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Spike Lee Pusses Out, RAW Stuff,
Goldberg/D-Von Absences, More...
July 9, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Apologies to anyone who clicked the "over" headline in the last day or so, thinking they'd get an update on the Spike Lee/Spike TV situation...  after I'd finished my Monday column, the news about the Spike settlement broke, and I did a quick addendum at the top of the column.  Problem is, I forgot to upload the updated column even though I remembered to load the main page with the new rotating headlines; I didn't realize that till I checked my e-mail today and had a few people asking why I was suddenly using the idiot newsboard ploy of putting up a headline that had nothing to do with the real story.

Didn't mean to do it, folks.  It was an honest mistake.  Here's your full report on Spike TV and everything else that's of moderate-to-significant importance:

  • This past Monday was the deadline for Spike Lee to post a quintupled bond meant to cover any losses by Viacom should they have been awarded the rights to the "Spike TV" name by the courts.  Lee declined to post the additional $2 million bond, and instead negotiated a settlement that brought his litigation against Viacom over the "Spike TV" name to an end.
    With the passing of the deadline and the arrangement of a settlement, the New York judge who originally stepped in to stop TNN's name change to Spike TV last month has lifted his order.  The name change can now occur at Viacom's leisure.
    We'll never know if Lee would have been able to make a reasonable legal case out of his claims that "Spike TV" would have infringed on his name and unfairly profited from an association with the name "Spike."  But we do know that in the court of common sense and public opinion, Lee was thrashed pretty soundly for making such idiotic claims.  Now that he's backed down, I don't know whether to congratulate Lee on coming to his senses, or if I should accuse him of pussing out and not taking his medicine from the courts like a man.  I couldn't give a damn about the silly "Spike TV" name, but I do enjoy seeing people acting logically and rationally, so maybe I should soften a bit and just accept that -- even if his motivation was saving face by not getting beat in court -- Lee is know exhibiting a sanity that's been missing the last month.
    A joint statement from Lee and Viacom, released yesterday, does not give details on the settlement, so we don't know who paid money to whom (if anyone did).  There's just the usually frilly language about how the two sides now see eye-to-eye and they're happy to put this whole thing behind them.
    For Lee, conveniently enough, moving on means continuing work on "Sucker Free City," a project he's in the middle of developing for Showtime, a Viacom-owned network.  Oh, the irony.  You know what, though, Viacom had better watch out: I hear Lee's got Johnnie Cochran looking into suing them again over those "Sucker Free Sundays" that MTV is doing!
    For Viacom/TNN, moving on means getting the Spike TV changeover done as quickly as possible.  Though the apparatus was already in place for the name change last month, the network will apparently not rush to just throw their new logo out there.  They will re-build to a new re-launch; creating the awareness of the new name is as important as doing this quickly, I guess.  Personally, I'd think the press they're getting over the lawsuit would be about as much hype as they'll see, but I guess Viacom doesn't just want to push this through next Monday.
    Instead, network head Albie Hecht says to expect the name change to officially take place "within a month."
    Yee haw!  And with that, this particular piece of lunacy will be finished.
  • Airing for possibly the 2nd- or 3rd-to-last time on TNN, Monday's RAW was a big step up from the previous week.  I thought the Booker/Christian match was a great way to start off the show.  A very exciting and dramatic match, and the title change set a big-show tone for the rest of the night.
    Second best bit was the Highlight Reel with Jericho and Shawn Michaels discussing the Montreal Screwjob.  For about 10 minutes, that was awesome stuff with 2 professionals completely manipulating the audience.  That it petered out to an anticlimax is not really their fault... I'd have signed off on that ending if for some reason I was ever granted the power to do so; I would have miscalculated Montreal's willingness to boo Jericho as much as the next guy.  It's only in retrospect that we can speculate about the myriad different ways they could have chosen to end that segment.  Even so, addressing the Bret Hart screwjob at all still adds to the overall big show feel.
    The Trish story arc was also good (get angry at Test, get beat up by that dickhead Test, those injuries cost her the #1 contender match versus Molly), and so, for that matter, was most of the stuff with Austin and Kane.  The lynchpin of the night (when Kane though Austin was "making fun") was a stretch and came off a bit contrived, but like the week before, they put some cool ideas in there, and the result is again that Kane seems like a pretty mysterious and intriguing figure.  And one who continues to kick ass, which never hurts.
    I had my big say on all things RAW in the Recap I did yesterday.  So I say check that out if you want more of my thoughts.  Plus more of my ever-entertaining rhetoric.
  • The rating for Monday's RAW came in at a 4.2, a huge gain from the week before and the second plus-four rating in the last 3 weeks.
    Now, me sitting here in Dayton, OH, without access to Titan Tower's vast storehouse of ratings data and all that nor even one minute's experience in the industry proper, I don't ever claim to understand exactly how things work.  But I'm a pretty sharp guy, and I have some ideas.  And you know something?  After seeing this number for RAW, I'm telling you, I am not just making up this idea of "stickiness" that I've been talking about the past 3 weeks or so.
    Look: RAW starts off with roughly the same number of viewers each week at 9pm (eastern)... that can fluctuate a bit based on if there was a good show that got people hooked the week before and stuff like that, but generally, RAW starts off in the low 3's to start the show.  Then people gravitate towards the show as time wears on.  The "stickiness" of RAW is what ends up dictating if the audience grows above 4 and stays there, and then maybe even above 5 for the final quarter hour or two.
    That precise trend is what happened two weeks ago and again this week: the sub-3.5 start grew to a plus-5 rating by the end of the show because most viewers who stumbled onto RAW wound up wanting to stay because there were no easy-out segments that motivated you to change the channel.  Both those weeks, RAW, overall, was plus-four in the ratings.
    The week in between?  RAW did a 3.6 for a show that actually started out with a slightly larger audience than usual (based on the previous week's unmasking of Kane).  Unfortunately, the show was so not-sticky and riddled with out segments in the final hour that they never built up the momentum to get up into that high-four or plus-five range for any segment, and actually peaked prior to the final QH/overrun because of it.
    This new paradigm for formatting RAW -- placing commercials in unusual places and in general pacing the show in such a way that it always feels like something important is in the middle of happening instead of either having already just happened or about to happen later on -- is not only a good thing for the Fed (since they can realize the benefits of increased ratings), but also for fans.  I know that when they get it right, I really enjoy that sort of free-wheeling/anything-can-happen feel a lot more than the old format, which often felt like they were working from a 4 year old template, and just filling in new names.
    Reviewing the important thing here before I got off on my tangent: RAW did a 4.2 rating this week, up 0.6 from the week before.
  • Some very conspicuous absences on RAW Monday...  ones that smarks probably enjoyed, but still absences nonetheless.
    Triple H and Scott Steiner both worked on Heat.  Don't know how much of that was concern over having Canadian fans react inappropriately to these guys (HHH was cheered mildly vs. Maven, and Steiner was getting huge heel heat for his match taped for Sunday's show), and how much was just a creative decision to let other guys shine.
    You have to guess that Canadian fan response is the precise reason why Lance Storm was not to be seen (not even on Heat).  His whole gimmick right now is predicated on being a "booooooo-ring" heel, and I doubt Montreal would have played along.  
    Goldberg was in Montreal and booked for RAW, but was taken off the show due to some sort of arm injury.  I am not clear on the details.  Knowing how Canada has reacted to Steiner (and how they did again on pre-RAW Heat tapings), the cynic in me almost wonders if they did not want to risk Goldberg being anything less than a massive babyface as he's supposedly on the road to a SummerSlam title shot.  If we hear more about this arm injury, maybe my cynicism will go away...
    D-Von Dudley's absence sounds like the most unfortunate of all: a death in the family.  Again, no details, but this makes Lawler's pestering of JR regarding D-Von's personal business all the more obnoxious in hindsight.  Hopefully, D-Von will take care of his more important business and be back in the saddle next Monday.
  • Spoilers for the rest of the week have been posted right here.  There are a few things I'd like to talk about right now -- like the fact that we know the semi-final bracketing for the US Title tourney -- but that I guess I can't, since they'd be spoilers.
  • There's a mildly interesting piece about WWE's financial situation in the latest Business Week...  I mean, if you're the type of fan who cares about the business side, you've probably already got all the info you need to know about how business sucks right now, so the numbers presented won't be new to you. And if you're the type of fan who doesn't care, then, well, you don't care...
    But there is one really intriguing passage where writer Brian Hindo wonders aloud about just why WWE is a publicly traded stock at all.  To be honest, I've wondered the same thing, and for many of the same reasons he wonders them, especially lately.  Going public and raising a ton of money made sense back 3-4 years ago when Vince had grand schemes involving football leagues and Vegas casinos, and need money to cover start-up costs.  Today, well, there just doesn't seem to be much reason to be trading on the NYSE.
    Check out the article right here.

  • While I'm tipping you off to interesting reads elsewhere, here are a couple sent to me by OO Reader Joe Littrell.
    First is a piece that pretty much sums up exactly how completely insane and stupid the whole backyard wrestling thing is.  It covers a guy who, medical history aside, seems inexcusably self-destructive, but who does have an audience for his stunts.  His name is "Scar."  You can check out the lengthy profile right here.
    The other is a slightly more "feel good" piece, but also profiles a man who made his name bleeding like a stuck pig and covering his body in scar tissue.  Abdullah the Butcher, now a restaurateur, gets interviewed by the Atlanta press right here.
  • After a bit of a down week last week, TNA was hoping to get back in the swing of things this week with an assist from Latin America...  but it turns out that Shocker and Negro Casas, scheduled to face each other tonight on TNA's PPV, will not be appearing afterall.  Reason given is that Shocker had a scheduling conflict.
    But that's OK, because the existing roster of established TNA stars look poised to get the ball rolling again all by themselves.  The main event will be D'Lo Brown facing AJ Styles with Styles' NWA Title on the line.  The two had been tag partners for about a month back in May, and then split when both decided they wanted to chase the big singles gold.  Styles got his hands on it first, and now, this will be the first title shot for D'Lo against his old partner.  There's no reason to believe that this will be anything less than outstanding if they do it up right.
    Also scheduled: they'll have more footage from Sting's interview with Mike Tenay...  Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger (same as from ECW, just without Dawn Marie) will challenge America's Most Wanted for the NWA Tag Titles....  Jeff Jarrett will face Joe E. Legend (former WWE developmental talent)....  Jerry Lynn will face Kid Kash one-on-one (due to an injury, Erik Watts can't team with Lynn, so Kash's Kreation, Abyss, is also out of the match)...  Shane Douglas will face Julio Dinero....  and Sandman will be awarded the Hard 10 Championship belt/trophy/whatever (you KNOW those never go smoothly).
    Looks like a much more interesting line-up this week than last.  There's plenty of interesting stuff set to go on in the ring, and as big a name as Sting is, his little interview is right where it should be:  maybe third or fourth on the depth-chart, instead of the main reason you're supposed to buy the PPV.
    Check out TNA if you like, or just come on back to OO later in the week for Damian Gonzalez's full report.
  • I think that about does it for me today.  Usual slate of good stuff coming up the rest of the week, and unless the Foos kick too much of my ass on Thursday night, I'll be back here again on Friday my own self.
    See you then. 


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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