In Memoriam: Shana Alexander. Unfortunately, there’s no counterpoint for death.
In Memoriam II: Shelby Foote. Never has a civil war been made so entertaining for the uninitiated.
Well, I’m tiffed about the Grokster/Streamcast case, and disappointed in the Supremes yet again. Yes, there’s still hope for sanity to reign, since now the lower court gets to retry the case again. But this is too much a victory for the evil forces of the **AAs. P2P programs are just tools, nothing more. And these tools have legitimate uses. Okay, so I’ve never put them to a legitimate use…no, wait, I have downloaded some Linux distros, so there’s the legitimate use. There’s one good thing that can come out of this, I think: the lower court can condemn those software programmers who profiteer from their programs, thus ridding the world of the bloated and spyware-ridden shit that’s out there right now in favor of the clean, useful programs that anyone with a semblance of sanity runs. So there’s some hope after all.
As for me, well, nothing going on here, really. My unemployment claim was approved and I’m starting to get checks, and, frankly, I can pay my bills and rent with it, so I’m frosty. I had a phone interview last Friday with a company in North Carolina, but haven’t heard any follow-up on that. Same old boring shit, really. This doesn’t make me optimistic for tomorrow’s column unless some big news breaks, but you never know on that score.
Yeah, I’m really ambivalent about this. I was taking naps all day Monday waiting for Vengeance to download, and I don’t feel in the right sorts, so to speak, so this one’s gonna suck, people. Sorry about that. Let’s just get on with it and get it over with…
THE PIMP SECTION
Lucard goes lupine.
It’s Old Home Week in the Wrestling section, with Williams and Anderson contribute their thoughts on Vengeance. Of course, Anderson’s always around at the Wrestling Blog, and we pimp that on the front page every day, so…oh, what the hell, if it doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t happen, period.
Truncellito goes to bat in favor of Matt Hardy. I’ll forgive him for that.
Fernandez bemoans the subjectivity of lists, and demonstrates why I stopped reading Spin years ago.
Gloomchen picks the Cure over the Smiths. So do I, actually, which surprises me.
Gordi has a slightly different opinion of a proper summer mix than I do. Me, I prefer a vanilla milkshake and Mahler’s First.
Basilo has the generic Monday beat in the TV section. Give him a read; it’s pretty good.
Price does his weekly NASCAR thing, which is cool by me. And he also summarizes the NBA Finals, which, honestly, I didn’t know were going on.
Aulbrook overdoses on the exclamation points.
Stevens gets trapped with no news from DC again. Join the club, Tim.
SHOULD I SPOIL SMACKDOWN?
If I didn’t do the Short Form, yes, I would. However, I’m not going to, because I have some choice comments about the draft picks that I’ll reserve for the Short Form. One of them was incredibly obvious, though, and it even predicated one of my picks for Vengeance (albeit in a different way). The other one, I’m not sure about. I definitely have to watch this in context to see where they’re going with it. So, instead of looking to the future, I’ll examine the past…
VENGEANCE IS MINE
I’ve always been grateful for the wrestling audience’s lingering attention spans when it comes to PPVs. It allows me to comment on them in a Tuesday column as if the PPV has just completed, rather than there being a thirty-six hour lag. It’s especially helpful if the PPV in question is a Raw PPV, with denouments occuring on Monday night, thus keeping the PPV fresh as a daisy instead of a day past its sell-by. That being said, I’ll throw my two cents in in order for this column to actually have some heft to it, because there’s hardly anything else out there. Let’s roll…
Unlike other people, I’m not going to go ga-ga over the Benjy/Carly opening match. I think they ended up putting too much on Benjy’s plate, really. He had to sell the “injuries” from the Monday night match. He had to slow down his normal pace tremendously in order to let Carly keep up. He had to sell mammothly for Carly’s alleged offense, something which wasn’t necessarily reciprocated. He had to do everything, while all Carly had to do was sit on his ass and wait for the pinfall. I also just don’t like Carly. The guy’s gold on the mic, but he’s just uninspiring in the ring. He doesn’t even have that train-wreck-in-progress vibe that you get from High-Quality Speaker Boy, where you always feel he’s one f*ck-up away from legit injuring his opponent. He’s just dull. If he’s lucky, he’ll get Bob Holly’s career.
Not only a good shot of Benjy and Carly, but a nice shot of the great Vengeance set
Ironically, the Victoria/Hemme match proved my contention of the previous match. Victoria was not holding back, although she’s in a vastly different class of wrestler as Hemme is. She made it look legitimate that her win was almost a fluke, and that Hemme was an unstoppable ball of red rage. This one wasn’t a good match by any stretch of the imagination, even given the standards of the women’s division, but it still possessed a quality in it that made you want to watch it, and that’s a credit to Hemme and especially to Victoria. So kudos for this mild success.
Okay, Hevia bribed me to put this in here
You know, Kane/Edge was a pretty good match. Kane, when he wants to, can pull one out, and Edge is always professional enough not to downplay stuff. The problem was that it’s a good match in service of an angle that everyone’s already sick of. The problem the second is that “creative” doesn’t know how to stop the angle (witness Raw). This wasn’t booked to be a blow-off due to the fact that neither guy has anything on their dance card at the time (Edge couldn’t have been a natural feud for TBS, for instance; better that TBS transition to Raw with someone like Snitsky). So we get more of this crap for the time being, and when the blow-off comes, the match probably won’t be as good as this one. Right match, wrong time.
Edge gets a bird’s eye view of what Lita isn’t missing
The Angle/Michaels match has created paroxsyms of confusion in the IWC, to wit, “Why wasn’t it as good as Wrestlemania 21?” There were a lot of reasons. The pace of this match was slower, for one thing. It just took too long to get going and tended to die out during the match itself. It also felt oddly empty. Whatever kind of inspiration there was for the first match, call it the buildup, call it the fact that it was taking place at Wrestlemania, call it whatever, wasn’t there for this one. Everything seemed forced, instead of natural (compare this match to the Angle/Flair match from Raw to see what I’m talking about). I cringed when I saw the ref bump. Oh, yes, it was technically superb, there’s no denying that. But it was just, well, there compared to the WM21 match. The flesh was willing, but the spirit was weak. Kudos to the boys for doing this, but even they themselves have got to be asking why.
Michaels contributes to the psychological aspect of the match
The mandatory vignette was the blowoff to the Viscera/Lesbian Garcia angle, of course. The problem is that no one came out looking good out of this one. Lesbian pledged her troth to a man not worthy of it (and embarassed herself with that sappy song). Big Vis proved that all men were dogs at heart. And the Godfather…wait, the Godfather came out looking good from it, but mostly because he was a special attraction. It was worth watching this to see him, though. And I must admit that he was a clever solution to this dilemma. So it was tolerable.
Viscera shows why you should always comparison shop
Well, I had no expectations for the Triple Threat WWE Title Match, and it lived up to that. Complete and utter formula, as usual. Even worse, Cena got exposed big-time in the ring for the inferior wrestling talent that he is. The situation surrounding the WWE title is pretty bad right now. Unless there’s a change on Raw next week, it’s going to become a complete joke (and there will be) thanks to the situation regarding Smackdown this week. This match was a harbinger of some bad things to come unless measures are taken immediately. The problem is that those measures won’t include any improvement from Cena wrestling-wise.
Jericho being quite insistent that he book the match in the ring for a change
Memo to Mike Chioda: Hell In The Cell is a number of things. It’s the ultimate in mayhem in sports entertainment. It’s a festival of sheer violence. It’s a place where blood flows like water and everything goes. One thing it is not is the Mike Chioda Show. Your antics during the HitC match were beyond annoying. They were intrusive and destroyed the flow of the “match” (you really can’t call HitC a match per se). In an environment where there are no rules and no restrictions, the ref’s job is simple: count one-two-three, and that’s it. The ref is not to admonish wrestlers to get back into the ring or attempt to restrict the use of weapons. You forcing your presence upon the HitC match is a vivid example of why I consider you one of the worst refs in the business. Earl Hebner, Nick Patrick, Charles Robinson…all these guys know how to maintain their presence without interfering in the business inside the ring. Watch some tapes of them sometime, for all our sakes.
Trip shows why he failed out of chiropractic school
DAWN BREAKS INSIDE EMPTY SKULLS
According to Milord, WWE is looking at a couple of tag teams featuring some rather familiar names. Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten, for one. Danny Doring and Roadkill for another. They’ve finally realized, two years too late, that the tag situation on both shows is almost beyond repair. MNM is a freak show, period, with no real competition. And I actually have to take the effort to remember who the Raw tag champs are; of course, I tried to block the fact out of my mind considering who they are. So now they’re reaching into the ECW grab bag to find something, anything, to liven the scene up and try to prop up the corpse.
Mahoney and Rotten…why? Beg the Dudleys to start reppearing on screen again. You get the same effect with guys who are a helluva lot more known and a helluva lot more popular than Mahoney and Rotten. Now Doring and Roadkill, that’d be cool. They work so well together, they kept their relationship together after ECW broke up, and Roadkill’s got a marketable persona. But do you make them faces or heels? Given the pro-ECW feeling of the WWE audience right now, they’d have to be faces, and therefore planted directly on to Smackdown to give MNM trouble (and the promos would be damn good, with Melina going off on her boys having to face an Amish chickenf*cker).
So I’ll go halfway on this. Get Doring and Roadkill under contract and sic them on MNM in time for a title match at Great American Bash. But Mahoney and Rotten, not unless they have something really, really special in mind for them.
And showing that they have nothing special in mind for anyone, let’s head to the Short Form…
THE SHORT FORM
The Big Show over Gene Snitsky (Pinfall, chokeslam): Bisch’s intro made it so obvious that the draft pick was TBS that it was actually disappointing for him to walk out. I was half-expecting it to be Spike Dudley after the “biggest draft pick” announcement. I’ll go more into TBS’s transition in Angle Developments. As for the match, like I paid attention to it or anything.
Chris Masters over Yoshihiro Tajiri (Submission, MasterLock): I’m not sure whether this was a match or not. There was no opening bell, but a closing bell. I haven’t been paying enough attention to the MasterLock Challenge to determine whether or not that’s standard procedure for that little mess. I mean, I have such little sanity to retain that dwelling on the MasterLock can be the difference between functionality and serious psychological trauma. But I really wanted to write this one up to discuss Tajiri. There’s a lot of people saying that he should be one of the last draft picks, that Smackdown would be the best place for him. Not true. Unlike a lot of the cruisers, he can wrestle a “heavier” style. On Smackdown, he’d be buried in the cruiser division and his talents ignored. On Raw, he’d at least have a little chance to shine. So keep Tajiri where he is for now, please. At least until plans for an ECW Revival are firmed up.
Kurt Angle over Ric Flair (Submission, AngleLock): This was a treat. It really was. Flair has to be treated in a special manner these days when he gets into the ring. He needs time and needs a sympathetic partner in there to let him do what only he can do. They gave him and Angle lots of time, and Angle was game for anything. Angle showed every single second of this match how much respect he truly has for Flair, and he also knew how Flair could make a match look. In return, Flair showed the greatest respect for Angle as well. It’s obvious they booked this thing themselves during the match, since there were some transitions in there that “creative” couldn’t have thought to use, and that match booking was consistently great during this one; the flow was organic. Not a real wrestling masterpiece per se, but a minor artistic masterpiece. If you want your kids to grow up to be good mat wrestlers, this would be one to put on an instruct
John Cena, Shawn Michaels, and Hulk Hogan over Christian, Chris Jericho, and Tyson Tomko (Pinfall, Hogan pins Tomko, Oh, Come On, It’s Hogan, What Do You Think?): Sure, the boys were having fun. But that fun was not communicated to the audience. Only the truly stupid bought into this as more than the blatant pandering that it was. Turning into a clusterf*ck without purpose didn’t help matters. An abominable end to an abominable show (with the exception of Angle/Flair).
Now That’s An Opening: Okay, let’s give them full props. Dueling promos between Angle and Flair to open Raw, now that gets my attention. Well, any time that Flair gets to be a face gets my attention. You ever wonder what the definition of my term “on the summit of Mount Perpetually Over” means? It was coined originally to describe Flair. No matter what he does, no matter when he does it, no matter who he does it to, the crowd follows, period. And he does it so damn effortlessly on top of that. He’s God, period.
Well, It’s The Big Load: TBS belongs on Raw, pure and simple. That’s been obvious for a long time. The moment that High-Quality Speaker Boy had used him up and spit him out in “creative”‘s attempt to humiliate everyone on the SD upper-card, his purpose was ended on that show. So now it’s over to Raw, where he can still be a face at a high level (his only natural place, really) and have some “fresh” competition. And until they decide exactly what that would be, he can f*ck around with Snitsky.
An Even Bigger Load: Everyone realizes that I’m not the biggest fan of Rob Van Dam, mostly because at the time of his injury, his matches had become the most obvious pre-programmed spot-fests since the Five Moves Of Doom. Van Dam had real talent once upon a time, but he needed the free-wheeling atmosphere of an ECW, or at least people sympathetic to what he could do, to express that talent. Now One-Night Stand has opened eyes to the fact that, once upon a time, Van Dam could be a great promo artist. Maybe the switch to Raw and a reemphasis of him on the mic could trigger a change which could lead to matches not being pure formula. I can hold out hope for that.
Something That Shouldn’t Be Ignored: What exactly is going on with the three-man booth, both at Vengeance and here on Raw? Is there a rationale behind it? If so, what? A differentiation between the brands? Doubtful. Ross finally deciding to go upstairs, and this being the start of a transition period to move Coachman into the booth as a replacement? No, I doubt it. Coachman’s far more of a color guy. Something dealing with a permanent hiring of Joey Styles? Now that I’d believe. Everyone thinks that if Styles were hired, he’d head to Smackdown to be with Tazz. However, Cole and Tazz have established a helluva chemistry that WWE might feel shouldn’t be broken. If Ross is going upstairs and Styles is to be his replacement, then Coachman might be there as “insurance” during the transition, until Styles can establish a rapport with Lawler. Let’s hope this is the case. Styles deserves a job (and that job would be ensured if a certain DVD that goes on sale today sells like hotcakes). Ross needs to be put out to pasture. It’d be a good time to start establishing a new voice with the move back to USA. Or maybe they just want a three-man booth for a while. I don’t know. But it’s fun to speculate.
And it’s been fun writing this, but I’m going to break it off for now. See you tomorrow.