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RAW/Ratings, Front Office Shake-Ups in
TNA and OVW, Another WWE Release, MORE!
May 11, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


So, OK... during lunch, I flip on CNN to find out what the hell is going on that required the evacuation of the White House and Capitol building.
And from the looks of things, I was lucky to be getting even the little trickle of information CNN was serving up, because what they REALLY wanted to be covering was Macauley Culkin's testimony in the Michael Jackson Trial.... oy. While they grudgingly served up the news of a plane violating Washington DC airspace, the crawler

across the bottom of the screen was all-Jacko, all-the-time. At one point, I became 12 IQ points dumber for simply having read the line "What happened when Michael and Macauley were Home Alone?" (the answer, apparently, is "nothing").

This is what we've become, folks: a nation of wastoids who basically equivocate matters of national security and matters of Absolute Non-Importance. And a nation being pandered to by a media that doesn't have the balls to say, "This is dumb, and we'll not spoonfeed it to you idiots, even though we know it'd get ratings." Whatever happened to filling your niche and filling it well? Screw trying to be all things to all people, cuz that just never works. Now, CNN wants to be the E! Network, ESPN has turned "SportsCenter" (especially on Sundays) into an absolutely unwatchable show and actually thinks it has business producing Original Series, and wrestling websites are digressing into rants about the decline of American Society.

Ouch, my irony. Here:

  • Monday's RAW was... well, not exactly the follow-up show I would have hoped for after last week.
    That's not to say some things weren't done very well, because they were. How nice was it to have 2 hours completely and utterly devoid of Chris Masters, at least? But there were also some fundamental flaws that just baffled me (not the least of which is ringing the bell for Michaels/Edge with only about 10 minutes of airtime left, when they'd be capable of so much more).
    Since, for once, I have *not* yet gotten to address RAW, let's say I go a little bit more in-depth than I do most Wednesday, if for no other reason than because even watching RAW on a heavy FF on Monday, my instincts kicked in and I was coming up with Restaurant Quality Observations.... 
    The opening HHH/Batista promo? I don't know... on one hand, Batista was once again allowed to show the sort of cool, collected attitude that we like to see out of him (and hey: nice work by Batista on keeping the ring entrance simple this week, so he wasn't huffing and puffing for his mic time!). But on the other, HHH's material was so eyeball-roll-inducing that Batista doesn't really score TOO huge. It's like he got the last word in during a debate with somebody who is convinced the sky is green. And who is HHH trying to piss off with that rant of his? It's almost like he decided to stop Living In The 80s with all his Unbeatable Pedigree Talk, and skipped ahead to the OMG SHOOT PROMO Era. The thing is, it's only the loathsome Internet Jackoffs who would get pissed off by HHH's "I'm so awesome, and the belt will always come back to me, and you need me more than I need you because I'm the franchise and it is *I* who defines who becomes superstars on this show" speech. The Smart Fans are just rolling their eyeballs because when HHH hit that line about "You need me, Batista. And if I leave, then six months from now, I'll tune in to RAW, and you'll be nothing but a failure," the proper comeback isn't "Boo, you backstage egomaniac." The proper comeback, as devised by me sitting on my couch, was "Other guys wouldn't be failures as champions if only your wife knew how to do her damned job." ZING~!
    Anyway: the "impact" of HHH walking out is negligible because nobody really believes he'll stay gone. The impact of his entire speech is negligible because it's nothing we haven't heard a billion times already from his wordhole. And thus, the impact of Batista's "moral victory" is diminished, even though he did actually get showcased in the proper way this week.
    The Jericho/Daivari match? Meh, aside from that cool closing spot (Daivari had to REALLY trust Jericho on that one, because a miscalculation would have meant a broken neck), that was all just about the story. The story that Daivari is Hassan's bitch, and then also the story that Shelton came to Jericho's aid when he was subject to a 2-on-1 beatdown. So until we get to the draft lottery, this is the best we can come up with for the IC Champ and for Jericho? Another tenuous partnership for a little 2-3 week mini-feud against the Ay-rabs? Bleh: but maybe what it'll lead to is just a ONE WEEK mini-feud against them, and then Jericho and Shelton can implode in a tag match next week, and set them up for another one-on-one showdown the week after that. I mean: when he had a chance to later, Jericho did *NOT* come to Shelton's aid, so yeah, it could fit together like that...
    The La Resistance singles matches were utter wastes of time, too. For (1) why bother teasing a break-up? Unless the plan is to realign the rosters so that Rene Dupree is back as in La Resistance, and (more than likely) Rob Conway gets spun off on his own, maybe? And for (2) neither actual match served any purpose. Grenier vs. Viscera just re-affirmed WWE's miscalculation about Sexy Vis, while WWE did EXACTLY what I predicted and gave Shelton a meaningless "rebound" victory in a pointless 3-minute match against Conway that failed to let him show much of the spark of in-ring ability that will be his "in" with the fans. Again: Shelton's a guy who "wins" more by losing a 15 minute match than he does by winning a 3 minute match at this point of his development.
    I guess we've set up the direction for the tag division? And it's predicated on Stacy Keibler's panties? Or something? Do I even need to say Word One about how segments like this grate on me, and make me dread the impending Diva Search 2005? That I hate it when you send a diva out there to essentially say, "Hi. I am an empty-headed slut. My only contribution to society is my sweet ass. Let me show it to you" (except to say it much less eloquently). I'd say that MAYBE we are on the cusp of rendering Stacy useful for the first time in ages if she's gonna become the fulltime valet for Hurricane and Rosey... except that then I remember the (ahem) "acting talent" she displayed in her exchanges with Simon and Maven, and I'm suddenly blanking on possible uses for her other than "wearing some kind of skimpy super-heroine costume and letting us look up her skirt."
    And speaking of empty-headed women: how about that Maria the Mic-Stand? Good lord, when Shawn Michaels gleefully mocks you to your face, you know you're doing something wrong. Then again, maybe I need to check Shawn's bible; it's possible there's a new commandment in there that says, "Thou shalt not suffer fools lightly." To follow up on Erin's pondering from the Recap: I don't know exactly how scripted Maria's stupidity and Shawn's mocking was, but I do know that was a pre-tape and not live, so at some level, presenting Maria as an idiot was intentional (because otherwise, they could have just re-taped, or pulled the interview from the show entirely, since it really didn't serve a vital purpose), and not the happy coincidence it seemed to be. And I agree: it's a bit less funny if Maria is only ACTING stupid, instead of really being stupid. Although I'm sure it comes naturally to her. [An aside: a reader mailed in a suggestion for Maria if they want to keep on having her stupidity be mocked by wrestlers... there's a few different ways you could set this up, but very briefly, it boils down to three simple -- and hilarious -- words: Eugene, Wrestling Tutor.]
    And I guess that leaves me to talk about the Gold Rush matches. And my instinct is the same as Erin's: that Edge vs. Kane is the one combination out of the four possibilities going into Monday night that is the least compelling. Edge going over Michaels with the briefcase is fine, but Kane winning, and winning the way he did, over Benoit? Annoying. There's so much baggage with Kane right now that I'm more interested in seeing him get that sorted out, and sorted out AWAY from the World Title picture... and plus: if I didn't know any better, I'd say that WWE had absolutely no intention of ever letting Chris Benoit look good on TV in consecutive weeks. I mean, *this* is how you follow-up on him making HHH tap out? By being pinned following a blow to the back of his possibly-concussed head suffered because he foolishly decided to be chivalrous towards Skanky Lita? To me, this tourney should have been in place to provide Batista with a kick-ass dance partner so he can deliver a sweet Free Per View match. 
    And out of the Final Four, that means Michaels and Benoit should have been the go-to guys. Edge would be OK, but his "money in the bank" storyline means that he doesn't have to win (and in fact, makes it more impactful if he loses). Kane vs. Batista won't be the kind of match where Batista gets to shine. Witness: Pick Your Poison about 2 months ago. But again: Edge scoring the tainted win over Michaels would be OK, as long as Benoit advances in the other semi. This practically writes itself, as Benoit vs. Edge was a PPV match just 2 weeks ago, and is also a long-standing feud. It's a PERFECT set-up, too, for them to "trade wins" again; in the tourney final, Benoit once again beats Edge to get a title shot at Batista (a match which, based on their one previous showdown, should kick ass), but Edge can do heelish gloating about how it doesn't matter because he's still got his title shot in the bank.
    Instead, it's Kane vs. Edge: a match that almost completely fails to enthrall, and a tourney final that will deliver a subpar challenger to Batista. It's either an anticlimactic second guaranteed title shot for Edge, or it's a match against Kane less than 3 months after Batista/Kane last lumbered through a match. The only thing I'm figuring: this has *got* to be a set-up for them to do something nutty with Lita and Edge. Otherwise, it's confounding. Two weeks ago, you had that superfluous confrontation between Edge and Victoria/Lita (in which Victoria told Edge off, but Lita just kind of stood her ground mutely), and this past week, you had that backstage bit between Kane and Lita in which Lita stated that she always gets what she wants (in a rather ominous way). Is this leading up to Lita turning on Kane and joining Edge? I only wish I could care....
    Look: there's times and places for using "real life" drama to supplement on-screen storylines. I don't think this is one of those, for the simple reason that even if Lita turns on Kane, the biggest babyface in the equation is gonna be Matt Hardy. Which does nothing to help Kane's standing, if people are more concerned with Lita's crimes against Matt than against Kane. And which does nothing to help Edge/Lita if the one topic that gets them the biggest heel heat is the one that they can't mention on TV. I just don't see the benefit in going down this rather convoluted road, especially not when you could have done the aforementioned Benoit Tourney Win, and it'd have gone over just fine.
    If this is where they're going, and if this is the reason why we've got this tourney final, I hope WWE has thought this one through. Because fore-planning doesn't seem like one of their fortes, lately, and this could be a sticky situation. Obviously, if they go with a Lita heel turn, that shakes up the formula for the impending Lita/Trish resumption of hostilities. Because of WWE's idiotic personnel decisions when it comes to picking what type of females to keep on the payroll, this pretty much means Trish will have to officially turn babyface. This also leaves Kane in a precarious position, character-wise: he was the evil bastard who forcibly impregnated Lita and then married her, too, and now they'll have to find someway for him to be a sympathetic babyface when his slutty wife finally escapes his clutches. You see how WWE's lack of forethought and lack of grasp on fan psychology kind of has them backed into a corner here: I'm not necessarily saying that keeping Lita and Kane together as fan favorites until they weather the "We Want Matt" storm is super-desirable, but to me, it beats the option of trying to rush through a heel turn for Lita so she can join Edge in TV storylines, leaving Kane twisting in the wind because he's (a) not necessarily a bastion of moral rectitude in this story, and he's (b) not Matt Hardy. [Note: if somehow an agreement to bring Matt back has been secretly reached, I will adjust my vaginal sandiness accordingly. Because then, at least, going through the trouble of putting Lita with Edge on-screen COULD yield some positive results.]
    So my main issues with Monday's RAW probably come down to a simple case of Divergent Priorities. In "Rick Think," you're running this tourney to come up with a kick-ass challenger for Batista to wrestle in the "free per view" spotlight. But I guess in "WWE Think," doing anything right for Batista is secondary to teasing fans with hints of OMG REAL LIFE DRAMA~!
    I believe a case could be made for "WWE Think" being ass-backwards, but it doesn't matter. They, and not me, still get to dictate what happens. For better or for worse. And usually for worse.
    If you haven't already, you can get a more detailed rundown of Monday's happenings, courtesy of an all-too-rare appearance by Erin Anderson, in the bRAWd Recap. As tends to be the case, Erin effectively speaks my mind on most matters. Even the part about certain teen dramas on UPN. [Note: how in the blue hell does a low-rated non-phenomenon like "Veronica Mars" manage to get referenced in BOTH yesterday's bRAWd Recap *and* in the Satire? Although, Hocking, your ignorance is showing: Veronica's rape has long since been solved. The more pressing matter that all the cool kids are gonna be spending the summer debating is: who was the mystery person that showed up on Veronica's doorstep in the thrilling conclusion of the season finale? Actually: non-cool kids will debate, and the cool kids are in agreement that it should be Wallace. So get with the times, Matthew! And dammit, UPN, where's my check? Cut a couple for Erin and Matt, too! We've probably done more to help your Tuesday night ratings than a month's worth of Noted Tool Michael Cole's ham-handed paid endorsements on SD! Unlike him, *we* can be trusted!]
  • The rating for Monday: a 3.8, which is a drop of a third-of-a-point from the week before. 
    Strong competition from Game 1 of the Pacers/Pistons NBA Playoff Series (heavily hyped because of the early season brawl between the two teams) was no doubt SOMEWHAT of a factor here. But, much to my own personal agony, the game was pretty lop-sided and non-competitive, especially into the second half (which is the part which would have started over-lapping with RAW). And also confusing: RAW's first hour was SLIGHTLY higher rated than it's second (which would only have over-lapped with the less-heavily-hyped Western Conference playoff game).
    Thanks to Erin's assist on Monday, I watched RAW on heavy FF, which means I can't be sure, but for RAW to actually peak at the end of the first hour and then limp a bit in Hour Two before peaking again for the main event, that's usually indicative of a pacing issue... and I didn't really pick up on it since I could fly past "low content segments" bracketed by ads, but I'm thinking maybe some of the second hour was hurt by poor time management. Like putting the stupid-ass Stacy's Panties bit and a repeat of Cena's music video and stuff in there, without strongly-appealing material around it (instead, the Shelton/Conway match was probably not exactly inspiring people to stick around to enjoy the accompanying fluff).
    The fact that Michaels and Edge only got about 10 minutes for the main event ALSO suggests Time Management Issues to me. The one thing NOT suggested to me by RAW's second hour ratings decline is that Triple H's absence caused people to tune out. So don't even bother sending me the jokey e-mails about that, people...
  • With TNA's Hard Justice PPV taking place this weekend, the company is shaking things up behind the scenes: Dusty Rhodes has willingly stepped out of his role as the head booker for the company. This is not exactly a huge shock, as Dusty was falling out of political favor and had been quoted in interviews as saying that it'd gotten to the point where he was the head booker in name only, and was basically rubber stamping the ideas of others (including the "all cage match PPV" concept that he hated) in order to keep things running smoothly.  Because of the diplomatic way Dusty has handled his dwindling power, he's still on good terms with the company, and will remain employed as the on-screen commissioner guy. Or "Director of Authority," or whatever...
    The thinking is that with Dusty out, there is a greater chance that TNA will begin emphasizing younger, "in house" talents ahead of free agent veterans. This, despite sounding good in theory, may be easier said than done: TNA's massive shortcomings on the storyline side mean that most of their younger guys don't have the sort of well-rounded characters/personalities that you need out of top level stars. And because they've not been put into well-developed stories before, you're bound to have some limitations on what these guys can do in terms of promos and acting.
    A fer-instance: even though I loathe him, you look at Konnan in a backstage bit, and you get the sense that he's comfortable. And thus, he's believable and watchable. And then you look at AJ Styles, and he seems all the more a bland, cliche-spewing, deer-caught-in-headlights. You need to give the younger guys more repetitions so that they grow into having personas, and you need to give them quality material so that even if their delivery ain't so great, people will still be into the stories.
    I think shaking up the creative direction of the company is a perfect opportunity for TNA to make a concerted effort at changing the feel and pacing of their show, too. I've talked about this before, and TNA still hasn't done it, but what they need to do is to turn their weekly TV show into Event Programming. To me, there's a distinction between an "event" and a "show." Right now, RAW is an "event" every week, and so is SD!; everything is presented as plausibly live, which lends a certain sizzle to cuts between matches and in-ring promos and backstage skits. Heat and Velocity are just "TV shows"; canned, pre-packaged, with limited possibilities for surprises. Impact still has never shaken that "pre-packaged" feel. Everything on the show is compartmentalized (actually, the "countdown clock" on each match might have seemed like a good idea at first, but it's another little thing that pretty much screams, "This match must be contained within 10 minutes, so don't expect anything special") and sapped of its energy.
    But rumors continue to abound that TNA could be in for a jump away from FOX Sports so that they can get a weekly primetime slot (again, most likely on WGN)... so you take that along with the front office shake-up, and it's a good chance for them to try to reinvent themselves. Step one is definitely gonna have to be huge upgrades on the storytelling side; come to think of it, step two is gonna have to be in producing the storytelling side. Does anybody else ever just sigh in annoyance at the cable-access caliber production of all of TNA's backstage bits? Poor lighting, stilted dialogue, and WHY IN THE BLUE FUCK is there always some kind of cheesy background music playing VERY softly in the background? They need to make all those skits more natural and better-fitting into the rest of the show.
    But anyway, I think my main point here was just that TNA's head booker has been ousted. Replaced by a committee of the Usual Suspects, just prior to a PPV for the company. And actually, said PPV shall be previewed here on Friday by the more TNA-friendly Jason Longshore; and I'm not positive, but I think he might be bringing some fellow TNA fans with him from the OO Forums to supply a few alternate viewpoints, a la the "OO Roundtable" format for WWE PPVs. Oughta be cool, and give folks about as well-rounded a look at TNA as we've had here at OO since the days of publishing the TNA Weekly PPV recaps. So keep an eye out for that....
  • Speaking of head bookers of indie promotions being ousted...
    Jim Cornette is taking a leave of absence from his duties as the Big Cheese in OVW. His very Old School sensibilities apparently caused him to over-react to a relatively minor indiscretion by Kevin "Mordecai" Fertig, and Cornette's been asked to take a month or so to cool down and recharge his batteries.
    Don't know if this is for sure or not, but supposedly Tommy Dreamer is they guy WWE thinks should go down and pick up most of the slack for Cornette during his vacation. Which is probably interesting only to me, since wasn't it about 2-3 "April Fools" ago when I made up a story about Dreamer and Heyman taking over OVW in order to spice up the WWE developmental picture?
    Well, it'll only be for about a month, and it's not like Dreamer would have the chance to put his stamp on OVW in that amount of time (especially since he'll still be focusing his energies on the ECW PPV)... 
  • I do believe Luther Reigns has been released by WWE. Or such was the conventional wisdom at SD! tapings last night; I'm sure an official announcement will be forthcoming...
    I think I'm just gonna give up on trying to figure out WWE's personnel decisions. Because I know it's not like Luther was Chris Benoit in the ring, but his work was comparable to (or better than) many other muscle-bound lugs currently retaining their jobs. And unlike Heidenreich or Snitsky or Chris Fucking Masters, when Luther opened his mouth, it usually didn't suck, which makes him idea for a role as an enforcer or a bodyguard in a stable of wrestlers. You know: still plays important parts in stories and skits, but in terms of wrestling, he's not asked to carry a whole lot of singles matches. Sort of like how The Lovely Miss Tomko has taken advantage of his spot to inch towards tolerability.
    This could also be another case of WWE's "age-ism" coming into play, where they undervalue older guys on the grounds that if they have to put promotional/training effort into a wrestler, they'd rather have it be a guy who can give them 10-15 peak years of service once they click with fans. This is the reason why guys like Masters are rushed onto TV despite being visibly unready, but also why WWE was so hesitant to run with Project Batista in place of Project Orton (and also, I'd guess, why guys like Luther and Rico are released despite being entertaining niche acts).
  • I think that's about enough for today. Depending on what worthwhile news happens the rest of the week, I may see you Friday, or I may not. As mentioned above, not only will we have the TNA PPV Preview as a little bit of bonus material, but the Final For Real Finale of Matt's LotR Satire is in my hands and ready for print. I might not feel the need to sprain my brain unless there's something really interesting to talk about.
    So: see you when I see you, kids. And if you're not seeing me, make a note to make sure to see some of the other good stuff that'll be here in my stead. Later on....

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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