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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Project Orton on RAW, plus 24/7, Eddie,
Angle, Pointless Rambling, and MORE!
August 2, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Well, after the spectacular job of panty-bunching I managed to do with my preamble on Friday (re: my political cynicism), maybe I should go out of my way to be less controversial here today.

Like, I could spin the yarn about how just about the coolest thing I did this weekend was when I went grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon, I actually picked my first REALLY good watermelon of the year. I don't know why, but this year, I just haven't been doing too well at picking 'em; I mean, I'm not picking out crap, but you know what I'm talking about, right? I wonder if it's all my fault, though: Maybe the crop just hasn't been as good this year, or maybe Kroger's not got as good a selection as years past?  I dunno...  I'll say this, watermelon is probably my favorite fruit, but it's a pain in the ass to get it exactly perfect every week for the four months they are in season.  At least my Winter Fruit (grapefruits) you can't really screw them up...  

Also: the biscuits I made this morning for breakfast were exceptionally fluffy, which pleased me.  I don't even know what I did differently, but I'm sure looking forward to using a couple of the left-overs for a little midnight snack after RAW tonight!

So: how do you like me, now, huh?  Would you rather be PISSED~! at me, or bored to tears, you jerks?  Feel my wrath!  I can suck at least TWO (2) different ways!  
 

But, in an attempt to be helpful, I'll also tell you all to make an effort to check out Denis Leary's new show "Rescue Me" on FX (Wednesday nights, I think, are the first-run shows, but there are plenty of repeats).  As I explained EXACTLY 2 weeks ago in this very spot, I need enthusiastic endorsement to get introduced to new TV shows, and in this  

case, I heard about "Rescue Me" on Thursday.  I checked the schedule and had DVR catch me an episode on Friday.  I watched it on Saturday.  Then on Sunday, nothing happened because that's just the way Jesus rolls.  And now it's Monday, and I'm telling you that you'll almost certainly enjoy this show if you give it a look!  Which coming from a known hard-ass as myself means something.  There's all kinds of post-9/11 NYC firefighter drama-y stuff, there's a generally clever/edgy presentation to the show that being on cable allows for (and which was, for instance, absent from Leary's "The Job"), and there's even some low-brow humor mixed in (in the form of lambasting scrotum-waxers).  You should know Leary's M.O.: it's all about the Gritty Dramedy and Dark Humor, and in this case, it was executed pretty damn well.

I'll warn you of one thing, though: if you're like me and you're using TiVo or DVR or whatever to catch the show, be aware that there is ANOTHER show called "Rescue Me" and neither you nor I nor any sentient being should be exposed to it.  After recording Friday's episode as a one-shot lark to see if I would actually like the show, I was setting up to get all the new shows last night, and in the doing, my box tried to tell me that it was gonna record some hour long crap-a-thon on Tuesday nights on "Showtime Women's Network" that sounded like the purest soap opera tripe.  I don't need anyone catching the wrong "Rescue Me" and then accusing me of flamboyant gayness!  I have enough rampant insecurities on that front thanks to JBL and his ever-incisive and spot-on missives!  Or maybe not... but the point is: ONLY the one on FX, got it?  I fully expect that if you give it a look, you'll end up having another hour of your week wasted, courtesy of The Rick.  Or at least VIA The Rick, and courtesy of his Mysterious Benefactor....

And with that, I think you've fulfilled your FDA Daily Recommended Allowance for Wasted Time Courtesy of Me.  But I'm warning you, it's not like there's a whole lot to talk about wrestling-wise today, either:

  • Might as well start with tonight's RAW... because unless the Fed shows me something completely unexpected, the Monday Night Brand might limp into SummerSlam with the less-marketable half of the joint-PPV line-up.
     
    After last week, Randy Orton is the Randomly Generated #1 Contender to Chris Benoit's title.  The thought of Benoit/Orton headlining the second-biggest PPV of the year is baffling for a few different reasons: chief among them is the simple fact that if WWE slowed down and did a few things differently, they could have Orton in PPV main events by the fall, and it would go over like gangbusters.  Or maybe I've just become unhealthily attached to what I thought were some Very Good Ideas along those lines, as presented last Wednesday...
     
    Instead, we've got a situation where Orton's title shot comes via the very same mechanism as Kane's June PPV title shot. Which I guess worked out fine since it was a throw-away "off-month" PPV, and the title match wasn't really the main event or key selling point of the show.  And also: Kane was pretty much certain to lose, anyway, so you could put the title match on as the semi-main event, and use it as a Benoit-building outing.  But this is apparently NOT the plan for Benoit/Orton.
     
    WWE is convinced that they've done enough groundwork on Project Orton to hand him the World Title at SummerSlam. But the truth is, I don't think they've even done the ground work to justify the title shot, much less the title win.  At this juncture, the random Battle Royale win means that the more interesting story surrounding the title match at SS will be the inner workings and dynamics of Evolution as Orton tries to step up and succeed where his mentor, Triple H, failed.  It's a good story, it's a necessary story... but it's a story that needed to be set-up better than it has been.
     
    But like I said: maybe they *do*, contrary to all outward appearances, have a plan, and maybe it's a good one, and maybe we get a glimpse of why any of us should care about Randy Orton, #1 Contender starting tonight... we'll have to see.  With only two weeks to go before the show, the improvements will have to come and come fast.  As it stands right now, there's nothing even remotely compelling about the idea of Benoit and Orton on opposite sides of a PPV main event.
     
    And underneath a randomly generated title match, you've got a "semi-main event" that actually DOES have plenty of backstory, but which feels more like a gimmicky side-show than a Mammoth PPV Confrontation, in the form of Triple H vs. Eugene.  Eugene has cost HHH the World Title in two separate matches, and now you can count on HHH looking for revenge against Eugene, building up to a SummerSlam match between the two.  Which will be fun.  But it's not a second-line PPV match, in my opinion.
     
    Where RAW could quickly and easily salvage something REALLY cool is in the IC Title picture... last week, champ Edge and Chris Jericho worked together for a bit during the Battle Royale, but when push came to shove, it was every man for himself and Jericho eliminated Edge.  Edge didn't seem to appreciate that.  Given his recent tweener tendencies, I think it'd be REAL easy to set things up so that Edge comes to blows with Jericho at some point in the next two weeks to set up an IC Match for SS.  Problem is that Jericho also has seen his feud with Batista rekindled, so who knows if that's even the plan?  Let's just say that Jericho/Edge scratches me (and probably about 99.44% of the audience) where I itch in ways that Jericho/Batista never could.  [Hey, *I* didn't give you that itch!  Ummm, Scherer did!  Yeah, him!  And that'll learn you to go whoring it up behind my back, you little sluts!] I remain VERY ammenable to the idea of Jericho and Edge being joined by a true heel for a three-way match, too, but after last week, I'm thinking SD's got the claim to a 3-way match for the secondary title (Booker/RVD/Cena), and they tend not to duplicate matches that way....
     
    The other two likeliest candidates to see time on the SummerSlam PPV: Kane vs. Matt Hardy, which should FINALLY give Kane the big boost up he needs (he lost to Matt at the last PPV, and lost a follow-up match to Jericho AND got punked out by Lita) to launch him into a feud with HBK come the fall... and La Resistance vs. Tajiri/Rhyno (it's been simmering under in the form of singles matches and stuff like Tajiri eliminating both tag champs in last week's battle royale), which might actually be more of a pre-PPV Heat or RAW match, on the grounds that not everybody likes Tajiri as much as I do.
     
    And of course: the Diva Search.  Probably good for another 15 minutes of mind-numbingly bad TV tonight.  But unless they pull out another Jericho-related Dirty Trick, I'm back on DVR tonight, baby, and the magic of Time Shifting means I shan't have to watch.
     
    So grab some couch tonight and check out RAW... it oughta be a VERY instructive show in terms of helping us figure out exactly where the brand stands, momentum-wise, heading into SummerSlam.  But if you must miss the show: well, get yer ass back here to OO tomorrow, cuz I'll have the best damned RAW Recap in all the land to get you caught up to speed.
     
  • FYI: although RAW tonight is in San Antonio, TX, I wouldn't get my hopes up about Shawn Michaels making his surprise return to TV just yet.  As we talked about last week, the current plan is for Shawn to return at some point in September, and maybe not start his PPV match series with Kane until the experimental October Tuesday night show.
     
    In fact, if memory serves, Shawn's wife is due to give birth at some point REAL soon (I remember hearing a few months ago that it was August SomeSingleDigit), so who even knows if he'll bother leaving the house to go hang out backstage?
     
    And yeah, Steve Austin lives around there, too, but now you're REALLY barking up the wrong tree, kids....
     
  • If you're wondering why I'm so resigned to the idea of an essentially uninspired RAW, it's because the "conventional wisdom" and rumors about Benoit/Orton and HHH/Eugene seem to be dead on after this weekend's house shows...  those were the top two matches, as the Fed starts letting the guys work together to get acclimated before SummerSlam.
     
    So forget all about my wild and crazy ideas about slowing down and actually giving Randy Orton his "break out moment" before rushing ahead with his PPV title shot.  They're just gonna keep plugging away and staying the course, if the house show dry-runs are any indication.
     
    And I'm sorry to keep on harping on it, cuz I really don't mean to come off bitter just because I had fantasy booking ideas that go unused.  I *know* I'm just putzing around, keeping my mind nimble, and ultimately engaging in mere masturbation... but in this specific case, I *am* a bit put out because instead of the usual internet jack-off fantasy booking, I was NOT building to some magical candyland of Extreme Workrate: I was trying to get WWE exactly where they WANT to go, to the point of Randy Orton, PPV Main Eventer.  And it pains me to think that the only think dividing us is the matter of how soon it needs to happen... because if we can just agree to slow down, can't we also agree that for once, I Am Right?  AAAARRRRRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!  The pain.
     
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! stuck at a 3.1, same as the prelim rating.  That's a drop back down, as it looks like SD! has lost a bit of ratings momentum these last two weeks, even though the show continues to be very strong in terms of content.
     
  • The "WWE 24/7" video-on-demand project is picking up steam, and is looking like it could be a reality by year's end.  A recent trade-paper article actually has details about pricing (projected to be somewhere between $6 and $10 per month for subscribers) and says that announcements of distribution deals with individual cable providers like Time Warner, et al, could be coming within a month.
     
    I think I pretty well said my piece about this back when the project was announced, but let me reiterate: WWE needs to be very careful about launching this thing, because they have a unique opportunity to do something so TOTALLY kick-ass that it might become an indispensable part of any wrestling fan's cable line-up.  But they also run the risk of running short on subscribers if they end up scrimping and only appeal to the most hardcore of fan...
     
    An example: my HBO tier of channels costs me $10 a month, and included in that are the 10 or so pre-set HBO channels AND an "HBO On Demand" channel.  Now, I'm as big a wrestling fan as you'll find, but even if you only count the "on demand" part of the HBO package, I'm accustomed to a certain amount of value for my money.  For $10 a month, I get about 30 hours of original series, at least 30 or 35 big Hollywood Motion Pictures, and then some assorted specials/documentaries/etc.  I've never actually done the math, but if it's less than 100 hours of content, I'll eat a bug.  And best: it's updated every week, with about 20 percent of the stuff cycling out, and new stuff taking its place (especially handy for the Original Series, and for a guy like me who is only NOW getting around to getting familiar with The Sopranos).
     
    The point? Well, when originally announced, WWE was talking in terms of 20 hours or so of content rotated weekly, and hadn't formalized a pricing plan.  At 20 hours, I almost thought they should offer the service for free to subscribers, and use it as a marketing tool to get people to watch more WWE TV and PPVs.  Because at $10 a month, I don't think anyone familiar with the capabilities of on-demand programming are gonna be impressed with 20 hours of content.  Except maybe the truly hardcore fan.
     
    I look at it this way: WWE has a chance to positively OWN the market. If they do 100 hours of programming per week, with a fifth of it rotating out in weekly updates, you can essentially rope in a couple different markets by breaking your 100 hours down into niches.  Maybe 10 hours of your content is Current Events and Brand Building (the latest RAW/SD! shows, maybe a recent DVD/Fanatic Series Release or two, and definitely PPVs on a 1-or-2-month-delay basis) to appeal to current WWE fans... but from there, you do a couple other things.
     
    I think you generate 10 hours a week of rotating content based on a "Hogan Era" theme (episodes of Superstar and Challenge, and always with some Major Event, be it a PPV, or an SNME, or and MSG house show, or something, updated weekly in a linear fashion) to rope in the nostalgia fans who grew up on the WWF.... then 10 hours a week of rotating content based on 80s NWA (TBS's Saturday Night Show, Clashes of the Champions, other special events) to rope in the OTHER half of the nostalgia audience...  8 hours a week on "dark ages" WWF (post Hogan, pre-Attidue)... 8 hours a week on the same time frame of WCW (post-NWA, pre-Nitro)...  10 hours a week on Attitude Era WWF... 10 hours a week of Nitro/Monday Night War Era WCW....  10 hours a week of ECW... 10 hours a week of Brand Split/WWE-era shows... and 15 hours a week of Everything Else (super-old-school WWWF/Bruno Era, Memphis/SMW/Texas/AWA and other tape libraries WWE bought up, etc.).
     
    And there, you'd have 100 hours.  With about 20 hours worth of older shows cycled in and the next updates added in every Monday.  Maybe not EXACTLY like this, but broken down into a few different timelines/niches.  And of course, not many fans would watch ALL of it.  But the point is, there'd be something there for SO MANY fans that I think it'd be well worth $10 a month even if you're only interested in two or three of the 10-hour niches.  Think about it: with a line-up like this, you'd not only cement your existing audience with more current-events type stuff, but you'd probably steal more than a few PPV dollars away from TNA since you'd have ECW and old indie stuff that appeals to that sort of ultra-dedicated audience.
     
    Holding it all together, I think, should be a 15 minute "This week on 24/7" mini-show that (a) outlines where each of the niche markets is in its timeline and pointing out if there are any super-huge historical moments for fans to check out and stuff like that, and (b) should be given away for free to non-subscribers, because I think it'd rope in even more people.  I figure a show like this should be hosted by some known Wrestling Intellectual such as myself.  Or in lieu of The Me, my surrogate Smart Guy In Glasses, Todd Grisham.  Or more likely (just to piss me off) Josh Mathews.  But the point is, you do a quick show every week to guide fans through each of the niches and to rope in new viewers.
     
    The lesson here is that I honestly don't think wrestling fans will let themselves be hoodwinked: if WWE wants to CHARGE like other cable networks have for on-demand service, they need to DELIVER like them, too.  And if WWE delivers, I think it could well turn into one of the most awesome resources for wrestling fans ever in the history of time and space.  
     
    More about 24/7 as it comes to market.  Hopefully in the not too distant future.
     
  • Eddie Guerrero was again off the weekend SD! house shows, and like I said last week, I think the plan is to just hold him off next weekend as well, and to also limit his physicality at TV tapings, too...  they want to take as few risks as possible heading into SummerSlam and his match against Kurt Angle.
     
    Angle, on the other hand, was on the house shows, and worked against John Cena.  So apparently he's doing just fine and dandy.  No idea on whether the matches against Cena should be considered a "dry run" for Angle's return-to-TV match against a "mystery opponent" this week... but it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.
     
  • John Heidenreich was also on SD! house shows, and on the one show I got a review from, it was against Shannon Moore, it was ugly, and it was not Shannon's fault.
     
    Again, as I mentioned a couple weeks back: big vignettes, Paul Heyman, and all, pretty much everybody is saying the idea is just for Heidenreich to come in, lay down for the Taker, and then likely be gone.  So don't worry TOO much.
     
  • Brock Lesnar hasn't been cut from the Minnesota Vikings.  Yet. But like I said last week, the odds are sure stacked against him.
     
    You can get a more in-depth explanation of what Lesnar's up against in this KFAN article.  Here's a quote: "Lesnar's footwork was below-average. His hands were worse. [...] Getting a contract was one thing. Making the 53-man roster, or even the practice squad, will be another task entirely. Tice has acknowledged that Lesnar will have to fight for one of the eight spots on the taxi squad."
     
    Thanks to those who passed along the link!

     
  • And you know what?  Maybe I can't get out of here without explaining myself a bit from Friday's preamble... cuz it really did get me a MUCH greater volume of e-mail than I thought it would: about three pissy mails about Kerry/Bush for every one that I got about anything I'd said wrestling-related. Which is surprising, since (a) I knew I had a shitty column and didn't even think very many people would be reading it, and (b) I figured if I'd pissed ANYone off, it'd have been TNA loyalists, and (c) you SHOULD have been spending your Feedback Time telling Erin how good her column was instead of getting in my face over a complete throw-away tangent.
     
    If I'd known it was gonna be a Federal Case, I would have put more thought into my presentation and wording...  because that was pretty perfunctory and crappy.  But I stand by my basic premise: that any one of you who is genuinely enthusiastic or excited to be voting for either Bush or Kerry is probably just a party-liner or some partisan knob-gobbler. And yes, just to get this out of the way (since it was mentioned as a reason why some of you thought you were justified to be excited about voting in November), it goes the same if you're genuinely fired up to be voting AGAINST one candidate or another without even giving a damn who you're voting FOR.  You know what I'm talking about.
     
    To clear this up: I was not really trying to equate Bush and Kerry as identical individuals.  Gimme some credit.  I wasn't saying that John Kerry possesses sub-normal intelligence or is beholden to the Jesus freaks, nor did I mean to intimate that Bush is every bit as devoid of actual personal convictions or personal charisma as Kerry.  What I was really getting at was the fact that both men are mere extensions of their respective party's apparatus, and I find that infuriating and frustrating and grounds for being a total douchebag and cynic when it comes to discussing politics.  The launch pad for Friday's rant was simple appreciation for "The Daily Show," which despite having pretty clear liberal leanings, was smart and honest enough to skewer the Democratic National Convention at every turn, exposing it for the bloated, masturbatory exercise that it was.  I fully expect that they'll do the same for the Republicans in a few weeks.  And I'll love it then, too.
     
    So sue me if I exist firmly in the middle, and am smart enough to see through Kerry and Bush when they attempt to appeal to me while still not pissing off their "core constituency" (read: party-liners and partisan knob-gobblers).  It's condescending, and it's the ultimate in sac-less behavior that has come to define politicians in this country.  An AWESOME example: John Kerry was being interviewed on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball a week ago, and after being all Bold And Assertive on such Pressing Matters of National Importance such as the DH Rule (BOO! says Kerry), he was asked about Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame.  Instantly, Kerry went into blithering idiot mode, trying to sound like a Rose fan (because Ohio is probably one of the three most important/undecided states in the upcoming election) while also trying to sound like a Rose hater (because the rest of America doesn't like Pete as much as Ohio does).  In so doing, he only sounded like an idiot and My Exact Idea of a politician: he merely needs to be good at getting elected, and from there, he's just part of the party machine.  If Kerry can find a way to waffle on The Pete Rose Issue (which clearly doesn't mean jackshit at the national/political level, but which his handlers must have coached him on as a "hot button" issue), I can only assume he'd take equivocation to all new levels on issues that DO matter.
     
    And I don't mean to single out Kerry, here: there's plenty about Bush I don't like, too. It's just that for my case, Kerry has provided the best recent example of frustrating behavior.
     
    So what I was really getting at is that Kerry and Bush really are essentially equals in terms of both being pandering front men for their parties with no real spines, ideas, or personalities of their own. And when neither party comes anywhere NEAR close to speaking to me, I hope you can see where that leaves me kind of cynical and pissy.  Even more so when I *do* see members of each party who COULD excite me because they DO exhibit independent thinking and DO seem to have developed their very own intelligent, internally-consistent world views (much as I have, and even if I don't agree with them point-by-point, I can actually respect the process)... off the top of my head, Biden and McCain are the two I like.  And of course, the very things I like about each of them makes them completely and utterly unelectable to the Top Office because the party apparatuses would never allow it.
     
    Everybody gets all out-spoken and self-righteous when talking about how more people need to vote, and think that just saying "Voting is Good" will do the trick.  NO!  And when the parties talk about getting more people out to vote, I'm not even entirely sure they're being honest, either: they don't want to take that chance... because to mobilize the 50% of the nation that doesn't vote, you might (GASP) have to risk alienating the 15% or so of the nation who are in your pocket already.  Do you see how ass-backwards the whole thing is?  The parties actually have a vested interest in NOT adding new free-thinking, free-wheeling independent voters who might turn on them the next election... they want to stick to fortifying their base, and then mostly only pander half-assedly to the disenfranchised majority.  So far this election, I hope the Hispanic voters out there feel more condescended-to than they feel spoken-to, for instance....
     
    Again: do you understand my cynicism, yet?  I hope so, because I don't need any more e-mail bitching at me for ripping Kerry by comparing him to Bush or for ripping Bush by comparing him to Kerry.  I know I didn't do a good job explaining myself Friday, but you also all did miss the point: I'm ripping on everybody equally!  
     
    But still, I sit here in a Key Battleground State, and I promise you my cynicism will NOT stop me from paying attention, doing my reading, and resignedly picking one of these two to vote for come November.  Cuz I may be a cynic.  But I got my Third Party Swerve out of the way by voting for Perot in my first election, and I DO care about doing my part to help pick the lesser of two evils.
     
  • OK, that's enough.  I'll close with another Current Events Observation that will hopefully leave us all Happy and Shiny, instead of brooding and wanting to punch me in the face...
     
    The big baseball trade over the weekend (Nomar to the Cubs, Meink...Man... The 1B from Minnesota and Cabrerra to the Red Sox; and then a few other players to other teams to even it all out) left me to realize one big thing: both teams got better.  And now I think it's only a matter of time before FOX gets that Dream World Series they were salivating over last year, before Aaron Boone and Steve Bartman had their say.
     
    Cubs vs. Red Sox in the Hell Freezes Over Series...  I think that'd be pretty cool.  And I mean this in the nicest possible way: GO CUBS! The Sox deserve to have the knife twisted in their gut again after the way they screwed themselves out of Nomar last offseason, en route to screwing themselves out of ARod...  it might not quite be the Curse of the Bambino, but I'd love to have it be Nomar who keeps the Sox from winning in their next visit to the World Series.
     
    Well, maybe not EVERYBODY is happy and shiny...  but a little collateral damage in and around Beantown is fine by me.  I think mostly, we'd all just love to see it come down to a World Series between the lovable losers.
     
  • I apologize for quite possibly the Lowest Wrestling Content Ratio in OO in recent memory...  blame the source material (seriously, what'd we really have to talk about, huh?), and gimme credit for at least being an extremely witty and stimulating conversationalist, completely unlike the random-tangent-spewing morons on most other websites!
     
    And if you can't bring yourself to agree with that Brutally Honest Assessment of myself, well, then at least know that I'll try to be better when I come at you with tomorrow's RAW Recap and then again on Wednesday with spoilers, ratings, and all the midweek news and views.

    See you then....


  
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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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