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RAW, Taker the Murderer?, Some MIA
Superstars, a Bit of TNA, Other News... 
June 30, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I got nothing today, folks, none of my usual witty small talk.  Haven't seen any cool new bands in the last week or two.  Have pretty much lost faith in the Reds' ability to hold up in the NL Central.  Couldn't care less about Spider-Man 2.  Can't even muster up a modicum of pretend-indignation about pop tart Britney Spears getting engaged to someone other than me.

I'm in Uninteresting Mode just now.  Gimme till after the weekend: a couple nights of getting completely blitzed and lighting shit on fire is sure to be good for a few Hilarious Anecdotes.

Till then, We'll Always Have Wrestling:

  • I'm not entirely sure what I've got to say about Monday's RAW that I didn't say in the Recap... but on the grounds that not all of you read that Fine Document (jerks!), I feel obligated to try to recycle some of my main points in a concise fashion here today.
    More than anything, I felt it was another week where you had Really Good mixed with Really Bad.  Except that this week, the Really Bad seemed less ubiquitous (or at least, more easily fast-forwarded), allowing the Good to shine through and be the defining characteristic of the show.  In my own damned opinion, anyway.
    I think the dynamic between Eugene and Triple H is being handled expertly, and gives HHH anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months of manipulating Eugene.  Of course, Eugene will be used to attack and debilitate HHH's foes (most notably, Chris Benoit).  But in the end, you know that Eugene will come around, and you know that guys like Benoit and Regal will forgive him.  Because it's not Eugene's fault: it's HHH's.  Should be very cool to watch play out.
    At the complete other end of the spectrum, I've got nothing good to say about Kane/Lita/Matt Hardy.  Not a damn part of this whole storyline is appealing, or even sensible.  From Kane's out-of-left-field infatuation with Lita and making an offspring, to Lita's sheer weakness and stupidity in dealing with Kane's advances, to Kane Going Catholic (or whatever he did) to insure his boys would find their target, to Lita not taking precautions of her own to make sure they wouldn't, to just about every interview/vignette/skit that has required something approximating acting out of anybody, this whole thing has just sucked.  And I'm not the only one: all the evidence I need is right there in the live audience week in and week out.  From the stunned silence and grumbling that My Own Hometown delivered when Lita announced she was pregnant to Richmond, VA's decision to ignore all the crap with Lita and just keep chanting "You Tapped Out" at Kane this very week... it's clear NOBODY GIVES A SHIT.  Except to wish it would just go away.
    The opening tag match and main event were both good, but not great...  the former could have benefited from trimming a few minutes, the latter maybe could have used those minutes to good effect because the two ad breaks seemed shoe-horned in and not nearly spread-out enough. But both got us where we needed to go (the tag match set up both Jericho/Batista and Orton/Edge, the main event -- even after it got bogged down with Lita Crap -- still ended with Benoit punking out Kane to remind us that he just beat the Big Red Machine, which is pretty bad-ass of him).  But then you counter that with the Diva Idol nonsense, which thankfully DVR allowed me to FF past, but which I have to assume sucked again for the second consecutive week for the rest of you who don't have the benefit of delaying RAW's start time in the name of skipping past all commercials and all crap.
    Throw in a palatable gimmick tag match, and the Good Minutes far outweighed the Bad Minutes.  I'll understand if you're still uncomfortable because you know Pregnant Lita and the Diva Search are both guaranteed to continue to rack up the Bad Minutes in the coming weeks and/or months, but all I can do tell you that you'll stay WAY more sane if you focus on the things RAW is doing right.  The Diva Search thing, at least, is REALLY easy to ignore...
    You can get my more complete thoughts/analyses in the ever-comprehensive OO RAW Recap.
  • Monday's rating is in, and anyone who wanted to attribute LAST week's success to Diva Idol can put this in their pipe and smoke it:
    RAW did a 3.7 this week, a drop of a half-point, and right back around RAW's post-Mania average.  I will recall my own possibly-insightful observation from a week ago, and say that I think you can pretty much credit last week's rating to busting out the Rock in the opening segment (thereby attracting more eyeballs than is normal in the opening quarter hour), and then having the HIGHLY marketable Eugene/HHH match to keep those eyeballs glued and to keep adding more as the show rolled on.  The Diva Search, it did nothing.
  • Some interesting follow up on the "Taker is a Murderer" thing that we discussed on Monday....
    First, let's get something corrected: I published a bullet point about how Taker's actions on the PPV were in direct violation of WWE's "posted policy" that says that "actions you will not see portrayed on WWE programming are murder, rape, and robbery."
    I published that item on the grounds that a bunch of people sent it to me, and I thought it was kind of interesting.  What a bunch of people didn't bother to tell me (or didn't bother reading about on their own) is that ON THE VERY SAME PAGE where they stole that quote, WWE makes it clear that these guidelines only apply to broadcast shows like RAW, SD!, and so on.  Way to only feed me half of the story, jerkos!  Way for me to just accept your half of the story and lazily assume you're not screwing me, too!
    So at the very least: WWE violated none of its own policies by "killing" Paul Bearer at the PPV, any more than they did when Undertaker has been Buried Alive however many times that's happened.
    BUT WAIT, there's more!  And it's not sold in any store!
    WWE, though, apparently got wind of the internet talking about its "violation of its own policy" and instead of just saying "Screw you, read more closely, we didn't do anything wrong," they actually did get their panties in a bunch and issued a Clarification of their own: you see, Paul Bearer is not necessarily dead, because the live crowd in Norfolk saw him receive "medical attention" after the PPV went off the air.  So I guess what Undertaker did was only Attempted Murder, which is OK by WWE's posted guidelines.  Or something.  I don't know.  I really think the Clarification is about 18 times more stupid and nonsensical than the idiots who mis-applied WWE's posted guidelines...  and think the Fed would have been just fine ignoring said idiots or publishing the aforementioned "Screw you, read more closely" press release.
    And really that gets to the core of the issue for me: I was VERY heartened to get so many e-mails thanking me for being the only web guy who wasn't acting like a dumbass over this "murder" issue.  Or maybe I just alienated all the other hyper-reactive/can't-tell-the-difference-between-pretend-and-real morons with my "There are other, better reasons to loathe JBL than because he pretended to be a Nazi" diatribes, and all that's left are you sensible types.
    In any case, I don't even care what WWE's "posted policy" is.  Theirs is still a form that essentially boils down to two or more men fighting over something, and that's not something that's for kids.  So I say the gloves are off in terms of what kinds of stories they can tell, content- or theme-wise.  It's a PG-13 genre by nature.  They can make up little guidelines if they want, but ultimately, the only guideline *I* hold them to is that the storylines they do NOT SUCK BALLS.
    And kids, THAT is why you should be irate. Don't gimme any of this holier-than-thou "posted policy" bullshit.  Just come on out and say "that angle was stupid in theory, and it came off awful in execution, and I think it sucked."  Don't go looking for reasons to catch Corporate WWE with its pants down: just go ahead and mock Creative WWE for being such dumbasses.  You'll be striking alot closer to the core of the problem.
    It's like I said Monday (and like I ripped off from an excellent David Cross HBO comedy special): if all entertainment was ABC's sanitized TGIF sitcom line-up or "Touched by an Angel," *I* would be the one rampaging through the streets wanting to bust caps in all nearby asses.  Sure, real life isn't all murder/revenge plots, and decapitating cyborgs from the future, and having hot, sweaty, monkey-sex with your implausibly-top-heavy maid just because you forgot to put up the "Do Not Disturb" sign and happen to live on Planet Cinemax...  but it's also not all syrupy, sachharine, brain-dead Olsen Twins tripe, not by a long shot.
    Entertainment is allowed to have a bit of an edge, and should be a bit of a release.  This far, I'm willing to grant Vince McMahon his vision of "Sports Entertainment" that's not beholden to any different rules or standards than any movie or TV show.  I may have very good reasons for thinking that it'd be very hard to ever do a murder/death storyline in wrestling that doesn't suck ass (think about it: Paul Bearer, Al Wilson, what do these two have in common?), but I'm not going to say that it COULDN'T maybe, possibly, in a million years happen.  And if somebody came up with the right one, why shouldn't WWE be allowed to tell that story?
    I'm ranting, now.  So let's bottom line it: hate this because it was absolutely awful.  Not because it sent a bad message or violated a policy or any of that bullshit.  Quit arguing technicalities and grow a sac.  
  • Maybe you want to touch on something that COULD launch this into "sending a wrong message" territory?  Well, Undertaker worked as a babyface at SD!'s house show on Monday, less than 24 hours after "killing" Paul Bearer.  I may be cool with using murder in a storyline (if only it didn't suck), but even I have SOME morality that stops me from thinking that sending an (alleged) murderer out to get cheered is a good idea.
    Then again, it didn't happen on TV, so therefore, by the Second Cardinal Rule of Professional Wrestling: IT DOESN'T COUNT.
    But I'll follow that up by saying that last night at TV tapings (where it does count), Taker's on-air role was decided Tweener in nature.  So it's not like WWE isn't gonna toe the line of making it OK to keep cheering  the MurderTaker.  
    The obvious out: like WWE said in their press release, Paul Bearer isn't really dead at all.  There's enough supernatural back-story here (and even at the PPV, Taker -- or someone -- summoned the lightning bolt from the heavens that allowed Taker to pull the lever himself) that Bearer could show up fresh as a daisy, and you'd just have to accept it on the grounds that he's Not Quite Of This Earth.  Hey, I'm not saying the Return of Paul Bearer would be any less sucky than the Murder of Paul Bearer, I'm just tell you it's a possibility you must consider.
  • Anyway, for the full details on what Taker was up to and the rest of the SD! Spoilers, you can go ahead and click here.  It's a show that's hard to get a read on in its on-paper form... it could be entirely tolerable, and it might just be another FF-heavy and forgettable outing.
    Can't wait till tomorrow night?  Read the Spoilers.
  • I guess something else I oughta do today is answer a few frequently asked questions... over the last month, some very common queries have been "Where is XXXXXXX and why haven't they been on TV?".
    So let's run down the 7 or 8 most-frequently-asked-about MIA superstars and tell you what's going on.
    First is/was Tajiri.  Most of those questions died down, at least among those who are paying attention, in the last 2 weeks.  Because that's when Tajiri returned to house shows.  And he'll return to TV this week on Heat in a singles match.  Again, check the Spoilers if you must.  WWE management had given him a month off to go back to Japan and spend time at home.
    Second, and probably the most common: Scott Steiner. All I can tell you about Steiner is that he got hurt a few months ago, and either is now (or VERY soon will be) healthy.  But WWE may just keep him off the road and off TV until his contract expires this fall.  Seems kind of baffling to me that a guy who could have value to the company, even if as half of a tag team, would be paid to sit home, but the message is that WWE has no interest in re-signing Steiner at the price tag he'd be asking, and therefore has no interest in reminding fans that he exists.
    And speaking of Steiner and his possible tag partner, Test's absence has not gone unnoticed by you folks.  Here, I can tell you that Test also got hurt a few months ago, and actually returned to exactly one (1) house show this weekend, and would have been projected to be back on TV by mid-July... except he tweaked something (one report says his neck), and then he was back off the house shows, and I haven't heard anything about whether this new thing is all that serious or not.  [Don't know if this was factual information, or just a guy kind of self-booking a scenario at me, but I did hear something about if Jeff Hardy didn't get signed by WWE, they might use Test in a babyface role and team him with Matt Hardy, also playing off of Lita and Stacy's apparent friendship.  I dunno, but I guess it makes some kind of sense.]
    How about former Cruiserweight Champion, Jacqueline?  Sadly, her situation is pretty much what I expected it would be: yeah, they brought her out for the final big angle, but with the expiration of her contract (this is either coming up soon, or more likely, considering that I'm always about a week or two behind on this kind of info trickling down to me, it has already happened), she will not be getting renewed by WWE.  And thus, two of Scaiadumus' three predicted Divas have fallen... somehow, Ivory holds on!
    Rikishi is another one: he's also been hurt the past few months, although if/when he comes back, he may not be long for WWE.  Going back a year, I guess the company's not been happy with his weight gain or something.  I kinda don't get that, as (1) his gimmick is his big fat ass, and (2) Big Show's ability to have quality matches is (if anything) INVERSELY proportional to his fatness at any given time.  But whatever, I guess there's more at play in more recent months, and WWE might just quietly release Rikishi at their next available roll-over/renewal opportunity. Whether he gets back on TV before then and has a chance to change this current buzz against him with strong performances is up in the air.
    And in the Tough Enough division:  both Johnny Nitro and Shaniqua were deemed in need of "more seasoning," and are working in OVW.  Same with Matt Morgan, who everybody seems to think has tremendous upside, but just needed to go back in the oven to cook for a bit longer.  All three will be called back up when their skill levels coincide with the right creative opening: Morgan probably belongs on SD!, while everybody and their uncle is positive Shaniqua will end up on RAW where she can wrestle.  Nitro's a wild card, though I'd vote for just doing the obvious and team him up with Tough Enough Matt, probably on SD! even if only so they can do the obvious feud with the Grumpy Old Men.
    There you have it... the complete OO MIA WWE Report.  File it away for safe keeping.
  • Last for today, a quick look at tonight's TNA PPV...
    And this is not obligatory, either, it's actually a show I'll be trying to rally the troops to see.  I think as poor a job as TNA did with using Impact to build up to the 2nd Anniversary PPV, they finally figured some stuff out last week, and though it's maybe not quite as strong "on paper," tonight's PPV is one I'm more interesting in checking out simply because of more effective promotion.
    The "main event" is actually not a wrestling match at all, it'll be the announcement of who is the NWA Champion.  This is a mess that started a week ago when Jeff Jarrett brought a guitar into an NWA Title match, but Ron Killings and his posse got his hands on it and used it.  The ref didn't see it, Killings won the match and the title.  Is there instant replay in pro wrestling?  No, but they're still playing up Killings' tainted win, as well as the additional factor that it WAS Jarrett's guitar they used to turn this into quite the moral dilemma.  Vince Russo announces his decision tonight: Jarrett or Killings?  Or, knowing Russo, my waxing interest in this issue will be extinguished with the announcement of a held-up title and some convoluted scenario/match to crown a new champion that will somehow end up involving David Arquette.  Which would STILL be more plausible than putting a world title on Bradshaw... but I digress...
    Actually, the SECOND biggest thing of the night might not be a wrestling match, either, as TNA is promising "an update on Jeff Hardy."  And you don't promise an update on a free agent unless the news is gonna be good.  And in fact, that jibes with what I've heard the past few days: that Jeff Hardy is leaning heavily towards a one-year TNA deal.  Working spotfests twice a week certainly would suit him, I guess....   
    [Total aside: I got an e-mail from a reader that said that the Hardy music video that I made fun of on Monday was actually Jeff's own band, Peroxwhy?gen.  That was the only person who mailed in to say so, so I don't know if it's true.  But if it is: Whoopsy daisy.  Gee, I sure wish I could take it back, but what's said is said, huh?  And another aside to the aside: if this is true, you might expect more of the same, since one thing that makes TNA attractive to Jeff is that he can strong arm them into promoting his little side projects like his band.  And you thought WWE Jeff was weird....]
    Finally, on the third line down tonight, we get a wrestling match.  And if the company has any sense, they'll just do those other two angles mid-show and let this be the main event.  Because it should kick all kinds of ass: AJ Styles defends the X Title against Kid Kash in the climax of a feud that's been brewing for months.  Give them the main event spot and 20 minutes, and all should be good.
    Two other matches seem a notch above the rest: D'Lo Brown (a personal favorite of mine) will take on Monty Brown (who has not impressed me nearly as much as I'd expected given the hype) in kind of a defacto #1 Contenders match...  and America's Most Wanted defend the tag titles against the Naturals in a match that is probably Impact's biggest success story to date (it's the feud they've best focused on on Fridays, it seems).
    The rest of the card: Erik Watts will take on Abyss in a match that has a lot of story (the jezebel Goldilocks has Watts' money and the heart of the Monster Abyss, and is putting it on the line) but not so much prospects to be any good (unless Watts is a way different guy than I remember from 10 years ago)....  Sabu/Sonjay Dutt will face Team Canada...  and Pat "Mr. Dawn Marie" Kenney and Sonny Siaki will take on Glen Gilberti and Johnny Swinger.
    Also: I may have misspoken (I don't remember), but Dennis Rodman and Jonny Fairplay are apparently NOT scheduled for tonight's PPV, but rather are gonna be in Orlando for Impact tapings this week.  I can only imagine that whatever they've got planned, it involves the two working together, since otherwise, you'd have pointless digressions involving TWO different actually-useful stars.  So keep that in mind.
    Check out TNA tonight if you want... or check out Impact on Friday... or failing all that, I'm starting to go a bit TNA heavy in my Monday columns so you can read all about it then.
  • And on that, I'm done for today.  See you Friday with... well, something, I guess.  I'm trying to figure out if I got the motivation to work up something big and feature-y, or if I'm just gonna cross my fingers and hope there's enough news to talk about...
    Either way, I'll see you then.


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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