Welcome to the column that doesn't make you want to scream "lala", the Wrath of Tito. In today's column, the second of 2005, we'll discuss Monday Night RAW, HHH's 10th Title Reign, wrestling news, and whatever else comes to mind. Hopefully, I won't get booed like Ashlee Simpson did at the Orange Bowl, which I thought was one of the most awesome live moments ever. Don't worry, folks, acid reflux won't hinder me from writing a column! In addition, I won't blame a bad column on my drummer... Or better yet, I won't live off of my sister's fame! Oh man, I better stop while I'm ahead!
Before I go any further, I gotta give my props to The Path of Rage (TPOR). He won the 3rd or 4th annual LoP Fantasy Football League. He's had a dominant 2004, as he won the official LoP Fantasy Baseball League and is currently in first place in the LoP Fantasy Basketball League. I kept forgetting to make the announcement, so here it is.
In addition, I'd like to say "get well soon" for Rikk Diamond, a local indy promoter in the Ohio Valley (owns Black Diamond Wrestling, which I plug in this column) whom I have a great amount of respect for. I wish Rikk the very best.
-THE BIG STORY OF THE WEEK was Triple H winning the World Title at New Year's Revolution. It's his 10th world title reign, which is a large amount of title reigns for just over a 5 year span! This is taking into account, too, the 6 months or so he lost from injury, so within 5 years, he's been world champion 10 times. No backstage stroke or politics, especially after the summer of 2000 when he fell in love with Stephanie? He's been champion for ROUGHLY 24 months out of a possible approximate 52 months since his first World Title win on August 23rd, 1999 (BIG THANK YOU to Wrestling Historian's webpage, which you can access by Clicking Here). But if you scale down the 6 months HHH was gone from injury, he's been champion for 24 months out of approximately 46 months since his first title reign. He's been champion more than half of the time since August 1999!
I think 10 title reigns in that short of time is somewhat ridiculous, even though to HHH's credit, most of the reigns were lengthy. Usually, if you're losing the title that many times, you have short reigns, much like Jerry Lawler did in one of his later Memphis federations. Still, whenever the WWE has a transitional champion, HHH is always the man who eventually gets the belt back. He's always in the title picture and his opponents usually drift away (Kane, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash), with a few exceptions from the guys he clearly respects or is friends with, and that's Benoit, Michaels, Orton, and now Batista.
The question asked is this: is Triple H a draw? He's always been in the main event scene since 1999 when he signed a HUGE multi-year contract before Wrestlemania 15 that promised his big push. He was the top heel in 2000 when the WWE's business peaked. However, he was also the top heel when the WWE's business went South during the summer of 2001 before the quad injury. HHH was the top guy on the RAW roster in 2002-2003 and when ratings/business/buyrates/merchandise dropped significantly and further destroyed the financial prosperity that the WWE once had. Things became better in 2004 and we're at a more stable situation now, even though buyrates have become MUCH WORSE and are recording record lows.
I think with HHH, he's not a guy who brings in new fans. I think he's a guy who has kept some fans, but conditions surrounding his title reigns (bad opponents or not elevating some opponents) have drove older fans away. I also believe that the WWE hasn't created a foil for him of the likes of Mick Foley, Steve Austin, or the Rock from their new talent that's being elevated from Ohio Valley Wrestling. Shawn Michaels and HHH do solid business, but they've wrestled so many times that it's no longer brand new (even though each match is quite good). HHH, in my exact opinion, needs to elevate more talent in hopes of creating a new Austin, Rock, or Foley to constantly feud with and mix with other wrestlers. I give HHH all the props in the world for elevating Chris Benoit at Wrestlemania 20 and that's something he needs to do with other talent. I feel that guys like Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Kane, and Booker T were forever tarnished by their feuds with Triple H, and in my opinion, fans left the WWE being upset over HHH's lack of willingness to help elevate those wrestlers.
Is HHH a big draw? I don't think he is. Does the WWE need him on top? I think he keeps the fed afloat from going under further. Could he become a bigger draw? If he makes a new babyface foil to feud with him for the next few years who can actually DRAW fans, yes, he can. I think a lot depends on Batista, of all people. Batista is hitting his stride and is slowly gaining fan support from the well done storylines the WWE is creating for him. If the trigger is pulled correctly on Batista's face turn, he could become a great nemesis for Triple H for years to come, as well as other wrestlers (that match last week with Benoit proved my point). This also depends on the WWE's end of things, which Triple H actually has some control over, given that he's an official member of the RAW creative team. If the WWE can't build up wrestlers, then they are always doomed for failure. The WWE, without a lack of big drawing foils for HHH, will always go back to HHH to hold the World Title. Hence the 10 title reigns in 5 years.
-By the way, I did NOT see New Year's Evolution, so I will cease to comment on it.
-I laughed when I saw a "Casket Match" for Undertaker vs. John Heidenreich. Seriously, who really wants to see this match? Their previous matches have sucked so bad and this whole EVIL GUY versus the Undertaker stuff needs to end. Welcome to 2005, where nobody believes that the Undertaker is the "deadman". Most everyone believes that the Undertaker is old and he's dominant because of his longevity in the WWE. I want the biker Undertaker to return. At least then, he was beginning to sell moves and did work with younger wrestlers a lot better than he ever has. Heidenreich is failing as a guy worthy of getting a spotlight against the Undertaker and won't give the Undertaker a good match if he tried. And a Casket Match? This isn't 1993-1995. Get with the program before Smackdown sinks further.
By the way, how about the Undertaker? Is he a big draw? I would say no, for he was on top during some of the WORST of times. If you took him off the Smackdown roster and basically cut him from the WWE (even though I wish nobody lost their job), he'd be another Kevin Nash out on the wrestling market. Seriously, Kevin Nash and the Undertaker are interchangeable. They are both big, older guys who have only been over because their surrounding federations where redhot. If you put Kevin Nash with a NWO that didn't feature Hogan as the 3rd man, the NWO wouldn't be as over as it was. In addition, the rest of the WCW roster was AWESOME during 1996-1997. With the Undertaker, he was never the main guy drawing in fans. It was the character of Vince McMahon, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and the Rock drawing fans. Undertaker only inserted himself into feuds with those guys to thrive from 1998-1999, and only looks great when guys like Shawn Michaels put their bodies on the line for him (Michaels really did, too, and almost permanently injured himself at Royal Rumble 1998's Casket Match). If the WWE and NWA-TNA made a trade with Undertaker for Kevin Nash, you'd see no difference in business for either fed, even though Undertaker would find himself in new surroundings for the first time in about 14 years or so.
-Best of luck to both Lita and Eugene for recovering from their knee injuries. Hopefully, both will require limited times off in rehab for a speedy recovery.
-Now, for the fun portion of tonight's program... I'm a BIG FAN of VH1's Surreal Life. I absolutely hate reality television, but this idea is genius in putting celebrities together and forcing them to live with each other for a few weeks. I've really enjoyed each season so far, especially how real some of the celebrities have to act around each other. You know, ditch your primadonna attitude at the door and actually live like a human being for once. I really liked last season with Flavor Flav and Bridgette Nielsen hooking up, even though I'm not too high on the "Strange Love" show that's now out about those two. I really liked the 2nd season where Erik Estrada, Ron Jeremy, and Vanilla Ice provided for a great cast together and ended up being friends. Seriously, Estrada, Vanilla Ice, and Ron Jeremy... FRIENDS?!? I laughed at how whacky the first cast was with MC Hammer and Corey Feldman, as well as good ol' Vince Neil. The female "names" have been weak until the 3rd season with Bridgette Nielsen being a great character in the house, while Ryan Star/Charo created a lot of tension or annoyances.
This year's cast, and the reason I'm talking about it in this column features the "Chynna Doll", Joanie Laurer of all people. Therefore, in this very column, you will get my Surreal Life Season 4 review each week! And if you say "well, that's not wrestling".. Yes it is! It includes Chyna, and anytime you can take shots at Chyna, it's fun and worth talking about. Chyna or Chynna Doll or Joanie Laurer was the first to arrive... she more or less admitted to having no real success since the WWE let her go on the cab drive with Kathy Griffin (who has had terrible plastic surgery, yuck!). One thing I noticed about Chyna is that she's let herself go... While she's fit and still has an incredible body, she lacks the muscle mass she had during her last times in the WWE. She's a good 20-30 pounds lighter. She was seen working with a Thigh Master in the show, which I found to be odd, especially when she was getting arroused by it. I hope Verne Troyer can scrub that snail trail off of his waterbed.
But other than Chyna's fitness routine, she's become worse. She was smoking and drinking heavily throughout the show. It led me to believe that her life has been a trainwreck ever since leaving the WWE. I'm sure she's done a lot of partying ever since, and hanging out with Sean Waltman (X-Pac) for the past few years probably allowed her to see the time 4:20, quite often, if you know what I mean. She's a mess and she could possibly use a stop at the old Betty Ford clinic in the future for her problems. She's also a bitch... Chyna was the first to arrive and she got to claim a room first. However, she took a room that was CLEARLY made for Verne Troyer (aka Mini-Me), with a mini-coatrack, mini-bar, a lower bed, among other things. In fact, the room was specially made for Verne and was in his contract to do this show! Once Verne arrived and demanded his room, Chyna took this "tough shit" approach which I found insulting. Then, she tried to make a compromise with Verne by insisting that she'll sleep on the couch, but she can leave her stuff in Verne's room. Chyna eventually gave in when the rest of the cast agreed to help her move into another room, but the fact of the matter is that she threw a fit against a midget's accomodations. Chyna is a VERY ugly person on the inside, and this is in addition to her partying problems she's obviously having.
The rest of the show was quite entertaining, namely because of Mini-Me. He was excited to eat food off of a naked Adrianne Curry (America's first top model from the UPN show, who is very, very, very hot), and even felt up her nipple when grabbing a piece of sushi. Then, Troyer got insanely drunk and began rolling over. Christopher Knight (Peter Brady) carried him like a baby to his room, where Troyer began to scream weird noises. Then, in the middle of the night, a naked Verne Troyer strolled out on his cart and took a piss in the middle of the hallway. Now that's entertainment. The stuff with Troyer dominated the show and it was as funny as his performances in the Austin Powers movies. Otherwise, I see Da Brat clashing with everyone in the house, especially on her has-been kick. Funny how Da Brat doesn't want to live with has-been celebrities when she is, in fact, a has-been celebrity. Great show and check your local listings for the repeat that's been airing all week. The show comes on sometime during Sunday nights on VH1.
-I'm about 75 pages or so into the Edge book. I really like it, especially with the personal touch Edge has because he wrote the book. Some of the road stories are seriously cracking me up and I have a whole lot of respect for Edge for the hardships he had growing up and the serious dues he paid to get into the WWE. My reading of Edge's book could get derailed, though, by the new Khan book that just came out... We'll see.
-I'm curious to see if the WWE is really interested in New Jack. There's an apparent tryout match about to happen and I'm not sure how the WWE would use a hardcore style wrestler, such as New Jack. I personally like New Jack, as I was a fan of his since I saw him dive from a balcony in late 1996 or early 1997 in ECW. I actually met New Jack at a XWF Inc. show in August and a picture with yours truly with New Jack sits on my wall in my room. Incredibly nice guy to me, and with that being said, I don't care about the personal demons or legal problems that may haunt him. I wish New Jack the best in the WWE, but I'm not sure how they'd use his hardcore style effectively. In addition, the poor guy is battered and bruised from the many years of hardcore fighting. If the WWE signs him, it could be a project to help heal New Jack from his various injuries and pains, while possibly rehabbing him in other ways. I just don't see the WWE's interest in someone who uses his style. I really like the wrestler and I'm honored to have met him, but I'm baffled at the WWE's interest, especially with how safe the WWE wants their wrestlers to wrestle now with their guaranteed contracts. Time will tell and I give the best of luck to New Jack.
-Brock Lesnar and Sable are getting married! Congrats to both of them. I've always hated the "grandma" insults that were fired Sable's way once she returned. Please, she's STILL hot and her Playboy spread with Torrie Wilson last year proved that. Brock is still in his 20's and this 40 year old woman nabbed him up? You know there's something good with Sable when a youngster wants some of that! Of course, when Lesnar is in his late 30's, he'll be banging a 50 year old woman! The question is this: can Sable retain her awesome looks over a 10 year or so period? Now that's a challenge... Regardless, congrats to both Lesnar and Sable, and I suggest to the WWE that it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring Lesnar back and have Sable as his valet. Then again, wrestling ruins so many relationships, just as it eventually ruined Sable's marriage to Marc Mero, among many other relationships that have gone down the tubes, unfortunately.
Enough of this, let's get on to the RAW portion of our program, which I wrote before this introduction (this new style works well and has improved my RAW reviews). Enjoy.
Our first match was Maven vs. Shelton Benjamin, a return match from the Pay Per View. It's a "Royal Rumble Qualifying" match, too, as I look at the calendar and see that the Royal Rumble is 2 weeks away! Holy cow! The Elimination Chamber stuff took wind away from the sales of the most fun Pay Per View of the year! Oh no! This match sucked and it was extremely short, as Benjamin made short notice of Maven. Back to the drawing board, I guess, with Maven. At least they should, for he needs a lot of seasoning to even be worthy of wrestling for the Intercontinental Title.
The next match was Muhammed Hassan vs. Hurricane, as we thankfully get no embarrassing long talking segments this week. ANOTHER SHORT MATCH happened here, and it doesn't show me much on Hassan's wrestling ability. Time will tell on him, and if you ask me, he needs a good wrestling ability to carry the tasteless gimmick they've given to him.
Another Royal Rumble Qualifying match happened between Edge vs. Rhyno. Poor Rhyno's credibility, in my eyes, are shot after Batista manhandled him a few weeks ago. Good lord! Another short match, even though both Edge and Rhyno gave their all for the short time given to them. They know each other well, or so I'm reading from Edge's book!
After the match, Edge was pissed off about getting superkicked in the Elimination Chamber and called Shawn Michaels out. Michaels vs. Edge should be sweet. It's great to have a healthy HBK again. VERY great. Edge and HBK had a good segment going until a bunch of heckling fans decided to chant "You Screwed Bret". It was so audible that it prompted HBK to respond to it (I liked the line about Canadians moving to Florida, myself), but it completely threw any significance of this segment out the window. In fact, it's going to prompt more fans to heckle Shawn Michaels. Besides, the only person who screwed Bret is Earl Hebner, who called the match. It's not like Michaels held the Sharpshooter on Bret that was so tight Bret couldn't get out of it. Shawn knew of the situation, but it wasn't his decision for Survivor Series 1997 to happen. He was merely following orders and did nothing wrong in the match. Edge and Shawn's argument would lead to a brawl, which would take forever to break up. Well, the WWE has only one more week to hype this feud and they better put their thinking caps on.
Next, we have Tito-favorite Simon Dean coming out. The reason I like Simon Dean is that he's a throwback to old WWF heels. Heels should be, excuse the phrase, pussies. They should run their mouth, but when something mean comes at them, they should become instant chickenshits and beg for mercy. That's a good heel and NOT the badass heels we see today. Ric Flair made a living out of begging for mercy, for instance. Dean wanted to call out Rosey (for being 300+ pounds and wearing a mask), but got Kane instead. See how Dean instantly begs for mercy? That's good stuff, and Dean got his ass handed to him. After a small beatdown, Gene Snitsky would run down and attack Kane. This would prompt a match for next week's RAW between Snitsky and Kane. Well done.
Good backstage segments with Ric Flair, HHH, and Batista throughout the night. Man, when they finally pull the trigger on Batista's turn, it could seriously be huge and it could help out Wrestlemania 21 very much. I'm saying it now: give us Triple H vs. Batista at Wrestlemania 21 instead of Orton vs. HHH.
The next match was Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit vs. Christian/Tyson Tomko. I'm sure Christian wants to request working with Benoit and Jericho more often, for the abilities he has really stands out against excellent opponents. Good tag match overall, as Jericho and Benoit win easily in the end. Unless I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue, I could have sworn that I saw Jericho vs. Benoit hyped for next week's RAW. I really hope so... This tag action begs the question: if you're not going to push Jericho and Benoit in the main event, why not make them tag team champions? Seriously, and keep them champions so that it adds a ton of credibility to the titles and to the division. That way, if you beat Jericho and Benoit, then you've beat a very good tag team and are very worthy of being champions.
Next, we had the stupid Lingerie Pillow Fight. I'm sure it's great for the live crowd, but it comes off lame here at home, even though the contestants looked fantastic (especially the referee, my gawd!). We've seen too many stupid segments like this before, and it makes me wonder why the first two matches didn't have that extra time to develop. This IS a wrestling show, after all, and repetitive segments like this are NOT proven draws in the ratings.
"Masterpiece" Chris Masters? Just looks like another cookie cutter Ohio Valley Wrestling guy, but with a little added bulk (which will slow him down in the ring or cause injuries from too much bulk, as HHH and Scott Steiner have learned). The Ohio Valley Wrestling experiment isn't working as well as some others might suggest.
The main event was Batista vs. Randy Orton for the #1 Contender's Spot to face HHH at the Royal Rumble. OK match overall, as Orton's crowd reactions are weak enough not to motivate him to take it up a few notches. Excellent ending, though, as Batista had Randy Orton beat but Triple H wanted to hit Orton with a chair. Batista argued that he had Orton beat, and that allowed Orton to push Batista into the chair and get the roll up victory! Yet another well done storyline touch to keep hyping Batista as the next big thing. This sets up Orton vs. Triple H at the Royal Rumble, which I sincerely hope is the ending to the Randy Orton experiment. Have HHH beat him at Royal Rumble and allow Orton a year or so to build himself up into a WORTHY main eventer. Maybe have him turn heel again and rejoin Evolution, while Batista gets kicked out. But depush Orton before he damages his wrestling career for good, and at 24, he has many years to climb to the top of the mountain by earning it.
LAST WORD: I am REALLY enjoying the build up of Batista. It's my favorite thing in wrestling right now, bar none, and it's the thing I'm most anxious to see each week. The rest of the show, though, needed a little help. Edge vs. HBK went wrong on its segment, but that can be corrected. The midcard is floundering, as Benjamin needs a worthy opponent to feud with instead of a puny Tough Enough winner (how about Rhyno?). I really wonder if the WWE knows what they are doing with excellent talents named Chris (Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho). I liked the Batista stuff, and that saves the grade of this show to a [ B- ], as it would be otherwise lower for bad wrestling and a weak midcard.
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