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RAW, Ratings, Warrior and Other Videogame
News, a Not-so-HughMorrus Update, More 
October 29, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


So the new Strokes record is OK...  nothing special, nothing much different than what you'd expect, but OK.  Not that I was expecting a quantum leap in terms of depth or complexity over their first record, but it does seem to me that if MTV wanted to push a garage rock band, they could probably do better.  Of course, most garage rock bands are, by nature, not nearly as pretty as the Strokes, and there in lies the problem.  So far this year, you can give me the debut full-lengths from the Datsuns or Kings of Leon over the Strokes Reloaded in the rock album category...

And of course, you can also give me many Best Buy gift cards -- or donations to the on-going OO Pledge Drive, which I implore you all to consider -- as events are conspiring to make this a very expensive holiday season for those shopping for me, if only I can stop myself from buying amazingly cool shit like the Tenacious D-VD, the Guided by Voices "Hardcore UFOs" box set, and the Foo Fighters DVD the days they come out (all in November).  Not to mention the 4-DVD version of "The Two Towers," the Indiana Jones box set, and the complete Ben Stiller Show on DVD.  Man.

Oh, and: the Ric Flair 3-disc collection.  No way I'm NOT getting that.  Or having someone else get it for me.  I almost forgot this is a wrestling column for a second, there:

  • Monday's RAW did a 3.4 rating, a decline of three-tenths from the week before.  But the story: the show was on pace to come close to matching last week's 3.6...  until the Shane McMahon/Test segment.
    Through 10:15 (eastern) RAW was averaging a 3.5, and had peaked in the fifth quarter hour.  But the rating dipped from there, and averaged a 3.3 the rest of the way (and it would have been a 3.2 if not for a rally in viewership for the finish of the RVD/Jericho saga).  The 3.7 for the Shane/Test/Kane thing was the night's highest rating, but was also the segment that seemed to pretty much send people scurrying for other channels. 
    It's weird, but something I don't like being right: yesterday, in recapping RAW, I railed on that segment as the one that took the steam out of the show for me, personally, and apparently for the live crowd.  That doesn't mean, however, that I was rooting for it to fail with the general audience.  I like to think I'm pickier than the average viewer, and I obsess way too much about shit like this.  That's why I've got a website.  But it gives me no satisfaction that the viewer at home was just as turned off by Kane/Test/Shane as finicky ol' me was.
    And again, to reiterate my statements from yesterday, I don't think it was so much that it was a bad segment as that it was mis-hyped, and then possibly mis-managed in terms of time.  Having JR and all signs point to "Survivor Series coming early" when discussing the mystery opponent for Shane built up expectations.  Am I saying they should have given of a PPV match 3 weeks early?  No.  But I am saying that it's shooting yourself in the foot to build up expectations like that and then deliver the guy who, well, isn't doing much better, healthwise, than a guy who just shot himself in the foot.  Test managed to have a fun brawl, but nobody cared about seeing him out there hobbling through a 10 minute match.  After gearing fans up to expect Kane, of course, Test's going to alienate some people.  And then, good gawd, they beat us over the head with stuff and drew it out too long, too.  How many times did we have to see Test gesturing to the back before we figured out he and Kane had hatched A Plan?  How long did Shane have to ramble before somebody bailed his tanking ass out and sent Kane to the ring?
    And it's too bad, because folks who bailed on RAW after that missed the night's best action in RVD/Jericho, as well as further developments along the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff storyline.  The show ended with a four-on-four inside the cage (Jericho/Steiner/Christian/Henry vs. RVD/Booker/Dudleys), and based on Shawn Michaels' interactions with both Henry and Bischoff on the night, I think you can assume he's Team Austin's fifth member.  I'm assuming if Test is healthy he gets Spot #5 for Bischoff's squad.  I had thought maybe leaving Henry (and Test) out, and using Orton/Flair for the heels would work best, because then you could leave the Duds to focus on other things and use Michaels/Maven/Storm as the other three faces, but this works well, too...  you get a bunch of guys involved in what could become criss-crossing feuds for the IC Title, and plus, the Duds could walk out of it with a much-needed tag title feud against either Steiner/Test or Jericho/Christian.  Yep, that dog'll hunt.
    Now, you've got Evolution Lite left to their own devices for Survivor Series.  If there is room for another RAW match, though, clearly the way to go is Flair/Orton/Batista vs. Maven/Jindrak/Cade.  Not sure I'd care about that on a PPV stage, but it's something to do on a RAW leading in or coming out of Survivor Series, at the very least.
    While those three are occupied, Triple H will be back in the next couple weeks to gear up for a PPV match against Goldberg.  I now officially amend my prognostication: instead of using Batista as fodder for Goldberg prior to the PPV, they'll hold him back (and have him come out smelling like a rose from that feud with "Team Green") to use as post-PPV opposition for Goldberg.  There's just not enough time for Goldberg to keep selling the "shattered ankle" (which I honestly did not think they'd do to this extent; I thought Goldberg would be back at near 100% to face Batista next week to further his image as invincible) AND to dispatch Batista before focusing on HHH.  Course, now that I envision Batista as Goldberg's easy post-PPV prey, I envision a possibility that HHH wins his title back, and Goldberg uses Batista as his "get well" feud.  Honestly, if it's me, I don't take that title off Goldberg till WrestleMania, but then again, I ain't married to the boss' daughter, so...
    But I'm digressing.
    By my count, you've got 3 locked in PPV matches that we've covered (Kane/Shane, the five-on-five, and HHH/Goldberg), with one possible addition (Evolution vs. Team Green) in the works.  But also after last night, I think we can safely pencil in Lita vs. Molly Holly for the women's title for the PPV, too (which probably puts the "possible" match back as a free RAW attraction).  Lita's "arduous" 2-month storyline fight to get a title shot pales compared to the 16 months it took her to get back in action after surgery, but by wrestling standards, that 2 month build-up is an eternity worthy of the PPV spotlight.
    The women's match on Monday was solid again after the previous week's was more just a throw-away excuse to get Christian out to make a save for Lita.  On that front (the Jericho/Trish/Christian/Lita front, that is), THIS was the week for throw-away segments and marking time.  They didn't do anything really wrong (the dialogue between Lita and Trish was stilted, yeah, but is that such a crime?), but they also didn't move forward at all.  It's like they may have realized that something that started as a silly one-off gimmick might have legs, and they want to consider carefully before moving forward.  Considering the important spot they put Jericho in for the night, they SHOULD be careful about anything that paints him in a babyface light unless they intend to act on it with a full blown storyline that crosses over his participation in the five-on-five match (and doesn't just exist as a sidebar in the Love Rhombus World).
    Not a bad show, but one that didn't have the zing, the zazz, or the kapowza of the previous few weeks.  I thought I was being all insightful by blaming Shane/Test/Kane...  but we now have evidence to support the theory that I'm just a normal schmuck wrestling fan who thought that segment was boring.   Except that I have a website, so you have to listen to me.
    Again, if you missed the full details, they are right here.
  • I've neglected pimping OO's other columns here as shamelessly as I used to, but in case you're not following along with Matt Hocking's alternate universe, I think now's as good a time as any to start.  And then maybe start working backwards.  The past two weeks have been classics.
    At least, as "classic" as a column that just celebrated its first anniversary can be.
    Just read the damned RAW Satire, already.
  • So remember Monday, when I suspiciously told you that the Ultimate Warrior was hinting at BIG NEWS about his return to pro wrestling?
    Again, sometimes I hate being right.
    The "big news" was that Warrior will be included in the next "Legends of Wrestling" videogame that comes out in early 2004.  Allow me:  yee fricking haw.
    I actually suspected this was what Warrior's news would be, as did a few readers.  But, as you may have noticed, I have this odd way of presenting possible "news" in a suggestive, "Hey this is only an idea" way when I hear something from a minor league source, and don't know if it's 100% on target.  That way, when it's right, I look like a genius, and when I'm long, at least I don't get my dude caught in my zipper trying to cover up...
    Fact is, Warrior was a last second scratch from the new WWE SmackDown! videogame, and people in the videogame industry were buzzing that it was because he'd done an exclusive deal with Acclaim for the "Legends" game.  But I don't know videogames like I know wrestling, so I'm never quite sure who or what is on the level when I get news from those sorts.
    Anyway, don't bother visiting Warrior's site for his "Big Announcement."  Unless you really want to see the Warrior-ized Jargon version of the announcement, which is, in its own way, very funny.
  • Speaking of the new SmackDown! game released yesterday for PS2, it is getting rave reviews.  Considered by all -- except, I gather, by elitists who have a problem with PS2 and are loyal to either GameCube or XBox -- the finest domestic wrestling title for a couple years running, now, the game has added a lot of new features, and what they've taken away to make room for them is hardly missed.
    To wit: I played last year's SD! game for a few weeks, and I cannot tell you how lame the running-around-the-arena gimmick was.  This year, that time-wasting feature is gone, and you just move around quickly using menus.  Good.  Also gone: the commentary.  And I wept tears of joy.  Last year's was the closest they ever came to getting it right, and even then, it was more funny than annoying when Cole would shout out the name of a move you did 10 seconds ago.  It's hard enough on other sports games, but commentary for a wrestling game is next to impossible to do well, so I say "why bother at all?"... and finally, somebody agreed with me.
    They added in a roster of legends, the Elimination Chamber match (reportedly excellent and full-featured), and expanded the Create-a-Wrestler yet again with the extra room...  e-mail reviews have been all very positive, and the one "professional" review I read at IGN was practically a rave.
    I'm not a videogame guy, but I've played every game in the SD! series so far, and I'm thinking this one's sounding like it'll definitely be worth a rental and a visit to my friend's PS2.  So if I'm that motivated, I figured I'd pass along the good word to you folks.
  • Jeff Hardy was backstage are RAW Monday, but it was just to hang out and visit friends since the show was so close to home...  do not bother with any speculation to the otherwise.
    Matt Hardy, however, was also there backstage visiting and hanging out with Lita.  That IS a bit odd.  SD! did have a house show that night which Matt might have been used on.  Also: Matt made no appearance at SD! tapings last night from what I could discern.  Shannon Moore worked, but did so alone.  If you wanted to do some speculation here, I would not blame you.  
    In fact, I'll help you:  imagine how many cooler possibilities would exist if you took the Trish/Jericho/Christian/Lita thing and had a jealous Matt Hardy show up on RAW to turn it into a Love Pentagon?  I'm talking about "imagine the stories" as well as "imagine the match-ups."  Thing is, that's a short term plus for Hardy and for RAW... for the long-term I really do like him better on SD!... so...  I don't even know what I'm saying....
  • Services yesterday for Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand were a star-studded affair, an indication of just how respected and beloved the guy was.  Vince McMahon attended, and even flew a bunch of other WWE stars down in the company jet...  and of course, the non-WWE contingent of Hawk's old associates was strong.  His partner Animal was front and center, but Hulk Hogan also showed up, as did Ted DiBiase, Nikita Koloff, and many others.  All told, close to 100 current and former wrestlers were there.
  • Steve Austin is making the rounds in promoting his new (allegedly-auto-)biography.  Everybody who hears/sees him says he's really entertaining and in good spirits, but it doesn't sound like he's covering much exciting, new ground.
    He was on ESPNews for a 5 minute interview on Tuesday that went into a few previously unknown details about Austin's SportsCenter commercial with U. of Dayton's own Dan Patrick (Austin admitted, for the first time, that,yeah, he was wearing a pad on his back when Patrick whacked him with the chair.  Cheater).
    During a lengthy interview this morning on the Howard Stern show, Austin also revealed that he's got another live-in girlfriend, who is apparently independently loaded and who's only job is to "take care of me."  Besides that, even with Stern's attempts to go blue, Steve kept it on a mostly even keel, not talking too much about Debra, or voicing much in the way of displeasure with HHH (he said their problems were in the past).  Also: regardless of how much goading Stern did, Austin insisted he never tried to hit on Stephanie McMahon.
    Austin's also got a pretaped interview for tomorrow's Sharon Osbourne show, and will be live on NBC's Today.  If you see him and he actually says something earth-shattering, please let me know.  Neither of those shows is on my radar.
  • To put the final word on the Stephanie evil/curly vs. straight/babyface telegraphing-a-heel-turn thing:  OO Reader Cory Harris says Steph DID telegraph her heel turn at that 1999 PPV... but it was by wearing a black leather jacket.  Then she did add the curly "heel hair" the next night on RAW.  I think that sounds right.  All I remember is that I sensed Steph's turn coming the night of that PPV, and that in later months/years, we identified the curly hair thing as a harbinger of a heel turn...
    And if you think I'm insane for mentioning this three columns in a row, I protest!  You might think it's stupid, but trust me, wardrobe and grooming choices ARE made with things like this in mind.  If you get a chance, ask Triple H why he shaved and slowly started dressing nicer in the last year...  or ask Steph upfront about the leather and the perm.  They'll tell you, yeah, WWE thinks of that stuff.  It's subtle, but all those little things do add up in fans' minds.
    Of course, it doesn't work so well when certain dickhead fans obsess over the little things and can predict the future based on them.
  • Lastly for today, some sad, but not exactly surprising, news...
    Bill DeMott, who wrestled most famously as "Hugh Morrus" during WCW's hey day, has basically resigned himself to retirement.  He appeared as a color commentator at SD!/Velocity tapings yesterday, and also confirmed his retired status in an interview with an Atlanta newspaper.
    DeMott was considered a fantastic Big Man prospect when he signed with WCW right as the company was taking off.  He'd been working indies and getting rave reviews for his tubby guy moonsault (I think he worked as "Crash the Terminator" or something close to it).  Of course, saddled with the Hugh Morrus gimmick by WCW, there was only so much upward mobility he'd have with the company.  At best, DeMott came off as a talented but underutilized piece of WCW's massive roster.
    In later years, he did get his push under the Vince Russo regime, but sadly, it came in the guise of the "General Hugh G. Rection"/Misfits in Action gimmick.  The push up the card was there.  The gimmick to interest even one fan was not.  When WCW went tits up, Hugh Morrus was one of a lucky few who got to jump over to the WWF-owned version of the company, but he was lost in the shuffle, to say the least.  After the inVasion angle tanked, DeMott mostly laid low until being given a shot as a Tough Enough trainer.  Then, after one last run back on WWE TV using his real name, he faded into obscurity.  He was last seen apparently attempting to revive the Hugh Morrus gimmick early this year, but a worsening neck condition has forced DeMott to hang it up.
    He never quite left his mark inside the ring like Tazz did (albeit he did most of his memorable work in ECW), but Bill DeMott was loaded with potential that never quite got realized.  I find myself hoping the guy finds his niche as an announcer or in a backstage capacity.  In my experiences with him, he seemed very sharp and in love with the business and was one of the nicer guys I ever got to interview.
    In fact, for tomorrow's OOld School, I'll dig up the 2001 chat I had with him, mostly covering inVasion topics, but with a few other things that still have relevance today.
  • So that's tomorrow, and then I'll be back here again on Friday with fresh 2003 material.
    In the meantime, seriously, please consider dropping a few bucks in the hopper for the OO Pledge Drive.  The site will live for another year based on what you can donate this month (and then it's 11 months of sweet, no-whining-from-the-Rick bliss for you!).  Oddly, contributions are down this year compared to last... even though readership is slightly up.  I don't want to have to get all statistical on your asses to shame you into it, 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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