Welcome peepsicles to the very first, hopefully of many, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly columns. My goal is to issue my views and opinions on the weeks WWE television and news surrounding the WWE. Why not TNA etc.? Well Dan has TNA more than covered in his own column, and I don’t get to see any other promotions. Plus, as the old saying goes, you should always stick with what you know.
The concept of the column is simple, and is pretty obvious considering the title. I will look through the week in WWE and pick out the things I thought to be good, the things I thought to be bad, and then I shall focus on one particularly bad thing which I deem to be “ugly”. And it won’t just be Lita. As a bonus for this week’s debut column, I will even dish out my Survivor Series predictions, but bearing in mind how few matches have been announced, that shouldn’t take long.
So let’s kick things off on a positive note, with…
Joey Styles – A Permanent Fixture?
It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the sensational rise in ability of the RAW commentary team since the arrival of Joey Styles at Taboo Tuesday. Without JR to do play-by-play at a high level (i.e. not a Coach level), it’s great to have someone who can do all the things expected of a good play-by-play announcer, call the moves, refer us to history between the competitors, and add extra drama and emotion to the proceedings. As much as I love the Coach character, he just doesn’t deliver as a play-by-play man, mainly because he’s a heel, and his job as a heel is to be biased towards the other heels. Styles can play the impartial neutral most of the time, and oversell a heel’s actions when necessary, leaving Lawler as a face, and Coach as a heel. There is still debate as to whether Styles has signed a WWE contract on a full-time basis, but I can only hope that if he hasn’t, he will soon.
The RAW vs. SmackDown! feud
“Co-incidentally” timed to echo the release of RAW vs. SmackDown! 2006 for the PS2, the feuding brands have been all over this week’s shows, from the start of RAW to the end of SmackDown!. And who can blame the booking? The crowd are absolutely behind the storyline, and the reception that any continuation of the feud gets from the crowd is astonishing. It will be a shame for the invasions to end after this Sunday’s Survivor Series, but we can all still look forward to Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio on the SmackDown! Special next Tuesday.
The Drug Policy
Ignoring for a few moments whether it will actually come to fruition or not, or whether Vince only announced it to save himself from media pressure, it can only be a positive that in some way, something has been done. Eddie’s death should not have happened, and with better medical coverage, it wouldn’t have happened. For so long it has been overlooked, and all the smart fans know that drugs, be they medicinal or otherwise, are commonplace among wrestlers. If there is only some kind of monitoring process going on, it may save the life of someone like Eddie who would be sorely missed.
Quality of (most of) this week’s Matches
There were six really good TV matches this week, starting off with Ric Flair vs. Trevor Murdoch. Although it may seem old-fashioned compared to today’s high spot thrillers, Murdoch and Flair put on an old-school butt-whuppin’ kind of match. It was a nice throwback to the days of Stan Hansen and Dusty Rhodes. Also on RAW was the second match in consecutive weeks between Kurt Angle and Shelton Benjamin, this time with the added influence of Daivari. It was nice that they didn’t over-use Daivari with fast/slow counts, and only used him for the finish. The Main Event of RAW was also a good contest between HBK and JBL. The first meeting between the two, at least since the birth of the JBL character, also had added issues involved, such as the RAW vs. SD feud. It was a contrast of styles, but HBK can bump for anyone, so it worked.
On SmackDown! we had Chris Benoit vs. Booker T for the United States Title. A good match with a dodgy ending, and proof, if we needed it, that the Best of Seven should be something to look forward to. The Cruiserweight Title match also featured some neat wrestling, as you’d expect from two wrestlers with the talent of Juventud and Nunzio, and it was nice to have a finish without interference. And finally, Matt Hardy vs. Ken Kennedy was a solid match too, showing that Kennedy has abilities other than those on the microphone.
It’s such a small little thing, but it makes the difference between a match not having a purpose, and having a purpose. SmackDown! had Randy Orton face Batista for the World Title, and there were numerous references from Michael Cole and Tazz, as well as a backstage segment between the two competitors, reminding us of the history between the two. It’s the little things that makes wrestling that bit better.
He’s The Boogeyman!… And He’s Coming.. TO GETCHA!
Yes, the Boogeyman is GOOD. Never before have renditions of “London Bridge is Falling Down” and “A Spoonful of Sugar” brought so much mirth and hilarity. Why is he good? Well anything that makes people laugh has to be good. Some people have obviously been taking things a teeny bit too seriously, moaning that he isn’t wrestling, and that when he does wrestle he’ll be useless. So what? Wrestling doesn’t have enough comedic characters at the moment, so surely The Boogeyman can brighten things up a little?
And the rest…
Cena, for all his faults, did a good job with his “Interviews” backstage. We had comedy from Tomko, Snitsky and The BOOGEYMAN, as well as Candice Michelle and Maria in a state of undress, whilst Cena brought it all together perfectly. He then got booed, which was even funnier.
Melina vs. Trish? It could work, and on SmackDown! Melina proved that she had the wrestling ability that OVW fans such as myself knew she had all along. I think it should be a pretty good contest at Survivor Series, even if the kidnapping on RAW was a bit over-the-top.
MISTERRRRR KENNEDY got his first cheers of his career! From what we’ve seen on the TWO Forums he is definitely a favourite of people in the UK, so perhaps it wasn’t too surprising to hear the crowd behind him before, and during his match with Matt Hardy. Come on, how great was it to hear the crowd sing along with his introduction?
Well that covers my positive feelings of the week, time to move to…
Survivor Series Card
Survivor Series is the third biggest event of the year, behind WrestleMania and SummerSlam, so why in the love of all things sacred have only SIX matches been announced? And why is one of them Eric Bischoff vs. Teddy Long? Obviously the untimely death of Eddie Guerrero caused problems, in that the Buried Alive match between Orton and Undertaker was cancelled, but would it hurt them to have thrown something together at the last minute?
There are many superstars without a spot, such as Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Ken Kennedy, Juventud, Paul London, Hardcore Holly, Nunzio, Super Crazy, Psicosis, Cade & Murdoch, MNM, LOD, Shane Helms, Tajiri, Rob Conway and so on, could they not find some kind of match for them? Why not a secondary RAW vs. SmackDown! 10-man elimination match between the midcarders?
The other problem is that not one of the other matches has been given the constant build up that the Team RAW vs. Team SmackDown! match has. Who cares about Flair vs. HHH? Who cares about Cena vs. Angle? Who cares about Bischoff vs. Long? Nobody. This PPV is fast turning into a one-match show, and those are never a good thing.
This actually covers two things, one that I find slightly more annoying than the other. Why do the WWE find it necessary to edit the audience, be it to increase boos or cheers, or decrease boos or cheers? Obviously this mainly occurs on the taped shows, so SmackDown! is the main place for it. The most annoying thing this week was seeing Paul Burchill and William Regal come out to a “mixed reaction”, when everyone in the arena seemed to be on their feet cheering them. Was that really necessary? Why can’t two Englishmen get cheered when they’re in England?
On a lighter note, the “You Suck” bleeping for Kurt Angle’s entrance on RAW has gone swiftly from being “funny” to “stupid” within two weeks. It was humorous the first time, but the second time it had been done, and there was no need to go back to it.
Val Venis. Is there any one man in the history of time who has been treated with such unnecessary distain over the last few years than Val? What has he done wrong to deserve being the biggest jobber in the company? The man is a very talented wrestler, and also very talented on the microphone. There appears to be no issue of him doing something wrong backstage, because he’s never been released from the company. Maybe he’s just letting things happen, and is perfectly happy being an enhancement talent, but I for one think he’s above that.
The Cruiserweight Title
I have always been in favour of titles changing hands occasionally at house shows to add a bit of purpose to them, as well as a quick advertisement as to why people should go to them. But in this case, the title change was pointless. When Nunzio won the title in Rome, everyone presumed it was down to the backstage problems people were having with Juventud, to the extent that even Super Crazy and Psicosis were staying away from him. But then come this week’s SmackDown!, Juventud wins the title straight back again cleanly. So what was the point of the initial change? To make the crowd pop for a midcard match? Surely Nunzio could have won a non-title match and they would have been just as happy about it.
The WHITE SOX?
I know I said I’d leave TNA to Dan, but I have to draw attention to this. TNA are bringing in some of the World Series-winning Chicago White Sox players (that’s baseball for UK peeps) for this week’s Impact! Taping. If I remember correctly, they did a similar thing with NASCAR driver Jeff Hammond, which was met with critical bashing from all areas. I can understand that TNA are utilising any avenue possible to help them gain notoriety with the US fans, but this is hardly Mike Tyson being the special enforcer at WrestleMania XIV.
And the rest…
The problem with Joey Styles on RAW is that he is beginning to make the other commentators look distinctly average in comparison. Michael Cole and Tazz were seen as the “hot commentary team” two years ago, but now they can’t hold a candle to the levels of performance Styles can reach.
I know they’ve been around for a while, but I have to make mention that The Dicks are the worst-named/gimmicked tag teams since The Johnsons in TNA. The Tolands are a good team, and did a good job in OVW as the Southern Tag Team champions. What is it about the WWE making sure they completely change things?
Candice Michelle should never win a match over a trained female wrestler. Ever. Interference or no interference. Never.
And so finally, we hit the hot topic of my disappointment this week…
This Week’s Ugliness:
FACES AND HEELS… WHO ARE THEY?
The RAW vs. SmackDown! feud has already gone down in this week’s good books, but one thing about it has really annoyed me. The booking for it has completely confused most of the fans when it comes to cheering people, and booing people.
On the RAW team we have three faces, Shawn Michaels, Kane and Big Show, and two heels, Carlito and Chris Masters. The SmackDown! team has the same, three faces in Lashley, Batista and Rey Mysterio, and two heels in JBL and Randy Orton. So who are the face team, and who are the heel team? When it comes down to the actual match, which of the two teams will have the fans support? Will they just be forced to cheer HBK, Rey etc. and boo Masters, Orton etc.?
The biggest problem came about this week when the issue of Kane and Big Show attacking Batista was raised in the opening segment. The crowd could be heard not knowing whether to boo the two behemoths, or cheer them. In the end it just all came out in a big load of undistinguishable noise, and the same happened when Kane and Show attacked Batista twice more throughout the week. However, Batista was cheered when he attacked Show and Kane on RAW, yet JBL was booed when he took out Conway and Tajiri, before then going on to cut a face promo against Chris Masters.
The reason this problem has come around is the ridiculous belief that the McMahon family have. They truly believe there are people out there who “support” the RAW brand over the SmackDown! brand, and visa-versa. They believe that the fans will boo RAW guys when they are on SmackDown!, and boo SmackDown! guys when they’re on RAW. My proof in this is that Linda McMahon actually said this in a press conference around a year ago, most likely in an attempt to put a positive spin on the ratings slump.
It will be interesting to see what happens come Survivor Series, interesting in the way that watching a car crash happen is interesting.
And speaking of Survivor Series…
Trish Stratus vs. Melina
As I’ve mentioned, Melina looked good in her match on SmackDown!, so hopefully this should be a pretty good contest. With nobody for Melina to defend the title against on SmackDown! apart from Christy, I would say the outcome of this match is fairly predictable.
Winner: Trish Stratus
Best of Seven Series – Match #1
Booker T vs. Chris Benoit
It seems strange to have a “Best Of” series so close to the last one, which was this time last year between Booker and Cena. The match quality should be a lot better this time, so it should be a fun trip. I’d expect Booker to get a 1-0 lead here.
Winner: Booker T
General Manager vs. General Manager
Eric Bischoff vs. Theodore Long
Again, I ask WHY this match is necessary. Neither of them are wrestlers, had it been between two wrestlers then it would have made sense, but NO. I expect it to be dreadful, and I expect Bischoff to win. He beat JR once, and JR beat HHH. Beat that logic.
Winner: Eric Bischoff
Last Man Standing Match
Ric Flair vs. Triple H
I have no idea whether this is for the Intercontinental Title or not, WWE.com makes no mention of it, so I guess it isn’t. I’m actually going to stick my neck out on this one and say it will end in a draw. I’m more than sure that this feud has more life in it yet.
WWE Title Match (Special Referee: Daivari)
Kurt Angle vs. John Cena
The odds have really been stacked against Cena here, with the addition of Daivari as referee. That’s what worries me. With the odds so stacked against Cena, he HAS to win, right? Right. The title reign from hell lives on, as does the title belt from hell.
Winner: John Cena
Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team RAW (Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito and Chris Masters)
Team SmackDown! (Batista, Lashley, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio and John Bradshaw Layfield)
Probably the certain main event, as every part of the build up has been around it. Somebody, namely Andrew Graham, suggested that The Undertaker’s return would be to replace Batista, whose injury is well-documented. I’d say that would be a pretty damn good guess, and would easily make sense given the status of Batista. As for predictions, I’d expect either Masters or Carlito to go first, from then on it’s tough to pick, but I’d expect HBK and Batista/Taker to be the last two men. And SmackDown! will win.
Winners: Team SmackDown!
So there you have it, my very first column. Did you enjoy it? Hate it? Agree with me? Disagree with me? Want to punch me in the face? Want to share in my Boogeyman love? Drop me a line at [Chris@Wrestling101.com]
Until next time, have a good week.