In Memoriam: Kerry Packer, who must have thanked God every day for Rupert Murdoch making him look good.
Your reading for this holiday season comes from the Book Of Halas:
And, lo, it transpired that the Prophet Butkus had knees that were vexed and sore, and he knew that he could no longer continue on his chosen path. So he called the Faithful unto him and spake thus:
I can no longer be with you, he said. I cannot continue, for my body is failing me and it would be a disrespect to the Faithful. But do not fret. There will be another, one who will come to take my place and preach to you as I did. You will recognize him by the way he patrols the center of the field, by his breaking through the offensive line, and by the look in his eyes. And then you shall know the glory and the power.
And thus did the Prophet Butkus leave the Faithful for frequent endorsements and television guest appearances on sitcoms and reality shows. They erected a shrine to him in the Temple of Canton and waited for his prophecy to be fulfilled.
But time passed, and the people grew upset. The reigns of Kings Gibron, Pardee, and Armstrong provided no comfort and joy, for, lo, the team did suck. And some forgot the prophecy of Butkus, and their faith dimmed.
In the last year of the reign of King Armstrong, a young man arrived from the south and was placed in the center of the defense. The young man, who was called Samurai, started to display wisdom and skills beyond his years. The Faithful started to remember back to the days of the Prophet Butkus, and then they looked in his eyes and saw a fire that could burn through stone. Then they remembered the prophecy, and joy started to spread. But the team still sucked, and so the Faithful were still sorely vexed.
The Founder saw all, and he knew that his team still sucked, and he too was sorely vexed. He decided that the people needed a new king. He remembered that the Prophet Ditka was in exile in the Land of the Cows, and ventured forth there to return him to the Shining City On The Lake to have him become the new king. The Prophet Ditka accepted, for he so loved the Founder and wanted to serve the Faithful, who had loved him so much that they erected a shrine to him at the Temple of Canton. And thus anointed, King Ditka ventured back to the Shining City On The Lake and looked at the young Samurai. He and his vizier, known to all as Buddy, knew that Samurai was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Butkus, and built their defense around him.
And, lo, the Faithful were happy. The Year of Miracles proved that the Shining City On The Lake could not be conquered. Even a loss in battle in Vice City did not shake the faith of the people. It was in that year that Samurai was recognized as a prophet, and he did lead the troops in battle. A tremendous victory in the Battle of the Bayou proved their dominance. It was truly a Golden Age.
Years passed, and the people still kept faith with the team. But the Founder had left forever, and his grandson was sorely jealous of King Ditka. The Grandson had a plan: he would replace King Ditka with someone close enough to him that the Faithful would not complain. His evil gaze turned to the Land of the Cows, where Ditka had been exiled, and he saw Prince Wannie. He was greatly like King Ditka, including his birth in the same land far to the east. He even possessed the sacred mustache that King Ditka had popularized. So the Grandson forced King Ditka into exile, who eventually made his way to the Bayou, where they remembered his exploits in battle and anointed him king.
The arrival of King Wannie upset the Prophet Samurai, though. He knew now that it was time to go. He thus called the Faithful unto him and spake thus:
I have served you well, but all things must end. My time is over. But I speak to you as did the Prophet Butkus before me, and I will tell you the same thing he did. There will be another to follow me, as I followed the Prophet Butkus. You will recognize him by the same signs as you recognized me. He will have the same moves and the same fire. And, verily, he will kick as much ass as I did.
The Faithful were upset, but they understood. And this time, they said, they would remember the prophecy and keep faith. And so they erected a shrine to Samurai at the Temple of Canton, and Samurai departed. He would eventually make his way to the City of the Sodomites and would be talked about as a future king of some realm.
But the people became quickly vexed with King Wannie. He was regarded as a mere shade of King Ditka, and was given no respect. Eventually, the Faithful drove him away, and he was anointed king in Vice City, where they were only pleased with King Wannie’s rule for a short time. He was driven away from there as well, and given a position to train young soldiers in the City of Steel. Prince Jauron was anointed king in the Shining City On The Lake.
At that time, a young man arrived from the southwestern desert and was given a place in the sacred spot in the middle of the defense. The wise men told the Faithful that this young man, Brian by name, was the fulfillment of the Prophet Samurai’s words. The Faithful, wary of the words of the wise men, desired that he prove it. Brian did so, and quickly became regarded as a true prophet, gaining the faith of the people and numerous visits to the Pro Bowl. But, lo, the team did suck, and the Faithful drove King Jauron into exile in the City of Autos. The Faithful called unto Prince Lovie of the City of the Arch to lead them, and he did so.
It so transpired that the leader of the offense, Duke Rex, was frequently ill and unable to lead his troops into battle. Those troops were given to the young and inexperienced Lord Kyle to command, and he did not yet know how to inspire his men. Even growing a beard to make him look older did not help. King Lovie was sorely vexed at this, and he called the Prophet Brian unto him. The King spake thus to the Prophet:
Lord Kyle is simply a boy from the farms to the south. He is not ready to lead, yet we have no one else. You must carry the burden for him. I know this is a great deal to ask of you, but you are a true prophet, one in the line of Butkus and Samurai. You are capable of doing so. Can you do this?
The quiet Brian simply nodded his head and left the King’s presence. The Prophet Brian called unto him his disciples. Michael had been with him for some time, and knew of his power. Adewale had heard of the prophet’s exploits while in Vice City, and left there to join him. The young men, Lance, Alex, Charles, and Nathan, were newer converts, but the Prophet Brian regarded them with full respect. When they had gathered, he spake unto them:
Men, I have spoken with the King. He is worried about Lord Kyle’s ability to command. We have been tasked to assist him as much as we can until Duke Rex can return. We will do so with all our knowledge, skills, and ability. I will provide you with the guidance, and you shall execute my will and that of the King.
The disciples nodded in agreement. And, lo, it so transpired that the defense kicked serious ass and helped Lord Kyle by giving him scores and short fields. And the team kept winning until they secured a bye week and a home playoff game. And the wise men who had predicted doom for the team, especially the Doctor of Si, were chastised and flagellated. And the Faithful, who had given up on the battles before they had started, were amazed. This, truly, was a Season of Miracles in the Shining City By The Lake.
And so ends the reading.
What did I do to deserve the goodness of Christmas Day? The Bears beat the FudgePackers in Lambeau and a new, seriously-kick-ass episode of Doctor Who (with spoilers for the new season that’s prompting a big-time woodrow from someone as continuity-conscious as I am)? That’s enough to lift the gloom and doom. Okay, so I would have preferred a slightly better offensive performance from Grossman and a couple more continuity references regarding UNIT, but nothing’s perfect. No, not even me.
Yes, the site went down on Sunday afternoon (which is why it took 36 hours for the Short Form to come up), and as I’m writing this on Monday morning, it still isn’t back up. That makes it awfully hard to do the Pimp Section, but I’m sure I’ll cobble up something when the site comes back up. If it does. If not, I’m really wasting my time here doing this piece…
…okay, it’s now Monday evening, and we’re back up. Good.
First of all, I’d like to welcome Canada to the 1970s. Swingers’ clubs are now legal in the Great White North. You know, you really would have thought that Trudeau would have taken care of this. After spending two and a half years in a country where prostitution is legal and organized, I’m all for as much sexual freedom as anyone can stand. Now I just wish that someone would share it with me.
Oh, on to the Pimps…
THE PIMP SECTION
Hevia really should get back to doing his own stuff. He should know that guest writers, as a principle, blow…wait a minute, who covered for me last week?
Hatton and his friends still haven’t realized that a good orgy would occupy two hours better than Raw would. And it’s now legal to do it in Canada.
Zarur is obviously still drunk from Christmas.
Pat‘s got big balls. No, really, they’re enormous. Or so he keeps telling us.
Cameron pulls quotes from himself out of context.
Paul has a plan for his life now that he no longer has someone to blow him on a regular basis.
Stevens continues his weekly paraphrasing of Newsarama.
Clinton doesn’t realize one thing about cartoons on TV: today they, by and large, suck. There are few exceptions, and they’re pretty much all on Adult Swim.
Only one story today, really. Well, that’s to be expected. It’s the holiday week, so there’s going to be nothing newsworthy. That being said, I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to my Aunt Ann, despite the fact that she doesn’t have Internet access. Hey, folks, sometimes you just have to scrounge…
NO WAY OUT INDEED
Well, Big Johnson over at 1bullshit Junior certainly knows how to spoil the afterglow. One of his stringers has passed on some information that’s a little bit disconcerting to everyone involved. Apparently, the main event for No Way Out has already been spoiled. Yes, we still have to get through New Years’ Revolution and Royal Rumble, but we already know things about No Way Out. I’ve always called No Way Out the most useless PPV of all due to its position between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. Weird shit always seems to happen at it, stuff that makes you want to plow your head into a wall. Perplexing booking, title hot-shotting, etc. The 2006 edition is going to be no exception. The title match, apparently, will be Batista versus Kane.
And now all of you are whining like little bitches. “You put in a spoiler without warning us! Wahh, wahh, wahh!” Look, I think I have six years’ worth of evidence behind me that I don’t give a shit about any of you. I still remember the flames I got when I threw in an aside about Sirius Black dying in the fifth Harry Potter book within a couple days of its release. That didn’t deter me, so anything you write about this won’t either. So don’t bother trying. It’s news, so it goes in. Deal with it.
Now, let’s get to the meat of the gist, so to speak. What does this mean?
1) If Batista has a title match at Royal Rumble, he wins it. Who Batista will face in a title match at Royal Rumble is totally up for grabs. High-Quality Speaker Boy is on the verge of another push, but he’s been playing the face where Raw Versus Smackdown is concerned. I can’t think of anyone else off the top of my head except for Booker.
2) This almost certainly means that Batista’s match at Royal Rumble will be for the tag titles, probably against MNM. Hence, the booking is clear: Kane and TBS interfere, cost Batista and Rey-Rey the straps, and the title match is made for No Way Out.
3) Raw Versus Smackdown will continue in full-blown mode until Wrestlemania. Kane will remain a central part of that feud.
3a) Could this be leading up to an Undertaker/Kane match at WM? If so, what stips? Due to Eddy’s death, they weren’t able to use Buried Alive as they had planned for SurSer. Kane has interfered twice in Buried Alive matches to UT’s detriment (In Your House: Rock Bottom and SurSer 2003), but they’ve never faced off in one. If they decide to break UT’s streak, Buried Alive would be a good match to do it in. They can still claim that UT’s never been pinned at WM.
4) After WM, we get about a month off from interbrand nonsense until they start building up to One-Night Stand.
You know, I have to give them a little credit. After blasting them for years for on-the-fly booking, it’s actually nice to see that they’re incorporating some long-term planning for a change. However, it’s the substance of the long-term planning that’s bothersome.
First of all, it points out the fact that they haven’t done jack shit to build up any heel contenders on Smackdown to Batista. They’ve descended into borrowing upper-card heels from Raw for some competition. This leads us, yet again, to one Booker Huffman. He’s the only heel on the Smackdown card with the combination of credibility, skill, motivation, and, well, outside interference to get the strap off Batista without pissing off the audience. He’s put in his time with WWE and deserves one more shot with the big belt. Yet they won’t make that final move. And with Booker being involved with Benoit right now, there’s no time to do something.
I could book this f*cker in my sleep. Hell, it can even be don
e with the Best of Seven. In between matches with Benoit, Paisley is able to wrangle a title match out of Teddy for her man. Thanks to a little bit of judicious interference by Paisley and a couple of chair shots during the obligatory ref bump, Booker wins the world strap. He can then obnoxiously shove this fact into Benoit’s nose during their remaining matches, with the threat of someone holding both titles hanging in the balance. Best of Seven finishes at Royal Rumble, with Benoit winning. In the meantime, Batista repeats as Royal Rumble winner, thus giving us a repeat of last year as per who he’s going to face at WM.
But Booker’s loss to Benoit in Match Seven means there’s blood in the water. And Edge is nothing if not a shark. After clarification that Money In The Bank is a shot at the title that’s now currently on Smackdown, Edge decides to cash in at No Way Out. Lita cancels out Paisley, and Edge beats Booker for the title. Whoever is Raw general manager can gloat that both belts are now on his/her show. Batista immediately says that he’s going to face Edge at WM for the title to bring it back home to Smackdown. Batista then wins at WM. During the Draft, Edge gets drafted to Smackdown and wants revenge…
So what do we get out of that booking? Booker looks more credible, despite losing the US strap to Benoit. Edge looks more credible and gets elevated to the upper card. It gives us a world title change on Smackdown, helping to restore for a bit the “anything can happen” feeling. We blow off Money In The Bank. Batista gets put into an ideal position, namely a big-time face chasing the title. We get the Raw/Smackdown feud, which they’re going to continue anyway, elevated to a new level with both belts on one show for a month. We get a crowd-pleasing result at WM. After the Draft, we get a fresh feud for Batista with a now-credible Edge. Sounds like a winner to me.
In this scenario, we land up with a better interbrand match at No Way Out. They’re bound and determined to do one anyway. What would you prefer, Batista/Kane or Edge/Booker? Yes, it’s heel versus heel under my scenario, but all you have to do is alter the focus to Raw Versus Smackdown. Booker plays de facto face, since No Way Out is a Smackdown PPV. They’ve already done that with High-Quality Speaker Boy and got away with it. Why not Booker? The point is, this works. Batista versus Kane for the world title, in a scenario that will obviously lead out of the tag titles, does not.
I’m sure that you can come up with your own little alternative to this match. I’ll allow you to do that. But, let’s face it, anything you come up with won’t be as good as mine. I am, after all, an expert at this crap, and you’re not.
Given a chance, I could also rebook Raw so that it makes some sense. Let’s look at what farrago of nonsense they’ve put out there for us this week…
THE SHORT FORM
Shawn Michaels over Gene Snitsky, Beat The Clock Match (Pinfall, Sweet Chimp Music, Time of Match: 5:56): You know the old paradox, “Can God create a stone so heavy that even He can’t lift it?” We have a similar situation here. Can God carry Gene Snitsky to a watchable match? We can’t logically know that answer, but we do know this: Shawn Michaels is not God. He may be close to God, and he may have a personal relationship with God, but he’s not the Deity. Thus, he cannot carry Snitsky to a watchable match. And did not do so here.
Gym Bunny versus Chavito, Beat The Clock Match (ND, clock ran out): Oh, this one was painful. A six-minute mismatch of extreme proportions. Yes, Chavito’s good, but he’s not good enough to carry Masters to anything watchable. Chavito was actually painful to watch in this one, having to hold back. At least he wasn’t fed to Masters, though. Let’s focus on the good things.
One of the not-good things was covered by The Proud Graduate Of Dartmouth His Own Self:
Gym Bunny flubbing the name of the PPV has got to make you even more pissed that they revealed his Polish heritage a couple of weeks back.
Between him and Van Dam, I have to keep reminding people about me, Chopin, and Curie in order to maintain my heritage’s proud tradition of intellectual and creative accomplishment. It’s a rough job, but I’m willing.
Shawn Daivari over Kurt Angle, Beat The Clock Match (COR): Dear God, why must you make me suffer Mike Chioda’s overacting yet again? I thought this problem was eliminated. Oh, by the way, Angle was absolutely right in his promo regarding the troops overseas. It’s their job. Tough luck if it takes them away for the holidays. As a veteran who served overseas and missed a few Christmases at home because of that, I can say something like that and you can’t bitch about it.
John Cena versus Shelton Benjamin, Beat The Clock Match (ND, clock ran out): You know that somewhere backstage, someone’s claiming that “creative” is doing a “favor” for Benjy by not having him lay down for Cena. Yeah, some favor. Unfortunately, he’s better off staying up North instead of heading to TNA, because his “niche” is already filled down there by Ron Killings and maybe Elix Skipper. Talk about being caught in a bind.
Steve Murray feels for Benjy too:
I’ve bitched about Shelton Benjamin before – I think he should have the spots currently held by crowd-apathy-level stallwarts Carlito and Masters. But something occured to me tonight — he’s had incredible matches against HHH and Shawn Michaels, the two core members of the Clique. And against everybody else — he NEVER WINS A MATCH, despite the fact that A) he’s actually talented, B) the crowd likes seeing him out there, and C) they want him to win. He’s now officially become the Mirror Universe X-Pac.
Carly Colon over…Missus Hevia(?!), Beat The Clock Match (Pinfall, face-first neckbreaker, Time of Match: 2:36): Okay, this is sick. No, not the match. I’m sure that, under normal circumstances, Victoria can handle herself perfectly well against any man. But Carly’s ‘fro must have scared the crap out of her. What’s sick is the fact that, just because they have a book to push, they temporarily turn Victoria, Candace, and the Ten-Buck Tramp (and her f*cking puppy) face. No, that’s just wrong, especially after MickieLexis LaJames’ passionate kiss of Trish earlier. Ah, smell the misogyny!
As per that kiss, The Proud Graduate Of Dartmouth His Own Self asks this:
So, in 1996, we had Goldust and Razor Ramon. In 2006, we have Mickie James and Trish Stratus. Is this progress?
No, it’s regression. Lesbians aren’t hot right now. Thanks to Brokeback Mountain, it’s guys. So they were ten years ahead of their time on the one hand, and ten years behind the times on the other.
Kane over Romeo and Antonio, Beat The Clock Handicap Match (Pinfall, double chokeslam, Time of Match: 0:28; Kane enters the Elimination Chamber last): Well, that completes the descent into the ludicrous…oh, no, it doesn’t. We still have Vince’s DVD pimp to go. Last Raw of the year and they stick us with this shit. What did we do to deserve this?
Clutch Performance: I’ll be honest: as a kid, Clutch Cargo and Space Angel really creeped me out. Now, add Lita to this mix, and…where are the pills? Dear God, where are the pills?!
Contractual Obligations: If you had any beliefs that Trip could no longer carry a feud with mic work, you can banish those thoughts now. He still has it. Come on, people, the man took master classes under two of the best ever at the art of carrying a feud with a mic, Flair and Michaels. He’s going to have to work overtime to sell this match with TBS, and he knows it. No one buys this feud at all right now. It’s up to Trip to make us care. He’ll come through as best he can. I don’t think he’ll succeed, but I’ll give him partial credit for trying.
The Lesson For Today: Most of the time, subtlety, economy of facial expression, and silence says more than demonstrative histrionics. Unfortunately for wrestlers, very few of them other than Shawn Michaels can actually accomplish this effectively.
KC Evers (no relation) took a different view of the promo:
I think the whole point of that McMahon-Michaels segment was to make it clear that TNA doesn’t count to them as competition.
Actually, I think they believe that it is. However, consider who was in the ring with Vince when he said that. TNA couldn’t afford Michaels, especially after they blew that half-million on Sting. If Sting’s worth a half-million, how much could Michaels, a still-active wrestler at a late-career peak, be worth? Wife-Beater money?
Christopher Arrington goes a little cynical:
I have been thinking in my head for the past 5 years about an endgame for the McMahon family as an on screen presence. I have thought for the WWE to get to even greater heights that they had to kill them off on TV. I know I’m retarded for even thinking it, but maybe this is the beginning of endgame, where at least Vince is off TV permanently except to induct a Hall of Famer or to make a rah-rah speech on his last legs like Classy Freddie Blassie. If this promo means that Shawn or Bret becomes storyline CEO, then I am very happy. But this probably is just going to be another jackoff session for Vince on all the fans.
No, I don’t see it. They’ve already done Michaels in this role once, and it didn’t come off very well. Besides, Michaels can still wrestle. As for the Shitman, there’s no way in hell he’d do it. Do you know how much bile he had to choke down in order to do the DVD? He was presented with irrefutable evidence in the Warrior DVD that if Vince had it out for you, he’d destroy your legacy, so he was forced into doing it or else it’d be three DVDs worth of lowlights. Actually, that would have made me buy the DVD. Now that it’s an encomium to him, I’m not even going to pirate it.
The Proud Graduate Of Dartmouth His Own Self gets yet another quote in here, as he asks a rather pertinent question:
When did Shawn become the voice of the Internet fans? I mean, a couple of years ago, he was telling Bischoff that Katie Vick doesn’t offend him as a Christian, but as a wrestling fan. Now, he tells Vince to get over Montreal. Of all the people to say the things we want said, why Shawn?
I think it’s because we, unlike Vince, have got over Montreal…okay, all of us except Scooter. We’ve long forgiven Shawn for his participation in that and understood his reasons, which he articulated very well in the promo. He has mammoth credibility among us for his long-standing accomplishments in the ring. He’s definitely at the Summit of Mount Perpetually Over. He has a connection to us forged from those years of accomplishment. And I think the connection does go both ways; in a way, he sympathizes with us and thanks us for the belief and love we’ve given him over the years, a belief that he came to know in his delayed maturity. WWE knows that this connection has been forged. Therefore, WWE feels that they can use him as a spokesperson channeling the perceived views of their audience, they know that we will accept him saying those things, and we do accept him.
Hey, Michaels is a better spokesperson for us than the so-called “everymen” they’ve had in the past. At least he doesn’t beat his wife.
Steve Murray got a little excited about the promo:
Wow. Alright now – I’ve been watching pro wrestling on TV since 1977, and I clearly remember watching Bob Backlund defending the WWF title at the Spectrum, the introduction of the Road Warriors, Magnum T. A.’s highlights, etc. And I will submit to you that that was the greatest in-ring interview IN THE HISTORY OF THIS SPORT. You threw together a guy that OWNS the only major wrestling company in the world (yes, yes — Japan, TNA, blah blah blah – get real), along with the one of the few active members of Mount Perputually Over, and have them talk about the biggest issues in the pro wrestling industry in the last 50 years. And then, you let them BOTH make reasonable arguments about their respective points of view, and you let them have at each other.
All around – I’m hypercritical of the WWE, simply because I’ve been watching wrestling for too long. Honestly, I have no choice (just like you, and Scooter, and everyone else that’s been around since last millenium). But, outside of Bret showing up (which we all know wasn’t happening), this was the TOP SHELF version of what they could do.
I’m not going to say “greatest ever”, and not only because I don’t indulge in hyperbole (except when it comes to the Benoit/Regal match at Pillman 2000). I can name a half-dozen Flair promos off the top of my head better than this one. However, the way this was constructed was perfect. It was two guys discussing a divisive issue calmly (eerily so) and completely in character for each. Vince was the creepy asshole, Michaels the quasi-repentant. Beautifully done. And if I gave a shit about Bret instead of believing that he’s the most overrated wrestler in history, maybe I would regard it with more importance.
And that closes this edition off. Join me this weekend as I bridge two years for you in the Short Form. Until such time, give me gifts, you cheap bastards.