Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc., 09.16.08

In Memoriam: Richard Wright. If you didn’t think he was a genius, listen to “Us and Them” again, and if you want to still argue the point, I’ll have no option but to kill you.

I’m not going to give the thoroughly misguided human (if he or she is indeed human) who began selling the Bernard Pollard Fan Club T-shirts online after the Tom Brady injury any more attention than this one sentence and this one question: What would your mother think of you if she knew what you were doing? – Peter King

Approve. Remember, we’re in Chicago. We hate Michigan quarterbacks (especially after the whole Harbaugh experience). And the events of Saturday were one of the few bright spots in an especially horrid weekend here in the Only City On Earth That Matters. In fact, I’ll get right into that…

GEE, GUYS, THANKS FOR THE ADDED BIT OF HUMILIATION

Obviously, many people in the United States are thinking of the devastation around the Texas gulf coast right now, ignoring the fact that the midwest got pelted over the weekend as well. As I’m writing this, we in Chicago are still wringing ourselves dry after four straight days of torrential rain, including a record rainfall on Saturday. Hey, we’ve had some deaths and massive property damage too, you know. Pay some attention to us for once, you putzes.

But it wasn’t the rain, wind, and other damage that’s been the worst blow to us humans. It’s the storm naming system. Storm names go on a six-year cycle, and this year’s set of names were obviously the sixth and final list, when the namers were already into the second case of Scotch and had gone through the good buds and were hitting the sticks and stems. And it just turns out that we’re going through the worst of the section, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific. This year’s list seems purposely designed to add a major dollop of humiliation on to the actual physical damage caused by the weather, just to shove the dagger in a little bit deeper. Let’s go through a bit of the psychological devastation, shall we?

First of all, there was Fay. We’d already dodged Cristobal, Dolly, and Edouard, which was fortunate, but we couldn’t miss this one. Katrina at least is a name with an air of mystery behind it. It’s only appropriate that Katrina nailed New Orleans, because it sounds like a name an NO hooker would give herself. In that light, Fay was also appropriate, because it headed for Florida just like the Jewish yenta you think of when you hear the name. And like a yenta, it kept coming back when you wanted it to stay away.

And then we got Gustav, and I get to reuse some material from an aborted column a couple of weeks ago. I can’t get past the name. Think about famous Gustavs for a second. There’s Mahler, there’s Eiffel, various and sundry kings of Sweden, and that’s about it. So, what do we have here? A composer whose wife left him for an architect, an architect with the biggest case of Compensation Syndrome ever documented, and…well, various and sundry kings of Sweden, including the present one. What’s he best known for? His wife being the inspiration for “Dancing Queen”. Disappointment comes with the name Gustav, I guess. Gustav didn’t even clean up the damage that remained from Katrina.

Do you think that if Gustav had simply gone by the nickname “Gus”, it would have really kicked the crap out of the Gulf Coast? “Gus” is a guy who tends a blue-collar bar in a decaying industrial city and restores peace five or six times every Friday night. “Gustav” is the guy who tends the gloryhole in the bathroom of said bar, and you know he’s got a carefully-manicured goatee, wears granny glasses, and keeps his activities a secret from the rest of the accountants at work.

And now there’s Ike. When you hear Ike, what do you think? Well, people of a certain age might immediately flash on a certain rather dull general/president, but most people reading this are going to think South Park. It gets even worse. Once we get past Josephine, what do you think the weather boffins have in store for K? Yep, Kyle. If I want a character from South Park to commit massive property damage against me, it’d have to be Cartman, wouldn’t it? If I had to live through a hurricane, I want it to do to me what Cartman did to Scott Tenorman. At least S is reserved for Sally in this list and not Sheila.

Are you getting the feeling that there’s a tad bit of anti-Semitism going on here? No, not this column. The naming system. Long-time readers know that I’m not an anti-Semite. I reserve my racial hatred for Mexicans.

In Chicago, we got a double whammy. Our wacky weather started in the Pacific. The rain began last week courtesy of the remnants of Tropical Storm Lowell. Lowell. Oh, my God. Then, when that was going to peter out, the remains of Ike moved in. So, we got drenched by Lowell and Ike. Once upon a time, we were the City of the Big Shoulders. The home of tough bastards who’d slit your throat, then order another beer without blinking. Now we’re being beaten on by Lowell and Ike. And we don’t even have to have Kyle become a hurricane and get the remnants of that for further psychological damage. We’ve already got a quarterback named Kyle who’s doing a good job of that, thank you. Honestly, we need to win the 2016 Olympics, because it’s the only thing at this point that might restore a bit of civic pride.

And if the rain wasn’t enough, Ike had one more surprise in store for those of us who live on the South Side. Just when we’d stopped screaming, “If you’ve got second and one and Forte in the backfield, run the goddamn ball,” the Team That Does Not Exist gets a free pseudo-home-game in Milwaukee courtesy of Ike giving Houston a much-needed lavage and gets a no-hitter out of a fat Mexican coming off the DL, their first since Watergate was still a shabby third-rate burglary. Honestly, the only thing that could have made Sunday worse was a PPV…oh, wait, there was one, wasn’t there? A TNA one, but still a PPV, which means I have to cover it. Dammit. Hooray, a few weeks off due to illness and/or being busy, and I get to cover the Lehman Brothers of wrestling. Color me thrilled.

Let me a try a torturous football-based analogy. Being in the path of these storms is like being a San Diego Chargers fan right now. You feel totally screwed by fate and forces out of your control, like Ed Hochuli’s Hogan-like guns. Being in the path of these storms with these particular names is like being a Tennessee Titans fan. Yeah, you’re surviving, you’re treading water, but you then realize that the guy your team is constructed around is possibly clinically insane and definitely suicidal, not to mention overrated and incompetent at his job, whatever it might be. You realize that your entire future rests on the arm of a guy named Kerry. This, folks, is misery in the present and in the waiting, and, eschewing the schadenfreude that may be deserved, the rest of us proceed to give them a free pass regarding country music. Their only comfort is that Jeff Fisher played for the Bears and has a great mustache.

To return to storm systems and summarize, these are not names for forces of nature. These are names designed to make you feel embarrased when you tell stories about how you lived through this to your grandkids someday. This is, of course, assuming that any of you ever breed, which is a highly questionable proposition to begin with.

WE’VE BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE

From Reuters:

At least 11 people were killed in a stadium riot in eastern Congo after a soccer player tried to use witchcraft to win a local match, U.N.-backed Radio Okapi reported on Monday.

Nyuki club was losing to local rivals Socozaki on Sunday when Nyuki’s goalkeeper advanced up the field and tried to use “fetishist” spells to turn the tide of the match, Okapi said, without giving more details.

When a police commander tried to break up an ensuing brawl between rival players, members of the crowd pelted him with rocks, the radio added.

Police fired teargas in response, causing a stampede to the exits in which 11 people were killed and several injured, Okapi said.

All of a sudden, I feel a little bad about making fun of Papa Shango. And I’m certain that Vince is getting ideas about how to bring that one back. If I’m Kofi Kingston, I’m a little scared right now, because, let’s face it, there’s not much mileage to this JA thing, and they’re going to be looking for something different for him soon.

Well, any wrestling news? No, I don’t want to talk about the Jake Roberts situation. I had an uncle who was an inveterate alcoholic, who’d constantly go into VA hospitals to dry out, and never succeeded. He’s been dead for over a decade now because he couldn’t control those addictive urges. Some people are just biologically programmed to make themselves susceptible to addictive behavior in this manner. Jake’s one of those. He’s pretty much run out of wagons to fall off of. He’s also run out of things to become addicted to. He can’t afford the good drugs anymore, so it’s back to booze for him. Really, it’s a miracle that he’s survived this long, but, honestly, he hasn’t got long to live. He’s written his obits already. I don’t need to elaborate any more on this, really.

Unfortunately, I do need to elaborate on the PPV from this weekend. Might as well do it and get the pain over with quickly…

NO, SURRENDER IS AN OPTION

First of all, let me deal with next month. No, I will not be going to Bound For Glory. I passed on the real Wrestlemania when it was in the Chicago area. What makes you think I’d be going to the pseudo-Wrestlemania? I’m also highly offended by the promo ads for it. Keep up with it, and I’ll show you what real gangsters do to people like you.

There’s also the issue of transportation. I live in the southwest suburbs. Bound For Glory will be in Hoffman Estates, in the far northwest suburbs. It’s about an hour and fifteen minute trip from me (even the way I drive), via tollroad (and you know how much I hate paying tolls). And to be honest, using the Sears Center really, really smacks of desperation by TNA. Let me explain how.

So, you want a wrestling PPV in Chicago, but your name isn’t McMahon. You need to pick a venue. Where do you go? The Arena Formerly Known As The Rosemont Horizon has an exclusive with WWE, so it’s out. United Center? Too big. WWE could justify it, but not you. UIC Pavillion? You’ll get enough of an audience to pack it in, but it comes across on television as being smaller than it is, and there’s the whole ego issue of this being your Wrestlemania and all that; you can’t afford the image hit you’d take. It’s going to be in October, so you can’t do an interesting outdoor PPV at Toyota Park due to the high probability of rain and/or snow. Well, hell, that squeezes out all of the good places that actually have reasonably high population densities within easy transit distance. But, oh, wait, there’s this arena that Sears built when they moved out to Hoffman Estates a few years ago, one that’s best-known for hosting Eighties rock groups on comeback tours. Yeah, it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a venue and it’s indoors, plus it’s conveniently located to I-90 and its every-half-mile tollbooths.

If you’re going to go as far away as Hoffman Estates, you might as well just go to Rockford and have it there. First of all, you’re halfway there already. Second, you’ll get a much more excited audience, because they’re pretty starved for high-profile wrestling. They get the occasional Raw when WWE does a PPV in Chicago (or the occasional Smackdown under the same condition), but that’s it. Plus, people in Rockford can generously be described as semi-civilized rednecks, which is TNA’s target audience to begin with. Why settle for the Sears Center? So you can pretend that you’re doing your key PPV in Chicago? Anyone with a map of the area can shoot that down tout suite.

Enough of that. I’ll just come straight out and admit it: I haven’t watched TNA in dog’s years. I haven’t needed to. TNA’s booking is dominated by old-schoolers who prefer the stasis that wrestling was in during the the Seventies and Eighties. It’s their comfort zone. Thus, nothing changes in TNA. I don’t need to watch it. I don’t even need to read recaps. Watching No Surrender will suffice to catch me up on what minimal changes there have been since I last viewed over a year ago. It’ll be “who’s got the belts, they’re feuding with XYZ”, and nothing else.

I’m going to make one general observation here instead of placing it in the section that should belong to him: what exactly is Joe thinking right now about sticking with these guys? Admittedly, he had good reason to. The track record of ROH guys going to WWE has not been stellar. But the last few months has provided an exception. What is Joe thinking when he sees what they did with Punk? Punk is now firmly in the upper-mid-card (and don’t start in about the “failed” title reign; just be happy that Punk got the belt to begin with). He’s going to stay there for a long time, given the precedent of guys like Rob Van Dam. Joe knows that his power game fits WWE’s style much more than Punk’s. If Joe was given the same treatment by WWE as Punk…hell, if Joe was given the same treatment by WWE as Umaga, a more likely fate for him, he’d be upper-card and a constant title threat with boatloads of maniacs screaming for him constantly.

Can Joe look at his old buddy and not help but see that things might have worked out for him up north? You can’t fault him for becoming the big fish in the small pond that he is. But when the pond’s too big and you’re starting to starve because you’ve eaten everything in it, you wonder if you’d be able to flourish in a much larger pond, even with the competition for food. Well, at least Joe will make a meal out of Lashley soon, if Booker and Angle can get their way.

So, on to the PPV itself. And we start with a Sting promo, whereupon he starts off with threatening to wrestle again at Bound For Glory. Hey, if I needed an excuse to avoid going, that’s it right there. Hooray for you, TNA fans. And Sting doing promos…oh, yuck, he’s slipping heavily. His standard overdrive really grates sometimes. And him talking about having to possess “honor, pride, dignity, and respect?” If he had any of those things, he wouldn’t be with TNA right now. And name-checking Bret Overrated Hart? Yeesh. No wonder Murray said straight out that he felt this thing was going to be a disaster. I trust Steve’s judgment and have for a long time. I should have listened to him and avoided this puppy and taken another week off.

Well the first match not only solidified that feeling, but also dissuaded me from doing screen caps. So, in my absence, this is what has become of Christopher Daniels, Eric Young, and Christy Hemme? This is the best thing they could think of to do with a talent like Jimmy Rave? This is why I’m thanking whatever demon I’ve spawned from for Prilosec and K-Dawgs? Okay, better break this down to specifics:

Christy can wrestle, we know that. Everyone who witnessed her transformation from Diva Search winner to one of the credits of WWE’s women’s division knows this. So seeing her in an intergender is no problem. But having her as the front for yet another “music-inspired” tag team? Especially one containing Jimmy Rave, who doesn’t need to have anyone front for him? And both of them being hooked up with Lance Hoyt, whom I’ve regarded as a misuse of oxygen since his days as Dallas? Waste. A total and complete waste, both of Hemme and of Rave. They’re capable of a lot more.

Seeing Christopher Daniels as Curry Man is no problem either. I don’t watch much puro, but I respect the gimmicks. Seeing him in a stable is no problem, even though he’s always worked better on his own. But this stable? Look, I have this aversion to super-hero gimmicks. I pretty much stated that flat out during the whole Novocaine Helms thing. I think they’re stupid and done simply to pander to males aged 8 to 12, with the consequent pandering to mom and dad to buy the T-shirt. Of course, this aversion is long-standing, going back to the 80s and continuing through such nightmares as Ararchniman (which Armstrong brother did that one? Brad, right?). And now, I see Christopher Daniels, one of my favorite wrestlers of this decade, dragging himself and a gimmick that he spent years establishing in Japan through the mud. No. This is so utterly wrong. And to get Shark Boy, one of the few gimmicks of this sort that I love mostly due to the dedication of the man behind the mask in selling it, get dragged in at the same time? Where are the drugs? Where is my will to get through this PPV? Where is my will to live?

Unusually, I think that this is the culmination of everything Eric Young has worked toward in his career, going all the way back to the Team Canada days. It just seemed to be leading to something like this, for some reason. This is the type of risk you take when you start down the comedy path. Proceed down it too far, and you reach the point of no return. This is what happens to you at the point of no return: you put on a superhero outfit. Nice knowing you, Mistah Young. Now give up the first name. You don’t deserve it.

As for the match…look, it’s a lesson long known but little learned: never start a PPV with a comedy match. The only people who fall for it are retards. A disgrace all around.

It’s been said that the only area where TNA has some sort of superiority on WWE these days is with the Knockouts, and considering the decline of the X Division, this is true. Is Gail Kim’s departure the X-Pac Moment for the Knockouts, though? Rumors are now flying fast and furious about others departing, especially Awesome Kong. If Kong goes north, though…I really can’t see the logistics of this. No, it isn’t due to looks. It’s the same problem that ROH had when Morishima won the title there, namely that there’s no one really physical enough to compete with her on a brute force level. Maybe Beth Phoenix, but that would require either Kong going in as a face, of which they have too many already, or turning Phoenix face, which would be problematic at this point in time, since her gimmick with Santino Marella is actually working quite well.

Kong is actually quite well-placed in TNA right now, since she’s got ODB to compete with in matches like an FCA. I give credit where it’s due, and I’ll give credit for this one. The interesting sight of two women competing in an FCA is tantalizing enough that I consider it a flaw that they couldn’t stretch this feud out and do it next month. It’s special enough to be part of a card for TNA’s Wrestlemania. But they’re wasting it here. Hey, that’s their decision.

Hardly anyone is mentioning the possibility of ODB moving north, though. That’s surprising. She’d fit in better, and she’d be able to keep the gimmick. Just introduce her as Jamie Noble’s drunk cousin (or if she can pull it off promo-wise, High-Quality Speaker Boy’s drunk cousin that he doesn’t like to admit to now that he’s a Noo Yawk tycoon), and throw her in against Katie Lea Burchill. Or, better yet, put her on ECW. She’s almost a flashback to the old ECW, and it’d be a little less distateful to use the name with her there. Do it, WWE. It’ll add some spice to the women’s division.

TNA is all about tradition, or at least what they perceive tradition to be. We in the wrestling commentary business have spent years making the frequent and constant comparisons between TNA and WCW. One thing that was definitely inherited from WCW was the low-quality camera work. It was truly pathetic back then. If you didn’t see it, you got a good taste of what that camerawork, done by the least-experienced and most-drunk technicians that Turner could muster, was like during the Kong/ODB match. The match flow was totally destroyed by the camerawork. If you have an FCA match, you’re going to book the outside tours, so you know where each competitor is going. You can then block the cameras properly for those movements, with a little bit of “uncertainty” thrown in there for Tenay and West The Retard to play up. You don’t lose sight of the competitors for seconds at a time. And the constant cutaways to Saeed? What the hell were those for? Does someone in the control room have a burqa fetish? I wouldn’t be surprised. We wouldn’t have Rule 36 otherwise.

The match booking also cost this one some points. Yes, as someone with a lot of stage experience, I realize that you’re playing to a live audience and that you should keep the wrestlers in view as much as possible. However, wrestling audiences are smart. They’ll make allowances for an FCA, especially if you have video screens available. There’s also the fact that the majority of your audience isn’t in the arena, but watching on television, a fact that bookers are oblivious to for some reason. For the TV audience, it’s irrelevant where the wrestlers are. An FCA that takes place in the ring more than 75% of the time is useless as an FCA. At that point, it might as well be a No DQ Match. One audience tour and a bit on the ramp wasn’t enough to sell this. This one had some interesting psychosexual potential and wasted it.

Speaking of potential refugees, the Christian promo reminded me of the little fact that his contract is coming up soon, and he’s said to be slightly dissatisfied with TNA at this moment. He didn’t really burn all of his bridges with WWE on the way out. Supposedly, there have been talks to bring him back to WWE. He belongs back there. His WWE career hadn’t reached its full potential, unlike most of the other refugees that TNA’s employed. There’s unfinished business there. Let’s hoping we see him on Raw. Christian/Jericho at this point would be something to see.

The next match, though, was something I didn’t want or need to see. The ex-Dudleys are still the ex-Dudleys. Abyss is still Abyss. Matt Morgan is still useless, no matter how many times he kicks out of someone’s finisher. Definitely Match As Non-Addictive Sleep Aid. I still prefer Ambien.

I don’t have any Ambien on me, so I guess it’s time to pop another K-Dawg as I witness what TNA has decided to do in re Shaun Daivari. So he’s now from Iran, I see. I wonder exactly how that sits with him. Yes, it’s a long-standing wrestling tradition and all that, but there must be some sort of bad taste in his mouth. Why can’t wrestling bookers resist the temptation? Why can’t Shaun Daivari simply be what he is, an American of Persian extraction who is now X Division champion? Well, at least they’re not changing his real ethnicity. Ask Nikolai Volkoff about that one.

Does anything show off the irrelevance of the X Division moreso than Consequences Creed being a top contender and Petey Williams requiring a Big Sump Pump goatee and a hot black chick? Remember the days when the X Division was the shining jewel of TNA, the main reason to watch TNA, before a combination of stupid booking and ROH stealing of thunder? I do, and it makes me sad to watch this. The X Division is running on momentum and fumes. Unless they do something great with it at Bound For Glory (*coughUltimateXcough*), it may be time to take Ol’ Yeller out behind the barn, and don’t forget the shotgun. They couldn’t even stop from lapsing into Triple Threat Formula during this match, something they always used to scrupulously avoid. Time for a mercy killing. If Williams knows what’s best for him, he’ll shave and take the first bus out of Orlando as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I’ll take the first bus to Orlando and kill the bookers, Tenay, and West for the overdose of Overrated references during the match when Williams used the sharpshooter on Daivari while Hebner was reffing. I know that I can’t use obscenities here anymore, and I hate using abbreviations, but there are just some situations that require the use of the letters F, S, T, and U in a certain order.

TNA, however, is on an obsessive hunt to destroy everything that might make them interesting. Witness: the Knockouts are on a roll. They’re getting a great reception from fans of wrestling and deviates alike. So what do they do? Involve Billy Bitchcakes with the title situation. Is there any better way of destroying anything interesting, fun, and enjoyable than throwing Billy Gunn into the middle of something? Oh, wait, there is a better way: throw Rhiyno into the middle of something. And the two of them together? You thought you were afraid of the Large Hadron Collider.

That being said, I do like Taylor Wilde. Major asset to the Knockouts. She’s got the skills and the abilities, although she needs a little work on the personality. Unfortunately, that doesn’t elevate her above most of the WWE women’s division, who are shown to have the skills and abilities but are lacking personality (well, after MickieLexis LaJames had hers surgically removed, anyway). Wilde, despite the TNABots’ contention, couldn’t move into WWE and break out right now. They have bunches of ladies like her right now. If LaJames gets her personality back, and Candice Michelle keeps working on her moves, they’d surpass her as total women’s wrestling packages.

If TNA is really serious about exceeding WWE in women’s wrestling once and for all, they need to do a small raid on SHIMMER. It wouldn’t have to be large. If they could get two wrestlers, specifically Lacey and Ms. Chif, game over. It wouldn’t take much. Given this match, they’re close. They just need to take the one final step. Do it. Maybe it’ll be enough to get Jimmy Jacobs to sign with you so that Jimmy Rave can have a partner that would complement him, not drag him down.

Okay, so let me understand this…Jay Lethal was going to marry SoCal Val. Sonjay Dutt suddenly decided he was in love with her. Val seems to love both of them. She can’t decide. Neither of the guys will back down, with Sonjay playing the insane heel in this. So instead of telling both of them to piss off, like any rational woman would, she decides to offer herself up to the winner of a match. I kept thinking the bookers were stuck in the Eighties. I take it back. The bookers are stuck in the Sixties. Let’s be honest here, as well as on the cusp of the Teens: Lethal and Sonjay have a closer and deeper relationship with each other than either have with Val. Why don’t they tell her to piss off and enter into a Friendship With Benefits phase? Oh, wait, I forgot. That would blow Dixie Carter’s pea brain. Sorry I mentioned that.

However, I’ll accept the culmination of this, a ladder match between Lethal and Dutt. It isn’t the Trojan War, but it’ll do. My only worry in this was that Tenay would make a reference to Overrated being the “father” of the ladder match. The angle booking was horrendous, but the match booking was fantastic. Lethal and Dutt are now solid veterans who know what they’re doing, so I had full confidence in them to pull this off. They did. No real blown spots, the pace was excellent. Nothing really to complain about; definitely well into the four-snowflake territory. Dare I say MOTYC? Yes, I dare, despite the semi-crappy ending (I’m reserving judgment until I see how they follow through on that). So many great specific spots as well, far too many to mention. Watching backstage, Christian had to have been impressed. I think he can feel confident now that the torch has been passed to a new generation of maniacs. Has it really been nine years since he, Edge, and the Hardly Men redefined the ladder match? Time certainly flies.

Speaking of time, TNA actually timed this match well. It’s been six months since Wrestlemania with another six months to go until the next one. This easily satisfied people who can’t wait for Money In The Bank. Full credit, nice job, not enough to actually want to pay for the PPV, but definitely a highlight. Congrats to everyone concerned for rising above the execrable circumstances which created it to create the only highlight of this horrid little excursion into wallet hoovering.

And after the post-coital cigarette required after such a match, it’s time to contemplate deeper things. Since the PPV was in Canada, let’s discuss the decimation of the team named after said country, especially since it hooks nicely into the next match. Team Canada, once upon a time, was almost the core of TNA, filled with promising youngsters with loads of potential. They’re all still working for TNA (we’re talking the original and only true Team Canada here). But what different experiences fate had in store for them. Petey Williams, as said above, now looks ridiculous and, except for one tantalizing moment of upper-mid-cardery, hasn’t broken out of the X Division ghetto. Johnny Devine is now the ex-Dudleys’ bitch boy. Eric Young…superhero outfit. And Bobby Roode, a guy who was being talked about five years ago as the breakout star of the group due to his combination of power and speed, with good promo skills to fill out the package? Someone who was meriting comparisons to a young and more powerful Chris Jericho? Teamed up with James Storm and Jacqueline after Chris Harris decided it’d be better to work the occasional Tuesday night rather than spin his wheels in the quicksand of the memories of America’s Most Wanted. What did Canada do to deserve this, other than to vote in Stephen Harper (a situation that might be rectified soon)?

Oh, well, that means that we’re stuck with Roode, who came oh, so close to following through on all of his potential, having to team up with the truly useless Storm and the over-the-hill Jacqueline to face Sheremetyevo. Well, there is always a silver lining in these things. The silver lining in this, of course, is to watch Homicide again. But what did Homicide do to deserve this? Talk about stasis. Can’t he stop feuding with white trash? I distinctly remember the feud with the ex-Dudleys and with the ex-NAO. Well, just another match to solidly ignore, except when Homicide’s in the ring. He’s always a treat to watch. Dull experience to be sure, especially after the last match, but with that little light at the end of the tunnel that’s so tantalizing and mysterious. You never know if it’s the way out or whether it’s an oncoming train.

(By the way, the reason Salinas was “attacked in the bathroom”, according to Da Meltz, was that Shelley Martinez suddenly quit. So that’s why there weren’t any “updates from the hospital”.)

I’m not an MMA fan. It has never interested me and never will. The presence of Frank Trigg in a ring with A. J. Styles will not change this. I definitely did not care for a match under MMA rules. If I wanted to see an MMA match, I’d watch an MMA card. Therefore, next.

And that brings us to the main event. I talked about Joe earlier. The fact is that he got the belt two years too late to matter. The fact is that he got the mic far too late, TNA building him up as a silent killer far too long. It utterly amazed me that Joe was that good on the mic when I heard him at an ROH show, and I couldn’t figure out why TNA was so damn reluctant to give him the stick. TNA didn’t ruin Joe. Joe’s talent was too great for him to be ruined. But they did everything in their power, whether conscious or unconscious, to hold him down, from hampering his character growth to ignoring him for every WWE refugee that floated into town. Him having the belt now is small consolation, especially since he’s now going to be headlining Bound For Glory against the decrepit Sting. This will not end well.

That being said, it’s about time to start considering who Wrestler Of The Decade might be for the Zeroes. You’d think that it’d be a pretty wide open competition. In reality, it’s between two people: Joe and Trip (Angle was in the discussion until he went nuts, and A. J.’s booking killed him). Trip’s been out twice for extended periods with torn quads. Joe, on the other hand, hasn’t been injured. He was a critical factor in making ROH the hottest new promotion of the decade. He gave TNA legitimacy with the most serious wrestling fans there are, the indie fans. He showed his versatility in TNA, actually justifying himself in the X Division while being able to compete with the heavyweights (I thought at the time, and I still think, that it was stupid to put Joe in X Division competition, where any weaknesses he had would be exposed). Yes, there’s still fifteen months to go, and you never know what might happen, but at this moment, Joe’s got my vote. Narrowly.

Booker’s “travel problems” were certainly acceptable to me. After all, Booker does live in Houston and does have a family to worry about. They could have acknowledged this a little bit better, I think. Booker will be at the Tuesday Impact tapings, though, as he’s set to face off against Jay Lethal. There’s no sign of punishment against him either, since Da Meltz is mentioning that Booker versus Christian is a likely undercard match at Bound For Glory. His absence really didn’t detract from this match, and probably made the booking a little bit easier. It also took away some of the stigma of this match coming on the heels of WWE’s five-way mashups at their last you-suckers-paid-for-this event. A Triple Threat, that’s easier to digest.

So we were left with Christian, Angle, and Joe. And they immediately went to Triple Threat Formula. Here’s a little secret to doing these columns: it takes a lot of wrestling viewing to do them. After a quarter-century of viewing, I’ve developed certain instincts about things, along with certain prejudices. I can determine a lot by the first few minutes. If a Triple Threat match goes into Triple Threat formula, I know it’s not worth viewing, so I watch snippets of the match, sometimes running it in the background as I’m writing this or surfing major news sites for stuff that I want to throw in. I don’t need to watch the match itself. I know what’s happening, from a combination of experience and audio commentary. It provides a wonderful shortcut for me. But, as I said, it takes experience and instinct to do this. I don’t recommend it to you n00b writers. Besides, none of you are entertaining enough to pull it off, like me.

Hey, Hyatte always did his columns drunk. I do my columns with a sense of apathy and the occasional anti-depressant or tranq in my system. We’re both legends in this business. Think about it.

Eventually, Joe won the match, no surprise. Angle had to move on to handle Jarrett at Bound For Glory. Joe’s got his thing with Sting. Christian, as said earlier, gets Booker. So everyone gets to resolve their intramural feuds. In other words, this match was pointless. It could have been resolved by rock-paper-scissors with the same entertainment value.

Now I know why I’ve avoided TNA for so long. As I said, nothing ever changes. Garbage PPV with one good match. Same old TNA. In many cases, lack of change is comforting. But if you don’t change, you die. How long can TNA run on momentum? The only problem is that we scriveners have been speculating about the death of TNA for years now, and it hasn’t died yet. Wrestling promotions are often like cockroaches. They’ll survive anything except a sharp, quick blow. The problem is that there isn’t a shoe big enough to crush TNA right now.

So, after that disappointment, let’s move on to the perpetual weekly disappointment that is Raw…

THE SHORT FORM

Match Results:

Chris Jericho over CM Punk, World Title Steel Cage Match (Jericho escapes): Starting the show off with this? WWE, are you trying to show that you really love me and want me back? You should know better than to try to pander to me like that. However, I do like the occasional pander, and I loved this match. Do I really need to say that, though, considering who’s involved? Well, they could have screwed it up badly by having Randy Orton appear at any point. But they didn’t. Fifteen minutes of solidly-booked, well-paced mayhem. Scott Keith is on record as hating Escape Rules, but I think even he would admit that the escape spots (the ones through the door, that is) were well-done; Punk’s attempted escape while in the Walls of Jericho was absolutely beautiful.

If this had been given five to ten more minutes and one of the guys bladed, we could close the books on Free TV Match of the Year. Looks like someone was watching No Surrender and realized that WWE had to put out something that could come close to the ladder match. That may be the real reason why this went on first.

The problem here is, what can they do for a rematch? We just had an HITC. FCA would mean Orton and/or Michaels involvement at some point, which we don’t want. But there has got to be a follow-up. Given the result of the match and the sheer quality of the match, Punk’s now firmly in the middle of the title scene. That can’t be ignored. Given our luck, though, “creative” will try to do just that.

Respect Punk. He respects you.

Candice Michelle over Jillian Hall (Pinfall, candy-wrapper): Can WWE’s seriousness about women’s wrestling have anything to do with how the Knockouts have out-stripped them in that area? No, not really. The quality of women’s matches has remained relatively stable. WWE is making certain that any of their women are ready to compete. Hall, of course, was brought in to be part of the women’s division and then shunted into a manager’s role instead; fortunately, she kept up her skills during that time and is now firmly on the credit side of the ledger. Candice is one of the major success stories of that division. She has really worked hard on developing her skills. I remember when I used to cringe every time she got involved in a match. Now, with the new haircut and some very nice ring attire, she’s showing that she’s serious.

The No Mercy match against Beth Phoenix will be interesting. It’ll definitely show us how much they trust Candice. Unfortunately…wait, I may actually start participating in Round Tables again, so I’d better save some speculation for that. Sorry, but one must know how to pace one’s self.

High-Quality Speaker Boy over Special Guest Victim Tommy Dreamer (Pinfall, Clothesline From Hell): This match could be a really great brawl if someone took the possibilities seriously. Dreamer can still go. Dreamer can get incredibly brutal. Make it a garbage match on PPV with lots of international objects, and it’d be surprisingly satisfying. It shouldn’t be treated as a camera-time match for High-Quality Speaker Boy.

One remark from last week’s aborted column that I’d like to revive: That “energy boost” that Charlie Haas had in his hand…anyone else think it looked like a bottle of amyl nitrate?

Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and Manu over Jerry Lawler, Kofi Kingston, and Charlie Haas In Jim Ross Drag (Pinfall, DiBiase pins Haas, Russian leg-sweep): Oh, yeah, we are in Memphis tonight, aren’t we? That’s all you need to know about this. Well, other than this observation: Cody Rhodes really needs to develop a personality, quickly. Otherwise, he’s going to be in the same situation as his older brother, and we all know what he had to do to get out of that.

Jamie Noble over Paul Burchill…wait a second, Jamie Noble over Paul Burchill? (Submission, Fujiwara arm-bar): This is dismaying on a number of levels. This is the official end of any push Burchill might have had. It also means that they’re going to play this Noble angle up, and it’s pretty disrespectful of Noble’s status as a long-time veteran to put him into the position of being a love-sick puppy. It’s only partially balanced by the fact that we get more Regal, always a good thing. Hey, Steph, hire me to book the lower-profile angles. At least I know what I’m doing.

Kane over Rey-Rey (Ref stopped match): We’ve seen too many Rey-Rey Versus Big Guys matches over the years to become enthused about this. All of the enthusiasm will come from the angle, and I’ll discuss that in the next section. In fact, due to the Main Event Promo nature of the show, those observations are next.

Angle Developments:

Masquerade: Memo to Kane: as per unmasking, hey, I feel ya, brother. Now, as to why this is being done, as many people know, Rey-Rey lost a mask match in Mexico a number of years ago. When he competes down there, by tradition, he cannot wear a mask. WWE had to reach a modus vivendi with the Mexican feds about Rey-Rey wearing a mask when competing for WWE; one of the results of this was that when Rey-Rey competes for WWE in Mexico, he has to do it unmasked. WWE is making yet another push for the Latin markets. Could Rey-Rey have agreed to unmask so that WWE might find it easier to operate in Mexico? Showing respect for tradition is incredibly important there, and WWE throwing out an olive branch to Mexican fans in this fashion wouldn’t be unprecedented. Cynical as usual, but not unprecedented. Rey-Rey’s popularity is the key to breaking into Mexico once and for all, and anything that eases the way would be explored. Using Kane to do it is actually an inspired move, especially if Rey-Rey turns into a bump machine in the blow-off match and gets big-time sympathy points from the non-Mexican audience.

The question becomes, are they doing this in the correct fashion? At this point, yes. As this angle builds, there are going to be more mentions of the masked tradition and how the mask means everything to Rey-Rey. At that point, it will all depend on how they book the blow-off and the aftermath. The easy solution would be for Rey-Rey to start wearing Sting-style face paint and copy the way Sting’s been marketed over the years. Just a suggestion.

Is Rey-Rey being coerced into this? I don’t think so. He’s been around long enough to know how things operate. He knows that unmasking won’t damage his legacy; if his booking when he held the title belt didn’t do that, nothing could. This gives him a little bit of freedom of action. It also might be psychologically acceptable to him; he takes the tradition very seriously and must feel some conflict about wearing the mask outside of Mexico. So, unmasking permanently might be something he wants. He also knows that this is going to be a high-profile angle. The Kane three-disk is coming out in November, and any blow-off to this will definitely be high on the card at Survivor Series.

For Rey-Rey, it’s a matter of balancing gains versus losses. He’d definitely be taking a risk by unmasking, but the risk isn’t as great as a lot of people think. He’s a smart guy. He wouldn’t be agreeing to this if he hadn’t done the calculus.

Hoping Against Hope: When Jericho started calling himself “best in the world”, was anyone else expecting, and desiring, Bryan Danielson to walk out and start beating the crap out of Jericho? No, that couldn’t happen, because that would have been fun. However, given what’s happened with Punk and Sydal lately, something like that happening would be more possible and less an excuse for worry, because I think WWE’s finally figured out how to book ROH guys with some efficiency. Their continued burial of C(“ol” or “un”, take your pick)t Cabana is a sign of that.

What A Subtle “Screw You” That Was: Gee, I wonder if a certain ladder match that took place on Sunday had any bearing on the title match at No Mercy? Yes, I know WWE can be competitive at times, but this is really overdoing it. “You thought that Dutt and Lethal were something? Here’s Michaels and Jericho to show them how to really do it!” Come on, guys, you can give it a rest on occasion.

In Case You’re Wondering: Adamle’s still doing his gig as a sportscaster in Chicago. And, yes, he’s always been as mush-mouthed as he was during the Main Event Promo. This is why no one turns to our local NBC affiliate for sports coverage. Honestly, he needed subtitles and a summary for anyone to figure out exactly what’s going to happen at No Mercy. You want a commissioner from Chicago who knows public speaking, is literate, is intelligent, and can appear to the audience to be creative? My e-mail is linked to this column.

Okay, now that I’ve whored myself out enough, I’ll break this off (was tempted to do ECW and hold this off for a day, but every time I do that, I end up blowing this thing off). I’ll be back sometime depending on my schedule and depending on whether anything else is happening. Enjoy your day.

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