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RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins? 
Week Ending September 5, 2003

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


OOficial Brand of the Week:
RAW: 2.48 --/-- SD!: 4.10

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 (9/01/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (9/04/03)

Erin Anderson
RAW: 2.9
I don't feel like going over all this again, so here's a post I made about the show on the message boards. It covers everything:

The good:
1. Christian/Jericho. A feud between these two could absolutely kick ass, and Jericho seemed to be the tweener of the two, so if anyone turns face, it'll be him. Of course, this all depends on if creative decides to follow up on this segment next week. It honestly wouldn't surprise me they don't. But the coolest thing about their match was that they got the crowd into it, despite both being heels, and despite the fact that the match started off with a massive "BORING!" chant. Nice work by both guys. And what smark didn't smile when Jericho called himself the MVP of RAW?

2. The main event. Great tag work that made Goldberg look like a complete monster. Unfortunately, the buildup that they gave Maven was completely lost in all of it. Ah well.

3. Test is showing some real heel charisma.

4. The women's tag match. It was unremarkable until Trish came in, and I thought she looked terrific in the ring. As for the handstand rana: I'm not so sure that she was supposed to hit that move. Even if she was, it was Molly who was not in position for it — one of her legs was behind the ropes. In either case, they covered well for it.

5. RVD kicking the shit out of Kane.

The bad:
1. La Resistance. Why did they win a non-title match against a tag team that's trying to get over? Why do they have the belts in the first place?

2. The entire opening to the show. Coach/JR at Unforgiven? Wow. WWE has just given me a great reason to not buy that PPV. I don't consider this in the same "matches between non-wrestlers" league as Bischoff/Shane, because both of those men are athletic and can really take some bumps. JR will not be able to move around the ring with the same type of ease or athleticism.

3. Test, while showing some real heel charisma, is still feuding with Steiner.

4. No Lance/Goldust skits.

5. Kane having only a couple of bandages on his arms. I know we're supposed to suspend our disbelief to a certain degree, but that was pretty ridiculous.

6. Kane frying Shane's nuts. Of all the things he could have done to Shane, that was the best creative could come up with?

7. Al Snow teaming up with Coach. I like Al, but his involvement is not going to make me want to watch Coachman.

8. Where the hell are Jazz and Lita?

9. Giving Maven two backstage segments hyping up how important the main event was to him, and then making him a complete non-factor in said main event. Way to give us a payoff, WWE.

When RAW was good, it was excellent. When it was bad, it made me want to change the channel. The bad overshadowed the good, but the good was enough to keep me from giving the "average" 2.5 rating and bump it up a few tenths.

Smackdown!: 4.3
Excellent, excellent, excellent.

What kept me from going full-tilt to a 5.0 was the weak tag match to open the show and the length of the main-event promo. Haas and Benjamin have spent the last few months looking like seasoned veterans, but against the APA, they looked like just another tag team. I don't like seeing promos as the main event of Smackdown!, but Brock is really growing into his heel persona well without a mouthpiece. It just went on about five minutes too long.

The bikini contest was boiled down to a short video package, so I won't complain about it. Besides, Nidia cracks me up. She's like the anti-diva of WWE. Benoit v. A-train wasn't too long, and as much as I hate to see Benoit's feud with Rhyno being dragged out like this, he can pull a pretty good match out of A-train. Let's move on to Benoit/Rhyno next week, and I'll be happy.

Eddie and Cena are really heating things up — the mic work by both and the short brawl were well-executed, and their street fight next week should be pay-per-view caliber.

The title match was just fantastic: the promos from last week and the taped interviews from earlier in the show set the stage perfectly. Angle was determined to make Taker tap, and Taker would refuse to tap, even if it meant a broken ankle. Tons of near falls, brawling, mat work and submissions, storytelling… I liked everything about this match. It kind of pissed me off to see Brock run in, because I think an Undertaker/Angle title feud would be pretty bitchin' after what I saw from these two.

But that sets up an Iron Man match a few weeks from now, on free TV. Hot damn!

Mysterio v. Tajiri was predictably fantastic, and very long for a cruiser title bout (nearly 15 minutes). And it looks like Rey-Rey will actually start a feud with Tajiri now, rather than fight a random cruiserweight every week.

Match of the Night honors go to Taker and Angle, because their match had a setup from the week before, and told a better story than the cruiserweights did. Strong mic work + two PPV-caliber matches + two more PPV-caliber matches to look forward to in the coming weeks = 4.3.

Erin's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.0), SD! (3.5).

Matt Hocking
I'll spare you the grief. A lot of you have read what I said on the boards and in chat about it. I'm not going to change anybody's minds by getting up on my soapbox here. I'd do my Satire-riffic little ditty here, but I didn't see Smackdown, so rating either show is awfully pointless. I'll just say that it wasn't nearly as bad as you thought it was. Really. I'm interested to see how the ratings shape up this week.

Smackdown!: N/A
As I said, I didn't see it. I could pretend I did, just so I can throw out one of my HHH/Ultimo Dragon jokes, but you all deserve better than that.  Without having seen the build for it, I'm not excited to see Brock/Angle.  They've done this combination too many times in the recent past. Neither guy can lose (if Brock loses he's lost twice in a row to Kurt and his monster heel gimmick is dead, if Kurt loses they give away a huge title loss on free TV, and Angle looks like a transitional champion). Plus, an hour of anybody on TV, especially free TV is way too much. They're asking two guys to hold my attention for an hour. On PPV it isn't hard; I paid for it, so of course I'm going to watch it. On free TV... I'm more likely to tune to something else and never turn back.

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

Jeb Tennyson Lund
RAW: 2.0
The good stuff on this show is so quick and easy to note that you wonder why they even bothered with the rest of the show. I liked the Jericho-Austin promo, and then Chris Jericho and Chris Tian put on such a solid match with many a great false ending. Hell, it was so good that the crowd stopped chanting "boring" and started getting into a battle between two heels. I also liked the set-up for Maven, the set-up for the main event and even the main event itself.

Everything else either left me apathetic or actually elicited anger from me. Kane and the car battery to Shane's crotch was outright objectionable. And you have to wonder how soon it will be before we hear jokes about Kane needing to jump-start his career, since it's dying (again) before our very eyes.

Once again, one segment managed to ruin the show for me. And while I ask myself if that is because I'm being too finicky or particular, I still have to lay the blame on the WWE. Sure, a bad segment can put you in a foul mood that colors your perception of the show. But I can't say that it's my fault that I stayed in that bad mood. Had the show gone on to be consistently good — other than passable — I might have had all sorts of stimuli to take me out of my funk. The show lost me, and it had ample time to try to win me back. But it didn't try.

Smackdown!: 4.3
I despair of WWE ever learning the rule that sometimes "less is more." Lesnar and Zach Gowen atop the stairs was a perfect illustration of this principle. For one thing, Lesnar is not the guy you want riffing and ad-libbing for five minutes of a segment. He was obviously flubbing lines and trying very hard to remember the key lines he'd been fed. (And the segment with Vince speaking to him was so forced that it hurt. McMahon should have changed his name to Basil Exposition. "I see that you have a wheelchair, Brock. Is there anything special about it." "Yes, Vince. It is a special wheelchair.") Lesnar looked pretty good in the end, but he definitely needs the "less is more" treatment on the speeches. It's better that he stands silent and has people suspect that he's kind of doofy than open his mouth and remove all doubt.

Oh, and I'm a little disgusted that my fears that Gowen would come to be used as only a sort of human prop have been realized.

That said, I think this show was very well done. The tag match was very good, as was Tajiri v. Rey. I kind of dislike the WWE squandering what little crowd sympathy Tajiri had regarding Eddie's attack on him weeks ago. But him being a heel has potential, too. (I still say the silent but earnest good guy who always comes up short has more chances to garner fan attention than "evil spitting foreigner.") Applause also goes to the WWE for editing down the bikini contest and giving us more wrestling.

Finally, Angle v. Taker was simply outstanding. I didn't read the spoilers, so I was stunned and rapt during the whole thing. Wow. I was actually furious when Lesnar ran in. I annoyed the fiancée by wailing, "Nooooo! Noooo! You ass! Why are you ruining it? Why? Why? Why?" If that match had a clean finish, this show would be rated a 4.8. That's how good that match was.

Jeb Tennyson Lund's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.7), SD! (3.3).

"The Immolator" Calum Macbeth
RAW: 2.4
Somewhat better than last week, but the Kane thing made me long for the days when Hillbilly Jim was teaming with Outback Jack. Really, are they _trying_ to kill this show? Something fishy is going on there.

Smackdown!: 3.8
Great wrestling, bountiful pontoons, and good storytelling. Except for the Gowen thing at the end. I'm personally not a fan of this type of ending as a way of luring people in to next week's show. But I think it's safe to say the SD! folks will keep the continuity going much better than over on RAW.

Immolator's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.9), SD! (3.5).

Big Danny T
RAW: 2.6
Same as it ever was. As Sandra Bernhard said in Hudson Hawk, "You cease to amaze me." From Shocking the the boss's sons Balls to Maven finally getting into a Main Event, and then almost literally being dragged out of the Ring by HBK in the first 5 minutes of the match, this week was another let-down that really isn't inspiring me to go see Unforgiven. Oh, and would someone please explain the logic of giving The Coach and Jerry Lawler away for free, but we have to pay for Coach vs. Good Ol' JR? Oooh, let me reserve my table at Hooters for this classic NOW! Everything on this show just seemed to be set up or go wrong, with the main event being barely servicable as such. RAW had better get on the ball, or I might just start forgetting to tape it every week.

Smackdown!: 3.8
Quickie review: Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, uncomfortable, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, REALLY Uncomfortable. The Awesome was able to cover the uncomfortable bits, though. for more detail, check the recap, Fo Shizzle!

Big Danny T's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.5), SD! (3.7).

Rick Scaia
RAW: 2.5
So I HATED Shane/Kane for reasons I've dedicated too many kilobytes to already this week.  It was bad in and of itself.  It rendered last week's fire stunt utterly pointless.  It got me mocked by friends.  And so I vented at length.  Now I'll step back and do the noble thing, which is to try to see RAW as a whole...  and when I do that, I see a great main event match, as well as a fun and entertaining Austin/Jericho/Christian promo that set-up not just the main event but also a sound IC Title match.  More than enough to keep me satiated as a rasslin' fan.  But when you have nonsense like the testicular defibrillation (thanks for correcting my spelling, Jeff) and Announcer Wars '03 (Does the world really need JR vs. Coach?), the good is just enough to bring the overall average rating up to... well, average.  I'm man enough give up my ranting and raving and admit this week's RAW was still no worse than mediocre as a whole.

SmackDown!: 4.3
Last week, the "El Paso Factor" was good for a few extra tenths.  This week, no gimmicks necessary.  Two freaking awesome matches (Taker/Angle and Rey/Tajiri), some good storytelling (Tajiri turns heel, Eddie/Cena, great pre-title match promos), and you've got me sold.  The main bone of contention: the show-closing Lesnar/Gowen angle.  I say it's the angle RAW's been TRYING to do with Kane for 2 months: big, over the top, and a bit silly and awkward in execution, but while remaining impactful and memorable in the end.  Lesnar bumbling his way through about 2 minutes too many of lines can be excised in future video packages, and what we'll be left with is Lesnar throwing a one-legged kid (or, SHHH!, his stunt double) down some stairs.  That'll play weeks and months from now in a way that falling into a flaming dumpster and electrocuting some guy's nads can't.  Gowen/Lesnar was not a "plus" segment for me, but it was soundly conceived in theory and not horribly handled in execution; so definitely not a "minus" segment, either, especially compared to what I've gotten used to from RAW, lately.

Rick's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.2), SD! (3.9).


RAW average: 2.48 
Actual Nielsen Rating: 3.5 (converted to broadcast rating)
RAW UNDERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

SmackDown! average: 4.10
Actual Nielsen Rating:  3.5
OVERdelivers versus actual rating this week.


Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.04
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.26
RAW is UNDERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.50
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.29
SD! is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 3
Rounds Won by SD!: 11
Current Streak: 3 by SD! (Since 8/22/03)
Longest Streak: 7 by SD! (6/27/03 thru 8/08/03)

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