Welcome to the RAW edition of the Wrath of Tito. I was going to write a column reviewing Smackdown on Friday, but my stupid UPN/WB combo decided to be out Thursday night. I would be reviewing No Way Out, but instead of watching the show where I normally watch Pay Per Views, I wanted to get back to snow before it snows again, which it did. My backwheel drive car can't take snowy or icy roads, and I don't feel like having a death grip on the wheel for 2 hours.
So I can't say a damn thing about either show. I can and will say something about RAW, which I will later on in this column. I actually had the "shell" of the Friday column written. What I mean by shell is the introduction and conclusion of the columns. I usually write those before the show happens, and fill in the television show review after that. I had a pretty good rant on ratings and RAW that I would have posted, but the argument seems obsolete this week.
Paul Heyman was removed as the head writer for Smackdown and has been turned into a "consultant" for RAW and Smackdown. As a consultant, he'll watch both shows, review them, and present his ideas of what he liked and disliked to creative meetings. That's all he'll do. This was the job offered to Vince Russo when he about came back to the WWE last year, but even Russo saw it as a "slap in the face" job and jumped over to NWA-TNA for a better creative role. This IS a demotion. Heyman's ideas were conflicting with Kevin Dunn, Stephanie McMahon, and Vince McMahon, the 3 most powerful "bookers" in the WWE today. Heyman's booking style seems to want more match time to tell the stories, while Dunn/Stephanie love backstage skits and promos, and Vince McMahon loves his big wrestlers. When you have all 3 styles conflicting, something had to give.
Now, I keep hearing the argument that Heyman had Benoit, Edge, Mysterio, Angle, Team Angle, Brock Lesnar, and the Guerreros to play with when booking. OK, but I'd like to argue that it takes someone wanting to put them together in matches instead of each other. The new Smackdown tag team division put all of these guys together and produced last year's best matches. Under Heyman's direction, Brock Lesnar was able to grow, whereas he was getting held back on RAW from expanding. It's one thing to have all of that great talent, it's another to use them properly. Heyman knew that the Smackdown product would thrive based on great matches between the guys. But what he couldn't control was who Vince wanted in the main event (Big Show, Undertaker, and Albert/A-Train), or any goofy idea that Stephanie and her soap opera writers would come up with (Al Wilson storyline, although it was highly rated), etc.
I think Smackdown is in some deep, deep trouble. With Heyman, he's hard to manipulate, unlike longtime agent Bruce Pritchard, who has years of chapped lips from the ass kissing he's done as a Vince good ol' boy. So much for having one good wrestling show to look foward to. I can't wait until Albert finally gets the push that Vince wants him to have. Whoopie!
Edge has the same neck injury that Scotty 2 Hotty, Lita, Chris Benoit, and Steve Austin. That sucks. Edge wasn't meaning much in the WWE these days, especially since he's being totally blamed for Albert's "main event push" sucking. Best of luck to Edge, and I hope he comes back to a more understanding and appreciative WWE next year.
No updates on the books. I'm getting thrashed on schoolwork right now, especially with a big test coming up next week. If there was a way I could make money from column writing or reviewing wrestling books or other multimedia, believe me, I'd do it in a heartbeat over schoolwork.
By the way, check out NewGrounds.com whenever you can. The Video Game Parodies section is freakin' hilarious. The one on the Behind the Scenes with Zelda had me in tears.
I can't wait to be at Smackdown on March 11th!!!
I find it very funny that many wrestling fans are gearing up for Def Jam Wrestling instead of any upcoming WWE wrestling game. Why? Because the same gaming engine, or the equivalent of it, of the N64 WCW and WWE THQ games will be featured in it. Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, and No Mercy were really big titles for the N64, and the gaming engine for those games are very hard to beat. The grappling can't be beat, and the control is sooooo easy to master that it makes you want to play it over and over again. The recent THQ games have gone on with its own engine, and aside from the graphics and storyline modes, I've heard that the fighting engine is hard to master. I've played the first 2 Smackdowns along with Wrestlemania 18 for the Game Cube, and I wasn't satisfied with the control. Wrestlemania 2000 still holds some staying power in my books, while it's No Mercy for many others. Def Jam Wrestling doesn't even have real wrestlers in it, yet everyone wants it because of the easy control it will have. Does that make sense, WWE?
A couple of non-wrestling things I want to BS about. The Grammy awards were, once again, a joke. It's lovely having a bunch of old farts, who grew up listening to folk music in the 1970's, giving awards out to today's music. All you need to do in 2003 for the Grammy's is to have a big hit with the adult contemporary crowd, like Steely Dan did last year, and BOOM, you win "album of the year". I'm not the biggest fan of this guy, but Eminem has been snubbed of that award for 2 years straight. I didn't care for the final episode of OZ last night. Several storylines that the show had didn't have any conclusions, some of the conclusions were stupid, and the finish with Keller prompting bio-terrorism in Oz. I did like the deaths of Schillinger and Keller, and I was sad to see that Alvarez was denied a parole hearing, despite recent good behavior. So long to a show that "jumped the shark" when Jazz Hoyt and other characters began seeing visions of the Luke Perry priest character. It was good while it lasted. How about Kobe Bryant lately? Talk about putting a team on your shoulders. Imagine what we'll be saying about Kobe in 10 years when he'll only be 34 years of age! Finally, if you can, download Johnny Cash's cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt". That's an incredible cover if I've ever heard it.
On to the RAW review!
Star Trek 2, the Wrath of Kahn, is on TNN tomorrow night at 9 pm. Go out of your way and watch that movie, yo.
Stacker 2 is hyping that it's Ephedra free in their commercials. That's bullshit. Any diet pill is going to mess you up when you're taking around 8 pills AT A TIME, several doses of that per day. Add that to intense athletic work outs on a daily basis, and you won't last long. Go ahead, take 8 pills of Stacker 2, maybe around 2-3 times a day, and see how long you'll last.
We get a crowd killer in Jazz vs. Jackie. I don't want to see either lady in the ring right now. Actually, Jazz could use a manager, as Teddy Long might be perfect for her. Of course, Jazz's husband, Rodney Mack, is being currently managed by Long. Terrible mat wrestling here, and Jazz beats Jackie with a weak looking STF. Jazz's new music sucks worse than her previous 2. Jazz trying to say "the bitch is back" only proves why a manager would be good. Trish Stratus runs down to attack Jazz, looking hot as ever. Referees try to break it up, yadda yadda yadda. The Women's division is in long need of retirement.
Wow, despite being a douche, Test is still getting his Girls Gone Wild spot. Test ripped on Stacy's managerial ideas, and then Stacy interrupts, yells at Test for having fun at GGW. Morley then walks in and books Stacy/Test vs. Jericho/Christian, hopefully squashing that duo for good. Take THAT for not staying in Columbus for RAW.
Jim Ross interviewed Goldust, ala 1996 RAW style interview. Oh lord, the WWE is pushing for the twitching Goldust. The media no longer cares about the WWE to cause an uproar over behavior like this. Just wrestle, for the love of God.
Kane/Rob Van Dam come out, as Kane gets a match with Lance Storm. I hope Kane and RVD enjoy being the Goldust/Booker T of 2003, where they'll be good and entertaining wrestlers stuck in a meaningless tag team. This match is dry from the start. Nice double chokeslam by Kane, and that wins the match. I don't know what it is, but Lance Storm matches just don't have the energy in them like they used to.
Orton/Batista are backstage. Why is everyone getting stupid looking arm tattoos these days?
Booker T/Scott Steiner vs. Randy Orton/Batista is next. Booker has some mean chops tonight. The trick of this match is to limit Steiner's use. By the way, Orton looks to be in great shape from when we last saw him wrestle. A general pattern keeps happening: crowds are silent when Batista is in the ring wrestling. The match didn't offer wrestling anything new, and Booker T/Steiner won the match. Big deal. It was against 2 wrestlers who aren't established yet in the WWE. It's only a matter of time before Booker becomes Triple H's bitch, and then forever be burned in the WWE, as if he wasn't from the day he stepped into the WWE.
Next bout is Test/Stacy versus Christian/Jericho. Stacy looks more prettier in the face lately. Someone said she had her nose done, but I don't know? Jericho took out Stacy, GET THE PARAMEDICS! We have 3 Canadians in this match... The bout ended early with a lame disqualification, when Jericho whacked Test with a chair. The horrible wrestling on this show continues... Gotta love how the WWE continually resorts to domestic violence on women to put over feuds. Many "You Screwed Bret" chants were noised out with crowd cheers when HBK ran down.
Vince Carter is seen at the front row. That starting all-star wishes he was good enough to take his team anywhere.
Chris Nowinski comes down and tries to talk to Jeff Hardy. However, Nowinski has a bad mic at first. Nowinski is finally able to be heard, and Jeff Hardy whips out Steve Corino's version of the twist of fate and beats Nowinski immediately. Jeff Hardy, however, attacked Nowinski and the decision was reversed. Wow, that was the first time that was ever called in a long time. No new storylines can pump up Jeff Hardy's desire to perform here in 2003.
Seeds of the Austin/Rock feud have been planted for Wrestlemania... Funny stuff with the Rock singing backstage. The Hurricane interrupts, and calls the Hurricane the "Hamburgler". Oh my, this was a great confrontation! One of the few good laughs or smiles I've had regarding RAW in a long time.
Next up is Jerry Lawler vs. Sean Morley in a NO DQ match. Eh match, and the finish had the Dudley Boyz running in and helping Jerry Lawler win. We have yet to see a good match on this show, which is commonplace on RAW lately, so let's hope the battle royal saves the day and the grade.
The Battle Royal is next. Long entrances stall the beginning, and we go to commercial. They should have planned their commercials better to make the battle royal longer. The match starts with everybody chasing the Rock. Test was eliminated, and Jericho jumped over the top quickly to runaway from Test. Yay. Jericho and Test feud is still on, and Test remains unpunished for screwing around with travel plans. Jamal took a nasty bump off the ring and onto the ring barrier when RVD kicked him. Wow... Scott Steiner and the Rock wrestling in the corner. Never thought you'd see those two in the same ring. Booker Tommy Dreamer was eliminated early. If Triple H was in this, he'd win it or last until the end. Rock joins Ross and Lawler for commentary, and it has me laughing. The Rock as a heel rules. Much better than Triple H, any day of the week. Your final four is Rock, Booker T, Kane, and Christian. Rock eliminated Kane and Christian at the same time, and now it's Booker T vs. the Rock for the #1 Contendership of the World Title. Wow, it's amazing at how much energy the Rock adds to matches compared with anybody on the WWE roster. Out of no where, Booker T eliminates the Rock! Booker T is on a roll, but he'll soon be squashed by Triple H.
LAST WORD: The Rock is the man! His presence was a definite breath of fresh air that RAW surely (don't call me Shirley) needed. He's a MUCH BETTER main event heel than Triple H could ever imagine to be here in 2003. Any Rock segment, tonight was great. However, the rest of the show was a piece of crap. Usual bad wrestling, with heatless wrestlers or terrible wrestlers stinking up the in-ring product once again. The Rock, along with the absence of Triple H, made this show get a generous [ B- ] (B Minus), as I praise the Rock as a heel for giving me something to watch on RAW now. I'll look foward to tuning into RAW if Rock remains on the show and continues his status as a heel. Rock is da man! We'll go 3-5 for good shows/bad shows this year, but again, it's generous because the Rock curves the grading scale.
Check out the Valley Wrestling Federation and Willygoat Xtreme Wrestling. Two great backyard feds!
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Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.