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RAW/Ratings, Sting Returns, plus Edge, 
Rock, New Talent, and International Updates
November 5, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, folks, I might as well admit this right up front:  I don't know what's gonna be going on here on Friday.  I know I promised "No Friday Slacking Off During the OO Pledge Drive," but I just got my Friday agenda last night, and it turns out I'm leaving town for the weekend several hours earlier than I thought I was... and the trickle down means less time for website stuff on Friday afternoon, which combines with the fact that I know Erin's not doing a column and Danny's not doing a SD! recap to create a massive Content Black Hole for this weekend.

I will apologize profusely right now.  I don't know what form Friday's update will take, but it's sure to disappoint you. If a deeply insightful topic does not occur to me tomorrow, then I probably will just skip doing a Friday OO entirely.  Hopefully, I'll still have time to do the SD! recap, which I kind of actually look forward to, since it always feels like I get to go in depth with my thoughts on RAW, but unless there's something very specific to bitch about, I just gloss over SD! topics and analysis.

We'll see how it goes. For today, though, we're doing just dandy.  Spoilers were posted this morning if you missed 'em, and now, it's on to the rest of the mid-week business:

  • As alluded to above, I have already said a mighty piece about Monday's RAW.  It's in the recap I did yesterday.
    To extract the opinion from the reporting and present it here for the many of you who apparently don't feel the need to read recaps for shows you watched yourself, however...
    Let me reiterate my contention that Monday's show was a more schizophrenic RAW than we've seen in the last month.  RAW's recent improvement's have generally resulted in consistent, even-keel shows where highlights were not necessarily balanced by low-lights.
    And while Monday's effort still balanced out on the high side of "average," there were more noticeable down points countering the myriad high spots.
    I've already laundry listed the good and the bad, and won't make extended cases for them again, but I'd hope that most of you'd agree that things like John Heidenreich's work, the cheesy Kane bits, and Mark Henry providing the least competent in-ring foil to Shawn Michaels since Sid all had noticeable effects on the show.  As good as the opening tag match was, as good as Austin was on the stick all night, as well utilized the divas were both in the ring and in a pair of angles/skits, this was still a show that was On one minute, then running cooler the next.
    And with an extra day of reflection, I'm still torn on the main event angle.  On one hand, they accomplished some good things with Goldberg: his surprise return definitely had the taint of Bad Ass to it, the way it was presented.  On the other, I laid out an alternate version of how next week's Goldberg/Batista match could have come into being on Monday (hint: use Bischoff), that could have ended the show on a much better cliff-hanger-type note than the "Goldberg and Austin standing on turnbuckles guzzling beer" finish.  
    But I won't get into that again at length here.  My full explanation for how I'd have used the last 5 minutes of RAW is in the Recap for you to enjoy.  Or to reject as inadequate.  Whichever.  Point is, it's there... and here, all I wanted to do is underscore that the final moments of RAW were yet another example of one part good, one part missing something; a microcosm for the entire show.
  • The rating for Monday night... a 3.4 cable rating.  That's the exact same as the week before, and continues RAW's trend of below-average performances.  
    As discussed in Monday's probably-too-obsessive-to-actually-be-interesting-to-you ratings analysis, RAW's ratings the past couple months have dropped significantly from summer highs (by about a half-point, on average).
    Now, it's been a long-standing trend in Monday night wrestling (before, during, and now after the RAW/Nitro wars) to see drop-offs starting in September due to the new fall season starting on other networks and the direct male/sports demographic competition from Monday Night Football.  So perhaps that's all we're seeing here...  but it's still got to have the execs a little bit concerned.
  • By the way, variations in rounding have last week's SD! rating being alternately reported as either 3.6 or 3.7.  I had a few people mail in confused about that.  I guess it's a deal where the actual number is probably calculated to be something more like 3.65, but Nielsen's margin of error is already so significant that going to the extra decimal place would be pointless.
    Whatever... my message to the kids: don't sweat the 0.1 difference. The general thing you need to get out of the number is that it's very strong, among the half dozen or so best ratings SD! has done since June, and the third week out of four that the show's been above a 3.5.
  • And before I forget: Monday's RAW was notable for another reason...  it was the first wrestling show of the 2004 "voting year."  
    I got curious and checked the ol' Usenet yesterday, and noticed that CRZ has, indeed, emerged to once again do the Usenet Achievement Awards for 2003.  For these prestigious and ancient (by internet standards) awards, 2003 essentially ended over the weekend.  The Achievement Awards have always used a November-to-November voting year so that fans have plenty of time to vote and compiler(s) have time to tally them before December 31 rolls around.
    Right now, the awards are in the final days of nominations.  Voting begins on Monday, and runs for three weeks, through December 1.  You'll need to point your news reader to rec.sport.pro-wrestling.moderated to follow along.  Maybe Z will also throw a ballot and other 2003 awards materials up with the rest of all the cool old awards information at www.rspw.org, too... I don't know.
    I'll probably mention it again at some point during the actual voting period, and also try to find the easiest way to point you to a ballot, if only to increase CRZ's workload and piss him off.
    You know what else this means, don't you?  Year-End Awards Mania is upon us, and I've only got a few precious months of freedom before facing the arduous three-week-long task of compiling the OO Year in Review, my own self.  Are you SURE you don't want to give me a little inspiration in the form of a small donation?
  • So last week, we talked about the Rock being attached to a potential live-action adaptation of "Johnny Bravo"... well, we got another one for the pile.
    I have no idea what "Namor: Sub-Mariner" is, unless it's the epic saga of a former Red Sox shortstop's fall from grace in the Seattle farm system...  but whatever it is (according to one e-mail, I guess maybe it's a comic book?), The Rock is now being discussed as an option for the titular character.
    With all these other projects piling up, part of me is still hoping to hear one of these days that Rocky's pulled out of that retarded-sounding "Instant Karma" thing that he's supposed to be starting up after next year's WrestleMania.
  • Edge appeared again in a "MC" sort of role at the SD! house show on Monday night in Ottawa.  He presided over a lingerie contest, which is good work if you can get it.
    It's cool to see Edge popping up on weekend tours of Canada, and all, but I thought the dude lived in Florida?  Is he THAT desperate for the cheap pop that he'll fly a thousand miles for his guest spots instead of trying to convince, I don't know, Ft. Lauderdale or something that he's their favorite son?
  • WWE's tour of the Pacific Rim was scaled back this week... the SD! brand tour will now be three shows instead of four, with shows in Seoul, Singapore, and Perth (Australia) on December 4, 5, and 6, respectively.  A show in Malaysia scheduled for December 2 is gone.
    There actually is a bit of a direct impact on US fans...  the change now means that week's SD! will be taped as usual on Tuesday 12/2 (in San Jose) for airing on Thursday.  I believe that show had originally been scheduled for Sunday, 11/30, also in San Jose.
    No idea if there were soft ticket sales or other problems in Malaysia... seems odd that WWE would axe an international show, as they tend to be huge money makers, and much-better-attended than domestic events.  Then again, maybe they were just being kind to the talent: a taping on Sunday, and then house shows thousands of miles apart on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and a monster trip back for more tapings on the next Tuesday would have been a ball buster.

  • There was a minor buzz going around that WWE had a big press conference scheduled for today in Toronto... but it turns out it's just gonna be an announcement that WWE and a company called Bell Sympatico to do WWE-themed cell phones for Canada.
    Geez, if I'd known it was gonna be "press conference worthy" material, I could have told you about this a couple weeks ago.  My ad agency has sold some OO space to Sympatico for the ad campaign, and made me jump through a few hoops to seal the deal...  you poor Canadians, OO is now geo-targeting YOU, and starting on November 17, you can count on seeing the ads for this if yours is one of the IPs that has been collected and traced to the Great White North!   I believe it's one of the lucrative ads of the "pop-over" variety!  MWHAAAHHAAAAHAAAHAA!
  • RAW brand house shows this weekend are kind of interesting... Goldberg's actually scheduled to work one or two of them (I know for sure the one in Toronto) as a way of getting him in the ring with Batista so that they won't suck out loud when they clash on Monday night.  The one in Toronto is actually gonna be a Goldberg/Booker vs. Batista/Orton match, I think, so Goldberg can also "sell the injury" by not working a whole match.
    Also getting a test run: the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff match, minus Orton and Shawn Michaels.  And Kane vs. Shane inside a steel cage is a constant on the house shows, as well.
  • As hinted at in the RAW Recap, Steven Richards was indeed legitimately hurt by John Heidenreich's finisher...  but current reports are that he did NOT suffer a concussion (as some had thought), but dinged up his shoulder, instead.  He might get a respite this weekend, but shouldn't miss much time.
    That foul-up, alone and in a vacuum, certainly isn't a horrible indictment on Heidenreich, but speaking for myself, I've seen nothing out of the guy inside the ring these past two weeks that looks very promising (other than he's big, which means Vince likes him).  Add on the fact that the "Little Johnny" gimmick is so mind-numbingly lame, but has now been built up to the point where fans actually expect it might be something good, and this just seems like a go-nowhere project.  I'm not in charge, but if I were, I might throw Heidenreich on the Nathan Jones Pile.
    Next up on the "getting a serious look from WWE because he's big" horizon:  Horshu, who was trained in UPW (Rick Bassman's California-based group, also where John Cena and others started).  He's been on about two weeks worth of WWE tapings in dark matches.  We'll see where that goes.
  • Another possible WWE acquisition: Kenzo Suzuki, a highly touted puroresu star who has been dabbling on this continent in the past few months.  Not only did he have a solid outing with NWA-TNA over the summer, but he's gotten a couple of dark match looks from WWE.
    Though not a "big man" in the normal sense of what Vince considers "big," he is not a typical Japanese cruiser, either.  He is, what you'd probably call a slightly-oversized Japanese heavyweight, roughly equal in size to a Steve Austin.
    Suzuki, I recall, was a hot topic when he debuted about 3 years ago for New Japan, but never fully developed.  About a year ago, he left New Japan, and that's when he started exploring other options, including the US (where he's also done a few indie supershows this year).  With SD! recently bringing in the "yakuza" duo to back Tajiri, Suzuki might easily fit as the "enforcer" of a group like that.  Just thinking out loud.
    I mention it because, in addition to the dark match try-outs being notable, WWE is essentially sold on Suzuki, and it's more a deal of the ball being in his court than anything.  We'll see.
  • A lot of people are making a big stink over Teddy Hart at a recent Ring of Honor show... as I've heard the tale, Hart ad-libbed a post-match series of high spots that not only scooped the heat of the winner, but also endangered the other workers because they hadn't planned or positioned themselves for Hart's moves.  The result was that Teddy was thrown out of the building immediately by the ROH locker room, and has basically been blacklisted by them.
    Let's just say there's a reason why Teddy Hart -- who has admittedly wowed audiences with his in-ring work -- was scouted and then cut loose by the then-WWF back about 3-4 years ago.  For all his obvious ability, Teddy apparently exhibits an "act now, think later" attitude that makes him a chore to deal with.  Even his brief TNA run this past summer was not without incident, and it's certainly telling that he's not been invited back there, since, either.
    I believe it's 1Wrestling.com that has expanded upon this story by also publishing a note from Teddy Hart, who explains that he suffered a concussion in the match and does not actually remember his post-match antics as part of an apology to the company and the fans.  Don't know what to make of that, except to say that it's at least heartening to see that Teddy knows enough to step up and take responsibility for what happened.
  • Speaking of TNA, we might as well finish up today by talking about tonight's big show.  For the second time, the company is bringing in Sting to (hopefully) pop a big buyrate.
    Sting will be the third soldier brought in by Jimmy Hart to challenge new NWA champ Jeff Jarrett.  The onslaught started last week with Jim Duggan and Rick Steiner, and will eventually culminate when a recouperated Hulk Hogan shows up in TNA to face off against Jarrett.
    Tonight's Sting/Jarrett match seems sort of out of left field, as the last time Sting was in TNA, he TEAMED with Jarrett, and he's also got no allegiance to Jimmy Hart that I'm aware of in terms of past storylines.  My first instinct is that the match feels like a sort of a one-off deal, Sting comes in, Sting goes away...  and the road continues on to Hogan/Jarrett.
    But actually, whenever TNA does get their full-price Sunday night Mega-PPV loaded up, Sting's almost sure to be a part of that, too.  It'd be foolish to bring him in and cordon him off in his own little universe.  So I believe it'll be interesting to see what TNA does tonight in this match to weave Sting into storylines as a more ubiquitous figure.  In other words: what'll Sting be doing at the big PPV where Jarrett tangles with Hogan, and will we see that start of that tonight?
    The promise of Jarrett/Sting, the Wrestling Match, is significant enough... I think they are pretty much to two best top level, marquee-name workers not employed by WWE at the present time.  But the other elements add additional drama, too.
    TNA is also taking another huge step with one of their secondary storylines, as tonight is supposed to be the night when Raven finally gets his hands on the man who was once dubbed "The Sinister Minister," Jim Mitchell.  Raven's gone through the New Church, and is slated to be in the ring alone with Mitchell tonight.  Of course, any wrestling fan of rodent-level IQ or better can tell you it probably doesn't go down quite that way.  The heel manager ALWAYS has a scheme to get out of a beating!
    The other big draw tonight is TNA actually going back to putting the spotlight on one of their strengths: the X Division.  They are doing a four week long "Triple Chance Invitational."  Tonight's Week 1 pits eight men against each other in Battle Royal, with the winner advancing automatically to Week 3's Triple Threat #1 Contender's match.  In Week 2, the four top runners-up will pair off and have two matches, the winners advancing to the other two spots in Week 3's #1 Contender match.  Then, in Week 4, the #1 Contender gets a shot at Michael Shane's X Title.  Or something like that.  I know it's convoluted, and I may not have gotten it exactly right... but the point is, if you're putting guys like Christopher Daniels, Lo Ki, and Chris Sabin in a ring together tonight, it's not going to suck.  I forget who else I heard was in on this deal, but I think Sharkboy and Sanjay Dutt are also both in.
    Sounds like tonight could be a return to late summer excellence for TNA... then again, I've said that a few other times so far this fall, and it hasn't really worked out, yet, so...  either way, $10 ain't a lot to spend on an experiment, and OO will also have your back with Damian's recap later this week.
  • Again, I hope to see you Friday, but make no promises...  what exactly is it I'm skipping town for, you ask?  Well, if I told you, you either wouldn't believe me or would think I'm pathetic.  Let's just say if all goes according to plan, I'll stand before you on Monday with both a massive hang-over and a bright shiny trophy.
    Ponder those possibilities, kids.  I'll see you... whenever....


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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