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PPV Fall-out, RAW, Supershow Zaniness,
Lesnar, Angle, and Interview Goodness
June 27, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


America, it's official: you are collectively a bunch of fucking retards.

Because it's one thing to have a vast reservoir of mediocre, easily-entertained chair moisteners drinking deeply from mind-numbing Suck like NASCAR and Will Smith Romantic Comedies... we simply must deal with you idiots, and keep you placated enough that you don't come bother us at the Grown Ups Table of life. You do your thing, and we'll do ours, and ne'er the twain shall meet.

But it's another thing entirely when the Grown Ups that I've posited reveal THEMselves to be retards, too. It's no gimmick when I say that I honestly find 95% of people are useless, and that I'm always extremely gratified and happy to find other members of the Five Percent Club and add them to my short list of Approved Acquaintances. It's just that after

something I saw last night, I live in fear that the Five Percent Club might actually be more like the Two Percent Club, or something. Which would explain a whole lot...

Because members of the Five Percent Club *should* be sane, rational, well-grounded people with exceptional taste, good judgment, and a level of intelligence that -- even if it's not codified in the form of college degrees or anything "official" -- includes a certain amount of awareness, intellectual curiosity, good humor, and perspective. The Five Percent Club should enjoy activities such as ocassionally cracking open books, staying up on current events, and knowing what number Discovery Channel is on your cable system...

But my faith in the Five Percent Club was rocked last night when they named Ronald Reagan as the Greatest American Ever on said Discovery Channel. Apparently, even members of the class of giant dweebs who watch "infotainment" TV on the grounds that it's better to be curious about the inner workings of the Cuban Missile Crisis than it is to be curious about the inner workings of Which American Idol Paul Abdul Is Boning are not without their ability to be complete morons. Ronald Reagan? Really? Even Ronnie's OWN SON appeared on the show and, despite attempting to sound gracious, pretty much said, "You idiots, my dad wasn't the Greatest American Ever, and I'm almost ashamed to be giving this speech."

This was a show determined entirely by Viewer Voting. And I'll restrain myself from getting angry about who was left off the initial list of 100 candidates, since that was done by just going out in public and questioning the aforementioned unwashed masses of idiots (many of whom actually championed Dr. Phil or Tom Cruise to the point where both made it on the list). These are the same retards who couldn't even be trusted with "Bo vs. Carrie," so I'm not shocked that they selected such an embarassing list of candidates. But once that process was done, the whittling down was done on Discovery Channel, ostensibly by The Five Percent Club, and *that* is where I get furiously angry and incredibly frustrated. Because Billy Graham (not even the wrestler Billy Graham, the Jesus Billy Graham) and fucking OPRAH made the top 12. Lance Armstrong is in the Top 20. Which is just unbelievable. Literally: I cannot believe that was allowed to happen. 

And George W. Bush, our current president? Was about to make it into the Round of Five until (praise the gods!) Benjamin Franklin made a late run to bounce him to sixth. Which is STILL a freakin' joke, considering that Dubya's "legacy" is only half-written and I'm not so sure we know how he's gonna end up looking in THREE years, much less a hundred and three years from now. 

I thought when we got to the Final Five, the show finally seemed on track, since it was four guys who belonged there and Reagan (who I assumed had No Chance In Hell of winning). I thought it would be interesting to tune into the finale and see how things worked out, since the Final Five Show was so infotaining. But I was wrong. My faith in the Five Percent Club has been crippled by the crowning of Ronald Reagan as the Greatest American Ever. 

Assuming you fancy yourself a fellow member of my Five Percent Club (you pompous ass! and *that* is why I'm thinking about paring it down to a Two Percent Club, to get rid of deadweight like you!), you might enjoy weeping with pity at America's awareness of its own past by checking out the Top 25 Americans List at Discovery's website.

And then, you might enjoy me getting to the fricking point, in the form of some wrestling talk:

  • Don't have a whole lot I can say or add at this point, as it regards last night's Vengeance PPV. At least, not that I didn't already say last night in the Immediate Post-Show Recap.
    It's not a show that quite delivered the sizzle that I'd half-expected (or maybe half-HOPED would be more fair): it's not one that anybody will remember as historically significant a year from now (or even a month from now). But it was a show that featured two excellent matches (and three over good ones)... so lack of Major Event Atmosphere aside, this could still end up being a show which has "rewatchability." And that pretty much seems to be what WWE is capable of delivering these days: with a glut of PPVs and in inability to really distinguish the PPV product as being as special as it once was, a few good matches and "rewatchability" are the best we can hope for. But the days of sitting here on a post-PPV Monday feeling like I'm dissecting an event that will be remembered fondly for years to come are gone... I think the last time WWE really delivered a show like that was probably last year's WM20, as it paid off on the Fed's last extended run of outright-awesomeness (Survivor Series 2003 to WM20).
    Am I saying these things to try to make my compliments towards Vengeance as back-handed as possible? Not really... I don't think I'm saying anything fresh or new if I posit that WWE has failed to find the balance between a PPV model that benefits the financial bottom line and a PPV model that benefits the creative process. WWE's ability to create Moments -- "momentosity," as I believe I dubbed it months ago and then forgot that I was gonna try to get that over as a new term until just now -- has never been this diluted, and the PPV model's a part of that. Vengeance, good as it was at times, will ultimately be forgotten to the mists of time because of this problem. 
    Shelton/Carlito, Kane/Edge, and Cena/Jericho/Christian were all good matches, about 12 minutes long; but there were no moments there (in fact, my biggest gripe about the WWE Title 3 way is that for as well-worked as the match was, it was shocking devoid of any real drama or tension, leading up to a too-easy, opponent's-credibility-crushing win for Cena). Michaels/Angle was 30 minutes of VERY goodness, but by design and necessity, did have the feel of a middle chapter, and didn't contain any Moments. The Hell in the Cell main event was the match of the night, and did bring us a taste of the Big Show Atmosphere; but it was also the climax to a poorly-told story, and I think that although Batista vanquishing HHH will help the Big Man out, it's only in WWE's own head (which is, as always, position firmly up its own ass) that they created a "Moment," there. Because HHH's ownership of the HitC gimmick is bullshit that few fans buy into (it doesn't matter how many he's been in and won, it matters whose names are intimately tied to the Cell, and HHH would be lucky to be #4 on that list), because HHH's Unbeatable Pedigree is bullshit that no fans who can remember back longer than 3-4 months should be asked to swallow, and because WWE's mishandling of Batista meant fans are likely only relating to him about half-as-much as they were 5 months ago when his "push" ostensibly started. It was definitely a great match, but "moments" were not in evidence there. 
    But still, within the framework that they must operate, WWE and all the guys who stepped into the ring last night delivered the goods about as best they can. Whatever grand theoretical complaints I might have about creative teams and PPV models exist at a higher level and a different place than where I was last night when I was being mostly-entertained by Vengeance. If you like good wrestling, you'll like Vengeance, and I'd even recommend the replay to those who didn't see the show, just on the grounds that the two top matches were that good. You'll have a good time watching it, even if, as soon as it's done, you never really think back to it ever again; kinda like having a Bacon Mushroom Melt at Wendy's. Tasty as hell, but not something you're gonna be thinking and talking about the next day. Unless you REALLY want to bore and alienate your friends.
    You could argue that all WWE PPVs these days are "fast food," which is what it is... but at least Vengeance was a fancy, higher-priced gimmick burger that is only available for a Limited Time. Nothing off the 99 cent Value Menu here. But still: one of these months, wouldn't it be nice if WWE treated us to a sit-down meal somewhere? Maybe just a nice steak, but if WWE springs for a nice bottle of wine, I'd so TOTALLY let it have its way with me later that night. I'm such a slut for wrestling PPVs that I actually want to have on tape/DVD, and the Fed just isn't serving those up lately...
    But still: Vengeance was a fun show and an easy Thumbs Up. And again, if it's more details you crave, I finished up the OO PPV Recap last night after the show, and it should butter your popcorn quite adequately.
  • And I guess this leads logically enough into a quick discussion of tonight's RAW... because after Vengeance, RAW doesn't have any PPV responsibilities again until SummerSlam in almost 2 months' time.
    I'd say that means tonight begins a "reset mode," but really, other than Batista/HHH seeming to have come to a close, I'm not sure that anything else was decisively settled. And plus: with the Draft Lottery and a week of Trading, it'd probably be best to not start ranting about Reset Mode until after the rosters are set and we know with what we'll be resetting. At this point, just about the only thing I'd feel sure of is that Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle will find some way to keep the hostilities brewing until a Rubber Match at SummerSlam...
    Other than that? Who stays on RAW, who goes to SD!, and who'll be feuding with whom? Seems kinda up in the air.
    I think Chris Jericho's a guy very likely to end up on SD!, if only because you can have two heels with interview segments on the same show... so the Highlight Reel probably relocates to Thursdays. I also still think that one of the two established titles will have to end up on SD!... but with Cena retaining, I think he'd only be eligible to move via TRADE (I don't know if I'm making this up, or if it's a real rule, but I THINK you can't be redrafted, right/), which would make Batista going to SD! the more likely alternative. Because really, what would SD! have to give up to convince Eric Bischoff to send them Cena in a trade? 
    Dream Fantasy Scenario: tonight on RAW, Jericho declares (on what turns out to be the final Highlight Reel Ever On RAW) that Cena didn't pin HIM last night at the PPV, and insists upon a one-on-one match. Cena grants it. Jericho beats him. Jericho gets lotteried to SD!. Jericho eventually does a Title Unification Feud with SD! Champ Chris Benoit. This, of course, will never happen. For all the same reasons that I didn't pick it to happen in the PPV Preview. But it never hurts to pretend, right?
    Turning the tables to the issue of who shows up on RAW tonight as a draftee from SD!... it's probably pretty wide open. You could actually take one of the six men in the "SD! Title Gauntlet Match" and have them come over, and you'd still have a compelling five-way match on Thursday. And as far as name wrestlers NOT in that match go: if last week's kick-ass Eddie/Rey match is intended to be their blow-off, either one of them could be fair game, too.
    My personal guesses (remember, this week, we get TWO draft picks, not just one): Benoit and Hassan are out (if there's no redrafting), Taker's got Orton to deal with on SD! now so he's out, too. I get this sick feeling WWE wants to turn JBL face against Hassan. So just like that, I'm down to thinking it can only really be four guys tonight: Booker, Big Show, Eddie, or Rey. Of the four, the only one who I could InstaBook into a cool spot would be Big Show, who could show up and squash Chris Fucking Masters like a bug, while the world rejoices at the end of the Full Nelson Challenge.
    Tazz, also, would be a "name" wrestler, and part of me is still pining for the Announce Team Reshuffling, so I'll throw him out there again, too. And then there are some others from SD! who I think would benefit by coming to RAW (Charlie Haas, Michelle McCool, and Rene Dupree -- unless Conway/Grenier BOTH go to SD!, in which case Dupree can stay), but those are smaller names who'd have to be sorted out via trading, not via lotterying.
    Other threads to be addressed tonight: Lillian's heart has been broken by Viscera, which I hope is the beginning of the end for Sexy Vis; hell hath no fury, and all, and Viscera has now scorned TWO women, one of whom I'd really love to see back on TV as soon as possible.... Kane seemed to fully decimate Edge, but might have unfinished business since he didn't get his hands on Lita (could Edge be drafted to SD!, leaving Lita alone with Kane on RAW?)... Christy and Victoria probably aren't done with each other, either... and oh, the Diva Search; the spiteful, hateful Diva Search. That won't be pretty.
    About the only other thing I can think of to say about tonight's RAW is that we're sure to get some kind of NON-wrestling appearances by Batista and HHH, who will be in Ultra-Over-Sell Mode after the match they had last night. HHH's vocal chords, sadly, will have sustained no damage so I'm sure he'll have a lot to say to remind us why we shouldn't count last night's loss and how he's still mega-super-duper-awesome. Batista, more than likely, will continue to be mute, since that's just how WWE rolls. 
    Another little idea that popped into my head: if Batista's in such shitty condition tonight, could Edge cash in his "Money in the Bank" in an attempt to capitalize on that? And if so, would it be even remotely feasible to consider Edge beating Batista (and maybe taking the World Title to SD!)? If not for the one-sided loss to Kane last night, I'd almost buy that as a possibility...
    Anyway, should be an interesting show. Lots of possibilities for all the swerves and craziness that we didn't get last night. And if nothing else, the roster picture and RAW's basic direction for the next few months heading to SummerSlam should clear up a bit. So check it out... and if you don't, well, that's what OO's Finest RAW Recap In All The Land is for. As of this early evening, I must now rewrite this paragraph to say that you will be in *my* capable hands tomorrow, as The Broad just contacted me and is claiming Debilitating Illness will keep her from even watching RAW, much less staying up late to recap it. Will the girl never get healthy? I'm making MYSELF sick with how many well-intentioned-but-ultimately-flaccid "get wells" and "feel betters" I've been socially obligated to throw her way the last month...
    On the upside, Erin's thinking she'll do next Monday for you kids. Which is great for me, too, since I'll be out drinking and setting things on fire next Monday night, as is my right as an American Citizen who knows better than to vote for Ronald Reagan as the Greatest American Ever.
    But next week is next week. Tonight is tonight. And tomorrow is me doing the RAW Recap. You have been warned.
  • Tonight's RAW is ESPECIALLY laden with possibilities because this is a "supershow." Meaning that RAW will take place live (at 6pm local time in California), and then SD! will be taped immediately following. RAW has full access to BOTH rosters, which could result in some zaniness.
    And could it be more than just both rosters? Because anytime WWE hits LA (in this case, Anaheim), you know they tend to double check with a certain Third Generation Superstar to see if he'll be around. The Rock made his peace with Vince McMahon over WM21 weekend in LA, and you just never know...
    Also: next Monday is the same deal... except, well, no LA-tie-in. But on July 4, RAW and SD! do another "supershow" taping somewhere in California. And if anything, I might hold back the REAL zaniness for that set of tapings. My vision, going back two months when we started hearing the Draft Lottery Format, included one final night where all trades were announced and rosters were "locked in" for another year, and on that night, both rosters should be present so as to make it seem like ANY trade could be made, as long as it was made by the deadline (which should probably be the end of RAW).
    Then again, this is probably just me getting attached to one of my own ideas, so get fired up about it at your own risk... so far this year, WWE has done a handful of "supershow" tapings, and as yet, there has been a grand total of ZERO zaniness, so who am I to go demanding that they start now?
  • In addition to hoping to meet with Sabu, WWE is apparently giving try-outs to Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney, Danny Doring, and Roadkill in the next month or so. My understanding is that WWE is interested in them as tag teams, which says a lot about their tag division if they're pursuing second-tier ECW tag teams. 
  • There was a very interesting interview with Kurt Angle posted on IGN over the weekend, and forwarded to me by a few readers. Some of the interesting tidbits are Kurt confirming what we talked about in the PPV preview (that Vince originally wanted to do Angle/Michaels 2 as a street fight, but Angle didn't think it was necessary to resort to that gimmickry yet), and Kurt talking about one of his jobs on RAW being to help elevate Shelton Benjamin. Mmmmm, again, that was some stuff I put into the PPV Preview, just purely as fantasy booking, but this sounds tasty.
    Kurt also insists he's healthy and once again has the full faith of WWE and Vince McMahon, and is ready to be a top guy. Which sounds good to me.
    You can read the whole interview right here.
  • A bunch of people also sent me to go read a Brock Lesnar interview over the weekend. And while the meat of the article is about Lesnar being inducted into his high school's athletic Hall of Fame, there's some interesting reading near the end...
    In essence, Brock makes the first real public mea culpa to WWE that I'm aware of. Rumors abound that Brock has privately asked for a second shot with WWE, but this is the first time he's gone out in public and apologized for some of the things that went wrong on his way out of WWE last year and said he things he's matured enough to want a second chance.
    Interesting, since one of the sticking points with bringing Brock back was the internal belief in WWE that Brock's statements to the media when he left last year were damaging to the company and to wrestling. This would be a very wise first step for Brock in repairing that little faux pas.
    Brock also says he doesn't know where the legal stuff stands with WWE (note: it stands with the court siding with WWE in terms of NOT offering a summary judgment, which might also be why Brock's now wanting to get on the company's good side, if he or his lawyers think an out of court settlement would be more beneficial than seeing this one through to its legal end), but hopes it blows over and that he has another chance to prove himself to Vince and to the fans.
    And you know what? I hope he does, too. I realize there is a question of character here, and I don't deny that's a relevant issue. But for a company that retains the services of many known assholes to make "character" the sole issue in deciding whether or not to (re-)hire a guy seems silly. At least Brock, when he heads out to the ring, is an asshole who could give the fans their money's worth. I guess WWE only likes assholes if they are LOYAL assholes? JBL and Bob Holly, I'm looking at you...
    Anyway, don't know if this really will result in any forward momentum in terms of Brock resuming a WWE career, but I'd really like it if it did. The company could use him.
    You can check out the entire article on Brock right here.
  • Just while I'm thinking of reader-submitted interviews, Ed Ferrera made a few interesting comments while speaking to PWTorch.com. Interesting to me, anyway, since he specifically answered a question about his perception of WWE's feelings about internet fans.
    The portion that caught my eye was this one:
    "The WWE has always had an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) derision of any criticism from the fans. If something is over, it's because the fans "get it." If the fans fart on something, well they "just don't understand what it is that we're doing."

    Well, if THE FANS don't understand/appreciate it... who are they doing it for? That's akin to a hot musical act - let's say U2 - puts out a horrible experimental polka party album. If their fans sh- all over it and it doesn't sell, the band would say, "Well, they just don't get what we're doing." No... the fans get that what you're doing sucks. And they'll stop lining your pockets with their money.

    Wrestling is a more dangerous beast, however, due to the fierce loyalty of the fan base. I've never seen, in any industry, a fan base that will stick around for YEARS while the product suffers. And, while they're sticking around, they're still plunking their money down, with the desperate hope that "TONIGHT will be the night that the product starts to turn around." I know because I was one of those fans for a long time.

    Unfortunately, management only sees the bottom line ($$$), and as long as money continues flowing in, they'll take it as a validation of the product's creative direction, and not listen to the valid criticisms."
    That's probably a more succinct way of saying a whole bunch of things that I've got bubbling up inside of me... and for those of you who write in telling me I'm overreacting and don't know shit, well here: Ed Ferrera's a bit higher up on the Wrestling Foodchain than me, and he's saying the same things in interviews. I likes me some sweet, sweet vindication.
    The link to the entire interview is here.
  • I kinda feel compelled to mention Ferrera's comments because they tie into something I've been thinking alot about the past 2 weeks or so in terms of my own disillusionment and how it tends to come out in the form of "fantasy booking." And I kinda asked you folks about that last week, seeing if you thought it was appropriate, seeing if you liked my ideas better, seeing, in short, if I was "right" in your eyes.
    And the feedback was universally positive, although with an odd undercurrent to it. Which is what made Ferrera's comments resonate with me.... because even if 95% of you who wrote in said, "And hell yeah, your RAW Remixes seem like they'd DEFINITELY be better than the real thing," the majority of you prefaced that by saying, "I didn't really notice anything was that bad until you fixed it."
    Now, the reasons for that seemed to vary. Some of you outright said you don't pay close attention or will flip away from RAW when somethign sucky happens, whereas I have to watch the whole damned thing, which raises my annoyance factor higher than yours. But some of you just really seem like you watch the show, absorb the whole thing, and don't get any vaginal sanding until after I start mentioning problems in the RAW Recap and then mentioning solutions in my Wednesday column. I think this second group is EXACTLY what Ferrera's talking about....
    Fans who are not dumb by any stretch, but who do just sort of keep flocking to the WWE product without registering its shortcomings because it's what they've always done, and they figure one of these weeks, it WILL be a good show. You watch with an uncritical eye, giving WWE a free pass... but then, when I DON'T give WWE that same free pass, you DO recognize the short-comings, retroactively. 
    And at some level, that makes me wonder if I'm really "right" or if I'm just ruining YOUR fandom in some self-aggrandizing mission to make you all as cynical a bunch of assholes as I am.
    But again: for now, I kinda feel some vindication from Ferrera's comments, so I'm not gonna beat myself up over the fact that there might be a few folks out there who enjoy RAW less and less every week because of me. It's not like I"m just bitching about a problem: I'm bitching about a problem and proposing solutions. Solutions that seem to go over well with the audience. It's not my fault if I can half-ass my way to a better RAW than the people getting paid to use their whole asses....
  • I think that's about all I got time for today, folks. I'll see you again for sure on Wednesday, and like I mentioned above, I might see you tomorrow, depending on what the Broad decides to do about RAW Recappening. 
    So see you when I see you....

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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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




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