Monday, July 30, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 07/30/07 from Tucson, AZ.

The Big News: Randy Orton cost John Cena a match against Carlito.

Conclusive Finishes: 6 of 8.

Show Analysis:

I want to thank Steve Khan for filling in last week.

John Cena came out to start the show. He cut a cutesy promo about how he will retain his title against Randy Orton like he always does. Carlito came out and said they would be bringing back Carlito’s Cabana. He pointed out that he beat Cena for the United States title. Cena dismissed Carlito by making jokes about how long ago that was. Mr. Kennedy then came out, and childishly bickered with Carlito over who deserves a title shot more.

Cena challenged each man to prove himself, and suggested Kennedy vs. Lashley and Carlito vs. Cena. This segment was way too cute and joke oriented. It’s an ineffective way to build a title match, and the humor wasn’t even funny. It had that artificial WWE writing team humor where the segment feels fake and the humor totally forced.

Melina, Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall defeated Maria, Mickie James and Candice Michelle. The women looked really motivated, although the match was on the sloppy side. The heels worked over Candice briefly, but Candice hit a side Russian leg sweep and made the tag to Maria.

Maria hit some clotheslines and a bulldog on Melina. Candice was sent to the outside and landed on Santino. I think they were telling the story that he was temporarily infatuated with her, but the camera wasn’t on this and the announcers didn’t sell that at all. With Santino distracted, Melina and Jillian hit a double team face buster on Maria for the pin.

After a commercial break, Santino was complaining in the ring. He said he was disgusted by the officiating, and blamed the referee for missing the double team. The crowd treated this as total comedy. Umaga came down to the ring, at which point Santino said he has no problem with Umaga and asked the referee to please stop him. The referee instead called for the bell. Umaga quickly destroyed Santino again with a running butt drop and Samoan spike. This was an amusing segment.

King Booker backstage said that Jerome’s reign as king is over, and that HHH can watch it on TV. Elsewhere, Randy Orton said that nobody wants to face him, and he will win the title at SummerSlam like he did in 2004 (from Chris Benoit). Sgt. Slaughter made a cameo and challenged Orton to a match.

Cody Rhodes defeated Daivari with a clothesline, crossbody, bulldog and DDT. Prior to the match, Cody Rhodes spoke with Coach. Coach said he didn’t want to see Cody hurt like Dusty. As such, he said that if Cody laid a finger on Randy Orton, he would no longer have a career on Raw. He added that if Cody won this match, he would get to stay on Raw but if he lost he would be gone.

Mr. Kennedy pinned Bobby Lashley. Lashley hit a vertical suplex early, but Kennedy took over by kicking Lashley’s shoulder into the ring steps. The spot looked good, and Kennedy went after the shoulder and arm for the rest of the match. Lashley tried to fight back with clotheslines and went for the spear, but he ran into a knee. Kennedy then scored the pin. This match told a simple but effective story, and it was gutsy of them to put over Kennedy so cleanly. It’s also a positive for Lashley to show vulnerability in an effort to get him over more as a face.

Jerry Lawler beat King Booker via DQ. The crowd seemed really into this. Booker hit some forearms, and Lawler retaliated with punches. Lawler hit an elbow drop, but Booker got his foot on the ropes. Booker hit a thrust kick, and then kept punching Lawler in the corner. Eventually he was disqualified, which was a pretty lame finish but perfectly acceptable when done rarely to set up a future match where the issue will be settled. Lawler attacked Booker again after the match.

Cryme Tyme beat John Mason and Brandon Dentson with the G9. After the match, Cryme Tyme sold off the loser’s boots for $40. That was a cool idea, but it went on for a little too long.

Randy Orton beat Sgt. Slaughter. Orton spent much of the match applying a headlock. It was quite the headlock. Eventually it was broken, and Slaughter used the cobra clutch. Orton got to the ropes, hit the RKO, and scored the pin. He kicked Slaughter in the head after the match for good measure and Slaughter was carried out on a stretcher.

Carlito beat John Cena. Cena dominated much of the match. He hit some shoulder blocks and the Cena slam. He was going for the five knuckle shuffle when Orton attempted to interfere. I say attempt because it didn’t quite work. But in any event, Carlito hit the back stabber from behind for the pin. After the match Carlito spit apple in Cena’s face.

Final Thoughts:

This was a pretty straight forward. I’m glad that the decline in ratings hasn’t resulted in panic and desperation booking.

Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame ceremony was this weekend, and some of my friends from back home in DC traveled up to attend since Cal Ripken was going to be inducted. And we got to talking about future inductions, which had me looking at the list of eligible guys for each year. Assume I’m not even considering them for the Hall and just talking about their careers unless I expressly say otherwise.


Brady Anderson – I hear he’s still got sideburns, which is tremendous. He was a solid player. I always enjoyed watching him for the Orioles. He of course is best known for his bizarre one year 50 HR performance, which combined with his tremendous physique at that time raised a lot of suspicions.

Andy Benes – He had a few good years, but not much consistency at a high level.

Delino DeShields – I have fond memories of Delino when he came up with the Expos. He was a fun player to watch with his speed and hustle. I also remember his Upper Deck rookie card in 1990 well, although I’m not sure why.

Shawon Dunston – First overall pick of the 1982 draft. That didn’t turn out too well.

Chuck Finley - Hot wife. Crazy, but hot. Actually a pretty good pitcher during a period of inflated offense.

Travis Fryman – Very reliable player. He’s the sort of solid, unspectacular guy with limited upside that I never draft on my fantasy teams.

David Justice – When I first became a baseball fan, David Justice was the man. I thought of him as a future Hall of Fame type for sure. Unfortunately that didn’t come together. Still, he had a nice career. I think he’s a guy that deserves to remain on the ballot for a couple years, although obviously he’s never coming close to being elected.

Chuck Knoblauch – Think he regrets his trade demand from the Twins? The pressure of the Yankees killed his career. He’s not even 40 yet, and he had as good of, if not a better, start to his career than Craig Biggio.

Mike Morgan – Generic name, generic career. Wonder if he gets a sympathy vote from someone.

Robb Nen – Wow, he’s already eligible? Short career, but when he was on he was a great pitcher.

Tim Raines – “Rock” had a solid career. Oodles of stolen bases, and a good hitter with a lot of hits, too. He’s the best candidate from the 2008 class, but I don’t see him getting in. Certainly not first ballot.

Greg Swindell – Can you believe he pitched 17 years? He had one really strong year in 1988 but mostly was just around.

Randy Velarde – Who’d he pay to get on the ballot?

Mark Wohlers – See “Randy Velarde.”


Steve Avery – He’ll ultimately be remembered as the answer to a trivia question – the third member of the Braves’ young trio of Avery, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Jay Bell – Solid major leaguer. Good fielder, good hitter. Mostly played out of the spotlight, though.

John Burkett – I’ve blocked out most of his career, as I still remember him almost exclusively as a Giant (although I recall him in a Red Sox and Ranger cap as well).

David Cone – I liked David Cone a lot. He was even cool with me when he was with the Yankees, which was quite the feat. I remember being in awe of him having a 20-3 record and 2.22 ERA in 1988, which just looked absolutely ridiculous as far as numbers go (and is for that matter). He managed to get in at least one really strong season for every team he played for. He was a very good pitcher during an era where it was hard for pitchers, and absolutely deserves Hall consideration even if he isn’t going to make it.

Mike Bordick – He was the guy the Orioles signed to move Cal Ripken permanently to third base. It turned out okay, but Bordick was nothing special. I’ll always remember Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell shilling for Bordick, and I could never figure out why.

Ron Gant – Had his peak with the Braves, just like David Justice. But for whatever reason, he never seemed like as big of a deal.

Mark Grace – Great name, great player. I don’t think he’s a Hall of Fame level guy, but I’d certainly be willing to entertain the notion. Very good defense and contact hitting, but ultimately that isn’t what people in this era want out of a first baseman.

Rickey Henderson – Finally a yes. Clearly he’s a Hall of Famer. First ballot. Greatest leadoff man of all time.

Denny Neagle – His contract with Colorado was a mistake of staggering proportions.

Dean Palmer – I didn’t realize until looking at his stats how many times he hit close to or over 30 homers and close to or over 100 RBI. Speaks to the era, because he totally was under the radar with that.

Dan Plesac – An average middle reliever. He wouldn’t be on the ballot if he didn’t have saves at the beginning of his career, and I don’t much care about saves anyway.

Greg Vaughn – He had a combined 95 home runs and 237 RBI from 1998-1999 and finished with 355 home runs. Again, this was a crazy era for power hitting.

Mo Vaughn – It’s too bad Mo Vaughn doesn’t end up in the Hall of Fame. He was a really great hitter, nice guy, and unlike most of the guys on the list, he was really one of the game’s elite players for a few years there. But his career was cut short.

Matt Williams – Very good hitter. He had a nice run with the Giants, and then a resurgence with the D-Backs. He won’t get in though.

Mike Williams – The first guy who I couldn’t immediately identify. Not Mitch Williams, right? And not Mike Williams the wide receiver? Oh yeah, Mike Williams the mediocre reliever for the Phillies. God bless the guy, but he really shouldn’t be on the ballot.

2010:Roberto Alomar – Yes. Beautiful hitter, beautiful fielder, nearly 3000 hits. Yes, his career rapidly fell apart after the trade to the Mets. But that doesn’t diminish his earlier career. He belongs in the Hall.

Kevin Appier – I wonder if he would have been more highly regarded if he didn’t play in KC most of his career.

Rod Beck – R.I.P.

Ellis Burks – I give him credit for resilience. He looked like a guy seriously on the decline with the Red Sox, but then he revitalized his career with the Rockies. Then again it looked like he was done, and he came back with the Giants and Red Sox. He feels like a guy that didn’t live up to his potential but his stats are respectable.

Andres Galaragga – Another guy with unexpectedly strong stats, which just emphasizes how hard it’s going to be to evaluate hitters in this generation. I always liked the Big Cat. Really good seasons for the Expos, Braves and Rockies.

Pat Hentgen – His career started off so well that I always expected him to regain that success, but he never did.

Mike Jackson – I remember his name a lot better than his career.

Eric Karros – Played 12 straight seasons with the Dodgers, which is impressive in the current era. Good first baseman, but nothing special.

Barry Larkin – 12 time all star, 9 silver sluggers, 3 gold gloves and an MVP. He’s going to get Hall support for sure. He’s close, but I’m not sure he gets in. He just doesn’t feel quite special enough to me. Certainly the best shortstop in the NL during that period, though.

Edgar Martinez – Excellent professional hitter. I expect him to get a small amount of support, but it will never grow. Too many excellent hitters to consider and he was mostly a DH.

Fred McGriff – Another tough call. Almost 500 home runs and 2,500 hits. He’d probably have a better shot if he had one season that really stood out.

Shane Reynolds – I had totally forgotten he played his last two seasons in uniforms other than the Astros uniform. Competent third starter type.

Robin Ventura – I think he should get in, just so they can put him getting popped by Nolan Ryan on his plaque.

Todd Zeile – He played for a whopping 11 different teams.


Wilson Alvarez – I remember him more for the disastrous contract he signed with the D-Rays than anything. Boy, what a cursed franchise.

Carlos Baerga – Great name, and great career peak. Too bad it didn’t last very long.

Jeff Bagwell – I lean yes. If he could have played a few more years in the bigs he’d likely be an easy choice. But he was a feared slugger for pretty much his entire career, and one of the top players in the majors.

Bret Boone – I thought he would fall off after his freaky good year in 2001, but he maintained it a few more years after that.

Kevin Brown – I might get laughed at for this, but I would seriously consider him. Not just as in he should be looked at, but as in I think he might belong in. He doesn’t have the wins that most hall of famers do, but this is a guy with a 3.28 career ERA in a hitter’s era. Top six for Cy Young 5 times. Top 2 for ERA 4 times. He was a really good pitcher.

John Franco – I think of his career as ending around 1997, so it’s amazing he kept going for so long. Good pitcher. Won’t go to the hall of fame, but a guy you want in your bullpen.

Juan Gonzalez – He sure started like a hall of famer. Then it all fell apart. He doesn’t get in.

Marquis Grissom – He was just a guy that was around.

Mike Hampton – He’s not a hall of famer, but he’s got something more valuable: lots and lots of money.

Al Leiter – He had a solid career. Doesn’t really stand out.

Tino Martinez – Valuable part of the best 90s Yankees teams and a solid major league career.

Raul Mondesi – I always felt like he had tremendous talent but could never put it all together. He ultimately didn’t have a very noteworthy career.

Hideo Nomo – Nomo, on the other hand, had a very noteworthy career. He was something really special when he debuted, both in terms of his actual performance and in terms of the significance it took on. He was probably the most important player in the importation of top Japanese talent, and a great pitcher for the Dodgers before other teams started to figure out how to hit him.

John Olerud – Olerud was a memorable figure with the helmet on the field, the .363 season, and jumping straight to the majors. Nice player for sure.

Rafael Palmeiro – Even in the 90s, 3,000 hits and 500 homers gets you in. And I’m not disqualifying anyone for steroids based on my assumption that anyone could be using during this period and most probably were.

Troy Percival – Very good closer for the Angels.

Benito Santiago – He had a very interesting career. He was a noteworthy player for the Padres, then seemingly vanished prior to a resurgence with the Giants.

Ugueth Urbina – He won’t be making the hall of fame, and he wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony anyway.

Larry Walker – He benefited from Coors Field, but he was very good for the Expos too. He also was a solid fielder. He had a very nice career.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Christ Almighty....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Took the Bar

So I took the California bar exam Tuesday through Thursday. Not a fun experience, but I thought it went fine. It really is an endurance test, because it's hard to keep your focus and hard drive through three days of essays, performance tests and multiple choice. Most bars are only 2 days. But the exam itself wasn't that difficult as far as the material. The essays were relatively straight forward applications of the law and concepts. The multiple choice was harder, but not ungodly bad. And the performance exams weren't too tricky as far as concepts. So now I wait until November and see how I did. Hopefully I passed and I can get going. I'm really not inclined to go through that again.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sherk and Franca Test Positive for Steroids

Obviously, UFC needs to put a greater focus on going after steroid use in their company, because it's really becoming a problem on a number of levels: 1) PR 2) All these fighters being suspended and disruping matchmaking 3) Fairness concerns 4) Health. It's going to be tough though, because no matter what you say these fighters are going to want every advantage they can get. I think the solution may just have to be stiffer penalties so people really think twice about putting artificial substances in their bodies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fight Network Radio

I'll be a guest with Mauro Ranallo on Fight Network Thursday at 3PM Eastern/12PM Pacific. You can check it out here.

Toxicology In

-Nancy had 3 drugs in her system: Moriset, Hydromorphone, Xanax. All at therapeutic level. Not at toxic level. .184 blood alcohol level. Decomposition of body makes it hard to say if this was caused by drinking or it had occurred after he died.

-Daniel had Xanax, at a relatively high level. Not a drug you would usually give to a child. Makes them think he was sedated prior to his murder.

-Chris had Xanax within therapeutic range. Only steroid he had in his blood was testosterone, which indicated he had been using testosterone shortly before he died. No other steroids in his urine. His epitestosterone/testosterone ratio was 59 (WWE testing makes over a 10 an automatic failure).

-No GHB in any of the three.

-Doctor doesn't believe these findings reflect anything about the crime.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 07/16/07 from Corpus Christi, TX.

The Big News: Raw was again focused on the Great American Bash, and we got some more solid build on that front.

Conclusive Finishes: 5 of 6.

Show Analysis:

Triple H’s music played to start the show, but King Booker came out instead. He said that he’s the only king in the WWE. He approached Jerry Lawler and made the same claim. He demanded Lawler kiss his finger. Lawler refused, so they got into a brawl. This was a good start to the show. Lawler is always effective in this role.

They aired a series of short packages throughout the show, with various wrestlers weighing in on the Lashley-Cena match this Sunday. It felt very similar to UFC build, and was good stuff. I also like that they didn’t make sure that exactly half the wrestlers pick Lashley and exactly half pick Cena, because that would have felt contrived. Ric Flair, Edge, Steve Austin and JBL picked John Cena. Batista and Mick Foley picked Lashley.

Jeff Hardy won a 4 way match to earn an Intercontinental Title shot Sunday over Santino Marella, Shelton Benjamin and William Regal. Regal eliminated Santino with a knee very quickly. The heels worked over Jeff, who eventually made the comeback. He hit the twist of fate on Regal for the pin. Benjamin hit a blockbuster on Jeff off the top, but only got a two. Jeff executed a pescado on both Benjamin and Haas, but missed the swanton. He rolled up Benjamin shortly thereafter for the win. This was a good match that picked up at the end.

This match also started the trend of the night, which was the announcers constantly talking about how much fun the fans were having and how the wrestlers were putting smiles on fans’ faces. It wasn’t even subtle the first time they did it, and yet they kept repeating themselves over and over again. It was so superficial and obvious, and once again made the company look desperate when it comes to external criticism of the industry.

Randy Orton backstage vowed to end Cody Rhodes’ career before it starts. Santino spoke with Maria, and was again discouraged. He said he feels like a fraud and wants to quit, but then he spends time with Maria. He invited her to spend the night with him again. It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for young Santino when he gets to spend the night with Maria.

Snitsky defeated Val Venis in a short match with a pump handle slam. Cody Rhodes said he plans on making a good first impression. Jerry Lawler in the ring then explained what a bullrope match is. They had a bullrope, and he explained how the wrestlers are tied together and that the bell could be used as a weapon. Lawler noted that it is Dusty’s specialty. I think this was done just to mock TNA.

Randy Orton beat Cody Rhodes. Orton hit a clothesline, punches, the Garvin stomp, a power slam, a European uppercut, a back breaker and the RKO for the pin. He dominated basically the entire match with Cody only getting a few brief comebacks including a dropkick off the top. This was so stupid. I thought the whole point of the Dusty-Orton program was to set up the big debut of Cody to avenge his father. Instead, they debut this guy who has the potential to be a big star with no advance notice in a throwaway match and job him out.

I just don’t get why WWE has so much trouble grasping that you never have a second chance to make a first impression. This is a company that for twenty years was phenomenal about introducing you to characters over a long period of time, giving them a series of wins, and setting them up for success. Yet in the past few years they bring up wrestlers way before they are ready, have them losing way too quickly, and dig themselves in a serious hole as far as making the crowd accept these guys as stars.

Melina and Beth Phoenix defeated Candice and Mickie James. This was a quick and inconsequential match. Melina pinned Mickie with her guillotine leg drop move. William Regal approached Hacksaw Jim Duggan backstage. Regal wanted Duggan’s 2x4, supposedly to have it bronzed. Duggan wouldn’t give it to him, and so they got into a shouting match with a bunch of double entendres. This was utterly bizarre, but absolutely hilarious. Regal was great here.

Sandman beat Carlito via DQ. Sandman was going up for the Rolling Rock when William Regal interfered. Jim Duggan made the save. Yes indeed, it is now time for a Duggan and Sandman vs. Carlito and Regal feud. That is pretty much the zaniest feud ever.

Mr. Kennedy beat Super Crazy. Crazy hit a pair of moonsaults, but was caught when he went for the third. Kennedy then used a reverse suplex off the top for the pin. WWE I understand is currently taking suggestions for the name of the move, with the Clean Living and the All Natural Solution leading the way. They then aired a video package saying that HHH will come back better than ever.

The show concluded with a face off between John Cena and Bobby Lashley. Cena parodied being hurt and scared, and said that he never learned to read. His delivery was moderately funny, but what made it funnier was Lashley staring blankly forward as this was going on. Cena said he never backs down and will give his best at the Bash. Lashley said that Cena is the hype man and can promote the match, while he’ll just be ready to fight. Cena said he will put Lashley to the test at the Bash.

This was as effective as one could hope given Lashley’s limitations. This segment reminded me of Rob Van Dam. RVD is a guy who has undeniable charisma. He was always very over with the crowd, even when he was buried. He’s certainly a much better wrestler than Lashley. Yet, WWE never gave him the chance to succeed as a top star because he couldn’t cut a good enough promo. And here we have Lashley, who has none of RVD’s strengths and is just as bad if not worse on the mic. This point has been made before, but it’s so glaring I have trouble letting it go. It is almost surreal that in the current climate they are pushing this guy so hard.

Final Thoughts:

There’s not much else to add.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I assume this probably won't excite many people as much as me, but Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet is finally coming to DVD. This is to me the best ever adaptation of a Shakespeare play to the screen, and has been long overdue for DVD. It was right up there with the Wonder Years as the shows I've been waiting for the most on DVD but that have never been released. Well it's finally coming.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 07/09/07 from Lafayette, LA.

The Big News: Great American Bash is coming up and this show was focused on getting you to care about the matches on that show.

Conclusive Finishes: 6 of 8. This show was just about ideal as far as emphasizing match results. The winners won very emphatically in just about every match, telling the fans that they are to be taken seriously. Plus, the two matches that had unclean finishes were obvious disqualifications, where nothing was resolved. That is much more preferable than those finishes where someone interferes or distracts and there is a screwy pinfall that makes pins seem inconsequential in general.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Lashley beating King Booker via disqualification. The crowd was dead for this match, which isn’t a good sign. It was a total squash until the finish. Lashley destroyed Booker with a power slam, body slam and the dominator slam. Booker kicked out. Booker followed with a delayed vertical suplex, at which point Mr. Kennedy ran in for the DQ. Given the timing of the segment, I think Kennedy might have missed his cue to break up the pin after the dominator.

The heels beat down Lashley until Coach came out. He said that Kennedy and Booker would wrestle Lashley and a partner of his choosing in the main event. Coach and William Regal had a discussion backstage. Coach thanked Regal for helping him out last week. Regal gave Coach a couple backhanded compliments, and Coach responded by making Regal vs. Sandman.

Umaga beat Santino Marella. This was another basic squash, only without the run-in finish. Umaga just basically beat Marella down for most of the match. He won with a thrust kick, running butt drop and Samoan spike. Maria tended to Santino after the match. Backstage shortly thereafter, Maria consoled Santino and suggested they go out. Santino didn’t want to go out because people would make fun of him, so he suggested she come back to his hotel room.

Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch beat the Highlanders in another match that was pretty close to a squash. The rednecks worked over Rory, who eventually made the tag to Robbie. Robbie was on the offensive only briefly, before he got caught with the high low for the win. This was followed by Snitsky beating Super Crazy in another squash with the pump handle slam. WWE is indeed biased to entertainers, and Gene Snitsky is entertainment.

Dusty Rhodes came out and called out Randy Orton for disrespecting him. They got into an argument, and Orton challenged Dusty at his own reaction. I thought for a minute they were setting up a bunkhouse stampede, but he meant the Great American Bash. Dusty said he would wrestle Orton in a Texas bullrope match, and Orton accepted. Orton said that Cody should bring a broom to sweep up what’s left of Dusty after the match. Cody came down to the ring and slapped Orton in response.

Paul London beat Shelton Benjamin. Earlier in the show, Charlie Haas spoke with Benjamin backstage. Haas noted it was Benjamin’s birthday, but made fun of him for kissing Booker’s hand. Benjamin said if he lost his match, he would kiss Haas on the lips. London of course would then beat Benjamin in a short match following a huracanrana and a rollup. They went backstage a segment later, and Haas said that Benjamin wouldn’t have to kiss him on the lips but would have to kiss his hand. Benjamin was furious, but Haas said he was only joking and they hugged. Mr. Kennedy jumped Super Crazy backstage for what happened last week.

Candice Michelle and Mickie James beat Jillian Hall and the returning Beth Phoenix. Prior to the match, Melina said she would invoke her rematch clause at the Great American Bash. They went back to the unresolved storyline of Mickie and Beth having some sort of past. The heels briefly worked over Mickie, who tagged Candice. Candice hit a side Russian leg sweep on Jillian, but Jillian retaliated with a side slam. Candice then utilized a backslide for the pin. All three heels jumped Candice after the match.

William Regal beat Sandman via DQ. The crowd was really into Sandman, which was funny because it was a pretty dead crowd in general. Sandman quickly ended up caning Carlito and Regal for the disqualification. They then aired a really nice and effective video package on Lashley, who still needs charisma enhancement surgery. John Cena appeared on video from the Larry King Show. They completely no sold why Cena was there. Cena said he will address Lashley next week.

Jeff Hardy and Bobby Lashley beat Mr. Kennedy and King Booker. The heels worked over Hardy briefly. Lashley tagged in and threw Kennedy around. He won with the torture rack drop and spear. They put over Lashley huge here, and this is exactly the way to build up a title challenger even if I have my reservations with the choice as expressed last week.

Final Thoughts:

I really liked this show. It reminded me of wrestling when I was a kid. You had basic matches, very little nonsense, and the show was focused on getting you excited about upcoming pay-per-view matches. I’m not sure you can do such a basic show every week because you need some sizzle, but if this is the standard you’ll get no complaints from me.

The one suggestion that I would have for this sort of show is to add post-match interviews. That allows the wrestlers to talk about how good they are, explain who they have a problem with, and articulate their long term goals. I don’t mean a scripted WWE promo – I mean an extemporaneous 30 seconds to a minute with an interviewer where the wrestler just cuts a basic promo building a match. I think that short little hard sell after the match was frequently the most important part of the build, and would be a valuable addition to this kind of show.

Jericho on Larry King

Observer has a poll up right now on who has came across the best in media coverage of the Benoit situation. Chris Jericho is running away with it, although I vehemently disagree with that one after his performance on Larry King tonight. Jericho has thus far come across as articulate and level headed, and he shot down some of the theories that deserved to be shot down. But tonight he just came across as a shameless shill, plain and simple. He defended WWE on absolutely every point, even the notion that WWE doesn't encourage people to have abnormal physiques. He clearly knows better, as he himself would have ended up a much bigger star in the business were it not for the physique obsession. I'd expect that sort of thing from the WWE employees, and guys that retired a number of years ago aren't necessarily aware of what's going on in 2007. But Jericho follows the business, and for him to pretend as if the business doesn't have any problems (almost certainly because he wants to stay on good terms for his return) is counterproductive and ridiculous. As far as the best, Konnan hands down. The guy's one of the brightest minds in all of professional wrestling - sharp, no bullshit, articulate and insightful. Give me him over Jericho any day of the week.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Media Benoit Coverage in a Nutshell

This clip of Kevin Nash on Fox News to me epitomized the media coverage we've seen thus far perfectly. Really good job by Nash in making reasoned points and trying to get at the right answers without speculating or BSing. Meanwhile you've got a smarmy, condescending talking head talking completely out of her ass and disrespecting Nash while he's giving legitimate answers that I don't doubt for a second are honest. All this because he isn't providing the easy, simplistic answers she wants.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Raw Report

Date: 07/02/07 from Dallas, TX.

The Big News: WWE’s wellness policy is legitimate, dammit. The company clearly tries to discourage steroid use, and there is no need for anyone to step in. Oh, and Bobby Lashley is challenging for the WWE Title at the Great American Bash.
Conclusive Finishes: 5 of 7.

Show Analysis:

Mr. Kennedy came out to start the show. He said he should be the WWE champion, but he didn’t get to cash in Money in the Bank. He blamed the fans for pressuring him to compete when he wasn’t ready. That’s a nice logical way to explain his current motivation as a heel. Kennedy said now he will just serve himself, and that he will be the next WWE champion. That brought out John Cena, who labeled Kennedy “Mr. Camel Toe.” Oh, the hilarity. Cena said it isn’t the people’s fault he lost his title shot, but rather Kennedy’s. He said he doesn’t trust or like Kennedy.

King Booker came out, and said he should be the next challenger. He added that he beat Cena and made him kiss his feet. Randy Orton was next out, and said he has never received a one on one title shot against Cena. He said he deserves the shot. Lashley was next. He said he never lost the ECW Title, and therefore he is the uncrowned champion. He said he wants to be WWE champion and won’t rest until he takes it. William Regal was the last one out, and he said he was in charge. He announced a beat the clock challenge to determine the number one contender for the Great American Bash.

Randy Orton beat Jeff Hardy in 7:06. Jeff hit a baseball slide and pescado early. Orton retaliated with a clothesline and Garvin stomp. He then went for an extended rest hold which made no sense at all and even the announcers were saying as much. Jeff came back with a mule kick and whisper in the wind. He went for the twist of fate, but it was reversed into an RKO for the pin. That was a cool finish to end a solid match.

Melina beat Maria. Candice watched from the announce table. Maria hit a Thesz press and choked Melina. Melina used a giant swing, weak curb stomp, knees, punches and forearms. Maria made a comeback with knees and a bulldog, but Melina caught her with the splits leg drop for the pin. They worked hard, but this was really sloppy. Melina and Candice had a confrontation after the match. Melina attacked Candice, but Candice fought her off.

They ran the first of two packages on HHH, who will be returning soon. Dusty Rhodes backstage introduced his son Cody to Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Randy Orton approached, and said one day Cody can be better than Dusty just like Randy is better than Bob, Jr. Cody told Orton to stay away from his dad. Dusty called Orton disrespectful, so Orton slapped him. Cody was angry about this. I like the potential of this program, but I hope they don’t have Cody in there before he is ready.

Umaga beat Santino in basically a squash. Santino checked in on Maria backstage before the match. Maria was more concerned for him facing Umaga. Santino said people don’t take him seriously, so he has to prove he deserves to be the Intercontinental champ. He gave Maria a kiss. Santino started the match with some kicks, but he got caught. Umaga went to work with chops and a nerve hold. Santino came off the top but got caught in a Samoan drop, which was an impressive spot. Umaga used some additional punches, his running butt drop, and the Samoan spike for the pin. I think that’s the end of the Santino “push.”

King Booker beat Val Venis in 4:30. The announcers tried their best to get over Val Venis as a threat, bless their hearts. I think they’re happy with him just as solid enhancement talent, but it goes without saying that if they want to push him at some point he needs to be repackaged. Val got in a lot of offense with a back suplex, knees, punches and a neck breaker. Booker finished him with a scissors kick.

Super Crazy defeated Mr. Kennedy. Backstage, Kennedy tried to convince Crazy to lay down for him. Crazy wasn’t having it. When the match started, Kennedy got on the microphone to talk trash rather than going after Crazy. Crazy rolled him up from behind for the pin in seconds. I hate these types of fluke finishes. They never get over the guy who wins. They sometimes hurt the guy who loses. And they always make match results look less significant. Dusty Rhodes challenged Randy Orton to a match next week.

Carlito beat the Sandman via DQ. Prior to the match, Carlito was backstage complaining about the Sandman. Sandman approached Carlito and said he likes to drink and fight. Carlito spit apple in Sandman’s face, Sandman spit beer in Carlito’s face, and Ron Simmons said damn. Seriously, I think this scene was the whole impetus for Sandman coming to Raw and feuding with Carlito in the first place. In the match, Carlito went for the Singapore cane. The referee stopped him, Sandman got the cane, and hit Carlito with it for the disqualification.

Bobby Lashley beat Shelton Benjamin with 24 seconds to spare to win beat the clock. King Booker made an agreement with Benjamin before the match that if Benjamin held off Lashley he would receive the first title shot when Booker wins the WWE title. Benjamin stalled a lot early. Lashley hit an overhead belly to belly. Benjamin countered a back drop into a DDT, which was a really cool spot. Lashley went for the power slam, but Benjamin escaped. However, he did not escape a spear, and Lashley covered for the pin.

William Regal came out for the contract signing. John Cena said it would be a great match and he is looking forward to it. Lashley said that makes two, and signed. King Booker and Mr. Kennedy then interrupted. Lashley and Cena fought them off, but Lashley then speared Cena from behind. The move was booed and seemed to be greeted as a heel turn by some, but I really don’t think it was intended that way.

Final Thoughts:

In the current climate, just about the last guy that I would set up for a push as the next title challenger is Bobby Lashley. It’s beyond stupid. I don’t really care for the push of roided up muscleheads in the first place because I think it leads to a less entertaining product. But there is incredible media scrutiny on steroid use in WWE, and the big story today was the massive quantity of steroids that Chris Benoit was taking leading up to him murdering his family. Given that reality, the decision to continue a massive push of a walking neon steroid billboard is absolutely idiotic.

This was the first edition of Raw since all the news broke last week. If anyone from the media or the real world tuned in to see how WWE handled the situation, they had their negative stereotypes about the industry confirmed. WWE can’t possibly be serious about steroids when this is who they are pushing.

Aside from people outside the business, it sends a clear message to people inside the business as well. No matter how much bad publicity WWE received in the past week, Vince McMahon is as wedded to physiques as ever before, even if it means pushing mediocre wrestlers who can’t talk and have very little charisma. Even if Vince gives the roster a pep talk about how they are serious about cutting down on drugs, how can you possibly take him seriously when the featured performer on the first show since all this broke is the most jacked up guy on the entire roster?

Other than that, I liked the show.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Newest MMA Piece

Check out my newest MMA piece on Pride stars coming to UFC and featuring thoughts from Dave, Mauro Ranallo and Dana White here. It's also on the front page right now.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

National Wrestling Alliance, Tim Hornbaker

I've been reading this book over the past few weeks, and I'm just about finished. Weird book, in that overall I think it was a good book and had a lot of interesting stuff I didn't know but the structure of the book drove me nuts. Just horribly put together, as the author decided rather than trying to create a narrative that carries through in some sort of order, it would just be a series of chapters with different themes. The problem is there is unbelievable overlap between the chapters, so you'll read the same thing 2, 3 or even 4 times in the same book, like it was a selection of articles rather than a specifically drafted book. It also starts with more interesting stuff and then the second half has a bunch of profiles of wrestlers you already know about or promoters that don't seem particularly important. So I ended up very frustrated, obviously.

With that said, I was frustrated specifically because there is a lot of interesting stuff here about the foundation of the NWA, various territorial battles, double crosses in the first half of the 20th century, early successful programs and so forth. Very well researched book. So I overall recommend it, but with reservations.