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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, TNA PPV, New Tag Champs and Tons
of House Show News, plus MORE~!
January 17, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

It'd be easy as pie to muster up some small talk here.... 
 
Maybe start with some NFL Playoff banter, and move on to some spirited discussion of the Golden Globe Awards. You know: matters of national importance that everybody wants to talk about. Except that then I remember that the only semi-excuse I had to care about the playoffs was vaguely hoping for Indianapolis to make it to the Super Bowl,  

and they lost yesterday. And then I remember I'm not a vapid, blithering moron who would ever, in one million years, actually sit through a bloated, pretentious awards show so that I could be told what I should like.

So that pretty much leaves me with nothing. Why not just get straight to the point:

  • Tonight's RAW, if nothing else, oughta feature about 20 minutes of heaven.  The other hour-forty?  Well, I'm not so enthusiastic...  but there's really almost no way to frick up Benoit vs. Jericho in your main event.
     
    Although there's also no real guarantee that WWE will do the wise thing and make that the main event... because tonight also features the epic third battle between Kane and Snitsky. Thrilling... I think I speak for just about everyone when I say that Snitsky really should have been a Dead Man by this point, and it's about time to move on. The only thing I can think of is that Lita's injury has scrambled the creative plans for Kane, and so they decided to "re-do" the PPV match here a week later to move the story forward in a brand new direction. Lita or no, I'm thinking whatever's next for Kane probably needs to involve Matt Hardy. So let's cross our fingers that we accomplish something positive in the Snitsky/Kane match, and that I can FINALLY put to rest these nightmares I have of a WM21 CrossPromotional Suck-a-Thon pitting Kane/Taker against Snitsky/Heidenreich. Kane and Taker both deserve better.
     
    I guess you really would have to bust out the "free-per-view" label for tonight's RAW.  I mean, Kane and Snitsky just semi-main evented a PPV 8 days ago, so the label applies to them in the literal sense...  and then there's this Jericho vs. Benoit match, which is a "free-per-view" in the more conventional connotation of the phrase: I'd actually be willing to pay to see them wrestle.  The announced matches are a nice little one-two punch.
     
    I'm curious to see what happens in the Chris vs. Chris match, actually. Because there's even LESS storyline reason for them to face each other than there was for them to team up last week. As the cynical ass I am, I'd probably bet on this being nothing more than a Battle of Mutual Respect, and by putting their partnership through the Ultimate Test of One-on-One Fisticuffsmanship, they will come out at the end of the night closer than ever. And then they will resume tag teaming and getting to wrestle nobody more exciting than La Resistance. Because WWE doesn't like me, and they don't like talented Canucks named "Chris."
     
    But another, more optimistic part of me would love if this was the start of something a bit more involved... because if WWE really is *that* short on ideas for what to do with the Chrisses, just coming up with some way to justify them feuding with each other in a half-assed storyline is WAY more appealing to me than having them team up to feud with the half-assed RAW tag roster. The only problem is that the best way to do it, you'd basically have to rip off the only current SD! storyline that I'm loving: the Eddie vs. Rey mini-feud. You'd basically cast Jericho as Rey, and he'd "have Benoit's number"... and Benoit being Benoit, his natural intensity would mean he'd want a rematch to prove himself, and Jericho could beat him again, and so on and so forth. I think the personalities involved would really make that click, too: Jericho would be over huge, and I think Benoit would almost become a de facto heel, even without doing anything out of character.  I'd have it all build up to a final one-on-one match at WM21, maybe make it a Submissions-Only Match, or something, and Benoit finally wins, the two do the Handshake of Mutual Respect after the Match of the Night, we're right back to where we started, except that hopefully by then, WWE would have come up with something better for them. But again, as much as I'd prefer this to Jericho and Benoit teaming up, it's still basically a jacked-up version of an existing SD! story, so it's probably impractical to get your hopes up...
     
    Beyond the two announced matches on RAW, there's gonna be no shortage of Randy Orton, Triple H, and Batista. And one can only hope that they get the dynamic right this week. Because last week was awful: again, I'm not trying to be a smartass, but I really do think it's funny that the first week you could sense that the writers really gave Batista their full attention is the first week in a long time that Batista was not very interesting.
     
    Bottom line: yes, Orton's the #1 Contender to Trips' title, and yes, that means plenty of TV time for the kid. But this is no time for the unclever folks on the creative team to try to get clever by doing some fancy, writer-y deal where Orton is intricately woven into the parallel storyline of HHH and Batista's rift. Orton vs. HHH should exist over here (and should end simply enough with HHH beating Orton, thus beginning the process of phasing Orton out of RAW storylines so he can shift over to SD! after WM, and begin anew), and HHH/Batista should exist over there, separate but equal. And never the twain shall meet, because NOTHING GOOD can come out of Orton "manipulating" Batista.  It robs Batista of everything appealing if he's getting talked down to by a moron like Orton.
     
    I'm telling you, the BEST thing for Batista to do tonight would be to have Orton try to come to him, wielding his mighty seventh-grade intellect, and Batista just tells him, "Shut up, I'm not gonna take any advice from you, Junior." And then Orton doesn't shut up, so Batista beats the shit out of him, likely being cheered for doing so. And then the only thing you need to do with Batista and HHH is a moment where HHH tries to kiss up to Batista and thanks him for softening up Orton. And instead of some over-wrought stilted coffee commercial dialogue, Batista can just say, "I did that for me, not for you" and then pick up his bag and leave.  See, WWE, that's the trick: NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS between HHH and Batista this way, but it FEELS like it did, and somehow Batista comes out at the end of the night even more likeable than before. It's the difference between understanding the psychology of wrestling and its audience and understanding the nuances of writing for "Days of Our Lives."
     
    But we probably won't be so lucky. Orton probably sticks his nose into HHH/Batista's business, and like the anti-King-Midas that he is (King Dumbass?), Orton will turn everything he touches into crap.
     
    The other big story tonight will be Edge and Shawn Michaels... it's gonna be a slow burn for those two (since Edge is qualified for the Rumble, that pretty much means no one-on-one match for these two till WM21), but both of 'em were awesome in their promo/confrontation last week, so it's not like I don't trust them to stretch things out. It could be as simple as Michaels DEMANDING a Rumble qualifier match of his own tonight so that he can get his hands on Edge at the PPV. Or maybe Michaels makes the demand this week, and Bischoff comes up with a really cool opponent for him NEXT week (for so many reasons, Christian would be PERFECT: the match would rule, Christian's renewed ties with Edge would make things interesting, and hell, you could even have Edge cost Michaels the match to keep him OUT of the Rumble; of course, then Michaels would get another qualifying match and win, but for one week, having Christian over Michaels would be a nice swervey surprise).  I mention the "next week" aspect only because tonight's RAW is in Toronto, and I'm not entirely sure that putting Michaels in the ring against Christian would yield the desired fan response; then again Toronto booed the shit out of Edge last summer, so who knows?  
     
    Other stuff on RAW: I'd expect the annoying Useless Diva Brigade to be in full effect, wasting my time in the name of appealing to 13-year-old boys who don't know any better...  I'd also expect that Trish Stratus will probably not be seen nor heard from, on the grounds that WWE's idiotic personnel decisions of the last four months have left her with nothing to do; they actually had to resort to Trish facing Molly on Heat last night... there are new tag team champions, and they are La Resistance; more on the title change later, but for the time being, the RAW tag division is only slightly less emaciated than the women's division, and we need SOMEthing to spice it up... perhaps we can marry a couple of underwhelming concepts together: this thing where they put a "Royal Rumble Qualifier" label in front of a Heat-caliber match, and Muhammad Hassan's need to win quick squashes for the time being... and at some point, Shelton Benjamin's gonna need another challenger for the IC Title. One who he can't beat in under 90 seconds.
     
    So check out RAW tonight, and I think I can promise that you won't be disappointed in at least ONE of the matches... and then you can come on back to OO tomorrow, when we'll have the Finest RAW Recap In All The Land for you, and I'll be doing my best to make the REST of the show as entertaining to read about as the Jericho/Benoit match was to watch.
     
  • A little bit of ratings catch-up....
     
    Last Monday's RAW did a 3.8 cable rating, so basically, that's getting RAW back up to where they were before the holidays, which is good news for them. Of course, with the end of Monday Night Football and with us entering the Rumble-to-Mania Corridor, I'm thinking that WWE would prefer if they got RAW's ratings up above where they were before the holidays.
     
    And last week's SmackDown! pulled a very strong 3.7 broadcast rating. That's a gain of about a third-of-a-point from the week before and is just about the highest SD! rating I can remember since the glory days of the "SD! Six" carrying the show every week. And it's also horrible news in a way: because WWE should *not* receive any kind of positive reinforcement for the show they delivered last Thursday night.
     
    After an excellent opening tag match, the show was a confounding display of the purest missingthepointery. At least, it was to me. I'm already confused as hell as to why the Diva Losers have jobs... and the last few weeks, they've actually become integral to SD! main event storyline, a storyline that has COMPLETELY deviated from anything remotely compelling and entered the realm of eyeball-rollingly-bad. That's because it bears no resemblance to a wrestling storyline, and (note the trend) instead feels like something that has been WRITTEN, and in a very ham-handed sort of way. Why I'm supposed to give a shit about Diva Loser Joy is a mystery; the writers apparently believe "because she's Big Show's girlfriend" is the answer, although they are wrong. It doesn't help that any time Diva Loser Joy and Diva Loser Amy get to trade sizzling dialogue, they couldn't possibly be any less convincing as actresses.  Both might as well wear signs around their necks saying "Look at me, I'm ACTING~!"...
     
    Trust me, it takes a lot for me to be unexcited for Kurt Angle showing up on my TV screen, but WWE has effectively done it the past two weeks. The ostensible main event title feud isn't even about the title at this point: it's about walking in on Useless Diva Losers when they're in the shower.  It's almost pitiable.
     
    And yet, it scores SD!'s highest ratings in years. I always thought my strength as an online wrestling guy was that I combined the Actual Good Taste of the Internet Jack-off with a populist, everyman sort of grasp on what the common fan likes. You know: like how I believe Stevie Richards is grossly misused and deserves better than to be on Heat like a Good Jack-off, but how I also don't really have the time or energy to concern myself with any wrestling besides RAW and SD! in a given week like the everyman.  But I've apparently lost my touch if the "everyman" can find anything even remotely compelling about SD!'s main event picture.
     
  • Last night was TNA's Final Resolution PPV... the general consensus from readers who saw it seems to be "positive, but underwhelmed," if that combination makes sense to you. People seemed to like the wrestling, but didn't necessarily feel like there was anything really special or surprising about the show...
     
    Looking at the results, I think the explanation is simple: I, with my mighty 20-minute version of Impact every week and absolutely no other exposure to TNA, would probably have guessed absolutely every outcome on the show. Well, except for the part where Raven actually got beat by Erik Watts. And if somebody like me could have a show figured out, I can only assume that fans more familiar with the product experience a sense of dread a thousand times greater every time Jeff Jarrett fails to lose the TNA Title.
     
    I guess there was one other surprise on the show, as Abyss made a "shocking" "return" to TNA, even though he didn't technically go anywhere. Whatever contract situation may have erupted was obviously exaggerated by the "wrestling press," and TNA made the decision to play into that so that they could bring Abyss back and claim "Oh my god, I thought Abyss had jumped to WWE."  I mean, it's an asinine claim, since any halfway-smart observer would have had a real hard time believing that WWE would really care that much about signing Abyss (*ahem* my exact quote a week or so ago was "Although many are speculating that WWE would make an offer to Abyss, I'm not sure why they'd bother" and then later predicted that Abyss would just end up staying in TNA), but if there's a few fans out there who hear Tenay blathering about how Abyss drew the interest of WWE, and it makes Abyss that much more marketable for TNA, so be it.
     
    But it sounded like pretty much business as usual for Final Resolution: Jarrett retained his title, and both AJ Styles and America's Most Wanted won gold in respective divisions both have pretty well dominated over the course of TNA's history.  You can get the full results in Jason Longshore's TNA PPV Recap.
     
  • The tests have been made, and you probably SHOULD put Rob Van Dam on the sidelines for a few months.  He has a torn medial collateral ligament, with a slight tear of his anterior cruciate ligament.  
     
    Some are saying about 4 months is what RVD's looking at, vacation-wise, after surgery.  But others are saying that this is a deal where until the surgery is done and the amount of damage to the ACL is assessed, you can't really know for sure how long RVD's recovery will take.  Although the MCL damage is more severe, it's actually the less critical of the two injuries.
     
    But see, here's the thing: Van Dam is NOT scheduling the surgery yet. And in fact, after hearing the diagnosis, he's gonna do some more tests and get a second opinion, because he's basically been working in pain related to the ACL injury for the past several months, and the MCL injury is something that wouldn't stop him from working.  Crazy.  
     
    I'd say just get the damned surgery and come back better than ever, and that's probably what'll end up happening... cooler heads tend to prevail in these situations (i.e. Jesus H. Kidneypuncher's attempt to avoid neck surgery being vetoed by doctors and WWE).  
     
  • Many wrote in asking what was on John Cena's hat that got blurred out on SD! last week... the back clearly had a WWE logo, so I'm assuming it was just the "Ruck Fules" hat that Cena's recently introduced.
     
    I cannot fathom why anybody would feel the need to censor "Ruck Fules," because unless UPN has decided to start censoring stupidity, there's nothing objectionable about "Ruck Fules."  And clearly, UPN let the rest of SD! air, complete with the locking some girl nobody cares about in a trunk as your main event, so they ain't censoring stupidity.
     
    Best I can figure is maybe WWE blurred it themselves, to try to make it SEEM like Cena was wearing something cool and edgy, when in fact, he was wearing a hat that no self-respecting third-grader would find cool.  You know, kind of like a double reverse psychology thing.
     
    Oh, and for whatever it's worth, Cena's promos are on the verge of becoming every bit as difficult to sit through as Randy Orton's. Not because he bungles lines and has no personality, but because it's impossible to watch a grown man BEGGING for cheers like that. I've gone way past feeling like Cena's patronizing me to just being sad any time he starts talking about his "Chain Gang." The guy has had one funny line in the last 10 months, at poor Hiroko's expense, and he's so hurting for material, he's had to recycle it about 2 or 3 times. But Cena needs to watch it with the blowjob humor: cuz at this point, any time he opens his mouth, it sure seems like he's doing it while on his knees while attempting to service 8000 slack-jawed morons at a time.
     
  • WWE will be starting a national bus tour thingie this Friday to promote WrestleMania 21... it's sort of a traveling exhibit that they'll set up in different malls for a few days, before moving on to the next city. Not geared towards fans like us, but more just to remind the mainstream that WM is coming up, since that's the one show every year that pretty much triples WWE's usual buyrates, and it's because casual fans crawl out of the woodwork.
     
    In fact, I couldn't possibly imagine being any less enthralled with WWE's little bus tour, but I mention it because the LAUNCH of said publicity tour is kind of notable: on some day later this week (before the Friday launch of the tour), Vince McMahon will be appearing on "The Best Damned Sports Show Period," and at present, Stone Cold Steve Austin is scheduled to be a guest along with Vince.
     
    Austin's long been expected to appear at WM in some capacity, but this might be an indication that he'll actually be showing up on TV a bit sooner than expected to establish that capacity.
     
    Smart money would be on Thursday night, and I'll have an update for you on Wednesday if it'll be something different. The only other option would be Wednesday night's show, actually... I'm not a particularly big fan of Tom Arnold and his crew of jabbering goons (everything that sucks about sports-talk radio with the added bonus of Arnold's Orton-like grasp on the English language!), but I don't think they do new shows on Fridays, do they?
     
  • Matt Hocking enjoyed the RAW brand house show in Minneapolis over the weekend, and had nothing but raves for the Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair main event... but on the downside, Chris Jericho jobbed to Muhammad Hassan. Baffling.
     
    Check out Matt's on-site report for his impressions of the Live House Show Experience.
     
  • As referenced above there are new tag champs on RAW, and Matt missed seeing that by two days.  Last night, La Resistance beat William Regal and his substitute partner, Jonathan Coachman. Coach made the match himself, and Regal was suspicious of Coach's intentions, so he just wrestled the entire match, without tagging in Coach. And Regal got beat in the end.
     
    So pretty much by default, La Resistance are once again your World Tag Team Champions.  Kind of curious that they'd run this on a house show, instead of saving it back for RAW, but then again, anything to give fans the impression that important things DO happen at house shows is probably a good idea for business....
     
  • In related news, WWE has actually been running Rumble Qualifying Matches at house shows, and dammit, leafing through Matt's report from Minneapolis, I notice that Christian qualified by beating William Regal....  so there goes my little plot to build to a Michaels/Christian qualifying match on RAW.
     
    Well, I'll take solace in knowing that it was a damned good idea, and like all my damned good ideas, it shall never see the light of day.
     
    I'm sure we'll get the full update on who's qualified and who isn't tonight on RAW. Although I like the idea of "qualifying matches," it sure seems kinda convoluted simply because the roster isn't robust enough to support 15 winners and 15 losers on each brand...  guys, by necessity, end up getting multiple "qualifying" chances, leading to some pretty messy scenarios (for instance, Charlie Haas was already qualified, but then he lost a qualifying match to Orlando Jordan at a house show this weekend; but Haas isn't disqualified, only Jordan is qualified).
     
    So maybe with that massive logic hole, my Christian/Michaels idea can still be a go?
     
  • When WWE goes to Japan for RAW and SD! tapings in early February, the company is also running a pair of "Super Shows" on the trip.  Since the entire company is traveling, RAW and SD! will combine for joint efforts in Alaska and in Hawaii.
     
    Each brand is basically running its three or four top house show programs, and then everybody on the bottom part of the card goes into a "RAW vs. SD! Battle Royal."  The only exception is one crosspromotional match in which.... wait for it...  wait....
     
    Undertaker and Kane team up to face Snitsky and Heidenreich.
     
    Believe me kids, I'm shedding a tear just typing that.  It means, if nothing else, that WWE won't use the Rumble casket match to just kill off Heidenreich's character, which was pretty much the only positive thought I'd had about the use of said gimmick match. And if it is a test run for WrestleMania? Well, I think that'd be stupid, but if WWE thinks its wise to stretch out two feuds that fans stopped caring about months ago and showcase them together in one Cavalcade of Suck at the biggest show of the year, it's their company. If nothing else, it should be short and should extend Taker's undefeated streak at WM, right?
     
  • Well, I think that's all I got today. I'm back at you with the RAW Recap, and then again with mid-week Wednesday news... but something else you'll want to be keeping an eye out for: the aforementioned Matt Hocking's cooked up something special for you fine folks.  I'm thinking I'll roll it out on Wednesday, and I'm thinking you'll really dig it.
     
    Later on, y'all....


  
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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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