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Christian is Hot, Booker is Not...
Plus RAW, ROH, Ratings, and More
August 11, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I got a thought-provoking e-mail over the weekend.  Paraphrased, it basically asked, "If you know you're being boring and stupid by putting a few pointless paragraphs of crap before you start the column, why do you still do it?".

Hmmm....  good one.  I guess this is just my way of "time stamping" the column each day, to prove to you that I am live, baby.  You know, like how -- back in the days of RAW taped 3 weeks ahead of time -- they'd go back and re-dub 30 seconds worth of commentary to talk about current events, to trick you into thinking the show wasn't canned!  Also: ever notice how they only date-stamp "The Daily Show" when it's a new one... but on reruns, they always go straight to Jon opening the show?  See, this is my way of telling you I'm right here, live, in the studio, this very day!

If this trick is good enough for the WWF AND for Jon Stewart, it's good enough for me.  And so you will endure my Griffey Injury Anguish, marvel at tales of my weekend displays of drinking prowess, and commiserate with me when my latest stupid band breaks up.

Because today is Monday, August 11, 2003, Potsie, and I'm not gonna let you forget it:

  • Yesterday, on Sunday, August 10, 2003, the InterContinental Title changed hands.  Yes, on a house show.  In Des Moines, Iowa.
    Christian defeated Booker T in what seemed to be an absolutely normal, very entertaining  15 minute match.  Until the final seconds, that is.  With Booker preparing to delivering the axe kick, he suddenly pulled up short and appeared to be in pain.  After a brief period of confusion, Christian recovered, and they did a quick series of moves that set up an Unprettier (by one report, it was done very gently).  Christian then made the cover and got the pinfall win.  
    There was a general sense of shock from the crowd, who were probably all expecting some kind of Dusty Finish to kick in.  Even the ref and Christian looked kind of surprised at the turn of events.  But no Dusty Finish was forthcoming: this decision was final, and Christian was the New IC Champ.  He celebrated in muted fashion, then left, as officials and medics came to the ring to check on Booker.
    Booker eventually left under his own power, which is a good sign.  However, there's also no doubt that he was still injured badly enough to necessitate a change to the planned finish of his match.  Even if the plan had been for Christian to take the title from the injured Booker T, the way it played out in the end definitely sounds like they had to scramble to get to that finish.  And there's at least one source who told me that nobody was more stunned when Booker didn't kick out of the Unprettier than Christian and the ref; they had expected Booker to kick out and maybe get himself counted out or something, to keep the title at least until the next night's television.
    At this point, I'm not entirely sure what to believe, but I figured I'd toss that out there for you to gnaw on.  Because even if there is speculation from one corner about this being a total spur of the moment thing, you've gotta keep in mind that WWE also knew of a pre-existing condition for Booker that might have changed their plans to keep the IC Title on him.
    Booker was sent home last week, to rest back and neck injuries that he'd worked through on the Australia tour.  He didn't have to work RAW, but showed up, rested and apparently ready to work, last night in Iowa.  I believe the injuries were classified as back spasms, or something fairly innocuous-sounding.  At the time, nobody was talking about anything more severe than maybe a relaxed schedule for Booker so he'd only work TV events for a month or so.  I guess that also could have changed in time for last night's house show, though, and they might have intended to get the title onto Christian, even if the exact final sequence didn't go down as planned due to an aggravation of Booker's condition.
    In any case, the end result is that Christian is the IC Champ.  I'm sure the peeps would be digging it, except that I don't think even they could be black-hearted enough to be happy about the title changing hands in this way.  Hopefully, when an update on Booker's true condition is known, we'll hear some good news, and it won't be anything too serious...
  • I guess it also bears mentioning that there is an old adage about events that don't happen on TV may not actually have happened at all.  With all due respect to a pair of Des Moines readers who mailed in stunned reports on the title change, you may not have seen anything at all.  Not a damn thing.
    Major feds have made a business out of ignoring or suppressing house show title changes when it suited them.  Often, this would take the form of doing a SERIES of title changes in between televised events.  By the time the next show aired, the title would be right back where it started, and only those in the cities where they did phantom house show title changes needed to be informed of what happened.  
    Obviously, there is no time to do something like that before the Fed is live on TV tonight for RAW.  If this was some kind of unplanned switch, their only option of not acknowledging it would be to pull something akin to the fabled Rockers WWF Tag Title win over the Hart Foundation back 14 years ago.  The one that happened at a TV taping, but which was promptly ignored when Jim Neidhart decided he wasn't leaving the company.  Only an arena full of fans in Ft. Wayne, IN, needed to be reconditioned on that one.  Nobody else (unless they were reading the dirtsheets) ever found out.
    However, the internet did not exist then, and tonight, when RAW is live, you might estimate that as much as a quarter or more of WWE's audience will have heard about Christian's win last night and the circumstance surrounding it.  I'd be shocked if they didn't just put Christian out there for a show-opening "Highlight Reel" or something, bragging about his regaining the gold.  To be honest, a house show title change just might provide some fresh sizzle for the IC division, which had become a randomly-shifting coupling of four guys (Booker, Christian, Test, and Steiner)...  now, with a new and unexpected champ, they could liven stories up by also including the Hurricane (and the S.H.I.T.) or others into the mix, based on last week's storytelling.  You could even have this be a complete reset, and have somebody new challenge for Christian's title.  Even if Booker's condition is transient and he'll be back sooner rather than later, taking Christian in new directions is still advisable; we got way too much of him and Booker working together in June and July for that to be Plan A in the near term.
    For the record: WWE.com has NOT, as of 1pm (eastern) on Monday afternoon, acknowledged the title change.  Like I said, I got 2 e-mails about it, and there's at least a half-dozen other corroborating reports on other sites, too, so this is not a question of "Did this really happen?"...  it's a question of "How will WWE play it?".  I don't think the lack of a blurb on WWE.com means they're going to try the phantom title change route.  I just think it means that, in the chaos of getting out of an unexpected situation, other things are taking precedent ahead of updating the website with something that everybody will find out tonight at 9pm, anyway.
  • OK, so that's the IC situation as it pertains to RAW tonight... but there's a whole rest of the show to consider, too, as we gear up for SummerSlam.
    The main storylines are now all intertwined, as Triple H, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, and Randy Orton have been tossed into the Elimination Chamber for the SS main event.  Formerly expected to be three separate singles matches at the PPV, the feuds have been consolidated to help keep HHH and the World Title in the PPV main event even though HHH's groin injury would have kept him from working a main-event quality match all on his own.
    For tonight's purposes, it seems that the break-out elements of this six man formula will be Kevin Nash and Chris Jericho.  Last week, Nash's early show attack on Jericho took enough out of Y2J that Jericho lost to Rob Van Dam later on in the show.  So Jericho, in a fit of rage, challenged Nash to a hair vs. hair match.  My original thought was that that would be the stipulation of their eventual one-on-one match at the RAW-only PPV in September, but word on the street is now that they might intend to do the match prior to SummerSlam.  That would mean either this week or next.  If it's me doing it, I say give Nash a promo tonight to accept the challenge, and do a brawl or sneak attack or something to give Jericho some heat going into the match to take place NEXT week.  Let it simmer, let people talk about it, get it hyped properly.
    The Goldberg/HHH and Michaels/Orton feuds won't be dormant, but I suspect they'll take the backseat this week.  For the sake of credibility, you'll probably see Goldberg squash someone tonight, and also see Orton get a resume-building win in the name of making sure the new Evolution theme song by Motorhead gets sufficient exposure on tonight's telecast.  But for the Elimination Chamber storylines, the focus will stay on Nash/Jericho.
    Next step down the ladder, you've got Rob Van Dam, Kane, Shane McMahon, and Eric Bischoff all involved in a little bit of a mess.  Shane desperately wants a shot at Kane, to avenge his mother.  But RVD's none to happy with Kane, either, and has first dibs on him at SummerSlam.  Shane's efforts to circumvent that last week means he ran afoul of Eric Bischoff.  And then, when the two men were slated to fight in the RAW main event, Bischoff resorted to releasing Kane as his own personal monster.  Kane tombstoned Shane, and Bischoff won the "match," bringing us just about full circle.
    This week, I trust you'll see Bischoff bragging about beating Shane... with the intent of Shane coming back (he should probably take a week off to sell the Tombstone, but there just isn't enough time) to challenge Bischoff to a rematch.  At SummerSlam, natch.  That should leave Kane and RVD alone to put some mustard on their feud heading into the PPV; the two haven't crossed paths in three weeks, now, so a quick two-week, focused push to SS is what we need.
    Also: if Gail Kim's heel turn is gonna work, she needs to cut a good promo tonight to tell us why she did what she did to Trish Stratus...  if the tag title situation is gonna perk up, I say the quicker they do the Duds vs. La Resistance and get it over with, the better....  there are two burgeoning teams who might be able to help in a few weeks, too: Hurricane and the S.H.I.T., as well as Lance Storm and Goldust; they oughta get the benefit of some backstage skits to advance their stories....  and of course, it sounds like WWE is going to put Jim Ross back out at the announce desk, after one month out selling the burns inflicted on him by Kane.  This is probably a good thing, as the duo of King and Coach seemed, if anything, to possess anergy...  you know, the opposite of synergy: together they managed to be less than the sum of their parts.  
    Check out RAW tonight to see how they address the IC and hair vs. hair situations... or come on back here to OO for full coverage and analysis tomorrow.
  • The final rating for last week's SD! came in at a 3.0, which is significantly lower than recent averages.  SD! was pre-empted in New York City, traditionally a very strong WWE market, which could easily have contributed a loss of a few tenths of a ratings point.  The only other time in the last 2 months SD! has scored that low was on the Thursday night preceding the Fourth of July.
    I'd say go ahead and take this week's dip with a grain of salt.  But if numbers don't come back up into the mid-threes this Thursday, maybe I'll change my tune.
  • I'd say chalk it up to SD!'s poor ratings performance, but the truth is, even if SD! had performed as it usually does, the OO Battle of the Brands ratings would still have exceeded the Nielsen ratings.  It was a strong show, and OO Staff rated it thusly.  RAW was also really good, and was rated as an "overperformer" last week, too.
    It's the first time in a while that both shows were strong enough that our critics' averages were higher than the Nielsen ones.  I, for one, view that as a trend that I'd love to see continue.
    For the record, even as I praise both shows as overperformers last week, I still gave SD! the slight edge.  A few other OO staffers agreed, a few disagreed and gave the win to RAW, but in the end, the numbers crunched down to a photo finish win for SD! in the hundredths-place (about a 0.05 margin of victory).  You can see the full details on last week's RAW vs. SD! battle right here.
  • A few readers sent in word about an update to Hulk Hogan's litigation status against WCW...  you remember, he sued them in the wake of his final appearance for the company.  At Bash at the Beach in July, 2000, Jeff Jarrett just laid down for Hogan, and then Vince Russo came out and cut a promo that basically underscored the worthlessness of Hogan's "win."  Russo made all kinds of shoot-y comments about how Hogan got his creative control and his win, and now he could just get the hell out because his title didn't mean anything.  
    Hogan contended that Russo's diatribe amounted to defamation of character and further said that his contract with WCW SHOULD have dictated that he work in the main event of all PPVs, and that he had been contracted to work six additional shows (which he never did work for WCW).
    Well, I guess the deal is that a Georgia judge has tossed out the defamation of character suit -- basically using a "if it's on TV, it must be a work" heuristic (more accurately, the ruling is that Hulk Hogan the TV character was defamed, and that's just part of the business), which is very savvy, I must say -- but the breach of contract suit will be going to trial later this year.
    Now, to address an issue that came up with one reader who sent along this update....  it's not actually WCW that is in court here.  Because obviously, WCW is the owned property of WWE today.  When WWE bought WCW, they picked and choose which assets they wanted.  They, quite wisely, opted NOT to assume any of WCW pending litigation.
    There remains, somewhere in the Turner/Time Warner/AOL empire, a wrestling holding company.  I forget precisely what it's called -- "Universal Wrestling Somethingorother" is what my brain wants to say -- but THIS is who Hogan's going to court against.  The same holding company is the one that kept on cutting checks to Sting and Goldberg for over a year after WCW was sold, and stuff like that.  
    So fret not.  WWE is in no way involved in this case...  it remains solely the concern of people down in Atlanta who USED TO own WCW, and now have nothing but a big pile of headaches to deal with.
  • The VERY critically acclaimed Ring of Honor promotion made its western-most venture this weekend, debuting in the Mythical Land of Dayton, OH.  Of course, ROH comes to my hometown, and where am I?  Well, half an hour south of town celebrating my little brother's birthday at my mom's house, naturally!  Where else would I be?
    Mildly annoyed by the conflict of schedules, I went to Plan B: when done at my mom's house, I went to the bar mostly likely to be hosting my friends who had gone to the show.  Plan B worked perfectly, and Dayton's #2 Rock 'n' Wrestling Connoisseur (guess who's #1?), Gee Gee Bradley, filled me in.
    An overall Thumbs Up was administered, with the ROH tag title match -- AJ Styles and replacement partner Homicide beating Christopher Daniels and Danny Maff (managed by Jim Cornette) -- rating as the match of the night.  Homicide was also singled out as the stand-out performer of the night, as Styles, Daniels, and other more familiar names are EXPECTED to be awesome.  Homicide was a bit of an unknown, and was really outstanding.
    Homicide was in the main event because Amazing Red was injured; they ran an angle during intermission in which Daniels and Maff attacked Red, necessitating the inclusion of Homicide as Styles' partner.
    Other action: Matt Stryker (an HWA mainstay who I'm amazed hasn't gotten a WWE developmental deal... he's like a Dean Malenko clone in all the good ways, but has also shown signs of personality) scored what was widely viewed as an upset over Justin Credible....  ROH Champ Samoa Joe was allegedly OK but underwhelming in his successful defense against BJ Whitmer...  Homicide's scheduled match was an early-card win over TNA's Chris Sabin...  Shawn Michaels' protégé Michael Shane won an exciting four corners match....  and there were probably some other matches, too, but those were the ones I got a report on.
    The show was, in a lot of ways, a jacked up version of the HWA shows that have been held with some regularity here at the Fairgrounds, with HWA guys filling up some undercard slots, and not necessarily all the normal guys ROH books for shows in Philly and on the east coast.  But still, the ROH name combined with the familiarity that local fans have due to HWA events resulted in a very hot crowd of over 600.  That should be enough to bring ROH back to town.
  • DVR may not work on attending live wrestling shows, but it does make sure that I get to record "Confidential" for later viewing every week.
    As usual, WWE's allegedly-insider show was mostly fluff that contributed nothing to my fandom... but two moments this week stood out as worthy of mention.
    First, there was Chris Jericho getting to select the week's historic from-the-vault match.  After announcing that his choice was a masterpiece of psychology and athleticism, he introduced us to King Kong Bundy vs. SD Jones from WM1.  HA!  Then they came back to Jericho, and he gave us his real choice: the Bulldogs vs. the Dream Team from WM2.  And that was very cool to see.
    Second moment:  a silly "behind the scenes" package from the filming of the SummerSlam Lesnar-battles-the-shark commercial included a soundbite from Brock Lesnar, who said, point blank, that when he heard the idea, he thought it was stupid.  As the wise man once said, I love shoot comments that aren't supposed to be shoot comments.  Or something.  Brock's comment was only left in, however, because he later warmed to the idea, and found it humorous.  I'm still sitting here left wondering how that particular choice of a commercial is going to result in even ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PERSON thinking, "Hey, I want to buy that PPV."  Funny, maybe.  Effective, I seriously doubt it.
    You want effective, how about those K-1 PPV commercials airing incessantly on ESPN lately?  Ass kicking, that I'll pay good money to see.  Silly knock-offs of "Jaws" I can do without.
  • Four different people mailed me about this, and I want to address it right now.  On Friday, I mentioned the possible future disintegration of the Lance Storm/Goldust pairing (they are booked as opponents on house shows a month from now)... and in doing so, I turned the phrase "LanceDust" to describe the team.
    Well, kudos to the quartet of you who all had the same idea:  that "DustStorm" is a much, much better name for the team.  You are correct.  DustStorm is is.  I apologize for not coming up with it myself... such are the dangers at being a first draft writer who types at nearly the speed of thought!  The GOOD jokes get left behind for somebody else to come up with.
  • I'm just about done for today.  Folks attending WWE TV tapings, remember, your on-site reports are what I need to get spoilers posted accurately and in a timely fashion here on Wednesday.  So send 'em in... and I'll 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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