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RAW in NYC on 9/11, plus TONS of TV
and Ratings News, ECW, Hi-Def, and MORE! 
September 11, 2006

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


September 11.... September 11... September 11... it feels like I should be remembering somethi.... oh, yeah, that's right.

Listen, folks, since you all already know that I am a phenomenal asshole, I figure I'll just go ahead and say what I hope a lot people are privately thinking today: that there are necessary and important lessons to be remembered from 9/11 (and from the ensuing five years), but it doesn't really seem like anybody's seeing fit to remember then in a healthy or 

constructive way, here on the fifth anniversary.

So OO Nation: I implore you to remember and reflect upon what 9/11 was to you. For a lot of us, we have to play a little Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon before we get to somebody we know who was actually directed affected by the attacks those days. But that doesn't take away from the day or two of disjointed, surreal doubt we all floated through before things started feeling normal again, nor does it take away from the concern and sympathy we all felt towards those who actually were directed affected. There's positively no reason to ignore or forget those feelings on a day like today.

But there's also positively no reason to let TV networks try to use a tragedy as a way to score ratings... positively no reason to let our own government's top officials try to use the anniversary to play on our dormant emotions to falsely recreate the sense of patriotism and national (and international) consensus that really existed five years ago before they were pissed away... and positively no reason to let al Queda itself use the occasion to release a video that attempts to revive America's sense of terror and fear that the organization has long since proved itself incapable of following through on. 

This stuff has actually been going on all weekend, and I hope you're all immune to the attempted manipulations.... and even if you're not, and you've kind of found yourself selling out to the hype, then please, at least join me in Trembling In Horror at what Vince McMahon and WWE might do tonight on RAW. You think they choose to return to New York City on 9/11 by accident? 

Maybe we'll get lucky, and all they'll do is have Lilian Garcia belt out a killer rendition of the National Anthem, and not speak of it the rest of the show.... but then again: this is Vince McMahon we're talking about, and if anybody can imagine a way to turn this into a Night of Self-Aggrandizement, it's him. So... I am a bit concerned.

But enough of that. You do your 9/11 thing on your time, and I'll do mine on my time... and while we're hanging out together, we'll talk some wrestling:

  • A look ahead to the planned wrestling content of tonight's RAW probably is the best and fairest place to start today... because they do seem to be loading things up.
    The announced main event of the show is Triple H taking on Vince McMahon. And while it promises to be a moderately sizeable load of crap from a wrestling perspective, you know how these things work: it can still be a fun Sports Entertainment Segment, what with Shawn Michaels, Shane McMahon, and (probably) the Big Show all getting involved.
    One also has the sense that they wouldn't do this match here and now if they didn't have some kind of major angle planned for the return to MSG. Then again, I'm also the guy who can't shake this notion that somehow we aren't too far off from Stephanie McMahon and the revelation of her Baby Daddy starting the implosion of the McMahon Family, so maybe I'm too attenuated to that idea.
    They've also announced a six-man tag match. Same as the six-person match that headlined RAW last week, just with Johnny Nitro and Jeff Hardy replacing Lita and Trish Stratus. A full three readers wrote in over the weekend, predicting that I would make the joke that Nitro and Jeff are divas, and it's still an intergender match. Hey, ma, lookit my restraint!
    Just as the HHH/Vince match will serve as hype for the Hell in the Cell match at this weekend's PPV, the six-man will serve to hype the PPV's main event (Edge/Cena, TLC) and two other top matches (Carlito/Orton and Hardy/Nitro).
    Between these two matches (and the inevitable promos/skits leading up to them), RAW appears to be in shape to pretty efficiently take care of selling some PPVs. Other than this, all they need to do is find an excuse for Kane/Umaga to slobberknocker briefly, and remind us that the Spirit Squad are still the tag champs (and that the Highlanders are their #1 contenders), and you've got most everything else covered.
    There's just one last matter: the final touches on Trish Stratus vs. Lita in what is expected to be Trish's retirement match. Sure those two will tangle, but they've also announced that Trish will have her Final RAW Match Ever tonight, against her former (and once again?) #1 Fan, Mickie James. MSG, make me proud, and let's jumpstart the Week of Stratusfaction with a "Thank you, Trish" chant, OK? For whatever it's worth, I think the play tonight should be Mickie reverting to her (non-annoying) #1 Fan ways, wrestling a clean match, but then getting the win over Trish only when Lita interferes. Trish and Mickie can then fend off Lita together, and you'll get your full-on Mickie face-turn, accompanied by a "passing of the torch" moment tonight. Because you sure as hell aren't getting that on Sunday (since there's no "torch" to be passed to Lita, who is also leaving the company, so I say you let Trish win and retire as the champ). 
    Anyway, I really do like how tonight's show appears to be set up to hype Sunday's Unforgiven PPV with fewer (and thus, longer) segments, as opposed to the traditional transparent pre-PPV episode format... plus, WWE always pulls out the stops at MSG, and this time, they may feel even more compelled to do so since it's been about 2 years since they've performed there.
    I do have my concerns (as voiced above), but purely on the wrestling side of things? I'm cautiously optimistic about tonight's broadcast... and however it turns out, you know I'll be here tomorrow, slaving away to bring you the Greatest and Best RAW Recap in the World. So check out the show, come on back for the recap, or do both if you're a super-fan...
  • A little ratings catch-up, to keep us all apprised of how things are going, box-office-wise....
    Last week's RAW did a 3.6, a mild bump up from the week before (on Sci-Fi), but still a half-point below recent averages. No doubt, WWE internally blames Labor Day, though I'm not sure Labor Day is the kind of happy-fun-time holiday that still has people frolicking at 9pm on a night before they have to return to Business As Usual.... so there could also just be a bit of apathy factored into that rather sizeable 0.5 deviation, too. Which is too bad since -- as I noted last week -- this was a RAW that I thought did a hell of a lot right.
    The next night's ECW on Sci Fi bounced back up to a 2.2 rating (from the previous week's anomalously-low 1.9)... so that's partially good news. The less-good news is that it took Stunt Casting (in the form of DX) to get the bump, and that even with the bump, the rating was still one tick below the show's series-to-date average. 
    For whatever it's worth, I found the show mostly forgettable. The DX/Big Show main event was DEFINITELY an underwhelming let-down, and in a lot of ways, I considered Matt Striker the star of the show. His mic work was extraordinary, and when the time comes, he and Sandman are gonna have a really fun blow-off match. [I know Vince pussed out and apologized for it, but I thought the Stingray comment was hilarious. It's not like the Crocodile Hunter's family were gonna hear it, and it's not like the guy didn't get famous for doing essentially stupid and dangerous things in front of cameras. It certainly sucks that he died and all, but that he died, not surprisingly, doing something stupid and dangerous for cameras isn't exactly the kind of thing that we shouldn't be allowed to find a bit ironic. So simmer down, folks, and remember: words don't hurt people. Stingrays hurt people.]
    CM Punk bitchslapping Shannon Moore and making Moore cry was also a personal highlight. Which I don't know if that speaks ill of the rest of the show, ill of my assholitude, or ill of the MTV Video Music Awards (since Moore getting bitchslapped for stealing from one of the VMA's most pitiable moments is the ONLY good thing to come out of said VMAs; just awful TV). But it was funny.
    Full ECW Results are right here.
    Then there's TNA.... poor TNA. Ratings were back down to 0.7 this week, after briefly hitting an upward trend with the return of the UFC lead-in. But this week, the Ultimate Fighter only did a 1.1 rating (or about half of what a typical show was drawing last season), and TNA's rating, predictably, suffered for it. Many point to the first regular season NFL game airing on ESPN as a possible culprit in terms of hurting both show's audiences, and I guess if you're talking about fluctuations on the order of 0.2 or so for TNA, that could make sense.... but it sure as hell doesn't explain UFC's ratings being significantly down all season so far. Even as popularity for UFC real events/fights is on the rise, it looks like people may finally be bailing out on their stupid little reality/training show.
    For whatever it's worth, Impact was another week where I ended up feeling like anything was gonna stick with me for more than 10 minutes after I hit "delete" on the DVR, so that's about 2-3 weeks like that in a row... Eric Young was funny as always, I guess, but only in a bit player role; and Christian/Killings was well-worked but essentially devoid of any drama considering the contractual status of Killings. Other than that, the main thing I took away from the show was how often I had to FF to avoid letting Johnny Knoxville poop into my brain. You can get a more details report on Impact right here...
    And SmackDown!? SD! doesn't get a rating this week. Nielsen has given up on trying to rate some UPN shows, since some UPN affiliates have stopped airing UPN programming at standard times (and some have stopped airing it altogether) as part of the petty dick-waving contest stemming from the switchover to The CW. Essentially: if you live in a market where the WB affiliate is the one switching over to the CW, your UPN affiliate may have stopped airing UPN shows last week so as to screw with the seamlessness of the transition. The UPN shows may be displaced to odd hours (or even sold off to the local WB affiliate to air in off-peak hours). Throw in the standard preemptions for baseball and stuff, and SD!'s profile is at an all-time low these two weeks leading up to September 22's debut on the CW.
    I thought SD! had a decent show, too... Booker pinning Batista (albeit with help from Finlay) is intriguing as hell, because it seemingly deflects Batista into a one-on-one feud with Finlay (which, given Finlay's reputation, could be a message from on-high that Batista needs to step things up in the ring), leaving Booker without a clear-cut #1 Contender. That, in my mind, actually does create a possibility -- no matter how slim -- that Cena could lose at Unforgiven and be shuttled over to anchor SD!... a lot of people have this perception of SD! being the "pure wrestling" show, and would say Cena would be a fish out of water there; but honestly, the true difference between RAW and SD! isn't that large, as last week's RAW proved that they can do 12-15 minutes matches as well as SD!. And as much as "Chris Benoit, #1 Contender" sounds good, I'm not entirely sure if the world is ready for Benoit/Booker Chapter 293; it's still only 6 months ago that they wrapped up a seemingly interminable feud. So we'll just have to sit back and see what's next for Booker, and I'm officially curious to see which way WWE goes...
    You can get a full report on the rest of SD! right here.
    Thus ends TV Ratings Round-Up Hour....

  • Speaking of Benoit, he did *not* return to action this weekend, despite original plans for him to do so. No reason is known at this point, but it's not like Benoit's the kind of guy who is apt to have a whole lot of ring rust. And going back a month or so, the plan was to have his TV return happen on the first CW episode of SD!, so all parties involved may be perfectly content to let Benoit work out on his own.
    Then again, if we posit that Cena-to-SD! is at least a possibility, then maybe we can conspiracize that Benoit pulling out of SD! house shows is because a new plan is in place... either for him to plug into Cena's spot as a top RAW babyface, or to be used as an anchor for ECW (kind of the role Angle had been tapped to fill; somebody with all around credibility, who can exist above the "Heyman's WWE Castoffs vs. ECW Originals" over-arching storyline). Who knows?
  • The SD! house show last night in Connecticut was a special treat for the fans who showed up: WWE basically did a full-on SmackDown! taping, complete with backstage skits and everything.
    The show, however, will not air, as it was just a one-off test by WWE to see how their product will translate into High Definition. They were checking things like aspect-ratio affecting camera angles and stuff like that, mostly. But there were ancillary concerns over audio and even make-up, too. WWE officials will examine the footage, I'm sure further test shoots will be done, and the hope is that WWE goes hi-def by late 2007 or early 2008.
    And then: bring on the letterbox for me and my lo-def ass! I've said it once, and I'll say it again: audio/video wankers who honestly give this much of a shit over how a blade of grass looks during a football game need help. If I want to gaze upon a lifelike blade of grass, I'll look out my front window. If I want to watch a football game, I'll watch TV. People who get that worked up about obsessing over the picture, instead of just paying attention to what the picture is of, frighten and disturb me, and are of the same ilk of former bandmates or Dayton Rock Scenesters who obsess over recording methods without realizing that what they want to record is the important thing and everything else is minor piddling details that won't make your song any substantially better or worse.
    But I digress. Whether I consider it a pointless innovation or not won't stop us from answering the age-old question "What does Vito's bare ass look like in high definition?" at some point within the next year or so....
  • Some former stars who *did* show up at house shows over the weekend did so not-entirely-expectedly...
    At the same event in Tampa, FL, DX's "gauntlet" matches were bookended by guests. Chris Kanyon went to ringside with signs imploring HHH to find out why Vince fired him, and then asking Shawn Michaels to pray for his gay soul. By all accounts, this was in no way scripted or expected, and amounts to Kanyon trying to create a splash of attention over the fact that he believes he was fired from WWE for contemplating coming out of the closet. [Kanyon didn't, but instead came out about his homosexuality about a year or so ago.]
    Kanyon's argument doesn't necessarily hold that much water with me, given how willing WWE is to present homosexual characters (even if sometimes in a not-so-flattering way) and how PERSONALLY willing Vince McMahon was to have the gay-as-a-French-trombone Pat Patterson as his top lieutenant for two decades (somebody who was respected by every member of the organization, to boot). 
    But whatever: Kanyon's got his theories, and has stated on his website that he was looking for answers (and also, looking for work) by doing what he did.... I dunno if things'll work out or not, but good on him for at least creating a mild splash with his actions.
    And then, after DX was victorious, Sean "X-Pac" Waltman was brought out to join in on a few crotchchops. But fear not: Waltman lives in the area, and was at the show visiting. It would be the purest speculation to suggest this could lead to a full-time return for X-Pac.
  • Oleg Prudius was on the road again this week, squashing Eugene on RAW house shows. Despite mastering only a handful of moves and having a natural grasp on the mental side of the game that I'm told is rivaled only by that of Chris F. Masters, it appears as though The Look may get Prudius serious consideration as a next developmental call-up.
    Then, the only question will become: Can he outlast the Great Khali's tenure?
  • The Bashams were back to working ECW house shows this weekend as Paul Heyman's masked SWAT Team (or "personal enforcers," or whatever label they've got). They beat the FBI around the horn, and I gotta wonder if this means anything in terms of their use/unmasking on TV, or if ECW's one-hour-per-week slot and lack of a defined tag division makes that unnecessary?
  • In what could be an interesting atmosphere, ECW will actually tape tomorrow night's show tonight at MSG (before RAW goes live). Then they'll tape next week's show tomorrow night at SD! tapings.
    This is because next Monday is a joint RAW/SD! Supershow Taping, and when Sci-Fi wouldn't pony up the money to allow for stand-alone ECW tapings, this is the policy WWE decided to implement...  not sure, but I figure there's probably enough time before RAW for WWE to still tape a few matches for Internet Heat, too. If not, I don't envy the Cubs Fan come the weekend.
  • WWE has cancelled an already-once-postponed tour of Israel.... obviously, the situation in the region makes traveling and performing there an unwise gamble.
  • I think that's it from me today. I'll see you tomorrow with the RAW Recap, and again throughout the week with any other news (and certainly the Team Coverage Unforgiven PPV Preview) as well. 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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