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RAW and Ratings, Sayonara Sable, More
Hulk Drama, and Other Midweek News... 
August 11, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Can somebody check this: it's August, right?
Because after I pulled my little "oh, it's 94 degrees for more than 2 days in a row and I can't stand it" diva act last week, I sit before you today pretty sure that if I wanted to sit on my porch and have a couple beers listening to the Reds game tonight, I'd probably need to pull out a sweater or a jacket, or something. They're talking about it getting down into the 

40s tonight.  In August.  I'd boast some more about my good fortune, except that as soon as I do, I'll probably end up with some horseshit like a week straight of 90s in late September.  So I shan't jinx myself.

And who am I kidding? The Reds?!?  That ship has sailed, my friends. We have officially entered the The Rick Turns Into a Yankees-Loving Douchebag So He Still Has a Team To Cheer For in October portion of the season! And to all of you have feel the need, upon this annual proclamation of mine, to send me pissy e-mails about how you hate bandwagon jumpers and frontrunners and whatever else: screw off, I actually DO come by Yankee fandom honestly, regardless of my current geographic proximity to Cincinnati.  Just take my word for it!  Or don't!  I couldn't care less!

Here's some wrestling:

  • I'm kind of surprised with the feedback to Monday's RAW... I gave it a generally positive review in the RAW Recap yesterday, and I didn't think there was much of anything y'all would dispute. Yeah, maybe not much of anything was done to really make SummerSlam feel like a big show, but using the "Was It Still Fun To Watch For Two Hours?" heuristic, I thought it was a solid outing.
    The backlash to my recap was the strongest I recall in 2 months (since the RAW in Dayton where I had a blast, and got a Tajiri match while you got a 6 minute Joe Schmo promo), and I guess maybe part of the problem was the same this time around: they fire up the Diva Search bits, and I'm on a 40 minute Time Shift, so I can just FF my little heart out.  And my interest and enthusiasm in the show is not killed the same as yours, I guess.  All I know is that it seemed like an AWFUL lot of people took the time to e-mail me about how poor they thought RAW was, and how the Diva Search crap is what ruined it for them.  [There was a corollary, as well, related to the Diva Dodgeball Announcement; apparently THAT has really bunched some panties, where as *I* see it as the possible first half-way useful bit they do... more on that later.]
    All things Kane, Matt, and Lita sucked ass, too.  I honestly don't know what they think they are doing: this storyline has already severely crippled the once-bad-ass Lita, it's once again reduced Kane to a Perverted Hornball (see Vick Comma Katie), and Matt just exists in the middle reacting to stuff that nobody cares about instead of building a character of his own.  I could not care less what happens in the "Till Death Do Us Part Match," I could not care less who fathered Lita's baby (and seriously, I KNOW they think they're being clever with the subtle omissions, but if they make the shocking revelation a month from now that the baby's DNA also does NOT match Kane's will any of us perk up? A virgin birth? Or is it more like the retarded The Force Spermies that conceived Anakin Skywalker in the absence of a father in the shitty-ass "Star Wars Episode One," as part of George Lucas' laughably ham-handed attempt to bludgeon us over the head with Darth Vader as a Christ Figure?  Maybe Lita's offspring was conceived to bring Balance to The Suck?)... but this is another case where I'm so resigned to it being awful that I don't let it get me down too much.  And this week?  I dunno why, but I was getting a kick out of Kane's acting; as stupid as everything around him is, he was the embodiment of "I've got you idiots by the balls, and I couldn't be happier."  But trust me, that all still sucked.
    Then beyond that, I liked everything. The closest I came to NOT liking something was Randy Orton's opening Diva Search interruption and promo. It was more laziness from WWE, just having him go out there and spout off about Destiny This and Youngest Ever That. Those aren't things that fans care about; they are things WWE cares about because they don't like having their last two "Youngest Ever" champs bail out on them.  And it wasn't even well-delivered laziness, either: Orton was stumbling all over himself trying to spit out his lines. He was proclaiming to the world that "failure" is an emotion, and the one that really gets me is he didn't even get his punchline in clean.  Listen: there's already not a whole lot of meat to this Benoit/Orton deal, and they need every ounce of sizzle and soundbite they can get to put together the Video Package that will precede the match on Sunday.  Having Orton clearly stating, "And nobody will stop me from having my date with destiny," would have been a nice thing to put in.  Instead, they'll have to hack up Orton's "And nothing, nobody, and NOBODY is going to stop me from me having my date with destiny."  So freaking annoying...  and anyway, my point was that for as lazy and sloppy and whatever else it was, the whole segment was saved and turned into a Plus when Chris Benoit came out and just decided to make his own goddamn footage of Orton tapping out.  Again, another classic "actions speak louder than words" moment from Benoit, and a great capper to retroactively make the entire opening 15 minutes worthwhile to me.
    Edge/Jericho: good, and the second half was very good.  Tajiri/Rhyno: excellently-handled. The Regal/Eugene/HHH hotel bits and overall storyline: very well-performed, and set up the storyline of the main event.  By the way: the main event: spot-on perfect, and another great showcase for Benoit.  In fact, another reason I walked away from RAW feeling so positive is because I got glimpses of RAW's future direction (or at least, one VERY appealing possibility) in the Benoit/HHH/Orton main event.
    You can get those thoughts for September's PPV and beyond, plus detailed results and analysis of the entirety of RAW in yesterday's OO RAW Recap.
  • But apparently, I'm in the minority on overall liking RAW... the public has spoken, and the public has given RAW its lowest rating in over 20 months.  Monday's show scored a 3.2 cable rating, a drop of a half-point from the previous week and from essentially its recent average.
    The problem SEEMS to be the way the show was laid out, because RAW's starting audience at 9pm wasn't that much different than where WWE usually starts from.  The problem is that they didn't grow at all over the two hours.  Instead of a snowball effect, starting with a 3.0 and slowly growing and hovering in the high 3's or low 4's starting in the second hour and always peaking over 4 for the over-run, Monday's show just ping-ponged between 3.0 and 3.3 for the most part, with the over-run finally getting up to 3.6.
    I tend to dismiss theories about the first preseason Monday Night Football game (to be honest, I didn't even know there was football on; do I lose my Dude Card, or anything? Sorry, but I can't start pretending to care about football until (a) after baseball's over, and (b) I find out if the Giants and/or Bengals are gonna be any good)...  I think the real problem is in the 2 hour ratings trend. Or in this case, LACK of trend. WWE started where it usually did, but could collect any more eyeballs along the way; or any eyeballs they did collect were offset by old eyeballs tuning out.
    Again, I overall liked RAW, but perhaps with axing out commercials and the Diva Search, I really do get a different sense of the show from most fans. To me, it was obnoxious to have to FF the Diva crap and the SD! rebound and all that, but in so doing, the PACE of my version of the show changes. This week, the pacing and the formatting of segments clearly failed in every substantive way.  I guess I'm kinda sorry for not having been able to pick up on that...  but the ratings don't lie, do they?
  • WWE.com has confirmed that Rena "Sable" Mero has been released from her contract, but offers no other significant details.
    Obviously, that leaves internet smarks to theorize about a recent newspaper interview in which Sable spoke ill of WWE's superficiality when it comes to picking which women they push as the Piper-esque reason she was cut loose. And still other internet smarks to ponder whether her on-going relationship with Brock Lesnar (who himself has had unkind things to say about WWE and wrestling as he tries to make it in the NFL) might have been a motivating factor.
    And those things might be fun to think about, and more than likely, there weren't COMPLETELY non-factors... but how about somebody just stops and realizes that Sable was making a nice paycheck and adding essentially nothing to the product? Maybe the other factors made the numbers stand out a little clearer in certain circles, but the point is that a simple cost/benefit analysis is really all WWE would have had to do to come up with a reason to ditch Sable.
    I don't say that to be a dick, but honestly: since returning 15 months ago, has Sable been a part of anything memorable (that was memorable for GOOD reasons, I mean!)?  Maybe you turn it around and say that lately, her (ahem) medical condition and relationship with Brock meant that Creative intentionally gave her a lower profile, and so my "she won't be missed" argument still becomes a secret WWE plot to get rid of her, but... I don't even know what my point was here.
    Let's just say that Sable's gone, and unfortunately, I won't be losing much sleep over the news.  I have extreme faith in WWE's ability to find some other cookie-cutterly-hot babe to shake her ass on Thursday nights...  that seems to be all they really need on SD! now that Shaniqua and Nidia are gone.
  • Speaking of cookie-cutter-hotness...  I guess I use this as my segue into the other prong of the Diva Search discussion.
    I'm clearly about the only person in the entire universe who isn't mega-pissed about the Diva Dodgeball thing at SummerSlam. Or at least, that's what I'd gather from my e-mail.
    Let me try to explain myself: it was either 3 or 4 weeks ago when I said that WWE should just see what the diva search contestants would be willing to do, physically, pay them enough to get them to do it, and then run an angle where Molly Holly (possibly leading the other divas) attacks them.  Now, from there, I went down a joke-y path with the scenario and had Molly claiming the quarter million to do a Ted DiBiase gimmick, or something.  But the core of my idea was that if you want the fans to care about the bland, borderline-stupid-seeming, cookie-cutter Diva Search contenstants, you have to have them doing some of the same things that have gotten fans caring about the actual RAW women. Take some bumps, show some physicality, something.
    So when Trish (I still say Molly, but close enough) led the divas to the ring, I was definitely in a bit better mood than the all of you: this was something I'd semi-envisioned. Now granted, "Diva Dodgeball" is not and was not ever any part of MY vision for how this would play out. But it WILL, for the first time, put these useless cookie-cutter ditzes on the same playing field as "our" girls, and maybe, just maybe, this is a way for one or more of them to FINALLY step up and impress us and for others to finally be exposed as the only-caring-about-the-money bimbos that they are:  Playmate of the Year, I'm looking at you. 
    Will Diva Dodgeball DEFINITELY be good and/or useful? I'm not ready to say that. But could it? Hell yes. So as a brief palate cleanser on an already-loaded PPV, I say there are worse "entertainment" bits they could have come up with for us. Anybody who remembers Dawn Marie, the FBI, and Rene Dupree's Tiny Penis from the GAB PPV knows I'm right, even if your Smarkness stops you from publicly admitting it.
    So that's one thing I wanted to say to explain myself... but the other is DIRECT REFUTATION of the vast majority of the pissy e-mails I got, which weren't so worried about the Dodgeball sucking as they were RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT that WWE was sending the wrong message by putting 14 women into a dodgeball game instead of using the slot to put Real Wrestlers on the show so... and get this... so that those wrestlers can have their PPV bonus.
    I don't have any idea where this comes from. Yes, there's a part of me that would for Tajiri to have a couple extra bills tacked on at the end of the month just cuz if SOMEbody's gotta make 'em, why not him? But what in the blue fuck kind of fan is sitting at home making judgments on the worth of a PPV card based on which wrestlers are getting paid what?
    I'd have just let it slide, but somehow, this was the primary thrust of a good dozen-plus messages I got on the subject of Diva Dodgeball.  Paychecks.  What are you people smoking?
    I merely ask you two questions: (1) Why do you care about anything other than the Entertainment Potential of a show?  The answer is, you shouldn't, so quit worrying about things that should only concern the actual wrestlers and stuff.  And once I've smacked some sense into on #1, we go to (2) What other match/wrestlers are "PPV ready" enough that they could significant add to the Entertainment Potential of SummerSlam any more than Diva Dodgeball?
    I honestly don't think SD! has anything in the pipeline that'd be a no-brainer/gangbusters PPV-caliber match. At most, you'd run a Cruiserweight match out there, which yeah, most of us would love but which would probably (due to time constraints) only get 4 minutes (which would then piss us off) and wouldn't get over the fans anyway.  So yes, a quickie Chavo vs. Noble match might be fun, but I still think Diva Dodgeball has more "upside."
    And RAW, well there you can obviously argue for Tajiri/Rhyno vs La Resistance being worth a PPV slot.  But guess what?  First, if you can only slot it 5-6 minutes, maybe it's not worth doing. And MOSTLY, I actually LOVE the way they cock-teased you with the match, and had La Resistance cheat to weasel out of it. This (a) gets fans more behind Tajiri/Rhyno, (b) makes La Resistance bigger heels, and (c) will make the eventual match that much bigger because they milked it for so long.  If Tajiri/Rhyno vs. La Resistance happens before the September PPV, I'll be massively disappointed, actually. And I'm the biggest Tajiri fan you know.  So again, eliminating that, and with RAW featuring nothing else I'd particularly care to watch, why not Diva Dodgeball?
    Of course, now we watch as Diva Dodgeball sucks and kills even more of my brain cells than the one "Ice Cream Sale" I was dumb enough to watch on Monday... but if it does, I'll eat my crow, people.  You at least know I'm good for that....
  • The fight over the name of Hulk Hogan is gearing up, and recently revealed details shed a lot of light on exactly what's going down between WWE and Marvel Comics.
    First off: I probably mistaken referred to WWE "renewing" its license with Marvel when Hogan came back in 2002. Apparently, not the case. They were still working under an agreement arrived at in 1984 or 1985. And this latest flare-up, in fact, is mostly predicated on the fact that the two parties disagree over when the agreement happened.
    Marvel thinks they signed a 20 year deal in July of 1984.  WWE says the papers weren't official till March of 1985. The difference is significant, because WWE would like to have the use of the Hulk Hogan name (and "Hulkamania" and all affiliated terms) as they launch the 24/7 Video On Demand service.  And according to Marvel, they can't.  According to WWE, they can, at least for another 8 months.
    But once that issue is settled, apparently there will be a much bigger issue at stake: WWE will be looking to win the right to use the Hulk Hogan name, in perpetuity, without any sort of licensing agreement with Marvel.  Whether it was '84 or '85, the fact of the matter is that Vince McMahon and the then-WWF had other things to worry about besides a long drawn-out legal battle with Marvel Comics. So they just entered into this 20 year contract (which was designed to cover the span of Hogan's wrestling career), which made token payments to Marvel on Hulkster-related projects (and a miniscule $100 payment to Marvel any time Hogan wrestled as Hulk Hogan).  WWE was willing to enter into the agreement because the only way they'd have to make substantial payments to Marvel is if Hogan made them substantial amounts of money.  Which he did, so now you can imagine that Marvel sees no reason to let WWE start having for free what they've spent 20 years paying out the nose for.
    You know my stance on this: using the phrase learned in my Business Law Class lo those many years ago, I apply the Reasonable Man Principle. And in this case, it's really about as simple and clear-cut as can be... nobody other than a lunatic or a half-wit would get Hulk Hogan (real person, orange-hued) confused with The Incredible Hulk (cartoon character, greenish-tinged). Marvel didn't invent the word "hulk," and WWE doesn't want to bill Hogan as "Incredible," so how in the blue fuck this is even a legal case is beyond me.  Marvel needs to thank its lucky stars that the WWF was too busy to fight them on this 20 years ago, sit down, shut up, and count their ill-gotten money. 
    Then again, I'm the guy who still can't comprehend how some jack-ass court in England thought that anybody would ever confuse the World Wildlife Foundation with the World Wrestling Federation, too.  You see, people, this is why I must be named Emperor of Earth, effective immediately.  My promise to you if elected: a 99% reduction in legal jackassery!
    Anyway, the Hogan/WWE/Marvel situation is actually pretty interesting in a car-wreck kind of way.  You should get the full details courtesy of an outstanding feature article at the Newsarama website.  Thanks to all who sent along the link.
  • The latest on Brock Lesnar? Well, apparently he hasn't been starting any more fights or anything... and he might finally be starting to turn some heads for the RIGHT reasons.
    Thanks to all of you who are keeping me apprised of local media cover of Lesnar, I can tell you that Vikings coach Mike Tice was quote yesterday as saying that he now considers Lesnar a virtual lock for his Practice Squad.  There are still others who say Brock's having trouble with even the simplest football concepts and fundamentals, but when the Head Coach speaks, it gets in the papers, and you gotta believe he's speaking authoritatively.
    The question, then, becomes whether Lesnar would accept the league minimum and a spot on the practice squad. At the outset of his little journey, he made it clear that a spot on an NFL roster was his only desired outcome, and that he had no interest in doing developmental football in Europe or Canada to hone his skills.  It sounded like an all or nothing proposition, and I'm not exactly sure where a practice squad slot fits in on Lesnar's continuum.
    The Vikings first preseason game is Saturday night, I know. I have no idea if it's on TV or not, and even if it is, I know I shan't be home to watch.  But if you do get to see it, and if Lesnar gets any PT, be sure to drop me a line.
  • I think that's about all I got today.  I guess I'll mention that if you want Spoilers for tomorrow's SmackDown!, you should click here. As always, they are chock full of my smart ass observations about a show I haven't even seen yet.  In this case, that means breaking down the SD! SummerSlam contributions and how (much like RAW) SD! is doing a shitty job handling its Title Match.  But UNlike RAW, SD! does have some pretty cool stuff going on in all three of its other matches at the PPV.
    So if you can't wait for the final icing on SD!'s SummerSlam cake, the spoilers are here for you.
    On that note, I'll sign off for today, and promise to see you all again on Friday, as I will be your Host and Moderator for the OO Team Coverage Preview of SummerSlam.  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
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
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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