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RAW, Draft Lottery, Huge ECW PPV News,
House Show Info, and Lots More
June 6, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Oy. It took till June, but the Weather Gods have decided it's time to make my life a living hell.  
Friday was the first day we had all year significantly over 80. Saturday was more of the same. Then yesterday, for shits and giggles, we break the 90 barrier. And we are there again today. And it's not exactly a dry heat, either. I'm fricking making my own gravy here.

No A/C for The Rick, no sir. Partly because I like to pretend it's

part of a personal ethic to train my mind to overcome the weaknesses of the body. Or something like that. It's actually not TOTAL bullshit, since I have no love for whiny, thin-skinned wussies and don't mind toughening myself up a bit. But it is MOSTLY bullshit on the grounds that the real reason is that my landlady is (1) insane, (2) a cheapskate, and (3) not-very-handy, so when the A/C broke down, she tried (unsuccessfully) to fix it twice, and at this point, I've given up bugging her about it. Because frankly, the less she is in my house, the more comfortable I am.

Yes, COMFORTABLE. Even if it is 94 degrees and sticky in my office. As soon as the sun goes down, the porch will be a nice place to hang out. And the basement is always cool and dry (and stocked with whiskey). So don't cry for me, Argentina. I'll live. But I had to bitch about something to get past the ad box.

Mission accomplished. Here's the rasslin' talk:

  • Tonight begins the 2005 "Draft Lottery" on RAW. 
    But for as many intriguing options exist, it's kind of hard to get fired up for this RAW to be much different than any other. Last year's Draft Lottery was a huge, all-on-one-single-night whoop-do-doo. It made that one night extremely fun and special.
    This year, we're taking the exact same format from last year, but instead of doing it in one night, we're portioning it out over 8 nights, starting tonight. I hope you can understand how this leaves me a bit less anxious for tonight's show than I think I'm "supposed" to be.
    Then again: it's not impossible to make all eight nights of the draft seem special and fun. It could, in fact, even be MORE fun this way. But for that to happen would require the creative teams to do something that they haven't done in a long time: deliver 8 consecutive excellent, well-planned programs. For whatever reason, we're lucky these days to get one brand delivering High Quality two weeks in a row... for the long-form Draft Lottery to work, we're gonna need BOTH brands totally clicking on all cylinders for a month straight.
    If that happens, the presentation could be sweet: lots of cross-overs and special guests on each show, lots of campaigning for trades, lots of cross-brand storytelling, all kinds of stuff. Once you give me the green light to start imagining a complex month of interwoven, cross-brand stories, the mind races with myriad possibilities. This Draft Lottery gimmick is practically a license to print cliffhangingly-good episodic TV for a month... but knowing WWE's preference for underwhelming us, it could also just be a month worth of picking one bingo ball per show out of a hopper, too.
    We'll just have to see. And we'll START to see tonight, as Chris Jericho will have the first draftee to RAW on The Highlight Reel. I'm curious to see how the presentation works: has the pick already been made and that person notified to be at RAW? I have a feeling that'll be it... but what'd be much cooler (in my opinion) would be if they had the entire SD! roster backstage, and Jericho picked the draftee live in the ring. A tinch more drama, and plus: if you want to convince me this *is* as big a deal as last year, you can do so by kicking things off with the entire SD! roster present for a possible Blue Shirt vs. Red Shirt Battle (note: this is possible, as the SD! house shows this weekend were shuffled around, with the result being that there is no SD! show tonight; they could all be at RAW). You could even have it devolve into such a schmozz that Vince McMahon himself has to appear on Thursday in order to declare that the rest of the picks will be made in advance, and ONLY the person picked will be informed and invited to appear on his new brand; and as a little bonus, I'd put another carrot out on a stick, and have Vince announce that he will allow all the RAW and SD! stars to be together just one more time... on the Monday following the end of the Draft Lottery, where GMs Bischoff and Long will finalize all trades and the rosters will be locked for at least another year.
    But I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? Like I said: *if* WWE wanted to go balls-out with this, it could be a very awesome month of compelling episodic TV that truly feels unique and special. These are just some of the ideas that start popping into one's brain when one considers the possibilities.
    Getting back on task, though: regardless of the ancillary presentational issues, the one thing we do know for sure is that tonight one (1) SmackDown! performer will appear on RAW as a guest of Chris Jericho's.... and even if you don't do the Whole Roster Thing, WWE would still be wise to kick things off with a bang tonight. You don't start a month-long story-arc by asking fans to give a shit about Heidenreich. That would torpedo the draft lottery's momentum before the thing even got underway.
    I'm thinking that there is really only one guy who fits the bill for getting the lottery started in a big way: Kurt Angle.
    Here's a laundry list of reasons why I think it fits: 
    (1) Angle's "feud" with Booker T on SD! is currently one of the most retarded stories in recent memory. But if you put Angle on RAW, then you can immediately gloss over that crap by having an enraged and vengeance-hungry Booker T first trying to conduct vigilante justice, and then trying to convince Teddy Long to trade him over to RAW so he can get his hands on Kurt "legally." The counter to that would be Kurt convincing Bischoff to NOT make any trade for Booker, and again, you see how this month-long deal could be used for the forces of good, I hope! The feud can end, not with a decisive in-ring winner, but instead as a result of lottery chicanery (chicanery that should mask the previous stupidity of the Horny Kurt deal)... maybe let Vigilante T get one cross-brand attack in on Kurt at some point, and that's it: end of story, and let us never speak of it again. 
    (2) Angle on RAW, even if just for the short term before he'd get traded back to SD! or something, would allow for a brief one-week window of co-operation with Eric Bischoff as it regards being anti-ECW. In a lot of ways, Angle as a top heel closely aligned with Bischoff also has longer-term bonuses, since at some point, Batista is gonna need heel challengers who aren't named Triple H.... and for Batista's sake, it's been my long-standing belief that said challengers should be ultra-talented and capable of making Batista look like a million bucks. For damn near six months, now, I've been talking about how I'd like a Benoit heel turn... but just bringing Angle over from SD! might work just as well.
    (3) With Angle on RAW, the continuation/pay-off of the Angle/Michaels feud can be made a reality. They certainly planted the seeds for that continuation the night after Mania, when Michaels flat-out said he looked forward to another chance to step in the ring with Angle. If Kurt's on RAW, that can be made to happen.
    (4) There are too many awesome opponents Angle has been unable to work with the past couple years... not saying that Angle/Eddie and Angle/Rey haven't been fun on SD!, but c'mon: between injuries and Brand Loyalties, we've been without Benoit vs. Angle for at least 2 years, now! That crime can be rectified! Or how about Angle vs. Jericho! Or Angle vs. Regal, or vs. Tajiri, or in backstage skits with Eugene! Angle's good, but it could be time for a freshening of opponents for him.
    The other thing Kurt has going for him is that he is "single" in storylines. Most of SD!'s other major players come with baggage -- JBL has his cabinet, Carlito has Morgan, Eddie and Rey have each other to deal with (and also, for simple front office reasons, it's unlikely that WWE would want to break up the two guys who make SD! one of the top 10 shows on network TV every week among hispanic viewers), and so on. Kurt can just show up by himself and be the total package. I mean, there are a few other big guns who could say that, too, but at this point, I'm really not sure if I see the storyline purposes for John Cena or the Undertaker moving over to RAW... plus: if they do a Cena-to-RAW thing (as part of a champion-for-champion trade), it'd wait until closer to the end, just for logistical reasons... you wouldn't want to have to do a month worth of SD! without Cena there as a drawing card, right? The roster is thin enough as it is.
    Anyway, those are just some thoughts I had. I'm keen on Angle coming to RAW, and STAYING on RAW, too. I figure doing that tonight would serve a double purpose of not just making a wise roster move, but also getting the draft lottery kicked off with a big first draftee. And again, I can't overstate how important it is that they make sure to hit a home run with Night One of the draft lottery, because if they don't, they'll turn this whole month-long thing into little more than the 60-second Super Lotto interstitial that they do on Wednesday nights at 7:30. And that's not what this should be about.
    [As an aside: another guy I want to come over from SD! is Charlie Haas, and more than a few e-mails suggested that he'd be a perfect guy to have show up on the Highlight Reel, since Jericho's currently got issues with Shelton Benjamin, and thus, Haas could be inserted into that mix and end up feuding with Shelton before you know it. And I like this idea alot. I just don't like it for TONIGHT. Again: get this thing off to a big start... much as I think Haas has a bright future ahead of him, I'm not so deluded to think he'd enrapture a crowd by showing up tonight on RAW. You can "hide" him as a later pick, once there are other issues swirling around the lottery and it's not so important that each pick be a blockbuster....]
    What else? Well, Triple H vs. Batista don't seem to care about the draft lottery, as they'll be signing a contract for a Hell in the Cell PPV match tonight. Perhaps this is a case of WWE actually thinking ahead, and this Contract Signing is NOT just some lame excuse to get the two in the same ring together? Maybe by making a big fat hairy deal out of signing a contract, should one or the other of these two get lotteried over to SD!, they will STILL be obligated to compete in the RAW-brand PPV match later this month? Eh, it's an idea.
    But more than likely: the contract signing will just be an excuse to get HHH and Batista in the same ring together. Where you can bank on HHH probably saying a whole bunch of stuff that we've already heard a billion times from his wordhole, and where Batista will be booked to be either mute or ultra-violent instead of in the way that made him a star last fall and winter. Yippee?
    A bit more interesting to me will be the final "build-up" for THIS weekend's looming PPV: ECW's One Night Stand. Angle or no, Bischoff has his army assembled. And they've already fought one skirmish, as Lance Storm materialized out of thin air last night on Heat to score a win over Maven. I know that when plans were originally being made for stocking the roster of the ECW PPV, there were indications that contracts included more than just the one night of work (presumed to be so that non-tenured ECW stars would come in and tape promos or something to help hype the PPV).... personally, with the RAW and SD! brands scooping the heat tonight with the draft lottery, I think a cool thing to do would be to make sure the ECW brand has a higher profile than it has so far. If that means Bischoff's Army starts the offensive six nights early and is being the piss out of some ECW-affiliated star, then I think it'd be cool to have ECW swarm to the rescue. Whether it's just Tommy Dreamer, or if you actually have the Sandman or Sabu or something, I don't know... but something like that would go a long way towards whetting appetites of fans who want this weekend's show to be a genuine ECW Experience, and not just a WWE knock-off.
    And here's another thought: if it's not done already, it's probably too late and I should have mentioned this lots sooner, but here's an idea I had weeks ago.... with this being the final week before the ECW PPV, both RAW and SD! should have a five-minute slot, and it should feature an old school Pulp Fiction Segment. Dick Dale in the background, lo-fi production values, seemingly random locations... but it all boils down to all the old stars of ECW promising to make their way to New York City. Not only would this reinforce the idea that the PPV would be True To ECW's Memory, but you could also use it as a promotional tool to show fans what old ECW stars will be on the show (and to also showcase past identities/personalities of the WWE-tenured guys who will be working on the show), and finally you could use it to plant the seeds for various matches/feuds. I think the coolest thing would have been to do one Pulp Fiction Segment to air on RAW, and then a second on for SD!: the first kind of a introduction/re-introduction and then the second more of talking about feuds/matches as a way to ramp up the anticipation.
    At the very least, hell, there's six days, and they should make damned sure one of these ends up on Heat before the PPV. [Speaking of which, they'd be insane to run a normal Heat on Sunday, and though I've heard nothing concrete, an hour of ECW Primer would be a much better use of that timeslot.]
    All other things on RAW? Will be.... um, SHIT, what's the word that comes after "tertiary"? Because I just named the three big things for RAW tonight, and all other things will be tied for fourth... secondary, tertiary... maybe quaternary? My spell checker says that's a real word, at least, so hopefully that's right.
    No matter: three big headlines tonight on RAW, and then a bunch of other stuff in the background, that's my main point. Those stories will include: more Kane/Lita/Edge, more Shelton/Jericho, more Viscera/Lillian, and more Chris Masters sucking out loud. One of those four things I will enjoy. Another I shall tolerate. The other two? Well, my mamma always told me that if you don't have anything nice to say, then to keep my yapper shut. For this once: I shall heed her advice.
    Ought to make for an interesting night. Whether it's a satisfying night or not, that's yet to be seen. But just to see what direction they go with the Draft Lottery, and hopefully getting some cool final touches on the ECW PPV build-up, it will, if nothing else, be an instructive 2 hours of rasslin'. I'm curious to see how it turns out.
    If you be in the same boat, be sure to check out the show tonight. And whether you check out the show tonight or not, OO's got the greatest and best RAW Recap in all the land for you tomorrow: results and details for those who didn't see the show, and 200% of the FDA recommended daily allowance of Snark and Analysis for those who did see the show and require more. So come on back for that....
  • Something I forgot to mention last week: RAW's rating last Monday was a 3.6, which meant that there was no change from the week before. A second-straight 3.6 means RAW once again pulled it's second-worst rating of the year-to-date. Not good news.
    As outlined last week: the Memorial Day holiday is, at most, a VERY minor impact on what people are doing at 9pm on a Monday. By that point of the long weekend, 95% of people are settled back into their normal routines in anticipation of a return to a normal schedule on Tuesday. The holiday is no excuse for the rating, and the fact that the same rating was had the week before is all the evidence I need.
    The back-to-back low ratings (coming on the heels of RAW tying it's year-to-date BEST rating) are indicative of something else, if you ask me. I think, if you've been paying attention, you know what *I* think that "something else" is.
    Suffice to say, I'll be curious to see how/if the Draft Lottery gimmick gooses ratings this week. Last year, the all-on-one-night lottery did a huge number, but like I said: by stretching things out, WWE can't really count on that same kind of bounce tonight. But still: they SHOULD rebound at least a third-of-a-point or so back up to recent averages. 
  • The cat is out of the bag: Joey Styles will be handling announcing duties at Sunday's ECW One Night Stand PPV. WWE reportedly wanted to keep this a secret, but Rob Van Dam made the announcement during a radio interview over the weekend.
    All I can say is: WHEW! The thought of Michael Cole doing announcing was anathema. And although Paul Heyman could have done the job, it wouldn't be true to his ECW persona (which was to be the little-seen "boss" of the show, rather than the constantly-yammering voice of the show). 
    Styles will not be working solo... and although it might be fun to have Styles and Joel Gertner reunited (even if only for the in-ring introduction), my current understanding is that Gertner will only be used with the Dudleys, and that Joey and Tazz will be the announce team for the night. Frankly, I can't muster up an iota of dissent to that.
    Not only is Joey the only guy who has any business doing ECW commentary, but it'll be fun just to hear how much free reign he'll have to badmouth WWE and Vince McMahon (given their salty pasts). Because WWE and Vince might not like hearing those things, but they are just another part of the True ECW Spirit. If the handcuffs are off, Joey could be a bona fide barrel of monkeys during any segments featuring WWE stars shoehorned into the show.
    Yet another reason why I'm increasingly stoked for this PPV, and why I'm not so sure why there's so much sentiment out there (and in my mail box) suggesting that the PPV will suck and be nothing but a pale imitation of ECW... I think those people maybe have a misapprehension of what ECW really was at its best: ECW at its best was not nearly an offensive niche product... swearing, bleeding, or beating up women just for the sake of swearing, bleeding, or beating up women is retarded and that wasn't the point of ECW. ECW at its best had swearing, bleeding, and beating up women, but they existed for a reason and were generally not the defining characteristics of the show. Incredible effort, the freedom to create characters and have matches without being dictated to from above, those were the sorts of things that really mattered. And I don't think there's any reason to suspect that a reasonable facsimile of ECW At Its Best won't be offered up on Sunday.
  • To get your ECW swerve on, I might suggest making an effort to check out Byte This this week (Wednesday night on WWE.com)... it'll be Heyman and Dreamer running the show. And if you remember the last time they had Heyman on (last fall, to promote the ECW DVD), you know that this could get good.
    For once, I need not feel pre-emptively guilty for making PyroFalkon endure the show!
  • Some weekend house show notes:
    On the SD! side, the Dudley Boyz returned to action, and did a mini-angle with Carlito in the Cabana to set up tables matches later on in the show. Bubba and D-Von were said to look sharp... at the very least, I'm sure this is the healthiest either has been in years.
    On the RAW side: Flair was absent from all shows (with permission), and main events that were originally scheduled to be Flair/HHH vs. Batista handicap matches were switched to HHH vs. Batista Street Fights. If nothing else, relaxing the rules means they could use some props and maybe start working the kinks out for what they'll do inside the Cell on PPV.
    Also of note: Kane worked Friday night's show, but was reportedly absent from Saturday night's event here in Dayton. Was Sissified Drama Queen Kane too scared to come to Dayton and possibly face the scathing wit of The Rick? He needn't have been worried: I don't do house shows. At least, not unless I can muster up at least a foursome to make it a good time. And I think I've made it pretty clear how my pool of wrestling buddies has dried up in the past year or so, so that wasn't happening... no joke: there will be a bigger crowd and more enthusiasm this Sunday for the ECW PPV than we had for our WrestleMania gathering this year. Current WWE Product: not so hot with The Rick's friends. Pretending like it's 2000 again: very hot with The Rick's friends. There's a lesson in here somewhere for you, WWE. 
    Anyway, Kane's absence was odd, and at present, has not been explained. On the upside, that meant the Dayton line-up was shuffled to include a Benoit/Edge tables match (instead of Edge/Kane and Benoit/Snitsky), which was good for those in attendence. As far as I know, both Kane and Flair are expected to be present at tonight's tapings.
    Thanks to OO Forums Regular ConcreteTG for the help with the RAW house show details. 
  • Still no movement with regards to the TNA TV situation. Like I mentioned last week, this is a deal where every day that passes makes me more and more dubious... the talked-about start date is now only 2 weeks away. Does making that start date seem a pure impossibility to anyone else?
    The one thing I will note is that several readers mailed in and jokingly said I'm over-reacting about how this is bad for TNA to be without TV when they have PPVs to promote. Why? Because, when you consider TNA's ratings, it's not like anybody was watching, anyway. Ha ha, very funny, people.
    To some extent, I think they might be right that TNA's loyal audience will still buy the PPVs and follow along on the web and stuff... but there's gotta be some marginal loss of audience size when you lose your national TV show. Even if they only did a 0.2 cable rating each week, that's still on the order of hundreds of thousands of viewers... and TNA doesn't do hundreds of thousands of PPV buys (they are lucky to do dozens of thousands), so there were potential new PPV buyers in that audience. That reservoir has, at least for now, dried up.
    Bottom line: there is no good way to spin TNA's lack of TV exposure. There may be "less-bad" ways, but no good ways...
  • I think that's about all I got for you today. I'm back with the RAW Recap tomorrow, and then midweek news on Wednesday....
    After that, well, I'm trying to decide how to handle the ECW PPV. Presently, I'm leaning towards not doing the standard OO Team Coverage thing... or at least, not doing it the same way. Predicting winners in matches without significant storyline build-up and with even LESS importance after the show (since ECW isn't gonna be a going concern) is kinda pointless. I might still do a deal where I gather the troops to talk about ECW in general, though. I don't know. I'll kick it around, and one way or another, I'll have a Friday OO with a heavy ECW flavor to it.
    So here's hoping you'll all ride along with me for the week, folks. See you later....

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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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