A Look on the Bright Side: The Comeback

Greetings everyone. Welcome back to your weekly installment of the Internet Wrestling Community’s only happy place, A Look on the Bright Side.

So most likely, you’re asking yourself one of three questions:

1) Who the hell are you?
2) Where the hell have you been?
3) Why did you bother to come back?

To those asking the third question: piss off.

To everyone else: I’ve been gone for a while – almost 4 months. My life got a bit overwhelming, and I took a hiatus after clearing everything with Fingers. At the time, I thought it would only be a month or two, but things got… complicated. (If you despise columnists that write about their personal life, just skip down to the next heading.)

Basically, I built a new house in Delaware. It’s a large house – the main section of the house is just short of 4,000 sq ft, and there’s a 2200 sq ft unfinished basement (which will get finished… eventually). It’s taken over a year to get this damn thing finished, mostly because of the General Contractor we hired: my brother-in-law. He’s built structures before, but always commercial buildings. And quite simply, he was not capable of handling the construction of this house. New Castle County is very, very exact about giving out permits: the close-in checklist has 82 items that must be approved by the inspector before you can start to hang drywall, and the final residential checklist (which allows you to actually move in) has 164. That’s a lot of details, and he just wasn’t built for it. Of course, you could blame me for ignoring the voice in my head a year ago that was screaming, “No, you fool! Don’t do it!”, and capitulating to my wife’s request/pleading/begging that we hire him. Ah well.

I had to step in sometime in October, and basically took over the General Contractor duties from him: I called in the inspections, hired (and more importantly, paid) the subcontractors, and did a rather large portion of the labor myself: I can now hang and trim an interior door in about 15 minutes. (Plus, I discovered one of the problems with having a big house: there’s a lot of everything. Installing insulation in 2,400 sq ft of attic space was not an activity I wish to repeat in this lifetime.)

So now, I have a house that I like very much. And all it cost me was my credit history (and my wife’s), a decent portion of my sanity, some of my health, and almost my marriage. Let the good times roll.

But now, things have finally settled down, and I can get back to business. I haven’t watched much wrestling for the past 2 months outside of the Royal Rumble, but I have been (mostly) keeping up with the excellent recaps here at Inside Pulse. So, we’ll see if the time off did any good, or if I’ve outgrown the concept of sports entertainment entirely. (Yeah, right.)

Now, let’s go over the ground rules of the column:

1. Around here, we celebrate the positive side of pro wrestling. (Or sports entertainment. Or whatever you want to call it. Honestly, I don’t care.) I don’t bitch about things just for the sake of bitching, which seems to be the modus operandi around the IWC.

2. I attempt to point out things that aren’t getting enough attention from the rest of the IWC, and I try to never talk about the same item twice. So, wrestlers that get fellated by every other writer on a daily basis (like Benoit) won’t appear much here. But anyone who I believe just doesn’t get enough love (Shelton Benjamin being front and center) will get mucho attention.

3. I’m older than most of you, and I’ve been watching this on TV since I was 10. That’s 27 years, in case you’re wondering.

4. I very rarely watch wrestling on TV “live”, because I have 1) two small children (2 and 4 years old), 2) a new house, and 3) DirecTV with TiVo. TiVo is, of course, the greatest invention of the last 10 years. So, I catch up on the show at my pace. Plus I can rewind whenever I feel like, go in slo-mo, fast forward through commercials – all that good stuff.

5. I decide myself which shows I cover. TNA doesn’t give me enough material to work with, so I don’t cover them anymore (although if Russo keeps up the Crash TV tempo, I may change my mind). Any shows that start to really bore me will drop off, and any shows that have promise will be added. It’s my column, and I’ll do whatever amuses me. Don’t like it? Don’t read.

And that’s pretty much it. Sit back, relax, and let’s see what happened in the past week. But first, the pimps.

Around the Pulse

Eric covers ECW.

Shameless self-plug: go read my review of 300 over in Popcorn Junkies.

Danny keeps you up-to-date with the latest DVD releases

The guys over at Inside Fights do a helluva good job. Go check them out.

The Week That Was

And now, we get to the meat of the column. The idea is fairly simple: I point out (at least) 5 things from each major show that should be getting more attention, but aren’t. (And occasionally, I just point out some absurdity just to tweak the rest of the IWC.) There’s way too much negativity infused into columnists who write about pro wrestling: this is just my little attempt to balance it out a bit.

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

And be sure to take part in the Inside Pulse Forum for A Look on the Bright Side thread too.

Friday Night Smackdown

1. “Two guys [the Hardys] that practically invented the ladder match here in the WWE.” Oh c’mon, JBL – I expect better from you than that. The ladder match in WWE came from Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall. (Yes, kids – I meant all 3 of those. Look it up.) The Hardys made the TLC matches work – mostly because Jeff was/is completely insane. I’d let Lawler or Tazz get away with that kind of sloppy comment, but I hold you to a higher standard.

2. I’m not a huge fan of Queen Sharmell, and I’m not sure why they put her on commentary during the opening match. But when they gave a close-up of her at the announce table, in that low-cut top? My goodness. Glad to see she had no problem letting the girls out for the night.

3. I’m also not a huge fan of using the World Champ’s interview segment to build up his opponent. But seriously – I don’t care who you are, that retrospective of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania was impressive. (Although I do wish they had spent less time showing the Giant Gonzalez outfit. Still, in my opinion, the most embarrassing wrestling concept ever. Yes – worse than the Gobbledy Gooker.)

4. I’m always impressed when a wrestler comes up with a move I haven’t seen before. I’m especially impressed when the move looks painful, even though you can tell with a few seconds of thought that it isn’t. So, that Torture Rack-esque move around the ringpost that Kane did to Batista? Bravo, Mr. Jacobs. I had assumed you’d be coasting in the rest of your career – nice to see you haven’t mailed it in quite yet.

5. I hadn’t seen that dive through the cage wall by Bobby Lashley until the recap tonight. Holy hell.

6. Okay, can someone please find me a picture of Ashley just after she won the Diva Search, and then put it side-by-side against a still from her entrance tonight? My God – how much did she add to her breasts? They look like two watermelons taped to a 4×4 beam.

7. The IWC has a collective hard-on for CM Punk (though I am convinced that 70% of the people who rave about him online never saw him work before ECW – it’s like a 25 year old arguing about who was better, Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell). But I was more impressed with Kennedy in this match – some of his recent work had disappointed me a bit, but he showed that he can stay with a great worker, even someone with a style as unorthodox as Punk. But mostly, I was just happy to watch both guys sell for each other – an ego-clash could have really screwed up that entire match.

8. Hey, can someone remind me what nationality is Finlay, again? I’m not sure he made it clear enough in that promo. (Look, I’m half-Irish, so I understand that national pride and all that. But seriously, no one uses the word “Irish” that much in a 30 second speech even on St. Patty’s Day.)

9. Having the Little Bastard be terrified of The Undertaker was a nice touch. Although I really would have enjoyed the visual of them face-to-face. Err, face-to-knee. Whatever.

Monday Night Raw

1. Oh, they’re in DC. Cool! This will be the first DC show I’ve seen on TV in three years, since I’ve watched the previous shows in person. (The last one featured HHH’s “You’re not a very good wrestler” promo on John Cena.) The DC crowd is a nice mix of marks and smarks though – should be fun.

2. You had to listen for it, but the boos were there for Cena’s entrance. But much, MUCH less than the last WWE show in town – either he’s making an impression on the IWC, or people just got tired of booing him incessantly. You decide. (I’m not going to add the usual snarky comment of “I’m disappointed in the DC crowd”, because I have this weird concept that people should cheer and boo what they like and don’t like — not what *I* like and don’t like. Radical concept, I know.)

3. Donald Trump on a wrestling program. I see it, but I just don’t believe it.

4. It’s Lloyd! Actually, I’m almost disappointed – I wanted to believe he talked like he does on Entourage all the time. Ah well, another illusion dispelled.

5. I was quite happy to see that the Triple Threat was an elimination match. The WWE doesn’t do nearly enough of them, and they certainly have the talent on the roster to handle it. Plus, it removes the “the third guy breaks up the pin attempt” spot that dominates the match otherwise. It actually caught me by surprise to see Carlito standing back while Orton tried to pin Flair – until I realized it was a smart strategic move.

6. Excellent bit of camera work: right after Orton pins Flair, he turns around with his usual smirk, which immediately changes to “Holy shit!” as Carlito hits him with a missile dropkick. Orton’s face was in a close-up the whole time, giving a very cool visual.

7. Every so often, when somebody pulls out a hurricanrana, I remember seeing Scott Steiner do that move back in the early 90’s, when it was the most amazing move I’d ever seen. Then, I think of Scott Steiner now. And a little part of me dies.

8. Looking over the entrants for the Money in the Bank match, I’m left with several questions: are the Hardys only in this match because someone has to be willing to take the sick bumps? How much offense is CM Punk going to be allowed? And who the hell is going to win this thing? I’m predicting at least four different choices made in the Wrestlemania Roundtable – and possibly five if someone thinks Finlay has a chance. I am very, very curious to see how that match plays out.

9. I’m a fan of “slow burn” storylines, but they have to have a payoff eventually. The way JR and Lawler were talking about how no one has been able to break the Masterlock yet after so long – they must be building to something. I guess the question is, who? My first thought – Lashley. In fact, I think that’s the only available choice that actually makes any sense.

10. The last time I posted a Bright Side column, I compared Ordge to the formation of D-X, and talked about how much I was looking forward to watching this team grow. Unfortunately, the state of wrestling prevented that team from staying together for even 5 months. Oh well. But watching Edge and Orton play off of each other, it’s fairly easy to see how comfortable Edge has grown into his character – but it also points out just how far ahead of young Randall he really is.

11. Of course I loved The Rock segment. Did you really need to ask? And I really liked the trophy case of title belts that was behind him. I’m totally putting one of those in my office.

12. Here’s a good way to tell if the columnist you are reading leans towards the positive or negative: what was their opinion on the tag team gauntlet match? I’m sure someone out in the IWC is bitching about how Cena and Michaels “trivialized” the entire tag team scene by ripping through 2 teams in 7 minutes, and then pulverizing MNM. However, these people should realize something: no one ever bought a ticket to a show, or purchased a PPV, because Charlie Hass or Garrison Cade or Joey Mercury was involved. But Cena and Michaels have definitely put asses in seats. (Oh, and there’s that little thing about them being in the main event at Wrestlemania, too.) This what we call “proper build up for the big match”.

12a. As a counterpoint to myself, I will add that at no point did I ever look at the tag team of Edge & Christian and think: “Yup, there’s two future World Champs right there.”

13. Believe it or not, I remember seeing The Undertaker’s first ever big match, when he squashed Jimmy Snuka. And even being the mark I was at the time, I remember thinking: “Wow. He just squashed Jimmy Snuka.” (Well, okay, fine – you’re right. I probably didn’t use the word “Jimmy”.)

14. Don’t be surprised by the DC reaction to Jeff Hardy: the last Supershow I saw there, the crowd went absolutely berserk for Matt.

15. Edge busts on the Redskins. It’s official: Edge is now my favoritest wrestler ever. (Seriously – how is the entire city NOT completely embarrassed by that?)

16. Hey, a payoff to the weeks and weeks of See No Evil promos! Sweet. (Gotta admit, that makes sense – get beat up by a guy bigger than you, bring out a hook on a chain.)

17. I’ve never been much of an Ashley fan, but two things impressed me this week: 1) the spear she gave Melina, and 2) the alleged “skirt” she was wearing tonight. Hoo ah.

ECW on Sci Fi

1. Hey, kudos to Matt Striker: RVD was supposed to do a double-elimination spot with Kevin Thorne, but his hand got stuck inbetween the ropes. Striker jumped in and kicked RVD’s hand loose, making it look like he was just doing enough to eliminate him.

2. Okay, somebody better give The Sandman a damn raise – he got eliminated from the Royal Rumble in about a minute, then tonight’s 8-man battle royal in about 2 minutes, but he still spent all of Mick Foley’s promo selling the “injury” he suffered in that 8-man. What the hell does it take for someone to realize that he is, amazingly, one of the most professional workers in the company?

3. I’m okay with the ECW Expose, because Layla is involved. If you recall, she was my favorite in the last diva search, but I assumed they would never let her win. The fact that they did? Honestly, I’m still shocked. But, she’s sexier than all get out, and getting the chance to watch her dance on a weekly basis is something I will not complain about.

4. A lionsault from Randy Orton? Well, hey – way to tease your audience with a Jericho return.

5. So, you schedule a match between Randy Orton, an established WWE superstar; and Bobby Lashley, who you’ve pushed incessantly for weeks. And then you push the right guy, with a fairly decisive result. Really, I don’t have anything to add here: just glad this went through as designed.

Ahhhh – back in the saddle again. See ya next week, folks.

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