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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Double Barreled RAW Analysis, Ratings,
Major Michaels and Kane Updates, MORE!
October 20, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

A little Story Time, if you wheee-el...
 
On Sunday night, let's say -- oh -- around 11pm, I fired up the ol' PC cuz I'd been struck by a really cool thought for Monday's OO Pre-Ramble. It was based on a discussion I'd had earlier in the day with the only Yankees Fan Friend I have in the entire world. When talking about the Curse of the Bambino and how it was clearly in play again this year, we also 

began to theorize that a secondary effect of The Curse was to not only make Boston lose, but to make them do so in the most horribly painful fashion.

So, I was thinking on Sunday night, you had Aaron Fucking Boone do it to you in Extra Innings of Game 7 last year, and I know that hurt like hell. But what could top that pain?  I'll tell you what: going out and signing Schilling for the sole purpose of being unstoppable in a short series come October, being favored by Vegas and the experts, actually thinking "this is our year," and then GETTING SWEPT IN FOUR STRAIGHT INCLUDING A 19-8 SPANKING ON YOUR HOME TURF.  BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  I was so confident that this would be twice the sac-kick that last year's Boone home run was that I actually started typing up this taunting on Sunday night, with the Yanks leading in the 8th inning of Game Four. It seemed all over, what with Rivera in and all.

And then it all went to hell on Sunday night.  Then it all went to hell again on Monday night.  And it went to hell YET AGAIN last night (and this time ARod and the douchebag Yankee fans ensured that the trip south was an ignominious one).  Leaving us on the cusp of yet another Game 7, with all the momentum on Boston's favor.

Also leaving me to theorize ANOTHER Corollary of The Curse: that it would render all Boston defeats Extra Painful, but also that once it was finally to be broken, it would be broken in such an amazingly historical and memorable and GLORIOUS way so as to ALMOST make up for 86 years of misery.  Mere moments away from a thoroughly one-sided thrashing of a sweep, the Sox were.  Now, 27 outs away from the kind of comeback that will be talked about for as long as The Curse was.  The only way the Bambino would let this monkey off your back, Boston, is if it was removed in truly grand style.

Goddammit, Beantown, you realize you ARE going to win tonight, don't you? I hope you're all excited to FINALLY get to throw it back in my stupid face. Enjoy it while you can, that's all I can say: because all this will do is make George angry. And you don't like him when he's angry. [Although I hope and pray that, in his anger, he doesn't even CONTEMPLATE the thought of signing that fragile little bitch Pedro away from you; you guys keep him, OK? I'd rather get a starter who can last longer than 5 innings come October...]

So it's with this high level of foreboding that I must now attempt to regale you with a wrestling column. Congratulations, Boston, on your Certain Victory tonight.  Here's some ring rap for you:

  • I think we gotta start with a bit more of a breakdown of the past couple nights of RAW Brand Sports Entertainment Action...
     
    Because when I was puzzling out how to re-order the Front Page last night after the PPV, I realized that really, this was a unique situation for WWE: a chance to do back-to-back nights of storytelling, but for the first time ever, with the free/set-up show coming first, and then the pay-off show following the next night.
     
    We're all used to blowing stuff off on a PPV, and then the next night, it's kind of a re-set on RAW...  but this was an opportunity for WWE to create massive amounts of momentum, and 24 hours later, to hit us hard with a knock-out punch of a PPV.
     
    And taking the 5 hours of action as a whole, I'm not entirely sure WWE capitalized on the possibilities open to them. After a RAW that I thought did pretty much everything right (or at least, did very little outright wrong save for thinking anybody cares about Spaz and Playmate), the PPV had its highlights, but still only built up to an anti-climactic 9-minute main event and an Attempted Randall Orton Moment, almost completely unraveling a lot of the good done not only on the preceding RAW, but also earlier on the PPV itself.
     
    With 12 extra hours of hindsight, I do realize that the limitations on Shawn Michaels probably made pulling him down out of the main event seem like a reasonable proposition. It was a circumstance WWE had to deal with... but my counter argument would be simple: that YES you consider demoting the World Title match, but then once you look at the rest of your line-up and realize nothing else is ready to bring the show rushing home, you say, "OK, sorry guys, but HBK and HHH, it's you in the main event, cuz you'll still have the match that most fans get into, and at this point, the most important story we have to tell is Edge's."
     
    But that's not what WWE did.  The back-to-back nights SHOULD have been Edge's coming out party, the sentimental story of the night SHOULD have been HBK laying it all out there one last time in what may (or may not) be his last match for a while... and while WWE can still retroactively spin things that way, the fact is that they opted to shoe-horn Randy Orton into a spot that he's still not quite ready for (and prefaced his match with a momentum-killing 10 minutes of recap and filler, to boot), and thus, Taboo Tuesday limped to its conclusion, effectively castrating the back-to-back events. Well, at least PARTIALLY castrating.  I realize my desire to have nice, big, satisfying finishes is probably a quirk you don't share (or at least, don't share as zealously), but I think an anti-climax to a contiguous 5 hours of action is still a Bad Thing.
     
    Shuffle the top two matches at Taboo Tuesday, and the vibe of the back-to-back nights is just slightly different. The World Title is front and center; the RIGHT young-buck-on-the-rise had his story told in the main event; and the Orton/Flair "moment" could rightly be recast not as some Watershed Event (which feels oh-so-forced), but as a stepping stone to future intriguing developments in the Character Building of Randy Orton.  I feel quite strongly about this.
     
    And look, an interlude to address the Orton fans: at least this time, you're only PARTIALLY missing the point. Because yes, part of me is NOT ripping on Orton's inadequacies, but rather pointing out that WWE continues to do no favors by forcing him into roles he's not ready for. And whether you like it or not, that STILL means I have nothing but the highest regard for Orton's potential! But at least on this night, yes, there actually IS an "Orton wasn't very good tonight" component to my Pissiness Vector. Because I swear to you, people, those of you who wrote in honestly opining that Orton/Flair was the match of the night, and I need to quit my Orton Hating and admit it have GOT to be smoking something funky.  Or maybe you're just the ilk of fan who are easily distracted by Crimson Masks, and equate that with Quality Wrestling.  But I'm not; not even when a guy I LIKE (Eddie) tried to use 2004's Grossest Blade Job to cover up JBL's short-comings, it didn't work for me.  And when you take away the blood, all you had was 9 abbreviated minutes of punch-kick-chop, uncomfortably long displays of Old Man Ass, punch-kick-chop, fans cheering more for Flair than for Orton, punch-kick-chop, and then a finish that came out of nowhere.  Match of the Night, my ass.  It wasn't bad, mind you, and it might even have been the best match the two could have considering one of them is 55 years old and the other still hasn't shown he can be consistently better than average.  That's fine, I got a few kicks in myself, and you can like the match however much you want.  But don't be telling me that I'm letting some internal bias blind me to the "indisputable match of the night."
     
    Oh, and as to Orton's "Moment"? Look, it's telling the the most boos Ric Flair has gotten the last two weeks are when he (a) was talking about how "great" Orton is, and (b) when he extended his hand to congratulate Orton. Fans aren't so dumb as WWE would like to believe. They are capable of deciding "greatness" for themselves, and I think by and large, we all still look at Orton and see "potential."  And that means he might be a "potential Rock" or could sputter into a "potential Lex Luger."  The "greatness" is not there, and we will NOT have it dictated to us.  And further, we get annoyed when ones we HAVE dubbed great are forced to go out and ham-handedly opine that clearly-lesser performers are the NEW "greats." Fans even get antsy when Flair puts over HHH as a great wrestler...  that feeling is amplified a thousand-fold when he has to go out there and say the same sorts of things about Orton, who has had a grand total of one (1) match in his career to date that is "DVD Compilation Worthy" (to coin a new heuristic of significance and memorable-goodness) and who has cut more memorably-bad promos than memorably-good ones. I'm not saying this isn't a story worth telling between Flair and Orton, but I'm saying trying to use This Moment as the PPV climax felt forced and lame to me.  
     
    Whereas a PPV climax that had Shawn Michaels somehow coaxing a *** match out of one good leg and along the way convincing us that he STILL could have won the World Title, only to have it snatched away by that prick Edge, would have been an Unhappy Ending, yes, but also wouldn't have felt nearly as manufactured.  I honestly think the big winner of this pair of shows is Edge; but WWE didn't lay it out in such a way that that'll be the story.  They're still too intent on doing whatever it is they want to do with Orton, despite the fact that they clearly don't have any idea HOW to do it.
     
  • OK, even I can tell I'm getting a little rant-y there, so deep breath, fresh bullet point, and we'll leave massive theoretical discussions about Orton for another time.
     
    First, just a couple additional thoughts from Monday's RAW...
     
    I was a fan of the "McMahon Endorsement" skit and the resulting match, since it did exactly what I think it should have done: elevated Shelton, and did it in entertaining/convincing fashion; I was VERY displeased, however, that they seem to have planted to seeds for the break-up of the Rhyno/Tajiri team by COMPLETELY FAILING TO SHOW OR EVER MENTION IN DETAIL the part about how I guess Rhyno eliminated Tajiri during a commercial.  Assholes...
     
    Of course, I also like just about everything with Edge, Michaels, and Benoit; the "debate" was fun, with Edge bringing the Prick, Benoit bringing the Intense, and Michaels bringing the Laid-Back (as witnessed by him being more concerned with regaling us with his Kerry Impersonation than actually making a point, but still having it come across pretty cool). And the match was really solid, too; and the story of the night (Edge has these guys' numbers) was exactly what it had to be, as well.
     
    Other thoughts: the Spaz/Playmate bit was stupid, and contrary to Lawler's rambling, not the least bit hot, nor did it give any fan over the age of 14 any reason to like Christy; time better invested elsewhere, obviously....  the six-woman match didn't accomplish a whole lot, either, except that I got the distinct vibe that Gail was kind of designated the Chump of her team, which made it feel like she could start a face turn out of this (but then at the PPV, they switched it up like maybe Molly'd go face after getting screwed by Trish; all I can say is either would work for me, since it'd let Jazz move up a spot and shine since she can really only be a heel; Gail can go face a bit easier, maybe, cuz -- duh -- she's hot, and also she's spent the last many months inventing those cool new submission moves; but don't count Molly out, who I have a TON of ideas for how you could make her into a Foley-esque character who epitomizes Substance over Style -- don't believe me? then just think back to right after WM20 when there were "Molly Molly" Chants of Respect when she'd get de-wigged!)...  who the hell was Snitsky talking to on the phone? Well, kids, me sitting at home could not help but remember how I've been talking about Matt Hardy's eventual return to TV and how it might not be as smooth sailing as you might have imagined.  I'm kind of attached to this idea of Lita kinda taking a liking to Kane after he's nobly defended her and her dead baby, and also to a jealous jerk of a Matt returning (possibly revealing some naughty bits about the strings he was pulling while he was gone, if you catch my drift)....
     
    For full RAW details, you can take a gander at Erin Anderson's RAW Recap... or as she insisted I call it, the bRAWd Recap. Turns out to have been a serendipitous return for Erin, since when we figured this out a couple weeks back, I had no freaking idea that there'd even be a Yankee game on Monday, much less one that would start in the afternoon and last all the way past 11pm, rendering me worthless for any attempted RAW Recap.  I really only watched RAW in about 80 minutes flat (and not in a good mood after the game) on Monday before bed...  would not have made for a good recap by The Me.  I'd also cocktailed during the game, starting at 5pm, and by the 14th inning, I'd drank enough that, goddammit, I had killed off enough IQ points that I was Tim McCarver's intellectual equal.  True story: during Tim Wakefield's final inning of work, Joe Buck noted that the knuckleballer had been "nearly unhittable." Me, wound-up as hell and not above talking to myself, actually muttered out loud "yeah, and nearly uncatchable" (after 3 passed balls the previous inning).  Ten seconds later, what does Jackass McCaver say?  You guessed it... "And he's been nearly uncatchable, too, Joe."  I was so embarrassed I briefly contemplated giving up drinking forever, if *this* is what it does to me. Beating JR to his own commentary, I've been doing that for years, drunk or sober, and it's kind of fun... but I'm no McCaver, dagnabbit.  I'm better than that!
     
    Anyway, the punchline to all this is a hearty Thank You to Erin not only for doing a dandy job with the recap, but for doing so on what turned out to be a VERY necessary Monday night. Now if only the Yankees had won that game, it would have been a perfect convergence of all the stars and planets....
     
  • But no, as it stood, the Yanks lost, which meant that for all the headaches I'd been saved on Monday night, I *did* have to deal with trying to watch both wrestling AND baseball AND do a recap last night.
     
    Just for the sake of completion, I'll tell you that if you're still in need of complete Taboo Tuesday results/analysis, you can find the match-by-match recap right here. Yeah, I was distracted for parts of the show, but I think I got the details down pretty well.  The recap will get you where you need to go, and with only a minimum of the involved PPV editorializing that I did above!
     
  • And I'm happy to report that I probably am not the only one who has been massively distracted by baseball the past 2 nights...
     
    On Monday, RAW drew a 3.0 cable rating, one of the lowest numbers I can recall in a long while, and a drop of about half a point from recent averages.  Looking at a few other numbers, the drop quickly becomes attributable to one thing: Playoff Baseball on FOX.
     
    FOX's ratings for split national coverage (the marathon ALCS game almost completely overlapped a sweet-ass pitching duel in the NLCS game that started at 8:30pm, forcing FOX to regionalize its coverage of the two games, but MOST of the US saw the entire Yanks game) were massive, blowing away all the other networks for the night.  They more than doubled-up Monday Night Football, as well (YES~! Even if the outcome sucked, I love people getting excited for baseball~). 
     
    And obviously, NYC and Boston are HUGE chunks out of WWE's northeastern fanbase, too.  So it's not surprising that RAW took a massive hit on Monday.  The problem is that Monday's show was the final push for a PPV, and was missed by about 15% of RAW's usual audience.  The problem is compounded by the fact that those who ditched RAW to watch baseball on Monday suddenly had a Game Six on Tuesday to worry about, which probably meant that (unless they were as resourceful as me) they weren't gonna bother with the PPV, anyway.
     
    Tough break, schedule-wise, for WWE... a little rain in Boston last Friday seems to have really shaken things up and stolen some of RAW's thunder....
     
  • An update on Shawn Michaels....
     
    Whatever happened to him on Monday, turns out, it happened during the commercial break.  Reports from Chicago are that during the break is when fans noticed the ref flashing the dreaded "X"...
     
    So that explains why it was freaking IMPOSSIBLE to get a handle on what was up during the show itself.  As I was watching my recording, half my brain was "Jeez, Michaels must really be hurt because he's NEVER sold an injury so much that he made his own moves look bad" but the other half was, "Well, christ, I didn't see any one spot go wrong, HHH has got this covered PERFECTLY on commentary to make it part of the story, and if Michaels is so hurt, why's he even TRYING to do things like nip up only to have it look horrible?"...
     
    I didn't know what to make of it at the time, but the e-mails I got overnight on Monday explain it all clearly enough.  The injury (actually, severe aggravation of an existing condition) happened during the ad break, so that's why we didn't see it, and that's also why HHH had enough time (probably in consultation with the Magical Voices In His Headset) to come up with the cover story about Michaels "faking it," that even played into the PPV.
     
    And now, we can confirm that Shawn will have knee surgery within the week to repair a torn medial meniscus.  I *believe* this is the final breakdown of a knee condition Michaels had been battling since the winter, albeit one that had been misreported in numerous different ways on the grounds that none of us writing these stupid news columns are doctors nor are any of the guys feeding us the news.  I know that when I was hearing stuff, it was always about the "medial collateral ligament" (the "MCL"), and if that word was going around, less-versed internet goons probably just turned that into "ACL" (anterior cruciate ligament) on the grounds that ACL injuries are much more common and talked-about.  If I'm not mistaken, I took a very vocal stance against the ACL-injury school of thought, and was vindicated by a number of doctor readers who said that Michaels could not have a torn ACL and still have his knee function at all.  So at the time, I figured I might be right about the less-series MCL deal.
     
    Now, I'm guessing the only thing I had right was the word "medial." Oh, well, like I said: I'm not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV.  But I remember some anatomy, and I've had to read up on enough Sports Injuries of my favorite athletes (wrestlers and otherwise) to tell you that the meniscus, in simplest terms, is like a buffer in the knee joint, a bit of spongy cartilage that keeps the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) from rubbing up against each other.  Tears or deterioration of the meniscus aren't serious, necessarily (in fact, if I remember my "Beyond the Mat," I believe Terry Funk has almost total degredation of the meniscus in one of his knees, creating a chronic arthritic condition, but still going out and working periodically despite the condition; and also, this is why HHH could target the knee and pound on it, cuz the damage was already done, he wasn't gonna make it any worse), but are EXTREMELY painful because they can result on bone-on-bone contact where none should be happening.
     
    Prior to the full tear of the meniscus, the preferred treatment is non-surgical, and I'm guessing that's a lot of what went into Michaels lengthy vacation this summer. But now with this development, he'll require surgery to simply be able to walk around pain-free later in life (no Funk-caliber haze of pain for HBK, at least!), and as far as wrestling goes, he knee would be prone to locking up if the bone-on-bone contact happened just wrong and stuff like that.  The good news is that assuming that Michaels' meniscus was in relatively decent shape after his summer rehabbing but before this tear, and assuming that no additional damage is found when the doctors check out the knee, the recovery time that I remember from past guys having this surgery is always right around a month.  Maybe 6 weeks.  Even if you factor in a little bit of extra time just cuz Michaels is maybe a bit older than the in-prime baseball and baseketball players I remember having this surgery, the extra wear-and-tear on him still shouldn't push his return back TOO far.
     
    I'd say Survivor Series is a long-shot, but if HBK's not back at full-speed by the Royal Rumble, it'll be because there's more wrong with him than a torn meniscus.  Do NOT write him out of your WrestleMania 21 plans, or anything....
     
  • And then there's Kane....
     
    The finish to his match against Snitsky last night was very convoluted and awkward (the chair shouldn't have been legal, right?), but CLEARLY sent the message that Kane would be taking a little vacation.
     
    And as we all know, he's due one so that he can go make a movie... except that my understanding was that that wouldn't be happening for another month or two.  Well, guess I understood wrong, cuz that's the only reason they'd do that angle with Kane last night: to give him his 3 or so months off to do the likely-to-suck-if-the-title-is-any-indication "Eye Scream Man."
     
    I'd thought it was gonna be a November-through-January vacation for Kane, getting back just in time for WM21 storylines...  perhaps we've got a deal where movie shooting has been pushed up so that Kane can be back in time for the Rumble?  Hell, in the absence of Concrete Information, that's the theory I'll float out there for you kids....
     
  • Vince McMahon and WWE did an in-ring farewell to Pat Patterson last night at the Taboo Tuesday PPV...  Vince put Pat over for his years of service and creativity, Pat got to sing "My Way," and the fans gave him a nice ovation.  And, as I rambled about last Wednesday, thus continues the shift of Whose Opinions Vince Values towards the younger generation...
     
    Also at the PPV last night in Milwaukee, they ran a dark match to warm the crowd up (since there was no Heat to serve that purpose)...  it was another go-round for "Mohammed Hasaan" and his manager, who got crazy heat for Being Different Than Us, and I guess got DQ'ed against Sgt. Slaughter.  The Muslim gimmick is probably getting real close to being ready for TV, so keep an eye out.
     
  • Many people writing in to tell me that the Tough Enough finalists have been selected and blah blah blah....
     
    Guess what, folks?  I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!  I may love not spoiling SD! for myself, but I'm gonna keep on loving watching it on a time-shift so I can FF that crap the same as I did the Diva Search nonsense on RAW.
     
    Just putting a "WWE" stamp on something doesn't make it worth my time.  And although I've always been intrigued by training sessions and stuff I've seen with Les Thatcher in Cinci and stuff, the fabricated drama of Reality TV trumps the wrestling aspects of "Tough Enough" as far as I could ever tell from my 10 minutes of watching part of Season One. And if being tricked into caring about the uninteresting people competing on that show appeals to you, well, you have my condolences.
     
    But you won't have my recapping/reporting on it here at OO. Sorry.
     
    On the other hand: the convergence of Taboo Tuesday, WWE's fetish for "mini-series" (like the Diva Search and now Tough Enough), and my own Prodigiously Large Brain has resulted in An Idea.  A NEAT idea.  An idea that would probably electrify wrestling fans, score huge numbers, and make WWE a lot of money!
     
    And an idea that I'll stupidly give away for free here before too long. Maybe even on Friday, depending on exactly how many Guided by Voices shows will be making up my Midwestern Weekend of Rock (if the answer is "more than one," and it might be, then you can forget about me writing anything this weekend) and when Erin tells me whether or not she was serious about throwing down enough rum-and-cokes to come up with the inspiration to come at you twice this week.
     
    So stay tuned for the POSSIBILITY of the publication of an idea that so money that even IT knows it.
     
  • And with this, yeah, I'm running low on material.  I'll just close up by quickly patting myself on the back for a pretty decent night of predictioning at Taboo Tuesday.  I mean, compared to how I usually do, at least...
     
    NOTE: you can go back and read the predictions I made in Monday's column, but I *did* change one thing... I changed my IC Title challenger to Shelton, and have witnesses to prove it.  I still picked Jericho to win the match, though.
     
    So out of eight matches, I guessed right on the VOTING aspects of six of them (missed the chain and the pillow fight stips, got the rest)... and guessed right on the WHO WINS aspects of five of them.  So out of 16 guesses, I got 11 right, for a score of 68.8%, which is DAMNED good.  Considering that my running tally against the trOOps for more conventional PPVs is less than 50%.
     
  • So that's it. No promises, but with 3 possible GbV shows in the region (and me motivated to catch them as often as I can, since it's their farewell tour) and with baseball and with all kinds of other stuff going on, there's at least an outside chance that I'll be missing in action on Friday. But there's also a chance that I'll be going to a grand total of only 1 GbV concert and that the Yanks will be eliminated tonight, too.... so I might be here afterall.
     
    You just never know!  The only thing you CAN count on is that no matter what, I'll make sure there's cool stuff here for you to check out the next couple days no matter what.  I promise you an Inside the Ropes from the Canadian Bulldog tomorrow that'll absolutely slay you.  Awesome stuff.  And the New Guy (Pyrofalkon) has submitted a Rebuttal Column that takes issue with his boss and which will see the light of day one of the next couple afternoons, depending on when I need material. And also depending on whether or not I decide to sack PF for his heinous insubordination! 
     
    So you'd best just make sure to make regular stops back here to see what goes up and when! And who might get fired!  
     
    See you when I see you, kids! Maybe Friday, maybe Monday, but almost certainly humbled by the unbelievably gutsy Boston Red Sox. It's inevitable.* 


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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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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