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Big RAW Fall-out, TNA News/Preview,
Some Other NewsBites....
July 24, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Here's a helping of midweek news to help make your life more meaningful:
  • Monday's RAW was, in my mind, a very good effort.  The Fed's Quality TV Streak stands at 4 (dating back to the previous week's RAW), in my mind.  It's not a "Perfect TV Streak," but the simple act of pitting RAW vs. SD in the "General Manager Era" has done a LOT to place the entirety of the product in to a much more compelling context.
    Case in point on RAW:  even Big Show vs. Spike Dudley existed for a reason.  And for a reason I care about.  Two weeks ago, no all-encompassing angle existed to make that seem like a worthwhile match.  Now today, it's part of Eric Bischoff's rehabilitation of his one-time dominant WCW Champion, the Giant/Big Show.  Will Show ever revert back to the "promising big man" form he displayed (remember when he was rumored to be working on a moonsault at the Power Plant?) back in WCW?  Maybe, maybe not, but at least here's a reason for fans to think that he MIGHT be something more than the mid-carder he's become in the last 2 years.
    And on Monday, Show/Spike was the closest to a throwaway match as we got, so I think that speaks pretty highly of the whole show.
    Matchwise, both RVD/Hardy and Eddie/Rock were about as good as you'll get on free TV.  Booker/Benoit wasn't totally tight, but it was a good RAW match, too.  Give me that level of in-ring action, and I guess I'll be pretty happy.
    Then, storyline-wise, it was a very successful effort.  The HHH/Michaels story arc (starting with HHH begging HBK to stay, and ending with him delivering a Pedigree on his "best friend") was absolutely the right way to go.  The DX tease tantalized the fans, and when HHH pulled the rug out from under them, BAM!, you got yourself an ultra-over heel.  I await HHH's reasoning/mission statement next week, and I hope that the fanboy in my is right:  that this is building, eventually, to Michaels' in-ring return (some of HBK's best matches came against his fellow Cliquesters, afterall!).  And smarks everywhere rejoiced when they unified the Euro and IC Titles!  One less meaningless title!  [Question:  the Euro Title was important enough that it moved William Regal to tears, and now it's gone... but Regal didn't say one word about it on RAW.  Whassupwidat?]
    Also, the Nitro-fication of RAW is an interesting slant:  Bischoff was positively EVERYwhere on Monday night, just like the old days.  And then, when he sat himself down at the commentary table, which was repositioned in the back of the arena, well, let's just say it was deja vu all over again.  With a completely straight face, I can also tell you that I thought Bischoff was the night's most valuable performer, too.  He was the straw that stirred the drink in the majority of key segments, and each time he was able to convey that "I'm a gigantic prick" vibe without needing a 20 minute promo to do it in.  
    What kept the show from being perfect?  Little things, mostly...  such as the fact that I honestly think that the Rock is pushing a bit too much these days.  He's got such a reputation for being "entertaining" and funny that he's going out there with ridiculous, over-the-top material without stopping to make sure that it actually is entertaining and funny.  Riffing on Cheech on Chong and singing to Eddie Guerrero?  Just didn't fit in, to me.  Luckily, Eddie still kept the promo from tanking too horribly by being so convincingly enraged by the Rock's silliness.
    Also:  the show-closing "tag" with Brock riding off with Stephanie wasn't quite cataclysmic enough to be the final element of the show, in my mind.  Lesnar is not at that level, yet.  I don't know how you could have re-structured it so that Lesnar still does the run-in on the Rock, still rides off with Steph, but is NOT the last part of the show, but if I was doing anything other than making this up as I go along, I'm sure I could have thought of something.  Also, a missed opportunity:  Steph should have laid off the retarded "testicles" thing and simply quipped "Hey, Eric... you, ah, put on a little weight there?" as she drove off.  Heh heh heh. 
    Still, good far outweighs the bad, and so far, I'm liking this General Manager concept and the way it's finally given us a reason to buy into the brand split.  A full recap of RAW's full slate of action is available in The OO RAW Recap.  Our recapper today is The Cubs Fan (our regular guy for Heat), who was in the right spot at the right time when the Wheel of Destiny was spun.  Only time will tell who else might be called in for duty in future weeks....
  • And on a night when the Fed churned out a good show, the fans turned out in big numbers.  RAW delivered a 4.3 cable rating on Monday night, up a full half-point from the week before, and breaking the 4.0 barrier for the first time in a while.
    Time will tell whether that increase is a post-PPV "let's see who won last night" increase, or the more sustainable word-of-mouth "I heard good stuff happened last week and I think I'll tune in and see for myself" increase...
  • Chris Kanyon was just about ready to return to WWE TV after a lengthy injury lay-off (due to knee surgery), but that might be delayed, now.  Word is that Kanyon suffered a shoulder injury while honoring some final commitments to HWA.  Severity of the injury is unknown, but the hope is that it's minor and won't impede Kanyon's return too much.
    Kanyon's a great worker, but also a guy who can talk his way into huge heel heat, I think.  That's a valuable asset, if you ask me.  Still, there's another part of me that wonders, "If DDP isn't totally sold on going back into broadcasting, maybe he'd be successful returning to managing?"  And the first logical choice for him to manage:  his buddy Kanyon.
  • WWE issued "revised guidance" for its investors on Monday.  Basically, the deal is that each year/quarter, a publicly traded company forecasts its earnings based on the best available data.  Investors use those forecasts to make buy/sell decisions.
    In this case, WWE's forecasts turned out to be a little too optimistic, and had to be revised downward.  The most dramatic revisions were to PPV buys (down to 5.6 million from the originally predicted 7.2 million for fiscal 2003, which actually started on May 1, 2002) and live event attendence (down from 2.6 million to 2.2 million).  Overall, WWE revised total revenue to remain flat, instead of an originally forecasted gain of 7%.
    The press release accompanying the revised guidance also said that WWE has also decided to make $20 million in cuts to its operating budget to help offset some of these downward trends.
    The stock is trading around the $9.50 range, and the revisions don't seem to have impacted its price as much as the recent over-all stock market plunge has... as recently as July 1, the WWE stock was trading over $14.00, but has been in the $10 range for the past week and a half.
  • Reports that Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross were upset about being asked to split Sunday's Vengeance PPV with the SD crew of Michael Cole and Tazz are probably a bit exaggerated.  The way the decision was relayed to Lawler and JR may have been the bigger issue (they were just about the last ones to know of the decision), because I think most rational people have been wondering about the PPV announcer set-up for months:  it just makes more sense to have both crews there calling matches, especially if the two shows are now genuinely in competition with each other.
    Of course, it does raise a sticky issue:  what in the blue hell kind of logic is there to having the SD announcers calling RAW matches and vice versa?  I know wrestling ain't rocket science, but there was something just a bit off about having Cole and Tazz acting like they were the acknowledged experts on the Dudleys vs. Benoit/Eddie table match and shit like that...  solution:  each crew calls its own brand's matches, and each crew has it's own announce table (hey, one more thing to break!).  Matches featuring mixed talent can either go to Ross and Lawler (due to seniority), or be called by a four-man booth (which would get annoying if used at all times, but which could give one match per night a special type of "big time" feel).
  • Following up on the tidbit from Monday about Rock's Title win at Vengeance... it is, indeed, the first time the WWWF/WWF/WWE Title has changed hands in July.  A few of you mailed in to say that you remembered Austin beating Taker at Fully Loaded '99 in July, but Austin was already the champion at that point (I believe he started that title reign on the post-KotR edition of RAW, in June), so he was simply retaining the title.
    But while I'm passing along reader-contributed bits of trivia, I would be remiss if I didn't include this one:  OO Reader Terry McMahon notes that with the Rock's win on Sunday, the WWE Title has now been held by seven different men in a row.  Dating back to last fall, they are:  Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, and now, the Rock.  Previously, the most different men to hold the WWWF/WWF/WWE Title all in a row was 6, back in '97-'98-ish (when you had Sid, Taker, Hart, Michaels, Austin, and Kane in a row).
    Terry also notes that, if you look at next month's PPV main event and add in the fact that the Rock is gone after SummerSlam to go make a movie, then it's very likely that Brock Lesnar will extend this record streak to 8....
  • Last Friday, I mentioned a Fantasy Football League for OO Readers... and later found out it filled up within an hour or so. D'oh.
    Intrigued by the idea of participating in an all-OO league, OO Reader M. Bubba Blume set up another league, just for fellow rasslin' fans.  If you want to join in, just go to Yahoo's Fantasy Football, and choose to "Join Private League."  The league ID# is 56244, and your password is "mondaynightwars".
    But do it fast, I guess... these spots fill up fast.
    Anybody else need a fantasy league plugged?
  • Lastly for today is the usual Wednesday bit of closing business:  NWA-TNA...
    First, let's get this bit of info out of the way:  with the PPV-only model not working out as well as hoped, TNA is going after a weekly TV deal that would expand behind the current Saturday-morning-in-Nashville market.  They're hammering out syndication deals that would include the trusty old America One network, so you may be able to get a free dose of TNA in your area sometime soon.  More on that as it develops.
    And more pressing, of course, is a quick preview of what to look for on tonight's PPV...
    The main event is intriguing, as former ECW mainstay Sabu gets a shot at Ken Shamrock's NWA Title in a Ladders vs. Submissions Match (basically, a ladder match where submissions also count).  Potential is there for a clash of styles, but the potential is also there for something really unique and special....
    In a tag title match featuring regulars in TNA's "X Division," champions Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles will defend against the Flying Elvises. The story here is that Lynn and Styles are actually feuding against each other (Lynn accuses Styles of hogging the spotlight) but are forced to team together since they're the champs.
    Also:  Apolo will face Brain "Don't Call Me Jerry's Kid" Lawler, Red Storm takes on Low Ki, Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger make their TNA debuts, and uber-heel Jeff Jarrett will be back in the building after causing a ruckus at last week's show and getting himself ejected.
    Check out the show on PPV...
  • OK, I'm finished for today.  And I'll warn you in advance that at least PART of Friday's column is going to be a big ol' Rant.  Oh, wait, that's Scott's thing...  I meant an "Oopinion" piece.  Which amounts to the same thing, I guess, but it's got a different name.
    I've got me an itch, and assuming there isn't just a shitload of news on Friday, I'm gonna scratch it.  My question is this:  by telling you this, did I make you more likely or less likely to make a weekend visit here?  Why do I fear the latter...
    Oh, well, stuff from other guys tomorrow (including another Smarkies!), and then one way or another, I'll see you on Friday!  Hasta....


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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