October 23, 2004
This Taboo is broken
Poor ratings surely will spell the end of mid-week pay-per-views for WWE
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun

It appears Tuesday nights will remain taboo for World Wrestling Entertainment, as the company's experimental mid-week pay-per-view wasn't quite the runaway success many had hoped. Taboo Tuesday, which took place in Milwaukee this week, was heavily promoted as the first interactive PPV in wrestling history. Fans were invited to log on to WWE's website and cast their votes to decide several aspects of the show, including the challenger for Triple H's world heavyweight title.

The big question was whether WWE bosses would honour the results of the online ballot or just book the show as planned and claim it was what the fans had chosen.

Although you can never be entirely certain what's real in pro wrestling, the evidence seems to suggest the online polling was legitimate, especially since Shawn Michaels was featured in the main event.

The night before Taboo Tuesday, Michaels suffered a torn meniscus during a triple-threat match on Raw. The injury was serious enough he required a leave of absence to undergo knee surgery.

With less than 24 hours until showtime, and its No. 1 contender down for the count, WWE bosses privately hoped Chris Benoit would win the vote, allowing Michaels to be protected in a mid-card tag match. As fate would have it, Michaels won the title shot with 39% of the vote.

At that point, Vince McMahon could easily have manipulated the voting results. Instead, a contingency plan was set in motion to get the most out of a seriously injured HBK.

With his real-life injury worked into the storyline, Michaels put on a gutsy performance in a strong 14-minute affair with Triple H. It wasn't a match-of-the-year candidate but considering HBK was working in agony, it was more than anyone could have expected and one of the best performances on the show.

Ironically, while HBK was wrestling with a torn meniscus at Taboo Tuesday, Curt Schilling was pitching for the Boston Red Sox with a dislocated ankle tendon, 1,400 km away in New York City.

The Sox were mid-way through the biggest comeback in baseball history, rallying back from a 3-0 deficit in the AL championship series and eventually toppling the New York Yankees to make it to the World Series.

For baseball fans, it was a shocking upset that will go down as an all-time classic but, for WWE, the Red Sox's unexpected success was bad news.

The go-home edition of Raw -- the final chance to hype Taboo Tuesday -- went head to head with Game 5 of the Yankees-Sox series and drew a pitiful 3.0 rating.

For those who don't speak Nielsen, that's the lowest number Raw has pulled in almost seven years.

The pay-per-view -- which was already in buy-rate danger because of the move from the traditional Sunday night spot -- was up against Game 6.

The competition from MLB was only partially to blame.

While WWE did a stellar job of pushing the interactive element as a big deal, it failed to present any options that gave the show an anything-can-happen feel.

The voting choices were limited, the match possibilities were uninspired and once the fans had clicked their mouse on the appropriate Internet links, the novelty was over.

It won't go down in the history books as a night to remember.


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