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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The State of RAW Address
June 5, 2003 - by Emer Prevost




My fellow wrestling fans..

After viewing the last twelve months of WWE's RAW, I feel that an evaluation is in order.

From June 2002 until June 2003, we have seen a lot. Some of it, we never thought we'd see, like Eric Bischoff on the RAW stage shaking hands and hugging Vince McMahon. And, we have seen things that we knew would happen, such as Triple H's seemingly endless title reign.

But, overall, RAW has shown some promise of going back to the greatness of the early and mid 90s, but then flushes itself back into a blackening abyss of sorrow and necrophilia. With the problems I shall discuss here, you will plainly see that the last year of RAW has been nothing short of disappointing.

I believe that most of the problem lands on the man in the center of most of the problems, Triple H. I am not going to discount his phenomenal talent, and awesome work rate, but he is the main cause for most of RAW's sorrows.

I think it can all be traced back to September 2, 2002, the night Triple H was awarded the WCW--oops, I mean RAW World Championship. Since then, "The Game" has only lost the belt once, and that was to longtime friend, Shawn Michaels. It seems that as of this writing, the only person who has a chance of taking that belt off of Trips' waist is another long time friend, Kevin Nash. And, I'll bet ya that Hunter will carry the belt again, a month after losing it to Nash. I'm no psychic, but I have a hunch.

Another grim date is October 7, 2002, the night Triple H and Kane began their feud. Now, I know that someone who hasn't seen RAW lately would ask why that is a bad thing. Well, it wasn't that the feud was a bad idea. Far from it. It was that the RAW writing team threw in a necrophilia angle, and thereby brought all hopes of a decent program between two talented workers to a screaming halt.

There was also Triple H's feud with Scott Steiner, but I'll cover that one later.

But, I guess that most fans wouldn't gripe about Hunter's stranglehold on the World Title if their were some other championship matches to hope for. Sure, we have the Women's Title, and bless Fit Finlay, he is trying to get the Divas to put out some great matches, but it isn't the same.

Recently, the WWE brought back a long loved belt, the Intercontinental Title. So, we have something to shoot for. They gave the belt to Christian first, so they at least had the smarts to put it on someone who has shown worlds of promise. But, the WWE's master plan is to give the belt to Booker T. This isn't a bad idea, but Booker shouldn't hold a mid-card belt, not since he has announced his five times, five times, five times, five times, five times as WCW Champ week after week. Besides, the IC belt was to help push mid card stars into a world title run. So, I think that the belt should go to the likes of Rob Van Dam, Lance Storm, Kane, or the Hurricane. I don't care if these guys have held the belt in the past. They still need decent pushes.

But, some fans are clamoring for the Hardcore Title to return. For those who really want that, I have a few simple questions for you, do you really want to see that tattered belt being put up twenty-four seven again? Do you want to see a belt meant for hardcore athletes go to a more technical star like Lance Storm (they gave it to him in WCW, and Vince is in nostalgia mode, remember that)? Do you want to see an entertaining, yet bottom of the barrel belt go to someone who needs a push, like Tommy Dreamer or The Hurricane?

But, like I said, Triple H's backstage stroke is only one of the woes that has befallen RAW over the last year. There's also the WWE's signing of Scott Steiner, Goldberg, and The Legion Of Doom. These three "ratings magnets" have driven away more fans then they have attracted. Sure, Steiner and Goldberg each had a ratings surge, but they didn't keep the ratings up. And as for the LOD, I have tarnished their good name enough in an earlier article, so I won't bore you with more.

Steiner first arrived on WWE TV in 1993, but that was a happier time. When he came back in 2002, he had changed from a talented young superstar to a washed up pile of steroid gained muscle and nauseatingly large bulging veins.

He was immediately thrown into a championship match with Triple H (see, I told you I'd cover it later), and the results were boring. Steiner was blown up after just a few minutes and Triple H had to carry him the whole match.

After that debacle, you would think that the WWE would have wised up and kept Steiner away from any more title shots. Did they? Hell no! One month later, at No Way Out, an almost identical match took place. And, just like the previous match, fans went to the bathroom and shut off their TV sets. Finally after it bombed twice, the feud ended and Scott Steiner hasn't been in any big feuds since then, unless you count Chris Nowinski, La Resistance, or Test as major feuds. But, if you think those are major feuds, you should seek help.

As for Bill Goldberg, he never impressed me. Even when he was in WCW his only good match was carried all the way by "Diamond" Dallas Page, but that has no place when talking about Goldberg's recent RAW run.

Essentially, Goldberg is, was, and always will be a 2D character. Since Bill only knows a few moves (punch, kick, career ending superkick, spear, & Jackhammer), his matches are rather short and dull. Sure, he throws in a suplex or two here and there, but so does Scott Steiner, and we all know how much of a winner he is.

Right now, Goldberg is being groomed for a WWE World Title run. We all know that he will get the title, because he refuses to job to anyone. So, now, instead of just having the Kliq's stroke and massive combined ego, we also have to deal with some guy who thinks he's top dog just because he was "'Da Man" in a company that was going belly up.

That seems to be a major problem with RAW, too much ego. Every day, you hear about another backstage fight, or another person demanding something backstage on RAW. It is said that there is always some kind of backstage tension on RAW, and the proof is here in black and white. Triple H never loses his title, and Goldberg never loses period.

No wonder fans are running from RAW like rats scurrying from a sinking ship, we all know that the end result of every show is Goldberg getting a push he doesn't deserve, Triple H will keep his title (or drop it to a friend), and all the real talent is either on SmackDown! or stuck in the muck that is mid-card hell.

But, with all the negatives, there are some positives. The did bring back the Intercontinental Title, and Christian is the current champ. That much is good. The WWE also fired Jeff Hardy, another plus.

Before anyone starts sending my nasty e-mails, let me explain something. Yes, Jeff was supposed to be the Shawn Michaels of the Hardy Boyz, but he didn't assert himself and started taking drugs and his work rate suffered for it. While some people can't take the truth, it's right there. Jeff didn't cut it, and now rather than be the Shawn Michaels of the Hardy Boyz, he turned into the Marty Jannetty. But, maybe Jeff lost his edge from the drugs and the lack of Matt Hardy. Maybe Jeff is like Stevie Ray, really good with a Booker T. (Matt Hardy in Jeff's case), but unable to make the jump into singles action.

Speaking of hiring and firing, another downside to the last year was the terminations of D-Lo Brown and Raven. Once more, I ask that no one send my hate mail until I speak my piece.

Most people would agree that firing Raven was a dumb move on the WWE's part, but most wouldn't say the same for D-Lo. Well, D-Lo had a boatload of talent. Think about it, he really didn't need to have a flashy gimmick (or even a decent catchphrase), and he still had some fans. The only gimmick that almost killed his career was the Lo Down gimmick (but that is another story for another day), and even that was tolerable.


But, when I think about it, I am happy that D-Lo and Raven are gone. I was a fan of both, but they were both misused by the WWE and would have stayed in mid-card hell for the rest of their careers.

Look at it. Raven, who is World Champion material, was reduced to main eventing every single Heat. How can something like this happen? They were giving title shots to Bubba Ray Dudley for God's sake! Raven could have been the dark horse champion, a man no one thought could beat Triple H. But, no, they shipped him to Heat and left him their to rot.

D-Lo too, was a Heat regular who could have gone to WWE greatness. Oh, well, I guess both guys can just become NWA: TNA greats then. Vince's loss.

Before I continue, if I have anything else negative to say about RAW, I'll say it. I don't care if I said I was done. If the negative works in hand with the positive, then so be it.

Sticking to hiring and firing, the return of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was a breath of fresh air for us all. Even without being in the ring, he works great as co-General Manager of RAW. But, Austin leads to a few negatives to go with the major positive of coming back.

In the past year, Austin has walked away, came back, "fired", and "re-hired" as the Co-GM. His first walkout was a thorn in the side of wrestling fans all over the world. It would have been different if Austin would have walked out on house show, but he walked out before a RAW broadcast, and this forced the bookers to do something that doesn't come easy, writing something new on the fly.

Not surprisingly, Austin's return is welcomed by the WWE, because they see that Austin was the Dutch boy with his (middle) finger in the dike that was the WWE. But, even after he was made Co-GM, something wasn't right.

For the first three weeks of Austin's run as Bischoff's partner lead to beer bashes. Not just one, but three. The first and third were widely heralded ('Steve Austin's Beer Bash', & 'Steve Austin's Memorial Day Celebration'), but the second was just Austin coming out after a match and saying, "It's time for another beer bash.. the second one only counts as a beer bash because Austin announced it as such.

It got dull a minute into the first one, so you know my stand on the other two. What was so damn great about someone chugging beer after beer after beer that was so damn interesting? Maybe I'm missing something from not drinking, who knows. I just know that one beer bash was fine, two was tolerable, and the third was just a way to eat up time on Memorial Day.

Speaking of holidays:

RAW has fallen on a few holidays over the past year, the biggest ones being Memorial Day and Marin Luther King, Jr. day. Both of these RAWs proved to us all that when in doubt, so something real dumb on the holidays. If it isn't D-Lo breaking out his racist gimmick officially on MLK Day, it's La Resistance interrupting the singing of America the beautiful on Memorial Day.

What if Easter somehow (although impossibly) landed on a Monday? What would we see? My guess is the "resurrection" of an older star, or someone like Tommy Dreamer beating the crap out of an Easter Bunny with a kendo stick. But, since that will never happen, let's just not dwell on it.

Overall, I feel that the state of RAW is: On the edge. It is so close to failure you can smell it. But, dammit, Vince and company are trying (we all hope) to make it a better show and making the fans happy.

Hey, wait a sec. I just thought of something. I've been looking at this all wrong. Earlier, I blamed Triple H for most of the problems on RAW, but I was wrong. Who is allowing Trips to hold on to that belt for so long? Who thought that Scott Steiner and Goldberg would help RAW? Who writes all the WWE checks? The answer is simple. It's Vincent Kennedy McMahon. If anyone should be crucified (literally) for giving us such drek in the last year, it's the boss himself, Vinnie Mac! So, send all your hate mail to Vince, he'd really love to hear from you.

Oh, one final thought;


I didn't mention the RAW X show. I didn't because that could be an article in and of itself. So, by leaving it out here, I have more to work with. Besides, we all know that the RAW X Special was an embarrassment anyway, why remind the world of it now. I'll wait until RAW turns 11, then I'll lower the boom on the WWE.

by Emer Prevost


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