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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Hardy/Angle Legal Updates, TONS of Huge Legends News (Rock, Flair, Bret, Hogan, Sting), and MORE!
October 1, 2009

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

A couple of Opening Thoughts before I scratch you people where you itch...
 
For one (1): if you are in any way associated with the Low Cost Replica Watch Industry, let me assure you that I'm not buying and I hate you so very, very much. Please stop emailing me.
 
Seriously: STOP. I'm used to getting about two dozen legit emails per day (more right after I write full columns or after PPVs or major news events, but never much more than 50, these days), and then at least 700 spam mails per day. It's not a good ratio, but at least I'm used to it.
 

But the past 5 days, that ratio has been blown out of the water: I did over 3000 spam mails each of the past two days (after closer to 1500 the previous couple days). And though I have filtration in place so that I don't actually have to SEE the mails (they collect in their own folder and are auto-deleted after a weeklong stay-of-execution -- just in case something real accidently ends up in the junk bin), I had to examine why this was... and the answer was: 90% of the mails want me to buy fake Rolexes and shit.
 
So to whoever bought a mailing list, or whoever did the research to isolate onlineonslaught as a high-traffic domain that you could deluge with spam, or whatever it is that caused this: STOP! I got your message, and I ain't biting. You may desist. I guess I'd offer to buy a shitty $40 watch just to shut you up, but nah: I got my pride. In recent years, even *I* have been forced to carry a cellphone with me, so I always know what time it is, and the truth is: men don't wear jewelry. Well: men intending to be taken seriously don't. [Suck on that, every "man" who has a piercing of any kind! I mean: I hope YOU like it, and it makes you feel better about yourself, and stuff, but NObody else who looks at a male stranger with a piercing has EVER thought "Oh, yes, that's much better. You sucked without it, but now you're awesome. Kudos on your self-decoration, Nancy." It's always a minus. Maybe you have enough other plusses to pull it off, but if I see you and I don't know you, you just made a Fashion Choice that equates to a hole you're gonna have to dig yourself out of with me. Why make extra work?] So since cellphones can't yet cinch the cuffs of a dress-shirt, there's still only one item of (functional) jewelry The Rick will own, and it ain't a stupid bedazzlered watch. 
 
Maybe I can set you up with email addresses of some of my mom's friends, or something? They still think fancy watches are cool, I bet. Cologne, too. Not to mention: moustaches! But speaking on behalf of men of my age and my orientation: we'll pass on the jewelry. Leave us alone. I'm not a supremely busy man or anything, but when it takes 3 minutes for my email to download (even if I just checked it 4 hours ago), even *I* get annoyed. So just stop it, asswipes!
 
And for two (2): I hate everything, but I think I might love "Community" (Thursday nights, only on NBC). A TV show hasn't hit me this solid right-out-of-the-gate since "The Office" (US version), and that held up pretty well for a while. Now, "The Office" just might be relegated to being the 3rd-funniest show on NBC on Thursday, only partly because of it's own unfortunate decline, and mostly due to "Community" featuring Chevy Chase being the most-hilarious he's been since "Fletch." If only he were a hot girl who was all smart and funny and wore glasses and only-6-years-older-than-me-instead-of-a-senior-citizen, I might even fly off the handle and put "Community" ahead of "30 Rock" on the Thursday night depth-chart...
 
But let's not get crazy. Yet. It's only been two episodes so far (and one was a pilot that was noticeably disconnected from the first "real" episode). Just maybe give the show a look if you get a chance. Five years ago, who'da thunk Alec Baldwin and Chevy Chase would be stealing the shows on the two best sitcoms on TV? Not me... but it's probably true. 
 
Or maybe not: so long as I'm a man who thought "The Mullets" was cancelled far too soon and just when it was getting good, perhaps my taste in sitcoms is faulty.
 
Enough rambling. Here's your rasslin' news:
  • Lotsa stuff has gone down in the two weeks since last we talked, folks, so I figure we can either go Chronological, or we can go Order Of Import... I tend to forget/miss fewer things if we go Chronological, but on the other hand, I don't need you zoning out right here at the top (before I can even harangue you about a DONATION) because I'm talking about some obscure newsbite from mid-September, so...
     
    Let's start with something that happened yesterday, and just try to keep you interested for as long as I can..
     
    Yesteday, Jeff Hardy was arraigned on his five felony (and one misdemeanor) charges.  There's an absolute gag order on Jeff and any of his wrestler friends (I was NOT joking about that last time, when I said his lawyers made him pull all his blogs/twitter/myplace stuff and ordered him to not do any interviews, for his own good), and sadly, what I have by way of "sources" are wrestling people. I'm not a self-fashioned "journalist" like others I could mention who have the time and energy to go calling the Moore County Courthouse, and sit on hold for an hour to talk to a spokesperson, so pretty much all I can tell you is the barebones stuff.
     
    Which is to say that Jeff and his team have decided to maintain their innocence, and now nothing else is scheduled to happen until a new November 4 court date.
     
    Now, if I may simply ramble and talk out of my ass (instead of doing "journalism"): this probably just means that we're still in the process of some form of plea bargain being worked out in the end. If you followed along with my updates a few weeks ago, you know Jeff was essentially "over-charged" with the intent (1) getting him to cop to lesser charges or (2) give prosecutors multiple options (i.e. try him once for the Class III drugs, and another for the "opium trafficking," even though they ARE THE SAME FRICKING OFFENSE) should they have to actually go to trial.
     
    Obviously, Jeff wasn't gonna just roll over and plead guilty yesterday and take his 13 years in jail like a man. So he didn't. And now, we move forward with the process. 
     
    As I've maintained all along, I'm not exactly sure how I feel about all this, but I know whatever outcome we get, I hope it's one that considers the general well-being of Jeff Hardy to be more important than Blind Justice. Regardless of the BS "trafficking" charges, this is a guy who has committed a crime where he is the only victim, so going whole hog and 13 years in prison seems pretty dumb; on the other hand, this is a guy who is one sick puppy and needs to get his screwed up priorities fixed, so a plea bargain/wrist slap with zero jail time and half-assed probation (which is what Former SemiStar and Current OO Legal Analyst/Crime-Fighter-in-Residence Erin Anderson says is 98% likely to happen) doesn't strike me as productive either.
     
    It's a confusing matter that I've not yet made my peace with, to say the least. We'll just have to see how the chips fall, I guess...
     
    On the wrestling side, there ARE a few Hardy-related tidbits I can tell you about....
     
    For one, any time CM Punk references Jeff Hardy in his promos, it's at the direct behest of Vince McMahon. This started back at the last PPV, when Vince made Punk re-cut a pretaped promo to mock Hardy's situaiton. The creative team had no intentions of building it into "storylines" (so this isn't something being done with a long-term goal of setting the stage for Jeff's return) and Punk himself had no desire to go that route and takes no joy in Jeff's downfall. But Vince has decided this is what makes HIM happy, so: we get it.
     
    That's fine with me, especially if we've kind of had our "fun" and now let it fade into the past. Punk NOT referencing Hardy (given events and their established on-screen personas) would have been every bit as awkward and stilted as referencing him has seemed cheap and petty, so you basically have to pick the lesser of two evils. And this one actually does help reinforce Punk as one of the most interesting heels in a long time: unlike a lot of heels who are two-faced chickenshits (like Edge), Punk can use Hardy as yet another example of how he boasts and claims the moral high ground and backs it up and TOLD YA SO and yet, despite being ABSOLUTELY IN THE RIGHT, he still gets booed.
     
    I don't think we've had anything quite this remarkable since Bret Hart's last six months in the WWF in 1997. It's just fun and compelling to hate that dicknozzle Punk... but if you stop and think about it, you realize how upside down it all is and how you should be cheering... which just infuriates you all the more at his sanctimious (and right) preaching, so you boo him even louder... I dig that, and it really is straight out of the '97 "babyfaces everywhere but America" Hart Foundation act.
     
    Second Jeff Hardy item from inside WWE: they have scrapped the release of a Hardy DVD that had been hastily prepared late last month... with WWE unable to convince Jeff to stick around in ANY capacity (obviously, Jeff just really wanted to get out of there to Pursue His Other Hobbies), they decided the only way to capitalize on his red-hot final run was to rush a DVD to market. It would have been released in about a month, so as to be readily available for the holiday buying season.
     
    Now, the mostly-finished DVD production has been shelved. It will almost certainly be revisited at some later date (albeit, likely with a different ending), but only after enough things happen that make it palatable for WWE to be in the Jeff Hardy Business. Not only do they have to consider the public relaitons ramifications of trying to profit off Hardy, but you almost have to consider the ramifications of HARDY profitting off of Hardy (since he gets copious DVD royalties if they release a set based on his career). This just ain't the right time.
     
    But I'm sure there will -- convict or innocent, addict or sober -- be a right time at some point in the not-to-distant future. As we've said for ages: hell has a way of freezing over with some regularity in pro wrestling.
     
  • While Jeff's legal status is still way up in the air, another noted screw-up is mostly in the clear:
     
    Kurt Angle -- arrested on multiple charges in July -- saw most of the charges against him dismissed last week. Drug charges were dismissed because Angle could produce a valid doctor's note, and the charges associated with stalking his girlfriend were dismissed when said girlfriend (TNA's Rhaka Khan) got all flustered and self-contradictory under a purposely-intense and confrontational cross-examination by Angle's sleazeball attorneys.
     
    The only remaining charges against Angle are the ones that preceded the above incident(s): before driving around with drugs in his car to stalk a woman who had obtained a restraining order against him, Angle stands accused of physically assaulting said woman. Those charges stand, and Angle has to return to court to deal with them later this month.
     
    You know me: I abhor the "letter of the law" and the legal gamesmanship that it encourages, but it appears that Angle and his crew of lawyers have mastered the Dark Art. Angle was cleared on a DUI charge last year, not because he didn't do it (he did) but because the cops only tracked down the driver of a swerving vehicle after he'd gotten home (where Angle could claim he'd JUST NOW started drinking, which is why he was drunk NOW, but not when he was driving 20 minutes ago). Now, Angle is cleared of the drug charge because he has a doctor's note, but nobody stops to ask "What the hell would a sane man be doing with used syringes and drugs rolling around on the floor of his car"; innocent? Sure, but it still doesn't sound like the behavior of a well man. 
     
    And I have ZERO love for a guy who gets cleared due to a woman being unable to keep her story 100% consistent under cross-examination when THAT VERY SAME GUY IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST BATSHIT INSANE, SELF-PROMOTING SELF-CONTRADICTOR OF ALL TIMES. And when Angle tells all manner of self-serving lies, he's doing it on purpose, and only under the Brutal Cross Examination of a guy who willingly refers to himself as a "Love Sponge." But I guess he's not doing it under oath, so fair play to ya, schmucko!
     
    If you're wondering why I'm so capable of being conflicted/uncertain about the Hardy situation, and of being such a hyperbolic jerkface about Angle: well, there's two things in play... the big one: in this latest situation, Angle actually stands accused of a crime that has a victim. That's where I actually CAN start to get a little bit vengeancey. And a lesser second thing: by all accounts, Angle (like Hardy) would actually be better served by SOMEbody considering his situation from an "overall wellness" standpoint rather than putting all their energy into the letter-of-the-law/legal standpoint. But since Angle is able to pull his shit together and operate reasonably well the half-dozen days per month he needs to be in front of a camera (or in front of a judge, presumably), it seems folks are willing to turn a blind eye to what's going on at all other times in this guy's life.
     
    That's just not a good deal. And it's extra-frustrating when you consider the oddest twist of all: if something doesn't change with regards to Angle, it's entirely possible that WWE (yes, THAT WWE) will inhabit the Moral High Ground and have behaved the most responsibly with regards to Kurt Angle, The Man, when all is said and done. Cutting bait with Angle when he wouldn't go along with WWE's wellness plans for him (including an enforced vacation) cost them money but was a case of true Tough Love.
     
    You know something's messed up when you're putting "WWE" and "Moral Responsibility" in the same sentence...
     
  • After that start-to-the-column, let's wash the bad taste of legal proceedings out of our mouth with some Happy News:
     
    FINALLY.... The Rock has come back to SmackDown!
     
    For the first time in 2 years, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will appear on WWE TV this weekend, when he participates in the 10th Anniversary Special Episode of SmackDown. It's a pretaped piece, but it's lengthy and (by most accounts) absolutely show-stealingly funny.
     
    When WWE secured the Rock's services, they also agreed in principle to have him come in to be a Guest Host on an upcoming RAW. Details haven't been confirmed, but two people I talked to both said that WWE very badly wants to get The Rock for one of the two remaining 3-hour Special RAWs they've got before the end of the year. Which makes sense... the general template for Guest Hosted RAWs seems to be 80% Ongoing Storylines and 20% Random Guest Host Antics, and you can't skew that TOO much more in favor of the host without it becoming counter-productive. So how do you get Maximum Rock? You get him for a 3 hour show, rather than letting him dominate a 2 hour one at the expense of your actual roster.
     
    Although SD's quality has declined drastically in the last month (surprise, surprise: Vince McMahon decides to stick his nose in and "fix" something that wasn't broken, and it goes straight into the shitter), this weekend's show should be worth a look if you're any kind of fan. Even if you're a lapsed fan. Maybe ESPECIALLY if you're a lapsed fan.
     
    In addition to The Rock, the whole show is essentially a Sports Entertainmenty Party, with only 3 matches (including a very good tag match and the marquee 8-man/cross-brand main event of Cena/DX/Taker vs. Punk/Legacy) and a whole lot of nostalgia and fun. We'll have full coverage/recappage here at OO, if you want, but you really should think about checking this one out.
     
    And remember: if you can't find MyNetworkTV (or have better things to do on a Friday night), Hulu.com remains just about greatest waste of time in the world, what with all kinds of free TV shows and movies. Including SmackDown.
     
  • If you can't find MyTV, there may also be a very good reason why: it's no longer a network. Literally. They've been removed from Nielsen network ratings and reclassified as a syndication package.
     
    This is because of a drop in market coverage and the virtual end of first-run programming (besides SD) provided by MyTV. Originally, affiliates signed up for 3-year contracts with MyTV, but as we discussed earlier this year: when MyTV realized it was going tits-up, they rejiggered the contracts to allow affiliates out after one year.
     
    Well, it's the new fall season, and maybe you've discovered that wherever you MyTV affiliate was before, it's no longer there. Ooops.
     
    This is not good news for WWE, but it's also not the end of the world... MyTV was a shitty pretend-network when WWE agreed to move there. They knew what they were getting into (or should have, anyway). MyTV did them no favors in terms of exposure or growing a NEW audience, but fans who really cared could always find SD... and even with this latest development, they still will.
     
    So long as WWE has a show that people want to watch, somebody will be willing to air it. The only complication is that -- as a syndicated offering, rather than on a real network -- "Friday Night SmackDown" may become a misnomer. A real channel in your market buys up the MyTV package, mostly for SD, but they can't show it on Friday night if they're already showing Jay Leno or the Ghost Whisperer or Whatever-the-hell-is-on-FOX... you'll still be able to watch the show, I'm sure, but the whens and wheres will no longer be the same for everybody across the nation.
     
    I know I've spotted my local FOX affiliate re-running SD on Saturdays, since Dayton's MyTV station is actually just a digital sub-channel operated by the FOX station... I don't know what kind of ratings the replay does, but they wouldn't be doing it if nobody was watching... kinda makes me wonder about a possible renaissance of the old "Saturday Morning Rasslin" of my youth... nothing says "grade school glory days" like waking up to go to my bowling league, and then coming home just in time for back-to-back "Superstars of Wrestling" and "American Gladiators." Ahhh, memories.
     
    If WWE is dead-set on being all G-rated and kid-friendly, maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to revisit that market: put your goddamned sissified kid show on Saturday morning where it belongs. And then entertain the grown-ups in prime time.
     
    [Quick Did You Know: Did you know that even after a full year of G-Rated crapola, the average age of RAW's audience is 38? THIRTY-FRICKING-EIGHT! You've got a problem, WWE, when you're doing a kids show, and attracting an audience where *I* am one of the youngest, hippest viewers still putting up with you. I may not be in your target market of 12-year-olds, but I'm not THIRTY-FRICKING-EIGHT, either. You've got some seriously screwed up things going on up there at Titan Tower....]
     
  • Speaking of goofy things at Titan Tower... Linda McMahon stepped down as CEO of WWE two weeks ago (Vince assumes the title). Why?
     
    So she can run for Connecticut's Senate seat in 2010.
     
    I warned you about this a month ago, but said there's no way it would ACTUALLY come to pass... well, she's at least gonna give it a go, and so far, is being taken pretty much seriously.
     
    But you know how OO rolls: why be serious if you don't have to be... so if you want a quick read covering Linda's candidacy, why not make it a fun one with quotes from such wrestling luminaries as Lanny Poffo and Lucious Johnny V and The Greatest Wrestling Mind On The Planet (and no, I'm not talking about Jim Cornette, who is a dirty thief who stole an almost direct quote from an old column of mine when contemplating Vince-in-proximity-to-a-Senator)?
     
    Luckily for you, just such a Quick Read exists over at The Daily Beast. So check it out.
     
  • Ric Flair's retirement ended up lasting about 18 months.
     
    He's agreed to don the tights to wrestle Hulk Hogan on a tour of Australia at the end of November. They've announced 4 shows over 10 nights, with Hogan/Flair as the headliner, and a supporting cast that includes the expected Friends Of Hogan (Brutus Beefcake, Nasty Boys) and some more modern-day stars (Umaga, Ken Kennedy; both with alternate names).
     
    In addition to being Flair's Unretirement, the tour is being treated as the start to Hogan's Retirement Tour. He's finally semi-mobile after a round of surgeries, and by all accounts wants to milk his ailing body while he still can: divorce apparently hasn't treated his bank accounts too well, so Hulky wanty money.
     
    Something making the rounds is that Hogan very badly wants his "retirement tour" to end up in WWE after he finishes up doing business on his own over in alternate hemispheres. Not only for the payday, but just for the "proper send-off" that we all gave Flair 18 months ago.
     
    A recent radio appearance by Hogan could be viewed as the early stages of him campaigning for a farewell feud against Chris Jericho. He put Jericho over massively, complimenting his recent heel work and singling him out as the one guy he'd pick to fight if he only had one more match in him.
     
    Nobody accuse me of starting a rumor, or anything, but with indications that Edge's recovery from achille's tendon surgery is going slower than expected, maybe Jericho will need a DIFFERENT frail opponent to face at next year's WrestleMania? He wouldn't be able to work the same miracle that he did with Steamboat, but I bet Jericho could pull it off. And depending on how you play the storyline, Hogan even gets to work again with his good buddy, Big Show. [This could even be the final end game to the inevitable Jericho/Show break-up.]
     
    But like I said, I'm NOT starting a rumor. So if you repeat that, keep my name out of it.
     
  • Since we're on the topic of old guys retiring/unretiring...
     
    Bret Hart's name is being mentioned a lot by people who think he's on the cusp of returning to WWE in some sort of on-screen/semi-regular capacity.
     
    And it turns out, it's not just kneejerk smark speculation because WWE did a screwjob ending in Montreal 3 weeks ago... rather, the inclusion of that screwjob was allegedly inserted specifically because there had been a round of talks between Hart and WWE leading up to the show, and WWE wanted to put a little something in place, "just in case." So the talk about Hart is real, in that sense.
     
    What's not so real is my own personal faith that this would end well... Hart's been mythologized to the point that expectations for his "return" would be ginormous. Which is tough, since what he could actually contribute is kinda minimal. We're not talking about fans setting themselves up for a possible let down. We're talking about a whole other realm of Virtually Inevitable Monumental Catastophic Disappointment.
     
    I mean, Hart suffered a head injury that ended his career, and then a later stroke... he's back in pretty decent shape, all things considered, but he is simply NOT eligible for anything that would involve an actually full-on wrestling match. So you're left with a guy who'd have to be a non-active figurehead... and to suggest that Bret's strengths EVER tended towards the talky or the entertainy would be foolish. He was the Excellence of Execution for what he did inside the ring, not because of the character he was outside of it. Well: at least, not until the aforementioned final six months in the WWF, when he did become a legit heat magnet.
     
    And after those six months, he went to WCW and was right back to being what he always was: a guy who you count on for great matches, not a guy who you'll ever really lean on for great stories/personality. I mean, even with the Screwjob still fresh in everyone's memory, Hart's mega-star babyface sheen had pretty much worn off after 2 months, and nobody remembers ANYthing about hiw WCW career. 
     
    I fear a return to WWE would be much like that jump to WCW: incredibly high expectations, with no reasonable expectations that they could ever be accomplished. The ship has long since sailed on some sort of major, blow-away angle with Bret/Vince, and why do I suspect fans would be underwhelmed if they found out Bret was coming back just to hang around and mentor the Hart Dynasty? It's a tough spot...
     
    But we'll see... again, this is something that's still in the talking stages, but it is also something that I promise you is real, so it'll be keeping in mind until the Powers That Be decide, one way or the other, how seriously to pursue Hitman v2.0.
     
  • Want one more in the general "retirement" area of discussion? Oh, OK:
     
    TNA now expects Sting to remain with the company following the Bound For Glory PPV, and has creative in place for him through the end of the year. That PPV would mark the end of Sting's contractual obligations to the company per his last contract, and the early promotion of the show heavily implied that it'd be his farewell match.
     
    Now, the thinking is that TNA wants to do their own version of the WWE "proper send-off," and make Sting's farewell mean something, rather than have it as a sudden announcement or a random occurance with only 1 month of hype. It's unclear if Sting's actually going for yet another 1-year contract extension (this would mark the third straight year he wanted to retire in October, but decided to re-up at the last second, instead), or if they'll go forward with a shorter term deal, but I know the hope is that Sting will go along with the plans no in place, which calls for a several-month "retirement tour" type of deal, with the proper build up to a farewell match.
     
  • Let's keep on with a little flurry of TNA news...
     
    There's talk that the company may drastically change its PPV model in 2010, at the conclusion of their current distribution deals... TNA's TV ratings are solid, but their PPV buyrates are miserable; despite having a domestic TV audience that's essentially one-third of WWE's, they only do one-tenth as many PPV buys as WWE. That's out of whack, and proves that even though TNA has engaged a healthy fan base, they can't convince them that their shows are worth paying for.
     
    So a solution being considered: cutting back to as few as 6 PPVs per year to make them more special. Because of the extremely tiny number of buys TNA's doing and because of the extremely huge discrepancy above in terms of converting TV viewers into PPV viewers, this is actually an entirely reasonable ploy for TNA to consider. For them, it'd actually be possible to increase revenue by decreasing PPVs; buys are low enough now and the potential audience (weekly Impact viewers) is large enough that the math EASILY allows for them doulbing their PPV audience such that 6 genuinely-compelling shows would net more money than the current 12 that nobody's watching.
     
    That's IF they can figure out how to do 6 genuinely compelling shows. A big If, indeed.
     
    This is something WWE has done (reducing PPVs from a peak of 16 as recently as 2007, down to the current 14), but not something they can do much more of.... the math doesn't work for them, since PPV still generates a goodly amount of money and they don't have the same evidence of a "failed conversion rate" like TNA does. But for TNA: this makes sense to consider. Not only does the math work, but so does the logic: cut back on PPVs, make them good, convince the fans that PPVs are worth paying for, revenues hold steady (or maybe even increase) despite fewer shows, the "conversion rate" comes up closer to WWE's, and suddenly you can even start thinking about adding PPVs back... because you've "trained" the fans that TNA PPVs are worthwhile.
     
  • Nothing new on the Angelina Love/visa issue mess: TNA's still acting like Angelina screwed up, most rational people actually place the blame on TNA, and there's a whole lot of red tape that's gonna have to be dealt with before this is resolved.
     
    Something that may bode ill for the prospects of Angelina/TNA getting back in business together any time soon: TNA has hired Lacey von Erich (who'd been in WWE developmental until earlier this year) with the promise that she'd be Angelina's replacement in The Beautiful People. At the very least, that seems to indicate to me that TNA has no expectations of Angelina being back at any time in the next several months...
     
  • Let's make sure you're up-to-date on ratings. Since last we discussed them, we've seen the start of the NFL season, and as you might expect, RAW's taken a hit.
     
    The Trish episode of RAW (on the first night of Monday NIght Football) did a 3.4 rating, a dip from the previous week's 3.8; if you're looking for a good sign, it'd be that viewership increased over the course of the show that week. 
     
    Next, Cedric the Entertainer did another 3.4, with the audience level holding mostly steady over the course of the 2 hours.
     
    Finally, this week (with Al Sharpton) did a 3.1 (again, ratings were steady). That is RAW's lowest rating of the year, and is a pretty good sign that the allegedly pressing issues heading into this weekend's PPV haven't exactly captured the imaginations of the fans.
     
    I mean, yes, Al Sharpton is a crappy host. But still: if your core product is strong, you wouldn't be seeing a significant loss of viewers prior to a major show. Some of this could also be due to football... but again: we saw the impact of the debut week of MNF, and it took RAW down below it's year-to-date average of 3.7... something else was in play for that number to dip again to the 3.1.
     
    It's not gonna get any easier next week; Ben Rothlisberger is guest host (and yes, it is confirmed that he's bringing his offensive line with him, so if you're the type sportstalkradio dipshit hyperfan who knows why that's funny -- or a Steelers' fan who thinks the O-line is the opposite of funny -- you may commence with your fantasy booking). And yet, the only quarterback anybody will be caring about next Monday will be Brett Favre, as he takes on the Packers for the first time; it'll probably be the highest rated MNF game of the season.
     
  • To answer some emails: yes, the [redacted] Khali is gonna be off TV for sometime. That angle with Kane was to give him the time he needs to have knee surgery... his knees have actually been bad for a while, and he'd planned on the surgery a while back, but WWE convinced him to tough it out for several extra months to establish his face run.
     
    I don't know the precise nature of his injuries or what the timetable is for a return. And let's be honest, if I did, and I told you, would you really care? The less one has to think about Khali, the better, says I. Revel in his absence! Don't waste energy wondering about his return!
     
  • WWE has addressed the Ring Announcer Situation by moving Justin Roberts over to RAW to replace Lilian Garcia. Meantime, his old job on SmackDown is the one that'll eventually be filled by the New Girl.
     
    She did the Anthem and a dark match at this week's SD tapings, but for the actual show, Josh Mathews was the ring announcer. So that appears to be the current stop-gap...
     
  • Tiffany -- the erstwhile General Manager of ECW -- is gonna be MIA for at least a few weeks. She broke her arm training down in FCW, and apparently will be requiring surgery.
     
    So that's why they did the thing on Tuesday with Regal announcing she'd been in a car accident and that he'd been appointed Interim GM.
     
  • Pre-production is underway for the next WWE Films project. It's a comedy that'll star Big Show, and from what I've been told, it can be summed up thusly: "Nacho Libre," except set in America and without Jack Black.
     
    Whee?
     
    The interesting subtext here is that this'll obviously require Show disappearing from TV for a while. Back when Junior DiBiase shot "The Marine 2," he needed about 6 weeks off to do so, if memory serves. Seeing as how I already mentioned that a Jericho/Show break-up was "inevitable" somewhere above, that does raise some interesting possibilities.
     
    I mean, Show's already defending a title that was won by Edge. Who's to say that it wouldn't be perfectly acceptable for yet ANOTHER guy to defend it in the future, all while Jericho laments his shitty luck with frail partners? And when Show comes back, he gets himself a new partner, too, and voila: a believable and compelling threat to the Brand Hopping Titles, kind of the opposite of MVP/Mark Henry.
     
    Could be interesting....
     
  • Speaking of threats to the Tag Titles, there will be an at least semi-intruiging one on Sunday's PPV: Rey Mysterio's drug suspension ends on Friday, and contrary to what I wrote last month, he IS being immediately bumped back onto TV. He'll join Batista in facing JeriShow.
     
    I don't see them winning, but it's certainly a solid pairing (not just in terms of over-ness, but in terms of being a fun mix of speed/power) that'll make for 15 tolerable minutes on PPV. Then I gotta think Rey's back into the IC Title mix with Morrison and Ziggler, while Batista.... ummm.... does something. I dunno. Maybe Taker gets distracted by the "Conspiracy" and Batista's the guy who slides in to challenge for Punk's title, next? 
     
  • And on that note, I guess it's time to finish up today by actually doing a bit of talk about WWE's PPV... it's Hell in a Cell, and as such, is another one of WWE's new "themed" PPVs and will feature 3 of the titular matches.
     
    Mheh heh heh heh... I said "titular."
     
    For the record, this "theme show" concept is expanding: the previously-themed Cyber Sunday is now "Bragging Rights" and will have a RAW vs. SD theme... Armageddon is now "Tables, Ladders, and Chairs" (again, there will be titular matches)... and No Way Out is going to be renamed in order to represent it being the annual Elimination Chamber show (no name is finalized, but one option -- I am not making this up -- is Chamber of Conflict, which is about the crappiest name for a PPV I've ever heard).
     
    Also: wrestlers and writers alike HATE this new "theme show" concept, because it makes their jobs harder, but are trying to put on happy faces because this is one of Vince's little pet ideas and the monkeys in marketing have CLEARLY spent a lot of time and energy developing this strategy.
     
    As a fer-instance: wrestlers hate that having 3 or more of a "theme" match on a show makes it harder for any one of those matches to stand out. WWE is doing 3 HitC matches on Sunday's show, and hasn't differentiated them in any way: no extra gimmicks/stips, just asking guys to have the same match 3 different ways all in one night. That does sound like a pain in the ass.
     
    And writers hate it because it decreases flexibility in terms of using gimmick matches when they might actually make sense and fit a story better. I mean: HitC is a great gimmick and all, but when used, it should be Because It's The End Of A Killer Feud, and NOT Because It's October. And specifically this month: creative wound up doing a story where a 3-way Ladder Match for the US Title would have made perfect sense, but Vince shot it down because DECEMBER is now when we have Ladder Matches on a PPV named for them.
     
    Oy.
     
    Anyway, so that's all very stupid, but it's pretty much par for the course for WWE these days, where the motto seems to be "Act First, Think Later."
     
    This bullet point was supposed to be nominally about Sunday's Hell in a Cell PPV, so let me at least list the matches for you:
     
    John Cena vs. Randy Orton (HitC For WWE Title)
    CM Punk vs. Undertaker (HitC For World Title)
    HHH/Shawn Michaels vs. DiBiase/Rhodes (HitC)
    JeriShow vs. Batista/Mysterio (Tag Titles)
    Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Miz (US Title)
    John Morrison vs. Dolph Ziggler (IC Title)
    Mickie James vs. Alicia Fox (Diva Title)
     
    So: you fired up for that? Didn't think so...
     
    Cena/Orton for the umpteenth time does nothing for me. DX/Legacy's "rubber match" does even less. Punk/Taker have yet to click, because their matches have been forced to take a backseat to silly "conspiracy" antics. I got nothing against Morrison or Mickie, but when title matches feature Ziggler and Alicia, I'm probably not buying it. That leaves me only really interested in the tag and US title matches. It sure would have been nice if they'd let Kofi & Co. have a ladder, but noo-ooooo...
     
    It's a show that WWE seemingly decided to sell with the Cell. [HA! I r so clevar~!] Fans are supposed to be fired up to see re-dos of matches that have already underwhelmed us in the recent past, but now, we care because of THE CELL.
     
    Except: with WWE now being all PG and no-blood and all that, the Cell really doesn't have anything to sell. No bathing in crimson or jumping off high places, like in the past. And whatever cool shit you CAN do, do you really think there's enough of it to portion out for THREE MATCHES? Those poor bastards are gonna be campaigning like crazy to see which match gets to have a table spot, and which one is allowed to use the ring steps, and so on and so forth. The Cell is already diluted by WWE's kiddie philosophy, and now with 3 of those matches slated, we end up not talking about how cool it is to add the Cell to a heated death feud.
     
    Instead, we're talking about Highspot Rationing.
     
    Not good.
     
    But you know OO: we'll take the bullet for you. I'll have a full recap of the show up sometime before midnight on Sunday (and for real-time-type results, the guys in the OO Forums usually have a thread going), so come on back for that.
     
    And as always, I close by reminding you that if you want to thank OO for the content it provides (and for the $700 per year it saves you on wrestling PPVs you don't have to buy in order to find out what happens), you can make a donation to the cause. I, personally, appreciate it, and thank you; and the vast majority of no-account leechers who rely on you to subsidize this place for them appreciate it, too.
     
    Give what/if you can, and enjoy the start of October, kids. Truly, this is the Greatest Month of the Year what with the weather and the sports and everything; and it's once again Truly Great after an off-year last year.... ahhh, the Yankees are the best team in baseball and playing in the post-season, and all is right with the world!
     
    See you Sunday night...


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
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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