It’s been three months since I went on hiatus from doing the Botterm Dollar. Before we start rocking with today’s Dollar, I wanted to take a few minutes to explain where I’ve been, what I’m doing, and why I took a sabbatical in the first place. Those of you who are longtime readers will know that I rarely include personal stuff in my weekly columns; the way I see it is that if you want more personal information from me, you’ll visit my blog. This way I don’t have to bore readers who are simply looking for wrestling news to death with bland personal stories. With the column returning from hiatus, though, I figured an explanation was in order.
Here’s the lowdown:
1. In the middle of November, I began preparing for my transition out of the United States Army.
Here’s a little-known secret about the Army that will come as a real eye-opener to those of you considering enlisting in the military: it’s really, really easy to get IN the Army, but getting OUT is another story entirely. I personally believe they make your transition out of the Army extremely difficult so as to make you reconsider your decision and stay enlisted instead of getting out into the real world. It’s a frustrating, time-consuming process, and it literally took me 4-6 hours per day for two months to get everything cleared. I’m of the belief that when you decide to get out of the Army, they should just take you to the MEPS station and let you sign out permanently; after all, that’s how easy it was to sucker you into joining in the first place, so why not make it that easy when you’re getting out? Because in most cases they don’t want you to get out.
I finally finished everything shortly before Christmas, which meant going home for Christmas and then going back to Fort Hood to wait around and twiddle my thumbs until my actual ETS (end of time in service) date (January 13th) arrived. The magical date finally came, and I signed out early in the morning and drove away from Fort Hood in a state of bliss, never to return to Hood or the God-forsaken towns around the base. If I had to make a list of my top five most undesirable places to live and raise a family, Killeen (the town by Fort Hood) would easily make the top three.
There is no greater feeling in the world than getting out of the Army. I strongly suspect that it is very much like getting out of prison, though I have no frame of reference to base this conclusion on. It’s been nearly a month since I left the confines of Fort Hood, and I’m still not used to the fact that I’m running the show now as opposed to the United States Government.
2. I started a business. My buddy Jon and I originally came up with this great concept where we’d own a recording studio with world-class gear. We’d not only be able to produce fantastic sounding records at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at big studios, but we could also take care of everything else related to recording and releasing an album.
We offer design work ranging from album art design, web development and custom MySpace profiles all the way to live concert and on-location photography. Using our connections in the industry, we’re able to put artists on the iTunes Music Store. We named the company Soundgruve, and I’m proud to report that the studio has been opened for a month and we’re already filling up with clients.
Instead of keeping the art, design and marketing under the Soundgruve banner, I instead started a “sister” company to Soundgruve, called Eyegruve. Jon will be running Soundgruve and I’ll be running Eyegruve, and the arrangement plays to each of our strengths in a perfect manner.
Jon graduated from the Full Sail School of Recording Arts in Orlando, Florida and I’ve been doing web design and development for over ten years, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find the kind of skills and service we can offer you at a price even remotely as low as our hourly rates are. If you need someone to help you with designing a new website or blog, or if you’re in a rock band looking for a place to record that has some of the best gear anywhere for a price that is too good to pass up, then drop me an email and I’ll see what we can do to help you.
3. Truthfully, I basically lost interest in pro wrestling in general. For several months, I tuned in to almost every wrestling show available on television and ordered every pay per view event in the hopes that I’d be more well-informed when it came to writing my weekly columns. By doing so, though, I was exposed to a whole lot of crappy wrestling, awful storylines and uninspired performances by nearly everyone on every major show. I can’t remember the exact moment in time where I’d decided that I’d had enough, but it’s a feeling akin to the same one you get when you have to break up with a girl who you really like just because you aren’t compatible with one another.
A year ago, TNA was awesome. The company put on show after show after show that featured great wrestling, and you were almost guaranteed to get at least two good-to-great matches on the PPV events if you decided to order them. They seemed to be on the verge of a creative breakthrough if nothing else, but then they hired Vince Russo.
Now, I’m all for giving someone a second chance in business. I’m even cool with giving someone a third chance, so long as they show a willingness to improve their game and not rest on the acclaim showered upon them ten years ago.
Vince Russo is not that guy.
Under Russo’s guidance, the company began to see a drastic drop in the quality of the storylines, which weren’t very good to begin with. One thing TNA has always been known for is the strong wrestling they display on a weekly basis, but that disappeared under Russo as well. Instead of focusing on 2 tightly-written storylines and having 3 great matches on every episode of Impact, we were instead treated to shows that had enough angles booked on them to last six months. Nothing has a purpose and nothing has reasoning behind it, and almost everything he’s doing is a retread from his WWE and WCW days.
TNA is awful and will likely continue to be horrid until they remove Vince Russo from the writing team.
WWE was in the same lifeboat. The ECW brand took off for about two weeks after its launch last summer, and by the time brown leaves started to fall off the trees the brand had become nothing more than a glorified episode of Velocity or Heat. Actually, both Heat and Velocity have consistently been better than anything ECW has done over the past six months.
Surely you can see now why I stopped watching the stuff. It was terrible. It’s not that I stopped being a fan; rather, I stopped watching the television so I could continue to actually be a fan.
— Following the unexpected suicide of Mike “Awesome” Alfonso early this week, word is going around that former WWE star Chris Nowinski wants to conduct an examination of Alfonso’s brain tissue to determine if multiple concussions sustained during brutal matches throughout his career had anything to do with Alfonso’s death. For those unaware, Nowinski has successfully linked concussion syndrome found in professional athletes with depression and even suicide. If there is any candidate that can help prove Nowinski’s case on concussions, it would be Alfonso. I’ve personally seen Mike Awesome take hundreds of brutal chairshots, and none of them could be considered good for anyone’s health.
— Steve Austin will return to television at the March 5th Raw in Phoenix, Arizona. He’ll be the special ref for the Battle of the Billionaires between Lashley and Umaga in addition to promoting his movie.
— The company has amped up their interest in bringing in several luchadores lately. The belief is that that by doing so, they can create a bigger international presence and also recreate some of the magic that Nitro had before the nWo took over the entire company. To that end, they’ll be giving Mistico a tryout at the Smackdown tapings on Tuesday, and they are also heavily interested in bringing in both Perro Aguayo Jr and La Parka from Mexico and Jado and Gedo from Japan. There was a lot of interest in bringing in Mistico last year, but it died down until he recently won the Wrestling Observer Wrestler of the Year award. Once that happened, people in the company began pushing to bring him in again, and it looks like it might actually happen this time. The only problem with this idea, of course, is that Mistico is barely taller than Rey Mysterio and weighs roughly the same, and he needs to work with guys who can work that style, and there’s very few people in WWE at this time who can do that. If they bring him in to Smackdown, it could work, but the current working plan is to have him be Raw’s version of Mysterio, and God knows that won’t work at all.
— The current plan is to have a DX vs. Rated RKO rematch at SummerSlam. Hunter is making great progress in rehab and he’ll probably start working matches on the road in either May or early June.
— Funny incident after No Way Out: a WWE fan was eating at a restaurant after the PPV and Vince and Shane were eating dinner there as well. Dave Batista walks in wearing shorts and a tank top, which is a major violation of the WWE dress code. Upon seeing the McMahons eating dinner, Batista promptly pays the hostess $40 to seat him somewhere Vince and Shane can’t see him.
— Vince McMahon seems to be terribly worried about Wrestling Society X on MTV, which competes for half an hour each week with the ECW brand. Some in the office feel as though Vince is taking WSX as a serious threat to ECW and WWE, and thus he’s been much more active in the booking and execution of ECW over the past three weeks, which is why he was appearing on the show when just two months ago he’d rather shoot himself in the face than to have anything at all to do with ECW. The craziest thing about this whole story is that Vince should be terrified of UFC, since they are killing WWE in buyrates, but Zuffa isn’t even registering on Vince’s radar. It’s registering on Linda McMahon’s radar, but she’s under the mistaken belief that they aren’t competitors since UFC is real fighting and WWE is fake fighting. Yes, but the whole goal of producing television shows is to get people to buy your PPV events, which is something that UFC has mastered, which makes them opponents for fans dollars every month. Someone should send TNA a memo with the last sentence I wrote.
— Harry Smith is currently training in OVW. They’re still pushing for the new New Hart Foundation gimmick with Nattie Neidhart and Teddy Hart, but they’ve only got two of those guys under contract. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll begin to see a program with those guys and DX at the end of this year, since they can’t seem to let go of 1997.
— Sources within the company are saying that they’re about 99% sure they’ll have Chris Jericho under contract by the end of March. This rumor has come up before, but the TNA office seems pretty confident this time. Personally, I don’t see Chris Jericho wrestling anywhere unless it’s World Wrestling Entertainment, but that’s just me.
— Regarding Kurt Angle’s continued statements that he’s involved with the writing process and also acts as an agent backstage: it’s pretty much Angle just spouting off at the mouth. Angle offers (unwanted) advice to all the younger guys, but they pretty much let it go in one ear and out the other. A TNA guy I talked to on Tuesday, when asked if Kurt was a writer, agent and wrestler, responded with “well, Kurt’s a wrestler”. Yes, he’s a wrestler who also doubles as an INSANE MAN.
— Regarding Angle’s claims that he’s currently deciding between EliteXC and UFC for potential MMA fights, both organizations have come out with statements saying that neither one of them are currently in negotiations with Angle for a fight.
— Ideas for the card for UFC 70 from England is being tossed around internally at Zuffa. The show will likely be headlined by Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga. The other match confirmed for the main card is Michael Bisping vs. Elvis Sinosec. There are also rumors floating around about Ortiz vs. Griffin 2 and Andrei Arlovski vs. Cheick Kongo taking place on the show, but neither match has been confirmed.
— UFCJunkie.com is holding a UFC 68 party at the Karma nightclub in Columbus next weekend. Admission is free and several UFC fighters will be in attendance, including Sean Salmon, who was most recently seen being murdered in the Octagon by Rashad Evans and his leg.
That’s all for this week. I’ll be back next week at some point with a UFC 68 Preview in addition to my regular Friday column.
Some of the news used in this column was taken from F4WOnline.com, the home of Bryan Alvarez and his excellent Figure Four Weekly newsletter. Do yourself a favor and go buy a membership.