I'm addicted to you, wrestling, you're a hard habit to break! Welcome to the 6th Anniversary edition of the Wrath of Tito. It's not that I've been writing a column called "the Wrath of Tito" for 6 years, but on October 25th, 1998, Mr. Calvin Martin hired yours truly to become a daily columnist. 6 years later, here I am and I'm still standing. Yeah, I don't run up any column streaks any longer and I only write once a week, but I'm still here! Whooo!!
For the past few weeks, I've really questioned myself as a wrestling fan. Programming was in a sucky period and I was wondering if it was worth 2-3 hours every Tuesday or Wednesday to talk about wrestling. RAW was poorly booked and Smackdown... don't get me started! NWA-TNA isn't catching my interest, either. My motivation towards wrestling has dwindled so much that I hardly ever tape the shows I constantly miss, i.e. Smackdown and NWA-TNA. I just don't care, and that's even with Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle on that show, two of my more favorite wrestlers. There's only so much of the Undertaker, Heidenreich, or JBL that I can take before I vomit! NWA-TNA just isn't impressing me. I don't like their storylines and their matches spotfest after spotfest in the span of 10 minutes for each bout. The hexagon ring just isn't appealing to me, either.
A few weeks ago, I was suggesting that RAW was collapsing. Taboo Tuesday SEEMED like it was a joke, RAW had no direction on its storylines, and you can only shove Randy Orton down my throat so far before I begin to throw up! But then last Monday arrived... it was probably the best RAW in a LONG time and it was one of the best Pay Per View hype shows for a while. Then, a buddy of mine actually wanted to see Taboo Tuesday, so I said fine, "I'll bring the pizza". I actually enjoyed the show as a whole. I thought the voting was legit and the show came off as entertaining for me. In addition, I liked what I saw on Monday Night. So, you know, things happen. Just when you think you can walk away from a product, they reel you back in. The Survivor Series-Royal Rumble-Wrestlemania stretch is historically a good period of wrestling, so MAYBE I'll stick around through Wrestlemania 21. The Royal Rumbles are usually my favorite shows to look foward to, and to quit now would deny me of seeing my guiltiest pleasure: battle royals. And the Royal Rumble is the best battle royal of them all!
Can things be done to help the company? Oh hell yes! Randy Orton is NOT ready. He's only 24 years old and he needs a few years of seasoning before getting the big push he's getting right now. Will he be a big star in a few years? YES. That's my big sticking point with Orton, whom the WWE is pushing too soon. Orton is NO Rocky Maivia or Kurt Angle, who "got it" early on in their careers. He needs work and should be kept out of the main event picture until he's ready to take the position on. Chris Benoit needs more respect. He WAS your world champion from Wrestlemania to Summerslam and kept business stable. Now, he's out of the title picture and the WWE didn't even mention his Tag Title victory at Taboo Tuesday on RAW. Disgraceful. He's FAR ready to retain the World Title than Randy Orton. John Bradshaw Layfield? The gimmick change has been nice for him. But after years of being a tag wrestler AND having a few main event pushes failing (i.e. the one he had on RAW, especially), you can't just push a guy straight to the top and to the title without working his way up there. He should have started off in the midcard with the gimmick to get fans really into the gimmick, a gimmick of which I think is really good. Then, once the fans see him enough as a tough midcarder, you move him up to the main event spot and then, just maybe, give him a world title shot. I understand that the WWE needed main eventers for Eddie Guerrero to wrestle. BUT, they gave JBL the title too soon and now they are paying for it. Of course, you have the Undertaker... his return to the "deadman" has been an absolute failure. Proof of that was shown by his dismal return at Wrestlemania and the wave being performed during his match at Summerslam. His feuds with larger wrestlers are sooo 1994, and 1994 was the year the WWF opened the door to WCW for an open challenge to whom the best wrestling promotion was at the time.
In my opinion, many great wrestlers are being misused. Charlie Haas was one half of the World's Greatest Tag Team or Team Angle. He's an impressive wrestler and can work a great match. Instead of recognizing this, as they are recognizing it with Shelton Benjamin, they have Haas wrestling jokes in the midcard and tagging up with Rico. Come on! Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle should be wrestling for the World Title, NOT JBL and Undertaker. Chris Jericho should be used better than just an Intercontinental Champion. He was your first unified champion!!! I am, however, pleased to see that Booker T is getting a push on Smackdown. How long will that last? Any takers on that bet? Chris Benoit, of course, should still be in the World Title hunt. And so much more...
Things CAN become much better. It's seriously blatant that Triple H does what he wants for himself and NOT the good of the company, while Vince McMahon is a tad senile on who can draw money right now (NOT the Undertaker, for example). And when you have Stephanie having responsibilities backstage, you know you're in trouble. It's no coincidence that storylines became weaker or more soap opera-ish once she started writing in late 1999 when Vince Russo left.
Therefore, I guess I'll stick with this for now... but who knows, wrestling could piss me off next week!
-Oh, while I'm on the subject of shoving Randy Orton down our throats, it's hilarious that the WWE trademarked "Randy Wear". That is so lame. I could walk down the streets and say "hey, look at me, I've got my RANDY WEAR on!" I would probably get mugged or spit on! I'd like to see the WWE merchandise figures over a year to see if Randy Orton's "Randy Wear" is even close to being a top seller.
-With Hulk Hogan maybe wanting to come back... would it be too much exposure if the WWE only had his daughter sing "America the Beautiful" or the national anthem at Wrestlemania? That would be a good idea and a way not to overexpose Brooke Hogan. Oh, by the way, I hope Brooke took a long look at Ashlee Simpson's embarrassing performance on Saturday Night Live, totally exposing Simpson for the produced fake that she truly is.
-The Paul Heyman proposed trade for Kurt Angle to RAW for Chris Benoit to return to Smackdown has presented a BLOCKBUSTER Wrestlemania 21 idea. Heyman felt that Angle needed to be traded away from the Undertaker due to backstage politics happening, in addition to giving the FANS a dream match between Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels, a match we've NEVER seen. With this being said, for Wrestlemania 21, why not book Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle? Both could remain on their respectful rosters and wrestle each other, ala Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg from last year, only much better! WWE needs to make this match happen! I'd love to see Eddie Guerrero vs. Shawn Michaels, as well. Michaels vs. Rey Mysterio? Hell, trade Michaels to Smackdown!
-So we had Taboo Tuesday... the voting, to me, looked very legit. In addition, they played up the spontaneous part of the choices, namely with Jericho losing his IC title because he wasn't prepared to handle Benjamin. Benjamin and Jericho seem to need a short while to get things started, meaning they seem to have a great match going as it's getting ready to end. Phew, Trish Stratus looked quite well in her schoolgirl uniform. Quite the short mini-skirt. Trish won on two aspects. First ever through the ropes battle royal that I've seen... Kudos to Kane for selling like a champ to Gene Snitsky, thus making Snitsky look like a million bucks as he put Kane out. Eugene vs. Bischoff was weak, and we've seen Bischoff get shaved before. Vince gets off at embarrassing Bischoff, which is somewhat sickening. But hey, that's what Bischoff knew when signing the contract to be with the WWE.
Good stuff with Benoit/Edge vs. La Resistance. Benoit seems to work well with Conway and Grenier, I've noticed. Predictable that Edge would run out, BUT I didn't forsee Benoit winning the tag titles on his own! Very nice. Christy took forever to put on her lingerie. What was the point of putting fake boobs on Carmella? Bad match, but it could have been worse. Amazing how well Michaels can perform with ONE leg. Pretty good bout between Michaels and Triple H, once again. But huge props goes to Michaels for wrestling with an injured knee and making a good match of it. Triple H does a pretty convincing job of attacking a weakness, just as he did at Summerslam 2002 with Shawn's back. Orton vs. Flair in the cage was the main event... odd choice, but ok. Send the fans happy with an Orton win? Actually, fans were behind Flair throughout the match. Pretty decent cage match to end the show, with Flair carrying Orton through an oldschool style cage match. Orton won the match... Nice show of respect between both wrestlers after the match.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable show with a handful of good matches, while creating a good climate of "anything can happen". I'll go [ A- ] (A minus) overall.
Ok, let's review one more show......
This would prompt Eric Bischoff, with a new slick look, ala Samuel Jackson, to come down to the ring. He said he was giving himself the night off, thereby allowing the "inmates to run the asylum". It's somewhat ironic because a lot was made about Vince McMahon not being backstage at RAW. Whatever.
So Evolution comes out and Triple H declares that he's in charge tonight. Man, so much irony! HHH offers Flair another chance at Randy Orton, which prompts Flair into yet another rant about Orton. I guess the cage match hug was forgotten? Orton came out, wanting a title shot from Triple H. HHH says he could have a shot IF he beats Ric Flair again tonight. Alrighty...
Again, Benjamin vs. Jericho went slowly until getting hot towards the end, and then it ended. What if they went 20 minutes? Benjamin won, and the end of the match had me thinking Jericho would turn heel, once again. Nope, they shook hands, and after Jericho left, Christian attacked Benjamin to remind us that Christian loves to fight over the Intercontinental Title!
Backstage, Evolution taunts Christy. Jericho, the knight in shining armor, sticks up for Christy and says some nasty things to Triple H. HHH's response was missing due to sound problems, thankfully. Just as Evolution advances on Jericho, the likes of Chris Benoit, Maven, and many other faces get behind Jericho, thus making Evolution back off like cowards. VERY WELL DONE segment here, as the faces FINALLY go after Evolution, the faction that has run RAW since it was conceived. It took them THIS long?!? Especially after Evolution controlled all of the titles at the Armageddon Pay Per View during December 2003.
Next, we get a "via satellite" interview with Edge, as he complains yet again about his deserved title shot.
Then, to show you how delayed the production meetings COULD have been on Monday without Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels gave a somewhat heart-felt speech about the fans voting for Taboo Tuesday. The problem was that the segment went on for too long and it seemed like he was rambling. I understood the message and the meaning behind the segment, but it seemed too unprepared and too long.
Backstage, the WWE recycled the slap method to hype Batista vs. Maven.
Batista vs. Maven was pretty short for anyone to remember the "upset" by Maven. Anybody want to bet on how long it will be before Maven injures himself again?After the match, Batista tried to attack Maven, BUT Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit backed up Maven. From the way this show is turning out, Evolution looks to be adding a member or two. Maven seems like a legit possibility with this win over Batista, as the WWE wants to hide his possible heel turn. Plus, Survivor Series is around the corner... instead of doing Orton vs. HHH, they'll run Benoit, Jericho, Benjamin, Orton versus Evolution... they need one more member.
Gene Snitsky totally squashed William Regal... I'm assuming that the WWE isn't pushing Regal legitimately because of fear of injury? The WWE should push Regal and Eugene as a tag team, but that's just my opinion. I really like Regal's new song, by the way. Snitsky is getting great booking behind him, oddly enough, for a newcomer.
Oh noooooooo!!! It looks like Lita will be wrestling Trish Stratus after their backstage brawl. Nooooooo!!!! Stratus called Lita "chubby". Actually, it looks as though Lita has slimmed down just slightly, namely from how she looked on Taboo Tuesday.
The main event was decent between Ric Flair and Randy Orton. It's scary when Ric Flair has to carry someone half his age to a good match... The finish saw Batista distracting the faces while Triple H snuck in to attack Randy Orton to help Flair win! No Survivor Series World Title match for Randy Orton! Whooo! Looks like we'll see a faces versus Evolution 4 on 4 OR 5 on 5 type match, while Randy Orton may win the Royal Rumble now. Damn it! After the match, though, Triple H and Evolution got his from the faces, as they attacked namely Triple H with various moves. Awesome ending.
LAST WORD: I absolutely loved faces from the lockerroom FINALLY going after Evolution. It's about damn time, and the show, overall, was pretty good. [ A ] for this show, as we go 2 great RAW shows in a row. AMAZING in this time and age.
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