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  Oct 13, 2001



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Hoopla fails to deliver ratings
By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun
 The WWF is always quick to respond to criticism and even quicker to respond to falling ratings.

 Raw and Smackdown this week really delivered, with a world title change, a big comeback, a major heel turn and a big babyface brawl. Regal's turn was perfectly executed and the cliffhanger ending on Monday, not to mention the Rock-Jericho fist-fight, were reminiscent of the Vince Russo era, when the WWF product was at its hottest.

 Even though Steve Austin's win marked the first time the world title changed hands on TV in almost two years, it didn't boost viewership as expected.

 While the 4.5 rating is a big improvement on previous weeks, it's a massive disappointment given the intense advertising campaign for Monday's Raw.

 * Just hours after we went to press last week, Jim Ross confirmed our report regarding the considered re-hiring of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Ross said the duo would be welcomed back under the right circumstances and that dialogue had taken place between the parties. Hall is available to work immediately. Nash remains under contract with AOL-Time Warner until December -- the WWF will be hesitant to buy out his multimillion-dollar deal. Nash and Hall, as part of the real-life 'clique,' were blamed for massive behind-the-scenes disruptions in the WWF in 1996, to the extent that Vince McMahon remained backstage at house shows to quell the tensions.

 Hall's recurring substance-abuse problems, much-publicized by his drunken appearance on WCW television in 1998, could also be an issue, although he now reportedly has his problem under control.

 * It was only a matter of time before Rob Van Dam's heavy-hitting style took its toll. Kurt Angle needed seven stitches in his lip and chin after his match with RVD last week and Chris Jericho was hardway-cut during his bout with Van Dam on Thursday's Smackdown. In other injuries, Christian had some stitches in his upper lip, Crash Holly suffered a mild concussion and Shawn Stasiak's groin problem has been diagnosed as a severe tear -- it was originally thought to be an athletic hernia.

 * Mick Foley's appearance on Smackdown was more than just a cameo.

 Although it hasn't been announced on TV yet, the plan is to have him feud with William Regal, culminating in a big pay-per-view match between the two.

 After several false-starts, this looks to be the real deal for Foley's in-ring return.

 * Oops ... They did it again. Last week, the WWF prematurely released information about Rock/Jericho matches scheduled for house shows later this month, blowing the big surprise before their falling-out angle was shot.

 These non-televised house shows are a chance for wrestlers to get used to each other's styles and gauge crowd responses before a big pay-per-view.

 * "Incessant ribbing" was the reason given for WCW referee Billy Silverman quitting the company. He's reportedly been unpopular backstage for a long time.

 The criticism peaked in September when he upgraded his flight ticket to first-class -- a big no-no in the wrestling world.

 As weird as it sounds, most WWF wrestlers fly coach. First-class is for the big stars only. Jim Ross acknowledged the situation with Silverman in a media conference last week.

 * The Federation is doing its part in rebuilding spirits after the Sept. 11 tragedy by having a special day in New York City tomorrow.

 Superstars will be visiting Ground Zero and meeting with rescue workers, followed by a live event in Madison Square Garden.

 The WWF has vowed to give several thousand free tickets to families who've suffered losses, as well as firefighters and police officers. The company initially took criticism for going ahead with a live Smackdown show just two days after the tragedy took place.

 * It seems the WWF.com Babe of the Year poll is as rigged as ... well, the WWF itself. While this week's semifinal round of voting is still open (Trish Stratus vs. Debra), it's shown elsewhere on the site that Trish is already through to the final, as is Torrie Wilson.

 Equally odd, the poll was only open to U.S. residents and the site required a lot of information (name, age, home address, e-mail, etc.) from voters. Not much use to the babe of the year but helpful to the WWF marketing department.

 More next week ...


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