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RAW, Ratings "Spike'd," Booker Booked
or Not?, And Other Stuff...
May 14, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Junior up, Larkin down.  Figures.  I'll cope as long as the Reds keep winning, though...  not that you care.  What you want to talk about is how RAW was down after being up.  And other things of that ilk:
  • I won't necessarily waste a whole lotta space here talking about Monday's RAW.  Why?  Because I wound up doing the RAW Recap that got posted yesterday, and I don't want to repeat myself.  Chances are, if you wanted to find out the OOficial Stance on RAW, you've read that already.  If not, you can do it, now.
    If I may, though, reiterate my main thesis:  that no single segment of RAW struck me as particularly bad, but that the show, taken as a whole, did not drive strongly towards Sunday's PPV.  Segments came off as boring or pointless because, in the back of your head, you couldn't help but wonder, "Why am I watching Rodney Mack or La Resistance, when I should be seeing some sort of build up with Michaels, Jericho, RVD, Kane, and the other guys in the IC Battle Royal?"
    I'm sharp enough to realize this may not be a function of the creative team dropping the ball, entirely...  decisions are made a little higher up in terms of what matches will be included on pay-per-views.  And as far as this Sunday goes, RAW's serving up a whole lotta "eh."  Let's just say that hands have been tied.
    But still, wouldn't it have made more sense to focus on the handful of really interesting things that will be happening Sunday?  The IC Battle Royal SHOULD be able to easily outshine HHH/Nash in terms of intrigue: less obvious outcome, more marketable performers, better likelihood of quality in-ring action, the whole nine yards.  But instead of running a bunch of mini-feuds and angles with the 8-10 guys who will be involved (outside of a woefully inadequate tease between RVD and Kane), they invest time in Rodney Mack and La Resistance.  Since Mack's not on the PPV, and since La Resistance vs. Test/Steiner isn't going to be suddenly made marketable no matter WHAT the creative team comes up with, I say put that time to use on better things.
    That said, what RAW had in pointlessness, it offset with the mildly amusing.  Nothing quite as spectacular as the past couple weeks, but the sort of TV rasslin' I could watch for hours at a stretch.  I thought the bit with Blassie and the returning Dudleys was effective, although you could sort of see it coming (Blassie was NEVER gonna actually take a bump, fer chrissakes).  I thought Trish/Victoria was about as fun a women's match as I've seen this year.  I am even prepared to be crucified for saying that Jericho/Nash was a very solid main event.  
    Nash on Monday may have been visibly a step slower than Jericho, but within his moveset, everything looked pretty credible (contrast with Steiner's first outing against HHH, in which he was slower, limited in moveset, AND had those few moves he did look sloppy, rusty, and outright bad).  I don't doubt that Nash will never reach a high enough level to convince smarks that he's a good "wrestler" (in the Benoit sense), but I hold out hope that Nash will keep knocking off rust with each outing and prove himself the very capable "opponent" that he was back in the Diesel days (when he was an easily-carried piece of luggage even when the destination was All Points North of ***).
    Check out the RAW Recap for more of my thoughts on what was good and what was pointless from RAW... and do not forget that it's on weeks like these when Matt Hocking's RAW Satire can easily outpace the real thing in terms of entertainment value.
  • Even if RAW stepped back a notch or two in terms of nonstop entertainment on Monday, the ratings still reflected the past few previous week's tremendous efforts.  RAW on Monday, did a 4.4 cable rating.  That's a gain of nearly a full point, and puts RAW within a tenth of its best rating of the year (which came courtesy of Steve Austin's return and the Rock's presence).
    Of course, the test will be sustaining that level.  But for one week, and with the prospects of another interested post-PPV audience next week, I'm sure the Fed is more than happy to take it.
  • I'm less sanguine about the ratings gain made by one of the Fed's weekend shows.  The Miss Elizabeth-laden edition of "Confidential" helped to boost that show up to a 1.1 rating, a gain of about half-a-point (or, in other words, almost double it's usual level).  It sucks that it takes something like this to provide a ratings boost, but hey, I guess that's business...
    The Fed realizes there's an audience for this material, though, and from the sounds of commercials on Monday, they are again going to feature Elizabeth and Lex Luger as their headline story on this weekend's Confidential.  I thought the tone of the commercials for both last weekend and this coming weekend's Confidentials was right on the borderline of good taste... I didn't see last weekend's show, but I even heard from some readers who thought Vince McMahon, in his comments, may have strayed over that line.  
    I'm not exactly sure why I'm feeling like this is a different deal than the Fed using Brian Pillman's widow for "ratings" on the night after his death... but I think some of it might be the fact that the Fed is capitalizing on a tragedy involving two completely un-WWE-affiliated people who have had no relationship with the company for 7 and 10 years respectively.  And strangely, I'm getting the vibe that it's that divide that makes it OK to go beyond the touching tribute pieces and eulogies into the sordid details of the tragedy.  If this happened to a WWE-employed couple, it'd be all "Drugs?  What Drugs?" and "Domestic disturbance?  We don't have any comment about that..." to the media that might ask those questions, and non-stop, controversy-free tribute vignettes served up to fans on TV.
    I'm not saying that handling the situation one way or the other is inherently good or bad.  Hell, I know how I treated the story, and to insist that the Fed treat it any differently would be ridiculous.  But I guess my point is that that sensation that wouldn't necessarily treat EVERY story the same way, that this Liz/Luger tragedy is getting bonus "headline newsy" coverage, is what makes me a bit ill at ease.  But I'll cope...
  • Booker T was released from the hospital just yesterday, and obviously was in no condition to appear on Monday's RAW.  He's home in Houston, now.
    A lot of sources are saying Booker's dealing with a bout of pneumonia.  Luckily, I think the SARS quips were relegated to the OO Message Boards...  but assuming the Fed knows Booker's health status in a bit more details than said "a lot of sources," I believe the fact that they went out of their way to do a mini-angle in which Austin booked Booker for the IC Battle Royal is quite telling.
    Obviously, WWE hopes -- might even EXPECT -- that Booker will be ready to work on Sunday.  He would even have to be considered as a favorite to win the IC belt... perhaps if he's still too ill, they can work a situation in which Jericho wins the belt and has his first feud with Booker, once Booker's healthy?
    About the line-up for the Battle Royal:  Booker is the only non-former-champ granted a GM Exemption to compete for the IC Title so far.  When announcing the full line-up, Jerry Lawler did include a mysterious "and maybe more," so who knows what might be up.  Four wildcards:  Test (who is also booked to be in a tag match at the PPV, but was also confirmed in the IC BR), Shawn Michaels (who was on the list of names Lawler read off, but was not on the graphic and has made zero mention of the battle royal at any time in the last two weeks), Chief Morley (fired in storylines, but a likely addition), and Billy Gunn (ready to return after shoulder rehab and has nothing better to do than try to re-establish himself as a singles star here).
  • Another strange booking choice with regards to this weekend's PPV:  Bill Goldberg isn't booked for anything.  Three weeks ago, this guy MADE himself with an intense showing on RAW, converting fans who had booed him just the night before.  So how do you build on that momentum?  Apparently, let the guy sit.
    I was serious on Monday when I suggested that maybe Christian should escape Goldberg one more time on RAW, just so he could do a 3 minute squash at the PPV.  Beats the hell out of Goldberg sitting around playing Parking Attendant for three hours at Judgment Day, trying to find out who almost ran him over.  Which, I suspect, somebody thinks is a viable alternative...
  • RAW's not the only brand having trouble with regards to its Judgment Day PPV line-up.  Perhaps the most sellable of all the matches already announced -- from the smark perspective, anyway -- was Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros in a Ladder Match.
    Well, after an injury to Chavo Guerrero, that match is in jeopardy.  Without trying to spoil too much, I will say that the plan, at present, seems to be to do Eddie vs. both of Team Angle, and keep the Ladder stip. 
    SD! also added a headline singles match (of a dubious nature) and probably set the stage for a six-man tag (which should actually be good) at last night's tapings.  But I won't say more, here.  If you want details, read the Spoilers.
  • Legion of Doom's on-screen appearance on Monday's RAW smacked of "one-time deal."  They were, quite properly, used as a show-opening mild surprise (not a huge lynchpin for the show), and then promptly lost cleanly to the tag champs.  They got the nice, big "Hey, those spikes and music are cool" pop from the crowd, but after the revelation that "Hey, these guys aren't as talented as RVD and Kane" set in, it didn't seem like there was sustained interest from the crowd.  Not what you look for in a long-term acquisition.
    Well, an interview now available on WWE.com seems to indicate that Hawk and Animal have designs on being around for a long time.  They talk of a revised backstage attitude (Hawk got The Jesus at the same time Shawn Michaels did last year, and says he no longer sees the point of being confrontational with the office) and how they feel like they are just as physically capable as they were 20 years ago.  They also talk about their goal of riding out a final WWE run and then retire, whether that be in 2 years or 5 years.
    LOD worked a dark match last night at SD! tapings, and for now, my understanding is that no long-term deal has been finalized.  But this certainly sounds like Hawk and Animal have reason to believe one is in the works.
  • Last thing today: a quick look at tonight's TNA PPV...
    The headline match looks to be AJ Styles and D'Lo Brown taking on Triple X for the Tag Titles.  Style and D'Lo didn't start out with designs of tagging regularly, but as good as they've looked in recent weeks, keeping them together is a no-brainer.  It wouldn't surprise me if (a) this match rocked, and (b) Styles and D'Lo actually took the titles.
    Also tonight:  Mike Awesome takes on Mike Sanders in a battle of former "New Blood" members...  Amazing Red defends the X Title against Chris Sabin...  Kid Kash will face either Konnan or Ron Killings after challenging the duo last week...  David Young will take on Chris Harris... and both NWA Champ Jeff Jarrett and his new #1 Contender Glen Gilberti will be in the house.
    You can check out TNA tonight on PPV, or you can get the full, detailed recap from Damian Gonzalez right here at OO...  I think it'll be available on Fridays from now on.
  • That is all you people need to know.  For today.
    And I was kidding Monday: I WILL have a column Friday... because even if this weekend is when I will actually be OBSERVING my birthday (with the family-oriented My Birthday/one of my other brother's birthday/my third brother's graduation party for his Ohio friends Combo Party at my mom's palatial estate), I already gave myself a present by taking off last Friday (my real birthday, consisting only of a free mid-priced meal and coupla drinks courtesy of various friends and associates).  
    Plus, if anybody is man enough to take the job of trying to convince you that Judgment Day is worth watching, it is I, the consensus Internet Personality Most Likely To Actually Be Covertly on WWE's Payroll for the past 7 years running!  I'll spend tomorrow convincing myself, and then I'll see you all on 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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