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War 2.0: Tale of the Tapening, 03/15/10
March 14, 2010

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


Welp... there was a mild, but steady, influx of emails the past several days, all pretty interested in OO doing some kind of Monday Night Preview each week, now that the "War" is back on between Vince and Bischoff...
From the sounds of things, there are a shit-ton of folks out there who mostly identify themselves as casual or lapsed fans who enjoy coming to OO every now and again to catch up on what they can't be bothered to watch for themselves.


Thus, they aren't exactly ready to plop themselves down in front of a TV for 2 hours on a Monday to dedicate their time to rasslin'... but they might have a moment or two, here and there. And they kinda liked having a bit of guidance last week in terms of what was on tap, and what was to be expected from the two shows courtesy of OO's Preview.
If it'll inform your channel flipping finger, I guess I'll go ahead and do a brief Tale of the Tape each week, and let you do with it what you will. Maybe the caliber of the product these days isn't enough to convince you to be a religious viewer of any single wrestling show, but I remain hopeful that this new competition will, ultimately, result in there being AT LEAST 2 solid hours of wrestling each and every Monday, even if you have to pick and choose from 4 available hours worth of it to get the good stuff.
Now that I'm committed to doing these little capsule previews, I implore OO Nation to help me figure out what to do about ANOTHER pending issue: Do you want us to cover NXT in depth?
From the ratings, NXT has settled in as under-performing both Impact and ECW's long-term averages (and is about on par with Superstars viewership), which indicates a mainstream indifference to the show... but among posters on the OO Forums (counting myself among this group), NXT has turned out to be a pleasant surprise and perhaps even the most intriguting show of the Wrestling Week.
But I can watch it and enjoy it on my own. The question is, what do YOU want me to do about it for your edification? Drop me an email and make your voice heard. And in the meantime, here's a measly couple hundred words about this week's Monday Shows...


TNA IMPACT (SpikeTV, 9pm)
What's Been Promised: It needs to be noted that this week's Impact was taped 6 days ago. But I'm going to follow TNA's lead, and use the preview they've supplied as the Ruling Document for what counts as "hype" and what would cross the line into "spoilers."
So that said, the big thing this week is a Wanker Dream Match between TNA Champ AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy (making his first in-ring appearance for TNA since 2006-ish). They're in the main event which, this week, at least, will last more than 4 minutes and not feature 70-year-old men. Well: not many of them. Flair will be in AJ's corner. FYI: the match is non-title, so Anything Can Happen.
TNA's other main selling point is that Rob Van Dam will be finding his place in the company after his debut, and that there will also be fall-out from Sting's heel turn (which, conveniently enough, involved battering RVD)... so I'd guess it's safe to say that those two will be on-hand and involved in as-yet-un-discussable segments.
Then, some odds and ends for you: Kurt Angle and Pope Dinero (you may know him as Kofi Lite, if you enjoy hating The Rick~!) will take on Ken "Kennedy" Anderson and Desmond Wolfe in a potentially promising tag match.... Angelina Love will face a member of The Beautiful People TBD... Kevin Nash and Scott Hall will have a CONFRONTATION?... and Hulk Hogan will be on hand with Eric Bischoff, ruling over TNA with their mighty rulerly fists.
What Could Surprise: Technically, nothing. The show is taped, and if you want to know what happens, you can find out very easily. Just go to the OO Forums and read the TNA Impact Spoiler Thread.
That said, within the context of TNA trying to pretend this week's show is live and that there is some level of uncertainty, I think I can state the following things without them counting as "Spoilers," but which will -- rather -- add to the intrigue: the Dudleyz will be down a team-member in a planned six-man tag (against the Nasty Boyz and Jimmy Hart), but will score a surprise last second partner... the AJ/Jeff main event will have a special guest ref... Bischoff will try to administer the Final Humiliation to Mick Foley, with unfortunate results (for Sleazy E)... and the Destination X PPV (or "Designation X," if you are Kevin Nash) will be hyped in a fashion that is sure to plumpen the wangs of wankers everywhere. Which is good, since one needs a plumpened wang in order to wank.
A surprise that I DON'T know for sure about, but am kind of hoping for: a better paced show than last week. In the live setting, TNA really shat the bed trying to counter-program WWE so that their highspots happened during RAW commercials. It led to an awfully formatted show where ad breaks were sometimes stacked upon each other with only seconds of content in between, or other lengthy segments that were milked unconscienably (like Sting's over-long and awkward beatdown on RVD, walking up the ramp, going back to the ring, up the ramp, to the ring, brawl with Hogan, to the ring, up the ramp, and on and on and on for ages). This show is taped, and there should be no way for TNA (in this case, I'm thinking it was Bischoff specifically, since that was one of his old favorite tricks from the RAW/Nitro war) to screw the pooch that badly again. It wasn't so horrible if you had the benefit of DVR/time-shifting (or if you were just flipping over, periodically), but anyone who actually tried to watch the whole show as a single 2-hour piece HAD to have been annoyed and borderline-insulted by the pacing choices last week...
What Could Disappoint: Again, technically the answer is "nothing." But any show that still has the Nastys, Scott Hall, Bubba the Sperm Receptacle, and TNA's new creative "direction" (which has gone so far as turn Ken Kennedy into a ludicrous caricature in the vein of Kurt Angle's last anti-American/Sharmell-raping WWE heel run, and turned Kurt into something possibly even worse: a gravitas-free one-dimensional suck-up) will probably still have some holes and let you down.
The Verdict: Having "spoiler'd" myself, I think this'll be a better show -- on the whole -- than last week's. Two matches that reviewed quite nicely, including the Dream Match Main Event, and a few other tidbits that don't sound quite as horrible as the nonstop Hogan/Flair/abuse-of-the-elderly vibe. I'll look forward to reviewing the footage. If I didn't know better, I'd almost say TNA served up last week's live show, hoping to score Sizzle Points with surprises and Old Stars Unretireing, but decided to use the taped show to their advantage by putting on a program that Wankers could read about and get excited for, what with AJ/Hardy as the main event... that should be enough to help them retain their loyal core audience, for the most part. But they really are up against a Mack Truck of an offering from RAW, and have little chance to grow their rating this week. If TNA deviates much at all from a 0.9-1.1 rating, I'll eat one of my proverbial bugs.
WWE Monday Night RAW (USA, 9pm)
What's Been Promised: This is gonna be a monster show tonight, kids... after serving up relative garbage for last week's first head-to-head battle, WWE is gracing us with both a kick-ass Guest Host (Stone Cold Steve Austin) *and* a "WrestleMania Recall" gimmick featuring rematches of previous WM contests. Talk about bringing the house; not only will it stand up well against the current week-in/week-out WWE product, but it's a perfectly "Stunt Booked" show to catch the eye of some of you Lapsed Fans out there...
Austin as GM should be just-plain-fun in a way that most recent guest hosts haven't. With due respect the handful of B-list celebs who've done well with the job, *I* have had the most fun when the GMs were folks like Trish Stratus (who had a really nice outing back in the fall) and Jesse Ventura (who might be in my Top 3 Guest Host performances of the past year). Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes, and Roddy Piper did good with the gig, too. I think the only former star to disappoint was Sgt. Slaughter, really... and Austin's no Sgt. Slaughter. He'll put smiles on our faces.
And then? There's the matches... my personal highlight will no doubt be World Champ Chris Jericho taking on Shawn Michaels in a WM19 rematch. Jericho even did a nice job working HBK references into his awesome SmackDown promo with Edge, just to whet my appetite all the more (as if their past work together wasn't sufficient). For newer fans and lovers of today's Mediocrity Hugging WWE, you get Triple H and Randy Orton in a rematch from last year's WM25; doesn't make me moist and tingly, but your mileage may vary. And lastly, it's John Cena vs. Tag Champ Big Show in a WM20 rematch; Show's turned out to be one of Cena's most-entertaining foes, so even if it's the least "sexy" of the three, it still oughta be good.
Pretty nice line-up. This could even be an excuse to fire up the usually-dormant tradition of Monday Night Cocktailing for The Me....
What Could Surprise: Bret Hart was absent from RAW last week, so him showing up in some capacity probably would count as a "surprise" at some level. They're definitely keeping him as an only-semi-regular Special Attraction, at least. Bret showing up and looking mobile and competent enough to perform a one-on-one Sports Entertainment Segment would be even MORE pleasantly surprising to me.
There is also some talk of Austin getting directly involved in the Bret/Vince stuff (to say he has tons of history with each would be an understatement). I've heard varying reports with mine own ears, but I believe Lance Storm is circulating a theory in which Austin will stick around to be the Special Ref for Vince vs. Bret at Mania... that could work, and it'd be a little easter egg they'd have to set up starting tonight.
What Could Disappoint: Well, the obvious elephant in the room is the fact that these WM Recall Matches are almost TOO good... expecting clean/decisive finishes in any of them would probably be foolish, so it's gonna be on WWE to figure out some way to still deliver mostly SATISFYING finishes that further the relevant storylines without making us fans roll our eyeballs in frustration TOO much. HBK/Jericho is the one with the easiest out, since Undertaker can just show up and do a repeat of the last SD (when he randomly interrupted a match and beat the shit out of everybody), seeing as how he's intent on beating Shawn at WM and seeing as how Jericho's been a pompous little douche bragging about beating Taker twice in a row. Cena/Show might be OK if they hit the right note (a Batista run-in seems obvious, but I'd almost rather they emphasize Batista's me-first/mercenary nature by having him not give a shit about Cena's match, and let Miz interfere and have this match boomarang around into a showcase for the unified tag champs, somehow). HHH/Orton seems doomed to fail, no matter what; I don't care about HHH/Sheamus, I care less about Orton/Legacy, so those run-ins/shmozziness will annoy me greatly... even a wacky left-field vision of HHH and Orton forced to join forces to fend off the bad guys doesn't work for me.
On a less-concerning note: I just hope that G-rated Steve Austin doesn't suck out loud. I mean, I bet we have to endure at least one "What?" chant from the tards in the crowd, but I'd die a little bit inside of Austin tried to maintain his proven character in this new environment with phrases like "Whup-Tushie" and "Heck, Yes" and cold-cool-refreshing Coke-Zero. Better to avoid that stuff altogether, and just let Austin own the crowd with charisma rather than gimmickry that doesn't fit anymore.
The Verdict: This oughta be a good one. If it isn't, it means WWE would almost have to TRY to suck. Even with competition from TNA, a bump in the ratings should be assured so long as fans are aware of the line-up and the guest host. I'll put RAW's "Disappointment" Rating at 3.5 for this week, and their "Happy Happy Joy Joy" Rating at 4.0. Unless past data regarding RAW's better stunt-booking is somehow invalidated by TNA's presence, they should score towards the higher end of that "Acceptability Spectrum." I know they'll have my eyeballs.

There you have it... another week, another battle, another preview. May you use the information contained here-in wisely, OO Nation. And may you return tomorrow when Big Danny T and PyroFalkon bring you full coverage of both shows, should you decline to check them out on your own. 
Or should you miss portions of either by flipping back and forth between them.
Either way: we got your back, and I'll talk to you again soon, kids!

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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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