Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Out of Texas

One final note for today. I finally got the chance over Thanksgiving to finish James Hold's book, Out of Texas. I was pleased with the book. It's a collection of comedic short stories, and it's quite funny. There are some wrestling tie-ins, and it works well. And James takes tons of shots at Dallas, which this Redskins fan is all for. So check it out if you're so inclined.

Racism in Wrestling

There is a letter on the Observer page talking about a double standard when it comes to racism. It's basically asking for a response. Dave I don't think will. And while it references me specifically, I just don't feel like writing out a longer response to run on the website. But I will give my thoughts briefly here. And it's this: not all discrimination is created the same. Some forms of discrimination are a lot more real, and create a lot more harm than other forms of discrimination. And we should rightfully be more sensitive about the discrimination that creates more harm. Anti-Irish discrimination was once very prevalent. Now, it's not a view that many people in this country hold. Thus, it's okay to make fun of it or play off of it. Likewise, if there were a group of people that legitimately felt that blue eyed people are bad and should be removed from society, that would be bad. But given that belief is not held by any group of people, it's not something we need to be terribly concerned about. Whites are the majority in this country. There is no danger that angles portraying them negatively are going to lead to any demonstrable harm. But angles portraying historically demonized minorities can exacerbate that discrimination and lead to real harm. And it's thus perfectly rational to be more concerned about the portrayal of some forms of discrimination than others.

History of the AWA DVD

I got a chance to watch this DVD over Thanksgiving as well, and thought it was disappointing. The story concentrated way too much on the period after Hogan left, and it seemed more about the demise of the AWA than what made it successful. As such, it spent a lot of time covering a period that wasn't particularly important. AWA was basically irrelevant for half the 80s, and just living on fumes from their previous success. Going back to the 60s and 70s more was essential to telling a more interesting story. And Verne didn't help himself either by coming across as an out of touch and ridiculous figure. At one point he asks what was the point of Vince going national, because he didn't make any friends. Money, Verne. It was about money. He made a lot more money because he went national. And then Verne said in 2006 that Hulk Hogan didn't have what it took to be champion. Wow. That's much more close minded than even the WWE approach to wrestling these days. Vince wasn't much better, claiming that he didn't try to get people to leave promotions without finishing their commitments. That's just him lying because he expects no one will know the difference. Anyway, it's still probably worth picking up, because it's interesting to hear all these people talk, but it's not what I would call good.

First "Adult" Hip-Hop Album?

I was reading a review in Time Magazine of Jay-Z's Kingdom Come. And it essentially said that it might be the first "adult" hip-hop album. And the might was not whether there had been one before, but whether it in fact was adult. And I found this profoundly insulting. Apparently the reviewer doesn't listen to much in the way of hip-hop, because I can't imagine someone listening to Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Tribe Called Quest, Lupe Fiasco or a variety of other artists and concluding that they produce albums that aren't adult. I won't go too far in what I think is underlying the argument that hip-hop is inherently immature, but I think it's bullshit. And Jay-Z's new album isn't that mature anyway.

TVs in SUVs

Driving up to the Bay, I was struck by the number of people in the evening with TVs going in their sports hostility vehicles. Aren't those things dangerous enough already without adding a visual distraction device? I can see arguments both ways for making cell phones in cars illegal. I use a cell phone occasionally in the car to get directions or to make arrangements. But some people just do it as their driving activity, and it seems to me they're a lot more likely to get into accidents. I think I saw a study about people with cell phones being more dangerous than drunk drivers. In any event, at least there you can see a use for cell phones that might justify it in some circumstances. But televisions? Why are these possibly allowed, particularly at the front of vehicles? *Maybe* on the back of the front seats, but certainly not up by the driver. It's insane, it's a menace, and it's adding yet another prong to my "driving an SUV is immoral" argument.

Mark McGwire and the Hall of Fame

I've been reading articles from people saying they won't support McGwire for the Hall, and of course the AP report that Hall voters also seem disinclined to vote for him. And to me this is ridiculous. Mark McGwire is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Look, I never liked McGwire. When he was being lionized in St. Louis for the home run record, it was obvious he was on steroids and people just turned a blind eye, and moreover he always seemed arrogant to me. So I wasn't rooting for him. But now people want to make him some sort of scapegoat for the steroids era (which by the way hasn't ended), as if by punishing him we can make ourselves feel better about accepting it and not caring. And it's hypocritical and ridiculous. Yes, McGwire was on the juice. So were tons of other players, including pitchers. Yeah, it's easy to say you should let in Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, or Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. There isn't much to suggest they were on the juice. But are you going to keep out Barry Bonds? What about Frank Thomas? Sammy Sosa? Rafael Palmeiro? Will there just be no Hall of Famers from this era? And my favorite example of all, Roger Clemens. This guy I'm convinced has been and is on some form of performance enhancing drugs, whether it's GH or some type of designer steroid. He's had remarkable endurance for an old man, as a power pitcher with quite the physique. And yet people don't even bring it up with Clemens, because he hasn't happened to have been targeted hard yet. The point is not to go after Clemens. It's that you just don't know who's doing what in this period. If you keep people out of the Hall of Fame for steroids, you're doing it on the basis of things like fame (which makes you a target), stature (Clemens) and stupidity (Palmeiro). It's not because you can clearly differentiate between the users and non-users. McGwire was a prolific power hitter and one of the most iconic figures of this generation. Of course he belongs in the Hall.

I'm Back

As you may have noticed, I've been pretty inactive in the last week or so. I went up to the Bay for Thanksgiving to see my sister and other family, and then I was in full preparation mode for a trial for my trial advocacy class which took place last night. With that taken care of, I'll have more time for other things, and I have a bunch of thoughts that have been collecting up. The trial went well. It was a hung jury, but we had the majority. That's also notable because the case was an age discrimination claim, and the people who played the roles of the people allegedly discriminating were older than the person alleging age discrimination. So that didn't help. But it was fun. You should have seen my cross examination. I was completely exasperated by the witness, and after battling with her for a while got the judge to admonish her twice, and then concluded with the question, "How are we supposed to believe anything you say?" That, by the way, is not a good question for those of you wondering. But it was essentially an "up yours" to a very difficult witness.

You should check out Justin Shapiro's ECW report from last night on the Observer site. It's hilarious. And of course I got the typical reaction of people telling me to come back and people telling me not to come back. Some people just can't accept there are different styles to doing reports. Or maybe they just think I suck at doing my style of report; I don't know. Anyway, to those wanting to see more of Justin's writing, so do I! I don't know exactly how I of all people am the obstacle to this, but whatever.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 11/27/06 from Pittsburgh, PA.

The Big News: Randy Orton and Edge got their heat on DX this week, although perhaps not so surprisingly they did so by beating up other people.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 5.

Match Results: Triple H, Ric Flair & Shawn Michaels b Kenny Doane, Johnny Jeter, Mikey Mondo, Nicky Nemeth & Mitch Mitch; Victoria won battle royal; Eugene Dinsmore b Hacksaw Jim Duggan; Jerry Lawler b Chris Masters; Matt & Jeff Hardy b Edge & Randy Orton-DQ.

Show Analysis:

DX and Ric Flair beat the Spirit Squad in a fun match to start the show. Ric Flair came out and said he wanted his feud with the Spirit Squad to end. He challenged them and introduced his partners DX. HHH said he is sick of beating the Squad, and this would be the last time we will see the Squad. The faces totally squashed the Squad early, with Shawn Michaels hitting a somersault plancha and all three faces strutting. The Squad briefly worked over Michaels, but missed a cool combination power bomb/splash spot off the ropes and Michaels tagged HHH.

HHH came in with a high knee, face buster and spine buster. He tagged Flair. Michaels and HHH took out two Squad members with sweet chin music and a pedigree. Flair, Michaels and HHH then put the other three in simultaneous figure fours and they all tapped. HHH chased the Squad backstage with a sledgehammer. He locked them in a locker that was marked to be sent to OVW in Louisville. This was funny, but they could have found a better way to split off Ken Doane if they want him to get momentum as a singles heel. MNM accepted the Hardyz’ challenge for December to Dismember.

Victoria won a women’s battle royal to earn a shot against Mickie James. This match made me happy. Victoria just destroyed all the rest. She double crossed and eliminated Melina. She dumped Torrie and knocked Maria off the apron. Candice threw her over the top rope, but she landed on the apron. She kicked Candice right in the face and broke her nose, and then sent her out of the ring to win. Mickie did a good job on commentary here. Victoria gave Candice a Widow’s Peak after the match for good measure.

Eugene beat Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Eugene was hesitant and nervous coming out, but slapped Duggan. Duggan took over with punches, a body slam, and a back drop. He went for the three point stance but Eugene left the ring. He snapped Duggan’s neck on the ropes, rammed his head into the post and hit a swinging neck breaker for the pin. Eugene after the match told people not to laugh at him and said he’s special. So I guess they want you to make fun of him for being handicapped, which is kind of sad given how they framed the character at first.

Dusty Rhodes and Arn Anderson spoke with DX backstage. DX invited them to a party for Ric Flair. Shawn Michaels said they had soda, chips, and a karaoke machine. HHH was embarrassed at how uncool Michaels is, which was quite funny. HHH promised booze and broads, which enticed Dusty and Arn. Even Ron Simmons joined them as they left for the party.

Next up was Cutting Edge with a mystery guest. Edge sarcastically congratulated DX for beating Spirit Squad again, and likened it to him beating the Hardyz repeatedly. He asked for his guest to come out, but no one showed, so Edge was going to leave. Randy Orton came out, and said he had the guest backstage. Edge walked back there, and they dragged out a bloodied, unconscious Flair. Orton and Edge called out DX, who had already left. Edge said DX only care about themselves, and that they would send a message. Both Orton and Edge gave Flair one man concertos. This was a very effective segment, and came across as more serious than most angles like this.

Jerry Lawler beat Chris Masters. Masters powered Lawler around. Lawler hit his fist drop off the second rope three times, but Masters basically no sold it, and just went right back to offense. He applied the Masterlock, but Carlito came out. Masters broke the hold, Carlito spit apple in his face, and Lawler rolled him up for the pin. This was a bad match with screwed up psychology and an awful finish.

Armando said that it is time for Umaga to become champion, and challenged John Cena to a title match. Cena came out, stared down Umaga, and accepted. Armando pulled Umaga away. This was simple and effective. They did a lame satire of the Michael Richards incident, with Cryme Tyme laying him out. It wasn’t funny, and WWE has some nerve knocking racism by having their racist caricatures beat up the racist.

The Hardyz beat Edge and Randy Orton via disqualification. Edge and Orton worked over Jeff, who tagged Matt. Matt and Jeff went for a dual spot off the top rope, but Orton pushed Jeff off the top to the floor. He went after Matt, and Matt fought him off, but Matt then missed a moonsault. Edge and Orton worked over Matt, who tagged Jeff. Jeff hit the whisper in the wind on Orton, and Hardy gave Edge the side effect. Hardy hit a pescado on Edge. Orton went for the RKO on Jeff, but Jeff escaped. Matt gave Orton the twist of fate and Jeff hit the swanton on Orton. They went for the pin, but Edge hit Jeff with a title belt. He gave Matt an RKO on the title belt to end the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was an average show. It had some of the improved build and focus of the past couple weeks, along with some of the nonsense prior to that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"ECW" Report

Oh My God!: ECW was live again this week. It didn’t mean the show became more eventful, however.

You Fucked Up: On the plus side, there was nothing wrong with any part of the show.
He’s Hardcore: Hardcore Holly and Rob Van Dam had a brutal main event match.

Conclusive Finishes: 4 of 4! WWE is a stunning 8 of 9 since I started tracking this. They’re not letting me prove my point at all, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

The Extreme Rundown:

1. Bobby Lashley beat Matt Striker in a simple squash. Lashley hit a belly to belly, delayed vertical suplex, and used the dominator for the pin.

2. Matt and Jeff Hardy beat the FBI in another squash. FBI worked over Jeff briefly, before he tagged Matt. Matt came in with clotheslines and back drops. He slammed Little Guido and hit a leg drop off the second rope. Matt and Jeff hit a combination twist of fate/sit down power bomb off the second rope on Tony Mamaluke. Matt hit the twist of fate on Guido and Jeff gave him the swanton for the pin. This was a fun match.

3. CM Punk beat Kevin Thorn. Thorn hit a stun gun, back breaker and applied the Boston Crab. Kelly came out to root on Punk, and Punk broke the crab. He hit the uranage and applied the anaconda vise for the submission. Ariel and Thorn jumped Punk and Kelly from behind, but Punk cleared the ring. Mike Knox watched this from the entrance and was disconcerted.

Big Show came out and said that an elimination chamber filled with weapons will change the lives of every competitor, and will be barbaric. Presumably it won’t end with Big Show losing the title for pushing the referee. The crowd was chanting “what,” and Show hilariously said he would leave it to Nassau to be five years behind. I always hated that chant. Show said his title is on the line against five challengers, but he likes his odds because no one can beat him. Bobby Lashley came out and hit him with the title belt.

4. Rob Van Dam beat Hardcore Holly in a strong main event. Paul Heyman told Holly that if he won this match he would get RVD’s spot in the chamber, and Test gave Holly a pep talk. RVD hit kicks early, but Holly threw RVD into a chair and stomped a chair on RVD’s face. He dropped RVD on a chair, but the crowd chanted boring during Holly’s offense. It wasn’t really fair given they were having a good stiff match, but the crowd isn’t into Holly at all.

Holly hit a leg drop off the top onto a chair on RVD. He whipped RVD with a belt. Finally RVD came back with punches, a thrust kick, a monkey flip, and a kick off the top. He used a skateboard kick to send a chair into Holly’s head and hit rolling thunder on a chair. Holly threw a chair at RVD, but RVD recovered for a superplex onto a chair. He hit the five star on a chair for the pin.

Please Don’t Go:

This felt like the sort of one hour wrestling show I grew up on. There were a bunch of squash matches, and a featured main event. That formula isn’t going to help ratings in the short term, but it’s good for the product long term. I won’t be able to do the report next week, but I’ve lined up a more than suitable replacement. Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.

Derek Jeter MVP?

My ass. It's just New York Yankee bias. The guy's 15th in OPS, 29th in slugging, 4th in OBP, 22nd in RBI, way down in HR, 3rd in H, and 2nd in R. He's nothing resembling the player who made the most difference for his team. And he was in the middle of one of the best lineups in the game, which gave him ridiculous protection. So the argument ends up coming down to a bunch of inconsequential intangibles like speed (yeah, stolen bases are real important in 2006), leadership (oh yeah, he really helped out A-Rod) and the like. That and the fact there's the perception that Jeter's an all time great, and thus he deserves an MVP as some sort of a lifetime achievement award. It's a total joke. His MVP (assuming he wins it) will be right up there with Julia Roberts' Oscar. Give me David Ortiz every day of the week and 54 times on Sunday.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Raw Report

Date: 11/20/06 from Baltimore, MD.

The Big News: This show was focused on Survivor Series, and specifically the tag team elimination matches.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 4 of 5. Bravo.

Match Results: Umaga b Sabu; Jeff Hardy b Johnny Nitro; Dusty Rhodes b Nicky Nemeth; Lita b Mickie James; John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels & Ric Flair b Big Show, Edge, Randy Orton & Kenny Doane.

Show Analysis:

The show started with John Cena’s team coming out. Cena even got in an inadvertent reference to Tim Sylvia. Cena said that his team would like to start Survivor Series early. That brought out other teams one by one. First Edge and Randy Orton’s team came out, then Ric Flair’s team, then the Spirit Squad, then DX’s team, then Big Show’s team. After all of them issued challenges back and forth, Vince McMahon announced an all captains 8 man main event. I liked this open to the show, with the focus on the Survivor Series teams.

Umaga defeated Sabu with ease. Umaga hit a palm thrust to the throat and chop, threw Sabu into the barricade, and hit a yakuza kick. Sabu came back with a springboard leg lariat, drop kick to the leg and springboard DDT. He went for another springboard but was caught with the Samoan spike for the pin. The crowd wasn’t into Sabu at all, but I’m all for putting people over strongly so this segment was a success.

Torrie Wilson was shooting t-shirts into the crowd when Chris Masters came out. Masters came onto Torrie. That brought out Carlito, who attacked Masters. He was leaving the ring when Masters jumped him from behind and applied the Masterlock. Jerry Lawler made the save. Backstage, Johnny Nitro and Melina dedicated their upcoming victory to Kevin Federline. Kenny picked Nicky over Johnny for the upcoming match with Dusty Rhodes, and Kenny confronted Ric Flair. Flair introduced Roddy Piper’s replacement for Survivor Series, Ron Simmons.

Jeff Hardy retained his Intercontinental Title by defeating Johnny Nitro in an entertaining spotfest ladder match. Hardy hit the whisper in the wind, used a baseball slide to send the ladder into Nitro, and hit a pescado. Hardy went to climb the ladder, but was pushed off. He was then crotched on the top rope, but came back to drop kick the ladder into Nitro. Nitro tried to monkey flip Hardy into the ladder but Hardy landed on the ladder and tried to climb to the belt. That was a cool spot.

Nitro drop kicked Hardy off the ladder and hit Hardy with the ladder. Nitro went to climb, but was pulled off. Hardy slammed Nitro on the ladder and went for the swanton off the top. Nitro rolled off the ladder and Hardy came crashing down on the ladder in a sick spot. Nitro threw Hardy into the ladder, hit a neck breaker, and drove the ladder into Hardy’s ribcage. Hardy whipped Nitro into the ladder and hit a sunset flip power bomb off the ladder. He dove off the top rope over a ladder with a leg drop, which was another impressive spot. Hardy trapped Nitro under the ladder and climbed up to get the belt.

Dusty Rhodes beat Nicky Nemeth. Rhodes got kind of a disappointing reaction in Baltimore, and that really hurt this match since you knew it wasn’t going to be a good match going in. Nicky went after Dusty’s leg. Dusty caught Nicky coming off the top rope with a punch. He hit the flip, flop and fly, and dropped the elbow for the pin. Backstage, Edge and Randy Orton got into an argument with Cryme Tyme. Orton said they would be the tag champions for a long time, while Cryme Tyme called Orton a metrosexual cracka. They invited Maria to hang out with them.

Lita beat Mickie James. This week Mickie James was blindfolded. I hate this gimmick. Lita jumped Mickie from behind with punches, kicks, a DDT, and a moonsault for the win. Lita talked about what an influence she has had on women’s wrestling, and said without her there would be no Mickie James or Trish Stratus. The whole promo was kind of silly. Lita said she would beat Mickie James at Survivor Series, and then retire as the greatest women’s champion of all time.

John Cena, DX and Ric Flair beat Big Show, Edge, Randy Orton and Kenny. The heels jumped Cena and Flair and worked them over until DX came out. The faces cleared the ring and took turns on the isolated Edge. Michaels hit an elbow off the top and went for sweet chin music, but Edge was pulled out of the ring. Show, who looks very immobile these days, came in with head butts and clotheslines. Show went for a double choke slam on DX but was kicked low three times by Flair, Michaels and HHH to stop him.

Coming after a break, the heels took turns on Michaels. Orton gave him the Garvin stomp, while Show hit a big boot and leg drop. Orton went for the RKO, but Michaels escaped and tagged Cena. Cena went to town on Kenny with the Cena slam, five knuckle shuffle and an FU attempt. Show broke that up and went for the choke slam, but Cena got out and Michaels knocked Show out of the ring with sweet chin music. Cena hit the FU on Kenny for the pin. All the Survivor Series teams came out at the end and fought with each other.

Final Thoughts:

Raw showed marked improvement this week in just about every way. There was better wrestling, better build, less nonsense, and even clean finishes. This show was much, much better booked than last night’s TNA Genesis show, and I would not have taken that bet going in. Hopefully for WWE the improved focus did not come too late to help the Survivor Series buy rate.

Random Weekend Thoughts

I didn't have time to talk about it previously, but I went to the first night of PWG's All Star Weekend Four on Friday night before heading up to Sacramento Saturday morning. The show went really long as usual, and left me really tired the next day. It was a good show, but only average by PWG standards. I think the best match was Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley against Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black in a nice little tag match that built well. Homicide vs. Christopher Daniels was a pleasant surprise, with both men working really hard and having a fun brawl. Daniels also cut an awesome and deserved promo on a fan after the match. Roderick Strong and Davey Richards over Super Dragon and B-Boy was good, but a little bit of a letdown. It was weird that they went to Super Dragon and Davey Richards hating each other so quickly. I figured we were still in the middle stage, since they don't have that much reason to be at odds at this point. I figured this would be more polite and they would really start feuding a little later. Samoa Joe over Rocky Romero was a disappointment. And the 8 man main event with the Dynasty was pretty sloppy and overall not particularly good. The finish was quality though. I'm still waiting for them to either take the title off Joey Ryan or stop with the nonsense WWE finishes. As far as UFC, I had a blast. Really fun show and I had an awesome view of the action. I'm a really big fan of St. Pierre so I was happy he won. Randy Couture was on my plane on the way up to the show about 2 rows in front of me, and I saw him in the airport on the way back as well (he got on an earlier flight, though). I'm addicted to live MMA.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

St. Pierre Crowned Champion in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO - In front of an announced crowd of over 15,000 fans at the Arco Arena, Georges St. Pierre delivered a superstar making performance. The charismatic and likeable French Canadian thoroughly dominated arguably the greatest 170 pound fighter of all time, Matt Hughes. St. Pierre celebrated in the Octagon what he called the greatest moment of his professional life with his mother, basking in the glory of a win that was startling not in its result but in the ease with which it came about.

Hughes and St. Pierre both received mixed reactions, with vocal segments of the crowd cheering and booing for both men. In the first round, there were chants of USA. After St. Pierre got the best of the standup exchange, those chants changed to GSP. Hughes was willing to trade standing with St. Pierre. Both men got in good blows, but St. Pierre scored the heavier shots ducking in and out with punches, kicks and knees. After a St. Pierre punch landed, St. Pierre got the takedown and landed some punches and elbows on the ground.

The fight returned to the standing position, and St. Pierre blocked a Hughes takedown attempt. St. Pierre landed a flush punch to Hughes’ jaw and was looking to finish the fight, but the first round ended. In the second round, St. Pierre blocked another Hughes takedown attempt. St. Pierre scored a leg kick that knocked Hughes down. Hughes got back up, but was caught shortly thereafter with a high kick that rocked Hughes badly. St. Pierre followed with punches on the ground and the fight was stopped.

Hughes-St. Pierre paced a strong evening of fights at the Ultimate Fighting Championship: Bad Intentions. In the semi-main event, Tim Sylvia retained his heavyweight title by winning a decision over Jeff Monson. The crowd didn’t like the fight, which was a tactical affair with both men trying to impose their game on the other. Sylvia had a huge size and reach advantage, and carefully used his reach to land punches.

Submission grappling master Monson went for takedowns, but Sylvia blocked all of them in the first and second rounds. Monson finally scored a takedown in the third round, but Sylvia showed good ground defense. Sylvia used his long legs and arms to neutralize Monson’s ground and pound and cut Monson from the bottom. Monson went for a guillotine choke but was unable to sink it in. They ended up on the ground again in the fourth round, with both men going for submissions. Monson was unable to get it to the ground again in the fifth, and Sylvia landed the better blows standing to earn a 50-45, 49-46, 49-46 decision.

Brandon Vera picked up an important victory over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir in just 1:09. Vera landed some clean punches on Mir at the beginning. He then got Mir in the muay thai clinch, where he did the most damage with brutal knees. Mir went down to the ground, where Vera finished him with punches and elbows. This sets up Vera as a challenger for Sylvia’s title.

Miletich Fighting Systems competitor Drew McFedries scored a major upset over Italian boxer Alessio Sakara. Both men displayed tremendous standup skills and iron chins. McFedries caught Sakara towards the end of the first round, and finished him on the ground. McFedries collapsed shortly thereafter after a hard fought victory.

Local fighters James Irvin and Nick Diaz were big crowd favorites, and scored impressive wins. Irvin scored a TKO victory over a very game Hector “Sick Dog” Ramirez. Irvin and Ramirez traded standing in the first round, with Ramirez generally getting the better of the action. Ramirez also scored a takedown, some ground and pound, and attempted a rear naked choke. Ramirez appeared close to finishing the fight with punches at the end of the round, but Irvin hung on. That gave him the opportunity to quickly turn the tide in the second round with a punch that knocked Ramirez silly. The referee stopped in to stop the fight.

Nick Diaz also stopped his opponent in the second round. Gleison Tibau looked good in the first round, attempting a series of submissions. Diaz was able to narrowly avoid the submissions, and in the second round he punished Tibau with a very precise ground and pound attack.

Also on the card, lightweight Joe Stevenson quickly caught tough Japanese fighter Dokonjonosuke Mishima in a guillotine choke. Dutch fighter Antoni Hardonk weathered a ground and pound storm from Sherman Pendergarst and stopped him with a leg kick. In the opener, Jake O’Brien scored a dull unanimous ground and pound decision over Josh Schockman.

Random Political Thought of the Day

I'm watching the end of Real Time with Bill Maher from Friday. And he's again beating the drum for ending Presidential term limits. It's a stupid point on a number of levels. To begin with, he's making the point in the context of changing the Constitution over time. His point was the founding fathers couldn't foresee all the things that would come up, and thus we should be having Constitutional conventions to change the Constitution more radically and frequently. I think he's stealing the point from Sanford Levinson's new book, but he doesn't credit Levinson. This may or may not be a good idea (I think Cass Sunstein did a pretty good job responding to it in The New Republic), but Presidential term limits are a counterpoint to that argument. It's an example of people realizing a flaw in the Constitution, and using the Amendment process to change that flaw. Presidential term limits are no reflection of the mistakes of the founding fathers. They came a lot closer to FDR's New Deal, which I'm sure Maher is a much bigger fan of. But aside from all those points, Presidential term limits are a good thing. Yes, I know you like and miss Bill Clinton, Bill. But one of the big problems with politics of the past 20 years is the increasing focus on candidates over policy. And that would become even more magnified if you allowed one person to potentially rule for decades on end. It's good to have voters evaluate new candidates with new ideas. It leads to a healthier democracy. There were reasons for the 22nd Amendment. And taking the stand against Presidential term limits because your ideal previous president (Clinton) seems to be better liked than the other guys' (Dubya) is the very embodiment of partisan silliness over critical analysis of the actual policy.

TNA Genesis

I ordered the TNA show tonight. There were a lot of positives, but also a lot of negatives. Overall I'm glad I ordered the show, but the promotion really could use better booking. The LAX/AMW feud is such crap. It reminds me of Smoky Mountain Wrestling's stuff with the Gangstas, complete with Jim Cornette involved in it. The idea I guess is you have a heel racial faction that you have an insidious heel faction, and then you can have the faces do racist promos and they will be supported. It was bad enough trying to run it in a regional promotion 12 years ago, but it's even worse in a supposed national promotion in 2006. I think the crowd like LAX more than AMW anyway, and they reacted really negatively when Jim Cornette stripped them of the tag titles for no reason. The booking of the feud makes TNA look totally backwards and out of touch to me.

The final two matches were the tale of pro wrestling in 2006. The main event was tremendous, because it was so simple. You had a wrestling match. Both men fought to prove who was best. There were no ref bumps. No foreign objects. No interference. Just wrestling until one man won. And because it was actually about proving who was best, it was greatly exciting. But then the match before you had barbed wire boards, thumbtacks, people hanging from ceilings, ref bumps, interference and a title changing hands after all that because of a DQ with one wrestler shoving the referee. It was just utter nonsense, and the crowd reaction to it reflected that. Angle-Joe shows how easy wrestling can be, and Sting-Abyss showed how pro wrestling companies have totally screwed that up with overbooking. Sting-Abyss was pro wrestling in 2006. Angle-Joe reminded me a lot more of MMA, and that's a bad thing for pro wrestling. I may write about this more in the next day or so if I have the time.

Friday, November 17, 2006

WWE and Pride?!

Please tell me this is some sort of nightmare. The one saving grace of WWE getting so unbelievably crappy in the past five years is I have had my sweet, sweet UFC and Pride to fill the void. I can only imagine the harm Vince could do to Pride in no time at all, even under the guise of helping it. He's completely disconnected from pro wrestling in 2006, let alone MMA, and the problems with his "pro wrestling" would be even more magnified applied to MMA. Not to mention I think 99 percent of WWE office has no clue what has made Pride successful or what lessons from that to apply to their own promotion. This is scary, scary stuff if you're a fan of Pride.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

UFC 65 Thoughts

Heading to Sacramento for UFC 65, which I'm really looking forward to. I cannot wait for Hughes/St. Pierre II, and I may have more interest in that individual fight on a personal level than any other fight I've ever attended live. In short, I really want to see GSP win. That's a bad sign, because the general rule with me and sports is that whenever I really want to see an individual or team win, they lose. Okay, that may actually go beyond being a general rule to being a universal rule. Brief thoughts:

Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre: For all this talk of Hughes "getting in St. Pierre's head," I just don't see it. A few years ago when they fought Hughes had every reason to be in St. Pierre's head. St. Pierre had nowhere near the same level of experience and Hughes seemed practically unbeatable. And yet GSP came in with tremendous confidence and fought a really even first round and gave Hughes problems before being caught at the very end. Since then GSP has improved much more than Hughes. Hughes has improved his BJJ, but GSP has shown marked improvement in wrestling, striking and submissions. And as far as GSP being bullied, Frank Trigg going into his fight with GSP basically said he was going to bully GSP and put him in a real fight. GSP pounded him. So I'm picking St. Pierre, even though it violates my first rule of MMA predicting: never pick against Matt Hughes. What can I say? I'm an idealist with hope rather than a realist with doubt.

Jeff Monson vs. Tim Sylvia: It seems nobody's giving Monson much of a chance, but I think this has more of a potential for an upset than a lot of people. Yeah, Sylvia has a ridiculous reach advantage and will pick apart and knock out Monson standing. But Monson is strong, a good wrestler, and great submissions. If he is able to get in close on Sylvia, get the clinch, and take him down, he could win quickly. I think whoever wins here is going to make the other look kind of bad. I agree with Sylvia being the favorite and think he'll probably win, but it's no foregone conclusion.

Brandon Vera vs. Frank Mir: This could be Mir's last stand. He needs to prove he's got something left. I think Vera's probably overrated right now, but Mir's been overrated for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if Mir won this one either, but I expect Vera to pick him apart standing. And if Mir gasses again, he's not going to get as lucky as he did last time.

Undercard is pretty good by recent UFC standards, but I haven't been enamored with recent UFC undercards so that isn't meant to be high praise. As a matchup I like Stevenson-Mishima the best of the remaining fights, but I always enjoy seeing Nick Diaz and Sakara's a lot of fun too.

Piper DVD

I picked up the Roddy Piper DVD today. I've watched the documentary but not the bonus materials. It was a mild disappointment, with the reason for that being simple: more kayfabe. Yes, the return of kayfabe to WWE DVDs is officially not an aberration unique to the managers DVD. This has plenty more kayfabe, including Piper arguing that the referee should have been checking for a submission when he had the sleeper applied to Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII and his shoulders were down. WWE as usual has everything backwards. They present their current product, where I would absolutely love to suspend disbelief, so ridiculously that you can't possibly take it seriously as legitimate even for a passing second. And then in the DVDs of old material where you are just looking back and would like the curtain pulled back since there is no need to suspend disbelief anymore, they pull the kayfabe nonsense. Very annoying, although fortunately in this case it isn't that overbearing kayfabe where they really lay it in thick that they are pretending it's all real. Here it's more them just taking you through the story, and telling the story like it was legit. And that to me is okay because that is the actual story and it's not insulting to my intelligence. Still, I wish they didn't do that on the DVD releases, because it takes away from the quality of them. The bonus materials feature plenty of Piper's Pit, which should be fun and the documentary is overall good in spite of my previous criticisms, so I recommend the DVD.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"ECW" Report

Oh My God!: Bobby Lashley is now in ECW. They could definitely do worse.

You Fucked Up: We only got one finish this week, with two straight garbage DQ finishes to end the show.

He’s Hardcore: The show no longer has much in the way of hardcore content, so this header will likely be eliminated.

Conclusive Finishes: 1 of 3. I’m going to start keeping track of this on ECW and Raw, because I’m so sick of interference, DQs, ref bumps, distractions, foreign objects and the like.
The Extreme Rundown:

Elijah Burke did commentary with Joey Styles on the show. He was much better than Todd Grisham, which is ironic given their respective broadcasting experience. Paul Heyman and Big Show came out to start, and Heyman said that Rob Van Dam wouldn’t be there. Heyman said it was time to find out who would sign the contract for the Elimination Chamber, and he laughed about it along with Show.

Hardcore Holly’s music played and he was coming to the ring when he was jumped and laid out by Lashley. Lashley speared Show and signed the contract. I liked the way they introduced Lashley. I’m not so sure about how he fits in ECW, though. I like his upside, but ECW already has way too many “project” big guys who aren’t very good in the ring. Chris Benoit makes so much more sense for the slot.

Test, Big Show and Hardcore Holly were annoyed with Paul Heyman backstage for concocting the open contract gimmick. Heyman said he wanted to make it look legitimate. They were annoyed, and said it didn’t have to be legitimate given they run the show. Heyman made Holly vs. Lashley for the main event. This was a funny little segment.

1. CM Punk beat Mike Knox. Punk got a good reaction, and I love how Punk beats everyone twice so there is no doubt as to who is getting the push. Kelly Kelly overtly rooted for Punk throughout the match. Punk missed a baseball slide, and Punk accidentally kicked Knox into Kelly. That gave Knox the opportunity to jump Punk from behind and ram him into the post. I’m guessing that is a nice subtle start to the Kelly heel turn.

Knox went after Punk’s back with a back breaker and Boston crab. Knox seemingly moves in slow motion when he is on offense. Punk came back with a springboard dropkick, tope, springboard clothesline, knees from the clinch, high knee and bulldog. Knox hit a tilt-a-whirl back breaker to briefly regain control, but Punk followed with slaps, a spinning back fist, high kick, uranage and anaconda vise for the submission.

Matt Striker did a promo backstage, which was basically an introduction to a package on Hell in a Cell. He had another gem, talking about what “we in the know refer to as quotes.” Real obscure concept, there. And yeah, he mispronounced Mikhail Gorbachev’s name in the middle of the history lesson too. Striker doesn’t pull off his gimmick at all. It’s not just that he’s an unconvincing genius. He actually comes across as a stupid phony, although unquestionably the material contributes. He should watch some old Nick Bockwinkel tapes. Elsewhere, Punk welcomed Lashley to ECW, and said it would be every man for himself in the Elimination Chamber.

2. Tommy Dreamer beat Daivari via disqualification. Daivari went after Dreamer’s knee but missed a crossbody off the top. Dreamer hit some punches but Daivari grabbed him and pulled his groin into the post for the DQ. He hit a choke slam on Dreamer after the match. This was a bad match, with neither man looking good. Daivari also looked really small here, and it isn’t like Dreamer is a particularly huge guy. They shouldn’t have done this finish here if they were going to do the same finish in the next match and main event.

3. Lashley beat Hardcore Holly via disqualification. This was pretty back and forth. Lashley hit a delayed vertical suplex on Holly, but Holly dropped Lashley on the ring steps. Lashley missed an elbow, but Holly came off the top into Lashley’s boot. Lashley hit a torture rack back breaker, but Holly hit a superplex. Lashley hit an exploder, clothesline into the corner and running power slam when Big Show pulled the referee out of the ring. Punk, Sabu and RVD made the save.

Please Don’t Go:

This was just another ECW show. I don’t have much to add to the report.

Monday, November 13, 2006

WWE Monday Night DX Report

Date: 11/13/06 from Manchester, UK.

The Big News: WWE pulled off a miraculous feat, and actually managed to put on an even worse show this week than they did last week.

Title Changes/Turns: Edge and Randy Orton won the tag team titles. Jeff Hardy won back the Intercontinental Title.

Match Results: Triple H & Shawn Michaels b Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, Viscera & Charlie Haas; Johnny Jeter & Kenny Doane b Highlanders; John Cena b Umaga-DQ; Jeff Hardy b Johnny Nitro; Mickie James b Lita; Edge & Randy Orton b Ric Flair & Roddy Piper.

Show Analysis:

DX came out to start the show. Since they weren’t going to have much of a presence for the rest of the show, they were the focus of the first 25 minutes of the show. They said they got the best of Eric Bischoff just like Vince and Shane McMahon, and Edge & Randy Orton would be next. Jonathan Coachman came out and said he put a $10,000 bounty on DX. DX mocked him for being cheap, so Coach put them in a handicap match.

After a break, DX defeated Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, Viscera and Charlie Haas in a four on two match. The heels worked over Michaels very briefly. He tagged HHH, who took out everyone. HHH pinned Haas after the pedigree. Well, at least they put over someone this week.

The Spirit Squad conferred backstage. Kenny and Johnny would go out to wrestle while the others would attempt to claim the bounty on DX. DX took them out like were nothing for comedy. Kenny and Johnny then defeated the Highlanders. There wasn’t much to the match, which consisted mostly of punches and kicks. The Highlanders went for the Scot Drop on Kenny but Johnny made the save. Kenny then shoved Johnny into Rory and rolled up Robbie for the pin. I think Kenny should be presented more seriously if they want him to succeed as a singles heel.

Jerry Lawler lost the Masterlock challenge. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler did a good job selling the segment. Lawler fought for a while and went out. Todd Grisham did commentary for Lawler the rest of the show and he was horrendous. Backstage, Eugene knocked on DX’s door and said he was there for the bounty. DX gave him a Bounty roll. He knocked on the door again and went to punch them but they closed the door and he hit it. He knocked on the door again, and when they opened he charged. DX moved out of the way. I do enjoy this type of Looney Tunes humor.

Lita backstage said she would beat Mickie anywhere and that she is the greatest women’s champion of all time. Chris Masters jumped HHH in the bathroom, but HHH took him out in short order and left him unconscious next to the toilet. It’s kind of hard to figure out why they would bother putting Masters over if DX was just going to bury him as a total joke in the next.

John Cena beat Umaga via disqualification. They really shouldn’t book matches that serve no purpose other than to beat into viewers’ heads that most WWE matches end in screw job finishes. Umaga no sold everything Cena did early and hit the Samoan drop. Cena came back with shoulder blocks, but Big Show ran in and they double teamed Cena. He received the choke slam and Samoan spike. Backstage, DX sarcastically told Coach that they were intimidated by the bounty. They said they would leave and not come back, and Michaels made off with the briefcase full of money.

Jeff Hardy defeated Johnny Nitro to regain the Intercontinental Title in a good match. No, I don’t know why they did the title switch in the first place. Hardy hit a baseball slide and pescado. Nitro worked over Hardy until Hardy crotched Nitro on the top rope. Hardy hit a back drop, mule kick and sit down power bomb. Hardy hit the swanton, but Melina distracted the referee. She then tripped Hardy coming off the ropes. Nitro hit a neck breaker and a sky twister press, but Hardy rolled up Nitro to win. Nitro attacked Hardy with a ladder after the match. DX purchased tickets from Cryme Tyme outside the arena, with the comedy revolving around Michaels “speaking jive.”

Torrie invited Carlito to a party after the show. Carlito said he had an early flight the next day, so he couldn’t make it. Torrie said she had an early flight too, and he could crash with her. Carlito of course accepted. I like the interplay between Torrie and Carlito. DX used Coach’s money to buy a bunch of DX shirts and throw them out to fans.

Mickie beat Lita. Mickie had her legs shackled together. DX was watching from ringside, and HHH sprayed Lita with mustard. Mickie then hit Lita with a sausage and hit the DDT for the pin. And people said last week’s show felt like Vince Russo at his worst. Coach then had security remove DX from ringside.

Edge and Randy Orton defeated Ric Flair and Roddy Piper to win the tag titles. Edge took out Piper with a concerto almost instantaneously. Orton and Edge then worked over Flair, who fought back with chops. He went for the figure four, but Edge gave him the spear for the pin. DX ran in after the match and took out about a dozen security officers. The show ended like it began, with the DX music playing.

Final Thoughts:

It really felt like WWE booked this show to piss off all the people who hated last week’s show. But I got out my frustration last week, so it’s cool. This was another awful show, obviously booked for the vanity and ego of the boss’s son-in-law and his buddy. The finishes were ridiculous again, they buried tons of people, and they didn’t make you interested in the PPV at all. DX at this point reminds me of face Hulk Hogan in 1996. They are unbelievably stale, past their primes, burying everyone, holding back more talented new stars and consumed with ego. The irony is that hypocrite Michaels used to mock Hogan on all these points at the time. Well, hey, at least I have UFC and PWG to look forward to this weekend.

Redskins Bench Brunell, Campbell New Starter

I really like the way that Joe Gibbs has handled the QB situation with the Redskins this year. A lot of people were calling for Jason Campbell a lot earlier, and my thinking was that Mark Brunell was only a small part of the problem with the team, and that he gave them the best chance to win. Thus it was smart to stick with him even if the public outcry was in the other direction. And he stood by Brunell the entire time and didn't give the media any fodder for discussion. Then at 3-6, with it evident that the team is not making the playoffs and needs to evaluate Campbell's viability as a starter for the future, he quickly and decisively made the change. It was the right move (this seems to be a pretty overwhelming view among Skin fans) and it was the right timing as well in my opinion (decidedly the minority viewpoint). Very well handled by Gibbs, and much better I thought that the way Parcells decided to make the switch in Dallas.


From's Phil Rogers:

"There's only one problem with the gaudy numbers that Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Lee traditionally put up: They are guaranteed to lead to big contracts but do not necessarily translate into victories.

Along with Alfonso Soriano, these are the biggest bats on the market, and it figures someone will pay them accordingly (Lee appears headed to the Houston Astros; Ramirez possibly to the Los Angeles Angels). But for all their thunder, Lee and Ramirez have combined for only 55 at-bats in the playoffs (and a .218 average), generally playing on also-ran teams.

Their teams were a combined 147-176 last year. Lee did not deliver when he was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers at the July deadline, and Ramirez disappeared when the Chicago Cubs needed him to step up while Derrek Lee was sidelined.

One scout says the saying about lies, damn lies and statistics applies to free agency. 'You can take any stat, I believe, and damn near make any point you choose with it,' he said."

Like, say, the winning percentage of a player's team?

I mean, seriously, what kind of logic is this? Because you play for a bad team it means your stats are fake? This isn't the NBA. If you put up good stats year in and year out in baseball you're a good player, even if you play for a bad team.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tigers Trade for Sheffield

I don't like this trade at all for the Tigers. They give up some decent prospects for a guy who is going to be 38, has a history of being disgruntled, was injured most of last season, and you sign him to a 2 year extension through 2009? This is madness. I doubt Sheffield hits 35 home runs for his $40M that he's getting from the Tigers. And given that I don't trust Magglio Ordonez to hold up for his big deal either, I think the Tigers are building themselves on very, very uneasy footing. I could see them going from a World Series team back to a laughing stock in short order. I think for aging sluggers you have to weigh risk and reward. That's why I liked the Jim Thome deal last year. They weren't giving up all that much, and they were able to get a lot of the salary paid to compensate for the risk. Here the Tigers are taking all the risk, and giving up quality to boot. And watch, when the season starts everyone will be picking the Tigers, because the way people look at sports way too often is looking at how the team did last year plus the people they added, without taking into consideration how indicative the previous season was of their overall skill level, and whether the added players however prestigious will be able to legitimately improve the team. But I guess we will see. Obviously if Sheffield and Magglio stay healthy and their young starters are able to hold up for a bunch of innings again without any deterioration in performance, they will be in good shape. But to say I have serious doubts about that is quite the understatement.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"ECW" Report

Oh My God!: Hardcore Holly turned on Rob Van Dam to end his short stint as a face.

You Fucked Up: Nothing too bad this week.

He’s Hardcore: Nobody.

The Extreme Rundown:

1. CM Punk beat Mike Knox. Knox ordered Kelly Kelly from ringside. I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it again. I really hope the culmination of this storyline is Kelly Kelly established firmly as a heel. She has no sincerity as a face and comes across very unlikable even in what is supposed to be a sympathetic role. Knox dominated most of the match with punches and kicks. He hit a couple of back breakers, but Punk took over with slaps, a spinning back fist, a high knee, a uranage and the anaconda vise for the submission. This was dull but inoffensive.

This match qualified Punk for the Elimination Chamber. I said last week I had another problem with that match on this pay-per-view, and that problem is that I don’t think Punk should be in it. They have protected him very well up to this point, but he will almost necessarily be an afterthought and loser in this match. I think they would be better off giving him a convincing pay-per-view win over a quality opponent since he’s one of the best things ECW has going for it.

Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay announced they are coming to ECW. It will be interesting to see how Paul Heyman books Terkay. One would think he will feud with Punk since they both do the legit gimmick (obviously it’s more of a gimmick for Punk than Terkay). Paul Heyman came out and announced the tag team main event. He said that next week there would be an open contract for anyone who wants to enter the Elimination Chamber. That’s kind of a baffling announcement given it seemingly undermines the whole premise of qualifying matches.

2. Daivari beat Little Guido. Daivari dropped Guido on the top rope and raked his face. He hit the DDT for the pin. This was short and disappointing given the talent level of Guido. Great Khali gave Guido the choke slam after the match. Daivari’s push is really odd. He’s okay, but they are basically pushing him because they paired him as the mouthpiece for a tall guy but the tall guy is too awful to wrestle. If they had decided from the beginning that Khali was going to be the enforcer for someone, they never would have picked Daivari as the singles wrestler for him to back.

3. Test beat Tommy Dreamer to qualify for the Elimination Chamber. The crowd was into Dreamer. Dreamer clotheslined Test to the floor and hit a neck breaker and sit down power bomb for near falls. Test caught him with a low blow, hit the yakuza kick, and finished Dreamer with the TKO. This was short but effective.

4. Rob Van Dam and Hardcore Holly went to a no contest with Big Show and Paul Heyman. Basically, Big Show worked over Rob Van Dam the entire match. He gave Heyman a couple opportunities to slap and taunt RVD. Finally, RVD made the tag to Holly, and Holly immediately turned on RVD. He joined with Show to beat up RVD and gave him the Alabama slam on a chair.

I like this formula for a tag team match. It was commonly done with the Horsemen, and it tells a good story. I really liked the way they did it in a match with Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson against Bunkhouse Buck and Terry Funk, just as a random example. The downside is they probably gave up on Holly too quickly, and the turn didn’t really make much sense. There were chants for Hardcore Holly in this match, indicating perhaps they panicked after the weak reaction to him in his first match as a face.

Please Don’t Go:

This was a pretty standard ECW show, in line with what they have done in previous weeks. It had its good ideas and its bad ideas, but nothing really frustrating along the lines of last night’s Raw. I also much prefer a wrestling show where in three of the four matches there is a clear winner and a clear loser based on merit, as opposed to zero of seven. If they applied this formula to their better talent, I think they could build their PPV buy rates.

Dems Win Pretty Big

As I write this, it looks like control of the Senate is going to come down to Montana and Virginia. Either way, the day went very strongly for Democrats. I think it's more of a repudiation of the Republicans than an affirmation of the Democrats, but I'm all for repudiation of the Republicans. I'm pleased that it's going to be a lot harder for Bush to go after whatever zany objectives he may have for the rest of his term, and I think today is a very positive sign for America and the world.

Anger Not Subsiding

Usually when I write an angry tirade about Raw, I feel better afterwards. But not tonight. I'm still livid. I think I'm going to go beat up a homeless person. Or even better a politician.

Raw Report

Date: 11/06/06 from Columbus, OH.

The Big News: It was a banner evening for Raw, as the “creative” team once again proved themselves to be out-of-touch imbeciles of the highest order. Hey, considering this show amounted to an ad hominem attack on the viewer for watching, it’s only fair they have that rudeness returned in kind.

Title Changes/Turns: Johnny Nitro is the Intercontinental champion, and Eugene is a bad guy.

Match Results: Johnny Nitro b Jeff Hardy; Johnny Jeter & Kenny Doane b Eugene Dinsmore & Hacksaw Jim Duggan; Umaga NC Maria; Chris Masters b Jerry Lawler; Carlito Caribbean Cool b Shelton Benjamin; Lita b Mickie James; Ric Flair & Roddy Piper b Randy Orton & Edge.

Show Analysis:

Randy Orton and Edge came out to start the show. Edge put over Lita’s title win and their victory over DX, and said that DX wouldn’t be on the show. Orton said that is the people’s fault, and brought out Bischoff. Bischoff said thanks to him, DX suffered their first loss. I guess they meant their first tag team pinfall or submission loss in 2006, which is quite the series of caveats. In any event, Bischoff thanked Vince McMahon, and said he was made GM for the night. Hooray. Another heel GM show. That isn’t a tired idea. The only thing that can make that even better is every match ending with some sort of bullshit finish.

Bischoff said that John Cena had the night off, and DX was banned from the building. He announced Johnny Nitro vs. Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental Title. At that point, Ric Flair and Roddy Piper came out. Flair brought up his history with Bischoff. Piper said that Edge stole the Cutting Edge from Piper. He added that at least he rips off well, while Orton can’t even rip off his father right. Piper said he didn’t want to hear any more from them. Piper was really good here. Of course this led to a tag match being made, no-DQ and for the tag team titles.

Johnny Nitro beat Jeff Hardy to win the Intercontinental Title. This was actually their second match of the night. In the first, Melina interfered twice early on and was disqualified. Bischoff came out and ordered a no-DQ rematch. Hardy hit a jaw breaker, but Nitro responded with a springboard kick and they collided with simultaneous crossbody attempts. Hardy hit a mule kick and brainbuster into a Michinoku driver. He hit whisper in the wind, but Nitro kicked out of a pinning attempt. Melina interfered, and the distraction allowed Nitro to crotch Hardy and hit him with the title belt for the pin. This was a bullshit way to change a title.

An advertisement ran for Kurt Angle here, and it’s good for TNA that they are getting those things through. I would imagine that fans watching Raw who see Kurt Angle advertised on TNA are apt to tune in to see him. Eric Bischoff backstage made a match with Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Eugene against the Spirit Squad, where the losers can never wrestle as a tag team again. Maria entered Bischoff’s office, and they brought up how she testified at his trial when he was fired. Bischoff made Maria vs. Umaga. It was a nice touch to tie in their past. Kevin Federline appeared on video, and challenged John Cena to a match in Miami on New Year’s Day.

Eugene and Hacksaw Jim Duggan beat Johnny and Kenny. See, Kenny and Johnny are teasing a break-up. Thus, the logical expectation would be that they lose and are forced to split up. But since that is the expectation, there must be a SWERVE. It would be unpredictable were not there a swerve in every instance like this. And we got the bullshit interference finish on top of that. Duggan went for the three point stance, was distracted by the other members of the Squad, and rolled up. Eugene snapped and jumped Duggan from behind with the 2x4 after the match. So he’s going from Dave Sullivan to the Equalizer. The problem is nobody is going to take him seriously as a menace, and they would be much better off having him renounce the gimmick and become Nick Dinsmore again.

Next up was among the most illogical segments I have ever seen in professional wrestling. Just bewildering, astonishing, stupefying incompetence. So Maria was led out for her “match” with Umaga by Coach, and Coach even shoved Maria into Umaga. Umaga stared at her menacingly for a while. He grabs her and lifts her into the air and holds her there, yelling things menacingly. He then lifts her over his head and drops her hard with a Samoan drop. He towers over shouting things while the announcers talk about how horrible he is. He slowly carries her over to the corner, and then backs away. He makes awful faces while the announcers talk about how he couldn’t possibly run into the corner with the butt drop. That’s exactly what he does. At this point Armando makes the signal for the Samoan spike.

After all of this, they play John Cena’s music and he finally runs in. Says Jim Ross, “Cena’s seen enough.” So, apparently Cena was sitting backstage, watching as Umaga slowly picks apart and destroys a woman he outweighs by hundreds of pounds. He gives her the Samoan drop. He gives her his butt drop. And finally, he teases that he will use the Samoan spike. It was then, and only then, that Cena said, “by God, that’s too much. The Samoan drop on Maria was fine. The butt drop was cool. But the Samoan spike would just be too much.” This is the logic we’re dealing with here. This show is written by IDIOTS.

But we’re not done yet. The interviewer comes out and has a question for Cena. His question was why Cena was out there. So little Maria is getting destroyed by a 300 pound Samoan savage who if this were real would probably have killed her. Nobody comes to her aid. Cena only comes out after he has attacked her multiple times. And the question on the interviewer’s mind is why he came out there. That’s a hell of a question. So, what’s Cena’s response? Why, that’s the best part of all.

Cena decides to cut a COMEDY promo. Yes. Seriously. As Maria is being carried to the back, presumably suffering a broken back or broken neck, Cena stands in the ring and tells jokes about the interviewer. This is your hero. He waits to save her, and then before making sure she is okay, decides it is time for comedy hour. Apparently there must be comedy in every Cena promo. Requisite comedy out of the way, he goes back to a serious promo. He tells Bischoff to back off and says the next time Umaga wants to beat up someone, he can come after Cena. He also accepted K-Fed’s challenge. And then out of the blue he gives the interviewer an FU. This is the shit that they are putting on television today, ladies and gentlemen.

Backstage, Bischoff and Lita were chatting. Bischoff talked about being happy that there was no DX on the show, and since everything’s a swerve, of course that meant they would be showing up in the main event. Lita had some controversial idea for Bischoff in her match with Mickie James. Finally, Bischoff made himself the special referee for the main event. Elsewhere, Carlito and Torrie were backstage. Shelton Benjamin said Carlito wasted the fans’ vote at Cyber Sunday. Benjamin said he would have done better, and challenged Carlito to a match. Benjamin said he didn’t get the votes last night because he’s black. Carlito pointed out he’s a Puerto Rican, and called Benjamin bendejo. Benjamin cut a promo about black men all over the world looking up to him. I was half expecting it to end with “Scorpio Sky Bum Ba Ye” but instead it ended with Ron Simmons saying “damn.”

Chris Masters was in the ring, and Bischoff ordered Jim Ross in the ring with Masters. Jerry Lawler challenged Bischoff instead, so Bischoff told him to wrestle Masters. And because a young muscular heel can’t beat a 50 year old announcer, he said that Lawler would have to wrestle with one hand handcuffed to the top rope. Of course Masters put him the Masterlock for the win. No bullshit finish in this one, just a bullshit stipulation that made the match inconsequential.

Carlito beat Shelton Benjamin. Cryme Tyme did commentary. When Benjamin was in control, Cryme Tyme stole Benjamin’s chain and glasses. Of course, that distracted Benjamin, and Carlito gave him the back cracker from behind for the pin. You’ve got to love those bullshit finishes. God bless WWE. I love sports, but when I watch UFC or the NFL or the NBA, I find myself wishing more games or fights ended with someone distracted a competitor and causing him or his team to lose.

Lita beat Mickie James. The stipulation was that Mickie had to wrestle with one arm tied behind her back. One might argue it’s pretty lazy and uncreative to use the same stipulation in two of three matches, but they would be wrong. There is, after all, a pronounced difference between your hand being tied behind your back and your hand being tied to the top rope. Lita won with the DDT. So we got bullshit stipulation making the match inconsequential number two here.

Raw concluded with another home run, as flabby 57 year old Ric Flair and out-of-shape 52 year old Roddy Piper defeated Edge and Randy Orton. Don’t worry. See, it would be bad if Edge, the hottest act in WWE this year, were putting over old men with no physical credibility. But he wasn’t. No, he just lost a WWE match to them, and we all know that WWE match results are completely irrelevant. And so of course, WWE delivered on a stellar 100 percent bullshit evening, with every match concluding with some sort of nonsense to where nothing was accomplished. After a ref bump, DX ran in and gave Orton sweet chin music. They put Flair on top of Orton for the pin.

But this fine evening of entertainment would not be complete without the perfect capper for young men: fat male strippers. Yes, indeed. It doesn’t get any better than that. So DX brought out the fat male stripper, and they danced around. He took off his clothes and danced around in his thong, and DX shoved Bischoff’s head in the stripper’s ass. Therein answering one of life’s great questions: what could be better than fat male strippers? Why, men shoving other men’s heads into the asses of fat male strippers. Now that is entertainment. Don’t give me that athletic competition bullshit. I want zany comedy with homosexual undertones.

Final Thoughts:

This show was an atrocious, indefensible mess. It’s like they are begging viewers to give up on the product forever. And it would almost be better if that were the goal, because at least then they wouldn’t be failing at absolutely everything they set out to do.

Friday, November 03, 2006

TNA Impact

I frequently watch TNA Impact after Ultimate Fighter, but it's never been a show I particularly look forward to or pay close attention to. Now, it always seems like Impact is too packed with stuff coming at you really fast and too much like WWE, but this week's show seemed over the top in that regard. Just stuff being thrown at the wall in rapid order with all the earmarks of Vince Russo. Worked shoots, stipulations abound,'s absolutely the wrong direction for TNA. It's really a shame, because the Kurt Angle deal has the potential to draw new fans in, and I don't think they're going to stick. If it were up to me, I'd do a 180 from what WWE is doing. No run-ins, period. No cheap DQs, period. Clean finishes in every match. Focus heavily on wrestling and interviews, with realistic characters and logical booking. Every week there is a quality main event that goes a substantial period of time. I've just had all I can take with ridiculousness in wrestling, and want a product that takes itself seriously. I don't think I'm alone as wrestling fans become MMA fans instead. And TNA is not on the right side of this issue.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too Good

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Classic Stuff From Sports Guy

You have to check out his NBA preview. Put down the drink before you do, because it's unbelievably hilarious. He should write a book about Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.