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SD! Thoughts, Ratings, Jack Black in WWE?,
Tons of ECW Tidbits, and Plenty More... 
June 5, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Albert Pujols. What am I supposed to make of you, young man?

On one hand, I like baseball. I like GOOD baseball. And these days, nobody is any better than Albert Pujols. You can't help but cheer for the guy when he's putting up the kinds of numbers that force the idiot pundits to quit their moronic babbling about Barry Bonds and asterisks. I'd never cheer for the guy to suffer a serious injury.

Then again, on the other hand, maybe I would.

Because my beloved Reds are still pretending like they're serious about winning, and they're only three games behind the Cards in the NL Central. And conveniently enough: just as Pujols is sidelined, we head into St. Louis for a three-game series. And after that, anything that'll keep the Cards grounded while the Reds have to deal with some InterLeague Hell (in the form of the White Sox) and the surging Mets will be a good thing, too.

And over in our Fantasy League, my Whiskey Ninjas are running a close second to the heretically-named Christ Punchers. The Christ Punchers' biggest offensive performer? Pujols. So it's like a double bonus for me!

Then again, like the real Reds, my fantasy Whiskey Ninjas have a pitching staff that is made up almost entirely of duct tape and luck, so maybe it's not so nice to be relishing the misfortune of Pujols when, in neither case, it probably won't really matter come October. We'll see.

Let's see what we got going on in the wrestling world today....

  • This weekend's SmackDown! was certainly a step up from recent weeks, I thought. If nothing else, if the opening 25% of your show is a Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio match, you're doing something right. Despite a cheap finish, those two had the best free TV match that we've seen since.... well, probably since they had a free TV match about 2 months back.
    Bookending that was a closing segment that I also found exceptionally effective, albeit not so much in the "workrate" way, but in the character-building way. The presence of William Regal and Queen Sharmell adds a deliciously obnoxious element to King Booker T's presentation, and they really milked it for all it was worth. So in that sense, it was a win for Booker. But by the time the actual, you know?, match was all said and done, it was a literal win for Bobby Lashley, too. It's a deal where WWE did a good enough job building up Booker's King of the Ring win that it means that much more when Lashley is able to beat him, creating a bit of circular logic in which this segment ends up helping both guys. And with SD!'s roster in the shape it's in, segments that put both guys over are absolutely necessary.
    Now: crammed into the middle hour-and-fifteen-minutes of the show? That's where it gets a bit dodgier.
    Talking Point #1: I officially love Finlay and his midget. I don't know how long this will last, and I have no idea what the end game is. But for now, Finlay throwing his midget around in semi-annoyed fashion, and then kicking his midget back under the ring when he's had enough just makes me laugh.
    Talking Point #2: We have official return dates for both Ken Kennedy and Batista. Kennedy's back this week. Batista is back on the Fourth of July Weekend edition of SD!. Neither can come soon enough. Batista, at the very least, needs to make it back while Rey still has the title, otherwise, I'll start to get nervous that WWE actually intends to use Mark Henry as a transitional champ, instead of doing the right thing and letting Rey drop the belt straight to Batista. Screw Henry and his "crippler" gimmick: Rey's knee'll hold out until they can do the proper (and non-channel-flip-inducing) story where Rey finally falls to Eddie's other pal, Batista. Instead of to a giant load who should be out of a job come September.
    Talking Point #3: Kristal and Jillian, eh? With Diva Search Ashley on commentary and a run-in by Michelle McCool? This might not totally suck. Kristal and Jillian both looked light years more competent and motivated than anything we've seen out of Candice Michelle or Torrie Wilson lately on RAW, anyway. Oh, and to anybody who doubted me for backing Kristal in the Diva Search last year? Look again, because I told you so. So hot. And that goes double to anyone who doubted my fondness for Miss McCool 2 years ago, too. Or maybe I'm just going on about 4 years of being a sucker for chicks in glasses.
    Talking Point #4: I hereby announce the start of the OOfficial $10 Somebody Beat The Miz Challenge. The Miz is obnoxious, but not in the good way (like King Booker) that you love to hate. The Miz is obnoxious in that kind of way that you sort of laugh at him behind his back and then try to keep your distance and ignore him as much as possible, and it only becomes an issue if he insists on not keeping to himself. That is why OO feels like somebody should just punch Miz in the jaw as he's roaming around arenas acting like a twit. But at the same time, this is also why OO is only offering $10. Because ultimately, we don't really give a shit one way or the other about The Miz. It's just that hey, if the chance is there and the Miz just won't go away on his own, maybe somebody wants to make a few bucks. Till then: Miz, meet my fast forward button, you over-pushed, under-talented manifestation of everything that is wrong with pop culture today! You will not become the next worthless pustule to go from some idiot reality TV show to "moderately famous" on my watch!
    Talking Point #5: Tazz calls out Jerry Lawler, and I loved it. For as much as Lawler professes to hate ECW (and for as successful as he's been keeping up that facade even in "shoot" settings), the truth is nobody is as good at being the totally obnoxious heel who actually helps put ECW over better than almost anyone out there. Tazz is an ideal foil for him, too.
    I think that's most of the important stuff from this weekend's show. For additional details and results, check the SD! Recap.
  • SmackDown! did a paltry 2.3 prelim rating this week. Even by the show's own reduced standards, that's not good. And there's no good way to spin it.
    Well, other than to say that "For UPN, anything over a 2.0 is really, really good, and makes the network happy." But again, I don't go in for that crap. There's absolutely no reason WWE should be measuring up against benchmarks of mediocrity are out there for them.... they should be trying to measure up to their own past excellence.
    As we know, though, goals such as those are scary and intimidating, and represent a need for Actual Hard Work and Creativity. Plus, mentioning that "UPN is up 57% among key male demographics on Friday nights versus one year ago, thanks to WWE SmackDown!" makes for a much better-sounding press release than "WWE SmackDown! continues to flounder with approximately 60% of the audience it enjoyed just five years ago."
    And it's those damned peppy press releases that have WWE stock trading higher than it's been since January 2001. In the Investment World, it doesn't necessarily matter if the shows are good or if fans are enjoying them in large numbers.... it just matters that you get better ratings that "Star Trek: Enterprise" did last season and that Kane's movie top the $10 million mark, and that your public relations people make sure that everybody knows about it. Bravo, WWE, bravo!
  • TNA's ratings news continues to be solid, if slightly underwhelming. Another 1.1 rating for this past weekend's show, which is right in the meaty part of the curve for them. Numbers like this are still unlikely to get TNA that two-hour prime time timeslot they covet, but will still make the network executives VERY happy in terms of performance as the lead-out from UFC stuff.
    I briefly talked about the show in my Friday column, and now you can also check Jason Longshore's more detailed TNA Impact Recap for additional results and analysis, too.
    Also: to those who write in wondering why I never mention TNA's "demographics" and how well Impact does with young males, well... point blank, when you're down to the sample sizes that exist at 11pm on a Thursday night, anybody touting the demos is really just blowing smoke. No matter what bright shining lie Nielsen's convinced people to buy into, their data collection is NOT so precise as to make fluctuations of a few tenths-of-a-percent statistically significant. Just as with Impact's overall rating, you pay attention to overall, repeated trends, not to weekly fluctuations. If you do that, you'll be getting a bit more to the heart of the matter than if you just blithely go around spouting numbers that represent statistically insignificant weekly changes.
    Basically: when RAW and SD! have fluctuations of a third-of-a-point or more from week to week, you can state with relative certainty that more or fewer viewers tuned in than the week before. But just because TNA's overall smaller audience means a one-tenth-of-a-point change is greater on a PERCENTAGE basis than a third-of-a-point change is to WWE doesn't mean that change actually MEANS anything. Just something people oughta know and process if they're gonna be paying attention to ratings....
  • Something else from SD! that was quite interesting, but interesting in a way that I felt it deserved its own Bullet Point: Paul Heyman's commentary during the Rey/Angle match. 
    Heyman actually address two issues which I want to talk about here....
    First, he openly discussed his desire to see ECW stars win the WWE and/or World Titles at One Night Stand, and then the result would be that title(s) would become recognized as the new ECW World Champion. I (and others) fantasized about a situation like that going back 6 weeks or more, but now that Heyman's already talking about it openly, that kind of takes away the surprise factor of "throwing down" a WWE belt.
    I don't know if this makes it more or less likely that one (or both) WWE titles might change hands this weekend. It all comes down to what size balls Vince McMahon has, and how far he's willing to go to get ECW off to a strong start.
    Of the two title belts, the one that I feel almost HAS to change at the PPV is Cena's WWE Title... even if you just force Rob Van Dam to defend the title one last time under WWE auspices (and thus, he loses in the more controlled environment) the next night on RAW, you still canNOT end this Sunday's PPV with Homey the Clown defeating RVD unless you want a riot, and unless you want to send the message that the new ECW really is just an extension of RAW and SD!, instead of an wholly unique place where special things can happen.
    Then again, with the announcement of Rey Mysterio vs. Sabu, you have interesting options, too, given that Rey's gimmick as of late is "Champion Who Can't Win A Match To Save His Life." Depending on Rey's knee status and a billion other issues related to the SD! roster, I could almost see WWE/ECW pulling a swerve in which Sabu steals one of WWE's titles away (instead of RVD). That could also set SD! up for a full roster shuffle as they move towards crowning a new champ of their own. I dunno.
    I guess at this point, the wet dream is that RVD and Sabu both win, and they end the PPV on Sunday in a joint celebration, not unlike Benoit/Eddie at WM20. Then by the time they renew their rivalry and unify those titles into a single ECW Title, it oughta be just about time for one angry Rhyno to show up and remind everybody that nobody ever beat him for the ECW Title back in 2001.
    Only problem is that doing this requires Vince to pretty much prostrate WWE's legacy before the new ECW. Even though there are countless storyline ways around acknowledging the title changes (or even changing the titles back by forcing their defense on WWE turf), the mere act of doing those finishes at the PPV on Sunday would probably make Vince ill.
    So we're still left with the same brain teaser: now that Paul Heyman has openly discussed his plan to gain control over one or both WWE titles and turn them into the new ECW World Title, how the hell do you book yourself a satisfying way out of this corner? One that Vince McMahon would allow to happen? I dunno, but I'm dying to find out.... 

  • The other interesting aspect to Heyman's commentary was that he announced an Open Challenge on behalf of Kurt Angle. At One Night Stand, Angle is willing to face any fighter from any discipline. 
    In Heyman's words, it doesn't matter if your ring has "four sides, six sides, or eight sides." Angle just wants somebody to step up and fight him on Sunday. Hmmmmm.
    For starters, I'm guessing the mention of "six sides" is just a red herring. Rhino, although widely known to be considering his options, isn't a free agent until after the first of July, and has commitments to the TNA PPV the week following ECW's. Beyond that, nobody from TNA's top echelon (the guys who would make compelling opponents for Angle) is on the market. The TNA guys that are supposedly getting eyeballed by ECW are all much lower-visibility. I'm talking "Matt Bentley finally cashing in his I'm-somehow-related-to-Shawn-Michaels Chip" visibility.
    Unless: Monty Brown has been inexplicably low-profile lately, hasn't he? Jobbing to Ron Killings and such? And Monty Brown got started in wrestling through ECW back in 1999 and 2000. Ugh. If that happens (and if Chris Masters' stays off my TV), then the honor of the Middle Initial "F." just may have to be bestowed upon Monty Brown until such time as he learns to (a) speak English and (b) have a non-shitty finisher. [Actually, no: it would go to Mark Henry, first. But Monty's not too far down the F-Chart.]
    From the world of four- and eight-sides, I'm guessing that's where you start in on the speculation of any of the shoot-fighty types that WWE's accumulated. You've got Heyman's pretend-Russian from OVW, you've got the real Russian from Deep South, and you've got Angle's old amateur rival who's done some limited pro-wrestling out in California.
    Problem is, not a one of them would pop the crowd in the way that an ECW-caliber "Mystery Man" should, since next to nobody knows who they are.
    Then again, by talking this up, and by latching on to the notion that ECW was always pretty good about paying off whenever they promised a surprise, I probably end up creating unfair expectations. In fact, in the back of my brain, I just got a tickle... it seems to be suggesting to me "Whoa, wouldn't it be cool if Brock Lesnar came back to be in ECW?". But that's the purest silliness, isn't it?
    So I'll just stop while I'm ahead and say that I'm very curious to see where they go with Angle's open challenge on Sunday.
  • Final note about Heyman/ECW as seen on SmackDown! this weekend.... I found it quite pleasantly ironic that the new "Theme to ECW" for the One Night Stand PPV is also the current "Theme to OVW." Talk about continuity that all of about 1.4% of your audience will catch...
    I guess WWE's *finally* gonna get their money's worth out of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor," after having to drop it as a PPV Theme Song back in September 2001 on grounds that some might have viewed it as an insensitive choice.
  • Could SmackDown! be getting the boost it needs from an unexpected source? I don't know, but many have written in to tell me that Fr. Ignacio (a/k/a the masked "Nacho Libre") has been added to the list of SD! Superstars on WWE.com.
    And sure enough, he has.
    Perhaps it's not the precise scenario I suggested, but let's just say that if Jack Black shows up in front of a live WWE audience and happens to steal the show, you had ALL better remember where you heard the idea first. Eighteen months ago. Back when "Nacho Libre" was just a twinkle in Mike White's eye.
    Not only would Jack Black be an hilarious guest star, but he's got the physical comedy chops to actually contribute to the in-ring product to some extent. He also trained (with some level of seriousness) with Tom Howard -- well-known for his polish work on plenty of current WWE stars who passed through UPW -- out in California to prepare for the movie role.
    Come to think of it: goddammit, I was in the middle of setting up an interview with Howard right when I fell deathly ill a few months ago, and maybe see if that could lead to any other "Nacho Libre" goodies for OO as we got closer to the movie's release. I totally forgot about that until now. I'm such a dolt.
    Anyway: Jack Black on SmackDown!... unless someone's dicking with us, it's apparently gonna happen. Rey Mysterio sure could use some spiritual guidance, don't you think? And perhaps whatever help Fr. Ignacio cannot supply to Rey's spirit, Nacho Libre may show up to supply in the flesh?
  • Co-tag champ Paul London is dealing with a staph infection in his arm. Although not too serious in and of itself, it's a deal where if you don't treat it thoroughly and get it cleaned up, you could end up like Bob Holly. Which is to say: in a bad way.
    Till it clears up, the plan is to try to tough it out on TV tapings, but not work house shows.
  • Last thing for today is just a quick look at tonight's RAW....
    No matches are scheduled/promised (yet), and instead, the focus is on two non-wrestling segments: (1) a contract signing between John Cena and Rob Van Dam, and (2) Triple H's (non-voluntary) invitation to join the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club.
    In the case of the first, it could just be a standard excuse to set up a final brawl between two PPV opponents, or there could be something more subtle in play (such as the devious inclusion of stipulations in the contract that will eventually null and void an RVD Title Win). In the case of the latter, it sure feels like it should be time for HHH to reach his boiling point: "Cerebral Assassin" or no, he's too proud to kiss anybody's ass, even the boss'. Figure the best way to play it is to have HHH refuse to join the club, so Vince puts him into another impossible match, and then when a crutch-wielding Shawn Michaels shows up to make the inevitable save, we might finally get the full-on face-turn/DX-reunion that has been teased for weeks.
    In addition to the RVD/Cena thing, Heyman and Foley will both be there, and this week, additional ECW stars are supposed to be on-hand, too. Not just Dreamer and Funk, either, but a bigger slate... not just to help promote Sunday's PPV, but to actually give fans a reason to pay attention to this little TV special that's emanating live from Dayton, OH, on Wednesday.
    Other than that: Kane vs. Kane probably gets another chapter... and the women's division in-fighting is probably just about the only other purely-WWE issue of any significant import, but will remain in a holding pattern pending Trish's full recovery.
    With basically only a one-week hiccup, I think RAW's been solidly entertaining for about 2 months, now.... but shows that shape up like this one -- heavy on the "entertainment," but with no real backbone of in-ring excitement -- are total crapshoots. Sometimes, you hit a home run; sometimes, you leave fans underwhelmed and annoyed.
    I know which I'm hoping for. But I also know that no matter which way it goes, I'm stuck on recapping duty, which means that by the time Tuesday afternoon rolls around, you'll have at least *my* version of RAW available, and be able to check it out with complete confidence that *it* won't suck.
    So I'll see you then, kids. And then the rest of the week gets busy, what with a TV special on Wednesday and a big-ass PPV Preview on Friday, and all. So keep on coming back for all of it. OO's got you covered.

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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