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RAW, TNA Ratings, Sting, Jeff Hardy,
Tajiri's "Farewell," and Fantasy Talk... 
December 14, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'm -- as JR would no doubt like to say -- "conflicted." Nomar as a Yankee... I assume you're heard this one?

Basically, the Yankees will out-bid everybody who wants to sign Nomar to play a position he's actually played before in his life, and then have him play First Base next season. This way, Jason Giambi doesn't have to play the field, and can just DH.

Part of me kinda like the idea because even if Giambi's been a major league

first-baseman for his entire career, he's still a defensive adventure any time he's asked to do anything besides stand on the bag, and catch balls thrown at him for the force-out. Nomar, positional inexperience and all, can't possibly be any worse. And plus, there's just the factor that anything that'll piss off Red Sox fans is a good thing in my book.

But part of me thinks it's stupid, because a for-average-hitting first-baseman with limited power and limited speed who's starting to get a bit old can be had a LOT cheaper than what you'd have to pay to get Nomar... hell the Mets just got Tenth Wonder of the World Julio Franco for about $2 million. What was the stat on him I had thrown may way during the play-offs? Something about how half the General Managers in baseball are younger then Old Man Franco? And another thing: even if Nomar's no longer a Red Sox, I still can't stop hating him for one simple reason.... he gets to bone Mia Hamm whenever the mood strikes. Bastard.

So yeah: "conflicted" works.

No such conflict when it comes to another impending roster move, though, this time by My Indiana Pacers... don't let the door hit you in the ass, Ron Artest. To think, I actually believed the "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" piece on him just prior to the season where he acting all sane and rational for an entire 15 minute segment and seemed ready to focus on winning basketball games. But nope: still a whack-job head-case. Note: I have PLENTY of tolerance for any self-absorbed asshole who still goes out on the field and backs up his behavior. But that means the bigger asshole you are, the more dominant your game-time performances must be. For instance: Barry Bonds? GINORMOUS cocky asshole. But 5 or 6 MVPs pretty much speak for themselves, and I respect that. But tossers like T.O. or Artest? Pretty close to Bonds' level of douchebaggery, but the best you could say about either is that they are probably among the Top Three Players At Their Positions...  and "top three at your position" just doesn't quite allow for the same leeway that "six time best player at any position in the entire league" does.

But enough rambling. We've got a comically-light news day to cover in the world of wrestling:

  • Starting with Monday's RAW...
    I think I already bottom-lined my position on the show: just about everything that wasn't Cena/Angle/McMahon was good or better. It's just that the Cena/Angle stuff permeated the show (and was the main event), which always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's a deal where the good easily out-weighed the bad... but you still got done with the show feeling frustrated.
    In this case, the frustration stems from the fact that WWE is convinced that the "problem" with their top level feud between John Cena and Kurt Angle is that Angle isn't a strong enough heel. Bullshit, monkeys: Angle was not cheered even once a week ago in a match (tagging with Carlito) against Shawn Michaels and Shelton Benjamin. Fans, even ones who "respect" Kurt, are more than happy to play along if Angle's up against somebody else they like. So if the problem can be proven to NOT be Kurt, then the problem is....
    That's right: John Cena. Just like I forecasted almost a year ago.
    But on Monday night, WWE might have convinced themselves otherwise, because Monday night was the first week in quite some time where there were no significant boos for Cena as he tangled with Angle and Daivari. And they accomplished this how? By asking Kurt Angle to go out there and do ridiculously unrealistic, out-of-character things that made it impossible for any fan to be able to cheer for him on this night. Now, a character who wants to raise questions about whether or not our troops belong overseas could still be a compelling, multi-dimensional one (although this is simply an area of storytelling where I suspect WWE lacks the intelligence, creativity, and deft-touch necessary to handle the subject matter responsibly). But a character who goes out and makes fun of troops for being miserable failures not worthy of his visit is nothing. He's a card-board cut-out, a caricature of evil; he's not somebody who want to bother entering into a debate with, he's somebody you just want to ignore, because nothing fruitful will come out of the discourse.
    In other words, the New Kurt Angle basically got a one-week set of knee-jerk boos. But it's a button you can only press once (or maybe a few times) before people (even the dumbest of fans) will just get sick of it and stop caring. To keep this kind of heat on Kurt, I wasn't kidding yesterday: WWE would have to be prepared to let Kurt strangle kittens in the middle of the ring. They haven't done anything to re-establish a sustainable heel character for Kurt; they just pulled a one-off stunt on Monday. And I have no desire to sit around and watch Kurt commit any further character suicide by having to do future one-off stunts because the decision makers in WWE can't stop wearing their asses as hats.
    And then as Angle's making sure to take himself down a few pegs, Cena's basically the beneficiary of (1) his hometown crowd, (2) flaccid patriotic rhetoric that is another of his fake-y "tacked on" character traits but doesn't in any way resonate with whatever passes for the "real" John Cena, and (3) the sympathy that goes with having to wrestle a match blindfolded. Like I said: it worked on Monday, but it didn't fool me, and in 2 weeks time when RAW returns to "story-telling" shows, I don't think it'll have rubbed off substantially on the viewing audience at large, either.
    Unless they pull more harebrained stuntery out of their asses. Which, in my parlance, would just be more of WWE's "Addition by Subtraction." Sacrificing the credibility of the Angle character so the Cena character looks better by comparison is NOT the formula WWE should be looking to use here.... that's just stupid.
    But for as deeply annoyed as I was by all that on Monday, there really wasn't a whole lot else on the show that got on my nerves. Well, some of Vince's bits were just counter-productively self-aggrandizing, especially if we're supposed to be accepting him as a babyface; also, I think the idea of conducting "GM Interviews" has a lot of promise on the Hollywood-Writer-Monkey/Entertainment side of things, and that was not explored at all. THOSE are the kinds of skits Vince should be doing, and it's even a gimmick you could stretch out for a few weeks. Vince's stuff wasn't just bad, it also represented (to me, anyway) missed opportunities to do funny skits and tease the crowd with unexpected GM candidates. And it also goes without saying the Masters/Viscera sucked, and it's baffling that a contest between those two could be for a spot in a PPV main event, but whatever... no use getting worked up over it, right?
    On the other side of the coin, you had three really enjoyable matches (Angle/Flair, Carlito/Shelton, and best of all, Michaels/Show), another good match that was tied into an even better story (Mickie James/Victoria), and a few other skits/bits that were fun (Edge/Flair, and Striker's Dean-Douglas-Meets-Bob-Backlund gimmick that may or may not have legs, but which was funny for one night).
    I'm not sure that it's a show that does much to make New Year's Revolution look like anything more than a One Match Show... but there's time to take care of that (perhaps try to convince me that I should care about HHH/Big Show more than I'll be caring about Trish/Mickie, WWE), and what's important is that much of RAW was entertaining on its own merits on Monday, regardless of PPV Implications.
    If only I could get that bad taste out of my mouth, I'd probably be raving about it. But I can't. So I won't. You can get the fully-detailed breakdown and analysis of Monday's show in the OO RAW Recap. I personally vouch that you'll have a better time reading it than you had watching the show.
  • For those of you wondering where Tajiri was on his "farewell edition" of RAW, well.... he was jobbing on Heat.
    He did get to say a good-bye to fans afterwards, though. It's unclear at this point whether that will be included on this weekend's Heat webcast or not. Since WWE.com acknowledged Tajiri's departure, I would kind of hope that they'd leave it in, but you never know with these people...
  • Initial reports were sketchy, but it now appears that Jeff Hardy was absent from Sunday's TNA PPV *without* permission. At first, there was word that he'd scheduled to get out of his match with the company's OK, but I guess that's not the case.
    Jeff was only to be involved in a pre-show 8-man tag match, mostly with a class of TNA characters that we'd recognize as "jobbers." And also Lance Hoyt, who for some reason has an actual following among TNA fans. It could be as simple as Jeff looking at that match, the fact that it wasn't even on the PPV itself, and saying "Fuck it." Jeff is, however, flighty by nature, and there could be any number of reasons for his no-show.
    This isn't the first time Jeff has done this, and I gotta wonder if he might not be just about out of do-overs with TNA management... TNA of the past year or so might have been tolerant because Jeff was still, given their roster strength, a viable top-level star for them. But with recent upgrades, there's just no need to bend over backwards to accommodate a guy who's spot on the card is basically back to what it was in WWE: designated stuntman.
    And hell, TNA's got enough of those guys already, too. Ones who are dependable.
    If there's any further word on the reasons for Jeff's no-show or TNA's response to it, I'll have it in the near future. But for now: my guess is no Jeffitude in TNA.

  • One of the "upgrades" I spoke of is obviously Sting... although he will not appear in the flesh until TNA's January PPV, he'll be an integral part of TV shows for the next several weeks.
    And then going forward from a tag match at January's PPV, the sky's the limit. Obviously, Sting would be well-credentialed to go after Jarrett's TNA Title, though more and more, I'm loving the self-deluded TNA wanker-fans who claim to be deathly-bored by Jarrett and then turn around and give him the loudest response of the night, and would get a kick out of it if they really dragged things out and Jarrett made Sting jump through hoops before getting a title shot. [Note to TNA fans: what you hear on TV when Chris F. Masters is in the ring.... *THAT* is how an audience that is truly bored responds to the object of their apathy.]
    All avenues (including title reigns) will be open to Sting, as he'll be a full-time worker for the company. Well, a three-days-a-month worker, but that *is* full-time. He's committed to a one-year deal. I'll be very interested to see how fans (both established TNA wankers and then the more casual fans) respond to Sting, and how that will affect his value to TNA over the course of that year...
  • The rating for last week's TNA Thursday Night primetime special was... a 0.8. Wow. Other than that one little two-week anomalous slide, it doesn't appear as though there's much of anything TNA can do to change its basic audience size.

    I'm *kinda* surprised, as this special was a bit better hyped (the White Sox appearing had some talking heads mentioning it, even on ESPN) than the last one, and it also happened outside of November Sweeps, which meant the competing programming was much weaker. And still: they drew at exactly their average.
    It appears TNA has a built-in audience of around a million viewers a week, but is having a hard time branching out and growing that audience, no matter the level of promotion they get or the timeslot in which they air.
    And that, my friends, is where Sting comes in. It's hard to say at this point exactly how the responses of the different types of fans will all shake out (a lot of TNA fans are actually a bit against Sting coming in, so casual/mainstream fans will have to STILL be so fond of Sting, and still be convinced of his credibility as a main event contender and not just a novelty act, so as to offset that).... I figure by Feburary, though, we should have a pretty good idea if Sting's the soothing ratings balm that TNA needs in order to justify a hoped-for full-time move to prime-time.
    TNA and Spike have definitely talked about it, and TNA covets not just a primetime slot, but also a possible expansion to two hours. The Spike's making no promises, and a lot will hinge on whether TNA can prove themselves to be bankable for 1.0-or-better ratings... 
  • TNA will next be in prime time on New Year's Eve. Because Spike is doing something else leading into midnight, TNA will be displaced to earlier in the night... but then I think the gimmick is that TNA will get an additional half-hour AFTER midnight in order to pay-off on an angle they set up during the 8pm hour.
    That's kind of intriguing, I guess... but I'm not so sure that "prime time" in this case means anything promising for TNA. Being on in prime time on a night when absolutely nobody's going to be sitting at home watching TV doesn't really equal Ratings Gold. I'll just have to hope that whatever the wacky post-midnight thing is registers on DVR's programming guide so that I don't miss recording it... 

  • Another TNA newsbite (which should tell you just how dry I am today): Dave Hebner debuted for TNA at last night's TV tapings. Earl Hebner was not present, but my understanding is that when scheduling allows, he'll also be brought in, as TNA wants to utilize them both.
    Just beware guys: the Twin Hebners Ref Gimmick is 15 years old now. That just means its old. It doesn't mean that it's so old that people have forgotten it so that you can try to use it again. OK?
  • Chris Jericho is having Phun with PhotoShop agayn...
    A front page graphic on his official website (chrisjericho.com) appears to announce Jericho's candidacy for the GM position on RAW. Just remember, it wasn't long ago that a front page graphic on Chris Jericho's website had many convinced Jericho was debuting for TNA...

    The man, to put it bluntly, is a marketing genius, and know how to keep his wrestling fans glued to his every move, just so he can keep them on the line while he's doing Fozzy stuff or appearing on silly VH-1 shows. Very crafty....
    As to whether the day will ever come when Jericho's back in a wrestling ring or not, I still think the answer to that is "yes." I know it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride over the last six months, going from "Jericho just wants the fall off to recharge his batters and do Fozzy" to today's more widely held belief that the VH-1 chyron for Jericho (he's a "Musician/Actor" with no mention of wrestling) proves Jericho will never, EEEVVVVVVER wrestle again.
    I'm sorry, but the magnificently humiliating way Jericho agreed to leave WWE suggests, to me, that he does fully intend to return at some point to put right what once went wrong. The whens and the hows, I dunno.... but I gotta think that a when of "2 weeks from now" and a how of "as new GM of RAW" seems a little far-fetched. 
    Although, that said: one of the few "fantasy booking" scenarios for a new RAW GM that I know would have me "marking out" is the idea of Jericho coming in to replace the very many who fired and humiliated him. I'm still not holding my breath, though...
  • Since I mentioned Fantasy Booking.... I was bored to tears last night. Nobody told me "The Office" was taking a week off so that NBC could bring back "Fear Factor." Fuckwits. And that's pretty much the only Tuesday night TV viewing that I look forward to. 
    But during periodic hop-ins to my office to see what was shaking in Internet-Land, I started actually typing up a few little notes-to-self.... then I'd go back and watch some hoops (how about DePaul knocking off #16 Wake Forest *at* Wake? Suddenly I feel less bad about DePaul beating us on our home court back on Saturday) and let the Big Brain ponder some things.... then hop back in to check on Internet-Land, and instead spend 10 minutes typing up a few more notes-to-self... lather, rinse, and repeat a few times, and the result:
    I now have my full Fantasy Universe Road To WrestleMania planned out. Not fantasy-booked assclown-style, but actually booked using real life limitations and WWE management preferences, so there's no Bret Hart magically returning to the ring, and there's no booking Paul London to be the next WWE Champion.... hell, I even had to completely reshuffle a few things, because one of my little story arcs required Tajiri to form a tag team with Chavo Guerrero. And I won't even allow myself the crutch of saying "Oh, let's just pretend Tajiri didn't quit."
    About the craziest assumptions I made are that (1) The Rock can be coaxed to make exactly one single in-arena appearance for WWE, and it'd come at WM22; other limited appearances would be handled via videotape... (2) that Chris Jericho could be coaxed back to appear for about 2 months, but not as a wrestler; as a Rock Star; but if that little side bar proves un-do-able, fine, it's so compartmentalized and such a fun little piece of fluff that you can take it out and it will affect NOTHING else... and (3) Edge will be able to return to active competition by February. Everything else I did is so insanely reasonable, it might even make you shake your head at how UNcreative my WM22 line-up sounds as compared to other fantastical scenarios you've seen suggested by others, who care little (if any) about real world considerations.
    But hey, that's always been how I roll: I like my Fantasy Universe Line-up to be something WWE could easily and realistically do.... therefore, when they don't, I get the full benefit of being able to not just say "My way was better," but also that "And my way was just as feasible as yours."
    What is the interest level in having this Fantasy Universe storylines fully-developed for weekly F-U (screw you, Cena!) updates on OO? I last did this in 2001, and it was a shitload of work, but the end result was quite gratifyingly well-received (and still remembered fondly by many). Given my waning ability to write compellingly about the real product, I'm almost thinking that it might be just the kick-in-the-pants I need to write about a version of the product about which I am truly enthusiastic... 
    Would it help you if I shared the WM22 card? Cuz I'd gladly do that... it's just that (a) it'd count as Spoilers for some very fun things I intend to have play out, and (b) just looking at the card itself, I really *do* think some of you might be underwhelmed.... the beauty of what I've come up with (so far) is in the connections between stories and the build-up. The notes-to-self are really only the WM22 things... but the couch time last night resulted in me having fully formed results for the three preceding PPVs and even specific timelines for events on RAW and SD! (including what I think could be a VERY strong and surprising arc that pays off NOT at WM22, but on the RAW immediately preceding it).
    Ponder that, let me know what you think, and I'll decide what I want to do.... the F-U wouldn't debut until January 2, so there's time to figure this out, OO Nation. But let me just say this: if you like the idea of SD! doing a slightly-altered version of the Batista/Eddie "friendship" storyline leading up to Batista vs. Rey for the World Title at WM22, then I'm your hucklebuck. No Batista vs. Orton here, baby... just an idea equally as feasible, and which would probably prove to be about 18 times more entertaining. 
    So e-mail away, folks.... but just know that if you e-mail in favor of the F-U being a 15-week Special Feature, then you'd bah gawd better be donating to the OO Pledge Drive, too. What you're asking... hell, it's at least gonna be another 2-3 hours a week for me. All in the name of insuring that OO remains the place known for making wrestling more fun than it is on TV.
    It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it....
  • That's all folks.....
    Armageddon PPV Preview on Friday. The trOOps are already being assembled, as the 2005 PPV Predictionizing Crown will be on the line. I currently hold the slimmest of leads.... will I hold onto it? Or will Erin Anderson pop in and distract me in the middle of my Prognosticatory Trance and ask for help again like last time? There's only one way to find out....
    So I'll see y'all on Friday.

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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.




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