Somewhat of a late column today, for a few things in my work schedule have changed. However, I'm here with another fabulous edition of the Wrath of Tito. Today, we'll discuss Monday Night RAW, the last one before Wrestlemania, as well as other things such as Smackdown and the latest wrestling news and notes. No NWA-TNA review, however. FOX Sports Pittsburgh pre-empted the entire show with college hockey and the West Virginia basketball press conference. Hey, I'm trying to watch it...
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The BIG NEWS OF THE WEEK is that Wrestlemania 21 is upon us. It's a special time of the year for wrestling fans, as it's the most purchased wrestling event by fans each year. It's a Superbowl for wrestling fans and the shows, for the most part, live up to the billing. This year is no different, even though overall WWE business is down for both brands. The card looks pretty good considering that the WWE is FINALLY going to give us a card full of good singles matches as opposed to clusterfucks of multi-team tag matches. Here's the current card:
-Batista vs. Triple H (c) for the RAW Heavyweight Title
-John Cena vs. John "Bradshaw" Layfield (c) for the Undisputed WWE title
-Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
-Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
-Christy Hemme vs. Trish Stratus (c) for the Women's Title
-Big Show vs. Akebono in a Sumo Match
-Chris Jericho vs. Edge vs. Christian vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Benoit for a future World Title shot in a Ladder Match
-Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero
-Steve Austin in Piper's Pit
-Hall of Fame showcase
I would NOT tamper with that card. The problem with Wrestlemania 20 is that it was a clusterfuck of matches, many of which were given to midcarders who didn't deserve to be in on the Wrestlemania payoff. Yeah, I said it. Wrestlemania, as I said before, is the Superbowl of Wrestling. Treat it as such and give these matches time to develop. If things go right and the correct amount of time is given towards each singles match, this show COULD rank high with the best Wrestlemanias of all time. However, if some of the matches are cut short (Mysterio vs. Eddie or HBK vs. Angle), the show could struggle.
My senses tell me that Mohammad Hussan will do something time consuming at Wrestlemania, while I wouldn't doubt that Smackdown will add one more match. In addition, who knows if the Rock will show up to a Wrestlemania that's in Los Angeles. I also doubt Hogan would be at Wrestlemania and just wave his hand when the WWE showcases the latest inductees.
My predictions are as follows... HHH retains over Batista... John Cena over JBL to become new champion... Shawn Michaels over Kurt Angle... Randy Orton over Undertaker... Trish Stratus over Christy Hemme... Big Show and Akebono go to a no-contest... Edge wins 6-Man Ladder Match... Eddie Guerrero turns heel (joins Chavo) and defeats Rey Mysterio... I figure that Rey vs. Eddie will be the hot opener while the show ends with HHH vs. Batista.
-What could be potential big news is if NWA-TNA signs on with Spike TV once the WWE deal expires in September. With Spike TV showing zero interest in resigning the WWE right now, NWA-TNA soon came into contact with Viacom about joining the network. It could be a cheaper alternative to the WWE. NWA-TNA doesn't have much negotiating ground right now and that means their programming could be purchased quite cheap. It would definitely draw good ratings because of the built-in wrestling audience that thinks "Spike TV at Monday night, 9 pm". The WWE got a sweet deal from Viacom in 2000 to move to TNN (now Spike TV) and Viacom has been quite disappointed with the advertisement rates that such a high rated show is drawing. In addition, RAW, despite its high male viewership, isn't translating into larger audiences for other Spike TV shows.
TNA, however, is a bargain for Spike TV. TNA has yet to earn a bad reputation with advertisers, like the WWE has, which could be to their advantage. In addition, Spike TV would get a bigger cut out of the Monday night ad profits than what they are currently receiving. While I would suggest that TNA is very inferior programming in comparison to the RAW brand RIGHT NOW, it's still a lot cheaper and could be quite profitable if TNA actually builds a large following.
Of course, if TNA gets the timeslot, we could experience Monday Night Wars all over again if the WWE lands on USA Networks, as many assume (but I disagree that they'll get that timeslot). Part of the reason why the WWE's success has sagged is because of a lack of competition (which creates less viewers to watch both shows), for one fed can't satisfy all wrestling fans' wants and desires from a promotion. Assuming WWE finds a network and TNA lands on Spike, I would suggest that TNA get their act together. Instead of trying to pump new life into old stars, create new ones. Looking at WWE in 1997-1998, new stars were either created or repackaged to boom an audience. The booking combination of Dusty Rhodes and Jeff Jarrett, however, are NOT taking this into consideration. Instead, we have tired storylines and tired match ups, while the midcard, filled with some solid talent, plays second fiddle to guys who drew fans 5-10 years ago.
Then again, Spike TV/Viacom meeting with NWA-TNA could be a bargaining ploy to make the WWE ask for a lowball offer to remain on Spike. The WWE NEEDS cable money to survive and would do anything to remain on cable, such as if USA Networks decides to not pick them up (as I'm predicting).
-Who the hell is Rochelle Loewen? I probably couldn't pick her out of Diva Search contestants if I tried. Amazing, for this is the SECOND Diva Search loser that has either outright quit the company or threatened to quit. Granted, the ribs backstage by the WWE wrestlers are quite cruel. They should never get a free pass for some of the stuff they've done over the years to newcomers. However, the ladies in the Diva Search didn't know how a wrestling company works. They were all in it for a free highway route to Playboy, simply put. On WWE shows, they are doing NOTHING noteworthy. On Smackdown, there are just ladies wondering around with no real role in the company. For RAW, what the fuck does Candice Michelle do? At least one of the Diva Search contestants performs interviews... These ladies add nothing to the product outside of selling calendars, DVD's, and magazine spreads. That's it.
My point is that they are being wasted. If you make them a valet for a wrestler, their name will become more well known than just hanging around in backstage segments or feuding with Dawn Marie. How did Sable or Rena Mero become known? She wasn't just a piece of ass backstage... She became Marc Mero's permanent valet and people ADORED her. That's my point. Nobody would have known Miss Elizabeth if she wasn't the valet for Macho Man Randy Savage! Give these ladies roles outside of fighting in stupid lingerie pillow fights or hanging out backstage. The more productive they are on WWE television, the more people will demand to see more of them... like on calendars, DVD's, and magazines. See my point? Don't be stupid, WWE, and continue to have a payroll of hot pieces of ass who do nothing to earn their money.
-I caught Christy Hemme on E!'s Howard Stern show last night... She seriously has ZERO personality. She just seemed to be high on caffeine and would blurt stuff with her not-so-sexy voice. In addition, she's as dumb as a rock, for she couldn't answer very easy questions to help a gentleman in a wheelchair win $10,000. She didn't know who John Kerry's running mate was. The presidential race ONLY dominated the news last year. It amazes me how people don't know who their vice presidents, governors, senators, etc. are. Secondly, it amazes me how many don't even know America's history. If you live in the United States of America, it's my opinion that you should know who your elected officials are and the history of your country. Hemme embarrassed herself heavily on Stern.
Hemme couldn't even pull off the schoolgirl uniform well. I don't know, the more I look at her (Playboy spread and with clothing), the more I see how somewhat ugly she can be. Her face is lacking and the heavy eye shadow makes her look quite bizarre at times. Her body looks good and do-able, but it's NOT Playboy material. Based on how tight her nipples look, I would suggest that she got bad implants. I don't mind a good arch in the back, but hers can be a bit over the top (like she has spinal curvature or something). Don't get me wrong, if I were single and THAT was in my bed naked, I'd probably hit it. But if you gave me the option of taking someone else in the Diva Contest or anyone ever featured in the pages of Playboy, I wouldn't think twice (except Chyna).
-Speaking of Chyna, Viacom finally didn't pre-empt Surreal Life 4 for once. They have pre-empted the show 4 times now (Superbowl, Academy Awards, RNR Hall of Fame, and Celebrity Fit Club), yet they choose to show a new show on a holiday? WHATEVER... Pretty funny show, as the finished product of the celeb's Kung Fu movie was rather hilarious. I have no idea why SL4 made Jane Weilden as a director of the film with absolute zero experience in Hollywood. Chyna actually has more Hollywood experience than the former Go-Go. While Chyna's role in the movie was funny, her trying to act proved to me why Hollywood isn't exactly knocking down Joanie Laurer's door for acting roles. Next week, it's DIRTY LAUNDRY time with Sally Jesse Raphael... that should be an excellent show!
-Speaking of Chyna again, Sean Waltman offered his side of the story regarding his Surreal Life 4 appearance, which you can read by clicking here.
That's his side of the story, so check it out if you want to hear it. Waltman can make all of the excuses in the world about the show on how it was edited, how the producers egged him on, or what Joanie was shouting at him. Doesn't matter. Waltman, no matter what Joanie said to him, was seen cursing heavily at her and cursing at the other cast members. Waltman should have NEVER agreed to show up at the house like he did. Ever hear of 1-800-Flowers? I'm sure many flourists in the California area will gladly deliver flowers. I'm sure Waltman's been on enough television shows to know that producers want conflict or to present someone as something they are not.
Regardless of what was edited or what Joanie said, Waltman was still cursing at her like a classless idiot. He's the same guy who said on Howard Stern that he's not someone you should be with, probably citing his own personal problems. I'm of the opinion that Waltman and Laurer are both problematic. Both require rehab and something to forever keep those two apart. It's hard for Waltman to hang around someone who abuses drugs like Chyna after rehabbing, just as it's hard for Chyna to hang around someone with a long drug history. Both have serious issues to deal with if they are ever going to make money appearing on television, whether it's wrestling or whatever else.
-Carlito Caribbean Cool is about to return to the ring. I'm telling you what, he's a personality that seriously grew on me over the months. I disliked him when he first entered the WWE, especially with the early push he was given. However, this arm injury has allowed him to step back and make improvements upon his character. He's one of the more intriguing characters to watch on Smackdown now and he has the character of Carlito down perfect. Now, it's just a matter of getting in the ring and proving you have some in-ring ability. Once that happens, Carlito is going to be a serious break-out star in the WWE. In fact, he'll be the antithesis of Mohammad Hussan... he's a character who gets over on character traits, not on cheap-heat forcefed lines. Carlito's personality, not scripted lines, will take him to the next level.
SMACKDOWN THOUGHTS: It's my opinion that the WWE needs to utilize Luther Reigns more... On Smackdown, he suggested that he should wrestle Akebono at Wrestlemania in a segment with the Big Show. He showed some intensity, but not quite the stuff he showed before wrestling the Undertaker. The WWE should make his character OUT OF HIS MIND CRAZY. Reigns tried to tip over a Jeep that was said to have weight 2 tons, but failed. Big Show, obviously, accomplished the feat. Scotty 2 Hotty was destroyed by JBL in a match that was supposed to be for Orlando Jordan. No glass ceiling in the WWE? I'm not saying Scotty is hot shit, by any means, but just destroying a midcarder like this is so counterproductive towards the future. Carlito as Elvis ruled the world...
I'm guessing that the WWE will turn Eddie Guerrero heel, based on Chavo calling him on and suggesting for him to challenge Rey Mysterio to a match. Why? I don't know, for Eddie is just as over as John Cena on the Smackdown roster. Eddie would be a better babyface to push than Cena, for Guerrero has the ability to back up the personality in the ring, unlike Cena. Funny stuff with Kurt Angle mocking HBK's theme music with Sensational Sherri. What's great about HBK is that he has kept his music over time, no matter how many people have suggested that it's dated. HBK then showed career highlights "via satellite". Afterward, Sherri appeared gitty at her former partner's career, which served her up to an Anklelock. Good to see Sherri again and in good health. Dawn Marie vs. Michelle McCool was such a waste of time and drew no reaction from the fans. Read what I said about the Diva Search contestants... And it's not like Dawn Marie has a useful role these days.
Yeah, that Rene Dupree will be something after not only getting smashed by the Big Show, but being the Undertaker's bitch as well. Yeah, Big Show and Undertaker are two of the largest wrestlers ever, but as I said before, it's counterproductive to your future OVW prospects to kill them like this. The debate between John Cena and John Bradshaw Layfield was stupid. Cena, at this point, seems too censored on UPN, which is probably why many suggest he's going to RAW after Wrestlemania. I disagree with that notion, for UPN has a more urban audience... The WWE seems to be taking it too easy when it comes to hyping Wrestlemania feuds this year.
LAST WORD: I liked the tag match with Haas/Holly vs. Mysterio/Eddie (Haas of Pain is a BADASS submission!) and liked the Kurt Angle stuff.. Otherwise, typical Smackdown. [ C ].
On to RAW!
Oh har har har, Batista called Eric Bischoff the "Gimp" from Pulp Fiction. Oh, he's soooooo funny. Those dumbfucks on the creative team certainly know what they are doing. Actually, they did through the Wrestlemania contract signing and then the suddenly became stupid once Batista was a full blown face. If Batista is an "Animal", then he should act like one. Saying stupid things backstage while showing respect for HHH & Flair, former Evolution members who scammed him, is seriously hurting Batista. While he's still over, he doesn't seem as over as he was when hinting the face turn.
Hey, I've NEVER seen an ARM WRESTLING match used to hype a Pay Per View. Stupid segment with Trish Stratus and Christy Hemme. Hemme did the contest in a freakin' dress for Christ's sake, while Stratus looked the part for the competition.
More non-wrestling with Randy Orton in the ring, trying to explain why he dropped Stacy. The Undertaker interrupts with his magic, once again, thereby continually putting egg on the WWE's collective face when they try to push realism in its product. Hey, the Undertaker used special effects back in the mid 1990's and did that draw fans? NO. Undertaker, however, did show highlights from his Wrestlemanias and the fact that he's undefeated should be pushed harder... not for the fact that the Undertaker might be able to set the ring on fire, shoot lightling from the ceiling, or control all electonics in an arena.
Next, we had a 3 way clusterfuck of a tag match between Tajiri/Regal vs. Maven/Simon Dean vs. La Restance. The announcers tried to hype this match as a special attraction because the match wasn't on Wrestlemania. So sad, for the RAW roster hasn't given a damn about the tag team division for quite some time now. Oh well, I'm happy that there isn't a tag title defended on Wrestlemania 21 because the tag division is quite depleted on both rosters. No need for filler matches on what should be the Superbowl of Wrestling. Tajiri and Regal retain in what was a short match for a 3 way and what was called a bonus match for being on free television. WHATEVER.
Shawn Michaels vs. Muhammad Hassan was decent at best. Hassan is clearly NOT up to scale on his wrestling ability to wrestle the lord and master of the ring, Shawn Michaels. Michaels can carry most wrestlers, but not green OVW guys (Hassan and Randy Orton, for instance). The match ended in DQ when Kurt Angle hit the ring. I wasn't expecting this, for I figured no crossover happenings would occur after the Orton/Taker contract signing. Hey, that means HBK will likely be on Smackdown and I'm all for that... Hassan, despite continuing the "never got pinned" streak via DQ, was pretty much shit on by getting hit by both HBK and Angle, namely the superkick at the end.
To end the show, we had a "face off" between Triple H and Batista... A debate on Smackdown and an arm wrestling match earlier in the night. Oh yeah, let's not forget 2 contract signings. The only innovative Wrestlemania hype we've seen is HBK vs. Kurt Angle while the rest of the feuds are recycling crap. Eventually, the face to face stuff ends and they try to fight. Security breaks them up. Oh, we haven't seen that before!
LAST WORD: Lousy RAW. Not just because it was more of a segment show than wrestling. The segments, themselves, were too predictable and/or repetitive. Maybe around 16+ years of being a wrestling fan will present a show like this as such, but when you have some innovation while the rest is recycled... The WWE was at least wise to create the feuds early instead of waiting until the last few weeks. However, it's created a situation where they could be extremely lazy down the stretch. I understand if it's resting the guys up for the big show, but you'd figure that you could think of something else besides arm wrestling or debates in the ring. This show gets a [ C- ].
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