The Anderson Breakdown: Taboo Tuesday Instant Thoughts

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Hey guys, what’s shakin?

Earlier this afternoon, I had absolutely no intention of checking out this PPV. A few of the matches intrigued me, but with the NBA tipping off tonight, along with the recent hit-or-miss nature of the E’s PPV programming, I was feeling pretty content to just hang out around the apartment tonight and watch a couple of basketball games. Anyway, when I read that Joey Styles would be doing the play-by-play for Taboo Tuesday, I decided to set the Tivo, throw on some clothes, and head on up to my local Sports Bar to see how the show would turn out.

I’m honestly glad I decided to give this PPV a chance. I can’t honestly say that it was a blowaway affair or anything, but I definitely feel like I got my $3 cover’s worth. Even if I ordered at home, I might be bitter over having just spent $35 on a non-major PPV, but I don’t think I’d feel actively screwed either. While the first half of the show ranged between almost completely forgettable and downright cringeworthy, when we got to the 90:00 mark or so, things definitely started to get awesome.

The Show:

Although I would have liked to see Christian voted into the Smackdown match (and hell, there’s a good chance he probably even was), at least Hardy’s presence would provide a nice continuation of the Edge/Matt feud. Not surprisingly though, Vince McMahon once again gave the audience a nice smack in the face by pulling Edge out of the match even though nearly everyone who voted in Matt Hardy probably did just to see these two go at it again. I can’t say I understand the logic there. I know the Edge-man is injured, but honestly, the least they could have done was advertise the fact that he wouldn’t be wrestling ahead of time. It might have changed the voting pattern. Despite all this, the match itself wasn’t half bad. If you’re looking for a star rating, I’d probably go somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half beautiful astericks.

Eugene/Snuka vs. Conway/Tomko was decent enough as well. I was expecting a short, below-average wrestling match with some fun nostalgia spots thrown in, along with run-ins from the “Legends” who weren’t voted into the match. That’s exactly what I got. I’m sure people round the net will be complaining about the match, but honestly, expectations shouldn’t have been at the four-star level or anything going in. If they bought the PPV, they got what they paid for. In this case, I’d probably rate the match with one solid press of Shift + 8.

Carlito vs. Mankind was just awful. Like bad beyond all words awful. Although I haven’t seen every single one of the man’s matches, I can honestly say that this might have been the saddest high-profile match of Mick Foley’s wrestling career. What happened to the man who didn’t want to come back unless he could do it right? Hell, even his interviews since Homecoming have been absolutely dreadful. And in particular, his mic-work leading up to Taboo Tuesday has just been HORRIBLE. The short little interview montage with all three “Faces of Foley” that ran last night on RAW, and again before the match, was almost too painful to watch. Foley is capable of much, much more. Instead, the guy’s almost become a parody of himself in the last month or so. He was in awful shape out there tonight, to the point that he looked to be having trouble even moving. The match looked to be moving in slow-motion. The crowd didn’t seem to care one bit, and for almost inexplicable reasons, “Mankind” went over Carlito as clean as can be. I like Foley alot as a person, and I know he takes a lot of pride in what he does, but really, what was he thinking here? A truly heartbreaking segment to watch.

Vince McMahon’s promo was very, very weird. Over the years, it’s always been easy to write off things like the random JR segment or occasional in-ring rant as simply “Vince being Vince,” but as of late, things have just started to get weirder and weirder. You’ve seriously got to start asking yourself if Vince McMahon is beginning to legitimately lose his mind. He’s become less and less entertaining to watch and more and more disturbing as of late. The JR segment two weeks ago was NOT the work of a well-rested, logical, sane man.

Kane/Show vs. Cade/Murdoch was also nearly unwatchable. Don’t get me wrong, if it was on RAW, it would be a perfectly acceptable TV match. I’ve seen far worse. For a PPV though, it really didn’t bring anything unique or exciting to the table. The result, taking the titles off an actual tag team beginning to establish themselves and putting it two non-tag wrestlers (one of whom might have a BROKEN BACK) just makes my head spin. I don’t get it. But I guess that’s the fun of WWE booking these days. Lashing back at the internet by killing off every wrestler/announcer they like in repeated, nonsensical power-trips. Bizarre to say the least, yet still fascinating to watch.

Batista vs. Coach/Goldust/Vader was also interesting, albeit in the trainwreck sense. Vader again looked very bad out there. Seeing Vader and Foley barely able to move out there tonight, after all the insanely brutal and energetic matches the two had in the early 90’s, was so despressing that I almost got up and left. I’m glad I didn’t as the show would eventually pick up, but Vader just made Batista look awful out there. The botched spinebuster literally had the entire place cringing. I love Vader, and I would have loved to have seen him given a little more time to get back into shape before throwing him out on TV. Still though, I really thought they were going to push him now that he was back on TV, but I guess it might just be a one-time squash after all. Don’t understand the logic of signing a former World Champion to a legends deal, bringing him back in, and needlessly jobbing him out in a throwaway match, but I guess that’s the trend these days. And once again, whether you like him on Color or not, the Coach is still one of the most entertaining, charismatic guys in wrestling.

Onto some positive, as from here on out, the show ROCKED.

The Divas Battle Royal was up next, and I must say, I was just massively entertained by this match. The crowd at the Sports Bar I was at in Jacksonville was more into this match than anything else that had happened at Taboo Tuesday up to this point. You know, Trish Stratus and Victoria might never be Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, but regardless, I absolutely love the effort these two give every single time out that they’re out there. Trish in particular is just one of the best things going in wrestling today. She just works her ass off out there in the ring, and you can really tell that she takes a lot of pride in putting on watchable matches with girls who aren’t exactly wrestlers. It’s unfair to compare male wrestlers in the WWE to the more aesthetic “Divas,” but pound-for-pound, and all things (in-ring, interview, charisma, etc.) considered, Trish is one of the best workers in the company right now. I’m actually really enjoying this Mickie James angle too, and it’s actually getting me excited to see them face off sometime in the future. Simple booking like this can go a long way from time to time. Anyway, as far as tonight’s match goes, everyone worked hard in the battle royal, Mickie and Victoria both took a SICK bump to the outside, and Trish totally ruled out there. People are so quick to fill “The Diva Match!” into their “worst match of the night” bracket, but seriously, give them credit where it’s deserved.

Moving on…

Flair vs. Triple H was simply AWESOME. I certainly can’t predict the future, but I have a feeling this will probably go down as the last “great” match of Ric Flair’s career. It wasn’t five stars, but it was definitely an awesome, old-school match. The crowd at my Sports Bar was really into this one, with people going absolutely crazy for Flair. Both men’s bladejobs were awesome, their shots were stiff and convincing, and unlike alot of other matches these days, this one actually told a concrete, believable story out there in the ring. I think we all knew Flair would go over, but the journey itself turned out to be pretty damn fun. NOTHING Flair has done in-ring since returning to the WWE has matched the level of emotion and intensity of sticking his middle fingers in Triple H’s face, figure-four locked on, and screaming “FUCK YOU! I’LL KILL YOU! FUCK YOU!” Unlike most of what goes on in the E these days, the emotion was THERE for this match. The last few weeks of build have been awesome (especially Flair giving the promo of a lifetime two weeks ago on RAW), and the match more than delivered. Triple H was dirty, Ric Flair was DIRTIER. All physical limitations considered, I absolutely LOVED this match. I honestly wish it would have been billed as Ric Flair’s retirement match, as I can’t imagine him getting a better in-ring sendoff than he did tonight. I loved it, and I’ll definitely be buying the DVD for this match. * * * * 1/2.

And finally, the 3 Way match to cap off the show was just incredible. Definitely as good as any 3-Way match the company has done since the Michaels-Benoit-HHH rematch, and the show’s second * * * * 1/2 match.. Kurt Angle was as “on” as I’ve seen him in a long, long time tonight. Must have been the tights. Shawn Michaels continues to defy all common sense, effortlessly working faster, crisper, and better than men half his age. He seriously moves like a 20 year old. People forget that Michaels is still pretty much risking near-paralysis every time he wrestles, but to the man’s credit, he certainly doesn’t show much hesitation or fear. And even though the crowd was really starting to turn on him again tonight, John Cena definitely delivered the goods at Taboo Tuesday as well.

Like Flair-HHH, the 3-Way also told a great little in-ring story as well. I especially liked HBK and Angle forming a loose bond, teaming up on Cena, dumping him outside the ring, and then just flat-out going right at each other. I loved when Angle had Cena in the extended anklelock, and I honestly believed that Cena might actually taop out. People in the Sports Bar were just going absolutely CRAZY screaming for the tap-out. Even though it didn’t happen, Michaels coming off the top was still a cool touch. The ending of the match made perfect sense, even though I wouldn’t have minded seeing a title change.

As amazing as Cena is for his age and experience level, the man still needs a great heel run before the masses will ever even think about taking him seriously as a legitimate Main Event babyface. A solid heel run will also teach him alot more about the psychology of a great match. Regardless, Cena was still good tonight. I especially loved his amazing sell-job of the injured ankle as the show went off the air. If you’re one of those grapplin’ pirates who downloads the shows after the fact, this match alone is worth cueing up the BitTorrent for. It was fast-paced, exciting, and ALL ACTION.

And finally, to comment on Joey Styles. I’ve said it in the past, and I’ll say it again. I just don’t think Joey Styles is the right man to call WWE matches, and especially not RAW. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Joey Styles in ECW, and there were definitely times tonight that his commentary bordered on brilliance (HHH-Flair), but for the majority of the show, I don’t know, I just think he came off as being disingenious and somewhat phony. It’s not a knock on the guy’s commentary, but it’s genuinely tough to buy the Joey Styles that we all know and love getting excited over a Hacksaw Jim Duggan run-in, or a Big Show double noggin-knocker, or anything involving Eugene. Fans who’ve followed Styles over the years know that he would NEVER, EVER be even remotely excited about such nonsense. I hate to say it, but Joey just doesn’t fit in with the WWE product, at all.

Anyway, based on the last three matches, and based on the fact that any halfway rational person wasn’t going into this show expecting a Wrestlemania or Summerslam either, I’d give it a 7.5 out of 10.0. I’ll settle for a forgettable undercard if it means ending the show with two KILLER matches.

As Meltzer has justly pointed out in the last few weeks though, you know things are starting to get really scary for the company if their “fresh” stuff is beginning to play second-fiddle to the nostalgia acts. Nostalgia certainly has its time and place, but Vince McMahon has been going to it so much as of late that it seems like they’re constantly trying to remind the audience of how great they once were, instead of giving them true reasons to love the CURRENT product as is. It almost seems like a subliminal way of saying, “Regardless of how bad our product can be, we’re still the WWE!”

Perhaps even more frightening though, I don’t really know if I see there being much of a short-term (3-5 years) fix to this problem either. You hear so often around the net that new stars aren’t being created, and that new guys aren’t getting over because they’re “not receiving the proper pushes” from management or they’re “not getting the right material from creative”. I don’t doubt this is a substantial problem at all, but it’s certainly far from the only reason no one seems to be getting over. Even the guys who have been getting major, major pushes in the last few years (JBL, Orton, Cena, Batista) are still met with a certain degree of apathy by casual fans. Everyone talks about who the next Rock or “Stone Cold” will be. The thing is though, they never really consider the fact that there just might not even BE another Rock or Austin in the business right now. We might be another decade away from finding someone with that much talent and charisma.

In the last 15 years, I honestly think we’ve all gotten spoiled. We’ve gotten, in rapid succession, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, The Rock, Steve Austin, the Undertaker, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Hollywood Hogan, and many, many more. These are some the greatest wrestlers in HISTORY. Most spent YEARS paying their dues and coming up through smaller territories, learning psychology, developing their characters, and absorbing the business inside and out.

I think people make a big mistake in assuming that there’s plenty more wrestlers just like these guys waiting in the background for their chance to shine. It’s not everyday that you find people with such a perfect blend of in-ring ability and personality. Ken Kennedy MIGHT be one of them. But regardless, the WWE has been blessed with a handful of once-in-a-lifetime performers for the last decade, but once the last of the active legends retire, I question if ANYONE, regardless of push, is going to be able to fill their shoes. Even with creative fully behind them, it’s going to be nearly impossible.

Overall on Taboo Tuesday though, a good show with two great matches, a really solid outting by the divas, and if its your thing, a whole lot of the absolutely (literally) insane booking that’s become common as of late.

I love the WWE, I really do, but no matter how much solid in-ring action they present, if they keep up the way they are creatively, seemingly trying to agitate and upset their most loyal fans, the company is going to be in BIG, BIG trouble.

Sooner than later.

Reach me here, the old AOL address acts up often.

Goodnight friends.

And I mean that.

We’ve been through a lot here together over the years.

I’m off.