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RAW (w/ Rating), Another Rhodes, 
and Other Midweek News 
January 29, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I said Monday nobody ever pays attention to these paragraphs above the bullet points... and nobody seemed to disagree enough to let me hear it.  So screw it.  On with the bullets:
  • I heartily enjoyed Monday's RAW.  Given what they're working with (which is not the SD! roster) and accepting that they won't drastically alter major storylines (say, by demoting Scott Steiner to curtain jerking duty), it was about as perfectly constructed a show as I could envision.
    Strengths were emphasized.  Weaknesses were masked.  And all of this was done in an entertaining way.
    MVP of the night has to go to Chris Jericho.  A week after they botched a chance to really go into warp speed with his heelishness, Jericho first teased more of the same out-of-character waffling, and then wound up having a breakthrough night.  His issue with Test was left on the table to be dealt with later.  His issue with Shawn Michaels was advanced and remains the most promising of everything.  But then, Jericho was able to re-ignite a feud with Scott Steiner simply by tossing a few comments his way and then picking over Steiner's remains after HHH and his Sycophants did their dirty work.  All of a sudden, Jericho vs. Steiner looks like a damn fine reason to tune in next week (even if I dread the inevitable massive schmozz in which H's boys interfere to try to screw with Steiner, only to have Test/Michaels run-in to screw with Jericho... probably leading to a HHH/Steiner rematch, which I dread even more, in the end).
    Also a lot of fun: the tag title brawl.  Once again, big ups to the creative team for finding an entertaining and unique way for Chief Morley to screw with the Dudleys (in this case, hiding their tables so that they could not win a tables match).  And the women's "Chicago Street Fight" was pretty good, too; it had enough time to develop, it was really physical, and between Richards interference and Jazz's return, it wound up being another of those times when Trish was so effectively sympathetic a character that I felt the mingled outrage and compassion of a 14-year-old girl watching Jeff Hardy get savaged.  
    Well, maybe it wasn't quite THAT strong a feeling, but turning the phrase that way DOES provide a nice segue to my next topic, which was the continuation of Jeff's heel turn.  Looking at the guy, I can't help but feel that this is just another half-assed thing he's doing, but I also can't help but feel that this is philosophically a really good idea.  A heel turn really could help keep him fresh with the majority of fans.
    My first real look at TE3 winners Matt and John left me... well, not as impressed as I thought I might have been, given how the OO Forums regulars (who are a very insightful group) gushed about them.  Chalk it up to one part nerves, one part only getting 45 seconds, and one part not wanting to try anything too fancy on live TV, though...  all of which are understandable excuses.  What I did love, though, was Chris Nowinski's predictable run-in followed by Tommy Dreamer's less-expected but much-cooler hardcore welcome to WWE.
    Even the HHH/Batista vs. Kane/ RVD main event was pretty good.  Considering the egg Batista and Kane laid at the December PPV, such an outcome was certainly NOT a given.  A nice little match, and then the finish with Steiner interfering, only to get destroyed by HHH, Batista, Flair, Orton, and eventually Jericho (as mentioned above) was a good strong one.  The OO Message Boards wondered if maybe Steiner being left lying in a puddle of his own blood two weeks in a row is maybe some kind of karmic retribution for his performance at the Rumble.  I don't know about that, but as long as it is used as a way to keep Steiner out of 10 minute wrestling matches that expose his weaknesses, I'm all for it!
    The one part of RAW that did drag:  Bischoff's Austin-centric soliloquy.  The crowd once again booed when it became apparent that Austin would not be there, but did soften more (and more quickly) than last week.  I guess the reprising of a year-old "Desire" video was OK, though I felt the shameless plugging of the RAW Magazine felt way too forced and pointless to be worth Bischoff's (and our) time.  My lingering question:  if Austin doesn't actually come back until No Way Out, how in the hell does this help Eric Bischoff, whose 30 days is up the Monday BEFORE No Way Out?  Will someone please help me out here?
    Still, the Austin/Bischoff thing falls under the "they did the best they could assuming they won't completely shake things up" banner.  They're not panicking and bringing Austin back just to assuage the smarks who don't like to be dick-teased... and closing with the "Desire" video was alright.  Except for the part where I had to listen to 3 minutes of Creed's tripe.  But the visuals did their job.
    Overall, a very effective show.  Given what there is to work with on RAW, I doubt very seriously that I could have come up with anything better, and that, my friends, is when I -- as an asshole internet columnist -- need to just shut the hell up and doff the cap. 
  • The rating for Monday's show was a 4.1.  That's up three tenths from the week before, which was, it should be noted, a post-PPV show (which usually scores stronger than usual).  Instead, the post-post-PPV show gains nearly a third of a point...  I'm not sure what kind of opposing programming options may have impacted those ratings, or if it was just plain old interest in Steve Austin or the general direction of the RAW brand.  But I know for certain the number has to make some people up Titan Tower way very happy.
    RAW hasn't scored this well since last August, and if they can actually sustain it (i.e. stay over 4) RAW will be performing at a level not seen since the company was still called the WWF.
  • WWE has issued a press release saying that -- per their prerogative after last week's court ruling -- they WILL be seeking damages from Lewmar Inc., the manufacturers of some of the equipment used in the fatal accident involving Owen Hart.
    Lewmar had been dismissed as a defendant in the Hart family's original case, leaving WWE, alone, to pay out the eventual settlement of $18 million.  Actually, it is believed that WWE itself wound up only being responsible for about $8 million of that, with their liability insurance picking up the additional $10 million.  Or at least, that's how I remember it.
    In any case, the decision by the Hart family and their lawyers to dismiss Lewmar and only focus on retribution from WWE was deemed a fishy bit of business (with possible collusion involved) by the courts, opening the door for WWE to seek compensation of its own from Lewmar.  In a press release, WWE has announced that they'll seek the full $18 million in damages; I'm not sure how that money would be disbursed, but I almost have to assume that if they win the full amount, they would actually end up making some money on this deal.  Assuming insurance covered $10 million of the original penalty, that is (and assuming that the Fed hasn't accrued over $10 million in lawyers fees on this case)...
  • The Fed has been cleaning house a bit in terms of its own roster lately.  Following up on last week's cuts, WWE this week has cut Bull Buchanan from the roster.  As "B-2," Bull actually seemed to have a decent thing going, as John Cena's thuggish enforcer whose only contribution to Cena's free-style rapping was an exclamatory "BOO-YAH!".
    Of course, Buchanan was replaced two weeks ago by Redd Dogg, a long-time developmental wrestler who is also the significant other of Jazz (who just returned to the RAW roster).  With nothing else on the shelf for Bull, the Fed just cut him loose.
    Oh well...  I'd kind of been looking forward to seeing if Bull Buchanan could actually return to the titular role in WrestleMania's Annual Bull Buchanan Classic; you know, the one match on the card that has no real build up and that nobody cares about?  Bull was involved in 2 or 3 such matches before getting demoted to the minors and allowing DDP and Christian to have the honor last year.
  • But even as they cut the roster down, the Fed is actively elevating developmental talents.  On SD!, Redd Dogg has already appeared, and Brian "Spanky" Kendrick will be getting his first prime time exposure this week after a month or so as a masked worker on Velocity.  Kanyon is expected to return, Nathan Jones is expected to debut, and Nova just signed a new deal that should land him among the premiere cruisers (rather than down in OVW) sooner rather than later.  [And when I mention that, I can't help but wonder how serious JR was when he talked last year about possibly brining a surgically re-repaired Ultimo Dragon to WWE in early 2003....]
    Over on RAW, they've got younger guys like Batista and Orton already getting pushed, with Sean O'Haire slated to star work there soon.  And Rhyno is expected to be a part of the RAW brand when he gets back at some point this late winter/early spring.
  • A couple of readers sent along a link to a cool article in an Atlanta newspaper about Dusty Rhodes' youngest son, Cody (a 17-year-old high school junior).  Cody is currently 34-0 in wrestling matches this year, and has dreams of joining his half-brother, Dustin "Goldust" Runnels, on the WWE roster someday.  But only after trying to match the amateur accomplishments of guys like Brock Lesnar and Shelton Benjamin on a college wrestling team.  You can read the entire article right here.
    The same folks who sent me that link also passed along word that the same paper did an article on Lex Luger's son, Brian, who has no interest in wrestling but is a stand out basketball player.
  • Jerry Lawler was on "Off the Record" on TSN yesterday, and covered some -- by now -- fairly standard ground.  
    Such as:  He talked openly about his relationship with Stacy "the Kat" Carter, and who he still really misses her a lot....  He talked about Steve Austin and how he would be coming back, even after all the bad blood last summer, because time heels all wounds and in wrestling, people only work together to make money, not because they are good friends or share the same personal ideologies.....  He said he was not a pervert, despite playing on on TV; instead, he characterized himself as a "fan of beautiful women" who does not see the appeal or point of things like Trish and Victoria's hardcore brawl from RAW or any serious, competitive women's match for that matter...  
    On the more interesting side of things:  Lawler said that he does not go to production meetings and basically doesn't know what's going to happen on the show so that he can fully convey the element of surprise to fans at home... also, the host tried to stir up some controversy from when Paul Heyman had appeared on the show and claimed to be better at Lawler's job than Lawler was; Lawler dodged the issue by basically saying that the confidence and competitiveness of the WWE roster is a good thing and that every talent believes that they are really the best at what they do...  finally, Lawler confirmed that WWE made every possible attempt to get Bret Hart to appear at the RAW-X special; he categorized the attempts as "begging," even.
    That final comment served as a segue for the host to announce that Bret would be appearing on TSN's "Off the Record" for a special two-hour-long chat over the course of February 11 and 12.  That could be really interesting.  I hope my trusty Canuck readers will once again have my back with recaps of those shows!
  • See you again on Friday with week-ending news and opinion...  ciao, hasta la vista, and auf wiedersehen!  


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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