Roll out the red carpet.... it's the 2003 TITO AWARDS. I'm your wonderful (sarcasm) host, Mr. Tito. Every year, I give out my Titos for the absolute best in professional wrestling or namely ones I'm able to see on national television (WWE and some NWA-TNA). Please remember that the Tito Awards are called the "Tito Awards" because they are of MY OPINION. You can completely disagree with them, great, but don't go crazy over them. I remember one idiot wrote a whole column on another website because he disliked my opinionated choice for best WCW match one year, a year of which WCW provided no good matches. Please keep that in mind.
I do have a few things to say before the awards will be given out... call it an opening monologue or however that is spelled.
-I met Ric Flair a few weeks ago at the Wesbanco Arena (formerly the Wheeling Civic Center) at an autograph signing. In efforts to get more people to watch shitty double-A hockey, the Wheeling Nailers pony up high dollars to big name wrestlers to show up now at a game in December. Last year it was Shawn Michaels (who was very nice), and this year, it was Ric Flair. The autograph signing started at 7... I was there, first in line, at 4:00. Slick Ric walked in and he looks much thicker in person than he is on television. Plus, he has gigantic hands for whatever reason, making me feel bad for anyone who has ever taken a Flair chop. Flair is also the most tan person I've ever seen in person. Anyway, I got the Ric Flair picture from the WWE 2003 Preview magazine signed along with another picture signed for my brother as a present. I shook his hand and said "thanks for everything". They moved everyone along pretty quickly through the line so you couldn't say much. He seemed nice from what I saw and I can't wait for the pictures to arrive that were taken there with him.
-Christmas was pretty good to me, again, as far as wrestling multimedia. The Beatles Anthology DVD collection was on my Christmas list, and 2 people bought it for me. That's OK, because in some stores, the Anthology has a nice price tag for exchanges. In addition to buying the 2nd season of OZ (I need my tits! [Tits are what drugs are called on OZ]), I purchased Shawn Michaels "From the Vault" DVD. I've got a lot of DVD's to watch, so hopefully, I'll get to it one of these days. Secondly, my hero, Mrs. Tito, bought me Steve Austin's biography. I've read the first few chapters, but haven't had time to get through anything else. I should just skip to the wrestling details, though, which is what I might do for Lawler's because that book is TORTURE to read.
-While I'm on the subject of OZ, I seriously recommend checking out that series sometime on DVD or if repeats still run on HBO. OZ is a show about a prison named Oswald Correctional Facility and about a special part of it called "Emerald City", where prisoners have more freedom than a normal cellblock. Every show is an hour long and features many great characters. What makes OZ great are the storylines, especially in the earlier seasons. For example, you had Tobias Beecher, who came in as an upper class lawyer charged with killing someone while driving intoxicated. He was at first intimidated because he wasn't used living among criminals. Every week, he was treated like crap, namely by a Nazi sympathizer named Verne Schillinger. Eventually, he was pushed over the limit and struck back. Their feud was extended throughout many of the seasons and had great payoffs. It's very unlike the WWE, who can't write a meaningful feud that you just can't wait to tune into the next show to find out what happens. OZ, probably in its first 4 seasons, was a very well written show and every character had a certain importance. When a key character became boring at the top, he was killed off. It's unlike the WWE, who has stale wrestlers at the top but they must always remain the champions (Triple H), when they should be depushed or putting over newer main eventers.
But anyway, check out the First and Second seasons of OZ. I've watched the whole series when it was on HBO, and it's well worth your time, believe me!
-Does anybody believe the news about the McMahons NOT wrestling at Wrestlemania 20? HA! Didn't think so...
-It seems as though the WWE is having problems getting former ECW talent to sign over their likenesses for use of the video library in certain areas. The problem lies within the speaking parts, such as Joey Styles commentating and certain wrestlers who used a lot of mic time, such as Shane Douglas. This stems from the court case between the WWF and Jesse "the Body" Ventura when the WWE used Ventura's commentating on several WWF videos. Ventura argued the WWF was making money off of his voice, or at least, he saw no cut from the videos. This set a precedent and the ECW talent is following suit. Joey Styles is an actual problem, given that he commentated on nearly EVERY ECW match. What can you do, mix it out? That's easier said than done, for a match without commentary sounds bad and a match with new commentary would sound bad. It should be interesting what the WWE does with Foley's ECW material.
Should the ECW guys throw a fit over the WWE owning their library? Well, the guys put a lot of thought into their promos and Joey Styles put in a lot of time as their commentator. Styles was a trademark guy from ECW, and the WWE, I bet, is regretting that they didn't give Styles a lowball offer to join the WWE a few years ago. The ECW library is a great investment for future videos and clips, so why not shell out some money NOW to make money LATER? I'm sure Styles and Douglas would shut up if some money was thrown their way, and the same goes with the rest of the ECW wrestlers.
-SMACKDOWN in IRAQ wasn't much of a wrestling show, BUT I at least appreciate that the wrestlers tried their best to make the soldiers entertained overseas. The soldiers deserve an evening off for some entertainment. The WWE has been doing a lot of PR stuff for the past few years, namely for the sake of the country with American armed forces and the Smackdown Your Vote campaign. The WWE gets a pat on the back for this, but it's rather odd in the wake of the stuff they've put on, such as Lance Storm's character and La Resistance talking some major smack on America. Yeah, it's their gimmick to be anti-American, but cutting a promo that George W. Bush directly let 9/11 happen (I believe Storm said that?), and so on? Kind of a double standard. I'll overlook it, though, given the fact that watching wrestling is optional and their work outside of television has been pretty positive.
-The fact that Steve Austin has December off for "Deer Hunting Season" is very funny to me. Not funny, ridiculous. They wrote that whole storyline knowing he needed a whole month off to go deer hunting. It's just about as bad as several schools in the Ohio Valley closing for the first day of deer season. Ridiculous!
On to the AWARDS!
BEST TAG TEAM: Haas and Benjamin, the World's Greatest Tag Team - Even though the Smackdown writers, sans Heyman, don't like them, they are still the most fundamentally sound tag team in the WWE right now.
MATCH of the YEAR: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle, Royal Rumble 2003 - The best pure one-on-one contest around. Lesnar vs. Angle, Ironman Match, gets a close honorable mention.
COMEBACK of the YEAR: Bill Goldberg - Say what you want about Goldberg, he came back in 2003 and wasn't that bad. He was on a show with Triple H and still won the World Championship. While he's not over like he was in WCW during early 1998, he's at least a clear babyface now. Hopefully, he re-signs with the WWE.
BEST CRUISERWEIGHT: Tajiri - Despite a goofy mafia storyline, Tajiri had a great stretch during the summer of wrestling.
BEST WOMEN'S WRESTLER: Molly Holly - Look who is still champion? While Women's wrestling lacks one breakout star to make the division popular, Molly has been holding up her end as a carry-job wrestler of the women's division.
PAY PER VIEW of the YEAR: Vengeance 2003 - Solid event, all around. Great matches from Benoit vs. Guerrero over the US Title and from Haas/Benjamin versus Mysterio/Kidman.
MOST IMPROVED WRESTLER: The Big Show - Call me crazy, but he hasn't been that bad in 2003. Maybe it's wrestling smaller wrestlers on Smackdown that makes him look better? He actually looked like a main eventer on Smackdown in 2003.
BEST ANNOUNCING TEAM: Michael Cole and Tazz. Duh... Lawler and Ross were almost replaced, for real, twice this year. If it weren't for Johnathan Coachman totally sucking, they'd be out of the job already.
BEST MIC SKILLS: The Rock - For the shows he's been on this year, nobody comes close to out-talking the Rock. Nobody!
MOMENT of the YEAR: - Standing ovation for Chris Benoit after his match against Kurt Angle at Royal Rumble 2003. It should have made Benoit a big baby face...
BEST STORYLINE IDEA: - For a fed with bad writing... I'll go with Ric Flair going for the World Title the night after Triple H defending the title at a Pay Per View. In an angle, Triple H was forced to wrestle and defend the title after fighting Kevin Nash on a Pay Per View, namely after getting powerbombed through a table. He could pick any former champion, so he picked his friend Ric Flair. Flair, however, took the match seriously and it made for Triple H's best match of 2003. Yeah, it was only a storyline for ONE show, but nothing really good on storylines happened for the WWE in 2003, hence the lower ratings and lower business.
BEST MANAGER/VALET: Shaniqua(sp?) - Linda Myles has found a decent role after winning Tough Enough 2. She can't wrestle yet, so they made her a valet and an intimidating one at that. Maybe in a year, she can back that up in the ring.
ROOKIE of the YEAR: (Meaning first year in the WWE!) The Bashams - Really, nobody came into the WWE from the farm systems. The WWE unloaded their best talent in late 2002 from Ohio Valley Wrestling.
BOOK of the YEAR: I'm behind on my reading... I probably liked the Hardy Boyz book the best that I've read in 2003.
BEST SPOT of the YEAR: There was something in the RVD vs. Christian ladder match that I can't remember...
BEST ENTRANCE THEME: No new themes this year, so we'll go with Kurt Angle since it's one of my all time favorite themes.
BEST FACE: Eddie Guerrero - Seriously, did you hear those face pops during the summer?
BEST HEEL: Triple H - I hate the son of a bitch, but his winning record as a heel makes him #1. No strong heels in the WWE during 2003. Lesnar wasn't always a heel in 2003...
BEST GM: Eric Bischoff - Always a consistent staple of RAW and as sleezy as ever. Just give him better stories to work with AND guys who have never been commissioners/GMs or any other executive positions before.
BEST BRAND of WWE: Smackdown - The littering of McMahons on Smackdown hurt, but it's still not as bad as the stale roster on the RAW side and Triple H as champion for most of the year. Give me Lesnar, Angle, Benoit, and Guerrero any day of the week.
MOST UNDERRATED: Matt Hardy - Although Benoit is underappreciated, Matt Hardy still gets overlooked, even with the roster change. This is a homegrown WWE wrestler and one who has been around for a long time. Hasn't he paid his dues as a WWE veteran to deserve a bigtime push?
LAST WORD: This concludes the 2003 Tito Awards. I hope you've enjoyed it. This year was hard to pick, given how bad the WWE has become over the year, namely after Wrestlemania 19. Overall, 2003 has been a struggle. Many weak television shows and several disappointing Pay Per View broadcasts, especially the RAW side of things and McMahon overexposure. I'll give 2003 a [ C- ] (C Minus). The WWE seriously needs to get new or better writers, take Stephanie McMahon OUT of the WWE, and then push the rightful and hardest working wrestlers. Thanks for reading and I seriously hope to be year next year, although I don't have my fingers crossed.
CLICK HERE to check out the HISTORY of 2003 column!!
@That's all for today. Thanks a million for reading.