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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, WWE Counters SpikeTV's UFC Plans,
WWE Fiscal Report Analysis, and MORE! 
September 7, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

You know, at one point last night, I was thinking I got my PreRamble Material from the Daily Show, and that I might surprise a few of you by violently deviating from My Idol, Jon Stewart's, publicly stated opinions.
  
But then I realized: eh, I already used up my one politics-based rant for the week. You people don't want that.

So as I was turning it over in my brain, I decided I'd REALLY surprise you people. By admitting a new TV show I'm watching. One that you'd never guess. Go ahead. Try. You'll never get it.

 
It's the "Rock Star: INXS" thing on CBS. Why, you ask? Well mostly it's because of a conversation I had back during the closing weeks of "American Idol." I'm not an "American Idol" fan, I don't really see the appeal of watching a batch of vapid windbags belting out karaoke. But in order to be able to intelligently carry on conversations about why Bo Bice is actually the most tolerably talented person to ever come through the show, I was checking it out a little bit. And then, in discussing the show, I stumbled across a theory: that "American Idol" would be a LOT cooler if they had a live band, and if they asked the performers to not just stand there and sing like it's a Celine Dion show, but actually made them interact with the band and the audience, like they would if they were fronting a real rock band. That was my idea for how you could make me more interested in "American Idol," and it was had back last April-ish. I can deliver a witness, if need be.

So then, 2 months ago, I was watching CBS' late night programming, and for some reason, wasn't utilizing a time-shift, so I actually was exposed to some commercials. Which is when I saw the ad for "Rock Star: INXS" and realized they had stolen my idea. And well: in order to see if my idea was right or not, I did kinda have to watch. Which I did, and I think I was DEFINITELY on to something. The pure vocal talent isn't the same as "American Idol," but guess what? It doesn't fricking have to be.... "vocalists" are boring. To me, at least. All power to anybody out there who is actually dumb enough to pay to see Josh Groban live, when it'll have all the same visceral appeal as listening to one of his crap-ass CDs. Live music performances require another dimension, and *that* (in addition to vocal talent) is what's on display on this show.

Now, I've missed more than my fair share of weeks. Two of them because I was on vacation. A few more of them because, well, at the end of the day, this is still a fricking contest to find a new singer for INXS, who has not been relevent since 1988, near as I can tell. But I think I can still safely advocate the show as "The Better Version of American Idol" to anybody out there who actually loves AI. I'm especially motivated to mention it because I dug the format to last night's show. Since they're down to just a few remaining contestants, they aren't just doing one song. They had to compile a "mini-set." Which is, you know, actually like performing a real show. The kicker? They had to do one ORIGINAL song that they, themselves, wrote. And NOW we are getting into the realm of somebody who might actually deserve to be on stage in front of a paying audience (even if all but one of the originals sucked ass, it's STILL a great way to tell what each performer has in 'em). Any hoo, I thought it was a WAY more interesting way to assess someone's ability than standing them on a stage to do karaoke.  

For whatever it's worth: my favorite is the Jordis chick. She's had the most consistently-good performances of everyone, she also has the highlight of the entire series to date (a performance of Nirvana's version of David Bowie's "Man Who Sold The World" that ruled), and somehow she's pulling off a version of being "Pink Hot" (you know, not even close to pretty along any standard metrics, possessing an overpoweringly-annoying sense of Personal Style, yet still mysteriously sexy). But that said, I'm only cheering for her to come in second place: she's just like Bo... she'll be better served NOT winning the prize and getting to go off and do her own thing. Let one of the other tools who'd fit in better onstage with INXS (and who have all absolutely SLAUGHTERED all the various Nirvana and Foo Fighters songs they have attempted, ESPECIALLY the douche who made a mockery of "Come As You Are" just last night) win. 

My only problem: Dave Navarro is the Paula Abdul of this show. And I'd fricking expect so much better out of him. But I guess any guy who's going home every night to the inventor of Stripperobics herself probably has no reason to be even remotely upset with anything in life. So he's just perpetually easily-impressed, it seems. Which is too bad, because there's a lot that's deserved more of the "Simon Treatment" on this show, and they don't really have a signature asshole.

OK, so admit it: on your list of "Things Rick Might Talk About in a PreRamble," where'd this one rank? Somewhere in the mid six-digits, I would presume. Mock me if you must, but I consider it personally vindicating that this idea I had 5 months ago has been borne out like this. But I'm sure you'd consider it a better use of my time if I quit bragging about it and just got on with the show. So here:

  • I have not yet softened on Monday's RAW. Eight matches and all, dense pacing and all, it's still a show that left you with a bad taste in your mouth at the end of the night. And that's not how you do bidness.
     
    For a little piece of mental gymnastics, I tried to envision how I would have felt if they changed it up and just used Cena/Tomko as the main event (hey, it's not really any less appealing to average fans than Chris F. Masters getting the slot), and ended the show with Kurt's bad-ass beatdown, instead. I think that would have worked LOTS better.
     
    As a bonus, in this "Rick Remix" version of RAW, Chris F. Masters' "win" over Shawn could have come in the first hour, and then there are a few trickle down effects: (1) you don't have to run any of those insultingly patronizing "Masters Highlight Montages" that come off as more desperate than anything else. (2) You can bump Masters' shitty promo from the format sheet, and replace it with a post-match skit/vignette in which a bloodied Shawn Michaels demands another shot at Masters. This way, (3) you don't telegraph the finish of the Full Nelson Challenge by just announcing a Michaels/Masters match for the PPV out of the blue; you actually have it come about logically and organically. 
     
    See, these are the things that -- if only the Hollywood Writer Monkeys would stop and think -- are not THAT hard to come up with. Not only do you stop RAW from thudding to an anticlimax, you'd tighten up some of the logic and continuity, and you'd end the show with your focus on the WWE Title feud (and with the crowd actually going nuts because of what an asshole Kurt is, instead of grumbling in repressed frustration because of what a worthless tool Masters is). Why do I seem to be the only one trying to figure this shit out, dammit? And I'm not even on the payroll. Although I continue to believe the world would be a better place if I was....
     
    Anyway, it's a show that tried to do a lot of things... and it just so happened that only one of them worked. Kurt Angle was gold. Everything else flopped. This is especially problematic this close to a PPV....
     
    Looking at Unforgiven, you have a 55-year-old man holding up half of the #2 match on the card. One of only three matches that looks like it might be even remotely entertaining. Because as long as they do next week what they did this week, I think Cena vs. Angle should be OK. And while it won't be a rocketbuster, Flair vs. Carlito should be a lot of fun. I think maybe we've switched gears out of "it's a shoot mode" and can count on Edge and Matt to have a decent match at the PPV, too. But after that? Crap, crap, and more crap.
     
    Michaels/Masters and Big Show/Snitsky are already locked in, and are already being served with court papers. The charge? Criminal negligence allowing vastly undertalented stiffs to appear on PPV, dragging two much more worthwhile talents down with them. You can probably count on Hurricane/Rosey vs. Murdoch/Cade, too, which isn't gonna set the world on fire. And I'd put good money on Shelton vs. Kerwin, now, too, which sucks; six months ago, I'd have had a raging Metaphorical Boner at the thought of Shelton vs. Chavo, but packaged this way, it'll probably fall well short of expectations. Since other than Cena/Angle and Edge/Matt, I can't see any of these matches lasting longer than 10 minutes without losing the crowd (or testing Flair's endurance), there's probably even room for 1 or 2 more matches. But if you can find 1 or 2 more matches that you think are even HEAT Caliber, then you're a better fan than I.
     
    It just feels, for all the world, like RAW's gone SD! on us. I can't see this PPV drawing well at all. And it didn't have to be like this. But it is. Oh well.
     
    It's making me sad thinking about it all again. So instead of doing that, I'll just direct you to yesterday's OO RAW Recap, which will NOT make you sad. Because you know the deal here at OO: we pride ourselves on making our Recaps better than the shows themselves. This week, it wasn't even really that hard to do.
     
  • No ratings as of this early afternoon writing. Delays due to the Labor Day Holiday is my guess. Wouldn't surprise me if the number came in a bit low.... combination of the final Holiday Festivities and the simple fact that I don't see Chris F. Masters being the kind of carrot you dangle in front of a rabbit unless you just want the rabbit to drowse off or change the channel.
     
  • I mentioned RAW's 8 matches, and in the recap, said that has to be some kind of record (at least, going back all the way to the days of Vince Russo's Crash TV).... turns out, I lied.
     
    The Cubs Fan keeps track of things like this, and mailed in to let me know that less than a year ago, RAW had 8 matches. It was on December 27, 2004... but the catch? That was "Beat the Clock" night on RAW, so it was kind of a gimmicky deal built into the show. The matches that night were mostly short and crappy by design. Even then, if memory serves, two of the BTC matches STILL ended up being pretty good and lengthy, right?
     
    Not so this time around: a few of the matches really kinda sucked, and the best ones peaked "average" and around 5 minutes. And also: there was no "storyline" reason for the sense of "throwing it against the wall to see what'll stick" we got this week.
     
    Anyway, I just thought I'd come clean and let you all know I was (inadvertantly) hyperbolizing about the 8 matches being a notable record.
     
  • WWE has officially announced its plans for dealing with the halving of SD! on Friday night....
     
    What they did last night (in Atlanta, where it should be noted there was no OO presence in the front row; either a surefire sign that SD! is considered the Minor Leagues by Discerning Fans, or a surefire sign that the chance to taunt Randy Orton with a clever sign is NOT enticement enough to plop down $40) was tape a standard two hour show. This is actually necessary because of WWE's foreign broadcast commitments. Including in Canada, where you will see a full two-hour version of SD! tomorrow night, while us American's have to wait till Friday to see our one-hour version. Fricking Canucks.
     
    However. WWE's "solution" is to offer the first hour of SD! for free on their website starting at 8pm sharp on Friday night, which will then segue smoothly into the 9pm start of SD! on UPN. I know fully expect to hear it from Jason Longshore or his OO Forums Posse when they do the TNA PPV Preview on Friday.... because here's WWE stealing a tried and true tactic of podunk little TNA that The Rick doesn't pay enough attention to. D'oh.
     
    If it's any consolation to my Loyal (and Fellow TNA-Ignoring) Readership, I doubt very seriously that I'm any more likely to watch Hour One of SD! online than I've been to watch any episodes of TNA online. I just.... I dunno.... watching TV on your computer seems really lame to me, though. Until I again have a cheap old "media PC" I can hook up to my TV, I just have this strong concept of what you're supposed to use computers for. You watch TV on your TV, dammit, which is why I don't do "streaming video." You use bars or telephones to meet people or talk to people, which is why I suck at answering e-mail and find Instant Messaging/Chat Room so woefully sucky and inadequate for meaningful dialogue. And I could go one, but I realize I'm digressing rather rapidly from the point....
     
    Which is that Hour One of SD! will be on WWE.com at 8pm eastern (and probably still available after that, since they have the west coast to deal with, and then all the people that won't get SD! until Saturday night because of baseball preemptions).
     
    My understanding (I have not fully spoiled, but I had to check one match outcome to determine how Recapping would be handled this week) is that they will do the Eddie/Rey cage match, the Benoit/OJ IC Title Match, and the Batista/JBL World Title Match in hour two on UPN. Everything else they promised will be on the webcast. 
     
    FYI: The SD! Recapping this week will probably be done by me. And posted on Monday. I have had enough interest from North of the Border to give the Canuck Recap Experiment a try, but I see no point unveiling it in a week when the show they'd recap is different from the one we'll be seeing domestically. Because we all know that the American Version is the REAL version! But anyway: some of you Canadians who've expressed an interest, be on the look out for some correspondence from The Rick as I try to get that deal in gear for NEXT week.
     
  • On the heels of SpikeTV confirming that they will have a live UFC Special Event on Monday Night October 3 (the first night RAW moves back to USA), WWE has gone on the offensive and released information about their USA Network Return.
     
    They are dubbing it "A Night of Champions" (umm, not to be unnecessarily morbid, but wasn't that the subtitle of the Final Nitro Ever?)... and the guest list includes Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Hulk Hogan, Triple H, and Vince McMahon. They are really loading it up, and with good reason. They NEED to make a splash that night, and they can't let Spike/UFC/TNA have even a one-week foothold.
     
    Again, I'm not TOO worried. A UFC special event comprised mostly of jobby jobbers won't really dent RAW's audience that much. Like I said, the last card they did like this really sucked donkey cock, and I felt taken advantage of for wasting 3 hours of DVR space on it when I managed to watch the whole show in 30 minutes. There is also another thing to consider: much of UFC's ratings success on Spike came BECAUSE of wrestling. RAW's lead-in made the stupid reality TV show a success, and then that, in turn, spawned the pair of Fight Night's Spike has run already. Unless the wrestling fans who helped make those shows successful have also traded allegiences and are now bigger UFC fans than wrestling fans, my guess would be they'd still stick with RAW, especially if RAW is loading up the show. Not saying there won't be channel flipping, but I think a lot of UFC's Spike viewers might have their attention elsewhere on October 3.
     
    And then after October 3? Well, it's just back to whatever movies or CSI reruns Spike is gonna air on Mondays. RAW shouldn't have a problem against those.
     
    My understanding is that the 10/3 UFC special is gonna run 3 hours, from 9 till midnight, as well. Which means that the one good match I know they've signed for the show (featuring somebody I've heard of, at least) will happen after RAW's off the air. Fans of both wrestling and UFC can finish watching RAW, and then switch over for the 2 or 3 last matches on the UFC thing.
     
    After the UFC event concludes, the replay of the first ever TNA Impact on Spike will take place. If it's me running the network? I move the UFC start time up to 8 pm (to get the jump on RAW, and have them hooked so they can't flip away), tell UFC to be my guest and take about 10 minutes of extra time, and then run TNA Impact at 11:10pm (eastern), pretty quickly after RAW goes off the air and when interested viewers might be flipping over. You wanna be a dick? THAT is how you be a dick.
     
  • Speaking of TNA.... they've signed another former WWE Diva. Jackie Gayda. Huh. 
     
    I couldn't say enough good about the acquisition of Gail Kim, but this one's a head-scratcher. To me, anyway. You want ring-capable, you probably need to look elsewhere... you want hot, you can probably get it cheaper elsewhere. But I guess TNA wants that prized combination of sorta-trained and pretty-hot? That's what Miss Jackie's all about...
     
    Only thing I can figure is that maybe this is some sort of maneuver designed to lure Jackie's husband, Charlie Haas, to TNA. Me? I'd like to see a Haas/Styles match... because of WWE's nincompoopery, that's as close as I'll ever get to seeing the Haas/Shelton program that I thought should have been a fricking no-brainer. Except it'll happen with no compelling story in TNA. But oh well.... in any case, Haas and Matt Morgan are the two guys that I think WWE might be sorry they dropped. I don't know if TNA's competent enough to do anything with them, but I know if I was holding the purse strings, they'd be two of the guys I'd be willing to spend on.
     
  • And lastly today.... a quick rundown of some WWE Financial Stuff, since (a) WWE announced most recent fiscal quarter earnings today, and (b) I have a business degree so I might as well pretend like I still remember any of that crap from 7 years ago.
     
    The basic story: YAY, We made more money this quarter than we did the same quarter last year! Looking a bit closer: that story is partially an illusion, as once again, WWE's PPV schedule created an artificial revenue gain. They had 5 PPVs last fiscal quarter, instead of 4 the year before. In pragmatic terms, the "added" PPV was the ECW One Night Stand show; but the way WWE broke it down, they pair the shows up chronologically and say that Backlash, due to a trick of the calendar, is the "added show." In either case, it amounted to a $5 million increase in WWE's PPV Revenue for this quarter. [In fairness, in addition to an extra PPV, one of the pre-existing PPVs, Vengeance did surprisingly huge numbers as compared to last year. Then again, this year's Vengeance was practically a cross-brand Super Show, as it took place in the midst of all the Draft Lottery chaos and had a loaded line-up.]
     
    WWE's total revenues were up a total of $12 million for the quarter as compared to last year. So the $5 million is a pretty significant chunk of that coming from the illusory PPV gains. Also: Home Video sales were $3 higher this quarter than last year, which is big (but which might also be illusory, since WM's DVD was released a fiscal quarter earlier last year, and that contributed a lot to Home Video's gain this year). There were also gains of $4 million in the Licensing category (this is the money WWE gets from makers of video games and action figures and stuff); and I can't say anything bad about that figure. It just means that people are buying more of WWE's shit. Which is what WWE wants to do.
     
    So that pretty much amounts to the full $12 million, right? Yup. All other sectors were reasonable steady, with gains or losses of less than a million bucks as opposed to last year. Which means, in a nutshell: business still sucks in the most pertinent metrics of ratings, event attendence, and and stuff like that. Glancing over the data, there really is nothing interesting to talk about there. Whatever the story was last spring and summer, basically it's the same story this spring and summer.
     
    The accompanying Conference Call With Investors, hosted by the vivacious Linda McMahon, also didn't really yield any pertinent info. A lot of bland pleasantries about the TV situation looking up with a jump to USA, a lot of spinning the financial data in a positive way, but not a lot of good questions from jerk-ass fans like us who'd like a chance to grill WWE about things we (as non-investors) care about. In fact, unless you actually give a shit about WWE's upcoming film releases, I don't think there's a single thing she really talked about that you shouldn't already know from OO's coverage of the rasslin' biz.
     
  • So that's all I got for you today, folks. Enjoy your Wednesday (hey, just a suggestion, but Erin and I aren't kidding when we talk about this "Veronica Mars" show, OK? You still have time to see exactly why Erin loved it and why I, after a few weeks of grumbling/bitching/moaning, admitted I could see myself tolerating it back last fall... the last few shows from last season -- probably the most interesting few hours of the season -- are now here in reruns in the show's new Wednesday night timeslot; you could do worse with your evening than checking it out, seeing if you like what you see, and deciding if you might want to be along for the ride when the NEW shows start in a few weeks).... and I may or may not see you on Friday. Without SD! to talk about, I might be short on material, and we will have Jason and Co.'s TNA PPV Preview that will deserve a look-see. Hell, I'll admit I don't even fucking know the name of the PPV this weekend, but I know that if I thought it justified the full pricetag of the PPV, even *I* am interested in the prospects for Styles vs. Chris Daniels vs. Samoa Joe.
     
    So not knowing for sure when I'll see you next, have as many good nights and pleasant tomorrows as you like, and I'll be back just as soon as there's wrestling stuff worth talking about! Later on, peoples....   


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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