Look on the Bright Side

Good morning/afternoon/evening/whatever y’all. (I’m like the Caveman Lawyer: I’m just a simple writer, and the complicated publishing schedule here at InsidePulse confuses me.) But here is where you can find an article on pro wrestling written by somebody that.. *gasp*.. actually likes pro wrestling, and admits to it. Publicly! What the hell is wrong with me? Hey, read on and find out.

So, the new ECW TV show debuted on the SciFi channel this past Tuesday. You might have heard about it. In fact, I got an email from fellow IP writer, and author of the excellent TNA at Ringside, Jeremy Lambert:

If you can find one bright spot about the debut of ECW on Sci Fi, you’re my hero because that show was just god-awful to me. If anyone can do it though, it’s you.

Well, first off, Jeremy – thanks. It’s always good to get positive feedback from your peers. And BTW, Jeremy’s preview of last night’s TNA PPV was freaking awesome. Too bad they (apparently) didn’t live up to it.

Now then: to address Jeremy’s point — there’s been no end to the various opinions thrown out on the IWC about the ECW TV show: almost all of it negative. Even the forums here at IP have gotten in on the act. And I have just one thing to say to all of those people:

Yeah, you’re right. It sucked.

But WAIT! Yes, that TV show sucked. But please consider this: the comeback of the ECW has encompassed a few different phases: everything from Foley and Heyman’s promos on Raw, through the Cena/RVD signing, through the WWE vs ECW show, through the One Night Stand Part Deux PPV, and then into the ECW TV show. So, altogether, we’re talking about approximately 8 hours of television. And out of those 8 hours, about 45 minutes of it was truly lame. It just so happens that 95% of those 45 minutes appeared on one show. And because of that – you’re all willing to declare the ECW rebirth a failure? Were you not paying attention to the previous 7 hours of programming? Are you really all such lemmings that you will following the common IWC outlook over any cliff that presents itself in front of you, no matter how many alternate routes there are around it?

C’mon, people – get real. It’s ONE SHOW. Out of a 12 week run. Hell, even Paul Heyman and Vince himself recognized that the show was lame. Do you think Vince is going to keep throwing money after a crap product? Do you think Paul will allow himself to have his name attached to a show that disappoints the entire IWC? If there’s any person involved in the Creative side of the pro wrestling business that reads anything on the Internet, I would imagine it would be Paul. Or his people. (Hi Paul! Email me!)

Around the Pulse

Another IP writer, Jeremy Botter, (don’t we have a quota on Jeremy’s around here?) just went off on the crowd at the ECW PPV in last week’s Botterm Dollar (it’s the first item in “Five Things I Think I Think”). (Incidentally, he was echoed by the opinion of Penny in the Monday Night Rabble.) Here’s his basic opinion:

I know for a fact that this crowd wasn’t at all representative of the old-school ECW crowds. How? Because these people were complete and total marks. If you put the six-man tag match in front of the old ECW crowd in 1997 or so, they would have crapped all over it. This crowd ate it up with a spoon because they figured that’s what an ECW crowd was supposed to do, and they ended up looking foolish. I mean, telling John Cena he does the same old stuff in every match while cheering Rob Van Dam? And going ballistic when they pulled the worst finish ever in the main event? This wasn’t an ECW crowd; it was a group of marks trying to pull off their best impression of the real ECW fanbase. They were funny, but in a sad kinda way.

Well, now. Where to start? Actually, Jeremy and I have had a reasonable, rational discussion on this concept. And, because it was reasonable and rational, it would bore the living hell out of you all. So, I’ll just throw out here the points that I have to make, and he can decide if he wants to address them in his next column. (Oh, wait – is that not how we’re supposed to do that in the IWC? What, I’m supposed to be overly confrontational, even if I don’t feel it myself? Oh fine – umm, bring it on.. umm, bee-yatch)

Okay, here’s my simple point: the “old school” ECW went absolutely berserk over the Sandman, and the Pitbulls, and 911. For proof: I simply point you to the first extras match on “The Rise and Fall of ECW” DVD, which was the Pitbulls vs. Raven and Stevie Richards (incidentally, the only ECW match to be given 5 stars by Scott Keith). Now, shouldn’t a “true ECW” audience have “crapped all over” the wrestler known as 911? I mean, the guy could do one move: a chokeslam. Ooooohhh – impressive. Sandman knew how to give someone a Russian leg sweep with a Singapore cane. Balls Mahoney could give and take a good chair shot. And yet they were all cheered by the ECW faithful, because they “proved their worth”, I guess.

Is it hypocritical for the fans to chant “same old shit” to Cena when he’s in a match with RVD, and on the same card with Balls and Sandman? Well, yes. But here’s the thing: yes, this crowd is hypocritical. And the “old-school ECW crowds” were the exact same way. Yes, they were one of the first North American audiences to show true appreciation for the technical wrestling being put on by Malenko, Benoit, and Eddie — but they also cheered for New Jack, for chrissake. Cena has, for some reason unknown to me, become this audience’s most hated enemy, and they were NEVER going to cheer for him. Hey, look at it this way – at least he was able to get a strong reaction (and all of the post-show reports are saying he really enjoyed it – so good for him).

Speaking of said Master of Thuganomics:

The People’s Front

So, last week I asked:

There have been dozens of somewhat boring babyface champs that pandered to the crowd and didn’t have a great wrestling repertoire, but none of them ever got the reception Cena has at Wrestlemania and again last night [at One Night Stand]. But — why Cena? Why now?

Well, no shortage of reactions this week. Let’s get to the best of them:

Lance Ferguson writes:
Great point on Cena. He’s done all that has been asked of him.. model citizen… seemingly beloved in the locker room.. yet we all hate him… doesn’t make sense. However, I do believe they booked him too strong last night and made RVD look very very weak… hopefully RAW will clear up some things. anyway, great reading your column.

Greg Smith opines on a similar vein:
The main gripe I would have against Cena is that the bookers want to make it look like Cena can never lose a match unless he gets shafted somehow. He lost the title to Edge cause he was too fatigued to compete right after a six man E-Chamber match. RVD needed a screwjob to beat him at an ECW PPV. He won at Saturday Night’s Main Event when the match turned into a 3 on 1 affair……AFTER he got Pedigreed. Why can’t he just lose a match with no trick-uh-ray-shun involved?

This was a common point amongst most of the email I received: he’s simply been booked as a near-superman, and people are sick of it. I can understand that: it’s one thing to push The Big Show or The Great Khali as monsters, since being over seven feet tall automatically puts you in that category. But a six-foot-tall white guy with a crewcut? Eh.

Craig McNicoll gives me an opinion I hadn’t seen before:
I think the ECW crowd really resents the faux gangsta image that Cena is trying to put forth. Back when he was heelish and doing the cool raps, the ECW fans might have loved him but now when he’s mostly a caricature of that the ECW fans think it’s lame and boo mercilessly. Think about it, they’ve had real gangstas wrestling in ECW in the past and the ECW fans loved it. Why would they cheer a fake one?

Well, that’s certainly a different idea. Yes, it’s possible that people have hated his “wigger” character since well before he became Champ. And ECW certainly has had its fair share of ex-cons and legit bad-asses. But that still doesn’t explain why the WWE smark crowds turned on him so strongly in the months leading up to Wrestlemania.

The Most Beautiful Game

Apparently, there was a World Cup game this weekend involving the U.S. And apparently, we got screwed. Yeah, whatever – we won’t win, we’ll never win, and I’ll never care if there’s anything more compelling on TV. And sadly, I’m more interested than 90% of the country. Suck it, Europe.

But there was a sporting event I couldn’t tear my eyes off of: the U.S. Open. I freakin’ *heart* the Open. Why? Because I’m a fanatical golfer with an 18 handicap (which means I normally shoot around 90), and I like to see the best golfers in the world suffer like the rest of us. Now, there was an amusing point in mid-day Saturday when Kenneth Ferrie said that a 15-handicap “couldn’t break 130″ on this course. Hey, I have news for you, Sunshine: I’ve shot 126 before (about 5 years ago), and I know how badly you have to shoot to get to that level. And believe me, even the worst 15-handicap in the world would figure out *AFTER THE FIRST FREAKING HOLE* that dialing back, and hitting 3-wood/5-wood/hybrid off the tee would be a smart concept most of the time. Believe me, most of these guys would rather be 220 out in the fairway, than 260 in the 3rd (5.5”) cut, or 280 in the trees. Hell, I’ve just started to work on my distance: and I realize that the holes that present themselves for a 280 yard drive are well out-numbered by the holes that penalize you for slightly hooking your tee shot. You would think that a guy who’s been in this game for 20 years, like Phil Mickelson, would have picked up on this before me, a hacker who just wants to break 90 more often than not.

So, you’ve heard of Jean Van de Velde, right? Well, guess what folks: Phil has to enter that same level of “choking” as good ole Jean did. You are in the final round of a major, your own country’s major, with a two stroke lead with two holes to go: and you lose? Outright? You don’t even make a playoff? Oh my God. Johnny Miller dreams for this kind of situation: where he gets to rip on an excellent golfer for making truly stupid course-management decisions.

Now, here’s the thing about course management: this is a skill that is available to every single golfer on the planet. I mean, you can be a 36-handicapper (the highest allowed to a male golfer by USGA rules), and still know how to manage a golf course. It’s just that knowing what you want to hit, and being able to hit it, are two completely different skills. But, when you are expected to know where your ball is going when you hit it? And you still pull truly stupid, needless, reckless shots — DURING A MAJOR? Yeah – you’re an idiot.

I’m sorry – I haven’t even thrown in the winner’s name here. Congrats to Geoff Ogilvy, a young Australian with a strong overall game that several people have mentioned as a good up-and-coming golfer. But like Johnny said: this tournament will be remembered not for who won it, but for the number of golfers who threw it away.

And hey, I’m saying it right here: shame on them. You guys choked.

Pimptastic

Please welcome Theodore VanHouten IV to InsidePulse. Ted starts us with an insight into one of my favorite wrestlers from back in the day (Georgia Wrestling back in the early 80’s), Jake the Snake.

GRUT brings us the news like only he can.

Iain makes a strong case in favor of Cena, discusses the relevance of TNA, gives us a pic from Ric Flair’s wedding, talks about ECW, and spills rum on his pants. I mean, “trousers” – sorry.

Shameless self-promotion: go read my recap of The Soprano’s half-season finale.

Tom Pandich reviews Nacho.

Daniels agrees with me on soccer.

Gloomchen talks about overlooked bands. And she mentions Rush – my first concert ever was to go see them, back in 1984 (back when they were semi-relevant).

The Happy Fifteen (or so)

Love the concept? Hate it? Think I missed something important from last week? See something this week that you think should be here? Email me by Sunday evening.

Monday Night Raw

1. Whatever opinion you may have about how the RVD/Cena match ended at ONS, at least they handled the aftermath correctly and logically: it was ECW Rules, so RVD has the title. Done, end of story. No Dusty finish, no title hold up, no three-way dance for a vacant title at Vengeance – nothing. Just “this is how things are – deal with it”.

2. Two gorgeous women, all white outfits, lots of water. Honestly – I’m not seeing a downside here.

3. There’s been some concern about the D/X reunion, seeing as how Shawn is born-again, and HHH is the owner’s son-in-law: these are not the first guys you’d think of “rebels”. But if they’re going to play it like they did at the Vengeance press conference, with Shawn playing the straight man and Trip going for laughs – that seems like a good choice. And if they continue to have HHH moon people on live TV? Yup, that’ll get over.

4. I’m not sure where they are going with Eugene’s character (does anyone think there’s a chance he’ll ever go over Umaga?), but Nick Dinsmore is certainly holding nothing back with this character. The look on his face when he was tied up in the ropes and Umaga spiked Hacksaw – hold crap, I actually forgot for a moment that he’s not really mentally handicapped. It was almost heart-breaking: he looked like a five year old watching his dad get beat up.

5. A month of Foley and Flair cutting promos on each other? Oh man – sign me the f*ck up. I have no idea what the eventual match is going to be like – but who cares?

TNA Impact

Sorry, but I’m not doing this section anymore. I placed a lot of faith in the organization to do two things right: put Samoa Joe over Steiner cleanly and emphatically, and put Sabin over Nash. Now, Joe won – but Steiner got in most of the offense, and practically no-sold a decent portion of Joe’s moves. And Nash actually won his match – how, exactly, is that going to help elevate the X Division guys? Honestly, I’m disgusted by this PPV – it’s WCW all over again. So, screw them – I’m not wasting any more time trying to be positive about an organization that is just all too happy to shoot themselves in the foot.

ECW

This section will be taking over for TNA. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Happy Five for this show this week. Not that there weren’t five good things to list (RVD’s “this one spins!” line, Sandman caning the Zombie, Angle’s ground-based wrestling style, Big Show’s continued monster push, Trinity’s outfit, etc.) But I have two rules for this column: 1) the points I bring up in the Happy Fifteen have to be about things that I haven’t seen discussed enough around the IWC, and 2) I don’t repeat points from previous columns. Those two rules discount anything I would have discussed here. So, we’ll start anew with tomorrow night’s show – let’s see if Paul and Vince truly did learn their lesson.

(allegedly) Friday Night Smackdown

1. Hey, Rey got a clean pinfall!

2. JBL on Matt Hardy: “He could have been the next Shawn Michaels, but instead he’s Marty Janetty.” Wow – harsh. Overall, I’m liking JBL on the mic – he draws heat like no one’s business, and he doesn’t talk down to the audience. I appreciate that.

Geez – sorry folks, but I can’t find anything decent in this show to comment on that I haven’t before. The Booker/Lashley/Regal/Finlay plotline seems interesting, I still love the Leprechaun, Gunner Scott is progressing nicely, and I’m good with Michelle McCool (you can’t have enough “Hot for Teacher” types, in my book). But there’s really nothing truly inspiring. Well, there’s certainly enough material up above. Hopefully, ECW and Smackdown will give me something to work with this week.

See you next Monday.