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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
SD!/Ratings, Bret, Rocky/TNA, Lots
of ECW PPV Stuff, and Tons MORE!
March 18, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

March Madness, baby! There's nothing quite like pretending you're doing something constructive, while secretly spending an entire afternoon doing nothing but re-loading Yahoo's Scoreboard to see how your brackets are doing!
  
I actually had a hell of a day yesterday... I nailed all of the first 8 afternoon games, and then got to soak in a few of the evening games... the early evening games? Got *them* all, too. And then the late evening games? Texas Tech wins. Check. Illinois wins. Check. West Virginia wins. Check... I'm 15-for-15 to start the tourney! And you better believe I was 

loving it. But then they cut to the final game of the night... and FUCK LSU! The one time I ask you bastards to win a game for me, and you're getting blown out. Well there goes my perfect day... right down the shitter, but not until the very final NCAA game of the evening. It started out dandy, but what's the very last memory I have of St. Patrick's Day 2005? Obnoxious, throbbing pain.

So I eventually hit the sack and figure things'll be better in the morning. And what do I get upon resumption of hoops? Charlotte (A-10 newcomer, starting next year) getting beat by NC State. You ASSHOLES! After going 15-for-15 to start, I hit a 2 game losing streak... of course, then I got the next 3 early games right, so I'm back on track as of this early-afternoon writing.

And what the hell, I'm doing nothing more exciting than sitting around, half-keeping-tabs on the second set of afternoon games, so let's say I go ahead and try to half-write-a-column for you, too! No promises of greatness, but that's OK, since not only did I bring greater-than-usual gOOdness on Monday and Tuesday, but you always got the conclusion of Matt's "The Titan Towers" Satire to keep you amusing this weekend, too.

Let's ride:

  • Why not talk a little SD!, since after a night of hoops and pain, I did end up trying to use rasslin' as a soothing balm right before bed. And maybe it was the light cocktailing, or the fact that it was almost 3am before I started watching and I was more than happy to completely FF flat spots like Booker vs. Luther, but I pretty much enjoyed the show.
     
    Whereas RAW had a formula where they kicked ass and kicked ass for the first 80% of the show on Monday, and then kinda stunk, SD! peppered its crap throughout the show. They might even have had a higher percentage crap than RAW, but when it's split up and when you're FF'ing it, it's not so bad.
     
    Just about the only gripe I had with the show was that they just once again have me thinking John Cena is a braindead brat. The dynamic between him and JBL was changed around this week by Teddy Long so that Cena can't touch JBL outside of the context of a wrestling match ("bell to bell" only), or else he'll lose the WM21 title shot... and in a promo, Cena seemed to "get it," and came off almost as smart and savvy as JBL when he didn't take the bait.
     
    But then, the very last image of the show is Cena wielding a chair, unable to decide whether to whack JBL with it (the bell had already rung to end the match) or not. They stretched this idiocy out for a good 2 minutes before Cena decided "not." What an idiot. They oversell on the part of Cole ("Don't do it, John, don't waste your WM title shot!" Don't do it!") only added to the sense that there WAS no drama here. At least, none worth caring about. Nothing had been done to give Cena ANYTHING resembling a compelling counterbalance to his WM21 title shot, in the time between when he was calm and collected in the promo and when he was wielding the chair. So it's hard to get fired up to care about Cena suddenly going bonkers and being willing to lose his WM dream in favor of one chair shot.
     
    It's as simple as this: if you believed Cena would do it, then you believe Cena's an idiot. And if you believed Cena wouldn't do it, then WWE was insulting you with the over-long and over-dramatic sell job. Again: it's like they're so desperate to paint Cena as this intense rebel, but they keep forgetting to give him something believable to intensely rebel against. Steve Austin worked because he had Vince McMahon. John Cena just seems like a petulant brat because we still don't understand exactly who or what it is that has so spectacularly sanding his vagina. Or am I just overthinking this? Is the answer "The Man"? 
     
    An easy fix to the closing two minutes of SD! would have been for Cena to show himself to be smarter than JBL: he had JBL curled up in a ball on the floor... Cena should have threatened with the chair, waited till JBL curled up, and then provided the very finest kind of gesturing (the Broad kind) to show the fans "Hey, I ain't retarded, I'm not gonna hit him. But it's kinda fun to watch him cower like a little girl, isn't it?"... and then as soon as JBL looks up again, have Cena put on his Scary Face again, and shake the chair some more until JBL goes into his curl-up. Repeat it a few times, and then in the end, when Cena finally did the "You Can't See Me" crap to finish the show, it would have seemed like the logical punchline to a little two minute joke that *we* all were in on, but JBL wasn't.
     
    And that, my friends, would have been a much-less-dumb way to end SD!. Or at least, less dumb if the goal is to make Cena seem like something other than Male Spaz. 
     
    The other stuff I skipped because it seemed pointless included: the Booker/Luther match (I stopped for Heidenreich's post-match promo, and I'm sorry I did; it appears as though Heidenreich is now being given his FIFTH life in WWE, with yet another make-over; oy)... the Big Show promo (the sight of fat men in thongs reminded me that maybe this "Incredible Visual" I keep talking about in terms of the Show/Akebono match at WM21 is a little off-the-mark)... and what sure SEEMED like an inordinate amount of filler/fluff (Hogan moments, Austin moments, Playboy hype, WM21 hype, et al).
     
    I think the highlight of the show probably has to go to Kurt Angle vs. Marty Jannetty in the opener... started out a little slow (having Jannetty start the match on offense maybe wouldn't have been the way I'd have gone, cuz (a) it was mostly boring offense like armbars, and (b) it meant he didn't spend those minutes building up sympathy with the crowd, who instead seemed to be at least PARTIALLY pro-Kurt, since they probably didn't understand why he was getting out-wrestled by some old guy), but the final 5-6 minutes were outstanding.
     
    It's safe to say that Jannetty exceeded all reasonable expectations in his one-week return to WWE, but I'm not entirely sure I understand all the chatter I'm hearing from y'all about bringing him back to WWE full-time. The match on Monday worked because it was a one-time deal (Michaels isn't gonna go back to being a full-time tag wrestler at this point), and the match on Thursday was very good and showed Jannetty can still go as a singles... but where would you put him? And how would you make fans continue to care after they realize this isn't a special one-time deal? Because as soon as Jannetty's just "part of the show," he's gonna be outshined by most of the active WWE roster. Ever spot I can think of for Jannetty to fill, there's somebody else on the roster who can fill it better... but we'll see. WWE's made nuttier decisions.
     
    The second best stuff of the night was in the main event match (before the silly post-match drama)... Rey, Eddie, and Cena vs. JBL and the Bashams. Good action, and a finish that (when combined with a mid-show vignette in which Chavo Guerrero showed up and got inside Eddie Guerrero's head) that seems to put us on course for Eddie vs. Rey at WM21. Understated enough that it seems real, but tangible enough that you're still just waiting for Eddie to snap.
     
    Then you had two other segments just a notch below that: the Orton/Taker "contract signing" was kind of a "going through the motions" deal. Orton was just doing what he always does, and seemingly like a toolbox because of it; Taker busted out some of the Spooky (not the Real Spooky, but it also didn't last long enough to go far enough over the top to really be Gay Spooky, either). I would be remiss if I didn't note that Orton brought his promo stumbling home (with a ramble that you could sort of tell what he WANTED to say, but he sure didn't say it in logical English), and then when he opted to slap Taker, he did it in the wussiest way possible.
     
    I swear to you, I giggled to myself and replayed it once or twice. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Orton (the real guy, not the character) is intimidated by the Undertaker (the real guy, not the character), and couldn't bring himself to do the Disrespectful Slap at full power, even if it was "fake." That makes me laugh for reasons related to how it's just so perfectly in line with the idea of have about Randy Orton, the real guy. His little girlfriend Stacy has thrown more convincing slaps. I am not joking. But I guess if nothing else, the unintentionally-wimpy slap and subsequent chickenshit act DOES amount to Orton "showing ass," which as I stated on Wednesday is gonna be an important distinction between THIS Legend Killer and last year's Legend Killer. The old Legend Killer never really got any comeuppance, because they had this idea in their heads of building Orton up to a face turn (so they protected him). The protection is off, now, and Orton needs to be booked as a more standard heel: LOTS of comeuppance. I figure the "JBL Model" might work for him (looking like an ass for 6 weeks at a stretch, then weaseling out the PPV win and celebrating on SD!, and then repeating the process).
     
    The other decent segment: Paul London vs. Billy Kidman. Unbelievably, Cole and Tazz did a nice job trying to explain why this was an important match with backstory, even though it was still kinda flat, since the live crowd didn't care. Also: I get the distinct impression that London vs. Chavo is *off* the WM21 card; London has won the #1 Contender spot, and they just kept on saying he'd get his shot "in the future." No mention of WM21, specifically. Probably so that we can get Booker vs. Motivational Speaker Heidenreich. Allow me: FFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKK~!
     
    So there: kind of my foggy, heavily FF'ed thoughts on last night's SD!. You, of course, cannot make due with just those, so for a much more detailed rundown of what took place, we've got Big Danny T's SmackDown! Recap for you. Enjoy.
     
  • The rating for last night's SD! was a 3.2 broadcast rating (on hours of 3.0 and 3.4). That's actually not so bad, considering that I'm sure that much of WWE's key demographic were keeping an eye on college basketball, that even more of WWE's key demographic were doing some drinking to celebrate the banishment of the snakes from Ireland, and that there might even have been some like me who married the two activities and left wrestling to rot.
     
    So with so many things to distract a primarily young male audience, WWE still scored in the same basic neighborhood as recent weeks. They might be off by a tick or two, but it's certainly nothing to be concerned about. SD! nobly held its own against one of the biggest going-out-holidays of the year AND against one of the more fun sporting events of the year.
     
  • Even as legends like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Steve Austin are being tapped to help cover up some of WWE's deficiencies heading into WM21, there's another interesting story developing...
     
    Bret Hart will be in Los Angeles on WM21 weekend, and has even been publicly announced as making an appearance at Rob Van Dam's comic shop (where many WWE wrestlers are also making appearances all weekend long) on Saturday, April 2.
     
    What's this mean? Probably not much for WM itself. In my mind, if Bret's going to actually make an appearance, you either (a) Hype the Shit Out of It, or (b) Keep It Super-Secret So People Are Surprised. Neither of those two scenarios apply here: fans are already clued into the fact that Hart's gonna be around, but that's a far cry from "hyping the shit out of it."
     
    But:
     
    By the same token, there's no way Bret's gonna be in town and NOT be doing some meet and greets. There are two huge issues on the table: WWE's got a PPV scheduled for Calgary later this year, and WWE's got a Bret Hart DVD scheduled for release within the next year. What better time than the pomp and circumstance of WM Weekend to have a Meeting of the Minds regarding possible future Hart/WWE joint projects.
     
  • Speaking of former mega-stars in odd places, there's this story going around that TNA has approached The Rock, and that the Rock has been receptive.
     
    Which may or may not be bullshit, but I figure I'll go on record right now with my guess that This Will Never Happen.
     
    Two reasons: (1) the second Rock and TNA got serious, WWE would swoop in and correct their error by re-signing Rock to some kind of an agreement that keeps him "in the family." And (2) Rock would cease to be "The Rock" the second he stepped foot in TNA. The agreement he has with WWE to use that name would be null and void before the first eyebrow was raised, I bet.
     
    Without his name and identity -- and more importantly, without the time to establish those things and a really compelling storyline, to boot (since Rock would at most show up for a few weeks and one PPV in between movies) -- I think you'd all be shocked just how little impact (tee hee) Dwayne Johnson would have on TNA's overall health or "cool factor."
     
    Here's why I think this: when Nash and Hall had to ditch Diesel and Razor for their WCW debut, it worked because they were on TV every week for months, building up to the killer nWo storyline, giving them the flexibility to work under their real names. There's no way that, over the course of 3 appearance, Dwayne would be able to accomplish the same thing.
     
    And plus, I can hear (in my brain's ear) how it would go on the night the Rock made a stunning debut in TNA:
     
    Don West: "Oh my god, is it? Can it be? It's really him, Mike!"
    Mike Tenay: "Yes, it is, Don! Who ever thought we'd see this day here in Total Nonstop Action, which is so totally at exactly the same competitive level of WWE, and a worldwide leader in sports entertainment!"
    Don West: "Oh my god, I can't believe it! Is that who I think it is, Mike?"
    Mike Tenay: "Yes, it is, Don! Truly a watershed moment in the history of the greatest wrestling promotion on the planet, TNA!"
    Don West: "My god, can that really be him? It sure looks like him, Mike!"
    Mike Tenay: "Yes, it's him, Don! It's most definitely him."
    Don West: "Oh my god, he has come to TNA!"
    Mike Tenay: "It certainly looks that way, Don! Who knows what the future holds for him here in Total Nonstop Action?"
    CROWD: "Rocky. Rocky. Rocky."
    Don West: "Listen to these fans, Mike. They're going nuts."
    Mike Tenay: "Yeah, but I think they must be confused. They're chanting for his dad. Please don't sue us, WWE."
    -/-  FIN   -/-
     
    And before his first night in the company was even over, fans will realize that it might be Dwayne Johnson in the ring, but it ain't The Rock, and like 90% of guys having to leave successful characters behind when leaving WWE, his value to TNA would be instantly halved. 
     
    I mean, hell, even legends who got to keep their name come to TNA, and it doesn't do the company much good, because the perception is that Randy Savage is slumming it, not that TNA is so totally The Place To Be for the greatest and most relevant active wrestlers in the world.
     
    As is my long-standing position on TNA, they need to overcome the stigma of minor league from the inside out: they need to put out a product that looks and feels at least kinda "cool," which means less NASCAR, less 80s-style lazer light shows, less cheesy music and ring entrances, and less cable-access-caliber backstage production moments (like some of the should-have-been-deemed-unbroadcast-able Hardy/Abyss crap from the last month).
     
    The alternative is to EMBRACE the stigma of minor league, and quit doing this half-assed impersonation of the WWE product. Sadly, TNA would quickly learn what ECW did towards the end: that you can't be intentionally lo-fi (and focused on the in-ring product where you DO kick ass) if you want to be on national TV. You have to at least TRY to do the glitz and sizzle, even if you look kinda foolish doing it.
     
    I half suspect that the only solution to this problem is money. And *not* money to spend on "The Rock" until you spend it fixing some other stuff first, so that when you DO get "The Rock" he's appearing on a show that has an audience and which is at least perceived of as being a part of the same industry as WWE. This means not just addressing the look and feel of the show's production, but establishing minimum requirements in terms of creative and characters, and also (this is the tough one, but I know for a fact that Jeff Jarrett is aggressively pursuing lots of options, including the prime time FSN specials) getting a TV show that is long enough to showcase TNA's in-ring strength (while masking creative deficiencies) and in a competitive timeslot.
     
    Just my two cents...
     
  • While Bret Hart's probably gonna be meeting with WWE in a few weeks, likely to discuss his participation in a new DVD project (among other things), the Destrucitous One Himself, the Ultimate Warrior, has gone public with an announcement that he is *not* co-operating with WWE on their planned upcoming Best of Warrior DVD release.
     
    In a lot of ways, I'm being totally serious when I say that I'm upset by this. Not that I'm necessarily sure that Warrior would have the same kind of perspective on his place in wrestling history that WWE would, or that a lot of fans would, be hearing his own side of things would be the one thing on that DVD that might be genuinely interesting.
     
    As noted last week: save for WM6 and WM7, and that one cool angle with Taker, I'm not sure how many real Warrior Highlights I can remember... which makes me think that having Warrior himself offering some thoughts (or alternate commentary) would be worthwhile as padding. It might be insightful, it might be unintentionally hilarious, it might be a trainwreck, but giving Warrior an outlet to talk about his best WWE moments would almost certainly be worth checking out.
     
    More so than a 30 minute featurette that includes 176 of the Warrior's Greatest "Wrestling Challenge" matches in their entireties, at least.
     
  • Much to my pleasant surprise, WWE has contracted Masato Tanaka for the June ECW One Night Stand PPV... it continues to look like pretty much all really important ECW performers outside of Shane Douglas, Raven, and Jerry Lynn (all due to TNA commitments) will end up being a part of the show in some capacity.
     
    Well, I guess Joey Styles isn't exactly expected to appear, either, so that's a big one, too. Just about the only other big question mark that I don't know about is a name lobbed my way in a few e-mails over the last 10 days: Mike Awesome.
     
    And with the announcement of Tanaka joining the roster, all of a sudden, I'm interested in talking about Awesome, too! Since Tanaka and Awesome had a series of really brutally stiff brawls, probably each had their best ECW matches against each other.
     
    All I can say is that at this point, I don't have any indication that Awesome has been contracted by WWE, but I also think some of you who wrote in might be overstating things if you believe that "bad blood" would keep Awesome from getting invited. Keep in mind: ECW doesn't really exist! And ECW is who Awesome dicked over. Awesome subsequently worked for both WCW and WWE. I don't see anything in his past precluding him from being involved in a WWE-run ECW reunion event...
     
    In fact, in the absence of Douglas or Raven, a guy like Awesome could (five years after the fact) probably still trade in on his ECW walk-out and be the show's biggest heel. At an event where the vibe is gonna be more "respect," "appreciation," and "nostalgia," signing a guy that fans would almost certainly boo (and boo with VIGOR) might be a cool idea.
     
  • One other note about the ECW PPV... just trying to think ahead to how, presentationally, it'll fit into WWE's TV shows. Because I know that the guys being contracted are being contracted with the understanding that they'll have to do some TV work prior to the PPV.
     
    But what I have no clue about is what this means: will "ECW stories" start showing up on both RAW and SD! in May? Will the ECW PPV matches be built up in distinct segments on RAW and SD!? Or on Heat and Velocity? Will the guys already under WWE contract be the only ones who set up these stories with angles/promos/matches, or do the freelance guys get called in?
     
    Or do you just promote it as a reunion show with no angles on RAW/SD! to set it up? Maybe you just have the freelance guys make sure to cut fresh promos and stuff to pepper into RAW and SD! to show fans who all will be at the event?
     
    I'll say this: because it's my instinct that WWE has no desire to really put ECW over by giving it key slots on RAW and SD!, I'm thinking we'll (at most) get vignettes on those shows, and kind of a vague mention of the personalities who'll be a part of "One Night Stand." Here's how I think you can get away with that, though: if you turn the last "Velocity" (the night before the PPV) in an hour of ECW TV, with fresh promos and angles and matches (taped at SD! tapings, I guess) just to kind of establish the atmosphere and maybe part of the line-up. And then you use the pre-PPV Heat as ANOTHER ECW hour-long show, and use it to set up and hype your big matches and to get people to buy the PPV.
     
    Five hours of ECW, all in one weekend, not leaking over too much into RAW and SD!... I think that might be the best way to do it. But we'll see.
     
  • I think that's about all I got today... there's nothing else that'll sufficiently add to your wrestling fandom on my desk here, anyway, and on top of that, the late afternoon round of NCAA games are starting to wrap up (looks like I'm gonna go 4-for-4, baby! back on a 7-game roll!), which means: it's time to start prepping for the evening, and I can just come back at you with additional rasslin' news and views again on Monday.
     
    Enjoy your weekends, and I'll see you then.


  
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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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