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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
NEWSFLASH: The War is Over... Again
May 4, 2010

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

The first Monday Night War lasted about 290 weeks, with 253 head-to-head battles (and about 40 unopposed weeks peppered in). Let there be no doubt: the WWF won that war in rather lop-sided fashion... but they FAR from pitched a shut-out.
 
RAW's record in that first War was 144-106-3, although to achieve that victory, they had had to win the final 114 weeks IN A ROW. Previous to that massive comeback, two periods of competitiveness/trading wins and one lengthy Nitro winning streak (about 80 weeks) had the WWF in a 30-106 hole, some 75-games-below-.500, if you will.
 

If you want to relive that entire first War and its genuine intrigue, swerves, and turns, you can do so by checking out my handy-dandy old Monday Night War Feature (last updated and fact-checked in 2003). It's 7- or 8-parts long, and pretty much does the intarwebz' best job of telling the tale of the first Monday Night War.
 
And you might as well just go ahead and drop the "first" from that description... because as of today, the "second" Monday Night "war" is over after just 9 weeks. That's no "war," that's a scuffle, a skirmish, or -- perhaps -- a kerfuffle. What happened back in 1995 and through 2001 now stands as wrestling's still-singular, one-and-only Monday Night War.
 
TNA's ill-fated attempt to do battle with WWE had its plug pulled over the weekend, when SpikeTV made the call -- after last week's abysmal 0.5 rating -- to return TNA to Thursdays, where first-run Impacts will be joined by an addition one-hour crap-ass documentary-style preview show. All this goes into effect next week, a change made possible by TNA keeping an Impact replay in the Thursday night slot, thus reducing headaches with advertisers upset or confused by the sudden changes.
 
With WWE's refusal to embrace its own true nature as a Wrestling Show -- and ass-hatted desire to be a mainstream General Interest Show -- the effect on RAW's ratings should be minimal. Vince always loves saying he's not competing against other RASSLIN' companies, he's competing against ENTERTAINMENT companies, like Disney.
 
Well, Vinny, you dipshit: congratulations. Cuz on Mondays, Disney is bringing the Dancing With The Stars, which is objectively crappy TV. And you're competing against it with something that America has decided is even CRAPPIER TV. You are also crappier than unwatchable CBS laugh-track sitcoms that should have died a horrible death when "Friends" did. Also: you are crappier than mind-numbingly lame documentaries about pawn shops on the increasingly-inaccurately-named "History" Channel (now featuring 75% More Ancient Aliens~!).
 
In short: you've stopped being the best-built rasslin' show, and started being the 7th-best entertainment show, AND THAT'S JUST ON MONDAYS. I don't even know where you rate on a weekly basis, anymore. Remember when RAW used to dominate the weekly cable competition, and actually scored comparably to some network shows? I don't: it was for-f'n-ever ago. You know, maybe 2001 or so. When ratings of 5.0 were to be expected. As opposed to today, when ratings of 3.0 are tolerated.
 
Anyway, that little rant is meant to showcase just how little this "war" wound up meaning to the wrestling industry or to wrestling fans. Impact coming to Mondays did nothing of note; and now Impact going back to Thursdays will ALSO do nothing of note.
 
But hey, in the spirit of that good ol' Monday War Feature, let's sum it all up with some quick stats and a brief narrative, OK?

Monday Night Kerfuffle: The Neverbeginning Story
March 8, 2010 - May 4, 2010 (Part One of One)

MONDAY NIGHT KERFUFFLE SNAPSHOT 
Head to Head Battles:

RAW Wins: 9
Impact Wins:
Draws:
RAW Average Rating: 3.2
Impact Average Rating: 0.8
Unopposed Nights: 0
 
Highest Head to Head Rating: 3.7 for RAW
(on March 15, 2010) 
Largest Margin of Victory: 3.1 for RAW
(on March 29, 2010) 
Longest Winning Streak: 9 weeks for RAW
(March 8, 2010 - May 4, 2010)

Eric Bischoff was only granted a one-night test-run for TNA Impact switching to Mondays to face RAW head-to-head, after Bischoff and Hogan took control of the company in late 2009. That one night test run came on January 4, 2010, and saw Impact draw its largest audience ever: a 1.5 rating (all while keeping RAW at or slightly below its usual averages, DESPITE the "stunt-casting" of Bret Hart that same night).
 
TNA and SpikeTV were emboldened by this result, and assumed that it made perfect sense to move Impact to Mondays permanently, if they could draw higher ratings than they were on Thursday while ALSO re-igniting the perception of a Monday Night Wrestling War, and thereby attracting more curious eyeballs from WWE's RAW.
 
The move to Mondays went into effect on March 8, 2010, and saw Impact draw a 1.0 rating -- down 40% from their original Monday rating, and actually BELOW what TNA had been drawing on Thursdays since the Hogan/Bischoff take-over.
 
In 8 subsequent weeks, TNA never drew an audience that large again. No audience for Impact was ever as large as the one-off January show, and of the contiguous 9 weeks of the "war," no Impact was more viewed than the first one that went head-to-head with RAW.
 
Not exactly a vote of confidence from fans, who seemed to grow less interested over time, and took SPECIAL exception to TNA's pre-taped weeks... in 4 taped weeks, Impact averaged a 0.65 rating (as opposed to an almost-respectable 0.9 in 5 live weeks).
 
After a 0.5 rating on April 26, TNA and Spike basically had two choices: invest in running live EVERY week and HOPE that ratings stayed closer to 1.0 (0.9 is roughly the cut-off for what Spike wants out of its prime time line-up), or just cut bait and return Impact to Thursdays (where they had averaged 1.3 in January and February, and even the replays of Monday shows were drawing around 0.7 ratings).
 
They opted for the return to Thursdays.
 
It's hard to say if TNA has really won or lost anything over these past 2 months... on one hand: they made a bold statement to wrestling fans that they were gonna take the fight to Vince McMahon. And now: they're running away scared and badly-beaten. Which looks awful to the very core wrestling fans who pay attention to such things.
 
But in reality: they never really took the fight to Vince. Or at least: Vince doesn't think so (he thinks he's fighting ABC and FOX for Monday viewers). So did they really lose to WWE? Or did they lose to a crowded Monday night TV hellscape? Or does that story even matter, since the perception is still out there, now, that TNA is second rate rasslin' (even if WWE refuses to acknowledge itself as first rate rasslin'... well, unless such acknowledgement suits them, which gee whiz, I wonder if it might this week or elsewhere in the near future?).
 
My knee-jerk reaction is that the perception trumps reality in this situation. TNA wanted to create a War, because said War would suit them: the illusion of a War created the illusion of TNA being on par with WWE. Then they promptly got the illusion of their asses handed to them by WWE. Make your bed, lie in it, kids.
 
TNA and Spike could probably have thought this out better, too... first, they massively over-estimated the meaning of the January rating. Sure, they held WWE's rating steady despite Bret hart AND did their biggest rating ever... but they didn't account for their OWN Stunt Booking and the simple "curiosity factor." Just because fans were interested enough to check in once doesn't mean they're guaranteed to return...
 
Which leads into me questioning the wisdom of TNA going heads-up with WWE at the VERY HEIGHT OF WRESTLEMANIA SEASON. In so far as WWE has a month or two of "must-see TV," it's usually the January-to-March stretch building up to the biggest show of the year. And NOW is when you go head-to-head. D'oh. Or: dopes.
 
Which further leads to me questioning if NOW was the time to pull the plug... cuz let's face it, you set Impact up to fail, but if they could just get past "Mania Season" and the next 2 weeks of May Sweeps on the networks, then you might get a different picture of TNA's competitiveness. Maybe you wouldn't.... I grant that. But maybe you would. So would 4 more weeks really have killed you? I don't think so...
 
In the end, I also don't think it matters much: say TNA did get traction on Mondays as the Summer TV Doldrums hit. What were they gonna do? Score 1.4 ratings? And that would (ahem) impact our basic perception of the WWE/TNA battle how? TNA would still be doing less than half of WWE's audience, and while the increase in ratings would have meaning to Spike and the financial bottom line, it would do NOTHING to really influence us fans or our belief in the existence of a REAL Monday Night War.
 
You see: much like TNA, I was just using this whole thing as an excuse to PRETEND there was a War, by doing weekly write-ups and all, and having all you sheep clicky clicky my linky linkies. But trust me: I didn't believe a word of it.
 
This wasn't a War, it was a marketing ploy. For me, it worked out OK while it lasted. For TNA, not so much. And no matter what: now, it's over.
 
Rest in peace, WAR 2.0...


  
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E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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