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TNA to Prime Time, plus lots of Ratings,
Roster Assignments, and Other News
February 1, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


So much for me being all smart and current-events-conscious and All Around Better-Than-You....

I got home last night, realized I'd basically missed the entirety of the State of the Union Address. And not unlike my bi-monthly editions of TRL, I viewed this as something I had to check out so that at least I'd know, precisely, what it is that I hate, and then be able to discourse knowledgeably about why things suck.

So I made myself a promise that I'd

watch the midnight replay of the President's speech. It was, I figured, my civic duty.

So guess what I ended up doing, instead? Watching "They Live" on AMC at 11 o'clock and being unable to turn away.... pretty much futzed away my entire night. Truth be told: I couldn't be happier with my decision-making.

I guess I'll skate by on the three articles I read about the speech today, and then add in an hour's worth of Fake News Analysis later tonight thanks to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Granted, by my own stringent standards, not seeing the speech in the name of doing something fun makes me selfish, lazy, and possessing of a dubious intellect.... but then I realize three Yahoo articles and an hour of Fake News will probably result in me being better informed than 75% of the American Populace.

This does not make me proud. It just makes it so that I can live with myself. Now, to paraphrase Roddy Piper: I come here to chew bubblegum and write about wrestling. And I'm all out of bubblegum.

We ride:

  • The big news of the day is still a developing situation, without a lot of concrete details.
    But I *can* say with confidence that TNA big-wigs were slated to fly to New York today, and that the buzz around TNA tapings last night in Orlando is that the company is about to be moved to a primetime timeslot.
    This comes just weeks after Spike locked TNA out of any first-quarter primetime specials (actually canceling a proposed special on Monday, February 13, when RAW is pre-empted) because of disappointment over TNA's ratings performances at the end of 2005. But things move fast in TV Land, and when TNA scored its best rating to date two weeks ago and then topped it (with an impressive 1.1) this past weekend, Spike and TNA became fast-friends again. Hints of upward mobility is what the network's been looking for... and now, if TNA can sustain ratings in the low 1's, they will have essentially grown their audience by 50% after being mired at 0.8 ratings for their first three months.
    Now, as to the particulars of this situation? I dunno, like I said, this came together pretty quick, and the meetings in NYC are still-on-going.
    I know that TNA's wish-list is for a 2-hour show on Mondays that would partially over-lap with RAW. But I also know that going back to late last year, when everybody was keeping an eye on TNA because Spike was interested in promoting them to primetime if they could grow the ratings, Spike's position was that they still only wanted TNA to be a one-hour show. And also: they weren't so keen on Monday nights.
    I gather there are some who believe the compromise with be a 90-minute show, and probably not on Mondays. But like I said: with the big-wigs still in meeting as my fingers type this, there's really no way to know what's being talked about and negotiated just yet. Pretty much anything besides knowing what both sides desire (or in the case of Spike, knowing what they were interested in doing 3 months ago when the first TNA Contingency Plan was drawn up) is idle speculation.
    Depending on how fast both sides move, the shift to a weeknight, primetime slot could happen within the month. TNA has already taped a pair of one-hour shows that'll air in the usual slot, but could make all necessary adjustments (possibly to a 90-minute show) effective with the next set of tapings. More likely than not, though, I'd guess that Spike won't be in that big a rush. February is a Sweeps Month, which means they'll have more reliable ratings-getters lined up (big movies, for the most part), and wouldn't go shoe-horning TNA into the line-up until after Sweeps are over.
    Assuming this all comes to pass, this is a huge opportunity for TNA, and hopefully a huge kick-in-the-pants to WWE. I've not been shy about admitting that I don't think TNA's necessarily made the most of their weekly TV show or found the right formula for actually showcasing what they do best (wrestling) when they seem insistent on having 4 pointlessly short matches per show, instead of maybe focusing on 2 really good matches. But with that said, I wish TNA success even if only because then it'll force WWE to get its ass in gear.
    Let's face it: it's still very easy for WWE's Upper Echelon of Asshats to proclaim "TNA? BAH! They're not even real competition for us!"... and at some level, that's a totally fair assessment. But WWE's Upper Echelon of Asshats must still have some shred of pride, and if TNA can come sniffing around their ankles, the company WILL make the changes and improvements necessary to pull away from the competition so that they can once again say "They're not even in our league" and mean it.
    And a move to weeknights in primetime might start that process rolling. Will TNA do WWE's ratings? Nope. Will they do half of WWE's ratings? Probably not, at least not out of the gate. But they'll do better than they are now, and more importantly, there will just be a perceptual shift... because of the increased exposure, just about every single wrestling fan who watches the WWE product will become aware that there actually is another wrestling company on TV, now. Presently, I don't think that's the case among the more casual wrestling fans who'd pretty much have to go out of their way to stumble across TNA in its shitty Saturday night timeslot now. But it's a lot easier to be aware of what's on TV at 9pm on a Thursday night... and if a casual wrestling fan stumbles across TNA and realizes WWE's not the only game in town anymore, that can only be a good thing for everybody involved.
    Hopefully we'll have a few more details on this by Friday or Monday's column.
  • While TNA scored a huge rating over the weekend, which helped cement this sudden move into primetime, WWE got good ratings news of its own.
    RAW did another 4.5 rating on Monday, which means the streak of strong performances is up to 4. Remember: the last time WWE had a string of 4 weeks like this, it was April 2002, so this really is a big deal for them.
    I had some pretty big problems with Monday night's show (which were cleverly identified and skewered in yesterday's RAW Recap) -- some related to logic/continuity problems, some more related to time management issues, and mostly just an overall sense of underwhelment that RAW at this point has a grand total of ZERO interesting top-line stories/feuds heading into WrestleMania -- but you can't argue with results, I guess.
    More than a bit of RAW's rating might be attributable to simple Post-PPV Interest... and when those people showed up to see what happened, and the first thing they saw was Edge promising a WWE Title match as the main event, my guess is they were easily enticed to stick around to see what would happen.
  • Haven't had a chance to mention it yet, but this weekend's SmackDown! only did a 2.9 rating, which is either the second or third disappointing number in a row for them.
    Wasn't a particularly good show, in my opinion, but I will admit that the way they handled some things (really hyping Benoit's 2004 Rumble Win, and then having Benoit cleanly beat Orton) almost had me convinced Benoit was a potential Rumble winner... almost.
  • I know I treated it as a foregone conclusion a week ago, but I believe you can now make it official: WWE has signed a 2-year extension to keep SmackDown! on UPN... and then on the new CW Network.  SD! is safe through autumn 2008, now.
    A change of nights away from Friday is unlikely, which will continue to be a minor nuisance for me trying to do a decent job of coverage on the show when I don't particularly enjoy having to sit in front of the computer and do "work" on the weekends, but whatever...
  • An interesting tidbit from a few readers in south Florida: an employee at a tanning salon has filed a police report alleging that Vince McMahon came in to the salon after the Rumble PPV on Sunday and sexually harassed her.
    WWE is taking the public stance that the woman is lying, and police still haven't filed any formal charges.
    It'll be something to keep an eye on... even if proven true, though, I can't see this causing any real shake-ups in terms of WWE's direction or power structure. A sleazy grope might get Vince fined, but it won't put him in jail where he would have to stop harassing us, The Wrestling Fans....
  • Indications are that WWE has signed a luchador by the name of Super Porky. I don't know much about the guy other than he's more hilarious than he is a strong worker... Cubs Fan even voted him in as one of the funniest moments of 2005 in his year-end awards.
    Obviously, in so far as anybody is thinking ahead, the consensus is he goes to SD!...
  • Speaking of roster distributions, when Goldust showed up on RAW, that caught me by surprise... he took a slot in the Rumble that should have been allotted to SD!. The other alternative is that either Eugene or Tatanka were considered free agents, and one of them will go to SD!. Except: Tatanka is already working on RAW house shows, and I'm dead serious when I say that I want to see a storyline between Maria and Eugene, so.... I dunno.
    It could also be as simple as WWE not giving a shit about the 15/15 split, and it'll just go down as there having been 16 RAW guys and 14 SD! guys.
  • For whatever it's worth, I can confirm that Goldust has signed a full-time WWE contract, so he's not just here for a two-night stint like he was back in October. I consider this to be a good thing. Like I've been saying lately: he can do all the funny/creepy stuff same as Boogeyman, it's just that once you ring the bell, Goldust doesn't absolutely suck.
  • Also on the roster assignments thing: Gregory Helms isn't taking the Cruiserweight Title to RAW... he's officially jumped to SD!. 
  • In a recent interview, Shawn Michaels confirmed a few nebulous rumors when he said he intends to scale back his schedule greatly after WrestleMania. What we still don't know is whether that means scaled back to "still working TV, but just not so many house shows" or scaled back to "only showing up for a few matches per year."
    For all our sakes, let's hope it's the former. The way Shawn was talking, I kind of think that's what the deal will be, since he talked about "resting" his feud with Angle and maybe picking it up again somewhere down the line, and a few other ideas he had that were more long-term-y in nature.
    Also confirmed in the interview: WWE tried mightily to get the Rock to come in and face Michaels at WM22, but the Rock wanted nothing to do with it.
    And when asked about any "dream matches" he still hasn't had or what big matches he'd like to do on the WM stage, Michaels said something that's pretty telling: he says he's not really interested in re-hashing old matches, and wouldn't consider a big marathon blow-off match with Kurt Angle at WM to be something special... what Shawn really enjoys doing these days is getting in the ring with somebody he's not been in there with before, and trying to find new ways to entertain people. As an example, he talked about the Hogan match, and how *that* was fun for him because it was uncharted territory and he still ended up being proud of the end result.
    And folks: I guess right there is why you have Shawn on a collision course with one or both McMahons at Mania... not because it's particularly thrilling, but because it's something Shawn's not done before. Ah well....
  • That's about all I got for today folks. The Flyer Losing Streak extends to 2 tonight in a few hours, and I must be tending those matters. The Flyer Pain is intense, but necessary to endure. For we had too many years of success, and now, this Pain will purify our spirits and allow us to not suck again in some future year.
    Like, hopefully, next year. 
    Later on, kids....

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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