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Batista Forfeits and Angle Inherits, plus
Nipples, Ratings, TNA, and Other News! 
January 11, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Another day, another fine example of why America needs to be grabbed by the ankles, turned upside down, and spanked until it learns how to behave....

To wit: the #2 Headline Story in the Entertainment Section of my Yahoo News this morning read "Pete Doherty Guilty on Drug Charges." Now first, me with my Wrestling Filter, I immediately wondered, "Whoa, I had no idea Pete Doherty was even still alive. Much less that anybody would care if he was doing drugs." [For you whippersnappers out there, Pete Doherty

was a beloved WWF jobber of the mid- and late-80s, who went by the nickname "The Duke of Dorchester."]

Just to assure myself it was not, in fact, the same Pete Doherty that I was thinking of, I clicked the link.... and oh yeah, it turns out that guy who used to be in the Libertines is named Pete Doherty, too. I think I probably knew that. But the reason the article is #2 on all of Yahoo News is NOT because he was once in a marginally successful rock band. It's because he's on-again/off-again dating a marginal celebrity who ALSO has drug problems. [Kate Moss]

And somehow, this counts as news. I wish I could blame the media, but at some level, this is YOUR fault, Mediocrity Huggers. If demand retarded gossip you must, at least demand it of relevant A-list celebrities, OK? Don't settle for it from some untalented, uninteresting publicity whores who've already been eaten up and pooped out the backside of the pop culture digestive tract.

Then again, anything that knocks that headline about the People's Choice Awards down to #3 in the Entertainment Section of my news page is probably helping to keep me sane. The sooner that thing is gone, the better. I'm afraid to click on it, for it seems to be suggesting that "Star Wars" was named the Best Picture of 2005. And that can't be right. Can it?

I figure, given my opinion of the general American Populace's tastes, it's probably for the best I don't know what they awarded. It's enough to know that apparently the Rock did *not* win his award. Because if he had, I'm betting I'd have had about a billion e-mails about it by now. And I don't. Poor Rocky....

And Poor You Readers.... for today is a pretty freaking big news day, and I've pre-rambled about 100 words longer than I, strictly speaking, needed to. Here's the wrestling:

  • You were already warned on the main page that if you really, really don't want to know what happens on SmackDown! this week, you should take a pass on this column.
    Well, if you still clicked through, here's your last chance to jump to the next bullet point. Because this one has some pretty big surprises in it.
    OK, anybody still with me, you're proceeding of your own accord....
    Kurt Angle is the new World Heavyweight Champion. 
    Last night at SD! tapings, Batista surrendered the title and announced he'd be out of action for months with an arm injury. Reports are mixed, but some say they acknowledged it was a house show injury, others say that Batista attributed the injury to Mark Henry's attack on last week's SD!. In either case, WWE shot relatively straight with fans, and just had Batista forfeit the title.
    Then GM Teddy Long announced that the title would be vacant for less than 2 hours, as there would be a Battle Royale, and the winner would be named the new World Champ. It was something of a lackluster line-up in the Battle Royale -- Booker T remains injured, Chris Benoit/Randy Orton were disqualified from participating as they already competed in the US Title Rubber Match, and the Undertaker was not on hand. Of the first 19 men to enter the ring, JBL was the only one any fans would really recognize as a legit title threat, although many fans would probably hope and dream that WWE would do the smart thing and boost Rey Mysterio up to that level some day, too. But then the last man entered, and it was Kurt Angle. 
    No explanation was given as to why he was appearing on SD!. Apparently none was needed, as fans instantly exploded and treated Kurt like a pure babyface the entire match. Angle last eliminated (ugh) Mark Henry to win the Battle Royale and the World Title. So it looks to me like Angle didn't just inherit Batista's belt, he also inherited the feud with Henry.
    Dammit. At least we can rest fairly easy that it'll all be over after a token title match at the Royal Rumble.
    The move was certainly a shock to fans in Philly at the tapings, but I know that on Monday night, WWE knew that Batista would be flying back with bad news. [Note: Batista did not see Dr. James Andrews himself, as the good doctor had suffered a heart attack on Sunday. But Andrews has tons of other expert orthopedists at his practice in Birmingham.] The thought of sending a RAW guy over to SD! to win the title Batista would have to vacate was already being rolled around.
    For whatever it's worth, my understanding is Batista tried to fight this on Tuesday morning, and really wanted to be given the chance to work through his latest injury, too. But the severity of it simply meant that the quality of his work would suffer too much and the risk of more serious complications were too great. Management essentially made the choice for him, and Batista will have surgery on his arm within the week (last I heard, it'd be contingent upon when Dr. Andrews is able to perform the surgery himself, which could be as soon as late this week, or as late as next week). He will be sidelined till the summer.
    By the time third-hand info trickled down to me early on Tuesday, it seemed like a lot of people were adding in their own opinions, and had pre-ordained Kane or the Big Show as the likeliest RAW stars to go to SD! to compete for (and win) the World Title. Given that there were rumors not so long ago that SD! wanted to do a Batista/Kane title match at February's No Way Out PPV, that didn't seem out of the question.
    But then come tapings time, it was Kurt Angle who had gotten the call, and won the title. I had initially tried very hard to avoid the "spoiler," since I have my associates trained well to supply me with pertinent news from tapings while not divulging unnecessary bits of the on-screen product. But in this case, the line between "news" and "spoiler" was blurred, and it kind of became a moot point when I was told that WWE.com was gonna be reporting on it, anyway. Once I was told it'd require a virtual internet/e-mail black-out for 3 days to avoid being spoiled, I decided to go ahead and accept the information.
    And I gotta say: I was pleasantly surprised. Then again, I was pleasantly surprised when Edge won the WWE Title out of nowhere, too, and look where that ended up going just 24 hours later.
    Angle as SD!'s babyface champion opens up a whole lot of interesting alternatives. Well, not right away, of course; but after Mark Henry is dispatched. Almost immediately, when one tries to figure out "What to do with the SD! Title at WrestleMania?", the mind races to one (and only one) delicious possibility: Angle vs. Chris Benoit. Benoit did not win the US Title last night at tapings (per our discussion on Monday, he was pretty much iced out last week when WWE introduced the telegraphotastic "Booker owes Orton a favor" storyline). Which means Benoit's free and clear to take about a month to re-establish himself as bad-ass, and then get in line to challenge for the World Title against a man with whom he's never had a bad match. They don't need it, but if you want to complete the Wet Dream, you just add a stipulation. An IronMan Match (on the 10th anniversary of the first WWF IronMan Match at WM12) would be dandy, but maybe unwieldy. Something WWE only ever did once, and which I think is ripe to be done again is the Three Falls/Three Stips Triathlon Match.... it was Austin and HHH who did it, and I forget for sure what all three stips were, but each fall was conducted under different rules. For Benoit/Angle, I wouldn't really care what three stips you picked, but think it would be awesome if after 2 falls and 30 minutes, the last fall was conducted under Submission Match Rules. Hell, even just a Best of Three Falls Match, with all three falls via Submission Only (no DQ, no Count Out, too) would rock. 
    There's really no other alternative on SD! right now that would get anybody even remotely excited for SD!'s WM22 main event, as near as I can tell. SD!'s heels are in a bad way, right now... JBL gives it his all in promos and stuff but any attempt to push him as anything but an off-month PPV Title Challenger just exposes that he's out of gas in terms of Main Event Credibility; though I admit that as well as he and Angle clicked back about a year ago at this time when they were both heels but ended up in a bunch of matches against each other, JBL would make an ideal disposable off-month challenger to Angle at the February PPV. Orton's... well, he's Orton. And main event heels simply do not step into the ring against a talented opponent and have the fans chant "Boring" at him (which is what happened to Orton the past two weeks against Benoit, both times during Orton's interminable headlocks or chinlocks); there's still one or two more switches that need to be flipped into the "ON" position in Orton's head before he's got the tools to headline at WM. After that, Booker's pretty much #3 on the heel depth chart, but ummmm... even though I'm sure they'd put on a solid show, let's just say I'm skittish about putting those two back together given what happened the last time they were feuding.
    SD! wouldn't be turning to RAW to bring in Big Show and Kane to work as heels if they didn't already recognize the problem... and breaking it down now that fans have accepted Kurt as a face, the next leap of logic to make is that the SD! side of WM22 probably needs to be a face/face match. If Batista hadn't gotten hurt, I think it was a custom-made deal for Rey to step in and do a story that would pay homage to Eddie Guerrero... now that Angle's in the spot, instead, Rey doesn't fit so well, but Benoit does. And again -- especially with Benoit getting weekly "Eddie, Eddie" chants when he busts out the Three Amigos -- it's something that can be done with a Touch of Eddie, if it's deemed appropriate by those involved.
    This injury sucks for Batista, and I'm sure I speak for us all when I wish him the best for a full and speedy recovery... but on some level, his injury may have almost backed WWE into a corner where they HAVE to give us something cool at WM22. Cuz their options sure are limited. It's either give us something cool, or give us something that they know is lame just out of spite.
    One other aspect of this that COULD play into WM plans... Angle is still slated to face Shawn Michaels next Monday on RAW. WWE not only has to explain why Angle would be allowed to jump to SD!, but then they have to come up with a finish for the Michaels/Angle Rubber Match, which is now quite possibly a World Title Match. Just spitballing, but if Monday's match went to Yet Another Draw between the two, and if Michaels could somehow get his hands on the WWE Title before Mania, how would Michaels vs. Angle in a Title Unification Rubber Match sound to you?
    Highly intriguing but even More Highly Implausible, too, I know.... I have all my reasons for wanting to end the Brand Split, and a title unification would be the first step. But even with WWE unlikely to want to end the Split, what's really to say that a Unified Champion wouldn't be a good thing? The Single Champ becomes a floater, which means that your (ostensibly) Best Performer can be on both shows and draw ratings for both shows and perform on all PPVs. It creates more continuity between the brands, almost like a throwback to the World Champ who would travel among the territories while not being tied down to any one of them. And as an added bonus: the IC and US Titles would INSTANTLY rise in importance, as the de facto top brand-specific titles.
    Just something to think about as we sort out all the implications of Angle's jump and title win. It's really remarkable that we STILL have absolutely no concept of what to expect come WM22, but for the second time in a week, WWE's given us a reason to get our minds racing about the possibilities.
    Think about it: Cena and Batista each reigned for over 9 months. Nine uninspired months, for the most part. Cena's only real compelling threat to his title was Angle, just lately. Batista's only real compelling threat was HHH, right at the start of his reign. Everything else the two have done has been largely tepid, unconvincing feuds where their title reigns have not seemed in jeopardy. It says nothing good about WWE's day-to-day creative efforts with regards to episodic storytelling, but it's still kinda fun that after 9 months of stagnation, BOTH brands get turned upside down by having their champs lose their titles to somebody who wasn't even in the title picture on the night of the title changes.
    WWE's last nine months won't stand as a monument to Intelligent Intriguing Storytelling... but those last nine months laid the foundation for the last 3 days, which WILL stand as a monument to Trying To Pull Something Surprising Out Of Our Asses.
    Let's just hope that WWE doesn't Edgify Angle when he gets on TV for the first time with the title. It's actually a bit less important for Angle to make a great first impression than it was for Edge, since fans already accept Angle as a main eventer.... but that still doesn't mean that he can go on TV and declare that the only thing he cares about after winning the title is having sex with Booker T's wife. That'd put Angle's title reign pretty much right back in the toilet bowl, where Edge's currently resides. 
    More than anything, I guess what I'm hoping for is that they have a decent explanation for why Angle was allowed to jump over to SD!. Sadly, whatever explanation they offer PROBABLY has to go through Vince McMahon, since RAW still hasn't bothered to assign a new GM, yet, but hopefully it won't be anything too retarded. 
    And I think that's about all I have to say about Batista, Angle, and the SD! Title Situation. Sorry if this was a bit disjointed, but I did want to try to find a way to squeeze it all into one (hopefully cogent and well-organized) bullet point, just as a service to those who want to avoid the Spoilers.
    Although I think my thoughtfulness is probably for naught. I really don't know how any wrestling fan who spends more than 10 minutes a day on the net isn't gonna hear about this... I also think it's funny that WWE.com spoiled it themselves. It really is a testament to the mindset within the company being one of desperation. When things are going well, WWE would shoot this angle and not mention it, and just take comfort in the fact that 5 million people would watch and enjoy and be surprised by the show on Friday night.... but WWE is at a place now where they are very insecure about the week-to-week product delivering the ratings they want, and so they announce this major surprise as a way of goosing fans to watch the show to see an all-too-rare World Title Change. 
    It's a minor and subtle thing, but I think it pretty well highlights that for whatever Brave Face WWE puts on in terms of stubbornly sticking to their vision for the product, the last couple months of downright-mutinous fan responses have FORCED them to realize (somewhere deep in their insecure little McMahon/Hollywood Writer Monkey hearts) there MIGHT be something off-kilter with the product, and they MIGHT be losing touch with what the fans want to see. And so weird little hiccups start to show up, like Edge winning the title or WWE.com's decision to (in the absence of Spoiler Boy Eric Bischoff on Nitro) lure some percentage of its internet-reading audience to actually watch SD! this week by spoiling a title change. It's like, lacking self-confidence and self-esteem, WWE has turned into a spastic second grader who wants to make everybody like him, but has no idea how to really go about that, so he settles for forcing everybody to at least PAY ATTENTION to him by jumping around and doing all kinds of crazy shit.
    These are, needless to say, strange times to live in for wrestling fans. Nine months of stagnation, and now, when we should be hitting the WrestleMania Groove, all of a sudden, we have two new champs, both out of left field. Wild.
  • Some potentially disastrous news: Monday's RAW did a 4.3 cable rating. Basically, that's the second best number the show's done since returning to USA Network. And it came for a show that peaked at "OK" (during the anchor tag match), spent most of its time loitering around "boring as hell," and which toyed with being embarrassingly bad at times. 
    And yet, WWE receives positive reinforcement for its efforts. Goddammit. Here's hoping that the remember: RATINGS ARE NOT INDICATIVE, THEY ARE REFLEXIVE. Because "Dr. Heinie" did decent numbers for them, but 2 weeks later, and RAW's numbers were embarking upon a month of ratings just as bad as where they were before they left SpikeTV.
    To some extent, RAW's ratings on Monday indicate a simple interest among wrestling fans to see Edge's first night as champ. That was a surprise, they read about it on the internet or heard about it from friends, and they wanted to see what was going on. So they showed up almost in as great of numbers as they did for the Homecoming Show. Now: how entertained they were, whether they LIKED what they saw? You can't get any concept of that from the 4.3 rating; you won't know about that until next week, when you find out whether they come back for more.
    One possible sign in WWE's favor (and much to the detriment of us fans): the highest rated segment of the show was the over-run with Edge and Lita's Live Sex Acts. Which means that despite the spirit-sappingly dull half-hour leading into that, the promise of Live Sex was enough to entice viewers to show up in droves. I can only assume that Monday, January 9, 2006, was "Let Your Functionally Retarded Family Member Handle the Remote Control Day" and I just somehow didn't get the memo.
    Monday's over-run did a 5.2 rating, which I'm pretty sure is the first 5.0 or better that RAW's done in a while; I don't THINK they broke that barrier for anything on Homecoming (though they came close and hovered near 5.0 for long stretches), so you probably have to go back to the Draft Lottery episodes, or maybe even back to the Road to WM21.
    I have no faith that WWE will take anything away from this other than the notion that "The Stupider We Make the Show, The More People Will Watch." The only problem is that just as recently as October, they tried this EXACT tack, and within weeks, ratings were back in the crapper. It won't be any different this time. Vince McMahon's idea of Shock TV might be good for 1 or 2 weeks of ratings, but then people realize "This is awful," and they go away again. Three months later, maybe Shock TV works again; for 1 or 2 weeks. Then people realize it's stupid and go away again. This is not the path to success WWE should be pursuing.... but watch as they don't let my advice stop them from trying.
    You can, of course, judge for yourself just how bad things were, if you get the full report from Monday's show in the OO RAW Recap. Which, if I do say so myself, is hands-down the Best RAW Recap of 2006 (to date). A real dandy. Well worth your 10 minutes, no matter how bad you might have thought the show itself was.... check it out.
  • A quick little Theory Blurb, partially related to Monday's RAW.... because especially after word got out (I dunno when, but at some point yesterday) about RAW's ratings, a certain element of my readership hit hyperdrive with their e-mails about how Monday's RAW was entertaining and funny and they just KNEW it was gonna do a good rating, and LOOK, it did do a good rating, so you better watch it with the hating on a fun show, Scaia, cuz you're turning into Scott Keith.
    Well, good for you, folks.... I actually don't think I ever predicted the show wouldn't do good ratings (on the contrary, even in the recap, I put in a snide remark about how the lure of Live Sex Acts was probably going to end up being strong enough to keep people tuned in through the lame Shelton/Kane matches that preceded it). But that doesn't take away from my firmly-held stance that there's a huge chasm between "good ratings" and "good TV."
    On one level, just re-read the last bullet point about Shock TV being only a short-term ratings booster. Then people get sick of it and leave.
    But on another level, there's a serious divide between how different fans even define "a good wrestling TV show," and it makes the correlation to ratings an even tougher one to figure out.
    There are, out there, purists. People who can import tapes from Japan, and honestly enjoy a product where they don't understand a word being said. People who buy ROH Tapes, and don't even see shortcomings in production or personalities or storytelling, because they have OMG WORKRATE~! I am not one of these people, and you have my word on that.
    Which means that this other class of people apparently see me -- if I'm as "normal" and "mainstream" in my tastes as I claim to be -- as being "one of them." Problem is, "they" go all the way to the other extreme, and don't just accept the Hollywoodization of WWE and Vince McMahon's Shitty Sense Of Humor.... they EMBRACE it. It's part of the beloved schlock value of the show, and if I don't get it through my head that THIS IS WHAT WRESTLING'S REALLY ALL ABOUT, then I'm the one who doesn't "get it."
    But you folks need to get it out of your heads that I'm "one of you," or that I'll ever become one of you. In fact, I think you're even more loathesome than the tape-trading, ROH-loving indie wonks.... at least they are working hard and going out of their way to support something they genuinely love. But by pussing out and saying, "Hey, lookit me, I'm a good little consumer, and I recognize that the last 20 months of WWE's product is a perfect representation of Vince McMahon's vision for the wrestling business, and rather than have standards of my own, I shall just accept his," you are lazily chomping down on a readily-available, nationally-televised turd sandwich.
    There's something at least halfway-noble about a small group of fans who'll go to extremes to watch and advocate for some fringe product... there's nothing noble about saying, "Hey, I recognize that wrestling in 2006 is SUPPOSED to be cheesy and bad, which means WWE's doing it right, and I still love it, and anybody who doesn't has lost touch. Unlike me, who Gets It and realizes the that quality of the product is based entirely on what depths of stupidity it can sink to." Your best defense is admitting that you like something that's kinda lame? Sorry. Bzzt. Try again. 
    Simple test: would you -- all you mighty Post-Modern Wrestling Thinkers Who Totally Get And Understand The Nuances Of WWE's Intentional Schlock Factor -- be any less entertained or any less of a fan if Dr. Heinie hadn't shown up in October? Or if Edge's title reign hadn't been torpedoed by a pointless Live Sex Act? Or other such incidents of purest dumbness? The answer is "no." If they never happened, you couldn't possibly miss them because they were superfluous and not, in any way, related to the core product. You wouldn't even KNOW to miss them, because you couldn't, even under the influence of LSD, conceive of them taking place to begin with.
    Contrast this with the inverse of the question.... would I -- and other like-minded fans who I suspect represent a slightly-closer version of the "normal" wrestling fan -- be any less deeply annoyed and frustrated if those things didn't happen? The answer is a resounding "YES." Because I don't like things that suck.
    So put it all together, and what do you have? An equation that reveals that a little bit of self-censorship and filtering (to remove the truly shitty ideas from WWE TV) would result in not a single one of you existing fans and Lovers of Mediocrity being any less entertained than you already are.... but which would also result in a product a lot more palatable to normal/casual fans who haven't yet ascended to your Metaphysical Understanding Of Why WWE's Cheesiness Is To Be Celebrated Instead of Mocked.
    Nobody's saying strip away the Entertainment. I'm just saying MAKE IT ENTERTAINING. Anybody who's been reading me for any amount of time knows that I likes me the funny, I likes me some mystery, and hell, I even made myself sick when I got engrossed in the infamous RAW Love Rhombus. But all these things -- none of which has a damned thing to do with workrate -- are things that must be integrated into a show with Deft Storytelling (something which is a serious, serious problem with WWE at this point, and I'm sick of even trying to pussyfoot around that fact) and Talented Performers (which is something else that might be an issue, since WWE Management has alienated many of the performers with the abilities to do the kinds of Genuinely Entertaining Things I'm talking about, all while calling up and pushing uncharismatic stiffs like Masters).
    "Shock TV" and things that are purposely stupid (or however it is you morons out there defend your love/understanding of the "modern day WWE product") do NOT represent viable ways to interject the "entertainment" into the Sports Entertainment equation.
    I find it kind of ironic that I'm trying to define and defend this Middle Ground, but it (especially after this Monday's RAW, and my e-mail tilting towards the "it's good if wrestling's bad, and you have to embrace it, Rick" tone) feels like I'm taking a bit of a snooty, high-brow stance.... which is normally the opposite of where I end up in debates like this.
    I remember a few years ago... well, maybe more than a few, I was still in school, but I was trying to integrate myself into some newsgroup or forum dedicated to "The Simpsons," and I just found myself deeply annoyed by the idiots there, and I gave up after a few weeks. 
    This would have been maybe 7 years ago... right around Seasons 9 and 10 for the Simpsons, which was the last time you could consistently count on almost every week to be really, really funny. And because I thought the show was still funny, I wanted to join in the discussion. Only to find that 90% of the people having the discussion thought the show hadn't been funny since Season 3. [Which is odd, since I didn't think the show got funny till roughly Season 4.] They had all these stupid notions about how the show needed to be more realistic, and have less zany plot twists, and honor continuity a bit better. And I just sat there in awe, wanting to say, "IT'S JUST A FUCKING CARTOON, JERKS!".
    In my head, "cartoon" means "fake," and I can let all manner of continuity errors and shoddy character development and all kinds of other things slide so long as I -- you know? -- LAUGH AT THE JOKES. And here I was faced with people (more often than not, these types don't call them "The Simpsons," but rather "Our Favorite Family") who were deeply offended that Homer increasingly seemed like an unrealistic buffoon rather than a loving-if-slightly-dysfunctional father. You mean: HE ACTED LIKE A CARTOON CHARACTER?!?!? Oh, the horror!
    Now flash forward about 7 years, and it feels like there's a growing movement out there who feel like shouting "IT'S JUST WRESTLING, JERK!" at me, as if I've crossed over into the realm of taking things too seriously. And all I can say to that is that if you're going to equate wrestling with a cartoon, then we really don't see eye to eye, and never will.
    I don't need my wrestling to be "real," nor do I need to have it come off as a true, competitive sport. But when you have performers who essentially are the same people in the ring as they are out of it (with a few gimmicky exceptions), not aspiring to some semblance of compellingly plausible, internally-logical realism represents a serious missed opportunity. And in some ways, represents a disrespect for the hard work that goes into the core of the product.
    Look at it this way: Homer Simpson takes all kinds of wacky "bumps" in a given week, but you meet the Voice of Homer Simpson, and the only danger his job has put him in is danger of Snacking Too Heavily while sitting in a studio recording dialogue all day. But Kurt Angle takes all kinds of wacky bumps, and then if you meet Kurt Angle, he's still the guy who took all those wacky bumps. Frankly, your logic dictates that you could go up to Real Kurt Angle and tell him, "Hey, it's HILARIOUS to me that you're saying all these stupid things and wanting to fuck another man's wife and all, because you're just like a cartoon character to me and I think it's awesome." And then my logic dictates that if Real Kurt Angle wanted to slap your stupid little face, he'd be well within his rights to do so.
    Wrestling is not -- at its best -- a cartoon or a dumping ground for intentionally bad schlock or Shock TV crap. And I think that the McMahons, at some level, know this, because they've presented vast stretches of TV that came close to being wrestling at its best. Albeit, none in the last 20 months. If we're not getting it today, I don't think it's so much that WWE has willfully redefined itself as "aspiring to be purposely cheesy" as some of you Deep Thinkers posit. I think it's just because aspiring to what everybody KNOWS is an Actually Good Product is, like, hard work and stuff. And without competition, why bother? So instead, we've been treated to a snowball effect where, just for shits and giggles, Vince McMahon's little stupid fetishes have taken over the product, because they're easy to throw in and there's no competition to re-focus him on once again having good ideas (which he's obviously quite capable of having). Amplifying the problem, in the absence of outside competition, the fortification of Inside Yes Men has made it impossible for anybody to crack the "Stay The Course, There's Nothing Wrong" Facade that WWE's top echelon puts up.
    I realize that my "tiny" Theory Blurb has spilled out of control.... but I think this is good stuff. Discussion fodder for some of you, anyway... this should help you out to bring a better-thought-out next-generation version of your thesis of why WWE's cheesiness is good, and I'm losing touch if I don't accept it. Knock yourselves out.
  • Something else about Monday's RAW.... I mentioned in the recap that the reason RAW went to a black screen for 5 seconds was because Lita's nipple was exposed, and USA Network used the delay to black it out.
    Well, I'm here to tell you that if there was ANYthing accidental about Lita's Nip Slip, I'll eat a bug.
    An helpful reader from the UK -- where they don't view an exposed nipple as the root of all evil in the world -- sent along an uncensored video clip. It looks to me like Lita was practically waiting there with the sheet half-lifted until she knew the cameraman had gotten his 2 second glimpse. I'm serious.
    And it would make sense, too. In "WWE Think," anyway. They probably thought they'd be able to sneak it past the USA censors, and thus, even though everything else about the segment torpedoed Edge's character and accomplished nothing useful, fans would walk away thinking "Holy Shit! I saw a nipple on free TV! AWESOME~!" And to WWE: that's a win, baby.

    Promise Live Sex Acts from your two supposedly horniest, freakiest characters, and then you deliver 2 minutes of incompetent-looking fumbling-under-the-covers and exactly one (1) nipple, and somehow, that's a satisfying pay-off. Huh. I must just really not remember what it was like to be 15.
    I would gladly serve up the video file, but (a) my bandwidth allotment is already pretty strained at the end of a regular month, and (b) my understanding is that WWE is actually going around threatening websites that post stills/video of their copyrighted telecast. And frankly, I don't have the time nor inclination to deal with that.
    In fact, I think the meanest thing I can do to WWE is to dismiss their attempted fabrication of controversy as a non-story, and just move on. It was 2 seconds of a nipple, people. Just look down: you have two of your own that you can look at for as long as you want.
  • Best Fantasy Booking Idea I've Gotten In E-Mail The Last Two Days: Steven Richards must bring back the RTC, to rail against Vince's Filth Parade and Exposed Nipples and So Forth.
    I don't know about the make-up of Right To Censor 2006, but as long as Ivory's involved, I'd support the idea. You see, what nobody realizes about these silly Bra and Panties Matches is that if we're all already seeing the girls half-naked every week, it does absolutely NOTHING if you promise them 10% more naked in a match. But if Ivory goes around for 4 months, showing us nothing but exposed forearm, it makes the eventual display of that sweet, sweet ass something worth cheering for. I'm still convinced that the WWF never came close to doing enough with the RTC 2001 version of Ivory.
    One fly in the ointment if you bring back Richards and the RTC to be upset over Lita's nipple? Then that would sort of make Edge the babyface in the feud, which I don't think is WWE's intent.
    That could get kind of sticky. I think maybe I just like the idea because it would mean bringing back Ivory. Which not only increases to 4 the number of ring-capable women on the roster, but which also would practically necessitate a long-term, slow-burning storyline which ends with Ivory mostly nekkid on PPV. And that'd be GREAT! 
    Yes, folks, try as you might, you cannot ever know with certainty what the Mighty Paradox That Is The Rick will endorse.....
  • Last weekend's TNA did a 0.9 rating, up a tick from its usual average. Not enough of a deviation to warrant a big to-do, but again, were TNA to get its rating up to a 1.0 and then deliver that with consistency, there are many who believe that Spike TV would roll the dice, and give TNA a Monday night prime-time slot, at least partially-head-to-head with RAW. 
    And that is when things could get interesting. Because even if the ratings race isn't close, if TNA takes even 20% of RAW's audience away, it'll get somebody's attention, and the sense of competition alone would make us fans the winners. Think about it: WWE is forced to finally make strides in the areas in which TNA smokes them (in the ring), and TNA will keep busting ass to get better at the things WWE does lots better (storytelling and entertainment value)...  both shows get better, maybe both shows even end up getting good enough to the point where they grow the overall audience for wrestling, instead of just tussling over the same roughly 5.0 cable ratings points worth of fans who seem to be paying attention these days.
    Even a Monday Night "War" where RAW beats TNA 4.5 to 2.0 every week would be an INCREDIBLE victory for all involved. Fans would almost certainly be getting stronger shows, WWE's ratings would stabilize at a point higher than they've had in over 3 years, and TNA would double its audience and be solid ratings-producer for Spike. 
    Of course: first TNA must convince Spike it's worth the risk. There's still a little bit more growing to be done on Saturday nights, but there are people on both sides of the TNA/Spike fence who'd like to see this happen.
  • Last thing, to some folks who got snippy with my comments about the Dudleys' speech on Impact, and how I referenced the "TNA Tag Titles"....
    OK, OK, I hear you. They are the "NWA Tag Titles." Or even the "NWA World Tag Titles," to some of you... but let's be realistic here. There is no NWA, people. There hasn't been since Turner bought Crockett out. The "NWA" is a name that is going on 15 years of being irrelevant. 
    [Christ, I really am a man without a country; one column, and I'm pissing off suck-loving, post-modern WWE lemmings AND the hardcore wrestling tradtionalists.]
    So sometimes, I slip up. There is no "NWA," not even in name, without TNA. There stands zero chance that anybody outside of TNA will ever win those NWA Titles.... so if AMW hold the "TNA Tag Titles" or Jarrett is the "TNA Champion," I don't think I'm really misspeaking too badly. The titles being defended in TNA basically have lineages that are 3 and a half years old, and that's that.
    It's not a value judgment, it's sort of a pragmatic observation about how things really are, instead of how some VERY tiny group of obsessed purists would like things to be. And I'm an Equal Opportunity Pragmatist, too: it's no different with WWE's "World" Title, which has no actual lineage (in my mind) that dates back past when it was handed to HHH out of nowhere.
    So when you take a look at what the "TNA Tag Titles" are and where they've been and what they mean... well, I stand by every word I said about the Dudleys' speech being more likely to convince fans the Dudleys had come DOWN a notch than it was likely to bring the TNA titles UP a notch. Which is not a good thing.
  • That's about all I got for today. I'm pretty sure, unless major news strikes, I'll not do a regular column on Friday. But one of the next two days, I *will* put the icing on the Year In Review Cake.... I've been as much of a gentleman as I can be, but it appears that Erin Anderson will not be playing along this year, so I guess I've been sitting here holding the door open for her for the past week or so for what turns out to be no reason. That'll learn me to try to have manners! I'll finally just publish my ballot one of the next two days, and then the Big Finale, where I tabulate the Overall Winners in each category, will follow.
    Should be interesting, since some of the top categories are gonna be VERY tightly contested.
    So you've got that to look forward to, plus a preview of Sting's return to PPV with TNA this weekend, and other stuff, too. Come on back, early and often, folks....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
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
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
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?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
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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