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RAW Ratings/Fall-Out, WWE and Debates,
And Other Midweek News...
September 29, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


On Friday, I'll be too busy coming up with ingenious schemes to trick y'all into thinking the No Mercy PPV is WAY more interesting than it really is as part of the Team Coverage PPV Preview... 
So as I sit here with my window open, and 60-degree air blowing in at 4 in the afternoon (and a forecast that sounds DELICIOUS for this weekend), allow me to say Welcome To October a couple days early.  The best weather month of the year, the best sports month of the year (Jeb's Marlins won't be stepping up, but perhaps the Cubs Fan's titular team or Erin Anderson's 

Braves will provide the World Series competition for The Rick's Yankees, and give us another blOOd Feud this October?), and also the calm-before-the-storm month (before we get into the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's holiday corridor). What's not to love?

I know what's not to love... any more than the bare minimum amount of Rick Rambling. So here, have some wrestling:

  • For as much glee as you folks seem to think I take in pointing out Randy Orton's foibles, I guess it's only fair if I take a second day in a row to congratulate him on one hell of a RAW. I just wish you folks would realize that for the past four months, my thesis has NOT been "Randy Orton Sucks," but rather it's been "Randy Orton may be better than I think, but he's getting screwed over by the creative team which has mishandled his push quite badly."
    On Monday night, did Orton perform well and actually seem like he belonged in the main event picture?  Yes, and I'd argue it was for the very first time ever.  But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that it's also one of the rare times when he was given something compelling to do...  as much as this was a breakthrough performance by Orton, it was also just nice to see the RAW creative team displaying at least a partial grasp on what it might take to have Orton connect with an audience.
    Not only did they stick him in the ring with Ric Flair for an intense promo that oozed genuine-ness (genuity?), but in doing so, they briefly flirted with creating at least SOME kind of a story that would back up Orton's flaccid feud with Evolution.  And on top of that, they closed out the show with an angle that (unfortunately) closed the door on some of those storyline possibilities, but opened others.  Yes, I would have loved to have seen WWE play things a little different on RAW so as to build interest for FUTURE weeks, and that would have meant NOT killing off the Orton-talking-sense-to-Flair story so fast.  But with Orton losing the way he did, he suddenly is written out of the #1 Contender Voting, which is something that HAS to count as a nice little twist considering how blatantly WWE was telegraphing that they wanted fans to vote for Orton.
    Of course, does Orton STAY written out of the voting? I don't know... I'd think that next week, the obvious play would be to get Shelton Benjamin into Orton's slot in the voting.  But a week after that? Well, let's just say neither Shawn Michaels nor Edge really fits into the World Title picture, and either could vacate his spot in the voting (Edge could even simply be an injury-removal, while Michaels' decision could be a storyline thing where he's too focused on Christian and/or the IC Title) opening the door for Orton again.  All I know is that for as exciting and unpredictable as Monday's RAW was, WWE might have shot themselves in the foot because they did NOTHING to promote any one of the other 3 active choices for that voting.
    In addition to having questions about whether or not this excellent RAW really did much to position us for more cool stuff in the near term (re: blowing off Flair/Orton too soon, writing Orton out but not pumping up any of the other #1 contender options), I think it's also a shame that it came down to tossing that Flair/Orton thing out there with absolutely zero context.  The missteps of the past few weeks and months are only underscored when you look at how easily Orton and Flair grabbed the fans' attention and made them care about Evolution Issues in a way that I really don't think they had till that night.  If somebody had been paying attention and telling a story with Orton, HHH, and Flair all along, the ultimate face-off, Monday's promo, would have been EVEN MORE impressive.  Instead, it comes out of left field. And after the finish on Monday, it goes right back there, too.
    I don't mean to sound like I'm inventing complaints about RAW... but I also refuse to prostitute my good sense by lavishing unconditional praise on a show just because they got it right for the first time in a long time on Monday.  RAW was outstanding, and outstanding in unexpected ways, but that doesn't undo months of frustratingly off-the-mark shows. And it also doesn't guarantee that they can continue to get it right.  I'll call Monday's RAW the "Criticism Killer," but I'll reserve grander observations and praise for the day when we see that this is the start of a sustainable period of excellence.  Because they've already pissed away Orton/Flair, which was the best part of Monday; we can't build on those successes, cuz the wad has been shot.  We're left to work with the left-overs...  
    Other thoughts from outside the main event picture of RAW:
    Christian pinning Michaels in that tag match REALLY revs things up in this 3-way IC Title picture... but it also kinda throws a monkey wrench in Michaels being in the World Title voting. Not only does it look bad to have Michaels ostensibly at the World Title level, but dropping falls to Christian, but it also just doesn't make sense to dangle Michaels out there as a contender to HHH when his energy SHOULD be spent on building up existing feuds.  That's kinda confusing, though at the end of the day what counts is that they had a sweet freaking tag match, and next week, it's Christian vs. Michaels in what should be an excellent one-on-one match.  The rest maybe festers in my brain, but does nothing to take away from my enjoyment of the product....
    Against all odds, I think they can milk Gene Snitsky till the PPV, now.  I was pissed when he didn't get his ass handed to him the VERY NIGHT he chairshotted Kane, but now I'm very pleased that we've had the chance for this to play out over a longer timeframe.  They're doing a great job making Snitsky seem disposable-yet-still-boo-able, and Kane, when he's booked right, has such copious badassitude that the fans will eat it up when he's on the rampage.  The less we have to deal with Lita and baby-talk, the better; the more we get "Snitsky is a dead man," also the better.  They won't put on any great wrestling exhibition when they finally lock up, but I'm guessing Kane vs. Snitsky will be fun in all other kinds of ways.
    I'm sort of expecting the same "not necessarily good, but fun" outcome from Bischoff vs. Eugene.  I just wish they'd quit "telegraphing" the Haircut Stip, because I'm serious: I think the Butler Stipulation would be WAY funnier.  One reader did write in with an interesting observation: that maybe the haircut thing is being pushed because WWE wants to "punish" Bischoff for an incident at the last PPV where he left early (and without permission)... I don't know, that might be something I could see motivating WWE, considering how moronically hierarchized and ritualized the wrestling subculture is with all their silly "unwritten rules" and retaliatory ribs and stuff...  but I could also see it just as easily being a deal where they might be pushing it so Eugene gets a haircut, if they wanted to try changing up his character a bit (a haircut could be a gateway to a heel turn, maybe?), which is something that has supposedly been in discussions as management realizes they may have over-exposed this current iteration of Eugene.  We'll see... at this point, the only thing I AM sure about after Monday is that WWE apparently DOES want us to vote for the haircutting stipulation...
    Another thing I was sure about Monday was that it was the most fun I've had watching RAW in a good, long time.  I had a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach knowing there was no way around doing the recap and eating some crow in the issue of Randy Orton, but like I said yesterday: once I thought about it, this was a case where I actually didn't mind being wrong. Getting caught with my foot in my mouth is a small price to pay for WWE getting it that right, at least for one night, on RAW.
    If you want the full, complete details of Monday's show (including a COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT of the Flair/Orton promo, thanks to The Cubs Fan), check out the OO RAW Recap.
  • The rating for Monday's show was a 3.5 cable rating...  that's a nearly-insignificant dip of 0.1 from the week before,  but pretty much right in line with RAW's 5-week moving average.  And *that* continues to be a "moral victory," I think.
    As discussed in the past two weeks, every week RAW holds onto it's August audience now that Monday Night Football and the new fall season have started, it's about the best WWE can hope for.  They aren't growing the audience, maybe, but they're not losing anybody to the suddenly-stiff competition, either...
  • A few fall-out-y notes from RAW.
    First, Lita was actually expected to be on RAW, but due to a miscommunication, she didn't know about it until too late. She thought she'd been given the week off, but in fact, WWE changed its creative plans during the last week and wanted her there.  By the time the miscommunication was discovered, there was no way for Lita to get to Kansas City on time for the show...
    So there's your reason why the Kane promo seemed kind of thin and pointless (besides being a chance to once again hit the "Snitsky is a dead man" punchline)...  it was re-written just prior to showtime to eliminate Lita.
  • Which brings me to a second point.  Yes, RAW was in Kansas City; at the Kemper Arena, no less.  Five years ago, this is the arena in which Owen Hart died.  Some of you knew it, I'm guessing others of you didn't, and for my part, it was just one of those transient things that DID pass through my mind during the opening crowd shot, and then it went away.
    Because it was five years ago.  And after a quick, selfish, "Man, I wish Owen was still alive and wrestling today" thought, it really had no bearing on anything else that happened on RAW.
    But not so for some of you.  I got a bunch of REALLY pissy, self-righteous e-mails from idiots claiming that WWE had been almost criminally insensitive on Monday.  I actually had to read and re-read to even comprehend what they were getting at, because they made so little sense.

    Apparently, Kane's promo, in which he talked about his son being dead, was somehow TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE for a wrestling show in Kansas City.  Because of Owen Hart.
    Hopefully, about 98% of you are out there, shaking your head, wondering what the hell I'm talking about.  But chew on it, and even if you can't find or fabricate an angle, just take my word for it: a lot of people were REALLY pissed off by this.
    And look, morons, you'll have a hard time finding a bigger Owen Hart fan than me. I'll do anything I can to honor his memory and defend his legacy, whatever it takes to make sure wrestling fans fully appreciate what Owen was all about. And with all that said, I must also state clearly and for the record: at NO point during Kane's promo did Owen's name even REMOTELY cross my mind.  
    The two things simply had NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER.  And if you're sitting there behind a keyboard trying to say otherwise, I really, honestly think you need to have some sense slapped into you.  I think even Owen's family -- the people who cared more about him than any thousand of us fans together ever could -- would have been able to watch Kane do that promo, and not been bothered even a bit.  It's been five years; the wound, though still present, isn't so gaping that the concepts of "death" and "Kansas City" can't be proximate to each other without setting off a knee-jerk emotional reaction.
    How does Kane talking about a dead son SPECIFICALLY evoke Owen, people?  If you still think you have a point, then c'mon, seriously, let me know...  because in so far as I think of Owen as anything, I think of him as a BROTHER first, in the context of wrestling.  Sure he's Stu's son, but who's Stu to most of us? On the other hand, we ALL know Bret Hart...  which just enhances my impression that you're all REALLY reaching here, people.
    Like I said, during Kane's promo, this never occurred to me, not even for a second.  That it would occur to others was so baffling to me that I didn't understand the e-mails I got on the first read-throughs.  And the funniest thing of all: I actually DID think of Owen and predict some pissy e-mails, but it wasn't during Kane's promo, it was when Flair DARED to derogatorily reference Bret Hart in the very building where his brother died.
    I thought for SURE that would do it for some of you assclowns.  And, in case you're not grasping my sarcasm, you STILL would have been so very, very wrong.  But at least I would have seen it coming.
    Man alive, sometimes, the biological need of some wrestling fans to invent controversies and then take stands against them so as to prove their superiority over the unwashed masses is genuinely stunning. Because anybody who took the time to get pissed off about Kane's promo couldn't honestly have been doing it to defend Owen's memory; he was doing it to pat himself on the back for being so contentious.  I fricking HATE that.
    I won't ask anybody to get over 1999 and to get over Owen, cuz who really knows how different people cope.... but I'm gonna have to insist you fucking idiots get over yourselves. 
    And lest I ramble much further and get accused of MAGNIFYING a bullshit controversy so as to take a stand against it and make MYself look awesome, I'll just wrap it up. My piece is said.
  • In the Recap, I said if that third guy in the Eugene/Regal skit wasn't an indie wrestler, I'd eat a bug.  And kids, for about the 147th "I'll eat a bug" in a row, I'll not be dining on insect flesh tonight.
    Many, many readers have helpfully informed me that the haircut guy was "Ace Steele," who works for Ring Of Honor, and I THINK might have been on Heat a few times, too.
    Again, I may be the Wrestling Guru All The Kids Look Up To, but I definitely have my blind spots when it comes to paying attention to indies and b-shows, so.... well, I'd opine that I've done plenty of time over the past 20 years of being a fan, and I have my Hours.  And today, if that means I only want to watch what I REALLY like, well, whatchya gonna say about that?
  • Muhammad Hassan and his still-unnamed manager worked a dark match at RAW tapings, and reportedly were way over as heels.  Which goes to show just how easily some fans' buttons are pressed.  I'll reserve final judgment until I see how they play it on TV, but if they expect me to boo a guy just because he bows to Mecca before matches, they'll have to guess again.
    It's not so much a deal where I'd be offended by the gimmick itself (but then again, I hope by now you realize I just really don't offend easy at all; except when it comes to OTHER people getting offended easily, and THEN I'll fly off the handle on you bitches!)...  it's more a deal where I'd lump it in with some other recent WWE creations that I think are one-dimensional throwbacks to the 80s, which I'd hoped we'd moved past.  
    Then again, the gimmick is even MORE fodder for me if I ever get around to this massive Gimmick vs. Character piece I want to write soon... so maybe a "Thank You" to WWE for making it so damn easy.
    Also: my educated guess from Monday was correct.  The Hassan gimmick is, indeed, being portrayed by Swarthy American (and long time developmental project) Mark Magnus, and his manager is the genuinely-Iranian Shawn Daivari.
  • With the first of three Presidential Debates taking place tomorrow (Thursday) night, WWE and ABC are teaming up for an interesting little gimmick: they are promoting a John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Mick Foley debate.  JBL, as you might expect, is a Bush supporter; Foley is for Kerry.
    The debate is being held the University of Miami (FL), just as tomorrow's Presidential Debate will be. It kicks off at 10pm (eastern), and can be seen on TV.  Sort of.  It's on the ABCNewsNow network; and kids, I've got the juiced cable package and about a half-dozen news channels, and this ain't one of 'em.  So I'll assume that the vast majority of you are in the same boat...
    You can also use Real Player to watch ABCNewsNow's feed live on the internet.  Click here for details.
    I'm thinking I might actually hop online and check this out. Partly because I'm just a fan of "infotainment," and I'd like to see which half of that made-up word gets the emphasis here (I actually think if I was gonna do this debate with two wrestlers, these might be the two I'd pick, so I hope it actually IS kinds smart and on-topic, as well as periodically amusing).  But mostly because I want to see if Faarooq Jr. and Al Snow show up!
    HA HA!  I slay me.  But sadly, I slay nobody else!
  • While this potentially-entertaining "mock" debate will be seen on televisions in approximately 13 households, tomorrow's REAL debate will be seen on just about every broadcast network (and countless cable ones, as well).
    The two exceptions are UPN and the WB, which don't have national news coverage.  HOWEVER, folks tuning in tomorrow and expecting to find SmackDown!, MIGHT still have trouble.
    UPN affiliates in the biggest markets often DO have their own significant news department, and some will be pre-empting SD! in favor of showing the Debate.  I know New York City, for certain, is affected, and will NOT get SD! in its regular timeslot. Don't know about anywhere else, though I'd imagine the top 10 markets are probably the only ones where you're really in any danger.  Outside of those, most UPN affiliates aren't strong enough to have serious news coverage...
    So keep an eye on local listings, just in case SD!'s moving around on you this week.
  • And a word about SD!: tapings were in Wichita last night, and I did get one report, but it was a really quick summary, prefaced with something like "I'm sure you got a bunch of these, but just a few of my observations."  Which just goes to show what happens when you assume!
    For future reference, folks, if you're gonna go ahead and send me a tapings report, go ahead and take the time to do it up right!  More information is always better than less!  And plus, if you do a REALLY good job, sometimes I'll just republish an entire single tapings report instead of cobbling it together myself, and you might become semi-famous as a result!  YEE HAW!
    Anyway, moral of the story: between the sketchiness of my lone report and how late I'm running today (due to Forums Issues), NO SPOILERS FOR YOU!  At least, not here at OO.  You two-timing sluts what can't mind your own business can probably find them elsewhere, though...
  • I think that's about all I got today, folks.  See you Friday (with the rest of the trOOps, too!) for the only No Mercy PPV Preview you need to read!

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



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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