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RAW, Ratings, Tons of TNA (but No
More bOOby Talk), and Other News
February 4, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


After going overboard on Monday, here is my pledge to you today: no more titty talk.  Not about Janet Jackson's bionic booby, not about Jackie or Tammy, or even about the way Lawler and Coach stunk up the joint on a few occasions on RAW because they couldn't stop talking about the puppies.

Let's keep it classy, alright?  Or at least, as classy as a whisky-binging, rock 'n' rolling, anti-social asshole such as myself can keep it...

  • Let's maybe do this thing in reverse today.  We'll talk RAW, ratings, and WWE at the end, and START with NWA-TNA...
    We've been talking a bit about their plans to go forward with a full-price 3-hour PPV this spring.  After their holiday hiatus, the company resigned itself to not having access to Hulk Hogan, and decided to push forward with an alternate plan.
    It's actually a few alternate plans kind of cobbled together, as they try to come up with a total package that has the drawing power that Hogan would have had.  So that's meant pretty solid rumors that TNA will be having country singer Toby Keith on the show to get a little mainstream appeal, and will be plumbing the depths of unemployed superstars to fill in for Hogan.
    We surmised that guys like Sting, Roddy Piper, and Lex Luger, who've already worked for TNA would be on the bill.  I've heard tell that it'd be a safe assumption to expect the company to be in touch with Kevin Nash and/or Scott Hall.  And today, it looks like TNA is dead-set on coming to terms with Randy "Macho Man" Savage as their top guest star.
    One discussion I had characterized Savage's proposed involvement as being VERY similar to what TNA wanted to do with Hogan at slight discount versus Hogan's asking price.  In other words, Savage would contribute a handful of taped bits and maybe an in-arena appearance or two on Wednesday night TNA shows leading up to the big PPV, where he would then get the main event NWA Title Match against Jeff Jarrett.
    Although it's basically been 4 years since Savage has done anything resembling an active wrestling schedule, I'd suspect that a Savage/Jarrett match stands to be superior to Hogan/Jarrett from a performance perspective...  all reports are that Savage remains in outstanding physical condition to this day, and I think whatever TNA would lose in terms of box office appeal SHOULD be made up for by the fact that they're getting a guy who can step in and deliver a credible 15-plus minute match if it's asked of him.
    Because of the way TNA got burned by announcing Hogan's participation without actually having the ink dried on a contract, the company might not be in a hurry to acknowledge Savage's involvement tonight, or even next week.  They'll get this thing sealed before doing that.
    They're targeting an April 4 PPV date, which means they've got 8 weeks to build, anyway.  Hell, 8 weeks: that's a few weeks longer than they had last fall when they announced Hogan and a November PPV date in like mid-October....
    At present, the plan is to hold the show at a military base in Kentucky, where a guy like Toby Keith would certainly go over huge with a patriotic crowd in the high four-digits.
    More on TNA's big full-priced PPV as they actually confirm the details...  after last fall, I'm not gonna rush to analyze their plans until we know for sure it's gonna happen.
  • Tonight's TNA show doesn't look like it'll feature much in the way of foundation building to the "superstar" elements the company will introduce for the April PPV, although it's a show that looks like it might be helping to flesh out the eventual undercard for such an event.
    To wit, Terry Funk will be making his TNA debut tonight, in a match with Sandman vs. CM Punk and Julio Dinero.  A guy like Funk isn't a main event draw at this point, but you couldn't deny the value and symbolism of having Funk (who was integral to launching ECW on PPV in 1997) around in a cursory brawl on TNA's big-time PPV debut...
    Also debuting tonight (in the ring): the Insane Clown Posse.  The rappers, who also had stints in all of the Big Three in the late 90s, will be facing Glen Gilberti and David Young.  Their on-going involvement in TNA can be debated in terms of whether their backstage demeanor and in-ring value... but what ICP always brings is an intensely loyal set of fans who will be counted on to bring a handful of extra buys TNA's way.
    Another element of the show that'll debut tonight: "Survivor" cast-off Jonny Fairplay will begin a little interview segment that is probably SUPPOSED to recall "Piper's Pit," on the grounds that TNA intends to have Piper involved for the big April PPV, and who better for him to work with than Fairplay?  [Not just because it's a deal where both guys are better suited to talking than to actual working, but also because they have a history... Fairplay used to be Piper's personal assistant, or something.]
    They've also got: Abyss vs. El Leon...  Jeff Jarrett vs. a Mystery Opponent...  and hopefully SOME kind of X Division action to help tease next week's promising "America's Cup" tourney.
    So, check it out if you can.  TNA's again screwed as far as This Fan is concerned...  Wednesdays are A-10 basketball nights for me (round 2 versus the hated Richmond Spiders takes precedence!).  New World Poker Tour shows starting last week aren't gonna help, either....
  • Spoilers for last night's SD! tapings in Cleveland are available right here.  I'm not sure if I'd say I'm psyched up for the show, as it sounds on paper... but if nothing else, SD! did make a few noteworthy booking moves that might surprise you.
    One's plain stunning to me... but the other opened the door for my mind to immediately race to a "dream scenario" every bit as far fetched as Bret Hart in Chris Benoit's corner at WM20, but also every bit as satisfying.  I'd say more, except that this column is Spoiler Free.
    I'll explain on Friday.  Or you can check the tapings report.
  • The vast majority of the RAW crew landed in Japan for their tour yesterday... they'll do three shows, and head on back here in time for Monday's live RAW.
    The always-brutal overseas tour schedule will hopefully go more smoothly than SD!'s recent Asia tour (which was so rough that it drove Nathan Jones to quit the biz... and sadly, John Heidenreich is NOT on this tour).
    On star missing from the tour: Trish Stratus, who WAS originally scheduled, but pulled out because the tour conflicted with a previous charity engagement.  I'm not sure if I'm supposed to think it's funny, but in a big write-up commenting on Trish's forced absence, they make it sound like Trish is a total martyr for doing this.  Yeah, staying home in Canada and doing a one-night charity thing is BRUTAL compared to flying half-way around the globe and working three matches, then coming home on no sleep and having to get back into the normal swing of things....
  • WWE, today, officially acknowledged that the April Backlash PPV will be held in Edmonton, AB, Canada.  The RAW-only show was already known to be headed there, but WWE's announcement today takes on added significance now that Chris Benoit's jump to RAW has been finalized and he can headline that PPV in his home town.
    Already, folks are speculating that HHH/Benoit (be it a rematch, or a one-on-one deal following a three-way WM20 match) or HBK/Benoit (using Canada's bizarro world tendancies to book Shawn as a heel for this event only) would work great for the show....
  • Bafflingly, the "WWE Originals" CD remains in the Billboard top 40 in its third week on sale.  After it debuted with a big week and poor reviews (from an acknowledged Music Expert like myself, even), I expected a huge drop off.
    Well, sales halved in the second week, which wasn't as bad as I'd have guessed, and then they held about steady in the third week.  So kudos to WWE for managing to use its TV outlets (especially Confidential, and new ring entrances for Jericho and Booker) to convince fans to throw their money away, I guess...
  • And lastly for today, a quick look back at Monday's RAW...
    It was mostly a tale of two halves, with the opening hour kind of sputtering at times (no real outstanding wrestling content, and that abortion of a match/announcing job during Rico/Dupree) and the second hour kicking a minor amount of ass (three good matches, good stories with "frustrated Hardy" and the next phase of Jericho/Trish/Christian, and much-improved announcing).
    I think that RAW's WM20 plans remain a bit cloudier than I'd like, and the plans they SEEM to have aren't necessarily the right ones... for instance, I get the vibe that HHH/HBK/Benoit is still just as likely an option as HHH/Benoit straight-up, and that's not a good idea.  WM isn't the time for 3-ways and gimmickry.  So accepting that I don't want HBK muddying the waters, a second problem pops up: that RAW's 2nd most valuable performer doesn't have anything cool to do on the biggest show of the year.  I'd endorse the idea of consolidating the "part time workers," though, in a Rock/Foley/Michaels vs. Orton/Batista/Flair match...  something to think about.
    And like it or not, RAW's #1 MVP, Chris Jericho, is gonna be well away from the main event picture at WM20.  Good as the angle and match might be, Jericho vs. Christian just doesn't have a whole lot of cache.  So that was another mildly frustrating part of the show Monday...  even with a solidly entertaining Hour Two, I'm not quite feeling the serious pre-WM anticipation.  But they've got time.
    You can get the full results from last night, including my more detailed thoughts and analysis, in yesterday's RAW Recap.
  • Oh, and because I promised: the rating for Monday night was a 3.7 cable rating.  That's down 0.3 from the post-Rumble score, and a bit closer to RAW's recent average though still on the high side.  We'll have to see if they maintain this momentum all the way through to WM.
  • See you Friday.... 


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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