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Hogan on the Outs, WM23 Plans, No Way Out
Line-Up, Ratings, Hidden Messages, and MORE! 
February 12, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Must. Stay. Focused.

Must. Ignore. Nonstop. TV. Commercials. For. Heart-shaped. Pizzas. And. Other. Nonsense. That. Cannot. Possibly. Help. You. Get. Laid. Unless. Your. Woman. Is. A. Retard. [Vermont. Teddy. Bear. Company. I'm. Looking. At. You.]

Must. Stay. Focused. On. The. Important. Things.

Cuz pitchers and catchers report this week, baby! And then before you know it, everything will be right with the world again. Well: except for the fact that the Reds will be causing me Nightly Sports Anguish by aspiring to mediocrity. Just this one last hurdle to get past, though, and then it's baseball time!

Oh, and did anybody else notice that they tried to sneak the new Hannibal Lecter movie in close to Valentine's Day (which is the "Reverse Psychology" marketing ploy that worked so well for the original "Silence of the Lambs" back 15 years ago)? To bad, unlike the original, they forgot to, you know?, make a non-shitty film.... nice try, dum dums, but getting slaughtered at the box office by Eddie Murphy's estimated 17th movie where he wears a fat suit and isn't funny should tell you just about everything you need to know about what a lame idea it is to do a Hannibal flick without Sir Anthony.

Enough drivel! On with the OTHER kind of drivel. The kind that's about wrestling:

  • Even as WWE took the opportunity last week to shore up the top two title matches at WrestleMania 23, the company is in a bit of a panic mode following the latest falling-out between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan.
    As things stand now, Hogan will not be appearing at WM23, and is telling people (well, if you count "Bubba the Love Sponge" as "people," which you are not obligated to do) that he may well never work for WWE again. 
    Just a month ago, Hogan himself was openly talking about wanting to face "a giant" at WM, kind of as an homage/throwback to his WM3 match versus Andre. More recently, the rapidly-changing plans surrounding Donald Trump's involvement in the show ramped up to the point that Hogan would be involved in the Vince/Trump angle. But then, as of last week: Hogan's supposedly out, entirely.
    Hogan made his comments about being finished with WWE back on Thursday. Ironically, that came two days after a rather ominous and cryptic comment by Jim Ross in his blog, in which he was SUPPOSED to be talking about Mick Foley's involvement in WM23, and for some reason chose to word things as "Hell, at this point, Mick may be more likely to appear at WrestleMania than Hulk Hogan." JR, that sly boots.
    Whatever the reasons, WWE is now short one (1) Signature WrestleMania Match. The top two title matches are all well and good, but neither pops off the page at you.... the Fed was counting on something special and unique to be the third prong of the WM Promotional Fork. If Hogan is out, that severely limits them.
    I will, of course, make the cynical observation that Hogan and Vince have had these fallings-out countless times in the past, and it'd be pretty stupid for anyone to believe that *this* is the one that will finally result in Hogan no longer being associated with WWE.... that part of Hogan's spiel holds no water for me. But in terms of the sheer bloody-minded stubbornness of the parties involved, considering Hogan to be off-limits for WrestleMania is probably the sensible thing to do, at this point.
    With Hogan out of the Trump storyline, apparently they are just going to plug Bobby Lashley into Hogan's spot, rather than re-work the angle to make any kind of logical sense. They could even revert to an earlier plan, which was to use the "apprentice" angle to "make" a new star, rather than to focus on existing top stars. But nope: I guess the new plan is to take the storyline devised for Hogan, and to just shoehorn Lashley in as Trump's apprentice. Lashley would then face either Khali or Shane McMahon at WM (reports differ on who Vince will select as his apprentice).
    Nee haw?
    Suddenly, what COULD have been a serious selling point of the PPV becomes little more than an early-card piece of fluff where the fun and "sports entertainmenty" aspects of any match are over-shadowed by the fact that if Lashley's involved, he pretty much has to win a squash if ECW is to be taken seriously. Well: unless Lashley loses the ECW Title between now and Mania. Which I guess might not be completely out of the question the way things are going.
    But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves: if there's one thing we know about WWE and its Writer Monkeys, it's that they're not so good at the Thinking Ahead and the Having Plans.... so all these blueprints we're talking about today could be out the window tomorrow. We shall have to wait and see.
    For now, the important thing is that it sounds like Hogan and WWE are not on speaking terms, and that there will be direct ramifications on the WM23 line-up as a result. 
  • Before WM23, WWE still has the No Way Out PPV this coming weekend. For some reason, they've altered that line-up as well: less than a week after promising a re-match of the killer four-way ladder match from Armageddon, WWE has yanked that from the announced line-up. 
    In its place, WWE has put tag champs London and Kendrick in a title defense against the new team of Deuce and Domino.
    Storyline-wise, this makes more sense, as Deuce and Domino hold two non-title wins over London/Kendrick since debuting. Me-giving-a-shit-wise, this is NOT a good move by WWE, however, since I'd have been fired up for the ladder match but not so much for a match I've already seen twice for free on SD!.
    It'll be interesting to see if this was just done for the TV storyline purposes, or to "save" the ladder match for a bigger stage (such as at WM), or if it's got something to do with Nitro being in the doghouse or anything else.
  • In addition to featuring a cross-brand main event, the ostensibly-SD!-only No Way Out PPV will also feature a cross-brand Diva Talent Contest. I can only assume they're opening it up to all brands so that Kelly Kelly and the Other Two From ECW can get booed out of the building?
    I'd also like to report that Jillian Hall just might start making serious in-roads to becoming a Rick-Sanctioned Favorite if her character continues to be such an hilarious caricature of your typical face-punchable "American Idol" contestants. That's right, "American Idol": the only place on Planet Earth where the phrase "Amazing Grace" averages between 47 and 52 syllables! Vocal runs are AWESOME and NOT EVEN REMOTELY STUPID AND OBNOXIOUS~!
  • Ratings from last week...
    RAW did a 4.1, pretty much right where its been for the past month or so. WWE would like you to know that regardless of what the "rating" was, last week's RAW had more Total Viewers than any show in a long, long time. "Rating" measures the number of TVs; but does not taking into account the number of people watching those TVs.
    My response to that: Nielsen's margin of statistical error is such that it's really hard to put too much stock in any minor fluctuations or their second-level data collection (I mean, if they can't even be 100% certain about the number of TVs, how are we supposed to trust they are accurate on the number of viewers?)... ratings are good for observing trends, NOT for making any kind of serious claims about fluctuations of one or two tenths of a point (which corresponds to a couple hundreds thousand total viewers). Anybody trying to tell you otherwise is completely missing the point. [I wish I was just back-hand pimp-slapping Meltzer on that, but sadly, even WWE itself doesn't completely comprehend the concept of "statistical significance" when it comes to interpreting ratings data.]
    Last week's TNA claimed something along the same lines as RAW: it was a 1.1 rating for TNA, but a new record in terms of Total Viewers. Good for them. Except: re-read the last paragraph. What's important is that they continue to trend above a 1.0 rating each week....
    After an anomalously huge 3.1 rating 2 weeks ago, SD! was back down to a 2.8 last week. I can't figure out the SD! ratings: last week's show had a heavily hyped World Title match (a PPV rematch) between Batista and Kennedy, and it scored lower than a show that had little more than week-old Royal Rumble fall-out. Huh. [For whatever it's worth, I also liked Batista/Kennedy 2 a bit better than their PPV match... seemed to get on track a hell of a lot faster, if nothing else.]
  • And we'll give the "Tuesday Night Wars" a bullet point of its own, I guess... though I don't really see it as much of a war, and this week's ratings tell a pretty grim tale for the prospects of Tuesday Night becoming the new Wrestling Night....
    Last week's ECW did a 1.4 rating, which is pretty much back down to scraping the bottom of the barrel after a one-week bump. The idea of a possible "ECW Originals vs. New Breed" feud is all well and good, but it really is coming months too late, and it doesn't solve the problem that the "New Breed" guys like Test, Holly, and now Snitsky all freaking suck and nobody cares about them. Without Vince really selling out to the story and putting HIMSELF front and center as the face for the "New Breed" none of those guys stands a chance in hell of capturing the audience's attention.
    Up against ECW, MTV's WSX did a 0.7 in its second week, a fairly significant drop-off. It wouldn't surprise me if WSX's ratings continued to trend that way before settling in around a 0.5.... they did a nice job getting the word out to wrestling fans, but at the end of the day, the product that's airing on MTV is NOT a wrestling show. So WSX will be stuck mostly with just the standard MTV Tuesday night audience, I'm guessing, before too long. That is to say, "Fucktards who are under the misapprehension that Bam Margera is a celebrity."
  • Apparently, local advertising in Phoenix is suggesting that a March 5 WWE TV taping will be used not only for a live edition of RAW, but also to tape a Saturday Night's Main Event. [This is do-able, because RAW would go live at 7pm local time, leaving plenty of time to follow up with an SNME taping afterwards.]
    With the atrocious ratings that a pair of SNME's pulled last year, I wouldn't necessarily go assuming that this is a special intended to run on NBC... it could just as easily be that SNME will air on USA Network on March 10.
  • Reprising an off-hand comment I made in the RAW Recap last week... Ric Flair's little Grumpy Old Man Promo on Carlito *could* be the start of a heel turn for Flair, as he's said to be stumping for one more chance to work as a bad guy.
    But it's also something that you'd all be well-served to consider as more of a petty little "easter egg" inserted into the show by certain writers/agents who felt the need to air private backstage grievances publicly.
    To put it most simply: WWE's retardo-culture is very much based on keeping up appearances and kissing the right asses and seniority-trumping-talent and all that. Oh, and also on soap raping the rookies. Can't forget JBL's favorite part of it. It doesn't matter so much about doing your job and doing it well, it just matters if you're doing your job while keeping up appearances....
    It so happens that there are some performers who aren't so good at keeping up the appearances, and so Flair's spiel on Monday was a way of sending a message to them. "We don't care if you routinely and effortlessly steal the show; we just care that you conduct yourself as a humble and attentive drone backstage, because for chrissakes, if we are busting our asses every week to churn out a D-plus caliber product, the least you can do is show us the respect of PRETENDING like you're having to work hard to do your job." That's WWE's insecure Culture of Mediocrity for you, though....
    Needless to say, I'd run a different kind of ship: a ship where if somebody routinely does his job flawlessly and gets huge reactions from the fans and all that, I don't give a shit what he does in his spare time. A ship where you can be the most respectful and attentive hard worker, but if you still, objectively speaking, suck as bad as Chris F. Masters, you will get no quarter from me. I figure it's a lot easier and more fun putting on a show with a slew of ultra-talented slackers than it is with hard working dunces. But that's just me, and my fetish for ability over appearances.
  • SmackDown! has announced that Rey Mysterio will be back on TV starting in 2 weeks. Don't know for sure, but the last I heard, his goal *was* to be medically cleared in time for WM23, so hopefully he's on pace and can start getting back into the mix next week. Though it's not like it should be rocket science to get Rey set up with a WM match: he's still owed one blow-off win in his feud against Chavo....
  • Tonight, RAW takes place live in Portland, OR, and pretty much everybody will get to see it as they usually do. Except for those of us in the United States. D'oh. We wait till Thursday for the thrilling sight of Donald Trump standing in a WWE Ring!
    Or you know what? Maybe I'll be too busy watching "30 Rock" and "The Office" on Thursday to remember. Even if "The Office" is in the running for Most Deteriorated TV Show Ever. Fricking Trump....
    The cooler potential guest star on RAW would be Roddy Piper, who lives near Portland, and who could probably use the good cheer that comes from 15,000 adoring fans, as he continues to recover from cancer.
    I think, barring major interesting happenings (and barring a Canuck donating a top-shelf precap), OO will take a No Spoiler Stance for the next few days. So feel free to come and go as you please.
  • Of course, just because there's no RAW doesn't mean there's no wrestling tonight.... Spike TV and TNA are jumping in and providing a two-hour "This is TNA" special in the timeslot vacated by RAW. It will feature five recent TNA PPV matches, a few talent bios and history packages, and the unveiling of a new gimmick match (an "Elevation X" Scaffold Match).
    The line-up for the show is.... well, it's not the five matches I would have picked. Heavy on Sting and Jeff Jarrett and the NWA Title. Lighter on Joe and Styles and the X Title. And with one exception, none of the five matches selected even rate as vaunted "four star" matches if you're one of those wonks. Given that the one thing TNA does better than WWE is feature WRESTLING MATCHES, you'd have thought they'd load up on the PPV Classics. But nope: not so much.
    Still, it's a more than adequate primer for anybody flipping past, looking for wrestling... and just because it's not the absolute BEST that TNA could offer doesn't mean it's bad. Not by a long stretch. It's just.... you know.... not BOSS.
  • The special tonight should also give a little bit of play to the events of last night's Against All Odds PPV. It was a show where not a whole lot seemed to happen, once you distill it down. No title changes, no unexpected twists or turns or upsets. Just a whole lot of nothing, wrapped up in a hyper-kinetic Vince Russo Style package that seemed to turn off a few of TNA's more loyal fans (but which might have appealed a tinch more to a broader audience of people familiar with the WWE style of shows).
    You can also bet that tonight's special on Spike will hype Thursday's edition of Impact, which goes head-to-head with the second half of RAW here in the US... Impact will feature a 14-man gauntlet match to determine the new #1 Contender to Christian's NWA Title. Just please, I'm beggin': don't let it be the new Babyface Jeff Jarrett. Otherwise, Trump on RAW actually WON'T seem like such a horrible option.
    Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how TNA does with its shows this week. I know I'd have liked to see them do more with the opportunity (especially on Thursday), but they're playing it safe. Tonight's a can't-lose deal, where pretty much any rating over a 0.5 will indicate some WWE fans found TNA while flipping around... and then Thursday, with just a standard one-hour Impact up against a displaced RAW, TNA would have to feel happy if they just held serve with about a 1.0 rating.
    Can't wait to see how it all shakes out.
  • That's all I got for today, kids. See you later on in the week...

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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