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RAW Gets Good...  and Other News
May 29, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Midweek news, RAW thoughts, and the rest of the usual routine...  let's get to it:
  • I spend my afternoon on Monday bitching about the roster split being a bad idea, and specifically, how it's impacted RAW in a negative way, and what happens?  Well, we got the best RAW since said roster split, and I look like a jack-ass.
    And I'm glad for it.  Hell, anything to make my Monday nights fun again!
    Of course, it's entirely possible that my positive opinion is predicated upon only two elements of the show...  namely the killer Ladder Match main event and Chris Benoit.  But since -- between the two of them -- they took up about 20 minutes at the start of the show and 20 minutes at the end, I think that's a pretty significant percentage of the night's action.  Certainly enough to carry a show into the stratosphere.
    Benoit's surprise return to RAW (when he was drafted to SD) raises some questions, but none that can't be dealt with in a logical enough fashion.  Maybe Benoit (who was ostensibly hurt last year while challenging Austin for the WWF Title) is so keen on destroying Austin that Vince will allow him to switch over to RAW in the name of finally getting rid of that pesky Rattlesnake?  Or a simple trade would do it:  how about starting with sending Bradshaw over to SD?  The split of the APA has done neither former member any good, and SD could use another contending tag team, pronto.
    But mostly, Benoit's return in his own hometown should help him regain the momentum he had at the time of his injury last year.  When Joe Average Home Viewer sees Benoit getting a response not unlike Hulk Hogan's, it hopefully reminds him that Chris Benoit is the real deal, a main event player, and a guy who should be put right back into the mix.  Since the Fed neglected to do big, schmaltzy music videos to hype Benoit's return (like they did for a potential future McMahon-in-law who we all know), this was about as good a way to make his comeback seem special as they could have done.
    Of course, having the balls to turn him heel in his own hometown helps, too.  In retrospect, I should have seen it coming sooner than I did, but isn't that the sign of a great wrestling angle:  it makes sense in the end, but it still manages to surprise you.  I don't know if having Eddie, Benoit, and Flair united against Austin means we should look for a reformation of the Radicalz, or if we should be thinking more in terms of a potential return of the Four Horsemen...  but I do know it means that if JR wanted to accuse business of pickin' up, I'd be right there to second the motion.
    Regardless of rumors that Austin's not happy with his role right now, I think this puts him pretty much front and center as part of the absolute most interesting developing story on all WWE TV.
    And let's not forget to lob a few superlatives in the direction of the Eddie/RVD ladder match, too.  It was easily PPV-caliber, and unless I'm missing something, it's easily the best free TV match we've gotten this year (and even bests Eddie and RVD's two previous PPV efforts, I think).  It seemed like the ladder betrayed Van Dam in the end, causing them to have to improvise another finish, but that's part of what makes ladder matches so entertaining.  You can have the smarty-pants fan in you salivating to be a cynical asshole, but he can't:  cuz Mr. Smart-Pants knows the same thing that your Inner Mark does... that in these types of matches, both men have to deal with the limitations of the hardware and work within those bounds.  They came up with a replacement finish that left both Mr. Smarty-Pants and the Inner Mark quite satisfied. 
    In other RAW action:  I'm surprised that they gave us Bubba/Brock so soon (and so free), but I thought they two left enough room for a rematch.  They'll get smoother working together in time, but for a first time out, they had a good big-man/power match, I thought.
    I was actually sort of interested in the nWo antics on the night... which is more than I can say about my feelings towards the nWo for the past month or so.  Nash will be the deciding factor here.  If he can come back from injury in "Diesel" mode, then this could take off.  If he comes back in "Big Poochie" mode, then all progress will be lost.  Booker T and Goldust's side-story here is alright, too, since it still seems imminent that Booker will go babyface and provide the first big time feud for the rejuvenated nWo (unless they think they can hold out on Booker's turn until Kane comes back, anyway). 
    Of course, my randomly generated opinions on RAW are just an hors d'vours when it comes to post-Monday dissection of the show.  Normally, I'd pimp CRZ's RAW Recap as the best alternative to get a full rundown of the show... but he's really gone overboard with Sacramento Kings motif this time!  Unless you really love purple and little Kings' logos, maybe you ought to try Lee Filas' Squared Circle Jerk, instead?
    Good lord, I hope the Kings are eliminated by next Monday!  Can you imagine what Z will have in store for us if they make it to the Finals?
  • Actually, I guess I should have REALLY hoped that the Kings would be gone by Thursday night...  CRZ will be sitting in on SmackDown! for a week or three while I try to arrange for a more permanent solution to the SD! Recap problem.  As you know, the Immolator has stepped down.
    But he'll be back starting sooner than you think, with a regular column chronicling his adventures at pro wrestling training school.  Should be interesting...
  • No rating is yet available for Monday's RAW, due to the holiday weekend here in the States.  I'll no doubt have it by Friday's update.  Part of me really hopes that the quality of the show is reflected in the rating.
    But the pragmatic part of me knows that a good show one week will more likely affect viewership the NEXT week (as word of mouth spreads).  It also knows that people may have had better things to do than watch TV as their long weekend came to a close.
  • The WWE creative team has finally been divvied up the same way the talent roster has...  RAW and SD will now both have their own sets of writers, who will be able to put their own stamp on each "brand."  The hope is that this will also lead to a sense of friendly competition between the two teams.
    In the end, it's still gonna be Stephanie McMahon, though, who oversees both teams.  Vince, of course, remains the ultimate stopping point for all bucks, but Steph will co-ordinate both writing crews and make sure that even if each show takes on its own flavor, that there is still consistency between them (especially as it pertains to pay-per-views, cross-show stories, and the use of the Undisputed Champ).
    Brian Gewertz heads up the RAW writing team, while Paul Heyman will get to helm the SD! ship.  With Heyman, the booker, on SD, and Heyman, the performer, on RAW, I'm betting that's another case where someone (besides Steph) will have a bit of say in the creative direction of both shows.  For some reason, I have a hard time envisioning Heyman letting someone else put words in his mouth...
    In any case, this is probably a good idea...  like I said on Monday, if you're gonna do the split, then do it all the way, and not half-assed!
  • The BBC's website has picked up a story about Manchester, England, police launching a investigation into the death of Davey Boy Smith.  
    At the insistence of Davey's father, Sid Smith, the police are double-checking the official British Columbia, Canada, conclusion that Smith died of heart failure.  Sid Smith suggests there are inconsistencies in statements made by witnesses, and I guess is thinking that there could be foul play involved in the death of his son.
    I'm not exactly sure what police in England will be able to uncover about a death in Canada, but they are starting with a second post-mortem examination of Davey's body to see if anything more can be learned.  
    Regardless, if Sid Smith's inquiries do end up leading somewhere substantive, I'll have more here as it becomes available...
  • Jerry Lynn -- who has held titles in the WWF and ECW, and is probably the #1 most underrated talent in the US -- has officially signed on to appear as part of the PPV-only NWA Total Nonstop Action series.  He joins Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, a hardcore midget or two, and probably a few others I'm forgetting as being a part of the "official" NWA-TNA roster.
    Further info about the talent roster and the card for the first show (which is expected to lead to the crowning of the first NWA-TNA Champ) is expected sometime this week.  The show kicks off on June 19th.
  • Maven could be out of action till this autumn after an injury suffered last night at SmackDown! tapings.  Fans at the show thought he came up gimpy after a spot early in his match (which Maven, to his enormous credit, took to its planned conclusion).
    Sure enough, the prognosis today says he'll miss 3 months or so following a lower leg fracture.
  • Who's the bigger moron from Monday's RAW?  The dipshit fan who ran into the ring and tried to knock Eddie Guerrero off the ladder?  Or the dipshit wrestler who actually drank Undertaker's tobacco spit?
    Actually, I think the dipshit fan is the bigger moron, no matter what.  I hope he feels proud to have gotten his ass beaten by 50-something-year-old Earl Hebner on international TV.  His friends and family must be very proud.
    But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the word on the street is that that really WAS tobacco spit that Tommy Dreamer drank on RAW.  Not a gimmicked cup of soda or something with just a bit of Taker's spit thrown in for credibility.  If this isn't some sort of retarded "let's fool the smarts over something almost completely inconsequential" campaign (and to be honest, I do have my suspicions), then my assessment of Dreamer's IQ DOES drop a few notches in light of his display on Monday.
    I mean, there's a reason that the people twisted enough to actually chew tobacco spit that stuff out:  the shit ain't good for you! 
  • I don't have RAW ratings, but I can quickly pass along word that ratings for TNN's 2-hour wrestling block on Saturday night was up about 50% this weekend, for the debuts of "Velocity" and "Confidential" in the slots previously filled by "Excess."
    The sub-1.0 ratings generated by Excess jumped up to a 1.2 average for the two hours on Saturday night, with "Confidential" slightly outperforming "Velocity."  If the positive buzz is any indication, those are numbers that should be maintained.  At least, for "Confidential."  
  • That just about does it for me today...  while it'll be till Friday before I'm back with fresh material, I think you ought to make sure you get back here on Thursday.  We'll have something new from Scott Keith, and hopefully, the Immolator's training-to-be-a-wrestler column debut, too!



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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