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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Edge Injured, Vacates Title (Including SD!
Spoiler)... plus Benoit; Kronus Dead; More 
July 19, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

You know, I don't really think of writing these columns as a "job." But the way things have been going lately, they sure have become a "chore."
 

It'd sure as hell be nice to have something fun and happy to write about for once. Maybe some good news, maybe some unabashedly positive gushing about a rare wrestling show that remembers to be all entertaining and kick-ass.

Alas, that won't be happening here today. Nope. Today, the cosmos has

decided to serve up a serious wrestling injury to one of my favorite stars, a TV tapings spoiler that makes me pity those who watch SmackDown tomorrow night, and of course, just to add in that extra kick-to-the-balls, we've got another wrestling death, too!

So let's get to it, shall we:

  • I'll cover this story in two phases: this first bullet point will discuss the "news-y" aspect of the serious injury suffered by (former) World Champion, Edge. The second bullet point will provide spoilers regarding exactly how SD! addressed the title situation at TV tapings.
     
    That way, if you're really anal about spoilers, you can get the information, and then skip the second bullet point and still be surprised at what happens on Friday night. But trust me: it's not worth it. You should just read the spoilers and find something else to do with your time on Friday.
     
    The deal is this: Edge has suffered a torn pectoral muscle, and could miss as much as 4-5 months of action. As a result, he vacated the World Heavyweight Championship at TV tapings on Tuesday night.
     
    Edge's injury happened last week in New Orleans, I gather, during a brawl with Kane. Edge -- fully aware of his importance to the brand -- tried to downplay the injury throughout last weekend in hopes of continuing his reign and working through the pain. However, further examinations and discussions on Monday led to the decision to bench Edge immediately and go with an emergency back-up plan, instead.
     
    When this word got out, there was no shortage of good ideas and alternatives (perfectly sane, feasible ones, even) thrown around by fans. It seemed, at least, that SmackDown! had options for replacing Edge. Combined with the fact that WWE and the "wrestling lifestyle" are still under scrutiny in the wake of the Benoit tragedy, and there's no way they could reasonably allow Edge to continue putting his body at unnecessary risk or through unnecessary pain. This was, in short, the right decision.
     
    That doesn't make it any less frustrating to all involved, however. SD!"s roster had already been depleted enough by injuries, and then again by the one-sided Draft Lottery. Edge was slated to be the foundation upon which the creative team tried to rebuild the entire brand, and was likely to reign as a dominant champ and signature star till at least winter, when a returning Undertaker would finally provide him with some stiff competition heading into WrestleMania.
     
    Now, Edge is probably going to join Taker in not returning to action much before the New Year, and it'll take some fancy footwork if they're both to be re-installed into the title picture before WM. We'll have to see how that goes...
     
    Meantime, there is one small glimmer of hope: as of Tuesday, Edge was holding out hope that another exam might indicate he could treat his injury with aggressive rehabilitation, instead of surgery. That would slash his recovery time down to something more like 2 months. [This is sort of what happened with Ken Kennedy's recent arm injury, which has him already back in action after an original prognosis that he'd be out till mid-autumn.]
     
    So I guess you can cross your fingers. Though, in all honesty, it probably doesn't matter. I'm sure in the ensuing two days since this news circulated all follow-up exams have been done, and Edge already knows, one way or the other, what he's looking at, recovery-wise. And we'll hear about it soon enough.
     
    Many have latched onto the idea of SD!'s "big gold belt" being cursed. This is the third time in less than 18 months that a reigning champion suffered a serious injury while holding the belt. In January 2006, Batista had to vacate the title due to injury. This past May, Undertaker toughed it out for one last match in order to drop the strap to Edge before a lengthy injury vacation. And now, Edge. [Booker T and Rey Mysterio also had surgeries shortly after losing the belt, but in both cases, their injuries were less severe, and known to WWE even when they put the title on them.]
     
    Even more so than the belt being cursed, it seems like Edge himself might be cursed. Despite having a break-out year in 2005, and being the single most outstanding performer (and OO Wrestler Of The Year) in 2006, his world title reigns have been nearly Foley-esque in terms of being both numerous and transient. Edge's first reign was 3 weeks long. His second was 11 weeks. Now, after vacating the title on Tuesday, his third will go down as 10 weeks long. That sucks.
     
    And of course, it sucks mostly for Edge. But selfishly, as a fan, I admit it feels like it sucks for me, too. With the one-sided draft (SD! lost Booker, Kennedy, Kendrick/London, Regal, and let us not forget Benoit), Edge really was the last really good reason to watch Smackdown!... now, until he, Taker, and Rey all make their returns, it's gonna be slim pickings on Friday nights.
     
    But perhaps this is where we have to suspend our non-spoiler discussion, and move on to talking about precisely what WWE wound up deciding up as their Emergency Back-Up Plan...
     
  • OK, last chance. If you don't want to be spoiled, you have to skip down to the next bullet point.
     
    Otherwise, keep reading.
     
    Still here?
     
    OK: so on Tuesday night, Edge vacated the title, and then SD! held a 20-man Battle Royale to crown a new champion. The battle royale was won by... the [redacted] Khali.
     
    Just let that sink in for a while. Really ponder it. Contemplate the fact that even back during the early 90s when WCW was desperate to compete with the WWF, they never once thought about putting El Gigante in main events, much less giving him a title, despite the fact that he was 7'7". Gigante flopped in WCW, and then (as Giant Gonzalez) flopped again in the WWF, and was not seen nor heard from again much past 1994. 
     
    Khali is precisely as talented/entertaining as Gigante. And he's now your World Heavyweight Champion. I believe that when you're resorting to booking decisions so stupid that not even early 90s WCW would have made them, "Writer Monkey" may almost be too generous of a label for you, evolutionarily speaking.
     
    Of course, there's a very good chance that Khali may not make it past Sunday with the belt. At the Great American Bash, Khali will defend his newly won strap against both his originally scheduled opponent Batista, as well as against Kane (who had been scheduled for the title shot against Edge). Batista and Kane actually had a #1 Contender's match at the tapings on Tuesday, but it ended in a no decision, and thus: both go into the title match.
     
    As monumentally awful as Khali is, you have to consider the likelihood of him just being a transitional champ. Batista is relatively well-proven, and Kane has been such a good soldier for WWE over the years that giving him one chance to run on top (especially with the roster as horribly thin as it is) would be completely viable as a choice, too.
     
    Of course, the other option: Khali stinks it up every week as champ until Rey Mysterio comes back, and WWE does the ultimate David vs. Goliath storyline. The problem with this: WWE did such a terrible job of booking Rey in his first title reign (refusing to let him look strong, ever, against any opponent; getting pinned/beaten in all manner of tag and non-title matches; only winning his rare successful title defenses via flukes) that I have no faith in them actually doing such a storyline the right way, with Rey coming off strong enough that fans stay interested in his reign. Fans almost started to turn against Rey last summer, all because of how weakly he was booked. Fans are happy to cheer an underdog; they are less likely to cheer for an obvious fluke champion. I question rather WWE has the intelligence (and the balls) to book Rey as the former, instead of hemming and hawing their way into the latter.
     
    So I guess that's my way of saying that the SD! title picture is kind of dead to me for the short term. A successful defense by Khali on Sunday is nearly vomit-inducing. And even a win by either Batista or Kane is gonna be an underwhelming development; doubly so when you consider the only heels that SD! would ever push as challengers are Khali and Mark F. Henry.
     
    I go back to my notion (as discussed briefly in Tuesday's NEWSFLASH) that SD! would have been well served to take things more slowly. Keep the title vacant for a month. It's not that big a deal, especially in this new era of joint-brand PPVs, where you could mask SD!'s weaknesses with matches from RAW. Plus: the whole storyline of Teddy Long neglecting his duties because he is (quite appropriately) distracted by Kristal could have been tied into the SD! Administration being caught off guard and needing time to formulate a response to Edge's Surprise Announcement.
     
    Then, you could take your time, set up a tournament. You can bring Rey back and re-establish him properly before hotshotting him directly into a title match. You could create a logical mechanism by which at least one star from another brand comes over and sets up shop on SD! (I like Kennedy, since he's on the verge of breaking out, and he's not really got a major feud going on RAW, so you could bring him back for a quick run). Most importantly, you can develop at least a few backstories and feuds so that most of the guys in the tournament have some motivation and their matches have some sizzle. You know: almost precisely the opposite of how nobody is possibly going to be able to give a shit about a thrown-together, nonsensical Khali vs. Kane vs. Batista match on Sunday.
     
    Imagine a 16 man tourney to play out over the next 5 Friday nights leading to SummerSlam. The first round? Obviously, some one-sided matches, but you use that time to set up the storylines you want. 
     
    Imagine getting Kennedy over from RAW and sort of poking his nose in the US Title business of MVP and Matt Hardy; Kennedy used to be MVP's partner, and used to feud with Matt, but now? he's more of a tweener, and what strange pairings might happen in the quarterfinals of a tourney?). 
     
    Imagine putting Ric Flair and Mick Foley in the tourney field as legends wanting to hold the gold one more time; of course, they would both be feel-good red herrings, but it's another cool little sidebar you could develop and which fans would love. 
     
    Imagine Vickie Guerrero trying to stack the deck to give Chavo an easy draw; until Chavo finds himself face-to-face with Rey Mysterio in a later-round match that could serve as the final blow-off to their still-pending feud. 
     
    Imagine... well, just imagine. I know I've got a zillion cool ideas running through my head, all of them perfectly feasible and infinitely superior to having Khali holding the belt for any length of time. I'm sure you can think of a few more of the same, all adding up to several weeks of interesting Friday night shows, and then the big Tourney Final at SummerSlam to crown the new champ.
     
    I'd have dug that. A lot. 
     
    Of course, if it's a good idea, that means, mathematically, that WWE is incapable of having it. Idiots.
     
  • This is where I welcome back anybody who diligently avoided the spoilers above. Seriously, though: once you watch SD! tomorrow night, come back and read what I wrote. Because -- in patented The Rick form -- I didn't just explain how badly tomorrow night sucks, I delivered a bunch of good ideas for how it could have been easily fixed.
     
    But anyway...
     
    The other big news on Tuesday afternoon was the announcement of toxicology test results in the Benoit case.
     
    The part of the news that could be reasonably labeled as "good" stems from the fact that no anabolic steroids were found in Chris' body, seriously damaging the sensationalistic "roid rage" angle played up by most 24 Hour News Pundits.  However, Benoit was found to have elevated testosterone levels, indicating that he had recently artificially introduced testosterone into his system. It should be noted that this is consistent with claims by Dr. Phil Astin that Benoit had been legally prescribed testosterone to aid his body in achieving hormonal balance (presumably after Benoit threw it out of whack with "past" steroid use). 
     
    Some news outlets inaccurately reported the elevated testosterone levels as "steroids in the body." This is simply untrue, and in as far as these post mortem tests go, WWE and their wellness policy are largely vindicated when it comes to improperly prescribed anabolic steroids. That's not to say that anything's been proven one way or the other. Except for the fact that Benoit didn't have steroids in his body when he died, and he didn't when he passed a (not-quite-random) test on April 10.
     
    The part of the results that get a little more weird/depressing: all three members of the Benoit family had Xanax in their systems. Xanax is an anti-anxiety drug that relaxes you. It's possible that one or both of Chris and Nancy were prescribed this, responsibly. But this is also another drug that is probably over-prescribed as people seek out better life through chemistry rather than just nutting up and putting mind over matter. A household in which both parents are relying on Xanax to get through the day probably doesn't speak to well to the overall mental health of the family, anyway. The level of Xanax found in both Chris and Nancy was within norms, and deemed a "therapeutic" level. In other words "the right amount to be healthy and useful." It doesn't look like either were using the drug for sedative or recreational purposes.
     
    Daniel, on the other hand, had seriously elevated amounts of Xanax in his body. This is noteworthy because (1) children are rarely, if ever, prescribed Xanax, and (2) it points to Daniel being heavily sedated before he was murdered, which likely explains the lack of signs of struggle. Of all the toxicology findings, this is the only one that is really in any way illustrative to helping us understand the crimes.
     
    Other findings included "therapeutic" levels of Vicodin (hydrocondone) and other painkillers in Chris and Nancy's bodies. Obviously, this suggests AGAINST any sort of impaired state at the times of the crimes, and simply sounds like the normal level of medicating the aches and pains of a pro wrestler and of a wife who did have neck surgery last year. [Then again, speaking as a man who's had legal access to Vicodin for the past 8 months, and has willfully limited his use of it despite a refill being just a phone call away, there comes a point where even "therapeutic" reliance on painkillers becomes a pointless act of continuously treating a symptom, while the root cause continues to fester or worsen, so.... so I dunno for sure, but if the Benoits were both taking Vicodins like they were Vitamin C, I guess I'm saying there were probably root causes that were making their everyday lives fairly miserable, and which might only be discovered anecdotally, instead of in a toxicology report. Just because the report says "therapeutic" doesn't mean the presence of the drug couldn't still be problematic in some other, round-a-bout fashion.]
     
    Of course, it really ALL boils down to "I dunno for sure" in this case. The results rule against "roid rage," and other than Daniel being heavily sedated, none of the results give any indication of a reason for any sort of altered mental state, either. We may have enough facts at this point to all know WHAT happened at the Benoit house that weekend... but it's increasingly looking like we'll never know WHY.
     
  • And while we're still dealing with the fall-out from the deaths of the Benoit family, we've got another wrestling death to talk about today.
     
    According to the Wrestling Observer, former ECW tag team champion John Kronus (real name: George Caiazo) was found dead in his New Hampshire apartment on Wednesday. No other details have emerged, yet, but Kronus was only just 40 years old, and it's not normal for a man of that age to keel over.
     
    Coming so soon after the various theories and accusations made following the Benoit tragedy, Kronus' death may be scrutinized substantially more closely than it otherwise would have been. A lot of people out there will see it as an excuse to keep their names/faces in the media and further an agenda if there is even a whiff of past or present drug use playing a role in Kronus' passing.
     
    Cries of unionizing or (even more comical) federal regulation will be heard. And I will laugh at them. Because while wrestling may have its problems, they are no different or more severe than rock 'n' roll or other forms of entertainment. Frankly, until Congress decides to regulate the Being A Worthless Untalented Whore industry (where there seems to be a 100% incidence of crashing cars, being constantly wasted, making sex tapes that prove the only thing you might be good for you are no good at, and acting so batshit insane so as to make Kevin Federline look like a responsible adult), then regulating wrestling shouldn't even be on the table.
     
    And I'll also be a little sad, because lost in all the proselytizing will be the fact that Kronus, as one half of the Eliminators tag team, provided some of the best in-ring action of the mid- and late-90s in ECW. Joey Styles frequently referred to the duo of Kronus and Perry Saturn as the best tag team in the world. And they were good enough to back up that claim against almost any type of opponent, be they skilled grapplers or crazy brawlers. More than anything, the Eliminators stood out as head-and-shoulders above the rest of ECW's tag teams at a time when ECW was STACKED in the tag division. You had the Dudleys, you had RVD/Sabu, you had the Gangstas... and the Eliminators trumped 'em all.
     
    Of course, the irony of this is that Kronus and Saturn never got along outside the ring. They were both a little bit crazy. But Saturn was crazy in a very intense, goal-oriented, getting-shit-done kind of way. And Kronus was crazy in more a goofy, easy-going, not-taking-things-too-seriously sort of way. It led to a lot of arguing and butting-of-heads, and eventually to the Eliminators being a relatively short lived team. Saturn aspired to bigger things, and left ECW for WCW, while Kronus was more than happy to keep doing what he was doing in ECW.
     
    That involved some singles work, and also -- when the Gangstas also broke up for outside the ring reasons -- another successful tag team effort in the form of "the Gangstanators," with New Jack. Kronus' laid back nature was sometimes seen as a lack of work ethic (though I don't remember there being too many issues with his in-ring work, outside the ring many considered him a bit lazy), and ECW kind of passed him by during the company's final year or so of existence, running with other performers who were more driven and passionate even outside the ring.
     
    Starting in 2000, Kronus was done with ECW, and had started working for ECW-knock-off XPW (in California). He'd eventually be joined there by other ECW alums like Shane Douglas, Sabu, and New Jack. Once ECW folded in 2001, and its assets acquired by WWE, there was never any real discussion of Kronus being brought in (though many fans frequently dreamed of an Eliminators reunion). In recent years, Kronus has only worked sporadically, most notably on at least a couple of the "Hardcore Homecoming" reunion shows that piggybacked on the intial success of the "ECW One Night Stand" concept.
     
    Thanks for the memories, Kronus...
     
  • Ratings continue to bring bad news to WWE HQ, as well. Monday's RAW did another 3.4 cable rating. That's the second week in a row, and this time? There's no Home Run Derby or anything else to blame.... it's just a crap-ass number. Disturbingly, this was another rare case when RAW didn't really gain viewers over the course of two hours, instead maintaining a fairly stable audience level throughout. Then again: you promise people a lame-ass main event promo (and boy was Cena vs. Lashley in the Battle Rap lame), and that's what you get.
     
    I checked, and the back-to-back 3.4's are the lowest 2 week average rating for RAW since the autumn of 2004. Or, as I still vividly remember it: "The Autumn of Orton," when WWE tried -- for about 3-4 ill-fated months -- to push Randall Orton as their top babyface. That's also back when RAW was still on SpikeTV, which is considered to be a somewhat weaker network than USA. In other words: this is bad. Very bad.
     
    ECW on Tuesday did a 1.3 rating. ECW has averaged a 1.3 rating so far for the month of July, easily its worst month ever since debuting last summer on Sci-Fi. In fact, a year ago at this time, ECW averaged a 2.1 for July 2006. That's a loss of over one third of the audience in a year's time. That's also bad. Very bad.
     
    Going back to last Thursday, TNA did a 1.0 rating. Yes, that's down after a month straight of 1.1s and 1.2s, but ultimately no hugely significant fluctuation like what WWE's seeing. So maybe not good, but also not bad.
     
  • The one thing that might point to TNA's rating last Thursday being problematic is that they lost those (statistically insignificant) fractions of a point on the last show before a PPV. 
     
    Sunday's Victory Road PPV was, in some ways, kind of TNA equivalent of one of WWE's "off-month" PPV shows, where major one-on-one/singles issues are eschewed in favor of water-treading tag- and multi-way-matches.
     
    That said, the event was highlighted by an absolutely crazy spotfest, as 10 men vied for X Division glory (and presumably status as a top contender to X Champ Samoa Joe) in an Ultimate X match. Something you have to scour YouTube to see: Frankie Kazarian hitting a leaping, top rope Stone Cold Stunner on Chris Daniels, who had been hanging from the wires above the ring.
     
    And though not the highlight, the show was headlined by a "match of champions" in which X Champ Samoa Joe and TNA Champ Kurt Angle teamed up to face tag champs, the Dudleys. Joe scored the pinfall, and in a patented Russo-esque "huh?" booking move, I think he is now the tag team champions. All by himself. Or maybe he gets to pick a partner of his choosing. I'm not sure. Like I said, this was kind of a placeholder PPV, anyway, and I don't see the current situation lasting too long, as Scott Steiner is expected back in action very soon, at which point TNA wants to resume the Steiners vs. Dudleys feud.
     
  • If you wanted to get picky, you could make a case that SD! isn't the only brand that lost its champion on Tuesday night. Because Johnny Nitro is gone. History. Never to be seen again.
     
    Thing is, he was replaced by "John Morrison," a sort of rambling, face-slappable homage to Jim Morrison. And despite the new name and new look, he's still recognized as the ECW Champ. I believe that -- in my time watching wrestling -- this is the first time that a SITTING champ at the ostensible "World Title" level has had a total gimmick change. Which should tell you a lot about just how much respect and import is given to the ECW Title by WWE's monkeys. It's either an admission that Johnny Nitro was woefully ill-equipped to handle the responsibility of the title in his previous form (yet they gave it to him, anyway), or an admission that they didn't have anybody on the pathetically thin ECW roster who was better-equipped to handle it while they gave Nitro his make-over. Either way: not good.

    In any case, if the gimmick change is to stand a chance in hell of succeeding (and Nitro seems just vapid and douchey enough to really do a nice job encapsulating those traits of noted self-involved delicate arteest Jim Morrison; I say that as somebody who likes the Doors just fine, but who just has little patience for, you know, self-involved delicate arteest types), it means "John Morrison" has to retain the title at Sunday's PPV. Which means it's still not CM Punk's chance to step up and take his shot at carrying the ECW brand.
     
  • Much was made, in some circles, about Monty (Marcus Cor Von) Brown missing ECW tapings on Tuesday, but supposedly there's nothing ominous going on. People are saying he missed the show for a legit family emergency, and everybody expects him back next Tuesday night.
     
  • Even though WWE has the Great American Bash on Sunday (in addition to Khali/Batista/Kane and Morrison/Punk, RAW adds Cena vs. Lashley as their title match, plus the only other real drawing card, as Dusty Rhodes returns to the PPV event he created to face Randy Orton.... and possibly to get turned upon by his son Cody), advance promotion for August's SummerSlam has begun.
     
    And the news just might make you every bit as sick as what happens on SD! tomorrow night.
     
    SummerSlam's featured attraction is apparently going to be Umaga facing cast members of "Jackass," led by "Steve-O." There were light rumors of this going back about a month, but they either died down or got drowned out by Benoit related events. But this week: posters and other materials for SummerSlam arrived at cable and PPV distributors, and feature Umaga and the Jackass boys.
     
    Here's my take: outside of a small niche of the clincally retarded, Jackass is the sort of thing that's only funny or interesting for about 15 minutes. And then iit's stupid. So do not be surprised if the trend of people cheering for Umaga continues (and is amplified) if he's booked against the worthless mantards of Jackass.
     
  • On that note, I think I'll take my leave of you for today. At the very latest, I'll see you again on late Sunday night/early Monday with results from the Bash PPV, and any other news/analysis that may be relevant. Happy weekending, folks! 


  
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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
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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