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RAW Rebounds, Ratings, Bass Case
Decided, Rock on TNA, and More...
October 9, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Here we are, smack-dab in the middle of another week...  that means one part usual routine (dissecting RAW, talking about TNA), and one part whatever's-going-on-in-the-world-this-week.  Let's hit it:
  • A lot of people were (justifiably) concerned that an overly gimmicky "RAW Roulette" show on Monday night might turn into a creative disaster.  No less a pundit than Jim Ross himself postulated that it could turn into a "trainwreck."
    But for a little over two hours, those concerns were groundless.  The Fed found a way to meld little bits of comedy with quality drama/tension and top-notch in-ring action.  It all culminated in the hands-down Match of the Week (sorry, is that a SD! Spoiler?), as Kane (sans partner) managed to win a four-way tag title Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match over Bubba/Spike Dudley, Christian/Chris Jericho, and RVD/Jeff Hardy.
    And then, somebody lost control of the steering wheel.
    Trying to follow through on the edict that RAW follow a more "entertainment-drive" template, focusing more on unexpected plot twists and wild characters, Triple H came out and announced that he'd discovered proof that Kane was a killer.  HHH's story is that Kane murdered someone named Katie Fick some ten years ago.  Kane's own reaction didn't tell us much, but he did seem to "recognize the name," which means the odds of anyone on the RAW team growing the grapefruits to do the sensible thing (reveal that somebody passed Triple H some bum information, and let us never speak of this again) are very long, indeed.
    Now, do I really need to enumerate the reasons why this is a stupid idea for an angle?  Well, I'll keep it short, and simply point out that (a) nobody in a wrestling audience knows who "Katie Fick" is and has no reason to care about her.  That's because (b) we know she doesn't exist, and the Fed's desire to create her out of nothing is a slap in the face to those of us who willingly suspend disbelief as we watch the things that make up good wrestling TV. And (c) this reeks of another WWE attempt to "go Hollywood" with a storyline that flails around trying to be a 10pm network drama series, instead of focusing on the elements that makes "sports entertainment" a marketable genre in and of itself.
    One thing quality wrestling storylines usually have going for them is that whatever the tension is between combatants, it's something that allows you to believe that the two guys are still able to work for the same company and settle their issue in the ring.  Anytime you go to nonsense like this, even the densest of fan wonders "Well, why didn't HHH take his investigative reporting to the cops.  Why in the blue hell did he think inside a wrestling arena was a good place for something like THIS?"...  it's just retarded.
    But, let's just say for one second that I am a True Believer.  That I honestly believe and am interested in the story of Katie Fick.  In this case, I am also probably somebody who was deeply entranced by the revelation (five years ago) that Undertaker's brother Kane was still alive, and not dead as a result of a childhood fire.  [Please note that when Paul Bearer made this claim, I was not really deeply entranced.  Mostly, I was just wondering how long they'd stretch out the melodrama until Glen Jacobs made his debut under a mask.]  So, as a true believer, my current paradigm has Kane listed as "missing and presumed dead" 10 years ago.  For him to have remained that way long enough to shock the Taker 5 years ago, he couldn't have been going around killing people, right?  Didn't Paul Bearer just lock him away in a room and keep him under wraps all that time, anyway?
    Even trying to follow wrestling's own twisted internal logic becomes an impossibility here...
    As trying as the whole "Kane is alive" thing was five years ago, I grant this one thing:  they had a long-term plan.  The melodrama paid off when an imposing Kane debuted and started to torment Taker.  It took four months of hostilities, and then they had a match.  It seemed like a big deal.  Even to me.
    So my question is:  does somebody sitting in the RAW creative team office have a long-term plan now?  Is there a big pay-off that fans will get into that will justify this hokeyness now?  Or was this just some half-baked idea that somebody rushed into production in the name of Crash TV?  
    I'll shut up about it now, and issue my verdict on these matters once we get more evidence.  But I'm not feeling particularly optimistic.
    What's a shame about it is that the final revelation on RAW soiled what was a really good show up to that point...
    Starting in the obvious place: the TLC match was spotacular!  Sure it was a lot of "we hit a big spot, powder out, and let two other guys work for a bit" in terms of construction, but I'm not so high-brow as to insist that those type of matches don't have a place in my heart.  "Psychology" and "workrate" are nice things, too, but the foundation of a fun match for me is more simply described as "stuff I know I couldn't do myself." Jumping off ladders through tables easily qualifies.
    Of the few who insist on finding reasons to gripe about the TLC match, some focus on the spot-centric nature of it... but most seem indignant that Kane was booked to single-handedly beat three tag teams.  That six other guys did all the really HARD work, only to have Kane be the one who gets to climb the ladder and win the match.
    Well, I don't know what to say...  the same smart fans who are the ones capable of realizing that the other six guys did all the "work" should also be smart enough to know that wrestling is FAKE and that winners and losers don't matter so much as fan perception.  In that way, I'd argue that none of Bubba, Spike, RVD, Jeff, Christian, or Jericho lost much by failing to win the match.  We all know that they busted ass, and we respect them for it.  They all "lost" in about the same way Eddie Guerrero lost to Edge two weeks ago on SD!...
    And from a booking perspective, well, I actually agree with Kane going over.  It keeps his "all three titles at the same time" dream alive (which is a unique selling point).  It gives him another big, convincing win heading into a World Title match against a perceived-of-as-unbeatable champ.  It's just the right play at this time, regardless of how much or how little you think he contributed to the match's fireworks.
    My only complaint is that they really missed out on an opportunity for a late-match "heroic return" by the Hurricane.  Book Kane into a moment of peril, have a battered and bruised Hurricane make a grand entrance and offer token assistance (it could even have been as simple as a distraction that allows Kane to segue into the final spot), and then have Kane go up and grab both belts.  I can't think of a single good reason why not to have Hurricane somehow contribute to the finish, especially when it would have been child's play to come up with a way that made it look like Kane still did the hard part all by himself.  If you ask me, it's not the other six guys, it's the Hurricane who was the big loser on Monday night.
    Elsewhere on RAW: they did a nice job mixing up the gimmicks.  The opening cage match was OK and provided the jump-start to a Booker/Jericho feud, too...  the "comedy" of the showgirls match was perfect, and they picked not only the right two guys for it, but also the right finish...  having Lawler win (and then go missing after) a "Victor Gets the Prostitutes" match was funny in its own right, and had the added benefit of allowing JR to stay on task during the main event...  I've got zero complaints about what Trish and Stacy did for us, and am actually pretty happy with the subsequent attack by Victoria on Trish; following up on last week, Trish once again got her ass kicked enhancing her sympathetic babyface appeal, while Victoria once again looked good in administering the beat down (though I don't know what I was watching more closely: the textbook moonsault, or the pants that seemed to be threatening to inch ever downward)...  oh hey, I forgot about this till now -- distracted by the hokeyness of the HHH/Kane thing, I'm sure -- but what was up with Victoria's promo afterwards?  Is she Trish's sister or something?  That little nugget might prove to diminish the appeal that their in-ring confrontations have built up.  Why not just have Victoria operating under the orders of a shadowy mentor who was once soundly thrashed by Trish (and if you've been reading OO for any amount of time, you know that my shadowy mentor simply MUST be Ivory)...  and lastly, if we're briefly alluding to Tough Enough trainers, we must also give props to Al Snow, who contributed a very stiff garbage-y brawl (beating Test) to our enjoyment on Monday night, too.
    It's hard to say HOW enthusiastic I'd have been if RAW ended without the "Murderer" claim by HHH, but it was a show that clicked for me during almost each segment... of course, why, now, do I have a sense of dread that we've got weeks of pointless soap opera ahead of us on RAW?
    CRZ's got a much more detail full report from Monday's show over in the CRZ RAW Recap.
  • RAW's rating was actually up on Monday, as the show did a 3.8 cable rating.  That's up two-tenths from the week before (which in turn represented the retention of the post-PPV ratings bump from the week before).
    The rating came up against not only Monday Night Football, but also up against a decisive Game 5 in the National League Divisional Series, so that's definitely an impressive performance.
    The rating for RAW also increased throughout its two hours, and again, I cannot emphasize enough what a good and necessary trend this is if RAW is to regain its old audience size.  The adjective RAW needs to exhibit is "stickiness."  If somebody flips past RAW, they need to see something that'll make the STICK with it past a commercial break.  And if they stick for the rest of the show, they need to come back next week.
    "Stickiness" isn't just about what matches and personalities you put out there.  It's about pacing (where you put commercials, placement of "Moments Ago" bits, etc) and knowing when and how to promote upcoming segments, too.  It's also something that the Fed is finally getting back to doing well...
  • Nicole Bass' lawsuit against WWE (and also specifically against WWE employee Steve Lombardi) was dismissed yesterday.  A jury took a very short time to determine that Bass' claims of sexual harassment and unjust termination of her contract were spurious.  Let us speak no more of it.
  • Reports coming out of RAW are that Bubba Dudley may have suffered a minor concussion in the TLC main event.  He has been pulled from weekend house shows, and will be re-evaluated soon.  
    Pretty much all the guys in the TLC match were battered and bruised, but Bubba's apparently the only one who'll miss any time following the high-risk match.
  • I guess if I'm talking about guys in the TLC match, I'd be remiss if I didn't pass along this little morsel about Christian.  Apparently, the reason the UnAmericans were disbanded is because Christian and Test both refused to cut their hair to present a "united front" for the faction.  Or so the story goes.  In coming weeks, this will also explain why Regal and Storm get pushed as a tag team, but Christian and Test get back-burnered.
    Sounds real silly to me, but it's a rumor that has eclipsed critical mass, so I might as well acknowledge it.  Whether I'll endorse its veracity?  Well, that's another matter entirely...
  • Lee Filas -- yes, he of the one and only Squared Circle Jerk -- has been experiencing some cabin fever.  So yesterday at work, he hopped on Lexis-Nexis and did a check on the name "Katie Fick."  Well, actually "Katherine Fick."  But you get the idea.
    Lee found that there have been four Katherine (Katie) Fick's to die in the United States in the last 100 years.  The youngest (at the time of death) was 84 years old.  That Katie Fick died of natural causes in 1987.  The Katie Fick to die closest to HHH's claim of "10 years ago" was 100 years old when she expired due to natural causes.
    So either HHH is blaming Kane for deaths due to natural causes, or...  oh my, the consequences of this possibility are mind-numbing:  the WWE made the whole thing up and HHH is lying to us!
    Screw you, and your Hollywood storylines, WWE!  [And thank you, and your Lexis-Nexis hook-up, Lee Filas!]
  • Any other week, this would probably have passed without a mention, but in light of recent events, it bears mentioning that William "Paul Bearer" Moody is leaving WWE later this month.
    Though Bearer has not been an on-screen personality for years, he's been under contract, helping out with the developmental territories and stuff like that.  When his current contract expires, he won't seek to renew it.
    It bears mentioning because, as outlined above, the Bearer character would almost seem to be a necessary one if you're going to try to fit this stupid Katie Fick thing into WWE's own acknowledged history for Kane...  
  • And lastly for today, a quick preview of tonight's NWA-TNA pay-per-view...
    It won't exactly be a selling point among wrestling fans, but perhaps the biggest news about the show is that Chris Rock has agreed to appear on the broadcast.  Rock is finishing up filming on "Head of State," and some of the scenes will be done tonight after the conclusion of the PPV, to take advantage of the venue and live audience.  In the past few days, Rock has also consented to appear on the show, in an as-yet-undetermined capacity.
    At present the most promising of the confirmed matches has Jerry Lynn defending his X Division Title against AJ Styles in a rematch from last week.  The two had a good ol' good one seven days ago, but Sonny Siaki interfered in the finish, necessitating not only an annulment of that match's outcome (Siaki helped Styles win), but also this second go 'round.
    TNA had also planned to deliver the six-man main event originally scheduled for last week:  Scott Hall, Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, and BG "Road Dogg" James against Jeff Jarrett, Ron Killings, and Brian "Grandmaster Sexay" Lawler... but it appears that once again Hall is going to be unable to appear while he attends to personal matters.
    A replacement has not been named, but TNA is hinting it could be a "former world champion."  Before you go off speculating that Scott Steiner might be tapped for the role, somebody oughta check and make sure that David Arquette isn't also starring in "Head of State"! 
    The only other announced match is the Spanish Announce Team getting a tag title shot against Chris Harris and James Storm.
    If you can't check out the show tonight, then come on back to OO on Thursday.  Scotty Nicodemus will have a full report for you!
  • And with that, my work here is done.  See you again on Friday with news and opinion in a fresh, full-length OO...


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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