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RAW, More on Kane, TNA, 
and Other Monday Material
September 8, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


How about something special to kick off the "before the column banter" section here, today?  Like a big time Congratulations to Denny Burkholder, who you might remember as the guy who wrote (writes?) "Circa" (see the left hand column!)... but who'll I'll always remember as the guy who made life writing for WrestleLine such a breeze back when he was a producer there.

The beauty part?  Denny's worked his way back to SportsLine following a hiatus, and even better, just last week, I heard from him that he's gotten engaged.  That sounds like a man who's got all his ducks in a row.  I couldn't be happier for him.  Everybody!  Raise your glass for Denny!

HA! That was a trick.  If you're boozing it up at 1 in the afternoon, you got problems, Pedro.  Put down that drink and get back to work.  Not until you finish reading the column today, though:

  • Tonight's RAW will come out of the gates fast: following a logic-free piece of ranting by Rob Van Dam last Monday, his steel cage match against Kane will kick off the show tonight.  Yeah, Rob, waiting two more hours after you already agreed to wait seven days... that would have been pure hell, dude!
    Anyway, the cage match between the two follows up on their stipulation-free match at the SummerSlam PPV two weeks ago, and comes as a little speed bump in the path of the now-raging Kane/Shane McMahon feud (on its way to a PPV climax in two more weeks).  I think what'll happen tonight should be sufficient to keep RVD out of the way for the next couple weeks, but might not be quite enough to totally blow-off the Kane/RVD feud.
    You see, I don't think they'll let this one finish up until they take advantage of Holy Shit opportunity presented by having Shane and RVD involved in the same angle: Stereo Van Terminators.  'Nuff said.  I guess that could happen tonight, but I hear the creative team got sick of listening to fans bitch about how Kane no-sold the flaming dumpster by appearing last week.  So they are requiring that Shane McMahon's jeans take AT LEAST one week off after they were brutally electrocuted.  Holy Shit Spot at the PPV, maybe?
    Speaking of electrocution: I'm going to repeat my good-god-do-I-ever-hope-I'm-wrong guess about the reasons for the cage stip...  because one week after playing with a car battery, they intend to have Kane electrify the cage with RVD attached.  I think this would be pure silliness, but it's that unique brand of silliness that the RAW creative team has displayed the last few weeks, so I put nothing past them.  To me, having Kane continue to play with electricity sets an awful precedent, and so I've been desperately putting my theory out there for the past week in the hopes that if WWE realizes it won't shock (ha! get it?) and surprise viewers, they won't bother continuing down this path...
    Bottom line: Kane and RVD have been at odds (sometimes retarded odds, but odds nonetheless) for months, and have the ability to put on an absolutely kick-ass cage match.  If they are hampered by a stupid finish/angle, all that could be very easily forgotten, however.  But I'm crossing my fingers, and once again admit to that naive confidence that permeates my being leading up to rasslin' shows...  "This one will be a good one," I always think.  Otherwise, why would I watch?  Kane and RVD are more than capable of stealing the show; I hope they get to do so.
    After the cage match, things get murky.  One key story: Goldberg vs. Triple H.  Those guys are in a Catch-22.  On one hand, the best way to build up the feud would be to have them getting physical week in and week out (HHH, as the champ, has not had a strong showing on a Monday night in about 6 weeks due to his injury).  But on the other, if HHH gets physical to help build up the PPV match, he runs the very real risk of aggravating his groin injury to the point that he can't have a quality PPV match.  So again this week, they'll try to find the balance point between protecting Triple H and pushing the feud with Goldberg as hard and as fast as possible.  On the plus side, HHH always has Evolution as his back-up (and Batista is closer than ever to returning, as well), so he doesn't necessarily have to do all the dirty work himself.
    Sadly, another key story at this point is the Announcer Feud between Jim Ross and Jonathan Coachman.  You know, if you're gonna do a Sports Entertainment Segment between two non-workers, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that 80% of your audience would prefer some flimsy excuse to see Terri vs. Stacy.  And even then... on PPV?  Maybe not.  JR and Coach's battles have a lot of promise, but only when conducted behind the headset/microphone.  Inside the ring, neither one has had even one remotely good/convincing outing.  And yet, for two more weeks, it seems they'll be dueling on the mics (in relatively entertaining fashion) to set up a PPV match that can do nothing but disappoint.  Unless you're REALLY excited by the prospect of a couple of run-ins leading to yet another Stone Cold Stunner for Eric Bischoff, that is. 
    What else we got tonight?
    It's a make-or-break night for Chris Jericho and Christian; their match last week came out of thin air, but also seemed to leave the door open for continued hostilities.  Was that the start of a Jericho face turn?  Or just some last-second shit through together to eat up 10 minutes of time last week?  We'll see...  neither guy's got anything better to do, so a PPV IC Title match might be a cool thing; but you gotta wonder if they're really pulling the trigger on Jericho turning, or not.  That's a big move.
    The tag title situation is a lot clearer: we are obviously headed to another Dudleys vs. La Resistance showdown, and like I mentioned a month ago, this time, it'll probably be done as a Tables Match.  Yee haw.  And then what for La Resistance?  By dragging it out this long, all they've accomplished is ALSO making sure that Rob Conway fades off the radar at the same time as Dupree and Grenier....
    Women's title is held by Molly, but coveted (openly) by Trish and probably coveted (secretly) by Molly's partner-of-convenience, Gail Kim.  Molly and Gail thrashed Trish and Ivory last week, and everytime the heels have a strong week like that in the women's division, one's mind immediately races to the prospect of Lita making her return soon to even the odds.  Except that Jazz is also ready to return, and actually THAT would even the odds at 3 ladies per side.  Except they probably don't count Ivory.  Nobody ever counts Ivory.  Whatever happened to Ivory having Jazz's number for about a month straight back in May?  Nothing, that's what.
    And: Hopefully, Lance Storm and Goldust will be back on TV this week.  How RAW -- which so obviously wants to be the "entertainment" in the "Sports Entertainment" equation -- could leave the two guys best equipped to provide some comic relief off the show last week is beyond me....  
    There's probably a lot of other stuff that'll happen tonight, too.  Hey, it IS a two hour show!  But why not just tune in and see it for yourself?  Or, failing that, come on back here tomorrow for the full Recap and Satire treatment.
  • Final rating for last week's SmackDown! came in at a 3.5, which ties an 8-week high for SD! and is just one-tenth of a point short of the show's best rating since June 1.  The 3.5 is almost a full-point rebound from the previous week (when SD! was pre-empted in about a dozen markets, resulting in an anomalously low rating).
    The 3.5 broadcast rating for SD!, along with the 4.3 cable rating (which averages out to just about exactly a 3.5 broadcast rating, FYI) for RAW, means that last week was only the second time in the last three months that both WWE brands combined for more than 7 million households in the same week.  I'm glad those who tuned in got at least one awesome show.
    Ha!  Just kidding.  Kind of.  I actually do have some back-up for my mocking of RAW, courtesy of the final results from last week's weather-delayed Battle of the Brands.  Doesn't sound like anyone else got QUITE as pissy as I did about RAW (sidebar: last I checked on a poll on the OO Forums, it was running about 50/50 on the issue of whether or not I over-reacted to Kane/Shane, so I am not surprised), but they still gave the win to SmackDown!, just like me.
  • For whatever it's worth, the jump in SD!'s rating to a two-month high came DESPITE the Thursday night debut of NFL regular season football on ABC.  The heavily hyped event (which apparently featured two professional football teams doing SOMEthing at some point in between all the glitz and the hype and the Britney Spears.... but the commercials I saw were foggy on precisely what) scored big numbers and helped ABC win the night on Thursday.
    Now, the conventional thinking is that football on ABC (usually in the guise of Monday Night Football) is a direct competitor for the young adult male viewers who comprise a lot of wrestling's viewership.  The showing by SD! on Thursday may show that wrestling's fandom is down to a more or less "bullet-proof" core...
    Then again, there's no doubt in my mind that the reason the Fed has gone to such lengths to promote Kane vs. RVD as the opening match on tonight's show is because they know the debut of Monday Night Football presents the threat to RAW's audience.  They want fans show up early and stay with RAW.
  • It is not too early to start mentioning that on Wednesday night, you really should set aside two hours for NWA-TNA's One Cent Extravaganza.  Even if it was gonna suck, it's one penny, people!
    And it doesn't look like it's gonna suck.  Now, it's also not looking like a wrestling purist's idea of TNA's best foot forward, by they are clearly doing a balancing act.  On one hand, they want to put some of their best matches on this broadcast to show you what their roster is capable of.  But on the other, they also (rightfully) see this as a tool to push the importance of TNA, their workers, and their titles.
    So it has come to pass that on the announced "set list" of greatest hits to be presented this Wednesday night, it looks like they will be telling primarily two stories:  that of NWA Title and that of the tag team division.
    The story of the NWA Title will include highlights of the seminal Gauntlet for the Gold, Jeff Jarrett's title win over Ron Killings, Jarrett's successful defenses against Raven and AJ Styles, and then of the JJ/AJ/Raven three-way that saw Styles win the belt.  In most cases, these were "important" matches more than they were memorably good ones, though the latter three were pretty exciting, as well.  
    The tag title arc might as well be called America's Most Wanted's Greatest Hits: they've got three matches on the show, two against Triple X (including that awesome cage match) and one against the New Church.
    And then, you've got the miscellaneous pile: actually, of the three remaining matches, two tell the tale of D'Lo Brown and AJ Styles (first they were a tag team, and will be featured taking on Triple X... and then they face each other one-on-one with an NWA Title shot on the line in a later match)...  the final match is the closest we come to glimpsing the X Division (which has been responsible for most of TNA's really outstanding matches), as Jerry Lynn and Amazing Red team up to face Triple X.  
    I didn't realize it, but man alive.... if you like AJ Styles or Elix Skipper, this sure looks like a PPV for you!
    I'll mention it again on Wednesday.  For now, I'll also mention that replays of LAST week's tremendous TNA show (at the full $10, alas) are still on-going, and would also be well worth your time.  You can look for one of four remaining showings: tonight (early Tuesday) at 2:30am, Tuesday afternoon at 2pm, late Tues./early Wed. at 4:30am, and Wednesday evening at 6pm leading directly up to the One Cent show at 8pm.  All times are eastern.
  • Kevin Nash will be available to WWE again starting NEXT Monday; his short fimiling schedule for "The Punisher" is wrapping up.  Apparently, Nash said in a radio interview next week that when he comes back, he'd like to continue feuding with Chris Jericho...
    Now, you might hear that and think it means the tease last week of a Jericho face turn is completely out the window...  except that my understanding is that Nash was just thinking out loud (not giving away future storylines, at least not on purpose).  And also: who's to say Nash couldn't go heel upon returning?
    Of course, this is again my naive optimism shining through.  Last week, in the depths of my post-RAW despair, I was pretty clear in my belief that the Fed had absolutely no long term plan in place for Jericho.  To sit here today and tell you, "Hey, maybe they don't only have a long term plan for Jericho to go face, but they've ALSO got one for Nash to go heel"... well, sure I feel a bit hypocritical.  But it's a different day.  And I'm in a different mood.
  • I mentioned above that it was unconscionable of WWE to keep Goldust and Lance Storm off TV for a week... well, that wasn't exactly true.  The two made an unexpected appearance on "Confidential," filling in for Coach, or whoever usually hosts the Q&A segment.  Storm was the "host" and Goldust provided constructive criticism... Al Snow was the guest/target.
    All I will say is: "hilarity ensued."  As evidence, I will paraphrase this exchange....
    Storm: "Question #6: Who came up with the idea for head?"
    Snow: "Actually, it was an ECW show in New Britain, CT, when Mikey Whipwreck and Spike Dudley first gave me Head."
    Storm: "Really?"
    Snow: "Yeah, it was good.  Helped my career."
    Now see, that's the kind of comedy that sound effects and cat assassinations will NEVER be able to match!
    Since I DVR'ed it and watched the whole thing yesterday, let me also mention that the rest of "Confidential" featured an amazing example of the principle of Conservation of Karmic Energy.  The Fed opened the hour by making up for a decade of open hostility with a segment acknowledging "Superstar" Billy Graham and his contributions to the industry (despite being a self-admitted horrible in-ring worker, Graham really did set the bar for flamboyant talkers in the 70s, and was directly ripped off by the likes of Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan... the Fed mercifully ignored the fact that Scott Steiner has also tried to emulate Graham, but with much less impressive results).  That good karma was completely erased later on in the hour, however, when the Fed went into the vaults to showcase the Montreal Screwjob (and how odd is it to hear even WWE's corporate voice overs call it that?); completely ignored was the killer 20 minute match Michaels and Hart had that night, cuz the focus was 100% on the finish and then Bret's little hissy fit afterwards.  Really nice, WWE.  Very classy.
    Also: there's more with Graham next week, which I'd say would be cool, except that I know it'll be the story of his downward spiral and I'm sure that won't be the happiest of TV...  Ivory did something where she showed up and acted out scripts written by elementary school kids, and made it look like she had the time of her life (so sue me, I'd be looking for the nearest bottle of whiskey to render THAT particular assignment tolerable)...  the Diva Search winner (whose name I couldn't remember after her 20 second cameo at SummerSlam) is Jamie Koeppe; see how easily I remember her name after I get a good look at that award-worthy backside?.... and Dawn Marie recently did a photo shoot at the Jersey strip club that doubles for the "Badda Bing Club" on "The Sopranos".  On the whole, not nearly as spectacular a waste of time as "Confidential" is some weeks; the Graham stuff and Storm/Goldust/Snow were worth the price of admission, alone....
  • Last for today, a quick reprise of my Glen "Kane" Jacobs piece from Friday...  as expected, a bunch of responses hit me over the weekend, and have spurred me to want to clarify a few things.
    First: the most common note I got was along the lines of "You know, Glen Jacobs actually debuted with the WWF earlier than you said."  Everybody apparently thinks that Jacobs was the Black Knight at Survivor Series '93 (teaming with Shawn Michaels against the Hart Family).  All I can say is this: I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that two of the Knights were Greg Valentine (blue, I think) and Barry Horowitz (red, I guess).  That was patently obvious to me even as I watched the show.  At the time, nobody was sure who the Black Knight was; over time, two possibilities surfaced.  It was either Jeff Gaylord (a known indie worker thought to be under consideration by the WWF) or some guy named Glen Jacobs.  For me, personally, once Jacobs did show up on WWF TV, I decided, myself, that he was NOT the Black Knight.  The Black Knight, from what I remember, was maybe 6'4", which is a better fit for the Jeff Gaylord guy.  So for my purposes, I went ahead and called Isaac Yankem Jacobs' debut gimmick.  Even if that's not precisely true, I don't see that the Black Knight much undermines any of my theory about how Glen Jacobs is a guy who has had plenty of reason to be pissy about his character(s) but who has remained commendably loyal and trouble-free backstage.
    One mistake that I must cop to, however: Jacobs' return to USWA did not come after "Isaac Yankem."  It came following the Fake Diesel run...  Jacobs and Rick Bogner first took their act to Mexico as Diesel and Razor, and then, by mid 1997, they were both in USWA.  It was, in fact, during this period that Jacobs reprised his gimmick as "Doomsday" and won the USWA Title.  Not that I'm reminded of it, I do remember it being a deal where there were rumors that he was back as "Doomsday" so that he could get acclimated to working under the mask before debuting as Kane.  I'm sorry if I got off with the time table.  But again, I don't think it dents my main thesis.
    Beyond those corrections, I was heartened to see a lot of people agree with me.  It's not often that the internet gets behind the idea of a guy throwing around his backstage clout to improve his own standing, and I was worried that my call to disobedience would flop with you folks.  To assuage those of you did opine that the second Jacobs raises a stink, he'll immediately lose that institutional backing that has kept him a big star despite his many voyages down to the mid-card, let me assure you: I would not ask Glen Jacobs (or any worker) to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult.  But this is a unique case in which Jacobs has suddenly become more heavily vested than ever in this particular character, and in which I think he could reasonably take a more active role in the creation of that character.  
    My point was that this is an intelligent guy who MUST have ideas of his own... and that NOW is the time for him to share them.  Before, it was easy to hide behind the mask and wait to be "re-invented" every year or so.  But now, Jacobs is Kane and Kane is Jacobs.  Speaking up for what he thinks is right for the character won't bring the backstage gears to a halt; rather, I think it might be enough to put the kibosh on some of the nonsense and grease the wheels for Kane to actually emerge as a main event star.
    The ideal situation: no more car batteries, no more craptacular stunts.  Kane, in the next month, simply overpowers and destroys Rob Van Dam and Shane McMahon, and puts periods on the ends of those sentences.  And then, a month from now, lookie what we'll have: Goldberg as the babyface World Champion.  Goldberg, an unstoppable monster.  Unless...  that's right, Kane's even more monstrous and unstoppable.  He could and SHOULD be the only viable contender for Goldberg as we head to Survivor Series.
    But only if they cut the crap and turn this version of Kane into one who is worthy of our PPV dollars.  Instead of worthy of derisive chuckles when he does stupid shit like playing with jumper cables.
    Again, more of Just My Own Damned Opinion....
  • 'Tis all today.  See you Wednesday with Spoilers, ratings, and the other midweek news.


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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