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RAW/Ratings, Draft Speculation,
TNA TV Update, Mysterio Injury, More
June 8, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Wow. Better Than Ezra still exists? Do I even want to wrack my brain (or further decimate my faith in humanity) by wondering why?
I mean, even 8 years ago, they were already a half-assed knock-off of Bush, who made no bones about being Nirvana wannabes (I even remember reading an interview with Bush's front man -- the useless prettyboy and noted Gwen-Stefani-bonologist -- in which he outright said he didn't know why people were so upset if they were "inspired by" Nirvana, since if

everybody liked Nirvana, then they should like Bush; idiot)... so even at the peak of pop culture relevance, Better Than Ezra was at least two degrees of separation away from deserving to exist.

And yet, there they were last night on Conan, stinking up the joint in their latest incarnation: apparently, since actual rocking is out, they stopped wanting to be grunge and are now re-invented as Generic Whiny Puss Rockers.  

Thank god the Foo Fighters have a new record coming out next week (actually, it's a DOUBLE album, and what I've heard off it so far is sweet)... I need to figure what the hell to do this weekend: MTV2 is doing 24 straight hours of Foo Fighters stuff, including live in-studio performances, but I'll be busy in Cincinnati, and DVR doesn't exactly have 24 hours of room on it. Dammit. Maybe it'll just be a deal where they have one six hour block that they repeat over and over again?

In any case, if you want to be my friend, you should be excited about that and try to check it out, and then offer to fill me in on anything cool that I miss due to being out of town. Then again, I'm such a devoted fan that I'm fully planning on sifting through the entire asinine MTV Movie Awards (the Oscars may be Awards By Self-Important Douches, but MTV's movie honors are Awards By Total Morons; any place where Jimmy Fallon can be held up as the Paragon of Wit and Charm and where "Meet the Fockers" can win any award other than "Most Jokes That Were Funniest The First Time Around And Had No Reason To Be Retold In A Sequel," you've got problems) just to see a 5 minute Foo Fighters performance tomorrow night. Maybe you don't want to be my friend if that's the sort of brain-cell-killing activity I'm willing to subject myself to.

I digress. Just be happy I didn't see fit to shoehorn a bunch of Eminem riffing into the above paragraph. Cuz I kinda wanted to. But I figure I can wait until I see what stupid thing he did at the movie awards and mock him specifically for that in the future (rather than mocking him, generally, on how we've collectively decided to put him in the Discard Pile along with Fred Durst, whether he likes it or not). Oh, and also, I decided it'd be better to get to the wrestling. I'm all about the bidness, baby:

  • One day later, and I'm still pretty damned pleased with Monday's RAW. Re-work the overwrought HHH/Batista crap so that it's a bit more natural, and I think would have had just about as strong a 2 hours as WWE could deliver at this point.
    Understanding that there are certain creative handcuffs, and trying to work around them, I can't muster up too much frustration over a few of RAW other minor holes. So WWE sees something in Chris Masters that none of the rest of us do, and so WWE's misguided female roster decisions have left the women's division in such a mess that Spaz is the lead babyface... these are things we gotta take as read, and work around them. Masters had an almost-watchable wrestling match and left the idiotic Full Nelson Challenge behind for once, so even if it belonged on Heat, that was a segment that was a value-add from the norm. And I guess if Spaz can't wrestle, at least having her Spaz Out will help cover up her deficiencies while she's learning (although, character-wise, she still needs to do something to win over fans, and random flailing won't do the trick; until she's taken seriously as a wrestler, any "feud" she's in will have about the same shelf-life as any involving Stacy Keibler; I'm not necessarily saying she has to do stunts that would turn her into the Girl Shane-o-Mac, but she does have to SHOW us, not tell us, that she's to be taken seriously as a wrestler before she'll be useful; still, using Trish's evolution as a gauge, Spaz is still YEARS away from making these improvements and getting comfortable; and you know from my Chris Masters' rants that I'm against somebody doing their improving on prime time TV, when there are underneath feuds and developmental territories for that). But dammit, when the parenthetical gets to be as long as the non-parenthetical part of a paragraph, perhaps I am once again digressing....
    Anyway, point was that there were some things that weren't perfect, but that accepting certain limitations, WWE did a good job making the bad seem tolerable. And plus: there's something to be said for getting to stop and catch your breath during a 2 hour show. RAW had the return of the sizzle, but the best way to make the big things seem REALLY big is to throw them into relief by giving fans a chance to rest and have a sense of anticipation build back up. RAW hit you SUPER hard in the opening 20 minutes with the surprise appearance by Cena and the generally excellent mic work by Jericho and Christian. They hit you just as hard again with the closing angle and the mini-invasion by ECW. Those two bookends alone would leave you satisfied.
    But they also tossed in a few other cool things along the way. For instance, I thought Shelton's match against the Ay-rabs was an outstanding showcase for the man who is making it his mission to steal the show every time he steps into a ring; there was a story to the match, and in the end, Shelton won and did so in a realistic fashion that made him look good but which also didn't in any way diminish Hassan. On a night short on wrestling, that match stood out as both the best and the longest display of in-ring action, and went a long way to fleshing out the middle of the show in a tasty fashion. Hell, I also liked some of the backstage stuff: Coach and Bischoff's ECW plotting seemed a bit better conceived this week, and their announcement of Steve Austin showing up next week was a cool little touch to make you as excited for next week's prospects as you were about this week's show. Hell, I even got a kick out of the Benoit/Tajiri/Regal thing, because I think it could have some cool repercussions down the line; if nothing else, Regal deserves lots better than his current role, and has a better chance of achieving that as a heel, since he doesn't exactly have a standard babyface look/act.
    So yeah, I was definitely a huge fan of Monday's RAW. Monday's RAW also made me a huge fan of the prospects for next week's show, too. It even makes me think that SD! could be getting interesting if we keep the Draft Lottery fireworks rolling. That's some good TV.
    You can get the full details and analysis of Monday's show in my OO RAW Recap. That was an odd one to write: I only really felt like "myself" during the HHH/Batista bit.... I've gotten so used to The Suck that I've almost forgotten how to convey a sense of pure enjoyment in an entertaining fashion. Oh well: nobody likes Vanilla Babyfaces anyway, so it's probably just as well my instinct was to still make assholish observations and jokes even when I was, technically, enjoying a segment. That's just how I roll. And admit it: you love it.
  • The rating for Monday's strong effort? A not-so-strong 3.7 cable rating. That is a nominal 0.1 gain from the past two weeks. But the past two weeks, as we've discussed, were tied for RAW's second-worst rating of 2005 (behind only the New Year's Weekend Show that was up against football and festivizing). So a one-tenth-of-a-point gain over what is essentially the brand's two worst showings of the year isn't exactly reason to throw a party.
    Now: in this case, there actually is a possible explanation/excuse (unlike the previous week, when people tried with a straight face to say that Memorial Day Weekend would still be affecting people's TV viewership by 9pm on a Monday night)... Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals drew a huge rating on TNT, and was actually the most watched show on all of TV (network or cable) in the 18-34 male demographic on Monday night. It also got a one-hour head-start on RAW, and was close throughout, not giving any viewers an opening to flick over to check RAW. I, myself, kept popping it up on pic-in-pic, and it did look like a good game. Of course, the wrong team won. Hated Pistons. Then again: I think I was cheering for Miami mostly just because when Dwayne Wade was at Marquette, the University of Dayton Flyers made him their bitch 2 of the 3 times we played. Which clearly means that if Wade's team won the NBA Finals, then the Dick Vitale Transitive Theory of Basketball applies, and this would mean the Dayton Flyers of a few years ago could have won the NBA Title, too. Let me have the fantasy, people.
    Anyway, basketball was huge on Monday, and might have drained away from of RAW's fringe audience. I still don't know that that's an excuse for lingering near your year-to-date worst rating, but it's something to consider.
    Another aspect of RAW's ratings performance on Monday: the show did not steadily add viewers, and the final quarter hour of the show was actually the lowest rated of the night. This was not something I really noticed as the show was on-going, because I was so confident we were building to a cool ECW Finish... but the pacing during RAW's final half-hour really was a trainwreck.
    For one: among more casual fans who might not have sensed the big finish coming, Gene Snitsky in a main event? That's instant death. Immediately preceeding that was Kane's non-match, which seemed sort of a superfluous segment that went nowhere. And in the final quarter hour, RAW actually had three commercial breaks, which is like giving fans permission to wander. The final QH started in an ad break; we came back for about 8 minutes of Benoit/Snitsky; broke again; came back for a "moments ago" package and the brief Coach/Dudleys angle; broke AGAIN; and by the time we came back for the finale, it was actually after 11pm (eastern).
    I think that's your reason why the final QH might have tanked... if paced differently, I think you might have not had such a problem, since viewers obviously DID have an interest in the ECW finale: the over-run did turn out to be the highest rated segment of the night despite the poor "lead-in." People liked where RAW was going, but it doesn't seem they were enamored with the route taken to get there.
    It's gotta be a pacing issue there... and it might be a bit of an insight into how RAW's marginal/casual fans are different from us: perhaps a bit more desirous of Instant Gratification, they are, and they won't sit through interminable stretches of Ads and Snitsky to get to the Good Part?
  • One thing that it looks like you can forget about is RAW getting a little Monday Night Competition starting on June 20... although a little goosing from TNA might help RAW focus and avoid such pacing problems, WGN has no plans to air wrestling two Mondays from now.
    On new schedules just released to cable companies: on Monday night, 6/20, WGN plans on airing one of the many Billy Crystal alleged Romantic Comedies that I've never been remotely interested in seeing. On the grounds that I've seen 2 and that was 1 too many. The one WGN is airing on June 20 is called "Forget Paris." I guess, technically, that COULD change, but if WGN's circulating that schedule and already has something concrete in the time slot, instead of "TBA" or whatever, that's GOT to be a pretty solid sign that they aren't exactly holding TNA's timeslot with the intent of a deal being made in the next 10 days.
    What's this mean? Well, for now, all I'll cop to is that it means that TNA won't be on WGN on June 20. Maybe they'll be there on June 27. Or maybe not. Even if they got the Monday Night WGN slot on 6/27, they'd get pre-empted the next week, so that's not exactly how you make a big splash. Maybe we all should start thinking about July 11, if obsess over TNA's TV prospects we must...
    If nothing else, I think Matt Hardy would be legally allowed to appear on July 11, which would be one way to make a big splash (although there are also fresh rumblings that Matt and WWE have spoken and might want to patch things up, too, so who knows if TNA would want to put what passes for their promotional machine behind Matt if Matt has reasons to not want to sign a long-term TNA contract?).
    Again: I know some TNA apologists try to find ways to spin this as a good thing (that TNA can use this break to shore up plans and reinvent itself before hitting prime time), and others don't see how big a deal it is if TNA doesn't have a TV show since nobody was really watching it when they DID have a TV show... but to me (and to pretty much 95% of people in the wrestling business), it's already impossible to have a perception of TNA as any kind of a serious competitor/alternative to WWE. Bungling your TV situation only compounds that problem. Which sucks, because what I (and what everybody in the business) wants is for there to be competition: it's better for the fans and it's better for the guys (and girls) who go out there and entertain the fans. 
    We'll have to see how this one ends up. Maybe Mouthy McBushleague from NWA-Ohio actually was telling the truth when he said the WGN deal was dead? At the very least, we now know that if it's still alive, it won't kick in until AFTER the widely-rumored June 20 date.
  • I've assiduously kept myself spoiler-free with regards to SD!, but I don't guard against speculation and informed rumor-mongering...
    In a bit of news that I'm not so sure I approve of, WWE is guarding their draft plans very closely, and not even letting the wrestlers know until the last second. Supposedly, a good percentage of the RAW locker room didn't even know Cena was in the building when he made his entrance. This is, bottom line, a case of WWE's patented head-up-its-own-assery. They're worried about all the wrong things, and seem to obsess over minor issues while losing sight of the big picture. What good does it do to keep everybody on pins and needles? Wouldn't it be better to have the entire month-long draft already plotted out, to already know the End Game, and to be fine-tuning the week-to-week plans by consulting with the wrestlers in question?
    I'd think so. But WWE is apparently more concerned with 10% of its audience having some clue, ahead of time, about who'll be switching brands. Hey dum dums: looks not only do a lot of folks, myself included, prefer not to read spoilers, but even if we can make educated guesses, IT DOESN'T MATTER. The joy of it isn't in reading about some possible big twist; it's in SEEING THE BIG TWIST EXECUTED WELL. So maybe worry less about keeping your own workers in the dark, and worry more about planning carefully so that each of the next 7 draft nights is as much fun as the first, and so that when this is all over, you've told the stories of the draft in the best possible way, OK? 
    I know for a fact that nobody knew for sure (or at least, nobody was saying out loud) who would be jumping from RAW to SD! at tapings on Monday night. But I do know that after Cena was announced, all speculation turned to a very small handful of possibilities.
    The backstage thinking is that WWE wants to "honor" draft results on house show line-ups for the month. No matter if John Cena's just gonna end up traded back to SD! by the end, he might actually be working RAW house shows until that actually happens. So to maintain parity, the theory was that RAW would have to reciprocate by sending SD! a top-level babyface. Although there are no house shows this weekend, you'd need something to create balance on TV starting tomorrow night... the thinking is that a top fan favorite needed to go to SD! at last night's tapings.
    So with that in mind, the wheels started churning... most figured that Jericho and Kane are "safe" on the grounds that they have current issues on RAW (Jericho, in the short term, has a tag match next Monday with Cena; Kane has this big deal with Edge/Lita). Shawn Michaels is presumed safe because even though he'd be a big name, he's also not able to work and thus not the guy you need to provide balance on TV and on house shows.
    That left speculation down to three: Batista, Benoit, or Shelton Benjamin. Batista, because of how they framed the contract signing, could be drafted to SD!, but could also still have his issue with HHH settled. He's a possibility, but I'd hope like hell WWE wouldn't be so stupid as to ask fans to believe that the "luck of the draw" resulted in both champions switching in the same week. That'd be like getting dealt pocket aces twice in a row.
    So although there was a "Batista Camp," I'm not buying that, and I'm down to wondering about Shelton or Benoit. Neither has anything that important brewing on RAW. Benoit has been stuck as kind of an ECW whipping boy, and although I'd prefer to see him follow up on something with Regal, I'd be just as excited if he jumped over to SD! and got to play with Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero on a weekly basis. Plus, you could even do a thing were Benoit would be a tweener: you could have ANYbody on the SD! roster come at Benoit, and play up the angle that he "abandoned" the brand when he won the Rumble and jumped to RAW, and pissed off everybody, both heel and babyface. Some cool possibilities. And plus: Benoit's a proven main eventer, so you could plug him into Cena's bookings (all with JBL), and it wouldn't be a problem. Hell, it might even fit perfectly, if Benoit CONTINUES to be an ECW whipping boy, and if JBL continues to be anti-ECW. So I could dig that.
    But I could also dig Shelton. It's still a "champion-for-champion" deal, which is kinda nice (and again: you can un-do or reset a lot of these draft picks at the end of the month with trades). In the short term, it could be a HUGE (and well-deserved) boost for Shelton to be a default main eventer. It'd be a neat little counter-point to Shelton's post-draft success last year: last year, the draft turned Shelton from a tag wrestler into a singles star, and it all happened so fast that you couldn't believe it, but Shelton carried the ball and ran with it... this year, the draft could turn Shelton from a singles star into a main eventer, and it could also happen Just That Fast. Let's just say nobody's gonna be rushing to pay to see Orlando Jordan defend the US Title in SD! main events.... but Shelton, the IC Title, and the right opponent? That could at least make for a nice semi-main event thing that boosts Shelton's stock and the stock of the IC belt. If Shelton were to move and it was permanent, then I could also undo my insistence that Haas get drafted to RAW... Shelton vs. Haas works just as well over on SD!. That, of course, would come down the line, after Shelton got a much bigger feud to kick off his SD! singles career.
    No spoilers, just speculation here.... but putting the pieces together, given what there is to know about WWE's intentions for the next month, I'd feel really happy if it ended up being one of Shelton or Benoit who jumps to SD! tomorrow night. It's not only a perfect way to "balance" things for SD!, but they are the two RAW guys who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by switching at this point in case you wanted to make the jumps permanent.
  • Something I forgot to mention in my "house show newsbites" bullet point back on Monday...
    Rey Mysterio missed weekend house shows, presumably still with the ankle injury that caused him to miss a few shows the weekend before, and also miss SD! tapings. Furthermore, Rey was not scheduled or expected at last night's SD! tapings, either.
    Much like Shawn Michaels' knee situation, the injury severity was downplayed at first, but continued absences lead one to wonder...
    Rey is still scheduled for Sunday's ECW PPV, in a match against Psicosis. It's possible the no-shows are just a precaution to make sure Rey can go at the PPV... but hell, it's the Smark Condition to also wonder if Rey won't be at 100% at One Night Stand, and if trying to go out there and put on the kind of match he put on in 1996 is such a good idea.
    I guess it boils down to we don't really know for sure how bad Rey's hurting if he's missing house shows and TV tapings... but if we just cool our jets for 4 more days, we'll find out soon enough.
  • Although Kane never got his "I'm a weenie, distract me from my gentle sobbing" Match on RAW, he actually did get it during a commercial break... live fans in St. Louis saw Kane destroy Simon Dean in less than a minute.
    Also of note from off-air RAW tapings happenings: Rob Conway wrestled Sylvain Grenier prior to RAW. Now, this *will* be a Heat match in a few overseas markets, but it won't "count" in terms of the WWE Canon. Because North America will get a special ECW-themed Heat show this weekend (which I think should be sweet, even you don't intend to check the PPV, if you tune into Heat, you might get roped in, anyway). And if it doesn't happen on American TV, then IT DIDN'T HAPPEN AT ALL.
    Still: that they had those two work against each other has me definitely thinking that the draft will result in a shuffling of La Resistance. Conway played the babyface on Monday, and is also, speaking bluntly, the most talented guy of the original 3 La Resistance members. I could see Grenier once again teaming full time with Rene Dupree, and Conway could ride this momentum to singles semi-stardom (or to finding another partner to form a tag team in which he could start showcasing some Real Personality, instead of being a one-dimensional "French sympathizer," and then ride THAT momentum to an eventual singles roll).
  • Correcting myself from the RAW Recap: the hell that will be Diva Search 2005 will NOT actually start next Monday. I guess either Lawler misspoke, or I misheard, or something.
    Rather: the 8 finalists *will* be determined over this weekend at a casting call in Los Angeles, but they will not appear on TV until June 27. *That* will mark the beginning of The Suck. 
    And again: if there's a silver lining here, it's that there are only 8 finalists this year, instead of a dozen. That's less weeks of eliminationing for us to endure. And thus: less chance for horseshit like Spaz sitting on a pie or attempted seduction of Kamala.
    The real drama, if you ask me: will this year's Diva Search bring us such obnoxiously worthless failed actress/models that I'll be able to quickly and easily come up with dismissive pet names for them like I did last year? And hell, if I do, will any of those pet names have the legs that "Red Headed Spaz" wound up having?
  • Lots of folks mailing in asking about Brock Lesnar's situation with WWE... apparently, the relationship has turned significantly more acrimonious in the last couple weeks. 
    I'm no lawyer, nor am I particularly interested in soul-crushing details of frivolous litigation, but the deal is basically that Lesnar and his legal team want something called a summary judgment from the court, which I guess is just a judge deciding the enforceability of Lesnar's No Compete Clause based on standing precedent. But WWE wants to argue the case in court and defend its position, so they are against the Lesnar request for summary judgment, and on top of that, they claim that Lesnar's side has not cooperated in terms of "discovery" (read: "supplying all information and documentation the other side requests so that it can be used as evidence").
    Sounds like a lot of dick-waving and head-butting for a situation that pretty much boils down to Brock trying to back-door his way out of a deal of his own making. Which isn't cool. You don't gum up the legal system trying to litigate your way out of making poor personal/career decisions. If Brock had just handled his business a little differently last year, none of this would be an issue...
    In any case, the fact that it has come to this apparently means that there will NOT be an out-of-court settlement, which is what just about every lawyer who wrote in to me back when the suit was originally filed seemed to think would happen.
  • That's all I got today, folks. I'm still working out the kinks and trying to decide exactly what form it will take, but my Friday column will have a heavy taint of ECW.
    Maybe not so much a straight match-by-match PPV Preview, but more just an overview of ECW and what kinds of cool things have happened in the past, and what other ones might happen at One Night Stand. One way or another, I hope to include at least a few brief notes from the trOOps so that, even if we aren't battling for Prediction Supremacy, we still get to hear a few thoughts from the Bestest Crew of Columnists on the Interweb, all with unique backgrounds and memories of ECW, and thus all with different ideas about what Sunday's PPV is all about.
    So whatever I do on Friday: it should be pretty neat. Come on back to check that out.

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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