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RAW, Ratings, Piper, Rock, More...
July 23, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Sorry about late updates the past few days...  Tuesday was a Road Runner downtime issue.  Today, well, today, I'm just late by about an hour.  Other than apologizing and moving on, I can do nothing about it.  And neither can you.

So let's just get on with it, eh?  Alright:

  • For all my expectations that Monday's RAW would be awesome just by virtue of all the cool things they had lined up, I gotta admit to some level of disappointment.  It wasn't a bad show by any stretch.  It just wasn't, you know, kick ass.
    For the most part, I said my piece in the RAW Recap.  But for those who don't want to slog through rehashing 2 hours of TV you already watched to enjoy my genius-level analysis, I'll expand upon a few main points...
    First of all, Jericho/Michaels was very good, but should have been awesome.  It baffles me that in the past two weeks, the only build-up for the match was one aside comment from Jericho last week, and one 30 second segment prior to the match on Monday night.  I would have had some kind of extended face to face showdown, or at least equal time for Michaels, on Monday prior to the match.  That would have saved the opening five minutes or so from being so flat with the live crowd and it would have made the whole spectacle that much more engrossing.
    Same thing goes for the Booker/Test match, which should come off much better than it did.  Booker's a strong babyface, and Test's been surging in the dickhead department lately.  But they tanked until Stacy's ass made an appearance due purely to lack of preparation/hype.  The best shows are ones where they SHOW us the set-up for a match early on RAW, and then give it to us later; it doesn't work so well when it's the job of the announcers (who the live crowd can't hear, anyway) to tell us why a match is taking place.
    For the apparently lack of preparation that went into two matches like those, I DID think that a lot of thought went into Evolution's bits on Monday, and to good effect.  They finally gave Randy Orton a reason for having a job, other than that punchably pretty face of his.  He's "The Legend Killer."  OK, so after Foley, and now Michaels, the roster of "legends" is a bit thin, but I'll take it.  It's something, and they executed it well.  The whole Evolution arc, which basically made them the stars of Hour One (and then with a reprise at the end of Michaels/Jericho in Hour Two), was done nicely.  "Legend Killer" set-up promo, then Orton over Venis, then HHH/Goldberg face to face, then the cooling down of Orton that introduced us to the "second half" of the The Plan.  That was a nicely plotted and executed bit of business.
    And the finale?  Look, Kane's character continues to deviate from both what we've been told about him in the past and from what's genuinely realistic about his current behavior.  The logic holes here are big enough to drive trucks through... but as I outlined yesterday, there's a part of me that got off on the sheer over-the-top-ness of Kane's antics last night.  And as I've already made the case for, the next progression of that is to go full on Hannibal Lecter with Kane in terms of the visual/presentation side of his gimmick.  With all due respect to Sabu and Paul Heyman (who brought that gimmick to ECW 8 years ago), I think this is the only way to make the Kane character so convincingly bad-ass that we quit wondering "Why are there cops there to unchain him, but not there when he goes berzerk?" (because the answer is, "They are all scared to death of him"), or ask "Why is a guy straight out of a psych ward being allowed to be a wrestler, anyway?" (because fans 8 years ago didn't care with regard to Sabu, they just lapped up the "Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal" catchphrase).  And yes, I see a big part of how this works being Kane doing disturbed interviews through the Lecter mask (how ironic, eh?), but I also think this could tie in perfectly with the previously endorsed idea of him getting a manipulative handler to do most of his talking (making his comments more rare and special by contrast).
    But enough, RAW was definitely OK and had some highspots (like the likely Match of the Week in Jericho/Michaels).  I guess I just let my own expectations get a bit out of hand, though, since it never really came close to wowing me.  
    Full results and opinion are over in the RAW Recap, if you still need them.
  • The rating for Monday night: a very strong 4.2 cable rating.  That's up about a half point over the previous week, and another of RAW's stronger ratings of the year.
    Most interesting about the ratings: the steadiness of them over the course of two hours.  The show actually opened at 9pm (eastern) with a 4.0 quarter hour, which is over a half-a-point higher than usual for RAW's opening audience.  They clearly had people's attention, had us expecting a big show.  The audience was steady for the opening hour, than peaked up to a 4.6 for the Michaels/Jericho match.  People then tuned out, and the ratings dipped back to the low 4's; the final QH didn't peak much, though the over run (which was shorter than usual this week) did get up over a 5.
    On one hand, the steadiness of viewership over the span of two hours, and the fact that the company started out with a much larger than usual audience... those are good things.  On the other, you could make a case that the audience peaked for Michaels/Jericho, then dipped, instead of driving strong to the finish (it's hard to make a case for a 2 minute over run being significant as compared to a full quarter hour).  So pick a ratings story you want to hear, and enjoy it...  I'm not quite sure which of the two makes more sense at this point.
  • A notable absence on RAW: The Rock, who had told a radio interviewer that he was booked for Monday's LA edition of RAW, and that while there, he'd do an angle to set up a match for the Aug. 4 RAW taking place in Vancouver.
    All I can say is the same thing WWE puts in small print in every advertisement they publish: "Card subject to change."  Plans are subject to change, too.  Rock may have thought he'd be able to do a fly-in to LA for Monday when he did the interview 2 or 3 weeks ago, but maybe his plans changed.  Or maybe creative just decided they had a full enough slate already?  Maybe his movie's producers don't want him putting himself in danger of injury while he's in the middle of a multi-million dollar project?  I don't know at this point, though that last one is the soundest bit of speculation, if you ask me.  
    Rock's still in Vancouver filming his latest movie, and the Fed still went to a bit of trouble to reschedule things so RAW is live there in two weeks.  Maybe now he won't have a match set up for that show... but I'd be shocked if he didn't at least make an appearance.  
  • Also on The Rock: you can see the trailer for this Autumn's "The Rundown" (which is the confirmed final title of the picture formerly known as "Helldorado" and a few other titles) at Universal's website.
    The trailer was also attached to this past weekend's #1 movie, "Bad Boys II."  A few readers who saw it seemed suitably enticed by it... an apparent good mix of action and comedy.  But apparently, it Needs More Walken.  Yeah.
    Last I remember reading, "The Rundown" was scheduled for release sometime in September, well out of the way of the Summer blockbusters, when it should be able to stand out as the highest profile action flick on the market for at least a week or two.  That should mean a nice big opening weekend, and even if business falls off after that, well, the film will probably have made enough back to be profitable.  Which will look good on Rock's Hollywood resume.
  • Just about everybody and their aunties are buzzing about the possibility that Shane McMahon might finally be coming back to TV next week on RAW, as sort of a surrogate for his mother.  I don't know exactly where it started, but this seems to have gone beyond just fan-boy speculation into the realm of rumor.
    The part that seems like a half-reasonable rumor is the part that simply has him showing up to sort of take over as a WWE corporate figurehead for the purposes of the Austin/Bischoff angle.  I mean, even Vince sold the storyline a bit (see SD! Spoilers), so it wouldn't be too outrageous to think they'd bring Shane into it.
    The part that I'd label as irresponsible speculation is the part that has Shane stepping in in place of RVD as Kane's primary feud, setting up a SummerSlam PPV match.  That would (a) admittedly kick ass (knowing Shane), but (b) would be coming out of left field (so it's not the sort of thing you should hold your breath on).
    Consider yourself filled in on this particularly dubious bit of information.
  • The official launch of "Spike TV" will be Monday, August 11.  The new name of the New New TNN will go in place at 9am that morning, and the network has a few special things planned.  Like an airing of the original version of that thing from the Playboy mansion: you know, the mix without all the references to "Spike TV" edited out!  Whoo hoo!
    If this story remains of any interest to wrestling fans, however, it's because Viacom is promising that that night's live RAW will feature a "special Spike moment."  Or something like that, I forget the exact wording.  When Spike Lee's injunction first took effect, the press noted that a special segment on RAW was really the only programming change TNN had to make.  I'm sure this is just gonna be the same thing as whatever that segment was supposed to be.  And why do I guess it's going to have something to do with Spike Dudley?
  • In other WWE trying to help out the Viacom Media Empire: UPN will get a ton of help from WWE, and SD! specifically, in promoting "The Mullets" this summer and autumn.
    Already, you saw "Denny and Dwayne" on RAW this week.  And when the show debuts, it'll be on Thursday night, following a 90 minute version of SmackDown!.  After that, it moves to a usual Tuesday night timeslot.  The last time UPN tried that, they failed to convert any of the then WWF's audience...
    But just like I told you six months ago: Viacom and UPN think that this show has cross-over appeal to wrestling fans and plan to use it. Maybe this time, it'll work.  I don't know how "The Mullets" will actually turn out: on one hand, as I've recounted previously, my brother got to see the pilot and thought it was pretty funny, but on the other, the commercials have not exactly been convincing to me, personally.
    Just remember: OO has been YOUR HOME for insider Mullet Brothers News for the past six months, and will stay that way, at least as long as my brother has a job at "West Wing" where he sort of knows some of the people working on that show!   
    Wait, dammit, don't leave for the Torch... what if I promise never to mention the show again, ever?
  • The latest edition of HBO's semi-weekly "Real Sports" did a very brief follow-up on Roddy Piper.  They recapped Piper's involvement in their story on "The Sickness" from one month ago, and then detailed how days after the airing of that segment, Piper was cut loose from WWE.
    The show noted that WWE admitted publicly that Piper's "Real Sports" comments were a contributing factor to that decision.  They also classified the move differently than WWE did, saying WWE and Piper had agreed in principle to a deal, but had not closed it, and that WWE pulled it off the table following the "Real Sports" thing, leaving Piper out in the cold.  
    I believe I recall WWE's story being that they and Piper had been working on a night-to-night deal, but simply could not work out a concrete deal to keep Piper on, thus his dismissal.
    Clearly, there's a bit of deviation between those two stories.  In neither case, does WWE look too awful, as they did not outright fire Piper; they merely ceased retaining him on a show-to-show basis.  But if HBO's take is right, the whole mess seems WAY more vindictive on WWE's part.  At least if WWE's version is accurate, you can kind of put some of this off on Piper (inability to finalize a deal sooner was probably the result of him overvaluing himself at this stage of his career).
    Thanks to those readers who saw the little tag on "Real Sports" and brought it to my attention.
  • Last thing for today, a quick look at what TNA's got in store on their PPV tonight...
    The main event will be D'Lo Brown challenging AJ Styles for the NWA Title.  The former partners are now enemies, as Styles has gone full heel... the match is set up so that it's Two out of Three Falls: first fall must be a pinfall, second must be a submission, and third (if necessary, but isn't it always?) will be decided by ladder match rules.  Sounds like a winner, provided they get at least 30 minutes to do it up right.  Problem is, on the always-condensed TNA shows, that's not necessarily a given.
    Also tonight:  America's Most Wanted vs. Diamond/Swinger for the tag titles...  Raven/CM Punk/Julio Dinero vs. Shane Douglas/Brian Lee/Slash...  Elix Skipper's "Pound for Pound" open challenge...  part four in the "Behind the Diminishing Returns... I Mean, Paint" interview with Sting (which has gotten progressively more pointless with each passing part)... and the naming of a new "Director of Authority," in a segment that will include Harley Race, Ricky Morton, and Larry Zbyszko.
    Looks like a show with a very strong main event that could carry the whole thing.  The tag title match could also be very good, and if they can make the Director of Authority thing seems special (or at least come off sensibly), TNA might have a winner tonight.
    Check it out, or come on back to OO for Damian Gonzalez's recap on Friday.  Maybe Friday.
  • That's it.  I'm outta here.  See you again in 48.


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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