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PPV Fall-Out, Jim Ross: Hired or Fired?,
SD!/TNA TV Thoughts, and Lots More... 
October 10, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I think this is officially the part of the year where I'm obligated to bitch and moan about how we all need to band together and buy Baseball back from FOX.
I mean, it's bad enough that I've had to sit through two of FOX's "a-team" announcers doing Yankee games, but on Saturday, I actually caught about an inning or so of the Houston/Atlanta game with what MUST have been their "c-team," since I didn't recognize the voices, and they were just downright horrible. And when

your competition is Tim F. McCarver, and you can still be commendably awful at your job, that's really saying something.

And can we please just give up on trying to make baseball sexier or more exciting by over-producing it, FOX? Fricking monkeys probably think that they are making baseball more marketable by doing completely pointless rapid-fire camera cut-aways in between pitches, or having non-sequitur graphics/stats pop onscreen with annoying sound effects, or coaching their announcers to only speak in 5 second sound bites instead of in complete thoughts.

But no: FOX thinks that if they add in enough of this other crap, somehow they will make baseball more accessible to the masses. Bzzzt. Baseball is what it is, and while it might never be the most action-packed of sports, its stories are plenty compelling and "accessible" to anybody with half an attention span. FOX's problem is that they can't have the Yankees/Red Sox every year, or the Cubs making a run for the World Series, or any of those other baseball stories that people care about and which generate the monster ratings (completely independent of FOX's shitty production, mind you).... so apparently their solution is to throw so much crap out there to distract fans in case the World Series ends up being  a lame match-up like Anaheim vs. St. Louis, or something like that. They must honestly think they can trick some statistically significant percentage of the audience to buy the packaging, without them checking to see what's inside first. And that can't be right, can it? 

It's something that only enrages me all the more when you go straight from ESPN's excellent production to FOX's, like I did last night. Nothing distracting about the production (about as "sexy" as ESPN gets is their K-Zone thingie), and announcers who are capable of filling the time in between pitches with anecdotes and accurate assessments of strategy, instead of with camera trickery and Tim McCarver's pitiably misguided (and frequently demonstrably-wrong) blatherings.

So, c'mon: I figure it'll take about $50 million to get baseball out of FOX's evil clutches. Who wants to get the ball rolling?

Here's some wrestling stuff: 

  • As referenced above, I was pretty much glued to my couch yesterday afternoon and evening for baseball. With a PPV last night, that meant something had to give... and frankly, I gladly gave up on the No Mercy PPV.
    I gotta say, I feel like I chose wisely: sounds like No Mercy was probably an inoffensive three hours, but also completely devoid of any fireworks (well, other than in a patented Pyrotechnic Display of Gay Spookiness after the Taker match) or anything unexpected. Whereas the end of the Astros/Braves game was excellent (how can you not [heart] Roger Clemens?), and the Yankees/Angels game was tremendously tight and exciting throughout.
    No surprising booking moves, no major title changes, and not even a hint of a "RAW Invasion," despite the fact that WWE.com all but promised one, and Teddy Long had even invited RAW to show up on the weekend's SD!. So although there were a few entertaining matches, No Mercy still doesn't sound like it blew anybody away or left then convinced that there was a defensible reason to put a $35 price tag on the event.
    For the record, the quick and dirty results from No Mercy were:
    Batista beat Eddie Guerrero via clean pinfall.
    JBL beat Rey Mysterio.
    Chris Benoit beat Christian/Booker/Jordan.
    Ortons beat Undertaker (in the consensus Match of the Night).
    Bobby Lashley and Ken Kennedy both won their squash matches.
    Juventud Guerrera beat Nunzio to win the Cruiserweight Title.
    Animal/Heidenreich/Spaz beat MNM.
    You can get the more detailed account of the hows and whys of those eight matches courtesy of the Canadian Bulldog, who volunteered to step in and recap the show for me once I realized I'd have a conflict of interests on Sunday night. Check out his No Mercy PPV Recap.
  • For the record, another one of the reasons why the show sounded a bit underwhelming is just because it seemed to play out rather predictably. At least, if you're smart as I am, it did. I picked 7 out of 8 matches accurately, missing only the mixed tag team opener (which I honestly can't figure out why they booked it that way unless MNM are just done as tag title challengers, and SD!'s gonna do what I've been advocating lately: which is bringing Regal/Burchill back to TV so they can kick some ass).
    As of this writing, I don't have PyroFalkon's independent auditing of PPV Predictions, yet, but I think my 7 of 8 has got to be pretty solid (and with our weighted points scheme, only missing the opener means I was only one point away from perfection)... thing is, I also know I'll have company this month. Bulldog said in the recap that he picked the same slate as me, so kudos to him. And Erin picked the same slate as me because, well, she basically tricked me into giving her my picks and then presented them as her own.
    In the case of a three-way tie, I give myself the win on the grounds that My Yankees are still playing baseball, and Erin's Braves are not. To the best of my knowledge they don't even PLAY baseball in Canada since the Triple-A affiliate in Montreal moved back to the U.S., so Bulldog's SOL, too.
  • There's really no point going back to rehash the weekend's edition of SD! now that we've also had a subsequent PPV offering... I'll just say that I FF through the show on Sunday, and it took less than an hour, and it did absolutely nothing to change my mind about picking baseball over No Mercy.
    Not that it was an awful show, or anything, it's just that it did nothing to inspire me to really care about anything besides the Eddie/Batista match.
    For the record, the show did a 2.6 prelim rating on Friday, which is down significantly from the prelim ratings the show has been doing since the move. But on the good side: with no major preemptions, the final rating should hold pretty steady, instead of dropping precipitously (as it has for the past month, due to factoring in off-peak airings of SD! in major markets).
    You can get the full report on the show in the Hosehead's SmackDown! Recap.
  • I also violated my own intended rule once again this weekend, and DVR'ed and watched TNA Impact (instead of saving it till Monday night's replay)... it left me with pretty much the same impression as the debut episode: that it's an entertaining enough hour (possibly even a bit more so in this second week than in the first), but that it's simply not different enough from what WWE was already presenting in that timeslot to ever create any new fans. 
    There's a reason why 90% of wrestling fans never felt bad about skipping the B-shows... and that's something TNA needs to actively address: cuz they need a show that 90% of wrestling fans consider to be "can't miss."
    Some quick thoughts: 
    The 3LK/Team Canada opener served mostly to remind me that I hate Konnan. I don't know why, I just do. It also served to remind me that apparently the BG James/Billy Gunn storyline is STILL going on. Which is retarded, since it was already stale back when TNA was on FSN.
    The three-way X Division match was the night's easy highlight (and also the best thing TNA has showcased in its first two weeks on TV), a full 10-12 minutes, and showcasing two of TNA's better talents in Chris Daniels and Matt Bentley. Also: TNA Recapper Jason Longshore and I may disagree on some issues (such as which vaguely-boring sport to adopt as a pet hobby, or what is appropriate to put in your whiskey), but I know we are of one mind on the issue of MORE TRACI. Except that: for her SpikeTV debut somebody (quite possibly a homosexual, not that there's anything wrong with that) dolled her up in a frilly dress. Dammit. I just know that nobody with an eye for girls would have said, "Nobody wants to see you on TV in those outstanding, IQ-lowering jeans, honey; wear this instead."
    A company that only gets one hour of TV time a week maybe shouldn't be investing it in pointless squashes. Or if they do, they should be IMPRESSIVE squashes. But after 90 seconds of Abyss, I don't think anybody was exactly in awe of the guy. I also can't stop laughing everytime TNA announcers try to convince us that Abyss is 6'10" or something.
    The Zbyszko/Jarrett/Chico Ortiz/Nash segment was.... well, it did nothing for me. TNA is wasting their time and energy by trying to present Ortiz as some kind of legit "celebrity." Not only is he only famous/recognizable within a very small circle of UFC fans, but just from a performances aspect, he is terrible. I mean, my main memory of this angle was not anything from a storyline perspective, but rather that there were all kinds of sloppy/distracting edits, and all seemed to be centered around Ortiz's speaking parts. And if what they left in was his best work? Well, I re-assert my opinion from earlier this year (when Ortiz went on a talk show to promote his appearance on TNA) that Chico Ortiz is quite possibly certifiably retarded in addition to being quite the purported real life douchebag. He's TNA's own Randy Orton!
    Then the main event.... oh, the main event. This is exactly where TNA will lose back any points it wins with fans looking for a legit alternative to WWE. They spent a week promotion the former Dudley Boyz vs. AMW was a "dream match." And then when the time came for the match, it lasted about 7-8 minutes, and 3 of those were a commercial break. D'oh. This is not how you build-up goodwill; that's more a WCW Nitro-style bait-and-switch. You want to call it a "dream match," then make sure it is; you just want to use the match as a brief set-up for a post-match angle, then don't go getting fans hopes up by calling it a "dream match." 
    Anyway: the post match angle was Gail Kim showing up to get AMW disqualified, and then Jeff Jarrett hit the scene and managed to leave both the Dudleys in pools of their own blood. Well: I guess the Dudleys might not be the "Dudleys" anymore, but there ain't nothing that'll stop them from going back to an old classic... putting chicks through tables. Poor Gail Kim.
    You can get the full report on TNA's second SpikeTV effort courtesy of Jason Longshore's Impact Recap.
  • With the weekend's wrestling covered, we can move on to one of the bigger stories of the day....
    Apparently, Jim Ross was very close to being removed as WWE's lead announcer, a change that could have been made as early as tonight. This is one of those stories that people had been kind of muttering about for close to two weeks, but it was so retarded that nobody actually thought it could be true. Well: late last week, things got serious enough that everybody had to finally accept the fact that, yes, WWE *can* be that retarded, and that yes, the rumors had plenty of validity.
    The deal is that Vince McMahon wants Jim Ross off of TV because he's not pretty enough. JR would then be assigned to anchor RAW's webcast. Some people are saying WWE has even tried to sell JR on this being a great opportunity for him to help open up a new medium.... but JR ain't the dumb. This is, plain and simple, akin to NBC telling Tom Brokaw "Thanks for everything you do on the Nightly News, but we really need you to go quarterback some crappy hour long talkshow on MSNBC that nobody will be watching." And that dog don't hunt, monsignor.
    JR's intended replacement was to be UFC's Mike Goldberg, who has, by all accounts, never watched a lick of wrestling in his life. So of COURSE it would make perfect sense to throw him into the fire of being RAW's lead announcer, on live TV every week, without even a basic understanding of product he is commentating on. Oy. You see what I mean by this all being way-too-retarded-sounding to be taken seriously?
    That changed late last week when the UFC underground began rumbling about just how close Goldberg was to accepting a huge money deal from WWE. Once that got out, you had to believe the rest of it... apparently, Goldberg's absence from a UFC PPV over the weekend only amplified the rumors (although that was already an excused/planned absence that had nothing to do with his WWE negotiations).
    But the latest twist: Goldberg has apparently changed his mind, and is now looking to sign a new deal with UFC (one that would also allow him to continue doing other "legitimate" sports announcing outside of UFC, something that would be impossible if he signed a WWE contract). That leaves WWE, whether they like it or not, with Good Ol' JR... unless they're really crazy enough to attempt a Lawler/Coach 2-man booth. Which I gotta hope they aren't.
    In reality, this isn't THAT huge a deal... announcing is, at its best, something you don't notice; it only really stands out when it's awful. Otherwise, it's just part of the background chatter of a show. As much as Jim Ross is like a security blanket for fans, I think we'd get over his replacement pretty quickly. Assuming said replacement was even halfway competent, anyway, and that the rest of the product (the stuff we really pay attention to) was entertaining enough.
    This is in direct opposition to how, when JR stepped down from his duties in talent relations, his replacement was eventually revealed to be a sycophantic lapdog who has alienated many workers, reduced morale, and made decisions that have had a direct impact on the quality of the product we see on TV every week. But I digress.... this is about JR The Announcers, not JR The Guy Who Could Express His Own Opinions But In A Diplomatic Fashion So That He Wouldn't Just Get Sacked Everytime Like Paul Heyman.
    So: I think we'd all get over JR going away... but to me, that isn't the defining aspect of this story. I think the mere fact that this is a story is just further proof of how completely ass-hatted WWE is these days, and how misaligned their priorities are.
    In a company where there are about eight billion things wrong that need to be fixed, Jim Ross' ugly mug being on TV every week ranks somewhere in the low 7 billions. And christ: the least-physically-presentable sports announcer of all times is the only one with an entire videogame franchise named after him, so PLEASE explain to me why it matters if JR isn't "TV Pretty" when he's demonstrably the best at his job in the entire world at the present time. C'mon WWE, I'm begging you: explain it to me.
    It's almost like WWE realizes that there are some things that would be, like, REALLY HARD to fix. So instead of addressing those matters, somebody realized: "Hey, let's pick on JR. We can replace him, and it'll be EASY." It's a truly baffling case of misplaced priorities that this is what WWE's wasting its time on instead of, oh I don't know, developing and calling up the right talents and then having a creative team that can give them something interesting to do every week.
    Makes my brain hurt just thinking about it.
    Anyway, the rumors got the point where JR even addressed them in his WWE.com column over the weekend. He basically admitted "where there's smoke, there's fire," but also promised to be at RAW this week doing what he does best. Here's hoping that with Mike Goldberg removed from the equation, there's many more weeks of the same to come.
  • And speaking of RAW tonight, we'll close with a bit of a preview...
    With Homecoming in the past, and RAW next in line for a PPV (with Taboo Tuesday), the brand needs to get things cooking again.
    On the top line, it looks like we can probably pencil in a Cena vs. Angle vs. Michaels three-way deal for the WWE Title. Either that, or a deal where the fans will get to vote on which of Angle or Michaels gets the shot; last year, you'll recall Michaels won just such a vote. Maybe if we keep raising a stink (and keep hearing those deliciously-vindicating "Cena Sucks" chants), they'll give us an option to vote Cena out of the match entirely? That'd be nice.... this is probably the #1 thing we need addressed on RAW tonight, since it's only 3 weeks till the PPV, and we need to start knowing what it is we'll be voting on.
    On the second line: Triple H vs. Ric Flair is on. I'm sure that'll be a PPV match, probably with a vote-for-able stipulation, or something. More important than that, though: tonight, the main priority is gonna be having HHH deliver a compelling reason for doing what he did to Flair. I hope for a taut, logical explanation... but why do I fear a 15 minute bludgeoning promo that could have just as easily been accomplished in 5, instead?
    Something that's a total wild card: whether or not there's any reason to expect further RAW vs. SD! storytelling. On the one hand, I said last week it had the feel of a one-off gimmick finish to cover up the fact that WWE must have known that Bischoff/Cena was a shitty climax to the Homecoming show. On the other hand, the next night at SD! tapings, the creative direction seemed to change and they fed Teddy Long a promo in which he challenged RAW to come to the No Mercy PPV.
    But then on a third hand: RAW didn't invade No Mercy, and the issue now seems like it could die a quiet death after not being addressed at all in the past week. Still: this is WWE we're talking about, and planning ahead and executing well-paced, logical storylines are not their strengths. We could still be headed for a Team Teddy vs. Team Bischoff Survivor Series deal, and if so, I guess that could be something we start hearing about tonight.
    Also tonight: WWE is hyping that the central story of the night will be Vince McMahon showing up to fire somebody. This is in response to Steve Austin's Stunner Assault on the entire McMahon family last week. Again, that thing I said about logical and compelling storytelling comes into play, because the only person Vince should want to fire after that is Austin, since nobody else wronged him. But instead, many are thinking that the plan was to fire Jim Ross (because he's Stone Cold's buddy), a plan that may now have to be thrown out (or at least changed around a bit). I know last week, I had nightmare visions of Vince trying to get his wife Linda "fired" in storylines for some ungodly reason...
    In short, WWE is promising that somebody will get fired tonight, and I'm promising you that it will be lame, and will quite probably not make a lick of sense. Oy.
    Other than that, things seem to be pretty wide open for WWE to do whatever they want to heading into Taboo Tuesday... nobody has any real pressing issues. Edge will need something fresh to do (and a returning Kane might be just the guy to supply him with some excitement now that most fans will have forgotten that the two already feuded for 3 months earlier this year)... Trish Stratus/Diva Search Ashley vs. Victoria and Team Bimbo has yet to distill down to just the Trish vs. Victoria feud that I'd like to see; and I guess we have to expect more of the same so that fans can vote on putting all the girls together in a Pudding Bowl Lingerie Match at the PPV, or something... the tag division continues to be a mess... Big Show and Shelton Benjamin continue to be criminally misused (and depending on how things go with Flair/HHH, Carlito might soon be on that list)... and try as you might, you'll be unable to escape Chris F. Masters.
    We'll see what WWE serves up tonight as they gear up for Taboo Tuesday. And dammit: wrestling's gonna lose out to baseball again tonight. But there's nobody bailing me out of recapping duties tonight; my #1 standby has 8am classes on Tuesdays and assures me that sleep is more important than recapping a crappy wrestling show. Fricking 8am classes... shouldn't fifth-year seniors have enough scheduling clout to not have to deal with that shit? I know I didn't have to be up before 11 starting with my junior year...
    Anyway, I guess maybe that's my pre-excuse in case tomorrow's RAW Recap is lacking in any way. Unless the baseball game is exceptionally quick (or exceptionally lop-sided), I'll probably only have time to sneak in a pretty-FF-heavy watching of RAW before I need to get to bed my own self. Which might leave me without the usual attention to detail that I need to flesh out The Finest Recap In All The Land tomorrow afternoon.
    Well, it'll still be the finest recap in all the land, actually... I'll promise you that. It just won't be by as wide a margin as usual. Sound OK? Good. I'll see you then, kids..... 

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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