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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
One Night Stand, Orton Injury, Regal's
Suspension, Vince's Desperation, MORE!!! 
June 2, 2008

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

Morning after a PPV, so you know the drill around here: 

I'll quickly recap the show (in this case, it was WWE's One Night Stand, a collection of ostensibly "extreme" matches that really only got on track in any significant way in two matches; luckily, one was the main event, and it was really outstanding). And then, it'll be on to a second section comprised of today's

relevant newsbites from around the rasslin' world.

Enjoy...

WWE ONE NIGHT STAND PPV RECAP

  • Jeff Hardy beat Umaga in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Rather than the hard-hitting, sympathy-inducing squash-fest I might have expected given these two's respective strengths, this match turned into more of an homage to the late 90's "24/7 Hardcore Rules" style match... you know: garbage-y and kind of creative, but with a bit of contrived goofiness to it that made it more a parody of violence than truly "hardcore." I didn't mind that style back then (it was a fun once-a-week diversion), so that's not a critique; just an observation. Match spilled outside the ring (and then outside the building) pretty fast, setting up the final spot, which was an alleged Swanton Bomb off the top of the WWE Production truck by Hardy (but as alluded to above, it was hidden from the camera in a kind of contrived moment). Eight minutes, tops, but a fun enough piece of fluff to open with in my opinion (though I'm sure there are enough "purists" out there who think that extreme matches should be neither fun nor fluffy, so your mileage may vary).
     
  • Big Show won a five-man Singapore Cane match to become the new #1 Contender to the ECW Title. The other four men were CM Punk, Johnny "Nitro" Morrison, Tommy Dreamer, and Chavo Guerrero (all former ECW Champs). If you're asking yourself "Why would CM Punk care about such a pointless match when he's already Mr. Money in the Bank?" then you are probably thinking too hard. Or at least: harder than the WWE Creative Monkeys are. Four canes were hanging in the four corners, and the basic story of the match was "Let's gang up on Big Show." Which worked fine for a few minutes, and allowed for a few others spots between the smaller guys (and also briefly with ringside guest Shawn Merriman of the Chargers). Then, while recuperating on the outside, Show found a cache of Extra Canes, started using them, and quickly cleaned house before pinning Tommy Dreamer. So: now it's Kane vs. Big Show for the ECW Title. Oy. And I say that as a guy who kind likes both Kane and Big Show; but I've also seen the video, and let's just say that it's already been proven that these are two great tastes that DON'T taste great together. 
     
  • John Cena beat JBL in a First Blood Match. In this battle of foregone conclusions, the real winners weren't the fans. Probably about double-speed as compared to their snoozefest on PPV two weeks ago, but still not exciting enough to carry things, especially with Cena only getting a half-positive crowd reaction, despite JBL trying to play a 100% methodical heel. Starting around the 10 minute mark, they did relatively convincing tease spots, where one guy would take a bump and the ref would make a big show out of checking for blood, but nothing developed on that front until Cena applied an SSTF (but using a chair for extra torque), causing JBL to start bleeding internally. Nee haw.
     
  • Beth Phoenix beat Melina in an "I Quit" Match. Much like the First Blood Match in terms of being "choreographed" for the Ref Teases (asking for the "I Quit" instead of checking for blood), but I actually ended up liking it a bit just because it was the same amount of drama but only half as long. Less filler. But the finish was still a foregone conclusion: after countless submissions failed, Phoenix scored the win using something that was neither a surfboard nor a dragon sleeper, but which was related to both. She is once again (as if she ever wasn't) the #1 Contender to the women's title, now.
     
  • Backstage: women's champ Mickie James is watching this outcome with interest, when John Cena approaches, and proceeds to lay in with sheer awfulness about how there's something hot about girl-on-girl submissive action. Adding to the pure dumbness: Mickie decides this is clever and hawt and not insulting to her profession or her gender, and offers a few choices of moves she'd totally like to apply to JonJon. Oh, the spectacle of watching two retards flirt! Then, for no reason, Mike Adamle interrupts, says something stupid about going out drinking later with the old "American Gladiators," and instantly becomes the least mentally-impaired person in this skit. Sad.
     
  • Batista beat Shawn Michaels in a Stretcher Match. This continues to be an interesting dynamic, mostly because WWE has yet to show their hand regarding any possible End Game. Can this end relatively peacefully? And if not, we've gotta be talking heel turn, right? In so far as tonight's match played out it seems the WWE audience is pretty much in line with my beliefs: if one of Michaels or Batista is going to be a bad guy, it had better be Batista. Though there was audible sympathy and chanting for Batista while he was on the defensive, his one-dimensional clubbering offense was met with some boos. At this point, that just might be kneejerk reaction to the big guy beating up on the scrappy little guy, but also at this point, Batista needs to take this and build on it to freshen his character up. Anyway, credit to both guys for NOT overplaying the "tease" angle as in previous matches.... realizing that it takes a serious blow to debilitate your opponent enough to lay him on a stretcher AND wheel him up the aisle past a pre-determined point, they didn't opt for many of those, instead focusing on landing the debilitating blows (or series of blows). So we got about 15 minutes of a pretty standard and gimmick free "WWE Style Brawl," then the finish ramped up a bit. Batista hit a spear/powerbomb combo, and seemed ready to try the Stretcher Roll, but was interrupted by Chris Jericho, who came out and started pep-talking Michaels (who was barely conscious). In the end, Jericho even blocked the path of the stretcher and dumped Michaels off of it to continue berating him verbally, creating a bit of uncertainty about Jericho's motives. This uncertainty was underscored when Jericho's verbal assault gave way to silence, as he watched from a distance while Batista finished HBK off with blows from the steel ring steps, then put him back on the stretcher, and finished the rolling Michaels carcass past the white line. Hmmmmm. About 20 minutes, and not a damned thing to complain about
     
  • Triple H beat Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match. Try as they might, there's just no juice left in this orange. Although, on this night, criticism would probably be unfair, as Trips and Randall were probably only about halfway to wherever they were wanting to take us when the match came to a screeching halt. It was about 10 minutes in when Orton took an awkward bump over the top rope, and instantly drew the attention of the ref; that magnificent Dubly Surround Sound made it pretty clear Orton was complaining about his collarbone. The subsequent 3 minutes of stalling made it even more clear that this had to be a significant injury, because the only alternative was WWE purposely scripting a "shoot" injury at the expense of delivering on a promised semi-main event match. After Orton and the ref (and eventually, HHH himself) had milled around and stalled enough, HHH just whipped out a sledgehammer, bopped Orton in the head, and Orton stayed down for the 10 count. To fill time after the match ended early, they vamped with countless replays of Orton's bump to the floor, all of which seemed convincingly painful.
     
  • Edge defeated the Undertaker in a TLC Match to win the VACANT World Title, and to "banish" Undertaker from WWE forever. Not quite on par with Edge/Cena's TLC Match from Unforgiven '06 in terms of overall action and intensity, but that was made up for by a surprisingly compelling final few moments, where fans (myself included) kind of came to terms with the idea of Edge actually winning the match despite the severity of the "banishment" stipulation. Taker and Edge wasted little time with preliminaries, and tables and ladders were in use by the 3 minute mark; nothing TOO fancy to start, but both guys used the weapons to good effect for the early back-and-forth segment. Edge took an extended advantage for a few moments around the 8 minute mark by low-blowing his way out of a table-predicament. Taker countered about 3-4 minutes later with a brief flurry after he rolled out of the way of his own table predicament. By the 15 minute mark, then, it was time to shift gears again, this time with the involvement of Edge's pals: Chavo, Bam Neely, and the Edgeheads. The Edgeheads proved particularly ineffective, most just serving as collateral damage and tackling dummies for a few big spots. This set up Taker's apparent victory, as he gave Edge a Last Ride off the ladder and through a stack of tables.... but you know those pesky TLC Matches, they take a toll on you, so Taker was slow in ascending the ladder, giving Chavo Guerrero time to direct traffic and set up a final spot: as Taker was on the very top of the ladder in the middle of the ring, Chavo and Neely attacked. Chavo was swatted away, but Neely was able to cause the distraction that allowed Edge to recover and start teetering the ladder... and sure enough, Taker went flying through the air, crashing through a double-tall, double-wide stack of tables set up at ringside. With Taker motionless, and fans quietly hoping against hope for a Zombie Sit-Up That Never Came, Edge got a fresh ladder and climbed up to grab the World Title belt. New champ, great match, and now Taker is "banished" (though despite Vickie Guerrero's claims to the contrary, there's no reason to suspect this is any more than Taker's contractually stipulated annual 3-month break). Right around 25 minutes, and really effective, especially emotionally, as I don't think many expected Taker to lose. They played the moment right, too, staying on the air through Edge's celebration to end the PPV with Taker finally coming to and realizing (with visible welling-up in the eyeball region) what has happened. What a softy.

If you're going to be stacking PPVs one on top of each other, only two weeks apart, then WWE gets points for doing this one about as well as they could: they added the "extreme" gimmicks to all the matches, which helps but which is also a double edged sword (it raises expectations of something special in every match, and instead, it was clear in many matches they were content to just rely on smoke, mirrors, and cheap tricks to approximate intensity).

I'm sure someone, somewhere, will also lament that this PPV is the very reason why "extreme" matches are not worth the trouble, if the cost of them is Randy Orton injuring himself. The fact that I'd eschew that argument has nothing to do with the victim in this case, but simply with the pragmatic observation that said injury took place during a spot that wouldn't have been out of place on a standard edition of RAW. Nothing special or "extreme" about it. Just an accident and a spot gone wrong.

But mostly, the "extreme" gimmick gave us the context within which to spin the final chapter of the Taker/Edge yarn that's been building since January. Obviously: Taker isn't really a long-term champion at this point of his career, but just as obviously, once you go down a certain road, you also can't just ignore his legacy and ask him to lose a match at WrestleMania. So we got this kind of swervy path through Mania and through Taker's short-lived title reign, finally ending in June with Edge scoring a decisive and entertaining victory. And hell, with all the extracurriculars in said victory, and with Taker sure to be showing up -- oh, let's just say -- in time for SD!'s move to a new network, there's even a chance for further chapters. I still say these two are destined for a Hell in the Cell match, or else I'll eat a bug.

Pretty much same-old, same-old and a mixed bag of a PPV if taken as a whole. But with my long-standing bias that how you play out your main event is HUGE in terms of overall entertainment value, I'll go out on a limb and say that One Night Stand, at the very least, gets the nod over WWE's last two PPV efforts. Now: to turn the page, cuz we can't go another month with recycling 4-month old PPV rematches...

Well, except for Michaels/Batista/Jericho, maybe....

 
ORTON, REGAL, DESPERATE VINCE TALES, AND OTHER NEWS

  • At this point, there is no reliable news about the nature of Randy Orton's injury status. Obviously, those who saw the PPV know that it looked very real, and very painful. WWE's website has followed up, but only with vague confirmations of the announcer's speculation: that Orton had suffered an injury to his left collarbone and would be taken to a hospital for further evaluation.
     
    The nature of that further evaluation is unknown as of this early AM Monday writing.
     
    If one suspects the worst, then a broken collarbone would probably be something along the lines of a three month lay-off for Orton. A dislocation or strain would certainly be a shorter term problem.
     
    Actually, going through my mental notes on Orton, an ACTUAL worst case scenario might involve considering the fact that Orton has pre-existing structural weakness in both his shoulders (it's a condition along the lines of the thing that allows one to be "double-jointed," but in this case, it's merely resulted in a vulnerability to shoulder injuries for Orton in his career so far; he has yet to use it to perform cool tricks of any kind in the ring). As the old kiddie song goes, "the collarbone's connected to the shoulderbone," so a traumatic blow to one could certainly affect the other. And it was pretty obvious that even with the one or two simple bumps Orton had to take to finish off the match against HHH, he was keeping his entire left arm immobile as much as possible. So who knows precisely where the worst of the damage is located?
     
    In a way, the timing on this probably couldn't be better. And I don't mean that in a dick way or anything: I mean that, sincerely, if Orton were required to suffer an unfortunate injury, now might be the best time for him and for the company. Let's face it: his current little run and story arc were concluding at One Night Stand, injury or no. His character needed a "re-boot" and a new direction, and he'd be setting off along that new direction with zero momentum after having driven RAW's ratings into the ground during his title reign and then jobbing thrice to Triple H on PPV after it.
     
    Again, I don't mean to sound like a dick, there.... but pragmatically, this could mean that the next time we see him on TV in any significant capacity, it's with the taste of his recent outings fully washed out of our mouths, and with him able to start fresh. With the draft coming, certainly something along the lines of Evolution v2.0 (with Batista, or possibly even with Jericho as the Puppetmaster, or possibly with BOTH Batista and Jericho coming out of the Michaels storyline) would be do-able come late summer.
     
    Plus, when he comes back, they can just pretend that this whole ill-conceived nonsense with Orton's new entrance music never happened. Christ, WWE: you get a perfect marriage of memorably shitty doucherock and a memorably shitty douchebag, and you throw it all away? Then again, if the mission is to rebrand Orton as "the guy you see, who makes no impression on you whatsoever, and who you forget even exists 3 minutes later," then kudos to you for picking the perfect new theme for him. I guess.
     
    We'll just have to see. Expect an update on RAW tonight as to the severity of Orton's injury.... BUT, just as with Cena's injury last fall, you should probably also expect them to fudge the severity by a factor of 2, just to keep you on your toes.
     
  • Try as I might to be dismissive, Orton's injury does count as a loss to RAW... but it's not the first significant one in the past two weeks.
     
    Two weeks ago, William Regal was riding high as a break-out heel with countless possibilities for his "power mad" GM/King gimmick. I even outlined one good one (an "empty arena RAW") in a column, thinking that Regal was just the man to pull off such a one-time spectacle. His disregard for the fans had turned him into a genuinely despicable character, who could reasonably commit any deed out of sheer spite, and make you hate him all the more. Contrast this with the Vince McMahon character, whose antics in more recent years reek more of genuine disregard and disrespect for the fans, simply because we all know he is the For Real Boss, and thus, everytime he does something lame, we can't help but take it as an insult to our intelligence. Regal, on the other hand, is just the Fake GM, and it's fun to boo him if he's going to be a dick to us.
     
    It's hard to explain clearly, but I hope you get the distinction, there.
     
    Anyway, Regal was riding high, and then in the span of 24 hours, he went from seemingly scoping out talent on other brands at a PPV to being fired on RAW. D'oh.
     
    The reason: a failed drug test. That's Regal's second offense under the WWE Wellness Program, and it merits a 60-day suspension. Furthermore, Regal joins Jeff Hardy as the only other guy to have two "official" strikes against him under the program: a third means instant termination, no questions asked.
     
    That means, like Hardy, Regal may have lost a bit of the confidence of management, since they can't be certain they can rely on him should he be brought back and instantly re-pushed into a major role, without risking him being caught again and fired, mid-storyline. 'Tis a shame, but 'tis also the well-publicized price for dabbling with various prescription pharmaceuticals without proper permission.
     
    I will say this, though: WWE has specifically amended and rewritten their policy to allow for key TV characters to REMAIN on TV during suspensions, while not receiving pay/bonuses for house show/PPV matches. The policy was rewritten that way to accommodate a certain Mantard who shall remain nameless, since he just suffered an injury and I don't want to pile on.... but if ever there were a situation where using that clause MADE SENSE, it would have been here, in the case of Regal.
     
    What I mean is this: Regal's value is as a character, on TV, for one night per week. He doesn't have to be on PPVs or house shows, taking away a (paying) spot on the card from another wrestler to stay over... "Power Mad" Regal is a purely TV concoction, so he could be seamlessly written into his single non-wrestling (non-paying) TV appearance per week to keep storylines rolling and to keep taking advantage of his red hot character, all while not disrupting the actual pay structure or "sending the wrong message" to talents since Regal's not taking up space that should be given to non-demon-haunted performers.
     
    Instead, even with the clause in place, Regal's "fired" and written off TV. Oh well. If nothing else, the sheer hatred on his face as the idiot fans chanted the "Na na na nah, hey hey hey, goodbye" song at him gives me hope that when 60 days are up, a vindictive and angry Regal will return, connive his way back into a position of power, and resume being a phenomenal dickhead once again. Right up to and including that idea for the "empty arena RAW."
     
    Till then, if Regal's absence means Paul Burchill's getting to feud with Kennedy? That's not entirely a bad thing, either.
     
  • RAW's other major development last week? Scoring a 2.9 rating. Granted, it was Memorial Day, and that only represented a 10% drop from the recent non-holiday average, but there's something magical about dropping below the 3.0 line... and on top of that, WWE itself is now clearly in Desperation Mode when it comes to said ratings problems.
     
    Nowhere was that more clear than when Vince McMahon announced that he was just abandoning all pride and self-respect, and instead of counting on all of us nice, classy, and upstanding wrestling fans to freely surrender what Vince wants (our viewership) as long as he treats us nice, Vince is now going to slum it and seek out any cheap whore of a fan who'll put up with his shit and like it because he's paying for it. Paying us One Million Dollars for it.
     
    Great. Just great. I've always wanted to feel like a prostitute, and now, Vince has made that dream a reality. Yay.
     
    Look, there's nothing inherently, cosmically wrong with ratings stunts... but it just blows my mind that given the fairly straightforward nature of the problem, Vince and WWE could miss the point so completely and utterly. It's a time-tested maxim that when WWE tries to do "mainstream" gimmickry, they don't ACTUALLY lure any new viewers to their shows; from "Tough Enough" to "Diva Searches," the data speaks for itself. Giving away One Million Dollars (via whatever surely-convoluted scheme Vince announces in coming weeks) may serve as something of a placebo for fans who are already watching, but is anybody really prepared to make the case that non-fans or lapsed fans will see this as a reason to return to watching a 2 hour wrestling show every week? Especially when they could just cut out the middle man and see Idiot Game Show Content done the RIGHT way by The Master Regis Philbin on the new "Million Dollar Password"?
     
    And ultimately, that's why crap ideas like this annoy me: WWE has this hard-on for duplicating other genres (badly) even though we've seen time and time again that they're at their best when they celebrate THEMSELVES as their own unique genre. It's probably anathema to Vince to contemplate this, but sticking to the limitations of being a Pro Wrestling Show is what's gotten you where you are today. It's only when you've branched out and tried to be shitty reality shows or shitty fashion pageants or shitty movie producers or (now) a shitty game show that you really fall flat on your face and look silly.
     
    The million dollar give-away won't hurt ratings, I'm sure (I don't even know if that's possible at this point; I think right around 3.0 is probably the floor). But it's so far away from addressing any real problem in a constructive manner that it's frustrating to me. Frustrating that people are getting paid to either have this idea or to just blithely say "Oh yeah, Vince, that's a great idea." And frustrating that I can pretty much count on this being 15 minutes per week out of RAW that won't be worth my while.
     
    Tell you what: why don't we compromise? You go back to putting $250,000 into another Diva Search, WWE, and then give me the other $750,000 to shut up about it. That'd be a better use of your million, Vince, trust me.
     
  • What *would* fix ratings? I'm not sure I've got the time or patience to draw up a whole Map To Glory, or anything, but in general, I'd suggest taking advantage of the seeming "finality" of most of the currently running storylines.
     
    Honestly: in most cases, One Night Stand was a PPV of third- or fourth-time rematches. Them horses done been beat dead. Freshening up feuds and storylines (on both RAW and SD!) is positively vital. [The exception, of course, being the whole delicious mess with Jericho/Michaels/Batista, which actually spans brands.]
     
    I'm not entirely pessimistic about these chances, either... if nothing else, the return of the Brand Draft can't help but spruce things up. Granted, it's one of those monumentally simple ideas that should be happening every year without it being treated like a god-send, but after a three year hiatus, it's back, and yeah, it's probably a god-send. Thank you, Papa Vince: you've made this no-self-esteem-having streetwalker a very happy girl! Now pay me, sleezeball!
     
    I digress...
     
    In addition to the Draft, another development will be reshaping the Brand Structure this month, as WWE is discontinuing Heat. Formerly a highly-rated Sunday night TV show (at times, it hovered around a 5.0 cable rating), it had been relegated to a webcast with domestic viewers in the tens of thousands (and with a few overseas TV contracts that were the real reason they kept producing the show). Effective this month, WWE will now move all ECW tapings to Mondays, and pair the ECW brand with RAW a bit more closely. SmackDown! doesn't necessarily become a "stand-alone" brand, but will have to share ECW as WWE re-aligns things for this coming fall (when ECW will remain a widely available cable entity under the NBC/Universal banner, but SD! moves to the nearly-anonymous MyNetworkTV Network).
     
    Taking all that into consideration, one could quickly discern that there are two ways to handle this re-alignment... (1) in a way that genuinely helps all three brands and bolsters their rosters as they face differing challenges (in RAW's case, sinking ratings; in SD!'s case, a move to a half-a-network). Or (2) in a way that probably just does what all the other drafts have done, which is to solidify RAW at the expense of other brands.
     
    I happen to think it'd be fun and interesting to give Option #1 a try, but that's just me... I'd also be fine with just re-arranging the deck chairs, as the cliche goes, rather than truly screwing with anything at this point. To be honest, SD!'s roster isn't in horrible shape, but can't afford to be plundered. MVP's still working his way up to credibility, Rey Mysterio's due back within about a month (and would be a great foil to Edge over the summer), Edge (obviously) is pure gold, and even matches with the likes of Chuck Palumbo are now worth watching without Fast Forward just because of how entertaining Mick Foley has turned out to be on commentary. His "I was hanging out backstage earlier today taking notes" approach to storytelling reminds me of listening to a ballgame on radio, where the announcers travel with the team and get to know them, and aren't National Network ringers brought in for a single game with nothing but a one-sheet prepared by the Sports Information Director (or a dipshit giving directions in his earpiece). It's organic, conversational, and often illuminating; as opposed to coming across like the standard WWE Talking Points.
     
    And while plundering SD! just for the sake of plundering it would accomplish little but to ruin the tense equilibrium they've got going on Fridays where they are entertaining-if-not-quite-earthshattering, it'd accomplish even less in terms of helping RAW. I mean, with the guys they have in place, no matter how much WWE might want to "bump" MVP up to the A-show, there's no point if he's just going to slot right back in as a mid-carder with no upward mobility. So it's like I said: either be careful and really try to re-arrange things to help all the brands, or just give me some harmless deck chair moving (like Umaga to ECW; or rehabbed Regal to SD! to step in once Vickie runs her course; or merging the two tag titles and sticking all tag teams on one brand, and concentrating the divas on the other)...
     
    It's another "wait and see" deal, I guess, but we shouldn't have to wait long. The rumblings of whatever is to come (and I'm not talking about the stupid million dollar crap) should start tonight... not only do they need to lay the framework for the draft, but they need to start new things in motion for the next PPV, which is the second annual "Night of Champions." And here's WWE, with a ton of champions who don't have natural/obvious rivals in place.... Taker's banished, Orton's injured, what to do?
     
    Well, for starters, I guess if Mysterio's really ahead of schedule (he was slated for a late July return, but that might happen sooner), then he's a no-brainer to face Edge on SD!... on RAW, I'm partial to the idea of picking up a few loose threads of tension from the winter, and let Jeff Hardy lay claim to a WWE Title Shot against Triple H; last time they fought on PPV, Jeff won, and I'm still dying for that slow-simmering feud between the two where HHH is torn between respecting the kid's moxie and wanting to just turn him into Emo Goo for daring to stand between him and his Title. Neither of those two matches would really be "sexy" in the usual WWE Sense of wanting only proven headliners in main events, but I think both would be compelling matches and you also get an added free-pass from the fact that the "Night of Champions" gimmick is, itself, a selling point above and beyond the individual matches.
     
    Other championship considerations: Jericho's got the IC Belt, but at this point I can't see any need for it to be in the middle of the Batista/Michaels thing, so I might even have him lose it before the PPV (to Kennedy, maybe? then Kennedy/Burchill at the PPV); otherwise, Jericho/Batista/Michaels is three main events incongruously fighting over a midcard title.... MVP/Matt Hardy better still have one more in the tank, regardless of Hatt's recent "I'm better than you so I don't have to prove it again" shtick... Big Show/Kane for the ECW Title is happening whether we like it or not.... Mickie/Beth Phoenix is inevitable....  and that leaves the two utterly directionless tag titles (which is why I suggested merging them above); though to be honest, Ted DiBiase Jr.'s debut on RAW and his cocky claims about becoming a tag team champion in his debut match were pretty damned interesting. Is he setting up a Mystery Partner Angle? Or did he just channel his Inner Jay Bruce, and assume that upon debuting, all of creation would simply have to bow down to his all-encompassing awesomeness, allowing him to be a one-man tag team, destroying all in his path?
     
    I'm assuming the former, actually. Just, please, WWE: I'm beggin' ya.... if Cody Rhodes turning heel to be Teddy Junior's mystery partner is what you got, just don't. Don't. Cody's been a disappointment so far in his own right, and pulling that angle would only prolong Bob F. Holly's relevance to the tag title scene, which is part of the problem to begin with, here.
     
    Enough rambling about possible future developments. Just file this whole bullet point under "My Best Attempt to Be Cautiously Optimistic, Meant To Offset My Dickish Ranting About the Million Dollar Thing." I think WWE has intriguing options heading forward (at least part of me feels this way since it seems like none of them will involve Randy Orton! ZING!), and only time will tell if they explore those, or remain mired in the muck they've been in for oh so long...
     
  • WWE's got a public press conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles... from what I gather, it might touch on the Million Dollar Thing or other WWE shake-ups, but is mostly just an excuse to hold an event where Jimmy Kimmel's cameras will be on-hand. Along with Santino Marella, Roddy Piper, and Cousin Sal.
     
    Kimmel and Co. are based in LA, and the cataclysmic Santino/Sal showdown is taking place at this week's SD! (to air on Friday). The press conference will allow them to do an angle that will air on Kimmel's show in the days leading up to the Friday airing of Tuesday night's LA TV tapings. Sounds logical to me.
     
    I'm not sure precisely what kind of End Game they're going for with this Santino/Piper thing, but it's been entertaining as all hell so far, so I also don't really care. On the grounds that Cousin Sal ain't exactly Mr. T, I'm also assuming that he's just disposable cannon fodder here, and doesn't represent the final payoff to the Santino/Piper deal. And yes, kids, that means I'm suggesting MORE of Roddy Piper on TV... what can I say? I know he just signed a new deal to appear more frequently, and frankly, given the alternatives among WWE's younger crop, I can't say Roddy would actually be "blocking" anybody more deserving.
     
  • It's becoming less and less clear if Michael Hayes will be welcomed back to WWE when his current 60 day suspension is up... or at least, if he'll be brought back with all the same power and responsibilities he had before he left.
     
    Sent home after racially charged comments he drunkenly made to Mark Henry were brought to the attention of WWE management, Hayes was originally thought to be taking his token punishment, and that he'd be brought back (no pun intended) without prejudice. 
     
    WWE might be thinking again, however, after a few interviews (mostly with former employees like Lashley and Booker T) have painted a more upsetting picture of Michael Hayes... and on top of that, now there's a story going around about a NON-drunken diatribe by Hayes earlier this spring when WWE was courting the Presidential candidates. The various accounts seem to agree on Hayes' punchline: that he refuses to live in a country ruled by a black man, and that he swears he'll move to Canada if Obama is elected.
     
    Wow. Just: wow. I don't think it's Canada you meant, Hayes. It's West Virginia where you'd fit right in.
     
  • For those interested in a tale of significantly less dipshittery on the wrestling/politics front: Kane (doing his rare "Glen Jacobs" gimmick) made appearances at the Libertarian National Convention last week. You know: the socially liberal, fiscally conservative folks who hate big government. Mostly. But they're also flexible, because that's what thinking people have to do to get along unlike your standard braindead dogmatic zombies currently populating Washington.
     
    Heh. I always knew that Kane guy seemed alright. Outside of the bad-driving and girlfriend-killing and pyromania, anyway. It's just a crying shame that supporting a third party is THROWING YOUR VOTE AWAY!!!!!!
     
  • Gregory "Shane" Helms (a/k/a The Hurricane) was charged with assault and battery last week, stemming from an incident at a bar in North Carolina (where Helms is home rehabbing a neck injury).
     
    From all available reports, this sounds more like a "it took two to tango" situation, but since Helms got the better of the fight, and he's the big bad pro wrestler, he got charged. Kind of like when Sean O'Haire got in trouble last year. Except that Shane Helms isn't 6'6". Or a documented sociopath. Or asking for it.
     
    Other than that, though: same deal. I believe he's got a court date in July, and is realistically only facing a fine, since beating up townies isn't exactly his usual recipe for fun on a Saturday night.
     
  • Although Ric Flair remains in the employ of WWE (and is expected to fill a non-wrestling role at some future point), the company doesn't want to sour fans by bringing Flair back too soon or otherwise cheapening the intended permanence of his "retirement."
     
    As such, a few non-WWE bookings for Flair appear to be shaping up for this summer, as he makes a few "farewell" rounds of spots where it'd be impractical for WWE to tread. Chief among these will be Flair attending an NWA Hall of Fame ceremony to be inducted into said august body. I'm sure it's every bit as plush and awe-inspiring as the WON Hall of Fame housed in Dave Meltzer's mom's basement.
     
    Oh, I keed, I keed. I mean, at least the NWA letters *used* to mean something to well-adjusted wrestling fans. Which is more than you can say for the WON ones. ZING~!
     
    Anyway, old school fans out there, especially ones throughout the south, might want to keep an eye out for Flair popping up at a show or ceremony near you in the coming months. He's got carte blanche to do so from WWE, and the earliest I've heard that anybody thinks he'd be back on WWE TV is late summer or whenever they get done with his latest DVD box set.
     
  • Lastly, we'll touch quickly on some TNA tidbits. Yep, they're still chugging along, holding relatively steady in the ratings and with another PPV coming up this weekend...
     
    Probably the biggest thing to be aware of is that, at present, the hope is that Kurt Angle will compete at full strength in a match against AJ Styles this Sunday. Kurt aggravated his chronically bad neck last month, sat out a PPV main event, and was physically limited in appearances at TV tapings the past few weeks. But they did all the bells and whistles and whatnot to make the Angle/Styles match for the PPV official, so clearly Kurt (and management) are under the impression he'll be able to go.
     
    Then again: the nature of the match/story is such that if they need to limit Angle in any way, they can. To be honest, I can't imagine being less interested in an Angle/Styles match, just because of the lameness of the story/characterizations heading into it. Kurt's back to his "roll your eyes and just move along" worst (last seen when he was bad-mouthing America and attempting to rape Booker T's wife on national TV). Karen Angle is one pretty MILF, but also quite an annoyingly poor actress when forced to take the "Roll Your Eyes" Version of Kurt seriously. And let's just say that for as fun and believable as AJ was as a naive little country boy, it's just as painful to watch him now being portrayed as Captain Amazing with powers of intellect and gravitas mere mortals can barely comprehend.
     
    Anyway, with all the soap opera crappiness, they can do a Sports Entertainment Segment that masks any limitations Kurt might have. And then, maybe in a future month, they can get it right. I mean, looking at how the characters played out during the FUN part of the story, how hard would it be to have Kurt just matter-of-factly saying "Look, woman, I don't love you, I don't care about you, but I married you and I own you, so do what I say" to Karen, and saying "Look, wonderboy, you want to poke my disgusting hosebeast of a wife, fine, but just to save face, now I will have to beat you up for it" to Styles? Then Karen can keep being offended (but not forced to any bad-actory outbursts of indignation), Styles can keep befriending Karen knowing that they're "just friends" and that no matter how cute of a naive little southern tard he is he still has the in-ring ability to match up with Kurt and to hell with the other drama, and everybody can play off of their strengths, instead of exposing weaknesses....
     
    But no: Kurt's a raving lunatic who wants to put his family life right back together the way it used to be, Karen's a spineless (and whiny) prop, and AJ is superman. Whee.
     
    As usual, TNA also has all of their top guys kind of intermingling, even AJ and Angle... this month, that's because of the "King of the Mountain" gimmick match, which has traditionally been used to dethrone a long standing champion in a match where the odds are stacked against him. This year, it'll be used to continue the building-uppening of Samoa Joe, who I assure you is a lead pipe cinch to win said match and retain his title.
     
    There's kind of two sides to that coin, as yes, it's a good idea to build Joe up (last month, it was Steiner who kind of got thrown to the wolf in what I assume will be his last real sniff of anything main-event-y) and making use of the King of the Mountain is a perfect way to do it. On the other hand, in order to not compromise future SERIOUS contenders to Joe's TNA Title, they didn't really stack the KotM line-up with all top stars. They went out of their way to keep Styles and Angle out of the match (to settle their own tangential issue), and have spent two weeks pretty much telegraphing that "The feud you SHOULD be caring about is Kevin Nash vs. Joe" (all while keeping Nash safely on the fringes of the story/match). Thus, we arrive at a KotM match where TNA is asking us to accept Bobby Roode as a possible TNA Champ. Blargh.
     
    Still, it's in all the interactions of various stars that TNA still has its strength. The KotM line-up itself isn't the strongest it could be, but if you combine the 8 KotM Attempted Qualifiers with Angle and AJ (and then throw in Nash), there's some interesting stuff going on. Heel/face status is in flux, and alliances even more so. In particular, the Dudleys and Booker T teaming up is a potential goldmine if they hit the right notes with them (playing up the fact that they have a combined 487 WWE/WCW titles among them, and are now slumming it in TNA; bonus points if they form a full time faction, and call themselves "The Titans" as a reference to WWF's old parent company; Nash would make a great fourth). And you've even got Sting as an outlier in all this; he's been involved with those 10 guys lately, but has been off TV doing interviews lately. Of course, in his interviews, he's referencing the Ultimate Warrior and Jeff Jarrett extensively, so maybe he's just weaving ore potential players into the mix? 
     
    Not included in my complimentary diatribe about TNA's mixing and meshing: Abyss. Maybe it's just me, but that dude is just his own separate thing, and that thing is usually hella stupid. No matter how hard they try, he's not going to turn into TNA's version of Mankind-morphing-into-Mick Foley. Does anybody out there NOT fast-forward the cheesy Abyss segments each week on Impact?
     
    Other than KotM and Angle/AJ, I'm actually somewhat ashamed to report that I'm not sure what the rest of this weekend's Slammiversary PPV card is... well, somewhat ashamed, and also somewhat tempted to use it as an illustrative device regarding TNA's lack of attention to the underneath stuff. I know there's the LAX/Dudleys tag title match, but that's about it, match-wise. I also know the Jay Lethal/SoCal Val "remake" of the Macho Man/Miss Elizabeth wedding is finally going to take place (presumably with Sonjay Dutt in the role of Jake Roberts). WHAT OF CURRYMAN??!!!??? AND GAIL KIM????? AND.... UMMMM, SEVERAL OTHER TOP TNA STARS THAT I'M SURE I LIKE VERY MUCH?????? BUT MOSTLY GAIL KIM, NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT???!!!!!??
     
    Anyway, Slammiversary is TNA's big annual birthday-to-itself show. If they have stops, this is the one where they'd pull them out. Impact's on Thursday night if you want to get caught up, and I assure you I'll be back here on Sunday night or early next Monday with relevant results and fall-out from the show.
     
    But for now, I think I've got you up to speed on all the news that's fit to print from around the wrestling world. So I'll bid you adieu. And also warn you that if Jay Bruce is coming to a town near you this week, you'd best either buy a ticket and wear your Red to the game, or prepare to die. The heavenly light that surrounds and emanates from Baseball Jesus will save the righteous, but if you are a heathen, I've been assured that it burns. Oh, it burns. Just ask the City of Atlanta. Specifically Tim Hudson. He dared to question the Mighty Bruce, and he wasn't just beaten for his insubordination (well, he was beaten, too, but not EXCLUSIVELY beaten); he had his very hamstring plucked from his body and torn asunder.
     
    I doubt very seriously Chase Utley will survive Jay Bruce's upcoming visit, what with his shameless theft of Bruce's NL Player of the Week award. BRUCE WILL SHOW NO MERCY~!
     
    Later on, kids.....


  
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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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