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The Great ECW Debate, plus Other ECW
News, Jericho, TNA, JBL, Goldust, More... 
June 15, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Just a heads-up, folks....

Thursday OO columns might be par for the course around here, at least for a bit. Bulldog's gonna be so busy these next couple months that he's not sure of his weekly reliability (either that, or PyroFalkon's got him running a-scared). And with ECW on Tuesday nights, and deserving a prompt Recap, I figure we give Wednesday to ECW and bump news/views in OO to 

Thursday. This becomes even more necessary when you consider that I'm leaning heavily towards just taking on the role of ECW Recapper my own self. Partly because I'm already expending energy organizing a round-robin try-out system for a bunch of wannabe SD! Recappers.... but mostly because after the polarized feedback caused by this week's ECW Debut, I don't know if I trust anybody other than me to strike the right, balanced tone when covering the product.

So you'll probably still get a dose of me on Wednesdays, at least for the short term until I decide if things are settled down enough that I can find somebody else level-headed enough to handle ECW duties. Just don't be looking for me, under this new arrangement, to bother trying to muster anything of my own up on Fridays. Those were already impossibly slow newsdays, and now with a Thursday column, writing on Fridays will be even less important.

Which is not to say I'm giving you permission to avoid OO on the weekends, now! On the contrary: we've always got TNA coverage, when applicable, there are PPV Previews, you'll be introduced to a slew of prospective SD! Recappers over the next few months, and when Bulldog's struck with the time and inspirado, Friday's will be his. See, PLENTY of reasons to never skip a day here at OO!

But since I know at least some percentage of you *do* skip these pre-rambles (assholes!), I'll quit with the OO Administrivia, and get on with today's column:

  • To me, there's one big thing I need to get off my chest today, and I want you all to listen very carefully:
    Tuesday night's ECW-on-Sci-Fi debut was not the "worst hour of wrestling ever broadcast." In fact, it wasn't even close. And furthermore, anybody caught in public making statements to that effect is -- as far as I'm concerned -- part of the "internet jack-off" mentality that makes it so easy for people at WWE to dismiss the criticisms and opinions frequently offered up via the medium of the internet.
    Let's put it this way: anybody who declared ECW's debut a horrible show or wrote in to rate it a "0.0 out of 10" or anything is essentially Tony Schiavone. With a gift for nonsensical hyperbole, your own credibility level is so low that it actually reduces the credibility of everything and everybody around you. There is no reason to believe or agree with a single thing coming out of your stupid, shilltastic mouth. And thanks to you, hardworking, clear-headed, intelligent critics are drowned out and marginalized, because it becomes real easy to just assume that we're all as stupid and hyper-reactive as you since we utilize the same medium.
    So thanks a lot for nothing, assclowns! Now, no matter how balanced and incisive my own critiques are, it won't make a bit of difference, since I'll just get lumped in with the rest of you knee-jerk morons.
    Make no mistake: ECW on Tuesday was disappointing. It was a ground-ball single on a night that demanded a thundering home run. It did some things that annoyed me and convinced me that I'll just have to brace for more annoyance for the short term (next 2-3 weeks). I'm not saying that "clear-headed, intelligent critics" need to ladle even a single iota of praise on Tuesday night's show.
    It's just that there's a huge difference between "disappointing" or "tepid" and "worst show EVAR~!". It baffles me how anybody who's been watching wrestling for even the past six months could put Tuesday's ECW anywhere near the bottom-tenth of things we've seen. Look at Tuesday's ECW, segment-by-segment, and tell me where did anything happen that was even half-as-awful as Voices in Kane's Head, or Dr. Heinie, or that one night on SD! where Josh Matthews spoke in the Undertaker's voice, or countless other nights of Dreck that actually *are* worth going to war over (in hopes that by picking your spots more wisely, your criticisms will actually get noticed). Go ahead: tell me.
    You can't. Not without lying (to me and to yourself).
    Which then means you were also talking out your ass when you flew off the handle with all this "0.0" and "worst show ever" nonsense. Feel free to join me in expressing disappointment with a sub-par show, but don't make yourself look like an ass, OK? There have been at least a half-dozen RAWs and SD!'s in the last six months demonstrably dumber and worse than ECW on Tuesday, and probably at least the same number of TNA episodes that have been even blander and less eventful than ECW on Tuesday. Hell, going back further, I will state, with authority, that for sheer entertainment value, ECW on Tuesday -- with all its flaws -- was still a better waste of an hour than any episode of TNA that ever aired back during the Fox SportsNet Era.
    Now, I figure that with all the pissy e-mail I got (and when I was stunned by the volume and vociferousness of it, I actually soiled my brain by checking Keller's site for his coverage and reader "feedback" and soiled my PC's spyware-blocking-log by attempting to navigate PWInsider, and found much of the same sentiment), there are two things going on: (1) clueless jack-offs who have been properly identified and fairly mocked by the likes of HHH and JBL when they address the importance (or lack there-of) of the internet flocking to share their harebrained opinions on their favorite harebrained website. And (2) in the case of Dave Scherer and PWInsider's guys, it's probably more just anger and frustration temporarily clouding the judgment; and I'm guessing there's maybe a third of these ultra-pissy types who are kind of in the same boat of feeling like they are the "real" ECW fans, dating back to 1995, and they feel like they have a stake in it, and they get irrationally upset when the product disappoints them for the first time ever.
    There's not a lot I can do about group (1) except to hope they outgrow that phase someday. Believe me, nobody loves being a cocky, self-assured asshole more than me, but you gotta realize something, kids: the gimmick only works when you're right about 90% of the time, like me. When you're part of the jack-off crowd with a track record of hitting more like 1-in-10, the gimmick sorta flops and makes you look silly. It also helps that when I whiff on that 10%, I stand up and take my medicine like a man, and yet I never see any of the jack-off contingent ever lining up to admit to their many over-exaggerations and mistakes.....
    But Group (2) is an interesting bird, cuz I think we can have a bit of discourse here, today, folks.... because it is PERFECTLY REASONABLE to have expectations. I do think there are still a few people out there with stupid or unreasonable expectations out of ECW, but by and large, I believe most people have started to recognize that a re-creation of what ECW was 8 years ago is *not* what we're gonna get today.
    So us reasonable types have other expectations. And sadly, ECW on Tuesday largely failed to meet those expectations.
    Here's a few of the expectations I have for ECW: 
    (1) That it will look and feel like a truly unique, distinct, alternative to the WWE product, especially in terms of roster/personnel.
    (2) That it will feature at least one "anchor" wrestling match each week, presenting viewers with an intense, action-packed experience that is simply never gonna happen on RAW or SD!.
    (3) That it will be crammed so full of content in that one, precious hour per week that there's no time for retarded WWE-style time-wasting tactics like video packages or hype for shitty movies or "moments ago" segments.
    (4) That it will regularly introduce new performers and characters and develop them (or discard them) per an organic process that actually pays attention to how the fans respond.
    There's probably a few more, but I think those four will help me get across my disappointment with a show that was underwhelming (if still FAR from horrifyingly-awful)....
    On Expectation #1, I actually applaud WWE for making it look like this wasn't a SD! TV taping; obviously, the special in Dayton was a test run, and now, for ECW, it looks like they have a set of hard cameras set up in the SD! entrance aisle, which then makes it highly unlikely that we'll ever see the FistTron or other telltale signs. So: plus 10 on a little production trickery. But minus several million for any week in which I'm asked to watch an ECW show that has John Cena or Randy Orton as a relevant character.  Edge and Lita somehow fit in, just because you know that if pressed, they can deliver what the "ECW Fan" wants: quality mic work and ring work. [In fact, I have this little pet theory that it'd be super-sweet if Edge and Heyman were running a triple-secret-probation thing where they are not only working RVD, but working Vince McMahon, and that Edge intends to declare his allegience to ECW, meaning the upcoming PPV match between Edge and RVD canNOT possibly end with the WWE Title going back to WWE. That'd be crafty.] But Cena? Orton? These cross-over storylines? No thanks.... we've got enough to adjust to with accepting Big Show and Kurt Angle as ECW stars, so the sooner this cross-over stuff can die, the sooner we can start trying to figure out what the REAL New ECW looks and feels like.
    On Expectation #2: Tuesday's show had absolutely no significant in-ring action, which is something that I can't EVER recall happening during 5 years of following ECW TV. The squashes for Sandman and Angle were fun and harmless (an eyeball punch to anybody who wrote in being pissy that Angle squashed "a former ECW Champion"; because I promise you back when Credible was ECW Champion, you were probably one of the ones -- like me -- who couldn't comprehend why, so just let Credible eat squash, and shut your schizophrenic yapper). And a battle royale is a battle royale. I loved the finish -- mostly cuz as soon as they announced it, I was all "Aw, shit, Big Show wins and faces Cena at the PPV," and then they surprised me with a much superior finish where Sabu won -- but it was still pretty much 15 minutes of nothing leading up to it.
    On Expectation #3: Tuesday's show was almost criminally light on content. Not only did they have a lengthy replay of an entire ONS match (Tazz/Lawler with entrances and all), but there were two other video packages, the standard WWE-production overdose of "moments ago" crap, *and* a completely indefensible Kane Movie Segment. Are you shitting me? And with all that filler, the show still came in 4 full minutes early according to my DVR. You get one hour per week, you should be busting with ideas and content, not coming up an estimated 15 minutes light.
    On Expectation #4: we were introduced to 3 new performers on Tuesday, if you want to be technical. But not a one of them fits the ECW mold of being a shapable future superstar. "The Zombie" was likely a one-off gimmick (although once Chris F. Masters is back from suspension, I think you could send him down to ECW and form a tag team with The Zombie, seeing as how they share the same basic charisma and speaking ability!). "Kelli" (I'm assuming she spells it with an "i" at the end; all girls who look and act like that spell it with an "i" at the end) is certainly a fetching iteration of the generic, cookie-cutter fake-boobed, fake-blonde model-type, but even with her reported desire to take the business seriously (she caught Heyman's eye even after just 3-4 months training in OVW), I'd guess she more fits the mold of a mostly-eye-candy/cat-fighting sort; an upgrade over Francine, for sure, but long term prospects? Meh. 
    And then there was the Vampire outside the arena. I didn't even see it at first (I always FF those outside-the-arena shots), but got plenty of e-mail about it. That was Kevin "Mordecai" Fertig (who's been back in OVW kicking around the past few weeks as "Se7en"), who I certainly think has a ton of upside. But I'm still not sanguine about this whole vampire thing, really. And hearing Paul Heyman talk about how vampire imagery is hip and edgy because "if you know anything about the club scene, there's a ton of these kids in the goth subculture who are into it." Um, Paul: I know there are a few kids who are into this horseshit, but "hip and edgy" become inaccurate adjectives when you consider they are the kids that the other 95% of us make fun of for being obnoxious drama-queens. And if I were feeling confrontational and in the mood for giving you folks ANOTHER reason to deluge me with e-mail today, you could also change the "n" in "queens" to an "r" and that'd be another problem with thinking the "vampire subculture" is anything that a mainstream audience could take seriously.
    So I think those are four pretty reasonable expectations to have about ECW. I don't need non-stop "fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck" to prove that ECW is edgy. I don't need a faithful re-creation of the 1998 ECW Roster to convince me that this is "genuine" ECW. I just need to feel like the spirit of ECW is still alive and kicking, and things like the four items mentioned above would adequately do that for me.
    And Tuesday's ECW debut on Sci-Fi did, admittedly come up short in those areas. But that's as far as I'll go. Because I did have two genuine moments of enjoyment on Tuesday (I loved Edge's "You and me? We're the same person" promo on RVD, and I loved the surprise of Sabu's battle royale win), and in between those two book-ends, the worst the show ever got was "boring."
    And where I come from "mostly boring with two high spots" can be fairly labeled as "disappointing" (especially given our expectations)... but cannot, in any sane circles, be labeled as anywhere near the Worst Hour Ever Broadcast on Television.
    You can get the full results in The Cubs Fan's ECW TV Recap.
  • As is my style, when I identify problems, I like to be the rare pundit who also proposes solutions... or who at least looks at a couple possible solutions.
    The first thing I'll say is that I am, unfortunately, resigned to the notion that we won't even really get to meet the "New ECW" until after this next PPV passes, and we can start locking things down and preventing unnecessary cross-overs. It's like I said on Monday: ECW done right should actually alienate some percentage of RAW fans, while off-setting that by bringing back some of the HUGE number of wrestling fans who have felt alienated by RAW and SD! the last 4-5 years. I figure starting with the July 4 ECW Arena TV taping, we might finally get a feel for what shape ECW will take.
    So that brings me to my first order of business: a bit of discussion on ECW's roster and how to shape it so as to not be reliant on guest shots by the Cena's and Orton's of the world. I figure with 2-3 more weeks of crossing-over to do, Heyman is not entirely done cherry-picking a few RAW and SD! stars. No more than a couple per brand should make the jump at this point, but I think we can maximize roster efficiency by making a couple of shuffles.
    Here's my ideas. From RAW, send Charlie Haas and Maria the Mic Stand to ECW. Haas is just never gonna get a fair shot in the "big leagues," and placing him proximate to Kurt Angle is never a bad idea (especially if rumors are true about a new Team Angle or a shoot-fighting/amateur-wrestling focus to ECW). And Maria? Hey, for one, ECW will need a backstage interviewer (RAW still has Todd Grisham), and Maria can handle those duties (in fact, if she's finally comfortable enough to not come across as a borderline retard on live TV, she might impress you; she did a pre-tape thing on OVW TV back a month or so ago when she was hilarious in subversively teasing/impersonating Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrada in a promo). For two, she's still bowling shoe ugly in the ring, but is like "Kelli" in that she wants to learn; and along the way, if I'm getting thongtastic catfights, I'd rather be looking at Maria and Kelli than Francine and Trinity. And what the hell: for three, if CM Punk is gonna be part of the new ECW, I say just help the kids out and keep the happy couple together.
    From SD!, you could go nuts with guys who'd thrive in ECW. But in so doing, you'd destroy both the cruiserweight and tag divisions. If they get a chance to shine, I'm more than happy to take my London/Spanky vs. Noble/Kash matches on SD!, instead of on ECW..... so just trying to isolate a few guys to take: definitely Super Crazy. He's got tons of ECW Cred, and plus, it already seems like they're running with the angle to break up the Mexicools, so he oughta be free and clear of that inside of a month. And you might as well give Matt Hardy a try; I've long since stopped really thinking that Matt Hardy has upper-card credibility, but you can give him one last try in ECW before cutting him lose for TNA to suck up and overpush. Paul Burchill might also be an interesting option for ECW, since all signs point to him begging out of the "pirate" gimmick while he's been recuperating from an injury, so a Paul Heyman make-over might suit him.
    From the developmentals, everybody already expects CM Punk to get plenty of exposure in ECW, and we also already know that Shelley ("Pirate Shelley" was her gimmick most recently in OVW) is probably gonna be assigned to SD!, too. Looking at the rest of what remains in OVW, it's *mostly* just guys with the "WWE Look" who will be called up to RAW or SD! when the time is right. Shad Gaspard has certainly seemed like a Heyman Pet Project lately, though, and his promo style might fit way better in ECW than it would in WWE. And I would have bet a million bucks that Mikey Batts was a lock for ECW, where he'd be Heyman's new Mikey Whipwreck, except that then WWE when and released the runt this week. Huh. Generally speaking, the prospects in Deep South Wrestling are a bit further behind on the learning curve than those in OVW, but one exception down there would DEFINITELY be Sonny Siaki, who'd be a nice addition to ECW.
    Just because Rhino's staying in TNA doesn't mean WWE/ECW won't cherrypick a bit from them, too. Lots of low rumblings about the mysterious absences of Matt Bentley and Lance Hoyt from the past month of Orlando tapings, at the very least. I thought there was somebody else who's TNA future was being discussed in ominous terms, but now I'm blanking on the details of that conversation. Most of your key TNA guys are locked in at least for a few more months: TNA only started in with the multi-year contracts last fall (and so far only Styles, Joe, the Dudleys, Christian, and Rhino have them, I think), so technically, if one were interested in jumping to ECW, one wouldn't be too many months away from having the chance to do so. Still: the same loyalties and motivations that kept most of TNA's guys there over the past 4 years will keep most of them there through the next contract renewal phase. And honestly: other than maybe Raven, who else of TNA's ready-for-prime-time wrestlers would be better off in ECW than in TNA? 
    [OK, so I'd also sign away Gail Kim and Red Headed Spaz in a heartbeat, too; then I'd go find Nidia, then I'd dust off Ivory, and finally then I'd perform any act -- be it felonious or merely filthy --  to convince Molly Holly to join up, and then along with the already-signed Jazz, I'd have me the bestest women's division in wrestling. But other than that: mostly I'd take Raven, and it'd be the best for everybody else involved to just stay in TNA. AMW should consider any offer that includes an InstaPush on RAW or SD!, but they're the most-ready-for-promotion of TNA's guys, and a move to ECW is more lateral than an upgrade at this point for them....]
    I think you take all these sources of talent, parse them wisely, and ECW should end up with a really solid roster of their own here within the next month or two. Keep on adding from the indie scene, punctuate with special guest spots by ECW alumni (for instance, Tajiri is probably only gonna want to come in for maybe a dozen weekends per year, if that), and you'll have yourself a talent pool that is recognizably "ECW" with only a few guys (Angle, Big Show) who truly have the reputation of being "WWE guys." That's gonna be HUGE step to creating the company's identity, if you ask me.
    The other huge steps are on the presentation/production side. If the day comes when ECW gets its own tapings every single week (or bi-weekly to save on costs), that'll only address a very small part of the problem. To be honest, it's like I said above: the "look" of the arena and what-not on Tuesday was fine with me, and didn't shout "This is a Standard WWE TV Taping" at me. Shifting the cameras 90 degrees and keeping a few angles off-limits was enough for me to not register that as a huge distraction.
    The look is one thing, the atmosphere is another. So let's just be realistic and say that ECW will probably be forced to piggyback on SD! tapings more weeks than not. I have a simple fix: at every single SD!/ECW taping, set aside a section of tickets that are not for sale to the general public, but are only available through ECW.com (or through Ticketmaster, but with a special password, or something). I vote for setting aside the "wedge" section between the ECW entrance aisle and the main WWE/SD! entrance aisle, which should be only about 150-250 seats, depending on the arena. If you can't find 200 loyal ECW fans in every major market, I'll eat a bug.  By concentrating these fans into one section, their chanting power will be magnified and their overall enthusiasm will probably become infectious to the rest of the arena. Most people are nothing if not lemmings at heart. 
    This is kind of a re-do of an idea I first advocated both at the start of the WCW inVasion and then at the start of the RAW/SD! Brand Split.... you set aside sections especially for fans of a particular brand/company, sort of like the "student section" at college basketball or football games. They are the loudest and the rowdiest, and will create a sense of sizzle that you simple wouldn't get if they were stuck being interspersed sporadically among the other 10,000 sticks-in-the-mud. If the rest of the New ECW comes together, my guess would even be that you'd have to expand the "Student Section" from that one wedge to cover both sides of the ECW Entrance Aisle, with possibly as many as 500 or 1000 tickets set aside for those loyal fans. And the more of those fans you have, suddenly, the less of a problem the sitting-on-their-hands SD! fans will be, as they'll either be overpowered, or they'll decide to get in on the fun.
    See, just like that: atmosphere problem solved. 
    Leaving just one last issue: the pacing/format of the show. Maybe it was just issues that Paul E. had this week with Vince and Sci-Fi (of which there were a few), but the lack of exciting, fresh content on Tuesday night was pretty pitiable and appalling. You only get one hour per week, you gotta use every second of it. The lengthy replay from ONS and the inclusion of a "See No Evil" hype segment were just unconscionable. I'll let the "moments ago" and "last week on ECW" packages slide if you promise me to NEVER let stuff like that waste valuable time again.
    I figure the formula should be simple: one tentpole match (of at least 10-15 minutes) of uncertain outcome (it doesn't matter if it's a garbage brawl or a spotfest or a technical wrestling dream, just a match that is equally contested and where fans can get interested in finding out who wins), one tentpole promo/angle (10 minutes, tops), and then pepper in other flavors to taste. I believe ECW's format is gonna be five ad breaks and, thus, six segments: two for the tentpole match, one for the tentpole promo/angle, and three to do with as you please (probably one filled with backstage stuff, and then two used for shorter matches).
    One thing that's a no-brainer: the return of the "Pulp Fiction Segment." You can re-invent it however you want for 2006 (maybe even turn it into a reality-TV-style gimmick where there's a room -- like a confessional -- backstage where performers -- especially those not otherwise booked to appear on tonight's show -- can get things off their chest and keep their issues brewing with a brief rant), but a slammed together 4-5 minute musical montage featuring 10 or so guys and girls venting would be a GREAT way to make sure that you keep all sorts of different stories brewing without screwing up, TNA-style, by trying to cram too many full-on matches and promos into a show.
    Anyway: just a few ideas and whatnot for how to address the real problems that did exist on ECW's Sci-Fi debut (and which will have to be solved in coming weeks)... and mostly, it's my way of saying to you negative-nellys out there that even if things do seem broken, they aren't irreparably so. 

  • And here's where it gets even more fun.... because the rating on Tuesday night was a 2.8. Whoa.
    Putting that in perspective, it's the highest rated thing on Sci-Fi in over six months, it's roughly triple what TNA's drawing, and this all happened on a network that has lower household penetration than either USA or Spike TV. It's also about 33% higher than what Sci-Fi could have dreamed about (though within WWE, they fervently believed they could get up close to the WWE vs. ECW special rating of 3.1; then again, this is the company that thought that Saturday Night's Main Event would do a 5.0 back in February; HA~!).
    ECW on Sci-Fi was also the most-watched show on all of cable for Tuesday night and (of course) scored a slam dunk in terms of young male demographics (it might surprise you to learn that Sci-Fi actually skews a bit older; very male, but older male, more 34-54, instead of 18-34; huh, I didn't really know that till collecting the ratings info yesterday). That's certainly impressive, and it even pisses me off a little, because it beat "Rescue Me" by 0.3 (head-to-head, no less).... and I'm happy to report that after a few weeks, "Rescue Me" is once again on my Good Side, and CERTAINLY deserved to win this Tuesday night's head-to-head Battle Of Quality TV. For whatever it's worth, I got deeply annoyed when the show got a bit off the rails towards the end of the first season; I was underwhelmed when it continued weak for the first part of the second season; but then it got everything together again late last year, and they've come out kicking some ass so far in Season Three. Poor Lew....
    I digress.....
    Anyway, I do not see ECW maintaining those sorts of ratings in the short term. Why? Well first, you have to consider that some of that 2.7 was made up of the Merely Curious; and I don't think that the show was strong enough to permanently rope back in any fringe fans. Second, you have to consider that within the next month, Cena/Edge/Orton/et al. need to be done and gone from ECW TV, which will briefly kill another segment of that 2.7 rating. Then will begin the process of building up a truly New ECW, though, and building up ratings along with it, if the job is done well.
    Through it all, though, I'd be stunned if ECW's weekly average ratings fell much below shouting range of 2.0. And like I said Monday: that's gonna make Sci-Fi/NBC/Universal VERY happy.
  • Some more potential Sci-Fi/ECW synergy: next month, a made-for-TV movie about robots will debut on Sci-Fi, and Chris Jericho has a supporting role in it. If ECW was willing to show a glorified ad for Kane's crappy movie this week, I wouldn't be surprised if we got a week or two of hype for Jericho's crappy made-for-TV movie when the time comes. 
    Just don't expect Jericho himself to take the chance to make a brief return to the inside of a wrestling ring. In recent interviews, he's finally started copping to the basic truth that we talked about last year: that he just got mentally sick-and-tired of all the BS, and he's been having fun taking his little break and playing at being an actor and rock star. He's clear to point out that he does not consider himself retired, but he's equally clear that he'll only come back when he's damned good and ready. 
    What, Chris, Steph's maternity leave doesn't strike you as a pretty sweet time to come on back? What if I throw in a complimentary concussing of Johnny Ace so that he is no longer capable of fulfilling his duties, too?
  • In what might be an example of looming ECW/Sci-Fi ANERGY (a word that does not really exist, but which is intended to mean the opposite of synergy), there are rumors about Sci-Fi making a few requests about Tuesday's debut that might rub people the wrong way.
    The one I know for a fact is true is that they insisted, on Tuesday afternoon, to pre-taped ECW at about 7pm (eastern) at the start of the TV tapings, instead of going live at 10pm. This is because they wanted to have the option to drown out crowd noise if any naughty chants started. For Fuck's Sake, Sci-Fi, you're a CABLE network (which means that you can't be fined for anything), and it's 10pm at night. Don't be dicks about this. Not when it's a common occurrence to here 10,000 people chanting "Bullshit" at a college basketball referee at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon on CBS. 
    And then there's the one that sounds so stupid I almost think it's a case of Heyman or others backstage floating a story to the "internet jackoffs" just to see if they'll "report" it, and then they'll laugh and laugh and laugh about it.... that one involves Heyman writing the initial script so that Sandman squashed an Alien instead of a Zombie. But Sci-Fi Representatives put the kibosh on that, because they felt it would offend their core audience. Uh huh.

  • In other positive ratings news, RAW scored a 4.3 this week, which is the highest its been in a while. Too bad it was for such a disappointing show.... though I guess the lesson here is that even if they screwed the pooch on time management, the promise of an Edge/Cena main event was enough to keep people riveted, even if the match itself was 30 seconds long.
    The extra eyeballs probably also helped out in terms of getting a few more people aware of the ECW/Sci-Fi thing, too, which is another hidden bonus.
  • If you're curious, Paul Heyman is pretty much done with OVW, and week-in, week-out writing/booking is now being handled by Greg Gagne. 
    Al Snow is expected to continue helping out as much as possible on the training side of things, but nobody's clarified just yet how involved he's expected to be in the new ECW. At present, he's being booked on all ECW shows/tapings, which is a major impediment to being OVW's full-time trainer, but this might just be a temp thing till ECW solidifies it's roster.
    For whatever it's worth, when WWE agreed to terms to purchase the entirety of the OVW tape library a few weeks ago, that spelled the end of OVW being syndicated (or whatever) to my local cable access channel, since I guess now all distribution of OVW has to be OK'ed through WWE. I got my last new episode just last night, if the crawler across the bottom of the screen was to be believed.
    All I can say is that between Heyman leaving (and gutting the OVW roster by taking his favorites with him) and Gagne taking over the booking side of things, I'm not exactly shedding any tears over the loss. I've enjoyed getting to see WWE's next line of stars in a genuinely-entertaining environment every Wednesday night the last 6-7 months, but it sounds like we're about to go back to the deal where I'm just fine doing some quarterly scouting by FF'ing through a few developmental videotapes....
  • Also leaving his current brand to focus his energies solely on ECW is Dave Lagana, who has spent the last couple years as the head writer for the SD! brand... no word yet on who'll replace him, but a few months ago, the idea was for Lagana to accept a job transfer that would require him to travel less, and let Dusty Rhodes take over most of his SD! writing duties. For whatever reason, that didn't happen, but it's entirely possible that Dusty may now be tapped -- even if only on a provisional basis -- to fill in. Especially since Stephanie is no longer traveling and has started reducing *her* workload, too, in anticipation of giving birth.
    This could either be a very good thing for ECW, or a very bad thing. It just depends which Dave Lagana shows up: the one who had the good judgment to love ECW -- and his OO -- and idolized Heyman and came up through the WWE WriterMonkey Training Program while moonlighting as something of a protege of Heyman's. Or the one who later realized it was more politically beneficial to be a Steph Sycophant, and sold out to the machine in order to basically become her right arm and the head writer for WWE's b-brand. If Lagana's fired up to bounce kick-ass ideas around and help bring us back to the spirit of ECW he once loved as much as anybody, this'll be a perfect match. But if he's been re-assigned as sort of the Licensed Monkey In Charge of keeping Heyman and Dreamer from deviating too far from the established WWE Way of Doing Things, that kinda stinks.
  • JBL, as he announced at One Night Stand, is the new color commentator for SD!. But this really can only be a short-term fix, unless JBL has decided upon early retirement (instead of having decided upon taking a month or two off to let nagging back injuries heal up). Otherwise, JBL's dial is just gonna be up way too "loud" in terms of keeping himself and his gimmick over instead of him focusing on being a good color man.
    Think how awful Coach is because he's more interested in putting his character/gimmick over than in calling the action in a productive way, and that's how bad things could be. But being totally serious, if JBL wants to throw himself into this and put aside all his "I'm a bad-ass wrestler" bluster (at least for a bit, and it shouldn't be a problem, since in storylines he IS forcibly retired at least insofar as SD! is concerned), I can see him being WWE's first EFFECTIVE true-heel color commentator since Bobby Heenan left the company. Since that time, we've either had tweeners (Lawler, Tazz, Heyman) or Ineffective Heels (Coach) in those spots.
    But even at that, it's still probably just a stop-gap fix, cuz the second JBL gets back in the ring (be it on SD!, which is probably where he is most needed, or not), he's gonna have to give the announcing gig up. I just wish I had any ideas for somebody who'd make an ideal partner for Cole on a permanent basis. Since I did just mention him above, I will repeat -- for the billionth time -- how awesome I think Jericho could be as a color man, if that's anything he'd like to pursue as a one-night-per-week gig with his old buddy Mitchell Cole. Well, one night, and maybe one flight to Stamford (which would have to be on WWE's dime, which is why even if Jericho was amenable, I bet the company wouldn't do it) to do an afternoon of re-dos and voice-overs to get the timing/cues right before the broadcast. Maybe if they just stayed up late and fixed any voice-overs the night of the tapings? Nah, that's still kooky talk.....
  • WWE has announced the release of Goldust. Which makes about the fifth or sixth time in the past 5 years they've done that to the guy. And which thus makes the fifth or sixth time I cannot comprehend why they're doing it.
    The usual mantra is "creative couldn't come up with anything for him to do, and he's a pricy veteran, not a cheap-ass $500 per week developmental wrestler, so we're cutting him loose." And my mantra right back is "If Creative can't find something to do with one of the most hilarious and entertaining characters of the past decade, they are, by definition, not Creative at all." 
    No doubt, Goldust's days as an upper-card wrestler or secondary champion are over, but he's still a rock solid vet who can easily pop the crowd without breaking a sweat. In so doing, he can give some of that residual heat over to those around him, which is sort of what I figured would be what they did with the Goldust/Snitsky team. Snitsky doesn't suck any less now than he did before, but by hanging out with Goldust, he'll be associated with skits and matches that don't quite suck as bad as if he was on his own.
    And that's just the easy, no-brainer idea for what to do with Goldust given his recent-term activities. Going beyond wasting time with Snitsky, the Goldust character is simply a treasure trove of easy, hilarious, entertaining ideas that few others could pull off without the decade of pent-up dedication to silliness that Dustin has thanks to this gimmick.
    I wish Bob Holly would get 100% healthy so I could -- with a clean conscience -- make the smart-ass comment that it baffles me that somebody like Goldust (who connects with the crowd with such ease) can get fired, while Bob Holly still has a job.
  • That's all I got for today folks (and probably for this week). Plenty of stuff still coming over the weekend, though, so please do come on back to check it out.
    Oh, and a reminder: I endorse tonight's TNA Impact, even if only because of what I assume is going to happen in Kevin Nash's X Division Debut Match. You'll also want to note that Impact tonight is pushed back to midnight... and if that's a problem for you, Spike has an 11pm airing tomorrow (Friday) night. As well as the usual replay on Saturday night, too. I'm sure you'll figure it out, if you're inclined towards the TNA.
    Later on....

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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