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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Big Batista News and Related Fall-out,
Plus Christian, Rock, Ratings, and More! 
November 9, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

One of these days, I'll just learn to keep my stream of consciousness to myself, and not put off-topic rhetorical questions in my columns/recaps. Because it invariably hurts my feelings when I get a deluge of mail responding to those, and no appreciable increase in the number of people telling me how incredibly witty and insightful the rest of the column/recap (which I spent 2 hours or more hand-crafting for Ultimate Entertainment Value) was.
  

Yesterday's case in point: several dozen people writing in to tell me that, yes, "Stiles" (note their preferred spelling) really was a character in "Teen Wolf." And in fact, I'm a total philistine for not knowing that because he's apparently the only character who also crossed over and appeared in "Teen Wolf Too."

How will I ever live down this humiliating

display of my own ignorance?

Simple: it's like I even said in the recap... I remember watching "Family Ties" when I was a little kid, and honest to god, the only Michael J. Fox movie I ever saw back then was "Back to the Future." In fact, I think the only Michael J. Fox things I have ever seen in my entire life are "Family Ties" and the three "Back to the Future" movies. Unless you count about 90 seconds of "Doc Hollywood." And you can probably guess which 90 seconds if you've seen it.

Complicating matters: I think I grew up in a different 80s from everybody else. I swear, anytime I see parts of these "I [heart] the 80s" specials, I end up only remembering/recognizing about 75% of the stuff, and only remembering them fondly or significantly half the time. "Teen Wolf" was just never on my radar; one of many apparently significant pop culture touchstones that I have no knowledge of. The Rick's 80s start with stuff like "Spies Like Us" and "Fletch" and go forward from there. When I got around to going back and watching older stuff that seemed to be Important Viewing from earlier in the decade, it was "Ghostbusters" or "Caddyshack." Don't tell me that I did something wrong by going for those things over "Teen Wolf" when it came to the very start of my career of watching movies with my friends instead of what my parents deemed OK to watch on HBO....

Somehow, I think I did alright.... I'm gonna pawn this one off on Coach watching shitty movies in the 80s, and then making the mistake of attempting to reference them in front of a National Television Audience. My "Teen Wolf" ignorance is something that I'm proud of! Even in elementary school, The Rick had no patience for crap-ass movies!

On with today's rasslin' news: 

  • We start off with a big one. Or at least, one that could end up being pretty big by the time further information is known tonight or tomorrow...
     
    Dave Batista appeared to suffer a serious back/shoulder injury at TV tapings last night in Indianapolis, IN. Without spoiling the events of Friday's SD! telecast, I'll say that reports suggest Batista suffered the injury in the planned final spot of the night, so Friday's show will not be affected. 
     
    But after the official tapings ended, Batista was unable to perform a full-fledged dark match against Randy Orton, as scheduled. After some awkwardness, Orton tossed Batista into the ring, stomped on him for a few minutes, and then was pinned when Batista hit a one-armed spinebuster out of nowhere.
     
    Reports vary as to what the injury is thought to be, and who might have made a diagnosis. Some say Batista went to nearby Methodist Hospital (where, somewhere in the complex, there is a wall with a brick bearing my name, commemorating the birth of the one-day Messiah Of Pro Wrestling; or possibly, my parents just paid 50 bucks extra to the hospital when I decided to grace the world with my presence). Others say WWE's own trainers made an on-site diagnosis, and that they thought it was so serious that plans were already being made to get Batista to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit with Dr. James Andrews.
     
    Obviously, if Dr. Andrews is being consulted, that means that surgery will be required, and we'd be looking at a injury hiatus that would be measured in months, not weeks. Man alive: if I in any way upset the karmic balance on Monday when I wrote about how Batista, despite having a "history of injuries," hadn't missed even one show in two years, then I'm deeply sorry...
     
    Based on what was seen by the live audience and what shreds of information are available from backstage, discussion seems to center on the latissimus dorsi muscle (or "the lat," if you're part of that exclusive fraternity of guys who likes watching other men get oiled up and prance around onstage in nothing but banana hammocks), which is in the upper back, and helps control the shoulder as well.
     
    Now, my only experience/memory of a sports injury involving this muscle was when Brewers' pitcher Ben Sheets had a partial tear of it, and as I recall (since I owned him on my fantasy team), the prognosis was that he only needed 2-4 weeks of rehab, and he'd be fine. I think at this point, if this ended up being Batista's prognosis, everybody involved would breathe a heavy sigh of relief.
     
    But as it is, there seems to be a Bracing For The Worst mentality. A full tear of the muscle, requiring surgery at the hands of Dr. Andrews would quite probably sideline Batista through WrestleMania. This would not only be unfortunate for Batista, who was finally starting to gain momentum again as champ after a 3 month program with JBL left him struggling to regain the attention of fans.... it'd also be a huge blow to SmackDown!, which is already widely viewed as the less of WWE's two rosters and needs every shred of star power it can get.
     
    If Batista is out for months, instead of weeks, it'll also raise the issue of what to do with the World Title. By all accounts, the "match" Batista had with Orton after last night's tapings would be unacceptable for broadcast purposes, so it might not even be an option to hold off on surgery until Batista can lose the title in the ring, if he's simply not capable of performing a credible-looking match. You could be looking at a deal where SD! must vacate its title.
     
    Batista was also scheduled to be the captain of "Team SD!" at the Survivor Series, a plan that must now be changed (even a "Best Case" 2-4 weeks scenario would leave Batista unable to compete effectively and risk-free at Survivor Series). With tapings suggesting that Orton/Taker and Benoit/Booker would be SD!'s two primary Survivor Series singles matches, they'd either need to shuffle things up or find some magical new top level player to fill Batista's spot. I could say more about the make-up of Team SD!, but unfortunately, it'd count as Spoiler Information at this point, so I'll save it for later.

    Moving past Survivor Series, the opportunity might exist to upgrade the Road To Armageddon to include a World Title Tournament, or something along those lines. The problem that arises is that SD! really only has three viable potential champions at this point.... and presently, they are all babyfaces: Eddie, Benoit, and Undertaker. Now, Eddie's involvement in the World Title picture seemed to be building up to a monstrous heel turn; but I don't see how you can do that heel turn without him turning heel on Batista. It looses all impact if he just randomly goes heel again against somebody else. I'd love for the Eddie/Batista story to be put on hold, and have the trigger pulled once Batista is back (depending on how you play things, you could even have this be a swerve months down the line where instead of Eddie turning on Batista, Batista is the one who turns against his "amigo" for winning the World Title that Batista felt he should never have lost, if not for the fact that Eddie was not there to help him on the night he got injured). That, of course, means that Eddie must stay a babyface for now.
     
    Now, JBL and Orton, you might argue, are the best heel contenders: but that's all they are... challengers, opposition, but neither one of them would equal anything other than ratings suicide if asked to carry the brand. JBL's used up, and Orton's still not to the place where he needs to be to inspire people to pay to see him lose. You could use them in a tourney, though; Ken Kennedy and Booker are obviously the other heels you use to get four heels involved; and then Rey is the fourth babyface. But once you stir it all up and do a tourney or an elimination match or whatever you're gonna do with them, it still comes down to only Eddie, Benoit, or Taker having what it takes to carry that strap convincingly.
     
    Note: I honestly do believe that this HAS to mark the end of any situation in which WWE would let Chris Benoit walk away from the company... if WWE is without Batista till mid-2006, SD! needs Benoit, and needs him badly. Methinks Benoit's negotiating position just got a lot better, and methinks that somebody higher-up will take this out of Johnny Ace's bumbling hands and make sure that the right thing is done for the company. Without Benoit and without Batista and with Undertaker only working about half the year, SD! would realistically be down to about one-and-a-half compelling main eventers. Two-and-a-half if they decide to capitalize on Rey's growing popularity. Which just ain't gonna cut the mustard.
     
    Another solution that I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest: get on the phone with Brock Lesnar. I know there's asshatted stubbornness on Brock's side here, too... but WWE cannot afford, at this delicate time, to brazenly think that they can skate by on shoving JBL or Randy Orton down our throats. Not when there is an option of a guy who would instantly come in and command the respect of the audience. There has to be some reasonable middle ground where the two parties can meet; Brock himself should also view this as an opportunity to re-establish himself with fans in a situation where WWE could not afford to have him "pay dues" upon his return. Coming back now is as much a best case scenario for him as it is a virtual necessity for WWE. 
     
    The only remaining alternative would be to enact some kind of roster shuffle... Edge as a fulltime heel on SD! might be a temporary band-aid, if only he could be counted on to be at full health. Kurt Angle or Big Show would be the other likely candidates to be able to come over and more permanently fill a vital headliner spot.
     
    This'll be an intriguing situation to keep an eye on. There's a couple different things to focus on, too.... Priority #1 will be just finding out precisely the nature of Batista's injury and how long he'll be sidelined. Priority #2 should be making sure WWE re-signs Chris Benoit to prevent SD! from becoming any more depleted than it already is. Priority #3 will be the status of the World Title, who will hold it, and how. And Priority #4 will be seeing how WWE addresses any potential long-term absence of Batista by either going after Lesnar or by shuffling someone over from RAW. 
     
    Hopefully we'll have more concrete information and a better idea how WWE will handle the situation when next we speak on Friday... at the very least, information on Priority #1 should be available tonight or tomorrow. And it'll help us re-prioritize the other priorities.
     
  • Another fairly huge news item, one also shrouded in some mystery.... except: not really *that* much mystery.
     
    TNA has announced its "biggest acquisition yet," and promises that he'll debut on Sunday's PPV. All signs point to this being Jay "Christian" Reso, who may or may not be allowed to call himself "Christian" when he debuts for the company.
     
    Now, nobody is doubting Christian's value or arguing that he was criminally and incompetently handled by WWE over the past 10 months... but I have to admit I find it a bit odd that a company who has acquired a ton of multi-time WWF and WCW champions (the likes of Nash, or Sting, or Macho Man Savage) is risking creating unfairly high expectations for Christian's TNA debut by calling him their most important acquisition ever.
     
    Eh, but then I think about it some more, and I guess that among the tiny core of mostly-internet-reading smart fans who make up TNA's fanbase, Christian really *is* bigger and better than Nash or Savage or their ilk. I guess I can get behind this as a way of tempting fans to check out the PPV... but being totally honest: if they got Christian locked in and they don't insert some kind of video package teaser to Saturday night's Impact, they are fricking retarded. They've already telegraphed the "mystery" to the internet, so why not go full-out and whet the appetites of fans, and get them buzzing so much that they'll tell other non-TNA fans on Sunday to check out the PPV? 
     
    Give me Ultimate Control over TNA for one weekend, and what do I do? Simple. You run Impact, as-taped, but at the end of the show, you have a 3-minute video package prepared that acts as a teaser for the top stories/matches on the PPV card. Only catch: instead of that annoying Darth Vader voice, it's a Mystery Voice Over. And instead of that god-awful stilted garbage that makes up most of TNA's video package voice overs, the Mystery Voice Over Guy is almost narrating this in a Conversational, almost First Person, style. "I've sat back and watched Petey Williams earn his shot against X Division Champion AJ Styles. [pause for highlight reel] And tomorrow night, I can't wait to see them put on one hell of a show." Then, "I've sat back and watched Sabu and Abyss put their bodies on the line in brutal match after brutal match. [pause for highlight reel] And tomorrow night, I can't wait to see if either one of them makes it out of Genesis alive." Then, "I've sat back and watched Rhino and the Dudley Boyz come so close to wresting control of TNA and of the NWA Title away from Jeff Jarrett and AMW. [pause for highlight reel] And tomorrow night, I can't wait to see them take their shot at sweet, sweet revenge."
     
    And then finally, we cut to a figure in shadows, and he says, "You know what? I've been sitting back and watching for way too long. [pause for the lights to come up to reveal that our Mystery Narrator was Christian] And tomorrow night, you won't believe what I'm gonna do about it." Hold for a Five Second Pose, and Impact would end on its highest note ever. Something like that would be good for at least a couple thousand extra buys, I bet. And for a company that measures its PPV buys in tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands, that's pretty significant.
     
    Of course, this will never happen. Because TNA's all about the Workrate! And who cares about doing things like actually capturing the fans' imaginations with something dramatic or entertaining or compelling? Right, TNA fans? 
     
    Anyway, point is: it sounds like you're getting Christian on Sunday. Now, whether you're getting Christian doing anything interesting or not, that's another matter tied directly to TNA's creative team's ability to come up with something good. Which, as we all know, is something of a crap shoot.
     
    My guess: TNA will try to keep Christian's debut a "mystery," and will act like they swerve us with a couple of other debuts early in the show. We already know that both Jackie Gayda and Nigel McGinnis are debuting for TNA this weekend... they could show up, and Don West could annoy the piss out of all lifeforms higher up the evolutionary scale than "House Plant," by pretending we've already seen the Shocking Debut of TNA's Acquisition. Hell, they might even have a secret deal with Mr. Gayda, Charlie Haas, to debut and then they could REALLY sell it like TNA stole a big WWE name. And then, of course, when Christian shows up to make some run-in during the main event, TNA would still have succeeded in fooling absolutely no one.
     
    Needless to say, I like my idea better. Assuming TNA actually has something cool planned for Christian to do at the PPV, the prospect of creating a huge buzz surrounding his debut by having him appear on Impact is just too valuable an opportunity to pass up. The debut of Christian is no situation to play coy with your knowledgeable fans who already know what's going on: it's a chance to rope in marginal/casual fans by coming right out and showing them that they'll see something special if they check out your PPV.
     
  • I didn't mention it Monday, but "DOOM" fell to #13 at the box office last weekend, and made less than $2 million. "DOOM" seems destined to make less than $30 million domestically at the box office, the biggest flop of The Rock's movie career.
     
  • Canada's TSN, home of Monday Night RAW for our Canuck Brothers, announced today that they *will* be picking up the live telecasts of ESPN's Monday Night Football starting next fall.
     
    When the new NFL TV deals were announced a while back, and ESPN got the Monday Night Football franchise, this was a topic of much discussion, as TSN picks up much programming from ESPN... but at the time, TSN assuaged wrestling fans, telling them not to worry about losing RAW.
     
    Turns out that, at the very least, Canadian WWE fans will have to wait till after midnight on Mondays to check out RAW for those 17 weeks out of the year... TSN is sure to schedule other replays at more advantageous times, too, possibly in prime time on Tuesday, or something.
     
    Tough break, but it's also something that won't go into effect for 10 months, so I'm having a hard time getting too keyed up about it just now.
     
  • And lastly for today, let's just touch briefly on Monday's RAW, which I thought was a pretty enjoyable two hours. It got slow at a few points (Helms/Rosey, and I also didn't get a whole lot out of the Flair/Conway match and Flair/HHH brawl), but it never got sucky. To me, that's a step in the right direction.
     
    You can get a lot more details about the show, which included Kurt Angle bringing in Daivari as his new Evil Accomplice, and Shelton Benjamin making a non-victorious (but still entertaining) return to Monday nights in a match against Carlito, and a few other bits of gOOdness in yesterday's RAW Recap
     
    And for chrissakes, if you honestly think that an aside comment about "Teen Wolf" is the most interesting thing in the recap, let me know, cuz that means (unbeknownst to me) that I'm doing something VERY wrong with the rest of the recappening.
     
    To close out, I will mention that Monday's RAW did a 3.6 cable rating. This is a rebound of two-tenths from the week before, but is still significantly down from where WWE would like to be, and is closer to ratings scored during their abysmal final month on Spike than it is to the respectable ratings run they had earlier in the year. 
     
    So of course, look for WWE and NBC/Universal to issue press releases trumpeting the fact that RAW is still two of the highest rated hours on cable TV. And ignoring the fact that it was even more-highly-rated just a few months ago when the show didn't, you know, constantly blow for weeks on end. Has RAW had any serious momentum AT ALL since the Draft Lottery? I honestly can't remember more than one good show in a row at any point since July... SD! has actually had better sustained streaks of decent shows (including the one they are on now, which is up to 3 decent weeks in a row).
     
  • That is all. Given the need for an update on the Batista Situation, I'm very likely to see you again on Friday (instead of taking the day off, like the slacker that I am). Be well till then, peoples....


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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