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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Randy Orton: Gone For 60 Days... Plus 
Ratings Updates, Comings & Goings, MORE!
April 5, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Any dentists out there want to offer up a nickel's worth of advice for free?
  

Cuz unless I'm going crazy, it almost feels like I have a Bonus Wisdom Tooth coming in... all my boys already came in -- nice and straight and healthy -- and I thought I was fricking done with teething.

Is there any condition that would simulate that sensation? I mean, one I'd actually have to worry about and go get checked out professionally?

 
Or do I just spend another couple nights self-medicating with Light Pharmaceuticals and see if my Freak Mouth actually does produce a Bonus Tooth, or if the problem just goes away quietly? Perhaps one extra Wisdom Tooth is somebody's way of giving me proof that I really am 25% smarter than everybody else?

Yeah, I like the sound of that. And you like the sound of me shutting up and getting on with Today's Business:

  • Randy Orton has been suspended for 60 days for "unprofessional conduct." WWE has officially announced the suspension, although it has not yet gone into effect, as they will keep Orton on for at least two weeks, apparently, before enforcing it.
     
    Without specifically spoiling anything, Orton fulfilled his obligation at last night's SD! TV tapings, and is also scheduled for a match the following week.
     
    Given that this news came out of left field yesterday afternoon (in fact, the initial messages I got about it said Orton was to be suspended "indefinitely," and everybody was pretty shocked), this might be the compromise: have him remain on hand for a few extra shows just so he can do the rounds and either fade into the background or be written out.
     
    Again, the news came out of nowhere at some point yesterday afternoon, then Orton worked the SD! Tapings, and then WWE.com confirmed the news. So that's the timeline: suspension levied, Orton still works, and then WWE gets around to confirming the internet buzz.
     
    Of course, the first big issue is obviously "Why?"... and there is no concrete word, and not even anybody willing to share informed speculation at this point. "Unprofessional conduct" covers a lot of ground... and it covers a lot of ground that Orton himself has covered, too. His track record when it comes to maturity reads like a blank sheet of paper.
     
    On thing I should point out: suspensions of fixed length are a rarity in WWE. In wrestling you can send a guy home, if he's out of line, and only bring him back when you need him. The fact that WWE ended up announcing this, very specifically, as a 60 day suspension strikes me as odd. As if there were some specific rule Orton broke, one that had a prescribed punishment.
     
    A look at the new WWE Drug Policy reveals a 60-day suspension is the punishment for a second positive test. Problem is, baseline testing was only done two weeks ago, and so Orton would had to have failed two tests AFTER that (which I don't think is even medically-fair, since don't you have to space the things out?). And that just doesn't jibe with the fact that WWE has actually handled the new drug policy very openly; why would they "cover" for Orton by inventing a different reason for his suspension?
     
    It *is* possible, I guess, that Orton could have failed two consecutive fruit-in-beer tests.... he's got a real addiction there. But the only punishment that really fits THAT crime is being mocked publicly and having your manhood called into question.
     
    Joking aside, the "unprofessional conduct" umbrella could mean almost anything. And again: Orton's behavior in the past paints him as a fairly immature, insecure dude with almost-nonexistent judgment. You don't have to know the guy personally to just read the sorts of things he's done in the past and get a pretty good picture in your head.... intelligent, likeable, responsible people don't barely-graduate high school, go AWOL from the military because it was too hard, get daddy's help getting a job in the family business, and then once entrenched earn a reputation as a guy who will spill drinks on and poop in the gym bags of women who don't cotton to his charms (assuming, of course, that he has any).
     
    What's a little strange is that, no matter how many stories you hear about Orton being a bit of a tool, his behavior is never presented as being unacceptably outside the bounds of wrestling's "unwritten rules." There's been pooping in gym bags for decades, and stuff like that is handled "in house," via that magical mechanism Lockerroom Justice (or "Wrestler's Court," or whatever).... you can -- assuming you're like me and not retarded -- come up with all kinds of questions about a "justice" system that condones bag-pooping and soap-raping as Acceptable Hazing Rituals, but that doesn't change the fact that up till now, Orton's known-behaviors have been amazingly immature and obnoxious, but NOT against the rules of wrestling.
     
    What's different this time? I dunno.... maybe WWE's trying to clean things up, finally. Maybe Orton "ribbed" the wrong person. Maybe it's got nothing to do with that aspect of Orton's immaturity... there are actually strong indications that this is a punishment levied because of Orton's on-the-job immaturity. Late to the arenas, breaking the fabled dress code, using too many chinlocks, taking a page out of his old man's book and unknowingly bleeding hepatitis-juice all over the ring so others may join you in your infected state.... well, some of those I just made up. But you get the idea. There's a veritable plethora of possible violations. 
     
    I think the explanation I like best, for now, is that no matter which (or which combination) of these things prompted Orton's suspension, you can sum up Orton's crime as that of Douchebaggery.
     
    I'm a big enough man to admit how small a man I am: and yes, some part of me sees this as Happy News. Look at Orton's track record: he's never had to deal with any consequences of his actions. He's had everything handed to him. For him, maybe this is a character building experience, and one that'll end up turning him into a more complete person.... which, in turn, is the sort of thing that helps you try to convince an audience that you're anything other than a vapid, line-mangling, compulsively-chin-locking man bimbo.
     
    There's a hell of a lot of schadenfreude here at watching a guy who you can't help but presume to be a tosser get taken down a few pegs for the first time in his whole life. But there's also an honest hope that somehow this will work out for the best: for Randall, in his quest to actually grow out of acting like he's still 17, and for fans, on the off-chance that the new Orton is a bit less of an on-screen black hole.
     
    I can't even really muster up and sadness or frustration at what this does to the SD! roster. Yes, it's another hit, and yes, it's another hit to a woefully thin heel side. But the fact is, if you don't have any desire to actually see Orton pushed as a top heel, then how are you supposed to be sad when WWE is FORCED to drop him out of a top heel spot? You can't.
     
    This'll just force WWE to get creative. I figure a heel turn is coming from one of SD!'s top faces (Batista's still my pick), and already at this latest set of tapings, they've debuted a new heel into the upper-card mix. And for fuck's sack, won't somebody recognize that Booker and Sharmell have been two of the most entertaining characters on TV and get them away from the Boogeyman so they can help out as main event heels?
     
    Anyway, the effects on SD! are a discussion for another time. For now, the shocking news is that Randy Orton has been suspended by WWE for 60 days.
     
  • Speaking of SD! tapings, it sounds like a very interesting show... I hinted -- in the RAW Recap -- at how there are usually news-worthy twists and debuts right after WM every year, but that "Umaga" didn't exactly live up to those expectations.
     
    Well, it seems maybe WWE recognized SD!'s lingering "b-show" taint, and saved the good stuff for them. Two debuts (one VERY good, the other not-so-good-but-will-serve-a-purpose) and an intriguing announcement: the return of the King of the Ring as a SD!-only prize.
     
    No word on if this will just be a "free-per-view" tournament to fill time till the next SD! PPV, or if it actually will be the next SD! PPV... I checked with an associate in the PPV distribution business, and he said that they didn't yet have any promotional materials for WWE's May PPV (which is a SD! one, and would normally have been called Judgment Day, I think; or Vengeance; or something; I'm only slightly better with WWE's lame off-month PPV names than I am with TNA's), which struck him as odd.
     
    Anyway, if ever you wanted to jump back on the SmackDown! horse, this week would be a good week to try. Above and beyond the new guys and the KotR announcement, they've shaken some things up and look to be pushing more of the right guys into promising slots on the card. And pushing more of the Mark Henrys right out of a job. Nee haw.
     
  • Ratings Round-Up Time.....
     
    The final SD! before WrestleMania did a meager 2.5 rating. Of course, that's only "meager" versus what SD! is capable of in the timeslot (where they spent a solid stretch at or above 3.0)... in "WWE Think" the 2.5 is solid for a Friday night, and even better by UPN network standards, so there's absolutely nothing wrong with drawing only 80% of your potential audience on the eve of your biggest show of the year.
     
    In the anticipated WWE vs. TNA showdown, WWE won by a landslide. The Hall of Fame special did a 1.8 rating (which is a few ticks higher than it did last year on SpikeTV). TNA did a 0.6 rating, proving that there is some limited overlap between WWE and TNA audiences. Putting a good spin on the Impact rating: it was only a drop of 0.2 from the show's average. Putting a bad spin on it: they lost a full 33% of their audience from the week before.
     
    And on Monday night, the post-WM edition of RAW did a 4.1 rating. That's still solid and on par with the year-to-date average, but it's down nearly half-a-point from the week before. Usually, the trend for post-PPV shows is that they gain a few ticks from people curious to see what happened. Of course, you have to factor in that RAW was up against the NCAA basketball game, but ratings for hoops were way down this year, so that shouldn't have had TOO big an effect. I'm kinda surprised RAW didn't score significantly higher.
     
  • Speaking of the Hall of Fame... in addition to the one hour special on USA Network, WWE.com covered the first two hours of festivities. In fact, you can still watch them, now.
     
    Despite my own aversion to watching TV on my PC, I had a very long, very strange, very sleepless night on Saturday, and when I decided I'd had enough of being contemplative about things which didn't seem like a good use of my time, I decided to let WWE try to distract me with the 2 hours Hall of Fame thingie. 'Twas well worth staying up past dawn for.
     
    I briefly mentioned it already in the WM Recap, but two of the highlights were definitely John Cena's induction of William Perry (complete with an old-tymey NFL Films style voice over of Fridge's highlight package), and Sensational Sherri's speech (which I will again deem HIGH-LARIOUS, since I'm not entirely sure that Sherri was entirely grounded, but I also didn't care).
     
    In fact, pretty much everything was cool on the webcast. The only guy that fell flat was Tony Atlas; even the Gagnes knew to keep it short, and only focused on the important stuff. And the nice part is: Atlas went on last, so if you wanted to watch, you could pretty much click off after Sherri finishes, and know you're not missing a thing. A definite Endorsement From The Rick, which is rare for WWE.com.
     
    The other thing I wanted to mention wasn't a "highlight," but more a newsworthy appearance....
     
    Estranged RAW Figurehead Eric Bischoff was in attendance, and spotted on-screen (and was called out by Sherri, too). Bischoff's status with the company has been the subject of much uncertainty the past 4 months.... he left on what many assumed was a one-month vacation, and then rumors started circulating that he'd not be coming back ever.
     
    His presence during WM Weekend certainly proves he's still on speaking terms with WWE. And given RAW's GM Status, Erin's presence on Monday nights could be EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. We limped through with Vince McMahon sort of commandeering RAW for the purposes of getting through to WM22, but now, it'd be nice to get things back on track with a full-time General Manager and start phasing out Vince. Considering that Vince was the force behind Bischoff's departure, and considering that Vince is likely due for on-going Ritual Humiliation in coming weeks (Shawn Michaels wouldn't agree to be a part of such a blasphemous angle if God wasn't going over Vince at the next PPV), Sleazy E's return to the GM Job could be a simple matter of things coming full circle.
     
    Considering that other GM candidates ALWAYS include the name of Dusty Rhodes, I'd take the return of Bischoff. I might not respect Bischoff a whole lot, but I do enjoy him as an on-screen performer. Whereas Dusty just gives me the gripes, and always has. Well, I guess when I was in middle school and Dusty was in polka dots, I liked him; but I was young and stupid.
     
    We'll see what happens, but hey: a Bischoff sighting. Caught me by surprise.
     
    Also surprising at the Hall of Fame: Trish Stratus seemed to be there, unescorted, the only date-less superstar they cut away to all night. A TRAVESTY~! 
     
  • In what could be one of my most crafty and subtle of segues of all times, I can say, "Speaking of Trish"....
     
    Because her former "Problem Solver" has seen the end of his days in WWE. For now. Travis "Tyson" Tomko asked for his release from WWE on Monday, and received it. Word is that he became frustrated when WWE decided to replace him as Snitsky's tag team partner (with Goldust; they'll be playing off their shared freakness).
     
    Already treading water as it was, Tomko lost his tag partner and his last best chance for showing up anywhere other than Heat webcasts, so he decided to nut-up and ask to be cut loose so he can hone his craft elsewhere. Reportedly, he wants to focus on Japan. Which is Secret Code for "Won't be burning his bridges with WWE by going to TNA just yet."
     
    Given the recent re-hires made by WWE, you can't help but wonder if Tomko didn't just ask for his release so WWE will come crawling back to him in a month, offering him more money. He's over 6'5" and he never amounted to anything in WWE. Just like Palumbo and Test and all those other dudes! You're found out, Tomko! 
     
  • But somebody who you WILL be seeing in WWE, and probably not too far in the future: Harry Smith, son of "the British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith.
     
    Smith either has, or will soon, sign his WWE contract. And most believe that he'll only spend a cup of coffee in the developmentals. Harry has been wrestling pro-style matches for 8 years, and he's only 20 years old. Such is life when your dad is the Davey Boy Smith and you're essentially an in-law of the Harts.
     
    Two years ago, Harry turned down a guaranteed WWE contract, not wanting to focus on a single style in Louisville. Once "legal," Smith took bookings all over the world, and everybody (except HHH, Vince McMahon, and Johnny Ace) believe he got a MUCH superior training by doing so.
     
    At least two WWE employees I know of have raved constantly about Smith being "TV Ready" at the age of 20. A visit to OVW seems inevitable, though, as the WWE Mantra is "We can't put you on TV till Creative has something for you." Oy.
     
    In Harry's case: he's the son of a future Hall of Famer, he's 6'5" and 240 lbs., and he can burn rubber in the ring. It doesn't take a whole lot of "Creative" to intro that guy.
     
    For the record, I want a pat on the back: three months ago, in my 2005 Year End Awards, I voted Harry Smith as the #3 Breakout Star of 2006 (behind only Ken Kennedy and Bobby Lashely) when everybody else was busy making cases for (*cough*) Alex Shelley. 
     
    And that's why you worship me as your Wrestling Analysis God. Cuz I'm in the trenches WATCHING the important videotapes. Not holding a shaky-cam, having a gay-ass haircut, and producing cheesy videotapes.
     
    [This Random Tangent To Mock TNA and Alex Shelley For Those Lame Vignettes Has Been Paid For By: Citizens To See if I Can Once Again Get More Assclowns To E-Mail Me About My TNA Hatred Than I Did For My Blasphemy. Seriously, people: I use WWE's acquisition of Ozzie Guillen to ask the age-old question "Who Would Jesus Cornhole?", and you're more pissed about my TNA mockery than the fact that I'm going to hell? Either I've lost my touch, or I've lost every single one of my god-fearing readers over the years without realizing it.....]
     
  • As we talked about a few weeks ago: Val Venis' little injury angle with the Spirit Squad was done for a reason.... he's getting about 3 months off for arm surgery. 
     
  • Not that anybody's been holding their breath, but Bob Holly may be ready to return from his own arm surgery in a month or two. How this guy doesn't end up on WWE's Spring Cleaning list at this stage is beyond me, but Salty O'Sourpuss is widely expected back on the road by June. 

     
  • Several alert readers directed me to a John Cena interview in the past few days.... after I talked about Cena's problems being related to the fact that he's a "wigger first, wrestler second," they showed me the interview, in which Cena says he openly campaigned to stop rapping and stuff on TV because he wanted to let fans know that he *is* a wrestler first.
     
    Which is a nice idea, John, but you should have consulted with the Writer Monkeys, then, since they have the announcers trying to salvage your fan support by EXPLICITY tying to you hip-hop and rap, and tying HHH to wrestling. Another case where I honestly believe Cena's not a bad dude, but he's got people making bad decisions for him.
     
    Then again: in the same interview, Cena also proudly boasted that he designs all his own merchandise, because he wants it to reflect who he is and what he's about. I don't know what that "Hustle, Loyalty, Respect" shirt is about, John, except that it sounds like about the kind of thing that a fucking high school football team would put on their annual t-shirt to make it sound like they're deeper than a puddle, but then they look back 10 years later and don't have a fucking clue why they put that on a t-shirt.
     
    And you really want to take credit for "Ruck Fules"? Really?
     
  • And lastly, to answer some e-mails.... no, there is no concrete information about just how seriously WWE and Vince McMahon pursued Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin for appearances either at WM or RAW. But given that Hogan said he was planning on flying back to Chicago in time for RAW, it's odd that WWE would then not use him for what was widely expected to be an angle with Austin.
     
    An interesting side bar, however, when you check out Bret Hart's post-WM appearance on On The Record on Canada's TSN... in telling stories about the Hall of Fame, Hart says it was great seeing Austin again, and how they caught up earlier in the evening on Saturday, and then together they schemed to snub Hogan up on the dais, in exchange for the way Hogan had treated both of them in the past.
     
    Hart, apparently, went out of his way to not shake Hogan's hand, at the very least. I don't remember if Austin did the same thing or not, but his line about "having a can of whup-ass with Hulk Hogan's name on it" *was* accompanied by a sort of hilariously dismissive look around the room, as if Austin was pantomiming "I dunno, is he even here tonight?".
     
    Now, Bret has a way of -- shall we say -- presenting stories in the way that make him look best.... it's hard to say just how much "snubbing" was going on at Austin's end, but if there was even the WHIFF of something like that, the egos in play would probably dictate the end of any Hogan/Austin angle at either Mania or RAW.
     
    And I'll say this, too: one of the things on RAW that did sort of annoy me is that it felt like they were padding things out in many spots (with replays and general filler).... if that was going on to help mask that Vince lost a precious 15 minute Hogan/Austin bit, it MIGHT make a bit of sense. Otherwise, I STILL don't know why we got 2 minutes more coverage of the Spirit Squad standing around AFTER their match than the match itself took.
     
    It's just a theory, folks, and it's one based on Bret Hart's side of a story, so.... maybe you want half the shaker of salt?
     
  • That's all for today, kids. Not sure when I'll see you again, but if it's not Friday, then it won't be till Monday. No weekend updating this time around. I was reminded last night that Ohio Easter is actually *this* Sunday for me. And Saturday, April 8, is The Annual Day Of Remembrance and Introspection for The Me, for reasons that I think I've explained enough here in the past. Between spending one day hoping to hell that my frail digestive tract lets me handle one fairly-solid Contemplative Drunkening without putting me back on my deathbed, and then spending another day out at my mom's eating ham, I'll have my plate full enough.
     
    So I'll see you when I see you....


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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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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