With most of the Royal Rumble events occurring during the end of January to hold back On This Day in Pro Wrestling History... and with my struggle to remember significant events of the Royal Rumbles during the 2000's (attempting to form Top 10 lists for Moments, Matches, Pay Per Views)... My desire to put on the Tito mask for some "Excellence in Column Writing" is upon you here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. I just HAD to follow up on Monday Night RAW which was CLEARLY headlined by the brewing Rock vs. CM Punk feud set to give early 2013 a potential "Match of the Year" candidate. Couldn't help myself...
And I just had to comment on RAW's rating of 3.1 from Monday Night, its reported best number since August (or pre-NFL). Here is what I said in my RAW Review posted early 1/8/2013:
First and foremost, if RAW scores below a 2.8 rating tonight after the BCS Championship game was a one-sided joke, WWE Executives need to be FIRED. Seriously, Alabama ended this game by the end of the 1st damn quarter. So much starpower thrust upon RAW this week that by 10:00pm, if there wasn't a massive switchover to the USA Network from ESPN, there is no hope for the WWE. After all, you could see this blowout coming. Nick Saban is a super aggressive coach that benefits from easier academic standards than Notre Dame, while Notre Dame benefited from an off-year for the teams on their schedule. I mean, duh... If the WWE doesn't take advantage of a complete letdown of a BCS game, again, WWE Executives should be terminated. They are all McMahons or old McMahon friends, so thus heads won't roll... But wishful thinking is always nice to have.
And BINGO, 3.1 rating with a nice rise in the viewership through the 3rd hour:
During the 9:00pm hour, it was CLEAR that Notre Dame was screwed and had NO CHANCE IN HELL to win that game. Hour 3's surge, which by the way is the first significant growth in the 3rd hour in a LONG time, is evidence of 2 significant things:
(1) BCS Game sucked and everybody knew it was over by the 2nd Quarter. LOL @ Notre Dame.
(2) WWE actually hyped RAWIN ADVANCE.
You know that as a WWE fan you were in store for at least TWO things a week before this week's RAW. One, the Rock was finally going to return to the WWE and RAW. He has a WWE Title shot for Royal Rumble 2013 and his attendance is a must to hype that event. But second, you knew and could anticipate the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (TLC) between CM Punk and Ryback. That's TWO main event level things that you were able to anticipate for the first Monday Night RAW of 2013. As a WWE consumer, your DEMAND to was RAW this week was up because of what was advertised. Simple, simple Law of Demand economics.
And that's the way Pro Wrestling SHOULD BE. The short-term booking philosophy with scripts being rewritten on the day of the show just leads to disaster. That's the current Vince McMahon / Stephanie McMahon way, as opposed to the past with former pro wrestling veterans (Jack Briscoe, Pat Patterson, etc.) having Vince's ear. By simply announcing an appearance of one main event level wrestler and a WWE Title match in advance, the WWE was able to not only retain its audience of loyal wrestling fans against the BCS Championship game but to steal viewers through the 10:00pm hour to see what the WWE has hyped. This template has been around for YEARS and with proven results. Maybe if the WWE would actually watch its vast video library of its own WWWF/WWF/WWE stuff as well as NWA/WCW, AWA, World Class, and ECW libraries, the WWE Executives could easily see why each of those promotions made money. Simply put, many of those promotions had their best years when long-term booking was in place and everything was hyped well.
WWE has to do something to keep the casual fan interested in the product. Why would they tune into a show with ZERO matches booked? Oh yeah, let's tell fans to check Twitter or WWE.com for possible posts during late Monday Night evening. Not everybody follows the WWE on the internet or social media. Plenty of other things to do with a Computer or Smartphone besides following the WWE's last minute internet hype. WWE should try extra hard to hype things in advance to hype a 3 HOUR show. Why on earth would someone want to invest 3 hours on a pro wrestling show without any matches announced at least 1 week in advance?
The beauty of Rock and CM Punk's topping of the 3rd Hour probably drawing a 7.6% growth rate is the simplicity of what they did. There was no need for a script provided by one of Stephanie's failed Hollywood script writers. There was no additional side story, such as last year when Chris Jericho was claiming that CM Punk's family members were alcoholics or drug addicts. It was just the Rock and CM Punk, in the ring together, and simply stating how much they DISLIKE each other. That easy. The Rock delivered his mocking of CM Punk with the catchphrases and odd pop culture attempts at being funny while Punk responded with sharp, scathing promos that were borderline shoots. That simple. And that's how wrestling has ALWAYS been. 2 wrestlers dislike each other and they fight because of it. It's NOT rocket science and there isn't a need for a scripted plotline by the stupid WWE Creative Staff. Simply put, the WWE granted the Rock a WWE Title shot at Royal Rumble 2013 and CM Punk is upset at the Rock at being a part-time wrestler and WWE darling getting a shot at HIS title. The luck of the ending to the 1,000th RAW has provided the softball storyline and the rest is just simple unscripted microphone work to depict good versus evil.
Why there exists a need to script the living shit out of everything, I'll never know... But then again, you have a Communications major as your Executive Vice President of Creative. Pro wrestling is supposed to mock being a legitimate sporting event and most matches are set up because two wrestlers just don't like each other...
BUT, there are exceptions to every rule when you hype things in advance... Take this week's Smackdown in contrast. Oh, before I go further... *SPOILER ALERT* in case you are the casual fan I mention above who doesn't follow @WWE or WWE.com. My apologies in advance if you jumped ahead in paragraphs.
We're in 2013 and why the WWE still tapes prime time shows, I'll never know. I could imagine what Smackdown's ratings could have been had their shows been live on UPN, CW Network, or MyNetworkTV... Instead, they always subject to spoilers. The Smackdown shows during 2002-2003 were GREAT with Paul Heyman as the lead writer and Brock Lesnar as the top draw on that show. The Tag Team division was a thing of beauty, Angle/Big Show/Undertaker were great foils for Lesnar, and Heyman was able to build and push existing and new superstars to greater heights on the midcard (Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, John Cena, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Rey Mysterio, Edge, etc.). Smackdown actually outrated RAW in viewership on Thursdays during 2002-2003... Imagine if there were no spoilers to ruin the experience?
Which makes me wonder what in the hell is the WWE doing with announcing a HUGE Smackdown *SPOILER* in advance of their Friday Night Smackdown show on SyFy Channel.
I'm on my 4th paragraph here... If you haven't clicked BACK yet, it's YOUR FAULT for being spoiled...
Alberto Del Rio is the NEW World Heavyweight Champion in case you haven't heard from the WWE advertising it heavily. What on earth is the WWE doing? For one, I question the World Title change. Del Rio is just fresh off of his face turn and should require some work to actually get over AS A FACE and then become World Champion. World Titles used to be the reward to pro wrestlers for getting over with wrestling fans and for being legitimate draws in arenas and on television shows. The World Title was a trophy given to the guys who were legitimately the top guys in the promotion as decided by fans wanting to see more and more of them at arenas and on television shows. I'm sorry, but where is this pent up demand to see Alberto Del Rio as a World Champion?
I just don't understand the idiotic logic of the WWE Creative Team with regards to World Titles. Ever since a green Randy Orton was pushed to the World Title at SummerSlam 2004 despite clearly not being ready as an in-ring performer and over as a top level guy. WWE made the foolish mistake of letting Randy win as a heel and then trying to turn him babyface the night after in 2004. 28 days later, Orton lost the World Heavyweight Title in his first Pay Per View defense. Despite Orton's failure as World Champion in 2004, the WWE has repeatedly tried the formula of WORLD TITLE first and GET OVER second. In the past, the perfectly fine working business model was GET OVER first and WORLD TITLE second. Again, the World Title was a reward for getting over with wrestling fans! WWE has tried this stupid "World Title first, Get Over second" model with wrestlers like the Miz, Jack Swagger, Sheamus, and in 2011, Alberto Del Rio, all but Sheamus winning their titles with the Money in the Bank cash-in to really harm their credibility as World Champions.
But I really don't understand why the WWE, in need of ratings for the SyFy Channel, just spoils their Smackdown show in need of ratings. WWE has foolishly released World Title taping results ever since it was actually successful during 1999. Before Smackdown existed, the WWE actually taped every other week's RAW episode on a Tuesday following a live edition of RAW. For the January 4th, 1999 edition of Monday Night RAW against the legitimate competitor World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and their Monday Nitro show, RAW was a taped show while Nitro was actually live. The RAW tapings were actually held on December 29th, 1998 and during the week, WWE.com actually posted the results that Mankind (Mick Foley) beat the Rock for the WWE Championship. As a follower of the WWE on the internet, in my full glory my daily columns back then ("Mr. Tito's Phat Daily Column"), I was well aware of the title change. But there was a major difference to Foley's win in 1998/1999 to Alberto Del Rio's win during the Smackdown tapings this week to air this Friday.
Wrestling fans WANTED to see Mick Foley win the World Title. They could care less, at this point, to see Alberto Del Rio as champion... They saw the first Del Rio championship reign(s) that didn't excite.
It was Mick Foley's FIRST World Championship in his career. The poor guy went through absolute hell before getting his first World Title. No Money in the Bank, no rushed World Titles when he wasn't over. Blood, sweat, and tears throughout his career. He was stuck in a midcard gimmick with Cactus Jack during his WCW run. Between WCW through 1994 and joining the WWE during 1996, Foley as Cactus Jack killed himself in violent matches that the mainstream weren't easily able to access. Vince McMahon retooled his character to Mankind and allowed Foley to showcase how good of a pro wrestler he actually was instead of just being a bump guy. The Mankind gimmick was genius and Vince's letting him shake it up with Dude Love and the returning Cactus Jack made fans take notice. Foley, for 2 and a half years, was gaining WWE fans' trust month after month. Then, when he has a sympathetic moment at King of the Ring 1998 when Foley could have died in that Hell in the Cell match, he was over and ready to become World Champion.
Thus, when Tony Shiavone, under WCW Executive Eric Bischoff's orders, revealed during the live WCW Nitro that RAW was taped and Mankind would win the title, the opposite reaction happened: a surge of wrestling fans changed to the channel to watch RAW instead to see Mick Foley win the title. Why? Fans WANTED to see Foley win the World Title despite knowing the actual results of the match. It actually put more "butts in seats", contrary to what Tony Shiavone said that night, as estimates range from 600,000 to 900,000 fans instantly switching over from WCW Nitro to RAW to see the title change.
Smackdown on SyFy Channel actually has the Rock on the show and has advertised it in advance... But with that, I would be curious to see how well Smackdown on SyFy will do this week with the spoiled Alberto Del Rio match result. I'm guessing, with due respect to Del Rio who can only perform with how he's booked, that there won't be a surge of fans tuning in this Friday.
Credible Main Eventers fighting over a World Champion that fans are willing to see will draw fans. The Rock and CM Punk are over and credible as main eventers. Having them collide will do great business at Royal Rumble 2013 and this 3.1 rating (thanks to a 7.6% 3rd hour surge) jump against the BCS Championship could just be the beginning... Just let the wrestlers do the talking and tell the story of utter hatred for each other by themselves. No scrips (or rewritten scrips)...
And the WWE just drew without having to rely on John Cena to go one on one with the Great One (Rock). With the way the WWE has booked Cena for the past year, keeping CM Punk out of the Main Event... I thought that wasn't possible?