In Memoriam: Curt Gowdy, one of the most distinctive and legendary voices in sports, and a model for sports broadcasters everywhere.
“Yeah, just sit there, swill beer, and decide whether you’re going to give Benoit/Angle **** 1/2 or **** 3/4.”
“As your webmaster, I must inform you that I do not give out match ratings before the match is completed.”
“Bullshit! Involve a Canadian in a match, and you’ve already pre-judged it!” – “The Author” and “The Three-Hundred Pound Canadian Webmaster” discussing the run-up to Wrestlemania 17, “Fear and Loathing In Houston” by…modesty forbids
If you wondered why Scooter would put Wrestlemania 17 (NOT “X-7”, assholes) at the top of his list, he does it to piss me off, pure and simple. He’s never forgiven me for “Fear and Loathing In Houston”. Just because I portrayed him as a hopeless beer monster and had him raped by truckers. Hell, I turned Botter into a smelly heroin addict in that piece and he never…oh, wait, he was the guy who fired me from The Smarks, so he got his back, I guess.
Yes, there is bad craziness abounding, but it’s not like we haven’t been through this before. Whatever is happening now is absolutely nothing compared to what we were going through five years ago at this time. This week essentially marks the kickoff of the fifth anniversary of the Month From Hell, which lasted from Flex’s vomitous title win over Angle at No Way Out to Wrestlemania on April 1st. Yes, that’s more than a month, but no one was paying attention to time. We were all in some kind of Time Distortion Field, all while riding a roller coaster. The rumors about WCW were literally changing by the hour. I’d go into detail, but we are coming up with a feature on this next month, so I’d better reserve the good stuff for that time.
A lot of people think that Flex’s hot-shot title win, done only to set up the overrated piece-of-shit main event at WM17 between him and Wife-Beater, was the origin of my dislike for No Way Out. Not true. I hated the PPV even before that, and I have the documentation to prove it. It was and still is the most useless PPV on the schedule, stuck as it is between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. It was that way before the Brand Split, and it is now. The reason this is so is because there’s a prevailing opinion among the IWC that’s a little bit old-school, and thus heartening. That opinion goes something like this: Royal Rumble sets up Wrestlemania, and everything done between those two should be a direct promotion for WM, with changes to the WM card kept at a minimum, preferably done out of exigency and not whim (i. e. injury, etc.). Build-up is everything in order to make WM as special as possible. Thus, when you get a situation like 2001, where the title was hot-shot and changed the main event at WM, or a situation like this year, where the same happened without any hardware changing possession, people tend to get pissed off (and, yeah, you can also include 2004 in that as well, where they hot-shot the belt to Saint Fuckin’ Eddy). The 2001 situation was actually mollified by two facts. The first was that getting the strap off Angle gave us Angle/Benoit, and we knew they’d come through (which they did, and believe it or not, Scooter and I agreed on the four and a quarter snowflake rating for that match). The second was that the morons got their wish and got Flex/Wife-Beater for the title. I believe that I was the only one who complained about that at the time. If you want an illustration of why I believe wrestling fans are knuckle-dragging sub-human retards, here’s positive proof for you.
(And f*ck you, Scooter. No Way Out 2001 sucked because of that. No amount of good matches can salvage the horrid booking.)
But no such mollification can be presented this year, thanks to Vince’s arrogance. No one wants to see Angle/Orton. No one wants to see Angle/Orton if it’s made a three-way with Rey-Rey (the fans in England are going to get this one in April as well). Angle/Rey-Rey had loads of potential. If not for the hideous reasons why it was going to happen, people would have been looking forward to that. But that was ruined on Sunday, all because Orton is getting one of the most inexplicable pushes since (fill in Ed Leslie character here). It could have been balanced on the other side by Raw’s title match, but we’re headed toward Cena/Trip, another match no one wants to see unless it was heel Cena and face Trip, something they’ll never do. Edge/Trip would have been far more interesting, but we’re still trying to find out the reasons why the title was switched at Royal Rumble.
Another reason why No Way Out is so useless is the no-hope cards they present. PK made comparisons of No Way Out to Great American Bash, and they’re appropriate. For some reason, they reserve the worst cards of the year for those two events (and they’re both Smackdown PPVs; I’m not sure what’s cause and what’s effect). This year was no different. In the Round Table, we expressed a unanimity of opinion that’s as rare as unicorn shit in the IWC, and in most respects, our predictions came true. Here were the only places where we were wrong, and why:
1) Most of us had the idea, established in storyline, that Fit Finlay would be headed for a US title program at Wrestlemania. Therefore, none of us expected that he’d interfere in the Lashley/High-Quality Speaker Boy match to set up a Finlay/Lashley feud. And for those of you excited that they did something unexpected, swerves are only good if they make logical sense. This one doesn’t.
2) At deadline for the Round Table, the substantiated rumor (Da Meltz, the Wadester, and Milord all bit on this one) was that Animal would be Hardy’s partner, and the match would be for the tag titles. The tag title stip got nuked, and Tatanka was used instead, something that came out only a few hours before the PPV. Hey, we can only go by what we know at the time we write things.
Otherwise, this show was pure booking-by-numbers. It’s a pretty disgusting fact when seven people with disparate opinions and views all come to the same conclusions about a card before it’s run. This fact alone should have made you aware of what you were in for, and God help you if you paid for it. Me, on the other hand, I stayed up late enough to start downloading it before I went to sleep, and then proceeded to wake up nice and early thanks to my expected wake-up calls from recruiters (one big reason why I do job searches on Sundays is to get those calls early Monday morning). So I’m sitting here with a mug of coffee, ready to watch this abomination. But, first, I must pimp…
THE PIMP SECTION
The Matt Cappotelli interview by BFM that I pimped in the Short Form had a munged link. Try this instead.
Lucard makes Lovecraft sound like a dev house.
People have wondered why I didn’t contribute to the Top Five Shows feature. Quite simple, actually. With the exception of Pillman 2000, I don’t really have any “top shows”. It’s a matter of perspective. I don’t judge PPVs on how good they are compared to each other, but to a more nebulous set of objective standards that usually leaves them wanting in numerous areas. This makes me non-amenable to establishing a list of favorites.
Hevia makes fun of Milord and Big Johnson. I’ll let him.
Shaffer dissects the new ECW history book and, like me and PPVs, finds it wanting.
Wrestling!Hatton violates Godwin’s Law.
Half of Pandich‘s ass is still better than most people’s full asses.
Basilo got a new job. Why can’t I get one?
Goober demonstrates that he’s the prototypical Ugly American.
Paul makes an allusion comparing a musical era to the Soviet Union. Usually that’s reserved for the RIAA.
Wind is sooooooo p-whipped.
Stevens never gets pimped first, so I’ll put him before Comics!Hatton.
MORE LIKE “NO EXIT”; NO INSULT TO SARTRE, OF COURSE
I think I preambled this shit pretty well in the lead. And God knows I’m ignoring the pre-show. Like I need to comment on Boogeyman/Simon Dean. Talk about the appetizer setting the stage for the meal.
Honestly, my biggest problem in watching this was my normal carpet-bombing of resumes on Sunday, which leads to my phone-off-the-hook Mondays. I had five calls and two phone interviews while trying to watch this thing. God knows they were, in large part, more entertaining. Oh, let’s do it…
The biggest knock on the Cruiserweight opener is a simple one: it would have been a great deal more special had we not had the identical match at Royal Rumble. That match, at least, had Novocaine Helms as a surprise entrant from Raw. And this was just pretty much more of the same. Clusterf*ck spot-fest (albeit of good quality, with the obvious exception of Cole selling the Worm like it was the end of the universe). It’s the X Division on ketamine. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing and all that, except more dull. Really, does anyone care? They’re going to need something special to spark some life into the Cruiser division, and mass battle isn’t it. Helms, Kash, and London in a cage at Wrestlemania just might do the trick, but I can’t think of anything else.
This match, though, gave us the Disingenuous Comparison Of The Week from Big Johnson over at 1bullshit Junior: I really enjoyed the Cruiserweight match. I can understand the criticisms of being too spotty but if the same match was put on by ECW in 1995 or WCW Nitro in 1996, I suspect everyone would be crawling over themselves to be the first to praise it.
Well, Johnson, care to have a look at the calendar? It’s now 2006. There’s been this little development called the X Division that raised the bar for these types of matches. It’s no longer perfectly fine to have a 1995 ECW-style match or a 1996 WCW cruiser-style match and leave it at that. So, guess what? We’re not being hypocrites. We’re acknowledging the passage of time. Let me do something like that and see if you’ll let it fly: “I really enjoyed the Kurt Angle/Mark Henry match at Royal Rumble. I can understand the criticisms of it being too slow and ponderous and having too much indiscriminate brawling and too many restholds, but if the same match was put on by the WWWF in 1975 or AWA in 1976, I suspect everyone would be crawling over themselves to be the first to praise it.”
Methinks Novocaine is a bit hesitant to get into the ring.
No, Fit, that’s not what was meant by “How To Pick Up Girls”
Once you go Black Irish, you never go back
Let’s be honest: the exact result of the Lashley/High-Quality Speaker Boy match was irrelevant. Our predictions essentially grew from the common contention that Lashley would make High-Quality Speaker Boy his bitch, which is exactly what happened. The fact that Finlay came in and interfered was not important to what occurred in the match. Thus, our contentions about High-Quality Speaker Boy remain the same. We’re all mystified as to why they took the ball from his hands. Yes, we wanted them to do that when they were pushing his no-workrate ass to the moon, but times have changed. We’re now used to what he can do and what he’s capable of as a complete package of sports entertainer. We’ve learned to tune out Cole and Tazz in regard to his wrestling abilities and ignore the low quality of the matches, and we’ve gained an appreciation for his mic abilities and intensity (by the way, this is not a use of the “royal we”; this is the general consensus). Besides, we’re all used to Vince Loves Big Men and adjust our expectations accordingly. Therefore, this situation is mystifying. And now, he’s in a situation where he’s got no one to feud with going into Wrestlemania. Boogeyman’s on to Booker, Lashley’s f*cking around with Finlay, Rey-Rey’s probably otherwise occupied, Hardy’s getting in touch with his Inner Indian, DAVE’s injured, Eddy’s dead. Benoit for the US title? Horrid misfit, but Benoit can carry him. Besides, I think we’d like to see the Divine Reaction between Our Lord and Savior and The Wrestling God. Should take out a five-block radius around the Horiz…dammit, the Allstate Arena.
And will someone solder Jillian Hall’s mouth shut, please?
(By the way, those of you who are ready to click on that e-mail link below and suggest Burchill, chop your dicks off now. If you do not have dicks, they will be provided.)
Can we now officially declare the shoulder block in the corner a cliche?
Either a reminder that DAVE still exists, or proof that humans can devolve, I don’t know which
Then came the tag match that was supposed to be for the tag titles but wasn’t, because they switched horses in mid-stream and replaced Animal with Tatanka, and God knows that he needed to go over. Wonderful, ten minutes of the Chris Chavis Showcase. Hey, I lived through this the first time…no, let me rephrase that: I barely survived this the first time. Actually, there’s one scenario that I wouldn’t mind him in. That’s if he turns heel and is managed by Melina, because, for some reason, I find the possibility of Melina in a Pocahontas-type skimpy outfit a rather attractive proposition.
KC Evers (no relation) has a theory about the origin of this match:
The only way I can figure Matt Hardy and Tatanka hooking up as a tag team is the North Carolina connection. Matt’s from Cameron, Tatanka’s from Pembroke. Fayetteville’s in between both and Matt’s known to hang out at Secret’s (tit bar). Guess I could kayfabe this whole thing by arguing that Matt probably saw Tatanka getting a lapdance from one of the dancers there and had a chat.
Wait a minute, Matt Hardy in a titty bar? Does not compute…does not compute…
Hooray, Scooter gets to use the “pissed-off ethnic stereotype” line again
Since the US title match was typical current-time-period Booker/Benoit (namely technically sound, good quality, not too exciting), I’ll just concentrate on saying this: Benoit’s six foot, Cole? Wearing platforms, maybe. I’m six foot, and there’s no way that Benoit’s as tall as I am. I know that it’s common for basic statistics to be altered in the name of making the competitor more impressive, but there’s a point where it becomes a little ridiculous. Benoit at six feet is like someone on AIM saying “Hay I gt a HAWT n9n inchr 4u babee!!11!11!”.
And if that wasn’t enough, Cole’s pissing me off again. He’s got back into that habit where he calls the Three Amigos but doesn’t call the Triple Germans. What really gets me is that he calls the release after the third German like it’s the first time he’s ever seen it. Keep him for the rest of the show, but, damn, have someone else come out there and call Benoit’s matches. I’ll even take Malenko at this point.
For everyone wondering where Booker’s workrate went, Paisley got it as part of the wedding vows
Orton/Rey-Rey…you know, I think everyone had their say about this before it happened. There were some people who were actually holding out hope against hope that they wouldn’t go through with this. There’s a word for those people: morons. Of course they’d go through with it. You see, when Vince thinks he’s doing the right thing, it’s full steam ahead and consequences be damned, and let there be no dissenting voice. Hey, Stalin felt that he was doing the right thing by trusting Hitler to keep his word, and ruining the Royal Rumble forever is a smaller price to pay for one’s obstinacy than ten million dead. Of course, the murder of the Royal Rumble, to wrestling fans, is the Siege of Leningrad writ small, so it’s no wonder why people have been upset ever since these plans leaked.
What I just tried to do was kill a little of the hyperbole that’s been unleashed on this event, and probably failed miserably. The fact is that when the book comes to be written, by either Scooter or Reynolds, of how WWE killed itself, this will be one of the seminal events. It’s a lethal, noxious combination that Vince has cooked up. First, don’t alter the booking when Batista got hurt. There’s a plan, let’s stick with it, only with Angle instead of Batista. Second, use Eddy’s memory in a disgraceful fashion by having his name brought up at least five times an hour on Smackdown, have matches dedicated to him, and have Orton get cheap heel heat by desecrating said memories. Third, have Rey-Rey win the Royal Rumble as a feel-good moment for the audience, at the same time deemphasizing its importance by having the two title matches take place after the Rumble match. Fourth, have this match at this inconsequential piece-of-shit PPV to maintain that booking status quo, and in the process force-feed Orton to the audience yet again and do more violent damage to Eddy’s memory.
The charges have been floating around that Vince doesn’t listen to the audience anymore. The fact is that this has gone beyond listening to the audience. This is actively ignoring them and committing acts of first-degree booking and angle advancement that consciously goes against the audience’s wishes. It’s like Vince is trying to prove that the audience will watch anything they’re fed. It’s no coincidence that this is happening right after the return to USA and the two-year extension of Smackdown. Vince now has secure TV slots, and he knows his ratings for Raw bottom out at about a 3.
You know, folks, it’s one thing for me to say that you’re sheep. It’s another thing for Vince to tell you you’re sheep and set out to prove it.
So much symbolism, so little time
And our finale is what is undoubtedly going to be the most overrated match since Flex/Wife-Beater at the aforementioned Wrestlemania 17. Everyone is spooging over Angle/UT like there’s no tomorrow. Milord loved it. Big Johnson, following his master’s lead, loved it. The Wadester gave it four and a half snowflakes. What planet are they currently inhabiting? Four words, alleged gentlemen: thirty-minute Undertaker match. Kurt’s great, but even he’s not great enough to totally disguise restholds as intense mat wrestling. This sucker dragged. Nobody can carry UT for that long in a match. Not Angle, not Benoit, not Kawada, not even A. J. Fuckin’ Styles. Add to that the rare overacting job by Nick Patrick, who knows better than to do something like that. Since we’re dealing with UT here, we have to also bring up his no-selling. Angle worked on that left leg and ankle for about ten minutes straight during this match (this was the first extended AngleLock sequence; in fact, half of this match was essentially the AngleLock, and there’s a point where it ceases to be psychology and slips into ridiculity). How long did it take UT to start no-selling it? Two minutes. I timed it. Angle also did his fair share of no-selling, but he covered it up better. The Spanish Announce Table did a better job of selling than either guy. At least it stayed disassembled after that cliche spot was used. The Tombstone-Reversal-Reversal-AngleLock sequence wasn’t cute, it was f*cking goofy. Yes, it was a good match, certainly UT’s best in years. Yes, they’ve wanted to work together for a while now, so they cranked it up a notch. But it wasn’t the cat’s ass and all that.
Let’s just look at something that everyone seems to ignore: the booking. Angle had to win that match. Even “creative” knows what a disaster another UT/Orton match at Wrestlemania would be. That only left one question: would it be clean? Everyone assumed that it wouldn’t, that there’d be a Mark Henry run-in. I got a little cutesy and said there’d be an Orton run-in. The fact that Angle won clean, with no interference whatsoever, made such an intense impression that the match’s quality level was jacked to the stratosphere and all its inherent weaknesses were covered up. Man, I have seen this happen way too many f*ckin’ times with matches like these. The imbeciles who populate the IWC are so easily impressed that it’s a major factor on why I consider the bunch of you idiots. The sad part is, I think I could excuse it if it was groupthink. No, it’s the fact that most wrestling commentators don’t have the ability to think at all. There’s no sense of discernment on how to judge something like this. “Oooh, the ending was TEH KEWLIES!” seems to drive everything else out.
Maybe it’s just me. As someone who’s been refining quality analysis techniques in my brain for eighteen years now, maybe I’ve got an advantage in situations like this. Maybe I’m alone in being able to see the big picture as well as the details, and maybe it infuriates you that I can do that. Well, tough shit. If you’re offended, I couldn’t give a damn, because I am superior to you in this area, and you need to admit it. So how about watching that match again and paying attention to the whole f*cking thing instead of just concentrating on the ending and getting off on the fact that UT lost cleanly for the first time this century?
Here’s a test: substitute Trip for UT in this match. Would you praise it as much? Thought not.
Fifteen years, and still a show-off
Again, we have another PPV that really wasn’t worth it. The common opinion seems to be that the main was so great that the whole show was worth it. You know what, folks? I disproved that bullshit in a column five years ago. So f*ck them and listen to me for a change, will you?
ANY OTHER NEWS?
Sadly, no. There is the weird item about Christopher Daniels having knee surgery this week, but he’s not going to miss any of his events and will be fully recovered for the Ultimate X Match. To that, I say, “Huh?”
Oh, the weirdness is too much. Might as well take the final dose and kill myself…
THE SHORT FORM
Candice Michelle over (in order of elimination) the Ten-Buck Tramp, Victoria, Maria Kanelis, Ashley Massaro, and MickieLexis LaJames, Women’s Number One Contender Battle Royal: Okay, I’m sure everyone was expecting LaJames to win this to set up the WM match between her and Trish. At least I did. Of course, Candice is going to be on the current cover of Playboy during Wrestlemania, so that, naturally, overrides the build-up to any feud. I can’t believe I’m missing Christy Hemme that much.
Edge over Jim Duggan, Message To Mick Match (Pinfall, spear): Duggan wore a supporting undergarment this week, thus preventing us from a repeat of that mentally-scarring flopping of two weeks ago. Thank God for small favors. Of course, he was going to be taking a nut shot with the 2X4 after the match, so he may have done that just to take some precautions. Of course, this match was only done to set up the announcement everyone knew was coming for weeks: Edge/Foley at WM. Yippie. Thrills the f*ck out of me, folks.
Kane over Chris Masters (Pinfall, big boot): The rematch the entire world demanded. Too bad I just used “Yippie” above. I really needed it for this one. Thirty-five minutes including commercials. Three matches. Zero interest. There has to be some limit to which apathy can be compressed, some kind of Non-Event Horizon that can’t be crossed. They’re really testing the laws of Physics tonight. And it’s another opportunity blown away. If Masters had done nothing during the apres, then we could have said that this might be the beginning of his much-demanded depush. But, no. Let us simply weep.
Slick Rick’s made a connection that we all wish he hadn’t:
I wonder if Gym Bunny realizes his entrance is basically the same as Goldberg’s was…. Same Pyro, similar anthemic music…
Only without the nifty little chants that made a Goldberg entrance into a near-religious experience. That’s the difference, and it’s a critical one.
Shelton Benjamin over Ric Flair, Intercontinental Title Match (Pinfall, T-bone suplex, New Intercontinental Champion): Hmmmm, for some reason, that apathy seems to have disappeared. I wonder why? Yes, we came into this match with high expectations and a sense of inevitability (Flair tragically suffered from the Intercontinental Curse, namely not being able to do anything with the belt since he won it, and it was time to get it away from him). However, the expectations were lived up to courtesy of quite a good match, and the belt was lost in a way that Ric would certainly have approved of. An oxygen tank may be the most interesting international object that’s ever cost him a title match. It’s also the final proof we needed that Mamma is working. Wouldn’t it be a kick if it was Mamma who lifted the Intercontinental Curse once and for all, enabling Benjy to accomplish what he wasn’t allowed to do the first time he had it?
I’m going to say it again: sign Thea Vidale long-term and make her commissioner of Raw. It needs to be done post-haste, or at least before the Draft. Can you imagine the banter with Teddy during the draft period? It’d be worth it just for that.
Shawn Michaels over Ken Doane, Nick Nemeth, Johnny Jeter, and “Mikey” (Mizanin? I don’t remember what he looks like.), That’s The Way To Give Kids The Rub Handicrap Match (DQ, gang bang): Okay, when did they rehire Jannetty? His court case must be over and his court-ordered rehab finished. However, everything worked here. The boys got a good way to display the skills that they’ve shown down in OVW, and, believe me, Heyman has nothing to be ashamed of, even with this crappy gimmick they’ve been stuck with. Good job by all of them, and Michaels was quite generous in his particular rub-giving. Once the Spirit Squad stuff escapes Vince’s attention, they should stick around. So should Jannetty this time, provided he stays away from the booze and the desire to be a certain Texan. The object lesson here is that if you drink and beat women, and you’re not a member of the upper card, you get to join the Kiss My Ass Club.
(Instead of the Kiss My Ass Club, Slick Rick recommended that the condition for Jannetty’s contract should have been that he had to have beaten Michaels. The flaw I see in that is that Michaels could and would lay down for Jannetty and Jannetty would cooperate, just to piss Vince off. But it would have been funny to have seen that.)
Carly Colon over Nick Burke (Pinfall, spinning neckbreaker): Sorry, I was busy typing in the Spirit Squad match and missed this. I even had to look up who Carly faced and how he beat him. Like it matters. The match was only there to provide an excuse to get Money In The Bank going for WM. The problem, of course, is that with Carly in it, it’s going to suck, unless Carly decides that he wants to do actual wrestling moves like he’s been doing on rare and special occasions lately.
Trip over The Big Show and Rob Van Dam, Triple Threat Road To Wrestlemania Tournament Finals (Pinfall, Trip pins Van Dam, Pedigree): Okay, if you didn’t see this coming, turn in your membership card and delete the browser shortcut now. Since I and everyone watching knew the ending, I started thinking about other things in this match. In this one, you had Van Dam and his foot-based offense, Trip and his knee-based offense, and TBS and his hand-based offense. If you put them in a blender, you might end up with a complete wrestler. Or a very tasty treat that’s probably better for you than the Simon System.
KC Evers (no relation) can see the future:
How the Chicago crowd reacts to Cena Vs Helmsley could become very pivotal. And if the NJ crowd’s any indication, it ain’t gonna be pretty.
Oh, we’re worse than the Joisey crowd. There’s going to be a severe turn in the audience unless there are too many females present, in which case all bets are off because they’re going to cheer for Cena and we men will be on our best behavior out of fear of not getting any. But that’s the way it always works, right?
Fires Lit: Did TBS actually cut a promo that was intense without making him ridiculous? What’s going on here lately? High-Quality Speaker Boy showing fire as he’s pushed further down the card, UT putting on his working boots to face Angle, now TBS. One has to wonder if this is caused by drugs or lack of said.
Yeah, Big Surprise: Well, that’s another rumor that’s been confirmed with Eddy going into the Hall of Fame (and yah, boo, sucks to you to Pandich, who seems to be the only one not to know about who Da Meltz said was under consideration; Steamer, yes, but not this week). Next person on the list, by the way, is FatDust. After that, it’s pure speculation. Just in case you were keeping score at home.
That covers that. I’ll take a little rest now (all these interviews today trashed me out) and be back this weekend with the Short Form.
Tags: Raw, Smackdown, TNA, WWE