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RAW/Ratings, Lesnar Needs Break,
Goldberg, and Other MidWeek News
December 17, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


So I just read about how an attempted recreation of the Wright Brothers first flight failed this morning down in North Carolina, at the precise moment of the 100th anniversary of their successful flight.

I would just like to take this chance to remind everybody that this is what North Carolina gets for putting the Wright Flyer and "First in Flight" on their state quarter and on their license plates a few years ago.  The first airplane was conceived of, designed, and built right here, in Dayton, OH.  Thumbs Up.  Cheap pop.  North Carolina, you are "First in Adequate Barren, Open Space and Wind."  Nothing more.  Remember it.  

Orville and Wilbur smote you from the heavens today, and justly, says I!  God bless those Flying Briars!

To your credit, NC, you are much more accomplished in the field of professional wrestling than Ohio.  If only you'd done the right thing and just put four fingers and "Whoo!" on the back of your quarter, I'd have had nothing but good things to say about you here at the top of the column.....

  • So a day later, and I gather people are slowly coming around on the ending of Monday's RAW.  At least, the immediate resentment I saw in the first 12 hours before I did the Recap is gone, and people are actually getting into the spirit of the Cliffhanger... trying to figure out what motivated Foley to walk out and what will happen next.
    It was a calculated risk by WWE.  But in this case, they bet wisely.  Mick Foley is one of the few personalities (distinct, I think from "characters") that could do something like this and have us caring about it.  A "character" does it, and the cheapness of it is the defining aspect of the non-finish.  A "personality" does it, and we find ourselves caring about the reasons why.  I hope that makes some sense.
    My point is that Mick Foley is real enough a person to most fans that we can get vested when he does something "real," like get nervous or scared about what might happen if he wrestles his first match in four years.  A wrestling gimmick or "character" is supposed to be larger than life and have balls of steel, and piss us off if he did something like this... but it's not quite the same with Foley.  I don't think the story will end up being that he was afraid of what Orton might do to him in the match... but rather, like I said in the recap, that he was afraid of what the Business might do to him if he let it back into his blood (per HBK's talk earlier in the night).  It might seem subtle and underwhelming to you now, but I think that slant could really result in Foley eventual in-ring return being so much more special and engrossing than it would have been last night against Orton.
    And that's a good thing.
    I even like the idea that, when it happens, Foley's in-ring return is not as "Mick Foley."  That Mick Foley, the Man, the Father, the Husband, just can't bring himself to risk his family life by letting wrestling get its claws back in him and on his already-tortured body.  He's been just "Mick" to us for so long that it's hard to remember that he only ever wrestled two WWF matches free of his "three faces."  His farewell match and one brawl against Terry Funk when he was in a transitionary storyline.  It's actually LIKELY in my mind that one of those other personalities would step up and go over top of "Mick Foley" to set up his return match.  The percentages are in favor of that happening.  The only thing I'd suggest: the percentages of it being "Dude Love" who is called into action are as close to zero as makes no difference.
    Anyway, I'm glad to have seen some more of that reflective "what if?" type of e-mail in the last day, instead of the "that was bullshit" type of e-mail I got right after RAW.  It took me a little bit to cool down, too, but now I think that we might be heading in a very positive direction with Mick's role as RAW heads to WM.
    What else did I like: the whole mess with Jericho, Christian, Trish, and Kane was well done, all around.  Moving ahead with Jericho/Christian should provide the sort of "wrestling context" that keeps Jericho/Trish from spending too much time sliding towards a "bad teen movie context."  Kane was just a tool in the proceedings, but given that they probably can't go full speed with Kane vs. Evolution (the only logical direction after the PPV) because Kane has to stay a heel so he can feud with Taker in starting in a few weeks, this was a nice way to use him to tell the mini-story of Jericho being distracted and out of sorts.  And because Jericho was doing the distracted and out of sorts thing, Kane was allowed to kick his ass in Monster Fashion, which actually helps to position him heading towards the Taker feud.
    And the five man tag... you know what?  It might end up being Match of the Week.  I've seen the spoilers, and there will be good, but nothing great, on SD!...  which means I'm probably left picking between the five man on RAW and the Orton/RVD PPV match.  It's a virtual coin-flip, between those two.  When my only complaint is that Shawn Michaels work outside the ring on the apron was subpar, that's a pretty good match, especially on free TV.
    Good effort for RAW.  Some things still feel like they are just being thrown out there without much forethought (Hardy/Henry vs. Booker/Maven, Goldberg's Deactivation), but the top part of the show, the stuff involving Evolution and the title belts and Foley, has direction...  that's something I appreciate, too.
    The full recap from Monday is right here, if you need the details.
  • The rating on Monday night was a 3.5 cable rating, down a full 0.3 from the week before.  This is bad for a few reasons.  First, because this was the night after a PPV, and the drop from the week before pretty much screams, "Well, nobody cared to come on back and find out what happened at the PPV."  Either that or, "Even the people who did decide to check out the PPV didn't care for what they saw and didn't tune in to see what happens next."  Neither one is good news.  And second, there two PPV-caliber drawing cards in the five man and Foley's return match, and neither resulted in fans swarming to RAW.
    Could just be that we've entered the holiday lull: college kids traveling back home, and not tuning in from school, people setting up Christmas trees, or out doing shopping... who the hell knows?  There, are, simply put, other things to be doing this time of year than watching wrestling. 
  • Next week's RAW will be a recap show, as they announced on Monday night.  That'll mean another nose dive for ratings, I'm sure...  and can someone explain to me how Kane vs. Shane from Survivor Series was listed in the "great matches" teaser with another dubious choice or two, if I recall?
    Seriously, I know RAW is the "great moment" entertainment show, but that doesn't mean they should gloss over the actual good matches the brand put on in favor of the ones that were part of the "important stories."  What of Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff?  Or RVD/Christian (IC ladder)?  Those two, along with Jericho/HBK (WM19, which they DID list) are like THE matches for RAW this past year, I think....
    And I have a sinking feeling they'll try to convince us that vast portions of Kane's unmasking didn't suck, too....  and they'll be wrong.  You want to go "entertainment"?  How about tossing 90% of the Kane stuff and putting in just about everything the Rock did while he was a heel? 
    Again, I'm not saying there's not 2 hours worth of good, memorable RAW stuff I'd like to relive on Monday... I'm just saying that the 2 hours WWE serves up will bear little resemblance to my 2 hours.
    OK, OK... I realize I am now ranting without any good reason.  Why don't I at least wait until after the show on Monday before I bitch about it?
  • Goldberg's de-activation, by the way, is not necessarily the omen of bad things to come that headlines on other sites might have you believe.
    Did Goldberg have a sit-down with Vince between the PPV and RAW?  Yes.  Is Goldberg displeased with the direction of his character and his pay-outs?  Yes.  But that doesn't mean his displeasure combined with the decision to "de-activate" him is part of a broader scheme to write him out for good.
    Goldberg has a commitment to work Japan on January 4, which likely would have kept him off TV for at least one RAW over the next 30 days, anyway.  Another of those Monday's is next week's recap show.  Goldberg would not have been central to the next month of RAW, anyway, is what I'm saying.
    My understanding is that both Goldberg and WWE view this arrangement as a chance to do a "reset" on Goldberg's character and position in WWE.  The "de-activation" was a late change to RAW, and was the compromise that best suited both sides.  Instead of having Goldberg in cursory things (due to his overseas trip) heading into the Rumble, they can basically start with a clean slate at that point, should they so choose.
    Yes, there are movie and contract considerations, and yes, there's a chance they may converge to result in Goldberg fading off the WWE radar, but my understanding is that wouldn't come till after WM20, if it happens at all this year.  Honestly, the impression I get from people is that both sides want this to be a clean slate and that Goldberg will be back on TV, contributing at and/or after the Royal Rumble.
    I can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that Triple H is intensely anti-Goldberg and wants WWE to dissolve its relationship with him.  I didn't even want to mention it, but the truth is, I can't help myself.  I know it's going around, and I'd love to perpetrate it to see if I can make the internet smarks' collective head explode.  HHH or Goldberg:  you must side with one or the other!!!  Aaaiiiiyeeeeeee!  
  • Some news about Brock Lesnar...  he's having a couple of surgeries over the holidays.  He's getting a knee and an elbow scoped.  This is a minor procedure, just cleaning up, not major structural stuff...
    It's sort of the same deal that Kurt Angle (as champ) did last December.  He won the title, then promptly got a knee scoped.  He missed a month, and was back at the Rumble, kicking MAJOR ass against Chris Benoit.  The last guy to have something like this done was Shelton Benjamin, who missed exactly 4 weeks of in-ring action.
    Lesnar will not be going to Iraq with the skeleton SD! crew, but will have the surgeries within the next week, instead.  He will return to TV in a non-wrestling capacity probably at the 1/6 SD! tapings (and who knows? he's a tough SOB and might even be there doing backstage/pre-tape stuff at 12/30 tapings if he's cleared to travel).
    And then, believe it or not, when he returns to in-ring action at the Royal Rumble PPV, it'll PROBABLY be against Bob Holly.  You know, if Holly gets unsuspended and all that.  I'd hate to say for sure, because you might interpret that as a Spoiler.  I guess the Rumble is the one PPV where the WWE Title match does not have to be main event caliber... the 30 man Rumble almost always fills the top spot.
    Unless, of course, you LIKE Spoilers.  If so, they were posted RIGHT HERE earlier today.
  • Speaking of Iraq, the SD! crew will do a show for the troops, and the headline match will be Big Show defending the US Title against John Cena.  The show will air on UPN on Christmas night here in the States.

    They aren't taking the full production/creative team over to Iraq, obviously, so there won't be the same sorts of skits/storylines, resulting in more of a "televised house show" feel, with alot of other filler stuff, too (messages from troops, etc), added in in post-production. 
    But indications are that the show will be part of the SD! "canon," if you will, and not a completely out-of-character/storyline-free program like the post-Owen and post-9/11 shows were.  You know, it wouldn't totally shock me if they didn't try to special-up the visit to the troops with a US Title change...
    Maybe I need to retract my disinterest in this show....
  • Speaking of Iraq again, and of trying to special up the holiday show: Kurt Angle is already over there on a USO tour that kicked off yesterday (Robin Williams is the headliner).  Angle, out of action for the last 5 weeks after surgery to clean up some bone chips in his neck, should hook up with the SD! crew for their show later this week.  Having Angle's TV return come in Iraq would certainly be a bit of a surprise...
    I'd heard the plan was to have Angle back at the 12/30 or 1/6 tapings, re-introducing him to storylines heading into an in-ring return at the Rumble PPV.  Guess again, huh?
  • WWE is giving Mick Foley the DVD treatment next...  a 2-disc set will be out early next year, and will definitely be worth the price.  It'll be the first really "definitive" Foley video project, because as good as previous WWF/E releases were, they were limited to WWF/E.
    This DVD will include WCW and ECW footage, featuring a lot of classic Cactus Jack.  I know they will have one segment focused on Jack vs. Vader from WCW... for some reason, if I were a betting man, I'd guess that they'd somehow misplace or forget "Lost in Cleveland."  Either that, or make it an easter egg.  I mean, if they can hide the "Blow Away" thing on HBK's DVD, "Lost in Cleveland" isn't that much worse....
  • Tonight is TNA's last show of the year... they will not be doing shows on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve.  Actually, I think there will be replay/recap TNA shows in the usual Wednesday night slots.  I believe it's "Best of the X Title" on Christmas Eve and the rest of that week... then a more generic "Best of 2003" show on New Year's Eve and replayed the rest of that week.  I'm not positive, but I remember getting a memo along those lines...  but check your local listings.
    But that's for later.  We're talking about tonight.
    TNA's sending 2003 out in style (but not, strangely, in Styles... HA!), with Jeff Jarrett POSSIBLY defending the NWA Title against the returning Sting (the title/non-title thing is not clear).  The two kicked off a rivalry about 2 months ago last time Sting was around for a few weeks.  Last week, in his haste to not want to defend his title against AJ Styles or D'Lo Brown, Jarrett agreed to face someone who wasn't those guys... at which point, Erik Watts announced that Sting would be back this week to take the shot.  D'oh.  Should be good stuff.
    Also on the show: Michael Shane vs. Lo Ki in an X Title match...  Styles/D'Lo vs. Simon/Swinger in a match where the winner can get his "holiday wish" on a future TNA show...  America's Most Wanted vs. Glen Gilberti/David Young in a street fight...  Raven/CM Punk/Julio Dinero vs. Abyss/Legend/Northcutt in a cage match (if Raven wins, he gets an NWA Title shot)...  and in what could steal the show, Christopher Daniels will face Chris Sabin.
    Sadly, Damian Gonzalez has had to step down from TNA recapping duties.  I thank him for his enthusiastic (but still balanced and intelligent) recaps of the TNA shows this year...  and I'm also looking for someone else who catches these shows every week and would be willing to step into Damian's rather big shoes.  Drop me a line if you're interested.
  • That's it for me today.  The Year End stuff... starts tomorrow!
    OO Award Fever: Catch It!


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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