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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Chris Candido Passes Away, plus
A Few Other Weekend Newsbites
April 29, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Well, ideally, you'd just have the Team Coverage Backlash PPV Preview to read this weekend. And ideally, that's all I would have had to prepare for publication.
 
But last night around 9pm, bad news reached me: another wrestling death.  Suddenly, my night of throwing together the PPV Preview skeleton was clearly gonna be scrapped. Just so nobody gets the wrong idea, like I'm bitching about a minor inconvenience to me at a time when a man is dead, this is more just a deal where you can't help but sit down and realize, "Well, 

shit. Maybe picking the results of a crappy, off-month PPV isn't so important in the grand scheme of things," and you have no choice but to spend some time pondering priorities and realizing what's really important.

In this case: that means the PPV Preview will still be published, but later on Friday. I didn't even touch it last night; it didn't seem important. And for now, I have the unenviable task of throwing out an unanticipated Friday News Update, where the biggest news of all kind of hits you like sac-punch: 

  • Chris Candido (real name: Chris Candito) has passed away. He collapsed at home last night around dinner time, was rushed to the hospital, but could not be revived. Candido was 33 years old.
     
    There are conflicting reports on the cause of death at this time, but there seems to be agreement that Candido's passing is related to complications stemming from his ankle surgery earlier this week. Depending on which report you choose to believe at this point, Candido was hit by either a blot clot or a staph infection. Both are rare, but possible, complications after major surgery. And although it's important to note that Candido had cleaned himself up and nobody is suggesting any nefarious abuses directly caused his death despite him being administered painkillers following his surgery, one doctor-type I've talked to said that a man with those abuses in his past *is* more susceptible to these sorts of post-surgical complications.
     
    Just 2 days prior to his death, Candido was present at TNA TV tapings, and seemingly in very good spirits, despite being wheelchair-bound with his surgically reconstructed ankle: injured as he may have been, Candido loved wrestling, and you couldn't have kept him away from his job if you'd wanted to. That feel-good story of Candido's presence at tapings only makes his sudden passing all the more shocking and confusing. Wrestling has lost another good one, and lost him way too soon.
     
    Candido, one could argue, was put on this earth to be a wrestler. Or if you choose to take the more pragmatic route and dismiss destiny, he sure as hell knew from an early age that wrestling is what he wanted to do. Candido was one generation removed from the business, as his grandfather was a rounder in the northeast NWA territory which later split off to become the WWWF in the 60s. Growing up in New Jersey in the 80s, Candido already had the business in his blood, as he'd get to help out on ring crews, and what not, throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
     
    Also, one of Candido's closest friends back then was the man who'd later become known as Balls Mahoney. Together, they'd dream of one day breaking into the wrestling business; but while they were still in high school, they tried putting together their own backyard shows. Unlike many "backyard wrestlers" or guys who quit school at age 16 because they think you don't need a head on your shoulders to wrestle, Candido was more of the "Foley Backyard Mindset," which emphasized coming up with charismatic personalities and stuff along with the "ring work."  It's something that served Candido well throughout his career, and something that distinguishes him from the rest of that class of wannabe teenage backyard wrestlers who thought it was all about high spots and stunt work who became ubiquitous in the 90s.
     
    Candido finished high school, and around 1990 reported to the Monster Factory, one of the more reputable wrestling training facilities in the country which just so happened to be located in New Jersey. Inside of a year, Candido was a breakout star on the New Jersey indie circuit, working primarily for Dennis Coraluzzo. With the debut of Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1992, Candido moved just a little bit westward, and started working for Eddie Gilbert's Philadelphia-based promotion. A little known fact is that Candido was an ECW Tag Team Champion in 1993 (as one half of the Suicide Blondes), and that he'd had a successful run with the company long before his 1996 career resurrection in ECW.
     
    However, ECW in 1993 was not the ECW most of us think of... this was prior to Paul Heyman's take-over from Gilbert, and there simply wasn't money to be made in ECW. But Candido had already opened a bunch of eyes in his two-year career, with his mix of outstanding in-ring ability and charismatic promo work. And in 1993, there *was* a place where a guy could go, work 3-4 nights a week, and make money: that place was Smokey Mountain Wrestling.
     
    Jim Cornette's SMW was the tape-trading, indie-lover's darling in '93 and '94, and Candido arrived just in time to be a huge contributor to SMW's Glory Days. Proving that a seemingly-humiliating gimmick can, in the right hands, be a career-maker, rather than career-suicide, Candido debuted in SMW with a Crybaby gimmick. It was so pronounced that Candido's first major feud ended with him losing in a Diaper Match... and despite having to appear on TV in a diaper (and apparently with a bottle and a pacifier, too), Candido's stock actually rose as a result. Just one of those quirks where, if you know how to be the chickenshit heel and LET YOURSELF be a chickenshit heel, fans will respond to you in a huge way.
     
    Something else happened in SMW that was huge, too: Jim Cornette noticed that Chris' real-life girlfriend just so happened to be super-hot, and also happened to seem to possess a head on her shoulders. And that's how Tammy Sytch (who had started dating Chris while he was still training to be a wrestler) became "Tammy Fytch" on SMW TV. Tammy started out doing her own thing in SMW, as kind of a hostess/interviewer, and then morphed into a manager intent on proving that wrestling isn't a man's world. It took a while before the real-life couple became an on-screen duo, but eventually, Tammy was managing Candido (and also Brian Lee). The group was a week-in and week-out highlight of SMW; I know because when I got to college, these were some of the first tapes I ever traded for.
     
    Meantime, ECW was doing its thing up north, and "its thing" included the memorable double-cross of the NWA in which Shane Douglas threw down the NWA Title and started the Extreme Era of ECW. Stinging from the embarrassment, NWA-NJ promoter Dennis Coraluzzo had to scramble to hold ANOTHER tourney to crown an NWA champion he could trust to uphold the belt honorably. He turned to Chris Candido, who'd broken into the spotlight thanks to Dennis. And in another little footnote that might surprise some fans, that's how Chris Candido became the NWA Champion in late 1994; it's easy to belittle the value of the NWA Title after it was stripped from Ric Flair in 1991 and before TNA actually managed to get it back on TV in 2002, but it's a historical fact that Candido held the NWA Title for about 4 months.
     
    And in old school fashion, Candido actually defended the belt all over the world: he worked NWA shows in New Jersey and Florida, his "homebase" was still SMW (which actually had a strong TV distribution system), and he even took the title over for a tour of Japan. All this at age 23. And then, it got even better....
     
    In early 1995, the WWF came calling. They were interested in both Chris and Tammy, and Chris and Tammy were both plenty interested back. The deal to bring the couple to the WWF was signed during the first couple months of 1995. Candido, of course, had to drop the NWA Title as a result (to Dan Severn), and spent several months in a holding pattern as the WWF needed to get past WrestleMania 11 before it could focus its energies on debuting Chris and Tammy.
     
    [It was actually during this time that I had my favorite Chris and Tammy story happen. At an ECW Weekend I spent in Philly, the two were VIP guests backstage at the show, and when all the wrestlers and fans went back to the hotel bar -- something of a tradition, I gathered, so I was happy to play along -- the fans seemed to gravitate towards the ECW guys. Chris (decked out in an outfit that I think had a WWF logo on every item of clothing, you could tell he was proud) and Tammy didn't get much love. Me and a friend actually did get sick of standing in the third row watching Sandman drink beers and mumble his way through stories, though, and wound up striking up a conversation with the two. And two more happy, enthusiastic WRESTLING FANS you'll never meet. I'm serious. We talked a bit out the WWF job, but mostly, we just sat around like tittering schoolgirls obsessing over the awesome ECW Arena show we'd all just seen. It was really neat. 
     
    As a sidebar to my sidebar: at some point a drink or so later, Terry Funk walked in, and immediately commanded an audience. About 90% of the fans in the hotel bar and lobby swarmed to listen to Funk tell tall tales from the road. Even Candido, once again displaying that Pure Fandom, was up from our table like a shot to go sit at the feet of the Funkster. And this was how I ended up alone at a table with Tammy (who said she'd heard all the stories a dozen times over already), and how -- because I was underage, had no fake-ID, and my friend who had been getting my drinks had also joined the Funk party for a bit -- she became the most famous woman ever to buy me a drink. A Beam and Coke. Good times. I'll never forget the way Chris -- and Tammy -- clearly loved the wrestling business. Given the way they seemed years later, the next time I spoke to them, it seemed like maybe the business finally got the better of them... but then Chris got his act together again and spent the last year rekindling his affinity for wrestling in a positive way, and that was so heartening to hear about, and it makes today's news... well, it fucking sucks. 'Nuff said.]

     
    In any case, after a few months of attending ECW shows as fans and supplying alcohol to minors, the WWF finally had the spot ready for Chris and Tammy: they would debut on TV as "The Bodydonnas," heel fitness instructors who hate all the fat, disgusting fans. Oy. The gimmick itself was in place almost immediately, it was just a question of their names... and as only the WWF can do, they opted for the significantly more lame of two options: instead of letting them debut as "Chris and Tammy Power" (which got trial runs in dark matches), they dubbed them "Skip and Sunny Bodydonna." Just keep that in mind the next time you want to put a brick through your TV screen at what an awful 80s style gimmick "Simon Dean" is.
     
    And although Skip brought something to the WWF that they didn't have (a flashy in-ring talent who did moves like top-rope frankensteiners) and although Sunny brought them something that they hadn't had in a while, too (some eye candy), the gimmick, predictably, didn't exactly get over. After debuting in April or May, Candido was already a joke by July: he found himself embroiled in a feud with legendary WWF jobber Barry Horowitz. And worse: Horowitz won. From a top free agent signing to jobbing to a jobber at SummerSlam, all in just six short months.
     
    But a strange thing was happening... even as fans were being given no reason to take Skip seriously, they were sure as hell warming up to Sunny. Before the end of 1995, she was well on her way to becoming the "Most Downloaded Babe on AOL," or whatever that title was. Realizing that the Bodydonnas may yet have value, the WWF changed gears in late '95, trying to turn Skip into a tag team wrestler. First, they tried a deal where he and Sunny wanted to reform "grunge rocker" Rad Radford (the late Louie Spicolli); but that plan had to be dropped when Spicolli was released following an overdose scare. So they went to Plan B: introducing Tom Pritchard as Skip's brother Zip. As a tag team, and with Sunny as their manager, they finally *did* find their niche, even winning the WWF Tag Titles for a few months in 1996.
     
    But by now, the WWF could see which way the wind was blowing: Sunny was becoming a phenomenon, and the Bodydonnas were kind of lame. She was split off from the team so she could become a full-on babyface (and frequent staple of the new for-adult-readers RAW Magazine's photo lay-outs), leaving the Bodydonnas to conduct a manager search that ended with a thud, in the form of a cross-dressing guy named "Cloudy." That gimmick was torpedoed immediately, leaving the Bodydonnas in limbo. They were semi-feuding with the Smoking Gunns at the time (as Sunny had become their manager), and during that run, Candido suffered an injured neck during the summer of 1996.
     
    During that hiatus, Candido learned where the WWF's priorities really lay: they pretty much asked him to step down from an active wrestling role, but offered him his choice of alternatives (manager, trainer, even interviewer/announcer). The message was clear: "We want to keep your girlfriend, so we know we can't fire you; but we also have no use for you as a wrestler, so please take another job." Candido, though, was not exactly in the mood to retire from the ring at age 25.
     
    Fortuitously, this all happened at a time when the WWF and ECW were forging a secret partnership. As soon as his neck injury healed, Candido was permitted to appear immediately for ECW although his WWF contract could still, technically, have been enforced. Upon arriving in ECW, Candido adopted the "No Gimmicks Needed" gimmick, making it clear that his Bodydonna days were behind him.
     
    Although another minor injury had a pretty major "trickle down effect" (Candido was injured and could not compete on the first ECW PPV, opening the door for Rob Van Dam to step in and have his breakthrough night), it was pretty smooth sailing for Candido in ECW. He slid into a primo spot as a member of Shane Douglas' Triple Threat. Of course this meant that Chris was never the top level guy, but he was a featured role player who could provide a comedic counterpoint to Shane's over-the-top intensity.
     
    When the Triple Threat had run its course (because Shane once again opted to leave ECW in order to join WCW), Candido found himself forging an alliance with Lance Storm. In 1998, Candido came full circle, once again winning the ECW Tag Team Titles, this time with Lance. 

    And things came full circle in another way in 1998: Tammy Sytch rejoined Chris on TV, this time in ECW. But this was perhaps not as happy a reunion as you'd think. Tammy's release from the WWF came amidst rumors of attitude and drug problems: already, Tammy's appearances on WWF TV had become sporadic throughout late 1997 and into 1998, and people were wondering why the WWF wouldn't more-heavily feature such a highly-marketable stone-cold babe on TV. To be fair, a big part of that reason was the emergence of Sable as the new Flavor of the Month; but when the WWF outright released Sunny/Tammy, most took that as confirmation of the other reliability issues.
     
    Tammy's arrival in ECW in 1998 started a period of almost exactly one year of on-again/off-again status for the company. Paul Heyman quickly realized the reality of the situation and why the WWF had let Tammy go, and did not want to be a facilitator to her problems: if and when Tammy could be proven sober, Paul was happy to use her. When she couldn't, Paul was happy to send her home. This also began to rub off on Candido, who's own struggles with various drug abuses would become well known in later years and which he'd address openly and honestly.
     
    Being unable to count on the couple for more than a month or two at a time, Paul never felt comfortable pushing them in a major way, even though Tammy was probably the biggest and most popular WWF cast-off to ever come through his door. This meant a career stall-out for Candido, who went from a top card staple to being a mixed-tag sideshow kind of guy... the last straw came in 1999, just as ECW got their national TV deal. Paul actually made Tammy admit to her problems as part of a TV angle, in hopes that would inspire her to stay clean and remain on TV. It didn't work. Mere months after that, Tammy was done with ECW, and so was Chris.
     
    In 2000, they showed up together in WCW for a brief run. Candido actually had a cup of coffee as the Cruiserweight Champion, although NOT exactly at the apex of that division. Rather, in one of the absolute most embarrassing periods of that prestigious (and still-active) title (thanks, pre-Jesus Vince Russo!), Candido actually lost the title in a convoluted, nonsensical mixed tag match. Don't ask me: I don't think even *I* was watching WCW that closely by that point, and I was getting paid to at the time...
     
    Later in 2000, Candido had the gall to get injured in a WCW ring. And in true WCW form, Eric Bischoff decided, "Hey, you're hurt? No, YOU'RE FIRED." Hey, it worked really well for him with Steve Austin, didn't it? So Chris Candido, a former globe-trotting NWA Champion who held title in ALL of the "Big Three" of the late 90s wrestling boom, was unemployed. WCW didn't want him, bridges had been torched with ECW, and the WWF was doing gangbusters business at the time and didn't need to be hiring. In retrospect, it doesn't seem fair, but that's how it happened.
     
    And tough circumstances like that could beat anybody down. By all accounts (or at least, by some combination of Accounts and Urban Legend), these circumstances sure as hell did a number of Chris and Tammy. Drug use spiraled out of control to the point that there were almost monthly stories of some incident with the couple, and once the obsessive internet jack-off types get their hands on stuff like that, it's their style to extrapolate: even if it's not a conscious exaggeration or anything, there came a point by 2001 where EVERY Chris and Tammy story was told through the filter of "They are dirty, dirty drug addicts." Which might be fair in the sense that they WERE, quite honestly and seriously, struggling with that issue. But which was unfair in the sense that some of the interpretations and extrapolations that got published still might not have been totally accurate. 
     
    I will say this: my last meetings with the two came in 2001, and they were not the same people I'd had a blast with in Philadelphia six years before. They're only a few years older than me, and on that second meeting, they sure as hell seemed like old souls, like they'd aged 10 times faster than I had since last we met. It didn't seem like wrestling was fun for them anymore.
     
    But they clung to the business. Tammy dabbled in the ill-fated "Wrestling Vixens" nudie website, with partner Missy Hyatt. Chris kept getting work on all manner of indie shows, some better than others. Probably his best gigs were during the (relative to other indies) "boom phases" of XPW (in California) and MLW (in Floriday). But as the personal issues compounded and it even began to affect their work (or at the very least, their physical appearances and conditions), they were also working the high school gym circuit. I remember about a year or 18 months ago flipping past my cable access channel (they sometimes have indie wrestling from around Ohio one) and seeing Chris Candido working a match against some scrawny, no-talent punk in front of what appeared to be 40 people. Tammy was nearly unrecognizable at ringside.
     
    But it was also probably just about a year or 18 months ago that they began earnestly trying to get their acts together. Tammy, realizing that the business had probably not done as much for her as she'd done for it, seriously scaled back her "career." At times, I think she considered herself fully retired, but I don't know for 100% sure if that stuck. For her, being off the road and being able to focus on having a normal life was a huge help. And Candido managed to clean himself up, too (and the fact that he no longer had to worry about Tammy was probably a huge boon to his mental health, as well). Last fall, the word going around was that Candido really wanted to get his wrestling career back on track, and was once again in the right mindset to embrace the business and head out on the road without destroying himself.
     
    WWE showed some interest, but as is my understanding, kind of told Chris that he needed to prove himself again before they'd hire him. It wasn't a question of what Chris could or would do in the ring or on the mic, it was a question of whether he could be counted on to do it reliably. Fortuitously, this was just about the same time when TNA came calling. Dusty Rhodes (although currently on the political outs with TNA today, he had plenty of stroke back last winter) is a huge Candido fan, and was the driving force behind bringing Chris in for a look.
     
    And as TNA continues to be a company without an identity, that can't decide if it's a retirement home for Monday Night War Cast-offs or if it's the showcase for the most talented in-ring athletes in the world, Candido managed to convince TNA that he straddles that line: he's done it all in this business, held titles in WWE/WCW/ECW, has an impeccable resume, AND he can still take care of business once you ring the bell. After one or two provisional appearances at TNA tapings, Candido became a tacit regular. Although he had not yet signed a full-time TNA contract, it was understood that Candido's TNA job was secure based on his few months of service.
     
    In fact, Candido's profile in TNA was on the rise: from being a regular on Impact, Candido was called into PPV duty this past Sunday. What had originally been booked as a singles match was changed around to accommodate the inclusion of Candido in a tag match on the PPV stage. Unfortunately, just minutes into that match, Candido (graphically) broke his ankle.
     
    He underwent reconstructive surgery the next day, and showing his dedication to TNA, appeared at Impact tapings on Tuesday. TNA, showing it's dedication to Candido, put him into a major role at the tapings, as the wheelchair-bound manager of the Naturals. Candido was actually a ringside participant as the Naturals defeated America's Most Wanted for the TNA Tag Titles in a match that I believe is scheduled to air next week.
     
    Or that *was* scheduled to air next week. TNA will have some tough choices to make. The edition of Impact that airs on FSN later today might have already been locked in and unchangeable at the time they found out about Candido's death last night. That will make for some awkward moments if Candido is a part of today's show, and I'm already kind of queasy at how that will feel to watch. It also raises questions as to what TNA does in regards to next week's show: do you excise all Candido bits and try a re-do/reset at tapings on May 11, do you ignore Candido's death until you exhaust this set of tapings, or do you shoot straight with fans and tell them about Candido but also admit that this footage was taped prior to his death? It's a tough spot for TNA, and I don't envy them...
     
    In addition to TNA, Candido was also accepting other indie bookings, and after his injury, was telling people on Tuesday that he intended to make all those bookings, even if it was in a non-wrestling capacity. Further, his enthusiasm and good spirits had him telling people that he fully believed he could recover quickly and be back in the ring in six weeks. 
     
    Ironically, that "six week" prognosis probably has a veiled implication. Because back-channel chatter is that Candido had done exactly what WWE had asked him to do with his few months of work in TNA, and that they were talking yet again. Not necessarily about a full-time WWE gig, but about Candido appearing on the ECW Reunion Show, which is, of course, in about 7 weeks. Because Candido did not have a TNA contract, he would have been free to accept such an offer (and there are also rumors that TNA has relaxed its stance and would let their talents work for the WWE/ECW show if they want). Whatever the reason for Chris' optimism, there was no doubt among any who saw Chris on Tuesday that his love of wrestling was back, that you could see it in his willingness to go out and help a young tag team score their biggest win ever even if he wasn't gonna be able to contribute that much physically, and that this ankle injury was only gonna be a mild bump in the road to his OWN  return to form.
     
    Tragically, that ankle injury (suffered in an unscheduled match) now looks like it might have been the indirect cause of Candido's death. Blood clot or staph infection or whatever, the current thinking is that it's complications from his surgery that took Chris Candido away far too soon.
     
    Candido is another one of those guys who maybe most fans don't think of as a huge contributor to wrestling's boom era, but again: he held secondary titles in all of the Big Three, and that speaks volumes about the quality of his work and the faith promoters put in him ahead of dozens of other qualified candidates who never got to taste gold. What sucks double-hard is that the Chris Candido who worked so hard to earn that good faith might have gone away for a while, but he was, by all accounts back during this past year. And well on his way to picking up where he left off back in 1998 or 1999, when last he was on top of the wrestling game. That would have been awesome to see.
     
    And of course, we must remember that whatever we fans have lost, it's selfish to put Candido's death in those terms. He was a son, a brother, a boyfriend, and there are people who feel this loss way more than us. Condolences do go out to Candido's fans on this tough day, but they go even more so to his family and friends. All OOur thoughts are with you....
     
  • And although it might seem a bit insensitive, I *am* here, so I might as well fill up this page with a few other newsbites, right?
     
    Since Candido's last work came in TNA, let's keep that vibe going by mentioning that TNA does now seem on the cusp of securing another national TV deal. This time on Chicago's superstation, WGN.
     
    At one point, WGN seemed poised to follow in the footsteps of TBS and become a true national superstation after starting out as a local broadcast channel (TBS was channel 17 in Atlanta which I know just because of having to read up on NWA/WCW history, and WGN was channel 9 in Chicago, which I know because I lived there for 2 years when I was little). And then in the 90s, TBS just ran away and hid, while WGN seemed content to be a "regional superstation" (at best).
     
    This is all kind of my way of saying that I'm not sure if WGN is exactly the solution to any of TNA's problems. WGN was the known back-up plan if SpikeTV wouldn't sign TNA, and so this renewed buzz that a WGN deal is imminent seems to indicate that TNA is settling for Plan B. [Ironically, this is yet ANOTHER case of TNA duplicating a plan of action that WWE dismissed as pointless; at some point in the mid-90s, I remember WWE got a show on WGN -- forget the name, but I remember the logo/opening montage had something to do with rockets -- and promptly failed to generate any real interest in the show for the one year it was on.]
     
    In a lot of ways, I'm not sure if  WGN will be any more of a help to TNA than FSN has been.... their cable penetration might even be slightly less than the cobbled together network of regional FSN affiliates; at the very least, I know that when visiting relatives on the east coast, there are cable systems that didn't have WGN.
     
    Another problem: the timeslot. Even if WGN is offering a weekly primetime slot, TNA will face a lot of problems. One is that WGN doesn't have a west coast feed. So a show that airs at 8pm "local" time (Chicago time, or 9pm eastern time) is starting at 6pm on the west coast. I suppose they could add in an 11pm replay or something to alleviate that problem, though.... 
     
    But even with that, WGN is the home to the vast majority of Cubs baseball games, Bulls basketball games, and also to a few White Sox games. Now, when I mentioned the pre-emption problem a week or so ago, many wrote in to say that the Cubs won't be a problem. And they made some good points about how half the Cubs games are at home, and the vast majority of those are afternoon games. Also: something I've just realized as I get into the swing of managing my Fantasy Baseball Roster is the fact that baseball generally schedules very few games on Mondays and Thursdays (every team usually gets one of those off most weeks, as a travel day to set up the lucrative weekend series), so that means that WGN's BEST nights to give TNA a slot are actually the coveted head-to-head slots against WWE's shows on Established Wrestling Nights.
     
    Still: during winters, I'm not sure how WGN's basketball coverage might affect Mondays and/or Thursdays. TNA would still, despite these considerations, face upwards of a dozen or so pre-emptions a year, I'm guessing. Which isn't nearly as bad as I thought last week, but which is still problematic.
     
    In any case: if the T's can be crossed and the I's dotted, the current buzz is that an announcement could come as soon as next week. I remain, to this day, not quite a "fan" of TNA, but I also remain  guy who cheers for them to eventually get it right so that I can be one. The thought of rekindling some of that RAW vs. Nitro (or SD! vs. Thunder) magic, of going into a night of wrestling armed with a channel to flip to INSTEAD of a fast-forward button? That's kinda neat, and I'd certainly give TNA half-an-eyeball during any Chris Masters segment...
     
    And hell, even if it's not strong competition, the mere presence of ANY competition might finally spark WWE to listen to fans and give us the product we want, instead of the product they feel like supplying. If there's another wrestling show on 30 channels away, WWE might be less likely to serve up Chris Masters. Maybe. Possibly. HOPEFULLY.
     
    We'll see how this pans out.
     
  • Last night's SD! was another very fun show. The four-way main event was the easy Match of the Week. And the opening Carlito's Cabana (with Kurt Angle) and also the backstage Eddie/Chavo/Rey thing are contenders for best angle/interview of the week. The latter segment PERFECTLY set up the Eddie/Rey vs. MNM match in which the crowd went from "Eddie, Eddie" chants to "Eddie Sucks, Eddie Sucks" chants in a matter of about 3 minutes. That's all the proof I need when I'm pointing out the purest of awesomeness: when you can massage an audience that expertly with a promo and then with the psychology of a match, you're doing something right.
     
    Also: I'm loving Booker T's "goddamn do I ever have a cool broad, so I'll just shut up" thing where he lets Sharmell talk his smack (note: if she didn't do it well, Booker would seem whipped, but she's doing it VERY well, and so it works)... I've been periodically finding excuses to sing his praises, and I'm more sure than ever that Matt Morgan is gonna be HUGE in a year or two; I can see the road map in my mind, and this stuttering gimmick is just a silly hook to make fans notice him, and then he'll beat the impediment in a matter of months, and then it's full speed ahead...  and was it just me, or did Tazz and Cole seem to have a really "on" night?
     
    We'll get Danny's SD! Recap posted later today (along with the PPV preview and at least one other goodie), but for now, I'll just close the SD! bullet point by mentioning that the prelim rating for SD! is a 3.2, which is a bit off pace. It's unclear what we can read into that rating, as four of the six networks were doing coverage of President Bush's press conference for about 3/4ths of SD!'s telecast... is it possible (GASP) that the same nation that laps up "American Idol" as if it was the most important thing on the planet might also have a non-zero interest in current events?
     
    Probably not... but SD!'s still slightly off last night. For whatever reason.
     
  • I'll say this about John Cena. I may not particularly understand WWE's handling of him sometimes, and wish they'd give him more genuine personality traits so that he'd be able to connect with the broad, mainstream audience a bit easier (instead of getting sporadic boos, and even a brief "Cena Sucks" chant last night on SD!)... but that said, I can't fucking wait to see his new video next week.
     
    Four minutes of the "A-Team"? Cigar-chomping, plan-coming-together-loving Cena? I'm there, dude. It's like the Beastie Boys: as long as the track is even tolerable, a kick-ass video will put it over the top. And who knows? I actually think Cena's new entrance theme is about a thousand times better than his old one, so maybe his new record isn't 100% crap. Maybe only 75%.
     
    As long as the Crap Factor beats Macho Man Savage's, Cena can call it a moral victory....
     
  • I think that's really about all I need to do today. The rest can kinda wait till Monday, don't you think?
     
    But I guess I can't escape without prostrating myself before the masses and admitting to a rather major fuck-up. Two days worth of Eddie Money jokes, and it turns out the guy I MEANT to be making fun of was Billy Ocean. At least, in this specific case, it was Billy Ocean. Because, in general, one doesn't need an excuse to make jokes about Eddie Money, Billy Ocean, Steve Perry, Richard Marx, Corey Hart, and lord knows however many other forgettable and interchangeable 80s Crap Rockers. But yeah, so you all are right: the guy I *meant* to be making fun of was Billy Ocean. Kudos to you.
     
    My excuse is that I'm just a little too young to vividly remember most of that garbage; and I'm way too old to appreciate it in a "Hey, let's have an 80s Theme for our Prom" kind of campy/nostalgic way (cuz I *did* live through enough of it to know it sucked and to have no real nostalgia for it). It's kind of a blindspot for me. But not for all of you, no sirree. And you know what? It's not even the mocking I endured in about 50 e-mails about "Get out of My Skull, Get into My Pants" from what seemed like kind of crusty older guys who remember the 80s as the best days of their lives that stung.... it was when Young Erin Anderson took my aside yesterday and felt the need to correct me. Ouch. Then again, I secretly think she watches WAY too much VH-1, so that's probably why she knew Billy Ocean's repertoire better than I.
     
    Mea culpa, mea culpa, people. But my main jokes remain intact: my new lyrics are rather a compelling update on an old standard and Billy Ocean's career is no livelier than Eddie Money's. So there.
     
  • OK, I'm out. I need to do some work, and then I'll get on the PPV preview and a secondary OO update for later on today (probably more into the evening, actually).
     
    The PPV preview might be a fun one, too. Maybe not all the way through (I'm now gonna be in half-ass mode after putting my A-game into this piece, and in between mocking my 80s music knowledge, Erin also spent the last week assuring me to lower my expectations on her picks, and truth be told, I let ALL the trOOps know that would be OK, since involved predictions/projections when we have a brand-altering Draft Lottery coming up might not be the wisest investment of time), but we *do* have Rocky Swift coming to the rescue for only about the second time in the last year.
     
    Assuming I can figure out how to format his picks. That wacky bastard needs graphical representation for his predictions. But figuring out how to present that will be worth my time, and CERTAINLY worth yours.
     
    So come on back for that, I'm sorry to have been the bearer of bad news here, and remember that we'll also have Backlash PPV coverage on Sunday night and the usual OO Monday business. I'll see you then, kids....


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
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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