Torch Flashbacks WWF News: Raw earns rep as "comeback kid" - 5 Yrs Ago
Jul 17, 2003 - 1:52:00 PM
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The following is a reprint of the Torch Newsletter WWF Newswire from five years ago this week.
-Jason Powell, Torch assistant editor
* * *
Torch Newsletter Archive
By Wade Keller, Torch editor
Originally published: Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly newsletter #503
Cover dated: July 18, 1998
RAW: THE COMEBACK KID
In the midst of the most mainstream publicity perhaps in the history of WCW, the WWF put on a strong but not spectacular Raw and beat Nitro in the ratings for the sixth time in seven weeks. Raw posted a 4.7 rating overall compared to Nitro's 4.4 in the two concurrent hours (and 4.5 counting all three hours).
WCW put on one of the best first hours of Nitro ever, but subsequently still lost the first six concurrent quarter hours to Raw. Nitro's double main event of Hollywood Hogan vs. Scott Hall and Goldberg vs. Curt Hennig handily beat Raw's final two matches, Dan Severn vs. The Godfather and Kane & Mankind vs. The New Age Outlaws (with Steve Austin and Undertaker at ringside) by nearly a full rating point.
The biggest ratings gap came in the fifth quarter hour when Kane & Mankind vs. The New Age Outlaws on Raw went up against Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko on Nitro. Raw won 5.4 to 3.8. That was the high point for Raw. Nitro matched that 5.4 rating in the eighth quarter for the end of Hogan vs. Hall and the short Goldberg vs. Hennig match. It's surprising the dismal Brawl for All between Dan Severn and Godfather managed to hold most of Raw's audience (the rating only dropped from 4.8 to 4.4 when Hogan vs. Hall began on Nitro).
SHAWN MICHAELS RETURNS
Raw may have received a boost in ratings thanks to the presence of Shawn Michaels, who returned at the start of the program and did color commentary with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler for the entire two hour show. Viewers may have stayed tuned in in anticipation of Michaels potentially confronting DX or getting involved in an angle.
Michaels went out to dinner with fellow San Antonio resident Steve Austin before Raw and hung out with DX members after Raw. He is said to have cleaned up his personal problems and appeared to have his head on straight. The only question now is the timetable for resting his back. Michaels is holding out for the nerve damage in his back to heal and is tentatively confident he can avoid having major back surgery.
Michaels doesn't have a set timetable on his return to the ring. The latest odds are he won't return to the ring until Wrestlemania next year, but there is still a healthy chance it could be as soon as SummerSlam. With Hunter Hearst Helmsley slated to take on Rocky Maivia in a ladder match at SummerSlam, it would be logical (although purely speculative at this point) that Michaels would be named special referee for that match.
Although it sounds as if Michaels may be a regular color commentator on Raw the rest of summer, there is no elaborate plan for him this summer. Vince McMahon didn't even tell Michaels how he wanted him to portray himself on color. He left it up to Michaels to decide, so Michaels largely played himself. He was more of a babyface than a heel, distanced himself from DX for now, and ran off a bunch of humorous quips (many of which were obscure movie and cultural references only his friends would understand).
The WWF leaked word of Michaels's scheduled return to Raw over the weekend since some members of management believe a buzz on the internet is worth a couple tenths of a rating point on Monday night.
ON THE ROAD
July 10 in Boston, Mass. at the Fleet Center drew 10,629 paid for $236,131 (merch. $92,268, $8 per cap): Steve Blackman beat Marc Mero (w/Jackie). Decent opener. Sable came out and distracted Mero leading to Blackman's pin. Faarooq pinned The Godfather after a powerslam. Although there were no boring chants at all during the night, this match might have deserved one. No Nation members accompanied Godfather. The New Age Outlaws beat Los Boricuas (Savio & Miguel) when Bad Ass pinned Miguel after a piledriver. The Outlaws got a huge pop and did their usual pre-match mic work. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) beat The Rock via DQ when D-Lo Brown interfered. Before the match Hunter said, "Rock doesn't suck, he swallows." Great action in the match. LOD 2000 wrestled DOA (w/Paul Ellering) to a DCO. Paul Ellering did mic work before the match, insulting the New England Patriots players who were at ringside. They were playing for the camera that was there. X-Pac (w/Chyna) pinned D-Lo Brown after Chyna gave D-Lo a low blow. Very good match. Marc Mero and Jackie came out again. Jackie challenged Sable to an arm wrestling contest at Footbrawl. Sable came out to a huge pop and accepted the challenge. Jackie called Sable a skank. Sable called Jackie a "bitch" and they almost went at each other, but referees kept them apart. Mark Henry beat Vader via DQ when Vader used a chair. Stupid ending to a match that wasn't that bad. Ken Shamrock beat Owen Hart in a submissions match. Excellent match. Owen got a Boston Crab and the sharpshooter on Shamrock, but Shamrock was able to escape to the ropes and eventually locked on his ankle lock submission. In the main event, Steve Austin & Undertaker beat Kane & Mankind. Very entertaining match. Austin and Undertaker got into it when they both tried to get out of the ring at the same time and kind of butted heads. They brawled for a few minutes, then paired off - Austin with Mankind, Undertaker with Kane. The ending came when Undertaker and Kane were brawling at ringside and Austin hit the stunner on Mankind for the win. Overall a very good house show. They hyped Footbrawl at Foxboro Stadium throughout the show. [Kasan]
July 11 in Atlantic City, N.J. drew 6,261 paid for $161,264 (merch. $53,274 , $8 per cap): The Head Bangers beat The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette), Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) beat Blackman, X-Pac (w/Chyna) beat D-Lo, Shamrock beat Owen in a submission match, New Age Outlaws beat Savio & Miguel to retain the WWF Tag Team Titles, Undertaker beat Kane in a no holds barred match, Mark Henry & Kama beat Vader & Faarooq via DQ when Faarooq hit Henry with a chair, Too Cold Scorpio pinned Mero after Sable distracted Mero, Hunter (w/Chyna) beat The Rock (w/D-Lo) via DQ after D-Lo interfered after which the Outlaws cleared the ring of the Rock and D-Lo, DOA (w/Ellering) beat LOD 2000, and Austin beat Mankind to retain the WWF Title. [Chris Forbes]
July 12 in Bethlehem, Pa. at Stabler Arena at Lehigh University drew 6,006 paid sellout for $108,626 (merch. $39,860, $6 per cap): The Head Bangers beat The Midnight Express when Mosh pinned Bart in 8:00. Comedy opener, lots of stalling. The Bangers took the NWA belts after the win, but it was a non-title match. Faarooq pinned The Godfather (replacing Jose Estrada) with a powerslam at 4:55. Poor match. X-Pac (w/Chyna) pinned D-Lo Brown (without his chest protector) at 5:00 after a spin kick. Very energetic and entertaining match. Big pop for X-Pac and Chyna. DOA (w/Ellering) beat LOD 2000. Ellering had a rambling intro that got drowned out by LOD chants. Not much of a match, just a brawl all over the ring area. Animal went down after being hit with a briefcase. Hunter (w/Chyna) pinned Mark Henry. Big pop for Hunter who did a lot of great mic work. Henry was slow and plodding and even used two bearhug restholds in such a short match. Henry and Chyna got into some verbal sparring and even a bicep posedown. Hunter left the ring and took the mic and said he didn't know whose were bigger, but he did know that Henry's breasts sagged lower than Chyna's. Chyna hit Henry with a low blow while Hunter held Henry and the ref. Hunter added the Pedigree for the win. Austin & Undertaker & Vader beat Rock & Kane (w/Paul Bearer) & Mankind when Austin pinned Mankind at 10:00. Strange placing of the match right before intermission. Each wrestler had his proper intro. The Rock ripped into his hometown fans as trailer park trash. Huge chant of "Rocky sucks" throughout. Big pop for Undertaker and huge, huge pop for Austin. Undertaker blocked Austin from the last turnbuckle during the intro, but eventually moved. Austin was very active, including reacting to what was going on in the ring while he was on the ring apron. Vader lost his mask during the match. Each wrestler did his signature spots. Austin stunned Mankind for the pin. Undertaker and Austin had a staredown afterward with Undertaker pointed to the belt.
Scorpio beat Marc Mero (w/Jackie) after a 450 splash at 5:00 after Sable came to ringside and distracted Mero leading to the pin. Jackie and Sable argued afterward. Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee) pinned Steve Blackman in 4:00. Lots of nice work by Blackman. Not much crowd reaction to Jarrett. Blackman had all the offense until Lee began to interfere. Blackman got a nice ovation after the match. New Age Outlaws (w/Chyna) beat Savio & Jesus when Billy Gunn pinned Jesus in 5:00. Usual high-energy intros with the crowd voicing along. In the main event, Ken Shamrock beat Owen Hart via submission. Owen had the Boston Crab and Sharpshooter applied, but couldn't win. Shamrock reversed the Sharpshooter into the anklelock for a quick submission win. Overall, the event was nothing special, but had good energy and gave the crowd what they expected. [Rich Smith, Jim Rhodes]
July 13 in East Rutherford, N.J. at the Continental Arena drew 15,620 paid sellout for $323,987 (merch. $131,855, $8 per cap) for the Raw is War broadcast and Shotgun taping. In the dark openers, Steve Corino beat Julio Sanchez and Ace Darling beat Devon Storm. Storm got a decent pop, but the match was said to be bad execution and poor selling. Taped for the July 18 Shotgun: Faarooq & Scorpio beat Los Boricuas, The Edge beat Quebecer Pierre, Val Venis beat Pablo Marquez, and Dustin Runnels beat Jeff Jarrett (w/Tennessee Lee, Southern Justice) via DQ. When Raw went off the air, Austin gave Bad Ass a stunner and Undertaker chokeslammed Hunter. Austin and Undertaker then had a staredown. [Chris Forbes]
SHOTGUN SATURDAY NIGHT
The July 4 edition of Shotgun opened with Terry Funk & Dustin Runnel beat The New Age Outlaws via DQ. Runnels prayed before the match. The DQ came when Funk began sarcastically doing the crotch chop, but Chyna came up from behind him and actually hit him in the crotch in plain view of the referee. Afterward, Dustin went over and put his hands on Chyna like he was praying for her. She hit him in the crotch as well. Highlights aired of Kane beating Austin at the PPV, then most of the match from Raw where Austin retained the title. In a good match, X-Pac (w/Chyna) beat Jesus Castillo with a spin kick. Cornette ripped on Chyna's tendency to interfere in matches and said that always appalled him. Vader squashed Frank Stalletto. On commentary, Ross and Cornette talked about how Vader had lost his mask to Kane at a recent PPV and was out to get vengeance. Shoichi Funaki & Men's Teoh beat Papichulo & Steve Casey when Funaki pinned Casey after a double DDT. Faarooq beat Lou Marconi with the dominator.
The July 11 Shotgun Saturday Night opened with Faarooq & Scorpio beating Too Much (Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor) when Scorpio pinned Taylor after the 450 splash. Darren Drozdov beat Bob Holly after a powerbomb. They aired the DX spoof segment. Blackman beat Lance Diamond. The Edge beat Jesus Castillo. Jesus charged into the corner. Edge moved out of the way and Jesus crashed into the turnbuckle and staggered back into a pin. Dan Severn beat D.I. Will via submission. They ended the show with highlights of the Kane-Mankind Raw main event. [Tim Whitehead]
NEW WWF WEEKEND PROGRAM
USA Network will begin airing a Sunday night program called "WWF Sunday Night Heat" beginning Aug. 3. The initial run of the program, which will air from 6-7 p.m. ET, is five weeks, but depending on the ratings and the WWF's satisfaction with the content, it could become a weekly series beyond that date. It will end up being used primarily as a vehicle to promote SummerSlam and the Sunday night of SummerSlam the show will emanate live from Madison Square Garden before the event. The timeslot is the former slot held by WCW on TBS.
In another programming note, Raw will be preempted, as usual, for two weeks on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 due to USA Network's coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, but special editions of Raw will air on USA Network on Friday, Sept. 4 and Friday, Sept. 11.
Also, the WWF struck a deal with Warner Brothers Network to air a WWF program on their WeB syndicated network which provides a variety of programming for smaller networks, numbered 100-212.
Austin arm wrestled Vince McMahon on July 1 in Foxboro, Mass. to help kick off ticket sales for the (now-cancelled due to slow ticket sales) stadium show in August. After quite a bit of posturing by McMahon, Austin won and then slammed him into a nearby river. Austin did a photo shoot for TV Guide last week and is expected to be featured on the cover of the magazine in a few weeks. Austin will also be the celebrity focus of an upcoming edition of MTV Fanatics, a new show that introduces fans to the stars they idolize. This weekend he also did voiceover work for MTV and Acclaim Video and was spotted with his wife being mobbed by fans at Caesar's while in Atlantic City the afternoon of the WWF event on Saturday. He has a CD coming out on the Sony label called "Stone Cold Heavy Metal" and is talking with Chevrolet about an endorsement deal...
Austin's staph infection came back last week so doctors put him back on anti-biotics and told him to rest his arm in a sling. He reaggravated his elbow by coming back too soon and even suffered from another fever. Now his other elbow is extremely sore and he may have a bone chip which could require minor surgery...
Hunter Hearst Helmsley appears on "Pacific Blue" on USA Network on Aug. 9...
Val Venis, Ken Shamrock, and Hunter will guest in a USA program called "Summer Rent"...
Terry Funk will be in an upcoming John Carpenter directed film...
King of the Ring buyrate estimates are in the 0.8 to 0.9 range (over 300,000) which would be the highest number of buys in four years for that event...
Undertaker has floating bone chips in his ankle but is avoiding the recommended surgery for the time being. Surgery would put him out of action for a while and the rehab he went through after similar surgery a few years ago was more painful than wrestling with the injury...
SummerSlam's subtitle "Highway to Hell" will be promoted with AC/DC's late-'70s song of the same title which the WWF acquired the rights to use on promotional commercials...
ButterBean will do a mixed tag match at SummerSlam to conclude his two-match deal with the WWF. He will team with Sable against Mero and Jackie...
In PWI Weekly this week, Sunny is quoted as saying she has missed ring time due to contracting a flu strain when on vacation in Mexico and "I'm just starting to get over it"...
Mrs. Yamaguchi is not really the wife of Yamaguchi-san...
The June 30 Edge vs. Jesus Castillo match taped for Raw was bumped to Shotgun during post-production...
Steven Regal's first match on Raw may be erased from "WWF history" since even Jim Ross acknowledged on the WWF hotline that Regal's introduction was half-hearted and rushed. There is some disagreement over how valuable Regal can be to the WWF and the anti-Regal forces won out by giving him such a lackluster debut...
Dennis Knight (a/k/a Phinneous Godwinn) has missed recent action with serious stomach problems and has been hospitalized for treatment...
The WWF will be having another "weigh-in" of wrestlers on Aug. 31 in New Haven, Conn. They are trying to track the weight of the talent and create an environment where staying in shape is rewarded...
Bart Gunn has experience in tough-man competition, thus his strong showing against Bob Holly. On Raw they announced that Jim Cornette had stepped down as manager of the Midnight Express, so it appears that the Bodacious and Bombastic gimmick has been dropped...
The WWF changed their mind and asked Severn and Shamrock to be part of the Brawl for All and changed around the bracketing. Shamrock refused to participate despite strong urgings by management, saying he had nothing to gain and everything to lose given the format. Severn showed that to be the case...
July 11-12 ratings: Live Wire-1.7, Superstars-2.1...
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