The Voice Of Reason News Hour 01.30.04

I’m starting this little thing early this week, it’s now 1pm on THURSDAY which means I’m writing this intro before I get to see Smackdown tonight. I’ll write those parts later tonight. There is so much to cover this week that I need the extra time to avoid the 5pm Friday posting fiasco of last week.

Actually I ended up not getting back to this until today at 1PM. Oh well.

The Land of McMahon
Monday Night Raw this week had its highest rating in months, again hitting 4.0 and for once, WWE delivered a bigtime show for a big audience.

No matter what you feel about the rest of the show on Monday, it is hard to find fault in Mick Foley’s incredible interview segment. The way it was built, and the emotion and eclectic nature of what he was saying sold the storyline very well. He set up the hatred theme and then embarrassed Orton by berating him and having Orton cower in fear. The build for this match should continue to be strong headed into WM.

Elsewhere on Raw, Jericho’s subtle face turn continues, as does his storyline with Trish, although I’m enjoying it less now than before. Goldberg cut a decent and intense promo to continue his issue with Brock Lesnar, and the Undertaker video was creepy and well produced.

On Smackdown it was almost like the PPV part 2. Rey Mysterio and Jamie Noble were given a bunch more time and put on a good match with a satisfying storyline payoff when Nidia turned. I wonder what happened with the PPV timing, because this had a PPV feel to it, while the PPV match had a TV match feel.

It was strange to see Cole and Tazz go over the Kane/Undertaker feud because all of the video showed Kane who is a Raw guy. I think the brand extension is really being put to good use with the build for Wrestlemania, because these cross-promotional matches seem like something special.

The story of Eddie Guerrero being taken out backstage and then coming in to win the mini Royal Rumble drove the show, and it worked. The crowd was into Guerrero and Angle was definitely showing signs of a heel turn. I was confused to see Rikishi get such a big push in this Rumble, I’d much rather have seen Matt Morgan get that push, but that’s not in their plans. The Guerrero/Brock match is on for No Way Out.

TNA This Week
Sadly the O.C. is in repeats, so I got a chance to check out NWA:TNA again this week, and it wasn’t pretty. The continued push of Erik Watts just doesn’t make sense to me – is there really 1 person in America buying TNA to see this guy? When I see stuff like this and ICP and the Survivor guy, I see a desperate promotion doing anything for a shred of publicitiy. But at what cost? When those supposed new people do buy a TNA PPV, is this really the product that would hook them for another week?

The Chris Sabin/Michael Shane match was a good match, and those guys have been the focal point of the X Division for the better part of 6 months. I’m intrigued as to where the angle with Shane Douglas is going too.

When did the red and black shirt security become weekly wrestlers? Is the budget that tight?

Royal Rumble Post Mortem
It’s almost a week old, but the Royal Rumble is still a hot topic. First I’ll go through how I did with my predictions, then I have a special edition of Analyzing WWE Pushes for the Rumble match itself, which did a fantastic job of elevating a bunch of guys this year.

Royal Rumble Match
My prediction:

The Royal Rumble match itself is probably my #1 favorite thing in wrestling every year, and I don’t think I’m alone in that opinion. Here is the list of everyone in the match:

Out of these lists, I think Goldberg, Angle, Cena, Benoit have the best shots at winning. That’s four guys, and you could probably also argue Undertaker (if he’s the TBD), Orton and Kane if you tried too.

Doesn’t seem to make sense to me to give Goldberg the Rumble victory, I don’t think he’d gain much and he’s looking to exit the promotion anyway. Cena would be awesome, but you don’t want to push him too much too fast or it wont work. That leaves Benoit, who is everyone’s pick, and Angle. Angle guaranteed the win for the troops, which seemed to indicate at the time that he would win. Then again, Benoit has been positioned so much to win this thing, that it would be a letdown for him to not come out on top. I’m going to pick Benoit, but I also read a great theory by Pat McNeil on Torch, where he predicts Angle will win the rumble, Benoit traded to Raw for Goldberg, Angle puts up the title shot at No Way Out against Goldberg, who wins and faces Brock at WMXX. So that’s another great theory.
Prediction: Benoit

Benoit was the man they went with, now let’s see how he’s booked until, during and after ‘mania.

Raw World Title – Triple H (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
Last Man Standing

It’s still amazing to me that Shawn Michaels is not only back in WWE, but is back as one of the top, if not THE top worker on the main event level. For fans who went through the Monday Night Wars, HBK was one guy that was totally written off as injured and never coming back. Now here we are, 1.5 years after his comeback and he is on the road and as good as ever.

I’m going to pick Hunter, but I’d really much rather see HBK win the title. But by the same token, I don’t want to see HBK win the title and drop it again in a day week or month, so in that sense, I’d like to see Hunter keep the title and go into WM20 with some momentum.
Prediction: HHH

HHH did keep the title, so I was essentially right. The match just didn’t connect with me like the Raw match did and the end was much more flat (if you could believe that)

Smackdown World Title Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Bob Holly
Last Fan Still Awake

I understand what WWE was trying to do here, but they have just gone about it all wrong. If they wanted Holly to really be a serious contender for the title, why did they clearly push both Cena and Benoit as top faces above Holly? Why didn’t Holly get ANY big singles victories? If you cant beat the Big Show in the storylines, you clearly cant beat Brock either. I would have preferred them put Brock into the Rumble match itself and declare his desire for a Raw Title shot.
Prediction: Brock

Thank god this is about over.

Raw World Tag Team Titles – Ric Flair and Batista (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz
Tables Match

It’s said that the Dudleyz always lose tables matches, and while I don’t know the statistics, I’d say they are likely to lose here too. The promotion gains nothing from changing these titles here, better saved for a February Raw or WMXX.
Prediction: Evolution

Another short, pretty weak match on the PPV.

WWE Cruiserweight Title – Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Jamie Noble

Actually a well built storyline surrounding the cruiserweight title! This is another weird match because it doesn’t seem like Jamie Noble has any chance to win the title here.
Prediction: Rey

Much better on Smackdown. Why put a match like this on PPV, they would have been better off taking off one of these very short matches to give the other short matches a few extra minutes each.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

I have really enjoyed how they have been going about this storyline, and the match has been built up well. Eddie is rumored to have a title shot against Brock in February, so that seems to take the wind of the sails of this match and feud a bit, but I’m going to ignore that rumor for now.

I think it will be a long, technical match where both guys will attempt to cheat to win. In the end I think Chavo Sr will get involved, as will Angle, and Eddie will come out on top.
Prediction: Eddie

Eddie obliterated his nephew in the match and post match beatdown, and seems ready to move up the card. He is now in the main event title match at No Way Out. It will be interesting to see how Chavo is booked.

Analyzing WWE Pushes – Royal Rumble Match Special
I usually do this between PPVs, but the Rumble match is a special case. I will instead talk about some of the most prominent wrestlers in the Rumble, and analyze their upcoming push based around how WWE handled them in the Rumble.

Each wrestler will have their Rumble appearance judged as Strong, Good, Moderate, Lackluster or Poor, based on how they were portrayed

Raw
Randy Orton:
Orton was #2 to Benoit’s #1, and stayed in the Rumble for a good half hour. He was only eliminated when Mick Foley came down, and only when Foley eliminated both Orton and himself. Orton came off like a star in the match.
Overall Status: Strong

Chris Jericho:
A late entrant, Jericho did have a decent showing and was one of the final four. However it never really seemed as if he was going to win.
Overall Status: Moderate

Goldberg: :
He came in and dominated in a short time. The announcers positioned it as if he would have been a favorite to win if Brock had not come down and given him the F5, so even though he didn’t log a lot of minutes in the match, he still came out of it strong.
Overall Status: Good

Smackdown
Chris Benoit:
Drawing #1 in a full length Rumble and then winning is the strongest push you can get in a Rumble match. Add to that eliminating the Big Show, who previously couldn’t be eliminated by a group of many wrestlers, and Benoit is boosted to the top.
Overall Status: Strong

Matt Morgan:
A surprise in the early part of the match, Morgan stood out as extra tall and large in a ring of multiple big guys. He was booked fairly strong but didn’t last until late in the Rumble. Still probably the strongest he has looked since debuting.
Overall Status: Good

The Big Show:
What can you say, it’s an easy formula. Giant + Battle Royal = Domination. Andre did it for years, and the Big Show is booked in a very similar way. He just looks so gigantly fat now its quite gross.
Overall Status: Strong

Wrestlemania Countdown – 6 Weeks to go!
With the Rumble in the history books, the full WMXX card will be coming into focus over the next few weeks.

Chris Benoit made the long rumored move to the Raw brand to “screw” Paul Heyman and Smackdown, so he is on track to face HHH at WM. With HBK still in the picture, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Raw World Title match at mania could be a three way dance.

Goldberg and Brock continued their feud with promos this week, and the Kane/Undertkare issue started up again at the Rumble and then on Raw.

Foley’s promo seems to indicate that he is looking for a one on one match with Randy Orton. I would be disappointed at this point if they teamed Foley with the Rock against Orton and another member of Evolution.

The Smackdown title match at No Way Out will probably go a long way in deciding what two matches will be at mania. If Goldberg interferes and costs Brock the title, then their match at Mania would be non title, while the projected Eddie Guerrero/Kurt Angle match would be for the title. Of course, Angle could cost Eddie and heat up that feud as well.

With the storylines heading into Wrestlemania, here is my projected card thusfar:

WWE Smackdown Title
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Goldberg

WWE Raw Title
HHH (c) vs. Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit

WWE IC Title
Randy Orton (c) vs. Mick Foley

WWE US Title
The Big Show (c) vs. John Cena

WWE Cruiserweight Title
Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Chavo Guerrero

Kane vs. The Undertaker

Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle

Chris Jericho vs. Christian

The HOT Seat
This week in the hot seat is one of 411’s most wily veterans, PK. He does the Raw report most Mondays and runs that crazy section of the ‘mania called 411 Figures.

1. We always start with geometry, what does it mean if a line bisects an angle?

PK: that there are two equal angles?

Hot Seat Judges:
Yup, that is correct.
1 out of 1

2. WWE is pretending not to know, but it’s clearly going to be Sable and Torrie Wilson as the Playboy tag team in the March issue. In your opinion, what would be WWE’s best possible tag team to appear in Playboy?

PK: 2 years ago, Billy & Chuck, but right now, since there is no such thing as a female tag team I’d have to say a nice pictorial of HHH giving it up the ass to RVD or Booker T would make a crystal clear point

Hot Seat Judges:
The correct answer is Stacy Keibler and Victoria.
1 out of 2

3. Seriously, figures?

PK: Yes, seriously. I have enough action figures to fill your small ass Manhatten apartment that you pay way too much for…as a matter of fact, I probably spent more money on figures last year then your whole year’s worth of rent

Hot Seat Judges:
The judges don’t appreciate your tone.
1 out of 3

4. In 40 words or less, book the next 2 months of matches and buildup for the Raw World Title, involving HBK, HHH and Chris Benoit, leading to a match am WMXX:

PK: I think it’s pretty clear that Austin will give HBK his ‘one more shot’ in a Triple Threat match at WMXX, that way Benoit could pin HBK instead of tarnishing the great name of HHH`

Hot Seat Judges:
That is exactly how we would have booked it
2 out of 4

5. Tell me you think of this idea for a new column.. it would be called the 3 month rule, and I would talk about storylines that were totally forgotten after only a few months and then were even contradicted! What do you think??

PK: WOW!?! That is a GREAT idea. I mean, think of all the things that we have forgotten. Do you remember that A-Train has a “VV” tattoo on his ass thanks to Val Venis? How about the UNION? Oh ya, remember when Mr. Hughes was Jericho’s bodygaurd?!? NO, YOU DON’T, BECAUSE MY COLUMN IDEA GOT SHUT DOWN 4 YEARS AGO!!!

Hot Seat Judges:
Still bitter PK?
3 out of 5

Cream of the Crop

Zone of the Week: 411 Black – Thanks to more active participation this week, 411 black finally is beginning to show why it could be so great. Daniels is now the head editor for black, so check out more goodness in the weeks to come. Here are some of this week’s highlights:

Writer of the Week: Aaron Conley
He pulled off a very rare TRIPLE ZONE WEEK contributing to wrestling, music and movies!

It was earlier this week, but Ron Gamble returned with an all new World According to Ron

Straight from Iraq, Jeremy Botter checks in with his Analsys of Royal Rumble 2004

Chris Biscuiti had a great edition of Counterfeit Pennies this week talking about the impact of Mick Foley’s promo.

Check out Evocator’s interview with Fuse TV’s metal chick Juliya

Over in figures, PK has a review of the latest WWE Set, Summerslam.

Headin’ Home
The last News Hour in January already! Time is just flying by lately.

Enjoy the weekend at 411 and the superbowl!