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RAW Anniversary Plans, Jericho's Early 
Grade, Carlito, and Praise for TNA??!!? 
December 7, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'm hereby officially peeved. This writer's strike thing needs to end, pronto.

And no, I don't really care much about your prime time shows. Sure, I'll be mildly annoyed when there's nothing but reruns left of the handful of shows I watch. I guess I'd prefer if there was gonna be "24" this year, but I'll live. And quite frankly, I couldn't give any less of a rat's ass if fricking "Scrubs" has to go off the air without a proper ending or not.

What I'm *really* upset about, though, is the fact that I got no late night TV entertainment. From 11pm to 1:30am, that's when I usually sit around and collect my comedy, my news, my pop culture updates, and during commercials, even my sports highlights. Now, for over a month, I got nothing. I'm stuck having to do shit like read or play guitar or better myself. That's for chumps.

Don't make me declare myself Imperial Dictator of the Multiverse, Hollywood. Because not only will I force everybody to go back to work under a fair and equitable deal (which ain't rocket science, it just takes two sides not both being total retards), but while I was forced to turn my gaze your way, I'd probably liquidate about 90% of all TV and movie executives in the most gruesome fashion imaginable: locked in a room with no food and no water, and only a non-stop cavalcade of the soul-crushingly awful tripe they greenlit for reasons unfathomable.

And really, I just want my late night TV shows back, people. I don't want to be indicted for war crimes. Which is precisely what "Death by Viva Laughlin" would be considered as: cruel and inhumane doesn't even begin to describe it. So let's hop to it, OK, Hollywood?

Here's today's wrestling:

  • WWE last big ratings grab of the year is coming on Monday: they'll be celebrating RAW's 15th Anniversary (about 3 weeks early) with a big three-hour, guest-star-laden show.
    Anybody who remembers five years ago remembers that the RAW X anniversary special turned into an utterly forgettable crap-a-thon because WWE decided to play "hardball" and told the majority of legends and guest stars to just stay home, because they weren't gonna take advantage of WWE by asking for a big payday to show up. Or even asking for a three-star hotel room. 
    This, seemingly, won't be a problem this year, as WWE already has good relationships (and existing "Legends Contracts") with a bunch of folks. Your usual suspects, including Steve Austin and Mick Foley will be on hand.
    The USA/NBC connection is in full effect, as Universal execs are forcing a "reunion" of sorts between the estranged Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. Why? Because, Hogan's hosting the new "American Gladiators" that debuts next month on NBC, and frankly, he could use all the good press he can get, what with his wife leaving him and his son being a bad driving little felon. So: Hulk and Vince, you play nice, now, and then you don't have to talk to each other again for 18 more months if you don't want.
    Obviously, I'm exceptionally fired up that Trish Stratus will be back, even if just for one night. Oh, sure, I could spin you a half-dozen killer ideas for one-off skits (how many of them involve the also-returned Jericho? you tell me!), but none of those'll happen. I'm sure we'll have to settle for less, something like Trish giving her tacit approval to Mickie James and the new generation of divas. And then maybe, if we're REALLY unlucky, Beth Phoenix won't be interested in Trish's charity, and will do something naughty to roust my damned Trish Sympathy Gene from its 15 month slumber. Damn, I hate that thing.
    WWE has also added two more of their most successful women of the past to the line-up: Lita will be present, and Tammy "Sunny" Sytch will make her first WWF/E appearance in about 8 years on Monday. Sunny pretty much helped the mid-90s WWF define the new way they could use women on their shows (not as wrestlers, but as eye candy enhancements, with the difference being that Sunny actually had the ability to speak compellingly and charismatically, unlike today's slew of Candice Michelles)... and by all accounts, after a rough stretch (including those pesky Personal Demons, as well as the death of her man, Chris Candido), Sunny's got her stuff together and is well. I mean healthy and happy, probably for the first time in about ten years. And last I saw, she once again LOOKED really awesome, too. I guess if you're gonna spend a decade spiraling downward and out of the mainstream, the lesson here is: start doing so at the ripe old age of 22, so you still have plenty of hot years left when you come out the other side. 
    If Sunny gets a chance to shine on Monday, count me among those who'd be totally cheering for a Drew-Barrymore-like comeback from the depths of despair. Sunny at her best really was a treat for all the senses: they'd even put her on the headsets and have her doing commentary, and she'd be so good, you forgot just how much you'd like there to be a full-time camera pointed at her, instead of at the ring, because frankly, her intelligence and wit were giving you enough to deal with as it was.  We'll see how it goes on Monday....
    I'm not sure who else WWE has officially announced for Monday's extravaganza, but I do know they'll be doing a Battle Royale of past stars, so there will be at least a dozen or so (maybe as many as 20) other familiar faces. Some of 'em aren't too hard to figure out: Hacksaw Duggan and Ron Simmons are already around most weeks. They won't do one of these deals without Doink. Mike "IRS" Rotundo and Barry Windham are both road agents (although Windham never really did much in the WWF during the RAW era). Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, The Stooges, and the Brooklyn Brawler would be tough to leave out. Bruce "Brother Love" Pritchard, too.  Al Snow could be used, as he still has a job in OVW; for now; although Snow's best use would be in skits with Foley and the midget, if you ask me.
    See, and just like that: you don't even really have to go out and fly too many special guys in for the occasion. Though I do think it'd be cool to see Mantaur in action. MANTAUR~! And hopefully they'll do the sensible thing (as they did for the WM Gimmick Battle Royale a few years ago) and make sure Bobby Heenan and Gene Okerlund get called in for guest commentary.
    [Random Brainstorm: how freaking awesome would it be to have Santino declare himself a "legend" and then sissy his way to a victory in the Battle Royale, by clinging to the ropes and hiding in corners, and then hold *that* over Jerry Stupid Lawler's head for weeks and months? Pretty freaking awesome, I must say.]
    One act you won't see: the Nasty Boys. They got a try-out a few weeks ago at WWE TV tapings, and royally fucked themselves over. Apparently, they're under the impression that being bit players on Hogan's crap-ass VH-1 show makes them big superstars and that as such, they didn't have to exhibit even an iota of ability or professionalism inside the ring. Bzzzt. Back to living in Hogan's poolhouse with Brutus Beefcake for you two idiots...
    Anyway, with three hours to fill, all that cool old-timey legends stuff will be neat... but there are also current issues to address and a PPV following just six days after the big edition of RAW. Those things will be melded in with the nostalgia.
    Perhaps the one spot where they come together most explosively is in the "Greatest RAW Superstar of All Time" Award, being presented by Vince McMahon. In one way, it could be an actual, legitimate honor bestowed upon the most important performer of the past 15 years. But in another, it's been put forth as more a egomaniacal tool devised by Vince (possibly to award to himself) to fit a current storyline/character.
    My guess: it's probably just a device so that Vince can give himself the award and then "show ass" by getting beaten up by an assortment of genuine superstars. Austin and Foley certain have ample beefs with Vince, anyway. HHH could make a case for being a top star. And you know whose name hasn't been mentioned once all week? John Cena's; and the guy is injured, but he isn't dead. There's no reason to suspect he'd miss this party.
    Ideally, it'd all end with the Rock showing up for a big surprise happy ending. But I guess that's not in the cards. WWE tried frantically (and might still be trying) to get the Rock to agree to the 5 minute cameo, but supposedly No Dice. Dammit.
    Oh, and just in case you're the sort of fan who's sitting there at home, muttering, "Well, that's all well and good, Rick, but you've just outlined about 2 hours worth of entertainment and ME WANTY WORKRATE~! WORKRAAAAAATE~!" then how about this: Jeff Hardy defends the IC TItle in a Ladder Match versus Carlito. There you go: 15 or 20 minutes of Actual Wrestling to look forward to, too!
    I'm looking at the way WWE has got the table set, and I'm having a hard time believing they won't serve up a pretty tasty meal on Monday. Granted, your mileage may vary, but I'm already getting kinda stoked. In fact: who knows? Given the recent establishment of rules regarding lapsed recappers coming back to work to recap their favorite wrestler's returns, maybe Trish's presence dictates that I dust off the old 6000-word Stream Of Consciousness recappening chops, my own self, on Monday. We'll see; but I had forgotten how much fun it is to read that style of recap, and might just have to explore if it's something that can still be run to WRITE, as well, given the ideal circumstances. 
    Which are precisely the circumstances I'm forecasting.
  • It's now been a little over two weeks since Chris Jericho returned to TV and... well, I'm pleased as punch with how things are going, but if WWE was expecting a ratings renaissance, they're not getting it. 
    Jericho's re-debut did a 3.5 rating (same as the week before), and RAW did the same the next week. This Monday, the show dropped to a 3.2 up against what turned out to be the highest rated Monday Night Football game in years.
    Even as I was trying to be the Voice of Reason leading up to Jericho's return, I think I *did* expect to see some sort of upward momentum in the ratings in the weeks after his debut (even if the debut itself played to roughly RAW's usual-sized audience)... I'm not sure what the 2 subsequent weeks of stagnation speak to, other than the blatantly obvious: Jericho is only one man, and a viewer's desire to watch the show is affected by what's going on the other hour and 45 minutes, too. And the other hour-forty-five is still pretty much the same old crap that's led to RAW's ratings decline.
    This Monday, even the bits that *do* tend to click on RAW weren't utilized: no Santino at all, and after setting the stage with the big "Flair retires if he loses" story, there was zero follow-up on it. Instead, this past Monday's show seemed largely disconnected from the show the week before, and that is simply NOT how you build up sustainable episodic TV storylines that have a snowball effect on viewers. "Disconnected" weeks, however, leave open the possibility that a viewer flips past and doesn't see the logical follow-through on something he/she liked the week before, because WWE is veering 11 degrees off to one side to pull a Jericho/Umaga match out of their ass, when my guess is WAAAYYY more fun could have been had with the set-up and execution of a Jericho/Lawler vs. Orton/Santino tag match that could have tied directly back to some of the previous week's highlights.
    Just a thought.
    Anyway, along the spectrum of fans who range from "Pissy because they had unfairly high expectations" to "Giddy because they are just plain whores for that clever bastard Jericho," I definitely rate closer to the latter. Everything he's done has clicked and either met or exceeded by expectations. I mean: the fact that he's right smack-dab in the middle of a title feud and spending most of his promo time mocking the intellectual shortcomings of Randall Orton? C'mon: I couldn't have hoped for anything more perfect. Throw in some absolutely solid gold interactions with Sanchico Mantana, and I got no complaints.
    Well, OK, one complaint: the whole bit with the Torch Runner was silly. But I can even justify that to myself, in one of two ways. (1) It was Randy's dimwitted idea, as he doesn't fully comprehend the difference between the literal and the symbolic. Or (2) Jericho went along with it, because he just really hates those Torch Guys, and any excuse to beat the snot out of a Torch Guy is a good one. Jericho has no use for a Torch. Only an idiot would ever hold a Torch in his hands. Which is, I tell myself, why Jericho unleashed such a ferocious Onslaught upon the Torch guy back a couple of Monday's ago. 
    In my heart of hearts, I'd like to believe that Jericho walks out of Armageddon with the WWE Title. But with the new underneath storyline between Hardy and HHH, it means that the Royal Rumble title match will be the winner of Jericho/Orton vs. HHH or Hardy. I can't see WWE "trusting" Jericho and Hardy at the Rumble, even if it is the (de facto) second fiddle to the Rumble match itself. And my stomach isn't ready to go back in time to 2002 to reprise Jericho/HHH again. Which leaves us with the very real possibility that Jericho's title hopes fizzle after one try, and that Orton rides on to the Rumble to face either HHH or Hardy. Oy.
    But we'll talk more about that next week, I'm sure. For now, I'm still enjoying the early stages of the ride here during Jericho's return.
  • Pretty much everybody was expecting Jericho's return to be accompanied by the departure of Carlito.
    Well, it's not set in stone just yet, but it looks like (for the second time this year) Carlito will be sticking with WWE, after coming damned close to exiting.
    Carlito, increasingly upset with his spot in the company, asked for his release a month ago. But at least some in the WWE front office are in no rush to see a naturally-gifted performer walk out the door in a snit, so the door was left open a crack. Carlito kept showing up on TV (usually to be humiliated by Finlay's midget), while the wheels were turning backstage to come up with a way to placate the guy.
    The beginnings of that were established on Monday, when Carlito was promised the Ladder Match against Jeff Hardy on the 15th Anniversary show (which will not only be a chance for Carlito to perform at what he believes is the stage he deserves, but ALSO a chance for him to prove to his doubters in WWE management that he really does deserve it). On Monday's show, you'll also note that Carlito slinked away unscathed, while Coach was the one who ended up getting ritually humiliated by Hornswoggle and the APA.
    Following Monday's tapings, Carlito then hopped a cargo plane, and is one of a small handful of guys currently over in Iraq doing the annual Christmas tour. Additional details between Carlito and WWE will be worked out upon his return stateside, but for now: it looks like he's staying.
  • A crew of (mostly) RAW performers left for Iraq early Tuesday morning, and will be taping the annual "Tribute to the Troops" show at the ever-popular Undisclosed Location. Said special will air on the USA Network on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24.
    The SD! crew has it only marginally easier this week, as they are on a five-night tour of Europe.
    Hopefully, everybody can get un-jet-lagged enough so that Monday's big show goes off well.
  • A development a few months in the making: FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) is basically going to be WWE's new lead developmental territory. I guess the ever-inept Johnny Ace has been looking for fall guys since his "demotion" earlier this year, and planted the seeds of doubt in Al Snow and OVW. Now, a bunch of OVW's WWE-contracted workers have been moved to Tampa, where they'll work for FCW and train under Tom Pritchard.
    Oh well: plus 10 points for WWE realizing talent development is a serious problem for them right now. But minus several million for not identifying the true root cause of the problems.
  • Having already "spoiled" the return of Chris Jericho, WWE Magazine may have done it again. In a small feature on stars returning from injury, a new issue vaguely lists "12/07" as Bobby Lashley's return from a shoulder injury.
    We'll see if that pans out. When Lashley left, he was on RAW (and was injured by Kennedy, which is a custom made return angle), but at this point, it's SD! that could really use him to bolster things on the midcard.
  • Why does SD! need midcard-bolstering? Well, because, Matt Hardy and MVP's US Title Feud is snakebitten.
    The latest: Matt Hardy had an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago, and will be sidelined and on heavy antibiotics for at least a few more weeks (and possibly not in ring shape again till the Rumble or later).
    The Hardy/MVP feud started over six months ago, and was sidetracked at first by MVP's heart condition. They used the Hardy/MVP Tag Team Storyline to cover MVP's temporary limitations, and in fact: they GREATLY increased the entertainment value of the feud by having Hardy and MVP pretending to get along as buds. Then, just one week after the tag team implodes (and loses their titles), things look to be heading for closure.... instead: Hardy heads to the hospital. D'oh.
    So that's why Lashley might be a better fit on SD! right now: he'd snap right into place as a US Title contender. And then, if it does come to pass that Batista turns heel and/or goes to RAW (there are whispers of WWE wanting to get Evolution back together on the same brand, if not necessarily as a contiguous unit, before WrestleMania, possibly as part of the Flair Send-off Storyline), Lashley can slide on up and join Taker and Rey as SD!'s bankable babyfaces.
  • Due to a pre-emption on Tuesday, ECW went up against the second half of TNA Impact last night. As of this early afternoon writing, no ratings are available, but I'm really curious to see how this pans out. 
    For whatever it's worth, I had to choose, and I recorded TNA over ECW. That's what it's come to these days. Even with Shelton Benjamin giving me hope that he and CM Punk will eventually get to tear the house down in a 20 minute PPV match, TNA's got more juice to it than ECW right now.
    Of course, you have to look for it in between the moments of laughably-slipshod cable-access caliber editing/production (the James Mitchell segments came off exceptionally badly, and not just because the material is idiotic) and continued existence of high-school-drama-club caliber "acting." But if you settle in and don't think to hard, you suddenly realize something:
    TNA's front line performers are SLAYING right now. With everybody gunning for Kurt Angle's TNA Title, and with everybody taking up sides (however grudgingly), you've got 6 or 8 guys being utilized perfectly and to the best of their abilities. I'll even put up with the Black Hole of Interesting, Bobby Roode, pretending like he belongs, just because he still brings Ms. Brookes to the table.
    You've got Nash and Joe and Booker on one side of the equation, and certainly, you can't really go wrong there. But even more interesting is the zany heel side, where Christian and Kurt Angle are dueling to see which can be the bigger dickhead. If anything, it's ironic if WWE is thinking about bringing back any kind of Evolution thread to their storylines, because right now, the foursome of Christian, Angle, Styles, and Tomko are doing something pretty similar. If anything, they're doing it better than WWE did 3 years ago.
    I mean, Christian and Angle kind of form the 2-headed Triple H in this dynamic. I guess Karen Angle is the Ric Flair? Except when her boobs jiggle, it's actually a good thing. And I shit you not: Tomko is out-Batista'ing Batista at every turn. He's cooler, he's funnier, he's logical-ier, and a case could even be made that he's gotten significantly better in the ring. It goes without saying that since experiencing Christian's Midas Touch, AJ Styles is now doing things with the "mentally enfeebled douchebag who should know well enough to be a lackey and stay a lackey" character that Randy Orton never did. And could never have done. It's gold.
    I'm even looking forward to voting AJ among my "Breakthrough Wrestlers of the Year" in a few weeks. Hey, AJ, after years of pretending, how's it feel to finally, REALLY matter?
    Anyway, we'll see how these head to head ratings turned out some time next week. 
  • I think that's about all I got for today, kids. I'll see you next week, either with a Return To Form as RAW Recapper, or at the very least with some news and preview of the Armageddon PPV. 
    Well, provided I don't do myself any additional grievous damage when the Dayton Flyers (#14 in the RPI, are you shitting me?!?!??!!) take on the hated Cardinals of Louisville Saturday on ESPN2, that is. For the religious among you, it might be worth tuning in. Freshman Chris Wright is, I assure you, the Second Coming.
    At least: to those of us in Dayton, He is. We haven't had a guy this amazing in over 20 years. In other words: there hasn't been a kid this talented playing for UD in all the years I've been cognizant of UD basketball. Pretty exciting.
    Enjoy your weekends, and I'll see you soon...

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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
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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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