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RAW/Ratings, Buyrates and PPV Schedules,
Bad TNA News, & Crazy WWE Roster Moves 
July 25, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


One of the worst things about being flat on your ass is that -- no matter how much I try to pretend I'm smart and resourceful and everything -- I'll eventually get sick of reading books or other worthwhile pursuits, and just start killing braincells by watching *way* more TV than is entirely healthy.

And watching it at strange times. Including enjoying the hell out of late night baseball games between Cuba and Venezuela (and it's cool to see that ratings for the WBC have been so strong -- equal to NBA games airing in prime time this month -- regardless of the USA's suckitude; with other nations fielding all-star teams, it just goes to show people like watching good baseball). 

But probably the strangest thing to happen to me with my unhealthy levels of TV viewing is the rekindling of my love for "The A-Team." Between 3 different channels, I usually get 3 or 4 episodes a day, it turns out. And unlike so many shows/movies I enjoyed when I was 8-9 years old, this one seems to hold up. And not just because the theme song is awesome. Good times.

It got me to thinking that I now officially finally wish that somebody *does* make good on these long-standing idle threats to turn "The A-Team" into a movie franchise. George Clooney would make the PERFECT Hannibal. Jack Black *must* be Murdock. And I'm thinking Luke Wilson as Faceman would work really well. BA Baracus? Simple: I don't care how much age-reducing make-up, how many prosthetic biceps, and how much gut-hiding gold chains it takes, but Mr. T. has to be BA. HAS to be. Otherwise you just end up with Ving Rhames or Michael Clarke Duncan trying to do a Mr. T. impersonation, and that'd get distracting.

Throw in Christopher Walken as the obsessed Army guy who's constantly chasing the A-Team and trying to incarcerate them, along with adventures/guest-stars that are a BIT more expansive than saving a local roadside diner from an unscrupulous businessman, and tell me you wouldn't pay $9.50 to see that movie!

There you go, Hollywood: you have film-school-degree-having fucktards getting paid six figures to decide to remake "Bewitched," and actual-high-IQ-having me can be in crippling pain, flat on my back, and come up with a guaranteed $200 million grossing idea! Run with it, monkeys!

Here's some wrestling for you fine folks: 

  • Monday's RAW mostly sucked. An awful, urine-flavored opening segment that underscores just about everything wrong with WWE's Filtering Process kicks us off. "But how can you bitch about Vince McMahon 'forcing' his unfunny sense of humor on us if he was willing to let himself be doused with piss?" some idiots might point out. (1) Fake pee. (2) Just because Vince is a twisted fuck with a Golden Showers fetish doesn't make his sense of humor any better. It was dumb, it continued the shitty storytelling in the Michaels/McMahons storyline, and if that segment makes one single person more interested in the WM22, I'll be shocked. And I'll also insist on that single person being ejected into the sun to prevent his/her genetic material from being passed on to the next generation.
    Then you proceed with a show that fluctuated between "tolerable" at its best and "forgettable" at its worst, and you're not exactly making any fans here in OOville. RAW featured a grand total of one match that lasted longer than 5 minutes (RVD/Shelton) and that one suffered from some early sloppiness and some boringness in the middle.
    Capping it all off? A bona fide "What the fuck?" moment... and not the good kind. Randy Orton showing up to attack John Cena? That's not "interesting," that's just plain "confounding." It's like I said in the Recap: unless this is actually phase one of a mapped out plan to move HHH to SD! and reform Evolution, then all this is is another case of WWE's Idiot Writers taking their cues from the Retarded JJ Abrams TV Show Writing Philosophy of throwing random things out on TV, and hoping against hope that you can render it semi-sensible later on.
    In this case, Vince McMahon's seemingly random decision to make a Saturday Night Main Event match pitting the RAW WM Main Event vs. the SD! WM Main Event made no sense, and has no interesting prospects, because there's no back-story, and no reason to expect anything besides the predictable schmozz non-finish that will do nothing to add to your interest in WrestleMania. But in JJ Abrams Fashion, we don't care if it makes sense... we just do it because, hell, it sounds like it MIGHT be a cool idea that our legions of sub-normal-intelligence-having viewers will find even more entertaining than if you show up at their house and jangle shiny keys in their faces.
    And how do we start trying to actually create a context for having that random match? Well, we do nothing for two weeks, panic, and then have Randy Orton show up on RAW for no readily understandable reason. Because this is how Hollywood Writers on Successful TV shows do things. Planning ahead? Cleverness and creativity? Who needs them, when we can just pull stuff out of our stinky asses at the last second?!?!
    Again, I'll eat my crow if SNME ends with "The Theme From Evolution" playing following some sensible, compelling, well-constructed climax that gives me reason to suspect that WWE has a creative plan that stretches past the middle of next week. But I'm not exactly expecting to have to do so.
    RAW continues to flounder as we head to WM. Not a good sign. Luckily for you, RAW's continuing mediocrity is finally augmented again this week. After a three week break, I was back on the job with the RAW Recap. And as you well know, NObody polishes a turd like The Me. Enjoy the Recap. In the exact opposite way you probably couldn't enjoy much of anything on RAW.
  • Monday's RAW did a 4.1 cable rating, which is up a negligible one-tenth from the previous three weeks... but which is still nearly a half-point off the pace of January, before RAW reverted to fairly predictable business-as-usual.
    With RAW holding pretty steady, and with SD! in a bit of nosedive (many have written in the past few days to say that NBA basketball has started to pre-empt SD! a bit more regularly lately, which could be part of the problem), this isn't exactly the big push towards WrestleMania that WWE might want.
    Luckily for them, they don't give a shit about the creative direction of the company and TV ratings.... because they're going to bang a huge buyrate for WM22 with a mutli-million dollar advertising campaign! Brilliant. Don't ask your writers (who you're already paying) to do their damned jobs; just throw more money at the problem, instead.
    It'll be interesting to see how SNME does in the ratings. Just to match what NBC's done by airing repeats on Saturdays the past two weeks, WWE needs to do over a 4.5, which would mean about 50% more viewers than what SD!'s been drawing, and about 30% more than RAW's recent weekly audience. That won't come easy. Anything below 4.0, and I wouldn't necessarily pencil WWE in for another SNME anytime soon, unless the demographics are just off the charts with lots of young male viewers. We'll see.
  • Speaking of buyrates, early indications are that February's No Way Out will be the least-viewed WWE PPV since the first Taboo Tuesday in 2004 (which, in addition to being on a Tuesday, was also hurt by going head-to-head with a Yankees/Red Sox ALCS game), and will be among the bottom handful of buyrates since the brand split.
    Although that doesn't directly tie into momentum building towards WM, I think it does prove that (despite anomalously-respectable buyrates for SD!'s December PPV) fans ARE exercising SOME kind of judgment when it comes to picking which PPVs to buy.
  • Since I just mentioned Taboo Tuesday, and since I am the master of smOOth, effortless segues between topics, I figure now's as good a time as any to tell you that "Taboo Tuesday" is dead. After two years of sub-par buyrates, WWE's attempt to expand PPV to another night is over.
    In it's place, WWE will present "Cyber Sunday" in late October, still with the interactive voting gimmick. I can confirm this, because a little birdy has told me that WWE has already booked the US Bank Arena down in Cincinnati for the PPV. Between that and the Great American Bash being held in Indy this July, I've also been assured that Dayton's chances of getting some post-PPV TV taping action are very good.
  • When I ran down the list of guys WWE released in my Monday Column, I apparently piqued the curiosity of many readers.... much e-mail came in wondering where Diva Search Ashley has been, and if maybe she got fired, too.
    Nope. She actually broke her leg on RAW a month ago, and is rehabbing as we speak. This happened right as I started my downward health spiral, but I believe the initial prognosis was about 8 weeks before she could return to working out, which probably means a few more weeks after that before she's ready to return to TV, unless WWE's willing to protect her in a purely non-physical role.
  • Bad news for TNA... less than a month before the company expected to jump to Thursday nights in prime time (at 9pm), Spike TV informed them that they've been bumped back to 11pm on Thursdays.
    Now, there are some TNA apologists who are trying to spin this as either a good thing or as a non-factor.... their logic is that TNA is better served having UFC's dumb little Reality Show as a lead-in, rather than having CSI reruns as a lead-in. But the simple fact is that at 11pm on a weeknight, there are about half-as-many available TV viewers as there are at 9pm. This is *not* a "good thing" for TNA.
    Now, I might be willing to buy that it's a non-factor... but for different reasons than TNA Lemmings might think. Because if you look at the numbers, it has made little to no difference where TNA airs: it generally gets about the same rating. A trio of prime time/week-night specials have not done significantly better than TNA's late night Saturday timeslot. So I'm not entirely sure that, with what appears to be a built-in audience without a lot of mainstream potential, TNA would do significantly better ratings at 9pm than they would at 11pm.
    The timing of the announcement is also curious, as TNA's Saturday ratings have been sub-par the last month. Three of the past 4 weeks, Impact pulled a 0.7 rating, which is actually below the show's six month average by a tick. I'm not accusing Spike TV of being knee-jerk reactionaries, but it is interesting that TNA went from persona-non-grata to getting the sudden move to Thursday night after a hot 3-week string of ratings.... but now, after a 4-week cold-snap, they get bumped back into late night. Hmmmm....
    One thing that TNA is internally hoping for is that once the UFC reality show is done (it's only a 13-week series), Spike might give them UFC's 10pm timeslot on Thursdays. But at this point -- especially given how Spike seems to be monitoring Impact's ratings performances and changing their plans for the show accordingly -- that's nothing but speculative hope.
    The move to Thursday's happens on April 13. Commensurate with that move, TNA is changing it's bi-monthly TV tapings from Tuesday to Mondays. Not only will this save a bit of money and help logistically on PPV weeks (when everybody's already in Orlando on Sunday, and Monday's generally a lost day), but more importantly, it gives TNA an extra day of post-production to prepare the first week's Thursday TV show.
  • FYI: TNA's first ever house show is tonight in Detroit. It'll be interesting to see how it goes over... not only are wrestling fans being put to a test for their Ticket Dollar, as WWE's SNME is in Detroit tomorrow. But there are also first round NCAA Tourney Games in Detroit today and tonight that are bound to attract a lot of attention from a sports-minded male audience.... not to mention it's St. Patrick's Day.
    Hopefully OO will get a report or three from the show, and be able to fill you folks in on everything. Here's wishing TNA the best, since getting out on the road (and out from under the Wankers in Orlando) is gonna be a huge step to growing up and becoming a Real Wrestling Company, instead of just a TV Company.
    I believe they've got another show or three planned in the near future, but they'll be sticking in the deep south, which isn't exactly how you up your "cool factor" (there's a reason why escaping Tennessee was a plus for the company).... but they'll be co-promoting the events with NASCAR Tosser Hermie Sadler (who, ironically, I think was actually a ringside guest of WWE at a recent edition of RAW, no?)...
  • In recent promotional appearances, Batista has said that he hopes to be back in action by the middle of April. That'll certainly be a boon to SD!....
    But sadly, a lot of people are working under the assumption that Batista will come back to find his ex-Evolution buddy Randall Orton holding the World Title, and that those two will be SD!'s featured feud throughout the summer. Yippee?
    And if WWE has such a willingness to use the memory of Eddie Guerrero in storylines, can someone tell me what'd be wrong with running with a much more interesting and nuanced Batista/Rey storyline? A version of the one WWE probably wanted to do heading into WM until Batista got hurt? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
  • Several Alert Readers also sent me links to a recent WM promotional interview by Carlito, in which he (as he always does) manages to stay almost perfectly in character without it coming off hokey or kayfabe-y. Instead, it just seems like TV Carlito is just distressingly close to Real Life Carlito.
    The reason so many pointed me towards the interview is because Carlito spent rather a large amount of time bad-mouthing the mental capacity of his WM Tag Team Partner, Chris F. Masters. HA~!
    Which just goes to show that Carlito's not the only one who can't help but have some of his real life self seep into his on-screen character. If you're shocked that Chris F. Masters is a mental midget, raise your hand.
    And if you raised your hand, let me guess: you probably didn't believe my gut-instinct read that Randy Orton was a dimwitted, frat-boy douchebag until you heard the stories of him pooping in girls' gym bags if they didn't have sex with him.
    One of these days, you people will learn to trust me. My Big Brain doesn't make too many mistakes or mis-reads...
    Oh, and in the same interview: Carlito confirmed that current plans are for John Cena vs. Triple H to be the WM22 main event. Thanks for playing SD!, but just go back into your corner and contemplate the many ways you are the Minor Leagues of WWE.
  • Expect Blackjack Mulligan to be a part of the 2006 Hall of Fame class. There are some saying that as part of the deal to bring Mulligan to Chicago for the event, that his son Barry Windham may be getting a test run as a WWE Road Agent.
    I think I've been saying this for about 7 years (since I first saw tapes from Shawn Michaels' now-defunct Texas Wrestling Alliance), but if Windham's back under the WWE banner, I think Lance Cade should change his name to Lance Windham... Cade's never really caught on with WWE audiences, but the guy really does have a ton of upside if they quit worrying about how they package him, and let him do what comes natural.... which is a remarkable impersonation of Barry Windham in his prime.
    And hey, haven't I been hearing that Mike Rotundo has a kid who's finishing up college, where he was an athletic stand-out? US Express 2006, anyone? Beats the hell out of watching Animal's non-stop attempts to resurrect the LOD....
  • And finally for today....
    An expanded bullet point about some very curious recent roster moves by WWE. Depending on what you believe, WWE has added between 4 and 6 new members to the roster.... the odd part: every one of them is a former WWE performer, and not a single one of them caused a single tear to be shed when they left, in the first place.
    Confirmed (by WWE) as back with full-time jobs are Chuck Palumbo and Shannon Moore.
    Andrew "Test" Martin wrestled (and won) dark matches at TV tapings this week, and most expect that he'll soon be announced as officially signing a contract.
    Mark "Henry Godwinn" Canterbury wrestled for OVW this week, with the buzz being that he's healthy enough (he suffered a broken neck years ago) that WWE is bringing him back to the main roster. And yes, I believe he DID do the Godwinn gimmick. Ugh.
    And Mark Jindrak worked for Deep South this week, again with the buzz being that WWE was just making him jump through a quick little hoop before bringing him back to the main roster.
    There are also many who believe that it's only a matter of time before Matt Morgan's name shows up in OVW, Deep South, or in dark matches.
    There are some VERY curious things about these comebacks.... for one, fully a half of these six men have not exactly been shy about bad-mouthing WWE while away from the company. Test has been very outspoken in interviews, while I'm under the impression that Jindrak and Morgan have gone into business for themselves with some retarded internet "reality show" about themselves that also serves as an outlet to vent against WWE.
    And for two, with the exception of Moore, every one of these guys is over 6'4".... leading one guy I talked to to theorize that with WWE's drug testing/wellness program going into effect, Super-Suck-Ass-Sycophant Johnny Ace might be looking to feed Vince McMahon's lust for big manly men by bringing back these guys (with the assumption being that we'll be seeing the Incredibly Shrinking Chris Masters and what-not in coming months).
    I wish I could say with certainty that that theory was false, but.... well, let's be honest: Jindrak's a big fat zero, who never showed a single ounce of personality or ability to connect with the audience during multiple opportunities on TV. He's Randy Orton's equal, but without a famous dad who helps to create an institutional mandate to push you to the moon. And Henry Godwinn? The guy's gotta be pushing 50, and was nothing special 10 years ago in his "prime"? Why not just bring back Hillbilly Jim, who always looks in great shape during his sporadic TV appearances?
    I like the idea of Test coming back, I guess. For one, I never thought he got a fair shake with WWE after the Writer Monkeys screwed him out of his logical break-through feud following HHH's TV Wedding to Stephanie McMahon. And for two, if he's healthy (and now that he doesn't have a wrestling girlfriend to affect his work ethic/concentration), he might be in position to contribute more than he has since roughly 2001.
    I'm still high on Matt Morgan's prospects, too, and don't know why he got fired in the first place. I hope it's true that he's among those on WWE's "to-do" list (since apparently, we've NOT seen the end of this current roster fortification).
    Palumbo and Moore? Meh. Palumbo's probably not much more than a role player, but the chances of the FBI being an entertaining part of SD! go up considerably if Palumbo's in and Vito's out. And it's hilarious that there was almost a Shannon Moore "bidding war" this week, since whether it's TNA (where Moore worked TV tapings this week) or WWE, his only real role is as a partner to a Hardy Brother. TNA would almost have been the better fit, since a team with Jeff would be ideal: Shannon and Jeff could regularly try to out-gay each other.... problem is that Jeff doesn't possess "dedication" or "reliability," and when Jeff doesn't feel like working, Shannon in TNA was just gonna be a stupid-looking X Division jobber. So -- combined with the fact that TNA's money offer was pretty low -- Moore decided to return to WWE, where hopefully he'll un-lame his look and show up as Matt Hardy's new tag partner. Those two against MNM could be pretty awesome.
    It's kind of sad that after WWE alienated so many valuable performers in 2005 -- Jericho, the Dudleys, Christian, Tajiri, Molly, etc. -- their 2006 "Comeback Crop" consists almost exclusively of guys who make you go "Meh." Morgan has upside, and yes, I think Test can contribute, but honestly, ask yourself: if Chuck Palumbo is the answer, do you even want to know the question?
    WWE is not getting anywhere even CLOSE to heart of their current problem with these particular re-hires. A bunch of guys who've been bouncing around, and who are happy (in at least 3 cases) to swallow their pride to cash WWE's checks? Not exactly the top line, able to dictate-their-own-terms kind of performers who'll make a real impact on the on-screen product.
    But to get back any of those impact players (your Jerichos, etc., including TNA cast-offs with whom there is no bad blood -- which is basically everybody but the Dudleys), you pretty much have to have a total institutional shake-up to get WWE back to being a fun place to work where things are prioritized properly. And that's not gonna happen as long as Vince McMahon is convinced that he's not a wrestling company.
    This slew of re-hires is also interesting from another perspective.... we're coming up on the time of year where WWE usually does its "Spring Cleaning" and releases a ton of performers. And instead of cutting the roster, we're adding to it....
    Does that mean that there won't be a spring cleaning this year? Or if there is, which kinds of guys will be cut loose?
    If the "big man fetish" theory is true, that sadly would seem to make Snitsky and Tomko safe from being cut loose this spring. Both are guys who could be released without me shedding a tear.
    And then there's guys like the Bashams, Conway, Dupree, Sylvan.... guys who all kind of got their moments in the sun, but who've contributed zero to the product in the last year. Usually, they'd be prime Spring Cleaning Fodder. Except somebody told me that both Bashams actually just got renewed, which seems baffling.
    Now that I'm only 2-3 weeks behind on OVW TV -- since it's now on TV here in Dayton on a slight delay, and I don't have to wait for quarterly tape deliveries -- I can safely say there's a lot of deadweight in the developmentals. Well, maybe not "a lot," but you can tell that even with Paul Heyman trying to polish turds, he's still handcuffed because he's running a territory meant to feed WWE, not a territory meant to stand on its own merits. That means desperately trying to push/polish a few guys who I'm not entirely sure deserve the effort (but who have a "WWE look"). Maybe some of THEM are the ones who'll be filtered out this spring?
    That awful Tryton guy from TNA cannot be fired fast enough for my tastes, for one. I don't even remember what they're calling him in OVW....
    So anyway, I don't know if these "comings" offset all the "goings" that we talked about on Monday, or what.... but my instinct is that there are more of both coming in the next few weeks. It'll be interesting to see if WWE can make any moves that actually instill a shred of excitement or faith in fans, or if they keep on making moves that inspire apathy and mild confusion.
    Like bringing back Henry Godwinn.
  • That's about all I got for today. I hope you all enjoy YOUR weekends. Me? Due to wellness issues, I'll probably just take it easy, St. Patrick's Day or no.
    It's doubly bad if I end up saying in, too. Because not only is it St. Patty's Day -- one of the most comical Amateur Nights you'll have all year when it comes to spectating idiots out at bars -- but Dayton is also hosting the NCAA Tourney this weekend. Which is an entire OTHER slew of rank amateurs who'd be going out in my Hometown and making asses of themselves for my amusement. It's the Double Whammy of Hilarity. And I'll be doing nothing more exciting than staying at home and watching NCAA Hoops on TV all day and night. Bleargh.
    Hey, since CBS has permission to cherrypick a few ESPN personalities for their broadcasts, maybe Dayton's UD Arena will once again be blessed by the presence of Erin Andrews, as it was for Tuesday's Play-In Game. She leapt to my attention as one of the surprisingly rare Actually Smoking Sportscaster Babes back last fall during the baseball playoffs. And now, she cannot help but be drawn towards Dayton to scratch that itch that's been bugging her since October. My magnetism: it is mighty.
    You'd think babes talking about sports would be a slam-dunk of desirability, but not so: apparently, it's next to impossible to be a woman in sports who isn't (a) deadset on acting like One Of The Guys without stopping to realize that 80% of the guys doing sportscasting are face-slappable tossers who don't actually seem to know anything about sports and who need to be muzzled (Linda Cohn), or (b) not even bothering to pretend to know anything and just skating by on looks (what's her name from Tom Arnold's god-awful dumb-fest on FSN). Oh, and who also isn't an ex-female athlete from a sport where (and god will strike me down for saying this) they don't exactly turn out babes (Cheryl Miller). Erin Andrews is at the very top of a surprisingly very short list of actually-desireable sports babes. All smart and capable of generating spontaneous, non-cliched questions relating directly to the specific game situation and stuff. I like that. The hotness does not hurt, either. Ooohh, baby.
    But I digress.... because if I don't talk about Erin-Andrews-possibly-sticking-around-Dayton-for-today's-NCAA-telecast, then the only other route to go with NCAA Tourney talk would be talking about my bracket. Which would suck. I missed more games yesterday (6) than I missed in the entire first round last year (5). Maybe as you're watching games starting later this afternoon, cheer for NO UPSETS. I was looking, and somehow most of my upset picks were yesterday. And today (other than a 9-over-an-8) I think I picked almost all chalk. Huh. Hopefully that'll get me back in the game.
    Anyway, I'm outta here for today, and again, I hope your St. Patty's Day (and your NCAA Brackets) are better than mine. Don't anybody bother drinking any green beer (blech) in my name, but if you wanted to down a shot or three of Irish Whiskey and send the good karma my way, that'd be acceptable. And I'll see you again on Sunday afternoon/evening -- yes, SUNDAY -- with a full report on WWE's big weekend, TNA's house show, and of course, recaps of SD! and SNME, and everything.
    Of course, then I'll probably take Monday off, as I endeavor to try to juggle my schedule so that I don't have to write on back-to-back days.
    Have fun, be safe, and see you again soon, folks.....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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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
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RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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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
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
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PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
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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.