For those of you who are newer to the site, you may know me as Ben, the guys who runs The Nexus our comics section here on InsidePulse.
But you dinosaurs, you may remember that before there was an InsidePulse, before there was even a 411mania, I broke into the world of the internet with a column on professional wrestling called The Mean.
The short version is that the Greek philosopher Aristotle always taught that for everything there were two extremes: excess and deficiency; if you could find the halfway point between these two in all things, find the mean, you’d be perfectly happy.
In wrestling fandom, you’ve also got two extremes: the smart fan (excess) and the mark fan (deficient”¦though not in a derogatory way). The point of my column was to take a look at individual wrestlers and their careers, then look at them from each perspective, and ultimately find the mean.
Well, IP needed somebody to do the live Raw coverage tonight, so I figured why not dust off the old format and see how it plays as a recap. With each match and segment, I’ll give the quick & dirty results, then look at it from the perspective of both the smart and the mark, and finally determine the mean.
Will it work? We’ll see.
Will it mean it might take a bit longer for those of you who rely solely on this site for your up to the minute results to get them? Quite possibly.
Will it tarnish the legacy of me and my column? Most definitely!
Will Widro fire me? Fat chance, I’m a superstar, bay-bee!
Now then”¦on with the show.
It’s fifteen minutes to the hour and they just announced that Orton will be there, Jericho will wrestle Batista and they showed the Diva graphic, revealing that Carmella is indeed still alive.
UPDATE: Widro just told me that if I do well here, maybe I can be his roomate this fall…cross your fingers, everybody.
Randy Orton interview
New champ Orton comes out to start the show, gold confetti and all, mixed reaction”¦but he was on the cover of the Toronto Sun. He’s most definitely starting off as a heel, accusing the crowd of not believing in him against Benoit. He’s calling for all 24 year old men to stand up”¦geez, lots of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“em (I’m only 22, I’ve still got two more years to win the title)”¦uh, he wants the dudes to take off their shirts”¦and they’re doing it”¦Widro never told me recapping was like this”¦crowd is all over him with a “You Suck” chant now”¦
We get a video recap of Orton and his accomplishments thus far, all the way up to his win last night”¦excellent production values and good song (anybody know what it is?)
Destiny is the buzzword”¦and here’s Benoit to interrupt (it was 50/50 on him or HHH). Crowd is loving Benoit tonight, no divide”¦Benoit lets Orton know his first title defense is against him and Orton says in a few weeks he’ll get his rematch”¦Benoit is exercising his rematch clause tonight”¦Summerslam main event rematch tonight! Is WWE getting cold feet on Orton as champ?
THE SMART: The internet loved Orton not too long ago, but seem to have turned on him mostly because WWE may have decided he’s 100% ready for the main event when the IWC only feels he’s 85% there. He can talk well enough, but he’s still got strides to make in the ring; he’ll make them, but he’s not quite there yet.
THE MARK: The crowd seems confused by Orton. They seem to want to cheer him based simply on the precedent set by guys like The Rock and Kurt Angle, guys who were heels but adapted so quickly you couldn’t ignore their star power and had to cheer their wit. Yet the crowd also seems to sense he’s a work in progress. It’s as if they want somebody to cheer and Orton just fits the mold. He’s pretty good at the cheap heat though, he can turn a crowd against him like a pro.
THE MEAN: Orton is indeed a work in progress, but it would be hard to argue that he doesn’t show potential that you’d have to be blind to not see he WILL get there. It’s all really a matter of how he handles this title reign; if he recognizes that the World title is not an excuse to halt his development, he’ll be fine and will undoubtedly be the guy to lead this company into the future, taking the spot Brock vacated; if he sits on his laurels, he’ll burn out and be a huge waste of the company’s time and money and a big chance for the IWC to say “toldya so.”
“All For Nothing Match” Rhyno vs Sylvan Grenier
Ok”¦if Rhyno wins, he and Tajiri wrestle La Resistance at Unforgiven”¦if Grenier wins, Rhyno & Tajiri never get a title shot.
Rober Conway takes out Tajiri early with a flag shot”¦lot of restholds by Grenier with Rhyno having been slowed down”¦JR likes synchronized diving”¦Rhyno gets overpowered in a clothesline duel, strange”¦the crowd seems to get very into it once Rhyno takes over”¦Grenier with, like, the longest delayed belly-to-back suplex I’ve ever seen”¦Tajiri nails Grenier with the mist sending him into the Gore and we’ve got our first match for Unforgiven.
Kane narrates a vignette with sweet music as he invited us all to his wedding to Lita next week”¦I love the way Kane say “Lllllita””¦Kane’s voice and maniacal laughter coupled with this music is surreal in a cool way.
Kane gets Edge for the IC title later tonight.
THE SMART: No smart fan on Earth has been happy with the tag team wrestling scene in about four years. The general feeling seems to be that La Resistance are acceptable because they are a pure team, though there is no love for Grenier in the IWC and Conway is an acquired taste. The attitude towards Rhyno, Tajiri and this whole feud seems to be one of more or less apathy.
THE MARK: The La Resistance gimmick is that surefire one that will NEVER get old with fans, they’ll always be great heels. The crowd loves Tajiri as well. Rhyno is one of those guys whose entrance music doesn’t elicit huge cheers, but his intensity generally wins crowds over. The marks don’t worry about the larger picture of the tag team division, they just watch what’s in front of them.
THE MEAN: Rhyno & Tajiri are niche players that WWE has nothing to do with but who are, as JR would say “good hands.” La Res is a good touchstone to base the tag division around. This program works, but it has very limited legs. The Smackdown champs Kidman & London are getting quite over right now as well, but also have only a few opponents. It might be awkward, but the solution to me seems to be finding a way to merge the tag division across brand lines.
Stills from the Kane-Matt Hardy match from last night set to Kane’s music. I’m really sad for Lita, who was so all the rage during wrestling’s peak period in 2000 and has gone further downhill than I ever thought would be possible in such a brief time.
Former Heat broadcast partners Coach and Lita reunite”¦Coach is a dick to Lita and she wants to be left alone”¦but the heel girls (Trish, Molly, Gail Kim & Jazz) are throwing her a bridal shower”¦this is priceless, Trish and Molly are hilarious”¦”since you sleep around so much”¦”Gail Kim sucks, but whatever, she photoshopped Kane’s face on a baby! Jazz gives her a magic wands for self pleasure! I love this! Make Trish & Molly the new announce team!
Oh, Victoria is here and Trish asks if her coach in Dodgeball was Stevie Wonder”¦uh, wasn’t Trish the coach? Whatever, heel Trish rules”¦Victoria slaps her and”¦abrupt commercial?
Is anybody else worried Anacondas just can’t pack the same punch without J-Lo? And Open Water is the best Shark movie since Jaws? Beating out”¦what?
Hey! Promo for HBK! He’s coming back”¦but we don’t know when”¦JR says Unforgiven though”¦I’ll let Biscuiti make the joke.
Victoria vs Gail Kim
I like this new “sorority” mentality to the heel Divas”¦Kim is doing pretty well here”¦King FINALLY asks the question why Lita didn’t use a condom”¦Kim has a variation of a figure four on the head (thank you high school wrestling) on Victoria”¦I’ve got to give kudos to Gail Kim for really holding her own here”¦and here comes the “You Screwed Bret” chant, the Canadian equivalent of “boring,” but if I had to answer the question, I’d say they were chanting at Kim, simply because she’s Canadian and seems more Bret’s type”¦Widow’s Peak, love that move, and that wins it for Victoria.
Trish attacks post match and so does Tomko, holding Victoria for Trish to smack her”¦Tomko with the gorilla press slam and Stevie-In-Drag makes the save, actually drawing “Stevie” chants.
IC title is next.
THE SMART: The IWC became very high on a revitalized Women’s division when Trish, Jazz and later Victoria and Molly Holly were having the best matches on the show. I think Gail Kim’s entrance is exactly when the IWC turned on the division. Smarts also didn’t take kindly to Victoria’s babyface conversion as she can be annoyingly perky at times, something that will always piss off internet fans. The IWC seems to be warming up to Victoria again if only because she’s talented, but they’ve yet to forgive Kim.
THE MARK: The general mark crowd has never cared about Gail Kim and has never been given a reason to. Victoria is another like Rhyno in terms of winning fans over during the course of the match with her ability, but she’s also slowly but surely just getting over, though she’ll likely never reach the level of Trish or Lita in her prime.
THE MEAN: The women’s division is almost as good now as it was in its heyday, it’s just hampered by a smaller playing field. Victoria is extremely underrated, Trish is excellent, Jazz will always have something, Molly is solid, and Kim is getting better every day. However, it’s going to take something really spectacular to draw both smarts and marks back into seeing the women’s division as potentially more than filler as they did in 2000-2002. Interesting that the current Women’s title has lasted seven years and counting now, much longer than most titles introduced past the IC title.
Intercontinental Title: Edge Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© vs Kane
No surprise that JR & King are focusing on the wedding and I too am wondering how it will look”¦Edge’s goatee is definitely bad ass, heel or not”¦Edge working the leg, as is standard Kane opponent offense”¦Lita is out as JR gets a great line “maybe he’ll get her wedding present at Satan R’ Us!” and we go to commercial”¦
“¦back from commercial and Edge has taken control and upped the pace, knocking Kane out of the ring”¦nutty Canadian fans are just yelling “CANADAAAA!!!””¦Kane powers out of an Edgeocution attempt and takes over”¦this match has been unspectacular but solid, much like my writing”¦referee is down as Kane throws Edge into him”¦top rope clothesline, but Lita won’t let him hit the chokeslam (this is pretty much where they were at after Vengeance)”¦whoa, Matt Hardy is in! Isn’t he injured?”¦Twist of Fate on Kane! Spear on Kane! Win for Edge!
Kane is dragging Lita into the ring and”¦aww, they’re cuddling! Kane isn’t angry at what just happened because he knows what kind of relationship this is going to be and he’s “going to enjoy it” (obviously, the girl puts out like Widro on two bottles of hard cider)”¦Lita slaps Kane but “that’s the way I like it! It’s gonna be a HELL of a honeymoon!” Hellfire and brimstone, baby!
THE SMART: Two guys who the internet doesn’t find offensive but aren’t exactly rallying World title petitions for. Smarts will acknowledge Kane is better than most big men you’ll find, but constant humblings and ridiculous angles (such as the current one with Lita) have more or less crippled his smart credibility. For some reasons smarts have never seemed to get all the way behind Edge though he possesses the fundamental skills and respect for the business that usually makes for a smart favorite. Don’t get me wrong, smarts don’t hate Edge, but they don’t love him either, to them he’s just one of those guys who is fine to watch and always puts on a good show, but he’s never going to be Benoit or Guererro in their eyes.
THE MARK: Unlike the smarts, the marks will always forgive Kane no matter what inane crap WWE Creative puts him through. They will always buy him as a monster, no matter how many losses he has. He will always be a viable heel challenger for face World champions and I do believe he could carry a title run if needed. Edge on the other hand has been crippled by mark apathy since returning to WWE. His charisma got him quite over as a heel, but his sense of humor has never worked as a face. He’s another who crowds will get into as the matches go, but Edge isn’t Rhyno or Victoria, he should have more than that.
THE MEAN: Most people aren’t in love with this Kane-Lita angle, but they’re certainly talking about it and it’s produced some interesting segments and in some case some entertaining ones (like the Divas one earlier). It will be interesting to see where they go with this, particularly with HBK’s impending return (c’mon Biscuiti”¦make the joke). They need to pull the trigger on the Edge turn, but they need to be careful about it; they can’t keep making him a face again every time he gets a nice reaction and tweeners don’t work as well now as they did eight years ago. Marks and smarts alike have completely turned on Lita because real world logic seems to work very differently than WWE logic.
More promotion for Orton-Benoit and”¦say, that’s right, we haven’t seen HHH yet tonight”¦
And it is time for the Diva Wannabes! Carmella looks disinterested!!
Before they get to the elimination, each Diva said who they’d vote off and why”¦
-Michelle would vote off Carmella because she’s busy and wants another contract! OHH!!!
-Kristy (with homemade WWE glitter tank top) would vote off Carmella because she knows she “doesn’t want it” OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
-Maria would vote off Carmella because she reminds her friends of a dishrag! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Tracie would vote off”¦Carmella?! What a heel! She’s not as excited as the others!!
-Carmella, all smiles, votes off Joy”¦because she’s married and has babies! Whoa!
-Amy would vote off Carmella WITH CONVICTION! She makes fun of the wrestlers and laughs at the contests! Amy is FEISTY!
-Joy would vote off”¦Carmella! She’s not a team player! She wasn’t there for Diva Dodgeball!
And the person actually voted off”¦Michelle! I knew it! Thank lord all of my picks are still around.
This was far and away the best Diva segment ever”¦I have no idea what the deal is with Carmella, but it’s intriguing”¦but”¦
THE SMART: Smarts do not care about this contest at all. They’ll take whomever.
THE MARK: Marks want Carmella. Why? Plain and simple: she’s the hottest. They don’t know anything about the backstage junk”¦or at least they didn’t until tonight”¦that’s why this is now going to be very interesting.
THE MEAN: The intelligent (not smart”¦thought you’d catch me there), and by intelligent I mean my pick is Kristy. Yes, she’s irritatingly peppy, but she’s still a hottie and is the only one who can string sentences together and maintain her energy and enthusiasm, plus you know she’s willing to get dirty, which some of these other chicks might not be. Trust me, she’ll grow on everybody if she gets picked. Amy is my second pick with Joy in third and Maria in fourth. Carmella”¦I don’t know what to think. With Michelle gone, Tracie is the only one I don’t really care to see getting the win because I find her annoying and overbearing.
Chris Jericho vs Batista
A match I will never get sick of”¦quick paced start courtesy of Y2J, Batista slows it down with power stuff”¦Y2J’s crossbody looked a bit too choregraphed”¦Y2J picks it up again, nice enziguri and we’re into a hot series of reversals, power vs saavy”¦Jericho going for the Walls (which has never ever worked on him), but he busts out and Flair flips out! I LOVE THIS!! Flair was the best part of the HHH-Steiner match at Royal Rumble when I went at the Fleetcenter”¦Y2J goes for the Lionsault but Flair nails him and Batista gets Dqed”¦wicked Batista spinebuster”¦here comes Edge! He runs around the ring but Evolution is heading him off”¦he says screw it and heads to the back. Well yeah, Y2J ditched Edge last week, but he didn’t run around the ring like a moron first. Edge-Y2J is clearly on the way, and they have to decide who’s going to be the heel yesterday”¦Edge got booed just now after being cheered earlier, so there’s your answer to me. This was too short, but them’s breaks on TV.
THE SMART: The IWC is incredibly high on both these guys right now and would probably prefer greatly to see them up top with Benoit rather than Orton and HHH. Jericho has gained his reputation through years of hard work and has worked his way up the ladder from a guy the smarts supported to a guy they love. Jericho’s smart credentials come more from his ability to stay over and motivated when he’s not in the upper card; he’s a valuable role player and the IWC appreciates him. Batista is a more unique case in that he’s one of the few guys with an amazing look who has gone beyond that and actually taken the time to develop as a wrestler. If Batista had better mic skills he would be the total package. The buzzword for both these guys as far as smarts is “respect.”
THE MARK: The crowd can’t get enough of these guys either. Y2J is, as Eric would say “perpetually over” and his face turn was perfectly timed and has worked beautifully. Batista is a physical marvel and the marks eat him up. Big futures for both of these guys.
THE MEAN: Not much to say here; everybody loves Y2J and Batista at the moment and they both deserve it. What to do next with them though?
Diva Dodgeball recap which can only mean it’s bikini time”¦Kristy, Maria and Carmella looking the hottest by far”¦Kristy definitely has the wiggling and spunk down”¦Maria looks uncomfortable”¦Tracie looks way too overconfident, get rid of her”¦Carmella just smiles and blows kisses, crowd seems to be booing her”¦Amy has also mastered playing for the crowd”¦Joy rips off her tank top but seems lost after that.
I’m still predicting that Tracie is the next to go”¦or maybe Maria.
Pimping for next week: who will be champ? And”¦the wedding.
Not even a mention of HHH or Eugene yet tonight”¦oh, never mind, there’s HHH. Orton is backstage and he’s nervous, so here’s HHH with the pep talk. HHH tries to pump Orton up by telling him what the World title means and how much it means for him to be the youngest”¦and that Flair didn’t win it until he was 31″¦and DAVE Batista (actually called Dave) would give his arm (urgh?)”¦HHH’s advice: go out there and be Randy Orton. “You know what brought you to the dance, Randy? Evolution.” HHH basically saying Evolution will interfere. “Evolution is your solution, man.” HHH telling Randy that after he beats Benoit Evolution will party in the ring”¦Evolution is so kicking Orton’s ass tonight.
“Survival of the Sicket” by Saliva (good song) is the official song for Unforgiven (featuring La Resistance defending their World Tag Team titles against Rhyno & Tajiri!)
World Title: Randy Orton Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© vs Chris Benoit
Whether Evolution turns on Orton tonight or not, he needs his own music, but I love the Evolution music and he’s the only one who uses it, so I fear”¦immediate points to Orton for wearing the belt the way it’s SUPPOSED to be worn: around the waist”¦Benoit starts things off with some vicious chops and punches, looking more intense than usual (it is possible) tonight”¦crowd very behind Benoit”¦Orton has gotten no offense so far and just got hit with a top rope superplex”¦Northern Lights for two and Benoit is seriously dominating, on the verge of making Orton look completely weak”¦Benoit beating the crap out of Orton outside the ring now”¦if Orton walks out of here with the title, I’m seriously questioning the logic here”¦commercial time”¦
“¦we’re back and Orton is in the Sharpshooter! FINALLY Orton gets some offense, knocking Benoit to the floor”¦Orton selling the effects of the Sharpshooter”¦no way this match doesn’t end with Evolution interference”¦Orton is playing exhaustion well, but is clearly still in it, the mark of experience building”¦now they’re trying to play Benoit as the underdog because of his neck after he just dominated for like fifteen minutes”¦Orton loves him them European uppercuts”¦Orton hits his trademark reverse chinlock with a twist (I would LOVE if somebody submitted to this)”¦wow, he’s really making the most of this chinlock”¦backbreaker into a neckbreaker by Orton gets two”¦and we’re back to the chinlock”¦maybe Orton really is exhausted and I’m just really dense”¦another neckbreaker by Orton, he’s really kind of showing his limitations, but I’m still enjoying this match more than the one last night for reasons I don’t fully understand”¦Mike Sanders’ old finisher now, which JR calls a “modified neckbreaker” meaning Orton has still only used three moves”¦Benoit comes back and hits the diving headbutt”¦rolling German suplexes, one, two, three”¦and CROSSFACE! Benoit holds on through the rollthrough”¦and another roll to the middle of the ring”¦and right on schedule, here’s Evolution”¦RKO and Orton wins!
Weird match”¦all Benoit and then all Orton, not a lot of back and forth”¦gotta say they made Orton look pretty weak here, getting destroyed, coming back with weak and limited offense and then needing help to win.
Evolution celebration”¦waiting for the turn here”¦hugs all around”¦Batista has him up on his shoulders”¦thumbs up by HHH”¦and the slow thumbs down”¦Batista drops him! Ok, saw that coming, but DAMN cool way to do it! Evolution beating the crap out of Orton and HHH and Flair are TAKING OFF THEIR TIES! It’s taking Flair awhile though. HHH holding Orton and talking trash, smacking him around”¦HHH nails Orton with the belt and the crowd cheers (toldya)”¦Orton is juicing bigtime”¦Batista tells Orton he’s nothing without Evolution”¦long beatdown, but necessary”¦Batista Bomb on Orton”¦Batista doing the primary beating now”¦.HHH has the shirt off and deliver the Pedigree”¦HHH tells Orton the World title is not HIS”¦and we’re done.
THE SMART: The IWC has forgiven HHH a great deal for the last few years because he’s been wrestling like his 2000 self since Wrestlemania, but they’re still on a hair trigger whenever he gets within sniffing distance of the main event. He’s been a team player so far for 2004, but the smarts are like jackals ready to pounce on his every move. They’ll accept him wrestling Benoit because they have somebody to root for or wrestling Eugene because they don’t care, but against Orton, a guy who doesn’t fit into the category of smart hero or non-factor at the moment, they’re going to turn on him hard.
THE MARK: HHH remains the most over guy in WWE as far as the marks are concerned. He’s wrestling well and that’s all they care about, plus he’s been around and he’s their link to the halcyon days of Stone Cold and The Rock. If WWE puts Orton in a feud with HHH, the crowd is going to cheer HHH unless he does something extreme”¦will he?
THE MEAN: HHH can’t play the face, he simply can’t; if he’s going to feud with Orton he needs to figure out a way to make Orton the crowd favorite and get himself hated. He can certainly do it; he is the smartest man in wrestling, love him or hate him. This is HHH’s chance to create a babyface to lead WWE into their next boom period, and he would love to be able to put that on his resume.
Well, there we go. Gotta say, not a great start to Randy Orton as face champ; he had some cred coming off the clean win over Benoit but then they blew it by making him look so weak in the main event. Still”¦hell of a beatdown.
Was it a good show? Honestly, I’m just so exhausted from never having done this”¦but I had fun, and hopefully you did, so that makes a good show!
I’m out, hope you enjoyed.
In the mean time, thanks for reading.