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Casualties of Wellness, Full Ratings
Round-Up, ECW, Rock/Kane Movies, MORE~!
June 2, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, so get ready for one of the most personal and revealing PreRambles I've ever done.... well, maybe not really, but it *is* a glimpse into how my subconscious mind works.

Any Freudians or other Smarty Pants types out there who want to help me figure out what this means are more than encouraged to mail in, too.

For, you see, over the past 3 weeks, I've been having this really odd recurring dream. It's doubly odd, since for as long as I can remember, I was stuck with basically the same

set of 5 recurring dreams to go with the usual bits of randomness and easily-forgotten one-shot dreams (for a guy who consciously loves watching and experiencing bad weather, my subconscious sure is positive that I'm going to die in a tornado, for instance). Then last July, I added a new one (which is best left undiscussed), and now: my second new one in less than a year.

In this case, my dream is this: a wrestling event breaks out while I'm doing my grocery shopping at Kroger. But instead of being a fan, I end up as a participant. This involves forging alliances and cutting promos, as I get the impression it's a Major Televised Event, and yet at the same time, I have the vague recollection of the violence being real and not staged. After various brawls through the parking lot and store itself, this dream always ends back in the dreary, dark stockroom, where the Undertaker appears to save me and all the other good guys.

If I'd just had it once, I'd chalk it up to some twisted manifestation of my secret desire to challenge that loathsome Food Network Twit Alton Brown to an Aisle 12 Death Match, with my subconscious somehow confusing the targets of my ire so that instead I'm suddenly beating the shit out of Randy Orton in a grocery store. But four times in less than a month? That's just.... weird. Anybody got any other theories?

Besides the theory that I should shut the hell up and get on with the wrestling? 

  • The first bits of fall-out from the WWE Wellness Program are being seen on TV.
    For one: Chris F. Masters getting squashed by Cena last week, and then being absent from TV this week? Not a coincidence. Per the rather vague guidelines of the Wellness Program, one ought not to say he "tested positive" for anything, but rather one is forced to report that his test results were "unsatisfactory" as compared to his original baseline test results. WWE's Wellness Program does not look for 100% clean performers, but rather, it is looking for them to be cleaner than they were 3 months ago. I guess Masters, genius that he is, couldn't quite wrap his head around that concept.
    Per WWE's stated policy, this should mean Masters is on a 30-day suspension, during which time he will have counseling available to help him. Sadly, this may help clean him up, but I don't think they have counselors who can help him kick the habit of being a slow-witted, no-talent goon.
    This should also serve as a lesson not just to Masters, but to WWE... because what is it we've been harping on for ages here at OO? Oh yeah, that thing where you push Substance over Style. Because what happens when Masters ends up looking cosmetically no different than Charlie Haas? His gimmick is dead, and WWE's left with a no-talent hack that they pushed because Vince McMahon is aroused by big, oiled-up muscle men. Now, if only we could somehow get silicone and saline added to WWE's list of banned substances, we'd REALLY start thinning the pretty-but-useless types from the herd....
    I digress.
    The other big fall-out from the first round of testing came when MNM broke up. Joey Mercury is apparently joining CFM on the 30-day unemployment line. Difference for him is that when he comes back, there isn't exactly a spot for him, nor will WWE be bending over backwards to make one for him.
    WWE used Mercury's suspension as an excuse to break up MNM and send Nitro and Melina over to RAW (something that they'd been wanting to do, anyway, both to cure a few personality clashes and to get Melina onto the show where she could challenge for the women's title).
    Mercury will basically be coming home to an empty bed. He might be able to hack it as a solo cruiserweight, but a better option might be to shuttle him over to ECW (where he got his first national exposure as Joey Matthews).
  • Other recent TV disappearances have less nefarious explanations...
    Both Chris Benoit and JBL were written off TV last week on SmackDown!, further decimating an already wounded roster. With essentially a one week exception, SD!'s ratings this calendar year have been mired in the mid-2s and the perception of SD! as a minor league brand has never been stronger.
    Writing out Benoit and JBL, and then moving Kurt Angle over to ECW, all in one week? That's not gonna help matters any.
    In Benoit's case, it probably can't be helped. The guy simply needs time off to get healthy, both physically and mentally. Like Kurt, Benoit does not understand how to go at less than 100%, and that takes its toll on the human body. And once it starts to take its toll, the negative effects snowball, since Benoit simply refuses to throttle back.
    A shoulder injury is supposedly the worst thing Benoit's dealing with, but there's other issues, too, which will hopefully be taken care of with a hiatus that will be measured in months.
    What's curious about this is that Benoit's contract status is unclear; though most assumed he'd signed a long-term extension earlier this spring, in a recent UK interview, Benoit said that was not the case. He might have just been working on a short-term extension or series of short-term extensions. Which could very well play into the length of Benoit's hiatus and speed of his convalescence if he doesn't consider himself obligated to WWE. Maybe that could be the mitigating factor that convinces Benoit to take his time and get fully well before rushing back?
    JBL's nursing a sore back, and has for a few months. He was not going to be able to stick to a full house show schedule (at least, not in upper card matches where he'd be asked to contribute 15-20 minutes per night), so the decision was made to give him a month or so off to rest and recover. Because there is also an institutional interest in giving JBL a try on RAW, that's why they did the whole angle where JBL lost his job on SD!... stuff like that can always be undone, though, should it be decided that SD! really needs JBL.
    I would also like to repeat my little pet theory, which is that in a month or so, when he's ready to go, JBL should show up looking for a job on RAW. But everybody on RAW remembers what a load JBL was during the SD! vs. RAW feud last winter, and they don't want him around. But Paul Heyman shows up with an offer: come to ECW, or starve. And thus, a humbled JBL must show up to work among the low-life cast-aways he hates so very much.
    As a bonus, I think you have JBL actually dominate some throw-away guys like Doring or CW Anderson (sorta like what Nash is doing to the X Division) before the major angle in which he gets his comeuppance from somebody like Dreamer or RVD. Remembering that one JBL/Cena brawl from last year, I'm thinking a Dreamer/JBL garbage match could really be quite entertaining.
  • Anybody theorizing that Angle got shuffled to ECW to reduce his work schedule and "protect" him has got it wrong. ECW's got a full slate of house shows starting later this month, and running through August (pretty much covering the length of the Sci-Fi TV contract), and Angle'll be working at least as much as he would if he was full time on SD!.
    Only real difference will be no overseas touring.
    Angle's move to ECW also signals that a pet project of Paul Heyman's may have gotten the green light. Angle will probably be the centerpiece of a UFC-style shoot-fighting faction, be it called Team Angle or not. Sort of a Next Gen take on the old Team Taz deal that Heyman did 10 years ago.
    In OVW, Heyman already has a faux shoot-fighting character (an American guy who plays a mute Russian bad-ass). In Georgia, WWE's other developmental is polishing up a real Russian (an actor/stuntman with actual amateur background). And just this week, WWE signed Sylvester Turkay to a contract (he's a real-life rival of Angle's from the freestyle wrestling scene of the mid-90s who has periodically tried his hand at pro wrestling, but never quite caught on).
    Whether that adds up to one big faction, or if it's separate factions who can feud with each other, or what, I'm guessing this is a big part of what Heyman meant by his "New Vision" for ECW during Monday's RAW promo.
  • Some tidbits on the ECW TV situation.... 
    It turns out that -- at least for 13 weeks of the Sci-Fi run -- the plan is just to use Tuesday SD! tapings for ECW tapings. In fact, the plan is to actually air ECW live from those tapings whenever it is possible (keeping in mind that time zone considerations might make this tough in some cases).
    To that, let me just say: BOO~! Having a WWE crowd not give a shit about the ECW product is no way to ensure ECW's long term prospects.... 
    And also: much is being made of a rumor in which Sci-Fi has (as a result of backlash from hardcore sci-fi dorks who don't want wrestling on "their" channel) asked if there can be some aliens or supernatural elements to ECW. To that, let me just report that outside of a possible appearance by the Boogeyman, we need not worry too much, and already people are talking about ECW being done with Sci-Fi by the fall. Because they are confident that even scoring in the 1.5-2.0 range, ECW would be able to find a new home elsewhere in September.
    I didn't realize the sci-fi dorks had such clout, either. And what are they complaining about, really? It's not like Sci-Fi is loaded with original content. When I was laid out for a few weeks, I pretty much would flip past, and 90% of the time, it would be "X-Files" reruns. Which is fine, and all, but is there really a need for 12 hours a day of Mulder and Scully? Just simmer down, nerds, and maybe spend that one hour per week when Sci-Fi sells out to wrestling to go out and try mingling with other humanoid life forms, OK?
  • Little bit of Ratings Catch-Up....
    Last week's Impact did a 1.2 rating, which is the best ever for TNA (even better than their prime time specials). Of course, it continues to be important to remember that between Nielsen's collection methods and the small size of TNA's ratings, fluctuations of one-tenth-of-a-point shouldn't be considered huge news. Or even significant news. What *is* important is just keeping an eye on overall trends, and noting that it seems like TNA is definitely doing about 20% better on Thursdays than they did on Saturdays, and continues to retain the majority of their UFC lead-in (which is what Spike's more concerned about than anything).
    Last week's SD! did a 2.6. Mired right in the usual part of the muck, in other words.
    This week's RAW did a 3.7 rating for the second week in a row. That's two straight weeks of sub-par performances. Some will blame this week's low rating on Memorial Day, but honestly: I put the capper on holiday weekend festivities with dinner out at my mom's, and was pretty much back to the normal routine by 9pm on Monday night. Who's still trying to milk the holiday weekend on Monday night when it's back to the grind on Tuesday morning?
    I guess we'll find out if NBA Playoffs and Memorial Day are "explanations" or "excuses" for RAW's ratings issues next week, when there should be no mitigating factors on Monday night.
  • Kane's movie only dropped one spot (to 7th place) last weekend, and brought in about 2-and-a-half million bucks. So the film should top the $10 mark, afterall, which means it'll actually recoup its costs (about $8 million to make it, and another couple million to market it). Despite $10 million being an anemic sum and despite a critical thrashing, you know what this means: WWE will consider it a success! Whee! Good for you, WWE!
  • The Rock's new movie, "Southland Tales," was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and was apparently given about as much love as "See No Evil" was. Critics hated it. And this was supposed to be Rock's "indie/underground/credibility-building art house flick." Instead, it's been outted as the piece of pretentious arteestic wankery that I kinda thought it sounded like when I first read about the premise.
    No idea on what kind of release the movie will be getting here in the US, but I'm guessing "limited," and if it doesn't do well, that'd probably be about it. And then let the Kane vs. Rock Battle of Box Office Receipts In 2006 Debates Begin!
  • Backlash is shaping up to be one of the less-watched RAW PPVs ever, with buys looking to be in the 200,000 range (which is more what below-average SD! PPVs have been drawing the past couple years). Then again: I've gotten burned on these "early indicator" numbers, as WWE has frequently gotten better-than-expected late news from overseas markets. 
    But domestically, at least, it looks like "God" is not viewed as a semi-main event wrestler by fans.
  • And lastly, I'll just quickly mention a few thoughts about last night's Impact, which was another pretty consistently-enjoyable effort. At least in part because of the presence of the criminally-hot Gail Kim in not one, but two matches.
    But also: TNA threw a nice curveball on what I figured was just a squash match when they had Jay Lethal upset Alex Shelley (w/ Kevin Nash). From there, Nash did wreak his vengeance upon Lethal, but they threw ANOTHER curveball by having Chris Sabin come out and cut a promo where he actually got the last zinger in on Nash. Nash, you see, has a small penis! HA~!
    They bookended things with the opening AMW/Naturals tag match and the closing Jarrett/Raven brawl, both of which were about 75% of full-out-PPV-caliber, but quite enjoyable. Raven's blondening is taking some getting used to. 
    [Speaking of which, has everybody seen the New Molly Holly? Practically white-blonde, and also something that'll take some getting used to. But considering how well I managed to adopt to Bald Molly, I think I'll quickly make the adjustment. I'd share a picture, but the only two I had mailed to me are blurry/low-resolution, and have this annoying watermark right across the middle professing it to be property of someone other than OO.]
    Also sandwiched in the middle of the show was a Dudleys promo, in which they took a few steps in the right direction from a few weeks ago, but still aren't all the way to where they need to be. First: the bickering was still there, which I like. That's simply classic, throwback, 1996-style Dudleys. But second: the Duds seem intent on referencing ECW, however obliquely, and every time they do that and talk about their legacy there, it only serves to underscore the fact that they have yet to accomplish anything here in TNA, which.... I dunno. It's hard to explain, but it's just uncomfortable to watch, since it gives the impression of the Duds being washed-up and crotchety more than anything, which is NOT what they are, and is certainly not what they should be conveying on TV. Unless....
    I'd LOVE to see an angle where the Duds get frustrated with their lack of success in TNA. The tone of their promos slowly changes from being salty about others soiling the ECW name to being nostalgic for the ECW days. They start talking, vaguely, about wanting to "go home." It'd be even cooler if, by then, Rhyno had re-emerged in ECW, and they could obliquely reference him. Imagine the heat in the ImpactZone if the Dudleys wanted nothing more than to get out from their contracts to go work for the new "watered down' ECW. Throw in a new "Face of TNA Management" who won't let the Dudleys go, and you'd have yourself a stalemate in which you could explore months worth of storylines. You could do the one where the Duds try losing on purpose constantly so they'll get fired. You could do the one where they win the TNA Titles, finally, and then throw them down in an attempt to get fired. You could even have the final revelation, after all this fuedin' and a fussin', be that the Dudleys recognize that they fought so hard to get out of TNA, that TNA wound up bringing the best out of the Dudleys for the first time in 6 years. And for that the Dudleys could be immensely grateful, and could return to babyface status. So many ways to go, if the Duds sort of embrace the fact that they sound like bitter old men in their current promos, and then take that vibe, turn it slightly on its ear, and execute the resulting heel turn with relish.
    Just an idea.
    You'll be able to get more details and thoughts about last night's Impact from Jason Longshore's TNA Recap. But you probably won't get them till tomorrow or Monday. Jason's running late with the recap. I'll make sure it gets published at the same time I publish the SD! recap, though. So keep your eyes peeled.
  • That's all I got for today, folks. Enjoy your weekends, and I'll see you again on Monday, I'm sure. 

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
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
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
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
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
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.




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