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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
ECW PPV Fall-out, RAW, TNA TV Woes,
JBL vs. Meanie, and Lots More News
June 13, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

All the pieces fell into place this weekend.... Foo Fighters, baseball, ECW, you name it, I got it. Oh, it might have briefly threatened to go to hell due to bad weather, but the Gods Of Fun made sure we never got anything more than a light drizzle on Saturday. And thus was the Weekend of gOOdness allowed to reach its full potential.  
 
Here's an example of how perfectly things went. The lynchpin of Saturday's festivities was a Reds game (against the AL East leading Orioles of Baltimore). Not only did the Reds put a 10-to-1 spanking on the O's, but just as a little joke, I'd made a silly roster move to my Fantasy Baseball team. Not wanting to have to cheer for the opposition, I removed O's second-baseman Brian Roberts from  

my line-up, even though he's one of the top 10 Fantasy Performers so far this season. In his place, I inserted my utility bench player from My Very Own Cincinnati Reds, Felipe Lopez. Roberts wound up going 0-for, while Lopez was 3-for-5 with 6 RBI, 2 Runs, and a home run. I went into the day in second place in my Fantasy League; I spent the night taunting the guy who was ahead of me, as I clearly proved my Superior Managerial Skills. And when I got around to checking the standings this afternoon: I have jumped into First Place, baby! Sweet.

That is the very definition of "icing on the cake," if you ask me. A delicious garnish to the weekend. And with the ad box thusly passed, I can try to deliver some more substantial meat and potatoes... because as anybody over the age of 7 knows: you can't make a meal out of frosting.

Here's the wrestling:

  • Where else can I possibly start than with last night's ECW One Night Stand?
     
    It was pretty much everything I could have hoped for. A few mild disappointments were offset by a few mild surprises, and the end result was a show that pretty much met my expectations. And if you read Friday's Preview Feature, you know those expectations were quite lofty. I expected nothing less than the most entertaining PPV in 15 months. 
     
    And beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt: that's what we got last night.
     
    My gripes, in descending order of vaginal sandification:
     
    (1) OK, so JBL had to be there to lend some heft to the "crusade." But to whoever thought he had any business eating up 5 minutes or PPV time may kindly lick my bunghole. JBL's made good promo work his bread-and-butter since being shoved into the main event spotlight, but last night was neither his best work, nor did it even seem to have much of a point. It's a miscalculation of the ECW fanbase to think that generic heel shtick will go over when delivered by somebody like JBL. Now: when ANGLE was riffing for a couple minutes, the crowd couldn't get enough of riding Kurt hard, because even if they don't like the words coming out of his mouth, they do have a respect for the guy's ability. But when JBL takes 5 minutes to deliver about 90 seconds worth of material? He got some big heat when he started, but by the end, the crowd (and us sitting on the couch) were just like "Jesus, we're not gonna boo/chant anymore, so seriously, just SHUT. UP. YOU. HACK." A definite low-point on the show, and as close as the crowd seemed to come to just not caring. I'm not sure who was calling the shots backstage, but whoever it was should have cued up RVD's theme music about 4 minutes sooner.
     
    (2) Steve Austin being the climax of the night felt a little bit false to me, too. Now, I actually have done an about-face and don't mind the "super happy/obvious" ending with all of ECW together in the ring, victorious over the infidels of WWE. They handled that a bit differently than I would have guessed, and it wasn't nearly the cheesy crap I'd envisioned. Isolating on Bischoff at the end was cool, too: it's just that how you let Austin's Stone Cold Stunner be the Big Finish on an ECW show is baffling to me. The Ritual Humiliation of Eric Bischoff was a job for Dreamer or Heyman; it was not a spot for a nebulously-vague reference to how Bischoff fired Austin, causing him to go work for ECW (for a grand total of about 2 months). The final image of the PPV being Steve Austin was also a strange choice, given Austin's tangential-at-best affiliation with ECW.
     
    (3) Not enough Joel Gertner. I guess they decided that nothing the Dudleys/Gertner could do would make the Duds heels, so the best they had for Joel was a grand total of 20 seconds of interrupted mic work? Boo.
     
    (4) They really screwed the pooch on Heat. That was a chance to do something special to rope in a few last second Impulse Buys, and instead all they did was a Standard WWE Recap Show (which, by design, does almost NOTHING to convince you the PPV to follow is gonna be at all special). Lame. It should have been all ECW history. It should have been hosted by Tazz (if they were so intent on "saving" Joey Styles for the PPV introduction). And it should have ended with an 8-minute Pulp Fiction Segment featuring all the performers who would be appearing on the PPV introducing/re-introducing themselves to America. But like I said on Friday: it does seem like certain higher-ups in WWE want to insulate themselves and their positions by making sure that if the ECW PPV did well, they can CLAIM that it's all the "Crusade" stuff with RAW/SD! that drew the buyrate, instead of genuine interest in the Authentic ECW Product. Given what they opted to showcase on Heat, I'm more confident than ever that this is the hidden agenda of WWE to misplace credit for One Night Stand's inevitable success... 
     
    But who cares about hidden agendas and ultimately-minor gripes? The fact is: One Night Stand was incredibly fun, and I had to work pretty hard today to drudge up those preceding complaints. Other than the vague-annoyance with JBL, not a one of those things above actually occurred to me while I was watching the PPV... they are only things that came to me in retrospect.
     
    And I think you could add up all four of those mild disappointments, and they'd all be MORE than off-set by the night's biggest surprise: the appearance of Mike Awesome, and his one-on-one match with Masato Tanaka. Awesome was not scheduled to appear the last I'd heard, and there certainly would have been good and justifiable reasons why (many of them outlined by Joey Styles during the course of last night's match). But the fact is: if Tanaka was being brought in, then there is no better opponent for him than Awesome. The two had variations on last night's match for the better part of 8 months back in 1999, and I think you can see why that feud was thought of as one of the few highlights of ECW's "TNN Era." Match of the Night, hands down. And that's pretty remarkable considering that it was an unannounced match amidst a line-up of pretty-kick-ass-sounding matches.
     
    The main event would probably be my #2 match of the night, just because it encapsulated a whole boatload of things about ECW that were awesome. Yeah you had the blood and the brawling and the flaming table... but you also had spontaneity and fun (in the form of the match opening run-in-a-thon capped off by Kid Kash hitting a crazy-ass double-jump somersault senton onto about a dozen men) and even a few surprises (ah, Beulah; twas so good to see her back and standing by her man that I'll even politely refrain from mentioning the DDT). It was even in the Little Things, too, like the ring entrances... all night long, most guys were coming out to their WWE music (ferinstance: even though Jericho busted out his ECW-Arena-Debut tights and dork-ass, hair-band, air-brushed Leather Vest -- which was cool -- he still came to the ring to his usual RAW theme), but in the main event we FINALLY got a touch of old school ECW when Dreamer came out to a reasonable facsimile of "Man in the Box" and Sandman came out to the full Metallica-Authentic Edition of "Enter Sandman." It was a fully-immersive half-hour experience, from ring entrances to flaming table finish. And having Dreamer get pinned in a big match? That's as authentic as it gets.
     
    After that, my next two favorite things were probably the promos cut by both Rob Van Dam and Paul Heyman. Heyman, in particular, scored the Line Of The Night, when he nailed JBL with "The only reason you were champion for a year on SmackDown! is because Triple H didn't want to work on Tuesday nights." Ouch. And true on so many levels, too. It's funny, cuz I was just talking about this in the last week or so, about how the last year would have gone really differently if HHH had just gotten lotteried over to SD! and STAYED there (instead of getting traded back to RAW)... with the quitting of Lesnar and the injuries to Angle/Big Show, HHH should (if he's so confident in his abilities) have stepped up, gone to SD! and made it his mission to "make" Eddie Guerrero. Instead, HHH wants to stay on RAW, and SD! starts sucking so badly that the front office has no choice but to blame the champion (instead of his suck-ass challenger, JBL, who wouldn't start finding his groove or being taken seriously until 4-5 months AFTER winning the belt, which is a retarded and backwards way of doing business). Score one for Paul Heyman: he speaks the truth.
     
    Van Dam didn't hit anything nearly as tasty as that line, but was effective in conveying the fact that he's quite fed up with WWE's presentation of RVD.... I got a lot of e-mails suggesting that RVD might have just gotten himself fired, but I'm not so sure about that. He said a lot worse in radio interviews the last week or so, so it's not like WWE didn't know the direction he'd go, and they still let him go out there and talk. If I wanted to let myself get enthusiastic, I'd almost want to say that somebody finally decided to get serious about letting RVD shine, and what they are doing now is preparing his character for a throw-back to 1997, when Van Dam's shtick was to crap on his own company and threaten to go elsewhere... and it served to make him a bigger star than even in the very company that he was talking bad about. If WWE has balls, this could be an interesting new direction for RVD when he returns from injury. Or WWE (not particularly well-known for dealing with criticism these days) could get all hyper-defensive and sort of do to RVD what NBC did to Letterman lo those many years ago.
     
    The other thing RVD's segment did was provide a smooth segue into a Sabu/Rhyno match. A trademark of ECW: the seamless transition. And I think it's cool that the very three guys I singled (tripled?) out in my PPV Preview as being the ones I hoped got proper treatment in terms of unannounced matches (Sabu, Rhyno, and Tanaka) all got exactly that. Just as Awesome was the perfect match-up for Tanaka, Rhyno and Sabu did a great job getting the best out of each other, and best of all: did it as part of a cool little angle coming out of RVD's promo.
     
    I could run the rest of the show, too, but I think all the other matches pretty much tied with Sabu/Rhyno as "tied for fourth best thing on the show." There really weren't any holes at all in Benoit/Eddie, Rey/Psicosis, Tajiri/Super Crazy/Nunzio, or Jericho/Storm. But all at just around 10 minutes each, none of them also really got a chance to distinguish itself above the rest or to live up to the Awesome/Tanaka match, or anything like that.
     
    A few of the highlights from those matches: obviously, Super Crazy's balcony moonsault was amazing... I found it curious (but not surprising) the way fans responded to certain spots like Rey's 619 or Benoit's Hattrick of Germans: proving again that WWE needs to think more carefully if they really intend to market to the ECW audience, those "gimmicky" spots invented in WWE were NOT appreciated by the ECW crowd... Justin Credible's only appearance being a run-in to help Storm win, followed by a brief Impact Players Posedown was the perfect way to make sure he got on the show without causing it to suck at all... and I don't know if anybody else caught my words coming out of Mick Foley's mouth during the opening moments of Benoit/Eddie, but *I* sure as hell did. Tee hee. I love when that happens. Makes me feel all, like smrt and stuff.
     
    The show also never bogged down with the video packages and whatnot... if anything, I almost with there had been more promos and stuff. Or that they'd at least let the promos they DID show air to completion; it wouldn't be an ECW show without some kind of production miscue, and in last night's case, that meant bailing out of an Angry Amish Roadkill promo before it was complete, and cutting to about 10 seconds of Dead Air before they figured out what was going on. Authentic ECW, indeed!
     
    One question: did I blink, or did I miss Louie Spicolli in the montage of superstars who had died?
     
    Again: take out JBL's over-long and pointless promo, and One Night Stand was 2 hours and 40 minutes straight of non-stop fun. It sure as hell seemed like those in attendance got their money's worth, and I can tell you that us sitting around watching on TV got ours. Last night was easily the most fun we've had watching wrestling since WM20, and probably even before that. Hell, the best illustration I've got for how different this was from any other PPV in recent memory is the simple fact that for every PPV since WM20, it's usually just me and one or two friends, and whether its at somebody's house or at Hooters, we're saying our good-byes and are practically out the door before the PPV fades to black... but last night, we hung around and shot the shit about wrestling for 2 hours after the PPV ended. Getting my friends caught up on such "Current" Events as Miss Elizabeth being dead, and stuff like that... like I said: it's been a while since some of my friends quit giving a shit about wrestling. But ECW's One Night Stand got 'em back, even if only for the night. Good times.
     
    In a lot of ways, the spontaneity of the event made it something that would have been better enjoyed live and in-the-moment last night... but ECW also delivered a few things that'll stand the test of time -- some of the promo work, especially by Heyman, and then the Awesome/Tanaka match -- and are gonna entertain you no matter that you know what's coming. So I think I can DEFINITELY recommend checking out the replay on Tuesday night, or at the very least that you put this on your DVD Wish List when it comes out in a month or so. You want to see this show. Trust me.
     
    A great night of wrestling. A great capper to the weekend. And if my rambly, free-form memories aren't detailed enough for you (they shouldn't be, I knew I didn't have to recap the show, so I was gladly enjoying beverages at an heroic rate and more worried about having fun than remembering move-by-move chain wrestling sequences like I sometimes have to when I know I'm recapping RAW or whatever), then what you need is Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus' One Night Stand PPV Recap.
     
  • And that brings us to TONIGHT, when it's entirely possible that we keep the momentum rolling with another excellent edition of RAW. Last week's was a great start to the Draft Lottery and a fantastic finish-touch on the build-up to the ECW PPV.
     
    Tonight, there's more than enough puzzle piece in place to replicate that success. Keep the heat on the Draft Lottery, and utilize the fall-out from the ECW PPV to give us a little sizzle that we wouldn't normally have.

    Insofar as that goes: Steve Austin is scheduled to be on RAW tonight to oversee an Airing of Grievances from Muhammad Hassan. But Steve Austin also kicked the crap out of RAW GM Eric Bischoff last night on the ECW PPV, and one would have to suspect that there would be repercussions. Even if Bischoff has the "night off" in storylines (to sell the injuries suffered at the PPV), some of his Crusaders (at the very least, Coach) should want to confront Austin tonight. One Night Stand or not, I doubt that we've heard the last about ECW.
     
    And the Draft Lottery? Well, obviously, I'm of the opinion that we need to tone down the fireworks this week... we got the draft off to a big start with two blockbusters, and it'd be realistic to have tonight's draftee be somebody a bit less spectacular. I don't know if you resort to C-level, Velocity talent or anything, but this could be the spot for a Charlie Haas or somebody like that who has SOME Thursday night exposure and unrealized potential. Possibly Rene Dupree could work, too, given how La Resistance seems
    on the brink of a break-up. Guys like that should be about as low down the food chain as you go in the Draft Lottery. For lesser talents, given the month-long format, you're really just gonna have to hold back and sort all that out with trades after the Lottery is done. No way could you justify, in this format, making a big whoop-de-doo over Michelle McCool or Mark Jindrak being drafted.
     
    We also have a main event for tonight locked in: John Cena and Chris Jericho will team up to face Christian and The Lovely Miss Tomko. Simple story here: Christian spent the last month bad-mouthing Cena in anticipation of the draft, and then said draft landed the two face-to-face in the same ring last week. Since it happened on Jericho's watch (on the Highlight Reel), he's Cena's partner-of-convenience. Possible sub-plot: Jericho tried to give Cena advice on how to take his music career more seriously than his wrestling career, which Cena didn't cotton to. Could Jericho no-show on Cena? Or half-ass on him? I don't know... on one hand, it would fit. But on the other, I'm cheering mightily against it. For one: no Jericho heel turn for me, thank you, at least not now (see lord knows however many columns/recaps in the last month with my ideas on how you could play this a LOT more itneresting if you keep Jericho as a babyface). And for two: Christian. The match that I want to see is Christian vs. Cena, and if Jericho does anything heelish tonight, it pretty well telegraphs that Christians just a b-level talent in WWE's eyes, allowed only briefly to flirt with the main event, if they're already setting up Cena's next heel challenger. Could WWE really be so lunk-headed as to do that?
     
    Well, actually: they probably can. Supposedly, the plan is to sacrifice Christian to Cena in a PPV match at Vengeance, and then they'll sort out the roster situation to make sure both brands have a champion, and it could well be the end of Christian's little flirtation with success. Blech on that. I think there are ways to do a little Cena/Jericho tension that wouldn't count as heelishness... and if you ARE gonna sacrifice Christian at the PPV, well, then Junior, the ONLY play tonight is to have that tension somehow result in Christian scoring a pinfall win over Cena to set up the match. [Note: The Rick's Fantasy WWE Pick Of The Week... make sure you've got Christian and Tomko in your line-up! Their combined Buy Price is the same as Cena's (I think), and even if they don't win, they'll rack up good points by working a RAW main event. And they'll rack them up cheaply.]
     
    I guess after the Draft, after ECW fall-out, and after our announced main event, I am obligated to give Fourth Billing to Batista vs. Triple H. Which is me being charitable, given the crappy way this whole thing has unfolded. Listen: I have nothing against a major feud having three chapters on PPV. But I do have something against each one of those three chapters being criminally mis-handled. In this latest case, WWE passed on the potential to do a more compelling, more sensible bit of storytelling to get the Hell in the Cell match signed. It would have involved Ric Flair's evolving dynamic with Batista, and using Flair's pep talk ability and Batista's trust in Flair to set-up the re-rematch. But no: they toss the whole Flair/Batista thing in the garbage a good 2-3 weeks too early, and bring HHH back to TV to illogically demand the rematch that Batista already told him he had no interest in granting. Yet somehow (likely because the Creative Team has no clue about, or possibly no interest in, how to book Batista to look good and intelligent and sensible), the match is now happening. After a "Contract Signing" in which the dialogue was so bad that I honestly can't see anybody other than a fourth-grader being able to stomach it without chuckling at the cheesiness of it all. 
     
    And it goes without saying that "chuckling at cheesiness" is (a) not a good thing when it comes to your main event feud, and (b) probably a poorly-turned phrase on my part since all it makes me think of is countless fourth-grade birthday parties at themed pizza restaurants that feature video games and giant animatronic rodents.
     
    Something else locked in for the upcoming PPV: Edge vs. Kane. One of these weeks, they ought to let Kane do something non-wussy on TV. Maybe it'll be this week. Although, as I said two full weeks ago: it's pretty much at the point where it ceases to matter... the damage is done, and I'm quite sure WWE's idea on how to "fix" it is to have Kane finally OVER-react to the crap around him in a way completely obnoxious and unrealistic that will be no more compelling or interesting to me than the kind of annoying and illogical narrative featured on Edge/Lita's side of this storyline. So far: this has been massively unentertaining crap, only marginally saved by the fact that all parties involved are acting the shit out of it. Pop quiz: if Kane hooks Edge's nutsac up to a car battery, would that be a good thing or a bad thing in the context of this feud? I bring it up only because I'm trying to envision the "obnoxious and unrealistic over-reaction" that WWE might come up with, and that's where I'm at... and I almost think I *would* get a laugh out of that.
     
    Although, again: WWE should not be trying to make me laugh in the middle of what are supposed to be serious stories. And it wouldn't be the good kind of laughing, either. It'd be the kind of "Oh, jesus, no wonder people look at me weird if I let them know I watch wrestling" self-pitying laughter....
     
    Something else I fully expect to be in line for a spot on the Vengeance PPV: Victoria vs. Spaz. Two weeks ago was a "win" for Victoria. Last week was a "win" for Spaz. Seems to me we have an issue to settle here. Only problem: it seems that WWE realized that if they let Victoria kick-ass, she'll be cheered. So last week, they changed it up in hopes that Spaz would get cheered if she was aggressive. Which is a good idea on paper. But the problem is that Victoria can LOOK CONVINCING at kicking ass. Spaz cannot. It's gonna create a mild problem is they keep trying to convince us to take Spaz seriously as a wrestler, but she's unable to follow-through with plausible offense. At some point: fans will realize that spastic flailing is Christy's only offense and will lose interest. I'm not saying I have a solution in this case (well, other than finding a genie in a bottle, and using one of my wishes to make Trish Stratus 100% healthy again, and my second one to get Molly Holly back and under the command of a creative team that will utilize her properly, thus eliminating the problem of Spaz having to wrestle at all until she's properly trained to do so; it goes without saying that my third wish would be to wish for more wishes because I am ever so crafty that way), but I am pointing out that this is gonna be a tough little deal for WWE to book effectively.
     
    Of course, with all this going on, there are bound to be some folks neglected. Like the IC and Tag Champs, who are both utterly without direction.... Shelton MIGHT get some play as part of the Hassan/Austin Airing of Grievances, but it won't be a chance for him to do what he does best (which is to kick ass in a match against a decent-quality opponent). And I guess MAYBE HurriRosey could do a tag title mini-thingie with the Heartthrobs after last week? I dunno....
     
    I guess there being "too much show" to adequately feature everybody isn't really a huge black mark, though. If I'm being entertained for 2 hours straight, I won't have time to register any smarky complaints about the sad state of the tag division, or anything... I'll be too busy having a good time.
     
    So here's hoping that with all the place-setting done by last week's RAW and by the ECW PPV that tonight's show serves up a tasty meal for us. Check it out. And then, whether you check it out or not, you come on back here to OO tomorrow, where you will be able to enjoy the Finest RAW Recap In All The Land. Not only is there no such thing as having "too much show," but the OO Recap Motto is that there's no such thing as having "too much awesome."
     
  • Some fall-out stuff from the ECW PPV....
     
    First and foremost, the Blue Meanie was incongruously busted open at the end of the PPV. I had no clue as to how it happened as I was watching, but by the time I got home to collect Scotty's recap, I also had e-mails explaining the whole story.
     
    Apparently, JBL took it upon himself to beat up Meanie. This was in response to interviews in which Meanie referred to JBL as a locker-room bully (note: this is a label that is disputed by almost no one; JBL has a 10th grader's fascination for garnering respect through intimidation, and it's something that is rarely-if-ever questioned because it dovetails so nicely into the out-dated locker-room mindset of "respect through tenure," which means that since JBL's been with the company longer than just about anybody else, he's allowed to dictate such things). By attacking Meanie from behind in the middle of a 40-man brawl and then using his fists (instead of his words) to rebut Meanie's accusation, JBL actually (and quite ironically) proved Meanie to be correct.
     
    There will, of course, be absolutely no repercussions for JBL. Except for the part where even more people will probably think even less of his, but won't exactly be in a rush to tell him to his face since it'd probably only earn them an ass-whupping. Bottom line: any man over the age of 15 who throws the first (real) punch in a fight is almost certainly stupid, an asshole, massively insecure, or some combination of all three. Or possibly drunk: although that's no excuse either.
     
    Anyway: it's called being a grown-up: look into it. Seriously: some guy voices a (relatively benign) opinion about you on a website read by a few thousand people, and you don't have the self-confidence to just say, "Blue Whoie? I'm the one with a six-figure job, working in TV main events seen my millions; let him say whatever he wants, it doesn't bother me."? Lame, JBL, lame. Maybe your actions make perfect sense to you and Bob Holly, there's a couple billion of us out here trying to have a society, and there's more and more of us normal, sane, rational people in the wrestling business every day. Eventually, maybe you'll realize that things like Unwritten Codes and Lockerroom Justice are antiquated notions that do more harm than good to the business.
     
  • End rant, so a fresh bullet-point for the rest of the One Night Stand fall-out....
     
    Apparently: no dark matches for the live crowd. Despite a promise that there would be bonus things for the live audience, I guess that was pretty much limited to a post-show celebration in which Tommy Dreamer was the last to leave.
     
    Vince McMahon was present at the show, and although Paul Heyman was largely given the freedom to do what he wanted, Vince's presence made it clear that there was gonna be a ceiling through which Paul E. could not break. Shane McMahon was also there, but more than one report said he was practically there just as a fan: still helping out on a ton of stuff backstage, but also clearly enjoying the whole spectacle of the event.
     
    Sabu, Rey Mysterio, and Psicosis were supposedly not satisfied in their own performances. That says a lot, to me: because this was not like JBL vs. Cena at WM21, where a match was so bad that any honest man would had to have admitted that it sucked (which apparently both JBL and Cena did cop to)... these matches were very well performed at One Night Stand. Neither match got more than 8-10 minutes, which would be more of a limitation/problem than anything in the performance aspect. Rey was apparently only at about 80% on his bad ankle, but I never really noticed it... and as far as Sabu went: I didn't think he hit the finisher totally cleanly, but it still looked like it hurt Rhyno, so it was believable. And what the hell kind of standard is Sabu gonna hold himself up to given what he's been through the past 6 months (and what he went through in the ring on Friday night)? Still: it says alot about how important it was for all three guys to deliver the goods if they were dissatisfied with performances that left every single fan satisfied...
     
  • Now some catching up on news that has been piling up the last 4-5 days....
     
    The TNA/WGN deal is dead. And where did you (sort of) hear about it first? From me. Yay for my bi-annual scOOp.
     
    I guess word that WGN officially cut off negotiations with TNA started circulating this weekend, but back last Wednesday, we talked about how WGN had already made plans for 8pm on Monday, June 20 (the rumored start date of a TNA show on WGN), and how that boded ill for TNA's prospects.
     
    I was still leaving the door open for a later start-date on WGN, but apparently that was my blind optimism getting the better of me. Instead: there is no future for TNA on WGN.
     
    This PROBABLY leaves TNA without national TV exposure until the Fall, since that's when most real networks shuffle up their schedules and introduce new shows. WGN is an independent SuperStation that was not bound by that standard.... I would also suggest that a return to Fox Sports Net would be an alternative if TNA wants to get back on TV before September, since their regional patchwork quilt of a network is not bound by traditional programming rules.
     
    Fans who have heard that TNA is holding a TV taping next Tuesday should unbunch those panties immediately: the content will not have a national TV outlet domestically. That TV taping is being done to satisfy programming arrangements made overseas. There is also a chance that TNA will utilize the internet to distribute some semblance of a weekly TV show. But do NOT assume that a TV taping next week means anything with regards to TNA's imminent return to television.
     
    As far as the particulars of the TNA/WGN breakdown go, there are, predictably, two sides to the story. The WGN side is that they walked away (sensible given that TNA has failed to prove to be a ratings draw at any point on FSN); the TNA side is that THEY walked away due to how the contract would be structured (a bit less sensible, unless TNA actually has another -- and BETTER -- offer on the table). I guess the basic parameters of the deal were agreed on at one point: that TNA would pay for the Monday night timeslot. But then there were divisive arguments over whether the price of the timeslot should change based on TNA's ratings performance or what percentage of ad revenue would go to WGN or to TNA...
     
    The real facts about those debates are cloudy as hell, and at some level don't make much sense to me, since the one thing TNA isn't too worried about is the Financial Bottom Line. At least, not to the point of bickering over the equivalent of nickels and dimes. Again: this goes back to the TNA/Panda Energy relationship, a "long haul" mentality, and a bit of creative accounting, but it's not like Panda is breathing down TNA's neck demanding that they become instantly profitable...
     
    But maybe the "long haul" mentality means that TNA is willing to pass on a WGN deal if they honestly believe that they can (a) fashion a better deal on another network for the fall, and (b) maintain some semblance of being a real wrestling company even without a TV show for the next 3 months. It won't be easy, especially in an industry driven so much by perception (and where the perception of not having a TV show results only in negative things).
     
    We'll see how it goes. A bunch of people have been mailing in over the weekend with all kinds of ideas. I don't know which ones are their own, and which ones are things they read on other sites. All I can tell you at this point is that you need to narrow your speculation a bit: some people were actually naming networks owned by NBC/Universal as possible outlets for TNA, which is obviously so retarded that I shouldn't have to explain why. Realistically, I'd have to think that coming up with some deal with appear on Spike TV (even if it was financially bad for the company) might have to be what TNA fans latch onto as the best possible alternative: not only would they benefit from it being a proven slot for pro wrestling that MIGHT steal a few viewers that way... but the idea is to package a TNA show (at 8pm) with the return of the stupid UFC Reality Show (at 10PM) to create a Monday Night Block.
     
    I don't know how well that'd work, since part of the UFC show's success was due to having RAW as lead-in, and NOT as competition... I like UFC fights just fine, but I have no patience for the lame-ass reality show framework. I'd hope a lot of people would be with me on that. "Ohhhh, look, a couple of assholes living in the same house don't get a long." Whoop-de-shit. Even if the season could, possibly, end with them having a real fight, I just could not care less. And plus: RAW would certainly crush the one hour of TNA that it over-lapped with, too. Which is why I say it'd be a possibly "financially bad" deal for the company (if they can't meet performance incentives), but would still give them the best CHANCE of stealing a few eyeballs.
     
    Again: at this point, a return to FSN wouldn't shock me, either. Keeping in mind that all the NBC/Universal networks are out of play for TNA, and not forgetting that the Viacom networks may NOT be in the best of spirits as it pertains to wrestling (UPN is already in the process of preparing for life after SD!, and that doesn't come for another 15 months), suddenly, your options for cable networks are limited. The ABC/Disney/ESPN networks and the Turner/Time Warner networks are the other two big conglomerates. And at least one of them already decided 4 years ago it didn't want to be in the wrestling business anymore.
     
    I can't imagine TNA not having a TV deal for the fall if they intend to survive the year. And again: maybe it's just my naive optimism, but I DO think that they must have designs on surviving the year if they went to the trouble of signing Styles and Daniels to long-term contracts... but the flip side of my naive optimism is my pragmatism which is that it's inexcusable that all this wasn't worked out well in advance, and that TNA (under the guise of "waiting for the right offer") could end up being off TV for 3 months or more.
     
    Again: it's all about perception, and it's hard to spin the story of not having a TV to create positive perception among anybody who isn't already an ardent TNA fan.
     
  • Even as the future of TNA is hazier than ever, it's looking like ECW will continue to exist under the WWE banner in some capacity.
     
    As outlined above, the Austin/Bischoff dynamic from the ECW PPV is something almost sure to have repercussions on RAW tonight. And on Thursday, the Dudleys are SD!-contracted wrestlers who could conceivably return "home" only to declare that they don't consider SD! to be their home at all. Plus: there was a Tazz/Angle brawl at the PPV, but absolutely no closure between those two.
     
    Also: remember that thing I said last Monday about the One Night Stand contracts purportedly being for more than one night of work? And how that made me look ever so smart when guys like Sandman showed up on RAW and SD! last week? Well: who's to say that we've for sure seen the last of those ECW guys? Maybe just a little something that serves as a "farewell" to RAW/SD! fans who didn't order the ECW PPV? Maybe something that hints that "Sure it was a One Night Stand, but if we see fit, we might come back"? A lot of possibilities....
     
    Of course, that brings us to the big question which is exactly what form ECW will take in the future. An actual full-time entity just strikes me as unlikely, no matter HOW MUCH money the PPV made; Vince has a real hard time (either consciously or sub-consciously) letting something that he didn't create scoop his own creations' heat. But perhaps as a semi-regular PPV phenomenon? Or something that is featured on periodic TV specials? I think we will see the ECW name live on past last night, if only to facilitate an expanded Home Video/Merchandise Release schedule.
     
    Speaking of merchandise: if somebody wanted to release Tazz's FTW baseball jersey from last night, I'd take one. Assuming, at least, that it had nothing stupid on the back.
    [For that was the downfall of me wanting to have the Jericho/Rangers Hockey Jersey.... to make it wear-able would require customization in the form of ripping all the gay stuff off the back. Replacing it, of course, with a nice big number 00.]
     
    Anyway: my point is that if Vince/WWE thinks there's money to be made off ECW, then we haven't seen the last of ECW. It's just a question of what form ECW will take... and that's something that I don't think even WWE has decided upon as yet. So anything I'd write here would be purest speculation.
     
  • Last week's SD! did a 3.3 broadcast rating, pretty close to SD!'s recent averages. Twas a good show, and scored a good rating, even up against Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Which is more than could be said about RAW's performance up against Game 7 of the NBA Conference Finals back last Monday.
     
  • A half-dozen or so readers pointed me to a very interesting Ivory interview down for some internet audio show.
     
    It's "interesting" in the sense that Ivory seemed a very willing interview subject no matter what the topic, and wound up espousing some beliefs that we all share around here. Befuddlement that Molly/Gail/Jazz are gone; annoyance with the Diva Search; frustration with HHH's promos... stuff that it's OK for us to talk about, but which I was kind of surprised to hear about coming from a WWE contracted personality.
     
    Sadly, I thought the hosts did a kind of shoddy job in terms of asking follow-ups to capitalize on Ivory's candidness. There were lots of times during the interview that I was itching to get an amplification or clarification, and was certain that if asked, Ivory would have responded honestly... but most of those times, it didn't happen, and it was on to the next subject. I dunno: then again it's entirely possible that Ivory's extreme verbosity made it hard to conduct a quality interview (not being familiar with the hosts in question, I don't have any idea if they've been stronger with other, less-talkative, guests).
     
    But anyway, the lucky thing is that the "next subject" was usually something pretty interesting, too. I think you'll be shocked to hear how many "smart fan" opinions Ivory holds (although there are also more than a few things where there might be divergence, either of opinion or of the level of patience/diplomacy she maintains even when she isn't pleased with something). I thank those who passed along the link to the Real Media file, and would endorse you checking it out
    . Just click here to download it from WrestlingEpicenter.com; it's a pretty tiny file for being about a 90 minute interview (12meg, which is like 3 mp3s, and should be tolerable even for 56K).
     
  • Speaking of mp3s, just a quick little request if you can help me out... the Foo Fighters 24 hour thing on MTV2 seemed to be largely quite awesome based on what I could squeeze onto my DVR while I was out of town.
     
    The problem that developed is that MTV2 didn't exactly do a great job of sticking to their published schedule. So I'd had things set up to try to record things that were more the live performances and more Foo-centric items. But then they wouldn't happen in their allotted timeslot. So I think I missed a few cool things. Especially annoying is that they started the acoustic set about 15 minutes late, so I only got half of it recorded (the recording cut out in the middle of "End Over End," which is an Early Leader in terms of favorite tracks off the new album). If anybody knows where mp3s (especially of that acoustic set), or other highlights from the 24 hour thing can be gotten on the internet, let me know. Torrents or web downloads, preferably. I'm off the whole Kazaa thing, so don't suggest I check there.
     
    Another thing I must have: the solo-Grohl version of "Everlong," which was so freaking pretty that I intended to save it. But then last night, in my drunken post-One Night Stand rush to get through as much DVR material as possible, when I got to the end of that 30 minute block, I hit "Delete" on the grounds that I temporarily forgot about the song in the middle of the show, and just remembered that it was part of a lame-ass "Get Married on MTV" half-hour show that clearly I would have no desire to save. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So yeah: I must have that "Everlong," too.
     
    To make this tangentially about wrestling: Did You Know? That one of the two VJs who helped quarterback the 24 hours and allowed the Foo Fighters to get naps is apparently a wrestling fan. I forget his name, but when intro'ing a performance of "Razor" (off the new album), the guy stopped and paused to give a shout out to his "peeps" and did a little bit of the Razor Ramon "me, me, me" thingie. You know what I'm talking about. I loves it when my hobbies all tie together like that.
     
    Actually, while I'm on the wrestling hobby tying things together, let me go all PWTorch on you with another pointless note that deserves not to be in print! Because ANOTHER bit of my frantic DVR Clearinghouse Job done last night after One Night Stand was the latest "Family Guy." Which featured not one, but TWO wrestling references. First to Andre the Giant (specifically to the "Andre Has a Posse" thing), and second to Macho Man Randy Savage. Freaking sweet.
     
    And on that note, I do believe I have exhausted just about everything worth talking about today. And even a few things NOT worth talking about, but which I talked about anyway. I gots to be me.
     
    So enjoy RAW, and I'll see you again soon, folks....


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 

 


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