Welcome back to your neighborhood friendly wrestling column, the Wrath of Tito. I hope everyone enjoyed the Friday Column, in which I discussed several wrestling items and actually reviewed Smackdown. I really enjoy writing when I just feel like, out of the blue, writing at a certain point. I felt like watching Smackdown and writing about it afterward. It's a feeling that is becoming rare as the wrestling world turns.
-Brock Lesnar seems to be getting a ton of press with his NFL tryout. The fights he either started or was involved with had a good bit of coverage on ESPN television AND radio, in addition to his early scrimmage work getting some good marks. John Clayton on ESPN radio on Sunday evening was suggesting that Lesnar just might make it from his early progress and that's what we, the wrestling community, can only hope. Lesnar has all of the tools and athletic ability. He just needs the right frame of mind. I've heard several football analysts suggest, though, that Lesnar needs to add more muscle to his legs to add more power to his large torso. I've even heard someone say he has "skinny legs". We'll see on that, but I think his abilities as an amateur wrestler gives him unwaranted power from a low center of gravity. I hope Lesnar makes it, and if he doesn't, I'm sure he has a nice college degree to fall back on from his years at Minnesota, maybe an amateur wrestling coach, OR he could be a bigtime free agent wrestler... If I were NWA-TNA, I'd make some phone calls.
-I read that Bruno Sammartino's meeting with the WWE didn't exactly go that great. Bruno didn't stay long for the RAW taping he attended in Pittsburgh (which is where I think his current residence is?), expressed a few criticisms about the current product, and had no knowledge of some of the wrestlers on the show (reportedly had no idea who Triple H was... while this is one case, it still shows you the lack of mainstream attention HHH gets in comparison to Rock and Austin who brought huge money to the WWE when they were on top and in their primes). Basically, this meeting was Bruno being Bruno. This is just the way he is and he's stubborn when it comes to change. Yes, the WWF turned into a more cartoonish version of itself during the 1980's... but look at how many wrestlers benefitted money-wise and how big the WWF became (filling up the Silverdome for Christ's sakes!). The style of wrestling that Bruno did during the 1960's and 1970's, up and until his retirement in the 1980's, probably wouldn't have drawn like Vince's WWF during the 1980's. Wrestling follows trends and if Bruno can't accept that fact, then tough shit. The fact that the WWE is willing to talk to Bruno after ALL of the negative things Bruno has said over the years (ripping Vince Jr., the style of wrestling, and especially the steroids!) shows you who is doing good in this conversation. I'm sure 80% or more of the current WWE fanbase has no idea who Bruno Sammartino is. With that being said, the WWE doesn't need him outside of giving their subjective Hall of Fame some street cred. or use for the 24/7 project. However, with the 24/7 project, there's so much WWE, ECW, WCW, AWA, and World Class footage out there for the WWE to use that Bruno isn't exactly in hot demand for that project as well.
-In the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Sable had a lot of interesting things to say in THIS ARTICLE that could get her kicked out of the WWE, Roddy Piper-style. While I'll agree that Rena Mero (her real name, in case you forgot) made great points, Roddy made great points about the wrestling road schedule and drug use on the HBO special, too. Sable MAY have saved her job by avoiding discussion regarding the 1999 sexual harrassment suit filed in 1999, which was thrown out of court, she had plenty to say about the sexism in the WWE. With regards to the female wrestling division, she said that the "most gifted female wrestlers" get overlooked by the WWE based on the looks alone.
Sable went on to say that men aren't hired on looks. While that is true, the fact is that men are the main viewers who watch wrestling! That's why looks are pushed ahead of ability when it comes to females, no doubt about that. Sable also talked about how easy it is for male wrestlers to have families, like having a wife stay back at home. Well, that's true, for stay-at-home dads don't seem to exist for female personalities. I'm sure she said this in reference to the appeal of females, too, for a valet who is married with kids could receive less fanfare... although Sable, married with a kid during the 1990's, did just fine. What I thought was Theresa Heinz-Kerry like was her mention of women not generally being a part of the management structure in the WWE (just as Heinz-Kerry said women need a stronger voice at the Democrat convention, although both the Senate and House of Representatives have growing numbers of females... it drew an angered look from Hillary Clinton in the skybox). Hello Sable, what about Stephanie and Linda McMahon? Linda acted as CEO for years before the WWE became a publicly traded stock, and she still holds a lot of financial decision power. In addition, Stephanie has a big position of authority backstage, probably being 2nd to only Vince McMahon, the founder of the WWE, when it comes to creative decisions that we see on television. OK, maybe Linda and Stephanie are family members, so she may have a good point, especially since Stephanie is the only creative voice regarding the WWE shows (BUT WWE HAS MALE VIEWERS!!!!).
Sable finished up by adding her two cents on how to boost the WWE's economic approach to becoming more successful, citing that the WWE still suffers from a "sideshow stigma", saying that "In this business, it is many years before you find a mix of style and character that connects with the fans. The fans have to buy into it. The most talented wrestlers are not as popular as The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin because the fans have to buy into it." I agree with Sable 100% on this point. The whole article could be what several political analysts have called "political dynamite" that could result in a termination. I hope not, although her problems with sexism in the WWE could have been taken up with management instead of a newspaper. I do wonder, however, if Sable has much staying power. Other than looks (featuring her in Divas stuff and Playboy), she's not exactly being used creatively on Smackdown (recently was a pawn in an Eddie Guerrero segment) and she's in a relationship with Brock Lesnar, a man who I feel Vince is upset for burning him just before Wrestlemania 20 and has thus crippled Smackdown throughout the summer. Time will tell...
-I'm especially curious as to how the WWE will do with their first Tuesday Pay Per View in years called Taboo Tuesday on October 19th of this year. That breaks tradition of the WWE normally being on Sundays. However, with NWA-TNA probably wanting to do a big Sunday PPV in the future and the WWE clogging Sundays twice a month from now on, the WWE probably went to a Tuesday PPV just to ease tension with our local cable companies. Is this a bad idea? Well, the purpose of the Tuesday show is to most likely have the show the day after RAW to keep the show fresh in wrestling fans' minds. That's good thinking, especially if you do a great cliffhanger that will get people buying immediately the next night. However, the PPV date does break with the Sunday tradition AND Tuesday is right in the middle of a school week. A good percentage of WWE fans are teenagers in high school or junior high, so thus a Tuesday Pay Per View in October could be a very bad idea. We'll see how this goes. I don't think it will hurt the WWE, for their brand-name Pay Per Views can be made with cheaper costs as opposed to the combined shows that will give you the best buyrates, Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam, and Survivor Series. It's not too drastic to have a Pay Per View show on a Tuesday, in my opinion.
Taboo Tuesday? That's quite the name and I wonder if it will ring a bell from longtime porno fans? My uncle used to tell me about the porno movies named "Taboo", for they are skin flicks with storylines geared at family members GETTING IT ON!!! Maybe with this name, the WWE won't need to worry about the show being on a Tuesday for the buyrate's sake!
-I bought Fire Pro Wrestling dirt cheap on Ebay for the Gameboy Advance, as I've heard nothing but good things regarding that game for both the GBA and for the Sega Dreamcast. I figured "why not", as I was bored with my current games and recently traded in to get the Gameboy adapter for the Gamecube. I'm sorry, but in my early goings, I don't see what makes the in-ring action of this game great at all? I love the long list of wrestler selection, for there's a Great Muta lookalike and that excites me. However, the in-ring action reminds me a lot of the old NES games that I reviewed a while ago (I did those during my 2002 Phat Daily Columns during February and March, if anybody wants to look back at them) . The action doesn't have much fluid and it seems choppy. The controls, at first, seem hard to perform. I know I'll be printing out stuff from good ol' Gamefaq.com, a place that has saved my ass numerous amounts of time. So far, I like everything about the game EXCEPT for the in-ring wrestling portion... but who knows, I could get over that hump and really enjoy this game.
-I really like what WWE.com is doing with their new Jukebox Feature on the website. With a good connection, you are able to watch a nice list of older matches for only $3.95 per month. That's a steal given the amount of matches they are offering monthy. Yeah, a lot of them are bad matches, but a lot of it is stuff you've watched when you were younger. If I had a better connection (still supporting 56K, bitches), I'd love to see corny matches like DDP/Jay Leno vs. Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff. This feature is a great gift from the WWE. A major asset of the WWE's is their vast video library, and dipping into it brings in older fans who have recently abandoned the current product. Mixing the older stuff with the newer stuff has sold a lot of DVD's for the WWE and there's no denying that fact.
I like how the WWE added Yokozuna vs. Shawn Michaels from August of 1996 on August's Jukebox. That's from a RAW I attended in Wheeling, WV... excuse me, a RAW TAPING, which lasted 4 and a half hours! This match actually occurred from a special Friday RAW they did from the US Open pre-emption, if I'm not mistaken? It's a pretty good bout and probably Yoko's last decent effort before his health turned for the worse. The best is when Shawn Michaels tries for the Sweet Chin Music and Yoko blocks it with his hands, kinda like a DX crotch chop.
Alright, on to the RAW portion of this very column.
Our first match of the night was Molly Holly/Gail Kim/Jazz versus Victoria/Stacy Keibler/Nidia. You know there's a shortage of faces in the Women's division when Stacy Keibler has to wrestle in a six woman match. Your typical women's wrestling match with nothing really special happening. Nidia, who was dressed rather strange last night, won the match for the ladies. After the match, Trish Stratus with Tyson Tomko came out and had a word with all of the ladies. Uh oh, am I sensing an angle being played up with the Divas Search to destroy it? Could the WWE be listening to its fans? STAY TUNED!!!
In a hotel (they have cameras in the wrestlers' rooms?), Regal tried to tell Eugene to stay put, for there was trouble on RAW named Evolution. Eugene didn't listen, though, and left the hotel on his own to go to RAW. His leaving the room actually drew a big pop from the crowd.
Backstage, Lita has some devastating news for Matt Hardy... the baby is Kane's! Lita had the baby's DNA tested, as I was unaware of the medical advances that can check a baby's DNA at this very early stage in a pregnancy. I have yet to have any Tito offspring, so I have no clue if you can do this or not. I'm hoping that Matt Hardy's DNA was present for the comparison of this test, as I wonder how a doctor could get Kane to sample off something from his body. Matt went bonkers and started throwing stuff... much like yours truly when video games drive me crazy! Actually, though, this is opposite of a Jerry Springer or Ricki Lake show... Usually, when someone finds out that a baby isn't theirs through DNA tests, the guy will shout "I KNEW IT WASN'T MINE BITCH! YOU CHEATING HO!!!". This segment was one of Matt Hardy's stronger acting ones, as I give credit where it's due.
In the ring now as we had Kane and Matt Hardy for a CONTRACT SIGNING! I've never seen a formal contract signing that has resulted in an attack of some sort. Kane and Lita were quick to sign the agreement for this match while Matt Hardy was reluctant. I guess that shows you who will be a face and who will be the heels after Summerslam. Hardy finally signed and after a few parting shots, Hardy attacked Kane to make sure that this contract signing follows suit with previous contract signings. Not bad and it's a match with more hype behind it than most Smackdown matches... but the storyline is so ridiculous and the acting at times has been severely shady. I worry what the WWE is going to do until the full 9 months are up AND how will Kane focus on Lita when Shawn Michaels comes back to whoop his ass?
I was hoping that the first segment would have ended the Diva Search, but noooo.... Coach did more hype about this contest, showing videos of the ladies eating ice cream. SMELL THE RATINGS. I seriously couldn't name the Divas who have been kicked off of this contest. Better yet, I couldn't name the ones who are remaining.
Next, we had an actual match (*shocked*) between Edge vs. Chris Jericho. Pretty solid bout between the two, with spots hit well and a good many close falls to give it some drama between two faces. Jericho actually defeated the IC champion (non-title I assume) by using the ropes to pin Edge. The WWE loves that kind of finish lately, especially with faces. Afterward, Jericho walked back to the backstage area with a shit-grin on his face while Edge got destroyed by Batista. Jericho just watched while Batista pounded on Edge, which was a nice booking touch I thought. It's a shame this storyline didn't have longer legs, for the dissention between Edge and Jericho could have been a fun storyline, ala Rock and Chris Jericho of a few years ago.
Eugene came out to the ring next, expressing hatred for Triple H for his many actions towards Eugene and more recently, William Regal. I'm thinking that Triple H really loves this storyline, as he's been very much into his sicker side of his character than ever. HHH responded on the Titantron and did more sick stuff to poor Regal, torturing the poor guy to greatly upset Eugene. It worked, as Eugene quickly ran out of the ring to the backstage area. To the man who plays Eugene's credit (Nick Dinsmore), he's prompting motivation for Triple H to get very creative towards a newer wrestler. That goes to show you how much the WWE is satisfied with the Eugene character. Yes, I hammer on the bad storyline writing, all the time, in the WWE. However, there are many instances where a wrestler can make something great out of what could be a bad situation. Nick Dinsmore doesn't break character as Eugene and plays the role perfectly, insomuch that many non-internet fans might believe he's actually mentally handicapped!
Next, we had a 2 minute challenge match between Rhyno/Tajiri against two guys I'm not familiar with. The point of this match was that Rhyno/Tajiri had to win in under 2 minutes to receive a title shot at Summerslam. RAW loves to associate themselves with "minutes". Gotta love the "did I hear myself say 3 minutes" with Eric Bischoff and 3 Minute Warning a while ago. How about the 5 minute challenge from Rodney Mack, who will probably be returning to RAW shortly? I got a laugh out of the ending, which featured La Resistance distracting the referee to end Rhyno and Tajiri's chances of winning under 2 minutes. Pretty hilarious stuff. I guess the tag title match will now be held off for a RAW show or the next RAW Pay Per View? After all, they should get a decent amount of time for a tag match and I saw the 2 teams put on a good tag match at a houseshow, which probably saw them getting about 10-15 minutes. Summerslam seems to have a lot on the table already...
Oh wait, we could have the tag title replacement... Trish and the other 6 women she spoke to earlier went into the ring the 7 remaining Diva Search contestants to a DODGE BALL match at Summerslam. Talk about cashing in on a recent craze. I guess this is OK, for at least they aren't wrestling the Diva contestants. Besides, here's hoping to an accidental headshot! Whooo!
With Eugene distressed over the attack of Regal, the main event appeared to be Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton/Triple H. Actually, this is fine, for it's Chris Benoit working against Orton and HHH, making both look good in the ring in the process. Benoit got rid of HHH over the top rope and then went to work on Orton, trying to make him submit to the Sharpshooter. Flair tried to distract the referee, which broke the hold and Benoit was almost RKO'd but was reversed into a Crossface. NICE! Flair ran in for the attack for the Disqualification. Evolution attacked, including yet another HHH pedigree on Benoit for good measure. If only I had a quarter for everytime that happened on RAW, I could say "I'm RICH, bitch!" and toot a horn twice. Eugene made the save, which was predictable but it's standard PPV hype. I disliked Eugene's attack on Orton, hitting the Stunner on him. I don't know, it just made Orton look weak heading into his WORLD TITLE match with Benoit. Orton needs all of the credibility he can get when it comes to receiving a title match.
LAST WORD: Yet another strong Summerslam-hype show by the WWE here for RAW, and it's exactly what they needed to maybe strike some momentum heading into the Fall season. By the way, the WWE really needs to hammer the fact that ABC has considered handing Monday Night Football off to ESPN, maybe being a little extra aggressive towards football than ever. Who knows? ABC could always fire back "well, you created the XFL". The Divas Search stuff sucked as always, but it's at least a channel changing moment to check out a baseball game or two. Maybe get a snack? Take a dump? I actually use it as a moment to take a quick shower, sometimes. The wrestling was decent and the midcard, in general, wasn't too bad this week and that's RAW's usual weakness. I'll go [ B+ ] this week and applaud the RAW creative staff for making Summerslam look good on the RAW side right now. Getting Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle from Smackdown on top of this is like a bonus...
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