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RAW, Ratings, Clearing Up Rumors,
And Lots of Other Midweek News
January 5, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Why don't we get the New Year kicked off right... with me keeping this pre-ramble as short as humanly possible. 
Cuz people, I'm in no mood. Trying like a madman to finish up one thing so I can start on another (including what I'm hoping will be the finest 2004 Year In Review Reference Piece published anywhere, by anybody), trying to deal with idiot Ohio weather that dumps 20 inches of snow on us causing one set of annoyances, then 

spends 3 days near 60 degrees, and NOW is dumping 3 inches of rain on us, which combines with the melted 20" of snow to create a whole OTHER set of problems, and NOW it's getting cold again and there's a winter storm advisory, BUT we'll be up in the 60s again by next week?  I mean, I live on top of a hill, safely away from any flooding, but for once I'd like to be able to follow my local news and NOT have it be wall-to-wall Weather Channel... like: how about the Dayton Flyers, dammit?!? And the newspaper people wonder why, no matter how much they call my house, I keep saying "Keep your free week of the paper, I get all my news online now." Because 95% of the crap on local TV and newspapers is unbearable drivel!

And don't even get me started on people.  People suck.  Except, of course, you Fine Readers.  So in your honor, let's just try to lock this thing on Cruise Control and whip up a passable column chockful of the latest rasslin' news and views. I'm probably just in a salty mood because I enjoyed that little holiday siesta and don't feel like getting back to a regular schedule. Yeah, let's just say that's it. So here's Chapter One of Regular Schedule 2005:

  • I think when you distill down Monday's RAW, basically, you can assess the show by saying, "It made me want to see the Elimination Chamber even more."
    And since you pretty much have to grant that the New Year's Revolution PPV *is* the Elimination Chamber, and then 2 hours of other crap, the transitive theory applies, and Monday's RAW did a good job selling Sunday's PPV. Which is what a pre-PPV show should do.
    I'll save my analyzing the PPV line-up and determining which percentage of it is actually PPV-worthy for Friday's Team Coverage New Year's Revolution PPV Preview...  but suffice to say that the fact that the deft handling of the top six (well, seven, counting Michaels) guys is completely obscuring the fact that there's been little done to construct a complete PPV card causes me no shortage of cognitive dissonance.  I mean: rip WWE for being so one-dimensional? Or congratulate them on the amazing success of that one dimension?
    I'm leaning towards the latter.
    Because bottom-line, I consider everybody but Jericho to be possible World Champions coming out of Sunday (NOTE: this is in the "storyline-sense," since I don't think anyone would dispute Y2J is the least-pushed of these six guys; in the "worthy-sense," obviously I'd eliminate Orton in a heartbeat, and would PREFER that they not go with Batista just yet, and Jericho would DEFINITELY be on my possibilities list)... and when you add all the storylines of the match on top of the 5 viable winners, that's ambiguity and and myriad possibilities out the wazoo.
    And on top of all the stories that have been pretty well exposed (HHH/Batista, HHH/Orton, HHH has never beaten Benoit, poor Edge seems to think the world's out to get him), there's one more element that's yet to be considered: guest ref Shawn Michaels.  I mean, sure, he COULD just call this straight down the middle... but one has to assume they didn't make his return from injury in a ref role if THAT was what they had in mind.  Michaels is here for a reason, Michaels could have legitimate beefs with ANY of the six men. And although friction with HHH and Edge *should* be primary, and we might use Michaels' role as little more than the impetus for an HBK/Edge WM21 match (somebody want to get Edge the IC Title so we can add ladders?), a ton of possibilities exist if Michaels gets into it with Orton, Benoit, or Jericho. 
    And let's just say that as I've pre-pondered my own portion of Friday's Team Coverage PPV Preview, I'm thinking one of Michaels or Kane has to be turning heel on Sunday. How? Which one? Wait till Friday, folks....  
    So what was my point? Oh, it was about RAW, and how as long as a show makes me this excited for a major PPV match, I'm OK with that. Because face it, we couldn't have done things like last week's Beat the Clock (which took other talents out of their storylines so they could be fodder for the Chamber Six), or this week's 35-40 minutes of bell-to-bell time for the Chamber Six (at the expense of just about everyone else), without kind of short-changing the NYR undercard.  It's a trade-off that WWE had to make, and I think they chose wisely. As long as the Chamber match pays-off these high expectation levels, and nothing truly stinks on the undercard, they've set themselves up for a possible winner of a PPV.
    Other than re-emphasizing how strong a night I thought Batista had (including his first genuinely good singles match, and then the expected rock-solid skits where he just seems comfortable, like a real dude, instead of some guy acting a character), I think I said all I want to say right here.
    Because I said all the rest yesterday in the OO RAW Recap.  You should check it out, at least, if you want to know what happened on the show that DIDN'T involve the six Elimination Chamber guys!
  • As of this early Wednesday writing, I've not gotten word of Monday's RAW rating... maybe I'm not the only one having a hard time getting back into the flow of things?
    But I'll quickly get you up to speed on last week's set of ratings, which you haven't heard about since I certainly WASN'T in the flow of things...
    Last Monday's RAW, with the Beat the Clock gimmick, did a 3.5 cable rating. That was up over half-a-point from the "Best of 2004" show that came the week before, but is significantly below the 3.9 the show had been averaging for the month or so before that. Perhaps it's just a matter of regaining momentum after the "off-week"?  We'll see once we get this week's number, since really, I think these were two strong shows that if people showed up for them, they'd stick *and* they'd come back next week and maybe bring some friends with them....
    And last week's SD! did what probably has to be considered a disappointing 2.8 broadcast rating. That's two 2.8's in a row, after SD! had clawed back to the mid-3s. And while the previous week's "Christmas in Iraq" was kind of a gimmick show that marked time on "Christmas Eve Eve," when people were almost certainly busy with other things, last week's show was heavily hyped as the "Night of the Champions" (all four titles defended) and took place on what should have been a pretty standard Thursday night for most people. [Myself, I pretty much did nothing but sit at home and work on my 2004 Awards Column, and rested my liver after one of my Drunkest Wednesdays Ever -- stupid Flyers getting whupped, stupid me drowning my sorrows that night in too much bOOze and some of my Christmas Rock Gifting Cranked to 11 -- and what I'd figured I'd do to it the next night. I gotta assume most people were like me, free to watch SD! if they wanted; but they just chose not to.]
    Long story short: there's no excuses left once this week's ratings are in... you pass the New Year, and you're officially in the Rumble-to-Mania Corridor, and if you can't get fans fired up for this part of the year, then you're doing something wrong. Except really, WWE's not doing *that* much wrong (RAW's rolling, and SD! has found a bit of focus and at least doesn't have 20 minutes of that Tough Enough bullshit anymore), so....
    And for the second week in a row, as shittily as SD! performed in the ratings, it STILL beat a 2-hour block of "The OC."  I love that.  Crap-ass shows having their heads handed to them on a ratings platter!  Yes!  And how about almost nobody bothering to watch that "Who's Your Daddy?" horseshit reality show on FOX? That's one of those TV concepts that's so mind-numbingly bad and demonstrably dumber than its peers that it honestly makes me want to hunt down and kill whoever saw the commercial and thought, "Uh, duh, me think that show be good. Me watch."  Luckily, the ratings show it shouldn't take me too long to finish the job. Boy, FOX, it sure would be nice if you'd pick up some non-shit shows to go with the return of "Family Guy" here in this all-important TV Pilot Buying Season.....
  • Something else about that "Rumble-to-Mania Corridor" comment...  as I'd mentioned a month back, I thought that the "draft lottery" should become an annual tradition, and that WWE was contemplating exactly that.  And well, lo and behold, in the last week or so, it's basically been confirmed that unless things change, two or three weeks after WM21 will be "Draft Lottery 2: Electric Boogaloo."
    Now, do I think the format of the "Draft Lottery" is all that good? No, as outlined last year, I think it's fairly well retarded actually.  Stuff like this shouldn't be predicated on picking bingo balls out of a hopper, it should be handled more seriously. But then they tweaked things at the last second last year by adding in the "24 Hour Trade Window," which basically meant that no matter how lame (or contrived) the bingo balls are, the trade window means it's a free-for-all and anything can happen.
    But basically, though I'd love to see them further tweak the system (I go back to my stand-by: each brand is allowed to "protect" some arbitrary number of stars, maybe 5, which is obviously too low to be "realistic," but which would add lots of drama, but then the other brand gets maybe 5 or 6 rounds to draft from the entire remaining roster; and hey, if somebody's *that* important, they can beg to be "drafted back" and stuff like that; and then once you eliminate Random Chance as the primary force of the draft, you can also milk it for a month after WM; instead of just announcing the draft one week and doing it the next, you can do a month of storytelling of guys begging to be protected, or to be NOT protected, tell stories of guys who want to jump and why, and that'd be a crazy-fun way to do stories that bled across brands for a month; stories you can't do as long as Bingo Balls are in charge), I'm just a fan of anything that shakes up the status quo a bit. So bring on the Draft Lottery...   

    And if it indeed becomes an annual tradition, perhaps we change our terminology to the "Rumble-to-Draft Corridor." Because if 2004 is any indication, those will be the limiting boundaries on anything genuinely good in the wrestling year!
  • Something else we talked about 2 weeks ago or so: an ECW PPV run by WWE.
    Now, since the original rumors that I'd talked about, it's basically become accepted as gospel truth that WWE will run an ECW-style event on June 5, 2005. It's further accepted as gospel truth that basically, they'll run it as a one-off deal (not affecting current WWE storylines of the time) featuring ECW alums on the WWE roster and the ones who are currently unaffiliated with TNA (basically, this means Raven and Shane Douglas can't be on it, which are two pretty big names; and maybe Sabu, too, but I'm not sure about his exact contract status with TNA).
    But all this is being accepted despite the fact that WWE has already released a 2005 PPV schedule to cable distributors that has PPVs on June 12 and on June 26 (presumably Bad Blood and the Great American Bash).  And I'm not saying that COMPLETELY eliminates the chance that WWE might give three PPVs in a month a shot, but I happen to think it'd be pretty damned stupid.
    But I mean, maybe if it was stupid, it'd actually be stupid in favor of ECW? They'd be the first show of the month, the one where people'd be the freshest and least likely to be saying, "Oy, another PPV? I'll pass...."  and another thing to consider: WWE had WM21 scheduled for Easter Sunday for a while before issuing a change/correction to cable distributors, moving it back a week, into April. So I'm saying WWE -- who hasn't booked any buildings yet for June -- could almost certainly re-arrange things to make room for that ECW show on 6/5, if they wanted.  You never know.
    But for the time being, all I'm ready to say with certainty is that YES, WWE has talked about this internally, and YES, now fans (and even some wrestlers) are talking about it like it's gonna happen (Lance Storm has even revealed in a commentary that he's talked to two ECW alums who'd like him to un-retire and face them on the PPV), but NO, I'm not ready to mark down June 5 as the date of what'd probably turn out to be my third favorite PPV of the year.  Not yet, anyway.
    And of course, the BIGGEST question of all that'd hang over such an event is what would Paul Heyman's involvement be? I'll say this, he does return to SD! this week, but the nature of his participation makes it seem unlikely that he'll be an on-screen character again any time soon. At least, not on SD!. But a large part of Heyman's problems are with Stephanie McMahon, and he does have supporters in other areas of the company, and his relationship with WWE is *not* perhaps as frosty we might have feared a few weeks ago.  I mean, I actually think Tommy Dreamer might be able to do a decent homage to ECW if he had to... but I'm starting to think he won't have to.  Who knows?  Wait till WWE officially announces that it's gonna do this thing, and *then* we'll worry about who's running the show...
  • Another thing that's been long-rumored, but never actually explicitly discussed, at least, not here at OO, is this notion that WWE is opening up a new developmental territory in Atlanta, GA.
    I'm not sure how others are reporting on this, but based on my e-mails, it seems like it's DEFINITELY getting blown way out of proportion in some circles, like people think WWE is gonna move in and set up some all-new infrastructure for a company, and then attributing some kind of significance to the choice of city, like WWE would rent out the old WCW offices and start running Center Stage Theatre, creating some kind of genuinely interesting product.
    All I can say is: guess again, Potsie. As far as I know, all that's being discussed is WWE adopting NWA-Wildside (based in Atlanta) as a new developmental territory. Wildside's been around for, oh, I'm guessing 4-5 years, and trust me, you've haven't cared about watching them before, and most of you probably wouldn't care about watching them if they go into business with WWE.  I mean, this does not apply to all, and if you do stuff like religiously watch tapes of OVW because you love the action (instead of bi-annually checking out tapes just to keep tabs on who might be next in line for WWE spots), then maybe you do like Wildside or find it a notch above most other indie shows.  But honestly, I'm not thinking the WWE sanction (if it comes) is gonna create some all new Uber-Indie, as some seem to be thinking.
    Long story short: Wildside's been around for years, Wildside has TV, WWE needs another place for developmental guys to work, and the two might be getting together. But you shouldn't let your imaginations run wild with visions of a "brand new developmental territory." You already didn't care about Wildside, and you probably won't now.
    The only really interesting element of this story is that the guy who runs Wildside and is negotiating with WWE is named Bill Behrens, and I believe his title is "NWA President" (meaning, if the NWA still had any real significance, he'd be the guy in charge of coordinating the myriad thriving territories operating under the NWA banner), but more importantly, he's a cog in the TNA machine because of the tangential relationship between NWA and TNA.  This might, if it comes to pass, count as the first talent raid by WWE on TNA.  Or maybe not.  I honestly don't think it'll make much difference, except that maybe it'll cut off one feeder-stream into TNA and divert a few fresh faces to the attention of WWE.
    Behrens affiliations with NWA and TNA have probably been the main reason why this story has been slow to develop into fact...  the sides are going back and forth, and nothing is settled, yet.  Behrens may not want to become a cog in the WWE machine, and to be honest, it's not like WWE needs Wildside; they are eye-balling other territories, and frankly, if I got a vote, I'd want to NOT do another territory in the south. They've already got OVW. And not to be a prick, but a lot of things like NASCAR and country music lack a certain sense of "cool," and I *still* think that's a stigma TNA's dealing with. WWE, if it wants to be truly mainstream again, can't gear its entire product and developmental process towards stuff that makes a goodly percentage of the high-school-educated American Public chuckle a Superior Chuckle.
    One "old school rasslin'" southern territory is fine, but I'd think you'd want to diversify. Maybe something flashy, gimmick-driven, and fast-paced out in California (either getting back into business with UPW, or maybe actually going full-out with a lucha-based developmental), maybe something edgy, stripped-down, and hardcore in the Northeast (hey, I still think that if you gotta give Heyman something to do, you could do worse than ask him to run a developmental), and maybe finish up with somehow getting affiliated with a Canadian company that'd focus on technical wrestling and toughness (hey, if a Hart wants to be involved, all the better). Then with 4 COMPLETELY different territories, run by three different crews (but overseen for quality control by WWE), you can cycle guys in and out and "cross train" them, probably resulting in a more well-rounded ready-for-TV talent. Or you can even "single train" other guys if you want to develop niche performers and specialists, and have a territory that is singularly geared to getting the most out of them.
    Just a thought. Well, a couple of thoughts, actually... and pretty good ones if I do say so myself.
  • Another big rumor-generating story making the rounds... and it all centers on Brock Lesnar.  Is he or isn't he?
    What is fact: Brock and WWE have been in contact.  What is fiction: that anybody really knows the nature of that contact.  Is Brock calling WWE and "begging for work" only to get cut off be secretaries before he can talk to anybody in power (as I gather some are reporting)?  Has Brock actually talked with somebody a bit higher up, and there's a reason why Big Show is busting out the F-5?
    Brock himself has gone on record, just this week, saying that he's looking to get back into wrestling, but not saying much more besides the only company he could work for through March is WWE, but after that, his no compete clause is up and he is a free agent.  Doesn't sound like a guy who's "begging" for anything, but you never know...
    Brock was also at the big annual TokyoDome show, where he sat ringside and did absolutely nothing else, since that's what his no-compete clause dictates. But again, the press, he was making noises like "Things'll be different in April."  Brock would almost certainly be offered the 2004 version of the "Goldberg Deal" to wrestle fewer dates in Japan for disproportionately higher pay. But not as disproportionately large as Goldberg got (since Japanese wrestling is kind of in the toilet, I gather).
    Here's my guess: Lesnar would like to come back to WWE, but is not really willing to lose any face in so doing, and so is saying things that could portend a bidding war for his services.  And that's fine.  The way Lesnar has most value to WWE is if he's remembered as the ass-kicking machine he was one year ago, instead of as the failed football player he was six months ago.  Lesnar really shouldn't want to put up with prostrating himself and having to re-crawl up the ladder and stuff.
    Now that said, WWE got burned by Lesnar a year ago, and should protect itself, as well. Do they just go back and re-offer Lesnar all the money and perks he'd have been owed under the deal Lesnar had to buy his way out of last year? No. But they're idiots if they don't recognize an opportunity to bring back a singular talent.  Seriously: everybody's got their panties bunched over Batista, but he's really just a less-talented, but more-likeable version of Lesnar, not to mention a good 7-8 years old, and thus with less upside. People who say they wouldn't want Lesnar back apparently don't care about making the on-screen product better.  
    I'm serious. If you work for WWE, and you have genuine concerns about Lesnar's reliability, that's one thing, and that's reasonable. But if you're a fan and you're scribing theses for why Lesnar shouldn't be allowed back in WWE, you need to get your head out of your ass.  Look, I'm not saying that needs to be immediately handed the WWE Title upon his return or anything, I'm not saying that those who've stepped up in his absence should be shuffled back down to make room for him on top. If you want stand up for the "loyal" members of the WWE roster, good for you, Junior. But then I want you to stand back and be realistic.
    Look at the roster.  Simply put: THERE IS ROOM AT THE TOP FOR LESNAR. When you have Randy Orton struggling as a main event babyface, when you have JBL as the weakest drawing champion in memory, and when you have an ostensible top heel in Kurt Angle working 30 second squashes because WWE wants to save him up for just one or two "real" matches per month due to health concerns, you canNOT fricking tell me you think that Lesnar's return would unnecessarily mess up any existing and deserving push. You can't deny that the WWE roster is thin enough that it wouldn't just withstand the return of Lesnar without screwing anything up, it would benefit from the return of Lesnar. Even with the possibility of the draft lottery helping SD! out after Mania, the company could use another top heel. 
    Why you would argue against giving Lesnar the CHANCE to be that heel is beyond me.  HHH was recently quoted as saying that if Lesnar came back, it'd take a lot for him to be accepted by the fans.  I call "bullshit" on that. It'd take a lot for some within the company to accept Lesnar, but that's not the same as the fans buying into Lesnar again.  It's up to us to be entertained, and by and large, Lesnar succeeded on that front quite nicely. It takes a lot more than one shitty-ass match for the fans to turn *that* vehemently on a good performer... and Trips should know this, otherwise, the fans would have disowned him, in perpetuity, after any time he stepped in the ring with Scott Steiner.
    I think if fans are honest, they'd like Lesnar back. And they have to trust WWE to make this decision correctly. If, somehow, they crunch all the numbers and decide to not bring Lesnar back, well, I'll be confused... because I think that there are ways to protect the company by negotiating a deal with Brock that gives him every chance to succeed again, while making it quite clear that walking out on a 2-year-mega-push and a 7-year contract will be quite ill-advised.  There are clauses and smallprint that the two sides could agree on that would make Brock confident that he won't "lose face" in his return, and make WWE confident that they won't get dicked over the next time Lesnar has a hissy fit.
    That's really all I'm saying: the two sides oughta talk, and VERY SOON, to figure something out. For Brock, it's a chance to start re-proving himself to fans as soon as possible. For WWE, it's a chance to get him back in the fold before the no-compete runs out and he really CAN test the free agent market. And for fans, it'd be a chance to quit worrying about backstage stuff that's of no matter to the on-screen product and just be entertained a bit more than they have in the last year since Lesnar left.
  • Looks like PyroFalkon may have an entertaining night ahead of him... new WWE staffer Ricky Steamboat and his good friend (and better enemy) Ric Flair will be guests on the show.  That's the first time since the ECW-themed show that I'm actually bothering with a shout-out...  cuz I can only assume that those two together might be a "theme-show" of its own, and having gotten to speak with both men in the past and also having gotten to see Steamboat conduct some training sessions, it might be VERY interesting to see if they touch on contrasts between the "old school" style, and then the attitude style, and then back to today's "slow it down" style. And specifically, about why the slow it down style is so freaking obnoxious.
    I mention it only because I suspect from talks with the Esteemed Mr. Steamboat that he could actually give you some extremely insightful answers along those lines, and they would NOT be cop-outs like "fans just have to be re-trained."  Having seen him lecture on how to make even the littlest moves mean something, I think he might (rightly) put the onus on wrestlers who don't know how to make a chinlock an important part of the match.  Or maybe I'm just fantasizing that "the Dragon" would dare to be so edgy in his second week with the company....
    In any case, maybe somebody out there try to formulate a "show-friendly" version of that question and see if you can get it on... I'll be at a Flyer Game.
  • And lastly, let's talk about Chyna and X-Pac.  Or you know what?  Let's not. For one, I've already had enough of my spirit sapped lately to muster the energy to brave ANYthing involving these two misfits. And for two, really, it's none of our business.  
    So forget it.  I'm done for today.  Friday will be me quarterbacking the PPV Team Coverage thingie, and other good stuff.
    And tomorrow? Well, surprises of surprises, it's Jeb Lund who has confirmed to me that he *is* finishing up a 2004 Awards Column, afterall... although he promises that it won't be fit for human consumption because of copious sand the wrestling industry put in his vagina in 2004.  His exact words.  Jeb *loves* the "sandy vagina" imagery.  
    And Erin? I guess she enjoys making me look like an ass...  don't know whether she'll be joining Jeb for the Co-Final Say in our awards or not. But we'll see.  The previously mentioned Anderson/Lund Conspiracy *may* be in full effect afterall.
    Tune in and find out... and I personally shall see you all again on Friday! 

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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