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RAW/Ratings, Hogan's TNA Debut,
HHH's Return, Some Rock News, More...
October 15, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I hope those of you out there who are Chicago fans are NOT in the class of idiots who actually think The Fan had anything to do with the Cubs failure last night.  Lay off the dude: he didn't get 2-hit in Game 5, he didn't walk that batter or commit an error at SS in the eight last night.  And he also won't have anything to do with Game 7.  There have been plenty of the chances for the Cubs to take this series so far, and more forthcoming... this is their brass ring to grab, and not a fan's to take away.  Blaming this guy for the woes when all he did was contribute to a possible out being merely a foul ball does not hold water.  I understand your frustration and I'm pulling for you tonight, but honestly....

On with today's column, so that I can again be firmly on my couch by 4pm.  You know, I like this afternoon baseball thing!

  • Monday's RAW was a really strong effort.  You had an anchor wrestling match in the 8 man Tables Match, and you had a bunch of wildly unpredictable stories swirling around.  And as I said in yesterday's RAW Recap, the most amazing thing is that the creative team had to practically rebuild the show starting on Saturday.  They were backed into a corner by a few injuries on Friday, ones that affected both the World and Tag Title storylines, and what they came up with as replacement was dandy.
    In the absence of Rodney Mack, they tossed Ric Flair directly into the mix; not only did he and Orton combine to provide Mark Henry with partners who were instantly more credible than Mack, but the added bonus of Flair's interactions with Shawn Michaels were sweet.  The extra layer of drama contributes a touch of mystery to Shawn's motivations not only on Monday, but what he'll be feeling going into a title match next week.  Might Flair have awakened a sleeping HBK?  Who knows?  But having the question on the table is pretty cool....
    And by having to pull Flair out of a match with Maven so he could help the Goldberg/Michaels story had an added plus: instead of just shooting the wad on that match one week after a randomly-generated backstage confrontation, they got the chance to put a little more stank on the feud.  Flair faking an injury and attacking Maven after his match was pure gold.  Even if you were expecting the swerve, the presentation of it was such that you lost the "surprise" factor and began appreciating the dark comedy factor.  Flair was so damned EARNEST on commentary, it had me chuckling pretty good.  Now, when there is a Flair/Maven match, it'll be that much more important an issue.  That's what I call making lemonade.
    The 8-man tables match was another outgrowth of a bit of controlled chaos.  The show-opening promo did a nice job of introducing a few varied characters who don't normally play together in such a way that they could have an 8-man match later on...  it was a decent enough use of the Duds in the absence of their expected challengers (Test and Steiner).  If somebody REALLY wanted to complain about something, they might pick the fact that Lance Storm should have somehow been involved on the babyface side.  It's just that (a) Storm tweaked his arm/shoulder over the weekend, and might not have been available for in-ring duty, and (b) Shane NEEDED to be in on that match for storyline purposes, and (c) Booker's comeback contributed substantially to the big time feel of the match.  So I think it all worked out for the best.
    I'm genuinely stunned at how well put together this week's RAW was...  not only did the crew not exactly have a strong week the previous week to build on, but many of their building blocks had been swept aside by key injuries.  Or maybe it's BECAUSE those building blocks were gone that RAW improved this week.  Rather than building on a shoddy foundation, the show pulled back and reset a few angles, pointing them in far better directions.
    In any case, a tip of the hat to those responsible.  I'll even gloss over how cheesy and unnecessary the whole "Kane via satellite" thing was.  Three minutes of crap cannot undo what was a surprisingly strong show.
    Full results of the show (including the Kane via satellite rant) are still in the RAW Recap if you need them...
  • The rating for RAW also improved this week.  Not dramatically, but any upward movement is good in this regard.  RAW did a 3.6 cable rating, up two-tenths from last week.  That's still about a half-point lower than where RAW was sitting for much of the summer, but it's also the first upward motion the number has shown since Labor Day.
    What makes the rating more impressive, as you've probably heard others talk about by now, is that RAW gained some ground despite massive audiences for network sports broadcasts on Monday night.  Baseball on FOX did ginormous numbers, and actually beat Monday Night Football handily.  And although MNF's rating was one of its lowest ever, it was still more than triple RAW's audience, and a substantial drawing card for young males.  Take that football:  baseball's where it's at!  Call me when you're playing 162 times per year for like 100 years straight!
    Just kidding.  (Or am I?)  My point was that wrestling did OK, too, despite strong competition.
  • WWE taped SD! in Cincinnati last night.  It was the final show leading into the No Mercy PPV on  Sunday...  I won't spoil anything here, but I will mention that I'm glad I stayed home and watched baseball instead of driving down.  At least two segments on the show got booed or chanted at, and even when there were a few sparks of quality, the crowd had been effectively killed off already.
    You can watch the show on Thursday night.  Or the Spoilers are right here.
  • Shelton Benjamin returned to action at the tapings (following minor knee surgery 3 weeks ago), and wrestled in a dark match with Charlie Haas.  He seemed to be going at pretty much full speed, which is good.
    Sadly, though the World's Greatest Tag Team could have either helped the lacking edition of SD! or added another "on-paper" gem to the No Mercy PPV card, they did not appear at any point during the actual SD! tapings.  I'd guess they return with a vengeance next week, though.
  • Updated cards for RAW brand house shows this weekend list Triple H as competing on Friday and Saturday night shows.  He is NOT on the Sunday card, nor is he expected on RAW on Monday in an on-screen capacity.
    HHH's vacation is slated to continue as he gets married next weekend, and having him return for a one-week in-arena/on-screen capacity on RAW was deemed unlikely by one source.  To my own way of thinking, if there IS to be a giant storyline development with regard to Goldberg and the Bounty this Monday, however, having HHH pop in for just one week wouldn't hurt...  the Michaels/Goldberg match has MANY possibilities for surprising developments.  Some might benefit from having HHH around pulling the strings.
    One thing that has been posited: Kevin Nash returns as a heel.  He takes responsibility for this past week's attacks on Goldberg.  He might even join Evolution (HHH introduced that possibility in one of his otherwise-forgettable phoned-in promos).  Having HHH around for that would be cool; since it's one of his clique buddies, you might even see him actually pass the "leader of Evolution" torch to Nash.  
    Oh wait, I forgot:  it's the OTHER websites who do the HHH conspiracy theories....
    Anyway, HHH on a couple of house shows this weekend.  Probably just a plot to boost attendance.  But possibly a chance for WWE to use him one last time on RAW before he gets married.  We'll see.
  • A Rock update...  one I would not have believed if two separate people hadn't mailed it in.
    The Rock's next project will apparently be a live action/CGI combo...  tentatively titled "Instant Karma," the pitch is that the Rock is a criminal who dies, and then when he gets reincarnated has to improve himself to work his way up the evolutionary ladder.  You know, like he starts as a bug, eventually works his way up to rodent, and so on and so forth...  the idea is that where you get reincarnated is based on how good a person (or animal) you were in the previous life.
    I'll say this once:  Rocky, step away from the crack.  You do brain dead kiddie shite like "Dr. Doolittle" after you've established yourself as a box office flop and a possible sexual deviant.  You've still got a few summer blockbusters to make for the grown-ups before you start blatantly pandering... don't do this to yourself!
    According to the entertainment wire report that I was forwarded, the Rock will be surrounded by CGI animals which will be voiced by a veritable plethora of C-list celebrities like Burt Reynolds, Gene Wilder, and Dom DeLouise.  His human co-stars are Pierce "Slumming it Between Bond Flicks" Brosnan and Mira "Best Known as the Marilyn Monroe Who Wasn't as Hot as Ashley Judd's in That One Shitty Made-for-Cable Movie" Sorvino.
    This project starts production in early 2004, and full shooting begins in April.  Meaning Rock will have a window to hook up with WWE for the Rumble-to-Mania corridor.  "Walking Tall" has wrapped, and international publicity for "The Rundown" and then a vacation for Rocky couldn't possibly take him much further than the rest of calendar 2003.
    I can't say for certain, but it sounds like the bio-pic of Hawaii's King Kameheha has been back-burnered.  It was supposed to be a leading candidate for Rock's next project...  different sources suggest different reasons for the delay.  Some say there's just no agreement on a final script.  Rock himself said in an interview he doesn't want to do it till he's sure he's ready as an actor because he thinks this movie could be for him what "Ali" was for Will Smith.  So pick one of those theories....  and then try to explain to me why either one makes "Instant Karma" seem like an even remotely good idea to Rocky or his agent.
    "Instant Karma" sounds more like it could be for Rock what "The Animal" was for Rob Schneider.
  • Edge, only about six months out from neck surgery, has started some VERY light workouts, and is doing them at Steve "Skinner" Keirn's wrestling school in Florida.  Edge mentioned the good news in his latest WWE.com column, which you can enjoy right here.
  • Lastly for today...  it's Hulk Hogan's return to TV!  And it's tonight!  Live (on tape!) on pay-per-view!
    Jeff Jarrett's attack on Hulk Hogan over in Japan this past weekend will be aired by NWA-TNA tonight on PPV.  It's expected that this is the beginning of laying the foundation for a Jarrett/Hogan TNA PPV match on Sunday, November 30.  
    Further, it's widely assumed that match will be for the NWA Title.  Problem is, the title is held by AJ Styles, who -- last I checked -- is not named "Hulk Hogan" or "Jeff Jarrett."  Styles and Jarrett are actually in the midst of a little feud, and will have an NWA Title match next Wednesday.  Both will also be live in the house on tonight's show, so expect some sparks, there.  Then expect the title switch next week.
    Also on tonight's show: Michael Shane defends the X Title against Christopher Daniels in what should be an outstanding match....  Dusty Rhodes and AMW face Vince Russo, Sonny Siaki, and Ekmo (formerly "Jamal" of 3MW)...  Raven vs. Slash....  Kid Kash vs. Abyss...  Erik Watts vs. one of Don Callis' security guys (Kevin Northcutt)... and an update on Roddy Piper.
    Check it out.  Or come on back to OO later this week for the full report courtesy of Damian Gonzalez.
  • That is all.  I'm out.  Go Yankees!  [Or wait:  perhaps "Go Red Sox" this afternoon...  so that they force a Game 7... so that I don't feel obligated to watch SmackDown! in real time tomorrow...  nah, I'll take the trip to the World Series anyway I can get it.  I can always find something else to do tomorrow night and watch SD! in fast-forward mode....]
    See you Friday with some No Mercy PPV preview and whatever other news seems fit to print.... 


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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