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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Michaels and Taker Taking it Old School, plus
Ratings, Future PPV News, and Lots More 
January 24, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

So did you hear the one about this being the first Super Bowl ever with a black head coach.... and dagnabbit, it has TWO black head coaches?
 

No? Well, you will. The media gots it a story, and it'll jam it own your throat whether you find it relevant or not.

It's a shame, too, since there's an even BETTER story brewing with an Indy/Chicago Super Bowl... namely, those are the first two places I lived when I was younger. It's the city I was born in versus the city I went to Kindergarten in!

Somebody phone Bob Ley! This'll make a completely ESPN-worthy Retardo-Human-Interest Piece! The Rick cannot lose! He has legitimate claims to both teams!

Ley can also get the scoop on how this Scaia-riffic twist on the Super Bowl can only mean one thing: the University of Dayton Mens Basketball team will crash the halftime show by arriving in a perfect replica of the Wright Flyer and having the Pope decree that they are the Champions of NCAA Basketball for 2007, thereby rendering the remaining two months of the season nothing but a glorified exhibition.

This will happen. It's the only thing that makes sense. I mean, from MY perspective, anyway. And looking at sports coverage the last few days, that perspective is just as sensible and valid as anybody else's.

On with a small smattering of wrestling news for today:

  • Though there is no official cause of death for Bam Bam Bigelow at this time, investigators have completely ruled out any foul play. Hopefully, this will quash some idiotic rumors that were going around about Bam Bam having been "missing" and his apartment being treated as a "crime scene."
     
    At worst, Bigelow's financial situation had him trying to live "off the grid" (which isn't the same as "missing") to avoid creditors. With mounting health/medial expenses of his own as well as an ex-wife and 3 kids he was charged with supporting, it's a situation that has been made quite public as Bigelow's family and friends make his final arrangements.
     
    In fact, the Samoan Clan, led by Afa Anoai, have stepped up to handle payments for Bigelow's funeral and services. They are also not being shy about letting fans know that flowers *or* cash donations can be sent to:
     
    Franconi, Taylor, and Lopez Funeral Home
    1200 10th Av. 
    Neptune, NJ 07753
     
    There will be viewings at that funeral home on Friday, and service for Bigelow will take place on Saturday.
     
    If you missed it over the weekend, OO's own tribute to Bigelow and his career can still be found right here.
     
  • Monday's RAW was about as strong a showing as that program has had in a while. Very effective final build to both the Umaga/Cena Last Man Standing Match, as well as to the key participants in the Rumble Match itself.
     
    Obviously, the show was built around presenting Shawn Michaels as the odds-on favorite to win the Rumble, which would be OK with me. They even had Michaels lift some of the ideas I presented for him in my recent Fantasy Booking when he cut his opening promo.... he stopped short of actually mentioning it was 10 years ago precisely that he lost his smile on the Road to WM, but he did make a point out of saying he'd been born again, which is close enough for government work.
     
    Cap it off with Michaels and Edge having themselves a patented "Carpe Denim" Street Fight, and you got a show that works for me.
     
    Only gripe would be that if they're going ahead with positioning Michaels as the WM challenger to Cena, then it looks like they are moving faster-than-necessary with the break-up for Orton/Edge (presumably so they can face each other at WM?).... mostly because I'm in no rush to see EITHER of them try working as a babyface. Orton, just because he lacks the chops and would suck as a face. And Edge because he's just way more fun as a heel (sorta the same thing that always made Babyface Chris Jericho less fun than his heel manifestation, but even moreso in Edge's case). But we'll see.
     
    The other sinking feeling I didn't like from Monday is that in this Vince/Trump Apprentice Storyline that's coming up, doesn't it sure as hell feel like they are setting it up for Coach to be Trump's Apprentice, now? Babyface Coach is an even worse idea than babyface Edge and babyface Orton combined.... and you just know that in so far as there can possibly be a "babyface" in a feud between two clueless blowhards like Trump and Vince, Trump's ego will demand that it be him, so....
     
    Other than that, though, I think most every segment clicked pretty well, and I certainly wasn't as bored or annoyed as I've frequently been on Wrestling Nights in the recent past. Nice solid RAW. [OK, so I didn't like Candice F. Michelle getting a pinfall over somebody possessing, you know?, Actual Talent. But I was also more disturbed that Candice found a new way to make herself repellent to me, since apparently when she was getting her nose fixed, she also told the doc "You know what, just gimme the Michael Jackson while you're at it." Just awful.]
     
    FYI: RAW did a 4.0 cable rating, down a tinch from last week, but also still up two or three ticks from the 10-week moving average. If you want the glass-half-empty analysis, however, it's also down 4 tenths from a year ago at this time. So pick your Cognitive Filter, and do what you will with that number.
     
  • What RAW is doing with Shawn Michaels, SmackDown is doing with the Undertaker.... quietly positioning him to be not just a Rumble favorite, but also the man most likely to get a WrestleMania title shot.
     
    It's probably not the way I would have gone (just because Batista has never really had good, straight-up matches against bigger/brawling opponents, and by WM, there probably won't be enough time to build up an excuse for him and Taker to have a gimmick/stipulation match), but if that's what's in the cards, I vote that they go balls-out on it, and give Taker the Rumble win to set it up. (1) It puts a little bit more heat on the SD! brand, which is universally viewed as the b-show. And (2) Taker's never won a Rumble, so you might as well do this up right if you're gonna make a big deal out of "Title vs. Winning Streak" at Mania. 
     
    Though SD! continues to perform INCREDIBLY consistently in terms of quality (every week, the show is imminently watchable, but then imminently forgettable; just no sizzle factor whatsoever), Nielsen ratings continue to fluctuate pretty wildly within a half-point range. This past weekend's show was towards the high end of the range, with a 2.9.
     
  • The Rumble PPV line-up for this Sunday is finalized, with the announcement on Monday of an MNM vs. Hardy Boyz "Last Time Ever" Match. But since their match at December to Dismember was hyped as "One Night Only," you'd have to be a dolt to believe that...
     
    Problem is, the logical and compelling thing to do would require an MNM win on Sunday, leading to a blow-off Ladder Match at WM23.... except that you can't do that, unless you want to tank the established "Money in the Bank" Match (which is also a ladder match). The alternative? Since there can't be any title belts on the line in a cross-brand tag match, anyway, you give the Hardys/MNM a DIFFERENT kind of stip to work with at WM23 for the rubber match. Hell, maybe even invent a new one. But regardless, it kinda doesn't make a whole lot of sense unless the plan is to give MNM a win and to do another rematch down the line...
     
    Also, as discussed over the weekend, there will be the three title matches (one for each brand): Cena vs. Umaga (Last Man Standing, which should actually be pretty good), Batista vs. Kennedy (which could be anywhere from surprisingly good to a total trainwreck, depending on which versions of Batista and Kennedy show up), and Lashley vs. Test (which will suck, but should probably at least be short, since Test already just lost cleanly to Lashley last night on ECW TV, and there's no reason to belabor this tardfest on Sunday's show).
     
    Then there's the Rumble Match itself, which already has a fully announced list of 30 entrants according to WWE.com. That list has no surprises or anything, but I also think you'd be wise to consider it less-than-final. Both Hardys and Johnny Nitro are still listed, and my guess is that they won't be pulling double-duty. In their places, I think you can easily add in a few guys who make lots of sense. If nothing else, the way things are going, they'd be damned fools if they don't get Ron Simmons in there for a palate cleansing comedic cameo. [Though good luck on topping Monday's inspired bit of absurd humor.]
     
    Even then, this is still shaping up to be about as weak a Rumble Match as I can recall. Taker's the only guy who can win off of SD!, and Michaels is being telegraphed as the RAW favorite (with only Edge/Orton, and yes, still maybe Khali as darkhorses). Obviously: nobody from ECW can or will win. That's not exactly a thrilling list of alternatives.
     
    We'll be running my Super Duper 2006 Awards and Honor Roll over the weekend (instead of bothering to do a Team Coverage Preview), but if you care, my Rumble PPV Predictions are: MNM d. Hardys, all three champs retain, and Taker wins the Rumble match.
     
  • If you're wondering why last night's ECW included the brand's PPV main event for Sunday's Rumble, well.... you're not alone. "Ass-hatted" wouldn't even begin to describe what the hell's going on with ECW's booking these days.
     
    But the "explanation," such that it is, is that Bob Holly was originally expected to face Lashley last night, but (per what we talked about last week, folks) is dealing with injury/health issues that are keeping him sidelined as a precaution. My understanding is that it's something Holly claims to be willing to work through, but since it involves his troublesome left (?) arm -- which got so badly infected after surgery last year that it nearly killed him -- WWE doctors/trainers are playing it safe.
     
    I'd say "plus 10 for keeping Holly healthy," except that then this "explanation" starts leaking badly from all the holes in it when you realize that Holly still worked a dark match at tapings last night....  so instead of plus-10, let's just say minus several million for sending Test out there to job cleanly in his stead, thereby eliminating whatever tenuous claim he might have had on the #1 Contender spot heading into a PPV. If they aren't planning a last second switch/upgrade to the ECW Title match on Sunday, then by christ, they better be planning on making it 4 minutes or less, and a total squash for Lashley.
     
    Also, just for reference: effective this week, WWE is taping ECW *before* SmackDown! on Tuesday nights, which means that other than weeks when WWE is taping out west, ECW will no longer be live on Sci-Fi. I don't know what they expect to fix by doing this; the problems with ECW have nothing to do with what happens in that one hour per week, they have to do with the fucking incompetence exhibited in PLANNING for that one hour per week. But I guess if nothing else, this does mean that fans who attend those tapings will get a more satisfying climax to their nights (instead of getting the big SD! Finish, and then having to stay seated through an hour of ECW dreck).
     
  • It seems as though somebody at WWE has grown up. Or at least: the company is no longer planning on holding the Survivor Series in Montreal this year (the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Screwjob). When that announcement was made a few months ago, my mind just boggled that Vince (presumably) could still be so hung up on this that he thought going back to the scene of the crime was a good idea.
     
    Just thinking pragmatically, all the other major players in the "Screwjob" are either over it or outright refuse to work for WWE (namely, Bret Hart), so what could the company really have done to live up to the hype of returning to the site? Nothing that I can think of.
     
    The move away from Montreal also comes with a total reshuffling of PPV dates for WWE's last 3 months of 2007. In addition to Survivor Series moving from Montreal to Miami (tentatively), WWE has shifted 3 Oct/Nov PPVs ahead a week (including the Survivor Series), which is either to avoid baseball playoffs or to re-insert a December ECW PPV (which WWE had been internally talking about not doing).
     
  • And since I've got the topic of WWE PPVs on the brain, newspapers in Florida are reporting that Orlando (home of TNA) is an early front-runner to host WrestleMania 24 in 2008. So far, all WWE will confirm is that they are "very interested" in running a WM in Florida, which they think is a place that would be an excellent destination for all their fans to be visiting in the dead of winter. Which is probably true enough.
     
  • And while WWE might be looking to get into Orlando, TNA is still trying to escape. At least, for little pockets of time. In this case, their April "Lockdown" PPV (the all cage matches one), will be held in St. Louis, MO, this year.
     
    TNA's gotten some decent press in St. Louis because of David Eckstein's cameo appearances, but other than that, I'm not sure what recommended Randy Orton's hometown for the task of being only TNA's second real major show outside of Orlando (and second major show where fans actually, you know, pay money for tickets! ZING~!).
     
    There is continued talk of TNA wanting to run as many as half their PPVs outside of Orlando this year, with Atlanta being the only other city I know for sure is in the mix.
     
  • MTV's half-hour "Wrestling Society X" makes its official "debut" next Tuesday at 10:30pm (eastern). Yes, head-to-head with the second half of ECW on Sci-Fi. Worse things could happen than to have it beat ECW in the ratings, folks. Not because WSX sounds particularly promising.... but because anything that slaps WWE in the face and gets them off their asses is a good thing.
     
    Each 30-minute (well, 22-minutes after commercials) program will be one-third focused on a Guest Band, and then have two-thirds focus on the wrestlers. Because there is a "reality show" style vibe in terms of handling the characters/backstage drama, you're basically looking at maxxing out at two 3-4 minute matches per week (or one 10 minute match).
     
    WSX does have legitimately talented indie performers and bookers involved on the wrestling side, but the production side (from everything I've been told) will have the 30 minute MTV show being horrifying to pretty much anybody over the age of 15. The hope is that wrestling fans will get just barely enough of what they like, and then the "wrestling side" of the team will use the internet and bonus website footage and stuff to deliver longer matches and less MTV retardation.
     
    Good luck on that. I don't even have the patience to sit at my computer to watch "bonus footage" of shows I genuinely like. Just like I told WWE for months when they were pushing the "RAW Extras" during commercials: if you can't be bothered to put Good Stuff on my TV, then I can't be bothered to make a special effort to go track down your Extra Stuff on the internet. But what do I know? I'm older than 15, and I know it because I'd be perfectly willing to eyeball punch 98% of the fuckwits who appear on any MTV show. Starting with every douchebag who has ever been on the show "Next." The executives who produce these shows, needless to say, are spared the eyeball punches, and should simply be decapitated for the betterment of society.
     
    I digress. There is also a secret "preview" episode of WSX at some point on Friday night on MTV... they're not hyping it, though, as it's just the pilot episode, and I guess it doesn't match up, production-wise, as well to the later 7 hours worth of tapings, so they're kinda getting it out of the way on the sly.
     
  • The E! Network is supposedly reporting that Kevin Federline continues to be interested in further work for WWE, possibly even negotiating for a permanent position. Huh.
     
    Then again, E! Network is also the channel that features programming so soul-crushingly terrible that if I were 12 years old today, I would not fully figure out hows and whys of masturbating until I was in my mid-20s, just because of the horrifying discovery that all these "hot" chicks I'm supposed to find wangifying in "Playboy" are, in fact, the most worthless pieces of dimwitted, certifiably-insane, face-slappable awfulness to be walking the earth. Also, the half-hour after that would be the show where Perfectly Attractive Regular Girls go and get fake tits and nosejobs because that's clearly What Men Want, and I'd only grow more confused as to why I want none of this.
     
    So I guess what I'm saying is: E! Network's credibility (and its contributions to pop culture, to the self-images of an entire generation of young women, and the monkey-spanking habits of an entire generation of young men) are extremely suspect, at best. Go fuck yourself, E! Network!
     
  • Last thing for today: the WWE trainees down in Deep South Wrestling were without a trainer for all of about 1 day. The departed Bill "Hugh Morrus" DeMott was replaced by "Dr." Tom Pritchard on Tuesday.
     
    Pritchard had been a staple of the WWE developmental process until the Great Shake-up of Suck in 2004 (which saw Johnny Ace replace Jim Ross, and saw Steph get to fully implement the Failed Hollywood Writer Assistance Program, and saw lots of good, talented people like Pat Patterson shoved out the door). Pritchard was ousted by the Johnny Ace regime, and isn't the first guy to be brought back into the fold in recent months. Patterson is also back at TV tapings most weeks, providing input where he can.
     
    This is meant as no slight to DeMott, who I've personally witnessed in his "training mode" and who is a very talented Explainer Of Things So That Even I Was Comprehending It... but sometimes, it's the deliverables that matter, and Pritchard and the pre-2004 Developmental Program certainly had more success than the current program seems to be having in terms of churning out TV-ready talent. It's probably not a bad thing at all that Dr. Tom is back.
     
    Pritchard will run Atlanta's facility for WWE, Al Snow's still in control in Louisville, and Mike "Super Nova/Simon Dean" Bucci is now fully entrenched as the liason between both training territories and WWE HQ. Let's see if this is the combo that manages to get things whipped into shape so we see fewer Chris F. Mastersses gunking up our TV screens....
     
  • That's about it for me today. As alluded to at one point above, you'll be treated to my Best of 2006 Awards in a day or two. My solemn vow: my awards will not be retarded. Which is more than I can say for some of the ones I've seen so far. The RSPW Awards, sadly, have become the purview of about 32 wankers (they actually named Samoa Joe as the industry's Wrestler of the Year); the PWI Awards, I can't even tell who the hell those are attempting to appeal to (Cena's the Wrestler of the Year, though, so I'm guessing they're back to selling magazines to markish teens?); and the Observer? BWHAAAAAAAA!
     
    The OO Awardies, however, are by and for the Regular Sane Fan. Who just happens to know the difference between good and shitty. As a preview, I'll just tell you that Edge is the Wrestler of the Year in a landslide, and that anybody who tries to dispute that is mentally enfeebled. Either that, or they are using different criteria than me, in which case, their criteria are mentally enfeebled.
     
    More on the best of 2006 later this week, though. Till then, be well, 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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