Welcome to the column that always speaks volumes, the Wrath of Tito! Sorry for being late, as I was completely out of town yesterday. I probably did more driving yesterday than I have in a while. It was nice, too, for I went against the Weather Forecast that called for "freezing rain turning into snow". Well, I was on the road for about 5 hours yesterday, and I didn't see any freezing rain or snow. You know, weather forecasters are the only ones who can't be fired for being completely wrong at their workplace. It's a crime!

I finally caught the Royal Rumble. Shawn vs. Triple H wasn't bad... I wasn't too embarrassed by the ending, for the WWE wants to keep HBK strong while keeping the title on Triple H at Wrestlemania. But now comes the rumors of Wrestlemania 20 having a 3 way with HBK vs. Benoit vs. HHH for the World Title, and good money would suggest that HHH doesn't get pinned to lose his title. Why can't it be one on one? Ever since Wrestlemania 2000, the shows have become ways for everyone to get involved with the big payoff. Why can't HBK be paired off with someone else? He is a GREAT performer. HHH vs. Benoit will already be good, and the WWE should THINK to save Benoit vs. Michaels for the future (because those will churn out great matches, for sure). Then again, who would Michaels feud with? There are no secondary heels to HHH now on RAW, besides Evolution, who are tied up or Michaels has already fought them. That's when you need to turn somebody, and I've been saying this for WEEKS now. Turn Booker T heel and put him with Teddy Long. It would refresh his career (and he was a good heel during the Invasions) and give you that secondary main event heel you've been lacking since Jericho's slow face turn.

Oh, but Kane is the secondary heel? He's stuck in a feud with the Undertaker and that will last for months. Point being, you need someone who can perform well in the ring to be a second tier heel to Triple H. Yeah, the WWE is planning for Orton to be that guy, but he's also in a long program with Mick Foley. I'd also argue that Orton isn't that over as a heel, either, for his heat is generated from whom he's feuding with and not for his own personal attributes. Anybody can get boos when feuding with Foley! Turn Booker T heel. He's a former multiple world champion, wrestled for the World at Wrestlemania 19, and creative has him stuck wrestling feuds generated from TNN's Sunday Night Heat. Push him before it's too late! He'd be a much better guy for Teddy Long than Mark Henry. It's the damn truth.

For Randy Orton... Why do I think he's not ready or over yet to become a top heel or wrestler in the company? First of all, he has nothing unique. He's trying to punk out faces and speak like the Rock did during 1997. While he's not a bad speaker, he lacks the ability to show emotion, charisma, etc. behind anything he says. His wrestling ability is fundamentally sound, but it's not flashy and at times, he looks like a robot wrestling in that ring. He lacks an original finisher. Bubba Dudley used the Bubba Cutter as a regular move for years, and it was more widely known as DDP's Diamond Cutter. Get your own finisher! To me, the RKO reminds me of a recycling bin. And finally, ditch the "Legend Killer" gimmick. The Legends he attacks are nothing but hasbeens or nobody, in the fans' eyes, to give him credibility as being a nasty heel. He needs to prove himself against the current competitors of the WWE. He needs to bust out a great match, just as Triple H did at Royal Rumble 2000 against Mick Foley to catapult his career. He's still young and has a lot to learn. Why push him to the moon when he's not ready, just yet?

OK, I got off subject. I didn't really care much for the rest of the show, other than HBK vs. HHH (which wasn't their best effort, but it was watchable) and the Royal Rumble match itself. That was one of the best Rumbles ever, probably second to only Flair's victory in 1992. This is the second straight year of a great Royal Rumble for Chris Benoit. 2003 should have been Benoit's year. Instead, he was depushed to tagging up with Rhyno immediately and eventually had long feuds with the likes of Albert, until finally showing some promise at Survivor Series when he made Lesnar tap. This Rumble, overall, gets about a "B" grade. Lesnar should have wrestled someone other than Bob Holly.

That's odd that the WWE pushed Hardcore Holly. He's never been in a main event program, and this is a guy who has been with the WWE since 1993 or 1994. At least with Billy Gunn, they tried a billion times. But with Holly, they kept him at the IC title or tag titles at best. He was always a decent competitor, but the lack of charisma and robotic personality kept him from going anywhere. One day, he came out as HARDCORE HOLLY. Why was he HARDCORE? It was the WWE's move towards the need of an ECW-like wrestler, and many of Holly's matches involved using any kinds of junk as hardcore weapons, eventually creating the WWE Hardcore Wrestling Style that would litter WWE programming for years to come. I liked his Superheavyweights stuff, though, with Crash Holly, but that's great tag team stuff only. Given his inability to stand out, he's just someone who is perfect for working in midcard feuds. The WWE brought him back from a neck injury with an instant push, and in the end, people were cheering for Brock Lesnar to beat him.

Why are all of the dirtsheets saying "Lita was praised for working through some houseshows sick last weekend". So what? Big friggin' deal! Many wrestlers work with torn knee ligaments, post concussion syndrome, broken fingers, sprains (knee, wrist, or neck), etc. But since she has a cold or a flu, she's propped up like the Joan of Arc for working sick? Come on! I know it's hard to work when you're sick. I once played roller hockey with a 102 degree temperature, and I felt like complete crap doing so. It sucks and it sometimes takes extra effort from within to keep on playing, or in Lita's case, performing. At this rate, Kurt Angle will be given a big trophy for working through his BROKEN NECK injury, and the same goes for Lesnar and Triple H, who have wrestled with nagging injuries for several months now.

I saw a preview of the Rock's "Walking Tall" movie... It looks just like the Rundown to me. Maybe wrestling wasn't such a bad career, afterall? In Rock's defense, though, he needs to be given a role outside of these action type films where it's him fighting bad guys. He needs something in the science fiction genre, and a role in maybe Predator 3 would be pretty good for him. Then again, he needs to find a role created just for him and a role that defines (but not typecasts) you. Arnold received lots of work after Terminator. Stallone received lots of work after Rocky or even Rambo. Jean Claude Van Damme received lots of work after Kick Boxer, or better yet, Double Impact. Hell, Vin Diesel with Fast and the Furious. Do you see my point? The Rock needs something to trademark him and get his name majorly kicked around in Hollywood. Maybe Spyhunter is it?

Speaking of Jean Claude, I've been oddly buying up his movies lately since they are extremely cheap at either Circuit City or Walmart. Personally, I think his best movies are Kickboxer, Bloodsport, Double Impact, Timecop (my favorite), the Replicant, Sudden Death, Universal Soldier 1, and No Where to Run. Did you know that Van Damme was originally going to play the role of the alien in the Predator?

So long to Tammy Sytch, the wrestling valet who is mostly known for her role as "Sunny" on WWF television. She helped usher in the era of hiring extremely beautiful females in the WWE to sell calendars or to be featured in layouts on WWF magazines or the WWF website. If there wasn't Sunny, then the likes of Sable wouldn't be hired or presented the way she was. Yeah, Sytch HAD a drug problem. So what? Nobody's perfect. While I dislike any form of drug use, I admire anybody who can kick their habit or at least admit they had a problem. I defended Sytch when everyone was bashing her physical condition when she returned to ECW and later entered WCW. I thought she looked fine and for this time, she was actually healthy and free of drugs. Nobody ever gave her credit for that. I wish Ms. Sytch the best and I'd tell everyone else to eat static when it comes to their ignorant criticisms.

Brian Urlacher in TNA? So what? He's another person they are paying money to (such as many WCW legends, like Steiner, Sting, Luger, and guys like Hulk Hogan, in addition to bringing in NASCAR or Country music celebrities, and most recently, Johnny Fairplay from Survivor). Urlacher is probably more well know for his #54 jersey or who he was dating at one time (Paris Hilton) than his persona itself. Get real TNA. Create your own stars. Why is it so hard for you to realize, especially when you have created a few stars (AJ Styles, for instance)? Quit living off other people's celebrity or past careers and invent stuff for yourself.

On to the RAW review!

RAW is TITO

RAW's rating just came in at 3.7. While it's lower than last week's spiked Royal Rumble show, it's still not bad and at least it didn't dip to something like 3.5 or lower, which would have been very embarrassing.

RAW started off with the returning Highlight Reel, hosted by Chris Jericho. His guest was Chris Benoit, and they review what Ric Flair said to Benoit at the Rumble (that sets up Benoit vs. Flair for next week, I believe?). Ric Flair came out to argue, and before Benoit and Flair could wrestle that night, Eric Bischoff came out to make some matches. He'd ditch the #1 contendership match of Jericho/Christian and give them Tag Title shots anyway (great planning, WWE) and give Benoit a different opponent.

Write it down in the history books: Chris Benoit's first opponent towards his World Title push was Mark Henry. Oh come on!!!!! At least feed him Rob Conway or someone with ability. Mark Henry is a walking piece of crap. Gotta like the no-sells of the Benoit knife-edge chops! Henry gave nothing in return for this match, even botching the finishing spot with the Crippler Crossface. Not the way you want to start off Benoit's push, but the blame is fully set on the creative team for giving Benoit Henry off the get. The WWE seriously needs to turn someone GOOD into a heel. Hey, if you turn Booker T heel and feud him with Chris Benoit....

Backstage, Sheriff Austin told Shawn Michaels that if he wants another title shot, then he has to go get it. Joy, we are seeing early workings of adding Shawn Michaels to the HHH vs. Benoit match. Don't get me wrong, I think HHH vs. HBK vs. Benoit would be a fantastic 3 way. HOWEVER, it craps on Benoit's Royal Rumble win and the purpose of the Rumble itself. Also backstage, we saw Test and Foley arguing and fighting, only for Orton to lay in a cheapshot.

Next, it was Rene Dupree vs. Rico. I don't get this face push of Rico. For almost 2 years, the WWE made him lose multiple matches as a heel while overdoing his homosexual gimmick to make fans mad. Now, he's winning midcard matches as a face, but he still overdoes it with the make-up, clothing, etc.. Do you think continuing that will merit any new fan support? I will say that Jackie, though, has been a pretty good valet lately, other than the stupid Playboy duo thing they are trying to push with Stacy (and Stacy won't pose nude for Playboy, yet).

Funny stuff about Christian calling Trish Stratus a Yoko Ono. I don't know about you, but didn't Linda McCartney radically change Paul McCartney as much as Yoko did for John Lennon? After Paul married her, Linda got Paul into various causes (mainly with his $$$) and turned him into a vegetarian. I know this may sound mean, but do you often wonder why Paul quickly married after Linda died? People seriously bash John Lennon for his relationship to Yoko, but I'd argue Linda had just as much of a dogchain on her husband as Yoko did. There's some Instant Karma for you! I'll give the WWE some credit with using the 40th anniversary of the Beatles current events within their storylines, for Christian thinks it's breaking up his tag team.

Next match was Kane vs. Trish Stratus. That nasty Bischoff, going back on his word. Jericho tries to make the save, but gets his knee banged up in the process, and that would affect him in his later match.

Next match was Kane vs. Goldberg. Both struggle badly to work with each other. Kane is used to guys selling like death for his moves, and you just don't have that with Goldberg for every move. Sloppy, and then lightning strikes. When will the WWE learn? Using this supernatural stuff did NOT gain the WWE extra revenues during 1993-1995 and 1997-1999 with the Undertaker stuff, whether it was burning coffins, burying people alive, lightning striking, 2 Undertakers, sacraficing Mideon, crucifying wrestlers, etc. The 1997-1999 stuff SEEMED successful because you had Steve Austin tearing up the place and the Rock growing with him. When the surrounding card is successful, the Undertaker's stuff looks successful. The "Deadman" appears to be coming back, and nobody cares.

Next, it was Matt Hardy vs. Booker T. The WWE totally depushed Matt Hardy on his way in on the RAW roster (when the hell does he have to pay dues?) and Booker T's credibility as a face is completely shot (TURN BOOKER T HEEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). So what happens? These two put on a decent match, but nobody in the crowd cares. Seriously, too, what does Matt Hardy have to do in order to get respect by Vince McMahon and the rest of the creative team? Here's a guy who has been in the WWE for a while. He's put his body on the line from the dangerous TLC matches. He never complains about creative. He actually bulked up over the past year. This is total B.S. that guys like Bob Holly, Bradshaw, Billy Gunn, and any other 1998 or before WWE veterans are given their just due, and Hardy is always left behind. Jesus WWE, get over the fact that Jeff Hardy didn't pan out as the next Shawn Michaels. Maybe Matt Hardy could become what you wanted out of Jeff (I think so?).

*YAWN* at the Triple H talking. Man, he's become such a boring interview lately. He wrestled a squash match against Spike Dudley, which was a total waste of a minute, just like Triple H is a total waste of a world champion.

We had Flair/Batista vs. Christian/Jericho next. The match was OK, but short for being for the World Tag Titles. The show seemed to a bit off on timing tonight, but then again, RAW is off on a lot of things. As expected, Batista/Flair escape victory and this match will extend the Jericho/Christian/Trish storyline even longer. I wouldn't mind an extension if this wasn't so poorly written.

The main event was Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton, and HBK still is unable to pull out a strong match out of Orton. How many times have they wrestled now? The match ended with Foley's interference and Michaels getting the rolling pin victory. Using HHH's logic, beating Orton will warrant Michaels of a title shot at Wrestlemania. Har, har.

LAST WORD: Last week's show was pretty good storyline wise towards Wrestlemania 20, but this show took it back a step. Just nothing-special wrestling and the storylines just seemed to lack energy to get you pumped up for any one of the feuds. Maybe next week? [ C ] (C)

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@That's all for today. Thanks a million for reading.

Mr. Tito 1998 - 2003 LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com