Welcome to a special Wednesday edition of the Wrath of Tito. Today, I'll talk about my 2 day WWE Smackdown trip, in which I went to the Monday houseshow in Wheeling, West Virginia and then to Smackdown in Columbus, OH. I will also review UPN's WWE Super Tuesday, which I'm watching as I write this introduction.
I'll tell you what, I'm very worn out from the 2 day trip. You see, I go to school at Ohio University in Athens, OH. So I went home for the weekend, a 2 hour drive, which is on the eastern border of Ohio near Wheeling, WV. On Monday, I went to the Wheeling Smackdown houseshow and then drove home that night, a nice long 2 hour drive. Then, on early Tuesday morning, I travelled from Athens to Columbus, which is a 1 and a half hour drive for the WWE Meet and Greet (more on that in a moment), and tried to keep myself busy for about 6 hours before Smackdown started by driving all around Columbus, and then I came back to Athens that night, which is again, an hour and a half drive. Too much driving, but I'll admit that it was well worth it and I'd probably do it again.
On Monday, I went to the Wheeling Smackdown Houseshow, and it was darn good. The midcard matches were given more time and the wrestlers had more freedom to play the crowd or wrestle however. This was especially evident in the Val Venis, Shelton Benjamin, Eric Angle vs. D'Von Dudley, Ron Simmons, and Bull Buchanan match, which had some great crowdplay. D'Von ripped the crowd to shreds, much like he did when he was actually given mic time in ECW. Crash Holly was HILARIOUS in some of the stuff he did (I'm not putting him down). When he couldn't wrestle at first after Nidia was telling him something dirty, acting like he just got wood, that was hilarious. The main event was incredible with Rey Mysterio/Edge vs. the Guerreros. It started slowly but exploded into a high energy tag match.
Some strange things, though, about some of the houseshow matches. First, it was the switch made by the WWE on the card to have Rikishi vs. Matt Hardy in the KISS MY ASS and Chris Benoit vs. Albert matches instead of the Albert vs. Rikishi KISS MY ASS and the Chris Benoit vs. Matt Hardy matches. But the matches were really bizarre. Matt Hardy came out to a big face pop and even played the crowd, like a face, on the mic. Rikishi would come out to boos and tell the Wheeling crowd to "kiss my ass". Yet, he was insanely over at Smackdown tapings in Columbus. I don't get it. Matt lost but he forced Rikishi to kiss his ass afterward with his own version of the Stinkface. Rikishi would turn back face later when the wrestlers were ribbing Tony Chimel with many Stinkfaces.
But something needs to be seriously done about Albert. He fought Chris Benoit and basically was on the offensive the whole time. It was nothing but stupid power moves and the Crippler was selling them all. For someone who can't get off of Velocity, why bother giving him a fighting chance against a Smackdown regular? It makes no sense to me. Albert looked like crap, too, as someone needs to really "shave his back" as the crowds were chanting. He would stink up the place again at the Velocity tapings by giving nothing to Shannon Moore, who shouldn't even be wrestling Albert. Throw Albert a weak midcard wrestler, not a cruiserweight. The WWE wonders why some wrestlers have no credibility whatsoever.
On Tuesday morning, I attended the WWE Meet and Greet, which actually started at 1:00 pm (I waited several hours in line). I got this deal through the Columbus Blue Jackets who gave you a Blue Jackets ticket, WWE Smackdown ticket, and a voucher to attend the Smackdown Meet and Greet. Ok, so I figured you'd get in a room with tables and walk around meeting a handful of WWE wrestlers, right? Nope. What the Meet and Greet became was a long line to meet just TWO WWE personalities, Matt Hardy and Torrie Wilson, just briefly saying "hi" to both wrestlers and getting their autograph. I was disappointed that it was just for 2 wrestlers, but it was still a good ticket deal all around.
I would especially like to say that Torrie Wilson and Matt Hardy were both EXTREMELY nice. I was about 5th in line and I met Torrie first. She looks FANTASTIC in person, and will probably be the hottest celebrity that I'll ever meet. She had a very big smile on her face doing this session, too. I shook her hand and said "good job in your match against Dawn Marie" last night, since I went to the Wheeling houseshow the night before. I told Matt Hardy the same, and we laughed about the Stinkface he gave Rikishi. He asked me where I lived, probably knowing that I've been doing some significant amount of driving to attend both shows. I told him "around Wheeling", as I live in some small town on the Eastern Ohio border. Both were very appreciative of their fans and a great example of why people would wait 2 or 3 hours just to meet some of the WWE wrestlers. In case either one is reading this, I was the one in the Pittsburgh Pirates jacket and probably the only one who attended back to back Smackdown shows in that line of 250 fans.
I actually shook hands with referee Tim White outside of the Nationwide arena. He went out for a brief walk, I assumed, and I shook his hand saying that I've always enjoyed him as a referee over the years. Other than that, the only other WWE personality I saw was Michael PS Hayes, who was walking in front of the class doors we were waiting behind before the Meet and Greet. I hardly ever get to meet any of the WWE personalities, so seeing some and meeting some in person was a treat for me. White, Hardy, and Torrie were each equally nice.
POSSIBLE SMACKDOWN SPOILER ALERT WARNING~!!!! I swear, I downed many cups of Hot Chocolate waiting in line to get into the Nationwide Arena, given how freakin' cold it was outside last night. Once in, I was amazed at the beauty of the arena. Constructed in 1998, it truly was state of the art. The seats were so comfortable and the arena was nicely lit up. No wonder the Pittsburgh Penguins want a new arena constructed instead of the old Mellon Arena. My seats were OK... I was sort of diagonal from one of the turnbuckles in section Club Level 7. That's what the Blue Jacket offices gave me for the Meet and Greet, so I dealt with it. At least no signs were in my face.
Rene Dupre looked great against Kanyon in the opening bout. He acted very much like Buddy Rogers and Ric Flair combined, as he came out in a robe like Flair's and was an extreme cock to the crowd. This guy has major potential. The other dark match was Val wrestling with some OVW wrestlers, which didn't go over well. I don't really care for Shelton Benjamin's theme, which rides the old Benjamins as being $100 bills. GET NEW MATERIAL, especially for African American wrestlers. He's not going to get over as a black guy who wants to live like P. Diddy.
I didn't like the Velocity tapings. I thought they could have made some better decisions, such as the main event being Albert vs. Shannon Moore. Crash Holly vs. Chuck Palumbo was somewhat entertaining, but D'Von vs. Funaki just wasn't there. The crowd was mostly silent for the tapings, making me wonder how the WWE will edit this stuff come Saturday.
As for SMACKDOWN... I thought 2 matches in particular were pretty good, Edge vs. Chavo and Rey vs. Eddie. The rest was either given poor time to develop, was rushed, or was used to hype a Pay Per View. You gotta see the Matt Hardy/John Cena backstage promo, in which Cena's rap gets some MAJOR crowd heat. Oh man, it was classic! Benoit vs. Angle was midly disappointing, as they've fought many times now and plus, this was used to hype the Pay Per View, not their feud. You'll see a LOT of Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and the Big Show, as the WWE tried hard to sell this as a legit headliner for Survivor Series.
Before the tapings, the WWE ran the Desire video with the old WWF, WWWF, and WWE highlights and Kid Rock's "Lonely Road of Faith" playing in the background. Hearing the live crowd responses for Austin, Rock, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, and Bret Hart somewhat put chills down my spine. The crowd did some loud "What?" chants during an Angle promo, in which I was screaming back "Austin is Gone".
Columbus is a great WWE crowd, as they cheered for everything the WWE would want them to (Rikishi, Big Show vs. Lesnar feud, etc). It's no doubt that the WWE will hold more Smackdowns and Pay Per Views here in the future, and I'm there, brotha. Columbus is incredibly easy to drive around in, far easier than Pittsburgh, a city in which you can get lost so easily. The show was nearly sold out in the sections the WWE made available (they tarped the top sections), which probably translated into roughly 15,000 fans or so.
Ok, enough about my live experience. I will say that I had an extreme amount of fun in the past 2 days, and hell, I even skipped graduate school classes to attend the Smackdown stuff. First time I've skipped in 5 years.
On to some news... RAW did a 3.1 rating. What can I say? I DID NOT watch RAW. I had my timer in my dorm set for something else that day and I was at the Smackdown houseshow Monday night. Now, while I can't comment on the quality of the show, I can say that a 3.1 is a low rating on the week before the Pay Per View, especially Survivor Series. I don't know whether it's from the confusion of the Elimination Chamber, the belief that nobody can beat Triple H, or the weak midcard action, but whatever the case may be, a 3.1 rating is very, very bad at this point.
Didn't buy WWE Anthology... 2 Live WWE shows took all my money away.
I can't wait for Scott Steiner to debut next week on either RAW or Smackdown. Hearing and seeing his promo at Smackdown got me pumped!
I found it bizarre that the WWE sent their Tough Enough wrestlers to Blind Date. Either the WWE wants to get their Tough Enough wrestlers accustomed to making appearances outside of the WWE or they considered Blind Date too "bush league" of a show to send any big names to it.
Speaking of Tough Enough... I caught Tough Enough 3. I thought it was a bit too early to determine if someone has Charisma or not, which was the case of Chad, who was the very first cut made by the trainers. Now, I can understand if he's not catching on to the training, and he was badly screwing up some moves. But to say he has no charisma or personality, that's hard to say in just 2 weeks. I can't see how you can get that in such short time.
Scott is being kept around for television purposes. Who else could attract the Mtv crowd during the Tough Enough commercials? Every week, he does something or says something to stir things up.
I have no idea who to predict to win during this run of Tough Enough. I will say that the women contestants look incredibly weak as WWE competitors, therefore, it leads me to believe that 2 guys will get chosen and that's probably a good idea at this point.
On to Super Tuesday!
The Big Show in ring interview was a joke. This show was slapped together, wasn't it?
I laughed at how the construction worker has said he never built anything like the Elimination Chamber. Yeah, nothing more ridiculous.
Next, it was the interpromotional Bikini Contest with Trish Stratus vs. Torrie Wilson. Both were damn hot. With Trish, what really hurts her from being as hot as Torrie is her height. Even with high heels on, she didn't match up to the height of Torrie. Nidia would run in, and take a beating from both Torrie and Trish. Nidia would probably be a better opponent to Trish than Victoria would be. At least viewers are accepting Nidia on television as a heel valet, while Victoria seems to be coming up short with fans (which is unfortunate).
Worthless Shawn Michaels interview. Man, talk about being slapped together.
The Main Event was Triple H, Chris Jericho, Christian, and the 3 Minute Warning versus Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kane, Bubba, and Jeff Hardy. You'd figure that the team with 3 out of the 6 participants in the Elimination Chamber would win this match, right? Wrong! I hope this is a sign to come, along with Triple H's win over Booker T on RAW, that Triple H loses that fake World Title this Sunday. He's a pathetic champion in 2002, no matter what title he's holding. The match was OK, but no blowaway 5 on 5 match like some were expecting.
LAST WORD: Can you say HALF-ASSED? When UPN presented this idea of "Super Tuesday", the WWE probably didn't want to think more than 4 hours outside of their normal television thinking. Plus, the wrestlers couldn't go full blast since they had to wrestle in either RAW or Smackdown later. It was one big Survivor Series hype show, which is needed, especially when RAW draws an extremely low rating of 3.1. I'll give this show a [ C ] (C) for your average WWE one hour show.
Recently, I did a feature with The Balrog's Lair which is somewhat like ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. It's called Pardon the Ring, and you can find it somewhere on their main page. I had a good debate with the Lair's Adam, which we went over stuff like the Survivor Series, RAW/Smackdown talent, and much more, including some good arguing at times. My edition of Pardon the Ring is currently up right now, so Click Here to check out the Balrog's Lair.
Check out Willygoat Xtreme Wrestling and the Valley Wrestling Federation. Two great backyard feds.
WRESTLEPALOOZA.com - Audio Show, Columns, News, and more!
KOLTERSHOCK!!! - A site that you shouldn't view with small children present!
X-Entertainment.com - One of the most entertaining pages on the net!
@See you next Tuesday!
Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.