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Vandy! (September 1996)


Beer!  (February 2006)

Issue # 336

Date:  Sunday October 3rd, 1999  10:41 am

The Wrestling Booking Sheet

WCW scrambling over growing ratings deficit

By Mike Mooneyham
Sunday, October 3, 1999

World Championship Wrestling may not be ready to push the panic button
quite yet, but company officials are frantically looking for ways to
get the organization back on track. That mission became even more
pronounced in the wake of last week's ratings, which produced the
biggest gap ever in the history of the Monday night wars.

Raw hit one of its biggest numbers to date, 6.77, against Nitro's 3.02.
Raw, which posted hours of 6.54 and 6.98, throttled Nitro even more
convincingly in the two hours and five minutes that the shows went
head-to-head, 6.77-2.40. Nitro registered hours of 4.12, 2.43 and 2.61,
with its final quarter and overrun drawing 2.96 and 3.77, respectively,
against Raw's 6.05 and 7.00. It was Raw's highest-ever margin of
victory (172 percent) over Nitro.

A comedy skit involving no wrestling, an evening gown match featuring
two lady stars with more than a century of ring time, and a bout
between a pair of wrestlers who last year at this time were employed by
WCW, all contributed to the rout.

Raw's 20-minute-long "This Is Your Life" segment featuring The Rock and
Mankind drew a record-high 8.39 rating going against a record-low Nitro
rating for the Konnan vs. Perry Saturn match (1.58). The three-way
handicap evening gown match with Ivory vs. The Fabulous Moolah and Mae
Young drew a 6.6 rating with nearly 8 million viewers, while Nitro's
Billy Kidman-Psychosis hair vs. mask match drew a 2.7. The Chris
Jericho-Big Show bout tripled its opposition.

Where does WCW go from here?

Discussed in this space the past two weeks have been possible ways WCW
can dig itself out of its hole. The merits of Ric Flair running the
creative end of the company were considered, as well as bringing in Ted
DiBiase to head a human resources division that would cater to the
varied needs of WCW personnel.

DiBiase, whose contract expired in August, recently announced that he
was leaving the wrestling business, but there's little doubt that such
an opportunity would offer a tempting challenge for the 25-year
veteran. DiBiase could relate to his fellow wrestlers on a level no
other could in the Turner human resources department; he knows how they
think and where they've been. Hiring someone like DiBiase would
ultimately reap personal and financial benefits for the WCW family, and
the salary for such a position could be much more justified than doling
out ludicrous expenditures such as $500,000 for the rock group Kiss to
do a one-song set on Nitro, or $220,000 a pop for rapper Master P, or a
million dollars for the unreliable Dennis Rodman.

My next suggestion would be for the company to adopt a viable feeder
program in which young talent could be cultivated. WCW's Power Plant
has produced little in the area of new stars for the promotion. The
company would be well served to subsidize respected training facilities
which could groom young talent and provide them an audience to work in
front of until they were ready for WCW. Current operations such as Les
Thatcher's Ohio-based Heartland Wrestling Association and George
South's Charlotte-based operation (where David Fliehr is currently
training) would be excellent choices.

Another area needing immediate attention is the rapidly declining
status of WCW's Saturday night show. Once the SuperStation's flagship
program, the show now precariously clings to low ratings and a sagging
viewership. Tentative plans to revamp the show and put it in the
capable hands of Jimmy Hart appear to have fallen by the wayside, which
is a shame since Hart had worked tirelessly on giving WCW Saturday
Night a unique identity, one that would be built around an '80s-style
Memphis show and would help develop the company's younger talent.

Said one disgruntled WCW worker: "If WCW turns the Saturday show into a
Nitro highlights package, they might as well resign themselves to the
fact that the mothership has crashed and burned. If the top guys can't
make fans interested enough to tune in on Monday, why would they on
Saturday? They should be more concerned with developing enthusiastic
young guys anxious to prove their talent than with old guys who have
proven they no longer possess talent or enthusiasm."

The performer also offered an ominous question that reflects the
paranoia that has permeated WCW.

"Is someone afraid that Jimmy Hart just might do angles and storylines
follow-through that make sense and possibly give the Monday and
Thursday night ratings a run for their money?"

The idea of changing the format of the WCW show appears more unlikely
in the wake of recent mass firings in the organization. As many as two
dozen performers - mostly mid-card, underneath or developmental talent
- are being released, and even more firings are possible.

And, finally, there has to be a new resolve on the part of WCW brass.

Eric Bischoff deserves credit for putting WCW on an even playing field
with the WWF, but he made the fatal mistake of being too easily
manipulated by some of his top stars.

All indications are that the 35-year-old Bill Busch is his own man and
will not be swayed by the lobbying of individuals pushing their own
self-serving agendas. Nor is he expected to be close-minded about the
many suggestions he will no doubt be receiving as the process of
righting this company unfolds. It is clear that drastic changes have to
be made, else Bischoff's removal will have meant little.

• It appears that there may be a different guy in the driver's seat,
but he's driving in the same direction.

The scene with a hobbling Hulk Hogan making the save at the conclusion
of last week's Nitro, manhandling three wrestlers (Sting, Lex Luger and
Diamond Dallas Page), with Ric Flair and Bret Hart both laid out,
speaks volumes about the current situation at WCW.

Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail
at mooneyham. More wrestling news with Mike
Mooneyham is available every Monday on The Wrestling Observer Hotline.
The number is
1-900-903-9030. Calls are 99 cents per minute, and children under 18
must get parental permission before dialing.
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer revealed an exciting new project
in this past weeks issue. Starting Monday, October 4th, Meltzer will
host a live call-in radio show over the internet (similar in format to
WCW Live). Broadcast on Eyada.Com,
the show will be daily (Monday-Friday) from
6:00 PM-8:00 PM EST
3:00-6:00 on the West Coast).

Meltzer is the top wrestling journalist in the world; I'm hoping that
this venture will expose his viewpoint to the internet fans that all
too often haven't experienced The Observer. I hope all of you will
give the show a chance, it promises to be interesting. Find it at:

Visit My Home Page At:

It seems at least once or twice a week that I still read an Article or
something submitted by a reader complaining about the content of the
WWF's programs. The writers are hung up on Vince McMahon and the WWF as
corrupting the morals of our children. The Title of this Article
couldn't be more appropriate. Let me introduce you to those responsible
for guiding our young: They are The MPU and
FPU, The Male Parental Unit
and the Female Parental Unit, more commonly known as Dad and Mom, or
simply, The Parents.

Every TV program on television shows its rating, using a a guide
established and accepted as a national standard. The program intended
for our children or those shown during the day, and carry material
suited for them. Much of the merchandise that is aimed at young
children by the WWF (and every other Federation) is contained on
commercials on those programs. Yes, I know, the old argument that
children still watch RAW and SmackDown, as well as NITRO and Thunder,
but that is where my novel concept of MPU and
FPU kicks in. It is up to
the parents to pay attention to what their kids watch. Many cable
systems have a lockout feature where you can block what you don't want
them to see. It isn't hard to activate. If you are watching and you
allow you children to watch along with you, it is apparent where the
control lies.

Television ratings are similar to those used on motion pictures. If you
see a movie you deem inappropriate for you children, you either don't
allow him to go, or attend with them. If you attend with them, you are
making a conscious decision to let them see the movie. It is no
different at home, Of course there is a difference in watching a TV
program, however, the control feature still exists. I raised four
daughters and either me or my wife knew what they were watching. Sure
there were times when they selected a program we weren't aware of, but
that was the exception, and we didn't have the Lockout Feature for the
most part.

Think back to the early 1900's and beach scenes we see from that era.
We all get a big laugh at the bathing suits women wore then, if they
showed any skin above the ankle, it was cause for whispers. Times
change, people change. Think back to the 1950s, and even into the
1960s. Whenever a couple were seen in bed on TV, they had to keep one
foot on the floor. If a program today showed that, it would look
ridiculous. In beach scenes in the 1990s women wear skimpy bikini's.
That is not the exception, that is the norm. Baywatch, the most watch
TV program on the planet, is lovingly called Babewatch by many. The
girls running on the beach aren't doing so as a work out. It is no
accident that we see that on every episode. That is what the viewers
want. Baywatch is seen in virtually every place in the country, with
reruns showing during the day when kids are home, often alone. If I as
a responsible parent don't want them to watch, it is my responsibility
to make sure they don't. Do you think they are seeing more on a
wrestling program then they do on Baywatch? If its the language that
concerns you, the same rule applies, control what they see. There was a
time when the word "ass" was never heard on TV, now it is not uncommon
to hear it on many prime-time TV shows.

One of the highest rated TV programs is Friends. It is on at 8 PM in
most markets, with reruns on even earlier. How many episodes go by that
don't involve one of the characters talking about sleeping with someone
else? These are all unmarried people, with the exception of the one who
has been: married to a woman who left him when she realized she was a
lesbian; married to a woman and calling her by another characters name
at the wedding ceremony; and most recently married to one of the main
characters while drunk. How many of us allow our children to watch
Friends? It too is very popular with our youngsters.

The point is that no matter what anyone shows, it is our responsibility
as parents to monitor and control what our children watch. Another
question in my mind is what are 10-12 year olds doing watching TV after
9 or 10 PM on school nights? Most programs on at 10 PM are the ones
that show partial nudity and use the worst language. They are scheduled
at that time because it is expected that most youngsters will be asleep
by then. When NYPD Blue first aired, it was blacked out in some places.
One of those was Jacksonville, FL, where one of my married daughters
lived. I had to tape it and hold it until we saw each other. A public
outcry got the ABC station there to reverse its policy. When they
showed one of their characters partially nude, there was major media
attention. Now it passes as part of the show.

I am not advocating allowing our young to watch stuff that is
inappropriate by any means. I am also dead set against censorship or
allowing a group of people to dictate what is available. Allow the TV
networks and stations to show their programs and tell us what the
rating of it is. I can then make an informed decision as to whether or
not I will allow my children to watch what's on. If I deem it too racy
for them, I will control what they watch. As an adult I have no problem
watching what the WWF (or any other Federation) shows. If and when I
do, I will stop watching it. That isn't real hard.

Let's put this to rest for once and for all. It has been picked to
pieces. As an old friend of mine once noted, "You can old examine the
as*hole of a dead horse just so much." Times changes, tastes change. If
yours haven't, simply pick up the remote, change channels and watch
something else, or turn of the TV and read a book, etc. Please stop
trying to cram your standards down the throats of everyone else.
Written by reader: Tygrpride

Let me begin be setting that I am 44 years old, which makes me a
greybeard of
sorts among wrestling fans. I have been following the game since 1964
and have lived in roughly 9 cities and states. I say this so as to
qualify what I am about to say on the topic of stereotyping.

As long as I can remember, stereotyping has been a part of generating
positive or negative. In the heyday of Bruno Sammartino and the WWWF
in the
60's, ethnic stereotypes ruled, quite possibly because of the heavily
ethnically enclaved markets they served.

Italians were generally faces (except for the black shirted thugs ala
Albano & Altamore) and Germans were all heel Hitler wannabes. The
French were effete
snob heels (except for Ed Carpentier). Poles were dumb but polite &
strong faces.

Blacks came in two varities: shuffling jive talking koko-butting faces
and dour quiet somewhat jazzy-dressed heels. Mexicans were all
sombrero wearing faces, usually jobbers, etc., etc.

If you go across the country there were probably variations on the
theme. Japanese always karate chopping salt throwing heels. In some
areas Texans were all faces, others always heels, other areas half and
half. It gave wrestling that area of theatrics and that sense of
glitter. The characters were stereotyped so they could appear bigger,
play bigger. And draw heat.

The rub seems to be that when you draw a national audience, you can no
count on regional preferences or ethnic sensitivities to sell seats or
draw ratings. Maybe you can pack Boston to watch an Italian heel and
an Irish face go at it but the fans in Huntsville, AL or Minneapolis,
MN just aren't going to get it.

I believe that the bookers, in a never-ending quest for hot angles
occasionally seize on a character in hope of tapping a latent source of
heat. It becomes tricky when you try to think in two directions at
once. i.e. "will this generate heat" vs." is this offending more people
than it sells?"

To me, Michael, I say stay away from sexual or spiritual/religious
angles. The entertainment value is always less than the potential
negative heat that will come from people who are more than offended and
will stop watching.

Example: Remember when WWF had Dustin as a born-again Christian who
had his wife taken by Val Venis. Maybe it was a hoot to a lot of
people who don't like Christians or who have no strong religious ties.
But I can assure you that it was taken as a slap in the face by a lot
of people who attend wrestling on Saturday and then church the next
morning. It made them look BOTH hypocritical and foolish. It left
them with a nasty feel for the WWF and the angle was quickly dropped.

The Lodi & Lenny angle isn't offensive as much as its just dumb. In
order to sell it they'd have to cross the line and I think that's a
line that'll do them more harm than good.
Written by reader: mbrown

I am writing this after a recent experience in a chat room that turned
quickly into a rumble over wrestling. I have not been a wrestling fan
since birth as many fans have been. I am in the minority. I hear (or
read) everyone arguing about "Vince McMahon is a snake" and "Eric
Bischoff is a bottom feeder" depending on which federation you prefer.
It is loyalty. Pretty much why I am from Indiana and love Bobby
Knight. Not because he is a warm and fuzzy hug-a-bunny, but it is
loyalty to a team I grew up with.

I prefer the WWF to the WCW for the same reason I prefer ER to Chicago
Hope: A QUALITY PRODUCT. Do I really want to see Ivory in a G-string?
Not particularly. Is it any different than seeing Shawn Michaels drop
his drawers as he danced around the ring, as he has done for years?
Not really.

I don't watch professional wrestling for a lesson in ethics or morals.
I watch it to be entertained. Everyone tends to blur that line and
forget that this is entertainment. Plain and simple. If you laugh
when you see the Rock and Mankind, they have done their job. If you
get mad when someone gets "screwed", then they have again done their
job. It is no different than going to the movies or watching any other
drama on TV.

Do I really care if Calista Flockhart is eating her Wheaties? That is
her business. Is
it true that Jennifer Aniston is a prima donna? Not my business again.
Are Vince McMahon or Eric Bischoff securing their place in Hell by
treating people like crap? Could be. Again, though, as long as they
are "entertaining" and producing a marketable product, its not my
business where they spend their afterlife.

In reference to the outbreak of lawsuits that seem to abound these
days, a few weeks ago, I did that extreme flying they have a Kings
Island Amusement Park. To those who do not know, they basically strap
you in a harness, attach you to a cable, pull you 200 feet up from the
air and drop you. As I was being pulled 200 feet in the air, praying
to God that the guy who strapped me in wasn't on work release program
from the local prison, I realized what a stupid chance I was taking.
Me and two friends had actually paid someone to do this to us, not vice

Owen Hart's death was a tragedy. There is no argument there. But it
was an accident. It was ruled so by the investigation done by the
local authorities. There was no criminal negligence found, if I am not
mistaken. It was a horrible, irreversible
accident precipitated by an obviously risky chance he took. But it was
a chance he chose to take. And, as I can hear the "But......." coming
now, it was a career decision and, yeah, maybe he felt like he needed
to to stay on top, but he still made that decision. Just as Rena Mero
made her decisions. Just as Nicole Bass made hers (which I am just
waiting with baited breath for that "journal" of hers to be published).
Just as I made mine to take that stupid chance. Some chances come out
in our favor, others don't.
Written by reader: JlBt911

its time I got my 2 cents in. Listen, I'm a wrestler for Montclair
State University and I wrestled for Ramsey High School for 3 years. The
points have been argued about "WCW being
REAL wrestling and WWF being
nothing more than a violent, glorified T&A show." NOT
TRUE! WCW is no
more "real wrestling" than WWF or WCW or ECW, for that matter.

ECW is violent, but they do some real moves. So do guys like Chris
Jericho, Dean Malenko...but not many of them. All professional
wrestling is really a soft, glorified street fight. I don't care if
you trash any of them, but
DON'T call any of them "REAL"
wrestling until you've bled on the mats and sweat in the room. WWF,
ECW...they're here to be
FUN, not to be REAL!
The staff of The Wrestling Booking Sheet
Editor: Steve Appy
Columnist: Mark George
Columnist: SamJerry
Columnist: Fritz Capp
Columnist: Rick Phelps
Columnist: Cindy Barnes
Columnist: Josh Hewitt
Columnist: Swami
Columnist: Tom Misnik
Columnist: Nate Pelley
Columnist: Robert Troy (Osiris)
Tom Kirkbride
Columnist: Ryan S. Oaks
Columnist: Darren Kramer

Any submissions sent in by readers or columnists become the property of The Wrestling Booking Sheet, and are subject to editing due to grammar, spelling, or content. Any information taken from The Wrestling Booking Sheet must be credited properly, with our E-Mail address listed. We have no problem if you want to use our stuff; just credit it properly.

Copyright- Steve Appy of The Wrestling Booking Sheet ©1998, 1999, 2000


"When you're young and you pick up a guitar, it feels so powerful. It feels like you pulled the sword from the stone. I used to believe that it could save the world. But I don't really believe that anymore." - Bruce Springsteen

"The greatest challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism
after you lose your innocence and believing in the power of the human
spirit after you come crashing into the limits of the real adult
world." - Bruce Springsteen


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