Waiting for the break of day; searching for something to say... Welcome to the Wrath of Tito, the LoP column that was one of the most popular columns during the peak years of the WWE from 1999-2000. Well, not the Wrath of Tito, but the good ol' Phat Daily Column. Man, what a dedicated fan I used to be to write EVERY day. Well, times have changed... the lack of wrestling on national television and federations I liked (WCW and ECW) makes it tough to watch the WWE, who has been absent of legit competition for over 3 years now.
-BUT, I have reminders of what a great feeling being a wrestling fan is. Such is the case with the new "Rise and Fall of ECW" DVD produced by WWE entertainment. This was an EXCELLENT presentation made by the WWE. I feared that the WWE filters would tell their version of the ECW story. However, the WWE let things fly with the ECW wrestlers and personalities now employed by the WWE. This DVD had minimal comments by Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon, whom in my opinion, added to the 3-hour documentary portion of the DVD quite well. That's right, 3 freakin' hours! It more or less covers all of the major ECW stuff, ranging from its origin, the talent it showcased and discovered, Pay Per Views, famous angles, the TNN show, and later the demise of ECW. Lots of footage and lots of ECW people, such as Paul E. Dangerously (a lot of him), Tommy Dreamer, Dudleys, Tazz, Dawn Marie, Stevie Richards, Rob Van Dam, Lance Storm, Spike Dudley, Nunzio (Little Guido), an ECW director/producer, Rhyno, among others. It was THEIR story to tell and the WWE allowed them to tell it.
Yes, Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff are on it. HOWEVER, they were the competition and many claims about the WWE stealing storyline ideas and WCW stealing talent were addressed by the other side of the story. While Heyman insisted Bischoff stole his talent, Bischoff replies that the wrestlers also chose to make the jumps. Then, with the idea of Vince stealing ECW ideas, Vince replied that while it was an influence, the WWE took the more adult style of wrestling to a bigger scale. Bischoff and McMahon only embark on a few comments, so they DO NOT dominate the documentary portion of the DVD!!!
I've only watched the documentary on Disc One of the ECW DVD and I was VERY impressed. I have yet to check out the given ECW matches and special features on Disc 2, but I've seen several of those matches before. I STRONGLY recommend that any former ECW fan check out this DVD. It was well done by the WWE production team and the WWE let the ECW personalities tell their story. Well done and bravo to the WWE. [ A+ ] to this DVD based on Disc 1 alone.
-Speaking of wrestling merchandise, I've been slowly getting through Jerry Lawler's book. My apologies to Lawler and the WWE for trashing it earlier, as it starts out very slow and is VERY descriptive of Lawler's life. I just got into Lawler starting to wrestle in Memphis and Alabama and it seems to get better with the chapter. My attention span is terrible and this book was an unfortunate victim of this. I hope to sit down and inhale a lot of this book sometime, although the demands of preparing lesson plans for a college course as well as working another part-time job, in addition to a social life, makes reading a book the last thing on my mind right now. Plus, that new "Mario Power Tennis" game for the Gamecube is calling my name...
-In addition, I looked at the WWE Volume 6 Thematic CD today as well... nothing on that CD caught my interest, with the exception of the Smackdown theme. But I'm not paying $13.99 at Circuit City for just one song! Fuck that! Terrible theme line up by the WWE and the WWE should be ashamed... why? The previous 5 theme CDs were quite good and keepers in my collection, in addition to the Anthology CD.
-Good for the WWE... WWE RAW drew a 3.9 rating. That's a better showing after a Pay Per View, which is something the WWE hasn't seen in a while. However, you could suggest that the Eagles vs. Cowboys game was over early on in the game, as Terrell Owens deserves the MVP award. Yes, I said it! Still, take whatever positive numbers you can get these days, and in my humble opinion, RAW has been better lately.
-Man, the WWE is taking the NWA-TNA greeting at Universal Studios extremely seriously! Recently, the WWE was filming Royal Rumble commercial spots at Universal Studios, while NWA-TNA was there filming Pay Per View vignettes. Knowing that the WWE was in the same building or area, several NWA-TNA wrestlers and personalities brought balloons and cookies to the WWE staff while they were on a filming break. Nothing more and nothing less... except for someone on the NWA-TNA side filming what happened! Yes, it exposed the business and the filming was pretty corny of NWA-TNA to do, as I'd assume they wanted to air this segment on their television shows. But, I don't think NWA-TNA really meant harm by this greeting. What kind of exposure can you get from giving cookies and balloons to the opposition? It would be different if NWA-TNA wrestlers tried to confront the WWE staff for a nasty publicity stunt, but they didn't. BALLOONS and COOKIES, people.
NWA-TNA, however, should be celebrating right now. This paranoia over a video tape displaying NWA-TNA guys giving balloons and cookies to WWE guys shows that Vince McMahon is aware of NWA-TNA as legit competition. NWA-TNA just had their first major Pay Per View (although I haven't hear many good things about it) and they have a national television deal on FOX Sports Net... although FSN's are very unorganized and programming changes from time to time. Seriously, FOX can produce the top rated and best organized News Network, but what's wrong with their Sports channels? Anyway, I can imagine that Vince sees potential in NWA-TNA, just as everyone else can... once NWA-TNA figures out how to create their own superstars instead of living in the past by signing the likes of Hogan, Savage, Nash, and Hall... Oh yeah, Lex Luger. Seriously, who has interest in THAT guy?
-One thing I'll give credit to for NWA-TNA is the interaction they have with the Best Damn Sports Show Period on FOX Sports Net. I've seen several wrestlers show up there and the likes of Tom Arnold, John Salley, Brian Cox, and the main host have been very considerate and generous to them. Now, if the fed could only get a little better with their storylines and if they could create their own talent instead of signing old names. Oh yeah, Jeff Jarrett doesn't need to dominate at all times.
-With all of this NWA-TNA stuff, Hulk Hogan stands to make a lot of money. He's hinting that he'll sign with NWA-TNA for something, but in my opinion, he's using them for the top federation in the land, the WWE. That's right, I think the absence at Wrestlemania 20 is EATING at Hulk Hogan and I wouldn't doubt he'd like one more shot on Wrestlemania. Hogan, in my opinion, should start talking to Stone Cold Steve Austin. At Wrestlemania 21, how about Hulk Hogan vs. Steve Austin? Nostalgia all the way and it would create a lot of interest. It's a match everyone has wanted to see, given that both have probably pushed the most merchandise of ANY two wrestlers ever. Plus, you have a little bit of back history with Austin leaving WCW just as Hogan was getting comfortable in WCW (i.e. see Austin's ECW promos). Hogan should sign a deal for Wrestlemania 21 and have his daughter, Brooke, sing the National Anthem. Picture perfect.
-Who on God's green Earth wants to see the X-Pac and Chyna porno tape? Nothing like watching a porno when the female is twice as large as the male... Oh yeah, Chyna has more muscles than X-Pac, too. But anyway, Chyna is quite clever to land a spot on the Surreal Life. I absolutely love that show, as it's one of the few reality shows I try to catch. Flavor Flav and Bridget Nielson's relationship was fun to watch from this past season, and seeing celebrities actually interacting like human beings with each other is quite pleasant to watch. I can guarantee that Chyna and Da Brat DO NOT get along, and this should make for a fun show in January. I'm sure VH1 is licking their lips over the porno tape, for a porno tape never hurt Pamela Anderson or Paris Hilton's careers... then again, Chyna is no Pam Anderson or Paris, even though she did well on her Playboy spread, to her credit. Chyna has no star power outside of the WWE and the Surreal Life/porno tape could be the help she desires. I'm sure Playboy is appreciative that Chyna's in a porno tape, as they've blackballed various Playmates from the Playboy mansion for doing porno.
-Oh yeah, there was a Survivor Series this past weekend. It's the first one I've missed or didn't care about since I can seriously remember. I usually get excited for the November classic, but not this year. Just lacked excitement, even though I like the stipulations for the RAW brand's Survivor Series match up. I will, however, check out the Royal Rumble this year, which is a great time of the year to be a wrestling fan.
And to go on a tangent here... A lot of people notice that I attend a lot of local independent shows and link them here in my column. I thank those feds, very much, for not only providing me with entertainment in a very dismal and boring Ohio Valley, but for more or less keeping me a wrestling fan. There have been many times where I've been fed up with the WWE, but then I attend a local independent show, and I'm energized again. If you're in the Eastern Ohio area or the tri-state area (West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania), check out XWF Inc. on Sunday, November 28th at 7:00 pm EST in Bridgeport, OH at the Bridgeport Eagles. Tickets are at a STEAL at only $6. I recommend it. XWF Inc. conveniently lists directions on their webpage, which you can check out by Clicking Here or the link below.
-Another release happened late last week in the WWE and this time, Linda Miles or better known as Shaniqua was released. Man, those Tough Enough winners are dropping like flies! Linda Miles apparently had all of the potential, given her athletic ability and size... however, it looks as though her head wasn't in the game. Best of luck to Linda Miles in all of her endeavors and she should at least look at the positives: she got a boob job out of the deal!
By the way, while I'm on the subject of releases... I guess Vince MIGHT NOT be afraid of NWA-TNA if he's released so many wrestlers in the past week. I'm guessing Rico and Billy Gunn gets jobs in NWA-TNA, while the rest... well, we'll see. Rico would work out well in TNA, in my opinion.
On to the RAW review portion of the column!
The first match of the night turned into a 3 Way Elimination match between La Resistance, Rhyno/Tajiri, and William Regal/Eugene. Nice of the WWE to destroy Eugene and Regal at the hands of Gene Snitsky to totally discredit them as a tag team. Oh yeah, there was that title win overturning at the England RAW. I love the team of Rhyno and Tajiri. Once Rhyno's kickass theme music hits, I get pumped for whatever reason. Pretty good opening bout that saw NEW Tag Champions crowned of Regal and Eugene. I'm always amazed at how the WWE wants to keep tag titles on heels for so long. Yeah, and face tag teams don't draw, do they? Steiners, Road Warriors, Demolition, British Bulldogs, etc. I thought Smackdown missed the boat with the RVD and Rey Mysterio team and not giving them the tag titles or at least let them chase the belts longer. This match was really fun once Tajiri and Eugene had the task of working together and doing MANY pinning attempts.
I actually took a quick shower at this point... heard that Triple H spent a long 10 minutes or so, backstage, talking to Maven before he finally asked Maven to join Evolution. I liked the touch of Ric Flair later giving Maven some women to hang out with. I think Maven is turning to the darkside, but the WWE didn't want to do it this week to hold of predictability. I thought, for sure, that Maven was going to turn heel once Evolution was banned from ringside during HHH vs. Maven. In addition, showing Batista questioning HHH's decision to invite Maven into Evolution seemed like Maven was going to turn. By the way, Triple H needs to decide who he really is. Is he a snob? Is he a badass? Or is he a goofball, as he played with Batista backstage. It's confusing, and it hurts the Triple H character when he's inconsistent in the way he acts everywhere. Hard for fans to want to see him on top every week...
As I said it before, I'd turn Chris Benoit heel and make him join Evolution. He would be very valuable putting over Randy Orton and other up and coming faces. If the WWE is going to let Benoit flounder in the WWE midcard instead of putting him back into the World Title scene, where he belongs, then why not put him in a position to advance younger talent? An Evolution membership would be perfect, while making a valuable tag team partner.
The next match was Lita vs. Molly Holly. Lita just doesn't seem to have any wrestling ability any longer, and it's a shame. I don't know if it's the added bulk or the motivation factor... But man, it's hard to watch her perform by any means. Lita won the match and an upset Trish Stratus with a Bill Lambier mask on confronts Trish, but Lita gets the better of the confrontation and Trish may have reaggrivated her broken nose.
Maven fooled us with the Jim Ross vs. Coach match, as it was Randy Orton vs. Coach instead. Must be that darn Southern accent of Maven's. Anyway, quick squash on the Coach. What is Coach's role in the WWE, anyway?
Next, we had a solid tag team bout between Edge/Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin/Chris Benoit. Pretty well worked match, given the competitors in the match. What I really liked, though, was the ending. It helped to further Edge's career as a heel by making him attack Christian after the match. Many fans, including myself, have longed for the reunion of Edge & Christian. However, Edge went ballistic on Christian and that probably angered a lot of eager fans... including myself. Excellent booking by the WWE to make Edge attack Christian, as it should help Edge further his position as a heel in the WWE. Very nicely done...
Stacy Keibler vs. Christy was next in a Lingerie Pillow Fight. Good to see that Stacy can't take Christy in a pillow fight, but she can sure give the actual women's wrestlers in the WWE a tough bout. Whatever.
Another great Simon Dean segment. This week, he tried to offend another fat person when Rosey came out. Finally, some WWE wrestler interaction! Simon played the coward at first until he started insulting Rosey, eventually getting attacked. Dean then moved out of the way from a Rosey splash and drilled Rosey with a container of powder. Then, Dean blinded Rosey with that powder. I'm somewhat anxious to see what the man formerly named Nova has to offer in the ring now, for it's been years since I've seen him wrestle.
That leaves us with the Main Event to wrap up my RAW review, which featured Triple H vs. Maven. Heading into the match, nobody in their right mind expected Maven to win, in addition to the many who thought Maven would turn heel. In fact, the crowd was dead silent through the beginning of this match. The match wasn't working well, for Maven is still green and HHH can't carry newer stars... BUT, the match became fun with the well prepared drama at the end with the well planned outside interference. Lots of near falls and Maven seemed, at least to the crowd, to have a legit chance of winning. Good stuff and the nice planning helped to save the match and end the show well. HHH, though, eventually escaped the boatload of interference and won the match.
LAST WORD: Another solid outing by the WWE, which makes what, 5 good shows in a row in this author's opinion? I'll give it a [ B ], as I'm amazed that the writing of the show is actually getting better, despite downfalls in how certain wrestlers are pushed. Amazing. 2 solid tag matches as well as proper planning for other stuff leaves me happy with the WWE lately, at least on the RAW side of things. Keep up the good work.
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