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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Divisive RAW, Big Ratings Gains,
Edge Injury Update, and Lots More... 
December 7, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Awwww, hell... it's not quite official, I gather, but it looks like the last of the Cincinnati Reds Wrestling Fan Contingent is gonna be shipped out of town.
  

Five years ago, it was cool to meet and hang out with (and interview) the Reds Dmitri Young, Danny Graves, and Sean Casey, as they were actual participants (a mix of guest referee and guest managers) on the largest of the Brian Pillman Memorial Shows.

Dmitri left first, on the grounds that he's actually performed consistently for long

enough that other teams are interested in employing him. Graves got outright released last year on the grounds that he sucked, and the Reds didn't need him taking up a roster spot (even if they were obligated to continue paying him). And now, Casey's getting traded to Pittsburgh on the grounds that even though Casey's a guy you love having on your team, he's NOT a guy you love having to pay $9 million to provide slightly-below-average production at first base.

I don't know what it says about the Reds, but probably nothing flattering, when I say that I actually approve of a trade in which we are essentially getting nothing in return AND we have to send Pittsburgh $2 million to help defray Casey's salary, because it's still a net payroll gain of $7 million, money which HOPEFULLY can be spent more wisely than on a likeable first baseman who hits for average but only drives in 50 runs per year.

And as for the wrestling/Reds connection? Well, they do still play Triple H's "Time To Play the Game" when the team takes the field at the Great American Ballpark, so that's something. Unless that was just some bizarre rider in Casey's contract...

I dunno. Pre-Ramble over. And although it *was* tangentially-wrestling-related for once, I know you want less Keller-Caliber Obscure Wrestling References, and more News You Can Use. So here you go:

  • The feedback to Monday's RAW has been remarkably divisive... and I can't say I'm surprised. In fact, when I wrote the recap, I said upfront that I knew there'd be a segment of the audience that would piss all over the show, although I thought it quite entertaining and effective (and more importantly, thought it would be even MORE liked among your typical non-internet-reading fans).
     
    Like some of you, I definitely had issues with some of the "Trial of Eric Bischoff" skits. Mae Young and the Boogeyman are simply eyeball-roll-inducing garbage... also, I thought the production of those bits was cheesy and poorly-done (I'm being totally serious when I say that the similarly-themed "Dudley Funeral" on TNA was the better produced of the two pre-taped comedy skits). But there were also some bona fide laughs in there, and if you were willing to let the presentational issues go, you could appreciate them. Or at least: I could.
     
    And then I thought there was MORE than enough interesting stuff on the wrestling-side to off-set any gripes a reasonable fan might have had about the entertainment-side. Some excellent stuff (a great backstage promo, and then a good match, and then a promising post-match angle) on the Shelton Benjamin front. I thought Edge's interview segment was very intense and entertaining, a rare case of WWE effectively weaving together "shoot" material with TV characters and TV storylines. Forward progress on the Trish/Mickie front... a tease of HHH/Step getting back together... Chavo/Cade having one of the most-crisp, most-connects-with-the-audience throw-away match in recent memory (beat the hell out of Shelton vs. Murdoch, for instance)... and a just-plain-fun beatdown by Show and Kane...
     
    That's all stuff that seemed distinct in style and tone from the Hollywood-ish "Trial" bits... and I think everything on the wrestling side was a bona fide Hit. Combine with the fact that I got a kick out of all but two of the Trial bits, and I'm not gonna back down from my stance that this was a really fun RAW. No matter how much I'm disappointing those of you who wrote in confused as to why I didn't bust out Lethal Levels of Snark for an episode that you found lacking...
     
    What can I say? I gots to be me.... and I think that maybe what the divisive reaction breaks down to is the fact that there is the contingent out there, who if they Fantasy Booked WWE, they'd emulate ROH or honestly believe that there's nothing wrong with AJ Styles being incapable of cutting a compelling, personable promo. But that's no more realistic a vision than when WWE sometimes goes off the deep end, because they think they can do a wrestling show with no wrestling, scripted entirely by failed sitcom writers.
     
    There is a middle ground, and I think that's where you have this big fat market segment of regular fans who know what they like and expect out of a wrestling show. And it involves some entertainment aspects and compelling characters to go with the wrestling matches. I tend to occupy that middle ground (though I tend slightly more towards the pro-wrestling, anti-Hollywood side), and I'm sorry to report that I find the tastes of the Workrate-Loving Internet Jack-off to be every bit as "fringe" and unmarketable as Stephanie McMahon's stubborn belief that she'll get a quality show from writers that couldn't cut the mustard on "Becker."
     
    The best wrestling product is going to be its own unique genre, a mix of a bunch of things that don't mix together well in any other form. Some weeks, that'll mean a mix where the "entertainment" side takes a bit of a lead; but other weeks, it should necessarily tip to a wrestling emphasis in order to keep things fresh. The trick on EVERY WEEK is just making sure that the entertainment things you do are the best entertainment things they can be, and that the wrestling things you do are the best wrestling things they can be.
     
    And that's why I liked Monday's RAW: the wrestling stuff (to be the best of my memory) scored a 100% hit rate, and the admittedly-ubiquitous (and potentially over-powering) entertainment stuff was about as good as you'll get (it never seemed to over-stay its welcome, and with few exceptions, each tiny little segment was amusing).
     
    I also cannot overstate the importance of having the show end with a manner of dangling loose ends and unanswered questions, ones that I ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT SEEING ANSWERED... that meant that for the first time in recent memory, RAW ended with me already looking forward to next week. That's no small feat... well, actually, my stance is that it *is* a pretty small feat, a simple matter of creating sustainably-entertaining episodic TV. But WWE's been unable to do that with any reliability the last 18 months, so it's pretty remarkable when they get it right.
     
    You can get the full details on last night's controversial some-love-it-some-hate-it show in my OO RAW Recap. I gotta say: I tend to think of myself as a good critic of my own work, and even when I boast that I always make the Recap better than RAW itself, I also know when I churn out a stinker, and only get bailed out by the fact that RAW served up an even smellier turd... this week, I'm saying RAW was good. And after reviewing my effort, I'm still saying I was better. RAW brings its A-game, and in so doing, apparently motivated me to bring MY A-game for the first time in months...  and a winner is you.
     
    So just read the recap and marvel at what caliber of material it takes for me to actually be proud of myself for once... or question my judgment and worth as a person for apparently being so proud of the most-profanity-laden recap in a while. Bring it on, Michael Powell!
     
  • The rating for Monday was a 4.1, which is a gain of 0.2 from the week before, and marks RAW's third-best rating since returning to USA 10 weeks ago. After dipping back down to SpikeTV levels, RAW has now scored back-to-back respectable ratings, back up to roughly the first-half-of-2005 averages.
     
    What does the rating prove? I dunno.... but my "ratings are reflexive" theory means that the appeal of Eric Bischoff being ousted was a bit more widespread than I ever would have guessed. To me, it's a scenario that's been teased and played out so many times in the past that it was hard to really give a crap with that being the top story heading into Monday's show. No matter who amusing the "Trial" turned out to be, I wasn't really anxiously awaiting that part of the show... I guess other fans were, and they showed up in strong numbers to see if this might be the time when Bischoff really does get removed.
     
    It just might be that WWE's week of "Take out the trash" hype that I thought was hokey and lame actually connected with a few members of the "secondary audience" and got them to show up on Monday. Oh well, I guess that's what I get for over-estimating the intelligence of the American people.
     
    I just hope that the dunderheads who actually fell for "Taking out the trash" this week ALSO show up, en masse, next week for a show that (so far) doesn't have any gay theme or catchphrase, but which does have a ton of loose ends that need tying up, which could be very interesting.
     
  • The one aspect of RAW that really did get on my nerves (not just as an eyeball-roll-inducing throw-away bit, or my own weird fetishes when it comes to production/presentation of backstage skits) was John Cena's appearance at the end of the show.
     
    But isn't it remarkable how you can talk about RAW, convey the key points of the entire 2 hour show, and never once even mention Cena's name (like I did in the opening bullet point)? That's because he simply was not necessary, he contributed nothing worthwhile, and he was more an obligatory tag than part of the big finish.
     
    But I bring him up here for one reason: a bunch of readers mailed in to take issue with my claims that Cena's arrival to talk about "listening to the fans" and kissing Vince McMahon's censorship-hating (ha!) ass were completely pointless and unnecessary. 
     
    I gather that there is a growing belief out there that Cena might have to turn heel (well, it's either that or fix his babyface character, and WELCOME TO THE CLUB, folks! We've been open for business for almost a year, but we're glad you decided to finally join up)... and they think that Cena's appearance might be the start of a heel turn in which he joins up with Vince McMahon and becomes "Corporate Cena."
     
    Ummmm... interesting idea, but No.
     
    The short version is: people are already turning against THIS John Cena, so why the hell would you screw with such a perfectly-face-slappable, petulant, clownish caricature in an attempt to get people to hate him?
     
    The longer version might be coming your way on a slow news Friday before too long. Because I've recently been reviewing some footage that has helped me understand/remember a bit more of where Cena's character came from and how it developed in those early months, and how that applies to what's going on now. Assuming the mix of my lethargy and the holiday season don't overwhelm me, you can look for that soon...
     
  • Before I get too far away from the ratings talk.... TNA this weekend did yet another 0.8. Right on their average. Looks like that anomalous dip down (for what was ironically the Best Impact Ever) was just a fluke, and TNA will continue to be seen by roughly 1 million viewers per week.
     
    They have their second big prime time opportunity tomorrow night on SpikeTV. Unlike last time, this isn't a 2-hour special, but just a 1-hour re-scheduling because of Spike's Saturday UFC commitments. The one-hour show airs Thursday at 10pm, I believe, and will provide the final push for this weekend's PPV.
     
    As part of the prime time special, Christian will see his first in-ring action since joining TNA. And also, members of the Chicago White Sox and Bobby Heenan will do a little angle. And by "members of the White Sox," I think we mean AJ P... ah screw it, his 15 minutes of fame expired when he was sharp enough to run to first base on a possibly-dropped third strike, and I'm not gonna start worrying about how to spell his name now. I don't know as that any other real White Sox will be involved. Unless you count the former KISS Demon (and current Sox coach) Dale Torborg as interesting. Which you don't.
     
    It'll be interesting to see if TNA can deliver the kind of show that'll goose PPV buyrates (or even draw more than their standard Saturday night audience, which their previous prime time special did NOT accomplish).... and whatever happens, my understanding as of Monday is that Jason Longshore will have both coverage of the Thursday Night Impact and a preview of the PPV for you here on Friday.
     
  • Edge has clarified the status of his injury.... until yesterday, all I'd heard is that he was trying to rehab a torn muscle in his chest, and that he was hoping that'd get him back in the ring fairly soon.
     
    Well, more details: it's a torn pectoral muscle, and Edge definitely declined surgery (which would have sidelined him for 6 months). The rehab process does not guarantee a full recovery, but it DOES leave open the option that Edge would be back in action, perhaps by the Royal Rumble. Given that his "Money in the Bank" gimmick expires at WrestleMania 22, Edge obviously has reasons to risk an incomplete recovery or a re-injury in order to give closure to that storyline...
     
    In the meantime, Edge should retain a fairly high profile thanks to his new interview segment on RAW, and (like Batista) can do limited physicality while continuing his rehab process. I hope it works out for Edgeward...
     
  • You want a trio of news items I can't confirm, but which a lot of people are e-mailing me about, and which all seem so absurd that I just *have* to share? OK, good....
     
    First, apparently some people think they've spotted Shawn Michaels on commercials for the next installment of "Dancing with the Stars." Ummm, OK, so that'd be pretty high on the unintentional comedy scale (then again, I pretty much laugh at all instances of men dancing), but even if it's true, here's a few additional facts that I know about the show: (1) it was already a pretty dumb idea for a TV show when it ran for one hour every week as a summer replacement, and (2) ABC has expanded it to 90 minutes every week when it returns in January, so it's like getting 50% more lame filler on a show that was already really lame to begin with!
     
    I have no idea if this is true or not, and I don't think I have a single ABC series that I watch, so I wouldn't even have access to the commercials without making a special effort.... but if this pans out, you fans of Shitty TV out there might have a new weekly appointment on Thursday nights.
     
  • Second news story that's almost too retarded to be true, but you just never know....
     
    There's a rumor going around that Dallas Page is trying to sue Jay-Z for the latter's use (and popularization) of the "Feel the Bang"/Diamond Cutter hand signal.
     
    Ugh. I don't even know where to begin on this... I just trust you all find it as insane as I do that Page thinks he invented the thing, and that Jay-Z and other hip-hop types are somehow trying to trade on PAGE'S intended meaning of it.
     
    Lawyers out there in OO Nation, I also once again put out my quarter Call For Assistance to you.... can you even copyright or sue over a hand signal? Is there, as you barristers say, "precedent" for that?
     
  • And lastly, this one at least seems to be legitimate, but it's just so dumb that I wish it weren't...
     
    WWE has issued an open casting call for a heavy-set African American women (aged 50-60) to portray "Shelton Benjamin's Mama." 
     
    Aaaaaannnndddddd just like that, I'm suddenly less enthusiastic that Shelton's on the fast track to an interesting heel turn. If WWE thinks ripping off Chunky Soup Commercials is the right way to go, instead of putting a bitter Shelton back with his old mentor Kurt Angle (and Daivari), then clearly, the Hollywood Sitcom Rejects have already won....
     
    Ugh.
     
  • I think the only other item to pass along is just a quick reminder that a voluntary, cross-brand crew of WWE workers are currently in Afghanistan, and will be performing a live event at some point the next couple of days which will air as a special edition of RAW on 12/19.
     
    And if you're interested in a bit of a sneak peak, they are being accompanied on the tour by Television Personality Rita Cosby. Her show the next two nights will feature footage of her interacting with both the WWE stars and the troops.
     
    So if you've got nothing better to watch at 9pm (eastern) on a Wednesday night, well, first of all SHAME ON YOU! But if you don't, check out MSNBC. And again on Thursday night. At least on Thursday, I'm pretty damned confident there isn't anything good on at all. At least, not until NBC moves their Tuesday night comedies to Thursdays in January to make up for the colossal (and predicted-by-the-Rick) failure of "Joey."
     
  • Me, not only do I have better things to watch at 9pm on a Wednesday, but I also have a Flyers game that'll keep me out till about 9:30, which means that DVR will be busy.... sorry, Rita, but I'm thinking you and your lovely singing voice might not make my schedule tonight.
     
    If anybody wants to fill me in if there's good stuff, I'd be much obliged. I'd also be more obliged if you'd think about throwing a few bucks towards the OO Pledge Drive; I'm proud of running a free, mostly-devoid-of-the-crippling-types-of-ads site, and the way that works is if some percentage of you step up with a couple bucks during this annual tradition.
     
    Full details for payment via Amazon, PayPal, or check/cash/US Mail are available right here. As always, those you pitch in have my thanks in advance. And everybody else: well, I'll still see you on Friday. You leeches!
     
    Later on....


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
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?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
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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