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Hogan Out of SummerSlam?, plus Ratings,
TNA, Angle/RVD, Diva News, and Lots More 
August 7, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Is anybody out there smarter than me when it comes to MySQL logs and might want to help me figure out what the hell's going on with my forums? And specifically with what's causing me to crash my server overnight, almost every night, even though *I* am not doing anything and my forums shouldn't be doing anything, either?

FYI: if you visited OO earlier today and got a "Suspended Account" notice, that's why... apparently, it's not nice when you repeatedly slam a server to the point of submission. I've tried to address this issue in the past, but my hosts don't care enough about the inner workings of my site to help me figure out what might be happening at their end, and to the best of *my* knowledge,  

I'm not doing anything wrong at my end, either. But now I've gotten some tidbits of log files (and can request more, I think, from an Actually Helpful Tech Support Guy), and might be able to start figuring shit out.

Just on a first glance, I almost think that the forums come under some kind of automated Hack Attack every night, because all the SQL calls seem to be denied as the query is locked/illegal. But that's just me guessing. To the best of my knowledge, there should be no automated process that causes all these queries to take place at odd hours of the morning, so there's gotta be something else behind 'em, no?

Any help is appreciated. Just drop me a line if you want to lend a hand. Thanks in advance, OO Nation!

And even to those slovenly leeches among you who contribute nothing, I now gladly serve up today's portion of news and views:

  • Big story of the weekend is that Hulk Hogan may be out of SummerSlam. He has definitely been written off tonight's RAW, and further testing/analysis will be required before his availability for the PPV is determined.
    The official story goes like this: Hogan's knees aren't exactly in the best of shape to begin with, but on Thursday afternoon/evening, he did his first strenuous leg workouts in a while, and then heard a "pop" when attempting to get up off the couch. An initial diagnosis was "a cracked meniscus." An MRI was taken on Friday, and results will be analyzed within the next few days.
    The unofficial story is that Hogan was being asked to lose the match to Orton at SummerSlam, and thus, pretty much any conspiracy theory you wanted to come up with would have some level of credibility to it. Nobody's ever accused Hogan of being above using any and all excuses at his disposal to achieve his political ends. Obviously, one could argue that Hogan knew what he was getting into when he agreed, in principle to coming back for this storyline. But equally obviously: given the amount of hub-bub that surrounded Hogan making the comeback (against the advice of a LOT of advisors, both for him and for his daughter Brooke), the guy could easily have changed his mind.
    Originally, when I heard this item, I was gonna play up the "unofficial" angle a bit more heavily because I'd never ever heard of a "cracked" meniscus in my life. It's soft tissue in the knee, and I've always heard of it "tearing" but not "cracking." However, a check with the 2 or 3 readers who sometimes work as my Resident Orthopedists reveals that a "cracked meniscus" is a legitimate, if infrequently used, term.
    So it becomes the safer play to just take all this at face value for now, and assume Hogan really does have a Knee Issue. Hell, I'll go so far as to say it's a stone cold certainty that Hogan has a Knee Issue (even though part of me may be unsure if that Knee Issue is any more or less severe than it was a week ago): the guy's body is just broken down, and there's no point denying it.

    The more important issue, though, is whether this really will result in the Hogan/Orton match being pulled from SummerSlam. For better or for worse, Hogan's rare in-ring appearances are a proven buyrate draw (most attribute SummerSlam 2005's success to Hogan vs. Michaels), and though Hogan vs. Orton has the stink of.... well, of "Stinky" on it, it's still a Hogan match, and it's still gonna draw a few more eyeballs by virtue of being able to run commercials featuring Hogan. If Hogan's off the show, the "who will replace him" issue doesn't even really factor in, because nobody can replace him. Not in terms of box office appeal.
    But somebody will have to step in and face Orton, probably. Because that's just how WWE thinks. Me, if there's a chance of doing Hogan/Orton down the line, I don't even bother with a replacement match. Maybe let Orton line-mangle his way through a brief promo/skit to remind us that Hogan was SUPPOSED to be here, but that's it: then spend the rest of your valuable PPV time letting the other matches (spanning three brands) develop fully without being rushed.
    If, instead of going that route, they insist on plugging The Amazing Chinlock Boy into a shitty PPV match, there are really only two choices from the current RAW roster. One is Kane (who, outside of one ECW appearance, has yet to find a new niche on RAW since dealing with Fake Kane), and the other is Harry Smith (who was widely expected to debut as Orton's post-SummerSlam feud in a soul-crushingly-retarded angle involving both of them wanting to bone Brooke Hogan). Anything else would probably involve Orton being shipped over as the latest Random WWE Guy Pretending to Be Extreme in ECW, where he could either do Chapter 298 against Angle or something with whichever of Sabu or RVD doesn't get the PPV title shot. Although I'd be a much bigger fan of just telling Orton to sit out SummerSlam, with Sabu/Big Show and RVD/Angle as the two ECW matches. But what do I know, I'm only a fan of non-shitty wrestling?
    If there's more to the story than just the Publicly Circulated Tale (or if WWE ends up knowing more about Hogan's true injury status if the Publicly Circulated Tale is all there is to the story), we might get some instructive hints tonight on RAW. With 2 weeks till SummerSlam, there'd really be no excuse for WWE/Orton to be dicking around or playing it cutesy if they know Hogan's a no-go: they need to introduce Plan B, pronto. We shall see.
  • If Hogan/Orton is off, SummerSlam starts looking a hell of a lot like Any Other Show. RAW's two headline matches become DX vs. the McMahons and Edge vs. Cena. SD!'s two top matches are 99% likely to be Batista/Booker and Rey/Chavo. ECW will probably bring Sabu/Big Show and RVD/Angle. Some promise there, for sure, but nothing that makes me stand up and go "Whoa! *This* is why this is the second biggest show of the year!"....
    You can even fill in some spots with a RAW IC Title 3-way and/or Trish's Farewell Match, or a US Title Match (Lashley/Finlay seems best) from SD!, and you still end up with a line-up that seems more likely to be "appreciated" than "entertaining," if that makes sense. If it doesn't, well: it's the difference between watching an ROH tape and watching WrestleMania.
    In fact, with SummerSlam falling on August 20, I can already tell you that I'm going to have some SERIOUS issues with watching the show. I mean, I know DVR can do amazing things, but on 8/20, I'll have a choice between sitting on my couch watching the second-to-last episode of "Deadwood" AND the Shatner Roast on Comedy Central, or investing my time and energy into a "meh" WWE PPV. I'm telling you: "Deadwood" and Shatner is a mighty combination, and will be tough to overcome.
    Prove me wrong, WWE, prove me wrong.
  • A little TV/ratings catch-up....
    Last week's (I thought weak) episode of TNA Impact did a 0.9 rating, which is up an insignificant one-tenth of a point. The story for Impact remains the month-long downturn in ratings since the loss of UFC as their lead-in.
    However, after my comments on Friday about Spike's odd/horrible programming choices, many readers wrote in to say that TNA won't have to suffer much longer, because another season of UFC's stupid reality show is coming WAY sooner than I expected. It actually begins on August 17, which means they must run two or three "seasons" per year (unlike most of those other lame reality shows which budget for one "season" per year). The UFC shows, even if laden with the kind of retardo-drama (and not so much with anything resembling shutting up and fighting), average between upper-1s and mid-2s, giving TNA a MUCH higher lead-in rating, and a MUCH more compatible lead-in audience, to boot.
    This still doesn't cut to the core of the problem, which is that TNA's "stand alone" ratings ceiling seems to be a 0.8 or 0.9. But it does give TNA hope of playing to an audience 30-50% larger than their current one as they head to what they hope will be a breakthrough PPV in October.
  • I got much love (even from the TNA fans who seem to hate me most weeks) for my Eric Young Beats Kevin Nash one-liner last week.... I'm sticking with that one, too, folks. I mean, you could make a case for Daniels, Styles, or Joe beating Nash, but other than that, there is absolutely NOBODY in the X Division who should score a pinfall on Big Kev, the Midget Killer.
    Keep in mind, I have a reasonable amount of man-love for Sabin, but between his spring gay-i-fication and his pitiable awful skit with Jerry Lynn last week, the guy's gravitas is in the toilet. Whoever beats Nash should be somebody who won't be back to just being an Anonymous Flippy Guy one week later... and to me, there's no denying that Eric Young could be that guy.
    I especially like the idea since you got EY hanging out with the New Age Outlaws, who have tenuous DX/Clique ties, which would certainly feed Young's paranoia, and make for week's worth of swerve-tastic TV before you finally head for the big pay-off. Plus, with the Outlaws and with Shelley/what's-his-name, you also have tag matches and 6-man matches you can give away on Impact before going to Nash vs. Young, one-on-one on PPV.
    It's a definite case of something so perfect, it almost writes itself. Which doesn't guarantee the chowderheads in TNA will be able to puzzle it out and write it, but still: I think this is a rare Money Match for TNA, so I hope they go this route....
  • Last week's SmackDown! did an abysmal 2.3 prelim rating (which might even dip a bit further once final numbers are in, due to preemptions). With an announced Booker vs. Taker main event, I might have expected a stronger number, but nope.
    Not the strongest of shows, overall, either. I'm all for introducing new talent, but sometimes, you gotta space it out so that it has maximum impact. Throwing so many new faces (or "nobodies," as a lot of fans might think of them) out there in the same week is NOT gonna get you results. In one night, you had Elijah Burke (the slightly less-talented Ron Killings), Montaveous V-something Porter (the WAY less talented, but more charismatic Shelton Benjamin), and KC James/Idol Stevens debuting. That's a dangerously apathy-inducing cocktail.
    Side tangent: I thought they were giving Aaron Stevens the name "Austin Starr," or something like that? Then again, I also thought for sure they'd make him get Rock surgery on those puffy little bitch-titties of his before putting him on WWE TV, but they didn't...
    Side tangent 2: the award for self-contradictory behavior on the night goes to JBL. One minute, he's bad-mouthing Cole for trying to call the moves in a Kristal/Ashley match because any normal male should be massaging his prodigious hard-on. Then, 20 minutes later, JBL is saying that most these bimbos on SD! aren't worth his time, but Michelle McCool is the lone exception cuz she's all smart and talk-to-able and stuff in addition to being hot. Pick one and stick with it, JBL! I vote for the latter, because even if Michelle McCool ISN'T particularly bright, I'm a sucker for hot chicks in glasses. A huge sucker. If JBL's commentary finds traction and goes over, could Michelle as a female Bobby "the Brain" be the next character development step?
    Still: you throw in a Finlay/Regal match (with Finlay TOTALLY playing the babyface until a run-in by Lashley, at which point Finlay played a tweener, which was cool) and stick to a slightly more in-ring-based product, and it's not like SD! sucks, or anything. It's just sorta bland: the over-long, under-interesting Chavo promo is like the microcosm for the whole show.... it sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice, it borders on boring you to sleep.
    And, 9 months after the fact, do we really need Vickie Guerrero on TV getting into the middle of Chavo vs. Rey? In my head, all the Fantasy Booking I did had all Eddie Related Issues being tied up and packed away back at WrestleMania, and here we are, still going full-speed ahead with them (and threatening to have them reach all new heights of uncomfortable-to-watch stupidity). To me, it's not an issue of whether or not the participants are willing (remember, last year, Eddie and Rey were strong proponents of the "Who's Dominick's Father?" story), it's an issue of somebody, somewhere, having the good sense to say "this is simply not good TV." But nobody's stepping up to do that. Ugh.
    Finally: this just in.... the Great Khali still sucks. Badly.
  • Apparently, WWE.com has been pushing the story of Jeff Hardy's return pretty hard, and as part of their "coverage" (ahem), they've essentially admitted that the plan is for Matt and Jeff to reunite as a tag team.
    I reiterate what I said last week: this might sound like a step back for Matt, but honestly, despite a strong vocal minority who cheer the guy, his singles career really is stalled.... he can only gain by once again being seen next to his comically-flamboyant younger brother (who makes ANYbody look butch and compelling by comparison). Maybe a year down the line, we can finally do the Hardy vs. Hardy feud the RIGHT way (i.e. "not the way they did it five years ago, when it sucked hard").
  • Many wrote in to say that as recently as Friday morning, TNA's website still had Jeff Hardy listed on their "superstars" page (despite him not working for the company since winter, and despite the fact that I'd heard about Jeff's WWE contract back on Wednesday evening).... it's since been taken down, but there are vestiges of Hardy all over the TNA website, including Jeff's theme music and a ton of his merchandise. 
    It's a Catch-22 for TNA, as Hardy was basically the #2 or #3 merchandise seller for the company (even with his sporadic appearances), and can still make them money if they push his stuff now that he's working for WWE. What to do, what to do?
  • While on "official website news," and while (ahem'ing) WWE.com, I'll "report" that Tommy Dreamer's weekly column will magically return. And coincidentally enough, this happens just after Tommy took a 2 week vacation from office duties, and is once again clocking in at Titan Tower!
    WWE is claiming something on the order of 400,000 angry e-mails as the reason why Dreamer's been re-instated. Uh huh. Shhhuuuuuuuuuuuure.
  • In direct opposition to my statements in Friday's column, Rob Van Dam *did* return to action this weekend at ECW house shows, as his suspension officially ended last Thursday.
    RVD and Angle worked semi-main events underneath Big Show/Sabu (including at an event in Missouri that drew 2500 paid, which is the best the New ECW has done outside of the Hammerstein Ballroom). One report indicated that RVD appeared to suffer a "stinger" when he fell wrong on his neck at that show, but he did complete the match, and when I checked this morning, he was still booked to make his return to TV at tomorrow night's TV tapings. So it can't be anything serious.
  • Something I forgot to mention in Friday's Column: the "vampire guy" is now officially named Kevin Thorne. Or possibly "Thorn," though the spelling with the "e" is a lot more appropriate, if you ask me. Then again, I'm a guy who openly claims that there is a demonstrable and significant difference between guys named "Carl" (who are usually OK) and guys named "Karl" (who are not), so I'm probably overly sensitive to minor variations in spelling.
    Thorn/e was jobbing around the horn/e (HA!) to CM Punk this weekend. I was told that Punk's reception was decidedly chillier than it was on TV, and much as I hate to say it, I expect this phenomenon to continue as long as ECW plays to a mostly-WWE-ized audience. It's not that the guy isn't good. It's just that he's not SO good that he can win over a typical mainstream fan.... I know me saying that pisses off indie wankers and ROH tossers, but it's true: Punk's above average at everything (he's sorta got a unique look, he's sorta got mic skills, he's sorta good in the ring), but excels at nothing, ESPECIALLY when reigned in by WWE's in-ring philosophy.
    To me, the key for Punk is gonna be getting him re-cast as a heel as soon as possible; they let him has his feel-good debut at Hammerstein, but even then, Joey was hinting at how a lame-ass straight-edge tool would ultimately fit in with ECW where drinking and smoking and porn and stuff are the norm. In the absence of being able to blow anybody away in the ring, Punk's gonna need a "hook" to his character, and I think that hook comes with him playing a heel. 
  • I guess word started spreading over the weekend that Lita's on the outs with WWE....
    All I can tell you folks is that I know her contract is up late this fall (October/November-ish), and hasn't been renewed yet, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Unlike Trish, I don't know of Lita having particularly pressing aspirations outside of wrestling, so I'd think that an extension would probably get done unless Johnny F. Ace (upstanding retard that he is) decided to try to "Dudley" Lita (by not negotiating with her on the grounds that the WWE payscale has changed since her last bloated contract and he's too big a pussbag to just discuss this openly and tell her "we kinda gotta ask you to take a paycut if you want to stay with us").
    Like I said on Friday: Trish is more and more a mortal lock to leave the company in September (and less and less likely to come back after getting married and being well-honeymooned), and if Lita's gone by the New Year, too, I'll actually consider that pretty sad news. Partly because I think you can't underestimate Lita's skanky importance to Edge's character. Partly because WWE's had serious issues with introducing any new women outside of Melina (and maybe Mickie) who come close to replicating the all-around ability-plus-wangosity factor that your Trishes, Litas, Mollys, Gail Kims, and so forth had. But mostly because, since 2004, all signs were pointing to Trish and Lita hooking it up in the blow-off match to end all blow-off matches as far as women went. Till Lita blew out her knee the last time, I think the plan was for a steel cage match at Mania that year, and I'm STILL jonsing for that closure. 
    Now, BOTH women might leave before we get it? That'd suck.
  • Other Diva news: snake-bitten Ashley broke her hand at TV tapings last week, and will have to wear a soft-cast for at least a month while she endeavors to work through the injury.
    On the plus side: after my drunken SD! Recap rambling of a few weeks ago, it's been very nice to see Ashley ditch the attempted Torrie Wilson Makeover and go back to looking like herself. Truly there is a calculus to Babe Appreciation, and all the proofs point to the fun part being all the differentyness, and is not related to chicks all trying to look like the same airbrushed cookie-cutter knock-offs. Maybe ballcaps and arm-socks aren't necessarily unique, but they are "Ashley," and it's nice to see her back to that look.
  • Supposedly, the Boogeyman is very near a return after arm surgery in April. And supposedly, he'll be re-assigned to ECW. Oy.
    But I guess it makes sense. (1) ECW is on Sci-Fi, and even 3 months ago, you read it here first that there had been internal discussions of Boogey being used as a crossover character for the show because he fits the Sci-Fi mentality. (2) King Booker has a restraining order on Boogeyman, which might render a return to SD! problematic. And (3) Paul Heyman likes the Boogeyman character, and made it his pet project in OVW last year (proving that even geniuses can be retarded sometimes).
    Brace yourselves, folks.
  • The final bit of correctionizing from the "Vince McMahon: Star Maker, Star Breaker" piece appears to be a minor one.... after Friday's run-down of feedback, the one correction I didn't address was Magnum TA-related. Turns out, he wrecked a Porsche, not a motorcylce (I think I was thinking of Kerry von Erich when I made that one-off remark).
    Everything else, though? Appears to be holding up well. Nobody else pointed out any errors (well, not REAL errors, though there remains some pissiness about my treatment of the NWA Title, post-1991, and specifically the matter of Barry Windham; but it's my document, and my rules, and I say all reasonable data points to the NWA Title becoming meaningless in September 1991 and not getting out of that rut until... well, maybe not getting out of it yet, depending on your feelings about TNA). Most folks just wanted to chime in with more anecdotal evidence of the Iron Sheik passing through NWA/WCW, and also tell me how great the piece was.
    I can't argue with them on the latter. Though it's still nowhere near "The Ancient Wisdom of Chris Jericho"/"Culture of Mediocrity" column from February in terms of my best work for the year. Not even close.
  • Last thing for today is a quick look ahead to tonight's RAW.
    It's in Memphis, and Randy Orton vs. Jerry Lawler will go off, regardless of what's brewing with Hogan. Obviously, you can't look for Lawler to win, but you *can* expect a "home field advantage" in terms of fan support, which might, at least, give the match a bit of sizzle that would otherwise be lacking.
    On the downside, the likely result is that Coach will have to sit in for a goodly portion of the show as JR's co-commentator. That's always exceptionally painful. If it's me running things? I send Edge and Lita out there, and do a 3-person booth with JR for the whole show. Lord knows if the last month has taught us nothing else, it's that WWE has no idea how to fully utilize Edge's abilities. Giving him a full 2 hours to spout off at the mouth (and to have Lita -- good little whore that she is -- telling him how awesome and massively-endowed he is the whole time) would be one way around that.
    The other announced match is Triple H vs. Umaga. Could be interesting. Umaga's fresh off his first tolerably good match (against Shawn Michaels), but his win in that match was tainted by a McMahon Ploy in which Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrrada's Cuban cigars got HHH booted from the building. But one box of Cubans remains unaccounted for, and if found in the possession of the McMahons could make HHH vs. Umaga a more interesting affair, with the McMahon's gone, and Michaels in HHH's corner. It could -- dare I say it? -- be a perfect set up for Umaga's first loss. That chicanery could enrage Estrrrrrrada and provide the impetus for a rare in-ring appearance by him (in a tag match vs. DX, which would happen next week and be a total throw-away excuse for a run-in by the McMahons). It's not an uninteresting scenario.
    Other stuff: Edge/Cena will be furthered, even if it's not via 2 hours of Edge-tastic announcing.... the IC Title three-way feud ain't going anywhere, and that's just fine with me... Trish pinned the women's champ last week in a tag match, so things seem to be lining up for her (last?) run at the title she pretty much single-handedly re-established.... the Highlanders and the Spirit Squad remain at odds, and single or other non-title action seems the likely next step betwixt them..... and try as you might, you cannot escape the Diva Search. Unless you're smart, like me, and employ a 50-60 minute time shift before hitting "PLAY" on RAW.
    Come on back to OO tomorrow, when -- no matter what caliber of show WWE delivers -- we will supply you with the Greatest and Best RAW Recap in All The Land. It's an age-old process: WWE puts sand in my vagina, and after two hours of typing, I squeeze out the most gorgeous and precious of pearls. Lucky you.
    See you then, kids..... 

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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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