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RAW Reloads with Re-Vengeance,
Plus Other Monday News 
July 12, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Goddammit.  That just about sums it up, folks.  After three months of listening to/watching the vast majority of Reds games, and after three months of cringing in horror every time Junior Griffey tried to score from second on a single, or legged out a double, or tracked down a tough ball in the gap, it finally happened on Saturday...  I didn't even see it, but heard later that night it was just one of those freak accidents.  Chasing down a fly ball, and WHAM, there goes the hammy.

My already tenuous faith in the Reds takes another hit.  Our vaunted outfield -- together for all of about 8 games this season -- probably won't play at the same time again till at least mid-August.  If then.  And our front office goons are too timid and scrooge-ish to do anything to make this team better before the trading deadline (they may, in fact, but SUCH cheap bastards that they'll turn us into sellers and make us worse).

On the upside, at least without Junior in the Home Run Derby tonight (no Giambi, either), maybe I'll pay a LITTLE bit closer attention to RAW.  And a winner is YOU, since that means less fast-forwarding and more clever observations that I can recycle for the recap tomorrow!  So rejoice in Griffey's gossamer-like body, you selfish pricks!  It'll end up making OO a better place!  Except for this part where I'm ranting for three paragraphs!

On with the show:

  • Interesting responses about last night's Vengeance PPV...  with my "very mild Thumbs Up" call, I seem to have found the way to still piss off the vast majority of people.
    Some thought I was a supreme asshole for riffing on Randy Orton's restholds and bringing up the "3 PPVs in 29 days" business aspect and in essence said by if I'd just sat back and been a fan instead of trying to be smart, I would have realized it was a very good show.
    All I can say there: hey, look, you might think it's trying to act like I'm "smart to what's good for business," but expressing discontent over this recent pandemic of PPVs *is* a fair criticism for a FAN to make.  I don't think it's unfair to want to be "up" for big PPV events, and I don't think it's unfair to say that WWE has made that hard by promoting four shows of wildly variable quality in the seven weeks since mid-May.  I really did think that more than half of Vengeance came off as nothing more special than a typical Monday night as a result.  I like my Monday night wrestling enough that that is not a horrible criticism, but it is part of my Problem Identification: that WWE has not had any real sizzle for any PPV since April.  And I, as a fan, am allowed to notice that.
    And about the Orton/Edge match: look, I said so right in last night's Recap that I think of myself as pretty reasonable and fair when it comes to understanding the place of restholds in a wrestling match.  Anyone who tells you that headlocks and chinlocks have no place in a High Quality Workrate Match is as big a moron as you'll ever talk to.  That said, it's understanding their place and proper use that allows for a match to be paced a bit more slowly in the new "WWE style," and I still contend VERY strongly that this is what was lacking from Orton vs. Edge.  Contrary to popular belief, my loathing of Randy Orton is not so strong that I must invent reasons to dislike him or his matches just to keep up a gimmick or piss off his fans.  Unless I drugged and mind-controlled the entire city of Hartford and got THEM to chant "Boring" along with me last night, too... which I didn't.
    The problem in that match was probably all rooted in the fact that they laid it out thinking that Edge would be over as a sympathetic babyface.  And instead, he had a good third of the crowd against him, another third who sounded like they couldn't give a shit, and MAYBE a third giving him the cheers he expected.  Orton, on the other hand, is getting cheers.  The chemistry and psychology of the heel grinding down the babyface with headlocks and chinlocks is DOOMED to fail as soon as you have a crowd mutiny on you like that.  I would also argue that (unlike HHH/Benoit later, where there was a period that was just as methodical as Orton's Chinlocks of Doom, but which also featured a precision focus on one body part and an audience that was along for the ride) random headlocks and chinlocks are never gonna be as enthralling as dissecting one body part.  Do I know the solution?  Actually, no.  This is a rare case where I think I'm just smart enough to identify the problem, but I honestly have no idea what Randy could have done differently, at least not off the top of my head.  But locking in three headlocks and leaving fans chanting "boring" instead of doing something so they'd be FIRED UP for Edge's comeback was not how I'd have done it.  Edge came back to near-silence, and it was only once the pace of the match picked up in the final five minutes that the crowd perked up, too.  Again, it was hard not to notice this, and I don't think it was unfair (or too singling-out Orton) to point it out in the recap.
    And then there were people who thought I must have been snockered off my ass if I liked the show even the littlest bit.  Which is false.  Stone Cold Sober, I was (it's all part of my "except for special occasions, boozing is only 3 nights a week" self-policing philosophy, and I did a number on myself with my Thursday audible last week).  Popular accusations from this camp included outright anger that a World Title Match would feature so much "crap" with Eugene.  And there, folks, I can only say, "Sorry," because what you call crap, I call entertainment.
    Yeah, that was perhaps the most ricockulous ref bump of 2004 to date (poor guy was down for, what, at least 10 minutes, it felt like), and maybe YOU say you "knew" that Eugene was gonna end up whacking HHH in the end.  But dammit, that'd be like me saying I "knew" Kane was gonna beat Matt Hardy: it seems obvious, it seems like a safe call, but you never know when a Shocking Swerve won't sneak up on you and knock you on your ass, so really, who "knows" anything?  I thought it was very interesting and dramatic, it almost makes me think I was too harsh on WWE for putting the spotlight on HHH/Eugene ahead of HHH/Benoit because we got this finish last night, and NOW we can move ahead with more HHH/Benoit without the Eugene factor, and that will be very good, too.
    And some people are also convinced WWE was hepped up on goofballs or something, too, what with left-field booking like Batista's silly win over Jericho, or Edge taking the IC Title, or (most confounding) Matt Hardy pinning Kane.  Of the three, only the IC match really gnaws at me, personally: as I'd outlined Friday, I thought when Orton finally lost the title, it SHOULD have been in a big, well-built feud. And if you'd wanted to do a "shocking" title loss, then you should have done it last month with Shelton Benjamin, because unlike Edge, he would have gained something in the win (Edge has "been there, done that" enough that the IC belt is really just jewelry on him, and his problems -- including reasons for getting booed -- lie at a more basic level).  But whatever: if they're gonna push ahead with this "Evolution Killer" gimmick, then I guess I can foresee some interesting possibilities for Edge with the strap.
    Anyway, with 24 hours of hindsight, why am I not shocked to find myself occupying a sort of Neutral Zone Ghetto, with zealots all around and me stuck in the middle attempting to distribute my Sane and Rational Judgments, all to no avail?  No, Vengeance was not exceptional in the same wall-to-wall exciting way that Backlash or WM was.  But c'mon, it was entirely tolerable and enjoyable in a way that neither Judgment Day nor the Bash were, too.
    To me: that's three hours well spent and the mildest of Thumbs Up calls (in no small part because the main event was the easy highlight of the show, and I'm very biased towards events that end strong and help you forget a bit about anything that might have preceded).  But I guess your mileage may vary.
    Again: for the full report on the complete Vengeance PPV card, check out last night's immediate post-show recap.
  • And while we're still on Vengeance, allow me to boast: OO has finally defeated WrestleLine in our pay-per-view predictions battle!  With a mighty Team Percentage of 33.3%!  I shit you not:  accurately predicting one out of three outcomes was enough to win!
    The final tally: OO's nine person team picked 15 correct outcomes out of 45 chances (nine people times five matches).  WL's eight-man team picked 11 out of 40 chances.  That's a 33.3% to 27.5% victory for the trOOps!
    And here's the scary thing: last night, I was feeling miserable about my 2-out-of-5 solo performance, not realizing just how bad things were...  in fact, 2-out-of-5 is good for second place, not just on OO, but among ALL the OO and WL folks who picked.  Only one man accurately called 3 matches.  To OO's Very Own The Cubs Fan, congratulations: 3-for-5 is good enough for the crown this time!
    Tied in second place (no limited myself to OO'ers) with 2-for-5 each are me, Erin, Matt, Jeb, and Bulldog.  Adam and Danny each called 1-out-of-5.  And Fonzo, the once-insurmountible leader, managed to score a perfect GOOSE EGG, calling NO matches correctly.  Crazy.  I don't feel so bad, anymore.  My 2/5 40% is ABOVE AVERAGE, baby.
    Anyway, Denny has taken the lead in generating the results after every PPV, so check out WrestleLine for the full details.  Don't worry: I checked his math this time!
    And with this, OO's Team PPV Coverage has concluded SIX big PPV events, so let's do a quick update of the Aggregate OO Rankings, too...  among the Qualified Leaders (meaning making picks for at least 4 of the 6 PPVs):
    1) The Cubs Fan (15/25, 60.0%)
    2) Canadian Bulldog (25/43, 58.1%)
    3) Alfonso "Fonzo" Castillo (14/25, 56.0%)
    4) Big Danny T (20/36, 55.6%)
    5) Matt Hocking (23/43, 53.5%)
    (tie)  Adam Gutschmidt (23/43, 53.5%)
    7) Jeb Lund (22/43, 51.2%)
    8) "The" Rick Scaia (18/43, 41.9%)
    9) Erin Anderson (17/43, 39.5%)
    I guess anything is possible, but looking at the numbers, it's pretty much a deal where I'm about 7 or 8 "games back" and with only six more PPVs to go in 2004, I just don't know if there's enough time to make up ground and prove my obvious Wrestling Genius!  Hell, even if I don't come out on top, can someone please explain to me how I've gone from a PPV percentage solidly above 70% in both 2002 and 2003 to THIS?!?
    Anyway, there you have it.  My mighty second place finish this weekend still brought my AVERAGE down, and didn't do much to help me make up ground.  
  • The weekend's other big show: TNA Impact on FSN...  in lieu of a complete recap, I'll again just sort of beg off and tell you that it was a second straight week where the show seemed to inch away from the sort of focus I'd prefer to see it have.
    To wit: somebody's apparently under the impression that I give a damn about Dusty Rhodes and Larry Zbyszko as something other than a side-show.  Again, it's a case of TNA putting time into promoting somebody/something because of a perceived "name value" instead of keeping a tight focus on who might sell tickets and PPVs for months and years to come.
    And it's frustrating because it's not like TNA isn't also showcasing some very compelling talents on Impact; but compared to Jarrett/3LK/Old Guys, they almost feel like afterthoughts. 
    Guys like AJ Styles and Triple X won't ever ascend to top level status and have value for the company if they don't get more of a chance to shine on Impact: I'm talking about something other than randomly generated matches with predictable run-ins to hype their "real" matches on PPV.  
    But what do I know?  Just that on my Big List of Things To Do this week, watching Dusty Rhodes trying to climb up a turnbuckle to grab a Guitar On A Pole is NOT registering very high.  And yet, that's part of what TNA's bringing on Wednesday night...
  • In a weekend radio interview, Test confirmed that he'll be undergoing spinal fusion surgery (same as Austin, Benoit, et al) in the very near future, and will miss around a year of in-ring time.
    It's my understanding that Test would have been a candidate for Kurt Angle's alternative procedure, but after weighing the options and outcomes, is opting to go to Austin's doctor in Texas for the more traditional fusion surgery.
    Since experiencing neck problems in February or March, Test was taken off the road and tried non-surgical rehab.  He returned for exactly one house show match in June before realizing his condition had not improved.  This surgery was a last resort, but apparently, a necessary one.
  • Last week's VASTLY improved SmackDown! scored a 3.1 final rating.  Which is down just a tick from the previous week's 3.2, but at least keeps SD! over the 3.0 barrier for another week.  Maybe more shows like last week's, and they'll win back that last 15% of the audience that has abadoned them since WM20?
  • With the Rock just getting fully immersed in "Spy Hunter," there are rumors that his NEXT project might also be in the adapted-from-a-videogame genre.  Rock's name figures prominently in the proposed "Doom" movie franchise, and I've received confirmation that those published rumors are very much on target.
    So for those of you keeping track: despite declining box office receipts for his three starring roles, the Rock remains in demand and his Hollywood dance card remains full.
  • I guess we gotta close today with a quick look ahead to tonight's RAW...
    I think it's pretty clear that in so far as Vengeance had a theme, it was Evolution's bad night.  So allow me to display my ever-present wit by suggesting that tonight's RAW will be all about Evolution RE-Vengeance!  OO: always your home for third-rate puns!
    The real question, in my mind, is whether Evolution's ire will be outwardly directed, or inwardly focused.  Triple H alone was the man responsible for Eugene's involvement in two Evolution losses at Vengeance: everybody else wanted nothing to do with Eugene, but HHH insisted.  Might Orton, Flair, and Batista mutiny against the leader?  Or will the leader realize the error of his way and regain the confidence of his troops by finally turning his full arsenal against Eugene?
    I would lean towards the former remaining in a "tease" stage for a while, while the latter comes to more immediate fruition.  This way, we get Eugene out from under Evolution, we probably get him off doing something fun on the side (I vote for William Regal to be involved), and we can have HHH continue his assault on Benoit's World Title, this time one-on-one with no chicanery or shenanigans.  But you don't let the implosion of Evolution completely fall to the wayside, either, and maybe if HHH should fail in his next attempt at Benoit, that's when we start ramping it up again?
    We'll see...
    Randy Orton lost his IC Title to Edge, and you gotta assume he'll be looking to get it back.  Playing into the "implosion of Evolution" idea, I floated a couple ideas in the last week about somebody OTHER than Orton getting to Edge first and taking the title, perhaps spurring some heat dissension in Evolution. Although I dismissed those after further thought, now I'm wondering if you couldn't go ahead and go that route afterall... I mean, Edge HAS promised to go after ALL of Evolution, and it strikes me that Young Randall's little temper tantrum after losing the belt last night indicates he has an unhealthy fixation on "his" belt and wouldn't be much of a team player should another Evolution member go after it...  but I'm talking out of my ass, now.  Well, actually, off the top of my head... but maybe it's something to keep an eye on.  I'm curious to see if the IC Title can help Edge, or if he can help the title, but I fully expect the main story here to be Orton's obsession with winning it back for himself.
    Meantime, Batista actually won his match at Vengeance, but did so in such a cheap fashion that he should be the TARGET of some ReVengeancing, rather than perpetrator of it.  Chris Jericho might be due a rematch, at least, if there's any justice in the world, he will be, and we'll get him a win and then find him something interesting to do other than be the cleverest mic stand in all the land.  Oh Christian, where art thou, brother?
    In the tag division, we've had the birth of a new team (Tajiri/Rhyno) effective last night, so I hope we see them stage an assault on La Resistance and actually set us down a road of rebuilding the RAW tag division.  I think you start with Tajiri/Rhyno, maybe get Regal/Eugene rolling, La Resistance (much as I hate to say it) are about as strong as any heels you'll find, and you'd really just need one more pair of quality villains to really have things back to a respectable level.
    In the women's division, you've got Victoria emerging as the #1 Contender, but that's probably more a slow-burn storyline until Trish is healthy enough to wrestle at full speed.  More pressing in the short term, I sure, will be Trish/Tomko vs. Maven/Nidia in a feud where Trish can be hid/protected in mixed tags.
    And yeah, like it or not: Kane/Lita/Matt Hardy ain't going anywhere.  I don't know what Matt's win at the PPV accomplishes other than pissing Kane off and maybe inspiring him to do his massive, bad-ass attack on Matt tonight or in coming weeks.  I just know that anything involving Pregnant Lita is probably going to Bring the Suck.  And bring it hard.  Oh, and the Diva Idol thing, too.  That won't be any good.  But it'll be part of the show tonight.  So look out!
    Oughta be chances for some interesting stuff tonight.  So check it out.  And if you don't, well, hell, OO just so happens to be the home of the finest RAW Recap in the entire Known Universe of Time and Space, so you can just come on back tomorrow for that, OK?

    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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