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SmackDown!/Ratings, Rock Coverage,
Plus Matt/Lita, WM21, and Lots More...
March 4, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Every year, I think I bludgeon you all over the head with my opinion that October is truly the greatest month of the year, what with the weather cooling down, the baseball playoffs, and the very start of college basketball...
Well, March is like the anti-October, and yet, it has its charms, too. For one, it's about time we go a week without some snow... for two, March USUALLY is the best wrestling month of the year, what with WrestleMania and all. And best of all: not one day after I attended the final UD home game of the season, I open up my Yahoo homepage, and right there at the top 

are baseball scores! What better way to soothe me following the end of a surprisingly good college basketball season than to see the Reds and the Yankees starting up Spring Training games... with at least one of the two certain to still be playing ball when October rolls around.

Of course, before we put a bullet in college hoops there's still a LITTLE bit of business to tend to, even if it shan't be tended to with me in attendance: the one good thing about having six freshman carrying about 60% of the load for your team is that none of them know that they're supposed to lose every game they play in Cincinnati. So with a game at Hated Xavier's house tomorrow and then the A-10 tourney being moved to Cinci this year (boo on that! they will NOT fill up the arena like we did here in Dayton the past two years!), perhaps we'll actually get a win or two...

And here's what passes for wrestling news this weekend, folks:

  • We start with last night's SmackDown!, which I think did a nice job putting a bit more heat on the JBL/Cena match, but which was kind of a wash from every other perspective.
    Much like RAW, added matches for WM21 were introduced in pretty much the laziest, uncreative ways possible: where RAW had an Undertaker magazine cover and Chris Jericho just pulling a six-way ladder match out of his ass, SD! had Funaki pop in for a cameo challenging Big Show to a match on behalf of Akebono and Chavo Guerrero acting "out of character" to shoehorn himself into the Rey/Eddie team as a shit-stirrer. I'm not sure there aren't better ways to have accomplished those things... but at this point, do I really need to re-rant about how WWE's really doing a shoddy job setting up the WM21 line-up?
    But the JBL/Cena feud got a huge boost when JBL interfered and helped Orlando Jordan win the US Title. It's not what I'd have done, as it perpetuates SD!'s biggest problem, which is overpushing and putting titles on guys who fans don't really buy into... but as a function of the overall story being told, it certainly fits, and I probably should have figured out that this was coming weeks ago. [In fact, one of my favorite readers -- who loves writing in and telling me how stupid I am in a rather enthusiastic manner -- DID see it coming, and predicted just such a title change a while back. I still don't LIKE it, but yeah, it fits together...]
    The title change means that there's no headaches involved with a Champion vs. Champion match at Mania, and no need for a tournament if Cena needs to vacate the belt, and all that other stuff... that's kinda too bad, since I thought such a tourney would be the perfect way to re-establish Carlito upon his return from injury, but this way is a little bit less messy, and it certainly adds some sizzle to the JBL/Cena feud. My question: does this mean we can go back to the regular US Title belt?
    Before the title change, they tried to ramp up the JBL/Cena hostilities with a pair of promos that were, at best, pushes. If promo quality is measured purely by length, then both would have been excellent. Sadly, in both cases, I thought there was material that could have been excised that would have made for a stronger pair of segments. In Cena's case, he cut about as good a promo as he has in a long time, but there was still about a third of the thing that he spent pandering to the fans and sounding like the most desperate toolbox of all times, and I think we all know how I hate that, and how I can't believe that the fans haven't turned on Cena for being such a patronizing little wiener. But still: for Cena, better to be one-third pandering and two-thirds quality than the other way around. In JBL's case, I think he just went a little overboard for once: usually his self-aggrandizing promos are spot on, and he knows just how far to go to make his claims of his own greatness seem simultaneously ridiculous AND defensible, if that makes sense. It's a potent cocktail for garnering heat. Last night, I think about a third of his promo was also a bit of a miss, as he went so far over the top that instead of wanting to boo the guy for still holding that damned title, I was mostly just chuckling at how inane some of his claims were.
    I thought the over-long segments drove both guys into a bit of a realm of being cartoonish caricatures, actually: Cena is the guy who talks with the funny "street" accent and wants desperately to convince you that he's "just like us," while JBL is the guy who wears suits and rides in limos and is so much better than us. To me, it'd be better if they left the blatant 80s archetypes (a ham-handed attempt to recreate the "Million Dollar Man" vibe a full decade after fans demanded that the business move past such one-dimensional gimmickry) at the door and ask these guys to be more themselves and less over-the-top... but then again, listening to the fans, it seems they don't mind the bludgeoning about the head: JBL is the rich jerk, and Cena's the regular guy from the streets, and even though neither guy is particularly "real" in those roles (a year ago, JBL was a beer-swilling redneck, and Cena's an upper-middle-class kid from the Boston suburbs), the fans at large have bought into it, anyway. And that's more important than what I think, right?
    The rest of the show: 
    Shawn Michaels' attack on Angle was maybe a bit predictable, but given that Angle has "won" the two main confrontations he's had with HBK, it was necessary for Shawn to get one over on Kurt. Again: not a huge step forward, sizzle-wise. But I guess it beats the hell out of using Teddy Long to play messenger boy.
    The Show/McCool vs. Dupree/Dawn match was a total throw-away, but I thought it was fun. Show was definitely in the zone and enjoying himself, and that chokeslam he hit for the win was monstrous... and Michelle McCool was far from smooth in her debut match, but the sorts of moves she was doing unsmoothly certainly hint at what she'll be capable of once she gets more reps. Maybe for now she stays on SD!, is what I'm thinking; a year of seasoning before being thrown into the Actual Wrestling Mix on RAW will probably be best.
    Booker vs. Heidenreich? Ugh. Are we really gonna have to sit through this match at WM (probably with a no DQ stip?), or is this total re-do of the Shelton/Snitsky story on RAW just going to be blown off next week?
    I enjoyed the Carlito/Teddy bits, too. Carlito plays his role so smoothly and effortlessly, and keeping him on TV this whole time he's been injured has turned out to be a very wise and effective move. For now: it's comedy as Teddy's personal servant... but when the time comes, Carlito will get back in the ring without having lost an ounce of heat. At this point, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if they got away with Carlito staying out of the US Title mix entirely, and instead recycle the Ultimate Warrior/Rick Rude dynamic from 1990: Rude had previous beaten Warrior for the IC belt, and when Warrior won the WWF Title, Rude stepped in as his first major challenger... Carlito could easily play that same card, and after Cena gives JBL his rematch, Carlito could step right in as Cena's summer challenger, and I honestly think it'd go over pretty well with the fans. Definitely something to keep an eye on...
    These are just a few cursory thoughts, obviously... you can get the full details of last night's show in Big Danny T's SmackDown! Recap.
  • The rating for last night's show was a 3.3 broadcast rating. That's up a one-tenth from the week before, but it's still below the pre-holiday average when SD! was pulling 3.5s.
    At this point, RAW is performing a tenth or two above its recent averages, and SD! is performing a tenth or two below.
  • For as "bleh" as the Rock's appearance on Letterman was Monday, he was definitely kicking all kinds of ass in subsequent visits with Jon Stewart and Conan O'Brien.
    On Wednesday's "Daily Show," Rock actually talked some wrestling (mostly because Jon brought up the Iron Sheik), and also cut loose a bit when talking about his NEXT movie ("DOOM," based on the mid-90s videogame). As opposed to the taking-himself-a-bit-too-seriously vibe he had on Letterman, Rock went the other way on the Daily Show when he called "bullshit" on Ben Affleck for not wanting to do any more movies where he shoots guns and stuff. Rock said those are the best kinds of movies, and that he LOVES to "blow shit up." When "DOOM" comes out in August, Rock said it's gonna be unapologetically violent, and it'll be his R-rated movie. As a man who's played a bit of the first DOOM game (and before that, Castle Wolfenstein), I can't imagine them doing it any other way...  could be interesting. Certainly, Jon Stewart's fawning enthusiasm for the movie added to the entetaining dynamic of the interview, too.
    And I just got done watching my recording of last night's Conan, and man alive, *THAT* is the Rock that we know and love. Hilarious. I can't even try to explain it, because it would involve talking about the opening comedy piece (which included this cute bartender who openly mocked any guy who would order an "appletini," which was then turned into a key portion of the Rock's riffing on Conan's homosexual experimentation later on during the actual interview) before even trying to talk about the interview itself, and I don't have the energy. Rock and Conan had me rolling, though, and neither was pulling any punches. Just quality TV.
    You can catch the replay of Conan tonight (Friday) at 7pm on MSNBC (or is it CNBC? I forget)... and it'll also be replayed in MOST markets next Thursday night in SUPER-late night (at either 3am or 4am, depending; or at least, the NBC affiliate in Dayton runs the week-old Conans at 3am most nights, and 4am on nights when they run the week-old Leno first), and it'd be WELL worth setting a tape if you missed it.
  • The one place where you should probably NOT get your fill of the Rock is at the movie theater. Despite mostly positive reviews for the Rock's own bit performance in the film "Be Cool," the movie itself sounds like a bit stinky turd.
    Just checking the Yahoo page for "Be Cool," the blurb from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says "This stunningly-inept movie is an early contender for the worst movie of 2005." Wow. The other reviews on the page from Boston and Chicago are only slightly less-harsh.
    Sounds like a deal where you oughta save your $9.50. And if you simply MUST see the movie, it'll probably be playing at the $2 second-run house in 3 weeks, if it's really as bad as the reviewers say it is...
  • Speaking of movies, I'll briefly mention that I don't think I'm as big a fan of the newest WM21 spoof (the "A Few Good Men" one)... although I, myself, had a bunch of ideas for doing spoofs based on actual WWE storylines/feuds right after they debuted the Eugene Gump one, I found myself second-guessing myself and appreciating how WWE was managing to do the spoofs so cleverly without really breaking down the "fourth wall" (by having guys who "hate each other" work together in the skits).
    Cena and JBL in the "Few Good Men" one violates that little guideline, though... if they'd started out with this vibe, it wouldn't have struck me as odd. But as the first spoof centered firmly on an actual WWE feud, this newest one is a bit anomalous. I still think there were plenty of ideas for spoofs that wouldn't entail WWE referencing actual storylines, and in so doing, making those storylines seem less "real." This was also the first spoof to NOT be played for laughs, which made it anomalous in yet another way. It just didn't feel right for them to have Cena and JBL acting pissed at each other in the context of what's supposed to be a silly movie skit.
    I did have one idea for something that could have been a cool "spoof" that would be played for seriousness and not for laughs: it'd be based on "Shawshank Redemption," with Chris Benoit's 20-year road to the World Title being told in flashback the same way that Andy's escape from prison was told in the movie. I figure you'd have had either Cena or Batista do the voice over, and you end it on the "I hope" line that Red uses at the end of his voiceover in the movie. Since it's not funny, I figure you'd save that one up and debut it last, right before Mania, to sort of lend some gravitas to one of the title matches without actually having the two men in the title feud cooperating on the skit itself.
    Or maybe that'd work no better than the "Few Good Men" one.... Over the last month, I've also had more standard joke-y ideas for "Fight Club" and even "The Princess Bride" which are probably more the vibe WWE should be going for... but I'll save those for filler for another day...
  • The official announcement of the WrestleMania 22 venue came earlier today. There's no going back, now: the Allstate Arena (formerly the Rosemont Horizon) will host its third Mania next year.
    When I mentioned this story last week, I listed the venues that had hosted two Manias, and I inadvertantly left the LA Sports Arena off the list. So there: I've corrected myself.
    It's also worth noting that although the Horizon will join only MSG as a building that has hosted 3 Manias next year, it's actually the Los Angeles metro area that has been the home to the most WMs. In addition to two shows at the LA Sports Arena, there have been two at the Anaheim Pond, and with this year's event at the Staples Center, that makes fully five out of 21 WMs to emanate from southern California.
  • Perhaps Jim Ross' shout-out to Ted DiBiase during a RAW match a few weeks ago was not-so-coincidental...
    Word is that DiBiase has been brought on board to help fill a void on the SD! creative team. From the sounds of things, he'll almost be serving the function of the "Stupid Patrol" that I've often advocated here at OO... he won't necessarily be a hands-on writer, but he will be acting as a balance to the Hollywood writers, making sure that they have some input from an actual Wrestling Mind before they forge ahead with their plans.
    I don't know if much good will come out of this, given how stubborn minded Stephanie McMahon supposedly is... but I know nothing BAD can come of it, so here's to Ted DiBiase getting a few ideas pushed through before he meets the same fate as Paul Heyman!
  • I briefly mentioned this a week ago, and since it continues to be a topic of discussion, I'll just touch on it again here...
    Matt Hardy and Lita have broken off their relationship.
    If your own lives are so devoid of meaning and excitement that you need to stick your nose into the lives of others, Matt very briefly explains the situation on the message board of his official website.
    At this point, the one thing I think fans could reasonably and fairly wonder about is what this might mean for on-air storylines... all signs had pointed to Matt returning to TV and inserting himself into the storyline of the Kane/Lita marriage. But now, that might be too awkward for the parties involved.
    As it stands now, Matt is basically cleared to return to action, but any plans to get him into the mix by WM might be up in the air pending a decision about how this real life development will affect storylines...
  • In addition to TV ads already airing hyping the Undertaker vs. Randy Orton match (on DirecTV), the latest SD! Magazine apparently includes a mention of how Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio will be facing each other at WM21.
    Neither match has yet been set up on TV, which is just inexcusable. Not because there's something wrong with them "leaking" WM matches in ads or publications... but because there's no reason why we shouldn't already have these matches established on TV.
    Seriously: the lead time for producing a TV ad and printing a magazine means that WWE has known about these matches for 4 weeks or more... and yet, it's only been THIS week that they even started HINTING at these matches on TV. It makes no fucking sense. I totally understand that WWE shuffled the Mania line-up from what they'd intended last November, but that's still no excuse for not doing a better job setting up matches once you know what they're gonna be. And 8 weeks of build-up might not be ideal, but it'd have beat the hell out of 4 weeks, which is all that Taker/Orton, Rey/Eddie, and most of the rest of the card are gonna have.
    Oh, and to people who have been writing in telling me that I need to relax about the Taker/Orton match because they think that Orton will lose, and that'll set up his heel turn, and then they'll have the rematch at WM22 (exactly how I laid it out in my past week or two of comments about the match)... well, I guess that'd be OK. But there's still FAR better ways to do Orton's heel turn, ones that wouldn't include pulling this match out of nowhere a month before the biggest PPV of the year. 
  • Speaking of matches that have come out of nowhere: I think you can pretty well ax any hopes of the Jericho Six Pack Ladder Challenge being a cross-brand match... but a few people who wrote in with an alternate way of doing the cross-brand thing (as opposed to the line-up I posited on Wednesday) did get me thinking about which RAW stars could be included and why.
    Lots of folks wrote in saying that what they'd love to see would be a Benoit/Jericho vs. Edge/Christian vs. Dudleys cross-brand match. The legend of TLC lives on, obviously... but that gets messy because of the implications over what's on the line (is it one tag title or the other, and if so, is there implied brand-jumping involved?).
    But it did get me thinking that a very cool thing you could do is make the six-person match for the RAW Titles. Take out the Dudleys and put in Regal and Tajiri, and I think you'd have a sweet-ass match. I'm certainly OK with anything that puts Regal and Benoit in the same ring together, and here, it'd just be a sidebar to an even more action-packed match.
    Of course, there are all kinds of problems with that, all centered on the fact that it's more a demotion for Benoit, Jericho, and Edge to be working in a tag title match... Jericho's announcement really did have the vibe of being "every man for himself," anyway.
    So I'm still assuming that it'll be an IC Title match, with Shelton joining Jericho, Benoit, Edge, and Christian. For the sixth spot? Hassan obviously could fit in given current stories, but isn't exactly the kind of guy who you think would excel in this type of match. Maven and Snitsky have both had recent trouble with Shelton, but again: does either really fit into this type of match? Not really...
    Just thinking out loud: if it's decided that Matt Hardy won't return to play a part in the Kane/Lita storyline, he'd be a PERFECT guy to throw in as #6 here. Just as Edge and Christian both have impeccable TLC resumes, Matt doesn't even really need to be involved in a storyline: he just needs to remind us all what he's done with ladders in the past, and BAM, he fits in.
    I still prefer my OTHER idea for Matt (that he comes back and teams up with Trish against Kane and Spaz at Mania, thus saving us from having to take Spaz seriously as a women's title contender), but if that's not do-able, then this is a great back-up plan.
  • I think that's about all I got today, folks. Enjoy your weekends, and I'll be back in your face no later than Monday... when we'll have an interesting RAW to look at (Flair in a major match... and it's in North Carolina!) and hopefully lots of other stuff to discuss.
    See you then. 

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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