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The New Monday Night War

By Kirk Angel


Hey. This is Kirk Angel from the TWF forums. Those of you that have heard of me know that I do three things: Post news items, act like an asshole, and occasionally crack jokes. And for those of you who don’t know me, well now you kind of do. This column will include a little bit of all three things, but will have a different purpose. I know that most of the columns at TWF are based around this thing called “satire,” but this one won’t be. I will try to be funny as often as possible, but this column will have a general point: Trying to get everyone to see a current event from a different viewpoint. That’s not to say you will agree with what I say; I, in fact, expect people to disagree with me, but I also want this column to get people to think outside the box. That’s not to say I won’t do any columns of outright comedy in the future; I fully hope to, but for this article at least I’m going to be serious, yet funny. Kind of like an episode of House, minus the humorous Brit faking an American accent. And all the dying people.


It was recently announced that Smackdown’s going to be brought back to UPN… excuse me, CW Network, this fall, instead of having its contract run out. You’d think the WWE would do the same thing with Mark Henry, but unfortunately for all of us, we are sentenced to a few more months of one star matches, unless he shatters on impact after taking an Angle Slam at the Rumble. Anyway, I hated hearing that U… CW would probably keep Smackdown, so I thought I would put this on the forums. I also nearly put my head through the computer screen not unlike the girl in Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3 did with the TV. But hey, it makes sense for them to bring it back because few, if any, shows on the newly created CW will get close to Smackdown’s ratings. Most of the people on the forums tend to dislike, if not absolutely hate, the Brand Extension and hoped it would be over this fall. I definitely fit into this group, at least until I thought about it.


The BE has given us some of the worst and/or hilarious moments in wrestling history (Katie Vick, the Billy and Chuck wedding, and more recently, the Raw Diva Search). In addition, it has given us some of the worst, least liked, and/or poorest drawing World champions ever according to the IWC (Orton, Cena, and JBL). Also, it’s had really shitty storylines, not related to Randy Orton making gym bags his own personal port-a-potty.


Even with all of the low points in the BE, though, there was still a lot for the IWC to be happy about. There was WM 20, which ended with Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit as World champs of their respective shows at arguably one of the top five events in the WWE’s history. Also, there was Brock Lesnar’s meteoric rise and fall. After F5ing wrestlers big and small, he moved on to the NFL, thinking he could F5 any football player in his path. In two years he went from Here Comes the Pain to There Goes the Plane, with said plane probably showing up on eBay pretty soon, since I don’t think wrestling once a month in Japan’s gonna pay for it, especially with the WWE’s current lawsuit.


Now, to the topic of this column. The likely continuation of the BE made me realize something. There was really only one truly great period in wrestling: The latter half of the ‘90s. With the WWE’s Attitude era, the WCW/NWO war, and ECW: greatest independent promotion ever, wrestling was on fire. The sad part is that it may never get back there again. TNA is too blinded by nepotism never before seen on this level, with said blindness possibly being caused by looking at some of Double Js outfits, in addition to sometimes questionable, or even retarded, booking. So that’s where Eugene’s been… Next is Ring of Honor, which I haven’t seen, but seems to be very good in terms of in-ring wrestling. However, it’s doubtful that enough people can get behind it to even bring it to ECW’s level, let alone the WWE’s. Then there’s that talented television tycoon, Ted Turner (Alliteration!). It’s been rumored that he’s wanted to get back into wrestling for years, but short of buying out TNA, I doubt he’ll ever get a wrestling company off the ground. Most of the networks just don’t want wrestling anymore, in addition to there not being enough “big names” in the independents to support a new company. Of course, he could just follow TNA’s route and hire every wrestler north of forty and/or wrestlers who would demand more money than most of TNA’s entire roster. That’s sounds familiar, don’t know why though.


And that leaves us with the WWE. Let’s face facts: The WWE isn’t going to have any competition any time soon, unless the Jarretts pull some creativity out of their asses. While he’s at it, maybe Jeff could actually pull some talent out of there too. With that said, why not move Smackdown to Monday night and start the Monday night wars again? Now, before I get beat up like HBK in a night club, hear me out. Vinnie Mac’s always wanted two distinct wrestling brands, but hasn’t even gone half way with it. Fuck, he hasn’t even gone a tenth of the way. Excluding the fourth-grade remarks of Tazz and Michael Cole and the hit-or-miss interpromotional matches, Raw and Smackdown have been treated like one company with two rosters of wrestlers, instead of two completely separate companies. There’s really no dissention between the two shows 99 percent of the time. So, why not build up some animosity between them? Why not have Smackdown complain that they’re always “considered” the second-rate show, but are really on the level of Raw? And why not prove that they’re better than Raw by moving to Monday night and competing head to head with it?


You may say, “There’s no way this is going to work,” but I say it can, as long as these things are done:


1)         Scrap the GMs. In a perfect world, they would somehow come up with the McMahon vs. Flair storyline from a few years ago again. Then again, if they tried it with those two, it might give Vince an unfair advantage. After all of the bumps that Naitch has taken recently, his body probably only has about another three months before it disintegrates. A more likely scenario would be Vince vs. Linda after they “divorced.” Only problem is that Linda’s more robotic than Keanu Reeves in, well, just about any movie he’s ever been in. My point is that if there are two shows, there should be a leader for each show, and general managers just won’t work. It would make more sense if Vince owned one side (preferably Raw) and had to fight against someone who owned Smackdown, driving home the point that they are two different shows.


2)         Don’t take three days between the Smackdown taping and airing. Preferably, Smackdown would air live too, but that’s probably out of the question. Anyway, it’s not like there’s THAT much editing on SD, however, if Mark Henry’s involved, then there’ll be a shitload. I’m not one of those people *cough*Linda*cough*McMahon*cough* that thinks a ton of fans don’t watch Smackdown because they can read the results. Sure, some people might, but they probably have friends and go out on the weekend. However, for those few people that do read the results instead of watching the show, the WWE should have it taped Sunday night. Hardly anyone will look for the results past 11:00 P.M, which is when the tapings could end. Most people then either go to work, school, or both (sucks to be them). By the time they get home, they wouldn’t look for the results, since both shows would be on in a couple of hours. And on PPV nights, they could air Smackdown live the following night; it’d only be nine nights a year, so it won’t cost them THAT much money. You’d think they’d have enough money to cover it after all the lawsuits.


3)         Make it like the Monday night wars and have Raw and Smackdown steal wrestlers from each other. As entertaining as the Draft Lottery can be, it would be pointless to have the two sides “randomly” take wrestlers from each other if they hate each other. By the way, a “Draft Lottery” is a complete contradiction when you think about, but hey, maybe I’m the only one that did, further proving that I have no life. I should make a shirt saying “I will not live!” Should make for an interesting feud with Matt Hardy. Getting back to the point, for those of us who watched both the WWE and NWA/WCW before the dawn of the Internet, or even a few years later, if you didn’t have a computer, every time someone like Flair, Steamboat, Hogan, Savage, Hall, or Nash showed up for the opposing company, it was a real “Holy shit!” moment, not unlike when Trips and Nips found out they were pregers, solidifying the downfall of wrestling throughout the first half of the century. I keed. And while the Internet has ruined it to an extent with almost instant access to the minutest of wrestling information, they could just make it a secret like they do now with the DL and not inform the wrestlers until right before the show. Of course, they have to avoid a possible Rick Rude moment (no, not the dying part), and not have a wrestler on both shows during the same week.


4)         Have an actual Cruiserweight division on Smackdown. If Raw can have the women wrestle virtually every week, why not have a cruiserweight match every week? Not that I’m complaining about the women, but how many times can you see the same women wrestle every week? Ah, who am I kidding. Titties are titties. The point is that each division is exclusive to the respective shows, so why not make the CW division seem somewhat relevant. It also wouldn’t hurt if they actually had more than four people in each division, but I guess they’re about even when you think about it, except for the whole thing about the cruiserweights not getting on Smackdown. But still, for every time that Smackdown throws out generic wrestlers into the ring, it wouldn’t hurt to actually put in some small wrestlers too, who, I don’t know, can actually wrestle.


5)         Come up with reasons for one guy to invade the other show. In addition, have a reason for one guy to jump from one show to the other. The WWE typically does a good job of this, but since it’ll be a semi-regular incident, they’ll have to actually be *gasp* creative most of the time, since fans won’t want to see the same thing over and over. For example, have Melina show up on Raw and beat up Trish, claiming that the Women’s title shouldn’t be exclusive to Raw, setting up a match between the two on a PPV. Sure, they kind of did that already, but I’m about as creative as the WWE sometimes. Sue me, unless you’re the WWE. After they’re done with me, I’ll have to join Luther Reigns as a security guard at porn award shows.


6)         Be creative. I could talk about this for another page, but everyone knows what I’m talking about. If you have two shows at each others throats, there has to be a reason for it that’s carried out in a logical way for however many months or years this lasts. As a side note, many people, more like everyone in the IWC actually, complain about how bad the WWE’s been creatively over the past few years, myself included based on what I’ve written in this column. I’ll tell you the truth about this though: The WWE knows they’re not really being that creative. They realize that they don’t have to be. No one’s really challenging them in the ratings, so there’s no reason to have good shows and good matches every week. Of course, it could be that they’ve hired complete idiots, but still, I’d like to give them some credit.


You may wonder still, why would this be a good idea? When the WWE went through its absolute worse period in terms of both creativity and talent in the early half of the 90s, there was no real competition. WCW had its own horrible booking and wrestling (Three words: Doomsday. Steel. Cage.), and ECW was hardly well-known. Then Eric Bischoff lucked into the NWO storyline, which would soon become the greatest wrestling angle up to that point. The greatest angle ever: Kurt Angle. Oh it’s true. It’s damn true.


Then, to steal a line from Chappelle’s Show, Vince McMahon was subject to one of the worst ass kickings in recorded history. That is, until WCW vs. WWE a few years later and Vince McMahon vs. ring apron at last year’s Royal Rumble. Mr. Grapefruits realized that he had some actual competition, as thus, did everything possible to beat WCW. You want profanity? Here ya go asshole. Violence? Here’s a chair, go beat the shit outta someone. Sex? Here’s some titties. The Vinces went out and produced some creative stories and characters and were partially to blame for putting WCW and ECW out of business, however, bad booking and bad business deals respectively had something to do with it too.


With this in mind, why doesn’t Vince compete against himself? His biggest ratings came from this period when he had direct competition and subsequently had to be creative. Without either one of these, his ratings have been stagnant, which will eventually backfire. The networks don’t exactly like the ratings the WWE’s been pulling in recently Even though Raw is one of the top, if not the top, rated shows on cable, they had nearly double the ratings that they had been getting a month ago back in the late ‘90s. This drop in ratings is exactly why USA paid the WWE about half of what they had been getting from their previous deal. They knew that wrestling wasn’t drawing as many fans as before, so why pay as much? Same with Smackdown; that’s why UPN almost dropped it. Even though the WWE is still profitable with its PPVs and merchandising sales, how much longer will it last?


Consider this: It isn’t exactly out of the question that by the end of the decade that Angle, Benoit, Michaels, Booker, Flair and Taker could all be retired. Hell. Even Batista might not make it, given his string of injuries (One, two, three, THANKS MARK HENRY). Who does that leave the WWE with as main-event caliber wrestlers? Triple H, Cena, Orton, Show, Edge, Kane, and JBL. Ya scared yet? Think the fans will tune in when these are the only top guys left? Yeah, me neither. And while there are relatively young guys out there with actual talent like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, and others, the WWE doesn’t seem too interested in them; it’s not like the WWE are honoring the fact that they’re under contract with TNA. They’ll do that when John Cena or Randy Orton can carry Shawn Michaels or Kurt Angle to a five star match.


How does this relate to Raw vs. Smackdown? Simple: With the two shows running the way they are now, eventually no one is going to care, unless they bring in people that can actually wrestle, or can at least be somewhat entertaining. How many times will the fans be able to watch Cena vs. Orton or JBL vs. Batista before they realize, “Hey. These matches suck.” Truth is, they do now anyway, but watching either one for the hundredth time is like watching Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, falling off of a cliff a hundred times: The first couple of times is okay; the last couple make you want to throw yourself off of a cliff. At least if they had some new talent in the company, fans would tune in to see matches like AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio, or Christopher Daniels vs. Shelton Benjamin.


And it’s not just the in-ring aspects either. For every Ken Kennedy or Carlito that comes into the company, there are half a dozen guys like Tyson Tomko, the Dicks, or Sylvan Grenier that bring nothing in terms of entertainment. That was weird; one guy who looks like a dick, two guys named Dick, and one guy who apparently likes… well you know the rest. I’m not saying every guy has to be “entertaining” (see, Benoit, Chris, even though he is improving), but you have to have one or the other.


If the WWE doesn’t get these guys, we’ll all be doomed to hosses plodding around the ring and interviews more wooden than good ol’ Jr’s face. However, the two shows could be competing against each other and signing away wrestlers from each other, just like Smackdown did with Angle a couple weeks ago. They could also bring in wrestlers that most of the WWE audience haven’t seen and will eventually like, whether it’s because they’re great in the ring, or because they’re entertaining on the mic. It could be like the WWE and WCW were during the 90s: People will care because they want to know who’ll jump next, who’ll invade the other show, and which show can get the upper hand.


In addition, if Linda was even remotely correct in saying something like only 25 percent of the WWE’s audience watches both shows, it can only help the WWE by having both shows on the same night. Some people have what I believe are called lives and decide to go out on Friday night instead of watching wrestling. If both brands are on Monday, more than 25 percent of the audience would watch both shows. Remember when it was fun to stay home on Mondays and watch Raw and Nitro? Yeah, me too. And it’s not like U… CW would be entirely against moving SD to Monday. SD regularly beats most of the shows that the new company has anyway.


Now, before you ask, “What happens when one show kills the other show?” here are a couple of answers. One way is to simply stop it before it happens by letting one side win for a while, then the other. The absolute worst thing the WWE could do is let one side kill the other, like with the NWO and WCW or with stupidity and WWE Creative in some cases. The WWE would lose a ton of money this way, with the lost PPV and merchandising revenues. The other way is simple as well: If one side isn’t coming back, then move it to another night. It’ll probably bring the ratings back up eventually.


However, if worst comes to worst and the WWE has to lose one show and go back to one roster, will we be all worse off? Nobody would hate it if the WWE went back to one show. Sure the WWE will burn bridges with whichever company loses their show, but it’s not like they can’t go back to that company eventually and start another show. Remember when it seemed impossible in 2000 for Vince to ever go back to USA when the WWE signed with Spike TV? Remember when it seemed all but certain that Smackdown would be off the air in September?

Pictures and logos created by Sean Carless.

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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).