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Jim Ross Speaks Out, RAW, Lots of
Ratings News, Rock, and Plenty MORE! 
October 12, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Topic: Compare and Contrast the New York Yankees organization with that of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Getting all up to speed on what's shaping up to be a tortuous off-season for the Yankees, I was struck by remarkable similarities.

A single, sometimes inspired but often misguided leader who works hard and will invest any resource in his organization to succeed but who is unable to cope with people who don't

do things exactly his way? Vince McMahon and George Steinbrenner. Check.

An ever-increasing chasm between the guys in the trenches and management, with management with its head too far up its ass to listen to the valuable advice and suggestions of those who best know what it takes to succeed? Again: check. WWE has the divide between the wrestlers and front office/creative team; the Yankees have the divide between the people in New York (players, coaches, GM) who on the field and in the clubhouse who are trying to win ballgames and Steinbrenner's lap dogs at the offices in Tampa, FL (Yankees fans refer to them as the "Tampons") who end up wielding WAY too much power over those who already know how to do their job.

Declining results that start out dipping almost imperceptibly at first, but which ultimately result in a major slump? Check and mate. WWE's actually completed the cycle, and one must hope they are scraping bottom and get their shit together soon. Meantime, the Yankees are still winning ballgames, for now, just not the ones in October (since 2001, anyway); but even that seems to be in jeopardy if current grumblings turn out to be true.

There are times for having a single strong leader who imposes his vision on everybody and doesn't care about alienating the troops; but these are generally times of grave peril or rapid change when something needs to happen fast. Doing it at any other time is spastic and dictatorial, and you wont get a whole lot of "buy in." When attempted to sustain success, though, over long periods of time, is when organizations need to patch up chasms between the top and the bottom and when they need to be open to alternate ways of doing things so as not to be slowly rendered obsolete.

It doesn't matter if you're the only wrestling game in town or a baseball team that's celebrating 10 straight years of 90-win seasons... neither situation strikes me as the right time for strong-willed-but-ass-hatted management to be forcing their will upon and refusing to listen to those who have those with valid-but-conflicting opinions.

Just a notion I had yesterday.... feel free to chime in with your thoughts. But only after you finish your reading for today: 

  • Obviously, the sheer suckiness of the "climax" of Monday's RAW is a huge part of what inspires me to look for big, fancy theoretical pre-ramble material today.
    It doesn't really matter if it's "real" or a "work" or what: what matters is that as a main event to your flagship show, it was flat out an unentertaining segment. And worse: sometimes unentertaining segments still end with the perception that there are "outs" that will retroactively render the unsatisfying finish useful. It is, in fact, a standard wrestling formula to sometimes have a heel go over to end a show, all in the name of making the fans that much more ravenous for the LATER climax when their favorite gets his revenge.
    To say that sensation is terribly muted when the "heels" in question are non-wrestlers, and the hero in question is an announcer, would be a massive understatement. I have no particular desire to see the McMahon Family on TV in large doses, even to get their comeuppance. And much as I like JR calling the action, I don't particularly care if he ever gets his vengeance. Because he's an announcer, and what I care about is him announcing.
    See what I mean? Not entertaining in its own right as a Big Finish to a show, and worse: leaves no one with any real desire to see the next chapter in the story. That, my friends, is almost a perfectly constructed climax. Assuming the perfection you were shooting for was Perfect Incompetence.
    But we'll have a bit more on JR later on. For now, it's importance to this bullet point is as the crappy ending to a mixed bag show. And you know me: barring something truly extraordinary on the undercard, Crappy Ending = Crappy Show. For me, anyway. It's just no fun taking two hours getting to a place just to find out, in the end, that the place sucks. Makes you wish you hadn't taken the trip to begin with.
    The good on Monday: I like the mess they're making in the WWE Title picture. They've got five challengers lining up, and I like them all more than I like the champ, so that's an added bonus. But mostly what this does is it sets us up for the Taboo Tuesday PPV, where the fans get a say in picking a contender. More stuff like Monday's Cabana, and fans will have a hard choice.
    Those same six men then contributed the hands-down highlight of the night in a tag match. Nothing spectacular, but just another one of those fun "everybody plays their roles perfect and the fans eat it up" match like they had (well, in 8-man form, but still including all six of these guys) a few weeks back.
    I also thought the Women's Title match was good, and in fact, was the only other competitive and engrossing match of the night besides the six man. That's good for Trish and Victoria, who showed once again that given a chance, they can contribute to the product... but it's still pretty shitty that RAW's only two other matches were essentially squashes (both featuring heels that nobody particularly cares to watch, to boot). Added bonus in the women's match: the former Alexis Laree -- now going by her real name Mickie James -- finally debuted, and by all accounts is ready to carry her weight. We now have a THREE PERSON women's division! We get Lita back and see how long it takes for Ashley to learn the ropes competently, and we'll have FIVE! And then, because WWE hates me, 2 or 3 of them will probably get fired, and in their place will be fake-tittied models from January's Super Bowl Commercials. Nee haw?
    Triple H's promo is about the only thing that strikes me as straddling the fence between good and bad. The bad: it seemed to hit a few false notes that denigrated the value of the IC Title, and it certainly went about 2-3 minutes too long, with HHH stumbling home to a heavily-scripted "punchline" that nobody responded to nearly as loudly as they responded to some of his actual content. But the good: it gives us HHH's reason for turning on Flair, and the aforementioned "false notes" can quickly and easily be patched up with one simple promo from Flair. As I said in the recap yesterday: Ric needs to point out that HHH isn't so much upset at Flair's "mediocrity," he's jealous that Flair continued to succeed even after HHH was no longer there to make Flair "great by association." And if Flair won't point that out, the announcers sure as hell should. Oh, wait: Coach is now in charge of being the insightful one. So forget the announcers hitting on this subtle a point....
    Everything else falls into the category of bad. Or at least, the category of Pointless. Steph's opening promo? Don't know why that was there if they were just gonna give her more mic time in the finale; yes, she can certainly heel with the best of 'em, but if she's already got another spot on the card, how about using that time for somebody who, you know?, might actually be a wrestler? Conway over Doink (played by Steve Lombardi, if you're interested) did nothing for me; and worse, it did nothing for Conway... Masters over Tajiri? Of course, I am deeply wounded and offended by that outcome.... and then you capped everything off with the shitty Linda heel turn/firing skit at the end. I think that's everything, right?
    On the off chance it's NOT everything, and I'm forgetting something -- or on the off chance you missed RAW and haven't yet read up -- I encourage everybody to enjoy yesterday's OO RAW Recap. Not only will it fill in all blanks for you in detailed fashion, but I guarantee that once again I'll entertain you more than WWE did on Monday. Even in the subcategory of Fellatio Jokes, I (ahem) BLEW them away. HA~! [Note: *that* blowjob joke? Not as funny as the ones I made in the recap in response to John Cena's all-encompassing gayness.]
    So just read the recap.
  • The rating on Monday: a 4.0.
    This is down from the Homecoming three-hour composite rating of 4.4. If you want to cheat like WWE tried to last week and only count Homecoming's 9-11pm (eastern) rating, this week's number is down from a 4.7 in the same timeslot 7 days prior.
    A 4.0 is still up considerably versus where RAW was during their last month on SpikeTV... but it's also just about exactly in line with where the show had performed on Spike during the 2-3 months preceding July 4. In its second week on USA, WWE is essentially back to where they had been earlier in the year on their old channel, and the perceived benefit of the network jump has been fully erased.
    Remember also: last week's big rating for RAW still saw the show LOSE viewers in the third hour after peaking in the second. Then this week, they lose more viewers. My read: hype will get people to check you out. But a quality product is the only way to keep them coming back.
    RAW's finish last week, and most of this week? Not quality. And the fans seem to be voicing that opinion with their clickers. If RAW loses any more ground next week, even with all the NBC/Universal hype they'll only be able to lay claim to beating their own record-low final month of ratings on SpikeTV...
  • Some other ratings stuff, while I'm thinking of it...
    SD!'s final number was a 2.4, which as I guessed held pretty close to the prelim number. A few people mailed in to tell me SD! was preempted in Los Angeles last week; I had not known about that, but it'd certainly have an effect on ratings. Still, I think we can now assume that the move to Fridays have cost SD! about a half-ratings point worth of viewers. Which, if I recall, is about what I guessed they'd lose back when everybody was predicting doom and gloom right after the move was announced.
  • In its second week, TNA Impact held steady at a 0.8 cable rating for its Saturday night airing. This means that what they delivered in their debut was good enough to keep people coming back.... though not necessarily good enough to create a buzz and add any viewers. Still: as long as Impact is slightly out-performing what Velocity drew in that slot, I think everybody will be satisfied.
    The Monday night repeat of Impact also held steady, and did a 0.5 rating.
    For those curious, a 2-hour block of UFC programming on Monday night (one greatest hits show, and one hour of that reality show thingie) averaged a 1.1 rating for SpikeTV. Even with RAW dipping back down to their "old" numbers this week, does anyone out there HONESTLY want to tell me that UFC's ratings indicate they are direct competition to WWE's programming on USA? Didn't think so... I can only hope that certain Unnamed Webmasters have quit acting like it is, and that if any of WWE's recent dumbassery (including trying to steal UFC's announcer) is related to THEM thinking there was a direct competition that that'll end, too.
  • And with that bidness out of the way, I think we can talk a bit more about Jim Ross...
    I outlined most of the important stuff on Monday, and kind of kept the tone that "With the UFC guy out of the way, JR's job was probably safe." Then they went ahead and did the retarded firing angle at the end of RAW anyway. Unless WWE has secretly scouted and hired a DIFFERENT replacement for JR, that appears to leave us with a two man booth: Lawler and Coachman. I am, without exaggeration, mortified by those prospects.
    I mean, King's job has always been to tell jokes and occasionally pepper in some observation based on his years of experience as a wrestler. When it comes to the announcing, he's the punctuation, not the actual words. And Coach? Good lord, the man has never once shown me the ability to put the telling of the story of a match ahead of playing a character and getting himself over for any extended period of time. As a fan of Coach's backstage putzery and talent in all manner of brief skits, he just lacks the focus and gravitas to be the straightman in a 2-man booth.
    [Aside: this might even tie into my Monday comments about FOX's production of baseball versus ESPN's... somewhere, somebody on FOX decided that announcers have to speak in soundbites and catchphrases and have "attitude" and stuff. The same thing hit my over the head when I flipped past an IndyCar race a few Sundays ago and wanted nothing more than to punch both announcers in the eyeball for yammering on like self-involved dickweeds when all I wanted them to do was explain what was happening on the track. Meantime, ESPN seems to understand that you employ storytellers and those with expertise in the game you're presenting, and let them do their thing. When it comes to announcing, image is nothing: expertise is everything. WWE has joined the ranks of those who don't understand this simple fact. You want to be a sports announcer and have "attitude" and a character bigger than the game you're calling? Then just stop, settle for being a pitiable awful Sports Anchor, and maybe someday you'll work your way up the ranks to where you can render sports highlights unwatchable on SportsCenter... cuz that's the only time when I can tolerate this new generation of "I'm bigger than what I'm talking about" announcers. Coach seems to me to be one of those, at least in every shred of work he's done for WWE so far.]
    But about JR...
    This story has taken a turn for the weird, as Jim Ross did a "final interview" with WWE.com. In it, he says a lot of fairly nasty things about Vince McMahon and his lack of perspective, and also says a lot of nasty things about the direction of the WWE product. Some of it was so over the top that it almost started feeling like a storyline, like it had to be a work, otherwise WWE wouldn't have wanted to publish comments that inflammatory.
    For whatever it's worth: this sure as hell didn't start out as a work. The deal with UFC's Mike Goldberg was very real, and the goal was to use him to replace Jim Ross. Now that that's not happening, some are thinking maybe the plan has changed, and they'll use this as a storyline, afterall... certainly, when JR won a "Favorite RAW announcer" poll on WWE.com last week (and by a huge margin over King, with Coach getting a pittance), that might have combined with the removal of Goldberg from the equation to make WWE rethink their plans. Maybe they still went ahead with the "firing," but did so with the new intention of eventually bringing JR back?
    I dunno, but it's one school of thought that's out there given how WWE played the firing angle and how they let JR have an open forum on WWE.com.
    For the record, my favorite passage from JR's farewell interview is this: "I believe that there are many, many more issues to deal with other than who the announcers are. How many Bra and Panties Matches can you see? How different can they get? They’re all going to have big breasts. They’re all going to have a pair of bra and panties on. The only difference is what color they’ll be. We have to get back to wrestling. We have to get back to aggressive physicality. We have some guys in this business right now that don’t have a clue of why they’re there. Then we have a little bit of wonderful talent that needs to be emphasis of rebuilding this company and getting it rolling. It’s going to be built by physicality, aggression, suspense and drama. It’s not going to be built by becoming the action adventure show that empowers the audience to enjoy the humor and the sexuality."
    Then again, on Monday afternoon, I wrote these words: "In a company where there are about eight billion things wrong that need to be fixed, Jim Ross' ugly mug being on TV every week ranks somewhere in the low 7 billions. [...] It's almost like WWE realizes that there are some things that would be, like, REALLY HARD to fix. So instead of addressing those matters, somebody realized: 'Hey, let's pick on JR. We can replace him, and it'll be EASY.' It's a truly baffling case of misplaced priorities that this is what WWE's wasting its time on instead of, oh I don't know, developing and calling up the right talents and then having a creative team that can give them something compelling to do every week."
    I call that a healthy "jinx." If JR's "working" us, he (a) has got me on his team, willingly and unselfconsciously, as long as he says things that essentially make me look like a 30-year backstage veteran of the wrestling business in my own right, and (b) is probably still speaking from the heart even if he's doing it as part of a WWE-sanctioned "worked shoot." And if this is what it appears to be on the surface and JR really won't appear on TV again, then I *still* love that on his way out JR says so many of the same things so many of us are feeling, and that he gets some manner of retaliation for having his final TV appearance by a ritual humiliation.
    Me? I lean towards "started as the real deal, but is probably gonna be milked as a storyline now." The falling through of the UFC announcer deal ties WWE's hands in some regards, and I also would like to remind everybody that the original story was that JR wouldn't necessarily be getting "fired," he'd just be getting demoted to WWE.com duty.... now, WWE.com has even announced the end of the weekly Ross Report, which appears to bring that portion of the original story into doubt. Why would JR *not* be put to use on the webcast version of RAW? Because WWE might be holding him back for an eventual TV return.
    Or maybe that's just wishful thinking. I dunno; sometimes I can't tell the difference between my gut feelings and my wishful thinking... let's hope it's more the former than the latter.
  • The Rock has begun making the publicity rounds for "DOOM," which comes out in 10 days. 
    Last night, Rock was on Leno, and I made the wise decision to not soil my brain with Jay Leno's all-encompassing unfunniness. But I heard tell that Rock was his usual likable self, no matter how crappy "DOOM" might have appeared to be.
    For those with Discriminating Late Night Tastes, though, Rock is hitting the Holy Trinity NEXT week. Wednesday night will be Letterman. Thursday night will be the Daily Show. Friday night will be Conan. I would highly recommend checking out all three.
    In fact, I still have very fond memories of the Rock's last appearance on Conan when appletinis and sippy-cups were just a few of the hilarious running gags... it was, perhaps, the funniest Talk Show Guest Appearance of the year on any show. Can the Rock top himself next Friday night? Probably not, but I'll be DVR'ing anyway.
  • Many readers have written in that advance publicity for Survivor Series has started up in Detroit.... and sure enough, a Team RAW vs. Team SD! match appears to be in the works.
    Shawn Michaels seems to be the captain of a team that will include Big Show, Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, and Chris Masters. JBL seems to be the captain of a team that includes Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Ken Kennedy, and Christian. Huh. Given current TV exposure, Shelton and Christian sure seem like oddballs inclusions.... but I guess if it's gonna be 5-on-5, and you need big stars free for other matches, you can do LOTS worse than giving those two underutilized talents something to do. And as talked about in the RAW recap, the Cabana segment gives us a taste of how heels and faces will have to work together grudgingly in a battle for brand supremacy.
    It is odd, however, that Michaels would be the captain of the team that has a Heel GM, while JBL is the captain of the team that has a Babyface GM. Those assignments alone will make for some potentially intriguing (but also: potentially continuity-destroying) TV.
    Other matches to expect at Survivor Series: Randy Orton vs. Undertaker (Buried Alive Match, which is probably an entirely unnecessary extra chapter to a story that should be just about finished by now)... Batista vs. Eddie... and Cena vs. Angle.
  • Looks like I spoke too soon when I bragged about my 7-for-8 on No Mercy PPV picks. And I KNOW I spoke too soon when I broke my 7-of-8 tie with Erin Anderson and Canadian Bulldog by bragging about how my Yankees were still playing baseball and mocking their baseball affiliations. D'oh.
    Anyway, Adam Gutschmidt went and picked a perfect 8-of-8, it turns out. Kudos to him. And you can get the full scorecard from the trOOps' No Mercy picks in PyroFalkon's No Mercy PPV Predictions Results.
  • Matt Hardy has confirmed on his message board that he's romantically involved with Diva Search Ashley. Oh boy... I mean, if he's happy, and she's happy, great and all. But doesn't it seem like perhaps a bad idea to get right back into the same situation that got you in such trouble not more than 8 months ago? Perhaps it's time to learn that happiness now might come at the expense of happiness later, and just try to find a girlfriend who isn't a co-worker.
    Also: boy, that didn't take long for Ashley. It's not like WWE has an official policy frowning upon workplace relationships, or anything, but more than a few of the women have said in interviews it's something they would avoid at all costs. Even Diva Search Spaz said that she knew she didn't want to go down that road because it could affect how she is perceived backstage, and she really does want to learn and be taken seriously. Guess Ashley had other ideas....
    And for anybody curious, Matt and Lita have patched their friendship up, too, so don't go making up stories that somehow this will lead to any kind of real life cat fight on the RAW roster.
  • And last thing, since I'm speaking of the ladies...
    A couple weeks in a row now, I've made comments in the RAW Recap about skits being pleasantly devoid of Hot Lesbian Overtones, and both times, I've now gotten tons of e-mail asking me what the hell I'm talking about, and that it's SO OBVIOUS that Ashley and Trish are going to be involved, and that Mickie James is showing up and is also hot for Trish and will get jealous as we have a Lesbian Love Triangle.
    To answer your question, "What the hell am I talking about?", I can only respond with a question: What the hell are YOU talking about? Seriously. Are you 15 years old or something, and this is the only explanation you have for two (or more) girls being friendly?
    In both cases -- Trish checking out Ashley's underwear, and Mickie's awkward hugging of Trish -- were played for things OTHER than to give you an erection. One was casual and funny; the other has the makings of potential creepiness. I was serious when I said my read on things is that Trish is about to get about the same treatment that James Caan did in "Misery." Her #1 Fan might start out behaving harmlessly enough, but the true colors will show. Mickie's ability to totally freak out and decimate Victoria in a moment of blind rage (only to compose herself and be all cheerful the next moment) is what you should look at as the Foreshadowing here. Because you're imagining the Three Way Lesbian overtones.
    And plus, haven't we all read enough Trish Stratus interviews by now to know that she (a) takes an interest in her own storylines and angles and (b) wants to accomplish more than giving socially stunted teenagers boners? I thought so...
    This reminds me of a time a little while back when I -- for reasons that I'm sure made sense at the time -- tried to attend a chat session featuring the star of an unnamed UPN Teen Drama. This took place right after an episode in which said star (and titular character) spent one scene in her bedroom with a fellow teenage babe, painting each others toes and acting all giggly and friendly and talking about their secret hopes and future plans. In the sub-room of the chat that I briefly endured, the only things I remember reading were a ton of people (socially stunted teenagers, I again assume) positing that this DEFINITELY meant that lesbianism was in the future for the titular character, and OMG that'd be HOTT~! Needless to say: (a) there has not been a hint of teenage lesbianism in the subsequent dozen or so episodes, and (b) I gave up on that chat experiment after about 3 minutes and have never bothered trying to attend a Celebrity Chat Event again if that's the level of retardation that exists in chat rooms around the internet.
    Get a grip people. This is wrestling, not Cinemax After Dark. I think we can assume that our characters will behave a bit more like chicks do in the real world, instead of how they behave in the imaginations of sexless chair moisteners.
    And if I'm wrong? Well, you can rest assured that I'll just blame WWE's writer monkeys for doing something lame and unhot (I'm just weird, I guess, in that I'm not going to be aroused by TV-PG lesbianism, and will instead appreciate the appeal of simple, understated, realistic touches like two chicks hanging out, being able to carry on conversations, being good at their jobs, and maybe one of them companionably swatting the other on the rump every now and again because there's nothing wrong with that unless you're accusing the entire roster of the Los Angeles Angels of being gay for each other)... and doing it while passing up on the much-more-interesting "Misery" style storyline that'll work just as well whether it's James Caan or Trish Stratus. Hell, it might even work better with Trish. I mean, I have no James Woods Sympathy Gene, and I STILL cringed at that hobbling scene... imagine what might happen to my Trish Sympathy Gene if Mickie James turns out to be half-as-psycho as Annie Wilkes. 
    So, you see: even if I'm wrong, I'll still be right! That's just how the Rick rolls....

  • And on that note, I am outta here. Big double-header to half-pay-attention to, tonight!
    In so far as baseball still matters for me, I'm throwing in with Houston. Gotta love Roger Clemens... and to a lesser extent, Andy Pettitte. If I could have picked a way for the Yankees to go out, it would have been losing the World Series to Houston, just so they could get slapped in the face by their own ass-hattery.
    That won't work out, but I'll still pull for the 'Stros.
    See you Friday, folks.... 

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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