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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Controversy in TNA, Malaise on SD!, plus
Financials, Movie News, and Lots More 
June 19, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

How in the blue hell is there a "Clerks 2" (in full color, with a big budget and special effects and everything) coming out next month, and I had no idea it was even in production? 
  

Because if I had, then believe you me, I would have had yet another prong/tangent to my Friday Column on the Great ECW Debate. Check it:

A gritty, edgy, lo-fi product becomes an underground sensation in the early 1990's. Then, thanks to video distribution, the product suddenly has enough fans in enough different

places to be labeled a "cult hit." In an attempt to parlay that status into even more success, the product makes a few increasingly-concerted attempts to break through into the mainstream. However, those attempts necessitate that the product be softened around the edges a bit, causing it to lose some of the charm that made it a hit in the first place. Stabs at full-fledged mainstream acceptance never quite live up to expectations, and right after the turn of the century, the franchise hung up its boots, presumably forever. At least: until somebody got the bright idea to do a big-budget revival of the one-time cult hit here in the Year of Our Lord 2006.

Am I talking about ECW or Kevin Smith movies? Doesn't matter, since all of a sudden, I'm going to think myself massively clever for realizing how freakishly identical their stories are.

Hell, you could even draw pretty tight parallels between Kevin Smith and Paul Heyman: both are doughy, both inspire great loyalty (to the point of suggestions of brainwashing), both have a ton of talent and creativity, and both have at least a few blindspots that are bound to be Achilles' Heels at the end of the day. At least in terms of the new ECW, we know Vince McMahon and WWE are cutting the checks and handling the business side, so Paul E.'s biggest blindspot is being addressed and taken of.... but I wonder who Kevin Smith's got to write the dialogue for him in "Clerks 2"? ZING~!

Honestly: there exists no Kevin Smith movie where every character doesn't talk exactly the same as every other character, and where none of those characters talk like anybody would in real life. It was cute and quirky for the original "Clerks" but by the time "Chasing Amy" came around, the net result of Smith's heavy-handed dialoguery was me being unable to stop from chuckling bemusedly and shaking my head at supposedly dramatic shouting matches between two characters.

Anyway, if "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" taught me anything (and come to think of it, it didn't), it's that there are the same kind of Internet Jackoffs out there in the realm of movie fandom as there are here in the realm of wrestling fandom. And I'm sure they'll all find all other stupid reasons to hate the big-budget revival of "Clerks," just because it's what they do. Just like a lot of people came up with to hate the first night of ECW's big-budget revival.

And yet another parallel! Damn, I'm good at this.

Here's what passes for the News of the Day:

  • TNA celebrated its fourth birthday last night with their second annual Slammiversary PPV. And while OO's stance is that the most important and vital portion of the show was Kevin Nash's dominance over X Division stalwart, Chris Sabin, I guess other TNA fans might have a differing opinion.... and they might want to talk about, oh I dunno?, the main event, or something.
     
    Although for me to attempt to do so will make my brain hurt, as TNA opted to go for the non-finish to end all non-finishes. Generally speaking, that's a tactic you use at the end of a free TV show to build interest to next week's free TV show or to an upcoming PPV match. You rarely want to end a $30 PPV event by essentially telling fans "Hey, thanks for the coin, and now you can tune in Thursday night and see who we decide to say won the match for free!"... but it appears that's what TNA did.
     
    First things first: you have to know that Jim Cornette debuted (to the surprise of none) as the "new face of TNA management," which I don't know what that means, but over the past several weeks, it apparently indicates he'll be at odds with current "director of authority," Larry Zbyszko.
     
    Then: in the 5-way King of the Mountain main event for the TNA Title, Zbyszko and referee Earl Hebner conspired to screw Christian and Sting out of their best shots to win the match, while helping Jeff Jarrett to apparently take the title. If the show had ended there, you at least would have had an ending that left fans (especially those easily-led wankers in Orlando) furious and wanting to tune in to see Jarrett be stripped or otherwise humiliated because of his tainted win. But nope: instead, as Zbyszko is shuttling Jarrett and Hebner out of the arena (for "their own safety," as they were being pelted with so much garbage that Jason Longshore only half-jokingly suggested TNA planted empty plastic bottles under the seats for people to throw), Jim Cornette appears and grabs the title belt away from Jarrett before the heels can scurry away for good.
     
    Huh. So Jim Cornette is the new TNA Champion? Probably not. But the implication would seem to be that neither is Jeff Jarrett, despite his having won the match. And logically, none of the other four losers in the match could be the champion, either, no matter how badly they were screwed. Leaving us with....
     
    The Dreaded Vacant Title. That's my guess, anyway. It's either that, or some legal wrangling re-affirms Jarrett as the champion come Thursday night's TV show. Anything else would be shoddy and nonsensical, even by TNA's own not-too-lofty storytelling standards. [Hell, at this point, I'd vote for Cornette being forced to hand the belt back over to Jarrett. A tourney or anything else to fill a vacant title would just be overkill considering that we just came off an 8-man qualifying round to fill up a multi-way KotM match; you need focus in your main event picture, and generally speaking, what TNA does by having a slew of potential challengers instead of just one ultra-compelling title feud is they dilute the impact of their supposed top title belt. At least if Jarrett's installed as the champion, then you can immediately move on to him having a single top challenger, be it Christian or Sting. Or more than likely: Christian THEN Sting.]
     
    Anyway, the title situation is certainly the most important thing to come out of the PPV... and anything else I'd have to say about Slammiversary would probably just be things that are more in response to feedback I've received.
     
    Such as: every single one of you who wrote in to bitch about how I'm an idiot for enjoying Kevin Nash squashing midgets because now Chris Sabin is ruined and it's all Nash's fault can kindly kiss my ass. For one, if Nash still thinks he has important matches in him there is no reason for him to job to somebody like Sabin (because it would just reduce the impact when he finally does lay down for the ultimate Savior of the X Division). And I say that as a fan of Chris Sabin, it's just that I don't see much chance that when you open up the Wrestling Almanac, 2026 Edition, you'll be able to find a whole lot about the guy without looking at minutiae and footnotes, so let's be realistic about it, OK? And secondly, Chris Sabin -- on this Monday morning, June 19 -- is in a FAR better place, visibility-wise, than he was one month ago at this time. And it's because of Kevin Nash. You jackoffs should be thanking Big Sexy the Midget Killer for helping to back-handedly elevate one of your favorites!
     
    And if I was gonna feel guilty about getting a kick out of Nash, well, I wouldn't need you people trying to give me reasons. I have reason a-plenty when I hear Don West laughing his ass off at Nash, thus resulting in me now having one (1) thing in common with the dolt. Dammit.
     
    And the two people who wrote in because they read that Molly Holly debuted and attacked Gail Kim and wanted my opinion? Where in the blue fuck did you read that? 'Tis not true, not even close. That mystery woman is one of a handful of prospects -- both male and female -- who came to TNA's attention a while back during one of their open try-outs, and if she's the one I'm assuming, should not be mistake-able for Molly, other than by the legally blind. [Ironically enough, Molly apparently did appear at other shows/functions over this past weekend, since a kind reader sent along some of her pictures, as she thought I'd like to know that I must have been somehow mistaken a few weeks ago when I accused Molly of going blonde. Molly looked, well, like Molly again, in pictures date-stamped June 17. Huh. Like I said a few weeks ago, though, the Blonde Molly pictures I got were pretty crappy quality, and for all I know it was a wig or something. Lord knows she probably put a few of those on WWE's charge card 2 years ago....]
     
    I think those were the main things I wanted to get off my chest. For all other details and results from the show -- which included a show-stealing tag title change -- I refer you to Jason's TNA Slammiversary Recap
     
  • The other wrestling action over the weekend was contested on that one show that's on UPN. I think on Fridays. What's it called? Oh yeah, SmackDown!...
     
    I don't know why it's only really hitting me hard the past 2-3 weeks or so, but I'm really starting to feel like SD! is being willfully ignored and/or gutted by WWE, and that it's bad enough that even just average/casual fans can tell the difference between the A-show and the B-show.... calling SD! the minor leagues is not just for jackoffs anymore!
     
    Another pathetic 2.4 rating kind of backs me up on that. You know, I was just updating all my RAW ratings data (the recent upswing had me interested in checking out some long-term trends; I may be busting that out, maybe as an update to the Monday Night War feature, soon), but I've never had reason to keep SD! data. I know I could find it, though, and I wonder if we'd learn anything interesting if we compiled it all and churned out a few charts, graphs, and regression lines? Off the top of my head, though, it's enough to know that the last couple months of SD! have seemingly averaged around 2.3 or 2.4, which is less than the first couple months of the year (heading into WM) when SD! was averaging a 2.8 or 2.9. And you don't need Excel to tell you that "less is bad."
     
    Anyway, about the show....
     
    WWE is definitely asking Bobby Lashley to do too much too soon, and the result are main events that just do not seem like main events. Now, that said, Booker (especially with Sharmell and Regal helping out) has developed into such a kick-ass character that he's strong enough a foil so that it seems like even if fans aren't quite ready to accept Main Event Lashley on his own merits, they're still willing to take him as The Guy Who Shuts Booker Up. Hopefully that makes sense.... it basically boils down to me being cool with the Lashley/Booker feud, but just not being comfortable with the fact that it's having to carry the main event mantle on SD!.
     
    And the reason why it's being asked to carry that mantle is because SD! has reduced Rey Mysterio to the bare minimum level of credibility. This weekend's show didn't help, as after nearly 2 years of working hard to drop the "cruiserweight" stigma, Mysterio -- in one fell swoop -- had it slapped back on him. A hardfought win over CW Champ Gregory Helms does not elevate Helms or the CW Division, it's just the latest thing that drags Mysterio down (and SD! has nobody but itself to blame, since if they'd booked the CW Division better, then maybe this wouldn't have been such a pronounced issue). I really feel badly for Rey: it should have been easy as pie to book his title win coming off the Rumble, but instead -- whether on purpose or just out of incompetence -- WWE has left him in a position where I can't recall any duck lamer.
     
    There is no reason for the Great Khali to be on my TV. Not even if it's to further the MexiMeltdown that should allow Super Crazy to shuffle over to ECW where he belongs.
     
    There is no reason for Mark Henry to be on my TV. Period.
     
    Ken Kennedy's back, but can someone tell me why he's not doing his usual ring intro ("Hailing from Green Bay, WI, weighing in at something that includes a fraction of a pound, etc.")? It's not as good this new way, but even if they thing Kennedy will last longer as a heel by being marginally less entertaining, I think they're missing the boat.
     
    JBL was not bad at all on commentary. For the most part, he *did* leave his own baggage behind, and as a result, he was able to present the product in a way that was not only humorous, but productive-in-a-purely-heelish-way.
     
    You can get all the details in the OO SmackDown! Recap... over the next couple months, you'll be seeing a wide range of recappers. And while I'll probably retain final decision making power, if you spot a "SD! Idol" contestant that you particularly like, feel free to let me know, OK?
     
  • Batista made his return to house shows over the weekend, teaming with Rey Mysterio against Mark Henry and Booker T in main events. While the return was unannounced, it's not entirely surprising as Batista has been cleared for full physicality since late last month, and will probably want to knock off some rust before returning to TV in 3 weeks.
     
    One note about those matches: at the end, Batista would get the World Title belt from the time keeper, and stare at it longingly for a bit before finally breaking the tension by hading it over to Rey. And just like that, my faith that WWE will give us the Batista/Rey storyline that I've been begging for since it became apparent Rey would be winning the title has been restored.
     
    Cuz I'm not joking: I had a genuine fear that they'd go with Mark Henry winning the title as transitional champ. At least now, no matter how badly bungled the title reign itself has been, Rey will get to go out with some semblance of dignity as part of the proper storyline leading up to his title loss. Well: hopefully.
     
  • Something I missed touching on back on Friday (what with my zeal to address the ECW issues) is the fact that WWE released the fourth-quarter financial data.... and in the ultimate irony: with their stock trading at a 5-year-high and analysts spending the week prior to the financial disclosure predicting strong performance by WWE, the Fed had to go and reveal some less than stellar numbers.
     
    WWE stock actually dropped over $2 per share following the announcement (which is like 12%).
     
    Focus group studies have proven that not a single one of you care when I use my business degree to try to break down WWE's financials, so I'll just quickly sum up by saying that home video continues to be WWE's fastest-growing revenue stream, and that I was kinda surprised to see domestic house show attendance on a slight upward tick for the first time in over 2 years. But other than that, there weren't a whole lot of good stories for WWE, who weren't even able to capitalize on ratings increases for RAW because of the way they structured their deal with USA Network (USA's getting rich; WWE's getting a flat fee).
     
    Anyway, I just thought it kinda funny how that all worked out. A couple weeks back, I did a big ranty rant because of all the financial analysts who were writing articles praising WWE for being such a successful company (even though they aren't the ones who have to sit through the shows when they suck), and a few days later: whoopsie. Tee hee!
     
  • This probably shouldn't be news, but since it at least represents me closing the book on something that isn't really news, I'll mention: in terms of box office receipts, Kane's movie is -- for all intents and purposes -- finished.
     
    It made the jump from real movie theaters to the $1.50 second run houses this weekend (its fifth week in release), and grossed barely $100,000 on about 250 screens. Or: $133 per screen per day, which ain't gonna keep it in circulation for a whole lot longer.
     
    The final tally will hold steady right around $14 million. With total costs (adding in marketing and promotion) ending up somewhere around $10-12 million, WWE and its partners can claim a financial success. If they somehow catch lightning in a bottle with a Halloween-timed DVD release that does surprisingly well, they might end up claiming an actually-significant financial success.
     
  • And if that is news, then goddammit THIS is news: Jack Black's "Nacho Libre" exceeded all "expert predictions" by grossing almost $28 million this weekend, good for second place.
     
    I'm not exactly sure why everything I'm reading about this presents "Nacho's" performance as massively surprising. Then again, these are probably the same maroons who were stunned by how well "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" did last year. It's baffling how near-sighted Hollywood types can be when it comes to recognizing simple convergences of "it." When an idea that just about everybody can find funny meets a performer who has never failed to entertain his audience and when execution is even halfway-decent, you're gonna have a movie people actually want to see. Jack Black as a performer has plenty of "it," a Mexican wrestling priest has plenty of "it" as a storyline. And voila: much to the shock of ass-hatted Hollywood pundits, Nacho Libre has no trouble easily eclipsing some stupid sequel to a sequel that is demonstrably lacking in anything or anybody resembling "it" to secure 2nd place.
     
    It probably also helps that this is also a case where the "it" of Nacho Libre extends across age lines. Adults will want to see it because they know from experience that Jack Black is inherently funny in everything he's ever done (except "Shallow Hal"). Kids will want to see it because a pudgy guy in spandex being force to endure all manner of physical humiliations appeals to absolutely everyone with an actual (or emotional) age of a middle schooler. And it's rated PG, so adults and kids can even watch it together without any chance for awkwardness. Again: the only thing I'm surprised by is that anybody was surprised by how well Nacho did.
     
    And yep, I saw it. I think I might refrain from saying much until I can see it again, though. I don't know if my mild disappointment came from the setting in which I saw the movie, or just from the simple fact that "The School of Rock" is one of my Top 15 Movies of All Times and it wasn't fair of me to have expectations quite as lofty as I did.... but I'm gonna need another look-see before I say for sure how big of a rush you need to be in to check out "Nacho Libre." 'Twas definitely solid, but there may have been some hidden comedic gold in there that I whiffed on either because of my mood or my high expecations.
     
    Here's one last thing I *am* certain of, though: one weekend of Jack Black equals exactly DOUBLE one full month of Kane. The math, it does not lie!
     
  • Last thing: a look ahead to tonight's RAW.
     
    The big drawing card is an announced match between Ric Flair and Edge. Not only is it a re-match of a highly-enjoyable showdown from back in January, but it will be used to further Flair's feud with Edge's buddy, Mick Foley. I'm still not entirely sanguine about how WWE has rushed ahead with Foley vs. Flair, without taking more time to establish the TV reasons for the feud. Instead, they've sort of thrown out a diluted version of their real-life heat, as talked about in books and interviews, and hoped that that'll be enough to jump-start this feud to PPV-worthy status in less than 2 weeks. I dunno: to me, that just seems rushed, and it also makes it harder for fans (who are inclined to cheer for both men in most situations) to know which legend is truly in the wrong, and thus, boo-able.
     
    A secondary drawing card will be finally hearing from the reunited DX. It was one thing to see stereo crotch chops, but it'll be another entirely to hear Triple H and Shawn Michaels make it official. Supposedly, Hunter has been quite the magnificent ass when it comes to reprising his old immature Leader of DX gimmick at house shows and personal appearances in the last week, so this could make for some juvenile humor the likes of which John Cena can only wish the writers would give him. Hell, with Hunter's target being the sexually-ambiguous Spirit Squad, I'm guessing that'll be like shooting fish in a barrel for Trips.
     
    The tertiary drawing card is the promise that ECW intends to invade RAW again. This is another thing I'm not entirely sure about, but we just have to make it through this next PPV, and hopefully then everything will settle down, and we can quit having people like Cena and Orton being involved in ostensibly "ECW" storylines. But for tonight: we'll just have to cope. ECW's invaders could work towards any one of three ends: (1) they could go after Orton, since he's facing Angle at the PPV, (2) they could go after Cena, since he's facing Sabu at the PPV, or (3) they could interfere in Edge/Flair, since Edge crashed ECW's Sci-Fi debut and will be contending for Rob Van Dam's WWE/ECW Title at the PPV. Don't know which (or which combination of) those three things would come off best, but based on the tone of Heyman's promise to crash RAW, it might be Cena who is #1 on the Shit List...
     
    Then, after Foley/Flair, Squad/DX, and the three RAW/ECW cross-over matches, I'm not sure if there's anything else set in stone for the PPV this weekend.... oh, wait: that oddly-announced 3-way for the IC Belt, too. I would have waited till after Nitro stole the win over Carlito before announcing it, but whatever. Since Carlito's pinned Shelton, and Nitro's pinned Carlito, this is probably the week when Shelton has to beat somebody, no? Shelton over Nitro in a one-on-one match probably doesn't work, just since heel vs. heel would kill the crowd. Maybe find Carlito a tag partner (Haas?) and let Shelton/Nitro get the duke that way?
     
    That's actually not too shabby a six-match PPV card, and if they just wanted to focus on that, it'd be fine with me, and it actually could make for a VERY fun and eventful show... but you know how WWE rolls: they'll figure out some way to throw in at least 1 or 2 completely pointless segments, possibly involving Viscera/Lilian or water balloon fights or the like. On the last show before a PPV, I wish I could count on WWE to limit that crap, but you know they won't. 
     
    We'll see how it all comes together soon enough, I guess. Check out RAW tonight, if it is your desire to do so. And then regardless, you know full well that you can do no better than to come on back to OO tomorrow for The Greatest and Best RAW Recap in All the Land.
     
    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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