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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
SD! and TNA: TV Round-Up, plus
Orton, ECW, RAW, and Lots More... 
April 10, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Nothing says "good times" like staying up till the break of dawn, saturating yourself in the collected works of Nirvana and the immortal BlueKid as you "celebrate" the rather morbid Double Anniversary that is April 8, and then dragging what remains of your carcass to your mom's for Ohio Easter (observed) the next morning, and then not getting back home until well after midnight.
  

Actually, they weren't horrible times, either....

But they were definitely times that leave me at something less than my usual self here today as I try to wring 30KB or 40KB of Rick-caliber material out of a pretty sparse collection of newsbites.

So if I am curt with you, there you go:

I have an excuse. And plus, if I sorta half-ass it and get this done in a rush-job, I might actually have time to sneak in a 60- or 90-minute nap before The Rick's Monday TV Viewing begins...

And you know what that would mean: greatly improved mood and concentration by The Me, resulting in a greatly improved RAW Recap for The You tomorrow. Thus, I figure whatever happens with this column today, it gets balanced out for you folks soon enough.

Let's turn this mother out:

  • In the absence of huge news, let's do a bit of a TV Round-Up, OK?
     
    We'll jump back to Friday's SmackDown!, which was -- as advertised -- quite an interesting show.
     
    I think you had a giant in-ring highlight in the form of Orton/Rey (which was about as good a non-gimmick-match performance as any of us have ever seen out of Orton; I guess 8 minutes of chinlocks somehow become more tolerable if they are dressed up as part of a 25-minute match, eh? and again, you cannot overstate the import that Rey has in making pretty much any opponent look amazing)... to my boundless confusion, there were again smatterings of boos for Rey, even heads-up against Orton. Not a ton, but enough to make me have to repair to my Wrestling Laboratory to see if I can come up with some theory to explain what the hell's going on.
     
    Note to WWE: whatever the hell's going on, don't even go getting it through your stupid heads that this somehow is a mandate for a Randy Orton heel turn. That's Thing #1 you can cross off your list. Just remember back to 2 years ago, when there would be very minor pepperings of Orton chants (when he was still a heel), and I think we all know how well it turned out when you decided to build your whole company around a babyface Randy Orton whose sole appeal is to Dumb Girls and also to the body-spray-wearing toolbox frat boys types who enjoy roofying them. Granted, this may be a vocal contingent, but in my on-going quest to believe that life on earth is cosmically worthwhile, I am forced to believe they are a VERY small minority in the grand scheme of things.
     
    Things were also pretty intriguing on the New Development Front.
     
    Shooter Albright, by any other name (and which name *is* it? Gunter? or Gunner? Teddy Long was on one page, the announcers on another), is here. And in time should impress you. I haven't been calling him Baby Benoit for months for no reason.
     
    King of the Ring is also back, and even just from the skit over the weekend, I think they've given us the entire 8-match field, and we can start guessing at where they're going with this.
     
    Obviously, you can immediately moisten my man-panties at the prospects of another Angle/Benoit go-around, possibly involving a heel turn to help balance the SD! roster, come the Finals. In that case, the "crown" is probably something along the lines of a consolation prize for Kurt after dropping the title, but I think we'd all be more than happy with that.
     
    Another possibility: you can use the KotR to rehab Booker T, and give the crown to a bona-fide pre-existing heel as a means to get him elevated back up to the main event picture.
     
    An outside possibility: you could use KotR to "make" Bobby Lashley. Historically, this has been a bad idea ("kings" with pre-existing resumes have always done LOTS better than guys whose first important win was KotR), but as lacking as SD!'s roster is, and as many other bad ideas as WWE's been happy to implement lately, who knows? 
     
    And then the four other "possibilities": forget about them. Orton's not gonna be around to win it after this weekend. Mark Henry better not win it. And not even WWE would entertain the notion of Matt Hardy or Fit Finlay advancing past the first round.
     
    This doesn't appear as though it's something that'll be the basis of a PPV, but maybe they'll stretch it out long enough for the finals to be on the May PPV? Instead, it seems to be another version of the Post-WM SD! Tradition of holding some kind of tourney to elevate a new challenger. 
     
    Speaking of which: the beneficiary of that tactic in 2004 was JBL, who won a "Great American" Tournament and wound up winning the WWE Title as a result. And today, JBL is the US Champion, and kudos to Canadian Bulldog for accurately predicting exactly how JBL could make being a secondary champ still be primarily hilarious. It looks like next week, we begin non-stop gloating over how the US Title proves JBL is the Greatest American. JBL can pull this off, and HOPEFULLY with his promo and match times halved (versus what he got as a main eventer), they can keep it a bit fresher and maybe have JBL Honkeytonk the US Title for a while without it getting stale (as it did towards the end of his WWE Title run). And when it comes time for WWE to send somebody out to Warrior the Honkeytonk Man? I can't be the only one who sees Lashley being a PERFECT man for that job, can I?
     
    I'm having a feeling that, as silly as it might sound in type, the Pirate Burchill/Wench Regal angle is going to be a blast to watch on TV. I've long said (well, at least since Eugene debuted) that Besmirched William Regal is absolute TV Gold. Stuff like that is funniest when the sap's got dignity, and in that regard, Regal truly is WWE's Sideshow Bob. So Burchill has his fun getting Regal to dress up as a bar wench for a few weeks, and the OTHER aspect of Regal's awesomeness rears its head, because few can bring the pure, convincing bad-assery. Remember the week Regal cut such an amazingly intense promo that we almost believed that Regal (on behalf of Eugene) would be the in-ring equal of HHH? Imagine if he used those promo skills, Sunshine, on behalf of someone like -- oh, let's just say -- Harry Smith. Who would become the LOYAL protege that Burchill turned out not to be. I'd buy that.
     
    London and Spanky got a non-title win over MNM? Whoa. Looks like somebody got their heads out of their asses... this is seriously about as good a tag title feud as WWE is capable of producing on EITHER brand right now, and I can't believe it took this long to pull the trigger on it. What we got in the little 6 minute teaser this weekend is just the start of what those four should be able to accomplish.
     
    The last surprising twist over the weekend was the debut of Giant Singh. He's mostly an actor/stuntman (last seen in Sandler's "Longest Yard" remake) who dabbled in wrestling, and has been under WWE contract for about 3 months. By all accounts, his progress down in Atlanta has been less than stellar, and Singh's appearance on TV will -- unless he brings something new to the table now that he's under the bright lights -- just hasten his eventual release. Show up, be tall, job to the Taker, and be gone. It worked for Giant Gonzales. I just feel bad for Daivari in all this: he's probably all of 4 months away from going 0-for-3 in his quest to best the Undertaker.
     
    So anyway, yeah: Singh's debut doesn't quite rate as well as the other surprises with me, but it seems very likely that WWE recognizes his Suck, and will be careful to book things in a way that minimizes how much of it we are subjected to. Another Predictable Taker Feud may be boring, but hopefully they'll keep it from being bad.
     
    Wrap it all up into one 2 hour package, and I feel pretty good about telling you folks, last week, that if you were looking to get back on the SD! Horse, then this would be a good show for you to check out. Hopefully, some of you took advantage of that sage advice. And if you didn't: Jeff Snider is here to fill in all the spots my little analysis left blank for you, in his SmackDown! Recap.
     
  • The rating for SD!? A 2.8, which is up two or three ticks from the final pre-WM22 show, but still not exactly setting the world on fire. But I gather this is roughly the level that WWE and UPN consider to be the "new average" for the show...
     
    Though sustained stretches at or over 3.0 were possible on Thursdays, WWE hasn't been able to do that on Fridays with any regularity. Blame could go to the reduced number of young TV viewers on Friday nights, frequent pre-emptions in major markets, or even (GASP) to the fact that fewer people will show up to watch an inferior product. But don't tell WWE about that last one. It's the one Secret of Management that I don't think they're fully capable of digesting just yet.
     
  • Then we move on to this weekend's Impact. 
     
    First things first: hey, TNA and Spike TV, if you know you're going to be running over by 5 minutes, then FUCKING TELL SOMEBODY. You're on at 11pm on a Saturday, and a lot of us are using DVRs to record your little dog and pony show. You do not please us when you lazily cause us to miss the final part of your show. I gather Spike replayed the UFC crap from earlier in the week; it's not like it was live; everybody knew how long it went over. So you fricking reflect that in your listings to the cable people, and they make sure my DVR knows about it, and then it's almost like you're running a real, grown-up wrestling company that is something other than Spike TV's little afterthought to the REAL prized product, the UFC.
     
    Rant over. I checked, and luckily, TNA is pissing me off in ANOTHER way, and once again ended the show with some crap ass Music Video Montage. So I missed 5 minutes, and 4 of it was something I'd have fast-forwarded anyway? And the other one minute was apparently just a Jeff Jarrett run-in? I guess I can cope.... for THIS week, anyway.
     
    All in all, I thought the show was a pretty good hard sell for this week's Thursday Night Debut for Impact, with a slightly lesser hype job done for the next PPV. At the PPV, Sting is fielding an "army" to go up against Jarrett's troops in a "We Are Not Legally Allowed to Say the Word Wargames" Match. We got a bit more sizzle put behind that this weekend, and they also busted out the added bonus that Sting would announce his other three team members on Thursday's Impact.
     
    OK: so looking at the PPV line-up, the most-logical teammates from a storyline perspective (the Dudleys and Christian) are out. So let's put the only two other Available Babyfaces in the match.... AJ Styles and Rhino are in, I assume. But what about that third spot? There's literally nobody else on the active TNA roster who'd have any business in the match. The Impact Zone Wankers sensed this, and at one point on Impact a few chanted for "Gold-berg, Gold-berg." Um, so Orlando has the biggest Wankers in the (televised) wrestling universe, and they didn't even take a lesson from the WWE Semi-Wankers 2 years ago when they excused Goldberg from the company amidst a chorus of boos? And you, supposedly the Most Intelligent and Discerning of All Fans, actually WANT Steiner and Goldberg inside the same ring at the same time? Are you insane?
     
    I do expect TNA will have to bust out something surprising for that fourth spot on Sting's team, or risk underwhelming the fans with fricking Lance Hoyt or something. They have on-going communications with Kevin Nash. Jeff Hardy is always on the speed-dial as a quick fix, no matter how dubious his long-term reliability. I think MTV is deciding on their dumb-ass wrestling/reality-show pilot this week, and if it's a no-go, Sean Waltman might be released back into the wild, contractually-speaking. And then there's my personal favorite idea I had over the weekend: What About Raven? They're making a big deal about Steiner "not being under TNA contract," so why couldn't Sting counter with a free agent of his own, one who has plenty of beef with Jarrett? I don't know enough about the particulars of the situation to say if this is a feasible scenario, but if all parties are amenable and Raven's able-bodied, then it'd be my favorite of all "surprise" scenarios.
     
    With me just assuming Styles is on Team Sting, let me bring up one other thing that I mentioned months ago: I would be very much in favor of turning AJ Styles heel in an attempt to milk whatever passes for "personality" out of the guy. Plus, logically, he just fits in better with TNA's "establishment."
     
    TNA, showcasing the kind of lack of attention to The Important Things that bugs the crap out of me, had a chance this weekend to sort of tease a bit of that, but nobody even mentioned it. You're telling me AJ Styles is trying to have a match, and Christian runs in to attack Styles' opponent and (presumably) causes AJ to get disqualified, and nobody stops for one second and wonders, "Gee, I wonder what Styles feels about this?"... you don't have to make a huge deal out of it or bludgeon people over the head with it (in other words: Don West shouldn't be allowed to say a single word on the subject), but how about at least ONE piercing glare from Styles directed as Christian, as Christian gave his self-involved promo right after the DQ?
     
    TNA's idea of "storytelling" is not unlike moving pieces around on a chessboard. Yes, they pretty much stick to a basic set of rules and the moves adhere to what we all expect and understand. Sometimes the moves are winning ones; other times the moves are mind-numbingly stupid. But it's still just moving pieces around on a board for TNA. And it shouldn't be: you have to understand you're putting CHARACTERS out there on TV, and you have to give them the material that lets them interact believably with their surroundings AFTER you've moved them from rook-eight to queen-seven. The "move" this weekend was Christian running in to cause AJ Styles to lose a match; the "story" though, should have included at least some kind of reaction/interaction after that move. It's not that fricking complicated, and you don't have to go overboard with it like WWE sometimes does. You just have to have the creativity and attention to detail to fill in a few extra blanks beyond just a standard chess move. It's as simple as somebody backstage asking "Wait, so how would this turn of events make AJ feel?" and then setting aside 10 seconds of TV to get the reaction shot. And then? Whether you go ahead with a heel turn or not, you've done something to add a smidge of personality and character to the blank, vapid slate that is AJ Styles, and that's a good thing.
     
    Before moving on, I'd also like to congratulate Jeff Jarrett on a second-straight week of marrying two wildly-incompatible elements into one hilarious outfit. Last week, it was Gay and Christianity that were meshed together by Jarrett's ensemble.... this week: Gay and Redneck. Leave it to Jarrett to find the way to wear a Wife-Beater (tm) Style t-shirt, and end up looking like HE should be the one that takes the titular beating.
     
    I think I've exhausted my capacity for constructive TNA Talk, if I'm once again critiquing Jarrett's wardrobe. So I'll wrap it up, and leave you in the hands of Jason Longshore's TNA Impact Recap. [Note: link may be dead now. Check later. Jason has been delayed on the recap, but I'll try to get it posted as soon as I can, and at the very least will get it up before I go to bed on Monday.]
     
  • One disclaimer about my Raven Theory: the one reason why I would actually cheer against my own little pet idea is because if Raven is contractually available in June, it'd be REALLY nice to have him on the ECW One Night Stand PPV.
     
    Given everybody that WWE/ECW has lost since last year's show (Dudleys, Sabu, Jericho to name the biggest ones off the top of my head), having somebody as vital to ECW's history as Raven was to help plug a spot on the show would be sweet. Throw in the fact that Terry Funk will apparently be performing this year, and you might have something. To a lesser degree, both Rob Van Dam and Mick Foley are moving over from "guest appearances" to "in-ring performers" this year, which will help.
     
    One Night Stand is only 9 weeks away, so you know Heyman and Dreamer are already hard at work scheming up a plot. My guess is that it won't be too long before hints and stuff start showing up on TV.... Van Dam already sorta broke the seal last week, actually.
     
    Depleted "ECW Roster" or no, I'm definitely already getting excited thinking about One Night Stand. And you know what else I'm getting excited about? I'm excited about BEING EXCITED ABOUT A PPV again. It doesn't happen often, and I love being reminded of what it was like back when PPVs were more a rare pleasure and less a monthly chore.
     
  • Last week's big exciting wrestling story was the suspension of Randy Orton. Following this week's TV tapings, Orton is being excused for 60 days without a paycheck.
     
    The official reason was "Unprofessional Conduct," leading many to wonder exactly what new hijinx the acknowledged Master of Douchebaggery had gotten himself into to justify a suspension. Well, it turns out that there really weren't any new hijinx or even one dramatic event that spurred the suspension. Rather, it was -- quite literally -- just an accumulation of Orton's immature and unprofessional behavior that finally earned him a suspension. At least one person I talked to said that "General On-Going Douchebaggery" really wasn't that bad a description, as I pestered to find out what was up under the assumption that Orton had done some new cataclysmically dumb thing, instead.
     
    But nope. Just a bunch of little stuff that WWE decided to quit putting up with. Apparently, things DID get a bit worse starting in January, and Orton's behavior took a turn for the bratty. One theory: it was in response to his dad being written out and his subsequent water treading. Another theory: it was in response to Angle coming over from RAW and taking "his" roster spot near the top.
     
    I gather -- from my e-mail -- that there's people out there who believe this is entirely the result of Orton breaking the WWE Dress Code. Or at least, it appears that a handful of thinly-disguised Orton Apologists believe that to be the case, and wanted to let me know about it, since they figure my hatred of the Dress Code might be even greater than my hatred of Orton. Bzzzzt, try to entrap me again another time, dum dums. Because (1) the dress code is stupid and WWE has other things they should worry about, but it goes the other way, too, and there are other things a WRESTLER should be worried about than committing Civil Disobedience against a dress code. Orton's still the one more-in-the-wrong.
     
    But mostly (2) there's a lot more than a weekend's worth of dress code violations going on here, people, and once you accept that, it's hard to do anything but applaud WWE for giving Orton a little dose of medicine. As I said last week, Orton's a guy who's never once had to face the consequences of any of the numerous bad decisions he's made in his life. Without knowing the guy personally, it makes it real easy to make some assumptions -- based on people I have known personally -- about what this has done to the caliber of Orton's character. And from there, it's a simple matter to take some measure of pleasure in the idea that he's FINALLY being forced to be held accountable for acting like a 17-year-old all the time. WWE might not be doing it for Orton's benefit (they're really only doing it because they wanted to quash the notion that other wrestlers might get away with similar offenses), but let's all just hope that there is some learning/maturing that happens here, regardless.
     
    Look, I know wrestling's not a business that cares much about character.... phenomenal assholes have always thrived in the business, actually. It's a shame, but it's true, and to a large degree, as long as a phenomenal asshole can still be phenomenally good at his job, who are we to give a shit? It's part of the reason why I've never been nearly as hard on Barry Bonds as 99% of other people. 
     
    But Randy Orton is not Barry Bonds. You could stuff Orton's dim little self full of mega-doses of HGH for the next 2 years, and there stands a reasonable chance he's not going to progress much past his current status as "adequate."
     
    And more on topic: character itself might not be integral to what WWE looks for in their talents. But because this is NOT genuine competition, it is entertainment driven, the ability to FAKE having character (ANY kind of character, be it positive or negative) does become vital. And this is where Orton seems to deviate substantially from countless other wrestling assholes from the past. Those wrestling assholes had to EARN their assholitude through years of experience and maturation.
     
    Whereas Orton is one of wrestling's first documentable cases of a guy who -- no matter what he does -- always seems like he's got about as much going on, character-wise, as a blank slate of a semi-privileged 17-year-old. And speaking for all of us: unless you are the parent of said 17-year-old, not a one of us is gonna give a shit. It's not somebody you cheer for, it's not somebody you boo, it's just somebody who you try to ignore until they're ready to bring something worthwhile to the grown up's table.
     
    Again: I'm not saying that Orton's worthless until he becomes a sparkling conversationalist, a gracious gentleman, and an all-around-fascinating Renaissance Man... in a world where fundamentally-uninteresting girls can make a career out of showing off their fake boobs, who are we to begrudge a guy like Randy Orton the same opportunity? Enjoy the shirtlessness gene, Randy, and some of the rest of us will handle all those other categories. But I *am* saying that it sure seems like Orton needs a kick-in-the-pants to get past this point of vapid, uninteresting immaturity, so he can start at least PRETENDING to have some kind of gravitas as a character.
     
    So let's just cross our fingers and hope that, at some point in the next 60 days, Orton at least ponders the issue a bit, realizes some things he oughta change in his behavior, and comes out of this with the ability to make that one connection with the audience that he so rarely has. The one that requires some character, whether it's real or faked.
     
  • And let's see: did I stretch that over-wrought Orton ranting out long enough.... YEP! A rock solid 40KB, which means I can move on to closing with a quick preview of tonight's RAW. VERY quick.
     
    Matchwise, all that we know about is that Kane and Big Show will get a Tag Title Rematch against the Spirit Squad tonight. I see no reason to change the titles back, since they'll see more action in the hands of the Spirit Squad than in the hands of Division Killers like Kane/Show. But we can still hope that they muster up a better showing than the 4 minute match they delivered last week.
     
    Storywise, the big development of the night is going to be the announcement of John Cena's next #1 Contender. Or ContenderS. Ahem. Triple H and Edge both have compelling arguments, and we do have another PPV in 3 weeks, so a decision will have to be made. Even if that decision is to make no decision between HHH and Edge. If you catch my drift.
     
    [Tangent: let's see. RAW is in Milwaukee. Probably gonna mean solid boos for Cena. He spent the weekend doing house shows in Bumblefuck, Iowa, and getting 90% cheers, just as I predicted/worried-about last week. Like I said: this could get messy and confusing if they don't maybe pick one message for Cena and stick with it.]
     
    The other big match for the upcoming PPV will be the McMahons vs. Michaels handicap match. The one where Michaels ostensibly has God as his tag team partner. I, for one, am holding out hope that WWE can actually milk something interesting out of this, and would suggest that even the most zealous among you give it a chance, too, if you have even a shred of faith in.... um, in Shawn Michaels' faith. Since he's having to OK every step of the way on this storyline. How about Michaels concocting a set of humiliating coincidental "accidents" to befall Vince over the next few weeks, leading Vince to get religion and kick God out of the tag match? It'd (a) be funny, and (b) allow God to "keep his heat."
     
    Carlito vs. Masters? The mic work could be gold; the ring work could be a mess, considering that Carlito's still a bit green and Masters flat-out sucks. Flair vs. Umaga? No sale. Mickie vs. Trish? I'd be up for more story and less immediate rematch; especially depending on how Trish's knee is. Chavo's nervous breakdown? I dunno, but if WWE gets it right, it'll be the first time they've used the Ghost of Eddie correctly in a story in 4 months... and somebody needs to get Shelton an opponent: RVD is doing house shows, but his Money in the Bank storyline will supercede that on TV effective immediately. Maybe Carlito, the babyface, after Carlito finishes up with Masters?
     
    We'll see. But for now, that oughta do you by way of an overview of what to expect on RAW tonight. For a much more amusing and detailed overview of what you actually got on RAW, I will see you all tomorrow with the reliably-awesome RAW Recap, OK?
     
    Till then, kids..... 


  
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RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
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RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
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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