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RAW/Ratings, TNA/Hogan, Foley/Hardy,
Piper/Jesse, and Some Solo Newsbites, Too
October 8, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Way to go, the Golden State!  For your sake -- and for the sake of the entire rest of the country that has now seen you set the precedent that "famous-but-cosmically-unqualified equals highly-electable-via-landslide" -- I hope that Ah-nold surrounds himself with competent, intelligent people who'll get shit done and done right for you.  Cuz he, himself, probably ain't gonna do a whole lot more than smile at the camera while spouting anachronistic 80s pop culture references.  Excelsior, California!

End Subtle Mocking (and trust, me, that WAS subtle compared to what I could have said).  Begin Wrestling Column:

  • I'm actually kind of surprised.  When I said a very few non-complimentary things about RAW last week, it got me a lot of pissy mail.  Well, not a ton, but more than a dozen people thought I was unfairly harsh of things like JR/Coach, even though I thought I made it clear the show, overall, as still OK.
    Well, this week, I go and pretty much crap on every part of the show that wasn't Jericho/Storm/Austin/Christian/RVD, and guess what?  All of one person has called me on it so far.  The majority are offering alternate ideas as to what went wrong, commiserating about the Kane/Shane skit and King's subsequent commentary, and that kind of thing.
    The lesson: wait until the majority of a show sucks before lobbing any criticism.  Right?  You tell me, you're the ones watchdogging me...
    I'm not gonna repeat myself from yesterday's RAW Recap, which outlined what I thought were the primary weaknesses of the show (Kane/Shane's limo wreck trying to turn a heel into a sympathetic character, King's incessant harping on the issue, and un-credible performers being asked to carry large tracts of the show), as well as the one huge bright spot (the great mid-show promo and match that served to spotlight Lance Storm).
    What I will do is give some airtime here to elements of the show that I glossed over in my attempt to generate a grand thesis...  for instance, having Scott Steiner verbally ream Stacy and then physically ream Spike Dudley were pretty good ideas for completing his heel turn; but the packaging was suspect.  I'm not sure what Bischoff added other than a bone to smarks who wanted to be reminded that Steiner used to dominate WCW, and cutting away for a fricking ambulance driving away sent the message that "this is not important."  I'm not adverse to using Bischoff somehow to make Steiner into a top singles heel at some point; but I'm not for just half-assing it, especially when the important thing for Steiner now will be teaming with Test for a few months.  RAW really needs a heel tag team.
    And then you've got the main event, which also kind of tore me.  It, too, was a deal that seemed very theoretically sound: feed a big, but disposable, man to Goldberg to make him look invincible.  But then, in practice, it turned out not so well.  Problem one: sending Rodney Mack away.  The 2-on-1 cheating was gonna be the key to giving the fans a reason to cheer against the heels, to make them ALMOST plausible opposition for Goldberg.  Without the numbers game, and without any effective build-up for Henry since he's come back, Mark's just a mid-carder with no realistic shot against Goldberg.  And this WAS your main event.  They needed the drama.  They could also have used a smoother, more exciting in-ring match, but that's another story.  You pretty much know what you're getting with Henry and Goldberg, and they did nothing to exceed those expectations.
    By the time they add Mack back in, it's for the end game, and the real excitement and drama is limited to about 90 seconds, and it seems quite clear that where it's heading is: (1) Goldberg/Michaels vs. Mack/Henry next week, and then (2) Michaels and Goldberg again miscommunicate and come to blows, and (3) at some point (maybe in two weeks), we get Goldberg vs. Michaels.  Again, here's a deal where I look at the idea on paper and say, "I like."  But if the execution is as off as it was on Monday, theory and practice will again not equal out.
    That's about enough on that subject, though...  like I said, my full grand unified field theory of RAW is all still available right here.
  • The rating for Monday's show: a 3.4 cable rating, down another single tenth of a point from the week before, and continuing RAW's sub-par performance over the course of the last month.
    This week, in addition to Monday Night Football pulling at RAW's core audience of young adult males, there was also the Red Sox/A's ALDS Game 5 which drew my attention more than once during RAW and which was certain to draw well in the WWE's northeastern/New England stronghold.  [Some reports even indicate that the Connecticut crowd live at RAW was rotating in and out to get updates on that game throughout the live show.]  Given the competition, a desperate person might suggest that only losing 0.1 is a moral victory of some kind.
    In truth, WWE's Monday ratings have averaged right around a 3.5 for the last five weeks (since MNF started).  For the three months prior to that, RAW was averaging closer a 4.0.  Granted, RAW's strong performances throughout July and August were the company's first consistent showings at and above 4.0 since around the time of WM18... but no matter how you slice it, losing that audience after fighting so hard to win them back is a bad sign.
    The 3.4 rating for this Monday's RAW is the lowest since March, when the Fed also did an anomalous 3.4 on the Monday immediately preceding WrestleMania (they had averaged a 4.1 for the previous month, on the strength of Steve Austin's comeback and Rock's jump over to RAW, before suddenly losing the audience).  The last time the Fed did LESS than a 3.4 was over the holidays last December.
  • Speaking of Monday Night Football, that ended up being a hell of a game, too, eh?  After RAW and baseball, I was checking it out, and kind of gave up on the game when it got to be 35-14 with under 5 to play.  Then I pop in for a little Monday Night OO Chat, and Lund (Tampa Bay fan that he is) is ignoring all attempts at wrestling talk because he's screaming about football.  Surely, the Bucs game is over by now, I thought.
    Flip back to ABC.  Nope.  OT, and the Colts win.  Whoa.  Screw you, Jeb: the team that re-located to the city in which I was born after I moved away is better than the team that you cheer for insofar as you care about pro football!
    Also of note from the Bucs/Colts game: they actually showed Hulk Hogan on screen for a brief minute, as he was in attendance in Tampa for his home town team.  Hogan's one time tag partner, Edge, was also at the game (per a recent column on WWE.com), but did not make ABC's coverage.  I wonder if they met up and talked about the good ol' days of the Summer of 2002...  probably not.
  • And now, speaking of Hogan...
    NWA-TNA has officially announced that the deal is sealed, and they will be presenting a full-priced, three-hour PPV on Sunday night, November 30 (exactly equidistant between WWE's November and December PPVs).  They have NOT announced that Hogan's a part of the deal, nor any other details, however, suggesting that fans need to tune in to tonight's PPV for big surprises and details about the show.
    Well, attempts to gain a few interest buys for tonight's little show aside, the fact is that Hogan is attached to the event already.  How he'll be used is apparently still a slightly open issue (Hogan vs. Jeff Jarrett has been widely discussed, but isn't 100% locked down, necessarily).  Something that might be a bit surprising: Hogan's deal is now being described as NOT just a one-night shot, which is what I'd reported on Monday.
    Instead, Hogan's TNA commitments may include one or two non-wrestling appearances on Wednesday night shows leading into the Sunday Night PPV (and may also include provisions for Hogan to continue with major show appearances for TNA after the 11/30 event).  That would actually allow them to build a coherent storyline for Hogan's match, whatever it may be.  The reason Hogan/Jarrett was assumed by many is because it would require the least amount of effort by Hogan to hype; maybe phone in a few interviews, but mostly, they could get by on the lingering heat from their final WCW feud.  One or two Wednesday TNA appearances from Hogan, however, could easily be stretched into four weeks (or more) worth of Hogan content...  remember, Sting only showed up for one week of TNA, but was still a part of their show for a month straight.  TNA's also done a similar thing with Roddy Piper.
    It'll be interesting to see how TNA plays this as they gear up for what now looks to be the biggest show in the company's history.  What mix of "bought talent" (like Hogan, Sting, Piper) and their own homegrown stars will they use?  What feuds get top billing?  Can they fix it so that casual "interest buyers" turn into regular Wednesday night viewers?  We'll see...
  • While we're on TNA:  tonight's show is headlined by...  well, I might as well just spit it out....  AJ Styles defending the NWA Title against Dusty Rhodes.
    After finishing the summer so strong, and then doing the one cent show as a way to possibly lure new viewers to Wednesday night PPVs, TNA has stumbled the last few weeks with anticlimactic shows, technical difficulties, and a generally below average product.  That fifty-whatever-year-old Dusty Rhodes is getting his first NWA Title shot in 15 years tonight is not exactly a sign that the company's chock full of ideas on how to get back on the horse.
    Rhodes is an, shall we say, "amusing" side bar attraction.  In essence, he still talks as well as he ever did, which can make him a plus performer.  But in-ring work was never his thing, and between that and cosmetic concerns, let's just say putting Dusty in quite this important a spot doesn't sell me on the show.
    That said, Styles/Dusty is actually being billed as prelude to an upcoming Styles/Jarrett NWA Title match.  Dusty has been mentoring Jarrett, but taking this title shot against Styles has led to friction between him and Double J.  We'll see how it all fits together, but I guess it's possible that Dusty's participation here will work out as an enhancement of Styles/Jarrett and nothing more.
    Also tonight, there are a couple of promising matches, including: Christopher Daniels vs. Frankie Kanzarian and Michael Shane vs. Chris Sabin, both of which should be outstanding...  Simon/Swinger/Glen Gilberti vs. Konnan/BG James/Ron Killings...  D'Lo Brown and One of Black Shirt Security vs. Red Shirt Security (w/ Don Callis)....  AMW vs. Kid Kash and Abyss (Terry Taylor as guest ref on orders of Erik Watts)...  and Raven will be present to face some sort of challenge from Vampiro/James Mitchell/the New Church. 
    Check it out, or come on back here to OO for Damian Gonzalez's recap.
  • Also on the TNA front:  many people e-mailing in asking if it's true that EA Sports and TNA are teaming up for a video game.  It is NOT true.  Not yet.
    IGN jumped the gun (based on an interview with D'Lo Brown), and reported the deal between TNA and EA is done, when in fact, they remain in talks.  There was some confusion as it took IGN a day to realize the error and publish a correction.
  • If we're talking TNA, we might as well cover some other indie news, as well...  some of it that's of note this week to WWE fans: two big name stars are making rare appearances in the coming weeks.
    First, Mick Foley will be appearing on what is shaping up as a huge show...  Jersey All Pro's Six Year Anniversary Show is taking place November 8 at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Seacaucus, NJ, and will be headlined by Al Snow vs. Jerry Lawler battling for the JAPW Title.  And Foley will be the special ref.  You know fun things happen when Snow and Foley are in the same ring!  East coast readers can get all the info they need at www.japw.net.
    Not quite as rare, but looming much sooner, is an indie appearance by Jeff Hardy... he'll be working a Big Time Wrestling event in Newark, CA, this Friday night.  I'm pretty sure this is only Jeff's third or fourth indie appearance since parting with WWE, and is certainly his first since an uninspired (and unappreciated-by-fans) outing for Ring of Honor in July.  Fans on the other coast can get info on the show by calling BTW's ticket line at (510)-668-1211.
  • WWE.com has announced that referees Mike Chioda and Nick Patrick will be trading spots, with Chioda going from SD! to RAW and Patrick moving from RAW to SD!...  in the deal, Patrick will become the "Senior Official" for SmackDown.
    It's probably the "right" move from a pecking order standpoint.  Patrick's years of service and dedication (including his ability to be a performer, usually a heel, as well as just a ref) should be worth something, but he'd never move up the ranks with Earl Hebner ahead of him on RAW.  "Senior Official" isn't a huge distinction, but it's a little something for the guy.  Plus, SD! had been pretty much running out rookie ref Brian Hebner for most big matches of late, it seemed, so maybe the SD! ref's needed some veteran leadership?  I don't know...  I can't believe I'm trying to make sense out of a Ref Trade.  Like it really matters....
    The one notable thing about the move is that it's sort of the first real dent in RAW's distinction of being the home to just about every major WCW/Nitro cast-off.  Not only is the show run by Eric Bischoff, but Patrick and Charles Robinson were the top two non-Hebner officials for the brand.  And the talent roster includes Goldberg, Steiner, Flair, and Booker T among others.  Whereas SD! seems to feature more homegrown talent, especially towards the top of the roster.
  • Stephanie McMahon's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) night...  actually, since the show airs after midnight, that's technically Friday morning for you sticklers.  Kimmel seems like a fan, so it'll be interesting to see what approach he takes with Stephanie: talk about the onscreen stuff, or talk about her backstage job, or even the upcoming wedding...  she's a shrewd girl, though, and whatever nonsense Kimmel might lob her way, I'm sure there will be ample plugging for the Father/Daughter No Mercy PPV match.  Those damned McMahons, always making themselves the stars!
    Also: Cousin Sal would be an idiot if he didn't want to pillow fight Steph.  [Insert your own personal favorite "Steph's Pillows" joke here.]
    I think Steve Austin's on Howard Stern either tomorrow or Friday morning, too, so those of you who get Stern syndicated in your market might take a listen.  The rest of us will wait a couple weeks, and no doubt, the appearance will show up on E! TV.
  • Speaking of TV...  Roddy Piper's episode of "The Mullets" was actually on last night, amidst absolutely ZERO publicity.  I know WWE refused to plug the episode during those UPN bumpers that Tazz and Cole do once a week on SD!, but if I was UPN, and wrestling was one of my network's biggest draws, I would have saturated just about everything else with Roddy Piper's ugly mug (it also featured a backyard wrestling premise that, without even mentioning Piper, might have gotten a plug from WWE).  
    That said, Piper's role was a bit part.  Actually, saying that is an insult to bit parts everywhere, including Kevin Nash's in the "Punisher" movie.  HAR!  The part was re-written for Piper and featured maybe 4 lines and 60 seconds of screen time.  I was only watching after I was surprisingly amused by the previous week's show, and was stunned that it was Piper's episode, given the lack of promotion.  It was actually another pretty funny show, through no effort of Hot Rod's, though.
    Still, it's destined to be axed very soon.  It pulled another sub-1.5 rating for UPN.  Nobody will care that the show's getting funnier if the ratings keep going south like that.  
  • Also doomed to die a quick death: Jesse Ventura's show on MSNBC.  After high hopes for Jesse as a talk show host/moderator, MSNBC quickly lost faith after some terrible test shows, and finally put Jesse on the air in a Saturday night slot this weekend.  The result:  a 0.2 cable rating.  That's bad, even by Saturday Night Death Timeslot standards.
    Buh bye, Jess.
  • Afa Anaoi Jr. turned himself into authorities yesterday; a warrant had been out for his arrest since last Friday.  Afa Jr. is accused of being the get-away driver in an August robbery.
    A member of the Wild Samoan family (son of Afa, cousin to the Rock and others), Afa Jr. has gotten press throughout Pennsylvania as a result of this.  However, his mother has recently issued the family's only statement on the matter, saying in no uncertain terms that Afa Jr. is innocent and is being falsy accused.
    Authorities issued the warrant for Afa Jr. based on a confession of one of the actual burglars in this case.
  • Well, I think that's about it for today.  I guess I'll just say this week's SD! Spoilers are right here, in case you missed 'em and want them.  But other than that, I'm finished.  Till Friday, folks....  


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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