Haley’s Comment 04.14.04

It really does hurt, though. A weekend of complete inebriation at the horse track has left me with quite the nasty cold, so this report shall be brief.

Besides, if the last month has shown us anything, it’s that there will be major news as soon as I send this column off to Widro. I’ve missed the chance to be the first to speak on the Feinstein scandal, Brock’s departure and, this just added last week, Steve Austin’s tenuous contract status with Vince.

Campers’ Pampers

The one piece of interesting news that is out right now is that Brock might actually get a tryout or two with an NFL team based on his preliminary 40-yard dash time.

Well, there you have it, the guy isn’t as poorly informed or dumb as he looks. He apparently does have enough raw athletic ability to get noticed, but it remains to be seen how quickly he can make up for the eight years or so that he has been out of the game. Running is one thing, reading offensive plays, pass rushing and honing one’s game instincts are completely different things.

Even More About The Benjamins, Baby

I refuse to let this die.

There are a lot of people within the IWC who feel that this Benjamin push is exactly what the company should do frequently. Take a young, talented up and comer, pit him against established veterans who have paid their dues and give them high profile matches on pay-per-views. They are currently crowing about the two victories he has over HHH and the match against Flair at Backlash.

I agree completely, but the devil, as always, is in the details in this column.

See, there is also a contingency within the IWC who understands that one of the things that has hindered the fed’s ability to make new stars is its myopic booking. This is brought upon primarily by monthly pay-per-views and weekly television shows that force WWe to make interesting matches for public consumption on ag regular basis. At the same time, its ability to build long-term feuds that tell interesting stories and create unique characters is handcuffed. It is my firm belief that the sooner the fed recognizes this and tries to step outside of its usual course of business to present longer feuds with better payoffs, we’ll have the stars that are needed to really bring the high ratings back.

This brings me to Mr. Benjamin and Ric Flair. If you are satisfied with two fluke victories and a match that was literally thrown together six days before the pay-per-view, then that is fine. Part of me understands completely. We aren’t used to seeing HHH job, we aren’t used to seeing a new guy getting a decent push and we all know that Ric can pull a good match out of anyone.

However, I still think they are going about this the wrong way. Here are my main points:

1- We still don’t know that much about Shelton. We were learning a lot about him, especially during that first HHH match. The clash of his new guy status and HHH’s current God-like status in the ring was sufficient to create some interesting interactions and make us take notice. I’ve not seen a lot of personality development since then.

Getting him some new theme music would add wonders instantly.

2 – The story behind Flair and Benjamin is thin. Ric has been in on some beatdowns and is probably upset that HHH lost a couple of fluke matches. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of reason for this match. When you lack a good background story, it’s harder for people to learn something.

3 – The match is predictable. Ric Flair is a wrestling God, but not at this point in time. Kinda the same way the Bruce Smith is a defensive legend bound for the Hall, but at this point in time the Skins could probably draft someone quicker. Flair will likely lose this match and then what?

Now, if he wins, maybe we can get back to square one and have ourselves a prolonged feud. Ric can certainly tell a story in the ring, but keep in mind it was the stuff outside of the ring – the interference, the promos, the antics – that made him such a compelling character. Thus far, Benjamin has benefited from just about none of that.

4 – The main point – HHH has had some of the biggest stars in history put him over and has yet to really give any of it back. Two fluke victories doesn’t cut it, either. He didn’t need to be in this main event at Backlash as Benoit and Michaels are more than capable of telling their own interesting story.

In sum, I think things could be better. They aren’t that bad, mind you, but I think a lot of the details have been missing. Little things, of course. Like say if Benjamin had lost both matches to HHH because of Flair. Then we’d have a reason for a fight, at least.

The Little Things

Let’s do this.

1. Jonny Come Lately

Matthew Michaels, the scourge of the 411 Blacklogs and keeper of the weekly RAW and SmackDown! Instachats on AOL IM, checks in:

Did you notice that Johnny Nitro came out not only to the old “WCW Nitro” music but also that his entrance video has incorporated the Nitro logo in with his name? Ah, the little things..

Sure did. In fact, I was wrong about this little thing. I thought the nostalgia would make me turn sour, but it’s actually making me mourn for the nights of channel changing back when there were two major promotions.

2. Well Coached

I thought Coach’s line about him having a face that you could not stay mad at for very long is the thing a lot of heels who are actually on the roster need to say. Especially Rene Dupree. Again, it’s not just that he said it, but how he said it. With that smirk and his head cocked slightly at an angle.

The Al Snow/Shinobi stunt was a bonus for those of us who got it.

3. Armed And Dangerous

The little things work both ways, as an astute Eric S. points out:

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?

4. Hi! My Name Is

I was going to write about this myself until I remembered that reader Peter Fridrich had mentioned it as well:

I also thought the hand-written “Hello my name is Eugene” nametag Nick Dinsmore was wearing was quite funny

I have to admit, so far they are using him quite well to get some humor out of other wrestlers. Pairing him with the French is actually a brilliant move because they would think that most Americans act like Eugene anyway. The real bonus here is that this is a sweet segue for Regal to go from angry headmaster to the guy that sticks up for him. Could be quite the turn if they play it right and Regal and still gut it out in the ring.

5. SmackDown! Bonus – Hi! My Name Is II

I thought I’d make room for this because I honestly have been laughing about it all week. On SmackDown!, when Bradshaw asked the audience member for his name, the sinking expression he put on his face when the guy responded with “Enrique” was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. You could really feel the disappointment and calling him “Ricky” was a good touch, too.

I know we haven’t seen the new Bradshaw in the ring, but so far I think the new one is money on the stick. He is playing himself and the level of comfort there really comes across the camera.

Readers’ Picks – Perfect French

Mike O. picks up on a little detail I liked:

On Raw (the one on the 5th) during the Conway/Benoit match, after the absolutely swank double team, Conway goes for the cover and Benoit barely kicks out! And, like most guys, Conway puts up 3 fingers showing his displeasure in the slow count. But Grenier takes it a step further, and with a look of shock on his face, yells it “Il es trois!” or something along those lines (I am not up to par with my French). However, I do know that trois means three. So, rather than saying in plain english “It was a 3 count”, he utilizes his gimmick and spits out a common phrase in French… it was a nice little touch to his character

He was doing it during last night’s promo, too, telling Conway “C’est vrai” or “that’s true” after each point he made about America.

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