I, love, Royal Rumble events... writing columns to vent... watching a drunken Chyna repent, AND TWINS! Welcome to the RAW influenced edition of the Wrath of Tito, the columns the pro's read. In today's issue, we'll discuss Monday Night RAW, more Chyna drunken moments on the Surreal Life, and your regular dosage of wrestling news and issues. Shall be fun...
-THE BIG NEWS OF THE WEEK, besides the great Royal Rumble of course, was the possibility of Smackdown getting cancelled from UPN. Last Wednesday, my good friend Phantom Lord posted breaking news from a reporter who had quotes from the Viacom co-president/ceo, Leslie Moonves, saying "It still makes us a decent amount of money. When you think about the powerhouses of CBS and NBC on Thursday night, it's great counter-programming. (But) it doesn't fit into the overall (programming) strategy.". That's a slide at Smackdown, who takes up TWO hours of programming time on Thursday night. Thursday nights, too, have the biggest gross number of television viewers. That's why you see the biggest shows on Thursday, such as the Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, CSI, ER, Survivor, and even the Simpsons at one point.
While Smackdown does have the highest ratings on UPN, for the most part, it's not a big revenue generator. Why? WWE ad rates are low, in addition to a failure of attracting big paying advertisers. You can thank various demographic studies and the Parents Television Council (PTC) for crippling the WWE's ad revenues, in addition to wrestling never being attractive to major advertisers in the first place. For instance, while Smackdown might be the top rated show, who knows, maybe a low rated show and big disappointment in "Enterprise" might be making the same amount of ad revenue for UPN. Who knows? I'm sure UPN's "America's Next Model" or whatever it's called makes WAY more ad revenue than Smackdown, even when the ratings are the same or lower than Smackdown.
The WWE and UPN apparently have one more television year left on their contract, and the contract, I believe, will end through September of 2006? That's just a guess, based on knowledge of the television industry that contracts start in the premiere month of September. It could very well be that Viacom is playing hardball with the WWE as the Spike TV deal is set to expire (I believe in September 2005, as the WWE joined Viacom in September 2000?). OR, it could be that this Viacom CEO slipped a quote to this reporter without knowing what ramifications it could cause. Wrestling news spreads like wildfire on the WWE, and the quote from Ms. Moonves certainly caused a great deal of controversy.
Is the WWE leaving UPN? Not until 2006 when their contract is possibly up. UPN would be crazy to buyout the contract now and eat several million. In addition, Smackdown brings the nextwork a male audience that I guess trickles down to their other shows, even though the only other real success on the network has been America's Next Model (or Next Top Model, whatever it is called) and that's a big female attracted show. I really believe that when the UPN contract comes up, probably in 2006, that it will NOT be renewed. Is that reason to panic now? No, because the WWE is more than a year and a half away from dealing with that problem. The WWE should worry more about renewing the Spike TV deal first, as Spike actually needs Monday Night RAW due to their lack of good, original programming. That, or get a sweeter cable deal elsewhere. I seriously doubt that Viacom, even though they are a billion dollar corporation, would choose to eat several million to buy out the WWE's UPN contract if say the WWE joins up with another cable network for RAW.
-By the way, I wonder if a network would have the balls to tell the WWE that they'd offer more money to the WWE for a television deal if the WWE merged their rosters...
-As much as I liked Triple H's 2004 year, he can still deliver a very mean spirited interview, as he did recently with freelance writer Anthony Greff. HHH said that he's the "scapegoat" for the internet with regards to WWE criticism because he's married to Stephanie McMahon. That's untrue, as HHH was the champion for the majority of 2003 and was NOT a draw for the RAW roster. In addition, he says that he's a wrestler and only attends creative meetings because he "wants to". No other wrestlers are allowed to attend those meetings! So if you're a wrestler, HHH, wouldn't it be a conflict of interest to other wrestlers not allowed to attend those meetings? Funny how HHH said that Booker T and Rob Van Dam are both missing a final piece to their puzzle to connect with wrestling fans as legit main eventers. Didn't HHH have Pay Per View feuds with both guys?
Now look... I certainly believe that Triple H eats, breathes, and loves professional wrestling. I think he cares about what he's doing, and that's good for the job he does. HOWEVER, I believe HHH believes his own hype and his own conflicts of interest get in the way of the storyline process. HHH had a good 2000... then again, WCW was dead in the water, Undertaker/Austin were out most of the year with injuries, and the WWE needed a top heel. HHH got the spot, did well with it, but he had awesome opponents in Benoit, Rock many times, Jericho, Foley, and the growing Kurt Angle. After 2000, when business was going south, Triple H was still on top. Coincidence? When you attend creative meetings as a wrestler or you're married to the creative head of the WWE, there's definitely a conflict of interest. Is it any coincidence that Triple H has been World Champion 10 times since August 1999? 10 championships in less than 6 years!!!!!! And Triple H was injured for a significant chunk of 2001!
HHH, attending creative meetings, should do whatever is in his power to make the overall WWE better. He IS NOT when he's pushing his own buddies, such as Randy Orton, or always wanting to be the guy with the World Title. Since 1999, Chris Benoit is the only guy HHH used his spot to help elevate, but Benoit hasn't been in the title picture since losing at Summerslam. Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, and Kane are forever crippled for the feuds they had with Triple H, while HHH's feuds with former WCW wash-ups were meaningless (Nash, Steiner, and even Goldberg, a guy who I was heavily rooting for). I sincerely hope that HHH is the driving creative force behind Batista's nice build up and that HHH will put over Batista at Wrestlemania 21 to help the business.
-Speaking of Bill Goldberg, he said he was going to make an announcement on his webpage, BillGoldberg.com, about his future in wrestling. Nothing posted yet, as he hyped the announcement on January 27th. It's hard to dig around on Goldberg's webpage, for it's one of the most poorly set up webpages I've ever seen with the excessive and ridiculous flash ads. It's a bit crazy! If Goldberg retires, best of luck to him. I thought the WWE wasted his true potential and should have at least gave him one more year.
-Well, Brock Lesnar didn't show up at the Royal Rumble, as many ridiculous rumors were suggesting. The WWE wouldn't want to give this guy a moment in the sun after leaving the WWE last year. They'd rather sign him back with a lower market value. The issue is definitely about money now, as Brock Lesnar was making awesome money before he left. Now that he's gone and is a failed NFL tryout, his market value might be diminished, at least in the WWE's eyes. Has it? I'd say to a degree, but everybody knows how tough the NFL is. When asked, one time, which was harder, the WWE or the NFL, Bill Goldberg laughed and the NFL by far. That's not discrediting wrestling, but with the NFL, you have to be the absolute best to make that league. Lesnar should be proud that he almost made the team despite having NO college experience.
Personally, if you ask me, Lesnar should possibly go back into amateur wrestling and maybe win a medal in the Olympics? He was a former NCAA heavyweight champion, and I'm sure, with the right coaching, he could have done well in freestyle Olympic wrestling. It's never too late, too, as Kurt Angle would have gone after a 2nd gold medal if he didn't screw up his neck. But, maybe Lesnar wasn't good enough for the Olympics, which is why he signed a big WWE contract once he got out of college? Same thing with Shelton Benjamin?
-That would be cool to see Psicosis in the WWE. He would work out well feuding with Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio on Smackdown, as well as providing another Hispanic hero for the large Hispanic audience that watches UPN in the urban areas. Psicosis is an excellent performer and one of the most overlooked guys in the business. The legdrop off the top rope is a thing of beauty!
-My parents still get Newsweek magazine and I saw a picture of Muhammed Hassan, along with criticism of various forms of media exploiting those of Middle Eastern ethnicity as badguys on television shows. Why has only Newsweek jumped on this? My guess, now, is that forms of big media don't care enough about the WWE to give them popularity by talking about one of their characters. In fact, Hassan's character was definitely created to spark controversy... But the WWE has tried so much with shock value angles over the years that it has probably turned the rest of the media off!
-Lex Luger, arrested again? Seriously, can this guy stay out of trouble? Luger was found on the side of the road and passed out when authorities found him. He's a total wreck and has been ever since his very cushy WCW job expired. Get some help, Lex, and please don't become the next wrestling casualty. Unfortunately speaking of possible wrestling casualties...
They go back to the house and a massage parlor was waiting for them. Everyone but Da Brat got massages. Next, the cast went to a strip club, where Adrianne Curry gets the hots for Christopher Knight, aka Peter Brady. By the way, Knight must have read Triple H's fitness book. Knight is a HOSS! Curry did everything she could at the strip club to get Knight's attention, and I'm sure he'll eventually cave in. Seriously, LOOK AT HER! Plus, I think she has a great personality, as she's very laid back and friendly in every which way but loose. After the club, Adrianne and Chyna drank a whole lot of alcohol. Chyna encourages her to go after Knight and let nothing stop her. Chyna, by the way, has been shown drinking in the early morning and now late at night. Total wreck, as usual.
HOWEVER, Chyna was on VH1's All Access "Most Embarrassing Moments of 2004" show last night and she was the most cleaned up I've seen her lately. I'm sure she was told strictly by VH1 to sober up to get the talking spot on the show, but who knows?
Our first match was Simon Dean vs. Shelton Benjamin, and it was a waste of a match. Very short and the WWE is limiting what Simon Dean (formerly Super Nova of ECW fame) can actually do in the ring. Instead, Dean is a carbon copy of every lame wrestling heel out there. Dean, after losing, told Benjamin that he only won because Benjamin used his weight-loss supplements. This pissed off Benjamin to come in to destroy Dean some more. What was the point? The WWE, though, seems to have positioned Benjamin as an "open contract" wrestler, meaning he'll defend the IC title against anybody who wants a piece. I've always liked that gimmick with certain title holders.
Backstage, HHH threatened Bischoff that Batista isn't going anywhere, but Eric Bischoff took the "we'll see about that" type of attitude. I like the new Eric Bischoff in that he still has the sleeze of a heel, but he has more balls to stick up for himself as a GM. Has anybody realized that he's been in the WWE since the mid-2002 or so? Bischoff is seriously a success story in the WWE!
Next, in the ring we had Christy Hemme shooting t-shirts to the crowd because she has to earn that big contract somehow. It's rather amazing to me that almost every Diva contestant has a WWE job now, *sarcasm*. That is, almost everyone except for a former Playboy Playmate (Carmella) who can forever find work and has the highest pricetag. Edge hits the ring, upset that Christy is shooting out Wrestlemania 21 shirts. Jesus, I wonder how Edge would react if "Fuck You Edge" shirts were being shot out? He's mad because he lost the Royal Rumble match, even though he beat HBK, and that would prompt Shawn Michaels to come out. HBK said he not only lost to Edge cheaply, but was eliminated by Kurt Angle who was already eliminated, and then was attacked by Angle. HBK had a bad night, but he's not as cynical as Edge was, so to speak. Edge would grant no rematch and said HBK promised to shake Edge's hand if Edge won the match. HBK slowly agreed and then destroyed Edge with a PERFECT Superkick. Well executed kick, to say the least.
The next match was another waste of a midcard match with Hurricane vs. Maven. Short match and it won't help Maven to win a short match over a guy the WWE gave up on a while ago. Yeah, it's a start, but Maven needs less work with elevation over guys than he does with overall wrestling ability. Ohio Valley Wrestling, OVW, would suit Maven much better.
I was thinking Gene Snitsky would have told the WWE Divas backstage "Nice shoes, wanna fuck?" instead of simply just saying "Nice shoes". It would have made me love the Snitsky over-the-top character THAT much more...
Backstage, Bischoff was wondering who played the JBL tape... that would prompt, holla, holla, Teddy Long to come in and boast that he's trying to steal Batista. Man, I love when the rosters interact.
Backstage, Randy Orton acts as though no concussions happened last night. Ok, WWE, if you're going to give your hero a fake concussion, at least have him sell the effects. He should still be seeing stars...
The next bout was a good little tag match between Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit vs. La Resistance that ended with the referee calling for a double-disqualification. Benoit, for whatever reason, has good chemistry working with Grenier and Conway. After the match, Benoit and Jericho were angry about losing and Jericho questions Benoit if he's "brought his best" to the ring. Later, Bischoff would make a Benoit vs. Jericho submission match to impress the more technical loving Japanese fans next week. Hey, that works out for me, too. And it's about time Chris Benoit starts getting on the winning end of things. He's been free-falling since Summerslam where he shouldn't have lost the title to an immature Randy Orton.
I have to agree with my buddy Rustoleum on this one... Muhammed Hassan does have some phat theme music. It's not as good as one theme another friend, aptly called the Senator, made for an Islamic Steeler fan backyard wrestler named "Kill Bower", a play of words on Steeler coach Bill Cowher. Senate mixed the "Here We Go" Steeler playoff theme with Middle Eastern music for some of the coolest theme music I've ever heard. Anyway, Hassan was upset at the RAW and Smackdown wrestlers, 8 of them, who stopped what they were doing and jointly eliminated Hassan during the Royal Rumble match. I forgot to comment on it yesterday, but man that was a great part of the Rumble. Well thought out by the WWE writers. He then challenged anybody to come and wrestle him...
That would prompt the old and tired Sgt. Slaughter to come out for his annual jobbing. Slaughter gave a small fight, but eventually put over Hassan, as he's put over other various wrestlers throughout the years. Funny how the WWE has come full circle on this match, too. Remember, Slaughter was an American traitor in 1990-1991 when he started sympathizing with Iraq during Desert Storm. Now, you have Hassan, also an American, who is very anti-US and the United States is currently in a conflict in Iraq. Which is more tasteless? Doesn't matter... neither should play off of real life events where lives were lost. Hassan now has an impressive record of now beating up two former great wrestlers in Jerry Lawler and Sgt. Slaughter. Not much to brag about here in 2004, as both men are a good 20 years or so out of their prime...
Backstage, it now hits Triple H that Batista could go to Smackdown and win the Smackdown title, and thus allow Evolution to "rule the entire wrestling industry" by having the championships of both rosters. HHH said this while also suggesting that Batista can't beat him at Wrestlemania. Ouch. Very nice early build up, as the crowd is going to erupt when Batista decides NOT to go to Smackdown and challenge HHH for the World Title.
Talk about stacking the card for next week's Japan RAW...
-Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit in a submission match
-William Regal/Tajiri vs. La Resistance
-Edge vs. HHH
The WWE is shooting the load early on Edge and for the benefit of exciting the Japanese crowd? Edge should NOT be wrestling Triple H at this point in his career, as he's still warming up to be a title contender. In addition, this match comes with ZERO build up and it makes Edge's chase storyline a total waste. Come on, WWE!
Nice tag team bout between Randy Orton/Shawn Michaels vs. HHH/Ric Flair. Batista caused himself to get ejected from the match, and he walked away with a smile! That's definitely going to be talked about by HHH because HHH was pinned in the match by Randy Orton. I'm still amazed at how well thought out the Batista build up is. It baffles me, especially in the wake of seeing others from OVW or other younger wrestlers not getting a good build up, whatsoever. HBK played the "face in peril", or as Scott Keith would say, HBK "was playing Ricky Morton", as Orton was the one getting the hot tag while HBK took the beating from the heels. Standard tag format, brothers, and it still works to this day! The match ended with Edge running out to attack HBK but spears Triple H instead by accident. Well, I guess that hypes the match a bit, but it's still one week away. This would cause Randy Orton to roll over and get the win over HHH. Where's the concussion effects, Randy? Well, he sold it after the match on the way back to the entrance way, but still...
The main event, sadly, was Kane vs. Gene Snitsky in the cage. At least Kane got the clean victory to finally end this feud, even though we are going to soon build up Snitsky/Heidenreich vs. Kane/Undertaker. Trish Stratus, who hates Kane's wife Lita, tried to help Snitsky win the match, but to no avail. Now, on to the tag match... the WWE needs to reunite Kane and the Undertaker, especially after the fiasco that happened to them last year.
LAST WORD: Good storyline RAW with a few good matches, but a handful of bac matches, too. Therefore, the grade of a [ B ] is awarded. I'm completely digging the Batista storyline, while heavily anticipating what Wrestlemania 21 could provide for us wrestling fans. Can't wait! RAW is looking good next week and it will be interesting to see how a silent Japanese crowd (they watch matches without cheering as much) will effect the WWE product.
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