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RAW, Warrior & Goldberg, TNA, 
Ratings, and Lots More
November 4, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


To suck, or not to suck.  That is the question...

And here's my guess at the answer:

  • Tonight's RAW will be the product of a creative team struggling to reconcile two wildly diverging indicators...  on one hand, popular opinion seemed generally more positive towards last week's not-quite-as-painfully-skit-driven RAW.  But on the other, last week's show drew a rating a full third of a point lower than the previous week's show (which had the "sex with a corpse" skit as its focal point).
    So what do you do?  More to the point:  what do you assume about these two indicators?  Did the show two weeks ago drive some viewers away, causing the ratings dip that we saw one week ago?  If so, does that mean you keep pressing on in a less ridiculous fashion in hopes that the word gets out that RAW is improving (resulting in improved ratings weeks down the line)?  Or do you get desperate and simply welcome the bump that Shock Value booking can bring you?
    Of course, that latter option raises the frightening question of "What can WWE do to shock us at this point?"  I mean, in recent weeks, we've had sex with dead bodies.  In the past, the Rock has cut promos asserting all kinds of sex with various farm animals.  I fear the only place left for us to go is sex with dead farm animals, and I shouldn't have to tell you that THAT would be a very difficult premise to explain logically within the context of a wrestling show.
    But I digress.  Look, the truth is, I cannot accept that the people behind RAW want it to suck.  They may have a different vision of what's entertaining than a lot of us, but they are also reasonable people.  If they see ratings data that indicates clearly that necrophilia skits are not putting the proverbial asses in the seats, then things will change.  For that reason, I'd like to think that this little experiment in low brow humor will be called off.  If not this week, then soon.
    And what we're left with on RAW may still be a bit of a mess.  Maybe not a hopeless case, but it's certainly a product in disarray.
    Beyond the top Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels feud, you don't have a lot else that is sellable and interesting.  HHH/HBK will help carry the load for Kane, Jericho, Booker, and RVD, as well, since they're all in this mysterious Elimination Chamber match... but with just a few weeks to go till that PPV, I'm not sure if really top shelf, compelling feuds besides HHH/HBK can be crafted out of that six man PPV main event.
    The tag scene is a debacle; whereas the warring singles agendas of the SD! brand tag champs is a bonus and an intriguing part of their title reign and on-going storylines, the fact that Jericho is in a World Title match while also holding half of the tag titles seems to be incontrovertible evidence that there is simply no long term plan for that division.  Makeshift teams dominate, and ones that have been working together a while and seem to have a long-term future together are at a premium.  With no secondary singles title left on RAW, you'd think you'd want to re-emphasize the tag division, instead of turning it into the colossal mess it's become.
    The other two programs that seem destined for exposure at Survivor Series are Trish Stratus vs. Victoria and Al Snow vs. Chris Nowinski.  Or at least, the former has been officially announced (under hardcore rules, which is an added twist after the two already tangled on PPV last month), and the latter is as close to a fully-developed angle as exists on the RAW roster.  We'll see where they go with those this week...
    Some possibly pleasant surprises might be in the form of fresh directions for certain storylines.  Front and center, I expect that Shawn Michaels will be live in the ring tonight, accepting a spot in the Elimination Chamber.  But to make that story click, I want to go back to a point I raised last week:  every word out of HBK's mouth since July has been geared towards promoting "one last fight."  To make his place in a World Title Match mean ANYthing, he needs to change that focus tonight, and explain to us (a) why he wants to regain the title, and (b) why we should believe he can.  With a clean win over HHH at SummerSlam, Michaels has the ammo to work with...  hopefully he can hit the mark.
    Other possibly interesting fresh developments:  it's been two weeks since Big Show was traded to SmackDown!, and we've still not gotten solid word about what Eric Bischoff got in return.  Batista is coming in (and those vignettes have been pretty effective so far, themselves), but his hype preceeded the trade, so I don't think that's it.  We gotta address this issue eventually, and it could lead to a bolstering of the RAW roster.  And secondly, there is an opportunity to have a lot of fun with a "wooing of Scott Steiner" angle... and if nothing else, including mentions of Steiner in current angles will give WWE a chance to gauge the way fans will respond to him when he shows up in the flesh.
    I know when I do these preview things, I often come off as a cock-eyed optimist, but again, let me reiterate that I cannot believe there's somebody up there at Titan Tower scheming up ways to put on intentionally bad shows.  Which leads one to hope -- perhaps naively, perhaps not -- that things gotta start looking up soon.
    Check out RAW tonight to see if the turn-around continues in earnest.  Or, I guess you can take a chance on whatever the Rick has got behind Door #2:  if you skip RAW, we'll probably have somebody (whose name is not CRZ) recapping the show tonight.  Then OO's more permanent solution should be in place by next Monday night...
  • By the way, on the topic of RAW sucking...
    The one and only Ultimate Warrior weighed in on RAW last week. It was the first time in a long time that I can remember getting word that Warrior had deigned to speak from the chair to his loyal subjects.
    I mention it because -- after years of experimentation with high level hyper-spacial vocabulary and grammar -- Warrior has finally managed to back me -- The Rick, who considers himself to be no intellectual slouch -- into a rhetorical corner.
    I want desperately to dispute his claim that "wrestling pundits are parasitic hypocrites who can be objectively found to have no true opinion" [that's paraphrased, but quite close to the original].  But before I could even begin to formulate my counter, Warrior drops this bomb on us:
    "I donít watch WWE TV programming. But here is the summation of it all: Even those who keep watching think it sucks."
    And that one's an exact quote.  He repeats it a few times, further emphasizing just how profound a revelation it must be.  I know I was stumped for a comeback.  He's right: I DO think RAW sucks.  And I keep watching it.
    Worse, I keep writing about it.  On one hand, I am screaming from the mountain that This Show Sucks.  But my actions betray me: I watch anyway.  I am an inherently contradictory creature without the spine to form a true opinion.
    I wish there were a way out of these moebius strip of an argument.  But it all comes back to the same thing: it sucks, but I watch.  I mean, it couldn't be as simple as remembering weeks upon weeks, months upon months, and even years at a stretch when I was really entertained by Monday Night RAW, could it?  I know that's the dictionary definition of a "wrestling fan," but clearly Warrior has shown us that that is a loathesome, offensive thing to aspire to.
    Better to be a harsh critic, illuminating the very split second when the product begins to suck, and then immediately disqualifying it from ever returning to its past glory.  Then, it is the pundits job to never acknowledge the product again, for it has passed into the realm of suck.  And the only honorable thing for the product to do is to slip quietly back into the shadows, never to attempt to regain greatness -- hell, never even to be heard from again in any meaningful way.
    Yes, this is the way things should be.  Warrior speaks from vast experience in these matters, and lives his life by this creed.  That's the only way I can explain his career since September 14, 1998, anyway. 
    You can read more at www.UltimateWarrior.com.  Warrior's promised regular updates throughout the month of November.
  • Bill Goldberg also has fresh comments on his website.  Of primary interest to us fans is the fact that Goldberg pointed to the same recent turns of events on RAW as "further enhanc[ing] the reason why I'm not a part of their show."
    Goldberg also seemed less than optimistic about Scott Steiner's chances of succeeding in WWE.  For one, Goldberg seemed very dubious about Steiner's true health status.  For another, Goldberg seemed to think that lingering bad blood from Steiner's previous departure from WWE would haunt him.
    You can read more from Bill Goldberg -- including his plans in Japan for himself, Rick Steiner, and Sting -- over at www.BillGoldberg.com
    And the Warrior/Goldberg updates sort of intertwine...  just check out the latest from both if you really care that much.
  • NWA-TNA has undergone yet another management shift.  By all accounts, they regrouped after their initial 13 week run because things hadn't panned out quite as expected; an influx of cash and a two-week hiatus later, and they were back.
    Now, Jerry Jarrett's "J Sports and Entertainment" has sold majority ownership of the company to Panda Energy out of Dallas, TX.
    I have no idea who the players in Panda Energy are, or why they've decided to get into the wrestling business, but it appears not to really matter.  They are simply going to take over the financial/business side of things, while Jarrett retains a minority ownership position and will continue to run the wrestling side of things.  The new joint-venture operating TNA is going to be called "TNA Entertainment, LLC."
    Panda is a privately held company, with power plants spread over the US generating in excess of 20,000 megawatts of electricity.  Again, I register mostly confusion at their interest in getting into the wrestling business.  Then again, with the simply mention of the word "Enron," I can no doubt inspire thoughts of the most convoluted and creative bookkeeping ever devised.  It wouldn't be the first time a money-losing wrestling company was a useful item for a multi-million dollar company to have in its portfolio, anyway.  Just ask Ted Turner.
    Then again, if this deal somehow turns TNA into a contender, threatening WWE, might we at some point in the future be jesting about how Vince had to job TWICE to a Panda?
  • The final rating for SmackDown! last week was a 3.3, down a full four-tenths of a point from the week before.  To some extent, I guess you blame the Halloween holiday... but like I said last week, most people I know (myself included) got their Halloween festivities out of the way the weekend prior.
    No matter what the excuse, though, the drop off can't be spun as a good thing.  At best, it's a one week anomaly that'll be righted this week.
  • Not a whole lot from Jim Ross this weekend.  Biggest news is just confirmation that both Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio will have to have their knees scoped at some point in the next few months.  The procedure usually keeps an athlete sidelined for a couple of weeks, so with some creative scheduling (the Fed will likely be grouping tapings together differently over the holidays) and maybe one or two weeks worth of non-wrestling TV appearances, the breaks for both guys should be practically transparent to us home viewers.
    Other than that, here's JR's story:  Mark Jindrak is out about 2 months after an ankle injury in OVW (after a good outing on Heat, no less)...  Hulk Hogan's induction into the MSG Hall of Fame is scheduled for December 4...  Maven, Kanyon, and Sean O'Haire could all be back on TV soon...  Rhyno and Jazz still have to wait till December...  The Rock wraps up primary filming on "Helldorado" in January, and the Fed hopes to have him back for WrestleMania.
  • Last note for today is an observation that OO Reader Ryan K. passed along after reading my take on Big Show/Lesnar last Friday...
    He suggests that they are building up Brock's inability to hit the F-5 (or his other power moves) on Show so that Lesnar has to whip out something unexpected to get the win.  Those of us who have followed Lesnar's climb up the developmentals know that he used a Shooting Star Press down in OVW.  And surely, THAT would be an incredible climax to a win over the Big Show, wouldn't it?
    Some have suggested that Lesnar's held back on the move because management doesn't want him to shoot his whole wad too soon; a move like this by a man this big should be held back for when a little something extra is needed.  Me, I just felt that a 280 lbs. guy hitting a Shooting Star Press is guaranteed to get a babyface pop, so therefore, it was counter-productive to have a heel Lesnar bust it out.  This match against show is (a) in dire need of something special to distinguish it, and (b) Lesnar's first outing as a consensus fan favorite.  So I think Ryan is on to something, here...
  • I'm done for today.  See you again on Wednesday with Spoilers and other mid-week news....


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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