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RAW at MSG, HHH, Hogan, New Diva
Search Rules, and Lots More News
April 18, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know, with all this Hot Papal Conclave Action dominating the news, I feel compelled to re-recommend a novel called "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown, if you're in the mood for a 2-3 night bit of brain candy...  
This is the guy who wrote "The DaVinci Code," except that "Angels and Demons" is, you know?, actually GOOD. And it remembers to have an ending. A fun one. Not the greatest literature in the history of western civilization, but given that everybody and their uncle has read "The DaVinci Code," but nobody I know will take my fucking advice and read  

"Angels and Demons," I figure I'll give it another shout-out. It's a highly entertaining read all related to the selection of a new pope under extremely suspicious circumstances.
If you liked "The DaVinci Code," just trust me: you'll like "Angels and Demons" at least four times as much, or else you may go ahead and send me an e-mail calling me a "poo poo head." And plus: it's timely, as if torn from today's headlines! You can impress your idiot friends with Dan Brown's patented Quasi-Factoids that will make the papal election process seem a LOT more interesting!

Me? Well, even though the one thing I took away from the book is that you don't need to be a cardinal to be elected Pope (hell, you TECHNICALLY only need to be an unmarried male Catholic; and at least once in the past, they overlooked the marriage thing, too!), I'm going to have to disappoint all my loyal apostles and pull myself out of the running to be the 265th Pope... I will, however, retain my right to ascend to the position of Anti-Pope at any point I deem necessary in the future. Have I ever mentioned before how I belong to an obscure and very exclusive sect known as the Papal Atheists? Man alive, excommunication is gonna be so cool.

Also: like the anal retentive jackoff that I am, I actually spent some time in the last week reviewing Pope Names and trying to figure out what the next Pope should call himself. I have decided... the next Pope MUST be Pope Lando II. I'm not kidding. Pope Lando. Look it up. And just in time for the release of Star Wars Episode 3. With some of the moronic marketing things I've already seen for the Star Wars movie (a Darth Vader Mr. Potatohead called "Darth Tater"? Are you shitting me? No, you're not, because my ad agency even has this stuff being advertised here at OO), I can think of worse ways to throw money around... and hey, selling the naming rights to LucasFilm for Pope Lando II would probably be enough to pay off a whole diocese worth of molested altar boys. HEY-OOOOOO!

If I don't zip it, maybe that excommunication'll come sooner rather than later. Let's talk some wrestling:

  • Tonight's RAW is swollen with potential and engorged with possibilities. It is a ripe and tasty fruit, just begging to be plucked from the vine and savored by the deserving and discerning connoisseur.
    This just in: tonight's RAW has also just called me and asked that I quit making such creepily almost-suggestive metaphors for no discernable reason.
    But actually, I have a point! Which is that tonight's RAW has a chance to be a memorable one, something truly special. But as WWE has shown, with increasing frequency of late, things such as "potential" and "possibilities" do not always translate into a high quality final product. 
    In tonight's case, we've got WWE returning to Madison Square Garden, and there's always a little bit of extra MSG Magic in the air whenever that happens. We've also got both the RAW and SD! rosters in the house (and this has been acknowledged on TV, as JR noted it last week on RAW), which opens up a few unique cross-brand options. And we've more than likely got Hulk Hogan returning to TV.
    There's some stuff here that almost gets my spine tingling in anticipation.
    But then I remember: this is the same company that served up last week's crap-ass Main Event Promo that did everything wrong with regards to Batista and which also set up a Triple H vs. Jim Ross match for tonight's show. A match that nobody that I've talked to has any interest in seeing.
    See how something like that could take the wind out of one's sails?
    So it's only the guarded kind of enthusiasm I can really muster tonight. There are all kinds of puzzle pieces out on the table, and there are also all kinds of different ways to put them together that would be pretty awesome. I won't deny that. But to just assume WWE will get it right strikes me as naive. That said, my mantra is, and always has been in cases like this: Prove Me Wrong, WWE, Prove Me Wrong. I *want* to be wrong.
    Starting at the top, WWE is sure trying to push the Triple H vs. Jim Ross match... so I can only hope that they have a neat idea for an angle to run in that segment, otherwise... I just don't get it. Why the match even exists is a mystery: HHH didn't even issue a challenge or anything, he just announced the match would happen. Why is JR obligated to fight at all? Can somebody explain that to me? Why did HHH suddenly decide to beat up JR? That was never explored, either... so you end up not only with a match that most fans couldn't give a shit about, but you set it up in the lamest, least-sensical way possible. Bravo.
    If this is just a set-up for the predictable Batista run-in, I'll be massively disappointed. If this is the set-up for a Jerry Lawler run-in as we hit the time of year when it's once again time to unnecessarily involve announcers in storylines, I'll be even more so. Or maybe it's time for JR to take his annual few weeks off so that WWE can realize that, awesome as he is in small doses as a heelish putz, Coach can STILL not carry a 2 hour telecast. I just keep running scenarios in my head, and I'm coming up blank on why HHH vs. JR is on the card tonight. There's little good that it can accomplish, and there's NOTHING good it can accomplish that couldn't be BETTER accomplished in other, more entertaining ways.
    Second level story tonight, even if fueled mostly by rumor, is gonna be the Shawn Michaels/Hulk Hogan vs. Hassan/Daivari story. All signs point to Hogan being present at MSG tonight, the very building where he smote the Iron Sheik and where Hulkamania was born 21 years ago. But while that's almost a guaranteed magic moment, there are still storyline elements that will need some fleshing out. Such as: (a) if Michaels was so sure he could beat Hassan/Daivari all by himself, why call in a gun as big as Hogan to be his special partner? And (b) what of Marty Jannetty? And even, if you want to join me in the Jackoff Club For Extreme Overthinkers, (c) isn't Hogan forcibly retired after losing to Vince McMahon at WM19? In fact, wasn't his last match as "Mr. America" at MSG about 2 years ago, and wasn't "Mr. America" fired for revealing himself to be Hogan?
    Next level for me is Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Jericho's IC Title feud, which I thought got off to a dandy start last week with a segment that had both guys hitting zingers and "oohhhh'ing" and "ahhhhh'ing" the crowd, but without really coming off as heels. I think these two have a sweet one-on-one match in 'em, and giving the fans a chance to pick between Shelton's relative inexperience and Jericho's ability to act like the Lovable Asshole should make for an interested exercise in making one of these guys a de facto heel for about 2 weeks time.
    I fear and dread what's coming next in the women's division. For one, we're down to two women who have any business in the ring. For two, the one who scored a pinfall win last week was neither of them. For three, the one woman who will be getting healthy enough to resume in-ring action suddenly found herself smack-dab in the middle of the return of lame, off-kilter Suck last week. What gives? In the short term, I guess is Lita maybe NOT in Spaz's corner any more? But Spaz just got a win last week, so you KNOW she's gonna have more title shots coming up, right? And with Orton gone and Kane back to spinning his wheels, he's in the middle of this, now, too, and not in a good way. The Kane/Lita couple actually did get interesting last fall when they started acting more normal and sane... but last week's segment between them stank more of the over-the-top, shitty soap-opera vibe that was the defining characteristic of Lita's "pregnancy." And I still think it painted them as heels, which is even more baffling. We'll have to see what's next here, but all of a sudden, what I thought would be a pretty simple project of station-keeping until we can get to that straight-up blow-off match between Trish and Lita has suddenly gotten needlessly confusing, as WWE tries to make things as hard on themselves as possible.
    Again, and not to sound like a broken record: but this is where having more women capable of working matches (and given half-way decent material in terms of building their characters) would fix ALL the problems. But that's not WWE's plan, now is it? Nope...
    More Guaranteed Suck: Chris Master's Full Nelson Challenge. Why? That's something that would send even loyal Heat Viewers scrambling for the remote on Sunday nights, and it gets play on RAW? The ONLY way this is justifiable is if WWE, for some reason, is intending to use a SD! star to answer Masters' challenge, in which case doing this on the only RAW where SD! stars are available for the next 2 months makes some sense.... but who? And why? And where does it go from there? I say the answers, no matter what, are (1) I don't know, (2) I don't care, and (3) Nowhere. Instead, I have a sinking feeling that somebody will come out and FAIL to break the Full Nelson, and we'll have ourselves a new recurring weekly segment on RAW. And just like that, a guy who would have circles wrestled around him by much of the OVW roster and EASILY have circles TALKED around him by almost anybody under WWE contract is gonna be a weekly staple on RAW. Lucky us.
    [Complete Tangent: the fashionable comparison to make is between Cena and Orton... but as time goes on, it wouldn't surprise me if Masters and Carlito Cool sort of got lumped together into a "Class of 2005" deal (since Carlito's basically starting his career over now, after his injury). And I think those two guys PERFECTLY underscore a point I was making last week about making personnel decisions based on talents who ARE good, instead of who LOOK good. Carlito, you can tell the effortless way he speaks and acts, and you can notice the way fans respond to almost all his little mannerisms, and you know he's got something worth putting on TV; it doesn't matter that he's basically got the "I'm in excellent shape, but I'm not a big enough choad that I think I impress anybody by spending 3 hours in the gym every day so I can blast my deltoids in an attempt to make up for some other glaring insecurity or insecurities I have" build like a Jericho or an Edge. He still looks like an athlete, though, and that's where Actual Personality and Skill come into play to put him over the top. Meantime, a guy like Masters? Not only do I get the distinct impression that, as an Orton-caliber intellect who didn't exactly view college as a post-high-school option, he's never met a book that he didn't fail to read, but even some of the people I've talked to who were involved in his initial training in California in UPW say that the only reason he got signed on to OVW was because of his look, and not because of any particular ability he ever showed inside the ring. What this guy brings to the table at this point is cosmetic. And as has been discussed in detail here, OO is not impressed with the cosmetic. OO is impressed with what you're REALLY all about; and right now, Masters is all about boring the piss out of me. That's not to say that at some point his mental maturity or in-ring ability won't catch up to his body, but that time is so clearly and obviously NOT now that it annoys me to be asked by WWE to watch his snail's-paced incremental improvements on TV when there's much more ready-for-TV talent out there on the market. I'm not saying you don't STILL keep improving after you make it to TV, too, but I'm saying there should be some bare minimum requirement for getting there; Masters, who was "boring'd" even in his dark matches before debuting, and who continues to get "boring'd" to this day, is not there yet. And yeah, it hurts him that he's stuck with such a dumb gimmick, too, but in his case, that's only a contributing factor...]
    Something a bit more promising: Heat last night ended with William Regal and Tajiri beating La Resistance for the estimated 3887th time. And thank god, they presented it as La Resistance's last title shot! Which prompted Regal to cut a promo after the win, challenging any team in the world to come face them for the belts. So finally! The tag division may live and breathe again! But from the sounds of an "open challenge" it may also mean the rapid end to the reign of Tajiri and Regal....
    Obviously, if the open challenge is answered tonight, that's ANOTHER spot for a possible SD! crossover. Also, even though SD! just did the exact same thing by hot-shotting a new tag team without any build-up or vignettes last week, RAW might just unveil a new team fresh from OVW (where there are a few promising choices)... the team everybody has been saying for months is headed to RAW is the Shane Twins, who will basically give RAW their own version of the Bashams. Not so thrilling, I know, but hey, the alternative is more promo time for Simon Dean, so don't knock 'em.  There's also another team down in OVW called the Heartbreakers who would be my preference if this is a slot for a new team; I think they're custom-made for RAW, rather than SD!. We'll see... and I'd also be remiss if I didn't at least mention the possibility that this could somehow set-up the surprise return of the Dudley Boyz. That's been on a few people's minds, too, since last night's show...  I don't know if that'd count as a "cross-over," or as a brand jump or what... personally, my feeling is that SD! will need the Duds more than RAW will; as soon as Eddie and Rey are broken up, the Duds will be able to return as the signature babyface team on Thursdays.
    I think that's about all I got in terms of things to look for tonight. Again: so many possibilities. But so much lingering concern that they may not be paid off because of the cloud of Suck that hangs around any show that is predicated so heavily on things like Jim Ross vs. Triple H.
    So tune in tonight and see how it goes! And then tomorrow, OO will be home to the finest RAW Recap in all the land, where you can not only find out what happened (if you dare to miss the show!), but you can also get plenty of the incisive analysis and commentary you've come to know, love, and expect. Be there!
  • Per HHH's injury status: I honestly have nothing illuminating to add here that I didn't have Friday. He's at MSG, he's ready to go for tonight in what shouldn't be a very physically-intensive segment, but beyond that, it's a total crapshoot: HHH is not at 100% tonight, but is also giving every indication of working through whatever's bugging him. Nobody knows if that means he's not at 100% but will get better soon, or what....
  • TNA's got a PPV coming up this weekend, and they're going all-out with 8 cage matches. Every match on the card, inside a steel cage... seems like over-kill to me, especially just in terms of the psychology of trying to set up a 3 hour show where you want things to build up and to have each match seem distinctive.
    But putting everybody in cages? That kind of sets up a situation where everybody will be relying on a lot of the standard "set pieces" when it comes to their matches. At present, they've got weapons legal in two of eight matches, but I'm thinking you want to shake it up even more than that, somehow try to make each match a little unique so that fans don't get tired of the same old thing or desensitized to standard cage spots by the time you get to the main event. Stuff like making some of the matches "escape rules" instead of pinfall/submission rules... I dunno... this is partly off the top of my head, but I really can't imagine sitting through 3 hours worth of cage matches and NOT getting a little desensitized or bored with it. As PyroFalkon noted on Friday, there's a lot to be said for a little variety here and there. And I tend to think TNA's Lockdown will have a hard time creating it.
    The one match I could say I'm unequivocally looking forward to is Chris Daniels vs. Elix Skipper. It's been a nice little story of former partners butting heads, and again, I can't overstate how Daniels is pretty much the best reason to bother watching Impact... be it on commentary or in the ring, the guy has totally found a comfort zone, and is head and shoulders above just about everybody in the X Division as a character/personality. And Skipper's a guy who I've long lumped in with Rey Mysterio as an "effortless" high flyer, which counts for a lot: crazy highspots don't seem so crazy or spotty when they also look safe and graceful. So I'm looking forward to that match-up.
    Beyond that, I'm hard-pressed to say much of anything on Impact has caught my eye. The main event picture is just snooze-inducing on every level, from the personalities involved to the logic of the storytelling... Monty Brown's still-not-convincingly-explained partnership with Jeff Jarrett bothers me in the case of the latter, and the mere presence of Billy Gunn and X-Pac is a huge problem I have with regards to the former.
    And then the two other major matches on the PPV card (the "sellable" ones) are ones featuring babyfaces who I just find myself not really connecting with. You've got Raven vs. Jeff Hardy, and I think everybody knows by know just how Jeff makes me hang my head and chuckle. And the other is Abyss vs. AJ Styles... and let me say this about AJ Styles: seeing him once or twice a month on TNA weekly PPVs made him seem like a special talent. But seeing him every week on Impact, attempting to speak? Makes him seem like a terrified little Pretend Wrestler. I'll stop short of calling him Dumb As Orton, but any time he cuts a promo, it's an ordeal, and there's absolutely no spark whatsoever, no sense that there's a real person in there reacting intelligently to nearby stimulus. If anybody saw SNL this weekend, first, I'm sorry (I, myself wound up doing a 20 minute FF version once I realized what the score was), and second, take how vapid and clueless a man host Tom Brady seemed like, multiply it by 5, and that's AJ Styles in front of a camera. It takes a special talent to make Jeff Hardy seem like the more normal, intelligent, comfortable, and smooth talker in a two man promo, but that's exactly what Styles accomplished last Friday on Impact....
    That said, that promo set up an Impact match for this week that should be pretty good: Styles/Hardy vs. Raven/Abyss... as a man who once fantasy booked an entire "Raven Effect" storyline in which Raven would have mind-control over Kane, I, of course, am liking the idea that they could do something like that between Raven and Abyss. Anything to give Abyss something resembling a character would be a bonus... he's been floating aimlessly for the past 3-4 months, and becoming a challenger to the NWA Title while adopting Raven as his mouthpiece could be very intriguing. Who knows?
    I'm sure we'll have more about the TNA PPV on Friday... I just gotta check and see if Jason Longshore is up for another go-round on TNA duty this month.
  • Speaking of TNA, there's a new twist to their TV story going around... that as much as they crave WWE's old spot on SpikeTV, they might settle for WGN. Huh?
    WGN is the superstation out of Chicago, and while it is on the vast majority of cable systems in the continental US, I don't believe it would offer TNA a substantially higher profile cable show. A weekly, primetime show would be difficult, since WGN broadcasts the vast majority of Cubs and Bulls games, and TNA would probably get pre-empted about 3 weeks out of 5 no matter what slot they'd get.  A timeslot outside of prime time? Well, that puts them right back where they are on FSN: which isn't exactly setting the world on fire. And to be honest, I'd bet that the combined reach of the regional FSN's is comparable to WGN's... so how WGN's name is popping up as a desirable alternative is beyond me.
    That said, the company doesn't want to have to resort to WGN, and really wants to impress SpikeTV enough to get that slot (even if not on Mondays, then still in prime time on another night). There is even word that they'll do yet another front office/creative shake-up... Dusty Rhodes, like Vince Russo before him, could be out, and somebody new (or somebody old) would take over creative duties to forge a more mainstream identity for TNA. At this point, I'm not sure where TNA would turn: in Russo, they ditched on a "new school" type of booking, and in Dusty, they're thinking of getting rid of the oldest of the Old School. What's left to try? That said, I wouldn't mind Dusty getting the old heave-ho if for no other reason than he's another guy who accomplishes nothing other than getting me to roll my eyeballs when he shows up with a microphone.
    At this point, I don't know how much stock to put in all this backstage maneuvering in an attempt to secure a TV deal... but with the company losing money hand over fist, this may be a real deal where they want to take one last stab at honestly competing on a national level. The Spike deal would give them that. There are also still on-going rumors that TNA wants their June PPV event to be a super-duper-mega big deal, possibly accompanied by free-TV special(s) and whatnot. That event will be the Third Anniversary Show for TNA, and they want to load it up...
  • Speaking of the indie scene... the Georgia WWE developmental territory is STILL slowly taking shape. But at least the parties involved have finally made it official that Bill Behrens (former NWA president, and operator of the NWA Wildside territory) is going to be involved. Not that this hasn't been unofficially known for some time, but you know what I mean...
    Wildside is officially shutting down at the end of this month, and the WWE territory located outside of Atlanta will begin operations in late May, with hopes of a weekly TV show being produced by July. As far as I know, while Behrens will do scouting and promotion, Hugh Morrus is still going to be nominally in charge of the training facility. The group should be going by the name Deep South Wrestling, and for all intents and purposes is probably gonna end up being OVW2... but I think I've done my rant plenty about how WWE should have looked to a different region of the country for a developmental territory, something that'd have a different flavor and give their young roster chances to "cross-train" between stuff like flashy-west-coast wrestling, old-timey-southern wrestling, and hardcore-northeastern wrestling. But what do I know?
  • Many have passed along the 2005 Diva Search "terms and conditions" PDF, thinking I'd get a kick out of one of the clauses...
    New for 2005 is a line that states that contestants must be "born female." HA! Methinks I struck a little close to home in the April Fools' column, or something!
    Gone in 2005 (at least, as far as my VERY casual scan-through reveals) is the clause that allows WWE to select the winner itself... instead, the new legal-ese seems to make fan voting the iron-clad method of determining a winner. There are still a few "at its sole discretion" items related to WWE's ability to disqualify entrants and bring back losers as alternates, but though this might GUIDE the selection process, it sounds like it's actually and really up to the fans this year.
    Some other clauses, though, underscore just what an idiotic venture this is, including the fact that WWE says that they will be "contacting and encouraging" possible entrants, and reserve the right to PAY THEM A STIPEND to get them to complete an application. So basically: "real girls need not apply, our finalists will all be women -- likely of the failed-actress caliber -- that we've paid to participate." How thrilling.
    And then also: there is a new thing in which WWE pretty much makes it clear that if you're a finalist, you WILL be invited to join WWE in some capacity. There is a new section in which finalists from grant WWE a 3-year (!) window of first-negotiating position on their services. Of course, while this clause obligates finalists to come work for WWE if WWE calls, it does not obligate WWE to actually give the models jobs. But I think we all can take a look at what happened last year and figure out which way the wind is blowing there...
    And mostly: this re-affirms my belief that anybody out there who watches or enjoys the Diva Search is a fucking moron. It doesn't matter who wins! It says so right in the rules! You want cookie-cutter, fake-boobed hotness? Go visit Playboy to get your spank on. And then join me in demanding that your wrestling show feature WRESTLERS, why don't you?
  • Enough... I'm started to get myself worked up into a tizzy here, and that's not good. My optimism for tonight is already guarded enough as it is, I don't need to go soiling my mood any further by contemplating Diva Searches and what they say about the mind-numbingly poor taste of males in this country if this is what passes for TV Entertainment. And the mind-numbing retardation of the company that thinks it's worth producing as TV Entertainment.
    So I wrap up, promise to see you again with the Recap, and remind you to vote Pope Lando II in 2005!

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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