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RAW Offends, but How?
(And Other News...)
December 19, 2001

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  Oh good Lord in Heaven above was I ever offended by RAW on Monday night!

Yes, that's right...  ME, who never gets upset with anything.  My deepest-held convictions were mortally assaulted just two days ago.

When Steve Austin and Booker T went to the church and then....  it's hard for me to even repeat what happened...  Booker went into the confessional...  and....  and....

Then the camera magically appeared inside the confessional, now possessing the magical power of being able to move between the wall separating the confessor from the confessee.

Oh, god, I may never be the same again!

How many times have I pleaded and wept and BEGGED to just stop it already?  With all the silly skits requiring magical cameras and whatnot...  it's just WRONG, and somebody's going straight to HELL for it.

Alright, maybe I'm overstating my outrage a bit...  but seriously, it's shit like that which drastically increases the "Cringe Factor" when I'm trying to show non-fans exactly what it is that I love so much about wrestling.  I can explain all I want about athleticism, drama, mystery, action, and comedy rolled into one two hour package every week all I want.  But when skits start taking place with the participants unaware of the presence of the magical cameras, it gets laughingly dismissed as illogical camp.

You'd think I'd be desensitized to it by now, wouldn't you?  But I'm not...  I did a whole 10,000 word column on this a few months back, and I won't rehash, now.  Suffice to say that there are a few simple rules that would drastically help reduce the silliness and the Cringe Factor, all WITHOUT handcuffing the creative team at all in terms of telling stories.  

Those rules were violated by the confessional skit with Booker T on Monday night, and yes, it put a damper on the hilarity for me.  It's the same sort of thing when Booker T tells Vince McMahon on the phone where he's hiding, right when there's a camera in the room so that anyone with half a brain (does Austin qualify?  I'd hope so) would be able to sit in front of a TV and know where to attack.  Just dumb, dumb, dumb...

Sorry for ranting... I sort of started as a little joke in the faces of the whiny types who were actually offended to the core that the WWF dared to use a church of non-specific denomination as the backdrop to one of their skits (and in this festive holiday season, no less!)...  those petty jerks just need to get out more.  Or they should at least rid the world of more "heinous" offenses (hey, how about that Keanu Reeves movie where the hot chick is naked in church?!?) before bitching out the WWF...

Actually, as a whole, Monday's RAW held together reasonably well.  I loved the Ric Flair/Jericho segment and how it set up the main event.  That's an instance of telling a story the way I like my wrestling stories told:  in the ring, with convincing performances all around.  Just an intense, believable promo, and all with a precise target in mind:  a title match to take place 45 minutes later.

And while my one complaint would be the finish was executed a bit sloppily (just starting Rob Van Dam's music while he still had Jericho in the Figure Four could certainly give fans the wrong idea...  why not wait for the holds to be released, then have Flair make the definitive "winner by DQ" call?), it was a very effective main event.  Jericho continues to establish himself as a top level heel with performances like that, while Rob Van Dam gets the Flair rub, and now finds himself reasonably within shouting distance of more Undisputed Title shots.

That's how you do business on free TV:  use the matches to boost BOTH guys up.

I may not personally be sold on Test, but it's not for lack of effort by the creative team.  They are weaving together a nice, multi-layered feud between Test and the Rock, which has included lots of other players on the periphery.  Sounds like it all comes to a head on SmackDown!, so we'll have to see how fans react to Test after he's been (I would presume) dispatched by the Rock.

Ditto the Hardys storyline, which has a lot more texture now after Monday's events.  Who'd have thought Matt would still be concerned for Jeff and Lita?  Well, I kind of thought we'd go this way, but I'm still pleasantly surprised to see the breaks put on the run-away train that was the Hardys' split.  This is a story that should simmer slowly for a long time, not boil away instantly...

As usual, I'll heartily recommend CRZ's RAW Recap for those of you who require the extreme attention to detail that I am too lazy to include here.  Check it out.

-  Even if it was an overall commendable RAW, it was not rewarded at all in the ratings.  To the contrary, the show lost nearly three-quarters of a point from the previous week, doing a 4.0 composite over the two hours.  

You can point to the proximity of the holidays as a possible reason for a lack of interest...  you can even point to the fact that the prior week's rating was boosted artificially by being a post-PPV show watched by fans who just wanted to see what happened at the PPV they did not bother paying for...  but whatever the case, it's not gonna get any better the next two Mondays.

A "business-as-usual" RAW (with storylines advanced, and all) to air on Christmas Eve and then an all-recap edition to air on New Year's Eve will undoubtedly come up way short in the ratings.  

Triple H's return to TV -- now confirmed for the January 7 RAW -- may have a chance to double the previous week's rating, provided he's a strong enough draw and provided enough fans are MIA on New Year's Eve.  What a politicking, conniving, egotistical bastard that HHH is:  purposefully sandbagging his rehab just so he can return in time to take credit for the rebounding ratings after the holidays!

Yes, I'm joking.  But I promise you, there were probably about 20% of the idiots out there nodding their heads in agreement as they read that last line!

-  A bit of important site news before I get rambling on with the smaller newsbites....

I'm in the process of changing servers this week.  Demand for pages has outpaced what I could afford on my old ones, so the move is necessary.  Don't get me wrong: we're still operating at a fraction of what the old audience at WrestleLine was...  it's just we're growing a bit faster than even I had hoped for.

Hopefully, the transition will be completely seamless for everyone...  but of course, I'm too wise to expect that to actually be the case.  It is possible that some of you will get error messages or will be viewing outdated versions of the site as the server change propagates.  Also, you may get some e-mail bounced back to you.

Just stick with us for the next few days, and everything should be fine by the weekend...  

-  Oh, and if you missed 'em...  SmackDown! spoilers are available if you just click here.

-  The WWF website confirmed my Monday blurb about Mark Henry:  he is taking time off from OVW to train for the World's Strongest Man competition with the full backing of the WWF.  

After the competition is over, Henry will return to wrestling in early Spring, 2002.  

Remember:  Henry signed a big 10 year contract back in '96, when the WWF was desperately looking to lock in talent, and thought the charismatic Olympian would help.  He won't just up and disappear quietly!

-  As covered last week, the WWF is looking to expand its international operations aggressively in 2002.  In addition to a three-day tour of Asia (Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia) in early March, the Fed is also planning jaunts through Europe and Australia.

Three new UK and Germany dates will be added around the already-sold-out May 4 "Insurrextion" UK-only PPV date.  A second Europe tour will take place in the fall.  At least one event will be held in Australia in the summer of 2002, as well.

-  A few people wrote in wondering which of the two split-crew house shows Triple H would be returning on when he's back on January 4...  at this point, I do not know.  Binghamton, NY, is the "A Show," but it's not unthinkable that they'd want to have HHH make his return as quietly as possible on that night's "B Show" in Moncton, NB, Canada.

I'll have definitive word as soon as possible in a future update.  

-  Ultimate Pro Wrestling, a WWF affiliated indie out in California, had been promising Vader's return to US soil for their show tonight.  However, Vader -- who remains active in Japan -- has had to pull out due to emergency knee surgery.

A UPW press release promises Vader will make good on the date, appearing at a Feb. 21 UPW show.  Because Vader is the second major star to pull out of tonight's event (Brian "Grandmaster Sexay" Lawler is also out due to injury), UPW is offering refunds to all ticket holders, or will allow tonight's ticket holders to attend the 2/21/2002 show in lieu of tonight's event.

Best wishes for speedy recoveries go out to both Vader and Lawler, and kudos to UPW for handling a difficult situation with honesty.

- A couple readers have mailed in, having seen the XWF infomercial and wanting to pass along their thoughts...

Let's just say that in the interest of fairness, I won't repeat their quotes as gospel truth.  Rather, I'll just mention that they were unimpressed, both by the production values and by the promised talent roster...

I'm not banking on the XWF to instantly establish itself as a strong #2 or anything, and certainly have no first hand clue as to their production values...  but I kind of thought they had a talent roster capable of doing an amusing "old school" style of show.  Then again, I'm still a Curt Hennig fan to this day, so what do I know?

-  Self-proclaimed "Proud OO Reader" Eddy Brotemarkle is looking for YOUR help...  videogame aficionados should send him YOUR choices for the Top Ten Videogames of All Time.  Rank your Top Ten and send them to Top100BestGames@hotmail.com by December 31 to be considered for his poll.  Eddy B. thanks you in advance.

For whatever it's worth, my own ballot would look like this: (1) Coach K College Basketball (Sega Genesis)...  (2-10)  Blank.  Not much of a videogame guy am I, but when I play one I likes, I'll gladly plug it!

-  Last thing for today...  we're coming up on Year's End, and though it's been hectic launching this new site, I DO want to come as close as possible to duplicating the tradition of doing a big-ass OO Year in Review.

Now, I'm already off to a bad start, since I was too wrapped up in my own thing a few weeks back and I just missed out on casting my ballot for the RSPW Achievement Awards...  they are still, however, the best barometer for the smarter fans' opinions without getting into that "hardcore/wrestling journalist" mindset of having to vote for Japanese wrestling despite the fact that those votes have significance to only a miniscule portion of the voting audience.

I will be including the Achievement Award results in my Year in Review, and will also be posting a ballot of my own "best of 2001" choices sometime in the next week, roughly modeled on what I would have sent CRZ if the deadline hadn't snuck up on me.

And then from there on out, look for the detailed month-by-month fly-by, featuring major moments, title changes, and of course, the quotable OO (in which I can alternately look like a genius, or like a complete ass, depending on hindsight).  To be honest, though, I don't remember any dead-on perfect prognostications this year like I had in 2000 (remember me insisting on Ivory in the RTC months before it actually happened?)...  so probably more looking like an ass this year!

In any case, even though I anticipate a severe throttling back in the amount of updating done here as we enter the shank of the holiday season, I wanted you to know I'll still be spending some of my free time on a worthwhile project that you'll all be seeing starting right after the new year!

Till Friday....


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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