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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
RAW, WWE/TNA Ratings Updates,
Nash, Taboo Tuesday, and Lots More 
October 26, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Two things I noticed while watching the baseball game last night...
  

(1) When the hell did Aaron Neville just give up and decide to become the SNL Impersonation Of Aaron Neville, instead? I mean, it's not like Aaron Neville's ever really been my speed, but I seem to recall him from some late night appearances and stuff, even in the last few years, and he hadn't become a caricature of himself yet. Cuz believe me: 

Horatio Sanz is a few light years away from being talented, and there's no other reason that I should have spent the 7th inning stretch last night anxiously awaiting some new verse to "God Bless America" that involved cocoa butter.

And (2) I usually manage to avoid commercials, but for live sporting events (especially ones that go into extra innings and use up whatever timeshift I might have established), I have to bite the bullet. With that in mind, I now have the perfect test that will determine whether you should be allowed to procreate. It's actually a single, simple yes/no question: "Upon seeing the commercial for the TV show Trading Spouses, did you have any desire whatsoever to watch the program?". If you answer "yes," I'm afraid you have to be spayed or neutered, because you are broken, and we cannot pass your genetic material on to the next generation of humankind.

Seriously: I can only lay so much blame at the feet of FOX or the TV Networks.... at some point, each and every TV Viewer needs to be held personally accountable for giving those networks the impression that they like watching utterly-awful, embarrassingly-bad, totally-pointless drivel. It's been a long time since I've seen a commercial for a TV show that made me want to punch network executives in the eyeballs as much as the one for "Trading Spouses" did.

Much as I'm cheering for the Astros, I guess I wouldn't mind if this series was wrapped up in 4 straight just so I don't have to soil my brain with knowledge of what crap FOX is serving up when they aren't showing (a) cartoons or (b) Arrested Development. Ignorance is bliss, and all that jazz.

Here's today's wrestling: 

  • Twenty-four hours of hindsight has done nothing to convince me that Monday's RAW was anything other than a massive misstep...
     
    And while a lot of attention is being focused on one segment, let me encourage you to be a bit more open-minded. For two reasons: (1) if you turn that one segment into a big, controversial federal case, you're only going to encourage WWE to serve up more of the same, since they know it'll get you talking. And (2) there were enough screw-ups in other aspects of the show that deserve to be "outted," too.
     
    To me, two big ones were combined in one single segment on Monday, as we addressed the in-ring returns of both Steve Austin and Mick Foley, which should be a HUGE deal but instead is really falling kinda flat. The problem with Austin's return is that it's part of an awful storyline where his primary foils are non-wrestlers. And he's done enough stuff with the McMahons over the years that there isn't really any juice left there, and fantastic putz as he may be, Coach is nothing but a low-card comedy heel, and fans realize it. Yeah, it'll be satisfying when Austin kicks his ass, but it doesn't really MEAN anything... it's not something any of us feel like we should be paying for. And underlying all that is the possibility that maybe WWE WON'T just give us the satisfying ending to this annoying bit of fluff... it all adds up to Steve Austin's return being shrouded in a bit of discomfort and disillusionment.
     
    Foley's return to face Carlito is a bit more of a standard "legend must unretire to defend his honor against a real wrestler" deal, and as such, it's a bit more compelling. But when handled as it was on Monday, it ALSO has a distressing lack of sizzle. The lack of compelling and logical flow in a segment that started out with Coach and Stephanie, but ended with Carlito and Foley, makes it hard for an audience to know why the hell things are happening. And questions like "Why did Mick come out here?" or "Why did Stephanie and Carlito have an evil plan ready to attack Mick if Mick's appearance was supposedly unplanned?" are the basis for the foundation of the more important question "Why should I care about these events?".
     
    In the good ol' days, things like continuity and temporal causation were still considered important by WWE, and long 15-plus minute promos/angles had logical connections. Ones that made so much sense that a crowd would frequently chant "We Want So-and-So," because they knew that So-and-So had a logical reason to come out and put his two cents worth in. Contrast that with things like Monday's Series Of Unrelated Events, where the crowd wasn't vested in the Foley/Carlito stuff, because they weren't entirely sure why it was happening. It was just a lazy going-through-the-motions deal where somebody decided they wanted to get Mick and Carlito in the same ring together, but couldn't be bothered to come up with the proper set-up so that fans would CARE that Mick and Carlito were in the same ring together. It's the difference between leaving the fans feeling like "Well, I guess it makes sense since those two are fighting on a PPV" and feeling like "Goddamn, I can't wait to watch those two fight on a PPV."
     
    Instead of having Carlito saying or doing something that inspired the crowd to anticipate the appearance of Mick Foley, we just got Monday's over-written, under-thought-out segment where absolutely nothing was done to make the in-ring returns of Foley or Austin anywhere near as special or compelling as they should be. That's at least as big a misstep as anything else that WWE served up on Monday.
     
    I was also not at all impressed with the main event. You expend your energy hyping Mick Foley as a guest ref, but then you have him play absolutely no role in the match? What's the deal there? Everything Foley did could have been done by any of the E's other refs, right up to and including a ref bump that would have opened the door for Bischoff to come out and do his thing. Having Mick play no part in the match until Carlito comes out to attack him just makes no real sense (it might have made SOME sense if Mick had gotten the better of him earlier, I guess; but again, the overall vibe is that WWE thinks the return of Foley alone is enough to carry things, and that it permits them to handle things in as uninspired a manner possible).
     
    I was also underwhelmed by the Bischoff-tastic finish. Partly because I do have Internet Jackoff tendencies, and do enjoy decisive finishes when they are possible. But MOSTLY because the level-headed non-jackoff part of me recognizes this as a flat-out dumb creative decision. It's essentially a repeat of the problems that made Chris Jericho such an impotent challenger to Cena during the summer, because WWE seems intent on focusing on an imaginary Cena/Bischoff feud, instead of going balls out with Cena vs. Angle. I just don't see how this all fits together to make Kurt Angle any more convincing of a challenger, or does anything to really make fans connect and sympathize with Cena (since instead of being in the crosshairs of an Olympic Wrecking Machine, he's just got a weenie of a general manager to deal with). Another annoying misstep.
     
    Obviously, Vince's 15 minute skit was just awful. Not offensive, not controversial, not in bad taste. People do need to thicken their skin as far as that goes, because words and satire and pretend TV shows don't have tangible negative effects on people. Sadly, I know a lot of you are in the "it was in horrible taste" camp, and I know I'm in the minority who thinks that society needs to stiffen their upper lip with regards to political correctness and all that crap. It's unfortunate because by acting offended and self-righteous, you create a controversy which is exactly what WWE wanted to accomplish.
     
    Why not short-circuit that? Don't give them the satisfaction. Just grow a set of testicles, quit being a whiny little hyper-sensitive bitch, and admit: "Well, that skit had absolutely no tangible impact on Jim Ross' health or medical condition, so knock yourself out, Vince." And then you can go on to just realizing that it was embarrassingly unfunny, incredibly juvenile, and something that even the A/V dorks at your local high school would be too proud to include on their shitty cable-access knock-off of SNL. And yet: WWE sees fit to include it on a worldwide, primetime telecast. *That*, my friends, is the real issue to be upset and annoyed over. It's not a question of taste or controversy, it's a simple matter of WWE enthusiastically presenting content that makes it impossible to be a fan or to defend your fandom to anybody who questions why you can watch such garbage. Baffling.
     
    The one and only entertaining segment of the night? The RAW/SD! crossover stuff with Edge and JBL... yes, Chris F. Masters was also in the vicinity, but I just tried to zone him out and ignore him. Same way it sounded like the live fans did. I'm not entirely sanguine about a possible JBL face turn coming out of this, but as long as the guy wants to mock Chris F. Masters, I'll listen. I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert on that subject, but I'm more than happy to study up on any new techniques JBL wants to experiment with.
     
    Ideally, we'd get to vote without WWE's Steering Influence, and it'd be Rey and Matt Hardy who get voted into the match... but I'm quite certain that now it'll be Rey and JBL, since this match will have to provide the set-up to JBL captaining a team at Survivor Series, and WWE wouldn't let the SD! Captain fail to appear in this precursor match. Although.... well, who knows? Michaels is supposed to be the RAW Captain, and he's not in this crossover tag match....
     
    Anyway, one good segment and at least three giant piles of Suck do not a quality show make. You can get my more detailed rundown of all the happenings (as well as my more detailed and deliciously snarky analysis/commentary) in yesterday's OO RAW Recap.
     
  • RAW scored a 3.9 cable rating on Monday. Which is up a nominal two-tenths of a point from the week before, but which still puts the show in no better position than they were during the summer while they were still on SpikeTV.
     
    It appears casual fans gave WWE a window of about 2 weeks in which to win them back after the jump to USA. And it appears WWE failed to win them over, since after those first two weeks, ratings are indistinguishable from what the company was pulling back on its old network. Deservedly so, says I.
     
  • Ratings for this weekend's TNA Impact ticked upward to a 0.9 after three straight weeks of clocking in at 0.8. Due to the vagaries of TV ratings data collection, I wouldn't put a whole lot of significance on this unless TNA continues to trend upward or perform at this level for several weeks.
     
    But again: the mere fact that TNA (unlike RAW) has held onto all the casual fans who checked them out on a new network is a VERY good sign for the company. The possibility that they might even be growing the audience is even more promising.
     
    With Impact ratings seemingly steady, the next test for TNA will be their prime time special next Thursday night. Without setting unrealistic expectations, a rating of 1.5 would probably be sufficient for SpikeTV to consider regular primetime specials or possibly even a timeslot upgrade for TNA.
     
    Remember: at this point, the idea of TNA directly competing with WWE might seem a bit laughable, but from a business perspective, TNA's performance is being measured more against things like SpikeTV's UFC programming. And currently: Spike's 2-hour UFC block on Monday nights has scored a 1.0 rating for the third week in a row. It's not a question of beating WWE in the ratings.... it's a question of whether or not SpikeTV has reason to believe that TNA could bolster their ratings in a regular primetime timeslot.
     
    Next week's special will go a long way to helping SpikeTV decide just how much value the TNA brand has.
     
  • That special will feature two Bound For Glory rematches. One is an NWA Title rematch in which Jeff Jarrett will take on new champ Rhino. The other is just a make-good match for fans, as the Ultimate X Match at the PPV was marred by technical difficulties and positively ruined the match. TNA addressed those issues, and Matt Bentley, Chris Sabin, and Petey Williams will give it another go.
     
    Well, they've already given it another go, as the show was taped last night in Orlando. I've tried to keep myself from spoiling actual match results, but those on the ground in Orlando were so enthusiastic about the quality of the show that I couldn't help but hear a few things... sounds like the 2 hour slot allowed TNA to do a lot of the things that they can't accomplish in a one-hour show, and FINALLY gave them a free-TV product that will distinguish itself from the WWE product.
     
  • Your requisite Kevin Nash update...
     
    There is still no real clear/reliable information on what happened or when over the weekend. All I know at this point is that Nash is not in a hospital (he is at home, and thus, presumably not in any grave danger, medically speaking), and that TNA is apparently operating under the assumption that he'll not be returning, at least, not anytime soon.
     
    Hey, on the upside, "Dr. Heinie" didn't crack any jokes about operating on Nash once he was done probing JR's asscrack... see, I told you WWE was all about good taste and discretion!
     
    Anyway, the loser in all this from a creative perspective is probably gonna be Raven. I'm not 100% clear on all the details, but going back to the last set of pre-PPV tapings, I gather that Raven was supposed to be involved in the Nash/Jarrett main event with the result being a Nash/Raven feud... which ain't happening now. Raven's also locked out from the "ECW Alumni" club, since Rhino's now got that spot teaming up with the Dudleys; looks like at least four more weeks of taunting Larry Zbyszko....
     
  • Another quick TNA thing, since my brief comment on TNA's fans on Monday got me WAY more feedback than I thought it would... and a lot of it more varied than I would have guessed, too.
     
    I thought, at most, I'd get the usual low-level of "Oh, quit nitpicking TNA, Scaia. We all get it, you hate TNA. Now shut up about it unless you actually want to talk about something important." But I guess I touched a nerve...
     
    First, the majority of feedback was positive. Along the lines of "Hell, yeah, I hadn't really thought of it that way, but you're right," for the most part... and second, the feedback that was negative was a bit more confrontational than I'd have guessed. Not resigned to me just being me, a lot of people called me out by saying that TNA's fans are just like ECW's were back in the day, and I'm being a hypocrite if I say I loved the ECW experience back then, but am annoyed by TNA fans today.
     
    Well, the specific mention of ECW is easy to address... because the two groups really are apples and oranges. I was in those ECW crowds (even traveling to Philly a few times back when I was a cute little minor), and I don't remember a single time where I had to stop and ask a regular for instructions on how to chant properly. The ECW crowd went to watch the show, and then they'd see something happen, and then they would react to it. Certainly they had some pretty distinctive reactions, but what they'd chant or cheer was a direct result of the action in the ring. You don't need a song book to be able to pick up on such concepts as "You Fucked Up" or "Holy Shit" or "whoo'ing" when somebody does a chop; it doesn't require planning or forethought, cuz it just fits. And that's why chants and things that started in the ECW Arena not only caught on in EVERY ECW town, but also filtered up to the WWF and are still in evidence today.
     
    They were universal, they "fit," and they were usually natural reactions to what you were seeing.
     
    That's not the kind of behavior I was talking about with regards to TNA. The lame crap I'm talking about isn't in reaction to anything, it doesn't fit the circumstance.... it's preemptive, it's seemingly random, and it invariably strikes me as a case of fans being more interested in entertaining themselves than in being entertained by the product. 
     
    All the evidence I'd need of this would come in one simple night, if TNA were ever to hold a TV taping somewhere in the northeast. I doubt you'd hear ANY of the "ImpactZone" chants at all. Because they are lame, they are amusing to some small group of wieners, but they are a distraction to the rest of us. A crowd somewhere else might be every bit as supportive of the product and into the show, but I promise you this: they wouldn't sing some stupid shit at Abyss. Well, unless the wieners are such wieners that they'd actually travel 10 hours to follow TNA, and simply can't be content to find something else to do with their lives and then watch the show on TV when it's on 4 days later. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what the Wiener Factor is here...
     
    A couple of other examples occurred to me, too.... a simple one is how all of us have been to live sporting events. And chances are good, you've had a chance to be involved in an arena or stadium full of people doing "the Wave." Or, if you're like me, you just stand or sit in slack-jawed pity, watching how easily-amused your fellow man can be... but my point is that I guarantee you that you've never done "the Wave" at any game where the outcome was still in question. Oh, cheerleaders might try to start one, and get some half-hearted participation.... but in any game that's close, one time out is not long enough to steer fans' attentions away from the sporting contest to some lame-ass crowd-participation crap. The only time they'll play along with that is if the game is a foregone conclusion, and they need something else to entertain themselves.
     
    TNA's Orlando Fans seem to be in a perpetual state of wanting to start their own multiple equivalents of "the Wave." That's lame.
     
    Also: that level of insular, selfish uber-fandom is something that will not encourage others to be fans. It's sort of a chicken or the egg deal, but you usually only see this level of dedicated dorktasticness stand out at events that aren't exactly wildly popular. The fans who have this dubious hobby try to make up for that by going overboard, and closing ranks to come up with all this exclusive stuff that makes them feel more important than they are. And then, because there isn't the huge crowd of normal/sane/casual fans to mask them, they stand out like a sore thumb. And in turn, they make it less likely for any casual fan to want to be a part of that experience.
     
    It doesn't matter if it's TNA, or if your college has a shitty team and its crowd is defined by a small set of geeky students who don't know better, or whatever of multiple scenarios would be similar.... the fact is that sparsely-attended fringe events need to be inclusive, to seem cool and accessible, if they are to grow. But in a lot of cases, the fans who over-compensate for their insecurities over being loyal to a fringe product are part of the reason why it stays "fringe."
     
    And with that, I'm probably WAY over-thinking this. Honestly, this wasn't something I thought about in a theoretical manner... it's just my own personal sense that there's something really wrong with people who can't just go to an event, enjoy it, and react to it with sensible chants related to the event and some enthusiastic cheering and high-fiving. If you need an entire playbook of "creative" sing-songy crap and need to surround yourself with an entire section of your friends because it makes you feel like your fringe hobby is less-fringy than it really is, you're not really my kind of fan.
     
    A perfect example: I love going to UD basketball games, and to this day still love finagling my way into the student section, which is about as loud and rowdy as any you'll find. But even as we're cheering and chanting, we'll periodically look over to the dorks in the Pep Band who literally DO have songbooks, and try to start lame shit that has no relevance to what's actually happening on the court. We glance their way, shake our heads pityingly, ignore them and no-sell their attempt crap, and go back to enjoying the game like real fans, instead of like people whose "enthusiasm" for the event is more related to earning a fine arts credit hour or the possibility of getting seen on TV by fellow dorks late at night on a Saturday.
     
    End (mostly) pointless rant.
     
  • A few Taboo Tuesday notes to close with....
     
    First, there is an eighth match you can vote on that was not announced on WWE.com until Monday and which has yet to be reference on RAW... Rob Conway will take on Eugene and a Legend Of Your Choice in a handicap match. You can pick from Jimmy Snuka, Jim Duggan, and Kamala. [Obviously, this was designed for Snuka to win, but personally, Snuka makes enough guest appearances that my own personal Mustang would be best waxed by seeing Jim Duggan lace 'em up one last time.]
     
    Also, the Diva Battle Royale does have seven participants (instead of the six I thought could logically be involved). Per my confusion in the RAW Recap, several dozen of you have chimed in that the extra diva is not Lillian, but rather Maria the Mic Stand. Aha..... well, I guess if she can look hot and fall down over the top rope, she's as qualified as anyone, right? 
     
    And I stand by my opinion that Cheerleader is the only acceptable option for any sensible man to vote for. My reasons have been amply stated over the past few days, and shall not be repeated.
     
  • I think that's all I got. I should be all back up in your grill on Friday, unless there really just is a whole lot of nothing that happens between now and then. See you later, peoples.... 


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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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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