Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday Night Raw Spoilers & More

If you don't want to know what happens on tonight's Raw, then stop reading this post. Otherwise...

Ric Flair does not lose tonight. As foreseen by many, Flair wins his match against Triple H via disqualification due to outside interference. Interestingly, Vince McMahon adds the stipulation that if Hunter lost, he would not be able to compete at the Royal Rumble.

Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy do a promo in which Matt asks his brother if he would get a title shot if Jeff beats Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble. Jeff says yes.

Mr. Kennedy makes good on his vow to beat Shawn Michaels before the year is out with a clean pinfall victory.

There's a few other matches, including a run-in between JBL and Chris Jericho.

It is also announced that next week's Raw will feature the "Raw Roulette," which means that the wrestlers will spin a wheel which will determine the type of matches they will wrestle in.

The matches were taped Saturday night in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Incidentally, Jonathan Coachman will be replacing John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) on Friday night Smackdown. Thus becoming Michael Cole's broadcasting partner.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Royal Rumble Sold Out!

The Royal Rumble pay-per-view set for January 27 at Madison Square Garden sold out today in just under five hours, according to Ticketmaster.com. The event features Randy Orton defending his W.W.E. Championship against W.W.E. Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Hardy. To the best of my knowledge the ICC title will not be up for grabs. Tickets went on sale this morning at 10 a.m. and predictably sold out quick. The show kind of has two main events in that the Royal Rumble match itself is quite a spectacle. Thirty men are signed up with two starting out in the ring together. Every minute and a half thereafter another man enters. The winner is the last man standing after the other 29 wrestlers have been thrown over the top rope and to the arena floor.

Don't forget that Monday Night Raw is being taped tonight in Greensboro, North Carolina. Triple H (I hate it when people call him "Trips") will face Ric Flair. Of course, from this point on, Flair's career ends if he loses.

Meanwhile, W.W.E. Champ Randy Orton will team up with John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) against W.W.E. Intercontinental Champ Jeff Hardy and Chris"Y2J"Jericho.

By the way, Hustler Magazine will be featuring the late Nancy Benoit in an upcoming magazine. Nancy Benoit, who went by the name "Woman" throughout her career, posed nude for some pictures but never gave consent to have them publicized. This is just sleazy to me that Hustler would do this! Sadly, though, people will buy it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Odds & Sods



In no particular order of importance...
MOVIES
I saw Charlie Wilson's War and I'll say right now that it is a five-star movie! I was so impressed with it - yes the book is better, but the movie did not disappoint. It has been a couple of years since I finished the book, but watching the movie brought me right back. The only book that is not better than the movie is Jaws. Author Peter Benchley's novel differs in that it describes in detail a tryst between Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and Chief Brody's wife (Lorraine Gary). Ill, cooties! Thankfully, the storyline in the film did not follow suit!

As far as Charlie Wilson's War, some critics said it favored liberals. I didn't get that at all. I thought it portrayed political decisions as not always being black and white. There was also a very cryptic scene toward the end...that I won't mention, you'll just have to go and see the movie. But, I'll give you a hint, it occurs when Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is gloating about the victory in Afghanistan on the deck of an apartment with Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman). There's a distinct sound that is a portent of things to come. Chilling.

NEWS
As far as politics go, how come whenever I ask what Hillary Clinton has done as United States Senator that warrants her being the leader of the free world, people get all fired up. I just want someone to name one single, solitary piece of legislation that she has voted for that has been good for the people of New York.

On the other side of the coin, when is someone going to mention the number of deferments that Rudy Giuliani got that kept him from going to Vietnam?

Is this country's best and brightest the aforementioned two jabronis?

SPORTS
As I told a friend, I'm pulling for the Giants big-time this Saturday night because A: I'm a fan, and B: Don Shula is my boy!

So yes, I will be watching the Giants-Pats' game this Saturday night...and you thought I would be at the Manhattan Center trying to get Tammy"Sunny"Sytch's autograph. That's just silly! But a viable option if it weren't December and freezing!

Merril Hoge = (Fill in Obscenity)

Chris Berman's act is: a) still funny b) wearing thin c) obnoxious, idiotic, and childish. What say you?

Boxing's Floyd Mayweather is mulling a possible jump to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Good luck! Mark Cuban is trying to lure Mayweather to his "HDNet Fights," a mixed martial arts promotion. Cuban stated in September that he was in talks with Vince McMahon in hopes of teaming up to get an M.M.A. federation off the ground.

Mixed Martial Artist Bob Sapp is currently in negotiations with the W.W.E. If the deal goes through, Sapp would most likely be used primarily in Japan where he is a huge star and the W.W.E.'s attendance has been lagging of late.

It's funny that Glen Sather was known as being pretty tough as a player, but when it comes to his own teams he never seems to be able to have the right mix of tough guys. The Rangers sorely need a physical presence on the blueline, if they intend on going far in the playoffs.

It pains me to say it, but the N.H.L. just has no clue when it comes to marketing its stars. They've got an awesome crop of young players - even some not named Crosby or Staal - and they just continue to be inept in the marketing department. Can someone please remind me why they lost an entire year for a lockout? Can someone also please tell me why Gary Bettman has bee a good commissioner?

Separated at birth: Underrated actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. (top picture) and overrated ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon (bottom picture).

Inside The Squared Circle: Best And Worst Wrestling Stories, Kane Presidential Endorsement, Cena Return? Flair's Last Match? More Heenan Surgery

The darkest day to be a wrestling fan was June 25, 2007. It was late that day that police announced that Chris Benoit committed suicide after killing his wife, Nancy, and son, Daniel. A horrible and unexplainable story that was only made worse and more sensational by the sloppy reporting of Nancy Grace, some on Fox News, a few on MSNBC, and many on CNN.

By contrast, a great day to be a wrestling fan came this past Monday night when the W.W.E. aired its "Tribute to the Troops" broadcast from Iraq. I'm not sure how many of the troops were in the old soccer stadium - a few thousand - but they were as raucous a bunch as any that I have heard this year from any one of the huge arenas the W.W.E. visits. Just think, a wrestling event being put on in a stadium that Saddam Hussein allegedly had the Iraqi national soccer team executed in! Great job out of World Wrestling Entertainment for putting on a tremendous show for the true heroes. The film crew also did a nice job of going behind the scenes and showing us what's been going on in the lives of the soldiers; giving the viewer real insight.

An otherwise slow week, but the news is as follows...

W.W.E. superstar, Kane, has endorsed Ron Paul for President.

Steve Austin has legally changed his name to "Steve Austin."

Hillary Clinton's campaign staff posted a video on the W.W.E.'s website in which she thanks the troops on Christmas Eve, though Clinton did not mention the wrestling promotion on the video.

John Cena has apparently rehabbed his torn pectoral muscle to the point that there is now talk of him returning at Wrestlemania 24 on March 30, 2008.

The last I read, around 70,000 tickets have been sold for Wrestlemania which is being held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. It doesn't look like they will be putting many more tickets up for sale. The W.W.E. broke the indoor attendance record at Wrestlemania III by drawing over 93,000. I'd love to see them have another audience up around the 90 or 100,000 neighborhood. I'm not sure why more seats aren't being used at Wrestlemania 24. This event is outdoors, so that may have something to do with it.

Ric Flair will face Triple H this Saturday night in his "backyard" in Greensboro, North Carolina. The bout will air Monday night in one of the few taped Raws of the year. If Flair loses, his career ends.

Tickets for the Royal Rumble at Madison Square Garden, will go on sale this Saturday morning.

Let's all hope for the best for Bobby"The Brain"Heenan who is undergoing a second surgery this week to rebuild his jaw. The first surgery was not successful and Heenan remains in an induced coma. Reports are saying that he will slowly be brought out of the coma within the next few days following the surgery.

Instead of "Keep it in the Ring," I'll close with a slogan used by one of the soldiers who was interviewed on the "Tribute to the Troops" show..

Treat 'em rough!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Update: The Bhutto Assassination

The year ends on such a sour note with the news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. It's troubling to think of what the fallout will be, hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the animals responsible for this will be captured quickly. Bhutto was leaving a park in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, after giving a speech at an election rally. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 8.
A couple of very ironic notes about Rawalpindi:

The park where Bhutto gave the final speech of her life is where Pakistan's first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was shot to death. The park is named after him. Her father was hung in that city after being convicted on bogus charges. Current President, Pervez Musharraf survived two bombing attacks in 2003. The mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, also in 2003.

Surprisingly, al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. Why surprisingly? The terrorist group rarely takes credit for their attacks, and when they do it is not so quickly. Perhaps, this is because they really have been kicked off the world's mainstage and are looking to become relevant again.

Benazir Bhutto took one shot in the neck and one in the chest, before the attacker blew himself up.

When a story like this occurs, I really miss John Batchelor being on WABC Radio. He always had the best analysis from the most well-versed guests. I just don't trust many folks on the cable networks to handle this in an intelligent way, and please don't get me started with the talking heads on CBS, NBC, or ABC.

Bhutto Killed: Outrage and Shock!

The hotbed of Muslim extremism just got even hotter as Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a political rally today. A suicide bomber killed Bhutto and at least 20 others in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This story is still breaking so details are very sketchy.

What I know about Bhutto is that she was in exile from 1998 until this year, when her and Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf reached an amnesty deal with regards to charges of past corruption against Bhutto. She was elected twice to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan, but removed both times because of those alleged corruption charges. Bhutto comes from an extremely influential family in Pakistan. In fact, her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto served as Prime Minister in the 1970s before he went to trial and was subsequently executed for ordering the murder of a political opponent. The charges were quite possibly baloney and the trial itself was considered shady, leaving most to think the allegations and execution were the work of the President at the time, General Zia. The murder of Ali Bhutto was made light of in the movie Charlie Wilson's War, which I saw the other day.

Benazir Bhutto, was a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel, as well as Larry King on CNN. She was 54. I always marvelled at the courage of this woman; so strong in her convictions and outspoken against those she believed were bringing her country down.

We can only wonder what the backlash to all of this will be. Who was behind it? Islamists? The I.S.I.? Musharraf?

Things just got hotter in an unstable, nuclear nation.

R.I.P. Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Your Voice Still Resonates Within Me

I first would like to wish everyone and anyone that stops by this blog a Merry Christmas and a general Happy Holidays, if Christmas is not your thing. I've decided to go into the vault for something from one year ago today:

On Tuesday December 26, 2006, I wrote:

I had a very good Christmas and I hope you did as well. But there is a story that I am going to relay to you that enhanced my Christmas, from being just another Christmas to one that I will always remember.

The other day I was in the White Plains Library. I got there a couple of minutes before it opened at 10 o'clock and there are a bunch of people standing around in the lobby, waiting for the guard to let everyone in. So I notice a woman standing with three shopping bags literally overflowing with Christmas gifts. Next a little blond-haired girl and an Hispanic woman show up. The little girl says to the blond, "I haven't seen you for a really long time," and then adds, "What happened to you?"

I will never forget the adorable sound of the girl's voice saying those words.

The little girl asked this question with curiosity, concern, and a touch of anger. But anger more in a loving sense with great concern, as opposed to being filled with rage or hate.

I couldn't catch what the blond said in response, except the bits and pieces that I heard without looking like I was listening. They were "going to go upstairs to the children's room," "how nice it is up there," and "how nicely decorated it is." So as the three are getting onto the elevator the little girl says in a very matter of fact way, "I'm already seven."

I was heartbroken at this exchange. There is no question in my mind the blond was this little girl's mother. I am not sure who the Hispanic woman was. Perhaps child services? I'm not sure. I have my theories that I won't go into, but the bottom line is: Somehow, someway this little girl and her mother were separated. For how long, I don't know. As we all know, a long time to little kids can be a few weeks, a few days, or even just a few moments. I get the sense that it was a significant amount of time, though.

I had an urge to follow them onto the elevator and sort of hover and listen to what they had to say. This was a thought and in no way would ever be a reality. Still, I was very interested in how the mother and daughter would interact with one another.

I did what I had to do and left. But I was really struck by what I heard and saw. I still am. I drove away in my car with my radio off and was completely taken aback by the whole thing. I speculated about what I thought had happened? I though about how the time apart had effected the little girl and how it may impact her life going forward? I hope that the two can heal from whatever emotional scars may exist.

It appeared to me that this was a supervised visit for the mother and that is a shame on the one hand; having to exchange Christmas gifts with your child in a library! Really sad. However, it also means that this woman is digging herself out of whatever adverse situation she was in, and is now restarting a relationship with her precious daughter. That of course is the positive to this and what really matters.

Some folks I know who are constant contrarians, would say I am being presumptuous and I may be completely wrong about who everyone was and what the circumstances behind all of this actually are. Yeah, I know some people think it's cute to just disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I've been wrong before, but there is absolutely no way I got this one wrong. The little girl was a "mini me" of the older woman. I also could tell by how the two were interacting, but basically it was just a strong sense that I had.

I have not seen many things like this that have touched me to this extent. Believe me, I can't overstate how moved I am. But it gave me a great deal of gratitude for what I have presently and have had in the past.

I am writing this on my blog to pass on, because stories like this are really important. But also for selfish reasons, because I will have a record of it for myself and will be able to refer back to it in the future. I hope that I never forget the two women or the little girl. With her cute little face, she will not be easily forgotten. I kept all of them in my prayers over the weekend and hope to do so for a long time, perhaps you will as well.

Some days, and more specifically moments, stand out for good and bad reasons, however, most days in our lives are kind of all jumbled together. This is one moment that I doubt I will ever forget.

Following this post, I then received a comment from singer/songwriter Montgomery Delaney who is also a trial lawyer - and according to him a dam fine one:

Montgomery Delaney said...
Thanks for sharing this very touching story. In fact, the library is a place that is designated by the Family Court as a meeting place for supervised visitation. That is exactly what you witnessed. This child was removed for some reason either as a result of a Child Protective Services investigation or a nasty custody dispute. It makes you grateful when you see that the dysfunction in other lives is more intense than the dysfunction in your own. In some way, all of us have some dysfunction of our own. There is a song in this Sean...and as you suggested, it doesn't have to be a sad song either.
Merry Christmas
Montgomery

Here we are today, a year later, and the images and sounds of that encounter are still fresh in my mind. I actually wrote a poem about it, but will refrain from reposting it for fear of being overly self-indulgent. I have no idea how this girl or her mother are doing. I also have no idea why I was and am so profoundly touched by what I saw and heard, yet I still am and perhaps more so today than I was a year ago. Wherever the little girl and her mother are, I hope they both had a peaceful Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Inside The Squared Circle: W.W.E. In Iraq Tonight, Sunny At Ring of Honor Pay-Per-View, I Miss Owen Hart, Son of Former Tag Team Champ Killed


Tonight is being called the most important one of the year for the W.W.E. and that's because it is their fifth annual "Tribute to the Troops." This year, the matches come from Tikrit, Iraq, where they were taped at the beginning of the month. As in previous years, Jim Ross and Jerry"The King"Lawler will do live commentary from Titan Towers, the W.W.E.'s Stamford, Connecticut headquarters.

The matches for tonight are:
Chris Jericho vs. W.W.E. Champ Randy Orton
Jeff Hardy vs. Carlito
Shawn Michaels & Triple H vs. Umaga & Mr. Kennedy
Mickie James & Maria vs. Kelly Kelly & Layla
Rey Mysterio vs. Mark Henry
Ron Simmons vs. "Hardcore"Holly

The W.W.E. has done a fantastic job of keeping a lid on the outcome of these bouts. However, Randy Orton did defend the W.W.E. title against Chris Jericho at Armageddon which took place after the Iraq trip. So I expect Jericho to win in some sort of fashion where the belt can't change hands i.e. count-out or disqualification. John Cena (with his arm in a sling in the picture above) also went to Iraq. I'm curious to see if he makes an in-ring appearance.

The show airs tonight at 9 on the USA Network...Hey, it beats the hell out of the Yule log!

Tammy"Sunny"Sytch (pictured above entering the "squared circle") will reportedly be at the Ring of Honor (R.O.H.) pay-per-view taping this Saturday night at the Manhattan Center on W. 34th Street. The W.W.E. has posted a video on their website which includes a look back at Sunny's career and has her saying that all she wants now is to come back and entertain the W.W.E. fans again. Apparently, she is only going to be in the audience for the pay-per-view and has not signed with either W.W.E. or Ring of Honor. Many people thought a W.W.E. contract was imminent, but if that's the case why is she going to be at a R.O.H. event? Scouting? Doubtful. There is no question, though, that after her appearance at the Raw 15th Anniversary Show; Sunny's stock has soared.

I recently watched on W.W.E. 24/7 two matches featuring the late, great Owen Hart. One bout he beat Razor Ramon to win the "King of the Ring" and the other match Owen lost to his older brother Bret in a steel cage. The latter contest was very good, but their match at Wrestlemania X was classic. Owen was just so good and he had "it." Having "it" means that Owen could draw people to naturally like him or despise him, depending on which role he was playing. Being a younger brother myself, I also liked how they played that part up with Owen always being in Bret's shadow. But comparing Owen Hart to his big brother Bret, is not like comparing Brent and Wayne Gretzky. No, Owen had just about all the technical mat skills that Bret had, but throw in his high-flying ability, and you've got one of the best of the last 25 years. That's why he was great when he was alive and I'm one of many that miss the guy!

Which brings me to another sad story in wrestling. This time it involves the son of Bart Gunn a former W.W.F. World Tag Team Champion. Mike Polchlopek III, 19, died Wednesday after being shot accidentally when the 22 caliber rifle being cleaned by his 18-year-old friend, misfired.

Tragic and sad. My heart goes out to the families.

One more thought on Owen, isn't it time he gets inducted into the W.W.E. Hall of Fame?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pure and Easy


The year is almost through and so I decided to post two of my poems that received some recognition. It's always nice to receive accolades for something, too often, I think we all feel as though we get overlooked at times.

The first poem, "Pure and Easy," was awarded the Editor's Choice Award for outstanding poetry from the National Association of Poets & Writers. For the second poem, "I Can't Reach You," I was given a Certificate for Outstanding Creativity by the same organization. Both poems came from my Substitute chapbook. Incidentally, I sent two emails to The Who's Bill Curbishley. The second he responded to and said he liked my concept of Substitute and would forward the link to the poems to the band. This, of course, made me happy, but I don't get overly crazy about these things. An acknowledgement of receipt from either Pete Townshend or Roger Daltrey would be like hitting the jackpot. I'm really just glad someone is reading them. I've been quite lucky with people responding to my emails the last year or so. Anne Rice got back to me, which was really cool and then of course there is my buddy Phil...oh forget it.

To wrap things up, the above video is of Pete Townshend doing the song "Pure and Easy" which gave me the groundwork to come up with a poem. I have been unable to find a video for "I Can't Reach You."

Pure and Easy
Playfully rain falls down
Upon my windshield,
Running up the glass before
Evaporating into nothingness,
As I drive feverishly toward
Nowhere.
Drunk on her
Effervescence, with she
Awaiting, and me,
Searching,
Yearning.

I Can't Reach You
If we only learned a proper way to communicate,
Colluding our true feelings,
And working out our discrepancies,
Nothing would prohibit our love,
'twas once this was so easy,
That was many moons ago,
Remember?
Eventually we will part,
Anger piercing through our core,
Confiscating any and all blissfulness,
Holding our hearts hostage,
You and I divided,
Our once amorous souls,
Undressed and again single entities.

Shards

This poem, "Shards," I wrote after seeing a homeless man early one morning in New York City. I saw this man sitting down and leaning against a building on West 57th Street. He had all of his belongings spread out around him in a somewhat orderly way, but yet still not together in any sense. I felt really bad for him and wondered how his life's journey took him to the present moment. My thinking being that in order for him to put his life together - or to even make sense of it - would be like trying to reconnect giant shards of glass. I'll always remember that moment when I saw him and how much sympathy I felt for him, yet felt completely powerless...Without explaining any further, it's about a man who lost his love for life and doesn't know where, when, or if he will ever get it or something like it back.

Shards
When our love ended
my soul folded.
I shut down and refused to feel,
thus the only way I could endure.
My heart was completely broken;
irreparably damaged.
Like shards of glass
it would be next to impossible
to put together again.
Life lost meaning;
anxiety, depression, and
fear filled my life.
I missed you so.
A love like ours shows its face
but once or twice per life.
I await now for its reappearance,
wishing for a love as splendid.
My heart still nothing more but shards
in desperate need of repair;
pining for the next you.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Roger Daltrey and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra



Roger Daltrey made a surprise appearance on December 14 at the Nassau Coliseum and did a few songs with the Trans Siberian Orchestra. The footage is kind of raw, but still pretty good.

Roger Daltrey at Izod Center 12/15/2007



Roger Daltrey came back the next night after appearing at Nassau Coliseum, to perform with the Tran-Siberian Orchestra at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Say Thanks To Our Troops

I got an email this morning in regards to something that Xerox is doing. You can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and send it to a soldier in Iraq. This doesn't take very long and is a great way to thank those who can't be home with their friends and families in the United States over the holidays. Click here and tell a friend! Pictured above is one of the postcard options.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sillies

Circuit City = Silly.

Norton = Silly.

Two recently heard sillies: The worst thing the Yankees did was re-sign Rivera. Is that even worthy of a reply? Here’s another one: I got down on the ice at halftime of a Rangers game. Wow! You’re a big sports fan.

Meanwhile, I just can’t believe Chris Simon is still in the NHL. Stomping a player with your skate is not silly, just sick, plain and simple. The N.H.L. can be awfully silly about things, at times.

The New York Rangers lose to Phoenix, but clobber the Pittsburgh Penguins. Silly.

I’ve heard the Democrats want Mike Huckabee to get the Republican nomination because they think he would be easy prey. Be careful. I'll paraphrase something that Al Pacino said in the Devil’s Advocate - "I’m successful ‘cause they never see me comin'." A lot of people dump on that movie, but I liked it.

How's that hunt for Usama bin Laden going? Or should I say Usama been forgotten! A serious situation made silly, courtesy of bureaucracy!

Incidentally, I heard a film critic discussing Charlie Wilson’s War, say that the faction which the United States supported in Afghanistan during the ‘80s against the Soviets later became al-Qaeda. This topic is rather cloudy and I have not read anything that has definitively stated what exactly happened to our weapons. The U.S. was in fact, supporting the Northern Alliance led by Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud (who was killed by a couple of al-Qaeda guys disguised as reporters on September 9, 2001). Some of our arms were being funneled into Afghanistan through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (similar to the U.S.’s FBI).

It’s never been made clear to me that our arms did end up in the hands of the more radical fighters or those that were not part of the Northern Alliance. What has been proven, is that a mosque on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn was recruiting men to go fight in Afghanistan. This mosque would later be the meeting place of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. It’s a very tangled web and one that’s not silly, but has lacked a clear explanation. Silly though, that it has never been unraveled, what say you?

On the much lighter side, W.W.E. Women’s Champ Beth Phoenix (pictured above) was kept off of this past week’s Monday Night Raw. The reason? Well, the card was held in Buffalo, N.Y., which is Beth’s hometown. Yeah, and? OK take it easy, the W.W.E. didn’t want a “heel” to get cheered. I interpret that to mean that the W.W.E.’s writers aren’t doing a good enough job putting her over as a “villain” or a “bad guy," or girl in this case. Silly. Maybe, it’s not really silly and I just like the picture and wanted to post it. Something to ponder…

Which Devil Do You Give His or Her Due?



Some may think that Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani should be fighting over who is the real Devil. Others have said the race for the White House could be called, “The Devil and His Doppelganger” if the two are the candidates of their respective parties in 2008. Then, of course, comes the lovable Taz who can’t be left out of this mix. What say you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hey W.W.E! Be Fair To Ric Flair!

I’ve got to admit it is tough watching Ric Flair wrestle these days. I had hoped that Flair would be able to have one last great run to cap off his illustrious career, which has spanned 35 years and 16 World Championships for the “Nature Boy.”

Any list of the greatest ever by anyone would include Mr. Flair at or near the top. The man who coined the phrase, “to be the man, you gotta beat the man” has wrestled all over the world against everyone – and I do mean everyone. I look at the current roster of W.W.E. stars and can run down the list with checkmarks next to every superstar: Triple H (whom Flair will face on Raw in two weeks), Randy Orton, and “The Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga.

Then there are the past stars from every territory, every promotion, every continent: the late, great Bruiser Brody, Abdullah The Butcher, Japan’s Tenryu and the late Giant Baba, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Terry Gordy, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Barry Windham, Lex Lugar, Magnum T.A., Nikita Koloff, Ivan Koloff, Sting, The Garvins (Ronnie and Jimmy), Goldberg, Vader, Ron Simmons, all of the Von Erichs, and boy were Flair’s matches with Kerry outstanding, and of course who could ever forget wrestling’s version of Yankees-Red Sox, Dusty Rhodes vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Yes, Flair has faced them all and to sum it all up using the words of Joe Franklin, “the list is endless.” But, Flair has aged quickly in a short span of time.

Ric Flair, although in great shape for a 58-year-old (in February), just doesn’t have it. He looks sloppy in the ring, a step behind, and he is not carrying the match like the way he used to; his opponents are now doing the honor. Ric Flair was out of action from the spring until quite recently, so perhaps it’s going to take some time. But here’s what I don’t want to see happen: I don’t want to see Flair lose and be forced into retirement. I want to see him win the World Championship again and retire right after the bout. I don’t want to see Vince McMahon defeat Ric Flair at Wrestlemania in Orlando, Florida, which would end the “Nature Boy’s” career in front of 100,000 people. I’m getting the feeling that this is the way it will play out.

McMahon has not always been so kind to former N.W.A. /W.C.W. wrestlers. The N.W.A. ruled wrestling for years and years and quite frankly their governing body wasn’t so nice to Vince’s father, forcing the then-W.W.W.F. to pull out of the N.W.A. and crown their own World Champ, which so happened to be the original “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. But Vince’s dad still found ways to work with his rivals. In contrast, when junior took over, that was it. No mention of the competition, no acknowledgement, no title vs. title matches. Nothing. The lines in the sand were drawn.

Vince’s father was OK with N.W.A. World Champ Harley Race wrestling W.W.W.F. World Champ Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden in the late ‘70s. Even after disputes with the N.W.A. Yeah those matches always ended in a count-out or disqualification, but at least the fans got to see a sanctioned bout between two World Champs.

That’s why I think this Ric Flair thing is about much more than when exactly he retires – it’s about Flair going out on his own terms. It can’t be about McMahon burying Flair or making him look foolish. Again, I’m anticipating a Flair-McMahon match at Wrestlemania 24. The grandest stage of them all and a McMahon creation to boot. The picture above shows Flair having just beaten Harley Race for his second N.W.A. World Championship back in 1984. Hulk Hogan was at the time just starting his first reign as W.W.F. World Champ – which lasted over four years – but in some ways it was never really about Flair-Hogan; no I think things went further up the chain to Flair-McMahon. Vince McMahon was just taking the Stamford, Connecticut-based World Wrestling Federation national and I think Vince believed that Flair was his biggest threat to dominating the wrestling world. From Vince McMahon’s point of view it all adds up.

The storyline currently says that the next time Flair loses in the ring, he has to retire. So throw him in there and have Flair beat W.W.E. Champ Randy Orton in a non-title match, have him beat Umaga by count-out, he’ll surely beat Triple H on New Year’s Eve in one of the few taped Raws of the year. So who will come in and beat Flair when none of the top superstars of the W.W.E. could: Vince McMahon. It just stinks! This is yet another way for Mr. McMahon to try and bury and embarrass the old National Wrestling Alliance and its greatness. Vince, say it isn't so. It may be corny, but in this situation the old adage rings true, for once be fair to Flair.

Inside The Squared Circle: W.W.E. Scare In Iraq, No Way Out Pay-Per-View, RVD News, Sunny, Candice Michelle Return, Much More

A scary moment occurred for the W.W.E. when a helicopter carrying Ron Simmons, John Bradshaw Layfield, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Carlito, and Mickie James experienced some damage while it was landing. The superstars were stranded for up to five hours in a war zone in Tarmiyah, Iraq in the middle of fires, smoke bombs, dead animals, and razor wire. Fortunately they were with U.S. soldiers, unfortunately, it was in an unsecure area. The Tribute to the Troops airs this Monday night at 9 on the USA Network. Chris Jericho called the trip to Iraq the best experience he has ever had in his 17 years of being involved in pro wrestling. By the way, the matches airing this Monday night are from Tikrit, the late Saddam’s hometown.

Reportedly, the W.W.E. was very impressed with Rob Van Dam and Tammy”Sunny”Sytch at last week’s Raw Anniversary Show and would love to bring both back in some capacity. We’ll all just have to sit back and wait and see if it is full-time or as a special appearance type of thing. The W.W.E. needs Sunny’s personality, no question about that. They definitely need the highly-athletic wrestling style of RVD.

Former W.W.E. Women's Champion Candice Michelle (pictured above, nice belt!) is due back in the ring in January, as is Bobby Lashley.

Lex Lugar is still paralyzed, though he has regained some feeling and movement. I hope for the best for Lugar.

The W.W.E. we’ll be holding another draft to disperse its wrestlers among the three different brands some time after Wrestlemania.

The winner of the Royal Rumble will be able to pick which champion – W.W.E. or World – he would like to face at Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, the winner of an "Elimination Chamber" match at No Way Out in Ferbuary we’ll face the other champ. Names being thrown about right now for the "Chamber" match are Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, Shawn Michaels, and Jeff Hardy. But plans change all the time, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I only caught the last few minutes of E.C.W. last night, however, the CM Punk-M.V.P. match was highly entertaining. Punk won by a disqualification and then was attacked by Chavo Guerrero.

Apparently, the critics and the fans liked Raw Monday night. It seems that I was one of the few that didn't love it. These things are just so subjective.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vince McMahon's 19th Nervous Breakdown!

Coming off of a pay-per-view ratings are usually strong for Monday Night Raw, however, if the first thirty minutes meant anything, I’m willing to bet that many folks turned their sets off. I just didn’t get it.

The show opened with a “Santa’s little helper” match with four women against four others while dressed in scantily clad Christmas-themed lingerie. Immediately after the bout concluded, Vince McMahon came down to the ring and told the ladies to “scat.” Mr. McMahon then got on the mic and began talking about how disgusted he was by the way the fans and the wrestlers humiliated him at last week’s 15th Anniversary Raw. No problems for me, yet I was kind of hoping that Vince would say enough is enough, no more of getting beaten up by Steve Austin or Mick Foley, ‘cause I’ve got a body guard now and his name is “Psycho” Sid. Nope not to be.

Instead, Jeff Hardy came out and said that Vince doesn’t care about anyone so nobody cares about him. Hardy also made a mistake of saying next week the W.W.E. goes to Iraq while adding that Vince was heartless just like Saddam Hussein. Comparing Vince to Saddam is a stretch, I’m sure even Phil Mushnick would agree to that. Secondly, this isn’t the ‘80s, the fans are smart enough to know that the W.W.E. was already in Iraq and that next week’s show is taped. Anyway, after Hardy finished speaking Vince looked as though he had a nervous breakdown as the folks inside the HSBC Arena in Buffalo laughed at him.

Raw goes to commercial break and upon coming back, Triple H’s theme blares over the loudspeakers inside the arena. McMahon’s son-in-law comes down and tries to get Vince to come back to reality. Shortly, though, McMahon would order William Regal to go get Jonathan Coachman and together they would wrestle Triple H in a handicap match. At this point, I’m disappointed but still OK. The match takes place and as expected Hunter destroys these two. But why? Because Helmsley lost to Jeff Hardy Sunday night at Armageddon, this will rebuild Triple H as a dominant force. The anniversary show was great because of all the surprises, that’s what the fans want to see.

So what was the rest of the show like? Well, new World Tag Champions, Cody Rhodes and “Hardcore”Holly won a pretty intense match with former champs, Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade. I’m just waiting for Cade to dump Murdoch. Then Ric Flair beat Umaga by count-out. Flair gave a pretty long impassioned speech before the match, essentially thanking the fans. John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) took some time out from his gig at the Fox Business Channel to announce he’s coming back to Raw full-time and exchanged some pretty good barbs with Chris”Y2J”Jericho. That’s when I turned it off. But here is what happened in the final half hour or so: Santino Marella and Carlito beat former W.W.E. Tag Champs, Brian Kendrick and Paul London. It was announced that Ric Flair would face his buddy Triple H in two weeks on the New Year’s Eve show.

Finally, Jeff Hardy and Shawn Michaels defeated Randy Orton and Mr. Kennedy when Hardy pinned Orton. Tonight’s ECW show features E.C.W. World Champ C.M. Punk vs. U.S. Champ, M.V.P.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inside The Squared Circle: Armageddon Results, How My Predictions Went, Broadcasting Job Opening at W.W.E., Ashley Massaro/Survivor, Heenan Surgery

Another W.W.E. pay-per-view has come and gone and as usual the reviews are mixed. I quickly checked input from fans on a couple of websites this morning and it never ceases to amaze me that some love and some hate the exact same things. But such makes the world go round, I guess. We’ll look at what happened at Armageddon and what I predicted:

We now have a new World Heavyweight Champion and it’s Edge. The master opportunist struck again by pinning Batista after he was befallen by The Undertaker’s “tombstone” piledriver. The Major Brothers acted as impostors for Edge, so in essence there were three “Edges” involved in the bout. I’m curious to see where this one goes. It’s been rumored that Edge might be the one who would end Undertaker’s 15-0 record at Wrestlemania, so we’ll see.
What I thought would happen: I predicted Undertaker would take home the gold and that Edge would get knocked around pretty good by ‘Taker and Batista. Edge must have read my blog, because he evened the odds for himself by recruiting The Majors, Brett and Brian.

Chris Jericho defeated W.W.E. Champion Randy Orton after JBL jumped Jericho when it looked as though Orton would submit to the “Walls of Jericho,” which in my youth was simply called the “Boston Crab.” Therefore, Orton was disqualified and retains the title. John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) is reportedly now back full-time and will engage in a feud with Jericho.
What I thought would happen: I bullseyed this one! What I predicted is exactly what occurred. I have exorcised the demons!

Jeff Hardy escaped Triple H’s finisher, “The Pedigree,” to topple Hunter Hearst Helmsley for the duke. Hardy, the Intercontinental Champion, will now face Orton at the Royal Rumble for the W.W.E. Championship.
What I thought would happen: “Somehow, someway, I think Hardy wins.” Score another one for me, el fabuloso blogger!

From what I read the Shawn Michaels-Mr. Kennedy match was the best on the show, and what else could you expect from HBK. The man’s goal throughout his career has always been to put on the best performance of all the wrestlers, whether he was on the undercard or in the main event. That’s pride! Michaels delivered his “Sweet Chin Music” to deck Mr. Kennedy for the pinfall victory.
What I thought would happen: “Michaels wins but gets knocked around after the match by Mr. Kennedy, thus continuing the feud.” I also added “Michaels always elevates his competition, hence the well-deserved moniker “the showstopper.” I guess I was mostly right.

Rey Mysterio won via count-out over U.S. Champion M.V.P. The vox populi (voice of the people for those of you scoring at home) say it was a good contest but a disappointing finish. M.V.P. simply walked off after having enough.
What I thought would happen: “I look for there to be a new U.S. Champ at the conclusion of this one.” NOT!

Two of the biggest human beings on earth, Big Daddy V and Mark Henry beat CM Punk and Kane after Big Daddy delivered a Samoan Drop on Punk to score the pinfall. I read it was a fairly good match, however, it kind of made the E.C.W. World Champ look bad when he came off the top rope in attempt to hit a clothesline on Daddy and was caught mid-air. Daddy then delivered the finisher.
What I thought would happen: I thought Kane would turn on Punk, and all three would beat him senseless. No dice.

Finlay defeated The Great Khali after Hornswoggle delivered a low blow to Khali, which allowed Finlay to use his shillelagh to garner a pinfall win.
What I thought would happen: This one I also got right. Although, Khali is 7'3" and Hornswoggle is 4'4", so would that be considered a low blow or a high blow?

Beth Phoenix retained her W.W.E. Women’s Championship by beating Mickie James
What I thought would happen: “Phoenix wins convincingly.” Apparently, James did get in some moves before being decimated.

I did OK with my predictions, I was actually hoping to be way off. Controversy may create cash, but unpredictability makes for high ratings. I am quite surprised that there are now two heel champions in World Champ Edge and W.W.E. Champ Randy Orton. If anyone at the W.W.E. is reading this, how about putting those two former tag team partners in the ring against one another at Raw tonight? Isn't it time we once again had an undisputed champion?

THREE COUNTS
-The W.W.E. has an opening for a color commentator on Friday Night Smackdown since JBL is now returning to the ring. I know a blogger that would love to ride shotgun with Michael Cole!
- Ashley Massaro (shown above) was on The Survivor: China reunion show last night. She is scheduled to be back in a W.W.E. ring any day now.
-Bobby” The Brain”Heenan underwent jaw surgery Friday in which bone from his hip and thigh were to be used to rebuild his jaw that was damaged due to radiation for throat cancer. Word is that Heenan would have to be put in a coma for several days following the surgery. Only good thoughts go out for “The Brain.”

Keep it in the Ring!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wild Football Finish



This video tells the story! What an unbelievable ending between Millsaps and Trinity.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

W.W.E. Armageddon Predictions


Armageddon predictions:
W.W.E. Champ Randy Orton defends strap vs. Chris Jericho
The Jericho return was hyped and hyped some more, thus many people naturally were expecting too much and are now disappointed with it. I think putting Y2J in a main event may have come too soon. If Jericho loses I don’t know where he goes next, because of the Triple H-Jeff Hardy stipulation – Jericho would not get a rematch at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in January. For some reason, I think this match will end in a screwjob, possibly due to outside interference by JBL.
Bottom Line: Orton retains, but not cleanly.

Triple Threat Match featuring World Champ Batista, Edge, and The Undertaker
The Undertaker was slated to have a long championship reign before his injury back in the spring. Should be a real good match and I expect Edge to get knocked around pretty good by ‘Taker and Batista.
Bottom Line: The “dead man” will rise to take the belt once more.

Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H
Hardy’s Intercontinental Championship is not on the line, but what is at stake is a chance to face the W.W.E. Champ at the Royal Rumble in January. Hardy continues to get more and more popular, but is he main event material? At the Royal Rumble, yes. Because, the Royal Rumble match itself is really the main event, so having a Hardy-Orton match – or Hardy-Jericho confrontation, does not put too much pressure on that particular bout to be the seller.
Bottom Line: Somehow, someway, I think Hardy wins.

ECW Champ CM Punk & Kane vs. Big Daddy V & Mark Henry
I would love to see Kane turn on CM Punk, only because Kane has been floundering for a number of years now. Making Kane a heel would rejuvenate his career and would also make for some real good matches between CM Punk and "The Big Red Machine"Kane.
Bottom Line: At some point in the match, Kane, Big Daddy and Mark Henry will demolish Punk.

Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Kennedy
Kennedy is trying to regain the momentum he had before the Signature Pharmacy suspension. Michaels always elevates his competition, hence the well-deserved moniker “the showstopper.” Bottom Line: Michaels wins but gets knocked around after the match by Mr. Kennedy, thus continuing the feud.
Finlay vs. The Great Khali
I’d much rather see one of the two tag team champions on the show than this match. Khali is just awful. Thankfully, his reign as World Champ was a short one because it has got to be the worst in the history of pro wrestling.
Bottom Line: Horsnwoggle (pictured above helping an injured Finlay) will somehow distract Khali allowing Finlay to get the win via pinfall.

Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix
This one will go no more than five minutes and the only way I see Phoenix dropping the Women’s Championship is if she then regains it Monday Night on Raw.
Bottom Line: Phoenix wins convincingly.

U.S. Champ MVP vs. Rey Mysterio
I watched a match recently on WWE 24/7 between Mysterio and the late Eddie Guerrero that was a five-star bout in my opinion. That match took place at least eight years ago and although Mysterio is still exciting, his added weight slightly limits his high-flying ability compared to the old days. M.V.P. has the potential to transcend the industry because his talent is that good! If I get the pay-per-view, this is the match I would look the most forward to seeing. Mysterio draws huge numbers on Friday Night Smackdown from the Hispanic population; putting a title around his waist would only elevate him further.
Bottom Line: I look for there to be a new U.S. Champ at the conclusion of this one.

I'll post the results to the card on Monday at some point and we can compare how the show went with my predictions.

Armageddon airs on pay-per-view tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Should The Last 20 Years Of Baseball Be Whitewashed?

The New York Post's Mike Vaccaro says the Yankees' reign in the late 1990s is tainted because of the widespread steroid use among some of the club's prominent players during that era. However, he also adds that the usage of performance enhancing drugs was universal in M.L.B. So should we just blot out the whole 20-year era (1987-2007)? That's assuming that the era has stopped! Did it begin before '87? Who knows.

Can anyone reasonably elect any of these ballplayers to the Hall of Fame with a clear conscience? I heard Mike and The Mad Dog - the two are "borderline" and their blather unsustainable for me these days - say that the report told us nothing and that the only surprise was Andy Pettitte. How about Mike Stanton? Chuck Knoblauch? Seventeen Mets!

By the way, does anyone really think that Chris"Mad Dog"Russo can get more lost by criticizing the political career of George Mitchell? Hey, Mitchell is a Democrat, but I still respect his career. Maybe those guys can also ease up on Mitchell a bit, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in August. Didn't they learn anything from the Cory Lidle tragedy? Apparently not. And people wonder why I prefer anything on my radio, but Mike and the Mad Dog.

Bottom line is that this is just another sad story in pro sports and in our society.

Anyhoo, click here to read the Vaccaro story.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Random Thoughts

Several months ago Vince McMahon sent out a letter to all former W.W.E. (W.W.F, W.W.W.F.) stars and offered to pay for rehab to anyone that needed it. No questions asked. Jake”The Snake”Roberts has reportedly taken Vince up on the offer. He will be going to a rehab for nine weeks. It’s no secret that Roberts has had to deal with drug and alcohol issues in the past. I wish him the best.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but on the heels of two car bombs exploding in Algiers Sunday, I hope the world is taking notice. It’s been way too quiet the last few months; really since the hectic few days in late June of this year with what took place in Glasgow and what fortunately didn't occur in London.

Is a Giuliani-Huckabee tandem (in either order) electable?

Is it inevitable that a Democrat takes control of things at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue beginning in January 2009?

Is N.Y.P.D. Commish Ray Kelly the next mayor of NYC?

Who’s going to be the first owner that gives Michael Vick a contract after he is released in a year for good behavior?

There will be a lot of hypocrisy in relation to the steroid (HGH, performance enhancing stuff) list that is being announced right now. Barry Bonds has been maligned, but many already considered Mr. Bonds to be a jerk. I'm wondering if some of the more popular guys on George Mitchell's list will face the same sort of scrutiny as Bonds?

Reviews for Led Zeppelin have been favorable, mostly. I never said Page/Plant were bad when I saw them, just disappointing. I really like them, though, and do hope they play at M.S.G. in 2008!

Wasn’t it nice of Terrell Owens to say that Dallas would never be in the position they are currently in, if Bill Parcells was still the coach?

I have had three very good movie experiences recently. I saw American Gangster which I really enjoyed. Russell Crowe, whatever he is off-screen, is very, very talented. If you have never seen The Insider, rent it. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

What can you say about Denzel Washington. Mr. Cool always delivers the goods. As a result of seeing American Gangster I was handed a flyer to go to a screening for Frost/Nixon. I’ve never been to a screening before and it was a really cool experience. They give you a questionnaire at the end and I shook hands with Ron Howard, the film’s director on the way out. I then went to see Bella this past weekend, which a friend of mine, Doug DeBeech has a supporting role in. I never would have seen this film, if he were not in it, but I’m glad I did.

The film tackles a number of issues such as abortion, childhood abandonment, adoption, single-parenting, and dealing with past trauma, yet it doesn’t go over the edge on any of those issues.

I’m cautiously looking forward to Charlie Wilson’s War only because I read the book, but I think it might be a very hard story to put on screen. Still, I’ll definitely see it. The movie, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, comes out Christmas night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Inside The Squared Circle: Raw Rating, Sid's Return, Longing For The Old E.C.W., Reaction To Hogan

Initial reports are true that backstage at Raw the other night. was indeed “Psycho” Sid, along with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, and Henry Godwinn.

Raw scored a huge rating - an average 4.4 for the three hours. Depending on how the Monday Night Football game (34-14 New Orleans over Atlanta) did, Monday Night Raw will probably finish first in the cable television ratings. The surprise element is really what I think brings people in. There were so many rumors of who would show up, that it raised the intrigue level.

As far as “Psycho” Sid being backstage, I’m hoping he makes a return. Sid has stated many times that he wants one more great run. Speculation is that Randy Orton will drop the W.W.E. Championship to Triple H at some point, so would that set up a Triple H-Sid match? The big question is what will happen this Sunday at Armageddon when Triple H faces Jeff Hardy in a bout where the winner will wrestle for the W.W.E. Championship at the Royal Rumble in January. Then the question begs, who wins the Randy Orton-Chris Jericho match for the W.W.E. strap at the pay-per-view? Rumors are that Jericho will enter into a feud with JBL (who many of you may know from his work on the Fox Business Network). John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) is reportedly looking to make a comeback himself, after stepping down due to recurring back problems.

Word is that everyone who was at Raw had a great time and that the atmosphere was quite festive. The folks in charge noted the pop that Rob Van Dam got and want him back! Van Dam is one of my favorites, as I remember him from the old E.C.W. I really loved E.C.W. and there was a stretch of time where they were the only wrestling organization that mattered in my eyes. It's interesting to note, that Van Dam held both the E.C.W. and W.W.E. Championships simultaneously. I was always surprised when Van Dam would wear both straps around his waist, the E.C.W. championship was always on top, thus shielding the W.W.E. title.

You know for a promotion that ended up going bankrupt in 2001, there were a hell of a lot of guys that went on to become stars after getting their feet wet with the old “Extreme.” Think about it: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Mick Foley, The Dudleys, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Taz (to a certain degree), and the aforementioned R.V.D. I wonder if there will ever be anything like it again. I’ve tried watching T.N.A. and just don’t get it. But many people love Total Nonstop Action (T.N.A.) and yes they do have some real talented athletes like former gold medalist, Kurt Angle. I particularly like Jay Lethal, who does a “black machismo” gimmick, imitating Randy”Macho Man” Savage. Of course, the Dudleys and the Steiners are two of the greatest tag teams ever. So, yes, T.N.A. has got some talent, they just need a little more pop or creativity before I would consider them to be a viable alternative to W.W.E. I’ve heard Ring of Honor (R.O.H.) is real good, but I don’t see them anywhere on cable. Point is, which I am trying not to belabor, is that competition is good for everyone involved, and at this point Vince doesn’t have any that is legitimate.

THREE COUNTS
- Tajiri recently turned down a contract from the W.W.E. to return.
- Hulk Hogan’s praise of the W.W.E. on-camera the other night got some chuckles from the guys backstage. Hogan has been very outspoken against the W.W.E. until quite recently, he’s even threatened to start his own promotion to rival Vince McMahon’s. The Hulkster was reportedly upset at his paycheck after the 2006 Summerslam match in which he deposed of Randy Orton and was also miffed at the character of Jillian Hall. Hogan thinks that Jillian’s bad singing – feigned or not – is a direct shot at the talents of his daughter, Brooke.
- In a recent interview, Batista, stated that he felt “sick to his stomach” to see the World Championship put on The Great Khali, who is tall in stature but short on talent.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

W.W.E. Recap:15 Years of Raw


Last night’s 15th Anniversary Raw Show was certainly spectacular! I can’t even imagine the amount of directing, producing, coordinating, etc. that goes into an event like that. So many stars showed up at Raw for one night only, while I think for others it was a tryout. The biggest ovations of the evening came for Hulk Hogan (pictured above with Hornswoggle), Rob Van Dam (RVD), Sunny, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels. The guys who drew heat - which in wrestling is a good thing – were Randy Orton and Eric Bischoff. A bad thing is when the fans are kind of just looking around like when Marty Jannetty came out. Not much reaction for him either way. Thankfully, that was the only part of the program that was not overly exciting. Jannetty’s match with Mr. Kennedy was kind of a bore-snore.

The biggest surprises for me were that “Psycho” Sid did not show up; nothing, not even a videotaped message from The Rock; and no kind of “in memory of” moment for the guys who have died, although Owen Hart was featured at least once in a clip of past Raw episodes. I look at the lack of a tribute as basically letting sleeping dogs lie (the topic and the media vultures). A tribute to one would mean a tribute done for the many, and there have been many. Just an uncomfortable topic for the W.W.E. right now and unfortunately, it would only open themselves up to harsh criticism from some. While others may even say the W.W.E. was trying to bank off of those tragedies. Don't believe me, go check out some of the old columns from that guy who writes for the New York Post. The Rock? I have no idea about. Supposedly, Sid was seen entering the Arena at Harbor Yard. The guy is 6’11” so I don’t know how anyone could mistake him for someone else.

Bret Hart is a whole other story. Until the last few days, the plan was for Hart to appear and the entire show would pretty much revolve around him. Things though got pretty sticky with Hart and the W.W.E. and now Bret Hart is once again upset with the promotion. “The Hitman” has a new book that is selling like crazy in Canada, and is slated to hit bookstores in the United States in January. The W.W.E. was negotiating with Bret for exclusive marketing rights, which Bret agreed to, under the condition that not one change be made to the book. Well, W.W.E. reportedly agreed to this before later saying that 400 of the 500 and some odd pages needed to be changed. Ouch! So Bret Hart and the W.W.E. are once again at opposite ends of the spectrum. What a shock!

What was my favorite moment of the night? The first was when Hulk Hogan’s music blared over the loudspeakers inside the Arena at Harbor Yard when little Hornswoggle was about to get crushed by The Great Khali. Hogan and Khali brawled for a minute or two before, the big 7-footer got knocked out of the ring. Hogan grabbed the mic and thanked the fans, plugged American Gladiators, and said “you never can say never, oh yeah!” The “oh yeah” part was a clear imitation of Randy”Macho Man”Savage, so read into that what you wish. Hogan-Savage at ‘Mania?

The vignette they showed from several years back with Vince McMahon laying in a hospital bed with a cast on his leg and being harassed by Mankind (Mick Foley) was pretty funny. It got even funnier to see Mankind produce “Mr. Socko,” which, for those of you that don’t know, is just an ugly old sock on Mankind’s hand with a smiley face scribbled on it. After Mr. Socko gets introduced to Mr. McMahon’s mouth, “Dr.” Steve Austin appears and starts beating the hell out of Vince McMahon, culminating in a classic blow to McMahon’s head with a bedpan. At the end of Raw, Vince McMahon predictably named himself as the “greatest superstar in the history” of the show. However, he would subsequently be “tombstoned” by The Undertaker, get acquainted with Mr. Socko once again, and then try to share a beer with Steve Austin, only to receive a “stone cold stunner.” Austin then said that the greatest superstars in the history of Raw were the folks in the arena and the ones watching at home. He then invited all the wrestlers, announcers, etc. to come out to the ring and have a beer, which they all at least did come down to the ring. Minus Hulk Hogan.

THREE COUNTS
- Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag Team Titles, with Cody’s legendary father Dusty at ringside.
- Jeff Hardy beat Carlito in a "ladder match" to retain the W.W.E. Intercontinental title.
- Ted DiBiase gave I.R.S. a roll of cash to jump over the top rope in the “past stars” 15 man battle royal, which featured Gillberg (since Goldberg and the W.W.E. aren’t on the best of terms). Anyway, I.R.S. took the dough, therefore DiBiase was declared the winner.
- There was also a pretty solid match that pitted Edge, Randy Orton, and Umaga against Ric Flair, Triple H, and Batista. Edge, Orton, and Umaga got disqualified.
- I was also surprised not to see John Cena or Bobby Lashley; both are out with injuries. By the way, John Cena was in Iraq last week with his arm in a sling entertaining the troops with the rest of the W.W.E. Simply, that’s why I like the guy.

If it’s me, I sign RVD, Sunny, and Steve Blackman to deals without a second thought. Van Dam has been taking some time off, from what I’ve read, after not reupping with the W.W.E. earlier this year.

OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD
Here are some of the other notables that appeared last night: Lita, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Ivory, Bob Backlund, Al Snow, Bastion Booger, The Godfather, Doink the Clown, Repo Man, The Goon, Sgt. Slaughter, Pat Patterson, Howard Finkle, and a bunch of others. What? No Gobbeldygooker? Yes, shameful indeed.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Revisited: A Nitro Gaffe Helps Raw

No matter if it is news, sports, politics, or anyplace else, commentators make mistakes. It happens all the time; sadly they can be intentional and other times not so. But then you have something that wasn’t a mistake, per se, it just backfired miserably.

The W.W.F. (which later became the W.W.E.) had Monday Night Raw; Ted Turner-owned W.C.W. (World Championship Wrestling) started Monday Nitro in response, the two eventually would battle one on one at the exact same time: 9-11 p.m. every Monday night in what created a golden age in wrestling that was known as “The Monday Night Wars.”

Nitro was live; Raw was live half the time back in those days. Raw being taped led to some very awkward moments, such as the late “Ravishing” Rick Rude appearing on both shows, because he did a taping for Raw on a Tuesday and then signed a deal with W.C.W. which enabled him to show up the following Monday night. Lex Lugar had been working with the W.W.F. without a contract but would appear on Nitro after getting a low-ball deal from World Championship Wrestling’s Eric Bischoff. “He doesn’t even wrestle here,” feigned some stunned announcers. Yeah right!

Today, there are less than a handful of Raw episodes per year that are taped. Shrewdly, Nitro took advantage of the times Raw was taped by starting the show a few minutes before the top of the hour at which time they would actually give out the results of Raw. On this night, broadcaster Tony Schiavone announced on Nitro that The Rock would be defending the W.W.F. World Title against Mankind (also known as Mick Foley) and that Mankind would become the new champ. Oh yeah, for kickers he added this classically, sarcastic line, “That'll put a lot of butts in the seats."

According to Nielsen’s Ratings, nearly 600,000 people changed channels from Raw to Nitro at that precise moment. Hey, and Nitro had a pretty good scheduled main event themselves that night, Hulk Hogan vs. Kevin Nash. Quite naturally, of course, signs at W.W.F. events sprung up in the weeks and months afterward saying, “Mick Foley put my ass in this seat.”

From 1996 until 1998, some 84 consecutive weeks, Nitro had beaten Raw in the ratings. The Foley championship victory came at the beginning of 1999 and sadly W.C.W. would be bought by Vince McMahon in 2001. Ironically enough, E.C.W. (the original E.C.W.) would be purchased by Mr. McMahon that same year, thus McMahon pulled a Michael Corleone and took out all of his enemies. With E.C.W., not so much, but the rivalry with W.C.W. and Ted Turner extended back to the early ‘80s when Turner forced McMahon to sell his stake in Georgia Championship Wrestling back to the governing body, the N.W.A. Big deal? Yes, except McMahon had to give up the 6:05-8:05 time slot, on Saturday nights on T.B.S. as part of the agreement.

Foley, for all intents and purposes is today retired, and went on to become a New York Times’ bestselling author. He wrote about how he was very hurt that Tony Schiavone had belittled his title victory, although they would amicably settle their differences at one point. Many believe that what Schiavone foolishly said played a strong roll in the demise of W.C.W., although it was not entirely his fault because the commentators were ordered to take Raw apart at any opportunity.

Schiavone, who is a pretty good announcer, now hosts a sports radio show down south, as his contract was not picked up by the W.W.F. when they purchased W.C.W. I wonder if there’s any chance that Tony Schiavone would be invited tonight to the Raw 15th Anniversary Show. In an unintended way he had a great influence on Raw and its success.

Oh yeah, so how did that Hogan-Nash matchup go? Well, that became infamous too, on what was a completely disastrous edition of Monday Nitro. Nash, who had recently won the W.C.W World Championship from Goldberg, blatantly laid down for Hogan after a finger poke. The two announced after the bout that they were reforming the N.W.O. (New World Order) and subsequently the match became known as the “Finger Poke of Doom.” The angle hurt W.C.W and the World Title which had lineage back to the storied N.W.A. World Championship.

Mick Foley will be among the luminaries in Bridgeport, Connecticut, tonight for the big show. As will, Trish Stratus (pictured above), a former seven-time ladies champ.

THREE COUNTS
Triple H has been rumored to be making fun of Chris Jericho behind his back, by mocking the whole “save us” angle.

T.N.A. went head to head with E.C.W on Thursday night, and won soundly. T.N.A.’s Impact show drew a 1.1, while E.C.W (which normally does a 1.1 in its usual Tuesday night slot) did only a 0.6 rating. I’ve read conflicting reports as to why exactly E.C.W.’s broadcast was moved to Thursday last week, but thankfully for all involved it returns to its usual Tuesday night spot tomorrow night.

Rey Mysterio will challenge M.V.P. on Sunday night at Armageddon for the United States Heavyweight Championship. That one has got four or five star potential!

As if you could forget, tonight at 8 p.m (Eastern Standard) begins the Raw 15th Anniversary Show on the USA Network.

That'll put a lot of butts in the seats!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Who News

Pete Townshend is out of tomorrow night's big Led Zeppelin concert. He wrote the following on his blog:

"I pulled out of the Ahmet Ertegun benefit the day I heard Led Zep were performing," writes Townshend. "They really don't need me, and I will probably perform at some future event for the Ertegun Foundation... If you are going to the show, have a great time. I am delighted Robert, Jimmy, John and Jason are back in black. I wish them well. I will be warming up mince pies."

Meanwhile, Roger Daltrey has reportedly asked the Sex Pistols to perform on their upcoming 2008 shows from the Royal Albert Hall in London. The proceeds from the shows go to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Part of the song, "Who Are You," is about a drunken meeting that Pete Townshend had in a bar with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Intolerance of Mike Francesa and Some Other Things

A couple of things to post about here and I will start with that after tonight I will only have one job (my day job) to concentrate on for the next two weeks, which will provide me with a nice bit of respite. The last three months have flown by, except for the last week or so. I am dragging.

Anyway, I received two awards for my poems, "I Can’t Reach You" and "Pure and Easy," which, of course, makes me very happy! I sent that collection of poems, Substitute, to The Who’s manager Bill Curbishley back in September. I plan on sending Mr. Curbishley another email. It’s really just a tribute to their music and not really anything else. But built on some ideas that I had that came from their songs. So thanks Pete!

The Rangers followed up a resounding victory over the Ottawa Senators with two clunkers. Ah, the ebb and flow of the long NHL season.

I was flipping through the channels recently and came across the NHL Network. Pretty cool and they show a lot of classic stuff, which is nice to see.

I never got people making fun of hockey’s lack of ratings. Why? What’s the point? Been there done that...

Speaking of ratings, the Baltimore Ravens-New England Patriots’ game was the highest rated in cable t.v. history. Meanwhile, according to Billboard, number one again for the category of recreational sports DVDs this week is John Cena: My Life. By the way, I would be genuinely bummed if I found out that John Cena ever used steroids, which the former W.W.E. Champion has repeatedly denied ever using any performance enhancing drug. Irv Muchnick – not related to Phil but still a schmuck nonetheless – insists that Cena should take an independent drug test. Uh, Irv, who died and made you king?

As far as Mike Francesa goes, I was going to write a long rant and rave about him and some others of his ilk and then a saying went through my head. Here’s how it goes:

Does it have to be said?
Does it have to be said now?
Does it have to be said by me?

Huge W.W.E. Raw News Regarding Sunny

What a wild week it has been in the world of professional wrestling. First, the big announcements came on Monday night that Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley, Trish Stratus, and Steve Austin would be appearing on this Monday night’s Raw. Then we heard Stratus was out, now she’s back in again. Now we hear a few more big things have been added to the show.

A battle royal, presumably with past and present stars from Monday Night Raw; the reunion of Evolution which consists of Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista, and Randy Orton; plus we get a ladder match between Carlito (is he or isn’t he leaving the W.W.E?) and Jeff Hardy. OK first off, if Carlito is indeed leaving and possibly going to T.N.A., expect him to get mauled in this match. For Hardy, well, the Intercontinental Champion’s stock continues to rise and I’m not sure if I would put him in a ladder match this close to Sunday’s huge showdown with Triple H at the Armageddon pay-per-view. So what else?

Well, now comes word that Tammy”Sunny”Sytch will be at Raw? I can hear the flashbulbs popping when the former “buns of the year” award winner struts out to the ring. It’s funny, because only within the last few days did I read some highlights of what Sunny had to say on a recent radio interview. Sunny said that after a few years out of the business and overcoming some personal demons, she is fit and ready to come back full-time. Sytch (pictured above) was at one time the most downloaded woman on AOL!

One other thing before I forget, there will be a family portrait of the McMahons which will include, of course, Hornswoggle. This all comes live to you from the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, CT., which is the perfect arena for a Raw to take place. Eight o’clock eastern time is when we will hear Jim Ross enthusiastically open the broadcast with, “We are live from the sold out Arena at Harbor Yard…”

Is it Monday night yet?

Seriously.

Hogan vs. Austin at Wrestlemania 24?

Many people might think that wrestling is all about “guys making their huge return,” but in reality the past year in pro wrestling has been most unusual, and the number of returning stars is quite unique, as well.

But speculation is running wild these days about Hulk Hogan and what his plans are. Vince McMahon reportedly approached Hogan to appear this Monday night for the 15th anniversary show. Hogan had a squabble with McMahon in the summer of 2006 following Summerslam. Hogan defeated Randy Orton at that pay-per-view.

The original plans were for Hogan to be Donald Trump’s representative at last year’s Wrestlemania against Vince McMahon’s rep, Umaga, in the battle of the billionaires. Instead it was Bobby Lashley as Trump's rep following the Hogan-McMahon flareup. The Hulkster was none too thrilled either when the W.W.E. started having blond bombshell Jillian Hall come out and do some intentionally horrible singing before matches, apparently as a knock on Hogan’s daughter, Brooke.

Why is this all important? Well, Hogan has lobbied the last two years for a match against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, to which Austin has refused.

Why? Well, Austin recently stated that it would have to be “the biggest payday in his career” for him to fight Hogan. He also said in that same interview that he could wrestle another two hard years if he wanted to, but he doesn’t want to be in a wheelchair when he is in his 50s. So let’s tie this whole thing up and put a nice lookin’ bow on it.

How about Hogan-Austin at Wrestlemania 24 in Orlando, Florida, with 100,000 people in attendance? Big payday for Mr. Austin? Roger that. Are we looking for two years from Austin? Nope, just one match.

I’ve read that Vince McMahon will ask Austin and Hogan to do it; Hogan’s wife is looking for half of his assets so we know at least a part of the motivation behind him wanting to get in the ring.

Will Austin participate in a matchup of wrestling icons? I’ve got no idea either way, so I guess time will indeed have to tell.

W.W.E. Stars OK After Near Plane Crash

Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting that the Smackdown and E.C.W. wrestlers had a huge scare when the plane they were on almost collided with another plane. The incident occurred last night when the plane the wrestlers were on was leaving Frankfurt and on its way to Zurich. Apparently, the plane was about to land when another one appeared out of nowhere, thankfully, the pilot quickly got the plane back in the air just before the two planes collided. The plane circled around for a bit before landing. No one was hurt, but I'm sure we can all imagine that everyone on both planes must have been pretty shaken up.

As I and some others have reported, the Raw roster along with some wrestlers from the other two brands are currently in Iraq right now. But all three brands are scheduled to be back this weekend and ready for the big Monday Night Raw from Bridgeport, Connecticut, this Monday.

Tidbits on Led Zeppelin, Eddie Vedder, U2, The Who



Led Zeppelin’s reunion will take place Monday night at The o2 in London. Of course, many folks know that it will be Jason Bonham on drums along with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin. I’m sure most of us also know that the death of Jason’s dad, John, was the reason for the breakup of Led Zep in 1980.

It’s a big shindig that will take place. The band will reunite in aid of the Ahmet Ertegun education fund. Ertegun, a Turkish-American, was a co-founder and executive of Atlantic Records and chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. He also co-founded the New York Cosmos soccer team. Ertegun died last April.

Bonham will be a busy man that night because not only will he drum for Zeppelin, but also for his regular band, Foreigner. Others on the bill will be Pete Townshend, Paul Rodgers, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, Paolo Nutini, and Foreigner as supporting acts. Page has suggested the band may start work on new material and has also recently stated that a world tour may be in the works for 2008 in America. Although usually these reports get refuted almost as quickly as they are put out.

I saw Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at the Meadowlands back in 1998 and quite frankly I was disappointed. They were also supposed to tour with The Who back in 2000, but Page injured his leg. When I heard the news that the two legendary bands would be touring together and making a stop at Madison Square Garden no less, I was one of the first on line to get tickets at Tower Records in Yonkers. If there ever was a reunion of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham in the U.S., I can assure you that I would absolutely do my darnedest to get tickets.

Incidentally, it’s always been rumored that Jimmy Page played with The Who on "I Can’t Explain." Don’t know where that came from, but it’s not true. He did play lead guitar on the single’s B-Side, “Bald Headed Woman.” I decided to throw up the video of “I Can’t Explain,” being performed at Woodstock. The song is a staple for The Who at their concerts and one of my favorites...but aren't they all!

Here’s an interesting article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times about Eddie Vedder in which he talks about the influence the album, Who’s Next had over his latest work on the soundtrack, Into The Wild. If you are so inclined, click here.

I also have a link to an interesting interview with U2 in 1987, where they talk about the Joshua Tree, The Beatles, and being influenced by The Who. For more click me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The W.W.E. Goes To Iraq

In what should be a pretty big story - hey I don't see Phil Schmucknick going to Baghdad to read some of his "gnarly" columns - World Wrestling Entertainment is heading for Iraq for a few days for some wrestling, autograph signing, and some schmoozing.

The W.W.E. superstars took off in a cargo plane from the Charleston Air Force Base for the annual "Tribute to the Troops" program. For the last few years they have done this, by either going to Iraq or Afghanistan. The show will air on the USA Network, December 24, at 9 p.m.

Due to security concerns, the trip was hush hush until just a little while ago when the news was put up on the W.W.E. website. Mickie James (pictured above) is one of the many heading to Iraq. From what I have read, Vince McMahon leaves it up to the performers as to whether or not they want to go or not. The great thing is that year after year all of the big stars go. I remember last year when they were in Camp Victory in Baghdad, you could clearly hear bombs exploding and see clouds of smoke in the not too far off distance!

The trip also explains why E.C.W. was moved to Thursday night, instead of airing in its usual Tuesday time slot. E.C.W., which airs from 10-11 p.m., will go head-to-head with T.N.A.'s second hour. Should be interesting to see how the ratings shape up.

I give these folks a lot of credit for going into a warzone and performing for the troops, but the real credit of course goes to our men and women in uniforms who so willingly fight for our freedoms.

Keep it in the Ring!

Raw is Austin, Raw is The Rock, Raw is...Max Moon?


Monday Night Raw will celebrate its 15th anniversary this Monday night with a three-hour live special at 8 o'clock. It got me thinking back to when Raw first came on the USA Network, essentially replacing Prime Time Wrestling which was hosted by the late Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby"The Brain"Heenan. Prime Time was two hours of taped matches from various arenas that the then W.W.F. would visit. Raw was something new and even better, because most Mondays it was live. Today it is always live.

The first commentating crew was Vince McMahon, Randy"Macho Man"Savage, and Rob Bartlett, known for his comedy on the Don Imus radio show.

The initial Raw shows emanated from the grand ballroom of the Manhattan Center and I recall some really odd gimmicky wrestlers making their debut in addition to the regular roster back in the salad days of Raw.

There was Damien Demento, Doink the Clown, Friar Ferguson, Bastion Booger, Duke"The Dumpster"Drocey, Repo Man, and others. But the weirdest gimmick was Max Moon who was actually based on a Japanese cartoon character. He was billed as being from "outer space" and is pictured above this post. That was by far the worst gimmick I had seen, although come to think of it, I don't know if he was as bad as the Gobbeldy Gooker! More on him at a much later time...much later!

From the "tell me something I didn't know" department, I read recently that John Nord and Bruiser Brody were set to come to the W.W.F. in 1988 to feud with Demolition. This would never occur, though, as Brody would be murdered in a still unsolved case. Nord would eventually make his way to the promotion but as The Viking and The Berserker. He just never fulfilled his potential. Too bad.

More on Raw in the coming posts...

W.W.E.: ***HUGE SPOILER***

If you did not see last night's Monday Night Raw you may want to skip this if you want next week's show to be a surprise. Anyway, it was announced that Hulk Hogan will appear next Monday night as part of the 15th anniversary show. I'll get into more about the fifteen years of Raw in a later post. However, this appears to be more than just a one time appearance for Hulk Hogan, it looks as though, that Hulk is coming back for a run.

Many of you know that Hulk's family is going through some serious problems. The car accident that his son Nick was in and the divorce from his wife Linda. Apparently, Linda is seeking half of Terry"Hulk Hogan"Bollea's assets. Ouch!

Here's the deal: NBC owns the USA Network which broadcasts Monday Night Raw. Hogan is hosting American Gladiators which is supposed to air beginning in January on NBC. So it appears like this could all equal a long-term Hogan return.

Hulk Hogan has not been seen in a W.W.E. ring since Summerslam 2006 when he defeated Randy Orton, who had been making the moves on Hulk's daughter, Brooke. Apparently, Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan had some disagreements which led to the Hulkster once again parting ways with the W.W.E. A scheduled independent bout in Memphis with Jerry Lawler was nixed due in a convoluted way to Lawler's affiliation with the W.W.E.

Hogan would be a great story and there are many potential matches that would be great sells. Hogan-Cena, Hogan-Triple H, Hogan-Umaga, etc.

Also, appearing on Monday's show are Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff, Trish Stratus, and there will also be a special family portrait of the McMahon family which will include Vince's "illegitimate child," Hornswoggle.

Business, sure looks like it's about to pick up!