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RAW, TNA, House Show Schedule Changes,
Michaels Update, and MORE
May 30, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Good lord... I know you people probably don't need to hear any more about my prodigious drinking ability. But man alive am I more appreciative than ever of the Hard Liquor.
That's because yesterday was one of my circle of friends' Annual Gatherings. People I've known since second grade, all getting together for basketball, burgers, and beer. And this goes on all day.

And at some point, I think my rigorous Whiskey Training caused me to lose my ability to handle beer in those kinds of

quantities. Because when I do my usual drinking, I may consume copious amounts of bourbon, but the next morning is never anything worse than a headache. Not only do I have my heroic 8-plus-year non-vomit streak intact, but I've trained myself to not really be that obnoxiously-whiny of a hangover guy. Just get me a glass of water and usually, and I'll be fine in a couple hours. 

Not so after 10 hours of non-stop beer drinking though. This morning, my head isn't the only thing that hurts. I think, even this far after the drinking, I might have as much as 18 cubic yards of methane gas that needs to be expelled. And I'm just crossing my fingers that my digestive tract settles down here, soon, since I got a dinner thing later on tonight... who'da thunk it? The Mighty, Whiskey-Swilling Rick brought down by beer. 

Granted, it was probably by 18 beers, assuming I was doing about 2 beers per hour before slowing down a bit towards the end, which ain't too shabby. But I *used* to be able to do that back in college without needing a Full Body Recovery Day. I guess I'm either getting old, or my hard-earned Immunity to Bourbon has somehow altered my physiology.

So in any case, I stand (well, sit) before you not entirely at 100%. I also sit before you with limited time before I need to head out for the Finale to Memorial Day Weekend. And as luck would have it, I sit before you with almost ZERO really high quality wrestling news. So if ever there was a day begging for a half-assing, this is it.

Prepare to be underwhelmed: 

  • Tonight's RAW marks the Very Last Time Ever that the current roster will be intact... because next week marks the beginning of the Draft Lottery.
    Well, I actually hyperbolize... because the whole roster will still be together next Monday, since SD! won't make their first pick off the RAW roster till next Thursday, but you get the idea, right? My point is that RAW should try to make a big deal out of the possible impending end to certain alliances and certain feuds, and play up the potential for roster chaos tonight.
    Something not unlike what SD! did last week might be cool: put a "dream match" up for grabs in some manner, and the winner can name his opponent and his stipulation before potentially being shifted over to the other brand. The only thing I'd request? That it not end as monumentally retardedly as SD!'s version (where Kurt Angle won a Dream Match, and picked Booker T's wife as his opponent; so dumb).
    And if you don't play up that gimmick, the other pretty exciting thing RAW's got going for it is how Eric Bischoff intends to torpedo the ECW PPV. Those who are ECW Loyalists (like Benoit, Jericho, Tajiri, etc.) could find themselves the target of Bischoff's ire, for one. And for two, Bischoff has spent weeks talking about his "hand-picked group of volunteers" who will go to the ECW PPV with him... but as of now, I don't see anyone much beyond Coach and Lawler fitting in with Bischoff's irrational hatred of ECW. Depending on exactly what they intend to do with both RAW and SD! contingents at the PPV, RAW should have at least one heavy-hitter commensurate with Kurt Angle, don't you think? 
    Last week's ECW Funeral was the hands-down highlight of the show, and it did exactly what it needed to do: it told a slightly-fictionalized version of real-life events in a way that doesn't just scratch the informed smart fans where they itch, but which also gives casual fans who never saw an ECW match in their lives a reason to think ECW might be pretty cool. I'm hoping for more of the same tonight, that they manage to keep it simple and semi-real, and don't go overboard... no watering it down by having Bischoff resort to B-level Heat Guys, no over-Hollywoodization (a la that completely cheesy Flaming Wreath last week), just simple, stripped-down, intense storytelling.
    After that, I guess another thing we have to look forward to tonight will be the Return of Triple H. Oy. I'll probably get home a little after the start of RAW tonight, but instead of using that as my Time Shift, I might just skip the opening 20 minutes of the show entirely. Because you KNOW it's gonna be nothing but HHH's Windbaggery. And after the logic- and continuity-decimating way he re-arrivened last week, I'm not expecting what HHH has to say to be in any way compelling. Check this out...
    Three weeks ago: HHH demands another rematch against Batista, but Batista's not interested, saying that he's already proven himself against HHH and now it's on to frying other fish. So HHH throws a hissy fit and "quits" RAW in an attempt to prove that the show needs him and needs to kowtow to his every demand.
    Two weeks ago: HHH actually never appears on RAW. RAW hits a year-to-date high rating in his absence.
    One week ago: after a grand total of one week away, HHH returns to attack Batista, and utters the line, "You want to fight me? Let's make it Hell in the Cell." The fuck? Batista does NOT want a match against HHH, as established two week before, so HHH's line was mind-bendingly incongruous. Instead of doing anything interesting with the Batista/Flair dynamic, instead of doing anything to actually convince us that HHH might be on tilt and considering leaving RAW forever (even one SD! cameo might have lent some heft to his RAW walk-out, but of course, this never happened), instead of trying to create a reason for a HHH/Batista Hell in the Cell match that might actually have some relation to the storyline that preceded it, they just cart HHH out there to say "So I have spoken, and so it shall be." Just the most ham-handed, uncreative laziness imaginable. Oh, and also: for HHH's big return, RAW's rating dropped over half a point.
    Snide comments about RAW doing a big rating, sans HHH, and then dropping down well below recent averages upon his return aside... I continue to be massively underwhelmed by how WWE is handling Batista and how they're going on the fifth month of this Batista/HHH feud and despite it being a potential goldmine for the company, they have never once spent more than 2 consecutive weeks getting it right. Case in point: they spent two weeks laying the foundation for a very cool new dynamic between Batista and Ric Flair. There were TONS of cool things you could do (including a MUCH more logical and compelling way to set up the Batista/HHH HitC match), but instead of exploring those, WWE just inserts its head into its own ass and has HHH return to TV too soon, forcing Flair to "turn" on Batista way too soon, and thus, a month worth of possibilities is flushed down the toilet in the course of about 2 thudtastic minutes.
    And so it is thus that we have a 15-minute HHH promo staring us in the face tonight. Instead of staying off TV to make us believe in his walk out, to make us CARE about his walk-out, he's back. And he's arbitrarily granting himself title shots. Keeping in mind that I'm not one of these jack-off HHHaters, and that I'm not trying so much to cast aspersions on HHH's backstage wrangling as much as I'm pointing out massive Creative Team Missteps, I honestly think that there were COOL ways to set up Batista/HHH 3, and that this is none of them.  Tonight: HHH will talk (and talk, and talk) and Batista will be obligated to listen and then to accept the Hell in the Cell challenge on the grounds that the promotional posters are already printed up. Honestly: that reason is about a billion times more internally-consistent than anything WWE served up as part of this storyline. 
    The difference between making fans WANT a match, and making it so that they EXPECT it as the obvious and not-quite-interesting outcome of a lazy storyline has never been more apparent. Sure, when Batista accepts the match tonight, there will be a mild pop... but if you tell the story right, you can get more than the Token Crowd Reaction: you could've left people salivating for the match. Oh well.
    Next big thing tonight: the Chris Jericho/Shelton Benjamin not-quite-a-feud should continue. The two pretty much carried all of Hour One of RAW last week with a pair of matches and then the trio of promos/skits... and I see no reason to mess with a good thing: if it's working, serve up more of the same! Jericho's Rock Star Attitude has a ton of possibilities ranging from Full-on Heel Turn to Babyface Who Has Lost His Passion, and in any case along that continuum, Shelton figures to be a primary figure: either as the guy Jericho feuds with as he comes to terms with his Inner Asshole, or as the guy who needs to Cheerlead Jericho back to his old self even if it takes a little tough love. I remain attached to the latter idea (where Jericho becomes a more fully-formed and complex character who is hiding behind the Rock Star Gimmick as a way to rationalize away failure), not only because it's just a more interesting path than a straight heel-turn, but also because it's only been a little over a year since Jericho really finalized his face-turn, anyway, and I'm not too big a fan of unnecessary flip-flopping. 
    But no matter what direction they're going
    , the simple fact is that Jericho and Shelton are both quite awesome, and thus, will bring the entertainment for whatever segments with which they are entrusted. Which will hopefully be at least as many this week as last week.
    Although I'm personally quite unimpressed with how it seems to be going, an Edge/Kane feud seems an inevitability at this point. Edge and Lita didn't exactly establish the most sensible or logically-tight reasons for their coupling last week, but to their credit, they masked that by just playing their characters as over-the-top horny as they could. Like I said last week: it's kind of the same thing that I thought would have made the Orton/Stacy couple Mucho Hated if they'd wanted to go that route, so as far as Edge and Lita go: Viva la Cheap Heat, you magnificent bastards! Kane also made up for having pretty shitty material to work with by playing his character as over-the-top as he could. Problem was, he played it as an over-the-top whiny little puss. Not only does nobody like a babyface who cries, there's a bigger issue at play here: nobody likes Stupid Drama, and by not rising above the lame, daytime-TV-caliber trailer-park crap that nobody (with half-a-brain) cares about or relates to, Kane became RAW's biggest Drama Queen last week. 
    Kane threatens to become everything that made Lita, herself, such a completely unsympathetic and obnoxious character last summer. So something shitty happened, big deal: if you're a mature and well-balanced person, you just grow a spine, you deal with it, and then you get back to bidness. You don't sit around whining about it on national TV and expect anyone to care. Mind over matter and all that. I simply have no patience for tortured souls or hyperdramatic wussbags, not even if they are fictional characters, and from the way fans reacted to Kane last week, I'm guessing I'm in the majority here. The sooner we get to Bad-ass Revengening Kane, the sooner we get past the trailer-park drama, the better. Note: I don't care if Kane does ditch the whiny bitch act, but they had by christ better NOT put Trish Stratus with Kane when she returns. To keep this storyline out of the realm of the retarded and implausible, Trish should stay as far away from Kane as possible and let her issue with Lita develop along less-silly lines.
    A potentially incendiary situation: RAW tonight is in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I can only assume that Vince will probably have the good sense to keep himself off TV for the first time in a few weeks, since if there's one place in Canuckland where they are even MORE attached to the events of 1997 than Montreal, it'll be Calgary. Earl Hebner might have to take the night off, too, lest the reaction to him distract from the match he's supposed to be officiating. Other than that, being in Bret Hart's hometown SHOULD just mean the usual bit of Bizarro Tendencies... I'd wager that Jericho, no matter how big a dick he is tonight, will probably get cheered over Shelton. If Christian makes an appearance, he may well be worshipped as a minor deity. It'd be insane to not come up with some quality showcase for Benoit. I think pretty much the only Canadian who stands to get booed tonight should be Edge, just by virtue of his storyline and his ability to exude The Prick; but again, given the mishandling of Kane last week, even that is not necessarily engraved in stone.
    Also: I know that being in Calgary will set many smarky wangs a-plumpening with visions of pink and black. You poor, poor schmucks. I mean, so sure Vince and Bret are on speaking terms again, but c'mon: how and where would Bret fit into current WWE storylines, and if you were gonna cart him out, don't you think they'd promote it ahead of time in order to score the big ratings? Now: if you want a little surprise, I *would* be a huge fan of dusting off Calgary's own Lance Storm. He could just be backstage, hanging out with old friends, since as far as anybody knows, he still lives in Calgary... but then you could use that as a springboard to set up a little mini-story behind the Jericho vs. Storm match that'll take place at the ECW PPV. I think that would be a really neat little touch, and as a bonus, it's completely plausible and do-able. As Jericho's first tag team partner, Storm would be a guy who would fit in perfectly with the storyline of trying to light a fire under Y2J's ass, and that could be all it takes to clue casual fans into their history before the ECW PPV. Simple, elegant, and a fun little surprise: of course, that means it will not happen.
    I think those are the key issues that RAW's got simmering right now. There are a lot of people not being properly utilized on the show lately, including Chris Benoit, Tajiri/William Regal, your Tag Team Champions, and so forth.... which makes it all the more frustrating that we'll almost certainly be subjected to lengthy segments featuring both Chris Masters and Viscera again tonight. Because WWE either is braindead or hates me.
    Seriously: I re-assert my belief that if you are even moderately amused by either of Viscera's spirit-crushingly awful 15-minute skits the past two weeks, then you are Part of the Problem. If you can not just endure, but EMBRACE, something that completely asinine, you really should just go play in traffic for the good of the rest of society. And Masters? I can't even begin to count the ways in which he simply has no business on TV. He's never done or said anything interesting. Ever. Hell, he's never even done a single interesting WRESTLING MOVE. He is the human fast-forward button, and in many ways, strikes me as the manifestation of WWE's hard-on for pretending it's 1985 again. But it's not 1985, WWE, and full nelsons executed by chemically-enhanced, marble-mouthed male bimbos attempting to get cheap heat by using flaccid stand-by lines stamped with "Best if Used Before November 1986" are not going to equal ratings. And yet, he remains on TV.
    Luckily, I *will* be able to exercise my fast-forward options tonight, if I feel like it. Because I won't be recapping the show this week, and thus can let my Attention to Detail slide back down a few notches. Erin Anderson has graciously decided to help accommodate me this week by agreeing to handle the Recap after a series of High Level Negotiations (read: Me unsmoothly blurting out "Hey, you should do the recap this week" in the middle of a conversation, on the grounds that I deserve to enjoy Erin's summer vacation and to put it good use for my own selfish purposes). The Broad may even have a little something special/different in mind, depending on how the show turns out. Or possibly depending on the proximity of rum. I'm not entirely sure which will be the more important mitigating factor. But no matter how it turns out, I encourage you to come on back and enjoy OO's predictably-excellent RAW Coverage tomorrow.
  • Something I failed to mention last week in the schedule shake-up that resulted in me taking Wednesday off...
    RAW's rating last week was a 3.6 cable rating. That is a nosedive of 0.7 from the previous week's year-to-date high, and is also significantly below RAW's year-to-date average. In fact, the 3.6 would be 2005's lowest rating to date if not for the small number earned for New Years' Weekend's show. 
    So: from tying the year's best rating to almost scoring the year's worst all in one week. That's actually a VERY interesting development, and could be indicative of the mainstream audience's tastes being a bit better than I thought.  
    Because as we've talked about here for years, ratings are, to a large degree, a reactive metric in terms of gauging audience interest in particular talents or storylines. If RAW scores a 4.3 one week, that doesn't mean that 4.3 ratings points worth of people ENJOYED what they saw; it merely means they were watching. What you can measure in the following weeks is how much of that 4.3 is retained... and if you retain all of it, THEN that means you are onto something and have a creative direction that people appreciate. But if you lose 17% of your audience the next week? Maybe that means that folks weren't so impressed by what they saw, and didn't bother coming back for more.

    I don't want to get into a whole big thing here, since lord knows I've talked about this phenomenon enough in the last 5-6 years, but it's just something to think about when you're contemplating using a 4.3 rating to justify horseshit like Big Sexy Viscera, or when you read about ratings swings on other websites. [For instance, I've long thought Dave Meltzer's cumulative quarter-hour thingie was a particularly cute-but-absolutely-useless tool. Because what happens in the preceding QH is at least as important in determining the rating for the following QH as what happens in that following QH. Ratings swings from QH to QH are just as reflexive as the ones from week-to-week.]
  • A little schedule shake-up for SD! brand shows next weekend: WWE has cancelled a Sunday night show in Wisconsin, and moved a planned Monday night show in Iowa up a day to Sunday night. The particulars of what towns these are don't matter so much...
    What matters is that this means the SD! crew is now available to be at RAW next Monday night at the start of the Draft Lottery. Personally, I think that opens up a bunch of cool possibilities, and kinda hope that this is the reason they shuffled the schedule around. Since they've sapped the Bigness of the lottery by spreading it out over a month, at least kicking the thing off with a bang would be cool, and having both rosters assembled next Monday would fit the bill. Of note: RAW also has two "SuperShow" joint tapings in June, so those are two more Mondays out of the four where both rosters will be available.
    Then again: there might be no reason behind the schedule changes than simple Poor Ticket Sales. It's not like WWE house show business is going gangbusters, and they actually do end up canceling/postponing 2-3 shows per month, it seems. It's just that most of those alterations don't have any interesting subplot like this one does.... this'll just be a little something something to keep in mind come next Monday.
  • Shawn Michaels missed another round of house shows over the weekend, and his health status remains remarkably cloudy. What was thought to just be a mildly tweaked knee has now turned into three missed weekends, and 2 missed episodes of RAW.
    Luckily, there was a solid storyline justification for Michaels' absence established in his last appearance on RAW, as he suffered a "concussion" at the hands of Edge. But that excuse has a limited shelf-life, since "concussions" in wrestling tend to be used as justification for missing maybe one week (or if you're Randy Orton, justification for going out and having even-shittier-than-usual slow-motion matches while under the effects of the injury).
    Last week, my thought process was that, in the absence of any reliable updates on Michaels' condition, that probably meant that he was doing OK and just being kept out as a precautionary thing. "Nothing spreads faster than bad news," says the proverb. I'd like to continue thinking that "no news is good news," but at this point, who can say for sure?
    One thing: if Michaels is absent from RAW tonight, I wouldn't necessarily read too much into that. Again: being in Calgary might not be the best thing for Shawn. So if there's not a really important storyline reason for him to get back on TV, this would be a week where HBK might just be invited to stay at home.
  • Following up on the possibility that TNA could be showing up on WGN on Monday nights....
    I'd been mentioning how WGN would mean TNA would be hit by pre-emptions for baseball and basketball... but a reader wrote in and helpfully supplied that, after scanning the Cubs schedule for the rest of the season, the only Monday night games that would pre-empt TNA on WGN would be on July 4 and August 8.
    That's actually not too hateful at all.
    And for whatever it's worth, conventional wisdom still seems to be that the TNA/WGN deal is actually gonna be done in time for TNA to debut on Monday, June 20 (three weeks from tonight). Other than the strengthening buzz that this an inevitability, pretty much all the other details I talked about on Friday (including the Mon/Tues. tapings schedule, the starting out in Orlando but hoping to expand, etc.) seemed to be on target, and match up with the latest word on the street.
  • I think that's all I got today. And even if it wasn't, that's all the time I got for today, so I'm gonna get on outta here.
    You'll be in Erin's capable hands tomorrow, but then Wednesday, I'll be back. See you then, folks.

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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