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RAW Ripped by TNN, Rating, India
Tour is On, and More...
September 11, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Before we get started...

I had trouble enough finding the right words after last September 11, and I don't have any particular misconceptions about my rhetorical ability a year later, but I do want to say this:  do what YOU have to do today, folks.  But try not to simply become just another mindless ratings notch in somebody's irresponsibly-programmed belt.  There's something vaguely morbid about the way 90% of the "memorial" events/specials are being promoted, if you ask me.

I remember it.  You remember it.  And I'm sure, in the end, that's what really matters.  And it leaves us today to drop the issue during this shared time.  So I'll slap the muzzle on myself, so that the only things out of my mouth are rasslin'-related.  Or mostly, anyway...

Here goes:

  • You can't think back to Monday's RAW without practically wishing for Jerry Lawler to undergo elective surgery to remove his vocal chords.  Wait:  Lawler and elective surgery?  Oh, never mind...  [maybe more later]
    It's telling that one of the segments of the show I enjoyed the most was the Kane/Bradshaw/UnAmericans opener... I mean, I thought it had a solid old school appeal in terms of ring work, it had the so-sensible-I-didn't-even-think-of-it-myself turn by William Regal (joining the UnAmericans), but mostly, it took place immediately preceding the "huge announcement" that we'd be getting Hot Lesbian Action later in the night.
    Because before the announcement, Lawler was relatively demure and on-task.  After the announcement, he was unbearable.
    What?  You argue that maybe Lawler was just doing his job, trying to sell the product as hard as he could?  Or maybe you argue that it's just part of his gimmick, which resonates with much of the Fed's target audience (which doesn't include the over-the-hill 20-something Rick Scaia)?
    Well, on the first issue, my response is simple:  sometimes, the product doesn't deserve the hard sell.  This is one of those times.  I like the idea of lesbians as much as anybody.  I can't explain why, it's just an appealing idea.  Remember the study that showed that men, on average, have a few million more brain cells than women?  Maybe that's the region of the brain dedicated exclusively to lesbian fantasies?
    But does it belong on a TV wrestling show?  There's the rub...  and to me, it's not even an issue of "appropriateness."  It's an issue of "is anyone gonna care about this?".  What percentage of the audience heard Bischoff's announcement, and immediately prepared the Kleenex and the hand lotion in anticipation of some spank-worthy HLA?  OK, these are wrestling fans we're talking about, so I'd be willing to put it as distressingly high a figure as 0.5%.  And now the big question:  did Lawler's embarrassingly pubescent screeching raise the percentage at all?  I really doubt it.
    No fans out there actually thought we were gonna see anything that "pushed the envelope."  Two girls kissing, alas, has become passť.  So passť that trying to use it signifies two things: (1) that the Fed is resorting to desperation tactics, but (2) they've become disconnected from pop culture to the extent that they no longer understand what's edgy enough to signify true desperation.
    So then, by the end of the first commercial break after Bischoff's announcement, I'm guessing 85% of us had it figured out:  somehow the Lesbians would get a Three Minute Warning before things went too far.  It was the only logical out, and my certainty grew as the Island Boyz made no appearance prior to the lesbians.  
    So does the angle work from the perspective of "Well, we did it so that fans would get pissed because Rosie and Jamal stole their chance to see HLA?"...  I don't think so.  Maybe there was a faint "asshole" chant as they left, but for fans to get REALLY worked up, I think the Island Boyz would had to have interrupted something that the fans ACTUALLY BELIEVED MIGHT HAPPEN.  Few, if any, believed any Hot Lesbian Action was forthcoming.  Rosie and Jamal were the obvious "out," and NOT the heelish usurpers.  Thus, no dice on the cheap heat.  [I will grant this:  Once it was go time, the girls did their jobs well, taking a couple wicked-looking bumps that, in a better storyline context, would certainly have made the Island Boyz look like the biggest assholes in the world.]
    I guarantee you, there's nothing even remotely "edgy" about a Stacy vs. Terri evening gown match.  But fans would go into that thing EXPECTING to see at least one girl in her undergarments.  If Rosie and Jamal interrupted THAT, believe me, they'd get heat.  And then if Lawler wanted to get briefly indignant about it, maybe we'd all sympathize just a little bit.  I mean, who among us wouldn't feel gypped if they promised us Stacy's ass, and then didn't follow through?
    But that's exactly the point with Lawler on Monday:  I'm guessing no one in the audience was on the same wavelength as him.  If it was just Lawler under instructions to give us the hard sell, then I'm sorry he got handed such weak material...
    However, on the second issue of Lawler possibly just flying off the handle on his own, playing up the gimmick he's spent so long perfecting, I don't really know what to say.  Maybe there are 12- and 13-year-olds who are just old enough to have that glimmer of understanding of why two girls kissing might be really cool, but who for some reason, haven't quite managed to figure out the great mystery of obtaining Real Porn before your 18th birthday.  Because in my mind, that's the rather narrow audience for Lawler's presentation...  too narrow an audience, if you ask me.
    I just know I'm well outside of it, and so maybe I'm starting to get crotchety in my old age.  I'll drop this second issue, simply because I don't know what the intention is, and I also just don't know if maybe it's actually working with an intended part of the audience that does not include me.  If so, bravo.  [But why do I suspect it sucks for just about 95% of us?]
    Most perversely amusing part about the whole ordeal?  The image of Eric Bischoff presiding over two chicks making out.  And -- what? -- 2 percent of us get that little in-joke?  Luckily for Sleazy E, he'll actually REMEMBER it this time!  Tee hee!
    And I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here...  actually, it was kind of my intention to drag this out a LITTLE bit, in an ironic twist.  I mean, the Fed made HLA such a big (but sucky) part of RAW on Monday, that I wanted to follow through (as I hinted at in my main page teaser for CRZ's recap) by doing the same thing on OO:  focus on HLA to the detriment of the rest of the show.
    But I've gone even further than I'd intended...  oh well.
    In addition to the quality, old school opener, I also would have given a hearty round of applause to the main event, had it not taken place on a show with such distractingly bad material on the undercard.  I am a huge fan of getting RVD up there into the World Title mix, and I think they've done a good job the past two weeks of getting him the big wins necessary so that fans won't just pop because he does wacky moves:  they might actually pop because they think he'll win.
    The main event also featured good work with RVD, Jericho, and Hardy.  And I even liked the way they wrote Big Show out (with Jericho selling Earl Hebner on a non-existent chairshot to get Show DQ'ed).  A funny and assholish thing for Jericho to get away with...
    What else?  

    Ummm...  I really like Trish, and even with only a very small sample size of her appearances to work from, I want to like Victoria (looking at her, I think in lieu of the real deal, she could sort of be the New Ivory!).  But asking those two to try to carry Terri and Stacy to something that resembles a genuine wrestling match is probably not a good idea.  At best, they asked them to go too long.  At worst, well, let's just say that -- despite the amount of pure hotness in the ring -- this thing somehow still bordered on Bowling Shoe Ugly at times.
    And: it's nice to see that the proverbial great minds think alike.  I actually thought I'd be all clever by pointing out that HHH vs. Spike was a lot like HHH/Taka from a few years ago.  Except not QUITE as good and dramatic.  Of course, I believe both CRZ and SK beat me to the punch.  Good for them.  They nailed it exactly.  Basically an effective segment, yes, but not so memorable that in a few years, people will be remembering it as an archetypal match (like we do HHH/Taka).
    Wasted night for Booker and Goldust:  their match against Regal/Test was tepid from a crowd heat perspective, and kinda pointless from mine (it was a rehash of the opener, really, since you could see the schmozz coming down Fifth Avenue).  Their backstage promo was only marginally more entertaining.  Also in the "pointless" category:  Dreamer and Nowinski's confrontation and Bubba vs. Richards (which gets points for being a hard-fought six minute match, but loses them back because the creative team handed them a Heat-caliber premise to work from).
    Again, not a particularly strong showing for the RAW brand.  It seems like there's always something annoying to mask the good stuff that does exist...  CRZ got the full details right here.
  • The rating for Monday's show was down to a 3.4, which is a lose of nearly a half-point from recent efforts.  Since there's usually a drag effect (after a notably good/bad show, the audience doesn't increase/shrink until the week after or later), either that represents fan displeasure with past editions of RAW, or was the result of factors other than critical opinion of this week's show.
    Likeliest candidate:  the regular season debut of Monday Night Football.  Although it was the lowest rated MNF debut in a long time, the game between the Patriots and the Steelers still did very well among young males, which is WWE's target demographic.
  • And while RAW took a bath in the ratings, that may wind up being only the SECOND worst thing to come out of Monday Night.  That's because on Tuesday, TNN officials released a statement saying that they do not condone the content of Monday night's RAW, and that they are "working diligently" to ensure that stuff like that is never presented on their network again.
    Just what the Fed needs:  at a time when they already seem a bit low on ideas, the network they're on is gonna slap some creative handcuffs on them?  Hey, I know: let's draw a parallel to the dying days of WCW?  Or is that more of 2001 thing to do?
    I'll say this:  like I alluded to above, I didn't think there was anything particularly edgy about the TV-PG lesbians.  It's been done before, and on broadcast networks, to boot.  TNN can kiss my ass if they think any boundaries of good taste were broken on RAW.  The part of me that likes being entertained may have been wounded on Monday night, but my sense of morals sure as hell weren't.
    And what's the big difference between using a marriage between two gay guys as a publicity stunt and using affections between two women for titillation?  One gets written up in Variety, and the other is worthy of network condemnation?  They both amount to using alternative lifestyles as a sideshow, while not outright mocking or jeering the lifestyle itself... maybe not in the best of taste, but certainly nobody's getting hurt.
  • And the last bit from Monday:  the lesbians were Savvy ("Tanya") and Looney Lane ("Jenny"), both of whom work for Ultimate Pro Wrestling in California... UPW supplied the Fed with John Cena a little while back, and has sort of had an unofficial developmental relationship with WWE going back a few years.
    I mention this mostly because of a wild coincidence.  For some reason, on Monday afternoon after I updated the site, I was going through some old papers, and came across a press kit that UPW sent me in 2000.  I barely picked it up and set it down again, but my mind did wander to the issue of "What ever happened to Looney Lane?"... in a documentary they had also sent, she and John Cena (then in full "Prototype" mode) were easily the most memorable things.  I'd say something nice about her enthusiasm for the business really shining through even in her very first performances, but it's probably just that I'm just a total sucker for the school girl get-up she was using back then...
    Six hours later, there she was on RAW.  Weird.
  • Billy and Chuck Mania is running wild.  They are booked on Howard Stern's radio show and the Today Show on NBC tomorrow morning, so check those out if you can... those appearances are in addition to all the press the duo have gotten in the past week (Variety, New York Post, ESPN's "PTI," etc...).
    Now, I've been saying for the past week that it's unreal the amount of hype going into a mid-card storyline, but the Fed's got a cool pay-off for the whole thing coming on Thursday night.  I STRONGLY advise, if you can, to avoid spoilers and just enjoy the angle.
    But if you are one of the curious type, we've of course, got the full results from tapings right here.
  • In response to a few queries:  the new "Triple H: That Damn Good" DVD that's been released IS different from "HHH: The Game."  Kind of.  From people who've seen both, there's a ton of overlap, though they are not identical.  "The Game" weaves stuff together in more "highlight-y" fashion, but "That Damn Good" is more a sequential presentation of full matches, I think.  But it's still all just HHH's career, so they cover essentially the same ground.
    The main difference is that WWE produced "That Damn Good" to be distributed solely by Best Buy and its subsidiaries, while "The Game" was a traditional video release.
    Having seen neither, I won't even try to dictate whether you need to buy both, or if just one will suffice...  but consensus seems to be that if you did pick up "The Game," you don't need to be in a rush to get this new one from Best Buy.
  • Also on the home video front:  two new ECW DVDs got released this week.  They are CyberSlam '99 (headlined by the Gangstas vs. the Dudleys vs. Axl/Balls in a cage match) and WrestlePalooza '97 (featuring the RVD/Sabu/Lawler "invasion of ECW" when all were representing WWF, along with the last Raven/Dreamer match EVER... sort of).
    Having seen both shows, I think I'd point you towards WrestlePalooza '97 as the DVD you ought to pick up if you're only gonna get one.  The WWF/Lawler stuff you'll get a kick out of from a historical perspective, and there are some really good matches, too.
  • WWE has announced plans to tour India later this year.  The tentative dates are November 21, 22, and 23.  It's been -- what? -- six years since WWE was last over there?  If one were a cynic, one could probably plot a correlation between WWE overseas ventures and popularity of the product on US soil...
    I do believe it'll be the RAW brand's turn to endure hours upon hours in the plane.  But we'll see about that...
  • Sean Waltman's first post-WWE booking is scheduled for next weekend...  Saturday, the 21st.  He'll be working for a group called 3PW at the former ECW Arena (once again dubbed The Viking Hall).
    In a press release, 3PW indicates that Waltman will wrestle under the name of Syxx-Pac.  Obviously, WWE holds the rights to "X-Pac."  And having obtained all former WCW properties, you'd figure plain old "Syxx" is out, too?  I wonder why "Syxx-Pac," then, would be legal?
    Anyway, Waltman is wrestling against Sabu, in a rematch of a seminal contest the two had back in very early 1993, slightly before Waltman debuted in the WWF, and well before anyone knew who Sabu even was.  It was on the undercard of an indie "super show" in Minneapolis, and tapes of it circulated to the extent that even *I* got my hands on a copy.  I have no idea how it'd stand up today, but back then, the stuff they did was impressive.
    Kevin Sullivan, Abdullah the Butcher, and a "strip-off" between Missy Hyatt, Jasmine St. Claire, and Kendra Jade are also promised for the show.  Get more info at www.3pwrestling.com, if you're interested.

  • Briefly back to Lawler (again), there are rumors going around that he had some cosmetic surgery done, and was still kind of puffy around the eyes, so that's why they had him wearing sunglasses and doing the gimmick with the binoculars.
    There's plenty of snide remarks that occur to me at this point, but I'm afraid my opinion of Lawler may be unfairly colored by Monday night at this point, so I'll refrain.  Don't you love it when cooler heads prevail?
  • Last thing:  on Monday, I'd said that some readers had done the match and mailed in to say the 500th Episode of RAW should be the one right after the New Year.  Well, some others have mailed in, and they believe that #500 will actually come at the very end of 2002.
    So guess what?  I decided to figure it out for myself, just to make sure.  And the verdict is:  assuming this past Monday was #485 (which I think is right, counting up from JR's claim of #480, at least), and assuming no pre-emptions, then RAW's 500th Episode will air on December 23, 2002.
    Which of course, is a terrible night to try to do something special.  The 23rd and 30th promise to be two of the Fed's lowest rated shows of the year, falling right smack-dab in the middle of the holidays as they do.  Better to do some revisionist history or get pre-empted twice, I say...
    Or just forget about #500, and hold the celebration for an extra three weeks.  Then, on Jan. 13, do a huge blow-out for RAW's tenth anniversary. [Actually, the anniversary would be Jan. 11, but that's a Saturday, so...]
    In any case, now you know EXACTLY which date will NOT feature RAW being turned into Nitro by that asshole Bischoff, no matter how cool an idea it seems to some of us.  
  • Later on, folks... see you again on Friday. 


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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