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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
SmackDown! Recap and Weekend News
June 3, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I threatened on Wednesday that it might come to this.... and it has.

So today, it's me covering the SD! Recap. But there's also a few other newsy things to do, so you know the drill: we do a Column In Two Parts. First will be the Best Damned SD! Recap in All The Land (good thing I got a break on Monday, eh?), and   

then at the bottom of the page, I'll hit the newsbites. I suggest you enjoy the both, but if you're only here for one or the other, at least now you know where to look to scratch your itch.

Enjoy....

SmackDown! Recap

Well, on one hand, it's nice that the last two times I've had to handle SmackDown! Recappening, I've had that week's RAW off to preserve my strength (and my patience)... but what's not so nice is that I seem to get stuck with not exactly the strongest Thursday night shows.

To wit: last night, I got a completely Eddie/Rey-Free 2 hours; the two best reasons to watch this show were completely absent. Ouch. And I got Bob Fricking Holly wrestling in the night's longest match. Double ouch. And Kurt Angle and Sharmell? Take that double ouch and multiply by 20, cuz that was just shitty fucking television and is perfect example of why so many people roll their eyeballs at you if you dare admit in public that you watch wrestling. If they knew I was coming to Thursday this week, I'd really have appreciated a show that didn't seem to alternate between tolerable directionlessness and Pure Suck.

Whether they served up a good show or not, though, you know the OO Ethic: our recaps are here to make the good shows great, and when necessary, we'll try to make the shitty shows tolerable. So strap in and let me try to spin you a yarn about last night's show that should, if I do my job, easily trump the show itself. Improving WWE's Product for them, and Free of Charge, to boot: that's just how we roll here at the Double-O....

Video Package: Last week, stuff happened, and as a result, tonight we get Kurt Angle vs. Booker T's wife, Sharmell. Whee?

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we are taped as taped can be from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Tazz and Cole take a moment to welcome us to the show, but anytime said "welcome" includes mention of an Angle vs. Sharmell match, it strikes me as more an invitation to leave. But whatever: it's gonna happen, and we cain't stop it. So let's just get on with the show....

Carlito's Cabana: The OMG CONTINUITY~! Edition

Carlito, accompanied by Matt Morgan, is in the ring and ready to make some headlines... but first, he takes the live audience on a little journey: he fires them up by talking about how this isn't the United States, this is EDMONTON, dammit! [Cheers] He repeats this a few times, and the dumb Canucks fall for it, hook, line, and sinker until Carlito reveals that the reason why Edmonton is significant is because it's the LEAST COOLEST CITY IN NORTH AMERICA~! ZING~! [And while the crowd is booing, Carlito even hits a little punchline for his own amusement: "And I've been to Wyoming." Ha! So have I, Carlito. So have I.]

Anyway, with the crowd thus reminded NOT to cheer for Carlito even if he is probably one of 5-6 defensible reasons to watch SmackDown! at this point, he launches into a second tangent: talking about the Big Show. With footage from last week for illustrative purposes, Carlito announces that Big Show was destroyed at the hands of Matt Morgan and will not be here tonight. Carlito opines that Matt Morgan owns the Big Show.

Which is his segue to introducing his guest tonight. Because tonight's guest is owned by Carlito. Tonight's guest is the man Carlito beat for the US Title on Carlito's first night in WWE. Tonight's guest is John Cena. So out comes Cena (in an old school Gretsky Oilers' jersey to insure the cheapest of pops), and whatever good was done by Carlito remembering that he beat Cena and thus might be able to do it again was undone by Cole, who went on a 30 second riff about how so much has changed since Carlito beat Cena, and that this isn't the same John Cena that Carlito beat 8 months ago. Way to be Cole: it's not like Cena needs your lips planted firmly around the base of his schlong, but you did it anyway, and in so doing you cut Carlito off at the knees in the eyes of the impressionable majority of viewers.

Cena's first order of business is to make fun of the Cabana's props, including a "7 foot tall stuttering palm tree." And while Morgan tries to spit out that he is not a "P-p-p-p," Cena does a really annoying and fakely-timed thing where he just starts rattling off non sequiturs that start with "P." But instead of doing it naturally and the funny way (which would be to slowly rattling off the list, acting like he was actually taunting Morgan by pretending to guess the real word; I can't explain it, but that's probably because comedic timing isn't something that can be distilled down to words very easily), Cena just went through his list at Warp 8, which made it seem kinda annoying and scripted. And also: less funny.

Morgan finally spat out that he's not a palm tree, which meant it was time for Cena to go to Allegedly Funny Riff #2: he called Morgan a 7-foot tall "Michael Cole Wannabe." For his evidence, Cena noted the goatee. And the thinning black hair. And then (because if you're gonna steal from the Rock, you might as well steal one of the Rock's more annoying tricks, right?), he made up something about how both Cole and Morgan enjoy getting oiled up and wearing spandex. Ha? Sadly, the one truly funny thing he could have said here was not touched: he could have noted how both Morgan and Cole are both just about equally eloquent and engaging public speakers. But no: that one doesn't happen. 

Cena finally turns his attention to Carlito, and announces, "Sorry dude, but you're not cool." Um, clownboy, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, or something, OK? Granted, the things Cena pointed out about Carlito were, indeed, uncool (the pink shirt he was wearing, the fruit he puts in his drinks, et al), but somehow, coming from a Serial Panderer like Cena, the dissertation on Cool lost a lot of its gravitas.

This, of course, sent Carlito into an indignant semi-rage. He again reminded us all that he beat Cena on his first night on SD!, and went so far as to say that the only reason Cena is the WWE Champ is because he hasn't defended it yet against Carlito. And it's not just Carlito that Cena has to worry about because the Draft Lottery is starting next week, and next Thursday, Carlito would love it if Triple H or Shawn Michaels or somebody showed up and beat the crap out of Cena. 

Cena said that, sho 'nuff, the Draft Lottery could shake things up next week, but that he doesn't care. He goes on another one of those supposedly-clever, but obviously-premeditated Warp Speed Lists that starts with Batista and Booker T and ends with Harry Carey and David Hasselhoff (huh? Hasselhoff as a comedic punchline peaked in about 2001, I think)... the point being that Cena doesn't care who you are or what show you're on, if you Want Some, Come Get Some.

And to close out, Cena observes that it seems like Carlito and Morgan might Want Some tonight. So he made arrangements with GM Teddy Long, and he wants to clue the cabana boys in on a big match for later tonight: it'll be Carlito and Morgan against Cena and a Very Special Partner.... the Big Show. Carlito and Morgan are none too pleased to hear that Show will be in the house. Play Cena's music so he can leave the ring smugly!

I like the idea of ramping Carlito up into a challenger to Cena down the line, based on the history the two had over the US Title. Plus 10 for that; it's a cool little ploy that was most effectively executed in the past when Rick Rude stepped up and challenged the Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Title a year after he'd beaten Warrior for the IC Title. But minus the usual points for Cena just not coming off nearly as natural, real, or clever as I think WWE intends for him to. Not to harp on it, but in addition to the bogus hip-hop wigger thing, he really is giving off a secondary vibe of The Rock When The Rock Was Not Being That Funny (basically, when writers apparently decided they didn't have to come up with good material because it'd be instant gold as long as it was coming out of the Rock's mouth; which is no more true for Cena than it was for Jimmy-Leg Era Rocky).

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Backstage: Booker T wants Teddy Long to unmake the Angle vs. Sharmell match. But Teddy can't do that, because Angle won the right to make whatever match he wanted, and he wants a match against Sharmell. Booker is mad. But what Teddy can do is ADD to the match. Booker is intrigued. So Teddy announces that tonight it'll be Angle vs. Sharmell AND Booker in a handicap match. Booker is satisfied. I, however, am merely deeply annoyed that something that already sucked has now had even larger gaping logic holes inserted into it.

MNM vs. Charlie Haas/Bob Holly (Very Special "For Anybody Who Already Misses TNA Impact" Match)

The rules: we will have a 15-minute time, and the team that scores the most decisions in that time will be the winner. Oh sweet christ: so many options to use guys fans might care about and you put Bob fricking Holly and Poor Charlie Haas into a 15 minute match? A match fans have already seen twice in the last two weeks, to boot? Again: are you INVITING people to change the channel? On the upside, at least somebody, somewhere, had the good sense to NOT ever utter the phrase "Iron Man Match" even though that's essentially what this was. Somehow a "15-minute Ironman Match" would seem to defeat the purpose.

After Melina makes her ring entrance, this would pretty much been Fast Forward fodder for me if not for knowing I had to recap it. But even with that: I'm not gonna do the usual play-by-play. I simply don't have that kind of dedication, I guess. I figure if not many fans would be interested watching the match, not many would be interested reading about it.

So basically: Holly started fast for his team, and controlled the champs for 3-4 minutes, with the schtick being that MNM were afraid to get in the ring with the Angry Old Man. About 4 minutes in, Holly actually had M or N (does it really matter?) hoisted up for the Alabama Slam, but then Melina distracted the ref, allowing the other of M or N to kick Holly in the face, allowing his partner to counter out of the Alabama Slam position and into a quick roll-up. The ref turned around and counted 3. The champs take a 1-0 lead. And then they also start to beat down on Holly for  a minute or so until it is decided that we need to break for....

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Back, and I don't know if that was really a 5 minute ad break, or if they shaved time, or what, but when we return, we're under 5 minutes to go, and on top of that, the score has somehow become 2-0 in favor of the champs. We are told that Holly made the tag to Haas, but then the champs quickly dominated Haas after throwing him into some ringsteps and then pinning him. Or something. You'd think they'd have footage of that. But they don't. That's Grade-A Production Work, there, monkeys!

So when we return, it's Haas as the babyface in peril. But that Charlie Haas: he's a clever one. And in the middle of the beatdown, he somehow snags either M or N into a quick Oklahoma Roll for a pinfall out of nowhere! The score is now 2-1, champs still on top! And quick pinfall aside, Haas is still in deep doo-doo, as MNM quickly regain the advantage. Holly, bitter and obnoxious as ever, is not cheerleading so much as he's calling Haas a pussy for not getting over to make the tag. At one point, Haas is in a heap outside the ring after a double-team beating, so Holly goes over, grabs Haas by the tights, and throws him back into the ring. But not after a tongue-lashing. What an asshole. Finally, after a really cool sequence with some misdirection, enzuigiris and reverse enzuigiris, Haas puts both M and N down, and lunges to his corner to tag in the Salty Geezer.

There's only 90 seconds left, and Holly needs to score a pinfall fast to force an overtime, so he goes to town with clotheslines and, umm, clotheslines. And finally: OMG, a Frankensteiner? We haven't seen that since the days of Sparky Plugg! MNM manage to regain control around the 30 second mark with a double team, but Haas finally rematerializes just long enough to make himself useful by taking out either M or N. That left Holly alone in the ring with N or M, and he took advantage. After a very brief sequence, Holly hit the Alabama Slam with 12 seconds to go. Surely he'll tie the match, right?

Wrong. Because before Holly can cover, Melina gets in the ring and lies across M or N. Holly, who is well known for not exactly being the sharpest knife in the drawer, actually stands and looks at this for 4-5 seconds before deciding that he has to hoist Melina off and toss her aside. By the time Holly makes the cover, there's only time for a 1 count before the clock expires. The champs win 2 falls to 1, and retain the titles.

You know what this reminded me of? A TNA Impact match. Everything fit: you had four guys nobody cares that much about in a match that had absolutely no compelling story behind it, and which was destined to last till the time limit. That match may have been competently worked, but it's also eminently forgettable. And in the grand tradition of the TNA Looming Time Limit Expiration, the brought it limping home with a lame finish. The only differences: (1) you didn't have Mike Tenay assuring us that if we went to the time limit, we had Harley Race sitting backstage to determine a winner based on points. And (2) in TNA, the time limit finishes usually sucked because of ultra-clunky execution, but on SD!, the finish sucked because of a complete disappearance of Common Sense for about 5 seconds. 

To wit: why in the blue fuck wouldn't Holly just lay down on top of Melina, make sure he had a forearm across M or N's shoulders, and gotten the pinfall that way? Did Holly not want to win the fall and possibly go on to win the tag titles? Did Holly not see the added bonus of being able to get a cheap thrill from mounting Melina and briefly having his privates aligned with her rump? In short, does Holly possess neither a brain nor a wang? Does he really just make all his Daily Decisions based on the advice of his oversized Asshole Organ? Lame finish to a match that really was decent enough if not for the lack of anything resembling a reason to exist. I like MNM and figure one of these days (with believable opposition and some character development, I'll be able to specifically name a member of the team other than Melina) they'll click with fans, and I dig Charlie Haas and hope that he's got a ticket punched to RAW so he can feud with Shelton... but the lack of a good story here and the presence of Bob Holly was still enough to make sure that, at 15 minutes, this match overstayed its welcome.

ECW PPV Promo: Bubba and D-Von Dudley made their first fresh appearance on WWE TV since last fall in this bit, declaring that the only way out of One Night Stand is through the tables. For punctuation, Bubba set a table on fire. Apparently, WWE wants to get its licensing money's worth, as they've pulled "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" out of mothballs (which was gonna be the PPV Theme Song in September 2001, but was deemed an insensitive choice following 9/11) for use at One Night Stand. Works for me.

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Video Package: Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio aren't getting along. Really? Thanks for the update. And this, I shit you not, is the whole segment. On one hand, it fucking blows that this is the only glimpses of Eddie or Rey we get all night. But on the other, hey, it makes my recapping job easy.

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Kurt Angle's Exclusive Video Footage Theatre

Before his match, Angle wants to talk about last week, and how he might have rubbed Tazz wrong with his comments about ECW. But Kurt says any disrespect he showed towards Tazz was only because of what happened during Kurt's only night in ECW: because on that night, Tazz disrespected Kurt. As evidence, Angle has footage...

October, 1996, Philadelphia, PA: Angle was the invited guest of ECW, and Tazz interrupted an in-ring interview with Angle. He declared that it was really cute that Kurt was such a great amateur, but if he stuck around for Tazz's match, he'd see a great PROFESSIONAL wrestler. It was funny to see the 1996 Kurt: not only did he have hair, but he was also not nearly as adept at conveying emotion.... at Tazz's punchline, he tried to act annoyed and dismissive, but he still had a grin on his face, like he was either bemused by the suggestion or was just excited to be doing something other than Pizza Commercials (which is pretty much what Kurt was stuck doing after a one-month dalliance with celebrity after the Olympics). 

You know what? I don't know for sure, but there's a chance that this was the first time that footage was ever seen outside of the ECW Arena; I don't recall seeing it on ECW's syndicated show, anyway (although back then, it was hit and miss whether a given episode would air or not, or if it'd even be the right one if it did air at 2am on Friday nights), and I know Kurt had a thing where he didn't want to be in any way affiliated with ECW after they did the infamous Crucifixion Angle (which is also, if you ask me, just about the most overreacted-to incident in the history of wrestling), so he might have blocked that footage from ever airing on ECW TV. Kinda a nice touch to see it used here, though...

Back in 2005: Kurt says he felt disrespected by Tazz back then, but that after a week to think about it, Kurt knows that Tazz wasn't speaking from the heart. The "devil" made him say that, and the devil is Paul Heyman. Angle tries to get in Tazz's skull by saying that Tazz owes Heyman nothing, that he only became a superstar once he came to WWE, and he owes WWE. So Angle extends an invitation to Tazz to join his team of SD! Volunteers who will go to One Night Stand to put an end to ECW once and for all. Tazz responds with nothing but a stone-faced stare. Which means it's time for this very awesome mini-promo to end, and for the Suck to return, as Kurt tells Tazz to think about it, cuz now, he can't wait to rassle....

Kurt Angle vs. Booker T/Sharmell T (Handicap Match)

OK, so like I said, this is already a billion kinds of retarded. It's a total destruction of Angle's character to be railing against garbage wrestling and gimmickry one second, and then being nothing but a horny pervert who wants to wrestle women the next. How you can take Angle seriously when he can name any match he wants and instead of going after Cena, he wants to wrestle another man's wife is beyond me. Michael Fucking Cole did not help matters any, taking any chance he could to refer to angle as "this disgusting pervert" and other variations, as this is apparently now Angle's defining character element. Great.

But then we go an make it a handicap match, which might increase the chances of there being some actual wrestling, but which is a blow to logic and continuity. If Teddy was so disgusted by Angle's request, but felt it was within his purview to alter/add to the match, why not give Sharmell MORE partners? Why not make it even harder for Angle to even get a chance to put his hands on Sharmell by making it Kurt vs. Booker/Rey/Heidenreich/London/Sharmell, or something? [I know Rey's hurt, but he's not so hurt he couldn't stand around and be a prop in some quick more-an-angle-than-a-match like this; as a bonus, if you hide Heidenreich here, he doesn't stink up an entire later segment.] There's simply no internally consistent logic that can explain why this match exists. I fucking hate that.

But exist it does, so let's try to quickly cover the "highlights." For starters, Sharmell adds to the illogic by actually wanting to participate in the match. Umm, honey, if you're "not a wrestler" and "have no business in the ring" (as the announcers kept saying), then just get out, OK? Your husband has handled Booker all by himself before, and even beat him in a one-on-one match at the last PPV. Just make yourself scarce, sweetie, and everything will be fine. But nooo-ooooo, that'd make too much sense. So Sharmell just sort of loiters around the ring for much of the match, interjecting herself at scripted moments for some brief sequences of nontertainment. Seriously: who out there, for one second, gave a shit about Sharmell's plight here? If you watch Springer or live in a trailer park, your answer does not count. Everybody else who exists here in the Normal Person World, though: you realize that crap like this is why your friends can't understand why you watch pro wrestling, right?  This was just such a bad idea for a storyline, and this was such a bad idea for a match, and once they had to do the match, there was no way to execute it that made anybody look in any way smart, rational, or reasonable. That's a defining characteristic of crap-ass booking, if you ask me, when you ask your talent to go out there with absolutely no possible "out" that would make them look good. Angle must come out of this looking awful because he's a pervert who cares more about fucking another man's wife than about the WWE Title, Sharmell comes out of it looking stupid because she didn't know to just leave her husband to beat the man he's already beaten all by himself, and Booker comes out looking... well, OK, so Booker doesn't lose anything. But he wasn't exactly in a great place before this feud, so he didn't have much he could lose.

You say I'm avoiding talking about the match? Is it that obvious? It's because I wasn't paying attention. I was checking the NBA game on my picture-in-picutre. I think the first few minutes were pretty much Angle wants to grope Sharmell, sending Booker into a fit of rage, which made it easy for Angle to capitalize on his cloudy judgment. You probably had one or two spots in here where Angle placed Sharmell's head proximate to his groin for cheap pops (this was basically her only purpose the entire match), and of course, he'd have to pause to gyrate or otherwise indicate he was deriving pleasure from this, because that is how Booker would always be able to swoop in at the last second to make the save. Yippee? You know, I'm a pretty protective/chivalrous kind of guy, but it's amazing to me that Sharmell went from the whip-smart, sass-talking sharp cookie to a girl who made her own bed and was lying in it so quickly. I'm not saying she "deserved" any of this, but you know that part of me that was upset on behalf of Lillian Garcia being abducted by Horny Vis on Monday? That part didn't really give two shits about Sharmell last night. She simply shouldn't have been there in the first place, so it's hard to get too worked up for Booker's "heroic" saves for his wife. Seriously, Book: If your girl ain't smart enough to just leave, why don't you just just tell you, "Look, babe, I appreciate the thought, but I don't want you getting hurt, and plus, I can't handle this sucka on my own, dig? So I'd be a bad husband if I didn't tell you to get backstage and make sure my dinner, my brandy, and my slippers are waiting for me when I'm done, woman!".... or wait.... um, so the first half, but not the second.

Anyway, that was the basic deal. Booker gets mad, unleashes for a bit, makes a mistake, allows Kurt to grope/fondle/grind-against his wife, makes the save, lather, rinse, repeat. Angle was nominally in control when we decided to break for....

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Back, and the same basic thing repeats over and over again, except with a slight modification about 6-7 minutes in. That's the one time when Kurt tried stalking Sharmell and she actually fought back and bit him and slapped at him a bit. This must have caused Kurt's raging erection to subside for a bit, because he briefly became more interested in making Sharmell tap out to an ankle lock than in befouling her. But yet again: Booker to the rescue in the nick of time. 

Booker started a huge rally, and it seemed to be building up to a big finish when suddenly we did this odd spot in which Booker was trying to leg-lariat Kurt in a corner, but Kurt dodged it, and somehow, Booker wound up taking out both his wife AND the referee. Booker had enough of that proverbial wherewithal to quickly reload and kick Angle in the head, but once that was done, Booker was on his knees checking out his wife, making sure she was OK. Angle, meantime, apparently has some of that blood pumping back to his brain, because he sees the ref down, and grabs a steel chair. And promptly uses it to beat the shit out of Booker T. Just like that Booker is powdered out. 

Angle tosses the chair aside, and immediately takes Booker's place tending to Sharmell. Looks like the blood is rushing back to the weenis. Because Angle helps Sharmell to her feet, and then immediately takes her down to the mat, and after some manuevering, works his way into an intriguing position that I'm sure most of us are pretty familiar with. Just not in the context of wrestling. It's probably a good thing Angle didn't go all Viscera on us and add in the Thrusting Motion, because if he had, I'm guessing UPN Censors' heads would have exploded. But regardless of the overt suggestiveness, Sharmell's shoulders ARE on the mat, so the ref recovers and counts to three. And so Angle has now gotten his "heat back" by pinning Sharmell? I guess so.

After the Match: just because WWE wants to piss me off by NOT having this be over, Angle goes from the Very-Modified Roll-Up into a more standard Missionary Position, and seems in no rush to unmount Sharmell. That is, until Booker finally rushes back to the ring and scares Kurt off with a chair. Angle leaves with a smirk, but Booker is clearly mouthing the words, "I'm gonna git you, sucka" (or something along those lines). So it looks like this ain't over. Dammit.

Like I said: the very definition of unentertaining TV. Sharmell is NOT a particularly sympathetic character in this telling of the story, and I can't over-emphasize how much I hate the way this eviscerates Kurt Angle and turns him into a continuity nightmare: he talks about being a pure wrestler one second (which is what makes sense for him) and then he's eschewing shots at the WWE Title and instead has got Booker's wife's legs up over his shoulders the next. Dumb.

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Video Package: John Cena, contrary to my opinions, is apparently the Overlord of Cool, and here's the video footage to prove it, and his CD is super-awesome and you should pay no attention to the fact that its plummeted into obscurity the last 2 weeks after debuting at #15. OMG John Cena ROXORS!!!!!!! Seriously: 5 minutes or so of fluff that has no place on a flagship show (this, in fact, should have had to FIGHT for a spot on "WWE Experience"), which at least makes my recapping job easy one more time.

Heidenreich vs. Some Guy

Fuck this. The treatment I give Chris Masters on RAW is what I shall give Heidenreich on SD!... because they are both throwbacks to 20 years ago, and I have no patience for stuff that I wouldn't even have bought into back at age 10, when (for all my other flaws, including Duran Duran being my favorite band and thinking Star Trek 4 was the greatest movie I'd ever seen) at least my Good Taste In Wrestling was already intact. As witnessed by the fact that Ricky Steamboat was my first favorite wrestler after ultra-memorable beatdowns at the hands of Jake Roberts (DDT on the concrete, and that asshole Ventura joked that it sounded like cracking open a coconut!) and Randy Savage (I shouldn't have to explain the crushed larynx incident to any wrestling fan worth his/her salt). And just so you don't think any less of me: I've long since gotten over Duran Duran, and my Star Trek fandom evolved to the point where, like all right thinking Americans, I know that Star Trek 2 is the one of those films that could count as one of the greatest movies ever.

So: Heidenreich finds a friend in the front row (again -- probably in deference to the beginning of jury deliberations in the Michael Jackson trial, and Heidenreich's own past as a noted manhole-fetishist -- he selected a young girl). Then he reads a dumb-ass poem. Then he beats the shit out of some jobber in about 2 minutes. Then he gets the girl back up in the ring to do the Heidenreich March.

Christ: one wrestling retard is enough, and Eugene has Heidenreich beat on every front. And why, oh why, am I suddenly having nightmares of the draft lottery bringing us a Eugene/Heidenreich tag team? This was a five minute segment that I did not need to waste my valuable time on. Damn you, Danny T, for making it so I couldn't FF this crap this week!

Backstage: The Useless Divas are hanging out. They must have felt bad for Michelle McCool, because they are letting her hang out with them this week. And in walks SD!'s final Useless Diva, Mark Jindrak. Apparently, his new gimmick is "glossed up master of the unsuave." Because he tries working a little smalltalk on the ladies, but immediately backs into saying some very dumb things. Like mentioning how he hopes the draft brings some new divas to SD!, because these four are getting old, but not old like "old" but just old like you know, how they've been here for a while and how they don't put out, so maybe some new sluts is what the locker room needs. I'm paraphrasing, but this is really pretty much what he said to the girls. The girls, for their part, pretended to be offended in the exact sort of way that indicates that that Mark Jindrak is one sexy hunk, so whatever he says is cool with them. Blargh. [Part of me wishes Erin Anderson still watched SmackDown so that I could have turned recapping of this segment over to her, since making fun of a vaguely-effeminate dude who doesn't know how to talk to chicks -- while simultaneously making fun of the very same room full of vapid bimbos he was trying to hit on -- would really carry more weight coming from her.... but another part of me thinks Jindrak may finally have found his niche: he was so comically lame in a trainwreck sort of way that this could be the heel putz gimmick that finally launches him to superstardom on Velocity!]

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JBL vs. Nunzio (ECW Rules Match)

Before the Match: JBL cuts a bit long, rambling promo. In it, he blames the stitches in his head and the limp in his walk on ECW, because without ECW, he never would have been through hell and back again in the "I Quit" match 2 weeks ago. So JBL announces that he's joining the SD! Anti-ECW Army, and will be there with Kurt Angle at One Night Stand. But from there, the promo realy goes south and was one of JBL's lesser efforts in the last 9 months since he finally found his stride. He has one really long ramble about ECW "stars" that didn't go anywhere, and which sounded/looked like there were some things edited out (so maybe it's not JBL's fault if he had to get edited for time, but still, this was really not his best promo work). Then there was another long riff on Paul Heyman which was the first time I can recall JBL doing the HHH thing of taking three times too long to make a point. The concise version: Heyman invented nothing, Heyman is a liar, and Heyman didn't even care enough about his talents to make his checks to them good, so Nunzio is stupid for having any allegiance to Heyman. To teach Nunzio a lesson, JBL says that this one-on-one match will be "ECW Rules," which Nunzio seems to like. Which makes him retarded, since JBL is flanked by the entire Cabinet.

Bell rings, JBL dominates, Nunzio gets sent out over the top rope. The Cabinet tries to swarm, but when they get there, Nunzio is missing. That's because Nunzio went under the ring and came out on the other side with a kendo stick. Nunzio briefly goes to town on JBL with the kendo stick, and also on the Cabinet when they interfere. But while Guido was distracted by the Cabinet, JBL recovered and hit him with a big boot. Then a clothesline from hell, and it was all over. JBL wins in maybe 90 seconds. Ugh. JBL's promo started cool, but fizzled, and then this match seemed to serve absolutely ZERO purpose other than to show us that the stars of ECW are the jobbers to the superstars of WWE. Much like the shitty 2-minute Benoit/Tajiri match on RAW sent entirely the wrong message to fans about ECW's worth, a match like this has sends the subtle message to fans who might only be casually aware of ECW that it's not really as cool as it's being made out to be. Dumb.

Backstage: Booker is pissed, and much as I feared, he wants more of Kurt Angle. Oy. But Teddy Long notes that he can't promise anything on the ground that the draft starts next week, and Kurt or Booker might not even be here. So no: Teddy will not make Booker vs. Kurt for next week until he knows for sure both men are still on his roster. Booker promises that he doens't care about any drafts, he WILL get his hands on Kurt next week. OK: so I fucking HATE this storyline, but I can see some coolness if Kurt is the first draftee to RAW (just having him and Jericho going at it on the highlight reel could be fun), and if that leads to Vigilante T crashing RAW, cool. It sets up the deal where trading is open during the draft, and Booker could beg and plead to be traded to RAW, and if that deal is made, Angle could beg and plead to be traded back to SD!, and so on and so forth, creating an interesting little draft-long story with realistic elements of real sports franchise front office dealings (trades made just as much based on talent as based on getting rid of a disgruntled guy and so forth). Angle on RAW (at least, on RAW for 2 weeks through the ECW PPV) would also be interesting in terms of aligning Bischoff and Angle on the same show, allowing them to plot against ECW together. Of course, because it's interesting and I endorse it, nothing like this will happen, and Kurt will continue to be nothing but throbbingly-erect for Booker's wife, and that's the whole story. 

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John Cena and Big Show vs. Carlito Cool and Matt Morgan

Match starts with Big Show wanting to go first for his team. And even though Show has a shoulder and his ribs heavily taped after last week's F-5 through a table, he's still a menacing force. So, predictably, neither Carlito nor Morgan is in any rush to start for their team. Carlito finally agrees to start, but in resigned fashion. And after all of 30 seconds of pacing, he gets scared and bails out. He gets back in, and immediately tags Morgan in. Morgan tries his luck against Show, but it doesn't go so well. In about a minute, Show has Morgan tossed out over the top rope. Carlito tries to attack from behind, but that doesn't go so well: Show hoists him up and press slams him down onto Morgan at ringside. Show celebrates, the heels are down, and I think we ALL know that, even if we've only had MAYBE 90 seconds worth of action, we're stuck watching some....

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Back, and Show is still in control of Morgan... but that ain't gonna last. Because about 10 seconds after we get back, Show tags in Cena (I got a hundred bucks that says the REAL elapsed time between the pre-commercial break and that tag was less than 60 seconds, but that WWE squeezed that commercial break in to make it seem like this was a real, 9-10 minute main event instead of a 6-7 minute throw-away! Who wants to wager!?!). And in no time flat, the WWE Champ becomes Matt Morgan's bitch.

Morgan, in his first real extended action since his return as a stutterer, didn't necessarily show a voluminous moveset, but I stand by my basic belief that when the right gimmick/story comes his way, Morgan's got the tools to hold up his end in the ring. His kicks and stomps seem to have that little extra snap that you tend not to see out of the slobberknockering heavyweights, and he gets really nice elevation on his elbowdrops, and simple stuff like that. Not attention grabbing, but he just moves around the ring like a guy who is comfortable and knows what he's doing in there, which is doubly impressive given his size and that not many monsters have that comfort level of looking like they can make their moves look a bit more devastating and do it without you feeling concerned for their opponents. There are Sid Viciouses and Chris Masterses, and then there are Kanes and Brock Lesnars; Morgan will, eventually, join that select latter group of guys who work so hard to make sure that "power-wrestler" does NOT become a dirty word.

Of course, the little mini-showcase for Morgan to work against somebody other than disposable cruiserweights must end.... so even though it could not possibly count as a "face in peril" segment, since it only lasted 90 seconds, Cena makes the tag to Big Show, who begins going to town on Morgan right away. But luckily: Morgan has a crafty boss... Carlito lures Cena in to the ring, causing the referee to be distracted by Cena's illegal entry. And then, Carlito goes over to the corner where Show is pounding away on Morgan... and he grabs Show's arm, and SNAPS it down over the top rope in a modified hangman-type move. This was, by the way, Show's aforementioned Bad Shoulder.

And so it is thus that Big Show, quite possibly for the first time ever, becomes the Babyface in Peril in a tag team match. They don't usually ask the 500-lbs. guy to play that role, but Show handled it OK. After the hangman-to-the-shoulder, Morgan quickly tagged Carlito in, and Carlito looked good in going to work on Show's injured body parts (the shoulder and the ribs). But after Carlito's gnat-like offense, he tags Morgan back in. Morgan does a few more decent power-y moves, but then, like all dumb heels, goes to the Rest Hold. In this case, a bearhug, which is ahead of the Abominable Stretch in terms of rest holds, but is still actually a notch down from the RAW Standard, the Chinlock. At least in this case it SORTA makes sense, since it targets Show's bad ribs. But stilll... anyway, Show, obligatorially, powers out of the hold (using headbutts).

BUT WAIT! They actually DID have a neat little twist at this point... because even after Show powered out, he was still in no shape to make it to his corner, but Morgan WAS strong enough to make it to his corner to tag in Carlito. So Carlito comes in and makes sure Show doesn't head towards his corner, and before you know it, Morgan is joining in for a 2-on-1 attack....  so the bearhug powerup was just a decoy! Because with Show backed into a corner, he starts Crazy Man Chopping everything in sight. Nice. Morgan is the first to take the brunt of it, and he falls, leaving Carlito isolated against Show. Show easily picks him apart and has him set up for a chokeslam.... but that's when Morgan gets his wits back and plasters Show in the face with a Big Boot. But the problem is that the Big Boot sends Show tumbling RIGHT BACK INTO HIS OWN CORNER. So Cena quickly tags himself in. OK, so credit where it's due: the bearhug power-up got me, but that turned into one of the most creative and excitingly-sneaky ways to get to a Hot Tag that I can recall in recent memory. Show being booted into his own corner for the tag? Neato.

And the creativity of the set-up means the hot tag is actually a bit steamier than usual, and Cena comes in and probably has about as excited a crowd behind him as he's had in the past 6-8 month. And Cena reciprocated by coming across as more excited than he was in 6-8 months. This was a bona fide, high quality House Afire segment, as Cena went to town on the cabana boys. Cena even busted out some moves we haven't seen out of him in a while, including a pair of suplexes (a fisherman's suplex on Morgan, which seemed cool, and a Benoit-esque backdrop driver suplex on Carlito). Why the hell can't every Cena match feature this level of competence, dammit?

Cena is briefly in jeopardy when Morgan tries to attack from behind when Cena is tied up with Carlito.... but Show re-emerges and in one of those things that becomes MASSIVELY wowtastic when you realize how much meat is involved, he does the Foley-Style clothesline-over-the-top (where Show has to put so much behind it to get Morgan out that he also goes out over the top). Not quite a "holy shit," but definitely a case where two giant hosses take a move down by others and make it a tad more impressive.

With Morgan and Show both powdered out after that little interlude, it's Cena and Carlito alone in the ring, and it's not long at all before Cena hoists Carlito up for the F-U. Except that Cena must REALLY be feeling it tonight, because instead of just his normal shitty-ass F-U (which usually looks like he just gently tosses a guy off to the side in a move about one-half as devastating as a Death Valley Driver), Cena REALLY fricking drove Carlito into the mat with something that almost looked more like a wrap-around Michinoku Driver (with Carlito ended up planted between Cena's legs in a sit-out position, instead of off to one side while Cena remains standing in half-assed fashion). Now *that* looked like a finisher, dammit. That's how the F-U should ALWAYS look, if it's to be taken seriously. And thus, much as I like Carlito more than Cena at this point, I could not argue when his shoulders stayed down for the three count. I guess maybe Carlito doesn't get a title run at Cena down the line, then? Regardless, nice hot finish to the 9-10 minute main event.

Show as a whole? Stuff that was good happened at the start and at the end. The Cena/Show/Carlito/Morgan stuff had a strong promo to open, and a good match to end. The ECW portion of Angle's act was also good. Everything else? Ranged between forgettable and outright awful.
 

Weekend Newsbites

  • The prelim rating for last night's SD! was a 3.0, which is a bit of a drop from last week, and once again mires SD! well below its desired benchmark in the mid-3's.
     
    Again, with the summer rerun doldrums in full effect, SD! should be making hay while the sun shines, but this number is a regression.... I believe SD! might have been pre-empted for baseball in Philly, but remember: last week, SD! was pre-empted in NYC, and still did a respectable number, and NYC has about triple the effect on ratings as Philly, so you do the math.

    Going back to my Monday column: might this be an "I told you so" case of ratings being reflexive and last night's number being a loud and clear indication that even if people tuned in last week to see Kurt Angle win a battle royale, they had significantly less desire to see him fight a girl?
     
    Until evidence to the contrary surfaces, let's all just agree that this is the case, OK?
     
  • A possible reason why Angle is being asked to act out-of-character lately: he's the next guy who will get a WWE Films project, so maybe they are testing his chops. 
     
    I know: it's still a shitty fucking reason, but as I desperately attempt to make sense of Horny Kurt, I'll latch onto anything that might approximate defensibility.  

    In any case, the deal appears to be that Kurt will star in WWE Films first-ever comedy effort (an action flick with Cena is in the can, as is a horror flick with Kane; another action movie with Austin is in production now). Kurt's movie will begin filming in the late fall, with the schedule seemingly geared towards Angle getting back to a WWE schedule in time for the Rumble-to-Mania corridor.
     
    Good for Kurt, since he's one of WWE's few "total packages" who I wouldn't mind seeing get to showcase his talents outside of wrestling... but as always, anytime a project comes with a "WWE Films" label on it, you know I won't be able to restrain myself from a snide comment about how direct-to-video crapathons are not the business WWE needs to be sinking its money into. They should sink that money into me, since I'd get that ship righted in no time flat. And trust me: I wouldn't cost $30 million to produce. Just a low-six figure salary and then an $8 million annual budget for whiskey should cover me. See: I'm clearly a bargain at thrice the price!
     
  • Lance Storm will be wrestling Sunday night on Heat.... but all accounts, the match against Maven was a last second decision that WILL be used to hype the ECW PPV (which maybe is why Maven is on Team Incongruity).
     
    All I can say is: if you can make that last second decision, how fucking hard would it have been to do exactly what I said in my Monday column and use Storm in a backstage bit on RAW, where he could have interacted with his Actual ECW PPV Opponent (and former tag team partner) Chris Jericho? You're telling me we had plenty of time for Chris Masters to stink up the joint, but we couldn't find 60 seconds for Storm and Jericho to do something that might actually help sell a PPV?
     
    Morons.
     
    Anyway: Loyal Stormtroopers will want to check out Heat for Lance's Unretirement Match! And then, one week later, I guess the current thinking is that that the ECW PPV will be his re-retirement match, but you all know the frequency with which hell freezes over in wrestling, so....
     
  • It's been a week since TNA lost the FSN timeslot, and it's only two weeks to go until the optimists hope that TNA debuts on WGN, head-to-head with RAW. We've discussed all those logistics to death the last week, so I won't repeat myself...
     
    What I will say is that for the first time in the past 5-6 weeks, some folks are actually starting to really wonder if the WGN deal is really gonna happen. The buzz has been that everybody considered the deal done, and that it was a matter of formalities, but now there is genuine concern that something might have gone screwy among the TNA/indie community. At the very least, they are wondering why they haven't been told what's going on and why they have to get their information about the TNA/WGN deal from the internet.
     
    Contributing to that queasiness is the fact that on the internet (as we talked about on Wednesday) are rumors from the NWA-Ohio booker, who claimed that he was staging a buy-out of TNA, but now claims he's pulled his offer off the table because the TNA deal with WGN has broken down. Like I said two days ago: I'd tend not to believe anything that guy said, given what I heard about his "buy out attempt." So I hope this isn't just a case of bad rumors feeding off themselves.
     
    For TNA to end up on WGN in two Mondays will take a pretty
    Herculean effort, if you ask me. I, myself, get more dubious with each passing day, too. Simply put: TNA's slot on FSN was a paid slot, and the ratings they generated were, to put it bluntly, awful (cumulative/combined ratings for first-run and 2 replays were always around 0.3, which is one-half/one-third the rating that is getting WWE's weekend shows kicked off of cable TV). TNA does not negotiate this new deal from a position of strength, and every day that passes with them not announcing a deal makes me wonder what's really going on.
     
    The way TNA moved in on Styles and Daniels a few weeks ago made me think there was something they knew that we didn't about the TV deal... now, I'm not so sure. Shouldn't they be screaming from the mountaintops if they've got the new deal in place? And yet, we hear nothing.
     
    Something else that's kinda sad: right now, the drama about TNA's TV deal is about twice as compelling as anything they'll be presenting at the Slammiversary PPV in 2 weeks. Not that I really mean to draw a direct parallel, but I *do* think it's funny that this was frequently the case during the last 10 months or so of WCW's existence. Unlike WCW, I do suspect that TNA will live on, though... at the very least, their ownership is financially committed to the company, and one way or another, I'm sure that they'll be back on national TV eventually, here.
     
  • About the ECW PPV.... with all the recent RAW/SD! brand storytelling related to the show, and the likely presence of about a dozen non-ECW-affiliated wrestlers at the event, there are TONS of rumors out there, even more speculation, and ample confusion over just what's going on.
     
    Some say that when tickets didn't sell out instantly, WWE got worried and decided that ECW itself wasn't a draw and that they had to get RAW and SD! stars on the show. I am here to tell you that is horseshit, because WWE would not be dumb enough to project the overall success of a worldwide-distributed PPV based on ticket sales in one city. Ticket sales that were more affected by a slightly out-of-whack pricing scheme than by interest in ECW. Deafening "EC-Dub" chants and the sales of the ECW DVD are broader metrics that a company will look at in terms of projecting PPV buys.
     
    So for those concerned that RAW and SD! stars will dilute the ECW PPV and that WWE has "taken over" the booking of the show entirely in order to boost fan interest: relax. Yes, the insertion of the RAW/SD! invasions is a relatively new thing, and it is something that's being handled by the usual monkeys instead of by Heyman/Dreamer, but it's also not currently expected to be the heart and soul of next week's PPV.
     
    There is a DIFFERENT set of rumors that WWE is actually surprised at the unexpectedly HIGH amount of interest in the ECW PPV (see how that works: anytime you have two sets of rumors so diametrically opposed, you pretty much have to just stop reading crap-ass websites that report them as fact), and thus, Political Factions inside WWE have been maneuvering the last month to purposely undermine the ECW PPV. According to the rumors, this means that the Undertaker is wanting to get a spot on the show to squash some ECW guys, and this would tie into Benoit/Tajiri getting dicked on time a week ago, or Nunzio being squashed by JBL this week.
     
    And those rumors seem silly to me, too. Might there be people threatened by ECW's popularity? Sure. But at the end of the day, WWE's decision makers should be high enough up the ladder that what they want to do is make sure the company makes money. And that makes the juvenile notion of torpedoing a PPV seem pretty unrealistic to me.
     
    More than likely, what I'd hope to be true is something right in the middle: that WWE realized that the ECW PPV could benefit from a little bit of storytelling on RAW and SD!, in order to rope in some current fans who might not have been around for ECW. But that, at the end of the day, the events of next Sunday, June 12, are going to be determined by Paul Heyman, Dreamer, and the ECW lockerroom. To me, the "out" is simple: you will have RAW and SD! guys there, but I think you do a long 15-20 minute angle to start the show, you make sure the handful of top guys (Edge, Angle, JBL) save face, but then you offer up the putzes (Bischoff, Maven, Snitsky, etc) for ritual humiliation. RAW and SD! make their move, but they simply don't have the numbers, and then, after that big angle is out of the way: you do yourself a fricking 2.5 hour ECW show. RAW and SD!, in essence, are there for one big angle, not to wrestle in any matches. I don't see how this is problematic in any way, no matter how big an old school ECW loyalist you are.
     
    For whatever it's worth, what put me in the mind to mention this was a bunch of pissy e-mail telling me about these two divergent rumors that seem to suggest the ECW PPV will suck, and then at the same time, a third class of e-mails pointing me towards a cool RVD interview in which he assures us it won't. It might pain me to go partners with a filthy hippie stoner, but methinks RVD speaks most reasonably on this issue, compared to the other two camps. Check out the interview here.
     
  • And I do believe that is all I got for today.... in the interest of closure, I will report that I got over 200 e-mails about my Church Sign Debacle from Wednesday's column. Further proof that it's never the things you expect that motivate people to mail in....
     
    Anyway, the deal is that I failed to "get" a church sign joke. It read "The best vitamin for a Christian is B1." I figured that "bwun" isn't a word, and that if it was "be one," that implied that the best thing for a Christian to do was "being one" (I figured with the cosmos, since that's the only way I know of the phrase being used, which is not exactly a tenant of Christianity).
     
    But the consensus is that the sign was just so dumb that I didn't understand it, so I'm OK. Basically, the deal is that the sign makes sense if you put the word "to" in before "B1." Aha. I get it now. And whoever came up with this? Should be jettisoned directly into the sun. Because when you have to stretch that far to come up with an incomprehensible nightmare of a pun, you should just know to leave well enough alone and try again. Do not befoul my brain with your hamhandery! That's not a joke, it's a willfully retarded abomination to grammar and logic!
     
    Anyway, so there's your explanation: "The best vitamin for a Christian is to be one." Lame. 
     
    But I did get a few specific responses that made me laugh, and I'll quickly share.
     
    First was from a guy who good-naturedly labeled himself as the "pastor of a Generic Protestant Gathering Place." Whew. I loves it when somebody can take a joke! Anyway, he actually explained a pretty important thing to me: because once I "got" the joke, I completely failed to understand why this vitamin was being prescribed for Christians instead of for heathens. I mean, if you're a Christian, you're already "being one," right? I thought that made the pun even doubly stupid. But the pastor had a specific bible verse handy (John 17:20-21), which suggests that the pun is an attempt to steer "fallen Christians" back to the faith. That it's not enough to SAY you are a Christian, but that you have to BE one through your actions. OK, I'll buy that. Thanks, padre!
     
    Second was from some folks who made it into a Bingo joke. My favorite one was from reader Michelle Carter, who not only did the easy "Maybe the joke was interrupted by the bingo caller" thing, but took it one step further... to a bingo hall in Philly to be precise. Could it be that this Church Sign is actually telling us the the best vitamin for a true believer is hardcore wrestling? Tee hee. Think about it, kids, JESUS WANTS YOU TO BUY THE ECW PPV! The sign told me so! You don't want to go to hell, do you?
     
    And finally, OO's own PyroFalkon found out that not only does the pun suck, but it's sucked for about a year. He did a Google search, and found that this church sign slogan first appeared last summer, and the proof is at Godvertising.com.
     
    I just want to say two things about this: (1) if there isn't a commandment that says "Thou Shalt Not Plagiarize Shitty Puns," there should be. I don't know if this is a job for the New Pope, or if there's some American council of Baptist Ministers who would be better suited to deal with this, but I can not fathom how this crime is going unpunished in your own churches! And (2) there's a lot of funny crap on Godvertising.com, and I just want to say right now that if that website in any way shows up on "The Daily Show" in the next 3 months during a "This Week in God" segment, I'm gonna take that as proof that they ARE stealing from me, instead of just being a bunch of dudes with the same, exact sense of humor as me.
     
    Alright. That is all for this week. See you again Monday, folks.


  
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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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