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RAW, Ratings, What's Next for Matt?,
Released WWE Stars Shoot, and MORE!
July 13, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I promise to make today a Muhammad-Hassan-Free-Zone here at OO! 
Because, for all intents and purposes, I have officially won the debate. How? Simple: Flamboyant Douchebag Extraordinaire Tucker Carlson has come out on YOUR side of the debate. Which instantly makes your side wrong. Trust me: there are at least seven years worth of his asinine TV punditry which prove this to be true.

And the best part is, he's only 5 days late and about 80 IQ points short of almost making relevant observations about the issue. Way to be right on the cutting edge of Incisive Journalism there, Tucker, you pitiably worthless windbag!

But if it's being up-in-arms over an outdated non-issue that entertains you, I've got a new one: forget trying to invent some way that WWE is evil for presenting Muhammad Hassan's Terror Cell... and move on to uncovering the many ways that Harry Potter turns the children today away from the Jesus and towards the Devil, a thesis that MUST be true because the Pope said so. Except he said it 2 years ago, before he was Pope, and only now is somebody bothering to mention it. For real: *this* was the #1 Top Story in my Yahoo "Entertainment" section this afternoon. *This* is what passes for news and controversy. Yee haw.

So anyway, if you want to match Tucker Carlson and the rest of the Self-Righteous Blowhards out there who insist upon trying to figure out ways to vilify WWE and Muhammad Hassan, then throwing in with a crowd that believes Harry Potter is corrupting the Youth of the World should do the trick... and as a bonus, in this case, you can focus on a side-issue that's actually over 2 years old, and trump the shit out of Tucker when it comes to Untimeliness and Irrelevance! If you must insist upon wearing your ass as a hat, I can think of no quicker or more efficient way of lodging your head firmly in your own rectum than to start publicly proclaiming such brain-meltingly-indefensible beliefs as these!

And I think on that note, I've technically already broken my Muhammad-Hassan-Free-Zone promise... but now I'll promise that he won't be mentioned in a single bullet point in my actual Wrestling Portion Of The Column. Which is close enough for government work. Here goes:

  • We're gonna have to start with Monday's RAW, which for my money did a great job of once again creating that "Big Event Atmosphere," and had me on the edge of my seat for pretty much 2 hours straight.
    And although WWE again did it with gimmickry (the return of Matt Hardy and a cameo by Roddy Piper), I'm not nearly a big enough cynic to kvetch about it. Yeah, so I wish that WWE's Writer Monkeys showed more of a talent for Sustainable Episodic TV, and didn't have to rely on "gimmick weeks" like this to have their best shows... but hell: as long as I'm a fan, I'm gonna enjoy the hell out of exciting weeks like this one when I get them. 
    And WWE came out of the gate strong on Monday, and almost never let up. I'm not sure that I was as "surprised" by things as maybe I could have been... even knowing that I didn't have to catch every little detail (since I wasn't recapping the show), I'm still not COMPLETELY able to just sit back and "mark out." There's still that little voice in my head that is coming up with lines or predicting the next twist. What I loved about the opening segment on Monday is that even as I was about 10 seconds ahead of Carlito and Jericho the whole time, they kept on going exactly where I was mentally "leaning towards." 
    Even before Carlito got half-done with his opening spiel, I realized "Michaels better not come out, Jericho had better come on down to defend himself and take this dog and pony show over." That is what happened. As soon as Jericho hit the stage, I was begging for him to declare himself "Christopher Canadian Cool." And it ALMOST happened (Jericho opted not to maintain syllabic continuity like I did, and just called himself "Chris Canadian Cool"). I even had the Johnny Carson/Carson Daly line dusted off and out of mothballs, figuring it had a use here in this promo. Bingo.
    And it goes without saying that even if you weren't putting words in Jericho's mouth like I was, you were ALL sitting at home 100% confident that Roddy Piper was coming out after Jericho's introduction, right? Cuz that one didn't take a Wrestling Genius to figure out...  that one just took a marginal awareness of Wrestling Psychology, because if you have two heels in the ring bickering about something, the generally accepted "out" is to have a babyface come out and settle BOTH their hashes. And considering what Jericho and Carlito were bickering about, Roddy Freaking Piper was the best man for that job. Possibly the only man. Unless Hogan's being a backstage politician and using his clout to arrange for the return of The Barber Shop.
    Great opening segment. Carlito is pretty steadily moving up my list of most favorite performers, Jericho's already there and did nothing to jeopardize his spot on said list, and Piper was the cherry on the sundae. This is how you put The Rick in a good mood for the rest of your show.
    Of course, then the next segment was Chris Masters beating Tajiri. Hey, I knew it was coming; I did my grieving two weeks ago. It's still so wrong for so many reasons that Masters has this type of promotional effort behind him. On the upside, against Tajiri, Masters hit his very first (1st) ever Actual Wrestling Move: a butterfly suplex. Holy Shit! But other than that? The guy has nothing going for him. Nothing. He is as uncompelling a character as there is on WWE TV (and that counts the b-shows), and he's actually demonstrably under-skilled in the ring. He has this job because of how he looks, and because certain people backstage have a fetish for that "look" (and are also the driving forces behind writing dialogue in which guys like Jericho and Carlito have to make fun of each others' physiques, and are also among those who get a kick out of trying to promote Molly Holly as a fatty). Which is dumb. So very, very dumb. And meantime, some no-name jobber in commendably-good-but-not-remarkable-by-WWE-standards shape comes out later in the show and displays about one thousand times more talent and personality than Masters, and will probably never be heard from again. You people want a reason why I can't get enough of tearing into Masters and his over-push? It's not because he's actually BAD so much (although injuring your opponents is not too commendable), it's just because he's also NOT GOOD, and there are probably hundreds of other guys out there who would be more entertaining if put on TV than Masters. But they aren't the ones getting the chance....
    Let's see, what was next? Oh yeah.... but the less said about Snitksy's foot fetish, the better. Everybody knows Snitsky [hearts] Heidenreich, anyway; NOT women's feet. But I guess we shouldn't be shocked or put-off by anything that happens with Edge and Lita anymore: their gimmick is not necessarily an entertaining one, but as I've been saying for months, they at least get credit for going full-out with embracing the Total Skankosity of it all. And it doesn't get anymore skanky than a guy bragging about how his girl has perfected the Art of the Footjob to another guy. Lita's a total skank because, let's face it, there's a ton of more important ways of pleasing your man one should master before she gets far enough down the list of niche skills to bother worrying about her footwork, leaving us to only imagine the hours Lita's had to put in in the Skank Lab. Edge is a total manskank for essentially whoring his fiancé's Educated Feet out to Snitsky for such a relatively cheap price. And Snitsky? Well, "skanky" or not, he still has a thing for feet, which is, at the very least, kinda creepy.
    Then we had Carlito vs. Shelton Benjamin. And I think I can honestly say that I liked this match better than either of their first two efforts. Obviously, it was better than their initial RAW effort, which fell flat... but I also liked the length, pacing, and intensity of this one more than the PPV match. Kudos to Carlito for being way more ring-savvy than one would expect out of a relative rookie (well, that's a misnomer, since not only does he have several years of pre-WWE experience, but he's also been around the business his entire life; though if THAT counted for anything, then how does Randy Orton still manage to seem so bafflingly-clueless about basic psychology at times?) to quash a "boring" chant and to make sure that Shelton's fire-up happened to enthusiastic Rhythmic Clapping, instead of to apathy. There's guys with thrice the experience of Carlito who wouldn't even have recognized the problem as quickly as he did; and of the ones who WOULD recognize it, not all of them would have known what to do about it. Just another nice little touch that makes me think that Carlito is gonna be a good 'un down the line for WWE.
    Also: the finish of the match was pretty, well, cool. It was another moment where I saw it coming a good 30 seconds before it happened, and when my vision actually came to pass, I felt proud that I got one right as well as entertained because they picked an "out" that helps both me. Carlito is still the IC Champ, but he STILL doesn't have a finishing move, which I think is hilarious (if I weren't so sure that RVD is gonna take the IC belt in his first try, and if I weren't increasingly confident that Carlito's gonna be a babyface before too much longer whether WWE wants him to be or not, I'd say Carlito might be able to out-Honkeytonk-Man the Honkeytonk Man when it comes to undeservedly holding onto a title for an inconceivably long time). And Shelton just being back on TV is a "win" for him, but I also think that losing the ways he has to Carlito are gonna hurt him at all in the long run.
    After that was John Cena's promo/confrontation with Chris Jericho/Eric Bischoff. And you know what? I don't think I'm gonna say much about this at all. Because Cena was right back to annoying the piss out of me this week, and you've all heard my reasons why for months on end. WWE's insistence on calling Cena a "thug," when all he really seems to come off as are (1) a clown, (2) a poseur, (3) an uncreative petulant brat, and (4) a needy, patronizing whiner really rings false to me. And it's only underscored when you send GM Bischoff out there to "confront" his "trouble employee," and in the exchange, it turns out being Eric Bischoff who seems more sensible and relatable. John Cena is not Steve Austin: it's time to stop booking him like he's got Austin's character and backstory, because it just doesn't work.
    And anyway, didn't I say I'd restrain myself on this issue this week? Yeah... and it's because everything that I'd want to say about Cena has actually been perfectly verbalized by Erin in her Recap. Everything she said, you can just go ahead and put my name on there, too, and count it double. Except for the part where she thought "Welcome to the new RAW, bitch" was a good punchline... I'm not even gonna give The Doctor of Wiggernomics that satisfaction. If anything, it's a line they should have saved back for September, when RAW jumps back to USA Network. Now *that* would be an ad campaign that might have me convinced that WWE is getting ready to ditch this ill-conceived 80s fetish once and for all....
    The Diva Search? Bleh. This was about a billion times more tortuous than the week before, and that's saying something. One observation: I'm gonna go ahead and provisionally put Ashley (the Punk Grrrrrl) on my "OK" list with Elisabeth and Kristal. Because if I didn't know any better, I'd say she cribbed her little promo from a column I wrote last week, and then sure as shit seemed to take Coach and Spaz by surprise when she wanted to wrestle instead of doing some stupid bullshit. And Coach, that pussy, wouldn't play along. Luckily, Spaz decided "What the hell?" and took a bump... I'd almost swear that we saw an Unscripted Moment of Reality TV there, and if so, then hey, nice work Ashley on trying to make good on that weird e-mail I got 3 weeks ago that promised if I kept an open mind and gave her a chance, Ashley would end up as my favorite Diva Search girl. Keep on outing Coach as a gigantic wuss and trying to steer the competitions towards wrestling (no matter how hard it might be), and that just might happen. Lord knows Kristal and Elisabeth didn't do anything to help their causes with me this week. In fact, I'll go ahead and say that other than Ashley, SPAZ is the only other girl who won any points with me. Which would be the first Rick Points that Spaz has won in... well, maybe ever.
    The return of the Kurt Angle Invitational went over great, if you ask me. And trust me, I didn't start out wanting to like it.... because I instantly recognized that guy as the NYC teacher who got fired and yadda yadda yadda. Let's just say there's a reason why I never mentioned him in an OO column, and it's because the lame melodrama of indie wrestlers isn't particularly enthralling. To read about OR to write about. And even though that "news story" is the only reason why Matt Striker got this call-back to WWE, credit goes to him and to Angle for not harping on it. Angle, in fact, immediately glossed over that silly nonsense and turned it into a funny little storyline riff about how Striker is a compulsive liar, given that he once took a stab at Angle by pretending to be from Philly. Fun opening pre-ramble, and then once they rang the bell, it was excellently executed, and that had NOTHING to do with a pretend "news story." It had all to do with two guys knowing the story they wanted to tell and telling it well. And again: you want a reason why Chris Masters getting so much TV time annoys me? Well, here's one: Matt Striker showed me more in 3 minutes than Masters has shown any of us in 6 months. And he's not even the most talented Matt Stryker/Striker on the indie scene! But I digress. They had me believing by the end that Striker might win, and that takes some doing... as Erin said, I'm quite sure they muffed the closing spot a bit, and shorted themselves 5-10 seconds that they would have needed to make Striker's tap-out a bit more realistic... but to be honest: in the moment on Monday, everything was happening so fast that I didn't even really notice that the tap-out had, well, happened so fast. It was more like a roller coaster ride where I went from "Holy Shit, he's gonna do it" to "Goddammit, Kurt's gonna pull this out" and back again a few times so quickly that I was on sensory overload in those final five seconds. I think I might have been simultaneously feeling the "holy shit" and "goddammit" things. Good, fun, entertaining fluff: and unlike all the other gimmickry, this is the kind of thing you can do week-in and week-out to create sustainable episodic TV, too. Because the bit worked for reasons COMPLETELY divorced from the fact that that Striker guy was a nominal minor news story last week.
    Edge vs. Kane? Who cares? It existed merely as an excuse to bring out Matt Hardy. And goddamn did I ever love the execution on that. It's telling that I actually did get a ton of e-mail from people wondering "was that a shoot?" on Monday night. I didn't think there was really any question about that, but then again, I also think that at this point, it would be next to impossible for WWE to ever pull of an angle that fans really all fell for as if it were a shoot. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I am saying that it'd be tough, especially when you get a few minutes or hours removed from the incident and start realizing the gaping logic holes that exist if it were really "real."
    So to me, the number of "was it a shoot?" e-mails I got kinda tell me that WWE still did a great job in the execution to create a little bit of that buzz. I know, for me, I'd been half-expecting Hardy to show up even before the show started (long story short: I actually rewrote my Monday column to be more-vague when I heard something that indicated my ORIGINAL analysis of Matt's "independence day" missive was probably more accurate than I'd thought and might ruin some surprises), and felt like those suspicions were pretty much confirmed the second that Edge re-showed the "Hardy Tease" from the wedding in a previous skit... so I wasn't sitting there going "Oh my god, this is all real!". But I was sitting there with my jaw on the floor wondering how far they'd go to make it SEEM real, and I was loving every second of it. From working in a ROH plug, to putting the bad-mouth on Johnny Ace, to basically making his whole appearance a "screw you, WWE," I thought they did everything they had to -- maybe not to convince you it was really real, but to convince you that the normal rules were suspended, and anything really COULD happen. 
    I hope that makes sense, because it's an important distinction to me. We'll talk more about Matt and his situation here in a second though. Moving on...
    I also loved the main event Piper's Pit. Michaels' explanationing of himself was just about perfect. He busted out some of his old DX-Era chops, and provided a Decidedly-HBK reason for attacking Hogan. Because HBK's ego dictates that if Hogan keeps wanting to have One More Match, and if the fans keep wanting to see him have One More Match, then Shawn just HAD to do what he did to make sure that One More Match was Hogan vs. Michaels. From a guy who takes great pride in carrying around the wrestling business' less performers like so much Samsonite Luggage, it's the perfect explanation for Michaels wanting to get in the ring and give the fans one last Hulk Hogan Memory. And it's a testament to his performance that he was able to give this explanation and still have it come off heelish enough that he didn't get cheered. Just one thing I would have changed: Michaels' punchline was "Immortality has a price." Sitting on my couch, I was again writing-along-at-home, and I felt strongly the line should have been "Immortality is over-rated." It works on as a little "shoot-that's-not-supposed-to-be-a-shoot" by calling Hogan over-rated, but it also works on a character level for HBK, who was always willing to sacrifice his own body and his own future (and thus, his own Immortality) in order to deliver a memorable match. But that's a minor gripe, I guess.
    Then Piper's lecture back to Michaels? Let me tell you something, Cena can talk all the fuck he wants to about "real recognizing real" all while coming off as the world's biggest poseur... but for a "real" moment, you won't top when Piper told the story about taking a young Shawn Michaels under his wing 20 years ago, because "I thought you were worth it." Piper's voice cracked, Shawn looked almost ashamed that he'd somehow let down his one-time mentor, and the crowd didn't necessarily explode, but you could tell the way they reacted that they BELIEVED this exchange. That, my friends, was a REAL moment, and it set the stage nicely for Piper to rally to his own punchline, which was calling Michaels a coward and then eating a superkick. Perhaps a bit predictable again in the closing stage, but still the correct and necessary outcome.
    About the only thing I could even TRY to work up some frustration over is how odd it seems to have Piper in there defending his long-time arch-nemesis, Hogan, and for degrading Michaels for doing something that he, himself, would have been first in line to do to Hogan 20 years ago. But then I realized: hey, chill out. Because you realize that NOW what we're gonna end up with at some point is Hogan and Piper teaming up in a WWE ring over the summer. And while I'd guess that they'd probably team up before, they'll really be able to play up the nostalgia side of things and their salty past, and how they are now both Hall of Famers this time around... Hogan/Piper vs. Michaels/???? (or maybe Hogan/Piper/Cena vs. Michaels/Jericho/Carlito?): hey, it might not be great from an action perspective, but it'll be a lot of fun, and it'll make for a nice "Big Show Atmosphere" on some edition of RAW in these next few months. And I'm not gonna bitch about that.
    So yeah: pretty tremendous RAW, in my book. Nice work with serving up the sizzle (with Hardy and Piper), but there was some tasty steak there, too (in the form of the best Carlito/Shelton match we've seen yet, and also a short-but-good Angle Invitational). Of course, there was also some crap, but on a week when I could sort of skim past the Diva Search and keep one eye on the Home Run Derby, instead, it sure didn't seem like there was enough crap to ruin my enjoyment of the show as a whole. Not even close, really.
    Again: Erin Anderson has the full RAW Recap for you, if it's additional details and analysis you crave.  As always, in addition to appreciating the caliber of the Broad's recap work, I'm also just grateful for getting a week off every now and again. And doubly thankful that Erin decided to stock up on my goodwill by craftily giving me two weeks in a row off before she headed out on a vacation. Way to make sure I'd have absolutely no right to get pissy about a 2 week Broad Black-Out, Erin; and so, I guess the only thing left to do is hope that Erin's flight today (and rest of her trip) goes better than the Space Shuttle's did. Freaking NASA....
  • The rating for Monday was a 3.6, which has got to count as a disappointment for WWE.
    While that's a gain of a full ratings-point over the week before, it's still nearly a half-point shy of RAW's pre-holiday average. Given what SHOULD have been strong interest in Michaels' heel turn, I'm betting WWE thought that they'd have at least gotten back to their averages, if not exceeded them, this week...
    Possible explanation: the aforementioned Home Run Derby on ESPN. Due to a pretty kick-ass opening round, the thing ran about 75 minutes longer than intended, and actually wound up completely overlapping with RAW (instead of only overlapping RAW's first hour). Thanks to DVR's dual tuners and thanks to the knowledge that I didn't have to recap RAW, I was able to keep moving back and forth between the two pretty easily, but those who lacked that ability? Wouldn't surprise me if a few of RAW's target demo opted to stick their eyeballs on baseball, instead of on wrestling, for the night.
    Next Monday will be the real test. No Forth of July, no Home Run Derby, just a Normal Monday Night, and what SHOULD be a pretty strong buzz again heading into the show, what with Matt Hardy's return and a likely appearance by Hulk Hogan and all...
  • And speaking of Matt Hardy... where to begin?
    Well, I think we already covered on core issue: this wasn't a "shoot." Hardy was there with WWE's knowledge and blessing.
    But that leads pretty seamlessly into the next obvious issue, which is: Where does Matt go from here?
    He does have at least three ROH commitments that I know about, and a couple other dates spread out over the next 2 months... and clearly, Matt's shout-out to ROH on RAW indicates that he'll be honoring those, even if only to keep up the appearance of him not being a contracted WWE wrestler.
    It becomes a stickier issue if you want to start wondering about Matt Hardy showing up on TNA's PPV this weekend, though (something else that Matt has hinted at online, but did NOT plug during RAW)... because I can't envision TNA being so retarded as to basically allow Matt Hardy a one-shot deal to come on their show to further a WWE storyline. For Matt to appear on TNA, they'd have him sign a deal (not necessarily even a long-term one, but at least a 90 day contract), and the terms of that deal would preclude him also showing up on RAW. Which, I'm sure you'd agree, is not something that seems likely at this point.
    But then again, you just never know, do you? 
    I'll have to assume I'm not the first person to draw the parallel, but this really does strike me as being the 21st Century Update on Brian Pillman's Loose Cannon gimmick, which started almost exactly one decade ago. It was easier to fool fans into thinking it was "all real" back then, you can go back and rewatch a lot of Pillman's stuff, and you're STILL entertained by it, not because you think it's real, but because you can lose yourself in how far he was willing to go to create the illusion. Again, this goes back to the distinction I introduced above...
    Bottom line: I know there are some fuckwads out there who are badmouthing Hardy for "selling out" and who are pissed that he "worked them" on his website, and they are taking out their frustrations by talking about how shitty the angle was and how it was SOOOOO OBVIOUS it was a work, and everything.... but they're rantings basically amount to "I got fooled, even if only for a brief moment, and I don't like that." Idiots: that's what you should EMBRACE about wrestling, and I sure as hell have to assume that Matt Hardy feels no guilt about successfully "working" any of us, because for 99% of his well-adjusted fans, it was just a damned fun ride on Monday night. He should be proud. About the only thing the moron fans are right about is that you CAN dissect Monday's angle and see the holes in it that make it clear it was a work.... but my point is that, in the moment, that doesn't matter so much because it's so hard at this point for wrestling to ever do an angle that we'll really believe in, and so we have to enjoy stuff like this where they bend the rules to allow for something that looks and feels so unique.
    So: quit yer bitching that it wasn't real, and enjoy the hell out of the fact that it sure seemed different from the normal tripe we get served up. OK?
    What becomes interesting to me is now wondering, after what we saw on Monday, how far is WWE willing to let Matt go to get his "Loose Cannon v2.0" gimmick over? They let him say "ROH" and "Johnny Ace" and "Screw you, WWE" on RAW. They published parts of his website commentary on WWE.com. They are apparently gonna let him honor indie commitments (where Matt might actually have to be careful about playing his "WWE Persona" in front of wanker ROH crowds who might be populated with the kind of obnoxious fans I talked about two paragraphs ago)... but would they go so far as to let Matt go into business for himself to work out a TNA deal that would put him on the PPV this Sunday? Even if it meant that WWE couldn't use Matt on their own shows for 30, 60, or 90 days? Or could Matt manage to do a deal to show up on TNA without signing an exclusive contract, all in the name of making fans honestly believe that he could pop up ANYwhere at ANYtime and say ANYthing?
    I don't know, but I'm intrigued by the possibilities now that we know from Monday's presentation that we're thinking "outside the box" on this one. Matt's real story, obviously, is in WWE and on RAW... but before we try to figure out the "TV story" of how Edge stealing Lita from Kane has got Matt Hardy so pissed off, I think we can milk the "quasi-shoot" stuff for a bit to keep the fans on their toes. 
    Brian Pillman really is the blueprint here. He was a WCW contracted wrestler who was sent to ECW (which, at the time, was already in cahoots with the WWF) to create the illusion that he'd really been fired from WCW, and who, less than four months later, had himself a WWF contract when the "storyline" of WCW not being sure they wanted to employ Pillman got twisted around in the front office and became real. It was some crazy-ass shit, and it worked because Pillman was ingenious at picking the right "rules" to break to make you think that he'd go on to break them ALL if you gave him a chance.
    Matt Hardy being selective enough to push the same right buttons to make us think anything is possible (while still operating under the basic constraints of being a WWE wrestler) is gonna be the key. A little bit of creativity and good decision making, though, and I think it can happen... and the final necessary ingredient, obviously: a lot of balls from WWE to let those good decisions get made to tell a story completely different from anything they've done in a long while and might go against their better judgment.
    Week one was a success in my book. Here's to future weeks living up to the start of what MIGHT be Matt Hardy's career-making (or career-defining) run in WWE...
  • The first step in seeing what's next: Lita will appear tonight on Byte This, and if we're gonna start getting an explanation for how WWE's going to reconcile the "on-screen" story of Lita leaving Kane for Edge with the "real life" story of Lita leaving Matt for Edge, this is where it'll start.
    Should be worth a listen. Or if not, hey, here's another week where I'm actually thinking PyroFalkon's gonna have some good, worthwhile material to work with for OO's Byte This Recap....
  • Triple H returned to the road last week in Asia, and then returned to domestic action at TV tapings Monday and last night. He wrestled cross-brand dark match main events (teaming with JBL against John Cena and Batista).
    But get this: the talk out of tapings this week is that, exactly like we talked about in Monday's OO, HHH is thinking about staying off of TV for at least another month. The details were vague, but he might even stay away until after SummerSlam, and then get into the swing of things again. Hey, y'all know my stance: I'm not one of the HHHaters, but I think this can only be a good thing.
    Question: can somebody with a bit more energy check me on this... because if HHH misses SummerSlam, won't that end a pretty remarkable PPV Appearances Streak? Maybe even WWE's longest active streak of appearing on PPVs for which one is eligible?
  • HHH's absence raises the question of what'll become of Ric Flair... my guess is that Flair won't exactly be rushed back to TV, either, but that he might precede HHH by a few weeks when the time comes.
    Something interesting that a TON of readers have been mailing about since Shawn Michaels' heel turn... apparently there was an interview (not sure where, since nobody sent me a link to it) where Flair responded to a question about the Four Horsemen and whether Ric thought the group would ever come back again.
    And Flair's response was that he'd only do it if it would be a line-up that would truly personify greatness and that would match or top past Horsemen line-ups. He didn't want to bring the Horsemen back in any way that would diminish the legacy or the name. When pressed, Flair said the line-up he would approve of would be himself, HHH, Kurt Angle, and Shawn Michaels.
    Which apparently went under the radar for a few weeks until last Monday, when Shawn turned heel. After Kurt mysterious arrived from SD!. And suddenly made that foursome a distinct possibility.
    Hey, I'm not saying it will happen... but I will say that I find it odd that things are now aligned in such a way that it COULD. And although I think the very nature of such a foursome would make it a short-lived phenomenon (because let's face it, keeping four stars of that magnitude together without ego clashes would be a damned near storyline impossibility for more than about 6 months), I think you could do a lot of interesting things in that short time.
    First and foremost: if it's time for Flair to say Good-bye to the ring, why not one more Title Reign, and why not have it be the Horsemen who do his dirty work for him? Secondly: if Hogan and Piper are gonna be going partners, Flair and the Horsemen would be natural enemies for them (Big Show and Cena, per an element of my Fantasy Booking on Monday, would be perfect #3 and #4 guys for Hogan and Piper). And thirdly: the thought of Kurt and Shawn, by necessity, morphing into the Latter Day Tully and Arn would be a boon to the tag division, and would ALSO make for a cool subtext for the eventual and inevitable Horsemen Break-Up, which could then lead to Angle vs. Michaels in their Rubber Match (but just not until a lot further down the line than maybe we originally thought).
    It's a fantasy booking wet dream, really. Just laden with all kinds of possibilities, and almost guaranteed that all of them would go over huge. As long as you go in with the mindset that this isn't a long-term things, that you have This Set Of Stories you want to tell and only so long to do them, I think you could have a gOOdness Density that's off the charts for about a six month period after HHH/Flair return to TV and set the wheels in motion. Best of all: the timing would lead to the whole thing being blown-off at WM22, where Flair could have his retirement match. And though the Wet Dream might be a one-night-only rematch against Ricky Steamboat or something, this would be a case where I wouldn't begrudge Triple H selfishly insisting on being the one who sends his idol into retirement as a winner.
    Lotta interesting options, but it's also probalby not too healthy to be getting worked up over them based purely on an aside comment made by Ric Flair in an obscure interview.
  • I mention this only so that I may mock America:
    Hulk Hogan's stupid new reality show on VH-1 scored a 1.9 cable rating for its debut on Sunday, making it the best rating ever for a VH-1 original series.
    What the hell is wrong with you people? Cuz this isn't just me, even idiot TV critics who get paid to pretend like there is an art to the sitcom have panned "Hogan Knows Best" as being exceptional stupid, fake, and worthless, even by Reality TV standards. But viewers show up in droves... crazy.
  • More of last week's released WWE wrestlers are going public in interviews/website postings/etc., and NOT just the sanitized versions that WWE.com is posting. 
    The two most intense have been Spike Dudley and Charlie Haas, and both score additional bonus points (with me, anyway) for seemingly raising the same basic issues that I think alot of us fans are concerned about. It's one thing for a wrestler to be upset about losing a job because of the loss of income/etc.... it's another for him to come off as being as confused and frustrated just from a Quality Of The Product standpoint.
    Spike's rallying cry seemed to be subtly suggesting that WWE is more concerned these days with cosmetics than with ability. And Haas railed hard against a creative team that he says gave him nothing to work with, and which seemed to be completely whiffing on any number of GOOD things they could have had him doing (Haas suggested multiple options for both staying on SD! and moving over to RAW, at least two of which have been things we've talked about here on OO, so OF COURSE, that's gonna rub me right).
    What's kind of upsetting is that both seemed to single out one writer in particular as being at the crux of creative shortcomings. Spike didn't name the name (but he still painted a word picture that would make it clear who he was talking about if you knew a little bit of history), and Haas actually did mention SD! Head Writer Dave Lagana by name. The reason why this is bad news is because in a company that prizes Hollywood Hack Writers, Lagana was an actual wrestling fan first and foremost who was something of a protégé to Paul Heyman. You don't want to envision a situation where somebody who was once such a fan of good wrestling and who had a chance to learn from Paul Heyman is now being singled out as part of the problem. I suppose it could also just be sour grapes from two guys who lost their jobs, but if so, why both single out the same guy, when there's an entire phalanx of failed sitcom writers who I'd like to think have even less business writing a wrestling show?
    Matt Morgan has also been making the rounds, and while he's being WAY more diplomatic, he also made it clear that he considered his stuttering gimmick to be a complete creative brainfart. And given who the head writer is who oversaw that particular SD! brainfart, that's another implicit rib poke... 

    Just an odd little quirk that caught me by surprise as more of these guys start speaking out. I'd hate to think I've been so wrong in making Gerwitz my Whipping Boy of choice between WWE's two head writers...
  • I think that's about enough for today. I may or may not see you again on Friday, it'll depend on what, if anything, there is to talk about on the news side of things and if SD! gives me anything I feel like rambling about.
    I won't force anything, because this weekend is a TNA PPV, and we'll have Jason Longshore stepping up with a preview of the show, as well as capsule summaries of TNA's first month worth of internet broadcasts, and in general, your Once Monthly TNA Check-Up. Last month, TNA scored a big hit with Raven's surprise NWA Title win.... this month, word is Rhyno will be debuting with the company, and if you believe the hype, you just never know where that pesky Matt Hardy will show up.
    So OO or no OO, Jason and a few other TNA Experts from the deep recesses of the OO Forums will be here to get you up to speed on all things TNA this Friday.
    I'll see you when I see you, folks....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
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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