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RAW, Final SD! Number, More...
August 12, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


After a weekend away from the rasslin', let's try to get back on track with the usual Monday routine:
  • Tonight's RAW is gonna have to be looking to rebound from last week's effort, especially in terms of what promises to be the RAW brand's chief storyline heading into SummerSlam.
    Although in many significant ways, Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H will sell itself, the Fed's gotta do a better job of building up the feud than they did with last week's awkward and overlong face-to-face-but-only-via-satellite confrontation.  Removing the "via satellite" part should be a good start... and here's hoping they don't do the obvious "book by the numbers" thing and produce "Rocky III" style vignettes of Michaels training like he's never trained before.  [Although, now that I think of it, wouldn't it be a pretty cool parallel if somehow Steve Austin could be brought in to play the Apollo Creed role?  Just not Jose Lothario...]
    They don't need to re-invent the wheel because I'm sure most fans are like me:  now that Michaels is making his comeback, we're just really fired up to see how he performs.  A "less is more" approach would work just fine here... except then they should have started by doing less last week.  That clunky final segment now necessitates a bit of damage control, I think.  
    Beyond that top storyline, I suspect the second most entertaining aspect of the show to be the same thing it's been for the past several weeks:  Eric Bischoff and the warring GMs storyline.
    Bischoff was on SD! last week, intercepting some "time sensitive" documents, which I'm sure translates into "stealing another talent away from SmackDown."  But did Sleazy E intercept some new, incoming talent?  Or maybe just prevent some member of his established roster from defecting?  Or maybe those papers were related to a returning superstar? [In that last scenario, the just-medically-cleared Kane could play a key role...]
    Also, Bischoff is sure to continue with his Three Minute Warnings... I'm not positive how long you can keep this shtick rolling before you finally get the Island Boyz into an actual match, but I'd try to stretch at least another week or two.  Depending on how you want to align the tag team division, you could even have the pay-off of this whole thing be the Boyz being enticed to give a Three Minute Warning to Bischoff himself...  'cept that I'd rather leave a bigger window of time during which Booker T and Goldust could be the top babyface tag team.
    The RAW brand will also be contributing a Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho match to the SS PPV, so we'll get a healthy dose of those two tonight.  It should be a tremendous war or words, and then once it's go time in the ring, that should be pretty good, as well.  [Strange that Jericho loses the "Mr. Monday Night" crown to Rob Van Dam, but walks away with something that RVD doesn't have:  a match for the second biggest PPV of the year!]
    Other things to look for tonight:  WWE Champ, the Rock, will be on RAW tonight; unless Brock Lesnar makes an unscheduled appearance, Rocky will likely just be marking time...  whether its the Hardys or Booker/Goldust or some other combination, we're gonna have to establish some sort of feud for the tag titles held by Christian/Lance Storm...  Tommy Dreamer needs to get rid of the Texas decal on the hardcore title and then go out there and have killer extreme-style matches to help make that division as viable for RAW as the cruisers are for SD!...  Bubba Dudley vs. the Big Show doesn't exactly frost my pastry, but it doesn't look like it's going anywhere...  the Undertaker joins RVD on the "pretty big stars with nothing particularly pressing to do" list...  Victoria's win over Trish last week clouds the picture in the women's division; not that it matters, though, since it seems like the champion, Molly Holly, is going to be too busy involved a storyline involving Chris Nowinski and her deflowering to defend the title (and hey, does anyone else think this angle runs the risk of turning Nowinski babyface?  or am I overestimating the lewd and perverse nature of most wrestling fans?)...
    Check out RAW tonight, or just come on back to OO for CRZ's recap on Tuesday.
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! came in at a 2.7, down almost a half point from the week prior.  In fact, that number is just about the lowest I can remember for a non-holiday edition of SD!.
    However, a possible excuse does exist:  SD! did not air (in its scheduled timeslot) in either New York City or Los Angeles, the nation's two largest TV markets.  UPN affiliates pre-empted SD for baseball in those regions, which meant the Fed could not accrue any viewers from those markets.  Those two key pre-emptions may not have made a gigantic difference in the ratings, but they could easily be responsible for a 0.4 drop-off witnessed from the week previous.
  • With tonight's RAW live from Seattle and tomorrow's SD! tapings taking place in the same building, anticipation continues to mount that the Fed will make an official announcement regarding next year's WrestleMania venue.  If Seattle's Safeco Field really is the front runner, this would be the ideal time to make the proclamation...
  • WWE drew an announced crowd of over 56,700 for Saturday's Global Warning Tour event in Melbourne, Australia, setting an attendance record for the indoor Colonial Stadium.  Most reports said the show was entertaining, though not particularly newsworthy.
    In the main event, Triple H did wind up working, so it was a three-way match between HHH, Brock Lesnar, and WWE Champ The Rock.  Rock retained his title by pinning HHH.  The finish allows Lesnar to head into SummerSlam retaining his "never pinned or made to submit" title, while also giving Aussie fans a decisive finish in the main event.
    Following the main event, the Rock and HHH teamed up to lay out Lesnar and Paul Heyman.  The Aussie crowd had no problem cheering HHH as a huge babyface, despite his actions of last week.
    Click here for a full recap of the event, courtesy of Melbourne's own Mark Schumacher.
  • Though HHH did work as scheduled in Australia, two other guys weren't so lucky.  Maven was pulled from his match, as his broken leg is healing slower than anticipated.  And the Big Valbowski was a scratch after a weight-lifting incident left him needing 20 stitches in his head.
    Both Val and Maven made the trip overseas, however, and helped out in non-wrestling capacities on the show.  Val was a special guest ring announcer for a bra and panties match, while Maven seconded the all-Tough-Enough duo of Hardcore Holly and Chavo Guerrero.
    As outlined on Friday, Hulk Hogan's bad back resulted in him not even making his scheduled trip overseas.  It's still unclear just how limited his domestic schedule will be due to the injury.
  • NWA-TNA, for all its purported financial peril, is continuing to seek out new talents for its weekly PPVs.  Both Kid Kash (late-era ECW mainstay) and Shark Boy (indie sensation and favorite wrestler of Al Snow and Mick Foley) will be joining the roster, no doubt further fleshing out the company's X Division.
    At this rate, half the company will be working in the supposedly "exclusive" X Division...  not that I'm complaining.  Hell, I'll take an ALL-X-Division show over a product that features midgets with guns and men in evening gown matches...
  • A quick bit of detail about an aside comment I made last week, regarding Canadian viewers having the Island Boyz' attacks from the last two weeks edited out of RAW.
    I said that it was due to CRTC regulations that the attacks against Moolah, Mae Young, and Lillian Garcia were excised.  Long-time OO-ite James Kentner says that's not quite the case.  Rather, it is TSN's own internal regulatory system that decides what gets edited.  Unedited WWE programming airs on The Score (which airs SD!), which one would presume is subject to the same CRTC standards as TSN.
    TSN's squeamishness stems from incidents back in the "Attitude Era" when TSN took some heat (and even a mild spanking from the CRTC) for the content they allowed to be broadcast as part of RAW.  Now, even though other networks air SmackDown! unedited (as well as every other imaginable form of morally dubious entertainment), TSN continues to be very careful about what they allow onto the airwaves on RAW.
    Gotta be kind of annoying for you canucks....
  • Some interesting feedback from my Friday column, in which I posited that Chris Jericho was the most valuable WCW acquisition made by the WWF during the Monday Night Wars.  

    Mostly, the comments were along similar lines, and went something like this:  "Uh, Scaia, what about Steve Austin?"
    Some wanted Austin to receive the honor of being Most Valuable Acquisition of the War...  but others thought that he should be considered as the best of the post-Hogan, pre-war era acquisitions (along with Triple H and the Undertaker).  In either case, his omission from the column Friday is pretty inexcusable.  I mean, "outta sight, outta mind" and all, but you don't just forget Stone Cold.
    For whatever it's worth, I can't consider Austin's arrival in the WWF as being part of the Monday Night War era.  Though he did technically arrive in the WWF in the opening months of the War, Austin had actually parted ways with WCW before, and then spent a few months in ECW before surfacing in the WWF.  Austin's voyage to the WWF sort of straddles two different eras, but I'm inclined to place him in the post-Hogan, pre-War era simply because, even at the time of his debut in the WWF, the perception still hadn't been created that this was a genuine, bona fide, long term "war" when he showed up.
    In fact, it probably wasn't until May '96, when Scott Hall and Kevin Nash defected to WCW, that fan perceptions of how talent jumps and acquisitions really changed.  And so therefore, I stand by the claim I made on Friday:  what Hall and Nash were to WCW, that's what Jericho was (and is) to the WWF... the most vital pick-up of the entire Monday Night War era.
  • A quick note to anyone wondering what's been up with AltWrestling...  I just heard from Will Parrish over the weekend, and he'd been inconvenienced and demoralized following a major PC-related episode a month or so back.  He's just now getting back onto the 'net.  The precise status of AW is sort of in limbo just now, but the hope is that it shall be revitalized in one form or another.  Stay tuned.
  • Lastly, any readers out in Seattle who attend TV tapings tonight or tomorrow are encouraged to send along reports from the events.  Anything to help us get spoilers posted as promptly as possible on Wednesday!
    See you then...


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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