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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ECW Announcer Walkout ...

OK - 24 hours after Raw General Manager William Regal 'pulled the plug' on the Monday night airing of Raw, Tuesday night's ECW broadcast witnessed awful, terrible, no good, very bad play-by-play guy Mike Adamle stop talking in midsentence just before the main event slot, walking out of the arena through the crowd. Following one last plug for next week's 100th ECW episode extravaganza, Tazz followed him.

WTF?

I'm not even trying to figure this out right now. I will grant WWE's two 'shock' creative decisions have gotten people abuzz ... but stunt booking can only go on so long without meat behind it before reeking of desperation. I will withhold my total panning of this new tactic until next week when we all see how it plays out, and what the followup is - but I CAN say this is a major gamble that may reap dividends with a strong followup; however, without, might finally actually be when WWE in its current form jumps the shark. At the very least, it should be an interesting trip.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Raw & Exhaustion

So I must confess to having slept through Raw too, dear readers. Yes, it was a busy weekend full of late nights, and I'm disappointed in myself as a fan these last two days. But after two late nights, especially having watched (sort of) the late version of Backlash till 2 am Sunday, and then having had a long day at school, I made it to about 10pm last night. However, I did pick up on some stuff from recaps of the show that I wanted to comment on.

  • The 'Fade to Black' ending: it was controversial for the Sopranos and I suspect it will be controversial for the WWE as well. To recap, apparently William Regal, in a fit of petulance towards the fans for not respecting him during his coronation as King of the Ring, and cheering Mr. Kennedy when he came out and gave the good ole Brit what-for, decided the fans weren't going to get what THEY wanted either - he went out to the production truck and pulled the plug on the feed for the main event 28 minutes in, before the finish. Much like with the Sopranos, this was a very controversial booking decision clearly; my opinion? I didn't see exactly how it came off so I don't know for sure. But using the information I DO know - that it was the first WWE Title match on Raw in a long time, that it had gone nearly a half hour, and that it was a solid back and forth match, I don't necessarily think it was a great idea. I don't mind this in theory - if sparsely used and on a throwaway match; I don't know if it would bother me so much if it had been done 5 minutes in. But once fans have invested a half hour of their time into a match to have it pulled off the screen (and called off in the arena after the show went off-air by the aforementioned GM), I think it's cheap. Especially if the goal is to attain casual fans: if I didn't normally watch wrestling and had just surfed by it one night, I would not tune in again, as I would not trust WWE to deliver what it promised. Not good if you're looking to rebuild the fanbase you once had.
  • Nostalgia show: the mentioning of Fuji Vice (which is dated even for me and I can't explain it - I just know it was some skit/angle/parody of some sort from the 80s), and an unadvertised surprise cameo for Roddy Piper might have been a neat little nod to longtime wrestling fans - would fans of today have appreciated or understood either, however?
  • Murdoch (or was it Cade?) singing 'Friends in Low Places' after his tag partner went off on him - huh? Raw is Karaoke???
Overall - sounds like it was a WEIRD show - fans will either love it for WWE trying something different, or hate it because it sounds like it might not have all come off quite right. Would I myself have loved it or hated it? Don't know - I'm going to try to catch a replay tonight, and if I do I'll let you know my thoughts. Otherwise, anyone wanting to provide feedback FOR this very tired wrestling blogger would be appreciated - just email me at the link in the sidebar.

See you at the matches! (so long as I stay awake thru 'em!) ;)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Backlash last night

Hi guys just a quick note before I start my RAW coverage. We didn't get to see much of Backlash last night; as I mentioned it was Passover: we thought the repeat started at 11:30 - not so much. More like 11pm. So we missed what sounded like the best match on the show, or one of them - Matt Hardy vs. MVP. And I anyway was asleep just shortly before the 4-way introductions.

That said, what I saw of the PPV - and what I've heard of it - it was a great show, probably one of the best 'off-brands' as we used to call them, in awhile. A worthy followup to Wrestlemania, with its own ample share of drama. Even Big Show-Khali, while awful and well-deserving of the 'Boring' chants, was as good as I expected it to be, and perhaps even exceeded said expectations. The women's match was even more than passable, and to me merited at least a couple of stars. The drama of Edge's severe defeat and injury (worked, I'm assuming) was also top notch, as well as Triple H's re-ascent to his throne.

And my biggest source of pride? :D I made ONE actual miscall - I called Randy Orton to retain the WWE title, whereas Triple H won it. I DID call that as the darkhorse (as opposed to Cena or JBL), but I am willing to admit that doesn't count, and it was hedging my bets. I was actually more sure that Trips would beat Orton for it one-on-one further down the road a month or two. The only other thing I predicted that didn't happen wasn't an actual results call as a booking/angle call - I thought there would be a fair number of countout/DQ/schmozzy endings going on here, as there were lots of matches in which both competitors or teams (in the case of the ladies) needed to be kept strong - they managed to do that without resorting to faulty finishes though, which I appreciated. So good job.

And the Mike Adamle ribbing? Good on y'all! :) At least we can recognize what he is, call a spade a spade, and perhaps make it a part of the angle. As long as Adamle is in on the joke, instead of the butt of it, I think I'm OK with that. Anyway - off to check out Raw. Will be back later with some thoughts. Thanks for checking back in all! XO

Friday, April 25, 2008

Backlash Predictions


Well I missed Smackdown tonight due to a ballroom dancing lesson (yeah lol how many wrestling fans can say that!), so I'm not going to comment on it, except to say FINALLY Shawn got a bit of his spunk back! Yes! :D Kick Big Dave's teeth in, HBK! Go you costing folks titles again ... missed ya, Shawny. ;)

I also have a busy Saturday ahead, and will be watching the late rerun of Backlash, if at all, due to a belated Passover dinner at my in-laws' house. But I thought I'd leave you with predictions; best case from there, late Sunday night I will have Backlash reax, worst case, Monday will be a double-post day with Backlash reax and Raw thoughts. Please don't give me up for dead this weekend though I *will* be back - unlike so often happened at my other blog. ;) And with no further adieu then ...

BACKLASH PREDIX:

World Heavyweight Champion Undertaker vs. Edge
On the one hand, I have a hard time imagining them wanting to bury Edge so far as to have him decisively beaten twice by the Undertaker. On the other hand, I can't see them just giving UT a month with the belt. I also don't like the hotshotting of the belt as always seems to be happening when Edge is champ - this past reign I believe was his longest to date, clocking in at around 3 mos. Before that it was 2. So I guess I'd predict an unclean win of some kind - either Edge wins, but by DQ or countout, or UT wins similarly upon the interference of Edge's posse.

Big Show vs. The Great Khali
While this match will admittedly be impressive to see, I fear a train wreck. First of all, I agree with whoever it was about a month ago who commented that it would be more effective having these two tag-teaming; once you have two behemoths in the ring, their impressive size almost cancels each other out, whereas if you put these two in a ring against, say, London and Kendrick, it would stand in stark contrast. Secondly though, neither are particularly 'athletic'. When you add to that the fact that Khali has two bad wheels and is scheduled to return to India after this PPV for much-needed knee surgery, not only does that take even further away from whatever athleticism might have existed here, it also makes the outcome fore-ordained; Big Show just lost to a non-wrestler 1/3 of his size, and is currently fighting an opponent headed to the DL: can't see this one coming. *sigh* Hopefully Show can carry it as well as he could the Mayweather fight, but Mayweather is at least a legit athlete: I think this one might be a bit of a - er- heavier load.

United States Champion MVP vs. Matt Hardy
This is probably the match I am most looking forward to on this card, and find the hardest to predict. On the one hand, Matt has been long due a singles title run, and MVP is heading on, I'd imagine, to bigger things anyway (paging Mark Calloway ...); and if he isn't, he should be. However, while this was the hottest feud last year, Matt's been on the sick list awhile and just came back last month; has there been enough re-build for a blowoff, which a Matt win surely would be? I for one can't wait for this match - unless Shawn Michaels pulls something truly special out of his match with Batista, or Edge and Undertaker repeat/perhaps even surpass their stellar Wrestlemania outing, For the sake of going out on a limb I am saying it's Matty's time. I am also calling this one for match of the night - and perhaps an early match of the year contender.

WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Triple H vs. JBL
(Fatal Four Way Elimination Match)
OK another one that's not easy to predict - though somewhat easier than the last one. I am going to call Randy Orton as retaining here - he will go on to a program with Triple H that will see Trips win at Summerslam, thereby giving Randy a good long run with the belt, while allowing Triple H to reclaim his crown on a bigger stage than Backlash. I'm assuming JBL is inserted into this scene to give Cena a more minor, backburner feud to keep him in the public eye on Raw, while allowing him some more flexibility to finish filming his movie as he goes on to a part-time schedule in the coming months. Ultimately we will see Triple H vs. Cena in the fall, where I predict Cena will ultimately regain the title, miraculously just in time to promote said new movie. As a dark-horse, they pull the trigger on a Triple H title reign NOW ... but with Cena about to film and JBL as being fairly new back on the scene after a long layoff, I don't see either of them as major threats at this time. And even Triple H for that matter ... they wouldn't cut short young RKO's world title reign to stroke the ego of a man who already has more accolades in the wrestling business than anyone other than his idol ... would they? :P

ECW Champion Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero
This one strikes me as a no-brainer and I'm not wasting a whole lot of screen space on it - Kane retains. His title reign is still fairly new, I expect he still has a month or two anyway left in it. After the crap this wrestler (sorry ... sports entertainer) and his character have been put through, if this tertiary belt IS taken off of him this quickly, I would be taking a good look over my contract for loopholes. Stat.

Batista vs. Shawn Michaels (Special Referee: Chris Jericho)
The hardest thing here is to predict who Jericho will screw, as that will determine the outcome of this match, as well as the future of Y2J and said screw-ee. I'm going to go with Jason Powell here and say he's going to gyp Shawn out of the win, leading to a Jericho-Michaels feud for the IC belt on Raw, freeing Batista up perhaps for a #1 contender feud with MVP? Or another World Title feud with UT, this time with the belt on the Deadman? I'm not going to try to predict the future here, I just predict that Y2J will cost Shawn the match as they have more incentive (and potentially much better matches) in fighting one another than muddying the brand waters even further. Therefore, Big Dave gets the dubious duke.

12-Diva Tag Team Match
Mickey, Maria, Ashley, Cherry, Kelly and Michelle vs. Beth, Melina, Victoria, Leyla, Natalya and Jillian
I suspect this match is going to be used to move Mickie on to her next opponent. Therefore, I think Mickey is going to lose for her team, to one of the heel gals. Given I think that focusing on WRESTLING again might be a nice change after the requisite hype Maria got for Playboy - especially since they actually have a decent roster of women's wrestlers now, as opposed to JUST eye candy - I think that Natalya is going to go over Mickey, probably in a less than clean fashion, to keep the champ strong while giving this feud some good legs to start on.

So that's it guys - I'm a bit concerned that I see a lot of potential for there to be one or two unclean finishes on this card in order to give *someone* the duke in their match while still protecting the other guy (or girl) - but the ones I predicted I don't so much have a problem with, if done right, as they do accomplish that end, and none of these matches (with the exception of Matt-MVP) should really be blow-offs necessarily anyway - they might move some people in different directions (see Shawn and Batista), but all of these matches should start the company down the post-WM path they want to go on, and in that sense I don't mind there being some unfinished business left ... again, if done right and if it serves a purpose (as in the Shawn-Batista match I predicted ... hell, anything that leads to a Michaels-Jericho program, I'm all for, pleasepleasepleaseplease!).

Anyway - we'll see how I fared with these predix Sunday night. Till then, be well and see you at the matches.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Smackdown Head Writer Michael Hayes suspended for using racial slur

Smackdown head writer Michael "P.S." Hayes, the former Fabulous Freebird, later known as Dok Hendrix ('memba him?), was suspended shortly after Wrestlemania for using a derogatory racial slur towards Mark Henry on Wrestlemania weekend. In a party environment, Hayes and MVP had been playfully bantering about who the bigger N----- was, and Hayes attempted to continue said joke with Henry, who then complained to Stephanie McMahon-Levesque and other execs, resulting in Hayes' suspension. According to Jason Powell's http://prowrestling.net, this was not a first-time occurrence and while the general consensus is that Hayes means no harm buy it, nor has he used his position as head writer to bury any minority wrestlers, it has still bothered many of 'the guys' who will laugh publicly with him, given Hayes' position, and then gripe privately.

All I can say is, good for Mark Henry. Don't get me wrong - as a performer and especially as a writer, I have huge respect for Michael Hayes; he is a great creative force and Smackdown under his guidance is one of the most entertaining shows on TV. But he is still a high-ranking executive in a publicly traded corporate environment; many companies have zero-tolerance policies in place for this kind of B.S. and in that sense, talented or no, he is lucky to still have a job - especially if this is not a first-offense deal, and he has been warned by Ms. McMahon-Levesque in the past.

I can only hope Hayes takes this as a wakeup call, as "Dog the Bounty Hunter" did, realize that kind of language, if acceptable at all, should at least be reserved to select audiences outside of a multicultural work environment, joking or no, and return to doing what he does best - writing excellent television - while having learned his lesson. My only concern is Hayes' known penchant for holding a grudge, which I have heard tales of, and which was also commented on by Jason Powell. While on a personal level I would love nothing better, professionally speaking I do hope this does not lead to a depush or burial of Mark Henry - while there are many others, this would not be a good reason and would open the company up, I would imagine, to plenty of potential legal ramifications. Let's hope professional and cooler heads win out on all sides - that Henry can forgive a (probably drunken) slip of the tongue in a casual party situation, and that Hayes can forgive Henry for rightly being offended by said slip, and we can all move on with hating Henry's onscreen performance, while loving Hayes' writing, and all being right with the world. :D

Monday, April 21, 2008

Random thoughts as Raw goes on

I don't usually do a real-time Raw report like other sites do and I'm not going to start now - but I will offer thoughts as they come along over the evening. Keep checking back as I'll update it as I can. And if you ARE following my blog live (all like, one of you or whatever), please also keep in mind I'm a Canadian, and Raw up here in Soviet Canuckistan started at 9pm so I AM belated in posting this.

  • First, you HAVE to check out TMZ for some snippets of videos the US presidential candidates made for Raw tonight. LOVE that they were willing to do that - and *I* for one smell what Barack is cookin'. ;)
  • Chris Jericho vs. MVP was a great opening match (albeit short, but that's to be expected with a 7-match tournament over the course of the night), but I have to admit to being surprised and a bit annoyed that my pick to win the tournament was eliminated in the first match of the night (being MVP) - not that I mind Y2J either, though.
  • WTF does CM Punk need with the KOTR tournament? He's got a briefcase that says he doesn't need this ... as in fact Money in the Bank pretty much represents the same thing a KOTR win did a decade and a half ago. Matt Hardy, his first round opponent, could use the momentum and rub a bit more coming back from an injury. Sigh ... Oh well, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho in round 2 should be OK at least. :)
  • That said, do NOT get me wrong. I am highly highly impressed. I WILL cop to being disappointed with the OUTCOMES of the first two tournament matches, as you may have picked up, BUT 1. I do think that's just about personal faves - from a storyline/"WWE-world" standpoint they picked the right guys to win - AND 2. the matches have been five-star by Raw standards thus far ... good stuff.
  • And then the next two matches were crap ... I mean, for real. How quickly that went south. Now I'm not writing off the tournament yet - and you'll see why in a minute - but I'm sorry, Khali vs. Finlay was more a vehicle to push forward the Khali-Big Show PPV match - and I understand this is the 'go home' Raw before a PPV, but that doesn't erase the fact they put themselves in a tough spot. To do stuff like Big Show's running interference on Khali's match cheapens the tournament; but to not pimp the upcoming PPV is to waste valuable air time, and not a good move from a business standpoint. So ... ? And I'm not even wasting blog space on Regal-Hornswoggle. Boo!
  • Although, why am I not writing the tournament off yet? The end result. Finlay-Regal, provided it goes off properly (ie, Finlay isn't essentially incapacitated by that knee), could be a really great hold-based/brawling/European-style match; stiff and grounded. Might not go over well with the thrillseeking North American audience but I don't mind that kind of match. And either way, CM Punk or Y2J vs. Regal or Finlay will provide an interesting contrast in styles for the final. Hopefully it comes off well.
  • Now - see - look at Michaels-Batista. There's a way of pimping a PPV, without interfering with the tournament. Very compelling promo, both did a good job. Batista actually came off, to me, as better than Shawn Michaels. Don't get me wrong, I am an ardent Shawn fan, but I have to admit this more subdued, quieter Shawn is starting to bug me. I love his newfound maturity yes, but you can be mature and fun-loving at the same time (I would like to think) ... he just doesn't seem himself. And I'm wondering how much of that might be real - if his heart might not be in it so much anymore.
  • PROPS to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain for lending their images to Raw tonight. I like that. As someone who follows both pretty closely, it's great. :D We should all stop taking ourselves so seriously, as these candidates did in order to appear on Raw. Yay!
  • Jericho-C.M. Punk was a MORE than passable match: no surprise considering these two and their ability level. Great match that again, I wish Chris Jericho had won, but 1. that's personal preference, not necessarily thinking with my 'promoter cap' on, and 2. again, it doesn't whatsoever take away from the quality of the bout. Nice work.
  • And I must say overall a strong Raw so far with only a legit misstep or two (and of course the occasional thing like Shawn Michaels' stoicism or a match outcome or two that I personally didn't enjoy but recognize their validity from a 'biz' standpoint). WWE thus far is two for two last week and this week ... let's see if they can keep it up for the 2nd half.
  • Not much to say about the Hillary-Barack imitators. We saw it coming - it was what it was. What I WILL say is it was better than the Rosie O'Donnell-Donald Trump parody. They had SOME wrestling moves, it WAS funny ... I just wish, as a Democrat (or at least I WOULD be a Democrat if I were American) that John McCain was subject to such skewering. But that's OK. It was actually a somewhat entertaining parody, and much better than expected.
  • Regal winning the tournament - I still stand by MVP being the right guy to win this tourney. Not terribly pleased with it. I can appreciate and understand wanting to reintroduce Regal as a full-time wrestler, but this doesn't exactly make him strong either: he beat a midget and an injured wrestler, and then a guy who wrestled two much harder-fought matches. The tournament started very, very strong and fizzled terribly in the last two rounds ... despite those matches having great potential. I'm still entertained, I still think this Raw has been strong; I'm not as critical of tonight's product as Jason Powell, over at http://prowrestling.net, who I usually agree with on all things wrestling. But what could have been a four star, two thumbs up night, is quickly becoming two or three stars, and one thumb up. Hopefully the 8-man tag is a barnburner, but I have my doubts. Matches like that, especially in the go-home segment of a Raw, with a PPV to sell that hasn't really been sold, tend to degenerate into a mischmasch of chaos, trying to tell all sorts of stories at once. We'll see though. I held out great hope for the KOTR tournament and it disappointed, basically; maybe the reverse will hold true for tonight's main event.
  • Main event not as much a schmozz as I thought it would be - nor, when I thought about it, should it have been - lots of experienced pros in that ring, lots of title history, and lots of history between a lot of the players - particularly Cena with just about everyone in that ring ... Trips and Randy Orton ... The Brothers of Destruction ... etc. Still, three or four stars, as opposed to four or five.
  • Which basically sums up Raw - very entertaining ... of course. Tons of opportunity for it to be. Still, a few dropped balls and missteps prevent it from being the 5 star show I saw potentially becoming at the end of the night. The last hour really dragged it down, and was a reminder that Raw is most successful as a 2-hour show. On a 5-star rating, I give Raw 3 1/2 stars objectively - 4 stars because I was in a mood to enjoy it and be entertained, and indeed was.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thoughts on the week in wrestling

Let's start with the stuff BEFORE Smackdown, that I was talking about the other day, that I want to address.

  1. Samoa Joe's TNA Title victory on Sunday! Finally! And yet ... so anti-climactic. I'm afraid this would have meant much, much more about 6 mos. to a year ago. But hopefully this will accomplish what TNA hopes for; with Joe's contract about to expire, hopefully this was the bone thrown to him that he needed. But hopefully it's more than that. Despite a title victory that, to me, was devoid of the pomp, circumstances and 'big moment' feel that such an ascension should have had, I sincerely wish that Joe and TNA together make up for that by giving him a strong, and at least somewhat long, title reign.
  2. Mike Adamle: just punch this guy's name into Google, or Youtube, or go to any other wrestling site and you'll hear everything I think about this guy. He's got a slick look and a shiny resume - it does not mean he's competent. He wasn't competent calling a sport he played for years (football), and then to add to that, it's woefully apparent he is NOT familiar with the WWE product, or at least not the ECW product, given he mispronounced several wrestlers' names ("The Tazz"? "Sheldon Benjamin"?), as well as leaving the "E" off of WWE. Worse, he is a PLAY-BY-PLAY guy (as opposed to colour commentary) who DOESN'T KNOW THE NAME OF A SINGLE WRESTLING MOVE, from what I can tell! While his "Uno, dos, adios ..." three count comment was kind of neat, he showed very little skill, or for that matter, potential. Do I blame him? Yes, to a degree - he's been working for the WWE for four months now. He should have some familiarity with their product. He knew he'd be calling his first matches on Tuesday - he should have done some research beforehand. Do I blame the WWE? Yes, and even moreso. They are smart people who put forward a slick product - surely they knew how bad he'd be? Surely they wouldn't throw him in the deep end like that? I've read some speculation Vince likes that this guy was so bad - anything that gets us talking, and maybe folks will tune in to ECW to see just how bad their play-by-play man is. But I don't think that's even a remotely good policy long-term, unless they're looking to turn ECW purposefully into a Mad TV-like parody of an awful indy wrestling organization, or else a similar spoof of themselves circa 1992. Which might have some place in a sport which often takes itself too seriously and forgets its roots as a carny attraction ... but I'd have to wait and see. On my opinion of Mike Adamle, however, no waiting and seeing is necessary; he's awful. It's one thing to have people with woefully little-to-no wrestling knowledge writing your product, quite another to have one onscreen exposing their lack of knowledge of the product for the world to see. It's a slap in the face to all of us who, without a broadcasting degree or experience, could do a better job than this guy simply by virtue of knowing a headlock from an ankle lock. Mike, you gots to go and soon because, I'm sorry - "Jamakin' me crazy!"
  3. King of the Ring - I am excited by this tournament coming back. A debate online this week about it, however, has been: should this 8-man tourney be comprised of the 8 top guys, as an amazing one-night spectacle featuring all of our favourite stars, or should it - as it has in the past - be comprised of mid-card and upper-midcard guys in order to give one of them the push through the glass ceiling they otherwise wouldn't get - shades of Money in the Bank (which in my opinion is the KOTR's successor in terms of the purpose it serves). I'm opting for a mix of the two - have a couple major names, like Cena or H, in the tournament, but have them fight each other early, and eliminate each other, a la Hogan and Andre at Wrestlemania IV. That way, we get the spectacle and the attraction of seeing some of the top guys, the jewels in the WWE crown, have some legit, decent matches on free TV, but they aren't damaged by losing to a Lance Cade or an Elijah Burke, while still allowing one of those guys who could really use a push to establish themselves could still take advantage of it. And before the complaints of 'Well that's giving away a PPV-level match for free' - well, first of all, it's a 3-hour Raw right? That's hardly a regular show, and USA Network will love it, seeing as they complain frequently that WWE leaves all their best stuff for PPVs anyway. And secondly, in the land of suspended disbelief that exists on WWE television, this all isn't fixed, right? So maybe it's luck of the draw who you fight first, and it's a little bit of a gift for tuning in, without looking like they're out and out "booking" a match for free that they could have charged for. Either way, tournament matches like this seldom go over the 5 minute mark, and a short match in the context of a tournament is hardly giving away a potential PPV main event.
As for SD - nothing terribly interesting, as again I think the build is all towards the 3-hour, tri-brand Raw eppy on Monday. More Edge/Vicki and Co. shenanigans on Undertaker - although this thrills me because it leads to a UT/Batista world title match next week (now you want to talk about giving away a PPV main event ... lol ... although I suppose this might have lost some marquee value as it happened so often last year), and those two always put together competent matches with one another. Otherwise, there was some interesting heat built between Batista and Chris Jericho, leading us to perhaps believe that Y2J just might call the Big Dave-Shawn match at Backlash down the middle. Here's to waiting and seeing. See you at the matches Monday! Enjoy your weekend, and here's hoping you have the lovely weather we do!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A quick check-in

Due to a bit of a family situation - my parents' dog, and mine before I moved out on my own, has been sick the last few days and passed away this morning - and there not being a whole lot of wrestling news other than speculation of participants and winners of the King of the Ring tournament, and Samoa Joe's long-awaited (but, I think, diminished due to the long wait) TNA Title reign, I haven't particularly felt inspired to write the last day or two. But I wanted to let you, my reading faithful, know that I will write either tomorrow night or Saturday about those two events, plus anything coming out of Smackdown, and Mike Adamle's atrocious debut as ECW lead announce dude (the other somewhat-newsworthy event of this week), in a mega-entry. I just didn't figure at this point it was worth writing a midsized entry when my heart isn't in it, just to do the same tomorrow - let's save it, and it will all come out in one piece. Tune in Saturday at the latest for what is bound to be a beyond-brilliant entry. ;) Meanwhile, be well. XO Sarah

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rah Rah RAW!

What a Raw last night was! Perhaps I was just an easy audience as I had been going through wrestling withdrawal due to a broken Satellite Dish - but I was thoroughly entertained. Some of the highlights:

  1. 1. Go Shawn! Speaking as a Canadian, and one of the biggest Bret Hart fans I know, I actually agree desperately with Shawn that there comes a point one should stop having to apologize for their past. They've either changed, or not; you've either accepted that change, or not. No apologies, at this point, are going to change anyone's opinion in favour of Michaels. Conversely, no lack of remorse is going to change the minds of those who love him. Therefore, he hit just the right note of 'I've changed', and yet defiance.
  2. Conversely, Chris Jericho was also pitch-perfect. I hate to say I'm excited to see him turn heel because I LOVE cheering him. I don't want to have to boo him. But he's an awesome heel, because whatever little restraints face-dom puts on his character are then set aside. Way to go, Y2J!
  3. Some major focus on tag team and chick wrestling - all in one week! Now, I hope this is the start of a trend of listening to us fans, although I'm nervous it isn't: they've started some hints of Cryme Tyme breaking up, as well as Cade and Murdoch and they've even teased dissension between Kendrick and London ... I hope this isn't the tag division going out in a blaze of glory. On the plus side - go Mickey!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
  4. Willy Regal can wrestle! He doesn't have the most exciting style, and perhaps Orton doesn't 'jazz' it up enough to put him in the ring with Mr. Regal, but I enjoyed the matt-based, European style match. That said, my one suggestion to Regal: please oh please don't be so sloppy, especially in moves such as suplexes where you are being trusted with your opponent's head and spinal column in particular. At least one of those, if not a couple, looked like awfully nasty drops, and I don't think Orton was completely working us by favouring his neck after the match.
  5. Trips vs. JBL was another match that was hardly exciting but good for what it was ...
Which I suppose sums up the whole show. This week was not the 'pay off': next week's 3 hour King of the Ring tournament on Raw, and the following week's "Backlash" PPV are the 'big shows' (apologies to Paul Wight). But this was a solid show, with solid work both in-ring and on the mic (hell, Mike Adamle wasn't as suckitudinous as he usually is), which featured a LOT of in-ring action, and a couple tag team-based matches and angles, as well as a women's title change (you lucky Brits!). On the whole: good show - keep it up.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Comments on some WWE Developments

So didn't get to see Smackdown - satellite will be fixed tomorrow we were just waiting for the rain to stop so we could mix the concrete and fix it up - but I did hear about some of the goings-on. First, excited about the arrival of Natalya "Nattie" Neidhart on SD in the women's division - can't wait to see her end up going 'round with Beth Phoenix. What a bruising match that will be! I know it will take some face-heel finagle-age, and some brand mixing-up, but it would still be an awesome, hard-hitting, stiff match: something you don't see much of in Diva-land.

Also, excited that they're pursuing the MVP-Matt Hardy feud and finally giving Matty his US Title shot. I'm a *little* upset they hotshotted it; with him being out, they should have taken some time to rebuild the feud and maybe give him the shot at Vengeance as opposed to Backlash - but I also understand they've been building this up for almost a year now, Matt's illness with his appendicitis was a major setback to an angle they were finally going to blow off, so maybe they don't want to make fans wait much longer. I see both sides - either way it can be salvaged with an awesome match-rematch (if Matt wins). I await that before rendering my verdict.

And lastly - Undertaker vs. Festus? Does this qualify as mismatch of the year yet? Like, really. MAYBE JBL vs. that Irish guy from ECW comes in ahead of that, but otherwise ... boo!

Before I go - on a non-SD related note, just a commentary on WWE's invitation to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to appear on the Raw broadcast before the Pennsylvania primaries: *I* would take them up on it, personally. You can reach out to a group who doesn't usually vote, and where else can you get a platform of 8 million young voters all at once? Go for it! Do it! It will make you look cooler than anything else you can possibly do ... lol. And even if not ... well, do it anyway, I beg you - please spare us the Rosie O'Donnell-Donald Trump-esque look-not-so-alikes that are inevitable if you *don't* make an appearance. Please? And thanks. ;)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Random commentary

Hey guys - between being sick (see http://shortysar.blogspot.com for the explanation) - and my still-kaput satellite (ie, not exactly prime TNA watching tonight, or ECW on Tuesday, or Raw on Monday as already discussed), I've been out of the wrestling loop moreso than I'd like this week, and therefore not posting as often (or, more to the point, as in-depth) as I would like. But I would like to mention a few of the things that have been bandied around on the internet newswaves of late, with some thoughts:

  1. The new TNA video game: with both Kurt Angle AND Samoa Joe hyping the new TNA video game as superior to Raw vs. Smackdown 2008 - universally seen as one of the best wrestling video games of all time, and very cutting edge - it had better be good! TNA unfortunately has developed a rep for hyperbole, with its overeager, overloud announce team of Mike Tenay and Don West, with Kurt Angle developing a reputation as a Hulk Hogan-esque, kayfabe artist truth stretcher, and a lot of blind eyes being turned to discontent in the locker room, TNA should stick to setting reasonable expectations for its product. That way, if those expectations are exceeded (ie, with their women's division) it is a pleasant and fascinating surprise. If not, it is generally understood that it is a young and growing company - however, if they are trying to pass themselves off as genuine competition to WWE (and perhaps even their better), they are going to be held to that standard and - I'm sorry - found wanting. It's been said before but it bears repeating: whatever else, you cannot out-WWE the WWE. You can focus on the wrestling product, target a different demo, do any number of things - but what they do, they do the best. Success for TNA lies in differentiating, not copying and comparing, the original.
  2. The Rock and what he owes the wrestling world: I tend to agree with those who say he doesn't owe it anything. The reality is he is resented by wrestlers because he had the talent, gumption and intelligence to do what they all wish they could do: make more money, working less, at a less physically demanding job. I mean, let's face it - what does Vince McMahon say about his wrestlers? That he makes movies, and they are action stars. Well, then, the Rock really is still doing the same job right? Making more money for fewer hours and less strain on his body. Other than a real lifer like Ric Flair with a real specific love for the business, he is only doing what every other wrestler who is honest with themselves would do as they get older and have a family, etc. Those who say otherwise, simply put, are jealous, or simply not that bright. Having said that - IS wrestling where the Rock comes from, and should he be grateful for that? Yes. It would be NICE for him to make more WWE appearances, and so on - but he isn't OBLIGATED to, is my point. To me, he does a service for wrestling every time he goes out there to promote a movie or do interviews: everyone knows his original job was as a pro wrestler, and he is a talented and well-spoken individual who it is public knowledge was a part of this industry. He is a gold nugget of PR for a business that sorely needs one.
  3. The drugs found in the former home of Mike Knox and 3 other wrestlers - I understand in light of the Benoit tragedy, the steroid bust earlier which saw ten wrestlers suspended etc., that this is news. But meanwhile, does the mainstream media know that on the acclaimed "Idol Gives Back" program last night, four wrestlers appeared to shill for charity? That the WWE goes to Iraq every Christmas? That they had 50 Make-a-Wish kids in the audience at Wrestlemania 24, one of their best pay-per-views in months, if not years? Oh! Right! No. They're too busy talking about the pyro accident which mildly injured a few fans in the nosebleeds. Not saying those stories, or Andrew "Test" Martin's DUI arrest this week, aren't newsworthy. But wrestling is not all evil, either - that's like suggesting every pop singer is Britney Spears, or every supermodel is Naomi Campbell. While their are ills in those industries which must be addressed, it is simply not true and I'd love to see the day a feel-good piece was written about the good the WWE does, alongside all the smut and tragedy.
And that's it folks! I'll hopefully have my TV back tomorrow and be back w/my comments on Smackdown - if not, I'll be back with a plea for a report. ;) Cheers for now then.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

So -

My satellite remains a POS; I can fill in on some stuff that happened on Raw and my gut reaction to hearing about it, but does anyone want to enlighten me or my readers on the details? Please fill in any blanks you notice to the following.

  1. Obviously I didn't catch the Batista-Shawn Michaels promo on Chris Jericho's highlight reel but I get the sense it was more of the same - two basically good dudes with defensible positions, with Batista sounding subtly whinier/heelish in prep for an eventual turn. I like the idea for this feud. Good stuff.
  2. The fatal four-way setup for Backlash (Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena vs. JBL for the WWE Title): I don't mind the concept of a fatal four-way in and of itself as much as some others do - but so quickly on the heels of a triple threat WM main event? With a contender like JBL who really hasn't done enough since his return, nor quite honestly before his 'retirement', to warrant a spot in this foursome? JBL's addition to this mix was sudden and not particularly logical, with little backstory to get fans invested in his involvement, either for or against. Add an already-gimmicky match, for which two of the four competitors (and the two, by the way, who were in the WM title picture, and therefore should have been ahead of the line) had to fight in handicap matches to qualify (ie, further gimmickry), and it gives the real feeling WWE doesn't feel that their current champ, OR whoever they choose to succeed him, can really carry a one-on-one main event on a bigtime PPV.
I think those were the two biggest developments - anyone care to add? Please do!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Smackdown from Fri.

So I still haven't had a chance to see SD as our satellite is still busted - and no one sent me in a report! (shame on y'all ... lol) However I have read some of the synopses and it sounds like it was an overall good show. Some highlights I managed to catch on Youtube:

  1. The Batista-Shawn Michaels promo: interesting. They both have a defensible stance - Shawn DID just do what Ric Flair asked him to do at Wrestlemania; he brought nothing less than his "A" game, and Flair, per storyline, simply couldn't withstand it. However, Shawn has a reputation which precedes him of not doing jobs, and so it's understandable Batista could be wary of Shawn's intentions and motives. A great opportunity to create a couple of potential tweeners, before 'Tista inevitably (in my opinion, as opposed to Michaels) turns heel.
  2. The end of the Diva Contest, and the arrival of Nattie Neidhart! The first part of the preceding sentence holds not because the final was particularly riveting - they just came out to hear who won - but because this stupid ass contest is over! The second half speaks for itself. A beautiful Diva who can actually wrestle, from the fabled Hart family; this can (I HOPE!) only mean good things for the future of women's wrestling. While it would have been nice to have her come in as face to wrestle Victoria on SD, or else show up on Raw where the actual women's division is, there was some satisfaction derivine from seeing her pummel Michelle McCool and Cherry - so it's all good.
  3. Kane vs. Undertaker for the first time in a couple years. Plus their reunion at the end to take out the Rated R-my and do their signature pose at the end of the ramp w/matching titles held aloft. Ooooh, the old days. Paul Bearer would be proud!
So as I said, that's all I got a chance to see on Youtube. Feel free to provide any further reporting, comments or feedback if you've got it! :D Thanks.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Oh where art thou Smackdown report?

Due to general crumminess of weather here this week (TONS of rain), our satellite dish is not functional, nor will it be until tomorrow. Therefore I am asking a major solid of any of my 17 readers out there (OK ... 16 ... I know one of those is me. ;) ) --

Anyone willing to provide me a Smackdown report will receive my undying thanks, and credit for the report here on the blog. Please provide either via my comments section, or by email at inthisveryring@gmail.com -- thanks!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Woman claims son's death inspired by WWE action

Here is the article on this subject as it appears over at http://www.prowrestling.net - fast becoming one of my favourite wrestling sites, by the way:

***

"The mother of a two year-old son who was allegedly killed by his four year-old brother told St. Louis police that the older boy was pretending to be a WWE wrestler when he choked his brother with part of a curtain. The woman says she's convinced that exposure to professional wrestling played a part in the death of her son. A police investigation is ongoing."

***

I felt compelled to write back to editor Jason Powell, and I thought I'd share my comments with you all - MY readers here at In This Very Ring:

"Granted this is possible but - might I ask what this woman was doing allowing her FOUR YEAR OLD SON to watch WWE? In this day and age, with the violence level of the product upped, as well as all other manner of vulgarity, she should on some level be held criminally responsible - or at LEAST criminally negligent. NOT acceptable parenting here in the least. You might debate what an acceptable age to start watching pro wrestling is (or whether it's ever appropriate), but it sure as heck isn't 4."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wrestlemania 24 & Monday's Raw

So I haven't written anything since WM and Raw because I've had a hard time putting into words the power of these shows. I HAVE been working on expressing myself, though, as you'll see in a moment. But it's been a struggle - on the one hand, it doesn't feel right to critique these last two shows, as they've just been such a strange and special and unusual time in this business - at the same time, so pivotal, with Ric Flair's retirement, that I don't feel it can go uncommented on. So before doing my 'hits and misses' of the WM long weekend, let me share with you the Ric Flair slideshow I've spent the last two days putting together.


video

As I'm sure I don't need to explain to anyone reading this blog, this is the equivalent of the Rolling Stones calling it a day - and while I believe the leadup to Flair's retirement weekend could have been done ten times better, this weekend itself couldn't have been handled any more beautifully. His Hall of Fame induction was handled with class and aplomb, his match with Shawn Michaels was better than any match between a 59 year old and 43 year old had any right to be, and the retirement ceremony on Monday moved me to tears - for the record, I haven't cried over wrestling since the Benoit murders last year. So way to handle that - amazing job WWE, as only you can do when you set your mind to it.

As for the rest of the card (oh yeah - there WAS a 'rest of the card'):

WM

  • AWESOME opening video package with an "A lot can change in a year" theme. After the Year of the Benoit Murders, a year where the top of the card on both Raw and Smackdown brands were plagued with injuries (Triple H ... John Cena ... Ken Kennedy ... Undertaker ... Edge ... Rey Mysterio Jr. ... MVP ... Matt Hardy ...), there was a lot more movement around the card than I thought; way to address that, without dwelling on it. Tastefully done, and an acknowledgement of a VERY roller coaster 12 months.
  • Very solid matches from everybody, a few 4- and 5-stars; those who didn't put on a stellar match, at least put their hearts and souls into it in ways I haven't seen in a long while (see the Divas match). Even Floyd Mayweather-Big Show pleasantly surprised me in that it didn't suck, and both men worked hard. Almost everyone did ... after all, if you can't get it up for WM, you have no right to be there. I mean, when else are you going to bring your A-game? In particular I'm talking to ...
  • Kane? Beating Chavo Guerrero in 9 seconds? This is worthy of WM? Oh well ... at least it was decisive ...
RAW
  • Not really a lot to say - I liked the opening teases of John Cena and Triple H's music. Since apparently only 8% of WWE fans, according to their own poll, thought Randy Orton was walking out of WM with the WWE Title, this was a great way to play up the suspense for anyone who didn't get to see the show (though how that many people couldn't have seen that coming is beyond me ... yes, Triple H was my #1 pick, but Orton was an incredibly close second).
  • Otherwise, the only thing I can quasi-complain about is that I didn't feel a whole lot of acknowledgement of WM, or moving on from it, was done (the most glaring example: neither Triple H or Cena sold their disappointment at their title losses; I could also mention they didn't segway Shawn into his next storyline, but a. they kind of did (anyone notice Batista's glares at him?) and b. that's understandable ... as is the reasoning behind the lack of moving forward; to do so would have been to take away from the real purpose of this night, which was acknowledging Ric Flair's contributions to the industry. So in that sense ... well done. I'll be sad, but interested, to see what the new post-RF wrestling landscape looks like when we address it next week.
  • The programs they DID move along with - Big Show v. Khali should be interesting, though perhaps not a wrestling clinic - and I hope they didn't just abandon the London/Kendrick breakup tease; that could be an interesting storyline to play out. I also liked the Chris Jericho-CM Punk match; here's hoping this leads to a program down the line (or perhaps, now ... perhaps a fight for the MITB briefcase vs. IC title at Backlash?).
So that's it, except - did anyone see Tuesday's ECW? I heard it was pretty decent but didn't catch it. Email me at inthisveryring@gmail.com if you want to write me up a report about it. Thanks! :D

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