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A Partial Breakdown of RAW, WWE.com
Sucking Less?, and Other Midweek News...
August 4, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


An about face from me: this time, I say THANKS for all the e-mail support from my Monday rant (re: my political cynicism). 
I'm not sure if it's just that I explained myself better, or if the people who were so pissed over my abortive Friday rant suddenly realized "My god, he's right, I've been such a tool," or what, but it seems I hit some kind of a chord with a majority of readers.  The only thing that bugs me: again, I had about 3 e-mails about my political ramblings for ever 1 e-mail about

anything wrestling related.  Which is probably not what we should be shooting for, right?  Probably my own damn fault for having 3 times the Pointless Rambling than Actual Wrestling Content on Monday...

So today, I'll cut the preamble, and just get to the wrestling, and if the column is super-short, well, that's what you get for telling me you don't like my rambling ways:

  • Per custom, how about we start with Monday's RAW?  Cuz I thought the hands-down star of the night was one William Regal.
    Except guess what?  I can't talk about that today.
    Nope.  Because it turns out OOur Favorite Broad is traveling this week, and decided to finish up and submit a column extra-early so I'd have it to run on Friday. And the topic: the many ways in which William Regal rules.  Last night, Erin claimed to me that she wrote most of it on Monday, in an orgy of inspiration after RAW... but her theses were uncannily similar to what I put in the RAW Recap and what I *wanted* to expand upon here today. What sort of perverted brand of witchcraft are you practicing, Anderson?  I don't know exactly what to believe or what the timelines were on our respective observations or which one of us is really scooping the other's heat... it's still creepy that the only real divergence was in our interpretation of one of Regal's lines from the passage we both agreed was key to his entire promo.  I even sent Erin scrambling to the VCR on that one; but I think we agreed to disagree.
    The moral of the story? I'm a nice guy and I'll let her have this one, so if you want to know more about how awesome I think William Regal is and how he stole the show on RAW, you'll have to wait till Friday to hear about it.  And you'll have to hear about it in a column that's not even mine. The Broad Perspective by Erin Anderson: I couldn't have will have been already saying it better myself! 
    And yes, while you take about 5 minutes to figure out what convoluted new verb tense I created for this unique situation, I'm scrambling to find a new primary topic to harp on from RAW....
    I got it...  my new thesis: William Regal was the highlight of RAW, but he SHOULDN'T have been.  Because me and other intelligent, like-minded fans sitting here obsessing over Regal's kick-ass promo and brawl with HHH only serves to further underscore just how lacking Randy Orton's main event push has been.
    Yes, they give Orton the pinfall win over Benoit in the very good main event match.  But it was kind of the obvious and only possible finish they COULD have done.  Yes, they tried to give Orton's push a bit of heft by introducing the concept of "destiny." But "destiny" is such a freaking flimsy plot device, and it was introduced in a promo that was a Return to Below Averageness by Young Randall, so I don't think that really worked.  In short, Benoit vs. Orton is still your RAW main event at the second-biggest show of the year, and I STILL DON'T KNOW WHY.  Orton should have been the Story of RAW, but he wasn't.  
    And since I'm having to digress to my b-topic here, let me flesh things out by directly addressing the many folks who e-mailed in, telling me that for all my recent claims about coming to tolerate Orton and that I don't hate him any more, they were disgusted by my recap, because it was so obviously a hack-job on Randy, and my previous comments were just a smoke screen.
    My retort: believe whatever you want.  I have nothing better to do with my life than spend hours a week lying about how I now find Randy Orton to be a passable performer and a potential main event superstar AND coming up with kick-ass ideas for how to get him there, just so I can trick the masses into thinking I'm an Orton Lover and then SWERVE~! everybody by suddenly revealing my true colors.  If that makes sense to you, then fine, entertain yourself with that theory.  The rest of us will be sitting over here laughing at you.
    The truth is that yes, Orton has a lot more work to do if I'm ever gonna be as big a fan of him as I am of half the rest of the roster. But the corollary to that is that I DO think he's better than half the roster, and especially over the last six months, he's getting better every week...  I'm being totally honest when I say I look ahead and see years of PPV main events and world titles for Orton, and I can't really be too pissed about it.
    But none of that takes away from two things: (1) that I don't think the time and place for this is now, and (2) no matter how you slice it, Orton didn't have a particularly strong outing on Monday's RAW (neither in terms of what the creative team gave him to work with, nor his own performance, especially in that sloppily-delivered and unconvincing promo).  How is me pointing those things out wrong?
    Look, I could do a whole lot more on this, but this isn't the time and place.  We're in another one of those weeks where Danny's not doing a SD! recap, so I might just do that and call it my Friday effort.  But if I don't, I might reprise this topic for a full-blown think-piece.  I can see it now: "101 Things Wrong With Randy Orton Headlining SummerSlam."  Or maybe not...  We'll see.
    What else from RAW?  Hmmmm... loved all the Regal/HHH stuff, but can't talk about it... didn't think much of anything was accomplished with Orton, although that main event did rule for all its predictability....  
    OH!  How about Edge and Jericho kicking things up a notch on the Highlight Reel?  As is my custom, I'm a fan of ambiguity, and although all signs point towards Edge being a tweener, and fan response seemed to be behind Y2J, I love the way they didn't make either one of the guys an obvious babyface. In every significant way, those two really are the story of the IC Title match at SummerSlam, overshadowing Jericho's lingering issue with Batista.  But I don't think we should lose sight of Batista, either: with the ham-handed way they are handling Orton's push, I've officially lost track of what seems like the logical thing to do with the implosion of Evolution, but it wouldn't surprise me Orton and Batista both holding the top two RAW titles somehow figured in... of course, this isn't the scenario I WANT to play out, but the way the E is going, they clearly aren't booking Monday night's to satisfy the Rick Scaia Demographic. [Off the top of my head, if they want a new Evolution with both the top two titles, I'd almost rather have SS be the reveal of some huge swerve where Edge wins and joins the group, because at least that way, Jericho is still the top contender and has still got something cool to do.]
    And I was also a fan of the decisive non-title win for Tajiri and Rhyno over La Resistance.  I've long held that the appeal of Tajiri and Rhyno is in their bad-ass-ness, which might seem counter-intuitive considering they are career WWE mid-carders who don't exactly possess sparkling winning percentages. But that's not their fault: when they are presented correctly, fans WILL oooh and ahhh and accept them as Ass-Kickers Extraordinaire.  It's not unlike how William Regal showcased a very unusual and unique brand of bad-assery on Monday.  But dammit, I can't go there... suffice to say that segments like the tag match on Monday are what will remind the fans at large of what I, myself, am already convinced of: that Tajiri and Rhyno are good.  Really good.
    I think at this point, I'll just tell you that if you need any further elaboration about last night RAW -- including the full details from every match/segment, my always-witty analysis and smart-ass commentary, and SPOILERS~! for Friday's Broad Perspective -- you really shouldn't go any further until you've stepped back and read yesterday's OO RAW Recap.  
    Once you've done that, we can move on....
  • The rating for last night's RAW was a 3.8 cable rating.  Kind of surprisingly, that's a gain of a few tenths from last week's 3.6.  I say "surprisingly" because there was absolutely NOTHING in terms of pre-hype-able content Monday night, whereas last week, fans spent a week in breathless anticipation of Iron Man 4.
    Obviously, I could posit that the last two weeks of ratings clearly illustrates the the general populace of wrestling fans doesn't give two shits about 60 minute wrestling matches but DOES show up in droves to watch the start of the Young Randall Orton Era.  Except if I posited that, I'd have to punch myself in the nut-sac for being Part of The Problem.
    So I'll just report the rating, and leave the making up stupid implications to you.
  • Many have sent me e-mails encouraging me to check out WWE.com... you'll have to pardon me for laughing off the first few, but finally they did reach a critical mass last night.
    The deal is this: there are a bunch of web-exclusive clips from RAW, including footage of William Regal being stitched up after the attack by HHH.  There's also a Rhyno/Tajiri interview after their non-title win, and a collection of Evolution Lite promos.  All were quite fun and entertaining in their own ways.
    There was also a clip talking to the Diva Search loser. But, as you know: I Don't Watch Crap.  If I thought there was a way it would send a message to WWE, I would have downloaded it, hit play, and then FF'ed the whole thing, but somehow I don't think that'd accomplish much....
    Anyway, I guess "Thanks for the heads-up, y'all."  I'm not exactly sure it's anything I'll put on my weekly to-do list, and am much more grateful for friends' recent endorsements of "Da Ali G Show" and "Rescue Me," but it does mark another step forward in WWE.com's redefinition of itself and its role.
    In short, that redefinition is that the website is "Part of the Show."  All the promos were done a BIT casually, yes, but also were all done completely in character.  The casualness meant, for instance, that Randy Orton came off about a thousand times better than he did in his promo that actually aired on RAW... but ultimately, it wasn't anything that any fan needs to see for the TV stories to make sense, nor anything that the "smart" fan would care about because it added information or context above and beyond the TV stories.

    From a Guy With Business School Degree Perspective, I definitely applaud the Fed for trying to expand the depth of content they offer online. If they want to do a "part of the show" reason to hype the site on RAW, this is SO much cooler than a bullshit poll question that doesn't mean or accomplish anything.  Ultimately, I'd LOVE to see them take this even further, and integrate all the bonus footage INTO the live show every Monday.  
    Here's what I mean: Tajiri/Rhyno win a non-title match, but the show is packed and we can't talk to them on SpikeTV. But during a later Tomko/Rosey match, they do that bottom-of-the-screen crawl, and tell you "Now on WWE.com, Tajiri and Rhyno talk about their big win!"...  if they keep having about 3-5 bonus clips on the website, they could EASILY be pimped in semi-real-time on RAW with the 2 crawlers.  And then, during the main event, add a third crawl (or just an outright plug by King/JR) that announces something like "Immediately after RAW, join Todd Grisham for an exclusive post-match interview with Evolution Lite."  It'd lend a real-event feel to the show, giving fans a way to tune in to the "post-game press conference."  I hope I'm explaining this clearly...
    To me, the key is doing it IN REAL TIME like this.  Because I'm thinking in terms of how you get a Viewer Like Me to sign up for the "Backstage Pass" (I figure the E can do this for free to start, just collecting e-mail addresses will be valuable enough, but maybe it is a monthly charge, eventually).  Bonus clips from RAW have no value to me on Tuesday afternoon; at that point, they are essentially the same thing to me as Sunday Night Heat.  And the novelty of being able to download them onto my computer does not override the fact that there are very good reasons why I don't bother watching Heat 9 weeks out of 10.
    BUT: if you integrate all this stuff (2-3 bonus clips, a "post-game press conference," maybe one or two real time polls that might actually mean something if you put some thought into them) into the real time pacing of RAW, I could get into that.  During the time I'm on the couch on Monday, I'm in Wrestling Fan mode, willingly and enthusiastically. It's a different kind of mode than what I'm in now, off by just a few degrees.  The me that sits down for RAW on Mondays might see "Tajiri/Rhyno promo NOW!" during a Tyson Tomko match, and run to his computer to watch during the next commercial.  And speaking of "next commercial," making RAW an immersive two-hour multi-pronged experience is something WWE could do to get me off this time-shifting/DVR thing and get me back to Real Time Viewing.  If I knew I could go into the next room and check out RAW's "b-roll" when the "a-roll" is in commercials or is sucking, I'd DEFINITELY go back to Real Time.
    With more and more people having high-speed internet, and with more and more people having high-speed internet on their TVs (or like me, just a quick 20 foot walk from my couch to a PC), I think trying to create this experience would be an excellent way for WWE to go with this new content.  There you go, Shane O-Mac: I'm sick of giving creative all my good free ideas, so here's one for you and your department.
    Again, the important thing is integrating all this in real time.  Cuz frankly, if that stuff doesn't go up online till Tuesday next week, I'll probably just take a pass, no matter how many people e-mail me about it.  There's time for being a total mark and into the show, and there's a time for the other side of my fandom.  WWE may not care about cracking the tough nut that is Rick Scaia, but I gotta assume that a lot of fans out there are kinda like me.  
    So I guess what I'm getting at is: if this spells the absolute end of any pretense of WWE's online presence being smarter or more "inside" or whatever, then part of me is disappointed, because I honestly do feel like (rantings of HHH or Flair aside) there are good reasons to pander to a smart crowd, and even better ones to NOT INSULT THEM with a watered down "New Work," and to make money off them with a genuinely smart online presence.  But if the New Work is dead and the Total Online Work lives in its place?  Hey, I guess that might actually be a step forward.  It's just that WWE needs to bust ass to make the Total Online Work a part of a typical fan's agenda; typical fans have Monday Night set aside for wrestling.  They do NOT have Wednesday evening set aside for RAW Part 2, though.  A fan who's concerned about wrestling on a Wednesday is more likely to be the type of fan who's looking at content like this!  I'm SURE of it.
  • A few other things: WWE.com is also ramping up its broadband video offerings.  They actually HAVE stolen an idea of mine from a couple years ago (not a particularly creative one, though), and set up a "Jukebox" section where fans can pick from 20 matches.  You can either pay $1.50 per match, or $4 for one-month access to all the matches.  A very neat idea, and maybe a harbinger of the 24/7 video-on-demand service....
    Also, for their webcasts of PPVs, WWE has started packaging in Bonus Matches.  I think they did this first for the Great American Bash...  whichever PPV was the first where the webcast cost the same as the actually PPV, anyway.  I'm not sure I see value-add of having 10 hours of bonus matches to go with the 3 hour PPV...  this is more an issue of how I think it'd be really hard to sit in an office chair and watch a PPV for 3 hours, so what would I do with an extra 10 hours of footage?
    Again, I guess maybe this is WWE actually getting ahead of the curve for once, and looking to market to the people who do have high-speed internet on their TVs or something...  because to me, PPVs online were and still ARE a neat idea for people maybe needing an alternative to digital cable packages or who just would rather get a half-quality webcast of a show at half-price because they are lonely, lonely people with no friends and who don't want to pay for the whole thing by themselves.  Or something. 
    But whatever.  I have a feeling that as soon as I get past my personal aversion to being One Of Those Guys (you know, the creepy, poor-hygeiene-having, taking-the-Lord-of-the-Rings-a-little-too-seriously type) who has a network in his house and can talk for hours about token rings and LANs and WANs and that crap, then I'll probably split my Road Runner, and suddenly realize the pure genius of Shane McMahon's Master Plan: imagine, if you buy the webcast, PPV Sundays become all-day extravaganzas!  Get the friends over early and watch your choice of bonus matches on the TV!  Then flip back over for Heat on SpikeTV!  Then flip back to the net for the PPV at a reasonably decent level of video quality (I assume, right?).  Then hop on over to the Jukebox, and make use of my $4 monthly membership for a few nightcap matches!  And then remember to vote for the Diva Search!  And then realize I have become a total pawn of WWE.com!  
    You know, this stuff is pretty cool.  And it's even more fun to think about and to ponder the possibilities.  Screw the jerks in creative who've told me point blank I'm unhirable because of my salty past as an internet jerk-off!  I need to get a job in the New Media Department, where the only measure of my genius would be how much money I can add to the bottom line, and NOT how many months I've invested in mocking the current WWE champion!
    Enough. The point is, the Fed's online presence could kind of adopt a new slogan if they wanted to: "WWE.com: Maybe We're Not for You Smart Fans, but We're Definitely Sucking Less!"....
  • A little birdy told me I'm probably wrong about that Shawn Michaels not having his PPV match with Kane till the experimental October PPV...  apparently, there is a strong belief that RAW will use that as a staple for September's PPV, at least in some quarters.
    Don't know if I was the one working with outdated information, or what, but... anyway, it's not so much a question of when Shawn will be back on TV (that'll be within the first couple weeks after SummerSlam), it's a question of how they play his character. About 10 days ago, a scenario was laid out to me that Shawn would return to TV in a still-partially-injured state so as to milk the signing of the first match with Kane till October.  I guess now this guy's telling me Shawn will just pop back up on TV here within the next month, fully healed and ready to go.  Both schools of thought have their pluses and minuses, so who knows?
  • At present, John Cena will be disappearing from SD! just about as Michaels is getting re-situated on RAW...  Cena will be busy filming "The Marine" for most of September, but at present, I guess they think he'll be back for (or able to work his schedule around) SD!'s PPV in October.  "The Marine," obviously, is pretty low-budget and a starter-project for WWE Films, so a 4-5 week shooting schedule isn't exactly surprising....
  • Nothing really new or exciting on the Brock Lesnar front...  he's getting put through his paces in Vikings training camp, and though he's busting ass, few observers are giving him a chance to make the final roster.
    One thing: a few people have mailed in to say they heard that in a recent interview, Brock referred to Rena "Sable" Mero as his fiancÚ...  I guess that would count as news.  Kind of.  Though realistically, it's been no secret the two were a couple, so I guess it's only news if you're a big fan of finding out that they've Made It Official.  
  • Um, I guess last thing for today is to quickly talk about tonight's TNA PPV.  Last Friday, I ranted at length about the many ways TNA has failed to use "Impact" as a tool to inspire me to get interested in Wednesday PPVs...  but as bland and squash-laden as last week's Impact turned out to be, it turned out it didn't matter who formulaically and incompetently they hyped tonight's line-up: it's still a pretty solid looking show.
    If you could get past the utterly-inane idea that Dusty Rhodes and Vince Russo should be anywhere NEAR feuding, and if you could get past throw-away 3 minute matches, you could listen in between the lines and get REAL excited for what SHOULD be a tremendous match between AJ Styles and Kid Kash. Even if you discount the swerve-y and pseudo-shoot-y way it came to be (is Kash really fired? is it an angle to mark time during an injury? was he really fired and it became an angle?), it simply doesn't matter.  Because (a) these two are just awesome and the match should be great, and (b) regardless of WHY it didn't happen a month ago, the fact is our appetites WHERE whetted in July, and now we've had to wait till now, and that just makes it all the more enticing to think about how good it'll be.  Hell, I've almost talked myself into buying the show, now...
    And on the second line: Raven vs. Sabu.  Yeah, it's real easy for me to sit here and tell you how I can't help but notice that Today's Sabu is about a 3/4 speed version of the Sabu I knew and loved in ECW.  And I could be a jack-ass and say these two are simply cashing in on the legacy of ECW, and that whatever they do tonight will pale in comparison to what might have been back in 1997.  But I won't.  Because there's also still a part of me that thinks stuff like how Original Star Trek reruns are cool and that Nirvana and wearing flannels has never gone out of style...  you know what I mean, just stuff that, at various points in your life gets so ingrained that you're going to be fond of it forever and ever.  In college, watching ECW rise to national prominence and making road trips to Philly for weekends of show is something I did that pretty much ensures that I can't help but think fondly of Raven and Sabu...  it might be a few years too late, but I'm sure any fan who was around 7-8 years ago would probably revert back to that stage tonight when Raven and Sabu take to the ring.
    Beyond that, it's actually just business-as-usual for TNA, with the only other thing I remember being vaguely interested in being Kazarian/Shane vs. Lynn/Sabin in match that should help shape the direction of the X Division for the near term.  I think they are also promising some sort of promo/angle with Jeff Jarrett and Jeff Hardy which should also tie in to the aforementioned Russo/Rhodes issue, and beyond that, ummm...  well, let's just say All Your Favorite TNA Superstars Will Be There!
    Like I said, I'm not entirely convinced that TNA is doing their best on using Impact to hype these PPVs... but that doesn't take away from the fact that on this night, they've got two top matches that really are just about as appealing as any they've slapped together on the same show in a long time.  Check it out, if it is your wont.
    And if it's not your wont, well, it might be on a seriously delayed basis, but OO just might be featuring a little something about tonight's event in the future... we'll see.
  • And with that, I'm done.  Same deal as last week: I'll be here with something new on Friday, I just don't know what.  Maybe I'll cover the SD! Recap, but more likely, I'll have to cover the headline spot with an actual full-length OO...   tune in and find out.  Either way, I'll see you then.   

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
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RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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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