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OO BATTLE OF THE BRANDS  
RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins? 
Week Ending August 8, 2003

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

 

OOficial Brand of the Week:
SmackDown!
RAW: 3.53 --/-- SD!: 3.58

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 (8/04/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (8/07/03)
OOFICIAL RATINGS

Erin Anderson
RAW: 4.0
The only low point for this show was Rene Dupree v. Bubba Dudley. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest.

Steiner v. Orton was kept short enough that it didn't completely suck. And Steiner, of course, got booed.... God, I love Canadian crowds. And I thought that Rosey in his makeshift superhero outfit was genuinely funny, not so poorly done and awful it was funny. He and Hurricane aren't going to be driving up ratings anytime soon, but if they entertain the people, that's fine with me. I wish Christian v. Hurricane could have been longer, but it was good while it lasted.

Goldberg v. Flair was an afterthought to the clusterfuck that followed the match, and now we have an Elimination Chamber match at Summerslam. Thank you, God. HHH v. Goldberg would have just sucked, and now we have three guys who can actually move around the ring (HBK, Jericho, and Orton), and a huge gimmick to disguise the match's shortcomings (HHH, Goldberg, and Nash).

RVD v. Jericho was awesome the kind of match that you just don't see on RAW anymore these days. It's nice to be reminded that some of these guys can really go in the ring. And so we have a hair match somewhere down the line, which should be pretty interesting.

They've turned Gail Kim heel. So far, so good. I just doubt that WWE will give her the time next week to tell us all WHY she turned heel. Sigh. They really need to bring Lita back if they want to even up the female faces with the heels, seeing as Ivory and Jackie aren't hugely over. I'm worried about Victoria's knee, though. She was limping rather badly.

Lance Storm/Goldust could either be really funny or really stupid. Don't fuck it up, WWE.

I was a little disappointed that Shane won't have a match with Kane at SummerSlam, but hopefully they'll meet somewhere down the line. The main event wasn't special or anything, but it got the job done: Bischoff and Kane are now on the same side. Also, Shane selling the tombstone like he was dead was a thing of beauty.

Overall, a really strong show with some quality entertainment, one great (and long) match, and the "stickiness" that Rick likes to talk about.

Smackdown!: 4.0
I couldn't give one show the nod over the other this week: overall, just some really good programming.

The opening gave us not one, but two really solid matches. When Benoit, Rhyno, Eddie, and Tajiri are involved, do you expect anything else? Lots of good stuff here, and it seems like the Canadian crowd and a tag team with Rhyno turned Eddie into a full-fledged heel. We'll see if that carries over next week.

Zach Gowen again looked strong in an outing with an actual wrestler, and showed he actually has some mat skills when fighting Nunzio. Matt's commentary may have been heelish, but I do agree with it. Looks like we're headed to a Hardy/Gowen feud, which could be some really good stuff. After that, put Matt back in the U.S. Title hunt where he belongs.

Cena v. Taker was 5-10 minutes too long, but it ended with a semi-clean win for Cena, so I'm happy. What I am NOT happy about: a probable Taker/A-train feud. Good lord, not again. Noble v. Basham was short enough to not offend me, but I dread a Noble/Gunn alliance.

Mysterio/Hass was more good in-ring stuff. The members of The World's Greatest Tag Team keep looking better and better in the ring, and next week's tag title match should be fantastic. Say a prayer that it gets at least 12 minutes.

I loved what the cage "match" established between Brock and Angle, but I won't go into here, since I covered it all in my column. Brock as a heel is a good thing, and I'm really looking forward to a SummerSlam match between these two. Lots of solid ring work + a major angle that I like + bad segments being kept short = 4.0 rating.

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


The Cubs Fan
RAW: 2.8
I can't believe they didn't save Eric v. Shane for PPV. Why did Eric give away his plan before he had to? That was awful stupid of him.

Why did everyone go hyper about the Jericho/Nash hair/hair match "happening next week." No one said anything like that. Jericho's interview itself pointed that it's something that he'd have to force to make happen, a long-term goal. It seemed a lot more logical as a sub-issue of the SummerSlam match and maybe happen on the PPV after that.

There's so much stagnation on this show, small turns to freshen things
up like Gail Kim work for me. Or maybe that division I just haven't given up on yet. It was probably the best thing they ever could've done, separating "women's matches that are pretty much T&A jokes" and "women's matches that aren't totally T&A jokes." They really need to give the fans some impression of where Gail (and Molly) are coming from soon, because they're coming off no more meaningful than Lance Cade and Mark Jindrak.

Smackdown!: 3.4
I want to give this a 5.0 because Tazz mentioned Atlantis. The Atlantida! The move that beat so many men, that took the mask of Villano III! On the other hand, Atlantis is sorta the CMLL Undertaker in being a slowed-down version of himself.

And, odd moments that delight me and fifteen other people aside, your
feeling on a slowed-down version of Undertaker probably determined your feeling on the show. (The opening Benoit/Eddie/Tajiri/Rhyno stuff was good, but it loses impact because only the finish will matter next week.) If you dug Undertaker building up to Old School over seven minutes, it was your match... and I kinda did. It was neat different than any other WWE match this week, or most any 4-8 minute TV match. I wasn't looking forward to the match, but I think it was smartly wrestled. Probably the best TV match these two could have.

I didn't dig the finish, and even less the visual pinfall Undertaker
got. But in WWE-land, this is the right step. They just need to keep
taking those steps and not lose focus so what's next for Cena? (A
continuation of the Orlando Jordan feud wouldn't be it he needs to do
what Edge did last year, and keep bouncing from high level guy to high
level guy if he's gonna be one.)

Getting back to wherever it was I started: it was neat to see an outsider's name used in some sort of context, instead of just being thrown out there abstractly like Jushin Liger and Great Sasuke have been in the recent past. I think they still gotta work on making it mean something to the people (like using video of these names on shows so WWE-only fans know who they are and get the comparisons believe it or not, but they got some Atlantis footage back there too) but for me, it's
neato. And me is all that matters.

Main even could've been more dramatic, but knowing what would happen
took a little bit out of it. Wanted more of a destructive beatdown on Angle other heels helping, faces blocked off from saving, that kinda thing.

The Cubs Fan's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.0), SD! (3.4).


Fonzo
Smackdown! was pre-empted in NYC, so I won't be able to see it until tomorrow night.

RAW: 2.5
With RVD v. Jericho, Goldberg v. Flair and Shane v. Bischoff, this was certainly a loaded RAW, but not an especially great one. I guess the biggest news was the SummerSlam main-event switch, which I have mixed feelings on. On one hand, I don't fault WWE for pulling out of Goldberg v. HHH when it became clear that Hunter's injury and Goldberg's, well, Goldberg-ness, really jeopardized the chances of this match being anything special. The Elimination Chamber stip certainly makes the match sound like a suitable substitution, but if anyone remembers last year's Survivor Series, the gimmick can be more of a hindrance than an advantage. What's more, putting Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho in the same match eliminates the possibility of three other good matches on the show. And having those three work with Goldberg, Nash and an injured HHH really hurts the chances of this match being anything but an overbooked, sloppy brawl. As for the rest of the show... Jericho and RVD had a very strong TV main event, Shane was good in his role, as was Kane. It may be only a tiny act on the undercard, but the Hurricane - S.H.I.T. gimmick is really hurting the show. Just when you begin to enjoy the flow of the product, you're hit with garbage like this that reminds you how inept some of the writers are. Regardless of how much TV time he gets, Gregory Helms may be the most wasted talent on the show. He's a good looking kid with some great looking offense in the ring and sufficient interview skills, but is made to look like an absolute idiot every week saddled with a 1991 go-nowhere
gimmick.

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


Matt Hocking
RAW: 4.0
JC:  I'm back on the greatest ratings extravaganza in Sports Entertainment today!
JL:  Uh... whatever, Coach. Here's this week's guest, Rosey.
RS:  Yo, what up? Big Suga Rosey in the hizzy for shizzy.
JC:  He... for... what?
JL:  Well, I for one thought RAW was pretty good. After all, there were several intershow storylines, many of which were wrapped up in the announcement of an exciting Elimination Chamber match.
JC:  PLUS! Shane-O-Mac, Kane and Eric Bischoff had an amazing confrontation!!
RS:  Whatever, you guys. What about me? Your homeboy Rosey got a new gimmick!
JL:  I just like the fact that RAW is going all out towards SummerSlam and trying to entertain their fans. Plus, CANADIAN PUPPIES!! 5!
HHH:  I was wondering when he was going to lose it.
JC:   I don't know. I'm leaving soon. That makes me sad. 2.2.
RS:  Uh... I don't know. I'm the S.H.I.T. 4.0.

Smackdown!: 2.6
MC:  Huh. Brock Lesnar's big heel turn!!
TZ:  Wow. Yeah that was... uh... exciting?
MC:  Did Torrie and Kidman get married?
TZ:  I dunno, Cole. I guess. Did John Cena just beat Undertaker?
UT:  No.
MC:  It's Undertaker! Our Guest! Rate Smackdown!
UT:  Storylines still suck. I did not job, that was all your imagination. 2.6. Now I'm leaving.
MC:  Undertaker is always leaving. I bet it's because of his rib injuries!!
TZ:  Uh... his dad died, Cole.
MC:  That's sad!! As much as the writing of Jeb Lund, the storylines on Smackdown still suck. 1.0.
TZ:  Did you just turn heel on our show, Cole?  It may not be worth the usual 5.0, you give it, but it was certainly a solid 3, or at least a 2.6 like Taker said.
UD:  Needs more Dragon!
TZ:  Don't you have a groin injury?
UD:  No. Ow. I mean. No.

Matt Hocking's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.8), SD! (3.5).


Jeb Tennyson Lund
RAW: 4.0
I finally watched the show on tape, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was entertaining, and most of the shortcomings it had can be ascribed more to "what are they going to do with this down the road?" than to any actual failings of the moment. Case in point: Bischoff and Kane, and Gail Kim. I have no problem with what's going on with any of these performers, but I worry about their futures. Will Kane and Bischoff just be another stop on the Kane Character Destruction Express, leaving him stranded, without a program? Will Gail Kim become a completely one-dimensional heel, the perfect antithesis to her one-dimensional face character?

As others have said, Jericho v. RVD was very good stuff. RVD still can't sell. Sheesh. I look forward to the Elimination Chamber match with dread, but with less dread than Triple H v. Goldberg. The only thing I truly hated about this show was seeing Orton beat Steiner essentially cleanly. The fact that the Canadian crowd was rooting against Steiner was just stupid. Orton's supposed to be disliked, and it's not as if he has any more moves than Steiner, anyway.

Smackdown!: 3.6
A Jamie Noble match does not embiggen the smallest show. Neither does a Brock Lesnar heel turn. Brock is going to be the same as before. Now he'll be a verbally constipated (and by the look on his face, legitimately constipated as well) bad guy instead of a verbally constipated good guy. At least now I can hate him the way I'm "supposed to."

Haas, Mysterio, 'Taker, Cena, Benoit, Guerrero, Tajiri and Rhyno all made this show good. And I was again pleasantly surprised by Zach Gowen. He continues to adapt and impress. The only potential downside I see is that his first important win may come at Matt Hardy's expense. I don't think Hardy currently has the juju to elevate Gowen without losing some luster himself. Here's hoping that Zach goes winless for another month or two. I really like the idea of him constantly getting so close to a win, but finding some other obstacle, shortcoming or interference. I think it will invest his character with even more sincere drama.

The rest of the show was fluff.

My current big fear is that Benoit, Guerrero, Rhyno and Tajiri will, with Haas and Benjamin, turn into the new Smackdown Six, and we will be forced to watch excellent matches from them continually get overshadowed by stories involving Kurt Angle, two oafs and a tired Mr. McMahon character. Why do I get the sickening feeling that I'm right?

Jeb Tennyson Lund's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.1), SD! (3.2).

Rick Scaia
RAW: 3.9
This is the kind of show that RAW hasn't given us since the end of June.  A great wrestling match to hang our hat on.  Some solid storytelling/promo work to set up a main event angle featuring Shane, Kane, and Bischoff.  A great cover job for HHH's injury by tying the HHH/Goldberg, Jericho/Nash, and Michaels/Orton feuds together.  No boring, under-hyped "easy out" segments to allow your attention to stray.  A very strong effort by the RAW crew this week.

SmackDown!: 4.3
If RAW was very strong, then SD! was practically flawless by my standards.  Hell, the worst parts of the show, they were left on the cutting room floor!  I didn't need to see that Sable promo to know it was pointless, and very much appreciated getting the full measure of both the opening Benoit/Eddie/Tajiri/Rhyno match(es) and Cena/Taker.  Rey/Haas was a third outstanding in-ring affair.  The show-spanning storyline featuring Angle, Lesnar, and McMahon played perfectly, too, culminating in a convincing heel turn for Lesnar and even more convincing decimation of Angle inside the cage.  I'd go even higher, except that booking A-Train into the Cena/Taker match not only weakened Cena's win, it also serves as a harbinger of a Taker/Train feud.  And I ain't looking forward to that.

Rick's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.4), SD! (3.9).


FINAL OO RATINGS, WEEK ENDING 8/08/03

RAW average: 3.53 
Actual Nielsen Rating: 3.3 (converted to broadcast rating)
RAW OVERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

Smackdown! average: 3.58
Actual Nielsen Rating:  3.0  
SD! OVERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

YEAR TO DATE TALLIES

Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.22
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.25
RAW is UNDERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.44
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.32
SD! is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 2
Rounds Won by SD!: 8
Current Streak: 7 by SD! (Since 6/27/03)
Longest Streak: 7 by SD! (6/27-8/08)

BROWSE PAST WEEK'S BATTLES OF THE BRANDS
  Shop at Amazon.com


  
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