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RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins? 
Week Ending October 3, 2003

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


OOficial Brand of the Week:
RAW: 3.43 --/-- SD!: 3.30

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 (9/29/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (10/02/03)

Canadian Bulldog
RAW: 2.5
A full half-point gets deducted solely because of my three-year-old son. Just as the intros were starting for the Christian-RVD ladder match, he woke up crying, and (of course) didn't settle until we had a NEW Intercontinental champion. Maybe he's a Goldberg mark deep down, and was hoping that match made the main event slot? So, anyways, without that one standout match, the show was pretty lacking.

The good: Steiner turning heel (finally), the continued buildup of Jindrak and Cade, and a push for Mark Henry, of all people, were surprisingly pleasant character developments. I could see a Goldberg-Henry match headlining Raw's semi-annual "we don't have a pay-per-view this month so here's our best shot" show. Henry and Goldberg are a lot alike in that they both look awesome and, in short bursts, can be very tolerable. I'm all for building up Mark Henry in the short-term, so long as it avoids the inevitable Goldberg-Coach feud.

The bad: Not too much, really. JR-Coach was what it was. If I thought that Al and Coach were really planning to be in the booth for the long term, perhaps I would have been more pissed at that development. Kane-Hurricane should have happened a good two months ago (e.g. before his feud with RVD) in order to be effective. Austin's re-entrance into the arena was predictable, although his first appearance of the night (Highlight Reel) was delighfully reminiscient of the OLD Stone Cold, the one who didn't care about authority. The La Resistance/Glorified Jobbers bout was exactly what I'd expected it to be: bad.

Smackdown!: 3.0
Another middle-of-the-road show topped by decent wrestling and dragged down by pointless McMahon segments. Been there, done that.

The good: Lesnar-Cena v. Angle-Undertaker reminded me of those house show tag-team match main events they used to bring around the circuit where two seperate feuds would become one. I actually paid GOOD MONEY once to see Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior take on Papa Shango and Berserker. Sorry, I have no way of defending myself from actually wanting to see that atrocity, other than being young and a mark. Anyways, the match was harmless and (hopefully) helped put over the only two marketable No Mercy matches.

Hardy v. Guerrero was excellent, and the finish was one of the most creative I've seen in a while. I see these two in the position Rock and Triple H were in about five years ago, and that's a good thing. Of course, unless Eddie goes Hollywood (Cheech & Chong & Latino Heat, anyone?) and Lita suddenly becomes Vince McMahon's daughter, they may not have the same level of success as their predecessors. A decent outing from Tajiri and Kidman as well.

The bad: Can we please, please, PLEASE agree to never make A-Train a guest commentator again? I'll do anything you ask, even buy this Mr. America Halloween Costume. Anything. Just please do not put him in the announcing booth again. He was that bad!!!

APA should seriously consider hanging up the tights at this point, or going fishing, or giving out Wall Street advice, or whatever the hell else they want to do. Because rasslin' ain't in the cards anymore for John and Ron. You couldn't even allow The Bashams to go over clean, could you?
Two words for Big Show: Pepto Bismol. Trust me, big guy, the pink stuff works. This marks the second Big Show goes to the washroom segment in recent history, by my count, and that's really two too many.
And Vince McMahon's impending battle with Stephanie.... Nah. Not even gonna go there again. Sounds like my son's waking up from his nap, and there's no need to depress him too.

Canadian Bulldog's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.8), SD! (3.4).

Matt Hocking
RAW: 3.9
JR:  We only were on half the show, but what a half!
JL:  Oh, yeah, JR! It's good to be rating RAW and it's good to see the WWE Intercontinental Title Match be that good!
JR:  You know it, King! Hey, for the first time ever, we're going to have a woman doing ratings!
TS:  God... stuff a sock in it, King!
JL:  Can I use one of yours?
JR:  Ugh....
TS:  It's nice to see the women's division getting a push. It's not nice to have Jerry back while we're trying to do it.
JR:  I hear that.
TS:  Overall, I thought RAW was really good. It was just lacking... good effort, not the greatest execution.
JL:  I'll show you good effort!
JR:  King, put the strap back up. It was a slobberknocker of a RAW, by gawd! 5.0!
JL:  I'll give RAW a 5.0 if I can see your puppies!!
TS:  Just go buy my DVD, Jerry. 3.9. Good, but we can do better!

Smackdown!: 2.9
MC:  The hottest show on UPN continues to be SMACKDOWN!
TZ:  That's... uh... not really saying much, Cole.
MC:  Tajiri! Angle! Cena!!
TZ:  You managed to roll off the only three things on Smackdown that worked this week. Impressive.
BS:  Oh... man... I gotta go to the bathroom.
TZ:  Show, come on, it was just a gimmick. And a lame one. Poor Eddie.
BS:  No seriously. I just ate Paul London, and he's not been good on my large intestines.
TZ:  Ew.
MC:  I love cruiserweights! They starve themselves!!
TZ:  Don't start in on that again, Michael.
MC:  With all these people drinking beers, I sure hope Eddie can stop himself from attacking someone!
BS:  He did attack someone. ME! Oh... crap... I'm out of here!
MC:  But you didn't rate Smackdown! I'll give it a 4.958!
TZ:  You're an idiot, Cole. 2.9. The not wrestling was no good, and the wrestling was... okay.

Matt Hocking's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.7), SD! (3.3).

Jeb Tennyson Lund
RAW: 3.6
I'd love to be more specific in rating these shows, but frankly they're starting to go in one ear and out the other. It's a rare week when more than one positive and one negative stick out in my mind and help define what occurred on each show. Really, at this point, I'm having trouble distinguishing episodes.

Which is why the main-event ladder match, Jericho's incredible commentary and the Michaels/Goldberg v. Evolution match set this Raw apart as the winner this week. The ladder match was good, if pretty standard ladder-match fare. One high note for me: when RVD knocked the ladder out from under Christian and Christian fell, "landing" on his knee and basically giving us a great psychological high spot. If this was an accident, it looked terrible, and I feel badly for Christian. If it was intentional, it was brilliant, and kudos all around. When high spots and match psychology converge, you have the best reason around for gimmick matches. Now, if only non-Canadian wrestlers not named "Mick Foley" would learn this lesson.

As said above, I liked Goldberg, Michaels and Evolution. Mark Henry basically walking off with Michaels was weird and interesting. And any chance to not expose Goldberg's weaknesses but still keep heat on him is good in my book.

Hands down moment of the night was Jericho on commentary, though. He was throwing out pertinent facts, funny one-liners and heat-getting comments so fast and so well that (to paraphrase a comment a friend of mine once made) it was like a literary roller coaster delivered by a machine gun. It took Jericho three minutes to give us a commentary performance so excellent and topical that it immediately exposed the commentary offered by J.R., The King, Coach and Al Snow for the last six months as a bare shell of adequacy. Obviously, Jericho couldn't keep up that caliber of work weekly; but even going at half-speed, he'd still be twice as exciting and probitive as the rest of those yahoos.

If that didn't show WWE Creative what's wrong with the commentary on their shows, only a couple of flow charts, video packages and methodical torture over the course of several days can.

Smackdown!: 3.0
Lesnar/Cena v. UT/Angle and Hardy/Guerrero aren't going to keep me from being totally revolted by Big Show having an explosive case of the runs. And they're not going to make me forget A-Train's horrible commentary, wretched homosexual double-entendres and the fact that he shouldn't be wrestling Benoit at the pay-per-view. Nor will those matches make me forget that there is still McMahon crap smeared all over the show in a manner most closely resembling the problems Big Show was having in a bathroom stall. Nor will they make me forget yet another terrible and ultimately worthless APA match.

The problem Smackdown continues to face is that it coasts on the excellence of a few matches while hoping you forget the relentless weekly abusive discharge from WWE Creative interjected pointlessly in segments that strip you of your will to live. Eventually, one grows accustomed, even tired of those excellent matches. Whereas the stark repulsiveness of the McMahon or Four-Way Sex or diarrhea segments remains as vivid as ever. Once the startling appeal of great wrestling wanes, the power of bad TV grows stronger. Because bad TV is always bad TV, whereas good TV can start to become just "the usual." That's what happened this week; that's what previous weeks have been building to; that's what makes me dread next week.

Jeb Tennyson Lund's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.8), SD! (3.3).

Big Danny T
RAW: 3.5
Can a great main event bring up an otherwise lackluster show? Sure it can! RAW was your standard fare this week (nothing too offensive, nothing really mindblowing either) right up to the main event, which made the whole two hours worth it. Steiner's heel turn was as expected, and it's about time. The women were good enough for government work, and the Goldberg/HBK v. Evolution match was very watchable as well.

I think they should have given Coach and Al a decent amount of time behind the announce table before hitting the reset button, as it sounded like they were just getting used to the job. Their constant waffling between doing the heel announcer schtick and straight commentary was annoying, though. One second, they are being assholes about their win over JR and King, the next they are completely shifting gears by showing concern over Stacy. Not to mention the fact that the match where JR won their jobs back was, to coin a phrase, bowling shoe ugly.

Oh, and the fuck-up with Christian, Trish and Lita lost a few points. Come on, it's live TV. Who is going to tell him to "Do it again" so obviously with millions of people watching and keep their job? Ahh well, the Ladder match more than made up for it, and I was marking out harder and harder with every rung RVD climbed to set up for the ***** Frog Splash. Hopefully this means that when Booker comes back, he'll be injected into the world title picture again, and not sticking around in the IC picture. All in all, good show, perfectly watchable, no huge complaints here, just small ones.

Smackdown!: 3.9
Damn good show. Read the recap.

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

RAW: 3.5
I'm back to watching RAW, so I'm back to doing these ratings. Kudos to WWE for finally waking up and simplifying the RAW brand. We get a solid main event with a clean finish, continuing airtime for Team Green (Jindrak/Cade/Maven) and a decent angle at the top that doesn't rely on McMahons, racism or sexual deviancy. Other steps in the right direction: Kane continues squashing opponents, Steiner ends his boring face run, and the women's division keeps heating up.

SmackDown!: 3.5
Say what you will about Triple H's dominance over RAW, but the World Title stagnation over on Smackdown is much worse, in my opinion, since it's the same 4 guys battling over the belt week in, week out. I've seen enough Undertaker/Lesnar, and even with UT looking like he's got something to prove as of late, it's completely played out. Everytime someone goes through the table at the conclusion of Smackdown it's like deja vu all over again. At least there's some shuffling going on - Angle/Cena, Eddy/Show, Benoit/A-Train, and a new Cruiserweight champion. The actual wrestling content on the show continues to shine, with a solid US title defense from Guerrero, more innovative stuff from Tajiri and a decent mat exhibition from Benoit and Haas. The main event was supposed to sell me on two of the top programs on the show, but it left me cold.

Sayeitan's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.2), SD! (3.2).

Rick Scaia

RAW: 3.6
Well, we start with the RVD/Christian IC Title Ladder Match, which was the best of the week...  and we can toss in a solid old school Goldberg/HBK vs. Flair/Orton match, a quality promo/angle with the women, an excuse to toss mid-carders at Goldberg to make him look unstoppable, and generally fun (albeit not terribly pertinent) work from Jericho and Austin, too.  The worst RAW got this week was a bit flip-away-able and boring.  Not quite as overall "sticky" a show as last week, but still pretty good overall.  Especially when you consider the main event was super and could have made a winner out of almost any show.

SmackDown!: 3.5
It's kind of a weird week when you have RAW hosting the best wrestling match and SD! playing home to the flat-out dumbest, most embarrassingly unfunny crap-o-rama of the week.  Still, even with Big Show's Brush with Poop and my misgivings about Steph/Vince and Benoit/A-Train, there was so much good here, too.  Benoit/Haas was good, Eddie/Hardy was very good, Tajiri/Kidman was even better, and the Taker/Angle vs. Lesnar/Cena main event was the night's best worked match.  You give me that level of in-ring work, and I'll be able to forgive missteps elsewhere. SD! had more good stuff than RAW this week in terms of quantity; but RAW had the highest quality match and, importantly, no farting sound effects.  SD! does the J-O-B this week by the slimmest of possible margins. 

Rick's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.2), SD! (4.0).


RAW average: 3.43 
Actual Nielsen Rating: 2.9 (converted to broadcast rating)
RAW OVERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

SmackDown! average: 3.30
Actual Nielsen Rating:  2.9 
SD! OVERdelivers versus actual rating this week.


Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.08
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.20
RAW is UNDERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.54
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.27
SD! is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 4
Rounds Won by SD!: 14
Current Streak: 1 by RAW (Since 10/03/03)
Longest Streak: 7 by SD! (6/27/03 thru 8/08/03)

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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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