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OO BATTLE OF THE BRANDS  
RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins? 
Week Ending June 27, 2003

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

 

OOficial Brand of the Week:
SmackDown!
(in a photo finish)

RATING SYSTEM:
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 (6/23/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (6/26/03)
OOFICIAL RATINGS

The Cubs Fan
RAW: 3.2
You know what annoyed me more than any makeup job or the WWE booking themselves into a no-win situation? We're being told this is the biggest match of Kane's life, biggest gamble any wrestler has ever taken, and he doesn't even tease a TOMBSTONE. That makes absolutely no sense; when it was said they were only going break it out for special occasions, you'd think this would be the dictionary definition. I guess special occasions means "whenever we can nearly paralyze A-Train." I mean, maybe they didn't have time when they were practicing the worst possible reverse neckbreaker, but I really would have thought it'd make the match mean a little bit more. It's nice that they're trying to get over Orton, but if they could try to do the same for other people; like what was the point of the Nowinksi/Maven match anyway? And I'm glad I didn't have to recap the inevitable Slaughter match. My big costume mystery of RAW: Hurricane's cape has a breastplate? What'supwiththat? 


Smackdown!: 3.3
Orlando's not ready and Cena's not the guy to make someone look ready. The FBI match was as pointless as they've been since Undertaker's return: I hope Cole pointing out Nunzio is a cruiserweight is a signal to a future direction. Weird with all that finisher-kicking-out-of in the US Title Tournament match. I don't like Matt's chances; gotta figure Cena will be involved, and a final with him against Benoit would have more backstory at this point. Surprised and happy for no tag team title change – I’ll assume that the bookers just did the good thing and that the news that came out of the show was unrelated. Ultimo's match was good but... I hope it was Ultimo being nervous being in MSG, and Shannon was nervous wrestling Ultimo. Main event was fine but don't like that Angle and Brock are being led to set up Mr. America. Zach was his best but this angle is still pretty worthless.  

Cubs Fan's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.2), SD! (3.5).
 

Fonzo
RAW:3.7
I attended the show live with some friends, all of whom bitched as we walked out the building about how we wasted our money. My response to them, "What did you expect? It's RAW." That is not so say that I didn't enjoy the show, obviously from my rating I did... somewhat. But the bottom line is you just can't expect a blow away episode of RAW these days, given the brand's current roster. Who is there to get excited about? The only person that comes to mind is Randy Orton, and he continues to shine, but with the bulk of the roster consisting of ex-stars like Austin, Flair, Michaels and Nash, and stale mid card acts like the Dudleys and Rob Van Dam, the ingredients simply aren't there to put on the great show everyone expects - not until WWE raids NWA-TNA of some of its X-Division talent, or at least transfers a few guys from Smackdown! will this show get consistently good. For what it's worth, I enjoyed the Foley tribute, the "Dudes with Attitudes" reunion, the Goldberg squash and the main event, especially with the Kane unmasking pay-off. All those segments represented about the best RAW can offer right now, which quite honestly, just isn't that good.

Smackdown!: 3.5
How can I bash RAW as the inferior of the two brands, yet consistently rate it higher than Smackdown? The truth is I think RAW deserves credit for doing a lot with a little, while Smackdown! seems to waste segment after segment week in and week out when it can be offering so much more. No Benoit nor Rhyno. Cena is again wasted in a squash match. No interview segments with Angle or Brock, yet Vince McMahon and his daughter once again get an ungodly amount of television time. These two are consistently delivering the worst segments on television every week. I don't mind the angle in theory, but there is absolutely no reason these non-wrestlers should be given so much time. I had thus far supported the idea of using them to help get Gowen over, but after witnessing his surprisingly strong interview skills, I'm wondering if he couldn't get over on his own. I was a little underwhelmed with the Ultimo Dragon debut. In this case I don't fault WWE, as it did everything imaginable to treat it as a big deal - even having Mysterio and Kidman at ringside scouting him out. Dragon just wasn't that great, which I guess is to be expected after having been away for so long and having suffered what was believed to be a career-ending injury. The main event was fine, kind of a throw back to the days of the Mega-Powers and other big babyface tag teams, but again, just too much McMahon - especially considering we had to deal with at RAW, and HBO this week.

Fonzo's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.7), SD! (3.6).

Matt Hocking
RAW: 3.6
J.R.: I don’t know if I’ll ever get that image of Kane out of my head!
JL: Are you STILL talking about that? Let’s talk about puppies!
HHH: Let’s talk about rating RAW, you dumbasses.
J.R.: Ugh… Kane…ugh….
JL: Um… J.R.?
HHH: Jerry, Just bring out the guest.
JL: Here he is! Rob Van Dam!
RVD: Totally. Like, what was Kane doing, dude? I would have SHARED that donut, man. And besides. He looks stupid without that mask on.
JL: He sure does. And that stupid Foley ate up all that time. We could have had a puppies match.
RVD: Hehehehehehe… Jerry… man… I have no clue what you’re saying.
J.R.: What happened to the Big Red Machine! -1.5!
JL: Uh… 2… I guess…. But somebody needs to help J.R., I think.
RVD: 3.6…. (Dude, what are we rating?)
HHH: How many times Triple Naitch has taken your mom on a ride on Space Mountain.

Smackdown!: 3.9
MC: Great Smackdown this week from MSG, Tazz! Your home town!
TZ: I guess, Cole. But… uh… I’m not actually FROM Madison Square Garden.
MC: Whatever, partner! Here’s our guest, Smackdown Superstar Rowdy Roddy Piper!
RRP: Not any more, man. Vince Macmahon is holding me down. He’s got the sickness!
TZ: The what?
RRP: The sickness, Tazz! You’ve got it too. So do you… uh… other guy! You’re all gonna DIE!!
TZ: So… uh… Ultimo Dragon… a couple good, fun matches….
RRP: Dragon came back from an ARM injury, man. He’s got the SICKNESS!
MC: Yeah, Tazz. But what about all that slow brawling and McMahon-o-mania?
RRP: Is ANYBODY listening to me? SICKNESS! Frats, man, frats!
TZ: That’s why I’m giving it a 3.9, Cole. Good, but not off the charts.
MC: I concur. 9.3.
TZ: What?
RRP: Hire me back! I’m so poor! Please? 5.0. 5.0, McMahon! It was HBO! Nobody was watching! Come on! I love you!! I’ll let Rikishi give me a stinkface with no thong!
HHH: Get the hell out of here, Roddy.
RRP: *cries*

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

  
Jeb Tennyson Lund
RAW: 3.6
Ordinarily, I’d say that the excitement of Kane v. Triple H would have had me glued to the TV. But I knew it was coming at the end of the show, and I knew it well enough that I spent most of the show glancing around at the baseball games on other TVs in the bar. (The Devil Rays beat Clemens. Heh-heh-heh.) Aside from the humor of the High-Lite Reel, the Kane/Triple H match and the Foley tribute, this show was pretty worthless. La Resistance sang La Marseillaise. Wow. I’d rather watch Casablanca. Goldberg beat Rodney Mack quickly: that’s the sort of thing he should do. Sgt. Slaughter? Eh. And Nash and Michaels v. Orton Flair was just a disgrace. Nash sickened me. And Michaels got a pointless win. I guess he needed to get his heat back. Because he needs it, what with only having jobbed to Triple H and Flair since he returned a year ago. He needs that heat to – ha, ha, ha – excuse me – ho, ho, ho – really, I’m sorry – hee, hee, hee – put over younger stars. Sssmmggnhhnhhh—bwaa! HA-HA-HA-HA! Two really good segments weren’t going to make this show “amazing” for me. Not when the rest of the show was so forgettable. But the great video for Foley and the excitement of the main event spiked Raw’s rating from me. 

Smackdown!: 3.1
After panning Monday’s show like that, it seems odd that I could find Thursday’s worse. But I can. I’m enterprising like that. I did enjoy Ultimo Dragon’s debut, but I thought it was very anticlimactic. For something so inherently interesting to me, I found myself quickly saying, “okay.” Jamie Noble and Nidia always start out their segments annoying me, but somehow end them by getting me to laugh. And I am yet again quite impressed with Big Show’s usage (and work) in the main event. Kudos. And, of course, how can I not like Eddie and Tajiri? Now the bad stuff. First off, we have the intro clip show. Not a single wrestling moment in it. Just McMahon, McMahon, Steph McMahon and McMahon. Next comes Cena and Jordan. I – apparently unlike the rest of the IWC – have not decided that Cena shits 18 karat gold and has morning breath that smells like water lilies. His rappity-rap elicited a great “whatever!” from me, followed by a match that was like badly “coming down” from whatever. Whatever. Then the New APA came out, featuring Ron Simmons and Sid Vicious. APA v. FBI = B.F.D. Then we have that devastating piledriver from Rikishi – from which Matt Hardy gets up and bounces around moments later. Hey, Buddy, you just showed us why no one takes the cruiserweight division seriously. I mean, we see piledrivers so rarely, and that one was fast, crisp and nearly lethal looking. So of course Matt Hardy made it look worthless. Bang up job there, Verizon 1 or whatever the fuck you are. Finally we have Vince, Steph, Zach and a whole lot of FUN! These mid-show forays into McMahonology drain the show and the viewer of every trace of blood or vitality – like having an industrial vacuum stuck to your testicles. McMahon told us that Gowan could save him, then turned evil again, and we’re pretty much back where we started – with some inane and barely compelling upcoming match to determine Zach’s future. What a swerve, Vince. And guess what, Goofy Clown Face? He has no future. At this point he could leap off the top rope, pimp-slap Vince and Sable, moonsault onto Stephanie McMahon on a table and then begin to make love to her in the middle of the ring – all in one deft fluid motion – and it will not be able to overcome the 6, 8 or 12 weeks of crap regarding him to which we have been subjected. 

Jeb's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.7), SD! (3.4).
 

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth
RAW: 3.6 
Every time Kane had a flashback, I felt impelled to do the Wayne's World wavy-screen sound effect, complete with hand gestures. I was also unimpressed with the mascara job, but it wasn't too bad. Big ups to Mr. Jacobs (or is it Jeff Gaylord? Or Steve DiSalvo... just kidding. A little old-school r.s.p-w there) for going through with it. Extra points for Lance Storm's "written statement" and the reunification of the Thrillseekers. Beautful. They really should show some of the old promos they did. They obviously tightened things up for the MSG show. More Mick and Ric makes me happy, but it also means no Gail Kim, which makes me unhappy. By the way, last week's big ups to the former La Felina were supposed to be separate from the Smackdown! portion of the review. Sorry for the confusion. 

Smackdown!: 3.3 
Itchy remote fingers were flipping to "Scandinavian Spelunking Weekly" on FSW during the soap opera stuff, while I cursed and shouted "Where's Ultimo?!" for three-quarters of the show. It also baffles me that APA is on Smackdown! I marked for Piper, then I felt sad – not for Piper specifically, more for all that's happened in the biz between the first WrestleMania and today. I like Show as monster heel. They never should have booked him any other way, ever. I'm willing to forget everything else, although I realize I'm in the minority there. Good Gawd, I love watching UD.

Immolator's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.3), SD! (3.4).


Kyle Maxwell
RAW: 4.0
They got most of the little things right this time. While Kane wasn't quite as intimidating without his mask, they did manage to make him look like Taker. Plus, his match with HHH was one of HHH's better showings on TV this year. Goldberg was also used in a much better way than usual – you could argue that he killed Rodney Mack's push, but seriously here – Rodney Mack would need a rocket strapped to his trunks to keep his push going. He's just not very entertaining. I also like where they're going with Lance Storm. While I fully understand why Lance's fans (both of us) were upset by the "boring" thing, the fact is that the "boring" thing is probably going to finally get him over. The whole thing with Foley was very, very classy. Foley is God for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the way he put Randy Orton over in the backstage segments. 

Star Of The Night: Kane
Match Of The Night: Kane v. HHH. 


Smackdown!: 3.5
It's unjust and unfair that I'm rating Smackdown lower than RAW this week – but it's something we're all going to have to learn to live with. It's hard to say why Smackdown didn't do it for me. I'm giving it a better than average rating, and it WAS better than average, but something just wasn't right. Let's start with the good: Cena v. Jordan. Great little match. Cena is fast becoming THE FREAKIN' MAN. Orton and Cena are the future of wrestling, IMHO. The Rikishi Drive that Matt took was just insane – TOO insane, in fact. It bugs me when guys kick out of piledrivers. Nobody, but NOBODY should kick out of a move like that. I love Matt Hardy, but he's not the guy to have Superpowers. Ultimo Dragon was good – but only good. His finisher, the name of which I do not know, is amazing, and I'm glad that Cole pointed out that Ultimo invented the Asai Moonsault. But still, I was expecting just a little bit more out of his debut. Remember Rey's debut against Chavo? Rey looked like a superstar. Ultimo looked like a guy in a halloween mask. Now for the really bad: I could go my whole life without ever picturing Vince "deflowering" Steph. I could go my whole life without hearing the words "kiss my ass club". And while it's great that Zach Gowan is getting a shot at the bigtime – well, seriously here – either wrestle or go away already. I also continue to be disappointed in how O'Haire's being handled. The guy could be the next Triple H (I mean in terms of Year 2000 skill), if only they'd quit burying him. 

Star Of The Night: John Cena
Match Of The Night: Cena v. Jordan.

Kyle's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.4), SD! (3.4).
 

  
Sayeitan
RAW: 1.5
We're asked to rate these shows according to the cable rating we think the show deserves – in this case, I hope new/curious fans keep as far away from the Monday show as possible. Everything that can go wrong with RAW has gone wrong: aging, half-crippled main eventers, a reliance on the mic and ring work of "legends," a complete botch job on their potential Golden Boy Goldberg, and the continuing, baffling misuse of Chris Jericho, Booker T. and Rob Van Dam. Oh, and did I mention they just ruined a loyal company man's career? The lone highlight was Randy Orton punking out Mick Foley, but Orton has been shoved so far down our throats I can't help but despise him. Something has to make this all stop.

Smackdown!: 3.5
Sure, I would have loved another **** match involving Chris Benoit, but this show had enough going for it without the mad workrate. Ultimo seemed to pop the crowd in Mysterio-like fashion, and I loved the atmosphere with Kidman in the crowd and Rey doing commentary (I always enjoy typical US commentary on Ultimo: "he had 5 belts at one time! No, 10!"). Awesome finisher, too. Hardy and Rikishi had a surprisingly good outing, complete with Rikishi Driver. So far in this US title tournament, we've got Benoit and Hardy advancing, so no complaints there. In other action, Eddy pins Piper and the 6 man comes off way better than it had any right to be. The Big Show push continues to mystify me, but really I'm just trying to ignore the whole McMahons/Hogan/Gowen sidebar.

Sayeitan's year-to-date averages: RAW (1.5), SD! (3.0). 


Big Danny T 
RAW: 4.0
Starting with the median 2.5.

Steiner/Booker v. Cris Tian/Test = +.1 Good enough for government work.

Brooding Kane = Even for all the segments. It's nice to see Kane is worried, but don't you think you could have found a few more significant moments in his history than the ones in the past 6 months? (footage of his debut aside, of course.) Oh yeah, and the Wayne's World dream fade didn't do anything for me either.

Maven v. Nowinski = Even. Whoa, wait, I blinked, there was a match here?

Chris Jericho's Highlight reel = +.1 Good stuff here, Lance needs to work the "Can I be serious" vibe like he did in WCW.

Lance Storm/Jericho v. Dudleys = +.1 "Hey, let’s throw something at the wall. Well whaddya know, it stuck!"

Randy Orton and Ric Flair making fun of Mick's book = +.1 Ric, have you ever even seen Mick's wife? She puts yours to shame, I'll tell ya!

La Resistance v. The French Anthem = +.1 When you feel your heat wane, go with the old tried and true method of singing your anthem. Worked for Nikolai Volkoff! And their butchering of it would probably make them heels in their “native” France as well (Yes, I know they are Quebecois).

La Resistance v Hurricane/Slaughter = +.1 For making my roomie, who doesn't even like wrestling go "Holy shit! It's Sgt. Slaughter! Would have given it another point, but come on, it's Sgt. Slaughter.

Tribute to Mick Foley. I could run down every little point, but that would be redundant and I'll just let this one go with a total of +.3

HBK/Big Poochie v. Flair/Orton = +.1 Good match, even if Nash was stinking up the joint (for once, I unconditionally agree with SK: Nash doesn't belong in the ring anymore if he's just going to mark time like this.)

Foley Getting beat down = good enough for +.1 more.

Goldberg v. Rodney Mack = +.1 Damn, I blinked again, but this time it actually served a purpose.

HHH v. Kane plus the Unmasking = +.3 the payoff was good, match was solid, and we now have renewed interest in Kane.

Tallying all that up, and it looks like Raw reached down deep and grabbed a hold of a 4.0 from me.

Smackdown!: 3.7
Somewhere on this site, there is a Recap. That recap was written by Big Danny T. If you don't read the recap, you'll make the baby Jesus cry, as well as not be able to figure out how I gave Smackdown a 3.7.

Danny's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.8), SD! (3.8).
 


Rick Scaia
RAW: 4.1
Simply put, the Fed promised us something big on Monday night, and they actually delivered it. As cynical as I was going in, I walked away feeling like I'd just seen a big, important show. Kane's unmasked, and it only took five and a half years of teases. The show wasn't just "big," either, it was entertaining in almost every segment. The match leading up to the unmasking had some of the most dramatic and entertaining final minutes on free TV so far this year, and the in-ring action on the rest of the show was ramped up, too (both the HBK/Nash vs. Flair/Orton and Dudleys vs. Jericho/Storm matches were really good). Really strong outing.

SmackDown!: 3.8
Where RAW had Kane unmasking, SD! had "the night of debuts." And unfortunately, Orlando Jordan and Ultimo Dragon just aren't quite enough to build up the same kind of major-event atmosphere as Kane losing his mask. So while almost every match or segment on SD! was solid and/or helped set something up for next week or elsewhere down the line, the fact is that it came up just a few ticks short of RAW this week. At least in my book. Main event was surprisingly strong, and was the best match of the night, I thought. Which is kind of disappointing to me, given how stoked I was to see Dragon back in action. 

Rick's year-to-date averages: RAW (4.0), SD! (4.0).


FINAL OO RATINGS, WEEK ENDING 6/27/03

RAW average: 3.48 (extra decimal place needed to avert tie)
Actual Nielsen Rating: 3.2 (converted to broadcast rating)
RAW OVERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

Smackdown! average: 3.51(extra decimal place needed to avert tie)
Actual Nielsen Rating:  3.4
SD! OVERdelivers versus final rating this week.

YEAR TO DATE TALLIES

Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.46
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.2
RAW is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.58
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.4
SD! is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 2
Rounds Won by SD!: 2
Current Streak: 1 by SD! (Since 6/27/03)
Longest Streak: 2 by RAW (Since 6/13/03)

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