Tuesday, May 30, 2006

UFC Thoughts

I thought it was overall a good show. It wasn't one of UFC's best, but it had enough fun stuff to go around. Spencer Fischer vs. Matt Wiman was one of the best fights I've seen so far this year. Just a really fun spectacle with near finishes, a huge reversal, trash talking and a spectacular finish. The Melvin Guillard knockout was also spectacular, but his opponent was so obviously unworthy of being there that it took away some of the fun because it didn't really reflect much to me. I need to watch Gonzaga-Scherner again, as I was apparently the only one watching this show to think the stoppage was premature. Scherner was gassed no doubt, but it didn't seem he was unable to defend himself and he was going for a shoot when it was called. But given nobody seems to think this, I evidently need to watch this again. Perhaps people were just eager to see him out of there. Horn-Sonnen was a good enough battle that went just as expecting, Sonnen punching from the top and Horn attempting submissions. He finally caught him with a slick triangle into an armbar. I love that move, because it's "gotcha!" but doesn't feel fluky like a guillotine. Speaking of which, the next two fights of course ended by guillotines. Still, it featured the guy I wanted to see go over winning, so I can't complain. Brandon Vera and Mike Swick both have a world of potential. Diego Sanchez vs. John Alessio was great. I took way too much perverse pleasure in it. After about the third stuffed takedown in the first round, I said to Ben Miller that if this ended up as a boring three round decision, it would be totally worth it if it ended in Diego getting booed out of the building. And that's exactly what happened. The crowd really liked Diego as he came out, but then he started acting like a total jackass prancing to the octagon and you could feel the cheers diminishing as we watching this guy acting like a total buffoon. And by the end the crowd hated him. I can't really say why, because he was aggressive throughout the fight and it was Alessio that wouldn't engage all that much. Maybe there were more people than I thought like me, just waiting to boo him. I gave the fight 29-28 Alessio, but I can understand even the 30-27 Sanchez. Only clear round was the last for Sanchez, and I think you can justify the first or second for Diego. Both guys clearly did enough to lose. And of course the fight also had the weird koala position for 3 minutes which was another highlight. This will go down as one of those great perverse MMA fights that I joke about with my friends, like the toe stomping Marco Ruas fight or the Krazy Horse match where he used the ropes for leverage on a drop kick, or the time Matt Lindland knocked himself out. I blamed Sakara for his loss more than Lister. I thought he could have avoided going to the ground in the first place, and he clearly had an opportunity to leave the guard but instead dove back in. So if you're stupid enough to go to the ground with Lister when you are a boxer, you deserve to be submitted. I'll be more impressed when Lister does it against someone with a better gameplan. This reminded me of Mir-Sylvia. And the main event was also a spectacle. Watching Royce get all that love coming to the ring made me sad, because I knew he was going to get killed. I didn't really want to see the fight at that point, and wished they could have called it out. Still, Royce seemed okay about the whole thing and he got a nice payday, so I guess it's alright in the end. Will I make it three UFCs in a row with UFC 61? Stay tuned...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Raw Report

WWE Raw Report

By: Todd Martin
Email: MartinT2007@lawnet.ucla.edu
Blog: toddwmartin.blogspot.com

Date: 05/29/06 from Tacoma, WA.

The Big News: Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle will be joining ECW, Edge earned a title shot at Vengeance, Vince McMahon continued to torture Triple H and Kane attacked Kane.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Match Results: Shelton Benjamin NC Kane; Umaga b Viscera; Torrie Wilson & Beth Phoenix b Candice Michelle & Victoria; John Cena b Johnny Nitro; Edge b Big Show; Triple H b Kenny Doane.

Show Analysis:

The show started with a boring, pointless segment that was reminiscent of that period when every show began with a boring 20 minute promo. Vince McMahon came out and basically said nothing. He recounted the past few weeks’ events. He then said he wouldn’t announce a General Manager as promised, but that he did have an executive assistant, Jonathan Coachman.

Coach announced John Cena against someone he hasn’t faced, a number one contender match for Vengeance with Big Show vs. Edge and a Shelton Benjamin title defense against Kane. The non-announcement of a GM brings the trend of blatant bait and switch false advertising of something major to three of four weeks. It’s like they’re doing it just because they can and it’s so disrespectful to the audience.

Shelton Benjamin and Kane battled to a no contest. Benjamin sent Kane into the post and applied the dreaded rest hold. Kane came back with a big boot, clothesline, side slam, and clothesline off the top. He went for the choke slam but Benjamin reversed, rolled up Kane and grabbed the ropes for a near fall. Kane then went for the tombstone, but that was reversed into a DDT. Benjamin hit the stinger splash, but when he went for a second Kane caught him with the choke slam.

At that point the voices came again, and someone came out to Kane’s old music with a mask. He was a little bigger than Kane, but clearly had implants in his shoes. He didn’t look intimidating because he was less muscular than Kane was in that outfit, and he had weird hair. Faux Kane choke slammed Kane. This is great. If there’s one angle that needed to be recreated, it was Undertaker vs. Undertaker. That worked so well the first time. I also like the fact they treated Benjamin and his title as a total afterthought. That jobber needs some burying.

Coach backstage was looking for HHH. Armando offered his assistance on anything Coach needs. Viscera then confronted Armando, and said he was out for revenge on Umaga. Armando found this amusing. Elsewhere, HHH wasn’t sure if Vince was angry at him by not putting him in the number one contender match. HHH said he has done everything Vince asked, and he took out the Squad simply because they got in his way. Vince made HHH vs. Kenny a lumberjack match with the Squad at ringside.

Umaga beat Viscera. As Viscera came to the ring, Umaga gave him the downward spiral on the ramp. He hit a splash off the top and the Samoan spike for the pin. Lillian appears to like Viscera again, which is just ridiculous. It never made sense why she would like this obese, sleazy molester in the first place, and then he laughed at her marriage proposal on national television and left with some prostitutes instead. But apparently “my bad” was enough to set things straight. Umaga is quickly growing on me. Watching him destroy people is fun.

Torrie Wilson and Beth Phoenix, accompanied by Trish Stratus, beat Candice Michelle and Victoria, accompanied by Mickie James. Victoria and Beth traded punches. Beth hit a side slam (which Jim Ross really needs to stop calling a sidewalk slam) on Victoria. Torrie gave Victoria the stink face. Victoria gained control and tagged Candice. She hit a splash and elbow, but Victoria missed a leg drop and Beth got the tag. Beth came in with clotheslines, a gut wrench suplex and a Michinoku driver for the pin.

John Cena beat the debuting Johnny Nitro, along with Melina. This was pretty much a squash, with the five knuckle shuffle, FU and STFU. I don’t see the wisdom of punishing people on air, and this wasn’t a good way to debut a new character on the show. Rob Van Dam did commentary during the match. Jerry Lawler was ridiculing ECW, including Tazz, who he called a Lawler wannabe. That brought out RVD, who argued with Lawler. The irony is they were allies when Lawler went to ECW. RVD didn’t frame ECW very well, as he basically just presented it as hardcore wrestling.

Mick Foley and Paul Heyman had a debate, which reminded me of a Heyman/Lawler debate on Raw almost ten years ago. Foley said he is guilty of being a prostitute, like everyone in WWE who compromises to get to the top. Foley said the difference is he traded a low-rent pimp like Heyman for the billionaire pimp McMahon. He said he is annoyed that Tommy Dreamer and Terry Funk are labeled hardcore after what Edge and Foley did at WrestleMania.

He called the ECW locker room a bunch of rip-offs, and Heyman responded that he is a Terry Funk rip-off. Foley said Funk was the greatest wrestler he ever saw and Dreamer has a lot of heart, but they don’t the guts he does. Heyman said derisively they didn’t have the guts to wear the sock. Heyman asked how many shots Foley got at the WWE title before he pulled the sock out of his pants. That’s not a great point, Paul, given Foley had title programs with Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Steve Austin before Mr. Socko.

Foley said Dreamer and Funk didn’t have the guts to show what they had outside their comfort zone and on a bigger stage like he did. That’s an odd claim given both went to WWE after their ECW runs, and Funk also went to WCW and held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In any event, Foley said Heyman resents him because he made it big outside of ECW. Heyman said he doesn’t resent Foley at all, but rather what Foley has become. He said Foley threw away his legacy. Heyman said Dreamer and Funk will live up to the standards of ECW and the Edge-Foley Mania match.

Heyman said there is a new vision for ECW. It was about time this point was made, because ECW will succeed or fail based on its progressive vision, not its regressive vision. Heyman said all the old good stuff will be there, but there will be a lot more. He said anyone can jump to ECW from Raw or Smackdown, plus Heyman has two draft picks.

RVD is his Raw draft pick, which is weird given RVD presumably would jump freely. He then introduced his Smackdown draft pick, Kurt Angle. Angle beat the hell out of Foley and gave him the Angle slam. That was kind of weird, given his natural role at least at first in ECW is as a heel given his history there.

Edge beat Big Show to become number one contender. Show hit chops early, stood on Edge, delivered a head butt, executed snake eyes, and threw Edge off the top. Edge came back with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle and a DDT. He went for a spear but Show grabbed him by the throat. Edge grabbed the referee to stop this, and brought a chair into the ring. Show knocked it away and went for the choke slam again, but Lita gave him a low blow. He went after Lita, at which point Edge hit him with a chair and gave him the spear for the pin. Edge should have been booked stronger here. Yes, Show is big. But in 2006 he doesn’t have one twentieth Edge’s potential as a headliner.

HHH beat Kenny in a lumberjack match. This was a typical Spirit Squad match, with constant interference, but HHH beat them all anyway. Interference kept him subdued for most of the match, but HHH came back by crotching Kenny, and hitting a spine buster. He went for the pedigree, but had to fight off the entire Squad. So he did, and then hit the pedigree for the pin. The Squad all jumped HHH after the match and went after his leg, but he got a sledgehammer and ran them off. Jesus being booked like Jesus makes a lot more sense if he is supposed to be the face, and joking aside I had no problem with this at all. Vince McMahon then came out and said next week he has a challenge for HHH, to join the kiss my ass club.

Final Thoughts:

This was one of those Raw shows that are entertaining and eventful, but more counter-productive than productive as far as the direction of the promotion. Vince McMahon badly needs to give up his position as top heel. The act was stale when Clinton was still President. Edge or John Cena should have that position.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

UFC 60

Well, I just got my tickets. My patience paid off, as I was able to get a pair of $600 tickets for $415 total. It's about the same as I paid for UFC 59, and a bit farther back, but you have to feel good about paying a third of face. I'm in section 115. Quick thoughts on the card:

Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie: I just watched the special, and I guess I'm in the distinct minroity, because it made me less interested in the fight. I already knew all the backstory. The only thing the special convinced me of is that Hughes will try to keep it standing. I don't see how Gracie will be able to take him down, which could make for a boring sub-par striking match. That would be a real letdown. I would be shocked if Gracie won this fight. Granted, I didn't give Sylvia a shot last month, but this one seems pretty damn clear to me. Hughes is just at a different level than Gracie. I hope it makes for a fun spectacle.

Assuerio Silva vs. Brandon Vera: I think Vera's being overrated by some. I want the guy to do well. He's entertaining and marketable. But he hasn't beaten too many fighters of note, and he's giving up a lot of weight here. I favor the underdog Silva pretty heavily.

Joe Riggs vs. Mike Swick: This should be a fun brawl, and quite possibly the fight of the night. I'm not a huge fan of Riggs, but this is the best matchup for him since he's come to UFC. I like him to win by KO, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Swick win either.

Dean Lister vs. Alessio Sakara: UFC might end up regretting making this the swing bout. Lister has a knack for having boring fights, and he is going to be doing everything he can to avoid engaging with Sakara standing. I see Sakara winning a decision, but not a lot happening in the fight. I hope I'm wrong. Just seems a bad style matchup. It will be fun to see Sakara's hand speed.

Diego Sanchez vs. John Alessio: Sanchez will be exposed. Mark my words. But this isn't the fight it's happening. Diego via TKO or sub round 1 or 2.

Jeremy Horn vs. Chael Sonnen: They really don't want Sonnen to succeed in UFC, because they keep giving him really tough opponents. He's a quality fighter, but this is made for a Horn win, and I expect that to happen via submission.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 05/22/06 from Las Vegas, NV.

The Big News: Triple H may have finally broken with Vince McMahon and turned face. Or maybe not. Also, Paul Heyman made his return to WWE television.

Title Changes/Turns: I don’t think HHH is a full-fledged face yet, but he is close.

Match Results: Shelton Benjamin b Rob Van Dam-DQ; John Cena b Chris Masters; Kane b Trevor Murdoch; Mickie James b Torrie Wilson; Shawn Michaels NC Kenny Doane, Mikey Mondo, Nicky Nemeth, Johnny Jeter & Mitch Mitch.

Show Analysis:

At the onset of the show, Vince McMahon said that he is sure what HHH did was an accident, but he would demand an apology anyway. He added that if he didn’t receive a sincere apology, there would be immediate retaliation. This was so 1998 Steve Austin.

Mick Foley came out in a suit. He thanked the fans for their continuing support, in spite of a few misunderstandings. He hilariously explained, “I am not a bad guy. It is okay to cheer me. Parents, tell the kids boos are not really necessary. I’m a lovely guy.” After this, mentioning Las Vegas got a cheap pop, but he then turned on the crowd by saying it isn’t nice to be in Las Vegas. Basically, Vegas has a bunch of people looking to change their lives with a roll of the dice, when it is better to earn your accomplishments like Foley.

He introduced Edge, and wanted to present Edge with the old WWE Hardcore Title. Edge said he couldn’t accept the title, because Foley had to toil in Bingo Halls for so many years while he was disrespected by people like Ric Flair. Edge said Foley deserves to be the hardcore champion. Foley pointed out the irony of Flair working in a ladder match this year at WrestleMania after all his stunt man remarks. Foley said both he and Edge wanted to be hardcore champion, so they should resolve it with a match in Las Vegas. Shockingly, there were actually people gullible enough to buy this as a possibility. Edge and Foley instead decided they would be co-holders of the hardcore title.

Paul Heyman came out, and got a nice reaction. He talked about a prostitute being in the ring, but meant Foley, not Lita. Heyman said that Foley prostitutes his family’s love for Edge and Lita, but he won’t prostitute the name of hardcore. He called Foley a shell of his former self. Foley’s facial reaction was great. Foley said he is the co-holder of the WWE Hardcore Title, a WWE superstar, real life action figure, and book writer. He said that Heyman is the one who has nothing left. He’s not GM of Smackdown, doesn’t own his company, and has no power.

Heyman said he does have the power to issue a tag challenge for One Night Stand. Foley refused. Heyman laughed, and said Lita was the only one in the ring with any nuts. Foley and Edge went after Heyman, but Heyman introduced Funk and Dreamer as their opponents for One Night Stand. Funk and Dreamer brought weapons and ran Edge and Foley off. All participants involved did a very good job here, but there seemed to be something missing. A big part of the problem is nobody buys Funk and Dreamer as threats to Edge and Foley.

Shelton Benjamin beat Rob Van Dam via disqualification in an Intercontinental Title match. RVD dominated early with kicks, but Benjamin turned it around by dropping him on the turnbuckle. Benjamin tried to neutralize RVD with holds, but RVD kept coming back with kicks. Eventually he hit a standing moonsault and Rolling Thunder, but there was a referee bump. Scorpio Sky ran out. Sorry. Reflexive response. Benjamin brought the belt into the ring, and RVD kicked it into his face right as the referee was recovering. The referee called for a DQ. RVD seemed to be going for more, but he was really sloppy. It’s going to take him time to get back to his ECW style if he is allowed to do that.

Vince McMahon came to the ring, and alluded to making Shawn Michaels’ life a living hell. He made some threats and asked for two words from Triple H. Triple H came out and said he had two words for Vince. They teased it out, but his words were “I’m sorry.” Vince accepted the apology, provided HHH come out and hit Michaels with a sledgehammer on his command after the main event. HHH said they had an understanding, and they shook hands.

Kane was interviewed. He said that May 19 was the date that his mother was killed in a fire, and he has fought many years to suppress those memories. But, those days have passed, his movie is out, and he gets to inflict pain and punishment on his opponents. So he’s never been happier. That’s comforting.

John Cena beat Chris Masters with the STFU in a title match. Afterwards, Rob Van Dam came out. He said he will be using his Money in the Bank title shot at One Night Stand, where he will be more comfortable. RVD and Cena then got into a fight. Cena was getting the best of it until Masters ran in, and RVD took the opportunity to “hit” the worst Van Daminator ever with the briefcase.

Backstage, Carlito and Maria were off to play some cards. They ran into Gene Snitsky, who had hired an escort. He approached Goldust, and somehow concluded that because Goldust was dressed in showgirl attire, it must be a showgirl and not a large, overweight man in showgirl attire. Snitsky was enamored with Goldust’s feet, which troubled Goldust, who was just chilling in women’s clothing. Carlito didn’t find this cool. Maria added that it wasn’t funny. No, wait, that was me. Elsewhere, Shawn Michaels was pissed off at HHH for apologizing to Vince. Michaels called him a sellout.

Kane defeated Trevor Murdoch with the choke slam. Murdoch talked trash about See No Evil before the match. Afterwards a video played saying that “this will never be over.” Kane acted confused. Perhaps it will turn out that Kane hasn’t been having episodes this whole time, but rather that someone is screwing with his head. I like that angle much better anyway, as long as it isn’t DDP.

They aired a flashback for 24/7 which focused on the NWO. It was a fun little package. That would make a great DVD collection. WWE has done spotlights on a lot of the key angles in the Monday Night War and NWO DVDs, but it would be fun to just have all the NWO angles from 1996 put together in a DVD set. It was an exciting period.

Mickie James beat Torrie Wilson with the implant DDT. This came precariously close to completely falling apart. Trish announced after the match that Beth Phoenix is the newest Raw Diva. She attacked Mickie from behind, and Mickie ran off with her title into the crowd.

Viscera came out and said he had big news. He said that he realized it is time for him to settle down, and invited Lillian into the ring. Lillian pointed out the last time they were in Vegas he dumped her for ho’s. Viscera said that was his bad and apologized. He then took out a cheeseburger and said if they got married she could cook for him. He said he was hungry and horny and asked Lillian to marry her.

Of course, if you were looking at your clock during this segment, you knew what was coming. Armando showed up, and was particularly great this week in introducing Umaga. The whole act works much better when the entrance is unexpected, and all of a sudden you have got Umaga charging towards the ring to destroy somebody the fans like. Or in this case Viscera. Umaga just obliterated him, climaxing with the spike. They should have let Lillian get back Viscera for being a general creep to her.

Spirit Squad and Shawn Michaels had what was labeled a match by Jim Ross, but didn’t really have any elements of a wrestling match. Vince McMahon ordered the referee to leave, and the Squad gave Michaels an extended beat down. They gave him High Spirits. Shawn Michaels made a comeback when they brought a chair into the ring. He went to town with the chair, hit the elbow off the top, and hit sweet chin music twice. He went for a third, but he got hit in the leg with a chair, which was an awesome spot.

They tore up Michaels’ pants and went after his knee. The fans were chanting for HHH. They put Michaels’ leg in the chair and Kenny came off the top with the knee. Vince called for HHH, who went to the ring with the sledgehammer. The fans chanted DX. Kenny took the sledgehammer from HHH and wanted to use it, but HHH stopped him and fought off the Spirit Squad. This was a great beat down as far as getting heat on the Squad and Vince and sympathy for Vince. However, if this was intended to be a key point in a HHH face turn, it went on too long. It’s hard to like a guy who would let Michaels get so completely obliterated for such a long time.

Final Thoughts:

This show was laid out really well. I don’t know if I’m all that excited about the places they are planning to go, but they are doing a good job with traditional wrestling build. One thing I have liked about recent editions of Raw is that they are doing a better job protecting wrestlers that have significant upside. That may not pay off in the short term, but it is good for the long term development of younger wrestlers who haven’t reached the top of their career trajectory yet.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

PWG 5/21 Results

I'm going to get heat for this one...

1. Hook Bomberry and Bino Gambino beat Alex Koslov and Ronin when Hook pinned Ronin with a rollup.

2. Scorpio Sky defeated Human Tornado with a brain buster.

3. Kevin Steen beat Austin Aries with the Steen pile driver. They played off of Aries’ Randy Savage look, with Steen doing some Hulk Hogan mannerisms. It was a fun little match.

4. Disco Machine and Nemesis beat Rocky Romero and TJ Perkins.

5. Chris Sabin beat Joey Ryan via disqualification, with basically a Dusty finish.

At this point was intermission, and one thing I really liked about this show was that they decided to divide the card in two as far as vibe. The matches before intermission for the most part were light-hearted and comedy oriented. The matches after intermission were all more serious. That helped the show to build well, and made the later matches feel important. I hope they continue that trend.

6. Cape Fear beat Briscoe Brothers in a hot tag match with the reverse huracanrana and brainbuster. This got a standing ovation and chants of “please come back” for the Briscoes. Cape Fear delivers one of the best matches on just about every PWG show. This was a great match and the best on the show.

7. Bryan Danielson beat Claudio Castagnoli in some sort of bizarre experiment. Basically, Castagnoli put Danielson in a head lock for 15 minutes, with Danielson fighting to get out but never being able to escape. Finally he got out and rolled up Castagnoli for the pin seconds later. I really like Danielson, as in he is one of my favorite wrestlers in the world. I like his slower pacing, subtle psychology and technical wrestling. But this was just ridiculous. There was a portion of the crowd that turned on it. A portion of the crowd politely applauded, and probably would have applauded if both men took a nap in their respective corners as well. And another sizeable group, including myself, just didn’t react at all, because I didn’t feel like being rude to them but I didn’t want to encourage this nonsense either.

8. B-Boy beat Matt Sydal with a clothesline and Go to Sleep. It felt a little off early on, but picked up towards the finish.

9. Arrogance beat Davey Richards and Super Dragon to win the PWG Tag Titles after tons of interference and belt shots from Scorpio Sky and Joey Ryan. Sky, Ryan, Lost and Bosh are now a new heel group. Richards wants to win the singles title from Ryan. It was a good match until the finish, which I hated. PWG over the past six months has done real damage to its singles championship, because Joey Ryan wins via a screw job every single show. It gets the wrong kind of heat, and the title means nothing because the champion never beats anyone and just coasts along with one overbooked garbage finish after another.

Luckily however, at the same time, the tag titles have been built up to really mean something. The title matches get great heat and Richards and Dragon have really elevated the titles by having great matches and finishes that establish they are the better team. I have been prepared to make a serious argument for them as one of the top tag teams of the year for the Observer Awards. They should be kept together, because what they were doing was working in a major way. Breaking them up to have one of them go after the singles title is backwards, because the tag titles mean more than the singles title right now. Moreover, if they had to be broken up, they should have lost in a match relatively cleanly to maintain the credibility that the tag titles had built up.

Scott Lost and Chris Bosh have not won a two on two tag team match since June of last year, and they have lost plenty during that time period. They only won this match because of tons of interference, multiple belt shots and other assorted nonsense. If your titles don’t symbolize the best your promotion has to offer, nobody is going to care who wins in the title matches.

PWG title matches feel like a countdown to this show’s screw job. That’s been tolerable because we still have the tag title matches, which feel like wars to determine the best tag team in the promotion. No longer. Now all the PWG titles have been decided by screw job, and symbolize nothing. This is unbelievably frustrating. If there was one thing in this entire promotion not to screw with, it was the tag titles. And they did just that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Am Not a Mute

I did a segment on the Fight Opinion audio show with Zach Arnold and Rob Sayers which you can check out here. It's a discussion of WFA, with IFL, UFC, Pride and the world of MMA in general thrown in. I fear I rambled too much, but I think there are some good opinions thrown in there as well. One thing I came to appreciate is how much harder it is to communicate verbally when you can't see the other people you're speaking with. It's harder to gauge if what you're saying makes sense to the other person, and also at times to get the heart of what they are saying.

In any event, if you enjoy that show, you can find more Fight Opinion here. And if you don't regularly visit Puroresu Power, you should. Great resource for Japanese pro wrestling and general MMA, if not the best.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Da Vinci Code Getting Panned

It's surprising to see just how badly the Da Vinci Code is doing with reviews, given its interesting (if hard to adapt for the screen) source material, fine cast and generally competent director (Ron Howard isn't my favorite director, but he's a good enough director). I guess I won't be seeing it in the theater after all. Rotten Tomatoes has become such a great resource for me. I pretty much only see movies in theaters if they do well in Rotten Tomatoes. I wait for DVD for the rest, because there are very few good movies that get panned by the majority of critics. I don't like some movies that do well on Rotten Tomatoes, but there are very few movies that do poorly on Rotten Tomatoes that I end up thinking highly of. In fact, it's been so long that the last movie I can think of that I thought got an unfair shake on Rotten Tomatoes was A Love Song for Bobby Long, a touching little drama with the fabulous Scarlett Johansson. And that was released in 2004.

Pride OWGP Next Round

I pretty much agree with Mike's picks for the next round. To me, there are only two brackets that make sense. You have to use Yoshida-Fujita to get a Japanese fighter into the next round. I know Pride seems to be teasing other matchups, but I think sense will take over and they'll make sure one of those two gets through. And it is an interesting matchup anyway. Then you have to go with Werdum-Barnett, because there isn't a "dream" match involving either of them that can be made (Werdum-Cro Cop would be intriguing because of their affiliation, but their affiliation makes that unfeasible). If you separate them, you end up with two matches with less interest rather than just one. And that leaves Cro Cop, Hunt, Nog and Silva. To me, there are two sets of matches there that are more interesting: Cro Cop-Hunt and Nog-Silva or Cro Cop-Silva and Nog-Hunt. Really either of those scenarios would be interesting. Cro Cop-Hunt and Cro Cop-Silva are both dream rematches which should be standing wars. I think the latter is more interesting because we saw the former recently and so much has changed since the first Cro Cop-Silva fight. Then the other side is either Nog-Silva or Nog-Hunt. On that end, I prefer Nog-Silva. Nog-Hunt feels so much like Nog-Sapp or Nog-Schilt. Nog-Silva would have a weird and different feel, as Nog does like to box and might feel his size and chin would be enough to keep it standing for a while. Plus Silva is fast and might be able to avoid the takedowns with his movement in a way Hunt couldn't do. So that makes it a bit of a tossup for the final two matches. Either way the next round should be a lot of fun. The one thing that bugs me about the tournament is I don't see Hunt getting all the way through, and I would have liked to see him maintain his winning streak going into his inevitable fight with Fedor, which will likely be an exciting war.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Doug Flutie in the HOF?

Excuse me? Is this a joke? Yes, the CFL is "professional football," as was so astutely pointed out by Mark Kreidler. But minor league baseball or hockey is also professional. Should we consider AHL statistics when evaluating Hall credentials in hockey? Doug Flutie is a very likeable character, for a variety of reasons: his history at BC, his size and underdog status, his work on autism and so forth. But he had his success in a minor league football league against minor league competition, and didn't do all that much in the NFL. Maybe he was underestimated based on his size and could have done more in the NFL. But he didn't. He is a painfully obvious "no."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Site Notes

A couple of things. First, I welcome everyone to post here, even if you don't post regularly. But I have a small request. If you want to post anonymously, cool. But give yourself a fake name or nickname so I can differentiate between the anonymous posts. There have been some excellent points made by people posting anonymously, and I'd like to be able to connect, "Oh, that was the guy that made argument X" for future reference.

Second, if you're a friend of me or the site and you'd like me to add a link to your website, drop me an e-mail and I'll be happy to oblige.

NFC East

Interesting article here trying to predict the order of finish in the NFC East this year. It's sort of a glamour division to begin with, so I think perhaps it is being overrated as far as just how strong it is, but it is no doubt a strong division. And it is really hard to call how the teams will finish. Here's my thinking:

1. Washington Redskins. Okay, note that as a Redskins fan, I feel almost obliged to feel optimistic about the upcoming season, so take this prediction with a grain of salt. But also note that I am not unrealistic about my teams, and I tend not to expect more out of them than they deliver. A lot of focus has been on the Redskins' offseason moves, with the common thinking being that they didn't add much given the amount of money they spent. I agree with that, but it is ultimately inconsequential to how they are going to do this year. The biggest acquisition in the offseason was easily Al Saunders, a top of the line offensive coordinator. The problem in recent seasons has been the offensive philosophies of the team. Steve Spurrier's system didn't work in the NFL, and Joe Gibbs' system hasn't caught up with the new NFL fast enough. Saunders will rectify that, and the talent level is high on the offensive side of the ball. They have a bunch of threats at receiver, an emerging tight end/H-Back in Chris Cooley, a strong offensive line anchored by Thomas, Samuels and Jansen, and a quality running back in Clinton Portis. Then on the other side of the ball you've got a great defensive system under Gregg Williams that keeps offenses off-balance and plays tough. The Redskins have a small window given their method of building a team, but this should be a very good year for them.

2. Dallas Cowboys. This is a team nobody is going to want to play, because they are going to have a nasty, nasty defense. They are deep with talent, from cover corners (Terence Newman) to pass rushers (DeMarcus Ware) to hard hitters (Roy Williams). I think under Parcells they are going to be one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. The problem is that this team is best suited to be a power running/defense oriented team. Their optimum formula for success is to pound the ball with Julius Jones and play defense. But they undermined that whole philosophy with the acquisition of Terrell Owens, who will cause more problems for the team than their opponents. I don't expect any major blow-up like in previous seasons, but I do expect grumbling and internal dissention when Owens doesn't get the ball as much as he wants. I don't think the Cowboys' best chance for success is going to the air with Drew Bledsoe, and I really think a Keyshawn Johnson type is a better fit for the system than Owens. The key to me is the beginning of the season. If they start strong, it will soothe potential tensions and make people buy into the team. If they start off poorly, things could deteriorate quickly, but I think they have too much talent to not at least be in most every game.

3. Philadelphia Eagles. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Eagles last year did. It was a nightmare of a season, and it has made a lot of people forget that they are a very well run organization that will likely not be down for long. That said, I think this season will prove to be a midway point between the awful year they had last year and a strong year in 2007. They build through the draft, but they have become a little arrogant in their willingness to let key players go in recent years. It's as if they can replace anybody, when the constant departures do hurt. The losses of Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and Michael Westbrook last year hurt the team greatly, but so did the offseason losses of Corey Simon and Derrick Burgess. This year Hollis Thomas is also gone, and there has been a real talent drain on both sides of the ball. Because the Eagles draft well they can make up for that, but I anticipate it's going to take another year for the Mike Pattersons, Reggie Browns, Brodrick Bunkleys and Winston Justices to develop. The Eagles will likely have a stronger second half than first half.

4. New York Giants. I can understand why people would pick the Giants high, because they probably have the most upside of any team in the division. The problem is they also have the biggest downside, and I just don't see all their key players making it through the season. I like Michael Strahan a lot, and he has always been durable, but he is getting up there in age and his production is down. Given he has been the strength of the defense for a long time now, having him perform under expectations or get hurt will really affect the team, like it did in 2004. I love LaVar Arrington, but I have no idea if he is going to be able to make it through 16 games and be the player he once was. Tiki Barber is a small, older running back who has been carrying the ball a ton in recent years. That spells disaster, if not this year then next year. And then you've got Eli Manning at quarterback, a very young kid who seemed to regress as last season went on. If Strahan and Barber and Arrington are able to stay healthy and productive, and Eli takes the next step, they will be very good. But those are too many pivotal question marks for me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

See No Evil

The business on this movie will be interesting to see. This has been marketed everywhere, and with very little to no reference to the fact it is a WWE film. The key to business will be if people figure it out in time for the weekend or not. "Horror film featuring WWE wrestler" is just a total death sentence for a movie, but I'm not sure if people realize it or not. There will no doubt be a sharp dropoff after the first week. I'll go ahead and predict an opening weekend gross of $5M. That's pretty decent, because I think WWE has set up a good smokescreen as far as what the movie is.

Raw Report

Date: 05/15/06 from Lubbock, TX.

The Big News: Triple H moved closer to a break with the McMahons, while Mick Foley had a confrontation with Terry Funk.

Title Changes/Turns: Shelton Benjamin won back the Intercontinental Title from Rob Van Dam.

Match Results: Triple H, Shelton Benjamin & Chris Masters b Rob Van Dam & John Cena; Spirit Squad b Gene Snitsky & Goldust; Matt Striker b Eugene; Umaga b Chris Wellman; Shawn Michaels NC Kenny Doane.

Show Analysis:
Vince McMahon came out at the start, and said he was changing the main event for the better. It would be Rob Van Dam and John Cena vs. HHH, Chris Masters and Shelton Benjamin in a 3 on 2 Texas tornado handicap match with both titles on the line depending on who scored the pin. The match started out too wild, with everyone brawling all over the place and no build.

Coming back from a break, the heels went to work triple teaming RVD, and the match was really good from that point on. Benjamin and HHH got into an argument while Masters put RVD in the Masterlock. RVD was able to fight them all off, and went for the frog splash on Benjamin, but HHH pushed him off the top to the floor. Cena then came in with clotheslines and suplexes on all three. He hit the five knuckle shuffle on Benjamin, and sent HHH to the floor when he went for the pedigree. Cena then applied the STFU to Benjamin. Masters broke that up. RVD hit the five star on Benjamin, but HHH gave RVD the pedigree.

Cena hit the FU on Masters, and HHH gave Cena the pedigree. Benjamin made the cover on RVD, and HHH made the cover on Cena, but Benjamin got the cover first and scored the pin to win the IC Title. HHH thought he won, so he gave the referee the pedigree and stormed off. This was good, and the crowd was hot for it. The negative is the finish, as it buries the title when the champion is beaten and they aren’t even building to a PPV title match with the man who has him beat. Well, this was at least less problematic than Rey’s treatment on Smackdown.

Trish Stratus called out Mickie James. Beth came out and attacked Mickie again. Trish said Beth is Mickie’s old friend and Trish’s new friend. Beth said she wouldn’t let Mickie get away with what she did. Backstage, Shane McMahon told an angry HHH that Vince wanted to collect his favor, and HHH would be in Kenny’s corner against Shawn Michaels with Shane McMahon as special referee. Spirit Squad then retained the tag titles defeating Gene Snitsky and Goldust with a bulldog off the trampoline off the floor into the ring for the pin. That was a cool spot.

Mick Foley came out for an interview. He still received mostly cheers and few boos, and played to the crowd with thumbs up and smiles. He said what he did was unbelievable, because he couldn’t even believe he attacked Tommy Dreamer and joined Edge himself. He said he owed an apology, and said he is sorry. That got cheers. He said he couldn’t apologize to Dreamer, so he would apologize to Terry Funk. They put over Funk as Foley’s mentor. Foley wanted to shake hands, but Funk told him not so fast. He wanted to know why Foley humiliated Dreamer.

Foley said it was because he and Edge made history at WrestleMania with the greatest hardcore match ever, and he wasn’t going to let second-rate ECW scumbags come into a WWE ring as if they represent hardcore. Thus, Edge and Foley made a pact to protect what they created. He said he would defend three things with his life: the honor of his wife, the honor of his children, and the honor of his legacy. Funk said Foley is ECW, and talked about all they have been through together. He said Foley is like a son to him and they hugged.

Foley said that they hadn’t stood in a WWE ring together since 1998, but they should have in 2003 when Foley was honored as a hardcore legend. Instead, he asserted Funk didn’t show up because he wanted more money. Foley said Funk broke his heart. He continued that one day Funk will die, and it will cost a lot of money for Foley to come to a dump like West Texas and speak at his funeral. He then reconsidered and said he would come there for free to spit on Funk’s grave.

Funk then tried to get Foley to fight him. He slapped Foley multiple times, called his wife a whore, and said his kids are bastards. But it was only after he said that WWE sucks that Foley attacked. Funk fought off Foley and Edge, but Lita gave Funk a low blow. Edge hit Funk with the barbed wire bat twice, and Edge and Foley gave him the Socko/spear combination. This started a little slow, with Foley’s motivation and explanation a little convoluted. However, it picked up and built into an excellent, heated segment. Funk did a really good job in support.

Matt Striker beat Eugene. Before the match, Striker mocked immigrants and Texas Tech, and vowed to teach Eugene a lesson. Eugene hit the leg drop, but Striker kicked out. Eugene went for the Rock Bottom, but Striker got out and hit the Golden Rule for the pin. Striker’s knockoff Dean Douglas character is a dead-end gimmick for a dead-end performer. The other Matt Striker was always better than this guy.

Backstage, Carlito said he liked Eugene until he messed with Carlito. Maria didn’t understand Carlito’s t-shirt. This of course built to Maria excitedly proclaiming that she swallows, and Carlito saying that is cool. While vulgar, this was an amusing little backstage segment. Elsewhere, HHH confronted Vince McMahon backstage. HHH was furious and said nothing. Vince said that since HHH got a title shot, it would be time for HHH to return the favor and bash in Michaels’ head with a sledgehammer.

Umaga beat Chris Wellman. Armando claimed that Wellman is the toughest guy in all of Texas, which was funny. Even Wellman had this quizzical look after Armando made that claim. Umaga threw Wellman over his head really hard off the steps to the floor. He used the thumb for the pin. Backstage, Spirit Squad voiced their appreciation for Shane McMahon.

Shawn Michaels and Kenny went to a no-contest. Michaels went after Shane from the very beginning. He went for an elbow off the top on Kenny, but Shane pushed him off. Kenny hit a DDT, elbow and other moves, and Shane tried to fast count Michaels. Kenny whipped and choked Michaels with a belt. Michaels came back with an inverted atomic drop and punches. He whipped Shane with the belt, sending him from the ring.

Michaels hit a body slam and the elbow off the top on Kenny. He followed that with sweet chin music, but Shane jumped Michaels with a series of back breakers. He called HHH into the ring, and held him for HHH to attack with the sledgehammer. HHH swung, and they played it like he intended to hit Michaels, but Michaels moved out of the way. With Shane laid out, Vince came out and called for help. HHH apologized to Vince as the show ended.

Final Thoughts:

This show overall was above average based on recent Raw standards. The one thing that’s problematic is they have false advertised major matches two weeks in a row, for no good reason. It’s just traditional bait and switch: promising something you think people want to see but that you don’t want to deliver. That is not a good pattern to develop. Otherwise, there are some good stories being told on Raw, and the main event direction in particular feels strong.

WFA Announces “King of the Streets” Event

The newly reborn World Fighting Alliance held a contract signing this evening at their offices in Los Angeles to announce a loaded lineup for their initial “King of the Streets” event. The card, headlined by Matt “the Law” Lindland vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, will take place at the Los Angeles Forum on July 22, and be available on pay-per-view. WFA unveiled its new ad campaign, built around “Rampage Reborn.”

WFA CEO Jeremy Lappen announced the new approach of the organization, which is to be a “fighter-first” organization that will focus on building individual fighters over a brand. Lappen explained, “We are going to build our brand off the fighters themselves: off their stories, off their unique personalities that they bring into play.” The approach stands in marked contrast to the team approach of rival upstart IFL. With UFC having a stronger brand name than any rival for the foreseeable future, fighters are going to have to be the principal draw for a viable alternative. Lappen asserted, “We will be the premiere mixed martial arts event in the world.”

Jackson, in good spirits, described his decision to join WFA as being motivated by monetary and promotional concerns. There was interest in Jackson from many major organizations. Jackson frankly noted, “WFA offered me the most money” and added an enthusiastic, “Cha-ching!” He also observed, “I knew the WFA would promote me the way I want to be promoted,” and cited their ad campaign and approach as a positive. Jackson declined to address the number of fights on his WFA contract.
Lindland expressed a similar affinity for the WFA’s philosophy, and said that he originally signed his WFA contract in November with the intention of fighting Tito Ortiz. Lindland had been rumored as a participant on the next season of the Ultimate Fighter, but that was never in the negotiating or planning stages.

Jackson has fought at 205, while Lindland has fought at 185 for most of his career. Lindland said that he doesn’t care whether he fights at one class or the other. He noted that he walks around at 205 and is comfortable at that weight. He joked, “I whooped all the guys at 185. I had to move up.” Retorted Jackson, “You didn’t whoop Bustamante,” referring to a dominant performance in a 2002 UFC title fight.

Jackson added, “I think July 23 he’s going to be moving back to 185.” Jackson continued his good-natured trash-talking by joking about Lindland’s breath and predicting, “I’m going to break the Law.” Lindland jabbed back a little, “There’s a lot more technical guys than Quinton, especially in his weight class. Look at Ricardo Arona, how much more talented he is than Jackson.”

The WFA also announced a surprisingly strong undercard, which arguably has a higher talent level than UFC 60. Former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez will face Pride, UFC and OVW veteran Ron Waterman. In perhaps the most intriguing matchup, Antonio Inoki protege Lyoto Machida will make his American MMA debut against Vernon White. Lyoto holds victories over Rich Franklin, B.J. Penn and Stephan Bonnar. Also on the card is Ivan Salaverry vs. Art Santore, as well as Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Kimo and Rob McCullough against unnamed opponents.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Well, one more year completed, and one year until I've got my JD. It's nice to be done and to have a relatively tranquil summer in front of me.

This is Outrageous

OUTRAGEOUS. What the hell does this administration have to do before someone in our government or judiciary stands up for our constitutional rights?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Spoiler Alert Warning....

I cannot believe they would just have Great Khali squash Rey Mysterio, and in his hometown to boot. This has to be the most breathtakingly dumb booking decision by WWE in years, and that statement speaks volumes. Where to even start? First, you've got a PPV you are trying to sell. And the new route to promoting PPVs seems to be to have the main eventers lose and lose and lose cleanly. Because people are anxious to pay to see losers square off to see who is the bigger loser. Second, you've got Rey Mysterio being buried based on size over and over again and treated like a joke, when he is a hell of a talent and should be booked much more carefully. Third, there's the fact that he is your champion and it totally buries the title. Fourth, and perhaps most irritating to me, is the continuing push of a man who cannot wrestle and will not be with the company within 2 years. Nothing reflects the company's ineptitude these days more than the guys they choose to push and the guys they choose to bury. Ugh.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Raw Report Plus

Date: 05/08/06 from Anaheim, CA.

The Big News: Mick Foley turned heel on Tommy Dreamer and joined Edge’s side. The initial turn has to be termed a failure, but there is a lot of upside in this move, and once Foley is able to cut a few promos, this initial awkwardness will likely be forgotten.

Title Changes/Turns: See above.

Match Results: Rob Van Dam b Chris Masters, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin; Matt Striker b Carlito Caribbean Cool-DQ; Mick Foley b Edge and Tommy Dreamer; Mickie James b Maria; Umaga b Tommy Wilson & Kevin Martinson; Big Show b Kane-DQ; Kenny Doane, Nicky Nemeth, Johnny Jeter, Mikey Mondo & Mitch b Shawn Michaels & John Cena.

Show Analysis:

I was at the show live, so I’ll start with the Heat results. Trevor Murdoch beat Goldust with his feet on the ropes. Goldust looked really out of shape. Eugene then defeated Tony Drake with the stunner. Eugene got a good reaction from the crowd. Rob Conway and Victoria beat Viscera and Torrie Wilson, a result that made me happy. They did a comedy bit where Torrie gave Victoria the stinkface. Conway tagged in and wanted the stinkface from Torrie, but instead got it from Viscera. Victoria pinned Torrie with the Widow’s Peak. Finally, Gene Snitsky beat Lance Cade via DQ when Trevor Murdoch interfered. Goldust made the save. Heat made for an ungodly boring opening to the show.

Jim Ross returned to the commentary booth. Skipping through sections of the show on tape when I got home, I didn’t notice anything particularly notable about his commentary. He didn’t really dismiss Styles, his point of view or ECW, which was good for both his credibility and Styles’. Really, Ross could have cut the same promo as Styles on the current product. It’s nice to have him back in any event.

HHH came out to start the show. He got a total face reaction. He basically said he knows he has gotten his chances at the title and hasn’t succeeded, but he wanted an additional, immediate title shot anyway. John Cena came out and said that HHH hasn’t earned a title shot lately, but that he would give it anyway. Vince McMahon then interrupted, and said they wouldn’t have a title match. He said HHH would get a title shot at some point, but not in Anaheim. HHH was a smart ass again, but Vince wasn’t having it. He gave HHH the night off and made John Cena and Shawn Michaels vs. the Spirit Squad.

One thing that was apparent in the arena is that the people who still like John Cena really like him. I think his fans genuinely like him more than his detractors genuinely dislike him. Of course, this doesn’t come across on TV because boos and cheers mixed together tend to come out sounding more like boos. That’s what happened with Griffin-Ortiz and that’s what frequently happens with Cena I think.

Rob Van Dam beat Chris Masters, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas in a four way. Coming to the ring, RVD had a stare down with John Cena, which was a nice tease of their upcoming match. RVD before the match said he agreed with everything Joey Styles said last week, and encouraged fans to chant ECW. Crowd didn’t really cooperate. There wasn’t anything wrong with the match, but it never really built, and felt disjointed. Finish saw Masters apply the Masterlock on Haas, but RVD flew in with a sunset flip on Masters for the pin.

They did an angle where all the co-stars in Kane’s movie talked about him being hard to work with and a nasty individual. One of them said May 19 a bunch of times so Kane choked him. Matt Striker beat Carlito via DQ. Very early in the match Eugene ran out and attacked Striker for the DQ. Carlito gave Eugene a back cracker for his efforts. They are trying to turn Carlito into the Rock with the heel mannerisms and face character, but not everyone has the Rock’s charisma to pull that off. They should just focus on getting him over as a face first, and then worry about adding edge to the character.

Mick Foley and Edge didn’t end up having a real match. Foley said that the winner of their match would be the greatest hardcore wrestler today, but they couldn’t do that without ECW. Thus, he made a triple threat hardcore match with Edge vs. Foley vs. Tommy Dreamer. The match didn’t really take place. Foley hit Dreamer from behind with a barbed wire bat, and then handed the bat to Edge. Edge hit Dreamer in the head with it, and Foley dropped an elbow with the bat. Edge leg dropped it into Dreamer’s groin. Foley then applied the socko claw and Edge hit the spear for the pin. Edge and Foley shook hands.

This didn’t take well live. The crowd didn’t react to it. They just didn’t seem to want to boo Foley. There was very little booing, and it wasn’t a shocked reaction either. The crowd just didn’t know how to react, and the turn was met with apathy. The problem to me seemed pretty clear. Mick Foley has been a baby face for just about eight years now. In order for him to turn heel, he needed to do something that really made the fans upset.

Beating up Tommy Dreamer didn’t do the trick because fans don’t care enough about Dreamer. To WWE fans he is barely known and insignificant. ECW fans, if they are even watching Raw, saw Tommy Dreamer get badly beat up about 8,000 times over the years. That was basically the story of the entire run of ECW, so there was nothing to provoke a strong visceral reaction. Hindsight is 20/20, but this was the wrong way to do the initial Foley turn.

That said, I really like the idea of a Foley turn in general. There are a lot of reasons why Foley can work as a heel now, and he has always been a great storyteller as a heel. His heel role in ECW was great, and he can tinker with that now. I also understand why they would involve Dreamer in this angle, given he was a key player in the original anti-hardcore Foley heel character. When Foley has a chance to explain himself and tell the story, I still think this is going to take off and do very well. But this wasn’t a successful first step, unfortunately.

The one other problem with this whole scenario is probably not a major point to many, but it was to me. Arrowhead Pond mostly sold out in advance, so fans purchased their tickets not expecting Foley vs. Edge. However, I made the decision to buy a $50 ticket (well, close to $70 once those criminals at Ticketmaster got done with me) to this show and drive down in the middle of exams specifically because they advertised Edge vs. Foley.

That was the match I wanted to see. They didn’t deliver that, and instead did a basic bait and switch. I can’t fault them too much for it, because a TV bait and switch to do a surprise heel turn seems valid. Still, I felt ripped off personally, and perhaps that’s a good argument for avoiding bait and switch under any circumstances. Larry Matysik certainly emphasized that point in his book on Sam Muchnick and St. Louis.

Mickie James beat Maria in pretty much a squash with the leaping DDT. Afterwards Mickie beat up Maria and Trish Stratus, until Beth Phoenix made the save as a crazed fan and went after Mickie. Mickie apparently knows her in storyline, as she was screaming that no one invited her. Umaga won a squash against a pair of jobbers. I continue to be befuddled by the people they choose for pushes.

Big Show beat Kane via DQ. They did chain wrestling, telling the story that Show was trying to lighten up Kane’s mood. However, once the lights went out and the voices said May 19, Kane flipped out again and attacked Show repeatedly with a chair. The crowd was chanting May 19, and holding up signs for it, which is pretty damn clever to get the crowd advertising for your movie without even really realizing it. I was surprised at how much reaction there was to this match when they advertised it throughout the show, but the crowd turned on it when they were doing the mat wrestling.

The Spirit Squad beat Shawn Michaels and John Cena in a handicap match. The Squad worked over Cena for much of the match, until Cena finally fought them off and made the hot tag. Michaels came in with punches, but the numbers game came into play. Michaels was hit with a title belt for the win. The Squad laid out the referee and whipped Michaels with his belt. HHH came out to presumably make the save, but as he came to the ring Cena cleared the ring and HHH gave Cena the pedigree to close the TV show. Afterwards, John Cena won a triple threat cage match over Edge and HHH.

Final Thoughts:

I really wanted to like this show, but I ended up finding it a bore.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Foley Going Heel

Great! This is long overdue, because his persona just isn't working as a face. There's tons of real stuff to go on.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Great Philosophical Question

Today I put to you a really deep philosophical question. Who is crazier: Ultimate Warrior or Iron Sheik? I implore you to watch the Sheik video and the Warrior video, and decide for yourself. As far as comparing their insanity, I think you have to take into account lack of connection with the real world, belligerence, and danger presented to society. Evaluating those criteria, it's a tough call. There's also tremendous irony in both. Sheik vows to sodomize Brian Blair because he considers him a "fag." And Warrior's point seems largely to be about the perverse nature of moral relativism. And he makes a hell of a point in that regard, only ironically he does so by putting himself very clearly on the unintended side of his right/wrong divide. By a hair, I'll put forward Warrior as the more crazy of the two, because I think he views himself as some sort of prophet. It's a good thing he wasn't born in a more violent region of the world, because I could see him doing all sorts of bad stuff in the name of some weird cause. Ah, wrestling. You've got to love it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jeter Most Overrated?

Well, duh. It was annoying to hear the PTI and ATH people complaining about Derek Jeter being voted the most overrated player in baseball among his peers in Sports Illustrated. Is this such a revelation? Jeter is a damn good player, but he unquestionably is a bigger superstar than merited by his play because he is a handsome guy that plays for the Yankees and has played a lot in the postseason. If he had spent his career playing for the Kansas City Royals, can you imagine how much different his aura and name would be? Compare Jeter’s stats to those of one of the guys on the most underrated list: Bobby Abreu. Both are excellent defenders. Jeter played his first full season two years before Abreu, but they have very similar career lines:

Abreu: 4816 AB, 876 R, 1458 H, 194 HR, 796 RBI, 246 SB, .303 BA, .412 OBP, .512 SLG, .924 OPS

Jeter: 6266 AB, 1180 R, 1972 H, 172 HR, 783 RBI, 217 SB, .315 BA, .387 OBP, .463 SLG, .850 OPS

Amazingly similar, yet Abreu isn’t in Jeter’s league as far as rep and notoriety. So yeah Jeter’s overrated. What’s surprising isn’t that someone would make this claim, but why anyone would fight it with gusto.

Inside Man

I finally got around to seeing Inside Man today. Yeah, I know, it's been out for like 3 years, but I've been really busy. I'm glad I got to see it in theaters. It's one of those movies that really keeps you consumed in trying to figure out what's going on the whole way through, and that's tough because a lot of the time there comes a point when you just get tired of doing all the work in your head and just sort of drift back and wait. It's a very encouraging sign from Spike Lee, because I love Spike and he's churned out some real garbage recently. This isn't the work of a director that's slipping, as he tells a great story and does so with style and all the typical commentaries on race that you expect from a Spike Lee joint. I'm not sure where I put it on his lexicon. Maybe fourth, behind Malcolm X (an absolute masterpiece in my opinion), Do the Right Thing and 25th Hour. The cast of course is also superb. Jodie Foster is one of my very favorite actresses, and she plays a sort of unusual role for her. Denzel is Denzel, and Clive Owen is turning out to be one hell of an actor. He's one role away from being regarded as one of the greatest actors on the planet.


For those of you who are subscribers to Figure Four Weekly Online, there is a fantastic interview with Konnan that I highly recommend. And come to think of it, just about anything involving Konnan speaking candidly I highly recommend. He did one of the very best RF Video shoot interviews, and is one of the best WOL guests as well. Just a really bright guy with so much knowledge of the business. I don't understand why he hasn't been given an opportunity to play a major role in the creative process in the United States, because he obviously would be very good at it. Well, I can give reasons why he hasn't been given those opportunities, but they just aren't good ones. He would be on my short list of wrestling minds to tap if I were starting up a wrestling promotion.

Demise of the Wrestling Observer Online

It wasn't really meant to be anyway. This whole internet fad is in its last stages. As for me, I'm thinking of bringing my Raw Reports to the Other Arena. I've only had preliminary discussions, but I think it's a great fit for me.

Joking aside, I have no idea what's going on with the site, but this was certainly an intereresting little turn of events. Anyone want to start a pool as to when the site will be back up and running?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I probably shouldn't post this...

But I couldn't resist after seeing it on a message board.

On allegations of sexual abuse by Kwame Brown:

"Well it could only be 'attempted' sexual assualt. We all know that Kwame is incapable of putting it in the hole, even from point blank range."

I'm not making light of sexual assault. Just Kwame Brown's ability to play basketball.

Americans Better at Geography than Some Thought

CNN has a story about how Americans don't know geography very well, and had a quiz for people. I got all the questions right, but double clicked one of the answers or something, and got this amusing conclusion from CNN.com:

"You got 7 out of 6 correct on your first attempt.On the bright side, you're solidly in the mainstream."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 05/01/06 from Columbus, OH.

The Big News: We were coasting through a typical edition of Raw when all of a sudden something bizarre happened, and WWE programming became exciting again. Joey Styles cut an awesome promo on WWE’s brand of sports entertainment that said all the things most of us have been thinking for ages now. It was as close to an uncompromised promo as you could expect, and more on point than Paul Heyman’s interview in front of a much smaller audience at One Night Stand last year.

It was the single most encouraging development on Raw in years, perhaps even 2001. And it was followed by another intriguing segment that suggests HHH’s face turn and reunion with Shawn Michaels could be coming as soon as next week. There’s an opportunity to create a fresh and compelling main event mix. The key is what they do with John Cena’s character. Amazingly, suddenly, unexpectedly, there’s reason for optimism.

Title Changes/Turns: Joey Styles turned. In which direction depends upon your perspective.

Match Results: Maria & Torrie Wilson b Victoria & Candice Michelle; Mikey Mondo, Nicky Nemeth & Johnny Jeter b Eugene Dinsmore, Gene Snitsky & Goldust; Kane b Rob Conway; Umaga b Rory Fox; Carlito Caribbean Cool & Rob Van Dam b Chris Masters & Shelton Benjamin; John Cena b Nicky Doane.

Show Analysis:

Vince McMahon announced that like God, he was going to take a night off, and make the Spirit Squad GMs for the night. Remember when he was just there to hire a new general manager? He’s like the South American military leader that says he is coming in to reinstall democracy but instead becomes an unwanted dictator.

In any event, the Squad drew spirit straws, and Kenny won, earning him a title shot against John Cena in the main event. They are not very bright. Why not just make a six pack challenge for the title? They also showed Backlash highlights really frequently throughout the show. Well, highlights is probably the wrong word. Actually, they hit just about every lowlight on the show.

Maria and Torrie Wilson beat Mickie James and Victoria. They were all dressed in cheerleader outfits, which I enjoyed more than I should have. Torrie gave Victoria the stink face, and Maria gave Mickie the bronco buster. At that point it became very hard to pan the match. Trish ran in and grabbed Mickie’s leg as she went to suplex Maria into the ring. Maria collapsed on top of Mickie and scored the win. Mickie later went for revenge on Maria during the Kiss Cam segment.

The Spirit Squad (Nicky, Johnny and Mikey) beat the Odd Squad (Eugene, Goldust and the ever popular Gene Snitsky). This match made me happy because they gave the other team a name and theme, like a really crappy Survivor Series team. It’s not quite Roddy’s Rowdies versus Rude’s Brood, but it will have to do. They literally completely cut away from the match to show Vince McMahon backstage doing nothing. It was like Nitro. Spirit Squad and Odd Squad played the role of Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko, while Vince McMahon played the role of Hulk Hogan walking into the building.

Anyway, the Squad worked over Eugene. He hit Rock Bottom and made the hot tag to Snitsky. Squad quickly gained back control and Johnny hit a spin kick on Eugene for the pin. The crowd was dead for this, shock of all shocks. The interviewer was instructed backstage to ask Eugene how it felt to lose, which was pretty funny. Eugene said Eric Bischoff taught him one lesson, to never quit. Then he thought about it and realized Bischoff did try to get him to quit and was a real jerk. He gloated about still having a job. Matt Striker then attacked him with a dictionary. The highlight was Eugene selling the beating by remarking “ow.”

Spirit Squad confronted Shawn Michaels backstage. They were very happy about their plan. They gave him the night off as a wrestler, but made him referee for Kane vs. Rob Conway. Worse, he had to wear a shirt that said May 19. Styles said this was brilliant. You know what would have been brilliant? Put him in a singles match with Kane if you dislike him so much. Hell, make him wear the t-shirt in that. Shockingly, the Squad’s plan didn’t work out.

Shawn Michaels pulled a Reggie Evans on Rob Conway before the match, and put the May 19 shirt on him. Throughout the match he kept waiving May 19 in Kane’s face and laughing, and somehow this made Kane angry at Conway. I wonder if Shawn wrote May 19 on a piece of cardboard and kept waiving it in Kane’s face whether Kane would attack the cardboard and drop elbows on it while leaving Michaels alone. In any event, Michaels was joking around, again teasing DX. He brought a garbage can into the ring, and Kane hit Conway with it and gave him the choke slam.

Kane left, but Michaels got on the mic and said May 19 a bunch of times. Kane came back to the ring, and concluded somehow that the guy speaking in Michaels’ voice was not Michaels, but actually the unconscious Conway. So he scooped up the unconscious Conway, gave him the tombstone and pinned him. This whole thing was hilarious, but I was laughing at them, not with them. This segment didn’t have the slightest bit of believability. You didn’t feel the wrestlers were acting based on real motivations, but rather were just playing out a cute idea by bad script writers.

Umaga beat “Rapid Delivery” Rory Fox~! Armando spoke some Spanish before the match. He should really avoid doing so, because his accent is awful and people will quickly catch onto the fact he’s of Palestinian heritage. Umaga hit a splash off the top and the thumb to the throat for the win. WWE’s choices for pushes are so unbelievably suspect.

Backstage, Vince McMahon was cuddling with Candice Michelle, who said she had Labiagitis. Vince asked if that was acute, and she said it is cute. Wow, that’s rather vulgar. They started making out. HHH came in, and made a joke about McMahon getting an erection. HHH and Vince then got into a discussion/subtle argument, where they teased dissension between the two. Vince wanted him to be special referee for the main event. HHH wanted a future title shot if Kenny won, but Vince basically told him to or else.

Mick Foley was the guest on the Cutting Edge. Edge said he still has a claim to the title since Cena pinned HHH. He said he doesn’t get any respect, and added his win at Mania was tarnished by Joey Styles’ commentary. Mick Foley came out and said he hasn’t forgot the Mania match. At first he wanted to figure out what went wrong, but realized things went right. He said it might have been the greatest hardcore match of his career and in history. Don’t push it, Mick.

He called Edge the toughest SOB in WWE, shook his hand, shook Lita’s hand and gave Lita a kiss on the cheek. He said he got his defining Mania moment, and showed Edge’s face after spearing Foley through the flaming table. Foley said that moment was realizing Edge would never be the same. Edge would never want to go through that again, while Foley does. Foley challenged him to a rematch right there. Edge said “You’re on.” He continued, “You’re on crack.”

Edge said he would take on Foley in any match he wants next week. Foley threatened to cut him open with barbed wire, razor wire and thumbtacks. So apparently they are meeting in some stipulation match next week on Raw. That’s surprising. I might even go to the show in Anaheim weren’t I in the middle of exams. Okay, so maybe that isn’t entirely true given exams aren’t stopping me from going to PWG this weekend.

Chris Masters said he has proven he’s superior to Carlito, because Carlito needed to cheat to beat him. Rob Van Dam came out for a Masterlock Challenge, but Benjamin ran in and attacked him when the Masterlock was applied. Carlito made the save with a chair, so Spirit Squad made a tag match.

Rob Van Dam and Carlito beat Chris Masters and Shelton Benjamin. They cut away from this match as well for Vince and Candice backstage, but given what Vince was doing with Candice, it was not unwelcome at all. Spirit Squad gave Styles a note during this match, so he left. The heels worked over RVD, including a power slam by Benjamin. RVD came back with a spinning heel kick and made the tag to Carlito.

Carlito came in with punches, a back body drop, a springboard elbow and a drop kick. Benjamin hit him with a crescent kick, but RVD hit Benjamin with a kick off the top. Masters went for the press slam on Masters, but received the back cracker instead. Benjamin went to bring in a chair, but Charlie Haas took it away and Carlito rolled up Benjamin with the tights for the pin. This wasn’t as good as it should have been.

Spirit Squad backstage told Joey Styles he was doing a bad job. He had a lack of spirit, and was giving off negative energy. The Squad said if he didn’t do a better job he would have to wear a female cheerleader’s outfit. Jerry Lawler was amused when Styles came back, and started mocking him. Lawler said he should show some enthusiasm, and he would do so if this were ECW. Styles responded, “If this were ECW, I wouldn’t be working with a hat like you.” That got a big reaction from the crowd.

Styles got pissed off. He shoved Lawler twice and slapped him. This was great. Lawler called him a little idiot and shoved him to the ground. Styles left to ECW chants. Lawler apologized after the break to Styles, and asked him to come back out. Styles came out, and proceeded to cut an awesome promo. He said he would show why for seven years in ECW he was the loose cannon of commentary.

Styles said that six months ago, WWE called him because they had humiliated and fired Jim Ross. So he got Ross’ spot, and from week one got a lecture on the difference between professional wrestling and sports entertainment. He isn’t allowed to say wrestler or wrestling, only sports entertainment and superstars. He is told to deliberately ignore the moves and holds, when that is damn insulting to wrestlers. Because he is not sports entertainment, he gets pulled from WrestleMania for Jim Ross, the guy he was hired to replace in the first place.

Then he is pulled from Backlash. In ECW he called live PPVs solo, but now he is not good enough to call Backlash because he’s not a sports entertainment storyteller. He said he is sick of sports entertainment, male cheerleaders, boogers, bathroom humor, semen and Vince McMahon, who mocks God to feed his own ego. Amen. Furthermore, he’s sick of fans who buy into that crap. Double amen. That got boos, and the crowd treated it as a heel turn. He said he never needed his job, and doesn’t want it. “I quit,” he concluded. He was cheered in a “we’re glad you’re leaving” sort of way.

John Cena beat Nicky Doane. Cena controlled the match early with an elbow drop, punches and a suplex. He went for the FU, but HHH punched him. The Spirit Squad then beat on Cena for the rest of the match, but HHH was always really slow and lazy to count. Kenny eventually got furious and shoved HHH. HHH punched him back, gave Mitch a pedigree, and left.

As he was leaving, Shawn Michaels came out with a referee shirt, and they stared at each other for a while. Kenny hit a leg drop off the top on Cena, and Michaels went to count but stopped counting at two. Kenny went crazy. Michaels gave him sweet chin music and a crotch chop. Michaels and Cena cleared the ring, and Cena gave Kenny the FU for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

Wow. The Joey Styles promo was the most entertaining segment on WWE television in ages. I didn’t think much of the return of ECW, but it can be meaningful if it provides an alternative vision to professional wrestling that has been badly missing in recent years. I want them to go with a theme of fans against fans. Encourage the fans of “sports entertainment” and “professional wrestling” to battle it out. Make them choose sides, not unlike WCW vs. NWO.

In all honesty, the real problem isn’t terms like pro wrestling and sports entertainment, or ECW versus WWE. It’s an issue of a product that is logical, treats its fans with respect, and pushes based on talent versus a product that is illogical, insulting and pushes people who bring next to nothing to the table. The more the former asserts itself, the less the latter will grip the common fan base in an apathetic, unresponsive malaise that doesn’t much care for the current product but is resigned to nothing better coming along.

I’m not against sports entertainment as a concept. WWF was the first product that I watched. I just want logical storylines that I can get into, interesting characters, matches with results I care about, and pushes given to people who can talk and/or wrestle and have more than just a look, a name or a connection.

This all boils down to one basic problem: over the past few years nobody with Vince’s ear is telling him what sucks. It can only be regarded as a positive when someone is scripting valid complaints about the product to be voiced on the air. It suggests there is some realization of those problems backstage. Maybe the fact UFC is killing WWE on PPV this year woke them up. Whatever it is, there needs to be more introspection, not less.

The most encouraging thing I can say for this show is that for the first time in ages, I am genuinely excited to see what happens on the next show. I get that feeling when I watch ROH. I get that feeling when I watch UFC. I get that feeling when I watch PWG. It’s about time I got that feeling when I watch WWE again.