The Booking Report, September 1, 2003
The Booking Report, September 1, 2003
Sep 21 2003, 05:22 PM
The Booking Report: Raw (03.08.25) vs. SmackDown (03.08.28)
I really hope that SmackDown stops being pre-empted every other week because it really fucks me over due to my schedule. Had I not gone to the SmackDown house show last night, this column probably would have been up a couple hours after I got home from work on Sunday. For my report of that house show, check out the WWE folder on the board.
Thanks to everyone who sent me feedback on my Hogan DVD review. The format seems to be a hit, so I’ll be using it whenever I decide to review something else. If you missed it last week, here is the LINK.
Anyhow, this column is late enough as is, so let’s just get on with it.
Raw August 25, 2003
The McMahon Reel w/ Chris Jericho
Was this something or what? I really hoped that following SummerSlam Linda McMahon would have taken another hiatus, yet here she was. At least they covered that whole rape incident. Also, what was with JR and Lawler asking, “Did she or didn’t she?” I don’t know if it is really the rape victim’s decision as to whether or not they have sex with the rapist. Then we have Vince McMahon. Isn’t hogging up airtime on one TV show enough? What is the point of having GMs if Vince could pop onto the show whenever he feels like it and make main event matches left and right? On top of that, why was it even necessary to make a Chris Jericho-Shane McMahon match seeing how the ultimate purpose of it had absolutely nothing to do with Chris Jericho? It would have been nice to have an actual match as the main event. You know a match that includes actual WRESTLERS. This segment, as well as this entire show as whole demonstrates what is wrong with WWE. I’ll get back to this topic at the end of the Raw analysis.
Christian vs. Jerry Lawler – Intercontinental Title
I felt like tearing the hair out of my head once they announced this match. Then as the match went on I felt like rubbing salt into my eyes. I don’t care if Lawler wants to work main events on the independent scene against the likes of Terry Funk and Dusty Rhodes, but this is the big time and Christian is in theory one of the bigger stars in the company. This match would have been fine had Christian simply put Lawler away. Instead, we get the King kicking his ass for four minutes and on the verge of victory until JONATHAN COACHMAN made the save. This title is by far one of the biggest abominations in the history of professional wrestling. The color commentator was within inches of winning it, but only didn’t because the commentator from the second rate show interfered. Why can’t these writers get it through their head that in order to get a Champion and title over it needs to be successfully defended against WORTHY opponents? There is only one good that could come of this travesty, which I’ll discuss in the following section. It was pretty funny when JR told Coach to focus on the match and then segued into hyping the Shane-Jericho main event later that night. Is JR really that detached and/or senile?
Employee of the Month
I’ll admit that the explanation for Coachman’s turn was satisfactory. Could it have been better? Absolutely. How about going back and recalling how Austin gave Coach the Stunner a few months ago when he filled in for JR, all while JR and the King watched and laughed. Or how the King kept belittling him week after week? Those two details definitely would have helped the cause, but the whole “JR was mean to me” thing worked well enough. From there Christian joins the party. What I don’t understand is why Christian wasn’t pissed off at Bischoff for turning down his help because he had a fucking commentator as his ace in the hole. Finally to cap this all off Austin strolls down to make all three heels in the ring look like complete idiots. Who is writing this garbage? As I mentioned before, the only good that can come out of this, and the Coachman-Lawler match in particular, is if they put Lawler’s commentary spot on the line and he LOSES it. Sticking Coach with JR could be pretty interesting if they keep up with the tension they had on Monday night. Plus we would finally be rid of that pervert Lawler and have a real HEEL commentator for the first time since Heyman left. Will that happen? Probably not, but it is wishful thinking on my part.
The Unanticipated Return of Mark Henry
At least we have a second heel tag team on Raw now. Although I think we were better off with just one. I understand that WWE is stuck paying Henry a large amount of money because of the 10 year deal he signed in 1996, but why pay the guy AND allow him to make an already horrible show worse? Seriously, just pay the guy and leave him off TV. They seem to be using that very same philosophy with the Ultimo Dragon without thinking twice about it. Whatever. Henry was mildly entertaining in 1998/1999 because he does have a good sense of humor and charisma about himself, but it seems like they are going to be using him more as a strong, silent monster. Historically speaking, odds are he will injure himself within two months and return to OVW for another year.
WWE seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis. This is a WRESTLING company, not a crappy action movie production company. I don’t care what they say next week, there is NO explanation that will adequately explain how Kane survived and/or escaped from that dumpster without serious burns all over his body. Right now I’d put money on another resurrection angle where Kane now has supernatural powers. Maybe they were just looking for an excuse to give him back the mask, this way they could once again have him lose it in a match. I mean there is only so much that I can take before “suspending disbelief” can no longer be used. Not to mention the fact that SHANE MCMAHON will now be credited as the only man who could put away Kane whether it is temporary or for good. Can this show possibly get any more absurd and ridiculous? I probably shouldn’t even be asking that question at this point. It would just be asking for trouble. However, I would imagine with a conclusion like that it would intrigue some viewers enough to come back next week.
Dave Meltzer made a good point when he brought up how this current surge in the ratings is not because the casual fans are turning into dedicated fans again, but because people enjoy watching the train wreck that is WWE. This company has done something that WCW could never do. It is actually SO BAD that people tune in just for the sake of laughing at it and shaking their heads in disbelief. However once those people find that there are much more entertaining programs to watch on TV, WWE will be royally fucked because it is shit like this that will drive away even the most diehard fans.
Rob Conway has a name and a purpose
The complete absurdity of this feud has made it a weekly favorite of mine, especially when we get to see Team Americana get their asses kicked by those damn French. I really thought they were going to steal my concept for Conway’s gimmick. Eh, I wasn’t that off. Even though I hate the Dudley Boyz with a passion, they really should get some kind of victory going into their expected rematch at Unforgiven. I thought watching this was fucking hilarious. Following Conway’s whole speech the commentators go on about how America is so great to other countries and then all of a sudden go into their “We hate the French” mode. Not really much else to add this one since the feud is stagnant until the faces win the eventual blowoff. Come to think of it, once this feud ends, the only other heel team for the Dudleys to feud with is *shudders* Mark Henry and Rodney Mack. They don’t pay me enough…
”The Real” Gail Kim
By the way, don’t expect trendy segment titles like these all the time. I must be feeling creative or something today. It was nice to see that they didn’t go the usual route with Gail Kim’s heel character by basing it entirely on jealousy towards Trish Stratus. At first with JR saying there has to be more to her hatred of Trish I was expecting another Victoria, which worked but should not be duplicated. I like the twist with Molly bringing Gail into the company. Was Molly on fire on what? That scene where she bitched out Kim was great. Even the match between Gail and Trish was pretty decent. I would attribute that to the fact that Gail did not take any risks. The problem with her is that she was hyped as this female Rey Mysterio, which she is not, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a capable wrestler. It’s just that she didn’t live up to all the hype and that is what sticks in people’s minds.
Randy Orton vs. Maven
Now with the Elimination Chamber over it’s back to the Orton-HBK feud just in time for the Raw PPV. Personally I like Orton. I know that most of you do not, but I think he has a good look about him and better mic skills than most of the roster. His in-ring skill isn’t great, but you can tell that he is improving. Lately he has been working high profile matches and maybe that is starting to rub off. A mini-feud with Shawn Michaels wouldn’t hurt either. Has Flair been amazing lately or what? The man is like King Midas once again. Everything he does is GOLD. Well, at least his non-wrestling work. This match was nothing special, but it did a good job of refreshing everyone’s memory about the issue between Shawn and Randy. Hopefully over the next couple weeks they build on this some more because I think it could lead to a couple entertaining and worthwhile segments.
Could it be?
Will Triple H actually JOB the title? After nine brutal months as the Champion will this reign of terror finally come to end? Hell, even if it doesn’t at least Goldberg will be out of the picture. Is this a win-win situation or what? Either we get rid of Goldberg, or we get a new Champion. Of course there is always the possibility of having Goldberg win by disqualification. Make that a STRONG possibility. Without a doubt, this was a very heated way to set up the match. The crowd was really into it and even Triple H seemed to actually take his challenger seriously. Usually HHH stays calm, cool, and collected, but while with Goldberg he was getting visibly pissed off. I thought this was a very good way to start building towards the PPV main event, but I swear if they do not deliver with those stipulations people are going to be fucking mad as hell. That has never stopped them before though.
Total Wrestling Time: 33:02
Total Matches: 6
WOW, was this a miserable show or what? I estimated that about 45 minutes of TV time included at least one person from the following list of Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, Linda McMahon, Jonathan Coachman, Jerry Lawler (not commentating), Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin. That is a serious problem. When you devote upwards to half of an episode of Raw to people that cannot wrestle regularly something is very wrong. What good does it do if all the McMahons are in a segment, or if Coach screws Lawler? None of those people can sell PPVs and isn’t that the ultimate goal of a weekly free TV show? Same thing goes for house shows. If this group of non-wrestlers is promoted more than the guys working a house show, why should I or anyone else be expected to go to these shows? I want to see my favorite TV characters like Linda McMahon damnit. This was easily the worst Raw in quite a while. Practically no emphasis was put on wrestling. When it comes right down to it, isn’t that what people are going to be paying for? Keep in mind; I’m not even touching the ludicrous ending of the show.
SmackDown! August 28, 2003
A bitch and two slugs
Could this number one contender’s promo have been any more pointless? I still don’t understand why Brock is being turned into a whiny bitch. He is only the most threatening guy on SmackDown, so it is only logical to have him make excuses and cry about losing. Also, it’s really great that Taker was able to beat A-Train at SummerSlam because now he is more than ready to reenter the title scene. And the Big Show has been at the top of the card since last November. Quite frankly, he is currently the most credible challenger of the three. Now I just don’t understand why this needed about 15 minutes. All Stephanie had to do was start the show with one her quick promos before the opening theme saying that a contender would be crowned tonight in a triple threat match. It’s not like this lengthy shit added anything to the match. I found it funny how since Vince was taking care of “more pressing matters”, Stephanie was “allowed” to make matches again. As if she generally isn’t in a position of power. While on the topic of Stephanie, why did she miss three weeks after A-Train ran into her, but returned within one and a half after getting completely assaulted by the guy? Even Stephanie won’t sell for the guy they are currently shoving down our throats.
A-Train vs. Chris Benoit
I wonder if Sable will continue managing A-Train when he is sent back down to Velocity again come October. If Benoit is already feuding with Rhyno, why couldn’t A-Train job to the crossface cleanly? Plus it’s not like A-Train has anything going on, unless maybe Benoit-Rhyno will turn into Benoit/Orlando Jordan-Rhyno/A-Train. Now if that doesn’t set the world on fire I don’t know what will. I was really hoping Train’s push would be over and done with already, but I guess they want to ease him back into his role of squashing Funaki every week in-between the two SmackDown recaps on Velocity.
Cruiserweight Title? What the fuck is that?
I saw this same match last night at a house show. Nunzio is a really great heel, so of course he is rarely even on TV. I like the fact that Rey has now defended his title for a SECOND time since he won it. Although, Nunzio is the same guy he defended it against the first time. This division has really fallen not because of the talent, but because no one is being pushed. Noble is playing second fiddle to Mr. Ass. Spanky is getting squashed by everyone on the roster. Ultimo Dragon isn’t charismatic enough, so he was taken off TV altogether. Matt Hardy gained weight. Shannon Moore has been treated like a jobber from day one. God only knows what they are doing with Kidman and next week will be the first time Tajiri has competed within in the division in over a year. They have the talent, but none of them are used properly, so Rey has no one at his level to work with. At this rate their only saving grace would be to re-invent one of the current participants, or being Hardy back in. As a big Hardy fan I would actually be pleased if they did that seeing how he is involved with NO ONE in the heavyweight division. Don’t even being up the Gowen fiasco… Well at least they put the title on the line this week.
Number One Contender’s Match
Now I only caught the second half of this match and no I'm not complaining about that. So what do you want to hear first? The good or the bad? As usual there is less “good”, so we’ll start there. It is nice to see the #1 Contender decided in a wrestling match as opposed to the various other ways title matches are thrown together. In order to make a wrestling title look important, the challengers need to fight it out just for the CHANCE of possibly winning it. For a change the “bad” isn’t really that bad. Sure Taker won the match, but there is no chance in hell he is walking out with the title next week, so this can’t hurt the program all that much. Plus, Show got a title match last week and Brock had one at SummerSlam, thus those matches shouldn’t be overdone especially since there aren’t that many people at the time of the card on SmackDown. The biggest problem with this match was that Taker pinned Lesnar. Brock Lesnar, the guy who didn’t lose a match cleanly until just a couple of months ago. Why didn’t Show take the fall? At this rate he could job and not have to worry about it because of his size. Brock on the other hand is trying to get over as a heel again. Losing matches isn’t the best of way of going about doing that.
Eddie Guerrero vs. John Cena – US Title
None of us should be surprised that Eddie didn’t win cleanly. I mean he WAS in his hometown. That would have made no sense at all. Since when does a wrestler win matches in his hometown? Well Lawler does, but he is a commentator and therefore does not count. Seriously though, I was into this match up until the lame finish. Cena could have lost due to Eddie’s cheating and they also could have had a rematch sometime in the near future since Cena would not have lost cleanly. Cena was much more aggressive and dramatic in this match than any I have seen in quite some time. He really seemed to lose his cool for a change. It’s sweet that Cena is actually being used in a high-profile role following his dismal feud with the Taker. Oddly enough, at the house show last night Cena worked as a total face, so a turn might be in the works for him. I also thought that they tied the whole tire theft angle together very well as Cena claimed that Eddie isn’t the only guy who can lie, cheat, and steal. Good writing and wrestling throughout, save the DQ finish.
Grandstanding… Grandstanding… and more Grandstanding
Could Cole have possibly said, “grandstanding” any more times than he did on Thursday night. I swear it would come up in every other sentence out of the guy’s mouth. For the first time since his current surge of popularity, Eddie Guerrero was actually treated like a superstar. No one has gotten that kind of hype in a long time. I can definitely see him at the top of the card, although there aren’t all that many people for him to put on good matches with. Just Angle and Lesnar. I thought his promo was excellent for the live crowd, but at home I’m sure there are many people like me have no knowledge of Spanish. I really didn’t find his story all that funny, but it didn’t need to be because of the heat he drew from the crowd. Cena was on fire while on the stick as well.
You can tell that John Cena is just happy about being used in the way that he is. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. He is one of the few people that can say that they weren’t pushed to the top by the writing team, but by the fans. The guy got himself so over that they had no choice but to use him like this. Sure he isn’t fantastic in the ring, however his charisma and personality more than compensate for that. John Cena IS the future of this company. Or at least a part of it.
Total Wrestling Time: 40:03
Total Matches: 4
That is the most wrestling we have gotten in quite a while. Sure it was spread over four matches, but two of them ran 15+ minutes a piece. Any show that revolves around Eddie Guerrero and John Cena is a winner in my book. I would have preferred if that match swapped spots with the main event, but you take what you can get. This episode of SmackDown just seemed so unconventional, mostly because it included a lot of wrestling and put the spotlight on people not named “McMahon”. I apologize if the SmackDown half of this column seemed a little rushed. However, I only watched this show TODAY. I was out playing poker when it was aired in New York and yesterday I worked and went to that house show. Better late than never right?
THIS IS IT
SmackDown 5 :: Raw 1
Highlight of the Week: Eddie Guerrero’s Hero Welcome
Lowlight of the Week: The McMahon Reel
Total Matches: 10
Total Wrestling Time: 73:05
This week was different than most as instead of hogging up airtime on SmackDown, Vince and his demented family did so on Raw. I always agreed with the concept of sticking all the sucky people on one show, this way we are guaranteed one excellent program every week. That is more or less what happened here. Raw had zero chance of taking this week regardless of what happened on SmackDown due to the fact that more than half the show was devoted to non-wrestlers. Even if half of SmackDown were focused on A-Train, I would take that over Lawler, Coachman and the McMahons.
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