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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Another Solid RAW, Hogan, Ratings, and
The Death of Mike Awesome. 
February 27, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Good for Marty Scorsese.
 

Not only was "The Departed" the only well-nominated-by-
the-Oscars movie I saw last year (another year that I don't think'll be too fondly remembered for its movies), but I think it's also the only of those "Oscar-y" movies I even really *wanted* to see. The rest just seemed lame entries from your usual delicate arteests who act like they as aficionados of the Art of Filmmaking,

instead of just being Smart, Clever People Who Enjoy Making Shit That People Will Actually Enjoy Watching.

Scorsese's Best Director win SHOULD also have allowed me to make the joke about how it's good to finally see him EXACTLY as well-decorated by the Academy as Three-Six Mafia is. Except that freaking Jon Stewart stole that one-liner from the dark recesses of my brain and used it on his show last night. Jerk; it never ends with that guy.

[Late Addendum: I have just been informed by Several Helpful Readers that Jon Stewart was just making a re-joke of a joke he'd made a full year ago -- when he hosted the Oscars. My transgression has been forgiven, however, since, as one reader pointed out, "If you're as big a fan of Jon as I think you are and you were just looking for a reference to a really funny and undeserving one-time Oscar winner, there's no way you couldn't have subconsciously flashed back to Jon's line from last year about Three-Six Mafia 1, Scorsese 0." Yep, that probably explains it. Appy-Polly-Loggys. But I still have yet to receive Royalty One from "Douchebaggery." And we've proven that one was mine before it was his. Or Colbert's.]

End PreRamble. Begin Usual Ramble:

  • Last night's RAW continued the streak of Extremely Watchable Outings for the brand. Perhaps nothing that leapt off the screen at you this week, but a few solid matches, and most importantly, forward storyline progress in almost every segment.
     
    Even though I have my doubts about the WrestleMania line-up and its lack of sizzle or of a real single signature match, WWE seems focused on doing the best with what they got, and that certainly means that the Road to WM has been an enjoyable and pleasantly fast-paced one so far.
     
    Case in point: Bobby Lashley announced as Donald Trump's "representative." Do I care? Eh. Should I care? Not really. It's fricking Bobby Lashley, a relative rookie, going up against Umaga, an 80's Style one-dimensional savage. But Trump and Vince give it just enough zazz to distract you from that, and then last night, they threw Lashley and Umaga out there in a pretty intense little brawl, and even if your mouth isn't watering for the match at WM23, you find yourself getting slowly sucked into the hype for it.
     
    [Sidenote to WWE: Please stop using the 15-year-old Barber Shop set. Every time I see that stuff, I am reminded how much I marked out when a reader suggested that Brutus Beefcake simply HAS to come back and deliver the Winning Haircut at WM23, seeing as how it *is* the 20-year anniversary of Brutus' first haircut -- of Adrian Adonis -- and the birth of "The Barber" gimmick. Of course, due to Hogan Related Political Issues, this cannot happen, and now, seeing the Barber Shop stuff just makes me feel sad.]
     
    Rest of RAW?
     
    Good, to-the-point opening segment with Edge/Orton planting the seeds of dissension between Michaels/Cena by reminding us all of HBK's Tag Team Infidelity over the years. What can I say? I'm a whore for any time WWE remembers something longer ago than last week. Which, luckily, they don't do very often, leaving me to maintain a relatively chaste and virtuous reputation among Internet Personalities.
     
    Jeff Hardy beat Shelton Benjamin in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Well on the way to being a pretty sweet 12-15 minute anchor, but then Shelton looked like he hurt himself off a botched move from the top rope, and they pretty much went straight for the clean pinfall finish a couple minutes early. Too bad, but even with the foul-up, this was an easy Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad.
     
    Johnny Nitro got all insecure and extra-douchebaggy when listening to his woman discuss everything that's on her plate now that she's the women's champion, so to prove he's still the Man of the House, and that he wears the (decidedly-unmasculine Size 24) pants in the family, he stormed out to the ring and beat the crap out of Super Crazy in a Non-Match. Huh. so it's NITRO who is super and crazy, now? Funny, the way I would have played him and Melina would have been more like K-Fed and Britney (pre-her-going-batshit-insane), with Nitro just turning into a willing-mooch, wallowing in his own crapulance, and taking undeserved hand-outs while his women brought home the bacon. 
     
    [Sidenote to Britney Spears: No matter what I may have said about you before or what I will say again, please get better and don't do anything severely stupid, no matter what the voices in your head might be saying. The music industry already has one Courtney Love. We don't need you going and leaving behind another for us to deal with, if you catch my drift. Thanks. Love, The Rick.]
     
    Melina then beat Maria in an Actual Match. God bless Maria's little heart, supposedly she really does try hard not to suck, but I'm not quite sure it's working. But such is life, I guess, when you really only have three capable women on the RAW roster, and one doesn't get pushed because she's too old, and the other is probably too fat or something in Vince's retarded eyes, so: bring on Maria. And bring on Diva Search Ashley in a match at WM23 that'll almost surely suck balls, as well! And taking the biggest hit in all of this: Melina, who has miles of potential, but doesn't yet have the reps and the experience to take these lemons and make lemonade with them, so she just looks sloppy-by-association. Whee. Oh: and Melina won with kick to the ovaries.
     
    Chris Masters and the Great Khali inspired Remote Control Fingers to go into warp drive the world over. Luckily, their segment was quickly bailed out by Kane, who attacked Khali as a payback for Khali attacking him on SmackDown!.... I guess Kane vs. Khali is what we get when Hulk Hogan decides he doesn't want to work WrestleMania. And how about that Glen Jacobs: the amount of Purest Suck he's silently endured being a part of at the hands of WWE's creative team makes me think we need a t-shirt that reads "Glen Jacobs, Taking One For The Team Since 1995."
     
    [Sidenote: I also think there should be a "CFM = OVW" t-shirt. And possibly also "If You Like Orton, Than You Are Dumb." Can you envision yourself, or anyone you know, wearing such OO Branded T-Shirts? I'm sure I could work out a merchandising agreement with Licensing Genius, the Canadian Bulldog, if there's interest....]
     
    Backstage: Vince is informed that there will be a Special Enforcer Referee for the Umaga/Lashley match at WM23. Vince doesn't like the sound of that, but he is subject to rulings made by the Board of Directors. Vince promised to go to ECW tomorrow night and make Lashley's life a living hell, just for shits and giggles.
     
    Carlito beat Kenny Dykstra. Pretty much the only extended segment on the card that *didn't* seem to have forward storyline momentum, but they even kinda fixed that right at the very end: after Carlito won with a cool modification of his double-knee back-cracker, Ric Flair came out and gave Carlito a Golf Clap. Sincere? Patronizing? Who knows, but I guess the point is things aren't entirely over between Carlito and Naitch.
     
    Shawn Michaels/John Cena beat Edge/Randy Orton to retain the tag titles. Somewhere between 15-20 minutes, and pretty much exactly as good as you'd expect given HBK/Edge's excellence and Cena/Orton's borderline-competence. Early part of the match culiminated in a tease of Michaels ALMOST superkicking Cena (be accident?) before an ad break. Back, and we settle into the standard babyface-in-peril formula, and this time, when Cena got the hot tag and we entered End Game, it was Edge/Orton who had the communication difficulties. In the four-way chaos at the end, the ref got distracted, and Michaels used a tag title belt to whap Edge from behind. Then, in Eddie Guerrero Fashion, he tossed the belt in Orton's direction, who picked it up just as Edge turned around. Edge put 2 and 2 together said "enough of this happy crappy" and left Orton alone in the ring, where he was quickly decimated and pinned by Cena.
     
    I'd have preferred the "less satisfying" ending of Edge/Orton winning, since at least that would mean that they wouldn't be breaking up before WrestleMania, but what do I know? Other than the fact that Edge is best as a heel, and that Orton has absolutely zero value as a babyface, and that any attempts by WWE to turn either is foolish?
     
    Good show, though.
     
  • Donald Trump has been getting WWE and WrestleMania the LEVEL of mainstream press that the Fed would have hoped for... now, as to whether or not its of the QUALITY they wanted? That might be another story.
     
    For starters, Trump appears to have a familiarity with the WWE product that is only SLIGHTLY bested by Stephanie's Failed Hollywood Writer Monkeys. In interviews over the weekend, he called Bobby Lashley "Bobby Lindsey" and referred to the Great Khali and "The Great Hindi." Which would be all well and good if I thought he was just taking Bulldog's Scouting Report too seriously, but he isn't, and that's pretty much just as inexcusable as the time Chico Ortiz was on Kimmel, and couldn't remember the name of "TNA" before a PPV he was guest-refereeing at.
     
    For second: in all of Trump's media appearances last week, he was already announcing his "representative" (even though WWE was stuck trying to pretend the decision wasn't made till Monday night) to everybody, and also let slip the identity of the Guest Referee. [Don't read the next sentence if you don't want spoilers. It's going to be Stone Cold Steve Austin.]
     
    I guess that's a line WWE's willing to toe, though. The cost of "giving away" storylines on E! Network or Tabloid TV might mean a few extra PPVs out of a pool of people who don't care about the drama or continuity of the weekly TV shows. Meantime, those of us who ARE relatively loyal to the weekly TV shows will get annoyed by WWE's torpedoing of logic and causality, but probably not annoyed enough to tune out the product. C'est la vie.
     
  • Ratings update from last week.
     
    RAW did a 4.0 rating last Monday, which obviously is way up from the week before (when it did a 3.0 when displaced to Thursday).  It's still a little down from the month preceeding the preemption, when it averaged a 4.1. [It's also down from the same timeframe one year ago, when it averaged a 4.3, again discounting the one-week Dog Show pre-emption.]
     
    ECW on Tuesday did a non-holiday series-low of 1.3.  The show seems to be fluctuating around a 1.5 lately, but the fluctuations ABOVE seem to come in weeks when WWE purposely does Stunt Casting (like Vince McMahon deciding to show up, as he is again tonight), and that most fluctuations are below. I know I like the "Originals vs. New Breed" story in theory, but can we speak any louder on the issue of just how badly we don't want to see Bob Holly on TV?
     
    TNA was back to a 1.0 on Thursday, right about where they'd been (before WWE came storming in and knocked them down to a 0.6 for one week), and right about where they need to be. There have been some who expressed mild disappointment that there wasn't more momentum generated by TNA's Monday special, but I'd say any disappointment *I* have stems from how little TNA decided to do with their Monday Night Special and Thursday Night Block the week before... what they opted to do was to curl up in a ball and "hold serve," rather than to steal any viewers... and "hold serve" is exactly what they did judging by Impact's latest ratings: nothing lost, nothing gained.
     
    SmackDown! on Friday did a 3.2 broadcast rating, which is the show's best in over a year.  SD! is also averaging around (or slightly above) a 3.0 for the past month or so, which (unlike RAW) actually puts them equal to or VERY slightly ahead of their moving average from a year ago at this time. It is probably no coincidence that SD!'s slight ratings resurgence comes at the same time that WWE has gone hog-wild with the brand cross-overs, but hey: results are what count, right?
     
  • For those wondering why MTV's WSX wasn't listed, remember: it's because it was yanked from the schedule last week due to a general Programming Re-assessment by MTV executives.
     
    But if you're somebody who's just GOTS to see what all the fuss isn't about: WSX returns tonight (Tuesday) in its normal timeslot (10:30pm, eastern) on MTV. Yippee?
     
  • Test (Andrew Martin) has been released from WWE. He was currently serving a 30-day suspension due to violation of the company's wellness policy, and over the weekend, was involved in a single-car accident. For the record: word is that Martin was administered a standard filed sobriety test and passed, so I'm not sure it's "journalistically responsible" to have put the suspension and the accident together in the same sentence and encourage y'all to make the obvious assumption. But fuck it: I never said I was a journalist, and I just tacked on the extra information, too.
     
    Test had been getting a huge push as a lead heel for ECW at the time of his suspension. With Bob Holly on kind of a week-to-week basis when it comes to the injury/surgery status of his arm, most expected Test would come back and fill a void on the heel side of the roster when his suspension was up. Guess not. Which doesn't necessarily break my heart, but when you're staring at fricking SNITSKY as the next best option, one can already start pining for the good ol' days of Test stinking up main events.....
     
    Test remains one of the bigger enigmas of the past decade, in my mind. I just cannot decide if he's the victim of one of the single biggest mishandlings ever (when he seemed poised to become a mega-star in 1999, until Vince McMahon stepped in and scooped his heat in the whole HHH/Stephanie marriage storyline, and Test was left forgotten), or if his massive potential was just a mirage, and subsequent failures to really connect with the audience when pushed (such as to the top of ECW over the past 8 months) prove it. Sometimes, not even The Rick can claim to know the answers, folks, and when it comes to Test, I count that one as a Real Doozy....
     
  • Hulk Hogan's done some more talking, and if I didn't know any better, I'd say he honestly WAS a man who didn't care if he burned his last bridge with WWE and Vince McMahon. 
     
    Luckily for you, I do know better, and am cynical enough to note that the very week Hogan ramped up the anti-Vince rhetoric was the same week that an episode of his crappy "reality" show focused on Vince McMahon and a 20-Year-Contract offer from Vince. Coincidence? I think not.
     
    Anyhoo, the closest you'll get to a "real story" out of this whole situation is that Hogan fell out of love with the whole idea of doing WrestleMania 23 the more clear it got that he couldn't do it with Paul "Big Show" Wight. Khali was proposed as a substitute, and then Hogan's various demands went up (he's already got an arrangement by which any time he steps into a WWE Ring, he's got to be the highest-paid performer on the show), and Vince was all "What the fuck?", and Hogan's like "Well, this isn't what we originally talked about, so if you want to do this other thing, there's my price," and Vince is all "Screw that noise," and Hogan's all "Fine, I'll go on Bubba the Love Sponge and ramble incoherently just like Kurt Angle to his loyal band of borderline-illiterate listeners about how I'm totally gonna start a wrestling company of my own."
     
    And nee haw, there you have it: it's basically just about money. And there will always be enough of that to go around at the end of the day, so no matter how stupid and retarded this whole thing sounds (and no matter how much more stupid and retarded Hogan makes it sound by saying stupid and retarded things on a stupid and retarded radio show), it's probably not nearly as bad as you think. Which is not me saying Hogan's gonna be at WM23, and all is smiles. It's just saying there's enough hot air being blown here to take a balloon up your ass to Spain.
     
  • The hot closing angle to last week's SmackDown! (in which Rey Mysterio returned to the ring to announce he was ahead of schedule in his rehab and nearly ready to return to action, but was instead attacked by Vince McMahon and Umaga) apparently has an unfortunate underlying cause.
     
    I guess, with me not paying attention/asking about it, I missed some memo in which Rey's rehab is actually going SLOWER than expected, and instead of him targeting a WrestleMania return, it's now more like "Summer. Hopefully." And even then, it's not a sure thing. Sounds like a case of RVD-itis, if you remember Rob's constantly-delayed return from knee surgery.
     
    The comparison fits another way, too, since like RVD, they decided to bring Rey back to keep him in the public eye, but then do an angle to explain him being Even More Mortally Wounded Than Before. D'oh.
     
  • The planned March 10 Saturday Night's Main Event special on NBC is now officially off. NBC tried to haggle with Vince over the timeslot (since last year's two SNME's did such shitty ratings), and the two sides could not work out a satisfactory compromise. So NBC just said "screw it" and pulled the plug entirely.
     
    The way things are worded, *IF* NBC remains obligated to show SNME under the terms of WWE's programming contract, then they are only obligated to show two of the specials per year. There's nothing explicitly stated about WHEN they have to air. So apparently, NBC's thinking here is that they can either "hide" SNME on a Saturday night during the summerlong ratings doldrums where nobody will really care, or will save SNME back for the fall, when there's a chance that Scripted TV Show Production will be delayed by a writer's strike, leaving networks to rely (even more so) on crap like "reality TV" and game shows. And maybe even Wrestling.
     
  • And lastly, some sad news....
     
    Since last we spoke, there's been another wrestling death. Last Sunday (10 days ago), Mike Awesome (real name: Mike Alfonso) was found dead in his apartment by friends. Though no suicide note was found, he was discovered hanging. He was 42 years old.
     
    Though Awesome considered himself fully (and relatively happily) retired from wrestling, he was going through a divorce, and was said to be out of sorts in recent weeks. Obviously: nobody ever sees anything like this coming, though. Condolences go out to all of Mike's family, friends, and fans.
     
    I know Awesome worked his way up the ranks by making a name for himself in Japan for the better part of a decade. I am, however, light on the details, and can only pick up the narrative on Awesome's career once he showed up in ECW in 1997 or so. Sporting a mullet, and billed as "Awesome" Mike Awesome, he was -- in many ways -- a man 15 years after his time. Except when he stepped into the ring and did things you simply did not see 6'5" guys doing, you could buy into the presentation as one of those things that was "so bad it's good," and just enjoy the hell out of the man's work.
     
    From throwing (and taking) the sickest chairshots, to flying around like a cruiserweight, you got used to the experience of Mike Awesome stealing any show he wrestled on. Nowhere was this more apparent than 2 years ago, at the first WWE/ECW One Night Stand PPV, where Mike Awesome re-ignited a years-dormant feud with Masato Tanaka, and in 8 minutes of utterly jaw-dropping brutality, managed to deliver what many considered the best match of the night.
     
    That was, by the way, Mike's last match ever. Not a bad way to be remembered.
     
    Awesome's rapid ascent in ECW during the late 90's inevitably resulted in him winning the ECW World Title... and it was Awesome's second ECW Title reign that probably resulted in his defining career moment: while holding the ECW Title, Awesome "defected" to WCW, and appeared on Monday Nitro being billed as the ECW champ. It was a decision which infuriated Paul Heyman (and the ECW locker room), though a little research over the past week paints it as a REALLY complicated moral issue.
     
    On one hand, Awesome was (like many struggling to make ECW work) owed money by the company. On the other, of any "unwritten rule" in the retarded Wrestling Subculture, the one that makes the most sense is "If you're the champ in one place, you do business the right way going out." And from what I've unearthed the past few days, WCW basically put Awesome in a horrible spot: they offered him a contract and a ton of money, but ONLY if he came while still holding the ECW Title. In other words "We'll pay you to jump, but NOT if you do business right by your former employer." That's a tough choice... Awesome made his decision, and had to live with the consequences.
     
    The first consequence was an awkward night in Indianapolis, when Awesome made one final ECW appearance (by dressing in his car, coming into the ring through the crowd, and then immediately leaving the building again after a 30 second "match"). WWF wrestler Tazz defeated WCW wrestler Awesome to win the ECW Title on that night in what has got to be one of the greater historical anomalies of the Vince McMahon/Post-Regional Era.
     
    From there, Awesome moved on to WCW, and actually did get every ounce of the push he could have hoped for. Problem was: by and large, he got it from Vince Russo, so it basically didn't count for jack-shit. With gimmicks that included "That 70s Guy" and "The Fat Chick Thriller," Awesome was always near the top of cards, but also just as frequently the butt of jokes among fans. Late in the lifespan of WCW, Awesome got to go back to being plain ol' Mike Awesome (same as Booker T got to ditch the "GI Bro" gimmick and go back to being Booker T), and as Lance Storm's buddy in Team Canada, had success in both the US Title and Tag Title hunts.
     
    When the WWF bought WCW in early 2001, Awesome was one of about a dozen wrestlers kept on the roster by the WWF. He initially had a cup of coffee with the Hardcore Title during the opening part of the inVasion, but didn't stick around the company for long after that. During one of the "roster thinnings" of late 2001 -- once the WWF admitted failure and knew they wouldn't be running any stand-alone WCW shows -- Awesome was cut. One can't help but assume (given the make-up of the WWF locker room at the time, and the presence of Paul Heyman in a position of power) that lingering prickliness over Awesome's "betrayal" of ECW landed him on the chopping block ahead of more than a few less-talented performers.
     
    Awesome had continued success in Japan for a year or two after leaving the WWF, but his profile domestically fell to near zero until the one night resurgence at 2005's One Night Stand PPV. He was initially on a list of potential candidates for a job in the "new ECW" last year, but nothing ever materialized, since once again, WWE's vision of a "stand alone" company never came to fruition, and the New ECW became a watered down C-show that was firing "ECW originals" almost as fast as they could hire them, so they could stock the brand with cast-offs like Test and Bob Holly.
     
    As such, Mike Awesome continued his life in Tampa, FL, as he had been: as a real estate agent. Until last Sunday, anyway. Rest in peace, big man.
     
  • That's it for today. Gods of spinal-column-health willing, I'll talk to you again before the week is out, kids... and if not? Well, I'll at least make sure all the gOOdness from other folks like Matt and Adam gets posted in my stead.
     
    Later on, folks. 


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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