wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: What’s The Highest Rated Raw Segment Ever?

April 19, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

URGENT NOTICE: For the time being, ONLY access the site using 411WRESTLING.COM. Bookmark that URL and only access the site via that address. 411mania.com has been compromised and for your own safety, don’t use that domain for now. You’ll notice that all the links already go to 411wrestling.com URLs. Please only use that domain until further notice. Thanks.

Well hello there, welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, on 411wrestling.com, at least for a short while. Thanks for sticking with us through the issues and what have you, although I hope that by the time you’re reading these words, they’re all sorted out nicely.

I had a wonderful Easter weekend, being a GM for a series of groups of people who played through a little dystopian sci-fi comedy game I wrote. They seemed to mostly enjoyed it, so yay. Plus no-one challenged me for my watermelon so that was good too.

Speaking of me and wrestling, if you are in Australia, or can get here by next weekend, do come along to Newcastle Pro Wrestling’s next event, it’s set to be a big one. Treat it as a birthday present for me, as it’s my birthday this weekend.

Oh, yeah, drink.

BANNER~!

No, wait. Link for questions, [email protected] first, then BANNER~!

Zeldas!

Check out my Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture! Funnily enough, out of the seven deadly sins thing I did, Lust was the most popular. But hey, if you can’t get to Newcastle in a week or so, why not visit this today instead?

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The Trivia Crown

Now, then. Due to the issues 411 has had in the past week, I’m not sure if anyone did or didn’t see this, or answer it, so I’m going to leave it here for another week.

Who am I? I have a connection to Tajiri. My named finisher is medical in nature. I’ve not been world champion myself, but I have managed three of them (and managed a relative of a fourth, who one of the three doesn’t like). I’ve won a piece of clothing, and have a perfect record in ECW. I’ve had a pet, a loss to Santino, and I once made out with a former ECW manager. Who am I?

Getting Down To All The Business

Ron Gamble gets cutsies.

People talk about Eric Bischoff giving away results of taped Raw shows on live Nitro shows, but you always see the same two examples: “He nails the Big Guy” and “That’ll put butts in seats.” What other times did they give away taped Raw results on live Nitros?

To be fair, the reason those are the examples usually given is because those were the first one and the biggest one, and thus they’re the most quotable. On the WWE DVD Monday Night Wars, they played a clip of Bischoff doing a rundown of Raw as Big Bubba came to the ring for a match with Sting, from the Feb 26, 1996 edition of Nitro. Bischoff was on commentary, and with a mixture of snark and boredom said, and I quote:

“I want to let all you fans know, with remote controls in your hands, over at the World Whining Federation, here’s how it goes down. DQ, Yokozuna in a handicap match. Jake “The Snake” Roberts. you’re talking about digging up some bones here, over Isaac Yankem. Diesel over… Bob Holly… is still around. OK, now we got that out of the way, you are where the action is and the action is live.”

Raw had been recorded the week before you see, from Ohio. And the matches on the show?

– Jake Roberts defeated Isaac Yankem.
– Diesel defeated Bob Holly.
– Ahmed Johnson defeated Shinobi.
– Yokozuna defeated Owen Hart and The British Bulldog (with Jim Cornette) by disqualification in a handicap match.

The first time was September 11th, 1995, that was the HBK/Sid 3 superkicks night. The next one I found a report of was New Year’s Day 1996, when he said the Smoking Gunns would win the Raw Bowl.

April 22nd, he again gave away the results, referring to Goldust as a ‘RuPaul impersonator’. Then there was the Mick Foley and Butts one that you know about.

Now I’m not saying that these were the only times, just the times I found a recap of from a source I trust. But the problem is, is that Raw during this time kinda sucked, and thus the results that Bischoff did give away weren’t all that interesting. The Superkick one is remembered since it was first, and Foley because it was the most important, all the ones in-between were just dull.

URGENT NOTICE: For the time being, ONLY access the site using 411WRESTLING.COM. Bookmark that URL and only access the site via that address. 411mania.com has been compromised and for your own safety, don’t use that domain for now. You’ll notice that all the links already go to 411wrestling.com URLs. Please only use that domain until further notice. Thanks.

HBK’s Smile asks for clarification on ratings.

I read another column on 411mania that, regarding the Rock’s This is Your Life segment on a 1999 RAW that it is “generally cited as the highest rated segment ever on Raw, though that stat is a bit spurious and debated on different corners of the Internet”. So what is the debate? I always accepted that as fact.

The debate is that This Is Your Life is not the highest rated segment ever on Raw, but it suits enough people who should know the answer for them to say that it is.

So let’s spell out the facts, as much as I can say this is fact because I’m relying on people connected to wrestling AND the Internet here, so fact is… malleable, alas.

The highest rated segment Raw ever got was a match, June 28, 1999, the night after King of the Ring, where Steve Austin fought for and won the WWF Title off The Undertaker in Charlotte.

Due to this being a huge match between big stars flowing from the PPV the last night, and a title change and, very importantly, being part of an overrun and thus having a boost from some people turning over wanting to watch whatever was on after Raw, this match ended up getting a 9.5 rating, for 10.72 million viewers. This translates into one out of every six television sets in the U.S. that had cable that was on during that time was watching that match.

This Is Your Life Rock, on the other hand, drew an 8.4 rating for the quarter. Impressive as hell, especially as there was no overrun there (this was in the middle of a show), but not the highest, losing to both the above match, as well as a few other 15 minute segments, including most of the second half of the May 10, 1999 Raw, which makes sense, given that its overall rating was an 8.1, aka the highest rating for Raw ever.

So, why is that one pushed over the others? Some people try to argue a technical argument, in that some people (usually only in this one, specific context) claim that ‘segment’ automatically excludes matches, that only a non-match bit can be a ‘segment’. However, the two main sources for this claim are Vince Russo, and WWE.

Russo is easy to understand, he wrote that segment, so of course he’ll push it, but Russo also believes that matches don’t draw, non-match skits draw, and thus by pushing that this was the HIGHEST RATING EVAR!!! for a wrestling show, he has ‘evidence’ of him being right.

WWE on the other hand, they will flip flop at times, but the idea seems to be that they like the idea of the highest rating for a segment not being a match, WWE would like to avoid having to claim that a match outdrew a skit. At times. Other times they’ll admit that this match was the big one.

So yes, given that the company that put it out at times likes to make that claim, as does the architect behind it, and because there’s some technicalities involved, that’s why TIYLR is not the highest rated segment on Raw ever, but there’s technicalities involved.

That said, this is all small potatoes compared to the highest ever rating for Wrestling ever. February 5th, 1988, ‘The Main Event’ on NBC drew a 15.2 broadcast rating, with 33 million people tuning in for the Hogan/Andre WM3 rematch where Andre won the title for a couple minutes.

Connor asks where WCW might have gone without three important letters.

Where do you see WCW going had the NWO not been formed?

That depends wildly on what happens instead of the nWo forming. Does the nWo not form because Diesel and Razor Ramon stay in the WWF? Does Hogan refuse to turn heel? Does WCW just not run an invasion angle? Does Eric Bischoff get fired win the lottery right before it’s set to go down? Trying to remove one event in that time is difficult, as there was a lot going on in 96/97 that all flowed into each other. Which is not the attitude a supposed Rewriting The Book author is supposed to take, but bear with me here.

But ok, to try and answer your question, if the nWo doesn’t form, if Nash and Hall just come in as themselves but now in a tag team and just being guys who are here in WCW… I think that what you’ll see is that WCW’s trajectory is a little more subdued, but the end result is the same, depending on what happens with Hogan.

See, bringing in Hogan and Savage and all the older WWF guys did work at first, Hogan popped some numbers, Savage/Flair did really good business. And Hall and Nash without the nWo angle would still, maybe, have helped out a bit. But Hall and Nash as the Outsiders was a hook to get current wrestling fans biting, and then having Hogan turn heel set everything on fire, pulling in lots of new eyeballs to find out if what they’d heard is true, if Hogan was indeed now a bad guy. And then all those new eyeballs would find the cruiserweights and the technical wrestlers and be hooked by the whole show.

So, if Hogan still turns heel, there will still be a boost from that, but without the overall nWo package, it’ll be slightly less hot, there’ll be less revolutionary stuff involved, and so WCW will begin to challenge for WWF’s spot, but not zoom past them like they did. So the Monday Night Wars will be much more competitive.

But removing the nWo, while removing some of the nails in WCW’s coffin, still leaves the main issues with WCW intact, probably, their inability to do payoffs right, the Hogan politics issue, failures to elevate talent. So sure, the highs will be lower, and the lows might well be higher (if WCW doesn’t start drawing stupid levels of money, maybe they won’t go quite as insane into the red later on) but in the end, ratings will still probably go down, and the AOL/Time Warner merger will still happen, Turner will still lose control, and Jamie Kellner will still come along and kill it off.

Although…

One major assumption in that is that WWF just continues on as normal. Problem is, without the nWo, WWF doesn’t have something to crib off for DX, and more importantly, without WCW well and truly kicking their ass, does Vince go full force on Attitude? And if he doesn’t, Bret might not leave, and if Bret doesn’t leave, Shawn might, but more importantly if Bret doesn’t leave, Montreal doesn’t happen, and WWF doesn’t get the signal boost THEY got with that, allowing people to tune in and bite on Austin and Rock.

So the end result is a smaller pop culture footprint all round. And if WWF doesn’t get huge, then maybe, just maybe, WCW’s numbers look better and they do find a new home in 01. And in that case, with two viable companies, and ECW not having WWF steal their hook, maybe they also get a looksee from someone…

Or not. What do you dear readers think?

Gary wants me to put dates to a video.

Long long long time reader, having just watched the WWE top 10 Ambulance Attack I wondered if you would be so kind as to work out when each of the ten happened, so I can watch them all on the network

OK then…

10) “Targeting Hit Man” – Steve Austin attacks Bret Hart, that would be on WWF Raw, April 21 1997.

9) “Bam Bam Crashes” – Bam Bam Bigelow V Mike Awesome in an Ambulance match, WCW Starrcade 2000

8) “Crushing The Game” – Ah yes, the Smackdown where Triple H cracked Big Show with a sledgehammer and then continued burying Mankind in an awesome moment, that was Smackdown, 9th of September 1999, the tag title buried alive match.

7) “Dropping In On Wyatt” – Ambrose V Wyatt, Ambulance Match, Raw, January 5th, 2015.

6) “Awesome Death Drop” – Sting V Mike Awesome in another Ambulance match, WCW Thunder, May 5th, 2000.

5) “NWO Smashes Rock” – The night Rock/Hogan 1 was signed, Raw, Feb 18, 2002.

4) “Adjusting The Roof” – Cena V Ryback, Three Stages Of Hell match, final round, Ambulance Match, Payback 2015.

3) “Braun’s Big Flip” – Raw, April 10, 2017

2) “Deadman’s Damage” – Undertaker attacks Two Man Power Trip, Smackdown, May 3rd, 2001.

1) “Shane Goes Coastal” – Shane McMahon V Kane, Ambulance Match, Survivor Series 2003.

… That was kinda fun actually.

Speaking of going back and watching stuff on the Network, Ryan?

So I have the WWE Network (no Chandlers needed) and decided to watch some early WCW stuff. Well, first I watched Starrcade ’83 for some reason, but wanted to start some later stuff, so jumped into 1994 PPV with Bash At The Beach 1994. Continued to Fall Brawl from there and might continue, but I also started Nitro from Memorial Day 96 for some strange reason (I wonder what happened that day) and watched the next one and also the two RAW’s from those days. That said, is there any better starting points to watch WCW on a chronological re-watch? The network doesn’t have Saturday Night or Sunday’s Main Event, and not even Thunder from what I can see. I wonder if I can enoy a Nitro/PPV re-watch.

I guess it depends on what you’re watching for. If you want to go back and see all the really awesome Flair matches, for instance, starting at the Chi-Town Rumble in 89 is a good place to start there. If you want to see the really awesome cruiserweights, start on the July 8, 1996 edition of Nitro, where Rey wins the title for the first time.

But I think with WCW, there’s two really obvious places to start, assuming you want to focus on the Monday Night Wars etc. You can either start with Nitro 1, from the Mall of America, and the awesome Liger/Pillman match and such, or, start a little later, May 27, 1996 Nitro. That’s the night Scott Hall jumps the rail. Not much difference between the two, really, so I’d probably start at Chi-Town, watch until Flair leaves, then pick it up back when Nitro starts. Or continue on from Bash at the Beach 94, go through the depths of WCW Hulk before you get the glory of nWo Hulk.

Also, what the fuck happened in the Vader vs, Sting at Fall Brawl 94? What a hot mess; Bad communication, Sting seemed bogged down with something, and the ending absolutely sucked. Is there any insight as to what happened that night? I know it’s not the worst or most controversial WCW match to write about, but I just watched it so it;s fresh.

The Vader/Sting/Guardian Angel thing?

I don’t have official word from any source as such, but this was pretty much the last chapter in the Vader/Sting war (they’d have one last match on Saturday Night later that year but this was the last PPV match), and they needed to build Vader up a bit for the obvious Hogan/Vader feud to come after Hogan finished with Flair. But you don’t want to hurt Sting too much, plus you want to try and give Angel a rub to firmly establish him as an upper mid card face. AND you want to continue the Mystery Man angle from the last Clash, since it didn’t get the payoff it was originally intended to. So you have a few conflicting ideas here, and when that happens, that’s when you get overbooking. They had to make Sting look strong but also keep Vader over, and have the Masked Man play into it, thus the time limits and the overtime and such. All for naught, in a way, given the amount of time before they did Hogan/Vader, they could have dropped the #1 contender gimmick and changed it up. But yeah, that seems to be the basic gist of how it went down. Unless a reader can correct me.

Nightwolf asks a question that I’m pretty sure we’ve covered before, but once more, with feeling…

I always wondered about something. What was the first banned finishing move in Wrestling?

If you mean a storyline banning, then it would probably be whichever heel first deliberately broke one of the NWA rules on illegal moves, to whit (from the 1983 edition as provided by Dory Funk Jr.)

2. Illegal Holds – Holds and maneuvers which are allowed in AAU: NCAA and Olympic wrestling competition shall be permitted in professional matches. Additional holds which are not perm4tted in amateur competition, but which involve the use of the hands, arms, feet and legs in grasping or manipulating an opponent in such a way as to gain a position of advantage in a manner consistent with the basic objectives of the sport as outlined herein: shall be permitted, provided they are not specifically excluded herein or by subsequent NWA directive.

3. Holds and Conduct not Allowed . Certain holds and types of behavior which are inherently un-sportsman like or for other reasons not in the best interests of professional wrestling will not be allowed. Wrestlers failing to adhere to these restrictions will be subject to disqualification and/or subsequent disciplinary action.

(a) The use of a closed fist is not permitted. A referee is authorized to disqualify a wrestler for the use of a closed fist after appropriate warnings. (b) Kicking with the point of the toe or heel is not permitted. Kicking with the flat of the foot or the instep is allowed.

(c) The use of karate or kung-fu thrusts or kicks is prohibited. Certain non-lethal judo moves, which may resemble these prohibited maneuvers. are allowed. Referees are expected to exercise extreme care in differentiating between legal and non-legal martial arts tactics.

(d) Pulling of hair, mask. tights or athletic gear of any sort to gain an advantage is prohibited.

(e) Eye-gouging or other efforts which would tend to impair an opponent’s vision will not be allowed.

(f) Biting any part of an opponent’s anatomy is strictly prohibited.

(g) Bending an opponent’s individual fingers in such a way as to bring about a possible fracture or sprain is not allowed.

(h) Choke holds are prohibited as is any use of the ring ropes for the purpose of impairing an opponent’s breathing.

(I) Any wrestler who deliberately strikes his opponent in the privates is subject to immediate disqualification.

(o) Deliberately throwing an opponent over the top ring rope is grounds for immediate disqualification. The exception to this is the battle royal. Battles royal may be held only with specific NWA authorization.

(p) The use of any hold or maneuver not specified herein but which in the judgment of the NWA President and / or Board of Directors is especially dangerous to participants in the NWA-sanctioned wrestling events may at any time be prohibited by a directive from NWA headquarters.

So after the point where finishers became established, a heel who would break these rules, probably. I have no idea who was the first man or woman in wrestling to have the ‘we have banned your move because it’s just too dangerous!’ storyline. Probably the piledriver in Memphis.

And if you mean actually legitimately banned, then the answer is none, as no move is banned as such, you just have moves you can’t do until you prove you can do them safely, anywhere, anytime, to anyone. And I know I’ve said this before.

Phillis asks about something else we’ve covered before.

What happened between Homicide and Dan Maff in 2005?

Homicide spoke on it at the time. And I quote (and if you’re not big on squeamish language/topics, skip the italics…):

This is the last time you will hear or see me mentioning that jabroni’s name again. Dan Maff is done in the wrestling business. Finished. Maff blackballed himself. I did not blackball Maff. Promoters had to pick me or him, and all the promoters picked me because of what Maff did. There is only one side of the story and Maff fucked up and that is why he is done and no one is using him. Maff fucked with my family and fucked with my personal life. Maff is a pedophile. I hope fans can understand this. This shit is personal. This is my life. Maff screwed Maff and blackball himself because of what he did. No promoter want to use him because of what he did. Maff is done with wrestling.

I want everyone to know that I hate Dan Maff and I don’t respect him. He’s a piece of shit. This is my personal life and the last time ever I will mention this guys name again. This is done just like Maff’s career. I know fans want to know the whole story but this is very personal and that’s all I can say. I know fans want to hear that whole interview, but it’s better off not being up there because it’s real life. Maff is done.”

As for what exactly it is… The standing rumor was Maff had sex with a relative of Homicide, a sister or niece, who was underage. Regardless of what happened, pretty much every major company chose Homicide over Maff, and Maff was forced into retirement, vacating some titles.

Then after a few years, Maff came back, and slowly rebuilt his brand, and then, the last time I touched on this, he and Homicide had worked a few shows, in different matches. Today? Not only have they had matches against each other, they’ve also teamed up. So presumably, fences have been rebuilt and such.

And on that happyish note, I bid you adieu, and see you next time, when I’ll officially be a year older.

Yay.

URGENT NOTICE: For the time being, ONLY access the site using 411WRESTLING.COM. Bookmark that URL and only access the site via that address. 411mania.com has been compromised and for your own safety, don’t use that domain for now. You’ll notice that all the links already go to 411wrestling.com URLs. Please only use that domain until further notice. Thanks.