Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
Does anyone out there think that I don't believe numbers can prove things? Well, listen, the left side of my brain hits on all cylinders...the right side can be called into question sometimes, but that A-type personality is in a good foundation, thank you very much. I want to give you some numbers, and you can look at them at your convenience, and, afterwards, read what they are saying:
4.9, 4.55, 4.7, 4.8, 4.4, 3.7, 3.55, 3.7, 3.65, 3.6, 3.5
I know that you know what these things are.....these are Nielsen ratings for Raw. They are the 2-week averages at the beginning of each month of this year. The order is chronological....January is the first rating (4.9), and they proceed from there.
Average all these numbers out, and you get a 4.095 rating....in 2001, that number was a 4.758, in 2000, it was a robust 6.083. I got the numbers from www.thewrestleronline.com, if you wish to give it an add-up on your own.
I figure you can see where this is going. The rating of the Raw from 10-28 was a 3.4...that is a drop of 12% from the previous week, and is 19% below the average for the year to date. You know, I could see that, as that angle was so damn tasteless that it would turn off a ton of people, and that kind of movement in a week's time has precedent; often times, the Raw ratings have bounced a point up or down in a week's time.
However, there are more ominous trends in these simple, little (read as: SMALL) numbers.
The ratings are only 71% of what they were at the beginning of the year. Would you consider that a precipitous drop? I would. The YTD average is 86% of last years, and 67% of the ratings that Raw held in 2000. If you want to broaden the trend, note the numbers from the last five months. They average out to a measly 3.6, or, when compared to 2001 and 2000 numbers, a drop of 24.5% and 40.9%, respectively.
Look at the ratings, again. The June ratings were 77% of what they were in April. What the heck caused the ratings to plummet? Well, what happened in April that caused the ratings to drop? Hulk Hogan. His victory at WM2001 caused a bump in the ratings from March to April (of one tenth of a point. He won the Undisputed Title on the 22nd of April, and the wheels came off of the wagon. Undertaker's victory in May didn't help a whit, but at least the drop bacame much less severe. Even The Rock's and HBK's returns didn't help the trend, but merely halted the collapse.
The Roster Split? There is blame there as well, as that happened the week of 3-11/3-18. Since the mixing of the rosters happened to both shows, and the Smackdown ratings dipped at the same time ( the same ratings numbers for Smackdown were, starting in March, 3.4, 4.1, 2.9, 3.3), it wasn't a good move either way. However, the Smackdown ratings bounced back up....in fact, the Smackdown ratings have been firm, hovering around the 3.5 range all year (the average has been 3.7, but they are down from a 2001 average of 4.2, and a 2000 rating of 5.08, so the slippage has not been as dramatic, but substantial).
There are a couple of other things. It looks like there has been a firming around the 3.0-3.5 range...is this the core, yet? Is this the 3.0 of the ratings that represents the 'core' that I have been talking about? I think so...this is the group of people that will watch whatever Vince puts on the screen....as the ratings of Smackdown and Raw draw closer together, this proves the theory, as the competition on Thursday night TV is much more fierce than it is on Monday. I also see the drop (at least on a percentage basis) much more pronounced on Raw, as the writing has been wretched, and the majority of the talent has left for the greener pastures of Smackdown. I would even go so far as to say that Smackdown has become the flagship production of the WWE, replacing Raw as such.
In short, no matter how you look at it, be it in an objective manner, subjective number, or numerical supposition, Raw has been decimated. This show was the greatest production that professional wrestling ever mustered, with a gripping dramatic storyline and unbelievable writing, and it's quality rivaled PPV's and it's ratings rose to challenge the broadcast networks' ratings. Now, it is a limping shell of it's former self, resorting to questionable writing and grandstanding to acquire ratings, and raped of WWE talent. It seems that Raw has been abandoned by the WWE brass, for what reason I don't know. It is the best chance that the WWE has to beat the Big Three in ratings, since the Thursday Night opposition to Smackdown is much more severe.
OK....there's the column, written and read like a page from the 2002 World Almanac. I hope it makes sense....if not, let me know, via e-mail, or post something on the Forum, where I'll read it sometime this week.
Make sure you come over to bodyslam.cc, for news, rumors, and results.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! was taped Tuesday at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan and opened backstage at the cast Halloween party. The Guerreros (Eddie was dressed like Zorro complete with sword) discussed "carving up" Kurt Angle, then Stephanie announced that the main event would be Brock Lesnar vs. Rey Misterio...okay...Rey Rey looked happy about that.
The opening match pitted Edge against Chris Benoit. As could be expected, this was a great match. Edge seemed determined to work on his opponent's ribs and managed to do some damage - but then Benoit suddenly started to open up on his shoulder and suddenly Edge was struggling to stay afloat. Before long, Edge was reeling and bleeding from the nose while he continued to lose the use of his left arm. Benoit's dominance continued until he went for the flying headbutt and missed. Edge then proceeded to get a series of near falls. Benoit made his comeback by sidestepping a spear and then grabbing the Crippler Crossface - but then Kurt Angle came to the ring for no apparent reason. benoit released the Crossface to confront Angle out on the floor. The distracted Benoit was hit with a spear moments later and pinned.
Backstage, the party was in full swing. Torrie arrived during this segment - and so did her dad...with Dawn Marie.
After a commercial break, Torrie was about to confront the "happy couple" when Benoit burst in yelling for Angle. He searched the room but didn't find him and left. One of the masked revelers threw off his mask - it was Angle. Brock Lesnar arrived to be confronted by his agent, Paul Heyman, who told him in a round about fashion that he didn't think Lesnar can beat the Big Show. Then he said something about "making a decision" for Brock before we cut to commercial again.
Next up - the subject of the previous conversation took on Rikishi and proceeded to maul the big Samoan for several minutes, then chokeslammed him and pinned him. Rikishi never got any offense going at all. After the match, TBS called out Brock. Heyman was trying to hold the Champion back as we cut to commercial.
After the break. the Big Show and Lesnar had their tete-a-tete in the ring. Show told Brock that tonight he was going to "do something" to Brock "that had never done before..."
Dawn Marie took on Torrie in a "Trick or Treat" match next. Both of them wore patent leather for the occasion. There was a table laden with pies and cakes set up, so Torrie started the fight by shoving a cream pie in her opponent's face. Next to the "dessert table" was a wading pool full of chocolate ("...and who knows what else..." as Tazz put it). In moments they were both in it and grappling and slipping and sliding. Torrie then took Dawn back out to the floor and pinned her.
Backstage, Matt Hardy arrived at the party and reminded Tajiri that they have a match tonight. Tajiri, who was being hit on by Mae Young, tried to make his excuses and leave. But Mae was having none of that. She grabbed him and laid a big wet one on him (eeeewwwww!)
After the break, John Cena told Stephanie that her dad was in her office and wanted to see her.
Matt Hardy met Tajiri (who apparently managed to extract himself from the clutches of Mae Young) in the next match. From the get go, Tajiri seemed to have his opponent's number, countering his every move with ease, until Hardy pulled off a side slam that turned things around for him. At one point Hardy actually managed to counter the Tarantula - the first time I've seen that done. Eventually, he used a low blow (when the referee wasn't looking) to win the match.
Stephanie found a guy in her office wearing a VKM mask. It turned out to be Eric Bischoff. She tried to slap him, but Bischoff blocked the blow then grabbed her and kissed her. She resisted at first...then she started to get into it. They rolled onto the desk, scattering desk equipment. Then they both seemed to remember who they were dealing with and separated. Both looked somewhat confused. Eric left. Stephanie was looking thoughtful as we cut back out to the arena.
Eddie Guerrero had a match with Kurt Angle next. This was another great match. These two can really go. As the contest progressed, the difference in experience between these two began to tell. Guerrero has been in the pro ranks practically his entire life and his superior ring generalship was apparent throughout this match. But Angle can sneak up on you. In this case, a single released suplex throw turned the whole match around. In the end, Chris Benoit ran out and clocked Angle with his title belt - giving the win to Eddie G. Afterward, Benoit dished out the same treatment to both of the Guerreros.
The scene in the party room from earlier was repeated, except this time it was Angle looking for Benoit. Angle threw Shannon Moore onto a table then confronted the guy wearing the costume he wore earlier. He tore off the mask to reveal...Brother Love?? Then Benoit hit him from behind and the two brawled all over the room, eventually knocking each other out.
The main event was the aforementioned "David vs. Goliath" match up of Rey Misterio vs. Brock Lesnar. Misterio's clear (and wise) strategy was to keep moving - he even hid under the ring at one point. Inevitably, Lesnar snared his quarry and started to pound on him. Misterio finally came back with an attack on his opponent's legs - and then the Big Show arrived. Rey was thrown into the front rows of the crowd (a big mosh dive) then the Show started taking Lesnar apart. He rammed his back into a ring post, then clotheslined him before throwing him through the announce table. He was screaming for blood as the program ended.
Raw came to us live from the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts and opened with Eric Bischoff watching the tape of himself (on F-View) kissing Stephanie last Thursday. We then went to the ring for a tag team match featuring Bubba and Spike Dudley with Jeff Hardy against the Rosie, Jamal and Rico. As could be expected, the Three Minute Boyz basically won the match on their own.
Just before the break, Shawn Michaels arrived backstage.
Backstage, Victoria and the just returning Ivory discussed what was apparently their favorite subject - Trish Stratus. Ivory had a match with her tonight, Victoria, who is starting to come off kind of phony-sadistic, will challenge her at the PPV. This girl needs some acting lessons...pulease...
Victoria joined the broadcast team for the next match - Trish vs. Ivory. She appeared to be wearing one of Trish's hats. She sat down at the table and donned a headset. but declined to say anything, even when both JR and Lawler asked her questions. In the ring, Ivory was easily dominating her much less experienced opponent, but, of course, the ending of this one was foregone. Trish turned things around and won the match as Victoria sat there seething. Afterward, Trish walked up the ramp and finally saw Victoria at the announce table (which is away from ringside these days). She said something to the challenger, who threw her water bottle at the champ (gosh! how devastating...those plastic bottles can sting!) Trish ran down to that end of the platform and dragged Victoria up and attacked her - but Victoria quickly took control and was thrashing the Champion when officials came out to pull them apart.
Backstage, Victoria attacked Terri, who was trying to get an interview. Meanwhile, HHH and Ric Flair barged in on Bischoff and accused him of trying to screw them - citing the match he has tonight - with Chris Jericho in a tag team against Kane and Booker T. Bischoff tried to sweet-talk Game but HHH wasn't buying it. He replayed the footage of Bischoff and Stephanie - then asked the question, "Who's screwing who?"
Lance Storm and William Regal tried to rant some - but were interrupted by a promo for Scott Steiner. They were in the ring to face Tommy Dreamer and Al Snow. Almost immediately, the bad guys injured and then went to work on Snow's left knee. They effectively isolated him for several minutes.
Backstage, Stacy talked Test into cutting his hair, as the "next step" in her PR makeover.
Batista - new this week to RAW - took on Just Stupid...er...Justin Credible in a silly match
Triple H came to the ring and demanded that Shawn Michaels stop skulking around and face him here and now. Fat chance Gameboy! He got Booker T instead, who told him to polish up the belt for the Elimination Chamber match coming up at the PPV. Chris Jericho showed up and decided to try and trap Booker between himself and his tag team partner for the main event. Booker was toast until Kane showed up to even the odds.
Next up - Test debuted with his new haircut - a short crop - against the Hurricane. Another silly match. Stacy actually got the fool to say, "I love my Testicles!" after the match...
After the break, we watched on F-View as Jericho and Christian argued over the chance of getting Christian into the Elimination Chamber match by beating up on Rob van Dam in their match tonight (right...like that's gonna happen...). Jericho thought it was a great idea until Christian mentioned that it might be his chance to become the World Heavyweight Champ...
That match was next - Christian vs. RVD - Christian used underhanded tactics and then a mistake on RVD's part to gain the upper hand early on. It was a short lived advantage, however, and the match then went into see saw mode. As the match progressed, it became clear that Christian was outclassed as Van dam, even with a bum leg, won the fall.
Chris Nowinski came to the ring after the break to lord it over his home town crowd. he was in the middle of insulting them when Al Snow showed up. As Harvard Boy was laying into his mentor, Maven showed up and entered the ring behind him! Between them they sent the kid running with his tail between his legs.
Backstage, Goldust tried to relate to Kane - "freak to freak" - but Kane wasn't buying it and was about to pound the Golden one when Booker talked him out of it. Meanwhile, in another part of the building, HBK was about to walk into HHH's dressing room.
The main event was next - Kane/Booker T vs. HHH/Jericho. This was basically a one-on-one match between HHH and Booker as Kane and Jericho took themselvesout of it early on. As HHH looked to be about to win - HBK ran in and deliered a superkick right on HHH's prominent chin. Booker won the match, then Michaels addressed the crowd from the platform. he agreed to participate in the Survivor Series Elimination Chamber match.
Gosh - does that sound like a set up or what..?
At least that's the way I see it...
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