http://www.sporcle.com/games/Martin/nwo_members 28/43 here. Who WASN’T a member, really? A couple of specialized factions tripped me up, however.
Hi Scott, Let me start with the usual and say I’m a long time reader, first time emailer, so many thanks for the entertaining rants and reviews down the years. I was thinking about this the other day and thought your take would be interesting and all those on the blog might enjoy discussing who actually had the greatest single title reign in wrestling history? By this I mean a recognised World Heavyweight title reign anywhere in the world rated in terms of money made, future influence, match quality, storytelling, character development and other tangibles. But it must be a single title reign, so for example, while Austin’s run with the WWF Championship in 1998 was brilliant, it was split between two reigns so can’t count collectively but each of the two reigns could be considered on their own merits. Now apologies if I seem ignorant but my wrestling knowledge is really North American and late 80’s onwards, so if it was just about money made I’m sure Hogan’s 84-88 reign is the one, and I’m sure in terms of match quality, Ric Flair probably had a crazy good reign in the 80’s and finally in terms of drama and storytelling, Savage’s year with the title Wrestlemania IV to V is up there. But if you take everything into account, who had the greatest single title reign? I’ve been going back and forth between Savage’s Wrestlemania to Wrestlemania reign and Austin’s run from Wrestlemania 17 to Unforgiven 2001. Keep up the good work!
Yeah, the conversation pretty much begins and ends with Bruno Sammartino. Eight years as WWF champion from 1963-71, and he pretty much invented the power wrestler template from which everyone else followed. Drew money hand over fist as well. Came back in the 70s and got another three years as champion just because Vince Sr. needed another couple of million dollars in his vault to dive into like Uncle Scrooge. Runner-up: Hulk Hogan’s first reign. If you’re expanding to other, non-World titles, then I’d also nominate Honky Tonk Man.
Hi +Scott Keith you very kindly plugged my website when I first started, but there’s so many reviews on there now including all of the Harry Potter films, which frankly I feel I deserve a medal for sitting through. Any chance of one more cheap plug for old times sake, and I promise I won’t ask again. 🙂
Well I can’t say no to a cheap plug.
Hey Scott,Johnathan1988 from the boards
I keep reading about different "boom" periods in WWE, or times when business was bad, but different sources seem to give different information on which time-frames WWE was successful in (ratings, buyrates, attendance), and which periods things weren’t so good in. Seeing as I didn’t really take notice of such things until my conversion to smarkdom in 2001, I write you asking to clear it up.
I start with Hogan beating the Sheik for the belt. WWE was clearly on fire then, highlighted with Hulkamania and Hogan’s huge WM3 win over Andre. Does the fire start to die down a little in 88 and 89, or is it going just as strong up until WM VI in toronto?
Obviously things get cooler from here, but the mid 90s provide a constant source of argument between Bret and Shawn fans. Was Bret’s 94 run doing any good numbers? Was Shawn’s 96 title reign the closest WWE has come to going out of business? And where does Diesel in 95 fit in?
The Attitude Era was the next big boom, but my question is if Austin’s year long-absence (and thus the Rock taking over the top spot) made a difference in the numbers in 2000 compared to 99?
Finally, I heard an interview with Cena where he calls 02-06 "a down time" for ther business. So when does it start picking up again? Wrestlemania 23?
I know this is a convoluted question, but I figured you were a good authority to somewhat set the record straight.
OK, I’m game. 80s: 84-88 was huge, with Hogan-Orndorff in particular making money hand over fist every night for close to a year until they finally managed to burn people out on it. It was INSANE the kind of houses they were doing after that piledriver. Savage did really strong business on top as champion, leading to the all-time buyrate champion for a long time at Wrestlemania V. Business starting dropping rapidly at that point, leading to Warrior’s horrible run on top (fault and causes are another argument, point being, business went south). You can safely call 89-92ish a pretty big down cycle. The early 90s were a really weird period, and I’m going to play it safe and say it’s hard to categorize who would have done what with the title on top. Diesel was unquestionably death for business, however, and I don’t think anyone seriously debates that. As a personal anecdote, Diesel’s reign as champion saw them drop from running the hockey arena in Edmonton to the much, much smaller adjacent building, something that would have been unthinkable to me a few years prior. Sid on top in 96 was a similar situation. Bret always drew big numbers as champion internationally, so you pretty much had to keep him on top during that period when they were expanding like that. Overall, 93-97 was a huge transitional period for the business in general, with Vince shifting his focus from promoting house shows on TV to promoting PPV on TV and finally just promoting TV for the sake of it. 2000 was the most profitable year for the WWF in their history, including today, so Rock must have been doing something right. Really, by that time Austin wasn’t needed as a draw and HHH and Rock could carry things just fine on their own. Austin’s peak years, 98-2000, were SOOOOOOO huge that he could have retired and still been comfortably rich for the rest of his life just based on them. 2000 was pretty much the peak of the entire business as far as WWF goes. As for the last one, business picked up specifically with the Batista-HHH main event at Wrestlemania 21. That’s the show that turned WM from just the biggest PPV of the year into an event in itself. It’s also the last time they really pulled the trigger and made 2 legitimate new stars (Cena and Batista), both in the same night! However, outside of WM, PPV has been trending steadily downwards for a long time now, so we’ve been a down cycle for many years.
Hey Scott. Your recent post regarding the "Best Final Matches" of certain wrestlers got me thinking about the various epochs of professional wrestling in North America. But a comment in said thread really got the creative juices going.
Every major period in pro wrestling seems to have a clear beginning, a decisive point where the beginning of the end is seen, and a symbolic ending to it. In the NWA (or WCW), for instance, Ric Flair’s run as the true face of the promotion began at Starrcade ’83 when he toppled Harley Race for his second world title, and ended with the unceremonious firing by Jim Herd in the summer of 1991. I looked a bit deeper, though, and would be so bold as to say that while Herd’s firing of Flair was the symbolic end to his reign as the top dog in WCW (since he was never the same force in the promotion again), you could see the beginning of the end as early as 1990, when the new generation (represented by Sting) finally overcame him in 1990. Sure, he would win the title back in 1991, but it was really the beginning of the end for Flair’s reign as the undisputed King of the NWA.
In the WWF, you can see something similar to Hulk Hogan, who actually had not one, but three "definitive" endings to his first WWF run. With a universally agreed-upon starting point set in 1984 with his title victory over the Iron Sheik, you could run it out to WrestleMania VI, where he lost the title to the Ultimate Warrior and "passed the torch" in much the same way Flair had to Sting (since both Warrior and Sting ended up as disappointing champions their first time out). You could make a case for WrestleMania VIII, which was really the culmination of nine years on the road with the WWF as its top attraction. And you can certainly look at 1993’s King of the Ring, where Yokozuna crushed him and led to his turfing from the promotion. But looking closer, you could almost see the beginning of the end at the Main Event in 1988, with his title loss to Andre. It was the first time Hogan had been beaten. The superhero had been felled, even if it came as treachery. After that, Hogan’s stature was lessened a bit, because you had the Macho Man operating at the same level in the fan’s eyes for a time, and then you had the Warrior rise up not long after. Like Flair, Hogan would have success after the beginning of the end. But it was really an iconic moment that really foreshadowed the changing times.
As I looked back, I could count a number of these areas where you had clear starting points and symbolic endings, like Steve Austin’s start at King of the Ring 1996, his symbolic end at WrestleMania XIX, and the beginning of the end with his awkward heel turn at WrestleMania X-Seven. Or you could even use Bret Hart, whose Intercontinental Championship victory at Summerslam 1991 launched his solo career for good, the WrestleMania 13 double-turn the beginning of his downfall, and Montreal representing the symbolic end. Who else has such identifiable periods in their career that you can recall?
Those would actually be the major ones I could think of as well. I think it’s much more notable that someone like the Rock didn’t have a “beginning of the end” phase. It was all rising action, and then one day he went to Hollywood and never looked back. Ditto for someone like Brock Lesnar, who was on top of the business for his entire career. You could probably make a case for Goldberg having an era, who debuted strong, and then saw the beginning of the end with the stupid car punching injury, and finally the heel turn that killed him off for good.
As per last night’s Observer radio show, initial numbers for Money In The Bank are coming in, and it looks like about 135,000 domestic buys. Predictions based on the show’s response had originally put it at 150,000 or more, which would have been phenomenal. This doesn’t cover international buys and numbers will probably change a lot when the finals come in next quarter, but as it stands it’s a bit of a boost over 2010’s show, but not a game-changing performance or anything. It’s basically a B-show that did better than it would have. Hopefully this won’t mean Punk will immediately lose his version of the title and then job to Fake Sin Cara every night, but given the impatience WWE has displayed with the angle thus far, you never know. Really, what it goes to show is that PPV is a dying market for WWE and there’s very little that’s going to boost it again short of Rock and Steve Austin returning fulltime.
http://the-w.com/threadx.php/id=44003 Thus far: Melina, Gail Kim, Koslov, DH Smith, Chris Masters. No big shocks there, although fuck them for giving up on Harry Smith so soon. He’s the son of the British Bulldog and trained by the Harts, what more do you need? I’m sure there’s more to come as the afternoon proceeds.
Hi Scott, hope you are well. Here is the complete DVD listing for the WWE’s Wrestling’s Greatest Rivalries, Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart DVD…
San Antonio vs. Calgary
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
Heartbreak Kid vs.The Hit Man
Intercontinental Champion vs. WWE Champion
Showstopper vs. Excellence of Execution
Progressive vs. Traditional
Fantasy vs. Reality
Respect vs. Trust
Redemption vs. Reconciliation
Hope vs. Peace
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
Madison Square Garden – 25th November, 1989
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Wrestling Challenge – 10th February, 1990
The Rockers vs. The Hart Foundation
Tokyo Dome – 30th March, 1991
Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Portland, Oregon– 21st July, 1992
Intercontinental Championship Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Syracuse, New York– 29th April, 1992
WWE Championship Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Survivor Series – 25th November, 1992
Steel Cage Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Utica, New York – 1st December, 1993
Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
WrestleMania 12 – 31st March, 1996
WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Bret Hart’s Induction
Chicago, Illinois – 1st April, 2006
Bret Hart Returns to Raw
Raw – 4th January, 2010
WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Shawn Michaels’ Induction
Atlanta, Georgia – 2nd April, 2011
Blu-ray Exclusive Moments
Vince McMahon Interviews Shawn Michaels & Bret Hart
Raw – 3rd February, 1997
Bret Hart Promo In Ring
Raw – 12th May, 1997
Hart Foundation Promo In Ring
Raw – 19th May, 1997
WWE Championship Match
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Survivor Series – 9th November , 1997
Blu-ray Exclusive Special Features
The First WWE Ladder Match
Winning the WWE Championship for the First Time
Bret’s WCW Regrets
Cameras Rolling Between Takes
Credit: Pwinsider.com Thoughts?
They devote an entire DVD to Bret v. Shawn and DON’T EVEN PUT THE MONTREAL MATCH ON THERE? Otherwise, that’s a whole lot of Bret v. Shawn. After viewing that DVD, you could safely say you’ve seen all of them you’ll ever need.
Here’s one thing that I was wondering about the other day: when WCW
used to do the Battlebowl/Lethal Lottery shows, were any of the
pairings really random? It would seem like a promotion with as many
talented workers as WCW had at that time would be able to start out
with some sense of who they wanted in the battle royale at the end,
and trust the guys to call the matches in the ring. Of course, if it
sounds silly asking whether something on a pro wrestling show was a
work or not, it’s worth remembering that this was a promotion that let
Sting and Jake blow off their big feud with a COAL MINER’S GLOVE
The pairings were all selected by the bookers, totally un-randomly. They didn’t trust the guys to do shit. The non-gimmicked wheel was just WCW stupidity, not an intentional effort to do anything unpredictable.
Back in the day when WCW and WWE (F) were both going strong, i always
wondered how the two companies decided where to book shows. I grew up
in Fresno and WWF always came at least once a year. WCW never made a
stop. WCW always played the Cow Palace in San Francisco, I cant recall
WWF doing that. Have any insight on this?
Yup. Back when the major promotions gave a shit about the individual promoters, each city would have a guy who set up the actual promotion from a local level, and basically they were either exclusively WCW or WWF (in exchange for whatever financial incentives, I’m sure) and god help anyone else who tried to break into that market. There’s some pretty famous stories about WWF coming into NWA markets and triggering a giant war of words and threats to the arenas and such, and it was deadly serious stuff at the time. Now, with WWE being the only game in town, things work totally different, given that they’re the only ones who can afford to run the bigger arenas anyway. But back then, the WWF would work a set circuit covering the Northeast and Northwest, whereas the NWA would hit their cities in the south, and the AWA would cover the North and Midwest. Everyone pretty much stuck to the same script.
With the quarterly WWE earnings report came the buy totals for second quarter pay-per-views. I think that everyone assumed that Capitol Punishment would be the dog-of-dogs, but in fact Over The Limit, headlined by a cage match with Cena, Miz, and Morrison, had only 140,000 buys (down from 197,000 in 2010), whereas the CP PPV with Cena vs R-Truth had 170,000 buys (compared to 143,000 last year, when the event was known as Fatal Four Way) A 25% drop from the previous year was reversed into a 20% gain this year, and I don’t think that all of that can be attributed to abandoning the Fatal Four Way concept.
So it seems that the R-Truth experiment that pretty much everybody panned when his push started has been a success. I don’t see them taking the focus off of Punk/Cena(/HHH) any time soon, but do you think the guy deserves to remain in the main event mix going forward?
Anyone new is always a good thing, but the whole “half-assed push for new guys” thing has become such a self-fulfilling prophecy that they had already undermined Truth’s push before they even got to the PPV. Dave Meltzer talks about this at length in the new Observer, and the buys listed are worldwide. Domestically both OTL and Punishment were unmitigated disasters, with Punishment in particular landing in fourth place overall on the biggest bomb scale. It’s really international PPV buys that are keeping the concept alive at this point. So hell yeah, put Truth or Morrison or Miz or whoever you want on top, it’s not like the numbers can get any worse. Still no word on numbers for Money In The Bank yet, but Punk is not moving house show numbers at all, and we all know what ratings have been like, so those banking on him becoming the next Rock or Austin are in for a rude awakening. House shows generally respond really quickly to a hot angle, and there’s nothing of the sort going on. Here in Saskatoon, for instance, there’s a RAW show with Cena and Punk both advertised pretty heavily around town, and tickets aren’t moving at all.
A simple question for the Blog:
With all this "Best in the World" stuff going around for Punk…is he?
Surely he’s one of them, but in your opinion is he truly THE best in
the world right now? Bryan might be a better wrestler, but not a
better talker. Joe’s a great wrestler AND talker, but he’s lost his
fire & is being misused at the moment. So who is the best right now?
Chael Sonnen. Best promo in UFC and he even managed to snowjob them into licensing him for another fight. Vince would love the guy. Oh, you wanted a real answer…sorry. I’d go with Davey Richards personally. He’s probably too small to make it in WWE as is, but he’s got the elusive “it factor” that makes him look like a star, and the Edwards match was an easy ***** for me. Unfortunately I think he’s risen to the level he’s realistically going to attain in the business, but stranger things have happened. Like Bryan getting a job with WWE and a solid push.
Your post about Tribute Moves got me thinking- what about when one wrestler steals another’s finisher? Obviously, since Rock/Austin it’s been done to death, but for my part at least I think sometimes it totally works, within the context of the story (off the top of my head, Jericho using Sweet Chin Music during his first feud with Michaels, with the whole feud being predicated on the idea that Jericho was the ‘new’ version of Michaels, was great, as was Michaels using the Razor’s Edge constantly in the buildup to the ladder match just to piss Razor off, and Yokozuna beating Hogan with the leg drop as sort of an ultimate, final middle finger from Vince to Hogan…and obviously the most famous example is Montreal). What do you think, though? Overdone? Situationally valid? Any particular favorite incidents of it?
First, I have a shitload of mailbag questions all of a sudden and I’m away from actual internet access, so I’m using my phone’s 3G connection best I can to update while I’m out of town. So fear not, I will try to get to everyone’s questions ASAP. Anyway, stolen finishers have become a bit of a trope in wrestling, where they went from a cool thing used sparingly into another part of the main event formula. I’ve noticed they’ve laid off on it as of late, which gives stuff like the HHH-Undertaker exchanges that much more pop. You don’t see Cena trying an Anaconda Vice on Punk, for example, or anyone trying to hit Randy Orton with an RKO or a punt. Not that anyone could execute a precision maneuver like the punt unless they had three generations of training like Orton. And the douchebag tattoos. But I digress. It can work pretty effectively in the right circumstances, like Cena modifying the F5 into the FU as a literal kayfabed FU to Brock Lesnar during their feud. And yeah, Yokozuna dropping the big leg on Hulk was epic. Back in the day, it was more common in the NWA as A Thing, with babyfaces doing the Four Horsemen’s big moves (Dusty appropriating the figure-four and DDT, or someone hitting Tully with the slingshot suplex, to name three off the top of my head) as a way to get good heat. So yeah, I like it in moderation, but it got a bit out of control in the 2001-2006 era when everyone was doing stunners to Steve Austin or Angle Slams to Kurt Angle and such.
Very long time reader…who cares? I’m curious if you can think of a better final match then Austin-Rock at WM 19 or Shawn-UT this year? Granted Austin, Shawn or UT may all come back at some point but does anything come close? Forgive me if UT came back, Punk has brought me back once again.
UT is still not technically back, although Shawn-UT was last year anyway. HHH v. UT was this year. Anyway, Rock-Austin was pretty great, but only **** great. And although it was Austin’s final match, Rock’s final one would have been the wacky Rock n Sock v. Evolution match at WM20, and that was even better. The problem of course becomes that no one ever goes away unless they die, so “final” match is a tough one to nail down. For instance, Terry Funk was looking to go out with a ***** match against Ric Flair back in 89, but then he came back a bunch of times. Shawn went out with a hell of a match, though.
I’ve already had to ban Stixxy today because he’s only been back for a day and I’m already sick of hearing from him, so let me just say this for the millionth time: I have zero tolerance for people trying to use this website as a forum for launching personal attacks or carrying on feuds from other boards or whatever. I was going to be nice about it with Stixxy by invoking a new rule where the first step would be moderating future comments before they were posted, but the first thing that came into the queue from him was a completely off-topic and rather vicious attack against a poster, so he’s gone. However, I do like that approach for reasonable people, so if someone is being a pest, that’ll be the first step.
Someone brought up the subject of the Google ads, and I’ll be pretty honest here — one of the reasons that I wanted to move back to my own server from LJ was that I can make money here, where I couldn’t do that on LJ. I’ve had bad experiences with ad programs in my previous sites, but I trust Google and I know they’re not going to be doing anything intrusive or generating pop-ups or whatever. I don’t need the revenue to pay for the site or anything, it’s just something I wanted to do to make a few extra bucks.
The SmarK DVD Rant for Arrested Development – The Second and Third Seasons
It’s a two-fer this time around, as I was ready to do the third season of the show, but then realized that I hadn’t done the second one yet, which triggered a huge AD marathon reviewing session for me over the past couple of weeks. That’s a lot of Mitch Hurwitz, man.
Now, I’m sure by now you know the story. AD bursts onto the Fox schedule, immediately wins the Best Comedy Emmy in its first year, and subsequently gets ignored and buried by the network, as they reduce the order, move it around the schedule, and do everything but cancel it to make sure it gets canceled. And yet through it all, Hurwitz and the writers maintain a brilliant vision of what a sitcom should be, redefining the genre and basically rendering the traditional “four camera” sitcom form a dead issue in many people’s minds.
The show’s true brilliance came in the form of the endless running jokes and callbacks it presented, however. Whereas most shows would do a running gag that lasted for one show, AD would present a gag that lasted for a whole SERIES. And much of the humor was derived from fans paying attention to stuff that happened in previous episodes, which would then come back to be paid off in later episodes.
There were two distinct types of running jokes featured, as well — individual and universal. The individual jokes were things like Gob’s endless parade of failed magic tricks, or Michael’s inability to formulate a plan that works, or George-Michael’s crush on his cousin Maeby. The universal jokes were lines like “I’ve made a huge mistake!” or “Well, that one was a freebie,” which could be said by different characters, in totally different contexts, on any show.
The Second Season
Featuring 18 episodes on 3 DVDs, the second season picks up with George Sr. on the run from the authorities and Michael vowing yet again to leave his family.
– “The One Where Michael Leaves.” The title is of course an allusion to the naming system for Friends, which will actually pay off in episode three’s title. That’s the kind of demented genius you’re dealing with here. So we pick things up with George-Michael and Michael on the run to Arizona to escape his family, despite all the “family first” stuff preached by him. However, when no one notices that they left, they decide to return so as to give their departure the impact it was lacking. First “I’ve made a huge mistake” of the season here, and the first foreshadowing of Oscar’s real relationship to Buster. Tobias doing Kegel exercises is an awesomely weird gag. The major plots see Michael looking for bail money in advance of being indicted, while Tobias joins the Blue Man Group to get over his marital problems, thinking it to be a support group for depressed men. A news report also foreshadows an upcoming seal attack in the show. Great running gag with Oscar getting clubbed by police, although the payoff reveals that it wasn’t Oscar at all.
– “The One Where They Build a House.” Michael decides to do a big ribbon-cutting party to help the company’s image, which sets up a HUGE rock-paper-scissors gag later on. Meanwhile, Gob buys a company boat (the Seaward), while Buster joins the army despite night blindness and a deformed reproductive organ. Another foreshadowing of Buster’s hand and his parentage, and George has made a huge mistake. Again. Gob turning a board meeting into a sideshow is great, and will be repeated for equal laughs through the series. Lindsay picks up Thomas “The Punisher” Jane, thinking him to be homeless, which sets up a callback to the “What’s wrong with —, there’s nothing wrong with —, oh, except they’re —” gag from season one. Tobias disguising himself in blue backgrounds is brilliant, and the final rock-paper-scissors gag (“Once again, Michael chose rock…”) is transcendent humor. “Ann / Who?” is also introduced here as a running joke. George Sr. is revealed to be in Mexico, which sets up the next episode’s title.
– “!Amigos!” The jokes in the TITLES are funnier than most stuff on TV these days. This one is notable for introducing Martin Mull as Private Eye Gene Parmesan (“AAAAAAAH! He got me again!”), master of disguise. Michael tries to gather a posse to get his father out of Mexico, while Lucille throws a going-away party for Buster, which introduces the “You’re Killing Me, Buster” banner that gets funnier with each recycling. Gob hires his own PI, Ice, to follow Michael, so Lucille hires Gene to follow Gob. Buster escapes to “Mexico,” but gets confused over distances and ends up elsewhere in the neighborhood, where he finds his old hand-chair and notes that he never thought he’d miss a hand so much. A surreal gag sees Ice searching for George from a picture printed on blueprint paper, which naturally leads him to a made-up Tobias. That’s the kind of joke it takes most sitcoms YEARS to build up to. Honestly, who would even THINK of a payoff like that?
– “Good Grief” The high concept humor continues with the best episode of the season. This one introduces Ben Stiller as Gob’s future nemesis, Tony Wonder, who once baked himself into a giant loaf of bread for the troops. The running gag here is an escalating series of Charlie Brown references, like a sign on the banana stand. George Sr. is declared dead, which God takes as the perfect chance to get on the cover of Poof Magazine. Great freeze-frame sight gag sees G-M walking past a doghouse in full Charlie Brown pout mode, with a sad-looking Christmas tree in the background. G-M finds Pop-Pop and hides him in the attic, although after promising no secrets with his father, Michael then turns around and tricks everyone into thinking that George Sr. had escaped again and re-hides him. Gob’s big illusion of course goes totally opposite to what was planned, with hilarious results. Tremendous episode!
– “Sad Sack.” Buster goes through boot camp, surprised to find that recent litigation by Wayne Jarvis prevents anyone from being called homo as a motivational technique. Luckily, Gob isn’t bound by that and is more than happy to help out. Steve Holt (“Steve Holt!”) returns as the object of Maeby’s affections (complete with a great freeze-frame gag involving his yearbook quotes), while Oscar is feeling cramped by Lucille’s affections. Wayne Jarvis (so serious that he was named “worst audience participant in Cirque De Soleil history”, according to him) offers Michael a deal in exchange for his father, which leads to Tobias borrowing Gob’s camera phone (which plays “The Final Countdown”, of course) and accidentally photographing himself in the tub. Thus, Jarvis goes after Michael with a mysterious picture of WMDs in Iraq which isn’t quite what it seems. Regardless, this bumps up George’s light treason to medium treason. Luckily for everyone, Barry Zuckercorn knows the difference between landscapes and balls.
– “Afternoon Delight” Gob is alienating people at work with his $3000 suit (“Come on!”) and it’s Christmas party time. G-M is having Christmas with Ann Egg, so Michael & Maeby decide to do some bonding without him. Sadly, their song choice at karaoke is a tad inappropriate. Gob and the escalating value of his suit is a great runner, leading to Gob firing the entire company. Oscar gives Lucille some “Afternoon Delight” in her brownie, and it all leads to Buster’s claw-game addiction paying off with Gob in a banana suit. More foreshadowing sees Buster carrying a stuffed seal around with him.
– “Switch Hitter” The past references come fast and furious, as Stan Sitwell returns to tempt Michael over to the dark (light?) side, although George and Gob think he’s just trying to recruit for his softball team. So of course Gob promptly takes a job with Sitwell, leaving Michael as the president again. More callbacks as Gob’s softball bonding with Sitwell brings back fond memories of being shanked in prison. Also returning is Teamocil, as Lindsay takes it for the side-effects (which are helpfully listed by the narrator as we go along). And in one of the most unlikely plot-twists in a while, Maeby accidentally gets a job as as a studio executive at Tantamount Studios. If Jude Law does a remake of “The Old Man and the Sea”, you’ll know who to blame.
– “Queen For A Day” More innuendo with Tobias, as he hits the town with Buster (“I’ll even take a chubby if I have to, and I’ll suck it up!”). Another crazy reference as Starla the Quincy Jones stalker returns for another cameo. Michael gets self-conscious about his staircar and gets a midlife-crisis-mobile instead. Buster and Tobias of course end up in a gay drag bar, where Tobias becomes a karaoke star and Buster hooks up with Lucille II again. However, she buys up the Bluth stock and takes over the company. So poor Buster gets turned into a bargaining chip, thus screwing him up even more. And speaking of screwed up, the Hot Cops return, leading to a disastrous street revue. Tobias commenting “I suppose I could paint over the Mary” make this one.
– “Burning Love” Lucille tries to find someone to bid on her at the annual auction in yet another callback. Michael meets Sally Sitwell, while Gob continues his disturbing new relationship with Lucille II, but neither wants to publicly admit it. Can you blame them? Quick cameo as Steve Holt returns as a boil-in-bag delivery guy. Rob Cordrey from the Daily Show has an inspired guest spot as TV cop Frank Wrench here. Michael, in his usual wishy-washy manner, finally makes his move on Sally, but life intervenes again.
– “Ready, Aim, Marry Me!” Lucille II grows tired of Gob, but the joke’s on her because she doesn’t realize how little Lucille Bluth actually cares about Gob. More brilliance from Tobias (“I prematurely shot my wad and now I’ve got a mess on my hands!”) as he decides to start tape-recording himself so he can hear all his malaprops. Lindsay & Gob doing chicken dances in tandem is worth the admission here. Michael calls in Uncle Jack to attempt a hostile takeover from Lucille II. Martin Short of course chews the scenery as the crippled old man (“Swoop me! To the nuts! No, the BRIDGE MIX!”) Gob & Buster go commando, tracking Lucille & Sitwell, which leads to all sorts of crazy payoffs as everyone collides at a spa. One of the season’s highlights, to be sure.
– “Out On A Limb” Great joke right away, as father & son go to lunches on a Sunday at a restaurant called Skip Church’s. Gob’s wife returns, suing for divorce, which Gob could avoid simply by admitting they never consummated it. But of course, that would never happen. Maggie the “blind” lawyer returns, now “pregnant”, some 8 1/2 months after the affair with Michael, which naturally has him flip-flopping more than usual. Buster is ready to ship off to Iraq as we get a callback to the God/Adam joke from season one, and George Sr. worries about never touching Buster’s hand again. And we finally confirm that Oscar is his real father. Ann converts Lucille (“This was a big get for God.”) and Maggie may actually be pregnant. And for the second time, something in the “On the next” bit comes true, as a seal (which Gob has released at the beginning of the show) bites off Buster’s hand. Note Buster sitting on a bench which reads “Arm Off” with him blocking key letters.
– “Hand To God” The Literal Doctor inform us that Buster is now without a left hand, which a drugged Buster takes a little too well. The funny restaurant names continue, as Maggie & Michael eat at Miss Temple’s Chinese Restaurant on a Friday. The “You’re Killing Me” banner return as “Welcome Home, Buster”. Michael discovers that Maggie is carrying the baby of the gay cops (not to be confused with the Hot Cops) but in fact Maggie Lizer lies again. The black and white cops not wanting to know who the real father is and Michael’s deadpan reaction are awesome.
– “Motherboy XXX” The annual Motherboy competition is in jeopardy, as Buster is having nightmares about his lost hand, courtesy of callbacks to earlier episodes. Great bit with Tobias getting a series of vanity plates to commemorate his lost roles, leading to a payoff of “Dr. House”, and he meets with Carl Weathers at Burger King (that’s BURGER KING, in case you missed the joke about corporate sponsorship). So he signs away the rights to his family’s life in exchange for a part as George Sr. The Bluth men chase the killer seal as Barry Zuckercorn literally jumps the shark in a tremendous throwaway gag. Michael & Buster attempt a daring rescue of George-Michael from Motherboy, in a gag with Buster’s hand that would be called back in season 3.
– “Immaculate Election” Lindsay kicks Tobias to the curb, and he goes to live on the set of Wrench in another callback. Turns out that the toilets on set don’t actually work. Who knew? Michael and Gob attempt to fire each other from the company, and Gob loses that one pretty handily. Lupe the Maid starts doing Buster and gets fired, so Tobias gets the role of a lifetime as a housekeeper, albeit in an obvious disguise. Michael talks G-M into running for student body president, but he’s running against the unstoppable force of Steve Holt, who is going through a crisis of conscience because he doesn’t know who his father is. And Gob keeps mentioning that he knocked up some chick in high school named Eve Holt. However, everything falls by the wayside of the awesomeness that is the Star Wars video here.
– “Sword of Destiny” Funny reference right off the bat as Michael complains about having an order cut from 22 to 18. Gee, wonder what that’s referring to? Tobias (wearing a faker moustache than usual because of his Mrs. Featherbottom routine) tries to become Michael’s assistant, while Gob buys the SWORD OF DESTINY. Michael has appendicitis, and gets Homer Simpson as a doctor in place of the Literal Doctor (“No, no, let him keep talking.”) More Fox references as Family Guy pops up on Tony Wonder’s website. Buster and Gob manage to one-up Tony Wonder with the SWORD OF DESTINY. Sadly, Gob loses his fingers as a result. Ben Stiller is of course in full-on ham mode. Gotta love the Fox-bashing here.
– “Meat the Veals” Historic episode, as we meet Gob’s racist puppet alter-ego, Franklin! The Bluths are planning an anniversary party for Gangy, although Gob is not so much with the invited. Michael, constantly trying to sabotage his son’s relationship, decides that having the Veals meet the Bluths would probably do the trick. Of course, his plan goes totally off the tracks and everyone is on their best behavior for a variety of unrelated reasons. Mrs. Veal makes a move on Michael, and the whole thing turns into a big crazy church scene, ending with Franklin getting arrested in an awesome finale.
– “Spring Breakout” Another great meta-joke sees the narrator bitching about the narration of “Scandalmakers”, the documentary Tobias sold the rights to. Lucille adds her own version of the chicken dance, while Gob goes to war with the Girls With Low Self-Esteem producers who humiliated him on their last DVD. Michael brings Lucille to rehab, while Kitty brings George Sr. to a hotel room for his sperm. This leads to a mismatched drinking contest between Kitty and Lucille, and we learn that Zach Braff is a Never-Nude, too.
– “The Righteous Brothers” The model house is falling apart, literally, along with Michael’s life. Kitty keeps trying to blackmail him, and Gob makes a Franklin CD (“It Ain’t Easy Being White”) which gets referenced a zillion times and is funny EVERY time. Tobias and Kitty flashing Michael with matching blur over their nipples is brilliant. Michael goes to jail because Gob is an idiot as usual. G-M and Maeby finally have their big moment, which is of course weird. And once again, Michael & Gob brawl in front of the courthouse, until George Sr. puts a stop to it and turns himself in. Although he turns in Oscar, which reduces the nobility of the act somewhat. And that’s season 2.
Sadly, this season was cut down by Fox even further, reduced to 13 episodes, but much like concentrating a good sauce for flavor, this may have distilled the show down to the essence of brilliance, forcing them to cut away any excess left. It’s presented on two sad little DVDs in a single case, instead of the box set format of the first two.
– “The Cabin Show”. The Bluth stock is upgraded from “Sell” to “Don’t Buy”, and Michael sells the cabin property to keep the company afloat, but has to move the cabin. This triggers all sorts of family issues (“Taste the sad!”) as Gob is learning life lessons all over the place, according to the narrator. Speaking of family issues, Oscar is in prison in George’s place (sadly, imoscar.com is no longer with us). Everyone heads to Reno looking for George, where Gob finds Steve Holt and fatherhood. Michael & G-M finally get to the cabin and camp out in a callback to the pilot, and Henry Winkler ends his role as Barry Zuckercorn, as Michael fires him.
– “For British Eyes Only” And it’s the beginning of the greatest run of the show. George is now under house arrest and the credits are gone for this episode. George explains the difference between prison and house arrest — “There you shut your eyes and take it, but here you shut your eyes and give it” — and blames the British for his situation. So Michael heads to Wee Britain, a very specialized portion of the OC (“Don’t call it that”) and meets Rita Leeds. This earns some threats from a sinister Brit played by Dave Thomas, although his apparent motivations for doing so are much different than we later discover. Michael eats a “whole thing of candy beans” to cope with rejections. It blows my mind how well-written this was, and how you totally buy into the spy storyline and take it all at face value until the pull the rug out from under you. By the way, no one was making fun of Andy Griffith, I can’t emphasize that enough.
– “Forget-Me-Now” So we meet the new Bluth lawyer, Scott Baio playing Bob Loblaw. We also meet Larry the Surrogate, played by Bob “Super Dave” Einstein, as they compete to see who can be more deadpan in the face of great lines. Einstein always wins that one. We also learn that Tobias, who was buy-curious in the last episode, is also an analrapist. Michael tries to find ways to keep Rita from meeting his family. Bob Loblaw charging Lindsay for phone sex is great. Buster’s banner is recycled yet again into “You’re kidding me” And of course Rita ends up meeting the family,and gets assaulted and left on a bus bench, which covers up key letters in “Wee Britain,” giving us another clue as to her real character.
– “Notapusy” Michael and Rita have a misunderstanding over the word “pussy”, while an inner beauty pagaent sees Tobias coaching Ann (“Who?”), which gives Maeby the perfect chance to resurrect Shirley. Tobias: “You have to ask yourself if you want a man or a boy. I know how I’d answer!” Uncle Mike acts as surrogate dad for Steve Holt (“Uncle Mike!”) although the “oxy-incontinent” makes it tougher than usual to run a triathalon. More clues about Rita here. And Ann’s camel-tow? Awesome.
– “Mr. F.” Oh my, all roads lead to this one. Michael finds a mole problem on the property, but Bob Loblaw suspects a figurative mole, who may be Rita. All they know is that the name is Mr. F. George orders a jetpack, which ends up in the hands of G-M, while Gob & Buster build a trainset town to fool Japanese investors. And of course it all leads to Tobias in a mole costume taking on George Michael in a jetpack as they fight over Tiny Town. Sheer brilliance. And then, as Michael proposes to Rita, we learn that Mr. F stands for something else entirely, and suddenly the whole British story arc makes a lot more sense. Possibly the best episode of the whole SERIES.
– “The Ocean Walker” This may be the second-best. Michael announces his engagement to Rita, which gives us lots of jokes about how dumb she really is. Plus a reference to Tony Hale’s VW commercial to boot. Maeby green-lights a script called “The Ocean Walker,” which pays off later. Gob’s fireball running joke continues (“But where did the lighter fluid come from?”) and another great moment has the narrator interjecting his opinion of the weirdness of the Michael-Rita relationship and hotel phone prices. That’s how they get you, you know. Double callback to Buster’s wire-slide from Motherboy XXX and Michael’s problems with Mary Poppins here. Michael finally learns what’s going on with Rita, but the Bluths learn that she’s rich and set about getting them married ASAP. The candy beans return as well. Rita walks on water to pay off the Ocean Walker bit, and then THAT is further paid off in the “On the next…” bit. And that’s how you do a running joke.
– “Prison Break-in” I think the reference material should be obvious from the title. Michael is so desperate for comforting after his breakup with Rita that he actually goes to his mother. After two years of raising money for “TBA”, the Bluths use Tobias and his hair plug issues to actually have a benefit for a real disease. Sort of. The gala is at the prison, so we get more of aspiring screenwriter Warden Gentles. The interludes with the elementary school production of “New Warden” help a lot with the narrative flow. The narrator’s non-stop stream of pot jokes is also awesome (leading up to “Although it was not the first time that he had been knocked out by a powerful lid”) This one also packs the Prison Break references in tight, with tattooed maps and Tobias calling himself “T-Bag” in between jokes about giving other people chlamydia.
– “Making a Stand” Michael is frustrated with Gob’s stupid business ideas (and those of his lackey-in-training Steve Holt) but realizes that his dad is just trying to play them off each other, like in the Boyfights videos they starred in as children. So in order to be less competitive, Michael gives God & Steve their own banana stand, which they proceed to set up, like, 20 feet from the original. Gob mentions a new Christian girlfriend, which pays off later in the series. And when the Bluth boys realize that George is playing them, they reintroduce us to one-armed lesson teacher J. Walter Weatherman. However, in typical fashion for the show, Michael’s master plan gets twisted in on itself. And the Funke’s divorce gets ugly, as we learn about Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog. And everyone learns lots of lessons about learning lessons.
– “SOBs” The Bluths are desperate, as Bob Loblaw lobs a law bomb and they need a new lawyer. And it means guest stars, a live ending, and someone will DIE. G-M seems to be developing OC disorder (but don’t call it that). And sadly, the HBO doesn’t want them, so it’s Showtime. The Andy Richter Quintuplets rule the school here. Lots of metatextual stuff like Michael pleading with the family to be more likeable and the narrator explaining the difference between a complex situation with no easy solution and a clear-cut situation with potential for comedy. Michael’s speech at the end is pretty much the show’s good-bye to fans, as the end was clearly in sight.
– “Fakin’ It” The witness list is released and a mysterious N. Bluth is on it. Plus Franklin, now sporting a “George Bush doesn’t care about black puppets” shirt, returns. Of course, the whole trial is set to be broadcast on a new reality show, “Judge Reinhold” (“My name is Judge!”) Buster fakes a coma to avoid testifying, so Lindsay begins protesting to have him killed. It’s a Life Mill at that hospital, you know. The mock trial of course proves to be a mockery, complete with William Hung and his Hung Jury, which is about as good a use of him as I’ve seen. And then through a weird series of coincidences, Maeby marries George-Michael.
– “Family Ties” The mysterious N. Bluth may be an older sister named Nellie, but his dad’s mass-erasure of the company computers makes it tough to investigate. Sadly, Nellie (played by Justine Bateman in some truly inspired casting) turns out to be a hooker rather than his sister. As usual Michael misses all the clues, and hires her as a consultant. And she blows everyone at the company…away. They keep forgetting to say that “away” part. And apparently God is a pimp on the side, but he’s still waiting for that BIG sign from God that he should change.
– “Exit Strategy” The prosecution tries to get Tobias to flip, but he interprets it as a CBS procedural show. Buster’s fake coma is broken by love, and we get a great joke with Wayne Jarvis turning on the TV to show a plot point, but having to sit through commercials first. Tobias getting tricked into a sting operation via a scrapbooking class run by Det. Munch is brilliant. Michael & Buster go to Iraq to save Gob, as everythign is now yellow-tinged to simulate being in Iraq while still using the same set. And once there, they discover a house full of Saddam lookalikes, which reveals that George was building houses for the CIA and really was a patsy all along. Gary Cole as the CIA taxi driver and the Soup Nazi as a lookalike are great casting.
– “Development Arrested” And finally, the end. Things are looking good with all the charges dropped, so they decide to stage a party on the same boat as we started on. We learn that Lucille was the queen-pin all along, and she had a Korean man deported years earlier. And Lindsay is three years older than she previously thought. G-M finally confesses his feelings about Maeby to Michael, and he recommends Ann instead. This leads to us learning that she’s Gob’s new girlfriend. Lindsay is actually adopted and not Michael’s twin as previously thought (although all the flashbacks where she’s a foot taller might have been a giveaway before) and she immediately decides to marry Michael and leave Tobias. Michael is less thrilled about that idea. Michael finally pays off all the robot jokes and cries at the party, and then flees with George-Michael, the yacht, and $500,000 to finally escape the family once and for all, leaving them to get raided by the SEC. We learn that Annyong tipped them off to avenge his grandfather, who was the one deported by Lucille years ago.
It was Arrested Development. Nuff said.
As Fox switched to high-definition full-time, this show went with it, and is featured in breathtaking 1.77:1 widescreen here with the absolute best transfer of a TV show I’ve ever seen. EVER. It’s far better than even the pristine initial airings of the show on regular broadcast cable looked, and the level of detail and color in the high-def masters is amazing. This is truly reference-quality stuff.
Well, it’s standard Dolby Surround, which is too bad because gags mixed into the rear speakers would be exactly the kind of thing that this show would excel at. Still, it sounds note perfect for a dialogue-centered show, and that’s the important thing.
Surprisingly light on both sets, as there’s a few commentary tracks from the entire cast and crew which set the standard for totally ignoring the show and concentrate on calling Jeffrey Tambor’s cell phone instead. Plus a bevy of deleted scenes on each disk, and a few quickie featurettes. I guess it’s par for the course given FOX’s treatment of the show.
The Show: *****
The Video: *****
The Audio: **1/2
The Extras: **1/2
Hands down the smartest sitcom ever, and that’s including Frasier, it was truly a show that came around at the wrong time on the wrong channel. On the bright side, FOX gave it three wonderful seasons before pulling the plug on it, and now we can all enjoy it forever on DVD.
Highest recommendation for both seasons.
The SmarK DVD Rant for Ring of Honor: Joe v. Kobashi.
Gotta admire them for honesty in the titles.
Anyway, I previously had done a review of the main event on the blog, but I figured that I’d sit down and do the whole show because I wanted to watch the match again, just for kicks. Or in this case, chops.
– Taped from Manhattan, NY
– Your hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
Colt is still his fun-loving self at this point, so it looks like Homicide has not yet ruined his life. Claudio starts with a wristlock, but Colt takes him down with an armdrag and controls the arm. They dodge each other for a stalemate, but Cabana monkey-flips him and keeps on the armdrags. Claudio catches him with a European uppercut to take over, and throws a seated forearm for two. A quick try at a surfboard submission gets two, and a delayed vertical suplex is unexpectedly reversed to a small package for two when he holds it too long. Oh, nice spot. Claudio keeps coming with the inverted suplex for two, but Cabana dumps him and takes too long with a quebrada attempt, so Claudio heads back in. Cabana charges into the corner with a high knee and a butt-butt in the other corner to set up a lariat for two. Claudio comes back with a spinning neckbreaker for two, but Colt elbows out of another move and sets up to finish. He gets distracted by Homicide’s lackeys, however, and Claudio finishes with the, uh, Ricolabomb.
(Claudio Castagnoli d. Colt Cabana, powerbomb — pin, 7:48, **1/2) A good opener, nothing spectacular. Claudio’s Euro-trash gimmick is fairly interesting, however.
– Matt Sydal v. Christopher Daniels v. Azrieal
Gotta say, as long as the allusion is biblical and not Smurf, Azrieal is right up there with the coolest wrestling names I’ve heard. This is elimination rules, according to the DVD packaging. Daniels gets a big-time star reaction here. Armdrags galore to start and Sydal briefly teams with Azrieal before they turn on each other. Sydal chops on Az in the corner, but gets powerbombed by Azrieal for two. Daniels gets a leg lariat on Az for two, and the crowd is clearly behind Daniels here. Az snaps off a rana on Daniels and goes back to chopping Sydal, and it leads to a nice spot where Daniels monkey-flips Sydal into an Az powerbomb attempt, but then clotheslines both guys to take over. Backbreaker on Sydal and he adds a chop in the corner, but Sydal goes up. Daniels tries to bring him down with a superplex, but Sydal fights him off and launches off Az with a tornado DDT on Daniels for two. A crowd member comments “You fucking suck, Azrieal!” Ouch. Az gets a cobra clutch slam on Daniels to set up a Sydal legdrop for two, and they double-team him. However, that goes badly and Daniels easily comes back with a simultaneous bulldog and clothesline on them. That’s awesome. He kills them with clotheslines and powerbombs Sydal for two. Azrieal takes advantage of the distraction and clotheslines Daniels off the top for two, setting up a guillotine legdrop with Daniels between the ropes. Sydal turns on Az again and gets a leg lariat for two. Daniels bails, so Sydal follows him out with a rana from the apron to the floor, and Az adds a pretty lame pescado onto them. Back in, the kids slug it out and Az gets a leg lariat for two. They head up and Sydal brings him down with a top rope belly to belly to eliminate him at 9:26.
That leaves us with Daniels v. Sydal, and he gets a couple of quick rollups for two, but Daniels PLASTERS him with a lariat. That’s a case where the Jannetty Sell works. Backdrop suplex gets two for Daniels. Death Valley Driver gets two. I like the addition of ramming his back into the turnbuckle, but he should go all Oklahoma Stampede with it and do it into all four. Sydal fights back with chops and an enzuigiri, and a standing moonsault gets two. Sydal goes up with a high cross for two. Rollup gets two. Daniels finishes with the Angel’s Wings to put him away, however.
(Daniels d. Sydal & Azrieal, Angels Wings — pin Sydal, 13:02, **3/4) Azrieal looked totally out of place with those two, and it would have been a better match one-on-one. Finish was kind of out-of-nowhere, too.
– ROH Tag titles: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs v. Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke
Mamaluke and Whitmer take it to the mat to start, as Whitmer powers out of an armbar and brings in Jacobs. Rinauro comes in as well and gets overpowered and armdragged. He catches an armbar, however, and brings Mamaluke back in for a rollup that gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. He dropkicks the knee and goes after the leg, but then goes to a camel clutch. Sal comes in and Mamaluke dumps him on Jacobs for two. Whitmer comes in and tries a DDT on Mamaluke, but Tony blocks with a choke, so BJ suplexes him into the corner instead. How is Mamaluke not paralyzed yet? Jacobs comes in with a chop off the top and they use the CLUBBING FOREARMS in a comedy spot. Jacobs drops some elbows for two. We learn that tagging someone’s boot is legal, as the champs double-team Mamaluke into jelly and Whitmer powerbombs Jacobs onto him for two. Mamaluke fights him off with a double-knee and makes the tag to Rinauro, who comes in with a flying rana on Jacobs. Back to Whitmer, who hits Sal with a rolling suplex and misses a big boot, but catches a lariat instead. Mamaluke has apparently made a blind tag and comes in kicking, then takes BJ down with an armbar. This turns into a triangle choke, but BJ powers him into the turnbuckle to break. Back to Jacobs, who goes up into Doomsday Device position, and hits Mamaluke with a rana off Whitmer’s shoulders for two. That’s quite the finisher. Whitmer keeps going after Mamaluke, however, and goes up, but Sal dropkicks him to the floor. Jacobs also tries to bring Mamaluke down, but gets powerbombed as a result. Sal gets an enzuigiri and they hit a double-team DDT for the titles? Did not see that coming.
(Sal Rinauro & Tony Mamaluke d. BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs, Rubik’s Cube Driver — pin Jacobs, 13:48, **1/2) This was kind of a meandering match, hovering between comedy and serious, and it didn’t really feel like it had the tag formula that most good tag matches do.
ROH Pure Wrestling title: Nigel McGuinness v. Jay Lethal
Nigel’s arrogant pre-match promo is great stuff. Lethal takes him down with a headscissors to start, but Nigel powers out of it. Another headscissors by Lethal, but Nigel escapes again, and walks away from a chop attempt. Can’t blame him. Nigel takes him down with an armbar and slugs away, blocking chops at the same time, and takes him down again with a neck vice. They trade stuff out of a knucklelock and Lethal bicycle kicks him and follows with chops, before Nigel takes him down with a leglock. Lethal resists the temptation to use up a rope break and fights out, then pounds him with forearms in the corner. He whips Nigel into the corner, where he does a headstand and mulekicks Lethal after luring him into a blind charge. Lethal bails and recovers before heading back in. Nigel goes to work on the arm with a single-arm DDT and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, and then kicks him in the back when he pulls himself up. NASTY. Lethal escapes another attempt and this time avoids the headstand kick by chopping him down. Spinebuster and he blocks a blind charge, following with a leg lariat on Nigel for two. Nigel avoids a dragon suplex, but Lethal gets a backdrop suplex anyway and goes up with a diving headbutt for two. A superkick sets up a leglock submission by Lethal, forcing Nigel to use a rope break. However, Nigel uses his trusty iron behind the ref’s back for the pin.
(Nigel McGuinness d. Jay Lethal, iron — pin, 10:59, ***) Match was nothing special, but Nigel is going to be a superstar once the WWE steals him.
– Jimmy Rave v. Roderick Strong
Prince Nana’s valet-on-a-leash routine cracks me up. Rave dodges Strong to start and grabs a headlock, and they trade chops in the corner. Strong wins that one, sending Rave to the floor. Back in, Rave goes to the headlock again and stays on that, but Strong suplexes out of it and whips him into the corner. A couple of more of those and Rave bails, so Strong baseball slides him into the railing and adds another chop. Nana distracts him, however, and Rave sends him into the railing to take over. Back in, a suplex gets two. Rave adds a Brutus Beefcake stomp and a neckbreaker for two, and he goes into a neck vice. Strong comes back with a crossbody for two, but Rave hits a lariat to the back of the neck to slow him up, and gets two. Choking sets up another neckbreaker for two. Roderick fights back with forearms, but Rave takes him down with a legsweep into a submission, which gets two. Strong fights out with chops and a backdrop, and a dropkick gets two. Backbreaker sets up a Boston Crab, but Rave makes the ropes. Sunset flip is blocked by Rave, but Strong reverses for two. A uranage variation of the backbreaker puts Rave down, and a big boot gets two for Strong. Running forearm into a backbreaker gets two. Another one is reversed by Rave and he spears Strong, into a Snow Plow for two. Nana throws a chair in, but Strong gets the gutbuster into the Stronghold (ha!) to finish.
(Roderick Strong d. Jimmy Rave, Boston Crab — submission, 13:43, ***) I really like the psychology of Strong shown here, which we never see in TNA. Instead of just being the guy who does backbreakers, here he does them to soften the back and get an easy submission from a back-related submission move.
Ricky Reyes v. Pelle Primeau
This would be the standard post-intermission ROH nothing match. Seems like it’ll be a squash. Reyes kicks him down to start and gets a backdrop suplex, into a demon bomb and choke to finish.
(Ricky Reyes d. Pelle Primeau, chokehold — submission, 0:50, DUD)
James Gibson v. Jimmy Yang.
This being the debut for Yang and the swan song for Gibson would seem to telegraph the finish, but you never know with Gabe. Some of the fans prematurely shoot their streamers for this match, which is pretty Freudian, I suppose. They fight over a lockup to start and Gibson takes him down, and they reverse until it’s a stalemate. They fight over a wristlock and Yang takes him down with a headlock, and they work off that. Yang holds on to frustrate him, but Gibson reverses to a rollup for two. Gibson starts working on the arm, but Yang spinkicks him in the corner to break. Nice armdrag sequence from Gibson, however, sets up a neckbreaker for two. Legdrop gets two, and he keeps Yang on the ground with a headscissors. Yang fights out and gets a SWEET kick combination for two, and now it’s his turn to go after the arm.
Gibson fights out and dumps Yang, then follows with a suicide dive, sending both guys into the front row. Given that the railing is about a foot away from the ring, that’s not hard, but still. Back in, Gibson comes off the top, and Yang catches him with a spinkick. Superkick gets two. They trade pinfall attempts and do the Flair sequence before clotheslining each other for a double KO. Gibson recovers first with a high knee and backdrop, into a spinebuster for two. Yang comes back with a moonsault press for two and another spinkick, and he goes up again. Yang Time misses and Gibson DDTs him into an awkward attempt at the tiger bomb which he turns into a choke, but Yang rams him into the corner to escape. Another crack at Yang Time hits, but only gets two. Back up again, but Gibson brings him down and powerbombs him into the corner, and another powerbomb gets two. I would have sworn that was the finish, but the choke ends up doing it.
(James Gibson d. Jimmy Yang, guillotine choke — submission, 15:49, ***1/2) Good exit for Gibson before going on to the much more gratifying role of being one-half of The Pitbulls on the most boring wrestling show on TV.
Homicide v. Jack Evans
They trade wristlocks to start and Evans showboats on the escape, which Homicide mocks him for. Homicide takes him down with a monkey-flip, and Evans returns the favor, but neither can take advantage. Homicide dances and the crowd chants “You Got Served” in a funny moment. Evans sends him out with a headscissors and follows with a somersault tope. Back in, running knee gets two, but Homicide hits him with a backbreaker and t-bone suplex for two. Evans catches a rana for two, but Homicide clotheslines him down again and gets a half-crab. Nice bit of dickery as he yanks on Evans’ hair and makes his head touch his foot until the ref breaks it up. Into the Tree of Woe for a sliding dropkick from Homicide, which he follows with a guillotine legdrop. Blind charge hits boot and Evans tries to come back, but he walks into a swinging DDT from Homicide that gets two. Blind charge misses, however, and Evans goes up, but Homicide crotches him right away. Evans recovers with a 450 butt splash for two. That could have ended badly for someone. Homicide bails and gets dropkicked into the front row as a result, and Evans follows with a springboard senton. Back in, Evans gets caught up with the rest of Homicide’s posse, before getting a springboard dropkick on Homicide for two. They head up and Homicide gets an Implant DDT for two. Evans is pretty much dead, but he fights off the Cop Killer, so Homicide takes him down with the Ace Crusher. Homicide lets him up and finishes with the lariat, but doesn’t cover, because Colt Cabana is on the balcony cutting a funny promo against him. This gives Evans the chance to hit an inverted rana and roll him up.
(Jack Evans d. Homicide, rollup — pin, 13:39, **1/2) This was going fine until it just died when Cabana turned it into an angle.
– At this point, the announcers sign off and let us have the live atmosphere.
Samoa Joe v. Kenta Kobashi.
And now, the main event, which is truly one in every sense of the word. Although Joe gets a big reaction, the entrance of Kobashi is like Hulk Hogan coming into the building or something.
Joe throws a kick to start while they lock up, thus annoying fans right off the bat. Once they get to the ropes, he adds a slap, and thus makes it clear who the babyface will be. Another lockup and Kobashi chops him so hard that you can almost feel it through the screen, and they fight over a knucklelock. Joe suplexes out of it and tackles him down, then baseball slides him into the railing and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, that gets two. Elbowdrop gets two. Joe goes to a chinlock, which he turns into a neck vice, so Kobashi makes the ropes to break. He tries throwing some chops in the corner, but that just pisses Kobashi off and he returns fire. Joe goes with kicks instead, a smart move, and knocks him down with an enzuigiri. He adds the short kicks to really rub it in, but that pisses Kobashi off even MORE, so Joe has to knee him in the face to put him down this time. Oh, this is sick and awesome and tremendous. Joe kicks him down and drops a knee, and Kobashi bails.
On the floor, Joe throws him into the railing and follows with the Ole Kick , but he gets sloppy and Kobashi chops him on the second attempt, and then chops him into the front row. That’ll learn him! He adds a DDT on the floor and they head back in for a facelock from Kobashi, but he decides just to chop Joe instead. How does he do that shit without taking off skin? Running knees and the big chop to the chest follow, for two. Back to the facelock, which he tries to turn into a suplex, but Joe reverses to his own. Kobashi keeps throwing chops, so Joe keeps kicking, and when that doesn’t work, they get into the nastiest chopfest ever. The sweat flying off is one of those images you don’t forget. Joe loses that one and Kobashi gets two. Abdominal stretch for Kobashi, but Joe makes the ropes. Kobashi gives him another chop for two. He goes to a neck vice and chops him on the bridge of the nose for good measure.
Joe blocks the spinning chop and takes him down with a uranage, and a senton follows as he makes the comeback after all the abuse. He throws chops in the corner and goes for a powerbomb, but Kobashi fights him, so he powerbombs him into the turnbuckle instead. Facewash time! Muscle Buster gets two as the crowd freaks out a little bit. Joe throws some UFC-style knees to the head and tries the choke, but Kobashi escapes, so he powerbombs him instead for two and turns it into the STF. This leads to one of the most awesome sequences of the match, as Kobashi looks likely to tap and the crowd chants “Please don’t tap.” Then every time he makes it to the ropes, Joe cuts off another body part and makes it look like he’ll tap. Finally he stretches his foot over and forces the break. Joe thinks it over and goes with a charge, but Kobashi chops him into a half-nelson suplex for a double-KO. And now, the most awesome sequence of the match, as Joe struggles to the corner and Kobashi absolutely destroys him with chops, throwing upwards of 70 of them and turning Joe’s chest into hamburger. He keeps throwing chops to knock Joe down and out, then adds another suplex for two, as Joe grabs the ropes on instinct to break.
Joe makes one more comeback attempt, but runs into a sleeper, which Kobashi turns into a suplex that should have finished in any other universe. Joe is done and Kobashi is all fired up, but Joe fights back with chops until Kobashi schools him with his own and ends the suffering with a lariat.
(Kenta Kobashi v. Samoa Joe, lariat — pin, 22:15, *****) Even with the insane amounts of hype that it had going on and the reputation it has gained since then, I was still not disappointed. It was a great battle of manly stoicism between two guys who just let it all hang out for the fans and beat each other into hamburger as a result. The crazy stuff like Kobashi’s million chops in the corner, where you think that he’s going to stop and then he picks up the pace again, were amazing. And the crowd reaction was one of the most rabid I’ve ever heard, especially when they started freaking out with Kobashi in the STF/crossface sequence, trying to figure out how he can make the ropes. And the finish was tremendous too, with Joe throwing everything he had at Kobashi and not being able to beat him, and then Kobashi just patiently beating Joe into unconsciousness and getting the pin. Tremendous stuff, and a ***** match for sure. It was like what a great heavyweight title fight would translate to in wrestling terms, basically.
While the rest of the show was largely forgettable, the DVD is worth the purchase for the main event alone, which is probably why they called it “Joe v. Kobashi.”
Highest recommendation for the main event.
The Princess’ ECW Report.
“Live” from Reading, PA
If this report sounds a little flat, please understand that my area is under a tropical storm and flood watch. Of course I pretty much live on sea level so a car wash is enough to cause a flood.
— We open the show with “Mr. Heyman” and he talks about his concept and his life and this and that…I loved Heyman promos much more in the 80s-90s as Paul E. Dangerously. It’s hard to generate a real hatred for the guy because he’s been put out there so much in the past 10 years. Oh yeah he promises to pin Sabu. I’m psyched.
Rob Van Dam vs. Hardcore Holly. Not a horrible choice for an opener. Slugfest to start but RVD hits a savate kick and clotheslines ol’ Sparky Plugg over the top. They take it to the floor and RVD hits his legdrop off the ring apron onto Holly. RVD continues hammering away but Holly tries to counter with the Alabama Slam. RVD goes on defense to block it but Holly just dumps him over the top. That was effective. Holly adds a standing legdrop and works the chin. Yay a resthold, now that’s hardcore. Resthold doesn’t last long however, as Holly gets a BEAUTIFUL drop kick for two. Holly lays on some DOWN HOME SOUTHERN VIOLENCE~! in the corner but RVD counters the blind charge. Two clotheslines and another savate kick gets two. RVD hits the windmill kick and rolling thunder but Hardcore escapes the five-star. Holly grabs a chair but misses and RVD hits another spin kick. Something tells me that was supposed to be a Van Daminator but Holly blew the spot. RVD, rightfully pissed, grabs the chair and waffles Holly with it to draw the DQ. Good lord, why does ECW have DQs? It’s stupid. (Holly d. RVD — disqualification, **1/2). Solid opener but probably needed another three minutes. Of course the ICW is going to bitch about Holly, but he looked good and I think he’ll work in the brand and these two will mesh to have some decent matches.
— Rene Dupree continues trying to channel the awesomeness that was Rick “The Model” Martel and failing miserably.
Oh no, the Big Show is going to speak. Nothing good can come out of this. Yadda yadda yadda, “I am the most dominating in ECW…I destroyed DX….Hell in the Cell…mmmm Beefy…” Show challenges DX to a handicap match next week there in ECW. Well at least he kept it fairly short.
— “The Reject” Shannon Moore is ready to fight the power. Dude, Public Enemy did that 18 years ago. Talk about recycling catchphrases.
C.M. Punk vs. Stevie Richards. Crowd gets a C.M Punk chant going already. Wrestling sequence starts things off and both guys no sell chops. Punk disposes of Stevie and follows it with a suicide dive. Richards turns the tide with a couple of knees and a suplex that gets a fast two. Richards gets creative with a lower abdominal bearhug but Punk hits a dropkick on a counter and a few more kicks to take control again. Punk executes a double-armed powerbomb into a backbreaker for two. That looked impressive. Richards makes another feeble comeback attempt but a urinage and the anaconda vice ends things. ( C.M. Punk d. Richards, anaconda vice — submission, **1/4) Another decent Punk outing although the crowd really didn’t respond like they have been thus far.
— Another trailer from “The Marine” with EXCLUSIVE~! commentary from John Cena. Time for some Crystal Light.
— Matt Striker tries to get some cheap heat. I will admit the little tie is a cute touch but Shane Douglas pulled off this gimmick a million times better despite bitching about it the whole time. Striker rips on The Sandman until he answers the call but Striker hits him with the blackboard and works him over with a stapler. Not exactly Brian Pillman with the fork, but I can appreciate the attempt. Striker quickly escapes before Sandman can rally.
— Balls Mahoney gets ready to go into his usual spiel when Kelly Kelly interrupts him. Yeah, she’s an exhibitionist and that is an exhibition in poor acting.
— Styles and Tazz talk about Kurt Angle and give him some kind, parting words. The WWE has treated this with some class and it’s a sad state of affairs that I am a little surprised that. But Vince has made me skeptical.
— Sabu cuts a promo and sounds like he’s from Bombay….Bombay, Michigan…Why not just call him Terry “The Arabian” Brunk?
Sabu vs. Paul Heyman. Right away Heyman sends his security force after him but Sabu fights them off. The Big Show joins in and it quickly becomes a 3-on-1…well if you include Heyman it’s more like a 3.5-on-1. Sabu is busted open with a chair shot from Show and Heyman even gets some slaps in before laying on the badmouth. Pretty decent badmouth too. Big Show orders the goons to bring in a table as Heyman lays in some weak looking punches. This really isn’t the way to suck in viewers. Sabu tries to rally but a clothesline puts a quick end to that. Sabu tries a second rally and a headbutt ends it this time. RVD comes it to save the day and a Van Daminator puts Show on the canvas. RVD hits a somerset plancha on the security guards. Sabu finally gets a hold of Heyman and gives him an Arabian facebuster. RVD places Heyman on the table for Sabu to do damage but Show saves him at the last second. Hardcore Holly runs in and puts RVD through the table. Show does the sleeper/backbreaker combo and the showstopper legdrop on Sabu before dragging Heyman’s lifeless body and placing it on Sabu for the three count. (Heyman d. Sabu, Big Show/Hardcore Holly/Security Force/National Guard of Minnesota interference — pin, DUD). Show chokeslams Sabu through a table for good measure. Didn’t do much for me overall but the chaos to end the show isn’t a bad idea. Hello they could have tossed Knox and Dreamer into the run-in fest and went crazy with it. There’s nothing wrong with a wild brawl in ECW, that’s partially how the federation reached its height of success.
The Bottom Line: Ok, there’s a good and a bad. The bad is that the Sabu-Big Show feud really isn’t going anywhere and Paul Heyman is just hard to buy as the evil dictator boss guy. The good is that people are getting matched up as the brand builds towards its PPV. I’ve seen worse than Holly-RVD and I’m even willing to give Striker-Sandman a chance. Unfortunately the brand will continue (for now) without Angle, who was supposed to be one of the building blocks to help get the brand through this infancy. It’s really a sad ending to what turned out to be a very successful career and I hope Angle gets the help he needs because depression and pain pills isn’t the type of shit you play with. In the end this wasn’t a terrible hour of entertainment. I would’ve liked to see Sabu brutalize Heyman than Show runs in and saves him, instead Sabu got murdered for 10 minutes, got one move on Heyman before getting murdered some more and pinned. That’s called a squash in my book.