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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, Japan Tour/TV Tapings, 
Vince Injury Update, and MORE!
February 2, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Indulge me for a moment, if you will. Because I have first an admission, then an observation, and then a synthesis to make...

The admission is easy: by the time I was old enough to stay up and watch Late Night TV, Johnny Carson was in his last couple years of "The Tonight Show," and I never really understood what the big deal about the old guy with the uncool guests was all about. Of course, this was at a time when I'd watch "Arsenio" a few nights a week and think it was tremendous television, so clearly there was no accounting for taste back then. Over the years, I have certainly gained a bit of perspective on Carson, and also gained an appreciation for exactly what he did and how he did it so well for so long. But since I missed experiencing it first-hand by a few years, it remains something I need to be reminded of from time to time. 
 

And we're all gotten plenty of those reminders in the past week and a half, which leads me to my observation. I watch a decent amount of Late Night shows, and it's really not just cuz that's a time of day when I'm almost always home and bored. It's also because (just as pro wrestling is my time saving combination of drama, action, mystery, and all  

that), a good late night show gives me comedy, it gives me a little dose of news and current events if I've been lazy with my reading on a given day, it keeps me apprised of pop culture so that I can at least make fun of horseshit like "The OC" in an educated manner, it might even introduce me to a new band I'd like. But more than anything, it's a chance to plop down and just hang out for a bit after a boring ol' weekday. It's not quite a social interaction, but it comes a lot closer to it than any scripted TV shows you'd watch in prime time: it's like Late Night is the party you can go to even if it's Tuesday and you can't stay very long.

And accepting that, I put it all together and I suddenly "get" Johnny Carson. Because you want to be greeted by a host who's not just smart and funny, but who is just a bit smarter and funnier than you are. You want someone who's casual and spontaneous, and doesn't need to work from notecards to make you laugh. You want somebody genuine. You want someone who can shift gears and speak intelligently and seriously to other guests, if that's what's necessary. That seems to me to be exactly what Carson brought to the table.  

And not to tangentialize, but this is also exactly why David Letterman is the successor to Carson, and not Jay Leno. Jay Leno is a Joke Delivery System; even last week on his Johnny Tribute Show, everything he said seemed off a cue card. I'm not saying he's not a good, decent guy or that he doesn't work hard, but I am saying that his show is simply not what interests me. To sit there and slog through jokes that have been written and re-written, and then placate marginal celebrity guests with softball questions instead of getting something interesting out of them? Nah. Meantime, Letterman spends a good 5-10 minutes every night just sitting at his desk doing crap like ranting against his flu and ineffective cold medicines. If the scripted comedy isn't funny, he'll bail out of a piece, and have to make up the time by bantering spontaneously with Rupert later on or by milking one more funny story out of Regis. He'll play "Will It Float?" every week just to amuse himself, even if nobody cares about it. Conan does a lot of the same stuff: just wasting time amusing himself, and because he's not dumb enough to be amused by crap, also amusing his discerning audience. I don't know: maybe it's how easy and unchallenging it is to watch Leno that makes him the ratings leader in Late Night, but anybody out there who has made noises the last week about how Johnny was the one and only true King of Late Night had bah gawd better be watching Letterman every night, or else you're a hypocrite of the highest order. FIN.

Oh, and PS: to the many out there who think I've gotten way more rambly in the last year? Blame Letterman. It's not like it's happening accidentally or that I don't realize I'm doing it.  But fact is, I take my cues on how to entertain America from Dave, and I've seen him waste time on nights when the comedy isn't funny or the guests are gonna suck by just amusing himself for 35 minutes at the top of a show. I'm here 4 days a week, people, and if WWE refuses to entertain us with consistency, it means I gotta try different stuff to fill up space. Per Letterman, that means putting a little bit more of me and what amuses me in when the Actual Product is a little thin, and doing it spontaneously rather than trying to write, rewrite, and revise my way out of the hole.  I've always liked the tone of writing that is like "here's a funny story or idea I've been kicking around in my brain and will present to you even though it's not totally polished, since this leaves the dialogue for discussion open, as you might have an addendum to my idea that I've not yet contemplated" rather than the sanitized and stilited "here's a collection of the stories or ideas I have rewritten 12 times in the last week so they are literarily perfect and logically tight, but often lacking in personality." That's why I'm a first-draft rambler 90% of the time, folks. And hey, either you like me, or you don't. I guess maybe that's why there's a handful of "Jay Leno" wrestling sites out there that kick my ass in the "ratings," eh?  You go enjoy your wrestling equivalents of the Dancing Itos and idiotic "news bites" about Chyna, and I'll live....

And I will also now finally get to the point! Perhaps I rambled extra long today because my guests tonight are Tony Danza, Paula Abdul, and the music of Kenny G? Or maybe I've actually got a killer line-up, and am trying to throw you off the scent? Only one way to find out: 

  • There's not a whole lot more I feel like saying about Monday's RAW.
     
    It had some ups, it had some downs, and at the end of the night, it was an alright show, nothing more. If anything, maybe my favorite part of the show was the set-up for next week's... not only will the atmosphere be really unique and electric in Japan, but WWE has set the table with some promising matches. As bad as the skit was that led it was, Jericho vs. Benoit in front of an appreciative Japanese audience simply ought to kick all manner of ass. I suspect, in deference to what the Japanese audience appreciates (and what they would understand live; there will be no closed captioning), we won't get a whole lot of time spent on promos/skits, so there's absolutely no reason to believe that the Jericho/Benoit match won't get a good 20 minutes. The chance to do something special for Regal/Tajiri also exists, since Tajiri was even imported from SD! for a few RAW tours of Japan and worked semi-main events and stuff, and was VERY well-received in that role.
     
    I guess if I had one comment I want to expand upon about last night's RAW, it also ties in to next week: the signing of the HHH/Edge World Title match strikes me as odd. I mean, I could go mega-smark on you and say that it's 100 kinds of wrong for Edge to spend months building up this character based on everybody SCREWING him, only to be handed a title shot out of nowhere... and part of me definitely senses that: it seems like this is something that should have been build up more, rather than just being tossed out there. But it's also odd for another reason: heel vs. heel simply wouldn't play well here in North America... which I guess means WWE is banking on the Japanese fans to just respond to the quality of the match, rather than to any heel/face contrivances. Still, my understanding of Japanese wrestling over the last decade (since I stopped regularly trading tapes) is that it has (a) been in steady decline, and (b) has started to more resemble "Sports Entertainment." So we'll see...  Edge/HHH is an odd pairing, though, bottom line, and if I'd been in charge, I'd probably have made an HHH/HBK match, instead. Why? Because they have a long-standing rivalry, they would deliver a **** match guaranteed, and mostly: in storylines, that would REALLY piss Edge off.  But WWE has gone another direction....
     
    I'm as curious as anyone to see what they do with Orton, now... anytime you do a head injury in wrestling, it obviously plants the seeds for a possibly personality shift. At this point, they could be trying desperately (and futilely) to generate sympathy for babyface Randy by having him courageously battle despite his injury, showing more heart and desire than he ever has before. Or it could set up a heel turn, where Orton starts doing "out of character" stuff (actually, it should probably be as simple as him regressing to his old character, the Legend Killer).  I will also pass along a humorous observation that a reader sent me earlier today: Orton could just develop mental problems as a result of the blows to the head, and go batshit insane. And the best part, is if he turns into Perry Saturn 2.0, he doesn't even need "Moppy." Cuz he's already got the similarly-built Stacy!  Too mean? Don't blame me, I'm just the messenger!
     
    I think that's about all I wanted to add in. As is usually the case, I shot my wad yesterday in the RAW Recap, so if you want more of my tremendously witty and insightful observations about the show, just go read that.
     
  • The rating for Monday's RAW was a 4.1, which is a nice little third-of-a-point bounce from the last few weeks. The "bounce effect" is no longer guaranteed after PPVs, so this indicates that for once, fans liked what they saw (or read about, secondhand) at the Rumble... enough to show up in slightly-greater-then-usual numbers for RAW.
     
    Now to see if they can sustain that momentum through WM21. It'll probably take shows a little stronger than last nights, but again, already I'm fired up for next week's RAW in Japan, so perhaps other fans will feel the same way...
     
  • Speaking of RAW in Japan: it's being taped on Friday night. Which is like overnight Thursday in the US. I think. Stupid International Date line.
     
    Point is, that makes this a rare case when there will be RAW Spoilers. And I was pondering what the hell to do about this, since the new OO Philosophy is to avoid publishing spoilers so as to increase everybody's Actual Enjoyment of the product (instead of increasing your selfish belief that you're better than everybody else because you know something they don't), but with this being a special case, maybe it would be appropriate to do Spoilers?
     
    On Monday night after RAW, I was mulling the issue, and started leaning towards NOT doing Spoilers. My lean was quickly propped up when I got a vote of confidence, and so I tell you now: unless there is some kind of major news (injuries, backstage stuff, etc.), OO is going to be a Spoiler Free Zone for this Japan tour. I want to avoid spoilers myself, and when I get to Monday's column, I'll preview RAW and treat it like it's gonna be live. Which might be kinda awkward, but hey, I think we'll all have more fun this way, right? 
     
    And if you disagree, well again, this goes back to the "doing what amuses me" concept, and I'm sure you can go find your Jay Leno and get spoilers from him if you must....
     
  • Somebody who will NOT be present on the Japan tour is Vince McMahon. The final diagnosis of his Royal Rumble injury was torn quadriceps tendons. Not a quad injury the severity of HHH's or anything, but it still required surgery, which Vince had yesterday.
     
    No word on when he'd be able to resume a travel schedule that will put him backstage at tapings, but we know for sure that for this tour and until he DOES return, Stephanie McMahon is in charge. And not to harp on unpleasant memories, but I think we all remember what happened the LAST time this situation took place: only the worst WWE PPV in years...
     
    The good news is that, at least for this first week, the Japan shows mean that RAW and SD! will probably be a bit lighter on major promos and skits, and more wrestling-centric. It also won't hurt that WWE will have days of post-production time to tighten up any creative missteps.
     
    But anyway, I think just to be safe, I speak for ALL of us when I say: Get well soon, Vince.
     
  • Speaking of "lighter on promos and skits," one note I did get out of Monday's dual tapings is that the post-RAW SD! stuff had almost NO extracurricular stuff. Just bang-bang-bang, four or five matches and that was it.
     
    One has to assume, then, that any spoiler reports you read from the show will be half-spoilers at best, and that WWE will be editing in the backstage stuff later. To save time and conserve the energy of a crowd that had a rather long night of wrestling, WWE just decided not to include them in "real time." Probably not a bad idea, as long as fans could still follow along with why the matches they saw were happening...
     
    Also: there were no Heat or Velocity matches taped, so I have NO idea what they're gonna be doing there.
     
    But there was one dark match, and curiously, it featured former WCW Cruiserweight Champion Psicosis. He lost a very good match against Tajiri. You wouldn't know it for how poorly treated the cruisers are on SD!, but WWE has reportedly been looking to add to the cruiserweight roster. Psicosis' name has been bandied about, and now he's at the very least gotten a try-out (if not a contract)... and everybody seems to think that it's a virtual lock that Super Crazy will be showing up in WWE very soon (and the only reason he hasn't yet is because he's recovering from an injury and doesn't want to do his try-out until he's 100% and able to deliver his best).
     
  • Nothing but rave reviews from last night's "Super Show" in Hawaii. By combining the brands so that each only had to present 4 matches, you really got to focus on your strongest, most over stars, to very good effect. There was also one cross-promotional match (the Taker/Kane vs. Heidenreich/Snitksy deal)... 
     
    And then, to make sure that everybody got to work on the card, they also did a massive battle royale which included a ton of big names (Benoit won, last eliminating Big Show).
     
    As a special treat, they did a promo in which the Coach introduced the Magnificent Don Muraco to the fans, and then made the mistake of mocking Muraco... of course, Coach ended up getting his ass kicked, much to the delight of all.
     
    By and large, WWE runs the exact same show this Sunday in Alaska, on the return trip from Japan. Well, except for the Muraco part... I think Alaska's gonna be SOL on that one, unless there's some famous native son up there that I don't know about. Hey, maybe WWE acquired The Yeti costume when they bought WCW?
     
  • A couple weeks ago when Rob Van Dam was written off TV, there were reports that he would do anything to avoid surgery, and if it was possible, he'd rehab as best he could and get back on TV ASAP and work through the pain some more...  which is noble and all, but sometimes, you just gotta think things through a bit more.
     
    And Rob did, and after talking with more doctors, he actually had knee surgery late last week. He's looking at a good 4-6 months on the shelf. But when he gets back, he'll be good as new, which might be good for us fans who want to see RVD doing all the crazy shit RVD does, and will DEFINITELY be good for Rob, since he's been working in pretty bad pain for over a year now.
     
  • OO's eyes and ears in Atlanta have picked up on a little newsbite...  Lex Luger was arrested for Driving Under the Influence early Monday morning. There's a whole to-do in terms of the details and the suspected mix of vodka and pills he'd imbibed, but as is my custom, I prefer to gloss over that, and just get to the part that might actually have some effect on us as wrestling fans...
     
    Because Luger's is always a name that people wonder about in terms of whether he'll ever get another shot with WWE. And instances like this are mounting, and I think you can probably write him off, OK? From the personal pharmacy the guy had back when Liz died, to being such a wreck that not even TNA wanted to use him to cut promos late last year, and now to this. Lex might have some other things on his plate to deal with before a return to big time wrestling is gonna happen.
     
    Um, I was gonna include the link to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about this just in case some of you DID want the details... but I just remembered that you'd have to give 'em your name and e-mail before you get an account to access the website, and just trust me: the article isn't worth the hassle.
     
  • Billy Gunn was backstage at TNA tapings this week. He did not appear onscreen, though.  He lives in Florida, so he might have been just visiting, but a current TNA storyline has Dusty Rhodes' two "personal assistants" trying to impress him by recruiting talent for TNA...  I don't know if Billy might fit into that.
     
    I do know that Billy won't be "Billy" anymore, though...  WWE owns that name, lock, stock, and barrel.
     
    Oh, and this has nothing to do with anything, but it IS another problem with TNA: the whole thing with Dusty's two hot babes fawning all over him is just creepy. And wrong. And, one has to assume, quite unrealistic. Unless the secret to scoring top shelf tail is packing on an extra 150 lbs. and waiting till you're 60. Which I don't think it is.
     
  • And since I seemed to have a "late night" bug up my ass today, why not bring it full circle, like the talented writer I am and close with this....
     
    If you're interested, a few readers passed along word that Jesse Ventura is scheduled as a guest on tonight's Jimmy Kimmel show. Don't know exactly what he'd be plugging, but you never know when Jesse will pepper in a wrestling anecdote or two.
     
  • That's about it today. I oughta see you again on Friday, and in the interim, you've got TONS of other good stuff to keep you busy. Today is part four of Matt's Lord of the Ring Satire (Friday will be the raging climax, too!), and Jeb (with a little help from some friends) is promising to get me something for tomorrow that sounds positively absurd. And you might take 'em for granted, but since I don't want to be accused of leaving anyone out, I'll mention that you'll get your weekly doses of Bulldog, Adam, Pyro, Danny, and Denny, too! Erin won't have anything for you, but I'm sure she says, "Hi!"
     
    I think that's everybody... see, it's not ALL about me! Just mostly!
     
    See you when I see you, kids.


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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