Look on the Bright Side

Howdy, all. Welcome to your new early Wednesday column – Look on the Bright Side. The gimmick is pretty simple: I watch a crapload of wrestling, and then point out the good stuff that happened, which may have been washed over by the flood of negativity that is the IWC. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

But first, my weekly diversion:

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

In a recent column on ESPN.com’s Page 2, Bill Simmons listed his You Tube Hall of fame – 33 videos in all. (If you have to ask “Why 33?”, then obviously you’ve never read his stuff before.) He had quite a few high quality clips in there, including the music video for Journey’s Separate Ways. In the description, he included: “If somebody gave me five minutes to sum up the ’80s, I would just show them this video and be done with it.”

However, I don’t feel that’s nearly enough. Yes, it’s definitely in the Top 5 Cheesiest Videos of All Time – but one single video really cannot capture the feel of that decade. I realize I’m significantly older than a sizeable portion of the audience here at IP, so most of you probably never had the pleasure of actually experiencing the 80’s while it was happening. But luckily, you have me.

So, for a true taste of what it was like to grow up (as a white suburban kid) during the 1980’s, please feast your eyes on the following. Enjoy.

Aldo Nova – Fantasy
Asia – Heat of the Moment
Billy Squier – Rock me Tonight
Cameo – Word Up
David Lee Roth – Yankee Rose
Dokken – Breaking the Chains
Enigma – Sadeness
GTR – When the Heart Rules the Mind
Kansas – Fight Fire with Fire
Kiss – I was Made for Loving You
MARRS – Pump Up the Volume
Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
Paul Simon – Call Me Al
Queensryche – Silent Lucidity
Rick Springfield – Jesses Girl
Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra
Styx – Mr. Roboto
The Hooters – And We Danced
The Tubes – She’s a Beauty
Tommy Tutone – Jenny (867-5309)
XTC – Dear God
Yes – Owner of a Lonely Heart

The People’s Front

Last week, I forgot to include this amusing rant from Greg Smith, in reference to my comments about Redskins fans:
I lived in the DC Metro area all my life (Maryland, to be specific), and, yes, Skins fans suck. They’re the main reason why I became a Cowboy fan. Mitch Albom from Detroit said it best: A 2-1 Redskin record is 12-1 to their fans. When they dominate teams in PRE-SEASON, they wave their ugly burgundy flags from their SUVs and scream “WHO CAN STOP US??? SUPERBOWL BOUUUUUUUUND!!!!!!”

I’ve lived in the DC area since 1995, and have been an Eagles fan all of my life. It was extremely amusing to be here between 2001-2004, when the Eagles were absolutely dominating everyone in the NFC East – simply because I could wear my number 5 jersey anywhere I wanted on Sunday (including FedEx field), and there wasn’t a Redskins fan who could say a damn thing. And you are completely correct on their over-reaction tendencies – one win means they are going to finish the season undefeated; one loss means they’ll never win a game again. And the worship of Gibbs is just extremely irritating: I actually heard a local sports talk show predict a record of 13-3 before his first season (with the infinitely amusing follow-up: “And how are we going to lose three?”). Oy.

Penny, of The Rabble fame, writes in with an attitude that seem much too prevalent:
And no, Paul E never paid for the rights. He just played what his guys asked for. No one ever complained. Frankly I don’t think the artists would care if Vince did either. Here’s the thing tho. [Vince] won’t pay it. Not because he’s cheap, but because he WANTS ECW 3 to fail. He can’t STAND that 5 years later the fans still chant ECW, so he’s going to milk it as a cashcow then destroy it, as evidenced by Paul E losing booking power. Vince never could allow anything he didn’t create to succeed.

Well, I did some research on this issue and found out a few interesting things:

1) The fees you have to pay for music cover two areas: the original use, and a percentage on DVD use (which is why the original ECW:One Night Stand had Sandman’s entrance music, but they overwrote it for the DVD release).

2) The cost of the music depends on the size of the audience that it’s being played to? So, playing it for an ECW crowd of 2,000 people vs. a major WWE PPV audience of 3 million (including PPV at-home purchases)? Yes, that’s a cost increase of about 4000%.

3) Most people still believe that Paul Heyman simply played whatever songs he had on a mix CD, and hoped he never got big enough for anyone to notice. Please note that no one ever put The Sandman’s entrance on “The Rise and Fall of ECW” DVD, which would have been easy enough.

The basic rights to the music can be quite expensive for the bigger songs – I was given an estimate (by someone in the business, who would know this kind of stuff) for $50,000 for a one-time fee of “Enter Sandman”, plus fees on DVD sales.

And then, to address the second point of that email: “Vince never could allow anything he didn’t create to succeed.” I not trying to “attack” Penny here or anything (I very much look forward to her write-up in the Rabble each week), but this attitude amongst the IWC is starting to hack me off. The idea that Vince would: 1) get a PPV, with the rented space in NYC, the most expensive city in the world, 2) hire (and pay) talent to fill a roster, 3) schedule extra time on every Tuesday in major arenas to film/show this weekly episode, and 4) direct some of his writers to develop storylines for this new brand… Do you really believe he’d do all that to simply “prove a point”?

Let me ask a simpler question — do you know any rich people? (No? Well, there goes 99% of my audience.) If you do – do you know any of them that are wiling to throw away a significant amount of their own capital just to prove a point? No? Didn’t think so.

Stephen W. McMichael shares an opinion that I got from a few different people:
I gotta disagree with the ending of the ECW show being awesome. It reminded me of when Heyman booked SD!, turned on Lesnar, teamed with Big Show, turned on Big Show, aligned himself with Angle. It just makes the manager more important than the world title belt.

Yeah, I heard about this a couple of times. My basic argument to this was: “I trust in Paul”. I didn’t believe that this was going to take over the same simplistic “Evil Authority Figure” that we’ve seen an infinite number of times before, in WWE and WCW. But Paul was able to turn the promo back around onto the audience, which was clever. Nobody bought it, of course – but at least he tried.

Over in the reader forums, I found the following quote from someone calling himself DarkStar429:
Honestly, I have a feeling that if this show was called anything other than ECW, no one would have a problem with it.

I said this as a follow-up in the forums, and I’ll repeat it now: that’s the smartest thing I’ve seen anyone write about the entire ECW promotion since it’s new launch. This promotion is being held down by its own name, and the expectations of those members of the IWC that were around for the first incarnation of ECW (or, at least, like to act like they were).

Very simply – this ain’t ECW. It ain’t the original ECW, it ain’t the “blood and chairs” ECW in Philadelphia of 1998 – it ain’t even the ECW that was on TNN. It is what it is. Lighten up.

Around the Pulse

So, Botter posted a list of “10 Wrestlers Nobody Really Cares About”, and then Hevia followed it up reasons why. Well, I have no problems with most of the entries on that list (including number one – Sting hasn’t been over since Hogan killed his heat completely at Starcade with “the fast count that wasn’t”). But I do with number three (posted here with Hevia’s comment):

3. Matt Hardy – Blew the angle he created.

Wow – where to start. First off, it seems obvious that neither of you have seen Matt Hardy live recently. I have (a couple of months ago at a Supershow in Washington, DC), and believe me – the crowd goes NUTS for this guy. For further proof, please watch the battle royal on Smackdown from Friday. If you can sit through that entire match, and still insist that you don’t hear even one face pop for Hardy — then you are truly delusional.

And as for Hevia’s comment – umm, what? He “created” the angle that involved his long-time girlfriend f*cking his (married) supposedly good friend? Really? You think that was his idea? And how exactly did he “blow” it? He and Edge traded victories back and forth at the major PPVs, they gave us one hell of a stiff match (so much that people were asking it was “real”), and then eventually it ran its course.

The simple fact is – he’s working steadily, getting paid well, and is higher up the card than he’s been in his entire career. And, ironically, he has Edge and Lita to thank for it.

As for the rest of the Pimptastic section (please, read these people – I only pimp quality stuff):

Shawn M. Smith goes freaking berserk on the subject of the “last great album ever made” (and no, you will NEVER guess who made it) and the future of music and music sales. It’s a great read.

Visit with A Case of the Mondays on the TV side.

Does “Cool Hand Luke” make it into The 50 Club? Do I have something to do with whether it does or not? Read and find out.

Daniels talks about the World Cup (good stuff), and reviews some pre-season baseball picks.

And finally, Gloomchen has over 7,500 albums. Yeesh. Plus, she reviews a whole bunch of songs that are still in regular rotation on my iTunes playlists.

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.

Friday Night Smackdown

1. Honestly, I don’t care what anyone thinks – I love battle royals. Give everyone a chance to appear on-screen, tell a story with the simplest of concepts (don’t get thrown over the top rope), and allow a half-dozen ongoing storylines to exist simultaneously. Really – it seems win-win all around.

Unfortunately, my neighborhood lost power just after that match, so I have nothing for the rest of the show. Stupid transformers.

Monday Night Raw

1. So, the first match gets announced, and Shelton Benjamin comes out to… nothing. No heel heat, no face pop – nothing. Wow. I was honestly very disturbed about this – Shelton is one of my personal favorites, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then I realized – he’s going against John Cena, so the crowd will simply not accept him as a face. But, he hasn’t done anything heinous enough yet to be considered a true heel. So, the crowd isn’t sure how to react. But, in a testament to pure in-ring ability, Shelton is able to bring the crowd along with him – he got an astounding amount of offense in, considering who he was facing. Hat off to Shelton for pulling it off, and for Cena to selling the offense of someone who was obviously lower on the card than himself.

2. Lita: “Oh, I’m not wearing this shirt by accident.” No, you’re not dear. You wore it for me, right? (Plus, she tried hard later in the match to sell how much damage Shelton had done to Cena – you go, girl!)

3. In the midst of that Cena/Shelton match, some of the anti-Cena marks decided to have some fun, and revived the “BOO!/YAY!” sequence when Shelton and Cena were trading punches back and forth. I think I need a new phrase to cover the Rabid Anti-Cena Smarks in the audience… hmm, I guess we’ll just go with RACS for now. If you have a better suggestion, please send it to me.

4. Eugene: “It doesn’t matter what you think! Oh wait, that’s the wrong guy. I got TWO WORDS for ya…”

5. Edge (to the hotel concierge): “Does the bar have the USA network?” Honestly, that Little Thing (tm Haley) might be the greatest moment in wrestling history, IMO. (I just find it disappointing that he was drinking mimosas – possibly the pussiest alcoholic drink in the history of malted beverages.)

6. The Highlanders are working stiffer in their tags in and out of the ring then most workers do while dealing with their “mortal enemies”. Well done, guys. (I’m big-time digging this team.)

7. Edge: “Did you see young Randall talking about Hulk Hogan?” I don’t know why, but when anyone refers to Orton as “Randall”, I crack up.

8. Cena: “The steak sauce is pretty good.” Honestly, just thinking about taking time out in the middle of his beatdown to throw that line in there – it gives me hope for Cena’s eventual evolution into someone the IWC will worship.

9. I loved the fact that Vince seemed to be less upset about having human feces dumped on him, than he was about being laughed at for said feces. People are just strange.

ECW on Sci Fi

1. Something I forgot to mention last week: a lot of people bitched about the supposed “ref bump” in the main event. Let me clue you all in on something – a “ref bump” happens when the ref gets accidentally knocked out, or gets in the way of a charge, or whatever. When one of the competitors picks up the ref and throws him across the ring? Yeah, that’s no “bump”. Get your terminology right at the very least, folks.

2. Somebody in the reader forums bitched because Heyman came down to the ring in a suit – which is just like the McMahons. Umm – yo, kid – Paul has worn a suit every single week since he came back on TV. What really threw you off was the fact that he didn’t wear a baseball cap this time – which was very disconcerting. That was a lot of freaking skull to show.

3. Bitch all you want, but please realize this – 2 guys came out to the ring in full riot gear (including the helmet), and neither of them turned out to be RVD, or Sabu, or Cena, or.. whoever. That was almost refreshing.

4. Test pinned Tommy Dreamer with his feet on the ropes, which Scott Keith always mentions as the sign of a heel who is doing things properly. Unfortunately, Scott gave up on ECW last week, so he won’t see this. (Or, at least, he won’t be able to mention it in his column, which he discontinued. Fuckin’ splitter.)

5, At least we can say this: Candice certainly knows what she’s doing on a stripper’s platform. (Damn, girl – you just raised my opinion of you about 50 points.)

6. So, Flair comes out for his title match, and I get to see this:

See that kid just over Flair’s right shoulder, doing the “We’re not worthy” motion? Now that, right there – that is good proof of proper child-raising.

And that’s it for this week. See you next Wednesday.