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Sabu Fired, Others Released by WWE... plus
Judgment Day Preview, TNA Goodies, MORE! 
May 18, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


In today's Pointless PreRamble, let me state that I'm very glad that many of you were so concerned, but that it is damned bizarre to get more e-mail in one day about a CBS TV show than about wrestling.

In this case, I'm talking about Wednesday, when I got a couple dozen mails about the cancellation of "Jericho" (which, as you'll recall, is the show I told you all to watch last fall because my brother was one of the writers). I wish I could say the cancellation came as a surprise to me, but... well, it didn't. Hollywood Brother

and His Longtime Writing Companion had been keeping their eyes out for other work since before Easter. So the cancellation wasn't a surprise. Some of the vehemence and indignation from you folks, was, though.

And not just from "you folks," either. I guess of all the cancellations on all the networks, this is the only one that's really turned into a pain in the ass for said network. I've heard tell that CBS' website suffered minor crashes on Wednesday as a result of the influx of angry e-mails, and that there might even be a wee bit of second guessing going on. I also know that the form of Civil Disobedience that is Personally Endorsed by Hollywood Steve Scaia is a campaign in which bags of nuts are mailed to the CBS offices. [If you liked the show and saw the finale, you know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, well, trust me, this is funnier than anything Cena ever did with the same prop.]

Now, it's unlikely any of this will get the show "saved," but it might make you feel better. As far as I'm concerned the show became Not Worth Saving when the network suits got their wish, and Major Dad was killed off. They'd only been trying to get the writers to do that since last summer. Idiots.

Anyway, hopefully we may return to people mostly e-mailing me about wrestling. Or, alternately, about what a Wrestling Genius I am, as clearly indicated by my columns. Or, if necessary, what a total ignorant asshole I am. ME ME ME ME ME ME ME!

Here's today's news:

  • And then there were three. And soon, there'll probably only be two....
    WWE released (read: "fired") Sabu on Tuesday, further thinning the herd of former "ECW Originals." In this case, however, you'd be hard-pressed to say that Sabu didn't deserve it. Hell, you'd be hard-pressed to say he wasn't outright asking for it.
    Unmotivated and generally annoyed with WWE for months, Sabu hasn't exactly been a model employee. He showed up in Baltimore for TV tapings on Tuesday several hours late, and missing his ring gear. He was told not to bother sticking around, and that he'd be granted his release.
    A 90-day no-compete clause is in effect, so set the TNA Comeback Countdown Clock at somewhere near the middle of August. Coincidentally enough, August is when most believe Rob Van Dam's contractual obligations to WWE expire, as well, and all signs point to him being finished with the company.
    Some will point to Sabu and Van Dam's traffic ticket/drug arrest last July 4 as the "death blow" to ECW, as they had both been pushed as top stars by WWE/ECW till then. But realistically, the new ECW was dead on arrival, a stillborn birth, after Vince McMahon tinkered with the concept and presentation before the brand hit the airwaves in June. But even if ECW itself was pretty much DOA, the WWE/ECW careers of RVD and Sabu seemed to be headed in the right direction until that fateful run-in with the law. RVD had been pushed as a main event star, and Sabu was positively rejuvenated after years of three-quarters-assed efforts in TNA.
    That largely changed towards the end of last summer, as Sabu's waning credibility was sacrificed in the name of making The Big Show look like a worthy ECW Champion (and as we know, Big Show took that credibility into semi-retirement less than 6 months later). And Van Dam was never trusted again to hold a top title or be the focal point of a brand.
    Sabu's dubious behavior dates back to last winter, and Tuesday's incident was basically the straw that broke the camel's back. RVD had been trying to work out a contract extension with WWE going back nearly as long, but has reportedly failed. At first, because Noted Fuckwit Johnny Ace was offended that Van Dam had dared to call him a fuckwit in public, and decided that he didn't want to rehire somebody who could see him for what he is. Which is funny, since pretty much everybody in the company does, it's just most of them don't say it to his face. And then, once other, less-fuckwitted people entered the negotiations on behalf of WWE, it became apparent that Van Dam was not interested in a pay cut, but he WAS interested in more days off to preserve his body. And ne'er that twain shall meet.
    So RVD's last appearance in WWE will be at some point between now and August, with the current thinking that it'll come sooner, rather than later, as WWE -- in a "show of good faith" -- will let RVD go home earlier to rest various aches and pains. The hope is that this might result in Van Dam being amenable to working out some kind of future arrangement with WWE as a special attraction or legend, rather than having him just go directly to TNA. Supposedly, this isn't as naive a belief on WWE's part as you might think: RVD's got plenty of money saved up, so he won't NEED to work for TNA, and TNA's seriously ramping up house shows and by the end of summer will be a 10-12 show per month commitment (a far cry from the 3 show per month job it once was), which might not jibe with RVD's desire to work a limited schedule.
    Writing off both Sabu (immediately) and RVD (eventually) leaves only Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman as the faces of ECW. If I were Sandman, I'd be socking away the last few paydays till June, cuz without an "Originals" posse, his usefulness to WWE is probably limited. Dreamer, at least, can go back to his front office job, and maybe help get the current developmental mess sorted out.
    And in the meantime, WWE gives all right-minded fans permission to keep not-watching ECW. It's got nothing to do, really, with this being the end of the "old ECW" (since that happened back in 2001; actually probably more like in 1999). I was outspoken about that last summer, when WWE relaunched the brand, and some had silly expectations of it. I didn't want a full-time nostalgia promotion that tried to be the old ECW. But I did want something compelling and different. Thanks to Vince, the "new ECW" has failed to be different or unique at every turn, a mind-numbingly stupid promotional move in and of itself. And with the loss of two of its few bankable stars, the brand continues to plummet in terms of being compelling or relevant. 
    Let's just say that if "Vince McMahon as Champion" is the answer, I have no fricking desire to know what the question was. It'd just make me die inside.
  • Also released by WWE within the past week: Rob Conway, Vito, and 2 Cold Scorpio.
    In Scorpio's case, he was hired about 9 months ago, with the idea being that he'd (a) work in ECW and (b) be a solid vet who'd help bring along some of the younger talents by working with them night-in and night-out on the road. But then, ECW house shows were shelved last October, and there was really no spot for Scorp if there wasn't a full, touring ECW roster outside of the handful of guys who get shoe-horned onto SD! house shows. It's probably just as well: the few appearances he did make, he did so as "Flash Funk" which was just a silly-ass gimmick even by mid-90s WWF standards, which makes me wonder why anybody was insistent on him reprising it.
    Conway and Vito have both been off TV for a bit, after experiencing various levels of success. 
    Conway was successful in the tag ranks as a member of La Resistance, and despite the sheer lameness of his post-La-Resistance makeover, was always a bankable in-ring performer. Not flashy or spectacular, but solid. Going back to OVW, though, he's never found his "voice" or a real hook to make people (well, people in a mainstream audience) care about him. Whether a failure of creative, or just a lack of an "it" factor, Conway never clicked. If he can somehow get out from under the perception that he's a semi-retarded, dumb-jock,  Buff-Bagwell-esque narcissist, then his Val-Venis-esque ring skills should serve him well as he looks for his next job.
    Vito, despite having had something resembling success with his transvestite gimmick (why? I don't know), had been taken off TV and repackaged in the developmentals with a new MMA gimmick. Again, you may ask "Why?", and I must answer "I dunno." I just know "Because it worked so well for Kama, the Ultimate Voodoo Machine" isn't the answer. WWE had even gone to the trouble of getting Vito into "Playgirl" magazine, so that the homosexual male readership of said magazine could enjoy his cross-dressing stylings.... and then, BAM, they pull the plug on the gimmick, try to repackage the guy as something he's not (not that he was a cross-dresser, either, but you know what I mean), and when it never really falls into place, they tell him to hit the bricks. Oh well.
    Can't say as that any of these three departures will make much of a mark on the end product, or upon fans. Chalk them up to a bit of WWE's standard Spring Cleaning. My guess might be that now that Johnny Ace has been "demoted" to where he can't do any damage without asking permission first, we might be seeing a few more moves to reshape the available roster in the near future, too. I'll reserve judgment on whether Stephanie's new "talent relations" department is doing any better than Ace's once we see a few more of those moves.
    I will, however, say that I'd rather see these moves counter balanced by trimming some of the dead-end younger developmental wrestlers, and NOT by cutting out more relatively reliable vets who might be spinning their wheels. The day that William Regal or Stevie Richards gets released is the day we know that Steph's talent relations goal is to churn out more Chris F. Mastersses, and nothing more.
  • At last Sunday's TNA Sacrifice PPV in Orlando, the Christian vs. Kurt Angle vs. Sting main event ended in a convoluted finish (Sting pinned Christian, but Angle made Sting tap) that was eventually rendered null and void on last night's Impact.
    Kurt Angle had THOUGHT he was the new champ, but not so: now the title will be up for grabs in next month's Slammiversary main event, a 5-man "King of the Mountain" match.
    Now, as the wise man once said, What's causing all this? Well, it's mostly just TNA's back-handed attempt at continuity, since last Sunday night, the NWA made a big fat hairy deal of "stripping" Kurt Angle of the title and severing its ties with TNA. Granted, this Major Announcement was probably seen by fewer people than most MySpace blogs, since the NWA is essentially the coccyx of the wrestling industry at this point. That's "vestigial tail" to the dimmer-witted among you. Then again, how many of the dimmer-witted know what a "vestigial tail" is, anyway? Damn me, and my 47th Grade Writing Level! Anyway, point is that the NWA made the announcement, and intend to tour middle school cafeterias the world over in order to crown their new champion in the coming months. Good for them. Why not just give the thing to Bryan Danielson like you want to, NWA, so we can all just get on with the business of not giving a shit immediately?
    By having Jim Cornette void the results of the match, TNA essentially strips Angle, too, and starts from scratch with an all new "TNA Title." And as far as 95% of fans are concerned, all this really amounts to is TNA introducing a new physical title belt (which was on display at TV tapings on Monday, and looks significantly less-lame than the NWA belt). But to those who know/care about the backstage stuff, they threw you a bone to chew on, too.
    No such bone with regards to the tag titles, though: the Dudleys were also "stripped" by the almighty NWA, but simply segued into being referred to as the TNA Tag Champs (also with new physical belts; there is also a new X Title belt) at the next night's tapings. As a side note, a short-term deal to bring in Rick Steiner is going to result in a Dudleys vs. Steiners feud, which may well be kind of stinky in terms of pure action, but should be fun, and is DEFINITELY the biggest show down of heavily decorated tag team champs that you'll ever see. Well, unless Harlem Heat reforms. Or somebody re-animates Hawk.
    Also of note: for now, Jeff Jarrett continues to work a little underneath thing with Eric Young, mostly because his mind is still at home, where he is dealing with a serious personal matter. He's been arriving late and leaving early from shows (with the full permission and understanding of all parties involved), and was not even present at Monday's TV tapings. I think you'll get an idea of how TNA intends to handle Jarrett's situation at the next set of tapings, when they'll have to decide whether to give him one of the remaining spots in the "King of the Mountain" match (which is, afterall, the match he invented).
    The only other noteworthy happening from TNA's latest PPV and tapings is that the Basham Brothers finally debuted. I guess there had been some resistance to their signings, but some campaigning from Gail Kim (who is currently the nighttime bed-mate of the significantly luckier of the two Bashams) got the deal done. Actually, they aren't "The Bashams," I guess, since only one of them is really a Basham (Doug); Danny is a Somethingelse (actually, unlike Bob, Crash, and Molly, his real name might be "Hollie," if I'm remembering correctly), and has reverted to his old indie/OVW identity as "Damaja." But let's see if I bother acknowledging that. We're coming up on 2 years of still calling Team 3-D "the Dudleys," so we know that OO suffers from severe identity inertia.
    Also, I like to call people by the names that most readers will actually recognize and give a shit about.
    Thus ends your weekly TNA Round-up. I'd probably be able to muster up more detail, but dammit, TNA just doesn't have enough Nash to make it worth my while....
  • The only ratings news this week is that there really is no ratings news.
    RAW stayed steady with its third-straight 3.6 rating. That continues the trend (since mid-March) of being more than half-a-point below the average for the first 10 weeks of the year. And why not? Even with an Edge vs. Shawn Michaels main event, it was a show that was almost a chore to watch at times. Just flaccid and unsatisfying. Partly because of the soul-crushing stupidity of pushing The [redacted] Khali into a PPV main event, but it's mostly just a brand-wide malaise that's now 2 months old.
    And I say that as a guy who was really getting into the way RAW was rolling back in January and February. It's not like I'm being crabby for the sake of being crabby; we have evidence from this very calendar year that RAW doesn't have to suck. And yet: outside of one gloriously refreshing hour from Britain last month, it kinda has been for a while now.
    ECW this week did a 1.5. Which is down a tenth from the week before. But honestly: when you're crap to begin with, does an 8% variance in the level of your stinkiness really matter that much?
    You already know that last week's TNA did a 1.0. No number for last night's show is available yet.
    And I'll also pass along that the 2.6 rating for last week's SmackDown! that we talked about in my last column held up once final numbers were tabulated. Like RAW's ratings, that's about on par with recent numbers, but still way down since February. And to underscore a point I made last time: last Friday's number is actually a Tale of Two Hours. The first did a 2.2, the second did a 3.0. That's a wider-than-usual gap, and it tells us two things: (1) people DID seemingly tune in late to check out the "spoiled" World Title Change, but (2) the first hour of the show had an almost ECW-sized audience which is not good.
  • By the way, Edge is already well en route to earning another "Wrestler of the Year" prize, even if only for his sheer ubiquitousness. The dude wrestled THREE matches last Monday, in two different cities. Damn.
    First, he opened the SD! house show card in [iforgetwherealready] before hopping the Edgeward Express to Hampton, VA, for RAW, where he showed up in time to set up (and compete in) his match against Michaels that aired on TV. And then he also worked the post-show dark match. That's dedication.
  • For all his deluded nutjobbery of the past year, one think Kurt Angle is apparently being honest about is his desire to try his hand at shootfighting. Or Mixed Martial Arts. Or whatever. I just call the whole genre "UFC," which is why Dave Meltzer is Dave Meltzer, and I -- thankfully -- am not. Seriously: the guy misses the point enough about wrestling as it is, so what gives with spending 10,000 words per week missing the point about boxing and UFC despite still calling it the WRESTLING Observer? At least when I ramble off-topic, it's a window into my naturally magnetic personality that makes you love my analysis all the more. When Meltzer does it, its the equivalent of if I decided to spend two-thirds of my column on poorly-written coverage of the National League Central.
    I digress: in this specific case, Kurt Angle has now officially and FOR REAL (not just "for pretend, because it'll sound good in a press release") in talks with UFC. And this time, when I say "UFC," I actually do mean the actual UFC. Angle had talks with Dana White last week, and though White remains outwardly cool to the idea (probably just to save face with MMA fans who don't want a Fake Wrestler trodding on their hallowed octagon), he admitted as such in a few interviews.
    Don't know what has (or will) come of the talks, but I know Spike TV likes the idea, and has been pushing for something that could create some TNA/UFC synergy, since those are the network's two top "brands" at this point.
  • Got a tidbit about Bob Holly, and for all the doom-saying going back to February, it seems his arm surgery was a success, and he will be able to return to the ring. Which is certainly good for Bob and I'm happy for him. But I must also be me, and quip that it'll be September when the comeback happens, so we should all enjoy it while we can.
    No such clear-cut time-table for Rey Mysterio, who did that angle with Umaga a while back to extend his post-knee-surgery hiatus. What had originally been thought of as a 4 month recovery has now stretched out to 7 and counting, with only the least-confident of predictions getting Rey back in a ring by July. SD! could certainly use the guy (how's an Edge vs. Rey World Title feud sound to you? cuz it sounds sweet to me), so here's hoping things are going to turn out OK, and turn out that way in a speedy fashion.
    And since we're on the subject: Triple H is right on his expected pace, and should be back in the ring at 100% by SummerSlam. This does not, however, necessarily mean he won't be on TV till August, if his non-wrestling presence is deemed necessary. Turning heel on Shawn Michaels and "re-lackey-izing" Randall Orton (whose lone value seems to be as a mostly-mute second fiddle) as part of a new Evolution, anyone?
  • Speaking of August, NBC has just announced that they'll be fully discharging their annual obligations to WWE by running a second Saturday Night's Main Event on August 18 (also in the late night 11:30 SNL time slot).
    Despite the fact that Hollywood (well, TV Hollywood, anyway) may essentially shut down this fall because of a writers' guild strike -- which would leave TV networks with only a few episodes of their scripted comedies and dramas, and a need to pack the schedule with reruns, reality shows, and game shows -- NBC isn't saving back the second SNME for possible "bail-out" duty in the fall. Which says a lot about just how little faith NBC has in WWE's ratings appeal. Howie Mandel, on the other hand, will probably be on the network five nights a week if the writers go on strike. Oy.
    And if you've not been paying attention, the first SNME of the year is coming on June 2. 
  • Setting a new standard of failure for WWE Films, "The Condemned" was dropped by over 75% of the theaters that were screening it and only made $300,000 last weekend. It'll be in even fewer theaters this weekend (I've checked, and it's playing NOWHERE in the entirety of southwest Ohio, and may be taking a one-week break before showing up in the $2 theaters), and will be lucky to putter its way to an overall gross of $8 million.
    It's pretty much a mortal lock that there is no realistic number of DVD sales that will put "The Condemned" anywhere near being in the black. Kane's "See No Evil" wound up with a very modest profit (mostly due to it being even more modestly budgeted), and Cena's "The Marine" might end up there on the strength of DVD sales once all is said and done.
    What's interesting is that after putting all three of these projects into production, WWE Films hasn't really done anything tangible in the past 12 months since production on "The Condemned." Given the limited success of the division, I wonder if it's appropriate to speculate that over the past year, WWE has been hedging its bets and holding off on additional projects for a reason? A lot of the division's finances were based on partnerships with established film companies... and if that influx of investment capital is gone, WWE might be wise enough to not be sinking $25 million of its own money into projects that are netting returns of $8 million.
    We shall see....
  • And in the name of getting this thing wrapped up by 11am on Friday morning so that I may commence with intense levels of slacking off and baseball fandom (OMG, the Battle of Ohio~!) for the weekend, I think the last thing I'm obligated to mention is that WWE has a PPV this weekend. 
    You are, however, not required to give a shit, since one of the main events features Khali, and the other will have all of two days worth of backstory (and that's only AFTER tonight's SmackDown!, which features a completely uninspired bit of deus ex machina). All that, plus Vince McMahon wrestling for a major title for the second month in a row! Actually, he's DEFENDING it this time!
    Ugh. We're two whole shows into the "Joint Brand PPV Era," and already, I can see this one brushing up against the PPV Mendoza Line (200,000 buys). Well played, WWE, well played.
    The line-up:
    John Cena vs. The [redacted] Khali (WWE Title Match)
    Edge vs. Batista (World Title Match)
    Vince McMahon/Shane McMahon/Umaga vs. Bobby Lashley (Handicap Match for the ECW Title That Nobody Will Give A Shit About Unless Mick Foley Shows Up To Jumpstart That Storyline I Talked About 2-3 Weeks Ago)
    Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton (Special Attraction Match To See Which Is The More Powerful Religion, Christianity Or Douchebaggery)
    Chris Benoit vs. Montreal Voluptuous Porter, or NAMBLA For Short (2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the US Title, Designed To Provide An Adequate Piss Break For All Fans Possessing Bladders The Size Of A Small Office Building)
    Ric Flair vs. Carlito (Very Special Been-There, Done-That Redux Grudge Match)
    CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke (Very Extra Special "Who The Fuck Are Those Guys?" Match)
    That one's a real winner. Yep. Which is why I'll be spending Sunday Night watching FOX cartoons. And so should you. The "24" flavored episode of "The Simpsons" (with Keifer and Chloe as guest voices) sounds like a winner to me. Probably even moreso than the actual season finale of "24" the next night, but that's another story.
    But enough of that. You've been told there's a WWE PPV on Sunday. You've been told what matches are scheduled. Despite an almost complete lack of sizzle, some of them might even be pretty well-worked, so you decide what you want to do about it. 
    And regardless, OO will be here either late Sunday night or on Monday with results and pertinent coverage of the show.
    Till then: take it easy, kids. See you on the flip-flop...

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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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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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