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Judgment Day PPV Fall-Out, Tons of TV
Industry News, OVW, RAW, and MORE!
May 23, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Let's see...  
Pacers' basketball season? Over.

Cincinnati Reds? Out of contention 2 months earlier than expected.

The handful of TV shows that I actually watch? Finishing up for the year.

My social life? The same old Weekend Warrior Routine I've been playing at 

for the past however many years.

So ideally, I SHOULD be able to give my complete attention back to pro wrestling and return to a normal, full OO schedule this week. And maybe stick to it for the foreseeable future. No more days off or 2 days without updates! 

Except, dammit: it is Memorial Day Weekend coming up. And Jeb Lund does have a column done and deserving of the spotlight. And part of giving my Complete Attention to wrestling is wrestling EARNING my attention (something that's been a spotty proposition lately). So why do I get this sinking feeling I'll be granting myself at least one day of vacation out of the next seven?

But not today, Potsie. Not today:

  • We start by going back to last night's PPV. Matt Hocking was there live, and filed this Judgment Day Report.... and of course, that leaves me with a bit of freedom to pass along a few of my editorial thoughts, since I haven't done so already.
    In short: Judgment Day was a surprisingly tolerable affair. It might not be a show you remember a year from now. But given that it was a show that did absolutely NOTHING to inspire fans to see the show, the fact that it rewarded those who DID dutifully view the PPV with 2.5 hours of essentially Suck Free TV was a pleasant treat.
    I know this is coming off as a backhanded compliment, but that's only because that's precisely how I mean it. Look: managing to not piss me off at all over the course of 3 hours is a good thing, but this is still PAY PER VIEW we're talking about here. "Not sucking" is the START of delivering the goods, not the end-all, be-all. Creating a Major Event Atmosphere should be the prerequisite of any show that WWE asks you to pay money for.... this encompasses all the build up to that event, as well as the execution of the event itself.
    And that's the area in which Judgment Day falls short. In a lot of ways, it was a stripped down PPV. Other than the pair of Booker/Angle backstage skits, there was no major storytelling aspect to the show. No real surprises, no shocks, no twists. It was all about what happened in the ring. Which is OK, since what happened in the ring was largely very good, but still... I dunno, it's hard to explain, but at very few points did Judgment Day have a "must-watch" feel. I think this is the PPV I've spent the most time watching out of the corner of one eye while I put my energy into carrying on conversations. That's not a good thing.
    Compounding matters: in at least 3 matches, finishes seemed to come out of nowhere, and didn't seem like fans were buying into them as the actual finishes. In those cases, there was no build-up to a big finish, just kind of a limping home. Angle and Jordan's wins scored particularly high on the "What the fuck?" scale. And JBL's declaration of "I Quit" would have seemed a lot more believable if Cena was stalking him for a move that actually seemed like it might be more brutal than all the other things JBL already went through WITHOUT quitting.
    But let's maybe not dwell on that stuff.... these are things that occur to me after the fact, as I look back on last night and try to isolate recurring themes. And though I'd stand behind my general quibbles, the MAIN recurring theme that I should remind you of is: even if I wasn't riveted, I honestly did enjoy most of what I saw last night.
    I mean, three things; that's really all I can complain about. The two "piss-break" matches (Heidenreich/OJ and the tag title match) were snoozers, but they were short, and on a PPV that wrapped up about 15 minutes early, they were apparently a necessary evil to pad the show out. And then the third thing: all the Angle/Booker/Sharmell stuff. Even two of the Hooters Girls were rolling their eyes at that one, and they're generally very easy to entertain. [Note: you want to do the cheeseball Ritual Humiliation thing with Kurt after the match, fine, whatever... but then why wouldn't you have him win the match first, so he comes out of this with SOMETHING?]
    But beyond that: what wasn't to like? Or at least, what wasn't to tolerate? Show/Carlito was simple fun, and since I likes me that Carlito, I'm glad to see that WWE went the way they did there.... London/Chavo was about as good a Cruiserweight Title Match as we've seen in a year.... Booker/Angle, before the silliness at the end, was none-too-shabby, either...
    And then you hit the Big Two. First, Eddie and Rey had a great match. There was an intensity that had been missing from the WM match, and I was loving the way this felt like the latest chapter in a continuing saga, instead of as a stand-alone match. The way they worked counters/reversals, the way they teased the use of the ring steps, all that stuff... everything was flowing and fitting together perfectly. At least, till the end, when Eddie just blatantly used a chair in front of the ref. Huh. I guess this match was NOT about Eddie ending a losing streak: it was just about beating the shit out of Rey. At some level, I guess that does fit in, too... but am I so wrong for wishing we got a decisive finish? Although: maybe that's the beauty of the plan... fans wanting a match to the finish will boo Eddie for depriving them of that. [How big a blithering fanboy loser would it make me if I pointed out that just such a Fight To The Finish could be had on June 12?]
    And then closing out the show was a match that was at least the equal of Eddie/Rey. And MIGHT have just barely inched it out for Match of the Night. Cena and JBL used every gimmick and prop at their disposal, and delivered a 25 minute brawl that instantly doubles both men's "Very Good Match" Total to 2 apiece. Or perhaps I exaggerate. But if so, it's not by much. Apart and against more talented opponents, neither Cena nor JBL has a ton of great matches under his belt. But together, they sucked it up and managed to deliver a memorable affair. Good intensity, good use of the stipulation (and without making it too hokey with the mic checks throughout the match), and even some good creativity. A match like that is one that finally makes John Cena seem like a Champion after 7 weeks of merely possessing the belt. That's exactly what the doctor ordered.
    Final verdict has got to be a Thumbs Up. But it's kind of a distracted Thumbs Up as I'm already half-walking-away from you to go talk to somebody else. A "Yeah, I'll say Thumbs Up, but I ain't exactly itching to explain any more than I have to." If not for the grotesque blood-letting in the main event, I could bust out the old chestnut "Would have been a great show on a Thursday night." 
    And again: for the full results (and some post-show shenanigans), I encourage you to make use of Matt's Live, On-Site Judgment Day Recap.
  • While we're starting out with SmackDown!-brand talk, let's briefly go back to last week's "Big News": that SD! is being moved to Friday nights by UPN.
    Again, I reiterate: this is not nearly as big a deal as I gather some other sites are making it out to be. Then again, some other sites are predicated on making you click 30 different pages to get the same amount of news as you get in clicking one OO column, so maybe that has something to do with why some of these stories get all blown out of proportion sometimes? 
    Anyway, the deal is simple.... if I get one more e-mail with the phrase "Death Slot" from somebody pretending to know the TV business, I will have to start delivering eyeball punches. Yes, it's generally true that Friday nights are not a good night to reach a young, male demographic. But if you've paid even an iota of attention to wrestling ratings performance over the past 10 years (or even to OO columns where we've discussed this issue, albeit tangentially, quite a bit), then you'd know wrestling's audience is an odd one. With no exceptions, wrestling's audience will NEVER "travel" to another show on the same network; USA, Spike, and UPN have all found that out the hard way. You can't use wrestling to generate ratings for other shows. The corollary to that is simple: that wrestling's audience cares deeply about wrestling, but not about anything else. If you can't put two and two together and come up with "Wrestling's audience will follow wrestling to wherever it goes," then bravo for you: you're smarter than 80% of the e-mailers I've dealt with in the last 5 days.
    Wrestling's current audience size has been pretty well pared down, anyway, to the loyal fans. There's no big reason to care about catching a marginal subset of casual, mainstream fans on a "better TV night."  If you like wrestling, and assuming that the wrestling is good enough to warrant your attention, you'll find it and you'll watch it. Lotsa times, I don't go out till after 10 on Fridays, anyway... and if I do, I'm not retarded and I know how to operate my DVR. SmackDown!, regardless of night, will get watched by pretty much anybody who wants to watch it. To me, the onus is on WWE to deliver a product strong enough that 100% of the current audience is motivated to go through whatever minor inconveniences are required to record the show and watch it.
    I also have a ton of people mailing me about how a lot of UPN affiliates pre-empt UPN programming on Fridays in order to show local sports. Quick note on that: UPN affiliates make those deals to purposely pre-empt UPN's lowest-rated night. Come this fall when pre-empting Fridays will mean pre-empting a 3.4-rated episode of SD! instead of a 1.7-rated episode of "Star Trek," and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize UPN affiliates will start looking to other nights to pre-empt. And even if you do have SD! pre-empted, I again go back to my previous statement: you DO know how to operate a VCR, right? So do it, and catch the replay whenever it airs, dum dums.
    In a lot of ways, I think people are approaching this from a really silly perspective. They don't care that, with just a little bit of effort, they'll still get to see the show: they care about what the ratings are gonna be. And what business do YOU have caring about ratings to that extent? With the Monday Night Wars long since gone, I like keeping track of ratings just to see if there's any correlation between quality and ratings... but other than that, unless you own WWE stock, I'm not sure I understand why pestering me with doomsday prophecies about the "Death Slot" is important to you folks. Not only will SD! probably retain 90% or more of its audience, but even if they don't: they'll still be UPN's highest rated show, and after a year on Fridays is up, SD! will be shopped around to the highest bidder and there WILL be takers. So relax, OK?
    To me, if there really is a big story here, it's that this move confirms that SD! will not be on UPN come 2006's Fall Season. This is a move by UPN to start fortifying Thursday nights with an eye to the future. That is just good business. Friday nights might be a tough sell, but they know that WWE will provide a nice 12-month stopgap, and then they can worry about filling it in with something different after that.
    Actually: you want a SECOND thing that I realized is gonna be mildly inconvenient? This *will* mean that starting in the fall, I'll either have to start posting OO updates over the weekend, or otherwise, SD! Recaps won't get posted till Monday. *That* is kind of a pain in my ass waiting to happen...
    One last thing: a few readers have speculated that this could be a good thing.... less stiff competition on Fridays (that much is true), for one. And also, they think that if SD! is on Fridays, it could mean that SD! would air live, as both brands could adopt a "Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon" touring schedule, with both RAW and SD! being live. Which is a neat idea, but I don't believe that's in the cards; one concern might be that UPN likes having a taped show so that it can be well-bleeped. But another, more significant issue is that there are economies of scale involved in doing back-to-back TV tapings. You basically get both shows produced and only need the equipment and crew to be on the road for two consecutive days; a live SD! every week would mean more expenses.
  • Since ratings were kind of a subissue in that last bullet point, let me go back and run last week's numbers for you.... 

    RAW did a 4.3 cable rating last Monday. This is a nominal gain from the week before and ties RAW's 2005-to-date best. And though I wish I could glibly note that "and they did it without HHH," the numbers actually tell kind of a distressing story... RAW steadily gained viewers thoughout the show. Which means that the Hour Two which *I* (and most sound-minded fans) thought was absolute dreck didn't cause Joe Averagefan to tune out. Dammit. So the lesson WWE will learn is "More Viscera Sexually Molesting Lillian Garcia = Ratings." Fuck you, America, and Fuck your horrifyingly poor taste in almost all things!
    Meantime, while RAW was having a banner week, SD! took one right up the pooper. Last Thursday's show did a 2.8 broadcast rating, an abysmal rating for an only-slightly-less abysmal show. At least SD!'s number is easily explained: competition was fierce last Thursday night. You had season finales everywhere (including the HUGELY-rated Tarantino-directed CSI finale which I'm told featured an creepily-entertaining use of one of my only mild phobias: Fire Ants), and you also had the first primetime NBA Playoff Basketball on ABC (which wound up being Reggie Miller's farewell game) drawing more of the young male demo away from wrestling.
    Sweeps month is usually a pretty big deal, but not so much this time for WWE.... as outlined, their situation with UPN means that setting ad rates for Thursdays wasn't an issue this May. And with RAW switching back to USA Network in September, Spike doesn't care so much that RAW's suddenly doing bang-up numbers: it doesn't help them to sell any more advertising.
  • And as long as I'm covering all this TV industry crap that doesn't even take effect for months....
    Canucks may rest easy: when Monday Night Football moves to ESPN in 2006, it will NOT be picked up by your TSN. According to a few loyal Canadian readers who stick with me despite my good natured ribbing directed towards our cute little mascot country to the north, something called CHUM will air MNF, while TSN will continue airing RAW live on Mondays. 
    No pre-emptions, no time delays, no nothing, Canada. You're in the clear. Not that I'm assuming any of you were losing sleep over a possible schedule conflict in 2006...
    Also: one of these same readers joked that he's not sure how it'll work out, but he THINKS that SD! will continue to air on Thursdays in Canada this fall, and if so, then he wanted to be the first to thumb his nose at all us pitiable Yankees who have to wait till Fridays. Interesting if it pans out this way.... maybe what I'll need to do is find a SD! Recapper from north of the border, and that'll solve my problems?
  • To answer a bunch of other e-mails: no, Chris Benoit doesn't have a broken neck. I have NO fucking idea where that rumor got started, but it must have reached a point of critical mass, somehow, if I was hearing about it from you folks. 
    Benoit was just fine at RAW last week, and he made the tour of house shows this weekend, having Matches of the Night against Edge. Relax: he's fine.
  • Not so fine: Shawn Michaels, who missed another round of house shows this weekend following what was THOUGHT to be just a minor tweak to his knee about 10 days ago. Shawn was held off RAW last week with the "concussion" at the hands of Edge offered up as the excuse. That is also the excuse being used on house shows to explain his absence.
    At this point, there's no reason to suspect there's anything serious wrong with Shawn, since they might just be holding him back as a precaution... my instinct is that if there was something wrong, word would have trickled down by now, and thus: no news is good news.
  • In addition to the details announced by Vince McMahon last week on RAW, there are some new elements that have been published on WWE's website.
    Long story short: the format is essentially the exact same as last year, except that instead of doing it all in one night, they're going to do it over the course of eight nights. Both sides will receive five random lottery picks from the other brand (one per week, except the final week, when you get two), and trading between brands will be legal for the duration of the draft.
    I'm gonna have to take a big ol' "Wait and See" approach to this. I ended up liking last year's format, and thought it made for one very unique night...  spreading it out will do one of two things: dilute the whole concept so that none of it seems special, or it might allow WWE to do some neat little mini-story-arcs with some guys spending just 2 or 3 weeks on the other brand before getting traded back, and stuff like that. We'll start finding out which way it breaks on June 6.
  • Some TNA stuff....
    First, as briefly touched on last Friday, TNA has proudly announced that both AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels have been signed to 3-year contract extensions through 2008. This sounds good, but TNA's situation boils down to them not knowing if they're even gonna be around at the end of 2006 or not. The contracts are not exactly air-tight: Styles and Daniels are still free to work other indies or overseas tours as long as they (a) don't work on a national TV show, and (b) give top priority to any and all TNA bookings. 
    The agreements would more fairly be characterized as "If TNA continues to have a national TV presence for the next 3 years, Styles and Daniels are obligated to work for the company." And since whatever deal TNA works out in the next month or so will NOT be guaranteed for more than 12 months, I'm not so sure I see the point of looking ahead to AJ Styles headlining TNA PPVs in 2008.... baby steps, as there are a lot of hurdles to be overcome before Styles and Daniels complete these "3 year contracts."
    If anything, I *might* let myself get optimistic that TNA has an ace up their sleeve or something, with regards to their next TV contract. The clock is ticking on that front, but if they're locking in long-term contracts with talent, maybe a TV announcement is forthcoming, too? For whatever it's worth, my aside comment about having "a month" left to work out their TV situation was a bit generous...
    I thought that they were locked in on FSN through the end of June, but that's not the case. The deal for "Impact" expires in just 2 weeks. Two weeks. If TNA's next move isn't known when the next set of tapings is scheduled (May 31), they'll be left with two options: struggle through without national TV for weeks or months until they get a new deal (most likely with WGN), or re-up with FSN (which would be a minimum of a 6-month commitment, which would handcuff TNA in terms of jumping to a more-friendly timeslot/network). This could be a really sticky situation, and again: I want to HOPE that TNA recent contract moves means there's something that they know that they just haven't announced publicly yet.... because if they don't already have a place to air their TV shows starting June 1 right now, they're not gonna finish that deal up in time. They'll either be "going dark" or they'll be trapped into making a deal they don't want to to stay with FSN.
  • One guy who won't be a continuing part of TNA is Dallas Page. Although he's the one of that older crew who can still, to a large degree, perform at a high level, personality conflicts and TNA's desire to start focusing energies more on younger, homegrown talent spelled the end for Page.
    I can't confirm if this is true or not, but one source said that there was a lot of friction the day of the Hard Justice PPV and that Page through a hissy fit and demanded the finish of his match be rebooked to his specifications, which was pretty much the end of the end for him.
  • I guessed wrong: a week or so ago when I was last talking TNA, I guessed Styles vs. Jarrett vs. Abyss in an oddly-appropriate 3-man match for TNA's 3-year anniversary show.... but they've gone a different route: a 5-man match, with Monty Brown and a "Wild Card" joining the other three.
    Note: was it just me, or did AJ flub a line in his backstage skit with Dusty and give away that the Wild Card would be Raven? Or am I just nitpicking because I just don't find Styles to be all that compelling a talker. He sounds like a cliche-spewing NASCAR driver. And there ain't nothing cool slow-witted, southern-drawling left-turn artists...
  • Oh, I guess if TNA's the topic, I need to at least mention this: some little group called NWA-Ohio is claiming that their head booker has made an offer to buy controlling ownership of TNA away from Panda Energy.
    I, ummmm.... don't know what to say. You can go to NWAOhio.com and see for yourself the claim. And then you can notice the estimated budget of NWAOhio.com. And then you can ask yourself, "Where is this podunk promotion gonna get that kind of money?". And then you do like me and file it under "forget I ever read this, because it can't be serious."
    For whatever it's worth, I have heard nothing except positive things about Panda Energy's commitment to TNA.... now, some of the REASONS why they are committed get kind of shady, depending on who you talk to, but committed they are. So as long as they don't end up going all Enron, Panda Energy will probably continue allowing TNA to lose money hand-over-fist, and is NOT looking for a buyer.
  • Some folks have been asking if Gangrel's recent appearances for OVW are just him taking indie bookings, or if he's signed a WWE developmental contract. My understanding is that it's the latter, and WWE has him down there working his way back into a little better shape before they put him on TV.
    The guy never really blew me away inside the ring during his first WWF stint (where he was usually outclassed by his minions, Edge and Christian)... but "look" counts for something, and Gangrel had that in spades. Also: one of the coolest ring entrances ever.
    Another thought: has anybody seen Luna Vachon lately? I mean, I know she's at least Ivory's age, but the girl could actually wrestle. If she came along with her husband Gangrel, that might not be an entirely sucky thing for RAW.
    But what am I talking about? If Molly Holly was a fish out of water because she would only portion out her hotness in as demure and classy a way possible, then a chick like Luna Vachon (who gives not a shit about demure anything, and just wants to scare the crap out of you with face paint, tattoos, piercings, and a bleach blonde mohawk) is NOT gonna fit into WWE's current scheme of vapid, useless Eye Candy Divas. I'm not saying there aren't some types out there whose schlongs would be stiffened by Luna's unique presentation, but they aren't the 13-year-old demographic that WWE seems intent on marketing to with its women. So scratch that idea.... what am I doing, anyway, talking about a wrestling company possibly hiring a woman who can wrestle?
  • Sabu, thought by some to be a huge question mark for the upcoming weekend of ECW Reunion shows, made his first wrestling appearance since last fall over the weekend in Michigan. Last seen in TNA, Sabu was sidelined with various health-issues, and some weren't sure if he'd be back in time for the pair of ECW shows.... this should put those fears to rest.
    He may not be the Sabu of 10 years ago, but what do you expect? His last work in TNA pretty much looked like he was still doing all his old signature spots, but just at about three-quarters speed. And it's seeing things like that which makes me realize that maybe WWE's "slow it down" philosophy ain't all bad. I mean: it's a rough job and if you can't deal with aches and pains, maybe it's not the one for you... but nobody should have to pay prices like the Dynamite Kid did, and which Sabu seems to be on the brink of paying.
  • Following up on something I wrote last week: the WWE version of the ECW Reunion will, unlike Shane Douglas' "Hardcore Homecoming" show, not feature so much in the way of an announced card. Instead, they'll do more of an Homage to ECW Arena Shows, where fans knew one or two major matches or issues to be settled, but then the rest of the night was seemingly impromptu and on-the-fly, and interviews seamlessly segueing into matches and then transitioning smoothly into angles and so forth...
    That's what Dreamer and Heyman are wanting to do with the One Night Stand PPV, and they're being given pretty much free reign by WWE to create the show in their image. You've already seen the "lo-fi" style of the ECW PPV promo airing on WWE TV, and Fantasy Booking involving Beulah McGuillicutty being the one to finally kick Eric Bischoff's ass in last week's RAW Recap aside, I'm betting a body part that we'll be in for MORE "lo-fi" at the PPV itself, including the old standard "Lights Out" trick.
    I know some will scoff at the possibility of there being only 1 or 2 announced matches, and wonder, "Why should I buy this show?"... and the answer is simple: BECAUSE there are only 1 or 2 announced matches, and you simply don't know what's gonna happen. But you know it'll be good. Unlike all these ubiquitous WWE PPVs, where it seems like maybe only 2-out-of-5 deserve to exist, and the others seem sort of flat and predictable, going into a PPV and genuinely having no idea what might happen is sort of refreshing. To me, anyway.
    And ECW can pull it off because fans know that no matter what happens, it's going to feature only the best possible talent, and that it'd be hard to find combinations that would suck. Contrast that with how, if RAW or SD! did a "we're not telling you in advance" PPV, you'd still just have that sense of dread that Chris Masters or Heidenreich or Snitsky or Randy Orton or Orlando Jordan or Kenzo Suzuki might show up and waste your time. No fears like that in terms of an ECW show.
  • It's Monday, right? I guess before I close up shop, that means doing a little bit of previewing of tonight's Big Night of TV Action....
    I'm guessing that Jack saves the world. Just a hunch. I think he'll do something selfless to atone for the sins of this season, and he'll save Tony. I also think that chick who nabbed Tony will die (I didn't even know until after the show last week -- I'm kind of retarded on pre-this-season "24" -- but if she's a recurring villain and this is her first face-to-face with Jack after 4 seasons and her anonymity is shot, I'm guessing she's toast; too bad... why must the cute ones invariably be so evil?). I figure there's one more Secret Bad Guy to be revealed, and my money's on somebody in the Presidential Bunker. I have even Fantasy Booked the perfect ending of the season, where after preventing the nuclear missile from exploding, the B-plot from a few episodes ago kicks back in and Jack ends the season heading to a Chinese Prison (another selfless act)... from that point, Season 5 practically writes itself! 
    Oh, wait: you want me to talk about RAW, don't you? OK, I guess I'll watch that, too, tonight. But don't act surprised if I tell you that I'm less than enthused.
    Big story will HAVE to be getting some kind of explanation out of Edge and Lita. One of the big reasons why I'm not a fan of the on-screen pairing is simply because of the difficulty I'm having piecing together a logical timeline and set of motivations for them. We not only have to figure out a good reason WHY they did this thing, but WHY they did it WHEN they did. I'm in too big a rush to explain this all clearly, but suffice it to say that when Kane vs. Edge turned out to be the final match of a 3-week tournament, that kind of limits Edge and Lita's plotting to ONE WEEK. And yet, the hints between them go back 3 weeks. And you KNOW the crowd is gonna be at their "You screwed Matt" best, reminding us all that it technically goes back months. The "whens" are as confusing as the "whys" in this one.
    Which means it's HUGE for Edge and Lita to have some Grade A Material tonight to establish exactly what their partnership is all about. No just trying to be cutesy and making it be a story where Edge steals Lita away from another man just because he's a dick. No Lita playing the "I want to be with a Real Champion, not a loser like Kane" card, since that defies all logic and causality (if Kane's a loser, then why'd she wait until he was about to be a winner versus Edge before she turned on him; if she wanted to be with a winner, why not just ride Kane until he really did lose?). It's a prickly situation, and I'm not 100% sure that there's an elegant way out of it. Again: this seems like something WWE just rushed into, only considering the short term issues (i.e. how fans are reacting to Edge/Lita lately, even though those reaction have actually been noticeably diminishing the last few weeks), instead of plotting this to have long term legs.
    But again: even with my concerns laid out on the table here, I still give RAW one night to explain this to my satisfaction. Just because *I* can't think of the right way to do it doesn't mean it can't be done. So prove me wrong, Creative Team Unit, prove me wrong.
    And of course Edge figures prominently into tonight's main event match, too. Although I'm more interested in how the Big Promo plays out, let's not lose sight of the fact that Batista's World Title is on the line tonight. Edge will have Lita, a crutch, and a briefcase with him, and still I'd tend to think his chances of winning the title are slim to none. This match should be the START of something between the two, and the existence of a second "money in the bank" title shot for Edge means that  he can't win it on the first try. Mostly, I'll just cross my fingers and hope that the two get on the same page and have a solid match. Batista's not been handed the best opposition in his RAW matches the last few months, but hopefully Edge will get the best out of him. And if not: as outlined above, there are enough extracurricular issues to keep things exciting.
    One possible extracurricular: what if Batista is not alone tonight? His dynamic with Ric Flair last week sure seemed to suggest that Batista may have reconnected with his one-time mentor. Flair countering Lita might be just what the doctor ordered. Not only in terms of adding more drama to this match tonight, but also in terms of developing the Batista/Flair storyline over the next few weeks. I fully expect to see a Batista/Flair vs. Christian/Tomko match here on RAW soon... and in fact, ALL these pieces could tie together in tonight's main event, since Edge and Christian have an established relationship, and Christian/Tomko could hit the scene if Flair shows up. A little creativity, and you can weave all these characters together tonight and end up with multiple scenarios for coming weeks involving various tenuous partnerships and possible tag and singles matches. And that, my friends, is what you need to have to do sustainable episodic television.
    After all this stuff that kind of ties together, there are a few other issues to be dealt with....
    Triple H's absence will, god willing, continue... at least, it will if they really want us to believe in the storyline, and if they want us to get vested in the Flair/Batista story. I still say you add to the "realism" of it by having HHH make a cameo or two on SD!, just as a way of vaguely-threatening Eric Bischoff, but whatever: absence from RAW is enough for me.
    Whatever is next for Chris Jericho, I'm hoping we get a good long look at it tonight. Heel turn? Possibly. Or maybe it's that much more subtle "guy who is repressing and rationalizing all his recent losses and making lame excuses for them, and who fans want to see get back on his feet" thing... in either case, it's looking like Shelton Benjamin will be front-and-center: either as the guy Jericho eventually goes ballistic upon, or as the guy who steps up and becomes Jericho's #1 Cheerleader (even if it takes some Tough Love).
    Eric Bischoff's anti-ECW policy should be made a thread woven throughout the entire show. I'd love to see some battlelines drawn up, with some guys talking positively about ECW, and maybe some of Bischoff's "hand-picked troops" talking bad. Although to be honest: who besides Coach and Lawler really fit the bill as being rabidly anti-ECW? I'm so confident that Bischoff's Ritual Humiliation will be a huge part of the ECW PPV, I just want to make sure they set it up perfectly: there's enough "real" about Bischoff's opinions regarding ECW that I don't want to see it get too bogged down in cheesy, writer-y stuff like recruiting La Resistance to be on his team for no good reason. Keep it simple, keep it real.
    While Bischoff's not scheming against Paul Heyman, we also need to keep developing Draft Lottery subplots. Who wants to stay, who wants to go, who Bischoff might be willing to trade, all kinds of stuff. And speaking of La Resistance: their strange mini-rivalry of a two weeks ago planted the notion that they might split up in my head. Rene Dupree still uses the La Resistance March as his theme song on SD!, so I'm wondering if maybe they are setting us up for a reshuffling of the La Resistance line-up?
    The tag champs are without opposition again, following their easy dispatching of Simon/Maven last week. Just as well. I'm wondering if maybe Hassan and Daivari's win over Jericho/Shelton last week doesn't propel them into tag title contention. Now maybe *that* would be something worth paying attention to in the tag ranks... and I think I like this idea better than Hassan being the guy to go after Shelton's IC Title, too.
    And of course: both Viscera and Chris Masters will waste vast chunks of our time with crap that cause me to experience physical pain in my Fast-Forwarding Finger. It always cramps up when it knows there's Unmitigated Shit on my TV, but I won't let it punch the button. Such is life for the guy who has to recap the show for you. I assume we get the next chapter of Viscera and Lillian's hot romance (did she visit Vis' hotel room? or more accurately: does anybody care if she did or didn't?), and also of Masters and Stevie Richards' feud (which will, inevitably, end with Richards putting that no-talent toolbox over, and with me dying a little bit inside).
    So whether it's the fate of the world in Jack Bauer's hands, or the fate of the World Title in Edge and Batista's hands, you folks have plenty on your TV Plate tonight. Check out RAW, if it is your wont. And tomorrow, you know how OO rolls: we'll have the finest RAW Recap In All The Land, detailed enough to be of use to those of you who skipped RAW but laden with enough clever analyticousity to be a gut-bustingly funny read for those who already saw the show. Be sure to check that out.
    I'll see you then, kids.... 

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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