Sunday, April 29, 2007

Site on Hiatus

I'm going to be on hiatus from posting anything here for a while. Not sure when I'll be back. Just wanted to give you the heads up so you're not checking and wondering what happened. I've enjoyed conversing with everyone, and take care.

Pats Trade for Randy Moss

And the NFL Draft coverage continues...

Okay. I think the trade probably will work out, and the Pats aren't giving up that much. Given that I think everyone and their mother will like this move for the Pats and expect it to work out, I'll half play devil's advocate and voice a couple reservations:

1) Pats seem to be on a troubling trend of getting arrogant and thinking they can deal with players with questionable character because they're the Patriots. And that can work occasionally. But the fact is they are the Patriots because they were conscious about those concerns for many years. You keep adding bad character players and eventually you have a bad character team. They've got 2 this weekend in Brandon Meriweather and Moss.

2) I understand the Pats had big time receiver problems last year and felt the need to reload. But it's quite possible they've gone overboard. The strength of the Patriots' offense has been that Brady gets the ball everywhere and to a bunch of different people. That unpredictability and unselfishness helps that offense work. Now you've brought in a bunch of people who are expecting their touches. And if Tom Brady expects that he has to get the ball a certain number of times to each guy to keep them happy, that upsets the whole dynamic. So I'm concerned they may in fact have too many established WRs.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

More Draft Thoughts

So the Browns traded the 36th pick and next year's number one for the 23rd pick and selected Brady Quinn. It's nice they got their QB and the guy to protect him, but I don't get the NFL teams' draft value formulas. Frankly, I think they're idiotic. The guys at the top are way overrated. I'd rather have a pick around the 7 range than the 1 most years. You can get the best player at some position, and pay them a lot less money. There's no guarantee any of them will work out, and the top of the draft is usually just ordered based on need. I'll take the cheaper player and the cap room who has just as much of a shot at being a great player. The NBA draft for sure should have a premium at the top, because that's about getting the one transcendent star. That's not the nature of the NFL. And then I think these formulas way overvalue current picks. I just do not get why a 2nd round pick now is worth more than a 2nd round pick next year. Newsflash: there will be good players that you like in the next draft. You'll still be trying to build a winner. Yet the seeming conventional wisdom is a second round pick this year is worth a 1 next year and a third round pick this year is worth a 2 next year. To me, why not just trade away your picks every year to some team? The first year you won't have your picks, but then every year thereafter you will have higher quality picks than you would otherwise, perpetually. So as far as the Browns' trade, it stinks. The first round next year is the best pick of the three traded. No way in hell is it 23 or lower and it's probably top 10. So you trade a second round pick to get an inferior pick? That's awfully foolish.

Dolphins Select Ted Ginn Jr.

Wow. That's one of the more surprising picks in years, both because I fully expected they were going to take Brady Quinn (who I like better than JaMarcus Russell) and because Ginn is an awful pick (total reach, injury question, receivers are total question marks in general). The commentators are now starting to tear into it, and rightfully so.

Other early thoughts on the draft:

I don't care how highly people think of Calvin Johnson. Wide receivers are total hit and miss and the Lions at some point need to draft other positions high. I think they took him in part because of the idea they were calling other teams' bluff and waiting for the right offer to come after the pick. But there's no guarantee it will, at which point they're like that idiot Jim Bowden not trading Alfonso Soriano before the trade deadline last year.

I'm fine with LaRon Landry going to the Skins. He seemed like one of the best defensive players available, and I've always advocated drafting the best player rather than drafting for need. It will be some question how he will mesh with Sean Taylor, but if that works out well, they will terrorize receivers trying to catch in the middle of the field.

Okoye and Quinn are going to be good value.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Democratic Debate

I'm watching this Democratic Debate on MSNBC, and the story of this thing is former Senator Mike Gravel. He's crazy! I mean seriously. He's ranting and raving with zany accusations (the "major" candidates would use the nuclear bomb!) and preposterous ideas (the key to getting us out of Iraq is making it a felony to send troops to Iraq!). I take it this guy won't be invited back, but for humor he is gold.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 04/23/07 from London, England.

The Big News: John Cena and Shawn Michaels went 45 minutes in a WrestleMania rematch, and it was a really strong match.

Conclusive Finishes: 4 of 5.

Show Analysis:

Shane McMahon came out to start the show. He said that Lashley wouldn’t be there, because he got taken out. Shane continued that a fan would have a chance to take him on. He said he found Britain’s greatest fighter to face him. Oh my God. They signed Michael Bisping and they’re going to use him to put over Shane. No, actually it was long time independent wrestler Robbie Brookside. Shane just destroyed him and executed the Van Terminator.

This reminded me of something J.J. Dillon said in the Four Horsemen DVD. He talked about how proud he was with one match because he wrestled the match as a manager. Dillon had been a wrestler, but realized that as a manager his role was different. Nobody took him seriously as a threat, so he was to look weak enough that the fans thought the face would kick his ass and couldn’t wait to see it.

Shane needs to learn from that lesson. Nobody buys that Shane, the son of the owner of the company who wrestles a few times a year and isn’t even in very good shape, is some sort of physical threat. He should be playing the role of the obnoxious manager who everyone wants to see destroyed, not wrestling virtuoso and tough guy. I think Shane can be a very entertaining character, but he is playing the wrong role and it seems more motivated by ego than anything else.

In any event, Shane told Brookside that this would be a 2 on 1 handicap match. Umaga came out and gave Brookside his running butt drop and a splash off the top. Shane then said this would be a 3 on 1 handicap match, and that brought out Vince. Vince covered Brookside for the pin. This was a dull segment in a dull feud. They then aired a phenomenal video package on Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena at WrestleMania. This was one of the best videos they have done in years and made the match feel epic.

Trevor Murdoch beat Matt Hardy. Murdoch hit some punches and used a sleeper. Matt came back with clotheslines, a bulldog, and a leg drop off the second rope. Lance Cade distracted Matt and Murdoch sent Matt into the post. Murdoch then made what appeared to be an attempt at the Canadian Destroyer. At least I think that was the idea. It was botched beyond recognition. This was basic wrestling build with the challengers beating the champions going into a title match.

Melina beat Maria. Maria executed a spinning head scissors and clothesline, before she was abruptly driven into the mat for the pin. They kept this short and to the point. Great Khali then defeated Carlito. Carlito dodged around and used leg kicks. Khali gave him a head butt. Carlito went to the eyes and attempted a drop kick off the top. He was brushed aside and given a chop and tree slam for the pin. This was just dreadful. That’s three straight clean jobs for Carlito. Ric Flair came to ringside but Carlito angrily told Flair that he doesn’t need him. The Flair/Carlito interplay was very good.

Mick Foley backstage was running down events of recent weeks. Edge came up to him and they were cool with each other. Edge said he would watch John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels. Cena backstage ran into Michaels. Cena said everyone in the promotion has monikers like the Showstopper, but he’s just the champ. This was good little promo and had the right tone of seriousness.

Shawn Michaels beat John Cena in a non-title rematch. Cena was booed again, but not overwhelmingly like last week. The crowd wasn’t really rooting for either man, but just watched attentively and reacted to the big spots. Michaels and Cena did a lot of slow chain wrestling early. Cena went for the FU but was unsuccessful. Michaels shoved Cena and Cena punched Michaels. Cena then worked over Michaels with a headlock. Michaels got out and hit some chops. Cena hit a clothesline and went for the FU, but Michaels tumbled out to the floor.

Michaels came back with chops and stomps. Cena was able to score a suplex and body slam, and they traded blows. Michaels gained control with the swinging neck breaker, flying forearm, inverted atomic drop, body slam and elbow off the top. He went for sweet chin music. Cena avoided it, but Michaels caught him in a backslide for two. Cena went for a flying shoulder block but missed and fell to the floor. Michaels attempted a pescado but Cena caught him, which was an impressive spot. Michaels sent Cena into the post and began to concentrate on Cena’s left arm.

Michaels responded with clotheslines, shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU, but Michaels escaped. Michaels went for sweet chin music but Cena avoided that and hit the FU. He went for the pin but Michaels kicked out. Cena threw Michaels to the floor and rammed Michaels’ back into the post. He continued to work on Michaels’ back with a delayed vertical suplex, bear hug and Irish whip into the corner turnbuckle. Cena then whipped out a top rope rocker dropper.

Cena was going for the FU off the top but Michaels got out and hit a power bomb off the top. Cena went for the STFU but Michaels kicked him away. Michaels then knocked Cena off the apron onto the announce table. Michaels went for the piledriver on the ring steps but Cena used a back drop to reverse. Cena and Michaels brawled on the floor, and back in the ring Cena locked in the STFU.

Michaels fought towards the ropes. He teased going unconscious but then made one last push to get to the ropes. Michaels went for sweet chin music but Cena escaped and went for the FU. Michaels got out of that and hit sweet chin music. He covered, but Cena grabbed the bottom rope at 2. Michaels followed with chops. Cena went for the FU but Michaels escaped again and hit sweet chin music. That was finally enough and he scored the pin. Michaels held up the belt afterwards, put it on Cena, and gave him the crotch chop to close the show.

This was an exceptional match, with both men giving tremendous performances and Michaels in particular. Jim Ross also really helped the match with a great call, which once again showcased his ability to make a big match feel special. This match will also likely make their third match into a very big deal.

Final Thoughts:

This was a one match show. That match delivered big time, so the show was a tremendous success.

Gonzaga-Cro Cop Piece

You can check out my most recent piece for the LA Times, with thoughts from Dana White here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Imus Fallout and Hip-Hop

Yeah, some hip-hop artists have some very negative things to say about women. But this is the best example this guy could come up with? Hell, that's not even in Snoop Dogg's top 50 most misogynistic lyrics. Someone get him Bitch Please on MP3.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 04/16/07 from Milan, Italy.

The Big News: Italy didn’t greet John Cena warmly.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 6.

Show Analysis:

Coach came out to start the show and said that despite what happened last week he would get his way. He announced John Cena vs. Edge and Randy Orton for the main event and then introduced Vince McMahon. Vince put down Milan and brought out Umaga. He said Lashley wouldn’t be there, but Umaga was ready for action. Nobody came out, so Vince brought a “fan” into the ring.

This “fan” was introduced as Santino Morella (presumably after Gino “Gorilla Monsoon” Morella). He is of course Paul Heyman’s shootfighter Boris Alexiev. The crowd was into Santino, who got a little offense early with punches and kicks. Vince then announced the match would be no holds barred. Umaga just destroyed Santino with a body slam, leg drop, head butt and corner splash. Umaga went to the top, but Lashley interfered. He hit Umaga three times in the head with a chair and then used the spear. He put Santino on top, and Santino was announced as the new Intercontinental champ.

I like this as a basic idea to introduce a new face. The face comes out of the crowd and scores a big upset win. It’s a very old pro wrestling angle dating back to the territory days and was essentially the plan Heyman had to make Daniel Puder a star recently. The execution here was awful, however. They treated Santino as a jobber who needed help from another face and was no real threat to anyone. That doesn’t create a new star. That creates a new low to mid level face and devalues the Intercontinental Title.

If they want to freshen up the card, they need to actually push people. An enormous problem WWE has had in recent years is they don’t introduce new characters in a way that sets them up for success. And of course as a result their main event mix is usually stale. We have seen everyone and their mother score a fluke win over a star when another star interferes. It doesn’t get that guy over. If you want to get someone over, you have to put them over someone else. If you’re not willing to have someone important genuinely lose in order to establish the new guy, the fans will recognize this and they won’t treat the new guy seriously.

Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin beat Carlito and Ric Flair. The Carlito burial continues. Prior to the match, Carlito said he let Flair down. Flair said that wasn’t the case and that they could win and get themselves back into title contention. Carlito cleared the ring early. The heels worked over Flair briefly and then Carlito came back in. Haas kind of tripped Carlito in what amounted to a blown spot and Benjamin hit the T-bone on Carlito for the pin. Carlito was angry with both Flair and Torrie Wilson after the match.

John Cena backstage was booed. Shawn Michaels approached him. Michaels said he doesn’t care about Cena any more and he will leave Cena lying next week. They then aired a weird package that implored you to worship the Great Khali. That would certainly make for a Khali Jolly Christmas. They announced that Great Khali will wrestle next week. Next thing you know they’ll be advertising upcoming Bobby Lashley promos.

Johnny Nitro beat Eugene very quickly with a neck breaker. They then introduced an Italian announcer, who said he had a big surprise: a diva fashion show~! The crowd reacted with thunderous apathy. The participants were Candice, Victoria, Mickie, Maria, Torrie, and Melina. Torrie won, which was absolutely ridiculous. Maria totally destroyed the field, and it wasn’t even close. I was outraged. Melina jumped Torrie after this.

Lance Cade beat Jeff Hardy. Matt Hardy and Trevor Murdoch were at ringside. Jeff totally dominated the match, which telegraphed the finish. Jeff hit the whisper in the wind, a somersault leg drop, jaw breaker and clotheslines. He was going for the swanton but was distracted by Murdoch. Matt took out Murdoch but that bought Cade time, and Cade got his knees up when Jeff went for the move. Cade then hit a lariat for the pin.

Chris Masters beat Super Crazy. Crazy kind of hit a drop kick and followed with a somersault plancha. He missed a moonsault, but went for a crucifix cradle. Masters dropped down with a Samoan drop and hit a back drop. Crazy hit a standing moonsault, but Masters hit a wheelbarrow slam for the pin. There were dueling chants in this match, although I have no idea why.

John Cena beat Randy Orton and Edge in a handicap match. Edge and Orton came out together and worked over Cena. Cena received a high volume of boos from the crowd, which chanted “Cena sucks” and “RKO” at various points. As Orton and Edge were working over Cena, Shawn Michaels came out and pulled down the ropes as Orton was bouncing off.

Cena then gave Edge the Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU, but Orton hit a drop kick and there was a ref bump. Edge went for the spear on Cena but hit Orton instead. Michaels then went for sweet chin music on Cena but hit Edge. Cena gave Michaels the FU and pinned Edge. The finish was good, albeit perhaps a little overbooked. This was not the right crowd for that finish, but there was no way to know that going in.
Final Thoughts:
This was an average edition of Raw. There was some good and some bad, and nothing particularly noteworthy in either direction. The introduction of Santino Morella frustrated me because they had the foundation of a good idea but executed it such that it wasn’t.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I'm watching this Four Horsemen DVD and it is driving me nuts. If I have to listen to Arn Anderson (or Michael Hayes or JJ Dillon for that matter) deliver one more kayfabe explanation about the Horsemen I'm going to throw my TV through the window. In 2007 it's beyond insulting. Every damn person buying the DVD knows it's a work and just wants to know the real story. Maybe in the 80s keeping kayfabe had some meaning. And by all means don't flaunt that it's a work on your own TV shows. But if you've got a few thousand people buying these niche DVDs, they don't want to hear you pretending the whole thing was a shoot any more than people renting a documentary on Al Pacino aren't going to want him to pretend that he's Michael Corleone and talk about why he did the things in the scripted movie that he did. There was a time when you were being respectful to the business with that stuff, but now you're just being a disrespectful jackass to the audience Arn. So can the bullshit or just shut up.

Best Movies of 2006

I’ve finally gotten around to seeing enough of the films that I thought might end up as one of my favorites of the year, so here is a belated best of 2006 list. The most notable films I haven’t seen are Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Children and Venus. I don’t see how anyone who isn’t a professional critic could get around to putting one of these together much sooner. I parsed it down to ten this year after rightfully being criticized for taking the easy way out with twenty last year.


This was an absolutely hilarious comedy that seemingly everyone has seen by now. I like humor that is heavy in irony, and Borat certainly delivers. You have got this idiot character that does and says all sorts of absolutely ridiculous things, yet the joke is actually on the American viewing audience rather than the character. It’s a crowd pleaser and yet also very subversive. I can’t wait for Sasha Baron Cohen’s next project.

Casino Royale

Perhaps a bit overrated, this was still a fun, stylish Bond film that featured great action and drama. I thought Pierce Brosnan was good as Bond, although I nonetheless agree with the consensus that Daniel Craig is better. There are some nice surprises, and some surprises that are a little on the predictable side. I thought the second act was the strongest part of the film.

Children of Men

I feel very strongly this deserved a best picture nomination. The Departed deserved to win, but to me this was its strongest competitor. I love the disturbing world Alfonso Cuaron created. Just minutes into the film a shocking development lets you know that this is not a world with happy endings. From there it’s a grim and mesmerizing ride. Clive Owen is fantastic as usual and this is just a great film.

The Departed

My favorite film of the year was not just a lifetime achievement award for Martin Scorsese. It’s still only been out for a short period of time, but I think this will go down amongst the best gangster films of all time. Considering I love the genre, I don’t say that lightly. To me, this may be remembered more fondly than Goodfellas, although I recognize that may be viewed as sacrilege by some. The cast is perfect. The script is tremendous and completely engrossing. The characters are nuanced and interesting. And it has one genuinely shocking and jarring development after another. So yeah, I really liked this one.

The Descent

I am a big fan of the horror genre, although unfortunately it feels like a good horror film comes along once every few years. That made this a pleasant summer discovery. It isn’t as ironic or funny as a lot of the genre’s films have been in recent years, but it makes up for it with atmosphere and brooding terror. It also made me literally shout out in a theater for the first time in maybe 10 years, although I don’t look proudly upon that moment. The grimmer original ending of the film is better than the American theatrical version.

Devil Wears Prada

I’m not exactly a fashion connoisseur. Okay, so I know pretty much nothing about the subject. Still, this was an absolutely hilarious summer comedy with a sharper humor than I expected. I particularly loved the sarcastic, mean-spirited co-worker character.

An Inconvenient Truth

It’s kind of amazing that with the issue being so important and clear that a movie had as much influence as it did in turning the tide on the subject. But that’s a testament to how well made, direct and compelling the film was. I love documentaries, and this was a really good one.

Inside Man

This is another movie that deserved more credit than it received. Perhaps because it came earlier in the year it didn’t get the recognition it deserved at the end of the year. When Spike Lee is on he is easily one of my favorite directors, and he was most definitely on in this movie. The superb cast keeps you guessing and makes this an ideal action movie with a brain.

Pan’s Labyrinth

This perhaps more than any other movie this year asks for multiple viewings. It’s a really compelling fantasy movie with a sad and captivating mood. I’m still not sure exactly what everything is supposed to represent after three viewings, but in this case that’s a good thing. Nobody likes to be beat over the head with a really overt message. This also has one of the more poignant endings of any of these films.

Stranger than Fiction

I only just recently realized this wasn’t a Charlie Kaufman film. That’s not a knock, because I thought it was better than Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and only slightly worse than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It completely has the postmodern vibe of those films, and is a little more straightforward with some of its jokes. Will Ferrell is funny without going overboard, and you care about the character in spite of a premise that kind of undermines that sort of identification.

A few that missed the cut: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (fun concert film with great music and humor), Hard Candy (really smart little film with a twisted theme and strong execution from the extremely limited cast – perfect little B film), Infamous (it’s really a shame this came out after Capote, because I thought Capote was an overrated film where the main actor overwhelmed the narrative; Infamous on the other hand told an emotional story I didn’t really get from Capote and was a vastly superior film), Last King of Scotland (great performance by Forrest Whitaker and overall a very compelling story, particularly the first half of the movie), Rocky Balboa (cheesy and predictable, much like the series, but also a very fun and at times touching send-off for a great character), V for Vendetta (nice return to form for the Wachowskis after their disastrous follow-ups to the Matrix).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jackie Robinson Tribute

There is a story reporting that some MLB players are annoyed with other players wearing Jackie Robinson's number. The basic idea is that more people wearing it will "cheapen" it. This strikes me as just ridiculous. If there are more people that want to pay tribute to Robinson on one day, good. Who's to decide who gets that right? I think it's nice more players want to do that. And quite frankly the root of the issue to me seems totally egocentric. It's not about Robinson - it's about the players complaining. *They* want to be the focus rather than Robinson. Maybe the players interviewed (who all happen to be black) think it's an issue of the legacy of Robinson being African-American players and it should be just African-Americans wearing the number. That actually seems a more reasoned stand to me based on what Robinson meant to the sport. But if it's just an issue of only wanting a few people to wear the number because that will bring more focus to you (and that's what it seems like to me), I think that's a pretty pathetic stand.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 04/09/07 from Bridgeport, CT.

The Big News: Raw’s streak is over, after a dull, poorly booked retread of a show.

Conclusive Finishes: 3 of 5.

Show Analysis:

Shane McMahon came out to start the show. He said that the McMahon name typically garners respect but lately it has been met with laughter. He said that he will bring respect back to the name, and challenged Lashley. Lashley came out to a much better reaction than last week, and Shane challenged him to a title match. Umaga then came out, but Shane told Umaga to return to the back and slapped Armando. Lashley suggested he put up his title against Shane’s hair, and Shane accepted.

Mickie James and Candice Michelle defeated Melina and Victoria. The heels worked over Candice, with Melina delivering a suplex and body slam. Victoria missed a somersault leg drop and Mickie tagged in. Mickie gave Victoria a huracanrana and gave Melina the Charlie Thesz press. Candice hit a spinning heel kick on Melina and Mickie hit the leaping implant DDT on Victoria for the pin. I’m glad they are going back to a feud with women that can go in Mickie and Melina. Backstage, Mick Foley arrived with a kid from Make-A-Wish, who was made honorary GM for the night.

Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade defeated Ric Flair and Carlito to earn a tag title shot at Backlash. Carlito alluded to Flair telling him off, and said that while it pissed him off at first now he realizes it was a good thing. He said they would win their match and earn a title match at Backlash. Cade and Murdoch worked over Flair, mostly brawling and using punches. Flair hit some chops and tagged Carlito. Carlito used a back drop, drop kick, knee lift and clothesline. However, he missed the springboard elbow and Cade and Murdoch used the high low for the clean pin. Carlito was angry afterwards and left annoyed with Flair. Evidently WWE is progressing into full burial mode for Carlito.

Backstage, Coach wanted to say something to Shane, but Shane wasn’t having any of it. He wouldn’t let Coach get a word in and Coach just gave up and left. Elsewhere, Shawn Michaels said nice guys don’t finish first in WWE, and that’s where he wants to be. He said he needs to win his number one contender’s match against Randy Orton, and he wants it more than Orton. Orton came in and said Michaels already had his shot. Michaels threatened to kick Orton’s teeth down his throat.

Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton fought to a no contest. They started out slow with chain wrestling. Michaels’ eye was busted open. He went after Orton’s leg until he was sent into the post. Edge came to ringside, and Michaels almost won with a rollup while Orton was distracted. Orton worked over Michaels, but Michaels came back with a swinging neck breaker. At that time there was a ref bump. Michaels hit an inverted atomic drop and elbow off the top, but Edge distracted him as he went for sweet chin music.

Michaels and Orton went to the floor, where Orton hit the RKO and threw Michaels back into the ring. Orton yelled at Edge and they got into a confrontation that concluded with Edge spearing Orton and throwing him back in. The referee started to count both men out, but they got up at 9. Michaels hit sweet chin music, fell on top of Orton, and they did a double pin finish.

This was the most contrived and fake looking double pin ever, made worse by the fact Michaels was completely on top of Orton and Orton had no part of his body over Michaels. Thus it made absolutely no sense when one of the referees declared Orton the winner. The match itself was a real disappointment. They gave them a ton of time and they spent a while setting up a match, but just at the point the match was starting to build towards a climax they immediately went into the overbooked garbage finish. As the coup de gras, they played Edge’s music. Okay.

Randy Orton complained to Shane McMahon about the finish to the match backstage, but Shane said he had his own concerns. Mick Foley was backstage again with the kid from Make-a-Wish. Coach confronted the kid and said he makes the big decisions on Raw. The kid had an announcement, but was cut off by Edge and Coach.

Matt and Jeff Hardy defeated the World’s Greatest Tag Team. Haas and Benjamin worked over Jeff briefly, but he made the tag to Matt. Matt came in with a double bulldog and side effect. Matt hit the twist of fate and Jeff hit the swanton for the pin. I like Haas and Benjamin a lot, but it’s smart to put over the tag champs strong right after they won the belts. It helps to build the titles as significant.

They aired a hilarious advertisement for The Condemned. They tried to frame it as some sort of thought provoking and socially significant commentary on society. The comedic highlight was the director talking about how long it has taken for the theme of reality television going too far to arise, as if that theme hasn’t been explored a million times already. I mean, Running Man came out 20 years ago now.

The Cutting Edge featured Edge saying that Coach agreed he should be the number one contender. Orton and Michaels came out. Michaels said he is better than Edge and Orton, and wants a rematch with Cena at Backlash. Cena came out, knocked all three challengers, and said he would face any of them. Coach came out and made Cena vs. Orton and Edge in a handicap match with the person scoring the pin winning the title. He said that would be the final decision, but then Foley came out with the honorary GM. The kid made Cena vs. Orton vs. Edge vs. Michaels. This was booked to be a big face pop, but the crowd barely reacted to that announcement.

Lashley beat Shane McMahon via disqualification. Despite the fact they announced Shane’s hair would be on the line and he lost, and despite the fact they even had a barber’s chair out there, Shane didn’t lose his hair. They didn’t even bother to explain why the stipulation was being ignored. I didn’t know that hair only changed hands via pinfall or submission. This wouldn’t fly in Mexico.

Shane jumped Lashley with a spear, and sent Lashley into the post. He hit a baseball slide, and sent Lashley into the steps. He worked over Lashley with punches. Lashley retaliated with an overhead belly to belly, clothesline, back body drop, and fall away slam. All of that was really sloppy, by the way. Shane then punched the referee for the DQ. Umaga, Vince and Armando then came down and beat Lashley into the ground. Shane hit Lashley in the head with a chair, and Lashley bled. Vince announced Lashley vs. Umaga, Shane and Vince for the title at Backlash. You could hear people chanting “boring” at the end of this, which is not exactly the reaction you want to your “main event feud.”

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t like this show at all. It centered around two major angles, but both angles sucked big time. They didn’t make sense. They didn’t deliver what they promised. They felt contrived and phony. And they spent a whole lot of time teasing something new would happen only to end up exactly where they started. The top feuds on Raw are stale and Lashley is way too bland to build around as a top face. Hopefully it’s just a case of wanting to draw things out a little bit further into Backlash, and they have some solid ideas of where they are going after that point.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Rankings

Grrr. I posted my latest rankings here and then wrote up detailed thoughts on Pride and UFC this weekend, and just discovered that for whatever reason they disappeared. Stupid blogger. Anyway, here's try two. As far as thoughts on the evening, in short: I like Josh Koscheck even if others don't. To me, him acting like a jerk towards people who deserve it (Leben on TUF, Sanchez in general) is perfectly fine. It's not like he's disrespecting GSP. The celebration was great because he was just rubbing it in and I loved Sanchez' reaction. Wasn't that discouraged by GSP's loss even though he's one of my favorites because he'll definitely be back and Serra's a good fighter and cool dude. Pride was depressing. Not airing the 2 fights angered me. Seeing Sokoudjou win again was a hell of a surprise and I don't care for Arona's style much so I enjoyed that. Seeing Saku back was cool. It's really too bad that era is over.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wizards Woes

So the Wizards now lost Gilbert Arenas, to go along with the loss of Caron Butler. How utterly depressing. It went from talk of the Wizards finally making a breakthrough in the playoffs to wondering if they'll even win a game in the first round. Hopefully they'll come back stronger next year and a real key is going to be the development of Andray Blatche to develop an inside presence. But this year looks like it's toast. Oh well. There are still the Nationals...and Capitals....and don't forget Danny Snyder's Redskins.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 04/02/07 from Dayton, OH.

The Big News: WWE followed up WrestleMania with a solid Raw that continued their recent streak. Vince McMahon was very agitated about losing his hair, while the challengers are lining up for John Cena.

Conclusive Finishes: 5 of 5.

Show Analysis:

John Cena came out to start the show. He received a passionate mixed reaction, and he’s back to the point where he gets a substantial quantity of boos each week. He said the champ is here, which immediately brought out Shawn Michaels. Michaels said that this is usually the point where he comes out and says that he made history with his opponent. He got in subtle references to past opponents Bret Hart (“screw jobs”), Mick Foley (“mind games”) and Hulk Hogan (“brother”).

Michaels said that Cena won last night, and he doesn’t like it. He added that he won’t lie to himself and say his opponent was the better man. He said Cena did win but that Cena is not the better man. Cena said that sounded like a challenge and that he would take on Michaels any time. Michaels suggested right then, but Coach came out. Coach said there would be no WWE title match, and instead Michaels and Cena would defend their tag titles in a 20 man 10 team battle royal.

This was a really odd promo by Michaels. I think the underlying idea was that Michaels is always carrying opponents to classic matches, but he doesn’t feel like giving Cena credit because everyone knows Michaels is the better worker. Seriously. He didn’t spell this out, but that’s absolutely how the promo was structured. On the plus side, it was subtle enough that I don’t think most people will get it to where it will hurt. I wouldn’t continue forward with this theme because it buries Cena.

Shawn Michaels and John Cena won a tag team battle royal over Fit Finlay and King Booker, Rob Van Dam and Sabu, Cryme Tyme, Highlanders, Kenny Dykstra and Chris Masters, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Eugene (in an odd bit of storyline discontinuity given they were just feuding before Eugene turned back face for no reason), Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms, Elijah Burke and Matt Striker, and Deuce and Domino.

The rules were that if one member of the team was thrown over the top rope, both members were eliminated. Dykstra went out, followed by JTG and Eugene. Cena dumped both Deuce and Domino. Finlay eliminated Striker and Booker pushed RVD off the top to the floor. That left Booker and Finlay with Cena and Michaels. Michaels gave Finlay sweet chin music to eliminate him.

Coach came out and said that there would be a second 10 team battle royal for the tag titles. Matt and Jeff Hardy won the second match over Michaels and Cena, Guerrero and Helms, Paul London and Brian Kendrick, Dave Taylor and William Regal, Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Marcus Cor Von and Kevin Thorn, Johnny Nitro and the Miz, and Viscera and Val Venis.

Venis was out first, followed by Regal. Jerry Lawler referred to Regal as Steve (his name pre-WWF). Ross corrected him, but then referred to his partner as William Taylor. Dreamer and Miz were eliminated next, at which point Michaels grabbed Cena from behind and threw him over the top rope. That cost them the tag titles, and Michaels indicated he just wants the WWE title. If they were going to do this they should have done it at the end of the match for dramatic effect rather than randomly in the middle. Following the elimination of the champs, it came down to the Hardyz and Cade/Murdoch. Hardyz did stereo leg drops off the ropes and eliminated Cade and Murdoch to win.

Neither of these battle royals was very good, as there were few stories within the matches and they consisted mostly of simple eliminations. However, they did tell a fun story and constituted an interesting way to start the show. Moreover, battle royals work better than gauntlet and handicap matches in these circumstances. They tell the story of the star battling against all odds without burying the opponents.

Shawn Michaels backstage said that the tag titles were muddying waters. Randy Orton confronted Michaels. He said Michaels got his title shot, and Cena is giving him another one because he knows that he can beat Michaels but not Orton. Michaels said that he is better than Orton. They then did a backstage vignette where your view was supposedly Vince McMahon’s as he wandered around backstage. This allowed them to show people laughing at Vince without giving a view of him yet. It was a little goofy.

Vince McMahon came out wearing a hat. He said last night will be a date that lives in infamy. He blamed Steve Austin for the injustice. He said that he would rewrite history, and had Lillian Garcia announce him as the winner last night. He then announced that Lashley would defend his title against Umaga. Vince said people wouldn’t get to see Vince bald, because he had his hat surgically cemented to his head.

Lashley came out and pulled off Vince’s hat. Vince scurried to cover his head. He tried using a towel, Lawler’s crown, and J.R.’s hat, but Lashley kept pulling them off. Vince hid under the ring apron but Lashley pulled him out. Eventually he hid under Lillian’s skirt, so Lashley pulled off the skirt. This was absolutely hilarious. Five star comedy. Vince was fantastic.

Ric Flair and Carlito beat Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. The heels worked over Carlito, who eventually tagged in Flair. Flair came in with chops but Benjamin turned the tide with a back body drop. Carlito made the save with a chop block to Haas. Flair used another chop block and applied the figure four to Haas for the submission. I’m glad they are drawing out the Flair and Carlito issue so it will mean something when the story plays itself out.

Melina came out and said that she proved Ashley is just another pretty face. She had a special photo op arranged, but wouldn’t you know it was interrupted. Mickie came out and attacked Melina. I’m glad they are back to a women’s title program that could hypothetically produce decent matches. They announced that next week Mick Foley will present a special wish for Make a Wish on Raw. Angle alert, and I don’t mean Kurt. Or even Eric.

Great Khali beat Super Crazy with the chop and tree slam. Backstage, Armando told Vince to take it easy. Vince went nuts again, and made Umaga and Armando vs. Lashley in a handicap. He warned Armando not to fail him. This made little sense, given Vince supposedly wanted to get revenge on Lashley very badly and putting Armando in the match would make that much less likely. Matt and Jeff Hardy were interviewed, and talked about how happy they were to win the titles. This was a nice, short bit to put over the significance of the belts.

Edge came out and said that a lesser man wouldn’t be there after the hell he went through the previous night. He said he was confused upon hearing that Michaels and Orton want title shots and Cena is still champ. Edge said he has beaten up and outsmarted all of them. Edge said he is the best and he will be the next WWE champion. This was an effective serious promo.

Lashley defeated Umaga and Armando. Jim Ross’s voice was in really bad shape the entire night, and he threw in the towel this final segment and Jerry Lawler did the commentary on his own. This match was mostly Umaga working over Lashley with Armando watching. Umaga gave him the Samoan drop and running butt drop. He went for the Samoan spike but had it blocked. Lashley gave him the spear. Umaga went for an avalanche but accidentally landed on Armando. Lashley gave Armando the running power slam for the pin. There was very little crowd reaction to this match, which is not a good sign for Lashley in the midst of the biggest push of his career.

Final Thoughts:

WWE still seems focused coming out of WrestleMania, and this was an even better show than many recent weeks. It didn’t feature much in the way of good wrestling, but the booking was strong with some great comedy and freshening up of programs.