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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, The Full Austin Update, ECW and
PPV: The Truth Unfolds, and MORE!
January 19, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Upfront: I'm probably only gonna be half-assing it here today. 
 
Because I can't possibly trump the start of Matt Hocking's "Lord of the Ring" Epic Satire. And if I can't beat 'em, I join 'em. Which basically means that when I get done throwing together some quick news and views for you, I'll probably spend twice as long photoshopping the main page graphic for Matt as I did writing this column. Pardon my French, 

but: c'est la vie. Or however you say that (I'm sure I'll be corrected, but I think that's still pretty close, and not bad for a dude who took the much manlier German in high school!). Cuz me using only one quarter of my rump is still better than most of anything you'll read elsewhere. 

And again, OO might be 80% about me and my ego being fed. But it's also just about bringing the all-around gOOdness. Which is why I'm more than happy to tell you that if I don't scratch you where you itch today, all you need to do is check out Matt's column (the next four parts will be published over the next 2 weeks or so).

A word of encouragement: you don't have to be intimately familiar with the "Lord of the Rings" books to dig Matt's parody. I mean, I *have* read the books, because I'm a guy who went through a decided Dork Phase and still battles some Dork Tendencies to this day... but I didn't exactly love or cherish them (on the contrary, I found them rather dense, pretentious, and boring for vast stretches). All you need to appreciate Matt's satire is to have seen the much-more-snappily-paced films, really, so don't be intimidated, people. From the looks of those box office and DVD receipts, y'all should be plenty qualified to enjoy "The Lord of the Ring."

Then again, I also know people who'd scoff at my "much more snappily paced films" line, thinking that even the LotR movies are bloated and over-long, so I dunno. Personally, I think anybody who can't appreciate the films is a product of America's idiotic no-attention-span-having, instant-gratification-wanting, not-liking-anything-unique-or-clever-or-challenging society. And at the same time, I think anyone who really cherishes those books needs to realize that although the society we're having out here has its flaws, it's still healthier to live in it than to insulate oneself from it by ensconcing oneself in all the utterly pointless minutiae of Middle Earth.

And how in the blue hell did I turn "Read Matt's Column" into a rant against both society and against Lord of the Rings nerds? Because, folks, I'm a singular asshole who knows he's right about everything and doesn't mind pissing people off! And I'm also a singular asshole who already decided he wasn't gonna bring his A-game today!  A deadly combination!

But here, have at it: 

  • Starting with Monday's RAW... obviously, I can't find a lot of fault with the show. They basically did a bunch of things I spent a week begging for. And unlike others, my gimmick is not to snarkily find fault: it's to maintain a sense of continuity and consistent internal logic the likes of which does not exist elsewhere on the internet.
     
    So kudos to you, RAW, for getting it right this week. If I didn't like you, I couldn't like myself. And I like myself plenty. And I like you fine readers enough to not turn this paragraph into a masturbation joke.
     
    I look at it like this: even the parts of RAW I didn't personally give a shit about, they were excellently executed (what the hell? If you canucks can still have Bret On The Brain...). I'm talking mostly about the Orton/HHH promo, here. A strong effort by Randall, a stronger one from HHH, good basic source material for them to work from, and I think a fan more malleable than I probably cares significantly more about the Rumble title match than he did 2 days ago.  Orton made you think he was driven enough to win it back, HHH made you want him to lose it so you don't have to listen to his "same old song and dance" again the night after the PPV...  good stuff, and then they tagged it with HHH's little trap, some brawling, and Orton getting the last laugh. Simple and effective.
     
    To a lesser extent, I'm also talking about Muhammad Hassan, who has yet to wrestle a non-crappy match, and has only 2 really superb promos on his record. But one of those was on Monday, and I think it inches him towards being a more interesting and well-developed character who DOESN'T always need a Foley or a Jericho there to polish the turd. The more he can get away from hot button, current-event-y stuff, and the more he can just be a self-centered dick who can twist any happenstance into his own personal cross to bear, the better. Bitching about Jericho's hosting etiquette, and then riffing on Canada's spinelessness and superior attitude: these things are not the earmarks of a one-dimensional Ay-rab, they are the earmarks of a bona fide Ay-H....
     
    But well, you get the idea. That joke will now die a quiet death, as it has been exhausted (in slightly modified form) by one Trish Stratus, who just loves all us "U-S-Ay-Holes." It was a part of a definite highlight of RAW: her promo was probably her best yet (not her funniest stuff, nor her most intense, but almost certainly the single 3-minute stretch where she best bounced back and forth between tones, and very effectively conveyed the notion that she is the Total Package), and the interaction with Kane was spot-on. In the absence of Lita, this is one way to further the story of her relationship with Kane (if he's coming out to shut Trish up, you KNOW that the adversarial relationship is in the past), which is important. And although it fucking sucks that it's come to this, you realize that Trish being on the receiving end of the Best Chokeslam Ever basically means she can take a month-long vacation from wrestling, if she likes, to sell the injury. IT'S NOT BECAUSE WE'VE FOOLISHLY FIRED ALL THE WOMEN WRESTLERS, IT'S TO SELL THE INJURY!  Yes, tell myself that enough, I might start to believe it...
     
    If I had to kvetch, obviously, I'd have loved more time for both Michaels/Christian and Jericho/Benoit. Both matches combined got less than 20 minutes, and those four guys are good enough that either match on its own could have carried that time. But where would you steal the time from? See, that's the problem: other than a few over-long "moments ago" things, I can't really think of any truly expendable segment on RAW. I can't find the minutes to give back to HBK/Xtian and Benoit/Jericho, so therefore, I shan't complain too hard. Especially cuz I hope that Jericho/Benoit *does* end up being the start of something, instead of just a one-week throw-away; if need be, those two can get their 25 minutes at WM21.
     
    Oh, wait, I just remembered where we could have gotten about 30 seconds: that Orton/Stacy bit. I mean, I can only assume it's not going anywhere (since lord knows Orton's been the object of flirtation for every OTHER member of the Useless Diva Brigade, so I'm assuming Stacy's number just came up, and it's a one-week thing), so why bother? Because it makes Orton seem like a super-stud to have girls desperately throwing themselves at him? Maybe, I dunno...  if that's the case, I'm not sure who's supposed to find Randall more appealing after these bits. Is it girls (so that they can pretend it's THEM getting a few sweet moment of Randy's attention)? If so, then somebody should alert Orton that he should probably figure out how to act "charming" instead of "like an assmunch" (in the past, his responses have been Leon-Phelps-esque, and with Stacy, he pretty much just walked away without saying anything).  Is it guys (so we can all look up to and be wish we could be such a perfect paragon of masculinity)? If so, then they should probably have the girls coming on to Randy in a way that wouldn't make any intelligent guy think either (a) "There is something desperately wrong with this girl; at the very least, if she's just throwing herself at total strangers instead of trying to engage me in a conversation to figure out if I'm worth the trouble, there's probably self-esteem issues," or (b) "This is a completely ridiculous scenario, I'm clearly being Punk'd." Then again, Randall and the Useless Diva Brigade aren't exactly "total strangers," anymore, so my philosophy probably falls apart. But they WERE total strangers the night Orton pretty much told them to take off their clothes in the middle of the ring, so...  I don't even know where I'm going with this, other than to say whatever WWE wanted to accomplish in that bit, they didn't, so: 30 seconds wasted.
     
    I actually have reminded myself of another thought I had about 2 weeks ago, as it regards Randall's likeability... if I'm hurting for material later this column, maybe I'll bust it out. But for now, I think I've said enough about RAW. You are, of course, heartily encouraged to get ALL the details about the show in the OO RAW Recap.
     
  • The rating for Monday's show has, as of this writing, been delayed, almost surely due to the holiday on Monday.
     
  • While I'm at it, I guess I should also say that as of this writing, the "noon" press conference by Steve Austin has been delayed... by the fact that it's not till "noon" Pacific Time, and I'm in the Eastern Time Zone.
     
    But that's OK, we've got the general idea of what Austin will be discussing, thanks to a WWE press release...
     
    Austin will announce a 3-movie deal with WWE Films, the first of which will go into production this spring (sounds a LOT like "Running Man" to me: Austin's a death-row inmate, falsely accused, who gets a second chance at life if he'll compete on some deadly reality TV show).  There's a lot of names and crap in the press release, none of which really mean jackshit.
     
    Oh, there is one name-issue that's semi-interesting. Somebody at WWE Films finally realized what we've all been saying for months: that "Eye Scream Man" is an embarrassingly, pitiably dumb movie title. So Kane's motion picture debut will now be called "Goodnight." Whee! At least ONE thing about the movie won't suck, now!
     
    OK, so everybody knows that I don't consider this wrestling news. I consider it movie news. And because of the company involved, I'm even pretty confident that it's bad-movie news. I think WWE needs to stop wasting resources on being a shitty football company, a shitty bodybuilding company, a shitty reality TV company, etc., etc., etc., and put its energies into being the best WRESTLING company it can be. These other things they want to do? I'm not saying don't do them... but I'm saying that they need to realize that other people DO THEM BETTER AND ALWAYS WILL. So swallow your pride, SAVE YOUR MONEY, and go partners if you want to mess around with TV and movies...  farm out your wrestlers to actual production companies with actual experience and actual scripts that actually don't suck. Don't try to bring it in house and staff it with rejects from the real movie companies. Doesn't that just make sense?
     
    Anybody who thinks that Steve Austin is gonna become a movie star because of this deal, or that WWE Films is gonna take off because of Steve Austin is missing the point entirely: WWE Films is not built to succeed, no matter which wrestlers are in the movies. The Rock is a movie star, a real one, and he'll probably never appear in a WWE Films Production for the very simple reason that he'll always have a million better offers on the table. And The Rock would never have become a movie star if his motion picture debut was "The Marine." He became a star because he had worthwhile major movie vehicles. Not direct-to-video caliber projects that limp through a theatrical release.
     
    So why do I mention it at all? Because of one simple reason: this agreement puts Austin back under the WWE banner. If WWE has *any* hope of making money off of Austin's movies, the way to do it is to have Austin regain as much of his star status as possible. And that's gonna HAVE to mean Austin appearing on TV. WRESTLING TV.  Like RAW and SD! and PPVs.
     
    As an active wrestler? No. But Austin's also never written off having another couple matches in him, if the right situation presented itself, and Mick Foley's shown us how you can turn  a 2-match contract into a 5-month stay. People are still buzzing that Austin's gonna be involved in WrestleMania in some capacity, which even if it's not in a match will still open the doors for Austin to bring the Stone Cold Sizzle back to TV for a month or two leading up to a guest spot or a referee gig or whatever it is they ask of him.
     
    And that, my friends, ain't a bad thing. I know it's counter-intuitive that WWE would lean on a non-active wrestler at a time when they should be "making new stars," but I've never understood how carting out Simon Dean on a show that is down in the ratings is supposed to "make a new star." You have a few old stars around, you maybe get the ratings stabilized, and then the potential new stars get the benefit of associating with the old stars, and THAT might launch a career or two. Kind of like what Foley wanted to do with Orton last year, and which almost certainly would have worked out a million times better if WWE hadn't idiotically decided to turn Orton face WAY too soon.
     
    So I say "bring on some Stone Cold on the Road to WM, and give him 5 or 10 minutes every week. There's enough time for everybody."  We'll see how it goes: regular guest spots for Austin, or just maybe a Hall of Fame induction at Mania with now build-up, and then he's off to make his movie....
     
  • Oh, and I guess I was wrong to guess Thursday: Austin and McMahon are now being hyped as guest TONIGHT on the Best Damned Sports Show Period. In lieu of waiting till SD! to see footage of the upcoming press conference, you can probably tune in to that and find out exactly what Austin announced, and whether there was any interesting dynamic with Vince, and all that...
     
    Actually, you might want to go ahead and catch that and not bother with SD! this week. I had the misfortune of getting some spoiler e-mails, and I broke my own New Cardinal Rule, and scanned them to see if it was gonna get any better this week... doesn't look like it. There will be a Rey/Chavo match (with it's tie in to the Rey/Eddie feud), but it'll be surrounded by crap (more Gay Spooky from Taker, and more just misguided silliness with the WWE Title feud).  From the sounds of things, anyway.  Those Montreal fans can be difficult, maybe they're just impossible to please?
     
  • Speaking of spoiler-y type stuff, I obliquely half-mentioned this in the RAW Recap, but to get it out there to the masses: Chris Masters worked a dark match at RAW Tapings. And as I've been saying the past two weeks, he may look like a pro wrestler, but the fans who wrote in said he didn't really wrestle like one.  Viva la somebody's fetish for gay-porno-looking guys! 
     
    Also from the RAW tapings: Kane was said to have a massive and nasty gash on his head when he was extracted from the table shrapnel. He left under his own power and stuff, though, and everybody figured he'd be just fine... but apparently, it was a pretty gruesome sight.
     
  • A few folks have been asking if there's any more info on the supposed ECW PPV that WWE is going to run later this year... and all I can tell you is that it's still not on any advance PPV schedule WWE has released to cable distributors.
     
    At present, WWE has announced a 15-PPV slate for 2005 (and increase of 1 event over last year, I think; that's New Year's Revolution). The only major revelation with the newly released schedule is that Taboo Tuesday is DEFINITELY coming back, on November 1, 2005.
     
    Here's an odd thing, though: at present, the PPV calendar breaks down with SD! getting six solo PPVs, and RAW only getting 5 (plus the four joint shows). Given the relative strength of the brands and the rosters, that seems a little odd. Or at least the PERCEIVED relative strength of the brands; in reality, SD!'s been the more-watched brand the past couple weeks, so what do we critics know?
     
    The current schedule has: Rumble (Joint, 1/30), No Way Out (SD!, 2/20), WM21 (Joint, 4/2), Backlash (RAW, 5/1), Judgment Day (SD!, 5/22), Bad Blood (RAW, 6/12), Vengeance (SD!, 6/26), Great American Bash (SD!, 7/24), SummerSlam (Joint, 8/21), Unforgiven (RAW, 9/18), No Mercy (SD!, 10/9), Taboo Tuesday (RAW, 11/1), Survivor Series (Joint, 11/27), and Armageddon (SD!, 12/18).
     
    As has been widely discussed by others, the RUMOR has been that WWE wanted a June 5 date for the ECW PPV. With Bad Blood currently scheduled for June 12, that just never made sense to me.  And plus, that May/June logjam is gonna be just as bad as last year, with 3 PPV weekends out of 6 starting with Judgment Day.  Adding in an ECW PPV on June 5 would only complicate matters and further piss off the fans.
     
    An additional curiosity: at present, RAW would have no solo PPV for 3 months, between June 12 and September 18. In that same time frame, there would be 2 SD!-only PPVs and a joint effort.
     
    I could fix this pretty easily, if I wanted to engage in idle speculation...  how about we eliminate Vengeance, move Bad Blood to 6/26, and turn that 6/12 PPV date into the ECW PPV? That'd reduce the load on SD!, make the PPV logjam seem like less of a logjam since one of the shows actually WOULD be special, if the ECW event is a hit then there's even room on 11/13 (2 week buffer on either side) if you wanted to add in November To Remember, and in general this all makes perfect sense.
     
    Of course, this is why it shall never happen.  But I figure I'd throw it out there for you kids to chew on.
     
  • Speaking of ECW, former Gangsta New Jack is telling people he got a WWE job, afterall, even without working a dark match (as had been expected) last week. As I said last week, a Dark Match Try-out for New Jack would be the most pointless of exercises, since unless WWE have been hiding under a rock, they know New Jack can't wrestle, but he will fight.
     
    And talk. In fact, it's said to be the test promos he did that turned the tide in his favor. 
     
    Then again: might New Jack be talking out his ass? There's too much disinformation flying around here... first he was keen on being a part of the Carlito/Cena feud, now people are saying he might be involved with Hassan and Daivari, so who knows? New Jack has said he's got a contract, though, so just keep an eye out, and you'll be able to see for yourself how it turns out....
     
  • I've actually padded this out pretty well.  I'd say this was at LEAST a three-fifths of my ass job!  So I'll save my Orton/Maturity/Likeability theory for another time.
     
    For now, I'll remind you that Matt's Five Part Feature is underway, and tell you that I'll more than likely be back at you on Friday, plugging away like the trooper that I am.
     
    See you then.


  
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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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