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RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins? 
Week Ending July 18, 2003

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


OOficial Brand of the Week:
RAW: 2.6 --/-- SD!: 3.1

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 (7/14/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (7/17/03)

Erin Anderson
RAW: 2.5
This show didn't do a whole lot for me. I'm torn over what to think about Kane burning J.R.: I hated the angle in execution, but I also liked what it accomplished for Kane's character. At least next week a newly-packaged Kane will be doing what he needs to do now to really establish his character, and that is kicking ass in the ring and showing no mercy in the process. I'll try to forget the rest of the events surrounding his heel turn.

The opening segment was quite good, though; it's hard to go wrong when you have Jericho and Austin going at it on the mic. Jericho's petitioning throughout the show amused me as well. Maven/Storm was a total train wreck, and I place the blame squarely on Maven's shoulders for that. I have a hard time believing that Storm could look that bad in the ring.

The ladies had a good showing: the 3-on-3 tag match was completely saved by Trish and Victoria, and Gail and Molly had a nice match as well, even if the crowd wasn't really into it. I hope that the Christian/Booker feud is over now. I like both of them, but am really tired of seeing them have a match every week.

Does anyone care about Rodney Mack? Or Rosey, for that matter? I only tolerated this match because Teddy Long cracks me up.

My big question: where was Shawn Michaels? Doesn't he have a huge match with Jericho next week? He should have shown up to at least cut a promo, but instead we got Jericho inserting a quick "Watch my match next week!" into the Highlight Reel. Kind of a blah show for me, but next week should be very interesting.

Smackdown!: 2.5
Matt Hardy v. Benoit was fantastic. Benoit was wrestling like he was really pissed off (and that is a good thing), and Matt really stepped up his game for the match. Those chops he took were absolutely VICIOUS. I'd like to see these guys get into a feud over the U.S. Title somewhere down the line, sooner rather than later. Eddie v. Billy Gunn went on too long, and I'm having trouble buying into Gunn as a serious contender for the U.S. title anyway. I'm drooling over the prospect of Eddie/Benoit at Vengeance, and these two should kick it into high gear next week.

Rey/Kidman v. Masked Jobbers and Ultimo Dragon v. Jamie Noble were fine, but too short and really unnecessary for a show that should be building up to a pay-per-view next week. I did enjoy Tazz and Cole's banter about the Conquistadors, though. Funny stuff. The main event was entertaining, but Haas and Benjamin should have had some kind of interaction with Mysterio and Kidman to heat things up for their match at Vengeance.

As for Vince/Zach and Stephanie/Sable… I hate it, and that's what drags my SD! rating for this week. I don't want to see that crap, and I'm having it shoved down my throat. It's ruining the show (I explain this pretty in-depth in my column, and I don't feel like going through all of it again here). Get Vince, Steph, and Sable off my tv screen, and I'll start enjoying SD! more.

Erin's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.3), SD! (3.1).

The Cubs Fan
RAW: 2.9
Lots and lots of time killing before SummerSlam. And other forms of killing, sure. I think a big part that's hurting the show is that they're over-focused on gimmicks and not enough on angles. We know we're supposed to think "Boring" when we see Lance Storm, but that's led to lots of losses, inconsequential matches and no rivalry. We know that Gail Kim is capable of the upset and many headscissors moves, but all it's led to is wins over people we weren't taking seriously to begin with. Randy's the future of the WWE, and apparently that future involves a lot of tag-team matches. The list of actual rivalries seems pretty short.

Jericho v. HBK (and not on the show)
Test v. Steiner/Nash?
Booker T v. Christian (though that seems over and neither has an obvious new direction)
Rosey/Hurricane v. Mack
La Resistance v. the Dudleys (only hinted at, no future matches announced)
Kane v. RVD (well, next week)

I guess they don't have to do feuds when they have so long between the PPVs, but it sure is boring when they don't. And of the ones that they're doing, they're either ones they've seemingly run into the ground (IC, Test), ones that didn't involve action on this show, and one involving Rosey. You kinda have to have interesting rivalries or interesting matches to make me care, and this had nothing for me.

I really really REALLY wanted to like Gail/Molly match, but it wasn't good. They didn't seem on the same page, and everyone's having problems trying to avoid the headscissors moves from looking totally rehearsed. I think they've got a great 10-minute match in them, but they need a lot more time working together. Could they give something for Gail to do in the meantime? Winning a title and defending it in matches with little chance for anything happening didn't work when it was Christian, and this title actually meant a little bit.

Smackdown!: 3.6
Here, they gave me interesting matches! If they gave me anything worthwhile besides Matt/Benoit, this would’ve been a 4. I sure hope Matt finds a way on PPV otherwise (and not in the brawl) — maybe since Chimel still thinks he's 220, he and Ultimo and can work a #1 contender's match, much to Kidman's annoyance. Or make it a tag match with Shannon and Tajiri/Funaki/Asian To Be Named Later. Three-on-one main events, no matter who's doing them, really bore me. I look forward to Linda showing up on this show and questioning his judgment by threatening to fire both Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar.

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

RAW: 3
Without a recap in front of me, I couldn't remember much of the show except for the Kane angle. I think this speaks volumes on what is wrong with RAW these days. The whole show is built around a single angle, which you can sometimes get away with if that angle is very strong, but more times than not they range from ultra-lame to just OK, as it was this week. I rolled my eyes at the sight of the Papa-Shango-esque torching of poor JR, but I don't think it's any more goofy that hundreds of angles WWE has gotten away with in the past. The Kane storyline continues to be interesting but not interesting enough to make up for a complete absence of entertainment value in the rest of the show. One of WWE's biggest problems right now is not having that up-and coming star, who everybody sees is on the cusp of something big and tunes in to watch every week. The closest thing is Randy Orton, but as long as he's part of a faction with Triple H and Ric Flair, he is not going to break out as a major star.

Smackdown!: 3.1
It's hard to believe anyone could be as oblivious as Vince McMahon is. I didn't clock it, but I would guess at least a full third of Smackdown featured some combination of the McMahon-Zach-Sable-Stephanie storyline. I'm not going to argue that Vince can be a strong, smarmy heel, but there is just no reason to feature so much of him and his family. And seemingly everyone but him can see that. The rest of the show had some pretty good stuff. Hardy v. Benoit was fantastic, the handicapped main event was good, Cena was O!-kay, ya' heard. But as strong as the supporting cast was, my smile turned into a frown every time a McMahon came out, which was about once every five minutes.

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

Matt Hocking
RAW: 3.4
JL:  So... uh... Coach can't make it. And J.R. is burnt. Or dead. So...
HHH:  Howler Monkey, get in here!
Lita:  Me?
HM:  I believe he means me. I am most pleased to see you again Mr. Lawler.
JL:  And here's our guest, Triple Naitch!
RF:  Wooo! Why am I here?
HHH:  Naitch, you're here to rate RAW, man.
RF:  I rated RAW with your old lady on Space Mountain, fat boy! Woooo!
JL:  Uh... Kane burning J.R. That sure was an effective visual.
HM:  Indeed. The Evolution match was very effective. Oh, and the Test/Kevin Nash match looks to be something to actually look forward to.
RF:  My god. Hunter! It's a talking monkey!
HM:  Oop. Eep.
HHH:  Uh... rate the show already.
RF:  WOOO! Ric Flair, in a match! 5.0 WOOO!
JL:  Needed more puppies. 2.3.
HM:  Hmm... The Austin/Bischoff stuff is oddly watchable. Next week's show should be stellar. As a set up show, I give it a 3.4 rating.

Smackdown!: 3.5

MC:  We're here another week for the Battle of the Bands, Tazz!
TZ:  That's BRANDS, Cole. Battle of the BRANDS.
MC:  Oh. So I shouldn't have brought my Kazoo?
TZ:  Uh... here's our guest. Stephanie? Oh, Crap.
UD:  Hey! Stephanie is Dragontacular.
SM:  Let's talk about ME! And Sable!
MC:  Sable v. Stephanie, in one week at Vengeance!!
TZ:  There are always great matches on Smackdown every week, and Eddie/Benoit should be a Rocketbusta, but why does Smackdown's writing suck?
SM:  Huh?
UD:  Tazz....
TZ:  What? Are you going to hold down my announcing career?
SM:  Let's do ratings! Me first! 5.0. Smackdown is great!
MC:  Smackdown is great. I love my job. I'm Shoelace!! 5.0!!
TZ:  Weeks like this make me miss Roddy Piper. I don't know why. 3.5.

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

Jeb Tennyson Lund
RAW: 2.0
Hmmm. The pluses: Nash finished a match without having to go for the oxygen mask under the ring; Nash showed that he could perform the least damaging-looking powerbomb in the world; the Dudley's are part of the 2% of the American population that know all the words to the first verse of "The Star Spangled Banner." In the middle: Jericho and the petition stuff. I'll be disappointed if this is a one-off deal, as I like a smarmy and litigious Jericho. If he turns into a backstage lawyer, so much the better. And the minuses: Gail Kim has perhaps the most impotent music ever crafted for a wrestler (short of Jericho's old "I'm the king of my woooooooooorlllllllld" crap). Maven screwed up constantly.

I loved the Kane segment for it's character development, but then they had to tack on that unnecessary eye-candy crap and ruin the effect. Really, I think WWE writers are like that one friend who doesn't understand that the topic has been exhausted. You know what I mean: you're hanging out, and you see something weird. You make a funny crack about it. Another friend makes one. Then another, then another. Then there's that one friend left who — even though he knows he doesn't have as good a joke as the rest of you, and even though everything worth saying about the subject has been said — he goes ahead and cracks his poor joke, faltering in the delivery, killing the moment.

That's WWE writing to me. Good idea, good idea, good idea — let's just keep pushing it to see how far it will go — ugh. Embarrassment everywhere. Then everyone has an awkward feeling of pity and discomfort.

Final note: wow, at the end of the show, we get a replay of the montage from the beginning of the show. But I'm glad to see it again because my brain melted earlier and I can now only recognize two or three shapes and colors.

Smackdown!: 2.2
No matter how cool Benoit v. Hardy was, it can't overcome the rest of the show. No matter how great Eddie Guerrero is, he can't overcome the great weight that is The Load. No matter how funny Angle is, he can't make Lesnar funny, too. No matter how excellent Ultimo Dragon is, his matches won't equal his talent as long as they are shorter in duration that the first pee of the morning.

And, oh, the Stephanie, Vince, Sable fun. Oh, the fun of it all. RAW melted my brain partway. This shit melted it away entirely. The only reasons why this show wasn't ranked much lower than RAW are Benoit, Hardy, Angle. Without them, this show deserved to have the crap kicked out of it. That's how offensive this McMahon stuff has become.

Jeb Tennyson Lund's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.0), SD! (3.2).

The Immolator, Calum Macbeth
RAW: 2.8
Not much going on here at all. I flipped over to highlights of the 1987 Paris-Dakar "Cook a Trout on your Engine Block" Rally on the Outdoor Food Network. But I came back for Gail Kim. Then Kane felt the power of The Immolator, which will gather plenty of extra eyeballs next week. This week, however, it's 8-cylinder trout with fresh couscous.

Smackdown!: 2.9
Just not my week, I guess. Benoit-Hardy was all kinds of good, and UD always makes my day... (cough)MATCHTOOSHORT(cough). Storytelling was tight, but action was otherwise uninspiring. Maybe I've been spoiled by their recent run of excellence.

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

Kyle Maxwell
RAW: 1.0
This show will CONTINUE to get a 1.0 from me until such time as King or Coach leaves the announcer table. It seems kind of harsh to punish an entire show for the announcers, but in this case, it's entirely justified.  These two dimwits managed to ruin every single match. They could have ruined Steamboat/Savage. "Well King, Savage has gone outside for the TIME BELL. That's a bell used to announce the start and finish of matches! I wonder what he's going to do with the bell? Do you think we might be treated  to a replay of Savage's earlier attack on Ricky's trachea?" "Who cares, Coach! PUPPIES! Ohh, I want to have intercourse with Miss Elizabeth! PUPPIES!" I suppose I ought to mention the idiotic Kane segment, but what's there to say? All this time and Kane is "psychologically" scarred. It scares me that the best the writers could come up with is a ripoff of an e-Fed angle from two years ago.
Wrestler of the Night: The Jeritron 5000
Match of the Night: The Jeritron 5000 v. Steve Austin

Smackdown!: 2.5
Kurt Angle is entirely responsible for this show's rating. It'd probably be "zero" otherwise. The matches were too short. We had Billy Gunn and the APA back in action. Too much Vince. Too little Rey and Ultimo Dragon. But the worst thing is the Zack Gowan angle. This is just pathetic. I'm not even going to dignify this crap by pointing out how offensive it is. This reminds me of the Trish "bark like a dog" segments, that we were assured were intended to get Trish over when she finally got her "revenge." Well, it's two years later, and she's never gotten her "revenge," and she's finally over DESPITE those creepy segments, not because of them. It took her over a year to recover from Vince's "push" of her. I doubt Zack will EVER recover from his "rub" from Mr. McMahon.
Wrestler of the Night: Kurt Angle
Match of the Night: Angle v. Show/Haas/Benjamin

Kyle Maxwell's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.6), SD! (2.8).

Big Danny T
RAW: 3.9
Starting with my normal 2.5:
• Jericho Kicking us off with The Highlight Reel, complete with neck-braced Eric Bischoff, Chris in total suckup mode, RVD going through a wall, and Stone Cold stirring things up = +.3
• Nash/Steiner/Trish v. Steven/Victoria/Test = +.1 You know, when Test did the pushups, he looked kind of my Mr. Hyde from LXG. Good enough match for government work.
• Lance Storm VS. Maven = +.1 good solid match, only a bit slow.
• La Resistance destroying the French National Anthem = Even. it was amusing that one time, now it's getting a bit grating. and I pity the fans in the arena that have to listen to it through the commercial.
• Dudleys interrupting said anthem and butchering the American anthem = +.1. well, at least Bubba put his heart into it, D-Von was a much better singer.
• Dudleys v. Evolution = +.2 good match, and Randy getting all three pins was a nice touch for his character.
• Chris Jericho bringing back his Master of the Loophole persona to try and oust Austin = +.1
• Teddy Long coming out and basically putting a black spin on what Jericho just said (get rid of Austin) = Even. "Mr President, in the dictionary under Redundant, it says 'see redundant.' Would you care to comment on that?"
• Rodney Mack v. Rosie = -.1 ok, at the risk of sounding like Scott Keith, that was a nothing match in an inexplicable feud.
• Hurricane to the Rescue! = +.1 Hey, Hurricane can make any angle interesting! At least, let's hope so.
• Booker T Dusty Finish = +.1 After the restart of the match, should have gone for longer, but at least they didn't take the gold off him after only a week.
• Gail Kim v. Molly = +.1 Was a bit on the short side, and Gail looked kind of green, but still perfectly acceptable wrestling. I hope this doesn't mean Molly will be off my TV for another extended period of time, though.
• Kane interview = +.2 Kane gets more and more psycho every week, and that's where he needs to be. JR taking the fire gag was a nice touch too.
• Bischoff dropping the "You're going to be fired" bombshell = +.1 Nice little capper for the show, should bring people back next week.

RAW gave us a good solid 2 hours this week, giving us some nice drama to end up with. and after tallying the points, RAW leaves us with a strong 3.9.

Smackdown!: 3.5
Smackdown on the other hand, had a few more ups and downs, but finished this week with a 3.5 rating from me. [Check out Danny's show recap for more details.]

Big Danny T's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.8), SD! (3.7).

Rick Scaia
RAW: 2.3
RAW's best wound up being a very good old school type six-man match, with Evolution going decisively over the Dudleys.  And that's all well and good, but when your peak is a solid 15 minute match with old school psychology, you're not exactly cooking with gas.  Ooops, did I just say "gas"?  Let's also say that Kane's JR-BQ didn't exactly leave a good taste in my mouth either.  There are simply a myriad of better ways to try to get the New Kane over as a heel that roasting an announcer after an unconvincing sit-down interview should never have come up.  RAW's got some big weeks coming up -- like Jericho/HBK, Kane/RVD, and the Rock next week in LA -- but this was not a particularly strong outing to set those up.

SmackDown!: 3.7
Angle's win in the 1-on-3 main event was outstanding, and Hardy/Benoit was a fantastic-if-abbreviated match.  Really more a tease of what could be than a blow-away match in its own right, but still...  storytelling-wise, the title picture is looking really interesting, even if you've got some blackholes like Steph/Sable eating up time despite just about zero potential for worthwhile PPV pay-off.  Workrate-wise, we've now got the sure-to-please Eddie vs. Benoit US Title final to look forward to to offset the aforementioned black hole.  SD!'s done a fair job crafting its first brand-specific PPV card (Eddie/Benoit, Angle/Lesnar/Show, Taker/Cena, and the tag title match could all rule, and Gowen/Vince should be a fun Sports Entertainment Segment), but if I had to complain, it'd be in how each of those feuds was weighed in terms of getting TV exposure leading up to the show... for instance, Cena/Taker have really been shorted, I think, and their match will suffer for it.  Meantime, Vince is eating up TV time by the quarter hour, and we're sitting through Steph/Sable foodfights.  SD! had plenty to regain BotB supremacy over RAW from me this week, but didn't quite put the pieces together perfectly enough to get over the 4 barrier.

Rick's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.5), SD! (3.9).


RAW average: 2.6 
Actual Nielsen Rating: 3.1 (converted to broadcast rating)
RAW UNDERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

Smackdown! average: 3.1
Actual Nielsen Rating:  3.4 
SD! UNDERdelivers versus final rating this week.


Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.21
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.17
RAW is barely OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.43
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.33
SD! is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 2
Rounds Won by SD!: 5
Current Streak: 4 by SD! (Since 6/27/03)
Longest Streak: 4 by SD! (6/27-7/18)

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