field of play.  You can have six-sided rings and the X Division, but the actual difference between the product's overall style is negligible.
    Compare to 1995, when ECW actually put itself on the map, and with a shoestring budget became a national sensation.  It was because they were doing something that US wrestling fans had (almost) never seen before: they swore, they bled, they boozed, they smoked, AND on top of all of that, they had guys who could work their asses off.  It was a completely different product from what WCW or the WWF of the day were doing.
    Which is why ECW grew and grew, and why they caught the eyes of WCW and the WWF.  And why WCW and the WWF cherry-picked ideas and talent from ECW.  But it didn't matter because ECW STILL had fewer limitations (content-wise) and could still make their product that much more extreme than WWF or WCW could ever be.  WCW might come in and steal Benoit, Eddie, and Malenko; the WWF might have introduced "Attitude"... but ECW was still playing a completely different game and continued to grow an audience through it all.
    It was only after ECW started having to play WCW and the WWF's game that they began floundering.  The PPV game and especially the deal with TNN meant watering down the product a bit.  Not all the way, but a bit.  But even the slight watering down was enough, because WCW and the WWF had taken notice and ramped up their products to the point that a watered down ECW was not that far removed from what you'd seen on Monday nights.
    Once they had to play that game, and once they didn't have the money to play it well, ECW spiraled downwards, screwing wrestlers on pay-outs and eventually evaporating in 2001.
    The lesson, again, for TNA: either have the money, or have a product that is completely divergent from what is already out there for wrestling fans.
    There's the story of WCW, too: they had the money, and they STILL screwed it up.  And, um, not to put too fine a point on it, but some of the guys who have surfaced in key spots for TNA are ones who were attached to WCW at various points during its drowning.  Guys like Bob Ryder and Jeremy Borash, who were part of WCW's B-support-team, are helping drive the TNA ship.  And Vince Russo!  He's found the Jesus, which is very good for him and all, but getting one's personal life in order is different from learning how to book sustainably entertaining wrestling shows.
    Again, I feel this is a point where I need to stop and remind you: I'm cheering for Impact to be awesome, for it to rekindle my casual interest in TNA and maybe even spark it to all-new levels.  But that won't stop me from telling my cautionary tale.
    Because, seriously, TNA *is* trying to play WWE's game.  They are an alternative Sports Entertainment product, not a complete paradigm shift.  I hate to keep harping on this, but the six sided ring is exactly what I'm talking about: it's a cosmetic difference.  And I'm not entirely sure it isn't a completely silly cosmetic difference.  Maybe some of the X Division guys will come up with triple-criss-cross spots or a tag team will be able to use the different turnbuckle positions for a new twist on a "stereo" top rope move...  but ultimately, c'mon: who gives a shit?  Somebody at TNA thought a Hexagoned Circle would LOOK COOL, and that's probably just about it.  It'd be like if I suddenly decided to present OO exclusively in Morse Code: sure, it'd be OMG DIFFERENT~!, but it would also, quite possibly, be extremely pointless.
    And in addition to a hexagonal ring, there's gonna be LAZERS and SPACE-AGE ENTRANCE TUNNELS and OTHER NEAT-O STUFF!  Which probably comes back to TNA being on a slightly different budget than WWE...  and maybe I'll have to eat this once I actually see it (rather than hear it described to me), but does that mean TNA still had to settle for a vision of "cool" belonging to somebody who is apparently stuck in a 1984 Rick Springfield video?  Jesus, I want a laser show, I'm sure I can still scrounge up somebody to sell me some Mood Enhancing Pharmaceuticals and I'll go see "Dark Side of the Moon" at the Planetarium.  Listen: ring entrances with lasers and tunnels aren't gonna go anywhere...  I could go into a whole big thing of entrance music/pyro/video being really important and why it is (to the point where it can get a cheap pop for even a marginal character/gimmick), but let's just assume we'll agree on that issue, and also agree that WWE KILLS TNA in this area.  Lasers and crappy public domain music will NOT match the majesty of even a WWE b-teamer's entrance to an original theme and video.
    And there's the X Division, where TNA tries to distinguish itself by playing the Workrate Card.  Except that the "Workrate Card" alone usually translates into "Indie-style High Spot-a-thons featuring performers with little-or-no marketable personas."  And I'm NOT saying I don't like those kinds of matches, sometimes.  Cuz I do.  They are a fun little change of pace.  But I think maybe TNA has probably already maxed out the audience of Workrate/High Spot Purists: the WWE audience wants big fancy ring entrances, gimmicks they can cheer or boo, and THEN they want some high spots.
    Think about it: two years ago, if Rey Mysterio shows up without putting the mask back on and without that cool-ass springboard ring entrance, he's probably back in TNA by today.  But no, WWE made Rey COOL, and THEN Rey blew us away in the ring, and NOW he's as good a reason to watch SmackDown! as any to a lot of wrestling fans who couldn't give a damn either way what size the guy is.  Not just to "workrate fans."
    Yes, the X Division gives us tons more high-risk and action in a 10 minute match than anything you'll see in a WWE Cruiserweight match...  but there's a limit to how interested you can get in a crazy six-man trainwreck plancha-fest when the only thing you really like about the six guys is "hey, they jump off high places and that's pretty exciting, I guess."  I call this the "Jeff Hardy Factor."
    The X Division has also brought us some unique concepts, like the Ultimate X high wire act.  But "unique for uniqueness sake" is again not always a great idea.  The first Ultimate X was a mess: the guys busted ass, and I can't take that away, but it was an absolute mess from a botched spots/technical difficulties perspective.  The second one redeemed the concept, but that's kind of a microcosm of the X Division for you: every attempt at truly distinguishing its unique features is kind of a one step forward, one step back proposition.  Leaving it, at the end of the day, as just a collection of really hard working guys who'll take all kinds of insane risks, but who generally don't have any distinguishing features beyond being known for busting ass.
    And to me, that kind of distinctiveness is practically worthless...  tell me: with TNA essentially trying to play WWE's game and doing it by the same rules, what would stop the Fed from seeing something that actually works in the X Division (be it a particular talent or a gimmick match) and stealing it for themselves?  The answer, obviously, is nothing.  TNA's product, even in the vaunted X Division, is close enough to what WWE is doing that the Fed could easily co-opt any X Division concept that REALLY seemed awesome.
    Again, unlike ECW's unique differences back 8 years ago, when they were doing things that WCW and the WWF COULD NOT do.  Not just that they weren't doing, but which they could never have done even if they'd wanted to.  So in a situation where WWE can swipe any cool TNA concept, put their own spin on it, and present it for an even larger audience and pretty much pretend like THEY invented it, clearly TNA is facing an uphill battle.
    I could go down another road here, too, talking about the marketability of the TNA roster... but I'm not sure that's fair, nor do I think I can do it succinctly due to the cans of worms I'd open up.  Suffice to say that if TNA is playing WWE's game (which they are), they need big name guys so that it seems to fans that they are playing the same game.  But you've gotta balance that with the fact that those guys cost money, and they would generally come in and demand to overshadow TNA's "in house" talent, while at the same time diluting the "workrate distinctiveness" of the company.
    It's a really tough thing to do, and I don't envy whoever has to make those decisions.  But I'll say this: on the entire TNA roster, even back when I was enjoying it as a twice- or thrice-monthly diversion, there was really only one CHARACTER I was 100% into, and that's Raven.  He had the good matches, but he also had enough depth and charisma that I actually looked at him, and my mind started working the way it does on Mondays and Thursdays: trying to plot out interesting twists and developments, imagining promos and angles, all that kind of stuff.  A notch below, I am a big Jeff Jarrett fan, and in just about every important way I think he can be equated to Triple H (his backstage clout, his awesome heelishness, his VERY good performances when he's motivated and with the right opponent).
    But beyond that, well, it gets kind of rough in terms of guys who are so marketable that they can rope in Monday/Thursday fans.  I've outlined before how I'm no longer the obsessive, tape-trading type of fan I once was: I get about as much wrestling as I need from RAW and SD!...  so I'm not on the jock of every indie guy who can hit a Spinning Space Flying Dragon Whip Screwdriver Power Press of Ultimate Pain.  And you can count the Ring of Honor shows I've seen on about one hand, and I'm sure that destroys my credibility with some of you, but... well, it kind of lumps me in with the vast majority of the rest of you though.
    I may not be on the jock of every indie flavor of the month, but I WILL say that when I see somebody good, I can get behind him.  Maybe not the same way I would a Raven or a Jarrett, but, still: AJ Styles is clearly "WWE-ready" in most every facet, and I think Christopher Daniels has got a cool kind of hook to go with his prodigious in-ring ability, and nobody was more shocked than me last year when Kid Kash wound up having MAD asshole skillz (and still kicked ass in the ring).  But again, these are the exceptions on a roster that features a lot of Pure Indie, and actually tries to use Dusty Rhodes as something other than a 100% comedy act.
    A comment I heard yesterday was along the lines of "Hey, at least it'll be better than SmackDown!, right?"...  but it's like apples and oranges.  SD!'s roster, as injury-thinned and mis-managed as it is right now, still trumps TNA's in every regard.  Granted, SD! has spent the last 2 months doing almost EVERYTHING wrong, which does leave them vulnerable; but the fact is that they are a tweak or two away (Bradshaw out of main events is where I start and end THAT discussion) from imminent watchability.  And meantime, TNA would have to do EVERYTHING almost exactly perfectly while SD! continued to flounder before the average fan actually stopped and thought, "Hey, there's just as much good on Friday afternoons as there is on Thursday nights."  Fair or not, it's again all part of TNA's uphill battle.
    So what have I just spent about 20KB saying?  That, yes, there are obstacles in the way for TNA.  That just because today is their national cable TV debut does NOT mean that it's time to start scheduling full-price Sunday night PPVs and re-arranging our schedules to be home at 3pm on Fridays.
    But I'm also trying to say that, yes, there's a new alternative, and we all oughta give it a look, and it's something that (obligatory or not) is certainly worth a little bit of extra emphasis here at OO this weekend.  If you ARE one of those tape-trading, ROH-suporting, TNA loyalists, you've gotta be really excited.  But even I am kind of stoked, and though I might be a bit tougher of a sell and a bit more critical with my eye, I know I'm gonna give Impact a really close look for the next month or two.  Call it a Trial Period.  And in that time, I'd love nothing more than to see the show wow me, week in and week out, with quality characters, quality stories, and quality matches the likes of which excite me the same way I get excited for good editions of RAW and SD!.
    I'm cheering for you, TNA.  No matter what it may have sounded like here, as I played the Pragmatic Realist, I'm gonna be watching and I'm gonna be hoping for the best.  I hope a bunch of you folks out there join me in at least giving Impact a little look-see, too...
  • Really quickly, since there's no reason to "protect" these as spoilers (except maybe to those of you on the west coast)...
    The Impact tapings last night in Orlando went off REALLY well, by all accounts.  Jimmy Hart was there orchestrating things (again, you may remember Jimmy's relationship with Hulk Hogan at your own risk), and was all over the Universal Studios theme park during the day handing out the free tickets and trying to make sure they'd have a packed house.
    And they got just that: about 1000 fans crammed onto the sound stage.  The two reports I got were kind of divergent... one said everything looked really cool and WAY better than anything TNA fans have seen on Wednesday nights, and also mentioned that the fans were red hot.  A more cynical report said the "space-age" set and lasers did kind of look like a 1980's concept of Futuristic, and also noted that TNA had plants/cheerleaders trying to guide the crowd (a tactic used by WCW at their own Universal tapings back in the 90s) and artificially generate enthusiasm.  
    And the show itself:
    Abyss beat Shark Boy (dark match or Xplosion)...  Pat Kenny and Sonny Siaki beat Swinger/Gilberti (again, probably not for Impact)...  Hector Garza, Sonjay Dutt, and Amazing Red beat Team Canada in a typical X-Style spotfest (again, might get cut depending on time issues)...  Heavy Metal beat Frankie Kanzarian (again)...  America's Most Wanted reunited for the first time in months to win the Tag Team Titles from Kid Kash and Dallas (said to be very good as long as Kash was in the ring).... Dusty Rhodes cut a promo about to establish TNA's "legitimacy" and to talk about the NWA Title, but was interrupted by Champ Jeff Jarrett; when Jarrett attacked Dusty, Ron Killings made the save...  the main event was a #1 Contender's Match for an X Title Shot: AJ Styles outlasted Chris Sabin, Michael Shane, and Elix Skipper to get the win in a good match.
    The matches were said to be a bit shorter than what you'd expect, but pretty action packed.  Since reports weren't clear on match lengths, I'm not sure how many of the opening four matches will make the final cut for Impact, but I'd guess AT LEAST one (probably the six-man) and maybe two (Kanzarian's match) would join the tag title and #1 contender's matches, as well as the Dusty/Jarrett/Killings promo.
    After the official tapings concluded, there was a bonus main event match for the live fans: there was a big-ass Gauntlet match (two guys start, one is eliminated, another enters, last man standing wins) featuring a ton of top names.  Ron Killings was, last eliminating Monte Brown.  Raven, Sabu, the former Road Dogg, and others were also involved.  The reason why these guys didn't appear on the broadcast is because TNA will not put any non-contracted talent on the FSN show, and they are still in the process of finalizing exclusivity details for Raven and the rest.  Once those deals are signed, TNA will bring the full slate of workers to the Friday shows.
    I'm sure I'll have more thoughts and details about Impact in Monday's update.  You know, after I've actually seen it!
  • Quickly discussing last night's SD!...
    Probably a step up in terms of being harmless fun, but still a far cry from making me EXCITED again.  The top level of stuff just continues to be an infuriating wasteland.  I mean, yeah, Eddie and the Bashams were kind of fun, and I enjoyed the return of Cheatin' Eddie.  But it was wheel-spinning.  And later on, when I began to APPRECIATE the wheel-spinning because it was more fun that Eddie's actual feud?  Well, I guess I've said my piece on Bradshaw already... suffice to say that yes, the Bullrope Match fits JBL's persona, but no, it does nothing to make me any more interested in his second PPV headlining spot.
    And a notch below, the idea of moving Booker away from Taker and into a US Title feud with Cena is a good one, theoretically...  but a US Title feud predicated on fart noises?  No thank you.  His riffing on Booker leading up to the pants-pooping allegations was sort of funny for a bit, but Cena (again in that "Desperate for Attention" sort of way he has suddenly adopted) overdid it and drove it into the ground in a very fifth-grade-esque fashion.  I can't imagine anyone much over the age of 12 continuing to laugh after the first 30 seconds or so of the promo.  On the upside: hey, at least it was an ACTUAL promo and not forced rhyming with such gems as "Rene Dupree doesn't stand a CHANCE/I'm gonna kick his ass back to FRANCE"... because that's more third-grade caliber material.
    And also bubbling under is this new Taker/Heyman twist in which the Dudleys and Heyman are holding Paul Bearer hostage and insisting that Taker "join them" in forming a new Super Stable.  Again, I like the idea of Heyman somehow getting into the head of Taker and all; and though it'll never happen, even the TEASE of Taker coming under the control of Heyman is good for some quality drama.  But come the frick on: the fans don't give a damn about Paul Bearer (as witnessed by the booing when Taker let Heyman free last night), and even in storylines, there's no real reason why Taker should care either (it just sort of seemed like he brought Bearer back as costume jewelry, they've had no substantive contact).  So even though I like the idea, it seemed WAY forced when Taker let his concern for Paul Bearer get the better of him.  It's not quite as emasculating as what RAW's done to Lita, but it's kind of in that same vein: again, the live fans BOOED Taker, which is not insignificant.
    But beyond my top level malaise, I am taking some pleasure in the small things.  I thought the bikini contest was pretty fun -- maybe only rated-G for mild titillation, but Jamie Noble was the right sap to have MC the thing and eventually get gang-humiliated by the suddenly-chummy divas....  Chavo Classic is freaking AWESOME, getting more and more into his ridiculously over-the-top role every week.  Chavo Regular's line about how he's "All the flavor, but half the fat" of Chavo Classic was gold, too.  And I MUST have Classic's entrance robe; that thing is so fricking swanky!...  they are doing a sweet job of making it OK to cheer Chavo Classic, which will make it a red hot feud when Chavo Jr. gets jealous and decides he wants his belt back...  also, Classic paying off the mature ladies to make him look like a studmuffin was funny as hell; please note how I am doing the Nice Thing and restraining myself from making the "Well, if Classic likes the MILFs, then where the hell was Sable?" joke (oops)...another minor detail: Taker took the sweet-ass bump of the week (getting booted off the top rope during an attempted Old School).  I know it ain't popular to groove on the Taker, round these internet parts, but when the guy still busts out Holy Shit caliber spots like that, I feel vindicated for being UNpopular on this issue...  Rey/Dupree was a fun little match (much like Eddie/Bashams), but was also ultimately meaningless...
    Perhaps the Ultimate Small Things For Which I Am Grateful: they bumped a Billy Gunn/Bob Holly tag match from the show!  See you on Velocity, Grumpy Old Men! 
    Frustration about the top level stories.  Plenty of guilty pleasures and fun on the undercard.  An interesting mix.  Considering the type of show RAW did this week, it's gonna be REALLY tough deciding what to do for Battle of the Brands (which, by the way, concludes it's Year One when it's published on Monday!).
    But I'll figure out my overall opinion and generate my ratings later.  For now, you can all just enjoy Big Danny T's SD! Recap if you need further details about last night.
  • The prelim rating for last night's SD! is a 3.1, which is at least a step in the right direction.  Small steps: and getting back up over the 3.0 barrier when the final ratings are in would be an important one.
    That number was also good enough for fourth place, overall, as ABC (normally fairly strong) tanked badly with hockey and the usually-weak WB limped home in last.
  • Following my vague Brock Lesnar update on Wednesday, many folks helped out by passing along an article that explicitly states which teams have already committed to attending Brock's try-out later this month.
    Others may still decide to come later, but as of this week, the official list is: Dallas, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and San Francisco.  You can get the entire report (and a bunch of other interesting Lesnar tidbits) by clicking here.  Thanks to all who helped out and sent the link after I admitted my less-than-encyclopedic knowledge of the NFL.
    As Philly was one of the teams I *did* know about on Wednesday, I wound up getting a kind of interesting e-mail from somebody with knowledge of the Eagle's interest in Brock: he said that it is true that Philadelphia has an interest in Lesnar, but it's not necessarily for football reasons.  Most football people put Brock as a "project" (a year or two away from contributing substantially, if at all), but the Eagles would love to have Brock as a bench player, on the cheap, and use him as a marketing tool.  Examples of what the Eagles have their bench players doing include: hospital visits, corporate meet-and-greets, opening up bars/restaurants that are "Eagles-friendly," and what-not.
    I don't know if it's the same thing with the other teams listed, but it seems like at least in Philly, an NFL contract for Brock would seem to be contingent upon him (a) signing for near the league minimum, (b) accepting a minimal role maybe only on special teams, and (c) spending more time doing promotions and public appearances than he does actually, you know, practicing with the real players.
    Kind of an interesting slant on where at least ONE organization apparently sees Lesnar contributing to the team...
  • Part 2 of Vince McMahon's appearance on "Off the Record" on TSN was a bit less "news-y" than Part 1...  no insights on estranged talents, really, but more general discussion of the industry.
    They talked a lot about injuries/wear-and-tear (specifically the case of Kurt Angle), a bit about how WCW was a good thing for driving competition, and did talk about more about where Brock Lesnar and Hulk Hogan are in terms of having an open door back to WWE.  But maybe the most interesting element of the entire interview was Vince McMahon's stance on steroids: at a time when public perception of his company is maybe not the highest its ever been and a time when steroid controversies are raging in other sports, Vince basically said "We don't test anybody. We could, we have the money, but we don't bother, because maybe some guys are using them judiciously to speed healing and stuff like that, and frankly, I think that's OK."  To me, it's not even an issue of whether judicious (if illicit) use of steroids is OK or not, it's just REALLY interesting that Vince would be comfortable enough taking that stance publicly.
    Anyway, I'll avoid a lengthy or detailed recap like I did of Part One, on the grounds that several readers wrote in to tell me that there's no point in me recapping when I can just tell you where to see the interview for your own damn self!
    So head to www.tsn.ca/wrestling/, and the links to view both Parts 1 and 2 will be there (I think both are worth checking out, albeit for different reasons).  You gotta give 'em an e-mail address, that's all.
  • With the announcement of SummerSlam in Toronto, fans are looking forward and kind of wondering, "Who in the hell will be in the main events?"...  in years past, it's usually been kind of clear what the Fed was building to for the biggest event of the summer, but this year: well, it's kind of cloudy.
    The only thing I'd bet on at this point is that both Benoit and Eddie make it to SummerSlam with their titles.  But as for their challengers?  Your guess is as good as mine.
    On RAW: I kind of thought that once HHH took off, Shawn Michaels (in a tweener role, but as an outright heel in Canada) would be an ideal candidate for a one-on-one feud against Benoit... but now, who knows if HHH is going to disappear to make his movie or not?  So a straight-up one-on-one between Benoit and HHH could be do-able, too.  And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that just about everybody and their brother has spent the last few days buzzing about how the tag title match finish on RAW might lead to a bona fide heel turn for Edge... it's something the Fed is at least considering, though I don't know if it'd be for SummerSlam, or just something to mark time until August.
    On SD!: obviously Plans 1 and 1a would have to be Kurt Angle and Big Show stepping up to face Eddie.  But there are serious health concerns and uncertainty over timing.  Show has had his surgeries, and SHOULD be back in time.  Angle, on the other hand, has kept pushing back his neck surgery and may even have postponed it indefinitely, and nobody knows for sure WHAT that means for him being able to work in the ring...  Plan 2, maybe the "safest" would be to have Booker T in as the top contender by August, depending on how this thing with Cena turns out... in a possibly related development, Paul Heyman is obviously building a stable of wrestlers, and just by virtue of Heyman's mouth, he could send somebody up against Eddie by August.  Right now, an alignment with Booker might actually be a good fit.  If not, can he salvage something with the Dudleys (Bubba Dudley, World Title Challenger? Hey, it's at least a BIT better than JBL!).  And for a Left Field option: Rob Van Dam, who could reasonable decide to join Extreme Motivator Heyman's group. 
    Choices, choices, choices...
  • Actually, maybe Rob Van Dam isn't QUITE as Left Field a choice as you might think....
    In a curious booking, Eddie Guerrero is headlining a show in Japan against RVD in July.  On back-to-back nights, Eddie will defend once against JBL, and the other against RVD.  A lot of times, WWE will try out wacky things on foreign tours to appease regional crowds; but they are also known to use house shows to test out things they want to bring to TV...  so does Eddie vs. RVD mean anything?  I think an RVD who slightly altered his moveset and let Heyman do all his talking could be an ideal foil for Eddie in a resumption of the Battle of the Frog Splashes.  Or maybe it's just something to give the Japanese market an exciting, high-octane main event to make up for the other night when they get JBL...
    [COMPLETE TANGENT: if you did a "RVD under the control of Heyman" storyline for the heel turn, I think an OBVIOUS place to start would be with RVD turning on/abandoning his new buddy/tag partner, Rey Mysterio.  And tell me an RVD/Rey feud wouldn't be pretty awesome to watch as a way to build up RVD to a #1 Contender spot!  But I'm off the Fantasy Booking for a bit, so...]
    Of note: on the same Japan shows, Big Show *is* currently scheduled.  Although I'd view him as a compelling choice for headlining SummerSlam against Eddie, he does NOT get the house show spot.  RVD does.  Hmmm.  Show, instead, gets a semi-main event against Taker on one show, and then a David/Goliath match against Rey Mysterio on the other.
  • Thanks to those who sent a long a DarkHorizons.com report that Clint Eastwood has passed on a final "Dirty Harry" movie, and the studios are now retooling and thinking about re-casting the titular role with a younger actor and trying to re-start the franchise.
    You folks, being the smartest audience in the entire world of interest wrestling websites, should not need me to even tell you that the punchline to this seeming non sequitur is that The Rock is currently a leading candidate to fill Clint's shoes (at least, according to this particular movie rumor site).
    I don't know what to think about that.  On one hand, Eastwood and the Rock seem like they couldn't be more polarly opposite... but on the other, the Rock does have a certain way with the catchphrases, doesn't he?  "Feeling lucky, punk?" just might work...
  • I was gonna do a bit of Mail Bag stuff to close out today, but I wound up doing way more on TNA than I'd thought...
    Suffice to say that very few of you were entertained by my mocking of the Detroit Piston's lack of spelling ability (though one Piston fan did grant I was right to mock "pitons.com" and agreed to forfeiting one game as a result... but only if I agreed, as a Pacer fan, that we'd also forfeit a game after Indiana's equipment manager getting arrested for indecent exposure before Game Six)...  
    Suffice to say that MANY of you think I'm being too hard on RAW [Uh, too what RAW, Beavis?], and that I'm just pissed off because they did a show that wasn't the same as my own Fantasy Booking....
    Suffice to say that a few took me to task for mocking Randy Orton's Turnbuckle Struggles and taking other potshots at him in the Recap, and think it's about time I relax and admit Randy's getting really, really good...
    Suffice to say the biggest lot of you don't think there was any problem with the amount of Eugene we got on RAW, and took me to task for suggesting that the Fed do LESS with a character that is so obviously red hot....
    And I'd love to take the time to respond to those issues (the "too hard on RAW/pissed about fantasy booking" one ESPECIALLY would be fun and easy to rebuke) and try to defend myself, except that....
    Suffice to say I'm out of steam and have things I'd rather do than sit here making today's OO even longer than it already is.
    So I'll see you all on Monday.  Enjoy the weekend, folks.


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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