Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 04.13.04

Hootie (Johnson) has the televised diction of a mid 50’s Marijuana and Masturbation Health studies video.  So white, so stodgy and so America. – Fleabag

Okay, you people have been reading me long enough to know the drill on this one.  You know that something will take priority over anything dealing with wrestling a half-dozen times a year.  I already did it a couple weeks ago for the first of those six occurrences, and this one’s obviously the most important out of that bunch.  Easter Sunday marks the Wrestlemania of the golf world, and the results were definitely a golf fan’s equivalent to WM.  In fact, they were even better.  So I have every right to talk about it, and I am.  So f*ck you.

AN AMERICAN, A SOUTH AFRICAN, AND A KOREAN WALK ON TO A COURSE IN GEORGIA…

(Before you skip this, heed the words of The Pride of Dartmouth His Own Self:

I’m actually going to pay attention to the golf section of your column this week. I usually skip it – not a big golf fan – but since Mickelson finally won a major, I figure I ought to pay attention.

If he can read this, so can you.)

“The sun rises in the east.”

“No matter where you go, there you are.”

“Anything that can happen, will happen.”

“Phil Mickelson is the greatest golfer to have never won a major.”

Whoops.

So now what do we do?

I mean, we sort of suspected this might happen someday.  And given the evidence of the last three years, with three straight thirds, we suspected it might happen at Augusta.  And given how well he was playing so far this season, we suspected it might happen this year.  But we weren’t prepared.  We weren’t ready to confront having to reassess this question, the one thing that has the tendency to divide golfers like “What is the nature of sin?” divides theologians.  Fleabag and I were talking on Friday, and both of us were speculating to hell and back about who’d win and what the final score would be (I said ten under, ‘Bag said six under, so I win the closest-to-the-pin competition on that one).  But we did agree on one thing:  it wouldn’t be Lefty.  He’d choke again somehow.

He didn’t.  He birdied the seventy-second hole to win the f*cker away from Boring Ol’ Ernie, who has to wait for his jacket fitting again.  With a clutch f*cking putt, no less.  And now we’re stuck in a philosophical quandary.  Thanks, Lefty.  Thanks a whole f*cking bunch.

(And if I was complaining about the booking at the Super Bowl, I have a WHOLE LOT MORE reason to complain about the booking at the Masters.  They repeated the booking from 1998 to a tee, so to speak:  popular, successful veteran who’d never won a major winning the Masters with a birdie putt of about fifteen feet on the seventy-second hole to finish at nine under.  How much more of a direct copy could you get?  Corny said that the statute of limitations on angle repetition is seven years.  So they should have waited two more years to be safe.)

So now we have to ask that question again and find a new answer.  Who is the best golfer out there who has never won a major?  Does it revert to the person who held that title before Lefty, Colin Montgomerie?  He’s been on the comeback trail lately, and he had a decent Masters, but missed the cut…

…and I want to talk about that group for a second.  If you set up an invitational and only gave out chits to the guys who finished at five or six over after Friday, you’d have a helluva tournament on your hands.  Start with some guy named Jack, then move on to Ray Floyd, Craig Stadler, Mike Weir (defending champion of this puppy, if you remember), Darren Clarke, Chinese golfer Zhang Lian-Wei (who impressed a helluva lot of people, enough so that he got tons of invites for sponsors’ exemptions to events in the US for later this year), Craig Parry, Fred Funk, Ben Curtis, Rich Beem, Larry Mize, Jeff Maggert…that’s four former Masters champions, the reigning Masters and Open champions, and those first two names are on the short list for Greatest Of All Time.  And, oh, yeah, let’s not forget John Daly, who ended up as part of the group thanks to a mental f*ck-up that’s about a .7 Van De Velde.  I was watching this one on Friday and couldn’t believe it.  Going into 18, Daly was right on the cut line at +4.  He’d had a terrible round on Thursday, but was kicking ass to get back into it.  He was sitting two just off the green.  Simple sequence from there, right?  Take the chip nice and easy, get it close, sink the putt, take the par, walk off, and get some rest for an early tee time tomorrow.  Somehow, he got some bad info or did some stupid math trick, and when walking up to chip the ball, firmly believed that the cut line was at +3 and that he needed to sink the chip.  So he muscled the f*cker to make a strong run at it, went about forty feet past the hole, and ended his tournament with a two-putt bogey.  Yeah, stupid, but it does show me one good thing about the Rotund One:  he’s got his fire back.  Made in it by the skin of his teeth, and then wasn’t going to say die until it was over.  The Open is going to be something with him in the field.  Remember, he won at St. Andrews in 1995, so he knows how to play that course.  And that’s where Tigger’s probably going to set his sights on getting the mojo back as well.  It’ll be a hot time in Scotland later this year.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.  The Loch Ness Monster’s been playing well again.  He missed the cut by three, but so did two guys who own a total of four green jackets between them (Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo), as did the guy who lost in last year’s playoff, Len Mattiace.  But he may be the most dominant golfer in the history of the EuroTour, even more dominant than Seve in his day, and he’s won again over there this year to get his world ranking into reasonable shape.  Is he the holder of the dubious title by default?  He’s 40 now and his chances are running out.  Justin Rose (who self-destructed on Saturday worse than Tigger did) and Sergio have been around for a while, but they’re only 23, like Adam Scott.  Most of the names on the list would be younger guys.  The only other person who may have an honest claim to the Best Player To Never Win A Major gong may be Monty’s compatriot from across the Irish Sea, Padraig Harrington.

Now him I can see, despite him only being a pro for nine years.  He’s 32 and has been hot for years now, but he’s never come through in majors.  He’s also been hot shit this year.  Made it into the Elite Eight at the Ass-Enter, second at the Players’, fourth at the BellSouth…the guy doesn’t play in America that often, but when he does, he scores.  Got into the weekend at Augusta on the cut line, then charged to finish at even, which was enough to get him an automatic invite to next year.  And he had one of the two aces at 16 on Sunday, a major contribution to a tournament loaded with high spots.

It was a bizarre emotional experience all weekend.  It started on Thursday when the coverage opened with the announcement that Bruce Edwards had lost his battle with ALS that morning.  Golf fans had been following that story for the last year, and golf fans of a certain age like me, who followed Tom Watson through his glory, knew Bruce Edwards as well as a later generation would get to know Fluff Cowan.  It was a depressing inevitability, especially since the caddies had made a major effort this year to promote ALS awareness at Augusta.  And they really ended up working the golfers as well.  On Thursday, every caddy was wearing a black ribbon on his hat, but very few of the golfers were; Fred Couples was one of the few that did, and it was so apparent that the commentators made a remark about him wearing the ribbon.  By Sunday, all the golfers were wearing the ribbon, though.  Maybe there was a bit of a mental struggle there between paying tribute to a loyal guy who was on his man’s bag all the time and helped him win a bunch of majors and some sponsors who may not have been pleased that their well-paid shills were donning mourning on their clothing to honor some no-name baggage handler.  Glad to see that the ribbon was there, though.

We didn’t have a chance to mourn Bruce Edwards because of the events of Friday.  Bay Hill may be Arnie’s tournament, but he’s only the host.  He is the embodiment of the Masters, and always will be.  To see him walk up 18 on Friday to that loud and respectful applause…the call from ‘Bag happened about five minutes after he finished.  The beginning of the conversation with him went something like “Were you watching?”  “Yeah.”  “Did you cry?”  “Hell, yeah, I did.”  “So did I.”  Words cannot summarize what Arnold Palmer’s fifty tours of Augusta National has meant to the sport.  He is the reason why it is acceptable to be a golf fan.  It is debatable whether or not Jack or Tigger could have done anything if it wasn’t for the foundation laid down by the most popular thing to come out of Latrobe, Pennsylvania (and that includes Rolling Rock).  And the fact that the commentators remained silent through his march up 18 just showed the level of respect and love that people have for him.  One of the things ‘Bag and I discussed was what should happen with him now that he’s retired from competition there.  I came up with a solution that we both liked:  wait until Lord Byron passes away and for Player and Jack to also bow out.  Then have Arnie and the latter two pull the old Nelson/Sarazen/Snead routine and be the honorary starter triumvirate.  With a dozen jackets between them, they’d be the Living History of the Masters.  It was more than the end of an era on Friday, it was the end of an epoch.

But when you got beyond the depression, you had one helluva tournament on your hands.  You knew something was happening courtesy of K. J. Choi, the aforementioned Korean.  He went out and tied the nine-hole record on Friday by shooting 30 on the front.  Yeah, he ended up shooting 40 on the back, but, shit, this is Augusta.  The ebb and flow of leaders was as steady as a tide.  Guys would be out of it, then come back into it, then come out of it.  It was a situation where anyone could win if they could keep it together.  Tigger charged in on Friday, lost it on Saturday.  Justin Rose blew out the field on Thursday, held it together on Friday, then mistaked himself into the gutter on Saturday.  Boring Ol’ Ernie was steady, steady, steady, until he f*cked up big on 11 on Saturday.  He got a favorable ruling and was able to salvage it enough to stay together.  Meanwhile, here’s Lefty, putting together his normal charge, and everyone’s expecting him to choke like he always does.  That set the stage for Sunday.

After Lefty and DiMarco birdied 2, it looked like we were going to have match play.  They had a big cushion.  But then they started to give strokes back, and that cushion vanished by the time Lefty finished 6.  At the same time, Boring Ol’ Ernie hits his second at 8, going for the green in two.  Looked like it was going to be horrible, then catches a good bounce, good enough that you knew he was playing for it.  Boing, boing, boing, rolls to within five feet.  Eagle and the lead.  That second shot would have been the shot of the tournament, win or lose, except that Ernie’s playing partner Choi had other plans.  Second shot at 11 from over two hundred away, five-iron.  Puts it on and gets the roll, and it keeps rolling like it was locked on with a laser targeting device.  In for an improbable eagle.  He’s back in it.  In the meantime, Bernhard Langer, looking for his third jacket in three different decades, shows why he’s made the cut twenty out of the twenty-two times he’s played Augusta.  He gets back in it, but ducks back out after an unlucky bounce at 15.  By that time, Els has put on his “Par Fives Are My Bitch” button and eagled 13.  While the drama is building between Els and Lefty, the undercard gives us some cheap thrills as Harrington gets his ace at 16, and then in the very next group, Kirk Triplett does the same thing.  Accompanying graphic:  “Holes in One at 16:  The first 67 years of the Masters:  7.  Today:  2.”  By now, the audience has said more “Holy Shit”s than at an average night at the Bingo Hall.  Every time Els does something (like another eagle), Lefty answers.  Choi can’t get anything together and runs out of holes.  So it’s down to two.  Els comes in at -8 and heads to the putting green, because Lefty’s at the same figure and has a couple holes to play.  And then comes the putt at 18, which you just KNEW was going to go in…

I’ve rarely felt emotionally drained after a sporting event.  But this?  Jesus, I needed a Klonopin to calm down.  You usually need one anyway if you’re a golfer after watching the Masters.  I swear to God that watching this tournament should qualify you for credits at any major university for a non-Euclidean topology class just from observing the putts.  Now, I know it’s been a long time since I got my degree, but gravity isn’t supposed to work like this in Newtonian space.  The course may have been designed by Bobby Jones, but the greens were done by Riemann and Minkowski, and I’m certain that Einstein gave them an exemption from the Special Theory of Relativity.  I’ve played on f*cked-up greens before (see any of the City of Chicago’s public courses for examples of those), but these are ridiculous.  They are usually enough to blow me away.  But put a tournament like this on top of that…four and a half snowflakes, with a half-star taken off due to the repeat booking.  Why am I a golf fan?  It’s because of tournaments like these, pure and simple.

And to take us to wrestling, quoth the Ravin’ Cajun:

Which is a bigger sign that the End of Days is upon us – Lefty wining his first Major title at the Masters on Easter Sunday by hitting a birdie on the 72nd hole, or Flex keeping a movie in the top ten after this weekend?

Neither.  I think the Apocalypse is looking for a bigger sign.  We’ll have to wait until the first Tuesday in November for something of that scale.

THE PIMP SECTION

Memo to Reichsfuehrer Daniels:  Carol Moseley-Braun is from…Chicago.  Look, we’re embarassed to admit that, okay?  The whole senator thing, we’d like to take it back, but we can’t.  She was a good Cook County Recorder of Deeds, though.

Biscuiti, Matt Isomer snagged an interview with Zach of Dream Job, if you’re into that sort of show.

Gamble is doing game reviews.  Board game reviews, mind you.  He actually had this idea on the super-secret writers’-only forum and went with it.  And he’ll be doing more.

Nute stretches for material, and engages in a little hyperbole considering what a disaster Jericho’s title reign was.

Nason is still on top of all the indie news.

Erhardt‘s plan can fail.  And I’m just the guy to make it fail.  But I’m going to be nice and let him try it anyway.

Melchor gets all Karn Evil on us.

Presiloski ignores the world outside North America, who are wondering exactly why he’s celebrating 114 Day.

Coogan talks Wrestling Channel and makes a good case for it.  Now try to get it past Vince.

Hayhurst gives you Q&A the way only he can.  And the first American serial killer wasn’t from Ohio.  He was from Chicago.  H. H. Holmes created a “house of death” to murder visitors to the Columbian Exposition decades before the Torso Killer.  So we get that honor.  Hey, it’s better than Carol Moseley-Braun.  For more info, check out Erik Larson’s book “Devil In The White City”.  Another correction:  the cloth that St. Veronica wiped Christ with is Veronica’s Veil, not the Shroud of Turin, which was Christ’s burial wrap.

You know, I think I know why Hayhurst hates my guts…

Laflin, on the other hand, does not.  But he does harm his gamer cred in this column by admitting that he bathes.

Good choice for the other PC representative on the list, Lucard.  But it’s a shame what SSI did to the AD&D CRPG legacy before losing the rights.  It got so bad that no one actually had any faith in Baldur’s Gate until it came out, despite the rights switch and Bioware’s already-growing legacy.

Campbell, Mike Variant summarizes the best rivalry in the history of wrestling, and does it quite well, thank you.

RECYCLING FOR CYNICAL REASONS

From 1bullshit Junior:

WWE’s 6/27 Smackdown brand PPV will be called “The Great American Bash.” The PPV will be based around patriotic themes and take place in Norfolk, home of the largest naval base in the world. The promotional posters for the PPV will feature Torrie Wilson dressed up as Uncle Sam.

There seems to be one constant in WWE:  there always has to be one appeal to surface patriotism.  Now that La Res has been converted into slightly-less-evil Canadians, there had to be a replacement on its way.  And here it is.

I have gone through too many screeds in the past about the meaning of true patriotism to have any spleen left to vent on the subject.  I can’t comment about this any further than I already have on the subject.  Suffice it to say that I think this idea is as moronic and offensive as any other attempt they’ve made.  The only good thing about it is that it’s a one-shot.  I hope.  If they see anything in this worth continuing, though, you know they’ll be on it.

It’s more cynical than the blurb points it out to be.  The naval base isn’t the only big military installation around Norfolk.  All four services have big installations within an hour of the place, so it’s going to be a highly military crowd, as it is every time they go there.  But this time, they’re using the military for overt manipulation.  As a veteran, that disgusts me.  That’s a good enough reason as any to not bother with this one.  I’m sure we’ll have more as the date approaches, but they’ve managed to turn me off.  And if you’re an American and love your country, hopefully you’re turned off as well.

However, a reader named “Dave” asks this question, which I feel has to be answered:

Will the “E” miss another golden opportunity by not making the Bash a RAW PPV and using this feud between Evolution and Michaels, Benoit, Foley and Benjamin to bring back WarGames? It would fit perfectly and have a nostalgic feel to it. Or, am I just being too nostalgic?

Too nostalgic.  Besides, WarGames was really a Starrcade kind of thing.

DO UNTO OTHERS

According to various and sundry, there was supposed to be a match between Carly Colon and Abyss in Puerto Rico over the weekend which was cancelled at the last moment.  Seems that WWE caught wind of it and put the kibosh on it.  Colon’s under contract to them, and we all know who Abyss competes for.

This is the first time that WWE and TNA have been in a direct confrontation over their workers, and a lot of people are trying to read things into it that aren’t there, like the fact that WWE views TNA as a threat.  This isn’t true per se.  WWE views any competitor as a threat, no matter what their status.  They usually set up wrestlers’ contracts to give them control over outside dates and reserve the right of first refusal.  In this case, they decided to exercise that right.  The reason for this seems to be pretty obvious:  they’re doing a slow-burn to develop Colon and don’t want to make him look weak, especially in front of a crowd in Puerto Rico that knows him.  Meanwhile, Abyss has been getting a large amount of exposure in TNA, who has successfully developed him into a badass who can take punishment.  Due to that exposure and the nature of Abyss’ push, WWE probably felt the promoters were going to have him go over and turn Colon into paste in the process.  Let’s face it, WWE’s attitude has always been “The only people who can make our workers look weak is us.”

This isn’t a situation like last week’s brouhaha between TNA and ROH.  Yes, I think that TNA’s reasons for what they did are incredibly dubious, and there’s a sort of good feeling to be had in seeing it done to them.  But the fact is that the situation in Puerto Rico was simply business as usual, something that’s been done going back to the territorial days where promoters would always quibble over how wrestlers would look when they crossed into another territory to do a “special”.  The TNA/ROH situation is very, very different, and it’s been divisive in certain circles.  411’s line on this seems to be “Who gives a f*ck, other than TNA or ROH obsessives?”, which is a healthy and logical line to take.  However, certain other sites which I shall not mention…oh, yeah, I will:  1bullshit and 1bullshit Junior…have hooked on to this disagreement to spout their party lines.  Naturally, 1bullshit is coming down hard on TNA’s side due to the Ryder connection, even spouting off about how ROH’s official whiteboard denizens won’t condemn TNA for their actions.  Meanwhile, Junior’s pimping ROH heavily, mostly courtesy of Mike Johnson, in order to pretend that there really was a tiff between them that led to the split (which anyone with any knowledge of the IWC knows is complete horseshit).  It’s actually pretty funny.  Guys, here’s a hint:  no one cares.  No matter how much you pump them up, until they both get deals on basic cable in a good time slot, no one will take TNA or ROH seriously.

In the meantime, ROH is attempting to recover from Feinstein’s indiscretions and the TNA snub.  They’ll be involving Ricky Steamboat in some activities next month, and Brian Kendrick’s reappearance in the Land of Honor is getting heavy coverage from the usual geeks.  In the meantime, though, the real juicy stories behind all of this aren’t making an appearance, and, if they ever do, will only do so when no one cares, a lot like Liz’s autopsy.  The specific juicy story that I want to know is this:  Was Feinstein set up?  There’s enough circumstantial evidence to show that he was indeed.  That doesn’t condone his actions, of course, but it does provide a new dimension to the whole thing.

I just thank God for one thing:  when we use the phrase “biggest independent wrestling site on the Net”, the word we’re most proud of in there is “independent”.  With us, you know we don’t have any kind of hidden agendas.

MILORD IS AN IDIOT, BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT

Over at 1bullshit Junior, Milord popped this one out of the Illogic Cabinet:

Jay Landry sent this, which is very interesting. “¦ According to USPTO, the activity to trademark ECW and Extreme Championship Wrestling were suspended in January 2004. So, there is no active work on those trademarks. So, that means nothing is going to happen with ECW.

Ah, a logical jump that can only be performed by a blind retard like Scherer.  Does this mean that there will definitely not be a brand extension headed by Paul Heyman that will feature garbage wrestling and high spots?  No.  It only means that, if it happened today, it wouldn’t be called ECW.  And please note the word “suspended”.  As in “not presently active but could be reactivated at any point in time”.  Could it be done today?  Yes, actually.  They only have to tell the Patent and Trademark Office that they’re resuming work, and then use the ECW name, logo, etc., as a “patent pending” situation.  They’ve already done something similar to this once.  When ECW was revived during the Invasion, the trademarks were still in dispute in Bankruptcy Court, regardless of Heyman’s belief that he still had title to them.  Vince got spanked by the judge for doing that, until such time as he actually bought ECW’s assets.

So this doesn’t mean that an ECW Revival is dead, or off WWE’s radar screen.  In fact, with the cancellation of Confidential, it’s blipping brighter than ever.  They have to have something to take that slot, and WWExperience isn’t it, since May 2nd is a Sunday and Confidential is on Saturdays.

I COULD HAVE MADE THIS WAIT, BUT…

…but when The Pride Of Dartmouth His Own Self asks you a couple questions, you have to answer them, despite the Round Table coming up:

Will WWE sacrifice Kane to build up Edge? Nothing to sacrifice. If they’re going to make the Benoit thing happen for real, they have to give Benoit real opponents who can keep up with him in the ring. Kane has not been morivated at all since Jacobs lost the mask, and there’s really nowhere for him to go in the uppercard. He really ought to have been dealt to Smackdown where they could keep the UT feud going. Not that I expect those two to set the world on fire, but it gives them both something to do where they’re not dragging each other down.  And do they want to make the Benoit thing happen for real? I think so. If they keep talking about the “one hit wonder” angle, and then actually drop him to Trip, they prove that he is, which is harmful to business.If Trip is willing to drop two matches to build Shelton up, then he’ll let Benoit get the win…although maybe this time, he’ll beat Michaels. The other possibility I could see is having Benjamin turn and keep Benoit from breaking up a HHH pinfall on Shawn, but I don’t think they’ll go that route. I am, however, very excited about Shelton vs. Flair. When you need a hot, young, fairly competent talent to be put over, call Naitch. He can sell ice to Eskimos.

On Point the First, they needed something for Kane to do for the PPV so that he wouldn’t be forgotten.  He’s already damaged enough courtesy of WM.  Now, for the second month in a row, he gets to be the bitch for someone returning to the ring after a substantial absence.  However, he still retains enough mark cred to give Edge a serious boost.  Expect the match to be a close shave for Edge, either involving the cast as international object (something Kane can complain about next week on Raw) or a “he barely beat him” type of pinfall involving mutiple Edgecutions.

As for Point the Second, I think the Benoit thing is for real, but so is the dearth of opponents.  I do like the idea that a lot of people are expressing, and that is to have Benoit pin Michaels on Sunday.  It’ll give them a good “respect feud” that, thanks to Michaels’ mic skills, can be carried for two months.  That buys them a little time to either freshen up a feud with Trip or build up Randy Orton (up next for him is Shelton Benjamin, no doubt).  They don’t need Kane for this.  In fact, win or lose against Edge, Kane being given a main-event push would be like the whole Lesnar/Holly situation, which we treated as the joke that it was.

I will agree completely with the wisdom of putting Benjamin with Flair.  I just hope that this match doesn’t hinge on Batista interference, but I fully expect it to.

AND JUST A BIT ABOUT WIFE-BEATER TO LEAD YOU INTO RAW…

I’m taking a holding action on this latest absence of the repulsive redneck from our screens.  Of course, I’m not buying the “contract dispute”; it’s something that sounds really, really good to keep him off TV while the legal situation sorts itself out.  However, I do acknolwedge that it might be real.  I’ll be willing to take a wait-and-see.  If it’s not real, then good for WWE keeping him off our screens, although they should go all the way and fire him.  If it is real, then they should have held him to his damn contract, and if he walked out, then tough shit.  Third time’s the f*cking charm.

Okay, I want him gone, and I’ve been getting a lot of mail recently that shows that you, the readers, also want him gone too (and a number of them apologizing to me for not listening to me sooner).  Either reason would be a good excuse to get his ass out.  Have you really missed him the past two weeks?  I thought not.  Now if I can only get Ashish to stop fellating Flex, things would be ideal.

Thank God my hometown area didn’t have to suffer with him appearing on Raw.  So, from Rosemont, comes Raw…

THE SHORT FORM

Match Results:

Kane over…no, it couldn’t be… (Pinfall, chokeslam):  Okay, when the f*ck did Brian Lawler get rehired?  Better question, why the f*ck did Brian Lawler get rehired?  And why isn’t he on Smackdown to team up again with the fat f*ck and Scotty Go Potty?  Oh, man, this show’s already in the goddamn toilet.

John Perkowski, though, pointed out something to me that I didn’t think about:

Also, do you find it coincidental that JR was promoted and only a few days later, Brian Lawler makes a return?

Now that’s a possibility.  Johnny Ace may take a more lenient view toward guys trying to smuggle pot across a border than Ross did.  So let’s blame him.  Sounds good to me.

Yoshihiro Tajiri over Al Snow as Five-Star Ninja-San (Pinfall, roundhouse kick):  Well, it took me about a minute and a half to figure out that it was Snow behind the mask (the goatee gave it away, but I had to wait for a good face shot).  A cute little match for Tajiri, admittedly, but now he’s stuck with Coachman to provide him “visibility” at Backlash.  Damn, I feel sorry for the guy, I really do.  Tajiri, that is.

Lita over Trish Stratus, Transition Excuse For A Beatdown (DQ, Christian-ference):  The beatdown afterward was excessive time-wise, but that’s all I’ll say about that.  If anyone was wondering why the IWC has really turned on Lita, here’s a good example.  Not only has she been blowing spots like crazy, but she’s also developed the skill of totally destroying the pace of a match.  Trish has developed a good sense of flow with her matches, so seeing a Trish Stratus match that’s choppy is very jarring.  That’s all Lita’s fault, and that doesn’t bode well for Sunday, because Victoria isn’t in Trish’s league when it comes to flow and pacing.  Lita will completely destroy that match unless Victoria carries her totally.

Novocaine Helms over Sylvain Grenier (Pinfall, Eye of the Hurritwit):  And Dinsmore showed up.  With a stuffed bunny.  I’m not sure if I have enough left in the “pharmacy” to overdose, but I’m damn well checking right now.

Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Shelton Benjamin over Ric Flair, Dave Batista, Randy Orton, and, oh, yeah, Trip, Major-League PPV Pimp-Fest (Pinfall, Michaels pins Orton, Sweet Chimp Music):  I love a piece of well-choreographed chaos, and this one was exceptional.  Batista was kept to a bare minimum, ditto Foley, Orton was well-carried, and the rest just did their thing.  Effective for its purpose, and a damn good match to boot.

Angle Developments:

Compartmentalization:  Okay, so now it’s going to be Cactus Jack versus Randy Orton.  What scares me a little about the whole differentiation between Foley’s different in-ring personae is that Foley is a good enough promoer to convince an audience that he truly believes that they’re separate personalities, thus making the audience believe the same.  Obviously, everyone here knows that I don’t make light of any type of mental illness, schizophrenia included.  I don’t like the fact that Foley has made this illness part of his gimmick, and seems to make it acceptable.

The Ravin’ Cajun, though, does not have mental illness in his life to deal with and can appreciate this move:

See, that’s what the Orton-Foley match was missing. We have the arrogant heel in Orton. We have the passion of Foley. But we needed that extra step to make us think that maybe, just maybe Mick could pull one out and get the win. Tonight, we got that with the return of Cactus Jack. Hell, I got goosebumps when I heard Mick say “But there is one man…” just knowing what would come next and I haven’t really marked out in a long while. Now I have a reason to buy the PPV- so long as they don’t step in Foley’s way and let him do the match he can do at his best.

Shelton Benjamin, Master of Hakuna Matata:  The one thing everyone was worried about after the first match against Trip was that Benjamin would be immediately buried.  Three straight main events, a team-up with the three most over faces on Raw (and if it wasn’t for Eddy, in the WWE), and a match against Flair at Backlash.  Man, if this is a burial, I don’t want to see what a push is like.  Raw Regular Derreck Croney says that this pairing has the potential to be a Flair/Steamboat-style encounter, and I’m not going to disagree.  I’m just hoping that he’s able to take advantage of the opportunity and the audience gets behind him.

A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.:  Good of Ross to remember that Jericho made his WWF debut in Chicago.  August 9th, 1999, and I’ve said the story in regard to me so many times that I’m not going to bother repeating it.  But Jericho does have a connection to the Rosemont Horiz…dammit, Allstate Arena; he always brings his best stuff to Chicago, remembering that crowd reaction when he came out.  His promo proved the point, as if it needed to be proven.  Jericho on the mic is still platinum.

Haley’s Little Things, In Reverse:  Wasn’t it nice of Johnny Nitro to lift his slinged arm up to allow Edge to avoid hitting the “injured” arm during the spear?  Kinda blew the surprise factor out of the water, didn’t it?

And that’s it for this crap.  See you tomorrow in Black and this weekend during the Round Table.