Like a bad disease that won't go away, I'm BACK!!!!!!! So where have I been? What have I been doing? Well, last week, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I was in Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a very nice place, I might add and well worth the approximate 20 hours worth of driving to get there! At this point, it's hard to say which Hall is better, the Football one or the Baseball one, given that I've been to the Football many times, whereas I have been at the Baseball one just one. When I came back, work and school overwhelmed me, to the point where I could only slowly watch RAW and Smackdown throughout the week. The work and school pounding has resulted in me taking the rest of the month off for Wrestling's FACT or FICTION, but that's ok, for Phantom Lord, Da Ref, and others are continuing the column and doing a great job at it.
So, I'm behind in the world of wrestling news and gossip. Therefore, I'll kick it AROUND THE HORN-style by saying These 5 things I KNOW are True!
1) The McMahons are SO full of themselves right now! Some suggest that this column has a personal vendetta against the McMahon family. Hardly, and listen to the FACTS of my argument. First of all, all 4 McMahons are now regulars on WWE television now. ALL 4! Each have their own feuds or angles. Secondly, 3 out of 4 McMahons are actually wrestling and receiving Pay Per View matches! Yikes! And finally, with the excess of McMahons, why aren't the ratings higher with their presense? I thought so. Let the wrestlers be the on screen talent instead of stale McMahon characters who have turned heel and face so many times. The McMahons can't do anything in the ring, and that's where wrestling counts in the long run. If you're paying some midcarder $250,000, then use him.
2) Rob Van Dam is doomed. In recent interviews, Rob Van Dam has been speaking out against backstage politics within the WWE locker rooms. Sure, it NEEDS to be said, but that's not the point. Crying on a radio show or interview isn't where you should air your dirty laundry. Go to management and tell them about your problems. Now, I'm very sure he may have went to management and cried them a river, but it could have fallen on deaf ears. But the biggest point is that by talking smack on your own company, you're allowing yourself to get sabotaged by the writing crew and the McMahons, who, heaven forbid, can't take criticism very well. After the Kane feud, RVD will suffer in midcard hell once again!
3) Sean Waltman and Joanie Laurer need to go away! This whole crap about Chyna crying domestic abuse and Waltman denying it is getting ridiculous. For one, if Chyna let Waltman beat her up, how pathetic. She's only larger than him on muscle mass, as I'm very sure with the years of training she's had, she could easily take him or be competitive with him in a fight. I laughed how Waltman insisted on going on "Celebrity Justice" to resolve this matter. HA! CJ is quickly becoming one of the most sleezy shows on television, and a 2nd rate celebrity show at that. Please. These problems surfacing are proving true of what I've said all along about Joanie Laurer, and that she was banging Waltman only to make Triple H jealous. Karma has set in and it backfired!
4) Mark Henry will never make it big in the WWE. There's current talk about having Mark Henry on the RAW brand, becoming the latest wrestler to join Teddy Long's camp. Oh please. Henry is the biggest failure in WWE history, completely busting every since he signed the 10 year (I believe for $10 million?, not officially sure) contract during the summer of 1996. Yes, that means we have a good 3 more years of Mark Henry stinking up the arena, having problems with his weight, and hearing about his overhyped Strongest Man contest. First of all, he lacks any wrestling ability, and it's damn near impossible to teach unless you start really young. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule! Secondly, nobody seriously cares about the guy. On Smackdown, the editors could fix the crowd noise to seem like Henry is a well received face, but you'd see nobody moving as he walked down the ramp. On RAW, it's Live, and he'd be screwed instantly by his crowd reaction. It's not like Teddy Long or Rodney Mack are over at all. Just let this Olympic bust sit at home and collect a paycheck, for his presense on WWE television actually hurts the product.
5) "The Rundown" starring the Rock will be a box office success! I've seen this preview twice already, and I must say, it looks like a good action comedy. The movie stars the Rock, the guy who plays Stiffler on American Pie (talk about typecasting someone!), and Christopher Walken. It looks like a barrel of laughs, and will only increase the Rock's stock in Hollywood. That's great for him, and I hope he continues to have success there.
Alright, that was a nice "rundown" of stuff I had on my mind for the past week or so. I took a lot of heat for my last column, for I gave an honest and harsh review on RAW, 2 weeks ago. The show was headlined by Shane McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff, and the only thing I liked was the Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho match. Everything else either featured poor midcard wrestling, too quick of a match, or just bad writing in general. Shane McMahon wrestling in the main event decreased ratings, by the way, for RAW dropped in the ratings that week. Oh, I don't need proof of ratings to back up my point.
But by blasting RAW, I got my usual assortment of "why are you still watching" e-mails. Sigh. People sometimes think I have a gun to my head when I watch a show. Yeah, sometimes it feels like that. But I've been a professional wrestling fan since I can remember, and we're talking probably from 1987 and beyond when I watched faithfully. I've seen the highs and lows from the industry. And during the lows, I've kept watching. Why? Because when the wrestling industry is at a high, it's extremely fun to watch. My personal opinion of the current WWE product is that they HAVE the potential to bring up business with the roster they have. The WWE suffers from poor creative decisions and McMahons (Triple H included) watching out for themselves. Especially Vince, who can't get out of his old mold of favoring larger wrestlers and recycling many old storylines.
They have the talent! Smackdown's roster, especially, for Eddie Guerrero is a proven draw on UPN through hispanics. Smackdown is seen more by a teenage demographic or an urban demographic than RAW is. RAW has more adults watching it, while Smackdown has a much more diverse audience. But why are we pushing older WWE guys, such as Billy Gunn, Big Show, Albert, and the McMahons? See my point? Push the Cruiserweights, create new great tag teams for the already awesome division, and beef up the main event division with more fresh faces instead of keeping the Big Show there at all times.
Now, with RAW, it's hard to say. Up and down on the roster, I see the same old faces... Test, Triple H, Stone Cold, Dudleys, and others who were popular a few years ago. Then, you have newcomers who are either too green or are in a recycled angle, such as La Resistance. Too many problems. The stable Evolution does NOT work because Triple H has an appearance that he doesn't need help from heels to always defeat the faces in the end. Kane's storyline was botched from the beginning, when they ripped off his mask for a terrible appearance. Then, this stuff with the gasoline is out of hand and so 1998-1999/Vince Russo era. RAW could use some new blood on its roster or maybe one strong midcarder from Smackdown to start giving us some better wrestling, such as a trade for say a Chris Benoit.
I something seriously bothers me, I won't do it. For example, the NBA and NHL bore me during the regular seasons. I don't watch. I hate nearly every television show on Network television these days. Do I watch? No. Certain foods... if I hate the taste, I won't eat it. With wrestling, I know it has the ability to get better. The WWE has a well stacked enough roster to fill 2 brands of television. The current problems exist on using that roster in a good way without letting a McMahon ego or a poor soap opera writer getting in the way. That simple.
I have liked Smackdown for the past few weeks. That's my favorite wrestling show, and I see more positives on that show than RAW could dream of. I liked the Brock Lesnar heel turn. Makes total sense. Haas/Benjamin and Mysterio/Kidman are putting on tremendous matches (I wish the WWE should mention Kidman/Mysterio as former WCW tag champs more often). John Cena is becoming a breakout star, in my eyes, despite the Undertaker not letting Cena beat him on a Pay Per View (which more people will remember than a television show win. See how politics works?) Eddie Guerrero is the perfect United States champion and a welcome return as a heel.
And coming this fall, I WILL be reviewing Smackdown! That's right. Oh, I'll still review RAW, don't get me wrong. I will be pumping out TWO Wrath of Tito columns per week once school starts. Why? For whatever reason, I have this stupid class on a Friday which keeps me on campus an extra day. Usually, I have classes from Monday through Thursday, and I go home on Thursday evening. However, I'll be stuck on campus on Thursdays, meaning I will definitely be reviewing Smackdown, my favorite wrestling show on television right now. So life is good.
A few non wrestling notes of interest. Freddy vs. Jason was really good. One of the most entertaining films I've seen this year, and the fight totally lived up to the hype. Jason and Freddy demolished each other! DEVASTATING! I'm completely itching for the months of September and October. Why? Because the NFL will start and baseball is heading into or starting the playoffs. By far, the BEST months of sports. As for baseball, it's funny how every team is picking off MY Pittsburgh Pirates for talent. 1 starting pitcher, 2 bullpen pitchers, 1st baseman, center fielder, and the thirdbaseman. Oh, and Kendall and Giles are going out the door as well. You know you have a sick league when you have one team spending $180 million on talent and turning a profit (Yankees), while many teams are lucky to spend $50 million on talent and never see a profit. Thank God for Fantasy Baseball and the World Series, or I'd totally boycott it.
Enough of that! I could go on for days! Let's review RAW already!
Opening segment saw Chris Jericho starting the show with his Highlight Reel. The segment eventually leads to Evolution, Nash, and Bill Goldberg running in for a spear. Good segment, as you should do some sort of thing like this to prove everyone is out for themselves in the Elimination Chamber, even the faces against each other. I'm still not convinced the Elimination Chamber will work, especially with fragile Nash and Goldberg, along with an already injured Triple H, involved with the match. Orton and Jericho better get ready to take some serious bumps.
The first match of the night was Trish vs. Molly Holly. One thing I forgot to mention above... The Women's division DOES NOT WORK! It brings nothing unique to the table, unless it's on a calendar. Yes, that's a sexist remark, but listen to the crowds during this match. Silence, and the matches usually hurt the matches following it because of the silencing. Not much of a match, for Gail Kim, still not over, runs down and attacks. A perfect example of the failure this division is.
ZZZZZZZZZZ @ Shane McMahon. I can see some flare in Stephanie that she inherited from her father, but Shane McMahon totally inherited the monotone speaking style of his mother. So sad. This guy has no business on television or on a Pay Per View for a match. The sad thing is he's wrestling on 2 back to back Pay Per Views... Bischoff this month, and Kane the next. Happy Happy, Joy Joy.
I bet that Lance Storm and Goldust will be a good tag team, but will either guy receive any credit for their wrestling ability? Doubtful. Goldust has the personality that many wrestlers WISH they had.
Our next match was Test vs. Scott Steiner, in the feud that never ends! Not much of a match, for Test goes down with a leg injury. Uh huh, poor acting there Test. Test would fool Steiner, who actually can act. Do you remember the time he cried in front of his brother Rick upon his WCW return from a back injury? That one fooled everybody, for real. Test would then big boot Steiner for the win, 1, 2, 3. He gets Stacy, which is the 10393984884th time a valet has been forced to be with an unwanted wrestler in the WWE. Yay.
La Resistance come out and do their routine. The anti-USA gimmicks are so stale right now. The last good one, to be honest, was Bret's Team Canada one in 1997. After that, the rest is crap, although Storm's WCW one wasn't bad. They harass a military officer, to which the Dudleys come down to make the save. The officer comes into the ring to salute the USA with the Dudleys, which actually has the crowd going. Wow, a WWE angle fooled the fans. A first in a long time. Seeing the obvious coming, the army dude turns on the Dudleys, revealing that he loves the French, and we get a heel beatdown. Is he under WWE contract? Sigh. Did I mention I'm tired of anti-USA angles in professional wrestling? Can't say it enough..
Chris Jericho beat Kevin Nash in a hair vs. hair match. Jericho bumped around like a champ, hoping to make the match watchable with an aging Kevin Nash. Nash looks very old with his new dye job, by the way. Almost looked like Oz, only more yellow. I liked the cheap victory by Chris Jericho, and the ending was satisfying as Nash's long hair finally gets cut. About time. I wonder if Nash dyed his hair that way, wondering how it would look that blond before he would get it cut? Hair or no hair, Kevin Nash is still a poor performer here in 2003, and Jericho worked his ass off to make this presentable.
Rodney Mack actually played his role correctly, losing to Rosey or SHIT. Mack is one of the most overrated performers I've seen in the WWE for quite some time. Pathetic. The skit before this that aired with Hurricane and Rosey was a good laugh. Rosey wins with his cool looking spinning rock bottom, and he seems to be getting over as the Hurricane's sidekick. Oh my... If it keeps up, I will certainly apologize for saying this gimmick or duo couldn't get over.
The Eric Bischoff and Linda McMahon segment was a good cheap laugh, just because Bischoff plays the dog so well. Bischoff is living the good life now... he defeated Shane 2 weeks ago, and now he's trying to bone the Mrs. McMahon, right in front of Vince's face! Congrats to Bischoff.
Decent bout with Christian vs. Rob Van Dam, although, you could announce a match of this caliber, you know, for the IC title, more in advance. Hurts the crowd reaction and flow of the match. The finish was easy to see a mile away, once RVD hit the Van Daminator. Besides, would the WWE give Rob Van Dam a title for some of the things he's said lately? I'd think that RVD would be a better IC champion than Christian, but what else would Christian do right now? Kane ran down after the match and brutally attacked RVD, especially with that chairshot through the ropes. Ouch.
I guess the angle with Test and Stacy is that he'll whore her off to other wrestlers, such as making her dance for Steven Richards and Rico (both have hot valets). Yay.
Backstage, Kane tried to set Rob Van Dam on fire. Honestly, wouldn't you get arrested for trying this stuff. Please, make the feuds more believeable. Kane eventually walked away, not setting RVD on fire, that, or he went to a store to go get better matches. WWE writers: think before you write something in.
Our last match was Randy Orton vs. Bill Goldberg, the main event. Austin was the ring enforcer, and it wasn't long before he became the referee. Flair would eventually run in, only for Austin to start fighting him. It's a shame that Austin and Flair never had a good and long bout on WWE television before Austin walked out in 2002 or was injured a few months ago. Damn shame. Goldberg gets the win, and Triple H stares him down from a distance. This prompts Kevin Nash to run in and powerbomb Goldberg. I personally thought this was Nash officially joining Evolution, which is what he wants, but I was wrong. HBK then superkicks Triple H, and then Jericho hits HBK with a chair. Nice ending.
LAST WORD: If you're looking for a show with good wrestling, this isn't it. Another week of poor in ring performances. However, the RAW before the Pay Per View serves as a hype show for a PPV, but still... Too much McMahon stuff hurt the show, as Linda and Shane have no business on this show, whatsoever. Although, if you're going to piss off your opponent, Eric Bischoff is doing good by hitting on and kissing Shane's MOTHER of all people. Mom jokes always stir shit, but kissing another's mom... oh my! I'm just asking for good wrestling matches... not hard to ask for. I did like the interactions between the Elimination Chamber participants. It was properly hyped, although the match itself could be a total trainwreck. I'll give this show a [ C ]. I'm not moving the grade out of the C-range until I see some drastic improvements.
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Take care, and thanks for reading!