Baby what a big surprise! Right before my very eyes... the Wrath of Tito! Welcome back for another 10 minutes of reading (but probably 2 hours of typing for yours truly). I hope you are enjoying your summer. I'm feeling stronger everyday (ok, enough Chicago references for the day) after my hernia operation last Monday. Thanks to everyone who sent "get well" emails and even e-cards. It's very much appreciated.

I've started to read Ric Flair's "To Be the Man" book... Of course, I'm a lot more mobile lately and I'm just itching from cabin fever so I might not inhale it like I did with 3 Spider-Man Essentials last week! However, every little opportunity I get to read, it's going to be Ric Flair's book. It's pretty entertaining through 2 chapters, so I won't have a problem reading it in general.

-Ok, here's a fantastic idea to SAVE Smackdown. What saved RAW in 2004? What individual has created a spark in the whole roster, namely Triple H? After Royal Rumble 2004, the RAW roster was given a blessing in the sky while Smackdown roster gravely misses the guy to this day. Chris Benoit! Now that Benoit will have no World Title to chase after on RAW, because it's going to be Orton vs. HHH, non-stop, until Wrestlemania, why not trade Chris Benoit BACK to the Smackdown roster? He could provide an instant boost to the World Title situation or create a great 3 way feud with Guerrero and Kurt Angle. Angle and Guerrero can't do it on their own and the Undertaker/JBL feud has been a miserable failure in terms of drawing power. Just listen to the crowd response at Summerslam to prove my point (so what if it's a Toronto crowd?). My point is that Benoit has nothing left to do but to now become the whipping boy for the likes of Batista or probably a newly turned heel in Edge. Yes, I'm all for putting other wrestlers over...

But Chris Benoit STILL has a lot left in the tank and is still, pound for pound, the best in-ring performer the WWE has on their roster today. He gave Orton a fantastic match for Christ's sakes on RAW last Monday and the 3 Way matches between Benoit, HBK, and HHH are all in the running for "match of the year" on most ballots. I don't see the point of wasting a guy who was the best RAW champion EVER in the midcard when he still has it. If you're not going to bother with him in the main event on RAW then why not trade him back to Smackdown? This will clearly save Smackdown from the embarrassments given by the World Title feuds now destroying their shows. Hell, if you think about it, imagine what Benoit could do for JBL? If you want to have JBL as World Champion, then give him more credible opponents? Benoit would definitely spark something decent out of JBL, for sure (although Eddie did a decent job). I don't know, just my two cents, as I don't want to see one of my favorites floundering in the midcard again, which he did before 2004. (Note: I have heard of plans for HHH vs. Benoit vs. Orton for future Pay Per View shows.)

-I'm going to somewhat defend Triple H here. I see no possibility of Triple H sabotaging Randy Orton. Reports suggest that HHH pushed for Orton's face turn to happen early to squash his fan reactions or drawing ability. I don't see it. The WWE is beginning to panic in the wake of their Viacom deal coming up, lower ratings, and with Monday Night Football about to begin with regular season games. They are clearly hotshotting stuff on Monday night, which is why we saw Randy Orton vs. Benoit for FREE, the Evolution turn on Orton, and the rushed wedding between Kane and Lita. In my opinion, the WWE noticed that Orton was beginning to get some face pops (although fans don't want to cheer for Edge) and they pulled the trigger, thinking the World Title would instantly make Orton a HUGE babyface and create good business throughout the fall season. While we could debate whether that's flawed logic or not regarding Orton, there's no denying what the WWE was trying to accomplish with the quick push to Randy Orton.

I just don't see HHH sabotaging Orton's character in this instance. I've read through various circles that HHH has befriended Randy Orton, making him somewhat of an apprentice. This is why we saw Orton in Evolution in the first place and why he remained there through various injuries Orton suffered through. Triple H wouldn't push for HHH vs. Randy Orton at Wrestlemania if he was looking to sabotage him. This is just a case of the WWE trying to capture lightning in a bottle too early, NOT Triple H sabotaging a character. HHH's work is shown from times where he'll wrestle a guy at a Pay Per View and then his opponent's career just suddenly downturns to the midcard. Guys like Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T, and Rob Van Dam all know about this. Orton won the World Title and is still slated to face Triple H at Wrestlemania... and oh yeah, that's what, 7 months away from here? Come on!

-I caught parts of Smackdown and fell asleep during the second half of the show. It appears that Tough Enough is returning as a part of Smackdown, given that the WWE just can't get enough of these reality TV show type settings. This is far less offensive than the Diva competition, as the diva contestants will add zero to the WWE, outside of a Playboy shoot or calendar/poster/Diva DVD sales (money talks and bullshit walks). At least the contestants are trying to become WRESTLERS. Yes, having it on Smackdown will most likely expose the business in a way, and HHH's argument about the show comes to life here. But, I have a slightly different take. As long as the Tough Enough competition shows the schooling of the wrestlers EXCLUSIVELY and not the Real World look-a-like crap that the shows featured, then it won't be too bad. Tough Enough did pretty good ratings on Mtv, and if newer viewers just might find Tough Enough to be something like a behind-the-scenes type of deal. It's like "here's the wrestling show and here's how the people start to train to get on those wrestling shows". DVD's are popular for extras which explain how a show is made, remember, and newer viewers might catch on in this fashion.

I liked Tough Enough, for the most part, when the shows aired. I went out of my way to watch them. I liked the parts where the guys were actually training and learning the trade of the business. However, I disliked the Real World like interaction. I don't care how these guys get along socially. If you don't like someone, bash their training or out-do them in the ring. I could care less what these guys do at the house or who they might accidentally kiss one night while drunk. There are plenty of reality shows out there which feature this.

-Reports suggest that John Heidenreich threw a fit backstage at a houseshow when a few things went wrong in his match with Scotty 2 Hotty. Heidenreich's wrestling ability is terrible, as witnessed by his brief stint on RAW. But now, Vince McMahon wants to actually push this guy on Smackdown based on his massive size. Seriously, has anybody learned from Nathan Jones yet? Heidenreich might actually be worse because he's far less mobile than Jones. I'm sure Heidenreich won't even be fined or in trouble for his hissy fit. I'm sure Scotty 2 Hotty will get blamed for the bad match (like Edge was blamed for bad matches with Albert or A-Train) and Heidenreich will get shoved down our throats as a legit contender. Seriously, is there anybody on this planet who wants to see Undertaker vs. John Heidenreich? You have to be smoking crack really want to see that match up.

-Rene Dupree is in trouble with WWE management? Wow, how the tides have turned. I read all of last year and part of this year how Dupree was well liked backstage and WWE management was high on his ability. This could be a case of overblown jealousy by wrestlers who aren't getting pushed right now and who are quick to call internet insiders or newsletters with a long list of complaints (I believe the Orton/HHH controversy is a case of this). Who knows? Lord knows, I don't, for backstage passes don't come my way.

-X-Pac and Steve Austin were backstage at RAW last night. Both, I believe, live in the area, so it's nice for them to come visit old friends. Austin was with the WWE for many years and made a lot of the wrestlers a nice salary, while X-Pac has good ties with Triple H, who recently paid for Waltman's drug rehab (now that's being generous). Now, let's take a bet on which wrestler will end up in the WWE the fastest? Steve Austin reportedly talked with Vince McMahon, but reports also suggest that Austin has been talking to Vince personally for a while now. Big whoop. Austin can't wrestle and his non-wrestling role was proven to be very stale. The WWE could live without his character and have for the past few months. I'm guessing Austin will be at Wrestlemania 21 for a one time deal and that's it...

I believe the safer bet is with Sean Waltman (X-Pac). You shouldn't take Joanie Laurer (Chyna)'s word with a grain of salt, given how many times she's changed her story over the break-up with Triple H. However, she stated that Sean Waltman was in drug rehab. CHECK! She stated that Waltman's rehab was being paid for by Triple H and the WWE. CHECK! Her final note was that X-Pac will come back to the WWE. I believe that Laurer is a lying sack of shit like the next guy (a former steroid using and too much plastic surgery, prima-donna sack of shit to be exact), but she has had two out of three things that she revealed become true. Just remember, Evolution is short a member...

-The Rise and Fall of ECW is going to be the most controversial DVD when it's released in November. If you believe that Flair's book drew criticism, wait until the likes of Shane Douglas, Joey Styles, Raven, Sandman, and others speak out. Yes, the WWE has Paul Heyman to keep the train somewhat on the tracks. However, the WWE's purchase and use of ECW footage has angered a lot of former ECW employees. Putting this DVD out will anger those former ECW employees outside of the WWE because it's ECW's history told through a WWE filter. I will most likely buy this DVD just for hearing some good stories and for the partisan story of ECW's success. I'm sure the likes of Heyman, Malenko, Guerrero, Benoit, Foley, Tommy Dreamer, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, Little Guido, and Tazz have a lot to say and their commentary is worth the price alone. However, the DVD is edited by the WWE and the ECW employees I mentioned outside of the WWE will no doubt question the validity of the DVD. Douglas, Styles, Raven, Sandman, and others are very passionate about their years in ECW and will definitely speak out. It will be a fun time... both with the DVD coming out and the controversy!

-I'm sure that I'll get a lot of response to this through email, but does Finger 11 play Kane's theme song at their concerts? Just wondering...

On to the RAW review!

RAW is TITO

RAW started off, once again, with the Diva Search contestants coming to the ring in bikinis, all looking fine as usual. The Coach revealed this week's loser and it was Tracy. In my opinion, she was the ugliest finalist. Not from her race, though, but from being WAY too skinny, having no chest, and being butt ugly in the face. Yuck, get some work done and eat some food, for Christ's sake! The Coach revealed the next competition and it was "tell Coach how great he is" or something like that. We are at the Anaheim Pond which meant Los Angeles was close by... IF YOU SMELL... The Rock came out to an eruption of a crowd response. I wonder if Wrestlemania 21 was booked at the Staples Center on purpose? He threatened the Coach to get out and decided to take over the Diva competition. He talked to the Divas, who appeared to want to screw the Rock and also wanted to toy with the crowd responses. Rock even mentioned how "wet" they were to see him. Rock brought out Tajiri who had pies, for each Diva had 20 seconds to eat pie seductively. Carmella was the dumbass in this contest, whiping a pie all over herself (have fun cleaning it off). The segment had its share of laughs, as the Rock was totally unscripted and saying whatever he wanted. Rock's starpower very much outmatches the whole entire WWE roster right now and was very evident here. The Coach eventually returned with La Resistance and the attacked! La Resistance actually got the better of the Rock and Tajiri (showing how giving the Rock is) until Rhyno saved the day. The Coach then got his beating. The WWE should have run Rock/Rhyno/Tajiri vs. Coach or Garrison Cade/La Resistance as the top of the hour match. Then again, getting Rock on the shows is a luxury already. Great segment, but only for the Rock's actions and NOT the Diva Contest.

After a lot of commercials (Rock/Diva segment went 25 minutes!!), the first match of the night was Chris Jericho vs. Edge for the Intercontinental Title. This match showed some good flares in parts but was held down by poor booking. The momentum of the match was stopped when the referee restarted the match when Jericho's feet were on the ropes. But the ending was pretty pathetic. Since went has dropping someone on the top rope, nuts first, become a disqualification? I've seen many belly to belly atomic drops getting allowed, but disqualifying Edge over using a part of the ring? That's horrible. Terrible finish. The WWE should have had Edge resort to using a chair and getting caught instead of that ending. It seems as though the WWE wants to slowly turn Edge a heel. Fine, but at least book his endings with some interest to push a heel character. I'm sure the majority of fans question that DQ finish and it would result in the fans booing referees, not Edge.

Next, we had Triple H giving a LONG interview about why he turned on Orton. Ugh, I hate when HHH is in badass mode because he just gives the most dry interview around. After endless minutes of HHH talking, Randy Orton finally makes his way out to Evolution's music, which probably hurts potential face reactions, early on. That's a shame Orton has to change music, for the Evolution music seems to fit him best. Orton makes best of one of his strongest heel maneuvers and spits in Triple H's face, hits him with the World Title. Orton then gets the hell out of there. HHH's mic skills sucked tonight, but it finished well with Orton spitting in HHH's face. It's a first step for Orton...

Backstage, Triple H is pissed off and demands a match with Randy Orton. Eric Bischoff grants him a World Title match at Unforgiven. Didn't Randy Orton have to win his title shot through a battle royal? Aren't Pay Per View title shots usually earned in some way? Usually... Come on, Bischoff, show some balls!

The next match was Ric Flair vs. William Regal, with Batista and Eugene at ringside respectively. The match was worked somewhat of an older style of wrestling, which I see has turned a few fans off. I though Flair vs. Regal had a good showing, as Flair really lit into Regal with his chops and Regal didn't let up on Flair. The ending was fantastic, with both wrestlers trying to cheat with brass knuckles but Regal connected first. That's pretty hilarious and excellent booking for this match.

And now, yet another Wedding. Would you believe that there were only TWO wrestling matches on this whole entire show? Talk about too much "sports entertainment" on one show! Anyway, it was Kane and Lita getting married. It threw me off seeing Kane in a white tuxedo, let alone wearing white. Lita didn't wear white, though, opting for a sleezy black dress (no complaints here, though). It's not a WWE wedding without interruptions, though. Since Trish Stratus was a goldmine of comedy last week during the heel divas backstage segment, she came out in some very hot looking lingerie to verbally trash Lita some more while Kane laughs. This leads to a catfight (CATFIGHT, CATFIGHT, CATFIGHT!!!), as I wonder why a pregnant woman would risk losing her child THAT way. Well, I guess it's Kane's child... Once Trish is out of the picture, Matt Hardy tries to save the day. He hits a Twist of Fate on Kane (poorly sold by Kane, again!) and takes Lita up the entrance ramp. Uh oh, Kane can create fire and he ignites the top of the ramp with a big firewall. I feel sorry for the fans around that one, for their faces probably felt a lot of heat. Kane eventually came to and went after Matt Hardy, throwing him off the entrance and onto covered tables down below (the usual lame repetitive spot). Best of luck to Matt Hardy on the knee operation. The poor guy's talent has been overlooked by the WWE for years and he deserves better in wrestling. Extremely nice wrestler who has done everything the WWE has told him to do, and then some (like putting body and life on the line in many TLC or cage matches). Kane and Lita get back to the alter and finish off the wedding ceremony. What?!? No Shawn Michaels? Well, the WWE has rushed a lot of things recently... no need to rush EVERYTHING. Kane picks up Lita and carries her out of the arena. End of RAW. Wow, a wedding actually went down as intended.

LAST WORD: This was a bigtime ratings-grabbing style of show, which featured long segments at the beginning, middle, and end of the show in hopes of spiking the ratings (which have been slightly low lately). While it will probably gain some ratings, this show just had too much talk for me and less action. Rock was at his comedic best as usual, but he didn't have much to work with. While Orton's spitting will help his character, the HHH promo that preceeded that was so boring. The wedding was as bad as expected. The wrestling... I didn't mind Flair vs. Regal, but Edge vs. Jericho was screwed by commercials and booking. Thus, the run of good shows now comes to an end as I give this show a [ C ]. Now granted, the WWE can build from the storylines heavily pushed tonight so I won't get too nasty with the grade. A little less talk and a lot more action, as Toby Keith used to say.

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