Hot damn it’s been a long time. How the hell is everyone doing? My name’s Widro and I took a huge Hyatte-like hiatus from doing the News Hour. But it’s a new year, and it’s the first Friday of the new year wait a minute, no it’s not. Whatever let’s get to the wrestling!
In case you’re wondering, yes I am aware that myself and my venerable partner fell from the top spot on the IWC 100. Now we reside at #8, and at least we’re still in the top 10! But seriously, we never should have been even near the top, and I appreciate Flea for giving us #1 for the second half of 2003. Speaking of Flea, he’s off for a few weeks, but when he’s back, you should read him.
The Land of McMahon
Smackdown last night was a fairly entertaining show, if not marred by the main event. The big news has to be that the WWE finally pulled the trigger on the Chavo heel turn. Not only did he not save Eddy from the beatdown, he busted him open and then stole the lowrider! Kurt Angle’s role was intriguing as well, as they are seemingly planting the seeds for a heel turn by Angle in the near future. They had him work together with Heyman, and then he seemed to be clearly siding with Chavo even as he pleaded with both Chavo and Eddie to reconcile. Makes me wonder what the WWE is planning for WMXX and beyond. I have a feeling that they will shake up the rosters right as the Spring begins.
The Billy Gunn promo was hilarious in its insanity. Vince McMahon must REALLY love Billy Gunn to continually give him this much of a push. Says our very own PK, the world’s biggest Billy Gunn mark:
Im sure they will puch Billy HARD for the next 2 months, then he’ll be put in a tag team with some loser like Shannon Moore, and everyone will think it will fail…only for them to over come the odds of Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty 8,000 times to win the Tag Team Titles for Billy’s 14TH TIME!
The cruiserweights were also treated with much respect again this week, with a nice title defense by Rey Mysterio and the beginnings of a Rey/Jamie Noble feud.
Did you see John Cena kick the crap out of A Train and pin him clean? I have heard A Train is a good guy, and he seems like he tries hard, but he grosses me out and I’m glad Cena got the clean win.
Now getting the abomination of a main event. The Big Show has just gotten so extra fat in the last few months, his gut is really gigantic. Bob Holly has less heat than any World Title Contender I can think of. He is the same size as Benoit, Jericho and the rest of the so-called “too smallÃ¢â‚¬Â main eventers, yet is getting a mega push. He clearly is not connecting with fans on any level, and he seems to only get some polite applause from fans who are just acknowledging that he’s a face. I’d love to see Brock squash him in like 2 minutes at the PPV. Hopefully this program ends at the Rumble. And the Big Show is totally worthless as US Champ, but that’s been beaten to death.
Raw was likely to be a letdown after the awesome half hour match between HHH and HBK, and the poor rating seemed to indicate that people were prepared for a lesser show.
It was a nice change of pace to see Theodore Long in charge of the show. He cuts among the best promos each and every week on Raw, and surprisingly didn’t grate on me as the night went along. And although internet backlash against the Coach is gigantic, I actually didn’t totally hate his role. I feel like JR legitimately hates the Coach and I like how they interact. Do I want to see either Long or Coach in these roles each week? No. But its always nice to get a change of pace, whether its in the main event wrestling slots, or the other non-wrestling areas as well.
The main problem with the show was clearly Stone Cold Steve Austin’s return and new role on the show. How could JR possibly proclaim that “Monday Night Raw would never be the sameÃ¢â‚¬Â when having Austin return to a co-position of power alongside Eric Bischoff is EXACTLY the same as what they have been doing for months. In addition, the whole sheriff idea seems to be some loony idea Austin himself thought up on a beer binge, because it is not only uncool and horribly corny, it makes the WWE look stupid for even going with it. I realize all wrestlers seem to go insane in their later careers, but does anyone really think a wrestling SHERIFF is a good idea? Unless this is once again positioning for a heel turn as insane Austin, which although fun back in the day, seems unlikely, this storyline is DOA.
Hunter cut an awesome promo on Austin, running down the new gimmick. Austin’s replies were predictable and ineffective, and if we ever saw a major star crumble before our eyes, I feel like its Austin in his current role on Raw. I feel bad for the guy that he cant wrestle anymore, but when is it time to leave the main event slot if you haven’t wrestled in nearly a year.
I realize there is a long history of the IWC hating HHH, but is anyone else starting to like him again? Or at least not hate him? I was a huge Goldberg fan in WCW and even cut him a lot of slack in WWE, but he just isn’t really a WWE champion, he doesn’t have much to offer in the long run. Was he doing OK as champ? Yes. Are people tired of Hunter on top? Yes. But think of this Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Hunter put on a half hour spectacle with Shawn Michaels last week, then did an awesome “cool heelÃ¢â‚¬Â promo tearing up Steve Austin’s lame new gimmick on Raw.
It’s easy to bash Hunter now for anything and everything he does, but why cant he cut a cool heel promo once in a while? He has been a straight heel for a long time, and doesn’t do much cool heel schtick these days. Plus that Austin stuff is so lame, Hunter’s character would have lost tons of credibility if he sold the “sheriffÃ¢â‚¬Â thing as anything but a joke.
Hunter is going into Royal Rumble on a nice little roll thanks to HBK. It was a largely rough year for HHH in the ring, but his opponents really didn’t give him much to work with. Between Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash and Goldberg, I challenge anyone to find three workers near their statue that are more stiff and difficult to carry in the ring. Tugboat maybe?
TNA This Week
I admittedly watch The O.C. on most Wednesdays, so I didn’t get a chance to see NWA:TNA this week, although I did read a bunch of reports of the show! I did really enjoy the O.C. this week, as always. Marissa looked really cute as usual, and Luke’s new character is hilarious.
The second ever Ultimate X match seemed to continue the fine name of 2003’s hottest new gimmick match, and this time the end seemed to be a bit of a surprise. The current champ and both Chris Daniels and Low Ki all seemed like they had a better shot of winning than Chris Sabin, but Sabin not only came away with the victory and the title, but seemed to be legitimate in doing so. The X Division seems so simple to book, and I’d like to see it kept this strong all year.
As much as I love the job Raven has done in NWA:TNA, what exactly has he done in the ring to create new stars? He seems to be wrapped up in all these feuds, but they never seem to end where the other guy is elevated in any way. I hope with the newest incarnation of the Mitchell/Raven feud that an actual money drawing wrestler gets some heat on Raven and actually moves up the card.
Overall it seems as if TNA started 2004 the right way, with some solid matches and decent angles, with the requisite TNA crapola on board as well. Seriously, does anyone really want to see Erik Watts ever?
News And Notes
The new year and the end of the holiday season can only mean one thing! New fun news!
Kevin Nash posted an update on his website. I’ll copy and paste it for your convenience:
On December 31, 2003 my contract with WWE officially ended. I met with Vince and we talked about the possibility of my staying with the company in a creative role. This would have meant working 5 days a week and spending too much time away from my home and family so I decided not to stay with the company.
There are many options in wrestling with other companies and I am also looking into more film and television appearances. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated here on any future plans.
Check out the upcoming Premiere Magazine for some news about “The Punisher” movie that I appear in, which will be out in April.
Right now, my immediate plans are to go on a cruise with my family and then go to Europe for a month.
So there ya have it Big Sexy finally gone from WWE. The rumors are rampant that he will try to work NWA:TNA with Scott Hall to reunite the Outsiders, but one has to wonder if that ship has sailed. I was a huge Outsiders fan, but it bombed badly in WWE, and not just because of the booking. There is something missing from the mic work of both men, and they should really just ride off and not further tarnish their legacy. But knowing wrestling
We reported yesterday that the Undertaker’s return to WWE as the dead man could happen as soon as Royal Rumble later this month. Kane mentioned taker in his promo on Raw, and that got the ideas flowing again that the Undertaker might be back sooner than later. I’d be surprised if Wrestlemania was his first actual appearance back, so I’m sure he’ll be on TV before the big event to continues his feud.
Playboy is doing another WWE spread, and this time both Sable and Torrie Wilson will be posing together. Am I the only one who likes Torrie Wilson better with her clothes on? When she first arrived in WCW and even in WWE she was always my favorite, but she just is one of those girls who looks better in clothes than naked. Sable on the other hand looked awesome naked.
The HOT Seat
2003 saw some fierce battles in the Hot Seat, but you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. I present to you the first Hot Seat of 2004, starring Mr. Chris Pankonin.
1. As you are aware, we always start with Geometry. Can you tell me one thing that makes a rhombus the same as a square, and one thing that makes it different?
Pank: My worst subject in school was math, I was terrible. I do know that a rhombus and a square both have equal sides (they match up), but the difference is a square is 90 degrees, where a rhombus can be all out of whack looking (kind of like the RAW logo).
Hot Seat Judges:
That is correct.
1 out of 1
2. In a four corners tag team elimination match circa 1990, what would be the order of elimination of these four teams, if they were being judged on the visual impact and impressiveness of their finishing move: The Hart Foundation, The Rockers, Demolition, Power and Glory
Pank: Remember, I’m a young one, and Power & Glory’s heyday was around the time I was in Kindergarten. I was around for the Harts, Rockers, and Demolition though, and I’d have to say that the Hart Attack was probably the coolest finisher, although I always liked the Rockers more.
Hot Seat Judges:
The correct order of elimination is as follows: 1) Demolition Ã¢â‚¬â€œ never liked it. 2) Rockers Ã¢â‚¬â€œ had much cooler non-finishers 3) Power and Glory Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the superplex/big splash combo looked so awesome 4) The Hart Foundation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ never bet against Bret in the news hour.
1 out of 2
3. You live in Nebraska, where there doesn’t seem like much to do. Have you ever tipped a cow?
Pank: Cow tipping is soooo 1994, if you really want to be cool, you play CORN FIELD TAG! Whoo yeah, thats a real redneck game. Cow tipping has been attempted, and I’ve heard plenty of stories, but personally never tried tipping a cow. Corn field tag though, hell yeah!
Hot Seat Judges:
Corn field tag is exactly what we were looking for.
2 out of 3
4. The Royal Rumble is coming up. In 40 words or less, please book the final 6 participants in the Rumble and explain how it will lead to the WM20 world title match on either Raw or Smackdown.
Pank: John Cena, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Kane, Booker T, Shawn Michaels. Kane and Booker eliminate each other, Cena and Benoit eliminate each other, Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels go at it one on one, don’t really care who wins at that point.
Hot Seat Judges:
This booking not only doesn’t pick a winner, it also doesn’t identify who would get the title shot and which title they would be vying for.
2 out of 4
5. In 2003, you took over doing the WWE PPV coverage from me, while I took over doing Friday news reports from you. Who do you think got the better deal?
Pank: Me, because I only have to write about wrestling once a month now. Whereas you have to come up with coherent stuff to say about wrestling, which includes such awesome feuds as Big Show and Hardcore Holly on a weekly basis. I just have to call the matches, and when they’re on PPV, they’re typically better.
Hot Seat Judges:
Yeah but I don’t have to sit through entire matches I hate. But it IS 2am Friday and I’m not even close to done, so I’ll give you the slight edge
3 out of 5
Impressive showing for Pank. You can of course check him out each PPV here in wrestling, as well as all over our fine 411 Games Zone.
And if anyone is interested in giving it a shot, I am looking for a cool logo for the Hot Seat. I’m going to eventually try to design one myself, but time is limited. If you have something cool (and not cheesy looking or amateurish) in mind, mock something up and mail it to me
9 Weeks to Wrestlemania
As the build to Wrestlemania XX continues, some of the so-called sure thing matches from late 2003 seem to now be questionable.
The “title vs. titleÃ¢â‚¬Â match between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg is the first on the chopping block, although I still think it will go down. By all reports Goldberg is anxious to change his reputation backstage in WWE, and what better way to show the boys good faith than to do a clean job at Wrestlemania to WWE’s brightest young main eventer. Brock would benefit HUGE from a nice win at the big stage, after last year’s awesome match was marred by the botched Shooting Star Press. This also would create a natural program for Goldberg if he should return after Mania, and it doesn’t seem as if Brock would be opposed to returning the job later down the road.
There has also been a lot of talk of a Vince McMahon/Steve Austin match at WMXX, but there are also conflicting rumors that Austin doesn’t want to tarnish his Wrestlemania legacy of strong matches, concluding with last year’s solid bout with the Rock. I still suspect he’ll wrestle at Mania, especially given the low rating for his return in a non-wrestling capacity on Monday’s Raw.
One match that does seem locked in stone is Kane vs. The Undertaker, and I will be honest, I’m looking forward to it. Kane is a very different character and persona since he last feuded with Taker, and it seems as if Taker will be returning with some kind of new gimmick.
A few weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of the Rock and Sock Connection reuniting for a Wrestlemania XX tag match, and if they don’t go with Foley/Orton as a singles match, I could still see Rock and Sock fighting some kind of combination of Evolution. As HBK appears to not have a role at the event yet, I could see them putting him against Flair again in a long match on the big stage, then doing Batista/Orton vs. Rock and Sock.
If I were to guess what Hunter will be doing at the show, I would strongly consider the idea that Chris Benoit will win the Rumble and then go on to face Hunter instead of the Smackdown champion. I could see a situation where Paul Heyman confronts Benoit after his Rumble victory and say something about how he would never have a shot at the Smackdown title again, and that by winning the Rumble he could have a shot at the other World title. With Backlash (April’s PPV) coming from Edmonton, and it being a Raw show, it makes some sense to move over Benoit.
What’s New At 411
Each week we seem to have some new feature or new area of 411 that might not always be the center of attention. Because I’m usually the one creating the new areas, I’m in the best position to actually point out what’s been added or taken away.
This week, the most major changes are going on, believe it or not, in 411’s Fan Forum. There has been an increase in the amount of political talk on the forum, as the 411 institution is really beginning to grow out of its all-wrestling roots. Props to Big Mike and the staff over in the forum for keeping that place as sane as they can with all my crazy decisions.
Also this week, we have so far the first two ballots for the 2003 411 Year End Awards. The music ballot contains all the staff nominees as well as the reader’s choice voting.
The wrestling ballot, which I put up today, has NINE categories for you to vote on, including 4 411wrestling staff awards. Vote now for your favorite news reporter. Doesn’t have to be me. Could be anyone. Even Grutman who is nominated but doesn’t even do it anymore.
Cream of the Crop
Well in addition to simply linking the best that 411 has to offer this week, I have decided to kick off a couple new weekly subfeatures of the cream of the crop to single out excellence each week on the staff. Plus I need more controversy in the staff forum! Anyway, here it goes:
Zone of the Week: Wrestling Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Things might have been a little light over the holidays, but the 411 Wrestling Zone kicked back into serious high gear this week with some awesome stuff. All of the news reports were on their game this week, even Haley! Plus Scott posted a ton of rants, news was flowing from Ashish and overall it seemed like the section had energy. Kudos to 411 Wrestling this week.
The Voice Of Reason News Hour Zone of the Week is sponsored locally by Umberto’s clam house. Try their trademarked hot medium or sweet sauce! Umbertooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Clam House!
(this is a very fringe NYC sports radio joke that very few people will get but whatever it’s my column)
Writer of the Week: Ross Williams. The man just keeps giving and giving. He is 10 months into the year in his FANTASIC year in review series. Here is a link to all ten parts!
Plus you should check out Thursday For News With Ross Williams, from yesterday and each and every Thursday.
Elsewhere in our fine web empire:
Scott Keith doesn’t need plugs from me to get hits, but I feel like I need to link him because he split his Ric Flair review into three parts. Gotta love it. Part 3 is up today, and you can check out Parts 1 and 2.
Alex Lucard played through Beyond Good and Evil on Xbox and has some surprising news for everyone who has read the glowing reviews on IGN and Gamespot: The game kinda sucks. I’m only a few hours into the game and I’m already bored. Why a PIGMAN as the hot chick’s second in command? Who really thought a pigman was a good character choice? Anyway here is Lucard’s full Beyond Good and Evil Review.
Mathan Erhardt might not be a household name yet, but he is doing his best to change that. What other 411 writer has articles in three zones on the same day! Check out More Reasons Why Being Deaf Sucks/Rocks in music, Hodgepodgeatorium in the black and even Who’s Who in DCU over in comics! The comics thing was 2 days ago, but close enough.
In Figures, The Toy Hunter gives us his Figure Awards Ballot, and takes a look of new figures hitting to start the New Year. Also, the brand new WWE Classic SuperStarsfigures will be hitting toy stores soon!
I never link enough, someone is always pissed. Too bad! I’m cutting it off here.
It feels good to be back. After weeks of being locked away in the 411 basement doing programming and graphic fixes, its nice to be back on the front lines. Make sure to vote in the 411 Year End awards as the ballots continue to be posted as we cobble together our staff picks as well.
Next week is officially “Awards WeekÃ¢â‚¬Â at 411, and we’ll have tons of 2003 year in review stuff, including the winners of the reader’s choice awards, columns and features looking back at the year that was, and much more. For me, I will have all my picks for the year that was in music, games, wrestling, movies and tv, and I will also unveil the 1st Annual 411 Staff Awards right here in the news hour. Plus another great Hot Seat, the return of Analyzing WWE Pushes and a whole lot more.