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PPV Fall-Out, Legal/Financial Update,
and Other Monday News...
June 16, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Sweet Zombie Jesus, you people are impossible...  so I watched this PPV last night, called Bad Blood, and then I wrote a recap for it.  Then I went to bed, and slept the sleep of the just and righteous.  But today, I check the e-mail, and apparently, I'm an unobservant clod because I loved the show even though it was the worst pay-per-view ever.

Um, I don't even know where to start telling you what's wrong with that.  If you can show me how and where I gushed over Bad Blood and made it sound like I unconditionally loved it, I will eat a bug.  Alternatively, if you can convincingly explain to me how Bad Blood fell short of -- oh, let's just pick one at random, here -- WCW Souled Out in terms of quality, I will undergo elective amputation.

Look, you're entitled to your opinion(s), and that's cool.  I'm not sitting here today telling you you're obligated to feel exactly the same way about Bad Blood as I did.  But I AM going to sit here today and tell you that if you're going to lecture me on what's wrong with MY opinions, you'd best at least have a gentle grasp on reality if you want me to give two shits about what you're saying.

So... go back and re-read the recap if you must.  You might want to remind yourself that it is possible to make criticisms that are constructive and non-personal in nature, and that do not require one to adopt a gimmick in which one does the written-word equivalent of shouting "Hey, look at me, I'm a giant asshole who hates everything" at the top of his lungs.  If that's too complex a concept for you to handle, then just remind yourself of this, instead: Rick Scaia is a testicularly-challenged softie who prefers to tell you what was good, instead of harping on what was bad.

And then do me another favor: think back to your viewing of Bad Blood and REALLY try to enjoy the main event.  Maybe even get some fun out of Michaels/Flair or Goldberg/Jericho.  I just don't see how a show with those matches is gonna be deserving of top-to-bottom criticism.  Sure, maybe the Austin/Bischoff stuff dragged on longer than you liked, and maybe Test (TEST, of all people!) was about the lone highlight of the undercard... but there was a bit of genuinely good stuff at Bad Blood, too.

Enough of it to justify a $35 price tag?  Well, come to think of it, I didn't exactly make an explicit judgment on that particular issue in last night's recap, now did I?  I'm such a tease, aren't I?  I am to internet wrestling what "Maxim" is to porn!  You have to use your IMAGINATION, baby!

Enough ranting.  More raving:

  • When RAW hits the air tonight, it'll be on an unexpected network...
    The Same Old New TNN.
    Today's planned re-launch of TNN as "Spike TV" has been delayed by an inconceivably inane decision made by New York's State Supreme Court: Spike Lee's petition to halt the name change due to the fact that "Spike TV" was obviously an attempt to cash in on his name and popularity was granted by Justice Walter Tolub last Thursday.
    An appeal on Friday by TNN/Viacom was denied, and now, the network will remain "The New TNN" pending a full hearing on the matter.  The case will begin tomorrow, and it's entirely possible that a decision could be reached by the end of the week.
    Now, I could try to spin this like I give a damn about what the network with WWE wrestling is called.  But I don't.  To be honest, I kind of thought "Spike TV" was a silly name, anyway.  To twist a quote from Shawn Michaels, circa last fall, around, I am not offended as a wrestling fan.  I am offended as a sane and reasonable man.
    Spike Lee's claim is that he is so intimately tied to the "Spike" name that Viacom's attempt to use it as the new name for their network was an unfair attempt to profit on his name.  In making his decision, Tolub agreed, citing that "In the age of mass communication, a celebrity can in fact establish a vested right in the use of only their first name or a surname. There are many celebrities that are so recognized, including Cher, Madonna, Sting and Liza."
    I find that quote of particular interest, seeing as how he mentions Sting -- obviously meaning the singer and formerly-talented ex-Police member -- who has for over a decade peacefully co-existed with a wrestler of the exact same name.  Why?  Well, apparently because both of them are reasonable men who realize that no one was ever likely to confuse them, and who additionally never retained any outrageously litigious attorneys.  Also:  much like "Spike," "Sting" is also a widely used noun and verb, probably making it that much less likely that somebody could claim sole exclusive use of the word/name.  
    Oh, and while I'm in a state of utter and complete idiocy-induced shock:  Liza?  Liza?!?!  Are you fucking kidding me?!!!??!  I thought he said "in this age of mass communication"... not "in this age of the 1960s."  But I guess there goes Lifetime's plan to create a spin-off network for post-menopausal women called "Liza TV" later this year...
    Spike Lee is being represented by Johnnie Cochran, which means, at the very least, that the plaintiff's side will be fully and eloquently stated for the record.  I, however, cannot envision any scenario in which a judge would actually rule in favor of Spike Lee, unless we have somehow crossed over into a parallel universe in which mankind has somehow devolved to the point where we'd be just as well off if we just detonated one million nuclear bombs simultaneously.  The decision to force TNN to delay the name change merely represents the court's belief that Lee's case has enough merit to be heard; it does not mean the court already thinks he deserves to win.
    In fact, the court has even included a condition in its order that Lee has to post a half-million dollar bond that would cover TNN and its losses/expenses related to the case should Lee lose.  I am not normally a mean-spirited person, but I find myself looking at that half-million dollars as a way for not just Spike Lee, but anyone who thinks about bringing a moronically unnecessary lawsuit to court, to be taught an important lesson.
    In the meantime, TNN will go forward with all the same planned schedule changes and new show launches that were to be a part of the "Spike TV" rebranding.  And also in the meantime, I, personally, think it would be hilarious if WWE hired the actor who was Jackie Chiles on "Seinfeld" to come in and do a storyline with Spike Dudley.  Force him -- on behalf of an unnamed client, of course -- to change his name to "The National Dudley."  At least for a week or two until all this nonsense is finally sorted out in the courts.
  • Beside the dramatic unveiling of The National Dudley, what else to look for on RAW tonight?  Well, to be honest, I'm sort of curious about that myself.  After a relatively inspired month of TV in which the brand had to cobble together a full 8-match PPV card by itself, they've now got 8 weeks before they next contribute to pay-per-view at SummerSlam... and in August, they'll only have to supply about 4 matches, since it's one of the co-branded PPVs.
    Will RAW be able to keep the momentum going that they've build up over the past month?  Or will the lack of a looming blow-off event mean some wheel-spinning, as experienced by SmackDown! over the past four weeks?
    With the next PPV appearance of the RAW stars so far off in the distance, it's ridiculous to look at tonight's RAW as the usual post-PPV show, where the seeds are immediately sown for the next slate of new major feuds.  Hell, with the exception of Triple H vs. Goldberg, we don't even have an inkling of what the Fed wants to have as RAW's top feuds come August's SummerSlam, anyway.  Instead, we're probably looking at a case where we can look forward to the continuation of a few top storylines, with other new ones being phased in over time.
    To me, the top of the list of Storylines Obviously Designed to Be Continued is Booker T vs. Christian for the IC Title...  Christian's intentional DQ loss last night screams for a rematch.  And if you ask me, it screams for him retaining his title yet again whenever it happens.  Remember: Honky Tonk Man successfully kept his IC Title away from that promising young Randy Savage kid over the course of a 6 month feud back in the 80s, and I hear that Savage came out of it alright in the end.  This is the vibe they need to go for here, and it should end up benefiting both Booker and Christian.
    Also, Jim Ross told us point-blank last night that the issue between Chris Jericho and Goldberg was not over.  Well, putting the pieces together, since Goldberg won cleanly, you have to assume that if this feud is to continue, it'll be Jericho who instigates the next round of hostilities.  That's a bit anti-intuitive, since cowardly heels don't generally go looking to get a second butt-whuppin' after the face has won the Big One.  It'd have made more sense for Jericho to steal one last night, and then have an absolutely enraged, motivated Goldberg coming after him.  They could have built to a massive RAW main event in about 3-4 weeks time before shifting Goldberg into his feud with HHH, then.  This way, all they are building to is a second win for Goldberg, which doesn't really help him much at all (and which obviously won't do a whole lot to enhance Jericho's standing, either).
    Of all the dangling issues going into last night's PPV, the one I least expected to STILL be dandling is the one where Ivory is the top contender to the women's title.  I thought for sure that they'd put Ivory vs. Jazz out there, let Jazz get her win, and then be done with it.  Then when they announced Ivory vs. Molly, I figured two things: (1) that this might actually be the better match of the two, and (2) that this was kind of a pointless match so maybe they were just doing it so Gail Kim could make her surprise debut to lay out both women.  (1) is a completely debatable point, but (2) did not come to pass.  So I was left mostly just confused by the booking.  But Ivory won, which is always fine by me, and now she can face Jazz at some point in the next few weeks on RAW.  Not that it'll draw even an extra thousandth of a point in the ratings, but that's neither here nor there....
    I'm sure we can look forward to Rob Van Dam and Kane fully imploding as a tag team unit in the next few weeks.  At this point, it's still wide open enough that you could turn either guy heel or keep them both as babyfaces and do a sort of reserved mutual split type gimmick.  I'd prefer more fireworks, though; either have Kane reborn as a mute monster who has no feelings for his former friend and tag partner, or have RVD continue verbally assaulting the sullen Kane until he's coming off like the jerk of the pair (which of course, pushes Kane to return to monster status, only as a fan favorite in this scenario).  Though the storyline could work either way, I have a feeling only Kane as a heel is a truly viable option.  On the grounds that many fans are Pavlovian idiots who would be unable to help themselves from chanting along with Points To Self.
    RVD and Kane's problems leave the door open -- probably after one token contractual obligation title rematch -- for another babyface team to become top challengers to La Resistance.  Since the Dudleys are in the midst of jobbing to Rodney Mack and Chris Nowinski, I will continue to opine that this is a job that calls for the return of the APA (who have been on rehab assignment in OVW and are as ready as they'll ever be to return to TV).  We'll see, though.
    Bad Blood made two consecutive PPVs at which Steve Austin basically humiliated his co-GM, Eric Bischoff.  To me, as much harmless fun as can be had by putting Austin out there to embarrass Bischoff, this threatens to render the whole co-GM concept worthless. I mean, where's the tension if one guy is ALWAYS getting the upper hand?  Hopefully, Bischoff will be spurred on to take some kind of advantage in the power struggle starting tonight.  There has also been talk of William Regal being brought back in a mediator role (until his health issues can be fully addressed, anyway) between Austin and Bischoff, so that could spice things up, too.  I mean, it can't possibly take too long before Regal's innate heelishness came out and made life rough for Austin, right?
    One of the only slots on the show where the Fed seemingly has no chance to continue and existing storyline is right at the top.  Hell in the Cell is usually the ultimate blow-off, and now, Kevin Nash has struck out in two consecutive World Title matches against HHH.  I don't see that one coming around for a third time.  Given what's happened to other recent guys who've failed in title feuds against HHH (Steiner, Booker leap to mind), Nash might have a lonely road ahead.  Maybe now's the time for him and Michaels to look into full time tag teaming?
    As for HHH, if the plan remains for him to face Goldberg at SummerSlam, he could get that issue started tonight, except that as noted, JR's already told us to expect another chapter in the Jericho/Goldberg feud.  Word is that Mick Foley might be amenable to sticking around, and if nothing else, a war of words with HHH could burn a couple of weeks until it's time for Goldberg to move over.  Foley has also never pretended for even a second to be completely, forever, and irrevocably retired from the ring, so perhaps a verbal war with HHH could set up a very special comeback match down the road?  In a day and age where a guy like Shawn Michaels can work one or two dates a month, I think there could be a spot for Mick Foley as a special attraction wrestler...
    Check out RAW tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for full recap, analysis, and more...
  • The final rating for SmackDown! last week was a 3.7, which is up over a half-point from the week before, and one of the strongest ratings for SD! since the brand split.  Statistical anomaly?  Interest in an arm wrestling contest?  Just people who read about shocking visuals (like the ring breaking... or Sable's tits) in the spoilers and just wanted to see them for themselves?  
    I honestly have no idea... but I'm sure the Fed's happy in any case.
    But while SD! was up in the ratings, and actually watched by more people than RAW, it lost Round 2 of the OO Battle of the Brands to the Monday night show last week.  OO Staff named RAW as the brand of the week, by a 3.8 to 3.6 tally.  You can read the full results right here.
  • WWE announced its fourth quarter- and year-ending financial information last week, and held the usual investors' conference call on Friday.
    The short of it is: business is down.  Way down.  If you want the long of it, well, damn, you are a nosy one, aren't you?  Either that, or you actually bought WWE stock.  Sucker.
    Actually, I'll toss just a few more pieces of data out there, since I think it's sort of interesting to look at some of the quantitative results of the brand split after just about exactly one year (WWE's fiscal year 2003 ended on April 30).
    For the year, WWE posted a net loss of $19.2 million, which is in contrast to a $42.2 million profit in FY2002 (for the 4Q, WWE's losses were $4.1 million, as opposed to a $16 million profit in the 4Q of 2002).  WWE was hit hard by the shutdown of The World ("WWF New York"), which resulted in a $35.6 million hit for the company; before that, they had still posted a post-tax operational income of over $16 million (still, that would have been down from the $42.5 million in income posted the prior year).
    Live event revenues actually held fairly steady, and were down only about 3%, to $72.2 million.  Of course, that's less impressive when you consider that the number of live events rose by over a third (from 237 to 327), and ticket prices went up by 9%.  In actuality, live event attendance was actually down significantly (over 30%) for the year, from an average of 8600 per show down to 5600 per show.
    Similarly, the loss of pay-per-view revenues was also softened by mitigating factors.  Although total PPV buys were down by about 24% (from 7.1 million down to 5.4 million), the PPV revenues only dipped by about 18%, due to the fact that WWE raised the price of PPVs up to $35 effective with this fiscal year.
    Ratings dips for both RAW (20% down in FY2003) and SD! (down 15% in FY2003) resulted in ad revenues dropping by more than $10 million for the year, as well.  This was partially offset, however, by slight increases in TV rights fees (mostly due to new overseas deals, but also thanks to a few specials on TNN and UPN).
    Toy sales were down, publications sales were down, merchandise sales via catalog and internet were down... but home video revenues remained steady (there was, unfortunately, no data given in terms of the number of different titles released in the year on DVD, which I'm assuming was way up in FY2003, offsetting lower per-title sales levels).
    The Fed also included a forecast for FY2004 as part of the year-end financial disclosure.  Since forecasts have to made in good faith, they indicate the company's honest appraisal of where business could be heading for the next 12 months (rather than a shiny, happy company line often spouted for the media).
    Of note in the forecasts:  WWE anticipates that the best case scenario for live event attendance is that they hold steady (the projected range actually indicates that they believe per-event attendance will probably drop in FY2004)...  they forecast PPV buys will drop even more precipitously (by 10%-20%), down to around 4.5 million for the year (or roughly 375,000 per month)...  for whatever reasons, those losses in PPV and live event audiences are not reflected in projections for RAW and SD! ratings: the Fed's forecasts there are for fairly steady performances (within a few ticks of FY2003's averages, anyway).
    You can get the full WWE financial data for FY2003 (and 4Q 2003), over at corporate.wwe.com.  
  • The corresponding conference call with Linda McMahon and WWE investors was not really as newsworthy as past ones have been.  She stayed pretty close to discussing the financials, and didn't really bite on any creative-type questions tossed in (likely by nosy non-stockholders, to be fair to Linda).
    Just about the only real major statement made along those lines was the revelation that WWE has been disappointed in the return they've gotten on their investment in Goldberg, so far.  Not knowing the terms of their "investment," I wouldn't dare to make a judgment on the return.  But I'm a firm believer in "Buyer Beware," and perhaps the Fed was expecting something unrealistic out of Goldberg.  Like expecting him to have mastered time travel technology so that he could take us all back to when he was massively over in 1998.
    Other business-type revelations from Mrs. McMahon:  after almost quadrupling the number of international shows held in FY2003, the Fed is going to increase them again in FY2004, and have tentatively planned on 31 foreign events....  for as long as Dwayne Johnson is billed as "The Rock" in his movie career, WWE will receive an Executive Producer credit (and $2 million payment) for each film...  WWE would like to resume with "Tough Enough," even if it's not with MTV; Linda noted that TE was the only WWE TV property that drew more female than male viewers (oh, lord... must resist urge for second easy cheap-shot at Lifetime)...  WWE may not be able to find somebody to sublease their Times Square property by the end of FY2004...  
  • Speaking of Goldberg as a "disappointment," he continues to be a lightning rod when it comes to rumors of backstage fireworks, as well...  some sources are going so far as to say some of his recent behavior might threaten his position as the anticipated SummerSlam headliner against Triple H, though I've heard nothing quite that severe myself.
    This could be a case of rumor mongerers turning molehills into mountains... although to be fair, one of Goldberg's own known personality traits is a similar ability to blow things out of proportion instead of just letting them slide.  One can only imagine how he might react to something like top management publicly calling his first three months in a company a disappointment and then still hearing about 30% boos from the live PPV crowd last night...
  • NWA-TNA had a big week last week, with AJ Styles unseating Jeff Jarrett as NWA Champ in a three-way match also involving Raven.  Even more interesting:  the company announced that Sting would be making an appearance at this coming week's show, which is TNA's one-year anniversary event.
    Sting will team with Jeff Jarrett against AJ Styles and a Mystery Partner.  Hmmmm....  about a week ago, Jarrett and Sting were opponents in a very solid main event to the WWA PPV that was taped last month in New Zealand.  Curious....  should be very interesting.
  • Over the weekend, it emerged that an independent analysis of the cause of death of "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith essentially supported the original findings: death by natural causes due in part to an enlarged heart.  
    Smith's dad was suspicious of those findings, and was on record saying he thought there might be foul play involved, which is why there was this follow-up exam.  Although there were trace amounts of morphine in Smith's system, and slightly elevated testosterone levels, neither existed at a lethal level.
  • A few post-PPV notes from WWE.com are worth repeating here... for instance, did you know that Rene Dupree -- at age 19 -- became the youngest holder ever of a WWE title?  I suppose if I'd known he was 19, I'd have known that... except that I thought I remembered him being 18 when he signed his developmental contract, and that was like 2 years ago.
    Guess I was wrong, though, because shaving a year or two off the age of some guy who's barely old enough to drink, anyway, would be utterly pointless, even by WWE standards.  In any case, it looks like I have to adjust my assessment of Dupree as a "Rick Martel clone" into "two parts Rick Martel, one part Marcus Alexander Bagwell."
    Also:  Stevie Ray was in the house last night in Houston, but affirmed for WWE.com that he's got no interest in pursuing a return to the wrestling business with his brother Booker T...  and the Fabulous Moolah was interviewed, and revealed that she's been told by Vince McMahon that he wants to book her in a wrestling match at some point after she has her 80th birthday next month.
    I also got a handful of e-mails about an interview with Shawn Michaels in which he sounded pretty upset about the fact that he and Ric Flair only got about 15 minutes on the PPV (which is sort of strange when you consider the show went off the air about 10 minutes earlier than usual).  But I looked, and there's nothing there.  What are you people looking at?  Or did Michaels get censored by the Man?
  • One guy you won't have to look for on RAW tonight (or ever again, at least for a while) on WWE TV is Jamal of 3 Minute Warning.  He's been released.  To answer your oh-so-witty question:  Jamal was the fat one, but not the really fat one.
    Rosie, who worked as a singles heel last week on RAW, is now probably a candidate for a repackaging.  Hopefully not until he can be used to put over Rico (who should be debuting in the next week or two with his new singles look, which happens to include Jackie Gayda as his valet).
  • That's all for today.  Enjoy RAW tonight, come on back for those results tomorrow, and then Wednesday, it's SD! spoilers, TNA preview, and lots more....


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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