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Beginning of the End of 2004, plus
SD!, New ECW?, and Other News...
December 20, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


And today marks the beginning of the end of the Wrestling Year 2004. And even in the non-wrestling world, the year-end push is upon us...  over the weekend, I was watching FUSE (it's like MTV, except it doesn't suck; if you've got digital cable, look for it, as they play Actual Music Videos, and lots of them, and actually do seem to have a bit of a preference towards The Rock), and they got into the act with their Top 30 Rock Countdown of 2004.
Which turned out to be more instructive than I'd thought. I kinda thought I'd know about how the countdown would go, and would certainly recognize all the bands featured. I mean, what am I if not a hard-drinking, hard-rocking son of a gun, right? But it didn't turn out that way at all. Instead, I got way more of a lesson as to exactly how many things   

are cohabitating under the "umbrella" of "Rock."  Which is cool, in its way, since it meant being introduced to a few new acts, and I don't mind checking out new things. But it also got annoying when, after even one viewing, just about each one of the 4 artists I hadn't seen before sucked ass (let's just say there's good reasons why nobody I know dared tell me to check out Chevelle!).  And when FUSE insisted on putting other things that sucked ass into the Top 10...

Seeing all manner of different things crammed together into one countdown, however, did help me isolate a few of my rules for Identifying Crap Rock. First and foremost, any lead singer who EMOTES instead of singing? Crap Rock. Think Creed; think Live; and now, think about half the fucking bands passing themselves off as mainstream rock in 2004. And keep in mind, I don't use "emo" as a label in describing music, for the simple reason that going back 3 years, I discovered it was pointless, since nobody knew what it meant even though they kept using it since it proved your were a knowledgeable member of the Music Underground (or at least, that's how it worked here in Dayton; somebody in one band *I* thought was "emo" would make fun of another band for being "emo," and my head would just explode; so fuck it, NO LABELS!, but I simply call bullshit on any pussbag who can't get behind a mic and sing, scream, shout, yell, and if necessary, bust it OOld schOOL with some crOOning on a power ballad; but "emoting"? Is for douchebags).  Want to know why Orton and Edge's new theme songs blow such expert donkey dick? Because, they fire up, and within 10 seconds, this bitch-slappable cock-smoker will start emoting his Anthemic Lyrics in His Deeply Meaningful Voice, completely drowning out anything resembling the Actual Rock.  It's awful, and again: anybody who likes either of those theme songs has a problem, ESPECIALLY because in each case, they replaced exceptionally GOOD wrestling theme songs (Orton's Motorhead one, and Edge's Rob Zombie one).
A few other little rules: Anytime it sounds like more time, energy, and effort was put into PRODUCING a song than into WRITING it? Crap Rock. When I can sit here and envision the production process and it includes, "Hey, we couldn't both to come up with any decent hook to this song, so let's just confuse the issue by putting in some keyboards that sound really weenieriffic,"  or "Hey, our douchebag lead singer's voice is not nearly loud or processed enough in this mix; let's really let his emoting shine through with these bogus reverb and fake chorus effects!", that's when I get annoyed.  Also: Any band who SETS OUT to write an "anthem" of any kind? Crap Rock. I'm not just talking about tripe like Randy Orton's "Theme From Dumb Guy" (the anthem of utilizing one's sub-normal intellect to "take what's mine"), I'm talking about a couple actual songs on the FUSE countdown that included "anthem" (or a synonym) in the title, and which some self-important dickheads apparently meant to be embraced by millions.  I hate that.  You write the rock song, and let the kids decide if it moves them.  I mean christ, "Teen Spirit"? He's singing about albinos and mosquitos and shit, and yet, it was adopted as the anthem of a generation. Stuff like that just happens, you don't MAKE it happen, crap rockers.

So anyway, over the course of 3 hours, I was struck by all kinds of violations of these rules. How Jimmy Eat World and Linkin Park (they were actually #2 on the entire countdown with their POP song, which has no place on a ROCK countdown) are so highly rated is beyond me. But then it was cool to see the rule-breakers thrown into relief by periodic things like The Killers (in the top 10 with "Somebody Told Me"), who really do gloss up their rock (breaking Rule #2 at almost every turn), but remember to actually have a real rock song and a great hook/riff behind it so that if you took away the disco-pop accoutrements, you'd still have a kick-ass tune. [Kinda reminds me of the Russel Simins solo record that came out 3-4 years ago in that regard; I shouldn't really like it, but I do, and were I one to boogie-down, it'd be to something like this.] Proof you CAN violate my stupid-ass rules and still be quality rock.  

On the flip-side, you had a band like Modest Mouse who doesn't really break any of my rules, but just kind of annoys me by being way over-rated. I mean, they already had never ever blown me away, but were vaguely tolerable in that "Indie Rock That Sometimes Forgets To Actually Rock Because It's Trying Too Hard To Be Original" kind of way. And then they go and get super-famous off this shitty and UNoriginal Dave-Matthews-sounding "Float On" nonsense. 

So maybe my rules are not to be given too much credence? I *am* kinda making this up as a I go along, but I think they hold up for explaining some of the New Suck in wrestling themes, if nothing else... and fact is, if you accept my rules, then you *will* find yourself gravitating towards some of the genuinely cool stuff that was featured on the FUSE countdown (like Franz Ferdinand and Jet -- who actually had just about my favorite single/video of the year with "Cold Hard Bitch," which is all the proof I need that any band who aspires to be any fancier than AC/DC is missing the damned point of rock 'n' roll, although it's technically off an album released in 2003 -- and even some old men who did it right in 2004 like U2 and Green Day; I wonder how the Hives didn't make it in, dammit?!?). 

Anyway, as we begin filling up time and space here at OO with our own Year-End Awards/Reviews, you might need to cleanse the palate with some non-wrestling year-end fluffery. I endorse the FUSE Rock Countdown as a decent, and instructive (if sometimes frustrating), way to spend some time. I didn't actually see it all in one sitting, but rather over the course of three different airings, so I'm sure you'll have plenty of chances to find further repeats over the next 2 weeks.  Just keep your eyes peeled...

And yeah, I guess with the wrestling year done, that last 8 paragraphs was probably a pretty transparent attempt at filler. Let's try to milk a wrestling column out of today's news and views:

  • RAW tonight? Just a best-of show... take a pass if you want.
    Or at least do like I'm gonna: I got a UD basketball game tonight, and then a party afterwards, and I won't feel an iota of shame if I come home and watch RAW tomorrow afternoon on heavy FF. I'm more just gonna use it to shore up some of my year-end picks and stuff, than anything.
    The reason? Because I'm sure that this will be the WWE Standard Review Show; rather than honestly present the BEST of 2004, they'll be compelled to give us ALL of 2004 (including all of the copious Suck) and will try to convince us that it was all super-mega-awesome. And I just don't need to see even one second of the Diva Search, or any replay of the Lita/Kane wedding, or a 10 minute video package on how this was Randy Orton's Year of Destiny.
    That said: WWE is also promising to focus on a few good things, including the Benoit/Michaels/HHH main event from WM20. So that's why I am still plenty interested in recording the show for later viewing.  Just to remind myself of where certain wrestlers and/or matches should stand in relation to each other.
    So I guess this is the part where I encourage you to check out RAW tonight. Unlike the other 51 weeks of the year, however, I can't promise you a Sweet Ass Recap tomorrow. Because if you think I (or Erin, or anyone else) is gonna sit around and recap a recap show, you're crazy.  I suppose this is the week I can give you all a free pass to whore yourself out to other wrestling websites if you really need some half-assed review of RAW's year-in-review. Except that I can't even imagine any of the other websites bothering to recap this nonsense, either.  Or if they do, they got way more free time on their hands than we do.
    Also: Matt Hocking has assured me there will be no RAW Satire tomorrow, either.  It's practically like it won't be Tuesday at all!  See, this is what happens around the holidays: everything gets all discomboobulated...
    So: watch RAW tonight. Or don't. Or watch it later on heavy FF. Whatever works for you. But don't count on OO to have your back this week.  OO has a life, you see.
  • Last week's SmackDown! was... interesting.
    In what might be the strongest sign that JBL is a more valuable performer and stronger heel than some of us would like to give him credit for, he essentially managed to turn Kurt Angle babyface, even if just for one night.  Considering how loathe fans have been to embrace Kurt as a babyface, that's pretty remarkable.
    Now, that said, I don't think this'll lead anywhere in terms of an actual Angle face turn. It sure as hell felt like SD! put Angle and JBL together as an excuse to introduce Big Show to JBL, to kind of "pass him off" to JBL... and going back a few weeks, you all know that's fine with me.  Show comes out, decimates both Team Angle and JBL's Cabinet, pretty much cements himself as a super-bad-ass, and by the Royal Rumble, if he's not the guy giving JBL the biggest headaches, I'll eat a bug.
    At this point, I actually don't see any reason to have anybody but JBL holding the title come WM21; he's sucked for this long, so let's make his eventual loss come on the biggest stage of all. Show, of everybody on the SD! roster, might be the perfect guy to take him down.  [Taker, Eddie, and Booker have had their shots, and I don't care what anybody else says, but pulling the trigger on Cena this year would be a mistake; it would have almost been better to use Cena LAST year, before the cracks started showing up, and he became a mouthpiece for poop and fart jokes.]
    The rest of the show? Kind of forgettable. I thought it was awful that they did the Rey/RVD vs. Kidman/Akio match, but only gave it like 4-5 minutes; it was short enough that you could almost ask yourself why they'd bothered. It's not like Rey and RVD get anything just by beating Kidman/Akio... but all FOUR men could have won if they'd gotten a 10-minute slot to blow people away.  Does that make sense?
    Then you had vast tracts of FF'able crap.  At least a half-hour of it, it seemed like.  I think I threw SD! on at about 2am on Thursday, and watched it in about 45 minutes flat; take out commercials, take out Tough Enough, and take out the replay of the ENTIRE fricking Cena/Jesus match from the PPV, and that's really all that was left.
    That said, those 45 minutes were pretty interesting (what with the Angle quasi-turn, and the intriguing little Carlito/JBL summit, and... well, um, I guess that was really about it; Angle/JBL was cool, the rest, I've either already forgotten or didn't know about to begin with).  Perhaps with my memory on the fritz, what we all need to do is check Big Danny T's SD! Recap for additional details...
  • The rating for last week's SD! was a 3.5. Very solid.
  • Unlike RAW, SD! *this* week actually shapes up as an interesting little show. Last year's Iraq Christmas show was more than just a "televised house show" as it did actually fit into storylines and featured a title change; all that ON TOP of the unique feel of an even staged outdoors in a war zone.
    This year, the matches/event will be taped at a venue safely away from Baghdad, but a bunch of the WWE stars will be making trips into Iraq to visit with troops on the front line, and that footage will be interspersed with the matches to create Thursday night's 2 hour show.
    We already know that Undertaker vs. Heidenreich will be our main event (OK, so maybe that's a sign for some of you to NOT tune in!), but JBL is being forced to be there by GM Teddy Long, and based on last week, I'm guessing that Useless Diva Search Losers Joy and Amy will be Making Themselves Useful For Once! Stripping each other naked for our boys in uniform would be very nice of them...
  • Probably the biggest name NOT going on the SD! tour of the middle east is Rob Van Dam.  The tour was entirely voluntary, and RVD opted out.
    Of course, the tour was "entirely voluntary" in the same way that me wearing a protective cup when umpiring behind the plate was "entirely voluntary."  It was a lot easier and more comfortable to NOT do it, but I kinda opened myself up for VERY bad things to happen to me a couple times.  In this case, RVD even had a Bonus Sitdown Meeting with Vince McMahon, but STILL volunteered to stay at home. Conspiracy theories have arisen in the last week as to what this might mean for RVD's push... except that c'mon: at this point, RVD's bucked just about every trend and been true to himself for so long that one more straw ain't gonna break THIS camel's back. My guess is that as long as there's money to be made off of RVD by keeping him in the spotlight, he'll be in it. It's not like he's gonna be World Champ material at this point, but he wasn't gonna be that even if he *did* go to Iraq.
    But we'll see....  if the RVD/Rey team suddenly loses the tag belts to the Bashams or something, then maybe you can commence the conspiratorial whispering...
  • Speaking of conspiratorial whispering, there has been a massive upsurge in people asking about a possible ECW pay-per-view happening in 2005.
    I know nothing solid, only that NObody thinks that Paul Heyman's recent split from SD!'s creative team is part of a "work" to get him to head-up a "new ECW." That doesn't mean it isn't possible, since back in 1997, almost NObody knew that Paul was paying some of his talents with the WWF's money, either. Unlike most, that man can keep a secret.
    And it also doesn't mean that WWE wouldn't try to co-opt the ECW name in their on-going effort to try to add PPV events to its own calendar. And with or without Heyman, it would almost make PERFECT sense to me if WWE quit dicking around with generic, half-assed RAW and SD! PPVs, and tried to do something unique.  I mean, last summer, they stole the old "Great American Bash" name from WCW; to say that worked out terribly would be an understatement. Why not borrow a "Heatwave" or a "Hardcore Heaven" in 2005, instead?  Without Heyman in 100% control, it might still kinda suck, but at least it'd probably suck in a unique and interesting way.
    And if I'm gonna be obligated to write about 16-18 PPVs per year, and if only about one third of those are gonna have any business actually existing, then is it really asking SO much to have the other two-thirds suck in unique and interesting ways?
    We'll see what happens. Again, I've got no details on this other than it might be something WWE is eyeballing for early summer, but that at this point, it's *NOT* part of some grand scheme for Paul Heyman to show up in charge of an entire new ECW, and might still amount to nothing...  I dunno.
  • And speaking of "extreme" elements, WWE is tentatively planning on having them be featured on the SD!-brand "No Way Out" PPV in February.  A bunch of my associates in the cable industry forwarded me early promotional materials for that PPV, and it includes hype for the "first ever" Barbed Wire Cage Match. Doesn't say who's involved, but does put the gimmick over as the first time it's ever been done in WWE.
    Curiously, the PPV is happening in Pittsburgh, PA, which is kinda like ECW's home away from home away from home.  After Philly and NYC, Pitt was pretty much a fortress for ECW (thanks in a large part to hometown boy Shane Douglas' promotional work there).
    You want *me* to weave my Fantasy Booking Web for you? How about Paul Heyman returns to TV after the new year (after Heidenreich gets squashed by Taker and sent back to OVW to sit out his contract), and challenges Teddy Long for the GM-ship of SD!.  He somehow manages to take enough control to book the barbed wire cage match in February, but is eventually maneuvered out of power. So Heyman shows up and tries the same thing over on RAW in March, but Bischoff is too entrenched.  And then, on the RAW after WM21 (or on the RAW a week after that), I like the idea of making the "Brand Lottery" an annual thing, and on that show, with all of RAW and SD! in one building, you have Paul Heyman show up and crash the party...  and before the night is up, Heyman and about a half-dozen RAW stars and a half-dozen SD! stars "secede" from WWE. They aren't all allies, either; they might even be blood enemies of each other or of Paul, but they are sick and tired of being passed over by WWE, so they've resumed Drinking the Kool-Aid, and want to work for Paul instead of for Eric or Teddy.  Thus forms a de facto "ECW" that actually spans both shows.  
    Heyman will show up on both shows and maybe book one or two matches per week with his guys, and of course, the half-dozen or so guys will also intermingle with the others on the roster (although they "work" for Paul, they have to honor their RAW and SD! contracts, which might be a sticky wicket, but which I think just needs a deft bit of storytelling to get around), but the whole idea is to build up the ECW identity by having them wrestling EACH OTHER in matches that don't look like what most WWE matches look like.  In this way, you'd get your "new ECW" KIND OF, and you'd get it without totally raping the RAW and SD! rosters.  This could easily build up to Heyman declaring that he's taking ECW back to PPV, and for the special occasion, you'd augment the existing dozen or so Kool-Aid Drinkers with a few other names (Dreamer, Sandman, Sabu, gotta bring back Joey Styles for that night, probably paired with Cyrus, unless somebody can unearth the bloated mound of chest hair that was Joel Gertner, and so on), and you do an ECW PPV over the summer, and those free agents go away again until such time as ECW is deemed worthy of another PPV (me? I'd vote for 2 per year, and one of 'em would have to be November to Remember).
    Yes, it's unrealistic, and yes, there are plenty of holes in my little idea... but off the top of my head, it ain't so bad, is it? I mean, ECW's back, but without really hamstringing RAW or SD!, you *can* run PPVs, but you don't make Vince McMahon insecure by actually running ECW as a separate show that might topple him in the ratings (and unlike a Diva Search or Tough Enough, ECW as a "show within a show" would NOT SUCK!), and I think you get exactly the right mix of seeing ECW as nostalgia and as still thriving so it wouldn' wear out its welcome.
    That said, disregard this entire bullet point, it ain't happening.
    Hell, that barbed wire cage match might not even happen; early hype distributed to cable operators has been about 50% accurate over the last several years.
  • Saw Triple H on "Conan" back on Wednesday... and I was rather underwhelmed.  For one, they didn't really cover a whole lot of interesting ground. Stupid movie this, even stupider book that...  and the whole time, Trips was kinda doing his "I'm a cocky heel, but I'm only PRETENDING to be a cocky heel, so you can laugh at my cocky heelishness" thing, except that for the first time I can recall, there wasn't much of anything likeable in his assholitude. He just really did come off like kind of a cock.
    At least till the end, when he did his only funny riffing of the interview by talking about his movie career versus Hulk Hogan's. Say what you will about Hogan and his import to the wrestling business, but movie-wise, it pretty much WAS all downhill from the so-bad-it-was-almost-good "No Holds Barred"...
    Also: "Blade 3" has fallen off the face of the earth after a strong opening day. Even by its first weekend, it had dropped off precipitously, and finished 2nd for that week behind "Ocean's 12".  Then this week, it dropped to either 5th or 6th (we'll have to wait till final numbers are released, but it's close) and made only $6.5 million to bring its 2 week tally to $35 million.  Which means that as anemic as The Rock's showing for "Walking Tall" was, "Blade 3" will have work to do if it wants to match those numbers...
    It's worth noting: the movie was so awful that Wesley Snipes has apparently refused to do any publicity for it (but because of his contract, he was obligated to perform in it). Which is why they are digging out bit players like HHH to go on Conan. So save your $9.50, would be my advice.
  • Oh, you know that "brand lottery" thing I mentioned above? Well, already SOME have bunched their panties over a unique TV taping scheduled for 1/31/05 (the night after the Royal Rumble)...  rather than schedule two nights of tapings after the Rumble, WWE will tape both RAW and SD! on the same night.
    Because the show is in California, RAW will go live to the world at 6pm (local time), and then fans will sit tight for a bit while they change out parts of the set (and probably conduct some of the B-show matches) and fire up the SD! taping. It'll make for one long-ass marathon session for fans, but hell, it's no worse than the TV tapings I went to in grade school and high school where it was 4-5 hours and ALL SQUASHES.
    Of course, having both the RAW and SD! crews in one place on the same night has many wondering if they might take advantage of that for some cross-brand wackiness. Hey, if WM21 is gonna feature cross-brand matches, it would NOT surprise me in the least.  Coming off the cross-brand Rumble PPV (where you know some RAW vs. SD! things will simmer in the Rumble match), it'd just make sense....
    You want my Current Worst Nightmare? Given that Taker and Heidenreich have renewed hostilities, and given that Kane is coming back to face Snitsky, and given that Snitsky likes Heidenreich's poetry...  c'mon, do the math yourself, it almost hurts me too much to verbalize the possibility....  yes: Kane/Taker vs. Snitsky/Heidenreich at WM21!  Who could give two shits about the resumption of Benoit vs. Angle when you can have Kane/Taker vs. Snitsky/Heidenreich?!?
  • Last thing: there's a story going around about Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and Dave Batista being investigated about an incident at a Hooters in Alabama following last Monday's RAW... and although if you tell me "pro wrestler," "Hooters," and "harassment investigation" are all gonna be in the same sentence, I'd come up with a very specific vision of the wrong-doing, I'd be wrong in this case.
    Apparently it's some DUDE who claims he was harassed by the wrestlers. Something about his cowboy hat and being mocked by the wrestlers. Police are looking into it, all I got are a few people who mailed in about what they saw on the TV (and the only reliable print media report I can find says that Jericho was the only wrestler actually present, or at least the only one that this fan actually talked to; which wouldn't surprise me, as let's just say it's not like I'd expect Jericho and Evolution to be super-best-friends outside the ring; and while tales of Flair's antics may be legendary, Jericho's not regarded as a Problem Child when it comes to run-ins with fans)... I am suspicious of this tale, to say the least.
    While it *is* under investigation, if the e-mails about the TV reports are to be believed, clearly no charges have been filed, and nor would I expect them to be at any time soon.
  • Stick a fork in me, I'm done. In lieu of RAW recapping and satirizing, I'm sure we'll dig up something cool for you tomorrow here at OO. Could it be the first of a dozen or more Year End Awards Columns?  Maybe it could be...
    You'll have to come on back to find out... 

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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