Friday, May 30, 2008

Shocking W.W.E. News: Raw Game Over For Triple H?

You just knew after Vince McMahon’s draft announcement on Monday night, that speculation as to who would be going where would start running wild. There had been talk before the announcement for quite a few months that the W.W.E. wanted Triple H to go to Smackdown. Now, it appears that those rumors are in full swing again. So what does all of this mean for Sunday’s One Night Stand pay-per-view? Probably nothing because I really can’t see Hunter (pictured above) going to Smackdown and leaving the W.W.E.’s flagship program, Monday Night Raw.

As they say, stay tuned!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wrigley Field To Host Hockey Game, Not Yankee Stadium

Get the story here. This also means that it will be the Detroit Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks, not Rangers-Bruins as would have been the case if Yankee Stadium had hosted the game.

One Night Stand Predictions

Sunday night is the W.W.E.'s One Night Stand pay-per-view in which every match has an "extreme" stipulation in honor of the old E.C.W. Here are the matches and some predictions:

Edge vs Undertaker (TLC Match for World Heavyweight Championship)
Vickie Guerrero is ruining Edge, she’s gotta go, but that’s for another time. I hope that there is no outside interference or any more stupid rules imposed by the Smackdown GM Guerrero, ‘cause this one could be a great match. I think these two, thus far, have had some good matches, but have not had that one memorable great bout. Perhaps this is it. On the surface many may think that the tables, ladders and chairs will benefit Edge. But I just can’t see Undertaker not going home with the World Championship.

WWE Champion Triple H vs. Randy Orton (Last Man Standing Match)
This feud has to reach a conclusion on Sunday, doesn’t it? I just wonder what direction they will have Orton go in after he loses. I’m getting the feeling – and maybe it’s wishful thinking – that we could see Triple H defend against Shawn Michaels at the next pay-per-view at the end of June, Night of Champions.

John Cena vs. JBL (First Blood Match)
JBL lost an “I Quit” match to Cena two years ago and looks to exact revenge. I could see JBL winning this one after some kind of screwjob, but doubtful that Cena doesn’t win and get himself closer to taking back the W.W.E. Championship, probably at SummerSlam in August.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista (Stretcher Match)
Another W.W.E. pay-per-view, another chance for Michaels to steal the show. Every feud that Michaels is in, I find to be the best scripted and most intriguing out of any other that the W.W.E. has going on. This match will be the best on the show and just to reiterate, I think that if HBK beats Batista, he fights Triple H at Night of Champions.

Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga (Falls Count Anywhere)
Hardy gets the win as Raw will soon see Umaga head to Smackdown.

Big Show vs. John Morrison vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. CM Punk (Singapore Cane Match)
Hard to believe there is a “Singapore Cane” match without The Sandman. Would also be hard to believe that Big Show does not emerge victorious and become the number one contender for Kane’s E.C.W. Championship. John Morrison is the dark horse in this one.

Melina vs. Beth Phoenix ("I Quit" Match)
A women’s match on a pay-per-view that does not involve the Women’s Championship, currently held by Mickie James (featured above)? Excuse me, while I scratch my head for a second. Unless the W.W.E. wants to completely bury the Beth Phoenix indestructible character, I can’t see Melina emerging as the winner.

Inside The Squared Circle: Monday Night Raw Ratings Fall Again; Candice Michelle The Savior?

So maybe there is something to all of the criticizing that is done by the Internet wrestling community. The ratings are down, which is part of the reason that Vince McMahon has resorted to giving away money. We'll see.

Some still believe that wrestling is on the verge of another boom. That the W.W.E. has a bunch of young guns ready to lead the charge. Again, we’ll see. The question is who will be the new star that transcends wrestling like Steve Austin and The Rock did? Chris Jericho has really only started to regain some of his luster that he lost after a hiatus of two years. So if Y2J couldn’t save the W.W.E., perhaps it will be Go Daddy femme fatale, Candice Michelle (pictured above when she was Women’s champ). I jest, of course, but many folks are wondering when she will make her return from injury. I guess we’ll have to stay tuned…

The ratings information below is courtesy of

This past week's Memorial Day edition of W.W.E. RAW drew a 2.9 cable rating. The show did hourly ratings of of 2.87 and 2.94. Monday was a national holiday, but typically RAW's rating only drops significantly when it falls on Christmas or New Year's Eve.

Here's a look at the TV ratings for the past 5 years' Memorial Day RAWs:
2007 - 3.2
2006 - 3.8
2005 - 3.8
2004 - 3.2
2003 - 3.7

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More "Shocking" W.W.E. News

Watch Raw Win A Million
Vince McMahon made the “shocking” announcement on Monday Night Raw that the W.W.E. will be giving away $1 million. Now, I’m going to have to point out that there is some controversy already surrounding this. Is it $1 million per week or is it a total of $1 million that will be given away? Regardless, it’s all to draw ratings that have been slumping for a while.

Roster Shakeup
The other – and more important – announcement was that the W.W.E. will hold a draft on June 23 to reshuffle the rosters of Raw, Smackdown and E.C.W. This is an opportunity for the W.W.E.’s creative writing team to do some cool stuff, which would then increase ratings. It appears as though they will try to move some guys up to higher status; the evidence being that Paul Burchill looks to be about to start a feud with Mr. Kennedy (wait one second so I can run outside and yell MMMIIIISSSSTTTTEEERRR KENNEDY!), while his sister Katie Lea goes after Mickie James.

CM Punk’s stock continues to fall; losing to Chavo Guerrero last night on E.C.W. So much for that "Money In The Bank" match victory at Wrestlemania!

I like this idea of a new faction being formed that would contain all second and third-generation superstars. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase came out on MNR and introduced his son, Ted Jr. who most likely would lead the stable that is rumored to also include Cody Rhodes, D.H. Smith, Afa Jr. and Carlito. Maybe this is where Randy Orton comes in. Assuming he loses - not a grand assumption - to Triple H on Sunday, perhaps he is the leader of this stable of young stars?

Speaking of Ted DiBiase, he has a new book coming out, thus one of the reasons why you will be seeing a lot of him on W.W.E. television. I don’t know if it is a coincidence or not, but the second-generation wrestler will be featured tonight at 8 p.m. on Madison Square Garden Classics on MSG. DiBiase will be taking on W.W.E. Champ Randy Savage inside of a steel cage which occurred in 1988 at Madison Square Garden.

A Conceptual Sell Out

Lists are very subjective and usually seem as though they are only written to spark controversy. Maybe that was the case recently when I saw on the WNEW blog that they decided to post some of their favorite concept albums. The usual albums got mentioned such as The Who’s Tommy, Green Day’s American Idiot and Pink Floyd’s The Wall amongst others. But for my money The Who Sell Out (1967) is what I would call pound-for-pound my favorite concept album out there.

It’s a fun album built around a pirate radio station that played nothing but Who songs with some fake and some real jingles sprinkled in. It also features a mini-opera, "Rael," whose instrumental bridge would be used two years later as “Underture” on the Tommy album.

The most well-known song on the record for radio was “I Can See For Miles,” which Pete Townshend described at the time as "the loudest, rawest, dirtiest song the Who had ever recorded."

Paul McCartney read the interview in which PT described the song and in response wrote “Helter Skelter” for The White Album.

According to Wikipedia:

McCartney then "wrote 'Helter Skelter' to be the most raucous vocal, the loudest drums, etcetera" and said he was "using the symbol of a helter skelter as a ride from the top to the bottom—the rise and fall of the Roman Empire—and this was the fall, the demise."

The pictures above are the front and back of quite possibly The Who’s finest album.

Incidentally, the complete WNEW list of the top concept albums is here.

Lyrical Meaning Of Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil"

I was given the DVD, Interview With The Vampire, as a gift and recently decided to give a watch. I’ve seen the movie countless times and never find it to get old. Interestingly, and I’m not sure why, I have only seen it on cable television maybe once. Oh well.

Guns N' Roses does a cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” at the end of the movie. Nice job with the cover, but I prefer the Rolling Stones' (Mick Jagger pictured above) version. So what do these lyrics from the song mean anyway?

And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay

Mark Madden, You're Fired!

Sportscaster – does that mean I have to use the word ‘obviously’ in this post – Mark Madden was fired for his insensitive remarks about Ted Kennedy. So, obviously, Mark you’re pubescent and callous humor wasn’t worth it. For more on the story, click here.

Some Of Rock’s Best To Honor The Who

Pearl Jam, the Foo Fighters and the Flaming Lips are all confirmed to be part of VH1's "Rock Honors" charity concert honoring The Who in Los Angeles on July 12. The show will air on July 17 at 9 p.m. Proceeds will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust fund.

“I Quit” Match At One Night Stand

The W.W.E. added another match to this Sunday’s One Night Stand pay-per-view. Melina will take on Beth Phoenix in an “I Quit” match. The rules are simple, you make your opponent say “I Quit.”

Now, I’m not a huge fan of women’s wrestling, but doesn’t this kill the character of Beth Phoenix as being indestructible if she is forced to scream uncle? But then again, I’m still trying to figure out why they took the Women’s Title off of Phoenix.

If the W.W.E. wanted to put on an entertaining women’s match they would have Victoria (pictured above) face Phoenix. That would be a good match between two that are quite physically strong.

I’m not sure where they are going with Phoenix-Melina, I guess we’ll find out one way or the other. But Melina is clearly no match for Phoenix, I wonder if there is a hook to this?

Clueless Sports Pundits

Maybe it’s time for us all to finally admit…

We really don’t know what the heck we’re talking about!

Tampa Bay and Florida are in first place while the Mets and Yankees are pitiful, but then there are these two items; the first Phil Mushnick wrote in the May 25 edition of the New York Post:
Speaking of which, Mike Francesa delivered on the "Three Minute Rule," Monday - within three minutes of tuning in he'll deliver erroneous information and in a pompous, all-knowing manner - when he told how Augie Busch, in 1968, successfully encouraged Roger Maris to return to the Cardinals for a final season by offering him a lucrative Budweiser distribution franchise in Florida. "The Maris Family," Francesa concluded, "still owns it."

Wrong, very wrong. The Maris's haven't owned it in years. In fact, when Anheuser-Busch, claiming sloppy business practices, pulled the franchise from the Maris Family, it precipitated a $1 billion lawsuit, one that shook - and still shakes - the beer industry. A settlement was reached.

Mushnick then wrote two days later:

In Pittsburgh, last week, 1250 ESPN Radio host/put-down artist Mark Madden said: "I'm very disappointed to hear that Sen. Ted Kennedy is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Sen. Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated."
Fired? He wasn't even suspended. What for? Doing his job?

He was hired to provide "guy talk" and "attitude." Why should it any longer matter whether he works for Disney or any other corporation, or whether sports-talk hosts talk sports? Madden's show makes good ratings. He'll have to do worse than that.

Yes, Francesa is a blowhard, but Phil you are just as bad. Mark Madden WAS suspended, a little effort on your part would have showed you as much.

Please no one start with Madden’s freedom of speech, not so close to Memorial Day. I am no fan of Kennedy’s politics, but have we lost all sense of compassion in this world?

Congress, Money and Prozac

Congress has announced that they are going to be holding hearings on horse racing, and in particular, they will focus on what happened to Eight Belles. She, being the grey filly that was euthanized after collapsing at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. That’s fine. But why doesn’t Congress pay attention to the recent report that over half of the medically insured in this country are on medication for chronic disease?

Maybe they can figure out why they waste so much of our tax dollars on hearings that lead to nowhere!

Pass the bowl of Prozac please!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rest Peacefully, Owen

Owen James Hart
May 7, 1965 – May 23, 1999

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is Mr. Kennedy The New Steve Austin?

So is Mr. Kennedy the new "Steve Austin" of the W.W.E.? It sure looks like they are grooming him to at least make a go of it. I read an interesting interview recently with Mr. Kennedy (real name Ken Anderson, pictured above) in which he talks about his relationship with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. He said that Austin will occasionally call him to discuss a match that he had on t.v. and what he could do differently or that Austin will suggest new approaches to doing interviews, etc.

The W.W.E.’s “Attitude Era” was its most successful in terms of dollars and cents and that was spearheaded by the edgy Steve Austin (pictured left). Some have made the argument that the W.W.E. is on the verge of another boom with all of their young stars such as John Morrison, CM Punk, and MVP. But Mr. Kennedy would be the guy to lead the way. I’m not sure about Kennedy just yet.

Unfortunately, William Regal’s suspension takes away a natural rival for Kennedy. After the Cena-JBL feud reaches a resolution in two weeks at One Night Stand, I’d love to see the obnoxious jerk character that JBL portrays go head to head with the loudmouth Mr. Kennedy.

If nothing else, it will make for some great t.v.!

Shocking New One Night Stand Developments, **Warning Contains Spoilers**

There’s that word again, which I’m hoping will increase traffic to this blog. Anyhow, the W.W.E. has under two weeks to hype its next pay-per-view, One Night Stand, and with that being the case, more matches were added on last night’s E.C.W. show and further updates will be made this Friday night on Smackdown.

Here is the entire card for One Night Stand on Sunday night June 1:
For the 1,000th time, W.W.E. Champ Triple H vs. Randy Orton in a last man standing match.

For the 999th time the vacant World Heavyweight Championship is up for grabs when The Undertaker faces Edge in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs (TLC) match. If Undertaker loses he will be fired.

In a stretcher match, Batista faces Shawn Michaels.

In a first blood bout, John Cena and John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) square off.

Umaga/Jeff Hardy in a falls count anywhere contest.

In a Singapore cane match (without The Sandman, huh?) Big Show vs. C.M. Punk vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. John Morrison vs. Chavo Guerrero. The winner will then battle Kane for the E.C.W. Title later in the night.

Also, there is speculation that Jimmy Kimmel’s “Cousin Sal” will fight Santino Marella.

No word if Kelly Kelly (pictured above) will be involved in the show in one way, shape or form.

Face the Face

The above dog vs. deer staredown photo comes courtesy of the Coast to Coast AM Website. Incidentally, you can help get legendary broadcaster Art Bell inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kiss Us We're Bloggers!

I haven't done so since I began this blog in April 2006, but I decided it was time to opine about some of the Weblogs that I visit frequently.

Of course, we’ll start with Exit 55 and my buddy Rob Adams. Great website that focuses on a number of topics; most notably sports, music and roads. From there I go to Neil Best’s Watchdog blog. Rob Adams got me into him. He covers all things sports media and does so in an opinionated way without being bombastic or grating.

That blog is courtesy of Newsday, which also plays home to The Steel Cage. Yes, one of the more popular blogs from the now Cablevision-owned Newsday. It's a well-written blog by Alfonso Castillo and former W.W.E. creative writing team member, Seth Mates. They kind of play a good cop/bad cop thing with Mates more critical and cynical of the wrestling biz as opposed to the usually jovial Castillo. It’s a good read, with solid insight.

Ring Posts by Kevin Eck from the Baltimore Sun also gets my mouse click. He’s pretty pro-W.W.E., but still covers T.N.A. and occasionally R.O.H.

During the hockey season, Sam Weinman’s Rangers Report is a must for me. Sam gives very good analysis and also links you to anything news breaking courtesy of his competition. Pretty classy, if you ask me.

Peter Abraham does a nice job with the New York Yankees.

If you want in-depth high school sports coverage, Tim Parry is your guy.

My friend Tommy Dee does a fantastic job in writing TrueSportsFans, but that seems to be on hiatus at the moment.

There are others, but these stick out in the forefront of my mind at the moment. The aforementioned blogs are all colorful and insightful and most importantly FREE!

So go ahead and try one, I know you want to...

We May All Need A Bowl Of Prozac Soon!

I have veered away from politics on this blog quite a bit, however, that may change in the fall. We’ll see.

Anyway, the rumblings continue that President Bush will not leave office with Iran on the verge of going nuclear. Here’s a very interesting story from The Jerusalem Post that fuels this speculation even more so.

Apparently, Dr. Condoleezza Rice is one of the folks with a cooler head. I’m not a Bushbasher by any means, but invading Iran or any kind of military strike on that country would in my opinion be disastrous.

May I ask whatever happened to one war at a time, which President Lincoln told his Secretary of State William H. Seward; a proponent of doing battle with England?

Happy Birthday Pete Townshend!

Yesterday was Pete Townshend’s 63rd birthday, so I just wanted to send him my most heart-felt birthday punches!

I’ll never forget when I saw Townshend perform “Drowned” at the Quadrophenia show at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1996. Just awesome is all I can say. Right here is a video of PT performing “Drowned” at the Secret Policemen’s Ball. More on that from Wikipedia:

In 1979, Townshend became the first major rock musician to donate his services to the human rights organization Amnesty International when he performed three songs for its benefit show The Secret Policeman's Ball - performances that were released on record and seen in the film of the show. The show was Townshend's first major live solo appearance. Townshend's acoustic performances of three of his songs ("Pinball Wizard", "Drowned", and "Won't Get Fooled Again") were subsequently cited as having been the forerunner and inspiration for the "unplugged" phenomenon in the 1990s. Townshend had been invited to perform for Amnesty by Martin Lewis, the producer of The Secret Policeman's Ball who stated later that Townshend's participation had been the key to his securing the subsequent participation for Amnesty (in the 1981 sequel show) of Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Phil Collins and Bob Geldof. Other performers inspired to support Amnesty International in future Secret Policeman's Ball shows and other benefits because of Townshend's early commitment to the organization include Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, David Gilmour and U2 singer Bono who in 1986 told Rolling Stone magazine: "I saw The Secret Policeman's Ball and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed...."

Shocking Monday Night Raw Recap

I love how some websites try to get your attention by using the word ‘shocking,’ I mean is there really anything that we are shocked by these days? Moving right along...

Last night’s Monday Night Raw was the best one since the night after Wrestlemania, when Ric Flair gave his farewell speech.

I tip my hat to the writing staff because they started off with what I love to see and go figure but it was a wrestling match that opened the show. For too long now, Raw has begun with someone coming out and talking for 10 or 15 minutes then we go to an Axe Body Spray commercial. Incidentally is it just my t.v. or do they show the same Axe commercial over and over again? I digress...

I thought the first hour of Raw was the best way to book a wrestling show – good, solid t.v. matches and a few quick, yet meaningful vignettes, such as the one with Mickie James and Katie Lea (pictured above). They’ve also been picking their spots better in the use of Mr. McMahon.

This morning we found out why McMahon set the stipulation that whoever lost between Mr. Kennedy and William Regal would be fired. So it appears now that Theodore Long will be the new General Manager of Raw. I feel a bit nostalgic but I remember when Long was a ring attendant and then a referee back in the old N.W.A.

My only complaint about MNR– and it is a minor one – is that the Piper’s Pit went about 10 minutes too long. I’m sure there are people out there that absolutely hated last night's Raw and that it was the last wrestling show they will ever watch because Steve Austin or The Rock didn’t show up. It’s funny to me – and this is why I stopped going to – but if so many people hate the W.W.E. why did they just have a record year in revenue?

I’m digressing again, but I sent an email a few months back to Bill Apter over at 1wrestling and complained about the amount of negative feedback they put on their website from fans. It just seemed disproportionate to me that so many letters they would print were anti-W.W.E. I remember similar stuff in Pro Wrestling Illustrated in the 1980s, oh and you know who was in charge of PWI? Yeah you guessed correctly, Bill Apter.

He wrote back to me that he never had a problem with the W.W.E. and that the letters they post reflect the majority of the emails they are getting. I still find it hard to believe. Apter is a classy guy from what I gather and I have no problem with him personally, I've just always sensed an anti-W.W.E./anti-northeast thing from the wrestling pundits.

Nonetheless, I liked Raw last night.

Good show!

William Regal Suspended

It seemed a bit out of left field last night to have William Regal lose a match to Mr. Kennedy and therefore be "fired" according to the match's stipulation. But here's a tidbit from the W.W.E. website this morning which explains the real reason:

STAMFORD, Conn., May 20, 2008 - In accordance with its Substance Abuse and Drug Testing Policy, WWE has suspended Darren Matthews (William Regal) for 60 days for his second violation of the company’s policy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Judgement Day Predictions

Maybe I’m feeling a little Dionne Warwicky today, regardless I’ll go ahead and do some forecasting and give my picks for the W.W.E.’s Judgement Day on pay-per-view (where else?) this Sunday night.

Chris Jericho takes on Shawn Michaels in a match that we can only hope lives up to their legendary bout at Wrestlemania 19. I’m assuming Y2J’s Intercontinental title is not on the line, still I go with some sort of screwjob ending to this one. Batista said if he found out Michaels was feigning an injuring at last month’s ppv, he would really hurt HBK. Well, Michaels admitted his knee injury was a fake in his win over Batista. So I expect Batista to come out and put a hurting on Michaels. If that happens, let’s hope it occurs after the match and that we have a clean finish. This match will probably steal the show…but when has Michaels not stolen the show. No matter how the match finishes, though, I think Michaels scores the win over Jericho.

JBL goes up against John Cena. Hey, didn’t these two face off in an “I Quit” match at Judgement Day two years ago? The styles of these two, I think, meshes pretty well for what could be a pretty good match. I’m still hoping for the day when JBL and William Regal cross paths in the ring. Expect a screwjob finish to extend the feud. Cena via disqualification over JBL.

Mickie James will put the W.W.E. Women’s Title on the line against Melina and Beth Phoenix (pictured above) in a “Triple Threat” match. I’d love to see Phoenix squash both, but I think they are going to try an establish a Phoenix-Melina feud - why? Look for Melina again costing Phoenix the gold.

The Undertaker goes up against Edge in a match for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. Why not have Edge win and then CM Punk cashes in his “Money in the Bank” victory and then goes out and beats Edge for the title? Probably not, but it would be cool to see! Undertaker wins this one ‘cause Edge is supposedly taking some time off.

The Miz and John Morrison will defend the W.W.E. Tag Team Titles against E.C.W. Champ Kane and CM Punk. I’m not sure I get where this one is going? Perhaps a heel turn for CM Punk? I found it very interesting that Punk lost cleanly to The Miz on Tuesday night. Maybe Miz becomes a “good guy” or who knows? The tag champs retain, somehow.

That leads us to the steel cage match between Randy Orton and W.W.E. Champ Triple H. William Regal awaits for Hunter Hearst Helmsley while Randy Orton is also cutting back on travel, so look for HHH to win this one in what could potentially be a very good cage match

Interesting that Mr. Kennedy, Big Show, Umaga, Matt Hardy and others were left off of this pay-per-view...or are they?

Triple H is in the running for the lead role in the movie Thor.

By the way, Raw G.M. William Regal needs a Steve Austin-type that gets his goat and I think they've got one in Mr. Kennedy. He comes off great as an obnoxious "babyface."

Rey Mysterio was on a promotional tour in China when the earthquake hit. Reportedly he had to run out of a radio station along with his wife, but that they are OK and are now assisting with relief efforts.

What Can Brown Do At Pimlico?

OK don’t go betting the house and take these with a grain of salt, but I like Big Brown to win the 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. A win by Brown (pictured above) would set up some serious hype for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday June 7 where Brown would try to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown.

Hey Byrn won last month at Pimlico and knows what it takes to endure on the 1 3/16 miles track. I like him to finish second. I’m gonna go with Yankee Bravo for third place. His rider Alex Solis won the ’86 Preakness with Snow Chief.

Win: Big Brown
Place: Hey Byrn
Show: Yankee Bravo

Friday, May 09, 2008

As Much As I Can't Stand Sidney Crosby And The Penguins...

The day I start rooting for the Philadelphia Flyers is when the time will have come for you to give me the "Old Yeller" treatment! Again, Detroit over Dallas in six and Pens over Philly in five. I guess I will impersonate Sweden and act neutral throughout the rest of the playoffs. Although seeing 46-year-old Chris Chelios raise the Stanley Cup once more would be cool. I hear Cheli's Chili Bar in Detroit has some mean chili! I wonder if the Red Wings will eat some out of the Cup when this is over?

Odds & Sods

Tragedy strikes the world and once again man makes it worse. There are now estimates that when all is said and done, 500,000 people will have died from the cyclone in Burma. Many thousands will have needlessly perished because the hardline government will not allow aid to those in need. Just heart wrenching!

Some people have asked, are we in the end times? They make a case that over the last eight years we have seen tragedy after tragedy on a Biblical scale: 9/11, the Enron and WorldCom collapse, the Iraq war, the Tsunami, there was also an earthquake in the Iranian city of Bam in 2003 which killed 15,000 of the 90,000 people living in that ancient city and now the Myanmar cyclone. So are we in the end times? What say you?

The acquittal of the cops in the Sean Bell shooting trial and the Hillary-Obama contest show America’s Achilles' heel: race.

The Detroit Red Wings look unstoppable!

Two reasons why Neil Smith is no longer Rangers’ GM play for the Dallas Stars: Swedish bruiser Mattias Norstrom and the smooth-skating Muscovite, Sergei Zubov.

David Wells wants to come back and pitch for the Yankees. Wow and I was only kidding about Carl Pavano’s return being pushed up!

The rare 2-3 double play in the Yankees-Indians' game the other night was cool to see, despite the New York loss. Nice job by catcher Jose Molina.

Former W.W.E. wrestler Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s wife was in the news recently. She said that before she was married and while working in a restaurant in Boston, Roger Clemens put the moves on her, which she promptly rejected.

Mark Jackson + Knicks’ Head Coaching Job = Good fit.

Did I mention cutting your nails in public?

How about when a bagel shop adds plain hot water to your cup of coffee. All I have to say is the same thing that Pete Townshend (pictured above with Paul McCartney to his right) uttered at the end of the recording of “Happy Jack” when Keith Moon – who liked to try and add his vocals much to the band’s dismay – tried to sneak back in to the session...

I saw yer!

Jeff Hardy Returns To Monday Night Raw?

Jeff Hardy was suspended for 60 days as of March 11 for violation of the W.W.E.’s wellness policy. Sunday is May 11 - some quick math reveals that Jeff Hardy is eligible to return. So will the W.W.E. bring him back this Monday night to its flagship program? Will they decide to punish him further by sticking him somewhere else, or even keeping him off of television altogether for a while?

No question about it, Jeff Hardy (pictured above) was on a real roll and the suspension could not have come at a worse time for the wrestler and the company. The violation occurred just weeks before Wrestlemania 24. Hardy then endured even further adversity when his house burned to the ground, thus causing him to lose all of his possessions. So what’s going to happen with Jeff Hardy? I guess only time will tell.

Elsewhere, Torrie Wilson, unable to compete again due to a bad back, was given her release yesterday by the W.W.E.

Scott Steiner has been granting interviews to the media in the runup to Sunday’s T.N.A. pay-per-view, Sacrifice. Steiner is very outspoken about some of the W.W.E.’s top stars and particularly Ric Flair, Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Kevin Eck, a favorite of mine, has an interview with Scott Steiner on his Baltimore Sun Ring Posts' blog here.

R.O.H. will be holding a huge card this Saturday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. I keep hearing such great things about Ring of Honor and am dying to check them out. More on the New York show at Newsday’s Steel Cage blog right here. If only R.O.H. had a t.v. deal.

W.W.E. Classics returns to the MSG Network on Wednesday night at 8.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Owen Hart!

Amazing that Owen Hart would have turned 43 yesterday. The “Blue Blazer” is definitely missed and is one of my all-time favorites. Owen beating his brother Bret at Wrestlemania X was one of my most memorable wrestling moments ever.

The two - Owen on the left - are pictured above after taking a few bumps, I surmise, although when this photo was taken I'm not sure. I still haven’t gotten around to reading Broken Harts by Owen’s wife, Martha, but it is on my reading list. Same goes for Bret’s autobiography which is going to be released in the U.S. this October.

R.I.P. Owen Hart
May 7, 1965 – May 23, 1999

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Inside The Squared Circle: T.V. Roundup, Ron Simmons' College Football Hall of Fame Induction, Mickie James A Lifesaver

Monday Night Raw was better this week, but still lacking a real knockout punch. Trish Stratus (pictured above to the left of Jim Ross and Stacey Keibler) made an appearance in a backstage vignette, however, didn’t say anything. What?

Ron Simmons also appeared during that segment and uttered his trademark “Damn!” Simmons recently was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the W.W.E. did a nice job of airing some old footage of Simmons playing at Florida State University. For more on his induction, click here.

Rowdy Roddy Piper showed why he is one of the best talkers ever in the biz when he laid out the verbal smackdown on Carlito and Santino Marella. That segment, though, would get ruined by Cryme Tyme. Ugh!

Mickie James reportedly helped to save a man suffering from a seizure at an autograph session during Wrestlemania weekend. Incidentally, she beat Beth Phoenix in a "lumberjill" match on Raw.

William Regal continued turning off the lights during matches, which is getting real old! It’s setting up a feud with Regal and Triple H that could possibly involve Randy Orton.

Mr. Kennedy looks to be turning “face.”

Shawn Michaels continues to be my choice as the highlight of the show and will take on Chris Jericho at Judgement Day on May 18. Incredibly, the W.W.E. will follow up with a pay-per-view on June 1, One Night Stand.

E.C.W. celebrated its 100th episode since its W.W.E. revival last night. I saw Colin Delaney pin Armando Estrada to finally earn an E.C.W. contract. Yawn!

CM Punk and Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely in an OK match. Punk and Kane stared down W.W.E. Tag Team Champions John Morrison and The Miz after the match.

Smackdown this week will attempt to sort out the disastrous stripping of the World Championship from The Undertaker.

Meanwhile, Michelle McCool was the number one search on Yahoo! on NFL Draft day.

More On Chris Benoit, W.W.E. Revenue Record

We are nearing the one-year mark of the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide and I came across an interesting piece by Irv Muchnick on some holes in the Chris Benoit investigation. I’m not a big fan of Muchnick, but he raises some interesting questions. Click here to read the story.

Meanwhile the W.W.E. reported record revenue for the 1st quarter of this year, $162.6 million, which is the most successful business period for the company ever.

Breaking Up For Rangers Is Hard To Do

The outlook for this season was full of hope, while the finish was akin to an empty glass. That’s partially why this year’s breakup day was so difficult, along with the usual fact that many of these players will never be teammates again.

All of today's area newspapers have coverage of the Rangers’ breakup day from yesterday. There are some big questions surrounding this team right now, particularly with regards to Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Sean Avery, all free agents. Let’s take a look and for what it’s worth I’ll offer my two cents.

The forward position is a good place to begin. Will Jaromir Jagr come back to play for the Rangers? Do they want him back? What can they reasonably offer him? A two-year deal makes the most sense to me. Jagr says in this article in today’s New York Post that his father wants him to play in the Czech Republic in 2010-2011, but he also said he promised that he would play in Russia. Money as always will dictate and I don’t have a strong feeling as to where Jagr will end up, one way or the other.

Brendan Shanahan has definitely lost a step and should only be brought back for a one-year deal, in which he would be used as a penalty killing specialist.

Sean Avery wants $4 million a year - that is tough - but his value to the team is immeasurable. Meanwhile, Martin Straka’s best days are clearly behind him, I wouldn’t bring him back.

So how do the forwards shape up? If the Rangers follow my line of thinking they would look like this:

(OPEN)-Brandon Dubinsky-Jaromir Jagr
(OPEN)-Scott Gomez-Sean Avery
Nigel Dawes-Chris Drury-Ryan Callahan
Brendan Shanahan-Blair Betts-Petr Prucha
Lori Korpikoski-Ryan Hollweg-Fred Sjostrom
Extras: Colton Orr

Those two left-wing spots on the first two lines could be filled by either Korpikoski, Dawes, Prucha or Callahan. Let’s also not forget that 19-year-old Artem Anisimov who played for Hartford in 2007-2008 could play a role, and New York fans also await the arrival from Russia of 19-year-old superprospect Alexei Cherepanov, who has broken Pavel Bure’s records in Russia and has been compared to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

The Blueline. Michal Rozsival, Paul Mara, Marek Malik and Jason Strudwick are all free agents. So long to Malik, who fought Sean Avery during one practice, dissed the coach, and was ineffective on the ice this season. He can be good, but the Garden crowd did not give him any breaks. Best for everyone that he go elsewhere.

Rozsival was not as strong this year as 2006-2007, but I’d still like to sign him and hope for a bounce back year. Nothing long-term, maybe a one-year deal. Paul Mara is solid and has proven to be a worthwhile acquisition from Boston a season ago. I’d like to see him back. Jason Strudwick does it all: defense, plays wing, blogs, etc. I could see him as a coach when his playing days are done. He’s a good spare, I’d resign him. I'd love to see the Blueshirts find a way to part with Christian Backman as quickly as he turns over the puck to the opposition.

As far as additions to the defense, if I was the general manager I would target Ottawa’s Wade Redden. The Rangers are also waiting for 20-year-old stud d-man Bobby Sanguinetti to be ready to man New York’s blueline. The New Jersey native is big (6'3" 190) and can move the puck. So here’s what I envision:

Marc Staal-Wade Redden
Fedor Tyutin-Dan Girardi
Michal Rozsival-Bobby Sanguinetti
Extras:Jason Strudwick, Paul Mara

In goal, Henrik Lundqvist had another fine season and also has a long-term deal under his belt. Backup goalie Stephen Valiquette is a free agent and should be signed. He has the unique ability to play infrequently and still be able to step in and perform admirably whenever called upon.

So in a nutshell, although I’m not big into signing other teams’ free agents because it hasn’t worked very well for New York, I would go after Wade Redden and keep most of our own: Jagr, Shanahan, Avery, Mara, Valiquette and Strudwick.

Regardless, it will definitely not be a quiet off-season for the Blueshirts.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

John Dellapina: Foolish or Intrepid?

John Dellapina first reported that Sean Avery had suffered cardiac arrest due to problems with his spleen. The Rangers and Avery denied the cardiac arrest part, but did say that the winger had a lacerated spleen. If the latter are to be believed, this story in today's New York Post makes Daily News Rangers' beat writer John Dellapina look even more foolish. Here's a snippet of what Sean Avery had to say in the article by Larry Brooks:

Avery said he was in "such bad shape the first couple of days," that he had no idea that one publication reported that he'd suffered cardiac arrest and was found unconscious in a Manhattan hotel room before being rushed to the hospital at 3:30 the morning following the game.

"Nobody said anything, but then it kind of funneled through," said Avery. "To make up lies, it just shows the credibility of the people who would put that stuff out there and then try to stand by it even when it's proven false.

"That anyone would print something that's just false . . . I don't know why people have the need to lie about me."

I'm down on Dellapina who usually is solid in his reporting, although he will never out scoop anyone, none of the local hockey writers get scoops except for Larry Brooks. But should I give him a second chance? Dellapina defended himself on his blog by stating this on April 30:

Finally, for all those from other media outlets and newspapers who have sarcastically dismissed our initial web story about Sean Avery’s hospitalization since the Rangers refuted it Wednesday afternoon, I wonder:

Was your initial reaction that the story couldn’t have been correct or did you simply race up to the MSG Training Center to get player reaction? And, did you call the hospital and/or Avery’s representatives to get the real story or did your “reporting” simply consist of taking the team’s word for what happened?

Fortunately, the intrepid men an women of the press who have exposed baseball’s steroid problems didn’t similarly regurgitate what they were told by people who understandably want their businesses viewed as beyond reproach.

I'm still waiting to see what else comes out about all of this before I write off John Dellapina. Still, though, he did a lousy job on this one, unless of course the Rangers and Avery are lying.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mini Odds & Sods

So much I would like to touch on right now…

Sad that the death toll in Myanmar is now at 10,000 and possibly growing. Just incredibly tragic!

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are making the rounds on television, as if that was something new. This thing doesn’t appear to be ending until at least June. Oh boy!

Just so heartbreaking to see what happened to Eight Belles. Now all the loonies can have their moment in the sun and rip horse racing.

The officiating in the NHL is horrible, but that wasn’t the reason the Rangers lost. If it had been seven games, yes, not five. More on that in a future post this week.

Any chance that John Dellapina would issue an apology to Sean Avery over his inaccurate reporting?

Captain Obvious says the Yankees pitching has big problems. Is it bad enough, though, that some want to push up Carl Pavano’s expected summer return? Not quite, but getting there.

The W.W.E had a good moment with the three candidates appearing on their flagship show, Monday Night Raw, but that was followed up with a clunker of a week involving Michael Hayes (racial remarks), Ashley Massaro (alleged escort service involvement) and Santino Marella (DUI).

Just think...right now Mike Francesa is telling someone he was right about something he was clearly wrong about. Also, Isiah Thomas is telling someone that the Knicks grew a great deal during his tenure...and they're both laughing all the way to the bank!

Great country America, great country!

Good job out of Martin Scorsese on Shine A Light, a documentary on the Rolling Stones. I got to see it in IMAX and loved it.

By the way, the above photo is of the late drummer for The Who, Keith Moon, along with Zak Starkey, who would go on to simultaneously hold the two best part-time jobs in the world: drumming for The Who and Oasis.

Detroit over Dallas in six.
Penguins over Philly in five.

Not as mini as I thought...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Pyromania At Kentucky Derby

Take it with a grain of salt, but here are my picks for tomorrow's running of the mile and a quarter, 134th Kentucky Derby, "the most exciting two minutes in sports."

1- Pyro (pictured above winning the Louisiana Derby)
2- Gayego
3- Big Brown

O Captain! My Captain!

So there he was last night, Jaromir Jagr, leading the charge like a true thoroughbred busting out of the gate at the start of a race. All the other New York Rangers could do was try to keep pace while the Pittsburgh Penguins were left in the dust. The Blueshirts' playoff lives may have been extended only one more game, but their Captain made sure the ship wouldn’t sink without a fight.

Jagr may retire after this season and play in Russia or he may not get another contract from Glen “The Savior” Sather and the Broadway Blues, but if last night was his last twirl around the Garden ice, he went out with a bang. What a heroic performance on Broadway by the man who has restored pride to this Rangers’ franchise over the last three years. Jaromir Jagr paced New York in the 3-0 shutout with two goals and an assist.

Yes, Henrik Lundqvist showed why he is a Vezina candidate. But it all started with one man. Now Mr. Jagr and the Rangers go back to Pittsburgh in hopes of extending the season another game.

One thing The Captain has made certain by his actions is that he won’t disappoint win or lose.