INSIDE THE RING NEWSLETTER
by Trevor Hunnicutt and Eddie T.
I don’t know when you will all recieve this. We continue to have the weirdest of situations with the newsletter. Hopefully it is all fixed by now and you should be getting this on late Sunday night or early Monday morning. I apologize that you received what was supposed to be an update right after the Royal Rumble with a four-day delay. We definitely hope these things will be straightened out, well, rather have been already straightened out!
OUR RAW THOUGHTS
I really enjoyed Monday’s edition of RAW. Some people thought parts were boring, but the show commanded my attention for most of the night and the booking was strong: that’s really all these shows are supposed to accomplish individually. Why isn’t it a ten? Even with two strong feuds, I see two drawbacks: not everything was a homerun (more on that in a moment) and WWE surprisingly does not have as clear a direction going into WrestleMania that they usually do–which is usually their strongest showing all year, a possible sign of the skeletons that WWE is dealing with right now and internal problems that are going to either be resolved or blow up soon. Few more problems: Kane/Snitsky was a lackluster match and was in a horrible position on the show as main event (shame nobody cared); and putting Muhammad Hassan against Slaughter was a death sentence. I’m not worried for RAW through WrestleMania if they have a plan, because the execution will be fine.
Some of the problems I mentioned with regard to RAW go for Royal Rumble. It was a good show, but hardly memorable. I agree with Eddie on the quality of both the Rumble matches and the Edge/Michaels match, but at the same time the wrestling wasn’t at the level it should’ve been. As a follow up to people who saw New Year’s Revolution (did a good buyrate), that wasn’t good. I need to reiterate that this company cannot lose its PPV audience or else the books on the company are closed (no matter what ratings they do on Monday night, see Monday Nitro). I’d give the show a 7 out of 10. WWE has done a good job this year promoting PPVs, but now they need to concentrate on delivering as well. They have the talent, and more polished wrestlers than TNA, so if TNA can do it: so can WWE. WWE employees needs to spend some time thinking after WrestleMania about the direction they want their promotion to take.
I have to agree with Trevor by saying that despite the huge bulk of negative feedback online, this past week’s edition of RAW was an enjoyable show. The booking on the program remained strong where it should have remained strong, and the wrestling wasn’t all that bad either. There’s a few things here and there that need to be fixed, but I guess in today’s WWE, you simply can’t have a perfect showing. The Kane/Snitsky angle now seems like a sitcom within a show. Many people are starting to enjoy the angle simply because Snitsky is that bad, and because Kane is just putting up with it by this point in time. Placing it as the main event was certainly not that smart a decision, but on the other hand, WWE was working on creating an “environment of hype” last night, so its stipulation landed it in the main event. I also give them credit for coming up with something creative in the cage match (usage of the steel door) that we haven’t seen before. It was also a spot that allowed the fans to at least TRY to get into this bout. Another negative on the show was the obvious lack of long-term direction. Everyone and everything should be focused on Batista. Instead WWE is currently having several people get in Triple H’s business (as Trevor pointed out to me recently), which is not good. This shows the lack of direction on the program, as well as the obvious lack of heels. And when your second best heel, Edge, is after your very top heel as well, then things get complicated. Another example of poor booking ahead of time is the fact that with less than two months left before WrestleMania, WWE has absolutely no idea what to do with Randy Orton, which is a crime.
The Batista/JBL swerve was hated by me the second it took place because I thought that WWE is just going to kill the push of Big Dave by playing him as a fool, and portraying Triple H as the mastermind. Although they did do the latter, later in the program, they saved the entire storyline and turned it into a neutral ordeal by having Dave show he’s not a fool – his laughter when he was sent to the back during H’s match. In other notes, we don’t need to have a 10-minute Triple H promo after every one of his PPV wins. I felt that this show should have opened up with Batista instead. I also thought that Mohammad Hassan was wasted this past week, but although that may be the case, he got a win, which was the idea after all. In another one to go under “neutral,” Benoit and Jericho will have no doubt a great match in Japan, but their storylines as of right now seems silly and unnecessary, since nobody has made us care about it. Overall, a very strong show.
OUR SMACKDOWN THOUGHTS
A lazy effort from the Smackdown crew this week: all of the wrestling, including a surpising abomination of a match from Eddie Guerrero and Booker T, and all of the booking, with the exclusion of a smartly timed tournament, was, as most recent weeks have been, also inneffective. Smackdown looked tired, felt tired, and would’ve done itself better, weeks away from No Way Out, to run a best-of clips show. This show needs a new formula because right now it just isn’t working. The Booker heel turn was a nice way of further telling fans not to care about him, and this time, unlike with Maven, they are doing it with a guy who has talent (what did Booker do to earn Willie the Worker status?). WWE has yet to kill the last hope it has: Eddie Guerrero. John Cena’s not ready, nor is the viewing public for another effort like this.
This was not good at all. I didn’t like SmackDown this week, nor have I liked it for the past few weeks to begin with. WWE needs to consider an all-around change on Thursday nights. I couldn’t believe that was an Eddie Guerrero vs. Booker T match, as far as the main event is concerned. The two were very sloppy, and simply did not click. It has to be their worst performances in a long time, which is a downside. I like the idea of having a tournament to determine the #1 contender, but that was a very cheap way to get ‘Taker out of it. This is obviously headed towards Cena vs. Angle, which I talk about in the latest edition of Soundoff, over at TBL. Cena is not ready, and this is a horrible situation. The fans love him and give him a loud ovation every time he comes out. He gets a tremendous response overall, based on which he should get a title push, however, he’s not ready for it and I can see him fail miserably. Batista’s case is no different over on RAW, but since he’s been booked very well, for the time being there’s a lot of potential in him. Overall, bad show here. Again, they need a complete turn around.
THE WEEK IN NEWS
WEDNESDAY NEWS FIX
There was nothing of interest with the exception of one news item to report yesterday, so I skipped on an update. That means I’ll be pulling double duty today, so here we go!
The big story of yesterday was the RAW rating. The show scored a rather high rating of 4.1, above its average of 3.8, and more importantly managed to break the 4.0 barrier. This number is off of hours of 4.1 and 4.0, which isn’t good news, as fans tuned out, but it’s certainly still good news overall!
This could have also helped this week’s edition of Ultimate Fighter. The UFC show on SpikeTV did a 1.6 rating up by 0.2 from the score it did for the first two showings. This was also the show that featured the first real fight in the octagon, and the struggles MMA fighters go through with weight-loss before matches.
Speaking of UFC, all you MMA and UFC fans might be interested to know that Tito Ortiz has been offered a fight with Ken Shamrock at the 4/9 UFC huge special on SpikeTV.
Dr. James Andrews performed surgery on Vince McMahon yesterday in Birmingham. As it turns out, Vince’s injury was a quad problem, as Dr. Andrews reparied some torn tendons. Vince was said to be “pissed” backstage at the Rumble, as well as afterwards, due to the silly way all this happened.
The Minnesota Vikings have given up on Brock Lesnar, as a project, and have no intentions of sending him over to NFL Europe. I think this is when Brock realizes he made a huge mistake when he chose to leave WWE. I’m also sure we’ll see him back sooner, rather later.
In another note on Lesnar, he’s said to be out of shape right now, and has put on a few pounds since his appearance at the Inoki show in Japan. As several sources have put it, he’s “not in WWE shape.”
>From the Where Are They Now files, Rico replaced D-Lo Brown earlier today at an All Japan event, and ended up winning the tag team titles with Bull Buchanan.
Triple H has a press conference scheduled for tomorrow at the Tokyo Dome Hotel, where he will promote Blade: Trinity, as well as the WWE TV Tapings there.
For those of you who liked the WrestleMania 21 commercial with Eugene, look out for a new one with Triple H and Ric Flair which is to air soon on TV. In it, the duo spoofs Braveheart and Shrek. The commercial is supposed to be really funny.
The cast of Surreal Life is doing The View on February 10. Joanie Laurer should be there, but a possibility of her missing the show exists as of this writing.
THURSDAY NEWS FIX
Doug Herzog is officially the new president of SpikeTV. Herzog, who is also president of Comedy Central, has been in charge of the USA channel in the past (right after WWE stopped airing). He will continue to work for Comedy Central, while he takes on his new role at SpikeTV. In a very interesting quote from Variety, “Execs say a decision on the future of its WWE wrestling franchise is imminent.” I will keep you updated on this important news item, as it develops.
Lex Luger pleaded guilty on charges of steroid possession of May 2003, earlier today. His DUI was not counted against him this time, but another arrest might put him in prison. He was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, five years of probation, and submission of regular drug testing. Sad.
A lot of people have asked me when The Dudley Boyz will make their return to WWE. The “best tag team in WWE history” will be making their return at an OVW Show on February 9.
For those of you who missed it, the following men wre announced as a part of the 2005 Class of WWE Hall of Fame Inductees:
Cowboy Bob Orton
All I have to say is Dave Meltzer doesn’t have to worry about the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame remaining the most prestigious and recognized one in professional wrestling. To be fair, they didn’t announce the major names that will participate in the ceremony.
In an interview for Betweentheropes.com, Rob Van Dam said that he will be out for a very long time due to his torn ACL. He suggested buying his DVD for all those that miss him badly. He also mentioned that this is the first time he’s ever had to have surgery, which for an athelete who’s wrestled the matches he’s wrestled, is amazing in my opinion. He was asked about the ECW PPV that WWE is rumored to be doing this year, and said they haven’t come up with an official date, but he hopes they hold things off until he comes back.
Triple H will be on “The Bernie Mac Show” on March 11, as he will be the victim of a prank phone call made by Bernie’s nephew, Jordan. That kid is getting to do something we’ve all dreamed of in one point of our lives.
In Alex Marvez’s latest interview, Jimmy Hart notes that Hulk Hogan has been negotiating with WWE about a WrestleMania 21 appearance. Hart says that although Hogan has all the money he needs, and although he’s working harder than ever with his daughter, he still loves the wrestling business, which drives him to be a part of it. You can read the whole interview HERE.
WWE.com has added the histories of the Lightheavyweight and European Championships to their Title History section. There’s plenty of mistakes in the little blurbs, which I find funny. You can find it HERE.
Matt Hardy has completed his first commentary over at his official site http://thematthardy.com/. He mentions that he’s now at a 100% and is ready to return to TV. He teases a timeframe for his return of early March.
Tito Ortiz is back to playing shady games with UFC officials and fans. (Or should I say, some things never change?) Although he’s been saying he has agreed to a fight with Ken Shamrock on 4/9 (a Live special on SpikeTV), he hasn’t confirmed that with UFC management. That way he is able to put pressure on them to sign him, since he’s hyping the match in interviews. There is also the little detail, that his contract expires with this Saturday’s show.
Speaking of which, here’s the card for the live show this Saturday on PPV:
– Paul Buentello vs. Justin Eilers
– Evan Tanner vs. David Terrell for the vacant UFC middleweight title
-Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovsky for the UFC interim heavyweight title
– Phil Baroni vs. Pete Sells
– Tito Ortiz vs. Vitor Belfort
In an interesting note, the show, live from Las Vegas, is already sold out, although the major stars aren’t on this one.
Tickets for UFC 52 (Couture vs. Liddel… Ultimate Fighter TV show clash?) go on sale this Sunday at noon in Las Vegas. The show will take place at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Q & A
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