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RAW, Ratings, Steiner, and More!
September 30, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


September, be gone!  The Rick's favorite month is nearly here: October.  The cooling weather, the baseball playoffs, the time change so it starts to get dark earlier (which is important if you have a self-imposed rule about not drinking till the sun goes down on weekdays), the beginning of college basketball, and of course, an on-going Onslaught of pro rasslin' news:
  • Tonight should be interesting.  Last week, RAW took a baby step forward, only to get blown out of the water by an edition of SmackDown! that ranks among the best 2 hours of free wrestling in recent memory.
    What happens now?  Can RAW learn from what's making SD! click and replicate it?  Will they simply stay the course and keep making steady progress towards doing their unique RAW-style show as best they can? Is it even possible that frustration from ass-kickings at the hands of SD! could set in, leading to demoralization?  [Is it possible that last could actually be used in a storyline fashioned starting from the "smart" perspective, but which was still compelling and interesting to the masses?  I have an idea long those lines, but it's for another time and place...]
    We can't know for sure till tonight, but it never hurts to take a few informed guesses at what to expect...
    For starters, whether it was the intended result last week or not, we've got ourselves a situation in which Rob Van Dam looks like he's staying right on top as #1 Contender to Triple H's "World" Title.  When Bubba Dudley's arm injury prevented him from completing a post-match spot, RVD picked up the pieces and put the champ through a table.  Result: whatever steam Bubba was picking up diminished, and now HHH has another month's worth of reasons to be pissed off at RVD.
    There is also the matter of Triple H now being accompanied by Ric Flair.  Flair is, ironically enough, just about the most convincing and physically capable "manager" since he himself was managed by Curt Hennig.  It lends an interesting dynamic to HHH's feuds, now... even if you want to be a cynic and suggest that this is all just the set up for HHH to turn against Flair, which in turn sets up Flair's farewell feud and retirement match against HHH (who grew up idolizing Flair and who I'm sure would love nothing better than to use his massive political clout and backstage headgames to beat Flair in Flair's last match).
    Also tonight, we know for sure that we're gonna get a Booker T and Goldust vs. Rosie and Jamal tag match.  The show is taking place in Booker's hometown of Houston, TX, and if we learned anything last week, it's that the Fed's not afraid to use a hometown buzz to get some cheap heat (witness Rey Mysterio!).  You could use it tonight by having Booker go over for a huge pop; or you could use it to get massive heel heat on Bischoff's hit squad by having them cheat to put one over on Booker.  Either way, it should be a big part of tonight's telecast.
    In other (potential) developments:  the new tag champs are Kane and Hurricane, which means that we can look for two things; one, continued displays of "freakish" charisma from Kane, and two, probably some more title challenges from the UnAmericans (at least till Rosie and Jamal are deemed #1 contenders)...  Chris Jericho is also a new title holder, and also doesn't have a clear-cut feud with anyone, so hopefully he'll get some direction this week.  turns out Jazz is still several weeks away from returning, so Trish and her newly won women's title have to spin their wheels a bit longer...  hopefully Tommy Dreamer will maintain some level of visibility, as they'll announce that he injured Chris Nowinski, necessitating surgery and up to 6 weeks of recovery time for the Harvard graduate...  hopefully, if they are intent on pushing the Big Show or making Randy Orton seem like a bigger deal than he is, they'll give both something more compelling to do than they did last week... and lastly, if you're up on last night's Heat, you know D'Lo Brown has left his announce position on the show (which hopefully translates into getting more TV time on RAW)....
    Check out tonight's RAW.  But if you miss it, you know OO's got your back.  This week, CRZ is otherwise occupied, and has told me to expect a recap from his designated replacement, the Cubs Fan.  [For all his fancy excuses, I suspect Z is actually just taking the week off to mentally prepare for the inevitable: when my Yankees once again defeat his A's en route to another American League pennant! Anaheim and Minnesota?  P'shaw...]
  • Last week, on the first Thursday with a full slate of the fall's new TV shows, SmackDown! wound up doing a final broadcast rating of 3.6.  That is actually UP a tenth of a point from the previous week's final rating.
    Considering that the competition was stiffer this last week and that the overnight rating was actually down, the news of this final rating has got to be a pleasant surprise for the Fed.  
    What's even better is that those who tuned in in slightly larger-than-expected numbers were treated to a fantastic show.  Which in turn might just mean that they'll come back for more in coming weeks.
  • Scott Steiner's first domestic house show wrestling appearance since the demise of WCW is just a few weeks away.  Over the weekend, I got an e-mail announcing that Steiner would be a part of a Stars and Stripes Championship Wrestling event called "Hell-o-ween" on October 29.
    SSCW hasn't announced an opponent for Steiner, though the promised line-up has a plethora of east coast indie performers who could easily and convincingly be sacrificed at the altar of Big Poppa Pump. [Steve Corino is actually just about the only other name scheduled for the show that most of us would recognize.]
    Steiner, who has worked mostly in Japan since WCW went under, has also appeared on a couple of domestic pay-per-view events (one of which was actually taped here in the States, in Las Vegas). So for all intents and purposes, this booking opens up a new chapter in the career of Steiner... not an all-star overseas tour with events taped for PPV.  Not a major Japanese show.  Just a plain old indie event.
    If this signifies that Steiner is healthy and willing to ramp up his work schedule, perhaps that's actually a good thing.  We'll have to see...
    Additional info about Steiner's indie debut can be found at www.SSCWWrestling.com
  • The RAW roster will, indeed, the one making the next international tour for the Fed.  They will perform three shows in India in late November.  And according to this weekend's WWE.com Ross Report, they will also be the roster that travels to Asia for a tour in January of next year.
    The SD! crew has been the one doing most of the traveling lately... and although the RAW team did not distinguish itself on its last international journey (remember the ill-fated trans-Atlantic flight?), I'm sure there's been sufficient turnover and maturation to ensure that their upcoming trip will be pleasantly uneventful.
    The SD! roster actually has WWE's next international duties, with a European tour scheduled for late October (culminating at Rebellion, a Europe-only PPV).  The RAW roster made the Fed's Europe tour earlier this year (just as the SD! crew did the last swing through Asia), so it's quite apparent that the plan is to rotate the two rosters through each international "region" about once each per year...
  • Other stuff from the Ross Report:
    Perhaps the most out-right intriguing thing mentioned by JR was that the Fed met with Ultimo Dragon (Yoshi Asai) prior to RAW tapings in Anaheim on Monday.  And now, the hope is that Ultimo will become "an active part" of the WWE roster in 2003.  
    Dragon retired due to injury a few years back, though now it seems that he didn't necessarily have to.  A "botched" arm surgery has been corrected, and JR says that Dragon would like to get back into the ring.  
    At a time when the breath-taking high-flying of your Rey Mysterios and Jushin Ligers was the defining style of the lightheavyweights, Ultimo Dragon quickly became my favorite from that division when he debuted in WCW.  I even started trading for some of his tapes from Japan.  He did his share of high-flying, mind you (why do you think they call it an ASAI moonsault?), but he worked in stiffer, more submission-based elements, too.  I don't know what Ultimo 2003 will have left in the tank, but it's my guess that Dragon vs. Tajiri would be just about the perfect pairing to showcase that combo of high-flying and "cruiserweight Chris Benoit" type crispness.
    I'd pay good money to see it, anyway...
    Also from JR:  Mike Awesome, Shawn Stasiak, and Horace Hogan were all released from WWE last week (Stasiak actually wrestled on Heat tapings before getting the bad news); the usual lip service was given to the possibility of working with any or all of them again in the future if they got the right "seasoning"...  Eddie Guerrero took the weekend off to deal with an upper respiratory infection (Chavo took his place at house shows)...  Kanyon will be medically cleared in two weeks, then spend about a month getting his timing back in OVW...  Nick Dinsmore, Doug Basham, and Rob Conway were all mentioned as the possibly next round of developmental talents ready to get called up...  over the next month, there will be mixed-crew house shows, taking place mostly in Canada and upstate New York, as the Fed tries to maneuver as many of their Canadian talents into spots on north-of-the-border shows as they can...  Bubba Dudley's pinched nerve will not stop him from wrestling; he remains on the active roster...  
  • A report from the WWE's annual stockholder's meeting (held Friday at The World in NYC) included at least one VERY interesting item:  that the Fed has an interest in reviving the ECW brand name and acquiring the ECW video library.
    After the more blasť events of the night (which included voting to keep the current board of directors, etc., etc., etc...), Vince McMahon started a Q&A session.  It sounded like he was about as honest as possible with regards to the WWE's current performance, while still making sure to put a positive spin on it, saying that they'll get the formula to this brand extension thing right soon enough, and then BAM! it's back to fat city, baby.
    That, of course, was not an exact quote.
    When asked about WCW, Vince said it had obviously been the hope that they would have been able to use the WCW brand as part of the brand extension, but that they didn't get it right the first time.  The report made it sound like Vince pretty much buried any possibility of the WCW name being brought back.
    But conversely, Vince then stated that WWE is trying to obtain the rights to ECW's tape library in bankruptcy proceedings, and that they'd like to revive the ECW brand for a late night show once a week.  Of course, that nugget came with the caveat that they'd only turn their attention to that project after they got their own house in order.
    And a note of final interest: with regards to the Fed's own expansive tape library, Vince said that yes, they'd like to find some way to make it available to fans, but that it wouldn't take the form of any sort of free TV show (such as the "WWF Classics" show that is available overseas).  Vince said he envisioned it as something that would appeal mostly to diehard fans (and not a mass audience), so therefore would require fans to pay for it to be a money-making proposition.  No idea if that means PPV, video releases, or some visionary project taking advantage of the video-on-demand capability now available on most digital cable systems (which would actually be something I could get interested in).
  • Following up on an item from Friday: I got e-mail from two more indie promoters who said that "Road Dogg" Brian James had used the identical car wreck excuse to get himself unbooked from shows (in different parts of the country, months apart, so no, there is not one seminal accident, either).
    Just something to keep in mind the next time James is said to have an accident over the weekend, but still appears on a TNA PPV four days later...
  • Lastly for today, I have to apologize to Mark Coale... in my rush to get the column done on Friday, I forgot he'd asked me to  plug his appearance at a comics convention over the weekend.
    So in lieu of sending anyone to the ACME comics show, I'll try to send you to check out Mark's Odessa Steps Magazine, directly.
    There.  Hopefully that gets my karma back level again...
  • Special closing message for fans in Houston and Lafayette:  if you attend TV tapings, you are hereby encouraged to send along recaps and reports of the events.  It's all in the name of SPOILERS, baby.
    See you folks again on Wednesday... 


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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