Hello everyone and thanks for checking out News and Analysis here at TBL. I hope I didn’t come off too serious after last week’s debut, and hopefully you enjoyed reading. I’m hitting you with the next one immediately, so let’s get to it!
The WWE presented that one show they call RAW on Monday night. It was the first LIVE show of 2003 for the RAW brand and they did a fairly good job. RAW wasn’t “over-the-edge” TV, but the effort was there. Many expected a new direction from the company, seeing as it’s the first show of the year, but we’ll get into that later. Chris Jericho and Christian teamed up to take on Kane and Rob Van Dam in the main event. Shawn Michaels was added to the corner of the two faces, whereas Randy Orton made a return to RAW and was in the corner of the two Chris’s. Elsewhere on the show, Lance Storm and William Regal captured the World Tag Team titles and now seem to be aligned with Eric Bischoff who claimed that 2003 will be his year! Bischoff also announced that Vince McMahon will be making his return to RAW next week. Triple H and Scott Steiner continued their storyline with the use of a “Triple H Pose Down Challenge,” and Trish Stratus teamed up with Jacqueline to take on Victoria and Molly Holly. RAW’s rating is in and the show scored a rather solid 3.6 rating, off of hours 3.5 and 3.7. That was a really nice score for the WWE, as it proved that fans were somewhat interested in their programming in the new year, especially after a 2-week absence of LIVE shows. However, a 3.6 is really not that high of a score.
Come Thursday night, the momentum switched to the SmackDown! brand and it was a wrestling-packed show with great action throughout the two hours. Dawn Marie and Al Wilson’s honeymoon took a “McMahon-writing” turn, and for a second week in a row, we were left pondering what more could we possibly expect from that storyline. Big Show took on Rikishi and defeated him, as the big man continues his “big” feud with Brock Lesnar. (Ah, the irony.) Speaking of Brock, he had the honor to main-event the show for the second week in a row, this time taking on the A-Train and defeating him as well in what I thought was an okay match. Shannon Moore continued to be an M.F.er, and the John Cena/B-2 vs. Los Guerreros feud got some solid TV time as well. SmackDown! scored a 3.4 rating, with a 4.1 overnight score, which is down from the usual due to the WB airing their new show “The Surreal World,” as well as the usual strong competition on Thursday nights.
The WWE will present the 2003 Royal Rumble in one week and the anticipation for this one is on a high note. The final card for the event will see Scott Steiner and Triple H battle it out for the World Heavyweight Championship, while Benoit and Angle will meet for the WWE Championship. Brock Lesnar goes one-on-one with The Big Show and the winner gets a shot at the Royal Rumble match. Torrie Wilson will face Dawn Marie in the first ever “Stepmother vs. Stepdaughter” match. There’s also of course the 30-Men Royal Rumble match. The WWE has not revealed the names of any SmackDown! superstars that will participate but has went ahead and given us the top names from RAW. I would expect another match possibly to be added to the card, or maybe even two with Storm/Regal defending their tag titles (against the Dudleyz), or Los Guerreros doing so against John Cena and B-2. Maybe both bouts will be added to the card, or maybe just one will make it, or maybe none. We shall find out.
Speaking of the Royal Rumble, I am going to save all the comments for last week’s “Royal Rumble” edition, but I figured I’ll drop a line or two in here for each match. Triple H vs. Steiner has been handled great by the writing team as they have been successful at saving interest in Steiner and at the same time not really have him do anything that will show his weaknesses. Steiner hasn’t impressed me much since showing up in WWE and hasn’t even had an official match, however, with little things like Arm Wrestling Contests, or Pose downs, the WWE has managed to keep the feud alive and the fans interested. Credit should be given to the writing team for this one. As far as the match goes, it might end up being really bad if Triple H isn’t able or isn’t willing to carry Steiner through the bout. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit have had one hell of a feud, and I think the WWE did the right thing by having Benoit fill in the time until Brock Lesnar finally gets to Kurt Angle somehow. The introduction of Team Angle has kept this alive as well. The Royal Rumble match is obviously kept in the dark and they’re hoping that it’ll still sell just being the gimmick that it is, so definitely look forward to that. I’ll talk about the other matches next week, and I’ll also have full predictions for you.
Many expected that come Monday night on RAW, we will see a whole new direction from the WWE. It was believed that during Christmas break, the writers will take a change for the better and hopefully 2003 would be a better year with better storylines. I saw many reviews on-line, and it seems that people were disappointed with what the company has done. I agree that some things could have been changed immediately, but in my opinion, it would have been rather awkward for the WWE RAW brand to come LIVE, with 2 shows left before the Royal Rumble and head into something new. Maybe it’s best to let time run a little but, and hopefully the creative team has some ideas to pick up. What I’m trying to say in this short paragraph is that it’s too soon for us to want a change or a new direction, as the WWE is in the midst of other things they’ve already started at the moment. However, if they have indeed planned something new for their viewers, we should be patient and see what it is in a month or two, around WrestleMania, especially. Now that’s a good time to start with a new direction in the business.
Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin made their singles debut on SmackDown! this past week. (Though Benjamin has wrestled on Heat in 2002.) I must say that the WWE have a great thing going in Team Angle. Charlie Haas has that “it” factor going on for him and his presence and great facial expressions are an incredible touch to his character. It’s very important to have your presence felt, whether it’s a backstage segment or an in-ring interview, or a match, and I believe that Haas has been very successful at that. His match with Edge on SmackDown! also proved that he might not have all the skills yet, but is definitely impressive in the ring and very prosperous. I think the WWE have secured a solid performer with Charlie Haas, a man who has dealt with a lot in his life, including the death of his brother, who also used to wrestle for the WWE (in OVW). Shelton Benjamin is a whole different story. He doesn’t seem to have the charisma that a guy like Charlie Haas possesses, but his in-ring ability, from technical/mat-oriented moves, to his incredibly flexibility and use of his legs, definitely makes him a worthy player for Team Angle. The bottom line is, these two guys are awesome, and the WWE should be given credit where credit’s due for putting them on TV in an important storyline and giving them the head start. That’s how you make stars, and when they are able to back it up, you’ve got yourself success.
Before we move into other news, I want to talk about what happened this past Thursday night on Tough Enough III. For those of you who didn’t see the episode, Hardcore Holly and previous Tough Enough casts were the guest trainers for the episode. The TE3 kids worked a match with trainers and past TE casts. During the bout, TE3’s Matt was in the ring with Bob Holly when Holly snapped, got Matt in the corner and brutally attacked him with stiff kicks and punches. Not only was Matt hurt big time (his mouth was bleeding, he might have lost a tooth, his chest had markings from the kicks, and his eye and lip were pretty swollen), but Hardcore said he did what he did not because he could or had to, but because he wanted to, so that way these kids can get the idea of how this business works. I’m sorry, but Hardcore Holly should not only be ashamed and sorry with himself, but should be fined by the company without any questions asked. On the first episode of Tough Enough 1, Al Snow said that the first thing everyone should learn in this business is to trust the person you’re working with in the ring. Bodies are put on the line in this business and trust is the #1 issue once you’ve stepped inside the squared circle. Not only was Holly completely ignoring what the students have been thought (and how pro wrestling goes in reality), but he demanded that he was right in what he did. Matt shook his hand after the match and as Bill DeMott said showed his respect. However, I think Matt summed it real well. He did the right thing business-wise, and competition-wise where TE3 goes, but he didn’t do what was right for himself. What Hardcore Holly did on Tough Enough III on Thursday is NOT what the wrestling business is about and should never be aired, shown, or even hinted. Even if Bob Holly was trying to teach Matt respect, that’s now the way to do it. You don’t beat a human being to teach him respect. That’s wrong. As far as Matt goes, he’s definitely one of my picks to win the contest, and if he didn’t, he has now proven to everyone, including a veteran bully from Alabama, that he is Tough Enough and far beyond.
In a rather interesting piece of news, it’s been reported that UPN’s future is now in question. News broke during the week that due to the fact the network hasn’t been doing well as of lately. UPN has to get the Fox Television Station Group (owner of 20% of the stations that make up UPN) to agree to a new multiyear affiliate extension, as UPN’s current deal with them expires in the end of next season. CBS President Les Moonves is in charge of UPN and was quoted saying, “If the deal is terminated, there will be no UPN.” This also brings a question to the future of SmackDown!. SmackDown! has been the highest-rated UPN show, but due to WWE policies with UPN, it doesn’t really bring any money to the network. The WWE also takes of their own advertising, therefore get more money and UPN simply gets to “air” the show. UPN isn’t happy with what’s been going on and the word had it they wanted to cut SmackDown! to 1 hour starting 2004. With this piece of news being released recently, things kind of get put in the air. My take on the situation is for all the WWE SmackDown! fans not to worry for now, as the show will be on air for at least another year. As far as the UPN problems go, TV networks have them all the time and a lot of things are said in there which could later on not even be looked at seriously. There isn’t much we can do for now but leave this to fate.
Finally, RAW’s 10th Anniversary hits the air on Tuesday night! No guests are yet known as WWE is trying to keep everything a secret, but they might just have a problem with that. Why? Because for example, Mean Gene Okerlund said on Confidential last week that Bobby Heenan will be present, but today’s news is reporting that Heenan hasn’t been contacted yet and is not sure if he’s going to be present. WWE is reportedly still writing up the show, and it’ll become a mess if many people decline their offer to show up. Anyway, enough of this! Let’s just have fun watching the show on Tuesday. Here’s a quick run-down of the awards WWE.com has posted (no nominees, though Okerlund said they’re on there), and next to them you’ll see my choice(s) for winner of the award.
– RAW Superstar Of The Decade — Stone Cold Steve Austin or Bret Hart
– RAW Diva Of The Decade — Chyna
– Shut Up And Kiss Me – On-Screen Romances — Matt Hardy and Lita or Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
– RAW’s Greatest Matches — Anything could make it
– Don’t Do This At Home – Crazy Moves
– Give Me The Mic – Funny Promos, Lines, Reactions — This Is Your Life footage?
– Tell Me I Did Not Just See That – Shocking RAW Moments — Shane buys WCW? Bischoff on RAW?
– Network Difficulties – Edgy Moments You Never Thought You’d See On TV — DX time
– Fans Decide RAW’s Greatest Moment — In my opinion, one of these three should win: 1) Eric Bischoff is introduced as RAW’s General Manager; 2) Shane McMahon buys WCW; 3) Mick Foley presents “The Rock: This is your life!”.
This week, the humor part of this report debuts. In here you’ll find rhethorical question, interesting sayings, quotes, and much much more. These aren’t exactly as funny as I can be, but hopefully i’ll have better ones next week. Hope you enjoy thse…
* Are you pumped for Vince McMahon’s appearance on RAW or what? What will Vince do?
* Did anyone notice that Al Wilson had a huge hole on his boxers?
* Did everyone forget that a CPR could be helpful?
* The whole Al/Dawn ordeal was so they could debut a Stepmom vs. Stepdaughter match? I hope not.
* Isn’t it a bit odd to have the format of the Rumble be a bit different with the 2 brands? Where are all the promised contestants by the way?!
* Did anyone notice Goldust constantly bugging Teri during their interview on RAW?
* Have we seen the last of Jeff Hardy?
How surreal is it to see Bill DeMott cry and be the nice guy that he is on Tough Enough, when having watched him destroy just another victim beforehand on SmackDown!?
* Aren’t RVD and Kane a nice combination?
* One year from now, will Shannon Moore continue to get beat up for Matt Hardy like the idiot that he is?
* When will the WWE realize that racial feuds never work? (Los Guerreros vs. Cena/B-2)
* Is it just me, or the Guerreros have turned face?
* Wouldn’t it make sense to say that Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross are the #1 Contenders for the tag belts as they have beaten the champs?
* How scary is Brock Lesnar?
* Wasn’t that an awesome Shooting Star Press by Kidman?
* Who’s hotter — Dawn Marie or Michael Blaszkowski’s latest News and Spoofs?
* Wouldn’t The Big Show vs. Adam Gorzelsky be the best edition of PTR here at TBL? [Note by Eddie: We don’t guarantee you’ll see Big Show ever again if such an act happens.]
Thanks for reading everyone! Your thoughts will be appreciated, as I’d love to hear what you think of this still-new section here at TBL. Thanks for reading! See ya.