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Sci-Fi Makes it Official, Vince's ECW?,
Benoit, Orlando Jordan, and MORE 
May 26, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


A glance at the forecast tells me summer's finally here.

And thus begins another year of me periodically bitching about sitting here making my own gravy because my house doesn't have air conditioning. And thus begins me seriously contemplating just moving the hell out of this increasingly broken-down stinkhole. 'Tis the beauty part of not having a lease or any paperwork signed

because your landlady's a bit crazy and always demands rent in cash so there's no paper trail. 

But that shan't be happening this upcoming first of the month, at least. Because perspiring lightly still seems the more appealing option when I think about how much damned work lugging 9 years worth of accumulated crap to a new house would be. Including who knows how much unneeded tonnage left behind by old housemates who'd say "Hey, if you move, call me and I'll come and get it." But you know they won't. 

So banish that thought for at least another month, and let's me get focused on try to whip a rather thin bit of news into a full-sized column:

  • I think we start today with the fact that WWE and NBC/Universal have made official the return of Extreme Championship Wrestling (including a 10pm Tuesday timeslot on the Sci-Fi channel).
    Not really huge news since we've all known it was coming, but what is interesting are some of the details involved in HOW the deal was officially announced.
    First, this was presented very much as "WWE presents ECW," with talk of WWE's promotional clout being used to create a bigger, more global version of ECW than ever existed in the past. In a lot of ways, I viewed that as a necessary evil, since this is a development that has to be presented to stockholders, and you can't work the stockholders by pretending that ECW is gonna be its own independent entity or something. What's more important, I figured, is how this move is presented to FANS, to let us know that ECW will be a true alternative product.
    And that's where things get sketchy, because in the more hype-y (and not "official press release-y") articles on WWE's website, they're going out of their way to make it clear that this is a new ECW, and it'll be WWE's ECW. They say that WWE is responsible for rehabilitating ECW as a brand, with the DVDs and last year's PPV and stuff, and it was a corporate decision made to bring it back, full-time.

    The only thing that almost gives me hope is that the one article with quotes from "Mr. McMahon" is so over the top, that maybe this is supposed to be another WWE.com worked-shoot. The final quote from Vince is, "Yes, of course Paul Heyman has a role. But make no mistake, Mr. McMahon is the boss." Referring to oneself by one's onscreen character *has* to be a dead giveaway, right? Going forward, perhaps the "storyline" will involve Paul wrestling some kind of legitimate control over ECW away from Vince? Something that still leaves WWE plausibly in command of ECW's revenues and assets, but leaves Paul Heyman in exclusive command of its operations?
    I dunno... thinking out loud here. It's just that treating things this way strikes me as WWE telling any lapsed fans from back in the glory days of 1999 to piss off, because this isn't gonna be anything like that. And telling today's fans that this is going to be just like the meaningless RAW/SD! distinction, and nothing more. Which is kind of lose/lose.
    We'll see how it plays out. I'm not a purist at all, and going back to Day One of the "Return of ECW" talk, I got heated e-mails from people who thought I was stupid for advocating an almost wholly-remade ECW with just a handful of old stars, and then a new generation of talents who are capable of being true to the SPIRIT of what made ECW great (edgy storylines/characters, and the very best of just about any genre of ringwork you covet). But trust me, even I draw a line at the SPIRIT of ECW involving Vince McMahon recognized as the boss.
    Perhaps as soon as Monday's RAW we'll set some interesting wheels in motion here. Cuz one week later, it's this big "WWE vs. ECW" TV special which seems an opportunity to build up the concept that RAW/SD! are one thing, and ECW is another.
  • By the by, a little nugget wedged into NBC/Universal press releases (and one not included in the ones WWE put on its website) is that ECW is only a "summer series" for Sci-Fi at this point, with a 13 episode pick-up starting on June 15.
    Granted, it's practically a given that the show will do well enough to justify a full year-round pick-up. But on the off-chance that ECW pulls sub-TNA numbers, Sci-Fi has an out in 3 months, and the whole ECW thing will have to be re-thought.
  • Chris Benoit's shoulder injury? Looks like it's gonna be bad enough to keep him sidelined till mid-July. That means no "One Night Stand" for Benoit, although he is one of the featured stars in advertising for the PPV.
    A non-wrestling appearance in some sort of Tribute To Eddie would not be at all out of the question, though. Although I did just get word yesterday that the whole idea of a "Tribute to Eddie" might have gotten dialed way down once it was decided to bring ECW back full-time. If ECW was a one-night deal, it would have been appropriate for them to put their own twist on Eddie's legacy.... but now that it's gonna be a full-time company, I gather the higher-ups think that WWE's done plenty of tributing already and that those tributes should stand up as the Ones Of Record.
  • Orlando Jordan is gone. WWE.com announced his release today.
    Pretty much I guess the deal is that as the Bisexual Orlando storyline became less and less of a plausibility, and Orlando got more and more frustrated that he wasn't gonna get the TV time he craved and his behavior took a nosedive. So WWE says "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Curtain Jerker."
    And no matter how little the disappearance of Orlando Jordan matters today, just remember: one year ago, he was in the middle of being the longest-reigning US Champ since SD! revived the title. I'd say "how the mighty have fallen," but I think we'd all agree that thinking back to one year ago, it was the US Title that had fallen down to OJ's level, and not the other way around.
  • With Benoit out, Jordan gone, and all the other roster problems on SD! these days (including Angle's touch-and-go long-term status), there's people buzzing now that this bodes well for Randy Orton.
    Orton's eligible to return in 3 weeks, though most everybody agreed WWE would keep him on the shelf much much longer in order to guarantee that he'd received the message about not acting like a douchebag all the time. But now: they might have to bring him back just to help keep SD!'s roster a viable concern.
    Why people would turn to Orton to fix SD!'s roster problems is beyond me, considering that we have this cool Draft Lottery Concept that just sitting here un-used this year (and reportedly will stay un-used). Too bad.
  • Many wrote in to say that the reason RAW's rating may have been down this week is because of Game 7's in the NBA playoffs. Aha. That would make sense. Too bad the NBA has been dead to me for weeks. No Pacers, No Rick Paying Attention.
  • Got to see last night's Impact in near real-time for the first time in forever...
    For me, the highlight is definitely the New Age Outlaws parodying the Dudley Boyz. Spot-on and hilarious and definitely a proper use of the personalities involved. Only thing I would have changed: kept the microphone away from Billy Gunn Dudley at the end of the segment.  Road Dogg Dudley's punchline was more than adequate without Gunn fouling things up.
    Most TNA fans will bitch, but I'm also loving Deluded Midget Killer Kevin Nash. With a broader wrestling audience, I do believe this act would make Nash a huge babyface; but in TNA, it seems to be working to get him plenty of heel heat. And I still feel like the end game is Nash realizing that the guy who holds the X Title is no midget: he's Samoa Joe.
    I have no idea where they're going with the apparent solidification of Styles/Daniels as a full-time team. To me, it seemed like they'd been put together just for the sole purpose of breaking up. But nope: matching outfits this week, and they even got to work a squash match showcasing their teamwork. Huh.
    And Killings into King of the Mountain instead of Monty Brown? Not what I would have expected. But I don't mind it. I no likey Monty Brown.
    You can get the full details on last night's show courtesy of Jason Longshore's TNA Impact Recap.
  • And on that note, I'm fresh out of worthwhile material, kids. Enjoy the long weekend. As for what the holiday means for OO? Well, I don't really know. I hope to get the SD! Recap up over the weekend at the very least, but since Monday's traditionally the day I fulfill mom-related obligations on Memorial Day, it's a crapshoot as to whether or not I'll be able to work any of my own material up until doing the RAW Recap for Tuesday. 

    If I'm a no-go on Monday, then I've got some Rainy Day material that I'll quickly post as an update, instead: Matt Hocking's done a double-shot of reviewing things that probably nobody else would have put the trouble into. Both "See No Evil" and the new WWE CD will get the Hocking Treatment.
    So I'll see you when I see you. Be well till then, all.

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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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