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"Hair" vs. "Hair"... plus All The Week's
Interesting Ratings News and LOTS MORE! 
February 16, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


To the folks who wrote in, stating they had a problem with my offhand remark about "The Office" being "The Most Deteriorated Show on TV"...

Well, far be it for me to rob you of something that gives you comfort and pleasure: and frankly, the weeks the show is "on," it's still as funny as ever. It's just those weeks seem fewer and farther between than the previous two seasons.

Basically, any TV show or movie breaks down along three dimensions: head,

heart, and guts. And how you mix those three elements dictates what kind of show you have. To me, not only are "The Office's" head and guts takings weeks off between appearances (thus changing the very dynamic of the show versus its past), but the heart (which was once such a perversely compelling subplot to the show) has gone full-on retarded. 

But again: that's just my opinion, I guess, and if your mileage is varying, good for you. Lord knows these finicky tastes of mine make it a good thing that I bother to watch so few TV shows: I can find fault at the microscopic level.

And since I'm now safely past that damned ad-box, I can safely turn that surgical focus of mine to the Wrestling of the Day:

  • So with Hulk Hogan more than likely out of WrestleMania, how does WWE try to add some sizzle back into the McMahon vs. Trump feud?
    Well, as of last night (here in the U.S., anyway), they put both billionaires' heads of "hair" on the line in their WM23 showdown. Both men will select an "apprentice" to wrestle in his stead, and the man whose apprentice loses will have his head shaved.
    OK: so *Vince* will have his head shaved. Let's not delude ourselves: Trump is, by all accounts, a humorless and image-obsessed man. Vince, on the other hand, has peed his pants on national TV. You do the math. They may do something screwy with stipulations, or pull a bait and switch, but at the end of April 1, The Donald will still have hair.
    The hair vs. hair stip will now overshadow the actual performers in the match, and should provide WM23 with something that -- while probably a bit silly and pointless to us week-in and week-out fans -- will lure in the all-important casual viewer. If Trump could milk a month's worth of press out of his slapfight with Rosie, then this should be right up Tabloid TV's alley. And thus, right up the alley of whatever dregs of society are stuffing Tabloid TV's gaping, dimwitted maw with viewers.
    The only thing I'd (continue to) caution against: the storyline will have to be very closely managed to make sure that fans have somebody to cheer for. Vince and Trump are both "natural heels," and inherently unlikable.... luckily, Vince has had years of experience channeling his natural dickishness for TV purposes, and as long as Trump has that to play off of (and as long as he keeps "buying" the fans' cheers with money from the ceiling), they oughta be OK. Still: something to keep an eye on, because otherwise, you are not TOO far away from this having Goldberg/Lesnar-at-WM20 potential where the fans just don't like either guy at all.
    Certainly, Vince was at his comically-over-the-top best (worst?) as he and Trump opened RAW last night, so the chemistry is working, for now.
  • A quick rundown of the rest of RAW, following the Trump/Vince segment...
    Melina and Johnny Nitro beat Mickie James and Super Crazy, when Melina scored a pinfall over the women's champ. Nothing special, but it serves a storyline purpose by keeping Melina as the #1 Contender to Mickie's title.
    Khali squashed Eugene. Next.
    Flair cut another backstage promo doubting Carlito's passion, so Carlito stepped up and challenged Flair to a match later tonight.
    Jeff Hardy beat Chris F. Masters. Once again, a non-title match, with Hardy's stip being that if you beat him, then LATER you can have an IC Title Shot. And once again, Hardy wins, rendering that point moot. Huh. About as tolerable a CFM match as you'll see, for whatever that's worth; all he had to do was lumber around, and let Hardy make him look like a million bucks.
    Roddy Piper came out to a big hometown ovation, proud to tell us all that he had kicked cancer's ass. After enjoying the moment, Piper said he had business here tonight: introducing the first inductee to the Hall of Fame Class of 2007.... Dusty Rhodes. The moment between Dusty and Piper was then ruined by Umaga, who decimated both men. My personal choice as the Segment Of The Night: it was great to see Roddy, and a more effective use of that jerkface Umaga I cannot imagine. [It should be noted that if, for some reason, Umaga wants to keep on beating up legends, there's one particular semi-active/but-sorta-"fired" legend with a penchant for brawling that I might not mind seeing slobberknockering with Umaga during a guest appearance at WrestleMania. I think you all know of whom I speak. He was only half of my 2006 Match of the Year.]
    Ric Flair beat Carlito. As can frequently be the case in Flair matches when he works against a relatively unfamiliar oponent, this didn't really click. Then again, if all the inane chatter about learning Carlito some respect is true, maybe Flair wasn't exactly under orders to LET IT click, if you take my meaning. Flair won with a roll-up out of nowhere, after which it was Carlito who teased a heel turn, before he shook Flair's hand.
    Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Batista, and John Cena beat Edge, Randy Orton, Ken Kennedy, and Mounteverest Valentinesday Porter (or NAMBLA, for short). Really long match. But it probably didn't have to be. And would have been better if pared down, except that they really felt the need for all 8 men to get something accomplished (even if it was never adequately explained why we needed all 8 of these men involved to begin with). Ultra-long Cena-in-peril segment ends with a hot tag to Taker, but then Glory Hog Shawn Michaels blind tags himself into the match, and scores the pinfall over Orton. Forget your WrestleMania matches for now, cuz this leads to Taker and Michaels getting into it as a preview of Sunday's No Way Out tag match main event. And it also reminds me how much cooler it would have been if they'd taken my advice and set things up to be HBK/Taker at WrestleMania. But whatever...
    Lengthy opening segment aside, this was a RAW that seemed heavier on the in-ring action than normal, even if a lot of it seemed rather flaccid. Don't know if there's a direct correlation between that factor and the show being taped (and if there is, I'm not sure I can conceive of the reason why), but it was definitely the way it felt to me.
  • Up against the second hour of RAW in a very special "Thursday Night War," TNA's Impact was headlined by Samoa Joe winning a 14-man gauntlet match. He's now the #1 Contender to Christian's NWA Title, and will get his shot at the March PPV. Which I don't remember the name of. Because all TNA is advertising is the April Lockdown (all cage matches) PPV, on the grounds that they actually have to sell tickets for that one.
    With Joe getting a stab at Christian, it's also exactly as we discussed last week: that's leaving Kurt Angle to deal with Scott Steiner in a feud that fills me with dread. The combined frailness and stiffness of the two men involved leaves me wondering if they can even complete a 2- or 3-month feud without one of them ending up crippled for life. Steiner set the wheels for the feud in motion last night with one of his rambling, idiotic moonman promos.
    That'll leave TNA once again very top-heavy heading into a PPV, as nothing much else from the undercard stood out (either because of its inherent silliness, a la Young/Roode or the revelation for just why Russo decided to make the Dudleys Italian all of a sudden, or because of lack of development).
    Also: if Kevin Nash wants to continue stealing ideas for The Funny directly from OO (see Jillian Hall-related comments from Monday, then see what clearly most-aroused Master Nash on Impact) for use in his skits, I hereby demand that he at least have the same common decency of most of the other Known OO Thieves who have usually had one of their lackeys/hangers-on/associates e-mail me about their masters' fondness for the Online Onslaught. Scott Hall can operate a PC, can't he? Lord knows he's not busy doing anything else constructive.... Or does Master Nash still keep in touch with Nitro Girl Chae? That'd be even better....
  • So, who won the ratings battle last night? WWE, and probably a bit more handily than I'd have guessed.
    RAW, displaced to Thursday night, did a 3.0 cable rating, which is almost exactly in line with WWE's recent "out of timeslot" numbers (where shows tend to attract only about 75% of their usual audience).
    TNA, on the other hand, experienced a significantly greater percentage drop, scoring only a 0.6 cable rating. That's a loss of close to half their usual Thursday night audience, and indicates that -- at the present time -- WWE can leech away TNA's audience, but the reverse doesn't seem to be true.
  • On Monday night, the TNA best-of special did a 1.2 rating. Unbelievably, some actually considered this to be a disappointment, despite the fact that TNA has only ever done around a 0.8 when booted out of its normal timeslot. Methinks some people just attributed magical powers to Monday Night and assumed anybody who would normally watch wrestling would just gravitate towards TNA. [Then again, mealsothinks a lot of people are pretty fricking stupid, so I guess it all fits together....]
    Bottom line: Monday night was TNA's most-watched show in the company's history, it scored 50% better than any other "out of timeslot" show it's ever produced, and it almost doubled Spike TV's usual ratings in that timeslot. The people who matter (and then those of us who actually stopped to, you know, THINK about the issue) are all exceptionally pleased with the number.
    Because it was "just a clip show" (and an obnoxiously produced one, at that; the pointless shoehorned-in "cinematic effects" were dumb, and the commentary was all new and over-dubbed to present an almost perfectly nonsensical vibe of "We have clearly over-dubbed this commentary in the present day, but we are still pretending we don't know what's going to happen next in this match that happened 8 months ago"; BRILLIANT~!), it stands to reason that a 1.2 rating still translates into a goodly number of WWE fans, since TNA's own loyal audience averages around a 1.0 and may not have shown up to watch a bunch of matches they'd already seen. 
  • Synthesizing the last two bullet points into one cogent thesis:
    It would be very awesome if TNA could get a 2-hour weekly timeslot, and it appears they are primed to succeed in such a scenario. But only a damned fool would want to put the 2-hour show on Monday nights.
    TNA, 2 hours, on *Thursday* nights. So it is written, so let it be done.
  • It should also be noted that SpikeTV had a presence at last week's PPV and TV tapings, with the buzz being that TNA's closer than ever to getting the aforementioned full-time two-hour timeslot on the network. Spike also threw TNA a big post-tapings party, by way of trying to address the sinking backstage morale: by all accounts, it seemed to have worked, even if just for one week.
  • Ron Killings, who was in line for a Russo-tastic push as some kind of cross between Tim Meadows' "Ladies Man" and Mike Myers' "Handsome Man" SNL characters (I'm not 100% sure, the vignettes were usually so idiotically produced that I just assumed they were real commercials and FF'ed the few that made it to TNA TV), has been sidelined following knee surgery.
    The injury originally took place at an indie show in North Dakota (I think) back around the New Year, and was aggravated in later weeks to the point where he needed the surgery.
    As you continue to hear/read about TNA trying to keep its core talent from working extensive indie dates, well: here's your reason why. Sometimes it's less dramatic (as in the case of Samoa Joe's incremental wear-and-tear), but in Killings' case, it's a deal where a TNA plan has been short-circuited because of something that didn't even happen on their time.
  • Before I completely forget, on the issue of ratings:
    Tuesday night saw ECW pull a 1.5 rating. Up a hardly-mentionable 0.1 from the week before.
    And WSX on MTV? It's like I'm Kreskin or something, cuz the show dipped again, to a 0.5.
    Furthermore, WSX is looking at at least a one-week hiatus as a management shake-up at MTV has the network re-evaluating its line-up. Depending on who you talk to, MTV could be evaluating the alarming ratings trend (which has seen WSX's audience halved since its debut), or the content of the show (which is said to continue to focus on fire and exploding things, and has some of the incoming MTV officials concerned with copycat cases and stuff like that).
    I don't know as that either rationalization holds much water with me. I mean, for one, even doing ratings around 0.3 or 0.4, WSX would compare favorably to a lot of other shows in MTV's line-up (especially if used later at night). And for two, MTV has had programs featuring people doing things significantly stupider than throwing fireballs, so I see no way the network could suddenly be getting squeamish.
    All I do know is that, regardless of the logic or common sense behind the move, WSX is not on MTV's schedule for next week, and its future beyond that is in some doubt (though there are a full 10 episodes produced and ready to air).
  • WWE does have No Way Out on PPV this Sunday... and in keeping with the new Mandate From Vince, they've got pretty much no problem presenting it as a "One Match Show." Which is so asinine I can't hardly begin to fathom it, but hey, Vince thinks the way to bolster PPV buyrates is to adopt a more "UFC-like" approach to promoting shows.
    That means one match people care about, and then a bunch of other crap.
    Nevermind the fact that UFC is real, and even the "other crap" has some uncertainty and drama to it. 
    Nevermind the fact that WWE is fake, and has writers and producers who are ostensibly creative folks charged with the job of inventing uncertainty and drama, and that WWE should be asking them to manufacture MORE of it, not LESS of it. [Especially if people are always going to continually bitch and moan about how the WWE Creative Team works 80 hour weeks doing a 10 hour per week job.]
    Nevermind that even as UFC PPV buyrates are kicking WWE's ass, UFC (and other MMA programming) on cable TV garners ratings that make ECW look like "American Idol," because the ONLY time in a given month that MMA fans really show up in numbers, it's for that one PPV. Which means that, unless I'm misreading things, Vince is saying "To hell with TV ratings and house show attendance, I'm currently jealous of UFC's buyrates, so let's see if we can steal their model!"... which is so very, very dumb.
    Nevermind that the new philosophy hasn't had any positive impact on WWE buyrates over the past four months. [In fact, the opposite is true, with December to Dismember -- a classic "One Match Only" PPV -- doing the fewest buys of any WWE PPV in nearly a decade. Or however long its been since the days of the two hour "In Your House" events.]
    So No Way Out features a big, fancy, cross-brand main event tag team match. Shawn Michaels and John Cena from RAW take on Batista and the Undertaker from SmackDown!.... it's four of WWE's top stars in an intriguing match that also serves as a prelude to WrestleMania (where it'll be Michaels vs. Cena, and Batista vs. Taker).
    But as to an undercard? Well, apparently, WWE doesn't need no steenking undercard, because they already pulled the one potentially appealing contest (a four way tag team ladder match), on the grounds that Vince doesn't want the fans getting used to the idea of the Hardys being a tag team.
    In its place, there's now a tag title match that we've already seen twice (for free) on SD!, and which wasn't particularly thrilling either time: London/Kendrick vs. Deuce/Domino. Nee haw. For some reason, Ken Kennedy vs. ECW's Bobby Lashley is on the show. Kane vs. Booker is ostensibly an extension of their hostilities at the Royal Rumble, but they've done little-to-nothing to build on things since then. I cannot imagine who wants to see a full-length Boogeyman vs. Finlay match, and yet, there it is on the PPV line-up. At least they're gonna add a Cruiserweight Gauntlet Match, which MIGHT spice things up.
    Then again, with all the attention given to Gregory Helms' 13-month-long CW Title Reign, maybe the Diva Talent Contest will still end up being more entertaining? Who the hell knows?
    Regardless: with rare exceptions like WrestleMania, supposedly you can keep looking for WWE to continue the "one trick pony" PPV line-ups. Not out of incompetence, but actually because they are doing it on purpose. Baffling.
  • Credit where it's due: John Cena had his "make-good" appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson last night (after being pulled from the show 2 weeks ago for scheduling reasons), and it's the first time I've seen Homey come off really well in this situation (he was exceptionally phony and obnoxious both times I saw him on Kimmel, and completely out-of-his league during one showing on Conan).
    As expected, he mostly was there to plug the DVD release of "The Marine," but also as I expected, Craig couldn't have Cena on without talking at some length about the decimation of K-Fed. Right towards the end, Cena did sneak in a mention that things are gearing up for WrestleMania (including the Trump/Vince angle), but unless I missed something, there was absolutely no mention of Sunday's No Way Out. I'm not saying it would have helped matters all that much, but it still seems sort of an odd omission....
    Regardless: really good showing for Cena last night.... laid-back and likable for the first time in front of that kind of audience.
  • On a semi-similar note: Yeah, everybody, I saw the Chris F. Masters interview on IGN (sorry, no link handy, but I'm sure you can find it if you want)...  plus 10 to CFM for apparently knowing the difference between "actually good" and "Lex Luger." But until he actually demonstrates the ability to DISPLAY the "good" instead of "the Luger," I don't see why it's worth getting too worked up about his well-meaning, but clearly-empty verbiage.
    Everything I've ever seen out of the guy, his claims to really wanting to be a good worker are pretty much the exact same thing as me still -- in a deep, dark secret place -- wanting to be a guitar player in a kick-ass rock band. Except that: I comprehend that I don't have that last bit of "it," and so I took my demotion down to bassist in relative good spirits, and then became the Best Basist I Could Be. CFM: you could save us all a lot of time if maybe you took your demotion down to "Muscle Guy" with the same good cheer, and just tried to focus on being the best Goon/Bodyguard/Dumb Muscle you can be. It's a sad truth that everybody's good at some things, and everybody's bad at a lot of other things, and that sometimes, the ones you most want to be good at are just never gonna be your cup o' tea.
    I mean this as the most constructive of all possible criticism. For I believe it is the same sort of speech somebody should have given to Macho Man Savage before he was permitted to release a rap album.
  • I think that's about all I got time for this week. Judging by the looks of my in-box, I will have to reprise the issue of Carlito/secret-messages-from-management/passion/etc. again, since either I'm not explaining myself clearly, or some of you fall right in line with WWE's retardo-culture of "fabricated appearances ahead of natural ability".... maybe it also ties in to some of my more-involved thoughts about the just-mentioned CFM interview. "No-talent boob who is trying his hardest" vs. "Slacker Prodigy"; yeah, there might be something there, and I sure as hell know which of two I side with.
    I'll keep rolling it around in my brain, and if I can find the right hook, I might give it the Full Length Editorial Treatment so that at least we both know precisely what it is that I'm trying to say, if we're going to be debating the matter.
    Other than that, No Way Out results and any other pertinent news will be coming at you on Monday. See you then, kids....

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
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PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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RAW RECAP: Say My Name
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PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
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PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
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RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
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RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
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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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