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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW Rating Nosedive, More Posturing by
WWE/USA/SpikeTV, and Other News 
September 14, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Anybody else getting really sick of all the self-righteous blame-laying that is permeating the media with regards to hurricane relief efforts?
  
I mean, don't get me wrong: nobody finds it any more simultaneously hilarious and pitiful that Mike Brown got appointed to head FEMA after a distinguished career of getting fired from judging horse shows, and all... there's certainly plenty of things that were done wrong both in terms of preparedness and in execution of relief efforts to justify a

bit of frustration and anger directed at the federal authorities.

But this is getting ridiculous. I can't even watch my beloved Late Night TV Shows, recently, without be bludgeoned over the head by normally-sensible persons intent on turning this into something that it's not. There's enough blame to go around, including at the state and local levels (hey, you build a city below sea level, then MAYBE you want to read and react to reports prepared by experts with regards to your hurricane preparedness), certainly at the personal responsibility level (this goes for people who were too stubborn to adhere to evacuation orders, for one; and for two, go back to the "fuckwits" rant I did a few weeks ago about people who stayed opting to make things worse by becoming looters and rapists), and HEY, here's a notion... a bit of blame for Mother Nature, too. That bitch.

Again: let's not completely forget about the appointment of Mike Brown and the REAL oversights made by the federal government. But let's be realistic and quit annoying me with a non-stop barrage of self-righteous posturing, dammit... twits who came out with theories about how the Government Was Responsible For 9/11 were generally dismissed as morons. I'd like roughly the same reaction to people who are now looking to suggest that the government is responsible for creating hurricanes and pointing them at populated areas. In both cases: something unprecedented happened and nobody was prepared. It's not willful, but it is an oversight, and I know things changed after 9/11, just as I'm sure things will change after Katarina.

Hell, they already have. The coverage of and reaction to wimpy little Hurricane Ophelia proves it. So please: to all douchebags, I beg you to just chill the hell out. I mean, no Bush Lover am I, but there are lots of better things you could be pinning on him that this... LOTS of them. Why not work America into a tizzy about some of them, instead?

Enough venting. On with (what passes for) the wrestling news, today:

  • Apparently my feelings towards Monday's RAW were a bit more widely-held than I would have guessed.
     
    I kinda thought there'd be a bit of backlash on me, since I've gotten a pretty good handle on what you folks like and dislike. Three longish 12-minute matches, and I thought you'd be a bit more placated. Guess not. You all seemed every bit as underwhelmed as I was.
     
    Most of you who mentioned it also felt that my little thesis about the craptacularity of Unforgiven is probably a big part of the reason why RAW has been so forgettable the past few weeks. Of those who agreed with that, several even posited that RAW is doing this on purpose, and is saving back "the good stuff" for when they get back to USA Network.
     
    Let me just say: I fricking hope that's not the case. I mean, fine, if TNA (with its limited resources and spotty track record) wants to hold back big angles and debuts till they get back on TV, I understand that. But WWE has all the resources it needs so that it should NEVER suck, and on top of that, they ARE ON TV RIGHT NOW. What fricking sense does it make to put on crappy shows now and arbitrarily pick October 3 as the date when you'll stop putting on crappy shows?
     
    In this case, I think WWE just brainfarted on Unforgiven. They thought they could sell that show same as any other. They didn't intentionally sandbag it so they could limp through a few final half-assed weeks of RAW on Spike. I want to believe this. I want to believe that RAW gets better NEXT WEEK, when Unforgiven is done and RAW can start moving forwards to its next PPV (which will be the gimmick-driven Taboo Tuesday). The thought that a billion dollar company could be so lazy (or so out of ideas) that they'd intentionally put out a shoddy product for ANY reason is simply distasteful to me.
     
    So that's what's been going on... you build a PPV card that's predicated on people caring about Chris F. Masters in a semi-main event, and this is what happens. People keep mail me, saying I should chill out, because if Michaels got a good match out of Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam, he'll do the same with Masters at this PPV. Bzzzt. Guess again. Is Masters physically capable of doing everything Hogan did? Sure. But the problem is that NOBODY CARES ABOUT CHRIS MASTERS. It might be Uncool of me to say, but Hogan really did hold up his half of the SummerSlam match simply because he's Hulk Hogan, and whatever limited things he does, people will go nuts over. Yes, Michaels did all the "work," but Hogan contributed something important, too. Masters will not be contributing ANYthing on Sunday; Michaels can bump around all he wants, and it won't matter.  The last few weeks of THUDtastic RAW segments featuring Chris F. Masters are what you need to be looking at for indicators of what to expect; not at Michaels' work against Hogan last month.
     
    In addition to lacking the real stellar story-telling/star-power type stuff that appeals to the legions of Normal Fans, the Unforgiven card is also notably devoid of that one Guaranteed Workrate Match that the Fed usually serves up for OUR benefit. Angle's good, and he may well get a great match out of Cena; but it's telling that it's never happened in any of their past major matches. And Edge/Hardy in a cage could easily be a show-stealer, but after the Eddie/Rey cage match on SD!, one also has to be aware that the "WWE Style" might handcuff the two into a few big spots and then a whole lot of implausible Escape Teases that get old fast. Doubly fast when you just saw 20 minutes worth of them only one week prior for free.
     
    And actually, I now realize that I'm making my own job on Friday that much harder by spending all this energy talking about the Unforgiven card instead of talking about RAW, like I intended to. Unlike WWE, I think I can be excused if I save back my A-Game for the big-ass Team Coverage PPV Preview, where these rants and observations will be a bit more on-topic.
     
    So as far as Monday's RAW goes... the highlights were few and far between. Trish's return. Michaels' promo. Angle's sweet German Suplex on Cena while Cena had Tomko up for the F-U. Ummmm... that might be about it. Nothing else really stood out as being particularly memorable. Or at least: memorably good. A few things I'll remember for outright sucking. Like Cena's face-punchable skit with Bischoff. Seriously, you find time for Cena to come off like a tool, and you find time for Chris Masters to do three (3) consecutive bearhugs, but you can't find time to let Carlito Cool talk, or to do a few backstage skits to set up some of your Lesser PPV Matches (like the women's match or the tag title match)? Oy, maybe it's not JUST the PPV Line-up's fault... maybe RAW was also just not very-well put together.
     
    I dunno. But again, I encourage you all to formulate your own theories. As a reference item, you can do no better than to read through the always-top-shelf OO RAW Recap for complete details from Monday's show.
     
  • We're not the only ones who found RAW a bit lacking... Monday's show did only a 3.3 cable rating. That's a drop of three tenths off the previous week's already-low "holiday" rating, and is more than a half-point off the pace set by the show during the late spring and early summer.
     
    It's also the lowest non-holiday rating for RAW since last October, when RAW drew a 3.0 up against dueling baseball games (a make-up Yankees/Boston game started in the afternoon and ran into extra innings, and actually lasted till after 10pm, while a scheduled Cards/Houston game was an amazing pitchers' duel, as I recall; I also recall getting the night off from recapping and being a pig in slop, except for the part where the Yankees lost). If you want to count that as essentially being a "holiday" show, since it was definitely a night where RAW was not up against standard competition, you have to go back to last August (during the period where WWE was getting Project Orton into high gear) to find a RAW rating lower than 3.3.
     
    If WWE's looking for an excuse, they MIGHT opt for "it was the first regular season Monday Night Football game of the year." Except that, in recent years, MNF's ratings have declined precipitously, and an analysis of RAW's ratings reveals no real significant correlation to MNF being in season, anymore. The past 2 years, you can look at the numbers, and RAW is just as likely to perform at or above its yearly average during the months of September-December as they are at any other time of the year. The "MNF Argument" doesn't really hold a ton of water with me. Monday's Eagles/Falcons NFC Championship Game Rematch did well in the ratings (enough to win the night for ABC), but still only scored around a 10.0, which is pretty much in line with MNF's ratings in recent years, too.
     
    So let's be realistic: a 3.6 on Memorial Day, and then a 3.3 the week after? That's not a good sign.
     
    Then again: they haven't been good shows.
     
  • Although I ranted about it being stupid if WWE is tanking the week-to-week creative direction of RAW until they get to USA Network, it can't be denied that the night of October 3 is going to be special for RAW. And that's fine: I have nothing against making the "homecoming episode" of RAW special. I just think it's dumb if they're purposely going to suck on every episode till then.
     
    With Spike TV doing everything it can to retain RAW's viewers on that first Monday, WWE and USA are moving to make sure that wrestling fans make the jump along with RAW. In addition to the announced guest list for that show (Hogan, Austin, Foley, HHH, etc.), they also expanded the show to 3 hours, so that Spike wouldn't get the jump in the 8pm hour with UFC content.
     
    Now, USA has given WWE a head-start on Spike, by announcing a 7:55pm (eastern) start time for October 3's RAW. And they'll also be airing a "RAW's best moments" special as soon as the show goes off the air, so that Spike won't have the 11pm hour to itself, either.
     
    Huh. All the other stuff I was down with. But this? Seems a bit petty and hyper-reactive. I mean, for one: wrestling fans proved they had no problem "finding" SD! on Friday nights, so I don't think it'll be any different with the network jump. Wrestling fans, even if they accidentally click to SpikeTV on that Monday, will see something that is not wrestling, remember "Oh, that's right, it's on channel 33, now," and flip over. And secondly: Spike is essentially using the show that FOLLOWS RAW (at 11pm on Mondays) and does about half the ratings that RAW does to "steal" RAW's viewers. I don't think it will quite work that way. If some of "The Ultimate Fighter's" viewers are wrestling fans who stick around, they were still wrestling fans first. And a one-night special event packaged with the lame reality show is certainly a step up in terms of trying to lure Fight Fans from the fake fighting to the real fighting... but I still think the number of fans who consider the two products to be interchangeable is quite limited. Wrestling fans will watch wrestling. UFC fans will watch UFC.
     
    It's odd to see WWE so concerned about that one night, when starting the very next week, they'll be running up against CSI reruns and crappy movies on Spike. Posturing and over-reacting over October 3 seems a bit desperate. Then again, it seems kind of silly for Spike to be making such a one-time play, when they know that -- in the long run -- they have no chance in hell of retaining WWE's audience on Monday nights.
     
  • Speaking of silly... you can quit e-mailing me telling me about how you read all about "WWE vs. TNA" on Spike TV. I knew about that last week, and I didn't mention it for a reason. Because it's not a real story. 
     
    But since I guess it's now making the rounds, I'll at least explain WHY it's not a story so you can quit asking me about it. Basically, the deal is that that MXC show on Spike (Most Xtreme Challenge, I think) will do a show where the lame over-dubbed commentators pretend one team of physically inept Japanese people are WWE wrestlers, and pretend that the other team are TNA wrestlers. Even though they don't, in any way, resemble said wrestlers. I dunno: it's just what they do on the show. Just this time, they'll be doing it with wrestling stars.
     
    If you've seen the show for 10 minutes, you've pretty much seen everything you need to know to understand why this is a non-story. Not only will there be a grand total of zero (0) involvement from any WWE or TNA personnel, but it is also going to be Not Entertaining. Well, unless you haven't seen 10 minutes of it, in which case, you probably will chuckle a bit. And then get sick of it, and change the channel during the first commercial break.
     
  • WWE has confirmed Daniel Puder's release from the company, and apparently, it's an immediate release, and Puder will not be fulfilling the final 2-3 months of his contract. I gather his last OVW date is tonight, and then he considers himself done with the company.
     
    I'd mention how I figure that there's probably a no-compete clause that would keep Puder from showing up anywhere else until the actual contract expires in November.... except: who'd really give a shit if he wanted to go to TNA? Or get back into UFC? He was a shootfighting nobody before WWE. WWE barely put him on TV and so he's a pro-wrestling nobody now. I'd say let the dude do whatever he wants, and in exchange, keep the last $50,000 of his bloated Tough Enough Contract, WWE. Then, give that money to me, and you'll have bought yourself about six months of MY services. Which will be infinitely more valuable than Puder's were.
     
  • Speaking of people with unclear WWE Contractual Situations...
     
    Brock Lesnar is currently booked to wrestle a New Japan event in October. This despite the fact that his litigation with WWE over his no-compete clause is still on-going and will not be settled (unless it's out-of-court) before the end of the year.
     
    Hmmm, suddenly Jim Ross' left-field mention of Lesnar in his last WWE.com column makes sense.... apparently, the big lug is gonna force the Fed to expend some legal resources, and in general be a headache for them. Because WWE's stance is that Brock Lesnar can't work for any other wrestling company until 2010 (the date his WWE contract would have expired, had he not left for football). Lesnar's stance is "Waaaaaa, me no wanty to abide by the contract I signed." Lesnar has violated the no-compete clause once before (to appear ringside at a New Japan event), and appears to be gearing up to do it again. Which may not be a big deal if some court decides to overturn the no-compete clause, but for now: Lesnar IS in violation of his standing agreement with WWE if he wrestles, which means WWE might try to bar him from appearing, or something like that. Which takes time, money, and effort.
     
    Like I said: maybe Lesnar's just fixing to be a thorn in WWE's side, forcing them to expend resources they don't want to expend, and maybe forcing them to just say "to hell with this," and agree to some sort of settlement that would free Lesnar up to work overseas. I dunno.
     
    My thing is: if the guy wants to wrestle so badly, why not just swallow your pride (or whatever else it was that kept him from signing a deal this summer) and do it for WWE?
     
  • And lastly: remember, Mick Foley is on Conan tonight. Check, as they say, your local listings.
     
  • On that note, I'm plum-tuckered. Or at least: out of material. The trOOps will mass on Friday for the big Team Coverage PPV Preview of Unforgiven. As always, our goal is to do what WWE refuses to: make the show seem interesting. One thing OO does not lack is plenty of wit and snark.
     
    So I'll see you then, folks....


  
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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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