THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
With the end of the year fast approaching, and we in Britain only getting best of shows for the remainder of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the five best and five worst things about WWE this past year. Starting with the worst, and beginning with 5, and working our way up to 1;
5: Another Diva Search
When the WWE announced that they would be holding another Diva Search contest this year, fans around the world let out another collective groan. For weeks on end we were submitted to awful segments on Raw in which various bimbos underwent tasks such as Sgt. Slaughters boot camp assault course thingy. After what seemed like an eternity, those who actually cared voted in favour of Ashley Massaro, a woman who shows an incredible lack of charisma. Say what you want about Christy Hemme, but that little sparkplug showed tons of energy and personality, and put in the right situation, she was really starting to shine.
4: More Roster Cuts
The powers-that-be in the WWE certainly seem to know more about wrestling than we mere mortals. Once again, in a “cost cutting” exercise, a staggering array of talent that any promoter in the world would be proud of were released into the wild. Names like Charlie Haas, Rhino, Christian, Gail Kim, Molly Holly, the Dudley Boys, Yoshihiro Tajiri and more were released from their contracts, which left many fans and writers scratching their heads wondering why these talented grapplers were released, while wrestlers such as Tyson Tomko, Gene Snitsky and Viscera were still plying their trade week in and week out. However, it seems that for the most part WWE’s loss is going to be TNA’s gain.
3: Jim Ross Gets Fired
There have been many great play-by-play men in the wrestling business. Men like Lance Russell, Gordon Solie and Mike Tenay are regarded as professors of the business, and the name of Jim Ross is right up there with them. But this year, Ross’ reign as the WWE’s premier commentator came to an end. This past October, Ross was fired live on television by the McMahons, with the matriarch of the family, WWE CEO Linda McMahon, again showing what a great actress she is by delivering a low blow. Of course, many say this happened because Ross had to undergo colon surgery. But once again the creative team stepped over the line and made fun of Ross’ surgery. Portraying the role of Dr. Heiney, Vince McMahon appeared in a sketch pulling various objects out of the backside of a dummy with Ross’ face on it, while sound bites from the great man himself played. For many, this overlong segment went way too long.
2: Tim White Commits Suicide
In an all-out attempt to promote the Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Randy Orton at Armageddon, the WWE tried to portray just how brutal a match it could be by showing some of the greatest moments this gimmick match has seen, including the bumps that Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Rikishi took off the top of the cage. During the pay-per-view itself, they also tried to show the effect it had on the referees as well. Former WWE referee Tim White, who was injured during a Triple H v Chris Jericho Cell match in 2002, was interviewed by Josh Matthews in his Friendly Tap bar. Downing shots and beers, White told Matthews how the match ruined his life, how his family and friends had left him, and of his health problems. After threatening Matthews with a shotgun, White then walked out of the view of the camera, and a gunshot was heard, with the implication that White had killed himself. A skit in extremely poor taste, numerous fans thought this was for real, as the local police were called to White’s bar, and they pried the door off it’s hinges and went in search of White’s body. White later had to make a formal statement to the police.
1: Eddie Guerrero
There is no doubt in my mind that the Eddie’s passing is not just the worst thing to happen to the WWE this year, but to the wrestling industry as a whole. Having conquered his personal demons, Eddie went on to win the WWE title, and looked set to enjoy another reign as champion after Batista went down with a back injury. But sadly, the battle with the demons had an after-effect, and just one month ago, Eddie collapsed and died in his hotel room prior to a television taping. Eddie was one of those guys in the wrestling business who you hardly ever heard a bad word about, and you could see that during the Raw and Smackdown tribute shows in the days after his death. Guys who were normally portrayed as monsters in the ring were reduced to tears on camera when they paid their respects to a great man.
And now, the best;
5: The Draft Lottery
After last year’s Draft Lottery was a one-night affair, the creative team decided to turn things up a notch by drawing out the drama over the space of several weeks. Last year, ham-and-eggers switched brands, but this year was different. From the first night’s draft of John Cena to Raw, to the final night’s draft of Batista to Smackdown, the Draft Lottery proved to be even more successful than the year before, with major players such as Rob Van Dam, Carlito and others changing their work schedule, and shaking things up a great deal on both rosters, creating new feuds and matches that both brands needed.
4: Triple H
I think it’s safe to say that a lot of you out there aren’t Triple H fans. It seems that wherever you go, be it on the internet or in various magazines and fanzines, you’ll find experts on the mat game criticising Triple H, saying that he hogs the limelight, that he only keeps his much cherished position on the roster because he’s a McMahon by marriage. But if this year has shown anything, it’s shown that while Triple H still considers himself a star, he’s also a star making. Batista’s jump to Smackdown and showdown with JBL showed this, and despite Ric Flair’s advancing years, Triple H made the Nature Boy look like a million dollars. With programs with both the Big Show and John Cena on the horizon, Triple H looks as strong as ever in the ring, and is apparently on afraid to put people over.
3: Shawn Michaels v Kurt Angle
When the seeds for this series were sown at the Royal Rumble this past January, grappling fans around the world were salivating at the prospect of these two going at it in the ring, although a great number of people were cautious about how good this match could be, given the past health problems of Michaels and the apparent current health problems of Angle. But beginning at Wrestlemania, and continuing throughout the year, the Michaels/Angle rivalry made for classic viewing, and while their first encounter is difficult to surpass, you know that each time these two step in the ring with each other you’re going to get something special.
2: Joey Styles
While we lamented the loss of Jim Ross and the promotion of Jonathan Coachman to the lead announce position, ECW’s One Night Stand pay-per-view showed that Ross’ best replacement was virtually right under the WWE’s nose. The performance of Joey Styles that night was like a breath of fresh air compared to Ross’ recent performances, and any performance by Michael Cole. A few months later Styles was calling the shots at Taboo Tuesday, and becoming the lead announcer on Raw a few weeks later, having inked a five year deal, making Ross’ departure less and less painful.
1: ECW Nostalgia
To say that Paul Heyman’s brainchild had an effect on the wrestling business would be a drastic understatement. Following the release of The Rise and Fall of ECW, one of the biggest selling wrestling DVDs of all-time, the WWE went one step further and put on a one-time only pay-per-view, One Night Stand, bringing together some of the biggest stars who ever competed for ECW at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. Well, when I say the biggest stars who ever competed for ECW, I meant those who weren’t under contract to TNA. With Heyman at the helm, we were taken back a few years as the likes of the Sandman, the Dudleys, Tommy Dreamer, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Lance Storm and more showed us just what ECW was about, and not even the storyline involving Raw and Smackdown stars voicing their dislike for all things ECW could dampen the proceedings.
Well, that’s your lot for this column. I’m sure a great number of you will disagree with my views here, and some of you are probably wondering why the hell the Muhammad Hassan terrorist angle from Smackdown wasn’t included in my Worst list. Let’s just say it was bubbling under.
To end, may I just wish a Merry Christmas to all of my readers, and to remind you all to make your nominations in the fifth annual Two Sheds Review awards. Details on how to do this are below.
ANNOUNCING THE 2005 TWO SHEDS REVIEW WRESTLING AWARDS
December 7th, Cromer, England
The Two Sheds Review Wrestling Awards is now in it’s fifth year, and for the first time you have the chance to make your nominations and cast your votes!
Over the next few weeks, you, the reader of one of the Internet’s most established wrestling columns can make your nominations in the following categories;
WWE WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
WWE DIVA OF THE YEAR
WWE TAG-TEAM OF THE YEAR
WWE MATCH OF THE YEAR
NON-WWE/INTERNATIONAL WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
NON-WWE/INTERNATIONAL DIVA OF THE YEAR
NON-WWE TAG-TEAM OF THE YEAR
NON-WWE MATCH OF THE YEAR
WRESTLING SHOW OF THE YEAR
PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
WRITER OF THE YEAR
WRESTLING WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
This year, because I have decided to open the voting up to you, the readers, I have dispensed with the British wrestling categories. However, you can still nominate for your favourite British stars and promotions in the Non-WWE/International categories.
HOW THE VOTING WORKS
Nominations in each of the categories can be made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, with TWO SHEDS REVIEW AWARDS in the subject box. Nominations must be in by Friday, January 6th.
Then, the five entrants with the most nominations in each category will go forward to a final vote, which will be held on The Two Sheds Review website at www.twoshedsreview.com. Final voting will end on Tuesday, January 31st.
For the first time ever, this is your chance to vote in these awards. Don’t waste your opportunity! Vote now!