Thank God for the Armed Forces Network. It’s the only station we get over here in Iraq, and thankfully they realize that a lot of military folk are wrestling fans and want to be able to see the shows WWE puts out. I discovered a few days ago that they not only show Smackdown and Raw, but ALSO the PPV events. Granted, they don’t come on until 3 in the morning and 2-3 days later, but at least the option is there for those of us who want to endure the sleepless nights and enjoy the shows. It’s usually a double negative Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I waste three precious hours of sleep time and the WWE puts out 3 hours of crappy entertainment. This time, however, was entirely worth the price paid to watch it. Believe me, you’ve never experienced true wrestling until you are watching a Eddie Guerrero match and mortar rounds explode about a mile away from you.
If you’ve never read one of my Analysis reports before, then here’s a brief introduction: I tell you what was good and bad, and give you match ratings for each match. At the end, I’ll put together a concluding paragraph and assign the show an Overall Show Rating. The OSR is done on the same scale as matches are Ã¢â‚¬â€œ five stars being the highest and negative five stars being the lowest. I do the OSR’s so you’ll have something to compare shows with; the highest OSR I’ve ever given out was WrestleMania X at ****3/4. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to google all my previous reports so I can post a general listing of the ratings I’ve given out for individual shows.
These reports are not detailed; they’re intended to be a quick n’ dirty recap letting you know what was good and what was bad. If you want detail, go read recaps by The Dames over at thesmartmarks.com, because they are the most in-depth reviews available these days.
Oh, and I’ve also added a meta section to the introduction where I can touch on things I want to talk about. They may or may not pertain to wrestling, but hopefully it’ll at least be entertaining. The actual wrestling portion is divided by a thin line, so you can skip down to that if that’s all you’re looking to read.
THE META NONSENSE
– Can anyone provide the name or download location of a good, free virus scanning package (Mr. Szulczewski, I’m looking at you)? I’m not talking about an online scan, either Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Trend Micro has a good one, but I need something that I can download and continually update. I’ve been using McAfee since it came free with my computer, but I’ve had too many hassles with it and I’m getting ready to wipe it from my computer entirely.
– Speaking of software Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I’m on the beta/creative team for Total Extreme Warfare, and I’m pleased to let you know that the game is coming along quite nicely and will completely rock your world here in a few months when it’s formally released. I’d say the game is about 80% complete at this point, but even the unfinished version of the game is better than any wrestling simulator I’ve ever played. Of course, there’s not a whole lot of competition in that category Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the only thing it’s competing against is the versions of EWR that Adam has released in the past. TNM is good, but comes nowhere NEAR the level of replayability that TEW will offer you. It’s worth every penny of the $35 that you’ll pay for it, believe me. The coolest thing about the game is that 90% of the features included in the game came directly from fan suggestions in the outstanding user community. Go get involved and help shape TEW 2005.
– In case you didn’t catch the link Eric tossed up at Black yesterday, there’s an interview with me in last week’s edition of The Guardian. The interview mostly covers items about my website, which can be found here. As Eric also mentioned, I’m becoming quite the media darling these days because of the site; CBS is coming out Tuesday afternoon at 1300 to interview me about the site and my experiences here.
– I realize this is probably a little redundant, but the fact that Sean Astin was excluded from the Best Supporting Actor category of the Academy Awards is an outrage. That’s NEARLY as bad as Johnny Depp being left off the same list, too. Yes, I realize he’s up for Best Actor, but his work in Once Upon A Time In Mexico was amazing and likely better than any other supporting role this year outside of Astin in Return Of The King.
I agree with most of Eric’s choices in his predictions column, but there’s hardly any chance for Murray to win Best Actor. Yes, he did an incredible job in Lost In Translation, but will the Academy actually take him as a serious contender when nearly everything he’s ever done involves idiot humor? If Murray or Depp wins, then color me thrilled.
Chris Benoit Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Obviously, this is one of the better things the WWE has done in the past few years. Not only did Benoit earn the rights to headline WrestleMania, but he also gave the best showing ever for a single wrestler in the Royal Rumble. Make no mistake about it Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the Rumble was Benoit’s breakthrough moment from the time he stepped in the ring at #1 until the time he tossed out the gigantic Big Show to win the match. Yes, he might just be another notch on Triple H’s belt, but for the time being he’s been elevated to the top of the card and will be headlining the 20th Anniversary Edition of the biggest wrestling show of the year. I’m content to sit back and enjoy the ride, no matter what the destination is.
The Undertaker’s Bells Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The kid in me marked out when the lights went out and the all-too-familiar bells began to echo throughout the arena. I’d always hoped Taker would go back to his original gimmick but could never quite figure out a good transition from his biker gimmick to the old one. They are going about it perfectly and building it slowly instead of rushing things, which is absolutely perfect. Strangely enough, I really want to see Kane vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania, and that’s something I never thought I’d actually put down on paper.
Short Matches Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I guess they figured they were pressed for time, but that’s no excuse for shortening up the matches so much Ã¢â‚¬â€œ especially when you end the PPV 15 minutes early. You spend so much time building up angles like the Guerreros and Brock/Holly, and then give them the same amount of time that a normal Raw or Smackdown match would get? The Brock match I can understand, because no one in their right mind wanted to see Holly do anything other than get completely squashed. The Los Guerreros match should have gone MUCH longer, because not only was it the hottest angle on the Smackdown side of things, but it featured two guys who can deliver a stellar match if given the right amount of time. Please, WWE…if you’re going to devote so much time to an angle, then let the payoff be bigger and longer.
— Royal Rumble: *****
— Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels: ****
— Chavo vs. Eddie: ***
— Brock Lesnar vs. Bob Holly: **
— The Dudley Boyz vs. Batista/Flair: *
— Rey Misterio vs. Jamie Noble: *
Well, the Rumble and Last Man Standing matches saved this show. Without them, we’d be looking at another poor PPV outing from WWE, but because of the strength of those two matches the show will get a much better rating than it likely deserves. No matter what happens from here on out, the 04 version of the Royal Rumble belonged solely to Chris Benoit. Do yourselves a favor and buy the DVD when it’s released, because that one single match is one for the ages.
OVERALL SHOW RATING (OSR): ***1/2
Jeremy Botter | Letters From Iraq