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RAW, Ratings, Next for Jesse?,
TNA Preview, and More...
November 13, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, so I apologize about Monday.  My service provider hasn't bothered to tell me anything besides "It was hardware failure," which doesn't tell me a whole hell of a lot.  An OOutage of nearly two full days is not something I should be having to deal with!

But anyway, I'm back and on schedule.  Here's the mid-week news (along with anything older from Monday that might still be pertinent):

  • As I indicated in my RAW Recap, I thought Monday night's show was just plain good.  After spending the whole month of October (practically) sucking, the last two weeks of RAW were best described as "an improvement."  You know, maybe not really, genuinely GOOD, but compared to what we HAD been seeing... well, we'd take it.
    No such qualifiers were needed for this week's show.  Maybe it wouldn't have set the world on fire under any circumstance, but it was a show that would have been entertaining at any point in the last several years.  You didn't need the sheer suckiness of a Katie Vick angle to make you appreciate things like the solid Kane/RVD vs. Jericho/Christian opener, for instance...  you'd have liked that no matter what.
    The best thing was that in addition to being a self-contained entertaining show, RAW also managed something that it hasn't in a few months:  it did a nice, compelling job telling more than one PPV-caliber story.  Obviously, Monday was the night that the Elimination Chamber got its biggest boost; not only did Bischoff finally decide to explain some of the rules, but we ended with Jericho "winning" a wild six-way brawl that just adds to the intrigue of that main event, too.
    Another element from the Chamber match storytelling that I appreciated:  they seemed to be harping on the "Christian will get the spot if somebody gets hurt" angle, to the point that it did not seem like just an excuse to build tension between Christian and Jericho.  When HHH nearly re-hospitalized Michaels with the sledge in that mid-show angle, my mind immediately went back to the "Who gets the spot?" gimmick, and I did not come up with Christian.  I came up with a special, unexpected PPV debut for one Big Bad Booty Daddy.  Of course, it wound up not mattering, since Michaels escaped with his health... but whether intentional or not, I appreciated the added depth that the little baby swerve provided to the the build up to the Elimination Chamber main event.
    But Trish/Victoria and the six-man tables match with the Dudleys/Jeff Hardy vs. Three Minute Warning/Rico also got nicely pushed.  Nothing fancy, but solidly plausible, simple angles were run, and it helps that those are two matches that I'm more than willing to dedicate my time to watching.  [Compare, for example, to the recent RVD vs. Ric Flair PPV feud, which was plucked from thin air, and never given a chance to get over with fans, despite the very real possibility that it COULD have been a superior match to either of the two Survivor Series contests listed.]
    For now, however, it's enough to say RAW was a good show, and that we'll do our Survivor Series talk in Friday's big-ass PPV preview column.
    If you're still jonsing for more RAW talk, I did it yesterday in the OO RAW Recap, so just go read it there.  And next week, I promise I'll be out of your hair on Tuesdays for good:  Lee Filas, the Squared Circle Jerk himself, is on the job!
  • For as good a show as it was, RAW took a hard hit in the ratings.  Monday night's effort drew a 3.2 cable rating, down from 3.5 the week before.  By toying with the 3.0 barrier, RAW is down to levels it hasn't been at in about 5-6 years.  And five to six years ago, there was another wrestling show, also scoring around 3.0, so...
    Still, even at 3.0, RAW is a staple in the weekly top five cable programs, and would be a rock steady anchor for TNN even if it dropped another 25%.  It remains a very popular, profitable program even at this level of viewership.
    That is not to say that I'm predicting or advocating further loss of viewers...  I'm just pointing out that for as bad as things might seem, compared to past peaks, the halving of RAW's audience in the last two years is not a complete debacle.
  • Speaking of 3.2 ratings, that was the overnight broadcast rating for last night's WWE Super Tuesday Special on UPN.  That's down nearly a point-and-a-half from the usual overnights delivered by the Thursday broadcasts of SmackDown!, so I don't expect any particular ratings fireworks for Super Tuesday once final numbers come in.
    Still, the show definitely accomplished what it was meant to:  it outscored UPN's existing Tuesday 9pm show average by a full point.  However, Super Tuesday still lost 25% of the lead-in provided by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"...
    Probably the biggest news out of the show is that SmackDown! has added a three-way-dance tag title match to the Survivor Series PPV:  Edge/Rey vs. Los Guerreros vs. Angle/Benoit.  I like it.
    If you're like me, you completely forgot Super Tuesday was happening, and missed it totally.  Luckily, the Cubs Fan went ahead and filed this Complete Recap for us.
  • Weekend ratings for the Fed weren't a whole lot to write home about, either.  The Saturday night TNN block averaged a 0.6 for two hours, and Heat did a slightly-down 0.8 for MTV.
    WWE is obviously hoping that Scott Steiner can boost that Saturday night number back up a bit:  they've promised that he'll have an interview on Confidential this week, revealing which roster he'll be working on.
  • Brock Lesnar suffered a cracked rib at a SD! brand house show on Saturday night, and as such, his (now non-wrestling) appearances on Sunday and Monday were ultra-short... and Lesnar also did not work a match at Tuesday's SmackDown! tapings (which actually worked out OK, since Lesnar could "sell" the previous week's attack by Big Show).
    The injury will not affect Lesnar working the Survivor Series PPV against Show, however.  The injury is no doubt painful, but not completely debilitating.  A guy in Lesnar's position is probably expected to just work through this without saying, "Boo."
  • Speaking of injuries, there were some conflicting reports out of RAW tapings on Monday in Cincinnati...
    Fans believed that Justin Credible was seriously hurt when his Heat match was seemingly stopped abruptly following a tough looking spinebuster bump.  However, I was told Credible was moving around fine after the show, so I don't know where that stands...
    And although the audience didn't spot anything go heinously wrong during Ivory's match for International Heat, there were reports that, after the taping, the WWE was looking for a plastic surgeon to tend to a facial laceration on Ivory.
    If they turn out to be warranted, we'll have updates on these two in the coming days.
  • The newswire picked up an item today about the possible future for Jesse Ventura... Jesse leaves office in two months, and has hinted recently that he's got a new job lined up that will allow him to be even more dangerous to the establishment than he's been as governor of Minnesota.
    Well, today's rumor is that he's in talks to host a talk show on MSNBC.  Obviously, Jesse's past as a broadcaster (dating back to the WWF 15 years ago, all the way through his radio days prior to his gubernatorial run) make this a good fit for him.  The newswire item also notes that Ventura has been a friend to MSNBC during his reign in Minnesota, appearing often on the network.
    Some had hoped/speculated that Jesse might return to wrestling when he was done in office.  And Jerry Lawler's sometimes obnoxious work and Jesse's own ambiguous comments probably make it natural for people to think that... but to be honest, this sounds like the more plausible scenario for Ventura.
  • When the World Wrestling All-Stars tour Europe later this year, it will be without their champion...  Scott Steiner was (is) the last holder of the WWA Title, but has since signed with WWE, and will not be making the overseas trip.
    However, in Steiner's place, WWA has secured the services of Perry Saturn and the Godfather.  It's unclear if this is just a goodwill gesture from WWE, in the wake of their signing, of if they were legally/contractually obligated to WWA after "stealing" away their champion.
    Either way, it doesn't really matter, since the move only stands to benefit the fans who bought tickets in Europe.
  • Matt Hardy recently published a commentary on his WWEMattitude.com site... and to be honest, it was kind of an UNwelcome bit of shoot-flavored writing.  He was all... nice and stuff.  Wouldn't it be cooler if he kept up the prick-ish verneer of Mattitude in all officially sanctioned outlets?  If he wants to be a Nice Guy, go register TheRealMattHardy.com!
    OK, so maybe I'm being ridiculous... I actually only mention Matt's commentary because it's got a bit about his entrance theme in there.  Apparently, the current theme was slated to be tossed out very soon, but then it came to grow on Matt and others.  Now, his current theme will be kept around for a while.  I don't know what the new theme was going to be, but allow me to comment, anyway, by saying "Good move."  From the get-go, I thought Matt's theme was a good one.  It's a reasonably memorable rocker that somehow fits the Mattitude persona... don't know if it could have been easily improved upon.
  • And I mention Matt's theme so that I can segue into a discussion of RAW's most distressing turn:  the change of Chris Jericho's theme music into generic crap mood metal.
    I think what a lot of rock and metal acts are ignoring today is the fact that it's not just "OK" but downright NECESSARY to include pop-ish hooks in your songs.  I don't care if it's a melodic/vocal hook or a rhythmic hook... you just can't get by on a wall of guitar noise.  Jericho's old theme had that rhythmic groove you could sort of hang your hat on; the new one was just blah.  Played so close to Kane's during the first match on the show, the only thing that really stuck in my head about it is that it sounded a lot like the same chord progression as Kane's theme, just with anything even remotely catchy stripped away.  That's a bad thing for several reasons.
  • And speaking of rock acts that aren't afraid to pop it up with some hooks....
    OK, so it's been a month now since I first raved about "One by One," the new Foo Fighters' record.  But I'm still downright addicted to it.  And listening to it again recently, I had one of those Moments of Clarity that every now and again makes me think that the folks at Titan Tower could do a lot worse than put me on the payroll.
    My idea:  the first single off the record -- "All My Life" -- needs to be the official theme song of the Royal Rumble.
    The quiet-ish verse goes on about a "dream" and the "prize at the end of the road."  It builds up to a final raging mega-chorus where Grohl shouts "Done, Done, and I'm on to the next one" over and over again.  Visually, you use the verse part to establish the Title Shot as the "Prize at the end of the road," and then when you reach the end, you splice in footage of dramatic eliminations from Rumbles past with each "Done" and "Onto the Next One" out of Grohl's mouth, with increasing speed, until the fade-out of the song, over which you can run a quick montage of the Last Men Standing from previous years.
    Ah, it's a gorgeous idea, if only the Rumble match is going to retain its form (and its prize) now in the era of the Brand Extension...
    Alternatively, though, it could work as Kevin Nash's "Desire" video.  If Nash is back for the Rumble, it'd work perfectly.  You just retool it so that the "dream/prize" is his comeback from injury... the "Done, Done" part can still be the same: there's a reason why we talked about "The Diesel Push" in each Rumble, and you could just recycle all of Nash's past toss-outs as a way of establishing how much ass he's kicked in the Rumble in years past as a way of building up his return this year.
    And this might even be feasible.  I forget how long ago it was, but a friend told me he'd read on a Foo Fighters' fan site that the band was recording a new entrance theme for an unidentified WWE star.  So the two parties are apparently willing to work together...
    Let's make this happen!
    And kudos to you if you figured out that this is actually one of my patented Friday Not-Quite-Wrestling Tangents, just misplaced to Wednesday... I mean, this Friday, I've got the big PPV preview to do, so I won't need filler material!
  • Last thing for today is some NWA-TNA preview...  because honestly, the group looks poised for a very good show tonight on PPV.
    The main event (I'm assuming) will be Jerry Lynn defending his newly won X Division Title against Kid Kash.  Lynn is, quite simply, the most under-appreciated 15-year veteran this business has ever seen.  And Kash is every bit the explosive high flyer you remember from the last year or so of ECW.  So even from a Division that is usually the highlight of any TNA broadcast, this is an unusually promising pairing.  It should kick ass.
    The other marquee match is going to be Jeff Jarrett taking on Sean "SyxxPac" Waltman in a semi-final match to determine the new #1 Contender to Ron Killings' NWA Title.  Jarrett and Waltman have feuded on and off for damn near 7 years, now, so they should have their act down to a science.  [In fairness, Waltman is said to be nursing a bad hip, so that might hinder him.]  The winner of this match advances to the finals to face BG "Road Dogg" James, who also has history with both these guys...
    Beyond that, the latest TNA preview appears to differ a bit from what was promised last week...  it does appear that the tag division will be front and center, however, as Jim Mitchell's Disciples of the New Church will challenge Chris Harris and James Storm for the tag titles, while a pair of semi-final matches to determine a new #1 contender will also take place:  Lenny and Bruce vs. the SATs, and the Harris Boyz vs. the Hot Shots.
    And also hyped:  Brian Lawler will take on Jorge Estrada, with both April Hunter and Priscilla at ringside with their men (respectively)...  the Amazing Red will face Jimmy Yang in a match to determine the next X Division #1 Contender... Tony Mamaluke will take on EZ Money (in his TNA debut)...  and though not scheduled to wrestling, "Tha Truth" Ron Killings should be around, and might see his issue with the masked Mr. Wrestling III advanced.
    Check out the show tonight on PPV.  Or come on back to OO tomorrow for Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus' recap.
  • That's it.  I'll 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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