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War 2.0: Tale of the Tapening, 04/05/10
April 5, 2010

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


It's WAR Rd. 5 tonight... but it's also Opening Day. Gotta admit, I think I'm more fired up for baseball than I am for rasslin' today. Because for the first time in recent memory, I'm not already pre-expecting to switch the entirety of my allegiences over to the Yankees by August.
Nope. This season is starting with the Reds having a GENUINE chance to field a winning team. And playing over .500 may be all it takes to win a division as crappy as the NL Central! Amazing young talent (and incredibly organizational depth) plus a handful of core veterans could make my Reds a sleeper team. 


And admit it: if someone had told you 2 months ago that one of the Reds young hurlers was gonna start the year in the rotation after spending no time in the minors, you'd have just assumed it was hotshot Cuban Defector Aroldis Chapman. But you'd have been wrong... meet Mike Leake. From ASU and the College World Series last year to the Reds' fifth starter this year. In between: ZERO innings pitched of professional baseball. That hasn't happened in 20 years.
But that's also not why you're here. Have a look back at last week's Monday Night War TV ratings and ahead to tonight's latest installments of both RAW and Impact...

WWE RAW Rating: 3.7 (hours of 3.5 and 3.8, 4.0 overrun)
Impact Rating: 0.6 (hours of 0.5 and 0.6, 0.6 overrun)
Analysis: Well, RAW bounced back from the week before, gaining over a half-point, though it should be noted that the two highest rated segments for the night were promos by Bret Hart (3.8) and Shawn Michaels (4.0), which are not exactly things that WWE can serve up to us each and every week... take away Hitman and HBK, eliminate the post-WrestleMania buzz, and what's really left? The next few weeks will tell us (though maybe not tonight, as the NCAA Basketball Finals will likely skew ratings).
Impact, on the other hand, dropped precipitously from it's already low ratings of 3/22. Down another third-of-a-point this week, TNA has lost roughly half its weekly audience from its Jan/Feb averages on Thursday (and from its first night on Mondays, when they retained that same audience). This is troubling. Ratings around 0.6 are what got MTV's cute little attempted wrestling show (WSX, was it?) removed from prime time and shifted into a rotating late night slot on MTV2, and SpikeTV is more of a general interest network than MTV, and has even higher standards. I believe that for prime time shows, Spike internally sets the "acceptable ratings floor" around 0.8 or 0.9. It goes without saying that murmurs have started, as blaming low ratings on Impact being a pre-taped show are falling on deaf ears (every Thursday show was taped, and they still usually exceeded 1.0), leaving folks to speculate the that audience for wrestling on Mondays is finite, and TNA just isn't drawing any viewers away from WWE. Getting TNA out of the way of the RAW ratings juggernaut may be the best option, though I doubt a major move would come before Impact gets at least a FEW chances to compete with WWE when it's NOT the stretch run to WrestleMania.
Combined viewership for both shows continues to hover closer to 4.0 than 5.0 (which is where we were on the first night of the New War), also a troubling trend that's probably not exactly gonna improve in the near term as other networks start the stretch run to the end of the TV season and May Sweeps.
TNA IMPACT (SpikeTV, 8pm)
What's Been Promised: Yes, EIGHT PM EASTERN. An hour early. TNA's official party line is that this is to avoid direct competition with the hoops game. The widely-held belief is that this is BS, and Spike will pay very close attention to ratings tonight to see if getting out of the way of RAW helps any. If it does, it might take only a mild scheduling tweak to improve TNA's performance, rather than sending Impact back to Thursdays.
Also, the main event will pit Kurt Angle against Ken "Kennedy" Anderson in a Ladder Match. Hanging above the ring to be retrieved will be the key to the steel cage that Angle/Anderson will compete inside of at the Lockdown PPV, ostensibly giving that man the advantage in said cage match. Yeah: it's just another lame-ass non-sensical RussoVention, but it also doesn't matter. It's a ladder match between two guys who oughta deliver the goods, so just roll with it.
Just announced is a tag match between the Motor City Machine Guns and the Dudleys to determine new #1 contenders to the TNA Tag Titles. That one might almost be MORE enticing to me than the ladder match.
Other stuff: Pope Dinero will go one-on-one with Desmond Wolfe, another re-do of the 8-woman tag match, and X Champ Doug Williams will hold some sort of Invitational to determine his next #1 Contender.
What Other Stuff to Look For: No mention of Hogan/Flair and the Lethal Lockdown team match in the "official" part of the preview, but you can count on that taking up substantial time tonight (Hogan's team has Abyss and Jarrett already; Flair has Sting)... the newly creepy Orlando Jordan may or may not build on last week's bizarreness (it was said to have not gone over so well backstage, with Flair in particular not taking kindly to OJ's flamboyant male partner's antics)... one thing NOT to look for: the Nasty Boyz. They've been mercifully fired... another thing NOT to look for: Chris Daniels. He's been foolishly released... and yet, Bubba the Sperm Receptacle remains...
The Verdict: Those top two matches alone sure as hell seem like great reasons to give TNA a look tonight, but then again, I'd have thought RVD/Jeff Hardy in a cage last week was fool-proof, too (and I'd have been wrong)... so who knows? If it's me, the tag match exists to give the Guns a breakout win, and I put that on late in the first unopposed hour to show wrestling fans one of the few truly unique and distincitve things about the TNA product that might wow casual wrestling fans flipping past... if the Guns and Duds do what they're capable of, those fans'll stick, and you can try to sell them on Angle/Kennedy happening later, which should certain appeal to any fan with a pulse who knows what Angle and a ladder have done before in the past. 
WWE Monday Night RAW (USA, 9pm)
What's Been Promised: Other than the fact that NXT Rookie David Otunga is the Guest Host, NOTHING has been announced as of this 3pm writing. And considering how much appeal Otunga has among the fanbase, he might as well count for NOTHING his own self. He is the guy with the most "it factor" on NXT, but all the verbal skills in the world don't count for jack if fans don't care about who's wielding them. I'd say it could be ugly, but the truth is, RAW hasn't been counting on Guest GMs to carry the show, so minimal Otunga ain't gonna tank tonight's program...
What Other Stuff's Expected: As alluded to above, much of last week's show was dedicated to send-offs to Shawn and Bret (though it remains to be seen how involved Bret will be in the Hart Dynasty/ShowMiz feud), which can't be built upon or replicated again this week... this'll have to be all about your rank-and-file stepping up and moving forward to the Extreme Rules PPV. Based on last week, the two big RAW matches will probably be Cena/Batista and HHH/Sheamus in stipulation matches (the HHH/Sheamus match could very easily be a lead-pipe match, given last week's events).... there is also a school of thought that Orton could be in the Cena/Batista mix to create a 3-way title match (this would mirror a likely 3-way SD title match at the PPV), which some view as a chance to turn Cena heel by having him cross Orton (or by having Orton cross Cena, but still having the jerk fans on his side, a la Austin in 1997)... Jack Swagger -- the new SD World Champ -- is still technically a member of the RAW Roster, pending some sort of official announcement, and an appearance by him to gloat tonight would provide an excuse for Jericho and/or Edge to appear, also. And you all know full well I would NEVER have a problem with that (it'd also be a dandy way to keep Jericho fresh in the minds of RAW fans, since there's talk of him being shifted back to Monday's in the impending Draft Lottery).
The Verdict: Gotta be honest... Otunga does nothing for me. Cena/Batista oughta be OK enough considering how rock solid their characters/promos have been (and how good the WM match was), but the mere looming threat of Orton wedging into things fills me with a mix of dread and apathy. If that happens, I actually wind up caring more about HHH/Sheamus. All that adds up to tonight seeming like a rather uncompelling show, in theory, where only a left-field hope for Swagger/Jericho/Edge spicing things up has me even REMOTELY perked up. Not good. Doubly not-good since this is a night when TNA IS offering up some intriguing alternatives, when 24 is two hours long, and when I care more than a little bit about the NCAA Title game. Hey, everybody knows I'm a Dayton Flyer by choice, but I was a Hoosier by birth, born mere blocks from the site of tonight's game and less than 4 miles from Butler's campus. It's substantially more than the appeal of David vs. Goliath to me, kids!

Come on back to OO on Tuesday, when we'll have full coverage and recaps of both shows, courtesy of Danny and Pyro. Till then: GO BUTLER~! Dayton and Butler as the 2 post-season champs would be DELICIOUS... DIE IN A FIRE, BCS~!

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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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