In Memoriam: Ray Stark. His abrasiveness and constant second place on the list of agents-turned-studio-heads to Lew Wasserman masked his incredible contributions to entertainment. A shark among boys, and in a good way.
Both games sucked in a very deep way. It looked like a Hells Angels riot at the infamous Altamont rock festival, or even the first wild days of our latest war against Muslims in Iraq, when our finely-trained U.S. combat troops were mopping up on the bloody road to Baghdad. – Hunter Thompson on Sunday’s playoff games
So, let’s recap the weekend in Pro Football, shall we?
The Super Bowl now consists of
1) the team who stayed alive two years ago courtesy of the “hey-I-wasn’t-really-trying-to-throw-it” rule about quarterbacks and forward passes
2) a team who was 1-15 two seasons ago and is in because (as we all know from the first few games this season) Philly sucks at home under pressure.
Hardly a “Super” Bowl by any definition. But the silver lining in all this is that for the first time in more than two years, the people of Houston get to see two NFL teams with winning records play football against each other in their town.
– Big Daddy on Sunday’s playoff games
At least there was one great sports event on Sunday. Too bad for football fans that it was in Hawaii. Boring Ol’ Ernie charging from behind, taking Frazar to a playoff, then cinching the title defense at the Sony? Great stuff, even without Michelle Wie making the cut. BTW, the kid’s clutch. She says she wasn’t scoreboard-watching, but if that’s true, her putt on 16 on Friday was even more incredible than if she had been. Stone-dead perfect when she absolutely needed to get birdie or head home. And those two sixty-footers…I’m a pretty good putter (it’s the rest of my game that gives me trauma), but I couldn’t even think about getting either of those close, much less in. And, it must be repeated, she’s fourteen and female. It’s not too early to say that she might end up doing as much for the sport as Tigger, maybe more.
After that fulmination, let’s talk about the behind-the-scenes conclusion to be wrought from Sunday’s playoff games…
You forgot about the fact that Dubbaya fixed the Super Bowl two years ago, Kurt, just like the Kentucky Derby and the World Series. And this being an election year, I think that the fix may also be in again. One call from the Oval Office, and Mike Martz suddenly becomes a bonehead (or, more appropriately, decides to reveal to the world his Inner Bonehead). One call from the Oval Office, and Peyton Manning becomes flustered and confused. One call from the Oval Office, and Donovan McNabb gets brain cramps (hurt ribs, my ass), his sense of patriotism conflicting heavily with the Chicago boy’s instinct to be a good Democrat.
Ah, yes, the fix is definitely in. Get New England as a whole fat and happy with a Super Bowl win, and then watch them do something stupid in New Hampshire, like letting Howard Dean come out victorious, which will cause the Demos incredible trauma just like in 1972…although McGoo’s endorsement of General Clark took the edge off that one for us quasi-pundits. If he’d endorsed Dean, the comparison-o-meter would be permanently pegged on the right side. Put everything you have on the Pats, because Jake Delhomme is a good ol’ boy who’s “gettable” by the Junta…
…ah, but this is the “wrestling” column, and I should talk about that, shouldn’t I? So, I’ll hold off on comments concerning both the Iowa Caucuses (which I suddenly approve of because my candidate won them) and Lovie Smith until tomorrow.
So what’s happening with wrestling that I should talk about, if anything?
MEMO TO HYATTE
The “Bitch on Star Trek who was supposed to be Cleopatra” has a name. The name is “France Nuyen”. And she was incredibly hot in her time. Might still be, in fact (didn’t see The Battle of Shaker Heights, which she’s in, to verify this). She turns 65 this year, so, Hyatte, if you ever wanted to f*ck a senior citizen (and I’m sure you do), wait until after her birthday (July 31st, according to IMDB). It might be your best chance.
The sad part is that all I had to do was look her up in IMDB. I knew the rest of it just from Hyatte’s oblique reference. Well, someone has to provide this information for you, and it might as well be me.
And it’s “Zan” and “Jayna”, by the way. If you want to f*ck them, spell their names right. Guess that’s why I don’t get much.
THE PIMP SECTION
Williams finally finishes up 2003 for your benefit, and it’s only three weeks into January. Hey, not bad considering.
The Gloomchen and Randle Show Starring Grut is always a fun diversion in Black on Mondays. Of course, those of you who are Randle-intolerant may want to spread apart your reading to be safe.
I didn’t think Arx Fatalis was so hot on the PC. Lucard agrees with me, but this time concerning the X-Box version. Although differences are minimal considering it’s the X-Box and all.
Memo to Fernandez: Sorry I haven’t had a chance to get back to you. I’ll try to do so later this week.
I’ve never pimped Hayhurst, and I shouldn’t pimp him this time for not mentioning the fact that Uta Hagen was one of the greatest acting teachers of her era, but I’ll forgive him that. The Movies guys gets so few pimps out of me, I might as well credit a guy who’s doing good. Of course, if I did have a spare pimp to throw out there, my old tag partner Rob T automatically gets one. I wrote this previous sentence, BTW, before I actually read his column and notice that he not only pimped my Black last week, but also referred to me in the same way. That’s because great minds think alike.
SO HOW SAD IS IT?
Here’s some interesting numbers from the Observer dead-tree edition about recent WWE attendance figures:
– 12/29 RAW taping | San Antonio, TX | 11,000 in attendance
– 12/30 SD! taping | Laredo, TX | 4,600 in attendance
– 1/09 RAW show | Oshawa | 2,000 in attendance
– 1/10 RAW show | Halifax | 2,500 in attendance
– 1/10 SD! show | Kalamazoo | 1,300 in attendance
– 1/11 RAW show | St. John’s | 3,500 in attendance
– 1/12 RAW show | New Jersey | 6,100 in attendance
– 1/12 SD! show | Saginaw | 2,000 in attendance
The weather hasn’t been that bad in all those areas recently, so you can’t blame that for this. The Canadian numbers, in particular, are pretty sad. The people in the Maritimes have always been rabid WWE fans, and to see figures of 2500 and 3000 for Halifax and St. John’s is really pathetic (especially since it’s the Canadian-wrestler-heavy Raw roster we’re talking about). Do you think that Vince is getting a message when only eleven thou show up in San Antonio? For Raw? On a night when it was heavily advertised that the hometown hero was going to be going for the world title? If house shows are as important to them as they think they are (although I personally think they aren’t), then something has to be done, quickly. House shows are a specific indicator of how much the audience cares, and with these numbers (and the pathetic PPV numbers they’ve been getting recently), the audience doesn’t care. But we’ll never see Stephie-poo take the fall for this, will we?
A CASE OF THE SILLIES
WWE management feels that wrestlers are finally starting to slow down and make spots mean more. WWE has been pushing for wrestlers to use this “new style” for months now.
Of course, there’s a couple of other sides to this:
1) Has anyone told Rob Van Dam about this? Doesn’t look like it.
2) Of course, this matches up with their general disdain for cruisers and the cruiser style, which is much more spot-heavy than Vince’s lumbering lummox preference. If done correctly, a spot-fest can pop crowds moreso than your average WWE-style match, and this philosophy is going to end up harming a lot of guys on Smackdown in the long run (yes, Rey-Rey, I’m thinking specifically of you). Frankly, I’d love to see a complete, unapologetic spot-fest on Raw sometime. It may be the only time I can stand Van Dam. Shit, put him in the ring with Spike and give them fifteen, with the last man to kill himself winning.
NOT AGING GRACEFULLY
Again from the dead-tree Observer:
TNA continues to have talks with Kevin Nash about bringing Nash, as well as Scott Hall, in to work as a tag team. The plan right now if they do sign is to turn Jeff Jarrett face and have a program with Hall & Nash against Jarrett & Sting.
Nash is asking for $7,500 a week to appear. Back when Hall was working TNA shows during the promotion’s first months, he was getting $7,500. Since then, TNA has drastically cut back on their salaries.
Okay, let’s look at this financially first. Let’s say that TNA gets a quarter of the PPV gross, which is a pretty reasonable assumption. That means that in order to pay for Nash, he’d have to bring in 3000 more viewers per week. Are there enough idiots out there who will pay ten beans to see Kevin Nash and Scott Hall team up? That’s really debatable. However, this was the same company that thought Scott Hall would bring in another 3000 viewers per week by himself, so it may be worth it to TNA from a cost-effectiveness standpoint. But they’re gambling yet again on the Nostalgia Factor, which is the same gamble Vince made two years ago and lost (he got some mileage out of Hogan at first and pissed that away completely). If TNA has nothing better for its viewers than to bet the farm on old guys who can’t wrestle anymore to bring in an audience (and Piper and Hogan prove that, especially Piper), they’re more blind than I even thought, and after the idiocy of the WGN deal, that’s really saying something.
Now, from a creative standpoint…oh, geez, they’re doing reasonably well with the younger guys in the X Division and doing much better with the retreads and castoffs than I thought they could. They don’t really need to do this per se, unless they firmly believe that Nash would be the one guy who could put them into Serious Territory with their money marks and get them a basic cable deal. But bringing in Nash would totally disrupt any chemistry they have right now. They’d be repeating WCW’s mistakes, and with the same people. As for putting Nash and Russo in the same general vicinity again, I think we’d rather start shooting heroin in our eyeballs than have that occur.
This time, Vince’s statement about Nash being a “lethal dose of poison” is a great deal more fitting, because the organism being poisoned isn’t as robust as WWE. Even a little bit of poison can kill, and Nash sure as hell is toxic. He’s proven it too many times.
Speaking of toxic, let’s see if WWE’s basic cable offering has hit LD50 yet…
THE SHORT FORM
Booker T and Rob Van Dam over Christian and Matt Hardy, Advancement Match (Pinfall, Van Dam pins Hardy, Five-Star Frog Splash): I had a lot of apprehensions about this particular match when Van Dam walked out. Until I saw who he was partnered with and who he was facing. Then I knew the match was going to be pretty good, which it was. Out of the combinations of participants in the ring, there was only one combination that didn’t work out well, that being Van Dam/Christian (I thought the Ladder Match was overrated, and I don’t think they’ve ever worked well together). Fortunately, that combination was minimized, and the match really played to its strengths. A little psychology here, a little high-paced action there. It was a nice taste of what can be done given time and proper booking. Congrats to all concerned.
Chris Jericho over Rene Dupree, Advancement Match (Submission, Walls of Jericho): Dupree’s chyron is bugging me. In his last name, the accent was on the first “e”. Now, my French sucks, but shouldn’t the accent be on the second “e”? Of course, I haven’t taken a WWE chyron seriously since they once listed a certain announcer as “Micheal Kole” (and not even giving the Lesbians chyron during HLA helped mollify that one). As for the match, yeah, Jericho was carrying Dupree, but as the match went on, Dupree started to become more and more comfortable. The kid’s young, and he’s been doing tag most of the time, so I can understand this. What I can’t understand is why Dupree decided to blow off one of the biggest unwritten rules in wrestling: if you channel Ric Flair, don’t do it on the show he’s on. He has much to learn.
Mark Henry over Rico Constantino, Advancement Match (Pinfall, fat-f*ck slam): Well, you have two guys in the ring that no one gives a rat’s ass about. So what do you do? Surround them with a supporting cast that people sorta, kinda do care about, that being Jackie “The Nipple” Gayda, Teddy Long, and Lil’ Naitch. They made the match bearable to watch, especially given the obvious nature of its conclusion.
Spike Dudley over Kane, Advancement Match (DQ, Case Of Mistaken Identity): And what’s the point? So Kane can go off on another rampage? Okay, so Spike gets a W on the books. Big whoop. Not that I don’t dislike Spike or anything, but this was pretty cheesy.
Bill Goldberg over Big Sump Pump and The Man Who Dares Sleep With My Beautiful And Beloved, Triple Threat Advancement Match (Pinfall, Goldberg pins Test, duh): Oh, no comment. The fact that they used this as the transition match is bad enough. However, the reaction of the people as Goldie set up the jackhammer convinces me even further that referring to the marks as sheep is correct. Of course, the IWC retards who were looking forward to Goldie/Sump Pump based on some false memories of supposedly good matches in WCW are equally sheep-like in their consistency.
Jazz over Lita, Not An Advancement Match (Pinfall, rollup): Not half as entertaining as the Molly/Trish promo before it (or for that matter the Trish/Christian promo that it dovetailed into; midgets indeed). However, it’s worth pointing out that Teddy Long is truly a genius. That trip on the apron looked completely unscripted. The only thing that showed it to be scripted was the fact that 1) Lita was at just the right place to take advantage of it and 2) it led to the pinfall. Making things in wrestling look unscripted is almost a lost art these days, and Teddy’s one of the best at it, period.
Randy Orton over Novocaine Helms, Back To The Advancement Matches Match (Pinfall, RKO): Mark Henry isn’t the only thing sprayed with ass. An entire match designed to provide rolling interferences to enable Buh Buh Ray and D-Von to nail a 3-D on Coachman? Please. However, let me note this: as Acting GM, Coachman could have said that the tag match at RR could be non-title after he regained coherence. If he hates the Dudleys that much, he could have used the 3-D as a justification for that. Just something they missed, and it would have added something to Coachman’s character, not to mention that f*ckhead Austin could have reversed that during the RR broadcast itself.
Bill Goldberg over Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Mark Henry, and Randy Orton, Six-Man Over-The-Top Battle Royal For Number Thirty In The Royal Rumble (Van Dam eliminated by Booker, scissors kick; Booker eliminated by Jericho, clothesline; Jericho eliminated by Henry and Orton, double-team throw-out; Henry eliminated by Goldberg, shoulder block; Orton eliminated by Goldberg, military press): Guess that Spike was too injured from his Kane experience to compete. Too bad. He would have made the difference in this match. Well, of course, he wouldn’t have. The result was obvious the moment Goldberg went over. Of course, this feeds the “Goldie will face Trip in his final WWE match at WM” rumors, given the fact that the same retards who spread these kind of rumors don’t remember that no one with #30 has ever won the Royal Rumble. They’re setting themselves up for some kind of nifty little booking trick on Sunday, and it does complicate matters for me and the Round Table, because I have to sort out which rumors to believe and which to discard. I hate having to work at this.
Pay Off: Anyone who had “ten minutes” in the “Lawler will make reference to Coachman being acting GM on MLK Day” pool, go and collect your winnings. I decided not to bet, because the lead-off in this section was going to be a Coachman/MLK Day thing, and since it was that obvious, I knew Lawler would have to say something eventually. Ten minutes, though…that’s pretty damn quick, even for him.
Opportunities For Advancement: I have to admire them for this one: bring the Battlebowl format in through the back door. I kinda liked Battlebowl as a concept (not in execution; how do you take a tournament that Diamond Dallas Page won seriously?), so seeing WWE’s take on it was interesting, and worked effectively. Now, how about a pure WarGames-format match for WM between a Raw and Smackdown team? Hey, they own the concepts, so they might as well use them if they work.
How To Insult The Host Town: Obviously, since Raw took place in Green Bay, I do have to comment about that, since it’s still technically football season despite both teams being out of it. Actually, there’s not so much to insult Green Bay about per se. It’s a great place and a beautiful small city, and I wouldn’t mind living there, really. However, they still must be insulted for being provincial rednecks. The point is how to do it. I could go for the obvious spoonerism and start calling the place “Breen Gay”, except that we all know that the Breen aren’t gay, they’re just tools of the Dominion. So I’m stuck. I’ll just leave it at the fact that, well, they’re in Green Bay and they suck. Any Chicagoan will take that at face value, and they’re the only people that matter anyway.
Ignorance Of Austin Is Bliss: I left the room to do some more of this piece of crap when Austin started rambling about Foley. Let’s see, Steverino, maybe the reason Foley is behaving like a coward is because he made a promise to his wife and kids to stop, and he’s sticking to it (in storyline terms, of course, but with a definite real component behind it). Now, Steve, let’s look at your life. You stole your first wife away from another wrestler. She and your kids live in England now. You beat your second wife. Could it be that you really can’t understand what “family bliss” means? It’s like a priest giving someone advice on how to keep a marriage together, and contradictions like that is one of the reasons why I’m a lapsed Catholic.
And I’ll lapse out for another day, until such time that I join you over at Black. Have a good one.