The Saturday Matinee 10.26.02

If you hadn’t realized it by now, I’m Flea, it’s the weekend and the mad bull done lost his way what am I talking about? As usual, I don’t know but what I do know is that digital re-mastering bites wind. I picked up a copy of the new Rolling Stones CD “Forty Licks” and goddamn, whoever thought it was a bright idear to clean those songs up like that should be forced into active duty as the bedpan cleaner in the AIDS ward at the horsepital. The damn thing starts off with Street Fighting Man, a song whose opening riffs normally would send a guttural chill down your spine but now it sounds like the happy music they play at McDonald’s funland. Next song is Gimme Shelter which is a shell of it’s former fatalistic self and then on and on with the hits, each one DIGITALLY RE-MASTERED SO THAT YOU CAN HEAR .oh suck my dick. The reason Exile on Main Street is so f*cking cool is the fact that it sounds like it was recorded in a basement because it WAS recorded in the basement! You can’t replicate that sound on a CD, which I why I normally stick to my old vinyl albums. But back to the whole “theme” of Forty Licks – it’s kind of impossible to pick forty of the Stones songs and expect everyone to be happy with the track listings. I find them suitable, even though they omitted Waiting on a Friend and Let it Bleed and NO ONE seems to have the f*cking guts to include an early 70’s live version of the aforementioned Gimme Shelter. A version that I have is from a 1972 concert in Philadelphia which is about 12 minutes long and is just the most beautiful song I have ever heard The Stones perform. The killer part is after and extended mid section wailing guitar solo, there evidently ain’t a black chick around to sing about impending doom so Mick just starts SCREAMING – “RAPE!!!MURDER!!!IT’S JUST A SHOT AWAY!! un – f*cking real. One of these days when I figure out how to do it I’ll get the song on-line, I think at least one or two of you would enjoy it.

But Forty Licks does have a certain misogynistic little gem around track 8

Under my thumb is the squirming dog who’s just had her day

Under my thumb is a girl who has just changed her ways

It’s down to me .yes it is

The way she does just what she’s told

Down to me

The change has come

She’s under my thumb

Ain’t it the truth baby?

My suggestion would be to purchase Forty Licks, it’s a good introduction to the Stones if you have never heard more than a couple songs on the classic radio station. And just for my benefit, please do not send me any emails about how Sympathy for the Devil is their best tune or that Hot Rocks is a great compilation. Especially if your name is dexterthepimp@yahoo.com who sent me this when I axed the question “What website t-shirt did Diamond Dallas Page wear?” or something like that, I forget exactly how I asked it but anyway, dexterthepimp@yahoo.com had this to say

Why, DDP wore Scoopswrestling.com shirts, of course, and was/is a personal friend of RichInKC. Oh, god. I just proved how huge an internet wrestling geek I am.

Really, man. I haven’t name-dropped Rich in KC in over a year. Geek. OH HYATTE! Please tell us all about that fun little game of Badminton! The boys are tired of golf! So dexterthepimp@yahoo.com, your monkey ass is famous, at least to the people that matter, mainly me. And you.

Let’s get to it

TOP STORY

One of the benefits of not having to write a column until the weekend is that I have all week to see how everything plays out. Two weeks ago I defended the WWE and their decision to go forward with a “soap opera” angle. Just last week it appeared that necrophilia and the likes were not turning away people in droves as initially presumed and the ratings supported that (no one tuned out). This week, coming off a surprisingly good PPV, the ratings are the same but the level of disgust hit an all time high. Just so I thought I hadn’t taken one toke over the line on Monday, I went back and watched RAW again – man did I get burnt. Here I am, Mr. Eternally Positive, and look what Vince and the gang deliver – H, a dead body, sex and then brains being thrown at the camera. But you know what? I have no problem with that. My main beef at times is that WWE starts something and for whatever reason (public pressure, backstage politics, mood swings by the people in charge – pick your poison) angles are dropped, changed or sent off in an entirely opposite direction as what was originally intended. So, I kicked back and watched what presumably is exactly what Vince has planned and to my surprise, they carried through with it. Complete with a SHOCKING HEADLINE on their website and a follow –up by production guru Kevin Dunn explaining that this is EXACTLY what they wanted to present to the viewing public! First time is a long time that any signs of long term planning has been in effect, as pretty much every major angle has had the hot shot feel to it, at least since Flair has shown up. The only notable exception to this is the Brock Lesnar project, which seems to be succeeding due to the will of Paul Heyman, the raw talent of Lesnar and UT nearly bleeding to death in an effort to put Brock over. I’ll get back to that in a minute. So, I took into account all the negative opinions and the stories about phone calls and a high level of disgust that WWE has received following this angle, added that to the idear that Vince and Company WANTED to stir the pot a little bit, subtracted all the normal dissenting opinions about how this is the worst thing ever –

Stop right there – the worst angle ever was when ECW decided that a blatant “crucifixtion” would make for some good entertainment. THAT cannot be topped. Also take into account that Kurt Angle was in attendance for that show and it nearly turned him off to the “wrestling business”, figuring if THIS is what pro wrestling is all about, he would rather be a coach or something. Fortunately he realized that “crucifixion” was limited to Bingo Halls and went on to become the best performer currently in the business. Just wanted to point that out.

Okay, so I took all the feedback into account and then added my own opinion that, yes it was stupid and farfetched but I do give them credit for not dropping it like a hot potato at the first sign of negativity. After all, reaction, good or bad, is reaction, which is better than apathy eight days a week. The I got to the tag match, which featured H / Flair vs. RVD and Kane and the shit hit the fan – this angle will never succeed and we finally have somewhere to place the blame Good Ol JR and Jerry Lawler.

People, by and large do not want honesty. I have seen the phrase “be honest” driven into the ground and a whole new environment of “I can be a rude or as much of an asshole, but hey! I’m just being honest” creep into the mindset of the public like a burglar crawling through a window. Realism is in the eye of the beholder, which is why escapism under the charade of “real behavior” in now commonplace in the psyche of the unwashed masses. Hence the fact that shows like Survivor, The Osbournes, Anna Nicole, etc. top the ratings charts. But no one REALLY wants honesty – the just want the illusion and the idea that “I was just being honest” to trump the fact that they really have no concept of acceptable behavior. This also coincides with the need for vicarious existence through the aforementioned methods of escapism. Which is really all wrestling is, escapism. That has been lost in the eyes of many “fans” and I think has fallen by the wayside in the mind of Vince McMahon. The two best angles over the last several years (in my opinion anyway) was the Austin / McMahon saga and the return of Cactus Jack, complete with Foley’s transformation into a “mythical figure” when in reality, he was just “the same washed up guy in a different shirt”. However, both angles, when viewed as “entertainment” worked very well and are by and large considered a success. Why? Because it allowed the viewer to suspend disbelief for those two/four hours of viewing. Since that time, in an attempt to cash in on the “reality” of life, many attempts have been made to make “real life” out of the wrestling business, which turned off many “casual viewers” but made the “smart fan” tingle with excitement. Of course, the “smart crowd” had to ANNOUNCE that “Hey, you are just trying to cater to us!” No one else will understand!” as if being able to surf the net and read “wrestling gossip” is some kind of divine right given to those who are willing to overlook the fact that Chris Benoit is nothing but a wife-stealing pig who has never taken the time to develop his speaking skills and declare Benoit GOD. That, in itself, speaks volumes about the smart fan. Oh yeah, and the uncanny ability to make the assumption that HHH is a power monger and is single-handedly destroying everyone with his “effect”. All hogwash, of course but that is page one and two of the IWC “your comments are important” handbook. Anyway, when angles were being given a little “inside flavor” both the “casual” fan and “smart” fan revolted, for entirely different reasons – “Casual Calvin” scratched his head and wondered what was happening and “Smart Sam” went to his computer and told everyone how HE could do it better, in bullet-point format, no less. But the mystery was gone and until this time, no “angle” has been able to connect with wither Calvin or Sam, as Vince has tried every trick in the book to walk the fine line between escapism and reality. The N.W.O. was brought into appease both sides, but no effort was included to actually MAKE this group threatening. Hulk Hogan was then returned to his days of Red and Yellow Greatness (which appealed to Calvin and Sam, strictly on a nostalgic level), but in the end, all that came of it was the fact that Hogan is an old man. Brand Extension can be included on this list, as when ii was first being considered, EVERYONE (and yes, I do mean everyone) said is was a good idea and that it would give a chance for “up and comers” to shine in the spotlight. Now, after all the revisionist history, Brand Extension is a bad thing, although it is easy to say that now that Austin and Rock are no longer part of the equation and over a year and a half of starts, restarts and more restarts has watered down what was originally intended – to have two separate products competing to see who can be the best.

But even a child of four can see that Vince owns all the marbles. Which is no big deal, but it does limit the suspension of disbelief quotient when you know that the “competing brands” will not REALLY put each other out of business. But hey, no problem. WWE really clicked on something with the Billy / Chuck angle, using it as fodder for Bischoff to really stick it to Stephanie and Smackdown in general. But once again, what could have been (and did to a certain degree – viewers have seemed to stick around since then) a watershed mark for a groovy direction for both shows has turned into the latest hotshot and a blatant attempt for publicity. But that’s what Vince wanted and he is the Boss, regardless of what you hear elsewhere.

All of this came full circle Monday night after the HHH angle and during the Tag Match. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the “Katie Vick” angle, you at least have to give WWE credit for following through with this. The writers of course should be shot for even wanting to do this angle but HHH and Kane have done their best with the material they were given. However, the final building block in any angle construction is how the angle is presented to the viewing public. This is where the blame falls strictly on the shoulders of Ross and Lawler.

It’s kind of ironic that nearly a year has gone by since Lawler has returned. When he quit over the snit involving his Stacey, he was replaced by Paul Heyman, in a move that was met with great disdain, at least from the On Line community. I supported the move as Paul E may not be good with money, but he can make you feel passionate about what you are watching, something which JR and all his hyperbole used to be very good at, if not the best. Eventually, Lawler was brought back into the mix and since that time has become a scourge to many critics who are just flat fed up with his lousy attempts at comedy and his perversion in general. JR has suffered as well, as many of his “barbs” toward Lawler now sound like a desperate frustration. The best and happiest I have heard JR is when he called the main event on RAW by himself a couple weeks ago – no burdens and he just went out and “called the match”. But that does not let him of the hook for what he and Lawler did on Monday night.

The Tag Match on RAW was not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. But listening to the commentary made you think that everything you were watching was the biggest pile of shit in the world. No “bowling show ugly” inside barbs, but just a blatant disrespect for all four men out there and a total drop in the façade of “entertainment” and “angle presentation”, going far past the point of unprofessional behavior. It has been rumored that Vince was telling Lawler to “push the HHH angle” in the ever present “earpiece” but I seriously doubt he was saying to make one big, lame kayfabe- breaking- laugh- until- your- sides- hurt JOKE”, which is exactly how it came off to anyone who is listening. Of course, that is nothing compared with JR’s attempt to make Ric Flair a laughing stock by screaming about his tope rope move never working. I KNOW THAT!!! I also know that the Flair Flip is just downright embarrassing, but I do not want the commentators to tell me (or the other viewers watching) that. The commentary team is the final link between the product and the viewing public and should be treated as such. If you want the HHH angle to succeed (for good or for ill) at least take it seriously enough not to break down all the walls of established characters and make an attempt to not present it as “stupid”.

In other words, lie to me. I am watching a product to escape reality. If JR thinks it sucks, he should keep it to himself. If Lawler can’t keep himself from laughing at the main event, then find someone who can. No one, even Calvin or Sam, will believe in anything if the parties involved will not make an effort to believe. Honesty is not always the best policy – especially when people are not tuning in to hear the truth.

Moving along to Smackdown, I didn’t see the show due to a preemption by the preseason Magic game. Seeing as I had already sat down to watch TV, I flipped between a show about the Hitler Youth and the World Series. Both were very good, in their own way. I am convinced we have a new Hitler Youth in this country, guided by pharmaceutical drugs and incapable of having a normal conversation without dropping in “izzos” and “eezzeys” and I think my opinions can easily be validated, but this is neither the time nor the place. From reports I read, Smackdown once again featured a better brand of action and the appearance of The Big Show as the latest adversary for Brock Lesnar. I’m guessing the replay will be on Sunday, I don’t know. Siegizzo to the Heilizzy, yo.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GAME

Absent for the last few weeks, here is The Rat Diva to provide an alternative to what you hear and read about Hunter

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WWE NEEDS NEW WRITERS!!!

Well, everyone, this is a tough week, even for me.

All I can say is: THE WWE NEEDS NEW WRITERS!

I think that the great majority of us were pleasantly surprised with the wrestling that we saw during the “Vegas Roulette” edition and then it all went down the tubes. As much as I love Triple H and know that he means the best, I simply couldn’t stomach the “sex with a corpse” angle. Who the HELL approves this stuff? We know that TNN gave them the greenlight to go with that angle, and I just can’t understand why!

To quote Dennis Miller, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but COME ON! The talent in the WWE is better than this! When will the WWE realize that there is no more on-television competition and they don’t need to resort to disgusting gimmicks to get ratings? When will they ever get back to good ol’ wrestling? I know that they are “sports entertainment”, but tell me who, outside of a few necrophiliacs, enjoyed that little angle? I think that the majority of us were sickened. There are some lines that one simply cannot cross.

Now, getting back to my beloved Trip Trip, honey, I love you very much, but this particular angle has to go! You’re too good to lower yourself that far! I’ve always thought that Triple H was on the edge and one of the funniest wrestlers out there, but this is too much. It’s sort of like South Park: it really rocked and then they lowered themselves to disgusting the audience instead of entertaining them and it was horrible. Trip’s matches still interest me and are wonderful to watch, but please, no more videos!

Okay, I’ve ranted and probably torked someone off. As always, I expect to get some feedback, but be warned that if you go off on me like some kid on the playground, you’ll hear about it in more ways than one. Swearing does not get your point across!!

Trip’s Living Dead Girl,

The Rat Diva

And there you have it!

So to sum everything up, did WWE go too far and will the viewing public be alienated? I think not. Necrophilia is nothing compared to what is spewed from the evening news or network TV in general. My only request is that WWE has faith in themselves to sell this angle (and all other angles) with a certain amount of conviction and professionalism. Anything less is unacceptable.

Oh and it looks like Lawler has posted his commentary on the issue. Go check it out. “Gone with the Windbag” would suit me just fine

HEADLINES

Stone Cold Steve Austin had his day in court and you know what? It doesn’t f*cking matter, GRUT.

In a continuing story that breaks my heart / pisses me off to no end, Mick Foley a.k.a. my hero Cactus Jack continues to bite the hands that feed him, this time pulling out of a Byte This appearance because of the current products direction i.e the HHH screwing dead Katie Vick angle. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane

Cactus was out and about AGAIN pushing his book and taking every opportunity to say how much the WWF sucks and how the right guys are not getting pushed, blah blah blah. I never thought I would say this but FUCK Mick Foley. I know everyone is entitled to his own opinion and all but ENOUGH ALREADY. I am (or used to be) one of the biggest Foley marks in the world, until he started with this bullshit. Cactus Jack was my favorite from the early 90’s all the way through his ECW days and I really dug his early Mankind character until he became a f*cking goof. Dude Love was even fun to a certain extent and, when booked right, led to two classic matches with Austin. What started my dislike was his appearance at Wrestlemania after a perfect set of matches against HHH that should have (and were supposed to) end his career. Foley defended this in his book by saying “if Vince McMahon asked (these fans) to mow his lawn, they would, etc. To that I say BULLSHIT. Whether we would or wouldn’t is not the point. But I could guaran-goddamn-tee if given the opportunity to do Vince’s yard work, I would make sure to have access to the bathroom, so that I could take a rattlesnake shit and clog up his plumbing AND piss on the toilet seat. Sort of like what Foley is doing now. Vince gives full promotion for all of Mick’s books and gets the shaft. I hope that when the next book comes out, he lets Cactus fend for himself. As far as I’m concerned, he is no better at this point than Sable or Chyna; he just has to piss on Vince standing up, that’s all.

ME!!! – Saturday Evening Post 11.3.01

Wow, looking back that was kind of harsh. Until I stop to think that Foley’s PURPOSE of coming on Byte This was an attempt to get his authordom translated to the buying public, which is WRESTLING FANS who worship the ground he walks on. Hell, one of them is me and I will buy whatever he writes (I have everything so far). I think Cactus is a hell of a writer and damn entertaining. I just find it highly ironic that he spent the majority of Foley is Good defending the product, but know that he is no longer affiliated and is to be taken SERIOUSLY as a WRITER, the WWF/E is no longer a bastion of free speech and expression. The bright side to this, I suppose, is Cactus came off so well on his last talk show appearances they will have him back on his own accord, without needing WWE to make arrangements/shove him down our throats. Good for him and I wish Mick the best, just stop being such a f*cking hypocrite. And if I see or hear one report about him badmouthing WWE well I won’t do a damn thing. I just want to go on the record that my feelings and image of Cactus have changed drastically over the past year or so and it feels to me like a kick in the balls. Hell, I even made a few comments here. Wade through some bullshit but business picks up around page 2. Let’s move along

In lighter news, rumor has it that Big Bad Booty Daddy Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner is now an official member of WWE. Because the IWC is a bunch of rumor mongering pricks, WWE.com decided just to go ahead and tell us, as opposed to trying to keep it a secret and definitely sparing us from the dreaded “sources say” comment attached to said IWC reports. What Poppa Daddy’s role in this whole thing is has yet to be determined but it is being assumed that he will go to RAW to shore up what is considered a lack of marketable talent on WWE’s flagship show. I ain’t crazy about Booty Pump’s impending role as a “face” just because he makes such a good prick but the top heel role is already filled. I guess this also quells the rumors that HHH was keeping Big Daddy Bad Poppa Booty from signing to protect his position. I will go on record now and place the over under at THREE WEEKS before someone mentions how he is getting “held back” and / or “how his backstage attitude is preventing him from getting a major push and that is the reason that HHH is suggesting he be relegated to the mid card”. Yes, stupidity and the know-it-alls are going to jump all over this one at he first sign of imagined trouble. Whatever. I just hope he kept the old “I ain’t gonna pin him, I’m going to do PUSHUPS instead!” thing in his moveset. Between that, his unintelligible interviews and his portly valet Midaja, Big Booty Poppa Daddy Pump should make for some good entertainment.

FLEA IS NICE

If you have never visited Rick Scaia’s site OnlineOnslaught.com, I suggest you go do so. You may remember Rick from the days of Wrestleline or even before that, Wrestlemaniacs, which to this day, stands out as one of my favorite websites during that time period. So after you get done reading me, go see The Rick. Tell em Flea sent ya!

ROLL THE DICE

Phil Mushnick is at it again badmouthing Vince and wrestling again and the most marvelous thing about this is that on line people are changing their tune about the “Katie Vick” angle, just so they won’t be on record as agreeing with anything Mushnick says. Now THAT’S f*cking funny.

In a quick Ross Report note, JR talks about the signing of Scott Steiner and how the “internet” got it wrong about how long the talks have been going on between the two parties. This sent one high profile member of the IWC straight to the keyboard to put out a disclaimer about how JR gets all pissy when “sources” say things that get reported and how this person was RIGHT all along. What does this prove? Who knows, but I know if you REALLY want to impress me, publish the name of your sources. But you can’t, can you? The response when this is asked is normally “people won’t go on record for fear of losing their jobs”. Well then, doesn’t that make what they tell you WRONG to a certain degree? I mean, why risk losing your job over telling someone that “Booty Daddy has been talking to Vince since July”. Name the sources, that’s all I ask.

While I’m on the topic, I see a report of a “memo” that Vince sent to his writers and creative people that “continues the direction” they are currently going, as in more soap operaish stuff”. I ask that if such a memo does exist that someone please publish a version on line. You must have seen it, right? Or did someone just tell you about it? I would like to see a copy, if in fact one exists. Name the sources and SHOW ME THE MEMO! And THAT’S all I ask!

IN OTHER WORDS

E.C. will be around with a Byte This recap and hopefully provide his opinions about this whole Foley fiasco. I look forward to reading it and you should check it out, so sayeth Flea.

HEY! BOSS has a new Voice of Reason available!

Don’t forget about the Games Section, Music (where Flea apparently is nevermind), Movies and figures and TV Reports and Video Reviews and the list goes on and on and on and on and on an on and on and oh shit! Go check out the Forum!

PAGE SIX

I’M INTRODU (Caps off dildo) I’m introducing a new feature here to The Saturday Matinee which will be a From the Flea’s Bag section of things I have read and liked over the past several years. These will all pertain to the nice little Internet Wrestling Community and will feature various legendary (for reasons few can understand) and infamous figures of the IWC, complete and unedited. And man, do I have line-up of goodies for you

One quick note oops..wait before I forget

HEY E.C! Sometime this year with my request Unca Ed. I don’t need E.C. standing for E.verybody’s gonna be waiting until C.hristmas before Flea gets what he wants! Your batting second in this line-up so c’mon! And no need to remind me that I LOST the first one you sent me way back when. Next week if you can, Thanks! And Hugs and Kisses!

See Hyatte? Not all inside jokes are about you. Badminton, ha ha ha OH HYATTE! Chop! Chop!

As I was typing, one quick note about this journey down memory lane. I have attempted to contact the parties I will be publishing, but some email addresses were invalid and/or I never heard from said parties. So when in doubt, just go ahead and do it, which I will. If anyone wants to cry the blues about “copyrights and legalities” bitch to ME, not BOSS or Hashish. On second thought, just say thanks! Don’t get any bright idears about trying to sue me / 411, or something silly like that. Trust me on that one

So without further ado let’s get this baby kicked of with a piece by everyone’s favorite curmudgeon ERIC S! He pays homage to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a fine little piece called Fear and Loathing in Houston (note his comments about Gimme Shelter and worship Flea for tying this column together so nicely. The rest of you are f*cking hacks .)

You know where to find Eric .enjoy!

FROM THE FLEA’S BAG – featuring Eric S.

Fear And Loathing In Houston, Or The Death Of The Smart Mark’s Dream…

We were just outside of Tulsa, on the edge of the oil fields, when the drugs began to take hold…

Well, my drugs anyway. I was prepared for this nonsense that’d happen when we hit Houston and fortified myself with a handful of Prevacid, washed down with about a gallon of Labatt’s that my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster had been able to get past Customs. Why he wasted time bringing non-import Labatt’s instead of something more important that they have in Canada but we don’t in the US, like free quality health care, was beyond me, but that’s why my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster’s a f*ckhead. However, the f*ckhead at least brought real beer, which was stored in the trunk of the Big Blue Roadkill Machine right next to the “THE ROCK SUCKS, AND I DARE YOU TO TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME” sign and the MAC-11 with extra clips that I was bringing into the Astrodome to make sure that Maivia never wrestles again, the half-Samoan gimp.

Ah, the Big Blue Roadkill Machine. Two and a half tons of dark blue Detroit engineering taken Earthly form as a sleek, road-hugging convertible monster that I got off some blond pimp named Race in Kansas City for a song. That was the plan, anyway. I’d meet up with my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster in KC, then we’d drive down to Houston, and I’d get the car for it. Well, screw rentals. I just gave Race some hundreds and drove away with this thing. For some stupid, f*cked-up reason, my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster wanted to see the United States. I told him that the part of the United States we were driving through looked just like f*cking Alberta between Edmonton and Calgary, but he didn’t believe me. Said it would generate some ideas for articles and filler material for his “new book” (now why he’s got a book contract and I don’t, that’s another issue). I got my revenge for his stupidity by chloroforming him, taking him to that all-gay truckers’ motel in Oklahoma City, chaining him to the bed face-down, and posting a sign saying “PUBLISHED AUTHOR, EXPERIENCED IN PEDDLING ASS. CANADIAN DOLLARS ACCEPTED”.

“As your webmaster, I didn’t appreciate you doing that to me in Oklahoma City,” he whined as I pushed the Machine up to 90, narrowly dodging the dozen flying luchadores wearing Gummi Bear masks that were blowing spots in the road in front of me. Why do they allow Mexican wrestlers on an Interstate?! And why didn’t I think of combining Prevacid with Canadian beer before this? I’d have saved a fortune on mescaline, blond hash, peyote buttons, and videotapes of the 2000 Presidential election coverage.

“Balls! Would you rather have hairy smelly truckers up there, or publishing house editors?” I responded. “At least the truckers have enough manners to say ‘thank you’ afterward!”

“As your webmaster, I must inform you that I’m a published author, and some of them might have read my previous book.”

“Not even truckers are dumb enough to be the target audience for that after what the gimps in New York did to it.” That shut him up. So I pushed the Machine to an even hundred. The miles started to really get eaten up. Houston was closing in.

Ah, Houston. Wrestlemania. It was important that we see this one, and that we see it live. Vinnie Mac had just accomplished the impossible. He’d used his money and his brass balls to take over the entire North American wrestling scene, and this was going to be the coronation. As Internet Wrestling Celebrities, we were guaranteed good places at the front row of a scene of incredible decadence, depravity, and expressions of raw, f*ck-you-level, power. And I had to be there to see something that was at the level of audience contempt as the main event. Feeding the fans swill under the guise that it’s “what they want”. The last time I got a vibe like that was from the Iran-Contra hearings, Oliver North yanking out his Marine dick and pissing all over Congress. For a scene like this, you just can’t watch on Pay-Per-View. So maybe my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster was right. Driving through the shithole of America, or as much of it as you can see from a dark blue convertible doing a hundred down I-35, was putting me in the right mood to cover this bit of atavistic swill.

That swine Becker had made all the arrangements after we got his head out of Misawa’s ass for a second to have him realize there’s this country called the United States. Fucking puro freaks, totally clueless. After making a few calls, he said our credentials would be waiting for us down there, and Botter would have a couple tickets for the event itself in his sweaty hands. I quickly realized that Botter did the music thing as a sidelight, and I knew he’d already be f*cked up when we got there. I patted my jacket pocket, and my Taser was still there. One false move, and Botter would get his.

My three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster was getting in the mood too. He drained a can of Molson in one gulp, then tossed the can out the window. Letting out a large belch, he proceeded to open another one. I knew that look in his eye. He was watching the fires off the tops of the wells, remembering how the Edmonton Mob, a software company’s trained commandos, and a secret group of power brokers who spent time justifying Hell In A Cell II as one of the greatest matches ever had firebombed him out of his place. He was getting off on having a bad drunk. That’s when I knew that the fun was just starting.

“As your webmaster, I have to inform you that we’ve entered Texas.” He was right. A big “WELCOME TO TEXAS, GEORGE W. BUSH, GOVERNOR” sign started to appear in front of me. I took a full can of Molson, gave it aim, and launched it at the sign, whereupon it exploded in a shower of Canadian brew and aluminum shards.

“Fuck you! It’s been two f*cking months! Change the goddamn sign already!” I screamed. I wanted to plow the Machine through the f*cker, but I realized that it’d throw us off schedule.

“As your webmaster, I don’t understand why you have such indignation toward your president.” The fat f*ck finally spoke up. I thought he was dead for a minute and I’d have to abandon him in a truck stop toilet, where they wouldn’t notice or care.

“Will it make you happy if I set a picture of Jean Chretien on fire?” I asked, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it for effect.

“As your webmaster, I have to inform you that cigarettes cause cancer.”

“So does life. Who f*cking cares? The whole goddamn Bush family screws their pants on in the morning, including Bar. That’s why I f*cking hate them. We’ll never know what went on with that secret mission to Iran in 1980, Iran-Contra, Silverado Bank, and who blew who in Florida last year. They’re toxic. That’s why I asked you to sponsor me for a residency permit.”

“As your webmaster, I have to remind you that we’re in Texas.”

“You already told me that.”

“As your webmaster, I think it might be prudent to slow down a little.”

I looked at the speedometer. We were doing a healthy 105 at this point.

“In metric, I’m still doing the speed limit, so we’re fine. If a cop comes after us, I’ll just put your ass behind the wheel, he’ll see your Canadian license, and you can tell him that you thought the big numbers on the dial were for kilometers.”

“As your webmaster, I must inform you that this seems like a logical, intelligent plan.”

“And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just get out the three-hole inflatable Lana Starr doll we’ve got in the trunk for Botter and let them have a go with it. I lived here for two f*cking years. I know how to deal with Texas cops.”

“As your webmaster, I will defer to your local knowledge.”

“Yeah, just sit there, swill beer, and decide whether you’re going to give Benoit/Angle **** 1/2 or **** 3/4.”

“As your webmaster, I must inform you that I do not give out match ratings before the match is completed.”

“Bullshit! Involve a Canadian in a match, and you’ve already pre-judged it!”

“As your webmaster…”

“Shut up and keep drinking your goddamn beer.”

I’ll give it to him, he did shut up until we had to make a decision on which branch of 35 to take. I chose to go west, through Fort Worth, rather than east through Dallas.

“As your webmaster, I have to question your decision to go through Fort Worth rather than Dallas.”

“I lived in f*cking Dallas for a couple years. I never want to go back to Dallas ever again. The Sportatorium was torn down years ago! There’s nothing to see there unless you’re one of those weirdos who hang around Dealey Plaza trying to conjure up the ghosts of the Tramp and the second gunman! Unless you want to go and worship in front of Frito-Lay headquarters, thanking them for your junk food fixes.”

“As your webmaster, I must inform you that I don’t eat junk food very often.”

“Yeah, your roommate named after the inert gas sucks it all down before you can get a hold of it.”

As we were clearing Fort Worth, we both realized that we needed to fill the tank up and take a couple of wicked pisses from all that beer. So I pulled into this truck stop and provided for the Machine first. After paying a ridiculous amount for gas (in f*cking Texas? Who says this country isn’t going downhill?!), my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster and I stopped in the restroom to drain our tanks. I swear I saw at least two guys wink at my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster when we were at the urinals, but it might have been just another Prevacid vision. At least I restrained from hitting him with a lead pipe and abandoning him like I considered doing earlier. He restocked on junk food, including a bag of Doritos (you f*cking liar!), and we headed back to the Machine.

While getting back in, we saw this kid wearing a Crippler T-shirt approach the Machine. I made sure that one hand was on the Taser as he came up to us. He said that he knew who we were from our very few publicly available photos, and proceeded to name us. Okay, so the kid’s an Internet smark, I thought. Said his name was Harris and that he was headed down to Houston, but had blown most of his money on the ticket and was hitching. Wondered if he could get a ride with us. “It’d be an honor,” he said. He looked clean and healthy, and I calculated my chances of ending up in a ditch by the side of the road to be minimal. I said fine, so he hopped in the back seat. We squealed out of the parking lot when I realized that the gas nozzle was still in the tank and I’d torn it off. So I flicked my cigarette out of the Machine, and I could feel the heat on the back of my neck as we drove away while the gas station went up in a fireball. Harris was a little shocked at this.

“This is Texas,” I explained. “This stuff happens all the time down here. Don’t you read the newspapers? Besides, Wrestlemania is Decadent and Depraved, and so we must be as well.”

Harris didn’t respond, but he grabbed a Molson and passed two up to us. I was back to a hundred and five again in no time, and we were getting closer. To get more in the mood, I set the CD player in the Machine to play a continuous loop of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”. I let Jagger’s voice and the magnificently-paired guitars of Keith Richards and Mick Taylor set the mood. Impending doom. That’s the reason why nothing off Let It Bleed has died after thirty years of oversaturation by so-called “classic radio”. Like they said on another track on that album, sometimes you get what you need. And what I needed was to feel the anger and misery that I knew was in me the moment they started setting up this goddamn Bataan Death March of a card for what was once the biggest show of the year.

Hell, I could get into a whole different rant about why music and radio sucks wind so badly today. Except that that freak Bob Morris got there before me, and since he’s pimping himself to Jann Wenner to get on the staff of Rolling Stone as resident musical fussbudget, I’ll let him do that whole doom trip. Shit, I’d rather work for Bob Ryder than Jann Wenner any day.

We were right around Waco when Harris revealed that he had a website, and had I ever seen it. He said that he and his friends were doing some great work over there and that they all admired me. I told him that the last thing I needed was a bunch of amateurs being slavish, pissant little imitations of the real thing. He then asked me if I’d consider submitting something to him. “It’d be an honor,” he said again. I wondered if that’s the only thing the guy could say.

“People say that I already write for too many websites as it is. This would just give them more ammo against me. I’ve got the assholes at the Thread Literary Review on my case all the damn time about what I do, and you want them and the other f*cksticks to start lobbing bricks at me from another direction. And we’re nice enough to let you have some of our beer. Fucking Texans.”

“As your webmaster, I must remind you that you’re on a non-exclusive contract, and can write for anyone you want.” Glad to see he got his face out of the goddamn Doritos for a second.

“Yes, but this assignment is for you. We’re not only having a look at Wrestlemania, we’re also trying to see what kind of country could produce a soulless monster like the World Wrestling Federation. That is something that only I can do.”

“We could give you better play on this one than the other sites you write for,” Harris said. “We’ll make sure that it gets out on time.”

“As his webmaster, I have to explain that Botter’s doing serious amounts of smack, and that accounts for the slowness of posting. It’s a shame, but he does manage the place quite well when he’s not shooting up.” Oh, that’s good. Reveal the fact that Botter needs a trip to Betty Ford to another webmaster. It’ll be all over the Net within a day or so, and that’ll completely blow our credibility. Next thing you know, you’ll start telling everyone our other secrets, like that Baidsen’s one of the biggest importers of jimson weed into the US, or that Richardson makes his living picking up sailors, or that Becker regularly sacrifices dogs and cats to his Riki Choshu shrine. Canadians. We should have ended this off in 1814 and been done with it.

“And why do you think the WWF’s a soulless monster?” Harris asked. “They’re putting out a good card this year. I’m really psyched up to see it.”

“Give it a rest,” I said. “They can’t think of anything better for Trip to do than f*ck with UT?”

“What else? He can’t be in the main event.”

I wanted to slap Bobo the Simpleminded straight across the face and throw him into the dirt for that one, but I restrained. “Yes, he could. He’s a proven draw. They didn’t need the main that they have right now. And the way they set it up was a piece of unadulterated bullshit. They can show all the one-on-one interviews with Jim Ross that the world could stand, and it still doesn’t change the situation that there’s no overriding issue.”

“As your webmaster, I could inform you that you could appreciate it for the match itself and not for the sports entertainment aspect of it.”

“Look, shithead, if you give this thing more than two snowflakes, I’ll have to have you kidnapped and sent to the nearest available mental institution. One guy’s 36 and never recovered from a broken neck. The other guy’s a talentless stiff who couldn’t spell ‘sell’ if he was given the ‘s’ and ‘e’. And yet they’re both inexplicably popular. This, more than anything, is an indictment of the intelligence of Americans.”

“As your webmaster, I have to inform you that the main responsibility for that is Vince McMahon’s, for promoting them to the public and giving them a forum for possible popularity.”

“And you’d kill for him to do that with Benoit and Jericho, wouldn’t you? Well, why aren’t they facing each other? Why is more promotion being given to Vince and his little crown prince than to your precious Benoit?”

“From what I remember, that wasn’t what you were saying about him after Pillman last year. You said you saw God.” Oh, great, f*cking Harris in the backseat’s memorized all my goddamn columns. I should have never written that goddamn thing after splitting a cap of acid with that hippie f*cker Colton. The guy had a good connection, though; best acid I’ve ever had, and best match I’ve ever seen live, even after sobering up.

“Benoit deserves to get pushed. But in the WWF, personality counts for ten points on the judge’s final ballot and workrate only counts for five. He’ll constantly lose given that basis for scoring, even with Kishi on the panel.”

“As your webmaster, I wondered when you’d get the first Iron Chef reference in.”

“Speaking of that, can’t you get control over that Macarena asshole and tell him to start doing recaps again? Jesus, the show’s gone into f*cking reruns already. It’s your goddamn site! Of course, he’s another Canadian, isn’t he, so you won’t stop Botter from nodding off long enough to get him under control, huh?”

“What do you have against Canadians?” Harris asked me.

“Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that they tend to watch out for themselves first, and everything else later. They’re thirty million little mafiosi. If you’re not part of La Familia, forget it. They sabotaged Dillard’s DSL line, you know, just because neither he nor Hyatte were Canadian. That’s the real reason why you haven’t heard The Edge lately. They can’t touch Meltzer or Wrestlethis, though, so our Internet airwaves are safe.”

“As your webmaster, I must tell you that you have a distorted view of…”

“If I asked you for your opinion, I’d have e-mailed you and told you what it should be. You’re still not recovered from the Dear John column that Scaia did on you, are you?”

Again, that shut him up long enough for me to get some peaceful mileage behind us. I was able to get some target practice in with my .357 Magnum on some road signs (a Texas tradition, so Harris/Bobo in the backseat said), but I ran out of ammo. Fortunately, this was Texas, so I pulled off 35 and found a conveniently-located gun shop. Five minutes later, I walked out with a load of .357 dum-dum reloads, a few more magazines for the MAC-11, some extra batteries for the Taser, and a LAW with a dozen incendiary rockets. No ID required, no waiting period. I love Texas.

“As your webmaster, I have to ask you why you need an anti-tank weapon,” he asked as I put the LAW in the front seat, one rocket already loaded.

“Because I am a professional who takes pride in my work. I must have the proper tools to work with. If the Gimmick Battle Royal starts being unfunny, I must have the capability to take out the entire ring at once. Only a LAW with incendiary rockets will do.”

I could see the fear show up on Harris’ face. He knew that I was capable of doing it. He also knew that I was justified in doing it. If they play that thing seriously, I start with the pyro. That’s when I knew that I’d have to take Harris out. He was a good kid, though, so I just drained the battery of my Taser into him and let him twitch unconsciously in the backseat after duct-taping his mouth, hands, and ankles. After reloading the Taser, we were back on track.

“As your webmaster, I must state that you might have committed felony battery on our young hitchhiker.”

“He’ll understand that it was my tribute to Hall and Goldberg.”

The rest of the trip passed relatively quietly. I was able to test the LAW by taking out a roadside tourist-ripoff boot shop, a staple of Texas architecture if I remember correctly from my time as a resident, and I only had to give Harris a couple more shots with the Taser to keep him quiet. My three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster just kept downing the Labatt’s and decided to take out a few road signs with the Magnum when he finally got into mean-drunk mode, but I neglected to tell him about the kick and he knocked himself unconscious when the gun hit him in the face after he fired at a speed limit sign. He stayed out until we hit the outskirts of Houston.

We finally made it to the Astrodome and found a place to park the Machine. My three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster went over to the box office to get our press credentials while I decided to have a look around. Harris had said that he was going to be meeting someone here, some guy named Haggard who looked like a weasel. One look at the crowd and I knew that it’d be tough to spot Haggard. Everyone looked like weasels. Dregs of humanity, a huge crowd of impressively ugly fat women in tight T-shirts, men who had seen better days with beer bellies bulging out of Brahma Bull and Game Over Ts who were convinced that a goatee with two days’ growth everywhere else made them look more like men, children who were obviously suffering from Congenital Syphillis Or Other Birth Defects Too Hideous To Mention…all in all, a cross-section of the worst American society has to offer. Marks one and all, stepping up to the trough to be fed the atavistic swill of a hideous main event calculated to appeal to the most base instincts of the American Wrestling Fan. And none of them even knew it. They’ve been conditioned for so long to think that Vinnie Knows Best that they couldn’t see the weaknesses, the flaws, the lack of both Wrestling and Sports Entertainment. I got upset for not picking up the twenty kilos of C-4 that the gun salesman had in the backroom. I could have waited for the Astrodome to fill, then blew the f*cker up and improved the American Gene Pool for generations to come.

Turns out that I didn’t have to look for this Haggard guy. He found me. Ye Gods, another one of them who recognizes me. I should have shot Johnston full of adrenochrome and programmed him to suicide-bomb Zach Arnold’s house before letting him put up that photo of me. Haggard did look like a weasel, some guy who spent his time pimping farm animals to Texans too out of it to realize that there’s more of a difference between women and sheep than the fact that sheep can’t cook. I led him over to the Machine and dumped Harris out of the backseat, telling Haggard that he could remove the duct tape at his leisure. He was about to either call for the police or begin a chant to some ancient South American war god, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and gave him a double-arm DDT on the concrete. Forty-six times. I rolled them for cash or anything else that I could think of, then kicked their bodies under one of the nine billion pick-ups parked around me, all of them with gun racks and Republican-related bumper stickers, and unloaded the trunk. Two Lightweight Magnesium Kitbags easily held the laptop, the MAC-11, the LAW, and the reloads. The Taser stayed in my pocket. After all, I might have wanted to patrol Axxess, get in line to get an autograph from Flex, and give him a taste…

But that thought went out of my mind when my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster came back with our press credentials. He said there was no problem after showing the addle-brained idiot at Press Relations a copy of his book and the contract he had with his New York bobos to write one on them. So we pinned them on and started to wander around, trying to find Botter. He had our tickets to the event itself, and we needed those to get in, dammit! Two hours of fruitless looking through crowds smelling worse than the Paris Metro on a hot August day later, we still hadn’t found him. We were only an hour from the start, and my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster was starting to go batshit. I just popped a couple peyote buttons, some Ibogaine, and a few mescaline tabs and watched the crowd melt and turn into the swine that they really were. Step up! Step up! Get your fill of garbage and waste, all courtesy of Vincent Kennedy McMahon Junior, Supreme Overlord Of American wrestling! Feed yourselves on the afterproduct of bad angles, insufficent setups, and plans carefully calculated to make the audience happy while ignoring the fact that there’s no substance! See Austin and Maivia get it on! See the Dudleys, the Hardys, and the Blonds kill themselves again for your pleasure! Come one, come all! I’ve spent enough time in slaughterhouses watching hogs meet their doom to know when the Judas Goat’s leading them to the knives. Fortunately, I’m intelligent enough to know not to follow. I am here only to observe.

But the act of observing disturbs the observed, doesn’t it? Some Kraut freak named Heisenberg said that seventy-five years ago in a set of theories that were designed to mind-f*ck every Physics student from now until the end of Eternity. What did this mean, though? Did it mean that even if I only observed, was I still part of them? Was I one of the swine, one of the marks waiting to be fed the refuse from Vinnie Mac’s table? I refused to acknowledge that. I refused to put myself on that level. I still had a mind of my own. I could still criticize the decision on what the main event should be. I was not a follower. I was not a passive consumer…

I was, though, interrupted by my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster, who told me that he’d found Botter. So I hauled the Kitbags with me and walked to a darkened corner, where Botter stood. Looked exactly like I knew he would. Long stringy hair and the bad breath that instantly tells One In The Know that you’re a hopeless heroin addict. Dressed up in an imitation of grunge, which was an imitation of punk, which was an imitation of the hippies no matter how much they tried to believe that wasn’t true. This was shit that the Salvation Army had rejected. How the hell did he run a website respected around the world for its wrestling coverage?! He gave us our tickets and then started to wander away, wrapped up in his opiate-saturated self-contained world.

“You brought him in to run the site?” I asked.

“As your webmaster, I must inform you that he’s very, very good at his job. However, as your webmaster, I have to inform you of a very disquieting situation.”

“What now?”

“As your webmaster, my command of dates is impeccable, and I’m afraid to tell you that these tickets are for last year’s Wrestlemania.”

“YOU FUCKER!” I shouted to Botter, who was shambling out of our sightlines and melding back into the crowd. “YOU SMACK-ADDLED HOPELESS ASSWIPE!! YOU CAN’T GET YOUR YEARS STRAIGHT! YOU RUN A FUCKING MAJOR WEBSITE AND YOU CAN’T GET YOUR YEARS STRAIGHT!!!”

“As your webmaster, I must inform you of two situations. First of all, you’re causing a commotion in the crowd and there are some people walking over to a security guard at this moment. Second of all, I have to admit that this is not an unexpected situation. He does have a tendency to be late.”

“A YEAR LATE?! This is almost as bad as his posting of my Kellner column.”

“As your webmaster, I think that you lucked out on that one. If it had been posted shortly after you submitted it, then it would have lost its immediacy when Kellner cancelled WCW programming a day and a half after it was posted.”

“You can justify any damn thing if it suits you, can’t you?”

“As your webmaster, I have the power to do so. But this still leaves us with the vexing problem of having no tickets.”

I rummaged through my pockets for a second. Ah, yes, there they were. The tickets that I’d taken off of Harris and Haggard before I dumped them under the pickup. “Problem solved,” I told my three-hundred pound Canadian webmaster. “We can get into the domed abbatoir now. And our press passes will give us free reign once we get inside. I’ll scout out possible firebases while you interview some of the backstage cretins for your alleged book.”

“As your webmaster, I have to tell you that you have some use after all.” With that, he took one of the tickets and started walking toward the Press Entrance.

I just stood there with the Magnesium Kitbags in hand, looking at the ticket. Should I go through with this? Should I be a party to this whole idiotic charade? Or should I just stuff this whole experience in a goddamn bottle and send it off with the Japanese current? If I did that, could I fit those swine Becker and Arnold into the bottle? They’d enjoy it.

No, I realized that I had to be a part of this. With all of the changes that the industry experienced over the month prior to this, Wrestlemania X-Seven (an abortion of a name, to be certain) was going to be The Seminal Event, The Line of Demarcation, The End Of One Era And The Start Of Another. I had to be here. When the end comes for Vinnie Mac, as the end inevitably comes for any empire from Rome to Microsoft, I can write the history from the beginning, from April 1st, 2001. After all, they can’t dig up that deluded old Nazi Albert Speer to do it. But when the end comes, he might be the only one qualified enough to do so. God knows that Hitler’s trip is going to be an apt comparison when that day comes.

Ye Gods. That was pretentious, wasn’t it? You know, maybe I’ll just write about some goddamn motorcycle race next time…

With apologies to The Doktor, of course, and to all Internet Wrestling Personalities presented in here, who naturally bear no resemblance to the people presented in this column…well, except for Becker. Watch your pets when he’s around, folks.

* * * * * * * *

I always liked that one. Hope you did too

This has been The Saturday Matinee and I’m Flea.