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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
WWE Addresses Drug Abuse... Plus 
Eugene, TNA Scores, Divas, and More   
November 21, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I've got roughly a weeks worth of pithy, pre-ramble-worthy smalltalk stored up... but since I don't want to waste any more time than is strictly necessary to get past the ad box, I'll just share one quick anecdote.
  

Or perhaps some of you caught this your own selves... cuz you might remember last week how I made a "Soothing Lozenge" joke in regards to CNBC host Rita Crosby (after she dedicated a portion of her show to Eddie Guerrero).

And if you remembered that, I can only hope you were sufficiently enraged when, mere 

hours later, Jon Stewart came up with some flimsy excuse to bring up Ms. Crosby. The main joke was supposed to be something about how Bruce Willis made a pretentious ass of himself during an appearance on her show, but Jon was clearly having more fun making off-the-cuff jokes about Rita's painful-to-listen-to voice.

Fricking thief. And it's not the first time. 

Probably won't be the last, either. Great minds, afterall, do think alike. Here's your wrestling:

  • WWE has announced plans to implement a new drug testing policy. Abuse of prescription drugs, recreational drugs, and performance enhancing drugs will all be covered...
     
    There's no point pretending that this isn't the direct result of Eddie Guerrero's death... but even if WWE's motives include a bit of public relations work at a time when the media once again has reason to scrutinize pro wrestling, the simple fact is that this is still a Good Thing.
     
    Look, I've gotten a shitload of e-mail in the last week, suggesting the many ways that WWE needs to change in order to prevent future deaths... and from radically altering WWE's business model to having a 3-month "off-season," not a one of the suggestions struck me as remotely well-thought-out or feasible. [Seriously, an Off Season? You're suggesting that WWE would really flush exactly 25% of its revenue from TV, live events, and PPVs down the toilet, and think you should be taken seriously? At least get creative about it, and suggest something like all wrestlers having a 3 month vacation period during which they do not perform at house shows and only appear on TV, with their "vacations" staggered throughout the year so that WWE always has a viable talent roster for house shows... but don't throw "3 month off-season" at me and expect me to buy it.]
     
    On the other hand, a new WWE Drug Policy -- if strictly adhered to -- may seem underwhelming to many of you who proposed much grander schemes... but it strikes me as a do-able start to addressing the problems that seem to lead to wrestlers dying so young.
     
    Two elements of the proposed policy strike me as particularly promising. (1) Steroids and performance enhancing drugs will be tested for and their use will be punished, and (2) in tandem with the drug testing, WWE is also proposing an increased emphasis on monitoring the cardiovascular health of all contracted performers.
     
    Although so much of the talk surrounding Eddie's death has centered on his use of alcohol and recreational pharmaceuticals, the unspoken fact is that the substances that have the greatest impact on the heart are steroids and other supplements/metabolism-enhancers. If wrestlers are dying young of heart attacks, and are found to have enlarged hearts or other signs of heart disease, fact is that it's not the Vicodins and booze that are doing the lion's share of the damage.
     
    Vince McMahon announced the new drug policy himself at a joint RAW/SD! roster meeting at tonight's RAW tapings in the UK (which actually took place hours ago)... or more accurately, Vince announced the plan to implement a new policy, while also admitting that all the details had yet to be hammered out, but he wanted his roster to know what was happening from his own mouth.
     
    Despite the lack of codified details, Vince had a few key points: (1) Use of steroids or recreational drugs will not be tolerated; abuse of legitimately-prescribed drugs will not be tolerated, either. (2) Testing will be handled by an outside agency, no in-house by WWE. (3) Testing will be random but relatively frequent, and *not* based on "cause for suspicion" (as I believe was the WWF's creed back the last time they were bothering to put up the facade of testing their roster). (4) Punishments will be spelled out and be non-negotiable; when applicable (basically in non-steroid cases), the first step taken will always be to facilitate an addicted worker in getting professional help. And (5) the new policy will apply across the board, with no exceptions made based on one's spot on the card.
     
    Obviously, I can't stop you from being cynical (especially about that last item), but I'd suggest that this is more than just lip service. WWE may be in the midst of a down-trend when they aren't doing a lot of things right, creatively, but no matter how we criticize them, the simple fact is: they aren't stupid or malevolent. WWE's top brass isn't so callous to want their wrestlers to be dying, and at the very least, you'd have to grant that WWE possesses a certain self-survival instinct. In today's climate (where Major League Baseball and its players got a new drug policy hammered out, even if only out of fear that if they didn't, Congress would hammer one out for them), it's better to police oneself than to dare lawmakers to legislate you into responsibility.
     
    And the simple fact is that by policing themselves, WWE will incur the cost of funding the program, but shouldn't really suffer any other tangible losses. The percentage of the audience who actually cares about the cosmetic difference between a Chris F. Masters and a Chris Jericho is nominal: that's something that Vince McMahon -- for whatever reason -- has always focused on, but which I've never really seen be a huge issue with rank and file fans. And if this new policy means that Vince McMahon can do without his implausibly-built ass-injecting mesomorphs, I think the rest of us will be just fine, too.
     
    If there is to be an impact on the actual on-screen product, it *might* come as a result of the WWE's policing of painkillers and other prescription drugs. Last week, Andrew "Test" Martin wrote a scathing diatribe about the blind eye that fans and promoters turn to what he painted as essentially the NECESSARY use of painkillers just to do the job of a pro wrestler. I'm not sure I buy into the "necessity" thing, though... if this kind of drug use is "necessary," I'd suggest it's actually more a cultural thing where use is so easy and so prevalent that some get roped into feeling like it's "necessary." Wrestling, as I've mentioned her many times, is kind of a subculture all its own, a subculture that is often times bafflingly retarded (especially in areas pertaining to old school initiation rights or locker-room justice)... but retarded or no, healthy or no, guys still get sucked into that subculture. They look at decisions through the filter of that subculture, not with the same clarity that those outside the subculture would. So something like deciding how to nurse a sore back suddenly becomes a huge issue when the consensus all around you is that it's normal and "OK" to get your hands on some painkillers and self-prescribe all you want, and that somebody who DOESN'T do this is the weird one.
     
    I'm very much a "mind over matter" person. There simply aren't many situations in which your body can tell you one thing and where your brain shouldn't be able to step in and make the final decision. With all due respect for exactly how physically grueling it is to be a wrestler, the decision on how to deal with a particular injury should be made with the brain, not based on the fact that "eh, I'm kinda sore, and the three guys in the car with me have some extra pills." And if your body really does hurt to the point where you can't get by without pharmaceutical assistance, maybe that's the time where the brain should step in and say "It might be time to look for another job." There's all kinds of checkpoints and release valves here, which should combine to keep a Thinking Wrestler from making the kinds of bad decisions that lead to true addiction. 
     
    I could probably pontificate further on this issue, but I know full well that I am far from somebody who has the expertise or legitimacy to have his opinions taken seriously. No, I'm not a wrestler, so I don't speak from experience. Yes, I'm somebody who knows full-well how easy it is to get one's hands on the substances in question, and has been known to self-medicate in cases of injury. In short, I'm nobody to listen to on this issue. But it still doesn't stop me from thinking that this is still -- at the core -- an issue of "mind over matter" and personal accountability. It shouldn't be something that takes a new WWE Drug Policy to change.
     
    That said, if WWE is serious about this new policy and starts "scaring wrestlers straight" after enacting it around the New Year, it's a Very Good Thing. It shouldn't be necessary, but if the roster needs a little help, let's make sure the new policy gives them all the motivation they need to get (and stay) healthy.
     
  • Last week, Nick "Eugene" Dinsmore was sent home from WWE's tour of Europe. Initially, WWE only announced that Eugene had been hospitalized and then, upon his release, was "suspended indefinitely." I gather the immediate rumors last week centered on the theory that Eugene had gotten into some kind of bar brawl, but that wasn't the case.
     
    Instead (and I believe WWE has since confirmed this), Eugene was found passed out following a show. He was revived at the hospital, where it emerged that his pass-out was caused by ingestion of a few too many Somas. 
     
    Some might find the timing (so soon after Eddie's death) to be suspicious, and my understanding is that WWE's reaction in this case *was* a deviation from standing policy and that this might not even have been an isolated incident as it pertains to Eugene. In any case, whether isolated incident or straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back, this earned Dinsmore a one-way ticket to the US, where he is expected to enter a rehab facility, and will have to get a clean bill of health before being welcomed back to WWE.
     
  • Last item on this general Drug Topic for today: you can stop sending me links to Phil Mushnick's column. I told you last week that you'd better brace for that dickweed to use Eddie's death for another one of his factually-inaccurate, self-important, irrational diatribes against wrestling and Vince McMahon.
     
    The fact that Mushnick lived down to that prophecy neither surprises nor interests me. It shouldn't interest you, either. Unless you're new around here and are still in awe of just what a clueless giant choad the guy is... 
     
  • The rating for Friday's Eddie Tribute Edition of SmackDown! drew a 3.1 rating. That's up about 15% from SD!'s recent average.
     
  • Speaking of SD!, the brand is in a huge state of flux right now... Eddie's death, Batista's injury, and the still-uncertain contractual status of Chris Benoit have them scrambling.
     
    In terms of the Survivor Series team, SD! has quietly announced that Randy Orton has replaced Eddie (and joins Batista, Rey Mysterio, JBL, and Bobby Lashley)... that means that the scheduled Orton/Undertaker match is off the PPV, though Taker's still expected to return to TV, and you know his first target will be Orton.
     
    Further, with regards to the World Title situation, SD! has announced a Batista/Orton street fight for this week's show. With Batista still requiring a bare minimum of one-month recovery time if he opts for an aggressive rehab program, everybody suspects that WWE will take the title off him to allow him that time.
     
    On the surface, this evidence certainly seems to suggest a near term situation in which Taker and Orton will be feuding over Orton's newly-won World Title. Let's just say that's not the way that *I* would have handled it... but with limited options, you can see why WWE would go this route. 
     
  • Speaking of quietly adding members to the Survivor Series teams, RAW flew this one under our radars, as they announced that Chris F. Masters is the fifth and final member of Team RAW. 
     
    Ugh. For the first time ever, Chris F. Masters and Randy Orton will be in the same ring together. I fear the universe will end next Sunday, as it will be dragged into the powerful Vortex of Suck that will be created the second those two come into contact with each other.
     
  • Joey Styles has apparently signed a contract to become RAW's full-time lead announcer. Either that, or a deal is imminent... because Joey made the trip to the UK for today's RAW tapings, although his "trial period" ended with last week's broadcast, one has to assume this is a case of WWE making Joey's job a permanent one.
     
    Happier, I could not be. Now lets kick Coach out of the booth and get him back to doing what he does best: being a schmucky heel lackey to Eric Bischoff, where he excels in small doses in a way almost 180 degrees opposite of how he comes across in giant 2-hour doses.
     
  • Possible reason for Stacy Keibler's absence last week (and possibly in other weeks, although I can't say I have really noticed)... she's trying to be a movie star.
     
    Stacy has secured bit parts in at least two upcoming films, one of which is currently in production. Thanks to those who helped out with that info, including our very own PyroFalkon, who correctly notes that Stacy's part in "Big Momma's House 2" boggles the mind. Not because of Stacy.... but because somebody, somewhere actually decided to greenlight the sequel to "Big Momma's House."
     
  • I have some additional wrestling babe news, as well. Well, not really news, but I just wanted to alert all readers that if you like Gail Kim, there is a fresh set of smoking hot bOOby pictures of her making the rounds. If I said that some kind soul had found them and posted them to the OO Forums, I would not be lying. And you might be interested in looking. But only as long as you're not at work or somewhere else where the expose female nipple will get you in trouble.
     
    They're actually from the same photoshoot as the topless pics that surfaced last spring. And if you think it's odd that I'm so enthusiastic about seeing Gail's same old boobies from just slightly different angles only a week after I dismissed Candice Michelle's upcoming full-frontal Playboy Appearance on the grounds that we've all already seen her goodies, well.... welcome to the enigma that is The Rick.
     
    Go ahead, I dare you to try to figure out my twisted logic here....
     
  • You might remember that Chris "Tatanka" Chavis mentioned months ago -- concurrent with his one-night guest spot on RAW -- that there were talks of him signing a full-time WWE deal, but that it'd only happen if he felt like he was in good enough shape to give it his all.
     
    Well, at a wrestling convention over the weekend, Tatanka is said to have lost a lot of weight and was confirming that he expects to return to WWE very soon, as a result. Not sure what need he fulfills, but if we're gonna start bringing back some of the 90s biggest "Where Are They Nows?", Tatanka's definitely higher up on my list than Ahmed Johnson...
     
  • And speaking of Ahmed Johnson, one of my favorite targets over the past year has been the man who strikes me as little more than Ahmed Johnson 2005: Monty Brown.
     
    But I gotta admit something... as I watched my recording of Impact yesterday afternoon, I found the show to be the strongest hour of free TV TNA has *ever* produced, and Monty -- for the first time in memory -- was on my TV screen and I had no desire to FF or change the channel.
     
    At first I thought maybe I was just in the mood for a "normal" wrestling show after the week we had, and I enjoyed TNA for that reason. But that's not really fair: upon further review, they really just did put on the kind of show that should make fans interested in upcoming events. Hell, as I was watching the show, instead of leaning on the FF button, I even found myself entering my usual RAW Viewing Mode, complete with paying the kind of close attention that I do when I know I have to recap a show. That's new for TNA. I hope there's more of the same in the offing.
     
    What Impact did this week that TNA has rarely, if ever, done is create some genuine Storyline Sizzle for two matches... they've given fans a reason to care and get excited about upcoming PPV contests. I thought the work done setting up AMW/Dudleys and Christian/Monty was excellent.... 
     
    I want to single out the Christian/Monty segment for special commendation, too. Because look: I don't "get" Monty Brown. I just don't. His ring work tends towards sloppy, and his promos make me roll my eyeballs. But when you put him on the mic across the ring from Christian, something happened. For one: I think that Christian is just so over that TNA backed into actually having Brown be treated as a heel. [As has been discussed at length here, the combination of TNA's half-assed character development and TNA's wanker fans make it nearly impossible for TNA to create genuine heel/face friction. Hell, forget "friction," TNA barely even makes a DISTINCTION in most cases, and it's just annoying as all get-out.] And for two: Brown does have a ton of charisma, and when finally able to channel it towards something constructive, he shone. As much as I laughed and loved it when Christian would cut off Monty and mock his lame promo style/catchphrases, I also loved it when Monty made the exact same observations about Christian's unfortunate footwear as I had made a couple minutes previous. It was back and forth, give and take, and it was the kind of personality-driven confrontation that TNA almost NEVER has.
     
    I also realized something else: once Monty's music hit, and I knew where the segment was going, I briefly got annoyed because (I thought) if TNA wanted to lure fans in with Christian's first PPV match, it should so obviously have been against Jeff Hardy, right? And while Christian/Hardy would, in fact, kick the ass of Christian/Monty, the promos/storyline would have (because of Jeff's limitations) sucked ass. I know it doesn't make a lick of sense, but even though I know Christian/Monty won't be as good a match, the kinds of things Monty/Christian can do outside the context of the wrestling ring make me want to see that match way more than I would have guessed. And I think that's something that would translate the same way with just about any typical fan.
     
    Beyond the two matches that I thought the successfully built up, they also set up two other matches for the next PPV. Not quite as spectacularly, but soundly enough. Rhino getting his NWA Title rematch with Jarrett is reasonably logical. And Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles is more a match that is interesting because the Wanker Type of fans know it'll be a Workrate Classic than because the storyline will have any sizzle to it. But even there: kudos for TNA for trying to accentuate the positives and hide the negatives.... knowing full well that AJ Styles is pretty much a blackhole of charisma and mic skills, they had his challenge to Joe come over the ImpactTron, in a pre-tape segment. Give AJ enough takes, and he might not exactly set the world on fire with creative, eloquent mic work, but he'll at least string together some comprehensible English and muster up something resembling a convincing level of intensity.
     
    Just because it's TNA and I have to gripe about SOMEthing... this painfully drawn-out 3 Live Kru/Billy Gunn thing MUST END NOW. I don't care how, I just can't stand it being on my TV screen any longer. Billy Gunn is not interesting, that's why his career was all downhill after pretending to be gay, and why he's now slumming it in TNA. And I hate Gonnad so very, very much.
     
    But other than that: seriously, Best Impact Ever. EVER~! Which is admittedly faint praise considering the quality of Impact since starting up on SpikeTV, but it's something.... hopefully the start of a recurring something, and not just a one-time something.
     
    Get all the details in Jason Longshore's Impact Recap.
     
  • Lastly, a few quick notes about tonight's RAW... although it's already been taped in the UK, I'm Spoiler Free, baby, and optimistically hoping that WWE brings its A-game as we head into Survivor Series.
     
    With an announced main event of Kurt Angle vs. Shelton Benjamin, that's certainly a good start. We got a tiny taste of what these two could do last Monday... now with their emotions in check and (apparently) with a storyline reason for them to be facing off, I'm hoping for a jim dandy, here.
     
    Dirty Little Secret: what I'm *really* hoping for is that this wouldn't just be some 5 minute squash for Kurt, and that, instead, it somehow morphs into an excuse to put Shelton on Team RAW. Trust me: nobody knows (or cares) that Chris F. Masters was secretly added to the team. Nobody would care if we just pretended that never happened and used Shelton/Kurt as the showcase that gets Benjamin onto the team... of course, this will not happen. But I guess I'll settle for Shelton getting to wrestle somewhere other than Heat this week.
     
    More likely, this will be a convincing win for Angle, as he heads into a PPV title match against John Cena. That'll remain a top issue to be addressed tonight...
     
    Although, it'll probably be secondary to the RAW vs. SD! storyline. WWE shuffled the Euro Tour schedule so that all the stars of SD! will be available to appear on RAW (and vice versa at tomorrow's SD! tapings). Team RAW vs. Team SD! is the undeniable main event for Sunday's Survivor Series PPV; at the very least, WWE's RAW preview promises that Team SD! will make an appearance on RAW tonight.
     
    With the events of last Monday night, and with Trish working the Euro Tour on the SD! roster (with Melina), that's at least one additional brand cross-over that wouldn't surprise me... if they aren't planning on Trish vs. Melina at Survivor Series, I'd be shocked.
     
    RAW also has another big match for Survivor Series: Triple H vs. Ric Flair. Unbelievably, Flair's still the IC Champ, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the HHH/Flair feud. I'm of the opinion that Flair should drop the title (to somebody who actually needs it and can use it as a storyline prop), but less than a week before the PPV is no time to be pulling any wackiness... the intensity is there between Trips and Flair, and they only need do the most basic of promo work to put the finishing touches on the build-up to what should be a very entertaining brawl at the PPV.
     
    With the main focus on the cross-brand stuff, RAW and SD! only need to bring 2 or maybe 3 brand-only matches to the table. So RAW's looking like they've got their quota pretty well met. Tonight, they oughta put the focus on those stories, and if they avoid wasting precious time on pointless filler, all should be good.
     
    And regardless of how good RAW is, it's still a good night to be The Me. I get the week off from having to recap RAW. But you know how I roll: I only slack off when I know I'm leaving you people in capable hands... so make a point to come on back tomorrow, when Erin Anderson will return from 3 months of scholarly pursuits to keep you amply amused with the RAW Recap.
     
    Then I'll see you folks again on Wednesday, as I try to scrape something worthwhile together before beginning the Holiday Feasting... well, on Wednesday night, it's more the Holiday Cooking and Baking, but you get the idea. Later on.... 


  
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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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