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Handheld reviews part 1




First off the beer of the show this week was Warsteiner premium verum.  A nice beer.  Not as sugary as many other German beers and it doesnt have the sour taste I sometimes associate with German styles such as Heineken or the Chinese/German styled Tsing Tao beer.  Ill buy more.


The music is Robert Cray.  I like his voice and guitar playing but the 80s synthetic sound that surrounds that throws me off.  Ive listened to it multiple times already so thats a good sign at least. 


The morality problem.  Wrestling has become a big ball of self serving bias (people attributing good things to an internal cause and bad things to an external cause).  Id just once like to see a wrestler who had depressive realism (depressed people dont use self serving bias as much.)  For instance, wouldnt it have been cool for Zach Gowen to admit how little he had to do with his beating Big Show?  Sure he thanked others but shouldnt it have bothered him that I could have won a WWE contract the way he did?  I know I dont deserve this, I had very little to do with my victory over the Big Show.  In fact he was kicking my ass until Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle ran out and won the match for me.  I understand this but Im still going to take the contract and Ill just prove that I deserve it later.  In the storylines why did Zach Gowen deserve a contract?  As far as I could tell because A. it was his dream, and B. he had one leg.  Does every handicapped guy who wants in deserve to be in the company?


  Zach is good for one thing and they will blow that in this upcoming match against Vince.  It SHOULD become an unwritten law for a few months that you dont attack Zachs leg.  In a few months when you need to turn someone heel (lets say Benoit instead of the silly Rhyno thing they are going to do) you have Vince ask Benoit to take Zach out.  He refuses.  Vince being smart books Benoit in an I quit match vs Zach with the winner being the number 1 contender.  Benoit will struggle for a few minutes in the match before asking Zach to quit now.  When Zach refuses Benoit will savage the leg.  Absolutely brutally.  Kicking it when Zach cant even stand anymore. Till finally Zach has to quit.  Whoever the champion can do a segment condemning Benoit for going so low and doing what they had all agreed not to do.  Benoit can say that he didnt want to but YOU havent given me a shot so I had no other choice.  Its a little more interesting then the dumb Rhyno thing.  And you could do it with anybody.  Kurt Angle for instance.  What will they do?  Why of course Vince will attack the leg at Vengeance to show how evil Vince is for the 1000th time.  Zachs a one trick pony you can get heat from attacking his leg one time.  They will blow it at Vengeance and accomplish nothing. 


I think Ill write more later on how wrestling needs to establish things that not even heels would do so that every year or so you can get someone a major boost by having them do that.  Does wrestling have any now? 


Stephanie just looks worse every week.  They need to take her breast down a size or two because no matter how big her breast are shes not going to be sexy right now, AND put more classy clothes on her.  Steph just cant do the sex pot thing but IN THE PAST (I dont know now) she could look good when they tried to make her look pretty as opposed to sexy.  Steph isnt sexy.  She could be pretty.  And. please for the love of god never book that woman to scream again. She sounded like the Wicked Witch of the West.


Thank you Toronto fans.  Thank you for giving a big FU to WWE creatives idiotic idea of turning Eddie heel.  Its clear they were positioning Eddie as a heel both from placing him against face Ultimo and then against face Billy Gunn (talk about a situation where the face will be booed) but the fans said NO we want to cheer Eddie!  Hopefully the WWE will grow some sense in the next week and book Eddie as a face next week.  Eddie is working as a face.  There really is no need to play with one of the few things that is working.


Kurt Angle is still a dork.  Right now the fans seem to be willing to cheer the dork.  He looked like a major dork rapping, but the fans cheered which is a good sign.  Itll be interesting to see how long that last.  Id keep Cena away from him because John is just to cool right now (he damn near turned the crowd again this week, actually he did for a bit) and long term the fans would turn on Angle for Cena.


Brock Lesnar is also a dork right now and that needs to end.  In the ring Brock is cool and people react to him. Outside of the ring hes death.  You can book him in more simple roles (such as they did while he was a heel).  This might work because Brock has such a great physical charisma. But they need to do something different if Brock is every going to become the draw they want him to be.  Tying him to Kurt Angle is a bad idea because then you get the dueling dorks.  Cena got a huge reaction just shaking his hands about Angle and Brock which shows many fans are thinking the same thing about that angle Cena is.


What else.  Eddie vs Ultimo got jipped.  Those two should have gotten 10 minutes to show just how good they are instead of the 3 they got. 


People love Rey.  Kidmans turn is so predictable its sad. 


Does Billy Gunn not still come off as gay.  I mean last time he was booked to spank Torrie and he spanked her about as stiff as a Sid Vicious punch.  This week he is booked to kiss her and I note that when the camera pans up Billy isnt kissing hes close but pulling away.  So we never actually see lip contact.  Again if Im in this angle Im saying Look Vince for realisms sake I think we need some tongue.  I know Billy is married but he still looks gay in this angle.  If he is not comfortable with the angle (understandable for a family man) he needs to say so and end it because this just looks awful.  BTW he still sucks in the ring. 


Will SOMEBODY in the WWE buy a clue on Jamie Knoble.  This guy can work like a madman, has charisma with his valet, and can get his character over on the mic.  He should be the top heel in the cruiserweight division.  Billy Kidman has no charisma and he is not as good in the ring as Knoble.  This is so stupid.  Kidman is still living off those carry jobs Juvy did in 1998. 


The main event was fun.  Brock sold really well until it was time to get on offense where he summarily dropped everything.  I loved the way he sold Charlies dropkick.  Looked like it really caught him.  The finish was fun as well and Brock still looked awesome despite jobbing.  Big Show is an effective heel.  He isnt good or anything but you can protect him and still get mileage out of him.  Hopefully Big Show after the match at Vengeance will come out of it strong enough to put over an up and coming face.  Lord wouldnt the fans eat up Cena badmouthing Show!  Eddie cheating to beat Show would probably work as well. 


Cena vs Taker could really launch Cena so it should be interesting.  Will this be another egofuck for Taker, another time to pay your dues kid match for Taker, or will Taker try to make a star.  Whoever goes over they need to put a lot of thought into the match.  Cena is just so not good in the ring right now that hes going to have to be carried to have a match that impacts people.  Taker is solid when he wants to be, but this is not generally his type of match.  They need to REALLY book this match so it is memorable (ala Vince vs Hogan) and does the trick of making Cena look like a real star. 


Thats all folks. 

XPW Analysis part 2. 


This part of the analysis will cover the last hype show and the five Monday Nightmares containing most of the Hostile Takeover show.  To begin with the Douglas effect could be immediately seen on Hostile Takeover which was much better then I expected it to be though I wouldnt say any of the matches reached the very good level.  I wont use star ratings in this review because I grade very difficult and if I put them up it will lead to a false impression among many readers of what I thought about a match since most people rate outrageously high.  I try to have about 70% of the matches Ive seen in the *-** 3/ 4 range.  About 10 % in the 1/ 4 * - 3 /4 star range and 5 % in the dud range along with 10% in the ***-*** 3/ 4 star range and 5% over ****.  I find it better differentiates the specially bad matches and the specially good matches.  But I seek out good wrestling and avoid bad so thats off what Ive seen making it very diffucult for a non great indy match to break ***.  So anyway back to the point XPW seemed to show IMMEDIATE improvement under Douglas on the Hostile Takeover show from what I could tell. 


Final hype show


This Show is by far the best of the hype show.  It seems very likely XPW realized the same things I realized about the shows that I had pointed out in my previous analysis. The show started out with Shane Douglas getting legal papers from Rob Black explaining that Black would still be able to sign contracts till the day after Hostile Takeover.  Douglas was furious.  Its a decent idea to add an air of possibility/.  Rob Black had nothing to lose so he could do ANYTHING.  However, they didnt go as far with this angle as they could have or really make it stick. 


They showed a pretty unmoving brawl between Angel and Supreme in a parking lot.  I didnt like it to much but at least they were given time to hype one of the big matches of the show.  Then they show a really nice video detailing the history of the Hamrick vs Kaos feud including lots of big spots to wet the appetite of the company.  Its a very effective video to actually show why I should care.  They follow it with another really good idea.  Kaos and GQ money cut a promo on Hamrick.  But the twist is they call up his phone and leave it on his answering machine.  The idea of two idiots calling all Chris phones and leaving wrestling promos on them is pretty funny to me and makes more sense then talking to the camera.  I dont know why someone else didnt come up with that idea.  


Then they show a quick Mexicos Most Wanted (MMW from now on) vs New Panthers video.  Doesnt stick out but again its hyping a match.  Ron Killings cuts a good promo which really shows what a lose he was to XPW.  He probably could have broke out for them even more so then he did in TNA.  It doesnt make sense though why he couldnt work for both though.  Then they do a good Funk vs Douglas promo video to hype the main event and lay out the issue.  Overall I have to say this was a good hype show and shows some real improvement for XPW in how to get their product over. 


Monday Nightmare 1.


This show on the other hand is awful. All it is repeats of old XPW videos many of which were already shown on the hype videos. Then at the end after wasting 50 minutes of paid tv time they show quick highlites of Hostile Takeover.  This is the exact same format as they used after Fallout but I dont know if they continue after that but if it does its absolutely STUPID.  You can not throw away an hour of TV time that your paying for like this. 


Lets give XPW the benefit of the doubt and say that between Saturday night and Monday morning they simply cant get out a polished match to show.  Okay fine but you dont have to waist the time.  Here are some free ideas.  Your booking the show in advance I hope so before the show even happens you can let your wrestlers cut promos about what happened on the show. If you need extra time to get things ready thats a simple way to do it. Also you could sit have a wrestler do an interview with Kloss when he tapes the show.  It could be informal and in character but with some bites to interest smarts if you want to but its another way to get people over.  For instance one of the problems Ive picked out is Shanes attacks on ECW.  Attacking ECW will put off many of XPWs fans because they are also fans of ECW I would say almost without exception.  Most of ECWs fans dont know anything but this.: Shane was in ECW, he no showed, and then sold out to WCW.  Now thats not the whole story and any telling of the whole story will reflect well on Shane.  Paul was tens of thousands of dollars behind on Shanes contract and wouldnt even pay for Shanes plane ticket so Shane could appear at the ECW PPV instead opting to make Shane look like he was screwing the fans.  Let Shane tell that story to kill the time and then apply it to his present heel character which is handling business the opposite of Paul.  It might make that character make more sense as well as allowing Shane to babyface XPWs business practices by comparing them to Pauls. 


Monday Nightmare 2.


The show opens by replaying the hostile takeover highlights.  At this point Im starting to think maybe all XPW does is show promos, videos, and highlights.  And what is next?  The Douglas promo from Hostile Takeover.  He gets huge welcome back chants and ECW chants.  He pussyfoots around actually knocking ECW since the fans are so hugely pro ECW.  He introduces Lizzy to the fans who seem to like her pretty much. Eventually Funk comes out and cuts a really nice promo on Douglas calling him out on leaving for WCW and about flushing WCW and NWA title down the toilet.  He makes the strong inference that is all Shane can do not build.  Douglas goes totally heel by backing down from Funk then Pearl Harboring his leg.  He fucks it up pretty well.  Of course the smart thing now is for Douglas to technically streatch the leg leading to a Douglas victory but well see what they actually do when XPW shows the match. 


Psicosis vs Super Crazy-  Psicosis under his Nicho gimmick in Mexico has really come into his own the last 18 months or so.  Everytime I see him he looks good.  Id say at the moment he is the fifth best luchadore out there behind Santo, Ultimo Guerrero, Rey Buccanero, and Shocker.  Crazy is okay but no where nears his level. The match is a good deal of fun though. Psicosis is the man throughout bumping around to make Crazys offense look good, working through some nice American/Lucha (because the stuff weve seen in America IS NOT pure Lucha) matwork as well.  The best thing is how Psicosis bumps into position so naturally for the next move.  Hes always in the right spot for Crazy to hit his next move without any problem.  If you watch carefully youll see Kurt Angle do the same thing as far as always hitting the mark for the next spot right.  That gives this match some sort of flow to make it as good as it is.  Not one Psicosis better matches still but much better then most indy spotfest your going to see. 


The rest of the show deals with the Funk vs Douglas controversy.  Why did they stop the match?  Well Terry Funk submitted of course.  Duh.  But not to a leg submission though;).  Good show though.


Monday Nightmare 3


We start off with .. a Douglas promo with Lizzy.  This time hes at a cemetery where he buried Terry Funk.  One correction to Shane it was not the first time in his career Funk had submitted.  Funks never been bashful about jobbing. Funks most famous match is his I Quit match against Ric Flair in 1989 which ended with Funk quiting in the figure four.  Anyway he says he warned Funk, he punked him out, destroyed him etc.  The promo is a total burial of Funk which really isnt wise since it raises the expectation that Terry will come back and since he doesnt seem to it just is something for Douglas to stroke his roided down cock off to.  Again if Shane needs to get himself off like hes some kind of icon of Wrestling he can do it on time they arent paying for.   Use this time to get your company over. 


The next segment is ANOTHER Douglas promo this time hes making his buisness rules.  Wrestlers will sign contracts, take care of themselves, be professional, and have drug testing.  Its a basic attack on Heyman but again how many fans actually realize it?  Then move on to a Supreme promo with an attack on Angel who he beat at Hostile takeover in what looked like a pretty crazy match and he issues an open challenge.  The heels in XPW sure are all bad asses  That was actually one of the problems with ECW is the heels were to strong it hurt the faces.  Not all the heels need to be chickenshits but they shouldnt be bigger bad asses then the faces.  It confuses the fans and doesnt allow people to get as far over as they could be in their role.  Also pacing of the show could be worked on.  Two straight Douglas promos and then another promo is a bit much for promos.  I would try to give sprinkle the action and the promos more evenly. 


Next up is a enterprise vignette.  They are attacking Danny Doring who evidently attacked Kaos (I would suggest showing the match before this.  This vignette isnt good.  They get Douglass memo with an F on the envelop and containing F shirts.  Its kind of cute but again 3/ 4 segments dont need to revolve around Douglas.  They have a bong out so reply with consternation at the idea of drug testing.  They also bow down pretty fast which is interesting that they are pretty much bad asses with everyone else but pussies with Douglas.  It is kind of funny but still these guys are limited.  They seem to think Kaos is some kind of charisma machine when he isnt. 


Kaos vs Chris Hamrick Ladder Match for TV Title- Ugh this match is really bad.  Its bad even for an indy ladder match.   They never get the flow going as it gets to chopped up by them contriving spots.  The spots arent to amazing though for this type of match though.  Add in some beat your head against the wall things like Hamrick being under the belt on top of the ladder and instead of getting the belt he misses a leg drop.  Thats stupid.  Does he not want the title?  Money interferes liberally and at the end killing this as a blow off match as it was evidently supposed to be.   Also what the hell is the confederate currency gimmick supposed to mean?  Does it mean hes worthless ala Conderate dollars at the time or extremely rare and valuable as Confederate Dollars are now?


We follow that mess with a Kaos/GQ Money promo which is not at all good.  I think they are calling out Doring but it really hard to tell since they gell so much.  Kaos needs work.  You can tell they think this guy is going to be a star but its clear he dont have it yet except with the look. You see flashes in him that suggest with some work it might come together but on a whole hes far away from being where they seem to think he is.  Instead of exposing his flaws they could work to correct them but you wonder if anyone other then me even realizes it.  The show ends with a shadowy figure calling out Douglas.  Hes from Douglas past. It looked really cheesy. As always with mystery if its not going to be a disappointment then the guy should be able to draw better then a ?.  This show was not a good one even though the good thing was it was much more active then the previous show just none of the stuff really worked. 


Monday Nightmare 4


Guess what we open with a Douglas promo.  He is trying to figure out who could the mystery man be.  He has a good line about him not having heat with anyone (clearly not true) but lots of people have heat with him.  He seems to conclude that whoever it is he would kick his ass anyway.  He throws some more dirt on Terry and in the end isnt so concerned about it.  So why should I be? 


We get another enterprise vignette Kaos wearing a Franchise shirt is kind of funny.  They are still reacting to all Douglas rules and Kaos explains to just do pot because it wont show up like a bong  Then we get an Alter Boy Luke video where he challenges Supreme for the KODM belt. 


MMW vs New Panthers-  The New Panthers cut a promo before the match calling Killings a sellout.  La Familia Del Tijuana should never change their theme.   Of course you wonder why XPW never lets them tag up with Psicosis like they usually do in Mexico.  Some 6 men could add some variety but the possibilities have never been explored in America like they have in Mexico and Japan.  MMW fit well into XPW.  They arent one of the top teams in Mexico but they do have a nice set of double teams and as with most luchadores they know the basics.  In Lucha you have to because its the most inherently psychologically sound style in the world.  So they provide flow do some cool double teams and catch very well for the Panthers.  Some neat touches my favorite was when they started to do one of those rope running beat down things and Halloween juked and hit a nice lariet.  It doesnt build anywhere but it works for the few minutes they give it etc.  PAW. 


Another Enterprise vignette and they are really wearing out the good will I actually felt for the first one.  My review doesnt reflect it because I wrote It having watched the next several one.  It focus on Kaos Franchise shirt which Veronica tears up leading to a bad Hogan impersonation.  Pretty pointless. 


Douglas vs Funk XPW World Championship- Before the match starts we get another Douglas promo.  He claims this is the biggest crowd at the arena since he last was here (which is a total lie but what can you do?)  Anyway he announces that he owns the arena and renames it the XPW arena.  Funk comes out shocking Douglas.  We get some stalling then some pretty uninspiring brawling.  Funk blades his arm I believe (which used to be fairly common in his day) but they claim it was a beer bottle that did it.  Its possible I guess but given the way the cut looked and them going after it and using it to get the finish it seems much more likely it was planned.  They never go for Funks leg which sucks but instead go to his arm.  Douglas beats it up until Funk is forced to submit.   Match was bad.  Funk over dominated beforee the arm thing after which Shane dominated real quick.  After the match Funk destroys Douglas and Borden stripping her but its censored.  Fans cheer like theyve seen a great match Gotta love those Philly fans smartest in the world as I remember. 


Douglas promo with Lizzy.  Hes kind of wondering who this mystery man could be but he still isnt very concerned.  Douglas really needs to get the ego in check and weaken his character.  Its just as counterproductive for XPW as HHHs behavior is for the WWE.  After this promo the Mystery man does another silly mysterious promo.  Im not liking this feud.  Anyway this show was the best laid out.  It featured the main event of Hostile Takeover which needed to be shown even though it wasnt good and a solid tag match.  It set up a match for the show and continued to build the main event for Fallout which is necessary even if it is a stupid program.


Monday Nightmare 5


 Starting out with the mystery man.  The production of these things are just not good.  We then go to the Juice Bar.  Which is subtitled for some reason but I understand every word Juvi says pretty easily.  He gets a what chant.  Anyway the promo is pretty funny the way he does it.  He talks bad about Chris Chetti which brings Chetti out.


Chetti vs Juvi- You know what they say the shell of a great worker can still be a good worker.  Juvi has slide so much so young its almost sad but he still can do some things.  This match has some nice stuff espiecally some quick matwork  mixing Lucha with a more shoot style which is the direction I think they should have taken more of the match but Juvi wants to stall and stall and stall.  When he works its pretty good.  His offense is still really good but he overcontrols things and gives Chetti so little offense it comes off like a squash.  Im thinking Juvis ego was out of control a little the way the match looked.  Had potential and could have been really good.


Pogo the clown cuts a promo with lots of cussing on Sandman. 


Alter Boy Luke vs Vic Grimes vs Lil Guido- Another good indy spotfest.  Selling is a side issue for them all though Guido does bring a little flow to it.  The spots are really impressive and some creative stuff between Guido and Vic at the end such as Vic missing a boot tieing his leg into the turnbuckle allowing Guido to get a knee bar.  Its cool and this match has  lots of coolness.  A bit more flow and build and this could have been a real special three way as opposed to second best match on the card.  Story would have also been nice but thats to much. 


We follow with Supreme promo.  Hes drinking and hes hardcore!  Then get fallout promo to show all the card a decent improvement over last month.   A funny thing is how everyweek the challengers to MMW have been delayed till next week which shows me they cant sign anybody.  We get another Douglas video and promo to emphasize the point that he is ready for anyboyd.  Then a Video is shown to hype the Douglas vs Mystery man program.  It doesnt work as well as last months Funk vs Douglas promo but really what did production have to work with? 




Okay that is Hostile takeover to summerize the best match was psicosis vs crazy followed by the three way then the tag match.  Those matches would be in the good to very good for indies category.  The Juvi vs Chetti match would be solid but nothing special.  The Main Event and the ladder matches sucked so in the end you get 3 matches basically worth checking out espiecally if youre a fan of Indy wrestling 1 that was okay just not the right match and 2 that were bad.  Thats not a bad balance.  Comparing it to say IWA MS I would say thats a bit better balance then usually IWA has but I dont think the best match was as good as IWAs best however it also is the first show.  I wish they would use Psicosis better he really is a talent that deserves better then hes getting in XPW.  He probably should be in the WWE but he is Mexican and not cute.  I mean they almost brought in Juvi who isnt nearly as good as Psicosis anymore (isnt that sad.)  I wish Guido and Vic had just done a singles match as they showed potential together.  Guido went up leagues and good for him.  Douglas was way to much of a factor.  As I said before right now XPW needs to get over the new guys.  Douglas needs to do some jobs for them and give them time.  If he is as good as he thinks he is he can afford it and in the end he needs people to feud with.  Right now its clear the heirarchy is Douglas then everybody else and he needs to help pull some people up to his level to build interest instead of a mystery man program that lead to Candido of all people and was used simply for Shane to talk like a badass. 


The XPW rant intro and first 3 hype show


This should be an analysis to equal my WWE rant from a few months ago.  Each part will be published both on http://purotapes.tripod.com and http://www.xtremeforums.com if they get the main page up ever I may also put it as my first writing for http://www.smarkschoice.com .  The place to discuss anything I write would be over at Xtreme unless Matt Couch decides he doesnt want this stuff on his site which would be his decision.  If you go to his site from one of the others please be polite enough to not point out the obvious (xtreme should be spelled with an e).  Im sure he gets that all the time. 


XPW has gotten quite a bit of discussion in the past few months.  The range of beliefs on it can easily be seen simply by reading XPW fan sites or the XPW board over at xtreme and then contrasting that with XPW being voted worst promotion in the world by the Wrestling Observer.  The fact that XPW and  CZW even get considered for that award shows something.  They really shouldnt be considered in the same breath as WWE, New Japan, AAA etc who also got votes but yet they are.  Obviously on an objective measure the overall product of WWE or New Japan is almost certainly superior to XPW or any indy but they are being considered now in the same breath.  Meanwhile XPW has a growing net fan following who passionately believe that XPW is the future and will hope and believe possibly XPW could be the next national promotion.  Of course thats a pipe dream and XPW is much more likely to go out of buisness in 2 months then to go National in 2 years however if your comparing XPW to indies who draw about 150 people paid or so to a show then it also clearly just from brief watching isnt the worst promotion on the planet. 


This problem of separating the hype from the hate with the reality is why I am writing this.  I recently purchased off ebay 18 hours of XPW TV from August to December of 2002. The price was low.  Quality is  very good except I have a slight problem with rolling occasionally and it takes about 2 minutes when I start the tape for the footage to stop rolling regularly in case anyone wants to trade for these tapes.  These tapes should give me a very good idea of where XPW is and what direction they are going in.  This starts basically when Rob Black took a step back from XPW and gave almost total control of the company to Shane Douglas.  A person whose opinion I respect tells me that he used to hate XPW but once Douglas came in the company changed and vastly improved to the point where he really likes it.  My opinion will be unbiased by how good or bad it was before Douglas.  Ill simply be judging XPW as it is now under Douglas.  Also this review will be very nit picky but hopefully I will be able to nitpick the good equally as well as the bad (but if more is bad then good the reviews will obviously have more bad then good.)


The videos start out with 4 No Sleep Till Philly videos sent to a Philadelphia station to hype XPWs move to Philly from L.A. and its first show in Viking Hall called Hostile Takeover.  The main event for Hostile Takeover was Terry Funk vs Shane Douglas.  Evidently the point of issue is who made ECW.  Of course thats a tough issue to settle in the ring.  Its debatable really.  Its actually hard to decide that.  ECW always emphasized getting the company over more then getting the individual over.  Sabu, Sandman, Public Enemy, Raven, Funk, Dreamer, and Douglas were all important in a way but when any of them left for a period ECWs buisness did not suffer.  ECWs best period of growth coincided to Ravens run on top where his feuds with Dreamer and with Sandman were the focus.  Douglas was in the midcard feuding with Pit Bull 2 when ECW went to PPV the focus of the program was Sandman, Funk, and Dreamer chasing Raven.  ECW stopped growing when Raven left but wither that was Raven or ECW had just gone as far as it could is impossible to know for sure and I would lean towards ECW had gone as far as it could go.  However I would suggest that Douglas believes his hype and that possibly Rob Black does as well which shows when the myth becomes fact.. give all your money to the myth and ignore facts.  Really when you get down to it Paul Heyman built ECW and Paul Heyman destroyed ECW. 


The key thing to remember is that Douglas seems to believe his hype.  So we get down to question 1 to be answered at the end of the rant Is Shane Douglas more interested in expanding his legacy or in building XPW and its young talent and question two, Can Shane Douglas carry a promotion.    We may address some of these questions throughout but until the end no definative answer to my though though the message board might look at them and think on them. 


The hype videos show us a lot about Douglas.  Each video has one or more Douglas promos and except for an out of date promo by Funk no one else gets promo time in the hype videos.  Most of the Douglas promos were pretty standard Douglas egomaniacal fare.  The only one I liked was one from the la braia (sp?) tar pits to make the point that Rob Black and Terry Funk both needed to be there.  It was a nice historical twist on the standard Funk is dinosaur stuff. The feel of the promos with Douglas in locations with hot girl is very reminiscent of his initial anti pitbull promos with Francine.  Which is kind of a problem that Douglas is doing something almost exactly like what he was doing 6 years ago. 


There are a couple of pretty obvious problems with the promos.  The first is they needed to give some of their other talent time to talk to get over their issues and themselves.  Douglas is being Douglas so you really only need one promo to get across the point that Douglas is still doing the same thing.  From the videos it would be tough to have any idea what many of the issues really are.  At times the matches they show dont make things clear.  Angel vs Supreme match clips are shown.  It shows some major flaws in Supremes work as they dont bother the early teases and build to the first impact stuff that is so essential to a good deathmatch instead first spot Angel goes into the nails, then again, then head arm suplex into the lightbulbs.  Anyway the match ends on a scaffold when Douglas shoots tranquilizer darts at Angel so he falls off.  So the match is Angel vs Supreme at Hostile Takeover.  Now personally it seems the guy Angel should be pissed off at is Douglas.  If he doesnt cut a promo or do something to get even with Douglas he just looks weak.  The next is its tough to figure out what Douglas is.  I assume hes a heel but shouldnt he be a face from what hes done?  He took the title from heel Webb.  He ran heel Rob Black out of the promotion.  He has the hot girl.  Finally he is moving the promotion to Philly and dissing L.A.  So to me if I were in Philly Id think Douglas was a face except hes doing that sleezeball  and heel schtick he always does as a heel.


The best match clips that are shown are Damien 666/Halloween vs the New Panthers.  It looks like a pretty decent contest though you cant tell for sure.  The main crux of the hype shows are hype videos for various XPW wrestlers.  The videos are set to the wrestlers theme songs and show them beating big names and try to give you glimpses at their personality.  With a bit bigger budget they could have inter cut some promo bits into the video like the WWE does but they couldnt.  Still the videos show you some of the guys styles and let you know their theme music.  So I think they were good and a good idea. 


Thats about all that can be gleaned from the hype videos.  I may talk about a match on the 4th one if its of note but for now that is part one.  Next time I should have opinions on the Hostile Takeover show itself assuming its shown in reasonable form on the succeeding TV.

NWA TNA Dec 18th 2001

Okay they are flooding Nashville with Free tickets. They are on the counters on Athalon Sports just to pick up. Only the floor seats did anyone pay for so maybe they got 100-150 paid. They had to move people from the bleachers to the floor after the first xplosion match because they were all related to this Kodiak guy who was debuting. Now here is a sad story. This guys whole family comes they pass out Kodiak signs pictures everything for him. He comes out they do a minute of sloppy stuff then he throws his opponent outside. He goes to the top and hurts his ankle on the savage axe handle so bad he can't put pressure on it. Kaos and his manager are kicking and stomping him. they role him back in. Kaos hits a bret hart second rope elbow drop and a legdrop to pin him.

The little girl in front of me gets this angry look and rips up the picture his family gave her and the fans on the other side of the arena start to chant loser at him as he is carried off. So his family leaves.

I was evidently abnoxious enough to drive them away which is good they were really annoying me and my friends with their desire to get on TV.

Jeremy Borash is the most unabashed cheerleader you can ever see. Before the show he tells us they are going to have a contest and whoever cheers the best will get to come back stage. Yes they were bribing the fans for pop. Jeremy also reminded us that the letters of the company name were T....N...A so if we like anything the wrestlers do let them know by chanting TNA. Well you know we could chant the wrestlers names but no chant TNA. Borash literally cheerleads during the matches signalling for a pop here or there. If you here a sudden pop that doesn't make sense it probably came from Borash. But he does a good job. The crowd was very hot for much of the show and these efforts probably didn't hurt.

Its a promotion that needs to clean house really. The X-division guys are just incompatable with the Hennig's, Harris Brothers, Disciples of the New Church and the BG James' etc. The crowd once they see the insane spotfest that the x-division guys throw out really arn't going to respond to anything else. So basically I'd say if you can't work at least a very fast paced and maybe even toss in a couple of missed spots they should get rid of them.

LOD if they were cheap arn't a total loss. Everyone but me I think popped like crazy for them and thought it was cool to see them. However I don't think LOD vs Harris Brothers will get any reaction whatsoever with the spot crazed crowd at least not for long. So if they are free you get the benifit of a sense of unpredictability. HOwever I doubt that will sell that many tickets.

The bad about the show is Russo was almost omnipresent. He was the star of the show. The heels were put over probably a bit to strong and the only ass the showed was for LOD who arn't a future star. The fans truely took to Red like crazy and really drafted him as the top face in the company. It was weird to watch it because for some reason in the first match I just decided me and my friends would cheer for Red we even tried to start some R...E...D chants but it didn't catch on. He was over but not super over. In the main event though everyone was absolutely crazy about the guy espiecally the kids (probably BECAUSE he's small). So it might have been a good idea to you know not job Red twice which really shat on the fans who just totally got behind the guy. Some Red's strikes espiecally kicks missed by a good distance and the red star press on Low-ki looked like a total miscommunication but it didn't matter he was our man.

Jose and Joel just came off like Red's partner which probably wouldn't be the best idea. Joel at the very least showed he could get across some intensity as he looked to be delivering a hell of a beating at times to Elix which I was enjoying.

Low-ki has very little charisma I think. But he works hard to interact with the crowd which is nice. Even after their segments Low-ki would heel it up with some fans to turn them against him. It was nice to see him trying so hard to give the live audience a little extra. Anyway 6 man was a spotfest but it was a fun spot fest that had the right amount of face in peril and the right face so it worked for me and probably less for me then just about anyone else.

I'm sure some will say Red was the star and he should have been and if the bookers have one lick of sense he will be next week but he wasn't this week. It was as AJ said Totally Non Stop Russo. He didn't kill the show for me but I would wager if I was a paying customer on PPV he would have. It was just way to much.

Sonny Siaki is just very underwelming. He didn't even show as much charisma as Low-ki which is sad. That match felt like only Jerry was any good and he wasn't good enough to hold it together or make sense of it. E.Z. Money didn't do much for me either which disappointed me. The Road Dogg match was horrid and I couldn't see the action well and the monitor didn't look good. I didn't get anyone more over and may have hurt Killings' heat.

So anyway as far as wrestling goes they need to either go totally x division or totally old school. The spot fest kills the other. Tone down the Russo. Put Red over big next week. Etc. But seeing it live it was fun to be there and I had a good time but I don't see how they stay in buisness.

As i watch Big Show squash Edge I wonder about this subject again.  I always think that a man's first real title shot should be a big deal.  Its something in theory they have always worked for.  Its their shot for a better life. This is espiecally true when you have a pushed wrestler getting his first shot.  Edge has been slowly but surely pushed.  He has been given wins over every body in the midcard he can get wins over.  He's held all the titles he can holds except the big one.  So this in theory should have been his first real chance to take that next step.  A step he should have thought he should have taken a long time ago. 
In other words this should have been a big special deal and treated as such.   The WWE paid lip service to this but it was clear to anyone who was watching what the real focus was.  It was if Brock would run out and attack Big Show.   Now i'm a big Brock mark and I have no problem with him getting attention.  Him giving the f-5 to the big show is one of the most visually impressive things I can imagine.  Yet this moment shouldn't have been about Brock it should have been about Edge.  
Then there was the way the match itself was conducted.  Edge was squashed.  He only got a very short burst of offense off of a low blow.   Then it took 3 spears (the move that has felled Benoit and Angle multiple times) to knock Big Show down.  Then the finish was him getting killed.  It made Edge look bad and everybody who has jobbed to Edge look bad.  
As I've talked about before the WWE keeps all the midcarders running in circles.  Edge got his jobbing duty this week lossing on the PPV and then again on RAW.  The Guerrerro's one on the PPV so naturally they both jobbed Thrusday, wouldn't want them to get to over.    The sad thing is Big Show has gotten one of the most effective and focused pushes the WWE has given out in memory.  He's earned this push by not improving, by not keeping the weight off as asked, and not getting himself over.  Its a shame to watch Benoit and Angle concuss themselves against the glass cieling while Big Show get casually lifted up above it just for being overweight.  
A quick look reveals how deeply Benoit, Angle, and Jericho have not been elevated. 
Backlash 2000
Jericho vs Benoit is the semi main event
Judgement day 2000
Jericho vs Benoit is the semi main event
King of the Ring 2000
Angle wins
Fully Loaded 2000
Benoit wrestles for the world title against the Rock
Jericho wrestles HHH in the semi main event
Angle wrestles the Taker
Summerslam 2000
Angle wrestles Rock and HHH for the WWf title
Benoit and Jericoh wrestle in the semi main event
Unforgiven 2000
Benoit wrestles Rock, Undertaker, and Kane for the WWF title
Angle wrestles HHH in the semi main event
No Mercy 2000
Angle wins the world title from Rock
Benoit wrestles HHH in a highly advertized match
Armegeddon 2000
Angle wins a title match against Rikishi, Austin, HHH, Rock, and Taker. 
Now I didn't think they were effectively pushed in 2000 but they were in 13 big matches that year.  So far this year. 
Royal Rumble 2002
Jericho wrestles the Rock
No way Out 2002
Jericho wrestles Austin
Angle wrestles HHH in the semi main event
Wrestlemania 2002
Jericho wrestles HHH in the semi main event (Rock and Hogan was the main event people)
Backlash 2002
Judgement Day 2002
Jericho wrestles HHH in Hell in the Cell
King of the Ring 2002
Kurt Angle wrestles Hulk Hogan in the semi main event
Vengence 2002
Kurt wrestles Rock and Taker for the Title
Summerslam 2002
Unforgiven 2002
Survivor's Series 2002
Now it should be noted that in the last two PPV's Benoit and Angle have been in the third biggest match on the card.  But even with that you only get 9.  And that's with the help of Jericho's title run which was only meant to shoot the title over to HHH and make Rock and Austin look bad.   So really despite the WWE's constant claims they are elevating New Stars the three brightest stars they have left are worse off now then they were in 2000.  The WWE has pushed Brock hard but not really effectively.  Its like they don't know if they want to go all the way with him.  Taker buried him for 2 months then put him over decisively.  He got destroyed for a month by Big Show then all the sudden became dominate, then lost, then became dominate again. He's over because of his talent and could be even more over if he was pushed effectively.  
The WWE is a mess.  And I get the feeling they have NO idea why.  

Benoit/Angle vs Edge/Rey 2/3 falls this week on Smackdown!!!!!
and I almost don't care.
Oh I know its going to be a good match.  It probably won't be as good as their PPV match though.  Here is why.  It won't get as much time.  It will have a commercial in the middle.  It will seem rushed to get all 3 falls in.  Really there is no point in doing a 2 out of 3 fall match unless your going to go 30 minutes +. 
But the real problem is the booking just sucks.  Nobody in the "brand" is going anywhere.  They keep doing the same matches over and over and over trading wins back and forth.  The end effect is that no one moves forward.  The new buzzword for wrestling fans should be running in circles because that's exactly what all the guys on smackdown are doing.  
Then you add in the Big Show push.  The only reason for this feud is that when Brock F-5's the big Show it will look good. They could do that and have that moment with two weeks of build. No problem whatsoever.  Instead they push the big show.  The Big Show has had his chances and he's blown them all.  So now Brock at a time when he should be getting built further.  Instead Brock is spending his time trying to get the Big Show over so Big Show can give him the rub.... Okay let me get this straight......  Brock gives Big Show the rub repeatedly to get him over......... Big Show puts Brock over once at the PPV...... This helps Brock?    "Does this make logic" -Konnan.   Well evidently it does to Paul who sure is proven why I don't think much of him as a booker. 

Money Marks for Failing Promotions
NWA TNA has evidently found their money mark now here are the issues they need to address. 
In the first two months of operation they ran 1.5 million in the red then they got the money mark to take care of that.  To keep from going out of buisness they drastically cut back on expenses.  Now they have increased them again bringing in X-pac for instance and Hennig.  No reports have surfuced that give us any indication that their buyrates have risin from the early (awful) estimates.  Now they are increasing expenditures more again to advertise.  So we know the expenditures are returning back to the levels that left then 1.5 in the red.  If the advertisment doesn't work the question becomes how long will the money mark put up with this operation. 
The next issue is that they have no one who is a draw.  None of the people they will advertise on RAW will be people anyone will A: Know or B pay to see.   The only way for TNA to grow is to have TV so people will randomly stumble over their shows.  However for this TV to work it needs to be kick ass and show the best the promotion has to offer (since they offer no one who is as good as you can see on Smackdown its tough.) So you need to put on good TV.  However if you  get TV then put on good TV its going to be hard to convince people to pay $10 to see what they can see for free.  (That's one of their problems is they arn't in smackdown's league and Smackdown is free.) 
So TNA has a choice they can either not put on a top level TV show to keep their PPV's special or they can go to a (I would suggest ECW) like scheduel of 1 PPV every other month.  If they go the second rate TV option they kill the reason for having TV.  Their TV will make them look like a weak company and instead of making people excited to pay for it may turn people off to the idea.  If you go to option B your TV better be good because that now becomes your prime revenue stream. 
Right now they benifit in many ways from not being directly compared to the WWE.  Jerry Lynn is the best wrestler TNA has.  Jerry Lynn isn't as good as Benoit, Guerrerro, or Angle.  In fact he's not even that close.  Their champion is Ron Killings the WWE's Champion is Brock Lesnar.  Brock's bigger, more athletic, and a better wrestler.  All Killings has is he talks better then Brock does.  When you compare TNA to just Smackdown its not even in the same league.  Right now very few people are making that comparision.  They go on cable they will come off bush league like ECW did.  We all saw how long ECW lasted once it was revealed on a National stage that they were a bush league promotion. 
There are ways TNA could make this work.  Yet to survive they must stay small and resist the urge to try to explode.  It will take money to really get huge.  But if they start spending that money and don't get huge then what?  Let's say Killings becomes a break out star through a national tv show and advertisement.  What's to stop Vince from stealing him, paying him more then TNA can, and then moving him into the midcard? Midcard is about all I could see him doing in the WWE unless he improves greatly.  Not that Ron isn't talented its just they have people who are better then he is.  It becomes almost a catch-22.  They can survie as long as they never try to get big but if they try to expand to fast everything may fall apart. 

Emulating Success Instead of Failure
Okay since Mania the WWE has done exactly one program that drew a buyrate or got people talking, or seemed to move the ratings.  That was the Rock vs Brock angle.   Lets see how the angle was built. 
1. They gave it time to develop.  We know after King of the Ring this was going to be the match up.  They never gave it away instead building tension between the two slowly with only small periodic releases.
2.  They built Brock up as a monster.  Instead of playing mind games with his opponent Brock went on a path of destruction destroying everything in his path and sending the message he could do the same to the Rock.  Instead of playing scared he said it plain he would beat the Rock at his own leisure.
3.  Nothing stupid.  It was a very simple program.  Rock is the champ Brock is the undefeated challenger, they want to prove who is the best.  Has Brock passed Rock or has he just not been tested.  All this was focused about the ring.  No murder storyline or you slept with this girl storyline.  Simple I'm better then you and I will prove it.  Really in wrestling that storyline with two over people will always work.  It could have worked for Undertaker and Brock  but the end result would have to be Undertaker being inferior and we can't have that.
4.   Awesome Video packages.  They didn't focus on some hockey storylines.  They showed two awesome athletes getting ready.  You can do this more then one way another is the Wrestlemania 17 promo video for Rock and Austin.  Two a fitting song it showed the two top men in the industry facing off building to a crecendo and then a silence.  Awesome stuff.  You can't do that for these kind of hockey matches though and the less angles you put into the videos the better.  In Rock vs Austin it was simple the two top men in the buisness are facing off to determine who is the man.  In Rock vs Brock it was two great athletes are getting ready to face each other to determine who is the man.  Really feuds over spots work. 
Now here is the issue and I'll throw it open for my message board is how to apply these things to drawing money.  I think the Undertaker and Brock could have been done the same way and drawn better.  Lets think about Chris Jericho vs HHH right now.  How could they work it?  Here is basic points.
1.  Jericho has never really beating HHH he has to prove it to himself and the fans that he can. 
2.  Jericho gets a victory over HHH in a tag or six man asserting doubt into HHH's mind on wither he is still better. 
3.  Jericho holds off fighting him again but is forced into another tag match which he losses.
4.  You do video packages outlining their entire history Jericho failing again and again over voice overs of Jericho promising to get the job done vs HHH promising to prove again he is the man. 
5.  You do the match Jericho wins.  Then you go from there on the feud. 
Now I will submit that's not hard to book.  I will also submit that that program would draw more money then the HHH vs Kane murder storyline.  

Smackdown shows it all.


Smackdown this week will in many ways properly be praised as an amazing show.  Yes I know and believe that anytime someone pulls out a ladder experts everywhere pull out the proverbial ratings bong.  The Eddie vs Edge match is already getting vastly overrated but lets look at the show analytically to see things that are looking good and things that are looking poorly.


Eddie vs Edge- The match had several flaws such as the ladder being included for no reason other then to pop the crowd and rendering the first 10 minutes of the match totally pointless.  Then you go to the mindless killing of each other.  It was a fun match but totally wrong for several reasons.  1.  The last time Edge was in a gimmick blow-off match he got injured and was out for a couple of months.  These matches shorten careers and injure people. The WWE cannot afford to lose either one of these two guys.  Lucky for them though both are evidently healthy.  2. Obviously people paid to see them wrestle on PPV.  So why give away the blow off match for free?  Only midcarders have blow off matches for free and this sent that message.   Plus the match got silly which really hurt it. 


Benoit vs Angle vs Rey-  This was a hell of a lot of fun as well but again I have problems with the booking of it.  Some good things though were shown here.  One is that the fans have clearly decided Benoit is a face and seem to really be getting into cheering for him thats awesome.  Kurt is the best heel in the WWE right now and it shows that the fans enjoy booing him.  The plan was and I expected for Kurt to turn face through this feud but it hasnt happened and the WWE should defiantly scrap plans for Kurts face turn. Eddie was also getting a strong face response tonight.  Yes it was in California but it was still noticeable.  Would the WWE be wise to turn Eddie and Benoit face right now?  I dont know about anyone else but I could go for an Eddie and Benoit vs Brock and Angle feud leading to a Brock and Angle break up and match. I understand the thought of having Rey win in his hometown but this continues the running in circles process that all midcarders in the WWE are suffering from.  Benoit beat Angle and has a US match of the year candidate and gets a good entrance pop so the WWE capitalizes on his momentum by.jobbing him to a midget? Of course this will lead to a rematch where Kurt will probably cause Benoit to lose again killing all his momentum. Rey is good and all but due to his size he can never be more then a side attraction so I dont see the wisdom in hurting Benoits push. 


Brock and Taker-  Im going to write a cheappop for Brock pretty soon.  Hes just so impressive.  I dont like how hes being booked though.  It was nice to see how over Funaki is getting but Brock squashing him really didnt do that much for Brock.  Brock needs to destroy a midcarder to impress people but he really needs to go out there and have strong matches and go over strong to take the next step.  Hes capable when will the booking team wake up. 


You know Matt Hardy was getting over.  Last week the fans really seemed to be enjoying getting under his skin.  He seemed to be finding a nice gimmick that could solidify him as another solid midcarder.  Not to mention the match last week with Hurricane was exceptional.  Im really glad the respected locker room leader has taking it upon himself to elevate Matt.  Matt is so much better off after this show I mean lord he got 2 moves in on the Undertaker!  The Undertaker is better then Rock you know he destroyed Lesnar who destroyed Rock.  I mean Undertaker didnt even beat him with the Chokeslam that makes Matt look tough right? 


Anyway other good things-  Less Steph, Chavo getting time, the fun tag match.

More bad- The bikini contest, Cole and Tazz overselling the Edge vs Eddie match. 

WWE Really Sucks Part III


I left you off with a freshly turned Austin.  As I said before the evidence at the time did not actually support the now popular belief that the fans were just not willing to accept Austin as a heel.  Ratings (even adjusting for Nitros absence) were up the month following his turn.  The next month however the ratings took a down turn into the low to mid 4s where they have hovered a bit above and below since.   So it seems reasonable to assume that something happened in those two months that turned off a million fans.  Lets look at what happened.


How much of this is HHHs fault is tough to know it is possible that he just did what he was told.  The fact that what happened was to seriously weaken his top rival for the top spot is suspicious.   The WWFs logic was someone as despised as HHH could give Austin the heel rub. It was a stupid idea because by this point HHH was hardly despised in fact he was very respected, got a huge entrance pop, and the fans only booed him out of obligation.  They then said that with two top heels like Austin they could elevate all their young faces.  Again this is flawed logic as you had two guys the fans really respected and basically liked going up against people the fans didnt care nearly as much about.  Also putting HHH with Austin rendered pointless Austins No mercy job.


The obvious problem was that between HHH and Vince (two characters who cant play second banana) Austin basically had to play third banana.  He came off weak pathetic and like HHHs lap dog.  He wasnt the killer monster out of control heel we all knew he could be he was a loser.   It was to far of a jump for his character and without question hurt his viability.  


Remember now they were supposed to elevate young talent.  The first talent to get called upon were the Hardy Boys.  The Hardys were fresh off losing a typically spotty but memorable ladder match at Mania X7.  They were already by this point stale compared to how they had been just a year ago.  Despite that and their lack of mic skills I think its always a good idea to push the Hardys.  No Im not a Hardy Boys mark as much as Tim is but Matt and Jeff appeal very well to the female, the young, and Jeff and his stylish hankies appeal to the Homosexual demographic.  Its always a good idea to push people who broaden your market.  One of the things that helped the WWF during the dark years of the mid 90s was having Bret Hart who while not a great draw in America was huge internationally and in Canada.  Bret helped the WWF draw huge overseas and pull in some tidy profits when they needed them.   This is also why it would now be a good idea to tone down the sexism in the womans division since they are showing potential in the ring and its a good idea to appeal young girls which someone like Trish, with a less sexist character, might be able to do.   Such as Lita was actually doing during this period but especially the year before. 


To rant further its absolutely silly the way the WWE cultivates the fickle teen demographic at the expense of every other demographic.  If you have some cool wrestlers, some cool moves, some T&A you will keep a reasonable portion of that demographic. But the WWE just by going back to crash TV and sexist storylines and cussing will not win back a significant portion of that audience.  It will take an angle like the original NWO or a wrestler like Austin or the Rock to make wrestling cool again.  Just changing the format wont make those things happen and if they do happen the teen group will come without all the stuff that turns off every other group and makes wrestling an embarrassment in the medias eyes.  Right now the WWE would make more headroom cultivating females, younger children, and adults.  I would wager they could get some of those groups without turning off the teens if they would just not be so sexist and vulgar.  They could have some but it shouldnt be every interview or every female character.  I mean really Molly Holly looks like a normal attractive woman she could appeal to older men or girls but instead shes a prude with a big ass (even though her ass is within the normal range and really Trish has quite the buxom bottom.) 


See people this is why the WWE rants take so long to do because Ive gone 2 weeks and already written enough that I could publish it.  Anyway here is how the Hardys were elevated.  First they put on a good showing in a tag match getting good heat before Austin and HHH won and then destroyed Lita.   This was not a bad way to start.  Then Jeff got a big win of HHH  after getting squashed the whole match and with the help of a chairshot from Matt.   So far really not to bad.  Then the Game gets his revenge, squashing Jeff totally and then pedigreeing him with Jeffs only offense coming off cheating.  Then HHH squashed him again and pinned him as an after thought to help Austin in an outside brawl.  Oh yes the whole elevation of the Hardys had just been to segway HHH and Austin into the Undertaker and Kane feud. 


The problem with this feud wasnt that it happened.  Undertaker was a logical first challenger for the heel Austin while someone else was being built up if HHH couldnt do it. The fans were willing to watch this feud for a month but after that the terribleness of the matches caught up with the WWF and the ratings started to drop and drop fast I believe almost a point in a month. 


The WWF realized they needed to do something and fast so they panicked (for the first time of many) and gave the push two their most talented midcarders Benoit and Jericho. Benoit had been in a decent midcard feud with Angle that went to far to comedy to be effective for his character.  Jericho had been in a midcard feud with Regal.  Both had gotten into some issues with Edge and Christian.  This and some mutual issues with Regal lead to a respect pairing of the two.  They did a surprise teaming in a gauntlet match with the winners getting a shot at the tag champions (HHH and Austin).  They won to get the big shot at the top two men in the company.  


The match itself was wonderfully laid out.  With Benoit doing the majority of ring work  while Jericho worked the crowd.  It was probably one of the best matches in the history of WWE television.  The ending was slightly bad with HHH hitting Austin with the sledgehammer to cost his team the match.  However the crowd response was great anyway and the Benoit/Jericho push was off to an excellent beginning.  One immediate problem though was HHH got hurt in this match quite seriously.  This shouldnt have hurt the angle but I think it did.  Most likely the plan was to have Jericho wrestle Austin and Benoit wrestle HHH at King of the Ring.  That plus the tournament plus the freshly starting invasion angle should have guaranteed a reasonably successful PPV.  HHH going out I think might have caused the WWF to panic a bit quicker then they would have normally when things didnt immediately turn around for the Benoit/Jericho push.  Without HHH they felt they needed a possible title change so they booked it as a handicap feud which ended up making Benoit and Jericho look weak. 


It must be noted that things did not turn around for this push.  I think it was unfair though to expect that to happen though.  Benoit and Jericho had been booked poorly and hadnt been primed for this push.  The WWF had a substantial amount of downward momentum at the time.  The ratings freefall stopped during this period and who knows if they could have turned it around.  They only got two weeks before Vince pulled the plug. 


Paul Heyman reared his ugly head as well to hurt the push.  He came up with the brilliant idea of putting Benoit and Jericho in a four way TLC match.  It was another fun but spotty match.   The problem is that on one of the crazy bumps Benoit hurt his neck and lost feeling in one of his arms. Meaning that even if his push had been sustained Benoit wouldnt have been able to capitalize on it like he should have.


A further problem was that while Jericho had tremendous charisma with HHH he had terrible charisma with Austin.  Jericho was supposed to be the main guy to feud with Austin but they just never did click together.  Meanwhile Benoit turned out to be the best opponent for Austin since Bret Hart.  Due to his lack of charisma though management didnt have faith in Benoit to carry a feud with Austin.  They were silly though.  Austin has enough charisma for both of them and Benoit has a great physical presence.   With the right booking and the type of matches those two were pulling off it could have been a great feud. So at the King of the Ring Austin pinned Benoit.  Jericho had no heat as the crowd was behind Benoit or Austin in the match.  Jerichos push was dead till the Rock would single handedly revive it and Benoit needed neck surgury.


At the same time the invasion storyline has started off.  The feuds beginning was basically WCW guys running into matches and hitting a finisher and then running off often chased off by WWF wrestlers.  The real beginning though came when it was revealed that DDP was the mysterious stalker of the Undertakers wife.  DDP was probably the second biggest star the WWF had signed from WCW behind only Booker T.  Him revealing himself stirred immediate interest.  Then the Undertakers ego got in the way.  There was only one way to book the DDP vs Undertaker match.   They fight hard, DDP does something acts like an asshole, DDP hits the Diamond Cutter and serves notice that he is coming after anyone in the WWF and will do whatever it takes.  WCW had such a bad image for the feud to work they had to push it strongly to begin with and the only way to do that was to have DDP go over in the first interpromotional match.  Instead the Undertakers ego got stroked as he completely squashed DDP in the match.  Then the Undertaker squashed him even worse in every subsiquent match till even his wife got to pin DDP.  It killed DDPs, who should have been a hot item in the storyline, and hamstrung the invasion angle from the beginning.  Honestly with the exception of HHH no wrestler foots more blame for the WWFs collapse then the Undertaker. 


Booker T didnt help matter by in his first appearance getting overly excited and injuring Steve Austin.  The WWF locker room at this time was in full protect our spots mode and this gave them a another piece of ammo to hurl at the WCW guys.  In subsequent weeks WCW, who needed to be put over at this point,  got whipped, beaten down, run off, and humiliated.  The most startling example was when Austin and Kurt Angle basically kicked Booker Ts ass from the ring to the exit door.


I dont want to act like this angle was a sure success because it wasnt.  I think that people when they imagined WCW invading the WCW imagined these people in about this order:  Goldberg, Hogan, Flair, Nash, Steiner, Booker, Hall, DDP.   The feud was going to be a natural let down because they brought in the sixth and eighth guys only.   Ive always thought that had the WWF brought in Hogan, Nash, Hall, Flair Booker, and DDP all at the same time the angle would have worked better because they would have been fresh, and that crew would have been a realistic threat to the WWF.  Booker and DDP were not perceived as being on the level of Austin or Rock and the WWF wasnt going to do the hard steps that it was going to take to bring them up to that level.  The way theyve been brought in has defused the effect.   The deathblow to the feud was when the WWF had the bright idea of using Buff Bagwell in the showcase match for WCW.  It was one of the most disastrous matches in the history of Wrestling as the fans booed he and Booker out of the building.  This forced them to turn WCW heel.


To save the angle they decided to make the WCW/ECW alliance.  This brought some heat to the feud and made the ECW marks all sticky but it really didnt increase the ratings more then the WCW invasion had already done.   The Invasion PPV did however draw a huge buyrate based off of two factors neither of which were ECW.  1. Curiosity and novelty 2. Steve Austins short lived babyface turn energized fans as only Steve can do.  Of course even though turning Austin face was a big success the WWF had to turn him back heel by joining the Alliance.  This was done because without him the heel side was absolutely pathetic and  they were bent on building to the Austin vs Rock rematch, which never occurred.  I dont know if Ill do another one detailing the rise and reburial of Jericho and the failure of the NOW and HHHs face run.  Thats all so recent.  But Ive got you to Summerslam 2001 thats pretty damn good.

This is a post I made responding to Markster over at Wzforums.  He suggested things the WWE could do to turn things around and I then went rambling off.  Its pretty good stuff so I post it here.
1. Shane McMahon returning
JHM: Last time they did this was Invasion and that bombed so no.
2. Stable wars (as discussed in another thread)
JHM- This has been done to death and only the NWO can it be proven actually drove ratings up.
3. Specialty match now and then (ladder, etc.)
JHM: They do that and only thing that usually happens is a talented young star gets injured see Chris Benoit TLC 4 or Edge in the Cage with curt
4. A commissioner to oppose the GMs
just like can we really do the
JHM:  So now instead of 2 people (in theory 3 with Vince) we have four.  What match is a commissioner going to build to?  Its big Steph vs Eric blow off match that all of WWE tv is focused on?  How about this build around the Wrestlers.
5. Reforming some of the tagteams (e.g. Dudleyz)
JHM:  Dudleys were stale when they broke up.  Buh Buh is begining to show some potential by himself he doesn't need to get saddled with D-Von when he might be ready to take up. 
6. More cruiserweights?
JHM: That's all well and dandy to put on a good show.  Cruiser's don't usually increase ratings by themselves but they can be part of a winning formula.  But I think they need to concentrate on getting the cruisers they already have over.  They've done a great job with Rey and Jamie and Rey and Jamie have done a great job for them.  Now instead of fueding them with each other why not use them to try to get other people in the division over and save the Rey and Jamie match for latter. 
7. Stone Cold returning
JHM- Austin is a proven draw.  However what should they do with him?  Austin used like he was in from Mania 17 on won't help matters.  A motivated Austin in a fresh program where the main goal isn't to bury him will. 
8. Scott Steiner signing
JHM-  Bad idea.  Scott is in horrible health, a horid backstage presense, PR nightmare, among other things.   He injured a good portion of WCW's top card when WCW couldn't afford to lose people.  HHH hasn't been in good health for I don't think its a good idea to put him in the ring
The WWE has tried a number of Quck fixes since they killed Austin between backlash and Judgement day 2001 these include.  1. The Invasion 2.  ric Flair.  3 NWO. 4. the Split 5. Eric Bishoff. and now Raw vs Smackdown. 
Why each of these have failed till RAW vs Smackdown is well documented I'll tell you right now why this quick fix will fail.  First off no one is loyal to one show or another we are all WWE fans.  So no one is going to get passionate.  Second it looks like they are making RAW a heel show which is dumb because won't people just stop watching it if they hate it so much?  Thirdly it's all been done to death.  The GM vs GM story is done.  The Invasion story is done. 
The fact is no quick fix will work because its very difficult to with one move suddenly take a product that is cold and make it hot.  The NWO didn't turn around WCW.  WCW's house show buisness and their ratings had started to increase during the Savage vs Flair feud.  The NWO made a product that was already heating up EXPLODE.  Same for Austin vs McMahon.  The WWF's buisness had turned around during Bret vs Austin and really begun to heat up during the Tyson/Michaels/Austin angle.  Austin vs McMahon again made it explode.
So bringing in Goldberg or say Austin could do huge buisness if they were dropped into a company that was already starting to heat up.  But if you drop them in a company that was cold they will get cold and your just dumping your money down the drain.
So what could heat the product up?  I suggest the answers are all around us.  Every fresh face the WWE has is hot.  From Batista, to Cena, to even Ortan, to the awful Maven to espiecally Lesnar the fans are just super into anything fresh.  These guys won't be fresh for long so its time to capitalize on it NOW.  Push the young guys hard let them compete for spots continue to give them big wins over veterns and then play it up huge instead of burying them.  People competing for spots always draws.   Put Brock over everyone clean though making him the man that espiecally includes Undertaker and HHH.  
Second lets decide on Wrestlemania now and start moving towards it.  Brock vs ???.  I'd suggest Edge or Angle as the best guys.  Once you decide you push the opponent hard and do everything you can to get them over.  The program for either would be HHH who desperately needs to lose a feud to give his character some motivation.  Once you've gotten your guy over you have them win the rumble and spend the next two months building hard for the Brock match.  You start planning now so you have all the tricks in the book ready for this must succeed feud.  All the little nuances of the feud etc.  If it works you'll know because the house show buisness will pick up.  The houses always start dropping first and always turn around before the ratings or buyrates do.  Once they turn around you spring your ace in the hole be that Goldberg or Austin or both.  How about after the Brock vs Angle match at Mania they shake hands do the whole respect thing out come Goldberg and Austin at the same time to just kill them starting a nice 4 way feud that might make the product explode.  But! I wouldn't even think of doing that unless the Brock vs Angle feud and the product were hot. 

Pot, Angle being overrated,and site thoughts.
First off responding quickly to Tim's response majijuana and alcohol are the most amazing drugs known to man nothing quite like them really. I know you (Tim) know majijuana is harmful but I hear all the time "you have to try weed to know its harmless" which is just not true its worse then tobacco except not even close to being as addictive.  In heath wise its kind of like Alcohol and Tobacco combined with a temporary white blood cell loss.  Alcohol is actually extermely healthy in moderation.  However long term excessive Alcohol use can cause a major neurological impairment similar to alzeiheimer's called, my sister says, wernike's encephalopathy which is  worse (but similar to and not as common) then the nuerologiacal damage pot does.  But really Alcohol is also the most passionate drug and trying to ban it just has been proven to be beyond stupid. The blackmarket problem with pot isn't nearly as nasty as it got with alchohol and is really not one of the worst one's we have.  My feeling is that people have a right to do things to themselves but we shouldn't make it easy on those who want to make a living off of human misery.  As far as the study I think it was  one or more joints a day not really an absurd amount regular use also suppresses white blood cell count for some odd reason but I couldn't find the study so I won't say how much.  And yes we have drugs that make you want to eat and work better then pot but as I said pot may work for some people those drugs don't work for and its always nice for Doctor's to have options.  Hell cocaine is a lower scheduel then pot which seems pretty crazy but Cocaine is a REALLY REALLY REALLY good local anesthetic.  Like I say on medicinal I'm pretty much for giving Doctor's the option.  I'm worried that if pot were totally legal though due to economics use would increase and if it was much we'd end up paying through our asses on health care cost.  Anyway next topic
Ehren Shaffter of http://cpwtapes.tripod.com has agreed to add content to purotapes.  How much of this will be original and how much of this will be simul post from his website I don't know but it should significantly increase how regular our updates are and keep you busy.  He disagrees with me alot as many of you know from my responses to him but I disagree with Tim to but I respect his oppinon just like i do Ehren's.  Actually you want me and Tim to do a knock down drag out get us started on Foreign Policy which we REALLY disagree on as opposed to he's slightly more liberal on marijuana then I am.  Like I always say we are eager to add more writters you can go through me or Tim we trust each other so if one of us likes you the other probably will at least except you. 
Also as far as the WWE rant part 3 I may try to finish that this weekend. 
Anyway on to the controversial part of this post.  Kurt Angle.   I think Tim will attest to the fact I was on the Kurt Angle bandwagon quickly.   And to some extent I still am but I think everyone neeeds to slow the bandwagon down a bit. When I hear people (Metzler) put forth Kurt as the best wrestler in the world I find that to be going way way way to far.  Kurt has way to many flaws to be considered probably even in the top 10 in the world much less the best.  Hell he's behind Benoit and Eddie in his own company and was behind Austin till at least January. 
The problem with Kurt right now is he really uses his body well but not his brain.  Just because Kurt uses suplexes instead of 450's doesn't make him any less spotty.   Lets be honest on what Kurt does well.   He executes his moves extremely well, he sells very well, and he has great timing espiecally on nearfalls.  This lets him do dramatic matches.  Or I should say match because Kurt doesn't seem to be able to adjust his style at all to tell the story at hand.  Perfect example is the match with Kidman tonight.  Good action that will probably be pimped highly but the match from a psychology standpoint sucked.  It was the exact same match Kurt used against John Cena but it was not the same situation.  Against Cena he was the cocky heel letting his guard down and almost getting upset.  Here he was the focused star out to send a message.  The message was that Rey should beat him.  Kidman should have gotten a few offensive spurts and maybe one or two nearfalls to establish vulnerablity in between Kurt streatching the hell out of him and pounding him into submission.  Instead he took Kurt to the limit with no real interference.  In theory Rey ranks above Kidman.  Rey can't get any closer to winning really the Kidman did without winning so if he loses Rey looks bad.  Plus Kurt weakened both his finishers by having a jobber easily counter then so when a guy like Rock can't it looks silly.  So basically the match hurt his finishers, hurt anyone who he beats with them, hurt Rey, and didn't help Kidman because its the same as Kurt always wrestled.  Fun match yes but totally ineffective. 
Speaking of his finisher its a fucking ankle lock.  Yet instead of doing any work on the lower leg Kurt spends the whole match working over the back.. It was espiecally silly in the match against Rock recently where he talked about before hand wanting to make Rock tap then went out and did it felt like 14 suplexes pinning like normal to build to an ankle lock.  If he's going to do that he should either get a back submission or just use the angle slam because this makes no sense.  
Its funny because if RVD did the same things we'd all rip him for being spotty but like I say I guess if you can do 4 suplexes you must understand psychology (some people thought/think Tazz was a really good wrestler.)  Kurt is still young and may learn but at this point his psychology is still as weak as his strikes (which never land).

The WWE Really Sucks Part II


I left you at the build for Summerslam.  The stage had been set quite easily for a rematch between Benoit and Rock after Foley screwed him out of the title at Fully Loaded.  However as I already pointed out to the detriment of Jericho HHH wanted back in the title picture.  This left Benoit and Jericho out of the picture so after their elevation they were right back fueding with each other as they had been before they were elevated.  HHH vs Rock had been done to death and the buyrates for their Iron Man Match at Judgement day was okay but didnt say that the public was demanding another match between the two.  Plus HHH was in the love triangle angle with Angle (pretty cool alliteration their dont you think.)  So even though Angle had just been squashed by Undertaker he got thrown into the title match.  The problem with this was several fold.  First off Angle hadnt been built for the title.  Second the fued was between Angle and HHH so Rock literally floated around aimlessly for a month without doing anything notable.  HHH was being booked like the top man in the company even though Rock was over on a level that only Austin and Hogan have ever reached. 


The result of all this was the very disastrous HHH face turn.  The problem here was that people really were interested by the love triangle and how it would end up their was only one way for it to end.  That was with Stephanie leaving HHH for Kurt to both elevate Kurt and to give HHH his just deserts for how he got her in the first place.  Instead first Kurt (who if you remember got huge face pops early when he was screwing HHH over and especially when he first kissed Steph or hugged her or anything) became the special fella (or gay) which killed his face momentum so HHH ended up being the one turned.  Then of course they never payed off the angle supposedly because HHH could never be left by any woman or it would weaken his character.  The payoff was simply Stephanie low blowing Kurt to choose HHH over him.  Then the angle was basically dropped as Rock got the task of putting Kurt over and HHH went off to feud with Benoit for insulting the honor of his wife.


WWE hadnt lost hardly any momentum since losing the biggest man in the business, Steve Austin (in ways they had gained it).  Since Austin had left Rock and HHH had established themselves as true main eventers, the Undertaker had returned with a fresh persona, and Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle were all on the verge of super-stardom.  Now Austin was back and not only back but with his neck better, his body healed to some extent by being away from the bumps for months, and determined to prove that he was still the best in the business.  Business should have been ready for another boom but things actually started to decline.  One of the reasons has already been discussed in the failure to pay off the Angle/HHH/Stephanie angle which the fans had invested in.  Another was the piss poor booking of the Rock who had been carrying the company in Austins absence and the final was how Austin was used.


First off Austin was brought back anti-climactically.  He showed up at Unforgiven promising to look for his assailant and just basically stunned Steve Blackman and Shane McMahon.  Then Austin wondered around aimlessly arguing with Foley while the booking committee decided who the hell ran over him.  Many have questioned the selection of Rikishi but I think it could have worked.   The first problem was Rikishi wasnt built up prior to the revelation.  He wasnt even really being pushed that hard so while it was a shock it was a disappointment.  Rikishi gave a good (in wrestling terms) explanation on why he did it.  His reason of doing it to help the Rock was the perfect way to drive a wedge between the Rock and Austin for the slow build to Wrestlemania.  Rock would have been the innocent man wrongly impuned by a family member he used to respect and Austin would have been the increasinly paranoid victim going about getting revenge in the totally wrong way.  Rikishi would help the Rock but Rock would reject it for their feud which Austin would constantly be sticking his nose into against both.  It basically booked itself. 


However while the initial part of the angle were handled well as I said the build to the angle had been flubbed  and Rikishi and Austin just really didnt have chemistry in the ring.  He wasnt a good opponent for Austin to work the rust off against such as a guy like say Benoit would have been.  The fact that Austin and Rikishi were bad opponents made many fans feel wrongly that Austin was washed up and going to have to live off his legacy.  The first sign that we had the best Austin we had seen in years was when he delivered consecutively his best matches in years against first Benoit and then Angle late in the year.  However it took some fans such as Ehren, JD, and Justin (the http://cpwtapes.tripod.com boys) time to realize that Austin was all the way back.  With fans thinking Austin was Hogan and the fued stalling HHH came in to save the day. 


HHHs babyface turn hadnt really worked like anyone really hoped.  He wasnt accepted as a top face he was clearly beneath Rock and Austin and was really jousting with Undertaker and Jericho for number 3 in the fans hearts.  A heel turn was honestly needed for HHH the problem was again the WWE obviously hadnt planned on it.  HHH at the time was locked in duel feuds with Benoit and Angle the number 2 heel and the number 1 heel/champion respectively.  (I know if your wondering how the number 3 face was feuding with the top two heels at the same time while Rock was doing almost nothing you just remember the booking around HHH serving only him is a pattern.)  Basically one show Austin realized that Rikishi must be a henchman and started to search for the real mastermind.  HHH reminded him to his face DTA then later in the show attacked Austin and revealed he in fact was the mastermind.  HHH turning heel hurt four people.  First it hurt Austin who looked like Sting for trusting HHH who had been the set up man in the original angle and the man he was feuding with at the time.  Next it took Rikishi from being the self validated heel to being a mere pawn for the Game.   Then it left Benoit and Angle without a real fued.  They had to scramble together an Angle vs Undertaker feud and Benoit got to try to carry Billy Gunn through a feud something the Rock couldnt even do. 


There was another problem.  HHH was injured and needed time off.  As he usually does he sucked it up and worked through it but it basically guaranteed another bad match for Austin.  The abject failure of this to save Austin is shown by the fact that with this appealing match on top Survivors Series did the lowest buyrate of the year.  It also coincidentally was the only card of the year when Rock wasnt in at least the co-mainevent.  Its mind boggling that HHH won wrestler of the year over Rock and people to this day say HHH carried the WWF while Austin was gone.  There isnt a shred of real evidence that points to anyone but the Rock being the guy who the fans were paying to see that year.  Survivors Series also marks the beginning of the Stephanie era as head booker.  As much blame as she gets I think Ive shown the WWF was already being booked poorly before she took over.  Of course this PPV is notorious for the dumb finish in the main event where HHH was dropped 20 feet in a car and suffered only minor  injuries. 


The next month as Benoit and Jericho continued to work pointless midcard feuds  the main event featured the top 6 men in the buisness  Undertaker, Rikishi, HHH, Angle, Rock and Austin in a Hell in the Cell match.  The build up only further established how unimportant Angle was as champion.  Angle and Rikishi were both played as pawns for HHH (yep after their feud Angle was HHHs lackey).  Rock wondered around aimlessly even longer as none of the storylines leading to the match revolved around him. Now the wear and tear started to show on the Rock.  The match ended with Angle pinning you guessed it The Rock again (no one else in this match could job of course) after Rock ate a Stone Cold Stunner.  To put over the match HHH took a few weeks off while a quickie Austin vs Angle feud was happening.  Jericho and Benoit went back into a feud with each other of course and the Rock was still wondering around aimlessly. 


By this time more people were noticing Austin had turned it up a notch and in early January he had one of the best WWF TV matches in years against Kurt Angle for the title.  HHH cost Austin the title and they did a memorable staredown and post match brawl.  HHH of course inserted himself back in the title picture.  The plan had been for Jericho and Angle to tangle for the title but evidently they werent over enough so we got a heel vs heel match which never works.


At Royal Rumble Austin cost HHH the title.  Jericho and Benoit had a fun ladder match and Rock was eliminated by Austin.  Since Rock vs Austin was the money match it was quiet obvious that whoever didnt win the rumble would win the title at No Way Out but the WWF went about it the wrong way.  With the plan being to turn Austin heel he should have been champion instead of challenger.  The WWF was already working a difficult situation having the match in Texas.  Ive always noticed what I call the champions disadvantage when it comes to crowd heat.  The fans want to see a title change and its hard to route for the guy who is already there.  So in a face vs face match the challenger has a distinct advantage for cheers.  Look at Warrior vs Hogan were Hogan was more over before and after but for that one match the crowd was probably pro Warrior.  So the crowd which may well have favored Austin anyhow was even more in favor of him in the build up to his heel turn. 


In the interim Rock got his formal win over Angle and Austin lost to HHH clean.  Now of course HHH pinning the top face clean seems strange especially before he is scheduled to main event the biggest PPV ever.   The logic was sound actually.  When Austin turned heel HHH would be strong to be his first challenger.  They could carry the company till Rock came back and they could do the Rock and Austin rematch.  The first sign this plan had been changed was at Mania when HHH lost to Undertaker.  Clearly HHH should have won this match to clearly situate him to challenge Austin as a face but instead HHH put Taker over (Taker being no threat to take his spot) so Taker could be Austins first challenger.  Again HHHs selfishness hurt the company.   HHH didnt want to be the first challenger since he would then have to put Austin over strongly to build him for the Rock and to seal his heel turn.  Clearly HHH absolutely couldnt be used to build someone!   So instead of putting over Austin he sabotaged him. 


At Mania of course Austin won the title and joined Vince.  The next night HHH cost Rock the rematch to join forces with Austin while Rock went off to make The Scorpion King.  There is a myth that  the ratings dropped because the fans werent will to accept Austin as a heel.  The fact that the ratings went UP the first month with Austin as a heel would seem to argue against that.  No fans werent willing to accept the product they were given and part of it was how Austin was booked as a heel but this rant is long enough so that will have to wait till next time. 

The WWE just really sucks


This may be my definitive column on the WWE.   Im just absolutely and positively sick of watching them and writing about them. Im almost to the point where I was with WCW during the Nash era.  The shows are just really bad and I dont know how many different ways there are to say that.  The political BS just makes it that much worse as it did with WCW.  When you have Shawn Michaels out their cutting bull shit shoot promos accusing the Rock of doing to HHH what HHH has done to the Rock, the writing team wanting to sacrifice Steve Austins credibility for a one week rating pop, Vince becoming more a part of the show then ever,  that young up and comer Ric Flair being elevated to the top babyface position, Eddy getting jobbed to hurt Austins credibility if they ever feud, and X-Pac getting bookings changed all the times as if he actually matters all IN THE SAME DAY its just beyond frustrating.  Its getting to Hogan, Nash, and Torrie Wilson in the hot tub bad.  Smackdown is almost as bad everyweek as I have to watch HGH stink up my television and squash all the people who entertain me. I have to watch the original HHH pose, cut insincere promos, and stink up the show as only he can and as he has done for generations.  I get to watch them kill the show.  As Hogan has done for years,  he was one of the reasons I hated WCW and the WWE was idiotic to think they could make it work because they wouldnt make the mistakes WCW made.  And as HHH has since the middle of 2000 when he became secure in his spot and his power and became more lazy and started more clearly defining his terrible agenda. 


This bad booking however did not just begin.  Some would argue the WWF was booking poorly in 1999.  Looking back at those shows from 1999 they certainly do suck.  Ill just go from 2000 when I started to notice signs  of problems.  While I do Ill try to relate some stuff back maybe even show some patterns that have lead the WWF to where they are now:  a company in a state of panic.


Lets flashback.  If you dont believe the timeline I offer for my feelings you can ask Tim about them he can confirm that I was worried about the WWF long before most people were.   My initial problem with the WWF arose during the McMahon/Helmsley era.  I hated those shows.  You had the endless boring HHH promos and the never ending stream of Handicrap matches meant to get him over as an out of control heel.  I was frustrated but their was some good for instance youd get the odd HHH vs Rikishi match that would just totally deliver beyond your expectations.  Foley might cut a great promo etc.  WWF seemed to realize their problem quickly and went into one of their best periods ever over the next few months in every way.  Great TV and great PPVs doing better business then the WWF had ever done before.  The WWF had the future leading the way in the Rock.  The first sign of the problems that have eventually brought the WWE to their knees came in Febuary of 2000 when the Radicals invaded.  Money in the bank had arrived.  With the ratings war still going on the reigning WCW champion jumped ships a rare opportunity and one that created an immediate ratings bump.  While Benoit isnt top draw material by himself the situation allowed the WWF the chance to make him into that despite his personality shortcomings as well as make stars out of Malenko, Saturn, and Guerrero.  First they jobbed them out to DX then within a week Benoit couldnt even get a clean win over Rikishi.  All the momentum they had was killed and a potential huge money angle was lost so as to not upset the existing hierarchy.  Let me just make this clear again people challenging the existing hierarchy draws money if done right and always has.    People will pay to see someone try to take someone elses spot its interesting and it takes very little creativity to do.  To go off on a side rant I think that could be one of the WWEs problems.  I think the booking team simple over thinks everything.  Wrestling is at its core very simple good guy vs bad guy works.  Number one guy vs number two guy works.  You did X that made me angry now Im going to do Y to you is the basic formula of wrestling.  I think the booking committee is of the mind that their creativity and humor is what gets people over.  People cant just get over because of their talent they need help.  People who do just get over because of whatever reason like RVD did get run around in circles.  Plus you have these intensely complicated storylines focusing around midcards with no character depth.  How many love triangles do we need.  Hello Stephanie Maven isnt more over, Tajiri is less over so their fued isnt working.  Torrie was getting Tajiri heat with those geisha outfits but now she isnt getting Maven heat just getting herself heat.  Simple stories propelled by characters with some depth would work about 10 times better then this crap. 


Anyway the WWFs main goal at the start of 2000 was to get HHH over as a big time heel.  The whole machine was behind getting him over and everyone in the company basically was called on to put him over (please contrast this to how everyone since then has been handled).  It even got to the point where HHH became the first heel ever to win at Wrestlemania over the Rock who should have been ascending to the spot of unquestioned number one.  This was the first sign that the Rock was going to get treated like any other top babyface before him had been treated.  Before every top babyface won almost all their matches over whatever odds presented to them.  Rock would be different failing often.  When Rock won the title at Backlash his title reign lasted only one month.  This was a totally dumb move.  HHH getting the title in the ironman match which should have been the blowoff match where the former champ puts over the top babyface clean and they both move on to other things.  Instead we get another title change and then the next month Rock wins the title back without even pinning the champion.  This if your interested was the first sign that not all was as it seemed with HHH. Here he had politiced himself out of the feud with Rock without ever putting Rock over and winning their biggest match (the Ironman.)  It was brilliant on his part but horrible booking on the companys fault.  The Rocks natural charisma was enough to survive this insult but HHH and company would riddle him with so many bullet holes that eventually he would show the wear and tear. 


The HHH vs Rocky feud had been done to death and everybody knew it.  Naturally seeds had already been planted for HHH next feud.  Jericho in a RAW match had for 17 minutes won the World title from HHH.  The fans showed that they were absolutely ready to accept Chris Jericho as a main eventer.  The feud was built nicely with Jericho insulting HHHs wife to build his ire.   Meanwhile Chris Benoit got tapped as the Rocks ceremonial first opponent.  A quick program was done to set up the match.  Shane McMahon came on as a manager for Benoit and a number one contenders challenge was made.  Interestingly enough to get a shot at the Rock Benoit would have to beat the Rock.  In truly awful booking to build up a match for a PPV not only did they give the match away for free but Benoit lost the match.  Benoit got the spot anyway but during the whole build up never got a win over the Rock.  Jericho got some heat on HHH usually running in during his matches (HHH eventually outsmarted him on this one by doing a fake match with X-pac so when Jericho ran in they could ambush him.)   Kurt Angle who had just won the King of the Ring got to take on the Undertaker.  So it was set up three up and comers would take on the top three men in the company.  One of them had to win (logic suggested Jericho.)   However they all lost.  Angle was squashed by Taker.  HHH dominated the last man standing match but Jericho did get a nice run of offense and HHH just barely won by a second (although as I said HHH did dominate most of the match.)   Benoit and Rock did a nice back and forth match with lots of interference from Shane and Benoits hand was held up after the ref made an erroneous call  to DQ the Rock.  (See instead of building Benoit up as a threat to take the belt the WWF decided to say Rock could lose the belt by DQ.  That way they could say Rock could still lose the belt if he lost his temper.  Foley came out and restarted the match and Rock made short work of Benoit.)   In and of themselves were detrimental to the lossers the fact that all the up and comers had lost though spoke volumes.   The worst thing came the next night though when HHH made his first stab to destroy Jerichos heat.  Jericho came out and cut an impassioned promo about the match and admitted he lost but said he would improve and asked for another match.  HHH in a nice piece of psychology wouldnt even come out but instead just appeared at the Tron (see Jericho wasnt even worth going to the ring for.)  Basically saying it was a good match but Jericho couldnt get the job done and wasnt on his league and that he was done with him and that HHH had more important business to attend to. Amazingly at the time no one that I can remember understood how thoroughly HHH had just undercut Jericho.  The fact that Jericho just took it like a lamb and didnt even try to provoke HHH into another match was even further damning.  After all the insults and heat and blood Jericho wasnt even worth a trip to the ring.  Jericho would never again get as close to being accepted as a true main eventer. 


 Next time HHH and Angle do the first Stephanie love triangle,  Austin returns and Steph gets the book. 


Almost anytime a promotion is in the doldrums a call is made to elevate new talent to the top.  Its a simple theorem really.  Fans like to see different people pushed to the top so they can see fresh matches.  Also its pretty damn exciting to wonder if some young guy is going to be able to unseat somebody ahead of him on the hierarchy.  In general this is true although I think less so in Japan then in America.  In Japan the more emphasis on athletics and competition lend itself to a stiffer hierarchy working.  The question is watching to see this person struggle slowly up the ladder facing stiff opposition getting a big win then getting beat back down.  For instance from 1993-2000 Kawada chased Misawa in All Japan and I dont think ever passed him.  He got wins he got pins but Misawa was always the man (until early 2000 when Kobashi finally ousted him.)  American wrestling of course emphasizes stories at least equally to the in ring product.  So its important to have fresh people for fresh stories.  You can do an endless amount of matches between two people if the emphasis is athletic (if the Lakers and Kings meet next year and play 7 I think it will do good business) but in an angle driven company there is only so far you can go with the story lines for two people. 

However is it true that fresh faces have to be elevated to create a hot period.  Well the only was to tell is to look at hot periods.  The WWF from 1984-1990 was extremely hot and did huge buisness.  This boom started with the elevation of Hogan to being the franchise player and they fed Hogan an endless stream of different heels.  During this period Savage was elevated and at the end Warrior was elevated.  Then the next has to be WCW from 1996-1998.  This hot period you had the new players come in (Hall and Nash) and they added a shocking turn to it.  The hot period lasted for a couple of years off the momentum of those three men and then was sustained somewhat in 1998 by the accession of Goldberg.  Then their was the WWF from 1997-2001 this period coincided with the rise of Steve Austin in 1997-1998, the rise of the Rock in 1998-1999, and the rise of HHH in 1999-2000.  After HHH was established as a elite guy no one else reached that level and eventually the surge died and has been in regression as of late.  However while all these booms coincided with new stars being pushed they also coincided to a change in booking philosophy.  From 1984-1990 you had the more cartoonish gimmicks marketed for kids.  In WCW from 1996-1998 you had more rational and dramatic storylines in the main events mixed with a more athletic and exciting undercard ring style.  The WWF of course from 1997-2001 brought in attitude, it should be noted though the most financially successful year of the WWF was 2000 which was post attitude. 

While like most things hot periods are probably caused by a multitude of things lets just say that elevating talent is one we are pretty sure is part of it.  The question becomes how do you elevate new talent.  Well my experience is that it is not brain surgery.  There are also more then one way to do it.  Lets try to except guys like The Rock or Hogan who just clearly were going to be the next big thing unless the company had a total brainfart on them.

The first guy Id like to look at is Bill Goldberg.  Bill Goldbergs run equals about the easiest way to push someone.  What happens is you find a guy with a great luck and good physical charisma and then you push.  You put them over everybody that stands in their way gradually moving them up the card.  Then you get to the main event and you put them over all but a few people on route to the title, never jobbing them.  Then you slowly run the people who havent been routed past the monster.  WCW failed in the next step of finding a young talent to instantly elevate by putting them over the monster.  Of course if you think of Hogans 84 push the WWF never put any over him (till Warrior) and they did quite good business.  The benefits of this push are obvious.  First off since you start small you have plenty of time to gauge how well this guy is building before you pull the trigger on the final stage of his push.  If you have the right guy for this push it is basically guaranteed to make a star.  Goldbergs push did have its failings though.  First off he became almost bigger then the company.  Everyone else looked like a joke next to him so it was very difficult to get behind anyone else.  Also when WCW tried to make him vulnerable it was hard for the fans to accept.  He was built off being larger then life and invincible.  Once he was no longer invincible many of his fans went away.  However again Hogan is a good example of someone who got this push and made lots of money who the WWF never made beatable and drew them great money for years. The final problem is this push gives the wrestler so much so fast that it is a huge risk that they may get a swollen head. Guys who could benefit from this type of push: obviously the WWE believes Brock Lesnar.

The next example is the Misawa example.  At the start 1990 Misawa was a very strong upper mid-carder with lots of potential.   By the end of it he was a main-eventer and the protagonist in the hottest feud in wrestling.   At the start of the year Baba had a pretty nice arrangement.  His top star was Jumbo Tsuruta beside Jumbo as the top native was Stan Hansen.  Genchiro Tenyru was challenging for Tsurutas spot while Terry Gordy was challenging for Hansens spot.    Gordys partner was Steve Williams who was a firm number 3 native.  Baba had an absolutely awesome mid-card featuring Misawa (under the Tiger Mask), Kawada, Kobashi, Doug Furnas, Dan Kroffet, Kikuichi, Taue, Fuyaki, the Great Kabuki, and Masa Fuichi.  A pretty awesome roster from top to bottom.  Then around April Tenyru left the company to form SWS eventually raiding several off the companies names including Kabuki and Fuyaki among others.  However Tenyrus departure meant that there was nobody to challenge Tsuruta and no angle for him.  So Baba swallowed hard and picked a top mid-carder, Misawa, and made a star.  There is a myth that Misawa was made a star on one day.  It was a quick process but it was a process.  First Baba started the feud, then Baba gave us a video package moment, Misawa ordering Kawada to unmask him and then throwing the mask at Jumbo and attacking.   Then they did a great heat up match where Misawa pearl harbors Jumbo with a vicious elbow heard round the world which Jumbo sells for like five minutes before going ballistic and having a mega brawl with Misawa which is inconclusive.  Just the fact that Misawa was so able to damage and anger Jumbo with one elbow gave him credibility.  The fact he won the match, but not by pinning Jumbo, only added to the build.  Then they did the match June 1 st 1990 at the Nippon Budokan Misawa scores the upset pinning Jumbo clean.  Everyone sells it like this is a huge moment.  Misawa is carried around on the shoulders of Kawada and Kobashi as if to say he has arrived.  From their Jumbo and Misawa feud with Jumbo winning the next three singles matches but Misawa getting several clean wins over Jumbo in tag matches.  The lessons from this totally successful push are many.  First off Misawa wasnt just suddenly given the big win.  It had a short but effective build up to it.  The build established Misawa as a threat so that his big win didnt come off as a fluke.  The next thing is that the win doesnt have to be decisive but it does have to clean and it needs to not look like a total fluke.  Jumbo sells well for Misawa throughout the match.  And while normally the progression of events leads to a Jumbo win it isnt a squash.  Then the win is followed up.  Misawa is not suddenly better then Jumbo, Jumbo still is in every way the man, but Misawa does get the better of Jumbo and beat Jumbo and Jumbos team many times and takes him to the limit in their next two singles matches.  A guy who would benefit from this would be Edge.  You work an Edge and HHH program like this and there is a good chance youve created a new star. 

Ive heard many people say that to much damage has been done to people like Jericho, Angle, and Benoit for them to ever be seen as credible main-eventers.  I dont believe that can ever be true.  A simple retooling is often all a person needs to overcome any damage.  For instance something as simple as a new and effective finisher can be spun as the difference maker between a jobber to the star and the ace of the company.  New Japan was trying this with Manubu Nakanishi and his Frank Gotch German Suplex hold but they werent willing to stay the course or I should say Inoki is a moron. One has to look no further then Steve Austin to see a wrestler who had to be considered damaged goods in 1996 but a simple retooling of his gimmack added to a new finisher was all he needed to become the biggest name in the sport.  HHH is another example of a guy who looked to be just way to damaged goods to ever be able to get over in mid 97 but by the end of the year he was part of the hottest heel group in wrestling.  The change was a total retooling of his character.  Now HHH is an example of another way to make a wrestler.   The try, try, try, try, try, and try again method.   First they tried the blue blood gimmick which never got over.  Then they gave him Chyna which got him some heat but not enough,  still they gave him the King of the Ring.  Then they made him part of DX which gave him a mildly successful run as a heel and then a awful babyface run that got over mainly because of two words.  Then they turned him back heel and gave him wins over Rock, Austin, Foley, and the title but he still wasnt that over.  Then they put him with the bosses daughter and gave him total control of the company in the storylines and he still was only mildly over.  Finally Foley put him over clean repeatedly and then they put him over Rock again at Wrestlemania and HHH was finally over enough to justify his spot.  Of course this only lasted a little while but still the WWF did it they made HHH a money drawer.  The lesson is that if you have someone you believe has what it takes it can be very rewarding to keep shoving them till the fans accept them.  Of course if its that hard then the benefit may not be as much as the risk.  For instance did the WWF really benefit from HHH getting over?  They could have firmly established the Rock as a franchise player but they choose to try to make HHH equal to him.  The Rock has been hurt by all the losses hes had to take to try to keep people close to him.  Also if you pick the wrong guy you risk a fan rebellion.  That didnt happen with HHH because he worked hard to deliver.  The WWF was one step away from doing that with Billy Gunn and that would have been a disaster.   A guy who could benefit from this push would be Kurt Angle. 

There are more examples then these.  Its not super complex you just look at what got over people in the past.  Sometimes with a guy such as Bret Hart its just perseverance.  Bret worked his ass off for years before finally getting the main event push.  The fans had learned to respect Brets determination and talent.  When the WWF finally decided to give Bret the big push the fans agreed that Bret had earned it and were very responsive.  Bret didnt have that charisma that is necessary to become a huge draw but Bret was a rock of stability for the WWF during a hard time and eventually a rock they used to build Steve Austin with.  A man who could be that rock for the WWE is Chris Benoit. 

Solutions for the WWF. 

I don't do this very often.  And as always I'm not going to do any fantasy booking because its Masterbaitory and I know that.  However I will set out a mission plan the WWF should follow.  Point by point.

1.  Kurt Angle needs a mega push.  For the past few months one thing has been perfectly clear.  Kurt Angle is the most over heel in the company.  The fans truely enjoy getting on Kurt's case and his work has been fantastic to back it up.  Kurt just got a US MOTYC out of Edge of all people.  The first one Edge has ever had really (ladder matches are all overrated remember.)  Basically Kurt right now can make people look better then they are which is a great quality in a top heel.  So its time to give Kurt a mega push where you put him over everyone in the company clean ala Triple H in 2000.  Its time to elevate Kurt to equal status with Austin, Rock, and HHH speaking of whom.

2. Depush HHH till he is ready or able to work-  At the moment HHH is one of the most intolerable things to watch on TV. His promos drone on forrrrrrreeeeeeevvvvvverrrrrrrr.  He never says anything worth while and its just getting old listening to the announcer's blowing his cock about how great he is for this or that when he hasn't shown shit since he came back.  The only thing more boring the a HHH match it seems is a HHH promo.  He should put over Angle now not later.  Taker, Hogan, and HHH are all in the same boat in my oppinon as far as guys who should be used to elevate other talent. 

3. Find some people to fued with Austin-  Steve Austin is the best guy in the WWF. Steve Austin is the best draw in the WWF.  Steve Austin is stale.  Austin's what stuff is cute and should be kept but Steve needs to turn it up with some hell fire and brimstone promos as only he can cut.  Of course on of the main problems is that Austin doesn't have any good opponents.  The only solution is to put the belt on him feed him some heels from both shows till you've got Kurt ready to take the belt off of him.  The split going to work of course but the WWF is determined to do it so the only way to make the most out of your top star at the moment is to have him on both shows.

The owners problems- First off they shouldn't turn Flair heel no matter how bad he wants that.  It never works for long and just isn't the proper usuage for him at this time. Vince is to present on smackdown.  He's stale and him living out his masterbaitory fantasies on our television is just getting so fucking old.  No McMahons on my TV would be so fresh.  

Hypnotize the Rock into not being a movie star- NO comment needed.

Really its not complex.  Hogan is tanking again after a strong buyrate start.  Take the belt off him.  Build around guys who can go Austin, Jericho, Angle use the guys who can't go anymore to put them over. 


My philosophy on Wrestling writting

First off Zach Arnold wrote a op-ed on wrestling media this morning over at http://www.puroresupower.com while I agree with many of his points I have to take him to task on something.  First off if your going to critize people name names.  Don't say some, and everybody except a few people.  It causes confusion among your readers.  If you mean Metzler say Metzler.  Your not going to hurt him or help him by saying you'll just allow people who have read him to think if they agree with your point rather then trying to figure out if you mean Metzler. You did the same thing with the promotion that did less then 40% of the attendence on the second show then it did the first show.  Umm do you mean Ring of Honor? Or what?  How do I know if you right if you don't even actually say what you mean?

Now so for my philosophy in general.  Basically this is the philosophy I want but won't neccesarily insist upon from anyone who does or will ever write for this site.  For instance I suggested Tim move towards it for his last ginxed column but he didn't and I respect that.  So what the philosophy is is moderate and fact based arguments about wrestling.  I want to avoid two major schools of thought that have popped up they really arn't used by any of the big time writters mainly small timers like myself. 

The first has the goal to prove you know more then someone by liking less or by rating something with lower stars.  How many times have you seen something like "Metzler's out of his mind giving that match 4 stars that wasn't even 2 1/2 stars!" It think Mike Lorefice you often gets critized for overrating matches did that several times recently. Its fine to disagree with Metzler and I often do in fact I usually do.  The problem is it becomes a competition to critize more about a match then someone else or to rate a match lower then anyone else.  Now people arn't afraid to rate matches that everybody loves from the past high (no one is going around saying "how can you rate Misawa vs Kawada 6/3/94 as 5 stars!")  But on recent matches where they don't have all the old stuff written down on and their isn't a set view it becomes the competition to like something less.  As soon as one person (looking at JDW) at http://www.otherarena.com critizes a match you'll get a flood of other people amening and saying but you missed this that made it even worse!  Really I have no need to try to out critque something, I don't know more about wrestling then JDW so why should I try to act like I do?  He's watched it longer then I have so I don't have any inferiority complexes. 

The second even worse is to prove your a bigger fan of wrestling by not critizing anything or overly romanticizing everything.  You know the people who write "if you don't like it stop watching and shut up."  That ostrich argument really annoys me.  The only way things improve is if people demand it.

So basically what I want and what I am going to try to do is to write more objectively.  Emphasis facts while stating both what is good and bad about everything.  If I make a point hopefully I will back it up with facts.  Now if I say a match was sloppy I may or may not give specific examples.  Anyway there it is.  More facts.  No trying to out critize people.  That is the purotapes philosophy.

MANIA preview!!!!

Well it that time again when the WWF puts on their biggest PPV of the year Wrestlemania. Since without question Mania is the biggest card in North America I think it deserves a special match per match preview.

The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan- Well its a truely historic match. Two of the biggest draws and most charasmiatic wrestlers ever wrestling for the first time on the biggest card of the year. I'm not to excited though. To my knowledge Hogan hasn't delivered a good performance in at least 10 years. While I'm a huge Rock fan he isn't exactly the guy I would call to try to get the first good match out of Hogan in a decade. The real question is can Vince keep himself out of this match? He's interfered in the last three Mania main events so will the cycle continue? One thing for sure though either way this match will not have a clean finish which is another strike against it. However, this is a huge match and occasionally the WWF will let Pat Patterson design an important match so that it becomes better then it had any right to be. So my prediction is Hogan will win with lots of help in a match that could range from a dud- 2 stars.

Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall- This is an interesting match. Hall at one point was very carriable and charasmatic. However years of drug abuse have clearly taking their toll on the bad guy. Hall did show some signs of life against the Rock though, although I wouldn't call that a good match. Austin is better then the Rock but Hall could always show up drunk.... Prediction- X-Pac Interferes to cost Austin in a dud to 3 1/4 star match.

Chris Jericho vs HHH (WWF undisputed championship)- These two have generally been one of the best WWF matches the last few years. You would think with it being on the biggest card of the year they would both step it up. However this match has several handicaps against it. One the build has focused on Stephanie so when its time for Jericho to wrestle the match and carry the heel heat there is a good chance the fans won't respond. Another problem is HHH just can't sustain heat during his matches as a face. Then you add into the fact that you will have Stephanie distracting constantly and HHH hasn't exactly been that good since his return and you get the picture of a match that could go anyway. I doubt it will be bad. Rumours have it HHH will turn heel to win. Who knows the match could be 2 1/2 stars-4 stars.

Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker- Well they've built this one well. Flair and Taker are quite comfortable in their roles and you can tell. The match should suck as Flair hasn't really been that great in the last 10 years either. dud to 2 stars.

The rest of the card is a joke but I will say Kane vs Kurt Angle could be the sleeper good match on the card.

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