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RAW (and Other) Ratings News, Goldberg
Update, NWA-TNA Preview, More...
July 3, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


There stands a good chance that this'll be the last time I address you find folks this week, what with the holiday weekend and all.  So hopefully, I can make it a good one....  
  • Monday's RAW was a decent show.  The thing they spent a week hyping turned out to be rather anti-climactic, but some of the stuff that nobody expected at all turned out really well.
    Case in point:  Chris Benoit's return to the ring was not mentioned until RAW was already underway, and even then, it was down-played.  Turns out, he and Eddie Guerrero's match against Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley turned out to be the night's best.  Sure Benoit and Guerrero lost, but the match was good, and the post-match annihilation of Bubba went a long way to establishing this feud as a long-term issue.
    Also good:  the story-telling element of the nWo saga.  Is Big Show in or out?  Is this Tough Love or just more Clique-ish wackiness?  And what of Triple H?  One thing I will say:  as soon as I saw X-Pac laid out backstage, I knew SOMEthing was amiss.  But I thought the guy was maybe just completely and utterly spent after working a Heat match or something...  I never thought he might have faked the whole thing just to set up Show!
    But since the hype going into RAW didn't involve either of those two things, they maybe didn't have the impact they might have, since that isn't what we were looking forward to.
    And what we were looking forward to?  Well, call me naive, but for me, it was a killer ladder match out of Jeff Hardy and the Undertaker... and that one didn't work out so well.  I mean it was good, but it wasn't "Hype it for a week and draw comparisons to other historic ladder matches" good.  And unlike other internet jackasses, I won't just place blame on Taker for being unable to work that style of a match.
    I mean, duh, Taker's not gonna be doing the same sort of ladder spots with Jeff that Edge or Christian did.  I wasn't expecting that.  But I was expecting that they'd construct the match with that in mind, and come up with a way to keep it really good and interesting throughout.  To my mind, that means not giving Taker what FELT like the entire middle 10 minutes of the match to dominate, with Jeff barely getting in a flurry or two of punches.  That's cuz Taker could not be expected to engage in the sort of compellingly innovative offense that you want in a ladder match; so Jeff's "hope spots" should have been more numerous, and more ladder-centric... you could even have had Taker staying away from the ladder on purpose (it'd have increased his heelishness, too, probably) for his flurries of old school offense, and then if/when he did try for a ladder spot, Jeff could always convert it into a hot segment of his own since he's the "ladder expert" (it'd have the double benefit of popping the crowd because 1. it's a ladder spot, and 2. it's the babyface making a comeback).  Stuff like that would have helping keep things moving a lot better.
    That said, the match wasn't bad or anything.  The finish was actually strong, with Jeff getting a convincing run or two up the ladder after using the chair, and Taker eventually pulling out a chokeslam off the ladder for the finale.  And even though the main body of the match lacked the ebb and flow of the more psychology based ladder matches of the past (like Benoit/Jericho) and the wild highspots of the TLC matches, there were still a few highlights sprinkled in.  Taker's ring apron legdrop, trapping Jeff inside the ladder, was a good one, for instance.  
    And Taker's decision to raise Jeff's hand at the end?  I'm torn on that... on one hand, yeah, I'm one thousand percent behind any move to quit trying to push Taker as a top heel.  But on the other, I've had some correspondence in which this very issue was hashed out, and I thought a better idea might be to stretch this Taker/Hardy thing out, with Taker doing more of a "I'm scared of how bad I'll have to kick this guy's ass before he'll go away" vibe before FINALLY granting Jeff Hardy the respect thing.  But if the time is now to start the turn, then so be it.
    The show-opening thing between Ric Flair and Brock Lesnar was pretty good stuff, too.  A unique pairing, any way, that seemed to work pretty well.  For some reason, I had a brief Flair/Luger flashback at one point in the match...  and that's not all bad.
    And for those who want more details, CRZ's got your complete recap of the show right here.
  • The ratings for Monday's show don't exactly support any thesis that the show was a particularly good one, though...  the 3.6 cable rating was down another tenth of a point from the week before (which, itself, was down from the prior week despite being a post-PPV RAW).  Only possible upside:  ratings increased throughout the program, indicating that the viewers who started with the show stuck with it, and that some others eventually joined in for the ride.
    But that's stretching for an upside...  and if you want a downside, consider that tomorrow's July 4 SmackDown! is sure to deliver its lowest rating since last Thanksgiving, due to the holiday keeping everybody away from their TVs.
  • Actually, even if RAW delivered a disappointing number, there was good ratings news for the WWE and TNN over the weekend...
    The Fed's Saturday night block delivered its strongest ratings, yet, averaging a 1.3 for the Velocity/Confidential 10-midnight slot.  And get this:  the special "Divas Undressed" thing that aired at midnight did a 1.8 rating.  A 1.8.  At midnight on a Saturday.  Trust me, that's gotta make some people pretty happy.
    I know I'm surprised by the number.  I didn't even get a single e-mail from anybody who saw it, but that doesn't mean people weren't watching.
  • The website www.billgoldberg.net has recently been redesigned with a new Flash intro -- which promises that Goldberg is "coming to RAW on Monday nights" -- that inspired a few people to e-mail me wondering what the deal is....
    Well, the deal is this:  the website is a fan-produced one.  There is no official sanction from Goldberg or any wrestling company.  The intro to the website should not be taken as concrete proof that Goldberg's coming to RAW before the summer's up...  it's a cool little piece of multi-media, yes, but it's just wishful thinking based on the same third-hand rumors that are all over the internet.
    Is WWE interested in Goldberg?  Yes.  Is Goldberg interested in WWE?  Sure, he'd listen, but his interest is to a lesser extent because he does have other options, namely in Japan.  If I were a betting man, would I lay a wager on Goldberg eventually competing in WWE?  Yeah, I think it'll probably happen, simply cuz money walks and...  well, you know the rest.  But not till after Goldberg's 100% healthy, and probably not till after he's had a match or two to "re-prove" himself in Japan, either.
  • A bit of Bret Hart news...  
    I've been informed by the promoter for Premier Championship Wrestling (a Canadian indy fed) that they had signed Bret (along with Jim Neidhart and the Legion of Doom) to appear at an upcoming July 25 show in Winnipeg.
    And while the Calgary media and the internet is rife with word about the long and difficult road to recovery that Bret faces, PCW has been assured by an agent of Bret's that Hart is doing very well (actually walking and talking, and slated to be released from the hospital this week).  PCW was further re-assured that Bret will not be missing any bookings, including the July 25 date in Winnipeg.
    I'm not exactly sure what to make of all this, but here's hoping that indications that Bret will be back up and working in three weeks are accurate projections, and not just another attempt to keep fans in the dark (and thus, to limit their worry and concern) with regards to Hart's true status (i.e. that e-mail message to fans last week).
    I'll keep you up to date on the situation, and you can also follow along on PCW's website at www.pcwlive.ca.

  • Leon "Vader" White is in the news today.  In his hometown of Boulder, CO, Vader was arrested early last night on a plethora of charges, all of which stemmed from an alleged drunk driving incident.
    According to Boulder's Daily Camera, Vader crashed his SUV into a bush a few blocks from his home before continuing on to his house.  Police were called to the scene and quickly tracked Vader to his home, which is where the fun began.  
    Vader was suspected of being intoxicated, propping himself up on a door frame as he addressed the authorities.  He quickly became belligerent, attempting to spit on the police, threatening to kick their asses and/or throw baseball sized rocks at them, and then, when two cops decided to bring their dogs out for protection, Vader even threatened to kill the mutts.
    The Daily Camera report does not mention exactly how, but does not that the police eventually got Vader calmed down and handcuffed without any serious incident.  
    I know it's nothing to joke about, but luckily, no one was hurt in the accident, which leaves us to kind of ponder the mental image of the gigantic Vader threatening police dogs and such...  and as unfunny as it should be, it strikes me like something that would make for a hilarious scene in a movie.  Maybe something starring John Goodman?
  • Triple H, despite not appearing in person on either show, was backstage for both RAW and SmackDown this week... the decision has been made to build a bit of mystery about his true allegiance after Shawn Michaels claim on RAW that HHH would join the nWo.
  • Finally for today, a quick preview of tonight's NWA-TNA PPV...
    Building on the first two week's worth of angles, the main event tonight will pit Scott Hall and Brian Christopher against Jeff Jarrett and K-Krush.  Speaking purely as a north-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line resident, I'm hoping that the NASCAR drivers and country singers have concluded their participation in this storyline...
    Also tonight:  they'll be crowning tag team champions.  A four-team tournament will take place with Rod and Richard Johnson taking on Buff Bagwell/Gran Apolo in one semi-final, and Chris Harris/James Storm vs. Lenny/Bruce in the other.  The winners will meet later in the night.
    And of course, if you miss the show, you can bank on CRZ to have your full PPV recap here at OO.
  • Of course, the question is, will the recap be here at OO tomorrow, or will it wait till Friday?  Even I don't know the answer to that, as the OO update schedule for the July 4 holiday has yet to be finalized.  But I promise that every column/recap that is submitted this week will get posted by Friday afternoon.  The only major question mark is whether that includes me, myself, getting inspired to write something for the weekend.
    My guess is that'll be a function of whether there's any news really worth writing about.
    In the meantime, since this is a holiday that often involves mixing novelty explosives and alcohol, I'll close with a simple wish that you all have fun and be careful (and don't pull a Vader!).  Provided you're one of my American readers, anyway.
    The rest of you, get back to work!  It ain't YOUR country's birthday!


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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