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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW/Ratings, Lots of Hall of Fame News,
Orton Injury Status, and TONS MORE!
March 23, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Just on the off-chance that anybody out there was under the same major misconception I was, let me do a sequel to Monday's pre-ramble... because I was wrong about something, and maybe you're doing the same thing.  
 
Basically, amidst my vitriolic loathing for Jeff Foxworthy, I noted that a guy named Ron White actually came off funny and I had no idea why he was so tight with the redneck crew at this weekend's Comedy Central Roast, because I'd seen some of Foxworthy's shitty skit comedy show and knew he wasn't on there. Turns out, my hatred

of Foxworthy created some massive blindspot in which anytime I hear "Blue Collar" I think of his crap-ass TV series. But in reality, there's ANOTHER "Blue Collar Comedy Show" that preceded it by a few years, and it was just established stand-up comedians (headlined by Foxworthy) going around doing 2 hour shows, and it got turned into TV specials on Comedy Central. And Ron White, in addition to being funny long before latching on to Foxworthy (which is why I did recognize him), was on that stand-up version of "Blue Collar." He smartly avoided having anything to do with the skit-show that shares that same name.

Hilariously, this was one of those strange topics that got me a larger-than-expected volume of e-mail (I sometimes get blind-sided by something I think will go ignored, and this was one of those things), but not a single person defended Foxworthy or much of the other "Blue Collar" crew besides Ron White (well, a couple people said the stand-up specials feature one-and-a-half funny comedians, and White is the one, and the guy that isn't Foxworthy or the dumb-ass cable guy is the "half")... they all kinda knew what I was talking about, even though I, myself, didn't really know what I was talking about.

So anyway: the moral of the story is... next time you're watching Comedy Central and you see an ad for something "Blue Collar," look carefully to see if its the stand-up concert or the skit-show before you dismiss it completely out of hand. I honestly didn't know the difference even existed until Monday. And then, even if it is the stand-up concert, it sounds like you still want to think about dismissing it about 62.5% out of hand, unless you have a pre-existing predilection for bland, flaccid NASCAR/Bible Belt humor.

On with the show:

  • Ah, RAW...
     
    Now see, was it really a horrible show? Of course not. But why do I still have this lingering sense of being vastly annoyed? Because, at this time of year, if you can't come up with a concerted four-week stretch where each successive week makes me NEED to see WrestleMania a little bit more, then you're not doing your job. RAW did not do its job on Monday.
     
    In the recap, I distilled it down to too much talking; specifically, too much talking that consisted of saying things that HAD ALREADY BEEN SAID. But I also tried to make it clear that I wasn't necessarily advocating that you shave 5 minutes from this promo and 6 minutes from this one, and you give us OMG~! WORKRATE~!... the point I really wanted to make is that this close to the biggest show of the year, every minute of every show is precious, and you can't spend it belaboring fairly obvious and uninteresting points.
     
    Which is something that happened in a goodly number of segments on Monday.
     
    It all starts at the top, where I'm increasingly of the opinion that WWE is unaware of exactly what they've got in Dave Batista, and clueless as to why he was made a babyface by the fans, and scared to death to try to do anything especially creative with him since they might fuck it up their good luck.
     
    I'm serious: since the night of the Powerbomb Heard Round the World, has your interest in Batista increased or decreased? Are you more anxious to see him headline WM21, or less anxious? I think maybe WWE would get lucky and most fans would answer those questions with "Neither, it's about the same." But that really is just because of the grassroots nature of Batista's ascension, not because WWE's played their hand particularly well. And then, of the remaining (but sizeable) minority, I bet almost NO ONE is more fired up about Batista now than 4 weeks ago, but a significant number of folks are less enthused.
     
    Here's some reasons why...
     
    (1) Batista has yet to cut a single meaningful promo about how he got to this position. He has, in fact, only been handed the mic one time, and on that night, WWE displayed no confidence in the Big Man, putting him in the ring with Jim Ross as a mic-stand/teleprompter... but with Jim Ross holding his hand, Batista was led down a path that dead-ended into predictable, unnecessary drivel.  Instead of telling us his story, the story that has been so damned enthralling since last September and October, but which has never been spelled out clearly on WWE TV (instead, it's been the underpinning of more than a few very effective OO Recaps and PPV Previews, where *we* tell WWE's stories better than they do), Batista is asked rhetorical questions that require him to put HHH over (since we can't have somebody go on TV WITHOUT fellating the Game), and then use that for the even more predictable "But as good as he is, I'm even better" spiel. Wheee. We've only heard that a billion times before, and meantime, a chance for Batista to tell his side of things, a chance for him to evolve as a complete character, a chance for him to showcase his own cerebralness is passed over in favor of the stultifyingly dull telling, re-telling, and re-re-telling of HHH's side. And Batista is stuck as a virtual mute, whose main job is apparently to be the delivery system for shitty Used Car Salesman Jokes.
     
    (2) Batista has yet to deliver the goods in a main event caliber match on RAW, despite being slotted into several main event matches. Fans WANT Batista to be The Man; but the fans of today also want to know that Batista can deliver them the kind of satisfaction that makes 3 hours and $35 seem like a good investment. This has not yet happened, and if anything, WWE has willfully put Batista into match situations in which he'd look bad. Against Snitsky? A sloppy snoozefest? And against Kane? A bit more sizzle in the second half, but putting Batista in the ring with another babyface, without FIRST doing a mini-story to make Kane semi-heelish? It doesn't get much more retarded than that... you're trying to create a new superhero, and so you ask fans to choose between the new guy and a guy they already like? It makes my brain hurt. Batista's in-ring appeal, right now, is limited to stand-up and cheer moments when he hits the spinebuster, does the Thumbs Down, and then hits a Powerbomb. Which is good for the final few minutes of a match... but what happens the other 20 minutes at WM21? We KNOW Batista's capable of better, cuz we've seen it (against Benoit about 10 weeks ago), but we sure as hell haven't been reminded of it at any point since his official face turn.
     
    (3) Batista and Triple H have both appeared FAR too invulnerable. Now, I flat-out refuse to go overboard here and suggest that Batista's superman push is a bad thing, and that he should have been left in a pool of his own blood by now, or anything... there's a time and a place for everything: and NOW is the time and place for making sure Batista is a convincing bad-ass, and once that's done, at some point this summer or beyond, THEN you can pull the trigger on something dramatic. But as I say that, I also think that this mindless "Goldberg-esque" approach by WWE is the purest cowardice on their part. Batista doesn't need to be HHH's bitch, but he does need chinks in the armor, he needs some tiny flaw that we might believe HHH could exploit at WM. By the same token, what better way to make HHH seem vulnerable than to have Batista match him at mind-games: it doesn't have to be physical dominance, HHH doesn't have to show that much ass, but going back to (1) have Batista explain how he outsmarted the Game, having Batista be one step ahead of some of HHH plots... that's the kind of thing that would just add some drama here. Instead of two boringly flawless caricatures going into battle at WM21, you have two complete individuals, both very compelling and convincing, but both with just enough imperfection that the other man could exploit it. Does that make sense? 
     
    To my way of thinking, the VERY simple way to have done this would have been not completely fucking up and pissing away the "Pick Your Poison" concept. Both buys survived the other's poison, WHEEEEE... and now, we'll not remember a thing that happened in either of those matches come next Monday. But what if both guys LOST the "Pick Your Poison" matches... not lose cleanly, but lose none-the-less. Benoit can beat HHH, and Batista's wisdom is mighty for picking HHH's one unbeatable foe; and then Kane can beat Batista, with the help of lumberjacks and HHH, and HHH's evil suddenly trumps Batista's bad-assery for once.  Hell, a week ago, they set the stage for Batista's knee to be a target, but this week? Nothing... how awesome and how simple would it have been for the match to end with lumberjacks destroying Batista's knee, Kane somehow stealing the win, and then HHH and Flair gloating while Batista hobbled up to one leg? If HHH had lost the week before, not only would the tension between Batista and HHH increase, but you've got the chink in Batista's armor with the dinged up knee, and best of all, you don't completely fucking bury the rest of the roster, and Benoit/Kane both have post-Mania options that don't include them being ignominiously jobbed out to the two top level guys.
     
    Anyway, I begin to ramble, and really, my point is that the main Batista/HHH storyline on this week's RAW violated pretty much each of these three simple rules. Batista didn't get to speak, but HHH did. Again. And he took FOR-FUCKING-EVER. And then, just because we aren't already bored with the same one-sided version of the story, he sat down again for commentary in the main event. Whoever made that time management decision really should be eyeball-punched: shave HHH's promo by 10 minutes, keep the meat, lose the fluff, and then he can repeat himself ad nauseum during the commentary appearance. Simple. And it would have left me lots less prone to zoning out during all the talky-talk.
     
    Net effect: I am LESS excited about HHH vs. Batista after this week's RAW than I was before it.
     
    RAW's second level WM feud involves six men, and four of them were involved in Monday's biggest highlight: a very taut tag match that didn't dawdle for even a second. But only because it was only budgeted at about 8 minutes and couldn't afford to. They're doing a nice job trading the pinfall wins in this feud among a few guys to create some balance, and Edge getting one back on Shelton continued that. I think the only two guys to NOT get any wins in this stretch are Jericho and Christian. D'oh. In any case, a very good match, with a "mathematically correct" choice of a finish, and then a post-match bit that had the effect of reminding us Chris Benoit is still alive (and then later reminding us that he's easily capable of making the Lovely Miss Tomko his bitch in about 2 minutes flat). This was good TV, but it was so time-condensed that it's hard to really get enthused over it.
     
    Net effect: I am at the SAME LEVEL of excitement for the Six Man Ladder Match as I was the week before.
     
    RAW's third WM21 match? The ladies. I think I said enough about this on Monday (where I revealed that I *knew* WWE was gonna do the stupid thing, and outlined a RIGHT way to handle things) and in the Recap (where WWE and Spaz lived down to my expectations. Bottom line: WWE insults our intelligence when Spaz goes out there in credibility-killing frilly pink underthings, performs a grand total of one (1) maneuver that looks halfway convincing, and manages to pin Molly Holly. Far better to play to Spaz's strengths as a plucky underdog, and to the fans' suspicions that Trish has her totally outwomaned. Fans could BELIEVE in that, and when Spaz shocks us all with a quality outing at Mania, it'd MAKE her in one night. I don't think a single fan really BELIEVES that Spaz is Trish's equal and Molly's superior inside a wrestling ring, and that just takes this feud down a notch.
     
    Net effect: I am LESS excited for Trish vs. Spaz than I was one week ago.
     
    Then there's the two cross-brand matches that got varying levels of attention. First, Shawn Michaels effortlessly breezed through a highly amusing match against Robert Conway, and reminded us why he's so good. Then Kurt Angle had a video package played that reminded us why HE is so good. Nothing fancy, kinda lazy, but...
     
    Net effect: I am at the SAME LEVEL of excitement for HBK/Angle as I was a week ago.
     
    But then there's Randy Orton vs. Undertaker, where he got an allegedly Major Angle on Orton's side of things. Once again showing a fundamental lack of a handle on Fan Psychology, WWE had Orton RKO his girlfriend, Stacy, even though their in-ring make-out session was practically a license to print cheap heat for weeks and months to come. Instead, Orton gets the cheap heat of beating up a frail waif of a girl, which is a one-time deal and a decidedly non-renewable resource. The story here was also quite silly and insulting: this was a "message" to the Undertaker, that if Orton will do that to his own girlfriend, he's clearly capable of.... umm.... beating up Taker's wife, I guess. Because no matter what the dumdums on creative think, this in no way logically connotes that Orton is any more capable or intimidating as a wrestler. The correct sell of this would have been JR ignoring the voice in his headset and just calling Orton a goddamned coward and a punk who doesn't respect anybody, and the correct sell on Orton's side would have just been laughing dismissively at his action, instead of honestly trying to make it look like he made a great sacrifice in the name of "sending a message." Not only should they have not done it at all (if they wanted a genuinely fresh and unique way for Orton's heel character to get over), but once they did it, they presented it ALL wrong.
     
    Net effect: I am EVEN LESS excited about Orton/Taker now than I was a week ago. And given how little I already cared, that's saying something.
     
    So there you have it: a RAW that was tolerable enough a way to spend 90 minutes of time... it didn't suck out loud. But this is not the time of year to be misstepping like this, and whiffing on available opportunities to greatly enhance the entertainment value of the show while also goosing the crowd's enthusiasm for WrestleMania.
     
    I consider it a "loss" of a night when of five WM matches addressed, 2 managed to be pick-'ems, but 3 actually LOST interest for me. That's not good.  You can get the actual segment-by-segment details from Monday's show, along with a handful of editorial thoughts and plenty of snarky observations, in yesterday's OO RAW Recap.
     
  • For whatever it's worth, the rating for Monday's show was a 3.9 cable rating, actually up a tick from the week before. So even though I started to zone out on some of the over-long and laborious promos and skits, it seems like the audience at large was willing to sit through things and enjoy the show through to the end.
     
    So in our on-going battle of wits, I guess this is one where WWE can fire back with, "See, what do YOU know, Scaia?"... but that's OK. I'll get 'em back soon enough.
     
  • WWE has announced the rest of the "inductors" for the Hall of Fame ceremony.
     
    In addition to Sly Stallone inducting Hulk Hogan, we'll have: Steve Austin inducting Roddy Piper... Bobby Heenan inducting Paul Orndorff... Sgt. Slaughter inducting the Iron Sheik... Jerry Lawler inducting Jimmy Hart... Jim Ross inducting Nikolai Volkoff... and Randy Orton inducting Bob Orton.
     
    I made my stance on Stallone clear on Monday, but of the other inductors, they all make pretty decent sense. Except maybe for Jim Ross and Nikolai Volkoff... I'm thinking maybe that's where Freddie Blassie would have stepped in were he still with us?
     
    The Austin/Piper pairing is also not exactly intuitive, but it does set them up for the next night's Piper's Pit, so that could be interesting... the Piper induction is one that (along with Hogan) I'm hearing should appear on TV in the Velocity timeslot, so I really don't think they'd pass up the chance to do SOMEthing. The key will be to keep it "real" and tasteful, since Piper does deserve the honor, and they shouldn't take too much away from that moment.
     
    This is in DIRECT OPPOSITION to Bob Orton's induction. I'm too lazy to dig up the link, but on the first day after HoF announcements were made, I declared that we'd be seeing Randy Orton RKO his dad at the ceremony. This belief of mine is only enhanced after the dumb-ass way they presented the RKO of Stacy... and since, of these guys, Orton's the one who I honestly don't see fitting into the HoF mold, kinda making a little bit of an angle out of his induction wouldn't piss me off one bit. He'll still get his plaque, now matter how deserved or undeserved it might be, so let's put him to use at the ceremony in some capacity, right? I'm POSITIVE we'll see the RKO to Dad, and after Monday, I'm positive that WWE will again whiff on doing it the right way: Orton will act all serious and conflicted after he does it, somehow under the misapprehension that he's "sending a message" to Taker... when the Legend Killer gimmick is about DISRESPECT. Orton of a year ago didn't think that beating up the Fabulous Moolah made him a bigger bad-ass, it was just something that a cocksmoker does, so he did it. It just came naturally. All this "message-sending" is retarded. Orton should RKO his dad and LAUGH about it, should cut a promo where he says that his dad is a JOKE, where he says that he's already held the World Title at age 24, something his dad NEVER did. And he should never once act like he's a bad-ass for RKO'ing Bob; he should act like it was nothing to him. 
     
    Does that make sense? Do you get the distinction I'm trying to make here between Useful Randy Orton, and Randy Orton who just makes my brain ooze out my ears? Either way, he's pretty much the same flamboyantly mediocre performer, but a mediocre performer with strong material can be a very useful thing... in this case, playing to Orton's strengths as an unlikable douche and making sure his character and motivations have some sense of internal logic from week to week are all it would take for Orton to be a very useful character.
     
    And plus: 5 minutes to RKO dad, and then 55 minutes for Piper and Hogan inductions? I think that's a nice hour of TV right there...
     
  • Apparently I misspoke last week when I belittled the nature of Randy Orton's lingering shoulder injury... the removal of Orton from RAW house show line-ups was read by ME as a surefire sign Orton would be traded over to SD!. For whatever it's worth, this is still what needs to happen, in my opinion...
     
    But now, the indications are that this isn't just some pussy-ass tweak that Orton's sitting out with... he's gonna need some shelf time eventually, and though his status won't be fully assessed until after he makes it through the WM match with Taker, the expectation is now that he'll require surgery and an absence on the order of months, not weeks.
     
    I may have serious issues with WWE's handling of Orton's character, and I may be more convinced with every passing week that Orton's not the kind of guy I'd be going out and drinking beers with, but I don't wish ill upon him. Well, not MUCH ill. Last year when he had his tonsils out around WM time and couldn't speak for 3 weeks? That was pretty fricking sweet!
     
    But it looks like the WrestleMania Ailment of the Year this time around might end up being a bit more serious. We'll keep tabs on this and how WWE might decide to play things at Mania and in the subsequent Draft Lottery as a result of Orton's likely absence....
     
  • Shannon Moore was in a serious car wreck over the weekend, and had a head-on collision with a drunk driver. Although the drunk driver was behind the wheel of a large truck, Moore was driving a Hummer (please, keep your "Suck Era" Nitro jokes to yourself), and managed to escape the Saturday night wreck in surprisingly good shape.
     
    For the record: Moore was off the road this week, and the accident took place in his home state of North Carolina, I gather. A lot of people wrote in, saying that they heard about this, and this must be why SD! held that six-man house show on Sunday (the accident fouled up traffic, or some such), but that's not the case...
     
    Shannon is expected to recover fully and be cleared for action within a month. 
     
  • Somebody who must have either a cruel sense of humor or absolutely NO clue what OO is all about made sure I was on the distribution list of a press release about an upcoming Trish Stratus appearance...
     
    For TAG Brand Body Spray.
     
    BWHAHAHAHA~!
     
    I'll mention it, but only so I can make fun of it. The press release notes that this is the kick-off of a new campaign that will utilize "TAG Teams" (see, that's why they got a wrestler!) to create awareness of their product at clubs. It boils down to: the company is hiring models to go to clubs and pretend to be attracted to socially awkward guys who are also dumb enough to believe that their only shortcoming in life is not wearing perfume, and that they will get worthwhile girls if only they'd wear the perfume conveniently being promoted by these girls who will never see or talk to them again as long as they live.
     
    It's an INGENIOUS plan, as long as you're willing to limit your market to retarded, cheeseball, losers who hang out in dance clubs. Christ, how's about we limit the girls-pretending-to-care-about-you scam to the handing out of free drinks? For only then shall I pretend to care about them, and I'll even pretend to remember whatever the brand of crap flavored vodka it was I just tried!
     
    Trish is only a part of the launch for this insipid marketing campaign for an even more insipid product. But I'm still dying just a little bit inside that she'd stoop to this for an easy pay-day. Doesn't Trish know that perfume is for girls and metrosexual tossers, cologne is for old married men, and normal well-adjusted guys just tend to take showers and wear deodorant? And this so soon after I was confused and hurt inside by the revelation that Molly's love affair with Jesus would probably preclude her from ever encouraging the advances of certain foul-mouthed, hard-rocking, whiskey-swilling internet personalities? To where will I direct my mighty Grown Man Crushes now?
     
    Note to TAG, or to whatever dumbasses came up with this marketing campaign and then also thought to put me on the mailing list: keep it up. I'd love to hear about all your latest developments. Because everybody loves to laugh. And also: hands of Trish, dammit! You can have Stacy, she's more what you're looking for, anyway...
     
  • Whew: call off the attack dogs. Warlord is not coming in to do any angle with Chris Masters, regardless of what my overactive imagination came up with on Monday. Instead, he's just been hanging around WWE events this week doing some interviews, apparently for the upcoming Road Warriors DVD release.
     
    Sorry to get you worried, there...
     
  • And speaking of the Road Warriors, Animal was also at tapings this week, getting a try-out as an announcer. Let's just say that he's never held a similar position before, and his brother is a major WWE power broker, and leave it at that...
     
    But he can't possibly be any worse than Lawler.
     
  • Also at TV tapings this week: Vince McMahon. He returned to the road at least a few weeks ahead of schedule, but apparently does not want to be absent from the final push to WM21. He might go away again for a bit following WM, as everybody knows he's really pushing himself to the limit to make events at this point of his rehab... but he'll also be at at least the next two weeks of TV.
     
  • Last thing today: if you're a night owl, you might want to check Conan tonight. In what could either be very funny or be a total trainwreck, he's having both the Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young on as guests (in fact, I just flashed back and remembered that during that appearance, they invited Leno to attend WM21, and he accepted; I wonder if there's anything going on with that). 
     
    Actually, I suspect that if there was anything going on with Leno, we'd have heard about it at this point; but as it stands, right now, there aren't even any WWE-affiliated guests scheduled for Leno's show the week before Mania, so I'm guessing they aren't exactly plotting anything huge. [Actually, the full court publicity press seems to be coming up a bit short this year: in the week before Mania, I think only Steve Austin -- on the Late Late Show -- and Big Show -- also on Conan -- are gonna be carted out for the talk show circuit.]
     
    But back to Moolah and Mae... they'll be promoting the same documentary they were when they were on Leno a while back, but you know they'll also be there to hype WrestleMania. Depending on what direction Conan goes, and depending on what kind of mood the ladies are in, this could get interesting.
     
    The show also repeats on Thursday night at a more reasonable hour (7pm eastern) on either CNBC or MSNBC (I forget which, but you can figure it out, if you need to).
     
  • That's all I got today, folks. Jeb's dusted himself off after a winter hibernation, and will have a little something for you on Friday! Which means that I may or many not be back at you with a fresh column, but that you'll be in good hands no matter what. I'm not a religious man, but I do worship the Easter Ham, so unless I come up with something REALLY worthwhile to talk about, I might be in hardcore pork preparations on Friday and take the day off.
     
    So see you when I see you, folks! Monday at the latest....


  
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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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