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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
PPV Fall-out, RAW Preview, Plus Amy,
TNA, Training Facilities, and LOTS MORE!
February 21, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I gotta say that as far as weekends go, you can't get much better than this past one....
 
Right there in Row E, about 15 feet away from the action as the Dayton Flyers doled out sweet, sweet justice to the infidels of Xavier? That's good times. We might not be so hot this year, but we continue to get better as a team (12 of our players are frosh or sophs, and we're gonna be Scary Good in 2 years).... and beating X means that when the A-10 

tourney happens, we've got the inside track on the first-round bye, which given how depleted our shitty conference is this year, COULD be the difference in stealing a tourney win and sneaking into the Big Dance. Lord knows, there will be no At Large bids this year...

Then, as a special bonus, I actually got to watch my recording of the game yesterday before heading out for the PPV... and I'd heard on Saturday night that ESPN did a good job of conveying the awesome atmosphere in the D-Rena, but even that word of warning didn't prepare me for the gushing praise the announcers were heaping on Dayton and the UD Arena and its fans when I saw the game footage for myself. The virtual blowjob climaxed in the announcers putting us on a list of the five best basketball facilities in the country. Whoa. And while I might grant that's SLIGHT hyperbole, it's not off by much (we have a 10,000-plus attendance streak that goes back to like 1997, I think, and are always in the top 25 of annual attendance among all D-I schools!), and I kindly invite you all to take ESPN's word for it: maybe now you get a handle on how I can be so passionately loyal to a basketball program you have, in your ignorance, mistakenly labeled as third-tier!

And one of these days, I'll get a handle on keeping my pre-rambles to 200 words or less. Just not today, apparently. Here's some rasslin':

  • Last night's PPV doesn't exactly age well in hindsight... even last night after the show, it was a thumbs-in-the-middle kind of deal. Thinking back, my overriding memory seems to be not any particular match or moment, but rather that it feels like I spent last night watching a decent episode of SmackDown!, and *not* a PPV.
     
    There are any number of things one could blame: the old stand by of "too many pay-per-views" is always a good one, but in this case, SD! hadn't presented a PPV in 2 months, and it's 6 weeks until WM21, and really, if you can't put together a decent show with those kinds of buffers on either side, "too many PPVs" ain't the problem... maybe it's just SD!'s thinner roster? If so, why not augment that by taking advantage of the Road to WM, where cross-brand options are open? Instead, Batista's run in was anti-climax personified, and Shawn Michaels wasn't flown in for a special appearance when he really could have jazzed up the Angle/Cena match... and possibly it's a much deeper problem: that Vince McMahon is off the road with his injuries, leaving Stephanie in charge for the past 3 weeks, and she and her band of Hollywood yes-men just don't have the same kind of grasp on crafting compelling TV nor the self-confidence to actually listen to valid criticism that you might want in a show-runner.
     
    Out of seven "segments" (for the sake of this argument, let's count the Rookie Diva Crap), only TWO of them were established more then 3 days before the PPV.  Show/JBL (which was established at the Royal Rumble), and Taker/Luther (established 10 days before the PPV). A third segment was the climax of a tournament, and thus wasn't locked in until Thursday night, and could be excused on those grounds, I guess.  But that still left three matches and one useless T&A show to be set up on the final SD! before the PPV. Which *might* be a good thing if there was something uniquely compelling about the three established matches (like how New Year's Revolution was basically just the Elimination Chamber, and then a bunch of crap that I've already forgotten)... instead, there was just no momentum heading into the PPV, as a result of an almost criminal lack of foresight and planning.
     
    Unless that PPV is exactly what WWE had been planning for ever since the week after Armageddon, in which case, they sure lived up to their challenging-yet-attainable goal of putting out 3 hours of almost completely forgettable, mediocre TV. One must hope that isn't the case, though.
     
    Here's what "hit" at the PPV: the opening tag match (but at about 12-15 minutes, it was really no different than a match that we'd see on a Thursday night)... the Cena/Angle match (but at 18 minutes or so, that's about a standard SD! main event, and truth be told, it wasn't THAT much more thrilling than a couple of surprisingly decent Angle/JBL matches that have headlined SD! the past 2 months)... and the creativity of the main event finish (although to appreciate that, you had to ignore some massive logic holes -- like "Why didn't Show just pin JBL?" -- and stilted awkwardness setting up the big final spot).
     
    As much as I'd LIKE to put the CW elimination match on that list, it was just too short to click, and WWE's shitty job of storytelling on SD! meant that the fans didn't care, no matter how hard those guys would have worked.
     
    The diva thing? Look if this crap were limited to SD!, I guess I'd just grin and bear it. But it's not, and the same problems exist on both brands. I hate to sound like a broken record, but WWE's misguided notion of just hiring anonymous eye candy is NOT impressing anyone. It serves no purpose to anyone over the age of 13. I'd feel bad about continuing to rail against these Useless Divas 2 or 3 times a week, but I keep getting more ammunition, and I am so clearly RIGHT that it's hard not to keep firing rounds at WWE. I mean, Pittsburgh turned on 2 or the 4 divas, outright, and responded most positively to the one diva who showed a knack for something other than standing around looking pretty. Point to Rick. And in collecting e-mails and talking to people after the show, to a man (and to one woman), everybody agreed that the 3 five-plus minute diva segments were absolute momentum killers, and a big part of the reason why it was hard to sustain interest in No Way Out.
     
    Heidenreich/Booker and Luther/Taker? Just flat out not very exciting. Those are matches that actually compare POORLY to what I'd expect on an average Thursday night.
     
    I guess that mix works out to about half-good, half-bad... but this is still PPV, not Thursday night, and you can't help but want a little something more out of a show that you plan an evening around. I don't think that's an unfair criticism; WWE might tell itself, "Hey, even Rick said it wasn't bad! So who the hell are these fans to complain." But christ, even if there's not enough outright BADNESS to complain about, one of these days, WWE just has to realize that PPVs NEED to be different from weekly TV, not just in hype, but in actual content.  
     
    Certainly, No Way Out wasn't a stinker in the same way that the Great American Bash was... but it's just yet another indictment on WWE's lack of understanding of its own audience, lack of big-picture foresight, and lack of ability to book things with a mind towards a Major Event Aura or a Signature Moment Memory. I honestly don't understand what's so hard about coming up with those elements to make PPVs seem worthwhile: it basically comes down to having about 3 or 4 really good ideas per month, and then the creativity to reverse engineer 4 weeks worth of TeaseTV leading up to the PPV, and making people want to see you deliver those 3 or 4 really good ideas.
     
    In the dying days of WCW, it was easy to rationalize the lack of those 3 or 4 good ideas per month by blaming the corporate infrastructure for keeping good ideas down. Coming up on a solid year of WWE being rather spotty in the "good ideas" department, I wonder what the rationalization could be in this case?  Because it's simply NOT that hard to come up with good ideas, ESPECIALLY if you're lucky enough to be getting paid to do it, instead of just sitting around like an assmunch 6-8 hours a week half-assedly coming up with good ideas for his own amusement (and hopefully, for the amusement of his legions of equally-disillusioned readers).
     
    So, to bring it all back down to one basic thesis: not a horrible PPV, if one is fair about it. But also just another bland, tepid entry in WWE's recent trend of forgettable PPVs that makes me wonder why I bother going out of my way, when I can just get the full rundown on Thursday, and not really miss anything. That is not a good thing. 
     
    Full details on the entire show are still available for those who need them (and who don't want to wait till Thursday) in the OO No Way Out PPV Recap.
     
  • In the name of fair play and honesty, I will mention that WL beat OO in the third round of 2005's PPV Predictions Battle. Personally, I led our downward spiral by only going 3-for-6, and can't blame anybody but myself.
     
    If it's any consolation to you Rick Lovers out there, I did essentially get the main thrust of the CW match's story correct, I just picked the wrong heel to screw over London to set up London's eventual WM21 title win... and I still say that even if Heidenreich got DQ'ed, he was the clear MORAL victor in that match, which should count for something.  So c'mon, let's all just enter a land of magical make-believe and say I went 5-for-6!
     
    Full PPV Predictions results have been compiled by PyroFalkon, and are available right here, if you're interested.
     
  • Regarding Vince McMahon's injury status: he is unlikely to resume traveling at any point in the next few months. It is widely suspected that through WM21, it'll be Steph running the show most weeks, with the assistance of HHH, and Vince phoning ideas in from Stamford unless tapings are close enough to make travel feasible (Vince is in a wheel chair at this point follow quad surgery).
     
    And while nobody is denying that Steph's trying to do her very best possible job in a very stressful situation, it's not *me* who made up the "not self-confident enough to take valid criticism" thing I off-hand mentioned above. There are many inside WWE who think that Steph could make her own job easier AND make the product better if she was a bit more secure in herself and let others offer help when they had ideas. Rather than running Paul Heyman off the writing team on a rail, for instance, and insulating herself behind a wall of Hollywood yes-men.
     
    HHH is probably the sharpest Wrestling Mind who has preferred access to Steph, so that might be a good thing... of course, then you have situations like last night where HHH wasn't around in Pittsburgh because he'd had to work the RAW house show on Sunday. So even that is not a catch-all solution. And keep it to yourself, HHHaters: HHH no more wants the WWE product to suck than Stephanie does, and you all at least have to grant that in his time in the ring and cutting promos, he's shown a knack for knowing what works and what doesn't, OK?
     
    Could be an interesting situation, depending on the direction of WWE creative over the next 6 weeks, and whether or not that can be tied directly to Vince McMahon's absence from tapings...
     
  • TNA made some waves over the weekend, as word began to circulate that they've arranged with Fox Sports Net for a 2-hour prime time special in April. Negotiations are still underway in terms of finalizing the exact date, but TNA wants to do a live event in Las Vegas, and will use the Best Damned Sports Show guys to help create the FSN tie-in.
     
    Great: Tom Arnold AND Don West in the same place?  If ever I could deliver two back-to-back debilitating trachea blows, that wouldn't be a bad combo. Off the top of my head, only Tim McCarver and Al Troutwig would be more satisfying to render mute for the rest of eternity.
     
    In any case, the event would probably take place mid-month, and word I got is that TNA is maneuvering for a Wednesday night slot (since there might be lingering ingrained habits among some of their fans to make Wednesday a wrestling night, and because really, unless they are dumb enough to try to go heads-up with WWE, the only other option is Tuesday night).  Their April PPV is either on the 17th or the 24th (I forget which, and I'm too lazy to go see if WWE's post-WM PPV is on the 24th or on May 1st), which would mean that 90% likelihood is that TNA's special will be on April 13th or April 20th. 
     
    The other possibility is that FSN might be pushing for a Friday night slot. I wasn't clear on the "whys" of that, but it was something mentioned to me.  It might just be as simple as FSN wanting any TNA special to air on Impact's normal day, or a belief that you can draw a bigger "event" crowd to a venue in Vegas on a weekend or something like that...  this is, however, offset by the fact that few people are actually home on Friday nights. If this is to be a grab at casual viewers who might stumble across it, or set aside time to watch it on impulse, then putting it on a night when you have only 50% as many potential eyeballs as you would on a Wednesday seems illogical. But who can tell?
     
    I'll say this: this could, obviously, be a great chance for TNA to impress some viewers who can't/don't make time for Impact at its three rather inconvenient weekend times. But there are two things that occur to me as major speed bumps: one is kind of a simple one that is out of TNA's control... because in late mid-April, NBA basketball will be coming down the homestretch, and many regional FSNs will no doubt have expanded coverage of local NBA teams. And also by then, the baseball season will be underway, further reducing the chances that any TNA prime time special would actually appear on 100% of all FSN affiliates.
     
    And second, and most important: for this to work as an attention getter, the show HAS GOT TO BE GOOD. TNA absolutely screwed the pooch with their last "Best Damned" tie-in. The weekly "Impact" TV is still a largely "miss" proposition to anybody who isn't already a vested fan (again, I just can't get over the 1985 Def Leppard Video sense of "cool" that TNA tries to sell us on, with all the fricking laser beams and time tunnels and shite; and when you have shows that end on such notes as an elderly NASCAR announcer removing his shirt, and such as some new character Triton debuting and causing a non-finish to an already-crappy match by marrying the Undertaker's worst Gay Spookiness to the the aforementioned Def Leppard caliber production values, you've got issues with appealing to a mainstream audience).... TNA's best chance of success would be to showcase less talking, and more action, letting Styles, Daniels, Sabin, Skipper, et al. carry the show. Because if people tune in and see midgets and Tom Arnold and shitty laser shows, it might look DIFFERENT from WWE, but it also looks much lamer: but if you're lucky enough to get a few fresh eyeballs checking out a show with a few 25 minute X-Division (or AMW) matches, it'll not only showcase TNA's differentness, but also spotlight the handful of different things they actually DO do better than WWE.
     
    I'd honestly love for TNA to make a go of this, but from a company that seems dead set on doing the least with the opportunities handed to them, I hope y'all don't mind the cautionary tale here.  [For whatever it's worth, I've decided that the reason I can't really get fired up about "Impact" is *not* because nothing happens on the show, but rather that they try to make *too much* happen on the show, and in the end, absolutely NONE of it seems important. No segment is ever more than 5-6 minutes, which means if something actually is starting to click, it's over before they can really build it up, and if something is worthless, it's taken up the time from something that COULD have used the time. And don't use the "Well, it's only a one hour show" excuse, either: the blueprint for how to be a PPV-caliber company with only one hour of TV per week is out there. ECW's syndicated show from 1996 through their TNN deal... instead of shoe-horning in 5 matches a week, ECW would usually do 2 VERY good 10-plus minute matches, maybe one shorter match if necessary, and one major angle/promo per show. And then so that we didn't forget about the half of the roster that didn't appear on this week's show, they had music video recaps and the extremely-useful Pulp Fiction quick-hitter-promo segment. Not everybody has to wrestle on TV every week, dammit; not if you want to actually build characters and deliver matches/angles that people will care about.]
     
  • Speaking of ECW, even if only in tangential fashion...
     
    Rob Van Dam has confirmed what we talked about a few weeks ago: he will be unable to compete by June 12, and won't be a part of the "One Night Stand" ECW alumni event. At least, not an active part. To my way of thinking, just having him in the building, cutting a promo, doing something, would be a nice and necessary touch.  Hell, depending on how health issues and TNA contracts and all that work out, if Sabu or Jerry Lynn are able to appear on the show, RVD doing some sort of a promo putting one of those guys over might be cool.
     
    Sucks that Van Dam's injury will keep him off the card, but if rumors are true, WWE really is gonna try to do this up right and come to terms with old ECW stars to make the event work; not saying RVD won't be missed, but if WWE assembles a nice cross section of ECW stars from its entire existence to go with the ECW alums they already have on their roster, it could be a pretty full slate.
     
  • WWE will be announcing it's FY2005 third quarter earnings this week...  I can't imagine that they'll have very many good stories to tell: TV ratings are about even with where they were a year ago this time, house show attendance is largely down, and PPV buyrates (mostly hinging on the Rumble) are gonna be down a bit.
     
    A prediction: WWE will try to focus on the massive success of the ECW DVD and the home video market in general, and will also harp on the fact that even if domestic attendance is down, they still do gangbusters business overseas, and have tours of Australia and Europe coming up this spring. That's what'll pass for the good news.
     
    Also: they've already announced a 12 cent per share dividend for all shareholders. Last time I had to do any dicking around with WWE financials (about 3 months ago, naturally, as the quarterly cycle goes), I think there were about 68 million shares of stock outstanding, which means the total dividend pay-out is something along the lines of $8 million. Do I dare mention that the McMahon family and other key WWE insiders and officials account for over 70% of total outstanding stock, and thus, will be splitting about $6 million amongst themselves? Kind of like a back-handed bonus at a time when business continues to spiral downward and wrestlers themselves aren't getting any big bonuses...
     
    Something semi-interesting: a guy who passed along word of the dividend said that he looked at the "insider transactions" listing on Yahoo's financial page, and both Jim Ross and Shane McMahon have both sold off more than 20,000 shares of stock (more than a quarter of a million dollars in cash value, each; either of you guys want to loan a webmaster a couple grand of your pocket change?) in the last month. And Kevin Dunn (WWE production guru) made a big sell-off of more than 35,000 shares of stock (close to half a million dollars in cash) around the same time. These aren't huge deals for a company that's capitalized at something like $900 million (if I recall correctly), but it's still just stuff that makes you go "Hmmmm...."
     
    For whatever it's worth, WWE stock is trading today around $12 flat... which is way closer to the 52-week low ($11-something) than to the 52-week high ($15-something).
     
    If anything interesting emerges when WWE announces its 3rd quarter numbers, I'll be sure to mention it either Wednesday or Friday.
     
  • If you didn't figure it out last Thursday night, Amy Weber is DEFINITELY done with WWE. 
     
    But here's the latest twist: the reason WWE was bending over backwards to try and get her to come back is because Amy is pondering legal action against WWE, and they wanted to short circuit that by luring her back. Nice. Also, Amy had done interviews/photo shoots for some magazines that will be coming out in the next month, hyping WM21, and with her gone, that's just gonna be awkward.
     
    We still don't know exactly what Amy dealt with on that overseas tour, precisely, but her "scouting report" remains one of a delicate little diva (in the pre-WWE usage of the term), and I'm really not sure how to react here. Then again, I tried to explain all this a week or so ago, and got e-mail telling me that I was endorsing sexual harassment. Which I wasn't. All I was saying is that there are certain things that a well-adjusted person just has to let slide. Amy Weber has to realize that she was brought into a wrestling company to provide nothing but T&A; she's a model, a Cinemax Late Night caliber actress, and basically a sex object. If she showed up on the flyers to some strip club, that's just more ammo for a bunch of guys that she still hadn't impressed or won over with her performance or her personality. I'm not saying she "deserved" any bad-taste joking, but I'm saying she should have been sharp enough to realize that she came into this company WITH baggage, and WITHOUT a track record of exhibiting any skill valuable to the wrestling industry. If she had just performed valuably for the company or comported herself well behind the scenes, crap like this would blow over, I'm sure.  And all that said: if there was ever one single instance of this leaving the realm of the verbal sparring and entering the realm of genuine intimidation or physical harassment, then SUE AWAY Miss Amy. Cuz there's just some shit idiot guys will do that you do NOT have to put up with...
     
    I don't mean to sound wishy-washy or bi-polar, but it's really sort of an issue with a lot of gray area. It's not unlike how I don't feel guilty or like too big of a dick for casually joking about "useless divas." Because that is a harmless observation relating to these women's roles in the company, not some horrible indictment on their value as human beings. You bring nothing but T&A to the table, and I say you're fair game for critics like me, and probably oughta be smart enough to realize what you'll be up against behind the scenes if that's all you bring to the table... but jokes and razzing are one thing, and there is most certainly a line that shouldn't be crossed. Not that we know that it has been, but....
     
    Till the whole story comes out, let's just wait and see. On one hand, if fricking HATE frivolous lawsuits and Amy's rep was not exactly one of being thick-skinned. But on the other, if WWE was prostrating itself to prevent a lawsuit, maybe we'll discover that this one won't be so frivolous...
     
  • Frankie Kazarian has, indeed, confirmed that he's finished with TNA (for now) and that he's fulfilling all his existing indie commitments while also "pursuing other options." Of course, the Big Option is interest from WWE. Returning to TNA isn't a totally dead issue, as I understand it, as the company would actually like to mend fences and have Kazarian back if it's possible... I don't know how it'll end up, but I'd refer you back to a news update last week in which I said that of the TNA X Division guys who I'd think be able to make a splash with WWE, Kazarian wouldn't be in the top tier. Not a knock on his amazing in-ring ability, but just a pragmatic observation that he'll be forced to tone that down by WWE, and that he doesn't have the same character/charisma/look/etc. that would allow him to distinguish himself while sticking to the "WWE Style" in the ring...
     
    Interestingly, there is also word going around that WWE has reached an agreement to bring Johnny Swinger into the company. Now there's a guy who is noticeably a notch or two less spectacular a high flyer, but who'll still be able to match-up well in the toned-down WWE Style, and who DOES have those other intangible factors going for him a bit. Swinger, of course, was a mid-card player in ECW's last couple years of existence, in addition to his more recent work in TNA...
     
  • Got word over the weekend that Booker T and his brother Stevie Ray are opening a wrestling school in Houston, TX.  The facility will open by the end of March, and interested parties should contact BTSRAcademy@aol.com, if you want info about classes/pricing/etc. 
     
    For the time being, it's likely that Stevie Ray will be the more hands-on of the brothers, but Booker T's mounting injuries have long had people rumbling that he might quit the business after his current contract expires later this year. He's also freshly married, and might be ready to move on to another phase of his life.
     
    Houston's as good a place as any to set-up shop, too. Texas has always embraced indie wrestling, and even when Shawn Michaels set up his own wrestling school in San Antonio, and started running shows with his own little promotion, it caught on pretty well. Shawn's school turned out a bunch of excellent talents, many of whom are X Division or ROH regulars.  Booker and Stevie Ray's school might turn out a bit different of a final product, but that's no reason to suspect they won't turn out a few ready-for-prime-time stars in due time...
     
  • Interestingly, Booker and Stevie Ray look like they'll beat this long-simmering WWE Atlanta Developmental Territory into existence. First rumored about 3 months ago, it's still in the talking stages, as WWE tries to figure out who'll be involved, and in what capacities.  Depending on how the wind is blowing, Bill "Hugh Morrus" DeMott, Jody "The Assassin" Hamilton, and Bill Behrens (who fashioned a modestly successful territory in Atlanta called "NWA Wildside") are all supposed to be major players. Behrens is kind of the wild card, since his ties to NWA mean that WWE can't just swoop in and kind of turn his existing territory into one of their own, or something... I don't pretend to understand it (since actually convincing myself that "NWA politics" means jack-shit to anybody who isn't a deluded indie wonk is impossible), but there are apparently a lot of different considerations here.
     
    The newest rumors about the Atlanta territory is that it could start up in April, with a facility located in south suburban Atlanta. Students/prospects would train there with DeMott, but then it'd be up to Hamilton and/or Behrens to act as scouts and to promote shows and get a local TV deal and crap like that.
     
    If it's as thrilling as OVW TV, then this development probably interests about 2% of you... but it's my sworn duty to keep y'all apprised of this stuff as best I can. And even I do like checking out OVW tapes 2 or 3 times per year just to be prepared and know what to expect when a developmental guy gets called up to the bigs...
     
  • Speaking of which, tonight is Chris Masters's debut on RAW. And I've already warned you all to Prepare to be Underwhelmed. Based on the latest additions to his character, he'll try to get some cheap heat with the Rick Rude/Val Venis act, and then Orton his way through an unimpressive in-ring performance (or might not even bother with the in-ring performance tonight, who knows?)
     
    And while we're closing with a bit of quick RAW Preview, OBVIOUSLY the real reason to tune in is NOT WWE's latest contribution to the erectile health of their many fine gay viewers...
     
    It's what Batista decides to do about WrestleMania 21. Will he stay on RAW to face Triple H for the World Title? Or will he jump to SmackDown! where he would be involved in a three-way WWE Title match with JBL and John Cena?
     
    I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention that WWE should pat itself on the back for convincing fans that Batista could reasonably jump to SD!...  although Hooters was the emptiest I've ever seen it for a PPV last night (2/3rds full, tops), the fans filing out were all wondering about whether Batista would jump over, since they did a nice job giving us a Batista/JBL moment, a Cena/JBL moment, and then the Batista/Cena staredown at the end.
     
    But see, here's the thing: I don't think anybody REALLY believes that Batista vs. HHH won't happen. So people are suddenly noticing that WWE's done a nice job laying a foundation for Batista to jump ship, but they are also unable to get away from the notion that all signs point to Batista/HHH, and when I checked e-mail this morning, here's what about 2 dozen people had fantasy booked:
     
    Batista announces tonight on RAW that he wants to fight for BOTH titles at WM21.
     
    Huh. I gotta admit, that'd be the swerve to end all swerves, and if Batista's as big a star in the making as I think he could be, it might even be a decent marketing ploy.
     
    But pragmatically? It's a no-go, people. There were many different sets of details for how you'd do it, but basically what this amounts to is either (a) unifying the titles in a single four-way match (which WWE simply wouldn't do unless they were ready to give up on the brand split, which to the best of my knowledge, they aren't), or (b) asking Batista (who "doesn't get paid by the hour") to wrestle two separate matches and in so doing, drastically reduce the match quality that Batista's able to deliver and also really muddy the storytelling waters on SD! unnecessarily.
     
    Hell, if it happens tonight, I'll put my Mighty Wrestling Mind on it and try to come up with the Road to WM that would work, but just off the top of my head on Monday afternoon: it seems like a really tough thing to book.  Best to let Batista and HHH headline WM21, have as good a 15 or 20 minute match as Batista can, and then let the SD! storylines play themselves out in such a way so as to give John Cena the best possible chance to make good on his push (instead of stacking him behind Batista).  Not that I don't appreciate your creativity and your e-mails folks, but I'm just trying to be the voice of reason...
     
    So basically, what I'm saying is that I fully expect that tonight, Batista will announce his intentions to stay on RAW and go for the World Title. Whether or not he discovers straight away that it was HHH behind the video interruptions and limo attack, I don't know... and if he does, you can always do 6 weeks worth of drama by putting Flair in between the two, not knowing whose side he's on. Lots of ways to maintain some drama and ambiguity, even if Batista does full-on expose Trips tonight.
     
    Beyond that top story, RAW REALLY needs to fricking get its collective ass in gear with regards to WM21 matches. Stuff set up last week, like Shelton/Snitsky and Spaz/Trish, might be good for little mini-arcs, but neither has WrestleMania written on it, and one would have to hope that WWE has SOME kind of compelling plans for the IC and Women's champs at Mania... the tag division is even worse: Tajiri and Regal dispatched their little "mini-arc" dance partners, and don't even have THAT diversion on the horizon, much less a WM-worthy opposing team.
     
    And then you've got all these upper-card guys who just aren't doing anything focused right now: Jericho, Benoit, Orton, Edge... three of them are RAW's best performers, and the other is Orton (who RAW likes to PRETEND is one of their top performers). And in fairness: Orton had his best week in ages last week, and if he can just bring his mic work in line with the ring work he busted out of nowhere against Christian, he's a guy who deserves a high quality WM match.  WWE just needs to get its head out of its ass and tip its hand as to what fans should be getting excited about: even if you "slow burn" stories leading up to Mania, the trick is that they are still matches that you HINT AT to the fans, and THEN you slow burn it to make them want it all the more. WWE has not really shown us anything... they just have a mish-mash of worthy talents not doing anything constructive less than 6 weeks before WM.
     
    Again, this goes back to the foresight/planning/booking-for-Major-Event-aura concept I talked about at the top... there's no excuse for not knowing 80% of the WrestleMania card you want to present by late December, and then reverse engineering the entire Rumble-to-Mania corridor to make the Mania show feel huge and special.  Instead, one gets the impression WWE STILL might not know what they're doing with 80% of the card. And that's sort of annoying to me.  I mean, *should* I get my mouth watering for Benoit vs. Jericho? Or is Jericho gonna keep dicking around with Hassan?  Jesus, guys, sustainable episodic television ain't much harder than having the 3 or 4 good PPV ideas every month, but you sure seem to be having trouble with it at a time of the year when you SHOULD be able to hand over your notes to a monkey with a random match generator, and he'd be able to come up with a reasonably compelling and logical Road to WM.
     
    So we'll see how RAW does tonight... another series of unrelated events of varying quality, and with surprising highlights like last week's show? Or something that finally gets us moved over into the far left lane, cruising at 80mph on the interstate to WrestleMania?
     
    Check out the show tonight to find out for yourself. Or just put yourself in the loving hands of The Me, as I'll deliver the Best Damned RAW Recap In All The Land tomorrow, right here at OO.
     
    See you then, kids....


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
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?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
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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