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Goldrush Tourney 2?, plus TNA Confirms
Timeslot, Foley, Jack Black, ECW, and MORE! 
February 6, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Remember about 2 weeks ago when I compared this year's Super Bowl match-up to a soccer world finals between fifth-rate world powers that nobody cares about, because the only thing they're apparently good at is fricking soccer? Well, if you don't, I just reminded you.

And as tends to be the case, 10 days after I say something, it becomes a popular "talking point" for idiots who can't come up with fresh material of their own. I guess market research was indicating "Seattle vs. Pittsburgh" had about as much Ratings Appeal as the Thrilling Return of "Joey" to the NBC line-up, and it became a bit of a running theme on ESPN towards the end of last week. I 

even remember two different ESPN "pundits" (that's Rick Secret Code for "fucktards") making the same joke that ABC was begging the NFL to put an Indianapolis vs. New England game on the "undercard" to the Super Bowl, since that's the one game that everybody wanted to see in the play-offs.

Other pundits, however, went another route, and tried to drum up interest in the Big Game by nattering on and on and on about how "this might not be the dream match-up of popular, high-profile teams that a lot of fans wanted to see, but you need to respect what Seattle and Pittsburgh accomplished this season, and I think what you'll see on Sunday will be an incredibly exciting and well-played game, regardless." Hoooo-kay... so once I started hearing all that pretentious whining from douches with a vested interest in making the Super Bowl into something other than Just A Game, I rescinded my Soccer Mocking. Instead, the Super Bowl had, thanks to the "respect the accomplishments and it'll be a well-played game, so please watch" theme, become more like an AJ Styles vs. Alex Shelley match to me. OK, so yes: it'll be well-executed. But you still haven't told me why the hell I should care when two non-entities from Off The Radar end up paired off in the alleged-biggest-showdown-of-the-year. I fricking hate it when people ignore the importance of the Intangible Sizzle Factor (and hate it worse when they think they can trick idiots into believing the Sizzle Factor is actually there, when it isn't).

Funny thing is, driving home after the game last night (well, DURING the game, but after Seattle's punt with about 6 minutes to go where they essentially had no chance in hell), I realized that Styles/Shelley was WAAAAYY wrong for that game. Cuz it was anything but well-executed and crisp. It was, to be honest, downright sloppy and hacky at times. If football has "workrate fans," they didn't get much of anything to hang their hat on last night. But what they did get was enough gimmickry and storylines (shut UP about fucking Bettis, already!) that you still ended up perversely entertained. 

That's right: if Super Bowl XL were a wrestling match, it sure as hell wouldn't be Benoit/Angle (or even Styles/Shelley).... it would be a Shane McMahon Sports Entertainment Schmozz-a-thon. And Randle-El throwing the game-clinching touchdown pass would be the "Van Terminator" that provided the icing on the cake.

Online Onslaught dot com: proving that we can equate wrestling to ANY seemingly-random subject since 2003! On with today's really big shoe: 

  • Tonight's RAW is... well, to be honest, I've ended up being kind of intrigued by the prospects, just 7 days after a show that I thought was ten kinds of clunky.
    Part of the reason for that is WWE has, over the week, clarified the sloppy and (likely) mis-executed ending of last week's show in which Lita whapped Edge with a steel chair. The spot, in execution, looked like Lita just wound up and blatantly hit Edge with the chair for Reasons Unknown, although all the reactions (including from the announcers) seemed to suggest a different intention, that Lita didn't mean to do it, and it was probably an accident. The disconnect really robbed the moment of any visceral drama or excitement. At least: it did for me. But I'm an asshole that way.
    Then, both on "Byte This" and on house shows this weekend, WWE played it up that Edge and Lita were splitsville after the incident. Which, frankly, given the way the spot looked on replays, is the ONLY way you should go unless we're to believe Edge is stupid and gullible. Once you open up the floodgates for Edge/Lita drama, you also move towards the "ideal" scenario I laid out when spit-balling at the end of the RAW Recap, which is that YES Lita did it on purpose, and all as part of a plot she hatched with Edge in order to protect him from losing in his One Title Rematch.
    Of course, you don't come right out with that; instead, you have Edge be pissed at Lita for the chairshot, and you have Lita say "Well, I didn't really mean to do it, but what the fuck? You've abandoned me to get F-U'ed like three times so far in 2006, and you had it coming, Edgeward." Things could get tense, Cena could even come to Lita's rescue (since he seems like the kind of toolbox fratboy who'd call a girl a slut one second, but then want to hook up with her the second she was available to him), and when Edge asks for (and receives) a re-rematch (because remember, he BEAT Cena last week, albeit via DQ), the trap is sprung. Perhaps at Saturday Night's Main Event?
    Best part is, if you play things up this way, Edge could conceivably be booked to win. Which is the sort of character-saving swerve I'd really like to see WWE do. Just because if you honestly think that Triple H vs. Cena is going to work as a WM main event (at least, without a double turn leading into it), you're deluding yourself, and keeping Edge in the mix would be LOTS more interesting to me. [Note: this is not happening, I'll tell you why in a second, but let me have my moment of Imagining a WM22 That Doesn't Blow, dammit!]
    Anyway: look for Edge/Lita drama tonight, and look for it to also tangentially involve Cena, since I think the upshot of last week, now, is that Edge'll still get another shot at Homey the Clown.
    But the one thing that Edge WON'T get is the title shot at WrestleMania. Either he'll be the champ (no, he won't), or he'll be on the sidelines. Because tonight, RAW starts an eight-man tournament to determine the WM #1 Contender. And Edge isn't included. It's sort of odd that the tourney has 5 faces and 3 heels, and Cena's (allegedly) a babyface champ, but whatever...
    So another reason tonight's kind of interesting to me is because we're guaranteed 4 pretty-big-seeming wrestling matches, as they do the first round of the tourney. Well, 3 very promising matches, and one involving Chris F. Masters. The pairings are:
    Rob Van Dam vs. Carlito
    Kane vs. Chris F. Masters
    Triple H vs. Ric Flair
    Shawn Michaels vs. Big Show
    HHH/Flair and Michaels/Show should both just be rock-solid TV matches and better than anything RAW served up last week. And we'll know how much of RVD's performance last week was Ring Rust and how much was Snitsky's Suck after tonight, too: RVD/Carlito is a match I've definitely been eye-balling since last June, and I'm surprised it's happening so soon. I'm just hoping Van Dam is feeling ready to hold up his end of the bargain, cuz if he does, that match might even steal the show.
    Kane/Masters will, however, be a guaranteed chore to watch. At least it should be short. A second over 4 minutes would be a mistake; a second over 6 would be a crime.
    In addition to the fact that I think 3 of the matches should be really entertaining, I also don't really know what'll happen in 2 of them. It's a nice little bit of uncertainty and ambiguity. I figure HHH is a lock because.... well, just because. And there's no way they drop the hammer on RVD's comeback, so he's winning, too. But the other pair of matches? Dunno.
    Michaels could beat Show to give us the VERY enticing HHH/Michaels match-up in the semi-finals next week; those two haven't done jack-shit with each other in over a year, and I could go for another taste of that Clique gOOdness that always seems to happen when the buddies form Voltron to make sure they each look like a million bucks. But Vince and Shane McMahon could also screw Michaels out of the win this week, advancing that storyline, and giving HHH the chance to re-smite both of his most recent rivals (Flair and Show) en route to establishing his WM Main Event Resume.
    And Kane/Masters? I'd hope Kane, but I'd fear Masters; I'd say that at least adds up to me having a markish Rooting Interest in the match, but we'd all know I was lying. RVD/Kane really is the more enticing semi-final match-up because of their past on-screen partnership (and past on-screen feuding), but this is the same WWE Writer Monkey Team who can't sustain a cogent thought about Carlito and CFM's poorly-written and schizophrenic partnership/feud for more than one week at a stretch, so expecting them to bust out and RVD/Kane goodness is probably a fantastical imaginary scenario. In fact, it might be more likely that Carlito and Masters will magically be buddies again this week, and Carlito could help Masters win. Or something. I dunno. Which is kind of the point: match could go either way, I figure. Though in this case, I'll only be happy with the outcome if it comes after a pleasantly-brief abomination to the wrestling gods.
    Beyond all that's contained within these four matches -- which includes the Michaels/McMahons storyline possibly playing in, and also the embryonic Flair/Shelton feud which could be a sidebar to Flair losing to HHH -- and the Edge/Lita/Cena drama, there's really not gonna be a whole lot of time to fill up, I don't think. Two of those matches should be 12-minutes-plus, and by the time you make sure to give the McMahons some face time, and do a lengthy promo/skit with Edge/Lita, you're probably down to having -- at most -- two segments to fill up.
    Which is fine, because there's really only one other going-concern that deserves TV time, and that's the Trish Stratus/Mickie James thing. Which now includes Diva Search Ashley directically in the middle (and holding her own the past couple weeks, especially her pitch-perfect mic work last week on RAW). I think they've re-introduced the idea that Ashley could eventually get frustrated with Trish's unwillingness to just tell Mickie to fuck off (hell, *I* might begin to get frustrated soon; everybody likes a girl who's decent and caring, but at some point, you just cut and run on a lost cause, and who cares if you do damage to Mickie's already-broken psyche?) and do a semi-heel turn. That was a pet-notion of mine going back a month or so, anyway, although now we're getting to the point where time is of the essence, and we DO need to have Mickie perpetrate some act of hideousness upon Trish.
    I won't like it, as it shall cause my Trish Sympathy Gene to overload, but it's necessary to make sure this feud builds up to its full potential come WM22. We need less vaguely bi-sexual creepiness, a la "Single White Female," and more Annie Wilkes flipping out and hobbling her hero "for his own good," a la "Misery." Because one of those movies kicks all kinds of ass, and the other one is a pretty cheesy bit of schlock that you only watch if you flip past it by accident and you think it's near one of the parts where one of the chicks gets naked. [Note: this method of watching TV is also the only way I have even the vaguest notion of the basic plots of such other crapfests as "Doc Hollywood" or "Swordfish." Don't pretend you haven't done the same exact thing! And probably more than once! In the last week, alone! Liars.]
    Anyway: less screwing around, clouding the minds of socially-awkward pubescents with hints of lesbianism because the Hollywood Writer Monkeys have really bad taste in movies. More following the patently-obvious and foolproof blueprint set forth in a much superior movie, even if that one featured a girl and a guy, instead of two girls. It works perfectly either way, and I just hope that the monkeys get over that little perceptual block.
    Beyond that, there's not much else RAW needs to do tonight.... four tourney matches, some Edge/Lita/Cena stuff, a McMahon appearance, and then Trish/Ashley/Mickie for a segment, and you're pretty full-up. Maybe only room for one other throw-away match/segment (probably oughta go to Shelton if he's gonna win the IC Title soon), and that's all she wro....
    AHHHHHH SHIT! I also just remembered that WWE is heavily hyping something else for tonight. Practically putting it right on par with the #1 Contender Tourney, in terms of promotion.
    That's right: tonight, un-cut alternate versions of Candice Michelle's newest commercial will be unveiled!
    And if any part of that last sentence intrigues or excites you, you need to promise me you'll never have sex, and if you do, you'll eat your young. For the good of all mankind. We're trying to have a civilization here, and YOU are not helping.
    Although: this makes two years in a row, now, which I believe could justify a Name Change for Candice.... it's time that she become "Titties McSuperbowl"! Who's with me? I think WWE's even got her a spot on Leno this week to talk about being a Super Bowl Commercial Phenom. Wow, what a score for Leno. That's just like getting the Budweiser Frogs 51 weeks after we all collectively stopped giving a shit. That's why he's the King of Being A Sacless Unfunny Corporate Whore Who's Not Been Watchable Since the Late 80s! Being pedestrian and predictable doesn't make you #1 in the ratings; doing whatever it takes to score the BIG STARS is what makes you #1.
    And anyway, I think with that topic covered, NOW that's all she wrote for tonight's RAW. One easily FF-able segment aside, there is promise and potential here. Let us hope that WWE does not Chris Masters it up.
    Regardless, I will be here tomorrow with the RAW Recap, which you all know will live up to its promise and potential.
  • Going back to catch up on the weekend's wrestling shows...
    SmackDown on Friday scored a 2.7 rating, which is yet another dip, which makes 3 weeks in a row of sub-3 ratings for SD!. They bounced back nicely after the holidays and did a strong number for Angle's unexpected return, but after that: they've lost about a half-point's worth of viewers. There's no real good way to spin that. 
    Well, except to say that even if it's doing worse than it did, it's still one of the most-watched Friday night shows among the under-35 demographic, and especially with teens. Which is always how WWE likes to spin it. Because who cares if you're not as good as you could be, so long as (according to very specific, limited criteria) you can say "Hey, we're still doing better than the fucking Ghost Whisperer among teens!"? That's just how WWE rolls...
    I digress. I got around to watching this show last night after the Super Bowl, and was neither pleased nor displeased. I think that, from a wrestling perspective, you got a couple really pleasant little morsels: neither MNM/Mexicools nor Benoit/Finlay was really long or epic, but both were very entertaining. At least to me. I'm telling you: it's fashionable to rag on Finlay for being old and having no business shoehorning his way into a return, but the simple fact is that every second he's been in the ring so far on SD! exposes the fact that he's more entertaining than the vast majority of WWE's under-experienced call-ups. I'm not saying you can make an entire company out of 50-year-old fireplugs, but the simple fact is that Finlay's success so far (in terms of actually getting crowd reactions, if not to his ring entrances, than to his ACTUAL MOVESET) is a testament to there being something to be said for experience instead of calling up some 21-year-old ass-injecting punk in the hopes that he'll magically get over and you can ride him for two decades longer than you got to ride the Stone Cold express or the Batista train or any of the other stars who really only find their comfort zone in their mid-30s.
    Beyond that, though, I was usually left fluctuated between pissed off and bored. Orton and Mark Henry together as a tag team? And in a 20 minute main event match? Zzzzzzzz. Or: as is possible with a DVR recording and knowing full well that you also want to get "Impact" watched before midnight, you can avert sleepiness with the Fast Forward Button. Seriously: even at 4x speed (which is the slowest FF I have, and the one I tend to use when FF'ing matches), Orton's use of chinlocks was annoying. And Mark Henry was still less mobile than Big Show is at Normal Speed.
    The "pissed off-ed-ness" came mostly from the on-going use of the Ghost of Eddie Guerrero as a character. And yes, I do admit that it just feels a little sleazy, but my argument (as is usually the case) is not that I feel offended or anything. It's WWE's company, they can do what they want, and as long as Eddie's wife is cashing the t-shirt checks, I'm betting she's probably told WWE to do whatever they want... and it's not OUR role to be indignant or offended on behalf of those who actually knew Eddie.
    But I can just see this backfiring. Can see the fans turning on Rey. Because they're totally willing to accept and buy into what Eddie meant to Rey during Eddie's life... but they aren't willing to accept that Rey is going to spend the next two months attributing his success to Eddie's on-going Supernatural Involvement. It's hard to explain, and I didn't quite do it clearly there, but trust me: Rey would be SO much better served to never use the low-rider again, to never directly reference Eddie, and to just let THE FANS dictate how much of Rey's wins and motivation to attribute to his late friend.  Put a Frog Splash or an Eddie Shimmy-Shake Dance into a match, and the fans'll pop like mad because they know Rey's in the moment. Put lame-ass, supernatural, writer-y words in Rey's mouth, though, and fans can just tell it's not genuine. And it won't click. Or sizzle.
    Then again, how telling is it that even as Rey was doing his over-wrought, uncomfortable-to-watch, cheesy dialogue with the Ghost of Eddie, that lame-ass, stilted writer-y-ness provided the impetus for Randy Orton to come out and give his best, most intense promo since the Foley Feud? Randall Orton: unable to generate an iota of genuine or spontaneous personality, but able to slather a healthy layer of "douchebag" on any cheap prepared material you hand him. And you better believe that Orton delivered the line about Eddie watching on from hell (instead of heaven) with extra relish, and made even me want to slap him. For the first time in probably 18 months, I *cared* about Orton. Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. But it's definitely "a thing." 
    What else do I remember.... umm: actually, I didn't mind the midgets. I like midgets. Like Al Snow, I think everything is better with midgets. If they did an "American Idol" with just midgets, I might even watch. NO~! Better yet: "Dancing with the Midgets." I would SO watch that show. At least for one week. No stealing my idea, FOX Network! 
    Anyway, for the first time since instituting the Midget Division, SD! actually busted out a pair of Lucha Midgets, and they had a nice little match (instead of the Domestic Midgets, who mostly still just do STRICTLY the comic relief bits, and don't do any wrestling in between).
    I'm also not sure what to make of Paul Burchill, the Pirate, but if it adds up to him getting a bit more TV time, that's not a bad thing. Since the noticeable "hand-cuff-taking-off-of" (where it no longer seems quite as obvious that some guys -- and girls -- are "slowing down" or limiting themselves as they were before the new year), Burchill's been having some nice little outings on Velocity. Dude's 6"3' and built, and when unleashed, has all the explosiveness and crispness of the Dynamite Kid (who was all of 5"8'). On top of the size, you throw in a healthy dose of rugged good looks, and I have no idea how this guy didn't get a solid push a lot sooner. He's everything that Vince McMahon has wet dreams about. Except with talent. 
    Just remember kids: John Cena only got over when he did a ridiculous Vanilla Ice gimmick for Halloween, then they scaled it back slightly and tried to make it slightly-more relevant by turning him into Eminem, instead. So Burchill might start off a bit hackneyed, but in a society where a pirate movie was one of the better ones I saw in 2004 and where REAL pirates attacked a cruise liner just back in December, you can tone it back down and eventually Burchill won't be a pirate so much as he is a "guy who has a few mild pirate-y quirks." It'd have to be a LOT more muted than Cena's wigger act, but as a man who's been known to buckle a few swashes and swill some rum, I know it's kinda fun to play up a few pirate-y quirks on special occasions (I have even gone one whole night out wearing an eye-patch for no readily apparent reason other than we'd just had band practice and the guitar player thought it'd be funny but didn't have the balls to do it himself). The way the skit played on SD! makes me think that Burchill's probably the same way, cuz it seemed like he was gonna be pretty into the part. We'll see.
    Other than that, I'm not remembering a whole lot important to talk about. Well, except that I got a jolt out of seeing Ken Kennedy and Chris Benoit do a bit of sparring.... it's almost (ALMOST) like the Writer Monkeys saw into my brain and had a notion for what I'd wanted to do in my Fantasy Universe with Benoit, Kennedy, and the debuting Shooter Albright, which would lead to Benoit/Kennedy being a money feud as soon as Kennedy's healthy after WM. Almost.
    You can get the rest of the details on the show from Jeff Snider in the SmackDown! Recap.
  • Then there was TNA Impact, which, as alluded to above, I snuck in right after watching SD! last night.  Not a great show, but for whatever reason, it seemed to me that it was very "dense," which is never an awful thing.
    To wit: you actually did get two very good tag matches (part of a #1 contender's tourney), but then they also packed in three squash matches and face time for all the top tier stars who all had the night off (Christian, Dudleys, Jarrett, et al). It should be noted that I already have limited patience for squash matches (I don't fucking CARE if they're "well worked," I still need to not be sure how a match will end if I'm gonna get in any way invested in it), and on this night, one of the three squashes involved Konnan. Plonk.
    Another "plonk": Christian did the same exact thing that the Dudleys did a month ago when he WAY over-stated the prestige or relevance or TNA as part of a promo. Dammit, guys: way to be "team players" and all, but for the sake of not making Regular Wrestling Fans roll their eyeballs at you, PLEASE find the way of saying "I really want your title and will be proud to wear it" that does NOT also say "Because TNA is the biggest and bestest wrestling company in the whole world and so totally doesn't have anything resembling a tiny-penis-insecurity-issue." There are ways to do this.
    Random note: I like Chris Sabin. But what happens to him on next week's show is entirely deserved (you'll see). [Note to self: warn weak-stomached Erin Anderson to look away if she's tagging along with Jason next weekend.] That's what you get, Sabin, for passing on the "Queer Eye" Make-Over and opting for the TRIPLE Queer Eye Make-Over. So gay. I'm all for TNA's anonymous workers doing something to distinguish themselves so I remember their names, but (a) I already knew and liked Sabin, and (b) this is not how you do it. You do it by developing a character hook (like AMW did so that I'd remember which of them was which), not by going out and getting the manquivalent of a ridiculous boob job. Same goes for, ummmm.... the goth-kid-molesting-Flock-of-Seagulls guy. Austin Aries, maybe? Or is that one Alex Shelley?
    Or am I just pretending to not know the names because it's funny to do so and it underscores one of TNA's biggest problems with generating interest among regular/casual fans? You'll never know.
    Anyway, distilling this down: definitely points for "density." This show didn't have any sense of drag to it, pacing-wise. But as to some of the choices them made about what to pack in there to make it "dense"? Eh, not a whole lot stood out to me, and a few things (OK, only the Gonnad six-man match, really) definitely got my Fast Forward Finger to work.
    It'll be VERY interesting to see how the show does, ratings-wise. TNA was up head-to-head against their Spike TV Sugar Daddy, UFC, who had a big PPV on Saturday night. If it's true that they've got a big cross-over element to their audience, I would warn folks to brace for TNA's numbers to come back down to earth this week (and that there's no need to panic, because the test will be waiting to see how they bounce back next week).
    Jason Longshore has all the details (and the tons of stuff I skipped/glossed-over, since the show was very busy) from this weekend in the Impact Recap.
  • Following up on last week's big story: you can basically pencil TNA in for a Thursday night slot on SpikeTV, I guess. That's the one thing, at this point, that most everybody's agreeing on. Spike likes the idea of keeping TNA and UFC married to each other, and with UFC getting a Thursday 10pm weekly timeslot, that means TNA's along for the ride.
    Heard something interesting: it wasn't so much the 1.1 rating last week that sealed the deal for TNA to make the move.... it was the week before, when the Monday midnight replay (following a UFC special event) did a huge 0.9 rating (and in doing so, was watched by more people than the original airing of the show on Saturday). Spike saw that synergy, saw that TNA held onto a respectable portion of UFC viewers (even with a midnight replay), and figured they needed to keep the two properties together on the schedule. It's not the same if TNA is leading into UFC (as they will on Thursdays), rather than UFC creating the audience for TNA, but keeping the two together can create a sense of "stickiness" for a network that's trying to polish its identity and create a Guys Night where you just tune to Spike and leave it on Spike for 3 hours.
    Although, that's where the uncertainty comes in: TNA's not shy about wanting more than 60 minutes a week. They'd love 2 full hours; Spike, as recently as last week, wasn't too sure about investing 2 full hours of prime time every week into something that's almost sure to draw lower ratings than the ONE hour UFC show it's designed to sponge off of. Spike's interest continues to be in a 1-hour TNA show. That, to be fair, makes a bit of sense. But there is talk of a compromise being reached where TNA could get a 90-minute weekly slot (or possibly a 60-minute slot at first, then expanding to 90-minutes once Spike can figure out some sort of first-run 30-minute companion piece, since those are hard to come by, and they really do like the ratings the CSI reruns do at 8pm).
    I definitely would cheer for a timeslot expansion. Even 90 minutes would open the door to flesh out the show with at least one killer, True-TNA-Style match per week. But what I know on the cable-side of things doesn't have me feeling too enthused at this point.
  • MONDAY AFTERNOON ADDENDUM: I wrote that entire preceding bullet point (and a goodly amount of this other stuff) on Sunday night... 'tis my new Sunday Night Tradition, I guess, when I'm sitting in front of my PC and realize "well, if I'm not gonna do anything, I can at least save myself some time by working ahead on tomorrow's OO."
    But it's now official: TNA on Thursdays, starting at 9pm, and running for one hour. I leave in the preceding bullet point mostly just as evidence that even when I'm piecing together bits and pieces of intel, I tend to get it right.... I'd been told that the "90 minute compromise" was a VERY popular theory, and was even being presented as fact by some. Nuh uh. 
    Stupid ol' The Rick had it right all along. One hour, and that's that. It's not the best case scenario (for us fans, anyway), but it is reality.
    Something else I was right about: the change isn't exactly happening instantaneously... not until April 13.
  • Speaking of desiring and GETTING 90 minute timeslots because a network has a bit more faith in you.... that's exactly what Saturday Night's Main Event will be on March 18. It'll be live-to-tape earlier in the night in Detroit, and then aired in the Saturday Night Live timeslot at 11:30pm (eastern).
    [Tangent: was it just me, or did SNL actually have it's second more-funny-than-unfunny show of the year this weekend? I think that's the case, but the truth is, by the time I got done coming home a bit early cuz of shitty weather and then screwing around and continuing my drinking, I probably didn't watch the show till 3am, and not exactly in the most-critical of moods. But it sure seemed funny. All-the-way-through-funny, too. Not the kind of funny they had that one episode where they had 87 minutes of crap, and 3 minutes of that "Chronicles of Narnia" thing that was funny, but which has been so over-blown that I now mostly just want to punch that Andy Samberg guy when he shows up on talk shows on the strength of one (1) funny sketch. Also: Prince's first song was pretty sweet. Welcome back to relevance, weirdo! It's been, what, 20 years?]
    I digress: point is that where SNL's been the past 2 or 3 years, even a mediocre WWE show should be better than what I've come to expect outside of "Weekend Update."
    And this should NOT be a mediocre WWE show, as it's been confirmed that it'll be a joint-brand special. Both RAW and SD! will serve up a free-per-view-esque main event (like I said, it wouldn't surprise me if the RAW side featured some kind of Edge/Cena closure), and that'll also give 'em a chance to further whatever our cross-brand WrestleMania matches/storylines will be. Assuming there will be any. Which you kind of have to, but who knows?
  • I alluded above to the fact that Edge won't go to WM as the champ (even if you could mentally book a few things that would be more exciting than the inevitable HHH/Cena headliner if Edge did have the strap).... that's because the new theory making the rounds is that Edge will face Mick Foley at Mania in a battle of "transitional champs." 
    Wouldn't be a hard thing to set up, at all. And I know the word on the street is that since signing his new WWE contract, Mick's been a bit more conscious of getting in shape, since he'd like his future (sporadic) in-ring appearances to be more like what he did for Randy Orton, and less like what he's done in his handful of appearances in the last 10 months. If that is because he's accepted a chance to hold up his end of a match against Edge at Mania, I wouldn't be too stunned...
    But that also means unless you're fantasy booking Edge vs. Foley for the title, then the belt still stays on Cena. Not just because there's no way (and no good reason for) Foley to be challenging for the belt. But also because, for the story to work, the main plot point HAS to be that Edge DOESN'T have the title, and thus, feels like a Foley-esque Transitional Champ.
  • More than a few readers in the last week have written in to say that they think my (lack of) interest level in a Michaels vs. McMahon(s) match at WM22 might change if I consider the "obvious." That Bret Hart could show up to "even the odds" by being in Michaels' corner if he's facing Shane (with Vince in Shane's corner).
    Folks seem to think that could get pretty interesting.
    And I guess it could, but I also wouldn't hold my breath. Bret's already turned down a big money day to do a spot with Vince, and it just doesn't seem like he cares about pursuing that line of storytelling.
    That said: WWE still wants to get Bret to agree to do Hall of Fame stuff that weekend, and just knowing the virus-like way Vince has of wearing down your defenses, the "WWE Think" on this MIGHT be "first we'll get Bret to do the Hall of Fame, and then, since he's already here, we can totally coax him into heading out to the ring for a cheap pop on the WM PPV itself." It might come together as a last-second thing, I guess, but I honestly don't think it's something where WWE has any business on planning on Bret's assistance to put a bit of stank on a Michaels/McMahon match.
  • Here's something each and every one of you should check out: the first trailer to Jack Black's next movie, Nacho Libre. [Is that "Freedom Nacho?"]
    This is the one we've been talking about for more than a year, in which Jack plays a Mexican priest who dons a mask to wrestle by night in order to make money to save his orphanage. It is, as they say, based on a true story.
    Jack Black + Kids + Writer of "School of Rock" + Wrestling = Rick Thinks This Should Be Awesome!
    Luckily, the trailer doesn't disappoint. This actually appears as though it should be funny. Furthermore: if you can watch the trailer and tell me you DON'T think it'd be hilarious to see Jack (or "Nacho") do a Sports Entertainment Storyline with Chris Jericho (preferably in the guise of Tenacious D vs. Fozzy), then you can kindly cross yourself off the "has what it takes to be friends with Rick" list.
  • Speaking of Jericho.... in my on-going quest to try to sort out mountains of unmarked tapes now that I have a full-time functioning VHS device once again, I stumbled across his WWF debut.
    Anyone else out there watched that recently? I know I hadn't even really thought about it in ages, and certainly didn't remember any of Jericho's specific verbiage, but it's almost spOOky how relevant his promo is to TODAY's WWE. Which is sad, since 7 years ago, he was just trying to get heat and come off like a cocky prick, and now: that promo rings true as a level-headed analysis of WWE's problems.
    I shan't say more, since I might turn this into a full-fledged Feature Column idea, but if any of you want to work ahead and be as amazed as I was by watching Jericho's Debut Promo for the first time in at least 5 years, you can go dig out your tapes, too.... it's really quite shocking.
  • Lotsa folks are saying that Christy Hemme is gonna be the next WWE cast-off to land in TNA.... her rumored role? Raven's mysterious girlfriend.
    Yeah, I know: that doesn't make a lick of sense to me, either. Given what I've personally experienced of Raven's tolerance for stupidity and given the stupidity displayed by Spaz on that one Howard Stern appearance, it is NOT a pairing that I can really envision. Unless Raven just likes keeping her around so he can mock her with 25-cent vocabulary words and she just blithely assumes it's flattery. 
    But whatever; that's the rumor.... and much of its veracity will hinge on exactly when and how (and if) they move forward with the storyline. Raven's current leave of absence is still a bit open-ended and relates to any combination of various factors (contractual, creative, health) depending on who you want to believe.
    For whatever it's worth, I *still* think Nidia would have been perfect in that role. She's already proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she knows how to fill out a pair of jean shorts and rock a tied-up belly-flannel. Which is basically the official Raven Uniform For Girls. Plus she comes complete with a perfect amount of understated sluttiness, which is probably more up Raven's alley. More so than Spaz's Annoying Coked Up Morning Talk Show Host, anyway....
  • And I almost let it slip my mind, but the mention of Spaz's air-headed appearance on Stern reminds me:
    Tazz and Michael Cole are testing out a new satellite radio show on one of Stern's Sirius channels. The "b-channel," if you will. I'm not necessarily hip to this whole satellite radio thing (it seems like a whole lot of pointless crap that I'd have no use for, kind of like my cable system once you get up past channel 112; excluding my HBOs and whatnot, of course), but they definitely got a try-out last week in an 8pm primetime slot, and by all accounts, were really hilarious. Not surprising since Tazz is, well, Tazz, and it's a pretty commonly-known fact that Cole is not really a face-punchable shill, he only plays one on TV because for whatever reason that's what Vince McMahon thinks is necessary.
    Don't know if this is true or not, but a few people wrote in to say that Tazz and Cole will get the 8pm slot Thursday through Sundays every week. Except, one must assume, on PPV Sundays. And it's sorta odd that they'd compete with themselves on SD! on Friday nights, too, but whatever.... if this is true, Tazz and Cole stand to benefit quite a bit by shining outside of the context of a wrestling show, and being on one of Stern's channels (which have built-in audiences, unlike with the radio shows of Jericho or Hillbilly Jim).
    Anybody more satellite-radio-invested than I who wants to keep me apprised of pertinent developments, it would be appreciated.
  • WWE is definitely doing another ECW PPV this year in June. Plans have already begun to formulate a card... this will not be easy, given that a bunch of guys who worked last year's reunion show will not be available, most notably the Dudleys, Rhyno, and Sabu.
    It's highly doubtful Chris Jericho would be available, either, and Lance Storm's trying REALLY hard to stay retired. Raven and Shane Douglas would remain unavailable, and if this silly MTV Wrestling thing clicks, you can even take Justin Credible off the very bottom of your Mental Depth Chart.
    Guys like Psicosis and Tajiri who aren't currently in WWE, but are probably on good enough terms to do a one-shot if they want, are also question marks off of last year's line-up.
    And when you look at who could conceivably step in to fill those roles? Sad to say that you don't get a whole lot of happy news. At the very top level, it would seem likely to me that under his new deal, Mick Foley would be available to work a match to supply some star power sizzle (though you have to wonder if Mick isn't the kind of guy who's too proud to go have a WWE-style match under the ECW banner, when -- to be perfectly frank -- the dude does NOT have to put his body on the line for us, anymore). And once you say "Foley," you also say "Terry Funk," who was not a part of the show last year, but is somebody talked about as a key component in terms of making sure THIS year's has some ECW Authenticity.
    And if we're already saying "Foley," we might as well say it again so that we can remember that Mick's Bestest Buddy Al Snow also didn't work the ECW PPV last year, and could be another little bonus in terms of developing a line-up. And if you happen to hear in coming weeks or months that Dean Malenko has been stepping up his conditioning, I couldn't tell you that those are lies. You don't need to be a rocket scientist (or even Wade Keller) to piece together that a Benoit vs. Malenko under the ECW Banner would do a lot more for the memory of Eddie Guerrero than any number of hackneyed low-rider appearances.
    As long as WWE has a relationship with Paul Heyman, I think any one-shot ECW Reunion will probably be alright and will feel special and relatively-genuine.... but given some of the big losses (the Dudleys and Sabu, especially), it'll be a bit more of a chore to put it all together with the same sort of must-see awesomeness that I know had me salivating for last year's show.
  • I thought I might add a few more things here on Monday lunchtime, but I see I'm already up over 75KB, which means that (a) you folks got MORE than your money's worth, and (b) I can probably take a moment of my lunch break to scan through last night's selection of FOX Cartoons, which DVR lovingly recorded for me, to see if any of the repeats were good ones. Beats the hell out of sitting at my desk any longer than I have to...
    So you folks take 'er easy. Enjoy RAW, and I'll see you tomorrow with the recappening.

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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