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RAW, Ratings, Financial Front,
TNA, and Lots More....
June 11, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Word of warning: I'm starting to suspect that, after today, you won't be seeing hide nor hair of me again till Monday... tomorrow (Thursday) night, my band Flight Risk is playing a show (opening act for former Royal Trux Neil Michael Hagerty's band!), which is sure to leave me spent and hungover come Friday, when I'll need to focus my energies on getting up to Milwaukee for a wedding.  If it was one or the other, I'm sure I could squeeze out a column; but both of those factors combined?  Well, let's just say that I KNOW I won't be doing any writing on Friday, and it'll be a question of whether or not I have enough free time over the next two days to have a pre-packaged PPV Preview edition of OO ready to run in my absence...

The plan right now is to get all the other Friday material (SD! and TNA recaps, Erin's column, and Battle of the Brands, at the very least) published at some point in the early afternoon before I skip town, even if I don't have anything done.  So there'll be SOMEthing here for you.  Then, I'm hoping that my travel plans back to Dayton will allow for me to catch "Bad Blood" at the 8pm showing on Sunday night, which means I WILL be able to get the recap for that posted, as scheduled, around 11:30 or midnight.  That's the Plan, anyway. 

Of course, none of this has any bearing on why I haven't gotten started with the actual wrasslin' for today:

  • Monday's RAW was a nice strong finish for the brand as they head into the Bad Blood PPV.  Up until Monday, the best work had been done on supporting matches like Goldberg/Jericho and Michaels/Flair, even though the main event was ostensibly Triple H vs. Kevin Nash.
    Well, now, after Monday's show, I think we can all agree that the main event is the most interesting match on the show.  Granted, it's got almost nothing to do with HHH vs. Nash, but still...
    I know it was fashionable yesterday to make fun of how much RAW focused on a three-year-old feud between HHH and the returning Mick Foley, while Kevin Nash's name went completely unmentioned for about the first 105 minutes of the show.  If nothing else, it was a remarkably UN-Poochie-like phenomenon out of Nash...
    But the way I figure it, online critics can't have it both ways:  you were bitching and moaning about how un-over Nash was and how there was no reason to do a rematch between him and HHH?  Well, the Fed listened, and now they've done something to remedy the problem.  You wanted to complain about the previous state of affairs... fine.  But don't go fabricating reasons to be upset about the solution.  Just keep you claims of desperate hotshot booking and taking the focus off the actual title feud to yourself.  The PPV main event just got a lot more interesting, which is exactly what you'd been begging for.
    And at the end of the day, it's not going to be Mick Foley who decides if the main event lives up to that new interest level.  I mean, after Monday, I'm confident he'll be physically involved in the match, but you'd be crazy to presume that he's mapping out another patented HitC insane bump for a match he's not even really wrestling in.  Foley's participation is merely part of a highly effective job of table setting done by WWE:  like I quipped in my RAW Recap yesterday, it'll still be up to HHH and Nash to deliver the metaphorical sumptuous feast of **** action.  For as critical as fans have been of Nash, you've gotta at least grant that he's in position to reap the benefits not only of Foley's participation, but also of having a "partner" in HHH who will bust a little extra ass to help out his friend and of the Cell gimmick that has almost always delivered in the past.  If Nash can't deliver with all these extracurriculars, fine, I'll throw in with the rest of you people who think there's no hope of the 1995 ass-kicking Nash ever returning.  But I think he'll be just fine on Sunday.
    Elsewhere on RAW, it was mostly placeholding for the other key storylines.  The important work on Jericho/Goldberg and Flair/Michaels had already happened, and it was top shelf.  Neither pairing really shined on Monday, but both had a couple of run-ins that reminded us of the past showdowns and more than kept momentum rolling towards the PPV.  It allowed HHH/Nash/Foley to get two much-needed 15 minute segments to itself, as well.  Together, these three matches are well positioned to carry the PPV.
    The rest of RAW was dedicated to the underneath storylines... the potentially highest profile of those is the Austin/Bischoff Redneck Triathlon, which unfortunately seems already headed towards an unfunny destination.  But as an excuse to get Austin out there for a solid chunk of PPV time, I hope it works, even if it is just pointless fluffery.  Also in the real of fluffery:  the Spin-a-Roonie contest with Christian and Booker T didn't really do a whole lot to advance interest in their IC Title feud; but it was the first time Christian got the last laugh on Booker, which was probalby necessary heading into the PPV.  You've also got the tag title situation, where RVD/Kane will defend against La Resistance, but where the real focus will be on Kane and where his head is at; they did a nice enough job getting that point across on Monday, as Kane's self-loathing apathy resulted in RVD taking a 2-on-1 beatdown.  Together, these three issues were the RAW brands second line on Monday, and should be again at the PPV.
    Slightly lower on the depth-chart:  Test vs. Scott Steiner is only interesting because of the Stacy factor, and there wasn't much done to rectify that on Monday...  I'm more interested in hearing Teddy Long/Chris Nowinski dual promos than I am in seeing Nowinski/Mack vs. the Dudleys, but I guess that won't be too bad, either... and Ivory getting another pinfall over seems like it SHOULD lead to a women's title match versus Jazz, though nothing was officially announced.  Maybe they'll use that for Heat?
    Very entertaining RAW, all around, and one that also wins points on a purely business/promotional level, too.  You can be entertaining without selling a single PPV... but I think Monday's show was one that probably earned the Fed a few more buys, which is always a plus.
  • Viewers didn't necessarily turn out in droves for Monday's show, unfortunately.  The show dipped back down to a 3.5 cable rating, a drop of four-tenths from the week before.  Looks like those extra peeps showed up to see the Rock, and then they went away again.  Their loss...  and also the Fed's since no matter how good a job they did making a final push for the PPV, they did it for a few hundred thousand fewer eyeballs.
    Possible excuse to be used by WWE: Game 7 of the NHL Finals was on ABC.  But the game only drew about a 5 ratings, which though huge by hockey standards is still only about a third of what a decent Monday Night Football game would draw.  So that's really not much of an excuse at all.
  • With the recent end of a WWE Inc. financial year and upcoming financial disclosures/conference calls/etc. that go along with that, the company also made a big move today, repurchasing all shares of stock that had been sold to Viacom when the two companies started partnering together back in 2000.
    The total value of the shares is twenty-something million dollars, which, as the Fed noted in a press release, will not significantly impact their cash reserves (of over $270 million).  And of course, it goes without saying that for most fans (i.e. the 98% of us who aren't likely to ever dabble in WWE stock), this move will have no significant effect on the product or our enjoyment of it.
    All Viacom TV contracts have already been renewed (or was that just for SD!?  I'm forgetting right now and don't feel like going back to check), and will NOT be affected by this move.  Unlike when NBC sold back its WWE stock to completely dissolve the partnership that brought you the XFL, this move seems to be purely financial and will not have any bearing on continued business relationships between the companies.
    As alluded to above, WWE Inc's recently closed financial year will be discussed in a conference call with investors on Friday.  I'm sure this stock move will also be discussed, and it's quite common that Linda McMahon will also address more pertinent-to-the-actual-end-product issues, too.  We'll have highlights of the conference call in Monday's OO.
  • WWE.com, two days after conducting one of the lamest, most pointless polls of all times during RAW, has a slightly more interesting one up.  I mean, it's still kind of pointless (unless they really want to start letting the internet decide who they'll hire), but if nothing else, it's interesting to see which five names they picked to be on the list...
    The question is "Who would you most like to see sign a WWE contract?"... and the choices are Sting, Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and Sid.  Proving, once again, that about 60 percent of internet fans have half-a-brain, Sting and Hart are presently deadlocked at just about 31 percent of the votes apiece.  Well off the pace are Luger and Savage with about 16 percent each.  Almost no one voted for Sid.
    Personally, I dropped in to collect the results and also voted for Sting.  I'd also love to see Bret in a WWE ring again to get some sort of proper send-off, but at least Sting could put in another year or so of actual wrestling, where as Bret considers himself firmly retired from in-ring action.  Savage would be interesting as a one-time or short-term sort of acquisition (and again, he's a guy who I'd like to see get one last send-off).  Luger and Sid can enjoy their WWA runs for all I care.
  • Tonight'll be an interesting night to be a wrestling fan watching the late night talk shows....
    Jesse Ventura is slated to be a guest on Leno, where he'll probably be talking mostly about his cable talk show... and then when that's done, you can flip over to Jimmy Kimmel, where Triple H will be a guest, no doubt looking to pimp "Bad Blood," and just as likely to be goaded into a pillow fight with cousin Sal.
    Honestly, why can't they get the wrestlers to go on the GOOD late night shows?  I'd get a lot more fired up for appearances on Letterman or Conan, that's for sure....  
  • I mentioned this a little while back, and I'm gonna mention it one more time because I think it sounds really intriguing.
    Kevin Kelly is running a one-day camp focusing on a lot of the production elements key to a good wrestling show, and it's taking place this Sunday in Manchester, NH.  He'll be covering commentary, promo work, backstage angles/pre-tapes, and all kinds of things that would be of huge help to aspiring indie guys looking to find out how things are done at a higher level and to anyone flat out interested in the business.
    You can get more info and sign up for the camp by calling (603)-624-5230, or by e-mailing kkcamp4u@aol.com.
  • If you've got digital cable and the A&E "Biography on Demand" channel, you can check out the Hulk Hogan bio for the next few weeks.  They've actually got a pretty cool set of bios up for this month, including Bruce Lee, Evil Kneival, and Stephen King.
    Between that and the DVR box Time Warner just gave me, it's about fricking time that digital cable started being worth the hassle and the price tag for me!  At least until someone figures out how to do free-per-view for digital boxes, and then it's "Screw You, Time Warner!"... they've earned it over the past year or two, the idiots.
  • I should never have mentioned the porn babes/WWE diva search connection on Monday... because apparently now I've made it open season for people mailing in with porn babe sighting on WWE.com.  If I'm to believe my e-mail, we're up well over a half-dozen different adult entertainers who are entered in the diva search, now.  Like I said Monday, I don't think anything's ever gonna come of it, but good for them, I guess.  And good for WWE.
    But for me, if I want to see pretty pictures of -- oh, let's just say -- Aria Giovanni, I ain't gonna rely on WWE.com to be my hook-up.  Let's just leave it at that.  But thanks for the 411, anyway, guys...
  • OO Reader "JP" mailed in with an interesting observation:  it was in 1997 at the PPV titled "Badd Blood" (sic) that Kane made his debut.  This year at "Bad Blood," Kane could very well be re-born as the silent monster he was back in '97.  Also: Badd Blood '97 featured the debut of Hell in the Cell, and this Sunday's Bad Blood will feature the gimmick match once again.
    Things that make you go Hmmmm....
  • Lastly for today, a quick look at all things TNA...
    Their PPV tonight will be headlined by Jeff Jarrett defending the NWA Title against both Raven and AJ Styles in a three-way match.  On the strength of JJ/Raven's feud (and their recent flopping of alliances) and with the added feature of Styles, this should be very good and very intense.
    D'Lo Brown is kind of the odd man out in the title picture, now, but he's got a one-on-one match with former ECW star Julio Dinero... also the finals of the Asylum Alliance tag tourney will pit America's Most Wanted against David Young and Tracy... Konnan and Ron Killings will continue their partnership against the Harris Twins.... and Sandman is slated for another Hard 10 match, against an unnamed former WCW Hardcore Champ.  I'm sure they'll sneak some sort of X Division action on there, too.  Or I would hope, anyway.  Still, from this line-up, it looks like tonight's will be a show sold almost entirely by the main event, which should be off the charts.
    Give TNA a look tonight, or come on back for Damian's recap on Friday.
  • That's it, I'm finished.  Maybe you'll hear from me again this week, or maybe not.... well, you'll definitely get an OOld School column from me tomorrow, but that doesn't really count, now does it?  Whether or not I do a Bad Blodd PPV Preview, that's the real question....
    I'll either see you on Friday for that, or at the latest, Sunday night within an hour or so of the completion of the PPV for a full Bad Blood Recap.  Later on....


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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