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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
SD! Thoughts/Rating, TNA, Batista,
Midgets, WM22, and Lots More! 
October 17, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

So: Tropical Storm Wilma, eh?
  
We've actually made it up to "W" with a storm that supposedly gonna take a potshot at the Yucatan by this weekend, then strengthen in the Gulf for a few days, and pick someplace from Texas to Florida where she wants to ruin Halloween Weekend, likely at full Hurricane Strength. Good times... good times.

 
A little Did You Know? (tm, ESPN)... did you know that we are now officially out of Hurricane Names for 2005? They only go up to "W," I think because when the Hurricane Agency invented the current naming scheme, "W" was one more than the most number of named storms ever in recorded meteorological history. Which also means we've broken a record. If there's another named storm (and there's plenty of time for one), they will start naming them with Greek Letters and the year. E.g.: "Hurricane Alpha-2005," "Hurricane Beta-2005," and so on....

I do not know why I know this morsel of useless trivia, but I do. I probably learned it at the same time I found out that there could, every six years, be a "Hurricane Richard," because that name is on one of the annual lists. [There are only six sets of names, rotated annually, and names are only removed/changed in case of a particularly damaging storm. Needless to say, I'm betting when 2011 rolls around, there will be a different "K" name on that list.]

So there: now you have something to wow your co-workers or friends with. Or a way to win a bar bet, if you can find somebody who is 100% positive that Hurricane Xerxes will strike one of these years. But nope: only up to "W." 

OO, blazing the Infotainment Trail since 1998! Here's some more of the same, just more focused on the wrestling:

  • Gotta do the New Monday Tradition of starting off by covering the Weekend That Was in wrestling... SmackDown! goes first, since it aired on Friday before being viewed on Sunday.
     
    And the show was.... interesting, I guess. A batch of new faces, and even more old faces behaving in new ways (albeit often for sensible enough reasons). Not a show where you're playing along at home, knowing what's coming next with total certainty... which is a step in the right direction for a brand that may never quite cross the line into Total Suck, but which has been spending a whole lot of time flirting with Utter Boredom lately.
     
    The big story of the night was obviously Eddie Guerrero, Randy Orton, and Batista. Orton wanted to challenge Batista as the new #1 contender. Eddie wanted one more shot of his own. Orton mocked Eddie for being a puss who didn't use a steal chair and cheat his way to victory when he had a chance at the PPV (you see, SD! managed to keep Eddie a total babyface for the No Mercy match, which is a good thing, since now they can milk the only interesting storyline they've had in the past couple of months a bit more). Batista decided to come on down and tell the two kids to settle their issue like men: by having a match later on.
     
    I'm not exactly sure where that power came from, but it capped off a good opening segment in which everybody was doing what they do best. Orton was fumbling lines and making sure to say things in the least-natural/least-elegant way possible, but still managing to muster up plenty of face-punch-ability. Eddie was working the crowd like a master, goosing the cheers out of those who may not be 100% convinced Eddie really is on the level. And Batista showed up in his Logical Monster form to sort things out in a simple way.
     
    The main event match with Eddie and Orton? That was not so good. It clunked more than a little bit (I blame the one who is not Eddie), and I thought they could have done a lot more with the finish. A cheap, lazy intentional DQ right in front of the ref by Bob Orton? We could probably have done something a little more.... more. And still had it lead to a 2-on-1 against Eddie that requires the save of his amigo, Batista.
     
    Which is a little development that I like a lot. You KNOW the other shoe will drop. You KNOW Eddie is now roping Batista in to the point where even Batista believes Eddie might be a changed man. And it feels OK, because you can sense the FANS believing it, too, (because they want to believe it, because Eddie's so good they are glad to cheer for him). But now that WWE has made it through one PPV title match without Eddie going heel on Batista, you just have no idea when it'll happen. Or how. If they go cheap and lazy with it, it could be anytime, even next week when Eddie and Batista team up against the Ortons, and Eddie's "turn" could be the thing used to establish him getting a rematch against an Angry Batista. But better yet: milk it longer, and have Eddie not spring the trap until he is 100% certain it's time to take the title from Batista. It's even the kind of story where, if you wanted, you could do a title change, and it'd go over really well. A title change like that, and Batista would have plenty of reason to be an Animal Inspired as he went on a title hunt for the guy who tricked him into believing they were friends only to take his title 3 months into the ruse. That'd be TV worth watching...
     
    Anyway, I liked all that and the way it sets the stage for more intrigue and ambiguity in coming weeks.
     
    The second major story of the show (and really the only other thing that could be considered "major") was the US Title situation. Benoit dispatched of Orlando Jordan in what was easily their second-worst TV match ever (because it was like 5 minutes long, and thus, also their second longest in a feud where brevity has been the soul of wit). I thought it was supposed to be OJ's last match on SD!, but I read that OJ carefully said he'd only quit if he tapped out to the Crossface (instead, he tapped out to the Sharpshooter). So maybe Jordan's not done being humiliated by Benoit? Goddammit.... just go form a fulltime tag team with JBL, and let's kill two birds with one stone, here. I know it's been a year since I started the gag, but having JBL call him "Faarooq Jr." would sure as hell crack me up. 
     
    And then you could have them win the tag team titles. And then you could have the real Faarooq come back, adopt Heidenreich as his partner, and call themselves The APA 2005, who will take the tag gold and bogart it for about 3 months longer than they have any business doing! [As always, I'm proud to put so many fricking good ideas into my columns, but it's when I fire off an intentional stinker like this that I tremble in terror that those reading up at Titan Tower will suddenly think I hit the jackpot. D'oh.]
     
    While Benoit was demonstrating his bad-assery, Booker T complained about wanting a 1-on-1 title shot at Benoit. Well, Booker stood around and nodded alot, and his wife Sharmell complained. This led to Teddy Long booking a four-way #1 Contender's match (with Christian, JBL, and Rey Mysterio). Booker won, by pinning Rey, but only thanks to help from his wife. Booker, of course, was unaware of the interference, and thought he won fair and square.... until he was confronted backstage about the issue by Benoit. Booker was stuck in the middle as Benoit accused his wife of wrong-doing, and his wife denied it. What's a man to do in that situation? Booker decided to side with his wife, so he'll at the very least be a tweener heading into that title match next week. [And what's a SMART man to do in that situation? Just watch a fucking replay and find out for yourself what happened. But what's that sound? Oh, that was just common sense and continuity storming out of the room....]
     
    Everything else on the show were little throw-away bits that might lead somewhere or might not....
     
    In an attempt to prove SD! does have a tag team division, all four current teams had an 8-man match. Instead of using this to establish Regal/Burchill as world-beaters, it was mostly played for comedy and shots of Melina and Spaz's asses. And, for some reason, to put the Mexicools over as the winners of the match (as babyfaces, to boot). And then, apropos of nothing, the Mexicools were attacked by a fifth tag team: the debuting Toland Brothers. Who are not really brothers, but just use the same Hair Products For Douches and enjoy sticking the same things in their butts, so they're kind of similar. Wouldn't have it any other way for two more of Johnny Ace's Gay-Porno Ready Developmental MuscleHeads Designed to Placate Vince McMahon More Than It Is Designed to Provide Fans With The Best Possible Talent.
     
    So: MNM get embarrassed and beaten constantly by Animal and Heidenreich, instead of quickly regaining their titles as they should have at the end of a brief nostalgia run? Then Regal/Burchill come in with a ton of promise, but get exactly one ignominious match against Animal and Heidenreich, instead of being developed as legit challengers? And now we're bringing in the Tolands as the next bad guys to take on a team that America collectively stopped caring about 3 months ago? I'm not saying it'll make for good TV, but at least we'll get to see where Johnny Ace's loyalties lie: to pulling strings for his brother, or to pulling strings for two of his Hand-Picked Developmental Call-Ups? Oh, the drama!
     
    Also debuting: The Boogeyman, who was threatened over the summer, but held back because of injuries sustained during dark matches. Well, he's healthy again, and preparing to Suck Out Loud... at least WWE had the good sense to tweak the gimmick. Now, they are retroactively pretending the Boogeyman vignettes over the summer were for a UPN TV Show that got scrapped because of unpleasantness on the set. With the implication being that it's unpleasantness caused by the actor playing the Boogeyman taking his role too seriously. And now, because UPN has the guy under contract, the Network things he might fit in on SD!... fair 'nuff. But WWE: the second this stops being an attempt at comedy, the second this is anything other than introducing a character to be laughed at for a bit during Halloween Season, and then sacrificed to the Undertaker in a brief feud, and then never seen again, that is the second when I'll be here tearing you a new one. Till then, though: a believable enough slant on a totally retarded gimmick.
     
    Oh, and I think the only thing I missed was Bobby Lashley getting a squash win over Nunzio. Which was fine. Lashley is still unpolished, and likely unready to talk, so deals like this where his talking is done in the ring are best. As a bonus: next week, Lashley can beat Big Vito in a match, and showcase another side of his talents against a fellow Big Man. Then the week after, Lashley can beat both Nunzio and Vito in a handicap match to finish off that mini-arc. And he can do it all without having to say a word, since it all flows simply and logically from week to week.
     
    All in all, an intriguing enough show, just from the perspective of seeing a few debuts, watching Eddie manage to continue being a babyface, seeing the Mexicools get the rub over 3 other teams for some reason, and all that stuff... not exactly a 2 hour thrill ride that'll change TV on Friday nights, as Carson Palmer would no doubt like it to, but for a Sunday afternoon diversion where I could still flip back to baseball during Randy Orton chinlocks and other boring parts, it was more than tolerable. My ramblings are insufficient for understanding the show if you missed it, so check out the Hosehead's SD! Precap. [Why a "precap"? Because OO is proud to be the only place on the web to be publishing SD!'s recap on Friday afternoons! We're so naughty!]
     
  • Saturday night's airing of "Impact" was viewed during the same Sunday Afternoon of Sloth. And for the third week running, I'm not sure if these are the kinds of shows that are going to make any new fans for TNA.... they will more than placate the existing ones, they will give me something to do to fill up my time, but for the most part, the "sizzle factor" is roughly the exact same as it was when Impact was on FSN.
     
    There's no necessity, no "must see" vibe. Just as it was on FSN, the show seems to be serving up a watered down version of its vaunted in-ring product while supplying little in the way of truly compelling "entertainment" to balance it out. You're left with a show that makes you (well, makes ME) feel like you could skip a week and not miss anything significant. Granted, WWE's at the point where THEIR shows feel the same way to me.... but they started from a different place: they once DID have that Must See Sizzle, and as a result, it's still hard-wired into a lot of fans (myself included) that "Monday Night is Wrestling Night." Until TNA starts delivering something that is demonstrably different from what appeared in that timeslot under the "Velocity" label, they will not be "Destination TV" for most casual wrestling fans. Talented but relatively-unknown wrestlers deficient in the character/personality category having matches too short to ever be all that good is gonna go over just about exactly the same whether its presented by WWE or by TNA in that timeslot.
     
    One area where this week's Impact did seem a bit different, a bit more with-it, was in a Funeral Skit where the heels of TNA got together to mourn the loss of the Dudley Boyz. It was heavily produced, and thus, lots different from the usual backstage storyline stuff they attempt... and best of all, it was a "hit" on at least three fronts. (1) It was just plain funny, at least in spots. (2) It was also very heelish in an inspired way that seemed fresh for Jeff Jarrett and his usual one-note song. And (3) it touched on the story of TNA's talents coming together to fight off WWE interlopers who are just here to cash in on the success that others fought for (which is something that can always be expanded into TNA's first Actually Good Big Time Storyline That Would Rivet Almost Any Wrestling Fan, if they wanted to go full-speed-ahead with it). For the sake of (3) to work, I'll also ignore Gail Kim sitting right there are they were talking about not wanting outsiders coming to TNA. But I'm only doing that mostly because she's hot.
     
    Anyway, segments like this is where guys establish characters and connect with an audience in a way that will make them care about future stories and matches. Hell, a few more of these, and I might finally be able to remember which AMW is which, or decide it's worth knowing the first names of the Naturals. Baby steps...
     
    Other than that: mostly the same things that made TNA "watchable-but-underwhelming" in it's first two weeks. A Monty Brown squash? No sale here, but I've said my piece about Monty enough times that I know you know it. As a bonus this week? Monty's segment was extended to include a run-in by Lance Hoyt, who is actually HIGHER in the "I Have No Fucking Idea Why TNA Fans Decided They Like This Guy" Rankings than Monty. At least back in the "Groupthink/Grassroots" Era of ECW, fans usually only took a shine to one sucky wrestler at a time (911, anyone?) and also pretty much knew that they only reason they were cheering is because they were kinda in on the joke of Paul E. tricking them into cheering for a shitty wrestler.... it's hard to explain, but it's the exact phenomenon that does NOT seem to be happening in TNA fans' decision as to which wrestlers to adopt on a kitsch level.
     
    You also had a repeat of Week One, as Sabu and Rhino had a match that seemed like it might be heading to a cool place... but since we needed time for squash matches and Larry Zbyszko running his yapper, before Sabu/Rhino could get there, it was time to hit the finish and do the requisite four way brawl with Abyss and Jeff Hardy showing up to preview their PPV match. TNA's only in week three, it's been proven that one of their biggest problems is finding enough time to really put their best foot forward, and they're already in repeats? Cuz I swear I saw this exact match once already...
     
    The other two matches were X Division matches, and obviously were well-worked. It's just a question of making the matches matter. Because an X Division Squash is still a squash, and if there's no sense of drama as to the outcome, am I still supposed to care the same? Matt Bentley was never in any danger of losing in his match (although the post-match was a decent enough teaser for the PPV Ultimate X), and the same exact thing can be said for Chris Daniels during 13 minutes of his 15 minute Gauntlet Match. And then, I gotta admit, when AJ Styles made himself the third man in that match, I wasn't too pleased. It instantly ensured a non-finish, and seemed a pretty WWE Style thing to do. Sort of a "we should have a surprising final guy in this match, but we're too lazy to think of something really cool, so let's just use the surprise that so obvious that nobody would really suspect it." That's what it felt like to me, anyway.
     
    And unlike the Bentley match's post-match antics, the Daniels/Styles stuff didn't even really do a whole lot to add to their PPV match. AJ may be god's gift to workrate, but on the mic, he really doesn't do much but spew tired cliches in a vaguely-uncomfortable fashion. So ending the show with him on the mic awkwardly making cliched taunts towards Daniels and having Daniels have to oversell them like he's upset? Not exactly a big finish. 
     
    Tis one man's opinion. I think the only big win of the night was the skit, and how it might help add another layer to the Jarrett/Nash match, since they equated Nash with the Dudleys, as a WWE Interloper, which COULD get interesting if TNA lets it... for a more detailed account of the show from a more ardent TNA fan, check out Jason Longshore's Impact Recap. [Note: if you click and get a dead link, just check back later. I had a schedule aberration that allowed me to get OO published early Monday morning, and didn't alert Jason to the change, so he'll be getting me the recap later in the day.]
     
  • The prelim rating for Friday's SD! is a 2.4. That's the lowest they've scored since moving to Fridays, and so they better hope that there isn't another drop off between the prelim number and the final one... otherwise, we really will be looking at SD!'s numbers dipping down past the mark I guessed they would. I thought the move to Friday would result in no more than a half-point loss and SD! holding steady in the mid-2s as one of UPN's best rated shows. 
     
    That might not be the case. But we'll wait on the final number, I guess, before predicting doom and gloom... still, if anything, I would have thought a slight ratings bump would come on a post-PPV show. Doesn't look that way, though...
     
  • No number for Impact, yet. I'll have it Wednesday, I'm sure. TNA's on a streak of two straight 0.8s, which is enough to make everybody pretty happy... after debuting at that mark, there was the obvious fear that things would drop off in the second week after the initial buzz wore off. That didn't happen, and making it three weeks in a row would mean TNA's got an audience and ain't about to lose it after the honeymoon is over.
     
  • Nothing much new on the WWE Announcer Drama over the weekend; stuff I said on Friday pretty much still holds up as the status quo. We still just don't know how much of this is real, what of it is a smokescreen or "worked shoot," and what of it started out as real but has (for one reason or another) because a storyline. You can just go back to Friday to get my full breakdown of stuff and how WWE.com's treatment of the story is alone enough to make one's head explode.
     
    And again: my stance is that while WWE might be patting themselves on the back for creating a controversy and getting people talking, they are wrong to do so. There are different kinds of controversies: the kinds that people become passionate about and want to see closure, and the kinds where people just shake their heads at the stupidity of mankind and walk away to let somebody else sort it out. This? Is one of the latter. A bunch of angry e-mails from the small subset of wrestling fans who really DO fit the "internet jackoff" mold doesn't a compelling storyline make; the rest of us level headed fans are out here realizing that a storyline about announcers isn't exactly the most compelling, and that WWE would try to make something out of this (to even think there was a justifiable reason to make the change that jumpstarted all this) goes to show how misplaced the company's priorities are. 
     
    I mention the topic today mostly just to respond to a boatload of you who mailed in over the weekend suggesting that I was missing an "obvious" choice for somebody to replace Jim Ross and lend a bit of gravitas to the RAW announce team... you suggested Joey Styles.
     
    Well, I'd be more than happy to see that happen. But I didn't exactly "forget" Joey in my comments last Friday; I more intentionally left him out. Yes, he's under a WWE contract, but unless something has changed on Joey's (often publicly-stated) side of things, and unless Vince has decided to make one of his rare pride-swallowings and send an ice machine down to hell, there's just too much baggage for me to blithely suggest that Joey Styles could be the new signature voice of WWE (I guess MAYBE this could work if it's just a part-time deal, but that'd be about the furthest I would go). I assumed most of you would be thinking along the same lines, but enough of you mailed in that I guess I should have mentioned him, afterall.... even if only to disqualify him from my mental list of plausible candidates.
     
    So: that leaves us likely with King and Coach tonight, working a two-man booth. And like I said Friday: that leaves it mostly up to Coach to try not to make RAW's commentary a distracting trainwreck. Lawler can't be expected to change his tune at this point, but hopefully Coach has some inner reserve of credibility and knowledge that will allow him to earn our trust as WWE's Top Story Explainer. I have my doubts, as we've never seen an ounce of that in the past, but I'm also more than willing to be proven wrong....
     
    Still: with a 40% likelihood of our black play-by-play man endorsing a white supremacist at some point during Kerwin White's next appearance, and with a track record of waiting till 2 minutes after a wrestler starts focusing on an injured body part to suggest "Hey, they should maybe start focusing on that injured body part," you'll have to pardon me if Coach doesn't have me holding my breath.
     
  • Batista gave another VERY interesting interview to the crew at the London Sun. You remember he did one earlier this year, where he just kicked back, said what was on his mind, and apparently ruffled a few feathers in the process...
     
    Nothing much changed in the second go-'round.
     
    In the interview, Batista addresses and explains the trouble he got into last time. He also says a whole bunch of things you'll no doubt agree with (like how he thinks it's criminal how WWE is misusing Christian; and how he knows that his feud with JBL sucked and he's happy to be working with other people now)... but there's a few things he says that some of you might take umbrage at (how Muhammad Hassan failed because of the man protraying the character, instead of because of network circumstances and WWE's own missteps with the gimmick, for instance).
     
    He also craps on TNA. Which I figure will anger many of you. But which might ring true with some others of you, if you're drinking MY Kool-Aid instead of the Kool-Aid served in other corners are the interweb.
     
    And for the conspiracy theorists: he goes on at length about wanting to feud with Brock Lesnar, and how the two would work so well together. This after the road was apparently cleared for Brock and WWE to settle their lawsuit out of court (and after Brock went to Japan and won the IWGP Title in his first match last weekend, where he reportedly looked visibly rusty, which one might view as WWE sending him on assignment to get the kinks worked out before ROH'ing New Japan by signing their champion to a deal).
     
    Anyway, you can check out the entire interview right here. Tis Rick-endorsed gOOdness.
     
  • OK, when I got this news over the weekend, I literally did not believe it at first. Or at second. Or at third. I think I had to see it in my in-box about 8-9 times before I finally decided "What the fuck?" and clicked one of the supplied links to WWE.com.
     
    You see, SmackDown! is creating a new division. They are calling it the "Junior Division," but it's basically a Midget Division. Open to all wrestlers under 5-foot tall.
     
    I am not making this up. Even if it were April 1, I don't know if I COULD make this up. And I make up some pretty awesome shit come April 1....
     
    I actually have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it would be very true that the Cruisers already get dicked on TV time and exposure, and bringing in midgets will only compound that problem if they get pushed ahead of the cruisers.
     
    But on the other hand, I am in total agreement with my fellow Southwest Ohio Native, Al Snow, when he says that everything is better with midgets. Or "Small People = Big Ratings." I don't know why, but I've always gotten a kick out of midgets.... and plus, WWE will be bringing in the MexiMidgets, who really can do some amazing things in the ring. If you missed them during their mid-90s WWF cameo, you'll be in for a mild shock.
     
    But again, a thought occurs: when WWE was scraping bottom and out of ideas in 1995 and 1996, they turned to MexiMidgets to fill up time. And while they were fun, they also had absolutely nothing to do with getting to the core of the problem, and when WWE turned it around in 1997 and 1998, the MexiMidgets were nowhere to be seen and had nothing to do with it.
     
    History repeating itself? Or more accurately: WWE's misplaced priorities repeating themselves? Mayhap so. I think maybe my mixed feelings coalesce this way: seeing the MexiMidgets might be fun, but they aren't a reason to tune in to SD!, and represent WWE worrying about Problem #287862 on their lengthy list of issues to address, since they are too scared or too ill-equipped to go after the Big Problems.
     
  • WrestleMania 22 tickets went on sale this weekend, and WWE announced a "2 minute sell-out" of the Rosemont Horizon (or whatever they call it now). Which is impressive, as always, but not exactly unexpected.... WWE does a great job with promoting the on-sale of WM as a big deal, and has had this type of success three years running, now. Plus: Chicago's venue is significantly smaller than the Staples Center or MSG were, so there were fewer tickets hitting the open market.
     
    For anyone wanting tickets, don't worry: there will be a healthy secondary market, and it wouldn't surprise me if you were able to get tickets near face-value (maybe not great seats) if you hold off till next February to start shopping. WWE might still be able to create one of these fast sell-outs, but from anecdotal evidence from last year, there will be lots of tickets available (either from people who overbought or had changes of plans or from ticket brokers) unless WWE suddenly gets super-hot again.
     
  • Lastly today is the standard bidness of looking ahead to tonight's RAW. And I gotta tell you, I'm not exactly looking ahead with my highest-ever level of anticipation.
     
    Heading into the show, we know to expect three things/segments. And none of them have anything to do with a compelling wrestling match-up.
     
    Topping the list (in "WWE Think," anyway; whereas in "Rick Think," I'd prefer it to be a brief afterthought and little more) is McMahon Family Excitement. WWE is promising that the entire McMahon Family will be onhand tonight to celebrate their togetherness and blah blah blah.... so basically: Vince will boastfully say things to bury JR, Stephanie will whine and moan and make sure we all get to see her boobs, and Linda will fail to incite a single fan response. The obvious, anvilicious twist? Shane McMahon. He was absent last week, and is the only McMahon to get a Babyface Gene. Too bad I'm having a hard time envisioning myself caring about a heel family of non-wrestlers whose only recent accomplishment is punking out another non-wrestler... whether Shane stays babyface and confronts his family or whether he OMG~! SWERVES~! us by turning heel, too, I just really couldn't care any less. It accomplishes nothing tonight, it sets up nothing (that I can figure out, anyway) for the future. And yet, I'm sure the formats for tonight have a good 20 minutes set aside for this very drama. Joy.
     
    Next: Kane will return. He's got some 'splaining to do. Where's he been? Why's he been there? And what's he back for? All issues that I hope have good, well-thought-out answers by the Writer Monkeys. But "hope" and "expect" are two entirely different verbs, and I'd probably bet on something more like "WWE replaying that god-awful Ambulance Attack crap from a few months ago, instead of sweeping it under the rug, and having Kane come back to feud with Edge. Again." We'll see, though. Kane's certainly been "re-invented" enough times that you can't totally rule out that they might have something a bit grander in mind for his return tonight.
     
    And finally, we also know that Mick Foley will be the guest in Carlito's Cabana. More than likely, this cements Mick as a RAW Personality (since that was still up in the air as recently as two weeks ago, when a last second decision was made to keep Mick off the episode of SD! that featured Roddy Piper vs. the Ortons)... which means we need something RAW-Centric for him to do. The doors are wide open, since Mick will be wrestling periodically as part of his new WWE contract. But I might take a stab in the dark and say that you maybe don't shoot your wad just yet, and try to keep up the illusion of Mick just being around in some non-wrestling (but official) capacity. Cuz Mick's one of the lucky few who doesn't need to be wrestling to be entertaining, and you can milk that for a while to make his eventual matches all the more special as a result.
     
    Or you can have Rob Conway come out, do his Legend Killer shtick, and completely waste any value that Mick has. Showing ass to Dusty F. Rhodes and then coming back to beat Doink the Clown is NOT the resume of a wrestling capable of convincing the fans to care about him interrupting a Mick Foley promo. Unless Conway just goes back to showing ass again tonight, anyway, and after getting his ass kicked by Foley goes back to not talking about Legend Killing because it was just a little 3 week mini-arc devised to give us a bit of happy ending fluffery.... otherwise, anything else with Conway that feels more like the start of something (instead of like the end of it) will annoy me. Yes: we want Mick back on TV every week, but no, I can't really say that asking him to try to polish the turd of a Eugene/Conway feud by appearing in Eugene's corner is the way to go. Even if, on a more limited basis, Mick and Eugene skits could be good pointless fun... it's Conway's utter lack of "overness" that provides the weak link in that particular equation.
     
    Beyond those three things: nothing is scheduled. Certainly no matches. But we can fill in a few blanks, maybe, at other storylines that will be address.
     
    First: Kurt Angle is probably now in line to be the #1 Contender to John Cena's WWE Title after pinning him in last week's tag match (and beating him by DQ in a PPV match before that). It's just a matter of making it official. And then of probably coming up with some sort of stipulation for that match that fans can vote on. Should be pretty straight-forward; all the back-story is here already, it's just a matter of Kurt getting the nod from Bischoff. Cena need not even speak this week to get the job done.
     
    Second: HHH spoke at length about why he attacked Ric Flair. As I noted a few times last week, certain notes he struck only make sense if Ric Flair fires back by making the point that HHH is not upset that Flair has fallen into mediocrity... HHH is jealous that Flair continued to excel in HHH's absence. From there, the sparks can fly, and they can set up a PPV match. Somehow, I also suspect they'll be taking the IC Title out of the equation before we get to a Flair/HHH match (even if only because it makes more sense for HHH to cause Flair to lose a title which Flair thinks signifies greatness, but which HHH has called "mediocre" in his insecure attempts to hide his jealousy, rather than to have HHH sudden desire said "mediocre" belt for himself). Just my ideas for what we need to see/hear to make this feud really ring true, be intensely and emotionally driven, all while still leaving the door open for a reconciliation down the road.
     
    Third: all the other would-be #1 contenders from last week need to find stuff to do. It seems fairly obvious that Edge vs. Big Show is, at least for the short term, a going-concern... Carlito would fit into any IC Title scenarios you'd want to build on from my above comments... leaving only Shawn Michaels to spin his wheels with no obvious direction. Perhaps he remains in the WWE Title hunt along with Angle? That'd work for me, and it'd also "make sense" given that Michaels and Angle have not proven superiority over each other yet... even if Angle has proven himself over Cena already, Michaels' resume -- at least vis a vis Kurt -- is good enough to keep him in the mix.
     
    Trish, Ashley, Victoria, Torrie, and Boobies all still have their whole big thing going on. And last week, we got a new wild card in the equation, as Trish's #1 Fan, Mickie James, debuted on RAW. My official stance is that this is a "Misery" story in the making, as Mickie will eventually be revealed to be totally psycho (remember: freaking out and beating the crap out of Victoria one second, smiling/giggling/fawing-over-Trish the next; sudden mood changes are not a good sign, and one of the mood swings will surely end up coming at Trish's expense). Which should at least give us a new dynamic to work with, as well as another ring-capable woman to enjoy. Might make sense to go with Mickie vs. Victoria tonight... have Mickie lose because of Torrie/Boobies... have Mickie find Trish backstage and be all cheerful as she says "Hey, you know, I just lost my first match because it was three-on-one. but it's so totally OK you didn't come out to help me because I know you're busy and stuff." And everytime Mickie says something Trish did to ignore her is "totally OK," we'll start getting the sense that it's not OK if Mickie has such a laundry list of ways she subconsciously thinks Trish has wronged her. Then little verbal slips start happening. Then there might even be a full blown incident. But then Mickie could apologize profusely, and Trish, just to be polite, would have to accept. But then the cycle could repeat until Mickie was a bona fide psycho and scary contender to Trish's title and no longer cared about hiding her anger at her one-time idol. Handled well (as in: by me or an equivalent), this could even become RAW's best on-going drama, regardless of the fact that they are "just girls." The trick will be small doses, portioned out slowly, over time...
     
    And I think that's about all I got on my mental checklist of on-going RAW Issues. The tag division is nowhere to be seen.... Chris F. Masters SHOULD be nowhere to be seen, and at least seems to have been demoted a notch to "regrouping phase" instead of "hanging around with Carlito and the big boys phase".... and about the only other drama I can think of is who'll be at the announce table tonight. Well, other than Coach and King. My personal bet, if I had to wager, would be on "Nobody."
     
    There you go, folks.... my spin on RAW, which hopefully gives you more reasons to be interested in the show than WWE's own (McMahon-heavy) promotion of the show does. And if not, if playoff baseball is still king in your house tonight, well, that's fine, too. Because it gives me my chance to remind you that whether you watch RAW or not, and whether RAW delivers 2 hours worth of the good or not, you can ALWAYS count on the OO RAW Recap to be 20 minutes of just about the most fun you can have in front of a computer. With your pants on, anyway. So you can come on back for that tomorrow...
     
    I shall see you folks then. And a TV Viewing Note: Required Late Night Viewing For Discriminating Audiences just got 30 minutes long tonight. After years of trying and failing to find something to package with The Daily Show (including, for the past year, repeats of the Daily Show, which is as close as they ever got to finding something good to plug into the extra half-hour), Comedy Central tonight debuts The Colbert Report. Which is essentially going to be the Daily Show, but hosted by Stephen Colbert. Awesome. No disrespect intended to Colbert's ability to have his own vision for a TV show, but you know what I mean: there's only so much you can do with smart, topical satire and one 6-minute celebrity interview on every show. And there ain't a damned thing wrong with getting two Daily Shows for the price of one.
     
    My only question: Who got custody of the God Machine in the break-up?
     
    Well, I won't have to wait long to find out, I guess.... make a note of it people: effective immediately, you need to add "Colbert" to your list, alongside Letterman, Conan, and Stewart. And the jury is definitely taking a shine to that Ferguson guy, too, who started out rocky, but now seems like he's worthwhile watching even when he's got crap guests. And that, my friends, is the true litmus test of our Late Night Hosts.
     
    Enough. I'm back at you in 24 with the RAW Recap. Don't you dare miss it! 


  
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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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