Welcome to the column that always gives 100%, the Wrath of Tito. In today's edition, we'll talk Monday Night RAW, indy wrestling, and various wrestling topics. Now, is that hard to follow?
-I missed NWA-TNA Impact this week, but I did catch most of WWE Smackdown. The show had some good matches (Mysterio vs. Spike and Big Show/Guerrero vs. Reigns/Angle were both solid). I've heard from a few reports already that Gangrel and Viscera might be exiting the WWE, for they were just very short-term deals worked out for the two. That's evident with both losing to the Undertaker in a HANDICAP match. That's a shame, especially for Gangrel, whom I personally feels has a lot left in his tank. And I'll take Viscera over Nathan Jones, John Heidenreich, or Matt Morgan (until he gets more training). I hope they stay... The "taped" interviews were such a joke...
-One thing I saw from Smackdown, though, was Superstar Billy Graham. It's good to see that he's A) healthy and B) in good relations with the WWE. If only other former WWWF wrestlers could do the same and put the past behind them. I'm in total agreement with Ric Flair regarding Bruno Sammartino and his stubborn stance against the WWE. If Billy Graham, a man torn up by the professional wrestling lifestyle, can forgive, so should old Bruno.
-The most wonderful person in my life gave me WWE: Day of Reckoning for the Gamecube. Let me say this: I'm VERY impressed thus far. I need to play the game a whole lot more before I whip out a full review. The storyline mode is pretty good, create a wrestler has improved from previous CD-WWE games, and the in-ring action is very fun. It resembles the classic AKI engine, only a big more advanced. I really like the tutoring mode, as it really helps you learn how to wrestle without looking at a manual. I really like how Special moves now include submission holds, for Benoit's Crippler Crossface is now a legit finisher! I got a pure joy out of making Randy Orton tap out... The TLC match is just awesome, and the Bra & Panties match is "fun" to say the least. I wonder where the Dudleys are, though, when this game includes a Tables Match mode? I'll have a full review on a future edition of the Wrath of Tito.
-I read on Scott Keith's BLOG that WWE Unforgiven was estimated to have done 200,000 to 225,000 buys, which is insanely low and apparently is close to being the lowest purchased buyrate in WWE history. NOT GOOD, especially when the show was centered around Randy Orton vs. Triple H. If this isn't a sign that Wrestlemania 21 should NOT be headlined by Orton vs. HHH, then I don't know what is? As I've said it a billion times before: RANDY ORTON IS NOT READY. Maybe in a few years, yes, he'll be ready. He's only 24 years of age and he needs the seasoning that most wrestlers are required to get before winning a World Title, of all things. Instead, WWE and Triple H shot their load on a guy who clearly wasn't ready. Listening to crowd reactions, Randy Orton wasn't even over as a heel before he turned face, and this is despite every cheap heat method in the book being used! His run as a face is so terrible because the fans aren't buying his recycled Rock actions. In addition, he's not the best in-ring worker yet to even carry that title. The only match worth watching from 2004 was the Chris Benoit rematch on RAW after Summerslam. That's it.
It's time to give up on Randy Orton and let him learn some more. I think that the WWE is treading water now with the Taboo Tuesday Pay Per View. Why? Your choices are Chris Benoit, Edge (who is injured!), Shawn Michaels, and Randy Orton. I'm sorry, but the fans know they'll get a good match out of Benoit or Michaels against Triple H. We've got match upon match to prove that. In addition, the fans actually like Benoit and Michaels. Their DVDs have both sold really well and both have had full fan support whenever they wrestle HHH. With Orton, I hear a lot of cheers FOR Triple H. That's not good, and if Randy Orton wins the title shot at Taboo Tuesday, then the vote is absolutely RIGGED. No way should Randy Orton win a popularity contest. NO WAY! The WWE tried everything in their power at last night's RAW to make Randy Orton a more popular choice, which is leading me to believe that the vote is rigged. And if Randy Orton loses? That spits in the face of the WWE executives who thought Randy Orton was going to become the "next big thing".
And what is this with the WWE going "interactive" with fans. Since when, especially since WCW's death, has the WWE listened to the fans? You still see the agendas of the McMahons dominating both shows. The McMahons and HHH (Orton is more or less HHH's apprentice) are the ones who are high on Randy Orton, while Vince McMahon's wet dreams are being relived on Smackdown with the Undertaker, John "Bradshaw" Layfield, and John Heidenreich (I've grown to like the Big Show character, though). I mean seriously, the Undertaker deadman gimmick has FAILED, and yet what do we see? It's getting shoved down our throats. How about Bradshaw as World Champion? Shoved down our throats as well, even though I personally think the gimmick would work if it wasn't rushed or poorly written at times. But for the WWE to begin to listen to fans and allow them to dictate what happens on a show? HOW DARE THEY INVADE VINCE MCMAHON'S BOOKINGS!!!!! That's the thinking you'll see, especially when the voting won't favor your Ortons, Undertakers, or Bradshaws.
I'll give the WWE credit for two things for listening to fans, though. They made Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero world champions. Anybody remember their salute to each other to end Wrestlemania 20? That was an awesome moment and it should have been a defining moment. Benoit went on to do some great things, but the WWE didn't listen to the fans on Randy Orton and they had him beat the best WWE champion in years, Chris Benoit, cleanly with a recycled DDP finishing move. Then, the WWE gave up on Eddie Guerrero too quickly and didn't listen to the fans on Bradshaw as the WWE gave him the world title too quickly. Whatever good the WWE does, it's always ruined by something twice as bad and it loses fans. Smackdown is in a total free-fall in terms of ratings, if you see what I mean. RAW's ratings are more stable, but they aren't going up and they especially haven't gone up since Randy Orton got his big push.
-Well, we lost another wrestler. Ray Traylor, formerly known as the Big Bossman in the WWF/WWE, died in his sleep at the age of 42. This sucks, as it's yet another guy to not reach the age of 50 to die from professional wrestling. Medical examiners will likely look for a cause of death, but I have a bad feeling already as to what it's going to be. Take your pick... alcohol mixed with pain pills/cocaine/other drugs. I hope it's something of natural causes, but I can't keep my hopes up based on what Traylor's fellow WWF stars have already died from (Rude, Henning, etc.). My best wishes go out to Traylor's family.
-Nothing like a good independent show to cheer me up, though..... On Sunday evening, I saw XWF Inc.'s "Fall Brawl 2" in Bridgeport, OH. Overall, it was another great show following what I thought was their best event at Summer Xtreme Bash in August. Wrestling promoters out there HAVE to see XWF Inc.'s Jack Blaze. He's truly a great commodity in terms of drawing heat, mic skills, and actions! He pulled a great swerve on the audience throughout the show and his actions, facial expressions, and words were convincing leading up to the swerve. If I were a wrestling promoter, Jack Blaze is definitely a guy I want on my roster. He's got a lot of sleeze that Eric Bischoff, in addition to other intangibles that makes Blaze something special.
Very well worked Cruiserweight championship between Unknown and Virus. I was almost killed a few times when they went through the crowd. I really liked the Jabari/Syko Sean Dahmer vs. Daron Smythe/Dash Bennett tag match before the massive run-in ended the match. Jabari is quickly becoming a favorite wrestler of mine to watch, as he's a large individual but he moves like a cat! He's probably 6'4" maybe 275 lbs or more, and yet he's agile off the top rope and can hit a devastating rolling thunder, in addition to nasty power moves he can hit. Here's Jabari jumping off the tope rope (picture from XWF Inc.'s webpage - http://xwfincwrestling.tripod.com):
Good lord, and the thud he made on the canvas was devastating! Several independent, NWA-TNA, or former WCW/ECW wrestlers stopped by for the show. Evan Karagias, formerly of WCW, tagged up with Frankia Kazarian to take on former ECW wrestler Chris Hambrick and independent star Sterling James. Good stuff, as they appeared on the day of the show as a bonus. Big congrats to Michael "8X10" Cruz for winning the XWF Inc. championship, as well, in addition to XWF Inc. promoter, the Big Dawg, for another strong, overall show. Check out their website at http://xwfincwrestling.tripod.com.
I think I have to review RAW now?
The show started off with Eric Bischoff in the ring talking about Taboo Tuesday and mentioning that Edge (who is injured!), Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, and Randy Orton will be eligible to receive a World Title shot from fan voting. Bischoff, however, mentioned that Orton would have to beat Batista to become eligible for the match. Gee, are they trying to tell fans who to vote for? HHH came out and did yet another boring promo. Man, it got really bad when he told fans to "get a life". Wow, he got us right there. Shelton Benjamin comes down and cuts a TOTALLY SCRIPTED promo on Triple H. Man, it was bad. Those WWE wrestlers made Benjamin not only sound like a fool, but like a robot trying to remember his lines. This would lead to a match...
The first match on the night was, of course, Shelton Benjamin versus Triple H. Pretty solid bout. HHH worked on Benjamin's arm for a while and Benjamin sold it the entire match. That's good stuff. Benjamin, just the way he wrestles and moves, reminds me a lot of Sting. Anyway, the match ended, though, with a lame DQ finish as HHH attacked Benjamin with the title and then hit a Pedigree on the outside. Well, at least HHH didn't pin Benjamin, I suppose? We'll save that for next week.
Just let Simon Dean wrestle already. While we're young! It's not hard to get that Simon Dean is an arrogant fitness instructor. That doesn't need a bunch of infomercial promos to prove. By the way, I get a bunch of emails, daily, saying that Simon Dean is the next Skip or Bodydonna. Ouch, that's not nice...
I wonder if the WWE already gave up on a certain heel turn? I liked the Rosey/Hurricane vs. Rhyno/Tajiri match. They were given a decent amount of time and did their best with it. All 4 guys deserve better attention/appreciation from the dumbasses backstage, especially when La Resistance aren't lighting the world on fire as champions. Hurricane and Rosey won the match, and it seems as though Hurricane's heel turn might be delayed as he played a face for the entire match.
They aired a one on one interview with Kane, in which he's going to kill Gene Snitsky. He made that clear by saying it several times.
Funny stuff with Eugene wanting to cut off Bischoff's hair for his match stipulation. I'd suggest a "Judy Bagwell on a Forklift" match instead. I'm sure an old friend of mine will enjoy that reference.
The next match was Val Venis vs. Gene Snitsky. Wasn't Val Venis the prized young talent signing of early 1998? 6 years later, here we are and Val is putting over Gene Snitsky, a virutal unknown. The match was basically Gene playing "I'm a crazy maniac" while Val ran for cover. Snitsky finished off Val with Test's pumphandle slam. Yeah, Test is out with an injury, but we all know who uses that as a finishing hold. Give Smitsky a better finisher or he's toast, in addition to how green of a wrestler he already appears to be thus far.
Ric Flair came out next and cut one hell of a promo on Randy Orton. Flair suggested that Orton isn't a legend killer, for he hasn't killed any real legends. Ouch. Flair ripped several wrestlers, such as Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and especially Mick Foley. Flair whipped out his "glorified stuntman" comment on live television, which I'm sure will anger good ol' Mick at home. I bet that Bret Hart is busy typing up a new column as we speak... Randy Orton would respond. Orton's biggest pop ever was when he said "you're the only one who thinks that Triple H is the best wrestler alive today", which was more of a pop towards the truth of the comment and not for Randy Orton saying it. Orton questioned Flair's loyalty and friendship to Triple H, which was CLEARLY setting up setting up a swerve at the end of the show. Too predictable, and the WWE wonders why Orton is NOT over with the fans.
Anybody else foaming at the mouth for the possibility of Edge & Christian versus Jericho and Michaels? Tyson Tomko, once again, hurt the tag match Tomko/Christian vs. Michaels/Jericho. The WWE has a farm system, yes. The guys who were brought up properly were Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar. However, guys like Rene Dupree, Randy Orton, John Heidenreich, Batista (they pushed him when he first arrived.... he's slowly getting better, though), Grenier, Rob Conway (good performer, but bad storylines), Jindrak, Sean O'Haire, Garrison Cade, and many more aren't working from the farm system. Either it's the training or the WWE filter the wrestlers go through as they are called up, but something is seriously wrong with the farm system when guys Tyson Tomko are too green and get exposed for being that when promoted to the main roster. As much as Tomko made the match look sloppy, the match had a good finish with Christian pinning Shawn Michaels. Christian needs a good feud with someone new.
Funny stuff with the Eugene vs. Eric Bischoff stipuations being announced and each wrestler demonstrating their "abilities" to hype the match. Good comedy.
Next, it was Trish, Molly, and Gail Kim having a celebration for Christy, the winner of the Diva Search contest. I'm liking the stable with Trish as the leader and Molly and Gail as the flunkies. Hell, Molly even agreed that Trish was the best Diva, ever. By the way, it cracks me up that Molly has a bald head on Day of Reckoning.... So Christy comes out and Trish has a surprise for her... it's Carmella cutting one last promo on Christy. I'm telling ya, Carmella is getting signed by the WWE! It WILL happen. Calendars need to be sold and having the 2003 Playboy Playmate of the Year on your roster is a desired thing, I believe. Trish says that tonight, she has the power from Eric Bischoff to make Christy's first match. It would turn out to be a 3 on 1 handicap bra & panties match. Christy lost, of course, and was at first embarrassed to be half-naked in front of the crowd... then, she grew to enjoy it. Nice little segment to introduce the winner of the Diva Contest. Now, what else can you do with her?
The main event was Batista vs. Randy Orton in a NO-DQ match. They played up Flair's possible turn on Evolution throughout the show. Alright match, although it was somewhat cut short. HHH was going for the attack on Orton (notice how focused HHH always is on the Orton character instead of the other guys on the Taboo Tuesday ballot). Flair stopped HHH, only to pull a swerve Vince Russo would be proud of and attack Orton, helping Batista to win. OH NO, Orton's not on the Taboo Tuesday ballot now!!! I guess he'll have to beat the odds next week and get on the ballot! While this is going on, another guy is injured on the ballot (Edge), Chris Benoit was used for ONE backstage segment (Benoit wrestled Rodney Mack on Heat!!!), and Shawn Michaels was pinned in a tag match. You tell me what's going on in the WWE and how they are CLEARLY attempting to sway voters to pick their man, Randy Orton, over guys the fans clearly want (Benoit and Michaels).
LAST WORD: Despite the evidence I have presented on Randy Orton vs. HHH for Unforgiven, the WWE wants fans to vote for Orton vs. HHH at Taboo Tuesday and will likely rig the vote to get this result. The WWE did everything in their power, last night, to discredit Michaels and Benoit while throwing tons of attention towards Randy Orton as the #1 guy. This show fell short on a ton of things, and Taboo Tuesday will fall short of desired buyrates and actual Randy Orton votes. [ C ].
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