November 5, 2005
WWE starts to implode
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun

It was supposed to be a slow news week in WWE-land.

That is, until a rash of injuries, contract disputes and good old-fashioned backstage drama tore apart the Taboo Tuesday pay-per-view, causing wrestling writers to log overtime hours like there was no tomorrow.

It started when Christian (Jay Reso) dropped a bombshell on WWE bosses before the PPV, announcing he had decided not to renew his contract with the company.

Reso volunteered to stick around for Taboo Tuesday before riding off into the sunset -- but it turns out WWE had buried his character so deeply the fans didn't even vote him into a match at the show.

It was a fitting farewell (or lack thereof) since the reason for his resignation was simply a case of seeing the writing on the wall. Reso's character looked set to explode into the main-event scene earlier this year, until he whacked his head on the infamous WWE glass ceiling and was sent careening down to mid-card limbo.

Reso is an incredibly talented worker and talker, one of the most popular Canadian pro wrestlers, and TNA is already looking to bring him into the fold.

Stone Cold Steve Austin decided he wasn't happy with the direction of his own character this week but the Rattlesnake didn't wait till after the pay-per-view to hit the road.

Austin reportedly balked at the script for Taboo Tuesday, which called for him to lose to Jonathan Coachman after interference from the returning Mark Henry. It would have been Austin's first match in more than two years.

When Austin found out the storyline also involved Jim Ross (Austin's longtime backstage ally) being permanently removed from the Raw broadcast booth, he refused to even show up.

Edge was pulled from the pay-per-view due to a torn pectoral muscle, which WWE bosses conveniently neglected to mention before the show, even though they had to be aware he wouldn't be available.

He was replaced by Gene Snitsky, which is about as fair a trade as pulling Henry Burris from the Stampeders lineup and putting Barney the Dinosaur in his place to appease the fans.

As if there weren't enough advertised names missing from the show, Torrie Wilson was also absent from the diva battle royal.

Rumours floated around the Internet she had been fired -- something insiders have been predicting for several months, due to her high-end guaranteed contract -- but WWE denied the reports.The official line: Wilson is on personal leave, with no set return date.

Perhaps realizing the show was heading into train-wreck territory, WWE bosses called on ECW announcer Joey Styles to fly in at the last minute to fill the Ross role. Styles handled the play-by-play duties for the event and is expected to be hired full-time as the lead announcer for Monday Night Raw.

The bad news continued as the week went on, with the go-home edition of Raw (the episode which hard sells the pay-per-view the night before) coming in at a miserable 3.4 rating.

That's a drop of about 1.5 million viewers since the debut show on USA Network, proving Raw's focus on the McMahon family soap opera caused WWE to lose a quarter of its Monday night audience in a month.

The company will attempt to turn things around on Monday's Raw, starting to build towards an inter-promotional feud and the Survivor Series pay-per-view Nov. 27.


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