Monday, July 31, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 07/31/06 from East Rutherford, NJ

The Big News: Ric Flair finally got his comeback on Mick Foley, while the McMahons got the better of DX for the first time in forever.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Match Results: Johnny Nitro b Carlito and Shelton Benjamin; Trish Stratus & Candice Michelle b Victoria & Mickie James; John Cena b Matt Striker; Rory McAllister b Johnny Jeter; Umaga b Shawn Michaels.

Show Analysis:

The McMahons came out to start the show, and things went haywire on the west coast USA feed of Raw. They cut away from the McMahons, and came back with a feed of the McMahons standing over an unconscious Shawn Michaels, and Jim Ross speculating if this would happen to HHH next week. Yes, they cut to the end of the show here three minutes in. One has to wonder if USA is trying to send viewers a message. They then went to the next show on USA, and I thought that was that.

But no, WWE would not be so easily deterred on this evening. The screen went black, and then we came back to Shawn Michaels cutting a promo from last week. This was great perverse entertainment. It was like a wondrous trip through space and time. This should have happened on the ECW show to appease the Sci-Fi folks. We got to go into the future, and back in time, like the Jetsons Meet the Flintstones movie or those movies about the guy who went back to the future, I forget the name. As Coach came out, they cut back to this week, and Shawn Michaels and HHH were interrupting the McMahons.

Shawn and Hunter had photos from the McMahon family album. They showed Vince as a kid, which was him with an “I love cocks” outfit. They showed Shane as a kid, with a silver spoon literally in his mouth. Finally, they showed Stephanie’s child, with HHH’s face. Shawn noted she looks familiar. Shane threatened to change their diapers at SummerSlam, and DX and the McMahons then argued about whose music would get played to end the segment. This was totally bizarre television, and it’s an interesting tact to build a grudge match by emphasizing that the whole feud is a work and they are family members.

Throughout the show, they ran prerecorded vignettes with the divas saying who they wanted to see eliminated. I only mention this because the first one was hilarious. The girl said who she wanted to see go, and stopped. They proceeded to air an extra five seconds of dead air and then a bell rang before they cut back to the show. She was going to get her time whether she wanted it or not. Also as a random note, Jim Ross threw in a billion pop culture references this show, including to the BCS, Terrell Owens, Shakira, the WNBA and Rosie O’Donnell. It was like he was trying to throw in contemporary references to balance out JBL on Smackdown.

Johnny Nitro retained the Intercontinental Title, defeating Carlito and Shelton Benjamin in a triple threat match. They thanked TSN in Canada, and advertised Raw coming to the Score next week. Benjamin hit a somersault plancha on the other two to start the match. Carlito used a knee lift and clothesline on Benjamin, and elbows and a huracanrana on Nitro. Benjamin came back with a tornado DDT on Carlito and made the cover, but Melina put Carlito’s foot on the ropes. Nitro then jumped both guys from behind and grabbed Carlito’s tights for the pin. Carlito and Benjamin seemed motivated here, and this was pretty good.

Next up was “Orton Knows Best.” This was not a good segment. Randy Orton said after he kills the legend of Hulk Hogan, he will move on to movies, books and a reality show. He introduced the cast, which was comprised of four actors imitating the Hogan family. I wonder if most Raw viewers would be able to tell who the real and the fake Nick and Linda are. Fake Brooke was more attractive than Real Brooke. Orton attacked Nick and threw him out of the ring, and then came onto Brooke. Hulk cut a promo on Orton, so Orton gave him an RKO. He smacked Jerry Lawler on the way out. This was played for comedy, but nobody was laughing and it wasn’t like it was getting heat either. After this, Lawler challenged Orton to a match next week in Memphis.

Armando thanked Vince and Shane for giving Umaga the match with Shawn Michaels. He congratulated them on the child, and offered Cuban cigars. They asked for a few more boxes. Candice and Trish beat Victoria and Mickie, with Torrie Wilson as the special referee. This was a bad match. Candice’s offense has no believability. Victoria and Mickie worked her over for a bit, but Victoria got crotched and she made the tag. That led to the only good section of the match, as Trish came in with the Stratusphere, forearms, chops and a power bomb. Mickie went to the eyes and hit a knee, but then Torrie stopped grabbed her to stop her and Trish “hit” a badly botched Stratusfaction for the pin.

Melina introduced Mick Foley, who said he would give the fans what they want, Foley and Ric Flair in that ring that night. This didn’t get much of a reaction, unfortunately. He then intimated that instead they would go after tag team gold, and basically said he was joking on that as well. Foley pointed out the similarities between himself and Flair. He said they both help out young superstars, as Flair took Randy Orton under his wing, and Foley took Melina under his wing.

Foley said Flair is a personal friend of the president while he is a personal friend of a hardcore porn star. He pointed out the porn star got a better reaction than Bush, and was correct in that. He said that one of those two got to the top by screwing a bunch of people, and the other appeared in adult films. Foley said that he made national headlines with his book, while Flair made national headlines with his road rage incident. At this point a livid Ric Flair came out and told Foley to shut up. He said no one cares about their books, and Foley’s lazier than Alex Rodriguez.

Flair referenced Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, Harley Race and Terry Funk, and said they aren’t imaginary bad asses. He said they would walk over Foley on the way to the bathroom. Foley sold this really well. Flair said that after Foley busted him open, he wants to taste Foley’s blood. Flair wants Foley with barbed wire, thumb tacks, nails and the like. Foley seemed intimidated. Flair threatened to shove Socko up Foley’s ass. He asked again if people want to see Flair and Foley, and again it got a tepid reaction. Flair said he wants whatever Cactus Jack has.

Flair said that Foley’s stuff about his family is crap when he’s running around with Melina. Flair said Melina is his sort of woman, and 15 years ago she would have rode Space Mountain. Foley replied that Flair sees her as a sexual conquest, whereas he sees her as a human being and a friend. He added that he only sees what his porn star friend has done with children overseas. Foley then labeled Flair an absentee father and multiple time divorcee. Flair looked pissed off as all hell, and Foley backed off quickly.

Foley said that one final thing they have in common is they are both fathers, and Foley never had the bonding experience of being able to tell his son he’s been arrested. Flair attacked him. Coach came out and announced Flair vs. Foley for SummerSlam, which still didn’t get much of a reaction. Foley said his contract says he wrestles when he wants. He only has so many matches left and doesn’t want to waste one on Flair. With that, he left. I’m not sure how well it played to the audience, but I absolutely loved this segment. It was fantastic build. Both men did a great job and Foley in particular was phenomenal.

John Cena beat Matt Striker. Edge came out to do commentary, but didn’t do so for very long, because Cena won with basically no effort. It was just the Cena slam, five knuckle shuffle, FU, and out. Cena drew the Cena reaction, with more boos than cheers. One prominent sign said “anyone but Cena.” That fan can’t possibly mean that. Just look at the WWE roster today. There are four dozen people nobody on earth would rather see every week in a more prominent position than Cena.

I don’t get the Cena backlash in general. Yeah, he’s not a particularly good wrestler. But it isn’t like work is being emphasized in WWE these days, and there are plenty of guys just as bad if not worse than him in the ring. And he’s got tons of charisma, is a good talker, a class act, works hard and represents the company well. He doesn’t even have the title any more, so what’s the problem? There’s a lot in WWE these days that deserves fan backlash, but pushing John Cena isn’t in the top 1000.

Rory of the Highlanders beat Johnny Jeter. Spirit Squad did a particularly obnoxious (in a good way) cheer before the match. If Mel Gibson isn’t able to get future movies approved, I suggest signing him to do six man tag matches with the Highlanders to give them the rub. Or at the very least, he needs to do a cameo and call Melina sugar tits. The Squad was interfering freely, so they were ejected from ringside. Johnny worked over Rory, and Ross was inspired to do a pirate impression for some reason. This was very funny. Lawler pointed out that isn’t the Highlanders’ gimmick. Rory hit a back body drop and a uranage into a back breaker. He hit the Johnny Go Round, and stopped to gloat. Rory rolled him up for the pin.

Next up was the diva search. They were booed. They eliminated another of the women. She was sad. And we’re one step closer to 11 months free of the diva search. Investigators backstage wanted to search HHH and Michaels’ bags for illegal substances. They found Cuban cigars in HHH’s bag. The investigator asked HHH to leave with him, and said they could do it the easy way or the hard way. Before Mr. Lewis had the opportunity to stretch Hunter, Hunter decided to leave freely.

Umaga beat Shawn Michaels. With HHH gone, Michaels was up against Umaga, as well as Armando, Vince and Shane in the corner. Michaels was faster early with chops, punches and a drop kick. Umaga took over with a head butt and rammed him into the announce table. He missed a butt drop and Michaels responded with chops and a flying forearm. Armando tried to interfere, but Michaels grabbed him and Umaga accidentally collided with Armando.

Umaga hit the Samoan drop and threw a fit over what happened to Armando. Umaga missed the Samoan drop, and Michaels came back with a low blow and elbow off the top. Michaels went for sweet chin music, but Vince grabbed his leg. Shane ran in and Michaels took him out, but walked into the Samoan spike for the pin. The McMahons jumped Michaels after the match, and Shane gave him sweet chin music with a chair. They announced next week Umaga will wrestle HHH.

Final Thoughts:

This show was fine by current WWE standards. It didn’t insult me, and there wasn’t anything terribly counterproductive. Plus, the Foley-Flair segment was tons of fun. That’s good enough for me. One important point for Raw is that they need to pick up the Orton-Hogan build. That’s probably the most important match to drawing a buy rate for SummerSlam, and it has been underwhelming thus far.


What an idiot. I've never been impressed with him, but today was definitely the capper of his tenure with the Nationals. To not trade Alfonso Soriano is inexcusable. It was obvious from the beginning that Bowden was asking way too much for him, and rather than just accept that the market wasn't that strong, he refused to budge out of arrogance and sheer spite for trade partners, and the Nationals rather than getting some solid if not elite prospects are stuck with compensatory draft picks. What stupidity. The Nationals farm system has been a joke, and despite ownership making this the number one priority, it's actually gotten worse.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Jared Jeffries Signs Offer Sheet with Knicks

Jared Jeffries signed a five year, $30M deal with the Knicks, and doesn't want the Wizards to match. Good. The Wizards shouldn't match anyway. You can get guys like Jared Jeffries in the draft every single year. He's a decent player and works hard, but he's just a part. He's not going to justify the contract, and the Wizards should have learned their lesson when they matched an offer to Etan Thomas a few offseasons ago (I supported that move at the time). Good luck Jared, you're going to have fun being reunited with your Indiana brethren Isaiah. Well, for a year or so, anyway.

Mel Gibson Goes INSANE

Seriously, this story had me laughing as hard as I've laughed in ages. You think the capper to the evening has occurred, and then the story just keeps getting better and better. This is a pro wrestling/Iron Sheik level meltdown. You couldn't design a comedic story to make someone look worse. I mean, you could definitely make someone look worse, but not without making them seem totally sinister and evil. Gibson just comes across as a crackpot out of a Warner Brothers cartoon. I guess this puts to rest the debate about the intentions of Passion of the Christ.

I'm predicting 3 summers from now we'll have Mel Gibson vs. Tom Cruise the movie, marketed like Freddie vs. Jason. Mel Gibson will always have the nod for me, for Braveheart if no other reason.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

NFC South Thoughts

And the NFC South:

Panthers 13-3
The Panthers are at this point probably my favorite to win the NFC Championship. This is a really good team. The defense will likely suffer from a number of key departures, and I wish they had a more balanced lineup. That said, their strength at the defensive line is scary. Kris Jenkins is only 26, so I expect him to rebound from back to back season ending injuries. Maake Kemoeatu was a great signing, and those two with Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker forms as impressive of a defensive line as I can recall. Keyshawn Johnson will be a nice complement to Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams provides some much needed insurance for DeShaun Foster. This team will be strong on both sides of the ball.

Falcons 9-7
The Falcons have the potential to be even better than this, depending on how Michael Vick performs. The defense is going to be really good if the offense can take some of the pressure off it. I love the acquisition of John Abraham, added to a strong line anchored by Rod Coleman. DeAngelo Hall is already a top of the line corner, and Keith Brooking is a high quality LB as well. The offensive line will be strong, and the running game will be just fine. It’s up to Michael Vick to make use of his weapons, and I think he will have a nice season that will take off some of the pressure off of him from critics.

Buccaneers 8-8
The Bucs overachieved last year given all the problems they faced. I picked them as my surprise team, but I probably wouldn’t have if you had told me Brian Griese would be lost for the season and Michael Clayton would have less than 400 yards receiving and no touchdowns. They did well, but they still face the same problems. Chris Simms is a big question mark at QB. Joey Galloway isn’t likely to duplicate last year’s production. Cadillac Williams, while a big favorite of mine, has to prove he can stay healthy. The aging core of a once mighty defense needs to stay productive on the wrong side of 30. With all that said, I like their young players on O, and I think their defensive veterans have another year left in them. That leaves them right in the middle, although I could see them easily being much better or worse.

Saints 5-11
The Saints should be more fun with Reggie Bush, but it remains to be seen how much better they will be. The bigger acquisition this year will likely be Drew Brees, who the Chargers will regret letting go. The problem is he needs a recovery from a 34 year old Joe Horn, or the long awaited breakthrough from Donte Stallworth (never gonna happen). Otherwise, defenses can load up and crush Brees, Bush and McAllister. The defense is even more iffy, with a real dearth of talent. Add it up to a team that will provide more hope, but not all that much.

NFC North Thoughts

A while back I gave my thoughts on the NFC East, and with the NFL season rapidly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how the season’s going to go. My thoughts on the NFC North:

Bears 9-7
The usually woeful Bears have a breakout season and make the playoffs behind a strong defense. Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. It didn’t turn out that well last time, as their 2001 success was followed up by a plummet back to Earth the next year. Plus, that team had a better offense than this one does, with an unsettled quarterback situation, and not very much at the skill positions. Thus, I am very much tempted to pick a fall from the Bears. The problem is the rest of the division is really weak, so I’ll still take them to make the playoffs on the strength of a great defense (that won’t change – they have too many quality young players) and hopefully for them a good running game with Cedric Benson and potentially Thomas Jones.

Lions 7-9
I think we will see modest improvement from Detroit, although much like the Bears, I’m picking a moderately decent season practically by default in this division. I love the signing of Jon Kitna possibly the most of any signing this offseason. He is a good QB that they got cheap and who will make Detroit’s young wide receivers look a lot better. They don’t need all three to turn out to be playmakers, but I think Mike Martz will find a way to make something out of the group. I don’t like him as a head coach, but I like him a lot as an offensive coordinator. I like their secondary, so if they can get pressure on the quarterback I think they should be good enough to finish decently.

Packers 7-9
People are underselling the Packers because so many things have gone wrong for them in recent years. Favre, Green, Driver and Franks compose a quality core group of skill players on offense. The defense should be improved with A.J. Hawk and Charles Woodson, even if the latter wasn’t worth what they paid to him. I think KGB will rebound from a weak season. That’s enough to give the Packers more hope than a lot of people are giving them, and I think they could be a surprise team. That said, I’m not fully sold on the health of their O, the skill of their D or the competence of their head coach, so I’m picking them to rebound only to a certain degree.

Vikings 6-10
A lot of people seem sold on the Vikings, but I’m not one of them. To begin with, they weren’t that good last year. They had a lot of luck in winning close games against teams that weren’t that good, and they looked bad in many of their losses. Their defense is anchored primarily by aging players. I’m not sold on Chester Taylor, who has good but unspectacular YPC numbers behind a typically strong offensive line and has never taken a season’s worth of carries. Brad Johnson is the surest player to not make it through the NFL season other than Kurt Warner. If everything goes right, they could be good. But there are way too many things that can go wrong.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Most Unintentionally Funny Headline Ever

ESPN: "If the winner of the Tour de France cheated, can we trust anyone again?"

Welcome to 2006, pal.

Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada

Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. Jack Brisco and Dory Funk, Jr. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Professional wrestling has had its share of classic in-ring feuds. Few, however, have come close to representing pro wrestling as well as that between Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada. Linked together from an early age, they went on to produce some of the best matches of all time. It is only appropriate that they are inducted into the Inside the Squared Circle Hall of Fame together.

Mitsuharu Misawa was born in 1962 and Toshiaki Kawada in 1963. They attended the same high school, where both won amateur wrestling championships. Misawa joined All Japan Pro Wrestling upon graduation in 1981, and Kawada followed him in 1982. Kawada would almost always be one step behind Misawa from that point on. Both Misawa and Kawada were identified as future stars, but it was Misawa who was groomed to be the next big thing and named Tokyo Sports’ Rookie of the Year. Both were sent overseas to learn their craft. Misawa went to Mexico while Kawada went to Canada. Both Kawada and Misawa returned to Japan at the same approximate time, but it was Misawa’s return that received all of the fanfare. He had learned the lucha libre style to differentiate himself from other young Japanese stars, and he was to become the second Tiger Mask.

The original Tiger Mask, Satoru Sayama, revolutionized professional wrestling in the early 1980s. Feuding with the likes of the Dynamite Kid, he was a hero to children and proved that light heavyweight wrestlers could be stars too. For All Japan to make Misawa the second Tiger Mask was a great honor, and Misawa capitalized on the opportunity. From 1985 to 1990 he rose up the card and became All Japan’s top young wrestler, beginning feuds and partnerships with Jumbo Tsuruta, Toshiaki Kawada and Kenta Kobashi. Kawada occupied a lower spot on the card, winning the All-Asian Tag Team Titles three times as part of the Foot Loose with partner Samson Fuyuki.

In 1990, All Japan was reeling. It had been build upon older stars and was left in trouble when one of its top stars, Genichiro Tenryu, took a big money offer to form a new promotion. Giant Baba finally decided to elevate his younger stars to headlining positions. This move ended up being wildly successful. Kawada helped to untie the mask of Tiger Mask on May 14, 1990, and Mitsuharu Misawa revealed himself as the next great superstar of All Japan. Shortly thereafter, in a legendary match, Misawa finally pinned rival Jumbo Tsuruta to establish himself as All Japan’s top star. The next few years would be occupied by a feud over control of All Japan. Misawa and Kawada led the next generation of pro wrestling against Jumbo Tsuruta and his group. They would hold the All Japan World Tag Team Championship twice, and this was just the start of bigger things.

On August 22, 1992 Mitsuharu Misawa captured the All Japan Triple Crown Championship for the first time by defeating Stan Hansen. This was the start of the longest Triple Crown reign in history. Kawada defeated Akira Taue to earn a shot at the belt, and Misawa and Kawada would wrestle for the Triple Crown for the first time on All Japan’s 20th Anniversary show October 21, 1992. Misawa defeated Kawada in that match, and defeated him in a rematch on July 29, 1993. In 1994, Kawada won the prestigious Champion Carnival tournament by beating Steve Williams. That earned him a third shot at the Triple Crown against Misawa, but once again Kawada came up short.

While Kawada was unable to unseat Misawa, Misawa would fall victim to Steve Williams, losing the title July 28, 1994. That gave Kawada his opportunity, and he captured the Triple Crown for the first time by beating Williams October 22, 1994. Unfortunately for Kawada, he could not escape the shadow of Misawa. While Misawa had long, healthy runs as Triple Crown Champion, Kawada’s runs with the belt were brief and unsatisfying. Kawada quickly lost the title to Stan Hansen, and he would have only one successful title defense in his first four runs as Triple Crown Champion.

Misawa would once again rise to the top of All Japan by unseating Hansen for the belt. Despite having lost three title matches to Misawa, Kawada was determined to vanquish him. In a classic match on June 9, 1995, Kawada finally scored a pin over Misawa in a world tag title match where Kawada and Akira Taue stopped Misawa and Kenta Kobashi. This gave Kawada his fourth shot at Misawa’s Triple Crown Title on July 25, 1995. Again, Misawa would emerge victorious. Kawada was seemingly out of the title picture, but he once again would battle his way back. He scored a second pin over Misawa in a bout where Kawada and Taue defeated Misawa and Jun Akiyama. Then, in 1997, the Champion Carnival tournament came down to a three way final with Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi. After Misawa and Kobashi wrestled to a thirty minute draw, a fresh Kawada beat Misawa for the first time in a singles match. He then defeated Kobashi to capture the tournament. That set up Kawada’s fifth Triple Crown title shot against Misawa. Finally, Kawada would defeat his long time rival. Well, no. Misawa won, yet again.

On May 1, 1998 All Japan would run its first ever show at the massive Tokyo Dome. It was only natural that the main event would be Kawada once again challenging Misawa for the Triple Crown Title. In front of a crowd of 58,300 people and a $4 million gate, Kawada finally pinned Misawa to win the Triple Crown Title. Kawada was on top of the world, but unfortunately that high would not last long. He would lose the belt in his first title defense the next month against Kenta Kobashi. Misawa would beat Kobashi for his fourth title run, and that would set up his seventh battle with Kawada for the Triple Crown Title on January 22, 1999. In the match that perhaps best symbolizes their rivalry, Kawada beat Misawa but broke his hand in the process. He would be forced to vacate the title. Misawa won back the title from Vader, and the returning Kawada would challenge Misawa for the belt one last time on July 24, 1999. Misawa would beat Kawada for the title one final time.

In 2000, All Japan was coming apart at the seams. Following the death of Giant Baba, there was a struggle for power between Misawa and Baba’s widow Motoko. Misawa left All Japan to form Pro Wrestling Noah, and took with him just about every wrestler on the All Japan roster. One of only two exceptions was Toshiaki Kawada, who had resentment towards Misawa and loyalty towards Baba. Before Misawa left, he had one last showdown against Kawada, in the first round of the 2000 Champion Carnival elimination tournament. Appropriately, Misawa reigned supreme one last time.

Misawa and Kawada continue to wrestle professionally, but injuries have taken their toll. Misawa has held Noah’s GHC Championship twice, and currently holds the GHC Tag Team Titles along with Yoshinari Ogawa. They beat Keiji Muto and Taiyo Kea to retain those belts in the semi-main event of Noah’s recent Tokyo Dome show. Misawa is currently building towards a singles match with Keiji Muto. Without Kawada, All Japan likely would have collapsed. Kawada did good business feuding with New Japan, and upheld the All Japan name. He won the All Japan Triple Crown Title in a tournament in September of 2003, and still holds the title having defeated the likes of Mark Coleman, Don Frye, Shinya Hashimoto, Gladiator Mike Awesome, and Mick Foley.

The legacy of Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada will more than anything be for putting on fantastic wrestling matches. They are tied for the record with five All Japan Triple Crown Titles, and they are two of the biggest stars in recent Japanese wrestling history. They dominated the prestigious Wrestling Observer Wrestler of the Year award in the 1990s. More than anything else, they will be remembered for the feud they had with each other, which produced some of the greatest matches in pro wrestling history. It is our pleasure to induct into the Inside the Squared Circle Hall of Fame, Mitusharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada.

Still to Come: Freddie Blassie & The Sheik, Jumbo Tsuruta & Riki Choshu, Verne Gagne, Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki, Gorgeous George.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"ECW" Report

Oh My God!: They are determined to get Big Show over as ECW Champion, and he defeated Kane this week.

You Fucked Up: Two of the four the matches this week ended in a cheap disqualification.

He’s Hardcore: Balls Mahoney hit the referee with a chair for disqualifying him.The Extreme Rundown:

1. Sandman beat Mike Knox via disqualification, because this wasn’t extreme rules. Knox before the match said Kelly can never take her clothes off in public again. Thank God. Knox said that Sandman hit her on purpose with the cane, and he would never abandon her. Knox is as boring on the mic as he is in the ring. The match lasted less than two minutes. Sandman hit a side Russian leg sweep, and brought his cane into the ring. He was going to hit Knox with it, but Knox held Kelly in front of him. Test came in and laid out Sandman with the TKO. Tommy Dreamer attacked both of them backstage.

Elsewhere, Sabu wanted a title match with the Big Show. Paul Heyman refused, and gave Sabu the night off. He then confronted Little Guido, who he accused of saying something under his breath. Guido didn’t do anything, but Heyman escalated the situation and the riot squad ended up attacking Guido. They threw him into a wall, and then Heyman had them drag him out to the ring for his match.

2. The Vampire, accompanied by Ariel the Fortune Teller, defeated Little Guido. Before the match, they ran a final CM Punk introductory promo. He said he was born in Chicago and raised on the streets. He saw a lot of people handed things while he had to fight for everything he had. He said he is disciplined enough to wait, but now his time is here, and he will debut next week. His introduction into ECW can’t come soon enough. As for the match, Guido was unconscious before the match began. Vampire won with the Razor’s Edge, and this was a pretty good first showing for him.

3. Justin Credible beat Balls Mahoney via disqualification, because this wasn’t extreme rules. Balls hit a power slam and kicked Credible over the top rope. Credible used leg drops and a Northern lights suplex. Balls came back with a back suplex, punches and a sit down power bomb. Credible went for a baseball slide but crotched himself on the post. Credible drop kicked Balls into the referee and brought a chair into the ring. Balls got the chair and hit Credible with it, so the referee disqualified him. Balls proceeded to hit the referee with the chair. Both men worked hard and this was better than expected. Backstage, Big Show said he would take on the best, and wanted Sabu. Heyman said he has his reasons for keeping them apart. They announced Kurt Angle will return next week.

4. Big Show beat Kane in an extreme rules match. This was the same plodding match we’ve seen a million times, only with more weapons than usual. Show threw Kane over the top rope, but Kane rammed him into the post. They brawled on the outside. Show rammed Kane’s head into a chair and hit him with a garbage can. Kane used a low blow and suplex off the second rope.

Kane went for the choke slam, but Show reversed and gave him the choke slam. Kane kicked out. Kane hit Show with a chair three times and Show fell through two tables. Show bladed. Kane went for the clothesline off the top but Show caught him by the throat. Show’s choke slam attempt was reversed into a DDT. Kane covered but Heyman pulled out the referee. Show hit Kane with a chair twice and choke slammed him on a chair for the pin. Sabu ran in and drop kicked a chair into Show’s head after the match.

Please Don’t Go:

This was better than it reads on paper, but that isn’t saying much. It’s next to impossible to have a good show with this roster. That said, the format isn’t that bad right now and things will improve with Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle and CM Punk. The biggest problem with ECW is 90 percent of the roster brings absolutely nothing to the table, and that certainly isn’t true of those three. As an aside, it speaks volumes that WWE has Big Show of all people wrestling more on television than just about anyone on the roster these days.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Where's the Love?

Westwood, that's where. 2007.

Raw Report

WWE Raw Report

By: Todd Martin

Date: 07/26/06 from Cleveland, OH.

The Big News: Mick Foley was magic on the mic, and Umaga attacked Shawn Michaels.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Match Results: Kenny Doane & Mikey Mondo b Highlanders; Shelton Benjamin b Carlito Caribbean Cool; Mickie James b Candice Michelle; Shawn Michaels b Jonathan Coachman-DQ; Ric Flair & John Cena b Edge & Johnny Nitro.

Show Analysis:

Shawn Michaels came out to start the show. He basically said Vince, Shane and Hunter are in a hospital where Stephanie is having her child. Jonathan Coachman then came out with a cell phone. He said he was in charge, and that Shawn Michaels would wrestle him later on the show. Michaels laughed at this.

The Spirit Squad (Mikey and Kenny) retained the tag titles defeating the Highlanders. Rory body slammed Robbie on Mikey early. The Squad gained the advantage, and there was a hot tag, but as the Highlanders were going for the finish, other members of the Squad interfered. Kenny hit a twisting downward spiral for the pin.

Mick Foley did a promo. He sarcastically said that he couldn’t believe Ric Flair called him fat boy twice last week, which would have hurt his feelings 30 years ago. He said it’s sad to see Flair prove that he has the originality, creativity and intelligence of a fourth grader. He added that he thought he was going to meet Oz, but instead got a feeble man digging into a bag of cliches. He called Flair a second rate circus sideshow, and said he won’t be lured into fighting Flair. He will be at Raw next week. He called Flair a washed up piece of crap, and gave another smile, thumbs up and “yeah!” Foley is delivering the most consistently excellent promos in American wrestling this year.

Ric Flair came out for an abbreviated promo. He alluded to defeating Terry Funk, which they had just aired. Flair reiterated he wants Foley in a match, but before he could get anything more out, Edge interrupted. Flair is just getting buried because they won’t let him get a verbal comeback. Edge distracted Flair so Johnny Nitro could attack him from behind. Edge and Nitro double teamed Flair, but John Cena made the save. Carlito backstage made plans to hang out with Trish after his match. Kane vs. Big Show is the “ECW” main event tomorrow. Good lord.

Coach was speaking on his cell with Vince backstage. Edge came in complaining, but Coach just kept on talking with Vince. He said that there would be a tag match with Edge and Nitro vs. Flair and Cena. Edge seemed flummoxed and did not know how this came to be, which was pretty funny given this was as cookie cutter of a tag team setup as you could possibly imagine. They announced Stephanie gave birth to a girl named Aurora Rose, and treated it as a very straight face announcement.

Shelton Benjamin beat Carlito. Carlito used rollups, a knee lift, clotheslines, and a drop kick early. Benjamin went after Carlito’s arm and threw him into the post. Carlito came back with a springboard elbow and drop kick. He came off the top rope but was caught in a Fujiwara armbar. Carlito got to the ropes, and went to the eyes and hit the back cracker moments later. Benjamin got his foot on the ropes. The finishing sequence saw a turnbuckle removed and Benjamin use a low blow for the pin. It was totally botched, which was a shame. Carlito looked crisper than usual, and this was a very good TV match until the screwed up finish.

Hulk Hogan came out, and milked his reaction forever even though this wasn’t a Montreal type reaction for him. He said Randy Orton is in a lot of trouble, and doesn’t know anything about respect. He alluded to his feud with Bob Orton, Jr. and said there was respect between them. He said he will teach Orton respect. Orton came out, and talked about his chemistry with Brooke. He claimed she told him how handsome he was, with great eyes and a great physique.

Orton said his only regret is Brooke will have to watch him beat Hulk. Hogan challenged him. Orton didn’t seem to want to get in the ring, but after a confrontation with Jerry Lawler, Lawler threw him into the ring. Hogan dominated briefly, but Orton exited as he went for the big boot. This was a good angle. Mickie James then defeated Candice in a brief match. Candice hit a crossbody off the top but Mickie rolled through and grabbed the tights for the pin.

Shawn Michaels defeated Jonathan Coachman via disqualification. Michaels was just playing around with a flying forearm, inverted atomic drop and elbow off the top. Spirit Squad then ran in, but Michaels eliminated all of them with ease. That made the Highlanders and the tag titles look pretty worthless. Michaels then went for sweet chin music on Coach, but Umaga came in from behind with the Samoan drop for the DQ. He chased off the Squad 1 on 5 as well, and then gave Michaels the Samoan spike.

Maria interviewed John Cena backstage. Like Edge, she seemed confused by the concept of a tag team match. John Cena then cut a weird comedic promo that went all over the place. It was the sort of “cute” promo that turned people on Cena in the first place. They eliminated another woman from the diva search.

John Cena and Ric Flair defeated Edge and Johnny Nitro. Flair and Cena cleared the ring at the beginning of the match, but Nitro and Edge were able to work over Cena. Cena tagged Flair, who came in with punches and chops on Nitro. He applied the figure four, but Edge broke it up. Moments later Edge hit the spear on Flair, but Cena broke up the pin. Nitro and Edge worked over Flair until Flair tagged Cena. Cena came in with clotheslines, a shoulder block, and the Cena slam. He went for the five knuckle shuffle, but Edge hit him with a chair. Nitro covered, but Cena kicked out. Moments later Cena applied the STFU on Nitro, and Flair held Edge back until Nitro submitted.

Final Thoughts:

This was a decent, straight-forward show. It wasn’t inspired and you didn’t miss anything if you missed it, but for the first time in ages it was basically devoid of anything insulting or counterproductive. That’s cause for celebration to me, and it was nice to see Edge and John Cena in main event in the top position.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What the hell?

So, UCLA basketball next year is bringing in a highly rated Serbian recruit by the name of Nikola Dragovic. I went to google to look up a search to get more information on him (he's projected to be drafted in the middle of the first round of the NBA draft next year so he's a nice catch). And what should I find, but apparently UCLA already has *another Nikola Dragovic* who plays football! They aren't the same guy. I swear. They have different birthdates, and one of them has been in the country a lot longer. But man, we must be lapping every other college program in the universe as far as concentration of athletes named Nikola Dragovic. Just bizarre.

Rutten Returns, Rampage and Lindland Go to War at WFA King of the Streets

The World Fighting Alliance made its pay-per-view debut at the Los Angeles Forum June 22, with arguably the best on-paper non-UFC card in American MMA history. If the WFA is going to succeed, it needs to have a long term vision and patience. The first shows need to establish the brand to fans and to name fighters who might consider joining the organization in the future. As a first show, this was a moderate success as far as establishing the brand and delivering an entertaining pair of feature bouts.

The show did not do strong business live, and the crowd at the Forum appeared to be in the 3,500-4,000 range. It was an educated crowd that understood what was going on and knew fighters that for the most part haven’t made a name for themselves in the United States. The show on television would have benefited from more lighting and a different lighting scheme.

The screens at the Forum showed a very light ring surrounded by a heavily darkened out arena, reminiscent of MMA or pro wrestling shows with embarrassing attendance. However, while this show didn’t have a strong crowd, it was a perfectly acceptable crowd and in line with crowds that you will see on HBO boxing. The darkened background atmosphere felt low rent, and future shows would benefit from a different lighting setup. This issue of lighting was easily the most important point of improvement for future WFA shows.

The show featured a Clash of the Champions style stage entrance. Celebrities in attendance included Shaquille O’Neal, Bruce Willis and Jenna Jameson, as well as big name fighters such as Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson and Tank Abbott. It was a typical MMA crowd, composed of mostly young men and featuring very attractive women in the crowd dressed up to be seen.

In the main event of the evening, Matt Lindland and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had an excellent back and forth fight that produced an extremely close decision. Jackson came out to his Pride entrance theme, while Lindland came out to the tune of “I fought the law, and the law won.” In round 1, Jackson scored a spectacular slam, but Lindland got to his feet and slammed Jackson to the canvas. Lindland got Jackson’s back and sunk in a rear naked choke with about 40 seconds left in the round. Jackson looked defeated, but miraculously managed his way out.

In the second round, Jackson dropped Lindland straight on his head with a slam. The fighters returned to their feet, where Jackson got the better of the exchange but Lindland showed improved striking. Jackson then slammed Lindland to the mat again. In the third round, the fighters exchanged strikes again. Lindland caught Jackson in a guillotine choke, and sunk it in deep.

It was a scene reminiscent of Jackson’s fight with Wanderlei Silva, as he dropped to the mat into Lindland’s guard trying to pull out his head. Lindland once again appeared close to a finish, but Jackson escaped. Jackson worked some strong ground and pound to end the fight, opening a cut on Lindland. The decision easily could have gone either way, and produced a close split 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 decision for the crowd favorite Jackson.

In the other featured bout of the evening, “El Guapo” Bas Rutten made his return to mixed martial arts. The legendary Rutten was one of the sport’s greatest stars, and came back to fight Ruben Villareal. Villareal was a late substitute for Kimo Leopoldo, but this fight was all about showcasing Rutten. Rutten got a tremendous reaction from the crowd, and soaked in the love of the appreciative fans.

Rutten doesn’t have the charisma of a main event fighter. Rather, he has the charisma of a leader of a major nation. Rutten defeated Villareal in the first round. Villareal was the bigger man, but Rutten nailed him with some hard punches. Villareal’s chin proved to be tough, and Rutten changed his strategy to focus on leg kicks. Rutten drilled Villareal with three hard kicks to Villareal’s knee. On the third, Villareal collapsed to the mat and could not continue in a scene reminiscent of Mirko Cro Cop’s recent defeat of Hidehiko Yoshida. Rutten after the fight said he had a number of injuries, and was non-committal about future fights.

There were two preliminary bouts before the pay-per-view event. Martin Kampmann defeated Edwin Aguilar in the first bout of the evening. Aguilar appeared outmatched by Kampmann, who tagged him with strikes and a knee standing. Aguilar went down, and Kampmann followed him with some additional strikes on the ground before the referee stopped the fight. In the second bout, Jorge Oliveira and Marvin Eastman battled to a draw. This was a rather dull standup fight that ended in a decision, not unlike the later Vernon White-Lyoto Machida fight. The standup was pretty even, with Oliveira utilizing his reach and kicks, but Eastman pressing the action with punching flurries.

The pay-per-view began with Rob McCullough scoring a decision win over Harris Sarmiento. McCullough got the best of the standup for most of the fight, and hammered Sarmiento with vicious leg kicks. Both fighters were tentative, and this was not a good showcase for McCullough in spite of the unanimous 30-27 decision in his favor.

Ricco Rodriguez defeated Ron Waterman via doctor stoppage after one round of action. Rodriguez has ballooned in weight from his fighting prime, but he looked in better shape than he has in other recent fights. Rodriguez seemed to be in better shape than Waterman in spite of his physique. Rodriguez blocked a Waterman takedown, and then dominated Waterman standing with punches and knees. Waterman’s eye was in bad shape after the first round and he was completely gassed, leading to a stoppage before the second round.

Ivan Salaverry defeated Art Santore via TKO in the second round of their fight. The first round was another standup stalemate, where both men had their better spots. In the second round, Salaverry stunned Santore with a high kick, and followed up with strikes standing and on the ground until the referee stopped the contest. Santore was busted open.

Jason “Mayhem” Miller made a strong showing for himself in his defeat of Lodune Sincaid. He came to the ring with a fun entrance featuring break dancing, and was announced as being from parts unknown. He threw some knees, and took the fight to the ground. He got Sincaid’s back, and kept working for submissions until he finally applied the rear naked choke for the submission.

The highly regarded Lyoto Machida made his American MMA debut against Vernon White, but did not turn in a particularly strong first impression. White and Machida stood for three rounds, and neither man looked particularly good. White moved forward more, while Lyoto picked his spots and then retreated. In the third round, Lyoto scored a takedown, secured side control, and got White’s back. White escaped, but it was not enough to avoid a unanimous decision for Lyoto.

Notes: Lyoto Machida implemented the butt scoot position at one point, in honor of mentor Antonio Inoki. Matt Lindland also employed vicious foot stomping techniques, in honor of the original King of the Streets, Marco Ruas. Observer columnist Ben Miller at one point asked where Shaquille O’Neal was, and was informed he was the guy in the first row standing a foot and a half taller than everyone else.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Marshall Faulk Appears Done

I don't see Faulk at his age coming back from such serious injury. If this is the end of his career, what a career it was. He's as explosive of a running back as I've ever seen, and unquestionably one of the very best of this generation (right up there with Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith). Definite and easy Hall of Fame selection in my opinion.

An Inconvenient Truth

You MUST see this movie. I'm not one for hyperbole, but this is one of the most powerful and important movies to be released in years. There has been a real emergence of non-fiction film in recent years, and this is probably the best. Go out of your way to see it.

Buddy Rogers

When measuring the worthiness of wrestlers for the Inside the Squared Circle Hall of Fame, there are a number of criteria that are weighed. In-ring performance. Drawing power. Aura and influence. The true greats of wrestling will have extraordinary accomplishments in a few of these categories. Rarely does a wrestler stand out in almost every conceivable way. Nature Boy Ric Flair is one of those few. His predecessor and role model, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, is another on that very short list. Buddy Rogers was a one of wrestling’s biggest stars for most of his career. He drew big money and was involved in some of wrestling’s most famous feuds. He was regarded by even his enemies as the best performer of his time. And his persona, style and in-ring performance had a tremendous influence on the business. Today ITSC inducts an unquestioned legend of professional wrestling, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, into its Hall of Fame.

Herman Rhode was born in New Jersey in 1921. After wrestling under his real name and the name Dutch Rogers, he died his hair platinum blonde and took the ring name Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. This persona is well known to current wrestling fans, as Ric Flair patterned himself almost identically after Rogers, including his hair, robes, tan, strut, arrogance, begging off, in-ring style, figure four and name. Rogers became a star very quickly and would later legally change his name to Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. He first came to fame in the mid 1940s in the Houston territory. In the late 40s, he became a national figure on the Dumont Network out of Chicago. This was the beginning of the television era, and he would become one of its biggest stars from 1948 to 1963. Also in the late 1940s, he helped great wrestling promoter Sam Mushnick rise to prominence. Mushnick, later the kingpin of the NWA, used Rogers as one of his top stars. Buddy Rogers’ match with Don Eagle drew Mushnick’s first sellout at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. It would be far from the last.

In the 50s, Rogers was a big star everywhere he went. He was particularly prominent in the Northeast, where NWA promoters Vince McMahon, Sr. and Toots Mondt favored him as their top drawing card. There were rumors that McMahon and Mondt were interested in leaving the NWA. Not wanting to lose the lucrative New York market, NWA promoters decided to put the world title on Rogers to pacify McMahon and Mondt. They built up Rogers for a title shot, and on June 30, 1961 he won the NWA Title from Pat O’Connor in one of the most famous matches in wrestling history. They drew 38,622 fans paying $148,000 to Comiskey Park in Chicago. That set the new all time attendance record for professional wrestling, and it would stand for another 25 years. Over the next few years, Rogers was very successful as NWA champion. He was the most hated world champion in NWA history, and was one of the most important figures in moving wrestling towards a good guy versus bad guy format.

Putting the NWA World Championship on Rogers had not done enough to pacify Mondt and McMahon, and in 1963, they were planning to break away from the NWA. NWA promoters were worried there would be problems with Rogers losing the title. At that point, protecting the credibility of the championship was of paramount importance, and it was feared Rogers would take the NWA Title to McMahon’s new promotion. Luckily, Mushnick and the NWA had a trump card. At that point, wrestlers had to put up a $25,000 bond when winning the NWA Title. It guaranteed they would lose it when the time was right. Rogers did not want to lose that money, and he lost the belt to Lou Thesz in Toronto on January 24, 1963. However, the match was only a one fall match when most title matches of the time were two of three, and Mondt and McMahon used that fact to claim Rogers was the real champ. They then made him the first champion of the WWWF, which became WWF and now is WWE. Rogers was the first wrestler to hold both the NWA Title and the WWWF/WWF Title, and the only one for many decades until Ric Flair matched the accomplishment.

Rogers’ reign as WWWF World Champion would not last long, as he suffered a heart attack less than six months in. That forced McMahon, Sr. to turn to a new star. On May 17, 1963 Buddy Rogers lost the title in 47 seconds to Bruno Sammartino, who would become another of wrestling’s biggest stars.

After the match with Sammartino, Rogers entered into retirement. However, he never lost contact with wrestling and would surface here and there. He wrestled from time to time. He also managed in Mid-Atlantic in the late 70s and early 80s and even did an interview segment for Vince McMahon, Jr. in the WWF. One particularly notable point for Rogers was a feud with a young Ric Flair in 1979. Rogers and Flair battled to see who was the real Nature Boy. When Flair beat Rogers with the Figure Four in July of 1979, it established him as a wrestler to be taken very seriously. Rogers kept himself in great condition and health up to his death. At one point, he received national press for knocking out a 29 year old jerk while he was pushing 70. Rogers had been planning a comeback and had agreed to wrestle another Nature Boy, Buddy Landel for the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance before the promotion folded just months prior to his death in 1992.

Nature Boy Buddy Rogers is one of wrestling’s true immortal figures. His charisma, wrestling ability and ability to draw hatred from the fans would have made him a star in any era. He packed in the crowds, and provided them great entertainment. Inside the Squared Circle is proud to induct Nature Boy Buddy Rogers into its Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"ECW" Report

Well, I hope you learned a valuable lesson about the fallibility of my VCR.

Oh My God!: The Great Khali made his long anticipated ECW debut, attacking Undertaker during his main event match with the Big Show.

You Fucked Up: Nothing too egregious this week.

She’s Hardcore: Kelly Kelly took a cane shot to the head. They tried to give her charisma by osmosis with Candice last week, so perhaps this week they were attempting to beat charisma into her.

The Extreme Rundown:

1. Mike Knox beat Sandman. Kelly Kelly did her strip tease and was interrupted again by Knox. Knox was angry at her for getting him caned last week, and wanted her in the corner to watch what he would do to Sandman. Knox went after Sandman at the onset with punches, rammed him into the announce table, and choked him with a chord. Sandman came back and went after Knox with the cane, but hit Kelly instead. Knox then used a pair of low blows for the pin. He left Kelly behind, and she was taken off on a stretcher. On the plus side, this is the way ECW should be booked. You push older ECW stars just enough so they will mean something and give credibility in losing to younger stars. The negative is their choices for these pushes.

Paul Heyman came out, accompanied by the riot squad. He implored the children to drink the Kool-Aid, and said he senses confusion from fans who can’t keep up with his intellect. Tommy Dreamer interrupted. He said he has been with Heyman since the beginning, and never demanded anything because he had Heyman’s back. However, he said that Heyman owes an explanation to the locker room and the fans. Heyman answered by planting a firm kiss on Dreamer’s lips. Test attacked Dreamer from behind and hit the TKO. I’m not sure what exactly to make of this segment, but presumably this was some sort of mind game.

2. Sabu beat Steven Richards. This was not extreme rules, so the story of the match was that Sabu can wrestle as well. It’s the old WWE problem of wanting everyone to adapt to the same style. It’s particularly ridiculous for Sabu, who doesn’t offer much without these shortcuts. He did mat wrestling early, and Richards resorted to brawling in response. Sabu came back with a clothesline, somersault leg drop, and a springboard into a DDT. He applied the camel clutch for the submission. Vampire and Ariel backstage drew the death card for Big Show’s title defense. They aired vignettes for Shannon Moore, Balls Mahoney, and CM Punk again. The announcers sold Big Show vs. Undertaker as some sort of dream match throughout the show. It was really weird, because this sort of plodding big man match is something Styles mocked very frequently in ECW.

3. Big Show and Undertaker fought to a no contest. It’s a good thing I didn’t try to watch this show at 11PM last night, because I surely would have fallen asleep. This match was ungodly boring. They punched, kicked and used head butts for what seemed like 90 minutes. They did a superplex spot, and that was about it. Great Khali then came out, and Khali and Show sent Undertaker through the table with a double choke slam. Yes, folks, ECW was a platform this week for Big Show, Undertaker and Great Khali.

Please Don’t Go:

They really should just go ahead and change the name of this show. This is a bad WWE show, which has little in common with ECW, or for that matter, what WWE was doing very well before it completely lost its way early this decade. They have already destroyed the good name of their promotion. Why destroy the good name of another promotion that was dead and buried?
Since they’re splitting up the Spirit Squad, Ken Doane is a perfect choice to send over to ECW to establish as a new character and push strong. These shows would feel fresher and more authentic, and would be more productive, if he were in the Big Show’s position.

And my VCR said

Let there be no ECW report. And there won't be.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

WFA Prepares for “King of the Streets” Saturday

LOS ANGELES – The World Fighting Alliance, seeking to establish itself as legitimate opposition to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, held a media day Tuesday to promote its first pay-per-view event this Saturday. WFA has gained exposure through Showtime, ESPN and other outlets, and local CBS and ABC affiliates were present. Saturday’s event, titled “King of the Streets,” is headlined by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Matt “The Law” Lindland and “El Guapo” Bas Rutten vs. Kimo Leopoldo.

The fight between Jackson and Lindland is an intriguing style matchup. Jackson is naturally the bigger man, and has fought at 205 pounds for most of his career. He scored an impressive win over current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, and has defeated other top contenders including the only light heavyweight to defeat Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva in the past five years, Ricardo Arona.

Lindland, one of the best fighters in the world at 185 pounds, is moving up in weight class to take on Jackson. A world class wrestler and Olympic silver medalist, Lindland has been able to utilize his wrestling to defeat many top of the line opponents, including Joe Doerksen, Phil Baroni and Pat Miletich. He will have the wrestling edge, but Jackson’s size and striking skill might prove to be too much for Lindland.

Jackson has been training at Big Bear for this fight, and looks as good as he ever has physically. In an intense and less comedic mood, Jackson noted, “I don’t want to lose to this guy. This is the last guy on Earth I want to lose to.” He added, “Last year wasn’t one of my best years, and I plan on making 2006 the best year. This is the most confident I’ve felt in a long time.”

Tito Ortiz has been training with Jackson as well as WFA fighter Rob McCullough, and will be at the event on Saturday. He said that he likes what he has seen from Jackson, “If he sticks to his game and is dangerous as usual, he should shred straight through Lindland.” Ortiz is pleased to see the rise of organizations like WFA, observing, “As more promotions come about, it makes it a better game for the world to see.” Ortiz, one of the few fighters to publicly raise the issue of fighter pay, wants to see all fighting organizations flourish for obvious reasons: “I want to see the fighters get paid what they deserve to be paid.”

“The Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros will be doing commentary on the event, along with former WCW World Champion Bill Goldberg and veteran boxing announcer Barry Tompkins. He sees the weight difference as being the key to the fight: “I think the onus or burden or weight, and that’s the key word…is on the weight issue.” Quadros feels that “it’s not going to be about wrestling. If it was, Matt Lindland would surely take the match. But when you add strikes, and you add that intangible force of street combat, I think Quinton’s got the advantage in that [fight].”

The second marquee match of the evening will feature the return of Bas Rutten to mixed martial arts after an over seven year hiatus. Rutten, one of the legends of the sport, retired as UFC champion in 1999 with a 20 match winning streak. He faces Kimo, another veteran of mixed martial arts who has stayed active over the years while Rutten has focused on training, announcing, and other endeavors.

WFA CEO Jeremy Lappen describes the contest as “a bad blood matchup. These guys don’t like each other. They both have something to prove.” The advantage standing is with Bas Rutten, which means Kimo will be going for the takedown early. Stephen Quadros says that Kimo’s “shot is to take Bas down, get on top, I don’t think he’s going to be able to submit him, so he’s going to need to ground and pound…If he stands even one second too long it could be over, because Bas has that one strike, one kill thing going on.” Kimo will be looking to play spoiler in the popular Rutten’s return.

Highly respected Antonio Inoki protege Lyoto Machida will be making his American MMA debut against Lion’s Den fighter Vernon White. Lyoto, who holds wins over B.J. Penn, Stephan Bonnar and Rich Franklin, has not been showcased in either Pride or UFC, and thus is not well known outside hardcore fight fans. This could be his coming out party for a segment of the MMA fan base.

Rising striker Rob McCullough will face Hawaiian Harris Sarmiento in a rematch of a controversial 2004 fight that went to Sarmiento via decision. Tito Ortiz predicts that McCullough will “crush him,” observing, “He’s been making his game better for MMA, and now he’s been taking people out a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there. Guys aren’t lasting with him.” McCullough is confident but doesn’t have any bold predictions: “I never look for a knockout but if it comes it comes. I hope he’s ready to go to war because I am.”

Also on the card, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez will rematch powerful Ron “H2O” Waterman, UFC veteran Ivan Salaverry will take on colorful Team Quest fighter Art Santore, experienced veteran Marvin Eastman will battle rising Chute Boxe Jorge Oliveira, charismatic Jason “Mayhem” Miller will fight Ultimate Fighter alumnus Lodune Sincaid, and highly respected Brazilian muay thai specialist Pele Landi will compete.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 07/17/06 from San Antonio, TX.

The Big News: DX continued to get the best of the McMahons, but John Cena found himself on the losing end against Umaga.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Match Results: Carlito Caribbean Cool b Shelton Benjamin; Torrie Wilson & Trish Stratus b Mickie James & Victoria; Highlanders b Jared Steele & Russell Simpson; Umaga b John Cena; Randy Orton b Eugene Dinsmore; Shawn Michaels b Shane McMahon-DQ.

Show Analysis:

DX came out to start the show. They plugged their t-shirts. I think the idea is that since they are being somewhat sarcastic, shameless merchandise plugging becomes cool. Shawn Michaels started stuttering, and HHH said “easy, Miz,” which was a funny line. They suggested a tag match against Vince and Shane McMahon. It’s rather silly that they go from handily defeating five young guys including a potential future world champion Ken Doane to a presumably more even feud with a non-wrestling old man and his out of shape non-wrestling son. It’s a tribute to ego over business, which is a common theme in WWE these days. The McMahons came out, and Vince made Shawn Michaels vs. Shane McMahon. Shane didn’t seem to like this, and said that Vince and HHH would be in the corners. Vince didn’t seem happy about that.

Carlito beat Shelton Benjamin to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Title. The announcer said this was for a Cruiserweight Title shot, which I assume was a planned screwup to A) make him look like an idiot B) play for comedy and C) point out Lillian wasn’t there after being laid out last week. Carlito did a really high backflip off the top rope but Benjamin caught him shortly thereafter with a drop kick. Carlito hit a knee lift, clothesline and springboard elbow, but Benjamin escaped the back cracker. Benjamin rolled up Carlito but couldn’t reach the ropes for leverage. Carlito reversed, grabbed the ropes, and scored the pin.

Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson beat Mickie James and Victoria. I have to protest the result of this match, as it was the result of some biased officiating from one Candice Michelle, the special guest referee. Victoria and Mickie were firmly in control until Torrie got her knees up on a Victoria jigglesault attempt. Torrie tagged Trish, who came in with chops, a Charlie Thesz press on Victoria, and a bulldog on Mickie. Trish went for the Stratusphere on Victoria, but Mickie broke it up.

At this point Candice should have counted and asked Mickie to leave the ring. As Bryan Danielson would most certainly point out, she had a count of five. Instead, Candice attacked Mickie and physically threw her out of the ring. At this point Victoria was so flummoxed, flabbergasted, and befuddled by this egregious misconduct that she was caught with the Stratusfaction for the pin. I hope they revoke Candice’s referee’s license. In fact, I may write a firmly worded letter.

Maria interviewed Umaga and Armando. She didn’t play up the ditz act presumably to get this over as more serious, and it was effective. Armando predicted bad things for John Cena. Mick Foley then cut another great taped promo. He brought up how Ric Flair bragged about beating him two straight falls. Foley said he remembers Flair being bloodied and destroyed in front of his crying family.

He wanted to know how that could be construed as a positive. Foley said he wasn’t trying to win the match, and instead planned on leaving Flair laying. He said he doesn’t ever want to wrestle Flair, anywhere or in any match. He never wants the match, so there will be no rematch, and he concluded with a smile and thumbs up. I wish Foley had a greater role in WWE creative beyond just his programs.

Viscera and Charlie Haas were together backstage. They said they could explain what happened last week, but they wouldn’t. The Highlanders then defeated Jared Steele and Russell Simpson with the Scot Drop. They challenged the Spirit Squad for the tag titles, which mean absolutely nothing at this point in time. The Highlanders didn’t get much of a reaction here. DX saw the Highlanders backstage, and told them to go into Vince’s office. They said Vince is hard of hearing so he needs to be yelled at, and he likes to a pat on the butt.

Matt Striker was in the ring with a chalkboard that said Edge is better than John Cena. He is clearly a very bad teacher, as he identified this as an equation when it was quite clearly an inequality. He may have fooled John Cena, but he didn’t fool me or the esteemed Scott Shapiro. John Cena came out and said Edge isn’t better than him but rather Lita screwed him out of the title. Cena went after Striker but Umaga came out.

Umaga beat John Cena. Umaga threw Cena through the chalkboard, and then attacked Cena with pieces of the board. This was another case of crummy officiating, as this was not an extreme rules match and Umaga should have been disqualified just like that hoodlum Sabu. Umaga went to Cena’s throat and dropped a knee. Cena got the STFU but Umaga was in the ropes. He came back with a clothesline and head butt. Edge came to ringside and Cena went after him.

Umaga grabbed Cena from behind and threw him into the steps. Umaga missed a splash off the top, and Cena came back with cross body blocks, a Cena slam, and the five knuckle shuffle. At that point Armando got on the apron and Edge ran in. Cena got him up for the FU, but Umaga kicked him in the head and hit the Samoan spike for the pin. This was an effective segment even with another title contender being pinned. Jim Ross in particular did a really good job selling this.

The Highlanders were in Vince’s office eating. He came in and was angry. The Highlanders screamed at him as an introduction. This made Vince angry so he told them to leave, and they smacked his ass on the way out. This was pretty funny. Randy Orton defeated Eugene next in a brief squash with the RKO. Eugene didn’t even get to hulk up. Afterwards, Randy Orton talked about Brooke being pretty and shamelessly plugged her CD and “hit song.” He hopes what he did to Hulk Hogan won’t affect his potential relationship with Brooke.

Mick Foley did another brief taped promo. He said that he wanted to talk about Flair’s hardcore match with the Big Show. Foley said that he was impressed with Flair getting hardcore, but he still gets no rematch. Foley said he has nothing left to prove. He concluded, “You’re out of my life, you washed up piece of crap. Yeah!” Ric Flair came out called Foley fat. This wasn’t the greatest of rebuttals. He wanted a hardcore match with Foley, but Johnny Nitro came out. He pointed out that Foley had made it clear he didn’t want another match, and jumped Flair. Flair came back with a chop block and chops. Nitro knocked Flair into Melina, and Nitro left the ring to help Melina to the back.

The diva search made its dreaded return. They eliminated the first woman. She took like five hours to leave. She hugged the other women. She threw things to the crowd. She hung around. She looked despondent. This made me angry. I don’t care about you. Nobody cares about you. You lost. Now leave. Here’s a little secret for you on the way out: WWE will hire you if they want to anyway, they will cut you even if you win, and the votes on this thing reflect nothing about you so you shouldn’t be upset. Diva search will always suck.

Shawn Michaels beat Shane McMahon via disqualification. Michaels hit an Asai moonsault early. Shane came back with an inverted atomic drop, clotheslines, a body slam and an elbow off the top. He went for sweet chin music but Michaels blocked it. Michaels hit the flying forearm, inverted atomic drop and punches. He was set for sweet chin music but Vince grabbed his foot. HHH chased Vince up the aisle, and that gave Spirit Squad the opportunity to run in and jump Michaels. HHH came back, but the Squad and the McMahons got the best of DX for a little while. They did a cool spot where they went for the High Spirits but Michaels landed on his feet. HHH finally got his sledgehammer and DX cleared the ring to end the show.

Final Thoughts:This show was fine. The Mick Foley-Ric Flair feud is the best stuff on the show, but John Cena-Edge is also working well, and the comedy this week was better than it has been recently. I do think the promotion would be better off if Cena and Edge were in the main event position rather than the McMahons and DX, but that’s old news.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

PWG 7-16

This was the final PWG show at the “sweatbox,” and it lived up to its name one final time. I’ll miss the venue in a way, and won’t miss it in a number of others. There was a strong crowd, as they had trouble getting everyone seats, probably in the 400 range. The Briscoes no showed again. This was an awesome show, save for in my opinion the finish.

1. Disco Machine beat Excalibur. They said that this was to settle who the best PWG DVD commentator is. They did a cute spot where Disco Machine was given a red card for a head butt ala Zinedine Zidane. Disco won with a choke slam into a back breaker.

2. Ronin beat Nemesis with a head over heels clothesline and DVD. There were dueling Hello Kitty/Power Ranger chants for Ronin, whose aggressive in-ring style is undermined by his absurd comedic outfits.

3. Colt Cabana beat Topgun Talwar with an upside down back breaker. This was the goofiest of comedy, reminiscent of the worst of Hustle. Definitely not my cup of tea, but people seemed to enjoy it. Joey Ryan came out after the match and gave Topgun two piledrivers on a chair to send a message to B-Boy.

4. Scorpio Sky, Chris Bosh and Scott Lost beat Human Tornado, Kevin Steen and Davey Richards. Sky gave Tornado a brain buster for the pin. This was a great, heated, wild brawl. Scorpio Sky is a revelation as a heel. He has developed major league charisma practically overnight, and he was always a very good wrestler. I can’t say enough about how good he is right now. He is going places.

5. Roderick Strong beat T.J. Perkins with the Stronghold. Perkins has been playing subtle heel in PWG for a while now (going so far as to proclaim himself the “savior of SoCal wrestling”), but it seems like the crowd is never going to pick up on it, and he was actually the favorite here. Strong turned Perkins’ chest beet red with chops.

6. Kings of Wrestling beat Cape Fear. Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero looked banged up from last night’s match in ROH. Claudio began bleeding from the side of the head, and it actually became rather gruesome. Kings of Wrestling won with a double team power bomb to El Generico. This was an excellent match, as these are two great teams.

7. Joey Ryan retained his PWG Title defeating B-Boy in a cage TLC match. This was a crazy, violent brawl with all sorts of dangerous spots. There were hard unprotected chair shots to the head. Both men went through tables. After Ryan took out the first referee, a second referee had to come into the cage to count a pin, and that gave them the opportunity to brawl to the outside.

Of course that led to interference from the Dynasty, but a bunch of faces came out and fought them off. Human Tornado hit a somersault senton off the top of the cage to the floor. Then B-Boy hit a double foot stomp on Ryan off the top of the cage through a table. Ryan still kicked out, and the crowd chanted “bullshit.” B-Boy hit Ryan with Go 2 Sleep and had Ryan beat, but Jade Chung interfered, and Ryan used chloroform to make B-Boy unconscious for the win. After the match fans threw tons of plastic bottles into the ring.

This match had tons of heat. The crowd was exploding for the two big B-Boy near falls at the end. Obviously PWG feels differently, but I think they have the entirely wrong type of heat with Ryan. It’s Jeff Jarrett or Paul Heyman/Big Show heat in my opinion. I can’t survey everyone watching PWG, but that certainly seemed to be apparent based on what people were muttering around me leaving the show.

Ryan isn’t the problem. He’s a good heel. The problem is the booking of the title, which means next to nothing at this point. It seems like every wrestler in the promotion has had Ryan beat, and every time there is some BS interference or screw job and he retains the title. It’s tedious, annoying and people are ready for something else. The predominant sentiment in my opinion is not “I can’t wait to see someone beat Joey Ryan” but rather “I can’t wait until they take the title off Joey Ryan.” That’s a big difference.

There have been few wrestling promotions in history that have had prolonged success without a strong title. If PWG ever wants to stop relying on fly-ins to pop crowds, they are going to need to make the title mean something. A heel champion shouldn’t win cleanly every time, but he has to prove himself every once in a while or the title is just a prop. PWG returns in early September for one of the most talent rich, if not the most talent rich, pro wrestling tournament in the world this year.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday Night's Main Event Report

Date: 07/15/06 from Dallas, TX.

The Big News: John Cena defeated Edge by disqualification, but was unable to wrest the title from the Rated R superstar. Also, Hulk Hogan and Randy Orton will be wrestling at SummerSlam, and DX completely squashed the Spirit Squad two on five.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Match Results: Rey Mysterio, Booker T & Bobby Lashley b King Booker T, Fit Finlay & Mark Henry; Carlito Caribbean Cool & Trish Stratus b Johnny Nitro & Melina; Elimination Rules: Triple H & Shawn Michaels b Kenny Doane, Johnny Jeter, Nicky Nemeth, Mikey Mondo & Mitch Mitch; Extreme Rules: Sabu b Steven Richards; Bull-Riding Rules: Michelle McCool b Victoria; WWE Title: John Cena b Edge-DQ.

Show Analysis:

Hulk and Brooke Hogan came out to start the show, which was a smart touch to make the best possible effort to keep viewers from changing the channel. Brooke said it was an honor to be in a WWE ring with her father. Hulk said he’s very proud of Brooke, and that he was on the first Saturday Night’s Main Event and Hulkamania’s still running wild. Randy Orton came out with a rose. He said he couldn’t miss an opportunity to meet the greatest legend ever and the beautiful Brooke. Brooke seemed enamored with Orton, while Hulk seemed suspicious. Orton respectfully challenged Hulk to a match at SummerSlam, Hulk accepted, and they shook hands.

I liked the start of this segment, but the second half felt incredibly rushed. This segment should have ended with Orton giving Brooke the rose and leaving. Orton then seduces Brooke over time, and makes her fall in love with him. Hulk is suspicious of Orton’s motives, and this finally culminates with Hulk discovering that Orton is in fact just using Brooke to get at Hulk and make a name for himself. Brooke has her heart broken, and Hulk challenges Orton to a grudge match.

That is the story they should be telling, and it’s more than a five week story. I understand they want to promote Brooke’s album, but I don’t understand why they couldn’t have her on TV for a longer period telling this story to promote the album and then have the match later in the fall or even beyond that. There was real potential for a match people would care about. Instead, they have the same problem they did with Randy Orton vs. Triple H in 2004. They have something good, but they just aren’t giving it enough time to unfold.

Batista, Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio beat Booker T, Finlay and Mark Henry. This was exactly what you would expect. Batista got a great reaction, and looked leaner. Michael Cole labeled Rey the greatest underdog champion of all time, which I guess means the guy who kept the title the longest while losing constantly. Lashley hit an overhead belly to belly on Finlay early. The heels then worked over Rey for the majority of the match.

Little Bastard came out from under the ring and attacked Rey with the shillelagh. Rey finally tagged Batista, who came in and cleared the ring with body slams. He gave Booker a spine buster, Rey gave Booker the 619, and Batista hit the Batista bomb for the pin. This was effective for what it was. King Booker certainly hasn’t been given the greatest push towards a world title shot, but Batista had to pin someone here, and it was either going to be the title contender or the new U.S. champion.

Backstage, Vince McMahon fired up the Spirit Squad. As Vince and the Squad continued talking, HHH and Shawn Michaels did a voiceover parodying what they were saying. They showed highlights of the prelim diva bull-riding contest and announced that Michelle McCool and Victoria had advanced to the finals.

Carlito and Trish Stratus beat Johnny Nitro and Melina in a quick match. Melina and Trish went at it first, with Melina going to the eyes and hair, and Trish using punches and chops. They tagged the men. Carlito hit a drop kick, and as Melina and Trish brawled to the outside, he hit the back cracker for the pin. They showed Kevin Von Erich being introduced to the crowd earlier in the evening.

DX squashed the Spirit Squad 2 on 5. They had holding cages for the eliminated wrestlers, but sadly they didn’t lift them up in the air like in the 80s. This was just hilarious. Shawn hit sweet chin music on Mitch to eliminate him. HHH gave Johnny the pedigree to send him packing. Kenny left the ringside area, giving Vince McMahon a chance to hit Shawn with a chair, but Shawn still tagged HHH.

HHH gave Nicky the pedigree for another pin. Shawn gave Mikey sweet chin music for another elimination. Finally, Shawn hit an elbow off the top on Kenny. He gave Kenny sweet chin music, HHH gave him the pedigree and DX scored the win. Shawn then gave Vince sweet chin music and DX locked Vince in the cage with the Spirit Squad. At least the heels got in a little offense at Uncensored 1996.

Daivari was in the ring talking up the Great Khali when the Big Show came out with Paul Heyman. This wasn’t the greatest idea, as all of a sudden Khali didn’t look that big and imposing. Big Show said some time they’ll have to figure out who the best big man is, but for now he just wanted to put over Khali for dominating Undertaker. Undertaker came out and cleared Khali from the ring. Show backed off but then jumped Taker from behind. Taker and Show fired blows. Taker grabbed both Khali and Show by the throat, but instead they gave him a double choke slam. Backstage, Big Show challenged Undertaker to an ECW title match on Tuesday. They really should just call that brand something else at this point.

Sabu beat Steven Richards in an extreme rules match. Richards ran from Sabu until Sabu threw a chair at him. He hit the triple jump moonsault and a botched atomic Arabian face buster (is there any other kind?) for the pin. Orton spoke with Brooke backstage while Joey Styles had the duty of telling us how eagerly anticipated her album is. Hulk stepped in, and Orton gave Hulk a pedigree on his car from behind. Brooke didn’t see what happened. Michelle beat Victoria in the bull-riding final. Jim Ross sarcastically put over the entertainment value of this, which was pretty much the highlight.

John Cena beat Edge via DQ. They brawled early. Edge gained control, and went for a badly botched superplex spot with an ugly landing. Cena came back with punches, the five knuckle shuffle, and the FU. Lita pulled the referee out of the ring to stop him from counting. Cena then applied the STFU, but Lita wouldn’t let the referee in the ring and struck him. Edge was tapping, but the referee called for the DQ. Edge gave Cena a spear after the match, but Cena came back. Cena hit him with a television monitor and gave him the FU off the ring steps through the announcer’s table. That was a spectacular image, but the match was a short, sloppy mess with a crappy finish.

Final Thoughts:

If this is the final Saturday Night’s Main Event, they went off on a good note. This was one of the better WWE shows of the past few weeks. Granted that isn’t the highest praise, but this show was much more focused. The wrestling played more than a tertiary role, the show wasn’t overbooked, and the pacing was good. It wasn’t a great show or anything, but there was much less crap and that’s good enough for me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

NFL QBs in College

There's an article here that posits you can get a really good feel for how 1st and 2nd round QBs will do based on college starts and college completion percentage. This apparently bodes well for Jason Campbell. Anyway, does anyone know where I can find more information on this? I would guess someone has done a write up if this indeed proves to be generally true. I'd like to see a list with the numbers, but I couldn't find it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

All Time Pride Records

Wanderlei Silva 22-2-1
Kazushi Sakuraba 19-8-1
Igor Vovchanchyn 18-8
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 16-2
Mirko Cro Cop 16-4-2
Fedor Emelianenko 12-0
Heath Herring 12-5
Quinton Jackson 12-5
Dan Henderson 11-4
Takanori Gomi 10-1
Kazuhiro Nakamura 10-5
Gary Goodridge 10-9
Akira Shoji 9-11-2
Mauricio Shogun 8-1
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 8-1
Mark Coleman 8-3
Sergei Kharitonov 7-2
Ricardo Arona 7-3
Alistair Overeem 7-5
Ikuhisa Minowa 7-7
Kazuyuki Fujita 6-3
Hayato Sakurai 6-3
Mark Kerr 6-4
Hidehiko Yoshida 6-4-1
Murilo Ninja 6-7
Paulo Filho 5-0
Mark Hunt 5-2
Aleksander Emelianenko 5-2
Ryan Gracie 5-2
Vitor Belfort 5-2
Carlos Newton 5-4
Daiju Takase 5-4
Dajiro Matsui 5-8-2
Rodrigo Gracie 4-0
Denis Kang 4-0
Choi Mu Bae 4-1
Akihiro Gono 4-1
Fabricio Werdum 4-2
Naoya Ogawa 4-2
Semmy Schilt 4-3
Mario Sperry 4-3
Ryo Chonan 4-3
Kiyoshi Tamura 4-4
Guy Mezger 4-6
Kevin Randleman 4-6
Giant Ochiai 3-1
Joachim Hansen 3-1
Ricco Rodriguez 3-1
Tatsuya Kawajiri 3-1Josh Barnett 3-2
Anderson Silva 3-2
Tom Erikson 3-2
Marcus Aurelio 3-2
Phil Baroni 3-2
James Thompson 3-2
Antonio Schembri 3-3
Don Frye 3-3
Renzo Gracie 3-4-1
Murilo Bustamante 3-5
Yoshihisa Yamamoto 3-6
Alexander Otsuka 3-9

Note: Minimum 3 wins, through Critical Countdown Absolute.

All Time UFC Records

Chuck Liddell 13-2
Matt Hughes 13-2
Tito Ortiz 13-4
Royce Gracie 11-2-1
Evan Tanner 11-4
Randy Couture 11-5
Don Frye 9-1
Matt Lindland 9-3
Dan Severn 9-4
Pedro Rizzo 9-5
Pat Miletich 8-2
Tank Abbott 8-10
Rich Franklin 7-0
Tim Sylvia 7-2
Andrei Arlovski 7-4
Vitor Belfort 7-4
Ken Shamrock 7-5-2
Jens Pulver 6-0-1
Georges St. Pierre 6-1
Frank Mir 6-2
B.J. Penn 6-2-1
Oleg Taktarov 6-2-1
Mark Coleman 6-3
Yves Edwards 6-4
Jeremy Horn 6-4
Frank Shamrock 5-0
Karo Parisyan 5-1
Chris Leben 5-1
Renato Sobral 5-2
Ricco Rodriguez 5-2
Jerry Bohlander 5-2
Mark Kerr 4-0
Diego Sanchez 4-0
Mike Swick 4-0
Josh Barnett 4-1
Guy Mezger 4-1
LaVerne Clark 4-1
Josh Koscheck 4-1
Patrick Smith 4-2
Marco Ruas 4-2
David Loiseau 4-2
Jeff Monson 4-2
Sean Sherk 4-2
Mark Hall 4-3
Maurice Smith 4-3
Kevin Randleman 4-3
Robbie Lawler 4-3
Paul Varelans 4-4
Nick Diaz 4-4
Matt Serra 4-4
Gary Goodridge 4-4
Brandon Vera 3-0
Jon Fitch 3-0
Jason Lambert 3-0
Rashad Evans 3-0
Forrest Griffin 3-1
Josh Burkman 3-1
Nate Quarry 3-1
Paul Buentello 3-1
Murilo Bustamante 3-1
Keith Jardine 3-1
Kenny Florian 3-1
Spencer Fisher 3-1
Drew Fickett 3-1
Hermes Franca 3-2
Remco Pardoel 3-2
Stephan Bonnar 3-2
Vladimir Matyushenko 3-2
Scott Ferrozzo 3-2
Shonie Carter 3-2
Ivan Salaverry 3-2
Ian Freeman 3-2-1
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka 3-3
Joe Riggs 3-3
Dave Beneteau 3-3
Caol Uno 3-3-1
Eugene Jackson 3-4
Fabiano Iha 3-4
Carlos Newton 3-4
Pete Williams 3-5
Phil Baroni 3-5

Note: Minimum 3 wins, through UFC 61.

All Time PWG Records

Super Dragon 39-16-1, Two Time PWG Tag Champ, PWG Champ
Scott Lost 29-22, Four Time PWG Tag Champ
Joey Ryan 29-22, PWG Champ, Two Time PWG Tag Champ
Frankie Kazarian 25-15-2, Two Time PWG Champ
Quicksilver 24-22, Two Time PWG Tag Champ
Chris Bosh 24-23, Three Time PWG Tag Champ, PWG BOLA Champ
TJ Perkins 23-16
Scorpio Sky 22-18, PWG Tag Champ
Disco Machine 20-26-1
B-Boy 18-9, PWG Tag Champ
Kevin Steen 18-15-1, PWG Champ
Excalibur 17-19-1, PWG Tag Champ
Davey Richards, 16-9-1, PWG Tag Champ
Christopher Daniels 15-13-1
Ricky Reyes 14-12
Topgun Talwar 14-25
American Dragon 13-7-1
Ronin 13-16
El Generico 13-21, PWG Tag Champ
AJ Styles 12-7-2, PWG Champ
Rocky Romero 12-10
Samoa Joe 11-7-1
Shannon Ballard 10-7
Chris Sabin 10-10-1
Shane Ballard 9-6
Human Tornado 9-19, PWG Tag Champ
Chris Hero 8-9
Colt Cabana 7-5
Adam Pearce 7-5-1, PWG Champ
Phoenix Star 7-11
Nemesis 6-5
Hook Bomberry 6-9
Zokre 6-11
CM Punk 5-4
Hardkore Kidd 5-6
Charles Mercury 5-9
Homicide 4-2, PWG Tag Champ
Babi Slymm 4-7
Alex Koslov 4-9
TARO 3-1
Jimmy Yang 3-2
Tony Stradlin 3-3
Jack Evans 3-4
Bobby Quance 3-4
Supa Badd 3-5
Petey Williams 3-6
Al Katrazz 2-1
Brad Bradley 2-2
Sal Thomaselli 2-3
James Gibson 2-3
Vito Thomaselli 2-4
Bino Gambino 2-5
Alex Shelley 2-5
Claudio Castagnoli 2-5
Apollo Kahn 2-5
M Dogg 20 2-8
Kushinbo Kamen 1-0
Dmitri Maskarsky 1-0
Dino Winwood 1-0
Baron Von Hagen 1-0
Martin Stone 1-0
Tommy End 1-0
Tengkwa 1-0
Larry Sweeney, Jigsaw and Hallowicked 1-0
Brandon Thomaselli 1-1
Sara del Ray 1-1
Matt Sydal 1-2
UK Kid 1-2
Tony Kozina 1-2
Austin Aries 1-2
Roderick Strong 1-3
Funky Billy Kim 1-4
Mr. Excitement 1-5
Hook Bomberry 1-6
Jonny Storm 1-6
Kendo Kashin 0-1
Chris Kanyon 0-1
Messiah 0-1
BJ Whitmer 0-1
Steve Corino 0-1
Donovan Morgan 0-1
Steve Douglas 0-1
Steve Allison 0-1
Aviv Mayaan 0-1
Spud 0-1
Emil Sitoci 0-1
Fergal Devitt 0-1
Tommy Williams 0-1
Sexxxy Eddie 0-1
Ryan Drago 0-1
Necro Butcher 0-1
Rising Son 0-1
Andy Simmonz 0-1
Masada 0-1
Tigers Mask 0-1
Black Tigers 0-1
Lit and Deranged 0-1
Mike Quakenbush, Gran Akuma & Icarus 0-1
Josh Prohibition 0-2
Kikutaro 0-2
Mark Briscoe 0-2
Jay Briscoe 0-2
Spanky 0-2
Jody Fleisch 0-2
Jardi Frantz 0-3
Lil' Cholo 0-4

Note: Through From Parts Well Known


Today Inside the Squared Circle inducts into its Hall of Fame a man not well known among fans of today’s American wrestling, but who is nonetheless one of the most important and influential wrestlers of all time. He is the father of Japanese wrestling, and a cultural icon like few other wrestlers, Rikidozan.

Rikidozan was born Kim Shinraku on November 14, 1924 in North Korea. He immigrated to Japan at the age of 15, later claiming the name Mitsuhiro Momota and a Japanese identity to avoid Japanese discrimination against Koreans. He became quite successful in the sumo world, but left it to join professional wrestling. Shortly after leaving sumo, he took the name Rikidozan, which means rugged mountain road. He debuted on October 28, 1951, in one of the first American wrestling tours of Japan. He left Japan shortly thereafter to train in Hawaii. While in Hawaii, he lost to Lou Thesz in a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. It was an early tease of what was to come.

Rikidozan returned to Japan and founded the Japan Pro Wrestling Association, or JWA, in 1953. It would become easily the most important wrestling company in Japan for the rest of his life. The company’s first series of events came February 19-21, and wrestling was an immediate smash hit. All three shows were broadcasted on network television, and Rikidozan became a legend almost instantaneously. On the first night, Rikidozan and Masahiko Kimura beat the gigantic Sharpe Brothers. While the Sharpes were from Canada, they were billed as Americans, and the image of Rikidozan making the gallant tag and holding them off with karate chops was a psyche builder for the Japanese, still demoralized by the embarrassing loss of World War II to the Americans. Thousands of Japanese who could not afford televisions stood in parks and outside stores to watch the matches. Rikidozan’s rise in wrestling would come to parallel the rise of Japan as one of the world’s leading economic powers.

Rikidozan’s star would rise even further with a December 22, 1954 match against partner and judo star Masahiko Kimura to crown the first Japanese Heavyweight Champion. The agreement was that the match would be a draw, but Rikidozan double crossed Kimura in the ring. He began legitimately pummeling Kimura with kicks and chops, and eventually stomping his head until the referee stopped the bout. The shocked Kimura did not see it coming, and Rikidozan was established as Japan’s top star. It was yet another example of a wrestler’s unprofessional behavior leading to tremendous success.

In 1957, JWA announced Lou Thesz was coming to Japan to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Title, the first world champion to ever come to Japan. On October 6, 1957, Thesz and Rikidozan wrestled to a 60:00 draw in a 2 of 3 falls bout in front of 27,000, with neither man scoring a fall. It drew an 87.0 rating on television, the largest TV rating for a wrestling event anywhere in the world. It still ranks among the top ten most watched television shows in the history of Japan, along with a number of other Rikidozan matches. 30,000 people came to see their rematch on October 13, where they drew again in 60:00, this time scoring one fall each. Shortly after this, Thesz would lose the NWA World Heavyweight Title, and from then on would defend his NWA “International Heavyweight Title” all over the world. Rikidozan won that title from Thesz in Los Angeles, and brought it to Japan, where it became Japan’s most prestigious title. Thesz and Rikidozan always had great mutual respect, and they did great business together.

Rikidozan’s influence on the Japanese wrestling business became all the greater when he recruited two young men to be the next superstars of Japanese wrestling. While touring Brazil, he ran into a Japanese high school boy. He brought Kanji Inoki back to Japan. At the same time he recruited a tall Tokyo Giants pitcher named Shohei Baba into professional wrestling. Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki would both debut on September 30, 1960, and along with their mentor, they would be the most important figures in Japanese wrestling history.

In 1962, Rikidozan began a feud with Vampire Freddie Blassie that drew big business. The bloody matches between the two in 1962 captured the Japanese imagination. During their feud, Rikidozan became the first Asian to hold the WWA World Title. This set up Rikidozan for his final legendary feud, against the Destroyer, Dick Beyer. He defeated Rikidozan in Rikidozan’s only clean singles loss in Japan with the figure four, making him a legend in Japan to this day. Their rematch was the most watched match in Japanese wrestling history, as more households had televisions and the rating was still 67.

1963 was a year of celebration and sorrow for Japan’s legendary hero. His June wedding was a national event, drawing 3,500 guests amidst great fanfare. Rikidozan by this time had grown to be a wealthy man, owning wrestling and boxing promotions, hotels, golf courses, bowling alleys, real estate, bars, and his own night club, Riki Palace. However, this empire had been built with help from the Japanese yakuza, or mob. On December 8, 1963 he was partying in a nightclub following a match the night before. There was an issue between two rival gangs who wanted to control wrestling, and Rikidozan was affiliated with the wrong gang. His assailant, Katsuji Murata, was a major figure in the major opposition family, and stabbed Rikidozan in a hallway. While the wound was considered minor when he was taken to the hospital, he did not heed the doctors’ advice to take it easy. Subsequently, he died of an abdominal infection on December 15 at the age of 39. His funeral saw thousands attend in a massive showing of sorrow. He was a symbol of Japanese strength and resourcefulness.

Today Rikidozan takes his rightful place in the ITSC Hall of Fame. He was the father of puroresu, a cultural symbol and a huge money maker. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter named him the most important wrestler of the century, and he finished 14th in a Japanese newspaper poll for Man of the Century. Few wrestlers are more worthy of joining the Inside the Squared Circle Hall of Fame.

Still to come: Buddy Rogers, Freddie Blassie & The Sheik, Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada, Jumbo Tsuruta & Riki Choshu, Verne Gagne, Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki, Gorgeous George.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"ECW" Report

Oh My God!: Big Show and Ric Flair had a crazy hardcore match in the main event, and you wouldn’t believe the sorts of things they did.

You Fucked Up: Paul Heyman didn’t turn on ECW and help the Big Show because he’s a corporate sellout trying to force his vision of ECW on the fans. No, he did it because he’s a crazy cult leader and that’s what crazy cult leaders do.

He’s Hardcore: Ric Flair was thrown into thumb tacks and hit Big Show with a barbed wire baseball bat. Maybe next week they can set Ricky Steamboat on fire.The Extreme Rundown:

Paul Heyman came out to start the show with riot police. He said he did what he did for Rob Van Dam’s well being, because fans were the downfall of RVD. Heyman tried to slow down RVD, but the people forced him to burn himself out. Heyman called himself a martyr, savior and messiah who sacrificed his relationship with RVD for the people’s sins. He promised to lead ECW to the promised land. This was such an awful, idiotic promo. There is a strong reality to Heyman as a heel. Yet this had absolutely none of it. Instead it was just some weird, scripted promo that makes no sense and doesn’t make you want to invest emotionally in the story at all. It’s just another inane heel GM program.

1. Test beat Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer confronted Heyman backstage about what happened last week. Heyman said he wanted to give Dreamer an explanation, but there was no time because Dreamer’s match was next. Test slapped Dreamer twice, rammed him into the post, and hit a back breaker. Dreamer came back with punches, a swinging neck breaker and a neck breaker. Test hit the full nelson slam, but missed an elbow off the top. Dreamer went for the Spicolli driver but Test escaped and scored the pin with his feet on the ropes.

The tarot card reader and the vampire did a segment together. She saw blood in the future and he spit it out of his mouth. Candice and Kelly did the weekly strip tease. This was shorter than previous weeks, and wasn’t boring thanks to the presence of Candice. She has so much more presence than Kelly. Mike Knox came out to interrupt again, and got caned by the Sandman. CM Punk did a backstage promo. He said his tattoos aren’t decorations, but rather each tells a story. He said he is a disciplined athlete craving to compete with the best. Punk may be the only thing I’m optimistic about on this entire show.

2. Justin Credible beat Sabu via disqualification because Sabu put him through a table. You read that right. See, this was not an extreme rules match. Why not? I don’t know. But this match has the ignominious distinction of being the first match in ECW history where someone was disqualified for putting another guy through a table. Sabu celebrated like he won this match, as match results are basically irrelevant. All this was apparently to make an extreme rules match at Saturday Night’s Main Event feel special. Of course, that was kind of undermined by having extreme rules in the next match.

They ran a package with Balls Mahoney backstage. He said he goes balls to the wall. Balls looks old and low went with close-ups and bright lights. Ric Flair did a promo where he challenged Mick Foley to a match under Foley’s terms anywhere in the world. He said that if Big Show made a mistake in the main event, he would eat him alive. They then went to a package with Shannon Moore. He is still doing the Prince of Punk character, and is a good fit for ECW.

3. Big Show beat Ric Flair to retain the ECW Title. Show hit a press slam and head butts. Flair starting bleeding immediately. Flair came back with low blows. He hit Show with a barbed wire baseball bat twice and rubbed it on Show’s face. He hit him with a garbage can multiple times, and a chair multiple times. Show was busted open. Flair got some thumb tacks and poured them in the ring. He hit Show with a chair three times and Show fell in some tacks. Show got angry and gave Flair a clothesline. He hit the choke slam, and used the cobra clutch back breaker for the win. He then threw Flair into thumb tacks. This was a violent spectacle, but it wasn’t much of a match. And WWE ought to be ashamed of themselves for involving Flair in this nonsense for no good reason.

Please Don’t Go:

This show reminded me of the promo Jim Cornette cut at Ring of Honor’s 100th show a few months ago. Basically, he said that in 2006, Philadelphia wrestling fans could demonstrate that they are cutting edge by appreciating the new generation of great wrestling and athletes, or they could demonstrate they are a bunch of bloodthirsty retrograde idiots.

WWE seems to think ECW was about blood and guts. But it wasn’t. It was about presenting a better product with better storylines and better wrestling than the more established promotions. WWE’s product for the most part has stunk for a long time, but the solution is not sending a 60 year old living legend out there to hit people with barbed wire bats and be thrown into thumb tacks. The solution is pushing better wrestlers and telling better stories.

If tonight was the alternative to WWE, I’d prefer WWE itself. This show didn’t tell better stories than Raw. It didn’t have better wrestling than Raw. It didn’t have better athletes than Raw. It was simply the same old shit, only with a lot more completely unnecessary and distasteful violence. That’s not cutting edge. That’s ass backwards. The cutting edge is still out there. It’s ROH. It’s Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, the Briscoes, Jack Evans, and Davey Richards having excellent wrestling matches where you care about who wins and who loses. It’s certainly not this.