Welcome back to the Wrath of Tito, the column that as usual, is a dish that is best served cold. Today, we'll discuss Monday Night RAW and the recent wrestling headlines. Lots of heat going on with a recent book released by the WWE and a legend...
-It looks as though Ric Flair's book has ruffled a lot of feathers. While I have yet to read the book (but plan on doing it in the near future), reports suggest that Flair gets somewhat nasty with Mick Foley, Randy Savage, and Bret Hart. With Mick Foley, I can understand. Foley ripped Flair for his booking skills in Mick's "Have a Nice Day" book during the year 1994, which was the year Foley ultimately left WCW (as if he wasn't held down before that, and Hogan coming into WCW in 1994 would have been an exit for Foley, too). Flair has every right in the world to respond to Foley through print, and I'm glad he did. I have heard that Flair's main criticism on Foley is his drawing ability and that he's nothing more than a glorified stuntman. I agree. Back then, Cactus Jack only thrilled audiences with the violent matches he could have and that's it. It was later, during great feuds with awesome heels in Vince McMahon, the Rock, and later, Triple H, that we ever saw Foley's true potential. Yes, he had some great matches with Sting, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. HOWEVER, Foley was never a draw on his own. He thrived with a supporting cast.
With Randy Savage, however, I don't know? I haven't heard the specifics of what Flair is bashing, and it baffles me that Flair would bash Savage, given their great feuds over Elizabeth during 1992 and 1995-1996. Those provided some great matches, and Flair's cockiness and Savages intensity/insanity provided for the atmosphere for a match where you were at the edge of your seat for the ending result. They worked well together. I don't know specifically why Flair would bash Savage in the first place, but I'll read about that later.
With Bret Hart, however.... I was absolutely shocked by the quick responce by the Hitman, and you can read it by CLICKING HERE. Bret Hart seriously rips into Flair's workrate, citing that he's hard to work with and only does moves or spots that make him look good. Hart also cited a night where Vince McMahon made Flair and Savage redo a match at a taping because of Flair. Ouch, using Vince as an example.
I like Flair and have always enjoyed Ric Flair. Do I agree with Bret Hart? Look, I've never been in a wrestling locker room, nor have I ever had a wrestling match with Ric Flair. What I see on my tapes and on the Flair DVD is wrestling I enjoy very much. I've seen Flair make Lex Luger and a still green Sting look pretty good. I mean seriously, LEX LUGER! Yes, working with Ricky Steamboat was great for Flair, but I haven't seen Steamboat have that good of a series of matches than he did with Ric Flair. In fact, guys like Terry Funk, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Vader, and even Randy Savage have had great series of matches with Ric Flair, while not having as good of matches with other so-called world class workers. I can see what Hart is talking about, given how Flair has a tendency to repeat the same spots. However, Flair has tons of charisma that Hart wish he had and Flair wrestled as a heel most of the time. To be a heel, you've got to be sneaky, dirty, and you must find any way you can to win. Flair was absolutely perfect for that role.
With Flair, all I need to point out that 1989 was the best year for a company in wrestling, ever, as far as well worked matches, storylines, and events. The NWA/WCW was churning out great match after great match, and for the majority of the year, the events were headlined by Ric Flair as champion in the main event. I'll also add that whenever WCW was in trouble (Starrcade 1990, Starrcade 1993), Ric Flair was there to save the day from very poor booking or someone attacking another wrestler with scissors (real quick: Starrcade 1993 was supposed to be headlined with Vader vs. Sid... however, one night, Sid and Arn got into a fight or an argument. So Sid came back to the fight with a pair of scissors, stabbing poor Arn a good bit. Goodbye Sid from WCW, and Flair took his place against Vader at Starrcade 1993 for a great match). Oh yeah, who helped Hulk Hogan get big quickly in WCW and put Hogan over in a series of Hogan's best matches ever in 1994. Nuff said.
As a fan, I enjoy Flair. I'm sure if I wrestled in the ring with Flair or put up with him backstage, I may have a different side to my story. I don't know?
-Speaking of Bret Hart, reports are suggesting that he's been meeting up with Vince McMahon again for a possible appearance or use of his WWE and now WCW footage. We hear about this news every year and it's nothing new. Both the WWE and Hart are both itching, though, at the way they could make some money with each other. It's a matter of Vince admitting he was wrong for Survivor Series 1997 (Click Here if you have no idea what happened to Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997.... I hate explaining it through emails), and it's a matter of Bret Hart returning in a respectful way. Because you don't know if Vince will want to screw Bret once again. What says that when Bret makes his return that his mic will get cut off and Vince will come out and rant on Hart? The McMahons, outside of a few wrestlers who respect Bret (like Benoit, especially), really has no strong ties to the Hart family. While I think Vince McMahon's skin over the Harts has become thinner over the years, especially with the Owen lawsuit out of the way, you never know. Vince might feel that the WWE needs a shot in the arm.
I would pony up for a well done Bret Hart DVD, by the way...
-Rikishi has been released... So long. I haven't exactly been a fan of Rikishi's for the past few years. I probably liked him until the WWE decided to ban all Piledriver-type moves. That included Rikishi's finisher, which had an allusion of a piledriver like move. Rikishi was also lighter and was more agile than what he'd later become. I believe that the extra weight added probably contributed to Rikishi getting injured often. The heel turn where he admitted to being the driver who hit Steve Austin at Survivor Series 1999 ultimately killed my interest for Rikishi (that storyline was so poorly done), in addition to becoming very repetitive (like dancing after every match). It's a shame, because his character was well done in 2000 and I always remember a good match he had with Triple H in 2000 on a Smackdown. Rikishi won some sort of draw where he won a title shot and he made the most out of that opportunity. Best of luck to Rikishi.
-I'm not getting where everything Eddie Guerrero does gets placed under a microscope. He gets injured, everyone doubts he's injured. Smackdown's ratings, buyrates, and attendance have all dropped, and it's all Eddie's fault. This sucks. Eddie doesn't choose his opponents, nor does he write the storylines given to him. Eddie has done the best of what he has been given, and it's not that much, let me tell you that. We'll see how much blame Eddie deserves when the WWE begins to push the Undertaker vs. Bradshaw storyline, the Vince McMahon wet dream feud.
-Vh1 has such a mess with the "I Love the 90's shows. They've seriously hired way too many people to talk about the pop culture events of the 1990's. Yes, Hulk Hogan and Chris Jericho were used, but very sparingly. The show kept their usual stars with Michael Ian Black and Hal Sparks, among others, but after that, it was a total clusterfuck. Jericho, especially, was barely used. Hogan was used more in the late 1990's, like when commenting on Jesse Ventura's governor win in Minnesota (Hogan said he'd still kick Jesse's ass in the ring!).
What pains me is Vh1's total lack of mentioning wrestling in the late 1990's segments, especially the rise of the WWF and Steve Austin. Ol' Stone Cold became a huge icon for the late 1990's, namely 1998 and 1999, and he helped fuel the WWE back to the top and eventually become bigger than ever. This especially baffles me when it's Viacom who runs Vh1, and they could have done some cross-promoting since the WWE is on another Viacom channel on cable.
Oh well. On to RAW.
The first match of the night was Grenier vs. Tajiri. Yuck, a complete mismatch of styles, along with the poor work of Grenier trying to toss around a smaller guy than he normally wrestles. Especially looking at the finish, where Grenier tried to slam Tajiri out of the Tarantula. Bad match, but it only serves as the usual WWE style of hyping tag matches anymore. Can the writers think of something else?
The Highlight Reel was up next and Chris Jericho's guests were the 10 finalists from the Diva Search (who were booed hard by the crowd, which is absolutely hilarious and shits all over the WWE for pushing this contest down our throats). Yes, they look great, but are any of these girls actually looking to contribute something to the wrestling programs, other than showing off their hot ass? I mean seriously, just look at the Divas you have in the WWE today. Ladies like Victoria, Trish, Stacy, Jackie, and others do everything the WWE tells them and then some. Given the facial expressions they made to a shouting Eric Bischoff later, I don't see any of the 10 Divas even lasting a month in the WWE without getting outright released. Well, maybe they'll be in a calendar spread for their hot bodies, but big whoop. Merchandise sales are down anyway and no one girl added will make a difference. Jericho says tells the ladies that there is an immunity envelope stashed somewhere in Bischoff's office and the ladies go in there and ransack the place. Jericho slips out and the ladies are caught redhanded by Eric Bischoff, who shouts hard at them. Meanwhile, all the females can do is smile, look stupid, or try to hold in their laugh. See, this contest is a joke. You have actors who are still learning, models, and a former Playmate of the Year. Yes, they look fantastic. But the problem with this contest is that the girls want a steady paycheck instead of an actual demanded job in the WWE. If the WWE makes this contest disappear by next week, I'll forgive them.
The midcard madness continued with Tyson Tomko vs. Hurricane. Hurricane now has Stacy with him, with the WWE offering no explanation for this action. Just have her say that she got "wet" over seeing Spider-Man 2 and wanted to be with a superhero. HORRIBLE match which saw the Tomko winning after Trish Stratus interference. Easy to predict. Afterward, Tomko wanted to slam Stacy Keibler (who wouldn't?), but Rosie makes the save in a full costume, thus no longer being the Super-hero-in-training or SHIT. Will that come with an actual push or usual jobbing in the midcard?
Looks like the WWE is catching the buzz from Flair's book, as Lawler read several of the comments on live television. Well, if it sells more books....
The next match was Batista vs. Chris Benoit. This could have been much better, given that Batista continues to improve by the week. However, the match was booked in a manner that had Batista assaulting Benoit instead of wrestling him. The match eventually ended in disqualification when Batista kept attacking Benoit while he was tied up in the ropes. Not the way I'd set up a DQ finish, but whatever. After the match, Batista destroys Benoit with his sitdown powerbombs. I like the psychology of softening up Benoit for Triple H next week, but I'd really like to see an actual wrestling match between an improved Batista against Chris Benoit.
Bad backstage discussion between Edge and Randy Orton. Ohhhhh, you're gonna be my bitch! We haven't heard that one before! First, unless you're in a prison, saying you're gonna be my "bitch" is quite lame and useless. Second, the crowds and fans are the actual bitches, for Orton and Edge just make us their bitch by boring us with their matches.
Does anyone want to bet whether the hotline for the RAW Diva contest will matter? I have no idea who these women are or what they stand for. I don't know how each could contribute to wrestling over the other, outside of nice looks. My money is on the Playboy Playmate (whom I can't remember her name, even though my brother showed me her Playboy spread just last night!), but that would be hiring another Sable circa 1998.
Next, it was Kane vs. Chris Jericho for 2 matches. Bischoff was mad at Jericho for having his office trashed, so he gets to fight Kane. Everyone fights Kane when Bischoff is mad. Both matches were rather short... first one couldn't get started and Jericho won when he knocked Kane out on the outside with a countout victory. But oh no, Bischoff changes it to a Falls Count anywhere match, which was equally as short and had Kane winning with a weak clothesline for the victory. Bad series of matches here, as it served no purpose for Kane and does nothing for the former unified World Champion, Chris Jericho.
The WWE showed highlights of the Diva show, which had to be murder to watch, outside of eye candy. Then, they had the women come out in bikinis. Ok, WHAT CAN THEY CONTRIBUTE TO WRESTLING OUTSIDE OF LOOKS? I can't wait until they tell the winner, too, that she has to go down to Ohio Valley Wrestling and learn how to bump. It will be disasterous just like the WWE recently hiring a bunch of hotties, all willing to pose for Playboy, to train in efforts to become actual female wrestlers. The problem was that every girl signed under that deal got hurt.
The main event was Edge vs. Randy Orton for the IC title. A much better match than their total borefest at Vengeance, but it was still not main event material. Edge and Orton seem to have strong finishes to their matches, but they offer weak chemistry between each other leading up to that. It's either that, or Edge's style and look are outdated AND that Randy Orton is a boring in-ring performer, who has improved little since joining the WWE (unlike Batista). Edge won the match, but barely, using the ropes once again for the win. End of show, THANK GOD!
LAST WORD: I've enjoyed the RAW shows for the most part this year, but man, this show was a STINKER! The Diva contest badly crippled the show, but look no further than the in-ring product for the show being terrible as well. Bad midcard, the main eventers were less featured (only 2 segments for HHH and Benoit), and the Diva Contest gives this show a grade of a [ D ], as I'll be generous not to flunk the show since I've liked the RAW roster for the most part in 2004. But Jesus Christ, ditch the Diva Contest, teach Randy Orton how to wrestle with charisma, update Edge, book better midcard matches, and much more for the next shows!
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