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RAW Preview, SD! Ratings News, More...
August 19, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Less than a week till SummerSlam, now...  let's get ourselves all up to speed on what's going on as we enter the home stretch for the second biggest PPV of the year:
  • Tonight's RAW has the potential to be a home run show.  The Triple H vs. the Rock main event, by itself, should lend a PPV-like atmosphere.
    Now, my understanding is that this'll be a non-title match, and that Rock vs. Brock Lesnar for the PPV is locked in.  But if ever the Fed was going to get cold feet with regards to Project Lesnar, and start looking for an alternate way to get the title off the Rock before he heads off to Hollywood, then I doubt they'd look much further than to HHH.  You HHH conspiracy theorists can read into that whatever the hell you want to...
    Still, more than likely, what we'll get will be a 12-15 minute non-title main event that should stand on its own merits as a wrestling match, but which will also be the night's excuse for carting Shawn Michaels out to screw with HHH.  Or so it would seem:  the angle between Michaels and HHH has had HBK getting Pedigreed one week, getting hospitalized following an attack the next, and then getting verbally abused just last week.  My understanding of how wrestling storylines works would seem to indicate that Michaels is due, tonight, for some mild retribution to give fans hope that he might be able to win Sunday at SummerSlam.
    Since the Rock is leaving the Fed soon, it's not as imperative that this be a clean finish or that he come out looking strong; having Michaels basically win the match for Rocky would work out really well, I think.  [Of course, an alternate way to go would be to build up the "mystique factor" of Michaels comeback, and have him stay off TV until the PPV...  but like I said last week, I'm not so big a fan of the history vignettes and Rocky-style "he's in seclusion training his ass off" hype.]
    RAW's other marquee feud heading into the PPV is Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho.  Last week, the two advanced their issue within the confines of a tag match:  Jericho was the winner, but Flair got the last laugh when he pantsed Y2J.  This week, the hostilities will probably take a less physical form, since Jericho's band, Fozzy, is slated to perform a song.  I definitely envision a verbal confrontation (perhaps even a musical one, if Jericho decides to personalize some lyrics for the occasion?), rather than another in-ring confrontation, putting the final touches on this rivalry.
    RAW will also be contributing a tag title match to SummerSlam, in the form of Booker T/Goldust vs. the UnAmericans.  I'm not sure if you go with a singles match to build interest in that, or if you recycle elements of last week's 8-man-tag main event and have the tag title feud join forces with the less-promising Taker/Test feud to go with a six-man match tonight...  also, remember that RVD will be in the same boat as the Rock tonight:  his PPV opponent isn't on this show, so he'll just be marking time.
    It would also not surprise me at all if we finalized a PPV match from the women's division, or came up with a mixed tag match scenario (I'd guess that the Nowinski/Molly storyline has been the one pegged as most-important-to-advance)...  the increasingly-entertaining Hardcore Division should get a spot on the PPV, too...  Bubba Dudley vs. Big Show seems to have an omni-present issue (perhaps they could be folded into some sort of big-ass Hardcore Title match?)... and although Raven is banned from RAW, it'd sure be nice to see him and D'Lo Brown get a proper place to showcase what is easily the Best Feud You're Not Watching (and I'm not talking about on the pre-PPV edition of Heat).
    All that, plus Eric Bischoff and a Three Minute Warning!  Since I doubt the Fed's got an 80-year-old female midget handy, I'm not exactly sure WHO will get the TMW treatment, but you know one's coming...  [Hey, I got it!  Do this:  have a troop of Boy Scouts show up, organizing some sort of protest against the UnAmericans.  Bischoff is annoyed at first, but then gives them a chance to go into the arena to voice their concerns and maybe sing a patriotic song.  Two minutes and 50 seconds later, Rosey and Jamal enter and fill the ring with adolescent road kill.  BWHAHAHAHAHA!  Oh, even better:  girls scouts want to sell cookies, and...  you get the picture!  And you hate yourself for it, but you love the idea!] 
    Check out the show tonight, or come on back tomorrow for CRZ's detailed recap...
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.5, which is up 0.8 from the week before, and in fact, is about as strongly as SD! has performed for UPN in recent memory.  Take it as proof that pre-emptions in major markets were the key reason driving the prior week's abysmal ratings performance.
    WWE needs to build momentum while it can.  Regular season Monday Night Football and brand-new episodes of Friends, Survivor, and the like are all starting up in the next few weeks, and are sure to take at least a small bite out of the audience for wrestling.
  • A week after being pulled from a return match as part of the Australia tour, Maven's injury status has taken a turn for a worse.  Though his broken leg is healing, he was just diagnosed with previously-unidentified ligament damage in his ankle.  The torn ligaments were missed because everybody was focusing on the more severe-seeming broken fibula.
    The prognosis is that Maven will now be sidelined an additional 2 months while rehabbing the ankle.  No surgery should be required at this point.
  • The lead female role for the Rock's upcoming "Helldorado" has been cast:  it'll be Rosario Dawson, who was one of the Pussycats last year, and who is the female lead in this summer's "Men in Black 2."
    Universal Pictures is doing a nice job of surrounding the Rock with capable, recognizable people.  Christopher Walken is the movie's lead bad guy, something he should excel at; the Rock's buddy co-star is Seann William Scott, of "American Pie" and "Dude Where's My Car" infamy.  Even the director, Peter Berg (himself a prolific actor), counts the very-amusing "Very Bad Things" among his writing/directing credits.
    Filming on "Helldorado" starts in mid-Septmeber, which is why the Rock shouldn't have designs on holding the Undisputed Title much longer.  I'd say write him off after Labor Day, at the latest.
  • The always-worthwhile Smoking Gun website has obtained the arrest warrant for one Steve Williams (a/k/a Steve Austin)...  if you're interested in such things, you can see it by clicking here.
  • Fresh off the success of the Australia "Global Warning" tour, WWE is now going full-speed ahead with planning their next international excursion.  
    Currently, a four-show European tour is in the works for later this autumn, which will culminate in the annual Europe-only Insurrextion (or is this one Rebellion?) PPV in England.  Other stops will include Ireland and Finland.  [Last time through, the Fed included Germany and Scotland along with England.]  Confirmed dates and ticket information should be forthcoming soon.
    Also different this time:  the SmackDown! crew will be the one making the trip.  The last Europe tour, back in May, featured the RAW brand stars, and more infamously, featured a shitload of drunken buffoonery on the plane ride home.  So hours upon hours in a plane is the SD! roster's reward for being well-behaved?
    But I'd guess that this means that the RAW roster is up whenever the Fed decides to go back to Asia or Australia... 

  • A few quick things from JR's latest WWE.com Ross Report:
    Booker T is in line to film another Hungry Man commercial in the near future; Trish and Bubba Dudley will be doing the next installment in the Fed's Stacker 2 commercial series....  Hulk Hogan's bio is is near completion and should be out in November; Jerry Lawler's similar effort will follow, sometime in early 2003...  the revamped OVW (now the Fed's only developmental league) will be having a grand opening for its new facility on September 4; JR and a bunch of OVW alumns will be part of the grand opening show...  JR paid the usual lip service to Goldberg (WWE wants to talk to him sooner, rather than later, but there's no real forward progress), Bret Hart (wishes him well for a recovery, and says it'd be nice to sit down and talk to Bret again someday), and Steve Austin (he and Debra will land on their feet, but nothing is said about a return to action)...
  • Lastly for today, another chance for OO Readers who want to get hooked up with a Fantasy Football League.  OO Reader "Bonestein" has a league looking for players.  Just go to Yahoo's Fantasy Football, choose to join a private league, and then enter ID# 27678 (password:  "beer").  As always, you gotta move quick if you want one of these spots; from what I hear back, they fill up awfully fast.
    Also, longtime OO-ite Mark Testagrossa has an interesting alternative for football fans who want to flex their gridiron muscles:  he's set up a Football Pick 'Em group on Yahoo (where you pick the winners and losers of games every week).  To join up, just go to Yahoo's Pick 'Em Page, and choose to join a private group;  the league ID# is 10689 (password: "evad").  I don't think there is a limit on the group size, so hopefully a ton of OO readers will pile on!
  • If you attend TV tapings either tonight or tomorrow, the standing offer remains:  pass along a report from the show(s), and you'll get my eternal thanks and gratitude in return.  That, along with $2.50, oughta get you a beer at most bars and taverns...
    I'll see you again on Wednesday with news and TV spoilers!


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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