Impact Wrestling

Scott,
 
I finally got around to watching Impact today, and agreed that the reality-show type segment was a nice change of pace. And I got to thinking… what if they took it further, and turned Impact into a fake-reality show about producing Impact Wrestling?
 
"The show" would always be in kayfabe and never acknowledge the fake-reality stuff. And "backstage", friends are enemies and enemies are friends. The faces care about the wrestling and the company, the heels don't care if they legit hurt guys and are always checking their messages to see if "Hollywood" has called yet. We'll hear discussion about how the match we haven't we haven't seen yet is going to end.
 
The interesting thing of the experiment would be how the fans in the arena react… if, for example, they take the guy who's the biggest dick "backstage" and push him as the hero of The Show, would the fans boo him because they he's really a dick, or would they play along and cheer him wildly? Either way, you've got story fodder, because the cheers could change his outlook or could make him a bigger dick, or you've got the producers trying to figure out or make excuses about why everyone is booing their hero.
 
However, the more I think about it, the more I realize it would take a brilliant kind of writer to keep the show feeling balanced and not abuse the plot device of characters "going off script" during The Show. It's probably too ambitious an undertaking, but I doubt TNA has anything to lose at this point.

Very interesting idea.  Obviously the business needs some sort of evolution in the basic presentation, and the "show about the show" thing has been successful in other mediums, like 30 Rock most famously.  I'd definitely say it's worth a try.  

I Have Issues (6)

Memorial Day
Memorial Day means something in our universe, but in the comic book one, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. As everyone knows, death in comics is temporary.  How many thought Batman was staying dead several years ago? How many thought Steve Rogers was gone for good? I can remember in the early 90’s when I didn’t even read DC comics that I felt something when Superman died.
Maybe it was because I was so young or just hadn’t seen enough characters resurrected, but I felt Superman was really going and that he was to be replaced by one of the four characters brought in to take over his comics. Even my cousin, who never cared about comics, bought an issue and wore the black arm patch that came with it. People don’t do this kind of stuff unless it is for real. Funny enough, years later after Superman had come back I was talking to my Grandma and mentioned Superman. She replied, “He’s dead now isn’t he?” Yeah, the news of his death reached even her, but they never told her that he had come back. Death is more or less a plot point now. Whether it’s to show that there is real danger in this universe or to build up an origin story is up to the writer, but it happens and happens again as characters are brought back and put back into the ground.  The Wayne’s will likely stay dead, as well as Uncle Ben, but then Jason Todd and Bucky came back so who knows what we can expect. Here is a list of characters that have died and I can’t believe aren’t back yet. This list is not necessarily my wish list for returns, just a short list of…

I can’t believe they are still dead.

Jean Grey,
(Flamed out in: New X-Men #150)
Seriously she is still dead from where Magneto disguised as Xorn killed her in battle. Of Couse they have since said it was not Magneto , but an imposter (whatever) but she still remains dead. She is one of my favorite characters and even though they have teased her return, they have yet to do it. With the Phoenix power they have a way out, they can just say that her power lets her die and be reborn, but still she remains in a pine box. She will return someday, but the Marvel Universe is one year away from ten years without her, I’m impressed.
Gwen Stacy
(Took a dive in: Amazing Spider-Man # 12)
I honestly don’t think they should ever bring the real Gwen back from the dead. Marvel is always up for breaking rules if it makes for an interesting concept, and no one has yet to bring her back for anything other than clone nonsense. Speaking of which…
Ben Reilly
(Bit the dust in: Spider-Man #75)
 I like Ben as a character and always thought he had potential. But, the clone debacle kind of killed his stock. Now Kaine is the Scarlet Spider and as much as I like that comic, I always wish it was Ben under the mask.  He did a good job as Spider-Man in his brief tenure and deserved a lot better than to turn to dust after the Goblin ran him through with his glider.
Tommy Monaghan (Hitman)
(Took one for the team in: Hitman #60)
What a great character Tommy was. I get that he was created by Garth Ennis and without him the character would not be a tenth of what he should be. Still, this character should have more stories. Though I will say, I do love the end of the series and how he went out.
 Morpheus (Dream)
(Went to sleep in The Sandman #69)
Just like Hitman, this character should not exist without Gaiman writing him. His death was great as he gave himself up to the Furies who had had been stalking him and killing his friends for months. I also heard that Gaiman has it in a clause that he is the only one that can write these characters, but it’s still a huge loss to not have any more adventures for Morpheus to go on.
The Wasp
(Put out of misery in Secret Invasion)
Janet is a founding member of The Avengers and one of the greatest characters to ever have been on the roster.  She has only been dead since 2008, but it’s been too long as far as I’m concerned. Janet never gets the credit that the heavier hitters on the team receive, which is a shame because she is every bit as interesting as them.
 Duela Dent 
(Split during: Countdown)
The multiple personality filled daughter of Two-Face, Joker, Penguin and whoever else she claimed to be that week was a favorite of mine. She was complicated and strange and when it was revealed she was the Daughter of the Jokester (hero joker of Earth-3 that fought the Crime Syndicate) then I liked her even more. Who knows, with the New 52 reboot she may be back and we just have not seen her yet.
            
Last I have to give an honorable mention to the most shocking death for me.  Alexandra Dewitt was Kyle Rayners girlfriend at the time he first became Green Lantern. She was a hot blonde photographer that I never gave two thoughts to until Kyle finds her stuffed in his refrigerator. This death was so violent and unexpected I could not stop thinking about it for several days. This character was a standard female love interest in a superhero comic that as a reader I never felt was even important enough to pay attention to, then in one creepy panel of Green Lantern #48 I felt as if something sinister had entered the safety of my comic world. It’s too bad this murder was committed by C-list villain Major Force, because it could have elevated a halfway decent villain to Joker status. The death was so controversial that comic writer Gail Simone even made a list of female comic characters that have been abused and murdered through time. Go here to check it out as well as the creepy panel that haunted me for days.  http://www.unheardtaunts.com/wir/index.html
On a personal note, I am in the process of moving to a different state and finding some new work. So this post will pretty much be whenever I get to it. Once I get back into a routine in my life, I plan on being much more on time with this as it is a lot of fun to write. I hope those who read me on a regular basis can bear with me for a little while and thanks as always for the support.

What the World Was Watching: Monday Night Raw – January 20, 1997

by Logan Scisco
The announce crew
discusses the results of last night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from
Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas
.

In a great segment
to start the show, Bret Hart comes out, snatches the house mic from Howard
Finkel, and tells McMahon that he hasn’t been given his opportunity for the WWF
title because he has been screwed by Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, the WWF, and
McMahon.  Bret says that since he isn’t
being given a fair opportunity to win the WWF title, he’s quitting, which leads
to the crowd chanting “We want Bret.”
After Bret walks
out through the audience, Steve Austin comes out and gets on the mic and says
that when the going gets tough, the Harts get going.  He is angered that Sid’s concussion prevents
him from facing the former WWF champion tonight, but he says he isn’t afraid to
face the Undertaker, who has been penciled in as his new opponent.
McMahon walks
backstage for a reason that is not announced, but Ross says it is probably
connected to Bret’s decision to leave the company.  This gives us our first glimpse of what a
Ross-Lawler combination looks like in the booth
.
Opening Non-Title
Contest:  Owen Hart & The British
Bulldog (WWF Tag Team Champions w/Clarence Mason) defeat Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon when the Bulldog pins LaFon with a running powerslam at 9:37
shown:
Clarence Mason’s position is very awkward at this point
in the company, since he’s the manager of the tag team champions and one of the
major figures in the Nation of Domination. 
However, in storyline terms he’s able to keep those interests separate.  Aside from the Survivor
Series, this is Furnas and LaFon’s first crack at the tag team champions and
they give them everything they can handle. 
The hot crowd is very receptive to this match, which maintains a brisk
pace, and the champions barely win after Owen clocks LaFon with his Slammy.  I expected Furnas and LaFon to get a victory
here, since it was non-title, but the WWF must have thought this was a way to
even things up from the Survivor Series. 
If there was one fault with Furnas and LaFon it was the lack of a
memorable finishing maneuver.  They had
multiple moves that looked devastating and that could beat you, but having a
single tag finisher is a great way to connect to the audience.  Rating:  ***
Some brief footage
of the Ahmed Johnson-Faarooq match at the Royal Rumble is shown
.
Faarooq (w/the
Nation of Domination) pins Bart Gunn with a Dominator at 5:16 shown:
As the WWF transitions to the Attitude Era, Bart Gunn’s
cowboy act looks really out of place.  I
know Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was still a big hit, but I don’t think that was
the demographic the WWF was reaching out to at this time.  Faarooq shows off chinlocks until Bart works
the crowd into a frenzy by bulldoging Faarooq and attacking PG-13 after they place Faarooq’s foot on
the bottom rope.  This shows the
quality of PG-13’s heel work and the distraction allows Faarooq to nail Bart from the apron and finish him off in the ring. 
Ross’s voices his usual indignation, albeit in a PG sense, at the outcome.  Rating: 
Dok Hendrix hypes
the next Madison Square Garden show, but it’s not updated to reflect the
results of the Rumble because Sid is still defending the WWF title against the
Undertaker.
McMahon and WWF
President Gorilla Monsoon come into the ring. 
Monsoon says that he can’t overturn Austin’s victory in the 1997 Royal
Rumble, but he can deny him his title shot at WrestleMania 13.  He announces that at In Your House, Steve
Austin and the three men he illegally eliminated in the Royal Rumble:  Vader, the Undertaker, and Bret Hart will be
in a four way elimination match, with the winner becoming the number one
contender for the WWF title and facing the WWF champion at WrestleMania.
  Steve
Austin comes out and tells Monsoon that Bret Hart already quit, but regardless
of that he’ll go to In Your House and still be going to WrestleMania.  Austin threatens to get violent on Monsoon,
which leads to him getting in McMahon’s face, and Bret Hart returns out of the
crowd, announces that he’s back, and brawls with Austin in the aisle until WWF
officials separate them.
-The Western Union
rewind is a massive brawl from Shotgun Saturday Night.
The Undertaker defeats
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin by disqualification at 6:37 shown:
The match starts on a chaotic note as the Undertaker gets
into a brawl with Bret Hart in the aisle before moving on to Austin.  Austin uses his technical skill to wear down
the Undertaker and it’s odd to see the Stunner used as a move to generate a
double KO.  During the match, the cameras
cut to the back where Vader and Bret are being separated by WWF officials,
thereby reinforcing the tensions and high stakes of the In Your House
match.  Vader runs down to the ring when
the Undertaker starts his comeback and Bret Hart soon follows, creating a four
way brawl that sends the crowd into a frenzy as we go off the air.  This match was serviceable, but the real fun
came with the post-match activities.  Rating: 
**
The Final Report Card:  Finally we get an episode of Raw that
maintains a good story arc and builds momentum during the show.  The interaction of Bret, Austin, McMahon, and
the Undertaker was fantastic and started to move the company into a new
direction where face/heel distinctions were not as clearly defined.  The hot crowd in Beaumont also helped the
show as they reacted to everything, including the midcard match between Faarooq
and Bart, and anytime you have a hot crowd it adds another element to the
show.  An easy thumbs up effort by the
company for this week.
Monday Night War Rating:  2.2 (vs. 3.7 for Nitro)
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up

Repost: The Rise And Fall of ECW

(As requested, a repost of the ECW DVD review I lost a while back.  This is originally from 2004, so for fun we’ll do some 2012 Scott sez stuff too, if warranted.)  The SmarK Rant for the Rise and Fall of ECW – And so here we are, years after the death of the little promotion that could, with the hardcore alternative ironically chronicled by the mainstream survivors of the wrestling wars. I was never a huge fan, to say the least, but they had their moments and you can’t deny the impact.  (I believe this is one of the biggest-selling DVDs in WWE history, if not the biggest one outside of Wrestlemania.)  – We start with Paul Heyman coming into Eastern Championship Wrestling and helping out booker Eddie Gilbert with a show, because wrestling was becoming hair bands. So Paul invented The Public Enemy and Taz. We are also introduced to Sabu and get some comments from Heyman and Tommy Dreamer about him. – Paul talks about Terry Funk wanting to come in and make some new stars to ensure the survival of the sport. This leads into the three-way dance 60 minute draw between Shane Douglas, Terry Funk and Sabu, which I always thought was horribly overrated. We also get the “smash your knee to obliticree” promo from Shane afterwards, as he wants to be champion. – Paul talks about his relationship with WCW. Quote: “I told them to go fuck themselves when they treated people like shit.” Well, this is certainly an M-rated DVD.  (Don’t tell Linda McMahon’s PR team!) – Next intro, Tommy Dreamer, as he transforms from pretty boy into someone the fans respect. This leads into the Sandman v. Dreamer feud that introduces Singapore canes to the wrestling world and turns Dreamer into hardcore tough guy. That was pretty nasty stuff and RSPW went insane for it back in the day.  (Don’t forget that Sandman used to be a California surfer dude before ECW made him into a totally new character too!  It was actually a really interesting approach to the usual repackaging, because instead of just taking Skip Sheffield and making him Ryback, for instance, Heyman would actually maintain character continuity by having Tommy Dreamer the character change from one thing to another, or have Scotty Flamingo get disenchanted with the world and become Raven, rather than just introducing Scott Levy as a new character.  It was an interesting approach to character rehab that doesn’t really get done anymore outside of, say, David Otunga suddenly becoming a coffee-drinking lawyer.)  – Tommy Dreamer talks about the differences between WWE and WCW and what ECW was doing at the time, and Paul talks about how you have to respect the past, but find something new to present.  (Like what I was just talking about.  Rehab the character instead of just throwing it out and starting fresh.)  – Mick Foley talks about WCW wanting to establish relations with ECW, and getting sent over as a goodwill gesture of sorts. Funny promo with Jack spitting on the WCW tag title and then talking about losing his real title: “World’s ugliest wrestler”.  (Pretty sure Ryback beat him for that one a while ago.)  – Next up, we meet Mikey Whipwreck, the ultimate hardluck underdog. We bypass the TV title reign that went nowhere and get into the tag title reign with Cactus Jack that was much funnier.  (I was really disappointed in the payoff for the TV title reign, actually, with Mikey just losing the belt to manager Jason one day.  That was always Paul’s downfall, in that he was all build and no delivery.)  – In August ’94, Shane Douglas wins the NWA World title…and throws it down to create the ECW World title, thus destroying the lineage of the NWA title pretty much for good. This isn’t as huge today, but it killed the NWA dead back then and it was pretty huge at the time. (Nowadays Colt Cabana could burn the belt live on his podcast and I’m pretty sure even the NWA wouldn’t give a shit.)  On the next show, Eastern Championship Wrestling was dead and Extreme Championship Wrestling was born. This was actually a double-cross on Dennis Corralluzzo, who had no clue what was happening around him. – We skip ahead a year or so, with the Malenko-Guerrero-Benoit invasion, thus showing that ECW was suddenly the cool place to make a name. It also allowed them to expand their audience with a more pure wrestling viewpoint. – Paul and his producer talk about their production style and hiding the negatives, which was pretty much their philosophy all along. Another philosophy: If we fuck up, it stays in. (That’s like the entire writing style of RAW now.)  This leads into a discussion of the fans, and Hat Guy gets his five seconds of fame with a mention on the DVD. – Onto Raven, and the feud with Tommy Dreamer. This been covered to death already. – Tazz talks about the history with Sabu and how they didn’t get along backstage. Sabu no-shows one night and Paul fires him, leading to a short-lived “Fuck Sabu” movement among the fickle ECW fans. Tommy: “Paul never lied to the fans. He lied to the WRESTLERS. But not the fans.” (Tommy’s a funny guy.)  Tazz breaks his neck and takes nine months off, setting up a big showdown when he returns. – We get a funny three-way argument (via editing) with Heyman, Bischoff and Vince, as Paul accuses Eric of raiding Benoit & Eddie, Eric accuses Vince of raiding the territories years back and Paul of bouncing cheques, and Paul retorting that Eric is full of shit. And then Vince admits that HE raided the ECW roster. That’s awesome. – So with the roster depleted, Paul brings in the Mexicans. Rey does a rana off a fan’s car. Paul: “If my father wasn’t a lawyer, I could never have pulled off ECW. I got sued more times than Martha Stewart.” – And then Steve Austin gets fired, which allows Paul to do his Steve Austin impression here, and Steve to do his Hulk Hogan impression back then. Both rule.  (I find it funny that Hogan’s cliched interview style was parodied by Austin, who in turn went on to create his own cliched interview style that was in itself ripe for parody.)  Not to mention the Monday Nyquil promo. The producer talks about the Austin and Foley promos and how great they were. No shit. I actually have a tape from RF Video from years ago that’s nothing but their ECW promos and it’s awesome.  (What are these “RF Video” and “tape” things he speaks of?)  – OK, so nine months later Tazz returns as the mat-wrestling animal instead of the Tazmaniac. Paul talks about Tazz bringing the “big fight atmosphere” to the arena, which was missing from wrestling.  (Um…does Paul do lottery numbers, too?  And guess who he ended up managing?)  – On the other end of the spectrum, Raven steals Sandman’s son and wife, which I never really cared for. – The Blue World Order ends up being the culmination of Steve Richards’ series of parodies, but the people went nuts for it and it ended up sticking. Well, that was pretty random. – So back to the Raven-Tommy thing, with Beulah announcing her pregnancy, which led to the goofy lesbian angle that paid it off. Tommy’s “I’ll take ’em both!” reaction was the moment that pretty much made him a legend in the ECW arena. – So back in the WWF, Mabel is King of the Ring and the Philly fans there are busy chanting “ECW” to show their displeasure. So Vince listens and stages an ECW invasion at Mind Games in 1996, with Dreamer and Sandman annoying Savio Vega during a match with future WWE champion Justin Hawk Bradshaw. – So back in ECW, Raven crucifies Sandman with Kurt Angle in the audience, thus making him stay away from wrestling for another three years. Raven actually apologizes to the audience for doing it. Paul lied to Angle about it. I’m shocked. I’m pretty sure this was never shown anywhere before. – The PPV era begins, sort of, as Paul can’t break through to In Demand, but the fans petition them until it happens. And then…Mass Transit kills it all. Thankfully they don’t show it. So Paul begged and whined and finally they got back on the PPV schedule again. – So with the WWF roster overseas in February, ECW gets RAW for one night in Manhattan, leading to a mini-invasion angle to promote the PPV. Vince admits he was funding them.  (Pretty fun show, too.)  – Barely Legal went off pretty well, although unfortunately due to timing they were entering the PPV arena after the peak of their influence. RVD and Lance Storm talk about Rob’s bad attitude that night and how he created the Mr. Monday Night persona as a result. – Tazz talks about the big match with Sabu, which unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype at all. Terry Funk won the World title from Raven 10 seconds before the power supply blew up to cap off the evening. My thoughts on the show are that it was good for the time, but doesn’t hold up today and didn’t pay off the promise that the promotion showed. – So Raven leaves, and Tommy finally gets the win over him. That leads directly to Jerry Lawler showing up to invade ECW, which went on forever and went nowhere. – We move onto Tod Gordon being a “mole” for WCW and getting fired as a result. Bill Alfonso was almost on the chopping block too for talking with Terry Taylor, but actually saved his job by having a great match with Beulah. Seriously. – The wrestlers talk about doing other jobs behind the scenes to keep costs down. Very interesting stuff, especially Stevie doing the ECW hotline and making up a pseudonym for kayfabe purposes and Tommy personally doing t-shirt orders. – The wrestlers talk about Paul Heyman being the David Koresh of wrestling, brainwashing his guys into doing what he needed from them. They also talk about having the creative freedom to do whatever they wanted. – This naturally leads to Al Snow talking about finding Head and saving his career as a result. Paul spent a fortune buying up Styrofoam heads for the fans, thus creating one of the weirdest pushes in history. – Bischoff denies that ECW was ever the #2 promotion, and explains exactly why. He also questions trying to create a national promotion out of something with hardcore content, and I have to agree with that too. Vince never considered them a threat and denies taking the Attitude era from ECW. This leads to a series of clips showing all the stuff they obviously stole from ECW. There’s a lot more open editorializing going on here than usual for one of these things. – Tazz talks about the match with Bam Bam where they went through the ring. This leads him to invent the Fuck The World title to express his annoyance with Shane Douglas ducking him. Eventually Tazz beat Shane to “unify” the titles. – Moving along to the Dudley Boyz and their fan-friendly activities and abuse of tables. I wouldn’t really call the flaming tables stuff worthy of mention. Sadly, we don’t get a Joel Gertner introduction. We do, however, get Bubba’s “We’ve got a woman who taught her daughter how to suck dick” line from the Heat Wave ’99 PPV. – Next up, the guys talk about working for little money as the wrestling business starts to plateau. Lance Storm talks about bounced cheques and having to confront Paul about it. Tommy didn’t get paid for SIX MONTHS. That’s why ECW wasn’t the great wrestling promotion it’s often claimed to be — wrestling is about making money, and it never did thanks to Paul’s lack of business acumen. And lack of delegation skills, which led to things falling apart when he couldn’t keep up anymore and no one else knew how to run things. – So to continue surviving, they needed national TV. So in September of 99, ECW debuted on TNN. By this time, however, the promotion had lived past its expiry date and was running on borrowed time, especially with Paul’s weird ideas about who to push on top. However, with two weeks to go before their debut, WWF stole Tazz and the Dudley Boyz. Tazz felt like he had nothing left to prove and needed a new challenge. The Dudleyz, however, just saw the financial writing on the wall and decided to escape while they could. They wanted to stay, asking only for $1 more to stay, but Paul refused and they left. – Paul’s list of TNN’s grievances with the show is pretty funny, and it leads to the creation of Cyrus, representing “The Network”. And then they wonder why TNN never promoted them. And in 2000, they got kicked off the network to make way for RAW, leading to Paul doing a crazed rant against TNN on national TV. And that was pretty much it for the promotion, as the PPV buys dried up and the fans stopped watching. – But we continue, as Rob Van Dam was the only remaining star left, and when he broke his leg there was nothing left. – More people leave, as ECW champion Mike Awesome jumps to WCW and the cops have to collect the title from him so he can’t throw it in the garbage. So Tazz does a surprise appearance at a spot show in Indiana and wins the title from Awesome, which left a WWF wrestler against a WCW wrestler for the ECW title at an ECW show. Sadly, Tazz brought the title back to the WWF and got to job to HHH. Just because, you know. Vince apologizes here for that one. – So back in ECW, Tommy Dreamer wins the title from Tazz, his only reign with the title, which was then immediately ended by Justin Credible and his opening-match act. Tommy’s “The only reason I won titles was because guys left” is kind of a sad and profound summing up of his career. – Bischoff talks about trying to serve the hardcore audience and win over the mainstream at the same time, and how it couldn’t work. So Paul talks about trying to find a new network, but they couldn’t because TNN wouldn’t cancel them. And when they finally did, the ship had already sunk. The really sad thing is the roll call of guys who had no choice but to stay with the dying promotion because they were outcasts who couldn’t get work elsewhere. – And in January 2001, the promotion quietly folded after a small show in the middle of nowhere, with a scheduled PPV never produced and no alternative thanks to the death of WCW at the same time. – Everyone talks about what killed the promotion, and it’s the usual reasons: too much violence, not enough business sense. Thankfully they don’t try to blame anyone but Paul Heyman, who keeps beating the drum about surviving if they found another network. I wholeheartedly disagree, as the promotion was dead before it even got onto TNN, and they just didn’t know it. – The final shovel of dirt on the promotion comes as Paul Heyman replaces Jerry Lawler on commentary for RAW and all those in denial had to finally acknowledge that it was over. The Extras: – ECW World tag title match, double-dog collar: Raven & Stevie Richards v. The Pitbulls. Scott Keith completists will already know my feelings about this one, but for the rest of you, this is a fairly famous match that is an answer to a trivia question about myself I once posed in a previous rant. The stipulation here is that the Pitbulls have to split up should they lose. Stevie Richards is notably absent from the introductions, and Beulah explains that he has a “broken arm” and will not be participating tonight, so for the sake of fairness the match will be 2/3 falls. Pitbull 2 attacks and hangs Raven with the chain they’re connected with, while Pitbull 1 heads to the back. Vicious chairshot for Raven as #1 finds Stevie in the dressing room, and indeed he’s already a bloody mess. Raven brings a table in, piledrives Pitbull 2 THROUGH the table, and gets the pin at 2:07. Wild spot there. Raven & Stevie double-DDT #1 and get a two-count. Steviekick gets two. Raven and #2 bring another table in and it gets set up. Stevie gets superbombed through it for the pin at 4:17 to even things up. Okay, that was all just the warmup session for the REAL fun. Brawl into the crowd as Pitbull 1 KILLS Stevie, but gets chaired. Meanwhile, #2 and Raven head back in, where a third table gets involved and the ref gets bumped in the process. The Dudleyz run in to make it 4-on-2, and the heels pair off and superbomb both Pitbulls at once. However, since the law of heel-babyface relations says that a babyface having his own move done to him does not have to sell, they invoke it and pop right back up. DDTs for the heels, and the Dudleys get superbombed. Yet another table is set up for Raven, but he hits his head on the EDGE of the table and I’m shocked he’s still alive. That gets two, so he’s alive. They beat on Stevie, while Raven readies an ether-soaked rag to choke #2 out. That spot was intended as a rib on Jim Cornette’s booking. Raven puts him on two tables, legdrops him through the first one, and elbows him through the second one. This being only 1995, that’s devastating enough to require EMTs for Pitbull 2. In the ring, Stevie goes up and gets crotched, and #1 suplexes him through a table for two. Raven unhooks himself from the chain and makes the save. Francine & Beulah do the mandatory catfight, but Raven DDTs Francine to end that. Tommy Dreamer runs in to take Pitbull 2’s place and beats the hell out of Raven. DDT gets the pin at 14:41, but Joey’s not sure who actually gets the belts. Turns out to be a moot point, as Bill Alphonso comes in to overturn the decision since Dreamer isn’t legally in the match, and he was just being nice allowing it to go on under 2/3 falls rules anyway. And the pin on Raven doesn’t count, so he’s still never pinned him. Tod Gordon gets all indignant and comes in to argue with Fonzie, and Big Dick sneaks in to use the currently-banned chokeslam on Dreamer. Fonzie suddenly waffles and decides to un-ban the chokeslam so that he doesn’t have to suspend Big Dick, and with that 911 makes himself known. For those who didn’t follow this stuff back then, fans had basically been waiting since the day of Fonzie’s introduction as Evil Ref for 911 to chokeslam the shit out of him, but Fonzie countered by banning the move. So 911 comes out, gives Fonzie the BIGGEST CHOKESLAM EVER, holding him up there for like 10 seconds, and the place is just going apeshit. Pitbull #2 rejoins things, and they set up Raven for the superbomb, then put Stevie on HIS shoulders, superbomb both guys at once, and Tod Gordon personally counts the pin at 19:40 as the Pitbulls finally beat Raven & Richards to win the titles. Whereas normally overbooking is done too often in the wrong place, this was exactly the right amount of excess done in the right match, with the right finish. And given the total insanity of everything after the 5:00 mark and all the intricate storylines weaved into one 20:00 match, this became the one and only match in ECW history that I ever rated *****, so for those of you who still e-mail me asking about it, there you are. This match was also voted #1 in the DVDVR awards for the Best ECW match of the 90s, so many agree with me on it. Of course, many also disagree, most notably Dave Meltzer (albeit in a nice way). This is definitely a match you need the right context to fully “get”, but I’d recommend checking it out at least once to see what Paul is capable of with the right motivation and guys. – Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Psicosis. OK, proper match this time. From Oct. 95, 2/3 falls. Rey sends Psi out of the ring quickly and follows with a springboard plancha into the first row. Another crazy dive, this one over the top, lands in the first row again. Dangerous area tonight. Back in, Rey snaps off a rana for the pin at 1:20. Second fall, as Rey dodges Psi and gets a leg lariat to send him into the corner, but charges and hits the apron. He recovers with a flying rana that sends Psi to the floor, and he follows with a rana from the apron now. Rey goes back in and Psi stops to recover. Back in, Psi gets an enzuigiri and whips Rey into the corner for a nice upside down bump. Into the other corner off an inverted body vice, and he spears Rey, who is hung in the Tree of Woe. He adds a running boot to the face and a powerbomb for two. Into a Sharpshooter, but he releases. Rey bails, so Psi follows and sends him into the railing, and adds a chair to the knee for good measure. Back in for a slingshot legdrop, but he misses a blind charge. Rey comes back with a handspring into another rana, but a quebrada is caught by Psi and turned into a tombstone for the pin at 7:05 to tie it up. Third fall sees Psi powerbombing Rey through a table on the floor to start, and slamming him into the first row. Nice bump. Psi goes back in and follows with a tope con hilo. Crazy. Back in, Psi misses a blind charge and takes another crazy bump, into the post, and Rey follows with a springboard plancha to the floor. They throw chairs at each other and Rey chokes him out with one, then sends him into the post with a chair around his neck. Back in, Rey gets a flying rana from the top for two. A headscissors puts Psi on the floor, and he follows with a springboard cannonball. They fight on the floor and Rey gets put on a table, and Psi follows with a senton from the top to put him through it. Back in, Psi gets another powerbomb and goes up, moonsaulting onto a chair to finish Rey at 13:53. That was a truly crazy and sick spotfest, and I loved it. Maybe it’s the recent toned-down attitude of the WWE, but this held up really well. ****1/2 – ECW World title, ladder match: Sandman v. Mikey Whipwreck. Sandman’s music is tactfully edited out by the production guys, for what should be obvious reasons. So is Mikey’s, since Beck costs as much as Metallica, I guess. The belt isn’t hanging anywhere, it’s just a match with a ladder involved. Entrances alone burn 10 minutes of the 18 allotted to the chapter, by the way, including Steve Austin’s saunter into the ring during the introductions and hilarious verbal attacks on both guys. Mikey hits Sandman with the ladder to start and they brawl outside, but Mikey gets dropped headfirst on the ladder as they head back in. Ouch. Sandman does his somersault legdrop (nearly slipping off the apron in the process) and Mikey bails to recover. Sandman throws the ladder at him, and then puts it on the apron and suplexes Mikey onto it. He follows with a legdrop that puts Mikey on the concrete. He finally gets some offense with a chairshot and a rana from the apron that allows Sandman to showcase his, ahem, awesome selling skills, and they fight into the crowd. Sandman jumps over the top, onto the ladder, hitting Mikey in the face with it as a result. That actually came across as improvised instead of horribly contrived for once. Back in, Sandman misses another legdrop and Mikey comes back by hitting him with the ladder, a couple of times. That gets one. Mikey goes up and splashes Sandman under the ladder for the pin and the title at 6:30. The pre-match promo was way better than the match. * – TV Title match: 2 Cold Scorpio v. Sabu. Sabu goes for the chair really quickly and takes Scorp out. Scorpio bails and Sabu follows with a chair-assisted tope con hilo. Back in the ring, and Scorpio reverses a powerbomb into one of his own, then a legdrop off the second rope. He rams Sabu face- first into a chair. He tries it again, and Sabu reverses. Air Sabu and we’re back on the floor again. Running somersault off the apron and back into the ring. Scorpio with a crescent kick to waylay Sabu and then he nails Sabu with a running chairshot. Scorpio on the offensive with a Stinger splash, but Sabu reverses an Ocean Cyclone Suplex attempt into a rollup for two. A wrestling sequence leads to Sabu going to the rear chinlock, then a regular chinlock. C’mon guys, GST. Get your Shit Together. Scorpio punts Sabu in the boys to send him outside the ring, then suplexes him in for two. Sabu doesn’t appreciate that and smacks him around, then hits a slingshot legdrop for two. Sabu works the armbar, but Scorpio escapes and misses a moonsault. Man, eh got so much hangtime he nearly overshot. Sabu the Arabian Facebuster for two, but he hurts his leg. Scorpio takes advantage with a pancake and a standing moonsault for two. He crotches him on the bottom rope for good measure. Tumbleweed misses, and Sabu goes to the top, but get powerbombed off for two. Scorpio to the top, and Sabu with a victory roll from the top for two. Scorpio misses a dropkick and heads out, and Sabu follows with a top suicida. Back in and a slingshot clothesline gets two. Sabu goes back to the armbar. Scorpio escapes and drops him on the mat face-first. He tries what looks like a TKO, but Sabu grabs the top rope and back out we go. Sabu moonsaults off the apron, almost breaking his knees on the railing in the process. He sets up a ridiculously intricate spot, putting Scorpio on the table in the front row, then setting up a chair in the ring. He jumps on the chair, onto the top rope, and dives onto the table, just as Scorpio moves, and goes through the table. Pretty cool spot, but out of place. Joey: “I think he may be dead”. Back in the ring and Scorpio gets a two out of all that. Scorpio with an ugly powerbomb, reversed to an uglier rana by Sabu. Either Sabu is a great actor or he’s really messed up. Sabu with a moonsault for two. Another one misses badly, and Scorpio hits a powerbomb and Da Bomb for two. Kind of a uranage thing sets Sabu up for a legdrop off the top with a chair across his face. It gets two. Back to the top, but Sabu smacks him with the chair and hits a rana for two. Double-KO spot with two minutes left. The fans smell the draw. 450 splash from Scorpio, but he won’t cover. He goes to the other corner and misses whatever by a mile. Sabu drops a couple of legs with a chair in the middle, but time runs out. Spotty, but pretty much the best Sabu match I’ve seen in a long time. **** – Tommy Dreamer v. Raven. This is what was supposed to be the “final” match between them, although Raven’s departure for WCW proved to be less final. Tommy and Raven immediately fight into the crowd and Tommy gets the best of that. This has commentary from Coach and Tommy on the secondary track, by the way. Yes, COACH, bastion of hardcore wrestling. Raven comes back with a piledriver on a table, which doesn’t break, and Tommy offers a self-deprecating comment about it. Up to the stage, where Raven rams Tommy into the wall and sets up another table, but that backfires on him. Coach and Tommy taking shots at Raven is pretty funny. Back down to the floor, as they whip each other into the guardrail and Raven gets crotched on it. Because it’s not a Tommy Dreamer match unless someone’s getting cracked in the nuts with a steel object. So back into the crowd with more funny comments from Dreamer and reminiscing about Heyman ripping him off. Back to the floor, as Raven chairs Tommy, and they finally get into the ring, where Raven gets the DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM. And as expected, Tommy takes a shot in the nuts. Up to the top, but Tommy fights him off, only to get tossed onto a chair for two. He comes back with the hiptoss DDT, but the ref is bumped via a sign from the crowd. It turns out to be a road sign (which Tommy takes credit for inventing), and Tommy piledrives Raven on it for two. Lucas the lackey gets involved and Beulah gets rid of him, but Raven rolls up Tommy for two. Tommy rolls up Raven for two. Chastity sprays him in the face with something and Raven gets two, and we’ve got a catfight as the overbooking kicks in something fierce. Tommy gets a DDT onto the sign for two. The ref is bumped again as Tommy gets a millionth DDT, but now Louie Spicoli runs in and DDTs Dreamer and puts Raven on top for two. Tommy comes back and gets rid of Louie, but Raven DDTs him for two. Enough with the DDT. Tommy obliges by changing to a Death Valley Driver, then another DDT for the pin at 15:08. But the lights go out and RVD appears (doing the WWF invader gimmick) and beats up on Dreamer. Then lights out and Sabu appears for more beatings. Dreamer comes back again, so lights out a third time and this time it’s Jerry Lawler, and that was huge. It turns into a giant brawl with the heels just kicking the crap out of Dreamer and no one able to get into the ring and save. It would lead to Jerry Lawler v. Tommy Dreamer at the Hardcore Heaven PPV in a match was given rave reviews at the time, but pretty much sucks these days. Much like this one, which was brawling and a million DDTs and nothing else. Great commentary, though. *3/4 – ECW TV title: Tazz v. Bam Bam Bigelow. Michael Cole & Tazz are doing alternate commentary here, ‘natch. This is more famous for the finish than the match. Tazz takes him down with an armbar to start, but they quickly fight out and Tazz gets sent into the railing. Back in, Bammer gets a powerbomb for two. He sets up Tazz in the corner, but charges right into a lariat that looked pretty darn stiff. Tazz tries a suplex, but Bam Bam falls on top for two. Bigelow charges and gets dumped on the ramp, and Tazz follows with an exploder that results in him knocking himself silly on the railing as he takes the landing wrong. Tazz is loopy and talks about it on the commentary, so Bam Bam clotheslines him back to the ringside concrete again. Because that’s the best medicine for concussions. Back in, Bam Bam gets a DDT and goes up for a bad moonsault that gets two. Bammer grabs a table (which proves to be pre-broken) and can’t really set it up, but Tazz fights out of a powerbomb and flapjacks Bam Bam through it. Cole claims that Bigelow was sandbagging him on that one, which is kind of weird coming from Michael Cole. Tazz gets two. They fight outside and exchange shoot punches over a piece of wood that didn’t break right (according to Tazz) and it’s back into the crowd. BBB hammers on him, which only gets Tazz more fired up, and Bigelow slips and falls on his ass doing a low blow. Back in, Bigelow tries Greetings from Asbury Park, but Tazz reverses to the choke and Bigelow falls back…and the ring breaks, as they fall into a hole in the corner. Tazz reveals that he’s unconscious down there after hitting his head on the way down, and Bam Bam pulls him out and gets the pin and the title at 13:34. Didn’t like it back then, still don’t like it, although the commentary reveals a lot of hidden entertainment value. ** – ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn. This is from the Hardcore Heaven 99 PPV, and RVD provides commentary along with Michael Cole. They trade wristlocks to start and take it to the mat, but it’s a stalemate. Another reversal series and another stalemate follows. Rob does some stalling and talks about how Fonzie’s whistle didn’t actually bother him. He’s the only one. Another stalemate and Rob gets a mouse on his right eye, and it’s more stalling. Lynn bails and Rob follows with a plancha, but misses. Lynn dropkicks him on the apron and follows with a guillotine legdrop for two. They head up and Jerry gets a nasty bulldog from the top for two. Back up for Lynn, but Fonzie crotches him and holds up the chair. Lynn ducks tries a springboard dropkick, but Rob counters that and crotches him, then kicks him down to the floor, as Lynn takes the bump wrong and knocks himself out. That seems to be a theme for this disc. Rob picks up the dead weight JL (literally, not like Kevin Nash) and knocks him into the crowd again to buy some time. Jerry finally recovers as they head into the ring, and comes back with a rollup out of the corner for two. Rob hits him with a piledriver counter and Rolling Thunder, but another try misses. Into the corner, as they counter each other’s DDT attempt and Rob gets a bridge for two. Lynn powerbombs him out of the corner for two. Lynn heads out and sets up a table on the floor, but gets backdropped into the front row. Fonzie tosses a chair at Lynn, who stupidly catches it and eats a Van Daminator. Lynn recovers and they fight on the apron, however, but now Lynn gets backdropped off the top and through a table on the other side. Rough luck tonight. Rob puts him on the railing and drops the leg on him, and back in he gets two. The chair gets involved again as Rob kicks the chair at his head after 15 flips, and back to the top they go. Lynn goes down first and Rob follows with the legdrop, but Lynn fights back and they battle on the apron, which leads to Lynn powerbombing RVD off the apron, through a table. Back in, Lynn misses a blind charge, but comes back and kills Fonzie with a chair, then follows with a german suplex for two. To the top, but Rob kicks him down, and they fight over a suplex. No one gets it, as both fall off and the fans get on them. Rob picks up the chair, but Lynn hits him with a Van Daminator for two. Sneaky. Another reversal as they’re running on fumes, but Lynn goes for the cradle piledriver and then opts for a rollup for two. Back to the top and Lynn goes down this time, which allows Rob to follow with a split-legged moonsault for two. Lynn comes back with an inverted DDT attempt, but Rob reverses out and legdrops him, then goes up with the frog splash, but Lynn reverses the pin for two. They fight for a suplex, but Rob opts for the Van Daminator instead and finishes with the frog splash at 26:56. Started slow with a lot of stalling, but they really won me over by the end with all the counters and false finishes. **** Lynn should have gone over here, though. – Stevie Richards talks about suffering a serious neck injury in 1997, and then lying about it and going to WCW as a result. That didn’t last long, as he had heat with Raven and went back to ECW briefly before jumping to the WWE for good. So this is basically his apology to the boys for doing such a dillweed at the time. OK then. – Next up, Tazz talks about trying to get Paul Heyman’s blessing for his WWE career. It was always his dream to work in MSG, and he called Heyman from the train after not speaking to him for months. – Jericho talks about Paul’s travel booking skills, or lack thereof. Most notably, Heyman buying a bereavement fare for Jericho and Johnny Smith because “brother in law” Chris Benoit had “died”. – There’s also a couple of Easter Eggs here, the best of which is Mikey training with Public Enemy to prepare for his World title match with Sandman, as Rocco Rock sounds drunk off his ass. Funny stuff. The Inside Pulse: This was probably one of the best “history of” bits they’ve done, as Vince’s “ECW is not a threat” attitude meant that they had the freedom to basically paint history as it was rather than how the WWE wants it to be remembered. At three hours, it’s a bit much for casual fans, but if you want to know pretty much everything about ECW there is to know, this is for you. I think it also works as a sad chronicle of how wrestling is a business and not a grand fairy tale, summed up by the renegade promotion having its last gasp as part of a DVD released by the winners of the war. The extras disc is a mixed bag, but there’s pretty much something for every aspect of ECW here aside from the REALLY hardcore element, and it’s hard to find fault with the match selection. And hey, there’s always that 24/7 channel anyway. Highest recommendation.

Rock Star Gary Reviews Over The Edge 99

(Despite one frequent bloggie pondering whether I’d review this show for $100, it’s not actually available on video or DVD and it’s incomplete on YouTube anyway.  Morals are one thing, but I have a family to feed and it’s not a life-defining choice for me anyway. If you guys want to take up a collection for that and the Extreme Reunion show, I’m game as long as someone can find a complete copy. But here’s a compromise of sorts for the moment, as reader Rock Star Gary (of rockstargary.com according to the watermark on the Word file) offered up his review of the show and the next night’s RAW is Owen, which I will post tomorrow.) WWF Over the Edge 1999 By Rock Star Gary Live from Kansas City, MO (attendance: 18, 244) Airdate: May 23, 1999 Hosted by Jim Ross (JR) and Jerry “the King” Lawler We begin the show with a soliloquy from Undertaker professing his ministry of darkness and his mission to take Stone Cold Steve Austin’s most prized possession – the WWF title! Earlier tonight on Sunday Night Heat Mideon of the Corporate Ministry cracked a steel chair upon Vince McMahon’s ankle on the steel steps! Match 1 for the WWF tag team titles: X-Pac & Kane (champions) versus D’Lo Brown & Sexual Chocolate Mark Henry (w/ Ivory) JR right off the bat accentuates the youth in the ring by stating the combatants are in their 20s (Hint, hint WCW). The crowd lets D’Lo know that he sucks. Prior to locking up with D’Lo X-Pac crotch-chops Ivory. D’Lo uses his size to his advantage while X-Pac uses his speed and agility. 5 minutes in and X-Pac unsuccessfully attempts to break out the Bronco Buster on D’Lo. Henry and Kane tag in. After an avalanche Henry press-drops Kane—a move similar to what the Ultimate Warrior used to do to jobbers. Kane proceeds to no-sell and deliver some clotheslines. Kane follows up with an Irish Whip into a dropkick! The dynamic changes when D’Lo is tagged in as he uses agility in his exchange with Kane. After a brief flurry by X-Pac D’Lo feigns a knee injury so that Henry can crotch X-Pac on the ring post. X-Pac gets pressed and hot shot on the barricade by Henry. Back in and D’Lo executes a running powerbomb to X-Pac. Kane, however, breaks up the pin attempt. After both teams exchange tags again Kane slams the 400 pounder and then hits a tilt-a-whirl slam on D’Lo. X-Pac then tries a plancha onto Henry but gets caught and rammed into the ring post back-first. Reverse suplex by Kane. Double-teaming on Kane leads to a near pinfall but with an authoritative kick-out by Kane. That sends D’Lo to the floor! Kane mounts the turnbuckle and dives onto both D’Lo and Henry! Top rope clothesline by Kane. D’Lo makes the save. X-Pac comes in and gives the Bronco Buster to D’Lo. Kane then chokeslams Henry for the 3-count! Winners and still WWF Tag Team Champions…Kane and X-Pac! Hot match! The crowd was into it. Big man-small man dynamic was used very well while Kane’s talents were showcased. Michael Cole speculates that due to Vince’s injury he may not be able to serve as the second special guest referee for the title match tonight. Hardcore Holly is interviewed and cuts a promo about Al Snow. He wants to “peel Al’s head wide open.” Ick. Match 2 for the WWF Hardcore Championship: Al Snow (champion) (w/ Head) versus Hardcore Holly Snow also brings a moose head (not the beer) to the ring. After a brief exchange Holly and Snow head outside the ring where Snow meets the railing face-first. Then Holly meets the steel steps on a reversal of an Irish whip. Having grabbed a cookie sheet Holly smacks Snow from the outside coming in and then again for a near fall. In order to cool down Snow’s need for Head Holly grabs the fire extinguisher but can’t get it to work. He finally pulls the pin out of it but Snow hits him with the cookie sheet inadvertently setting off the extinguisher. Snow then grabs the extinguisher and gives Holly a mouthful. Yuck! They take the bout into the crowd all the way to the concession stand. A series of concessions are exchanged almost leading them into the women’s restroom. Funnel cake for everyone! Especially for Holly who is wearing powdered sugar on his face. After a near fall on the concrete they head back to the ring. From the railing Snow executes a leg drop that barely makes contact with Holly’s head. He then throws Holly in the ring, puts him in the corner, and performs an excruciating stomp to the groin! The crowd cringes for that one. Snow grabs a chair from ringside, then goes to the other side of the ring, and pulls out a table! Back in the ring upon setting up the table Snow is on the receiving end of a patented Holly dropkick. The “Hollycaust” (Falcon arrow) gets a 2 count. After jawing with the referee Holly gets caught in the Snow Plow for another near fall. Ballshot #2 to Holly. It’s no wonder why he has such a negative attitude. Snow grabs the Head and gets DDT’d on a chair. Holly sets up the table in the ring only to fall prey to a powerbomb through it! Snow falls forward and gets the pin to retain. Standard hardcore fare here. Move along. Michael Cole interviews Pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco. An ambulance has been called supposedly to take Vince to the hospital for his ankle. Patterson swears it’s broken. And now the moment no one neither expected nor wanted. The promo for the Intercontinental title match is shown. JR states that “we know it’s Owen Hart” referring to the Blue Blazer. Then clips of the Blue Blazer running wild are shown. The Blue Blazer’s words of wisdom to the kids: “Take your vitamins. Say your prayers. And drink your milk!” JR tries to throw it to an earlier interview with Kevin Kelly and the Blue Blazer and states: “We got big problems out here.” During the interview the Blue Blazer speaks as a superhero calling the Godfather his arch-nemesis. He professes that good will triumph over evil due to his daily intake of vitamins, prayers, and milk. JR then begins to apologize. He states that the Blue Blazer was supposed to make a “spectacular” entrance and something has gone wrong. He states that the EMTs are now tending to him. According to JR, “This is not a part of the entertainment here tonight. This is as real as real can be here.” The camera only shows JR and shots of the crowd. “This is not your typical wrestling storyline.” The Blue Blazer was supposed to descend from the ceiling. JR speculates that possibly the harness broke. He then segues into the Nicole Bass/Val Venis versus Jeff Jarrett/Debra mixed tag match. During the promo the match is described as a love rectangle. Nicole has her eyes on Val while Val has his eyes on Debra. Jarrett defends the honor of Debra by destroying Nicole Bass with his guitar prompting Val to fight Jarrett. Nicole vows to make “chow’ out of Debra’s puppies. JR brings us out of the promo to note that this is “not part of the show. This is not a wrestling angle.” Again JR notes that the WWF will not sensationalize this by putting it on camera. According to JR Owen Hart has been “terribly injured”. Lawler rejoins JR at the desk and states “No. It doesn’t look good at all.” Kevin Kelly interviews Jeff Jarrett and Debra. Jeff is noticeably upset. Jarrett wishes Owen well with a very serious tone in his voice. After Jarrett does a promo on Val and Nicole he says: “Owen, you’re in our prayers.” Debra then states “Owen, we love you.” More on this at the end of the review. Match 3: Jeff Jarrett and WWF Women’s Champion Debra versus Val Venis and Nicole Bass in a mixed tag match The first words out of JR’s mouth are “Unfortunately, the show must go on here.” Updates on Owen Hart are promised. JR stresses that Debra is not a trained wrestler yet will compete in this “soap opera-laced confrontation”. JR spews his “bowling shoe ugly” comment in anticipation of this match. Val confuses Kansas with Missouri as the “Show Me State”. JR rallies off Nicole’s stats as 6’3” and about 240 pounds. As a small aside it’s painfully obvious the director is not putting the corner where Owen fell in the shot from the hard camera. At the very beginning of the match the crowd proudly wants “puppies”. Val gets the early advantage and gives Jarrett a butterfly suplex. Interesting to note Teddy Long is the referee for this match. A neckbreaker, right-hand, and DDT to the shoulder is applied by Jarrett. Val catches Jarrett coming off the ropes with a powerslam and a near fall. Another whip into the ropes and Jarrett receives a spinebuster from Venis. Bass is tagged in which brings in Debra. Debra’s outfit not only showcases her lung capacity but also her toned ass. Debra climbs on Bass’ back and gets placed into the corner. Bass misses a blind charge so Debra makes her eat turnbuckle and literally kicks her ass. Jarrett is tagged in and puts Venis in the sleeper. Val reverses into a couple of knee lifts and a Russian legsweep. Val then vehemently swivels his hips in celebration. He then misses a middle rope elbow. Jarrett then executes the Stroke on Venis. Bass breaks up the pin and Jarrett threatens Bass with violence. The referee is distracted by Jarrett and Debra waffles Bass with the guitar. Bass no-sells the weak shot and rips Debra’s shirt off to reveal a black bra. Jarrett threatens to violently educate Bass with the guitar but gets suplexed by Venis. Val then heads to the top rope and hits the Money Shot for the pin. Bass celebrates the victory by planting a big wet one on Val much to his surprise! Val smiles and seems quite impressed. Definitely this was neither WWF PG content here nor a technical masterpiece by any means. Backstage Vince McMahon is on a gurney. Cole attempts to interview him and Shane antagonizes Vince while flaunting his referee’s shirt. Vince appears to be unable to work in the main event as he gets loaded into the ambulance. Send your cable bill to the address on your screen to receive an Undertaker pewter pendant! Outlaw versus Outlaw is then promoted. Mr. Ass is born and has turned on DX members X-Pac and Road Dogg. Kevin Kelly interviews Road Dogg. Road Dogg doesn’t hesitate to offer prayers to Owen Hart. 13 years later and I still enjoy Jesse James’ “Oh, you didn’t know” bit. Road Dogg hits his catchphrase then recites his spiel with full crowd participation. Road Dogg wants a piece of Billy Gunn’s ass. I hope he’s hungry. Kevin Kelly then interviews Billy Gunn. Gunn states that he’s been “carrying you around like a bad case of the clap” with regards to Road Dogg. If I were him I’d seek out a physician. Match 4: Road Dogg versus “Mr. Ass” Billy Gunn JR pumps up Billy Gunn on commentary but states “Don’t count out the Marine!” in favor of Road Dogg. Fists are exchanged and once Road Dogg gets the advantage he clotheslines Gunn over the top rope to the floor. Gunn takes a powder while Road Dogg gives chase. As a quick aside it is astonishing how much everyone uses the letters WWF rather than World Wrestling Federation. It’s hard to argue against the World Wildlife Fund with their beef on this matter. While still outside the ring Road Dogg whips Gunn into the steps which he clears. Back in the ring after a brief flurry Gunn sends Road Dogg over the top to the floor. Road Dogg’s face then meets the steel steps and the ring post. Gunn puts Road Dogg back in the ring and applies a standing vertical suplex. Road Dogg attempts to take the advantage but receives a powerslam off the ropes. Legdrop gets a near fall. Gunn continues his offense by applying a neckbreaker. Gunn stalls by jawing with the crowd then grabs a sleeper. Road Dogg might be counting sheep right here. The crowd must also feel the effects of this move because they’re eerily silent as well. Road Dogg’s arm doesn’t go down the third time and he fights out and reverses the sleeper on Gunn. After Gunn escapes Road Dogg increases the intensity of the match and gives Gunn a “shake-rattle-right hand” called by JR. Shakey-shakey kneedrop follows. Gunn rolls outside and nails Road Dogg with the timekeeper’s hammer. Since the referee was too close to the action and didn’t see it the match continues. Lawler tries to sell the move as a hammerlock. After some brawling Gunn gets the quick advantage using his wrist tape for a clothesline. Then he hits the Fame-Asser for the pin with a handful of tights. Gunn was definitely not over with the crowd as a heel. The crowd only got into it with Road Dogg on offense. This was definitely not a feud settling match or a classic. WWF King of the Ring airs on PPV on June 27. Michael Cole interviews Shane McMahon. He states that he will be the sole referee and will call it down the middle. Match 5 Eight man elimination tag match: Corporate Ministry (Bossman, Viscera, and the Acolytes) versus The Union (Mankind, Test, Ken Shamrock, and the Big Show) This PPV isn’t Survivor Series. What’s this match doing here? On a positive note Big Show leaps over the top rope to enter it. Viscera starts off with Test. Viscera takes the early advantage and catches Test with a modified powerslam. Test gains the advantage and delivers a dropkick to Viscera! Mistakenly Test tries to antagonize the rest of the Ministry and gets caught in a belly-to-belly suplex by Viscera. Bradshaw tags in and applies a Russian legsweep. Test meets boot on a blind charge, but Bradshaw sprints out of the corner and receives a powerslam then a sidewalk slam. Surprisingly Test mounts the top turnbuckle and delivers an elbow! Faarooq makes the save. Shortly thereafter the Clothesline from Hell from Bradshaw finishes off Test. Shamrock comes in and wallops Bradshaw with a kick to the head. Bradshaw gains the advantage and gives Ken a fallaway slam. Shamrock regains control and tries to apply an MMA-style arm-bar submission but Faarooq saves again. Shamrock then gives Bradshaw the huracanrana followed by an anklelock causing Bradshaw to tap out. Faarooq takes immediate control on Shamrock by giving him a powerslam. Viscera tags in and sidewalk slams Shamrock. A botched crucifix by Shamrock leads to a Viscera elbow and a near fall. Faarooq comes back in but gets caught with a high knee. Modified suplex by Shamrock leads to another anklelock. Bossman helps Faarooq reach the ropes but Shamrock won’t let go. The referee gets in Ken’s face and gets belly-to-belly suplexed. Big Show comes in and chokeslams Faarooq which JR calls the “showstopper”. Teddy Long comes in to make the count and Faarooq has been eliminated. Meanwhile Shamrock has been disqualified for not breaking on a five count and referee abuse. Bossman comes in and is rightfully hesitant to hook up with Big Show. Once he does Show powers Bossman completely out of the ring with a tackle. Bossman wants to leave but get unceremoniously thrown back in the ring by Show. Show tosses Bossman across the ring similar to the way that Bam Bam Bigelow would throw Little Spike Dudley. Nash choke in the corner leads to a Bossman field goal. A double team puts Show on the mat. Mankind has yet to get into the match but receives “Mick” chants from the crowd. Show fights out of a chinlock and delivers a big boot. A second showstopper is blocked by Viscera. All 4 men are in the ring and Show slams Viscera! Mankind and Bossman tangle inside the ring while Show and Viscera fight on the outside. Bossman delivers his standard leg across the back of the neck on Mankind. They fight outside the ring as the two giants disappear backstage. Mankind eats the steel steps. Back in the ring Mankind gains control and delivers a double-arm DDT to Bossman. And now it’s time for Mr. Socko! The Union wins! Long match with some good spots by the big men. Test made a great impression here, but the focus was primarily on Mankind getting the final decision and the win for the Union. Uh-oh! JR brings us back to earlier in the evening. JR states that Owen Hart fell from the ceiling. To quote JR: “I have the unfortunate responsibility to let everyone know that Owen Hart has died. Owen Hart has tragically died from that accident here tonight.” We now take a brief moment of silence. A promo for Rock-HHH is shown. According to HHH Rock’s fate is in “my hands”. Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock who is sporting a cast on his left arm. Before Rock can begin his promo Chyna interrupts but only acts as a distraction because HHH hits Rock from behind. Chyna hands HHH a pair of scissors and HHH tries to cut the cast off Rock’s arm. However, Mankind comes out to help the Rock but gets double-teamed then hit with a metal pipe. Match 6: HHH (with Chyna) versus The Rock Despite HHH’s belief that The Rock won’t show the Rock answers the bell by making HHH eat his fists a few times. Rock invites HHH to charge him but Rock evades him and sends him over the top. Outside the ring HHH and The Rock brawl around ringside. A clothesline puts HHH down. HHH’s face meets the Spanish announce table and The Rock grabs the headset. The Rock dedicates his next move to his Latino followers and sends HHH over the table into the announcers. That was awesome! HHH regains momentum and slams The Rock’s arm into the English announce table. A second slam of the arm shoots the cast right off! HHH then proceeds to knock The Rock silly with his own cast. They brawl back into the ring and HHH receives a Samoan drop. HHH responds with the high knee. The Rock ends up on the floor and Chyna rams The Rock’s “broken” arm into the English announce table again! She does it a second time and JR is outraged! JR refers to Chyna as a “witch”. Chyna then forearms The Rock to the head. HHH makes The Rock eat more table. HHH tries to clothesline The Rock but The Rock thought the same thing so both men are down. Back in the ring The Rock hammers HHH and delivers the DDT. The Rock drapes his arm over HHH and gets a very near fall. HHH retaliates with an armbar takedown off the ropes. HHH persistently works the arm and even rams the arm into the ring post. Off the ropes and HHH sends The Rock over the top onto his busted arm. The Rock’s arm then meets the steel steps. HHH hammerlocks The Rock and sends him shoulder-first into the ring post. Back in the ring they try to deliver blows to one another; however, since they have fought one another on numerous occasions they know what’s coming. Nice nod to continuity. The Rock attempts the Rock Bottom but HHH blocks it and delivers his own DDT. Chyna grabs a chair to give to HHH, but Earl Hebner steals it away from HHH and tosses it out of the ring. Hebner and HHH exchange each other’s displeasure with that decision. HHH just wallops Hebner! HHH gets promptly disqualified. He brings the chair back in the ring, but The Rock kicks it out of his hands. The Rock grabs the chair and belts HHH right in the head busting him open! Hebner attempts to raise The Rock’s left arm but The Rock felt pain and punches out Hebner! The Rock helps HHH meet the ring post and the steel steps to draw some more blood. The Rock then hammers HHH with JR’s electric fan. Back in the ring The Rock works over HHH while Chyna brings in a chair. The Rock stops her with a kick to her gut. He raises the chair and HHH pushes The Rock right into Chyna knocking her completely out of the ring! However, The Rock grabs HHH and gives him the Rock Bottom much to the crowd’s delight! And now The Rock wants to deliver the People’s Elbow. But first The Rock places the chair on HHH’s face. As The Rock glides across the ring to attempt it Chyna grabs his foot. The Rock loses his cool and grabs Chyna by the hair to pull her up on the apron. HHH then levels The Rock with a chair to the left arm! Another chairshot to the arm by HHH! Another chairshot! And another! Here comes Mankind with the aforementioned metal pipe to put a stop to this! WWF Main Event Style was definitely showcased in this match. While the Cerebral Assassin had not yet surfaced HHH was sowing the seeds here for his upcoming push. I found the post-match shenanigans much more entertaining than the match. These guys would have better matches down the road. A promo for the main event is shown including the infamous “Where to, Stephanie?” quote by Undertaker. Stephanie is shown tied to Undertaker’s symbol. Stone Cold comes to her rescue. Shane McMahon betrays his own family for the sake of the Ministry. While Shane appoints himself as the special guest referee Commissioner Shawn Michaels also appoints Vince McMahon as special guest referee. In one segment Undertaker is tied to his own symbol while in another segment Austin is tied to the symbol high in the air. Undertaker wants Austin’s title and the respect as the lord of darkness. Match 7 for the WWF Championship: Stone Cold Steve Austin (champion) versus Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) Shane makes his entrance; however, Pat Patterson also comes out to the ring sporting a referee’s shirt. I must admit that Undertaker’s Corporate Ministry music is extremely cool. Undertaker takes exception to Pat Patterson’s presence in this match and emphatically chokeslams him! Austin’s music hits and the crowd EXPLODES! A brawl ensues in the ring until Austin is dumped out. Crowd loudly chants for Austin. Undertaker tries his best to keep Austin out of the ring but receives a hangman’s neckbreaker on the top rope. Austin delivers a clothesline via the top rope! Austin proceeds to stomp a mudhole and walk it dry. He then gives a non-verbal suggestion to Shane when his warnings go unnoticed. He flips him off again and Shane pulls Austin away. According to JR Austin cannot touch Shane or he will lose the WWF title! Due to Shane’s interference Undertaker gets his own mudhole but chokes Austin to a very slow 5-count from Shane. Undertaker then proceeds to work on Austin’s left leg. Just for clarification purposes by this point in Austin’s career he only wore a knee brace on his left knee. So Undertaker working on the left leg makes for some great psychology. Austin breaks with a series of leg drops to Undertaker’s head. Austin opens up a can and then goes to work on Undertaker’s left leg. At one point in the corner Austin kicks Undertaker’s leg to where it gets tied up in the ropes as Undertaker falls to the mat. OUCH! Shane assists Undertaker before he rips his knee apart. They brawl outside the ring and Undertaker’s knee meets the steel steps. They’re quite popular tonight! Austin takes Undertaker back in the ring and continues to work on the leg. Paul Bearer attempts to interfere on behalf of Undertaker and eats a fist from Austin! Undertaker overtakes Austin and throws him into the crowd. Quite the paradox there. The crowd once again shows its support for the Rattlesnake. Back to ringside and the Undertaker chokes Austin with a video cable. Austin meets those popular steel steps. Undertaker then pushes the top step off, takes the bottom steps and kicks them into Austin’s leg! They fight back into the ring where Undertaker attempts to tombstone Stone Cold but he slips out the back and clotheslines Undertaker out of the ring. Undertaker attempts to pull Austin under the bottom rope by the leg but Austin kicks him onto the announce table then rams his head into it. Austin manhandles Undertaker and throws him back in the ring. Austin goes for the Thesz press but gets caught and spinebustered! Austin tries to crawl outside the ring only to be met by Paul Bearer’s shoe twice! They brawl all the way to the entrance where Undertaker punches out the makeshift wall of glass! Austin has him meet another part of the glass with his head. Once again they brawl for a while outside but upon re-entry the crowd is eerily silent. Undertaker controls with a choke but Austin turns the tide with a low blow. Austin then drops the middle rope elbow. Pin appears to be academic and Shane is in position. He counts 1, 2, but doesn’t count 3. While Austin berates Shane Paul Bearer tosses a chair into the ring. Undertaker grabs the chair but gets caught with a kick to the gut. Austin then whips Undertaker directly into Shane and brains the Undertaker with the chair! Austin goes for the pin but Shane is out. Gerry Brisco runs into the ring but can only count to 2 before Undertaker kicks out. Undertaker seizes control and then punches Brisco out! With no referee the crowd chants for HBK. Undertaker hits a flying clothesline. To add more intrigue Vince McMahon hobbles to ringside. Austin attempts a Stunner but gets countered. Each man knocks each other down with a clothesline. Vince counts to 7 when both men get up to continue brawling. Austin then hits the Stone Cold Stunner! Vince goes to make the count and is interrupted at 2 by Shane! Vince tries to get in Shane’s face and pushes him down. Austin spins Vince around and Shane pushes Vince directly into Austin. Undertaker then gets on top of Austin where Shane fast counts the pin! Undertaker has won the WWF title! Austin puts the boots to Undertaker. The Corporate Ministry hits the ring. Austin gives the Stunner to the Bossman and then to Mideon! The Acolytes try to hit the ring but Austin commandeers a chair to keep them back. Austin has been screwed out of the WWF title by Shane McMahon! Wow! Drama, psychology, and a ballsy ending make for a really good match. While some would say that Shane screwing Austin was a foregone conclusion the storytelling still entertained me. Overall, in spite of what occurred during the first hour of the show I felt this show delivered strongly from an entertainment perspective. While WWF Main Event Style took some but not all of the psychology out of the matches I enjoyed this show for what it brought to the table wrestling-wise. However, it cannot be ignored that a long-time player on the WWF roster lost his life during this show. Owen Hart did not deserve to die this way. While I applaud both WCW and WWF for trying to push the envelope to generate interest and income losing Owen Hart this way was a major eye-opener to everyone. I hope Owen Hart is resting in peace while his family misses him every single day. Whereas some wrestlers lost their lives due to illicit or prescription drugs Owen Hart’s death was an accident that wasn’t supposed to happen to such a well-respected member of the WWF locker room. Should the show have been stopped? If so, at what point should it be stopped? Do you stop it right after the accident? Or do you stop it after JR makes his necessary announcement? Or do you stop it at all? Over 18,000 witnessed the event live in KC that evening. The buyrate for the show was a tremendous 1.24. Could you imagine how many refunds and/or lawsuits the WWF would have to endure if they had stopped the show? WCW overran their 3-hour timeslot just 7 months prior to this show and was forced to fork over serious money in refunds alone. I’m sure the WWF knew already it would be dealing with serious negative publicity from this accident. And they did. The negative publicity from having to stop the show on Sunday and possibly completing the remainder of the show in a different town on Tuesday doesn’t make the company look good in my eyes. For the most part the WWF works in a democratic environment within a capitalistic society. The right decision was to keep doing business and handle the publicity at a later time.

Rock and the Delay of GI Joe

Hey Scott,
Longtime reader, first time etc.
With the aggressively absurd decision to push back GI Joe: Retaliation to March of 2013 (in order to convert it to 3D, which I can't imagine anyone anticipating the movie could possibly give a frozen shit about), what does this mean for Rock's Mania availability? He'll likely have to be making the media rounds to promote the film around that timeframe, and promoting the movie is clearly going to take precedent over promoting Mania, even if he's in a marquee match up. So is Rock off the table? Will he even be able to do Mania at all, with his schedule?
I know Rock vowed to be back for Mania season in 2013, but that was obviously before this fitfully ridiculous corporate decision. So will Rock still do Mania? And if not, what could WWE start building right this moment to make up for it? I would imagine building up Brock as an animal for Cena to finally defeat for the title in the main event would be off the table, since Cena's already won. Maybe put Brock against the Streak? Or Cena against the Streak?
I imagine the commentariat will be infinitely more clever about this than I am.
Keep up the good work,
Nick

I'm pretty sure that "conversion to 3D" is code for something else, like "reshooting all the crappy CGI" or "trying to edit the movie into something halfway coherent."  
That being said, it's a pretty easy 2-for-1 deal for WWE and Rock.  When he's booked on shows to promote Joe, he can be all "by the way, I'm also doing Wrestlemania".  And when he's on RAW leading up to Wrestlemania, they can plug the shit out of GI Joe.  SYNERGY.  It'll be fine, no replacement match needed.  
Brock against the Streak would be pretty interesting, especially if Brock works that new style against Undertaker.  I can see Undertaker wanting to try an actual MMA type match.  

Waiting for the Trade – Avengers Assemble

Waiting for the Trade
By Bill Miller
Avengers Assemble Vol. 1
by Kurt Busiek and George Perez
collects 1-11 and Annual ’98
Why I Bought This – The Avengers is my favorite comic. When I first got into buying trades five years ago this was among the first I bought, as I’d heard very good things about this run. I loved it and immediately wanted to buy volume 2 but it was out of print and averaging about $140 at Amazon. Lo and Behold with the release of the movie volume 2 is back in print. I immediately picked it up, and I figured I’d refresh my memory with the first volume.

The Plot – Seeing as there are twelve chapters I’m going to try to keep the chapter reviews to just a few sentences. Some spoilers ahead.
Chapters 1 – In the wake of the Onslaught/Heroes Reborn nonsense the Avengers were disbanded when their entire core A-list members were presumed dead. Those heroes had recently returned when suddenly there are attacks on everyone who has ever been an Avenger by various Asgardian creatures. About 40 Avengers (as well as Justice and Firestar who were with former Avenger Rage when he was attacked as they were all New Warriors together) gather at the mansion, where Thor informs them Asgard is in ruins and the Twilight Sword, which can cleave reality, is missing. The Avengers split into smaller teams to search for clues and discover Modred and Morgan Le Fay are responsible as Morgan uses the sword.
Chapter 2 – Reality has been remade into a Camelot-style kingdom where Morgan rules and the Avengers are her knights, except for Scarlet Witch who is held in a dungeon as a power source for the spell. Cap breaks free of the spell because he’s awesome like that and is able to free Hawkeye and they discover the spell is weakest on those who most deeply feel a connection to the team. They’re able to get through to Wasp, the female Captain Marvel, Quasar and Justice before Iron Man raises the guard against them. Thor frees himself and Cap’s group escapes, while in the dungeon Witch resurrects Wonder Man.
Chapter 3 – Cap and company battle the 30 ensorcelled Avengers while Wanda and Wonder Man battle Morgan. Morgan needs so much power to fight Wanda that she loses control of the other Avengers and then entire team combines their power through Wanda to defeat Morgan and set reality right.
Chapter 4 – The founding Avengers decide to permanently reform the team. They select Cap (as leader), Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ms. Marvel, Justice and Firestar. A subplot that Ms. Marvel has a drinking problem is introduced.
Chapter 5 – Squadron Supreme accuse the Avengers of being imposters/skrulls in the wake of their resurrection and the two teams battle over the ocean.
Chapter 6 – The Avengers and Squadron Supreme battle in Project Pegasus, where Wanda realizes the Squadron is being mind-controlled and uses her hex-power to free them.
Chapter 7 – The Avengers and Squadron team up to take on the mastermind of the shenanigans of the last two issues: Imus Champion (The fifth wealthiest man on Earth. He has no superpowers but has used his money to by weapons from several different C-list super villains.) The heroes are about to lose until Firestar gets an ant to smuggle a message out to Hank Pym/Ant Man for a last second assist.
Chapter 8 – Ms. Marvel is kicked off the team for going into battle drunk in issues of some Kree-themed crossover not reprinted in the original hardcover edition of this book (Note – the new soft cover edition released this year to coincide with the movie does reprint those issues). The Avengers battle the Kree on the moon where the aliens launch a missile that will destroy the Earth but Firestar intercepts it by opening up a stargate; however she is concerned that using her powers at that level may give her cancer or sterility based on an old New Warriors subplot.
Chapter 9 – The Avengers respond to a terrorist hijacking at the airport and meet new heroes Triathlon (who has the strength of three men) and Silver Claw (who can shape-shift into animals from the Amazon jungle). In order to save civilians the heroes are forced to let the terrorists escape although Triathlon stows away on their plane.
Chapter 10 – Triathlon discovers Moses Magnum (has earthquake powers given to him by Apocalypse) is responsible for the hijacking and calls in the Avengers, who manage to defeat him.
Chapter 11 – The Avengers celebrate the anniversary of their founding with a parade when Grim Reaper attacks and reanimates all of the dead Avengers (including Wonder Man) against them. The villains win the fight.
Chapter 12 – Wanda, who was exploring the source of her increased power last issue and thus was not at the parade, returns to the mansion only to be attacked by the undead Avengers. She uses her powers to restore their true personalities and they then free the living Avengers. The living and dead Avengers battle side by side against Grim Reaper until Wanda uses her power to fully restore Wonder Man to life and he uses the opportunity to drag Reaper (his brother) into the world of the living as well thus depowering him.
Critical Thoughts: The initial Morgan Le Fay story is fabulous. Now it’s true I love Arthurian myth, but at the same time I hate alternate reality stories in comics. For the most part if you’ve read one you’ve read them all: characters are new people with slightly different names, our protagonists remember the truth, reality is restored and any consequences of the past few issues are erased with very few people retaining memory of the events. This is probably the only one of these stories I’ve ever enjoyed. Busiek’s selection of which Avengers feel the connection to the team most strongly is aligned with many of my favorites: Cap and Hawkeye are my favorites of the A-list and of course they are the first two to shake off the spell. Quasar is my favorite of Marvel’s cosmic characters and the second Captain Marvel was such a wonderful addition to the team during Roger Stern’s run before being sent off to comic book limbo by every subsequent author. Even Wasp, who I’m more or less indifferent to, is a fine choice to feel the call stronger than others as she named the team and her time in the team, even more so than her partnership with Hank, helped her grow out of being a ditzy socialite into a strong independent capable woman.
It also helps that the art is quite simply the best in Avengers history, with Perez drawing 40 heroes effortlessly, then redesigning those same heroes with medieval variant costumes, while also drawing frenetic battle scenes with Morgan. His panels featuring the return of Wonder Man are also very nicely done.
Wonder Man’s return ties back to an earlier point, for despite this being an alternate reality tale this story has consequences as Wonder Man (another great character in the team’s history) returns from the dead—and then Vision suffers injuries in the alternate reality that actually stay with him when reality is restored while Wanda comes out of it with vastly increased powers. All of which sets up a romantic triangle with Wanda, Vision and Simon that Busiek heats up throughout all 12 issues in this book.
The new team issue is a staple of Avengers lore, and Busiek writes it as well as its ever been written. He gives plausible reasons why many of the 40 heroes cannot stay. In the end the team he ends up with is the best of the best as to me the Avengers are at their core are Cap-Thor-Iron Man-Hawkeye-Vision and Scarlet Witch. The Avengers are simply not the Avengers if you don’t have at least one of the first three and one of the second three on the team and ideally you want four of those six in the book at all times. I also applaud the decision to put Justice and Firestar on the team. First of all many a writer has used the arrival of new unconfident heroes to let the reader see the rest of the team from a more human perspective. It’s a role filled in the past by Captain Marvel, Wonder Man, Tigra, Firebird and others. I’ve always liked Firestar as a character going back to her cartoon origins and in general it is a nice evolution for some of the New Warriors (who first debuted in the Avengers crossover “Acts of Vengeance”) to get promoted to the big leagues.
The Squadron Supreme story is the low point of this series. I’ve mentioned in a prior review that I just have no use for Squadron Supreme and all the same reasons still apply. They are not real characters. They are just analogs of DC’s heroes. They have no personality or motivations because to give them any would either make them different from their analog or probably stray too close to copyright. Thus they are literally the flattest characters in all of Marvel. There’s nothing to them but their powers, which aren’t even originally theirs. And since Marvel is never going to write a story where their heroes lose to the other company their stories have all the contrivances of hero vs. hero stories without any of the suspense in the actual fight scenes. Furthermore the final chapter where the teams unite to fight Champion isn’t any better. I’ve never seen him before but he’s not an interesting villain as has no powers, just weapons he bought from other minor villains. I completely don’t buy him as a threat to these teams. And yes, I can appreciate Busiek tries to address the concern with Champion being minor-league in the plot with Cap lecturing the team how they have to take every threat seriously and not just the Ultrons of the world; but I’m not sold. It also doesn’t help that this is only the chapter not drawn by Perez. Finally the climax is a WTF moment with Firestar getting a message out to Pym via ants. Does this mean Firestar speaks Ant? Or that all ants understand English and can carry those messages in ant-tongue back to Pym?
The Kree and Moses Magnum stories are more or less routine threats but that’s fine because it gives Busiek time to pay-off the Ms. Marvel subplot and begin a new one with Firestar, plus he continues to focus on the love triangle and introduces two new heroes. It’s all juggled very well and the fight scenes that do occur still look great thanks to Perez.
Finally we get the Grim Reaper story and this another major high point that the first time I read it five years ago convinced me these are some of the finest Avengers stories ever written. I love both parts of the story. The anniversary parade shows just how well Busiek knows Avengers history and their place in the Marvel Universe as we see the reactions of the major New York heroes (Spidey, DD, X-Men and FF) to the celebration. Wanda’s pages with Agatha Harness (another witch/magical deus ex machine I have little use for most of the time) is also well-written as yet another explanation for her powers is given. The chaos-magic explanation is not my favorite choice but I give it a pass because at this point Wanda’s powers have been rewritten so many times I just accept that Wanda’s powers are whatever the current writer says they are. (And since at least half the time she’s a reality warper I just say to myself she’s warped reality around herself and changed her powers again without a second thought.) When Reaper and the Legion of the Unliving show up we get the best fight scenes in the book. But more than that these two chapters are really the comic book equivalent of Mozart (or HBK if you want a wrestling reference) showing off the full depths of his talent just because he can. Perez draws pin-ups of Avenger ever and then another one of their most famous foes in the anniversary issue, while Busiek, who already showed in the Camelot chapters that he knows how to write 40 Avengers strongly and in-character is now showing that yea, he can write all the dead ones correctly too. And as a fan of some of those characters, it’s wonderful to see Mockingbird and Thunderstrike again. It’s the little touches when they fade back to the land of the dead like Mockingbird asking them to get a message to Clint or Thunderstrike asking Thor to look into his son that really make the issue shine.
I only have one small criticism and a nitpick about these chapters. The criticism is in the long run I don’t think it serves the character or the team to bring Grim Reaper back to the land of the living. Marvel in general has a tendency to want to pull all of their characters back to their mid-70s status quo whenever possible, but in Reaper’s case it’s a mistake. When he’s alive Reaper has no powers, just a knife that shoots electricity for a weapon. That would make him a mid-level threat to Cap or Hawkeye individually, but certainly not a threat to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as a whole; whereas as a cosmically-powered avatar of death Reaper is in the upper echelon of Avengers foes. While for the story Busiek is telling if Wonder Man has a chance to save his brother he has to take it, sometimes these decisions should be made with the long-term view of comics as a continuing medium in mind. I’ll just add that Reaper has yet to face the Avengers again since this story was written 13 years ago and that’s probably in part because he no longer has the power-levels to realistically do so. As for my nitpick, my all-time favorite Avengers villain Nebula didn’t make the cut in Perez’s splash page.
Grade A+. The Avengers are my favorite franchise in Marvel and if I could only pick one trade to give someone and show them why this is the trade I would pick. Why? Well for one Busiek gets these characters like few other writers ever have. Sure any Avengers writer with even modicum of talent is going to get Cap, Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye but Busiek gets even the minor characters like D-Man and Firebird who were Avengers for only one issue and nine issues respectively but were nonetheless valiant and likeable heroes under their writers who originally had them join. You have the type of major threats that are the hallmark of the Avengers at their best bookending this volume, while the chapters with lesser threats continue to build the more personal stories of the various heroes. Busiek’s use of thought balloons in particular is so well done as to be a perfect argument for their return since you never see them anymore in current Marvel books and in a team book like this they really help to give us a glimpse into all of the characters. Let’s face it we all have strong nostalgia for our childhood, and during mine there were some excellent Avengers writers in Roger Stern and Steve Englehart, who both wrote grade A Avengers stories as well; but in just this one volume Busiek and Perez overcame that nostalgia. Simply put the Avengers as a team have never been better written and artistically have never looked better than they do in this volume.

Ebay Plug

Hi, Scott
DirtyEarsBill from the blog here. I was wondering if you might be nice enough to plug my ebay auctions that I just put up. My wife is going back to school in the fall and we're looking to raise money wherever we can, so I'm selling off my wrestling figure collection. Most of these auctions start at 5 dollars or under. Thanks, Scott! Also, congratulations on being the longest weekly, episodic smark blog in history.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/martyjannetty/m.html?item=221036046194&viewitem=&rt=nc&_trksid=p4340.l2562

RAW might have 1000 episodes, but I've got way more than 1000 posts.  So by WWE math, I win.

Brock Back To UFC?

http://insidefights.com/2012/05/27/brock-lesnar-back-to-the-ufc-having-meeting-with-dana-white-after-ufc-146-was-in-crowd/

I think his appearance on the show last night was just a WWE publicity thing so that the next time they bring him out he can be all "Oh, I'm an OUTSIDER and I want to go back to UFC and not wrestle in your wrestling show" and HHH can be all "Grrrr, you signed this exclusive contract to wrestle in our wrestling show and I'm the COO and wrestled Undertaker two years in a row, and I'm very angry because now I'm corporate and can't wear a leather vest over a jean jacket in public anymore, grrrr."  And then they'll fight at Summerslam or something.  I will say that Brock would be, what's the word I'm looking for here, oh yeah, fucking retarded to even think of getting back into this heavyweight division, because Junior would knock him out even faster than Overeem did.  However, if they did Brock v. Fedor or some other tomato can opponent and put it on PPV or even on FOX to draw a monster rating, it might be an interesting experiment.

Rock as Champ

So you mentioned that Rock is more than likely coming back to take the belt at mania. That had occured to me. What hadnt until I read that was how he would lose it. Or to who. Am I the only one who sees Cena getting his win back after Mania against the Rock for the belt? Seems pretty obvious/boring. What say you?
Also I can't figure out how to sign up to comment on the new blog. Any help?

Given plans change daily I don't think anyone's even given to thought to what they would want to do with the belt if/when Rock wins it.  My vote would be a tournament, as noted, but then I'm a mark for tournaments in general and I don't particularly think the title has much value left to hurt anyway.  Cena-Rock II seems like too big of a match for Extreme Rematches, plus then you're changing the title not once, not twice, but THRICE in the first four months of the year and that's exactly the sort of thing people who value the title always bitch about anyway.  
And signing up to comment is actually very easy.  You just click the reply button on someone's comment and you have a choice of using a Disqus account, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or a couple of other ones.  If you've got any of those, you're good to go.  I'd personally recommend going to disqus.com and signing up for an account there, because that way if you visit any blog that uses the system you're universally logged in and it keeps track of all your posts for you.  Plus someone might randomly tag Kurt Busiek and he could show up and blow everyone's mind with awesomeness.  

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: ECW Hardcore Heaven 99

(2012 Scott sez:  I’m starting to feel like I’m turning into a WWE DVD documentary, eternally doing retrospectives of my own previous work because there’s not much interesting to work with in the present.  Maybe I should turn one of these over to Steve Lombardi so he can have a talking head segment in them as well.  Nah, that joke would get old by the second 2012 Brooklyn Brawler sez comment.)  (2012 Scott also sez:  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA FUCK YOU NEW YORK RANGERS!  Not that I like the Devils or anything, in fact I’m hoping the Kings sweep them to win their inevitable first Cup, but my Facebook has been kind of swamped with insufferable Rangers fans acting like the Stanley Cup was somehow already gift-wrapped for them.)  The Netcop Rant for ECW Hardcore Heaven 1999 – Well, here in Canada, Viewer’s Choice still hasn’t picked up ECW yet, so we have to settle for a bar viewing as usual. (Today we’d just go to [popular European streaming video site I won’t mention here] and watch it on the computer.  Back then you had to WORK to circumvent the system!)  However, the usual spot to watch it, Area 51 (aka Domain of the Fleas) shut down last month, so Zen the ECW Mark spent the afternoon frantically calling around the city looking for a bar that was a) Showing the PPV and b) Willing to let him tape it. The winner: Jox Sports Bar, which happens to be about a block away from the apartment and is about 100x nicer than Area 51. Calvin, if you’re reading this, sorry, but your bar sucked.  (I have trouble doing justice to the general shittiness of Area 51 in this paragraph.  Picture a bar that’s like someone’s basement, with all the walls painted black, and a single pool table and video game for entertainment.  And apparently the health inspectors get kidnapped and left to die in the janitor’s closet or something.  The shit we used to go through to watch those fucking terrible ECW PPVs.  That’s life as a wrestling nerd in the 90s.)  Anyway, I made sure to have money in my account (I am constantly astonished at how much disposable income I thought I had in the days when I was splitting rent with a roommate and only working a part time job.  It was like “Well, rent’s paid, cable’s paid, guess I’ll go buy some booze and a million DVDs”.  No wonder I was broke all the time.), because there was no fucking way I was watching this show without booze in my system. (I’m starting to feel that way about RAW.)  Not after last time. So it was all good. And the waitress was cute. Too bad the show sucked. On with the bitching! – Live from Poughkeepsie, New York. – Your host is Jo-Jo, with help from Cyrus (he’s a Virus, you know) at various points. – Chris “Dead Meat” Candido (Poor choice of words there.) and his crack whore come out for the opening interview, and he decides to invite the Dudleys out as his “insurance policy”. Hey, maybe he’ll have a chance in hell now. I think even Paul E. realizes what a lame main event this is. And indeed, here comes Taz RIGHT NOW? Huh? – ECW World title match: Taz v. Chris Candido. Midget wrestling at it’s finest, as Chris taps about a minute in. And there’s your main event, kids. Isn’t Paul E. a fucking genius? He’s the best booker of his generation, you know. DUD (Maybe Paul was booking the Daniel Bryan-Sheamus match at Wrestlemania?) Man, if I had been one of the dumbasses who actually ordered this show based on wanting to see that match, I’d be pissed. But Paul E is a genius who loves his fans, right, so there’ll be something big later, right? – Um, do you think Chris might be going to WCW? Just a guess.  (Spoiler:  Yup.)  – And now the Dudleys are given the mike and allowed to talk. We ran off Sandman, broke Beulah’s neck, ran off Saturn, yap yap yap. (Bubba was always a good talker, but they used to get ENDLESS promo time on these PPVs.)  Ballz Mahoney attacks them, and does pretty well until they double-team him. Spike Dudley comes out to help. Oh, yay, because if there’s one match that HASN’T BEEN FUCKING BEATEN TO DEATH, it’s Spike Dudley v. The Dudley Boys. So this is the big surprise, eh? Spike Dudley and Ballz Mahoney. Not quite the LOD or TPE. The usual crappy Dudleys v. Spike match follows, with the highlight being Joel Gertner hitting a limp-wristed chairshot on Ballz, followed by his attempt at a fireball (which is basically him throwing matches at Ballz). Ballz retaliates with his own fireball (which misses by a good three feet — Jim Cornette needs to give these guys a lesson in fireball throwing), but turns around and gets 3D’d for the pin. Whee. DUD, DUD, DUD  (You know, the Hogan-Warrior abomination aside, I’ve long been a fan of nitrocellulose in wrestling.  We need a good fireball angle again to liven things up.  Last really great one was Kane v. HHH in 99, actually.)  – We’re less than 20 minutes in and I’m sick of this show already.  (I feel the same way about RAW recently.)  – Super Crazy v. TAKA Michinoku. Blasphemy! Taka is using Sasuke’s music. Taka controls to start, teasing a tope. Crazy hits a swinging DDT and Taka bails. Taka is totally playing heel. Match builds nicely, with Taka missing the springboard tope, then the camera totally misses Crazy’s quebrada. That’s just sloppy camerawork. (The director’s cheque probably bounced.)  Crazy goes to work on Taka’s knee (HEY! What’s that psychology stuff doing in a lucha match?). Taka misses his moonsault and Crazy does the three-step moonsault and gets two. Taka comes back again with the dropkick to the head and the Michinoku Driver, but goes for another one and it gets reversed to a Ligerbomb for the pin. Odd ending, and a disappointing match. **3/4 – Backstage, the Dudleys attend to Joel’s burns, and decide to take out their frustration on a bunch of people backstage. Target #1: Supernova. – Little Guido v. Tajiri. Stall-o-rama to start from Guido. Slow start with Tajiri working on the knee of Guido. Tajiri hits a couple of highspots and the Tarantula. I really like that move. (Yeah, until everyone got tired of it.)  Sweet facefirst bump by Guido as takes a header to the rampway. Guido hits a rockerdropper on the rampway and takes over, however. More decent stuff back in the ring, then Tajiri comes back and they trade some stuff, with Tajiri hitting a brainbuster for the pin. This was pretty good, but neither guy is going anywhere. ***  (Well, sort of.  Tajiri got a pretty good push up the card and ended up in the WWE in a decent role for a person of his stature and Asian-ness.  But mostly yeah.)  – YET ANOTHER Tommy Dreamer video, with “River of Deceit” providing the melodramatic soundtrack. (Again with Mad Season!)  Speaking of deceit, it’s not very nice to hype Shane Douglas in the pre-game show and here if you know full well he’s not showing.  (On the other hand, it’s not very nice of Shane to hype a whole bunch of people for his own show when he knew full well they weren’t showing and/or were showing up in no condition to work.  By the way, if that show was available to download for $5 or even $10, I’d be happy to get all liquored up and bury it for old time’s sake, but $20?!?  Don’t quit your day job, Shane.  And I mean that literally.)  – The Dudleys continue their quest, this time finding and beating Rod Price. I’m sorry, is there a point to this?  (I’d say they should Be A STAR, but now Bubba just comes right out and calls himself Bully Ray, so it’d be lost on him.)  – ECW live event shill. – Lance Storm v. Tommy Dreamer. Storm makes Beulah/Bytch/Dawn Marie/whatever the fuck she’s called now put her panties back on before the match. (Dawn Marie ended up being her permanent name) Stick in the mud. Tommy brings his new T&A source to the ring: Francine. (THAT was quite the wacky mismatch of personalities.  At least Beulah brought SOME level of class to Tommy’s white trash veneer.)  There’s a bunch of toys in the ring. Guess New Jack wasn’t available tonight. Note to Lance: Don’t sunset flip someone holding a garbage can lid. (Sage advice in any circumstance I can think of.)  They end up on the ramp and Lance reverses an airplane spin (A FUCKING AIRPLANE SPIN? Shoot me now…) into an inverted DDT. Sloppy spot. Really ugly…something…I think it was supposed to be a Russian legsweep…gets two for Storm. I couldn’t even make out who was supposed to be selling it. A railing ends up in the ring, and as per his contract, Dreamer gets crotched on it. We have some satellite problems (“Hello, Mr. Heyman, this is Rob Morgan from USSB…about that cheque you wrote last week…”) and comes back with Tommy taking a hiptoss over the top, onto a conveniently placed table. Back in, and Tommy blades, then hits a chair-assisted Stunner. Brawl outside the ring, and a ladder gets involved, with a couple of dumb spots resulting. Storm takes a DVD through the table, and the overbooking begins. Cyrus runs in, and gets taken out and Broncobustered by Francine, who gets attacked by Dawn Marie, who gets piledrived by Tommy Dreamer, who get nailed with a garbage can by Storm and pinned. Got all that? About on par with the other hardcore stuff in the Big Two, but Storm shouldn’t have to lower himself to doing this crap. **1/2 – We’re a little over an hour in with only two matches left. What’s going on? – Dudleymania continues, as Jack Victory gets beaten.  (That reminds me, Johnny Ace needs to hire someone to be his flagbearer just for fun.)  – Taz threatens the Dudleys. – Joey blabs. – ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn. (Was this the first match between them?)  Rob gets the monster face pop, and Jerry Lynn is working heel as a result. If Paul E is smart, Lynn goes over for the title and Fonzie turns on RVD and joins him. Mat wrestling to start, like last time. Way too much stalling here. Crowd is totally into RVD. Okay, Paul, PUSH RVD NOW! It doesn’t matter if he sucks, the crowd is eating him up and you need something to jumpstart your sorry little fed right now. (Hey, what’s the worst that can happen if he holds off putting the World title on him?  It’s not like the promotion is gonna fold!)  Another wrestling sequence and more stalling. Lynn gets the first highspot with a plancha. He takes control with a bulldog off the second rope, but RVD and his best friend the chair come back. Lynn blades. More stuff outside. What’s with all the stall tactics here? About half the match has been walking around outside the ring so far. Back in and RVD does his usual stuff. Lynn gets a powerbomb for two. Back outside, more stalling. Lynn tries a rana off the top, through a table, but RVD backdrops Lynn to the floor. More outside stuff and back in for an RVD two count. They tease the spot through the table again. Back in for more stuff, and then RVD ends up going through the table on a powerbomb. A nice sequence with a chair leads to Lynn getting a german suplex for two. Both guys to the top and they badly blow a superplex spot when Lynn slips and falls. Lynn with his own Vandaminator for two. RVD is just totally blown up here, sucking wind like nuts. Must be the pot before the match. Lynn literally carries him through a pinfall reversal sequence. Rob hits the twisty legdrop and five-star frog splash for two. Vandaminator for two, and another frog splash for three. What the hell? Why all the hype for the rematch if Van Dam is just going to go over again? (OK, so it was the second match then.  Given that Rob never lost the TV title and never moved up to the World title, they should have just traded the TV belt a couple of times.)  **1/4 Stylistically, it was a mess, and the stalling killed it for me. – More blabbing from the Dudleys, and now Big Dick returns to ECW, dragging Chris Chetti in to get beaten. What is the point here? – Joey announces that, by the way, Shane is gone from ECW and won’t be at this or any other ECW show in the future.  (Unless he resurrects the corpses of the remaining unemployed ECW guys in 2012 and books a disastrous show with them, but that’s pretty unlikely.)  – Justin Credible v. ??? Aldo runs down his victims, and issues an open challenge. BIG MISTAKE. – Justin Credible v. Sid! Okay, this is easy, right? Chokeslam, powerbomb, everyone goes home happy right? Well, Sid kicks Justin’s ass for a bit, then Jason’s ass, and even Lance Storm’s ass, but powder in the face earns a DQ for Justin. A FUCKING DISQUALIFICATION? IN ECW? The one redeeming thing about ECW is that you can usually count on a clean pin, and we get a DQ? Screw this shit. DUD (You get the feeling Paul was a bit distracted while doing this show?)  Sabu makes the save for Sid and accidentally puts Sid through a table. Sid powerbombs Jeff Jones. – Okay, we’ve got half an hour left and no more announced matches.  (Much like your standard episode of RAW.)  – Buh Buh Ray Dudley is out to waste more time, slowly going through his usual rant. Is there actually going to be a match or is Buh Buh just going to challenge more fans? Oh, geez, here comes Taz, pardon me while I shit my pants with excitement. – ECW World title match: Taz v. Buh Buh Ray Dudley. Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? *This* is the main event? Please someone tell me that this is a sick practical joke being played by Paul E. They fight into the crowd (where half the arena — and the cameramen!) can’t see anything, and into the back. And they come back. Taz has sliced open an artery along the way. E-C-W! E-C-W! D-Von interjects himself as our little viewing party comes to grips with the fact that THIS is the main event. Hello, Chris Candido, a talented worker and everything, was RIGHT THERE! (I think Candido was injured, too, but yeah, who the fuck would want to watch this as the main event of a PPV?)  BBR methodically sets up two tables in two corners, and the ref gets put through one of them. Pee Wee takes his place. 3D gets two, and of course Buh Buh gets put through a diagonally placed table. Why would ANYONE be so FUCKING STUPID as to set that table up in a Taz match? You’d think after, what, 3 years of that spot people would learn. Katihajime, tap out, end of show. I am truly in disbelief at this turn of events. –**  (Yeah, honestly this would be like if John Cena was set to main event against, like, Wade Barrett or something, and beat him in a minute to start the show.  Then at the end he defended the title against Titus O’Neil or something.  Keep in mind that 1999 Bubba Dudley was only two years removed from being an opening match comedy heel. )  The Bottom Line: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!? Chris Candido jobs in the first match in under a minute, the main event ends up being Taz v. Buh Buh for god’s sake…Justin can’t even lay down for MOTHERFUCKING SID…this is insane. This is crack-induced booking at it’s worst. I mean, I supposed the middle portion was okay, but who cares? How can it possibly justify the…whatever the hell the rest of the show was supposed to be? I also noticed that no mention of the mythical TNN deal was ever made (sure, it’s coming any day now, right), (In September of that year, in fact, for all the good it did them.)  and no mention of the next PPV was made. Bad sign. Bad, bad, sign for ECW. So what’s next? Taz takes on every member of the roster in the same show? Paul E signs the Pope to a one-show deal and jobs him to Justin?  (Oh, the Justin Credible push would get much, MUCH worse before it would get better, 1999 Scott.)  I know I’ve predicted ECW’s imminent downfall before, but the smell of death is on this promotion. I felt it with SMW, and I feel it now. You might want to watch ECW TV while you can, because if this show is any indication, it won’t be around much longer.  (About a year and a half, to be somewhat exact.)  Thumbs way down.

UFC 146 – Old School Awesome

Holy cow, tonight's UFC was old school heavyweight beatdowns in the kind of way that people have seemingly been clamoring for in a while.  It was the all-heavyweight show, and 4 of the 5 main card fights ended in relatively quick knockouts, including Cain Velasquez beating the ever-loving FUCK out of Bigfoot Silva and splattering his blood all over the ring, and JDS kicking Frank Mir's ass and knocking him the fuck out.  Plus Roy Nelson's cartoonish knockout of Dave Herman will probably make best-of DVDs for a while.  Obviously not a great technical show, but for a "Get wasted with friends and watch guys kick the shit out of each other" show, this one was hard to beat.  Thumbs up!

Salvaging Brock Lesnar

We all know that Vince's ultimate goal is go put WWE over Brock
Lesnar/UFC.  I think it can be done while still being captivating and
elevate the WWE title.  To start, Brock has to lose to HHH in similar
fashion to the Cena loss.  Have Brock dominate, lock in the kamora,
and then replicate HHH v Undertaker 2, only with the sledgehammer
connecting.  Then have Brock disappear.
Meanwhile, come the end of December somehow vacate the WWE title and
put it up for grabs via the Royal Rumble.  Have Brock show up as a
surprise entrant and win the match, but with a twist: he is now
wrestling a "WWE style".
On Raw have Brock, still heel, explain that he toyed with Cena and HHH
but lost.  So, to win in the WWE he had to embrace professional
wrestling (putting WWE over UFC).  He then spends the time until
Wrestlemania dominating everyone, defending the title at PPV and
occasionally on Raw (using up the appearances).  He proclaims his
dominance over WWE and it's title, and then the Rock comes out.
Wrestlemania match, Rock wins the title for the fans, Brock gone
forever.  WWE over UFC:  check.  WWE over Brock: check.  WWE title
elevated: check.
Thoughts?


I think that's kind of overthinking the situation.  Really, the best way to build him up is to have him beat a bunch of top guys clean, and then lose to someone at Wrestlemania cleanly on the way out.  In particular, I think losing to HHH at Summerslam would kill him dead even if it's a great close match where he looks dominant.  Basically he should do like Punk did — get hot by beating HHH at Summerslam, win the title from someone at Survivor Series (like Punk) in dominant fashion, then take the title hostage and leave until Royal Rumble so that it MEANS something when someone gets a title shot at him.  Plus then the World title can have the spotlight while the WWE title is in the deep freeze and maybe it'll mean something too then.  Brock can finally defend at the Rumble, get the big win there over a John Cena or Randy Orton, and then Rock wins the Rumble and gets the WWE title at Wrestlemania.  Rock doesn't even have to keep it, he can just vacate it and they'll do a tournament at Backlash or whatever they want.  

Rise & Fall of WCW

Picked this one up in the bargain bin and if you can find it for $5, I will say that Disc 2 is arguably the greatest thing the guys that select the matches for these things has EVER done. Seriously you think it can’t get better than the previous match…and it does. Of course Disc 3 isn’t as good but there are some serious cruiserweight gems in there.

So if you’re home alone this weekend while Mr. Princess and the kid are on their annual fishing excursion, find this for $5 and watch it while you catch up on work.

But naturally I have a question about this from the “program” portion of the set and it concerns Dusty Rhodes. Generally I’m a fan of Big Dust but I am curious of how others think of him. Is Dusty’s reputation of being a visionary with occasional flaws one of fact or fiction? I know he had a role in a LOT of shit but has his role in that past success become greater through these various DVDs and WWE productions?

Inside the Indies — May ’12

–Since, for whatever reason, ROH TV is running really slow and laggy on my end, I’m going to bow out for this past week’s show (featuring Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett and All Night Express vs. The Young Bucks) and focus on some news & views in the world of independent wrestling and WWE developmental. How about some discussion on the new ROH champion, Kevin Steen, and his possible injury, who the bookers are hot for in EVOLVE as well as FCW, plus comparing the two biggest iPPV disasters in recent history: ROH’s Border Wars and Extreme Reunion. Plus the end of FCW, and an update on a possible Dean Ambrose injury….
 

.

— Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I’m not drunk for this one. Monday’s a holiday, though…

–Anyone following my Border Wars live thread knows that, in terms of broadcasting, it was a complete fail. Most fans were greeted with a screen declaring an inability to keep up with the amount of traffic, and weren’t able to view the show. Evidently they didn’t anticipate so many eyes being on their show. Maybe they should have, considering it’s the show where they put Kevin Steen over as their new World champion. I’m glad to see them move in this direction, rather than wait forever to pull the trigger on a switch like they did with Davey Richards and Tyler Black before him. I haven’t read any of the spoilers for the upcoming ROH tapings, but from what I hear, the direction they are moving in with Steen as champ is a little unclear. He should, by all accounts, be the big anti-hero babyface, or at least the guilty-pleasure heel.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Steen suffered a legit concussion, and is doing the smart thing and limiting himself in ring until Best In The World. I’d imagine ROH is going to begin to take concussions more seriously going forward. Nigel McGuiness is a big anti-concussion crusader in wrestling, and I’d imagine he has a lot of influence regarding that. (As a side note, do yourself a favor and check out Nigel on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast from a few months back. I’d heard the concussion story as a possible reason why Nigel has retired, but from the sounds of it, it’s more just “concern about multiple concussions” than actual concussions. Nigel appears to be a very smart individual who nonetheless has let his depression and attitude be his downfall in wrestling. He also doesn’t like it when people fart around him.)

Regardless, right now, everything is in flux for ROH. A lot of their fans are being turned off by their unprofessionalism regarding their iPPVs. I’d say their best bet is to run on an hour or so delay, and to hell with the spoilers from fans in the arena. ROH shows are less about the outcome and more about the quality of match, so it really shouldn’t matter if the first few matches get spoiled. In my opinion, for ROH to really make a turnaround and keep their head above water, they need to find a new booker. Most of the storylines have ground to a halt under Delirious, and nothing really seems to be going anywhere. They better find a new solution fast, before Sinclair gives up on them and we lose ROH altogether.

–Relatedly, ROH has sent Gabe Sapolsky a cease & desist letter regarding his rant against the company on Facebook, and a lawsuit may be pending. It’s too bad that someone who was so crucial to ROH for so many years is now in this position with them. Unfortunately, he might not be doing much better himself…

–The EVOLVE shows this month in Charlotte and Concord were both complete disasters as far as attendance, according to reports. Both shows allegedly only drew about 100 fans apiece, which is completely abysmal for one of the companies that’s supposed to be “elite” in the indie world. EVOLVE is one of those places that’s so serious they make ROH seem like CHIKARA, Thankfully they at least book El Generico to lighten the mood up a little. Also appearing for them lately has been Low-Ki, who is the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion but nonetheless won’t be defending that title stateside. If there’s ever anyone who could go back to ROH and shake things up a bit, it’s Low-Ki. Just a strong-style stiff fest between him & Davey would be worth the price of admission. I’d also really like to see his old buddy Homicide forget about this Urban Wrestling Federation horseshit and come feud with Steen. In other EVOLVE news, apparently they are really high on Jon Davis & A.R. Fox right now, whereas a month ago they were ready to stop booking Fox when he couldn’t get into Canada for shows.

–The biggest PPV pooch-screwing of the year featured one of the former Dynamic Dudes, and it wasn’t Over the Limit. It was of course Extreme Reunion, which featured Sabu getting so loaded he had to be carted to the hospital and Justin Credible being so drunk he got kicked out of the arena. Raven also apparently dogged it completely, running some quasi-Flock gimmick and not actually wrestling. Despite this complete mess being a clear and utter sign that someone had failed completely (and I’m guessing this someone wore tassels on his boots), they will allegedly be running another show, this time in NYC in June. This one is said to be taking place in a new venue. Shane, if you’re out there: I loved ECW as much as anyone, but you gotta let it go. ECW’s had more “reunion” tours under various different names than the Grateful Dead, and every time it’s worse and worse. None of those guys are getting any younger, yknow? Try running a show that feels like ECW but features new talent, maybe that will get people excited again. It worked for MLW in 2003 for a while, until it stopped working.

–At this point the goings on of FCW are going to be covered under the NXT reviews, but until then, well, there pretty much won’t be any FCW soon. It was announced at their tapings in Tampa that FCW will be coming to an end, as the show will basically be folded into WWE NXT. Not really a change for the company, and probably a great opportunity for all their talent to shine on a wider scale. I’m thinking I’m going to make watching the Full Sail tapings a more regular habit. I haven’t heard anyone make any comparisons about WWE running their developmental in TNA’s backyard. Kinda bums me out when I think of how much wrestling I’d be getting to see if I still lived in Orlando.

Also in FCW news, internet sensation Dean Ambrose apparently suffered a shoulder injury against Seth Rollins at the recent TV taping. Bad news for him, as he’s been working dark matches against Zack Ryder with the Raw brand and is apparently all but ready to be moved to the main roster. Still, it’s likely that Ambrose will be building his name on promos rather than matches to start out, so as long as he doesn’t need invasive surgery, this shouldn’t derail his career too bad.

The other FCW/NXT standouts that WWE is high on are the Rotunda brothers. Taylor Rotunda was formerly known as Bo Rotunda but is now called Bo Dallas, and he has the look of a rock & roll underdog babyface. Windham Rotunda was better known as Husky Harris but has now completely captured the attention of the internet with his awesome new Bray Wyatt gimmick. Everyone needs to watch the “I’m No White Trash” promo and tell me they don’t think this gimmick will be the new Raven. Even though he’s doing another take on Waylon Mercy, anyone who remembers Waylon Mercy will remember that it never really lived up to its potential before Dan Spivey retired. God bless Husky for trying something new, and I hope he rides this one right to the main roster.

–In the world of fun indie links how about Isys Ephex vs. Jason Axe from the Squared Circle Wrestling show I attended last month in Watertown. I don’t think you can see me anywhere in the video but this match was SIIICK. Even if you’re not into hardcore, Isys’ bladejob has to be seen. The guy blew out the Muta scale, and from up close I can tell you he looked like he carved a huge vagina in his forehead. Also notable was the face-first curb stomp into the tacks. This is not for the weak of stomach.

–Until ROH wants to run for me, take my word for it. Get off your ass and support your local wrestling scene.

Smackdown – May 25, 2012

Smackdown
Date: May 25, 2012
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Michael Cole, Booker T, Josh Matthews

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

It’s after Over the Limit and Sheamus is still champion after a
pretty fun fatal fourway. Other than that there isn’t much to talk about
other than a new Intercontinental Champion in the form of Christian. We
begin the build to No Way Out tonight but since Raw was mostly a
throwaway show, I’d expect about the same thing here. Hopefully it’s
better than last week’s. Let’s get to it.

The opening is about Cena vs. Ace from the PPV and the fallout from Raw.

Do you know your enemy? Mine is three and a half minute recaps of a story that I didn’t like when it aired on Raw.

Here’s Eve to open us up in the arena. Ace isn’t here tonight so
she’s in charge. Ace is going to deal with Cena on Monday so tonight,
she’s going to deal with Sheamus. Sheamus is going to issue a public
apology for running over Ace on Monday and also, she’ll name his #1
contender. Cue Alberto who sucks up to Eve for awhile. She says no one
is more deserving than him, but here’s Orton for a rebuttal.

He introduces himself to Eve and asks the fans who they would like to
see. After the obvious response, here’s Kane. Kane says he should get
to face “that pasty white Irish ghost.” If you need more convincing,
tonight is episode #666 of Smackdown. Eve makes a triple threat for the
title shot.

Christian vs. Hunico

Non-title here. Christian takes him down with a forearm but stops to
go after Camacho, allowing Hunico to
get in a shot and a suicide dive. A
springboard dive misses and Christian takes over again. A big right
hand puts Hunico on his knee and a middle rope back elbow puts him on
his back. After a baseball slide takes out Hunico, it’s Killswitch and
Frog Splash for the pin at 3:03.

Rating: C-. Not bad here as Hunico is a guy that is
very slowly growing on me. I like Christian using the frog splash better
than just the Killswitch as it looks more devastating. It’s also more
of a face move which furthers his turn a little more. This made
Christian look good but let Hunico get in some offense at the same time.
Proper jobber usage makes me happy.

Cody comes out with Christian still in the ring. He talks about how
he spent eight months making the title important again after it had been
held by jokes. Cody restored it to greatness that people like Razor
Ramon and Shawn Michaels and Cody Rhodes gave it. It won’t take him
eight months to get it back, but rather 3 seconds.

Darren Young/Titus O’Neil vs. Usos

Jimmy vs. Titus to start. This is due to some argument in the back
earlier today where they made fun of each others’ dances. The Usos take
over quickly and double team O’Neil in the corner. Young kicks Jey in
the back though and the NXT Crew takes over. Titus suplexes Young onto
Jey for two. Young misses a charge and it’s off to Jimmy. He cleans a
few rooms of the house and everything breaks down. Jey looks to set up
the Superfly Splash but Young crotches him and the Demolition
Decapitator gets the pin at 3:12. The Millions of Dollars dance is still
good.

Rating: D+. Just a tag match for the most part here,
but again I have to ask: where was this from Young/O’Neil for a year on
NXT? This was entertaining and I’m liking this team more when they’re
on every week. They have charisma and show off out there, which is what
they never did on the yellow show. Alas, the Usos are the tag team
jobbers now.

Sin Cara returns next week.

Ryback vs. Brian Edwards/Kevin Bendol

The jobbers make fun of the town some more and I think you can figure
this one out. Ryback’s left eye is MESSED UP. It’s all bruised and it
looks like there’s blood in it. The cannon fodder doesn’t have to tag.
Ryback picks one of them up in a powerbomb position and slams him into
the other guy. Powerbomb kills one and the clothesline kills another.
Ryback picks one of them up for the MuscleBuster, then picks the other
one up AT THE SAME TIME. He walks them around and a double MuscleBuster
ends this at 1:26. That ending was awesome.

Santino Marella vs. Ricardo Rodriguez

This should be entertaining. It’s a continuation of Ricardo getting
beaten up on Raw. Ricardo wrestles in his tuxedo and has his own theme
music. He introduces himself as well which is amusing. Santino hooks a
headlock but Ricardo shoves him off and runs the ropes while Santino
watches. We get an airplane spin from Santino but he makes himself dizzy
and falls to the floor. He crawls under the ring and sneaks up on
Ricardo so that the Cobra can end it at 1:50. Comedy matches are fine.

Here’s Sheamus for his apology. Sheamus says it was an accident but
it was accidentally on purpose. He apologizes for Ace being so horrible
and for Eve and Otunga being so far up Johnny that they can tell what he
has for breakfast. Oh and Big Show sucks too. As for No Way Out, he
wants to face Orton. Here’s Vickie for some reason who says Eve has made
a match for Sheamus.

Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger

They lock up and go into the corner with no one getting an advantage.
Some elbows to the face knock Swagger back but Sheamus misses a charge
into the corner. It turns into a fist fight which puts Jack down,
followed by the top rope shoulder for two. Swagger goes to the floor so
Sheamus runs him over out there too. Vickie offers a distraction which
lets Swagger knock Sheamus off the apron and possibly injure the champ’s
ankle.

We take a break and come back with Swagger working on both the ankle
and the shoulder. He DDTs the leg for two. Swagger ties it up in the
ropes in the corner but misses a kick. Sheamus hits a neckbreaker and
both guys are down. The champ comes back with the ax handles and the
forearms in the ropes. Jack kicks him in the ankle again and goes for
the ankle lock but Sheamus kicks him off. Brogue Kick misses and Swagger
takes out the leg for two. Booker: “Two and three quarters. That’s a
victory!” Sheamus escapes the gutwrench powerbomb and the Brogue Kick
finishes at 6:56 shown of 10:26.

Rating: C. This was fine. Swagger is firmly cemented
in his jobber to the stars status and given how dull he’s become
lately, that’s about as much as he can ask for. Sheamus looked decent
here but he still needs some more development. It’s not an emergency
though as the fans are cheering him very strong at the moment. Decent
match.

Big Show will speak later. Cole says these might be the darkest days
in WWE history. I know Cole is known for hyperbole, but are you kidding
me?

Yoshi Tatsu vs. Damien Sandow

Sandow does his usual stuff before the match. I’m digging the
Backlund robe too. Yoshi is an ignoramus and a dunce. The hot pink
trunks work too. Yoshi charges and Sandow hides in the ropes while
shouting at the referee to “please do your job thank you!” Sandow gets a
shot in and the neckbreaker ends this at 45 seconds.

We look at the ending to the Ryback match again.

No Way Out ad, set like a 1920s silent movie. AJ is tied to railroad
tracks, Bryan saves her, and AJ ties him up. She has a mustache now too.
Cool?

We recap Big Show on Raw and at the PPV, because we might have
forgotten it in the last hour and fifteen minutes. And Cole, it still
isn’t the darkest day in WWE history.

Here’s Big Show for an explanation. Show says he was never fired
until a few weeks ago. Everyone here has probably been fired, but they
don’t love what they do. He’s a 7’4 giant and loves to wrestle. No one
offered him any sympathy and he wasn’t too pleased with that. Show is
sitting on a stool for this. After all the years he’s been here, that’s
what he gets? The fans think he sold out which he denies.

After everything he’s done, this is the thanks he gets? It made him
realize he has no friends and that he’s alone in this world. Then he got
a phone call. The fans chant for Cena. Show says he made a deal with
Ace to come back with a new contract and a big fat bonus. He knew
exactly what he would do and he knows he’ll knock Cena out at the PPV.
The fans never cared for him and now he doesn’t care for them. Why
couldn’t we get this explanation on Raw? Didn’t he say he didn’t owe us
one? Still though, it’s better than nothing.

As Show is leaving, here’s Kane. I guess we’re running short on time
because he’s just coming out for the main event early. As Kane gets in,
Bryan appears and beats the tar out of Kane with a chair. He probably
hit him 20 times. I’m not sure if you can call this a face action or
not, but it draws a HUGE YES chant.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane

The winner gets Sheamus at No Way Out. Kane is going to give it a go
here. Orton goes after Alberto to start but punches Kane a bit too. Del
Rio gets knocked to the floor and Kane hits the low dropkick on Orton
for two. Orton hits his backbreaker but Del Rio makes the save. Kane
knocks both of them to the floor and follows them to the outside. He
beats up both guys but Orton comes back and rams both of them into the
barricade and adds a few shots to the table for Kane.

Orton loads up the elevated DDT but Alberto hits an enziguri to break
that up. We take a break and come back with Kane hitting Del Rio with
an uppercut. Orton takes one as well which gets two for Kane. An elbow
drop gets the same. Del Rio hits the enziguri to the shoulder and Kane
goes down, giving Team Mexico control. Orton backdrops him to the apron
and dropkicks him to the floor, but he walks into a side slam for two.

Kane goes up for the clothesline but Del Rio comes back in and runs
up the corner for an enziguri that puts Kane on the floor. A big kick
misses and Orton comes back. Kane comes back in and takes the powerslam,
as does Del Rio. Del Rio goes to the corner but Orton hits the elevated
DDT to bring him back down. The RKO is escaped and Kane pulls Randy to
the floor and sends him into the steps.

The top rope clothesline misses but the cross armbreaker is escaped
and Kane hits the chokeslam. Here’s Bryan again with the chair but Kane
sees him coming. Kane chases him off but as he gets back in, here’s
Bryan again. Kane sees him again and stares him down. As Kane turns
around he walks into the RKO. Del Rio kicks Orton away and steals the
pin at 7:51 shown of 11:21.

Rating: C+. This was pretty good, although the chair
attack before the match didn’t wind up amounting to that much. Del Rio
vs. Sheamus doesn’t really blow my skirt up but it’s what they’ve wanted
to do for months. The interesting thing is Kane vs. Bryan as it looks
like that’s what they’re building to. I don’t think Bryan vs. Punk was
officially announced but I could easily see it turning into a triple
threat. Good main event here.

Sheamus kicks Del Rio’s head off to end the show.

Overall Rating: B-. This was a much more
entertaining episode than last week. It set up a few matches for the PPV
and we got the explanation from Big Show that we didn’t have time for
on Raw. This show could almost be called a supplement to Monday and in
that regard, it was ok. Ryback continues to be awesome and I’m intrigued
by where this Bryan thing is going. Much better show this week.

Results
Christian b. Hunico – Frog Splash
Darren Young/Titus O’Neil b. Usos – Demolition Decapitator to Jimmy
Ryback b. Brian Edwards/Kevin Bendol – Double MuscleBuster
Santino Marella b. Ricardo Rodriguez – Cobra
Sheamus b. Jack Swagger – Brogue Kick
Damien Sandow b. Yoshi Tatsu – Neckbreaker
Alberto Del Rio b. Randy Orton and Kane – Del Rio pinned Kane after an RKO from Orton

Remember to like this on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @kbreviews

I miss real tag team matches

Jericho posted a link to the classic Raw tag match with him/Benoit vs. HHH/Austin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-SomfgOE0E&feature=youtube_gdata_player.  As I was watching, I just couldn't believe how fast paced it was compared to any style match these days.  Then I realized that because Vince hates tag teams, they haven't really put on a proper tag match in so long that they forgot why the formula has worked (and always will).  That the matches can be worked at a much higher pace where you can either hide the shortcomings of out of shape guys and still have fun matches that plays to each wrestler's strengths, or stick 4 talented guys in there and just light the building on fire like these guys did back in the day.
Evidence item # 4,278,321 as to how clueless Vince is in regards to product quality these days.

 

Well, there was the period a few years ago with Jericho/Show v. Batista/Rey that was really great precisely because they worked the formula like you're talking about.  It's becoming more of a problem of a self-fulfilling prophecy these days where Vince has no confidence in the tag teams, so they're emphasized less and given shorter matches, so people care about them less, so Vince has less confidence in them, and on and on.  

The SmarK Rant for Impact Wrestling–05.24.12

The SmarK Rant for TNA Impact Wrestling – 05.24.12 This trainwreck at least HAS to be more interesting than Smackdown these days. Taped from Orlando, FL Your hosts are Mike Tenay & Taz Hulk Hogan gives the troops a peptalk backstage, and he goes over the format sheet for tonight and talks about how all the MOMENTUM that TNA has are breaking the format because they can’t be contained by regular TV production. So it’s Open Fight Night, which means a title shot tonight and anyone can challenge anyone else, and Hogan grills Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles about which of them should get the shot tonight. The upshot is that Hogan wants Roode to lose tonight, so it’s not Bully Ray getting the shot. Ouch. This was an interesting reality-show type backstage segment, filmed and produced differently than their usual ones. Eric Young & ODB v. Gail Kim & Madison Rayne This comes from a pretty brutal challenge promo by Gail Kim, as she delivers a stilted speech about being the most dominant Knockouts champion in TNA’s history. Young trades headlocks with Kim, and ODB comes in to clean house on the heels as we take a break. Back with Rayne working ODB over and getting an elbow for two. ODB spears Kim out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Young, but of course he’s not allowed to do anything. Or I guess not, as he slams the girls, but ODB nags him about putting his pants back on. And who hasn’t been there? Sadly, she’s so distracted by Young’s speedo that she gets tripped up and pinned by Kim at 8:50. I’m assuming this was non-title but it wasn’t really made clear. Rob Van Dam v. Gunner Apparently Gunner injured RVD some months ago, and RVD wants to settle it. I’m down with that kind of reasoning. They brawl outside and Gunner throws a chair in, but RVD gets into a slugfest with him instead and hits the spinkick. Rolling Thunder, but he misses a spinkick in the corner and Gunner takes over. He charges, however, and runs into a leg lariat and then gets Van Daminated. His own damn fault for bringing that chair in. Five Star Frog splash finishes impressively at 2:48. *1/2 TV title: Devon v. Garrett Bischoff Devon throws out the challenge based off getting eliminated in a battle royale last week. But they’re still cool with each other. Devon puts him down with a back elbow, but misses a splash to allow Garrett to get a neckbreaker. Devon shrugs that one off cheerfully. And then the Robbies run in for the DQ while Devon is casually holding a headlock. The babyfaces team up to get rid of the doofuses (doofusae?) and Garrett can barely clothesline someone over the top rope properly. Meanwhile, Hulk eliminates Jeff Hardy because his win-loss record just isn’t up to snuff lately. Hulk promises to choose between Angle and AJ later. Bully Ray v. JOSEPH PARK, ESQ. Bully calls Joseph out of the audience, but he’s never been in a fight before and he’s a little intimidated. But then he uses his LAWYERING skill to go all Matlock on Bully Ray and accuse him of masterminding Abyss’ disappearance. Bully takes offense and beats the hell out of him. Gut Check Challenge: Austin Aries v. Joey Ryan Ryan looks like a skinny 80s jobber trying to look like goofy 80s Scott Hall. Aries easily dominates him, but goes up and gets crotched for two. Ryan with a back elbow for two. Aries fires back with a spinning elbow, but Ryan bails to the apron and gets a sunset flip. Aries rolls through it and dropkicks him, but Ryan hits a pumphandle suplex for two. Pretty nice little sequence there. Aries comes right back with a throw into the corner and hits him with the dropkick into the corner, and finishes with the brainbuster at 4:10. Good effort from the indy geek here. He needs an image makeover, but I’d hire him. ** TNA World title: Bobby Roode v. AJ Styles Hogan brings out both potential challengers and then picks AJ because he knows Roode better. AJ dominates and tosses Roode, and we take a break. Back with Roode sending AJ into the post to injure the shoulder, and back in for two. Roode works the arm, but charges and gets backdropped to the floor, and AJ follows with a dive. AJ gets distracted by something on the ramp and that allows Roode the chance to hiptoss him onto the stairs, and back in for two. And we take another break. Back with Roode dropping a knee for two and going to a surfboard, but AJ breaks free and tries the springboard. Roode breaks that up, but AJ fires back with the springboard forearm after all, and gets two. To the top, but AJ fights him off and comes down with the missile dropkick for two. They trade finisher attempts and Roode catapults him into the corner and then follows with a spear for two. Into the crossface, but AJ rolls him over for two. Roode tries it again, but AJ reverses to an Indian deathlock, forcing Roode into the ropes. AJ sets up to finish, but Roode backdrops out and into the spinebuster, and the fisherman’s suplex gets two. Another one is reversed into the Pele kick and AJ goes out to the apron, but blows the 450 springboard, allowing Roode to finish with the suplex at 21:13 and set the record for longest reigning champion. Hell of a TV match, though. **** After one last break, Bobby Roode celebrates his win and calls out Hogan to celebrate with him, but Hulk brings out Sting, who is apparently the SHOCKING special guest promised all episode. So next week it’s Roode v. Sting in a lumberjack match on the first live show. Whoopee. The Pulse The closing angle was pretty underwhelming, but I actually enjoyed this show more than RAW as of late. It was certainly more logically booked. I’ll probably stick with this over Smackdown for a while and see where the live TV thing goes.

Behind-the-scenes at WWE, Part Deux

Hello again, Scott
Since the first entry went so well, I figured I’d peddle along the rest of the information that the writing assistant on GameFAQs.com spilled in the rest of his topic.

My bank account thanks you.

On the interview process and pay:
“Pay was $13 an hour with time and a half for overtime, and there was lots and lots of overtime. I worked 50-60 hours every week.
Interviews were pretty typical. They asked me questions about past job experiences, why I wanted to work for WWE, and made sure I knew the high demands I was getting myself into. I don’t think a degree would be enough necessarily. The other writer’s assistants got in because they had a good amount of TV experience. One of them, the oldest, used to be Howard Stern’s personal assistant for a few years. Another worked on Maury. Another worked for ESPN. I had an internship at CNBC while in college, have a documentary that’s played around the world (rather not divulge it) and had some people put in a good word. Plus I was hired by a clueless dude as stated earlier. But a big part of interviews is also just being clean-cut, professional and charismatic and acting like someone that people would want to work with.”
On if he hid his WWE fandom when interviewed:
“No on the contrary. I wrote “Life-long WWE fan” on my resume and brought a picture of myself at age 10 dressed up as Kane to show the interviewers. I had three interviews, two of which were just normal HR corporate people who didn’t really know anything about the product and didn’t recognize Kane in the photo so they were just mildly amused. The third interview, and the guy who probably made the decision to hire me, was by a guy who was head of Creative or something at the time. However by the time I actually started working he had already been let go, and from what I heard from coworkers he was pretty much wildly incompetent and knew nothing about the product. So it was probably kind of a fluke that I got hired at all.”
On meeting Vince:
“Yes I met Vince on one occasion. I was leaving work for the evening and bumped into him at the elevators. I was sort of blindsided and blurted out “Hi Vince!” instead of Mr. McMahon but he didn’t seem to mind. I introduced myself as a new writer’s assistant and he shook my hand. We shared an elevator down and he said something like “Welcome aboard. You know we need a lot of smart minds in that writer’s room” and I said yes sir. I said that it was a dream come true to be working there and I was a fan since I was 6 years old. That made him smile and he said “Thank you.” He got off to leave and since then I only caught a few glimpses of him backstage at Survivor Series. Seeing him in the halls of the building is like seeing a Mewtwo.”
On Vince’s presence at shows:
“Vince goes to every TV taping and has for the last however many thousands of years. I remember a note coming in towards the end of my run there that Vince may start not going to every single show soon, and that was groundbreaking news. I’m not completely sure but I think Triple H travels with Vince every time.
Vince was very close to coming back on TV at one point around the Kevin Nash conspiracy text message crap, and even facing Punk in a match on RAW, but changed his mind and decided to remain off TV.”
On Triple H:
“Triple H gets a ton of undeserved heat. I’ve never heard of him changing feuds purposely to get more attention, or burying guys because of a vendetta against them. I don’t think he gives a crap. He has a day-to-day job at Titan Tower as head of Talent Development. He’s there every day in a suit and tie. His concerns these days are with developing FCW talent and bringing them up in the best way possible. And when Vince has a crazy idea, Triple H is often the voice of reason in the meetings. In my time there I got the impression that the storylines will make much more sense when Triple H inherits the reigns. The IWC should consider him a friend, not a foe.
The only thing is that Triple H vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania 28 was locked in stone, and no one was gonna tell Vince or Triple H otherwise.”
On how the writers view wrestlers:
“The writers don’t usually have strong feelings for or against any particular guys. They’re just characters in the fiction that they’re writing. Although some guys have a reputation for being crappy ring workers, like Mason Ryan and Zeke Jackson. But on other people opinions are usually mixed. For example, I never gave a crap about Ted DiBiase, but one of the writers really liked him for some reason. Though ultimately it all just comes down to making a good show. They realize that they’re responsible to serve all the characters on their roster, with first priority being the talented ones who can work storylines and draw. So when Barrett was doing nothing for a while in early September, there came a point where they said “Alright, we’re not using Wade to his full potential.” The Barrett Barrage became a story, Wade got a win streak and was pushed back into the limelight for a time until his injury.”
On proposed angles that were rejected or dropped:
“Hm the first one that comes to mind was kind of a joke. With the tag division in pathetic shape, Brian Gewirtz suggested to throw Tyson Kidd and Heath Slater together as a tag team and call them The Rock and Roll Kids. We all kind of laughed about it but he even pitched it to Vince. Vince didn’t go for it.
There was brief discussion of some wilder ideas, like making Mason Ryan gay or giving Alex Riley a long-term storyline where he fakes having cancer to get sympathy from the crowd. Both of these never made it anywhere.
Kaitlyn was supposed to be the third heel diva to join Beth and Natalya in the Divas of Doom. They even went so far as to have her turn on AJ at Smackdown, but due to poor planning the segment was really poorly done. Kaitlyn, Beth and Natalya didn’t really know what to do and it didn’t look good so it was edited out of the show and planned to be re-done the following week. However some other Diva drama came up backstage or whatever, leading to the whole division being kind of in the doghouse in Vince’s mind. Vince ultimately decided there didn’t need to be a third heel diva at all, and broke up Divas of Doom soon after before deciding to push Tamina.
Ziggler and Swagger breaking up was teased at first, but Vince told us to drop it and keep them together.
There was talks for a long time of Layla returning with an eccentric fashion-centered gimmick in the style of Lady Gaga, but obviously that didn’t happen.
When Punk was feuding with Del Rio we had an idea of having Del Rio cutting a promo, when someone dressed up as a WWE ice cream bar comes out from the back. Del Rio assumes its Punk and beats him up, but then tears off the costume to reveal that its Ricardo tied up with tape over his mouth, and it was just a scheme by Punk to mess with Del Rio. It didn’t make much logical sense and never made it to air.
A few of us wanted Cody to go absolutely batshit psychotic after his mask was destroyed and be more of a loose canon character I guess like how Dean Ambrose is. Instead he went back to being regular heel Cody. I’m not sure why.
There were some plans to have Drew McIntyre feud with Sheamus by having Drew bully Sheamus with a picture of him as a little fat kid. There was also a lot of background with them because they wrestled together in the indys but it never got off the ground.
Hunico introduced Primo and Epico and Camacho and the initial plan was to form a stable, but Vince was concerned that it was too gang-like and racist and split them up pretty quick.
At the time I left, the idea was for Zeke’s losing streak to culminate in a heel turn, but that’s yet to happen.
There was an idea to having something that makes the Usos stand apart — one idea was that Jimmy could be really smart and Jey could be really stupid.
They were considering doing a relationship between a face Diva and a heel superstar. I believe the frontrunner was Kelly Kelly with Wade Barrett, but that never happened.”
On meeting Superstars and personalities:
“I had a brief interaction with John Morrison backstage at Survivor Series. I introduced myself awkwardly saying my name was John as well. It was right before he was planning to leave, while I (constantly) was afraid of getting fired any day now. So he said something like “One of us won’t be here anymore in a few weeks!” and I said “Maybe two of us” and he said “Nah you’ll be fine! You have a great name!”
I also saw Sin Cara without his mask backstage (spoilers: looks like a mexican guy). I speak spanish so I wished him good luck. That was the night his knee exploded >_>
I shook Mark Henry’s hand, which is an enormous mass of muscle.
I was ten feet away from The Rock cutting his (completely live btw) backstage promo at Survivor Series. There was a large crowd of crew watching him backstage completely in awe as he went through the whole thing. Backstage promos are usually pre-taped during the show, but Rock insisted on doing it live so he could interact with the crowd.
Personally from what I saw at Survivor Series Punk is kind of antisocial. He may very well be a decent guy too, but I wouldn’t call him approachable.
I saw Michael Hayes regularly. He’s funny as hell. I had John Laurinaitis call me into his office to clear something up with me. I saw John on a few occasions and he was always really nice. He would occasionally pop into the writer’s room just to say hello.
I think Undertaker was backstage at a Raw in Texas just to say hi to people. He was bald with a long grey sort of wizard beard, which I was really hoping he’d have at Wrestlemania but no dice. I didn’t see him as I didn’t travel, but I heard it from the writers who went.”
On being backstage at Survivor Series:
“You’re encouraged to introduce yourself and meet everybody, but everything was so hectic and everyone so busy that I was very hesitant to interrupt most people. I only approached guys who were standing around and not doing much at the time. I was told that even if you think no one is paying attention to you, it doesn’t go unnoticed when you fail to introduce yourself. That being said I did shake the hand of many of the agents including Dustin Runnels, Arn Anderson, and Bill DeMott who gave me the nicest warmest smile and greeting I could imagine. 
But yeah there’s a huge amount of people. If it was a RAW or better yet a Smackdown taping I would’ve been more willing to interrupt people, but it was a big 4 PPV. For christ’s sake, The Rock was walking around backstage. Tension was high.”
On the HHH/Awesome Truth conspiracy angle:
“You’re right, it was a mess and the writers knew it, but by that point they kind of had written themselves into a corner. There’s times where ideas take on a life of their own and you just kind of have to see them through and try to end them and forget them. This was definitely one of those times. I don’t really remember if there was more to it than what made it on TV.
However I thought Awesome Truth was really entertaining, and their run-in at Hell in a Cell was awesome. The walk-out on Triple H didn’t make much sense, but it made for captivating TV for two weeks. Sometimes that’s the only goal.”
On Cena’s work:
“Anybody who calls Cena lazy doesn’t know the first thing about him. The guy is a freakin workhorse and model employee. Him saying he’s not changing for anybody is just his character right now. It doesn’t mean he’ll never turn heel ever ever ever. As far as complaining about his cheesy promos, millions of people love them so the WWE doesn’t give a crap. And this is just speculation, but I believe he used to limit his moveset in the ring to limit the risk of injury — since losing Cena to injury would be a huge wrench in everything. However I think he’s been doing much better in the last couple of years than in the late 2000s.”
On other wrestlers who go the extra mile for WWE:
“I think Miz and Sheamus are two guys who are willing to do anything WWE asks of them, in the ring and out. You’ll notice whenever there’s a wrestler on a talk show or doing some kind of promotion, it’s usually one of them because they’re just good at it and willing to do it. Guys like Punk and Orton would never want to do these things.”
— 
On the TV-PG direction:
“WWE is always looking to expand. They want to be a large media company, that makes movies, has a network, etc. This kind of expansion needs money. And making money is made harder when there’s a segment of the population that thinks you’re trash TV or not suitable for children. Children is how most media companies make money.”
On how the company views TNA:
“I don’t think anyone at WWE really thinks about TNA or has time to care about what they’re doing. They’re not real competition, and they have a very different approach to wrestling that WWE. WWE aspires to always be as sophisticated and professional as possible in their presentation. They want to be grandiose and mainstream, not appeal to a niche. Not to say there’s anything wrong with TNA’s approach, it’s just not what WWE is trying to do.”
On smarks:
“Smarks are seen as a minority that usually shouldn’t be listened to — which from a business standpoint is sort of true. Dirtsheets are sort of laughed at because they’re wrong all the time. Most of what’s on dirstheets is just news aggregated from press releases or superstar twitter accounts. A small portion is speculative stuff about backstage stuff and most of that is total BS. Dirtsheets are an ad-revenue based business so they do what they gotta do to get eyes on their sites – including making stuff up. I think if there were real insiders, surprises like Brodus’s debut or Brock’s would be spoiled well in advance.
I think the writers like to stick to their own ideas until the possibility to make money rears its head. Like when an entire arena is chanting YES YES YES — they go ahead and make a new t-shirt.
But like I said the writers are wrestling fans themselves. They love a great Tyson Kidd match as much as the next smark, but they also know that putting him on RAW against Heath Slater is gonna make the ratings nosedive for that segment.
As for the last question, as much as the writers may hate to admit it they are smarks themselves, so they get a kick out of some smarky things. For example Santino’s joke a few months ago about repealing the rule instated by Jack Tunney about not allowing reptiles at ringside. That came straight from Brian Gewirtz because he always thought that was a funny rule. Most non-smarks wouldn’t get that reference at all.”
On dirtsheet sources:
“No idea who the “sources” were. I wondered that a lot while I worked there. It certainly wasn’t anyone that I worked with on the writing team. Could possibly some dot com guys or crew people that got second hand knowledge of upcoming storylines. Most of what’s on the dirtsheets is made up bullcrap though. Very rarely does a true backstage story make it out. When you hear something like “The original plan was to have so and so win, but a last minute change…” that’s almost always completely wrong.”
On the writers’ reaction when a heel is cheered or face is booed:
“I think it’s just part of the business. Also the writers are well aware that there are smark cities and mark cities, so they have a good idea of the kind of reaction certain things will get in certain places. Occasionally they’re completely wrong though. Many of them expected Zack Ryder to get heavily booed at Survivor Series because “New Yorkers hate Long Islanders” but they couldn’t have been more wrong.”
On bad pitches:
“I don’t know about pitches really because I was never in the room for the Vince meetings where things were pitched to him. However if the writers thought it was a bad idea, it would never get pitched to Vince in the first place. The bad ideas that make it on TV are often coming from Vince himself.”
On the writers’ involvement with the WWE Network:
“I even brought that up one time like “Who exactly is going to write and work on all these shows on the new network?” and my coworkers didn’t really know. I assume the plan was/is to bring in new writers to work on those shows — specifically ones with lots of reality TV production experience. But to this day I have no real idea what part of the company was working on the network. There was a lot of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing at WWE.”
On any writers left over from the Attitude Era:
“Gewirtz and Ed Koskey. I’m not sure when Dave Kapoor started, but they’re the oldest. Everyone else has been around less than three years. Most less than one.”
On NXT:
“NXT is written every week by only two writers, and they pretty much have free reign to do whatever they want, so they had a lot of fun with the whole Maxin/Bateman/Curtis soap opera. I remember people questioning when the season would end. At one point the 100th episode in Las Vegas was supposed to be the end, with Bateman and Maxine getting married, but it kept going after that for some reason.
I don’t know much else, but the road team writer that worked on NXT was always praising Bateman, Maxine and Curtis for their talents and enthusiasm. They all loved working together. You gotta remember that although NXT and Superstars are just web shows in America, they do air on TV internationally and actually pull good ratings in some parts of the world.”
On the Divas:
“The biggest complainers are probably the Divas, and rightfully so. They always wish they were getting more TV time and longer matches and I can’t blame them. Daniel Bryan as I stated before complained a lot about the girlfriend story with AJ, but I bet he ain’t complaining now.
The divas all seem very nice and friendly. I only managed to introduce myself to AJ backstage at Survivor Series. She was sweet and introduced herself as April. Beth, Natalya and Alicia walked by me on a few occasions backstage and smiled or nodded professionally.”
On Kharma:
“By the time I started Kharma had already left for several months for her pregnancy, so I don’t know what they had in mind long term. They were probably playing it by ear and seeing what kind of reaction she got.
I remember hearing about her miscarriage way before it made it to the dirtsheets. Like months before. When we’d try to find out when she’d be back, the answer we’d get would basically be that she’s on an indefinite personal leave until further notice.”
On Randy Orton:
“Don’t know much about Orton. I get the impression that he too is a joker that messes around with people, but pretty reserved like his on screen character. The only thing I saw him do backstage at Survivor Series was take pictures with a family that was brought backstage for some reason. Also I heard a story from some random RAW/SD where Orton was waiting in gorilla to go out for his match up next, right behind the curtain. In gorilla is usually Vince, Triple H, the agent of the match, sometimes Stephanie and a writer or two if they’re not busy doing something else. Anyway Orton’s getting ready to go out, and he turns his back to everyone and starts peeing in a trash can in gorilla. Triple H is like “Randy what the hell are you doing?” and he just shrugs and says “I always get the urge to pee before I go out.”
On Jinder Mahal:
“Well I guess he was brought in for the Indian audiences, though his storyline with Khali and Ranjin Singh (played by Raw head writer Dave Kapoor) was kinda dropped. I guess Jinder is one of those guys that Vince saw something in. I remember we would get notes from meetings with him on the road that would say like
* From now on VKM wants Jinder to speak only in Punjabi
then a few weeks later he cuts a promo in english, then we’d get a note like
* VKM says Jinder should always speak in an indian accent 
and then that wouldn’t last very long either. 
*Jinder Mahal will start wearing a turban to the ring 
The last Jinder-related note I remember was
* VKM wants Jinder to put his turban in a glass case before his match. 
So these ideas all coming from Vince, I think it was safe to assume Vince saw a lot of potential in the Jinder character as an anti-american heel.”
On other random superstars that he was asked about:
“Christian- It’s acknowledged that he’s getting older and is probably best served to put over younger talent at this point in his career. He does have a rep for complaining when he feels he’s not being used right.
Curt Hawkins – Respected for being good at his position. He’s a good jobber because he bumps well and makes guys look good.
Evan Bourne- Evan Bourne was kind of a hush hush topic. The head writers didn’t really tell us much about what was going on with him until it was pretty public knowledge that he had fucked up twice. But lots of people fuck up twice. Evan just had the misfortune of breaking his ankle right as he was gearing up to come back.
The Great Khali- When Henry was champion there was a point where he was supposed to feud with Khali, but his injuries threw a wrench into the whole story and he dropped the belt. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Khali gets pushed again one day.
Hunico- I think it was at a Smackdown taping where there were a number of heels in the ring cutting a promo. During a commercial break, Vince told them via headset to give the mic to Hunico, just to see what he could do on the fly without warning. Hunico cut a good promo off the top of his head and that really impressed Vince. I think he’s been in Vince’s good graces ever since. 
Jack Swagger- Swagger is complicated. I got the impression that nobody had much faith in him on the mic, and though his character is obviously stale and has degenerated to jobber status, at the time that I was at WWE the roster was very thin. People kept getting injured and no new stars were coming in. So we kind of needed someone in Swagger’s position — a big guy who looks like a serious competitor but can be beaten to make someone else looks good. And like I said earlier, Vince had no intention of splitting up Ziggler and Swagger, so a face turn was not in the cards for the time being. Quick story about Swagger. On the Muppets episode of RAW after he lost to Santino, Swagger kicked the glass beaker out of frustration. It flew into the barricade and smashed on a little girl and her father. WWE took them backstage to check on them and apologize, they met a bunch of superstars and Swagger apologized personally. The father left extremely satisfied with the professionalism of the company and a potential lawsuit was avoided.
JTG- He’s a good jobber and makes guys look good. But I remember he got in big trouble for pulling Tamina’s hair during some random NXT promo. WWE doesn’t even want to think about man-on-woman violence on the program
Mark Henry- He was doing great and Smackdown ratings were up noticeably while he was champion, but he was working injured and then got even more injured to the point that they had to make him drop the title. One day the writers came back from the weekly meeting with Vince and said “Welp, Daniel Bryan is gonna cash in and win this Sunday”
The Miz- I got the impression they didn’t really know what to do with Miz a lot of the time. I don’t know much about his situation now. Maybe Vince is pissed at him. I’m sure the writers couldn’t care less and don’t have any vendetta. It’s a bummer though, because I’m personally a Miz fan.
Sin Cara- I think in general people like Hunico better than Sin Cara because Hunico came up through our own farming system and is very familiar with the WWE style. Sin Cara as has been brought up many times before had a lot of trouble adapting to the American style of wrestling. Also he was a bit of a puss, as he would often complain of some nagging injury. His neck or his shoulder or whatever. There was always something with him. But he’s a god in Mexico, and we just started going to Mexico a few times a year, so to have anyone else but Sin Cara play Sin Cara on a permanent basis would get them eaten alive. I think WWE still feels theres tons of money to be made off Sin Cara, but I’m a big Hunico fan personally.”
On feuds within the company:
“Not among wrestlers. I heard that Cena and Rock aren’t huge fans of each other, but they’re professional about it. Like I’ve stated before Gewirtz doesn’t like Paul Heyman because of some history they have. I hear the Divas all mostly hate each other and are very catty and competitive because Diva TV time is so sparse. Don’t know much else.”
On Vince’s treatment of Jim Ross:
“It’s clear that Vince has something against JR, but nobody knows why. Vince got a big kick out of any opportunity to embarrass JR on TV, but Jim is always a good sport about it. I remember nobody wanting to be the one that gets on the phone with JR because he’ll talk your ear off for two hours. I think some people think JR was a better EVP of Talent Relations that Laurinaitis is.”
On the reaction to the Cranky Vince twitter feed:
“Yes I first learned about it while working there and we would laugh about it all the time because Vince can be like that sometimes. He says “GODDAMMIT” a lot from what I hear. However the consensus is that it’s probably a former writer, because they know a lot of stuff only insiders would know but it doesn’t really match what’s currently happening in real time. So I think it’s just an ex-writer guessing.”
On anyone not on TV that the company is high up on:
“Good question, but no one really comes to mind. Of the FCW group, I know there’s high expectations for Husky Harris and Bo Rotundo as well as Richie Steamboat. One writer based out of Baltimore was friends with Calvin Raines so he’s been rooting for him. I think Seth Rollins is looked down on a bit as an indy darling, but it’s not serious. The Baltimore based writer also watched TNA pretty regularly, and often said he wished WWE raided them for talent. Specifically Bobby Roode and James Storm.”
On dark matches and house shows:
“The agents script house shows. Usually one of them is assigned to book and run the whole show. They used to send us reports via email after every house show. One of my favorites was — I think maybe from Arn Anderson — “Alex Riley went out for his match, slipped on the turnbuckle while going up for his taunt, and that was the best part of the match”
Dark matches seem to be reserved for developmental talent nowadays and matches on Superstars usually just comes down to who isn’t being used that night on RAW/SD.”
On if the writers dislike the gimmick PPV format:
“I’m sure some of them do, but its completely out of their hands. It’s ultimately (I’m assuming) a business decision. Giving each PPV a gimmick makes it special and gives you a reason to buy, unlike the generic ones where buyrates can vary wildly based on feuds. They probably want to create some sort of predictability in their business model. For example there’s already low expectations for any December PPV because people usually splurge on Survivor Series and then save their money for holiday shopping and the Royal Rumble.”
On the possibility of Slammy awards and fan polls being rigged:
“Online and TV polls are 100% real. They’re pretty honest with all that stuff. The viewer polls are real, and that glitch or mistake in the accounting system was real. I don’t think it’ll be a problem. The script will just say like “CHRISTIAN vs. [VIEWERS CHOICE]” or something like that. It’s not a big deal. They’ll probably decide on the fly who wins, or already have finishes planned for each of the possible opponents.”
On any ideas he had that were successful:
“My responsibilities were not really to be creative. I was welcome to throw in my 2 cents on discussions and brainstorms, but I didn’t write anything. I was mostly just the creative team’s bitch. However there are two things that made it to TV I can take credit for. When the Slammys were coming up and we were given the task to come up with names for the awards, I’m the one that threw out “Game Changer of the Year” which everybody liked and eventually made it to air.  For the montage for Pipebomb of the Year, an email was sent out asking us to reply with some of our favorite quotes from the past year and a couple of mine got in. The only one I remember is R-Truth saying “THE GRITS ARE GON HIT THE PAN!” 
Also on my last week working there, I suggested combining a Miz vs. Truth and Sheamus vs. Somebody match into one tag team match. Leading to Sheamus teaming up with R-Truth, which to my knowledge had never occurred before or since. Pretty minor things, I know.”
On any of his ideas that he wished were approved:
“Probably turning Swagger or Miz face. Or bringing up Brad Maddox. I pitched an idea for a love triangle between AJ, Zack Ryder and eventually AJ’s “old boyfriend” played by Brad Maddox. This was way before the AJ/Daniel Bryan storyline.”
On his favorite and least favorite memories during his tenure:
“Greatest memory was probably meeting Vince in the elevator, or some of the moments from Survivor Series. Watching the Rock cut his promo live. Standing around backstage with some of the superstars watching the matches on a big TV. Little things like at one point I was given the task to fetch Stephanie her iPad while she was in gorilla and she gave me a smile and a thank you when I handed it to her. 
Least favorite memory is probably several uncomfortable moments being reprimanded by my boss Brian Gewirtz, who is a genius but not much of a people person.”
On working there diminished his fandom:
“No. This was a concern of mine before I started. Like I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it anymore after looking behind the curtain, but it’s been quite the opposite. While I worked there I really enjoyed seeing how things I read in the script would translate to the screen, and how people would react to storylines, and playing dumb on the forum. Now that I’m not there anymore, whenever they’re backstage I look out for people I know or can just imagine how the stories and discussions came up. Or a joke from months ago like Nattie Neidfart will make it on screen and I’ll crack up. It’s fun and gave me a new appreciation for the business.”
On if he has anything left from his time at WWE:
“When I was released they took my ID Badge, Blackberry and laptop so I don’t really have anything from there besides free DVDs and action figures that anyone could have.”

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 99

(No mean-spirited trick post this time around, fear not.  I only like to screw with my audience’s heads once or twice a year at most.)  What if they gave a PPV and nobody cared? The Netcop Rant for WCW Slamboree 1999 – Live from St. Louis, Missouri. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Mike. – Okay, those not aware of my patented rating system, I’ll be using the Hot Poker Up the Ass system to rate the matches tonight.  In a nutshell, for bad things that happen, I shove imaginary flaming pokers up Tony Schiavone’s ass , and for good things, I cool him off by shoving cool, refreshing bottles of Surge(tm) up his ass.  In order to prevent permanent scarring to poor Tony’s tender areas, we’ll limit ourselves to 10 pokers and bottles of Surge(tm) either way. – Opening match, WCW World tag team titles:  Kidman & Rey Mysterio v. The Vanilla Midgets v. The Flock 2.0.  STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!  You don’t start out the show with the only match that is guaranteed not to suck.  (Well, another theory would say you do open the show with it because it’s a hot start to the show.)  Big mistake, I’m predicting it right now, because you can only go downhill from here.  (You can say that about a lot of WCW things in general.)  Anyway, Horsemen get a big heel pop, Flock gets a big face pop, and the champs are somewhere in between.  Saturn, Kidman, and Malenko start out, with Saturn and Kidman double-teaming Malenko. Kidman does the over-the-top bump from the belly-to-belly early.  Great double-team german suplex from the Horsemen.  Why is Rey dressed like a Godwinn?  Horsemen are drawing mad heel heat.  Beautiful sequence as Malenko alley-oops Rey to the top rope, and he comes back with a moonsault.  Just gorgeous.  Everyone fights to the floor, leaving Benoit against Raven.  Horsemen seem to be controlling the flow here, stomping everyone into oblivion at one point and tossing the fallen team members to the floor with regularity.  Big highspot crashup leaves everyone fighting on the floor.  Benoit and Saturn are left in the ring by default and Benoit takes advantage with the ROLLING GERMAN SUPLEX~! Malenko must be in a bad mood today or something, he’s spitting on the faces a lot.  OH MY GOD…Malenko actually powerbombs Kidman without it getting reversed!  This is a historic day!  Dragon suplex from Benoit gets two on Kidman.  I’m impressed at Tony actually calling the match. (I’m less impressed with 1999 Scott for NOT calling the match.)  Raven gets a hot tag and does his rolling vertical suplex~ on Benoit. It’s cooler when Benoit does it.  (Less cool once we realized what damage it was doing to him.)  A true pier-six brawl with everyone doing big moves on everyone else.  Kidman and Rey do the alley-oop rana on Benoit, but when they try it on Saturn he reverses to a superbomb. Kidman goes for the shooting star press, but Kanyon comes out of the audience and pushes him off the top, into an Evenflow DDT for the pin. Malenko had Saturn in the Texas Cloverleaf at the time, but I guess Saturn didn’t give up.  The Flock 2.0 is the new champions, which is the right booking decision.  (Yeah, until Kanyon turned on them for that Jersey Triad bullshit.)  We’ll give Tony 8 bottles of Surge(tm), which should give him some leeway for the crap ahead.  Too much brawling for my tastes, but I’d give it **** easy.  (I don’t see how this couldn’t have ruled.)  – DDP video package. – Gonnad v. Stevie Ray.  An automatic 2 hot pokers for anything involving Gonnad (see Starrcade 98 for the precedent).  (Yeah, I wasn’t a big Konnan fan…well…ever, really.)  We play the CRZ version of the Catchphrases of Doom (basically it involves yelling “you suck” at the TV).  We run through the 3 moves of insufficient doom very early, but Vincent interference gives Stevie Ray the advantage.  Stevie Ray is the only guy in wrestling who has a lazy CHINLOCK for christ’s sake.  I mean, the whole idea of a resthold is that it requires zero effort, but Stevie can’t EVEN DO THAT RIGHT!  (Oddly enough, his color commentary was entertaining in a twisted way, whereas his brother got all the wrestling talent and can’t do coherent commentary to save his life.  That’s some odd DNA.)  Stevie comes off the second rope and Gonnad puts his foot in the air, in the general vicinity of where Ray’s head would be, but no contact is ever made.  Stevie sells anyway.  nWo interferes freely, and Rey Jr. tries to even the odds, so Stevie Ray is nice enough to slowly put Gonnad into the Slapjack and wait for Rey to come off the top rope and allow Gonnad to get the cradle for the pin.  We’ll add another 3 hot pokers for the match, and a bottle of Surge(tm) for at least keeping it short. – Kevin Nash video package. – Sting video package. – DDP meets Bam Bam Bigelow backstage and they have a male bonding moment.  (That ended up being the start of a bad storyline.  They had such a hot series of feuds going over the tag titles, and then the DDP/Bigelow/Kanyon team sucked the life out of the division for good.)  – Brian Knobs v. Bam Bam Bigelow.  The usual international objects line the ring.  Knobs is usual no-selling shitty self.  They fight outside the ring.  I think someone is severely overestimating the Nasty Boys’ worth on the cosmic scale for Knobs to get a job.  (Or severely underestimating Hogan’s influence.)  See, he’s a heel because he yells “Nasty!” every couple of minutes, I guess.  Knobs sells like the Rock — Starts at 100%, takes a bump, shakes his head for a minute, then is back to 100%.  (You shut your filthy whore mouth, 1999 Scott!)  Pretty boring hardcore match, too.  They fight to the back, where a conveniently placed souvenir stand awaits. Knobs pulls back the Wizard of Oz’ magic curtain, revealing a huge section of empty seats.  That’s a no-no, Brian. (Obviously 7000 fans were running to the payphones to call their friends and tell them to tune into the PPV mid-show.)  Knobs hits a version of the Nastie’s patented Shitty Elbow off the balcony to a table below, but Bigelow just no-sells, suplexes Knobs through said table, and gets the pin.  2 hot pokers for Knobs’ involvement.  (So let’s give Brian Knobs a BIGGER push!)  – World TV title match:  Booker T v. Rick Steiner.  Booker gets a rather anemic pop.  Steiner controls with shoulderblocks to start, but Booker comes back with his spinning kicks.  Steiner won’t sell Booker’s stuff for some reason.  (Because he was a grumpy shithead after the team split up?)  Steiner controls with some slow suplexes.  Really dull stuff here.  Steiner is just punching, choking and resting.  Crowd has absolutely no interest in this match.  Booker comes back with the axe-kick and spinebuster.  Missile dropkick, but Scott Steiner runs in and allows Rick a Steinerline for two.  Booker whips Rick into Scott for two.  Scott trips Booker and Rick Steiner gets the neckbreaking bulldog for the pin and TV title.  Oh, fuck you, WCW.  5 hot pokers for putting the TV on Rick Steiner and making a royal fuckup of Booker’s TV title reign.  (Luckily Booker would keep rising up the card, although Steiner would also continue failing up the card.  I kind forgot what my point was supposed to be.)  – Charles Robinson v. Gorgeous George.  Robinson’s robe and haircut is too funny, as he looks like a dead ringer for Flair.  The real Flair and the nurse (Asia?  Oh, I get it, ha ha) (Asya, actually.)  are at ringside.  George has kind of a cheerleader outfit thing going.  Please let this be short.  Please. They fight over a wristlock to start, with Charles even mimicking Flair’s selling.  Then Stall-O-Mania 99 breaks out, with Robinson bodyslamming the beauty queen on the floor and other shenanigans. Robinson chokes out George.  They trade chops and Robinson even pulls out a Flair flip, and gets slammed for it.  Flair Flop follows.  This is like watching a midget match in Mexico.  The evil nurse hurts George’s leg, and Robinson goes to work on the knee.  Well, can’t fault the psychology, that’s for sure.  Charles gets the figure-four (on the wrong leg, of course, but it’s reversed.  Then Flair interferes, and Savage interferes, and George drops an elbow off the second rope for the pin. This fell under WCW’s specialty division:  Entertaining crap.  5 hot pokers for the stupidity of the idea and putting this on a PPV, but 2 bottles of Surge(tm) for the principles at least making an effort not to suck.  (I seem to remember Little Naitch being ridiculously entertaining in this role and probably living out the dream of a lifetime in the process.)  – US title match:  Scott Steiner v. Buff Bagwell.  Buff jumps Scott before the bell, but a couple of blatant shots to the Konnans turns the tide.  Brawl outside the ring allows Scott the chance to chat with the fans.  Steiner continues beating on Buff while yelling at ringside fans. Half-assed Tiger Driver gets two.  Belly to belly lays out Buff, and Scott grabs a chair, which ends up getting used against him.  Buff comeback.  Two bad looking dropkicks and an atomic drop, but the ref is bumped.  Predictably, Rick Steiner runs in, waffles Buff with the chair, and Scott gets the SHITTY REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM for the submission.  The reunited Steiner brothers beat on Buff.  Bagwell did NOTHING here.  I officially give up on Buff — the neck injury has ended his career.  (Yup.  Not much more to be said there.) 2 hot pokers for the bad match.  Both Steiner brothers are singles champions — the Apocalypse is officially upon us. – Goldberg video package. – Nash/DDP/Sting/Goldberg video package.  None of this does anything to explain why either Nash/DDP or Sting/Goldberg is even happening, but I suppose it fills time nicely. – Flair video package.  Same one we’ve seen for the past month or so. – Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Ric Flair.  Flair boots Johnny Boone out of the match and replaces him with Charles Robinson.  (Man, the days when I used to give a shit about referee names.)  Stalling from Flair to start.  Piper throws his 1982 potato punches and Flair stalls again. Piper does his devasting eye poke and hand-clap, but Flair hits a low blow to take control.  Then Arn beats him up.  Then Asia beats him up. What a classic.  Flair should be ashamed for resorting to this crap. They “brawl” outside the ring.  Double KO spot — I feel like someone should be yelling “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”.  Figure-four, reversed by Piper.  Flair shows his ass on a sunset flip attempt. Robinson converses with AA while Piper gets a couple of pin attempts. Piper gets the figure-four, and AA breaks it up.  Piper puts the sleeper on him, then on Flair.  Asia breaks it up.  Piper kisses her, and puts the sleeper on her.  Flair gets an international object, hits Piper with it, and gets the pin.  Oh, great, now Eric Bischoff is out.  He declares Piper the winner.  Um, HELLO?  Didn’t he lose the Presidency? And how exactly did Piper win that match, anyway?  This makes no fucking sense. 10 hot pokers for this whole clusterfuck.  Even Tony Schiavone is having trouble explaining what’s going on.  (I remember exactly none of this, but at least it’s less embarrassing for Flair than his TNA run was.)  – Sting v. Goldberg.  The announcers are still trying to rationalize the last match.  Okay, anyway, on with this, which also makes no sense but at least it should be a decent match.  Goldberg messes up a backdrop and hits the powerslam early.  Sting stalls.  Back in and Sting clotheslines Goldberg out.  Goldberg stalls. Goldberg with a cross-armbreaker, and Sting escapes and dropkicks the knee.  Boston crab, which Goldberg powers out of.  Sting goes to the headlock.  Hmmm, maybe DDP *did* carry that match on Nitro.  Sting with a couple of Stinger splashes, but Goldberg catches him and slams him to a big pop, but Bret Hart comes in with a chair and it’s a big schmozz as Bret hammers Goldberg.  I suppose someone jobbing would have been too much to ask.  The Steiners attack everyone for fun.  Very disappointing match.  3 hot pokers for the match, 1 bottle of Surge(tm) for Bret Hart making an appearance, even if it is a token one.  Why did they even bother doing the match?  (So they could advertise it for PPV buys and then not have to deliver, of course.)  – DDP-Nash video.  Why are they even fighting again? – WCW World title match:  DDP v. Kevin Nash.  (I had actually forgotten that DDP’s title run was actually only a month.   Seemed much longer in retrospect.)  Okay, let’s see if DDP can carry the Laziest Man in the History of our Sport.  Tenay reminds us that DDP and Nash started out as a midcard jobber team.  Okay, maybe not in those words.  Hey, this was also the very first Thunder main event. How come they don’t mention that?  Nash gains control and runs through his usual stuff.  DDP comes back with the equalizer of choice tonight — the groin shot — and chokes him down.  He cuts off a turnbuckle pad to distract the ref and hits Nash with a microphone.  I feel like I’m in Memphis here.  Nash comes back and we have a slugfest.  DDP knocks Nash out with a baseball slide, and brings him in, then gets a two count with his feet on the ropes.  Another lowblow.  Must have been training with Scott Steiner.  DDP decides to start working on the knee.  Nash blocks the ringpost figure-four.  Another slugfest, won by Nash.  Snake Eyes to the exposed turnbuckle, and Jackknife powerbomb draws Randy Savage into the ring for the ultra-cheap DQ ending.  No, wait, here’s Our Hero, Eric Bischoff again, to restart the match.  On whose authority?  (The anonymous Nitro GM?  Joe Laurinaitis?)  DDP gets controls and gets a two count on an ugly clothesline.  They my favorite of moves, the sleeper.  Gosh, nothing I love more than a good sleeper and reversal spot.  DDP gets a chair but it backfires and Nash gets a two-count.  A DDP lowblow gets two.  Nash hulks up, and powerdrops DDP to win the World title.  Oh, how inspirational.  Nice to see the booker being so selfless and allowing DDP to escape without a stretcher job. (Yes, Nash not only sunk the company, he also booked himself to win the World title…TWICE.)  Call it 4 hot pokers, with no real redeeming value. The Bottom Line:  Well, our final tally stands at 36 hot pokers, and 12 bottles of Surge(tm) to counteract the burning.  That’s a grand total of 24 hot pokers against, which puts Tony in serious pain. Everything pretty much went actually as everyone thought it would, except for the brain-dead Bischoff thing, which means my recommendation falls right where I thought it would before the show:  Thumbs down.  (99 under the Nash regime was horribly non-memorable and yet shitty at the same time.  But just wait until we get to NEXT year’s show…)

Michael’s Impact Review

IMPACT WRESTLING ON SPIKE TV
OPEN FIGHT NIGHT #2
MAY 24, 2012
THE IMPACT ZONE – ORLANDO, FLORIDA

–  Your hosts are Mike Tenay and Taz.

–  It’s Open Fight Night #2.  Hulk Hogan is in his office reading the show format sheet?  AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and Bully Ray are with him.  He shows them the format sheet, Bully Ray tosses it aside.  He basically tells them its an open forum for ideas tonight.  Great idea.  He says Bobby Roode is on the road to becoming the longest reigning World champion in TNA history.  AJ Styles says it is important as Kurt Angle being a gold medalist.  Angle says he has won more titles than anyone in the room.  Ray says EVERYONE fears him and he can intimidate him if he wanted to.  Angle and Ray go back and forth until things turn towards AJ.  AJ says he has been there the longest and he wants to end Roode’s streak.  Angle says he beat him the last time they fought.  AJ says its because Daniels and Kazarian helped him.  Jeff Hardy speaks up and says let the fans decide.  FINALLY Angle asks Hogan what he wants to do.  Hogan says Bully won’t get the shot because he has been a main eventer for only a year.  Fucking horseshit is what I say.

–  Now inside the Impact Zone, and Gail Kim heads to the ring along with Madison Rayne.  She says she is the most dominant Knockouts Champion in the history of the company.  She built the division and everything revolves around her.  She has one blemish on her resume.  The Knockouts Tag Team Titles.  She wants to challenge Eric Young and ODB-Young to a match for the titles with Madison.  
TNA KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
1.  Gail Kim & Madison Rayne vs.  Eric Young & ODB-Young
–  EY and Gail begin it and she works his arm.  They trade holds until EY gets in trouble for a waistlock.  ODB comes in with a fallaway slam.  We’ll be right back.  Back on Impact Wrestling, ODB is in trouble and Madison comes in.  She boots ODB in the head for 2.  Gail back in and ODB spears her down.  HOT TAGS AROUND and Madison hammers EY as he struts around the ring.  Madison slaps him in the face and EY drops trow.  Hiptosses and bodyslams for everybody!  ODB tagged back in and hits a running powerslam on Gail for 2.5.  Gail jumps into the arms of ODB and Madison trips her up and holds the legs down for the win @ 9:48.  We have NEW TNA KNOCKOUT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!  (Comedy match, but good wrestling and a decent opener.  C-.)
–  Hogan is shown in his office and says its been a while since he’s seen him.  He punctuates it with a “holy shizzz”.
–  In the Impact Zone, Rob Van Dam heads out to the ring and calls out Gunner.  Leading to:
2.  Rob Van Dam vs.  Gunner
–  The brawl on the outside and Gunner throws a chair in the ring.  He comes in and trades shots with RVD. Step over kick drops Gunner followed by Rolling Thunder.  He charges the corner for the monkey flip and gets nailed in the jaw with an elbow.  Cover gets 2.  RVD battles back and Gunner grabs the chair.  RVD with a side kick to the chair and Gunner is out.  RVD heads up top and NAILS A FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH ACROSS THE ENTIRE RING FOR THE WIN [email protected] 2:52.  (Simple squash but great ending.  D+.)
–  Back on Impact, Devon is in the ring.  Oh yeah, we forgot to defend the TV belt last week.  He took part in the battle royal last week so he couldn’t defend his belt.  He wants to give Garret Bischoff a chance at the belt since he eliminated him last week.  Dear God.
TNA TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
3.  Devon vs.  Garret Bischoff
–  Devon begins with a side headlock takeover.  Garret returns with the same and Devon misses a shoulderblock.  Both men back to their feet.  Devon grabs a side headlock and here comes ROBBIE T and Robbie E for the DRAW @ 55 seconds.  (DUD)  Devon takes out both men and now Garret helps him out.  
–  Hogan is in his office and tells Jeff Hardy he is eliminated from contention.  
–  Bully Ray makes his way to the ring and fucks with crowd plants before entering.  Hogan eliminated him from contention and he is pissed off.  He will take it out on everyone in the Impact Zone.  Please be my guest.  He calls out Joseph Park and here he comes down to the ring.  Park wants to hold court with the IZ as a jury.  Crowd chants guilty and Ray drops Park.  He whips him with a chain and tells him “not guilty”.  
–  Next Gut Check victim is Joey Ryan.  He is from PWG and looks like the Genius off of growth.
TNA GUT CHECK #2
4.  Joey Ryan vs.  Austin Aries
–  Nice chain wrestling to start and Aries takes him down on a drop toe hold.  Ryan slaps him and Aries beats him to the outside.  Aries grabs his chest hair and Ryan slaps him away.  He goes for a pump handle slam and Aries counters with a ROARIN elbow.  Ryan on the apron and he slingshots into a dropkick by Aries.  He slugs Aries down in the corner.  Wheelbarrow Slam by Ryan gets 2.  Aries catches him with a dropkick to the corner and Brain Buster ends it @ 4:07.  (Ryan is impressive.  Aries keeps making it look so easy.  B-.)
–  THE DECISION (not that one) is next!
–  Bobby Roode is headed to the ring and it’s only 10:20?  Can TNA give us a 30 minute main event?  Come on, a man can hope, can’t he?  AJ Style and Kurt Angle head to the ring and now, Hulk Hogan.  Hogan rambles and its is taking away from the match.  Finally he decides on AJ Styles.
MAIN EVENT
TNA HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
5.  Bobby Roode vs. AJ Styles
–  Roode bails immediately to slow the pace.  Test of Strength and Roode backs AJ to the corner for chops.    AJ explodes out the corner with a dropkick.  Roode to the outside and we’ll be right back!  Back on Impact after 3 minutes of TNA promos on the other side of 3 minutes of regular commercials.  AJ gets backdropped to the floor and Roode slams his shoulder to the ringpost.  Back inside, cover gets 2.  Roode works the arm over the ropes and stomps on it.  AJ tries fighting back and Roode smacks the arm again.  Roode charges and AJ backdrops him to the floor.  AJ slingshots to the floor.  AJ sends Roode into the ringsteps.  AJ charges and gets HIPTOSSED on top of the ringsteps!  Back inside, Roode covers for 2.  Elsewhere, Hulk Hogan is notified his guest is here.  We’ll be right back.  Back AGAIN on Impact, and Roode drops AJ with a high impact suplex.  Cover gets 2.5.  AJ on the apron, tries a slingshot back in and Roode hits the ropes.  Roode charges into a shoulderblock and AJ springboards into the ring with a forearm.  Cover gets 2.8!  Roode sets AJ on the top rope.  Roode tries the superplex.  AJ headbutts him down.  HIGH MISSILE DROPKICK CONNECTS FOR 2.99999999999!  Roode tries the fisherman suplex, AJ blocks, hits the ropes and SPEARED by Roode.  Cover gets 2.9!  Roode clamps on a Crossface, but AJ counters with a roll-up for 2.  Bridging Chinlock by AJ applied!  Roode makes the ropes.    AJ charges into a DOUBLE R SPINEBUSTER!  Fisherman Suplex by Roode gets 2.9999999999999999999999!  AJ up, side steps Roode, and PELE KICK!  AJ looks up the ramp, goes for the springboard 450, Roode gets the knees up, Fisherman Suplex gets Roode the win @ 21:30.  (Great match.  Clean finish, no ref bump, no bullshit.  Just clean wrestling.  A.)
–  Roode is celebrating in the ring as he has became the longest reigning TNA Champion in the history of the company.  He calls for Hulk Hogan to come out to celebrate with him.  After the commercial break, of course.  
–  Back on Impact and Roode is calling for his confetti shower.  And down pours his Mexican America colored confetti.  Roode drinks champagne as Hulk Hogan comes out.  Hogan congratulates him and says one more person wants to celebrate with Roode.  The lights go out and Sting appears.  He beats Roode out of the ring.  Hogan announces that when Impact goes live next Thursday, Roode will face Sting in a Lumberjack Match.  
FINAL THOUGHTS…
–  Son of a bitch.  I’m pulling for the under dog.  I’m amazed at how great that main event was…and then BLAM!  Back to reality with the last 3 minutes of Impact!  STING?!?  Fucking Sting?!?  Even I, the same guy who painted his face like Sting and went to countless WCW/NWA shows in the late 80’s and early 90’s screaming for Sting is saying “fuck this guy”!  How am I supposed to care about Sting vs Bobby Roode next week.  Remember when Roode beat the living FUCK out of him at Victory Road?  Why do I care?  No no no, TNA.  BAD TNA!  See you next week.  Sorry about the swearing.

TNA Files Suit Against WWE

http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/118-daily-updates/25776-tna-files-lawsuit-against-wwe-and-former-employee

Not sure why WWE would be so hot to get Flair back that they'd risk contract tampering charges.  Obviously the writing was on the wall as far as Flair's TNA involvement when he appeared at the Hall of Fame and Wrestlemania, and boy does TNA have some damning evidence in their favor from all that silliness, too.  I kind of hope that TNA takes them to the cleaners just to finally teach Vince a lesson, but I feel like he'd just raid the shit out of TNA in retaliation.  
I know that there's no way he'd want to, but I think that Flair going down to Florida to train their FCW geeks would be 100 times more valuable than putting him on RAW to pop a rating and hit on Vickie or whatever stupid thing they'd have for him after going to all this trouble.  Or even managing the Rex/Hawkins Dynamic Dorks team or something along those lines to find SOMEONE who can give these guys a rub.