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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, More on the RAW/SD! Trade,
WWE Financials, Trish/Billy, and MORE!
July 4, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Hope everybody's holiday weekend is going (or, hopefully, if you're too busy to read this till Monday night, DID GO) smashingly.

But perhaps in the interest of International Readers, who will make up a greater-than-usual percentage of today's OO Visitors (while we Americans get drunk and blow shit up), I'll refrain from Blatant Patriotism, and instead talk about something ELSE big that happened this weekend.
 

The "Live-8" concerts have apparently been unofficially dubbed the Greatest And Best Live Shows in the World. And while I'd certainly tip my cap to the sheer scope of them, and while I'm unable to deny that amidst those 80 hours and 150 acts there was some very good stuff, I'm actually left feeling quite underwhelmed. You 

know, if I was the kind of pompous windbag that I like to pretend I am, I'd go all writer-y on you and declare that the problem with Live-8 is the same probably WWE often has: a lack of "Momentosity." A lack of anything special, memorable, or surprising.

I'm sure that the starving Africans don't give a shit about that, and they're the real reason for the season and blah blah blah, but hey: I'm enough of a man to admit that I was paying attention to Live-8 because I wanted to be entertained, not because I have any particular attachment to the event's preferred re-prioritization of Global Affairs. 

Part of the problem was almost certainly with MTV's presentation (jumping around like monkeys from venue to venue, rarely showing complete performances, and the performances they DID stick with sometimes had idiots narrating over the opening and closing bars), but that's par for the course. I knew they wouldn't show all the stuff I wanted to see, I'm willing to wait until they pop stuff up on my AOL-Music-on-Demand channel to see it uninterrupted (because as interested as I might have been in the concerts, I was *not* interested enough to sit in front of my computer, watching streaming video like a loser all day long).

But I honestly do think the bigger part of the problem was that few, if any, artists took the chance to deliver something special and unique. Take out the Black Eyed Peas and the Marleys, and pretty much every "surprise collaboration" was eye-ball-roll-inducing (seriously, first it was Santana, then it was that entire "Save the Music" special, and now it's "Live-8" -- when in the blue hell did Toolbox 20, a/k/a Rob Thomas, become pop music's Most Desired Free Agent for so many established artists?). And the covers down over the course of the day/night? Mostly forgettable (on the high side, Green Day tried hard but mostly failed to pull off the difficult "We Are the Champions,"; and on the low side, I couldn't stop chuckling when Maroon 5 tried and mostly failed to pull off a passable rendition of the so-insanely-simple-and-easy-I-think-even-Fred-Durst-could-do-it "Rockin' in the Free World"). Then the "big finish"? Christ, somebody needs to tell McCartney that it's been nice, but that after 10 years, it might be time to retire the "all-star-jam" version of "Hey Jude" at the ends of these kinds of shows. Blargh. That's been done so many times I didn't think it could POSSIBLY be the real finale. But it was. Huh.

You know what idea I'd had on Saturday at about 6:30 when things were wrapping up? When they carted out George freaking Michael from whatever rock he's been hiding under, I could not help but flash back to a simpler time, when 2 concerts in one day were enough to save Africa and WHAM! ruled the world. And I suddenly got the image in my head of the London show ending with everybody who'd performed coming out on stage to do "We Are the World." Now *that* might have perked me up and made me think that we just saw something special.

Jesus: I even Fantasy Book rock concerts now, apparently. It's a disease, I tells ya. But on a day when The Who showing up unannounced (at least, unannounced as far as I knew) counts as the lone Awesome Surprise, and then MTV ruins it by talking over the opening of their mini-set, and cutting to commercial before it's even over, I can't help but want to Make It Better.

But you people don't show up here to see me make Music better. You show up here because you like it when I make the rasslin' better. So here goes with a Token Holiday Column for you: 

  • We'll start with a quick look ahead towards tonight's RAW. With the draft lottery over, and with (apparently) a lone 10-man trade completed, there's no more zaniness afoot, and it's time to settle down and get the new roster all locked in to the storylines that'll carry the brand through the summertime.
     
    And while there are a few things we can guess about with confidence, right at the top is a huge Question Mark. With Batista gone, John Cena and the WWE Title are on top of the world. And presently, there's no clear vision of who steps up to provide Cena his first major opposition.
     
    Now, if it's *me* I know exactly what I do: I give Chris Jericho the first shot. One-on-one, tell the story well, and those two can headline SummerSlam on the RAW side. Granted, it'd probably amount to Jericho being a sacrificial lamb to establish Cena, but it beats the hell out of the option (ahem, don't pretend like you don't know who I'm talking about). It could be a pretty simple deal, too: Jericho's now been on the losing side of matches against Cena twice, but he was pinned neither time (Christian was pinned in the 3-way, and Tomko was pinned last week on RAW). It'd be the most perfect thing for his character to point out the glaring suckitude of his partners, while professing his own greatness, thus putting himself in position to FINALLY get a one-on-one shot at Cena.
     
    While that makes perfect logical sense, my instinct is that WWE's higher-ups see Cena/Jericho as more a "free-per-view" deal, though... at least, if the lack of faith shown in Jericho over the past 3 years is any indication, I wouldn't hold my breath that they'll suddenly change course on that front. Which leads me looking for other alternatives.
     
    And it wouldn't surprise me if we actually end up with Cena facing another 3-way match by the time SummerSlam rolls around. Because it kinda feels like we're gonna see Kurt Angle and Triple H jockeying for the #1 Contender spot; for one, they verbally sparred a few weeks ago when Kurt debuted on RAW. For two, Kurt said last week he wants to prove he's the best, and said that meant challenging Batista; methinks Kurt STILL has the same goal, but will have just changed targets to Cena. And for three, with Batista gone, HHH can pretend like he's never lost a match in his life and get right back to insisting he's the most greatest wrestler ever, which'll put him back in the hunt.
     
    Kurt's promo/match last week could even be the lynchpin that draws HHH and Angle together again. I figure you might put them at odds a few times in coming weeks, and hope that the fans decide to latch onto one or the other as a semi-likeable babyface... but I just can't stomach the thought of HHH going over Kurt, and I just can't fathom the thought of Kurt going over HHH (after HHH has already done his one Selfless Act of 2005 on behalf of Batista).  Which leads me to believe a three-way feud for the WWE Title is where we could be headed. 
     
    Such a three-way feud also makes me realize just how hopeless Chris Jericho's position really is: as a heel, he's not only behind HHH and Angle, but he's almost certainly behind Edge, and possibly even behind Carlito at this point on the Depth Chart. Go back to everything I was saying back in May, and tell me I wasn't dead-right to be against Jericho's heel turn... I dare you. Then again, who knows? Maybe there's still a chance this can be sorted out and Jericho's heelishness will just have been a brief little dalliance and not a full-fledged turn. There's a lot of options for how you could bring him back around (which again, just go back to May and read up, since I offered up some dandies; and recent developments would  ake it really easy to use Carlito or Tomko as the impetus for Jericho turning back)... then again, he's really only be moving up two spots on the "Depth Chart" if he was working as a babyface. He'd still be behind Cena and Michaels (and probably duking it out with Kane and Big Show for #3, which can't end well for him given Vince McMahon's Big Man Fetish).
     
    But I digress. I figure the Angle/HHH thing is a good bet... and I guess if that happens, the best we can hope for is that Michaels and Jericho decide (in the aftermath of last week's tag match) to hook it up for a little feud. I can think of worse things.
     
    From there, things get a BIT less cloudy, though.
     
    For instance, we know that the IC Title picture is building towards Rob Van Dam taking on Carlito. And since it's on a nice slow burn (to allow RVD to get healthy), you know Carlito will have ample opportunity to run his mouth and create a Biological NEED among fans to see him get his ass kicked by Van Dam at SummerSlam. Should be good stuff.
     
    Edge/Lita and Kane aren't done with each other. Or at least, Kane's not done with Lita after last week's proclamation of living-hell-life-making. And assuming Edge ain't just in it for the sex, he probably oughta do the decent thing and see what he can do about keeping Kane at bay. Then again, many readers raise an interesting point: what's the deal with Edge's "Money in the Bank," now that Batista is on SD!? If Edge tries to withdraw his title shot, does it simply apply to Cena and the WWE Title now? Or do the terms of the Money in the Bank match mean Edge is required to go to SD!? And if Edge goes to SD!, he probably WOULDN'T be allowed to take Lita with him... which opens up some interesting possibilities. That'd be a Mega-Dick Move if Edge actually asked for his title shot knowing it'd put him over on SD!, abandoning Lita on RAW... in other words: perfect for his character.
     
    We also know that there's no end in sight to Project Masterstiff, as the promotional machine is behind Chris Masters. The thing is, unlike Muhammad Hassan, where you could see from the get-go that he was clicking with fans (even if in the cheapest of ways) and could envision him having upward mobility (which he has), Chris Masters is 6 months into his TV Career, and he's still only playing with the C-level talent. No upward mobility, no nothing. Just week after week of stultifying boredom. Sadly, this week, Masters will be squashing a C-level talent who totally deserves to be better than C-level: I'm quite sure we'll get a Masters/Tajiri match tonight, and I'm equally as sure that Masters ain't gonna lose. And as sure as I am of those things, I'm even MORE sure that it'll be a spirit-sapping waste of 5 minutes of precious TV time and that not one single interesting thing will happen and that nobody in the live audience or watching at home will give a shit. Viva la Masterstiff!
     
    And I guess if we're talking about Stuff That'll Suck, I might as well mention that the Competition Portion of the 2005 Diva Search begins tonight, with Sgt. Slaughter patriotically overseeing a "Bikini Boot Camp." Chicks in bikinis navigating an obstacle course: truly THIS is what the Founding Fathers had in mind on that fateful day 229 years ago! I still stand by what I said last week: given the way fans continue to shit on all these segments (every single one of them last year, and they are now one-for-one on booing THIS year's version), one of the girls should go into business for herself and "turn heel" on the entire contest. That'd be sweet: "You want me to do what, Coach? You know, I don't think so. Because last week, I played along and stripped down to my underwear and got booed by these fans. And frankly, I thought I looked pretty good, so they couldn't have been booing me. They were booing your retarded contest, Coach. These fans didn't pay to see me do an obstacle course, they paid to see a wrestling show, dammit. And since I got work to do before I can wrestle, I figure the least I can do for these folks is cut a killer promo on you, Coach, you horrifying shill. Thank you, good night, and the rest of you bimbos have fun rolling around in the mud and getting booed for it! I'm gonna go backstage and have a drink and laugh my ass off at all of you. Remember: Vote for me, Rick's Imaginary Diva, in 2005!"
     
    Won't happen, but don't you kinda wish it would? Sadly, we all know that the one thing that is not permitted to happen on "reality TV" (which the Diva Search attempts to approximate) is anything Actually Real...
     
    Speaking of Reality TV Shows, besides the next chapter of the Diva Search, the only other things we know for certain is happening tonight is that Hulk Hogan will be on Carlito's Cabana, which should be nominally more interesting. It'll depend on how much lame hype for Hogan's new VH-1 series, and how much they actually do entertaining mic work and character development. I'm not sure, exactly, what kind of "out" you have for the bit, but it might not be out of the question for Hogan to verbally fellate John Cena. And from there, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to having Cena show up on the Cabana, possibly to set up a match (against Carlito would make sense given their past; but hey, if you want to get Jericho in and out of the title picture quickly, Jericho could even crash the Cabana and insist on his shot at Cena THAT way, which might be pretty cool, and would give WWE a "free-per-view" match for next week). But pretty much as long as there are no 4-minute Viacom-sponsored video packages about Hogan's crap-ass TV show, I'll probably be OK with whatever they do with the Hulkster and the Cabana.
     
    Some other lingering issues: what to do with the Big Show, who came over from SD!, squashed Snitsky, and now has absolutely nothing interesting on his plate.... what to do with Shelton Benjamin, who lost his IC Title, lost his IC Title rematch, and now has absolutely nothing interesting on his plate... what to do with Hurricane and Rosey, who are the tag champs, have done nothing wrong, but still have absolutely nothing interesting on their plates... and finally: one of these weeks, let's just get closure on Big Vis, OK? I'm stumping for his ritual humiliation at the hands of Trish and Lillian, if only so I can be massively pissed off and disappointed when it doesn't actually happen that way.
     
    Should be an interesting and educational show tonight. Yeah, there threatens to be some Suck involved, but with the rosters now locked-down, we should also start getting a better idea of where key stories and key personnel are headed after the past month of Extreme Flux. That'll be kinda neat to find out. So check it out... or come on back to OO tomorrow for the Finest RAW Recap In All The Land if you happen to miss it (or just want to read a better version of the show than the one WWE produced!).
     
    After a week of vague innuendo, I can state with certainty that The Broad will be handling the RAW Recap tomorrow. It worked out great: I got all my drinking and fireworks going on all-day today and well into tonight, but Erin's big plans were for yesterday, which means she can pick up the slack for me. As Tenacious D once sang, "That's fuckin' teamwork"; everybody wins!  Let us just all hope that the Broad is sufficiently recovered from weekend festivities so as to include Rum as a Key Recappening Accessory tonight. Because there sure look like there's gonna be parts of the show tonight that will deserve her worst. And by "worst," I actually mean "best." What's Bad News for the monkeys on WWE's creative team is Good Reading for us lucky home viewers....
     
  • Going back to last week's "blockbuster" news really quickly... 
     
    The 10-man trade (with Hiroko as an "add-on" with Kenzo, ala Daivari with Hassan) between RAW and SD! is a completely baffling brainfart on WWE's part, if you ask me. There is not one single element of this trade (other than trading the Useless Diva Candice over to SD! where she will be surrounded by more of her own ilk) that makes any sense to me.
     
    The particularly confounding ones:
     
    D. Basham going over to RAW... why? The Bashams have limited value as a team, but much less as singles. In a tag scene as dilluted as WWE's why you'd break up one of your few established tandems is beyond me.
     
    Chavo Guerrero to RAW.... why? He's a rare cruiserweight who can actually work as a heel. Most cruisers have movesets and personalities that make it hard for fans to hate them (note: the Mexicools will be babyfaces before too long; BANK ON IT~!), but Chavo was a ROCK for that division. Now, he's gone.
     
    William Regal to SD!.... why? His dynamic with Eugene is too awesome to dismiss so off-handedly, and plus he's also got a pairing with Tajiri that is down the tubes now, too. Regal, in many ways, is a guy who I viewed as a lynchpin to Eugene's return, and now, he's gone. Poof. And for what reason? What good things await him on SD!?
     
    Sylvain Grenier to SD!... OK, here's where it gets REALLY retarded. Because Grenier leaving RAW for SD! is already dumb just from the "breaking up an established team" perspective. But it's Double Dumb because it also renders the trade of Rene Dupree back to RAW pointless. All three La Resistance members on one show could have had some interesting possibilities (namely: that Conway gets out from under it to become a babyface, leaving Grenier and Dupree to work as a heel tag team)... but now Grenier gets -- what? -- a SINGLES push on SD!, while Dupree and Conway limp through a less-compelling version of whatever they COULD have done if Grenier was still around... insane.
     
    And meantime, interesting and promising trades weren't made. No Morgan, Haas, or McCool to RAW. No Tomko or Eugene to SD!. Nothing that would have made a lick of sense. Just a package of 10 stars that I can't even call random... because a RANDOM package of 10 stars would have included at least 2 or 3 tradees that made some sense. Instead: this package of 10 strikes me as being willfully retarded, like WWE had to go out of their way to come up with such a horrible trade. Way to go, dum dums.
     
  • Something that *might* count as a reason why certain trades were made, but others weren't... WWE is going to be doing some roster-trimming in the next week or so. And while I'll not name names and try not to start a panic, something I heard suggests that WWE wasn't gonna bother trading talents that they don't intend to keep past the middle of July.
     
    In other words: the 10 men who were traded, their jobs are nominally safe... but names that didn't get traded, it could be because WWE is evaluating their worth to the company, and didn't want to do anything crazy with them until they decided who'd be staying and who'd be going.
     
    Oy. Given who didn't get traded, there's some scary possibilities out there... but we can rest assured that Mark Fucking Jindrak will still be taking up space for another year. Great. Makes perfect sense to me. He said sarcastically.
     
  • I promised I'd do WWE financial stuff today, but I'm running  late (getting to my party in a timely fashion takes precedence over crunching numbers for you ungrateful curs!), and it's not like WWE's performance can't be pretty easily summed up in two words:
     
    Not Good.
     
    WWE tried to spin it (talking about how there was one less PPV in this fiscal quarter versus the same quarter last year and blah blah blah), but it pretty much boils down to the same thing it does every 3 months: home video and international markets are strong performers, house show business is in the toilet domestically, and most other things are pretty stagnant. TV ratings, to be fair, were up for this quarter versus last year, but only nominally.
     
    I gather there was some drama at the end of Linda McMahon's conference call with investors, as two callers took WWE to task for their cash management, but frankly, skimming through the particulars of the accusations and Linda's defense bored even me, and I've got my MBA, so I won't torture you people.
     
    In addition to shaving down the rosters, WWE is also cutting costs in the office in order to remain as profitable as possible. Upwards of a dozen business types were let go in the last two weeks in anticipation of WWE moving to USA Network in the fall under a new, less-favorable TV contract that will probably end up shorting WWE a couple million dollars per quarter versus the deal they had with Viacom.
     
  • If you missed my oblique reference to it last week, the first on-air talent to be released from WWE is Marc Loyd. Who? Marc Loyd. C-Show announcer extraordinaire. Don't worry, you probably won't miss him. And if you do, just tell yourself that Josh Mathews is Marc Loyd next time you see him on TV. Because seriously, they might as well have been the same guy. 
     
    How many undersized, under-clever metrosexual toolboxes can one company retain, anyway? Unfortunately for Loyd, the answer is apparently "one less than we could last fiscal quarter."
     

  • Following up on some Red Hot Drama from last week... I mentioned how Billy Gunn called Trish Stratus a "piece of shit" in a recent interview, and then mentioned how utterly confused I was by that, since (at least in my over-active imagination) Trish always seems like she'd probably be at least as fun to talk to as to look at.
     
    Well, we've gotten some clarification...
     
    Apparently, Billy's side of the story (when pressed for explanation) is that he got Trish Stratus into WWE and then was one of the first guys to be nice to her and show her the ropes. But then she never repaid him.
     
    Hmmm... methinks maybe I was closer that I intended when I half-heartedly joked that Billy might be going all Randy Orton on us, here. Because I do think I have a pretty decent understanding of the Trish Stratus Creation Story, and Michael Fricking Landesberg probably had more to do with Trish getting her WWF opportunity than Billy Gunn. And while I can't speak expertly on the "Billy was nice to Trish and showed her around when she started" thing, I'm gonna have to go ahead and guess that whatever good deeds Billy did, he was repaid adequately. Because showing a modicum of decency and friendliness by not pooping in some girl's gym bag is NOT a huge act of Generosity or Kindness... and it doesn't earn you a gift certificate for Ten Free Blowjobs or whatever other "repayment" Billy was envisioning. It earns you a "OK, thanks Billy, and I'll see you next week at TV tapings." Which I'm sure is what he got.
     
    So that's my official guess: Billy probably had a slightly skewed perception on the role he played in Trish's early days, but almost CERTAINLY had a hugely-skewed perception of what his bare-minimum decency should have earned him in terms of "repayment." Or at least, that's how this sounds to me.
     
    Also: big thanks to all the folks out there who mailed in who have met Trish and confirmed my suspicions that she's always been nice, and pleasant, and funny, and smart, and whatever in your experiences. See, I *knew* me and my Uncanny Ability to "read" people couldn't be that far off the mark, here!
     
  • And I think that's gonna just about have to do it for me today. Beer and explosives beckon.
     
    But before I go, I want to draw you attention to something kinda unique... Matt Hocking's Lord of the Reign Satire was published here at OO over the course of almost 4 months. And taken in bite-sized doses, you might not have gotten the full scope of it. But one of Matt's Loyal Minions has taken the mammoth 16-part epic and turned it into a SINGLE DOCUMENT (complete with some of my Photoshop Phuckery by way of "illustrations"). You can down load the 1.2 meg PDF document (it's 180 pages of goodness if you want to print it out; HUGE!) by clicking here
     
    And do me a favor: maybe just right-click it and "Save Target As," so you can have it on your hard-drive, OK? Because the fewer times I have to serve up a 1.2 meg file, the better the chances that I won't have any expensive bandwidth overages...
     
    And of course, I'm gonna quickly re-endorse the weekend's Slamspirations!, too. Hilarious, and if your festivizing prevented you from enjoying them while they were in the headline spot, don't let that stop you from enjoying them now. And to everybody who wrote in telling me that OO should sell those things for real, I can only say two things: (1) OO might have published them, but they weren't my inventions and thus I shouldn't be the one to profit most from selling them, and (2) I think selling them would be out of the question, anyway, due to photo copyright issues. D'oh. 
     
    I actually have an alternate idea I want to throw past Brad and Cory about this, but for now, you realize there's nothing stopping you from printing out your favorite Slamspiration and taping it to your wall, right? Give it a try....
     
    And on that note: I am outta here. Happy Fourth, everybody! See you Wednesday.


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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

 

 

 


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