Welcome to the WEEKEND edition of the Phat Daily Column. Initially, I planned on taking this weekend off, but given the recent turn of events in the WWF, especially regarding the sudden panic of the Smackdown rating, I'm inspired to write! Today, I'll tell you why to NOT panic during this time, regarding the WWF.
I caught Spider-Man Friday night. Excellent movie, with great special effects and good respect to Spiderman's origin. It's well worth the price of admission. What does this have to do with wrestling? Well, good ol' Macho Man Randy Savage has a part in the movie. His name is "Bonesaw", and he's a professional wrestler in the movie who challenges anybody to beat him within 3 minutes to win a money prize, just like in the comics. Savage looks very much like the 1999 Savage, but with much longer hair. He even dropped the Macho elbow at one point in the movie.
Truly a great movie! Better than the Scorpion King.... You know, myself and Mrs. Tito see a whole bunch of movies, given the fact that we prefer the theaters in comparison to rentals and for the lack of anything to do in the Ohio Valley. Maybe I ought to start a Movie Review site?
And while we're on the topic of non wrestling stuff with some association to wrestling, I like the new Eminem song, "Without Me". At one point in the tune, he says "I'm the best thing since wrestling", which is why I can mention it. I like figures like Eminem, Marilyn Manson, Howard Stern, and hell, even Rush Limbaugh for the guts they show to tell it like it is when necessary. I try not to hold anything back, either, as I've said some very raunchy stuff within my 3+ years as Mr. Tito. Sometimes you need to get nasty to get a point across, or say something as an eye opener.
On to the PDC.
Whenever I dog the WWF for bad ratings, I usually get the flood of e-mails concerning what the WWF was against that night. Therefore, let me tell you what the WWF was up against this past Thursday. Firstly, it was up against BRAND NEW episodes of 2 of the hottest shows on television: Survivor and Friends. Both are nearing their season finales, and getting redhot by the week. Secondly, FOX aired the Return of the Jedi, the Episode 6 of the Star Wars series. That's a big movie, especially given the fact that people are getting pumped for Episode 2, due out on May 16th. Thirdly, the NHL playoffs had a role in two ways. Both ESPNs had games on, and plus, many of the markets, such as Detroit, had Smackdown pre-empted. Big markets that have a nice abundance of wrestling fans can't help the overall ratings percentage.
RAW doesn't see this stiff of competition on Monday Nights, at least right now.
Overall, I believe that the WWF is just in a transition period. After nearly 3 years of 2 two hour shows for wrestling fans AND wrestlers to go through, the product seems burnt out for the moment. That's why the Split was probably done. The WWF can now slow down their storylines, and introduce or push wrestlers. This process will take a good while for the whole wrestling fanbase to get used to.
Personally, I like the split federation. It doesn't allow for a certain wrestler, besides the World Champion, to get over-exposed on WWF television for 2 nights a week. I can only take seeing the Undertaker once a week, and probably because I see him just once a week, he doesn't bother me as much. Same can be said for Billy and Chuck, or any of the other handfuls of wrestlers that seem to annoy me.
Push new stars? In the long run, it will happen. When Vince McMahon signed Hulk Hogan, his intention was to get the most out of Hogan before his time was up. That's why we see so much of him now. Hogan was one of the main ones responsible for the WWF even being here today, and many of the oldschool fans are cheering for one last time. He won't be around forever, and he has one more money match to draw big numbers for a Pay Per View: his match against Steve Austin, which is RUMORED for Summerslam 2002. If he can last that long...
But what about the WWF's business overall? Houseshows, although not sold out, are doing decent business. The early guess was that the new touring schedule would be a failure, but the houseshows are providing income, say on a Monday or a Wednesday that just wasn't there before. Plus, is has refreshed the wrestlers, getting healthier without the pressures of television matches, thereby making some good matches lately, such as Angle vs. Edge at Backlash 2002.
The ratings? Well, RAW is just slightly lower at this time than it was last year, HOWEVER, if you remember from last year, the WWF was in the high 5.0's and then just suddenly dropped in the 4.0's last year. The rate of decline is roughly better than it was last year. As for Smackdown, aside from the recent 2.9 rating, the ratings are just slightly lower now than last year. If you remember during May Sweeps last year, Friends wasn't as highly rated as it is today, and did FOX air Star Wars movies every Thursday night, too?
Things aren't that bad right now. The WWF appears to be more fresh and stable than they were last year, when Undertaker/Kane vs. Triple H/Steve Austin was the main storyline being pushed, which really killed business until WCW and ECW wrestlers started showing up later that summer. Right now, we'll have several dream matches with Hulk Hogan, the prospects of the Cruiserweight division when the HWA wrestlers arrive, the returns of Chris Benoit and Rhyno, the pushing of Ohio Valley Wrestling stars (Lesnar and Orton), the improving Women's division (!!!), and less McMahons having television roles.
And if worse comes to worse, Vince will offer up some money to some certain free agents out there. In the end, I believe that he'll get Bill Goldberg to guarantee some short term business success, as he can probably get TWO big Pay Per View draws out of him (Triple H vs. Goldberg, Austin vs. Goldberg). Imagine if Goldberg actually wants to stay in the WWF, if he would sign, and make a bigger name for himself? Yikes.
My advice is to NOT panic right now for the WWF. Be patient with the Split, as you're not used to the current one show a week format for each division. Sure, Hogan is getting somewhat over-exposed, but he'll probably be gone sooner than you think. In my opinion, things are better TODAY than last year at this time or earlier this year when Stephanie was the Queen of the federation. Just give the WWF until Summerslam to show you the FULL potential of the Split federations, and when that time comes and the WWF is still pulling in 2.9's on their Smackdowns, then maybe you can declare some true danger for the WWF.
These are the words from one of the WWF's biggest critics...
AOL Instant Messenger: BookerTito - It's recommended that you send your questions or feedback as your first message so that it could be answered, instead of saying "hi", "hey", "what's up" or whatever else. Just get to the point, please, to make it easier since I get drilled with messages.
WRESTLEPALOOZA.com - Audio Show, Columns, News, and more!
KOLTERSHOCK!!! - A site that you shouldn't view with small children present!
X-Entertainment.com - One of the most entertaining pages on the net!
@That's it for this weekend. I wish I could get inspired every weekend to write for you guys. Until Monday, just chill...
Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.