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RAW's Road to the Rumble, A Bunch of 
TNA Talk, plus SD!'s Next PPV and MORE!
January 24, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


What an unfulfilling day of football.
For one, it's not like I had a huge vested interest in either game, but in so far as I care, the wrong teams won. Pencil it in: another Super Bowl that, since I'm a heterosexual male, I will have to pretend to care about (and this year, without even a CHANCE of a boobie during halftime to break up the monotony; thank you very little, assclowns at the FCC). And it wasn't just that the 

wrong teams won the games, they won them in the wrong fashion: pure blowouts. Imagine the pain of having to watch Hated NFC East Rivals (of my NY Giants) throttle the warm-weather Falcons in frigid conditions in Philadelphia, and then endure a boring Foregone Conclusion of a rout as the stupid Patriots advanced over the only-slightly-less stupid Steelers.

Oh, and I guess the real reason for my saltiness is this: Pittsburgh, you get a mighty "Fuck You" from The Rick. Every year, I make a single New Year's Resolution: to NOT hear any Jimmy Buffett for the next 12 months. You'd be surprised how helpful a rule this is: if you live your life ever-vigilant of Potential Buffett, you won't hang out with toolboxes and tossers, you won't frequent shitty bars, you won't attend lame parties, and best of all, you have a 90% decrease in the likelihood of being served a drink with fruit and/or an umbrella in it.  Jimmy Buffett, simply put, sucks ass, and the environments in which you're likely to hear his suck-ass music usually suck even more ass.  

Thus, my annual quest.  My personal best: a few times, I've made it into May (which might not sound impressive, but you try to play along with me, and you'll find out how hard it is; this crap is ubiquitous, and if you go out 2 or 3 nights a week, you'll get hammered eventually). But in 2005: I last 23 days.  Twenty-three stinking days, all because some douchebag in Pittsburgh thought it'd be ironic to play fucking Jimmy Buffett in the aftermath of a blizzard. Not funny, jerko. That's what I get for flipping back to the blow-out and watching a few minutes of the fourth quarter without a time-shift to FF the time-outs. My entire reason for living in 2005 has been quashed, and in record time.

But I'll flatter myself into thinking at least SOME of you folks might almost miss me if I crawled under a rock to weep silently for the next 11 months. So I'll soldier on, try to keep my Buffett Quotient as low as possible, act like I care about a Pats/Eagles Super Bowl so that nobody questions my masculinity, and serve up the wrestling talk as best I can: 

  • Tonight on RAW, let the answerationing of questions begin!
    Are Kane and Snitsky dead? 
    Will Batista pursue a spot in the Royal Rumble Match against Triple H's friendly suggestion?
    Who else from RAW will qualify for the Rumble, since they still have over a half-dozen open spots?
    And: will the fans be back to acting normal now that RAW returns to the US of A and the welcoming, hearty, BBQ-fed ManBosoms of Oklahoma City?
    It's the last show before the Royal Rumble PPV, so obviously, you want more of the momentum from last week, and less of the general lameness of the week before last. With the RAW half of the PPV card pretty well set (both HHH/Orton and HBK/Edge should get 20-plus minutes, if another match is to be added, it'd be a brief one; I could think of worse things to do than remind us that not all the divas on the roster are bland, uninteresting, vapid sacks of duh by doing a Molly vs. Victoria #1 Contenders match as a PPV palate cleanser; to make things extra fun, have Trish sit in on commentary to be all funny and charmingly bitchy), tonight becomes more an "icing on the cake" deal.  Basically, it's all about filling up the Rumble match itself...
    And that means not JUST with Batista, although his story and his quest for independence from Evolution should be a big one. That means getting as many plausible superstars into the match as possible, and ALSO giving us reasons for them to not like each other so that they'll have interesting options to explore come Sunday night. I honestly think RAW only has like 6 or 7 officially announced entries to the match, which opens the door for a LOT of either Qualifying Matches *or* Qualifying Angles tonight. Or best of all, maybe a convergence of both....
    Such as: we know Jericho is qualified for the Rumble match, but Benoit is not (unless it was a house show result I missed, which is possible). Just because the alternatives are off-putting (Jericho feuding with Hassan or Jericho/Benoit forming a tag team), I'm a big fan of keeping a little bit of prickly heat between Benoit and Jericho...  the story of Benoit's Qualification tonight should be given some time and forethought: not just because it could set up a cool feud with Jericho, but also just because you can play up the sheer, unmitigated awesomeness of Benoit's feat last year (when he entered #1, lasted 63 minutes, and won the Rumble). And anytime WWE is forced to admit to Benoit's awesomeness is OK by me.
    Of course, now that I said that: tonight, instead of doing anything cool or giving Benoit a 15 minute showcase match that plays to his strengths and let's him show the crowd how intense and pissed off he is about that Jericho thing, maybe even going so far as to cross paths with Jericho for a "Last week was a fluke, watch what I do in the ring here tonight to [Wrestler X; Christian would be a good one, though], and then watch what I do to you and 28 other guys on Sunday, Junior,"... instead of any of that, watch Bischoff come out and announce that since Benoit was the winner last year, he just gets a free pass into the match.  Just so that they don't have to waste valuable TV time on Benoit when there's Orton promos to be done!
    [Total tangent, but this is the only place that this'll fit today: over the weekend, I had a fricking BRILLIANT brainstorm... you know how last week, I said the only impediment to RAW running the Jericho vs. Benoit feud was that it would essentially be a total retelling of the current Rey vs. Eddie story on SD!? Well, I suddenly don't think of that as an impediment; rather, I know think of it as an asset. And here's why: because it could open the door for a Very Special Interpromotional Tag Match at WrestleMania 21... and unlike the much-feared Taker/Kane vs. Heidenreich/Snitsky match, it would be special and fresh and kick all kinds of ass. Because imagine Benoit and Eddie, through the match of the Rumble, and then perhaps a little light cross-brand-hopping, lamenting that they can't beat Jericho and Rey, respectively; last year at WM, they were on top of the world, and now, they're being played for chumps. They don't turn full heel, but they're the heelish pair of the foursome. Sprinkle in more Benoit/Jericho matches and more Eddie/Rey matches, and Jericho and Rey ALWAYS win.  Though some plot contrivance that would be easy as pie to invent, the match is made for Mania: frustrated tweeners Benoit/Eddie against big time crowd favorites Jericho/Rey. The best part is, you can do a lot of stuff in that match: obviously, that should be the match where Benoit and Eddie finally win, but how? Do you make it a feel good moment of Mutual Respect, in which Eddie and Benoit celebrate together after shaking their opponents hands, recalling the finish to WM20? Or might there even be room for a pair of full-on heel turns? Very interesting... I think the story could be cool, because you can play it VERY subtle, and nobody would know what the finish would be, only that the match immediately preceeding the finish would be 30 minutes of bliss.  But again: I can come up with good ideas at the drop of a hat... doesn't mean we should hold our breaths.  Taker/Kane vs. Snitsky/Heidenreich it is....]
    I think tonight you add Benoit to the Rumble and I guess what I'm saying is that they should make it every bit as big a deal as Batista being added. Maybe you allot the time differently (give Benoit a longer match and only limited talking points, but make Batista's match a convincing squash and give time to the backstage skits with HHH), but RAW can't afford to undermine Batista's appeal by making it TOO obvious that he's the only RAW guy with a chance to win the match. And in Benoit, the have the perfect counterbalance, if only they hype him up right and remind us of last year (while also playing up fresh issues for this year).
    Along with Benoit/Batista, I think most of the legitimately over stars are already qualified. Maybe you need to get Snitsky in there so Kane has somebody to deal with? I'd love to see somebody remember that William Regal exists, but sadly, I think that WWE doesn't give a shit about Regal unless they can play him for laughs, and with Eugene gone, it's not like he'll get a push. Probably you have to resort to throwing La Resistance in there, though... oh, and Muhammad Hassan? Should he be in the Rumble, or is it too early in his mega-push to put him into a match that he won't win? 
    I'm not sure of the answer to that question, but I am pretty sure I've got something else about tonight's RAW figured out: Hassan's focus shouldn't be on wrestling, it should be on making himself into the biggest prick imaginable. And tonight will feature a golden opportunity: because tonight in Oklahoma City, Jim Ross is being honored (it's "Jim Ross Day," whatever that means), and if that doesn't sound like an invitation for Hassan and Daivari to come on out and ruin the celebration for their favorite biased American Media Guy, then I don't know what does. A double whammy: not only can Hassan run his mouth of Jim Ross being honored for his brainwashing of America, but in Oklahoma City, the guy will have ample ammunition for a SuperDick Riff on the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, a horrible act of terrorism committed by regular plain ol' white people. And you didn't see racial profiling of Caucasians in the aftermath of the OKC bombing did you? It'd be a fantastic chance for Hassan to brush up against a hot button issue, without really delving into uncomfortable/inappropriate territory...  I'm getting a handle on this character's value, and what *I* think will be interesting is to keep finding ways for Hassan to say things that are TRUE, but which fans won't like. Some of that early one-note-song didn't play, and any time he crossed over into a talking about our troops and stuff, it's just cheap; but it's much more clever to have Hassan go out and say stuff that has more than just a shred of truth to it, and then twist it all around for his own purposes.  If they play it right with JR and the OKC Bombing references (again: with delicacy, he can talk about the bombing in passing, but his REAL point is that Whitey committed the crime, and thus, there was no witchhunt the likes of with Arab Americans have put up with since 9/11), tonight COULD be Muhammad's greatest night as a total cocksucker yet.
    And then, if you gotta, you can put him in a qualifying match later in the night against... oh, let's just say Jerry Lawler. And this time, unlike that crapfest on the PPV, it's all of 90 seconds long.
    I guess while I'm focusing all my energy on bringing these guys together for the Rumble in an interesting way, I'm kind of ignoring what's SUPPOSED to be the main story on RAW: Randy Orton's World Title shot at Triple H. And that's what WWE gets: they are paying for the mistakes of July and August last year.  They are paying for gross miscalculations and missteps that really SHOULDN'T have caught them by surprise (since there've been plenty of us out here pointing them out every step of the way), but which did. Randy Orton is, in essence, the lamest of ducks: mishandled since his face turn (or more likely, not yet possessing the maturity to really handle the pressure of said face turn), Orton flopped with fans and hears healthy smatterings of boos anywhere he goes. He's not getting this PPV title shot because he's the top babyface on the roster and the guy anybody wants to see unseat HHH (at this point, I'd suggest Orton is soundly out of the Top Three Faces on RAW, and maybe out of the Top 5, depending on how you want to classify Batista right now)...  Orton's getting this title shot because the story was built up to the point where it needs closure, it needs this pay-off.  I'm not saying Orton doesn't have his appeal, but I am saying that after 8 months of this sustained, massive push, it's not the broadbased appeal of a World Champion. I think fans can sense that. Even the ones who don't read OO or other websites. 
    The fear, of course, becomes that WWE still cannot sense this, especially those of them who don't read OO. It is simply too important to RAW's main event picture to have Orton still hanging around, cluttering up what I'd imagine will develop as a gangbusters HHH/Batista story. To the WWE/"writer-y" mindset, it might be an elegant way to draw a parallel between Batista's current issues and Orton's own split from Evolution, but as I quipped last week: they should NOT be in a rush to remind us of parallels to something that sucked. Although you might sit there and envision was in which Orton upsetting HHH for the title, causing both HHH and Batista to chase him, would set up for a slower burn between HHH and Batista... but in this case, I humbly submit that if Orton beats HHH, then it takes away from Batista's conquest of HHH. That match/story has to be done one-on-one, and not three-way-dance style, as is currently feared by many fans. With that in mind, and because I never once have rooted for Orton to fail, just noted that I thought he would, I think you also have to begin crafting the Exit Strategy for Orton... and that could start tonight. 
    To me, that should be as simple as him boasting confidently that he will win at the Rumble; Orton was very good last week in his promo, and more of that intensity and that sense of him having a biological NEED to beat HHH would be a place to start. But then: we have our announced main event for tonight's show, and it's Orton vs. Ric Flair. So Orton then draws a quick parallel to his match tonight, and says that what he does to Flair is just the start of what he'll do to HHH at the PPV. Really SELLS it like there's no other possible outcome... but then, match time hits, and after everything Evolution will have gone through (HHH no doubt upset when Batista opts to qualify for the Rumble), Evolution is still together as a unit, and thanks to a numbers game, Orton loses. We need a look of disbelief from Orton before we close out the show with smug looks of satisfaction on Evolution's faces. And just like that, you can set up The Crashing and Burning of Young Randall Orton: he loses to HHH at the PPV, and all of a sudden, he begins questioning his Destiny (and not a moment too soon). It'll be a twist on the story they SHOULD have done (instead of turning him face) after Orton lost his IC belt last summer. It basically begins a 2 month stretch of Orton becoming a mid card player, where he might even adopt a kind of whiny bitch act, but mostly, it's all just setting him up for a Total Character Reset after WM21 (I still say this involves him being lotteried to SD!, where he'll be a bit fresher and fans won't hold his floptastic run as champ against him).
    But this is entering some pretty serious Fantasy Booking territory here, isn't it?  Didn't really mean for it to go this way, but sometimes, the mind just gets clicking, and mind sorta did over the weekend.... so, OK: on RAW tonight we have the Filling Up of the Rumble Match (including Batista, who should have extra drama with HHH, and Benoit, who should have as big a deal made out of his qualification), we have the final touches on HHH/Orton (which will mostly be played out in an already-announced Orton/Flair match), and we have Jim Ross Day in OKC (with likely Hassan interference).
    Beyond that: Shawn Michaels vs. Edge is currently the much more interesting of the two singles matches RAW is serving up at the PPV, and they'll cross paths again tonight, and as good as they are, they don't need none of my fancy-ass fantasy booking, they can just wing it and it'll be quality TV.... the fates of Kane, Snitsky, and Trish will all be revealed (and at this point, I've had it about up to here with Kane/Snitsky overstaying it's welcome, and will mostly be interested to see how Trish is doing after last week; with Lita absent, who only knows how they shake this storyline up, now, but I figure Trish can play a pretty important part in it; if she can't torture Lita any more, maybe she'll waste her time while she's not wrestling on getting revenge on Kane; this would entail finding a guy to do her bidding, and while I'm sure they'd line up around the block, I'm kind of attached to the idea of Matt Hardy coming back to attack Kane on Trish's behalf; like I said, Lita's not here, but that doesn't mean we can't tell stories involving her, and how evil of a "fuck you" would it be to have Trish seduce Lita's one and only soulmate to get him to beat up on Lita's suddenly-not-so-bad husband? See, now THAT is soap opera bullshit that could play in a wrestling storyline!)... and then all the other bit players will, well, play bit parts. Six days before a big Joint PPV is no time to be trying to shove Simon Dean vs. Rosey down our throats...
    I see a lot of potential for gOOdness tonight on RAW; but I temper that with recognizing more than a few spots where things could go (and in the recent past HAVE gone) wrong. It'll be an interesting show to watch, in any case...
    So I suggest you do just that. Or you can, if you prefer, just wait till tomorrow, when OO will have your back with our patented Finest RAW Recap in All the Land. After some weekend negotiations, I can tell you that Erin Anderson and I agreed to terms, and it looks like she'll be handling that recap in my stead. Unless something fouls up in Erin's antiquated system of trying to watch two shows that are on at the same time (V... C... R? what's that?), or unless RAW ends up being either so good or so bad that I REALLY want to write about it, I think you can start getting excited for the once-monthly appearance of the bRAWd Recap.
  • As far as the SD! side of the Royal Rumble goes... well, suffice to say that I didn't pull any punches on Friday when assessing SD!'s situation. I really think their top two matches are the purest crap, and just about the only thing they've done better than RAW is that they've got more guys qualified for the Rumble already (too bad SD! appears to just be charged with stocking the match with jobbers, since other than Cena, there's not one possible winner; and what did I miss, when in the hell did Tough Enough Toolbox Puder qualify? And why? He's been so embarrassingly bad in skits that I can understand why they took him off TV, but if you can't carry a 90 second vignette, maybe now is not the time to be hopping into the Rumble? And oh, sweet jesus, somebody get me hard target search of every godhouse in the New York area, and make sure that Vince Russo's not found his way back onto the WWE payroll; Puder in the Rumble? Why do I suddenly have nightmarish visions of Russo's Tank Abbott Atrocity of 2000 that was SO dumb that even the dum-dums at WCW knew to put a stop to it before it began?).
    Of course, this got me plenty of "you go, girl" e-mails, since you wouldn't be here if you weren't of a mind with The Rick... but it also got me more than a few indignant responses from folks who thought I'd been WAY too hard and unfair in my criticisms. This ranged from people who wanted to fantasy book convoluted scenarios for the Taker/Heidenreich match that they thought would be neato, but which often sounded Gay Spooky to my ears (I'm all for some casket-related chicanery -- and the one guy who thought Kane could be inside the casket if Snitsky ended up running in on the match to help his poetry-spewing butt-buddy might have something -- but going much beyond that, it gets all cutesy and lame, and all I want out of that match is for the story to be OVER; no lightshows, no supernatural crap, and NO WM21 TAG MATCH!) all the way to people who thought it was ridiculous of me to call the show ending "swerve" of JBL re-turning heel "predictable" since it was a taped show, and you can't have swerves on a taped show.
    Guess again, idiots: I'm guessing less than 10% of the audience gives a shit about spoilers. And WWE needs to be in the business of satisfying the other 90%, anyway. I didn't think the ending was predictable because I'd seen spoilers, I thought it was predictable because it was unclever, unconvincing, and unsatisfying. Simple as that.
    I take nothing back. SD! has real problems on top right now. It's not a terminal situation, but I'd love to see the roster get helped out with a couple wise moves in the post-WM lottery (in my mind, this is increasingly becoming a big deal, especially if WWE is deadset on "saving face" by not letting Lesnar back), and much more important than that: WWE can't afford to wait till WM, they need to stop with the soap opera crap RIGHT NOW.
  • But in a related note, you might not want to hold your breath on that, either.  Because it's been confirmed that the main event of the SD! PPV in February ("No Way Out," held in Margaritaville North, formerly known as Pittsburgh) will pit JBL against the Big Show in a Barbed Wire Cage Match. The stipulation should be no surprise to you, we talked about that over a month ago...  but confirmation on the two participants in a new, if semi-expected, revelation.
    You know, up until the last month or so of crap, I honestly thought the Big Show might have earned himself the spot as the Guy Who Beats JBL at WM21. Since his return, he's seemed on his game, mixing up the lumbering giant act with some cool power/brawling moves, mixing up the deadly seriousness with some comedy...  I kinda figured he'd be the guy. But now, trust me, this nonsense with the Diva Losers and the current lack of anything compelling about the JBL/Show feud pretty much has me looking elsewhere again. And now, this match on the February PPV seems to confirm two things...
    (1) That the stupid crap between Show and JBL isn't gonna end (we can only hope and pray that it stops involving these useless divas); and (2) it seems unlikely now that Show vs. JBL will be the SD! main event at WM. I figure that means one of two things, either Angle wins the Rumble title match and goes on to a non-crappy feud while Show and JBL do their barbed wire match WITHOUT the title on the line, or somebody else steps up as JBL's challenger. For reasons that evade me, a lot of people like John Cena in that role. Baffling. First of all, he's the US Champ with that customized belt and I say let him role with that and make it his own, and second, if you honestly put JBL and Cena against each other, I might be forced into the unenviable position of finding JBL the more likeable of the two. And I do NOT want to do that.
  • Some other SD!-related e-mails that have reach just enough of a critical mass for me to mention them...  a few folks have been asking how come WWE is pushing ahead with making useless divas like Joy and Amy into "main eventers" (even if by proxy), while Michelle McCool is gone.
    Apparently, they think that just because Michelle was the only Diva Contestant I came even close to developing one of my patented ManCrushes on, that somehow means I'm uniquely qualified to answer questions about her...  but luckily for you, in this case, I've stumbled into the info!
    And actually, it's almost heartening: Michelle's not "gone," she's doing some work in OVW. It's not a full-on developmental contract yet, but it's a deal where the last few weeks, WWE's been putting her through some paces to see what she might be capable of. She has absolutely no ring experience, but per an interview I read recently, grew up as a huge wrestling fan. Couple a desire to learn with easily the best "wrestler" body (you know what I mean: convincingly sturdy; not too waify, not too Chyna-y, but JUST RIGHT) of any of the diva contestants, and of course WWE's gonna see what's there. 
    And people: I want a gold star, or something. I picked Michelle as my Diva Of Choice in that stupid contest pretty much blind. It was just a hunch. And when all was said and done? She turns out to be an actual, bona fide, life long wrestling fan, she turns out to be the only one of the Diva Losers who seems capable of talking like a normal person and carry on a realistic conversation instead of like a guest on Jerry Springer, and she's also the only of the Diva Losers to get singled out for a little Actual Wrestling Training.  Can I pick 'em, or can I pick 'em, folks?  Another talent of The Rick's is revealed: Making accurate snap character judgments based on little to no data.
  • Following up on my mention of that cool Batista interview in Friday's column....
    First of all, I'm happy so many of you enjoyed it, and wish I could funnel your thanks to the readers who actually tipped me off to it...  but I'm lazy, so I'll just take 'em for myself.
    But second of all: in all the eerie RickThink that Batista was espousing, a few of you were surprised that I didn't pick up on ANOTHER line in the interview to focus on.  Specifically, a line where Batista says, "Well if you can't learn about the business being on the road with [Flair and HHH] - who will just sit and dissect wrestling matches and crowds - then you must be dumb."
    Apparently, you took that as a dig on Randy Orton, who also traveled with Evolution, but who apparently walked away with few, if any, of the lessons Batista thinks he's picking up. And thus, you think that quote was Batista's veiled way of saying "Orton's dumb."
    Well, I certainly won't stop you from thinking what you want to think. And now that you mention it to me, I do kinda like that interpretation. So even if it's not what Batista meant, what the hell? It makes the big man seem even more wise if we all pretend!
  • Shifting gears to TNA for a second...
    I think I'm going to permanently implement a new rule, and only watch Impact late at night while boozing heavily. Usually, my routine is to record it, and then either watch it in kind of a rush before I go out on Friday night or save it back to watch while hungover on Sunday afternoon. This weekend, I got scared home early by impending weather on Friday night, and after rapidly exhausting my options for online entertainment, I retreated to the couch, plopped down around 2am, and watched Impact while wearing a pleasant buzz.
    And despite a few glaring problems, my pain was numbed, and I kinda think that was the best Impact I've ever seen.
    It felt like an Event, anyway, like important stuff was happening, and that's extremely rare in TNA. And it ended with Chris Daniels and AJ Styles having the Best Impact Match Ever to close things out. I'll take that.
    Now: it's kind of weird to have a show open with the set-up for a Kevin Nash vs. Jeff Jarrett PPV match, and close with the set-up for a Daniels vs. Styles PPV match, since those don't seem like matches that should be on the same card or appeal to the same fans....  but accepting that TNA is trying to be Every Promotion to Every Fan, and this is their strategy, I guess I appreciated the way the show made the X Title match seem like a bigger deal by putting its story in the main event, and relegating Nash and Jarrett to jerking the proverbial curtain.
    Here's one problem I had: the logic of the Daniels/Styles thing was a disaster. And I say that AFTER having admitted I was enjoying cocktails, because I'm confident enough that my brain was still working more smoothly than whoever came up with the underpinnings for their exchanges. Daniels just gets done talking about how awesome he is and how he's demanding an X Title shot; Styles comes out and says "OK, anytime, anyplace"; and so then Daniels says, "Oh, well, umm, you're willing to give me the shot? I wasn't expecting that. Allow me to counter propose a needlessly circuitous match in which if you can't beat me in 10 minutes, only THEN will I receive the title shot that I just asked for and which you seemed willing to grant."  Awful; you wanna do the time challenge thing, you gotta have that be Dusty Rhodes dragging his fat ass out to tell the young whippersnappers to cool their jets, and that he's gonna make Daniels EARN the title shot. So simple to trouble-shoot, if you're just using your head...
    Although the fact that Rhodes DID appear after the fact and retroactively make it seem like the time challenge was his idea makes me wonder...  the big problem with Styles and Daniels is that they just don't have the repetitions on the mic that they need. Styles is visibly uncomfortable in an Orton Kind of Way, while Daniels at least has enough chutzpas to mask his discomfort (but I'm wondering if maybe he still didn't get something out of order in the promo, causing the massive logic vacuum). No denying what those two can do once the bell rings, but there's more to the bidness than that... and as good as their match ended up, that's how bad the promo and logic setting it up was.
    Also: why is Johnny NASCAR having actual wrestlers and the announce team stroking his wang like this? I mean, FIRST, why is Johnny NASCAR even in a wrestling angle? And then, if you can explain that, then proceed to the part where he's got a half dozen guys falling all over themselves to waste valuable TV time talking about how shocked and surprised we'll all be when Johnny NASCAR wrestles his debut match on PPV... if you want an example of a single five minute block of TNA that's so confounding that it makes me not want to mess with the other 55, there it is.
    I'm not saying celebrities don't have a role in wrestling. But I AM saying that the only ones who do are ones who enhance the wrestling product and somehow make it accessible to the mainstream. Having a 50-year-old NASCAR guy -- who even among TNA fans MUST be hated, since his interview pieces have frequently been pitiably bad -- wrestle a match is not going to accomplish that trick. I don't understand who could possibly have thought this was a good idea.
    Look, TNA can claim they have the best wrestling in the world, and might even have some barely-competent storytelling mixed in there even if sometimes the caliber of the personalities delivering promos isn't the best... but the first thing any fan is gonna notice is the presentation, just the kind of big picture of what TNA is all about. And kids, I first made this observation back the very weekend TNA debuted: my first impression is that we'd gone back in time to 1982, with all the gay ass laser lights. I don't know if that's a lack of funds to do it right, or a lack of cool to know that it looks dorky. But I know it's a problem.
    And then you ladle on copious helpings of Jeff Jarrett quoting Toby Keith truck commercial lyrics, and aged NASCAR guys being treated like an actual celebrity? You're never gonna be cool, TNA, not following that strategy. And if you aren't ever gonna seem cool to anybody outside of a 12-state block in the south, that's a huge problem. I know it's a wrestling show and I'm a wrestling fan, so therefore I shouldn't care about the window dressing, but I'm sorry: I will very rarely get my Wrestling Dork Swerve on and just want to see two guys I don't care about have a 20 minute highspot-a-thon, but mostly, I outgrew that while trading tapes in college, and now I have a broader view of what counts as "wrestling." I think that view might be closer to the AVERAGE fan's view, too. And trust me, if I'm right, TNA's presentational issues are not things most fans can ignore.
    Oh, and just since it seems to fit: Don West needs to be sacked. Immediately. I've held this belief for a long time, but I was reminded of how STRONGLY I held it after not really FF'ing at all on this week's Impact, therefore subjecting myself to the full 45 minutes of his grating voice saying the most unimaginably dumb things. Another thing that might turn off casual fans.
  • Speaking of TNA making missteps with their "cool," they are sending about a half dozen of their personalities to appear in an upcoming episode of Jeff Foxworthy's Comedy Central crap-a-thon, "Blue Collar TV." Well, having only seen the commercials while watching non-crap on Comedy Central, I'm assuming it's a crap-a-thon... hell, even without the commercials, it's got Jeff Foxworthy on it. Kiss of death.
    Anyway, this is what I'm talking about: TNA needs to lose it's redneck stigma, but look at the only "mainstream" (ahem, I've not seen ratings, but I'm assuming Foxworthy isn't exactly Dave Chappelle) show that's willing to associate with TNA.... it's Mr. "You Might Be a Redneck If" himself.
    So TNA proudly suckles at the red neck teat in search of a few more PPV buys, I guess. I can't really say TNA SHOULDN'T do the gig if it's offered, since that'd just be dumb... but they honestly need to work on their public image so that Jeff Foxworthy isn't their only offer.
    Whatever it's worth, the "Blue Collar TV" thing has its taping tomorrow (Tuesday) in Atlanta. The press release thingie I got even had an address for the theatre/cafe they do their tapings at, but I don't have it handy, and figure if you're getting all your TNA info here at OO, you're not exactly a big enough TNA fan to go endure the double vortex of redneck crap that is TNA and Jeff Foxworthy. That said: Erin probably picked the right week to placate me and with promises of a RAW Recap. Because otherwise, I might have considered a few hours of "You might be a redneck if" to be suitable punishment for her adoption of the "Lund Publication Schedule" over the last six months... 
  • Last thing for today I guess has to count as a "correction," although it's of the most ricockulously pointless variety...
    I accused Nicole Richie of possessing only one talent in life: being born to a famous father. And boy did I ever hear about that from you pop culture whores...
    Turns out, Lionel Richie only ADOPTED Nicole after her biological parents (her real dad was a friend/bandmate/something of Lionel's) crapped out. Well, dammit, I was pretty close, and trust me, for me to even know THAT much about a marginal celebrity like Nicole Richie is pretty good. To the handful of you that got kinda mean about it, asking me how I could think Nicole Richie is half-black, I say screw off...  you can tell she ain't a natural blond, and Lionel Richie wasn't exactly the darkest of brothers, as I recall.
    Anyway, my real point on Friday wasn't anything about her actual parentage, it was just to say that she struck me as empty-headed to the point of being un-talk-to-able. And I wished America would demand just a touch more out of its celebrities than that they be semi-attractive. I've never seen her show, but the premise sounds awful (two dumb girls clutzing around talking about how "Wow, I've never rode on a bus before" and making fun of rubes with set pieces given to them by their producers which they're supposed to act like they just thought up, right?), and when you can't even fulfill the minimum requirements of being a mere Talk Show Guest (i.e. "being able to sustain a conversation"), you're vastly underqualified to be a celebrity. Just get off my TV.
    [Note: a few other people wrote in to say that yes, Nicole is your prototypical dumb, rich bitch, but that Dave was being nice to her since she just had some kind of drug problem and she's fresh out of rehab, and so Dave, even though he could have, probably didn't want to crush the delicate little flower's spirit by getting snarky. Fair 'nuff. I didn't know that, and perhaps Letterman was just being a gentleman.]
    Oy, and how sick does this make me that I hear about Johnny Carson passing away, and I check the listing for Leno tonight to see who he might be having on who'd be able to pay adequate homage, and Jay's lead guest is Nicole's pal, Paris Hilton...  how grossly inappropriate. Just thank me that I didn't take this as an opportunity to make a joke about how Paris ALSO only has one talent in life. Because I saw some of that footage, and she really wasn't that good.
    I think on that note, I can hit the old dusty trail. Barring unforeseen events, I won't see you again till Wednesday, folks, so take it easy....

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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