Welcome to the Wrath of Tito. I had an idea... maybe I'll go back to my old columns (the Phat Daily Columns) and change them up a bit. Maybe spruce them up with some HTML magic or maybe add extra images. Yeah, that would be great. Then later, after you read those columns, I'll go back and insert new opinions over my old opinions. You know, it would be like George Lucas screwing over the Star Wars Trilogy when he releases them on DVD in September. Ok, I won't be editing my old columns, but the crime George Lucas is performing by replacing old actors (like on the Return of the Jedi, when Luke sees visions of the Old Anakin, Obi Wan, and Yoda... Lucas replaced the Old Anakin with the newer one as seen in Episode 2 and 3). Sorry, this has been pissing me off lately and I had to get it off my chest.
-What could be seen as a first step in many, Bruno Sammartino actually met with the McMahons recently to discuss possibly using Bruno for the WWE 24/7 project. This is good and for a rare instance, Vince is recognizing the past of the WWF. Yeah, the WWWF didn't dominate the market under Vince McMahon Sr. as it did later with Vince Jr. took over, but the WWWF did pretty well in the Northeast. Bruno is a big part of the old WWF's history, namely with giving credibility to the World Title belt. Bruno held the title for a little under 8 years from 1963 until 1971, and this was big because it came quickly after Vince Sr. broke away from the NWA. Bruno also had a nice reign from 1973 to 1977. He's a big staple of the whole WWWF-WWF-WWE organization and without him, it's hard to say where the title credibility would be today and where the WWE would be today as well.
I actually called into a talk show with Bruno on it one time. Bruno was on the now defunct George Kellis show on WWVA, 1170 am, in Wheeling, WV because he was in the area to speak at the Italian Festival. Since I really have no feelings on Bruno (I wasn't even alive when he was in his prime, as I was born in 1980), I asked him "if the WWE came to you to honor you in some way for their federation, would you do it". Bruno's reply was "first, Vince wouldn't come to me" and later ranted on how Vince would use footage of his matches without telling Bruno. He finished up by saying that Vince probably wouldn't approach him and that Bruno wouldn't accept it anyway.
Welcome to 2004. No matter how sleezy the product has become, wrestling follows trends. It attempts to present what the fans want, and in the 1980's, wrestling fans wanted more cartoonish characters. That's what Vince gave them. In the late 1990's, fans wanted a more sleezy product, and that's what Vince wanted. I'm sure the WWWF followed trends outside of pure wrestling, too, during the 1960's and 1970's that Bruno rolled his eyes at. I know Bruno is upset because his legacy was suddenly overshadowed by Vince Jr. and Hogan's success in the 1980's, among other things (Bruno was disgusted by the steroid use). But, no matter how much a federation has evolved, it still has ties to its past. Guys like Superstar Billy Graham have come to this realization, and so should Bruno. It's not like he has to watch the current WWE or be a part of it. But it would be nice for longtime fans to see him every once and a while in the WWE's honor, such as Hall of Fame ceremonies or with the 24/7 project, it would be nice to see him discuss his old matches. You know, DVD's are popular for having the actual people discuss what they've done in the bonus features.
-ESPN has been very much into Brock Lesnar's attempt at becoming an NFL player. Just last night, they had a feature on Lesnar on NFL Countdown, and Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski ripped Lesnar to shreds, saying he won't make it in the NFL. Well, they did play the game, so take it at face value. I hope Lesnar makes it. Not to prove analysts wrong but to give a good name to professional wrestling. Wrestlers ARE athletes and it would paint a good picture for wrestling.
-The WWE has a lot of work to convince me that Randy Orton versus Triple H will be a good match at Wrestlemania 21. Just getting there will be a bore, for the best RAW champion ever, Chris Benoit, will suddenly get lost in the fold. I mean, Triple H winning the 2005 Royal Rumble? Does anybody want to see this? And secondly, what says HHH vs. Orton will be any good for a WRESTLEMANIA match? HHH's performances in 2002 and 2003 against Chris Jericho and Booker T were very shady, and in 2004, he had HBK and Benoit to work with (which is currently 2004's Match of the Year). Don't get me wrong... I WANT to see Orton vs. Triple H become successful. However, given HHH's work outside of Benoit/HBK and Orton's weak performances, I'm not so sure this will be anything special.
-Roddy Piper has apparently made overtures to the WWE about a return to the WWE. In my opinion, Piper just needs to make amends with the WWE. He didn't add much to Smackdown while he was back in the WWE, and he probably wouldn't again upon returning. He just needs to be in good graces with the WWE for use of his video libraries and for his WWF fans (like at Hall of Fame stuff, fan fests, etc). That's it. No need to dig deep into the WWE again, for Piper got burned when his pre-taped HBO comments about wrestling aired and got him fired.
-I bought the Chris Benoit DVD... I don't have time for a full review, but I'll briefly discuss it here. It's VERY WELL DONE, especially on the documentary part, which is over an hour long of Benoit, family, and friends talking about Benoit's career from his childhood until Wrestlemania 20. Just awesome! It clearly shows Benoit's passion for the business and he gets pretty emotional on parts. The DVD is highly recommended for this... but then you get extras.
I liked the choices for the matches, for the most part. I thought one of his Dean Malenko matches should have been featured, in addition to the great Edmonton Chris Benoit vs. Steve Austin match that was on a Smackdown. Otherwise, a fine choice of matches. This video collection shows what a great performer Benoit is and he's one of the best in-ring performers of the last 25 years, easily. It's very hard to get a bad match out of Benoit and he's more than made wrestlers look good (like Sid Vicious).
By the way, has any WWE DVD released that Benoit vs. Steve Austin match from an Edmonton Smackdown in 2001?
-The Smackdown highlights look somewhat exciting, with Teddy Long now the commissioner (he filled in great for Bischoff one time) and Angle now wrestling full time again. I hope to watch this Thursday.
On to the RAW review!
Rhyno and Tajiri defeated La Resistance in a very, very short non-title match. I love the team of Rhyno and Tajiri. Rhyno's music seems to be perfect for an oddball tag team like Tajiri and Rhyno, and it usually generates a good crowd pop when they come out. I found their houseshow match to be pretty good, so the Summerslam tag bout shouldn't disappoint...
Now, the WWE has Matt Hardy going from being angry that Lita might be carrying Kane's baby to wanting to marry her, soon. Oh no, not another RAW wedding. NOOOOOOO! Really, the last thing I would want to do is to marry a female who agreed to have someone sleep with her based on a threat.
Next, we had Tyson Tomko vs. Rosey... ugh, bad match. I'm not sold on Tyson Tomko yet, and without Christian, it forces Tomko to wrestle more on television instead of being just a body guard or "problem solver". How can you believe Tomko is a "badass" when he looks to be a poor performer? Tomko won and I didn't care. Who hasn't pinned Rosey?
The Highlight Reel was next with Chris Jericho, and his guest was Edge. Jericho reveals that Jericho vs. Edge vs. Batista has been booked for Summerslam (that could quietly become a great match), and Edge and Jericho quickly have problems with each other. If the WWE pushes this new rivalry like Rock and Jericho in late 2001, this could get good. We'll see.
Triple H vs. William Regal was NOT much of a match, only lasting a few seconds when weapons got involved. Regal had the brass knucks and HHH eventually got the sledgehammer. Regal was brutally pounded with the sledgehammer and is eventually hauled away. Good hype for HHH vs. Eugene, although I'd like to one day see Regal and HHH get to work a match together.
Thank God for ESPN on my other television, for baseball and NFL Countdown were on to save the day from the Divas Search segments. I seriously don't know the names of these "divas", nor do I care. The only time I cared was when each contestant basically mooned the camera in their bikinis by adjusting their bottoms. That's it, but I'm not finding any substance in this contest worthy of taking up this much time.
Backstage, Kane yells at Lita, somehow stating that he has a match with Matt Hardy at Summerslam. It's not just a regular match, though, but a WINNER GETS TO MARRY LITA MATCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh man, that creativity of the WWE. Gotta love the WWE... where your personal freedoms are thrown out the window and your life can change, based on a stipulation in a match.
Kane vs. Maven was a squash. What happened to seriously pushing Maven? Not that I care, for I'm not that high on Maven... What's the point of having a squash match on RAW?
Very well done main event 6 man with Chris Benoit/Edge/Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair/Randy Orton/Batista, with a well done finish with Orton giving the RKO to Benoit out of the Sharpshooter. You couldn't ask for a better televised main event, and Smackdown needs to take note, as their televised matches have been weak. Great chemistry between the teams and any weaknesses were hid by great opponents.
LAST WORD: Not much on the midcard, but the 6 man match was pretty killer. But most of all, this was a great show to hype Summerslam and that's what is important right now. Summerslam is probably tied for the #3 show of the WWE's (tied with Survivor Series, while Wrestlemania is #1 and Royal Rumble #2) and it needs to kick off the fall season of television. I'll give this show a [ B ] mainly for a great main event and good Summerslam hype.
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