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The SD! Roster Decimation and the Impact
on PPV... plus Ratings, TNA, TV News, RAW! 
July 24, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Alright, folks: you asked for it, you got it.

At some point later this week, I'll be unleashing the "Vince McMahon: Star Maker, Star Breaker?" feature upon the world, complete with my estimate of the "VKM Legacy Multiplier" for each of 28 former World Champions who came to WWE (the vast majority of whom saw their legacy diminshed as a result of the move) since 1985.

The reason this is more relevant than it might be most weeks is because last night, Booker T became just the fourth man ever to make his mark as the World Champion of another organization first, and then come to WWF/E and also attain their top honor. Although, as one reader quipped, it's quite telling that "Booker T" didn't win the WWE/World Title under Vince's watch.... instead, it's this new character named "King Booker," which is 100% the property of Vincent Kennedy McMahon (Self-Styled Star Maker). Things that make you go "Hmmmmm," indeed....

And that's right: I said FOURTH. Even though last week I said he'd become the fifth. Well: I lied. Or rather: I was mistaken. At the behest of several readers, I did some checking, and it turns out that Chris Benoit's WCW Title reign does not count. Not only did referee Arn Anderson's words (when reversing his decision) bear this out, but Benoit's own canonical bio on WWE.com specifically states that the WCW Title reign was negated and is not recognized. So Benoit's of that list, but is replaced by Booker (who joins Flair, Big Show, and Goldberg).

It'll be an interesting little analysis. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to frame it as a cogent feature, but I promise even if I can't tie it together in my Profeshunal Riter way, there'll at least be a ton of interesting little tidbits and observations made amidst the mess of raw information. It should, as the kids say, be a good one.

And now, for today's amalgam of wrestling current events: 

  • Having not seen it for myself yet, I can't really expound at length about last night's Great American Bash PPV.
    What I'll do instead is remind you of what I said in the PPV Preview about sitting here on Monday, being flooded with e-mails from people who seem pleasantly surprised that the Bash didn't totally suck... because I was dead right: non-existent expectations equal relatively-easily-entertained viewers. The wrestling was -- as predicted -- front and center, and was executed with gusto (with the exception of a universally-crapped-upon Taker/Show match)... but the problem was that, by and large, there was no real reason to care until the main event.
    I can also issue a few amplifications and corrections: (1) the Hardy/Helms match was NOT for the CW Title, as Matt Hardy was announced as being overweight (not in terms of fatness, in terms of the CW weight limit)... and (2) Helms didn't win totally cleanly, as he did use a handful of tights. Then (3) Ken Kennedy bled like a stuck pig, and most saw it as a legit/hardway deal (which I can confirm was the case; and even if I couldn't, the cynic in me would simply point out that there's no way Kennedy would be told to go out and do a massive bladejob just 10 minutes after Undertaker did a nice, cute little sympathy blade job in his match).
    And most importantly: (4) Chavo Guerrero's chairshot on Rey Mysterio was not intended to have ambiguous motivation behind it. He whacked Rey on purpose, and was pleased with himself afterwards. They wont' even try to milk it till Friday night: we have an official heel turn.
    So with those clarifications from last night out of the way, I'll just wrap up by saying that it sounds like WWE low-expectationed their way into having a Bash audience of mostly-satisfied fans. The question is: how many of them? My guess is "Not Very." You can get full results in last night's OO Great American Bash Recap.
  • Of course, the REAL Bash drama happened on Friday afternoon and evening, as WWE made stunning decisions to alter two of the Bash's five announced matches (after already being forced to change a third due to Mark Henry's injury).
    Both Bobby Lashley and the Great Khali were pulled from the show due to Health Concerns. WWE has gone public that Lashley's problems are liver-related. More than a few readers passed along information about the sorts of naughty things that might cause such liver enzyme issues, but from what I can discern (third-hand), none of those substances were detected in Lashley's system, and WWE simply caught the liver symptoms as part of their routine testing. Another aspect of this story is that WWE knew of the problem two weeks ago, which is why they took the title off Lashley when they did, pending additional testing. Which, I gather, didn't pan out well if Lashley was pulled that quickly from a PPV (after having just worked a near-20-minute match on SD! tapings earlier in the week).
    Khali's problems haven't been openly discussed by WWE, but are also said to be liver-related. It's entirely possible that -- unlike Lashley -- Khali will simply be written off TV, never to return. 
    Lashley's absence was dealt with by simply having Finlay and Regal contest a one-on-one US Title match. 'Twas said to be good, but not good enough to win over very many of the live fans who aren't so keen on the crisp/stiff stylings of these two. Personally, I would have rectified that by having them do more of an angle at the start of the match, where they flat-out refuse to fight each other. Teddy Long could insist. They'd still refuse. Finally, King Booker could make an appearance to talk some sense to them, lest Teddy fly off the handle and strip Finlay of the belt. After a conference, Booker seats himself on a ringside thrown, takes a mic, and starts doing running commentary about how he INSISTS upon being entertained by his court jesters: so c'mon, monkeys, Fight To the Death for Your King's Amusement! After a lengthy feeling out process, there may be a few lock-ups and headlocks, which Booker can oversell with his customary zeal. But then Finlay gently nudges Regal with a cheap shoulderblock or punch or something, and Regal falls down. As Booker marvels at the brutality of the cheapshot, Finlay makes the cover, and the ref is forced to count to three. Regal magically pops up, shakes Finlay's hand, and bows to his King, and that appears to be that.... but nope: here's Teddy Long again. He's not letting that travesty of a match stand. So (1) Booker T is banned from ringside and betta get to steppin', and (2) this is a three-way match again, and the new US Title contender is none-other-than the man who ended Ken Kennedy's undefeated streak last week: Matt Hardy. So just like that: your five minute opening angle/"match" infuriates (and entertains) the audience, firmly establishing Finlay and Regal as heels, and then you shoehorn Matt in there, capitalizing on what passes for his "momentum," and I'm sure you could have had a jim dandy of a match. 
    Anyway: just an idea I had. And even though I'm quite sure it's not a dollar short, it is a day late, so what's the point of sharing, really?
  • The story's not over on SmackDown!, either. The reason Matt Hardy had to be thrown out there on short notice as Gregory Helms opponent is because Super Crazy (the originally scheduled opponent) was ALSO found to have health issues that just showed up in the latest round of Wellness Program Testing. He's been pulled from active competition pending further evaluation.
    And even before the show, it was known that one of Jamie Noble or Kid Kash would be getting sent home for 30 days for unspecified (read: "personal"; read: "you can probably figure it out by reading between the lines, but it's really none of your business") reasons.... because of how bastardized and pillaged the PPV card was already, Noble and Kash were still used on the show, lest 4 of the 5 originally announced matches not take place.
    SD! and its already anemic roster simply can't catch any breaks, can they? 
  • And while SD!'s getting crushed by roster issues, RAW's going to be experiencing an unexpected lack of star power tonight, as well. But for happier reasons.
    Both Triple H and Vince McMahon are in Connecticut, where Stephanie McMahon is going to be giving birth just about any time now (I saw an interview in which Kevin Nash said that HHH is ecstatic, and had a July 22 due date circled on his calendar, so Steph's already into overtime as it is).
    HHH was with Stephanie all weekend (skipping house shows), but had planned to fly back out to be at tonight's RAW. That's not happening now. Vince conducted his business as usual over the weekend, and either has or is flown/flying back to join the family. This will require some changes to the intended RAW format, but all those involved knew this was a possibility, and with contingencies in place, there shouldn't be any kind of mad scramble or anything, even if this will set one key storyline back one week....
  • A secondary effect of all the injuries/changes to the Bash was that WWE cancelled Saturday and Sunday's ECW house shows. Big Show was required in Indianapolis all weekend (to do a crash course with Taker in terms of how they'd lay out their match and use the "Punjab Prison" gimmick), and without Show, then ECW would be left without..... well.... a show. At least, not one that would satisfy the paying customers. 
    So those shows were rescheduled for November (it actually works out nicely, since WWE had already rescheduled Friday night's ECW show -- in Battle Creek, MI -- till November so that RVD would be back and able to work in front of his hometown fans), and the ECW champ showed up on PPV to job to a SD! guy.... even if it is the Undertaker, I think it's too bad that the only guy for the job was the man who supposedly represents ECW.
  • A few Canadian readers have sent along word that when ECW begins airing on the Global Television Network (Fridays at 11pm), the brand will have double the exposure and household penetration that RAW and SD! will have via The Score. The Score is available in roughly 6 million Canadian homes, while GTN (which rebroadcasts most of NBC's primetime line-up for our Canuck brothers and sisters) reaches over 12 million homes.
    That's wacky. I guess chalk it up to WWE's emphasis on perception and PR, as they feel the need for both RAW and SD! to air in primetime (even if on a second-tier cable network), while ECW is allowed to air in late night (albeit only barely, at 11pm) which resulted in ECW securing the much superior network.
  • Despite crappy ratings, WWE *will* be getting more shots to present Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC. The new deal between WWE and NBC/Universal (signed last fall), calls for two more primetime specials in 2007 and two more in 2008. Look for NBC to do with those what they did with this latest one: hide it somewhere on the schedule where only those looking for it will find it, and then not really promote it. 
  • SD!'s rating for Friday was back down a bit this week, to a 2.5 (and possibly lower once all the preemptions and what not give us the final number). At this point, there's no use talking about what everybody knows already.... SD!'s ratings are in the toilet (relative to what they've been), but as long as WWE is delivering an audience 50% bigger than anything UPN's ever aired on Friday nights, they'll take it and be happy about it.
  • You know how I don't go flying off the handle about changes of 0.1, or mild quarter hour fluctuations, all because of the mathematical margin for error that exists in Nielsen's calculations? 
    Well, it might be time to stop considering the 0.1 changes in TNA's ratings, and take notice that they've had three 0.1 changes all in a row, and all in a downward direction. TNA has gone from a 1.1 down to a 0.8 for last Thursday's show.
    In my humble opinion, this sucks, since last Thursday's show was about as rock solid an outing as TNA can have. You had a little bit of everything: a good promo/angle with Chris Daniels and Gonnad's LAX (where AJ Styles did what he does best, standing around and keeping his yapper shut so he doesn't impress us with his vapidity), one of Kevin Nash's most hilarious segments to date (and with the promise of more hilarity to come if Shelley and what's-his-name make good on their claim of bringing in X Division Zen Masters from Madagascar; "Madagascar?!?!?! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!"), some interesting twists and turns (Rhino vs. Joe? The Dudleys are leaving for a while after telling Spike to "behave," even though I hope to christ he doesn't because even 10 years after he re-invented the little-man/big-man genre with Bam Bam Bigelow, I think Spike and Abyss can do some fun stuff?), and capped off by a main event that made me think of Triple H's handful of outstanding matches against jobbers where by sheer force of showing-ass he ACTUALLY CONVINCES YOU he might lose.... methinks Jarrett and Jay Lethal watched themselves a bit of HHH/Taka Michinoku or HHH/Flair from a few years back, before they headed to the ring.
    The opening match was also pretty good, though I'm with Jason: "Maverick" Matt is gayer than a French Trombone, and is a name that must never be spoken again.
    And speaking of the French, I'm also with Jason that Christopher Daniels is the man who must popularize "Le Zidane" (Headbutt of Immense Solar Plexular Doom) among wrestling fans. Imagine: Daniels fells an opponent, and then turns his back to him, seemingly to meditate, but as soon as his opponent recovers and is ready to attack, divine intervention strikes, Daniels turns around at precisely the right second, and his opponent runs full speed right into a headbutt to the sternum, causing him to drop to the mat with all the flop-o-riffic gusto of an Italian Soccer Drama Queen. And for whatever it's worth: I'd take Le Zidane over the Pele any day of the week.
    Anyway: Jason's full report on Thursday's show can be found right here... but I was wanting to make a point about ratings before getting sidetracked for a second, there.
    The point: most everybody agrees that there's a reason why TNA is experiencing this now-significant downward trend. The discussion begins and ends with TNA's new lead-in.... I don't even know what the show(s) are, but everybody who mentions them to me universally agrees that they are awful, and ratings bear them out. Instead of holding onto some percentage of a UFC lead-in audience (which crosses over nicely with TNA's audience), TNA is now stuck with the task of being "destination" programming. Now longer are they the thing that young males with an appetite for sports and violence can leave on the TV once UFC is over. Now, the craptacularity of whatever Spike's putting on at 10pm on Thursday's means there's no "carry-over" audience, and viewers have to make a specific effort to flip over to Spike at 11pm. 
    Believe it or not, this really could be a huge issue for TNA. At no point on their run on Spike has TNA *not* had a higher-rated UFC lead-in. Although it's too late to do so, now, I'm retroactively thinking that if Spike had been wise, they'd have instantly moved TNA up to the 10pm timeslot on Thursdays once first-run UFC shows were done. That way, people with a UFC habit might flip over to Spike at 10pm, see it wasn't UFC, but it was still that kinda-cool wrestling show, and they'd have stuck around for it, essentially allowing TNA to retain all its audience.
    We'll have to see how Spike addresses this situation, cuz at some level, all TNA can do is try to build the best mousetrap they can with their limited creativity and resources... and I thought Thursday's show looked like about as sound a mousetrap as the company can build, and it still suffered from the declining ratings trend.
  • Even without Vince and HHH, RAW must go on tonight... and to be honest, a one-week respite from the increasingly-lame DX antics might be a good thing.
    In its place: Hulk Hogan, who WWE now confirms will be at RAW tonight to address the situation with Randy Orton. I'm still predicting that this storyline doesn't end well. I have no faith in wrestling fans' social graces and maturity; a lot of sexless chair moisteners out there are probably gonna end up hero worshipping Randy Orton as he slimes and roofies his way to deflowering Brooke Hogan. "THAT's how you get a girl," they'll think. And as much as the problem is that there are actually fans out there who see something charming about Randall's 75-IQ-having, date-raping, chin-locking Frat Boy Douche persona, the other problem is entirely WWE's: for putting too much faith in Hulk Hogan's remaining Goodwill with fans. We like the nostalgia runs, now and again, sure.... but do we like them enough to let Brooke Hogan make a HUGE withdrawal on her dad's Goodwill account by being a part of this storyline? That's where I'm pretty positive WWE's miscalculating (even with fans such as myself who are mature enough to find Randy Orton as loathesome a character as he seems to be as a person).
    I'm not sure when or how fast the thing will go south, but mark my words: by the time we get to SummerSlam, don't be expecting Hogan to be the unanimous babyface in the match against Orton.
    Obviously: John Cena vs. Edge is another SummerSlam pairing, and I don't know about you, but I vote Edge actually GETS TO DO SOMETHING this week. Not just short hotel skits or a 2 minute run-in, but actual substantial TV time with which to entertain us, seeing as how he's one of the few on the roster capable of doing so. Be it lengthy promo/angle or participation in a meaningful match against a capable opponent, Edge is too valuable to under-utilize the way WWE has under-utilized him the past two weeks. Remember: Edge is the "highest rated champion in five years," and yet RAW has suffered two straight sub-4.0 ratings on his watch, but it's only because Edge hasn't actually been made central to the show since winning the title. Which makes no freaking sense to me.
    Foley vs. Flair is the next line down on the depth chart, and those two might finally be due for another face-to-face (i.e., no pre-taped stuff) confrontation, although frankly, as sweet as Mick's promos have been, pre-taped ain't necessarily a bad thing, either....  Nitro vs. Carlito is obviously your IC Title feud for the near term... Trish vs. Melina may or may not still be a going issue after last week's bizarre women's tag match in which there were no pre-established hostitlies among any of the women, but if Trish/Melina is still on, then it's never gonna be too far removed from Nitro/Carlito.... and Kane should be back on the continent after doing overseas promotion for his movie, which might mean its time for him to pick up where he left off, too.
    One other thing is officially on the docket for tonight: The Spirit Squad will defend the tag team titles against the Highlanders... the widely-held conventional wisdom is that the Squad will split up once they lose the tag belts, but I'm sure as shit hoping that's not tonight. The chances for the Highlanders and Squad to do some solid comedy-based build up are too myriad to just skip right past them and go straight to the title change, and the break-up... if nothing else, the Highlanders need more time interacting with other characters (and not just squashing jobbers) so that fans can be receptive to the comic relief.
    But if they're jumping right ahead to the title match (instead of the WWE standard "you have to win a non-title match first, before you get a title shot"), I've got a feeling the writer monkeys have put this one in the oven and set the thing for "Ahead Warp Factor 8." Because those Writer Monkeys: they don't even know what a mixed metaphor is.
    I digress. Hopefully, whatever happens, the Obnoxious Male Cheerleader gimmick remains intact for two of the guys so they can still wage some form of rematch/challenge against the Highlanders. The biggest "duh" in the Spirit Squad break-up is that Kenny will get a singles push, but I can't see any reason to not let Johnny (the most in-ring-capable) and Mikey (the most hilariously-over-the-top assface when it comes to playing up the gimmick) keep the Spirit Squad gimmick as a tag team. Maybe stick a chick with them, who'll always look tasty in her cheerleader outfit, but who'll also insure the Spirit Squad's heelishness, since they will never, ever hit on her or respond to her overtures because -- like all good male cheerleaders -- they are ambiguously gay. And what of Nicky and Mitch? I couldn't possibly care any less....
    We'll see how things go tonight on RAW... the show could certainly use a strong outing. It was fricking June the last time they really delivered a top-to-bottom entertaining show, and the dry spell is beginning to annoy. But you know the drill: no matter what your experience (or lack there of, should you skip out on RAW entirely) is tonight, you are heartily encouraged to come on back to OO tomorrow for the Greatest and Best RAW Recap in the World. That's right: greatest and best. Unlike WWE, I don't need to lower your expectations to zero to fully satisfy and amaze you!
    See you then, 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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