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Stooge Got Game'd?, plus RAW, Ratings,
TNA signs Outsiders, and Lots More...
October 13, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


What, me gloat?
You must have me confused with someone else who WOULDN'T rather wait till four wins were in the bag, just to be safe.... so instead, just let me note that the one thing about last night's baseball game that REALLY chapped my hide was the patented Baseball For Retards production done by FOX. Obviously, FOX figures that the hardcore baseball 

fans will be watching, no matter what. So they do everything they can to try to Sexy Up the game so that masses will watch it.

Well, FOX, here's a hint: tell the story of the game, tell it well, explain the strategies and what's going on on the field, and THAT is how people will get interested. I should not be sitting at home on my couch doing better analysis than Tim McCarver, nor should I be fantasizing that I MIGHT hear a tinge of "I am going to kill you, McCarver" in Al Leiter's significantly-less-stupid voice.  And sound effects and intrusive graphics and talking curveballs and lookit-all-the-celebrities-in-the-stands?  FOX, your Baseball Privileges should be suspended in perpetuity at the conclusion of this contract, that's all I'm saying.

And I've also said it before, so I'll rant no further, except to say that whoever OK'ed the opening "Star Wars" vignette should be bludgeoned to death with a Jar Jar Binks plush toy, no matter HOW long it takes.  The punishment should be annoying, very slow, but also fatal.  Not only was the skit unfunny (how you DON'T end it with Darth/Yankees saying "I am your father" and then having Luke/Pedro saying "NOOOOO!  Oh, wait, I mean YESSSSS!" is beyond me; THAT is funny), but the opening words of the 2004 American League Championship Series Live Coverage on FOX were, "The Star Wars Trilogy DVD box set, in stores now from FOX home video."

Baseball Fever: leave your house and go to the store to buy DVDs to catch it!

Here's some wrestling:

  • Starting with a bit from Monday's RAW....
    I had a lot of fun with the show, but a lot of that was probably just due to my fetish for Good Finishes (I think the final note of the show probably counts for upwards of half of my Final Analysis, really, and I don't know if that's good or bad).  Because the way RAW ended -- and in fact, the way RAW told the entire story of their World Title Picture -- was EXACTLY what the brand needed.
    Of course, it's also exactly what the brand needed 3 weeks ago, and there ain't no denying that.  Eight days before a PPV is NOT the time to finally introduce anything resembling a storyline to your main event not-even-a-feud.
    That said, I have yet to invent a Time Machine (and it's WELL behind the Transporter Device on my List Of Wacky Technology I'd Like To Own, anyway), so we can't un-do WWE's mind-bendingly ill-conceived actions of the past few weeks and months. So we have to enjoy the Damage Control when we get it, and hope that the lessons learned can be applied in future weeks.
    On Monday, not only did we FINALLY get the three remaining #1 Contender candidates together for a promo, we got them in a match, we got them making it clear that they ALL wanted to shine and convince fans to give them the title shot.... and on top of that, they AGGRESSIVELY pushed Edge and gave him the win over HHH AND the decimation of his two Voting Rivals.  Now, with the Systematic Backburning of Chris Benoit, Edge probably leaps ahead of him in the fans eyes... but lets be honest: one week of good storytelling isn't gonna undo the years of goodwill and legitimacy that Shawn Michaels has at the main event level.  If not for the missteps of the last few weeks, Benoit may have been able to give Shawn a decent run in fan voting, but Edge won't, not with his push coming this late.  
    But what this DOES do is at least make the storylines heading into the foregone conclusion of a line-up more interesting.  HHH ain't dropping his title to ANYone at this point (that's the job of Randy Orton, I fear), so HBK is as good a guy as any to run out there; the match'll kick ass, and Michaels can come out the next week and due to his legend status, he won't really be hurt by the loss.  And you can do all kinds of cool stuff with Edge/Benoit in the tag title match (they'll be some history there, since Edge/Benoit are the team that La Resistance beat for the belts; how's THAT for continuity getting into EVERYthing?!?), depending on where you want to go with Edge's turn.  I mean, you could go full-out and have Edge cost them the match by dicking over Benoit, but you could do tons more subtle stuff, too (keep in mind that Benoit-goes-heel/starts-Canuck-faction thing I mentioned a while back).  
    I mean, boo on WWE for not setting up a show where the voting would really mean much; as outlined yesterday, the only real ambiguity on the entire event is who'll face Chris Benoit.  But good for them at least making me think that Taboo Tuesday might now be not unlike a maternity ward that gives birth to promising FUTURE stories and matches, and that will not just be some randomly cobbled together mess of meaningless tripe.
    And if we're talking heel turns and future prospects getting interesting, I guess we can't totally gloss over Randy Orton's promo.  Cuz to me, that seemed like kind of a straight-up re-do of 2 weeks ago, but with a decided twist: Orton was TRYING to be a dick.  Now, seeds of a heel turn?  Maybe not.  Maybe it's just that ol' "Character vs. Gimmick" thing coming into play and WWE realized that Orton's CHARACTER has to be this disrespectful punk kind of guy, or something...  but whatever it is, it IS interesting to me.  That's 2 out of 4 weeks now that Orton's mildly intriguing to me.  Of course, then you go back, and the other 2 out of 4, he's doing stupid bullshit that has nothing to do with anything and stealing Chris Benoit's spotlight in the process, so who the hell can really say if we should expect Good Orton Booking or Dumb Orton Booking next week?
    Note: after reading my recap, a lot of people thought I might have missed the point by attributing intentional heel overtones to Orton's promo: in fact, this must be an entire DIFFERENT set of people from the ones who usually send me mail after an Orton Rant, because they were saying that what I saw as "heel on purpose," THEY saw as "Orton being a shitty promo guy."  They blamed his delivery and his timing for making things seem very scripted and stilted, and said that in the hands of a better guy, Orton's lines would have seemed "cool," instead of dick-ish.
    I dunno, folks.  You know I'm no Orton fan, but I think he nailed that delivery pretty much the way he was supposed to. Now, as to the "scriptedness" of the promo, yeah, I agree that Orton has a tendency to sound like a guy who needs a bit more guidance than others in preparing his comments. Just call him George W. Bush Jr., I guess.  But to say that his delivery was so bad on Monday that it took a Good Babyface Promo and turned it into a Heel Promo?  That's redonkulous.  I think it was scripted with a certain vibe in mind, and I think Orton effectively gave it that vibe...  the question is: where's the vibe taking us?
    Other stuff, really quick: loved the use of Regal, and thought that this was a Good Dusty Finish (I think the misdirection works best when fans don't feel it coming, and kids, if you were predicting that they were gonna undo Regal's emotional home-country win before that commercial break, you are an ass!  this was a SURPRISE springing of the Dusty Finish, which is how it should always be; and also, I think La Resistance are the better choice for champs right now, anyway)....  women's match was OK, I guess; build Stacy up, and up, and up at Molly's expense, but then have Trish decimate her and send her back to MC'ing T&A segments.  Sucks for Molly, but great for Trish, which leaves me 50% pissed and 50% ecstatic, which pretty much cancel each other out. It basically re-sets the division, which explains the #1 Contender Battle Royal coming at Taboo Tuesday as well... Kane's beatdown was AWESOME, and was good for him as well as good for Steel Chair's chances of winning its prestigious election next week; Snitsky's promo was an all new vibe from him which I also thought was cool...  the slowest part of the show was actually the entirely formula-and-predictable Jericho/Rhyno/Christian/Tomko stuff, which I thought shortchanged the Jericho/Rhyno story in favor of entirely less-intriguing stuff; a 15 minute segment, and basically all they accomplished as demoting Rhyno to "Don't Vote For Me" status while reminding us that Batista IS an option.  Whee....
    The entire breakdown of Monday's show is still yours for the having in yesterday's fiendishly clever and insightful OO RAW Recap.  Enjoy it today!
  • The rating on Monday was a 3.4, same as the week before, and this time with slightly more intense competition (in addition to football, there was a decisive Game 5 NLDS game on FOX that might have been a priority over wrestling to SOME Atlanta natives -- not that I know any personally, myself -- and important to a handful of Houston-area residents).
    I dunno, call it a "moral victory" again?  Sure, why not...
  • And moving onto news-y stuff....
    A big shake-up late last week or over the weekend in WWE, as Pat Patterson officially announced his retirement from the company effective after the upcoming Taboo Tuesday PPV.
    Now, in a lot of ways this is not a big deal.  Patterson has drastically reduced his responsibilities with the company over the past couple years, and had little or anything to do with the week-to-week operations of WWE.  He was a consultant, although a VERY trusted and respected one, who chimed in with his two cents here and there (and who remains a go-to guy when it comes to figuring out the lay-out and finishes of matches), he was a guy most knew was not gonna be around forever.  The reduction in duties, the years of service... the guy deserves to get out and enjoy life at home, dammit!
    But, in a lot of other ways, this will be spun into a massive story because of the WAY it seems to have happened.  What we know for sure is that Patterson was kind of called into action the last few weeks.  From time to time, he'd be pulled in for service, and would go on the road again to watch live events and supply the front office with his Expert Opinion, and over the last 2 or 3 weekends, Patterson was supplying his notes on these shows to management.
    And the STORY is that Patterson kind of came back after witnessed the house shows and tapings, and butted heads with HHH over his voluminous TV time and how it was a detriment to the product as a whole.  Do we know for certain how Patterson's reports shaped up?  No.  Do we know for certain it was a confrontational thing with him and HHH?  No.
    But the timing of Patterson's sudden retirement announcement sure is curious, isn't it?  He goes on the road, comes back with a few notes that might not jibe with WWE Groupthink, is told his opinions will be ignored, and now this....
    Look, most of us on the outside will never really know how much of this is Patterson being driven out of WWE by HHH, and how much of it is just a simple matter of Patterson deciding its time to finally leave the business behind...  but I think the one thing that we CAN say with certainty is that this solidifies a shift from an older guard to a newer one in terms of WWE's Opinion Makers.
    Gone are the days of Vince McMahon and his "head lieutenants" like Patterson and Bisco clearly running the ship.  This latest move pretty much means that Triple H has been deemed "lieutenant" material when it comes to whose opinions Vince values.  And on top of that, Vince's ear might not even be the only important one that HHH has; a lot of duties have been delegated to Stephanie in recent years, and there's nobody in the company who's got more stroke with her than HHH.
    Mheh heh heh heh, I said "stroke."
    The question becomes: is this a good thing, or a bad thing?  Because Pat Patterson is a lot of things... he's a sharp wrestling mind who is great at crafting match psychology, and who invented the Royal Rumble. But he's also overseen as much crap as he has good stuff, and has his own blindspots when it comes to deciding what kind of stuff should be pushed.  [Oh no, kids, I'm not even GONNA put a "euphemism alert" in here; you decide for yourself what I'm talking about! Cuz it might not be what you think!  Or maybe it is!]
    And HHH is a lot of things, too; a "made man" and expert politician are just some of them.  He's also a sharp dude who was a fan of wrestling before he was a wrestler, and who comes by his "Cerebral Assassin" nickname honestly.  He understands the business, and it's never a bad thing to have guys with high Wrestling IQs moving up the power structure.
    But this is NOT a straight replacement by any means.  Patterson has never -- at least not since any of us have been watching -- been in a position to influence opinion for HIS OWN benefit. He's been an announcer, a referee, and a Stooge, but really, how was having The Book gonna help him out?  It wasn't.  But HHH wielding this much power?  Of course that's gonna set off alarm bells, and is WAY different than a retired guy having the ear of the boss.
    In MY mind, HHH being a "McMahon-in-law" means that he'll have nothing but the company's best interests in mind. This is a publicly traded company, and the better it does, the more his stock and his wife's stock and his parents-in-law's stock is worth, and THAT should be his primary concern...  if we posit that HHH ain't dumb, then we must posit that HHH thinks "more money is better than less," and we must posit that he wouldn't do things that would hurt WWE.  So this is a big part of the reason why I've always been a guy who doesn't give a shit about HHH being such a backstage force.  He's SO FAR inside that now, he CAN'T hurt the company to help himself.  They are too intertwined.
    But that doesn't mean that I suddenly want HHH being the #1 Lieutenant, either. Because to me, WWE Groupthink is the absolutely biggest thing killing them right now.  It's not that the decision makers WANT to screw things up, it's just that they are so focused on doing things a certain way, and they no longer have any outside competition forcing them to assess those methods, that they just forge ahead without EVER stepping back to see if their ideas are even remotely related to the real world.  And although HHH might be "too close" to the company to want to do it harm, as an active wrestler and a perpetual World Title contender/holder, I think he might also be "too close" to be the #1 Lieutenant in the company.
    I hope that distinction makes sense.  Cuz I really think that there's a chance that we might be getting to a point where its a sub-conscious thing, but if HHH and Steph are practically running the whole ship, there can be an internal dissonance between the warring priorities (company vs. TV image) that makes it harder for them to be truly impartial in assessing creative ideas.  I LIKE the idea of having detached ex-wrestlers being the Trusted Voices of Reason; I like the idea of HHH getting to chime in, too.  But I think we're finally getting to a point where "chiming in," is an antiquated notion if guys like Patterson are flying to coop.  HHH could become the entire damned bell, and he'll toll for thee.
    Eh, sorry, that's a dumbass Attempted Literary Reference that has nothing to do with anything.  But I'm trying to get up to a main point here: because I'm a HHH fan, and even a HHH apologist.  I think, with a few exceptions (often related to lingering injuries and the caliber of opponents), he's been one of the most entertianing characters and performers of the last 5 years, and have usually not seen any problem with him taking a political interest in his own career since it's so completely intertwined with WWE's overall performance.  But we might be cresting a hill here, and I begin to wonder if Randy Orton isn't the object lesson that proves it.
    For, what?, four months now I've been massively disappointed and confused by how Randy Orton's world title push and split from Evolution developed.  Creatively, I thought heinous crimes were committed.  And for four months, I've bit my tongue on this, just because I try to be a HHHater-free zone on the internet.... but since early August, I've secretly thought (and discussed in a few private conversations) that I think a big part of the problem with Orton's storytelling MIGHT be the tunnel-vision of HHH/Steph.  That they are SO attached to this idea of "HHH is the top heel" that they sacrificed the Proper Story to split Orton off on his own in a way that is -- no matter what you idiots say -- has been massively underwhelming.
    I've even -- in my darkest moments of cynicism -- entertained the notion that this was NOT a subconscious case of tunnel-vision, that maybe HHH was using Orton for his own benefits and doing it totally on purpose.  Now, I pretty much dismiss those unbidden thoughts as soon as they occur to me, but I think it's VERY interesting that in the last few weeks (three months after I first posited the Randy Orton Is Being Criminally Misused thesis), you can now go to other websites and read about conspiracy theories in which HHH and the creative team are to blame for Orton's underwhelming title run, and how it was possibly even done on purpose to make the kid "pay some dues," or some such nonsense.  The Rick: he's your wrestling buddy that invents and then dismisses the conspiracy MONTHS before you read about it anywhere else!
    But my basic point is solid: that this narrow vision might have prevented HHH from seeing the Big Picture, that if he and Steph are lying in bed booking RAW, his idea that he is now and always should be the Bad Ass Leader of Evolution (instead of growing a sac and trying something fresh like being the grizzled-but-ousted veteran who must get fans on his side and FIGHT AGAINST Evolution) might unduly affect storytelling.  I won't dare to attribute intent to HHH, but I DO begin to believe that for as sharp a wrestling mind as he is, he's not without his own blindspots.
    And to finally bring this all back around after an unintentionally long and philosophical thesis: those blindspots are fixing to get a lot more pronounced with the retirement of Former #1 Lieutenant Pat Patterson.  We're inching closer to the inmates running the asylum.
  • From the All Publicity Is Not Good Publicity File (a/k/a "The Steve Austin File")....

    New Jack (real name: Jerome Young) was arrested and charged with aggrevated battery over the weekend, after a Thunder Wrestling Federation event in Florida.  New Jack "stabbed" his opponent 14 times with a metal object, causing massive bleeding in his opponent (William Lane, ringname unknown).  Lane was treated and released from the hospital that night, and when asked about it, he actually protected New Jack by saying, "Hey, this is a dangerous sport." 
    The trouble seems to be that there were off-duty cops in the crowd who thought the match -- which in New Jack fashion was just a total garbage-y brawl -- crossed a line when New Jack used some shard of metal (descriptions are unclear, and apparently some mutant fan got his hands on the foreign object and left the show with it) to gouge Lane's head. So though fan opinion was split between "Looked like a hardcore match to me," and "Ewwww, gross, that's WRONG," the cops wound up getting called in.  And now, New Jack is in custody (or more likely, as of this writing, out on $40,000 bond)  pending a November 2 hearing.
    The promoter of the TWF was also interviewed and makes it sound like New Jack and Lane pretty much booked their own match, claiming that his group "wrestles," and doesn't sanction hardcore matches.  Lane's girlfriend tells another story, saying that it was supposed to be a hardcore match, but that she thinks it got a little more out of hand than it was supposed to.  
    Oy.  He said, she said personified.  Nobody looks good in this one.  New Jack is a criminally violent maniac (he dodged a bullet after he used an X-acto knife on an opponent and accidently hit an artery or something, and was NOT jailed after that).  Like the cowed trailer park wife, New Jack's opponent sounds like he's putting "protecting the business" over being "rightly pissed off that he got gouged."  Like an assclown, the promoter is claiming "I had no idea," even though the wrestler AND his girlfriend seem to tell another tale.  
    Way to make wrestling look good, everybody!
    And hey, didn't New Jack "retire" like 2 years ago, or something?  Christ, I really need to get on that internet to keep up.... er, um....  d'oh.
  • TNA has made it official: both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash will be appearing on the Victory Road PPV.
    As part of a War of Words, both Vince Russo and Jeff Jarrett have been talking about "outsiders" appearing on the show, but this week on Impact, they'll finally spell it out and make the official announcement.  In fact, they even give hints as to how Nash and Hall will be used.
    But in deference to the 3 of you who watch Impact with something other than Bemused Disapointment, I won't spoil it. We can talk more about this on Monday, I think, as part of my semi-weekly attempt to make sure I mention TNA in something other than passing.
  • WWE has made the decision to officially re-assign Al Snow to the SD! roster, as part of the (dumb-assed) resurrection of "Tough Enough."  Snow won't be multi-tasking on both brands, but rather will focus his energies on this 13-week stunt, and be appearing only on SD!
    I don't know if he STAYS on SD! when this is done, but it kinda seems like he would, since the ONLY damned value I can see in running this shit is if you can include Al in the storytelling of the "debuting" star once he's won, kind of like how Al was involved with Maven.  If you want to make the stupid contest "part of the show," then the stupid contest MUST, by my logic, spawn the stories when the winner shows up on the show.  Right?
    Snow's replacement on Heat will be Tough Questions Todd Grisham, which might be kind of interesting.  Obviously, this makes Todd the play-by-play man, and he's always struck me as a pretty sharp and entertaining lad in rare occasions when he's done something OTHER than be a mic stand.  He'll almost certainly have to leap-frog over Josh Mathews as the #3 PBP man, I figure, and who knows beyond that...
  • Finally, in the This Might Actually Be An Important Story In A Year File...
    WWE has confirmed that they are NOT actively pursuing a contract extension with Viacom for RAW and other SpikeTV programming at this time... though they remain totally open to working with Spike (and while Spike retains Matching Rights), they will be shopping their product around to other cable outlets, just to make sure they don't miss a better opportunity.  You know, for the stockholders.
    For whatever it's worth, I'd say this is another case of "too little, too late."  Viacom has FINALLY got SpikeTV to the point where it seems like a network with a plan.  Now, I still don't comprehend how Vince and the WWF were in any way shocked when they jumped to "TNN" and had some visibility problems... but getting retroactively pissed off that you made a miscalculation by leaving USA is NOT the answer, necessarily.
    If a better offer truly does surface from USA or FX or TNT, great...  but SpikeTV just might be the best home for WWE at this point in time.
  • And I think I'm outta here folks.  It's a crap shoot as to whether I'll see you on Friday or not.  The reason why: because even though he's a filthy Red Sox fan, Jeb Lund is also one clever son of a gun, and he's got a REALLY fun feature coming for you.
    It's so good that he's demanded the Friday-and-stay-up-for-the-whole-weekend slot!  And it's so good that I caved in and agreed to let him have it!  The fact that this gives me an extra day to do all the wacky formatting is merely a bonus!
    So if news breaks or if I'm feeling the itch to perform for the masses, I might still do something...  but it shouldn't matter because no matter what, the column you'll NEED to read this weekend will be Jeb's.  Make damned sure you come on back and check that out.
    So I'll see you when I see you!  If it ain't till Monday, then I can only hope that when next we speak (a) the Yankees have clinched, (b) I have been impressed with the first look at the 2004-05 Dayton Flyers at Friday's Midnight Madness, and (c) we've all enjoyed a lovely weekend!  Later on, kids....

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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