Look on the Bright Side

Howdy, all. Welcome to your new early Wednesday column – Look on the Bright Side. (No, I’m not just publishing very late, I actually got moved in our weekly schedule. (Wait – you didn’t know we had a weekly schedule? No, really, we do. (Hey, look – nested parentheses! KEWL!!!!11one))) This here is where we celebrate the good things about that wrasllin’ thing we all spend so much time watching and talking/typing about. Why was I the first person in the IWC to actually grab the gimmick of saying “I like this stuff”? Hey – got me.

So, RVD got busted for possession of Vicodin, a drug I highly recommend (and for which he may have had a prescription – it’s unclear), and marijuana (umm, yeah – since I’m fairly certain Rob doesn’t have cancer, there’s probably no prescription). And then… the IWC lost its frickin’ mind. “ECW is screwed! Ahh! The sky is falling! Cats and dogs, living together – mass hysteria!” Before the power went out in my house (again – fourth time this week), I even posted in the forums about it — once to say “That doesn’t make any sense – why did they go west?” (which still hasn’t been answered), and then again to say “Damn, that sucks”. But really, considering the number of “smoking” references that RVD has slipped into his promos in the last couple of weeks on ECW, it does strike me as a bit hypocritical on anyone and everyone’s part to actually have the temerity to act surprised (“A tiger? In Africa?”) by this.

Eric already covered most of my opinions on the subject in his last column. (Of course, he was wrong about who RVD was going to job the title to, but I blame that on whatever drugs Eric happened to be on at the time he wrote the column.) (Ha – I kill me.) And I also disagree with Eric’s theory on Sabu – he ain’t goin’ nowhere – unless he has to do jail time.

And honestly – everybody who expected GRUT to be the voice of reason in this discussion, please raise your hand.

The People’s Front

Jeremy Henderson writes in to defend(?) the honor(?) of his hometown baseball team:
Yes, your Phillies may hold the record for worst baseball team over a century old, but goddammit, the Devil Rays are bound and determined to knock you off your pedestal. 7 last place finishes in 8 years! 2 seasons of 100+ losses! And to top it off, only once have they cracked the 70 win threshold!

Yes, Jeremy, I consider mentioning the Devil Rays in my baseball rant last week, but they seemed much too like the proverbial “fish in the barrel”. Besides, it just seemed almost too cruel to even mention them, given the fact that the other Florida team has been around for just five years longer, and has managed to win two World Series. (One more, I might point out, than the Phillies have won in 115 years of existence. Yes, I’m going to continue to beat this deceased equine.) Of course, considering the fact that your football team was responsible for derailing the Eagles’ best chance at a Super Bowl win a few years ago, I have no idea why I’m feeling so considerate.

Reader (and my co-worker) Andrew Lee writes:
JBL was awesome on the little bit of commentary I saw last week. He really has stepped up in an extraordinary way and I’m amazed at his ability to sell the psychology. Here I was, considering him a guilty pleasure for years based entirely on his lariat.

Well, the lariat is nice – but I enjoyed it much more in his days in the APA than as JBL. But, when I am favorably comparing his commentary, in terms of match psychology and wrestling knowledge, to Joey and Tazz – the man is definitely doing something right. (More on JBL in the Smackdown section below.)

Around the Pulse

So, in his recent (excellent, as usual) TNA at Ringside column, Jeremy Lambert was answering a whole bunch of hate mail of the “If you hate TNA so much stop writing about it” variety (which is amusing to me for two reasons: 1) he’s not even close to the most negative TNA recapper we have, and 2) personally, I haven’t gotten a single piece of hate mail in my 4 months of writing for IP). He brings up the fact that I’ve dropped TNA from this column. Quoth him:

Even Steve stopped recapping TNA (after giving it little time) because he felt they were shooting themselves in the foot (his words, not mine).

Alright – so, at my first read-through, I was kind of annoyed at that. It seemed to imply that 1) I didn’t give TNA nearly enough time in this column to prove itself, and 2) my attitude towards TNA was harshly negative. But then I took a couple of deep breaths (advice that could be given to 99% of the IWC, btw), and realized that – well, yeah, he had some valid points. But nonetheless: yes, I only gave it a couple of months in order to “prove” itself. But really, it doesn’t take much longer than that to see a pattern form, and I really didn’t like the one I saw forming here. I now have 5 hours of wrestling to watch and comment on each week, and I saw no reason to expand that to 6 hours, when I truly was not enjoying that 6th new hour. Honestly, I was having serious trouble finding 5 good things to comment on each week – the show is just terribly formulaic (mostly because of the limitations of one hour, and the Orlando crowd). And I simply refuse to autotext in “The X-Division match was really good this week” and “Samoa Joe is still truly awesome” in every single column.

Meanwhile, Michaelangelo is having a survey in the forums for The Funniest Movie of Our Generation. I cannot tell you how great an idea I think this is. Please – vote early, vote often. (Although I am seriously considering stabbing McCullar in the face for pitting This is Spinal Tap and Monty Python’s Holy Grail against each other in the very first round – but, those are the hazards of a random draw.)

But I’ll set some odds now:

Wedding Crashers: 10/1 (too new)
Caddyshack: 3/1 (possibly too old, but my personal favorite – so yes, showing bias)
Anchorman: 12/1 (not everyone’s cup of tea, though I love it)
Young Frankenstein: 20/1 (but should be the favorite – damn kids)
Blazing Saddles: 20/1 (see above)
Stripes: 10/1 (probably too old)
Wayne’s World: 5/1 (more personal bias – for the Scooby Doo ending if nothing else)
Animal House: 3/1 (old, but still classic and hilarious)
Office Space: 5/1 (grown so far beyond cult status that it can’t even be called cult anymore)
Ghostbusters: 5/1 (tell me any single scene that made you laugh harder than the first time you saw the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man)
This is Spinal Tap: 5/1 (can’t give it higher odds because of the first round opponent)
Monty Python’s Holy Grail: 5/1 (honestly, I have no idea which of those last two makes it out of the first round)

If you are not currently reading this blog, you should be. C’mon – give Fingers the hits!

Iain brings the goods again in his Anti-Pulse. And yes, I am taking full claim for the fact that he seems significantly more optimistic since we had our little debate.

We’ve got two reviews up for Superman Returns, one thumbs up and one thumbs down

Get thee to the Music Zone to read gloomchen as she accuses DMX of enjoying anal sex, celebrates Vince Neil’s public relapse, and talks about cover bands, including my own personal favorite cover song of all time (bonus points for you if you can guess it).

And finally, GRUT puts out the finest piece of writing I’ve seen on this site since its launch.

The Happy Fifteen…. err, Twenty-Five (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, June 26

Just because my publishing scheduled got shifted doesn’t mean I plan on slacking off. That’s kind of the dedication I have to you – my handful – nay, dozens of readers. So, I’m still covering the strong points from last week’s showings of Raw and ECW.

1. Obviously, they cannot continue to recycle Mickie vs. Trish indefinitely, so moving Trish onto the Carlito/Nitro building feud is very smart, especially with Melina there. Plus, they can easily protect Trish in the mixed-tag team matches until she completely heals (which I don’t think she’s 100% done so far).

2. JR: “Show a little maturity and professionalism, will ya Edge?” At that exact moment, Edge spits his gum at the camera. I’m telling you, they couldn’t have planned that any better.

3. During the entrance for Val Venis and Viscera, they cut to a crowd shot of two women cheering wildly. Unfortunately, the only women they could find were obvious lesbians (I used to hang out at a lesbian karoake bar – long story, but trust me, I know of what I speak). I don’t think that did much for the lady-killer rep of either guy.

4. Okay, yes – I loved the D-X skit. HHH’s strut and Shawn’s non-stop skipping were freaking spot-on. But by far, the two best parts of the whole skit were — HBK: “I’m your son! The product of your semen! See, it says so right here on my business card”; and HHH: “Now, you know as well as I do Shane, that when you come out here and do stuff like this, I have to try and out-do you.” (And for those of you that got “offended” by the end of the skit – oh, grow up. If you were 5 years old and thought it might be real “excrement”, then okay – but otherwise? Please.)

5. Speaking of that ending: “Just because of Shawn, it is – holy shit.” Damn, but they are having fun with the D/X angle – it’s almost like Shawn’s Christianity just inspired them to be that much more original in how they spin everything.

ECW on Sci Fi, June 27

1. Joey: “Roadkill with a Dirt Road Slam. See, it can’t be a Sidewalk Slam because he’s Amish…” Tazz: “Yeah, I got it.” Ahh, understated humor in the announcers. Damn, but that’s a nice change of pace.

2. Tommy: “Thank you, Sir – may I have another?” Good throwback to ECW’s history. (But somebody please tell me why neither Joey nor Tazz decided to explain how that was the exact same line he used when getting caned by the Sandman? I mean, wouldn’t you think they’d want to try and push the “Rise and Fall of ECW” DVD, if nothing else?)

3. Knowing that the “male stripper” was a member of Creative did indeed add another level of enjoyment to the Sandman segment. I just can’t believe no one has mentioned the part where the “dancer” started stroking the Singapore cane, and Sandman spurted beer out – in an unusually homoerotic image, even for pro wrestling. Personally, I thought it was hilarious – if for no other reason than Sandman was okay with it.

4. It has to be said: the main event psychology of this show has been incredible. Unlike, say, TNA — where every match involving Jarrett, Sting, or Steiner is exactly the same — or WCW, where it was so formulaic that recappers could write up their column before the show was over — each one of these matches has told a definitive story. Here, we saw RVD trying to learn how to deal with Angle’s shooter style, and taking some time to just get used to it. RVD going for the ropes for the first few minutes every time also made sense – it was his only real option to get out of some of those holds, and he knew it. I enjoy it when wrestlers are actually allowed to appear halfway intelligent.

5. And the job that Joey and Tazz did on selling Angle’s ability to counter RVD’s offense – holy crap. Tazz even mentioned that Angle probably “watched hours and hours of tape” on his opponent, and thus was prepared for every one of RVD’s signature moves. This is how a wrestling match should flow – for God’s sake, if you go against Cena in a match, and he hits you with a shoulderblock, shouldn’t you just know, by instinct, what the next couple of moves are going to be? And really – you never prepared a counter for the F-U? How stupid are you? Ahhh – my own amateur background handicaps my ability to just sit back and enjoy on occasion.

Friday Night Smackdown

Now, we’re back to this week’s shows.

1. JBL continues to be The Man. “Gregory Helms is the best kept secret on Smackdown.” Whoa, wait – what? He just put over the cruiserweight champ? That’s the first time that’s happened on TV in… umm… ever?

2. And it continues during the Pitbulls match – two more cruiserweights, pushed (by JBL) as legitimate contenders to the tag titles (held by two other cruiserweights, who JBL spent 20 minutes putting over last week). Good God – can they just use JBL as the color man on every wrestling show on TV? This man could’ve made GLOW into must-see TV.

3. JBL: “I’m going to the World Cup this weekend, Michael!” Cole: “They’re gonna let you back into Germany?” Oh, well played, Mr. Cole.

4. So, how can you tell which young performers they are serious about pushing? Well, they make sure to only involve them in angles with selfless veterans who aren’t afraid to make the youngster look good when needed. Hence, Lashley’s segregated involvement with Booker, Regal, and Finlay. Please notice that he hasn’t come anywhere near Henry, Undertaker, Khali… or even close to a convoluted storyline like the one surrounding Rey Mysterio.

5. I’m not sure on my opinion concerning The Miz yet. On one hand, he throws out lines like: “Don’t even get me started on what’s going on underneath this ring.” On the other hand, he wears a suit jacket, t-shirt, and hooded sweatshirt. I mean, really – if you saw someone dressed like that at your local bar, wouldn’t you feel the never-ending desire to punch him dead in the face, just out of principle?

6. Vito. Believe it or not, this is actually the most enlightened angle I’ve ever seen on a wrestling show in my life. Here we have a cross-dresser – a guy that simply likes to dress in women’s clothing. But, he’s not gay – he asked out Ashley last week (and she accepted!). And he’s certainly no wuss – he’s being pushed as a legitimate tough guy in the ring. And, his opponent will occasionally (like this week) be more concerned with covering up his ass, than pressing the offense (and seriously – does whatever he’s wearing cover that much less than your typical wrestling tights? and hey – have they ever done that video distortion during an upskirt shot of a female wrestler?) AND, they are showing the ability of Vito to prey on his opponent’s prejudices, by incorporating the dress into his submission move. Seriously – that’s some genius freaking work there. Whoever is developing this storyline – my hat is off to you.

Monday Night Raw

1. Okay, Edge started on a really good promo, with the insulting of the Philadelphia sports crowd. Plus, he knew how to get the crowd really going building up through subjects that they cared progressively more and more about: the Phillies (meh), through the Eagles (hey now), through T.O. (we will rip your throat out if you keep this up, f*cker). But really, his line about Owens: “I just want to get out of this town”? Oh, that was lamely lame. Let me suggest a few better options:

– “I’m too talented for this town.”
– “I look better in my driveway than you do in your dreams.”
– “I don’t choke when the pressure is on, like your wonderboy.”
– “I choose to play for a winner, like the Cowboys.” (this might have caused a riot)

2. HHH: “Isn’t that Mr. Fuji over there?” HBK: “Ooh, I love Mr. Fuji!” (Honestly, it was the randomness of Fuji that killed me here.)

3. Matt Striker continues to be my favorite, and smartest, JTTS. Seriously – if this guy doesn’t get a major push in the next 2 years, I’m going on a five-state killing spree. (Consider yourself warned, WWE – Connecticut is less than 5 states away from Delaware.)

4. So, they do the bathroom skit with Vince, including the obligatory “piss on Coach’s pants” spot. But my personal favorite was at the very end, when they both walked out, and you heard JR say plaintatively, “Wash his hands..”

5. The Chipmunk voice effect on Vince just slayed me. (It made my wife laugh also, who was barely even watching/listening – so I know it was effective.) Screw anyone who thinks they’re above that kind of humor.

6. D-X in the truck was a genius move, if for no reason other than to give excuses to replay Melina’s entrance, and Trish running slow-mo down the ramp. C’mon, now – you’re all (well, 99% of you) guys, and you know that you enjoy this. (And half of that other 1% is lesbian anyway (Hi Penny!).)

7. Carlito’s decision to simply hang back in the corner and watch while Trish and Melina fought it out? And WWE’s ability to catch all of that in one camera angle? Somebody likes me this evening.

8. I’m fairly certain you could figure out which guys were in good standing with HHH and HBK by who they decided to screw with during the show. Armando? Yeah, they like him – the belching was amusing. I foresee plenty of good things for him and Umaga in the next few months.

ECW on Sci Fi

Ironically, I spent all of Tuesday in Pennsylvania, approximately 30 minutes away from Wachovia Center. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go watch the show – damn family responsibilities.

1. Ah, to hear a true ECW crowd again. But tell me this – why did they try to mute one of the crowd chants, but then show close-ups during others? I mean, do they really think it’s that difficult to read lips during a “Knox Sucks Cock” chant?

2. Kudos to the guy who managed to get his “Hoagie Haven” t-shirt on screen. Your employer owes you a bonus, kid. (Don’t know what a hoagie is? Obviously, you ain’t from Philly. Poseur.)

3. My favorite part of this week’s Sandman skit: the line “You’re all sinners!” got a crowd pop. Ahh, I love my hometown.

4. So, RVD walks into the dressing room, asks Big Show if he’s been challenged, and then slaps him across the face. “I accept.” Well, damn – I didn’t see that coming.

5. So, Joey tells us that Al Snow started talking to Head after having a nervous breakdown because of The New Rockers. Umm – okay. Can anyone who was watching ECW back when Head got started confirm if that’s anywhere near the truth?

6. Plenty of people are bitching about the fact that RVD can’t come out to “Walk”, and Tommy can’t come out to “Man in the Box”, and especially that Sandman can’t take 6 minutes to get to the ring while Metallica blasts through the arena. So, my question is simple: how in the FUCK was ECW able to get those songs? My personal opinion is that Paul never bothered to pay for the rights to the songs – he just played them over the speakers, and hoped that his organization was small enough that the bands/record labels/RIAA would never notice. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

6a. And hey, screw it – I’m going to go out where no one in the IWC has gone so far, and say: I like The Sandman’s new entrance music. Screw y’all.

7. Sign of the night: “RVD and Sabu are innocent”. Well, kid – not by any definition of the word that I’m familiar with.

8. “Mar-i-juana”, clap, clap, clap-clap-clap

9. I don’t know how he did this, but after the superplex from Big Show, RVD’s entire body bounced at least 8″ off the mat. And I don’t mean just his arms, or hips, or whatever – everything. He looked like a Superball.

10. The ending of this show was freaking AWESOME. Quite simply, they have to suspend RVD – their own drug policy requires it. (I don’t agree with the policy, but I understand the fair and consistent application once it’s been announced.) They took a potentially horrible situation, and made nothing but positives out of it – TBS is now the unstoppable monster heel champ, so everyone on the roster can take a shot at him; Paul E. now has a character that is 1000% more interesting than it has been for the past month; they can explain RVD’s suspension (even with a “lack of explanation”, with Paul’s heel turn); and they got the strongest reaction out of a live crowd that anyone has seen in nearly 10 years. Combine this with the fact that someone in the crowd was able to nail Paul E. directly in the side of his face right on camera with a launched beverage – and it’s practically ideal.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed the column. See you next Wednesday.