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SD! Ratings/Analysis, Lots of TNA Talk,
Another WWE Release, RAW, and MORE! 
September 12, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, a little project for some of you who might have a bit more spare time on your hands than I....
So last night, after being the Stunning Surprise Breakout Stud in Fantasy Football for the week, I sat down to review my FOX Sunday Night Cartoons on DVR. And talk about Stunning Surprises, "American Dad" actually wound up being the funniest one of the bunch.

Which leads me to this query....

At one point in the show, there's the gag where a DVD Commentary Track kicks in over top of the dialogue. Which was funny in and of itself, as I'm sure you'd agree. But then the punchline to the "commentary track" was announcing that they'd just talked over the funniest joke in the entire show. I rewound and rewatched the thing 3-4 times, and I couldn't make out a single word, much less the entire joke.

Anybody else with a sharper ear (or watching on Closed Captioning or anything) able to make out the joke? If so, alert me at once! This is definitely one of those things that'll bug me until I know the answer. Curse this Big Brain of mine! It simply HATES when it finds out that it does not possess all the answers in the world. Must feed the brain...

And even though pickings are remarkably slim today, I'll now set out to fill YOUR brain with what passes for wrestling news of the day. Enjoy:

  • I think maybe the New Monday Column Tradition is now gonna have to be kicking off with SD! Talk. Except that this week, I already did the SD! Recap (I even made a special effort to get it posted Sunday Night before I went to bed for you Fine Readers), and I feel like I've pretty well exhausted everything there is to say.
    The Friday night debut for the show was essentially two matches and one angle. And the two matches were remarkably similar in tone, if you really break it down. Eddie/Rey was certainly faster-paced with a bit more action, but it was still the same sort of "tease/reset/pause/repeat" thing that we got in the Batista/JBL bullrope match. They broke it up with the Benoit/Jordan "match," which to my way of thinking is really more of an angle; Benoit winning again (in 22 seconds, this time) counts as a match in the record books, but it's more about making Benoit look like a bad-ass. Other, more verbally-gifted stars have catchphrases... Benoit making Jordan his bitch in under half-a-minute is less a wrestling contest and more Benoit's own sort of catchphrase, if you ask me. 
    I think the thing that sort of saved Friday's hour from coming across as monotonous is that they had satisfying finishes in all three segments. In addition to the giddy sense of joy one gets from seeing Benoit kick ass, you also had the other two finishes coming across as Closing Chapters to long-standing stories. And tying them together gives you reason to maybe feel positive about future prospects: Eddie finally beating Rey has been a long time coming... and I think we can finally say "bye-bye" to Main Event JBL after Batista finished him off once again. And then, if I may interpolate, it seems like Eddie would make a fine next challenger to Batista's title. At the very least, they could get one PPV out of the deal, I think.
    The hour of SD! that didn't air on UPN did have one notable occurrence: Undertaker did not see the humor in the Orton Family's "Retirement Fund," and used all his powers of Gay Spookiness to signal that he'd like another chance to learn Randall some respect. From that angle done on the webcast, we had an Orton/Taker match signed for next week's SD!... I guess this is the solution to trying to make a splash with the first Full Length Friday SD!? 
    For a fully detailed account of Friday night's show (including a dutiful -- if brief -- recap of what happened on the webcast hour), check out my SmackDown! Recap. It'll be the last time I have to do this for a while, I think. Question is: who'll be covering SD! for OO from now on? The Canuck Recapper Experiment might be dead-on-arrival as now there are rumors that the show will be moved to Fridays in Canada later on this month.... oy. Why can't my job ever be easy? Once I figure out the deal with SD! in Canada, you Fine Folks will finally find out if you're going to get used to some new and unfamiliar Canucks doing SD! Recaps that will be published on Fridays, or if you'll be waiting till Mondays to read the recaps done by a rotating crew of Familiar Faces.
    But that's a Recap Headache for me to deal with another time. For now, we're talking about SD!'s Friday Night Debut, which has already been recapped and filed away for posterity.
  • LATE ADDITION: I just collected e-mail, and it turns out the Cubs Fan has actually done a recap of the first Webcast Hour of SD!... so you can dismiss my crappy bullet points and just augment your UPN SD! Recap with TCF's WWE.com SD! Recap
  • The rating for SD!? A 2.9. Which remains well below WWE's desired number (in the mid-3s or better), but which is also only down VERY slightly from recent weeks. Which means that those who've loyally stuck with SD! found it on its new night without any real trouble.
    The 2.9 might even be a bit of a moral victory, as UPN affiliates in a few major markets preempted SD! for baseball (including Boston and NYC, who were in the throes of a Yankees/Red Sox series). We'll have to see how SD!'s ratings do this week, with the full 2-hour telecast, and without the "free-per-view" caliber hype, but for now, I think Week One of the Friday Night Experiment is probably classifiable as a "win."
    A win for WWE, anyway. UPN, on the other hand, gains nothing... they may have just doubled their Friday night ratings, but Thursday night numbers for them were horrendous this week. A bunch of shitty sitcoms (all reruns, of course, but they would have been just as shitty the first time) managed to average less than 2.0 for the 8pm-10pm slot. I'd say "Ouch," but breaking 2.0 makes you a superstar on UPN. 
  • And after Friday Night SD!, there was a Sunday Night PPV this weekend. TNA served up "Unbreakable," and served up exactly what their remaining core fans wanted: The X Division Title being defended in the Main Event. 
    TNA's bread and butter is the level of high-risk in-ring action they can deliver. And these past few months they've been without a TV show, they've not been shy about pushing that aspect of the product. The NWA Title was defended on the undercard, and the X Division was allowed to shine in the main event last night, further underscoring TNA's desire to please the audience they have.
    The result was, by all accounts, a Match of the Year Candidate in which AJ Styles out-lasted Chris Daniels and Samoa Joe to once again become the X Division champ. Styles is now positioned as the standard bearer of the title that makes TNA distinct from WWE, and just in time for their national TV return. So in addition to being an excellent match, I think this is also an imminently logical booking move. I know I was in the minority who thought Styles was in way over his head when given the NWA Title; but I think heading up a division where his matches will do all his talking for him is the way to present him to a national TV audience. Talking: it really isn't AJ's thing. But the wrestling is. He proved it again last night.
    In other action: Raven retained the NWA Title with a win over Rhino, and the Naturals retained the TNA Tag Titles in a four-way match. Although neither could match the main event, both other title matches were said to be very good, too. In fact, the e-mails I got sound like after the first hour or so of forgettable throw-away matches, the show was very strong the rest of the way leading into the blow-away main event.
    For a full assessment of the event and details on the full 9-match card, I will now shut my ignorant yapper and turn you over to Licensed TNA Aficionado, Jason Longshore, for the Unbreakable PPV Recap.
  • TNA's PPV was almost as notable for who was backstage as it was for what they presented on TV. A small army of former WWE stars were in attendance, with the former Dudley Boyz topping the list. I think that's as solid an indication as we've gotten so far that the Duds are considering going to work for TNA, with or without their names. I had heard that there were scheduling conflicts that might keep them from starting up until after TNA's October PPV, but who knows? I hear a lot of things, and not all of them end up being true...
    Also backstage were: Gail Kim, Kevin Fertig (a/k/a "Mordecai," which, to crib a line from a man less talented than Fertig, was NOT his fault), Andrew Martin (a/k/a "Test"), Shannon Moore, and Kenzo Suzuki. Of the bunch, obviously Test is the one who might actually be an impact performer for TNA, as he would not only become an Instant Giant on the undersized TNA roster, but he also had moments in WWE that made you think the poor guy was probably being underutilized. If motivated to give a "Fuck you" to WWE, I could see Martin being a strong personality and plenty adequate inside the ring. And Moore? Well, he's another warm body for the X Division, I guess. 
    Kevin Nash was also backstage on Sunday, although that shouldn't be in the least bit surprising to anyone... as we've discussed in recent weeks, he's done filming his movie in Asia, he's once again healthy, and he's been scheduled to be a part of TNA's big relaunch for a while, now. The level of his involvement past the first month or so is unclear, but at the very least, he'll work the October PPV. 
  • Notable for his ABSENCE was Sean Waltman, who was scheduled to be a part of the four-way tag title match. But he no-showed, and apparently did so without much in the way of advance notice. TNA didn't have time to shuffle the line-up, and just had Alex Shelley work the match without a partner, and APPARENTLY did commentary that had the effect of burying Waltman. Which would indicate TNA's none-too-pleased and maybe considers themselves out of the Waltman Business...
    That'd be too bad, since I think they were building to a Waltman/Jerry Lynn feud, which is what put both guys on the map back 12 years ago when they were the only really good thing to come out of ESPN's broadcasts of the GWF. I think it would have been ironic to have Waltman and Lynn once again getting the spotlight on a new "alternative" wrestling show.
    For whatever it's worth, there were grumblings maybe a month or so back (maybe a little less) that WWE might once again be interested in Waltman. At the very least, he has a strong ally in Triple H, and has mentioned to others that the WWE door would be open to him if he proved himself clean and sober (a process paid for by HHH and Vince McMahon, actually)... so I don't know what you want to read into this, but even if this little morsel is accurate, I have to wonder if doing business this way is necessarily commendable. 
    We'll see how this pans out. Right now, there's really only the TNA side to the story... if/when we get Waltman's, we'll have a better idea of what's going on. To the best of my knowledge, nobody in Orlando last night ever heard from Waltman about the no-show, and his reasons remained a mystery at the end of the night.
  • An interesting situation is brewing with regards to the most recent "Tough Enough" winner... last fall, SD! ran the "Tough Enough" segments as self-contained segments on their show (a la the Diva Search), and some chump with moderate shootfighting experience won the thing. The hype was that it was a "million dollar contract" he won. But in reality, what he won was a four year contract worth $250,000 per year. And in reality: if he didn't meet certain requirements, the final three years of the contract would be voided.
    It appears that WWE has informed Dan Puder that they will be exercising that option to void the deal with the first year of the contract concludes in November. This sets up an odd situation, as Puder is still technically under contract till then, but he's also basically been told that WWE's none-too-impressed with his work so far. If Puder's interested, WWE will sign him on to a standard developmental deal, and he can try to improve his game while making the same amount of money as everybody else in OVW or DSW. But nobody expect Puder to accept that deal. Because all reports are that Puder marries the dumb-guy/no-personality-having side of him that we saw on TV with being kind of a pompous asshole in real life. And pompous assholes don't take pay cuts.
    But again: it's a deal where he's still got 2-plus months of obligations if he wants to cash the last of his big fat Tough Enough checks. He's recently been repackaged in OVW by Paul Heyman, with good results (Heyman, always the master of accentuating the positives and hiding the negatives!). But now, WWE might prefer that Heyman's efforts and OVW's TV time be spent developing somebody else, if Puder's just gonna go bye-bye.
    If this is it for Puder, it means that WWE currently employs more Tough Enough losers than it does winners. Actually, that would have been the case even before, but now WWE's down to two TE winners still under contract (and only one of them is actually on the main roster: Johnny Nitro). Can we please not have any more "Tough Enough," WWE? Not only does it make for painfully bad TV, but you've also not gotten a single real dependable performer out of the concept yet.
    And if this is it for Puder, I'd like to thank him for his magnificent contributions to WWE TV, made in VERY limited screen time. These include: coming off like a totally vapid ManBimbo any time he made the mistake of opening his mouth on camera, and getting the shit chopped out of him by Chris Benoit and Bob Holly in the 2005 Royal Rumble match.
  • Fixing an oversight from Friday.... I told you, with enthusiasm, about how Mick Foley's gonna be on Conan O'Brien, and how it'll be a great show because Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, is also a guest, and yadda yadda yadda.
    What I forgot to mention, as plenty of disgruntled readers noted, is what NIGHT Mick is on Conan. D'oh. It's Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning, if you're one of those anal types).
    So make a note of it.
  • Following up on something that's been on-going the last few weeks or so... we've been discussing the de-push of Christian and how it could be related to legal issues over the "Captain Charisma" nickname. One minute, we hear that somebody other than WWE owns that copyright and is making things messy... the next, we hear that "Captain Charisma" t-shirts are still on sale at live events and I might have been fed a bum bill of goods.
    Well: it looks like there really is something going on here. I've gotten word that WWE is actually telling all of its licensees to not move forward with any mentions of "Captain Charisma" in any Christian-related products. Which is as good a sign as any that if you HAVE had a chance to get your "Captain Charisma" t-shirt, I hope you took advantage. Cuz they're sounding like they will be collector's items here soon.
    And meantime, I *still* don't see what this should have to do with Christian's push. I mean, it was a cool catchphrase and all, but just because there've been some wranglings over a silly nickname is no excuse to have taken the guy from the cusp of main events on RAW and turn him into an afterthought on SD!...
  • Friday's new Ross Report on WWE.com continues the trend of JR emulating his favorite Internet Jackoff's distinctive style. Right down to a pre-ramble discussing sports and his drinking prowess.
    It also marks the second week in a row in which JR (seriously) derides a class of fan I had mentioned in a sarcastic/ironic/joking way. The week before, it was the people who I imagined would be incensed that "The Hurricane" was featured on TV so soon after Katrina. This week, it's a stern-talking to for fans who actually thought Flair's Sac Attack on Carlito was vaguely-gay. Oy. I joke because I don't think these people really exist.... but apparently they do.
    And plus: the sac-grabbing wasn't gay. The talk of ass-munching that followed immediately thereafter was. ZING~!
    There isn't necessarily a lot in the way of news from JR, but definitely a few opinions presented that I find interesting. Such as: commenting that the young crop of wrestlers don't have enough personal distinctiveness, and all tend to look one way, which is not a good thing. I agree, and I could even tie that back to my big-ass ranting on cosmetics back about a week ago, if I wanted. Being a unique individual will make you an interesting TV personality a lot sooner than being a body-builder with some ill-advised tattoos. Even JR says so!
    Also: JR says he'd like more cruiserweights on SD!.... that he thinks Rob Conway has what it takes to be a big star... that Chris Masters is more advanced than Lex Luger was at a comparable point of his career (which, if I let my imagination run wild, is an underhanded Secret Code Comment to any of us who know that comparing favorably to Lex Luger is not exactly an indicator of Immense Talent)... that Edge/Hardy at this weekend's PPV may surprise us all and steal the show... and that Brock Lesnar made a big mistake by walking away from the offer WWE made him last month. 
    Interesting that he'd bring up Lesnar out of nowhere. But maybe that's just me naively grasping at straws because I really would like to see Lesnar back in the fold...
    Anyway, even if not packed with hard news, JR's column is shaping up like an infotaining weekly read, with a blend of information, opinions, and anecdotes. 
  • And lastly today, it is my solemn duty to preview RAW.
    We know of two matches we'll see tonight, and we also have a PPV in just six days that could sure as hell use a little extra mustard on it.
    One of the only really bankable elements of Sunday's Unforgiven PPV is the main event pitting WWE Champ John Cena vs. Kurt Angle. The strength of Angle's performances (and the way he's been very well-booked, as opposed to Chris Jericho's lame duck push to a title shot last month) have this shaping up to be the first genuinely intriguing title match that EITHER brand has presented since WrestleMania. For the first time in six months, there actually seems to be the chance a champ might lose his gold.
    But before Cena vs. Angle takes place on Sunday, tonight we will be getting a Cena vs. Angle/Tomko handicap match. Huh. I guess this will all be presented as part of Eric Bischoff's Master Plan to get the title off of Cena.... thus, a "soften him up" match before the PPV. Obviously, the smart thing to do would be to have Cena get beat. If we're to continue believing that Angle has what it takes to beat Cena one-on-one, there's no freaking way he should lose to Cena in a two-on-one situation. But with WWE's asshattedness when it comes to Cena, you just never can tell. They keep wanting to push him like he's a mega-tough superman, even that that simply is NOT his proper shtick. I could see Cena getting the win and Angle having to settle for a post-match beatdown. I really could.... I guess it's OK as long as Cena's win comes over Tomko (maybe even make that part of the "story of the match," with Angle only picking select spots to work, and then "resting up" while Cena's forced to do battle with Tomko and expend lots of energy? Then you just need one moment of heel miscommunication, let Cena make his comeback and pin Tomko, without it reflecting badly on Angle; and of course, Angle still beats the piss out of Cena after the match).
    The other match we have on tap tonight is Ric Flair vs. Chris F. Masters. Grumblegrumblegrumble.... you know my stance: this should have been the throw-away match for the PPV, with a Michaels/Carlito match stepping up to give us a second reason to actually care about Unforgiven. But instead, we're doing it this way. I fully expect that this one will not end until both Carlito and Michaels make appearances, though. It's simply the easiest way of doing a schmozz that keeps Flair's dwindling legitimacy as an IC Title Contender alive. You can't just have him submit to the full nelson again this week, not with the PPV match against Carlito on the horizon. If Masters must win, it should be cheap.... but even better would just be a no-decision or a DQ of some kind. You could even set it all up by having Masters be the guest on Carlito's Cabana, having their dueling trashtalk of their PPV opponents foreshadow all four men being involved by the end of the Flair/Masters match. Nothing too exciting, really, but let us still hope for logic and continuity, even if we don't get particularly compelling TV out of the deal.
    So that's three of the PPV's matches that'll be amply addressed in two announced RAW matches... but wait! There's more!
    Edge vs. Matt Hardy in a steel cage is coming soon to a PPV near you, and it's looking more and more like that'll be a reason to be excited, instead of a reason to dread the overpowering taint of "OMG SHOOT~!".  Now that we're getting away from convincing everybody this is real (which, as always, only has the net effect of reminding everybody that the rest of the show is fake, and never ends up being worth the hassle), we've had better quality promos (from Edge, at least) and a very entertaining street fight on RAW a few weeks ago. The story here is that Matt Hardy "will not die," although he will apparently job to any biped in order to illustrate to us how injured and unable to compete he is. We'll see what twist on that basic storyline they come up with tonight.
    After that, there really isn't a whole lot to get fired up for on the Unforgiven PPV (and thus, on tonight's RAW): Big Show vs. Snitsky is a going issue, although I am hardpressed to tell you why... it appears that after scoring a non-title win over Hurricane and Rosey, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch will be your de facto #1 Contenders (Cade and Murdoch probably need more Character Building time, and less ring time, in order to get over and give fans a reason to care about an eventual title match)... Chavo "Kerwin White" Guerrero is looking like he'll be in line for a PPV match against Shelton Benjamin, in a feud predicated on racism. Leave it to WWE to come up with the way to make me anything less than enthused for a Chavo/Shelton match... and it the triumvirate of Victoria, Torrie, and Candace probably aren't done with Diva Search Ashley, which could well have implications for the PPV line-up. Of course, the main implication to get excited for on that front is that one of these nights, Trish Stratus will return to TV to help Ashely out, and once again give us two ring-capable women on TV at the same time. Nee haw!
    Sadly, this isn't one of those weeks where I can must my sense of "the pieces are there for RAW to be pretty solid tonight." Instead, the line-up for Sunday's PPV is established, and there simply isn't a whole lot WWE can do to make me care about many of those matches.... which makes me concerned that the best tonight's RAW can do is have a few nice big peaks (probably involving Kurt Angle), and then keep the rest of the show tight and logical. It says something that the only thing I can think of to cheer for tonight is "logic." I already have the sense that tonight can't be "good," so instead, I'm just hoping that it doesn't devolve all the way to "stupid."
    That's a pretty low ceiling, WWE. So for once: how's about you max out and live all the way up to my lofty expectations?
    And regardless of how things go on RAW, you know you can depend on OO for the greatest and best RAW Recap in the world. I'll have that for you tomorrow.
    Until then, enjoy the rest of your Monday and whatever portion of your Tuesday you have to suffer through before you once again get your FDA Daily Recommended Allowance of Vitamin Rick...

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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