Pro football season’s coming. I’m not one to even pay attention to pre-season because “it doesn’t count” as far as who plays at the Super Bowl at the end of the NFL football season but when you find yourself bored with WWE RAW, I find myself more and more curious to see what’s going on ABC. For those curious, I pull for my home team the Carolina Panthers and the Tennessee Titans. The return of the gridiron is not good news for Vince McMahon if the WWE keeps pushing characters that don’t click with the audience and haphazardly written storylines.
RAW originated out of Pittsburgh, PA this week. Pittsburgh is a pro wrestling, hard working, sports city by reputation and I’m a die hard Kurt Angle mark. Any chance I know that Kurt will get a (Olympic Gold Medalist) hero’s welcome when he’s supposed to be the heel, I relish the moment. There was really nothing Kurt could do to keep the heat on him for longer than five seconds. If the idea is (in cities outside of Pittsburgh) to push Eugene as the baby face (CHEER ME!) character, that idea didn’t wash with the for obvious reasons for this one particular hometown. It was basically a excuse to do a messy finish so Eugene could keep the medals, Angle losing his cool on the ref, Hulk Hogan coming out to be the hero and a chance for Christy to enjoy her new role as Eugene’s Head Cheerleader. The crowd was Pro-Angle, even when Hogan tried to put himself in the first segment of the show so the Eugene character could have a mark out moment. Maybe next week Eugene will pimp a Bret Hart t-shirt or the opponent he’ll face as the Hometown Hero for next week. I understand why Angle clearly had to be the Hometown Hero in Pittsburgh since that’s their boy, but there’s no way that the reaction Eugene was given last night would go any other way.
Chris Masters, Mark Conway, and the Heart Throbs are all gimmicks dead in the water right now and all seem to be the same character or at least written by the same writer. That’s why it is a injustice that Shelton Benjamin has to job to Masters, even if it is with the cheap ending. These sort of losses will hurt Shelton in the long run unless he’s going to keep bumping like Jeff Hardy for the rest of his career. Shelton is booked as one of the hottest young stars by the chances he takes in the ring and he can’t get the job done against a glorifyed bodybuilder with one or two moves? Muhammad Hassan’s character lost at least at some point, even Kurt Angle lost his own Invitational, enough already – Masters is not even Bill Goldberg. It’s probably too late now, but I suggested months ago that Kurt Angle should beat Chris Masters, and in doing so the fans react thinking he’s a face, and he then kills their dreams by saying that it is nothing personal, but he didn’t wish to be imitated by Masters, that his Invitational is the only one that really matters on RAW.
Viscera states the obvious with Rob Conway, and I wish he would have read my column and borrowed the fact that Conway is also resembling Buff Bagwell – that would have gotten a great reaction. I guess we have a Big Vis/Conway feud now for Summerslam? Viscera still has way more charisma than Conway and I think Conway is falling into the Chuck Palumbo trap: being apart of gimmicks that don’t take with the audience no matter what you do with them.
Edge, I have to give it to him – he gave the best promo of his career, above Matt Hardy’s promo last week. This helps all the parties involved to keep the storyline going and at least, keeps the emotional level high. Edge needed this for his career too, no question about it. I still maintain that without him doing his deed backstage that he also wouldn’t be getting this kind of attention as a main eventer. They’ve tried to put him in the main event picture before but to a modest if not indifferent response by the audience. Edge still lacks the charisma and wrestling skill to hold the WWE Championship in my mind, with the only time he seems to really be believable is when he’s having to wrestle Matt Hardy in this worked shoot style storyline. I haven’t connected with Edge as a character in years, not since he was in the tag team division with Christian. The make out sessions seem so strange to watch with him and Lita, not because I can’t picture them being together but because I just don’t think Edge is a good kisser, he sort of resembles a human horse to me.
WWE should have saved Matt’s wrestling ring return for the PPV but I guess that’s too much to ask. His top rope Twist of Fate wasn’t all that bad but I feel like it’s going to take a new finisher or new variation all together of the Twist of Fate to keep Matt fresh. Matt should have stuck with a worked shoot counter because basically it felt like Matt let him get away with doing a promo with no comeback on the same show.
Victoria could offer so much more than being stuck with the Heart Throbs and darting Stacy against the barricade. That was the entire highlight of that segment that they called a match. I want Trish Stratus back so Victoria can have someone to wrestle again.
I connected to the Highlight Reel with Eric Bischoff smacking the referee around even less than I did the Masters/Benjamin matchup. It didn’t appeal to me in the least and took me completely out of the feud Jericho and Cena were setting up so nicely. It didn’t even matter to me that Cena came out to help make the save. I just wanted that block of television over with.
The Diva Search – I’m still voting for Ashley just for putting the phone number up, making me think someone got ribbed that she knows. Apparently it’s now her voice on the voice mail. I expect her to get signed no matter what just for planting the thought that she wouldn’t mind bumping around the ring. I also like Elizabeth because she seemed to have the best sense of humor about the entire skit. Leyla, I could not connect (and have yet to be able to connect to this entire search) with whatsoever. As a female wrestling enthusiast, I would vote considering three things: 1)will she take a bump better than Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson or actually try to wrestle at some point and look passable; 2)would we have a conversation at a bar and 3) have I seen someone that looks like her on WWE before.
My parents are not rap fans in the least but they seem to tolerate John Cena’s music, even paying attention to his rap videos. Cena surprises me with this particular song, because it’s so sentimental and not “hard” as I expected his music to always be. I liked the cardboard sign touch but I’m not sure if it fit with the flow of the show.
Finally, as usual, Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan give us compelling TV the way wrestling storylines should be. I have no urge to get a new beverage or answer a phone call from a non wrestling fan who doesn’t know that RAW is on, I just want to listen to what they have to say. My hopes that Pittsburgh would boo Hogan out of the building were crushed unfortunately though it seemed more mixed than WWE wishes the audience to believe, that the Hogan charm seems to take over the audience just enough to not have the crowd turn on the writers, no matter how valid Shawn Michaels points are. No matter how I feel about Hogan, he and Michaels are creating captivating magical television that I’m excited about. I think it’s no coincidence that Hogan name dropped Bret Hart in a critical time that Hart and Vince McMahon actually took the most shocking photo in wrestling this year, by posing together and agreeing on issues important to them! I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to see that day. The WWE is in Montreal next week and I feel you can only hear “You Screwed Bret” so many years until he has to come back there for a pop. If it indeed does happen, the roof will blow and that will take over the buzz away from anything Matt Hardy has been doing and that’s putting it in perspective. Thanks for reading, take care and feel free to drop me comments anytime at Bam@insidepulse.com.