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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Booker/Batista, RAW/Ratings, Timeslot
Drama, TNA PPV, and Lots More.... 
May 12, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I don't know what it's like wherever you're at, but here in southwest Ohio, it's been one weird-ass day for the middle of May.
  

Just bleak, damp, cold, and with clouds so dense that people were driving around all day with their headlights on, and you had to have all your lamps blazing just to see your way around the house at noon-time.

Well, that last part's a bit of a fib... as countless friends of mine would tell you, between my propensity for late hours and my

resistance to turning on lights (and preference for 40-watt bulbs when lighting becomes positively necessary), I am less a man, and more some kind of Sentient Fungal Growth. A creature of the darkness, I am. Well: of the dimness. [Note: I am not afeared of the light, or anything. I just don't see why it's necessary in such great quantities all the time. Same way as I don't understand why my mom's TV always has the volume up around 26 whenever I visit there, but I'm just fine with it around 18. Keep it laid back and moderate, says I! Unless it's my rock 'n' roll, the verb "to blare" is anathema to me! So just trust me: no man who has as much fun as I do being one of Southwest Ohio's Finest Baseball Umpires and also Wearing a Tan Damned Well can be accused of fearing the light!]

So I guess I'm not really complaining if today felt more like a Sunday in November: just sort of perpetually-twilight and unpleasant outside, making you want to curl up on the couch and enjoy 12 hours of lethargy until you can reasonably just go back to bed again.  

Although it might suit me on an afternoon in late autumn, it's still not really the kind of mood you want to be in on a Friday evening in May (and the prospects of Couch Lethargy only get worse when I remember that the Great Khali is main eventing SmackDown! tonight; ugh). But I do have some other stuff (season finale of "The Office," come to papa!) on DVR from the past couple days... not to mention I'm plowing through reruns of "Deadwood" on HBO-on-demand in anticipation of Season 3 starting in a few weeks! And maybe I'll catch a break, and the Reds game down the road in Cinci won't get completely rained out, afterall, and I can watch that, too.

And if you can sense my apathy as we slog through a pretty sparse bit of weekend news? Well, at least now you know the reason why. Let's ride:

  • The week's biggest news story is probably also the week's most-over-blown news story. Thanks to WWE.com's hyperbolic coverage, fans know that Batista and Booker T had a real-life fight, but have almost ZERO clue as to exactly what significance to place on the incident.
     
    In fact, I gather that pretty much every reputable "Wrestling Journalist" (*cough*selfdeludeddouchebags*cough*) labeled the Booker/Batista incident as a work -- a purely-fabricated wrestling angle -- for upwards of a full day or two. Though to be fair: as e-mails came in to me and I checked out WWE.com's write-up(s), I can't really blame them. Not only does WWE.com have all the credibility of the National Inquirer, but the style in which the incident was reported was laced with frilly language and exaggerated details of violence. 
     
    In their rush to "scoop" the "journalists" on this story, WWE.com basically clouded the minds of those very journalists, sending them to their keyboards to dismiss WWE's latest attempt to work-the-smarts. My irony circuits are officially on overload, as I don't know if this is indicative of the problem with the imagined art of "wrestling journalism" (as opposed to "informed wrestling punditry as practiced by well-grounded, intelligent people who realize they are still only fans, and not fucking Woodward and/or Bernstein," which is pretty much the most serious one should ever get about their Wrestling Discourse) or if this is yet another piece of evidence that WWE.com is an insulting and worthless propaganda machine unless you are one of the few remaining "true believers." But to any wrestling fan in search of intelligent, upfront coverage, WWE.com has cried wolf so many times that even when they FINALLY GET ONE RIGHT, nobody believed them.
     
    In either case, by Tuesday night when I was gathering up all the info (on the ultimately-false notion that I was gonna have the opportunity to write a column for Wednesday), the story had already stopped being about Booker and Batista, and to me had become a pretty-comical little farce just in terms of how the story got disseminated.
     
    For whatever it's worth, the deal is basically this: WWE was shooting it's SummerSlam commercials on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. Booker and Batista got into a heated debate, which turned into a physical tussle, and then was broken up in literally seconds by others. It's something that has happened countless times in the past, and which usually doesn't rate much more than a footnote in the venerable Wrestling Observer Newsletter, a true bastion of Important And Relevant Wrestling Journalism. Provided you think UFC is the same thing as wrestling, and loves you 8 pages of worthless indie house show results every week. Which you shouldn't.
     
    But I digress. It's this damned weather, fouling my mood.
     
    My point is that all signs point to the incident being very real. But also very tame, and by wrestling's sometimes-retarded ethos, something that didn't even really step over the bounds of being a "professional dispute." However, WWE.com's telling of the story turns it into something more than that... after most fans spent a day or two assuming it was another attempt at running an "internet angle" on the website, the truth came out, and then fans went 180 degrees the other direction and bought into every graphic detail about the Truly Epic and Bloody Battle waged by Booker and Batista.
     
    And perhaps there-in lies the method to WWE.com's madness? Even though the titanic struggle resulted in Batista having little more than a few scratches and Booker sporting what you could probably call "almost a shiner," the way the story broke now has even relatively-savvy fans thinking that Booker and Batista are mortal enemies. And with a new synergy between the Writer Monkeys and the Web Monkeys, you just might see that turned into a storyline when Batista returns to TV within the next few weeks. And you just might see fans respond to it with a bit more vigor than they would have if they hadn't been sold the hyperbolic bill of goods by WWE.com.
     
    In follow-up coverage, WWE.com has also quoted both Booker and Batista. I won't say the comments are "worked," but I think it's safe to say that the comments are guarded and filtered a bit, just to make sure readers get a specific impression of the confrontation being more cataclysmic than it really was. Booker's story is that Batista is a prima donna, and he just did what he had to do to "clear the air." Batista's story is that the fight was "necessary" and even though he's "not a prick," this had to happen for him and Booker to be able to work together.
     
    Actually, this makes me think of two things: (1) a few readers who are intimately familiar with my desire to turn Batista heel against Rey later this summer thought that the way WWE.com presented things, Booker was "in the right" and Batista was the bad guy. They thought this might be a clever way of foreshadowing a heel turn for Batista. Meh: maybe, I dunno for sure, but my instinct is that'd be about a 3.8 Degree-of-Difficulty move, and the monkeys at WWE have a hard enough time pulling off the 1.2 moves.
     
    And (2) Booker and Batista's comments brush up against the reality of the situation without directly presenting the truth of the matter. Booker's notion that Batista is a pompous "prima donna" is a notion shared by a few. But so is Batista's notion that he's not a prick. It's just more of that hierarchical/turf-war mentality that permeates wrestling, and once Batista got shipped over to SmackDown! last summer, he took the job of being the champ VERY seriously. To some, Batista's estimation of his own importance to the brand was a bad thing, as he hadn't "paid dues" yet after coming over from HHH's Protective Bubble on RAW so who is he to place himself at the epicenter of our lockerroom? To others, Batista's belief in his own importance resulted in him working through injuries and doing other things that actually amounted to "dues paying," and they respected that ethic.
     
    You know me: I don't consider "seniority" to be the same thing as "superiority." This is why I could never enter the military, where I'd be asked to blindly follow the orders of some 40-year-old dipshit with an IQ half of mine and lagging well-behind me in critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, just because he has more jewelry on his collar than I do. This is also why I fucking love Jack Bauer. It's OK to be a stubborn, self-confident asshole, but only provided you're smarter than everybody else and you're always right, baby! 
     
    And back on topic: it's why I'd tend to side with Batista a bit... this is about doing your job and doing it the best he can: and if Batista took doing his job so seriously that some of his co-workers thought he was over-estimating the importance of being the champion? Well, that's not necessarily a totally bad thing. And keep in mind: if wrestling was really all about tenure and dues-paying (instead of about performance), Bob Holly would be a World Champion. Which is probably a mean thing to say considering what Bob's up against these days, but whatever....
     
    Like I said: this story stopped being about Booker and Batista days ago, so if I'm rambling, it's only because I'm looking for an angle so that I can talk about this long enough to justify it being a Headline Story. I think I've probably hit on a few new things and added to your understanding of the issue, here, so Mission Accomplished.
     
    But if you want me to quickly Bottom Line it: yes, Booker and Batista had a little scuffle earlier this week. Yes, it was a real scuffle, despite the fact that it was first reported by WWE.com. But no, it's not nearly a cataclysm most made it out to be, and I assure you that the earth will continue to revolve around the sun and WWE's business will continue as usual almost as if nothing cosmically significant had happened.
     
  • Going back to Monday, I'll again re-assert my belief that RAW was an above-average show, it's just that the strongest elements on the show were maybe not the kinds of things that will go over with a live crowd that thinks Disneyland is the end-all and be-all of fun.
     
    To me, Edge/Foley/Dreamer was the show-stealer. As I explained in the Recap, I think they could have even improved things a bit in the set-up of the match/angle (to increase the impact of the Moment when Foley turned on Dreamer), but mostly, I'm quite sure that if things fell flat, it was just because Anaheim isn't the place where you have a huge amount of ECW-savvy fans.
     
    And frankly, I'm stoked for where they go with this storyline. Look for Mick to once again reference his "WrestleMania Moment" (which was the Montalban-ian look on Edge's face after their match), and unless I miss my guess, look for Foley to admit that he saw that look of "What have I done, and was it worth it?" on Edge's face, and realized that he *also* didn't think it was worth it. And thus, that's why Foley isolated it as a monumental WM Memory: it's the "moment" that made him realize that being "hardcore" at this stage of his life is silly, and the fans don't understand and appreciate him, they just want him to jump off high places and get set on fire and yadda yadda yadda.... it'd basically be a tweaked re-do of the character he played on his way out of ECW in 1996, and I think it'd go over gangbusters in 2006.
     
    There was some other good stuff on the show, too. And precious little that truly sucked (Umaga, I'm looking at you!). Again, I cannot recommend my very own OO RAW Recap strongly enough for those who want additional details.
     
  • Rating on Monday was a 4.1, which is up one-tenth from the week before, but still basically right around RAW's recent averages.
     
    So I guess the competition from David Blaine's whatever-that-was didn't hurt WWE.... I'd just like to say that my understanding of Blaine's latest stunt comes entirely from Letterman/Stewart/Colbert/etc., and that I couldn't even be bothered to read the newswire stories that might have explained why I was expected to give a shit. And given my sources, I'd just like to say that I totally agreed with whichever clever bastard it was who quipped that "Blaine will come out of his gay little snow globe on Monday night on ABC. At which point, maybe he'll actually do a goddamned MAGIC TRICK."
     
  • Ken Kennedy is now working off the ring rust in OVW. His return to SmackDown! is imminent, and along with Batista, it can't come too soon.
     
    Only question is if Kennedy will be able to maintain a heel persona on SD!.... he was already gaining babyface momentum just as he got hurt, and you always get that kneejerk babyface pop anytime a star returns from a lengthy absence, so....
     
    I dunno, maybe he can pull it off like Carlito and work as a heel despite babyface-ish charisma. Or maybe what we need is for both Kennedy and Batista to come back, and both of them to reverse roles by the end of the summer? We'll see...
     
  • Depleted as it may be, SD! will get Kurt Angle back for TV purposes by the end of the month. Which leads me to believe that booking sheets that put Kurt back on house-show line-ups in June will also end up being accurate.
     
    Angle's next match will be at whatever SD!'s upcoming PPV is called (No Mercy? Vengeance? Unforgiven? Who the hell knows? Or cares?). And it'll be against Mark Henry. Ugh. Kurt's hurting, but he'll still show up to try to polish THAT turd? It's only a rematch of the worst WWE PPV main event in recent memory! Just stay home, Kurt.
     
    Seriously: with a line-up that includes Angle/Henry and Taker/Khali, I'm expecting the PPV Preview for that show to feature a record-small-number of trOOps bothering to make predictions. I'll have to start making them up myself and attributing them to others just to get up to a half-dozen pick sets! [Nah, I'm too lazy to do that...]
     
  • Some are saying that Harry Smith (son of the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith) has a firm start-date with WWE, and will debut on the June 5 edition of RAW. 
     
    Now, I know the talk has been that he'll bypass the developmental system, but if it's true that he's already slated for a spot on the Main Roster, I think that speaks volumes for what WWE thinks of the kid. And vindicates me for speaking many of the same volumes in recent months (including putting Smith on my list of "Breakout Performers of 2006" in year-end voting back in December).
     
    We'll have to see if this is true or not, though. Personally, if the kid's showing up on June 5's RAW, I'm thinking we ought to have already started seeing vignettes or something, no?
     
  • Confirming what I was saying right out of the gates about the New ECW, Rob Van Dam has been quoted in recent interviews as saying that there's "no way" ECW would work if they only included past ECW alumni. And despite the fact that I continue to get countless e-mails from people telling me that I'm wrong for saying the same things, I'm gonna go ahead and blithely say "RVD's right."
     
    Again: I understand that there's an attachment to the past here. But for a new ECW to succeed (and by that, I mean "succeed more than TNA, but still not come even close to doing the same kind of business WWE does"), you can't count on some small, ass-hatted group of loyalists who think that Justin Credible or Steve Corino represent "True ECW." I am confident as hell that you can leave guys like that on the sidelines, bring back a small group of established alumni to jumpstart things, and then watch as Paul Heyman makes CM Punk or Austin Aries or whoever into stars.
     
    I'm so fired up to hear RVD say that is, in fact, the plan. An ECW that tried to recreate 1996 would be a fun novelty act. An ECW that tries to create a fun product for 2006, though, is something that could make it gratifying to be a wrestling fan again for the first time in 2 years.
     
  • For the conspiracy theorists out there: USA has announced they are dropping the Saturday morning airing of "A.M. RAW" -- which usually does ratings around 0.6 -- and ONLY airing the show in its former "replay" timeslot of 2am on Saturday nights -- where it usually draws around 1.2 ratings.
     
    Commensurate with that announcement, WWE announced that "A.M. RAW" would be getting a make-over and become an "edgy" TV-14 show, instead of the tepid Saturday morning fare it had been. 
     
    Greasing the wheels to put ECW into that late night timeslot? You make the call...
     
    All I know is that "A.M. RAW" is a worthless pustule of a show (I saw it once, ironically enough in its 9am timeslot, but only because I hadn't gone to bed yet on Friday night), and if it's drawing low-1's in late night, ECW should be able to do the same. And if they did, they'd already be out-drawing TNA.
     
    Plus, I think I've mentioned this before, but: there'd be something very cool and nostalgic about ECW in a 2am Saturday night timeslot, since that's where I first saw it (on SportsChannel Ohio) back in college. I still remember the night I got home from the bars, tried to enjoy some ECW, and had coverage of the Olympic Bombing suddenly interrupt things. All the more reason I continue to be salty that they never pinned that one on anybody....
     
  • WWE has reached an agreement with Comcast to distribute the "24/7" On-Demand service.... which is huge for them. So far, WWE has only been getting (domestic) clearances with smaller/regional cable providers. 
     
    Comcast is -- I think -- the second biggest provider in America, with subscribers well into the tens of millions (many of which are digital-ready, and thus, candidates to subscribe to "24/7").
     
    Of course, I am cursed by being serviced by the biggest cable provider -- Time Warner -- and we still don't have a "24/7" option. Then again: Time Warner's been severely fucking with things lately (moving channels around, changing the software on my cable box so that all the menus and button presses are different which was REALLY annoying, etc.), and one of the things I noticed as the creation of a new pay on-demand tier of channels somewhere in the 1200's. So far the only one there is the Howard Stern-on-demand one.... but there's plenty of space for them to add in more. Perhaps "24/7" will be one of them?
     
    I'd at least check it out for a few months, I think. Some say the programming is pretty thin as compared to HBO-on-demand (which is also free for me with my subscription to Regular HBO), but I say that even if there only are 12-15 hours worth of choices, that's still MORE than enough for late night weekend drunk-viewing.
     
  • I think the last quick thing to mention today is that TNA's got a PPV on Sunday. Much like WWE's off-month PPVs, I have a problem with remembering titles, but in this case, I just got done formatting Jason Longshore's PPV Preview, so I know this one's called Sacrifice.
     
    TNA only had 3 weeks in which to build up to this one, and it does show a bit. The line-up also strikes me as odd in that it almost feels like it'll be more of a "WWE-style" show: and I"m NOT just saying that because they booked a Dudleys vs. New Age Outlaws match for the PPV! Outside of the AMW/Styles/Daniels tag match, there's nothing on the show that I suspect will be the sort of Workrate Lover's Dream that usually defines TNA PPVs. In fact: the X Division stuff looks to be just about as thrilling and important as the way WWE treats Cruiserweight matches, which is a first for a TNA PPV.
     
    I'll say this, though: I rifled through Impact late last night (overall, I'd say it split the difference between the previous two weeks' outings), and I can't believe how hilarious and pitch-perfect Nash's X Division promo was. They've only added Nash's stuff in during post (so there were no "spoilers" about what his interviews contained after tapings last week), but I'd like to pat myself on the back for having what I'm now CONVINCED will end up being a great, money-making idea for TNA back last week: Nash will swat away numerous X Division gnats, fulfilling his deliciously delusion notion that "even a mediocre big man can crush the best small man." And then: Samoa Joe happens. And Nash realizes that his half-assed, clueless plot to "become the very thing that defines TNA" will not be as easily achieved as he thought.
     
    There's lots of ways to get Joe up into main events, but I'm now liking the idea that you do it slow and you do it bad-ass. Joe can plow through Scott Steiner first, and then the timing should be right for him to oppose Nash. Once he dispatches both of them brittle fogeys, a foray into the NWA Title picture should be #1 on every fan's wish list.
     
    Can't really think of much else about last night's Impact that made.... ummmm... an impact on me. Rhino actually getting a pinfall was unexpected, I guess. I joke about it, and I don't know with 100% certainty the details of his contractual status.... but I do know how Rhino feels and some of the things he was saying when Sabu was making his final rounds back at TNA TV tapings last month, and it honestly wouldn't shock me if we're seeing the end of Rhino in TNA so he can "go home" to ECW later this summer. I figure if you see Rhino job to Team Canada's useless 8th-stringer on the PPV Sunday, that might be a hint about what TNA management is expecting, though. 
     
    Anyway: TNA PPV on Sunday. It's sorta funny that the thing I'd most be looking forward to is the fact that Nash has promised to show up, and a few of the X Division's lovable midgets have sworn to defend their honor.... but hey, I'm an asshole, and I've also gotten very attached to my own little fantasy booking scenario. There are also 8 other announced matches, though, which you can get up-to-speed on in the aforementioned Sacrifice PPV Preview.
     
  • 'Tis all for me this week. Weather says that it's entirely possible that this Sense of Lethargy may linger throughout the entire weekend, but I I'm actually a bit too impatient and antsy to let it keep me down for long. So you know I'll be back in the saddle again come Monday, hopefully with my A-game. 
     
    See you then, kids....


  
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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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