March 28, 2004
Duelling shows spice things up
By Don Callis
WWE posted two significant ratings gains this past week due in large part to the draft lottery. Raw posted an impressive 4.5, while Smackdown did a 4.6. Several years ago, these numbers would not have been met with the same jubilation, but for the cycle the business has been in lately, the Nielsen rise is a welcome surprise.
Most commentators on the industry were not at all surprised at the Raw rating because many fans would want to see the draft, and see how things were going to be shaken up. The more surprising (and encouraging) number was Smackdown, because it would seem to be an indication that the interest in the draft was more than just a one-time curiosity.
The draft lottery was a good idea, given the fact that the brand extension was never going to accomplish the ideal goal of making the fans believe that these were truly two separate entities. If the goal was to have two different television shows, then they have done a good job with it, but if the goal was to somehow recreate the Monday Night wars, then results are less impressive.
Many would argue that trying to recreate those times of stiff competition was very unrealistic -- you can't have a competitive environment after you have eliminated the competition. The upside to the WWE's monopoly is that it is the main player in the industry, something Vince McMahon and company have always wanted. The downside is that competition had its upsides as well.
While Vince was forced to share the economic pie before with WCW and to a lesser extent ECW, one could argue that there was more pie and that it was a lot more flavourful. Let's be honest, when Vince and Eric Bischoff were in full- fledged competition, the business was at its apex from an interest perspective.
WWE has done some good things in the past few months, not the least of which is elevating Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit to the top of their respective shows. And while the draft and the brand extension can never recreate the past, it could go a long way to making the future a lot more interesting.
Bret Hart has filed a lawsuit with Lloyds of London over the insurance policy he had been paying into for several years. This is, of course, is in reference to his career-ending injury of several years ago. Apparently the company was still deciding for the past while as to whether they were going to pay out or not, so Bret decided to file a lawsuit ... Goldberg is officially done with WWE for the time being. He said some unflattering things about the company on an Edmonton radio show. He is filming a movie there ... Kurt Angle has received medical clearance to wrestle, but he will be used sparingly, just on pay-per-view and for big television matches as well as in his on-air role as Smackdown general manager ... Paul Heyman will be remaining with the company, perhaps in a managerial role, managing former ECW talent. This is good news for guys like Rhyno who are great wrestlers who deserve a push. Rumours abound that Heyman's role will lead to an eventual ECW relaunch as part of a brand extension ... the Wrestling With the North documentary aired this past Sunday to good reviews, furthering the legend that is Tony Condello ... WWE returns to Winnipeg in July for a huge show. WWE event co-ordinator Bob Holliday is on NHB Radio every week giving details of the show.
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