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RAW, Changes at TNN, Cena, Sitcom Stuff,
A Little TNA, More...
April 16, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


First things first: if you're looking for spoilers, then I direct you here.  Mark Coale was live in Norfolk, and filed what I will assume is a very accurate and presentable report.  I don't know because, other than what I had to see in the cut-and-paste process, I'm keeping my own self unspoiled for tomorrow night's show.
I think Big Danny T was gonna file a report, too, but as yet, I haven't gotten it... in either case, it's nice to have onsite recapper(s) that you trust, so you don't have to compare notes and try to fill in blanks between a couple different spoiler reports.  Thanks to Mark (and perhaps by the time you read this, Danny) for minimizing my work and letting me keep tomorrow's SD! chock full of surprises.

My own material today:

  • I liked Monday's RAW a lot.  I had this lingering fear that all the Nash/HHH/Michaels stuff would be wrapped up nicely with a bow by the end of the show, but that's not how it happened at all...
    Instead, we're left with kind of a cool ambiguity:  Nash could still be swayed by either of his friends...  Michaels can't exactly be happy with Booker T today...  and Booker himself has probably got an issue or two with Nash; but he's also got a title shot at Triple H next week.  Granted, the likeliest scenario is that all three continue getting along, and their six-man tag match at the PPV goes down as scheduled, with no major swerves or heel/face re-alignments...  but for now, it's a reasonably complex, grown-up story that effectively weaves real life backstage stuff in with flat-out "good TV."
    That's probably why I thought the show got off to such a strong start with Nash's in-ring promo:  it included the elements of backstage "shoot"-style commentary... but everything Nash said about being buddies with Michaels and HHH could also be interpreted purely in terms of what we, as fans, have seen on the screen over the years.  No deep understanding of the past 8 years of real life WWF political history was necessary to appreciate the tension there.  It might have made it more interesting if you did, but it was not necessary.  One of those rare cases where working in real-life elements was a good and well-implemented idea, and not just some half-baked scheme to placate smarks.
    The other thing big news was Booker T interrupting Eric Bischoff's infomercial for the WWE's catalog business (much less creatively disguised than the aforementioned smark overtures, it was), resulting in him being in a main event tag match this week, earning a title shot at HHH for next week.
    The fact that said tag match was really well constructed and fun to watch, that it included another bit of rub for the Hurricane, and that it climaxed with more of the interactions between Nash, Michaels, HHH, and Booker (as outlined above) made it a main event that had just about everything.  I may have been smarking out just enough to consider Booker's team getting a victory to be a foregone conclusion, but there was enough that I was unsure off to maintain a sense of drama, too.  Would Booker pin HHH for the fourth time in the last 7 weeks?  [No, Hurricane pinned Flair, which was the altogether preferable way to keep things fresh.]  Would Nash, Michaels, and Jericho show up during the match to cause a massive schmozz?  [No, not really; their antics didn't really pick up until after Hurricane had already scored the win.]
    I won't go so far as to say I expect Booker to win next week... but I will say that the match can only help Booker's cause.  A good showing in a free-TV match that has PPV atmosphere (assuming the creative team books it that way: good hype, leading up to a 15 minute match), even if he ends up losing due to extracurriculars related to the PPV six-man match (you don't think Jericho, Flair, Nash, and HBK will keep their noses out of it, do you?), can only lend him legitimacy in the eyes of average fans who maybe didn't think he stood a chance against HHH on PPV last month.  And I'll naively expect that this is NOT being done to blow off the HHH/Booker feud once and for all, so that they can go full-speed ahead with HHH/Goldberg and bury Booker once May starts.
    Speaking of which...  watching Goldberg in a wig with Goldust and then pointlessly squashing Christian, I got a serious "Scott Steiner after they realized ludicrous over-pushing was a bad idea" vibe.  You know:  the way Steiner went from the immovable force that HHH could find no other way to beat than to get himself DQ'ed all the way to the backstage prop who got 10 second cameos leading up to WM19?  I know in Goldberg's case the monster push is not up; it was just paused while the Rock was not present to do any substantive face-to-face work.
    Actually, Goldberg seemed more personable and magnetic in the one backstage bit with Goldust than I ever remember him being in any promo in WCW; perhaps that a sign that if he leaves the snorting and the neck twitching aside, he'll be able to participate in cogent, compelling promos?  Good delivery, some funny stuff, and he behaved in a way that let Goldust have the right share of the spotlight coming out of the vignette...  pointlessness of the vignette aside.  It's kind of like the thing with Christian: it doesn't, cosmically speaking, make much more sense than feeding Nowinski to Steiner, but for what it was, it worked.  Christian made Goldberg look like one hundred dollars.  I remember WCW, circa 2000, but even I thought Goldberg came out of that looking like a bona fide, in ring ass kicker.
    No mention of Monday's show would be complete without nominating the Steiner/Nowinski "debate" as this month's most worthless five minutes of TV.  First, playing off current events like this is always dodgy business, as I talked about on Monday.  Second, it seemed like Nowinski clearly out-classed Steiner in terms of actually making a well-reasoned point, which cannot be what they were going after. [Steiner's retort was the archetypical reason why I don't have serious political discussions in bars with strangers.  A couple beers, and it seems like the most cogent thought anyone can have is "We done gots to get us some avengence on them fuckers because they attacked us first"... not that I'm saying Steiner was shitfaced on Monday.  I'm just saying his rather-lacking response to Nowinski did not leave me with the option to press some magic button on my remote that would allow him to get the message, "Hey, buddy, I'm actually on your side on this one.  And now I'm going to walk away.  Do not follow me or continue talking.  Thank you" like I can do in bars.  Somebody, get Steiner a newspaper... or maybe Dennis Miller for a manager/mouthpiece, so that he'll be in position to actually trump Nowinski's hippie talk.]  And third: the whole bit seemed like the PERFECT set-up for Sylvain Grenier and Rene Dupree to attack and make an instant impact; I forget where I read it (either the Forums or in e-mail, I think), but somebody suggested Nowinski/Grenier/Dupree vs. Steiner/Bradshaw/Faarooq, and I thought that was as good a direction as any to go.  But instead, it's 3 Minute Warning who attacks Steiner?  What the hell?  Haven't they got their hands full with Maven?
    Other stuff: RVD/Kane's tag title win over Morley/Storm was the night's other notably good match, though this thing with the Dudleys seems like it should be moving forward, instead of just marking time....  Test's vicious circle -- he looked at Torrie's pictures in Playboy, which got him in trouble with Stacy, which meant not getting laid for two weeks, which led to him turning, ironically enough, to that VERY SAME ISSUE OF PLAYBOY for inclusion in his soon-to-be-available-on-WWE-Shopzone-dot-com "Andrew Martin Chronic Masturbator's Handy Travel Kit," which Stacy discovered, which only made her more angry, and resulted in Test losing to Chris Jericho -- may be a pretty stupid storyline, but hey, if it actually gets people to care about Test (pehaps he's a sympathetic babyface to the obsessive Palm Pilots out there, but I see this ending with him as a heel due to jealously of/anger at Stacy for the vast majority of fans), then I'll deal with it...  hmmm, Ivory and Trish, together at last?  Maybe I should dial up that Shopzone new product page...  ah, nevermind, Ivory's probably back off TV after this, and I'll be left to unsuccessfully convince myself that the Sable/Torrie storyline is as hot as Tazz and Cole say it is...  
    Big Danny T has the full RAW Report right here for those who need additional details.
  • The rating for Monday's show was a 3.4.  That is down another tenth of a point from the previous week, which itself was a disappointing performance.  This time around, there is no NCAA Title game on which to blame reduced ratings, either...  people just didn't show up.
  • They've been "The New" TNN for two and a half years, now...  and it looks like the National Network will go to its grave still clutching manically to that "new" label.
    The rebranding of "The Nashville Network" has been a moderate success.  Prime time average ratings for TNN have risen significantly since fall of 2000 when they changed names and started altering programming to reflect general interests rather than the southern-based shows that had been the network's staples.  Of course, almost every bit of those ratings increase can be tied to either WWE wrestling or Star Trek.  The money paid by Viacom/TNN to acquire those properties has paid off in so far as people are tuning in to see the shows...  but they are properties that have done little to create an identity for the network or to draw viewers to other programs on the network.
    It's with that in mind that TNN is changing its name and its focus in exactly two months.  On Monday, June 16, TNN will become "Spike TV" and it will stop trying to be a general interest network and begin focusing only on adult males.  Press releases circulated yesterday made it sound like Spike TV would be for dudes what "Lifetime" is for women, and boldly claimed that Spike TV would be the first network EVER dedicated solely to "super-serving" a male audience.  [Really?  I'd love to know how many broads are watching the ESPNs, on average, but I'll digress...]
    Obviously, WWE's shows fit in perfectly with this philosophy, there's absolutely no reason to suspect that there will be any change in the relationship between WWE and the newly renamed network.  The press release didn't really offer any other details about what sort of programming "Spike TV" would be broadcasting, but you gotta assume that, out of the gate, their schedule will look a LOT like TNN's.  Thinking of it as THE NEW New TNN will probably put you on the right track.
    Anyone else think "Spike TV" is a pretty stupid name?  Good, I'm glad it's not just me...  there are just very few positive connotations for the word "spike."  For wrestling fans, it puts us in the mind of a lower-card performer...  or maybe it makes you think of volleyball... or an ill-tempered mutt...  or some railroad tracks.... or... hey, I had a thought:  maybe they should call it the "Spike Channel," and hope that a little marketplace confusion -- and perhaps a convenient typo or two -- would increase their ratings!
    In a related story, OO's marketing research department has determined -- after a grueling study -- to NOT rebrand OnlineOnslaught.com as "MustHaveCockandBallsWrestling.com."  We here at OO want to "super serve" the male audience, too, but realized the costs of added security measures to keep all these damned girls out of here would have been prohibitive.  So the rebranding has been shelved for a while -- at least until OO can hire that dude from Augusta Country Club as a consultant, anyway.  Hootie will show us how to be "agressively male"!
  • In a follow-up to Monday's column:  I know enough out of last night's TV tapings to tell you that John Cena wrestled as scheduled in his tournament final match against Chris Benoit.  He showed no signs of being at less than 100%, either, making me wonder about those mixed signals we got about him possibly being legitimately seriously hurt at a weekend house show.
    Cena's fine... 

  • So I got my hands on a script for a UPN pilot that is currently projected to be a series on the network's fall line-up, assuming everything goes well... 
    Normally, some sitcom getting ready to film a pilot episode would not be new here, except this pilot seems to suggest a show that would be heavy on wrestling-type themes, and it was even suggested to me that the likely launch of the series would come packaged with a 90-minute SmackDown!.  Some other show did this a few years back, to not very good results...  but this does seem like a better match.
    The story: the Mullet Brothers (who, of course, sport the requisite eponymous haircuts) are dim-witted roofers.  They spend days fantasizing that roofing will lead to bigger things, and nights hanging out at the Kwik-E-Mart and drinking copious amount of Pabst Blue Ribbon at their house with a couple similarly coiffed freinds.  They have a hot mom who divorced their dad, and who still retains some of her "mulletude" even though she has married a very rich, stuck up TV host.  All the elements are in place for wacky hijinx (in this case, WrestleMania tickets for mom's birthday are the holy grail for the brothers, and of course, they get to crash their step-dad's upscale birthday party in the process).
    The notes I have say the Brothers Mullet are not yet cast.  But the hot mom is gonna be Loni Anderson (really?  can she possibly still be that hot?  how long has it been since WKRP?), and the rich step-dad is going to be the guy who was J. Peterman on "Seinfeld."  The guys who created and wrote the script are Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, both of whom contributed mightily to the Simpsons in the mid-to-late-90s.  WKRP, Seinfeld, AND the Simpsons:  that's actually not a bad pedigree at all, now that I think of it... 
    The script had its moments, but of course, this is the sort of show that would only really get funny (if it ever does) once the characters are established with well-known quirks and foibles that can be exploited for laughs... it also seemed to suggest that wrestling fandom would be a recurring theme (with the show ending at a WWE event), and that they had gotten clearance to use WWE trademarked names like "WrestleMania" as part of the script.  Don't know if that speaks to some grand UPN cross-promotional plan or what...
    Anyway, thought you kids might find that interesting...
  • Since Mark handled SD! spoilers, I figure I better make sure those of you who are dying to know what happens on Heat can have those tapings results, too.  If you'd like that show to remain a surprise to you, congratulations, that makes one of you.  HA!  Just kidding:  avert your eyes and skip over the next paragraph to the next bullet point.
    Heat:  Jackie d. Molly Holly...  3 Minute Warning beat Al Snow/Maven...  Rodney Mack beat a jobber (top ring rope broke during the short match)...  Rico beat Spike "TV" Dudley.
  • Finally, some TNA...
    The main selling point of tonight's PPV looks to be a match with the NWA Tag Titles on the line:  Triple X will take on Jerry Lynn/Amazing Red, in what amounts to an X Division tag match.  No complaints there...  like the old jingle goes, double your number of high-flying wrestlers, double your fun.  Or something like that.
    Other matches slated for tonight:  AJ Styles will face Glen Gilberti...  Slash and Brian Lee will take on Sandman and New Jack in what should be an ECW style brawl...  Kid Kash will defend the X Title against Mike Sanders...  James Storm goes into singles action against David Young...
    Also:  Jeff Jarrett and Raven will both be in the house, and will no doubt have business with each other...  Dusty Rhodes, D'Lo Brown, and most of the other usual suspects should be around, too.
  • That wraps it up for today.  The Forums, by the way, are fixed again, and should remain so.  The technical glitch that knocked them out twice has been identified, and so has a quick/easy solution.  So enjoy them!
    I'll 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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