Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 01.27.04

Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli on Monday apologized for calling a St. Bonaventure fan a “moron” and “nitwit.” – from the AP Wire

I’ll make you a deal, Phil.  I’ll teach you to be unapologetic if you can teach me how to coach an undefeated basketball team.

And, of course, In Memoriam:  Jack Tunney.  Great promoter, and during his time as on-camera president, was the dry, dull, stable center upon which the three-ring circus created by Vince revolved.  If you weren’t around, catch his appearances on the old Coliseum tapes and the retrospective DVDs; they were…well, different.

I’m not going to do a couple late In Memoria in this one like I planned (besides, Tunney pushed them out of the way).  I’ll wait until tomorrow, because it’s going to be really self-serving and yet another from my “My Childhood Is Disappearing And I’m Pushing Forty And I’m Going To Whine About It” collection that all of you love so much.  Instead, I’ll just stick to wrestling as usual.  So let’s get on with it.

After this message, of course…

I’ve been getting a pissload worth of Novarg.A viruses in my mailbox since early Monday morning, so update your antivirus libraries and get rid of the damn thing if you have it.  And don’t click on any f*cking screensaver attachments in e-mails (which is what Novarg is disguising itself as).  Monitors don’t need screensavers these days.  They’re pretty rugged.

THE PIMP SECTION

I normally don’t pimp off-site; however, I do have to throw one out to Gerald Leggett of the Fox-Sports-affiliated powerwrestling.com.  That’s because he had the perspicacity and taste to have a certain someone who shall remain nameless due to humility as a special guest in his column this week.  So head over there.

Why is Grut Versus Daniels only bylined to Grut?  That’s like bylining Red Vs. Blue to Sarge.  Although Sarge would demand it that way, cupcake.  Good work so far on Season 2, by the way.  I definitely relate to Doc.

Only five things to hate about Scotsman?  I’m sure we can come up with a lot more than that.  And I had to cover Thunder when I had a Friday column, so hate me too (and even reviewed it once).

I pimp Gamble obliquely last week, and he comes back.  I am far more powerful than you know.  However, his wife was lucky that she was able to find a position in that field with only a BS.  I know this from personal experience.

Nute doesn’t cover the finisher of the Royal Rumble that I dislike:  coming in at #1 and winning.  I didn’t like it when Michaels did it, and I don’t like it this year.  Even with Benoit, it’s just not realistic enough.  Yeah, I know, it’s wrestling and therefore by definition not realistic, but leave me to my fantasies and I’ll leave you to yours.

ANY RUMBLE COMMENTS?

No, not really.  After the excess of hyperbole by a certain famous recapper on this site who shall remain Scooter, I have nothing to add.  Of course, we all know the REAL reason why someone handed out more snowflakes than Lincoln got on the ground over the weekend*, so there’s no need to grab a cold Labatt’s and strike up a rendition of “Oh, Canada” to make that more obvious.  Oh, by the way, Memo to Hyatte:  Keith Scott is an Australian.  He was the hand-picked successor to Bill Scott for the voices of Bullwinkle and a number of other Jay Ward characters, and involves himself in Ward-related projects (he’s the narrator of the George of the Jungle live-action films, for instance).  He also wrote the incredibly entertaining and absolutely definitive history of Jay Ward Productions, The Moose That Roared, a book that’s a lot more entertaining and informative than…no, I don’t get into bitchiness for the sake of it.  So I’ll pass on that comment.

* – Yeah, Lincoln got about eight inches on snow on Sunday and early Monday, but you didn’t hear about that on certain major news websites, did you?  But when the East Coast got hit with a storm late Monday, it made the lead story on cnn.com.  EAST COAST BIAS!  FUCK THE EAST COAST!

Now, I’m waiting until during and after Raw to comment about Royal Rumble…that’s what it’s boiled down to these days.  It used to be that PPVs could be taken as stand-alone.  Now they have to be placed in context with the free TV shows (only fair, really; the programming time for original free WWE television outnumbers PPV programming by ten to one).  Of course, it’s been that way for a while now.  The reason I’m doing it this time is because the Raw content of the PPV was left so open by the results of key matches that the only way to comment on it was to wait until Raw for an explanation.  That and the fact that I’m sick and tired of ripping apart every post-PPV column I’ve done over the last two years in order to correct something I’ve written because Raw’s contradicted it, usually for the worse.

So, post-Raw, what did Royal Rumble really mean?

First of all, let’s talk about Randy Orton.  The fake ads have been some of the most entertaining things on Raw in a long time.  They could have escalated into something that really, really meant something at WM, if Foley had just been kept off camera until then.  But, no, they had to have him involved in the Rumble match instead.  You know, if you want instant gratification, go f*ck yourselves.  Sometimes, things need to marinate for a bit before being put on the grill.  Since Randy Orton’s a rather tough cheap cut of meat to begin with, a little marination would have done it wonders.  So all of you who were jacking off because Foley showed up, hope you had a good cum.  Now clean it up before it stains the carpeting, you wastes.

Well, Benoit showed up on Raw, ending that particular anticlimax.  All of us were able to filter out the particular rumors that swirled around the possible Rumble Match results and were able to determine which ones were viable.  The most viable was the Benoit/Trip at WM rumor, so it didn’t come as any surprise, and it became written in stone the moment Benoit went over at the Rumble.  As I stated in the Round Table, I have no problems with this at all.  It’s just that it isn’t an unexpected development.  I still feel that it would have had more impact if he’d abandoned Smackdown (with the attending fooferaw of Heyman threatening suit like he did with Bischoff anyway to get him back) rather than won the Rumble Match and gained the automatic title shot (a stip I wasn’t approving of since before the Brand Extension, and I have columns from 2001 to back that up).

As for who might REALLY be the winner of the Rumble Match, I defer to Slick Rick:

If Spike Dudley never made it to the ring, he was never eliminated, and depending on how Benoit left the ring, he might be the REAL winner of the Royal Rumble.

At the very least, they should have a match to decide it.  And it’d be a relatively painless way to get Benoit some camera time apart from Evolution.

Postponing Kane’s encounter with UT until rolling the ball on Raw might have been a mistake, but if you consider the fact that Raw doesn’t have another PPV until WM, it’s only natural to increase focus on the show to counter Smackdown’s advantage of having a PPV to work through and around to build up its WM program.  So I won’t mark them down on it particularly, despite the implications I made in the Round Table.

Trip/Michaels turning out to be another draw, just like the Raw match, was both a way to safety transition into the Benoit appearance, a satiation for two mammoth egos, and a way to keep this open because, God knows, they’ll need another match between them soon enough to draw an audience.  As I said in the Round Table, irrelevant.

Eddy/Chavito…damn, they can do so much with Nephew that it’s ridiculous.  The guy’s a blank slate for experimentation with a huge amount of potential and ability.  It just shows that no one on the Smackdown creative staff has any scientific background.  If someone like me was there, they’d snap Chavito up in a heartbeat and start plugging him in places to see if either 1) he has a particular fit that he’s best in or 2) he’s as flexible for booking and wrestling purposes as a Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit.  A win at the Rumble would have done him wonders and not hurt Eddy one bit (in fact, it would have helped the rumored Eddy/Lesnar match at No Way Out because Lesnar could have used Eddy losing to Chavito as a goad).  Shame on them.

That’s pretty much all I want to talk about.  This was a PPV that was just there, a trap that they’ve been falling into a lot lately.  Let’s hope that the same fate doesn’t befall WM.

HERE’S YOUR HEAT SPOILERS

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Some guy named Ivan Rothstein posted them:

Val Venis defeated Test in 7:19

Christian defeated Lance Storm in 6:49

Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak defeated Hurricane & Rosey in 5:20 when Cade pinned Rosey

Booker T defeated Matt Hardy in 10:11

Oh, yeah, this’ll get me to tune in.

WELL, AT LEAST IT GIVES THEM SOMETHING TO DO

From the dead-tree Observer:

WWE is planning to have a ten man cruiserweight Battle Royal at WrestleMania XX. The plan is to have the Battle Royal be a pinfall one and not over the top, so that the cruiserweights aren’t confined. The participants would include Rey Mysterio, Tajiri, Chavo Guerrero, Nunzio, Kidman, Akio, Jamie Noble, and three others. One rumor has Dean Malenko coming out of retirement for one night only to participate in the match. Of course, that is just a rumor at this point.

I wouldn’t put stock in this, really.  As much as we’d like to see Malenko come back, maybe the three slots are reserved for guys on the Raw roster.  Novocaine Helms, for example.  Matt Hardy.  Hell, Spike Dudley.  There’s three names for you.  Why confine the Cruiser Battle Royal to Smackdown-only people?  Of course, there isn’t five cruisers on the Raw roster right now, otherwise I’d recommend a Cruiser Survivor Series match between Raw and Smackdown.  Get something in there to burnish the Brand Separation, which should be a high priority for them.  Do I have to do all the thinking for them?  Ugh.

PEOPLE SAY I DON’T TALK ABOUT TNA ENOUGH.  WELL, NOT AT THIS SITE I DON’T…

Again from the dead-tree Observer:

The plan now is for TNA to run a three hour Sunday PPV every three months. The Sunday shows will be held outside of Nashville, with the first being scheduled for April 4th in Fort Campbell, KY.

TNA wants to have a Scott Hall & Kevin Nash vs. Jeff Jarrett & Sting main event for the 4/4 PPV. TNA is also considering bringing Ken Shamrock back.

Interestingly enough, there is still some minor talk of Hulk Hogan making a brief appearance on the PPV, possibly building to something for their next Sunday PPV which would likely take place in Florida.


TNA can also want for immortality and for Jeff Jarrett to have an eleven-inch dick too, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get it.  As seen, the chances of getting Nash without forking out beaucoup for him are nil.  Ken Shamrock is also a maybe at best.  And in order to sell this PPV, they’ll need both of them plus a whole lot more.  Leggett in the article I liked to above had a rather intelligent discussion about why TNA won’t make it.  I agree with most of his assessments, and this type of pie-in-the-sky booking is a good reason why.

AND IT’S OVER

Lionel Tate is a free young man today.  You remember him.  He was the youth who was at the center of an incredible controversy when, as a twelve-year-old (he turns seventeen later this week), he brutalized and killed a six-year-old girl named Tiffany Eunick.  His lawyers then attempted to explain his brutal behavior on a diet of professional wrestling viewing.  Fortunately, no one bought this, and Tate was given life without parole.  The verdict was overturned by an appeals court due to the fact that he was never given a competency hearing, which enabled the retard lawyers to revive the original plea bargain agreement that they rejected the first time.  Tate got the three years he served, plus ten years probation and a year of house arrest, and was released into the custody of his parents on Monday.

Ignore the fact that the little beast should never be let out in public as long as he lives…the descriptions alone of what he did so a FUCKING SIX-YEAR-OLD nauseate even me, a person who believes that the only good person is a dead person.  Ignore the fact that he’s done three years in general population.  Even ignore the fact that he lives in Florida, a state run by an amoral piece of scum that should have been whacked before he had the chance to deal a body blow to America, along with his scheming father and retarded brother.  Let’s deal with the sins of the lawyers.

Back in 1999, we in the IWC treated the Lionel Tate revelations, at face value, as what they were:  a bunch of bullshit designed to contextualize an inconceivable act using a stereotype which, like most stereotypes, was untrue.  Unfortunately, we in the IWC knew wrestling (gee, no shit).  The general public didn’t.  All they were told was that a six-year-old girl was killed by a marauding twelve-year-old maniac because he was imitating stuff he saw while watching wrestling programs.  And they bought it.  And the IWC, with unity rarely seen before or since, became very quiet about Lionel Tate.  We weren’t supporting something that had produced the NWO and Attitude anymore.  We were supporting something that was a contributory cause, according to the defendant’s own attorneys, to the death of a six-year-old girl.  Best stay silent about the whole thing and pretend it’s not happening.

In retrospect, this whole situation is the funhouse mirror version of the situation in Fritz Lang’s M.  We took the part of the criminals in the movie, but this time, instead of trying to catch the kindermoerder, we ignored him and hoped that he’d go away.  In the meantime, the PR flacks for the federations took the lead and tried to downplay everything, a job that we should have been in the vanguard of but weren’t.  We can fantasy-book, but we can’t defend something we love when it’s under assault?  Or did we think that we didn’t have to?  This was 1999, wrestling was going strong, and the cycle of boom-bust seemed to have been circumvented.  What little we knew.

Now that this whole situation is, for all intents and purposes, over (the legal Ts must be crossed and Is dotted), we can look at it from a more rational standpoint.  Was the IWC right to just blow it off as the product of a deranged mind (the lawyers, not Tate)?  And what ramifications did the Tate incident actually have?

No, I don’t think we were right to be silent.  However, I still can’t, to this day, figure out what we could have done.  Could we have tried to convince the marks that wrestling was innocent?  We certainly couldn’t have said that wrestling wasn’t violent.  And to convince the marks, we would have had to throw kayfabe completely out of the window.  Now, this was 1999.  The leading lights of the IWC still weren’t comfortable with all of the breaking of kayfabe that the WWF, especially, was doing on a weekly basis.  Types like Keller, Meltzer, and Scherer are a lot like Vince:  very conservative in their views on how wrestling should be, even as they’re circumventing them on a daily basis.  Maybe if the IWC had put up some sort of defense, then the fact that watching wrestling was used as a defense in the Tate case wouldn’t have been mentioned in the news feed stories on Monday.  It’s too late now, though.

But because that defense wasn’t put up, the negative connotations of wrestling went through unchallenged.  And the people who really control the future of wrestling are the ones who bought into Tate’s defense:  marks and advertisers.  The exposure of the Tate case came at a time when ratings were just beginning to drop, and the drop could have been arrested at that point.  I’m not saying that Lionel Tate caused the decline in wrestling that persists to this day, but I am saying that it was a contributory factor.  This is something that’s not been pointed out a great deal by anyone in the IWC, because we’re still keeping that conspiracy of silence going regarding Tate.

Now that it’s over, maybe, at last, someone other than me can talk about this and let us get some perspective.  I doubt that will happen, though.

Ah, I don’t even know why I’m commenting about this.  Let’s just go take a trip up the Hershey Highway for Raw…

THE SHORT FORM

Match Results:

The Members Of Evolution Who Aren’t Sleeping With The Booker over Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam (Pinfall, Batista pins Jericho, Orton RKO):  One of the first things you learn as an actor is to never blow your first entrance or last exit.  Those are the impressions that the audience remembers.  I learned this particular lesson at the age of five.  Someone, though, did not, and it’s going to cost everyone in this match a little bit of their reps.  This match is going to be pissed on because of Randy Orton blowing the first RKO, and that’s unfortunate.  Before that, it was Psychologyfest 101, with Jericho going after Dave’s knee to set up the Walls and every member of Evolution working on Van Dam’s shoulder…Van Dam’s shoulder?  Why bother?  Van Dam doesn’t use his shoulder.  I’ll give them points for effort, though.  And if you can ignore the botched ending, so should you.

By the way, when Ross was indulging himself over Randy Orton’s “perfect execution of an arm-bar”, did anyone else think that, somewhere, Herb Kunze was sporting an incredible amount of wood?

TATU over Tina Turner and Pat Benatar (Pinfall, Victoria pins Holly, inside cradle):  The good news is that they gave the women some time.  The bad news is that this match was booked to waste it.  I don’t fault the women; they did a decent job (they could even kayfabe the blown reversal combination between Victoria and Jazz as being due to Victoria still being battered, and did).  But it was just…well, dull.

Buh Buh Ray Dudley versus Kane (uh….):  No way did I watch this match.  With Kane and Buh Buh Ray’s goddamn shorts, the chances for permanent retinal damage were too high, and my LASIK’s long out of warranty.  But we were able to prove something:  the Undertaker is a leading cause of epilepsy.  Never let me have to see that particular video ever again.

Faux Faggot over Faux French Sympathizer (Pinfall, spinning heel tits…uh, kick):  And so Rico is officially a face courtesy of the imprimatur of My Beautiful and Beloved.  However, Gayda’s inadvertant and then purposeful revealing of her decolletage overshadowed what was a pretty decent match between Constantino and Conway.  It’s proof positive that WWE actually does listen to the Net.  When was the only time when Jackie Gayda ever got positive press from us?  When she let her nipple slip.  Never on Tough Enough, and certainly not after the Gayda Incident a year and a half ago.  So have her pull out her ta-tas and watch the fourteen-year-olds of all ages that comprise the IWC start salivating.  Good plan.  It even works with me.  MORE OF JACKIE’S TITS!

Bill Goldberg over Jonathan Coachman and, effectively, Mark Henry (Pinfall, Goldberg pins Coachman, duh):  How about a nice cup of I Don’t Give A Shit?

Angle Developments:

Sybil Goes To Winnipeg…:  Does Chris Jericho actually think that mixing up Howard Dean references and Mick Foley promo style, plus adding a bit of Austin to boot, is something good?  Please, someone tell him the error of his ways, and smack his ass before he does it again.

…And His Partner, The Stepford Canuck…:  Memo to Christian:  The intensity in your promo with Jericho was all well and good.  However, it came out of nowhere and was very jarring.  This is the type of thing that I take pills for, Reso.  It would have been more effective if you’d have played it more modulated and low-key.  It would have sounded less petulant, and definitely got the impression that you had Jericho’s best interests in mind across.

…And Their Pal, The Rabid Wolverine:  Three Canadian references in a row.  Keith is going to give this one *****.  Well, there was the unexpected expected event we all knew about.  But Benoit is back on Raw, where I’ve missed him so, and that’s all I care about.  I wuv u, Chwis.  I ignored the rest of it, since we’ve all seen Trip, Michaels, and especially Wife-Beater do this before.  What I am pissed about is that Heyman, during the phone conversation, didn’t say anything about this being the second time that Bisch has stolen Benoit away from him.  Now that would have given it a personal aspect that they could have played off of for a WM confrontation between them (with stips like free access for one star from one show each week on the other, or something).

And Some Non-Canadian Content At The Close:  What can you say about Mick Foley?  Blading for a promo is just an example of how great he is in going above and beyond.  Again, a magnificent job by him, but a lost opportunity.  I personally think that the WM confrontation between them would have been enhanced if Orton had started the ball rolling by telling Flair and Dave to back off.  That casts it more in the area of Orton realizing that Foley still has it and that he’ll have to earn his status as both Legend-Killer and Hardcore Legend (isn’t that self-contradictory?).  That way, Orton could have gained some depth to his character and started on his way toward greater acceptance by the audience.  The cocky young heel act isn’t working for him.  A change would have done him good.  That conclusion, of course, was predicated on the fact that Foley came back during the Rumble Match, something that, as I said above, I don’t approve of.

And a change will do me good.  See me over in Black tomorrow, where I’ll discuss things like Academy Awards nominations and dead children’s TV hosts.