Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 01.21.03

Democrats flock to Iowa – cnn.com headline

At least I won’t be alone.

Wellllll…I wouldn’t say I was around for “a while”, unless you mean today and tomorrow.  Okay, here’s the agenda:  column today and tomorrow, tell everyone at my current job to piss off and go to hell on Friday, pack up some clothes and a cheap laptop, or maybe my box, on Saturday (although how I’m going to hide the Big Black Monolith from 2001 that is my tower in order for it not to get stolen, not to mention the Dude, You’re Getting A 21″ Monitor, beats the shit out of me), leave Sunday morning, check into somewhere as yet undetermined on Sunday evening, and show up at the new job on Monday.  As I’ve said, the temporary future of this column depends on three factors:  1) TNN at wherever I’m staying, 2) immediate Net access at work, and 3) whether I can set up the damn computer in time.  If I can send mail to WidShish and/or Fleabag on Monday to give them the heads-up that the stars have fallen in line, you’ll see me here next week.  Otherwise, I’m on hiatus until such time as I can get all of the above arranged (not to mention arrange somewhere to live out in Iowisconsota).

Glad we cleared that up.

Now I have to make time to go out and get a new sound card.  Thank God that thing blew and not one of the speakers on my nice Altec-Lansing set…

…oh, yeah, for those of you who can’t stand stuff like that, and you know who you are, tough shit.  My personal life’s more interesting than anything the WWE can crank out.  And to verify that premise…

IT’S EITHER TALKING ABOUT RR OR THE GRUDEN BOWL

The latter of which I don’t give one hair on a bunny’s tail about, other than to ask “Does someone HAVE to win that game?”  At least last year I was stuck in Chicago Midway Airport watching the game from a bar while my flight to Tampa was delayed.  Maybe I could really luck out and have no television at wherever I’m being put up.  I’m not sure if the area’s moved beyond shadow puppets for visual entertainment, so there’s always that possibility.

Now what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah, Royal Rumble.  Of course, my policy stays in effect:  I’m not giving WWE PPV money except at gunpoint, and maybe not even then.  So, like after virtually every PPV, I’m going to simply kibitz about the booking.

Let me start by playing the same old broken record that I’m been putting on the turntable for the last three years (kids, ask your parents about the “broken record” part).  The Royal Rumble match should not, repeat NOT, result in an automatic title shot at WM.  That caveat takes away all the mystery from the RR match if you had been paying attention to the booking for the previous month or two and/or listened to a bunch of promos (which should have given you an indication that Jericho had no chance).  Lesnar was such a lock to win that he should have had “MASTER” stenciled across his ass.  This, of course, destroys any mystery for No Way Out if Angle’s challenged for the title (*coughUndertweenercough*).  So, by leaving that proscription in, they’ve accomplished pissing on two PPVs.

The Royal Rumble match stip was perfectly fine when you only had five PPVs a year, and the next one after RR was Wrestlemania.  But now you have a dead-ass February PPV in No Way Out that you have to drum up some excitement for, and there’s none to come.  No Way Out has proven to be DOA every year.  Even hot-shotting titles at No Way Out hasn’t worked to create anything resembling interest.  So how is it that they’ve managed to make Armageddon, which is in the same type of situation (sandwiched between two majors), relatively interesting but not No Way Out?  Simple.  No Way Out is a speedbump on the Road to Wrestlemania.  Royal Rumble’s hype is relatively subdued compared to the continuous drumbeats for WM.  Also, the booking for RR is a lot more flexible.  The only way to make No Way Out interesting is to replicate that approach and not telegraph the booking for WM.  And the thing that’s flashing the giant Morse Code messages to the audience about the booking is the goddamn automatic title shot.

WWE has to face a simple fact:  eliminate the automatic title shot or get rid of No Way Out.  They won’t get rid of a PPV, so it falls to the former choice.  They had a perfect chance to find some sort of substitution courtesy of the Brand Extension (and even use of the Brand Extension would have been acceptable; how about “Winner gets to be a free agent”?).  They ended up screwing the pooch again by going for the safe and comfortable option.  Thanks to his complete and total victory, with the titular heads of his two main competitors drawing paychecks signed by him, Vince has grown fat and happy.  He has decided to kick back and enjoy the spoils without remembering that it was his risk-taking that put him into this position.  Throw in the fact that the booking’s been pathetic (to be charitable), and it’s an aesthetic disaster that’s driving away the audience.

Gee, I’ve been looking at my e-mail, and I’ve found something very interesting.  I was expecting a flood of mail from all the Big Sump Pump fans who’ve been bitching at me for the past four months every time I dared to go off and say that Steiner was the wrestling equivalent of Ebola virus saying things like “Sorry, Eric” or “You were right, I was wrong” or “We should have listened to you in the first place instead of being stupidly blinded by him.”.  But there hasn’t been one word from those people.  Where are you now, folks?  Where are your defenses for what Big Sump Pump did on Sunday, hitting a .95 Bagwell on the Fucked-Up Match Meter (the Jackie Gayda Incident was only a .9)?  Unlike Keith, I got hate mail over my stance, so I want my recompense for the shit that I received.  I want to see some groveling and more mea culpas than an Introductory Latin class.  God, I should give a Collective Retroactive You’re A Moron to anyone who wrote into me defending Steiner.  In fact, consider it done.  All of you deserve it.

Okay, so Angle/Benoit is MOTY material (like we wouldn’t have expected that).  However, I’ll still quibble with the booking and back up what I said in the Round Table.  Benoit should have gone over (you could have done it by fluke after the skills they demonstrated).  Yeah, we all know that he would have dropped the title to Angle at No Way Out, but this way he would have had a one-month test drive with the belt, just to see what he could do with it.  If the reaction was positive, then let him get the belt again at Summerslam and give him an extended run.  All I’m wondering about right now is if the afterglow from that match can somehow stick to Our Lord and Savior and keep him over.  The problem with the whole situation is that he needs time to work his magic, and he sure as hell won’t get fifteen a week on Smackdown.  I don’t want to see another Benoit Acceptance pissed away due to Smackdown’s “matches for hyperactive children” time booking.

It’s also thanks to No Way Out that the Road To Wrestlemania remains unpaved and muddy.  Right now, thanks to the myopic booking that they consider necessary to keep pace with twelve PPVs a year, we only have two matches essentially cemented for WM.  One of them is Angle/Lesnar, which everyone had on their dance card since Lesnar hit the bigs.  The other one is Shane/Bischoff.  Okay, Bisch is a black belt and we all know how Shane bumps, so it won’t be intolerable.  However, it’s a damn shame that this match’s setup is taking priority over everything else because WWE can’t do any type of long-term planning, being in a constant state of ratings-related panic.

One of the main reasons I’m leaving the trained chimpanzees at my place of employment behind is their total lack of long-term planning (that and higher pay, lower cost of living, better job duties, more potential for growth…okay, it might not be a main reason, but it sure as hell is a reason).  You can only live for the moment for so long before those moments start catching up with you.  There’s a difference between booking on the fly and rebooking on the fly.  Fans will forgive you if someone gets injured and there has to be a rethink, or an angle goes horribly wrong and the abort button has to be pushed.  Fans will not forgive you if their sense of reality is jerked around every week in the search for the New Big Thing that will attract the casual audience back, or if show after show just seems to be thrown together for no apparent reason.

I’m bored with the whole thing.  Let’s get on to other topics.

IF YOU’RE BORED, THEN WHY IS THE SHORT FORM NEXT?

Because I couldn’t think of anything else to write at prep.  Duh.

Match Results:

Rob Van Dam over Jeffykins (Pinfall, backslide):  Spot, spot, bullshit, spot, bullshit, bullshit, spot, spot, no-sell each others’ finishers, bullshit, spot, stupid ending.  And a quasi-heel-turn by Hardy to boot.  What’s the thinking behind that?  “Well, it worked for his brother…”?

The Commonwealth Connection over Buh Buh Ray and D-Von Dudley, Tag Titles “Match” (Pinfall, Regal pins Buh Buh Ray, uh…SE Moment?):  And thank you for the Dusty Finish that made my prediction in the Round Table come true.

Trish Stratus and Hurri-lame Helms over Victoria and Stevie Richards (Pinfall, Stratus pins Victoria, Stratusfaction):  Silver lame?  Burgundy velour?  WWE’s ring attire designer needs to be shot.  Or at least replaced by Kwee Wee.

Booker T and Goldust over Three-Moron Warning (Pinfall, Booker pins Jamal, scissors kick):  Time-filler, and BookDust deserves better.  No need to comment further on this.

Chris Jericho versus Test (ND):  My Beautiful and Beloved can sure do one helluva stretcher job, can’t she?  I’m so proud of her.

D’Lo Brown over Tommy Dreamer, Kendo Stick Match (Pinfall, LoDown):  How long has it been since Teddy Long’s been a manager?  Six, seven years?  And it looks like he’s become a Subway Man and a Jared Fan since he was last in ref’s stripes.  He must have dropped about eighty pounds or so.  He looks like someone just out of chemotherapy.  Also, if they’re going through with this race thing for D’Lo, I think that he shouldn’t make the MLK thing just a special circumstance.  “Free at last, free at last, free to kick a white boy’s ass” is a damn good catchphrase and one worth keeping.  Can you imagine the audience chanting that when he’s turned face?

Angle Developments:

Why Is He Still Employed?:  I swear to God, every time I hear Big Sump Pump say “freaks”, I can feel Tod Browning spinning in his grave.

An SE Moment Worth Savoring:  Full, unadulterated credit to Sean Morley and Nick Patrick for pulling off that whole skit to perfection.  Yeah, Buh Buh Ray got the good lines (and almost completely lost it when the audience started the tables chant), but without those two doing a great job, it wouldn’t have worked.

Cinema fans always enter discussions about Ernst Lubitsch by discussing the “Lubitsch Touch”, a near-undefinable series of subtle moments that deepen the atmosphere of any of his films, a light, unobtrusive set of actions that make the most of situations.  Wrestling has an equivalent:  the “Patrick Touch”.  Nick Patrick will put little touches into his performances that enhance an SE situation.  Witness his fearful-yet-firm stand on not reversing the decision, his picking up of the microphones when the Dudz entered the ring, his standing aside while the Dudz had their way with Morley.  The hesitation in making the three-count was obvious; those Patrick Touches were not, yet they went a long way toward establishing the situation.  Bravo as usual, Nick.

R.S.V.P.:  Let’s see, Bisch:  didn’t you drive this guy out of WCW and had him job in thirty seconds to Jim Fucking Duggan in his last appearance?  And now all of a sudden you want him back on your show?  Just because he became one of wrestling’s biggest stars ever by doing what you said couldn’t be done:  push a guy in simple black tights and black boots?  And you’re expecting him to forgive you for that humiliation?  For that matter, why the hell are we, the fans, going to forgive him for being a f*cking baby?  I don’t want him back, as I’ve said many times.  Why do you want him back?  Just because he’d be something different on this pathetic excuse for a wrestling show?  Because nostalgia for the past is better than thinking about a sad present and vacant future?  If those are the reasons, you’re too pathetic to talk about.

Well, This Might Be A Workable Combination…:  Flair.  Trip.  Batista.  Orton.  Not the particular permutation I would have thought of, but it’s definitely better than Paul Roma.  I’m not sure if Batista will work in this variant, but he’d do a damn sweet job teaming with Randy Orton.  Just as long as they keep beating up Big Sump Pump, they’ll be fine by me.  However, if they’re going to take the final step, AA has GOT to be there.

And you’ve got to be here tomorrow for Smackdown Somewhat Spoiled, other crap, and a fond temporary farewell from me.  Until then, keep warm.