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SD! Thoughts/Ratings, Warrior, Rhyno,
Orton, Joint Taping News, and MORE!
April 8, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Holy crap! I don't want to jinx anything, but guess who's the last undefeated team in baseball: the Cincinnati Reds!  
And they did it by beating the high-priced, re-tooled New York Mets (including everybody's favorite whiny little bitch, Pedro Martinez, on Monday). I don't think anybody questioned that the Reds would have the bats, but it's nice that we've gotten some solid starting pitching out of a staff that is essentially made up of five guys who would be #3/#4 

starters on good teams. Out of that logjam of mediocrity, all we really need is for one guy to step up and say, "Hey, I'll be a stud this year," and good things *could* happen. A guaranteed (well, not quite, but you know what I mean) win every five days, and then having our offense step up so we can split the other four?  I'd settle for that...

And I'm sure on this, the first really gorgeous weather weekend of the year, you'd all settle for me NOT regaling you with how I can now spend it on the porch listening to baseball so that I can get to the wrestling. Fine, you ungrateful whelps:

  • Last night's SmackDown! was a show that did things about 80% smarter than RAW did, on a purely theoretical level. They made the show revolve around John Cena, and gave the impression that something fresh has happened to SD!.
    Now, in execution, that "something fresh" is something I could pretty much do without, and I think WWE is making a major miscalculation with how they continue to promote Cena... but hey, plus 10 points for having the right idea, at least.
    Specifically what I've got against Cena is that his promo showcased the creative teams misplaced over-confidence that they've created a character that is really cool. They haven't. 
    Cena's speech in which he promised a blinged-out WWE Title belt next week had the tone of "Hey, you traditionalists are all stuffed shirts like JBL and you can bite me, because I'm cool and all the cool kids are gonna LOVE it when I disgrace another title belt." But WWE COMPLETELY misses the boat. This isn't about "traditionalists" versus "cool." Just because I know a lot of wrestling history and am about half-a-decade outside of WWE's real target demo doesn't mean I'm old and uncool. Hell, Cena himself underscored that "traditionalism" isn't bad when he started rattling off 80s WWE jobbers, and reminded everybody that *he* is also a few years old than most of WWE's target demo, too.
    WWE needs to quit threatening its audience like this, because it WILL backfire. You don't send a cheesy caricature like John Cena out to the ring to tell me what I must find "cool." We, the fans, will tell YOU what we want. And you can do with that request what you please.
    Bottom line, what John Cena is doing is not "cool." It's "hip." I think I've riffed on this before, right? "Cool" is the thing that is always in style, it's why there are some bands and some movies that you can go back, and even if they're 10, 20, 40 years old, they still make new fans today. "Hip" is the thing that is in style today, and when you look back at it in 10, 20, 40 years, you laugh and wonder why the hell people ever dressed/acted/talked like that, and the only time it gets resurrected is so it can be roundly mocked in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. I embrace "cool," I loathe "hip." And I know that there ARE others like me, even if there are also a lot of insecure morons in the world who lack the confidence to be themselves and have to wrap themselves up in any distracting packaging to make themselves feel like they aren't losers. Which, as it turns out, makes them the biggest losers of all! At least, to a unique asshole such as myself.
    John Cena is using every lame-ass affectation he can to try to seem "hip." And making things worse: he's doing it so aggressively and ladling on so many of the fake character traits that he really does limit himself to a niche audience of hardcore hip-hop/rap fans. This is NOT a large percentage of the American populace; most of us, or so I gather from going out and talking to people, often like little bits of rap and hip-hop that we come across, but think that much of the subculture it has spawned is retarded as hell.
    As a counter-point: Eddie Guerrero, despite being a Latino who has adopted some Latino affectations, never became a caricature, never stopped caring about being accessible to the majority audience just so he could appeal to some key pockets of fans in California and Texas. Eddie Guerrero is a wrestler first (one who lies, cheats, and steals) and a guy who drives a low-rider with furry dice to the ring second. Right now, John Cena is... well, whatever the hell he is (a wigger? dare I use the "w" word?) first, and a wrestler second. And given the caliber of his most recent matches, maybe he's only a wrestler third or fourth...
    Look, I'm not saying you can't keep Cena as the "hip hop wrestler." But I am saying that promos like last night's, where Cena basically said, "I'm the coolest guy in the world, and if you don't love what I do, then *you* are the one with a problem," are gonna end up biting WWE on the ass. They obviously have felt a bit of the heat (be it from live fans not reacting strongly to Cena, or from jackoffs like me theorizing on the internet), otherwise they wouldn't have felt the need to have Cena even address the issue... and if the issue is real, and if WWE keeps ignoring it or trying to SHAME us into liking Cena if we want to feel like we're cool, then WWE might end up polarizing its audience without meaning to. I'm talking a deal where Cena is absolutely loved by half the audience and loathed by the other half. And I don't know whether a personality like that has any value.
    Of course, after Cena (speaking on behalf of the front office) told us we had, by god, better find him cool, then he shifted gears by the end and was in pure pandering mode. Christ, talk like a normal person, thank your fans like a normal person, but I just can't fathom how I'm supposed to like a guy who has to fucking BEG for cheers like Cena does with his bogus, cheesy "chain gang" talk. At least Hogan didn't start cutting inclusive promos about all his Hulkamaniacs until he was already an established mega-star... Cena trying to pull the same act without any of the track record? It's so needy and lame.
    Another thing I didn't like about the promo: instead of masking what a clusterfuck the WM21 title match was, Cena underscored how cheaply and easily he beat JBL, and then went on to list all of JBL's other title defenses, as if to indicate that his ability to pin JBL clean in 10 minutes instantly made him better than Eddie Guerrero, Big Show, Undertaker, Booker T, et al. I never thought I'd say that anything would be "unfair to JBL," but that promo definitely was, and for an encore, it was unfair to each and every one of JBL's challengers who had AT LEAST as big a part in turning JBL into a semi-legitimate champ by the end. But again: I might not "buy" Cena, but I guess WWE gets point for at least carting him out there for a big promo where he could flap his gums and convince us this is the start of something fresh on SD!... if Batista had gotten this shot on RAW, I have a feeling he'd have scored more points with me than Cena did.
    I'm still trying to decide if I like the six-man "contender series" idea... we just did the SD! #1 contender tourney 2 months ago, and part of me almost WANTS to see just the logical continuation of the JBL/Cena feud, since those two had, by christ, better deliver a better match than they had at WM21 at some point in the future. Kind of a "make good." [And don't give me the line of BS about them having to cut the match short after WM had run long; anybody who watched RAW on Monday got a crash course in how you adjust the early pacing of a match if you only have 10-12 minutes, and how you can still have a satisfying contest in the end. Instead, JBL/Cena had zero heat until the F-U, and I think that was more just a pop of surprise, like "Oh shit, is that really it?"... because Cena's preceeding comeback sure as hell had fans sitting on their hands.]
    It's pretty clear that this should come down to JBL or Angle, and not just because they are the heels (although, given Cena's tenuous spot as a niche act, they'd sure as hell BETTER make sure to give him heels to work against)... Eddie and Rey are obviously gonna be married to each other here for the near term. Booker is... well, not exactly a compelling choice given the big fat wad of nothing he's done the last 3 months. And Big Show? I'm not sure; I'd like to see Show get something important to do, but I don't want him to turn heel to do it.
    And if it's gonna be JBL and Angle, I almost suspect it'll be Angle who gets the nod. Because if JBL was gonna get the rematch, they wouldn't be bothering with this gimmick. I also wouldn't be totally surprised to see JBL end up over on RAW, soon, given the sizzle of his little interactions with HHH. And Angle vs. Cena? Well, that's the best Cena match (at No Way Out) we've seen in the last 8 months, so why not? Kurt says he's feeling great, and if that means a return to the main event, you know I am not gonna complain. Hell, just Angle's mic work in such a potential feud would be outstanding (as witnessed by his gentle mocking of Cena last night, which I would note was NOT met by 100% boos).
    Some other thoughts about the show: the JBL/Rey main event made me feel like the REAL "feel good" story they should have done was waiting until Rey could beat JBL for the WWE Title; THAT would have gone over great with EVERYbody, not just some niche, and the match would have been tons better....  Paul London hit a gusher, and it seems like he will indeed be facing competition from both Chavo and Billy Kidman in the near future, which is OK; also, Chavo and Kidman had matching purple tights, so is there any chance we can get those two a match against Eddie and Rey as the tag champs continue to implode?... "Carlito's Cabana?" I like it, and all of a sudden, the lame-ass anticlimax to Piper's Pit on Sunday makes a TON more sense...  I feel bad for Luther Reigns; at the exact same time that he's starting to show some personality, he's turned into SD! designated job boy... I also feel bad for any SD! diva NOT named Torrie Wilson; any bikini contest they will EVER run on that show will be a foregone conclusion, and there's something that really bugs me about Michelle McCool getting booed for looking hot, just because she hasn't been naked in Playboy; actually, perhaps a new rule: All Future Playboy Appearances MUST be Made by SD! Divas, so that Torrie can finally have some competition when they do this TV-PG T&A bits...
    You can get the full details from all of SD!'s matches and happening in Big Danny T's SD! Recap.
  • The rating for last night's SD! was a 3.3, which represents absolutely no gain from recent averages. Unlike RAW, which gained a full half-point, and did it against super-stiff competition from the NCAA Finals.
    Evidence that any casual curiosity from fans who didn't see WM21 but wanted to know what happened was sated by RAW? Or that only the events of the RAW half of the PPV were deemed interesting and worth following-up? I dunno, but the John Cena Era is off and running at the exact same levels as the JBL Era...
  • There is a ton of disinformation going around out there about Rhyno... apparently, some have reported that he's been fired/released. That is not the case.
    He is, however, in a bit of hot water after an incident at a hotel over WM weekend in which he got into an argument with his wife in the lobby and wound up (supposedly) breaking some furniture, or something. Details are hazy.
    Rhyno did not appear on the RAW/Heat tapings the next night, and I believe is also absent from the current RAW tour of Australia, as WWE assesses his situation. Not to make light of this, but hey, Rhyno's been working hurt, some rest probably won't kill him. 
    My take is that if Rhyno's released, it won't be because of this incident. Just look at the transgressions committed by others on the roster, be it girlfriend-stealing or wife-beating or mile-high-club-inviting. If Rhyno's released, it's because WWE had already deemed Rhyno expendable, and they'll use this as the excuse to pull the trigger. And given where Rhyno's been working (Heat and dark matches), this wouldn't totally shock me.
    Then again: the ECW PPV is coming up in June, and WWE'd be crazy to not want Rhyno on the card. Unless there's LOTS more to this story than I'm hearing, it really doesn't sound like a super-huge deal (at least, not compared to other transgressions, and the mere fact that this is fricking RHYNO, and not a big star means there will be ZERO bad press), and I'd have to imagine Rhyno's kept around at least through the ECW PPV.
  • Speaking of the ECW PPV, materials circulating to cable companies has the official title as "WWE presents ECW One Night Stand." Meh... they just HAD to put the WWE name on it, didn't they? No big deal though... we all knew who was writing the checks, didn't we?
    Also, there will be an ECW Magazine issued in May that will be a primary means for promoting the show and the matches that will appear. My understanding is that there will very limited (at most) ECW content on WWE's RAW/SD! brand shows leading into the PPV (maybe just pre-recorded stuff), and they'll be banking heavily on fans being already-familiar with key ECW personalities and feuds when they present the show. Which is probably a fair assumption.
  • Another guy you can lock in for the ECW PPV is Super Crazy, who apparently inked his WWE deal earlier this week. Not exactly a surprise, as it's been damn near 5 months since we started hearing about WWE wanting to bring him in as a cruiser on SD!... it was mostly just a case of Super Crazy wanting to be healthy before starting with WWE, so he could debut with a bang.
    Also: Super Crazy may now be joined by other luchadors or Latino talent, kind of as a sub-brand on SD!... when WWE gets its show on Telemundo starting in the fall, it'll be almost a completely separate roster of stars familiar to the Latino audience, and working more of the lucha style. How long ago was it that "Los Super Astros" got cancelled? I'm assuming that's kind of the deal WWE will be trying to re-create... and I gather Super Crazy's just the start, and that as many as another half-dozen luchadors could forge some kind of relationship with WWE (as they might only work the one night of tapings per week, but almost might become regular full-time cruiserweights; that part was not made clear to me).
  • While I'm thinking of it... another aspect of the new WWE TV deal is the Saturday Night late night specials, most likely to be the return of Saturday Night's Main Event.
    Now, I talked about ways to make those shows special on Wednesday, and one idea I tossed out there was making it a more "hardcore" show, even if not an ECW event in name, then in spirit. More gimmickry, more T&A, etc...
    But another idea I had last night: they could also go another route and have it lean more towards comedy and camp... still do wrestling, but you remember how all those original SNME's had "themes" (like the beach theme, or the zoo theme, or the western theme)? You could do some skits and stuff along the way and just make it be a lighter, more laid back show based more on talking and laughs than on action. Not quite the old "TNT" show, but maybe tending towards it... as an off-week replacement for SNL, this would be the one forum in which I WOULDN'T mind WWE's idiot sitcom writers getting a chance to shine. They might even come up with some fun gimmicks that could then carry over to RAW and SD!....
  • Speaking of idiot writers: WWE has lost one of their bigger ones. Remember how I started making serious fun of old "WKRP" writers who created shows with titles like "Galidor: Defender of the Realm" or whatever? Well, that was all one guy who got hired back last fall to be Steph's right-hand man and second in command, I just couldn't comprehend what part of his resume qualified him for the job.
    Not shockingly, six months later, WWE has arrived at the same conclusion I arrived at in a snap, and Tom Chehak and WWE are parting ways. This comes not long after WWE's attempt to hire a soap opera writer ended with her not fitting in well and leaving the company, too. Could it be that the Hollywood Writer Experiment is being discovered to be the failure I said it would be? Or at least, not exactly a rousing success?
    Dare I toot my own horn by noting that, lack of shitty-sitcom experience aside, I'm probably about as perfect a candidate for this job opening as exists in the free world? Except for the part where I have the capacity for independent thought, and would probably get myself Heyman'ed inside of 2 weeks... it's really too bad WWE is so intent on "team work" that they fail to realize that "group think" is more dangerous than having a TEAM that includes diverse points of view.
  • So the Ultimate Warrior ruffled some feathers on Tuesday? I'd heard about that and assumed nothing would come of it, so I didn't mention it Wednesday... but at some point between my Wednesday afternoon writing and this one, Warrior's speech to young conservatives at UConn has turned into an international incident.
    Not having heard the speech, and not particularly wanting to take anything out of context, it seems Mr. Hellwig included some homophobic comments, which offended the crowd and caused them to interrupt him; when one of the interruptions came from a middle eastern woman, Warrior followed up with racist comments. And today, he's defended them as "politically incorrect, but not offensive." Or something; you know Warrior's prose... it's the epitome of a guy trying to write smarter than he actually is, and it gets a bit dense and circular at times.
    That said: the fact that it took 3 days for this to turn into a big deal pretty much tells me everything I need to know... it probably WASN'T that big a deal on Tuesday night, but now, in the quest to invent news where none exists, certain parties are blowing it out of proportion. Truth be told, I've been lax with my language before, confident that you all will get the SPIRIT behind it and that I'm free to use words and phrases that might be hot buttons because you know I've not actually got a damned problem in the world with gay people doing whatever they want if it makes them happy. So perhaps I'm just a bit hesitant to cast the first stone at Warrior, here, without knowing EXACTLY what was said and in what context.
    Although, his comment to the middle eastern woman? If the quote is true, then I'm STILL having a hard time inventing the defensible context for that one.... I'll say no more about it, but if you want to read up, there's an article right here for you.
  • If you want offensive direct quotes, I could also direct you to this Randy Orton newspaper interview.
    I honestly can't tell if Orton was trying to be a heel in the interview in an effort to maintain kayfabe, or if this is just him speaking straight from the heart. If it's the former: job well done. If it's the latter: he's a fucking idiot.
    I'm not just talking about Orton being rather full of himself in terms of how much he's learned and how good he is, I'm also talking about him pawning off his failed face run on a creative team that turned him face against his wishes (funny, I'd heard Orton was against his latest heel turn?), and Orton talking about doing everything for the money. A real prize this guy is.
  • In addition to the RAW/SD! joint "super taping" on April 18 (to facilitate international touring), there will now be another one on June 27. Early intel pointed to April 18 for the Draft Lottery, but  perhaps if WWE *has* decided to delay that afterall, June 27 would be the logical replacement date?
  • Many Concerned Readers have written in to say that they've gotten the new Divas DVD, and that Molly Holly is not on it; they are concerned that this bodes ill for Molly's future in WWE...
    Hey, believe me, I've had my moments of doubt (when Molly was missing from the new Diva Video they showed at SD! tapings last November, I was mega-scared), but I think we all just need to resign ourselves to the notion that WWE is under the misapprehension that Molly can't take a good-looking picture, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. With nearly a dozen Diva Search Losers to fill up the DVD (and I assume an accompanying magazine?), WWE just wants to take pictures of their newfound cookie-cutter also-rans and that's that. No need to waste valuable time and effort on Molly when you've got professional models willing to wear much skimpier outfits, and thus, allegedly plumped tons more pubescent wangs despite their anonymity.
    Part of me is actually kinda pissed though: didn't I mention an interview back last fall where Molly was going through hell cuz she couldn't decide what to do about the Diva shoot in terms of wearing a wig or not wearing a wig, since she was still sporting VERY short hair? I guess maybe WWE decided for her by not shooting any pictures of her at all. Boo, says I, boo!
  • I think that's all I got today, folks. But just on a quick personal note: I know today we laid the Pope to rest, but today's also the closest thing I've got to an Annual Night of Mourning.  April 8 is the day I associate with the deaths of both Kurt Cobain and my friend Dave, both of whom (indirectly in the case of the former, and directly in the case of the latter) were hugely influential to me. So if you're sitting around tonight, and tip a glass for the Pope, or even maybe just for your own personal buzzening, maybe do me a solid and tip it one more time for a few more guys who I happen to think deserve it.
    Or not: I'll be shacking up and doing more than enough tipping of glasses for any three dozen of you, I'm sure.
    I'll see you again on Monday. Maybe the Reds will have completed ANOTHER series sweep? Nah, that's kooky talk....

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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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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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