Welcome one, welcome all. I’ve got a plethora of news for you this week, so lets jump right in.
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== WWE NOTEBOOK ==
– The current plan is to have Edge defeat Rob Van Dam at Vengeance and then defend it against Cena throughout the summer leading up to a Summerslam match. Triple H will work with Randy Orton, and Michaels will eventually work a program with Harry Smith. The only issue with the Hunter/Orton program is that Orton is starting to get big cheers, and a crowd split could hurt Hunter’s role as top babyface on the program. The belief is that Hunter has spent so many years as an effective heel that a split program could turn him heel quickly, and he wants to have a good long run as a babyface.
– Speaking of Randy Orton: after he dislocated his shoulder on Tuesday night during the ECW show, Orton rolled out of the ring and popped it back in place by himself. Just like that, my respect level for Randy Orton increased about 500%, because I know how painful it is to have a dislocated shoulder fixed, but to do it yourself, and without the aid of painkillers (thanks, WWE Wellness!)? Someone give that dude a medal for not only fixing himself, but continuing the match in a great deal of pain and with one arm hanging.
– The original idea for the debut ECW show was not The Zombie, it was an alien character. Sci-Fi balked at that one, probably because a large percentage of their fanbase would likely have relations with an alien character if given the choice and would revolt against the angle. That’s assuming, of course, that Sci-Fi fans were actually tuned into the ECW show to begin with. They weren’t.
– Former Smackdown writer Dave Lagana’s recent move to ECW wasn’t considered a demotion in any way, and in fact Lagana probably recieved a substantial raise out of the deal. The belief within the company is that he was sent to ECW to keep an eye on Paul Heyman, and to eventually take over when Heyman is replaced. The assistant ECW writer slot was initially reserved for Ed Koskey, but Koskey knew why he was being sent and declined the offer. The workers don’t like Lagana because he is viewed as a stooge, and in fact he got the Smackdown head writer job because he did exactly what he’s going to be doing for ECW: keeping an eye on Paul and being ready to replace him when they finally drop the hammer.
– The average ECW viewer last week was 32.3 years old, while the average Sci-Fi viewer is 48 years old. I guess, in a roundabout way, you could call that bringing in the younger viewers.
– Goldust no-showed three house shows, and then failed to show up at Raw on June 12 without informing management first. He had a court date regarding his second ex-wife and visitation rights with his kid. Dustin was originally cut from TNA because of an incident with this same ex-wife, so he’s probably lucky that he’s putting it behind him for good.
– Kurt Angle is still upset with the office for moving him to Smackdown, but he’s continuing to be a team player and is said to be trying as hard as he can to make it work.
– After a rough start, Greg Gagne is starting to win the OVW roster over. At first, there was some concern with Gagne’s “vision” for the promotion since he hasn’t really watched wrestling since working with the AWA. Gagne is writing the scripts along with Danny Davis and Al Snow. Funny story: they had a script written early last week for the Wednesday night taping, and then Paul Heyman faxed in a completely different script on late Wednesday afternoon. Heyman has explicitly been told by the front office to stop writing OVW and to concentrate solely on ECW. If I were Vince, I’d have him write both OVW and ECW so I could blame him for both promotions tanking.
– Many of the ECW workers have privately said that they’re completely miserable and having flashbacks to the WCECW Alliance. Nobody really knew what they were getting into when they signed on to the WWE version of ECW, and it’s starting to dawn on them that it’s not really ECW at all, but rather just another version of Raw or Smackdown. Well, they could always get out of their deal and go back to working at Burger King in between indie dates that pay $100 per show.
– Stacy Keibler is working on a sitcom for ABC. Her WWE deal expires next month and she isn’t going to resign. Because of her performances on Dancing With The Stars, she’s been talked about as one of the only people from wrestling who could become a bigger star as an actress than she was in wrestling. Good for her, I say. She’s one of those rare ones that I’d much rather see away from the wrestling business. The Rock, however, needs to come back.
– See No Evil is at $14,786,045 after 32 days in theatres and is currently showing on 293 screens. Nacho Libre finished with $31,919,908 to place second on its debut weekend. It’s also a fantastic movie (Nacho Libre, that is) and anyone who tells you otherwise has no laughter in their heart.
– Vito has been wearing his dress through airports and on the road to stay in character. Now THAT, my friends, is dedication to your craft. Either that, or the company realized it needed someone to act like a total fruitcake on the road now that Orlando Jordan is gone.
– Batista wrestled in Portland on June 17. He’s said to have lost about 15-20 pounds of muscle weight, which would make him a lot smaller than you remember him being (thanks, WWE Wellness!).
– The DX reunion tour is still expected to be short-lived, despite getting massive reactions and doing huge numbers in terms of merchandise. People within the company recognize that it won’t work on a longer basis because once the nostalgia wears off, it’s going to get really old watching 40 year old men pretending to be 15 really quickly. Shawn Michaels also isn’t too keen on it because of his religious beliefs, but agreed to do it for a few months before heading off to have knee surgery.
– Chris Masters was taken off television and the road to handle personal substance abuse issues. How much you want to bet that Masters loses a ton of muscle weight while undergoing treatment for his issues (thanks, WWE Wellness!)?
– Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon have offices next to each other, but they’re said to be cordial. Heyman knows that people are just waiting for him to slip up so they can demote him, so he’s remaining calm and friendly on the surface. Word is that he doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Jim Cornette, who was so outspoken that he instantly pissed off everyone he worked with and talked himself out of a job. Actually, that’s happened a few times to Cornette, and you’d think he’d have learned by now. Personally, I think TNA needs to hand him the book IMMEDIATELY. It’s asinine to pay one of the best booking minds in the history of the business to simply act as an on-air personality.
– John Cena’s new movie The Marine will open nationwide on October 13. In other news, Cena says his favorite meal on the road is McDonalds. That’s gross. Expect to see Cena pushed as a big crossover star until his movie comes out. It’ll be a lot easier to push him as a celebrity than Glen Jacobs was, at least. Internally, the company expects Cena’s movie to do amazing numbers at the box office due to all the kids and women who will no doubt pay to see the flick. They need to remember that Cena’s core market right now is about 14 years old and female and get a rating that will allow that market to see the movie.
– The Tarot Card Reader chick was Shelley Martinez from OVW.
== TNA NOTEBOOK ==
– Internally, the company realizes that this weeks edition of Impact is the most important one they’ve had since the first few weeks after the show debuted on Spike. They’ve been operating with a strong lead-in from The Ultimate Fighter, and despite managing to lose most of that audience every time, they’ve managed to score decent ratings. This week, however, they won’t have the TUF lead-in and thus will get a better picture of how many people are actually following the show.
– The company is expected to announce soon that they’ll be taking at least two PPV’s this year somewhere other than Orlando.
– They weren’t happy with the snafu that resulted in the finish of the PPV main event being leaked onto SpikeTV.com. There was some thought that it might have been planned to pique interest in the show, and even if that doesn’t make any sense, it’s good to see that they’re not trying to work the small internet fanbase.
FIVE THINGS I THINK I THINK
1. I think that as much as I’ve criticized Sabu over the past few weeks in this column, he should be lauded for recovering from his initial blown WWE spot and becoming one of the most solid characters they’ve introduced since starting the ECW angle. I’m not saying that he’s not a good wrestler by any stretch of the imagination, and some of the credit should go to John Cena here, but Sabu has really delivered in this angle and has probably done more to credibly advance the new ECW concept than anyone else has thus far. He’s nailed all his big spots and even recovered a few spots that I thought were going to end horribly; when he lept to the top rope and nearly fell this past week on Raw, I cringed…but then he BALANCED on the rope for 2-3 seconds before completing his jump through the table outside. Have you ever seen anyone just stand on the top rope for longer than a split-second? Of course not. I didn’t think it could be done, but dude did it. I wonder how long he’ll be doing it, however, when Undertaker realizes that Sabu is totally making his Old School move look week in comparison?
2. I think that calling TNA’s 4th anniversary a “landmark” event is grossly overstating TNA’s importance in the wrestling world. Let’s face the facts here, okay? The fact is that if TNA hadn’t found Panda Energy (a money mark in the truest sense of the word), they would have been dead within a year. Staying alive because a corporation is willing to throw money down the drain because they like pro wrestling doesn’t equal a landmark event; it just means you’ve managed to sucker a company into keeping you alive. TNA isn’t alive because of Jeff Jarrett’s blood and sweat; it’s alive because Dixie Carter has a soft spot for wrestling and doesn’t care about losing money. TNA, at this point, is a total non-entity in the wrestling world, and you can be sure that Vince McMahon doesn’t care whit or whim about the company. Christian’s defection isn’t looked upon as a big deal or even something they care about; for TNA to totally take WWE by surprise, they’d have to sign away a top star that WWE is featuring right now, like Edge or even The Rock. Since neither of those things will ever happen, they need to worry solely about building new stars (like Samoa Joe) and not worry about overtaking WWE.
3. I think that King Booker and his Royal Court (Finlay, Regal and Little Bastard) is one of the best things I’ve seen in wrestling in the past five years. I could watch Booker and his smarmy facial expressions all day long, and Finlay and Regal are just the kind of old-school tag team that could cause someone to actually WANT to watch Smackdown for a change.
4. I think that I can’t wait for The Highlanders to debut on WWE television. Those guys are freaking hilarious. Sure, they might be Bushwhackers 2k6, but I loved the Bushwhackers when I was a kid.
5. I think it’s amazing that the WWE Wellness program actually seems to be a legitimate ruleset. Chris Masters was taken off the road for his (alleged) steroid problem, and now Batista will return to Smackdown having lost about 15-20 pounds of muscle mass. Triple H no longer looks like a monster, but instead looks like he might have eaten that monster for dinner last night. With the exception of Joey Mercury, the program seems to only be affecting muscleheads, but that’ll change. In the long run, I’ve got high hopes that this Wellness program will stick around and keep guys from getting addicted to stuff like Somas, painkillers and other narcotics. The other side of the story is that WWE needs to do the right thing; wrestlers have always gotten addicted to narcotics because of the stress of the road and the punishment they endure on a nightly basis for most of the year, so WWE needs to start giving them time off to make up for it. Every few months, let a guy take a week or two off the road to heal up and rejuvenate. It’s not easy to work it into storylines, and it’ll do wonders for morale. There’s never going to be anything like a union looking out for the workers, so they need to take care of the guys that bring in the money that allows them to be such a huge business.
Tags: TNA, WWE