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OO BATTLE OF THE BRANDS   
RAW vs. SmackDown!:  Who Wins?  

Week Ending December 12, 2003

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

 

OOficial Brand of the Week:
SmackDown!
RAW:
3.14 --/-- SD!: 3.38

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 (12/08/03) vs. SMACKDOWN! (12/11/03)  
OOFICIAL RATINGS

Erin Anderson  
RAW: 3.0 

Only two things on this show interested me: the Rock's surprise cameo and the developments in "The Bet" storyline.

Rocky's appearance, while pretty much useless in the grand scheme of things, was a breath of fresh air on the show. For 15 minutes, he did was he does best: play to the crowd and make everybody laugh. His segment with Mick Foley and La Resistance was absolute gold.

The Love Rhombus got even more interesting this week, and picked things up after last week's missteps. It even managed to play a part in the two best matches of the night (Dudleys v. Vitamin C and the women's tag). I know that the Battle of the Sexes won't be a real match, but it should be a very good "sports entertainment" segment, and I can't wait to see how it plays out.

As for the rest of RAW right now, I could take it or leave it. I'm not really actively bored by anything except for Mark Henry, but I don't have any emotional stock in most of the storylines they've got going. I'm incredibly apathetic to Armageddon, and were I not seeing it in a bar for free, I sure as hell wouldn't order it.

Smackdown!: 2.9
Like RAW, only two things on this show interested me. I'm intrigued to see where Benoit's title chase is going (I see either a Stephanie McMahon return or a win at the Royal Rumble; either case should be interesting to watch). Also, Shannon Moore's surprise win over A-train could very easily set him up as the next Spike Dudley. I'm glad to see this kid getting pushed, and happier to see him finally win. This past month of beatdowns had been incredibly boring.

There was some good wrestling from TWGTT and Los Guerreros, but the tension between Eddie and Chavo has been going on for so long now that when they do split, my reaction will be "Finally!" as opposed to, "Holy shit, Chavo turned on Eddie!" I'm tired of that storyline. Bradshaw v. Rhyno had no discernable purpose for existing. Ditto for the Cat. Cena had a killer promo, but I'm viewing this feud as a means to get the U.S. Title off the Big Show and nothing more. Rey v. Lesnar was pretty good as well, but won't mean anything in terms of storylines.

The good was pretty good and the bad was VERY bad on this show, but I can sum it up with two words: treading water. Stale and meaningless storylines (except for Benoit's) are killing it, and I just can't bring myself to rate it higher than RAW this week. It's the show that interested me more.

Erin's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.9), SD! (3.2).

 
Canadian Bulldog

RAW: 3.0
Another solidly in the middle show, boosted by a nice surprise.
  The good: Finally.... The Rock... has come back... to increase the ratings! Okay, so it wasn't a huge pop, but every little bit helps. His appearance was not only unexpected, but entertaining as hell. That has to be the first time I've enjoyed a La Resistance segment.... Christian and Jericho v. The Dudleyz was quite well done, and I actually didn't mind the interaction with Trish and Lita beforehand....The six-man was designed to make Mark Henry look (even more) like a monster and further his feud with Booker T, so mission accomplished there.  

The bad: I still say Goldberg v. Kane should have been the PPV, but barring that, it should have been at least saved as a one-on-one until later. Not only did it accomplish nothing, it actually took away from the level of interest for a future singles match. Good going, guys. Batista v. RVD was pretty terrible, and did surprisingly little to build up to their respective Armageddon matches. As I said last week, THAT was a better show to do the hard sell for the PPV than this one was.    

SmackDown:  3.5
Whether he's part of the writing team or not, I'm starting to feel Paul Heyman's influence on the product again. And if it isn't him, someone's doing a very good impersonation.
   

The good: Lesnar is getting better as a heel with every appearance, and I've got to say that his work with Heyman is much more convincing than it ever was with Vince McMahon (probably because Heyman lets Brock be Brock). His matchup with Mysterio was a natural given where the event was taking place, and it was a decent bout, given the natural clash of styles there. I for one wouldn't be opposed to a rematch.... Even though I like him better as the monster heel, I have to give Big Show `stupid mad props' for letting his charisma shine through again. The battle rap segment was great, and it shows me why Show seriously CAN be one of the most underrated mic guys in the company....I've said it before and I'll say it again: John Cena is the company's best shot at recreating Steve Austin.... Los Guerreros v. WGTT was one of the best encounters these guys have had, and that's saying something. Both teams were crisp and able to tell a nice story, besides the obvious `Chavo's about to turn' one.    

The bad: Can we please, please, please stop with The Cat? I'm sure his momma is a big fan of the show and all but... she's got to be about the only one pulling for this push.... Bradshaw v. Rhyno royally stunk up the joint. I'm beginning to think Mr. Bradshaw should call it day; there aren't too many people left he can have a decent match with.... Shannon Moore's Spike-Dudley-in-ECW style push is admirable (hmm, wonder who came up with that storyline?), but there's nothing to keep me interested in the guy. He's a very good wrestler, but apart from playing Matt Hardy's sidekick, Moore's got nothing.

Canadian Bulldog's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.1), SD! (2.9).


Matt Hocking
RAW:  3.6
JR:  Oh my gawd King!  It's the Rock!
JL:  I know!  Can you believe it!
JR:  And How about the rest of the show!  They...uh...um....
JL:  Well, Goldberg...uh....
JR:  MICK FOL...Wait.  That was part of the Rock thing.
JL:  Yeah...anyway...here's our guest, Matt Hardy.
MH:  VeeeeOneaaaah!  I'm glad to be here, and I'm glad to have a match on PPV.  Oh, wait.  I don't.  This is no better than being on Smackdown.  At least there I got to job to Zach Gowen.  Geez, even MARK HENRY has a PPV match.
MH:  You hold on there a second, I'm gonna say...something....
MH:  Matt, Mark.  Settle down.  I'm sure there's a fair and equitable way I can solve this in the Satire!
MH:  I doubt it.
MH:  Go to...uh...Go to...hell....
MH:  Dammit, I give up.
JR:  ROCK!  5!!
JL:  ROCK!  5!!
MH:  3.6.  It didn't do much to sell the PPV, but it was a nice little show with an awesome guest appearence.  Plus, no HHH!
HHH:  Alright, who said that?
MH:  Wouldn't you like to know?

SmackDown!:  3.3

MC:  OMFG!  Rey Misterio's main eventing the show!!
TZ:  Getting over the pointlessness of that match for a minute, are we seriously considering Bob Holly v. Brock Lesner for Royal Rumble?
MC:  Uh...BATTLE RAP!  DANCING!  AIN'T NOTHING GONNA BREAK MY STRIDE....
TZ:  I mean...Bob Holly?
BH:  What's wrong with that?
TZ:  You're...Bob Holly.
BH:  I've paid my dues.
TZ:  Come on, man.  I don't care if you've paid your dues or showed your loyalty.  You're still bob Holly.
BH:  Shut u...waaaaaaah...It's true.  What is Vince thinking?
TZ:  It's ok, you'll be back to Velocity in no time.  As for the show.  I
think the Cat skit just about summed everything up.  3.3.
BH:  *sniffle*  3.3?  More like 5.0.  Needs more Bob Holly!
TZ:  *sigh*
MC:  5.  No where the hell are my pants?

Matt's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.6), SD! (3.3).

Jeb Lund 
RAW: 2.8
What a joy it is to be back here writing reviews for Body Odor Tuberculosis! Sorry, but when Rick types out BOTB, that's what I think of.

Let me tell you a little story. About four months ago, I really stopped caring about what happened on WWE TV. Convinced by the structure of WWE programming that important and memorable stuff would only happen once every four weeks, I basically stopped getting fired up about anything other than the pay-per-views. But, I felt obligated to continue reviewing shows for Battle of the Brands.

So I would chat with fellow OO faithful during RAW. Making jokes and goofing off ameliorated the drudgery of the same old plots, the same old moves, the same old matches. For Smackdown, I taped the shows and speed-watched them, relying on that handy fast-forward button. For the most part, I didn't care. Yet I still took the time to try to evaluate each show on the basis of the rating it deserved, not the rating it got from my burned-out heart. Most shows, to me, were 1s or 2s, never spiking an appreciable interest. But I knew that the shows had earned 3s or 4s and evaluated them thus.

After I finished moving into my own home, my interest was back. I had (and have) more stress than I can deal with, but my enthusiasm for wrestling has returned in full force. I want to see the shows first-run, suffer through the commercials, not read spoilers and wonder what comes next.

And this week's RAW? It was as if the show was trying to shove me back into my little cave of apathy and disinterest.

What gives? This was the last show before the PPV. It was supposed to put that final spin or swerve on hot storylines... or at least add some momentum to them. Instead, the show seemed to suck the momentum out of the existing storylines. That's a bad situation, given that some of those existing stories aren't so hot to begin with.

I mean, Booker v. Mark Henry? Okay, I thought it was going to stink before Monday. But the plodding terribleness of that match made me dread the PPV: it presaged bad things. More importantly, it didn't do anything to add to the drama of the upcoming match. I already knew that Mark Henry is a big bad monster man. Now I just think that he's going to be a very boring big bad monster man.

Tag Team Turmoil? We didn't get any taste of the complexity and chaos that that match will be. That is the most up-in-the-air match for Sunday, but the teams involved seemed very separate and politely segregated from one another on Monday.

Michaels v. Batista? WWE didn't put any mustard on this one, despite the potential for it to make or break Batista on the PPV level. Taking a few minutes away from Henry v. Booker would have made their match look better and also would have given Michaels the chance to sell the match a little more with a good promo.

As for the main-event, Triple H's absence worsened things for me. Instead of seeming mysterious ("What can he be up to?"), it lent an air of irrelevance to Kane and Goldberg. I got the sense that, no matter what they did on Monday, it wouldn't mean anything because the one-on-one dynamic is totally different than three men in a ring, each suspecting the other. His viewing the other men from on high would have worked, dramatically speaking, if he were still champion. It would have been imperious but shrewd. In this case, though, his giving the audience a better taste of what's to come (and maybe attacking one opponent) would have, I think, done more to sell the match.

But the part of the show that made all of this really obvious was Rock and Foley cutting promos on La Resistance. It was so entertaining, so "electrifying" that it gave that segment an aura of importance and momentousness that contrasted with the rest of the show. That segment was must-see, and it had nothing to do with the rest of the show or the PPV. The best segment with the best performers involved people who would have little if anything to do with the PPV. As such, the PPV starts to pale in comparison.

Without that segment being there, it would have been harder to see how below average and humdrum the rest of the show was. Instead, it highlighted the shortcomings of all surrounding it. Everything after it was an unfortunate letdown. As it is, that segment dragged an often mediocre and sometimes sub-par show to a better-than-average rating.

That shouldn't happen the week before a PPV. I want to watch, and this show should have made me want to watch even more. Instead, it left me more ambivalent about the PPV than I was before.


Smackdown!: 3.6
This show would probably be in the toilet, too, were it not for two great matches with Chavo and Eddie v. TWGTT and Rey v. Lesnar and one solid one with Rhyno v. Bradshaw. The rest of the show was bad, bad, bad.

Heyman and Lesnar (and then Rey) went on for a full 15 minutes before commercial. Heyman wasn't up to snuff. Brock did his standard gum-flapping. And I suspect that, had the hot crowd simply not shouted "YOU TAPPED OUT" during every pause, everyone would have realized how soul-suckingly dull Lesnar is on the mic. That chant is his salvation, and it's ours, too. His mic skills are abysmal, and it's only sheer dumb luck that's given him that chant in order to save his every speaking moment.

And his tapping into "I could deport all of you Mexicans" racist crap might not have been offensive if the man could have mustered the will to be moderately entertaining. Instead, he was boring and uncomfortable-looking while making quasi-racist comments. In short, it was like watching Pat Buchanan cut a promo. Bang up job, shithead.

Then we had Heyman explaining Nathan Jones' "firing" along with a pointless discussion between Matt Morgan and A-Train about betting. Also, the loud affected whispers between them bespoke a burning passion for each other.
Matt: JHUSSST DOHHHHHN'T LHOOOOOZE THISSSSSS MHATCHHHH.
A-Train: DOHHHHN'T WHORRHY! IHHHH WHOHHHN'T. IHHH LHOVE YHOU.
Matt: KHHISSSSSSS MHEEEEE, WOOKUMS.

And WOW, the Full Blooded Italians run a betting parlor backstage. And they're FUCKING STUPID ENOUGH TO LET WRESTLERS BET ON THEIR OWN MATCHES. Seriously, who writes this stuff? Has it occured to no one that someone would just throw matches for the cash? If I were a wrestler, that's the first thing I'd do. I'd find the Jobbingest Jobber Who Ever Job-Jobbity Jobbed A Job, challenge him to a Last Man Standing match, brutalize him for weeks in order to drive up the odds, bet on him, then take a dive. Screw this wrestling shit: I'm going to make a mint, buy a Greek Island, rename it FUCKOFFPOLIS, declare myself Sexy Tsar For Life, instate the rights of Prima Noctae and make the place a tax shelter for lubricious Swedish women.

And who the fuck greenlighted The Cat's resurgence? He tries to act like James Brown, dresses like Fat Elvis and inflicts himself on women like Robert Plant at the Seal Rock Inn. In case you were wondering, here's the catchphrase count for his segment:
"Turn it out": 7
"Somebody call my momma": 3
Do you get it? CAT WANTS YOU TO TURN IT OUT! TURN IT OUT! TURN IT OUT! DID I MENTION "TURN IT OUT"? AND HAVE YOU CALLED HIS MOMMA ABOUT HIS TURNING-IT-OUT PROCLIVITIES? Worse, Cat being there inspires Michael Cole to bemoan the state of his sex life, resulting in these sorts of exchanges:
Michael Cole: Last week, The Cat danced with Torrie Wilson. This week, he's dancing with Sable. Two Playboy cover girls. What has The Cat got that I don't?
Me: A penis.

What else? Ah, yes. Thank God for Bradshaw. WWE is going to Iraq. Bradshaw notes that the American army has never been defeated. Bradshaw has never heard of Vietnam. Or America invading Canada in the nineteenth century. Good one, you fatuous jingo clod.

But, you know, it wasn't all bad. In fact, some of the good started with Bradshaw. His match with Rhyno started out dully, but the end picked up steam. The finish, with Rhyno hitching his legs and wrenching Bradshaw into a roll-up was a pleasant surprise that definitely added a dimension of cleverness to what otherwise might have just been punchy-punch kicky-kick.

Mysterio v. Brock was definitely a highlight, exciting and well-structured. I enjoyed each wrestler getting to play to his strengths, then being forced to adapt to the other. Sure, I never thought Rey had a chance, but the way the match played out, I started doubting myself. And, though not a Bob Holly fan, I was surprised and really entertained by his post-match run-in. Good stuff.

And Chavo and Eddy v. TWGTT was nothing short of phenomenal. Chavo and Eddie worked their family dynamic into the story told in the ring, both alternately saving the other while selling injuries. Both wound up being selfish and selfless, and Benjamin and Haas couldn't have been better in playing to those themes while executing solid scientific and dramatic work. This match was a piece of that greatness that all wrestling can be. And Eddie's cheating with an air filter to win the match not only hearkened back to Benjamin trying to beat him with the car's hood, but also to Eddie's pre-match conversation with Chavo in which both insisted that he and not the other would be the one to cheat to win. Great, great stuff.

Those three matches I mentioned saved this show from being a dull and directionless talky installment. They were fantastic. And, unlike Rock and Foley which highlighted how dull the surrounding show was these matches seemed to lift the show up and make it that much better. Plus, they involved active wrestlers. Smackdown definitely felt more like a pre-PPV show than RAW.

Jeb's year-to-date averages: RAW (2.9), SD! (3.1).

 
Rick Scaia
 
RAW: 3.2 
Rock, Mick, 15 minutes, and two chumptastic heels: it's pure gold, baby.  But it also had nothing to do with anything.  Using the Rock as a huge distraction, WWE managed to turn in two hours of TV on Monday that entertained on the surface.  But once you sat back and pondered it -- as you should ALWAYS do with every professional wrestling show show, especially if you want to have a fulfilling career in Internet Wrestling Jack-offery -- there was very little to recommend the overall direction of RAW as it headed into a pay-per-view.  Just one killer surprise appearance by the Rock that lent a sheen, an aura, mayhap even a TAINT if you whe-eeel, to 90 minutes of otherwise forgettable action.  Not forgettable?  Admittedly, they also nailed down a decent "save" of the Trish/Jericho/Lita/Christian thing, and used it for a quality opening angle which segued into the night's best match (Duds vs. Jericho/Christian).  The arm-chair booker in my wants to dock RAW points for not doing anything to enhance my interest in the Armageddon PPV; the guy who sits his ass down on a couch, however, was still pretty happy with who the company chose to entertain him on Monday night.  Final call: an above-average rating, and a gain of several tenths of a point over the previous week's sketchy effort. 

SmackDown!: 3.6 
SD! ends up solidly above average this week, as well, albeit by losing about half-a-point from the prior week's rating.  The show followed the same formula (great opening promo, 45 minutes of "bleh," and then a very good final hour), but bottomed out lower than the week before (the Cat, here's to you and yo mama) and didn't quite peak as high (both Rey/Lesnar and Guerreros/WGTT were excellent, though).  SD! also now seems like the brand that has it's house most in order, that actually seems to have a long-term plan; RAW has spent the past two weeks throwing shock value out on the screen (Mick, Rock), while showing none of the attention to detail and consistency that had been the hallmarks of the brand's autumn surge.  Those are precisely the attributes SD! is showing as they build up Brock Lesnar into perhaps the best pure heel champion since Triple H, pre-quad injury, as they plant the seeds for Chris Benoit to challenge for that belt possibly at WM20, and as they move forward with John Cena/Big Show and Eddie/Chavo with steps that are small but sensible for a brand that still has 7 weeks to kill before they deliver a brand-specific PPV.  So yeah, SD! was down this week compared to last, but it was still the show I liked better on the week.

Rick's year-to-date averages: RAW (3.3), SD! (3.8).

FINAL OO RATINGS, WEEK ENDING 12/12/03

RAW average: 3.14
Actual Nielsen Rating: 3.2 (converted to broadcast rating)  
RAW UNDERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

SmackDown! average: 3.38 
Actual Nielsen Rating:  3.6   
SD! UNDERdelivers versus actual rating this week.

YEAR TO DATE TALLIES

Average OO Rating for RAW:  3.16 
Average Nielsen Rating for RAW: 3.13 

RAW is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Average OO Rating for SD: 3.38 
Average Nielsen Rating for SD:  3.35 

SD! is OVERdelivering, on average, versus actual ratings so far in 2003.

Rounds Won by RAW: 10 
Rounds Won by SD!: 17  
Current Streak: 2 by SD! (Since 12/05/03) 
Longest Streak: 7 by SD! (6/27/03 thru 8/08/03)

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


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
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RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
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RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
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RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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