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GAB Fall-out, Trying to Look Forward
to RAW, Big Impact, More News
June 28, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


Sometimes it's all of 3 minutes, sometimes it's more like 20, but I always have that nethertime between when I lie down to go to sleep and when I actually get there.  I don't know how you spend the same time, but I usually end up having unbeckoned thoughts take advantage of the lowered defenses in an attempt to fill my normally exceptionally-level-headed self with dread or panic.  I mention it only because last night's Half-Consciousness Realization of Looming Dread of was "Oh my god, maybe Lund was right."

Back a couple months ago, he posited that Wrestling Burnout was a very likely outcome from continued shitty Wrestling Television, and I tried to be all clever by playing wordgames that basically amounted to "Don't worry, there's downtime built into the product cycle but wrestling will never be so overall shitty that *I* could get burnt out on it."

So of course, where are we today?  Coming off a confidence-sapping and completely ill-conceived SD! PPV, and staring a possibly-equally dubious RAW square in the face.  And I'm supposed to be the eternal optimist, the sobering yin to Jeb's raging yang? Oy.

But what the hell?  I'm The Rick. I'm a different breed: I like the attention a little too much to walk away, and would miss it if I couldn't fill the gaping holes in my soul with the knowledge that tens of thousands of people show up to hear what I have to say.  I'm such a diva.

So the show goes on.  Maybe not quite as enthusiastically optimistically as it could or should... but it goes on in the name of me being such an egomaniacal asshole that I honestly believe that You, the Home Viewer, crave this time together; Enjoy...

  • We start with a quick look back at last night's Great American Bash PPV...
    Not surprisingly, most feedback has run towards the "I totally agree and that show was crap" vibe.  So for once, I guess I'm throwing in with the Internet Groupthink.  Usually, I tend to be more level-headed and rational than that, so hopefully you'll realize just how big it is when I also sit back and say, "This time, the internet is right: this truly did suck."
    There are three main areas I could attack here.  First is the simple fact that WWE actually thought that Torrie/Sable, Suzuki/Gunn, Mordecai/Holly, or Luther/Haas had any business on a PPV.  Or if they WERE going to have business on PPV, that they invested a grand total of one Thursday building up the "feuds" in three cases, and a grand total of one 2 minute segment IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE MATCH building up the fourth.  It's just...  I don't know, I just almost can't believe it happened this way.  
    Look, those in the business always try to act like their job is rocket science and outsiders don't understand what's going on and so on.  I think most of that is a classic case of just them trying to insulate themselves from criticism by inventing bullshit ways to discount opinions such as ours.  But I guess there's a basic core of truth to the idea that you couldn't throw some Internet Jack-off into the fire and trust that he'd turn out quality contributions to the creative team: that it's a more complex job than what most of us realize to synthesize that which we recognize as "good" with that which "actually sells."
    At least, I thought that until this month, when you could take the most borderline-literate reader of The Torch and he could have helped make the GAB a more marketable top-to-bottom card.  You no longer need The Rick's unique level of insight and expertise to improve things: ANYbody could have done it. As it stood last night, I was actually contemplating whether any accredited doctor would perform an elective bladder-reduction surgery on me so that I could give those four matches the attention they deserved: namely, a minimum of three piss breaks for each.  Dammit, what a debacle.
    Second: the mind-bendingly cheesy ending to the show.  Visually, Paul Heyman had promised something amazing, and all we got was something that looked really stupid and contrived. That was driven home by a final shot of Paul Bearer's "death" that was from a completely different camera angle, did not resemble what we'd been shown previously in the match, and which did not convincingly pay off the angle.  And worse, that final shot was been something they pre-taped and not something they actually did live in the arena.  And it showed: horrible editing, and just an all around fitting end to a horrible decision.
    Maybe the "pay-off" of having Taker kill his own "conscience" will propel him to monster heel status.  Which I might get kind of excited about.  Except that the purpose of finally having a compelling monster heel on SD! *should* have been to give Eddie Guerrero the legitimate challenger he hasn't yet had.  And that theory of mine goes out the window because of....
    My third bone of contention: Bradshaw is the new WWE Champ. And in cheap fashion.  Lazy, uncreative fashion, too, as many readers mailed in to say that WCW used the same finish once or twice for chain/bullrope matches back in the early 90s (Sting vs. Somebody, most said, and as I prepare this on the fly, I'm too lazy to go back and check).  Making it worse is that although fans are sitting at home thinking "cheap bullshit," they had Cole and Tazz registering NO indignation, but instead putting the reverse decision over as the Correct Call and saying Bradshaw is the deserving New Champion.  Wrong on so many levels.
    And I hinted at this yesterday in the Recap, and the only defenses of Bradshaw winning the title were all along these lines: WWE might be so stubborn in making internet-types EAT IT on the issue of JBL that they did this change in the hopes that no more fans will mutiny and that maybe, just maybe, the remaining ones will get excited about paying to see JBL lose, once and for all.  Except I still don't buy it.
    Nobody wanted to pay to see JBL get his comeuppance as a CHALLENGER, what makes anyone think that him losing the title as the CHAMP will reverse SmackDown!'s rapidly declining ratings?  Keeping the belt on Eddie (there's enough mid-card heel fodder to keep him busy, and by SummerSlam, I think you could do Taker/Eddie for the title and THAT is something that might finally spur some interest from this corner) would have sent the signal that "OK, we're done with our stupid little JBL experiment, now it's time for something new."
    Instead, JBL wins, and whether it's only a few weeks or two more months till SummerSlam, this means more inordinate levels of TV time for a guy I just don't care about.  You can see how that'd be a kick in the sac for a guy like me who, on Friday, announced that if nothing else, we could look forward to "sweet, sweet closure" on the JBL Experiment.  In my face.
    Only halfway-exciting idea I've been able to generate: that somehow, Angle's reversal earns him the ire of WWE Management (although I'm not quite sure why, since by the stated rules, his call WAS the right one by the book, although not necessarily in spirit), and he's ridden out of the GM job.  Eddie/JBL have an immediate rematch on Thursday, Eddie wins, and let us never speak of JBL except in Velocity Spoilers ever again.  Angle, alleviated of GM responsibilities, can start gearing up to return to the ring against John Cena, also hopefully by SummerSlam.  Although, in the interim, why do I have this fear that Cena vs. Luther Reigns is headed our way?
    Suffice to say that the GAB PPV was a disappointment on many levels, and even as I look forward, I'm not so sure I see much reason for future optimism.  Hopefully we'll divest ourselves of JBL, we'll get Kurt and Big Show back, and maybe we can keep hoping for Brock Lesnar to be an NFL bust (speaking of which, the latest round of hype over Brock includes the front page of ESPN.com today; check out the article right here)...  but till then, my SD! enthusiasm remains about as low as it's ever been.  I honestly think that TNA can now lay claim to North America's second-most-prestigious World Title...
    You can get all the details (it wasn't ALL bad, just mostly!) from last night's WWE Great American Bash in the OO PPV Recap.
  • A couple other news-y things from last night's PPV before I forget...
    Vince McMahon was not present for the show, marking the first PPV he's missed in just about a decade (when the federal trial and all was sucking up his time).  He'd been knocked out of commission with a severe intestinal infection earlier in the week, and was in no condition to travel.  I don't think you can credit the problems with the Bash to Vince's absence, though.  Much of the show had already been well-laid-out and he was in contact with Shane, Steph, HHH, and Jim Ross throughout the day on Sunday.
    So the Bash sucked with Vince's full understanding and stamp of approval, don't you worry about that.
    And also: I guess at least SOME fans knew what the ending of the show was gonna be before the Bash even started.  In a minor faux pas, some fan picked up a rehearsal run of Taker deciding to kill Paul Bearer off the satellite, and the Real Media file had been making the rounds yesterday evening in the hour or so before the PPV.  Kind of funny, I guess, but I didn't find out about it till well after the show, and assume most of you would be about the same....  I mean, if you were gonna watch the show, you're probably getting boozed up and watching Heat at 7pm, not trolling the internet looking for the latest spoilers, right?
  • Also: a few people who want to make sure I have as much ammunition as possible for taking issue with the Bash passed along word that WWE's parental advisory PR wing has some guidelines published on the web to help assuage parents about their kids watching wrestling.
    The direct quote most felt I'd like to know about: "Actions you will not see WWE characters portray are murder, rape or robbery."
    Fascinating, eh?   
    I actually don't really care what actions WWE has their characters doing as long as those actions are part of GOOD STORYLINES.  It's the same part of me that didn't think it was a big deal for Bradshaw to pretend to be a Nazi, and the same part of me that would probably go on a killing spree of my own if all movies and TV became sanitized ABC Friday Night "TGIF" caliber tripe.  A little edge is fine with me; it's fake, it's entertainment, it's an escape, so what's the big deal there?
    Obviously, WWE going in violation of its own stated policy does make this a bit touchier of an issue.  But still: my complaints are more pragmatic.  I'm not offended so much that Taker's cementing of Paul Bearer or Kane's impregnation of Lita seem to approximate murder and rape, respectively.  I'm offended that the angles have sucked out loud in execution.  On the other hand, at least Eddie Guerrero's penchant for stealing is usually handled pretty well...

  • Last Bash-related thing...  in the PPV Predictions Battle, it looks like Online Onslaught has scored the win over WrestleLine!  According to Denny's own numbers, anyway!
    WL's Boss crunched the numbers and reports to me that OO's 8-person team picked 32 out of 48 matches correctly for a nice, evil 66.6% hit rate.  WL's 6-man crew did 23 out of 32 for a 63.8% hit rate.
    So give me the trophy and the prize money to dole out to my team!  And don't anybody tell Denny that I did the numbers myself last night before bed, and came up with a slightly different story....
    I had OO's team at a final score of 27 out of 48, for a mere 56.3%.  I think that's the right figure because we had Big Danny T dominate with a big 5 out of 6 night (including calling Bradshaw's title win) to get the OO GAB Crown.  Tied for second were Erin Anderson, Canadian Bulldog, and Adam Gutschmidt (all 4 out of 6).  Tied for fifth were The Rick and Matt Hocking (3 out of 6).  And keeping me nicely insulated from the basement this month: Jeb Lund and the Cubs Fan (both 2 out of 6).  And last time I checked five plus four plus four plus four plus three plus three plus two plus two equaled 27, not 32.  So yeah, OO sucks at picking, maybe, but I KICK ASS AT MATH, BABY!
    That's good for something, isn't it?
  • Last week's SD! scored a 3.1 final broadcast rating, which is pretty much on par with where the show's been the last 3 months.  Not good, not bad, just more of the same.  
  • As for where Jeff Hardy might land in the long run...  I guess we might have jumped the gun back a few months ago, and all Jim Ross did was re-open communications with Jeff.  Nothing was set in stone coming out of those meetings, and obviously, shortly thereafter, Ross changed positions with the company, so if he'd been Jeff's main champion, he's no longer in position to quite so strongly advocate for him.
    That said, Jeff didn't appear on screen on Impact, which means he's probably not under contract to TNA just yet, either.  In fact, they made it clear that Jeff was a one-night-only deal, and that they could only HOPE that Vince Russo could sign "wrestling's hottest free agent."  So who knows.
    Pick whatever euphemism you want: WWE only wants Jeff back if he's "recharged his batteries" or "battled his demons" or whatever.  And Jeff just wants to be Jeff, so you do the math...
  • And since we're speaking tangentially of TNA, let's take a look at their latest offering...
    I thought they finally hit a stride with Impact this past Friday. While no single match stood out -- as they continue to try to cram as much into 60 minutes as they can, no match is allowed to go over 5-6 minutes -- I finally got an impression that they were mixing the fast-paced in-ring action with enough storytelling that it might get viewers excited to check out the Wednesday night PPVs.  And that's kind of the goal, right?
    Here's what happened on Impact:
    Elix Skipper/Chris Sabin/Amazing Red beat Frankie Kanzarian/Miyamoto/Nosawa in a decent spotfest. Maybe 5 minutes, and although there wasn't much story here, that gave them time to discuss/build up the NWA Title situation (Vince Russo is currently trying to decide whether Jeff Jarrett or Ron Killings is the champ after Killings used a guitar introduced by Jarrett during their match two nights before).  The in-ring action was ample, the discussion of the NWA Title made it seem like there was something to stay tuned for...  about all you can hope to accomplish with an opening segment.
    They had video packages plugging the next PPV line-up, and also the impending return of Jonny Fairplay.
    Monty Brown basically squashed "Irish" Pat Kenney (the former Simon Diamond). The easy 3 minute win for Brown was good for him, the chance for announcers to explain Kenney's current storyline (he and Sonny Siaki beat Johnny Swinger and Glen Gilberti to force them to wear silly costumes, which we conveniently enough get a camera shot of) was good for Kenney and that still-on-going tag feud there.  I dunno: I still look at Monty and see "Ahmed Johnson 2004" and little more.
    Team Canada beat America's Most Wanted.  No title on the line here, as Team Canada is now trying to break out of the X Division and into the tag ranks, and this is their first attempt. Long-ish match, and as seems to be the case with AMW, it's the closest you get to a "WWE Style" match on the show: sound psychology, but when they hit the highspots, they really hit them big.  In this case, the match built up to a quadruple-decker superplex, which was kinda sweet.  AMW was getting ready to win just before the 10 minute time limit expired, but that's when the Naturals (AMW's PPV opponent next week) ran in and KO'ed Chris Harris behind the ref's back to allow Team Canada to get the cheap win.  Good match, and again, the run-in advances the storyline to next Wednesday, something TNA's been not doing a whole lot of with Impact.
    Vince Russo postponed making his NWA Title decision until Wednesday's PPV.  Jeff Jarrett had hit the ring, confident he'd get the title, but Larry Zbyszko came out and told him to shut up and listen, because Larry had an announcement: the issue is more complex than Russo originally thought, so he'll not make his decision till next Wednesday.  Predictably, Jarrett doesn't like this, so he wound up Kabonging Larry with a guitar.  Ron Killings and 3 Live Kru make the save, Jarrett's Elite Guard make the re-save, and the big brawl reminds us This Issue Is Far From Settled.  Cheap or not, teasing an NWA Title decision and then putting it off to the PPV is another case of using Impact to build to the Wednesday shows, so it seems sensible enough to me....
    Video Package/Hype Central: first they replayed footage of Jarrett attackign Hulk Hogan back last fall, once again reminding us that TNA's biggest historical moments all involved people who aren't actually full time members of the company.  Which I'm not so sure is a great idea.  Then they reinforce that idea by announcing that Dennis Rodman will be at next week's PPV, and going back to show us highlights of Jeff Hardy's one-night-only TNA appearance.  I'll say this much about the Hardy music video: I'll lay off making fun of WWE's shitty choice of music for a a while...  
    In the main event, AJ Styles and D'Lo Brown beat Abyss and Dallas.  I really like exactly half the guys in the match, but sadly they are on the same team.  This never really takes off, ringwork-wise, but it's also kind of short-ish (6 minutes, tops), and never overstays its welcome.  Also, it's ANOTHER case of mostly just pushing to the next PPV, as Styles has a match with Dallas' cousin Kid Kash, D'Lo has a match against Monty Brown, and Abyss has a big blow-off match against Erik Watts... so they try to cycle through everyone and make sure they all get a chance to look good, and then they do the wise finish in which Styles beats Dallas with a clean pinfall... then all hell breaks loose.  Kash and Monty both come in, and it's a four-on-two heel beatdown to end the show.  Kash and Dallas decimate Styles and get most of the attention, but they spare some time for Abyss and Monty taking care of D'Lo, too.  An effective way to end the show on a "Please pay for the PPV" note.
    I don't think I'd be off-base at all to say this was the best "Impact" to date, and the first time they really got me thinking about rallying the troops for a Wednesday night check-up.  Or maybe I just need something to fill the void, what with the SD! sucking and all.
  • And I guess we close today by quickly looking at tonight's RAW...  by default, it's the show this week that I'm most excited for.  But to say that some of my lingering SD! dread hasn't seeped in with that excitement would be a complete misrepresentation.
    SD! has already put the Big Gold on the wrong guy and for the wrong reasons.  Tonight, RAW has a chance to do the same ill-advised thing, if they want.  The main event will pit Kane against World Champ Chris Benoit.  And I hope I don't have to explain the myriad ways that Kane has been surrounded by crap the last few months. 
    The match itself has every chance of being quite good, but only if they do what they did at the PPV two weeks ago, and leave the nonsense at the door.  Sadly, that match happened before Kane was laying claim to being the father of Lita's child and introduced a whole new level of ridiculousness to his current storyline.  Better, I think, to have Benoit retain in convincing fashion, and let Kane go off and do whatever it is he's gonna do with Matt and Lita.
    I say that also because Benoit has far more interesting things on his plate, things that genuinely do intrigue me.  Obviously, HHH has reason to think himself the #1 Contender.  But after last week, when Benoit accidentally chair-shotted Eugene, Benoit may find that the simple-minded chap has fallen under the spell of Evolution.  Again, as much as thinking about SD! turns my brain to mush, I can think of dozens of really cool things they could do over the next month or so if they built to a Benoit vs. Eugene vs. Triple H main event at the next PPV, which HHH manipulating Eugene every step of the way.  The storyline could even continue on to a Benoit/HHH one-on-one match at SummerSlam.  Just so much chance to do some good, here, and I hope they don't do anything silly with Kane tonight to ruin the prospects...
    Ideally, they'd address the Eugene/Evolution and Kane/Lita things independently for tonight, let Benoit and Kane go out and have a solid main event without too many extracurriculars, and then start tying the ends together next week...  or maybe I don't even really care how they do it as long as they keep the Pregnant Lita crap in its own little ghetto and not let its Suck start rubbing off on anything else.
    At the IC Title level, it's looking like Randy Orton may face challenges from Edge and/or Chris Jericho.  Those two are also in Evolution's cross-hairs.  If I had to guess, I'd say Edge probably gets the PPV title feud, though, since it looks like the logical thing for Jericho would be to revenge on Batista for KO'ing him in last week's match.  Why the E would saddle Jericho with a vaguely-metro, over-tattooed muscle head for a second month in a row is beyond me, but Edge/Orton shouldn't be too bad, either.  Or maybe Jericho can go through Batista, and they could set up a three-way with Edge/Orton/Jericho... except I'm already advocating a three-way World Title match, so probably not.  Dammit.  Poor Jericho.
    RAW's next most prestigious title (by default) is the women's belt, currently held by Trish Stratus.  With the assistance of her loyal valet, the Lovely Miss Tomko, Trish beat Victoria by pinfall last week...  but Victoria got some help of her own, from what appeared to be Stevie Richards in drag.  Hopefully this marks the return of Wacky Victoria and the resurrection of one of my more favorite women's feuds of the last few years...  it sucks if they keep having nothing for Molly and Gail to do, but Trish and Victoria have been too good together too many times for me to not think that's a dandy idea, too.
    And the tag titles?  We still have those on RAW?  Well, Rhyno and Tajiri are getting title shots at house shows, which should tell you just about everything you need to know.  Two guys who aren't even on TV are deemed worthy of the #1 Contender spot!  Wheee!!  At least the Fed could do worse that have that same duo actually GET ON TV and form a regular tandem and go after the belts.  Rhyno and Tajiri could be pretty awesome together.  And even awesomer apart, once they inevitably split up and revive their old ECW feud.  But now I'm getting ahead of myself.
    What else do we have to look forward to tonight?  I dunno.  I think I've hit the highlights, pretty much... the only other thing left to talk about would be the Diva Idol contest.  But I've pretty much said my piece there already: what a pointless load of crap.  And sadly, ratings for RAW last week were sufficiently high that WWE can delude itself into thinking that the Diva Search is a GOOD THING that deserves more TV time.  Goddammit.  Well, as outlined last week, I'm pushing back the start time of RAW at my house to 9:45pm, giving me an extra 15 minutes of "Time Shifting" FF Freedom.  Those 15 minutes have "Diva Search" written all over them.
    Well, maybe you wouldn't want me on your couch to watch wrestling... cuz I'd demand the remote and the right to drive the DVR.  And there's no "JVC Ka-Boom of the Week" or other crap like that when I'm driving.  No SD! Rebound.  No advertisements.  And certainly no Diva Idol after last week's introduction to the concept.  I'm a hard-ass that way.  But the remaining hour-fifteen would be Tons of Fun!  I promise.
    For proof, I'll just tell that if you can't catch RAW tonight, you can come on back to OO tomorrow for my full RAW Recap.  Which is as close as you can get to watching wrestling with The Me as you can get...  all of my snarky observations and silly commentary recycled a day later For Your Viewing Pleasure!
    I'll see you then.  And if not, I'll see you Wednesday with more of the news and views and spoilers and whatever else I can scare up...


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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