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Hogan Foiled by WWE (Kind of), Ratings,
TNA News, and Foley's STILL Good 
April 13, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know what I'm digging these last few weeks? The start of "American Gladiators" reruns on ESPN Classic, specifically, the one at 1am every night that makes it that much harder for me to want to go to bed following Ferguson's monologue...

Man alive did I ever used to love that show when I was a kid. One of the first things I did when I picked up a trumpet and started down the lonely path that ended in four years of being a High School Band Dork was to figure out how to play the "American Gladiators" fanfare. And if you're looking for a reason why I stand before you today as such a remarkably versatile

Connoisseur of Fine Women -- able to shift effortlessly between appreciating the petite size-3-ness of a Lilian Garcia before openly lusting after the compact squeezability of a Mickie James -- you can probably blame that on "American Gladiators," too. Nothing quite like a weekly dose of Sunny and Gold (and to a slightly lesser extent, Zap, who may have been slightly mannish, but also had a great rack, which she combined with nearly falling out of her top on about a bi-weekly basis, back at a time when such things absolutely enthralled me) to learn an impressionable young man that hot can come in many different shapes and sizes.....

I'm also struck by the notion that in a world overrun by utterly unwatchable contest and game shows, somebody really needs to stage a Prime Time Comeback for "American Gladiators" here in the Year of Our Lord 2007. If people will tune in for tripe like "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" and "American Idol," a remake of "American Gladiators" should be a slam-dunk.

And just so the slack-jawed masses can have something to vote on, and feel like they are Making a Difference, I say the prize at the end of the season is that the winning contestant is awarded a position as a Gladiator, and American can "vote off" one of the existing Gladiators to make room for the new one. This crap practically writes itself, dammit... so let's make it happen.

But enough pointless rambling for now.

And so it goes, people. And so it goes: 

  • Over the past few days, there's been a bit of mini-drama down in Memphis, TN, as a planned Hulk Hogan vs. Jerry Lawler match has fallen apart and will not take place.
    "But Rick," I hear you whining, "How come I didn't hear about this match until now?" Well, kids, it's pretty simple: even when it started coming together on Memphis TV about 3-4 weeks ago, I was relatively certain it'd never come to fruition. Something about WWE just blithely letting two of their enshrined Hall of Famers have a match off on their own without the sanction of the company seemed.... well, it seemed off. So why bother wasting your time with the info until the other shoe dropped?
    And sure enough, WWE put the kibosh on the match back on Monday, politely reminding Jerry Lawler that -- while he has a unique contract that allows him to work indie dates and for his beloved Memphis promotion -- he's still not allowed to show up in any match or on any card that will result in his image being included on any nationally-distributed DVD or TV show. [Note: this is a pretty standard deal for anytime WWE lets guys do indie gigs, and lately, TNA is holding their talents to similar sorts of standards.]
    On the grounds that the Lawler/Hogan match was really only taking place because Hulk Hogan wanted some kind of wrestling content for the final season of "Hogan Knows Best" (and knew he wouldn't be getting permission to use any of his WWE/WCW/AWA/etc. footage from WWE, who essentially owns the entirety of Hogan's in-ring past), that meant that -- by extension -- Lawler would be featured on that show, as well. Which is pretty much a no-no now that WWE isn't in a permission-giving mood towards Hogan. 
    When Lawler made the announcement at a press conference yesterday, he tried to take the heat off WWE by saying it was a ruling from "NBC/Universal" that was preventing the match from taking place. Whatever. I don't know the Memphis audience, so maybe the word games were a necessary ploy to make sure the fans didn't hold a grudge against WWE, or something... not that it mattered, since Hogan got on the mic and proceeded to say some pretty nasty things about WWE's decision (most of which bore no relationship to the actual situation, but who has ever accused Hogan of sticking to facts?).
    Then again, Hogan's apparently even more snippy than usual towards WWE these days, because he has decided that Jillian Hall's entire bad-singing-American-Idol-contestant gimmick is actually a rip on his daughter, Brooke. Which is something that hadn't even crossed my mind, but I guess it could be. Doesn't make it any less funny to me, either way. And frankly: if the Hulkster wants to whore his daughter out and (instead of encouraging her to pursue a hobby, like a good parent would) completely finance her alleged "singing" debut so that she flops on the grandest stage possible, he might be getting a little bit of what he deserves on that one.
    But I digress. The upshot of the whole deal is that Lawler and his Memphis Wrestling Pals now have a 20,000 seat arena, but no Lawler/Hogan match for April 27. They have managed to salvage things a bit, as Hogan called in a favor, and the Big Show -- who I gather isn't really burning any significant bridges by taking the booking -- will come in and face Hogan in the main event that night.
    Any other city in the country, and I'd bet that a Hogan/Show match -- which at one time had been ear-marked as an anchor for the WrestleMania 23 line-up -- would go over great... but this is Memphis, and you gotta keep in mind that Lawler was going to be at least as big a drawing card as Hogan, here. And now he's left without a dance partner, as Hogan and Show take over the top spot, and make sure Hogan gets his precious VH-1 footage.
    You can bet Hogan doesn't really give a crap about how this turned out (no matter whether he uses it as an excuse to kvetch about WWE or not)... he doesn't have so much of an interest in the live gate or anything, he just cared about getting the video footage. And as an added bonus, Hogan can now work the match against Show as a 100% pure babyface, something that wouldn't have happened against Lawler, and something that I'm sure will make Hogan ever so much happier when he shoehorns the footage into his show.
    Anybody in the region who is interest in the April 27 event in Memphis (which is probably going to be the biggest indie show on this continent in years, going back to the heyday of the Pillman Memorial) can pick up tickets through TicketBastard.... err, TicketMaster starting tomorrow (Saturday, April 14).
  • Monday's RAW did a 3.9 rating, which is a significant drop back down from the post-WM23 number the previous week. That can't be a good sign. That also means that over the past month (even with the big number after WM), RAW has averaged a 3.9 rating. 
    Previous to that, RAW had averaged a 4.1 rating for the first 10 weeks for the year... but for the weeks leading into WM23, and then focusing on the fall-out from the ostensible biggest show of the year, WWE sees numbers drop off by a significant margin. There's gotta be some kind of a lesson in there. But I'll refrain from bludgeoning you over the head with what I think it is... my new motto is "Give the readers the numbers, and let them figure it out for themselves." 
    Actually, on Monday, it wasn't too hateful of a show at all. Unlike the week before (which thudded to a logic-defying anticlimax), this one at least had some sense of momentum thanks to the idea of a "Hair vs. Title" match between Shane and Lashley. Granted, I wasn't so pleased when they pulled the cop-out finish to set up a Backlash match, but if the name of the game was Keeping Me Riveted To The TV, the way Monday's show was mapped out accomplished that goal successfully.
    Lots of people have also written in asking if I thought there was any hidden message being portioned out in the Michaels/Orton match... in which Orton didn't just Sell The Knee, he REALLY Sold The Knee. As opposed to Cena at WM23, who reportedly got Michaels' dander up by forgetting about his "injured" knee as soon as he started his superman comeback. I dunno about that, folks, I just know that, yes, it was noticeable on Monday. To the point of being distracting. In fact, were I the judge, I'd give Young Randall an A-plus for the effort, although a significantly lower grade for the execution: I mean, christ, the guy would run through an entire 30 second segment without really selling the knee, but then the first chance he got after that, BAM~!, he'd crumple to the ground and start acting like he'd suffered simultaneous tears to all ligaments and tendons in the knee. I'd rather see a more realistic steady lukewarm flow of believable gimpiness than the raging hot-and-cold oscillation that Orton did on Monday. But whatever.... I definitely did find the whole "Work the Knee" Episode to be an interesting sidebar, though, as, it seems, did a lot of you.
    And even if Orton Sold the Knee, if Michaels wanted to be pissed about how that match turned out (just like everybody wants him to be about his WM23 match), he'd once again have ample justification: the finish to the match with Orton was mind-numbingly awful. That was easily the lamest "double pin" finish of all time -- complete with some of the worst ring-positioning by the refs that you'll ever see -- which is saying something, since it's already an inherently lame finish.
    Though it was good for some chuckles later on, as Orton started blustering around backstage, shouting about how proud he was of fulfilling his destiny and beating Shawn Michaels, if only that stupid second referee hadn't been there to screw it up. Only Randy Orton could find a way to brag about fulfilling his destiny while being knocked out, flat on his back, and not moving a muscle. Dimwit. And FYI: if anybody at WWE is thinking this is how you start a face turn, then I can't wait for when it turns out every bit as successfully for Orton as it did in 2004. Dimwits.
    Monday's most frustrating development: who in the blue hell told Mickie James she could start wearing pants? Oh, wait, it was probably Vince McMahon, who apparently thinks Mickie's too fat. Then again, he enthusiastically peruses men's bodybuilding magazines, so really, can't we all just agree that his expertise and credibility on this issue approach zero? Ah well... like all good Internet Wankers, I enjoy Mickie's matches for being crisper and better worked than those of the vast majority of WWE's remaining "divas." But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't gonna miss all that sweet, sweet thigh and rump action afforded by Mickie's choice of miniskirts.
    Somehow, I think I've managed to lose sight of the fact that my point *was* that this was a better overall RAW than the week before. Obviously, with my stated gripes, it also wasn't a masterpiece, but I thought it was solid, and did, if nothing else, remember to have an ending.
  • Other ratings info: you should amend the rating for last week's SD! to a 2.7 (once final data was compiled), which is a very nominal 0.1 dip from the week before, and means that SD! has also settled into its year-to-date lowest ratings here in the past month (after scoring some pretty strong numbers back in February). The February average for SD! was a 3.1; the March (plus first week of April) average stands at 2.7.
    Again, the drop in ratings as WWE hit the WrestleMania corridor (outside of one big rating for RAW) rears its head and should give one ample food for thought.
    ECW on Tuesday did another 1.7 rating, which is the same as the week before. That's no great shakes, but ECW can lay claim to being the only WWE brand that is actually scoring nominally stronger ratings right now than during the winter. The past 6 weeks, ECW has averaged a 1.7, which beats the 1.5 average the show had during the first two months of 2007.
  • Steve Austin has started making the promotional rounds for the impending release of his movie, "The Condemned." In all the interviews I've heard about, Austin really downplays all things wrestling, to the point that a couple readers who have caught his interviews were a bit concerned that Austin was already planning his "Rock-style" evaporation from WWE.
    I don't think that level of concern is necessarily warranted... I mean, for Austin to disappear from WWE for good, like the Rock, would essentially require him to have the same level of Hollywood success as The Rock. And while "The Condemned" might be the best WWE Films effort to date, it's not gonna turn Austin into a bankable Hollywood star.
    Rest assured that Austin's still got plenty of sporadic cameos in him. In fact, I read on JR's blog a while back that the only reason Austin wasn't used on the post-WM RAW was because the writers were already thinking ahead and wanting to save up the "specialness" of Austin's guest spots by not over-exposing him now.
  • It now appears that the other Mystery Network that is in the mix as TNA negotiates its TV Future is not really a network at all.... it's the loose affiliation of TV stations that lost out in the CW Merger last fall; it's known as "MyTV," and its market penetration is certainly lacking. I know I don't have a "MyTV" affiliate, at least.
    TNA's negotiations with MyTV are not necessarily being done in search of an alternative to SpikeTV (although the talks will help TNA gain some idea of their value on the open market), but are rather being done in parallel with the Spike negotiations. Should TNA not get a second hour from Spike this fall, they would consider adding the second hour by opening an additional relationship with MyTV. Sounds like a pretty good plan of attack.
  • As you should know by now, Jeff Jarrett made his return to TNA TV last night on Impact. He joined the babyfaces on Team Angle, finalizing the line-up for the Team Angle vs. Team Christian Wargames-style cage match for Sunday's PPV.
    I doubt you'll find very many of TNA's Wanker fans who missed Jarrett, but that's what makes them Wankers. My concerns are more focused on the fact that I'm pretty certain that Jarrett has not had a babyface run that could be counted as a Measurable Success since his USWA days. So I'm not sure I'm too keen on TNA trying to pull off that trick, now.
    Then again, I dunno... part of the reason Jarrett's been off TV has been because it's allowed him to focus more of his energies on dealing with a Personal Matter, and I guess if Jeff decides to openly address those private matters on TV, it'd take a pretty big dick to boo the guy. So who knows what the plan is, here....
  • Lastly, Bulldog's Foley-centric column this week reminds me that I've just finished up Mick's latest, "Hardcore Diaries."
    Bulldog's assessment of the book was one of the more positive that I'd seen, and even then, he still referred to it as the least of Foley's three autobiographical works. In an effort to turn some of that lukewarm tide, allow me to ladle significantly stronger praise on the book.
    It's easily a must-read book for Foley fans, and should also be for any wrestling fan with an interest in the creative process. If there really is one way in which this latest book is lacking versus Mick's previous two non-novels, it's that it might not be as accessible or as interesting to non-fans. Since this is a very in-depth expose on exactly how a 2-month-long wrestling storyline was birthed, nurtured, and presented to TV viewers, you really do kind of need some basis in wrestling fandom to get the full pay-off of Mick's unprecedented inside look at the process.
    But considering that "non-fan" doesn't apply to any of us here, I don't think that criticism holds much water or should stop anybody from running -- not walking -- to their local book repository and procuring a copy of "Hardcore Diaries."
    If you have heard other criticisms of the book, dismiss them. I mean, some of the ones I read don't even make sense. Such as a couple of "reviews" which opined that, unlike Mick's first two books, this one was "all about him." Ummm, dum dums, are you even cognizant of what the "autobiography" concept entails? Of *course* it's "all about him."
    But maybe that dovetails into a slightly different criticism, which is that Foley came off as more self-important and self-aggrandizing in this book than in his previous happy-go-lucky anecdote-telling. I'd counter that pointing out that it's the nature of the beast, since the entire book is predicated on following an idea that Foley had thought to completion, and it goes without saying that Foley wouldn't have pushed for the idea to begin with if he didn't think it was a good idea. [Note: and it certainly was a good idea.] As the book goes on, and Mick begins adopting a stronger and stronger "attitude" about the supremacy of his creative vision versus that of the WWE creative team, I found Mick to be in the right, and any "attitude" or self-importance was entirely justified.
    If not outright vindicating.
    I mean, think about it people: a guy of undisputed intelligence and natural charisma, a guy who is a repository of good ideas, a guy who marvels at WWE's ass-hatted creative process and how it makes it nearly impossible for good ideas to make it to TV, a guy who isn't afraid to voice his frustration over this issue in an eloquent and eminently-readable manner, and a guy who ultimately takes it upon himself to take whatever turd WWE serves up and polish it as best he can?
    [ferguson] Remind you of anyone? [/ferguson]
    Seriously: I can't do anything but freaking LOVE this book, and love the tone, and love the attitude. In reading the book (which Mick actually did write "in real time," diary-entry-style, last summer), I was frequently stunned by how the things that bothered Mick and that he felt the need to write about in his diary on May 9 almost always coincided with the things I felt a need to rant about in an OO recap/column on May 9. I'm serious: it's spOOky, and you can go back and check the OO archives and the RAW Recap archives and see for yourself, if you want. If "Hardcore Diaries" isn't the best example I have in this world of "great minds thinking alike," I don't know what is.
    But look at who's being all self-important and self-aggrandizing, now.... 
    Point is: Mick spends the book developing a neat idea before our eyes, and then having it co-opted and ruined by a combination of Vince McMahon's whimsy, backstage politicking, and general writer monkey incompetence. He's well within his rights to get pissy and pompous as he tells the tale of his Grand Idea and how it got fucked with by people who lack his creativity and vision. And at the end, the capper is that -- in true OO fashion -- Mick does end up being proud of "polishing the turd" to the point that One Night Stand and his match on the show can both be labeled as successes. No thanks to WWE.
    Like I said: I can't NOT love this book, the story it tells, and the different side of Mick Foley that shines through in the narrative. I relate to it too much not to.
    Well, except for the part where Mick is actually a super-nice guy who cares about people's feelings and stuff, so that even when he's doing things like subtly pointing out that Candice Michelle has replaced Stacy Keibler as WWE's resident dimwitted sweetheart, he does it in a NICE way, and makes sure to point out that whatever Candice lacks in the Stimulating Conversation Department, she makes up for by being a Purveyor of Fine Hugs. 
    Then again: Mick gets to enjoy said hugs, so better to play nice than to be an asshole like me who figures he can just keep lobbing mean-spirited barbs out there, and will never be held accountable for any of them.
    I digress... I'll just wrap up my own review of "Hardcore Diaries" by telling you to ignore all other reviews. It's an excellent, must-read book, and furthermore, if you've stuck with me all these years and enjoy the OO, you have my personal guarantee that you'll love Mick's story of genius, frustration, and self-aggrandizement. 
  • I think that's about all I got for today, folks. Enjoy the weekend, and I'll see you again on Monday or Tuesday. The Carlito-centric "Insubordination is Cool" column should be ready for your consideration by then. Later on.... 

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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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