Friday, June 27, 2008

R.I.P. James Melroy

I just found out about the passing of James Melroy, a friend of mine and a really great person.

James wrote for the Long Beach Press Telegram, and covered MMA and pro wrestling when he had the opportunity for the paper. He was an excellent writer and understood the business very well.

James and I had the opportunity to meet at some MMA and PWG shows over the past few years, and he and Houston Mitchell were the two biggest influences as far as convincing me to expand my MMA writing. James was so giving and helpful to me when he didn't need to be at all, and I'll always appreciate that.

What I associate most about James beyond him being so friendly was his smile. He had a very warm and friendly smile, and to use the cliche it really lit up a room. He also had a great sense of humor and was always fun to be around. I'm going to miss not seeing him at the shows any more greatly. Thanks, James, for being a great friend and I hope you're in a better place.

I'll provide additional information if and when I receive it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

NBA Draft Thoughts

Not too many surprises at the top, although with all the smokescreens going out the expected was kind of unexpected.

Pat Riley and the Heat really hung poor Michael Beasley out to dry. With all the last minute fly-ins and talk of them not being enamored with Beasley it created a media fervor over Beasley's character, demeanor and attitude. And it ended up being completely unnecessary because they took him anyway. It certainly doesn't start your relationship with the young man well when you cause him to go through all that for the purposes of seeming elusive or whatever.

I was glad to see Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook go high. I'm still very much sold on Love as an NBA player. People are counting him out but I think he's going to be an elite player in the NBA.

With the NFL draft, the booing of picks doesn't bother me at all because with so many players on a team it's really easy to just play well, fit in, and get over that hostility. But with the NBA, I think fans that heavily boo picks are being really idiotic. It totally gets you off on the wrong footing, and a young lottery pick in the NBA is going to be under much more individual scrutiny during games. The reaction to Gallinari seemed really unnecessary, even if you don't like the pick. And it's not like he's one of these European kids that is playing 10 minutes and getting drafted high solely based on athletic potential.

I was kind of down on Jerryd Bayless as a top five guy that he was being projected as in many places, but he's an absolute steal at 11. Tremendous talent, and the key is just finding a way to get him to contribute to a successful overall system.

I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE the Wizards pick of Javale McGee. It made me very angry. I wish they had selected one of the blue chip guys who came into college with the hype and did well in college. Like say, Darrell Arthur, who was available. Instead they draft a guy who did well but not spectacularly in the WAC, and is likely to just be another big body in the NBA. Drafting for need rather than the best player almost always fails in the NBA. Crappy, crappy pick in my book. But what do I know?

Update: Ernie Grunfeld all but admitted to the press that he had other people targeted (Roy Hibbert, Robin Lopez) but that when they were scooped up he had to settle for McGee. As I said previously, taking the next best player at a particular position almost always backfires in the NBA. I do like the second round pick of Bill Walker much better though. Big time talent if he's healthy.

Update 2: Well, so much for that. Wiz sold Bill Walker to the Celtics for cash. Wizards fans are just trashing this draft online, and rightfully so. What a horrible job by Wiz management.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 06/23/08 from San Antonio, TX.

The Big News: It was certainly an eventful edition of Raw.

Show Analysis:

Triple H beat Mark Henry in the opener. Henry hit a shoulder block, punches, a clothesline, and a corner splash. HHH responded with a face buster and high knee. He went for the pedigree but Henry got out and hit the power slam. HHH kicked out, Henry missed a big splash, and HHH hit the pedigree for the pin. This was a better match than I would have expected. It was an effective short match.

The winners of each match on the show earned a draft pick for their show, and following this match Rey Mysterio was drafted to Raw. He got a big reaction and shook hands with HHH. I think that’s probably a good move. Mysterio has been out so he doesn’t have a lot in the way of loose ends, and given he hasn’t been on Raw in a while there are a lot of fresh programs for him.

Next up Vince McMahon gave away money and it was quite the segment. Kelly Kelly was out there to dial the number for Vince, but Vince couldn’t even pull off asking for the password. The woman gave him the correct password, but he asked again. She gave him the correct password again, at which point he laughed and proclaimed her a loser for giving the wrong password. At this point someone informed Vince she had in fact given the right password, so he said she won. I don’t think Vince has ever come across as this much of a buffoon unintentionally in his entire public life.

Backstage, John Cena took issue with HHH attacking him last week. HHH said that Cena needs to stay out of his business. Cena responded that to be the man, HHH has got to beat the man. He presumably meant himself and not Ric Flair. HHH said that until Cena gets the belt from him he is nothing.

Finlay and Hornswoggle beat Santino and Carlito in what was basically a squash. Finlay kicked Santino and tagged in Hornswoggle for a stunner and splash. Finlay tagged back in and was clobbering Santino until Carlito tripped him. The heels briefly gained the advantage before Finlay nailed the Celtic cross and tagged in Hornswoggle for the frog splash and pin on Santino.

This led to Jeff Hardy being drafted to Smackdown. I have mixed feelings on this one. I feel like there was still a lot for him to do as a main event level performer on Raw. On the other hand, he can become more of a focus on Smackdown in a way that he wasn’t on Raw. Edge vs. Jeff doesn’t do much for me, though.

Randy Orton came out with his arm in a sling. He told Cena and HHH that when he gets back he will be WWE champion again. He was supposed to help give away money, but he said he didn’t feel like doing so. Vince himself announced Edge vs. John Cena as the main event. He then gave away money to someone who sadly didn’t appear to know his or her own name.

Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes beat Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely. They mixed around the announcers throughout the evening, and Ted DiBiase did commentary for this match. Chavo used some punches to Cody and Bam choked Cody. Cody hit a dropkick on Chavo and tagged Holly. Holly went for the Alabama slam but Bam kicked him in the head. Chavo went for the pin, but Cody broke it up. The ring cleared and Holly hit the Alabama slam for the pin. CM Punk was drafted to Raw, a logical move to better showcase and push him.

Chris Jericho cut a promo where he said he continues to tell the truth and the people ostracize him for it. He said that Shawn Michaels will turn on the people just like he’s turned on everyone else. He added that Shawn is driven by ego but still he is cheered. Jericho said that he refuses to allow the fans to cheer him because he is honest and good hearted.

Jericho then introduced Lance Cade. Cade said that he was trained by Michaels, but he knew that when he made it big Michaels would turn on him. Cade said Jericho is someone he can trust. Jericho added that the worst is yet to come for Shawn Michaels. Michaels came out and attacked Jericho, but Jericho threw him into the announce table. Michaels sold his eye big.

John Morrison and the Miz beat Matt and Jeff Hardy. During this match Tazz said that with CM Punk going to Raw the rich are getting richer and basically said that he’d like to go to Raw himself. It was a hilarious admission of the obvious. Matt and Jeff combined for poetry in motion. Miz and Morrison took over on Jeff with a double team elbow and stomach breaker.

Jeff got the tag to Matt, who came in with a bulldog, elbow off the second rope and side effect. Jeff took out Miz with a pescado, and Matt hit a leg drop off the second rope. Matt had the pin but Miz distracted the referee. Morrison rolled up Matt and grabbed the tights for the pin. I liked that for once they had the regular team win over the team that hasn’t teamed in a while.

This led to Matt Hardy being drafted to ECW. I guess ECW needed someone with star power. Given Jeff was going to Smackdown, it is smart they moved Matt off the show. Matt and Jeff together to me kind of diminishes each of them, so I think they are better off apart.

Vince McMahon introduced Ric Flair to help give away money. This made no sense. Vince forced Flair to retire, then threw him out of the building last week, and now this week he invites Ric Flair to be a part of the show and is friendly with him. This was all a setup for Flair to say “whoo” after someone won the money.

Melina and Mickie James went to a double DQ with Natalya and Victoria in an announcers only draft match. Mike Adamle thought that Melina was Mickie James. Natalya hit a powerslam on Melina and Melina hit a Thesz press on Victoria. Victoria pushed Melina off the top rope to the floor and there was a big brawl on the floor that led to a double DQ. They announced that both Raw and Smackdown would get a pick. This was totally contrived. And they proceeded to draft Jim Ross to Smackdown and Michael Cole to Raw. The crowd booed. I’ve got a lot more to say on this nonsense below.

Great Khali helped Vince give away more money. Khali plugged Get Smart for comedy. They dialed someone who informed them they had the wrong number. Khali began belligerently yelling at the phone. They were more successful the second dial, but it would not be fair to say it went smoothly.

John Cena beat Edge via count out. The highlight of this match was a justifiably pissed off Jim Ross making it clear what he thought of this bullshit about him being moved to Smackdown. Mick Foley kept trying to pacify him, but he wasn’t having it. Foley noted he was hoping that if there was a switch he would go to Raw to join Ross.

Edge hit a kick to the head, forearms and a clothesline. Cena came back with the blockbuster, Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle. He went for the FU twice but Edge escaped and hit an implant DDT. Cena kicked out of a pin attempt and applied the STFU. Edge got to the ropes, but then ended up leaving for the count out. This wasn’t much but there was great crowd heat. Batista jumped Edge after the match, and then was drafted to Raw. That’s probably for the best as he had done all the major programs on Smackdown. Batista vs. Cena is a natural program.

MVP beat Tommy Dreamer in a short match. MVP used punches and a suplex. Dreamer came back with a bulldog, but MVP finished him with the Generico ole kick for the pin. This led to Umaga being drafted to Smackdown. Umaga came out and laid out Dreamer and Colin Delaney. Umaga moving to Smackdown was one of the most obvious moves of the draft, as it will freshen him up and give him a bunch of new programs including the obvious feud with Undertaker.

JBL beat Kofi Kingston. Kingston flew around with a flying forearm and leg drop, while JBL tried to ground him with stomps, punches and a cobra clutch. JBL hit a fall away slam, but Kingston landed a dropkick. Kingston missed a crossbody off the top and JBL finished him with the clothesline from hell.

Kane was drafted to Raw. The smart money in Vegas just came in on Big Show for Night of Champions. I don’t like the pick. To me, Kane works better as an attraction on the minor show. He doesn’t bring a lot of interest to major programs on a big show, so he’s more likely to flounder on Raw. Someone in the crowd in San Antonio won money.

Edge won a battle royal over John Cena, Kane, Batista, CM Punk, Triple H, Chavo Guerrero, Shelton Benjamin, the Miz, John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Big Show, Edge, Great Khali, Jeff Hardy and MVP to close the show. Everyone teamed to dump Great Khali at the beginning. They tried to do the same to Show, but he fought them off. Punk dumped Shelton and Batista threw out Morrison and Miz together.

Edge hit a series of spears. Show threw out Punk. Jeff eliminated Chavo. Matt dumped MVP. Jeff and Matt fought each other, with Jeff eliminating Matt. That was it for ECW, which is the jobber brand in case you hadn’t figured it out. Batista and Edge rammed heads together accidentally and Batista was busted open hardway. It kind of reminded me of Yves Edwards vs. Joe Stevenson with the blood everywhere on the top of the head.

Jeff missed the whisper in the wind and HHH sent him out. Show knocked out Batista, and then threw out Kane. Cena and HHH went after Show together. He used a double suplex on them, but they kept at it and got rid of him. Cena then eliminated HHH, and Edge eliminated Cena quickly to win the match.

Smackdown got two picks, and Mr. Kennedy and HHH are going to Smackdown. Kennedy to me I could go either way on. It feels like he hasn’t been on Raw all that long and that he was just getting his footing, but I think the move to Smackdown is pretty much a lateral move.

As for HHH, I don’t really know what to make of the move because it isn’t clear what they have planned yet. Given HHH has been on Raw for so long I think moving him to Smackdown is potentially a strong idea. I think a program with Edge could work well. But it would seem odd to me if Cena just beat HHH on Sunday and that was it for that program, so I think perhaps WWE has some plans that aren’t entirely evident yet.

Vince McMahon gave away $500,000 at the end of the show. Following that, the set fell near Vince and somehow this hurt Vince despite him clearly not being hit by anything. WWE is usually better about leaving with you the impression that the individual might have been hurt even if you know in your mind that they weren’t. Here, anyone watching the show could see with their own eyes that Vince wasn’t touched by anything. Vince was carried off on a stretcher anyway.

Final Thoughts:

Okay, there’s a lot to say here. As a show, this was a very entertaining three hours that breezed by. There were a lot of noteworthy angles and a ton of tremendous unintentional comedy.

The biggest angle was the thing with Vince McMahon at the end of the show. I didn’t really like it. I’m of course fine with the end of the million dollar giveaway gimmick, but this angle reminded me too much of the stupid death of Vince McMahon angle. I don’t really care about a mystery over who injured Vince. Particularly considering anyone watching could clearly see he wasn’t hurt.

The bigger issue than the show itself was the draft, which is going to be important in shaping WWE’s direction in the coming months. The draft to me overall was a success. The moves for the most part made a lot of sense. Just about every guy I think has the potential to mean more in their new spot than they did in their old spot, and that’s a positive sign. The one minor wrestler change is I would have switched MVP to Raw rather than Kane. But for the most part WWE gets a big thumbs up.

I did say “for the most part.” And that leads me into my enormous issue with this show, which is the inexplicable moving of Jim Ross to Smackdown. It’s yet another example of Vince demonstrating he doesn’t much care about what his audience thinks or likes.

Jim Ross has been the voice of Raw for years and years. He’s a large part of why I enjoy tuning in to Raw every Monday night. Removing him from Raw creates a gigantic hole. It will make the show feel less familiar, and less fun given Ross is still easily the best announcer in wrestling.

I just don’t understand why you screw with your audience like this by taking away an enormously popular announcer who is an institution on your flagship show. It’s like an invitation for long term fans to tune out. Every time they have tried to remove Jim Ross it has led to a backlash. I’m not sure if Vince just wants to screw with Ross, but there is no upside whatsoever to this bullshit.

I’ve never in all my time of writing these reports advocated trying to influence the WWE, because I don’t think they have much of an interest in listening to their fans. But I do encourage Raw viewers to write to WWE and voice your displeasure with the removal of Ross. Maybe if enough people write them they will come to their senses and switch him back. Jim Ross is a huge part of Monday Night Raw, and removing him from the show with no good reason is an affront to longtime viewers of the product and to Ross himself.

A big part of why fans revolted so heavily on Black Saturday in ’84 was because Gordon Solie was no longer on their television sets. They knew Solie and liked Solie and associated him with the tradition of their version of pro wrestling, and it made them upset when he was no longer there.

24 years later we’ve got our version of the same thing, with the arbitrary and capricious removal of Ross. Tonight fans should be excited about the new programs on Raw and Smackdown, but I imagine I can’t be the only one left more pissed off than anything because they decided to screw with over a decade of announcing tradition for no good reason.

I want to close with a couple plugs. First, I recorded an audio segment with Alex Reimer late last week talking about the draft and other subjects. I think it’s an interesting listen so you can check that out at

Second, I forgot to mention last week but I’ve started contributing to MMA Payout is a great site run by Adam Swift that focuses on the financial aspects of the MMA business, and I encourage everyone to check out the site regularly. I’ve already got a number of posts up there and there’s another big one coming up next week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 06/16/08 from Salt Lake City, UT.

The Big News: There’s something different about the formatting on this here site.

Show Analysis:

John Cena came out to start the show and put over WWE huge. He said that WWE has moments that transcend time. He asserted that everybody knows where they were when Hulk Hogan first picked up Andre the Giant (1980?), Shawn Michaels realized his boyhood dream, or Stone Cold Steve Austin first whipped someone’s ass (Savio Vega?). He added that Night of Champions would be another transcendent moment in time. This was comically absurd hyperbole.

HHH joined Cena, annoyed that Cena cost him a match with Jeff Hardy. He said he would give Cena a warning, but there wouldn’t be a second warning not to get involved in his matches. Cena called out HHH for pulling him off the announce table, but HHH said the uncoordinated Cena probably fell.

Cena responded that he made HHH tap and until HHH beats him HHH is nothing. HHH said Cena will let down his fans at Night of Champions, but on the plus side most of his fans will have gone to bed by that time. Cena shoved HHH and they squared off, but Vince McMahon interrupted and announced Cena vs. Umaga in a street fight.

John Cena beat Umaga in a street fight. Cena went for a body slam, but Umaga fell on top of him. Umaga knocked Cena off the apron into the barricade, and hit a Samoan drop on the floor. Umaga missed a running butt drop into the post and Cena hit him with a microphone. Umaga retaliated with a black hole slam. Umaga brought a chair into the ring but Cena got it and hit Umaga with it. Cena hit a top rope famouser and went for the FU but his knees gave way. Umaga sent Cena into the steps and went to hit him with the steps, but Cena lifted him up with the FU for the pin. This was a good match.

Maria won a bikini contest over Eve, Melina, Maryse, Lena, Layla and Jillian. No Katie Lea = no buys. Vince before and after this gave away money. He had trouble dialing again. He got an answering machine once and left a message, which may have been a work.

Jeff Hardy beat Carlito. Jeff hit a somersault plancha, but Carlito took over with a neck breaker, dropkick and elbow. Jeff hit a mule kick and jaw breaker, but Carlito escaped a twist of fate attempt. Shortly thereafter Jeff hit the whisper in the wind, twist of fate and swanton for the pin.

Chris Jericho spoke in the ring. He said he didn’t lie to the fans like Michaels, and thus what happened was the fans’ fault. Now Jericho is here to save himself from the people. Jericho said he hasn’t changed but the fans have. He posited that he did what he did to Michaels because the fans forced him and now he will punish Michaels for the fans’ sins. This was obviously modeled off Bret Hart’s turn in 1997, although the motivations aren’t as clearly defined here.

Jericho called out Michaels, but said Michaels wouldn’t show because he’s a coward. Instead, Ric Flair came out. He noted he is retired but challenged Jericho to a fight in the parking lot. Jericho followed Flair back, but ended up running into HHH. Jericho backed off. After a break, Vince had Flair escorted from the building and made HHH vs. Jericho.

There was a pair of short matches. Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly beat Cryme Tyme in seconds when Cryme Tyme was distracted by Ted DiBiase and rolled up. Paul Burchill and Katie Lea then beat Mickie James and Mr. Kennedy. Burchill and Kennedy traded punches and kicks. Mickie gave Katie clotheslines and a dropkick. Mickie went for a Thesz press off the top but Katie avoided it and hit a back breaker for the pin. Vince gave away more money and said he would give away another million next week.

HHH beat Chris Jericho via DQ. They mostly brawled. The match didn’t really build very much. Jericho got the heat for a little bit. Jericho went for the Walls but HHH escaped. HHH hit a spine buster but Jericho fought out of the pedigree. Then all of a sudden Lance Cade of all people came out and attacked HHH for the DQ. John Cena made the save but HHH attacked Cena, and Cade and Jericho used the opportunity to lay Cena and HHH out.

Final Thoughts:

Well, this was definitely a better show than last week. The contest seemed to flow more seamlessly this time. That’s partly because they emphasized the wrestling segments over the money giveaways rather than the other way around. It’s also partly because Vince had more interaction with the winners which added energy.

The show featured better wrestling than last week as well, and was generally paced pretty well. It wasn’t like there were any blow away segments, however. I’m all for elevating new people, but I’m not sure about this first week in a push of Cade. To me it didn’t really do much to establish him as a serious player, and it’s imperative that they go particularly strong with him at first if this is to work.

The draft next week is likely to be bizarre. It’s coming right before a pay-per-view, and so much of the roster is tied up in current programs. One would expect things to be fairly static before a shake-up, but that’s not really the case. It’s likely that some programs are going to end very abruptly.

Finally, I wanted to address the Observer/F4W merger. Now, I know a lot of people over the past couple years have become subscribers to both services, so there’s nothing particularly jarring about this other than more Dave audio, which I’m sure everyone will be excited by.

As for people that have been longtime Observer readers but are now quickly being introduced to F4W, or people that read the Observer website but not F4W, let me tell you there’s tons of great stuff for you to check out at this site. With Dave on board as well, the product is a ridiculously good deal.

The highlight, in my opinion, of the F4W website, has been the Bryan and Vinny audio shows. If you’re looking for a first destination for audio content, I think that’s your ticket. Bryan and Vinny are a pair of friends who chat and bullshit about wrestling shows. It’s a fun and completely relatable show that I think you’ll enjoy a lot.

From there, you’ve got all sorts of other great audio. Each of the other shows has a different theme, including old school wrestling, Japanese wrestling, MMA, independent wrestling and more. There’s really a ton of stuff here on top of the availability of the two newsletters and the board. Okay, so maybe you should just avoid the board, but the rest of the stuff is great. I highly recommend to everyone reading this that you give a subscription a try. You can send me a nasty e-mail if you’re disappointed, but I don’t think you will be.

As for me, my inclination is that two audio shows, two newsletters and two web reports all addressing the same TV show on the same site is simply too much. So I think it’s more likely than not that at some point over the next couple months I’m going to stop doing these reports. I wanted to give people a heads up on that, although I’ll reevaluate in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Couple MMA Pieces

First, I want to make mention that I'm joining It's a great site dedicated to the financial aspects of the sport, and I'm excited to be contributing there once a month or so. There's a post up today that discussed the Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton Jackson season of the Ultimate Fighter and what is missing. Tomorrow and Friday there will be pieces on what Donald Trump's involvement in Affliction means and how EliteXC should approach finding future opponents for Kimbo Slice. So check back there and in the future.

Second, I've got a new piece at on Matt Hughes and his legacy:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 06/09/08 from Oakland, CA.

The Big News: Vince McMahon gave away a million dollars. It sounds much more exciting in theory than in practice.

Show Analysis:

Mr. Kennedy beat Paul Burchill in the opener. Burchill hit a back suplex and clothesline, but Kennedy came back with a kick to the head and mic check for the clean pin. After the match Katie slapped Kennedy and Burchill gave him a neck breaker. Still, this result doesn’t bode well for Mr. Burchill. Before this match Vince McMahon gave out the password for the money, and after the match he gave away $200,000. The guy had a phone that directed Vince to a wacky song, which was quite amusing.

Mickie James beat Beth Phoenix. Beth countered a tornado DDT into a side slam. She then channeled the immortal Heavy Metal Van Hammer and delivered a slingshot suplex. Mickie responded with a spinning head scissors, punches, and the Charlie Thesz press off the top for the clean pin. Beth jumped Mickie after the match, but Melina ran out and laid Beth out with a face buster off the top. I don’t recall Beth ever being booked this weakly. Afterwards Vince gave out more money.

Backstage, HHH said it isn’t personal with John Cena, but rather it’s about being the best. HHH said that he is the best. Cena responded that he beat HHH in their match at WrestleMania. HHH said that was then and this is now.

Next up was one of the biggest car crash segments in the history of Raw. Vince McMahon tried to give out money with Charlie Haas. Vince dialed the number three times, but got static and eventually a busy signal. So they got another number, and gave away some money.

Vince said he would increase the amount if Charlie kissed a diva. Maria came out and they kissed. Vince said he would throw in more if Charlie kissed another, which was of course Mae Young’s cue to come out and make out with Charlie. Ron Simmons crept out, said “damn” off camera and quickly exited. I think he didn’t want to have anything to do with the segment.

John Cena beat JBL. HHH did commentary and after the match exchanged words with Cena. Prior to the match, JBL said the people don’t deserve Vince’s money. JBL jumped Cena at the beginning of the match, and used punches and a sleeper. Cena came back with shoulder blocks, the Cena slam, and the five knuckle shuffle.

Cena went for the FU, but JBL raked his face and hit the clothesline from hell. JBL went for the pin, but Cena got his foot on the ropes. JBL cleared the announcers’ table to do something bad, but Cena pinned him with a small package when he got back in the ring. This was a rather dull match. Vince gave out more money. He misdialed the number at first, and these segments by now were getting very annoying.

The Highlight Reel featured Shawn Michaels. Chris Jericho introduced Michaels as a friend, but then went on about how Michaels was lying to everyone. Michaels said he only lied to Jericho. Jericho noted that when Michaels superkicked him Michaels got cheered, and when he told the truth he got booed. Jericho asked Michaels how he turned into such a lying, cheating worm of a human being. He attacked Michaels and they got into a fight. Jericho kicked him low. He told Michaels the worst is yet to come, and then threw him into the Jeritron.

The lead-up to this point has been weird and inconsistent, but this was a very strong turn by Jericho. He conveyed an intensity and anger that came across very well. We have seen a lot of the sarcastic heel Jericho, so I think a more dark character would be a good idea this time around. It would also make him fit more into the main event picture.

Snitsky and Umaga beat Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes. Umaga kicked Holly in the head and Snitsky gave him elbow drops. Holly hit a drop kick to the leg and tagged Rhodes. Rhodes used some clotheslines on Umaga, but Umaga hit a face first black hole slam and Samoan spike for the pin. Umaga is kind of demeaned by even being associated with these three idiots (I speak in terms of the way they are portrayed).

After the match, Ted DiBiase said that at the Night of Champions he will win the tag titles along with a mystery partner. I don’t know what lowers the tag titles more. On one hand, the tag champions lose to a random team that may have never teamed before and doesn’t appear to be getting a tag title shot. On the other hand, a guy who has never wrestled before in the company and an unknown person are getting a title shot right off the bat without having accomplished anything. I know it’s a work and the tag titles are already dead, but that’s certainly not going to help a potential resurrection.

Vince announced a sing-off between Trevor Murdoch and Jillian Hall. Murdoch got booed again. They really miscalculated by turning him so fast before they were sure they had a character people liked. Now he’s really dead. Jillian was worse and got booed more loudly. Vince called up someone and gave her $2, which is what he said those performances were worth. I don’t see the point of mocking your fans, other than the fact Vince loves mocking people. Worse, it wasted time and made for awful television. He then gave away $200,000.

Cryme Tyme beat Santino and Carlito. The heels worked over JTG. Santino used a camel clutch. Eventually JTG got the tag to Shad. Shad hit a powerslam and STO on Santino for the pin. After the match Cryme Tyme helped Vince give away more money.

Jeff Hardy beat HHH via count out. Cena did commentary. Jeff went for the twist of fate but HHH escaped and hit a spine buster. He followed with a high knee, Irish whips into the corner and a face buster. Jeff missed the whisper in the wind, so HHH rammed him into the barricade and threw Jeff into Cena. This annoyed Cena, who stopped HHH from getting into the ring and Jeff was announced as the winner.

This was a total squash, with Jeff getting around the amount of offense Colin Delaney does in an average match. It was one of those performances by HHH, Kevin Nash or Hulk Hogan where they totally bury their opponent throughout the match and then lose via fluke in the end in a way that says even if the opponent wins they are still nothing. Jeff gave Cena and HHH a pescado after the match. Vince gave away more money at the end of the show and announced he would do it again next week. For the love of God, give it away in fewer increments.

Final Thoughts:

This was a relatively bad show even without the money segments, but with them it was even worse. This money gimmick is so bad. It comes off as kind of desperate, but that’s not even the crux of the problem. The problem is much simpler: it makes for really boring television. Watching Vince dial telephone numbers isn’t at all entertaining. It kind of reminds me of the diva search, and at least the diva search had boobs. It’s particularly insufferable here on the west coast where there is no drama and no entertainment.

I guess we will see how it does as a one week ratings gimmick. I could see it working as car crash television, but I also could see the sheer banality of it all being a turn off. Either way, I can’t imagine that it will hold up as more than a one week ratings gimmick. So hopefully Vince will kill it off next week or the week after.

The final segment with Jeff Hardy and HHH was quite the trip as well. It seems like someone may be getting insecure about the perceived flatness of his title run.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Service

My IPod stopped working and I looked into a number of services to try to recover the data on it. I ended up settling on Stellar Phoenix, which promised to help to recover corrupted data and offered a 30 day money back guarantee. Well after hours of effort, it didn't work. And worse, the company's guarantee is fraud. Basically, they say they will refund you if their support can't solve the problem. So what happens is you send them e-mails asking for help, and they keep asking you pointless questions over and over and over again. The questions don't get at the problems, and are intended to get you to eventually give up and restore your Ipod, at which point they claim it was your fault the product didn't work and there is no refund. I literally ended up with a 20 e-mail exchange with these people, and it's clear they have never given a refund to anyone despite their promise. I assume this is of little to no interest to regular readers and it's not a big deal, but I am putting this up so that if someone runs a google search a year from now looking to learn about Stellar Phoenix, hopefully they will learn that their promises are a sham and take that into account before wasting $40 on their product. Products not working are to be expected. Fraudulent and deceptive marketing is another thing entirely.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Raw Report

Date: 06/02/08 from Bakersfield, CA.

The Big News: WWE’s giving away money next week. And not Johnny B. Badd dollars, either.

Show Analysis:

HHH came out to start the show. He said the Age of Orton is dead, like it never happened. He pointed out Orton is watching the show from a hospital with a broken collarbone. HHH said he doesn’t know who is next and he doesn’t care. That brought out John Cena to deliver one of his annoying “cute” monologues. This was particularly obnoxious even by those standards. He said with Cena vs. HHH, the future is now. More like back to the future.

Cena said that HHH has beaten everyone but him, so he challenged HHH to a fight. Jeff Hardy came out to interject. He noted that three men from Raw won at One Night Stand, and he was the third. Jeff suggested that he wrestle Cena for a title shot against HHH. HHH was fine with this. Vince McMahon appeared on the screen and approved the match.

Mr. Kennedy beat Umaga via count out. Kennedy was supposed to wrestle Paul Burchill, but Burchill said he had to prepare Katie Lea for her match. Umaga was successful very early with a Samoan drop and nerve hold. But he dove off the apron and crashed into the announcers’ table by accident. Umaga couldn’t make it back to the ring and that was it. That drew significant boos from the crowd. Paul Burchill jumped Kennedy after the match.

Vince McMahon announced the money giveaway, and had a million dollars in a glass case. Vince said they will give away a million dollars next week. Fans can register on but you have to be an American citizen. Vince talked about inviting new fans to watch the product and bringing back old fans. Vince then criticized elitists who look down on wrestling fans. Vince said wrestling fans represent Americana. He further added that no snobs are allowed.

I appreciate Vince’s point, but he’s done more to make people look down on wrestling fans than anyone. Wrestling fans aren’t intrinsically low brow. Look at Japan. But Vince has done so many tasteless angles over the years that it has really fostered and given life to that perception. In fairness, WWE hasn’t had a really tasteless angle in quite a while now, but it shouldn’t be a mystery why so many people think lowly of WWE pro wrestling.

Santino and Carlito beat Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes. Roddy Piper was the guest timekeeper, and he tripped Santino during the match. Holly went for the Alabama slam, but Carlito kicked him in the head and Santino pinned him. I’m not sure if somebody is turning here, but this certainly buried the faces. Backstage, Santino had insults directed towards Jimmy Kimmel based on Letterman, Leno and Conan shticks.

Elsewhere, Holly was annoyed with Rhodes for not telling him Piper would be there. Ted DiBiase then told Rhodes that he is three weeks away from choosing a partner and winning the tag team championship. Don’t you have to earn a title shot? Chris Jericho then said that he will defend the Intercontinental Title as much as he can. He dedicated his match with JBL to Shawn Michaels.

Chris Jericho beat JBL via DQ. JBL hit a neck breaker and elbow drops and applied the full nelson. Jericho came back with a tornado DDT, shoulder blocks and a Walls attempt. JBL escaped and hit a fall away slam. JBL went for the clothesline from hell but Jericho ducked that and hit a springboard dropkick. Jericho missed a baseball slide and got hit with a big boot. JBL grabbed a chair and was disqualified. Jericho then got the chair and went to hit JBL with it but again had second thoughts.

Katie Lea and Beth Phoenix beat Mickie James and Melina. Mickie and Katie were wrestling, but Melina just stared at Beth. When Beth tagged in, Melina screamed for the tag. She jumped Beth with punches, but Beth laid her out with a clothesline and threw her into the apron. Mickie got the tag, and hit a top rope Thesz press on Katie. Mickie went for the implant DDT (you know, because the head gets implanted), but Katie escaped. Beth nailed Mickie from behind and Katie scored the pin. Paul Burchill came out to celebrate, but got jumped by Kennedy.

Lance Cade beat Trevor Murdoch. Cade hit a back drop on the floor and kneed Murdoch’s head into the post. Murdoch hit a knee lift and yakuza kick. He went for a double ax handle off the top, but Cade caught him with a punch and hit a sit down power bomb for the pin. Backstage, Mickie and Cena talked about rumors of them being an item. Cena then gave her back her panties which she left behind last night. They’ve been fornicating, you see.

John Cena beat Jeff Hardy. A fan hit the ring at the beginning of the match and caused quite the distraction. Jeff hit a pescado but missed the swanton. Cena used the Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle, but Jeff escaped the FU. Jeff responded with a forearm, clothesline, mule kick, and whisper in the wind. Jeff hit a crossbody off the top, but Cena rolled through, lifted him up, and hit the FU. That was a cool finish.

Final Thoughts:

This was a decidedly average edition of Raw. They were mostly setting up future events. The wrestling was generally okay, but the finishes weren’t very good. It will be interesting to see if they get any ratings bump whatsoever from the million dollar giveaway gimmick.