Ringside Shadows #113: Cleanup Duty
Ok, I blew it... and the readers called me on it.
As a part of last night's post, I berated the WWF for their shabby treatment of the sprouting tag team division. I made a couple main points about Edge and Christian's title shot (or lack thereof), the 'out of nowhere' tournament and the Dudleys' lack of defenses. At the risk of stealing a line from the illustrious Mr. Spence, here's the deal;
I work Thursday nights. Plain and simple. I've two roommates with much more interesting and extensive lives than I, who wouldn't think twice about erasing my vcr timer on a whim (nor to play a bit of Playstation), so I rarely get a chance to see Smackdown (or Thunder on Wednesdays, for that matter) nor the results that go down therein. Sure, I read the spoilers.. but text doesn't hold the same archival sense that video, audio and live action do. Any visitor of an internet porn site could tell you the same thing.
Two dozen e-mails later, I stand corrected.. Edge and Christian recieved their due title shot, and the Dudleys have defended their belts within the last month.. but I'm still not convinced this was such a superb turn of events. After all the build surrounding the Edge and Christian / Hardys match at No Way Out, with the special 'winner gets a title shot' stip engulfing it all the way, I figured at the very least a shot on Raw would be in order... if not at Wrestlemania. Instead, the WWF's premiere weekly broadcast trots out the Godfather and the Big Bossman, while the Dudleys laze behind the announcer's table. Not exactly becoming of such fighting champions. The tag division could and should be so much more, with the talent bursting from its seams (Kaientai, Too Cool, the Hardys, the Hollys, the Dudleys (a family feud of sorts..), Head Cheese, even the Acolytes are worth more than they let on). I suppose I'm more than a bit let down that Vince could find a way to do anything but tear the walls down with such a lineup and I'm letting it jade my view of the Dudleys' role as champs.
As I said, I found a few letters in my mailbox this morning.. more than a couple had another word or two beyond the "Do you watch Smackdown?" rephrasal, so I'll address those here. I'll cut through the irrelevant (and repetitive) corrections and get right to the meat, so I apologize in advance if these are hacked to pieces.
Faur Power (email@example.com) commented on the big week for wrestling in the media;
"I assume you watched SNL and the rock. It had a couple of good skits (Rock as the neanderthal, Rock singing, Mick's People's Elbow)"
Actually, yup.. I watched the chosen champion on Saturday Night, as well as DDP on The Brak Show and Foley, Piper and Hogan on Larry King Live.. and I was more than a bit let down with all. Rocky fell into the typical role I feared he might through the majority of the show, and the skits were all quite bland. SNL's been straight crap for a number of years now, and I'd really have liked to see the Rocky of today working with the SNL players of about ten years back. The 'invasion' bit with Mick, HHH and the Show was stupid for the most part (with the occasional gem... Show's backup singing and expressions were great, and Foley's big elbow took it home), and really made the show seem sophomoric and unprofessional. I guess this is why I don't watch SNL anymore though, save the repeats on Comedy Central. Dana Carvey could've carried the Rock's ass through anything.
DDP showed up on Cartoon Network's Brak show, the second such wrestler to appear on the Space Ghost-related programming (Randy Savage played Space Ghost's uncle on an older episode of Coast to Coast and was hysterical). He sang (!) a little ditty with the enlarged locust, Zorak, and before you knew it the segment was done. I'm no fan of the Brak show (I think he works best as a sidekick), and this was pretty much dumb as well.. still, it was a surprise to see his presence in the first place. If you missed this one, don't bother looking for a repeat.
Finally, I watched the aforementioned Larry King Live.. the best of the three. King seemed surprisingly civil to his guests, which came as a real shock to me.. I'd almost expected him to grill the three right from the opening bell. In the end, he seemed almost swayed over to our side.. ready to accept wrestlers as the athletes they are and not the jokes the media plays them up to be. Hogan made the usual ass of himself, attempting to one-up Foley in the injury department and claiming that when throwing a punch, he lands full force on his opponent's face (particularly funny was Hogan's commentary over a recent match against Flair.. the Hulkster threw a boot that missed by a good 6 inches, and informed King "now, I'm hitting him right in the jaw there.."). Piper was, as always, a great guest and Foley seemed the more humble of the three.. always understated and never really allowed to complete his thought. Despite Hogan's showboating, it ended up a worthwhile hour.. if much too short.
Hilgeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) threw out more than one idea;
"I know who hit Steve Austin, who's behind G-TV, and who raised the briefcase. It's Marty Jannetty. Don't tell anyone though, the WWF has had big plans for him ever since HBK retired. And I can see where your coming from, but let's be realistic, it's not the Dud's fault, it's the WWF who's booking the matches and if they want the Dud's screwing around with Mae Young, putting her through tables, then there's nothing they can do about it. Hopefully, after Wrestlemania they will re-evaluate and realize that they should....
1. Unify the Euro and IC Title and...
2. Add another Tag Team title, they've got Headcheese, T+A, Too Cool, Dud's,Hardy's, Acolytes, still E+C, Holly's off and on, Radical members off andon, Headbangers, Taka and Funaki, and from reports Joe E. Legend and Scott Vick might make up a tag team."
Regarding the Marty Jannetty bit... hah, I'd love to see it. I understand he was meant to be the 'higher power' originally, but Vince was thrown in at the last moment. From there he went to WCW, where he drove the original hummer and then back to the WWF in time to raise the briefcase and run over Steve Austin. Not bad for a former Rocker who's since lost every bit of bounce to his step, eh?
As for your more serious statements, I'm not sold on either. I'd expect the Euro title to stay in the hands of Kurt Angle (thus giving him a pinfall over Benoit or Jericho in one of the two falls at Wrestlemania), and the IC title to find contest between Benoit and Jericho for months after the big PPV. Personally, I think that puts both belts in good hands for the foreseeable future and well beyond. Angle's almost ready to carry anybody to a watchable match (almost! almost!), and Jericho/Benoit will be quite the sweet series. Besides, 'retiring' the Euro title would cheapen its previous champions.. the Bulldog, Shawn Michaels... and Shane McMahon. What good would the title of 'grand slam champion' be without a fourth belt to complete the diamond?
Finally, I think another tag title is completely out of the picture. WCW tried it many moons ago with the oft-forgotten and much-maligned 6-man tag straps, and the experiment failed miserably. In this instance, I think it would only serve to further confuse the already-messy tag situation. If anything, things need to be streamlined now and adding another belt would just unleash a mass of chaos on the unsuspecting public.
GMEN27@aol.com had a gripe with my treatment of WWF fans;
"After reading your review I was disappointed in how you didn't mention how hot the crowd was for RAW. Foley got an unbelievable pop and the main event had unreal heat. The Hardys were also way over. In the Benoit vs. Jericho, there were several Y2J chants. Yet, you ignore it. "
Honestly, I'd thought I had mentioned it.. both Nitro and Raw had unbelievaly hot crowds Monday night, and I think it went a long way towards making the two programs the best they've been in months. One never really recognizes the importance of a strong crowd until it's absent. Thanks for noticing my slipup (another for the list attached to issue #112, I suppose), as it's definitely something I'd meant to cover.
Finally, Christopher Brennan (email@example.com) had a view or two to share about the Wrestlemania lineup;
"..I don't agree with this booking, just because we already have enough schmozes at Wrestlemaia as it is. I mean there is not even one singles match on the card: a 4-way main event, triple threats for the IC and tag titles. A quickly put together tag match with Kane/Rikishi and X-Pac/Road Dogg, and a six man tag for Chyna, Too Cool, and the Radicals. What happened to our blood feuds? Well, I'm getting off on a tagent, but I just wanted to say that there is a reason behind Raw's tournament and that it's not an unexplained mistake on the WWF's part."
That's another great point. With the big main event, the IC / Euro matchup and the tag team 3 way, Wrestlemania is shaping up to be a monster card... a bit too monster. It's no secret that the WWF has gone over the edge in the past, and it's cost them in the long run.. Perhaps the greatest Wrestlemania in history, WMX in 1994, was nearly marred by the inclusion of a shaky Main Event that included Lex Luger and Yokozuna along with Bret Hart. I worry Vince has already boxed himself in by overbooking Wrestlemania weeks before the show goes on the air. Sometimes, one should just put two workers in a ring and let them do what they're paid for.
At any rate, thanks for your feedback, Christopher, as well as everyone else who took the time to write in a response/correction to my last post. I suppose I must be doing something right if so many care enough to correct my oversights.
And yo ho ho, look who's back.. as of this writing, it would appear Eric Bischoff's taken back the reigns of wCw.. effectively bringing us full circle. Interest in the Turner product seems to be higher than it's been in months this evening, and I never thought I'd say this but.. it's good to see Eric back. I fear he, too, will fall short thanks to a heavily depleted roster but his infamously horrid main event bookings were always backed by a stellar undercard.. much as he seems to downplay it, Eric does have an eye for good talent. He was at the helm when Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero, Mysterio, Psychosis, and Juvi were brought in (among others).. I only hope he's got more than a couple new prospects here, since he's got a hefty bag full of jack to mold in wCw.
As always, thanks for reading.. I'll be back either late tomorrow or sometime this weekend with the illustrious part III of my WCW talent evaluation, and then again Tuesday with the ceremony that's become the Tuesday Review. As always, feedback is appreciated, read, responded to and often posted. I'll make you a star!
until next time, i remain