In Memoriam: Tug McGraw, a guy who understood that baseball could be sports entertainment, if done right.
Goddamnit. Loads of the white shit outside, freezing f*cking cold, and not a damn thing to write about wrestling-wise. If this was the days before Black, I could rhapsodize about Peyton Manning being a man among boys on Sunday, the exciting finish to the Tennessee/Baltimore game, or about how Brett Favre should have joined his father and taken Al Harris with him (when it comes to the FudgePackers, we Chicagoans abandon any pretense of taste). Or I could have complained about the local stations not joining the start of the Ten/Bal tilt because they just HAD to broadcast a press conference with Steve Pederson, the intelligence-challenged AD of Nebraska, who spent a half-hour telling the world f*ck all about his new football coach, whoever that may be. Or I could be bitching about the Demos’ debate and give advice to Howard Dean to give it up, now, before he wrecks the party like McGovern in ’72. But I have to stick to wrestling. That’s the deal. And there’s pretty much jack shit out there. Ashish doesn’t even have anything in the pipeline cribbed from the Torch and Observer print divisions. That puts me in a nasty little spot.
And I am not going to comment in depth about the IWC 100. As I told Fleabag, I don’t really have any objections to the people above me (except for one, and Flea was able to use my comments regarding Borash in his self-interview in his column), and I’m damn glad to see 411 take up five of the top eleven slots. That being said, being above Suck Woodhead, CRZ, and especially the Gooney Bird makes my testes tingle. There is one rumor floating around, though, that needs to be mentioned in regard to this: one writer supposedly was so upset about his non-inclusion in the 100 that he resigned from his website job. Again, this is just a rumor, and I can’t confirm anything, so speculate all you will.
Well, I can do a slight commentary on that “Top Ten Wrestlers In Each Brand That WWE Thinks Is Marketable”. Okay, I’ll do that…
BUT FIRST, LET’S HAVE A GIGGLE
RAW did not make the top ten rated cable shows last week, thanks to NFL Football and episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. – adapted from the AP Wire
First of all, am I the only person on this f*cking site who spells the name of the show “Raw” and doesn’t use an exclamation point after “Smackdown”? These shows don’t deserve capitalization or unnecessary punctuation. And all of you people who write into me, you stop doing it too. From now on, I toss any missive that I receive containing said unnecessary embellishments. And that means the Regulars too.
Now, as for the content…is this how far Raw has descended? It used to be Number One every week in the cable ratings since its 1998 defeat over Nitro. In fact, it was news on the weeks that it wasn’t the Number One show on cable. Now, it only makes news when it falls out of the Top Ten. Soon, that won’t be news anymore either. The only reason they’re in the Top Ten in the first place is that you sheep tune in when there’s a promise of Wife-Beater or Flex appearing, and then stick with it for a few weeks until you realize how dire it is, then tune out, then Austin leaves again, and then you hear that, ooooh, he’s coming back, but in what role?, and then you tune in again, not remembering that it was a complete load of shit the first ten f*cking times they did it, and…
This pretty much summarizes exactly why I go after marks all the time. They buy into this shit, and they keep the ratings at a level where Vince doesn’t have to go into panic mode and realize that something’s desperately wrong with his federation from the creative side. If he can pull Austin coming back out of his hat every few months, with an occasional Flex or Foley sighting to keep things a little bit different, he doesn’t have to go through the painful process that wrought Attitude again and go for a complete refocus. That’s what they desperately need right now. Here’s a hint: tune back to last week and the main event. Despite the fact that the match contained everyone’s favorite whipping boy and sodomy target, the IWC went batshit over its LUV for thirty minutes of damn good wrestling. Keith gave it four and three-quarters; hell, I ended up giving it four and a half. Why does this have to be “special”? Maybe it’s because if it happened every week, it wouldn’t be “special” anymore, and we’d grow jaded on that too.
But here’s a message, Vince: YOU’RE GETTING BEATEN IN THE RATINGS BY FUCKING SPONGEBOB! I think that the popularity of that show is rather inexplicable, but I thought the same thing about Finding Nemo as well. Maybe I’m out of touch with my Cartoon Mojo, but that’s not the issue. The fact is that an animated sponge is getting better ratings than Raw, and doing it on a consistent basis, or coming close (obviously, last week’s figures were inflated by the kids being home all the time with no school to disturb their veg patterns). If you look at the demographic breakdowns, you’re going to see that Spongebob actually has a strong following in 18-24 Males, Vince’s target demographic, so there’s no excuse on the basis of demographic separation. The point is that WWE’s casual fans have, by and large, abandoned Raw. This is a problem I’ve been pointing out for over two years now, and it still hasn’t been corrected, because their ratings are just good enough for them to not consider searching out “the next hot new angle”, and there’s no competition to push them into doing so.
How about inventing some competition then? No, not this “brand extension” shit. They’ve abandoned any pretense of competition between them, only bringing it up when it suits them (like with Matt Hardy). I mean some real competition. I don’t mean TNA either; if they cut that deal with the Tribune Company, they’re doomed. Turn SpongeBob into the competition. Give bonuses to “creative” and to the talent every week that they can beat out SpongeBob’s average ratings. Then crush the f*cker by asking Viacom to allow WWE to buy out Nick.
That should solve a lot of problems.
MISSING BOTH THE FOREST AND THE TREES
Let me quoth from the Observer, dead tree version:
The following wrestlers are listed as the top ten RAW and Smackdown stars in WWE’s internal marketing profiles:
RAW: Goldberg, Steve Austin, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, The Rock, Trish Stratus, and Lita
Smackdown: Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Eddy Guerrero, John Cena, Torrie Wilson, Sable, The Undertaker, The Big Show, Bradshaw, and Rey Mysterio
Oh, my God…
Where do you start with the delusionary thinking? First of all, Da Meltz doesn’t say how old his information is. That’s a very key point when it comes to the exact selection of people in here. If it’s recent, then we’ve got to assume that Vince and his marketing people are suffering from some form of prion-related disorder (hence linking this to my latest missive at Fleabag’s, the one Hyatte spooged over yesterday for no real good reason, because I didn’t think it was one of my best efforts). Either that or some kind of delusional psychosis that manifests itself in spasms of moronic wishful thinking.
I don’t think I need to lay out the specifics of who on this list shouldn’t be on there, but I’m going to anyway…
First of all, Raw. Is there a certain name that seems to be missing on this list? Oh, yeah, a guy who had his own insterstital vignette segment for an extended period of time, who has sold bunches of merch, and who is probably being discounted since his title reign was considered rather dismal (through no real fault of his own). Mister Irvine, could you please stand up? Thank you. This explains why he’s teaming up with Stratus despite the fact that they’ve blown the angle to shit. Just shows you how much trust they have in Jericho nowadays if they consider ten people more marketable than he is. All you Van Dam freaks out there, feel free to substitute him in there if you wish. Or Kane, for that matter. If he’s not “marketable”, then why the hell is he getting an extended main-event-level push?
Flair? He’s on there because of the DVD selling like nobody’s business. Merch is the rationale for Lita as well; she did have a book come out that sold decent numbers. There’s no excuse, though, for Orton except as part of Evolution (and if that’s the case, why isn’t Batista on there, unless the list was made prior to his comeback from injury?). They consider him “marketable”? To what market?
And the fact that Flex and Wife-Beater are on this list alone pisses me off, since it’s a sign that nothing substantive will change. Considering that they’re also non-wrestlers or part-time wrestlers at best shows that WWE has no back-up plan. Unless Randy Orton is their entire backup plan, in which case they’re really f*cked (unless they’re expecting toy sheriff’s badges to be the next must-have accessory). But notice that Goldberg’s on the list. The list must have been made up on the week that they were praising Goldie to the skies. Of course, this week they’re saying he might not make it to the end of his contract, which is what we heard the week before the week they made up the list. Yeah, that’s a real peg to hang your marketing on.
Now, I haven’t watched SD in a long time, but there are sure as hell some names on that list that scare me. UT can be categorized with Flex and Wife-Beater, especially if WM is going to be his swan song. Wilson and Sable…hmmmm, what do they have in common? Oh, yes, they both posed for Playboy, and tits are always marketable, unless you’re Molly Holly or Victoria, who deserve marketing a lot more than either of those two skanks. And haven’t they tried for years to market TBS and Bradshaw and failed miserably? This is not just pushing, but marketing as well. APA shirts did have a vogue, but if you bought one during that time, aren’t you a tad bit embarassed to be wearing it now? And who exactly bought Bradshaw’s book?
The rest of it, I won’t really argue with. But in almost half the cases above, WWE seems to be out of touch with their audience, or else they’re firmly convinced that they bring the audience around to their point of view. Hmmmm, stupidity or egotism, which is the worst of those conditions?
Speaking of marketing, Slick Rick deals with an issue that’s been bugging me as well for a while, and it has to do with two of those people on the Smackdown list:
Why is it that the folks promoting “Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain” haven’t realized that a “bra and panties” match between Torrie and Brock would also involve BROCK wearing bra and panties?
Mostly because Brock has bigger tits than Wilson does, and they’re having a hard time imagining a bra that would fit him. As for the panties, I’m sure Heyman has some in his size somewhere.
THE PIMP SECTION
Livingston comes back from the dead, but it’s a Best Of column.
Williams is up to September. Only three more months to go.
A Grut here. A Grut there. A Grut, Grut, Grut, Grut everywhere.
THE SHORT FORM
Spike Dudley over Rene Dupree, Long-Delayed Revenge Match (Pinfall, rollup): Well, it’s great to see our favorite rag doll and bump artist back in the ring again. But that’s pretty much all I have to say about this match. Straightforward, nothing offensive, certainly, but only a setup for the assault by Flair and Batista afterward.
Chris Crass over Novocaine Helms and His Pet Bitch (Pinfall, Christian pins Rosey, Unprettier): I don’t know what’s more humiliating for Jericho and Christian: to have had to participate in that tag against Lita and Trish, or to have had to sell so much offense for those two yo-yos. Even the goodness is packaged in sour-tasting coatings.
Stevie Richards over Test…hold it, Stevie Richards over Test? Well, I don’t watch Heat…(Pinfall, rollup): Well, it’s like the old saying goes: you can take Stevie off of Heat, but you can’t put heat on Stevie.
A lot of people wrote me last week saying that I was misinformed as to WWE’s intentions with Victoria, that it would be Victoria being turned face rather than Molly. Looks like those people were right. But you’ve got to look at this booking. They’re using a negative push on Test, and using Stevie Richards to give it to him. They’re then using Test, who hasn’t drawn shit for heat without My Beautiful and Beloved, as an instrument to turn Victoria. Are they even paying attention anymore? Do they even care? Sure looks doubtful.
Slick Rick reinforces this view:
Wondered about Victoria’s lack of “witches peak” when they made their entrance. OK, I guess. Like her look, still don’t give much of a shit about Stevie Richards. Bring his old tag partner (and HIS porno star girlfriend) into this and I’ll start caring about Mr. “I’ll show you, you’ll see”.
Hell, bring up Nova while you’re at it and do a full-fledged BWO reunion. That, even moreso than Jasmine St. Claire, would pull me in…God, I’m getting old.
Trish Stratus over Molly Holly, Non-Title Where De White Women At Match (DQ, Jazzercise): Well, at least they got a little wrestling in in between the idiotic start of the match and the interference. However, THANK GOD JAZZ IS BACK! That alone throws the women’s division out of the stasis it was in. We’re going to have some nice combos of title matches now, especially if the speculation is correct and Victoria’s turned face. Jazz/Victoria at WM for the title, perhaps? Or make it a Triple Threat with Molly? Hey, I’m actually excited about the women’s division. Write this one down on your calendars, folks. It won’t last long. It never does.
Rob Van Dam versus Mark Henry, Number One Contender’s Match (Uhhhh, I’m not sure): How can you put down the result of a match where the ref disqualifies one of the competitors for Fun With Chairs, the acting general manager orders the match restarted, but before it can be restarted, the “sheriff” comes out in a souped-up golf cart and chases the acting general manager offstage? Does the DQ stand and Van Dam get the shot? Look, if I think about shit like this, the writers should too.
Okay, the restart was done. Good. They need to listen to the black man a little more often.
Rob Van Dam over Mark Henry, No-DQ Number One Contender’s Match (Pinfall, Five-Star Fat Splash): Oh, who cares? We saw this shit last week, only it was a white ‘roid freak instead of a fat black guy. And Van Dam got to use chairs this time. Yippie.
Ric Flair and Dave Batista over D-Von Dudley and Buh Buh Ray’s Goddamn Shorts, Tag Title Match (Pinfall, Flair pins D-Von, BatistaBomb): Well, the outcome was never in doubt. They still have a little more mileage to get out of the “Evolution Has All The Belts” storyline (including the Raw Magazine cover story). However, this proved that Ric Flair, at 55, can still wrestle any style adequately. “Flair Fears Retirement”? Let him fear it for a long, long time.
Good Idea, But Definitely Bad Timing: Giving Teddy Long a show-long spotlight to highlight his terrific promo ability is a good idea. It shakes things up a little in a good way. However, given the circumstances, it’s definitely the wrong week to do it. First of all, the ofay liberal in me is really, really uncomfortable with doing an angle like this in Memphis. The fact is that the events of April 4th, 1968 can’t be forgotten or erased, and it just makes me uncomfortable to play a racist angle like this in Memphis. That was also reinforced by the involvement of Lawler and especially of Austin. Definitely do it, but wait until you’re somewhere else that doesn’t have the baggage that Memphis does in the area of race relations.
Transition Difficulties: Hmmm, Austin in the ring cutting a promo. And he’s joined by Trip. And this is supposed to excite me in what way? Well, at least the LMS match for Royal Rumble was made. That should be interesting. It’s the type of match that requires the same level of trust in your opponent that last week’s match between the two demonstrated they certainly have. It’s not going to be as brutal as Trip/Foley, but it should be the highlight of the card.
Just A Logistical Question: Since the IWC turned on him, does Randy Orton have any friends and supporters? Great fake commercial, though.
Mae’s Only Doing It For The Cheap Canadian Prescriptions, Chris: Look, according to all of the info, Jericho and Stratus are writing this angle. As I said last week, they need a little bit of quality control. Hyatte, do me a favor: when you talk to Stratus next time, tell her to run this stuff past me for a simple check for good taste. I volunteer to help, if only so we don’t have anyone thinking that a nude Mae Young has to be seen on television in order to get something over.
A Polack, A Redneck, And A Black Guy Walk Into A Ring…: Yeah, that’s what I was afraid would happen. As The Joe In Me said: did anyone else find it awkward watching a white redneck (technically a) skinhead trying to run down a black man?. It would actually be okay if 1) Teddy Long could be divorced from the racial angle without causing problems and 2) it didn’t take place in the South, especially in Memphis. My White Guilt Spidey Sense is really working overtime tonight. And Booker getting the better of Kane didn’t help.
And my Column-Ending Spidey Sense has also kicked in. Haley’s here tomorrow. I’m over at Black. Until then, ta.