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Catching Up by Going Back to the Future;
Plus WWE Comings/Goings, TNA, and MORE 
March 13, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Let's not even bother dwelling on what's kept (and continues to keep) The Rick operating at less than Peak Capacity the past three weeks...

Instead, let's all marvel at my tenacity and testicular fortitude... because I've consulted many medical experts, and the fact that the Hated Jerkfaces of Xavier will be competing in the NCAA Tournament would be justification for me spending between 10 and 14 more additional days flat on my ass, convinced that death would be a preferable option to the pain I was enduring.

Seriously, the A-10 is a conference where there was no measurable difference in quality between the 2nd place team and the 12th place team, and it has to be Fucking Xavier who falls ass-backwards into a tourney berth? I'm not saying my Dayton Flyers were even remotely deserving of that same stroke of luck, but there were 9 other teams I would have gladly endorsed as being the A-10's bracket-busting second team sneaking into the tourney. And yet, it has to be Xavier.

If you don't think this situation causes me physical pain, then frankly, you don't know what it is to be The Rick.

Also sanding my vagina the past 2 days: I don't know who Yahoo's baseball columnist Jeff Passan is or why his comical ignorance and lack of compelling or likeable rhetorical ability is being featured on such a large website, but his last two columns make him 2-for-2 on making himself look like the biggest fucktard in the history of baseball punditry. Well, WRITTEN baseball punditry. Because nobody's more worthless than Tim McCarver.

And on that note, I figure I'll spare you three weeks of pent-up Pre-Ramble Material. It's crazy how many observations I can make and how many different ways there are for me to get annoyed as hell when I spend three weeks doing little more than watch TV. But I'll spare you, and get down to some bidness, instead:

  • There is absolutely no point trying to go back and recap the past three weeks worth of happenings in the wrestling world. At least, not the TV happenings (I will try to get you caught up on a few other news-y, backstage-y things, though). Partly because none of them are even remotely worth discussing. Partly because I was not necessarily in the best frame of mind as I was watching them, and certainly wasn't watching with my usual High Attention To Detail, so it'd be tough to pull up the details to rehash here today.
    But mostly because I think everything you need to know about the past 3 weeks of WWE TV can be effectively bottom-lined by looking 3 weeks into the future, to WrestleMania 22.
    Here's my argument: There is currently an announced 8-match card for WM22. You look at it, you realize there's almost nothing interesting or exciting about it -- certainly nothing that screams "This is a match that is so big and so important that it could only take place at WrestleMania" -- and it doesn't take much of a leap of logic to conclude that the last three weeks of TV that have been spent building up that card have probably been about as mediocre and underwhelming as humanly possible.
    Ironically, this is easily the worst WrestleMania card since WM13, which also took place in Chicago. Even the crap-ass WM18 had the one Rock/Hogan match to build around (and if you recall, WWE even knew internally how bad that card was, and sent Kevin Kelly out on "Byte This" to castigate fans for calling it a weak card because WWE was purposely selling it as a "one match show," and if you weren't excited for that one match, then you weren't a real wrestling fan.
    Whatever. If Byte This weren't cancelled, I'd love to see how Tough Questions Todd Grisham would react if faced with fans talking about the weakness of the WM22 line-up. What one match are we supposed to be fired up for this year, Oh Mighty Corporate Mouthpiece?
    There isn't one. And there are some matches that are shaping up to be comically awful and forgettable.
    Let's quickly run down the confirmed 8 matches WWE has announced so far:
    John Cena vs. Triple H (WWE Title Match)
    Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton (World Title)
    Money in the Bank Ladder Match II
        (Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair vs.
            Three To-Be-Determined SD! Wrestlers)
    Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon
    Edge vs. Mick Foley (No Holds Barred)
    Chris Benoit vs. JBL (US Title)
    Undertaker vs. Mark Henry (Casket Match)
    Carlito Cool/Chris F. Masters vs. Kane/Big Show (Tag Titles)
    And for shits and giggles, let's also list the additional 4 matches that most people assume will be added to the card:
    Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James (Women's Title)
    Booker T vs. Boogeyman
    Titties McSuperbowl vs. Torrie Wilson
    Gregory Helms Defends Cruiserweight Title 
    Go ahead, there's 12 matches there, and I want you to scour the list and tell me where you are suddenly struck by the WrestleMania Sizzle. More likely than not, you won't be. Because there's nothing really special about most of these matches (they range between "free TV main event" and "off-month-PPV-caliber"), and the two matches that are sort of "special attractions" (Foley and Vince's matches) are parts of some rather uninspired storytelling.
    I mean, I'm sure everybody'll work hard, and most of these matches will be tolerable and watchable. But there's just a dearth of options for true WrestleMania Moments. And one of the places where there MIGHT be a "Moment" -- Foley/Edge -- is a place where I'd feel almost uncomfortable if Mick did something stupid just to try to salvage the match and the show. Kind of the same way I felt watching Eddie Guerrero lose 30% of his body's blood supply at Great American Bash 2004, because he knew it was the only way to distract people from the fact that the show sucked fucking balls.
    The other two places where moments are *possible* would be in the Money in the Bank Match, and in the Cena/HHH title match. But Money in the Bank is going to be hamstrung by a lack of compelling possible winners. In fact, with Booker T likely being shunted into a stupid match against the Boogeyman, SD! will field a grand total of zero (0) possible winners in that match. Instead, I have a feeling that Matt Hardy will go into the match as SD!'s most likely winner, along with Fit Finlay (who'll actually fit in GREAT, given his work lately and his innovative offense) and probably Bobby Lashley. In fact, as soon as Carlito was inconceivable eliminated from the match (it was his idea, and instead of participating in the match, he's shunted off into a tag match that's coming about 3 months too late to have any worth whatsoever?) in favor of Flair, I figured this whole thing will be an excuse to get Flair One Last Title Shot. Which he'll exercise against Triple H. And he might even win. Because HHH will never get to his precious 17 Title Reigns without losing the title 6 more times... and if Trips wants to break Flair's record for title reigns, you know he'd moisten his man-panties at the prospect of winning one of his World Titles from Flair himself. So duh: Flair's winning Money in the Bank, and getting one last brief title reign at some point as part of Project Get More Titles For Triple H.
    Hunter is a potential "WrestleMania Moment" this year, though... as weak as the card is, and as reminiscent as this is of the last time Mania came to Chicago, perhaps it's appropriate that Fan Mutiny could create a memorable moment. The only difference is that in 1997, the WWF was rolling with the punches, and when the fans turned against Bret Hart and in favor of Steve Austin, they let the double-turn happen. Here in 2006, WWE is still trying to protect John Cena despite the fact that he's spent the last 3 weeks getting at least as many boos as cheers against Triple H. A double turn with the two seems unlikely, but the trainwreck of fan reaction could make Cena/HHH memorable in the same sort of way that Goldberg/Lesnar was. It's always fun watching WWE get caught with their pants down on stuff like this. Especially when I've been saying this was the inevitable outcome for over a year now. Sweet, sweet vindication...
    Nothing else on the card comes close to capturing my imagination. The SD! main event, obviously, is a thrown-together affair that bares no resemblance to the original plan (which I'd wager heavily was to be the kick-ass pay-off to the Batista/Eddie friendship/feud). But that still doesn't mean that you couldn't have salvaged something compelling.... I'd probably have gone with a straight-up Rey vs. Angle match, with less emphasis on the Ghost of Eddie Guerrero. Instead, Randy Orton's shoe-horned in here, where absolutely nobody wants him to be. He's unnecessary, he's in there just so WWE can say they put a heel in there for people to boo, despite the fact that you don't need him there to tell a compelling story. Randy Orton, if I may opine, is the Vestigial Tail of this match. The Coccyx. Back in some simpler time, he might have served a purpose, but here in the Year of Our Lord 2006, there's no reason for him to be here, and he contributes nothing of merit.
    And it still boggles my mind that Orton was oustered from the WM main event picture a year ago for his all encompassing mediocrity... and now a year later, despite making a grand total of zero improvements in his ring work or ability to connect with an audience, is being shoe-horned INTO the WM main event picture. If anybody can explain that to me, I'm listening.
    What else we got? Like I mentioned above, neither Shawn/Vince nor Edge/Foley really strikes me as the kind of WM Special Attraction that I think WWE is shooting for. The problems with Edge/Foley have already been addressed around here: for one, it only has one inevitable outcome, which sort of robs it of its sizzle. And for two, it kind of has the stink of WWE giving Edge a consolation prize for Mania after he exceeded their expectations during his run as a Transitional Champ.
    And Shawn/Vince? Ugh. It's been so rife with logic and continuity holes, and overflowing with Vince's bad over-acting and spotlight-hogging that this just does nothing for me. It's also, by all accounts, WWE's #3 choice for a match. Shawn vs. The Rock didn't come together because the Rock wanted none of it. Shawn vs. Shane McMahon (or vs. Shane/Vince in a handicap match) didn't happen because Shane's wife is expecting the week of WM, and Shane may or may not be at the show. So that leaves Vince to step in and have a Sports Entertainment Segment against Shawn. Wheee. Throw in the Spirit Squad and some extracurriculars, and I'm sure it'll be perversely amusing. But will it, in the grand WM Tradition, MEAN ANYTHING? My guess is a big fat NO.
    Benoit vs. JBL? Given the total lack of storytelling, this is barely SD! worthy at this point, much less WM-worthy.
    Carlito/Masters vs. Kane/Big Show? Would have made a LOT more sense in mid-January when there were storylines tying the four together, and when you could have put the titles on the heels, and freed up Kane and Show to contribute to higher-level WM matches. Instead, this is an afterthought, with no compelling build-up.
    Taker/Henry? Will suck balls. Pray it'll be short.
    Booker/Boogeyman? Will suck a different pair of balls. But at least we know that one WILL be short.
    Trish/Mickie? Was once so promising, and could have been an anchor of the WM card if they were gonna have the blow-off to a killer feud. Instead, this has deteriorated into more than a bit of stupidity where Mickie is not a scary, believable villain, but instead a eyeball-roll inducing, easily dismissible faux-lesbian/Girl-Gone-Wild.
    Candice vs. Torrie? Gimme a break. How you get a babyface out of an equation where each girl is just arguing over which one of them was prettier in Playboy baffles me. Then again, maybe I'm just the weird one here, and this makes BOTH of them babyfaces to WWE's target audience of sexless chairmoisteners. OMG, NUDITY~! [FYI, Candice's new Playboy pictures are probably readily available online; lord knows I've had them e-mailed to me 3-4 times in the past week. You want spoilers? As expected, they pictures were clearly shot by somebody who apparently long ago lost interest in taking pictures of hot girls, and developed an intense interest in hair, make-up, staging, outfits, and lighting. What a shocker: pictures in Playboy that are glossed up to the point of being unhot. But again, I know I'm the weird one here. Me and my perverse pursuit of Actual Girls instead of slobbering over air-brushed tri-fold centerfolds. I'm such a sicko.]
    And a Cruiserweight Title Match? Hell, of the 12 matches I listed, watch this be the one that doesn't happen. Because WWE is retarded. The whole fucking point of doing that match at No Way Out was to build Helms up as an unbeatable champ, which BEGS for the elevation of a gutsy underdog challenger to get the WM Title Shot. Of course, instead of doing that, the CW Title has been invisible for the past 3 weeks. Brilliant, WWE, brilliant.
    That's my story and I'm sticking to it. You look 3 weeks ahead to the announced and expected WM22 matches, and I think everything you need to know about the past 3 Rick-Free Weeks of TV is right there for you. Because you don't craft such an underwhelming and disappointing PPV card without presenting 4 hours per week of mostly disappointing and forgettable TV.
    I'm not saying I'm glad I've been on the shelf, but I will say that I haven't missed having to write about wrestling the past 3 weeks. WWE's really giving us nothing to latch on to, and they're giving it to us at a time of year when they should be serving up their absolute best. Ugh.
  • Ratings catch-up:
    The last three RAWs have all done ratings of 4.0.
    Which is not bad. But (discounting the Thursday episode) the three weeks previous averaged 4.5, which goes to show that when Edge was champ and before fans realized that things were reverting to the Absolutely Expected, WWE was drawing audiences about 15% higher than they are the past few weeks of sub-par efforts.
    And SmackDown's ratings tell an even worse story the past three weeks: 2.9, 2.6, and a 2.4 for this past weekend's show. Not just below average, but on a declining trend.
    I wish I could say it was undeserved, but even with Angle and under-rated SD! workhorses MNM frequently deliving quality in-ring work, a brand that features Mark Henry and Randy Orton in key roles is likely to face problems in terms of popular appeal. Henry simply has all the credibility of "Iron" Mike Sharp, while Orton's in-ring work continues to be based on a mind-numbing variation of chinlocks which lead to "boring" chants.
  • Since last we spoke, WWE has issued another round of quarterly financial data. I won't bother with any details, other than to say that WWE's cost-cutting and emphasis on overseas operations resulted in a more profitable quarter than a year ago.
    Also: in the conference call with investors, it was revealed that WWE has NOT finalized a new contract for SmackDown! yet. Most people assumed the deal was done, but rather, negotiations are on-going, it seems. But it's 99.9% that SD! will be on the new "CW" network in the fall. More a formality than anything.
    And something that pissed me off:
    WWE announced a forecast to make WM22 the most-purchased WM in history, toppling last year's record buyrate. To that end, they announced a multi-million dollar promotional campaign (WM ads inserted into "coming attractions" at movies, direct mail/phone campaigns, and lots lots more)....
    Because it makes ever so much sense to spend millions of dollars trying to TRICK people into thinking WM22 will be worthwhile (promotions on my cable system feature the Rock and Austin prominently, which DEFINITELY counts as slightly deceptive when WWE knows full well that it's serving up John Cena and Randy Orton in main events).... instead of demanding that your Writer Monkeys -- who you're already paying for -- actually DO THEIR FUCKING JOB AND COME UP WITH STORYLINES AND MATCHES THAT FANS WILL WANT TO SEE WITHOUT BEING "TRICKED."
    So fucking backwards. But what do you expect out of WWE? "We're out of ideas, so let's forget about placating the wrestling fans and try to trick the casual fans into buying WM with lots of footage of Rock and Austin!"..... more of their patented brilliance....
  • WWE's got Saturday Night's Main Event coming up in five days... contrary to original plans, the show will air live in prime time, and not in the Saturday Night Live timeslot.
    The big match will be "main event vs. main event" in a Very Special Makes-No-Sense Vince McMahon Special. John Cena and HHH will team up to face Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, and Randy Orton. There's no real compelling reason for this match to happen other than to have it break down into a predictable schmozz.
    Also, Shawn Michaels will face Shane McMahon in a street fight, which is sort of WWE's "make-good" since Shane may be a no-show for WM22, and Shawn and Shane really wanted to do a match together.
    And Steve Austin is returning to TV to do a drinking contest against JBL. Nee haw, that could either be really funny or be a heaping load of Suck (see: Redneck Triathlon).
    There's also an odd rumor going around that Jim Ross might be coming back on Saturday night... the one thing that lends a TOUCH of credence to that is the fact that WWE has apparently made peace with Austin (to do SNME and also the Hall of Fame and Mania appearances), and it would make sense if part of the truce was Austin throwing his muscle behind his friend JR's return to TV. Which would be pretty cool. Out with Coach, in with JR, says I!
  • While JR *might* be on his way back in, WWE has said buh-bye to a few guys since our last discussion.
    The Dicks are gone, and nary a tear was shed. The only thing that disappoints me? They never brought in the Mysterious Masked Wangs From The Orient (Super Wang and Giant Wang) to feud with The Dicks. Sorry guys, but you can't be 5'7" with Chris F. Masters' physique and moveset.... people expect different things (like actual talent) out of undersized guys.
    Speaking of undersized: the entire SD! Midget Division is gone. That blows. I'm not saying it wasn't a pointless diversion, but when you look at SD!, you can't tell me that it's not worth keeping around a pointless diversion that's actually kinda entertaining and gets reactions from the fans. In all honesty: the midget division is absolutely NO DIFFERENT than the Boogeyman. And yet, it's the Boogeyman who gets to stick around. Bleargh...
    And perhaps the most disappointing of WWE's recent releases: Marty Jannetty has been let go. I had visions of a Jannetty heel turn (joining Vince in order to keep his job) leading to a post-Mania series of matches against Michaels that would have been a pleasure to watch. But nope. The original story was that Jannetty crossed WWE management by asking off a Monday TV taping, but the real story is that Jannetty's parole officer wanted to limit Jannetty's traveling (especially to wrestling events, which is the atmosphere that spawned Jannetty's last bout of bad behavior), and the parting was amicable, because WWE understood Marty's situation, and couldn't really blame him. But they also couldn't keep him on the full-time roster and use him in storylines if there was a threat that a parole officer would keep Marty from traveling in a given week. Oh well...
  • Possibly on the way out before too much longer: Stacy Keibler.
    After finishing third in "Dancing with the Stars," she's apparently under the misapprehension that fame and fortune await her in Hollywood. Just like happened for Dancing With the Stars Season One Winner, J. Peterman, who's career peaked with "Seinfeld" in the mid-90s, and has parlayed his big Reality Show TV win into a successful series of Car Insurance ads. 
    In interviews related to "Dancing with the Stars," Stacy spoke negatively about the schedule and work ethic required to be a WWE performer (and also about the money not being commensurate with the work... although she never used the word "commensurate," because she might be a bona fide sweetheart in real life, but she's not exactly a sparkling wit). She was also very open about wanting to take her current "popularity" and turn it into Hollywood stardom.
    If I didn't know better, I'd say she was taking career advice from her new TV boyfriend, who I think is the star of either a WB or FOX braindead Teen Drama.
    There are conflicting reports as to when Stacy's WWE contract expires (ranging from as early as this spring to as late as August-ish, depending on what you believe about the anniversary of when the WWF picked up her contract from the trash heap of WCW in 2001), but most take this as confirmation that whenever that contract is up, Stacy will be gone. And there's even a chance she won't be brought back to TV before then.
    Which would only make WWE's constant hyping of "Dancing with the Stars" even more pathetic and sad.
  • For whatever it's worth, Candice Michelle is actually saying a lot of the same things (but in a SLIGHTLY more careful and diplomatic way) in recent interview hyping her Playboy appearance. She just wants to use wrestling as a springboard to bigger and better things. Given her stellar charisma and likeability, one must assume she's talking about upping her quota to as many as 4 Go Daddy commercials per year, since I don't see a whole lot else in her future.
    Combine the talk of "springboarding" with the fact that Candice shares a work ethic with Stacy (that is to say, neither has/had any desire to train for wrestling, and only put(s) for the bare minimum effort to look competent on TV), and I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that she probably won't have a job with WWE in 12 months. And as will be the case with Stacy, I don't really think most wrestling fans will miss her.
    Then again, I could be wrong. Spaz actually wanted to get better and was rewarded for her desire with a pink slip. So who the hell knows?
  • TNA had a PPV last night, and it seems the consensus was "Eh." They crammed a LOT of stuff into the opening 2 hours, which had the effect of capping the potential of each individual match at a lower-than-usual level (even the three way Joe/Daniels/Styles X Title match didn't review much higher than "Above Average" in most of the e-mails I got), and then the final Christian/Monty Brown Title Match was over-long and went a ways towards exposing Monty's limitations as Christian tried to milk things with an 80's style sympathy play.
    Kind of ending the show on a sour note: the return of Scott Steiner, who really has no business contributing to a major TV wrestling product at this point. Not only could a case be made that he's not contributed positively to a high quality match since 1993, but his last run in WWE was so atrocious that I have a hard time justifying any paycheck for the guy.
    Steiner showed up as an ally to Jeff Jarrett, and attacked Sting to end the PPV.
    I half-wish Jason Longshore had made good on delivering the TNA PPV Preview late last week, because I part of me really wanted to make my Return To Columning last Friday for the sole purpose of bad-mouthing the return of Steiner before it happened. Twas not exactly a well-kept secret, and mocking something before it happens always lends a certain gravitas to any diatribe.
    In addition to mocking the many ways Steiner sucks and is the last thing TNA needs (yes, even light years behind Kevin Nash, who at least has personality and speaks English), about the only comment I would have made in favor of Steiner being brought in by TNA is that he's at least sure to be booed, even by TNA's ubiquitous Wanker Fans. NObody likes Steiner, and MAYBE if he keeps the Suck to a minimum, he'll keep fans' attention long enough that they'll dignify his presence with boos, instead of just jumping ahead to ignoring him. Like WWE fans do with Chris F. Masters.
    We shall see.
    And Jason has the complete TNA Destination X PPV Recap for you, which you should check out.
  • Lastly for today, just a quick mention of tonight's RAW, which MIGHT be a bounceback show. If nothing else, a Shelton/RVD IC Title Match gives me reason to be semi-excited.
    WWE is also promising a Cena/HHH Contract Signing, which will probably amount to little more than a chance for fans to inch ever closer to making HHH the babyface in the match.
    Beyond that, boy howdy does RAW have a lot of work to do on making their half of WM22 a bit more appealing. Trish/Mickie and the tag title match are basically starting at ground zero. And then the "special attraction" matches need SOMEthing to make them feel special.
    Here's hoping for the best.
    And here's hoping that tomorrow will see the Finest and Best RAW Recap in All The Land here at OO. I'm gonna try to stick to a regular schedule now, but if there's one place where I might just give up the ghost, it'd be on recapping, which is tough work, concentration-wise, even under the best of circumstances. And circumstances are still far from ideal for me. I'm not sure what I'll be able to bring to the table, but it'll either be my best, or maybe a pre-acknowledged half-ass-job, or maybe a few weeks of guest recappers. If nothing else, it'd be nice to get Erin off the side of the milk carton one of these weeks.
    We'll see.
    I'll be back in all y'all's faces either tomorrow or Wednesday, though. That's a promise. Or possibly a threat. Later on....

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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