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RAW, Ratings, WM Additions, and More...
March 19, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


It's been suggested to me that the temporary change to the main page color scheme could also be interpreted as show of support to US troops getting ready to take care of some unfinished business from 12 years ago.  Well, to be honest, I think they've got their hands full right now, and don't give two shits about any "shows of support" (or whether basketball games are cancelled, or what those Hollywood posers do about the Oscars, or anything like that).  I mean, I'm right there, hoping for the best for them, but c'mon, is this really any kind of viable forum for making a Statement? 

So I'll try to do what so few others seem capable of, and leave the politics at the door, and do what it is that you came here to see me do:  talk about the Dayton Flyers!

Just kidding:

  • Monday's RAW was another one of those really-good-in-a-1998-sort-of-way shows...  you know, the kind where you don't remember any of the actual wrestling, but you were solidly entertained for 2 hours.
    Though SmackDown! is putting on two or three matches per week that are technically superior to anything on RAW, RAW makes up for it with live spontaneity and a firm re-grasping of how to tell good wrestling stories.  They are also, it should be noted, probably helped by a liberal sprinkling of The Rock throughout upwards of a half-dozen segments per show.  The Rock, goddamn him, is more entertaining right now than he's been since... I don't know, at least 2000.
    Perhaps the best evidence I have of my point is that Monday's show was one that was sold almost solely on Steve Austin vs. Eric Bischoff.  Destined to be a DUD of a wrestling match, it still was a very entertaining segment on its own, and more importantly, was the basis for the Rock's first showing of having an actual spine in his feud with Austin.  Rock laying out Austin to end the show sets the vibe that, although Rocky is acting like a serious pussy lately, he can still take care of business.  This is probably a necessary element of which fans should be reminded before we see Austin and Rock together in the same ring for 15-20 minutes at WM19.
    Rock also took care of business in a confrontation with the Hurricane.  And again, it was handled smartly. Instead of doing a Rock/Hurricane rematch and having Rock get his win back, essentially signaling to fans that Hurricane is back to Square One, they had Rock just come out in the middle of a match and administer a brutal beatdown on Hurricane.  Fans get the message that Rock is still a bad-ass, but they DON'T get reminded of the fact that, really, Hurricane would probably lose to the Rock 99 out of 100 times.  Good stuff.
    I remain unsold on the new Goldust.  Or at least, not as sold as most, and definitely not anywhere near as sold as Howard Stern.  But for the most part, Goldust's work with HHH on Monday was another pleasant little surprise.  He was easily slipped into the Booker/HHH story, and actually, seemed to belong there even more than the Hurricane belonged in the ring with the Rock.  The promo between the two was pretty funny, and the match was of the solid-if-unspectacular archetype...  but really, how many times can Goldust have loss-causing fits of Undisclosed Affliction before it just gets dumb.  My guess is "one," but like I said, I'm not sold on what they've told us so far about the new Goldust.
    The Dudleys' semi-heel turn was another cool touch.  I mean, at least it wasn't the blatantly obvious "Bubba wins their re-instatement" angle...  this way, if William Regal is still unable to work at WM19, you've got yourself a nice little time-killing feud with the Duds vs. RVD/Kane to plug in to the card.  When the time is right, the Duds revolt against Morley, and do the feud with the tag champs.  Easy as pie.
    Loser of the night: the Michaels/Jericho feud, which had been running pretty steadily for the past several weeks.  The only real developments there consisted of a Touching Video Montage of HBK's WM legacy and Jericho then deriding said legacy.  Eh.  For his part, Michaels was involved in the second most pointless segment of the night (a face-to-face with Austin about what might happen when both were involved in a Lumberjack Match later in the night... a match that never actually happened), and Jericho was used more as a tool to continue slowly advancing the Test/Stacy break-up storyline (in a tag match win with Christian over Test and Scott Steiner). 
    Most pointless segment, by the way:  Maven vs. Rico.  Did I miss some set-up on Heat, or something?  And third runner-up: trying to establish Jeff Hardy as a romantic lead.  Listen, I, myself, am about as spectacularly unsmooth as it gets, but even I know that wearing a neckerchief and getting green shit all over a girl's face is NOT the key to her heart.  I think it's safe to say we're about as interested in seeing more of this storyline as Trish appeared to be... 
    You can get the complete details from RAW right here in Big Danny T's recap.
  • Despite being yet another very strong effort, RAW saw it's rating drop again.  Monday's show drew a 3.8, which is essentially back to pre-Austin-comeback levels, and is down two-tenths from the week before.
    A Presidential address in the 8pm hour and subsequent news coverage may have dampened interest in something as inconsequential as a wrestling show at 9pm... but other than that, I'm hardpressed to think of what -- other than outright disinterest in storylines -- might have resulted in the decline in viewership.
  • The WrestleMania 19 news conference in NYC yesterday was basically the rah-rah sort of affair you'd expect.  Some of the guests of honor went in and out of character, while others, especially Vince McMahon and his anti-Hulk Hogan stance, seemed to be handling kayfabe with care.
    Eric Bischoff introduced the RAW stars, including Steve Austin, Triple H, and Booker T.  Stephanie McMahon was there to introduce the SD! stars, including Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan, and her dad.  Some of the highlights included fans openly chanting for Austin/Hogan and Austin/Lesnar matches; the latter actually brought a humorous exchange between Austin and Lesnar in which Austin told Lesnar he should just sit down if he wanted to make it to WM19 healthy enough to try to become the youngest 2 time Champ in WWE history.
    There was also a Q&A session, where little of note was covered.  Angle was asked about his neck, and basically said that hey, he won the Olympics with a bad neck, and he's actually been told by doctors he could keep wrestling for a while in his present condition, and that he's not going to WM to lose his belt.  He'll keep it and keep defending it until somebody beats him for it.  You can decide for yourself how much of that is worked.
    Also from the Q&A: Eric Bischoff downplayed rumors that he had a serious backstage confrontation with Ric Flair at Monday's RAW tapings, a situation that, it seems, was blown way out of proportion...  Vince confirmed that negotiations were on-going with Goldberg, but had not additional info...  Hogan joked about bringing in ALF as his manager if Vince brought out Pat Patterson at WM...  
    The other major development at the press conference is that WWE announced two major celebrity guests for the WM19 PPV:  the Miller Lite catfight girls!  OK, so "major" and "celebrity" are open to debate, but they most certainly number "two" and will be "guests" at WM19!  That commercial was good harmless fun, which is all I'd hope for out of their contribution to the PPV.
    Why can't we just open up the checkbook and get Pete Rose back to WM this year so he can help the Dudleys put Kane through a table, finally blowing off their years-long feud?
  • Hulk Hogan was on Regis and What's Her Name this morning, cracking wise about his many years in the wrestling business and basically hyping his match against Vince McMahon at WM19.
    The appearance (which I admittedly did not see) sounds like it was diametrically opposed to Chris Jericho's appearance last night on Craig Kilborne's show (which I did flip away from the Daily Show long enough to see).  Jericho and Kilborne basically mentioned WM19 in passing to close out the interview, and spent the rest of the time joking about other matters, including Jericho mocking a 10 year old kid who wouldn't leave him alone at a water park, and Jericho's band, Fozzy.
    More mainstream media appearances -- including those outlined on Monday on the Howard Stern show -- are slated for the next 10 days leading up to WM...
  • Another "addition" to the WM19 card:  John Cena will do a Freestyle Rap Contest against any comer at the PPV.
    You realize, of course, that this will probably result Cena becoming my favorite wrestler if the Fed tries to do anything fancy in terms of signing a special guest.  *cough*  Eminem *cough*
    Fantasy Booking corner:  Fred Durst deludes himself into thinking, for a brief second, that he possesses the wit and spontaneity to out-rap Cena (we will ignore, for the moment, that Cena comes armed with prepared material), and winds up getting blasted in the head with about three dozen stiff chairshots for his troubles, removing any possibility that Limp Bizkit could actually perform on the PPV.   The Fed must then scramble for a Seattle-area band to replace Bizkit on 30 minutes' notice...  unable to re-animate the corpse of Kurt Cobain in that amount of time, they settle for the next best thing:  Mudhoney, who sadly don't really seem to have anything better to do at this point.  "Take it Like a Man" is officially dubbed the new WM19 theme song, and for shits and giggles, they perform "In 'n' Out of Grace" as their second number.  The house, at this point, would be officially rocked.
    But I digress...
  • I mention this only in the name of scholarly research.  The Torrie Wilson Playboy pics are out there, as of yesterday.  If you know where to look.  Lord knows I don't DIRECTLY infringe on copyrights here at OO!
    Good luck in your search, because heaven forbid you'd actually have to wait until next week when the magazine is available on newsstands!  You want spoilers?  How about this:  it turns out that Torrie is pretty fricking hot.  
  • Lastly for today is a quick mention of tonight's NWA:TNA PPV...  the headline match will be Raven vs. AJ Styles in a Ladder Match to determine the #1 Contender to Jeff Jarrett's NWA Title.  That alone, to me, sounds like it should be worth the $10 price tag.
    The other big match tonight is D'Lo Brown's first with the company, as he teams with Jarrett and Dusty Rhodes against the Next Generation trio of Brian Lawler, David Flair, and Erik Watts.
    Also tonight: XXX defends their tag titles against Slash and Brian Lee, and we'll get Konnan and a Mystery Partner facing Jerry Lynn and a Mystery Partner...  you should be forewarned that there were heavy rumors earlier in the week about Scott Hall returning to TNA, and he might fit in here (Wolf-pac past with Konnan, and like Lynn, has roots in Minnesota, so it could go either way).
    Check out the show, or come on back here to OO tomorrow for Damian Gonzalez's full recap.
  • Go Dayton Flyers!     


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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