Welcome to the RETURNING edition of the Wrath of Tito. My apologies for the lack of column last week, for I just couldn't produce anything. I only had a one hour window on Wednesday morning, and I just had nothing to write. Writer's block? Maybe, or just didn't have it that week. After a week off, though, I feel energized and I'm ready to go for today.
-I actually did catch the Vengeance Pay Per View on Sunday. I just didn't have the time to write up a Monday column, for I decided to go to sleep on Sunday night rather than spend 1 or 2 hours typing a column before going to work early the next morning. Overall, I thought the show was somewhat dry. The crowd was dead for most of the night, only cheering when you could see the finishes coming. Triple H vs. Chris Benoit could have been much better if Triple H knew he was winning it. You can tell, before a match, if Triple H is either going to win the match or beatdown his opponent afterward by his facial expression. I knew Benoit was going to win it by the instant the camera panned on HHH's face. Same thing with Randy Orton, who lost to Edge in a pitiful match. The look on Orton's face made the surprise of Edge winning the IC title not happen, at least for me.
Get the Coach out of the ring! He has no business wrestling on a Pay Per View. The opener wasn't bad with Cade against Tajiri or Rhyno, but it's the same thing with Shane McMahon. They are NOT wrestlers, nor do they look like wrestlers (although Coach works out, clearly). Chris Jericho vs. Batista was decent, as I'll say it again: Batist is getting better. He looks like he's trimmed off a few pounds to make himself faster, too. I liked the finish, with Batista pulling Jericho's leg off the ropes before the referee could see it. That's still somewhat of a clean win and good for Batista. La Resistance vs. Flair/Eugene was a good comic relief match. Flair chopped and punched the hell out of Conway and Grenier, and Eugene's portrayal of Flair was pretty funny. I don't like the WWE making a wrestler act mentally handicapped, but Nick Dinsmore plays the Eugene character so well.
The next match was Kane vs. Matt Hardy. I'm shocked that Matt Hardy was even on a Pay Per View. I'm shocked that the WWE let Matt Hardy win a match! I'm shocked that the WWE let Matt Hardy pin a former world champion. I'm shocked that the WWE let Matt Hardy win on a Pay Per View!! The match would have been fine on television, but it just seemed messy on Pay Per View. Lita had some interference, and after the match, Matt told her not to risk losing her pregnancy. Oh shit on me, this is really going to last all 9 months? Edge vs. Randy Orton was a borefest, given that Orton wasn't into the match (because he was going to lose) and from Orton being overrated as a performer, and how Edge just hasn't caught the attention of the fans since his return. The crowd was very silent for Edge throughout the whole match, with the exception of the well planned ending. I believe I heard some positive Orton chants?
I surprisingly liked the Women's #1 Contender match with Molly Holly vs. Victoria. Didn't Nidia win the #1 contendership a while ago or am I on crack? As Rick James would say, "cocaine's a hell of a drug". Anyway, Molly and Victoria wrestled well and some good maneuvers were pulled off. I am, however, starting to miss the psycho version of Victoria, but she's probably the best looking women's wrestler right now (yes, I prefer her over Trish), so whatever. The main event was Triple H vs. Chris Benoit. It was pure joy seeing Benoit chopping HHH's manboobs many, many times. Benoit gave effort for the match, while HHH was giving less of an effort because he probably didn't like the outcome. I didn't like the outcome (outside of Benoit retaining the title), as it seemed way overbooked with Eugene. He was out there forever trying to either help or hurt one of the wrestlers. Although, it was kind of cool to see him get ready to swing the chair and the crowd would cheer for hitting HHH but boo hitting Benoit.
Overall, a sluggish show for the WWE. Nothing stole the show in the midcard and the main event could have been better. You just know that a possible Match of the Year candidate will show up at Summerslam when Triple H knows he's going to win back the World Title. And now that Orton is no longer IC champion, you know exactly what's coming up next... can you say the fantasized HHH vs. Orton feud, a sick wet dream of Triple H's. Lord help us. I'll give the show a [ C ]. Could have been a whole lot better.
-Lots of heat going towards Ric Flair for his comments in his recent book. Since when should someone not be honest in a book? What made Foley's book and even Goldberg's book readable was how honest the wrestlers were about their fellow wrestlers. Bret Hart oddly seems angered with Flair's mentions of Randy Savage and Mick Foley. Foley had it coming... Foley completely bashed Ric Flair's 1994 booking and dedicated several pages to that, despite other bookers in WCW doing MUCH worse in the treatment of Foley. Besides, how marketable was Cactus Jack back then? I have no idea what Flair has to say about Savage, given that they had two very awesome feuds; one in the WWF and another extensive one in WCW. Hopefully, I'll get the book sometime soon.
As for wrestling books... I've read every WWE book with the exception of Jerry Lawler, Lita, and Freddie Blassie. I've read several chapters out of Blassie and Lawler's book. With Blassie, I got into it, but something with schoolwork came up and I've never returned to it. With Lawler... I'd rather watch paint dry than to continue with that book, although I might just start skipping chapters and head into his stuff with Andy Kauffman. Now that's an idea! I don't even own Lita's book, nor do I plan on ever reading it. I know enough about Lita through the Hardy book and other sources... that's all I'm going to say!
-What is with recent reports of Kurt Angle getting backstage heat? Many are suggesting that he's faking his recent neck injury, despite having 2 neck surgeries to back up any problems with his neck. Why would Kurt Angle fake an injury? That makes absolutely no sense to me, given that Kurt Angle is an athlete and he loves the challenge of putting on great performances. I don't see why he'd fake injury just to take a few months off. He's better than that. I know exactly what's happening. The Smackdown roster wrestlers are feeling the crunch of poorly sold houseshows and pathetic buyrates for their shows. They feel that when Kurt Angle is on the card, maybe an extra 1,000-2,000 fans will come to the shows or so, and a lot of contracts have incentives for the attendance of WWE shows. I'm assuming Angle has a nice downside guarantee, so the wrestlers probably feel his sitting out won't hurt his finances.
Why don't the wrestlers of the Smackdown roster put blame in the proper place? Why don't they blame Triple H for playing politics backstage and not wanting to go to Smackdown during the draft to change up the rosters after Wrestlemania (although I prefer HHH on RAW)? Why don't the wrestlers yell at Brock Lesnar for leaving? How about blaming the poor writing on the show by the McMahons and the creative staff? Like blaming Eddie Guerrero as the World Champion for Smackdown's problems, Kurt Angle is being made into a scapegoat. Blame him as the General Manager, for Angle DOES NOT write the material he says or the storylines he's involved with. Even Bradshaw is becoming a scapegoat. The blame must be put into the decision makers of the WWE, the McMahons and the creative staff yes-men. I mean seriously, Smackdown is the same roster that though the Mordecai gimmick would work!
-To say that NWA-TNA Impact is beating WWE Velocity in the ratings is a big thing would be ridiculous. Seriously, WWE Velocity is a complete throwaway show, with nothing but recycled segments, highlights, and VERY bad matches on the WWE's part. NWA-TNA Impact is TNA's best material possible and the fans of that product will always watch that show. WWE fans don't even watch Velocity because they know better. NWA-TNA's success will be measured in getting a prime time slot. Until they achieve that, they cannot toot their horn and say that they are beating a second-rate WWE show.
-Good to see that the WWE is returning to Germany, with the RAW roster making one stop in October. Yes, it's not the Smackdown roster, but still... it's the WWE trying to show good will towards Germany, despite the bad impromptu decision made by Bradshaw. Before that show, though, the WWE should have Bradshaw either make a written or taped apology to the German fans. That way, it would avoid picketers or any form of protests among the German fans (if there would be any, I don't know?). A longtime reader of mine, Iceblast, showed me an animated .GIF of Bradshaw's actions (I will not send you the image or show you the link, if asked). He didn't just do the Nazi salute, but the Nazi march as well while doing the salute. I could clearly see some fans standing up with anger. An apology is needed for the German people and that's all I'm ever going to ask on this situation. It's just a bad mistake by Bradshaw and I'm not willing to hold it against him. That's it.
-Nice to see the WWE taking a chance with Kidman and London becoming tag team champions. The show lacks tag teams who can pull off flashy tag team moves. The Dudleys have been wrestling the same old way since they arrived in the WWE and they are unfortunately stale. Smackdown's essence of 2002 was the great tag team wrestling, and it would be nice to see the WWE returning to that. Of course, that would take away from the usual crap that the Smackdown shows have to offer, and heaven forbid that we do that such thing.
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On to the RAW review. By the way, I'll note that there was WAY too much good stuff on television last night (Homerun derby, RAW, I Love the 90's, and more!).
Decent opener with Edge vs. Batista. Edge basically fought for his life against Batista, and even had to somewhat cheat for the win. That's better, for Batista did defeat Chris Jericho the night before. Don't want to shoot down Batista this early. Good bout overall, although Edge was losing crowd cheers once again. This problem is only going to worsen unless something is done to enhance Edge or maybe a character change is necessary? Who knows? But what I do know is that Edge hasn't been well responded by the fans ever since he returned to the WWE from neck surgery. I feel bad for him, too, because he was a favorite of mine before his injury.
Backstage, Eric Bischoff gave Eugene a title shot against Chris Benoit when Eugene came to see Uncle Eric. That had heel beatdown written all over it!
UGH, the stuff with Jerry Lawler interviewing the Diva contestants was torture, albeit seeing hot chicks outside of the many that the WWE currently has was nice. Let's pray for poor ratings on Spike TV on Thursday night. I advise EVERY WWE fan reading this to BOYCOTT THAT SHOW! Good ratings for that show will only lead to more of this bullshit reality contests to be held on our wrestling shows. DO NOT WATCH!
Awesome backstage segment with Ric Flair and the Hurricane. The interviewer upset Ric Flair to start by asking him about Eugene and then the Hurricane flew in, asking for Flair to autograph his book. Flair turned him down, citing that acting like a superhero has made Gregory Helms a joke. Actually, the bad booking of the WWE has made Helms look bad, but that's getting off the subject! Hurricane said he didn't want the autograph now, given that books like Rock's, Hogan's, and Foley's actually made the best seller lists. Wow, I didn't figure that would be on a WWE show, which basically admits that Flair's book isn't selling well. That prompted Flair to attack and challenge Helms for a match later.
Next match was Rhyno vs. Rob Conway somewhat of a short match, as I assume Rhyno/Tajiri are getting the next title shot IF NOT the World Titles next. Rhyno's finish, the GORE is so over and many other wrestlers wish they had that attention for their finisher. Rhyno needs to personally thank Paul Heyman for the few months Heyman was around as an announcer (the WWE needs Heyman back as an announcer on RAW and dump Jerry Lawler, again). Rhyno won... next!
Tyson Tomko beat Maven. Very sloppy match with two guys who are equally green in the ring. But hey, let's teach them how to wrestle on live television. That's makes so much sense! Tomko won, big whoop, and afterward, Nidia and Trish showed distaste for each other. Oh joy, I can't wait for the many mixed tag matches I get to endure now. Seeing Tomko wrestle makes me miss Christian, and that's scaring me.
Good to see Benoit consistent. Backstage, Regal approached Benoit about his match with Eugene. Benoit stated that despite his like for Eugene, Eugene is still going after Benoit's title and nothing will stop Benoit from retaining it. Well said.
Next, we had the Highlight Reel starring Chris Jericho, with guests Kane and Lita. Lita, with her fantastic acting skills (sarcasm), stood up to Kane about the baby and defended Matt Hardy. Kane would go bonkers and destroy the Highlight Reel set and run away to the back. That would prompt Jericho to challenge Kane to a match. Not much of a match, as Jericho seemed to control most of the match but Kane was disqualified for a low blow. Oh please! Kane, to show how evil he still is, attacked Jericho and the referee afterward. Kane's character has been going completely downhill ever since Katie Vick debacle.
Next bout was Ric Flair vs. Hurricane. Decent match, but Hurricane really had no chance of winning. Hurricane lost by submitting cleanly to the Figure 4. At least Flair gave him a better bout than anybody else has recently, in addition to a nicely heated interview segment. Only the Rock and Flair have given Helms his due.
The main event was Eugene vs. Chris Benoit. Pretty solid bout until the finish, given that Eugene is a talented performer and he's going up against Chris Benoit. Funny thing about Eugene is that he's allowed to use the oldschool wrestling ability taught to him by Jim Cornette at Ohio Valley Wrestling, whereas the rest of the WWE prospects are told to ditch it at the door when getting called up. The end saw Eugene thinking he won the title after the Rock Bottom, but Benoit's foot was on the ropes and the referee stopped at a 2 count to prove Eugene didn't win. That prompted Evolution to come down to the ring and unleash a beatdown. William Regal tried to help out but was destroyed... HHH pedigree'd Benoit, for I'd be a rich man for if I was paid a dollar for everytime HHH gave Benoit the Pedigree on RAW. Evolution destoyed Eugene, hitting finisher after finisher, leaving Eugene a bloody pulp. END OF SHOW.
LAST WORD: Better wrestling overall on this show, but the midcard has holes, the Kane/Lita storyline is still bad, and the Diva Search drags things down a bit. I'll give this show a [ B ] overall, but I'll cite that many guys are being used and many shouldn't even be on television right now.
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