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Classic Ousted, RAW Fall-Out, Michaels,
and Other Midweek News...
June 16, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Thanks to all who answered the Call To Action, yesterday... I'll have no trouble hooking up a full-length copy of Monday's Dayton RAW.  I knew I could count on you folks.

And what's this? A second consecutive column prefaced with a perfunctory "thanks" and little else?!?  Is The Rick feeling well? 
Actually, unless you want more rock 'n' roll ranting (the Beastie Boys on Letterman, and then a late night phone call just as I was heading to bed to remind me to stay up to see Franz Ferdinand on Conan; last night was a good night for Musical Guests if ever there was one!), more pointless rambling about how I'm not entirely proud to be a wrestling fan sometimes (see my Live At RAW report, which upon a second reading came off even a bit more elitist and pissy than I feel comfortable with; it can't be becoming of me to obviously be a giant Wrestling Dork and then spend paragraphs trying to make myself sound way better or cooler than all the Wrestling Dorks), or something equally pointless about the implosion of the Cincinnati Reds (so very painful), then you oughta just let me be, cuz I really don't have the A-Game of Gab back yet after a socially-sapping long weekend of birthdays, weddings, PPVs, and live wrestling shows.  I need time to replenish both the anecdotes and the desire to share them...

So let's try to make this as All Business as I can:

  • The big news of the day has got to be WWE's decision to release Chavo Guerrero Sr. from his contract.
    Now, Chavo is the reigning Cruiserweight Champion.  I'll say nothing to spoil exactly what WWE does about that situation, other than to mention that the issue is addressed on Thursday's SmackDown!.  If you want, the Spoilers will tell you the rest.
    As far as the whys of Chavo's dismissal, just about the only thing people are agreeing on is that Chavo no-showed the weekend house shows without permission.
    Beyond that, there are HUGE differences in the story, depending on who tells it.  Differences in terms of what Chavo's motivation was, whether he was considered "missing" or if maybe Chavo Jr. was just covering for him, and even, at the core, differences in opinion over whether he deserved to be fired.
    My personal feeling is that Classic no-showed a few events, and that alone makes WWE well within their rights to have fired the guy...
    But that doesn't mean that I'm not sympathetic to Classic's decision, either.  I got an unconfirmed report that Classic was basically going into "civil disobedience" mode even before the no-shows...  that Classic was lending a hand in offering suggestions for how his TV storylines should play out.  You might recall a few weeks ago that a vignette in "Spoiler Form" involved Classic paying off some MILFs and getting caught and embarrassed by Chavo Jr.  In TV form, they either re-taped or edited the vignette so Classic wasn't caught; apparently, a suggestion from Classic that was taken under advisement by the creative team.
    I don't know how much stock to put in this, but apparently, they decided they wanted to keep pushing the humor/humiliation envelop with Classic... and it wouldn't surprise me if this was the reason he decided to no show the house shows this weekend.  And that kind of opens up a can of worms.
    One of the things the internet wrestling fans are famous for is bitching and moaning about anybody who exercise political power backstage to get storylines changed.  But you know what?  What's so wrong with at least being cognizant of your own best interests, ESPECIALLY when they coincide with the best interests of the company (or, in this case, at least the best interests of the Cruiserweight Division)?  Nothing.
    Is this me giving carte blanche to HHH and Stephanie McMahon to introduce some garbage like the Katie Vick Memorial Telethon to Raise Money for Lucy the Puppydog's Broken Leg?  No.  But it is me saying that there is not a damn thing wrong with Chavo Classic stepping up and saying that "Hey, I'm holding this title, and I know that this is supposed to be played for laughs, but it's NOT gonna do anybody any good in the long run to week in and week out humiliate the Cruiserweight Champion."  You might say that Classic was only looking out for himself and his personal pride, but I think it's clear he was OK being the butt of jokes, as long as they were (a) funny, and (b) inching us towards a productive pay-off of his "joke" of a title run.  Some jackass' idea of comedy involving completely insipid throw-away bits based on Classic's new-found appeal among not-quite-attractive older women?  Hey, look, you didn't have to suffer through Mike Awesome the Fat Chick Thriller to realize that there was NO REASON TO GO THAT WAY.
    So if it's true that Classic was growing less-pleased with the way WWE wanted to treat him, I say kudos for at least trying to stand up for himself.  There IS a responsible way to insist upon input on your character while still respecting the best interests of the company.  Refusing to do crap that will not only be personally humiliating, but which will also suck donkey balls and piss off the audience is a GOOD thing.  One has to wonder if maybe the world wouldn't be a better place if -- oh, this is just a COMPLETELY RANDOM name off the top of my head, with no hidden significance -- Lita stood up and took an interest in avoiding embarrassingly bad storylines.  You know, somebody who might not be as disposable as a 60-year-old sideshow act, somebody who might get changes made, instead of getting fired. 
    That said, Chavo still no-showed a few events without permission, and maybe THAT was not the best way to do business, either.  How much of his no-shows were civil disobedience, and how much was just being difficult or irresponsible, I can't say, but it was still unwise, and gave WWE a too-easy way out of the situation.  Still, when informed of the obviously-easy decision on Tuesday, Classic apparently took it in stride, and did business like a pro.  According to one, it was almost as if Chavo found firing preferable to "the alternative" (which I inferred to be sticking around and being asked to do shitty comedy bits that undermined, instead of built to, a meaningful CW Title match between father and son).
    And that's what hurts the most: on a show that needs every ounce of entertainment it can get its hands on, Chavo Classic was a valuable performer.  Good for 5-10 minutes of humor and some surprisingly still-decent ring-work, and best of all, a burgeoning storyline with his son that would almost certainly have been more entertaining than anything his brother Eddie has enjoyed since the main event push of Bradshaw, Chavo Classic has been one of the few reasons to enjoy SD! lately.  Oh, and also: I STILL want that robe of his.
    Thanks for five solid months, Classic.  And if any of these rumors about your reasons for misbehaving are true, well, know that at least some of us understand...  hell, some of us might even applaud and salute your for being willing to get fired instead of be a part of utter crap.  And if it ain't true, well, WWE, the guy no-showed on you, and I understand that, too.  It's just kind of an unfortunate situation all-around, it sounds like...
  • Again, the full details of how WWE handled Classic's departure and all the rest of Tomorrow's SmackDown! Today can be yours in the Spoilers.  Check 'em, if you are so inclined.  And even if you're not, I'm starting to put Highly Unfair Snide Remarks in there, lately...
    Making fun of a show I haven't even seen... I am finally becoming a True Internet Jack-off!
  • Turns out my enjoyment of Monday's RAW was more based on being there live than I knew... not just the excitement of being in the audience, not just the rare Monday-night whiskey binging...  but also the simple fact that the show I saw was at least A LITTLE different from the one you saw.
    When I finally got back home on Monday, and needed to check up on whether the show went into overtime/exactly where the broadcast ended, I wound up bothering Erin, whose only crime was Still Being Awake at 2am... after helping me determine exactly how much of the show my DVR didn't get, one of her first comments about the show was something about a stupid Joe Schmo infomercial ruining things.  Clueless me, I said something back like "Eh, who cares about that little Joe Schmo thing?" and turned the bitching immediately to the matter of Pregnant Lita, which I felt was the only really bad part of the show.
    Little did I realize that while I was being scratched directly where I itched with the Victorious Return of Tajiri, the chumps viewing at home were getting a 6 minute Joe Schmo preview.  Suddenly, Erin's comment makes more sense, and I can understand if all y'all have another very good reason to have been pissed off by Monday's RAW.  I honestly had no idea: we did get the little 90 second interview at ringside, but then they immediately threw it to Tajiri's match for us.
    You got a six minute crap-a-thon, I got a six-minute match with one of my favorite wrestlers.  I hope you can understand how that would seriously add to the divergence in our opinions of the show!
    That said, I did watch my recording of the show last night (well, the first 2 hours and 10 minutes of the show, anyway), and I STILL think it's the best RAW we've seen in 4 or 5 weeks, and I don't even really think it's that close.  Granted, I had the benefit of FF'ing past Joe Schmo, but even without the benefit of Tajiri, I still thought this was the first time RAW brought the real SIZZLE of importance since the show where they had the Five Pack of pre-hyped matches.
    The opening angle with Michaels and Kane, and then the closing match being such an effective Benoit Showcase... those two things alone SHOULD have been good enough for the home viewer, I think.  The Pillmanizing of HBK's neck is a really significant angle, setting up a littel vacation time for Shawn and ALSO giving me a ton of hope that at some point (be it 2 months from now or whatever) Kane will get past this current bullshit he's in and have a kick-ass feud with Shawn.  But more on that later...
    Point is a major angle like that and then a sweet main event instantly put this Monday's show back on the track of RAWs That Matter.  And then, they snuck in the Highlight Reel, which did a great job of setting the tone that RAW Will Also Matter Again Next Week, and THAT, my friends, is probably the element I've most missed on Mondays this past month.  That sense of "this is fun, but I already can't wait till next time."  Triple H vs. Eugene for the #1 Contender spot is too perfect: I knew, at some point, Eugene vs. His Favorite Wrestler would happen, I just didn't know it'd be this soon...  and it's in a beautifully-arranged spot.  The World Title means everything to HHH, HHH means everything to Eugene...  there are so many outs here, so many possible next steps, so many alternatives, all of them interesting.
    I mean, seriously: I'm at this week's show live, and already, during that long-ass 15 minute break before the main event, we're chattering incessantly about stuff like "Will the Rock help Eugene?" (that'd be cool!), or "Will Eugene go heel?" with the accompanying "Could Eugene even be a heel with the fans, no matter how loyal he was to HHH?" discussion, or any number of other (more pedestrian) thoughts.  We still had a kick-ass main event to watch, and we were also already nattering on about sitting on our asses for next Monday's show.  I LIKE that.
    Beyond those three things, which translated just fine to TV and which dominated the show's run-time, you had a few other segments, too...  you say Tomko looks borderline incompetent and nearly killed Matt; I say "I like Trish, so who cares?"...  you say Stacy Keibler had not business trying to carry the load of a six-minute WRESTLING match not predicated on partial nudity; I say "I like Molly and Gail, and it was cool to see them kicking ass again"...  you say the Flag Match was kind of dull and boring; I say "Yeah, well, I was taking a piss, so I didn't care"...  
    In short: I say the three segments that MATTERED (and which took up about 75% of the TV time) all kicked ass, be it live or on TV.  The four segments that didn't?  Well, OK, they were better live, and I had personal reasons for finding something good in all of them, be they Tajiri-related reasons, diva-related reasons, or bladder-tension-relieving reasons.  But even without those added reasons, I still don't see how you could have looked at this RAW and been THAT pissed off.
    Though a lot of you were, and let me here about it.  Hey, beauty's in the eye of the beholder, and so on and so forth.  And maybe I'm not as fair and balanced a drunk as I like to think I am... or maybe, just MAYBE you let Joe Schmo and Pregnant Lita (mere afterthoughts on a 2.5 hour show, really!) so annoy you that you couldn't see the other good stuff?  C'mon folks, cop to it...  if I hadn't just mentioned Pregnant Lita, you had almost forgotten that ever happened and were starting to come around to my side, weren't you?!?  
    Yeah, that's what I thought.  And if you think I'm gonna say more about Pregnant Lita, sorry.  I'm deeply annoyed, but I said enough in my sometimes-pretentious, always-informative, and EXTREMELY comprehensive Live RAW Recap, which I encourage you to check out (not only for my analysis of RAW, but for all the other stuff you didn't get to see, including Tajiri's match).
  • Monday's RAW scored a 3.6 rating, which is a slight increase from the week before, and back pretty much near the year-to-date average.  The extra long over-run actually lost some viewers after the final commercial break, so WWE oughta be real careful about accepting an extra quarter hour at 11:15pm from SpikeTV in exchange for pimping their shitty new TV shows.
    Or maybe they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them, I don't know... I just know that alienating viewers at 9:45pm in exchange for a chance to hold onto them at 11:15pm doesn't sound like that good a deal to me.  Some people, like, go to bed early and stuff...
    And some, like me, I'm sure get screwed when their recordings don't include the unannounced over-run, too.
  • Back to Shawn Michaels...  there is a reason why he was "written out" like that on Monday night.  Well, two reasons, kind of.
    One is his wife is having their second baby soon, and Shawn wants some time to be there for that.  With Shawn's recent return to house shows and all, they can't just do a deal where he works Monday's and spends the rest of the time at home, they needed to give fans where Michaels has already been hyped as appearing (including an MSG house show) a reason why he'd not be appearing.
    The other is that Shawn is in the process of negotiating a contract extension.  Actually, this is SOUNDING like a mere formality, and unlike taking Steve Austin off TV during negotiations a few months ago, everybody expects a happy ending here.  Shawn's current contract is up in either July or August, and I've heard that there is even a new contract ALREADY agreed to in principle, and it's just a few dotted I's and crossed T's away from being official.  I'm not sure if this is 100% accurate or not, but one source says that it's only a 1-year extension, at Shawn's request.  I say "not 100%" because if anything, that sounds like somebody got it ass-backwards when telling me (or just pulled the 1-year thing out of their ass), cuz wouldn't you think it'd be THE COMPANY (not Shawn) that would want a shorter-term deal on a guy with a surgically repaired back and a dubious track record of backstage behavior?  Shawn would probably take as many years of guaranteed money as they'd give him, no?
    That all being said, the expectation is for Shawn to get all his ducks in a row and return in time for SummerSlam, easing back into things with Mondays only schedule for a bit (selling the injury, still) to set up a PPV match against Kane.  Then back to a more full-time schedule in the fall.
    I gotta say, if it comes together, a Michaels/Kane feud could be just what the doctor ordered.  It's a completely fresh match-up, for one.  It would be predicated on something tangible (Kane's attack/Michaels' injury) that wrestling fans actually care about (i.e. NOT impregnating Lita).  And most of all, I think the resulting series of matches could be really awesome, and could build up in intensity just like Michaels/HHH did.  You start simple, you add gimmicks, and maybe six months (or even longer) later, you blow the roof off the joint in a raging climax.
    Don't think it can happen?  Look, folks, maybe you don't remember, or maybe you weren't fans, but Shawn Michaels had excellent **** matches with Kevin Nash.  Not just the one gimmicky brawl, but actual wrestling matches.  He's AWESOME as a babyface against a Big Monster.  He even had good matches against Sid Vicious, a near impossibility.  Let's just say that Kane is a lot of things: and WAY more talented in the ring than Kevin Nash is one of them.  The wild card will be continuing to tell the story in such a way that Kane excels as a character/personality (which is where Nash's expertise always existed).  I think it'd all work out pretty nicely, though... 
    So there: Michaels is out, but he'll be back within two months.  And it should be for the Greater Good.  A feud with Kane could be really excellent, and who knows?  If they handle it like they did HBK/HHH, it might make it all the way to WM21....
  • Little follow-up on Brock Lesnar... my man with his ear in the Philadelphia Eagles' camp tells me that although Lesnar only official worked out for the Minnesota Vikings last week, the scouts all talk...  and what the Eagle's have heard has apparently got them cooling down a bit.  
    Lesnar's physical tools are not doubted: but more than ever, the Football People don't think there's a way for Lesnar to put those tools together meaningfully before 2006, and thus, they aren't sure he's worth the investment.  So with the Football People in Philly less and less interested, I guess Lesnar's value as a PR device is becoming moot.  This is complicated by the fact that Lesnar is resistant to playing any "developmental" ball (in Canada or in the NFL-sanctioned European league), and won't sign with an NFL team's practice squad (extra bodies for practice who are called up to the main team in cases of injuries).
    The next possible landing spot for Brock: the New York Jets, who are reportedly still willing to talk to Lesnar even after his workout last weekend.  In fact, the same guy who's been feeding me Eagles info says the Jets' ploy to get Lesnar as a PR tool while still convincing him he would be a contributing member of the team would be this: agree to let Brock play extensively in pre-season games.  The Jets realize a huge benefit, as they can sell tickets based on Brock's playing time, but they also get a chance to actually observe Lesnar putting his tools to use in game situations and make a decision on how he'd really fit in as a football player before either giving in to Lesnar's desire to be a fulltime roster member of an NFL team or just cutting him loose.
    I know there's a lot of talk swirling around Brock, and people are sending me notes about ESPN preparing features on him and all...  but at least from one side, the story seems to be "Don't Count Brock Lesnar Out of WrestleMania 21 Just Yet."  We'll see...
  • Ummm, speaking of New York City... Bradshaw's gonna be on the Howard Stern radio show there this Friday morning.  Stern had previously mentioned Bradshaw's antic in Germany and firing from CNBC (although the e-mails I got made it sound like Stern got the facts comically wrong), and so I'd guess this is some kind of love connection fixed up by WWE and Stern's producers to have them butt heads and trade 7th-grade caliber insults.
    Which is not without its charms, but still... well, if you've got Stern in your market, and you happen to hear it, as always, I remain curious to hear what happens and what you think about it.
    Also: Bradshaw has just written another WWE.com column, basically re-inforcing his comments from last month about wrestling websites.  As you'd expect, it's full of hyperbole, half-truths, and mostly, hot air.  Bradshaw claims he would LOVE a "challenge," but that internet types are so gullible, clueless, and stupid that it's just too easy....  hey, JBL, you want a challenge, go find my columns from a week and 10 days ago where I was simultaneously defending your right to make whatever gestures and salutes you want in the name of cheap heat AND continuing to dismiss your value as a main event wrestler!  And figure out some way this makes me unequivocally fat and gay.  I'd love to hear that theorem!
    Well, not really.  I wouldn't want the poor guy's head to explode.  "But Rick hates me.  But then he defends me.  But still hates me.  Does not fit pattern of fat gayness.  Appears to exhibit rational thought.  Cannot be disputed.  Cannot be rebutted.  Does not compute.  Does not compute.  BUY PORK FUTURES~!  *POOF*"  And gone in a fiery ball of logic would be JBL...
  • And gone in a fiery ball of Oh My God It's Almost 6pm would be me.  I probably got a few things I'm skipping here today, but I'm running tragically late.  So this is it.  See you Friday.


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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