Haley’s Comment 04.07.04

Let’s start out with some much-needed praise for our columnists. I’m doing a bad job with the links, but I assure you it is because my head is turned in about five different directions at once while I write this, not because the columnists aren’t producing some fine material. That’s why I call it:

Missing Links

Blake Norton backs up a point that I’ve been making for a long time – sometimes an announce team can make or break an entire show. In this case, Blake feels that Coach just about ruined the entire idea of watching Heat on Sunday with an offhand remark.

While I’m on the subject, regular reader Chris checks in with this observation:

Is it just me, or does the RAW announce team seem a lot better now that King has added a heel edge back into his character? A few months ago, the commentating seemed so bad that it was drawing attention to itself (in a bad way) and interfering with the rest of the product. It’s just much better now. As for a specific “little thing,” here’s a cute exchange from the beginning of the HHH/Benjamin match when Batista rang the opening bell…

King: “Look at what a great job he’s doing! The match has officially started!”

JR: “You’re easily impressed, aren’t you? The new phone books are here too, by the way…”

King: “Oh, come on JR, this is serious business.”

Another funny bit saw the King saying that Batista’s watch would have to be really heavy for a big man like him to assume the role of guest timekeeper. I can see Jerry’s heel instincts kick in when he watches an Evolution match. They are the type of heels he can identify with – cocky, dominant, gets the girls, etc. It’s the stuff involving pro-America wrestlers and puppies that throws him off. Faces are supposed to like that stuff in WWe, while a heel would take a more moral stance on puppies and an anti-American stance on patriotism. The Memphis citizen in King just won’t let that happen.

He has been better recently, though.

Jeremy Botter doesn’t really care for Lance Storm. Well, the little things aren’t really with the guy, so I can’t argue with that. That dance of his was a rather pedestrian attempt at humor, but back in the day that “If I could be serious for a minute” line with his facial expression was pretty good. It takes more than that though to be a star like Rock, Cena or Jericho, though.

More About The Benjamins, Baby

Some interesting feedback from my stance last week that HHH should’ve won and entered into a more drawn-out program with Shelton instead of rerunning the three-way main event from WMXX.

What surprised me the most is that some of you simply were willing to take what HHH would give since it is so rare that the dude actually puts someone over. I understand that, but I think that is settling, personally. If there is a more effective way of achieving a goal (getting Shelton over), I think it needs to be explored.

I certainly wasn’t impressed with the direction from last night. Shelton gets another fluke win and then decimated afterwards. If he is lucky, he’ll get some time in the 8-man next week, but the key here is that these flukes don’t make him look as strong as he could and he has no real opponent going into Backlash or focused story to get some character development going. At some point they have to let HHH focus on the main event that has been planned for him and at the end of RAW you got the sense that they were trying to do just that.

The underlying idea here is that I fully believe HHH could help create a major star in Shelton better than the traditional midcard route at this point. Shelton has been over enough in the ring to merit consideration for a shot and HHH really has nothing better to do at this point in time anyway (Benoit vs. Michaels was the natural feud to proceed WM and HHH has a movie role coming up). Yes, the midcard is typically where the stars are created and moved up the ladder, but I see an opportunity to be had with an idle HHH and at the same time I don’t see Rhyno or Albert as being the guys to help Shelton get over. I spend a lot of time focusing on which little things can make or break a main event player in the fed, but the same rules apply to the midcard. I think back to some of the midcarders that I loved in the past and what they did Arn Anderson begging off in the corner and motioning for a timeout, Scott Hall’s paintbrushing of an opponent and dusting off his hands off after a victory, Owen’s “Woo” and Slammy Awards, for examples and I don’t see a lot of that in today’s midcard.

The Little Things

Let’s do this. There were actually a ton of a nice little spots on last night’s show.

1. This Drinks On Me

The spit bucket and stool were nice touches for Orton’s role as guest trainer in last night’s Shelton/HHH match, but it’s not the little things you have but what you do with them that really matters. When tossing Shelton back inside the ring, Randy actually took a sip out of the water bottle and that struck me as really funny. As if all of that effort he expended required a much needed break. I can’t tell for sure if he did it on purpose, but I like the idea. Little things like this are what I really need to see out of him before I can fully buy into his push.

2. Out Of The Mothballs

Mick’s excellent promo mentioned some of Foley’s favorite little things, so it was only natural that I mention them here. Certainly the barbed wire baseball bat is one of his most familiar symbols, but that flannel he wore got my attention. Not only did he stress how important it is to his blue-collar worth ethic, but the thing actually looked like he had dragged it out of the attic. It had actual tears in the back and the way it hung like a rag over his shoulders was silly in that Socko kind of way we all enjoy.

3. Snapped

If you’ll remember one of my drunken stupors while attending a live WWe event, you’ll know that I love it when the unexpected happens. This includes the middle rope of the ring snapping during a live match. It reminds us that what we are watching is real and that wrestlers in the ring have to improvise when things come up. Kane’s positioning of that chair in the corner would be one such example.

This is why I like watching RAW over SmackDown despite the fact that John Cena is over there. I like the fact that something like this might happen, that the crowd reactions are authentic and that errors can be made. I don’t like a lot of editing, make up and scripting to entertain me the way someone thinks I should be entertained. I’d rather watch what happens for myself and interpret it the way I see fit. It’s the same reason I think a lot of us watch sports. The athletes are imperfect yet trying their best and you never know what will happen during a live telecast.

4. A Nitro To Remember

Reader Kerry Blanchard was quick to jump on this item. Keith liked it, Eric S. liked it, and so should you:

Hey, I know a bunch of other people are gonna send this one in, so here’s hoping I’m first:

Little Thing: Johnny Nitro’s entrance music for the Benoit-Conway match, I’m 99% sure that was Monday Nitro’s old entrance music

Unfortunately, nostalgia kicks tend to be short-lived. It was great to hear that old music for one night, but I can see that one losing its luster over time.

Another funny thing about Nitro was when Benoit smacked him on his injured arm on his way to the ring.

5. Say Uncle

Finally, I offer you proof that the Little Things will allow one to enjoy just about anything. My good friend Bill of the Harvard education expresses his love for the Eugene angle. He claims that a wrestling idiot sets up wonderful scenarios like the bit where he ended up licking King’s face while doing a Bushwhacker impersonation and the potential for one-liners is endless. This is similar to the charm found in the old Saturn/Moppy angle that they tried a few years ago.

Readers’ Picks – Left Hanging

Virgil Wade notices something about Cena, thus assuring himself of some column space:

I didn’t even catch it until I was watching After Burn on Saturday evening, but go back and watch John Cena’s Match with the FBI on SmackDown! After the match, Cena goes over to taunt Rene Dupree and gives Taz(z) a pound (you know, that thing where they pound fists and stuff). The funny part came when Cole was sticking his fist out for a pound too, and just gets ignored like he wasn’t sitting there. Little thing, but funny continuation of the “Cena picks on Cole” sub-angle

And that’s it for me this week. Keep the comments coming.