Welcome to the Sunday edition of the Phat Daily Column. Besides the Pay Per View prediction Sunday columns, today is usually reserved for off the wall topics without purpose. However, today, I've got a focus, especially since we are at the halfway mark of the year.

Back when I was a PWI suscriber (start laughing), I somewhat enjoyed the Midyear report edition that they did. In fact, for a column I did in the summer of 1999, I tried to replicate that exact same thing. Last year, during the summer of 2000, I completely forgot to do the midyear column.

But I didn't forget this time around.... So for today, I'll be giving out grades for each of the main wrestling federations and I'll be giving out awards for the best of this year so far, as well. It shall be a fun column, so on to it!

Mr. Tito's Midyear Report!

-Federations-

ECW

In early 2001, ECW just flat out died, but in horrible fashion. At the end of 2000, Paul Heyman promised his wrestlers that ECW would get back on its feet in 2001, and that there would now be a Pay Per View for each month. Well, neither happened, and the way Heyman handled himself, at the very end, was even worse.

You see, Heyman tried to hang on ECW till the very end, and even when he started to appear on WWF television after Jerry Lawler quit, nobody was told that ECW was finished. Therefore, it just left a lot of wrestlers, under ECW contract, just hanging by the moment with lots of bills to pay. That's piss poor management on Heyman's part.

The only positive thing about ECW was the videos they released this year. Each video cracked the Billboard top 10 for sports and recreational video, and that's pretty good for a federation on life support. Other than that, ECW had nothing else to look back on for 2001 up and until they died.

LAST WORD: ECW gets a D- (D minus) in my gradebook for the way Paul Heyman handled the final days of ECW. It would have been an F, but the videos helped the grade.

WCW

Note: This is the Time Warner WCW that died around the end of March.

For 2001, two people made WCW a real living hell: Eric Bischoff and Johnny Ace. While Bischoff was around and briefly in charge, he let his hunting buddies and karate instructors hog all of the spotlight, while WCW had a big stockpile of wrestlers with incredible amounts of potential. Johnny Ace was the head booker, and he didn't quite get the latest style of wrestling, and he only pushed his favorites, mainly those named Steiner. Ace and Bischoff were the two morons running this ship at the end, and it's no wonder that Time Warner had no confidence to keep WCW on their stations there at the end.

However, WCW showed a hell of a lot of promise, which was very much absent from the year 2000. Their newly created Cruiserweight Tag Division made for some interesting shows and matches. They signed lots of great independent stars to wrestle in it, as well. WCW was also bringing in some other talent, as well, like Jason Jett (or EZ Money) and Kash (or Kid Kash), and a few others. Add this to the decent amount of young talent already around, and WCW could put on a show, just as long as you ignored anything involving Rick Steiner.

WCW did put up some decent Pay Per Views, too, which was sadly missing from the 2000 campaign. Had WCW had the right mind, backstage, it's unknown on how much better they would have become over time. The WWF is clearly going to learn that they've just overly stockpiled on their young talent because WCW truly did have a lot fo potential in their ranks.

LAST WORD: Johnny Ace and Bischoff did nothing to save this company in its final days, although this ship was doomed to sink the day WCW didn't let Sting pin Hulk Hogan cleanly at Starrcade 1997. I'll give WCW a generous C- (C minus) for potential and a great Cruiserweight division. Just watch and see how great the WWF will make WCW with all of the talent they inherited.

WWF

Easily, this is the hardest one to grade. We could cheer on the big money successes, like the purchase of WCW or the very successful Wrestlemania, or even the start of Tough Enough, which is seeing some early success. However, we could also discuss the bombing of the XFL, dropping ratings, weaker attendance, etc. For the year 2001, the WWF has seen a lot of ups and downs, with a lot of downs that they could have controlled.

Early 2001 was somewhat doomed, until Royal Rumble arrived. Then, the WWF went down again, until Wrestlemania arrived. After that, total freefall until they reached their lowest Monday Night ratings in years! It appeared as though the WWF was just waiting for one big moment to save them from the ditch they dug themselves. I blame a lot of what has occurred in the ratings, today, on the months of April and May, where the WWF shoved the Triple H/Steve Austin vs. Kane/Undertaker feud down our throats. The ratings were dropping then, but Vince insisted on wasting 2 months of precious time on that crap. When the time arrived to push Benoit and Jericho, the time had arrived too late, and the damage has been done.

The WCW Invasion, like Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, seems to be the next thing to bail the WWF out from hard times. This should make for a few months of compelling television, but it's very unknown if it's a good decision to put WCW on the Monday Night timeslot. The WWF could be trotting on some dangerous ground.

LAST WORD: The WWF has had a lot of triumphs and bad times, in which they had some control over the bad times. For that, they get a grade of B- (B minus) for their midyear report. We'll just have to keep a close eye on the WWF for the second half of 2001, especially since the other two federations (ECW and WCW) are dead and gone.

-Awards-

Best Wrestler: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Why did Steve Austin get the award? Well, the first half of 2001 saw a great comeback for a man who many thought was defeated. After a tough neck surgery, Austin has bounced back, and in some ways, he's wrestling at his best. His feud with Triple H was very intense for when No Way Out rolled around, and his several matches with Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit have been wars. Especially with Benoit, as Austin would take many German suplexes on his neck. Austin's heel status has come along much better than at first.

The other guys were either inconsistant, injured, or just not as overall good as Austin for the first half of 2001.

Best Tag Team: Sean O'Haire and Chuck Palumbo

I'm sure a lot of you are going huh? Just take a look at the WWF. They've had a lot of inconsistancy with their tag division this year, with teams splitting up, rejoining, two singles guys holding the titles, and so forth. For when WCW was still around, they had a team who held onto the Tag belts with dear life. O'Haire and Palumbo became a solid tag team, with each wrestler improving by the week. Those two wrestlers are awesome assets for the WWF's future, but for now, they make a great team.

Best Match: Chris Benoit vs. Steve Austin from the May 31st Smackdown

Quite possibly one of the best television matches, ever, by the WWF. Benoit and Steve Austin, who actually wrestled the night before on RAW, put on a wrestling classic. It was a nice, long match, with the Canadian crowd fully behind it. It was the night Benoit became a true WWF star, and also a night to which Austin really proved that he could handle himself, in the WWF, after coming back from his neck surgery. Great overall match, with a solid ending. Benoit had Austin beat, but Vince McMahon tried to interfere. Then, Benoit beat the living shit out of Benoit with a chair, which distracted the Crippler enough for Austin to get the cheap roll up, holding the tights, for the win.

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@That's all for today. I'll be back, tomorrow, with MONDAY NIGHT HYPE, if you can dig that. So until the next PDC, just chill....

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Mr. Tito 1998 - 2001 Exclusive to LordsofPain.net