For Your Consideration Sweeps

Welcome to week 31.

Well, I’m back. It’s been several weeks, but here I am. I’m sorry for the unannounced hiatus. I assure you it was unplanned and unwelcome, but sometimes real life gets in the way of what you want to do. However, I assure you that everything is back on track and I can’t wait to get back to business.

First off, it’s good to know that when I took a break, so did the majority of big-time news. I would say that the three biggest stories have been Booker’s release, Cena’s injury and Jericho’s impending debut. And to be fair, those three aren’t exactly “stop the presses” big.

Booker’s release was more of a positive then a negative. Booker is a talented wrestler and a guy that can do wonders with ridiculous characters, but was anyone clamoring for another Booker run at the top? Booker T wasn’t going to be a draw anymore and was going to be an ancillary talent to put over guys. Unfortunately, the WWE decided that he would be better to put over Triple H then a younger wrestler. I have a major problem with the way that he bitched about the WWE leaving him to “twist in the wind” after the drug scandal. What exactly did he expect them to do? This is a company faced with quite possibly the biggest PR nightmare in their history (and that’s saying something when you look at Owen’s death, the prior steroid scandal and the Pat Patterson molesting retarded ringboys fiasco) and the last thing they could look like at this point was soft on drugs. Booker wasn’t the only guy suspended, yet he’s the only guy making this a federal case. If Edge were still on television, his suspension would have been the biggest news and I would bet money that he would still show up. Frankly, Booker knew he was never going to be main eventing again and he was still sour about his development territory getting passed over for the (in my opinion superior) Florida territory run by Steve “Gator” Kerin and he used this ‘roid debacle as an excuse to leave on his high horse. Yes folks, only in the WWE can a guy busted for drug use be viewed as the one doing the right thing.

Next, John Cena’s injury. My last column was right after his injury, so I haven’t been around to comment on the aftermath. First, there was No Mercy. What the hell was that? Seriously. It was as if Vince handed out hallucinogens on the plane and let the writers run wild. They burnt through about three months of storylines over the course of ONE SHOW! We had Orton handed the belt, a Triple H title win, a Hunter/Umaga brawl and then an Orton title win?! What exactly did this accomplish? The WWE gave away an unadvertised Hunter/Orton showdown which managed to show that (a) they had no idea what they were going to do (b) make Umaga look weak as hell and (c) take whatever goodwill the fans had for Triple H and smash it by overexposing him for 3 hours! Then, with Cena out for the foreseeable future, the WWE decided not to try and elevate Jeff Hardy or Mister Kennedy but rather drag out Shawn Michaels for yet another main event run. Look, I know Shawn can still go and could probably outperform the majority of the current locker-room, but come on! Shawn to the rescue again? The minute the ratings for the post-No Mercy RAW came out and they were the lowest in a decade, Vince went into panic mode. The culmination of that? Next week’s sweeps RAW. What are we getting? We’re getting Steve Austin! We’re getting the reformation of DX! We’re getting the late 90’s because nothing we try works! The loss of John Cena is about as debilitating as it gets, and with no one left to pick up the ball, they call in a ringer who can do this in his sleep but he probably doesn’t want to.

Lastly is the long-telegraphed Chris Jericho return. Look, I am all for the return of Jericho and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that isn’t, but I’m going to be honest and say that the fact that his being Save_Us got leaked kinda sucks. It would have been a cool surprise moment and instead it’s just another “surprise” that we all know is coming. When Jericho first popped up in that Rock segment, it was a classic moment in wrestling. His current return won’t have that great “moment” feel because it’s going to be anticlimactic. I know, it’s shocking to think that the WWE would botch a big comeback, but just go with it for a minute.

Then there was the Cyber Sunday PPV. I caught it, kinda like the way my computer catches a virus. I’m not saying it was a bad show. In fact, the show pretty much delivered what it promised. My major objection is that it didn’t give us all that much more.

The first match of the night was Finlay/Rey in a stretcher match. Maybe it’s because we had a good Orton/RVD stretcher match a few months ago that kind of did what these two did. Maybe it was the copout finish that we’ve seen before. Maybe it’s because Finlay for months has been a jobber to the stars on Smackdown and this was a foregone conclusion to a placeholder feud that was meant to get Rey on TV without putting him in the main event. I think mostly it’s because I’m a fan of any match on a pole. Paging Judy Bagwell

The ECW title match as the second on the card just sucked all the suspense out of it. I wasn’t at all surprised that the Miz won. In fact, I would have been more shocked if he didn’t win the vote. No one likes Viscera. No one wants to see him wrestle, let alone him get a shot at the ECW Title. Morrison is more liked than Viscera, which doesn’t say much. John Morrison, with all his gimmick overhauls and fancy entrances, is still Johnny Nitro and Johnny Nitro is still the guy that started 2007 as Kevin Federline’s trainer. The Miz has his MTV fan base. More importantly, he was a guaranteed win for CM Punk. The WWE isn’t putting the title on Miz. They would put it on Viscera but he’s going to wind up on RAW or Smackdown. They would put it on Morrison but where would he go from there? The Miz is the safest pick for fans and the WWE couldn’t have been happier. It allowed them to look like they aren’t rigging the voting and let Punk get a win without knocking out a top contender. Unfortunately, the fans were chanting for Y2J which made Punk look weak as hell.

Kennedy/Hardy was what it was. It might as well have been RAW.

Hunter/Umaga just kept going until people conceded and said, “Okay, this was a brawl.” I’m glad it was a brawl and not a cage match because the advent of Hell in a Cell always made cage matches look weak. Unfortunately, the best spot of the match was the dive onto the announce table that killed Hunger but Umaga never went for the pin. I’m all for suspending disbelief but come on!

Shawn/Randy was decent, but not a level that Shawn should be at nor was it where a world champion should be at. The match was just sort of there and the ending left the rematch wide open. Maybe if this gets more build-up (like what they had on RAW) it’ll have a bigger feel. For now, it was about as good as a RAW main event.

MVP/Kane is a tried-and-true formula and a decent placeholder due to the absence of Matt Hardy. I will say that the injuries and medical conditions these two have suffered have allowed the MVP/Hardy feud to continue for months without feeling overly long.

Batista/Undertaker was a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t a bad match at all, and this is again coming from someone who is far from a Taker fan. The finish was definitive and this definitely made up for their lack of a Mania main event in that they were clearly the stars of the show. Even Austin stayed in the background and didn’t steal any of their thunder. Unfortunately, this means we’re going to suffer through another “rebuild Taker as a monster” period.

That all brings me to (and wow this feels good to be back into the swing of things) tonight’s topic:

For Your Consideration Sweeps

For those of you without a television degree or even an elementary school understanding of TV, sweeps is a ratings period where advertising revenue is set. It is during sweeps months that networks bring out their major specials and “big event” episodes. November is one such sweeps month.

The first RAW of the sweeps period is going to be stacked and a clear indication of what the WWE thinks is going to be their best way to bring in the fans. What are they going with? Who’s the hot new superstar that’s going to be their Sweeps Champion?

Stone Cold Steve Austin and DX.

Welcome back to 1998. The WWE just can’t ever learn from the mistakes of the past. It would make sense to use these superstars to help put new people over. Instead, how are they handling this?

Steve Austin is going to come in and crush Santino Marella, a guy who is already a moot point and someone who is viewed as nothing more than a midcard joke. Hell, even if Santino gets heat on Austin, he isn’t going to magically grow a foot taller. This entire feud was designed to hock the Condemned DVD, and it’s going to end with Marella getting stunned. Whoopie. That makes me want to buy the DVD and pay for PPVs.

Then there’s DX. DX versus Randy Orton and Umaga. I’ve seen Hunger/Umaga for months and I don’t care. I’ve seen Hunter/Orton and Michaels/Orton. Yeah, these are big names, but so what? I have a feeling that the big twist is going to be that Michaels/Orton is going to be a title versus career match with Michaels getting screwed over and losing his “career” on the 10th anniversary of the screw job.

So what’s my gripe here? Why am I getting all worked up? The theory of sweeps is to bring in the biggest number of viewers possible and DX & Austin are surefire ratings grabbers. My problem is that the WWE still thinks that they are the only people capable of popping the ratings which is a scathing indignation of just how poor a job Creative has done.

Yes, John Cena is gone for the foreseeable future, but who else did they even bother to build up? Lashley? Bobby Lashley was a fake superstar that the WWE just kept forcing down our throats. He didn’t raise the ECW ratings at all and his match against Cena didn’t push up the buyrates. Either way, Lashley’s out with injury as well.

Maybe this is more of a broad condemnation of their continued lack of success when it comes to building superstars, but nothing is more frustrating then to see a company continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Pick someone, anyone, and try to do something different with them. That’s how we got Austin and Hunter in the first place.

The kicker is that there is the talent in their locker-room that has the power to carry this show through sweeps month. Since the WWE is going to have Austin and DX on RAW and knows they’re getting eyeballs, why not try someone new out there? Maybe this is the night they pull the trigger on Jeff Hardy or let Kennedy lock horns with Stone cold.

If the WWE is going to abuse sweeps month for another nostalgia run, at least try one or two new things while they have this goodwill. At this point we’re begging for something different on RAW. Ironically enough, Smackdown has been able to elevate a few superstars to a higher level. They have taken MVP and Matt Hardy and made them a “big deal”. Who can we say has had that happen to them on RAW? Cody Rhodes? Harry Smith?

Between Hall & Nash on TNA and DX and Austin on RAW, I’m not sure if I should be concerned for the future of the industry or get ready for high school.

This has been for your consideration.