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RAW, Ratings, Hennig, Battle of the Bands,
and Lots More!
March 26, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


The last week before WrestleMania is always one of the most fun of the year for a wrestling fan...  this particular time through, there are a couple mitigating circumstances (damn that Golden Hurricane!  and there is some disappointing Hennig news that we'll get to in a minute), but mostly, it's just fun to be along for the ride as the Fed gets WM back on track after last year.

Here's some news and views to tide you over:

  • Monday's RAW was pretty by-the-books; but with as well as the WM19 card has been built up, there was no need for huge swerves or other surprises.  They just kept momentum building steadily on five key storylines.
    The surprise of the night probably has to be that Booker T again pinned Triple H in their tag match, and that HHH actually showed concern and self-doubt afterwards.  A month and a half ago, I said that Booker probably would not win the title from HHH at Mania because the Fed would not want to tell the same story (underdog babyface finally gets sweet vengeance on heel champ) as the Lesnar/Angle title chase.  Then I came around and though, "What the hell?", because WM is when babyfaces finally get their due, usually.  And there's more than enough room for heels to screw over fan favorites in other top matches (Rock over Austin, Jericho over HBK).
    Now, I wonder.  The Fed probably booked Monday's Booker/HHH match the way they did to convince fans that Booker is good enough to win the title.  So of course, I sit here trying to use reverse psychology...  I already think Booker's got what it takes to be champ, and now I wonder if they've given him this meaningless win to insulate him against a loss on Sunday, to give him an excuse to insist on a rematch in another month, when they WON'T be telling the same story in the SD! title match.
    I don't know... this is probably a discussion better left for Friday's WM19 preview.  For now, it's enough to note that HHH's loss and subsequent self-loathing were the most unexpected and surprising parts of RAW for me.
    The stuff between Rock and Austin went down about exactly as I'd have guessed.  Some quality laughs, then Austin manages to crash the Rock Concert to close the show.  Also: I don't know what it says about me, the person, but I was actually more outraged by the smashing of a Willie Nelson-signed guitar than I was last year when Jericho ran over the paw of HHH's puppy.  Except, well, that guitar sounded kind of like shit, so unless somebody just did a really crappy job tuning it, I'm actually thinking it was a "stand-in" Willie Nelson guitar.  
    But hey, they already gave us AMPLE reason to want to see Rock/Austin III, and a busted guitar is not going to significantly sway your enthusiasm either way.  This is about Rock getting a win on Austin at Mania after two previous failed tries, not about a stupid guitar.  But if the stupid guitar can provide a few excuses for laughs along the way, hey, more power to 'em.
    Jericho's promo with Shawn Michaels was perhaps my favorite bit of build up of the night.  After an off-week last week, this feud was again front and center.  It's really easy to sit back and say something like "Jericho's the HBK of our generation" and stuff like that.  But the visual aids of Jericho actually imitating Michaels' moves and style from 10-15 years ago, and Jericho's own admission that he wanted to be Shawn Michaels really drove the point home.
    Although Jericho closed on a very strong rant about no longer wanting to be Shawn Michaels, because as Chris Jericho, he's even better, I have to wonder... how cool would it be if somebody finally heeded my suggestion and got Jericho a new bodyguard.  Michaels' old bodyguard.  A homage, if you will.  Kevin "Diesel" Nash should be just about ready to go, right?
    I guess the tag title switch from Regal/Storm to Morley/Storm was not exactly unexpected... if I'd thought it through, I'd probably have figured out that was the direction the Fed would have to go to keep the tag titles in the mix at Mania.  The ever-suffering Dudleys can now be left to stew for another month, while RVD and Kane get deserved slots on the PPV card, chasing the belts.  Should still be good.
    You can get the full RAW report courtesy of Big Danny T.
  • The rating for Monday's RAW wound up being a 3.4, which means RAW's audience is going decidedly in the wrong direction in the final weeks before WM19.  Less than a month ago, RAW spent back-to-back weeks in the 4's for the first time in ages.  Now, they are back to the mid-3 doldrums.
    Of note:  even though there were no "pre-emptions" as such (as affect SD!), we are still a country at war, and still a country where the 24 hour news channels are doing their highest ratings in forever.  People are distracted by other matters.
    Also: the 3.4 rating includes RAW's poorly rated final half-hour, which it looks like was nothing more than an infomercial for the SD! brand's WM19 matches.  Since I had set my VCR to tape RAW (only allowing a 7 minute overrun), I missed it, but it sounds like if I'd been watching live, I'd have turned it off, too.  Disregard that last half-hour, and RAW's rating gains a couple tenths.  Still down a bit, but respectable.
  • Well, this is never the kind of news you want to hear... but it's probably news you've been subconsciously steeling yourself for for about a month now.
    The autopsy report on Curt Hennig has been released, and it states unequivocally that Hennig died as a result of "acute cocaine intoxication."  A guy who is 44 and in ring-shape doesn't just die of natural causes, so I suspect we've all been dreading this kind of revelation since Hennig died last month.  But that still doesn't make it any easier to deal with the reality that yet another one of our favorite performers made unwise decisions that ultimately led to too soon a death.
    You can read the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune's article on this revelation right here.
  • The Chris Jericho vs. Howard Stern Battle of the Bands took place this morning, and according to a couple of readers, it was probably the most fun Stern's had with the gimmick of taking on "celebrity" bands, yet.
    Fozzy acquitted themselves very well, but The Losers were named the winners via a 2-1 judges' decision.  It was not made clear to me who the "judges" were, but if they were some of Stern's annoying cavalcade of schmucks, then perhaps Jericho can cry "set-up"?
    There was some smack-talk, and also, Jericho got to pimp WrestleMania.  In the end, Fozzy probably wound up being the best of the celebrity bands to accept Stern's challenge, too.  Sounded like it was fun, and I'm sure the bit will be on the E! Stern TV show in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for it.
  • The Rock's upcoming action/buddy/comedy movie has been renamed... it's no longer "Helldorado."  Instead, it'll be called "Welcome to the Jungle."  It's due out this fall.
  • WWE.com has announced that the next official WWE biography will be Steve Austin's.  Austin turned down a chance to be a part of the first wave of WWE books (when Foley and Rock were topping best seller lists), but claims enough has changed and happened to him to make a book written now more worthwhile.  Expect it to be out by the end of the year.
  • Another Austin newsbite of debatable value:  I caught Austin on the Jimmy Kimmel show last night.  He talked a bit about WrestleMania, but the only real interesting ground came later on when he talked about how the personal hygiene of his opponents is something he's concerned about (he relayed a story about an unnamed wrestler who really smelled bad and was no fun to work with... I'm actually presuming he meant Vader), and when he was forced into a Pillow Fight with Kimmel's cousin.  Austin was deemed the winner on points in that one.
    Nothing earth-shattering, but sort of fun.  Tuning in was worth it just for the sheer comedic genius of "Man Show Boy v2.0" at Spring Break...
  • Even though the WM Fan Axxess convention doesn't kick off until tomorrow, OO's Man in Seattle Rob Stevens has already been inside the Axxess venue.  You can check out some of his pictures of the ring and the on-going set-up work right here.
    Also, Rob will be at a bunch of the Axxess sessions, as well as potentially backstage at WM itself, and will be passing along more cool pix and stuff as the weekend progresses.

    Big thanks to Rob for doing all this while still ostensibly "working" this weekend!
  • Although we are full speed ahead for WWE's WrestleMania, there is another promotion still operating, and they are putting on a PPV show tonight.
    NWA-TNA's broadcast tonight should be built around the one-on-one showdown between Jerry Lynn and Konnan.  The two have been feuding for months, now, though the feud has mostly consisted of Konnan running various luchadors at Lynn while keeping his own hands clean.  Tonight, the two will finally face off.
    Also tonight:  Dusty Rhodes vs. a Mystery Opponent in a bunkhouse brawl...  Kid Kash and Trinity vs. Amazing Red and Alexis in a mixed tag match...  and XXX/Harris Twins vs. Brian Lee/Slash/Malice/Mystery Partner.
    Check out the TNA show on PPV, or come on back to OO tomorrow for Damian Gonzalez's full recap.
  • Lastly for today is just a reminder that the new, updated edition of the OO Road to WrestleMania is being published this week.  Today, the Winners and the Losers section is up, joining the year-by-year WM summary that was posted yesterday.  
    You can check it out right here.  And don't forget to come back for trivial observations (good bar bet material if you hang out with other self-described wrestling gurus) and full WM19 preview in coming days!


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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