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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, Styles' PPV Project, New WWE
Developmental Territory, Injuries, MORE 
August 1, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Reason #28737 to Not Like the Boston Red Sox: all the drama that went down with Manny Ramirez this weekend.
  
I honestly thought a friend was kidding me when he said that Manny and the Sox had decided it was "best for all parties" if Manny sat out of games on Saturday and Sunday. All this because he MIGHT have been traded and because, as a result, Boston fans booed him a bit.

I guess with Pedro gone, the clubhouse needed another

delicate whiny little bitch. Either that, or Manny is making a late stab at getting his name in the running for the 2005 Diva Search.

ZING~!

Sorry, but that's the best I got today. And it's not like it's pressing that I bring my A-Game to the Red Sox Taunting: I'll want to save that up for when we cross paths again in October, Boston. See you then, suckers.

Let's see what passes for wrestling talk today... methinks it won't be a particularly robust selection of news, but I'll try to present what we got in as compelling a manner as possible:

  • Remember all the things I said about a week ago regarding WWE needing to just focus on the sustainable, repeatable elements of Episodic Storytelling in order to improve their product?
     
    Well, for another week, it looks like they'll not be heeding that particular advice, and will once again be Stunt Booking.
     
    Forget any of the storylines leading into SummerSlam, because according to WWE.com hype, the only important reason to watch RAW is so that you can see A Major Surprise Announcement By Vince McMahon.
     
    Of course, hyping this ahead of time opens up a difficult can of worms, as if it works as a tactic to attract fans, they'll now be showing up expecting a Major Surprise. And can WWE/Vince deliver on that front?
     
    They very well might, but even if they do, it's another example of a little booking tactic that can't exactly be duplicated week-in and week-out. And thus, not the kind of thing that cuts to the core of what's wrong with the company's creative direction.
     
    For whatever it's worth, the "Major Announcement" seems likely to be one of two things... (1) the re-signing of Brock Lesnar. Or (2) something related to tonight being a fabricated "milestone" episode of RAW (as it passes "Gunsmoke" for the honor of Most Episodes Of A Fictional TV Show). These are things that have been pushed as big deals on WWE.com, but which have gotten no play yet on TV, so it wouldn't shock me if they were things WWE would cart out Vince to present to the Audience At Large.
     
    A third possibility could also be Vince addressing the Matt Hardy situation, since it's about freaking time they did SOMEthing to change the tone of the storyline. The Matt Hardy Guerilla Attack was a novelty for the first week, and a necessary evil the second week. But it's not "real," anymore, so it's time to quit stringing the fans along and give us some meat and potatoes. Vince announcing something about Hardy that moves us towards that goal would be welcome.
     
    But more than anything, I think a Vince McMahon Appearance serves a purpose as a chance for some talent to step up and share the ring and some mic time with Vince, and as a result, get a bit of "rub" from the boss. Not unlike what Christian did a few months ago. Of course, then you can look at where Christian is now and ask yourself if it really mattered... but at the time, it sure seemed like a breakthrough moment, didn't it?
     
    Anyway, whatever Vince gets up to, I have faith that it'll be exciting and entertaining, just because of Vince's rare presence. But faith it'll be something truly "surprising" or "major"? Not so much. And faith it'll be anything that leads to sustainable upgrades in the creative direction of the company? None at all.
     
    Besides that bit of Stunt Booking, we *do* have an announced main event that sort of has ramifications on SummerSlam's WWE Title Match. Per a stipulation in a match last week, Carlito Cool this week receives a WWE Title Match against John Cena. The winner will face #1 Contender Chris Jericho in 3 weeks at the PPV.
     
    Ostensibly, the "money feud" is Cena vs. Jericho, although WWE seems to have tried very hard to make sure that it does not actually generate any money. The story between the two so far has done very little to establish Jericho as a credible challenger, while Cena has been teaming with Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and enjoying a very high profile. And then last week, the best "fuck you" Jericho can muster to Cena is to cause him to lose a match to Carlito. Jericho once again looked like a third-stringer on that night (behind Carlito, who won the match, and behind Eric Bischoff, who orchestrated it). On top of that, I fear that WWE will completely ignore the possibilities that exist between Jericho and Carlito, who should NOT be such bosom buddies. Instead, they should be all prickly heat and posturing, united only in their joint dislike of Cena. It was something that could have been played up last week, but wasn't... and it's something that SHOULD be played up this week, but I'm not entirely sure it will. Instead of doing a thing where Jericho spends the night teasing us with whether or not he (a) hates Cena so much that he'll screw Carlito so Jericho can take the title directly from Cena, or (b) wants the title so badly and views Carlito as a lesser champion so he'll try to help Carlito win, why do I have visions of doing the laziest possible thing? Also the one thing that would make Jericho look the worst? Namely: Jericho will show up and try to interfere in the match on Carlito's behalf (eliminating all the cool subplots you could do between the two), but will backfire allowing Cena to retain the title (once again making Jericho out to look as impotent as possible)....
     
    Ah well... there is one last thing about Jericho/Cena that I guess I should mention. Because it was brought to my attention over the weekend that it might not be ENTIRELY a bad thing the way WWE is promoting Jericho. Instead of doing SOMEthing with Jericho, this actually does come across as a concerted plot to make sure Jericho does NOthing every week. The walking out on the Battle of the Bands was the icing on the cake, and it casts Jericho as the kind of pompous heel who doesn't feel the need to lower himself to performing in front of peons. If this is being done on purpose, and it's the reason why Jericho hasn't had a TV match in 4-5 weeks, and hasn't had much in the way of compelling physicality in that same span of time, then I guess I SORT OF see the logic. But it also strikes me more as something you'd do during the Character Building Phase of a heel turn. Not something you'd do once said heel is attempting to headline a PPV in a WWE Title Match. Because to my gut-feel, it does seem to be hurting the storytelling here. Still, if "Less is More" is Jericho's new mantra, I guess we'd better strap in for 3 more weeks of underutilization, starting tonight, eh?
     
    Of course, Jericho/Cena may be the WWE Title Match at SummerSlam, but everybody knows the real main event is Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels. And so far, everybody knows it's Michaels' fantastic promo work that's carrying this thing, while Hogan does exactly what Michaels is accusing him of: skating by on reputation. Hogan's name and legend serve just as much purpose on RAW as his actual physical presence, which is something Michaels proved in an outstanding segment last week.
     
    In a quirk of fate, "less is more" actually IS the booking philosophy that WWE should apply to Hogan (rather than to Jericho), as it's the best way to extend Hogan's value as "nostalgia" rather than as being "just plain old." To that end, it wouldn't surprise me if Hogan took another week off, and Michaels once again took it upon himself to tell the story. One idea that seems plausible: Michaels could start wrestling "tune-up matches" against other legends, as a way to show Hogan what the Heartbreak Kid does when he steps in the ring with somebody decades past his prime. 
     
    I mention the possibility because it's the exact angle WWE ran at house shows over the weekend, with Michaels wrestling the Matches Of the Night against Ric Flair. Because of the Piper's Pit segment a few weeks ago, Michaels would also have a built-in one-night match against Roddy Piper available to him, too. Hell, was all the publicity Marty Jannetty got last week on WWE.com coincidence, or could the Fed REALLY scrape the bottom of the barrel for a "legend" for Shawn to wrestle (not that I'd complain at the thought of seeing Shawn vs. Marty one more time; that match at a 1993 RAW taping in NYC is STILL one of the top five matches I've ever seen in person). In any case, the "escalating series of legends" might be a neat idea for Shawn to build up the heat on the feud without Hogan having to be directly involved. Maybe until a final tag match or something on the RAW right before SummerSlam.
     
    Next storyline: it's the Matt Hardy/Kane/Edge/Lita crap. Matt's run-ins have already grown tired, and it really is time to do something to change gears there. I feel guilty for admitting this, but you know that "Matt Hardy dressed as an EMT" thing I riffed on for a week leading into last week's stretcher match? It might have been obvious, and I probably would have mocked it to holy heaven if they'd done it, but it STILL would have been more noteworthy than the Hardy Cameo they did last week, instead.
     
    And then taking Matt out of the equation and just sticking to the Kane/Edge/Lita "TV Story"? I said all that needs to be said about that last week in the Recap. It sucks. It's stupid. It's not how real people act, and thus, it's not a story that real people will care about. Well: except for real dumb people. Making it worse: WWE.com's new "shork" philsophy (PyroFalkon tells me I shouldn't use "woot," because it's actually a word used by people in the "online gaming community," which is a group that PF might be a part of, but one he knows me well enough to guess that I don't want to be too closely associated with) means they had a "news item" last week about Kane actually being arrested in Cleveland due to his assault on two police officers as he stole the ambulance (with Lita in it). Wheeee! Instead of trying to make the story "real," by making it approximate normal, rational human behavior, they try to make it real by adding unnecessary, continuity-killing bells and whistles!
     
    Anyway, Lita's probably going to finish up the rest of her knee rehab by pretending to have a broken neck, so I doubt she'll be around on TV. Here's hoping that the happily engaged couple of Edge and Lita can manage to not cheat on each other while they are separated by injury! And here's hoping that whatever remains between Kane and Edge provides Kane with a non-retarded outro for him to move onto something else, and finally gets Matt Hardy an official intro into a feud with Edge. Because I can't take much more of this stuff in its current form.
     
    Beyond that, a possible diamond in the rough for RAW is an impending Eugene/Kurt Angle feud. It's the kind of feud that is an Angle Specialty. Because few guys can mix the sheer bad-ass legitimacy of Angle with the ability to do convincing comic relief. Angle's uniquely qualified to earn our boos for genuinely ripping poor Eugene apart, but then a few minutes later be a comedic putz. It's the old "sap with dignity" role that Regal also plays so well. This week, Eugene is promising to put Angle's gold medal on the line in the "Eugene Invitational," so here's hoping "Mohegan Sun," CT, has some hometown hero to cart out. I'm sure when WWE can't even be bothered to use the name of the town and just admits they are coming to you live from a casino on an Indian Reservation, there must be literally THOUSANDS of skiller grapplers who could take Eugene to the limit! Then again, how close is "Mohegan Sun" to Greenwich, CT? Or am I just thinking too hard?
     
    After Eugene/Kurt, the rest of the show is an assorted hodge-podge of stuff I alternately almost care about and don't care about at all. Stuff like: Big Show had better finish off Chris Masters once and for all one of these weeks, because they're crazy if they think this non-feud has the legs to make it to SummerSlam... the Diva Search will continue whether we want it to or not; odds of one of The Rick's Approved-As-Semi-Tolerable girls finally being eliminated this week are running pretty high (WWE has also announced that Rob Schneider will be involved in this week's Diva Search Skit; contrary to their strongly held beliefs, this actually makes the bit LESS appealing; what, was David Spade's asking price too high?)....  one can only hope that the saga of Viscera and the Heartthrobs is finally over, but if it isn't, maybe we can at least get another week of Hot Midget Action...  and whether Hogan is in attendance or not tonight, I figure he'll at least appear in Video Package form for no fewer than 8 minutes, half of which is surely contractually required to focus on his shitty Reality TV Show; a winner will be all of us with DVR and the good sense to build up a 45-minute time shift!
     
    Stunt Booking or no, tonight's RAW seems like it'll give us SOMEthing to talk about tomorrow. And where I'll be doing my talking is in the always-tremendous OO RAW Recap. You should make a note to come on back to check that out.
     
  • The latest on Muhammad Hassan...
     
    His bookings through August have almost all been filled by the returning Randy Orton. So SD! brand house shows will be headlined throughout the month by the two former Evolution pals facing off in main events.
     
    This jibes with my idea from a week or so back about Batista/Orton being the next logical placeholder for Batista after SummerSlam. Just something to keep him occupied until it's Lesnar Time.
     
    And again: for those who think I'm just some internet jack-off who can't recognize the Greater Good, there you go... because no Randall Orton fan am I, but I can tell when there's a spot open that he's probably best qualified to fill. In my world? Orton would probably have to take some time to prove himself as something other than a prettyboy, chinlocking line-fumbler before getting back into main events... but the world has had just about enough of JBL, and even Orton is preferable by comparison.
     
    I still liked my Benoit idea from last week, though. I'm a little TOO attached to it, actually. Damn me and getting romantically-entangled with my own obvious genius!
     
  • To those who watched Sunday Night Heat on my say-so last night, hoping to see ROH Champion CM Punk: I apologize.
     
    After my Friday column was written, WWE made the decision to pull Punk's match from the broadcast. Their reason? Because they didn't think Punk came off all that impressively, and they want a re-do. In other words: because of pretty much exactly what I said about Punk being a "tweener" in terms of how he'll fit into the WWE product.
     
    My understanding is that Punk and Alexis Laree will be at TV tapings again tonight, and might either get a straight re-do of the match, or might get the chance to introduce Punk's character in interviews/vignettes first, instead of just throwing him out there on Heat. That part had not yet been determined when the Heat match was pulled.
     
  • A follow-up on Joey Styles' "new PPV company." That label was, perhaps, a bit of gun-jumping...
     
    Rather than looking like a wrestling promotion in any traditional sense, the set-up for "Joey Styles' Extremely Hardcore Wrestling" is more along the lines of just presenting pre-packaged one-hour PPV specials. And at present, it might even only be one per month... and that's if the first one does well.
     
    Also, Joey's group is going at least semi-partners with "Women's Extreme Wrestling," which is a group which follows the same "one cheap PPV per month" model, and combines semi-porn with semi-wrestling with what I understand are pretty unique results. [From what I hear, you imagine alternating between Lingerie Pillow Fights where full-frontal nudity is a real possibility and Actual Wrestling Matches where the "Lita Skill-set" seems the norm.]
     
    The TV taping in Atlanta later this month is actually a joint taping for both groups, with each promotion's one-hour special airing on PPV in September. With only one hour of PPV to fill up, you can count on Joey's half of the taping to be populated by 100% ECW Alumni.
     
    Oh, and for the curious: since Joey is just doing "voice over work" for a pre-taped PPV, this doesn't in any way violate his agreement with WWE to provide services for their own presentation of ECW footage (including further voice-over work and appearances at any future ECW PPVs, which are now sure to be reprised; the only question is whether they'll be annual or bi-annual).
     
  • Speaking of obscure wrestling in metropolitan Atlanta: WWE's developmental territory is still scraping by as essentially a bare bone work-out facility. But "Deep South Wrestling" might FINALLY (and only several months behind schedule) be getting ready to start running, you know, real wrestling shows. With matches and fans and stuff.
     
    A TV taping is scheduled for this week, although the only TV clearances the group has are on some smaller cable systems' cable access channels. The hope is that this'll be rectified before too long, so that even MORE people can have the choice of not watching the program.
     
    And sadly, it kind of looks like that'll be the choice most sane fans would make: the thinking in WWE is that DSW will be designated the "Single-A" team, while OVW will remain the "Triple-A" affiliate for WWE. DSW will reportedly exist as more of a "weed-out" stage in development, focusing on conditioning and the basic in-ring techniques. Kind of like those annoying REQUIRED 8am classes that they ONLY schedule for Freshman in college and have titles like "Basic Computing for Business 101: How To Turn On A PC"; you don't really learn anything by going, but the university learns you're serious enough about learning that you'll do stupid shit like get up at 8am for class. In addition, there won't be as much focus on a polished TV product for DSW either, if the stories I heard about their TV studio are true... it'll just be bare bones, with no huge emphasis on promos or storytelling or production value. It's just a chance for guys to see what it's like in front of a camera/crowd before they get shipped up to OVW for more work.
     
    Given that I still have weekly access to HWA here in Dayton, and I don't watch it because it is PRECISELY that type of a TV show, I can officially tell the citizens of Georgia to prepare to be underwhelmed. WWE may have decided to add another layer to its developmental program, but they're adding it in UNDER OVW, which isn't exactly a recipe for compelling television.
     
  • Speaking of OVW: one of the co-winners of the last Tough Enough (Matt, the prettyboy who Bob Holly beat up for no readily apparent reason) broke his leg in OVW over the weekend. It was apparently an over-the-top bump gone awry, and was pretty graphic. Fans knew instantly he was hurt for real, anyway.
     
    The current prognosis is that Matt will be out for about 2 months... which is notable mostly because he'd been doing a lot of dark match work on WWE shows, and was expected to finally debut on TV soon, as part of this recent flurry of new characters (like Frankie Kazarian, CM Punk, Jillian, etc.). Tough timing for Tough Enough Matt.
     
  • I think that's about all I got here today, people. The RAW Recap shall be its usual excellent self tomorrow, though; there may be little I can do in terms of inventing interesting news items (well, short of going all OMG WRESTLING NEWSBOARD~! Style on you), but I take great personal pride in making sure the OO RAW Recap is always better than the actual show! It's a gift I have... and a duty I take seriously.
     
    So I'll see you tomorrow.


  
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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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