Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supplemental Draft 2008 Note

Hi guys, I mentioned WWE usually does a mid-week trade to supplement the Monday Night draft every year and this year was no different. The supplemental draft happened tonight. However, I'm in the midst of moving houses and don't really even have the time to justify writing this - so please just know I am aware of it, and I will comment on it either later tonight if finishing up packing doesn't go too late, or else (and unfortunately more likely) on Friday when I've moved and my internet connection is back up. Cheers till then.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Other Raw Thoughts


Were actually decent for the most part. Don't get me wrong; they weren't all technically stellar, or high-flying or any of that. But every one of them pretty much was entertaining, and due to the draft, served a purpose. When was the last Raw about which that could be said? The only unfortunate blemish here was the (I believe) real-life injury sustained by Melina in the diva's tag team match ... although some excellent Diva action until then (again - when was the last time ...?).


Was superb, especially considering every announcer worked with at least one or two different partners over the night. Lots of amusing jokes at the expense of Mike Adamle, but otherwise they all seemed at ease and comfortable, and the one clearly tense moment - JR's draft over to Smackdown - was essentially irrelevant due to JR's being a pro and doing his job despite his clear disappointment at the move.


Were intriguing. I have to admit I thought folks as brilliant as Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels could have come up with better than the ole "Shawn isn't really a good guy look at all the people he's turned on" trick, but these two are still good enough to make even that interesting. My one mixed review: the 'set falling on Vince, injuring him' angle. First the negative: CLEARLY bad taste. We are not one month removed from a stagehand at TNA being killed by a falling set at the Impact Zone; we are not quite twelve months removed from the "Vince is dead" kayfabe/shoot angle that was cut short by Chris Benoit. Vince should not be pressing such sensitive buttons so quickly - especially out of respect for the dead ring hand.

That said - Triple H's involvement, Vince calling him "Paul" (his real name), and the potential for mistakes to be learned from in a second go-round of an aborted angle (for starters, the whole Vince not supposedly being dead thing) might make this salvagable, and even quite entertaining, if the bad taste can be gotten past (which in wrestling, depends on how the angle is pulled off - if it IS quite entertaining, we will all 'dance, monkeys, dance' - however, the political incorrectness of this storyline will be amplified if not done right). Another plus - thus endeth the Vince McMania $1,000,000 giveaway which has unfortunately dominated far too much of my Raw viewing time the last 3 weeks. Although it's unfortunate that had to happen only after some of the most entertaining giveaway sketches ever - Khali yelling at the phone after he and Vince McMahon were assumed to be telemarketers and hung up on by one contestant was priceless - perfect timing and right on the money for his character.

So here's hoping for WWE to be finally getting it right - two weeks out of the last three, and for a few pay-per-views now, they've shown us they're capable of it. Hopefully between the draft and a very intriguing (though un-PC) angle, we're in for a treat as the summer heats up. *I* can't wait.

WWE Draft 2008

The story of last night's Raw, when all was said and done, was the draft, which was the most exciting and full-of-surprises draft WWE has done. There were some other major angles too - Vince's injury, Shawn Michaels' return in his hometown, and the very first time I have ever been entertained by the Great Khali. So I'm going to divide this post into two parts. First my thoughts on the Draft and what this means for WWE going forward, particularly into the Night of Champions PPV, and then on the rest of Raw.

This isn't entirely a bad pick, given how everything shook out. I will admit to being concerned about it at first - with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena and Jeff Hardy all crowding the main event or upper-mid-card level as faces (where Rey has traditionally fallen these last few years), I thought the Raw roster was too crowded to really be beneficial for Rey to be squeezed in there. Especially given he has a built-in feud on Smackdown (a former world champion on a brand where the current world champion is involved with a family with whom Rey has much history), and given that Smackdown's about to undergo a network move which would require all hands on deck, I figured he was a lock to stay. But given some of the later moves, I think this could work out well: Rey will make an excellent Intercontinental Champion and I look forward to him feuding with Chris Jericho (or Shawn Michaels, whoever comes out on top of that feud - either one would make an excellent opponent for the returning Rey).

This, in a way, makes sense and is one of my favourite trades of the night. WWE obviously wants to believe in Jeff Hardy and recognizes his over-ness. However, they have some understandable and well-founded concerns, given his second drug-related suspension a couple of months ago, regarding his reliability to carry the Big Brand (Raw) in the main event picture. Smackdown is a great way to go, giving him some fresh, exciting feuds with MVP, Edge and the like, while covering their bases, should Hardy get to strike #3, as a taped show with lower viewership than the Monday night juggernaut.

Pick #3: CM PUNK to RAW
The first trade I really had a problem with. Don't get me wrong - I was glad to see CM Punk rescued from ECW obscurity (although if I knew how bereft they'd leave ECW, I'd be wishing he'd been left there ... given that Matt frickin' Hardy is the biggest name left on that brand right now, I'm guessing they're covering their bases for the eventual cancellation of the brand). But anyway, I'd hoped to see Punk moved over to Smackdown for much the same reason I was concerned about Rey Mysterio being moved to Raw: I thought there was much more potential in feuds between him and Edge, him and MVP, eventually him and Undertaker or even him and Batista, than seeing CM Punk going against Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton ... although Punk-Shawn Michaels would have been, and might still be, a sight to behold. That said, again given some of the later moves, the playing field has been leveled somewhat between Team Red and Team Blue, so perhaps this wasn't the "big fish from the small pond heading over to an overwhelmingly big pond" I thought it would be.

Pick #4: MATT HARDY to ECW
And with this we have our first championship to switch brands. On the plus-side, Matt Hardy is now a lock to be the Hardy Brother to get his first World Title ... too bad it just doesn't mean anything. Bottom line; now that Kane has been drafted to Raw (see draft pick #9), he'll have to lose the title soon. Whether he loses it directly to Matt, or whether there's a step in between, my bet is that Matty's ECW champ by summer's end. And who's going to change that? Miz? Morrison? On the plus side ... this could be the opportunity that ECW's underappreciated bright lights - Elijah Burke, Kofi Kingston, et al - have been waiting for. Not to mention Hardy will be a shot in the arm for ECW ... even if I'm sure there are other places he'd rather be. Look for him to lose his US title soon now however (perhaps to Chavo on Sunday, who will lose it to the rapidly-going-face MVP on Porter's way to the Big Belt) - I'm assuming the powers-that-be would rather the secondary titles remain on one of the two bigger brands.

Putting these ones together as they came from the same match (which ended in a draw). This kind of pissed me off - there has been nothing wrong with the announce teams as-is, and I'm disappointed in WWE feeling the need to do this. JR could barely disguise his displeasure, while Michael Cole was more than happy to move; while Smackdown more than earned back some street cred later, I found both announcers' reactions to the draft damaging to the Blue Brand. As a loyal employee of long standing, JR - if he is telling the truth in his blog today about finding out at the same time as us about his brand switch - should also have been given more of an opportunity to call a few of his own shots at this point in his tenure ... or at least been given fair warning of his new position. I'm telling myself this is more about wanting to stay with old friend Jerry Lawler than any kind of discrimination against the SD brand, but either way, as WWE's most senior announcer, JR could have been treated better. Nice promotion, however, for Michael Cole - we'll see how he and the King work out.

Pick #7: BATISTA to RAW
I said when this went through that it made the outcome of this Sunday's Batista-Edge matchup a foregone conclusion, and I still stand by that assessment. However I've changed which way it will come out, going by draft #11, which you'll see later. I predict Batista beating Edge on Sunday and bringing the World Heavyweight Title over to Raw. A nice switch, as Batista's been on Smackdown awhile and has exhausted many of his feud possibilities over there, unless he were relegated to midcard status which I don't think he's quite there yet. Here he can continue ongoing issues with Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho without brand-hopping, while creating some exciting new matchups, some of which I don't believe we've ever seen yet, such as vs. John Cena, or a revisiting of his old midcard feud with Randy Orton as former Evolution-aries. My prediction here is that Batista will win Edge's title, leading into a feud with Randy Orton culminating at Summerslam, and I predict Batista-Cena -- a longtime, never-been-done feud between two guys elevated to top-card status at the same time -- as a WM 25 headliner. I just hope they don't pull the trigger on that one too quickly, as it's one of the few feuds they have in the can that we have barely even gotten a whiff of, and yet is so obvious all at the same time - let it simmer, boys, let it simmer.

Predictable but the right way to go - a fresh feud for UT when he's back, a possible threat to the US title, and a possible foil to MVP for best upper-midcarder. Easily and believably thrown into main events, while not hurt too badly by midcard adventures - a good, flexible hand to have on any roster. I just question the one foreordained pick in the lot going so late in the process.

Pick #9: KANE to RAW
And Kane is bound to lose his ECW title with this move - although with ECW touring with Raw now instead of Smackdown, this could generate some cross-brand promotion, and some broader appeal for the struggling junior brand. Either way, Kane is an adequate replacement for Umaga, as a big guy who is considered a legitimate threat and main eventer, yet has been beaten enough that he can be used to enhance where need-be as well without giving away too much. I look forward to seeing his work with ... oh, I don't know. People. On Raw. *shrug*

Now I'd really have preferred to see Kennedy moved to ECW. I think he'd provide Matt Hardy some competition at the top of the card, enhance ECW's clout, and at least give them a second draft pick instead of only the one while Smackdown and Raw both clean up and make their brands fresher and more interesting. That said, it was around here that I started thinking this was a good night for Smackdown and I still believe that. With Kennedy, Jeff Hardy, MVP, and Umaga on the US title level and able to move up as needed, and Edge, eventually the Undertaker and ... well ... the next guy solidly on the main event level, SD definitely became every bit as interesting as Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Batista and Randy Orton's Raw. The wildcard being where Undertaker winds up upon his return.

This is it folks, the transfer Paul Levesque (Trips) has been resisting for years. Obviously, the shift of Smackdown from the CW network to MyNetworkTV is a big deal to the WWE and they want at least a few top guns over there. However, with his departure, that leaves Raw world title free - why I believe Batista will beat Edge and take the World Heavyweight Title with him (and if he DOESN'T, look for Cena to win the belt off of Trips to evenly weigh belts and brands again - since both matches have now become interpromotional, look for at least ONE title to change hands). Either way, I'm going with the first scenario (Trips retains HIS belt and Batista beats Edge for HIS) as the most likely, leaving the WWE Title (which H holds) as the Smackdown brand belt. The same comment I applied to Batista-Cena also applies to H-Edge: another barely-hinted-at-but-obvious feud. I'd LIKE to see them hold off on pulling this trigger until WM 25, but I'm thinking Batista-Cena has a better chance of that, especially if Cena has a movie to be out promoting and Batista can keep himself sidetracked with Randy Orton, and perhaps Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. I'm suspecting Edge-Triple H will be the Summerslam main event, while the REAL biggie ... Triple H vs. Undertaker, which we haven't seen in like, a decade ... will headline WM 25 (of which, in one way, I have a sinking feeling the Deadman's winning streak will be DOA, ended by a man who doesn't really need that accolade). H and Undertaker, as two locker room leaders, elder statesmen with egos, have studiously avoided each other for years. If that continues, and UT goes Raw-side upon his return, who knows; but look for this to be the Big Thing WWE builds towards if Taker's return is to the Blue Brand.

Either way, some exciting things, I'm generally actually thrilled with the draft results, and can't wait to see how this all plays out at Night of Champions.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Monday's Draft

So it's been a busy week, I haven't posted as much as I'd have liked to and yesterday's post was short - but I have a bit of time now so I'd like to discuss probably the biggest thing going on in the wrestling world (or at least WWE land) these days: the Draft. Think of this like any other sports draft - Raw, Smackdown, and ECW are teams. They earn the right to draft members of their competitions' rosters, over to theirs. It's always a fun source of prediction, and one that isn't quite as 'spoiler-ish' as others tend to be because the WWE tends to stay fairly tight-lipped about it. So here are some of my predictions as to who will be working where as the dust settles Monday night.

Please know I'm going to focus on wrestling talents here, not divas, announcers, GMs or refs - although one or two might slip in as I think of it, I just don't pay attention quite as much to those aspects of things. And on the 'GM' note I do hope a new Raw GM is chosen this week to replace the sorely missing William Regal. I'm also going by last year, where 10 names were drafted on TV, and 8 were drafted later on. I'm not focusing on the midcard draft that may happen mid-week (if last year was any indication) - I'm focusing on the televised draft, and will comment on any further mid-week switches when I find out of that will be happening.

This is a fairly obvious one, as it's the one WWE head honcho Vince McMahon hasn't been so incredibly tight-lipped about. He mentioned this as a likelihood at a shareholders meeting a few weeks ago. Now, I'm not sure if the likelihood has gone down, as the main purpose I see to Umaga's transfer would be to feud with the Undertaker, as one of the major feuds they haven't yet had, and UT is currently 'retired'. But he would have the opportunity to feud with Batista, Matt Hardy for the U.S. title, an MVP who will have turned face if he sticks around ... plus Smackdown's association with ECW will create opportunities for him to work again with former handler Armando Alejandro Estrada (although I think I've read around the internet that ECW is about to start touring with the Raw brand, so perhaps not?).

This isn't so much a prediction - they're giving him a face-ish push against the World Heavyweight Champ on Smackdown, he's mid-storyline, which would indicate he's probably staying put - but given that his storyline is soft, and I think there are still way way WAY too many places for his heel character to go, I think heading over Raw-side to feud with WWE Champ Triple H (and/or Cena - whoever comes out on top next Sunday is still a face champion) would give this guy the opportunity he deserves to shine on the Big Show, while remaining a heel. Like Edge and Randy Orton before him, I think he's a much better heel character than he'd be as a face and I think the mileage left in that tank should be used before pulling the trigger. See what happened to John Cena when a salty, trashtalking heel/tweener goes face too soon because the WWE suits don't think fans can wait for a good thing.

He's spinning his heels on Raw - with three top faces (Cena, Triple H, Michaels) AND - if my prediction about MVP is right, three top heels (Chris Jericho, MVP, eventually Randy Orton again), their main event scene is crowded. Good for fans, bad for upper midcard talent trying to crash through the glass ceiling without breaking their heads on it (see Copeland, Adam and Van Dam, Rob from circa 2004/05). He'd be a decent fit on Smackdown too, but if my next prediction is correct, they're going to be getting pretty top-heavy too (Umaga, Edge, Batista, Undertaker and Rey Mysterio upon their returns, and the next guy ...). What does ECW have, meantime? Miz and Morrison? Kane? Let's send Kennedy somewhere he can really shine.

Here's a guy with a Money in the Bank briefcase who I don't think has won a match since winning it. He's accomplished everything, beaten everyone on ECW except their current face champ (I think), and really the ECW title is perceived as his for the asking anyway - he doesn't need the MITB for that, and the briefcase is supposed to elevate the person holding it to levels they might not have gotten to otherwise (see Copeland, Adam and Van Dam, Rob ... oh, Deja Vu!). However I think CM Punk would get horribly lost in the shuffle on Raw, and his talents would not be best served there. Smackdown, meanwhile, in its current state, is face-bereft. Yes they have UT and Mysterio, but they're on the DL and I'm unsure as to their return times. So unless WWE is keeping under wraps either of their immediately imminent returns, where does Edge go after Batista, who he's already beaten? Yup - the guy who holds the position he originated, Mr. Money in the Bank himself, CM Punk.

Batista has exhausted all his feasible options on Smackdown. Yes, he and Umaga could have a good feud and THAT would be new, but Batista just got out of a grudge feud while really - even though I think his days as a real serious World Champ are over - he should be at least chasing the belt or supporting those who do. All his strongest work has been associated with the Raw brand of late - feuding with Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels, hinting at an Evolution reunion with Randy Orton - and there would be plenty of opportunity for either fresh feuds, or to revisit feuds of yesteryear which would SEEM fresh (see H, Triple). Short-term this would hurt Sunday's PPV due to making the outcome of him vs. Edge obvious, but perhaps not even too badly as last month's offering showed 'anything can happen' still in the WWE, and they might have earned some goodwill on unpredictability from that.

Don't have a whole lot to say here - I think these two guys are being badly misused where they are, and could serve a better purpose over on ECW. Personally I don't think Big Show vs. Edge would be a bad watch, or Finlay vs. Matt Hardy for the US title, but WWE doesn't seem to want to give us that anytime soon - let's get some of the younger guys over to ECW (thinking Kendrick and/or London, thinking Kenny Dykstra, these guys who aren't getting anywhere), but let's keep some strong, salty, veteran hands who fit what ECW has become to help mould them.

I think Raw has enough good promo men (Y2J, Shawn Michaels, even the King of Kings himself) to justify sending this guy over to SD, where the best promos of late have been delivered by (!) Vicki flippin' Guerrero. He's a solid midcard hand, could have some entertaining feuds with MVP if he stays over there, or Matt Hardy, etc. ... I think this could be good times. Especially since, quite frankly, I don't think his tag team partner is much longer for the WWE world.

OK I know I said I wasn't going to spend too much time on the ladies, and I'm not. And I hate to make this prediction, as Smackdown has a real lack of women who can actually wrestle, while having a new women's title there to boot. But then trade over one of the wrestling girls from Raw (Mickie, Beth, Melina) - the reason this makes sense to me is there's been some serious buzz about building a second-generation 'young guns' stable (featuring people in the category of Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase Jr., Harry Smith), and Nattie certainly fits that bill.

This is NOT hedging my bets, by the way. This is what will probably be done, vs. what should be done. If it were me, I'd ship JBL to ECW. I think he - coupled with Kane and with Finlay or Show - could make a real 'Old Guard of WWE' invading the hip, young, talented edgy promotion featuring the stars of the future. Especially of interest, since JBL HATES the ECW concept. However, here's where the reality sets in. He genuinely DOES hate the concept - that's the real John Layfield, not just his onscreen character - and has long expressed regret that his in-ring return occurred on Raw and not Smackdown. He has Vince's ear, so reality check time - he's going to Smackdown. If this DOES happen, look for him to return to commentating duties while wrestling part-time (see Lawler, Jerry, albeit more active), and perhaps replace one of these picks with Mick Foley replacing Mike frickin' Adamle on ECW (come on ... him and Tazz? OK ... maybe not ... maybe that's just too much personality).

Yes - here I AM hedging. But hear me out. The ECW or SD waffle isn't so much waffling as to say that whichever JBL DOESN'T go to, the other will. And I'm waffling on which one will go because both are young guys who've gotten a push in recent weeks, who have people in the company quite high on them, but aren't quite going to make it in the big shark tank that is Raw yet. So send them off to less visible, but higher-on-the-card, spots to hone their skills, and bring them back to rock the Raw casbah in a year or two.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I want ...

This DVD! :D Can't wait till it comes out (or, if it's already out, when I have the time to grab it amidst moving and tying up school-related loose ends, etc.).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday Night Raw

A good show! Surprising. Even the McMillion Dollar Giveaway calls were quasi-funny and entertaining this time. :) Jericho's heel turn was furthered, with a surprise appearance by Ric Flair and a match with Triple H - one of the best Raw main events I've seen in a long time. Jericho is definitely the MVP of Raw right now. And way to begin the expected push of Lance Cade - albeit a bit out of nowhere and I'll be interested at the explanation of his involvement (Shawn trained him and he agrees with Y2J's assessment of his former mentor?).

They did a good job of making Triple H and Cena seem like a 'Big Time Match', which it is. We lose sight of the fact as this feud has been whispered about and even touched upon lightly for two or three years, but they've never REALLY locked horns for any protracted period of time, and it makes sense they would. Way to bring home the importance of this match.

The tag championship match was sadly forgettable and short - the wrestling action as a whole other than the main event was actually way too minimal and abysmal to care about - but it did build some intrigue going into Night of Champions - I'm sticking with my prediction of a Cody Rhodes heel turn on Bob Holly.

And WTF about the push on Charlie Haas? I mean, it's good - he gets some time with the divas (what does wife and baby mama Jacquie think?), and some time on the stick, and he's good at it - but like Cade, it's out of nowhere. Could WWE really be realizing finally they need to build some talent for the future? YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!

This show, in short, was better by yards than last week. But then, that's what WWE does, isn't it? They create progressively lower and lower expectations, so that when they finally exceed them (which they inevitably do from time to time, so low are they), we are thrilled at whatever scraps they throw us. Am I being too harsh? Would I have enjoyed this show as much if it weren't so refreshing and such a big improvement on last week, while still *playing* on last week? I'm not sure. But hopefully they'll keep on THIS trend enough to find out. Either way, next week will be good (I hope!), as I'm looking forward to the draft - always a good time, tho I hope they're kinder to Smackdown this time than they were the last go-round. My one complaint: isn't it rendered kind of moot by coming before Night of Champions? I didn't realize that until yesterday! I figured NoC was a great way to tie up loose ends and leave anyone fair game for the draft. Either way, it should still be interesting.

One last kudos - to the announce team! I don't know whether it's been easier for them to do their job while Vince has been out onstage and not screaming in their ears, or whether they're just going with the ridiculous flow of the show figuring 'what the hell', but JR and the King have been relaxed, enjoying themselves, and in rare form for one-liners the last couple weeks. Good stuff!

John Graziano Footage

What it's all about - both Graziano sympathizers, Hogan sympathizers, and the people themselves need to remember what this poor man's life has become:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Graziano Family Threats to Hogans

The step-brother of John Graziano - the ex-marine left comatose after Nick Hogan's reckless driving accident months ago - has left phone messages on the Hogans' answering machine threatening to make Nick Hogan bleed, uttering death threats, and the promise to piss on the family's grave.

I understand the pain caused to the Graziano family - and I'm not even going to get on the bandwagon of John being the only legal adult in the car, not wearing a seatbelt, knowing Nick's driving history etc. etc. etc. - even people who die from their own drunk driving have those who mourn them, and deserve that. However, responding to pain with pain is damaging and harmful, and criminal behaviour is not made less so because it occurs in response to other criminal behaviour.

I never thought I'd say this, but Hulk Hogan's introspective, sincere-seeming discussion on Larry King last week - which was hardly the puff piece (nor the acting job - Terry Bollea is NOT that good an actor) many have made it out to be - came off as more classy than the Grazianos here, who simply have played into the character questioning the Hogans have engaged in prior to now. Hulk's Christian approach to forgiveness and tolerance in the face of this treatment, even to this family who is showing themselves to not be the pure, innocent, injured folk they have passed themselves off to be, is actually a lesson to the Grazianos.

I'm not expressing sympathy here for the Hogans - their parenting skills have been proven to be sub-par, and Nick Bollea has proven to at the very least be a spoiled and immature individual. They deserve every ounce of bad press they have received. Nor, again, am I suggesting the Grazianos' loss was not inexpressably great. I don't even question their lawsuit - I understand magnanimity is easier from those who have done wrong than those who have been wronged. I am just saying that, even more than revenge - financial or otherwise - or discrediting the Hogans, or any of that ever could, it would be more healing for the Grazianos themselves in the long run to let the pain end somewhere and begin the focus on whatever healing John can do. Making his life as long and as comfortable as it can be - rather than making the Hogans miserable - should be the prime point here.

Some advice for the Grazianos, to help them do what I really feel their point is here - to let their son's accident not be in vain: rather than getting in the gutter and destroying the massive sympathy you have out of bitterness, turn into expressions of love (a charity, a seatbelt or road racing awareness campaign, a military support charity) your unfortunate - though understandable - expressions of hate (criminal threats which make them no better - and indeed, through intent, worse - than the Hogans).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Night of Champions and "Did You Know" ...

Night of Champions is two weeks away tomorrow, a night when every WWE title will be defended. Some decent intrigue so far:

  1. John Cena vs. Triple H is hardly uncharted territory but they're both good at what they do.
  2. While I don't understand why Chavo Guerrero deserves the chance at the US Title vs. Matt Hardy, if it means Chavo wins it to land all the gold on La Familia, leaving Matt to feud with Edge for the big belt, and ultimately elevating the Matt Hardy - MVP feud redux into the stratosphere, I'm all for it.
  3. Edge vs. Batista is perhaps the most predictable, 'in a holding pattern' match on the show and hopefully it goes off well.
  4. I'll be interested to see Natalya fight for the Diva's Championship (although frankly I'd rather see the women's division consolidated, as there's enough talent there now that if they were all on one brand/in one division, it could make for the deepest women's roster since Lita/Trish/Gail/Jazz/Jacquie/Victoria etc.).
  5. Cody Rhodes and Bob Holly vs. Ted Dibiase Jr. and a mystery partner is also interesting (bets on Cody becoming Teddy's mystery partner and Holly having to go it alone?).
  6. Kane vs. Big Show for the ECW Title will be 'extreme' I guess ... extremely something. :P You know, ten years ago, this would have been all about what ECW stood for; two talented behemoths who were not only 'extreme' to look at, but talented brawlers (if not quite technicians) in the ring. But age and injuries have limited what both men are willing and/or able to do to their bodies and I don't know how they, today, are supposed to represent the spirit of ECW in any form or fashion. And I know Vince doesn't INTEND to represent that spirit - he says so himself, the OLD ECW is DEAD - but then call it something else already for Pete's sake! /End rant.

Matches I hope to see added: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho for the IC title (highly likely at this point, imho) and Miz and Morrison vs. Ryder and Hawkins for the SD tag belts; Ryder and Hawkins winning those, plus Chavo winning the US belt (sorry Matt ... just creates a more interesting storyline, and gives Chavo some strength back which he needs after his arse-kicking from Kane; you deserve it more though) makes La Familia look unstoppable, giving a major rub to anyone who can start dismantling the machine (CM Punk? Hardy? MVP? Ken Kennedy or Jeff Hardy post-draft?)

Anyway ... if WWE can focus on the sheer potential their product is offering right now (lots, w/two of their longtime main eventers on the DL and some very talented guys just entering or still being in their prime - John Cena, Edge, CM Punk, hell I'd even include Triple H on that list still) instead of insipid $1,000,000 giveaways, this PPV, the draft, and the summer ahead could actually be watchable wrestling! :)

And on that note:

I know I always pimp out Jason Powell's and get you to check it out, but this weekend he has a really funny 'Did you know' series going on, inspired (OK, not quite - more like 'in response to') Raw's "Did You Know" segments from Monday this week. Really funny stuff, check out part 1 & 2 over at the link earlier in this paragraph. Great stuff.

Enjoy Jason, and I will chat y'all up later. :D Peace.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Slow news week - new poll re. Million $$$ Mania

It has been a frickin' slow news week in the wrestling world! The crapitude of Monday's Raw, and Hulk Hogan's appearance on Larry King Live are about all that's really going on out there. So I thought I'd just take this time to create a new poll (at the bottom of the screen) and discuss it here:

WWE's viewership is down in North America - particularly in the United States. However it is skyrocketing elsewhere in the world, and - I get the impression - holding reasonably steady or at least dropping at a slower rate than in the US, in Canada. So it holds this contest, giving away $1,000,000 a week, in the US only?

I suppose on the one sense that makes logical sense - they're the fans they're trying to buy back. But doesn't it make sense to give foreign fans an opportunity as well - say one call a week to a foreign country? It bugs me that I am a loyal fan of WWE's - more loyal than many as I've watched for 2o years, through the early-1990s "New Generation" era, through the last 5 years of BS, through the Screw Jobs and DX-ification of wrestling, through the Owen Harts and Chris Benoits ... and yet because I happen to live about 2 hours away from the nearest border to the United States (honestly! if I lived 2 hours away, I'd be eligible for this damn contest), I am not eligible to win this money. So not only do I have to sit through the awfulness that is the Million $$$ Mania, I can't even win it.

Anyone else agree? Vote on my poll (bottom of the screen - and if it isn't up yet, well you're an eager beaver who read this post within 60 seconds of it going up - come back in a minute lol).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hulk Hogan on Larry King tonight

Just as an after thought ...
Speaking of sad old men who don't realize their fifteen minutes are up ...

Hulk Hogan was on Larry King tonight, discussing his son's incarceration, and the recent breakdown of his marriage.

I can say it was a good move I guess, from a PR standpoint - it made ME feel for the guy anyway, when I've been mad at the wealthy, detached, insulated nonsense of his family for a long time. I think he is a musclehead with a good heart whom money and fame corrupted - or at least blinded - and I think he's realizing some of the consequences of his opulence and his lifestyle now, as his trashy wife has taken up with a 19-year-old former classmate of her children, as his son is in jail due to Mommy and Daddy's encouragement to be adventurous and daring (especially behind the wheel), as his daughter is mad at all of them by turns, and he's being sued by the family of a boy he's taken care of for years, a family he's helped financially for years ...

I can get - especially for a Christian - that this is a time where those life choices have finally caught up with him, and perhaps I'm getting sucked in by the greatest carny con man of all time, but if he's ever going to just reassess, figure out who 'Terry' is again (as opposed to 'Hulk') and go back to being the entertainer in his family, while letting his children grow up into intelligent, socially responsible adults, it's now. The reality is, the Hogans are humans - as much as they don't always act it, for all their showbiz veneer, this is a tough time for them, and it is certainly a tough time for the Grazianos. But perhaps in the midst of all the senselessness, this tragedy can lead to Nick's growing up and maturity, to Hulk's understanding how the life he chose to live has affected his children going forward, and so on ... maybe that is the 'will of God' Hogan spoke of to King tonight.

I will never feel the sympathy for the Hogans I feel for the Grazianos - their choices led to this tragedy, and unfortunately the Graziano family is along for the ride - but tonight was as close as I've seen in a long time to 'Hulk Hogan' cracking and showing us 'Terry Bollea' in public ... and THAT man, I feel for too.

Raw Last Night - as promised

Well I did promise a Raw analysis tonight after a day to recover from an insane weekend ... and here I am. But I must say there's not much to comment on. Last night was the worst Raw I've seen in a long time. I tune in to wrestling for ... well ... wrestling, and - even more than others, perhaps, admittedly - the stories/angles, promos, interviews, skits. But I have never really been a serious game show fan - I can enjoy the odd one the odd time, if they're good, interesting and entertaining - but I have never EVER enjoyed bad game shows (depending how you consider "Change of Heart" lol). Vince McMahon can barely dial a phone, those skits dragged, took too long, and were the same thing over-n-over-n-over again. Although I will admit the first one, with Vince completely kerflummoxed over the first contestant's answertone, was frickin' hilarious.

And I didn't even see all the giveaways! This is the first Raw I didn't watch all the way through in months (yes, yes the more fool me), and apparently all I missed was Vince giving away $2 to someone for putting up with Jillian Hall singing (that poor woman was given a trip to New York as a consolation prize later on ... although it's a complete crap shoot how much Vince gives away and he's clear about that - I don't know if she deserved to be 'made up to' like that). Vince just seemed so out of touch, passing his contest off as bigger than any match, hotter than any diva, that crossed the TV - this might have even been better if done more quickly (perhaps even prerecorded over the preceding week, as the Diva Contest is), and/or by a more charismatic character (think someone like the Rock, although obviously not him - maybe Chris Jericho, MVP, Mick Foley or Ted Dibiase even) who could put the storylines and matches over while giving away the money.

The other inherent problem with the contest is that it's designed to keep people watching throughout the show - except that they give away the password at the very beginning and it's the same password through the night. Therefore, one could tune in to the opening segment and then go about their evening if they really aren't interested. To me, they should announce a new password for every call, as suggested over on I think it was Jason Powell's blog at ... or then again, no. The whole concept's just crap. All these ideas would do would be to make it fewer degrees of crap.

Not to say there weren't a couple (precious couple) good moments on Raw. JBL and John Cena had a good match - I liked Cena and Triple H's mutual admiration society for each other on the mic, while interfering in each other's matches (although way to NOT make Jeff Hardy look strong - his win over Triple H was Cena's, not his own). And Jericho's final full-fledged heel turn on Michaels was tremendous; it was a great 'full circle' for Shawn, who first turned heel by ramming his Rockers tag team partner, Marty Jannetty, through a window, to have his head tossed through a TV screen. Perhaps this is the start of another run for the IC title for Shawn - a completely comfortable and sensible place for him to be at this point in his career, able to elevate younger talent, while still keeping him near enough to the top of the card for a last run with the Big Belt as his career winds down (remember - Ric Flair won about half of his world titles at an age older than HBK). It is just unfortunate that in a 2 hour show, there were really two shining spots amidst a bunch of sad images of a 60-year-old former genius who apparently no longer even knows how to dial a phone and entertain his audience of many years.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm not dead ...

I was finishing report cards, then sick, and then away this weekend for a bit. But I'm back now - tune in tomorrow night (or Tuesday) after Raw for my thoughts.

And be sure to tune in on Tuesday to Larry King Live where Hulk Hogan will be doing his first interview since his son Nick's incarceration for reckless driving - King throws softballs, but it's still somewhat brave for the Hulkster to go on live TV after all the press his family's been receiving so it should at least be interesting programming.

See you at the matches.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ric Flair to be inducted into NWA Hall of Fame - will be absent from ceremony

I was excited last week when I read that Ric Flair was going to be inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame. Before I explain that, though, a history lesson:

Prior to Ted Turner's buyout of Jim Crockett promotions in the late-1980s, and Vince McMahon's transformation of the WWE into a national and then international juggernaut, pro wrestling (emphasis on the PRO WRESTLING - ie, not sports entertainment) in North America was essentially a territorial system established based on gentlemen's agreements and handshakes. Each promoter had a certain area of the country to tour, and in which to televise his (emphasis on HIS) product, and no promoter would encroach on each other's territory. They all recognized one world champion, who would tour from promotion to promotion within the NWA system.

Vince McMahon's WWE - then Capitol Wrestling - was a part of this system. When Vince McMahon Sr., however, recognized a different champion from the rest of the NWA, he broke away, establishing the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF - which would later become the WWF, currently WWE). But even then he was respectful of the handshake agreements established, never travelling far from his territory and still holding an NWA membership, albeit not recognizing their champion. When his son, Vince Jr., took over in the 1980s, he began buying TV spots in other territories, bought up promotions like they were going out of style, and created Wrestlemania, perhaps THE household name of the wrestling world. But the NWA still stood strong as his opposition, with Ric Flair as its champion. He did not wrestle for Vince McMahon until he was a 41-year-old, 7-time NWA World Champion. His history is with the NWA.

However, due to fallings out with the promotion when it essentially conglomorated into WCW, and the ensuing management thereof, and its eventual demise (WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon in 2001) Ric Flair ended his career this year at 57 years old with Vince's WWE, with whom he has had an excellent relationship since working there from 1991-1994, and returning in 2002. The problem with this being, Vince is very protective of the exclusivity of his product. Therefore, as I said at the top of this article, when the NWA (now a much more ... streamlined ... association of smaller independent feds) announced they were inducting Ric Flair into their Hall of Fame, I was excited - albeit a bit surprised that Vince and co. were letting him participate. Unfortunately, however, they have changed their minds. Per NWA executive Robert K. Trobich's statement:

I am deeply sorry that Ric will not be in Atlanta for the Hall of Fame ceremony. Ric was very honored to be recognized by the NWA and wanted to be in Atlanta to thank his fans. Unfortunately, the WWE refused to allow him to be there. It is truly a sad action on their part, as the main people injured by the WWE's seeming petulance is the wrestling fans.

Nonetheless, Ric Flair was a legend in the NWA long before the WWE was anything other than a regional promotion in the northeast. As such, Ric will still be a member of the 2008 class. He has earned that honor, and we intend to bestow it upon him.

To which all I can say is - shame on you WWE. Trobich is absolutely right that only Ric's fans will suffer for this pettiness. Trobich's NWA is no competition, nor will it be anytime soon, to Vince McMahon's WWE; as conglomoration of local promotions, too many egos are at stake for it to even match up with TNA - which was an NWA satellite until it left last year feeling it had outgrown the NWA. This was an easy way to be magnanimous, get some good PR, and do what you say is your only desire with things like $1,000,000 give aways - put smiles on your fans faces. Shame on you Vince McMahon.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Raw Musings (and a slight copout)

Hi guys, it's right in the middle of report card season so I'm going to have to take a pass on the extended ONS/Raw commentary for today. The main stuff you needed to know about ONS, other than that it was overall a solid show, can be found in my previous entry. As for Raw: it was a show with some decent stuff, which Vince McMahon and his $1,000,000 sucked the air out of whenever they were onscreen.

Only Vinnie Mac could turn $1,000,000 he's giving to fans heel by interrupting his 3 top guys, about to make a never-before-seen match, to pimp the sweepstakes. Clever for him to put out as his own idea the match the three men were making before his onscreen appearance, but still ... boo.

Otherwise, Chris Jericho and JBL had a better match than they did through their feud earlier this year, Jeff Hardy vs. John Cena happened for the first time ever and was good (although what kind of idiot fan, jumping the barricades during the main event?), and it was a solid B raw - though no better, and WWE should be aiming for better, especially having just lost Randy Orton and Undertaker for at least a certain amount of time this week.

Neither plot was really forwarded but I didn't expect them to be - Randy's injured, plain and simple, which if it had to happen was well-timed - at the nice, clear, blow-off end to the feud. just before his daughter is about to be born. And UT's on Smackdown, so that will be pushed on Friday. So it's all good. Overall an OK Raw, I just can't help think it should be better than OK. Nothing to stress about TiVoing if you missed it, but not a waste of 2 hrs. either.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

ONS Results

I'm not going to have time to post this tomorrow, so I'll put in more detailed thoughts with my Raw analysis ... able to put the show together with the fallout 'demain' on Tuesday. But I wanted to comment on the two big stories coming out of the PPV

Item #1: Randy Orton Injured

Former WWE Champion and recent #1 contender Randy Orton broke his collarbone taking a huge bump in his Last Man Standing match with Triple H. I know Randy's a heel, but as a young husband and father-to-be, as well as an entertaining performer, I wish him a speedy, speedy recovery. And as an extra note, good on Randy on his way out to have the presence of mind to still heel it up for the crowd before heading to the medical area. Nice job, get well soon.

Item #2: Undertaker 'Retired'?

Undertaker lost what was an ostensible retirement match against Edge tonight in what can only be called an upset. Given the extremity of the condition of Taker's retirement upon loss, I had yet to read any predictions the win wasn't UT's. It was a great way to end the show in that it was unpredictable - I'm un-naive enough to believe UT is gone forever, however I don't want to be so cynical as to suppose he's truly done and thereby not appreciate this could be his last match. Either way it was good drama, very classy, and I'm interesting to see if this sticks, how long it lasts, where they go from here, etc.

Overall ... a good show. More thoughts on how later, but excellent action and given I'm not a huge fan of gimmick matches, the gimmicks didn't get in the way of the plot, and in some situations they actually enhanced the show. Better than it had the risk of being, probably not quite as stellar as it had the opportunity to be, but plenty of surprises, and action. Interesting to see WWE's next steps from here. Good job.

One Night Stand Predictions - as promised

OK so it's One Night Stand time and it's a whole pile of rematches from the last 1-2 months. Nonetheless I've said before and I say again that this could be an awesome blow-off PPV to balance the ledgers and close the books before the upcoming draft. Lots of matches involving ongoing feuds, with stips - this smells of blow-off, and it's just about the right time; they've had some awesome, longstanding feuds in a very old school fashion which they haven't in awhile, but it is time to put those to bed, which I anticipate happening tonight. While that also means I anticipate a certain amount of outside interference or backstage vignettes to start building to the future, it also means I expect ultimately clean finishes to 'seal the deal', and so it should all balance out in the end.

World Heavyweight Title Match: Undertaker vs. Edge
Stipulation: TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs)*
*added stip: Undertaker quits WWE if he loses

First let me say this match should go on last. Period. It's a TLC match in which the Phenom's 18-year career is on the line. The fact we might be seeing his last WWE appearance, as hyped all through Friday, is major, even though it won't happen. It won't happen? That's right, that's my prediction. UT clinches the gold. See, through Friday, they made a point of saying this could be Taker's last SMACKDOWN appearance - leading me to think Edge might clinch it and the Deadman might head over to Raw (perhaps in a trade for another large name such as John Cena or Triple H or Shawn Michaels), but Edge clarified at the end of the show that he would be banished from the WWE - period. As I don't know of his contract expiring anytime soon, nor can I picture UT - a paragon of professionalism and old-school respect for the business - swerving Vince and jumping ship to TNA. Nor can I picture him going inactive just yet. Unless this is a way for Taker to get a vacation, he MUST win it.

WWE Title Match: Triple H (c) vs. Randy Orton
Stipulation: Last Man Standing
This is probably the main match I was referring to when I said there were some feuds that were ready to be put away tonight. Orton and Trips have a lot of history going between them, and have delivered an early Feud of the Year contender, with some more-than-passable matches considering who's involved and some excellent promos. But have brought their "A" games and that's great - but it's time for some new blood at the top and honestly that could even include some longtime main eventers like Shawn Michaels or John Cena at this point in my opinion - the reality is the main event scene has REALLY been about two people since Wrestlemania (the one guy NOT expected to walk out of WM with the title was Cena, nor do I think anyone expected John Bradshaw Layfield to take it at Backlash), so it will be good to move on from here. Oh ... and my prediction? Orton wins it. A bold choice I know, but WWE has stupidly already gone and published upcoming event posters featuring Orton with the belt. Sorry guys ... maybe I'm falling for a swerve, but I'm going to play it safe and read between the lines on this one.

John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield
Stipulation: First Blood
Prediction? Who cares. This feud didn't interest me to begin with - and that's despite their history together - and it doesn't interest me now while Cena hasn't been wrestling regularly enough to be emotionally invested in him, JBL was never the most talented guy in the arena, and both still have coat after coat of ring rust on them. If they have the brawl tonight that they were expected to have last month, it could be one of the better brawling-style matches of the last little while as they're both awesome at that, but I just haven't checked into this feud yet. And neither has Cena, from what I can tell. And when one of your performer's isn't into it, it's hard to get the crowd into it. By way of making a prediction though, this feud is one I don't expect them to end tonight even though they should, simply because of what the stip is. Cena will make Layfield bleed first, he'll cover it up, gash Cena, and the ref will see Cena's blood. And then we wait for the rubber match.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista
Stipulation: Stretcher Match
OK - first before going negative let me say this is one of the matches I'm most looking forward to on the card. I expect Jericho to inject himself in this time, and it's great because it's unpredictable just how - he's got heat with both guys, and he's been sort of menacing Michaels while also respecting him all at the same time this past month - it should be intriguing, and I expect him to interfere in a way it's unclear who he was supposed to 'get', furthering this feud which has held my interest since Wrestlemania. I'm just pissed that (a) the Shawn-Jericho match last month was not for the Intercontinental title, that (b) there is no Jericho-Michaels rematch here FOR the title which is where that should have automatically gone if a champion gets pinned in a non-title scenario, and (c) that Jericho doesn't have his own match on the card here period. The IC belt has been given less respect than the US or tag titles of late and that kind of upsets me greatly. As for predictions, I'm actually going with Batista, albeit not cleanly - Shawn's won a lot of his recent matches and is in danger of being seen as someone who won't job again, but he still needs to be kept strong if he's to be kept near card-top. Create some babyface sympathy and an underdog impression with HBK bumping for Big Dave as only he can.

Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga
Stipulation: Last Man Standing
Looking forward to this match (though I'd prefer if Y2J had gotten involved HERE, given Hardy's promise on his return to go after the IC belt again), as I know Hardy and Umaga work well together. My main complaint is the stip - two LMS matches on one card? And can these two really pull such a potentially long and involved match off (as with two guys so close to the top of the card,
neither should go down to a 10-count quickly)? As for who will win - Jeff's going over to give him a comeback push, and as Umaga is going to SD therefore does not need any particular protection on Raw any longer.

Big Show vs. John Morrison vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. C.M. Punk
Stipulation: Singapore Cane Match*
* Added stip: winner declared #1 contender to ECW title

The match I am least interested in on the card. I hate the stip, and I barely care about the belt these guys are fighting to challenge for, much less the #1 contendership for it. As Pro Wrestling Illustrated points out this month, to paraphrase, if one isn't good enough to challenge for the ECW title at least every other week, they have no business being in the WWE. But it's on the card so let's predict it, looking at the options. First, to me Tommy Dreamer and CM Punk are the only guys who are legitimately "ECW" enough to win this ONE and ONLY ECW match on what was originally a specifically ECW PPV. But Dreamer is past his prime and more viewed as an office guy by WWE officials these days, and Punk's clearly on to bigger and better things with his Money in the Bank - arguably worth more than the ECW title in itself. That leaves show and Guerrero, and we've seen Kane decimate Guerrero about 3-4 times too often since WM. I predict Show ... because Kane-Big Show is exactly the way to headline an ECW event in 2008. Yippee kay-ay, MFers! (and I don't mean Mattitude Followers, dudes ...)

Beth Phoenix vs. Melina
Stipulation: I Quit Match
An actually interesting women's match not involving the title - cool! While my dream match is to see Beth vs. Natalya Neidhart in a powerhouse women's match, these two can do some nifty things too, especially with the awesome build for their feud (anyone see last month's pummelling of Melina backstage by Beth?). My only concern is neither of them can really afford to lose here - Melina is starting a babyface turn, thereby, presumably, something of a push (esp. if she's involved in a PPV women's match and the Women's Champ isn't), but Beth Phoenix has been losing a lot, and is beginning to look like a highly beatable monster. How *I* would book this, personally, is have it be a very competitive, and potentially long match - at least 10-15 mins. Have the offense be back and forth, so neither of them looks particularly weak. And use the "I Quit" stip to your advantage - have Melina finally black out after a valiant fight, without actually quitting, so she comes out of the match looking brave, and even strong for standing toe-to-toe with the Glamazon, while Beth gets some of her heat back.

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