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RAW Stumbles (or Does it?)...
And Other Midweek News!
October 16, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


It seem like Monday's column was the kind where more people than usual actually took the time to reply to me in e-mail.  I think it's because of the heavy dose of non-wrestling at the end of it... 

For the half of you with whom my music suggestions did not register positively, I got a lot of "Shut up and just talk about wrestling, freak boy.  [Toby Keith/Korn/Eminem] is REAL music, and you don't know shit!"  I'd apologize to those types, but frankly, I didn't like their tone.

The other half seemed interested to know what records I'm endorsing lately, and either said one of two things: (1) that I'm wrong and that "White Blood Cells" came out in 2001, and not this year (I think another reader solved that mystery, and it was because there was a limited release last year, with a wide release early in 2002).  And (2) many of you sent in your own suggestions for bands I might check out, which is really cool.  I thought I'd Kazaa a few of them before I buy, but instead, I've discovered people have this moronic fixation with putting up bogus music files to share.  I think it's called "looping" and I'm only batting about .400 trying to avoid those files....  Annoying as all hell, it is.

Probably about as annoying as me prefacing my wrestling column with three paragraphs worth of non sequiturs.  Let's get to the real stuff:

  • Actually, if I wanted to delay getting to the wrestling talk, you can't really blame me.  I've got a good excuse:  Monday's RAW.
    There is simply, in the [fantasy?] world I live in, no room for crap like what we got between Triple H and Kane on Monday night.  At least not on my wrestling shows.  I guess you could put it on at 2 in the afternoon when I'm not watching TV, call it a soap opera, and I wouldn't give two shits.
    But not on my watch.  Please.
    If you missed it, consider yourself lucky.  Or go and read CRZ's Recap, in case you actually do want to catch up on the escapades of Kane the Hard-Drinking, Bad-Driving, Necrophiliac-Rapist Murderer, and his own personal Woodward and Bernstein named Triple H.
    And you know what scares me? I have a feeling we're not done with this just yet.  HHH made a point of saying he didn't ask for this, but rather had the information about Kane's past handed to him by some mysterious figure.  So I'm guessing we'll have more of this idiocy served up while the identity of HHH's "Deep Throat" is revealed...  and this person in turn becomes Kane's next feud after HHH.
    Normally, I'm very careful about distinguishing between what I think is good and what I think is marketable.  Because unlike most internet types, I can accept that a product designed solely to appeal to me would probably not do great business.  There's enough stuff out there designed solely to appeal to the masses that does not appeal to me for me to presume the converse (or is that inverse?) is true.
    I mention it because this is NOT an example of a story that is bad by my standards, but mega-box-office-waiting-to-happen by popular standards.  A mere observation of the live crowd will tell you all you need to know.  They were quiet.  Then they got restless, and started "What?"-ing Kane (something only reserved for Kurt Angle since Austin left).  When Kane finished his confession, instead of the supportive cheers that were hoped for, more boos were heard (whether they were booing the whole angle, or booing Kane specifically because he just completely ruined his character and became a pansy, I don't know).
    Triple H didn't make things any better.  Then again, the material he was handed included the word "semen" and accusations of corpse-raping, so he was hand-cuffed from the get-go.  The necrophilia is just plain wrong; it's the sort of thing that's a punchline to a joke.  But in this case, it was brought up in dire seriousness.  If this were a campy b-movie, the HHH/Kane showdown would have had me laughing my ass off, but in this context, it was just plain retarded.
    And as far as I'm concerned, whoever on the OO Message Boards editorialized that the word "semen" should not be a part of any wrestling programming ever, for as long as we all shall live, is dead-on right.  There's nothing wrong with semen (not nearly as wrong as with necrophilia, anyway), but "semen" is clearly a trigger word when it appears in the context of pro wrestling.  The sort of thing that alerts you that stupidity is forthcoming.  "Semen," outside of a laboratory or biology class, puts you on guard.
    And yes, I feel as awkward as you right now.  This is definitely the most I've ever used the word "semen" in any one place in my entire life.  Problem is, I know sometimes my mom reads this page for some strange reason, and I don't need her thinking that I'm using the hot new porn release "Hairy Peter and the Sorcerer's Stones" as my own personal thesaurus.  So "semen" it shall be!
    As stupid as this whole thing was from an aesthetic or intelligence-insulting perspective, there's a whole other reason it sucked that I've barely touched on, too.  Namely, in one fell swoop, we all have a lot less reason to believe in whatever it was that Kane stood for or that made him worth cheering.
    Before Monday:  Kane is the freakishly-scarred younger brother of the Undertaker.  His physical and mental wounds did not allow him to enter normal society until almost exactly five years ago, when Paul Bearer (who had cared for -- some say even FATHERED -- Kane) brings him out of seclusion to battle the Taker.  After gaining fans' respect following years of hardfought matches, and after continuing to recover from his unfortunate past (including surgery to repair his vocal chords), he even begins to develop self-esteem and personality.  He is still a "freak," but he can have fun and accept that.  Plus, he seven feet tall, kicks ass, and rarely looks back.
    After Monday:  Kane is a lot like you and me.  He was going to keggers 10 years ago, and did some things he's not very proud of.  If he's going to parties and picking up chicks, I doubt he's the dark, troubled, freakishly-scarred figure who could only communicate with a voice box held to his throat that we've come to accept at all!  He isn't being nurtured and sheltered by Paul Bearer, either, he's just a guy trying to break into wrestling on the indie circuit, with little concern for who his brother is, what his brother has done to him in the past, and what he hopes to do to his brother in return.  And plus: even despite his seven feet worth of ass kicking, he now turns into a whiny pussy if anyone utters the words "Katie Vick" or "Manual Transmission" to him.
    Which Kane do you like better?
    That's what I thought...  and it's got nothing to do with "reality" either, because I recognize that Kane #2 is actually the more "human" and more REAL character.  But in this particular entertainment form, fans are suspending their reality in a particular way.  And in our world Kane #1 is what we've accepted.  When you diverge from that Kane, you've got him acting in a manner inconsistant with what we believe about him.  The attempt at reality becomes the very definition of unrealistic.  In other words: we liked our Kane just fine the way he was.  You already sold us on his twisted past, you don't have to take it all back.
    This apparent complete lack of understanding on the part of the creative team boggles my mind.  It's the same thing that happened to Kurt Angle last year when they had him acting all macho with his heavy-duty vehicles and trying to throw Steve Austin off a bridge.  Some vital chip in the creative machinery has got to be short circuiting to allow these heinous misjudgments to make it to air...  it's one thing to want to tweak a character or nudge him in a new direction.  But something like this?  Frankly, it frustrates me to no end that it takes carting it out there and seeing the reaction before the creative team realizes what's going on.  It's the sort of thing that they ALL should have seen coming, but nope, I'm betting they're all claiming surprise now that the angle died with the live crowd and has been pummeled to death by internet fans.
    I hope I've fully verbalized how I feel about this angle and how it sucked to high heaven.  In that respect, I think I'm falling in line with 95% of the rest of the 'net crusaders.  Where I'll diverge, however, is at the point where tons of people are taking this as the "final straw."  They're either swearing off wrestling forever themselves, or they're declaring that WWE is going to put itself out of business within 6 months because of this crap.
    That's just nonsense.  First of all, the "I quit watching wrestling" thing is an empty boast in almost all cases.  I've seen enough of those promises in my mailbox over the years, only to see the same name pop up against months later bitching about the latest wrestling happenings.  Some people may quit for a few weeks, or maybe they'll just limit themselves to SmackDown!, or maybe they'll boycott this particular PPV in protest...  but 99% of them will be back on at least a trial basis.  Trust me, wrestling hasn't lost half its audience in the last 3 years due to the ultra-dramatic "I Quit" walk-outs on the part of diehard internet fans.  They've lost the audience by having casual fans sort of forget wrestling's something they like, which has nothing to do with this...
    And as far as irreparable damage to WWE...  they company may have been on the ropes in the "dire financial straits" period of 1997-98, but they've had five years of getting fat off gonzo box office and ludicrous merchandise sales.  Oh, and there was that little matter of the IPO that raised tons of dough, and the valuation of the McMahons personal wealth at something on the order of half a billion dollars.  They lost $3 million this quarter? I think they'll be able to cover it, and try to fix things.
    And it's in the "trying to fix things" that I reveal my hopeful nature.  Because yes, this angle was stupid beyond all belief, and yes, the damage done to Kane left me shaking my head in wonder.  But I mentioned the example of Kurt Angle's misguided antics last year... and look where he's at now:  fully rehabilitated and one of the most entertaining guys on the roster.  Granted, it took September 11 for the Fed to tone down the "I'm more macho than Austin" vibe and just go with Angle's patriotic appeal... and eventually, that made it possible to just "reset" the entire Angle gimmick with a heel turn that put him back where he started.
    It may be impossible to put Kane right back where he started, but I'm gonna hope against hope that rehabbing the character is not only possible, but something that the creative team has the inclination and CAPABILITY to do. Soon.  But Kane's future is something that'll fit better as part of the PPV preview on Friday...
  • The rest of RAW was a big fat "eh."  There was nothing else as outright terrible as the Kane/HHH segment (as well as both the previous and subsequent hyping of that as the main storyline by commentators and in video recap packages)... but there was also nothing as redeeming as last week's TLC match, either.
    The things that wound up sticking with me as the most entertaining bits were very little things...  like Triple H's forklift gambit and funny little interview with the Coach.  Or the way they've decided to make lemonade out of Randy Orton's injury. [And while all you people were mailing in on one side or the other of the OO Music Tangent Controversy, at least ONE of you could have mailed and said, "Nice work on predicting how they could make Orton's character work as a heel." Because that's what I did on Monday!  I rule!]
    Even the things that I remember as being annoying weren't exactly major points:  Lawler's counter-productive commentary during the Trish/Victoria brawl comes to mind (they're trying to kick the shit out of each other, and Lawler's acting like it's an evening gown match).  And if anyone was fooled by Bischoff telling Pat Patterson "this isn't about a Three Minute Warning," then you need to seek professional help.
    No one match stands out.  No promo building to a match on the PPV is stuck in my head.  I know that they added RVD/Flair and Trish/Victoria for the PPV, but don't particularly remember why I should care.  I also vaguely recall that there was a tag title change, and now Booker T and Goldust are facing Jericho and Christian for the belts on Sunday.  But Kane losing the tag belts just didn't seem as important a thing to remember as him being a Bad Driving, Murdering Necophiliac.
    Not the kind of show you want to do heading into a PPV, anyway...
  • Or is it?
    You see, for all my bitching, there's one thing I haven't told you yet: that RAW's rating was up significantly this week.  The show did a 3.9 cable rating, up three-tenths from the week before.  Viewership was pretty steady throughout, so it's not like the audience diminished hugely after the stupid Kane/HHH bit.  Those who showed up, stayed.
    Is it possible that what tanked with the live crowd and what has set the internet into a feeding frenzy actually PLEASED Joe Averageviewer at home?
    Ratings are a reflexive thing, so we won't really know until next week what the response/trend is...  but I hope Monday's number doesn't go giving the Fed any more bright ideas.
  • The fact that Monday's show didn't do a whole lot to bolster the No Mercy PPV card isn't the only bad news the Fed's got about the Sunday show...  apparently, ticket sales are also not going well down in Arkansas.
    One estimate puts ticket sales at about 5000 with just days to go before the PPV, and one OO Reader did an online ticket search, and was still able to come up with blocks of four floor seats in the fourth or fifth row just yesterday.
    I'm sure Little Rock's not sporting a huge 15,000 seat arena or anything... but without a late surge, the Fed might still be looking at some empty seats on TV or some mild papering to fill the joint up.  Can't remember the last time either of those things were necessary for a PPV.
  • Why Katie Vick instead of Katie Fick on Monday?  Beats the piss out of me...  and trust me, I'm being honest when I say even WWE itself had named the character Katie Fick on its website last week.
    The best reason I've heard is the one CRZ put forth, about "Fick" not being the sort of name that would play well over in Germany...  either that or there's just a flat-out lack of communication in WWE.
  • That big meeting Vince McMahon was supposed to have with the RAW roster on Monday?  Didn't happen...  no reason given, but the word is that they now plan to do it next Monday.
  • Pat Patterson injured his shoulder (possibly a serious separation) in the Three Minute Warning he took on RAW.  So scratch that Stooges vs. Rosie and Jamal match you were just DYING to see on PPV....
  • Less clear is the status of Billy Gunn, who some noted appeared to be in pain following a house show match on Monday.  There were no indications out of that show that Gunn was seriously injured, but he was holding his arm and he does have a history of shoulder trouble.  Ominously, Chuck Palumbo worked Tuesday's tapings, but Billy was inactive.
  • Mike Graham is putting together a 30-minute weekly show featuring highlights from Florida Championship Wrestling's heydays of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  He's also announced that he's gotten Randy Savage to sign on doing over-dubbed commentary on the shows.
    The debut is this weekend.  Over the air, the only place you can see the show is on WTTA-38 in Tampa, FL, though there is a hope that the show may be syndicated in the near future.  However, you can also download the show on the web at www.wwn.tv (for a small fee... though the World Wrestling Network site does have some weekly indie shows available for free).
  • Triple H will be on Fox Sports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period" tonight (Wednesday).  Check your local listings for times, because the show is frequently pre-empted in many markets for local programming.
    And Stephanie McMahon will be on the Howard Stern radio show tomorrow (Thursday) morning.  The media blitz is no doubt just part of the last-second No Mercy hype effort.
  • And lastly, don't forget that NWA-TNA has a big show tonight...  at least, the top two matches feature some household names.  In the main event, Ron Killing will defend the NWA Title against Curt Hennig.  Hennig showed up opposite Killings as a mystery partner in a tag match last week, and now rates a title shot.  And Syxx-Pac, one week after walking into the final moments of an X-Division Title match and walking out with the belt, defends it against AJ Styles.
    Also on tap:  Jeff Jarrett teams with "Miss TNA" Bruce against his former roadie BG "Road Dogg" James and NASCAR's Hermie Sadler... and Chris Harris and James Storm defend their tag titles against Rick Michaels and Chris Michaels.
    Probably not TNA's most promising-on-paper card that I can remember...  but it still might be worth checking out.  Barring that, at the very least, make sure you come on back to OO tomorrow for Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus' full report.
  • See you again on Friday, with the usual involved PPV preview (and if there's news worth mentioning, we'll have that too)... 


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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