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RAW vs. SD! Ratings, Vince vs. Steph
Silliness, TNA/FSN News, and MORE!
October 29, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Goddammit, didn't I just have to do this silly pre-ramble thing about 15 hours ago for the SD! Recap?  I'll tells ya, it was a lot easier while under the influence of enough Evan Williams Brand Kentucky Bourbon that I did NOT put a brick through my TV... honest, if you think that my recap is unfairly critical, just imagine how annoyed I'd have been by the Tough Enough and Taker/Heyman crap if I had had all my brain cells in good working order and demanding top shelf entertainment!
Anyway, me and my love of indented bullet points means that mostly, this section exists to get me down past the ad box over there on the right. Speaking of which: have YOU signed up for your OMG~! Dream Job With WWE, yet? Yeah, me neither. I guess I could also mention that while I can't possibly apologize for my comments made on   

Monday about FOX TV shows, I will slightly correct myself: many have written in telling me that "Arrested Development" deserves a chance, and actually I'd forgotten that yeah, my brother told me I needed to check that one out because he thinks it's right up my alley. And also: based on commercials, a FOX show that DOESN'T quite look retarded is "House," so I'll wait for a scouting report on that.

And with that: I have beaten the box!  So with me not entirely sure what's in the tank after costing myself valuable hours of sleep last night doing the recap after SD!, and mostly just desiring a rejuvenating nap this late afternoon, let's ride:

  • Normally, I'd start a Friday column with some SD! thoughts... except that I really don't have any more (at least constructive ones) that aren't in the recap already. The filter I've been trying to put into recaps that past few months apparently decided to take a vacation, cuz it turned out to be as much an Alternate Commentary Track as a straight-up recap... and I don't feel like doing an hour of editing to "fix" it and then put the editorial crap here, so...
    Well: you want to know what happened on SD!? You want to know what I THINK of what happened on SD!?  Either way, you'll all have to go to the same place.  [And if you don't: I'll briefly repeat something I mention in the Recap... that I'm about 90% sure that this job is open again for next week. And frankly, if somebody qualified wants to step up and take it from me, that'd be dandy.  So holla!]
    We WILL however, do the usual Friday thing and report that the prelim rating for SD! is a 3.4, good for fourth on the night, and a good strong number.  It's a rebound of a couple of ticks from the week before, probably thanks to the absence of baseball playoffs.
    In fact, it'll be interesting to see how both shows' ratings do as we enter November Sweeps; on one hand, next week is when the networks will start busting out the big guns for the Sweeps period, but on the other, this is the second fall in a row in which baseball has scored HUGE numbers and put a dent in other shows' ratings...  I honestly don't know if things are getting easier or harder for WWE heading into Sweeps Month.  But if SD! can sustain in the mid-3's like this, they'll be gold.  In fact, they'll be all the way back to where they were last winter and spring, pretty much...
  • And a RAW ratings note (since technical difficulties cost me my Wednesday column): the Monday show ALSO did very well, bouncing up to a 3.7 cable rating. Or at least, that seems really outstanding when compared to the 3.0 that the show pulled the week before.  Again, thank the baseball off-day on Monday for that, maybe?
    The 3.7 puts RAW back near it's year-to-date average, but keep in mind that the vagaries of network vs. cable ratings universes means that SD!'s 3.4 still means it was the more-watched show this week.  Speaking for only myself, I'm not sure that's right, given the shows' relative qualities, but I shan't rant about that now; I'll just pluck a couple numbers out of the air and post the OO Ratings on the main page here before I wrap it up for the weekend.
  • Another RAW note that I can't get away from, even though it's been a couple days longer than usual...
    A number of people e-mailed in and took me to task for just ASSUMING that the way things played out on RAW, that it meant Randy Orton would be winning the Royal Rumble to get his guaranteed World Title Shot against HHH.  They said that I was ignoring any number of other options.
    Well kids, I don't know what to say.  Part of me is proud that I've got y'all thinking creatively!  But part of me is also very disappointed that you think so little of The Rick!
    Actually, part of the problem probably is that I didn't have the chance to fire the second shot off in a mid-week column, because THAT is where I would have put a lot of my rambling editorialness... but c'mon: you folks know me.  My veiled mentions of how Monday's RAW means Orton wins the Rumble were NOT ignorance of other options on my part: it was confidence that, with everything WWE has done wrong with Orton so far, they would NOT be exploring those other options, so I didn't really have to mention them.
    The truth is: even sitting on my couch watching the show develop, I had a few nifty ideas for how Orton losing the match to Flair might play out.  It's just that my general cynicism (and all empirical evidence supplied by WWE/Orton so far) meant that the simplistic Royal Rumble Win Scenario seems for more likely to play out than any of my cool-ass ideas...
    So yeah, in my Dream World we'd do something like: Orton realizes the bind he's in, and suddenly has to form uneasy alliances with guys like Benoit and Jericho (this is an easy story to tell, since they'll be teaming up at Survivor Series, and then you build on that after the PPV), since what Orton needs is for SOMEbody to unseat HHH as champ, otherwise, he'll never get a shot again.  And then finally, somebody DOES beat HHH, and it is with a bit of help from Orton (maybe just keeping Evolution at bay, nothing too much, though).  Either Benoit or Jericho, doesn't matter which.  And then, obviously, Orton would like his title shot now, please.
    From there, TONS more interesting possibilities are opened up, and NONE of them involve a lame ass Rumble win for Orton.  Benoit/Jericho can give Orton the title shot in a face/face setting, and frankly what I'd do is have HHH cost Orton that match and have them head to WM21 to do their feud in a NON-title setting; or take my hard-on for a Heel Orton in a couple directions, too, either he screws over Benoit/Jericho and "steals" their title, setting him up to face one of them at WM21, or his heel turn is handled a little different (along the Orton-controlled-Evolution lines I've advocated) and is paired up with a HHH face turn to keep those two married to each other for WM21.  Those are crappy, cursory sketches of ideas, but I think you see my point: tons of cool, interesting stuff here. And all of it would trump just tossing Orton into the Rumble to pursue his density with another one-off "moment."
    Oh, and to an only-slightly-smaller subset of mailers about Randy Orton this week: I don't know what audio feed you're getting, but I'm not making up ANYthing when it comes to Young Randall's live-crowd-nonsponses.  Yes, he did get one (1) sustained "RKO" chant during his promo.  But then that petered out and during his match, responses to Flair were louder, responses to Orton were SO muted that the handful of "boos" from Flair fans were audible, and in essence, it was the extremely crafty and exciting booking of the final 2-3 minutes of RAW (the beatdown of HHH) that got the crowd red-hot, NOT anything that Orton, specifically, brought to the table (in fact, Benoit's Germans got the biggest pop of that segment!).
    So to those who think I've got it in for Randy: I don't. Honestly. I mean, it's maybe kind of prickish of me to always MENTION these things, but it's not like I'm making them up. I honestly don't see how I'm breaking any rules here; and frankly those who say, "Lay off the kid, he's just starting to settle into his role, and pretty soon, he'll be a solid babyface if you give him a chance" are the ones who I think need to adjust their priorities, not me.  "Lay off the kid, he's settling in"? Are you shitting me?  Look, you do NOT get the concerted 4-month push that Randall has and only NOW start to "settle in."  This is the biggest push (it's an outright SHOVE) I can recall since Brock Lesnar's debut; but tellingly, that came as a heel.  You don't turn a guy babyface and make him your top champion and do all that stuff that WWE did with Orton so that he can take six months to "settle in."  This was an attempt by Orton/WWE to hit a home run back in August, and now it's almost November and Orton's still in the fucking batter's box; to further my analogy, I'd say the guy has also got two strikes on him and is only managing to prolong the at-bat by fouling off pitch-after-pitch (he can't even get good wood on the ball, but he's JUST skilled enough to stay alive).
    One of these days, either WWE's creative team will get its head out of its collective ass and groove one right over the plate for Orton and really help him solidify his spot on the upper-card (I still say this means HEEL TURN, dammit); or they'll keep doing what their doing, and Orton's flamboyant mediocrity will mean he's just good enough to hang around, even if nobody can really tell you why.  Kinda like Lex Luger.
    End extended metaphor and unnecessary Orton/Luger comparison!  I actually do know that a lot of people agree with me, but it seems some of you have tons more patience for Orton to EVENTUALLY get it right than I do, and this tone of mine is tiresome to you.  So we'll move on now...
  • You want another one of my "stories that shouldn't even be a story" rants?  Because there was an hilarious one in SmackDown!'s post-production this week.
    That Tough Enough bit that opened the show apparently caused a Major Rift in the McMahon Family. Stephanie (no doubt because of HHH's hard-on for "protecting the business" in his old school way) wanted to severely edit the piece, because she didn't think the trainees sold Big Shows moves enough.  Vince (no doubt because of his hard-on for attempting to do Reality TV) disagreed and thought that ending the segment with the Tough Enough guys all on their feet, staring down Big Show was OK.
    In the end, Vince won.  
    And you know what? The fact that *this* is what WWE is worried about just makes me hang my head. An argument over stupid bullshit is occupying the time of the McMahons, and occupying headlines on dumb-ass wrestling sites that need a story.  But there isn't one.  This is just retarded.
    You want a story, here's one: the fact that nobody in the WWE inner circle would step up and say, "Hey, Vince, Steph, you know the REAL problem here is that you're putting this crap on TV to begin with.  If you want to fix the show, ditch it, but don't waste everybody's energy arguing over piddling details."  Because that would get them fired.
    That's the real story.  That's what gets my dander up.  But of course, nobody wants to talk about that aspect of it, because the thought of OMG~! VINCE vs. STEPH AND THIS TIME IT'S A SHOOT~! is such a tantalizing notion to some folks, and it doesn't even matter that, if you'd stop to think about it, they're kinda BOTH wrong.
  • Another, slightly more interesting story is that this "Vince vs. Steph" story actually broke on a week when Vince was absent from tapings entirely, and Stephanie and HHH were clearly the ones in charge.
    Vince's "absence" actually comprised of him being in constant phone communication with anybody and everybody on both Monday and Tuesday nights, but he was not there in body due to an undisclosed medical condition (well, undisclosed to me; but I wonder if it might be worth it for me to get with my Mole and see if he was visiting at the Stamford Clinic with Dr. Rosenpenis again? Anybody interested in that?).
    I gather this resulted in a lot of crafty maneuvering and attempted power-plays and late-rewrites and stuff like that, and it was generally a chaotic scene at both tapings.  I even had one guy tell me that I was dead-on about the amount of filler RAW had and the awkwardness of the PPV match replay to open the show...  that's because of the craziness backstage, they were having trouble finalizing the format and didn't even give the production crew enough advance warning to turn the Eugene/Bischoff thing into a video package.  Wild.
    Some have even suggested that Bischoff's line about "Inmates running the asylum" was a wink-wink-nudge-nudge shoot regarding how silly things got backstage in Vince's absence. 
    Part of me wants to get into a whole big thing here; because minor mutinies and little political games seem like they might become a serious problem if Vince decided to step aside any time soon here.  I honestly don't think that HHH/Steph could ever run the show without serious insubordination and chicanery getting out of hand, at least not until HHH just hangs it up and doesn't wrestle any more (and frankly, that's something that's years away).  The evaporation of the old guard lieutenants, the reduction in Jim Ross' role, all this stuff means that HHH/Steph are increasingly filling that void.  And I'm not a HHHater by any means; but I see nothing but ugliness developing here.  It's one thing for HHH to be a locker room leader; that's cool. But when this spills over into essentially running the company: trouble.  There may never be another Vince McMahon, but there needs to be SOMEbody (or somebodies) who are empowered to direct the show, control the creative direction and all, but it needs to be somebody who is not ON the show. And if I add the condition, "And not having sex with one of the main event talents," do you kinda get what I mean (Steph, as smart and talented as she may be, will STILL be seen as a conduit for HHH's ideas by many, which will hamstring her "legitimate authority" with the talent), or do you label me as some kind of sexist jerk?  Well, I don't care, I said it, and I do NOT mean anything too mean by it... it's just an honest, pragmatic observation.
    But anyway, one paragraph of just touching on this will have to suffice, since another part of me does NOT want to get into a whole big thing here today. But somebody who HAS gone into a whole big thing about what might happen when Vince isn't around to drive the ship anymore is Jeb Lund; until 2 weeks ago this column of his was actually my favorite one he's done all year, and it's timely as all hell again this week!  Check it out.
  • I guess I fibbed about the TNA/Best Damned Sports Show Period thing. A little bit.  I mean, they still sounded kinda silly, and the "main event" really was Tom Arnold and midgets...  but the shows were NOT taped to promote November's Victory Road PPV. 
    Rather the joint TNA/BDSSP shows will air in primetime on FOX Sports Net AFTER Victory Road.  Which given everything else the company has done lately, makes perfect sense in that it makes little sense. Gotta be consistent!
    So after TNA tries to launch itself as a major PPV entity on 11/7, THEN they'll get the publicity on BDSSP on November 10 and 11.  GENIUS~!  Although to be serious for a moment, TNA's plans do call for another PPV in December, so at least they'll be able to hype that...
    But see, the problem is that the shows are already taped, and it's not like if they have a kick-ass Victory Road PPV (or if there are major surprises/developments there) they can use those as part of the Best Damned shows.  I dunno.  Just seems ass-backwards to me.
    But again: if Tom Arnold and midgets are what you crave, it's FSN for you on 11/10 and 11/11.
  • WWE.com is currently featuring footage of Shawn Michaels knee surgery (took place last Friday).  In fact, going back to that previous note, I think they wanted to have a video package of that ready for RAW on Monday, but in the chaos, it didn't get done... so you gotta download the footage, if you want it.  
    My understanding is that the procedure was fairly routine, and the 6-week recovery time I'd talked about last Wednesday should hold up.  So basically, mid-December, although with the way WWE's tapings schedules usually get kind of messy around the holidays (and how they usually toss in one "off-week" for both shows), it might actually end up being a deal where you don't look for Shawn until "normal" business resumes following the New Year. 
    WWE doesn't even need to worry about having Shawn back on TV and into the swing of things for a December PPV, since this year's Armageddon in Hotlanta, GA, is shifting over to SD!...  however, as part of the 2005 PPV calendar, RAW does have an event of its own the second week of January (in Puerto Rico), and so they might want Shawn back in action for that.  I guess if they're being extra-cautious or whatever, they might even hold him back till after that show, and just give him enough time to establish his candidacy for the Royal Rumble (which is extra-late this year, on the last day of January, actually).  We'll have to see how they play it, what with all these scheduling considerations, but I believe Shawn should, technically, be cleared before the holidays.
  • And I think that's all I got for today, kids.  Y'all try to enjoy your Halloween weekend (my only request: if you're in the class of Amateur Drinker, just get yer ass home by midnight on Saturday, OK? I already don't really get into the spirit of the holiday much anymore, and if I decide to hit some bars after my lame old-man parties peter out, the last thing I need is you clogging up my bars! Possible exception: girls acting uncharacteristically slutty because they're wearing costumes so it's like it doesn't really count will be assessed on a case-by-case basis)...
    Then Monday, make sure you come on back to OO for all the news you need to start your wrestling week. And more than likely, I'll be stumped for material, and will also reveal which Presidential Candidate has received the prestigious endorsement of Online Onslaught dot Com!
    So take it easy, be safe, and see you then!

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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