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Top Stars Abandoning WWE?, Plus Angle,
Pacman, and Other TNA News... and MORE!
September 9, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


So I'm pretty much on record with not being particularly addicted to the TV, right?

But I admit, there are times of the day when I do likes to let the Idiot Box shoot the Dumb Rays into my brain, and most of those times are pretty late at night.

For the past 2-3 years, I've gotten used to my local network affiliates showing some reruns of shows I like really late on Saturdays. My CBS affiliate? "24" reruns. My NBC affiliate? The new

remastered Original "Star Trek" episodes. Nothing against shoddily researched Bermuda Triangle documentaries on Discovery or the 86th replay of the Shatner Roast on Comedy Central or Rachel Ray in tight jeans on Food Network, but come 2 or 3am, I knew enough to flip past the local channels to see what's on at those late hours. 

And this weekend? Oh. My. God. It is the second week in September, which means it's the new Fall Season, and new TV schedules. But I was not prepared for what befell me when I turned to my local CBS channel, wanting to see which "24" was on Saturday night. Because it wasn't "24" at all.

It was "Soul Train." Not new Soul Train. Not "Soul Train 2000." Not "Best of Soul Train: The Infomercial." But an honest-to-god old episode of "Soul Train" from the early 80s, in it's entirety. Uncut. Unedited. Unheterosexulized.

This episode was from maybe a year or two too early for me to really remember any of the songs, but I'll tell you this: Shelia E. was the "headline performer," and even though I know full well that Soul Train was all about the lip-synching, I was NOT prepared for the Nexus of Lame that I saw when she brought a full 15-piece "band" up on stage to fake along with her. Including (I shit you not) a coked up maraca player who minced around shaking the shit out of that thing the WHOLE DAMNED SONG, even though there wasn't a live mic in sight.

It might have just been the mood I was in that night, but I can't think of anything I've seen funnier than that Shelia E. performance in a while. I simultaneously warn and encourage you all to keep an eye out for the New Fall Season's debut of "Soul Train Classic" in your market. There's no way they found a channel in Dayton to buy it without having takers in most other cities. So I'm sure you'll be able to suffer with me if you want.

Granted, I'd rather have my "24" reruns back. But at that hour, if the alternative is "Access Hollywood Weekend 2 Hour Special Moron Edition," I'll take the flamboyant gayosity of Soul Train. 

Enough about my thrilling weekend adventures. Here's some wrestling:

  • It ain't getting any better for WWE.
    A week after they suspended 11 guys and fired four more, now they're dealing with walk-out threats from two top stars.
    Ric Flair, who was sent to SmackDown! a few months ago and has since been marginalized, essentially told the company "use me right or release me" last week.
    And Booker T, who was one of the 11 men suspended, didn't take kindly to the punishment, and may be on his way out of the company.
    Flair first....
    By most accounts, things *will* get smoothed over with Ric. Because it's the thing that makes most sense for both sides.
    Sure, Flair is 58 years old. But should that matter? Maybe not, if you can still get better reactions than guys half your age. In that sense, Flair still has value to WWE in the ring. The recent rash of suspensions has only served to remind WWE that they can use every warm body they can get.
    However, since moving over from RAW to SD!, Flair has been treated as little more than a prop for the Batista/Khali feud. Part of this was certainly due to a inflammation of an Inner Ear Disorder Flair has, which made it tough for him to travel for a few weeks, and meant WWE got all pissy about Flair's "unreliability." But honestly: Flair, at this point, should be a special attraction, and if you have Writer Monkeys whose best ideas are for having Flair fly in every single week from Charlotte to job out to Chris F. Masters? Then hell, I look into firing the Writer Monkeys before I question the veracity of Flair's Doctor Note. At this point of his career, Flair's allowed to call at least some of his own shots.
    Anyway: upset with recent treatment, and unable to get a straight answer out of anybody on the writing team, Flair gave WWE an ultimatum two weeks ago. "Use me right, or cut me loose." By most counts, they'll be using him right.
    Flair remains listed on the SD! roster page despite the Poor Reporting done on other sites (which claimed Flair had already quit and was a "free agent"), and it appears that he was offered a new long-arcing storyline that could provide his retirement/swan-song in the ring, and it was to his liking.
    Plus, on a pragmatic note: Flair needs WWE. WWE "owns" Ric Flair. They own his WCW work, his WWF/E work, his NWA/Crockett work, everything. For as much as the internet smarks adore Flair and think he's somehow "better" than Hogan or his ilk: that's not the case. Flair's still got that old school part of him where he's addicted to a vision of himself from the peak of his career, and has never quite been able to reconcile his gimmick with the reality of being 58 and on the downside of things. He's every bit as "needy" as Hogan or Piper or Lawler or whoever. He *needs* WWE, or else he loses everything he's done in his career and would have to come face to face with starting over.
    And WWE *needs* Flair. Yes, they "own" his past, but what good is 5000 hours of Ric Flair footage if you don't have Ric Flair under contract do offer insights and commentaries on DVDs? The Fed knows that Ric Flair's video library -- while valuable on its own -- triples in value if they also have Ric Flair himself around to hock it.
    Pragmatism goes further, too: unlike a lot of stars of his stature, Flair's in a uniquely perilous financial position, owing a shitload of money to both the IRS and to his ex-wife. As humiliating and gravitas-reducing as it would be for Flair to walk into a 1000-seat high school gym for ROH or TNA, it would also just be a bad financial move as long as there's any kind of guaranteed WWE contract available to him. The only thing that MIGHT match up would be working in Japan, but there: the dates would be higher paying, but would be few and far between.
    So it looks like you can count on Flair and WWE patching things up; anything else you're seeing/reading is, to the best of my ability to discern, hyperbole.
  • Booker T, on the other hand....
    I'm not holding my breath on this one, kids.
    The short version of the story is that Booker got told he was suspended as part of the NY Distract Attorney's findings in the files of Signature Pharmacy, and then he said "Fuck that noise, I quit." 
    On the surface, that's a pretty petty and immature response from Booker. "Wah! You want to punish me for something I did that was illegal! Wah! I take my ball and go home!" It's what I *wish* Randy Orton would do.
    But actually, as petulant as Booker's decision is, there is *some* backstory here. For one: it's not like Booker hasn't been contemplating retirement or a reduced schedule. He has. In fact, 3 years ago, he was DAMNED close to declining a WWE contract offer to retire and let his aching body start healing. But WWE came up with the big money at the last second, and Booker stuck around.
    For two, Booker's got a wrestling school and indie promotion in Houston that he has gotten off the ground, and which he thought might be the new secondary WWE Developmental Territory... but despite his success with the PWA, Booker watched as WWE opted to give road agent Steve Keirn the new territory in Florida. WWE recently even cut off Booker's permission to use WWE wrestlers as guest performers on his shows.
    So: with all this going down almost EXACTLY as Booker was renegotiating another contract extension, he gets suspended, and he gets all PMS'y and quits. There's nothing noble about Booker's behavior here, but there's at least a BIT of additional reasoning behind his drama queen hissy fit, I think.
    From what I can tell, WWE is moving forward under the impression that they won't win Booker back, although they will try. Well, some will try: I've heard tell that this is another of those deals where Johnny Ace is tarding everything up, and others are having to come in and clean up his mess after he pissed off a valuable performer.
    Of note: once Booker's access to WWE stars for his PWA shows started drying up, he did start booking TNA guys (including Samoa Joe) so he's got ties there. The elephant in the room, of course: Booker will have gotten suspended from WWE for drug-related reasons, and it's not like TNA isn't under SOME scrutiny when it comes to that issue. Booker is tainted. Damaged good.
    We'll see how it goes, though. Unlike Flair, Booker is very happily married, very financially secure (including successful ventures outside of wrestling), and is not quite as addicted to the idea of perpetuating a "legacy" as other top stars are. He could very well take a lower-profile TNA/ROH/indie gig without a second thought about leaving WWE behind.
    Harlem Heat vs. Dudleys, anyone?
  • Speaking of TNA: they had a PPV tonight, and their "Major Announcement" was that they're going to two hours per week in October. 
    Effective Oct. 4, Impact runs from 9pm to 11pm (eastern) on Spike TV every Thursday. This is a 2-year contract for TNA following two consecutive one-year deals with Spike (the first for the late night timeslot, and the second for the one-hour primetime slot).
    Despite the hype, there is no "surprise" there. This is something TNA had told key performers about 2 weeks ago at TV tapings, and which has been considered an inevitability for months. To me, the "news" isn't the interesting thing here. Seeing what TNA does with the extra time in 4 weeks is.
  • Also on the PPV tonight, TNA had teased loyal fans with "negotiations with a former world champion." Obviously, they wanted fans thinking about Flair and Booker T. And also Brock Lesnar, who is considered to be an outside shot to appear with TNA if he joins UFC (which is also under the Spike TV banner).
    Note to Loyal TNA Fans: you're being loyal to a company that thinks the former WSX Champ was a "world champion," OK? Simmer down, and prepare to be disappointed. [Although, in honesty, my guess is the thing with Booker could, eventually, pan out, too.]
    Anyway, the point is: no recognizable Former World Champ debuted at the PPV tonight. But a mysterious hand did shoot up from under the ring to molest Abyss, and it'll end up belonging to Johnny WSX. Enjoy.
  • The other highlights of the TNA show: Kurt Angle wrestled 3 times, adding up to about 1-and-a-half decent matches. Because of the Logic Wastelands that are TNA's current booking strategies, Angle held all the company's titles, and had to defend them all on the same PPV.
    In the only reasonably clean finish of the three, Jay Lethal actually beat Angle for the X Title.
    In the only reasonably intriguing finish of the three, Ron Killings and Pacman Jones beat Angle (and partner du jour, Sting) for the tag titles, and Pacman (GASP~!) actually touched a fellow competitor! Until he's fighting Vick in a "Which Douchebag Is More Retarded? Deathmatch," I can't give a shit.
    And then there was the main event against Abyss where the aforementioned Mystery Hand got involved, and Angle did manage to retain the TNA Title. Yippee.
  • Other TNA contract stuff:
    Despite anything you read anywhere else, Samoa Joe is not on the brink of leaving TNA. He *is* renegotiating, but he's renegotiating an EXTENSION of a contract that doesn't even expire for another year. Think of it as Joe realizing his value to the company and asking for more money; think of it as TNA realizing it's better to have Joe happy and long-term than pissy and short-term.
    On the other hand, Kevin Nash's contract is once again coming due, and many in TNA management think it's not worth paying Nash to do what he does. You mean: not worth paying him to be pretty much one of the three most amusing performers you have? FOR SHAME, TNA~! Pay the Master! Otherwise, he'll go on a pilgrimage to Madagascar, come back more motivated than ever, sign a WWE contract, and MAKE YOU RUE THE DAY YOU DIDN'T PONY UP THE DOUGH~!
    It's too bad the Spirit Squad are gone. Otherwise "Coach Nash" would have about a billion hilarious WWE Possibilities.
    Finally: TNA has cut all ties with Andrew "Test" Martin.
    The official reason is that he didn't work and play well with others, and created Locker Room Tension. Ahem. If that was true, TNA, you'd have fired Kurt Angle 10 months ago and never brought back Scott Steiner.
    The real reason is that TNA has fallen under the same microscope as WWE when it comes to steroids in wrestling. And while many may mock WWE's "wellness policy" as ineffectual, they at least HAVE a policy. TNA doesn't. They got nothing. And Test had "wellness issues" in WWE leading up to his firing this past winter, and his name has also been included in media articles about clients of Signature Pharmacy. He's got the stink of PR Nightmare on him.
    So, as a past client of this shady company and with his image in jeopardy, what did Test do? He came out in public saying "Yeah I did it. Who fucking cares?" Brilliant, big man, brilliant.
    Test's theory is that "wrestling isn't real, so taking steroids is just a cosmetic thing, EXACTLY like getting tattoos."
    Before you scoff: he's right. One hundred percent right.
    The vast majority of people who get tattoos do so when they are young and not thinking clearly, and susceptible to peer pressure. Sometimes, a well-chosen or one-time tattoo will prove to be a nice accessory or a useful reminder of a particular memory. But more often, that decision will be a poor one that is regretted later in life. However: if it turns out that this person remains dimwitted and malleable, they may actually become entrenched in the Tattoo Lifestyle, purchasing tattoos habitually, to the point where it looks ridiculous and many people laugh at them behind their backs. They may, in fact, become a member of the Tattoo Subculture, trading insider information about the best Tattoo dealers with their other over-inked cosmic-joke associates. They may even start to realize their mistakes and try to Hide Their Shame (like MVP and Road Dogg) instead of showing off their purchases.
    Exactly the same way most athletes try performance enhancing drugs out of sheer peer pressure. Maybe they do it once and it's just to heal an injury or to try things out and they're done. But more likely, if they're dimwitted enough to try it once, they get into the PED lifestyle. And before you know it, they're subscribing to Bodybuilding Magazines and hanging out in Vince McMahon's office critiquing the physiques of other men. And from there, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump away from trading tips about Shady Online Pharmacies where you can get your drugs and get all gassed up and BUFF despite the fact that almost nobody who watches wrestling gives a shit about the difference between looking like Chris F. Masters and looking like Chris Jericho, and therefore just quietly chuckles at all your shriveled-sac-having narcissistic tools who keep shooting things in your ass. At the end of the road, these users end up trying to hide their shame and spoof drug tests, rather than admit mistakes and get clean.
    I could also do the exact same paragraph for the ladies, substituting Boob Jobs for roids or tats. But I'm belaboring the point already, and trust you can formulate that tangent on your own, if you want.
    The gist of this is: Test is right. Roids *are* just like tats: possibly useful if utilized responsibly and intelligently, but very rarely used that way, so are instead things that end up being abused by the feeble-minded and the bad-judgment-having. 
    You win, Test. Congratulations. Also: you're still fired. dumdum. You didn't exactly give TNA a choice.
    I don't say that blithely. I *still* feel badly that Test never got his due back in '99 when he was shoved out of the HHH/Steph storyline despite being on a roll with fans. But honestly:  male-physique enthusiasts and tattoo addicts are two of the most ludicrous subcultures I can think of, and Test just gave me permission to (a) equate them and (b) place him in both.
    He was asking for it. I gave it to him. I'd say I feel like Mick Foley; except there was nothing good-natured about my ribbing.
  • WWE's overseas tour last week netted a grand total of one (1) interesting result. One which you'll almost probably never hear about on domestic TV.
    Paul London and Spanky Kendrick won the RAW Tag Titles from Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. And then promptly lost them back to Cade and Murdoch the next night. Actually, that's two (2) results, isn't it?
    As this happened in South Africa, and there is no way of people in one hemisphere of knowing what happens in the other, WWE is not likely to acknowledge this double switch.
    But it did happen. I swear.
  • Much to my befuddlement, WWE does have people talking with the "Vince's Bastard" angle.... myself? I've been so conditioned for disappointment when Steph and her Writer Monkeys are doing the plotting that I couldn't possibly give less of a shit.
    But there are crazy theories out there. The biggest ones: it's either Rob Van Dam or the Big Show. The "looking up" hint has people convinced it's one of the two, since RVD's gimmick is based on nobody getting 'higher" than him, and Big Show is, well, really tall.
    I cannot tell you how many amusingly told yarns have seen my in-box this last week, what with the PAST storyline of Big Show being a bastard, and the man he thought was his dad wasn't his dad, and Big Bossman driving his Fake Dad's casket around the cemetery, and all. Needless to say: we've had 8 years to digest the Suck of that storyline, and now SOME people are ready to recycle it by having Vince McMahon be the guy what fucked Big Show's mama. Oy.
    Well, I won't say it's not gonna happen.... but if it does, you realize this might make Big Show the first man in wrestling history to have THREE different daddies, right? First, he was Andre's son. Then he was, well, the son of whoever Big Bossman dragged around the cemetery. And now, he could be Vince's son.
    I'm a big fan of a beer known as the Double Bastard (the high octane version of "Arrogant Bastard Ale"). But Big Show could end up being the first ever Triple Bastard.
    Ummm, what was my point again?
    Oh, something about Vince's bastard, and how some people care. If you believe the hype, we'll find out tonight on RAW. Be like me, people: brace yourself for disappointment. My guess: it wasn't Mark Henry that impregnated that filthy harlot Mae Young, lo those many years ago. It was Vince. And now, Mae's hand is all grown up and looking for revenge. Either that, or something incestutastic.
  • And while there is an upsurge in e-mail and discussion about the Bastard Child thing, there is no upsurge in ratings. Quite the contrary. RAW did a 3.6 rating last Monday. 
    Yes, that is up from a 3.2 the week before (when RAW was bumped to Sci-Fi in favor of tennis), but it's still a disappointing number, well down from the start of the year, and even down a tick or two from the last few weeks prior to the Sci-Fi move. Internally, the WWE justification is "It was a holiday." but for chrissakes, by 9pm on Monday night, the 3-day weekend is over and everybody's back home and getting back to the usual routine. With tonight marking the return of Monday Night Football and the new Fall Season of fresh TV shows, it's not like things are getting any easier for WWE, either.
    All other wrestling shows did just about what you'd expect last week. At this point, you leave the stat-keeping and spread-sheet maintenance to me... but I see no reason to bore you with numbers that are no more than 0.2 out of line with what you'd predict, especially when the dirty little secret Nielsen never talks about is that their statistical margin of error is 0.3 points. SHHHHHHH~! Millions of ad dollars are spent based on those numbers! And Dave Meltzer makes an ass of himself by tabulating quarter hour variations down to the hundredth of a point, as if any of those number proved a damned thing! Let's not ruin their fantasies, shall we?
  • The Benoit Family Tragedy had another curtain call this week, as Chris Benoit's dad, Michael, made the TV News Show rounds in the wake of new information released about Chris Benoit's Brain.
    No, I am not making this up. They really did STEAL BENOIT'S BRAIN. To do research on it.
    In essence: they found calcification in the brain that matches with that found in former NFL players brains. Though there is inadequate data at this point, the idea is that these calcium deposits affect mood and mental stability. Obviously, Michael Benoit recently saw his son go batshit insane and kill two people (and then himself) and he's looking for any and every explaination possible... this relatively new field of head trauma research is one place Mr. Benoit is looking for answers.
    But the reality is: what doctors found were calcium deposits (caused, yes, by chairshots and concussions and other things that go with the wacky bumps wrestlers take). They did not, however, find crazy deposits. So we still have nothing resembling answers.
  • Jim Ross' contract as an on-screen WWE personality is expiring soon, and according to JR's own blog, he expects to hammer things out to remain with the company. I hope he's right. I sure didn't mind when Tazz subbed for Lawler a few weeks back, but the world simply is not ready to cope with another months-long ear-raping at the hands of Jonathan Coachman on Mondays.
  • Tis all I got for now, folks. See you again, probably later this week once WWE gets the table set for the Armaunforjudgmalash PPV. Be well till then....

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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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