School's out... for summer! Well, not exactly, but at least the daily grind of going to classes and studying is. I finished up the Spring quarter on Wednesday and I've moved back home. I'm not quite free this summer, though, as I have to write my Master's Thesis while working part-time to save up for the Fall quarter, which will be the last quarter before I get my Master's Degree in Applied Economics. It shall be great.
And with economics in mind, I love it when the WWE releases their Quarterly results. I especially love it when Linda McMahon does her conference call and gives everyone bullshit excuses for why numbers were down or she'll give the lamest positives. The main positive I see for the 4th Quarter results is the operating costs seem to be lower this year than last year. Yeah, firing all of those employees in the office, closing down the World theme restaurant, and keeping production costs down will do it to you. Imagine what the overall costs would be if they weren't signing all of these WCW busts. Excuse me, WCW wrestlers who should be good but WWE makes them busts. My bad. But the WWE is clearly losing revenue, as their net revenues were $105.9 million, which is still positive net revenue coming in, but this is a good $25.7 million below the prior year's quarter. I don't know about you, but $25.7 million isn't chump change, even to a multi-million dollar wrestling promotion.
HOWEVER, the WWE actually took a hit in this quarter, as they are in a loss of $4.1 million, given taxes and the BIG hit the WWE is taking for closing down The World! Closing down the Time Square restaurant is destroying the WWE. You might as well kept the poor serviced restaurant open at this rate.
Live revenues were down during this quarter, and that's with ticket prices actually being lowered to maybe get more fans to attend events. It could be $5 for all a fan would care, and they still might not go if the product doesn't interest them. The WWE must create a demand for their product if they are going to get fans to fill up arenas again. Pay Per View revenues were down, which is your Wrestlemania effect, given that the show didn't receive a major amount of buys to carry the quarter. I don't believe Backlash did very well on the buyrates, either, but the WWE keeps a tight lid on buyrates for the last 2 years, showing that they don't exactly show everything in public. Merchandise sales were down... I could go on.
The WWE could blame everything and anything on the profit declines, but the fact remains that it's THEIR fault for scaring away their fans after months upon months of terribly booked shows. The simple ignorant fact that the WWE does not blame creative, i.e. Stephanie McMahon and Vince McMahon as the leaders, shows you that they are blind to the WWE's profits and it could ultimately wreck the federation in the long run. Keep it up, WWE, because if you keep losing revenues and your ratings keep declining, Viacom might just say "Fuck You" and throw your asses out the door for a product that no longer has the fans' interest.
And while we're on the creative end of things, I've noticed that RAW is actually the better show creatively than Smackdown. Smackdown has really sucked lately on the creative part of things, such as depushing a lot of it's popular wrestlers of 2002 and shoving guys down our throats, such as Big Show, Albert, Billy Gunn now, and even Hulk freakin' Hogan. No nearly 50 or 50 year old man should get that much airtime on a show that's witnessed by mostly teenage males on UPN.
If anyone wants to start a LAME internet petition, I suggest you start one to get Paul Heyman back as the head writer for Smackdown.
By the way, besides this column, I HAVE updated my archives, including adding the "Wrestling's FACT or FICTION" columns. CLICK HERE for nearly every column ever written by Mr. Tito.
We start off the show with last week's MAIN EVENT of Matt Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio. That's right, they smaller guys are put back in their place. Although the match was short, it was pretty good and action paced. Rey won again, leading me to believe that this feud is over and it could hopefully put Matt Hardy back into the Heavyweight division. He is, BY FAR, the must underutilized wrestler in the WWE. Yeah, Benoit has it bad, but at least he's not thrown into a division (which the WWE doesn't care about) where he doesn't fit or look like he belongs. It's a shame you have hoss-loving idiots like Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Johnny Ace backstage holding Hardy down while pushing Big Show/Albert as heels instead.
Piper's Pit was next. Goofy segment, and I'm clueless to what is going on since I missed most of Smackdown last week. It does look to me that Sean O'Haire and Roddy Piper will be the newest tag team to challenge Tajiri/Guerrero. Ugh. What the WWE should do is bring in Mark Jindrak and make Jindrak and O'Haire again, and let them ACTUALLY USE THE FUCKING TOP ROPE!!!!!!!!!! Ahem. Then, you could let Roddy Piper manage them, and you're set. You have credibility in Piper as a manager, and you also have credibility since Jindrak/O'Haire were former WCW champions (2 time champs). But hey, I don't know what I'm talking about, and the WWE still has no idea on how to bring in Jindrak, nor do they know what they are doing with Sean O'Haire.
Great idea about the United States Title coming to Smackdown, at least if RAW now has the IC title. I have a bad feeling, though, that the title won't go to Ohio Valley Wrestling guys, but to douches like...
Billy Gunn returned and beat A-Train in under 2 minutes. So insulting in many ways. It's funny how the WWE made sure Billy Gunn got a big pop on his return by bringing out Torrie Wilson as the "special ring announcer" to make sure Billy Gunn comes back as a "straight man". They also brought back the Mr. Ass gimmick, showing at least the WWE has some balls in this day and age against UPN, whom they changed Billy's gimmick to the "One" for back a few years ago. The pop might sound loud for his return, but people will see through this bad worker and get bored or annoyed when he starts going over the Benoits or Guerreros of the world. Sure, I appreciate the fact that Billy Gunn has been in the WWE for almost 10 years. I'm happy for him. But what positives has he brought to the WWE? The only time you could say he was over was with the New Age Outlaws, and that was with the Road Dogg's great mic skills carrying the load while he just posed and said "suck it". How about all of those Main Event pushes? I direct you to his feud with the Rock, in which the Rock, for a rare time in his life, complained to management about how bad Billy was in the ring and thus refused to EVER work with Gunn again in a big program. Why did Steve Austin avoid working with him, at all costs, back in the day? And how many gimmicks has this guy been given? Smoking Gunns Billy Gunn, singles wrestler Billy Gunn, Smoking Gunns Billy Gunn again, Rock-a-Billy, Badass Billy Gunn/Mr. Ass, the EVIL singles heel Mr. Ass, the One Billy Gunn, Billy&Chuck Billy Gunn, and now the returning Mr. Ass. Add onto this the COUNTLESS singles push this guy has had that have failed, and you wonder why he's a 10 time tag team champion.
But the biggest insult and proof of what I'm talking about is how he can go over the A-Train in under 2 minutes, while everyone BUT Brock Lesnar has to job to Albert. That's bullshit, my friends, and a major insult to anybody who actually works hard at being a good wrestler, while Billy Gunn can just come in and beat Albert on his return match. God, the WWE is just getting so stupid lately, and RAW is starting to become the more enjoyable show, and that's a shame because Heyman Smackdown was so damn fun to watch, week after week.
Next match was Undertaker vs. Johnny Stamboli. This Undertaker vs. FBI feud is like pulling teeth. Honestly, after this feud is over, where will the FBI be? They'll be waste and the creative team won't have anything for them to do. The "rub" given by the Undertaker isn't here, because you have a man that can nearly destroy all 3 guys at once. Undertaker will move on to better things, while the FBI are left behind with their thumbs up their asses, wondering how their feud with the Undertaker has helped their careers. This match sucked.
And now, the biggest waste of time ever. The Mr. America vs. Vince McMahon arm wrestling match. Now come on, didn't anybody learn their lesson over the Triple H vs. Scott Steiner arm wrestling contest? Of course not, this is the WWE, where they don't learn from their mistakes. My only join from this was when Vince accidentally headbutted Zach during that arm wrestling contest, and thus busted his head open. HA, take that, stupid Vince. But I don't know why Vince insists to keep this Hogan vs. Vince feud going. It didn't generate that much interest for Wrestlemania 19, although he thinks it did since their pictures are all over the Wrestlemania 19 DVD while Angle/Lesnar or Rock/Austin are left out in the cold. But hey, let's keep shoving it down the fans' throats and keep losing revenues every quarter.
Next match was Chris Benoit/Rhyno vs. the Basham brothers. I'm not that impressed with the Bashams, but then again, why should I? The WWE just threw them out there as the Basham brothers without any proper introduction. Again, it's creative that can't get anybody over due to stupidity. Nothing much of a match, as Benoit/Rhyno didn't have much to work with, nor did they have time. And what the hell is with Linda Myles as a valet? Let's forget the ridiculous nickname they gave her, but she looked soooo out of place as their manager. I mean, it looks weird to have a 6 foot and insanely fit woman as a dominatrix. Did I mention that the WWE has a stupid creative team?
Backstage, Benoit and Rhyno argue. I sincerely hope that all of this Benoit losing leads to a big push, but I won't keep my hopes up as long as more attention will get paid to Billy Gunn or the Big Show.
Next match was John Cena vs. Funaki. John Cena cut a killer promo/rap at the beginning, and I laughed my ass off when Cena murdered Funaki with a clothesline after he did the robot. FUNNY SHITE! Short match. Cena has been kept down ever since his match with Brock failed, as it looks as though Cena is to blame for that match. In most cases, it takes 2 to tango, especially in that match, as Brock received no blame. Oh wait, he did, he has to feud with the Big Show. But my whole point is that it somewhat looks as though Cena will become your new United States champion, which isn't a bad thing, yo.
My lord and master, Kurt Angle comes out acting like a total face. HA! He won't last long as a face, as you can't deny that he's the BEST damn heel on television. Can't deny it! He calls out Team Angle, and Angle asks them where they were last week. Team Angle then asked where Angle was during their title loss during the Ladder Match, which is dirty, because Angle was still recovering from neck surgery. Team Angle now elects themselves as co-captains of Team Angle, but as founder of Team Angle, Kurt fires both tag team wrestlers. Good stuff. I really hope that they keep Benjamin and Haas as a tag team a little longer, because their tag team chemistry is unmatched in the WWE today now that the Guerreros aren't a team. I still forsee Angle turning heel and reuniting with Haas and Benjamin in the next month. I just see it!
Our final match was Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar... Why, in every Brock vs. Big Show match, must there be an open door for another rematch? Sure, the ring collapsing was cool looking, but it's a reminder that we must see these 2 wrestle ONE MORE TIME. I think the WWE loves this feud because Hoss Lesnar can pick up Hoss Big Show so easily, which is why we see it so much. Ugh. Benoit vs. Lesnar would be an incredible match, but nooooo, we can't try that. Benoit is under 6'5. Can't do it!
LAST WORD: I never thought I'd say that I look forward to RAW now more than Smackdown. Smackdown still has the better roster, but RAW has the better general managers and they know not to wrestle their shitty wrestlers often, such as Kevin Nash, who has barely seen any ring time since his return. I can't believe it, as I was considering just ditching RAW and watching Smackdown full time after Wrestlemania, but now, it has changed. The sabotaging of Smackdown by the WWE has been damaging to the future of the WWE, as Smackdown used to be a place for the younger wrestlers or new wrestlers to get an opportunity. Now, it has become the hellhole of terrible veterans that RAW once was and still is. So sad... this show was terrible, and gets a [ D+ ] (D plus) in my grade book. Most of the wrestlers who started in 1998 or 1999 aren't over here in 2003, but let's keep pushing them, along with Hulk Hogan, who is way past his nostalgia trip on fans.
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Take care, and thanks for reading!