Opening Witty Banter
Well I am back after an unexpected hiatus thanks to my unstable Internet connection in my new place. I donâ€™t think I really missed much in the two weeks since we met last time other than the Great American Bash. I havenâ€™t seen SmackDown! in two weeks and barely caught the main event of ECW last week (which was a great match, by the way), but now with my Internet finally set up, my DVR back up and running and the gloriousness of WWE 24/7 I should be back at full speed now. Tonightâ€™s column is brought to you by Backlash 2008 thanks to WWE 24/7.
The Top Story
WWE continues to clean up the company by instituting more policies to the ever-growing Talent Wellness Initiative. According to the companyâ€™s official website:
– Retaining ImPACT Inc. to manage operations and administration of the Talent Wellness Program. Through ImPact, WWE obtained the services of Dr. Joseph Maroon as the program’s Medical Director. He will coordinate a team of physicians and medical personnel for program implementation.
– Publicly announcing suspensions of performers. As of November 1, 2007, suspensions resulting from violations of the Talent Wellness Program have been announced publicly. More than 30 suspensions have been issued since the start of the Talent Wellness Program.
– Adding new drugs to the list of banned substances in the program. Anti-estrogens have been added to the list of banned substances due to their ability to be used to mask the effects of steroid use.
– Mandatory pre-contract cardiovascular, drug screening and physical exams for potential new performers.
– Mandatory cognitive tests for performers to monitor brain conditions. WWE is now using The ImPACTâ„¢ Concussion Management Program for all WWE performers. The ImPACT program is used by the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and the NCAA.
– Expanding drug treatment services to former performers. For the past 20 years, an important component of WWE’s efforts to deter its performers from abusing drugs has been its commitment to assist performers in receiving appropriate drug rehabilitation and treatment programs. WWE has expanded this offer to include any individuals who had ever performed under contract to WWE during their careers. More than 500 letters were sent out to former performers in September 2007. So far, more than a dozen former performers have sought assistance, and we continue to receive calls to our 24-hour hotline inquiring about the program.
Thatâ€™s good PR for the company. Now as long they can actually get the system under control and make sure they get that roided out freak Colin Delaney under control.
Everything Else Fit For Print
Variety reports that WWE is re-naming its WWE Films division to WWE Studios since they will now focus on made for TV and DVD productions, not theatrical releases (though they will continue on a smaller scale). WWE has several straight to DVD projects in the works including a sequel to The Marine. The plan is to release four-to-six straight to DVD films per year, each with a cost of roughly $5 million each. They are also working on movies that would first air on cable and then be released on DVD. WWE will release 12 Rounds starring John Cena in theaters on March 13, 2009. Suckerpunch starring the Big Show is also in development for a big screen release.
Four to six straight-to-DVDs a year? They are going to run through available acting talents at a rapid pace if they pump out that many movies. At that rate Funaki and Little Guido will be starring in their buddy comedy by 2010.
WWE is also toning down their television ratings, at least for SmackDown!, as it is expected that in the near future WWE programming will now be rated TV-PG as opposed to TV-14. This means that the programming will be more geared for a younger audience, with less overt violence, language and sexuality.
So basically everything that made WWE successful back in the Attitude era is going away and it will be replaced by gimmicks related to the last family-friendly era like Who, TL Hopper and Duke â€œThe Dumpsterâ€ Droese?
Everything else out there is past week was pretty minor, and it was obvious that the news guys are grasping at straws to find relevant and entertaining news stories. And no, Iâ€™m not going to talk about Sandman being a drunk and getting thrown in jail after a wild birthday party for Capt. Lou Albano. Sandman getting drunk at Capt. Lou Albanoâ€™s birthday party? That sounds like a plot line in a bad Saturday Nightâ€™s Main Event skit.
Wrestler of the Week
Iâ€™m trying to think of new ways to change up/improve this column so each week I will highlight who I think was WWEâ€™s Wrestler of the Week, kind of like what JR does on wwe.com. As this is still in its early stages I donâ€™t really have any criteria, but Iâ€™m sure my choice will come from a combination of kayfabe and real-life factors.
For the week of July 21 â€“ 27: Matt Hardy
I thought Matt Hardy had the best match on WWE TV this past week when he outlasted Finlay, The Miz and John Morrison in a fatal four way on ECW to become the number one contender for the ECW Championship. Hardy has rebounded nicely after dropping the US Championship and instantly put himself back in the same upper mid-card position he was before, as it seems as if the ECW Championship is now considered on par with the US and Intercontinental belts. The thought of Matt Hardy battling Mark Henry for the ECW Championship is quite an interesting thought, but I guess its really no worse than Chavo Guerrero versus Kane. Hopefully this is the first step in Hardy winning his first â€œWorldâ€ Title.
RAWâ€™s On Tonight!
On Last Weekâ€™s Episodeâ€¦
Provencio is back at his post to cover SmackDown!
ECW got much love this week as Blatt did a straight recap while Daniels and Kirschner provided their thoughts.
Neeley steps in to cover RAW while Daniels provides an alternative look with this 10 thoughts.
How They Rated
A.M. RAW (7.20.08) – .5
RAW (7.21.08) â€“ 3.3
ECW (7.22.08) â€“ 1.5
SmackDown! (7.25.06) â€“
This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Glazer continues to fight the good fight for Ring of Honor.
Kirschner raves about CHIKARA and continues his discussion on IWA Mid-South. SEA DONSTERS~!
Wiswell talks about the first ever ROH Canada show that has now already happened. But click the link to see how his predictions went.
Tags: ECW, Raw, Smackdown, WWE