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RAW, SD!/Ratings, Future of B-Shows,
TNA, Dudleys New Names, Lots More! 
September 26, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Ready for another go-round with The Rick's TV Korner?
Cuz last night was the season premiere of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO, and if you like Things That Don't Suck, then you should probably be watching that. Just beware that it really does take about 3-4 episodes before you realize how funny it is...

But then, the show AFTER "Curb" was the BBC Import "Extras," which I also watched, 

mostly because my NY Giants were getting throttled by Keith Mars' beloved San Diego Chargers. Ugh. But fret not, the Bengals are looking remarkably tough this year, so perhaps THEIRS will be the bandwagon I hop onto? It'd be the first time since like 1990, I think... but I digress.

"Extras" was absolutely hilarious, and easily trumped "Curb" on the night. Which I wasn't expecting, as it's the latest from Ricky Gervais, who created "The Office" a few years ago. And it might be blasphemous to say, but by the time I finally saw "The Office," it'd be hyped up so much as the Funniest Thing Ever (EVER!) that it didn't stand a chance of meeting my expectations. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but I wasn't blown away. I like the new American version of "The Office" about equally as much, actually. Then again, that could be an embryonic Mancrush on the "Pam" character, or it could just be that (the evidence of James Bond and Monty Python aside) I just am not one of those people who thinks everything is better with a British Accent instead of an American one.

Anyway, point being that "Extras" came with significantly less build-up and hype, and the result is that I was blown away at how funny it was, at least for 30 minutes. And the best part is, the format of the show seems to lend itself to being the same way EVERY week. I won't say much, lest I spoil things, but it's a really creative idea, and I can safely say that Kate Winslet has never been in anything that I've tolerated (much less liked). Until last night, when she played herself (kind of, in the same way that Larry David plays "himself" on Curb Your Enthusiasm). High-larious. You should make a note, and get on board, because these HBO series tend to be gone before you know it. Stupid "maintaining quality by only doing 8-10 episodes per year" mentality....

Oh, and something else from my Night of TV Flipping Due To Football Anguish: can somebody tell me how in the blue hell "Silence of the Lambs" gets a timeslot on the "Oxygen Network"? Oxygen, to the best of my knowledge, is about one notch better than "Lifetime Network" on the TV-For-Idiots Continuum. It's just that instead of catering to vapid housewives, it seems to cater to vapid single women. It just baffles me that one of the greatest, most brutal thriller movies of the past 20 years was being broadcast alongside things like "Girls Behaving Badly" and "Single in the City: Atlanta" last night... what gives? That shouldn't have been "Silence" last night, it should have been some made-for-TV movie starring Amy Brennemen tackling the issue of how to respond to sexual harrasment in the workplace when you're a single mother who's child is mentally retarded all while she's battling breast cancer. Right?
That's an even more baffling programming move than when I saw "Blazing Saddles" on the ABC Family Channel a year or so ago. And trust me, the "family edit" of Blazing Saddles is hilarious. But for all the wrong reasons....

Crazy. But with that, I think I've met my quota for non-wrestling rambling. Let's get this party started: 

  • Tonight's RAW.... I don't know, kids, I really don't. It's the big Farewell To SpikeTV episode, but if we've learned anything over the past month, it's that WWE is perfectly content to limp home, and save back the Good Stuff till next week's USA Network Homecoming.
    And yet: just 7 days ago, we saw how you don't need big fireworks and bells/whistles to keep an audience generally amused for 2 hours.
    So who knows which RAW will show up tonight? The one that's boring in a bad way, or the one that's uneventful in an entertaining way? Since I'm too naive to hold out hope for a kick-ass show that features something that we might all actually still remember at the end of the week, I'll just hope for the latter of those two more-realistic options.
    With no RAW PPV for over a month, and with that PPV being the "interactive" Taboo Tuesday, we are in kind of a drifting phase, where things are happening, but they don't seem to have any over-riding direction. We're heading somewhere, but we're not sure where, and we aren't even heading there very fast.
    More of the focus is on next week's Homecoming RAW, where we know we'll be getting at least one big match in Hardy vs. Edge in a Loser Leaves RAW Ladder Match. Those two really don't have to do anything tonight: the promise of that match sells itself... 
    We also have the mind-bogglingly silly Cena vs. Bischoff WWE Title Match coming next week, so I think the "logical" thing (in "WWE Think," at least) would be to have Bischoff spend tonight's show trying to convince us that he thinks he can win. Of course, this will have to take the form of Bischoff putting Cena in an unfair match (or series of matches, or something) to "soften him up," only to have Cena (ugh) prevail against the odds because WWE thinks he's a Stone-Cold Style bad-ass and can convincingly pull the vibe off without it being boring and predictable. Also: I'd put good money on Bischoff putting himself in the ring tonight in some kind of Karate Exhibition to prove what a bad-ass HE is, just because that always seems to happen just prior to any Eric Bischoff match, doesn't it?
    Meantime, that sense of "drifting" I mentioned will exhibit itself in a few ways... such as how Cena's wasting his time on matches with Bischoff, which leaves Kurt Angle with nothing pressing to do for at least a few weeks, while he awaits what SHOULD be an obvious rematch against Cena. Also treading water is Shawn Michaels, which is arguably a waste of 2005's Wrestler of the Year. Perhaps these two will get together on something? More on that possibility later...
    Also: Ric Flair is the IC Champ, but I don't know what we're supposed to be thinking is his most pressing issue. Is it ex-champ Carlito Cool? Is it Chris F. Masters? Does Flair have to dread the return of Triple H in one week? It's sort of a directionless deal at this point, and I have some pretty clear ideas on which directions I'd like to see eliminated from contention as soon as possible. No Chris F. Masters title shots, please. As I said last week: he should accept a role as Carlito's lackey for a while, and leave the wrestling and talking and taking-up-TV-time to those who can do it without inducing audience-wide comas. 
    Big Show and Shelton Benjamin are also aimlessly drifting at this point, which strikes me as pretty much inexcusable. The tag ranks are a mess, as well, with our new tag champs facing a likely rematch with Hurricane/Rosey, and then facing a gaping void. WWE "pet projects" like Rob Conway and Tyson Tomko have yet to find a connection with the audience, and as such also contribute to a sense of water treading, since their segments on RAW tend towards inspiring piss-breaks, instead of inspiring interest from fans.
    Pretty much the only other area of the show where you actually can see a logical direction taking shape is with the women... the duo of Trish Stratus and Diva Search Ashley are having their problems with Victoria, Torrie Wilson, and Candice Michelle, and while there's a lot of different iterations to go through till we get there, the only sensible outcome of this is a one-on-one women's title feud between Trish and Victoria. And I likes me the prospects of that, so I'll also sit back and enjoy the ride getting there, I guess....
    To make up for the "drift factor," WWE is selling tonight's RAW by using "another appearance by Vince McMahon" to keep you distracted. Of course, after last week's "surprise announcement" was so underwhelming, I'm not so sure that Vince making an appearance is quite as big a selling point as they think. More likely than not, he'll just be there shilling more "surprise announcements" about next week, and also antagonizing Eric Bischoff in skits that are probably funnier to Vince than they are to anyone else. Possibly tonight could be the official announcement about Taboo Tuesday, too.
    So that's about all I can say about tonight's RAW: that I'm not exactly sure what to expect. I'm such a Wrestling Genius, aren't I? But with most of the company's promotional work going into a little "free-per-view" show next week, and then with a month after that to get things ready for their next PPV, it really is a deal where RAW can dick around in a free fall for a bit before getting focused on the Big Picture again. This might sound like a major gripe, but it's not really. As long as the free falling is entertaining, tonight's show can still be a fully enjoyable bit of "fast food," like last week's: tasty, easy-to-swallow, but ultimately forgettable.
    Check out the show tonight, even if only to say you were there for the Very Last RAW on SpikeTV. And then check back to OO tomorrow for the Just Another Installment of the World-Famous OO RAW Recap. We've been making bad shows fun to read about (and good shows even MORE fun to read about) since 2002!
  • With that bit of RAW Previewing out of the way, I can now move on to a bit of SmackDown! Reviewing.... 
    Friday night's show was not a bad one, at all. Unlike RAW, SD! DOES have a PPV coming up very soon, and for the first time in a long time, they've actually remembered to come up with a main event that might get people interested in the show. Batista vs. Eddie Guerrero has been a really fun little story, and also projects out to be a very good match.
    Unfortunately, outside of that one match, the No Mercy PPV isn't exactly shaping up as a jim dandy. Still, for SD!, coming up with a One Match Card is a step in the right direction, no? 
    In fact, with the PPV less than 2 weeks away, only two matches have even been announced, and trying to figure out where they'll get 5-6 more is a truly taxing bit of mental gymnastics, even for me. That's because, like last week's RAW, the past few SD!'s have been in that kind of water-treading, fun, "fast food" kind of mold, without really giving us an idea what major matches/feuds to pay attention to.
    This weekend's show was more of the same, with lots of attention given to the Batista/Eddie story, and one predictable (but I guess relatively satisfying, and not-very-Gay-Spooky) angle done between Taker/Ortons to set up their match at the PPV. And while Taker/Orton isn't doing a whole lot for me, I *am* loving the Eddie/Batista stuff. For those not watching, Eddie is professing to be Batista's friend, trying to keep Batista from getting angry, and thus, keeping Batista's Animal leashed. This way, Eddie only has to face Batista The Wrestler in a Battle of Friendly Mutual Repsect, instead of facing Batista's full wrath.
    But the thing is: some writer monkey on SD! has FINALLY figured out what made Batista so cool and popular starting back about a year ago... they've given Batista back his Calm, Collected Logical Monster character. Batista is once again Smarter Than Your Average Hoss, and he's back to being likeable because he's reacting to this situation like a real person (or at least, like I would imagine myself reacting), instead of reacting like some blustering wrestling caricature. That means he's been very low-key and calm while he pretends to accept Eddie's overtures of friendship, which has had the hilarious effect of confusing the hell out of Eddie. See how that works: Batista's too smart to fall for Eddie's ploy, but Eddie's not so dumb to think that things are working out the way he intended. I like it when you actual write characters who are actually as smart as the audience, instead of who have to act in a way that means even the densest fan is two steps ahead of them...
    There were more comedic interludes between Batista and Eddie this weekend, done well enough that when they hit a "punchline" that involved a gay doctor (hired by Batista, out of concern for his ill friend, Eddie) anally probing Eddie, I was willing to forgive the stupidity of it, and just chuckle along like a good little lemming. Mostly because everything before that was so funny, but whatever.... I'll take what I can get. And then they played it perfectly during the ensuing match (which was supposed to be Batista/Eddie vs. MNM, but instead turned out to be Batista vs. MNM, with Eddie overselling his rectal pain in the entrance aisle until it was time for him to tag himself into the match and steal the win after Batista had done all the work).
    Ken Kennedy vs. Rey Mysterio was a fun little deal, too, but it seemed designed more to set up a Rey vs. JBL match at the PPV (which, ugh, I guess it'll be about as exciting a JBL match as we've seen in 3 months, but still: unless Rey wins and continues his march towards being a legit threat to heavyweights, I am not fired up about these prospects). I'm sorry to say: JBL was a one note character, and that note only rang true when he was holding the WWE Title. I don't know if his association with MNM's "fixer" will lead to some kind of mini-make-over or something, but for now, JBL continues to leave me cold...
    Beyond that, the show was just as cruise-control-esque as RAW, with some stuff that was fun, but that doesn't really give you any sense of urgency or PPV-worthiness. Booker and Christian had a good match, and after Booker's win, his wife tried to convince him that makes him a US Title Contender... except that after last week, I was enthusiasic because I thought we were in line for a Christian vs. Benoit US Title feud. I guess MAYBE this is building to a three-way at the PPV? If Edge loses the "Loser Leave RAW" match, it'd kick some ass if he showed up on SD! the next night and turned it into a four-way, too. E&C reunited again.... just a thought.
    Bob Holly and Animal/Heidenreich are like kryptonite to my attention span, and were fast-forwarded without prejudice when I finally got around to watching the show on Saturday, and yet both will probably end up with PPV spots. And can someone please explain to me how taking Spaz and Stacy off RAW so they can inexplicably be drawn to Miserable Jackass Bob Holly on SD! makes any sense? Especially Spaz, who had really found her niche with Eugene, if you ask me.... blearrggghh.
    One real highspot from SD!'s slew of throw-away segments: the debut of Bobby Lashley. For those who don't know, he's a former amateur wrestler who was herded to WWE by Kurt Angle, and has been training in OVW for about 18 months. Some question his smoothness in terms of ring psychology and stuff, but christ: the guy is Brock-Lesnar-big (in that "these muscles is for USING, instead of for looking at" kind of way; I'm sure some bodybuilding aficionados out there could probably describe it better, but I'm equally as sure that there aren't any of you out there, since anytime I bring up body building aficionados, I am sure to comment about how they are probably all incredibly gay), and all he's gotta do is follow the Brock Blueprint that will include months of squashes and looking flat-out awesome. His moveset is remarkable, his quickness amazing because of his size, and his mat wrestling basics are obviously sound given his amateur background. He is, simply, a compelling guy to watch. The instantaneous crowd response he got this weekend tells you everything you need to know about how this guy is fundamentally different from -- oh, let's just say -- Chris F. Masters. Masters sends people to the remote control, but Lashley? You can't take your eyes off him, because he was in constant motion and was kicking some serious ass.
    I already know a popular comparison the past 3 days has been to TNA's Monty Brown, but folks.... Monty is the second coming of Ahmed Johnson (sloppy power-based moves, unintelligible promos, yet with some intangible charisma), and Lashley really strikes me as more a second coming of Lesnar (crisp moveset punctuated with incredible power, initially lacking a bit on the promo/personality/psychology side, but will almost instantly be able to hold up his end of good matches once he's put in there with a Ring General who will help guide him through those things). Since Lashley's debuting as a babyface, I guess they aren't giving him a manager/mouthpiece, so I hope his promo works has come along since the last OVW tapes I saw....
    An OOfficial Prediction: at some point in the future, Lashley vs. Paul Birchill will be a match-up that moistens the panties of even most Internet Jackoffs. I can see those two making it to the top of the food chain, if all is done correctly by WWE's creative monkeys....
    Anyway, those are some of my thoughts from this weekend's SD!. For more details, check out the OO SD! Recap, which was published before the show even aired in the US! How? Because I enlisted the assistance of a Filthy Canuck, and they get to see SD! a day earlier than us up in Canada. Check out "The Hosehead's" OO debut... chance are good, you'll be seeing more of the guy.
  • The initial rating for SD! is a 3.0, which is about on par with the last few weeks (and still a bit down from where WWE would like it). But again: pre-emptions mean that by the time a final rating is calculated, things could be much, much worse. I'd expect a final rating to be in the low-mid-2's. Once those preemptions are through (after this week, it should get better), than SD!'s final numbers will hold up pretty well to the initial ratings, once again.
    If they do that, it'll mean almost all of SD!'s audience (at the time of the move) "followed" the show to Friday.
  • Some more about WWE's "Homecoming" edition of RAW, next week...
    For starters, it looks like the 7:55 (eastern) start time is finally official. Although TV listings and stuff list it as an 8pm start time, I got a press release from NBC Universal today, and it says the start time is, indeed, 7:55, as USA attempts to get a headstart on SpikeTV's night of UFC and TNA.
    Secondly: you can add Piper's Pit to the line-up. His guest will be Mick Foley. With Foley slated to return to TV on a weekly basis, it'll be really interesting to see how that plays out.
    Thirdly: we MIGHT be getting a Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle Iron Man Match next week. Holy Shit... if true, I'm with countless readers who wrote in suggesting that this was WWE's way of telling TNA to take their Styles/Daniels IronMan Match and cram it with walnuts. I mean, both matches are sure to be awesome, but you know what I mean... 
    I say "might," because this announcement supposedly leaked on WWE.com over the weekend, but then was immediately taken down. One reader did send me a screencap of the WWE.com front page, with the Michaels/Angle announcement, and I figure that's as good an indicator as any that the match is on. Because otherwise, somebody who has the time to photo-shop a screencap of WWE.com in support of a lame internet rumor has Punk'd me.
    My guess: WWE.com was told to hold off on the announcement so that they can have it be a surprise when they do some kind of promo/angle tonight on RAW to set it up. Which is fine by me. I'd prefer it that way, actually, to the more lazy method of just using WWE.com to announce random matches. Sure this would be another match that "sells itself," but isn't it always more fun when WWE takes the time to utilize creativity and cleverness to set up matches, instead of resorting to deus ex machina? I know it is for me...
    I'll say this: silliness of Cena/Bischoff aside, if we end up with both Hardy/Edge's ladder match and an Angle/Michaels IronMan match (even if it's just a 30 minute one), RAW's Homecoming Show might end up being a better 3 hours than just about every WWE PPV so far this year. Which, yes, is a compliment to WWE's job setting up next week's line-up, but which ALSO is a backhanded (and deserved) criticism of WWE's PPV habits this year.
    Next week's looking like a good ol' good one, though. Hope you're all starting to get as excited as I am about the prospects... all this AND we get a look at TNA's attempt to relaunch itself (hopefully with better results than their FSN debut). Twill make for a fun Monday Night Marathon of Wrestling Action. Well, at least it will for me.... I've kind of decided that (at least for starters), I'm more than capable of waiting to watch TNA till Monday night's replay, when I'm more apt to be in a wrestling mood. Some of you other sickies out there will probably actually go out of your way to see the Saturday night version, though, won't you?
    Of course, if I wanted to be a Johnny Buzzkill, I'd take a look at the baseball play-off races and point out that there appears to be a VERY good chance that this season will require some single-game play-offs to determine who advances to the Division Series. That game(s) would be played Monday... and for the second year in a row, an unscheduled Yankees/Red Sox game might severely wound WWE's ratings. I know that in a battle between a Homecoming RAW and a huge baseball game, the former would be DVR'ed and the latter would be watched live, with rapt attention, anyway.
    So the only logical thing for all wrestling fans to do? Cheer for the Red Sox and/or the Indians to lose their next 6 games, so that next Monday night's Rasslin' Bonanza isn't ruined! Yeah!
  • Speaking of TNA: I joked about the fundamental lack of appeal for an AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong match being announced as "Impact's" very first segment this weekend, mostly because it amounts to "Tune in promptly, so you can see the amazing AJ Styles do some flippy-floppy stuff and beat some semi-jobber you've never heard of before."
    Well, turns out that offended some people. [Me? Offend TNA fans? NEVER!] Because while Strong has been booked as mostly a curtain jerker in TNA, it's because he wasn't under contract... and since he's lately been getting pushed hard in ROH, TNA decided to lock him into a contract, which either has been done or will be soon. Which, according to TNA fans, means Roderick will be a "jobber" no longer, since TNA will push him.

    Well, dum dums, that's all well and good, but it also still doesn't take away from the fundamental fact that FOR NOW, Roderick Strong is still a nobody (even to most wrestling fans), and TNA's announcement would have had just as much (ugh) Impact if they announce NO opponent for Styles. Strong is not a "value add" in this case, and I'm quite confident of that.
    Now: will the match this weekend be better and more-evenly contested than I thought? Probably, if Strong is now under contract, and will be receiving a push. And winners are all of us. But in terms of marketability (which is really all I was talking about), just relax and accept the fact that I'm right about this, OK? Trust me: I want TNA to succeed just as much as you do, cuz SOMEbody needs to light a fire under WWE's ass. I just don't get that confused with maintaining a discerning eye when it comes to the reality of the situation....
  • While TNA tapes their first few weeks of TV tomorrow night, OO is going to remain Spoiler-Free, giving TNA the same treatment as we give to SD! in the name of making the Actual TV Show as entertaining to you as possible.
    Also: I've been talking with Jason Longshore, and we're going to give TNA as big a kick-off as we can this weekend. I'm not sure exactly what form Jason's ideas have taken in the last week or so since we last spoke, but he's gonna have a big feature on Friday for you, looking at the re-launch of TNA from a fan's perspective (instead of from my Cynical Asshole perspective). Should serve as a bit of a primer or warm-up for those not quite familiar with TNA, and should be an intelligent discussion of the hopes and fears one might feel if one is already a big TNA fan.
    Then, Jason'll do a full recap of "Impact," too. The only thing I've yet to decide? Whether to publish the recap on Monday, or wait till Tuesday, after the Monday night replay (which I again believe has a very good chance of ending up doing higher ratings on a weekly basis than Saturday night's timeslot)... but we'll be doing TNA's debut weekend up right, I promise.
  • While "Impact" moves into the old WWE timeslot on Saturday night, Velocity is now officially headed to the internet (along with Heat). WWE.com announced that over the weekend.
    Oh, the irony: "Impact" can't score enough viewers on FSN to make retaining that timeslot financially advisable, so they go to a weekly webcast, seen by literally hundreds of devout fans... and then, when they finally return to TV, it's in the timeslot of a WWE show that couldn't draw enough viewers to make selling the show to another network feasible, sending that WWE show to be a weekly webcast, probably to be seen by as many as tens of thousands of devout fans.
    The plan is for Heat and Velocity to both be available "on demand" on WWE.com. Heat will be released on Friday evening, while Velocity has to be held back to Saturday (in order to retain Temporal Consistency, since "Velocity" has to happen "after" SD! in WWE's timeline, even though it's taped before; just take me word for it, and don't think too hard about it... you'll only hurt your brain).
    While I'm still not entirely sanguine about watching TV on my computer, I think the "on-demand" aspect of this is very interesting... in fact, I wish WWE would chop things up a bit, and instead of asking viewers to watch an entire hour-long show in one sitting, they made Heat and Velocity available "a la carte." That way I could get my weekly Tajiri fix, in the background while I'm doing something else, without wasting an hour of my time on video packages and other shit.
    WWE could even use this as a tool for determining which stars people actually care about. I mean, I'm sure they have plenty of other metrics, but I say they need MORE of them, given some of the ass-hatted decisions they've made in terms of personnel and pushes. So another stat that shows "Tajiri Match: downloaded 89,309 times / Snitsky vs. Matt Stryker: downloaded 17 times" might finally help them to relieve the rectal insertion of their collective cranium.
    This, of course, will never happen. Because WWE WANTS you to sit through shitty video packages and Snitsky matches... but I can dream, can't I?
    My main point from last week still stands, too: as much as I think it's hilarious that WWE has been forced to resort to a TNA tactic now that they've been booted off of network TV due to low ratings, I COULD see this as a good thing. Without the time constraints and advertsising, a WWE.com version of the b-shows could, reasonably, feature longer and better matches. The downside, of course, is that these longer and better matches will still only be seen by about 10% of the previous Heat/Velocity audience, but still... anything to make it so that the webcasts appeal to the core internet audience, right?
  • WWE.com has also officially confirmed that Diva Search Kristal has signed with the company. She ended up finishing fourth, and was one of three Rick-approved contestants, so I've got no problem with this...
    In fact, I believe that Diva Search Elisabeth is also either under contract or is expected to be, which would mean all three of my picks got signed (the other being Winner Ashley), and ONLY my three picks got signed. Which is a step in the right direction after last year's soul-crushing flood of diva search losers... what can I say? I try mightily to keep it under wraps better than idiots like Jerry Lawler, but the Rick can definitely put "connoisseur of fine women" on his resume.
    Or at least, in this case, I somehow got lucky and for once had my Eye For Marketability converge with WWE's. For whatever it's worth, Kristal's last name is "Marshall," but I'll probably just call her "Diva Search Kristal" like I do for Ashley. Because for some reason, I take perverse glee in pretending to be ignorant of last names until after a girl has proven herself. At least Ashley, Kristal, and Elisabeth don't have to fear being slapped with a nickname like "Spaz," though....
    Also: I can't confirm this, but I guess the idea is to get Kristal ready for the ring, not just to be a TV Personality, so she's gonna report to Deep South Wrestling in Atlanta to do some training.
  • I guess the Dudley Boyz have picked a new name... according to countless Vigilant Readers, paperwork was filed last week trademarking the name "The Deadly Boyz."
    Also trademarked were the names "Devon Deadly," "Brother Ray Deadly," and the "Deadly Death Drop." 
    I don't know what to think. If these are, in fact, the Duds new names, the sink-or-swim factor will come down to one thing: the very first promo they cut on TNA. If they can explain it away and sweep the name issue under the rug, then the names are close enough to the old ones that fans might just forget all about it and go along with the new ones. But if the promo rings false, then all the new names are going to do is remind people of the old names, and make them wonder why they had to be changed.
    I'm not explaining that very well, but I hope you get the gist... and I guess this idea has a better chance of going over than an idea that was presented to me in e-mail last week (albeit in tongue in cheek fashion) to rename the team the Do-Right Boyz.
  • Lastly for today, I just want to respond to Jeb's Latest Column. Partly because by doing so, I can maybe coax a few more of you out there to go read the thing before you move on to my rebuttal (for it really is a heartfelt take on how it sometimes feels to be a wrestling fan in this day and age).... but also partly because if there's one thing the column should inspire in EVERY reader, it's the answer to Jeb's unspoken question, "Why ARE we still watching?". And like everybody else, I defensively formulated my own reasons...
    I don't necessarily want this to be a big long thing, but I was made uncomfortable by the notion that I might be a "battered spouse" who should know better. And what I came up with? Actually, what I came up with was remembering something I jokingly used as an extended metaphor for OO's Team Coverage ECW PPV Preview (which, looking back, is actually a very cool piece, and turned out better than I remembered).
    In that column, I jokingly referred to ECW as the willing mistress who would do for us all the things that our frigid and inattentive wife (the WWE) had stopped doing for us in recent years. And once I remembered that riffing, I realized: WWE might be a bitch, but she's never hit me. Nope. I'm not a battered spouse. I'm merely one who seems stuck in a relationship with an absentee spouse.
    Now, I think there really are battered fans out there. People who actually sink a lot of money into WWE (be it for tickets or PPVs or t-shirts or action figures or whatever), and when WWE serves up crap, that almost IS a slap across the face to the money-spending public. Me? My wrestling fandom never really got to that point of financial investment, and at this point, I haven't paid to get into a wrestling show in years and I'm stuck going to Hooters for PPVs so I tell myself those $15 bucks aren't going into Vince's pocket and the only WWE products I've bought in the last two years are DVDs sets of older/retro footage and not the current stuff. Simply put: I haven't let myself get in the position where WWE COULD hit me. She ignores me, she doesn't cook my favorite dinner anymore or do that thing with her tongue that drives me crazy, but I've never been struck.
    And so I don't feel the need to walk away, necessarily. But I feel well within my rights to retreat from the relationship, too. It's funny, because once I realized this, a whole bunch of my other behaviors fit the metaphor. Like how I'm at the point now where I don't even watch RAW in "real time," I just DVR it and watch it in a quick session before bed on Mondays. WHich comes after I already gave SD! that same treatment going back 18 months or more. Which came after I completely eliminated any b-shows from my weekly viewing patterns. The way I see it: if WWE wants to come home late from work, it's not on me to have a piping hot meal on the table whenever she gets in, so I'll just put some left overs in the fridge and she can have those. Or: if WWE wants to serve up mediocrity, it's not on me to watch it live with rapt attention, so I'll just put it on DVR and get around to it when I feel like it. See what I mean?
    This even ties into the "willing mistress" thing, too. Because I'm cheating on WWE to get what I used to get from her. Instead of watching RAW in real time, I'll be watching "Arrested Development" tonight, and now that when the time comes, I'll once again give "24" priority over RAW, and stuff like that. All these willing mistresses and more are giving me the pleasure I crave, and as long as WWE just sits there doing nothing about it, I think we'll co-exist in this frigid state of detente. 
    Taking it one step further: the reason I still DO record the shows and watch them on DVR, instead of just giving up entirely? It's because of our kids. You see, me and WWE used to be quite the frisky pair... and we copulated, and in many ways, all of YOU out there in OO Reader Land are the offspring. For your benefit, I don't think it's fair to just give up entirely, not when I know you count on both of us to keep you entertained. Now that bitch wife of mine might have stopped caring, but I'm gonna keep on maintaining as much civility as I can, will keep on putting the left-overs in the fridge so at least she won't starve, and keep on trying as hard as I can to hold this together, however loosely. It's for the kids.
    I'm not being abused by WWE. I am certainly being neglected, but I've also learned I can neglect right back, and get some of what I need elsewhere. As long as I'm looking out for myself that way, I don't feel bad about sticking around. I don't feel naive or silly... I just feel like someone who took a LOT of time picking someone/something, and knows that he chose wisely, so he refuses to completely give up as long as he's not genuinely being abused. Which I'm not.
    So long live me and WWE's frosty-but-sustainable relationship! Well, actually, I wish it'd be short-lived and she'd warm back up again, but barring that: I'm more than happy to put up with her inattentiveness as long as she's willing to put up with my whoring. I feel like in this relationship now based on mutual neglect, I'm giving as good as I'm getting, even if I am too emotionally attached to just walk away forever.
    I hope that this over-extended metaphor makes as much sense to you as it does to me, because frankly, it strikes me as about as concise a way to sum up my feelings on the matter as I'd ever come up with in a million years. And the funny part is, I kind of came up with it 3 months ago, before I ever really thought about it as a serious issue...
  • Anyway, that's all I got for today. But rest assured I'll be back with the Greatest and Best RAW Recap in the World for you tomorrow. I hope you kids appreciate everything I do for you, even if your mother is never around, anymore! 

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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