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RAW, Ratings, HHH, WM Tickets, TNA,
Another Wedding Present for CRZ?, More
September 24, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Yankees clinch!  And for the seventh or eighth October in a row, I know I'll still be caring about baseball even after I have to fire up the furnace for the first time!  No thanks to the Reds...

Note to Barry Larkin:  I love you in a manly way, but seriously, if you (or maybe this is all your douchebag agent?) think some other team's really gonna pay you more than about a million bucks next season, then either (a) you're off your rockers or (b) this hypothetical team is being run by monkeys with a license to print money.  [Please, as easy as some of you might find it to be, do not consider that last line an invitation to make a Yankees joke.]

And thus ends today's Baseball Onslaught:

  • The rating for Monday's RAW was a 3.6.  That's down one-tenth from the week before and identical to the number drawn two weeks ago.  So since the start of Monday Night Football, basically, RAW's been very consistent.  Unfortunately, it's been at a level that pretty much marks a three month low.
    WWE did not even enjoy the traditional post-PPV bump in ratings.  Instead, the start of the new fall season more than offset whatever interest the PPV may have generated.
  • Making that news doubly disappointing is the fact that this was a RAW that, for the first time in well over a month, basically did everything right.  Hyped as the "start of a new era," Monday's show, if nothing else, got said era off on the right foot.
    With the return of Announcer Wars slated for next week, the New Era may not be worthy of the title "The Suck-Free Era" for long... but the really important distinction is that Monday was the start of the Goldberg Era.  Things WILL be different, if for no other reason than the man on top is a new one.
    Just to echo some of the thoughts I already touched upon in yesterday's RAW Recap: I thought the Goldberg Era got just about as effective a launch as was possible.  In the opening segment, Austin showed up and basically did Goldberg's talking for him.  Far from scooping Goldberg's heat, this seemed to me an honest attempt to take Austin's strength behind the mic and use that to mask Goldberg's deficiencies there.  Goldberg: little to no pop for his punchline "Believe the Hype."  Austin: huge pop for "I'll drink to that."  These are little things that will help Goldberg in the long run, that will get the fans more into him for the next time he talks.
    Also, I can't re-iterate enough how much I enjoyed the women's tag match.  You might think I'm overstating how good it was in some sort of chivalric attempt to over-compensate for the way Jerry Lawler has undercut the women's division by convincing fans those matches are just an excuse to chant "We want puppies."  But it's not.  Trish/Lita vs. Molly/Gail featured in-ring work that was probably the second most exciting of the night (here, RVD/Christian was tops), and had a flow and psychology that might even have been the very best (stiffest competition from the short-but-well-crafted Jericho/Goldberg main event).  It deserves this praise.
    I know Lawler's absence had little to do with how well the match went over.  Him being gone for one night did not instantly shift fans perceptions.  More likely, I'm thinking that Lita's comeback is what has reminded the fans that women's MATCHES are just as worthy of attention as their wardrobes.  But with Lawler's return seemingly imminent, I hope someone has the good sense to ask him to put his own personal idea of what women should be doing in the wrestling business aside and just do his damn job.  Lawler's long said that he does not like seeing women get physical, having real wrestling matches, that it's just not his thing.  Fine, Jerry: I actually think you've got a good percentage of fans on your side (some of them are my colleagues right here at OO).  But I'm of a different mindset, one that I think ALSO is well-represented among the at-large fan base...  I'm a sucker for watching a chick actively participating in my own personal hobbies, especially when she does it well.  Girls who have wrestling matches, or play guitar, or match me drink for drink... these are things that just strike me as really cool; in their ways, even cooler than when guys are doing it.  Lawler's got to realize that fans like this, who WILL get into a women's match, do exist.  And further: the most important part of his job is not to bludgeon us with his own beliefs, but rather to put the product over as best he can.  And to me, that means taking a more serious approach to women's matches when he comes back in an effort to influence an important third set of fans:  the "swing" voters who will go the "puppies" route if its presented but who could, nay SHOULD, become fans of women's wrestling if only the presentation was not so juvenile.
    Dammit, I didn't mean to write such long shit just there... but you get my point.  Mark Henry, La Resistance, even Evolution all got beat by girls last night.  I'm just trying to be an advocate so that the chances of that happening again are not eliminated as soon as the King comes back.
    Almost everything else I had to say about RAW got said yesterday.  So just read it there, if you want.  It was, on the whole, a really good effort.
  • One of the more intriguing elements of RAW was Triple H's ominous statement about how the fans need him more than he needs us.  It came out of nowhere, as just an hour earlier, HHH was on the stick insisting on getting his rematch against Goldberg.
    Well, there is now officially a buzz that HHH may have made his last WWE appearance for about 2 months.  A month ago, if I'd said that, you'd have been well within your rights to just nod your head and say, "Well, duh, Scaia."  At one point 4-5 weeks ago, I was even suggesting that Goldberg's then-recent statements about wanting to end HHH's career would be a perfect way to set up HHH's necessary absence.
    But then, HHH shows up on house show cards, he walks out of Unforgiven without any sort of massive career-ending injury, and even goes out the next night on RAW to demand his rematch.  To me, hearing now that HHH actually IS taking his time off (to get healthy, to get married, and to play a small part in the next "Blade" sequel) is a bit of a shock.  The timing and the exit plan just could not be worse.
    Instead of making his disappearance something that makes another talent (in my scenario, Goldberg would have crushed him) look stronger, just walking away now is nothing but a self-serving move that bolsters his own character without helping anyone around him.  I saw his "you need me" speech on Monday as the START of something, a three week arc that would have ended with him going away amidst a compelling storyline.  Maybe it could have been an excuse to move him off RAW and to SD! (or to move Steph from SD! to RAW, or something, to get them back together again)...  or in its simplest form, just the start of a breakdown for HHH, leading to his "Free Per View" rematch against Goldberg in which he can't get it together enough to get the win, which THEN directly leads to his absence.
    Having that speech be the entirety of the HHH Disappearance Angle is substantially less intriguing.
    Now, I'm not gonna get into a whole big thing here, because there remain other sources who say that HHH intends to remain active for WWE through the Oct. 13 or 20 edition of RAW.  That jibes with Stephanie's apparent plans for how long she'll be active before being written out, too, and would be perfectly timed to allow HHH to give Goldberg a second win to get his reign launched the right way.  I'll cool my jets till next week's RAW gives us some indication....
  • OK, you've been pestering me for this for about a week now, and I have your answer.  
    Fans looking to get WrestleMania 20 tickets can participate in a special pre-sale that begins Friday morning at 9am (eastern).  That's 24 hours before tickets go on sale to the general public.  You do, however, need a password to join in the pre-sale.
    The password for regular WM20 tickets is "BOBTONI" (there is a maximum of six tickets per order, with prices ranging from $750 for ringside down to I think about $80 for the cheapest seats).  There is also a "Backstage Access" package that they are selling; I have no idea what additional features this includes (possibly a fan fest of some kind?), but if you decide to opt for it, you need to use the password "BAWWE."  Thanks to the half-dozen or so faithful WWE mailing list members who passed along the main password, and also to "c-lo" for the Backstage Access one.
    Bookmark this page, and then return there promptly at 9am on Friday to use your password(s), if you want to get the best tickets.  Good luck, kids!
  • Spoilers from both Heat and SmackDown! tapings are available right here for your enjoyment.  SD! looks to be a more story-heavy show than last week's very-well-received edition, but that's only logical, since they've now got a PPV in three weeks.  Two matches (including the main event) for the PPV were announced, and one more seems a virtual lock.
    Also: Tajiri/Rey was called the Match of the Week by one reporter.  So it's not like they ain't still dancing with what brung 'em.
    One non-spoiler note from the Heat/RAW tapings: Coach was over as a heel with the fans, but the DC crowd was cheering for Al Snow (no matter what he tried to do to sway them).  If I thought Coach and Al had a shelf-life longer than next week, I'd suggest using that to have Al take a more adversarial role with Coach so that their heel tangents don't spiral into self-serving crap as often as they did on Monday.
    Al's chances on the RAW A-team may be evaporating, but WWE is apparently ready to offer him a contract extension.  Since Al's duties have swung heavily towards announcing and training, the extension is contingent on Al moving from Lima, OH, to Connecticut, so that WWE can save on flying him around to do commentary and voice-over work.
  • A reminder: the Rock is on Letterman tonight, which should be pretty cool.  Dave was already joking last night about having the Rock on as a guest on the same night as he's got Dick Cheney's wife on...  also, Rock's first Letterman appearance was a lot of fun, with old-timey wrestling talk and more.  So it should be pretty cool tonight.
    Then Regis tomorrow morning and Conan on Friday.  And Leno on Monday.  But by then, you should have had your fill of the Rock.  And plus, Leno sucks.  How about a shot with the Emmy-winning Jon Stewart?
  • On the heels of minor knee surgery for Shelton Benjamin, there is now talk that Brock Lesnar probably needs the same procedure.  For the time being, he's working through some discomfort in hopes that he'll be granted a storyline opening to take 3 or so weeks off to get it scoped by the end of the year.
    Also: one reader heard a recent Lesnar interview in which Brock said he was also feeling some neck pain, something that has lingered since WM's ill-fated Shooting Star, but which has gotten a bit worse lately.  Uh oh.
  • Speaking of bad necks: CRZ's favorite wrestler, Steve Blackman, has been out of action for almost 2 years due to a neck condition.  But the central Pennsylvania native was backstage at Unforgiven this weekend, and was interviewed by WWE.com.
    He talked about possibly getting the same procedure Kurt Angle had done in April, which SHOULD allow him to make a return.  It was not for certain, but Blackman seemed to be leaning towards it, possibly within the next two months.  Throw a 6-8 week recovery time on the end of that and then a quick rehab assignment in OVW, and he could be back in action sometime early next year.
    Blackman was certainly under-rated as a worker, though sadly, he was also under-charisma-ed.  He could still make somebody a decent tag partner, though, if he goes through with this...
  • The final word on Lita's bloody mouth at the PPV: that was caused by her biting her tongue on the spot where she was yanked off the apron by Molly.  She also chipped a tooth and bruised her chin, but is basically OK.  It looked worse than it really was, I guess.
  • Finally today: the rundown for tonight's TNA PPV...
    Actually, so far as I've heard, there is not a whole lot set in stone.  The main storylines -- Raven vs. the New Church/Vampiro and Jarrett vs. Daniels -- are previewed only by mentioning that those players will all be present tonight.  Jarrett, apparently, will be interviewed/confronted by Don Callis, so that is one segment you can count on.
    Also: champ AJ Styles has the week off of working, though he will do a promo with Dusty Rhodes.
    Tonight looks to be Three Live Kru's big chance to break out; after months of vignettes of highly variable entertainment value, Konnan, Ron Killings, and Brian "Road Dogg" James will debut a hit single with a live performance tonight, and then the three were SUPPOSED to  wrestle against tag champs Simon/Swinger and Glen Gilberti in what was projected as the main event.  But Swinger is out with (I think) appendicitis, and who knows what they'll do now.
    Also:  Roddy Piper will be "live on tape" with an interview taped last week with Mike Tenay...  Kid Kash will face Terry Taylor...  and Juventud Guerrera, Jerry Lynn, Chris Sabin, Frankie Kanzarian, and Noswa will all battle in an elmination match to determine a new #1 Contender to the X Division Title.  It does not shape up as one of TNA's strongest on-paper line-ups, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
    Check out TNA tonight on PPV... or come on back to OO for Damian Gonzalez's full report later in the week.
  • I'm out.  I'll dig something out for an OOld School column tomorrow; I was nice and gave Jeb the week off, what with him getting married and all, so I gotta come up with SOMEthing to fill space.  [Hey, did you remember to congratulate him?]
    Then I'll be back with a regular column on Friday, too.  No slacking off for me, since I'm not a big enough jerk to count on Erin being recovered enough from... well, I don't know if she wants to make a big deal out of it or not, so maybe I'll just leave it for her to explain.  Or to explain next week, if my suspicions are correct.
    See you later, gators....   


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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