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RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins? 
Week Ending June 6, 2003

Featuring Many Current and Past OO Columnists
Ratings Compiled by Jeb Lund


OOficial Brand of the Week:

What the hell is this?

For those of you unfamiliar with the old Wrestleline, there used to be columnist rankings of the performances of both RAW and Nitro. In the Monday Night Wars, correspondents chimed in to say who was winning.

We, the good people of OnlineOnslaught, felt like returning to that concept. For one thing, it's very rare to get a heap of "world-famous wrestling columnists" to talk about the same thing. Rick Scaia jabbers about some band he's in. Kyle Maxwell goes ragingly after IWC writers. The Cubs Fan talks about Heat. Jeb Lund seems to think postmodernism is interesting to people other than him. Matt Hocking lives in a place parallel to reality... maybe a basement. And Erin Anderson is a girl. Isn't that weird? To get them to talk about the same thing (other than, "Why am I not getting paid?") is a challenge.

That's why this is here. All the commentators on the same topic. Hopefully hearing many different perspectives on the same two shows will be fun. Also, those thoughts will be all in one place. And now maybe we can decide who's winning the brand war: RAW or Smackdown!

Rather than go with a tried-and-true 1-10 scale, we thought we'd mix things up a bit. Each show is evaluated on a scale of 0.0-5.0. Instead of just random numbers, those numbers reflect what sort of Nielsen rating we think the show deserves. Granted, we're operating on the assumption that 5.0 is about the best the WWE can hope for right now. But if someone goes for a 5.0, then that means it's time to celebrate at Titan. If someone picks 2.2, it's time to celebrate if you're putting on a Nitro in April 2000.

RAW (6/2/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (6/5/03)

Erin Anderson
RAW: 3.1
Raw was a little light on the wrestling, but still a fun show. Christian and the Rock got some quality mic time in; the ladies had a good match with a great crowd reaction; Jericho and Goldberg are moving along nicely, and Shawn Michaels cut a solid promo on Ric Flair. Seeing Flair bow down to Triple H made me want to vomit, however, and the only selling point of the HIAC match is the possible inclusion of Mick Foley. Nobody may care about Test, but at least his storyline with Stacy and Steiner is reasonable and realistic, which is more than can be said for a lot of wrestling angles these days. The IWC seems divided on the Austin/Kane bit, but I liked it. Kane still hasn't quite recovered from Katie Vick, and Austin's antics could be the proverbial fire under Kane's ass getting him back to the ass-kicking Big Red Machine who had main-event potential. It seemed like Austin was speaking for all of the smarks when he asked what the hell had happened to the old Kane. Maybe a heel turn is in his future? It could be the rejuvenation that his character needs.

Smackdown!: 3.5
I give Smackdown the edge this week for two main reasons, the first being the return of Kurt Angle. Many are doubting Kurt's ability to be an effective face, but he did just that last night. The goofiness of his character was diminished, but he retained his humor and even showed a hint of badass-ness in the latter part of his promo with Big Show. Kurt kept the character that we all know and love intact, all while playing the babyface. Nice work there. Smackdown may be a little light on the heel side, but turning Lesnar, Benoit, or the Undertaker could help to even things out a bit. The second main reason: cruiserweights in the main event! Rey and Matt got the recognition that they deserved, and I hope that WWE can continue the momentum. Their match was easily the best of the night... and when was the last time you saw solid psychology in a cruiserweight match? Rey sold his groin injury until the end, never "miraculously" recovering as the cruiserweights have a tendency to do. It looks like the seeds have been planted for a Benoit/Rhyno feud, something I'd love to see. Neither of them may be experts on the mic, but these two could have some outstanding matches together in a long, drawn-out rivalry. I also liked the fact that the Mr. America/Vince feuding was kept to a minimum, and not made the focus of the show. It seems like the writers have finally gotten it right.

Erin's year-to-date averages:  RAW (3.1), SD! (3.5).

The Cubs Fan
RAW: 3.2
SmackDown!: 3.7
RAW was better than it has been, but SmackDown's main event had a finish. And better wrestling before it.

The Cubs Fan's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.2), SD! (3.7).

RAW: n/a
: 4.2
Remember me? It's funny that in the first week of this OO feature, WWE would put forward what was probably the best Smackdown! in several months. Who can argue with a cruiserweight title match in the main event slot? WWE takes a sort of pride in claiming to ignore Internet criticisms, but it was obvious that the company was clearly influenced by the so-called "smart fans" in booking last night's show. WWE arguably did more to establish the importance of the cruiserweight title in one night than it has since the company first launched the division six years ago. I was a little disappointed with Angle's return, only because the "Cold Play" promo videos seemed to imply that WWE was finally going to give angle the sort of no-nonsense, serious character that he needs to get over big as a babyface, and instead Angle reverted back to the comedy, which doesn't work nearly as well if he's not a heel. Instead of having Angle embrace the "You Suck!" chants, WWE should be looking to do away with them. It's as simple as changing his entrance music. I have to admit to getting a kick out of the Mr-America-McMahon-Piper-Gowen angle. The main reason I'm not terribly offended by it is that ultimately it's helping to get over Gowen, who can become WWE's MVP in the next several months once the mainstream media gets wind of him. You can't argue that having him rub elbow with wrestling's biggest star of all-time and WWE's owner will do wonders in making Gowen a star. With the exception of the pointless mixed tag match, the rest of the undercard ranged from fine to quite strong. WWE is doing a good job of keeping Smackdown! interesting, even while not building toward a PPV anytime soon.

Fonzo's year-to-date averages: RAW (n/a), SD! (4.2).

Matt Hocking
RAW: 4.0
JR:  Well, Jerry, we're here to rate RAW.
JL:  And we're joined by a special guest! Kane!
KN:  Uh... yeah.
JR:  So how would you rate RAW, Kane?
KN:  Needed more me.
JL:  Yeah, it was nice to see you doing something else, though.
JR:  And how about that women's match with all the women?
JL:  Puppies!
KN:  Shut up, Jerry.
JR:  So, what did we all think of RAW?
KN:  Sucked. Needed a whole lot more me. 14.9
JR:  Uh... Kane, I don't think you understand the ratings system....
JL:  I concur, Kane. 14.9. What did you think, J.R.?
JR:  God help us. 4.1, a SLOBBERKNOCKER, on the Ol' J.R. Scale.
JL:  What are we doing this for, again?
HHH:  My personal enjoyment.
KN:  Grrr....

Smackdown!: 4.4
MC:  Well, we can't let RAW get one up on us, can we, Tazz?!
TZ:  Why the hell not?
MC:  Here's everybody's favorite Smackdown superstar, Chris Benoit!!
CB:  What's this aboot?
TZ:  I'm not sure.
MC:  We're rating Smackdown! I'll start! On a scale of 1 to 5, I'll say 5!!!!
CB:  I hate our show. But there was some good wrestling between Rey and Matt, Kurt Angle and so little Vince and...
TZ:  Ain't nobody cares what you think, Benoit. I'll just give it a 4.5, and that will be the end of it.
MC:  What about my vote?
TZ:  Shut up, Cole.
MC:  Yes, Master.
CB:  This show sucks. *Cries*
TZ:  Join us next week for Joey Numbers!

Matt's year-to-date averages: RAW (4.2), SD! (4.4).

Kyle Maxwell
RAW: 3.0. 
Note that I consider "2.5" to be average. Raw was a good show, hurt slightly by the lack of actual wrestling.

Smackdown!: 5.0. 
Great show from top to bottom. If all Smackdowns were like this
one, we'd be in Wrestling Nirvana. From the amazing tribute to Classy
Freddy, to the return of My Olympic Hero, I gotta say that this was one of the best two hours of television all year.

Kyle's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.0), SD! (5.0).

Jeb Tennyson Lund
RAW: 2.8
I'm operating on 2.5 as average and "not damaging" from a cable standpoint. This show had a lot of problems. I think Erin Anderson clocked it at 22 minutes of wrestling. Assuming that, without commercials, they have a solid 100 minutes to work with, this was a poor showing. As much as I love Rock and Jericho, their mic work can't dig a nearly wrestling-free show out of the gutter. Couple notes: Goldberg looked awkward, but still pretty good. Glad to see Christian's chutzpah, but it was drowned out by the surrounding 20-minute promo parade. Really, Rock-Jericho-Christian-Booker went on too long. Poor Booker should never have been dragged out to suck up to the Rock. Austin tweaking Kane has promise, but only if it doesn't result in Kane becoming an unstoppable monster again the sort of unstoppable monster who gets creamed in a main event by, well, anyone. The main event was heavy on entrance and low on delivery. Probably the best spot was Randy Orton jumping up to attack Hurricane, only to be caught mid-air by Hurricane's cross-body. Solid spot. When Orton is part of one of the best spots out of the roster that was in or near the ring you aren't putting out much of note. No ill-wishes to Randy, but he was the poorest performer out there, and he looked better than anyone other than Hurricane.

Smackdown!: 3.9
Really good show with really strong exceptions. The good: Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio. The bad: treading water. Seeing Angle rolling around in the ring and basking in "you suck" chants was awesome. Even his reconciliation with Brock Lesnar was pretty cool (following a cool repartee with Show). I would have been happier if he'd bonded in the hospital with Benoit, since they'd both had neck surgery and wrestled side by side. But what am I gonna do? Mysterio v. Hardy was a great match. I liked Rey selling his groin injury: there is never enough selling in cruiserweight matches. His victory was feel-good and wonderful to see. I still wish that the end of the match had as much spice as the middle: the pin seemed to come not out of nowhere but still not out of the same inspiration as the rest of the match. I was disappointed with most of the other matches and developments. It seems as if Smackdown is treading water. Taker's feud seems identical to what it was weeks ago. Rikishi and Torrie were toss-outs. Even the shoot comments about Sable were pretty dull. Aside from Angle and Mysterio, nothing happened on this show. McMahon and Zach Gowen are another 20 Minutes of Talking and Setting Up Tables and Red-Velvet Carpeting in the making. Who cares? Finally, the tribute to Blassie was gorgeous. I never saw the man wrestle OR manage in my life. But that sequence put a large and immovable lump in my throat. Say what you will about feuds and concepts, when the WWE production team goes to work, they can move you powerfully. I am now a Freddie Blassie fan, just because of that montage. He seemed like an amazing man, and I owe WWE for showing me that.

Jeb's year-to-date averages:  RAW (2.8), SD! (3.9).

The best thing on RAW was the Austin/Kane segment, mostly because an inspired Austin is the most amazing thing you can watch on WWE TV. No idea where it will go of course, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Hurricane and RVD were both symbolically buried last night, while The Rock ate up time doing pretty much nothing, and Triple H advanced the most punishingly boring feud on earth by growling some more. Shawn/Flair is chugging along just fine, as an emotional promo once again steals the show. The botched conclusion to the main event is completely inexcusable. I watched this show with a very casual wrestling fan. They wanted me to pop in Royal Rumble 2003 about halfway through.

Smackdown!: 2.5
On paper, this looked like a pretty significant show. A couple of months from now, and it'll be completely forgotten. Angle's return went well, but when he stood in the ring with Brock and the Big Show, it dawned on me we've been watching the same guys feud with one another for the last 8 months or so! Needless to say, I'm not exactly psyched for Lesnar/Show III. I liked the respect given to the Cruiserweight title as the main event, but it'd be foolish to think it's a dawning of a new era, full of matches that run longer than 5 minutes. Golden Rule: Vince doesn't care about juniors. The Hogan/McMahon stuff is excruciating, and it seems like the whole payoff is going to be a big Asai Moonsault from Tenacious Z. Yay.

Sayeitan's year-to-date averages: RAW (1.5), SD! (2.5).

Rick Scaia
RAW: 3.9
The strongest first hour-thirty of the year was undone by a poorly paced, awkwardly worked final half hour.  Fun show, no mistakes, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the main event was a disappointment given the participants.

Smackdown!: 4.2
On the strength of the Angle/Lesnar tease, the fantabulous main event, and the the tremendous Los Tajiros/Bashams tag match, this is the best show of the week. But make no mistake: the Fed went WAY too fast with Rey/Matt and they are bungling the Zach Gowen angle. SD! was the best this week, but by a slim margin.

Rick's year-to-date averages:  RAW (3.9), SD! (4.2).


RAW average: 3.1 
Actual Nielsen Rating: 3.3 (converted to broadcast rating)
RAW UNDERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

Smackdown! average: 3.9
Actual Nielsen Rating:  3.1
SD! OVERdelivers versus final rating this week.


Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.1
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.3
RAW is UNDERperforming, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.9
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.1
SD! OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 0
Rounds Won by SD!: 1
Current Streak: 1 by SmackDown! (Since 6/6/03)
Longest Streak: 1 by SmackDown (6/6/03 - 6/6/03)

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