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RAW Thoughts/Ratings, Noble Roamin', 
Eddie/Angle Problems, Lots More News...
September 15, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, people, I WAS going to celebrate my return to regular updates after my vacation and the start of the Hot New Fall Season here at OO by giving away Brand New Cars to everybody out there in my studio audience today.  Just like Oprah did.  She's a National Treasure!
But then I remembered: I'm not (a) a pandering Sack of Duh, (b) reliant upon the mindless loyalty of dimwitted housewives, (c) fascinated by the trivial and mundane feelings and emotions of idiot guests, (d) likely to endorse vapid tripe in a book club, or (e) so insecure about my public image that I need to bribe people  

into being my fans. So I decided I probably shouldn't be taking my gift-giving cues from freaking Oprah.  And it's not like I'm particularly fond of you people, anyway.

Also: although I consider my work at OO to be EXACTLY as important as Oprah's (i.e. NOT VERY), I have yet to secure that lucrative contract to pays me the equivalent of the entire National Security Budget to work only 25 weeks a year.  So really, financially, me shelling out for 30,000 new cars right now probably isn't a wise move.

So you'll have to settle for this...  my usual Mid-Week Mélange of News and Views:

  • As always, we start with a quick glance back to RAW...
    But unlike always, I could probably get away with a few more detailed editorial notes, on the grounds that I didn't do the Recap yesterday.
    But then again, the job Erin did on the RAW Recap in my stead, I'd still be covering trodden ground if I went too in-depth.  Above and beyond her faithful reproduction of the Accepted RAW Recap Formatting, you also had a faithful reproduction of the Non Sequitur Bashing of Randy Orton (in this case, the exact "Jack Doan just cut a better promo than Young Randall" joke I had put on my To Do List on Monday night), a faithful reproduction of the Stopping In the Middle of the Recap to Bitch About the Stupidity of Kane/Lita For a Couple Paragraphs, and many other of your Favorite Smash Hit RAW Recap Features!  
    In fact, just about the only way I could be sure that I didn't write the recap myself in some drug-induced, cross-dressing, schizophrenic haze is the part where Erin knew the French names of Molly's ballet moves. Whereas if I had done it, I'd have spent two paragraphs noticing the irony of fragile, waif-like Stacy Keibler prancing around to "She's a Brick House," while Molly Holly stood nearby, delectably embodying the Brick House Concept. Because I'd have known it would confuse and annoy Matt Hocking! And also because it's true....
    But anyway, I guess I can still get away with saying a FEW things about the show, and hoping that they seem mildly fresh and insightful to you.
    For starters, the Highlight of the Night for me was... well, the self-proclaimed Highlight of the Night, Chris Jericho, taking the IC Title picture in exciting new directions. Jericho's Highlight Reel work with Shawn Michaels set a tone for those two to once again lace 'em up; and anybody who remembers my fantasy booking from 3 months ago knows I retain a (metaphorical) throbbing hard-on for just such a showdown. But Christian's appearance puts him still near the top of the list of IC Contender's to Jericho's title. But then Christian's post-match attack on Michaels seems to put those two on a collision course. And Edge is still waiting on the sidelines for HIS shot at the IC belt.
    If those four guys fighting each other in various combinations doesn't interest you, then you, sir, are no wrestling fan! [And I won't do it today, but on some slow Friday, I might have to spin you a Fantasy Booking Yarn or two about how maybe Edge isn't the one to turn full-on heel out of this storyline, and how maybe it could tie in to a WM21 RAW main event that would, quite frankly, kick the ass of a warmed-over, mis-told Orton/HHH match. Let's just say ideas have begun to percolate in my Mighty Wrestling Mind.]
    Anyway, that segment, with Jericho quarterbacking the mic work (including the crowd participation bit, which was a nice nod of the head to Jericho knowing that wrestling fans aren't stupid and can smell a cheap schmozz coming a mile away, and which was also just plain fun) and then going into the RAW Match of the Night, I don't see anything else on the show that came even close to matching that 20-plus minute stretch.
    Another good thing: Molly Holly's promo. Lascivious Brick House jokes aside, she said pretty much everything about the Diva Search thing that needed to be said, and said it so very convincingly. I got no problem with Trish being the pretty, self-absorbed type of heel, but it's outings like this that confirm my suspicion that Molly is woefully underutilized when it comes to handling the All-Business, Substance-Over-Style storylines. It's in character for Molly to be indignant over a glorified beauty contest (whereas it made little sense to me to have Trish leading the Diva Dodgeball Debacle last month).  Anyway, between the promo and the way she threw herself into the ballet moves and the fact that she seemed to honestly believe (despite the crowd's reaction) that she'd just displayed more talent than Stacy or any Diva Search contestant, it was simply outstanding heel work, and it set the stage for the following match and it's finish. For now, I've got no problem with style-over-substance Stacy getting a cheap pinfall over substance-over-style Molly, assuming that this time, they actually follow-through on Molly's revenge... but the second I get the impression that this was just more Ritual Humiliation of Molly With No Subsequent Follow-Up (see: Pointless Head Shaving of March 2004), I'll rage appropriately. 
    I guess my other highlight would have to be the decent Benoit/Conway opening match. Except that the mere fact that such a match is part of an over-arching storyline that seems destined to keep Benoit mired on the mid-card in a tag team title feud was so horribly frustrating that it was hard to appreciate the wrestling.  I mean, for one, part of me is salty that Tajiri and Rhyno (after months of build-up) didn't get the tag titles. And then you pile on by trapping Benoit into a full-time tag team with Regal, feuding with La Resistance? Look: I'm a Tajiri fan who knows Tajiri can rise only so high on the card. I so happen to believe "tag team champion" is a legitimate goal for him.  But I'm a Benoit fan who KNOWS that Benoit aspiring to tag team gold is a waste of his talents.
    As evidence: for one, Erin rightly noted that Benoit was hugely over during his match. Proximity to Canada, maybe? I don't think so. Benoit's just a guy who, maybe he won't ever sell a ton of t-shirts or anything, but fans BELIEVE in him as a wrestler, especially over the last year or so. Catchphrases and merchandise are but one measure of a guy's worth to a wrestling company. And maybe a glossy, shiny, manufactured creation like Randy Orton can sell a few t-shirts. But Chris Benoit gets in the ring, and in a way that Randy Orton rarely does, MAKES fans believe in his bad-assery.  I know I'm not explaining this well, but it's a real phenomenon. 
    As supporting evidence: Benoit has spent the last month a forgotten man. He's replaced Eugene as William Regal's tag partner, and spent the last two weeks starting a feud with La fricking Resistance. And not only to the fans STILL cheer him big-time for his match, but in the main event non-match, Randy Orton is getting his ass handed to him by Evolution. And what do the fans chant?  Not "Randy, Randy."  But "Benoit, Benoit."  Before Benoit even ran out, the fans were DEMANDING that Benoit be the man to make the save, that Benoit be invited to rejoin the Grown Ups table and be a part of something more significant than a curtain jerking tag title feud. I can only hope that somebody at WWE is paying attention to these things, and adjusts plans accordingly. Because whatever Randy Orton's appeal is, he'll sell just as many t-shirts without the World Title; and if somebody's gotta work main events, I think you can do worse than a guy who is so convincing a WRESTLER (even if underwhelming as a Marketing Creation) that fans won't let you push him down to the mid-card.
    But I'm getting ahead of myself. That's actually more of the foundation for some of those Fantasy Booking ideas I mentioned earlier. As for RAW, it's enough to say that I think fans were hottest for Benoit in the main event angle, and probably SECOND hottest for Shelton Benjamin. The "match" itself was a big fat zero: short, predictable, and just an excuse to get to the intentional DQ and post-match angle. It certainly felt to me like, during that segment, the heat diminished as the beatdown on Batista concluded. When Orton hit his RKO for the Big Finish, it seemed less a climactic exclamation point than an ellipsis...  maybe it was just that the thing dragged on too long, and the RKO was a predictable afterthought, but it sure seemed to me that fans were more into the Stinger Splash and the Swandive Headbutt.
    And speaking of predictable: somebody really needs to be sac-punched for the opening promo on RAW.  It was really a double-whammy of ill-conception. First, you put a person-sized cake prop in the ring, and fans are smart enough to THINK THERE'S A PERSON INSIDE. And in this case, we're all gonna thing it's Randy Orton. So if that's it, just do the damn thing, and don't try to build it up like there's some real drama. But no: RAW had to go and milk the thing for a minute or two. Instead of just having Orton burst out, mid-promo, they had HHH (very stupidly, for a Cerebral Assassin) spelling out in painfully slow fashion how there HAD to be a hot chick in the cake, and had Evolution passing the buck on who had arranged for the cake...  in my head, as the buck was being passed to Batista, I realized "If it's anybody less than a seductively-clad Stephanie McMahon inside that cake, this segment is gonna flop horribly." There's a whole Inner Dialogue I had (Steph returning to TV with ambiguous ambitions; maybe to get back with HHH, maybe to once again try to twist the knife in her ex-husband by getting with the Studly Young Randall, any number of interesting ideas), but the whole time, I knew to expect the expected.  So out pops Randy, and everybody goes, "Yeah, so?".... and I go "fast-forward".... the sight-gag of HHH covered in frosting does NOT make up for the sheer, mind-numbing, begging-to-just-get-to-the-punchline-so-we-can-move-on predictability of the preceding 10 minutes.  I re-assert my belief that in the entire Wrestling Universe, *I* might be the only one who really wants to see Randy Orton ever get over as a main event star. Because this tripe WWE is coming up with for him to do is NOT gonna work, folks.
    The less said about Kane/Lita, the better. Not just because it was lame, but because Erin's said it already, pretty close to how I would have said it. The Cliffs' Notes version: it's hard to care about and relate a storyline where nobody is behaving even CLOSE to how normal, rational people behave. If I had to add anything, it'd be that they didn't even get Kane's characterization right... OK, so he cares enough about his offspring that he'd get concerned about Lita in a secondary way, but how Gene Snitsky gets away without the ass-whupping of the century is beyond me.  Way to rob Kane of MORE of his balls, WWE.
    There, have I covered the entire show?  I think so.  Oh, Seattle Slutfest? Not in a million years, people. Too long, too dumb, it can't be over soon enough for me. If Vince McMahon showing up to promise a Huge Announcement made it worth your while, well, prepare to be underwhelmed next week...
    So my editorial thoughts aside, I do again heartily endorse yesterday's OO RAW Recap for a more detailed rundown of actual happenings. For whatever it's worth, you can look forward to me doing the recap again next week; cuz although this was all Erin's idea, and she caught me in the nick of time on Monday night asking to take over the reigns this week, she's also made it quite clear that she now has no idea how in the hell I can do those things every week. So even if there's not enough beer in the world to make doing another recap again seem like a good idea to Erin, I thank her not only for the week off, but also for doing a great job, in the Finest OO Tradition, of delivering an entertaining recap for a merely-mediocre show! 
    And once you put all the pieces together, that's what RAW was on Monday: a mediocre show, with a mix of good and bad that peaked almost directly in the middle of the show instead of in the main event.
  • In what has to be a moral victory, RAW maintained a 3.6 cable rating this week.  While that's an Actual Draw, I say "moral victory" because keeping the same exact audience as the week before up against vastly enhanced competition is a good sign for RAW.
    Remember, in its first week against new Fall Season competition and NFL Football, SD! hemmoraged about 15% of its usual audience last Thursday night.  RAW, in its first week against new programming and football, retained all of its audience.
    Other than football, though, I don't know of a single other show on Monday nights that would affect RAW, though. Thursdays are a huge TV night, though, with most of the networks bringing out the big guns.  Mondays are, what, CBS sitcoms for the elderly and mentally-enfeebled?  I don't even know...  [I do know that RAW's young adult audience DOES stand to take a hit in January, though, when FOX moves the popular "24" to Mondays... but till then, I think it's football and not much else.]
  • Not only is the SmackDown! brand the more entertaining one, lately, it's also the one making the headlines here today...
    I think we gotta start with the unconditional release of Jamie Noble, which was officially confirmed earlier today by WWE. The standard "we wish him well in future endeavors" message has been posted to the company website.  But my understanding is that, regardless of flowery language and terms like "agreed to part ways," Noble really was released outright by WWE. 
    Allow me: unless there was some REALLY good backstage reason why, this is one of WWE's more baffling roster moves in recent memory.  I mean, most of their releases, maybe I can sit here and say, "Well, there goes another good worker down the tubes," but fact is, I'm sharp enough to know the difference between a Good Worker and a guy who can shine bright enough to make the most of his TV time and develop into a valuable performer.  To wit: I, personally, might have been a bit annoyed that WWE let Ultimo Dragon go without making the most of his abilities, but their decision to do so didn't exactly surprise me. Dragon was never gonna fit the WWE mold.
    But if Jamie Noble isn't the prototypical cruiserweight in the "WWE mold," then you may smack my ass and call me Sally. The guy can talk/act like nobody's business and actually perform angles/stories instead of just matches, he's charismatic enough to get a crowd into a match AND versatile enough to work as either a heel or a face (though best as a heel), and inside the ring, he's a "safe style" cruiser whose moveset isn't predicated on high risk but rather on crisply executing a more mat-based attack.  If this guy cannot have a spot in the WWE's cruiserweight division, is there any real point to the division existing at all?
    Or maybe I'm over-reacting... for all the attention that the cruisers get, it's not like Noble's absence is going to greatly impact SmackDown!. And it's not like I watch Velocity, so I won't notice it there, either. But I did put Noble on my list of "underrated wrestlers of the year" in the past few years, so pardon me if I'm a bit confused as to how this guy is released after doing nothing but shine in any role asked of him. No matter how stupid (Billy Gunn: Orgy Enthusiast, anyone?).
    I wouldn't cry for Jamie Noble, though... I'm sure he'll find work if he wants it. But I'll miss him on SD!....
  • Another interesting SD! development: at tapings last night, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle got into a shouting and shoving match.
    What's kind of odd is that the story I heard is that it might actually have been Angle who instigated the physicality (although Eddie may well have begun the war of words).  I say that's odd because for the past two months, it's been Eddie who has been on edge and temperamental and lackadaisical (to the point where it has effected his work; I noted that it even made it through onto TV about a month ago, and I guess if stupid me can notice little anomalies in a wrestling match, WWE management can notice other ones in Eddie's general behavior, because they've been trying to keep Eddie on a tighter leash lately).  For Angle, who is generally as even-tempered as you can get, to have turned the argument physical is kinda weird to hear.
    Then again, considering that this report comes second hand from the SD! locker room, I'm not so sure that maybe they aren't kind of protecting Eddie a bit in this matter. Because even-tempered as he may be, Kurt Angle's popularity with peers has been on the decline since his return to active duty. My impression is that some of the SD! roster believe Angle may by using his backstage stroke for more than just protecting his fragile neck; everybody was willing to grant Angle lee-way on that, but now there's a suspicion that he's out to protect his spot in the main event picture at any cost, too.  I dunno about the validity or intensity of these feelings, but it's kind of a filter though which news of this Eddie/Kurt confrontation comes, and it makes me wonder exactly what to believe.
    Mostly, as is my custom, I'll say that from a Fan Perspective, I don't care so much about the backstage soap opera other than to say this kinda sucks. Two guys who could be part of the Solution for SD!, and they're sniping at each other, instead of getting along.
    Oh well... I have a feeling this is also just one of those deals that's a bit blown out of proportion and everything'll be just fine next week.  Angle and Eddie worked together in an angle last night, and everything went off fine, so I don't think this should affect the on screen product.
  • Another of SD!'s headline-making moves: two former Attitude Era Superstars returned last night at the tapings. One of them just so happens to be the guy whose ring entrance I used for myself whenever I created myself as a wrestler on the PS2 "SmackDown!" games because I could pretend the goblet was full of whiskey.
    But that's enough of a hint for you.  I won't spoil it, here.
    Also, for the second week in a row, another SD! star made a surprise return from an injury hiatus.
    If you hate being cock-teased like this, you can just check the Spoilers. A full report from tomorrow's SD! can be yours today, if you simply MUST be a nosy bastard.
  • A couple things from Monday's RAW:
    First, the Gene Snitsky guy isn't anybody. Just some random jobber. A few people mailed in asking, because they thought it was suspicious that he got away clean, like he might be a developmental guy and this was the start of a full time run.  Nope.  I also question why the guy got away clean (maybe WWE will smarten up and have the Assassination of Snitsky next week, though?), and can also assure you that as much fun as it is to say, "Snitsky" is probably not a name WWE would come up with for a Future WWE Superstar.
    Second: the Seattle Slugfest might have been re-booked the way it was because of a legal/sanctioning problem.  I'm getting mixed signals, but Washington's Athletic Commission might have been sticking its nose in at RAW, and would have frowned on an unsanctioned boxing match. So instead of bothering to actually make it legit or paying a fine, WWE just turned it into a silly-ass story thing with both girls beating on Coach. That, apparently, requires no sanction from any regulatory body!  
    Third: many have been titilated by Vince McMahon's promise of a "Major Announcement" next week on RAW... combining the fact that there is absolutely no underground buzz on any serious breaking news story that I'm hearing with the way he worded his teaser (how it'll affect superstars, Bischoff, AND all the fans), I think you can pretty well bank on Vince announcing the "interactive" element of the Taboo Tuesday PPV next week.  Supposedly, it's gonna be a show booked by the fans, so all the pieces fit together in terms of his teaser.... [And kids, I cannot tell you how much I hope that they run it legit and also give fans the chance to pick a challenger to HHH, because I think it'd be a nice glass of cold water in WWE's face to have Randy Orton come in third or fourth in such a vote. Which I'm beginning to suspect is a very real possibility.]
    And fourth: Simon Dean's vignette was so good, and looked so much like a Crappy Commercial, that I just fast-forwarded right past it on Monday night's DVR-assisted viewing of RAW. I didn't even see it till Tuesday evening after reading about it in the Forums (ironically, Erin made the same mistake I did, and so the skit wasn't in the RAW Recap, either).  I don't know if that's the effect WWE desired or not.  I mean, kudos on making it look so EXACTLY like something I'd want to skip, I guess.  Nice production work!  But maybe we need more thought going into the actual character (which seems to be another one of these flimsy, one-dimensional throwbacks to 1985; just as Carlito Cool gets heat by hating "uncool" people, and as Mordecai tried to get heat by hating immoral people, and as Kenzo Suzuki ALMOST got heat by hating WWII veterans, Simon Dean's entire gimmick seems predicated on hating fat people), than into the production of the skit introducing him.  Also FYI: if you were to call that number listed, you basically get a recorded message ranting about fat people, then a note saying all operators are busy, so YES you can actually call and hear more about the Simon System, but NO you can't actually surrender your credit card number and buy it.
  • Tangent/Warning: on the issue of flimsy, one-dimensional throwbacks to 1985, I actually have an entire simmering Theory Piece related to the issue.  It also ties into the possible root problems with the Evolution/Orton story.  If I have the time and energy to develop it, it'd be an in-depth look at Character vs. Gimmick, and how WWE has started to slide back to the easy, lazy surface traits that are part and parcel of "gimmicks," while eschewing more complex motivations and innate behaviors that go along with fully developed "characters."
    Yes, I was listening to a tape of me getting my ass reamed out by Raven a couple weeks ago, and the distinction is his; but I'd also been drinking while going through my box of old tapes, and the comment sparked me to realize it had relevance to WWE's current situation.
    You may choose to have your interest mildly piqued by this topic, if you like. I'll probably get around to it one of these Fridays. Or you can choose to think it's a dumb idea for a column and I'm being hyper-critical and picking nits. In which case I'll merely threaten you with a sequel to "Hail to the Crap," instead on a slow Friday!  Which one should it be people?  Pick your poison!
  • And on that note, I think I've rambled long enough today. I'll be back here on Friday with SOMEthing. The only way to find out what is to show up!
    So I'll see you guys 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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