Welcome to today's PHAT DAILY COLUMN! I kid, I kid... Welcome back to the Wrath of Tito, which this week is brought to you by Sunkist, my favorite beverage AND caffeinated drink. You'd probably laugh when I say that I go through about 2 12-packs of it per week... This week, we'll not only talk about Monday Night RAW, but Smackdown, NWA-TNA Impact, and many wrestling issues. Talk about an action packed column! My apologies for the delay, for I had a lot of stuff to prepare for a new job AND those damn Star Wars Trilogies take up time!
First, though, I want to give my best wishes to anyone who lost their business, home, relatives, or whatever damage received during Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Ivan. My area, the Ohio Valley around Wheeling, WV was hit hard from the remants of those Hurricanes, especially Ivan (although Frances set the table). We've had lots of flooding around here, including the Ohio River which flooded twice in a matter of days (we got the floodings from the North, too). I can't imagine what the Southern states are feeling right now with this excess rain AND the high powered winds. If you'd like to make any donations to the American Red Cross to help out Hurricane victims, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.
-Ok... congrats to Charlie Haas and Jackie Gayda on their engagement. I was unaware that the two were even dating?!? It's good to hear in a business where wrestlers' personal lives are basically destroyed by the business. Instead, two WWE stars fell in love and they can keep a healthy relationship while working. I think Haas has found himself a great find, at least in the looks department. I just hope Haas wasn't watching Tough Enough 2, though, when Jackie was fooling around with another man on the show while she had another boyfriend back at home. But hey, everybody makes mistakes and I'm sure she's probably grown up from that episode (it actually helped her focus more on winning Tough Enough!).
-On another note, congrats to... Oh wait, I don't know her name yet on winning Tough Enough. I guess the WWE wanted to prove everyone wrong on rigged vote theory on Carmella. However, I think the WWE wanted her in the finals to at least bring attention to the competition and by having the other female win, it instantly propels her with the fans by beating the heel Carmella. I, however, insist that Carmella will get a spot in the WWE anyway. She has too much credentials behind her (i.e. 2003 Playboy Playmate of the YEAR) for the WWE to say "goodbye". The WWE is deadset on doing a "Women of the WWE" Playboy issue, and I guarantee all of the women in the Diva competition would have agreed to pose for the magazine. No doubt.
OK, I see now that her name is "Christy". It goes to show you how much I care about the competition. It's nice that the WWE just blew $250,000 on someone who might not pan out in the WWE. What's even better is that the Diva Search did NOT bring in the new fans that the WWE thought it would. In fact, since the Diva Search contest, ratings have been more inconsistent than ever (you could factor that with higher competition on other channels or Randy Orton's title reign, take your pick). But if you ever looked at the quarter hours, you'd see that the Diva Search was NOT drawing high ratings. It was a major ratings failure and a gamble made by the WWE that could help cheapen them in the long run.
-The WWE recently released Jamie Noble. Am I sad about it? Well, the WWE is the land of the giants. Jamie Noble isn't going to get any larger and he lacks the overall fan appeal or unique ability/charisma that Tajiri and Rey Mysterio have to keep their jobs as smaller wrestlers. I personally think that Noble will never get beyond a Cruiserweight Champion in the WWE and he's unable to add size to his frame, unlike Chavo Guerrero, to go up in the ranks of the WWE. Noble, at best, can only become a Tag Team Champion. Noble's best WWE days was his Redneck gimmick when he was with Nidia. He was given time on Pay Per View matches because of the gimmick, and that was the best usefulness that the WWE got out of Noble. I'm not specifically sure what caused Noble to get fired, given that he was just in the hunt for the Tag Titles with Chavo Guerrero. But in my opinion, he can find better work outside of the WWE and I'm sure he'll do that.
I just want to know where in the hell was the "Jamie Noble Fan Club" before he was released by the WWE? The real tragedy is NOT that Noble was released by that all of these fans are just NOW coming out of the closet in support of Noble. Maybe if more fans backed Noble, the WWE would have kept him. I think a lot of internet anger over Noble's release is just some venting caused by fans' ongoing frustrations with today's WWE product. It could have been Shannon Moore and we would have had the same reaction. I personally like Jamie Noble, but in no way am I going to call the WWE "stupid" for releasing him. They don't need him, for Cruiserweights ARE a dime a dozen. There are plenty of cruiserweights out there on the independent market that the WWE could nab who are just as talented as Noble, and maybe with the right gimmick, even better. The WWE is NOT a Cruiserweight sanctuary and anyone expecting the WWE to be that needs to seriously question why they are watching Smackdown or Velocity.
-Now, I'm actually HAPPY about the signings of Viscera and Gangrel, especially Gangrel. What Smackdown lacks are veteran performers who can help elevate your John Cenas to the next level. Viscera and Gangrel are two guys WWE fans remember from 1998-1999. I'll take Viscera, ANY DAY OF THE WEEK, over Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan, or John Heidenreich. At least when a main eventer beats Viscera, you just be a guy who is around 6'7" and over 500 freakin' pounds. That's quite the accomplishment, especially knowing that one splash or legdrop can finish you. I've always liked the Gangrel gimmick and I've always thought he's a good wrestler. Gangrel was very pivotal in helping with Edge and Christian during their early days, along with putting over many other wrestlers. Plus, the entrance of Gangrel was fantastic and that will make for great television on Smackdown. I don't know how the Parents Television Council (PTC) and Brent Bozell would react Gangrel's spitting of blood. Therefore, Viscera + Gangrel - Jamie Noble = UPGRADE!
-My apologies for a slip up in last week's column. NWA-TNA seems to be going after Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, NOT Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner. Still, you see my point. Hall and Nash are both dinosaurs now, and injuries or personal/social problems have caused both guys to be well past their primes. I personally think Vince Russo has a major hard-on for the New World Order, if you ask me. He tried to bring the NWO back during his WCW days, which I told everyone and their mother it would fail (but only a few listened to me!). Now, NWA-TNA might bring Hall and Nash into the fold as "outsiders". On NWA-TNA Impact, Russo promised Jeff Jarrett that he'd bring in an "outsider" for him to wrestle at the NWA-TNA Pay Per View. Jarrett vs. Nash and Jarrett vs. Hall have been done already.... And this is 4 years later against Nash and almost 10 years later on Hall (wrestled in the WWF over the IC title). What would even be more icing on the cake is if X-Pac joins them.
Now, I know the nWo is trademarked by the WWE. But you get the point. Russo/TNA is attempting to recycle old angles AND old wrestlers. Why can't NWA-TNA focus on creating their own talent instead of bringing in older wrestlers who no longer have any drawing ability. And let's face, Hall and Nash are NOT draws. Hall was always a midcarder at best and Nash failed badly as WWF World Champion during 1994-1995. Hall and Nash's best days were in WCW during 1996 when everyone was under the assumption that both were under WWF contracts (a point the WWE won in court against WCW in 2000!!). They can't help NWA-TNA, nor can ANY free agent out there on the market help unless they happen to snag a bigtime WWE guy whose contract is just running out.
I cannot insist this any further. CREATE YOUR OWN STARS. Get the hell out of the past and start innovating. If you're seen as a cheaper version of older federations, fans won't get attached to your product. That's a proven FACT in professional wrestling, and the fact that NWA-TNA can't see that is ridiculous. Especially when guys like Hall, Nash, and Scott Steiner have NOT helped the WWE. As a former history teacher (partially quoting another source who really said it) of mine used to always write on the board, "those who fail to remember history are condemned to repeat it!".
-While I'm on the subject, I must say that Kevin Nash had a great performance in the Marvel Comics movie, The Punisher. He played "the Russian" and beat the living shit out of Frank Castle. I liked the Punisher movie. Thomas Jane was pretty convincing and was a total badass going after those who killed his ENTIRE family (as opposed to just his immediate family in the comics). This was a much better Marvel movie than the disappointing Dare Devil flick. Recommended!
-I actually watched WWE Smackdown this week... Booker T vs. John Cena, Match 4, was probably their best yet in the series. Both wrestlers seemed to know each other well, for once, and the crowd was pretty much into the match. It's said that it took them 4 matches to put on something decent. I laughed at how Smackdown advertised Hogan, Austin, and Foley being on the "5th Anniversary Smackdown Season Premiere". They are just interviews! Big whoop! Fly them in for a show, why don't ya? Good acting by Billy Kidman during his interview segment and confrontation with former partner, Paul London. Good to see that the Dudleys were wearing black instead of their old colorful camo-pants or whatever else. They need to look uniform as a tag team and look like heels. Their match against RVD and Rey-Rey was decent. Rey Mysterio and RVD should be made Tag Champs. That's a good drawing tag team, if you ask me.
Looks like JBL is buidling a stable with Orlando Jordan, Viscera, and Gangrel. That can work. Looks like the WWE might push Viscera and Gangrel as a tag team. That could work as well and it would be interesting to see Viscera/Gangrel vs. Mysterio/RVD. I'm liking Suzuki and Rene Dupree as a tag team, though... they defeated the FBI in a decent tag match. Seeing Suzuki's valet escorting Rene's dog, Fifi, was just too much! The Heidenreich stuff with Michael Cole was STUPID. By the way, Smackdown has their own version of KANE with Heidenreich. Charlie Haas, whom I've always said has been misused by the WWE, wrestled Spike Dudley. Not much of a match with the DQ finish, but it led to the return of Rico. Is it wrong to say that it's nearly impossible for wrestling fans to CHEER a homosexual character?
What the hell is up with Carlito Caribbean Cool? To agree with my good friend Dirty Harry, he looks a lot like the lovechild of a Razor Ramon relationship. I didn't get what was up with the hype of having the Big Show decide on whether to wrestle Eddie Guerrero OR Kurt Angle? This has an eventual 3 way match written all over it. After Kurt Angle gloated and attacked Guerrero after Big Show selected Guerrero, the Big Show decided to pick Kurt Angle for his match at No Mercy. That was your finish... Good show overall, although it had various ridiculous scenes. I'll go [ B- ].
-Now, with NWA-TNA Impact... I guess this show was a compilation of matches from the last few tapings, given that NWA-TNA's Impact tapings were cancelled. Understood. I liked the opening Six Man match with Team Canada vs. 3 Lucha Libre wrestlers whom I recognize either from stints in WCW or WWF. Good little six man match. I hear a lot of good things about Amazing Red, but yet I never see it whenever I watch NWA-TNA. Is he getting a memo that Mr. Tito might be watching and gets nervous on the spot? Kid Kash and Dallas (?) tagged up against Chris Sabin and Amazing Red. OK match. Jeff Jarrett fought in a squash match next. AJ Styles wrestled in the main event against a man named Alex Shelley. Good bout to end the show. I'm not going to blast the show because it was essentially slapped together due to tapings cancellations. It was pretty decent, though, as the matches they had in stock weren't bad at all. I was, however, cringing at Vince Russo promising Jeff Jarrett a match with an "outsider" at the first NWA-TNA 3 hour Pay Per View.
Damn, I wrote a lot today in today's opening thoughts... On to the RAW review.
Our opening match was Victoria/Stacy Keibler vs. Molly Holly/Trish Stratus. Yet another poor tag match, like last week, with Stacy somehow pinning Molly Holly. I'm assuming this is leading up to an actual match between Keibler and Molly Holly. That is going to be a one-woman carry job that I don't exactly see working out correctly. Stacy is NOT a trained wrestler. Get that through your heads, WWE, and push the ladies with actual talent, especially when Trish Stratus is starting to catch fire as a heel.
Backstage, Vince McMahon met with Randy Orton, pretty much giving Orton a pep talk about fulfilling your destiny. Can't Vince just say "Orton, you're not ready to be a main eventer yet at age 24... you need about 2-3 more years of seasoning"?
Also backstage, Gene Snitsky, the man who bumped Kane into Lita to cause a possible miscarriage, tried to say that he didn't mean for that accident to happen. My apologies, by the way, with regards to last week and calling the man a "jobber". I was unaware that the WWE was going to actually use the guy as a regular wrestler. I wouldn't doubt that the WWE would put "Baby Killer" before or in between Gene Snitsky's name. Would the WWE sink that low? No.........
The next bout was Tajiri vs. Hurricane. Short match that resulted in Tajiri winning with a roll up. This prompted Hurricane to take back the Hurricane mask he gave to a kid at ringside. Wow, that's a new idea how to show someone turning heel.... NOT! Maybe the WWE could get even sicker with their gimmicks, like Gene "Baby Killer" Snitsky and push the Hurricane name, given the recent weather tragedies here in the United States. I wouldn't put it past the WWE to do that...
Well, Lita lost the baby. Wow, imagine that, a MISCARRIAGE on a WWE show. This angle with Lita and Kane was so poorly booked and prepared, and it's proven here by "aborting" the angle before the full pregnancy can occur. Instead of thinking the angle through, the WWE pushed it anyway and shoved it down the fans' throats. Now, they've discredited Kane because this angle has made him look like an idiot. They've ruined Lita to ever be a face in the near future. THINK, WWE, THINK! Do you want to make your product look stupid so that maybe NWA-TNA could come up and become legit competition?
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels was pretty good, as expected, although the finish was pathetic with the run ins. Seriously, why would Christian and Tyson Tomko run in on a match with two faces? By the way, I don't know about Jericho's new haircut...
Next, we had a short match between Maven vs. Sylvain Grenier. Is Maven really healthy this time? He looks healthy, with the added bulk he seems to now have. Maven won the unimpressive bout and the bets are now on if Maven eventually joins Evolution.
Does the Simon Dean logo look like Jericho's stance when he's doing his entrance?
Christy beat Carmella to become the Diva Search winner. OK, it's over and they stalled the fuck out of this segment. This contest is a legit lesson on what NOT to do again. Christy is probably the better candidate, for she seems to WANT to be there, whereas Carmella more or less went through the motions and assumed she'd win based on her Playboy spread and WWE fix. I think Christy could be a decent valet for a face wrestler, for she seems to be smiling often and full of energy.
Chris Benoit/Shelton Benjamin/Randy Orton vs. Batista/HHH/Ric Flair was a pretty good main event. Benoit and Flair getting into the chopfests was fun to watch, and pairing Orton with two good wrestlers, Benoit and Benjamin, helped to make him look good. I'm disgusted by the fact that Orton got the victory when Chris Benoit essentially set the table for him, and you know, Benoit was only the World Champion from Wrestlemania to Summerslam. Why can't Chris Benoit get a second look as a World Title contender OR champion?
LAST WORD: Two good matches... can't bash a show heavily for that. The show seemed to advance or end some storylines, which is a good thing, while maybe pushing two new wrestlers (Snitsky and Maven). We'll see as time goes by. I'll give this show an [ A- ].
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