Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Greatest Quote Ever

From Vince Russo's book (not recommended at all - very bad stuff):

"One of my other favorite people is the Ultimate Warrior. 'Warrior' (now his legal name) may be the most intelligent person I've ever come across - in my life. Like Kevin Nash, even though Warrior is street-smart, he's also book-smart. He's on a different intellectual plane - and most of his knowledge is self-taught, from everything he can get his hands on. The writings of Warrior, based on his beliefs, are both enlightening and motivational. The man is not only a modern day poet, he's a genius. I've never met anyone with such strong ethical values and beliefs. And Warrior doesn't just talk a good game - he lives it every day."
-Vince Russo

I swear to God he actually wrote that!

WSX draws solid debut rating

I ended up watching the show after being annoyed with WWE jobbing out CM Punk to a total nothing and adding an RVD clean loss after that just out of spite. I wasn't overly impressed. The atmosphere I thought was good, and they have solid talent, but to become an alternative to WWE I think the best route is a more believable product and this is not it. But we'll see. Hopefully good ratings for this might open some doors for other people.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 01/29/07 from Dallas TX.

The Big News: WWE is teasing all sorts of scenarios for WrestleMania, with Batista vs. Undertaker and Michaels vs. Cena vs. Orton vs. Edge looking most likely.

Title Changes/Turns: John Cena and Shawn Michaels won the tag team titles.

Conclusive Finishes: 5 of 6.

Match Results: World’s Greatest Tag Team b Cryme Tyme; Melina b Maria; Umaga b Val Venis; Carlito Caribbean Cool & Super Crazy b Chris Masters & Kenny Dykstra; Great Khali b Jeff Hardy-COR; Shawn Michaels & John Cena b Edge & Randy Orton.

Show Analysis:

Shawn Michaels came out to a big reaction. He noted his declaration that no mortal man would beat him at the Royal Rumble, but said the problem was there were 29 mortal men and the Undertaker. Michaels said that the showstopper is still back and somehow he will become the next champion at WrestleMania. He said that if Undertaker chooses to wrestle for Lashley or Batista’s title, he would like to wrestle John Cena at Mania.

Cena came out and said that he liked the idea of Cena vs. Michaels. However, he observed that the decision isn’t up to either of them, but up to Undertaker. Edge came out and said he should get the title match. Randy Orton then came out and pointed out Edge has had tons of title shots against Cena and he has received none. Cena challenged Edge and Orton to fight. Vince McMahon appeared on the screen, and said that for fan appreciation night Cena and Michaels would wrestle Edge and Orton for the tag titles. This was a hot start to the show.

The World’s Greatest Tag Team defeated Cryme Tyme. Benjamin kicked Shad’s leg out of his leg early, and Haas & Benjamin worked over Shad’s leg. Eventually Shad made the tag to JTG. Benjamin was thrown over the top rope, but he skinned the cat and pulled Shad to the outside with a head scissors. JTG rolled Benjamin up in the ring, but Haas gave JTG a DDT and Benjamin scored the pin. Backstage, Vince spoke with Coach and Vince said that at the end of the evening Vince would be revered as a humanitarian along the lines of Gandhi, Mother Theresa or Desmond Tutu.

Melina beat Maria in a number one contender’s match for the women’s title. It’s silly to have Maria as a top contender for that, but they tried to get around that by having Melina get the match with help from Vince McMahon. The implication was that Melina was given the easy road to the title. This was a very bad match. Maria hit a bronco buster, but Melina worked her over for the rest of the match. She hit kicks, a flapjack and scored the submission with the sickle hold, called California Dreams.

Backstage, Michaels said he would win the tag titles but that Cena is no Triple H. Elsewhere, Super Crazy told Mickie James that he’s super crazy. Melina ended up getting into a brawl with Mickie James. Meanwhile, Edge spoke with Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. Edge pointed out that he has never lost at WrestleMania, but also put over Randy Orton as his tag team partner.

Umaga beat Val Venis in a squash. He hit a head butt, butt drop and Samoan spike. I’m all for more squashes, where someone is just plainly put over. It’s too bad they only do them for “monster” types. I think in 2007 it’s a lot easier to promote more realistic characters than 80s monsters, but you need to let fans know which characters are being put over strong so the fans can get behind them.

Next up was a weird segment. Vince came out with a cowboy hat, and then stomped on it. He said he had a special gift for one fan, and brought an attractive female plant into the ring. He had a large poster of his Muscle and Fitness magazine cover and said he would give it to her. At this point Donald Trump appeared on screen. After all the buildup it was a bad sign that he got basically no reaction. He said that fans don’t like Vince’s product, nobody would want the Muscle and Fitness cover, and Vince doesn’t know his own audience.

Trump said that the audience wants value, so Trump said he had signed Bryan Danielson, KENTA and the Briscoes to the WWE roster. No, actually he just had money dropped from the ceiling. Vince said it wasn’t real money, but it was. For some reason, this infuriated Vince, and he stormed off. This just doesn’t strike me as a professional wrestling angle. I have absolutely no idea what it’s supposed to accomplish other than perhaps getting Vince some mainstream attention, but I’ll be surprised if they find a way to translate this into a wrestling match people will pay to see.

Carlito and Super Crazy defeated Kenny Dykstra and Chris Masters. Crazy and Carlito hit stereo somersault planchas early on. The heels worked over Crazy, who eventually tagged Carlito. Carlito came in with punches, a springboard elbow, a knee lift, clotheslines, and a dropkick. Masters got Carlito up for a gorilla press but Carlito went to the eyes and hit the back cracker for the pin.

Great Khali beat Jeff Hardy via count out. This was just a squash, with Khali no-selling basically all of Jeff’s offense. Khali threw Jeff over the top rope and gave him punches and a clothesline. Jeff hit the whisper in the wind but Khali barely sold that. He stuck Jeff on the top rope and gave him a chop, sending Jeff to the floor. Jeff was counted out. Khali is as worthless as ever. Backstage, Ric Flair told John Cena that Shawn Michaels might give him sweet chin music at the end of the show to make statement.

Shawn Michaels and John Cena won the tag team titles by defeating Edge and Randy Orton. Michaels was dominant early, hitting Edge with chops and giving him a knee lift. The bulk of the match consisted of Edge and Orton working over Cena. Edge and Orton collided at one point and Edge teased leaving. He came back, and they continued to work over Cena, who bled. Cena tagged Michaels, who came in with punches, a flying forearm, an inverted atomic drop, a body slam and an elbow off the top. He went for sweet chin music on Edge but Orton intercepted him.
Orton went for the RKO but Michaels escaped and tagged Cena. Cena quickly hit the FU on Orton for the pin. After the match, Michaels was about to give Cena sweet chin music but Cena caught him. Cena got in his face, at which point Undertaker appeared on the stage. He stared down a concerned Cena with fire going off in the background. This was a really good end of the show, and there is a lot of potential in this whole scenario.

Final Thoughts:

This was a slightly above average show. The start and the close of the show were both very strong, while the middle was mostly lacking. There was a lot of bad wrestling, as Raw has too many talentless physical freaks. The top issues on Raw and Smackdown for WrestleMania are hotter right now than I would have figured a month ago.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar Thoughts

So the nominations are in. They overall look good, although I admittedly haven't seen some of the big ones. The Oscars are the Oscars and you know what sorts of films will get recognition going in. They went in a little different direction with the best picture nod for Little Miss Sunshine, but really that thing had a whole indy prestige vibe the Oscars like in spite of it being a comedy. I think it's a pretty poor choice, actually. Cute movie overall, but nothing resembling the best picture of the year in my opinion, and if they wanted to recognize a quirky comedy Borat was so much better. I'll see Babel and Letters from Iwo Jima soon, and it seems to me those two along with Departed are the top contenders for best picture. I think this is the year Scorsese finally gets best director, and it's a deserved honor as opposed to a lifetime deal. Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren seem pretty sure for best actor and best actress. Overall not a great year but the nominees are mostly pretty solid.

Super Bowl Thoughts

Fun game with the Patriots and Colts, and it was a good way for Indy to finally get over the hump. Winning the Super Bowl is now really important for them, but wanting to win it isn't going to accomplish the victory. The polls I've seen thus far as well as picks suggest the Colts are the favorite amongst most. I can see why, given the Colts D has been playing well and the Colts are clearly the higher prestige team with their offense. But this is a classic good defense vs. good offense matchup, and my inclination, particularly in football, is to take the defense in those games. So I'm picking the Bears. This also reminds me of the Rams-Patriots Super Bowl, with the more explosive offensive team getting all the props and the defense oriented team being overlooked.

As an aside, am I going way out of a limb in suggesting Bill Parcells is overrated as a coach? With him leaving the Cowboys (I don't buy this is a permanent retirement), there is all this hyperbole coming in his direction, and I don't accept it. Don't get me wrong. I think he's a very good coach. But he has gotten a lot of hype and status because of his style as well as the major franchises and media centers he has coached for. He had a tremendous record with the Giants, but no more impressive than Joe Gibbs with the Redskins, and he has been above average but unspectacular with the Pats, Jets and Cowboys. I think perhaps people should tone it down a little on the hype.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 01/22/07 from Lafayette, LA.

The Big News: Following another standout performance on the mic and in the ring, I’m starting to become a believer again in Shawn Michaels as a main event single.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 4 of 7. Due to its overuse, I’m now counting the rollup with the tights or ropes as an inconclusive finish, as well as rollups that are treated as fluky even without the tights or ropes.

Match Results: Jeff Hardy b Joey Mercury; Super Crazy b Chris Masters; Great Khali won battle royal; John Cena b Jonathan Coachman-DQ; Candice Michelle & Mickie James b Melina & Victoria; Kenny Dykstra b Carlito Caribbean Cool; Edge b Shawn Michaels.

Show Analysis:

They made note of Bam Bam Bigelow’s death prior to the beginning of the show. Shawn Michaels came out to start the show. He said that last week he felt he could beat even the most overwhelming odds, and that he won’t suppress those feelings any more. He said he’s back, and will once again be champion. He said he will win the Royal Rumble and no one will stop his destiny. Edge came out and said he will win the Rumble and become champ. Michaels told him to shut up, challenged him to fight, and called him a coward. They fought into the crowd and brawled some more after the break. This was a really hot start to the show.

Jeff Hardy beat Joey Mercury in a “Raw vs. Smackdown challenge.” I wouldn’t do “interpromotional” feuds on the midcard with little emphasis, because it makes it hard to try to turn it into a big angle later. The champion of champions storyline in the fall was a perfect example of that. Johnny Nitro came to ringside with Mercury but was ejected by the referee. Hardy won quickly with the whisper in the wind and twist of fate. Backstage, Vince McMahon made Shawn Michaels vs. Edge in a street fight.

Vince McMahon came to the ring and had a letter to Donald Trump. He basically said he wants to be on the Apprentice, and put himself over. He credited himself for USA being the number one cable network. He said that the people love him and he loves the people back, so he will show his appreciation next week. John Cena came out and said Vince doesn’t appreciate the people or even listen to them. He wanted to know why Vince is kissing Trump’s ass. Coach ended up putting over Trump as richer than McMahon, but Vince screamed that Trump has nothing on him. Vince made John Cena vs. Coach.

Super Crazy beat Chris Masters. Crazy did a hilarious interview where he said he attacked Masters last week because he’s super crazy. Masters worked over Crazy and hit a wheelbarrow slam. Crazy came back with a clothesline, spinning heel kick, drop kick, missile drop kick and standing moonsault. Masters got him in the Masterlock but Crazy pushed off the ropes and bridged for the pin ala Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart or Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart. This match was not good, as both men were off a number of times.

Kenny Dykstra backstage said he will win the Royal Rumble. Maria was unconvinced, but Kenny insisted that 2007 will be his year. Orton approached Edge backstage. They went overboard with the makeup, as Orton looked like he had been in a horrible car accident. Orton was angry that Edge wasn’t there last week, and teased that he wouldn’t be there for Edge in the main event. I’m glad that he didn’t explicitly say he wouldn’t be there, as that would have been one of those overdone swerves that nobody buys in the first place.

Coach said that he couldn’t change his match with John Cena, but he could make him wrestle in another match first. Basically Coach made a battle royal where Cena would be targeted, and at the end Cena would get the match with Coach. This reminded me of a Smoky Mountain Wrestling angle where Jim Cornette made the babyface (I think Brad Armstrong) wrestle in a battle royal against a bunch of heels at the start of a show where he would get a title match at the end. The face just jumped over the top at the start of the battle royal and outsmarted all the heels. I really liked that angle.

In any event, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch came out first. Cena gave Murdoch the FU to the floor and Cade the five knuckle shuffle. Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas and Viscera then came out, and Viscera gave Cena the elbow drop. That brought in Great Khali, who laid out all the heels and eliminated Viscera by himself. I guess that precludes Viscera’s elimination being a big spot on Sunday. Khali threw Cena out to win and sent Cena into the steps. He gave Cena his chop and left.

Coach went for the pin but Cena kicked out thankfully. At that point Umaga attacked Cena from behind for a DQ. He gave Cena the Samoan spike and splashed him from off the top through a table. They put this over as a serious injury after the break. They really need to give it a rest with the serious injury angles for maybe two or three months. They mean absolutely nothing right now because they happen basically every week, and the weapons are no more effective than just giving the other guy your finisher. But if WWE were to save the weapons for a rare occasion and when a guy gets beat up badly he is gone for a few weeks, you’ve got yourself an angle that actually means something.

Mickie James and Candice Michelle beat Victoria and Melina. It was a bad night for women without last names. The heels worked over Mickie, who eventually tagged Candice. Candice came in with clotheslines and drop kicks, but was cut off by a hard Victoria knee. Victoria went for the widow’s peak, but Mickie made the save. Mickie gave Melina a Charlie Thesz press off the apron to the floor, and Candice came off the ropes with some sort of botched move on Victoria for the pin. This wasn’t good.

Kenny Dykstra beat Carlito. Carlito dominated most of the match with a clothesline, knee lift, huracanrana and springboard elbow. Kenny scored the pin by grabbing the tights. Dykstra desperately needs to win matches with something other than a rollup grabbing the tights or ropes. That’s all he ever wins with, and it’s not getting him over at all. They evidently want to get him over since they put him over huge on commentary and give him a lot of pinfall wins. However, if they want to truly put him over, they need to truly put him over, and that means more than just these fluky rollup wins.

Backstage, Cryme Tyme was selling Royal Rumble numbers to Super Crazy and Eugene. Crazy was happy with any number and excited with what he was given. Eugene got 30 and was excited but they convinced him to pay more for number 1 and he did. After Eugene and Crazy left, it was revealed that the numbers weren’t real. They also admitted to selling Ron Simmons a fake Edvard Munch. Simmons had a predictable response. This was a pretty funny segment, and very funny by WWE standards.

Edge beat Shawn Michaels in an excellent street fight with a really predictable finish. Michaels hit Edge with a trash can and went for a pescado, but Edge hit him in the head with a hard trash can lid shot. That was a really impressive spot and Michaels bled. Edge gave Michaels a face buster on the steps, and hit Michaels with a chain. He dropped a ladder on Michaels. Michaels came back with a flying forearm and attacked Edge repeatedly with the chain. Edge bled. Michaels body slammed Edge on the ladder and was going to give him the elbow off the top but Edge cut him off.

Edge went for a superplex, but Michaels dropped him down with his ribs landing on the ladder. That was another really sick looking spot. Michaels then hit an elbow off the top. He went for sweet chin music but Edge avoided it and went for a botched electric chair spot. Edge went for the spear but Michaels countered with the Thesz press. Michaels hit Edge in the head with a chair and went for the concerto. At that point Orton came in and gave Michaels the RKO. Edge covered for the pin. Orton threw Edge over the top rope and set up Michaels for a concerto. Ric Flair made the save. Kenny and Carlito came out as well, but Michaels cleared the ring with sweet chin music to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was a strong show, as WWE usually produces going into PPVs. The contrast in the quality of shows when they are building an imminent PPV and when they aren’t is really striking. It’s yet another indication that WWE really needs to do more long term booking. If they spent weeks 1-3 leading up to a PPV building a story, the final angle in week 4 would mean so much more. Instead they seem to go overboard with zany comedy and ill conceived standalone angles and the PPVs don’t feel sufficiently like a culmination of important events. Consistency and patience are imperatives to reviving PPV buy rates, and it’s hard even for a strong show like this one to rehabilitate my interest in the Royal Rumble following the past few weeks.

Shawn Michaels has really been on fire since Triple H left. I was leery of the decision to keep Michaels as a single rather than using him to help give the rub to a younger star, but I’m coming around on the idea of him as a featured singles attraction during HHH’s absence. Michaels is reminding me again of why I thought so highly of him as a performer during his peak.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sean Waltman

Sean Waltman was on WOL tonight, and I thought he was a really good guest. Waltman's done a lot and has a good mind for the business, but he's also had his share of problems over the past decade or so. On this show though he really came across like he's doing well, and I hope that's the case because so many people in wrestling seems to have nice things to say about him.

There was also a great little bit of unintentional comedy at the end. Waltman made clear that he isn't doing as much high flying any more, particularly relative to the guys in Wrestle Society X. So that led to this little exchange. Bryan: “Are you at the point where you’d rather be blown up than do high flying?” Sean: “No, I’d like to do it all.” So stay tuned to Wrestle Society X for Sean Waltman flying high and being blown up.

Friday, January 19, 2007

NBA Grades

I just read this article on Fox Sports about NBA grades, and wow is this some bad stuff. I like the concept of grades, but the premise should be that you evaluate the team based on expectations and performance on a team by team basis. If there is a really young team that plays well together and overachieves they deserve a better grade than a team that is slumping and not playing up to their potential. This is how just about every grading system is done in the context of sports on the net. I was going to pull up a recent example from on the NHL that was very good but couldn't find it. Why is that preferable to another system? Well, because if you aren't evaluating it based on expectations and other subjective measures, you just end up grading the teams based on standings. And nobody would do that? Right? Well, I guess not nobody, because that's *exactly* what this author does. He hands out letter grades that literally just go down the NBA standings, with only two exceptions in the entire league of teams that are graded outside their little bracket on the overall standings. So what exactly is the point? I can look at the standings. I can see who's playing well. If you're writing for a major news source, shouldn't you be able to progress past that level of analysis?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Children of Men

I haven't seen nearly enough of the Oscar quality films yet, but I did see Children of Men the other day. I was very impressed. It's ultimately a pretty sad film, but it's very gripping. From early on they teach you that you're not going to get what you want as far as the seeming setup, and you end up kind of shellshocked at various points in the film. The one thing I was a little down on was the ending, because I felt it left too many unanswered questions. I can understand that you would want that to some degree on this sort of film, but it really felt like the narrative wasn't complete, like there was a sequel coming. I haven't read the novel so I can't say how true it is to that. Anyway, it gets my recommendation, and a spot on my current top 10 of the year (which will undoubtedly change as I see more of the end of the year movies but I think is pretty solid already).

NFL Conference Championships

Okay, so I had a mediocre week last week with my picks, but I'll redeem myself this week. I like the Colts and the Bears. And yeah, I recognize I'm probably the only person in the universe that picked the Ravens over the Colts and the Patriots over the Chargers last week and is now picking the Colts over the Patriots this week. My thinking is that the Colts are just due to break out from New England's dominance. I don't think this New England team is as good as previous years, and I think the home field is going to make a big difference. The Patriots don't have the offensive guns that the Colts do, and I think the Colts will get out to an early lead and cruise. I feel more confident about the Bears over the Saints. I was surprised on Inside the NFL to have 3 of the 4 guys pick New Orleans and the other say he was picking Chicago just for strategic reasons to win the yearly pick standards. Then again, I've consistently underestimated the Saints the entire year, so why stop now? It's funny, because after all this time I *still* don't think they're all that good of a team. I like Drew Brees a lot and think he's done a fantastic job this year. I think their receivers are underrated and I love Sean Payton as a coach, but I'm still not convinced of what that adds up to. I think Reggie Bush is overrated, and the defense just isn't that good. I think the Bears are going to give them all sorts of problems on both sides of the ball, and the home field at this time of year will make a huge difference. But I guess we will see. I'll probably go 0-2 and then you can try to predict the SuperBowl based on the team I say will lose.


I'll be posting more here in the coming weeks. I've been busy getting back into the semester and had a nasty moot court brief to write that is now complete. It's a real relief to have that done, and now the fun part comes with me traveling to New York at UCLA's expense to participate in the Jessup International Moot Court competition (sounds real impressive like, doesn't it?). Our case is on a fictional country that wants entry into a fictional regional economic and social international organization. So the organization says it can get in if it fulfills three obligations. The country does it at great expense but then the organization says it can't get in because of the poor treatment of a minority population that was facilitated by fulfillment of the obligations. So the smaller country gets pissed off, arrests an ambassador, passes some laws restricting foreign businesses, and the lawsuits come flying in both directions. The tough thing about international law is there is so much stuff out there, nothing is binding really, and it's hard to find the stuff that supports what you want to say. Still, there are a lot of fun policy oriented arguments so I'm looking forward to the competition. And not having to write another brief. Yeah, that's particularly sweet.

WWE Releases a Number

WWE released a number of guys today, and it's a pretty unobjectionable list. When they've released people in the past there were always a few I thought should have been kept around, but it's hard to argue with this list. Of course, that's also a sign they've inhabited the roster with more people with limited value than in the past. A few thoughts on the people released:
-I never understood why WWE signed Sylvester Terkay. He's got the legitimate credentials, but he's an older guy and not particularly good in the ring. He's one of those guys that's big but doesn't look that big because everyone in WWE is big. He could have been a force in MMA with better timing and luck.
-CW Anderson was lucky to hang around as long as he did. I thought he was fine, but never really fit in the WWE mold and wasn't spectacular to make up for it.
-Jazz is a good woman's wrestler but WWE has never focused on that and I don't know how much value there is in her under any circumstances.
-Rodney Mack is just a guy. No potential to be anything below the bottom of the card. It's funny they still have Teddy Long use his music.
-Tony Mamaluke is good at flying around and taking bumps, but he's so physically unintimidating it's hard to take him seriously in ROH, let alone WWE. He'll go back to ROH I assume and have good matches.
-The Bashams are a decent tag team to have around and are one of the few talents here I could see TNA picking up. But they're not going to be missed.
-I think Al Snow is a really bright wrestling mind, but it sounds like they are just removing his talent contract, so they won't lose that. There was a time when Al Snow was my favorite wrestler around the 1994 period in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and it's really a shame he never caught on as much as he could have. He was a tremendous talent, particularly as a heel.
-I never saw anything in Gymini or Gangrel, and they weren't being used anyway.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 01/15/07 (the year is now updated!) from Bossier City, LA.

The Big News: If you thought the handicap match this week was a set up for someone to come to Shawn Michaels’ aid, you were wrong. Michaels beat up Randy Orton and Edge 2 on 1 just like Michaels and HHH beat up Orton and Edge 2 on 2. Maybe next week Orton and Edge can bring someone in to help them even the odds.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 2 of 5.

Match Results: Jeff Hardy & Maria b Johnny Nitro & Melina; Ric Flair b Kenny Dykstra; Mickie James b Victoria; JTG b Shelton Benjamin; Shawn Michaels b Randy Orton & Edge-DQ.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Coach presiding over a contract signing for Umaga vs. John Cena at the Royal Rumble. He said that Armando would get to pick the type of match, and Armando made it a last man standing match. After both men signed the contract, Cena jumped Umaga and they brawled. Cena hit Umaga in the head with the ring steps and gave Armando the FU through the table.

I’m not a big fan of contract signings in 2006. They predictably end with a brawl 29 times out of 30. That was fine years ago when you got the rare opportunity to see the champion and challenger get at it before their match. But now the champion and challenger fight just about every week before the pay-per-view, so it doesn’t really mean anything. Plus, nobody buys anyone needs to sign a contract for a match given how haphazardly matches are thrown together. The whole thing thus comes across as contrived. All that said, there was nothing wrong with this segment, and it was a good way to start the show.

Jeff Hardy and Maria defeated Johnny Nitro and Melina. Hardy went for the twist of fate early but Nitro escaped. Maria gave Melina a bulldog but Melina took over and worked on Maria briefly. Maria didn’t look good. Well, she did, but not as a wrestler. Oh, you know what I mean. Hardy and Nitro came back in. Hardy hit a mule kick and the whisper in the wind. He went for the swanton but Melina grabbed his leg. Nitro went for a superplex but was shoved off for a face first bump and Hardy hit the swanton for the pin. This was short but effective. Vince backstage called Donald Trump. He got Trump’s secretary, who didn’t know who Vince was. He then was put on with someone else who said Trump was having dinner. He asked Trump to call him back.

Edge and Randy Orton came out. They teased that DX would come out but played a flat line sound to signal DX is dead. Orton said HHH is done and they won’t stop until Shawn Michaels is too. Edge and Orton then dragged out an unconscious Hacksaw Jim Duggan bleeding from the mouth. They played up Duggan as a long time friend of Michaels dating back to Mid South. They gave him the concerto.

This time they did a good camera trick that they should do every time with that move, where they zoomed the camera up to Edge when he swung so you weren’t centered on watching the point of impact. That way the move looks more brutal. Duggan did a good job selling, and he has always been good at that. I remember him selling big for Yokozuna when they were pushing him to the top. However, they are killing off serious injury angles by doing them every week with no long term consequences. You practically have to run a guy over with a car now to get heat.

Ric Flair beat Kenny Dykstra. Flair hit chops and then put Dykstra in a head lock and punched him in the nose. That was amusing to me since the first (and one of the only) wrestling action figure I ever received was an old Flair figure where his move was to stick his opponent in a head lock and punch him in the nose. Dykstra put Flair in the figure four, but Flair got to the ropes.

Flair came back with punches and chops. He went to the top and Dykstra tried to throw him off, but Flair stopped him and hit an ax handle off the top. The crowd didn’t react much to that, which was a disappointment since he only hits the move off the top once every five years or so. Dykstra used a rollup and grabbed the tights and ropes but was caught. Flair went for a rollup of his own and grabbed the tights, but Dykstra kicked out. Flair then went for another rollup and grabbed the ropes this time for the pin.

Shawn Michaels entered the building backstage and was questioned about Jim Duggan. Michaels said he was sorry Duggan got brought into it, and that he intended to deal with Edge and Orton on his own. Ric Flair said he had Michaels’ back. Vince McMahon backstage didn’t know why Trump hadn’t called him back. He read a letter from Trump, saying the Rosie-Trump skit was lame and the crowd would rather see wrestling than a poor attempt at satire. I’m glad they played off last week and tried to make a positive out of a negative.

Next up was a weird segment. Vince came to the ring and defended the Rosie-Trump skit, calling it brilliant. They aired the footage multiple times. Vince said Trump asks his audience what it wants and gives it to them, while Vince tells his audience what they want and they like it. That was a really funny line, but way too true. Vince introduced “Ms. USA,” which was Torrie Wilson. Torrie read off a card that she is Ms. USA and a very bad girl, and wanted to know how she could make it up to Vince. Vince was about to respond when Carlito came out.

Carlito said Vince isn’t cool, Rosie-Trump was really bad, and this Torrie skit was brutal. Carlito said Trump is right and Vince doesn’t know what the people want. Carlito said they don’t want stupid skits and don’t want to hear Vince talk; they want to see people fight. That got just about the only crowd reaction of this entire segment, with some people cheering. Vince took off his jacket and said there would be a fight, but then called out Great Khali. Khali no sold all of Carlito’s offense and gave him the tree slam. I think this segment was Vince’s way of saying he’d like Khali to beat up people like me.

Mickie James retained her Women’s Title by defeating Victoria. Victoria grabbed Mickie by the hair, and Mickie returned the favor. Mickie spanked Victoria. Victoria hit a baseball slide and threw Mickie by the hair. Mickie hit a huracanrana, but Victoria retaliated with a firewoman carry into a spinning side slam. Mickie hit a thrust kick rather abruptly to score the pin.

Chris Masters said that he will win the Royal Rumble and nobody can beat him because nobody can break the Masterlock. That’s flawless logic if ever I heard it. He had a sheet of paper that said the Masterlock has never officially been broken. He issued a challenge and Ron Simmons came out. Masters put Simmons in the Masterlock, until Super Crazy came in from behind with a drop kick to break the hold. He gave Masters a moonsault. The announcers sold that the hold was broken, but after the break said it was not officially broken. Ric Flair was found unconscious backstage and taken to the hospital, so he couldn’t help Michaels.

JTG beat Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin hit a shoulder breaker and attacked the shoulder. JTG came back with drop kicks but was caught with a yakuza kick. Shad exposed a turnbuckle but as Charlie Haas went to cover it, Shad tripped Benjamin and allowed JTG to score the pin. This was a clever finish. Backstage, Michaels said he has nothing to lose, and if he was going down he would go down in a blaze of glory. He gave the interviewer the superkick.

Shawn Michaels beat Edge and Randy Orton via DQ. Prior to the match, Orton and Edge had security take away DX signs from the crowd. Jim Ross decried the censorship, I sense somewhat facetiously given confiscating signs is standard WWE policy. Michaels went after both men with chops and was dominant early. He stomped Edge and gave him a swinging neck breaker. Michaels hit Orton with chops. Michaels was coming off the ropes when Edge pulled down the top rope and gave Michaels a head over heels clothesline on the floor.

Orton and Edge worked over Michaels with punches, and Michaels bled. Michaels hit a clothesline on Orton to start a comeback. Edge went for the spear but Michaels sent him into Orton. Michaels gave Edge chops, a flying forearm, an inverted atomic drop and an elbow off the top. Michaels then hit the Thesz press on Orton. Finally Edge gave Michaels the spear. He set Michaels up for the concerto, but Michaels kicked the chair into Edge. He gave both Orton and Edge low blows and then got the sledge hammer. He hit both men with the sledge hammer and gave Orton a concerto to end the show. Edge watched from the entrance. This was a strong performance from Michaels.

Final Thoughts:

This was certainly a better show than last week. I would call it average. There weren’t any standout segments, but there wasn’t much nonsense either. I’m not sure where they are going with the booking of Michaels vs. Orton and Edge, but Michaels at this point in his career should be used to help get over other people.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 01/08/06 from St. Louis, MO.

The Big News: There was a loud “TNA” chant on Raw. Seriously. I wouldn’t have taken 1,000 to 1 odds on that ever happening if you offered me this morning, but it made total sense when you look at what inspired it. Also, the 2007 Wrestling Observer Worst Match of the Year race is officially over. You can go ahead and mark “Rosie O’Donnell” vs. “Donald Trump” on your ballot now.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 6. This was probably the worst show as far as devaluing match results since I started tracking finishes.

Match Results: Jeff Hardy b Kenny Dykstra; Victoria & Melina b Mickie James & Maria; “Donald Trump” b “Rosie O’Donnell”; Carlito Caribbean Cool b Chris Masters; Cryme Tyme b Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch; Great Khali b John Cena-DQ.

Show Analysis:

They started the show by recapping DX-Orton/Edge from New Year’s Resolution. I actually had an even longer rant on this, but I’m going to keep it more concise since there were much, much bigger problems on this episode. They framed yesterday as HHH injuring himself and DX still completely obliterating Randy Orton and Edge. They announced a “victory celebration” for Orton and Edge, with a picture of them bloodied and laid out yet ready to celebrate a fluke injury.

Look, HHH is going to be out for a long time. There is absolutely no justification for framing this as him destroying your main event heels on the way out, particularly since the whole point of the feud should have been to bring Orton and Edge up to DX’s level. The man was actually injured in a match. I don’t care if the original story was different. The new story is to get Orton and Edge over as the guys that stopped DX, not lucked into an injury and got annihilated anyway. Does Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen ring a bell? This was absolutely ridiculous. They had a ready made story to get two of their top young stars up to the next level, and instead they put over the guy who needs absolutely no help and is going to be gone well past WrestleMania.

It just got better from there. John Cena came out. Cena said Armando is claiming last night was a fluke, but it wasn’t. He put over Umaga and offered him a rematch. Coach said that Umaga would have the night off, and John Cena would be facing Great Khali. Yes indeed. Khali’s monster push is back, despite the fact he has no discernable talent aside from being tall. The biggest pay-per-view draws in 2006 were Oscar De La Hoya, Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes. Yet Vince McMahon still has his head buried in the sand with this incomprehensible, unjustifiable, completely non-sensical obsession with size. He’s big. Great. Doesn’t the fact that he can’t wrestle, he can’t talk, and he has no charisma present some sort of problem?

Vince McMahon talked about legendary matches, and added Rosie O’Donnell vs. Donald Trump to the list. They brought in a Rosie O’Donnell impersonator to do lame, unfunny, ham-fisted skits based mainly around making fun of her weight. They were also unnecessarily mean spirited and clearly they were much more interested in mocking O’Donnell than Trump.

Jeff Hardy beat Kenny Dykstra. Jeff hit a baseball slide and pescado early. Kenny pushed Jeff off the top rope to the floor and had a brief advantage. Jeff came back with the whisper in the wind. Johnny Nitro came out to distract Jeff but Ric Flair came in and gave Kenny a low blow. Jeff hit the twist of fate and swanton for the pin. Jim Ross got in a Mookie Wilson reference, which was pretty funny. Maybe he’ll bring up Gary Carter next week. Dykstra is actually a really good fit for the Intercontinental Title. He’s exactly the sort of rising star that has been helped over the years by holding the Intercontinental Title.

They ran a package on Great Khali building him up as an unstoppable monster. He then did an unbelievably horrendous promo. It was almost like they want him to be a comedy character, because he emoted so little intensity that you could hear the audience loudly laughing in the background. This was a total disaster as far as getting him over, and I have no idea why they didn’t bring Daivari with him.

Victoria and Melina beat Maria and Mickie James. Maria gave Melina a bronco buster, but then the heels took over on her. They double teamed her and the faces never really got a comeback. Melina pinned Maria after a bulldog. This was the right way to book it. Maria is very likeable and a good performer but she doesn’t have the physical credibility of the other three. The WrestleMania recall was Steve Austin stunning Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, for what it’s worth.

Next up was quite the segment: “Rosie O’Donnell” “vs.” “Donald Trump.” Rosie was clearly the heel. They went on and on and on, and the crowd predictably shit all over this. Vince McMahon was watching at ringside and it will be interesting to learn what he thought of the crowd reaction. There was loud booing and “boring” chants. Then came the amazing chant of “TNA” which was actually substantial. I couldn’t believe my ears. I didn’t know that many people in the audience even knew of TNA. Then there was a loud “we want wrestling” chant. “Donald” scored the pin with a head butt off the second rope. Ross said that this would be a SportsCenter moment. Yeah, a phony Donald Trump wrestling a phony Rosie O’Donnell is going to make SportsCenter. That will air right after ESPN’s personality feature on Katie Couric.

Carlito beat Chris Masters. This feud must continue! Masters hit a press slam and power slam. Torrie Wilson came to ringside and hit Masters with the ring bell. That allowed Carlito to hit the back cracker for the pin.

Edge and Randy Orton came out, with Edge limping and Orton in a neck brace. Orton acknowledged that DX whipped their asses, and talked about how bad they got beat up and how hurt they are. He added that it was worth it because “HHH tore his quadriceps.” Yes, even Orton didn’t frame this as anything other than HHH injuring himself. Edge talked about all the people DX buried and destroyed before HHH hurt himself.

Edge said next week they will finish off DX when they take on Shawn Michaels in a handicap match. Michaels came out. He said he doesn’t know if this is the end of DX. He talked about HHH going into surgery, and said he would be with HHH. The crowd chanted for HHH. Michaels said next week he’ll deal with Orton and Edge. Michaels was really good here, in a promo reminiscent of the one he did in 1995 relinquishing the IC Title after the nightclub incident.

Cryme Tyme beat Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. Cade and Murdoch worked over Shad, mainly with punches and kicks. Shad made the tag to JTG, who came in with drop kicks. Shad rammed Murdoch’s head into the turnbuckle and JTG scored the pin. Backstage, Eugene was apparently back to being a face with no explanation given. He talked about John Cena being his favorite when Khali walked by and stared him down.

Great Khali beat John Cena via DQ. Khali hit a shoulder block, clothesline and elbow. Cena tried to slam Khali unsuccessfully. Armando brought a chair onto the apron. Cena took it from him and hit Khali with it but Khali no sold it. Khali then hit a chop and the tree slam, laying out Cena. He didn’t sell a single move from the champion and left. Armando then called for Umaga, who gave Cena the butt drop and Samoan spike to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was just an abysmal show: the sort of show that turns off the current audience, makes the departed audience glad they don’t watch anymore, and makes non fans think of professional wrestling as the world’s lowest form of entertainment. It’s the sort of show that leaves WWE with the least educated and least affluent audience on network television, and a tremendous business decline. It’s one thing to produce a show that is good or bad on its own merits. Then there are shows like this so disastrously conceived that they could not possibly be produced by a competent creative team. Vince McMahon is so out of touch. His goofy, inane comedy and completely untalented big men are completely antithetical to what the audience desires. WWE rarely has its audience reject it as strongly as occurred tonight, and the sad thing is WWE isn’t likely to take any lessons from that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

NFL Playoffs

It sounds like it was a good weekend of football. I wasn't able to see any of the games (cable was out, power was out a portion, got woke up before 7AM twice and the mail carrier lost about half my mail while I was gone by ignoring my hold request and not sticking my mail in my box - great return to LA!), but games that came down to the end without much in the way of surprise. While this season has felt pretty devoid of top flight teams, next weekend feels as strong as most years, with pretty much all the teams having a reason to make you believe in them.

I like the Patriots over the Chargers. People will probably overrate the significance of Marty vs. Belicheck, but that just screams upset in the playoffs, and there are a lot worse places to play in the playoffs than San Diego. The Patriots always have good defensive schemes, and the Chargers are less tricky than a lot of teams to scheme against. The problem is you can't completely shut out L.T. no matter how well you prepare. I think it's going to be a close game, and I trust the Pats in those.

I'll take the Ravens over the Colts. The Ravens D will disrupt Peyton and they can control the clock with the running game. Of course the Chiefs thought they could do the same thing, but there's a big difference playing in Indy vs. playing in Baltimore, and the Baltimore defense puts so much more pressure on the opposition than the Chiefs. Still, it's a compelling matchup, and pretty much all the potential AFC Championship matchups are intriguing to me.

I thought the Eagles would do better against the Giants than they did, but I'll still take them to upset the Saints. Granted I was dead wrong in doubting the Saints well into the season and the atmosphere should be incredible, but I think the Eagles are more comfortable in the playoff setting, and I'm not a fan at all of essentially giving your starters 2 weeks off. The key is going to be the play of Drew Brees. If he's as good as he has been for much of the year the Eagles are in trouble. If they can get him out of his game they've got a good shot. I'm betting on the latter (figuratively).

And finally I'll take the Bears over the Seahawks. Probably the least compelling game because the Seahawks are a shell of last year's team. Rex Grossman can look shaky and they'll still be fine, because of their D. Just don't make too many mistakes and they should be fine. I'm not sure what exactly happened to Matt Hasselbeck this year, but I've given up on him finding the answer this season.

Pillman CD

I got a chance to listen to the Brian Pillman Final Interviews CD. Interesting stuff. It's highlights of some interviews with him from late in his life, as he is trying to get over the Loose Cannon character and during the time when he went from WCW to WWF. It's during the time period when people were playing around with wrestling being a work but it wasn't entirely acceptable to be as upfront about it as people are today. The most striking thing about the interview now is just how obvious it is that Pillman is working to get over his character, from the way he talks about other wrestlers to his response to insider terms to cutting wrestling promos trying to be over the top. It really speaks to how much the business has changed, because it felt like nobody really knew what was going on with him at the time and now it seems so clear. I don't think that type of character could fool anyone today. Everyone would see right through. Pillman's smart, but you can see what he's trying to do as well through his answers. It's also hard to tell what he believes and what he doesn't because he's heeling and you know some of the stuff he says he doesn't believe. And as a random aside, it's amazing the similarities between Brian Pillman in these interviews and Tom Zenk on Wrestling Observer Live. They obviously hung out together a lot, because the delivery is eerily similar. In any event, it's an interesting listen if you're so inclined, and you can find more info here.

Simpsons Ninth Season

I watched through the Simpsons Season Nine on DVD this week. I am a huge fan of the Simpsons, although I pretty much stopped watching every week's new episode around the 10th or 11th season. Watching season nine reminded me why. There's still plenty of really fun stuff, like Homer going to New York, Homer getting a gun, Lisa and the angel, the carnies, and the Movementarians. However, there's also an increasing move towards really zany plots that are too out there to invest in the characters anymore. I think if you're going all the way with bizarre humor ala Family Guy, fine. But that's not what's best about the Simpsons. The Simpsons has always been best with humor based around real characters, and doing weird comedy bits where the humor is just how weird it is doesn't work as well for the Simpsons. The episode where Principal Skinner is revealed not to be Principal Skinner seems particularly maligned, but I think the Naval Reserve episode or the one where Snake goes after Homer's car or the public sex episode all are too out there as well and aren't particularly funny. It's really a shame, because I don't think there was necessarily any need to move in that direction, and the shift to guest stars and crazy scenarios took away from the focus on developing the characters and the trend just got worse. Oh well. Simpsons built up way more than enough goodwill to fault them too much for not maintaining that level of quality.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Final "ECW" Report

Oh My God!: Lashley vs. Rob Van Dam ended in a really unsatisfying no contest.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 4.

The Extreme Rundown:

1. Test beat Sabu. Before the match, Test complained about the fans voting for Rob Van Dam when he has more wins and is the real number one contender. It was a bland, poor promo. Test dominated the match with clotheslines, back breakers, a side slam, and a body slam. Sabu came back with springboard leg lariats and a springboard DDT, but Test hit the yakuza kick and TKO for the pin.

2. Elijah Burke and Sylvester Terkay defeated the FBI. The Full Blooded Italians were accompanied to the ring by the Fake Breasted Italian. Terkay and Burke worked over Little Guido, with Terkay hitting a big boot and belly to belly. Guido made the hot tag to Tony Mamaluke, but Terkay took over with head butts and slammed Mamaluke into the mat face first. He cranked the arm for the tapout.

They announced CM Punk vs. Hardcore Holly for next week. Matt Striker said Holly would beat Punk, and Holly said Punk can’t make him tap. Tommy Dreamer appeared “via satellite” and said he gets his ass whipped all the time because that’s who he is. He vowed to chop down Great Khali. Rob Van Dam thanked Lashley for getting rid of Paul Heyman and Big Show and thanked the fans for supporting him. He said he would bring home the title.

3. Kevin Thorn beat Balls Mahoney. The match was a disaster. Thorn hit clotheslines, Balls used punches. Then Thorn appeared to accidentally bust open Balls’ mouth with an elbow and they immediately went to the pin. The highlight of the match was Brad Armstrong’s return, as Tazz and Armstrong went at it again taking constant shots at each other. Backstage, Lashley said he respects Rob Van Dam but will retain his title. Vladimir Kozlov was at ringside and said he could beat Lashley or RVD.

4. Bobby Lashley and Rob Van Dam fought to a no contest. The crowd was dead, although there were light chants for both. Lashley hit a power slam, bear hug, spine buster and gorilla press to the floor. RVD used kicks and a split legged moonsault. Lashley took back over with a torture rack back breaker and delayed vertical suplex but his spear attempt was thwarted by an RVD drop toe hold.

RVD hit a kick off the top but missed rolling thunder. RVD dropped Lashley on the announcers’ table and hit a clothesline off the top to the floor, and the match was stopped. Basically, it was the finish to Sabu vs. Rey Mysterio all over again, only this time not nearly impressive enough a finish to sell stopping the match. There’s also the fact they had an actual injury finish in the match immediately preceding this one.

Please Don’t Go:

This show is pointless and boring, and as such this will be my final review of WWE’s ECW. A quick note on the finish: if ECW were generally producing good shows, finishes like this one would be fine. But given the shows have mostly been quite bad, they should be doing what they can to build goodwill with their viewers, not turn them off.

Monday, January 01, 2007

WWE Raw Report

Date: 01/01/06 from Miami, FL.

The Big News: Kevin Federline pinned John Cena to start WWE’s 2007. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it’s still a pretty bad sign of plenty more counterproductive nonsense from WWE in the new year.

Title Changes/Turns: None.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 6.

Match Results: Kevin Federline b John Cena; Cryme Tyme & Highlanders b Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch; Jeff Hardy b Rob Conway; Melina b Maria; Kenny Dykstra & Chris Masters b Ric Flair & Carlito Caribbean Cool; Umaga, Johnny Nitro, Armando Alejandro Estrada & Jonathan Coachman b John Cena-DQ.

Show Analysis:

Kevin Federline beat John Cena to start the show. They dragged this segment out forever, which was a smart attempt to build ratings. Federline announced that the match would be no disqualification, and had Nitro with him. He stalled forever. They did a full nelson challenge, with Cena breaking it easily. Nitro interfered but Cena took care of him. Federline used a low blow, but Cena quickly recovered and had Federline up for the FU. Umaga interfered and hit Cena with the title belt, allowing Federline to score the pin. Backstage, Federline celebrated his victory. Maria went to interview him, and Melina slapped her and challenged her to a match. Coach then made Cena vs. Umaga, Armando, Johnny Nitro and Coach in a handicap match for the end of the show.

Cryme Tyme and the Highlanders defeated the World’s Greatest Tag Team and Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch. Shaq was at ringside, and he played along with Cryme Tyme robbing him. The heels worked over JTG, until Cade missed an elbow off the second rope. JTG tagged Shad, and a brawl broke out. Shad scored the pin on Murdoch after he hit a jaw breaker and JTG snapped Murdoch’s neck on the ropes. This was bad but short.

Jeff Hardy beat Rob Conway. Conway said his New Year’s resolution was to be a winner, and that he would quit Raw if he couldn’t beat Hardy. Hardy rolled him up and beat him within 30 seconds. Vince McMahon came out and fired Conway. This was ultimately pretty harmless since Conway doesn’t mean anything, but I don’t see the need for humiliating and burying anyone if it doesn’t get someone else over.

DX came out to a strong reaction. They are merchandising green DX glow sticks, which is a cool idea. Shawn Michaels cut their usual shtick short, angry about two weeks ago. He said that DX has been challenged many times, but they are survivors. HHH said that DX has a comedy side, but they’ve also got a bad side and they are going to leave Edge and Randy Orton in a bloody heap Sunday. This was a phenomenal promo as far as building the match.

Melina defeated Maria. Victoria did commentary, and complained about being left off the past couple WrestleManias. She said that she was going to add another name to her list. Melina scored the pin over Maria after they botched the finish. Victoria teased attacking Melina, but instead went after Lillian Garcia. She was going to use the Widow’s Peak, but Mickie James made the save. I don’t know if they had serious plans for Victoria in this feud, but she has done such a good job that one would hope they will find more for her to do.

Kenny Dykstra and Chris Masters beat Carlito and Ric Flair. Earlier in the show, Kenny said that he didn’t shake Flair’s hand because that match was about him and not Flair. He added that he is the future of Raw and he would kill Flair’s career like Gerald Ford, James Brown and Saddam Hussein. Dykstra and Masters worked over Carlito, and they put over Dykstra’s youth big time. They need to book him more strongly if they have serious plans for him.

Masters hit a press slam and applied the Masterlock on Carlito, but Flair made the save with the chop block. Carlito tagged him and he came in with punches and kicks on Kenny. He went for the figure four, but Masters broke that up. Dykstra went for a figure four of his own, but Flair pushed him off. Dykstra scored the pin with his feet on the ropes.

Flair challenged him again after the match, but Orton and Edge came in and Orton gave Flair the RKO. They then gave Flair the concerto. It’s getting to be like the boy who cried wolf with the constant serious injury angles only to have the face come back in one or two weeks. If they don’t have the patience to sell serious injuries, they shouldn’t do them in the first place. It just desensitizes the audience and makes it harder to sell angles.

Umaga, Armando, Coach and Johnny Nitro beat John Cena via disqualification. Kevin Federline gloated before the match and did commentary. Umaga gave Cena the Samoan drop, but Cena got his knees up on a banzai drop attempt. Cena then took out everyone. He put the STFU on Umaga, and hit Umaga in the head with a chair twice for the DQ. He gave Nitro, Coach and Federline the FU after the match.

Final Thoughts:

Overall the show was mediocre, but the Cena-Federline match made the show a disaster as far as building a pay-per-view. Of course, it wasn’t as bad as a clean finish or the title changing hands, but it’s still idiotic to have your champion pinned by a non-athlete in the final show before a PPV. It was a real step backwards after what had been great build for Cena-Umaga.

There is ultimately no reason for the result. It might conceivably be justified if Cena were feuding with a slimy heel, and this was another reason to make you want to see Cena get his hands on that guy. But that’s not the story of this match. The story of this match is an unstoppable monster challenging for the title, and therefore the most important issues are making the champion look strong, making the challenger look strong, and making the championship seem important.

Having the champion lose to a C-list celebrity does nothing but detract from that scenario by making the champion, championship and match results seem less meaningful. It isn’t even like they are going into the PPV with heat on Umaga and Federline. Cena got his heat back by giving Federline the FU at the end of the show. So the end result is the whole mystique of Cena vs. Umaga really being diminished, and for what purpose? This is the sort of booking that really makes you question the competence of the WWE creative team.