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RAW, Rating, Returnees, and Some Stuff
That Doesn't Start with "R"
March 26, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You're disappointed that I forgot about April Fools' Day?  Well, just check out what the Fed was up to on the evening of April 1, and tell me that doesn't more than make up for it.  

Or maybe you just stay away from those spoilers, watch TV like the rest of the good little marks tomorrow night, and be surprised.  But you can still safely read the spoiler-free news that follows here:

  • Well, it's done:  Goldberg has appeared on WWE TV, and is now priming for a month-long build up to a PPV showdown with The Rock.  It's pretty much what we were expecting, but this is definitely a case of kind of having to see it to believe it.
    Goldberg's appearance pretty much leaves only one major contributor to pro wrestling's 1997-2000 boom who is not affiliated with WWE right now, and that's Sting.  [OK, OK, I'm exaggerating... but it's only for effect!  I haven't forgotten guys like Foley, Hall, and Bret Hart.  I just wanted to try to make a pertinent point about WWE's market dominance without getting all bogged down by "facts" and "reality."  Note: I HAVE forgotten about Lex Luger.  You should, too.]
    In any case, Goldberg's appearance capped off a pretty satisfying night for RAW.  Although the Rock seemed to be battling cheers at times, the crowd seemed 100% behind Goldberg when he showed up to spear Rocky.  I think some of that pop may have been simple shock: half the crowd seemed to already have Goldberg signs (and OO's Man in Seattle Rob Stevens reports that all of them were also asking about Goldberg t-shirts at concession stands, but were turned away as the Fed was unprepared), but they were probably resigned to the idea that current WWE policy is to hold debuting stars back till a PPV, and didn't really think they'd get to see Goldberg in the flesh.  
    I have no idea what kind of ring shape Goldberg is in.  My memory of the waning days of WCW is, of course, spotty, but I do know that I could count the number of memorably good matches Goldberg had there on one hand.  And scouting reports from his Japanese dates more recently have basically rated Goldberg with an "incomplete" because he's only been asked to work shorter matches (sometimes with his ring entrance lasting longer than the actual contest).  But what I'm getting at is that as long as he and the Rock can keep the crowd into the match and build up the proper amount of drama, then they really only need to hit the bare minimum number of moves to make it all work at the PPV.  But for Goldberg's long-term future, here's hoping he's bringing his A-game.
    The segment of RAW that I probably liked best was the stuff with Chris Jericho and Booker T wrestling a solid match against each other, which then segued into Jericho, Triple H, and Ric Flair doing a sound beatdown on Booker and Shawn Michaels.  You got the idea that Jericho and Booker both wanted to prove themselves after losing at WM, and then you re-established the heat between Booker and HHH/Flair when they ran in to attack him, and then when Michaels made the (ineffective) save, you set yourself up for a tag match next week on RAW:  Jericho/HHH vs. Booker/HBK.  [You also set yourself up for Kevin Nash's return, though now it looks like he fits in as a babyface WITH Michaels, instead of against him.  Jericho/HHH/Flair vs. HBK/Nash/Booker at the PPV, anyone?]
    Then there's the segment of RAW that, after Goldberg's debut, is probably most newsworthy. Steve Austin was "fired" by Eric Bischoff, who claimed that he unearthed Austin's true medical condition (we'll eschew all Sleazy E's doctor lingo and sum it up as "not good") and decided Austin was a liability to the company because he could be severely injured at any time.  That Austin's not feeling the best is a shoot; that he doesn't have doctor's clearance to wrestle is a work... but by weaving various true elements into this deal, it kinda gives it a genuine feel.  I doubt it'll ever reach Vince/Austin feud proportions, but I guess what we have here is an excuse to (a) give the "dick boss vs. insubordinate employee" feud a touch of that legit feel, while (b) giving Austin's legitimately battered body some rest.  Austin may not work matches every week, but I can't imagine too long going by before he's back in a regular non-wrestling capacity and doing matches once or twice a month.
    And let us not forget the new tag champs: Rob Van Dam and Kane came out of a three-way match with the belts, first eliminating the Dudley Boys, and then beating the Morley/Storm championship combo.  Actually, the Duds went out because Bubba saved Morley and let D-Von get beat; so you've got that underneath issue, too:  Bubba wanted to save their jobs by helping Morley, but D-Von wanted to "do the right thing."  This is probably the match and the story that was worthy of WM19, but I guess I won't complain too much if they serve it up as a highlight of a good edition of RAW.
    Triple H vs. the Hurricane may have been a foregone conclusion, but as a wrestling match, it was everything that HHH/Maven from a few weeks ago was not.  Namely: fun and interesting if you didn't let your HHH-rules-the-universe conspiricizing get in the way.
    With all that newsworthy stuff going on, it also seemed like they just tossed some stuff at the wall to see what would stick... I'm not sure what other purpose trying to re-establish Scott Steiner with a squash over Chris Nowinski or giving Maven a second win over a member of 3 Minute Warning would serve, anyway.  Kind of pointless filler, but the kind where if a guy makes a connection with the audience, you can build on it, I guess. 
    For the full rundown of what happened last night on RAW, check out Big Danny T's RAW Recap.
  • The rating for Monday's show was a 3.7, with slow-but-steady growth for pretty much the whole two hours.  Now, that is up a bit from the week before, but given that this was the first post-WM RAW, you might have wanted to see more of a bump than a third of a point.
    Maybe once word gets out about Goldberg? 

  • Last thing on Goldberg: WWE.com has posted an interview with him.  I don't know how to feel about it: on one hand, his heart seems to be in the right place (he's coming back to entertain the kids, you know), but on the other, well, there's kind of a vibe that...  maybe you should just read it for yourself.
    While you're there, definitely check out Edge's post-WM column, too.  Given that Edge is cooped up in his Fortress of Pillows, it's not exactly a feel-good piece to counterpoint that other one, but it does feature the opinions of a guy who is unequivocally a fan of the business that is paying his bills.
    [True-but-sad story: the current Daily Poll while I was checking these two columns out was "Which Diva has the nicest eyes?"...  so I did the usual guy thing.  You know, "What, they have EYES?!?".  But it turned out I really was stumped... and for some reason, I decided I really wanted to vote, and wanted to vote RIGHT, dammit.  I sat there for literally 3-4 minute weighing various criteria in my head before I realized "This is stupid," and just clicked for Molly on the grounds that "cute smile" is about as close to "nice eyes" as I was going to get in terms of things I had solid opinions on.  C'mon, WWE, next time I'm visiting, just make it the Nicest Ass poll, so I won't have to waste any time thinking!]
  • One reason why there might have been less post-WM momentum than expected:  fewer people may have seen the PPV than should have.  And it might not be WWE's fault.
    In several major markets where switch-overs to digital cable have been made fairly recently, there were difficulties with being able to order/receive the PPV.  There are almost always a few people in one market or another who get screwed by technical difficulties, but whether because of more widespread technical issues or simply because more people wanted to order WM, thus expanding the universe of potential difficulties, it seemed a big problem on Sunday. 
    Fans in multiple markets were unable to order the PPV live, and were either refunded their money or told to watch the Tuesday replay.  One cable company source said as many as 5% of all cable homes were affected by problems (which would wind up being close to a difference of 50,000 buys for an event like WM), but I don't know if that was based on hard data or just sort of a guess based on anecdotal data.  I'm actually guessing the latter; no way FIVE MILLION HOMES were affected by this.  Maybe he meant something like "Five percent of digital cable homes"?  I don't know...  it's probably still a decent shot in the bank book for WWE, though.
  • The fact that Tito Ortiz -- stand-out UFC competitor -- was at WrestleMania and was mentioned on-air by Tazz apparently got many wondering whether that meant WWE was interested in signing Ortiz.
    And while there might be mild mutual interest there, the speculation got out of hand yesterday when Ortiz and his people pulled a little April Fools of their own, claiming to have finalized a two-year WWE deal, and to hell with UFC.  In actuality, Ortiz's UFC contract is still in effect, he still has some fights for them that he's committed to, and probably couldn't be out from under that until sometime in mid-2004.
  • Remember that thing on Monday where I said not to worry because Roddy Piper's appearance at WM would in no way, shape, or form be the start of a full-time return for Piper... that maybe he'd cut a promo or something, and that'd be it for him?
    Well, I might have been right about the promo-only part, but missed the boat on the one-and-done claim.  Check out SD! tomorrow night to find out more...
  • Kevin Nash hasn't even made a Piper-esque cameo yet, but his return will be a full-time, in-ring one when it happens.  Nash was at RAW and ready to go, but the thinking was that with the Goldberg debut, they should hold back on Nash so as not to overload the show.
    Makes sense to me...
  • Statements made at SD! tapings last night seem to suggest that Kurt Angle has made his final decision, and that he will go with the alternative surgical procedure suggested by Pittsburgh's Dr. Jho.  At least, that's how I'd interpret Stephanie McMahon's claims that Kurt would be back in about two months...
    Also without spoiling anything, Brock Lesnar's condition is apparently pretty good; they announced a concussion as his post-WM injury, but everything points to an in-ring return for Lesnar next week.
  • Last thing for today:  tonight's TNA PPV will be headlined by D'Lo Brown challenging Jeff Jarrett for the NWA Title... on one hand, it's really cool to see D'Lo in a match that means something.  On the other, it's sad that he had to go to a company that doesn't, in the grand scheme, mean a whole lot to do it.
    Ahhh, cheap shot, I know.  TNA's audience size should not dictate its worth as a group, and actually, their recent shows have been very strong.  D'Lo came in to the expected babyface pop, but although he has seemingly resisted the now-Glen-Gilberti-led forces of evil, he's been inching towards heeldom nonetheless.  Against the popular Jarrett tonight, that should serve him well.  Oughta be a good match between two men who once feuded for the IC Title.
    Also tonight:  Kid Kash and Jerry Lynn will wrestle for the X Division Title; you shouldn't need me to tell you how good that could be if everything clicks...  the Harris Twins and Christopher Daniels will take on Sandman, Perry Saturn, and a Mystery Partner...  last week, the Big Surprise was the debut of Mabel, so these "mystery partner" things are maybe on their last legs... oh, and last thing for tonight will be some sort of announcement regarding TNA and NASCAR being in bed together.  I'd make some wisecrack about southern rasslin' and NASCAR country, except that fricking NASCAR is huge even up here in Dayton, OH (which I always proudly thought of as more Monster Truck Rally/Bill Goodman country).
    Check out TNA on PPV tonight or come on back here tomorrow for Damian Gonzalez's PPV recap.
  • I'm out... see you again 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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