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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
SD! Stuff, Flair Won't Back Down, The
Kiss My Virtual Ass Club, and Other News...
July 30, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

You know what I like?  I mean, besides whiskey, rock 'n' roll, and the Dayton Flyers? "The Daily Show."  WWE can take its self-righteous, self-serving, self-congratulatory (and distractingly-out-of-place) "SmackDown Your Vote" thing and shove it; the way you get the precious 18-30 year old demographic to vote is to MAKE IT INTERESTING TO DO SO.  Sending Stacy Keibler out there to opine, "Umm, voting is good?" ain't gonna electrify anyone.
 
On the other hand, I've been loving "The Daily Show" this past week. Jon Stewart and his gang seem to have fairly liberal tendencies, but unlike some, they don't feel the need to bludgeon you over the head with one-sidedness. If there's a funny joke to be had, they'll do it. This past week at the Democratic Convention, they haven't been afraid to just come out and 

say what a bloated wad of idiocy the whole thing is.  And BAM, instantly there's somebody saying something about politics I can get behind! Just call it like it is, don't have it be a partisan thing and don't sugarcoat it, and maybe the 18-30 year olds will perk up!

Of course, then you run the risk of mobilizing a huge phalanx of 18-30 year olds who suddenly realize how utterly retarded and inbred the whole political system is, and somehow a third party might actually catch on.  And that can't be allowed to happen! Unless: are you people with me?  I'm legal to be President in 2012!  Viva La Revolution!

Enough. So me watching the Daily Show last thing before bed last night is what passes for introductory fodder today. Lucky you. But seriously: keep an eye out for any replays of this week's shows if you're like me and looking towards November as a choice between two essential sames foisted upon us by bloated and outmoded party apparatuses.  The one from (I think) Wednesday was a REALLY fun one, with Sen. Joe Biden joining Sen. John McCain on the "talking so much sense that they can clearly never be allowed to be President, even though they are guys I'd actually be EXCITED to vote for" list.  Good stuff.

And yeah, today's gonna be a half-assed column, so that's why I'm rambling. But here goes nothing:

  • I was a huge fan of last night's SmackDown!... well, maybe not HUGE fan, but I think it did some stuff that RAW failed to do. Like be entertaining at every point along the way for two straight hours.
     
    Well ALMOST every point.  There was that Bradshaw thing that they did; but as soon as I got the impression it was gonna be pointless drivel?  Oh baby, was it ever nice to have DVR back!  Fast Forward all the way.  And that's how the Rick manages to watch four hours of wrestling and poker every Thursday night in a matter of about 2 and a half hours! 
     
    And that's how The Rick excises pointless JBL vignettes and is left with an extremely strong SD! in which every segment had a purpose and moved us forward towards some future goodness...
     
    Teddy Long as GM? A great move. Then again, what else do you expect me to say?  I was the guy who suggested GM Long the day after the "Draft Lottery" that left Teddy on SD! and GM Heyman without a job, so of COURSE I'm gonna cheer for this.  Actually, in a lot of ways Teddy is the mirror image of Heyman: they're both wicked good on the stick, but Heyman's at his best when he's oozing slimy heelishness while still retaining (thanks to his "ECW Cred") the ability to periodically do fan favorite things.  And Teddy's at his best when he's just seeming so damned charismatic and likeable while still retaining (usually due to the Race Card) the ability to periodically make decisions that might piss fans off.  I think having a GM character who can straddle that middle ground effectively is VERY valuable.
     
    Not saying the pure heel Eric Bischoff is a problem... but this flexibility opens up a few doors for SD! that wouldn't have existed under Kurt Angle. And if nothing else: Teddy Long will get a few months here, and those are a few more months where we won't be subjected to Stephanie McMahon in every other segment.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Steph...  milk it for all its worth.
     
    Then you had the US Title situation which was pretty much the show-spanning story arc of the night.  The main event 8-way was probably not entirely necessary, but giving Haas, Gunn, Dupree, and Suzuki a few minutes in the spotlight can't hurt. In fact, I think we're probably due for a little mini-feud pay-off between Suzuki and Cena after their run-in in that match, so that's useful in the next week or two.  But predictably, it basically came down to Cena, Booker, and RVD.  And although Booker won, it wasn't exactly ultra decisive, and I'm betting both Cena AND RVD will stake claims to the belt.  Maybe that's our three-way at SummerSlam? With a babyface GM, it'd certainly be possible.  And it'd be sweet.
     
    And then the other story of the show were a couple related matches involving the Dudley Family.  Spike Dudley beat Rey Mysterio to win the Cruiserweight Title, but did so with UNWANTED help from Bubba and D-Von.  Then Bubba and D-Von were foiled in their attempt to regain the tag titles (in a very good match) when not only did Spike not reciprocate, but Rey came out and interfered to allow Kidman and London to retain.  It sets up a match next week with Rey and Spike against Bubba and D-Von, but I'm not entirely sure we're not gonna be in for more slow-burn in the Corruption Of Spike story.
     
    I mean, in his match with Rey, he definitely busted out a slightly different set of moves and body language. It might just be that there's almost nobody on the roster who Spike can work with and be the bigger man in the match... but he was here, so he went a little more brawly and power-based. And it's stuff like that that still makes me think that we're gonna end up with a six-man at SummerSlam with all three Duds facing Rey, Kidman, and London.
     
    The throwaway segment with Eddie Guerrero "auctioning" Kurt Angle's property was good fun, too.  Nothing too fancy there, since Eddie's limited in what he can do, but funny stuff, and it inches the Eddie/Kurt issue forward. The thing really does sell itself, so that's all we need.  Oh, and the Angle/Teddy skit? More good stuff, and it sets up Kurt's return to the ring next week... but against whom?
     
    I dunno, but I'm interested in tuning in to find out. And that's all WWE can hope for: rope 'em in, get 'em hooked, and have 'em come back for more.  They succeeded on that front last night...
     
    Part of me wants to insert a paragraph here mentioning that if my projections are right and SD!'s gonna have four matches at SummerSlam, then (a) three of 'em are more interesting to me than anything RAW's got confirmed (though if they do Edge/Jericho, that changes), and (b) the one that ISN'T interesting? Well, it was completely absent from SD! last night, which only FURTHER enhances my opinion of the show.  Way to focus on the positives!  And welcome to Velocity and another match against Shannon Moore, JBL!  Good stuff.
     
    Usually, this is the part where I'd tell you to check Danny's recap. And until last night, I thought there wouldn't even BE this part because I'd just do the recap myself and cover for Danny. But then I took a good look at our Spoiler Report from J. PyroFalkon Habib, and damn if the thing is pretty much spot on and super-detailed.  His live tapings report trumps 90% of the recaps you'll read, so I just saved myself the trouble and recycled.
     
    Check out the Spoiler/Recap SmackDown Report!
      
     
  • The preliminary rating for last night's show is standing at a 3.1, which though good enough for third place out of the six networks (convention coverage, obligatory as it was, but as pointless as it was, torpedoed ratings across the board) is actually a drop from the week before.
     
    SD! may be sustaining momentum in terms of critical appeal... but this would mark two straight weeks of declining ratings if numbers hold up once final ratings are released.  We'll reprise this issue on Monday.
     
  • Wednesday on TSN's "Off the Record," Canadian viewers were treated to a half-hour interview with Ric Flair... and despite being on Enemy Soil, Flair didn't back off of comments about Bret Hart, perhaps to his detriment.
     
    The entire second segment of the show was dedicated to Flair's comments about Bret and Bret's rebuttal and Flair's re-rebuttal... and in it, Flair didn't come off like the sane, rational observer that he did after his much less-involved comments from the book.  He went into warp speed and went right past the "Bret is a mechanic in the ring, not an entertainer" issue and started claiming that Bret never drew a penny and that any success he had was due to being a part of the Vince McMahon machine.
     
    When a comment from Bret was read about Flair's drawing power (the phrase "at least I was wrestling in front of live bodies, unlike the empty chairs you wrestled in front of in WCW/NWA" was turned), Flair reiterated the fact that he wasn't talking about himself. He didn't have the benefit of the WWF machine, but Bret did and even with that benefit he never drew the same kind of money as others did before and after him.
     
    And then, when the discussion turned to Ric's feelings about Montreal, he outright said he lost respect for Bret because of what he did in Montreal, refusing to job to Michaels.  And then, apropos of nothing, Flair diverted the discussion to how Bret kept harping on Montreal even after his brother died. The host tried to reign Flair in by reminding him maybe he shouldn't tell a man how to respond to his brother dying, but Flair kept rambling.  He said that if anything should happen to him, and he should die in the ring after a piledriver or something, he'd want his family to go out there the next week and celebrate the great life and career he'd had, not be bitter and hostile like the Hart family was after Owen.  The host again tried to talk sense, mentioning that a fatal piledriver and the stunt that killed Owen weren't the same thing... but Flair was having none of it: he insisted that the Harts should have responded differently to Owen, and Bret in particular shouldn't have kept using it as an excuse to bring up Montreal.
     
    Whoa.  I don't know.  Flair's entitled to his opinion, but there are just some areas where maybe one needs to realize one's opinion shouldn't be publicized.  What Flair thinks of Bret the Performer is interesting and fair game... but what he thinks of Bret's reactions to Montreal and Owen?  That's kind of "it shouldn't even really be any of his business" territory.  A few weeks ago, I wanted to call this a draw, and just hope the pissing contest would peter out... now it looks like it'll persist, and if it does, well, let's just say Flair's not coming out of this looking too good at this point.
     
    The rest of the show was more standard stuff.  The opening segment was mostly career rehash and hitting some of the highlights of Flair's book.  In the third segment, it was more of a hodge podge, but Flair admitted that Hogan was a "bigger star" than him (but NOT a better wrestler), managed to again restate his position on Mick Foley being a stuntman and not a wrestler, and put over Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Kurt Angle as the best in the business today.
     
    Thanks to all who passed along recaps/their thoughts. And also to those who helpfully pointed out that I could see the interview for myself courtesy of the TSN website.  If you'd like to do the same, you can click here.
     
  • Jeff Hardy worked his first "official" TNA match on Wednesday's PPV... he defeated Monty Brown in what was described to me as a "not very good" match, but not because of Hardy or any missed spots or anything.  The two just didn't mesh; I'd make some smart ass comment, but I think I'm pretty well on record as thinking that if you want a big, sloppy powerhouse of a wrestler who cuts barely-coherent promos, you might as well just get yourself some Ahmed Johnson tapes, so I think you can fill in the blank for yourself, there.
     
    Anyway, the finish had Jeff Jarrett coming out to TRY to cause Hardy to lose, but it backfired and distracted Brown long enough for Hardy to steal a quick pinfall.  They're clearly building up to a Hardy/Jarrett NWA Title match, with Dusty Rhodes for some indecipherable reason STRONGLY supporting Hardy.
     
    In contrast, the Ultimate X main event was roundly praised; it marked AJ Styles first time in the high-wire match, and he wound up hitting the possible Highspot of the Year when he nailed Frankie Kanzarian with a Styles Clash from off the high wires.  Insane-looking, I guess.  Give it to me on Impact, TNA! Not so keen was the ending, which was Kid Kash (SWERVE~!) coming out to attack Styles, and then Kanzarian and Michael Shane both grabbed the belt at the same time, and the ref declared a double winner and, thus, dual champions.  Huh.  But it kicked ass up till then.
     
     
  • Speaking of Impact: Jeff Hardy worked, and will appear (more likely by the time you see this, will have appeared), winning an unimpressive squash match. But squash or no, he was the biggest star of the tapings, so TNA's getting their money's worth, I guess.
     
    For whatever it's worth, the reason I've not been discussing Impact or recapping it the past few weeks is because the show's really gone downhill: it's almost all squashes, with limited storytelling.  For someone like me, who can't sit in front of a TV at 3 in the afternoon, I'm recording the show and watching it later...  and you see, my instinct is to fast-forward commercials.  
     
    But on Impact, if you FF the commercials, you're basically FF'ing the only parts of the show where they are really hyping up the next PPV and making it seem like important stuff is going on.  It's weird.  Oh, and somebody put a bullet in Johnny Nascar and his Alleged Hard Hitting Pre-Taped Interviews; it's one thing to have Todd Grisham sort of asking "tough questions" and wearing glasses and seeming like he might be smarter than your average mic stand... it's another to have some NASCAR jerk condescending to me and acting like he's got Very Important Insights into wrestling.
     
    I guess what I'm saying is that by the time I get done FF'ing the commercials/hype/pretaped interviews and everything, what I'm left with isn't a whole lot.  I know I said back two months ago that TNA was gonna have a hard time finding the balance between the free TV show and the PPVs, but I guess I was wrong: they've found it... it's just not an appealing one: it's use the free show as a C-show with commercials for the A-show.  And more and more, I'm just not all that excited for that.
     
  • In fairness, I think I oughta follow up on Sean O'Haire, who was arrested Tuesday for assaulting two women at a night club...  as tends to be the case in these situation, there is Another Side To The Story.

    And O'Haire's is that he was provoked, and that he was actually the victim in the attack, and the girls' claims are exaggerated.  He claims he's a fighter by training, and if he'd really assaulted them, they'd have been hospitalized.
     
    You can get the full interview with O'Haire (and a mug shot) at this Carolina news website.  Thanks to all who sent that one in.
     
  • And I guess as long as I'm in the ol' Mail Bag, I might as well fill up the last bullet of today's column with some feedback.  Because I was genuinely surprised by how many people felt the need to write in after my Wednesday column with praise for what I thought was a thin and half-assed Fantasy Scenario for Randy Orton.
     
    And on top of the ass-kissing, there were some people who took the time to fill in some blanks (one cool suggestion: have Randy's promo after turning on HHH include the phrase "You dropped the ball," recalling the night HHH kicked Shawn Michaels out of DX, possibly setting things up for a HBK/HHH reconciliation down the line), and I appreciate it all.
     
    Just because I'm an egomaniac, I want to reprint one message that seemed to me to EXACTLY describe what I was trying to do, but without really knowing it... like I said, I hadn't really thought it through. It was just some stuff that was running through my head the night before as I'd drowsed to sleep, and not really flesh out.  All I knew is that I wanted to slow Orton's push down and make it mean something when he finally made it to main events.
     
    What I ended up doing was giving Orton that singular break-out moment that he needs if he's really gonna be a headlining superstar.  Something like that could do for Orton what Survivor Series '98 did for the Rock.  Read Nick Gisonna put it this way:
     
    "The idea you have is truly magnificent, man.  The huge swerve of Evolution beating Triple H and finishing him with '...Evolution has passed you by,' would be one of the coolest storyline elements on WWE programming since the Attitude Era.  People would talk about his Breakout moment happening that night, and I'd remember it for years.  I'm now sitting here with glee anticipating Orton taking a groggy and beaten HHH's chin, uttering his new catchphrase, and then RKO-ing him. [...] So, I hope Randy doesn't beat Benoit.  I do hope that he leads a heel Evolution against HHH.  And I hope he does it similar to how you suggest. Man, I hope WWE is stealing your shit."
     
    YES!  I am AWESOME.
     
    Lesson to WWE: Christ I'm sitting here creating Seminal Moments for you, you might as well steal them.  Lesson to Readers: suck up to me and stroke my ego, and your letter may appear in these hallowed pages!  Consider it your chance to join The Rick's Kiss My Virtual Ass Club!
     
  • Or don't...  I've officially hit the "E" on the ol' gas tank when I resort to that level of self-promotion.
     
    Maybe let me channel that promotion OUTward for a moment and tell you that for as second-rate as my column was today, there's Top Shelf, Grade A Entertainment awaiting you in this weekend's Broad Perspective.
     
    It follows a tried and true OO Formula, it's got some laugh out loud moments, and if you're like me and consider gymnastics to be like the hockey of the Summer Olympics (i.e. you only get interested once every four years), then it's got plenty of Useful Information, too.  So no fair showing up just to read OO and none of the other stuff this time, OK?
     
    Alright.  That's my selfless act for today.  You all enjoy your weekends, and I'll see you again on Monday, when I'll have to attempt to appear enthusiastic for a RAW which features Randy Orton as the inexplicable #1 Contender...


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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