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Hogan's Back In, Lots of RAW/ECW Ratings
and Analysis, Another Rhodes, and MORE! 
August 10, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Israel finally says it'll simmer down for a second, and I wake up the next morning to find that the US Threat Condition has still gone to RED for the first time ever. What a wacky world...

Speaking of wacky, if there's anybody out there who understands Major League Baseball's Black-out Rules, I'm all ears.

Specifically, I'm asking why in the blue hell the Yankees will play the White Sox tonight (Thursday) on ESPN, and here in Dayton, OH, I'll be treated to three hours of ESPNews, instead. At least, this has been

the case a few times already this summer, and I suspect it'll repeat again tonight. And nope: it's got nothing to do with WGN (which is also on my cable system) also broadcasting the Sox game and having the "right of first refusal" or whatever. It's just ESPN not showing a game here for some reason.

Normally, I'm a master of All Things Baseball (and am, in fact, one of the finest umpires in southwest Ohio), but one set of rules I've never had to understand is the one governing when MLB blacks out games. Making things worse, this really is the first time I can remember this problem happening (in the past, the only "black-outs" I can remember are when there are local Reds game telecasts, and ESPN or FOX would have to air a back-up game on our cable system so as not to interfere with the local rights holder), and it doesn't seem to have any logical explanation.

Feel free to drop some science on me, people. And now, I'll do the same to you (albeit not very much, as it's a stultifyingly slow news week):

  • The biggest development in the last few days is the announcement that Hulk Hogan will tough it out and wrestle at SummerSlam against Randy Orton despite his knee issues.
    Even with that announcement, cynics remain who believe there's more to Hogan's public posturing over the past week than meets the eye. Even if it wasn't a case of using a no-show as leverage to change the planned finish of the match, or something, the simple fact is that Hogan has now planted the seed that he's coming into the match as "damaged goods." He's injured. He's old. He's broken down. But he's still coming to SummerSlam because it's the right thing to do for all his little Hulkamaniacs, brother. All of a sudden, if he loses, it's not so much because Randy Orton beat him, it's because he had no business competing in the first place. A convenient little bit of psychology, no?
    It's not just wrestling fans who've been exposed to this notion that Hogan's hurting and less than 100%, either... he was in NYC this week doing publicity (for some Pokemon thing, I think?), and did interviews on CNN and on Regis and Kelly Lee where he got to talk about this to a more mainstream audience (so even lapsed/casual fans who might remember to check out SummerSlam because it's the second biggest show of the year were likely exposed to news of Hogan's bum knee).
    Of course, as clever as Hogan may be, the TRULY clever wrestling fans see through all this and get to the core of the matter: which is that Hogan vs. Orton was already gonna suck (REALLY suck) as a match, and now if Hogan really does have a knee that is in significantly worse condition than normal? Hoh boy, does the potential for awfulness increase even further... last year, it took all of Shawn Michaels' super powers to drag a good (not great, but surprisingly good) match out of the re-animated corpse of Hulk Hogan. This year, a broken down and nearly-immobile Hogan is gonna hook it up with the Amazing Chinlock Boy? Anything lasting longer than 5 minutes may well resemble hell...
    But as bad as it may be, it'll probably still sell a few PPVs, since it's still Hulk Hogan. And now we can turn off the portions of our brains that were cooking up schemes for how WWE might cover for Hogan's absence.... which is too bad. Some of the ones I got from you folks in e-mail were actually pretty good. And a lot of them did a nice job making use of Stone Cold Steve Austin in a way that didn't involve a full-on Orton/Austin match, but was more gonna be the very early start of a possible later Austin/Hogan match. Not bad, OO Nation, not bad at all....
  • Monday's RAW did a 4.2 cable rating; that's the best number the show's done in two months, and a spike of two-tenths from the week before. And it just so happened to be the first show in forever that made proper use of WWE Champ Edge and the first show in forever that I mostly liked?
    Well, probably. But I can pretend it's not, can't I?
    It was just nice to see RAW pulling out a show that largely lived up to its potential. I think it's pretty much indisputable that RAW has the strongest all-around roster (by all-around, I do include in-ring work, but also mean personalities/star power and stuff like that) of any wrestling brand in the world. And along with the "it" factor of most of their upper level stars, the show itself has an "it" factor because of the live atmosphere. It should be a slam dunk each and every week, yet somehow, the past two months, RAW has been a study in mediocrity (and that was on good weeks).
    Monday's show changed that, and I felt like they focused the lion's share of TV time on the right people; people who are capable of carrying the ball. You're not gonna flip away from Edge. Or Carlito. Or Foley. Or Flair. Or HHH. So you space those anchors out wisely, and you fill in the blanks with other tolerable stuff (Kane, Shelton, Lawler in his hometown, etc.; pretty much everything but the Diva Search), and you got yourself a show that actually seems to fill up 2 hours in a compelling fashion.
    I enjoyed Monday's effort. Here's hoping for more of the same. And as always, you can get my much more detailed and entertaining coverage of the show in the OO RAW Recap.
  • Tuesday's ECW on Sci Fi did a 2.2 rating, which is down very slightly from the past two weeks, but still mostly in line with the show's Career Average. It's also the first show to not feature any "outside" (RAW/SD!) talent in the main event, so let's hope Vince doesn't go batshit over the loss of two-tenths of a point and go shoehorning Randy Orton into next week's show...
    I gotta say I was also a fan of Tuesday's ECW, and think it looked like what "ECW" is gonna look like going forward: certainly not "genuine" in terms of resembling the old ECW, and pathetically flaccid in terms of being an edgy Alternative to WWE... but without the RAW/SD! flavor, you definitely start to take notice of the ECW roster, and the slightly different way the show is laid-out every week (with the brief promos and packages superceding any long-ass in-ring promo work). It's certainly light years short of what I might have hoped for when I first thought of what a revived ECW could do for the wrestling business, but it's still something I can see myself warming to on a weekly basis.
    Pretty much the only thing that I will be bitchy about, week-in and week-out, though? The whole "Extreme Rules" thing... not only is it retarded that the concept even exists, but it's triple retarded if Extreme Championship Wrestling can present an entire TV show without a single Extreme Match. Which is what they did this week. Fer chrissakes: unlike all the other issues WWE can explain away, this is not some tangentially-related aspect of the old ECW that fans can be trained to forget. THIS IS RIGHT THERE IN THE FUCKING NAME OF THE COMPANY. Exciting, fast-paced action where there are always decisive finishes are good things in and off themselves; for ECW, it becomes doubly important though, since it's a defining characteristic of the brand and one of the few ways the brand can look significantly different from RAW/SD!.
    But whatever. I said I liked Tuesday's show, and that t'wasn't no lie.
    Angle/Sabu -- even in the absence of ECW Rules -- was quite good, and the finish with RVD laying out both men? Gotta say, me likey. I have to assume this sets up a four-way title match at SummerSlam, which should be good (and as a bonus, it saves back Sabu's one-on-one title shot as a storyline element, while still including his highspottery in this contest). You're cramming so much talent into one match that Big Show is gonna look good just by standing nearby while all the goodness is going on... and that's the sort of thing that'll slowly earn him some cred with ECW fans. Although I also think it might be fun to have him win the match and retain the title, just because of how much that would earn him additional ire of the ECW fans.
    The opening segments with Dreamer/Sandman/Knox/Test/Heyman/SWAT Team weren't necessarily world beaters, but I'm liking the hints about where they might be taking this whole storyline with Heyman selling out the "ECW Originals." If there's one angle that I think fans would really get into, it's one in which Heyman blatantly admits to selling out the Old ECW in favor of this new Corporate Vision. The efforts of the "ECW Originals" to beat some sense into Heyman (and Heyman's WWE-flavored stooges) wouldn't just make for good TV, but it could also be the impetus for the ECW product becoming (and STAYING) a little more edgy and Extreme on a weekly basis once Heyman comes around. Hey, I can dream, can't I?
    All the little vignettes/promos added up to a mixed bag. I'm still curious as hell why it's Balls Mahoney who's getting the biggest push of the old ECW guys.... Rene Dupree? In ECW? Hey, he's got more upside doing the "annoying French pussy" gimmick than Sylvan Grenier does on SD!; Dupree may have been pushed too hard and too fast when he was a US and tag champ in 2004, but he's not without an innate face-slappability.... and even if I'm of the opinion that the guy is probably more than a bit over-rated, I gotta say CM Punk is being treated like a mega-star and his matches being presented as something special. And that just might be enough to trick fans into thinking Punk's more than the above-average talent that he is.
    What am I forgetting?  Oh yeah....
    The Vampire Guy, Kevin Thorn, wrestled. And again, I thought it was a pretty decent "showcase match" for him. I just have to raise a few concerns over the presentational side of things, where Joey is acting like Thorn and Ariel are all freaky and scary. I don't care if Paul Heyman's "research" suggests there really is some niche demo of goth/vampire types.... cuz the other 99.8% of us who aren't severely fucked in the head just laugh at those people, and pity them a bit. They aren't interesting or compelling. They're just weirdos. For better or for worse, that's gonna have to factor into ECW presentation of such an over-the-top gimmick, otherwise, sooner or later, the fans themselves will shove Thorn and Ariel into the realm of comic relief.
    [Actually: I got a story from ECW's Saturday night house show, and if this is true, then the fans have already started the mission. During Thorn's match against CM Punk, anytime Thorn would hit a move and go for a cover, the audience would chant along with the ref.... "One, Two" and then after the kick-out, they'd go "MWAH AH AH AH" like the Count on Sesame Street. I hereby declare that this must become Standard Operating Procedure for all fans during Kevin Thorn matches!]
    Anyway: pretty good stuff on Tuesday, and with the RVD/Angle/Sabu finish, I think this might be the first edition of ECW where I ended up instantly looking forward to the next one. Has sustainable episodic television come to Tuesday nights? Only time will tell....
  • OK, so I heard about this on Monday, and just assumed it would be the biggest non-story of the week.... but Vince McMahon had to go get a bug up his ass, and now, it at least bears a quick mention.
    A professor at Wake Forest got a study he did correlating violent behavior in children with wrestling viewing published. Thing is: he originally conducted the study in 2000, and even back, rebuttals from other social scientists cast serious doubt on the thesis claiming a causal relationship between wrestling and the violent behavior. With no additional research collected in the intervening 6 years, it seems like a waste of time to go getting one's panties bunched over something that would have just blown over and gone away.
    But that's not how Vince rolls.... nope. Instead, all reports indicate that the #1 priority on Vince's plate Monday at TV tapings was making sure to write up a few potshots for the announcers to make at the expense of the study and its author. That's Vince McMahon for you: always focusing on only the Truly Important Things.
    There were even whispers about a possible lawsuit against the professor and the journal that finally agreed to publish his paper. Oy. The study itself is the kind of retarded claptrap that can only spew forth from the most limp-wristed and thin-skinned of academic; but I can safely say if half the stories are true (and judging from the forced taunts included on the RAW telecast, they are), Vince's reaction is even more retarded.
    Just point people to the dissenting viewpoints that debunk the original study, keep your mouth shut, and get back to spending your energy on non-stupid things: that's my vote, Vince.
  • Responding to an odd mini-deluge of e-mails: no, Kristal wasn't fired by WWE. I don't know where you got that from. She worked Tuesday's SD! tapings, and I can assure you there was no firing going on.
  • With Tommy Dreamer's success as an in-ring performer for ECW, he and WWE have decided it is appropriate for him to scale back his administrative duties. He had been serving as basically the liason between the developmental territories and management in Stamford, sort of doing the quality control for OVW and DSW. 
    Those days are over, now, and Mike "Simon Dean" Bucci will move to Connecticut to take over the job. More than likely, the correlating roster move is that Simon Dean will no longer be seen on TV or SD! house shows. Dean had been living in Kentucky and helping out Al Snow (especially when ECW would call Snow away) in terms of in-ring training lately, so he's not exactly jumping into the new job without some handle on how things work in the developmentals.
    More likely than not, fans will see zero impact on the on-screen product, as the ultimate decisions regarding who gets called up are still the purview of Johnny Ace and the Creative Team. 
  • Although Eric Bischoff's contract with WWE expired last month, he's still working with the Fed as it suits him. One of his projects is some stupid energy drink he owns/invented/whatever, and which'll now be a sponsor for SummerSlam....
    The other's a bit more intriguing, though, as he's signed a deal to release his autobiography through WWE Publications. I've always found it fun to see how differently Bischoff manages to spin things from his days in charge at WCW versus what most fans (using their own two eyes) thought they saw. Sometimes, you really do learn something about backstage issues that fans might not have been aware of. Other times, you get the distinct impression that Eric is full of shit, and SO full of shit that he doesn't even realize it.
    Bischoff's story is as much the story of the rise and fall of WCW, so this might actually be one worth checking out when it's released later this year.
  • While all the other "liver guys" have been cleared to return to work, we still haven't seen Super Crazy back in action. But he's also not sitting at home on medical leave. I was told he was at TV tapings, but just hasn't been used the past two weeks. Don't know for sure, but that might mean he's cleared, too, but creative just doesn't have anything for him to do.
  • I mentioned 2 months ago that Cody Runnels (son of Dusty Rhodes and half brother of Goldust) was showing up on some OVW spot shows, as "Cody Rhodes," but didn't know for sure what the deal was....
    Well, I've been forgetting to mention it, but a few weeks ago, Cody did get signed to a full-on WWE developmental deal. Unless I'm whiffing on something, it sounds like WWE basically inked him as soon as he graduated high school (where he was a stand-out wrestler in Georgia). He might be a guy they think about fast-tracking....
  • I do believe that's all I got for you today, kids. Hey, I warned you pickin's were slim.
    We'll have plenty of stuff coming your way the next few days, though. Tonight is Impact (Steiner vs. Christian), and TNA follows-up with a PPV on Sunday, which means Jason and the OO Forums Posse will be here with the interweb's best TNA PPV Preview. And now that the days of the SD! Precap are officially over, PyroFalkon will be taking over as our full-time SD! recapper. I've been looking for a way to get the poor guy a regular gig since Byte This went tits-up, so keep an eye out for that.
    Other than that? Hey, enjoy your weekends, all. And I'll see you come the start of next week as we make our final few stops on the road to SummerSlam. Later on, kids....

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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