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Difference Between Right & RAWng...
Plus Mid-Week News...
August 20, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Is it ever too early to start hoping that one's current stretch of shitty 90-plus-degree weather will be the last one for the year?  Cuz I find myself sort of crossing my fingers that today and tomorrow fulfills my obligation to sweating my balls off for no apparent reason... then a month of seasonable low-to-mid-80s is fine, and then we head into the Greatest Month of the Year:  October.

Just please: no more making my own gravy any time I attempt anything more strenuous than typing up the latest in spectacularly-insightful, eloquently-presented, and always focused and topical wrestling news.

To wit:

  • Well, I can't say I unconditionally loved RAW this week.  Then again, I find 95% of all people and things so annoying that I can't even LIKE them, so maybe I'm not the one to be going by.
    But: I also can't say I loathed the show, at least not quite as much some other notables.  Yeah, there were missteps, but at the end of the night, I thought they had been adequately covered up.
    First, the most common gripe... it came to me in e-mail form maybe 15-20 times.  Which is still only about one-twentieth of the number of "SoBigF" worms I was subjected to yesterday, but c'mon...  anyway, people somehow managed to get all enraged over Kevin Nash's haircut.  He just went for the old "OZ" crew cut...  not the as-promised cue ball look.
    Well, allow me to retort:  big freakin' deal, people.  The whole idea behind hair matches is that the loser is to be humiliated; extrapolating, the idea is that fans are extra-interested in the match because they want to see the HEEL be humiliated.  Now, Kevin Nash may not enjoy a whole lot of popularity among the subset of fans who can use the terms "work rate" and "glass ceiling" and "Nipple H" together in the same sentence... but he's still a relatively popular babyface out there in the arenas and in the homes of average joes who watch WWE TV.  The vast majority of fans looked at the match, and saw Jericho cheating to win, then they looked at the haircut and saw Nash honoring the stipulation by cutting his hair but without being completely emasculated.  I'm guessing outside of the 15-20% of fans who go out and read about wrestling on the internet on a daily basis, this outcome was agreeable enough.
    Still, once subjected to the smark lashing-out-for-a-barely-defensible-reason yesterday, I was struck by the idea that Jericho showing up at SummerSlam or the next night on RAW, DEMANDING to shave the rest of Nash's hair off because they had a Verbal Contract, dammit, could be downright hilarious, 100% pure classic Jericho-style, and would give their little feud additional legs.  But since Nash would probably "win" by keeping his crewcut, maybe that'd only piss you people off more?  Oh well, it was a thought...
    I actually gave more credence to the half-dozen e-mails that suggested that Nash's blond dye-job telegraphed the end of the match... but then I dismissed that, too.  I mean, yes, in retrospect it is obvious that Nash's OZ-cut was designed to look better in blond than it would in Grecian.  But you could also have applied the logic (pre-match, I'm saying) that Nash going through the trouble to dye his hair blond was a sure-fire give-away that he wasn't going to be cutting it off later that night.  You could have guessed either way on that, and so in the end, that was a non-factor, too.  Keep on trying, kids... maybe you'll stumble across a genuinely good reason why I shouldn't have liked the Jericho/Nash match or its outcome.  Or maybe you won't.
    Now, to Issue the Second: the Bischoff/Linda McMahon skit.  Now, this was not railed against by the masses.  This was, instead, expertly lambasted by one Jeb Lund, who filled in for me on RAW Recapping duty yesterday.  
    Yes, it was painful to watch.  Yes, it was atrociously conceived and then poorly executed.  Yes, there is likely no satisfactory ending to this story.  It's kind of as if the creative team decided to randomly focus on an aside comment made by Bischoff about three months ago (the one about liking Mature Women) as some sort of perfect illustration of his evil-ness, and then on Monday, it spun way out of control.  RAW may feel free to prove me wrong, but the vibe I get is that this is not a story with a big, fan-pleasing blow-off...  it's just a directionless set of skits designed to allegedly make Bischoff odious to the fans in the absence of any better creative plans.  Yet, the crux of the matter is this: if fans sense the directionlessness, if there are weaknesses in presentation or a lack of concern for the protagonist (and god bless her, Linda may be great at many things, but generating fan sympathy is not one of them), then the idea that this abominable behavior from Bischoff will affect fan reaction to him is way off base.
    There's also my stand-by... the old "Reasonable Man" principle.  Now, it doesn't have to be applied too stringently, as there is a certainly level of suspension of disbelief that one must maintain to enjoy wrestling.  But ultimately, the sorts of evil behavior and valiant responses should be reasonable and in-character.  They are so much more compelling that way.  Thus, we consider Eric Bischoff breaking into his boss' house to rape his boss' wife.  This is stupid, crazy evil... not reasonable evil.  Eric Bischoff, neither the man nor the character, would look at that action and think anything good could come off it.  He'd look at it and think, "Well, that'd probably just get me arrested.  And fired."  For Bischoff's actions to be compelling, I'd rather see him doing things a smart, savvy, conniving business man would do.  Not something an escaped mental patient on a soap opera would do.
    Also:  the camera was RIGHT THERE.  How retarded does Bischoff have to be to go through with this?  The camera was there because Linda was being interviewed.  OK, nice work, Creative Team, for giving us a reason to have a camera where one should not normally be.  But then, for the purposes of our little skit, the camera goes away.  It disappears, becomes our invisible window into the world of Bischoff and Linda.  Our once realistic via-satellite interview, over the course of a commercial break, morphs into a melodrama in which we watch as passive observers, through the fourth wall.  But then we come full circle again, as obviously the camera WAS there, beaming then entire painful episode back to us.  It wasn't just us as home viewers enjoying a piece of entertainment, worrying not about how and why a camera was in the middle of Bischoff's attempted sexual assault.  It was Shane McMahon obviously watching the whole thing play out on a monitor, and reacting to it (and again, not in a very Reasonable Way, if you catch my drift... but that's not a tangent I feel like exploring now).  None of this occurred to me in "real time" as I watched... but it also didn't take me long after the show ended to put my finger on exactly what inconsistencies had rendered that skit so off-putting.  Very frustrating.
    But you know what?  Even with all that said, I found the nugget of goodness in the whole mess.  It was lost among Bischoff's clumsy come-ons and Linda's unconvincing defiance, but it was there.  They gave us a very good reason for why Bischoff hates Shane, and why he celebrated the way he did two weeks ago after his RAW win.  Bischoff built up WCW from nothing, turned it into an industry leader, then watched as others presided over its demise, and ultimately was a bystander when Shane McMahon swooped in and took control as part of WWE's buy-out.  The image of WCW going from kicking RAW's ass to being a "graduation present" for Shane was a cool one, and effectively summed up the core issue between Shane and Bischoff.  If only they could have clarified that sooner (rather than vague mentions by announcers of how those two never liked each other), or if they could have found a less hideous setting in which to present the idea on Monday....
    As bad as it was, that skit still contained a neat storyline element... and even if it didn't, it was still only comprised about 5 minutes of a two hour broadcast.  There was other stuff to consider.  Some of it was also bad (the Rosey/Hurricane "Earlier Today" sketch might even have been MORE annoying to me than Bischoff/Linda because all that did was blatantly steal jokes that were already of dubious value when originally performed and handed them to less gifted performers; Ben Stiller Rosey is not... and god, do we need the lame-ass sound effects EVERYwhere with those two?),  but there was also good to be found.
    Probably my favorite stuff was the interaction between HHH, Goldberg, Jericho, Michaels, Orton, and Nash.  The opening Highlight Reel set the tone, with nice segues that created more cross-rivalry hostilities.  Goldberg spearing Nash not only might have played a role in the Nash/Jericho match (which, despite Jericho's antics, was devoid of run-ins and schmozz-ish elements), but also factored in to the post-match shenanigans to the Goldberg/Orton main event.  Nash's buddy, Michaels, helped Goldberg beat Orton, but then Nash attacked Goldberg as retribution for earlier in the night.  Then you had Michaels superkicking HHH, then Jericho chairshotting Michaels... all very chaotic and fun to end the show.  And really effective work putting all six guys into a series of segments throughout the show that really all fit together in the end.  If you were nodding your head in agreement a few paragraphs ago when I was railing Bischoff/Linda, then I hope you also take a moment to pause to think how well-crafted the segments with these six were.  I honestly can't imagine any better way to have handled it.
    It doesn't do any good to brag now, but just believe me when I say that I saw the shocking La Resistance Swerve coming a mile away.  And it does nothing to make me more interested in La Resistance vs. the Dudleys; if anything, it makes me worry that now, La Resistance will retain at SummerSlam via the Numbers Game, and this feud will drag on another month until the Duds can get a Tables Match at the RAW-only PPV.  FYI: the new La Resistance guy is Rob Conway, long-time WWE developmental worker.  He's not French, and I don't know if he can do an accent or not.  Man alive, I just said on Monday how cool it would be to add Pierre as a third member (or manager/mentor) of La Resistance... but instead, I assume we're getting the Disgruntled American gimmick?  I don't know....  if they were gonna do that, they should have had the new guy be a stinking hippie sympathetic to La Resistance.  We'll see if this is enough to make the Frenchies anything other than a one-note song.
    Duds/La Resistance is on the PPV.  It is looking like, even though I'd probably rather see it, a women's match with Molly, Trish, and Gail is not.  Molly and Trish had a nice match on Monday, and Gail's interference lent a welcome twist to the storyline side.... maybe they get a slot on Heat? 
    Other quick, random thoughts:  RVD/Christian was a good wrestling match, but the stuff with RVD and Kane?  Well let's just say Jeb nailed it there, too: Kane's logic was sorry enough to blow up Harry Mudd's entire PLANET of androids.  When they do the history package for Sunday night, here's hoping they focus on the cool stuff (like that "Holy Shit" plancha/chairshot spot) and leave that backstage nonsense on the shelf...  Storm and Goldust were funny again this week, but why no follow-up?  They do 30 seconds, Storm gets sent into the women's locker room, and then nothing?  The two are funny together, and I hope they stick with it; so of course, watch as next week, Storm attacks Goldust because his suggestion this week resulted in a sexual harassment lawsuit or something dumb like that....  Stacy is back with Test, and I think this offers up the superior storyline possibilities; of course, as I say that, I was NOT thinking along the lines of the mind-boggling skit they did in which Test was joined by the pussy-whipped Steven Richards and the ostensibly-gay Rico to watch Stacy dance....  
    I don't know what else to say: when RAW was bad this week, it was very bad.  But when it was good, it was very good.  That sort of inconsistency is very frustrating... to have a taste of quality entertainment in one segment washed away by ill-conceived tripe five minutes later... man, it's enough to drive a man to drink.  Or at least to rant about RAW for a good 33% longer than he usually does.
    So enough.  
  • Still no final word on RAW's rating as I write this on Wednesday in the early afternoon.  I'm assuming that black-out related backlogs of work have caused the delay...
    Along those lines, final ratings for last Thursday night have been released.  SmackDown! drew a 3.5 broadcast rating, which is actually up a bit over recent averages.  How, with several major northeast markets blacked-out, did SD!'s rating go up?  Simple....  Nielsen cooked the numbers.
    One ratings point, to put it most simply, equals exactly one percent of all the TV households in the United States.  You do a 3.5 rating, and that means that 3.5% of all households that own a TV were watching your show.  What Nielsen did for last Thursday (and Friday, in some markets) was to recalculate the total number of TV households, eliminating New York City, Cleveland, Detroit, and others based on the black-outs.
    So this week's 3.5 rating for SD! does not equal the roughly 3.7 million TV households that it normally does.  I'm not even really sure what Nielsen's TV universe for Thursday was, but I'd guess it could have been as much as 10-15% smaller than usual.
  • Some confirmation about Kevin Nash and his new 'do...  he is playing the role of "Tombstone" in the new Marvel Comics movie adaptation of "The Punisher," and the hair had to go.  And go blond.

    Apparently, Tombstone is an albino, so the hair had to be blond.  But also apparently, he's supposed to be an albino black man.  As one person on the OO Message Boards quipped, wouldn't that have made Rodney Mack the better choice over Nash?
    "The Punisher" has just started production and is expected to be released next summer.  Nash's role is a relatively minor one, and my understanding is that it shouldn't affect his WWE schedule (which seems to consist of working about 3 out of every 4 Monday nights... and also 2 Sundays every 3 months).
  • Nash's schedule probably eliminates him as a viable option to win the World Title on Sunday's PPV... the thinking is that with house show business down, the Fed cannot afford to have a champion who doesn't work a full schedule and help them sell tickets.  If true, this would also put the kibosh on Michaels or Goldberg as options.  And I think I can speak for the concept of Common Sense when I say that Randy Orton, full schedule or no, is simply not ready to hold a singles title.  At least, not the big one.
    That would seem to leave Triple H and Chris Jericho... and as luck would have it, WWE has started promoting house shows for September, and the main event?  You guessed it, HHH vs. Jericho for the World Title.  Well, maybe you didn't guess it, as it does sort of suggest that one guy or the other will have to turn.  Or maybe not; it's not outlandish to think that Jericho is charismatic enough to pull off working as a fan favorite even if he's presented largely as a heel on TV.  A good part of the crowd is cheering for him every night, anyway...  and HHH, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, is always capable of tweaking a few things to put himself in the fan favorite position, too.
    Then again, house show cards are always Subject to Change.  Trying to divine future TV storylines from next month's house show cards (such as the Zach Gowen/Matt Hardy and Goldust/Lance Storm rumors a few weeks ago) is probably a pointless exercise.
    Kind of fun, yes.  But probably pointless.  I'd rather consult the promotion for next month's RAW PPV than that for random house shows, if I was gonna be making guesses about SummerSlam.  You know, the promotion that says HHH/Goldberg is the next PPV's main event....
  • New York City, if you want to catch last week's SD!, you can do so tonight at midnight on your UPN affiliate (I do believe it is Channel 9).  They're just sneaking it in in time so that you don't miss anything before tomorrow night's fresh SD!.  
    FYI: Spoilers are right here if you need them.
  • One "spoiler-ish" item that I will report here, since it's only for the international edition of Heat....  Mark Henry is back on the TV roster, and has been introduced as Teddy Long's newest client.  I'd expected Chris Nowinski back in action as Rodney Mack's partner, but it looks like it'll be Henry and Mack getting to feud with Hurricane and S.H.I.T.
  • Wrestling fans in NYC get some late night viewing of interest tonight.... but the rest of us will get some on Thursday night (early Friday).  The Undertaker will be a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel show.  When Kimmel has wrestlers, there's usually some chicanery involving his cousin Sal and a pillow fight.  Seeing Taker subjected to that nonsense may well be worth staying up late!
  • Amazing Red, a TNA and ROH regular, may be out of action for a while.  He'd already missed a few indie dates, and worked a few others with a nagging knee injury...  but during a tour of Japan this week, he completely blew out the knee.  An exact prognosis won't be known till he gets back to the States, but I guess the thinking is that surgery and a long lay-off are real possibilities.
  • And that's as good a segue as any to briefly talk about tonight's TNA PPV....
    To me, it's looking like a show that'll either rule or which will disappoint.  That's because the centerpiece of the show is a brand new gimmick match, and I'm not sure if it's a really cool idea, or something that'll be awkward and implausible in execution.
    Here's the idea.  The X Title will be suspended above the ring, on a pair of cables strung 15 feet in the air from poles placed on each turnbuckle.  The cables will form an "X" over the ring, with the Title placed directly in the center.  The first man to grab the title will be the X Division Champion.  The catch: as I understand it, there will be no ladders allowed, meaning that the only way to win the match is to climb the pole and then somehow shimmy your way across the cable to grab the title.
    The match is called the "Ultimate X" and is the brainchild of Don "Cyrus" Callis, and will pit champ Chris Sabin against challengers Michael Shane and Frankie Kazarian.  I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it, but if they can find a way to use the gimmick really creatively, this could be sweet.  But if they just ignore it for the most part until it's time for someone to do a Tomb Raider-style trek across the cables, then it'll just be your typical X Division match with a new name.  Worst case scenario: they TRY to a bunch of fancy spots, but they come off unrealistically or are outright botched because of unfamiliarity with the gimmick.  It could go any which way.
    There are two other matches of note, though, which could take the pressure off the Ultimate X Match:  first is Jeff Jarrett and Erik Watts teaming up to taking on Christopher Daniels and Joe E. Legend.  Jarrett and Daniels' feud is rapidly becoming one of TNA's best, and this will be the first official in-ring showdown between the two.  Also, there is a "Lucky 13" Gauntlet match, in which 13 top contenders will compete to be named the new #1 contender to AJ Styles NWA Title.  No names were released, but you've gotta assume your Ravens, Shane Douglasses, D'Lo Browns, Ron Killings, Konnans, and so on and so forth will be the key players.
    Could be a show worth checking out.  Hopefully, Damian Gonzalez will have his power outage issues solved and will be able to recap this week's show for us in case you miss it.
  • That's all today.  See you Friday with a SummerSlam PPV preview and, if applicable, a few other brief news items! 


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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