Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Stupid Polls

One thing that really bugs me more than it should is poorly crafted poll questions on the net. It seems we are asked to vote about all sorts of things on every conceivable site, and yet so many of the questions are so poorly crafted they might as well not even be asked. Perhaps the most ridiculous set of questions I've seen in a long while came from ESPN on the Paul Konerko signing. One question asked, "Can the White Sox repeat as World Series champs with their current roster?" Can they? Well of course they can. Whether people think they will, and how confident they are in that are actual questions. But can to me says is it in the realm of possibility. A team that won the World Series and kept most of its players of course could win the World Series. That says nothing. Then they ask what you think of Paul Konerko's new deal for $60M over 5 years. The options are he's worth it, too many years OR too much money. It's baffling to me that you can't choose both too many years and too much money, as if they are mutually exclusive. Then they ask whether Brian Anderson (a CHI prospect) is "capable of starting in center field," which is the exact same type of ambiguity as the first question. Of course he's capable. He's got a pulse and he has played professional baseball at a decent level. Will he work out as a reliable player? Should they start him? Those are actual questions. And then it closes by asking what the White Sox should do with Bobby Jenks, and one of the options is move him to set up work and pursue a FA closer like BJ Ryan, Billy Wagner or Kyle Farnsworth. I suppose that's an option, but I don't think you're going to have too much luck pursuing guys that have already signed, or are about to. I know it's just a poll, but if 30,000 people are going to spend their time voting, the questions should at least be crafted so the answer has some meaning.

Polar Express

Rented Polar Express. Very disappointed. I'm a huge Robert Zemeckis fan (Forrest Gump, Contact, Back to the Future, Romancing the Stone, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, What Lies Beneath), and I'm also a big admirer of Tom Hanks (his daughter went to college with me). Unfortunately, the film doesn't work. It's tedious and outright boring. Worse, it's kind of depressing. The kids don't seem to have a connection to each other or to anyone else, and it just feels like this lonely empty universe full of colors but no human connection. I didn't find it creepy like some said, but it's not a "holiday classic," unfortunately. Thumbs down.

WWE Offends Many, Me Not So Much

WWE has gotten a lot of criticism over a pair of angles this week. The first was Vince McMahon referring to John Cena as a n****a in a comedy segment. I can understand why some people would be pissed off, but it didn't bother me. It was just stupid comedy about Vince being out of touch. That said, I never would have done the angle, because it would have been obvious going in some people would be offended, and there's no point in offending people when it accomplishes absolutely nothing. I also don't think WWE has earned a pass to do racial humor of that sort given their history of Saba Simba and Slick.

The other point of criticism was the angle on Smackdown. Rey dedicated a match in Eddie's memory, Big Show spit on Eddie's low rider, the car ended up being driven by Randy Orton, who effectively tried to kill Undertaker with it again. All of it was terribly tacky, but it didn't strike me as offensive. They weren't trying to sell PPVs with Eddie's name, which would be blatant exploitation of his death. They weren't disrespecting his memory, as Eddie was clearly the beloved face in all of this and we know how much Show cared about him already. The whole thing as I said was tacky, because it just came across as inappropriate the way they were invoking and using Guerrero's memory. But to be offensive to me they either have to try to make money off his death (Fritz Von Erich/his sons) or disrespect his memory (Louie Spicolli/Larry Zbyszko). In the absence of those factors, I can't come down too hard on Vince.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Davey Richards

I was reading a very good review of PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night One by Chris Vetter (, and he observed, "Davey Richards really impressed me; he is one of the better wrestlers I’m seeing in PWG that I’m not seeing anywhere else." This point bears repeating, so I figured I would add that again here. If you have not seen Davey Richards, this guy is going to be one of the top stars on the independents within a year and a half. He's pretty new to the business (just over a year), but he is damn good. He's got great intensity and is a really good wrestler. He's small and has a look kind of like Chris Sabin, so I don't know if he'll make it to WWE, but I would absolutely look to bring him in as a regular if I were TNA or ROH. Great talent.

Booker T

I'm watching the Smackdown Special, and it's hard to believe it's been over seven years since the first Booker/Benoit best of seven. It feels like they are repeating the gimmick too obviously, but upon further reflection many if not most current fans probably don't remember that series. It's a real shame that Booker T never was allowed to reach his full potential in WWE. He was so hot when he came in and feuded with Rock, and I think he had tremendous potential as a main event player. Now he's just kind of there. He's a solid wrestler, but he's never going to reach his full potential.

Same Old Met$

It feels like it's been 15 years now that the Mets have been throwing out money to past their prime players. Every year fans are taken in by the names and annoint them the NL East favorites. And most years they disappoint. Now the Mets are doing it again, taking on exorbitant contracts for Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to go along with past their prime and/or overpaid players like Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Kazuo Matsui and Cliff Floyd. Yes, if everyone on the team stays healthy and doesn't decline, they could be a beast. But that never happens when you have so many question marks. They never have the patience to build through the farm system, so it's just this endless cycle. Even if this team makes a run like the 2000 team, it won't last more than a year or two anyway. Do what Cleveland did. Punt for a year or two, turn it over to a GM with a vision, and then when you've got a core of young players, you throw around the money and fill up a championship team.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Detroit to Mariucci: You're Fiiiiiiiiired!

I don't really agree with this one. My problems are threefold. First, I don't see how two full years is enough to right a sinking ship. Detroit was in awful shape when Mariucci arrived. He's a good coach. I think you need more than that period to turn things around. That's frequently how it works with coaches, with Dick Vermeil in St. Louis and Kansas City immediately coming to mind. Second, I think more blame lies on the personnel decisions. As a Redskins fan, I root for Matt Millen to succeed, but he's made some very questionable decisions, both via free agency (Az-Zahir Hakim) and draft (WR after WR after WR). I just don't think they are that talented, and Joey Harrington has really stunted the growth of the franchise. Third, firing a coach in the middle of a season is always stupid, short of some sort of gigantic mutiny. It's tough for the new coach to establish the style of play he wants (even if he's a member of the previous staff), and there becomes a power vacuum where discipline is questionable and motivation is even more questionable. I don't understand why you don't at least let the coach finish the season, particularly when you owe him eight figures over the course of the rest of the contract. I'm not saying Mariucci is working in Detroit. But scapegoating him in the middle of a season to me is a very questionable move.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

MLB Madness

Let’s play the game of compare two players.

First, Player 1:

Born 1973, 460 1/3 innings, 3.58 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 52 saves, 107 holds
Last 2 years: 2.74 ERA/1.15 WHIP, 43 2/3 innings and 2.47 ERA/0.89 WHIP, 73 innings

Now, Player 2:

Born 1975, 381 1/3 innings, 3.54 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 42 saves, 73 holds
Last 2 years: 2.28 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 87 innings and 2.43 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 70 1/3 innings

These seem like pretty similar players, no? Frankly, it’s pretty amazing how evenly they match up. Both were free agents going into this offseason. You would think that they would command very similar demand, given they have performed just about as well throughout their careers, they are close to the same age, and they have performed just about as well the past couple years.

Well, you would be wrong. Player 1 is Bob Howry, who signed a 3 year, $12 million contract. Player 2 is B.J. Ryan, who signed a 5 year, $47 million contract. This is insanity.

I’ve been a big fan of BJ Ryan for a long time. He was the guy that turned me on Mike Hargrove. I liked Hargrove and wanted to see him succeed as O’s manager, but the one thing that drove me nuts was his handling of the bullpen, where he liked to play the percentages every batter and just jerk in and out pitcher after pitcher. It particularly bugged me with BJ Ryan, who obviously had electric stuff, but would be sent out there one batter at a time 10 straight days and couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm. So I like BJ and I think it’s another sad indictment of the inept Orioles management that this guy is entering free agency when they could have locked him up for a fraction of that amount relatively recently.

That said, BJ Ryan is no better pitcher than Bob Howry. They’re very comparable players. They shouldn’t be commanding wildly different amounts of money, but they do. Part of it is this infatuation with “stuff.” I can excuse that away partly because you can at least rationalize that a guy with better stuff has more upside and could become more dominant. But there is a long history of finesse pitchers who have very successful careers, and relying more on stuff also seems to carry with it more downside. But the bigger issue is actually the save statistic. The dumbest statistic in the history of sports. The most overrated statistic in the history of sports. The most idiotic measurement of pitching success ever conceived. And yet general managers still rely on this stupid thing to dictate decisions.

See, BJ Ryan was a closer last year, and Bob Howry wasn’t. Never mind that Howry actually has more career saves than Ryan. Ryan closed last year, so he’s a closer, damn it. Howry didn’t, and so he’s a middle reliever now. Middle relievers are a dime a dozen, but a closer is some sort of rare jewel. Ryan was a middle reliever two years ago, and he pitched well. They moved him to the ninth inning rather than the eighth, and shockingly, he still pitched well. And somehow this made him much more valuable.

It seems to me one run given up is still one run given up regardless of whether it is in the eighth inning or the ninth. And your odds of winning are reduced the same amount either way. To me, a bullpen is about finding good pitchers. Some guys will have problems with the pressure of the fictional mantel of closer, but there’s pressure in preserving a one run lead in the seventh as well. If I’m a general manager, I’m signing guys that can pitch, not guys with that elusive save statistic. And a bad team like the Blue Jays blowing large quantities of money on a closer is idiotic.

Let me just beat down this point by bringing Pitcher 3 into the equation:

Born 1977, 1076 2/3 innings, 4.83 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 35 saves, 3 holds
Last 2 years: 3.92 ERA/1.40 WHIP, 20 2/3 innings and 3.13 ERA/1.43 WHIP, 92 innings

This guy clearly seems inferior to the other two, so he must get less money, right? Wrong. He’s Ryan Dempster, who signed a 3 year, $15.5 million contract with the Cubs because he was the “closer” last year and somehow managed to preserve leads with a 1.43 WHIP. Never mind the guy was 6.54/1.76 in 2003. He’s a closer, damn it, and everyone knows a crappy pitcher who you pitch in the ninth is worth more than a good pitcher you pitch in the eighth.

Wanderlei Fan Club International

I saw someone wearing a Chute Boxe t-shirt in Beverly Hills yesterday. Maybe Pride does have a chance of drawing at Staples Center.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shawn Michaels Book

I finished Heartbreak and Triumph. I thought overall it was a good read. I came out not really liking Michaels all that much, because in spite of his professions about taking blame for things he did wrong, he seems to have excuses for everything, both on the micro level (The other guy was more to blame than me for that incident; it was all the dirt sheets' fault) and macro level (I'm a different person now, so I'm not really connected with that guy who did the bad things). That said, he takes you right through his career, and while he is manipulative, I don't think he is dishonest. The story flows well and it is fun getting his thoughts on the various points of his career. He loves the business, and that is going to help any book about wrestling. It doesn't feel like he is fully putting himself forward like Dynamite, Matt Hardy, Foley or Ole for that matter, but that is a common trend in a lot of wrestling books. I put the Michaels book solidly in the B category of wrestling books, an interesting read that you will enjoy picking up if you do, but not a special book or must read.

Wizards Win! Wizards Win!

After I declared how confident I was in the Wizards and how good they had looked last week, they lost five straight. How typical given the historic performance of my favorite teams. But then they came back and beat the Pistons last night. What a weird season. They've beaten the Pistons and the Spurs, but also lost five straight and are 6-6. I still think this is going to be a very good, but I think I'll be a little more cautious in my enthusiasm this time.

Right About Now

Another really strong album from Talib Kweli, my personal favorite rapper. I still don't understand why people didn't like Beautiful Struggle, which I thought was a fantastic album. But for those who didn't like the vibe of that album, this album has a feel more like his earlier albums. Kweli starts off by talking about his career with Right About Now, basically walking through his thoughts on the twists and turns and where he is now. He takes a shot at MCA/Geffen ("Rawkus got a deal with MC Eiht, it's the grey area/The letters stood for Music Cemetery of America/They tried to fool you by switching the name to Geffen/Now they're Interscope's bitch and every artist who had a chance left 'em"). One of his strongest traits is he actually talks about the things that he wants, as opposed to what he thinks a rapper should be talking about . The strongest section is in the middle of the album, with Fly That Knot (crazy hook), Ms. Hill, Supreme Supreme (with Mos Def) and The Beast. Ms. Hill is the best song on the entire album, and is a really courageous song. In the macho world of hip-hop, tributes to other artists are extremely rare. A tribute to someone who is still alive, and is a female to boot, is even more rare. It's a touching song where Kweli basically says how much Lauryn Hill means to him and the community. ("I wish I could talk to Lauryn/I mean, excuse me, Ms. Hill/And let her know how much we love her, it's real") ("What the album did for black girls' self esteem is so important") ("You give us hope, you give us faith, you the one/They don't like what you got to say/But still they beg you to come/Woah, now that's powerful sis, it's black power") I highly recommend the album, just like I highly recommend all of Kweli's albums. It's actually been a really good year for hip-hop, with Be, The Documentary, B.Coming, Late Registration, The Minstrel Show, and Right About Now.

Friday, November 25, 2005

New WWE Drug Testing Policy

I was originally planning to write a longer article on this, but things are hectic and I don't think I'm going to have the time to put something of a high enough quality together. So I figured I would just drop my thoughts here. Bottom line, I applaud Vince McMahon for moving in this direction, and I think it is going to be easier to implement testing than a lot of people think.

A lot of people who have been around pro wrestling for a while also have ties to body building. Vince McMahon does. Dave Meltzer does. A number of my friends into wrestling do. I don't, and I think the people that do often overrate the significance of bodies in pro wrestling. Dave said about the policy:

“The only true cure is this. Promoters can't push people based on physique, and judge talent for jobs based on physique. The public can't be impressed by talent with better physiques in thinking that helps make them bigger stars. The talent itself has to no longer care how their physique looks. All three are impossible in the business as we know it. There is no true cure, only an attempt to do the best possible on all accounts."

I think Dave seriously overestimates the importance of physique. Promoters not pushing people based on physique is easier to do now than at any other point in the history of the business in the US. Vince just snaps his fingers and that's it. There aren't a bunch of competing companies that build around those big men. Step one solved. The public I don't think cares about physiques nearly as much as other factors, and won't care as much about the smaller bodies as people think they will. And as I will explain, even if they do, that inclination will go down over time. Step two addressed. And the third step is falsely stated. The issue isn't that the talent no longer cares about their physique. The issue is that the talent has limits on what they will use to keep themselves looking healthy. This isn't a real sport where the drugs help performance. It's just aesthetic. So there isn't that same drive to cheat the system, particularly when promoters no longer push based on physique. The third step is the hardest to fulfill, but it isn't this daunting, unattainable goal.

I have never cared much about bodies in wrestling, so long as the person doesn't look like a slob. And frankly, I don't think the average wrestling fan does much either. WWF ushered in an era of the bodies, but that era is dead. In the 80s, people got over because they were jacked up (think Jim Hellwig). Today, everyone's jacked up, but it doesn't help them. Tomko, Snitsky and the like aren't over despite the juice. The guys that juice who are over are over for other reasons.

Wrestling has become much more about entertainment. Talking, charisma and wrestling ability are the most important factors. People don't care who looks the toughest. And all of this means that Vince has a lot clearer path to cleaning up the sport than he had in the past. Testing for steroids is far from perfect. People can beat the system easily just by using the right stuff. But if Vince stops pushing people based on physique and makes it clear he doesn't want people on the juice, the people who don't need it will get off and the people who do need it will be gone. And wrestling doesn't need anyone who has to juice to get over.

I don't think this is a threat to Vince's business either. TNA is built around smaller guys that can work. They aren't going to go with the huge physiques as some sort of competitive business model. The business in the US will stay the same, and the wrestlers' health will be better. It's a win win. Even better, once WWE starts, the system will naturally reinforce itself. As wrestlers get smaller, there will be less noticeable difference between the wrestlers' physiques, and thus the physiques won't matter as much to the fans. Independent testing that is administered in an even-handed way will also help to combat the problem very quickly. Vince may have his second thoughts after the first positive test of a major star, but he needs to stand strong.

This isn't to say wrestling's problems will go away. Some people will still need to use pain killers given the schedule and the grind. I'm not sure there is an easy solution to that. Vince has already pulled back a lot of the more dangerous moves in this interest, and reduced the travel schedule. Adding something in the policy to protect against abuse of painkillers is a positive, and hopefully it will help. Cardio tests are a great idea, and I was just talking with Mike Maiello about that last week prior to the announcement of this policy.

The wrestling business will still present health problems. But the policy being proposed by Vince is a big step in the right direction, and I don't view it with as much suspicion as some.

Wellington Mara

With Mara continuing to be lionized after his death, I'm sick of one point in particular. People keep saying that Mara lobbied for putting all owners on the same footing in the NFL, against his own interests. After all, he was in New York and had more resources than the other owners. This is tied to his benevolence and class. But this is all ridiculous. Mara argued for a more fair system because he knew as a businessman it would help the sport succeed, and if the sport succeeded he would do better. And he was absolutely right on that front. The Giants are now worth much more than they would have been if they didn't ever enact revenue sharing. In the short term it may have been bad for the Giants, but he saw the big picture and made a move that was in his best interests long term. Praise his vision, not his charity on that front.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be thankful you're not a turkey.

More Trades

Wow, this has been a pretty eventful offseason in MLB. It's surprising that the big superstars being traded aren't commanding more, given the dearth of quality talent available on the free agent market. Carlos Delgado and Jim Thome have been moved to the Mets and White Sox, respectively. Delgado's probably the better player to have, simply based on projected health. But the Phillies have much better alternatives behind Thome than the Marlins do behind Delgado. And the key is that it looks like the Phillies are picking up much more of Thome's contract than the Marlins are of Delgado. ESPN is reporting the White Sox will be on the hook for $21M over three years for Thome, which seems pretty reasonable to me. On the other hand, the Mets are on the hook for most of Delgado's backloaded contract. I don't know the quality of the Mets prospects, but Aaron Rowand is nothing to speak of (the White Sox have this history of generic 28 year old mid level outfielders). So bottom line, while I'd rather have Delgado than Thome, I like the deal for the White Sox more than for the Mets. That's particularly true given Minaya seems insistent on loading up on contracts of older players, which is not how to build a contender. I think you need to genuinely put a lot of money into the farm system and developing and signing young players, and then use that to build a team on up. Signing a bunch of veterans and getting on the hook for their 37 and 38 year old seasons is not how you build a contender to me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mystery Course

I filled out my spring schedule with Labor Law. Course description: "This course will focus on the federal law governing relations between private-sector employers and workers acting collectively through unions. We will study the structure, function and jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board, which administers federal private sector labor law. We will study union organizing, collective bargaining between unions and management, and the regulation of the economic force that workers and management may use in dispute resolution (including strike, picketing, and lockouts). " Feel free to insert your own cryptic remark here.

Double Dips

I was at Best Buy today to pick up the new Talib Kweli, and I was thinking of getting War of the Worlds on DVD. I noticed they had two versions. One was bare bones and the other purported to be limited edition with some extra features. The whole thing smelled like a setup for a triple dip at some point in the near future, so I passed. And it's kind of a sad statement for the studios, because for all I know there might not be another DVD of War of the Worlds planned. But I've become so deeply suspicious of the DVD makers that if I'm getting any kind of inkling a better DVD is coming out of a movie, I just won't buy the movie. The DVD producers have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. I used to purchase tons of DVDs. That process has slowed to a crawl this year just because I don't trust the manufacturers and I'm sick and tired of getting a DVD and then finding out there is a much better version out just a year later. It's too bad, because a little honesty would go a long way.

X-Box 360

Saw the new X-Box 360 today. The graphics look impressive, although they don't seem to me as much of a jump as the last generation was. I don't get why there is always such a furor around the release of new consoles. Everything is too damn expensive, and there's always tons of good stuff left from the previous generation. There are probably a good 50-100 games (if not more) for PS2, XBX and GC that I would like to play and haven't, so why rush to get a new system? I also never buy games new. Why pay $50 (now $60) when you can get the same product in a year and a half for $20? It's always struck me as bizarre.

Monday, November 21, 2005

WWE Off-Season

I was just reading through some wrestling sites and came across what I thought was a very bad article such that I wanted to comment. I don't want this whole thing to become too negative, so I won't mention where or who this is from, but just deal with the ideas. The basic proposal is for a WWE off-season. This is an idea I hear floated from time to time, mainly by people who haven't been following wrestling very long.

The idea can be dismissed really quickly. WWE has contracts that guarantee TV rights to UPN and USA, and they would violate those contracts by not providing television programming. Moreover, the loss of PPV, house show and TV revenue would be the difference between the company barely being in the black and being heavily in the red. Fiscally, it makes absolutely no sense and would threaten the financial stability of the company. But okay, let's assume that's not the case. You can violate the contracts without legal recourse, and you won't lose tens of millions of dollars. Then presumably there are some positives to be gained?

Well, the author doesn't really get into what those are, just mentioning Eddie Guerrero and the dangers of keeping wrestlers active. Of course, if the interest is the health of the wrestlers, this wouldn't pass a "narrow tailoring" test. The way to reduce the grind of wrestlers from 24 hour days/7 day weeks is to balance rest throughout the year. Then you don't lose any of the TV or PPVs, and you can give the wrestlers breaks periodically so they can recharge their batteries regularly, rather than kill themselves 10 months and then do nothing.

On top of that, I don’t think wrestlers would even want an offseason under the current pay system. Wrestlers have a downside and then make more the more they work. If the wrestlers all work less, then you either pay them all more and exacerbate the financial peril created by two months of less revenue, or you force them to take less pay “for their own good.” But okay, let’s assume that isn’t a problem, either. Even if you want to give wrestlers extended breaks regardless of the fiscal consequences, you can still fulfill that goal without an offseason. Give wrestlers breaks, and spread those out throughout the year. That would freshen up the card throughout the year, and would allow you to keep a full schedule. There is little harmful impact at any given point. There is more nonsense from there, but bottom line: WWE off-season is a stupid idea.

Garnett to Knicks?

Well, that's the tease on Not happening. Clearly just designed to grab attention and sell ESPN Insider. Rumors involving New York teams sell well in the media, but there actually has to be some sort of palatable trade. Knicks have almost nothing worth trading for, let alone giving up one of the best players in the NBA for. Stephon Marbury is their best player, and he basically forced his way out of Minnesota into a trade "home" to NJ. Sending him back to MN doesn't sound like a good idea. And just about everyone else on the roster is overpaid, overrated, and with some sort of fatal flaw to boot. It's full of trash, and the only way to overhaul the roster is just to do more of what they've been doing: dump your trash in exchange for another team's trash. KG is not trash. What do the Knicks offer? Channing Frye and first round draft picks for 15 straight years?

Beckett Update

Well, apparently the previous trade fell through, and Mike Lowell & Josh Beckett are going to the Red Sox for Hanley Ramirez and another prospect. Not nearly as interesting a trade as the other one. It's the typical MLB trade where a team with money gets players in exchange for taking on substantial salary and prospects.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Beckett/Blalock Trade ran a story from the Palm Beach Post that a deal is close to being reached for a Marlins/Rangers blockbuster with Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell going to Texas for Hank Blalock and Texas' 2003 or 2004 top draft pick. I think it's a heck of an interesting trade for both teams. I think if it goes through the perception will be that Texas got the better of the deal, just because it's hard to get a hold of quality young pitching and Beckett has ace makeup when he is on. But really I think the trade could go either way. The key is Lowell. If last year was a fluke and Lowell returns to his level of play from previous years, Texas will likely win. He can replace Blalock and they potentially add an ace. The problem is Lowell looked like a deteriorating player last year, and he's got a big contract. The Rangers were essentially forced to take him. At the point you take on an $8M contract and give up a 25 year old slugger, you need to get quality in return, and Beckett has been often injured and has never put it together for a full season. As such, the deal probably has more downside for the Rangers. As far as the Marlins go, they wanted to dump the Lowell contract for payroll flexibility and Beckett has been a disappointment for much of his career. The problem is the reason they have been able to contend is that young pitching, and now much of it (Pavano, Burnett, Beckett) is gone. Plus, while I love Blalock, he had an offseason last year and he's been playing in a hitter's park. It's not a given he's going to keep rising. I think he will, and acquiring a big time slugger at his low trade value for his years at age 26 and 27 to me makes a lot of sense. It makes Florida more confident to potentially trade away Carlos Delgado, which has been the talk for much of the early offseason.

UFC Last Night

Last night may have been a turning point for UFC. After going along with the idea for a while now that they can just throw any fight out on PPV and expect it to do okay, they finally brought back some fighters to sell PPVs. Very smart move on their part. As outlined yesterday, Tito and Shamrock as TUF coaches is a fantastic idea and sets up all sorts of fights. It looks like they are going to make Tito vs. Forrest Griffin first, which is another fight that I think will generate interest. Plus they brought back B.J. Penn, which creates a stacked WW division with Hughes, St. Pierre, and Penn along with Sanchez, Diaz, Parisyan, Riggs, etc. And Mir vs. Arlvosky is on, which is at least a decent HW fight. Of course I expect Arlovsky to run straight through him, but it's a fight some people have been wanting to see. As far as the show itself, I thought it was pretty good. Certainly not amongst the best UFC shows, but enough interesting stuff, and the Franklin KO of Quarry was sick.


Got my tickets to the ROH show today. When I checked out, the shipping came to $7. I thought that was kind of ridiculous, but approved paying that amount. Well, they took off the charge for shipping altogether, so they even paid for the stamp, which I thought was a classy move by them that I appreciated.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Word on the streets is that UFC might have reached an agreement with Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz to be the coaches for Ultimate Fighter Season 3. Granted, this is coming from Sherdog, so take it with a grain of salt, but this is the best possible move UFC could make for business. Shamrock and Ortiz would make for really interesting television and would do strong ratings. They would also help to draw the pro wrestling fans week in and week out. Then at the end you have Ortiz vs. Shamrock II, which is a big money match even if from an athletic standpoint there really isn't any reason for it to take place. Then the coup de gras is that after Ortiz wins, he's set up perfectly for a rematch with Chuck Liddell, which might do the biggest buy rate in UFC history. It's an absolute no-brainer for Zuffa.

And while they are at it, it is time to sign Quinton "Rampage" Jackson already. I have a total pro wrestling image for bringing him into UFC. You sign him and announce him as soon as possible. He makes his debut at UFC 57 underneath Liddell vs. Couture III in the biggest squash you can come up with. Give him Elvis Sinosic or some such nonsense. He wins his match convincingly, and the announcers talk him up huge. Then you plan an angle for the end of the show (I know, I know...). After Liddell or Couture wins, you let them do their whole thing and treat everything like normal. Then the last question that they both know is coming regardless of who wins from Joe Rogan is "who would you like to face next?" The stock answer for either is, "I don't know, I've beaten everyone in UFC. I don't see many challenges left." At that point you cue up a video package on the screen of Rampage (and show footage of him beating Chuck if Chuck wins), and Rampage comes in and challenges the winner to close the show. UFC would never do that in a million years, but it's money. At that point you've got UFC 57 being big money (Chuck v. Randy), UFC 58 being big money (Tito v. Shamrock), UFC 59 being big money (Chuck/Randy v. Rampage), and UFC 61 being the biggest money of all (Tito v. Chuck, regardless of if Chuck is champ).

Smackdown Title

So it looks like WWE is putting the strap on Randy Orton. To me that doesn't feel right. Orton still hasn't regained the momentum he had prior to HHH punking him out. Plus, with the injury of Batista, the death of Eddie, the absence of Undertaker, and the departure of Christian, Smackdown needs a fresh new direction in order to feel like an important show. If you have the same guys headlining, only less of them, the crowd notices and misses the absence of the guys who are gone. The better approach is to build around new people so the fans aren't constantly reminded of the guys who aren't there. This is essentially what WWF did when it elevated Bret Hart in 1992, and was the problem with WCW in 1999 building around Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and the like. The problem now is that the WWE roster is much thinner than it was in the past, because they have let a lot of really talented guys go, and they have buried many of the rising guys. There are only nine guys on SD who have the potential to be put in a high position right now: Benoit, JBL, Kennedy, Lashley, Booker, Hardy, Orton, Rey and Regal. If I were WWE, I would be tempted to do something radical. Perhaps have Shelton Benjamin beat Kurt Angle on Raw, "jump" to Smackdown, and win the title from Orton next week. That isn't a perfect solution either, obviously, but I think Smackdown needs a face lift, and the easiest way to do that is to create a new face of the promotion.

PWG Report

PWG All Star Weekend 2: Electric Boogaloo Night One Results

The best independent promotion in the country not run by Gabe Sapolsky held another typically strong show on Friday evening. The first half of the show was among the best shows I have seen all year, and among the best PWG has ever put out. Between the crowd being so into the first half, the show going long, and some problems with the finishing sequences, the post-intermission matches weren’t able to live up to the start. The best matches on the show were probably Chris Sabin vs. Petey Williams and El Generico vs. Jack Evans.

One of the things I really liked about this show is that the matches told distinct stories. One of the strengths of ECW as a sort of model for independent wrestling is that they would feature a number of distinct styles on the show so each match would feel different. This show had that vibe, with a comedy match (Excalibur/Disco Machine vs. Romero/Perkins), technical match (Williams vs. Sabin), brawl (S. Dragon/Richards vs. B-Boy/Ronin), high flying match (Evans vs. Generico), storyline feud (6-Man) and strong style match (Steen vs. Joe).

The crowd was strong, but didn’t look as overwhelming as some of the previous biggest cards. I would estimate in at around 400. As usual, the show got started late, 8:35PM, and ended late, 12:30AM. That’s the one thing PWG really needs to work on, because the late starts and really long cards burn out the crowd to some degree every single show. They had a ten bell salute for Eddie Guerrero prior to the show, and there were chants for Eddie.

1. Excalibur and Disco Machine beat Rocky Romero and TJ Perkins via disqualification. Excalibur at the start of the match was riding Romero verbally for his Black Tiger persona in New Japan. No attention was brought to the fact that Romero now uses the gimmick Guerrero once did. Rocky responded with kicks. Disco and Perkins tagged in. Perkins used a drop toe hold spot, and then set up Excalibur for a chase around the ring and over Disco, straight out of midget matches. Perkins applied a camel clutch, but Excalibur broke it up.

After an extended period of stalling by Excalibur and Disco, Excalibur received chops, punches and kicks from Romero. Perkins came in with a body slam and knee off the second rope for a two. He hit a fisherman suplex and swung into a side cradle for another two, and used a series of unsuccessful pinning attempts. Excalibur used some Muay Thai knees from the clinch and tagged in Disco. Disco used a scoop slam, a springboard moonsault, and a camel clutch of his own on Perkins.

Excalibur tagged in and used a double knee to the stomach, then Disco came back in with a snap suplex and chin lock. He hit an elbow drop for a near fall. Excalibur came back in with a nasty German suplex, but Romero broke up the pin. Perkins hit a brainbuster and made the tag. Romero hit a shining wizard and hard chops. He used a victory roll into an ankle lock on Excalibur, but Disco broke it up. Perkins tagged and applied the Texas cloverleaf to Excalibur. Excalibur tapped but the referee didn’t see it as Disco and Romero brawled on the floor.

Perkins went to hit a frog splash off the top, but Disco held him and prevented him from jumping. Eventually Perkins got free and hit the frog splash, but the referee called for the bell. He said Perkins was counted out on the top rope, which was a weak finish, particularly given PWG has 20 counts and it certainly wasn’t evident that the referee counted to 20.

2. Petey Williams beat Chris Sabin. Williams prior to the match took some shots at Canada, which was of course a setup for him going heel by refusing to use the Canadian Destroyer. He instead vowed to use the dreaded swinging neck breaker. Sabin and Williams used chain wrestling early, and Sabin went after the arm. Both went for pinning attempts, and they did a series of clever spots where they would go for the same move every time. Sabin used a spinning head scissors, and drop kick off the apron to the floor. He chopped Williams on the floor, and let members of the audience chop Williams. This one kid really walloped him. It was very amusing.

Sabin hit a drop kick off the top, but Williams turned the tide, sending Sabin to the floor. He hit a pescado into a huracanrana. He followed that up with a suplex, a northern lights suplex, and a back breaker. Sabin retaliated with forearms, but Williams hit a neck breaker and then the infamous swinging neck breaker. Sabin somehow kicked out. Williams put Sabin in the tree of woe, but as he climbed on the ropes to do unspeakable things, Sabin power bombed him off. They traded forearms. Sabin used an exploder, an enzuigiri and a Liger bomb, which was an awesome sequence.

Sabin went for the superplex but was thrown off, and Williams hit a huracanrana off the top. Sabin had Williams up for splash mountain but flipped him into a DDT. Williams came back with a side Russian leg sweep. Williams teased the Canadian Destroyer but used a stunner instead for a near fall. Williams rolled up Sabin and put his feet on the ropes, but Sabin kicked out. Sabin went for La Magistral but Williams countered and put his feet on the ropes again for the win. This was an excellent match.

3. Frankie Kazarian beat Christopher Daniels. They felt each other out early. Daniels used an arm drag, body slam and elbow drop. Kazarian came back with an arm drag, spinning toe hold, and head lock. They went out to the outside together, and Daniels tried to throw Kazarian into the post. Kazarian pulled up, but then pretended to run into the post. Daniels rolled back in the ring and celebrated, but Kazarian snuck in quickly and rolled him up for a near fall. I really liked that spot.

Kazarian hit a swinging neck breaker. Daniels went for the Angel’s wings “as seen on Spike TV,” but Kazarian got out and hit an enzuigiri. He followed that up with a DDT, but Daniels stopped him with a uranage. Daniels hit a crossbody off the top rope, but Kazarian rolled through for the pin. They shook hands after the match and did the Jeff Jarrett style strut together.

Daniels works much safer than most people on PWG cards, and takes it easy on his body. I don’t fault him at all for that, because he is on the verge of breaking out on the national scene, I think he is a phenomenal talent, and it is smart to keep his body from falling apart. However, the differences in what wrestlers are willing to do on these shows are often very evident.

4. Super Dragon and Davey Richards beat Ronin and B-Boy. Excalibur came out prior to the match and said that Gunning for Hookers were suspended for violating the PWG drug policy (which was a joke since their gimmick is that they are coke addicts). Excalibur said he hand picked two guys to soften Richards and Dragon up for their tag title match with Disco and Excalibur today. B-Boy was a former tag partner of Super Dragon in PWG, and Ronin is a typical ally of Excalibur and Disco Machine. This broke out into a brawl at the very beginning. Richards hit a tope. Richards and Dragon did simultaneous kicks and chops on Ronin on the outside.

Dragon hit a stiff chair shot on Ronin, and a suplex on the floor. He gave him another chair shot. Ronin came back with a back breaker on Richards and tagged B-Boy. He hit a chop and spit at Dragon. He used a suplex and went for the cover. B-Boy and Richards traded kicks. B-Boy hit an enzuigiri and tagged Ronin. Richards used a hand spring elbow into an enzuigiri of his own and tagged Dragon. Dragon hit a double foot stomp off the top on Ronin. He used a series of brutal chops and low blow. He hit a hard belly to back suplex, and was just brutalizing poor Hello Kitty, as Ronin is ineffectually, err, affectionately known.

Things didn’t get better, as Dragon delivered the curb stomp. Dragon knocked B-Boy off the apron, took his place, and pretended to be B-Boy calling for the tag. However, Ronin realized what was going on, slapping Dragon and hitting a DDT. He hit a forearm on Richards and tagged B-Boy. B-Boy hit a spinning heel kick and drop kick to Richards. B-Boy and Dragon traded chops. Dragon got the STF on B-Boy and Richards got the crippler crossface on Ronin. Ronin and B-Boy responded with stereo Spicolli drivers on Richards and Dragon.

B-Boy hit a scorpion death drop on the apron to Super Dragon. Richards hit kicks and a German suplex on Ronin in the ring. Dragon applied the dragon sleeper to B-Boy. They did a series of four clotheslines where each guy laid out another. Dragon hit a tiger suplex on B-Boy and the double foot stomp off the top to the head. He then ran across the ring into a somersault plancha to Ronin on the floor. In the ring Dragon went for the psycho driver, but B-Boy hit a shining wizard. Ronin hit a power bomb for a near fall.

Dragon put Ronin in a power bomb position, Richards dove off the top rope onto Ronin’s back, and Dragon power bombed Ronin into Richards’ legs. This was an awesome spot. Ronin kicked out. Dragon gave Ronin a psycho driver onto B-Boy and Richards hit a shooting star press on Ronin for the pin. These four worked really hard. Richards after the match returned to the ring to pay tribute to Eddie Guerrero. You could clearly see how much it meant to him, and that he wanted to do credit to Eddie’s memory.

5. Jack Evans beat El Generico. Evans has his limitations, but I don’t understand why he isn’t a special attraction for a major promotion. He is the most spectacular high flyer in North America by a wide margin. Prior to the match Evans did some really impressive break dancing. It was so good that it had a demoralizing effect on Generico. Generico responded with the worm. They used some mat wrestling early, with Evans going after an arm bar. Generico hit a back breaker and chop. Generico hit a somersault senton off the apron onto Evans for a two.

Evans came back with a neck breaker, a chop and an elbow. He hit a handspring elbow, but Generico fought back with a chop and a double jump moonsault to the floor. At this point they went balls to the wall. Evans hit a handspring elbow across the ring into a moonsault over the ropes, catching Generico in a huracanrana on the floor. At least that’s the best way I can describe it. Back in the ring Evans hit a standing 450 splash. Generico went for the top rope brainbuster, but Evans got out. Generico hit two consecutive running boots to the face. He lifted Evans for a brainbuster which he turned into a Michinoku Driver.

Generico evoked Konnan, as he took off and threw Evans’ shoes. Evans wrestled the rest of the match in his socks. Generico hit a power bomb for a near fall. Generico went for the top rope brainbuster twice, but Evans hit a reverse huracanrana off the top for a near fall. Evans hit a 360 rotation dive off the top into a DDT for another awesome two. Finally he hit a 630 splash for the pin. The crowd chanted “that was awesome,” and gave both a standing ovation. This was the show stealer.

6. Jimmy Yang beat Bryan Danielson. Danielson plays his role of subtle 70s heel champion ala Dory Funk, Jr. or Nick Bockwinkel so well. Yang was wearing an armband for Eddie Guerrero. Yang and Danielson traded arm drags early. Danielson hit a drop kick, and Yang used an enzuigiri. Danielson teased walking out, and informed the referee he had a 20 count. Yang hit a crescent kick for a near fall, and continued the offensive with a suplex. Danielson hit the European uppercut, and Yang in trying to respond ran into the post and went to the outside. Danielson went to the outside and threw Yang into me. I’m not sure if he was aiming for the seat next to me or not.

Danielson back in the ring hit a belly to back suplex and worked on the arm. They traded chops. Danielson used la tapatia. He teased doing another, but then refused. He got into a series of arguments with the referee, reminding the referee that he has a 5 count to break. Yang kicked Danielson as he was coming into the corner, and hit a moonsault. He went for another, but he got crotched by Danielson. Danielson hit a belly to back suplex off the top. They traded forearms, with Danielson bleeding from the mouth. Danielson hit a clothesline. He went for cattle mutilation, but Yang was able to escape.

Danielson did a 30 revolution airplane spin, and then stumbled around in a comedic manner. He missed a splash off the top and Yang hit a corkscrew moonsault. Danielson applied the crossface chicken wing and locked his arms, but Yang got to the ropes. Danielson went for a belly to back suplex off the top again, but it was reversed by Yang in mid-air. I think this was supposed to be the finish, because Danielson didn’t kick out, but the referee stopped the count at two anyway. Yang quickly composed himself, slammed Danielson, and hit a corkscrew splash for the pin.

7. Scorpio Sky, Quicksilver and Dino Winwood beat Chris Bosh, Joey Ryan and Scott Lost. Bosh has inexplicably become one of the most over faces in the promotion, and was the biggest face in this match despite being in a heel faction. Scorpio and Ryan started. Ryan worked on the arm, and Scorpio applied a crossface. Scorpio got full mouth and hammered Ryan with forearms, before attempting an arm bar. Ryan was able to avoid having the arm extended. Both went for drop kicks, and made the tag to Bosh and Quick.

Bosh and Quick had a test of strength. Quick climbed up Bosh onto his shoulders, and then hit a huracanrana, which was impressive. Scorpio tagged in and hit a sunset flip on Bosh for a near fall. He cranked Bosh’s neck for a Quick drop kick. Lost came in with a spear, and Bosh applied the testicular claw to Quick. He tagged Ryan, who used an elbow to the back and drop kick to Quick. Lost tagged in for a head lock, Bosh came in with a fisherman suplex, Lost came back for a choke, and Ryan tagged back in to brawl and choke. Quick got Ryan up in a fireman carry into a Michinoku Driver and tagged Scorpio.

Scorpio came in with knees to the midsection of Bosh. He hit a back breaker on Bosh and forearms and drop kicks on Lost. Ryan gave Scorpio a superkick, and dove to the outside on Quick. Scorpio tagged Dino. He used the flip, flop and fly on Bosh, and a spine buster on Lost. He traded forearms with Ryan. Ryan raked his face, but Dino did the matrix move and hit a spear. He hit a power bomb, but Bosh gave him an ace crusher. Quick and Scorpio threw Bosh and Lost to the outside, and hit stereo planchas. Dino dove off the top to the floor with a crossbody on the other five, which was quite the spectacle given Dino is a short, obese 280 pound man.

The heels brought a steel chair into the ring and tried to get Scorpio disqualified, but the referee wouldn’t call for the DQ. He then looked away when Scorpio hit Lost with the chair. Scorpio hit a reverse huracanrana on Ryan. Quick hit a spine buster on Bosh. Finally, Dino hit a swinging neck breaker off the top, which took forever to setup, on Ryan for the pin. After the match Scorpio brutally attacked Lost with the chair. They seem to be teasing some form of a double or triple turn.

8. Kevin Steen retained the PWG Title by defeating Samoa Joe. Joe slapped Steen at the onset, and used head butts to Steen’s hand. He applied a hammerlock/arm bar/half crab combination. Steen tried to knock down Joe twice with shoulder blocks unsuccessfully, so he slapped Joe twice. Joe used a bunch of slaps, and hit a superkick on the floor. He followed up with kicks, and they traded chops. Steen began bleeding from the mouth. Steen hit a somersault plancha from the ring to the outside. Back in the ring he hit a standing somersault leg drop.

Steen choked Joe, but Joe came back with a uranage, punches, kicks, and a knee drop. He used a crucifix cradle for a two. Steen used a head butt but hurt himself. Steen used a superkick and heel kick. Steen missed an elbow off the second rope. Joe went for a kick to the head, but Steen rammed his leg into the post. He went after the leg with a leg drag and half crab.

Joe came back with chops, a jaw breaker, and senton. He hit a power bomb for a near fall, and then turned the position into an STF. Joe continued with stiff forearms and chops. Steen hit the downward spiral, and two moonsaults, but Joe kicked out. Joe went for the muscle buster, but Steen got out. Steen went for the pile driver, but Joe got out. Joe hit the Spicolli driver, and they traded forearms. Joe applied the Kokina clutch but Steen broke it with a low blow. Steen went for the pile driver again. Joe got out and went for the Samoan drop, but Steen rolled through for a sloppy pin.

Friday, November 18, 2005

ESPN is such a joke

I've been a critic of ESPN for a long time. Essentially, I think about 3 years ago they crossed the line from bringing entertainment into sports analysis into promoting themselves over the actual sports. Screamin A' Smith, Playmakers, the Pete Rose "trial," etc. are all evidence of this negative trend. So much of ESPN programming is just geared towards ratings and the brand name, and to me they should have at least some semblance of journalistic integrity. This ongoing Terrell Owens story is yet another example. The number one person to blame for this mess is T.O. Number two is probably Drew Rosenhaus. But three is probably ESPN. It seems like two years now that they will have a T.O. story on every show every day of the week. They ask every relevant actor probing questions over and over again, and when they say something that can be spun and talked about, that is the next big spin. It honestly isn't that big of a story. But they are doing what the network news does, where they pick some random story that they think can get people to tune in, and then they hype it and hype it and hype it until people really do care. Give it a rest already, ESPN.

Michaels Book

I picked up the Shawn Michaels book today, along with Al Franken's new book. I'm reading through the HBK book relatively quickly. I expect to get through a good portion of it standing in line for PWG tonight (Houston Mitchell was supposed to catch the show with me but he had a couple of deaths in the family, so I'm going solo). I'm tempted to write something about it for the Observer site, but I doubt I will have enough time. So far, I find the story interesting, but Michaels rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully that will change, because Michaels has always been a favorite of mine in the ring, and I've excused away some of his flaws outside the ring. The problem in the book is he's still very much into passing off blame onto others, which is a weird trend if you are supposedly at peace with yourself. He acknowledges he frequently acted like a jackass, but every incident he describes there is someone else who was really to blame for that particular problem. I also am always somewhat leary of the story of the young man who acts like a total jackass and finds God and God changes his life (DiBiase, Blanchard, Sting). You can be a good person and be responsible as a young man without "finding God." Personal responsibility and making good choices to me having nothing to do with youth or religion. Young people make good choices as well as bad ones. Old people make bad choices as well as good ones. Christians make bad choices as well as good ones. And non-Christians make good choices as well as bad ones.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I've got most of my schedule set for the upcoming semester. I'm taking Sports Law, Women in the Law, an International Politics and Law Colloquium, Entertainment Law and the dreaded mystery course. The mystery course will depend on what's left when my next time to pick classes opens up. I may be spreading myself too thin with five classes, but the classes I wanted were 2 and 3 unit courses, and it was either take five classes, take too few credits, or take classes I didn't want to. So I went with the former option. It also looks like I'll be doing research assistance work for a faculty member as well, not to mention the three journals I'm an editor for and moot court. Okay, so I probably should have removed "may be" from the previous comment about spreading myself too thin. I'm an idiot. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot.

Shawn Michaels on Raw

I got some (polite) criticism about my comments on Shawn Michaels Monday. The point I was making wasn't that I wanted religion out of the discussion, or Shawn saying Eddie is with God was in any way problematic to me. A lot of the wrestlers said that, and that's cool. The specific thing that bothered me was just how Shawn was saying the locker room was united behind Jesus. There you're projecting your religion on others at a tough time, and that doesn't strike me as fair. Not a huge deal, but I wasn't a big fan of the comments.


I ordered my tickets for the 12/17 ROH show with KENTA and Marufuji yesterday. Should be a blast. I'm getting into DC after my exams on the 16th, and then driving up with my boy X the next day. Plus I get to see an old college friend at the show and give him back his luggage (boy is that a sad and ridiculous story), so it should be a good time. Don't know if I'm looking forward more to that or PWG this weekend.

Cameron Trade

I think I may be in the minority here, but I like the Mets' side of the deal in the Cameron-Nady trade. The Mets have always had a problem taking on bad contracts for mediocre players, and it gluts the roster with effectively dead money (this is a NY thing in general- think Rangers; Knicks). So when they can get rid of one of those players, it's always a positive. There seemed to be a lot of interest in Cameron, but all the deals I heard proposed were those salary dump deals where you have to take on a bad contract. The Padres apparently are going to pay the rest of Cameron's awful salary, and the Mets get a decent prospect in Nady. I think that's a winner for Minaya.

UFC This Weekend

Saw the original odds for UFC this weekend, and then the revised odds. The money pretty much went in the direction I expected it every time. I see Rich Franklin vs. Nate Quarry and Matt Hughes vs. Joe Riggs essentially being squash matches, which is fine I guess. They're interesting enough matches even if I don't see the challengers winning. Quarry just isn't as good as Franklin, and I expect a first round KO. Riggs is damn good and is powerful, so maybe he'll be able to offset Hughes' strength somewhat. Problem is, Hughes will still get him down. I'd like to see Riggs pull off the upset, but I would find it surprising. Sherk-St. Pierre is the best matchup. I have to root for my boy GSP, but Sherk is a formidable challenge. Still, St. Pierre was very comfortable on the ground against Matt Hughes, and he dominated Frank Trigg. Those guys are pretty much the same mold as the Muscle Shark, so St. Pierre should be ready. Sherk isn't the most exciting of fighters, but he's no pushover. Horn vs. Prangley is a very interesting matchup. Prangley is an underrated fighter. That guy is damn good in all facets of the game, and he's naturally a big guy. Horn better come in ready fully or he might not be back in UFC in a while. Horn was initially a ridiculous favorite, but the money is coming in on Prangley. After that it's not much of a card. UFC no longer feels the need to deliver 8 interesting fights at every card like they used to. They fill up the main card with 4 or 5 interesting fights and then throw whoever on the undercard, which is discouraging for us hardcores, but probably doesn't have any affect whatsover on business. Still, I don't get as excited for UFC when they don't have a deeper lineup. That's what drew me into MMA: these deep cards with 8 fights that were all interesting. It's somewhat different than pro wrestling where you have the money match and then throw everything else together. I miss shows like UFC 43, where you had Kimo-Tank, Yves Edwards, Belfort-Eastman, White-Freeman, Frank Mir, Matt Lindland and Rizzo-Telligman all under Couture-Liddell. That's an extra four interesting fights over the current format.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Still Can't Believe It

I'm not a religious person. I'm not hostile towards the positive messages that can come from spirituality, but I tend not to think there is some greater meaning to life. There's nothing reassuring about death. Life is such a precious miracle, and to see special people leave the Earth before they are fully able to leave their mark depresses the hell out of me. Eddie Guerrero was a special performer, and everything I have ever seen about the man makes me think he was a special human being. I wish he were still around.

More on Guerrero has a press conference up with Vince McMahon and Chavo Guerrero discussing Eddie's death. It's weird to watch. There's a little bit too much strategic framing of the situation for me, with Vince seemingly dictating to Chavo the stance to take and trying to get across the talking points. Nothing patently offensive or anything like that, though. There is additional news on Eddie's death at, and Tonight they are going to do tribute shows to Eddie for Raw and Smackdown. It's a really sad situation.

Another Melancholy Farewell

I cried. I don’t know why, but I cried.

I haven’t cried upon hearing of the death of a wrestler in six years, and there have been tons. Hawk, Curt Hennig, Elizabeth, Rick Rude and Davey Boy Smith all have special places in my childhood memories. But I haven’t been this emotionally overwhelmed since watching Over the Edge 1999 and witnessing a horrible scene unfold before my eyes and in my imagination.

Maybe it’s because the past few years have brought fewer deaths. While there was a seeming flood of premature deaths from 1997-2003, it seemed the trend was at least slowing down. While there were exceptions such as Chris Candito, Shinya Hashimoto, Hercules and Ray Traylor, 2004 and 2005 have not featured as much tragedy in professional wrestling. That makes Eddie Guerrero’s death all the more jarring, particularly for those who remember all the previous deaths. We have for the most part put out of our consciousness the possibility of another young wrestler dying with no notice or warning when we go to check wrestling news on a normal Sunday morning.

Maybe it’s because it evokes so many bad memories. He was found dead in his hotel room in Minnesota on a Sunday late in the year, just like Brian Pillman. Their stories are strikingly similar, of smaller wrestlers who became bigger stars than anyone would have predicted only to have their stories end too soon. His death came eleven years and ten days after an even more familiar death, that of his old tag partner Art Barr, also way too young. Guerrero made it past that point. He should have died an old man.

Maybe it’s because I watched him live two weeks ago today. In front of a shockingly strong crowd at Staples Center, Guerrero seemed in great spirits. He was the most popular performer on the show. Guerrero had become one of the most beloved wrestlers in North America to the Hispanic audience. Guerrero was a natural heel, and yet attempts to turn him heel in recent years consistently failed because the audience liked him too much. This death is going to hit a lot of people hard.

Maybe it’s because I just watched the Jake Roberts DVD on Friday. Built heavily around substance abuse, Roberts spoke about the demons that haunted him over the years. Perhaps the most resonant message of the story was how unfair life can be. Roberts talked about all the wrestler deaths, and he said when he heard about them he wished he was the one to go. He spoke of a failed attempted suicide. People who want to die should be able to die on their own terms, and people who want to live should at least be able to get their fair time. But that’s not the way life works.

Maybe it’s because I feel responsible in part for his death. Many of us who followed Guerrero’s troubles over the years knew that the professional wrestling business was not the healthiest environment for him. There are too many temptations, and too many pressures. Guerrero had faced problem after problem over the years due to those same issues. He might have been better off getting out. Yet, many of us pretended those issues didn’t exist. I always loved Guerrero as a performer. I selfishly wanted to see him perform, so I helped to encourage him to continue. If he hadn’t done so, he might still be alive.

Maybe it’s because it looked like Guerrero had conquered his demons. He spoke about them on a WWE produced UPN special and DVD, ironically titled “Cheating Death, Stealing Life.” This was supposed to be a story with a happy ending. Our enduring memory of Guerrero was supposed to be him winning the WWE Title and embracing Chris Benoit in the middle of the ring at the conclusion of WrestleMania XX. Instead, we are left wondering what could have been. Worse, there is the matter of Guerrero’s family, which has already been through so much and will have to go through so much more.

When Guerrero won the WWE Title from Brock Lesnar a year and nine months ago, I wrote an article about his career:

While the tone of the piece was celebratory, I ended it on something of a cautionary note, observing, “There are no guarantees for Guerrero. Just because he has made it this far does not guarantee he will have a happy ending. He needs to stay the course, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

To me, it doesn’t matter whether Guerrero “succumbed to his demons” or was “a victim of his past excesses.” This introduces a simplistic guilty/innocent dichotomy that just isn’t true to real life experiences. Conquering addiction is difficult enough when you are not on a difficult travel schedule with pressure to maintain too big of a physique and take a lot of bumps. It’s still a story of a man taken way too early, and under all too familiar circumstances.

I’m not sure why I cried. But for whatever reason, the death of Eddie Guerrero this morning brought tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart. What an awful morning.

Gilbert Arenas

I have more faith in the Washington Wizards right now than I have had in them at any point in my lifetime. After a thrashing of the Sonics and a pretty solid win over the Spurs, the Wizards look like a legitimate player in the Eastern Conference. Bringing in Eddie Jordan and Ernie Grunfeld was inspired hiring by the front office, and they need to re-sign Jordan right now. It shouldn't be too hard given he is a DC native and likes his current group of players.

Gilbert Arenas is turning into an MVP level talent. I'm always suspicious of point guards that like to shoot too much, but Arenas is a winner and a team player. This is a guy who has increased his scoring average every year of his career (10.9, 18.3, 19.6, 25.5, 28.5), and has also seen his teams improve every single year (GS 21-61, 38-44; WAS 25-57, 45-37, 5-1). This is a special player, and Antawn Jamison is right in saying he still doesn't get the respect he deserves.

The one missing piece for the Wizards is a low post threat. Brendan Haywood is turning into a formidable defender, but he doesn't have the offensive touch. They could use a solid big man who can consistently take it to the hole. Of course, that isn't a commodity that is easy to come by. And no, Kwame Brown was not the solution. That guy is a bum and a cancer, and getting rid of him was a fantastic move.

Get Rich or Die Trying

I have not seen this film nor do I plan to in theaters. But it strikes me that reading through the awful reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, a lot of the reviewers missed the point. It seems many of them are under the impression 50 is a talented rapper who can't act. But that isn't the story. 50 is a talentless act who can't do basically anything. He got extremely lucky by having the right story, and getting the right friends at the right time (Eminem to bring him to the public eye and Dr. Dre to give him incredible beats for his first album). Without that security blanket, 50 hasn't produced any work that I would label "good," and I don't see that changing any time soon. He's a pop fraud on the level of the biggest frauds of the past 15 years, but luckily I think people are catching on.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mrs. Bowden

The clear highlight for me in what was a great day of college football was during the Clemson-FSU game. They had Bobby Bowden's wife/Tommy Bowden's mother in the stands, and they were asking her about her allegiances. She said that she was having doubts about coming to the game, but then decided the right thing to do was to stick by her husband. And this clearly was a bit of a surprise for at least some of the announcers, who surely expected, "I'm just rooting for a good game" type answer. So she got a followup question, and she really drove home the point. She essentially said she likes to see both of them do well, but ultimately her loyalties are to her husband. I have to give her props for that one. She speaks her mind. She may be an awful mother, but she speaks her mind.

Jake Roberts DVD

I watched the new WWE Jake Roberts DVD a couple of days ago, and it was very entertaining. I would just as soon have had them feature no matches and just include 100 interviews. Roberts was brilliant on the mic, and the DVD covers a lot of ground on who he is. It's yet another in the string of strong WWE DVDs. I give WWE major credit for its handling of DVDs. They have one fantastic release after another and do such a good job of taking advantage of their tape library. The Flair, Michaels, Foley, Benoit, Guerrero, Hogan, Road Warriors, Roberts, Ultimate Warrior, Cage matches, Hall of Fame, 80s and ECW DVDs were all great. And while I'm on that subject, you should really check out Forever Hardcore. I think it's better than the Rise and Fall of ECW, and certainly is worth an additional watch.

Mike Tenay and TNA

I was listening to Mike Tenay on Bryan Alvarez' very entertaining F4W Daily, and I was very encouraged when he spoke about Christian's defection to TNA. He made an incredibly astute point when asked about the impact of the jump. Essentially, he said what actually goes down on Sunday and the jump itself isn't the larger issue going forward. Instead, he said, it is the way TNA presents Christian, and the effect it will have on future potential movement. He didn't spell it out, but the meaning was clear. By giving a true creative outlet and opportunity for underutilized WWE talent, TNA can convince other WWE talent to defect to TNA for the opportunity to showcase their talent. This is the advantage WWE had in its battle with WCW. While WCW frequently offered more money, WWE was the place where you could rise if you had the talent. This was a major contributing factor in the defections of people like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero. If TNA treats Christian like a superstar main event talent, it will send the message to underutilized talent in WWE that they should go to TNA where they can find what they love about wrestling again.

Initial Entry

So I've decided to try out writing a blog. We'll see how this works out. I'll continue to do this if I enjoy it. I suppose I will write primarily about wrestling and MMA here, since I vent enough about sports, politics, film and the like with my friends in "real life."