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RAW/Ratings, Edge and Angle Again,
Big Fight!, and Luger/TNA Preview... 
November 12, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This is it, folks: the final week of the OO Pledge Drive for this year!  I've explained how it works, I've tried to give you reasons to donate without being a huge dick about it, and I've also resigned myself to something like a 1.2% participation rate this year.

But that won't stop me from keeping the press on these last few days!  Convenient options for credit card, PayPal, even check/cash are available!  Donate today!  And stop worrying about saving money to buy your friends and family holiday gifts, already!  They only supply you with daily aggravation.  I, on the other hand, supply daily entertainment.  Except on the weekends.  Hey, I need "me" time, too!

So anyway: tick tock, tick tock, time's running out.  

Here's the news:

  • Monday's RAW was just about exactly what the brand needed to churn out.  A steady show that didn't have any suck-out-loud moments (as the week before did), and that nurtured all the key PPV feuds along in interesting ways.
    Actually, it was an easy night to keep the crowd into the pre-existing angles, as they put the babyfaces over at just about every turn.  Every member of Team Austin went over on Team Bischoff, AND Goldberg got the better not just of his opponent Batista but also of the running-in Triple H.  In their verbal confrontation, even Shane McMahon got the last word in on Kane.
    The closest any heels came to getting a moral victory in a PPV caliber angle was Molly and Gail's decisive win over Lita and Terri.  For reasons that should be obvious to all, La Resistance getting a win is not pertinent to this discussion.
    Now, I know it is a common heuristic to say that whoever wins the final confrontation before a PPV is likely to lose at the PPV itself....  but I simply don't think that we're going to be THAT heel heavy in the winner's column come Sunday.  There are other things to consider besides a rusty old axiom when predicting winners...  I'm choosing to be of the opinion that Monday night was more just a happy, feel-good night for the purposes of balancing what has happened previously, and NOT to set the stage for what is yet to come.
    The Goldberg/HHH issue is a cloudy one, since on one hand, the two have had very little to do with each other in two months due to HHH's absences.  But on the other, all the other guys Goldberg's had to deal with have been due to HHH's bounty, so you could argue that for 2 months, HHH has been getting the better of Goldberg.  Sort of.  In any case, having Goldberg look good on Monday sent the message that he might still be able to win on Sunday.  In fact, I actually believe that he will.  At the very least: he should, and if he doesn't, I'll have a list of reasons why it was a mistake.
    The Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff thing, on the other hand, is pretty clear. At all points along the way until last week, Austin was behind in terms of recruiting members.  And last week, once it was five-on-five, all of Austin's guys were losers.  What happened on Monday was the counter-point to that.  But the outcome for Sunday is way up in the air.  Sure, Austin's not really going to leave TV for good; but also consider that there are any number of ways to get out of or circumvent stipulations like these.  It could be as simple as Austin coming back in a different role, one that allows him to kick ass when he wants.  Or even simpler: Team Austin wins the match.
    But this is all discussion for Friday's PPV preview...  for now, what I wanted to convey is that Monday's RAW was a pretty good time, the wrestling equivalent of a "popcorn movie": you know, designed to send you home happy, and not necessarily to win any awards.
    My one gripe that lingers: the Kane/Shane thing at the Chinese Restaurant.  Look, again I want to keep this short since I suspect any of you who've been with me a while could write this rant for me...  but then again, maybe not.  Because after I said my piece in the RAW Recap yesterday, I got a number of e-mail accusing me of various crimes (most commonly, "missing the point").  Somehow, these people got the idea that what I was bitching about was that Kane and Shane sat down and had a civilized dialogue, which is something they all loved.
    Well, sorry, kids.  If I didn't make it clear, allow me to do so now:  I LOVED the actual content of the skit.  After all the stupid, retarded shit those two have spewed out over the last four months, this was a piece of dialogue that added to their characters, added to the drama, and added to my interest.  And if I could type the following in big, flashing letters to get my point across, I would, but I can't, so: I even liked that they sat down together and did this in a civilized manner instead of shouting at each other.
    My complaint was not that they sat down.  My complaint was that they sat down at some Chinese restaurant with a three camera set up: a context that is so disconnected from the rest of the show that it hurt what SHOULD have been a very strong face-to-face promo.  I cannot stress this enough: by trying to get fancy and adding utterly unnecessary elements to this skit, WWE actually reduced its impact.  I made the comment that it struck me like a cable access drama show produced by high schoolers yesterday, and I mention it again, because it strikes me as one of the more apt comparisons I've made in a long time.  I made those sorts of little movies (for class projects or whatever) and have seen others my friends did, and from the clunky cuts between three cameras (which all have to be on one side of the table because you're pretending like you're making a movie, so you can't possibly let one of the other cameras show up in the shot) to the setting (which seemed like "Hey, let's go to one of our regular hang-outs, because they probably won't kick us out of there if we film something, at least, as long as we stay in a corner and don't annoy the other customers," just like in high school), it's the vibe I got.
    The result was that high impact moments got next to no response from the live crowd, and me sitting at home was using one half of his brain to say "Hey, this pathetic, self-loathing SOB angle is pretty interesting" even while his other half was coming up with extended cable access comparisons.  It was just one of those times when WWE tried to redefine itself as something it's not, tried to re-invent the wheel for no good reason other than because they are intent on proving to themselves that they aren't "pro wrestling," they are "sports entertainment."
    My frustration stems not from any displeasure with the content or tone of the confrontation between Kane and Shane.  Rather, it stems from the simple fact that there were 100 other, better, and simpler ways to have presented their confrontation that would have turned the segment from a prime example of what annoys me about WWE to a prime example of what I love about WWE.  And all 100 of those ways were tossed aside in favor of the unnecessarily convoluted and fancified trip to a Chinese restaurant that has nothing to do with anything.  Argh, is all I can say.  Argh, indeed.
    Hopefully, I have now explained myself a little better so that if you folks out there still think I'm an idiot, at least you'll send me flame mail that mocks me for the right reasons.
    Again, on the whole, though, a fun show.  Full results are in the RAW Recap, if you missed 'em.
  • The rating for Monday's RAW reflects my idea that it was a fun, popcorn movie-type show...  the rating was up a few ticks, to a 3.7 average for the two-plus hours.  Just as encouraging, however, is the fact that momentum built steadily over the entire show, and the ratings peaked for the over-run.
    The fact that people tuned in and stuck around is a good sign.  In recent weeks, there have been examples of mass defections and ratings peaks in the middle of shows...  that viewership snowballed over time means people had fun and liked what they saw.
    The 3.7 is not just up from the previous week's 3.4, but it's also about as good a rating as RAW has gotten since the summertime boom ended in September.  No better time to pop a big rating than on the Monday before a PPV...
  • In addition to folks writing in to tell me that I sucked if I didn't like the Kane/Shane thing, a number also praised me for guessing right on the name of the restaurant.  It is, indeed, spelled "Kowloon's."  
    It's a fairly popular Chinese place in the north of Boston (funny, I thought the North End was run by the Italians?), and is especially popular with the wrestlers, who hang out there whenever the Fed is in town.  One guy even said that if you looked closely when Shane entered the restaurant, the wall behind him was covered with many signed 8"x10"s of WWE stars.
  • And I don't just mention that because I want Good Speller Bonus Points... I mention it because Kowloon's factored in to a post-RAW, ummm, "incident," that spilled onto the internet yesterday.
    Something about Mark Jindrak and Randy Orton drinking too much and getting into a big pull-apart brawl and Maven somehow being in the middle of it.  Pictures were even snapped by a fan, which made it online yesterday, too.
    My cursory investigation into this yielded me nothing but a "Eh, it was nothing" response.  Now, what I didn't know was if that was "they got drunk but didn't really mean anything by it" nothing, or "the thing has been blown way out of proportion" nothing, or some other kind of "nothing" that I had not yet conceived of.
    Well, today, the tale going around, and I think this one has its genesis at 1Wrestling.com, is that this was a "Orton, Jindrak, and Maven were just working the fans" nothing.  That's why the incident took place outside, and also why, if you look at the pictures, it doesn't seem like anybody's really too tense over the situation other than the wrestlers.
    What's not explained is why all three were wearing such ricockulous sweat suits.  Jeez, I mean, even Kane went out and bought a nice sweater for his visit to Kowloon's, guys, and you three all show up dressed like the 12th man on the bench who never gets into the game and never even gets out of his warm-ups.  
    FYI, the place I saw the pictures was brought to my attention by Jeb Lund in this OO Message Board thread.  But mostly, just file any "Orton Assaults Jindrak" stories you might hear under "The Ravings of an Uninformed Idiot."
  • Well, how about some Big Neck Injury News?  Because, you see, just like back in February, Edge and Kurt Angle are once again united in sharing Neck Injury Headlines.
    Unfortunately, at this juncture, only one of them has really good news....
    So we'll start with Edge, who last week announced that he has been cleared for in-ring work-outs following his surgery 7 months ago.  His hope is that he can work his way back into shape, knock of the rust, and be ready to go at 100% in time to be involved in storylines heading into WrestleMania 20.  That is certainly good news, as it puts Edge a good 2-4 months ahead of where I thought he'd be. 
    Not so good, however, is word out of Camp Angle, where Kurt has begun experiencing some neck pain again in the last few weeks.  He's being checked this week, and the exact details of what's going on in his neck are unknown at this time.
    The Fed fully expects Kurt will wrestle at Survivor Series, and the fact that Angle wrestled a full 8 minute singles match last night at SD! tapings speaks to the confidence that both WWE and Angle have that his condition is not too severe.
    But at the same time, you can't help but wonder if the miracle, "too good to be true" alternate surgical procedure Angle opted for back in April may, in fact, have been too good to be true.  While it succeeded in alleviating Angle's pain in the short term, and was endorsed by Scott Hall, Angle is the first still-fully-active wrestler to have gotten the procedure and then return to a full schedule.  Hall would have had no idea how the repairs would hold up to a four-day-a-week schedule.
    Though Angle has said nothing publicly about his neck in the last few weeks, some e-mails I got from people regarding recent Angle radio appearances take on a new heft given this latest development...  they've said Angle, though acknowledging that he has four years left on his WWE contract, talked about his career being almost a week-to-week proposition, and that he did not seem optimistic about actually reaching 2007 as an active wrestler.  He considered his past year to be his best in terms of performance, so far, but also his worst in terms of his body betraying him.
    Angle's gonna get my "most favorite wrestler of the year" vote again this year... so, on a purely selfish note, you better believe I don't much enjoy the thought of him having to excuse himself from the business at such an early juncture.  Remember: as awesome as Angle is, and for everything he's accomplished, this weekend is still only his Four Year Anniversary in WWF/E (and he only trained for about a year previous to that). Just four years.  Unfortunately, his previous life as an Olympian didn't exactly do his body any favors, either, and his broken neck from back then is no doubt the genesis of the problems he's facing today.
  • Ric Flair was absent from RAW on Monday night because of the death of his mother over the weekend.  Of course, I'm sure fans all over the world join me in sending sincere condolences to the Nature Boy.
    Flair will be back for Survivor Series this weekend, according to current thinking.
  • Also grieving this week is Steven Richards, Crash Holly's close friend (and, at the time of Crash's death, his landlord, too)....  Richards worked some of that out of his system in a match taped Monday night: in a win against Rico, Richards wrestled in the style of Crash, especially in his pre- and post-match mannerisms.  After the match, reports are that Steven was very emotional and gesturing skyward, and that Victoria even had to prop him up at one moment.
    The heartfelt gesture from Richards, however, will likely go unseen by the vast majority of WWE fans.  This Sunday's Heat will be live from Dallas, and the Richards/Rico match will only air on overseas editions of Heat.
  • Something else from tapings that won't be on TV... at least not this week.  For the second week in a row, Shannon Moore and Sean O'Haire worked together as a tag team, albeit in a dark match.  This, of course, is fueling the rapidly-intensifying speculation that Matt Hardy is set to jump ship to RAW, and will do so without Shannon. 
    I'm a big fan of the idea, since (a) Matt's really been doing nothing on SD!, and (b) he can jump right into the Lita/Christian deal on RAW.  If it's gonna happen, it'll happen on Sunday night, where the RAW and SD! rosters mesh for just the second time in the last six months.  What's cool is that not only could Matt figure into secondary things like Lita's title match, but if he decides to cross Christian, he might find himself as a difference maker in the five-on-five main event, which would be an instant upgrade from his SD! status as Zach's designated jobber.
    FYI: you can get the rest of the dark, Velocity, and SmackDown! tapings results from last night in the Spoilers.
  • Might as well mention the other oft-mentioned speculation about major character changes at Survivor Series... that the Undertaker may be buried alive, only to return as his old "dark side" self, complete with supernatural tendencies and all.
    For all my professed resistance to the idea, there is a growing sentiment that this is where WWE is headed, and that Old School Taker will be back by Royal Rumble.  My resistance, as you'll recall is based on the idea that Taker bringing back his old gimmick is something that would only work (in my opinion) for a short while, and thus, should have been saved for his farewell run.  Having not heard anything to that affect, I'm not of the mind that Taker is entering his stretch run, so therefore, I was not keen on the idea when I first heard it...
    Well, OO Reader Stephen, passed along a modified idea that just might get me to change my tune.  The Fed probably realizes that just bringing back the old Taker isn't a recipe for long term success, too... but Stephen reasons that a sort of melding of the Dead Man and the BikerTaker could be perfect.  You get the cheap pop that the return of the Dead Man motif (complete, I have to assume, with a Funky Death March Remix of the old Taker theme), but you also don't paint yourself into a corner of reviving all kinds of the sucky things that the old Taker was in on (crucifixions, feuds over urns, et al).  You keep the Harley, for instance, and play up a "Ghost Rider" vibe...
    Yes... yes, indeed, that could work.  Color me....  at least open minded on this front, now.
  • And finally today, a quick shout-out to TNA... they are trying to build a bunch of interest and momentum as they prepare for a big Sunday night PPV event sometime in 2004.  But until Hulk Hogan shows up, they'll keep on dragging out other stars to try to snag a few casual fan buys.
    Tonight, that means Lex Luger makes his first PPV wrestling appearances since the death of Elizabeth and his arrest on drug charges.  He'll play the heel and team up with Jeff Jarrett against Sting and AJ Styles in the next phase of the "Jimmy Hart keeps throwing stuff at Jarrett until Hogan's ready to show up" storyline.
    You might not expect a lot out of Luger in the ring, but his participation should help TNA continue with the Big Show Atmosphere they've been building lately.
    And then, for your in-ring work, you turn to the X Division, where you'll have the next two matches in the "Triple Chance" four-week-long dealy:  it'll be Christopher Daniels vs. Lo Ki in a match that could steal the show if it's presented right, and also Chad Collyer vs. Sonjay Dutt (who I guess is replacing Chris Sabin).
    Also tonight:  Raven and a Mystery Partner take on Don Callis' security guys...  AMW vs. Killings/James vs. Siaki/Ekmo vs. Punk/Dinero in a match to determine the #1 Tag Team contenders... and Abyss vs. Don Harris.
    Check out the show or come on back later in the week for Damian Gonzalez's recap here at OO.  He had technical difficulties last week, but should be back on the job this week.
  • And with that, I'm out.  PPV Preview and, if there is any, other news in Friday's column.  Till then....


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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