Some actual good coming from the English FA?

Wow, again, miracles DO happen.

First, England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has been pushing the English FA for them to institute a two-week winter break, which would happen right after the FA Cup 3rd round (or maybe it was the 4th round, one of the two). This can only do the game good...these guys play so many games (especially the top teams, who usually advance deep into the Cups, and only compounded if they make a Champions' League run, too). This works in Germany, Italy, even Scotland...so, why not do it in the best league in the world? Not only will this make the games at the end of the season that much more entertaining (and perhaps cut down on injuries too), but it'll give English teams that much more of a level playing field in the later stages of the Champions' League and the UEFA Cup. They need to do this YESTERDAY.

Also, they've decided that starting this June, any team that gets put into financial administration will be docked 9 points in the league standings. This is entirely sensible and logical, which I guess explains why it took them this long to implement it. There are too many teams using a George Bush-esque method to their financial dealings, and it's even worse when you factor in the loyal fans (and the histories of the clubs) who are unfairly subjected to this. Hopefully, this will be a real deterrent to irresponsible fiancial behavior, and hopefully the entire league will benefit as a result.

I never thought I'd type this in this space, but well done to the English FA!

The 1/29/04 Swift Smackdown Report

This was a good Smackdown, but I would have traded this for a chance to watch the Montreal - Minnesota game tonight. I listened on the radio from about 5:00 left in the third period on, and it was just one shot of adrenaline after another for the entire time. To put it into wrestling terms, it felt like I had fast-forwarded to the last segment of a classic mid-90s All-Japan encounter. Montreal, playing the part of Mitsuharu Misawa, battered away at Dwayne Roloson's net with the ice-bound equivalent of big forearm smashes and Tiger Drivers, all the way until the whistle for overtime (playing the part of the "I no-sell your move, you no-sell mine, then we both go to the double-KO" spot). In OT, Minnesota (playing the part of a spunky Jun Akiyama or Yoshinari Ogawa) fought back with everything they had, trying to put the superior opponent away. Finally, with just seconds left until the time limit expires, Montreal came up with the Tiger Driver '91(or the Emerald Frosion, take yer pick) from the stick of Richard Zednik. Awesome, awesome, awesome.


-- Chavo's promo was incredible. I mean, I liked him before, but I think having his father around just may have energized him to a new level. Really.

-- Rey Rey and Jamie Noble have the match that they should have been given the time to have on the PPV. The new slowed-down style is RIGHT in Noble's wheelhouse, as he can play to his strengths more than he even could as Jamie-San in WCW (how stupid was that, by the way? I mean, Jimmy Yang is American too, so what's the difference?). Anyway, Noble busts out the sophisticated matwork, and Rey Rey counters with the tricked-out lucha mat game. Noble wins that battle, though, taking a tilt-a-whirl into a Torture Rack variation. That is right about the time I MARKED THE FUCK OUT. Rey Rey counters with the lucha armdrag, and the speed vs. technique battle is on. Noble works the ribs a bit, taking a backbreaker into an awesome grounded abdominal stretch variation. For his part, Rey Rey does a fantastic job selling the back/ribs damage for the entire rest of the match. Rey gets the neat lucha-style cradle for 2, but Noble does a bow-and-arrow around the ringpost. Any submission move becomes 20 times cooler if you do it around the ringpost...it's true. Noble hits one of the sweetest superplexes I've seen in a while, but Rey comes back with his second-rope bulldog. Its weird seeing him do that move with his mask on, as he didn't really come up with that until he lost it. He's done it before, but I mark out every time Mysterio does the Code Red (one of The Amazing Red's signature moves, the really fast sunset flip powerbomb). Rey finally takes it when he springboards off the top rope into La Sillia for the win. That was an excellent TV match, AND, as an extra added bonus, the inane Nidia angle came to its' long-awaited conclusion. You bet your ass this is all good. (Rey Mysterio Jr. beat Jamie Noble, springboard La Sillia, 7:46)

-- Again, Chavo Jr. is cooler than most of the known world, as he pulls the "my hand wasn't just in the cookie jar" routine perfectly as they're carting Eddy away. Also, Rey Rey getting all spunky and kicking his ass was a nice touch, too.


-- Paul London tried, and Kidman wasn't so terrible this time around, but good lord...the Amnesia Twins just suck every match they're in right down to Mediocreville. London shows a Shannon Moore-esque willingness to die for our pleasure with the sick bump to the outside. He's also a good enough seller to add a little flavor to the Bashams' 100% bland offense. Kidman gets the hot tag, and he even showed a shade or two of his old WCW self. However, this "everyone does a spinebuster in the WWF" thing is getting ridiculous...I'd rather see Kidman go back to the Rydien Bomb as the setup to the Shooting Star (by the way, that's London's finish too. And, if they ever let him use it, Kidman's version is D.O.A. for the rest of time after that). But, take a wild guess how the Bashams win. No, really. It's how they've won every single match since they won the Tag Titles. I mean, I bought it when I was 8, and it was the Killer Bees pulling the ol' switcheroo. But, at least they had masks...this is just silly. Someone PLEASE get the belts off these guys, or get them a moveset, or SOMETHING. (Doug Basham/Danny Basham(win) beat Billy Kidman(loss)/Paul London, 3:44).

-- They weren't the worst ever or anything, but goddamn the backstage segments where people picked their numbers was as by-the-numbers as you can get. Ogle Dawn Marie? Check. Make stupid "balls" joke? Check. Something else happens with someone they're feuding with? Check. Actually, that last one is why they're up here...with so much of the show going to the Smackdown Rumble, they had to do something to keep all the various feuds going.

-- So, who's the boxing guy who obviously liked the haircut Ronaldo had during the World Cup?

-- I'm very curious to see if Owen Wilson can hang with the vastly-superior talent around him in that new caper movie coming out (you know, the one whose title completely eludes me at the second).

-- Rue DeBona is hot, but she talks like a robot.

-- You know, that show about the video game characters is an intriguing concept, to say the least. However, even despite seeing half the pilot in that LONG-ASS commercial, I still don't know if they're going to pull off the actual execution of said intriguing concept.

-- There was a lot of good individual work in the Smackdown Rumble, but it goes down here for the same reason that the Smackdown Iron Man match would have if I had been doing my reports during that time -- it just isn't suited for the normal television medium. You're just getting into the match, and all of a sudden, here's another long commercial break. To me, it kills the momentum, and it's frustrating. (Eddy Guerrero wins a 15-man Royal Rumble, 35:16 [minus commercials] aired).

Since the match as a whole is down here, a special section for this week:


-- Kurt Angle. Although I worry about his general health, it was an absolute stroke of genius to have him come in at # 1. He busts his ass every time out, and he really made this whole thing tick.

-- That Gore from Rhino on Angle early. Great stuff.

-- While it was kinda contrived that Haas was # 3 and Benjamin was # 4, I really liked the interplay between the former Team Angle and Angle himself. Also, I think I'm even more impressed that the history was at least touched upon by the announce team. They've been doing a great job on the continuity front lately.

-- Angle sneaking up on people with German Suplexes reminded me a lot of No Mercy strategy for the Nintendo 64.

-- I'm not a Bradshaw fan, but goddamn, the fucking guy can throw one hell of a Lariat.

-- Tajiri kicking Lamont's head off is one of the best Rudo moments in a long, long time.

-- Speaking of that, The Cat's offense is so comically bad, it's entertaining...after a fashion.

-- Billy Gunn eliminated nobody, if I remember correctly. Works for me...I don't want to be subjected to Futile Billy Gunn Mega-Push # 87.

-- This Rumble is the second match in a row where the Big Show has really played to his strengths, and worked very hard in doing so. If he can somehow translate this to his singles matches, and if they ever have him defend the US Title (why yes, it does still exist!), I can envision myself tolerating him a lot more.

-- I'm glad they didn't have Cena stick around too long...it'd be horrible if he injured himself to the point where he'd need time off, right when he's more popular than he's ever been. Smackdown NEEDS a healthy-as-possible Cena to continue its' recent improvement, I think.

-- Let the Hopefully Not Futile Eddy Guerrero Mega-Push # 1 begin.

-- Rikishi worked his (considerable) ass off this time around. If he never discovered the Stinkface, and went back to the Fire Thunder Driver as his finisher, he'd be one of my favorite big men ever (coming from someone who usually prefers the cruiserweight style of wrestling).

-- Hardcore Holly didn't stick around too long, which is fine with me. If they wanted him to get a fluke win over the Big Show for the US Title, that's one thing. But, this "Hardcore Holly: Main Event Threat" thing has to go.

-- The Eddy vs. Angle final segment was gold from start to finish. Great wrestling, great near-falls (or, more accurately, near-eliminations), and an exciting finish made this almost as cool as the end of the real Royal Rumble this past weekend.

-- Eddy getting pushed to the top + Chris Benoit getting pushed to the top = The WWF's stock HURTLING upwards in my estimation.


-- Vince McMahon comes out. Fast-forward saves me 7 minutes of my life. Look, I know it's not professional for a recapper to refuse to watch something, but if you've seen a million McMahon promos and they've all sucked, the chances are pretty astronomical that the million-and-first is going to be watchable, right?

-- Of all the dumb premises for a movie, "The Perfect Score" just may be up there among the dumbest. Fuck's sake, the SATs were NOT THAT HARD. Erika Christensen is quickly becoming the "hottest actress who refuses to show something" out there, now that Katie Holmes did "The Gift". So, wake me when she does, will ya?

-- I had blocked Chyna's Playboy spread out of my mind...thanks a lot, Smackdown. I needed to be reminded of that I like need my throat slit.

-- Great. I suppose my life wasn't complete until I saw Rey Mysterio Jr.'s music video. Since they own the WCW archives, why not dig out Konnan's video, and the Disco Inferno's, too? Then, to truly convince me that maybe someone HAS slit my throat, and I'm in the worst ring of hell, they can have Carson Daly guest-star and make a whole "Wrestling TRL" segment out of it. Fucking hell, I'd rather have this cold for the next five years. Really.

-- Brock Lesnar tries, but even he can't do a single thing with the vortex of suck known as Orlando Jordan. Yeah, keep Kanyon on Velocity, and have this chode up on the A-show. Brilliant. (Brock Lesnar beat Orlando Jordan, Brock Lock, 4:21). Interestingly, Taz can't call it properly when Brock uses the Tazmission for, well, most of the middle of the match. So, let me get my Joey Styles out of the way: "OH MY GOD! The Kata-Hajime! The Tazmission!". OK, I feel better.

-- I think it's great that the WWF has their guys visiting military hospitals and stuff. But, putting it on TV smacks of patting yourself on the back a TAD too hard, I think.


New links...

...OK, ITVR people. Is that everyone?


Miracles DO happen!

Sky Sports News reports that Celtic sieve...err...I mean goalkeeper Magnus Hedman has fucked off to Ancona on loan for the rest of the season. Excellent. Now all Martin has to do is work out who he's going to on a permanent basis, and I'll REALLY be happy.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, kid.


The 1/26/04 Swift Raw Report

So yeah, coming off of last night, I was always going to be a thousand times more lenient than usual. But, then they come up with a pretty goddamn good show, which is nice to see after a major PPV. CHRIS~! BENOIT~!


-- So, is Jericho a face now? I hope so. It seems a bit abrupt, but hey, it's the right thing to do. Eric Bischoff continues to be awesome...I actually loved the idea behind forcing him to use his favor in a way he didn't want to. THAT is how you play an asshole authority figure.

-- The 3-on-2 opening match was very intriguing...instead of the usual tag formula, the first six minutes were all the babyfaces dominating Evolution. Randy Orton in particular took quite a beating, but this all works. They're seemingly building Jericho up to be a top face again, and as the announcers mentioned, Orton wrestled for over 30 minutes last night (he was very much the Raw MVP of the entire show, HHH and HBK included). The transition to the heel offense with a nice spinebuster on the outside by Batista (if he's only going to use four moves, may as well use them in cool ways), heading to commercial with the awesome visual of Evolution stalking RVD like a wolfpack. We come back to RVD screwing up a simple inside cradle, but it's all good. Evolution decide to killify RVD's arm, and it's all fun. Batista comes in, and oh my my, he does a hammerlock. It's real simple and basic, but hey...it's move # 5! Congratulations! RVD, meanwhile, is perfectly OK selling the arm when it's actually being worked on, but when he does his hope-spot offense, it's completely forgotten. He then catches Ric Flair's leg with the arm that's been worked on, with not even a grimace. Good lord. Meanwhile, Jericho's extended selling of the spinebuster makes the hot tag that much more meaningful, and business picks up again when he's in. Batista comes back in, and it's so painfully obvious how out of his league he is here. At the very least, he did his part halfway decently during that DDT counter that Jericho did. The finishers sequence was neat, even if Jericho didn't get up for the RKO in time (thus making Orton look completely silly...however, that seemed like it was all Jericho's doing to me). Evolution wins it, which makes perfect sense...the handicapped party should NEVER win a handicap match. That said, this did more to put over Jericho than anything else, and it helps Orton as well. So, while there was a blown spot here and there, giving Jericho, Orton, and Flair 17 minutes (oh, and those other guys too, I guess) will always ensure something halfway-decent, and this was even a notch or two above that. Good, good stuff here. (Ric Flair/Randy Orton/Dave Batista(win) beat Chris Jericho(loss)/Rob Van Dam, Orton RKO, 17:12.)

-- Orton's backstage promo after the match was awesome. I know I've said it already, but it bears repeating -- this guy has ARRIVED. Austin's bit wasn't offensive either, so this segment definitely works.

-- They're finally moving forward with this Jericho/Trish angle...they were kinda spinning their wheels for a while there, so this is a good sign. Oh, and Christian continues to reek of awesomeness. The eventual match between these two is going to be awesome as long as they don't Royal Rumble it in terms of the time they get.

-- As for the match itself, well, was this Introduction to the Opposites or what? Lita was vastly improved from previous weeks, while Jazz fucks up taking a simple sunset flip. Victoria pretty much cements her standing as the second-best women's wrestler in the WWF with an awesome standing moonsault, and her very capable selling job as face-in-peril. Molly CHEATS TO WIN (or, to transition, at least), and then the two rudos handle the beatdown section very well. As noted before, Lita is somewhat better after she gets the hot tag, but good goddamn, she needs to learn how to throw a dropkick, or just stop using it. The headscissor takeover and the psuedo-Blue Thunder thing were better, though. Lita and Jazz brawl on the outside, and Victoria gets the flash pin out of a suplex counter. That makes it two on the trot against Molly now, and this is setting up an actual title match very nicely (with a finish that's unpredictable, but not just for the sake of being shocking). I had this pegged at ambivalent for most of the way, but on second thought, this really was pretty good. (Victoria(win)/Lita beat Molly Holly(loss)/Jazz, small package, 5:55). It's nice to see the ladies get more than the three-minute special they're usually stuck with.

-- The pop Benoit got when he came out onto the ramp. FUCK YEAH! BEN-OIT! BEN-OIT! BEN-OIT! I liked the HHH promo to begin with, I liked the HHH-HBK confrontation after that, but Benoit showing up almost puts this into a whole other degree of good. Oh, and let's get this right out of the way...for all who immediately assume that HHH is going to squash him at Mania, I ask you this: How many Royal Rumble winners have they immediately abandoned with no title win or anything like that? It'd be interesting to see what Rumble winners have gone on to do before, at, and immediately after Mania.

-- Bischoff and Heyman maneuvering against each other will be nothing but fun, I think.

-- I thought Jim Ross was REALLY on tonight, for whatever reason.

-- The two drunk guys in the crowd who did Rene Dupree's goofy-ass French dance while the match was going on. That was fantastic...I rewound and watched it five or six times.

-- The segment with Mick Foley and Orton at the end was fucking fantastic, and it goes to show that the WWF can really knock an angle out of the park when they really set their mind to it.


-- Wait a minute! The women's match on Heat was non-title? The fuck? And she's a face now? Quoi?

-- Wow, HHH has graced us with his presence on Raw! What's the special occasion (and, keep this in mind, this is coming from someone who is an unrepentant HHH fan).

-- The only way the WWF show in Osaka can possibly work is if they somehow have a run-in from Ebessan. Other than that, no dice. Sorry. If they ever went full-boat and ran Keiji Mutoh/Ebessan vs. Hurricane/Rosey in a "first to hit the Shining Wizard" match, I would order the tape if it cost me half my soul to do so.

-- Kane vs. Bubba Ray wasn't too terribly offensive...it would have been even further north in the report if there had been a single move in it that wasn't a punch. The DQ ending is fine, as they're trying to position Kane as an unstoppable monster. Also, this feud will give the Dudleys something to do other than be Tag Team Champions for the kajillionth time. Works for me. (Bubba Ray Dudley beat Kane, DQ [shot with the ringsteps], 2:21).

-- Rico vs. Rob Conway sure was a pro wrestling match. Not horrible or anything, but if two guys pretend to fight and the crowd doesn't make a sound, did the match really happen? And, I'm not enough of a loser to put this up in the good cause you could see Jackie Gayda's breasts for 0.5 of a second. Sorry. (Rico beat Rob Conway, 3:18).

-- They may as well have just had Goldberg killify Coachman, but what the hell...I don't give a crap about Mark Henry either. Since he's probably gone after Mania anyway, I have no problem with Goldberg beating people I also dislike. Whatever...I'm just going to lean on the fast-forward anyway. (Goldberg beat Jonathan Coachman(loss)/Mark Henry, Jackhammer, 4:23).


-- The VCR I taped this on. Good goddamn, the video quality was SHITE.

-- Normally, I am all about Chris Jericho on the mike...but, one cheap shot at Howard Dean later, it ends up down here. Zip it, jabroni. (This is as political as I'll ever get in this thing, I promise).


The 2004 Swift(and Shaddax) Royal Rumble Report

THIS WAS THE GREATEST NIGHT IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SPORT. Chris Benoit won me two tapes, AND it’s something we’ve all been waiting for.


-- SS: The opening montage was rather silly, all told. But, Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble.

-- SS: Wow, the opening tag team match was terrible. DAVE gets all on the stick, and you know that can’t be good. Then, it was the usual table-match shite from two awful wrestlers, a totally decent wrestler, and Ric Flair stuck in the middle of all this. They kinda go through the motions, but at least we aren’t stuck with the seven zillionth Dudley Boyz Title Reign. (Ric Flair/Batista(win) beat Bubba Ray Dudley/D-Von Dudley, spinebuster through a table, 5:14)

Shaddax: It’s not a BAD match per se, but it’s so amazingly generic that three minutes post finish, you’ll have no idea what happened.

-- RVD’s talking to Mary Jane. Can I talk to her too? Please?

-- Rey Rey and Noble go out and have a pro wrestling match. Actually, the best way I could put it is that they have the best possible Velocity main event. The old WCW-style bulldog and the gutbuster from Noble were all that was notable, really. (Rey Mysterio Jr. beat Jamie Noble, Drop the Dime, 3:12). This was WAAAAAAY too short, but who cares? Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble.

Shaddax: Another of those matches that’s all kinds of perfectly acceptable for what it is, but coming into a PPV -- you kind of want a bit more. I enjoyed it as far as it went, but three minutes? Neeeh. At the time this went on, I was expecting the main event to redeem it. In the event, that happened, but still.

-- The Guerrero vs. Guerrero showdown was horribly disappointing. So, with five minutes of stalling in the beginning, you’d think they’d get the 20 minutes they deserve, right? No, of course not! Instead, it just kind of lurches right into trading the triple-suplex spot, and then ends extremely abruptly…and with very little Chavo Sr. to boot. If things hadn’t gone as they did later in the night, this would have pissed me RIGHT the fuck off. But hey, Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble. (Eddy Guerrero beat Chavo Guerrero Jr., Frog Splash, 8:03) The post-match beatdown was kinda fun, but this was a highly unsatisfying end to a feud that WAS only just getting interesting.

Shaddax: Only thing I can think of here is this was a transitional match, because as a blow-off it makes no darn sense. Either Eddy gets Brock at NWO, or they do Chavo vs. Eddy II where either Chavo wins, or it’s gimmicked to hell. Fine for what it was but…it wasn’t what I wanted. Waaaay too short.

-- After all that build-up, Hardcore Holly, the man who strikes fear into Brock Lesnar AND the Big Slow, gets killified in extremely short order. At the very least, the powers that be realized that this was a foregone conclusion, and didn’t try to jerk us off too much with regards to making this a 20-minute epic or anything. It was kinda-sorta fun and all, especially with the delayed fisherman’s suplex, but other than that….whatever. Goddamn, did that finish come out of nowhere or what, though? (Brock Lesnar beat Hardcore Holly, F-5, 7:02)

Shaddax: It’s not a bad match- but it felt like the first 7 minutes of a good match rather then a 7 minute match. I have no beef with it; but at best it feels like a lead-in to a second match, rather then a blow-off. Finish from no where, rest hold s that set of nothing…it’s not BAD; but….it’s not what I hoped for. Story of the undercard of a good PPV saved by the main event.

-- I didn’t pay much attention to the Last Man Standing match while it happened…it’s what happens when you get your drink on, after a long weekend of partying. But, what I do remember was that it was a halfway-decent brawl, highlighted by HBK hitting 0.5 Muta or so. Other than that, it was pretty good, though the finish absolutely licks my nuts. It’s a major PPV…unless you’re going BROADWAY~!, then I don’t wanna see any goddamn draws. (HHH draw HBK, neither man answered the bell, 22:44)

Shaddax: It’s the Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H match. It’s not bad at all. It’s a good match, and I enjoyed it, but where’s this going? I dunno. I have absolutely no complaints with it, but I am left somehow unfulfilled. One of those cases of excellent execution of a somewhat dubious initial concept.

-- BENOIT WINS~! BENOIT WINS~! BENOIT WINS~! Greatest Rumble since Flair winning, without a doubt. Other highlights: Randy Orton was awesome in his first Royal Rumble, Benoit taking out Bradshaw, Spike fooling Kane into getting eliminated, THE CAT~!, MICK~! FOLEY~!, Nunzio hanging out on the outside (intelligence!), Kurt eliminating The World’s Worst Wrestler, Big Slow tapping three times, and…did I mention? BENOIT WINS~! BENOIT WINS~! BENOIT WINS~! (Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble, 61:34)

Shaddax adds: Hey, that was all kinds of fun. Right guy won, natch, both in terms of absolute wrestling ability, and in terms of storyline progression. A lot of fun, made all the right guys look good, and generally didn’t do anything wrong a’tall except for the excessive Matt Morgan stay and the Big Show as second to last man out deal (and I drew him of all people in our board’s draw, so I say that with chagrin.) Saved a lot of the show in the end, and while I certainly don’t walk away from the whole thing with the warm fuzzies that the match list might have engendered, I regard it as a definite positive. Fun times, with or without the gathering of people.


-- SS: Nothing. Not a single fucking thing. Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble.


-- SS: Nothing. Not a single fucking thing. Except MAYBE Matt Hardy getting eliminated by that jerkoff Matt Morgan, but then again, Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble. It would be most churlish of me to complain about ANYTHING outside of that.


The 1/22/04 Swift Smackdown Report

This is where I usually say something witty and hilarious by way of an introductory paragraph. For this week's Smackdown, said paragraph will consist of nothing but filler text, cause I got nothin' this time around. Yup. Filler filler filler filler filler text. EDDY~!


-- The guy in the front row on the off-camera side wearing the Curry Man shirt. "I'm hot, I'm spicy, I taste great...Curry Man is ICHIBAN!!!"

-- The hat that Chavo Sr. is wearing in the chyron for his match later tonight. Is that guy a fucking pimp or what?

-- Rey Rey vs. Chuck Palumbo was surprisingly all kinds of fun. The brain-dead jackass that wrote the spoilers for 411 said Palumbo won, so I was kinda pissy about this match since reading that. However, this was a perfectly fine speed vs. power matchup, and I'm all about the FBI as hired guns. Anyway, both guys go for big moves too early, and pay for it (I'm a mark for those spots...it's what SHOULD happen when you go for a powerbomb 20 seconds in). Chuck hits a wicked backdrop suplex, and I'm digging this match. It kinda gets a little hesitant after that, but then they come up with the springboard moonsault caught, then countered into a reverse DDT spot, and that would get it up here even if the rest was a Jackie Gayda match. Rey gets the win, but then the FBI beats him down in a fashion right after my rudo-loving heart. I'm fine with all of this. (Rey Mysterio Jr. beat Chuck Palumbo, sunset flip, 5:14)

-- Kurt/Chavo/Chavo backstage was entertaining and neat.

-- I actually remember that Jake the Snake/Honky Tonk Man match from 1987. Ahhh, memories. These retro segments they do are awesome, and I wish they'd do them before Summerslam and Survivor Series too.

-- Cena returned WAY back into form with his rap tonight.

-- The 3-on-2 match was a good time. Now, I normally hate the forklift routine, but making it 3-on-2 (and considering one is only Matt Morgan, more like 2 1/2 vs. 2), AND taking the Big Slow out of the match works on every possible level. What I like about this match is that the first 4 minutes or so are almost completely even, with both sides getting the offensive momentum every now and then. The usual tag formula is what works best, but I hate it when they go right into the heat segment after about 30 seconds. This way just makes more sense to me...anyway, Cena is the first face-in-peril, and both Lesnar and Rhino are fun during the beatdown segments. Matt Morgan...well...I don't mind him when it's Chris Benoit kicking the shit out of him. Put him on offense, though, and the results aren't ever good. Rhino busts out the Goku-Raku-Gatame again, and I rejoice that it's become part of his regular moveset. Cena gets the hot tag at around 8:00, and it's KILLER BENOIT~!. He destroys Brock, then lets Rhino do the dirty work by sidestepping a Gore. Then, Morgan comes in, and he's completely clueless on how to feed a babyface a'fire. Yes friends, a guy who hasn't quite mastered the most basic of skills for a heel tag team, and HE IS ON THE A-SHOW WHILE ULTIMO DRAGON ISN'T. I hate this fucking promotion. Then, he looks back and calls out something, where it may as well be yellling out: "OK, Chris, you can German Suplex me now." This guy is in the same match with Benoit and Lesnar...I'm going to keep repeating it until I can somehow work that out in my head. Ten minutes in, Brock is saved from the Crippler Crossface, and he decides he's had enough. Hardcore Holly makes an apperance, and the expected pull-apart brawl occurs. However, the bestest spot of that whole thing was Fit Finlay's perfect amateur takedown on Holly to keep the two separated. Damn, I wish that guy could still wrestle. Then again, I wish half their road agents could still wrestle. Anyway, we go to commercial, and come back to Benoit as face-in-peril. It's just Rhino and Morgan on the other side, but luckily, they keep that useless stiff on the apron for most of it. Rhino hits the Gore, but Cena saves. Good, they've overused him missing it as a transition anyway. Morgan comes in, and misses two elbowdrops. He actually remembers to react the second time, so it's nice to see he's making some progress. Benoit gets the hot tag after the WORLD'S GREATEST ENZIGUIRI, and now it's Killer Cena. Not quite as cool as Killer Benoit, but I do like the Throwback and that downward elbow from the top. Rhino misses a Gore (well, of course he does), and Cena gets the F-U right after. Considering that this originally threatened to have Big Slow AND Matt Morgan, this was way better than anyone could have expected. My only complaint is that with Morgan right there, Rhino has no business being the one to lose the match. It amazes me how little talent goes when the other guy is two or three inches taller. (John Cena(win)/Chris Benoit beat Rhino(loss)/Matt Morgan, F-U, 15:36 aired). The rest of this is DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN THERE.

-- Kurt Angle can get any possible story over, I think. Adding him to the Guerrero vs. Guerrero feud was SUCH a stroke of genius...not only do I think he's transferred some of his heat onto the whole thing, his promo greatness helps get the story over, too. Add in Chavo Sr., and this whole thing is 100% gold.

-- I was skeptical about the 3-on-2 not being the main, but good goddamn was I ever wrong. The main was so good and so fun and so awesome. The rudos rule, and Kurt has no problems hanging with the lucha flavor of the match. You can tell this angle is a winner, as the fans are going NUTS during the opening matwork, and only get more into proceedings from there. Chavo Sr. comes in to trade holds with Kurt Angle, and I MARK THE FUCK OUT. Eddie comes in, and just like Kurt said, his temper costs his team. As I watch this, it occurs to me that possibly the best thing about all of this is it is just catapulting Chavo towards overness...before, he was just "that other Guerrero". Now, he's getting "Chavo sucks" chants. If they give these two a decent amount of time to do their thing, the Philly fans are gonna go apeshit for that match. Anyway, this is rolling along nicely, then something happens with Kurt's eye, apparently. I guess it's supposed to be how they're going to transition this to Eddy vs. Kurt sometime after the Rumble, but it kinda hurt the flow of this match. After that, Eddy is left 2-on-1 with the baddest rudos around, and quickly gets Frog Splashed and pinned. While it lasted, this was rocketing towards "Best Smackdown Match in Forever" territory. (Chavo Guerrero Sr./Chavo Guerrero Jr.(win) beat Eddy Guerrero(loss)/Kurt Angle, Frog Splash, 9:02). Give this 20 more minutes! Get Chavo Sr. on the active roster already!


-- I'm not putting this in the bad, because I'm used to it by now, but Vince's megalomania is really something to behold. And, he sure isn't afraid to utilize revisionist history to cater to said mental affliction. He was the one to take wrestling into arenas, eh? I guess all those shows his father ran in Madison Square Garden didn't count. Or, is it just that MSG doesn't count as an arena? Hmmm...I honestly didn't know that those Harley Race and Ric Flair guys made all those title defenses in bingo halls. That's news to me. If I really wanted to be a jerk, I could point out that attendances to their shows are at a point where they don't need arenas most of the time. Semi-locally for me, I could swear that the WWF wouldn't even THINK of running the Mid-Hudson Civic Center back during the boom period of the late '90s. Now, they struggle to fill it. Just thought I'd point that out.

-- When I saw in the spoilers that Bradshaw was going to beat both Akio and Sakoda, I was already crafting the profanity-laden diatribe that I was going to grace this report with. However, outside of the opening sequence, this wasn't a case of Bradshaw completely squashing both guys (which is what I originally feared). Kyo Dai got some offense, and it was their turning on each other than allowed Bradshaw to win, so I can take this, I suppose. I won't exactly save the tape for posterity, but whatever. I'd love it if someone explained to me what the attraction was with Bradshaw, though...to me, he's simply Uninteresting Power Wrestler # 192,821...or the 1-calorie version of Stan Hansen. I miss Stan Hansen. (Bradshaw beat Akio(loss)/Sakoda, Clothesline from Hell, 2:46). My only beef is, why is it Akio that has to lose? He's the actual interesting one of the two...I've never seen Sakoda before this, but he just strikes me as Uninteresting Pseudo-Cruiserweight # 3,034.

-- As for the # 1 Billy Gunn moment, I don't know. I know nothing about the gay lifestyle, so I can't even begin to say whether that whole Billy and Chuck thing was handled in an semi-mature fashion or not. I'd lean towards not, but as I said, what the hell do I know?


-- Holy SHIT did UNC ever blow it against Florida State tonight. I am not amused.

-- I really dislike the song that plays as Smackdown starts..."The Beautiful People" was exponentially better.

-- Maybe I'm oversensitive, but the fact that a commercial featuring those stupid, vapid, model retards on a harness having the word "tragedy" in there while a wrestling show is on...Owen Hart is a tragedy. One of those idiots falling two feet because the thing is meant for someone above 45 pounds...that just mocks Owen's memory.

-- I hate to say it, but Tajiri vs. Kidman was disappointing and not all that good. Kidman himself looked terrible...I don't know what's caused this amazing downgrade from his WCW days, but the proof is right there for all to see. In particular, that part where Tajiri hit a roundhouse kick to the head, and Kidman just stood there, as if nothing had happened at all? Or, as if he was supposed to have ducked it or something? Awful, awful, awful. And, though I know it's got to be tough to get up for executing a missed Shooting Star Press, but there's about 150 guys in the indies who can make it look better at this point.I usually complain when the Cruiser matches get shortchanged for time, but I was kinda happy that they just took this home as soon as they could. (Yoshihiro Tajiri beat Billy Kidman, Kick of Death, 2:36)

-- By the way, I HATE it when they announce a Japanese guy as coming from "Japan". Is Yokohama THAT hard to say? Yo-ko-ha-ma.

-- Big Slow! Brock! Backstage promo! This is terrible! I love watching Brock wrestle, but his promo delivery leaves much to be desired (though I did laugh at the "I've gained 15 pounds" thing).

-- Remember when you'd play a Nintendo game, and there were, say, four characters to choose from? You'd pick one, but I always wondered...what were the other three doing during all this? Say it was like Teenage Mutant Ninjua Turtles...while you're whooping ass with Donatello, are the other three just eating pizza and flirting with April O'Neill? The point is, why is it that the only cruiserweights who get to have stories going are the ones actively involved in the next title defense? They go through all that trouble positioning Shannon Moore as a guy who isn't afraid to face down bigger guys, and that leads into...getting squashed by A-Train again. I even like A-Train, I think he's vastly improved from when he first started in the WWF, but ENOUGH WITH THIS SHIT ALREADY.On top of that, why is it that in every one of these matches, the first thing the smaller guy tries to do is trade punches with the big roid-addled behemoth? That kinda fucking insults my intelligence, actually. I swear, some 5'6" guy must have beaten up little Vincey and stolen his lunch money every day in 4th grade or something. (A-Train beat Shannon Moore, Derailer, 2:41). Shannon is such a great bumper and seller, I can see why they put him in this position. SOMEONE has to be enhancement talent. But, I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE matches where one guy doesn't get more than a move or two in. It's unrealistic, stupid, and insulting.

-- Err, guys? You are aware that you're making your half of the Rumble's main event a match with HARDCORE HOLLY in it, right? I mean, I like the guy, I was rooting for him to get an Intercontinental reign around 2000 or '01 or so, but come on, guys. Nobody is buying him as a threat to Lesnar. Having a foregone conclusion match to headline Smackdown is one thing, but this is a major PPV! I guess they don't want to run anything major while HBK-HHH is going on, as Vince prefers Raw to Smackdown. I hate Vince's entire outlook on wrestling.

-- Hey look! The Big Slow waddles down and gets to destroy two of the top faces on Smackdown! What an amazing effort, TOTALLY worthy of his paycheck! LOOK! HE'S FAT! Sign him for 10 more years!

-- Could the entrance theme for Kyo Dai be any more generic and boring?



I need something to post so I can get the link to BrewGuy's blog on here, so I shall say that Smackdown looks like it ABSOLUTELY SUCKS, once again.

Dammit. It used to be the good one, too.



I nodded off at 10 tonight, which is highly unusual for me...I'm quite the night owl. Anyway, my brother rousted me from the couch, and I went online to espn.com...only to find that the Canadiens hammered Philadelphia 4-1 tonight to stay 5 points behind Toronto for 1st in the entire Conference.

When I wake up, I'm going to be furious...this IS such a nice dream.

The 1/19/03 Swift Raw Report

The 1/19/04 Swift Raw Report

I'm hating wrestling (as well as life in general) these days, so if this is unnecessarily sarcastic and overly combative, that's why.


-- Unlike Smackdown, they at least announced the Rumble-based theme of the show beforehand, without some friggin' non-wrestler coming out every 30 seconds to bait-and-switch title matches and the like.

-- Before I forget, the Green Bay crowd was everything the Connecticut crowd wasn't last week. They've somehow puzzled it out that going to a wrestling show is supposed to be FUN, and being loud and vocal is usually a part of that territory.

-- The opening tag match was kinda fun, and it features the theme of Guys They Really Should/Should've Done More With (well, and Rob Van Dam). The two heels bump like crazy for RVD and Booker, and then it goes into the usual tag formula from there. Hardy and Christian are probably a better team than Jericho and Christian are, if only because Y2J is turning anyway. Besides, the tag division on Raw is SO DAMN BAD, they could do worse than to have these two be the top heel team. Hey look, the Unprettier got countered again! Anyway, the heat segment was fine (maybe coulda been longer), and again, Hardy makes RVD look like a million bucks. My only issue with this is the kinda-contrived finish (Booker gets both with a double-ax kick when they go down for a double-backdrop on RVD), but what the hell? This was a perfectly fine tag team match, and anything else is just nitpicking, really. (Booker T/RVD(win) beat Matt Hardy(loss, of fucking course)/Christian, Five-Star Frog Splash, 6:05)

-- I was kind of wavering where to put the Jericho/Dupree match. I mean, Y2J held up his end of the bargain as usual, of course. But, oddly enough, Dupree wasn't too offensive, coming up with a Death Valley Driver that, well, is at least better than John Cena's. But, the deal was sealed when Jericho busted out a picture-perfect Jumping High Kick, and thus it goes up here...that's the rules. Borrowing from Toshiaki Kawada = good, no exceptions. Oh, and someone tapped to the Walls for the first time in, errr...probably since the last time the Super Bowl was interesting. Have to say I was surprised with this one, although I wouldn't place many bets on the next La Resistance match being any good or anything. (Chris Jericho beat Rene Dupree, Walls of Jericho, 4:35).

-- The backstage segment with Jericho and Christian was good. I'm almost amazed to see some of the midcard types (talking more about Christian than Jericho there, of course) actually being allowed to have characters and nuance beyond a very basic template.

-- I've said it before, I'll say it again, I don't think there are many other people (in any endeavor) who can do video highlight packages like the WWF does. I think the only way they could possibly improve them would be to get the guy who does the voiceovers for NFL Films.

-- Ric Flair, even now, is still the king. Raw could be two hours of him rambling on about whatever, and all I'll say is "hang on, let me get a soda and some popcorn first."

-- Randy Orton for President!

-- Molly talks a little trash with Trish, and I'm always down with that. Molly can hold the Women's title until 2018, and I'd be more than cool with that. However, Christian's half of the promo with her was AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. Christian is the fucking man, and I hope they start to utilize his character more. "I forgot about the midgets..."

-- The Hurricane's promo was fantastic. Again, it's nice to see a lower-end guy at least get a chance to come up with some kind of depth of character. Your mileage may vary, but I think Hurricane really is an excellent promo guy.

-- The actual match was great, even though there was no way Hurricane was winning. However, Orton sold a whole bunch for him, and they at least convinced the back of your mind that just maybe the underdog had a chance this time (not quite HHH-TAKA level, but then again, Orton isn't HHH yet). Few sell a lariat as well as Hurricane does, as he shows right in the beginning. Lita should watch film of Orton's dropkick, as an aside. Hurricane gets an AWESOME European Uppercut, then comes off the top with the Buff Blockbuster. He stays on offense by using his speed (makes sense), but Orton gets an RKO out of absolutely nowhere for the win. When DDP used the Diamond Cutter, it made his matches that much more interesting, because he had about a thousand ways he could bust it out. Literally any second, he could end a match. The Hurricane got to look good, Orton gets the win, everyone gets something out of it. And, to make the segment efficient, they segue it into an Evolution/Dudleys brawl, ending with the Coach going through a table. This all works for me. (Randy Orton beat Hurricane, RKO, 2:52). Damn, that was shorter than I remembered, but no matter.


-- Hey, how was Once Upon A Time in Mexico, anyway? Never did get around to seeing it.

-- This isn't good or bad for the purposes of this show, but the "Bart Gunn gets his ass kicked by Butterbean" thing reminds me. You may be amazed to know that a few years later (on 12/11/01, to be precise) he had one of the most unlikely Match of the Year Candidates ever as All Japan invaders in the finals of New Japan's G-1 Tag League. He and Jim Steele (the former Wolf Hawkfield) went almost 30 minutes against the "TenKoji" team of Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima. While a lot of the puro types tend to crap on Barton/Steele's work for the most part, everyone agrees that the match was unbelievably good, especially because everyone in the place thought that they actually could unseat the wildly-popular home team. It's available on the file-sharing services, and it's worth checking out.

-- Austin's promo didn't grate with me as it had been lately. I don't know how much authority he has over a guy who doesn't have a contract with them (in storyline terms, although...after all that GM/overseer/whatever the fuck it was that week, maybe he did), but whatever.

-- Jazz tried, but goddamn Lita is just so sloppy and bad. The worst thing is that she has an interesting moveset -- which, combined with the fact that she's already amazingly over, it leads me to believe that there's a very good wrestler in her somewhere (besides Matt Hardy that is). But, she just can't pull any of it off. She can't punch to save her life, but we knew this already. The dropkick is comical, the STO the worst I've ever seen. The one thing she did right was that roll-through into mounted punches. I could list everything, but basically, everything she does is hesitant, whether it's executing moves or in the flow to the next one. Meanwhile, Jazz's dropkick is nice and high, and she does what she can around the general sloppiness (including not getting her neck snapped on that headscissors). Lita almost pulls off a Blue Thunder Bomb, but she forgot the Bomb part. The inverted Twist of Fate is kinda neatish, and Jazz actually wins after interference from Teddy Long, so this is all right, I suppose. (Jazz beat Lita, shorts-assisted rollup, 3:40)

-- Most of Mark Henry's backstage promo on Jericho was shite, but it got a little interesting at the end there.

-- I'm confused. I thought Raw and Smackdown were distinct brands that very definitely were in competition with each other. If they're in competition, why are they having the other show's announcers on to hype their half of the Royal Rumble? I mean, they don't do any cross-promotion warfare or anything (which is why this isn't DOWN THERE), but if there's not going to be any pretense about that, come out and say that they're just two related arms of the same entity.

-- I don't know what to think about The World's Worst Wrestler winning the # 30 spot in the Rumble. On one hand, I'm now convinced that he's going to win without anyone laying a finger on him (I'm a pessimist, what can you say?). At least if he comes in at # 30, he's not going to be the one who eliminates 7 or 8 guys I actually enjoy watching all at once (that'll probably be the BoringTaker, now that I think of it). If the rumor is true, and he's not going to re-sign after Wrestlemania, then maybe he won't win after all. However, I don't think I've done enough world-changing good in prior lives to warrant THAT happening, so I'm banking on the idea that TalentlessBerg goes on to win the whole thing, then job to HHH (only after 37 people running in, of course) at 'Mania. (Order of elimination: RVD, Booker T, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Randy Orton, 6:59). Yes, Mark fucking Henry lasted longer than Booker T or Chris Jericho. The red-hot Randy Orton gets squashed like a little bitch at the end. I hate this fucking promotion.


-- The WWF memorializing Martin Luther King Day is hilarious on about a thousand different levels. Just a few weeks before, they did an angle with Teddy Long and Steve Austin that damn sure came close to Outright Racism territory. Also, look at how TEEMING the WWF is with African-American workers...the few they do have are always put in reverse-racism situations (the Nation, the White Boy Challenge), and made to look horribly unsympathetic. You can argue for the Rock and Booker T (which MAY cancel out the two examples I mentioned), but then I counter with Saba Simba, the fact that no Japanese man has ever gotten a fair shake, and neither have any Mexicans (the Guerreros are American, and besides, Eddie's gimmick is essentially racist anyway). It's bad enough that the racists just hide themselves better these days, but for Vince to actually pander to them because they tend to buy tickets to wrestling shows...it's enough to make my skin crawl. Yeah, I said it.

-- As if to prove my point, the King brings up MLK Day as in "despite it being MLK Day, the Coach...". UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH.

-- Never mind that the WWF Originals record is filled with absolute shite, they're using some of these songs as entrance music, too. Excuse me while I go open my veins.

-- Curiously: Why does "male-oriented humor" always have to mean "totally fucking stupid"? Are we all (in general) really like that? If we colonize outer space, I think I'm going to volunteer...I'd rather deal with the space creatures.

-- The Carrot Top commercials are back. Fantastic. It's too bad nobody gave me the choice to gouge my eyeballs out, because I would have seriously considered it.

-- Hey look! A big, fat, talentless waste of roster space squashes a talented wrestler stuck in gimmick hell! Business as usual in the WWF, then, but that doesn't mean I'm watching it. (Mark Henry beat Rico, a slam...how impressive, 2:45).

-- Spike Dudley beating Kane, even by DQ, was a genuine surprise. I don't mind the DQ so much, because I read an explanation on Percival Pringle's board by former referee James Beard about the whole thing, explaining that rules actually being enforced gives any given match almost infinitely-more spots to work with that will cause a crowd to react. And, as much as a silly elitist dorky know-it-all I can be about wrestling, I'm certainly not arguing with someone of his credentials. However, they then ruin any impact it may have had by having Kane destroy him and take him out of the match later. They can't get Spike onto Smackdown and into the CW division soon enough, although he'll still probably lose all the time (I mean hey, he's gotta be what...20 pounds lighter than Shannon Moore? Everyone knows height and weight are all that matters). (Spike Dudley beat Kane, DQ via chokehold, 1:05).

-- Goldberg! Scott Steiner! Test! This had no chance in hell of being even in the middle! (The World's Worst Wrestler beat Test (loss)/Scott Steiner, Jackhammer, 5:17)

-- Hey look, it's some of the Green Bay Packers! Thanks to you buttholes, I have to watch the BORING AS LIVING FUCK Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. Yeah, I know they lost to the Eagles, but if they had won that game, I wouldn't have had to depend on the brittle Donovan McNabb to eliminate the Cats.

-- Joy of Joys! A "comedy" with Adam Sandler, Rob Schnieder, and post-"Almost Famous" Kate Hudson! What did I do to deserve this!?


Oh, and for the record:

Mark Halsey on the free kick decision (taken from Soccernet):

Halsey, though reluctant to discuss the award of the penalty for Arsenal, defended his decision to allow Henry to take the quick free-kick which put the Gunners ahead.

He explained: 'With the free-kick given to Arsenal outside the box for a foul on Patrick Vieira I gave the option to Thierry Henry 'do you want to take it quickly or do you want the wall 10 yards'?

'His reply was 'a quick free-kick'. I stood back and made a quick signal for him to go on and take it - I didn't say to the Aston Villa players 'move back 10 yards'.

'I can understand their frustration at conceding a goal that way - but I'm under no obligation to inform the Aston Villa players that Henry was going to take a quick free-kick.

'I also gave the option of a quick free-kick to Juan Pablo Angel and he said he wanted 10 yards - so in that case you say 'wait for the whistle and I'll get them back 10 yards'.

'You are under no obligation to give a whistle for any free-kick.'

Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal

1' - Arsenal lines up as: Jens Lehmann in goal; Ashley Cole, Pascal Cygan, Sol Campbell, and Lauren across the back; Fredrik Ljungberg, Gilberto Silva, Patrick Vieira, and Robery Pires in midfield, with Thierry Henry and Nwankwo Kanu up front. For Aston Villa, it's Thomas Sorensen in goal, Mark Delaney, Gareth Barry, Olof Mellberg, and Ronny Johnsen across the back, J'Lloyd Samuel, Lee Hendrie, Peter Whittingham, and Thomas Hitzlsperger in midfield, with Juan Pablo Angel and Marcus Allback up top.
2' - Early free kick for the Villains. Hendrie curls it in, but Vieira clears it easily.
3' - Ljungberg makes a probing run inro the Villa area, but their defense is sharp early.
4' - The all-time series between the sides is 58-58-33. How about that?
5' - Hitzlsperger sends a nice curling free kick from the touchline, but it eludes Villains and Gunners alike.
7' - Hendrie does well to find Angel, but the back four are resolute. Arsenal gives it away to Barry, but Allback is offside.
8' - Hitzlsperger takes a shot from distance, but it's safely over the bar.
9' - Arsenal haven't even begun to trouble the Villa defense yet.
10' - Good build-up by Arsenal, but Kanu's pass up to Henry isn't quite good enough.
10' - Corner for Villa. Barry sends it in right to Lehmann...cheers, mate.
12' - Arsenal again with the slow build-up, it comes out to Kanu, and his probing run forced Samuel to deflect it into his own side-netting. Pires' corner came to nothing, though.
13' - Johnsen gives Lauren a love-tap, and the Cameroonian falls over like it was a Roy Keane tackle. Shouldn't have been a foul. Villa easily clears the free kick, though.
14' - Samuel's terrible clear came right back to Pires, though, and his rocket from outside the area is stopped only by a fantastic leaping save by Sorensen. The resulting corner was not good enough, though.
16' - Vieira makes a wonderful pass up to Henry, who probably should have shot. Pires probably thought he would, and the pass goes awry.
16' - Another long shot from Pires, low this time, forces Sorensen to be sharp. The big Dane gets a hand on it, and covers it up.
18' - A long pass came up to Ljungberg, who really should have shot the ball. He tries to find Henry, giving the Villains time to get men back and clear it away. Meanwhile, Samuel accidentally catches Henry in the mouth with his arm. The physio is on with the magic spray, so no worries, then.
20' - Henry's still getting treatment, but Pires' little lob almost finds Kanu. But, the Nigerian just can't get there before it dribbles out.
20' - Samuel slips on the turf, which cancels out that attack.
21' - Delaney sends a fantastic lob over Cygan to the wide-open Angel, but Lehmann was out far enough to force the Colombian into a lob over the crossbar. That was a real chance, though.
23' - I have never seen this before...the linesman's flag comes right off the staff, and they have to send the 4th official running on with a flag substitution.
24' - Pires threatens again, but Samuel concedes a throw. Kanu puts it out for a goal kick, however.
25' - Nice pass up to Henry, but he tries to beat too many defenders. Barry starts the counter, all the way up to Angel. Angel makes a nice pass to Allback, but Campbell deflects the shot wide. Arsenal gets a goal kick, oddly enough.
28' - Vieira gets hacked down by Mellberg and Barry just outside the area. This is a real chance for Arsenal. Henry takes it very quickly, and Sorensen never moved. So, GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL, I guess! Personally, I think there should be a set rule about this one way or the other...there's something I don't like about taking a free kick before the opponent gets their wall figured out. Delaney gets booked for dissent, and as it's his 5th of the season, he'll miss Villa's next game. This was kind of a farce all around, actually, and the goal shouldn't have counted.
33' - Cygan brushes past Angel, who goes down like a shot. This is going to get ugly before its over, I think.
34' - Ljungberg gets hacked down by Mellberg, and Mark Halsey rightly books him.
35' - Gilberto fouls his man to get the ball, and the ref waves play on. I'd feel really hard done by if I were a Villa supporter right around now.
38' - Another semi-dangerous free kick for Villa, and again, Hendrie's curler is cleared right out. The Villains have to do better with those, you'd think.
39' - Allback beats Lehmann, but he was a good two or three steps offside when Hitzlsperger lobbed it in.
42' - There sure is absolutely nothing of note going on at this point.
45' - Arsenal again with a nice slow build-up, but they inadvertently knock it out amidst all the short passing. I wish they'd cross the bloody ball every now and then.
45' - Whittingham makes a reckless challenge from behind on Gilberto, and rightly sees yellow. Heh...he's going to miss Villa's next match, too.
45' - Halsey blows the halftime whistle. I have to say that whatever the match announcer says, this should be 0-0.

47' - Angel gets the ball on the side of the area, and forces Lehmann to go down to his right well to save the low bad-angle shot.
49' - Lehmann has to be alert and quick to stop Allback from having a breakaway shot.
50' - Villa gets a dangerous free kick outside the area. Ljungberg argues quite a bit without getting a yellow. Angel takes it himself, and his shot is agonizingly close to the top left corner.
51' - Arsenal better find another gear or SOMETHING.
52' - Arsenal siege the Villa area again, but there's no urgency.
52' - A probing Arsenal attack finds Kanu in the area. Mellberg catches him late, and Halsey whistles for the penalty. I'd say it's arguably a foul, but after the controversial goal in the 1st half, maybe they should have been given a break.
53' - GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLL! Sorensen guesses right, but Henry cooly fires over him.
54' - 2-0 to the Arsenal, but you can make a case that it should be 0-0.
55' - Vieira catches Hitzlsperger in much the same fashion as Mellberg did on the penalty, and gets a yellow card. I knew Halsey was terrible before this, but this is a bad game, even for him.
57' - The Villa fans join in for a rousing chorus of "The referee's a wanker!" Can't say I disagree.
57' - Ljungberg gets a wonderful pass from the touchline by Henry, but the Swede is put under pressure and deflects wide.
58' - Ljungberg gets taken down by a real horror-show challenge from Barry, and out comes the yellow. You can tell it was a stupid challenge when the guy getting the yellow doesn't so much as peep in protest.
59' - Villa mildly theatens, but much like the majority of the match so far, they can't really do anything with it. They need some kind of incisiveness between the midfield and the strikers.
62' - Another Villa build-up is wasted when Hitzlsperger loses his footing. Is it something with the turf today or what?
63' - Allback gets a half-chance, but he's pressured, and sends it into orbit.
64' - Vieira bodychecks Hitzlsperger...he better be careful.
65' - Samuel finds space on the left, but his cross is right at Lehmann.
66' - Villa gets a corner, and although Lehmann gets jostled on the way up, he's able to get to the loose ball.
67' - Kanu almost gets the ball in alone with Sorensen, but the last man back gets a desperation foot out to clear it to touch.
69' - Hendrie finds Barry in the area, but his looping header goes safely over the bar.
71' - Villa may want to look into the "fresh legs" option. They just don't have many answers for the Arsenal defense.
74' - Henry pushes over his man, no call. Angel pushes over Cole seconds later, and it's a free kick. Cole sees Sorensen out organizing the defense (y'all don't learn, do you?), but his kick sails high.
75' - Edu and Kolo Toure are waiting to come on. Nice to see Kolo back.
75' - Pires fires wide yet again. But hey, I'd rather him take the shots and miss than contribute to the Arsenal "will someone SHOOT THE BALL?" phenomenon.
76' - Wow, all three subs for Arsenal. Ray Parlour for Ljungberg, Kolo Toure for Kanu, and Edu for Pires. You don't see this from Arsene very often, but I agree in this case...we were looking kind of complacent the last few minutes. However, I think it's funny how we make three, and Villa hasn't had anyone up yet. They need it more, I think.
78' - Hitzlsperger again gives it a go from outside the area, but it's very, very wide.
79' - Parlour, who hasn't scored since the 2002 FA Cup final, sends a beautiful knuckling curler towards the top right hand corner, but it's just inches wide. Great stuff there.
80' - 39,380 came to watch their side do not much of interest today.
83' - On the touchline, Edu fouls Delaney. Hitzlsperger's kick into the area isn't bad at all, but Arsenal calmly clear.
83' - I chided Arsenal for a seeming lack of urgency before, but I don't know who's worse on the Villa side...the team, or their fans. It's like a morgue at Villa Park now.
85' - Edu kills an Arsenal attack with a through-ball to nobody in particular. OK, then.
86' - About 25 minutes too late, Villa makes their subs. Barry off for Liam Ridgewell, Hendrie off for Peter Crouch, Allback off for Ulises de la Cruz.
88' - Bit of a rough tackle from Parlour gives Villa a free kick, but Hitzlsperger's kick is closed down by Cygan and Cole.
89' - Another free for Villa, but Campbell takes care of it easily. On the quick counter, Sorensen has to be alert to save Toure's long shot.
90' - 19-year old Ridgewell crosses well into the box, but Angel's tame header goes right into Lehmann's hands.
90' - A dangerous free for Villa, right outside the area. Angel's effort goes weakly into the wall, and the resulting corner goes right into Lehmann's hands. I wonder if anyone can trouble Villa to show up for their next match...they certainly didn't for this one. I mean, it works for me, but I feel for their fans.
90' - Henry goes for a hat trick, but he fires right at Sorensen's hands. The Dane easily saves, and that's that. 2-0 to the Arsenal is the final, in this most rare of games: the 0-0 draw with goals. Seriously, this was a ridiculously dull affair, and the only thing between the sides really were two highly controversial goals. It could have been 0-0 or 1-0 just as easily, depending on personal opinion. However, while Villa WAS hard done by, I don't think they deserved even a point out of this, really. They just couldn't be arsed, and neither could David O'Leary, apparently. What the hell are your subs supposed to do if you only give them 6 minutes?


The 1/15/04 Swift Smackdown Report

This is the first week where I've remembered that it was Thursday in ages, let alone remembered to watch this show. If this week was any indication, I haven't missed a fucking thing.


-- Despite the fact that I'm sick of GMs and everything related, Paul Heyman is the best of a bad lot. John Cena comes out and even when he's Fed-Exing his rap in (this was so one of the Bottom 5 Cena raps ever), it's STILL entertaining. The "ssshhh" thing was particularly fun. Rhino beats him down, a related point of which is down south a bit.

-- The segment hyping the house shows was actually pretty effective, I think. However, I think Trish's idea was way better. The cynical part of me wonders how much the fact that the idea was posed by a woman had to do with it getting shot down so quickly.

-- Battle Royales are fine, when the situation calls for them. However, a 3-person battle royale is stupid enough, and the idiot factor hurtles upwards exponentially when it's a 3-person battle royale involving the members of the same stable. Yeah, Heyman's a jerk...WE FUCKING GET IT. However, Nunzio was all kinds of awesome as the sneaky heel here, so it scrapes up here by the hair on its chinny-chin-chin. Special commendation goes to Nunzio's goofy sell of that first punch from Palumbo, and his over-the-top celebration...magnifique. (Nunzio beat Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli: Palumbo eliminated Johnny the Bull, Jungle Kick, 2:20; Nunzio eliminated Palumbo, tossed him over the top, 2:21). The funny thing is that they used this segment on Smackdown for a guy that they're probably going to sacrifice in four seconds to a waste of oxygen like Goldberg anyway. Fantabulous.

-- Speaking of wonderfully over-the-top, Eddie's backstage promo after Chavo Sr. turned on him was neat.

-- So, the main event. They trade halfway-decent lariats, then Cena's miserable attempt at a dropkick entertains more than his rap did earlier in the evening. A weird-looking shoulderbock is next, and it occurs to me that Cena hasn't come anywhere close to the in-ring Leap that Randy Orton has recently made. Yikes. Rhino tries to get counted out, and considering the stipulations, that works. He works the ribs a bit (to set up the Gore, which is all good), then goes into a very neat kneeling version of the Goku-Raku-Gatame (ask if you don't know what that is). It doesn't make any sense towards his gameplan, but I much prefer that as a resthold than a chinlock, that's for sure. However, realizing that the Jinsei Shinzaki page of the ECW Alumnae Playbook isn't going to work, he opts for the Sandman one instead -- that is, beating the hell out of him with a singapore cane (sadly, no smokes, beers, or 27-minute long entrance accompanied by Metallica's "Enter Sandman". He gets some near-falls out of that, then brawls on the outside a bit...this is all fine so far. He gets a chair, but fails to either do a drop-toe hold onto it, or spingboard moonsault off it, thus killing the "Ex-ECW" theme...shit, he could have just cracked him in the head like Balls Mahoney.That said, he did hit him in the ribs, which I suppose I have to grudingly admit works in the framework of the match. The chair gets wedged into the corner, and Cena reverses a whip into it for the transition. He hits the Throwback (a standing version of the Buff Blockbuster, which is pretty fuckin' cool...hadn't seen that before), and a pretty nice downward elbowstrike off the second rope. So, I guess it isn't that he lacks interesting moves, it's just the getting there that's the problem for him (and good god, his finisher. If you're going to do a Death Valley Driver, do a Death Valley Driver. The F-U isn't much better than the World's Strongest Slam, truth be told). He goes for the F-U, but Heyman runs in for the low blow. With the stips involved, that's actually a pretty decent transisition back to Rhino's offense. Nice old-school belly-to-belly and some brawling outside, and then...HEYMAN, GET THE TABLES (which is funny, because I think several of his former workers are waiting and/or bussing them now). That takes us to commercial (grrrrrrrrr...), and after half of forever, we come back to Rhino slamming him onto the table. Small detail: It was unfolded and laying on the mat. He goes into the "Hey! I'm going to miss this highspot I'm about to do" slow climb up the buckles, and HEY! He did miss that diving headbutt after all! I'm a GENIUS! Rhino is back in control right after, though, and sets up the table in the corner. Then, he spinebusters Cena AWAY from it. If anyone out there follows that logic, please let me know. After a long double-KO spot, I'm sure you feel the same shock (AND AWE) that I do when Rhino Gores himself through the table. Cena takes out Heyman, and gets the F-U this time for the win. These guys' styles mesh pretty well, and Rhino having most of the offense is a nice way to cover up Cena's dearth of offensive capabilities, so to speak. Perfectly Acceptable main event, and compared to the rest of the show, this looked like Benoit-Angle at last year's Royal Rumble by comparison. (John Cena beat Rhino, F-U, 12:52 aired)


-- Yeah, so Tajiri and Noble have a match. Tajiri kicks him a whole bunch (the awesomeness of which vaults it up here), there were about four and a half zillion run-ins, and Noble gets one move for the win. I love throwaway television matches...especially when they're # 1 Contenders' matches for a division that they've always struggled with in terms of getting it over. Gee, I wonder why. (Jamie Noble beat Tajiri, Tiger Driver, 3:21)

-- Dawn Marie is still alive! Woah! You know, it kills me...there is a distinct possibility that she makes more money doing the occasional spot duty for Smackdown than her man, Simon Diamond, makes for busting his ass on the independent scene. (Random: I was one of the biggest Simon/Swinger fans there was around the time of ECW dying...I think it even should have been them feuding with Tajiri/Whipwreck rather than the FBI....them, I'd have had feuding against each other.)

-- Many blessings on Team Angle (Goddamn, that other name is just so long and hideous) for trying, but the Basham Brothers have unique powers of amnesia -- you completely forget about their match the millisecond it's over. So yeah, the Bashams work over Shelton Benjamin a bit with absolutely nothing of interest. Even as I fast-forward (oh calm down, I actually watched the match as I was taping the show), I'm falling asleep. Then, it gets all sloppy with the backdrops segment (because fucking hell if it isn't a WWF match without about 39 back bodydrops), and all of a sudden, Shelton gets his superkick on one of the Bashams (the two faces of boredom look exactly alike, I have to say), into a nice flipping cradle from Haas for the win. The result is good, but man oh man was the journey dull. (Charlie Haas(win)/Shelton Benjamin beat Doug Basham(announcers say it was him who lost, so I'll take their word for it)/Danny Basham, superkick -> flipping cradle, 4:00

-- Everyone in the arena and at home (hell, children still with three or four months left until they're actually born) knew that Chavo Sr. was going to turn on Eddie. And, I dig the whole Cheating to Win thing enough to put it up in The Good, but FUCKING HELL, THIS DRAGGED. It was 6 minutes before the actual turn, but it felt like 666.

-- If they wanted to go the whole way in having Rhino as the defender of our moral fabric, the least they could have done was dug out one of those old Right to Censor suits.


-- The crowd. Maybe everyone had already gambled away their enthusiasm at the craps table beforehand, but this seemed more like a subdued pack of lobotomized chimps rather than a professional wrestling crowd. Who pays good money to go to a show only to sit on their hands and cheer perhaps three times all night (if that)? For those who may have been at the show, let me try and cause a little joy in your otherwise empty lives of quiet desperation: "What?", "What?", "Hell yeah", "BEER ME", "If ya smell what the Rock is cooking", "Yoooouu'rrree FAAAAHHHHRREEEDDD", "You suck!....You suck!", "IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO YOU ARE". There. Feel better, primates?

-- Rhino spends months on Velocity, then all of a sudden is thrust into a main event. Gee, I wonder why crickets were chirping when he came out. If they wanted to have him in a main event, and had given him a mid-level win against someone like Chavo Guerrero prior to that, that'd be one thing. Instead, they just kinda toss him out there with no particular rhyme or reason, almost expecting him to fail.

-- These UPN shows are amusing in one respect...there has to be, what, a 3-white joke quota per show? It's kinda funny, because African-American comedians have open season on white guys, but, theoretically, the second a white comedian began a joke with: "Boy, you black people...", his career would be deader than Randy Savage's dreams of rap superstardom. Just saying, is all.

-- Regarding Nidia, one of the writers must have LOVED this gimmick when he saw it at his local armory and/or high school gymnasium.

-- "Oh mah gawd, paw! There's one of them silly Japs in that thar ring! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" And people wonder why I think euthanasia should be legal.

-- Michael Cole is sure starting to lapse into some of his more annoying older tendencies. Yep.

-- Dear everyone associated with the WWF: THERE IS NO SUCH FUCKING MOVE AS A TIGER BOMB. I know it's odd, as "-bomb" usually refers to powerbomb-style moves, and "-driver" is associated with Michinoku Driver-type moves. However, a double-underhook powebomb is a Tiger Driver, and always has been. Kthx.

-- There should be some kind of company-wide rule where they can't recap a segment that aired less than five segments before the current one. I smoke weed, and my memory STILL ain't that bad.

-- Speaking of something you'd expect to see in a scummy indy, a "Loser Gets His Mouth Washed Out With Soap" match? Are you SHITTING me? If you're going to do this, why not go through with the crap factor the whole way, and have it on a pole? OH THE HILARITY~!

-- And, speaking of hilarity, I would like to wish all the luck in the world to those who will actually see "You Got Served" at a theater near you...I hear third grade is tough these days. Oh, and for the women among that group, when the boy in your class pulls your hair, it means he likes you.

-- I will never, EEEEEVVEEEER deign to watch a single second of that model reality show UPN has, but I know if I were in charge of it, it'd be a lot cooler. For example, the loser of a given competition would have to do horrible things, like eat an entire Philly cheesesteak with all the fixings. You know, add an element of danger to the proceedings.

-- I have much less of a problem with the "split up the face team and make them wrestle each other" routine when it doesn't happen to the comedy curtain-jerker team. On top of that, in Vince-land, it makes perfect sense when the only offense the smaller guy gets against the 400lb. guy are horizontal cradles (I always thought "schoolboy" was a terrible name for it [and has connotations I don't even wanna think about], so I use the puroresu name for it. I'm a snob.). Makes perfect sense to me. Rikishi then squashes him in about as much time as you'd expect...however, I can't work up the indignation for it when the opponent uses the Worm as a finisher. Sorry. (Rikishi beat Scotty 2 Hotty, Banzai Drop, 1:59).

-- A heel authority figure changing a scheduled match is a perfectly fine angle for a wrestling show. However, after the first time, you see diminishing returns as far as effectiveness goes the more you do it in one night (or any angle, for that matter). When you start doing it every segment, it makes a cynic wonder if the writers are even trying. I know they need something for Dawn Marie to do (the letters O, V, and W come to mind for some strange reason), but COME ON NOW.

-- Not only does Shoichi Funaki not even get a FIRST NAME in the WWF, let alone an entrance or even minor wins of any kind, he gets to job to a PUNCH from the Big Slow. WOW, HE SURE IS FAT! (Big Slow beat Shoichi Funaki, The WWF Isn't Racist At All Punch, Fast-forwarded in about 0:04 or so).

-- The resurrection of the "Extreme" Rhino, eh? I'd rather not go back to the guy who no-sold everyone and only had four moves. We already have Goldberg for that...and Batista, and John Heidenrich, and Matt Morgan, and........

-- The # 1 Billy Gunn Moment Ever -- his future retirement.

-- Oh yes! Puddle of Mudd! I've always wanted a shitty, mid-tempo, nothing-doing band to do the theme music for the Pay-Per-Views!

-- Does anyone else get the feeling that "WWF Originals" somehow involves the Mother Of All Backstage Ribs? Perhaps Jim Johnston isn't immune after all.


The new American Revolution

The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming!

Besides Bocanegra, Fox Sports World Report is saying that Blackburn are very close to completing the signing of Columbus Crew striker Brian McBride.

Personally, I think Everton were insane to not keep him, and I honestly think McBride can save Blackburn from relegation should the transfer go through...all Rovers are missing really is a guy who can stick away the garbage goal...or any goal at all, for that matter.

Arsenal-related roundup

-- Saw the Arsenal-Boro game finally, and it proved one thing (other than Boro are more than a bit shit)...you can take a player out of Leeds, but you can't take the Leeds out of the player. Danny Mills is a grade-A bastard, and the way Henry ABUSED him for the rest of the match was a more than deserved recompense. My personal favorite was after the penalty, Henry got right in his face and showed him who the real king is...HELL YEAH. It's nice to see Thierry is capable of such emotion, especially because he has been known to just float on the breeze every now and then.

-- Besides, if you're going to wind up a World Player of the Year (Fuck what FIFA says), that's stupid enough. But, to wind up a World Player of the Year that you're going to face three more times in the span of a month....that's just lunacy.

-- The Boro penalty was absolute bullshit...Lehmann got the ball first. However, at 4-0, who cares?

-- So, David Seaman finally called it a day. I think it's an absolute shame that half of what everyone's talking about revolves around the three "blunders" he made...well, let me tell you something. The Zaragoza one in 1995 truly was a blunder, but name ONE FUCKING GUY on the planet who could have stopped the goals from Ronaldinho and/or the Macedonian guy. Considering all the man did for club and country, I think it's sickening the way he's being treated. Spunky, Safe Hands, whatever you wanna call him, the guy was one of the best goalkeepers England has ever had, and that SHOULD be even more evident with Calamity James as the current #1.


From the ashes...

...I did a Raw report! Holy 2001, Batman!

Damn...never thought I'd do THIS again. But, here I am, all the same.

For whatever reason, Long Island has never gotten a good television taping in the history of Raw/Smackdown. And tonight, well, to say it as Strong Bad might: "Holy crap for crap! That was crap!" You tell 'em, Strong Bad.


-- Call me insane, but I'm perfectly fine with the Coach as the third commentator. Back when JR and the King were tolerable, it was because the King was actually, you know, a HEEL commentator. While the heel commentator shtick can get old (as can everything in wrestling at some point or another), the WWF essentially hasn't had one since Paul Heyman left the booth. In the case of the Smackdown crew, you don't really need one...they have somehow found the delicate balance between hyping the feuds and angles and calling the match, with move names and everything! But, with the King and JR, it's just mindless hype over and over and over again, until you feel like your head's been worked on by a sledgehammer for two hours. The Coach has had many chances before and done little with them, I'll grant you that. But, each time, he's been thrown to the wolves, and expected to do full-on play-by-play, and it just doesn't work (although him and D'Lo Brown were good together on Heat, because their collective enthusiasm was infectious). This way, Coach can slowly grow into a role, while Hard Sell and the King do all the heavy lifting.

-- I would just like to take this opportunity to lend my full support to the Friends and Supporters of Randy Orton...what a great show that guy had tonight. Everything he touched turned to gold, especially his interview segments. As far as his character and promos go, I think he's a top guy on Raw right now. His in-ring work will follow, I have no doubt.

-- You go, Teddy Long! You give that cracker a piece of your mind! Holla!

-- Woah! Tombstone! Neat! And, it's good that they sell it like they would a Tiger Driver '91 in Japan...it's a good move, and if this is what they have to do to ensure it gets used every now and then, well, so be it. The "Move of Death" is a good storytelling device, so why not?

-- Stacy Kiebler gives Trish love advice! Fantastic! Remember, in storyline terms, this is the same girl who wound up as a plaything for the Cristopher Street Connection, WWF Division (Test and Steiner, for those with short memories). Hey, someone has to point all this stuff out.

-- The segment with Christian and Chris Jericho advanced the storyline in a satisfactory fashion. Well done.

-- Holy CRAP, the main event was really effing good. Orton blades really early, but he made it believable the way he went off the ringpost. RVD beats him up some more, and sends him into the seat that was intended for Mick Foley. See, that's the kind of humor I like. It doesn't impose on the match or come across as trying too hard (like most WWF "comic" segments). Unfortunately, that takes us into a long commercial break, which I HATE. I understand they're necessary, but it doesn't make analyzing the match easy...especially in a situation like this, where we go from a bloodied Orton wondering what state he's in to Orton firmly in control after the break. The HELL?! It'd be nice to know at least how we got from Point A to Point B, ya know? Anyway, Orton's on offense, and it strikes me...he's made The Leap. Before, he's always been just some guy who kinda does stuff and is kinda-sorta a heel I guess. But, look at the match tonight. He's vicious, he's sadistic, his in-ring work has personality. It's good to have character on the stick...that's what cracks open the door as far as most fans go. But, if your matches make you look like Just Another Guy they're shoving down your throat, I think most fans catch on to that in one way or another. However, as Orton is brutalizing RVD on the outside, anyone who's looking critically can see that there's a marked improvement in that facet of his game. And, when it comes time for a resthold, he doesn't rely on the tried-and-really-fucking-boring chinlock. Instead, he locks on a bodyscissors, leaving his hands free to make the resthold interesting with eye rakes, hairpulling, a roll-up attempt, and so on. It's a subtle thing, but those small impropvements change a "holy shit, we're tired...so, we're going to lay here for a while" segment into something that lets them rest, while still being entertaining, and having the whole thing make sense in the overall match. Then, he switches to a full-on kata-hajime with body scissors, and I MARK THE FUCK OUT. Next, he shows that he's serious about expanding his once-empty moveset, throwing in almost a version of Taiyo Kea's Hawaii 5-0, only starting from an Argentine Backbreaker instead of a fireman's carry. By the way, all of this works because all RVD has to do is get the shit kicked out of him and sell (which IS something he can do). The second he fights out of the camel clutch, he immediately shows why they put the title on Orton, fucking up the rolling cradle attempt. I'd like to state for the record, however, that Orton covered really well for it, and ALMOST pulled off making it look like he countered mid-move into a cradle of his own. However, RVD's offense was serviceable after that, with a sweet Northern Lights getting 2, Rolling Thunder getting 2, and a nice variation of it off the top rope getting 2. Orton comes back with a fantastic short kneelift, and then they're even until the Inevitable Referee Bump. Orton gets his awesome neckbreaker variation, then plays dead in an attempt to get the double-KO after the ref revives. I'm all for cheating to win and being a super-dick heel, but if he's down for 9, that means you could have PINNED HIM THREE TIMES. Bit of a logic flaw there, no? At any rate, Orton then gets the somewhat-anticlimatic end with a nice 2nd-rope DDT variation. Hey, if you're a young guy, and you wrestle RVD for 20 minutes and it doesn't suck (never mind it being a VERY good match like this), it's safe to say you've arrived. Bravo, Mr. Orton...Bravo. (Randy Orton beat Rob Van Dam, 2nd rope DDT, around 22:00ish (around 18:15ish aired)


-- Well, well, well. Goldberg and Scott Steiner have a SHOWDOWN~!, right there backstage. Yippee. It obviously wasn't good, but it wasn't hilariously bad, as is Steiner's usual. So, it goes here, which is even worse than being in "The Bad", because that can be entertaining too, sometimes. Now watch...Hardy gets destroyed in a minute, but watch Perfectly Acceptable Lower Midcarder Scott Steiner push Shitberg to the limit before losing. Makes perfect sense to me.

-- Hey! They're hyping a match on Heat! That's cool, and it probably would have went UP THERE if it wasn't going to be Steiner squashing any momentum Stevie Richards may have been gaining with his wins over Test. I mean, Richards is decent in the ring, he's got a notable personality, isn't a bad talker...they can't find a place for (Victoria)...I mean Stevie on Raw? Bullshite, I say!

-- Chris Jericho is a very good wrestler. He's a very good entertainer. There is NO REASON for him to ever see even this part of the report. But, throw in a Vortex of Suck like Mark Henry, and, well, miracles can happen. Y2J tried his ass off, so I can't in good conscience put this in "The Bad". The springboard dropkick was particularly nice. However, once Henry starts in with the Lumbering Offense of Doom, the entire thing comes to a screeching, terrible halt. Marvel as Henry can't get his ENORMOUS FAT ASS down in time to make Jericho's top-rope facecrusher look halfway decent! Gaze in awe at the dreaded bearhug! Wonder along with the rest of us how the referee can't hear Henry tapping! Delight in the world's most terrible excuse for a finisher get the win over a former Undisputed champion! This sucked! A lot! (Mark Henry beat Chris Jericho, The World's Most Pathetic Finisher, 7:51)


-- Me. I stink. First time back after what? Two years now? And, I forget to cut out the commercials, thus missing all the overrun. I took some hasty notes on Wordpad, but I have to guess at the match time for the main event.

-- I love the women's division. I do. I at least like their match 90% of the time...but this was just an off-night. Actually, let me clarify. Lita wasn't very good to begin with, and is even worse post-injury (but, GOOD GOD would I hit it, as much as that makes me sound like a mindless fratboy), and Jazz needs to work off the ring rust a bit. Molly, as usual, holds up her end...but, if Victoria or Ivory aren't around, the entire women's division depends on Trish having a good night. When she's off a bit, the entire thing suffers. And, sometimes they put Jackie Gayda in the ring, but that's just silly...or Vince trying to amuse himself, one of the two. As for this edition, the early arm work was perfectly acceptable, but then Lita Disease spread to Jazz and Trish, and that was that. (Jazz(win)/Molly Holly beat Trish Stratus(loss)/Lita, tights-assisted rollup, 4:55).

-- I'm about three or four viewings of that Final Fantasy X-2 commercial from going all Kill Bill in the Square Enix home offices.

-- Your Hero and Mine, Matt Hardy V-ONEAHHHHHHHH comes out on the stick. And hey, that's great. Then Austin comes out. What, what, what, hell yeah, whoop ass, etc etc etc (does anyone else think this is old? REALLY OLD?). The only thing that could have saved this segment at that point was some kind of angle that puts Hardy in at least an upper-midcard feud, which you'd think he'd have earned by now. He can wrestle, he can talk, he's got a great character, he's paid his dues...hey, let's job him to THE WORST FUCKING WRESTLER ON THE PLANET in less than a minute! Great! Eat a dick, WWF! (Goldberg beat Matt Hardy, Karma Hasn't Struck Yet, Fuck you if you think I'm timing this abortion).

-- What's worse than Goldberg wrestling? Goldberg talking! Hey, didya know Goldberg beat Naoya Ogawa (who never loses EVER) in ten minutes at ZERO-ONE's big show a little while back? And hey, that's six more minutes than Taiyo Fucking Kea or Satoshi Fucking Kojima lasted! So, it's not just American promotions that this guy has snowed...hey Satan, think you can collect on this jabroni's soul already?

-- General managers, sheriffs, board of directors, commissioners...I had my fill of all this shite like two years ago. Can't somebody look up Jack Tunney and have him issue edicts off-camera? You can find something else for Austin and Bischoff to do, right?

-- I'm already sick of that goddamn ATV Austin's riding around. If I were a bad person, this is where I'd say I wish he pulled an Ozzy Osbourne. But, I'm not, so I won't.

-- Ashton Kutcher in a serious movie is like Weird Al Yankovic performing Chopin with the London Symphony Orchestra. Actually, I apologize...that isn't fair to Weird Al.

-- Hey look, it's DAVE. DAVE isn't very good. Neither is D-Von Dudley. Somehow, I think Bubba Ray would at least have made me ambivalent towards all this. But, they didn't, and we're treated to all four moves of this classic encounter. Blah. (DAVE beat D-Von Dudley, The World's Worst Ligerbomb, 3:15)

-- Can we have a Spike TV cross-promotion where they powerbomb that John Henson guy through 14 tables covered in Ebola-covered barbed wire? Is that possible?

-- While I'm at it, is it too much to ask Ben Stiller if I requested that he retire to his wife and kids, and never soil our movie screens again? I've seen his wife...if I was that much of a douche, and I still pulled something like that, I wouldn't tempt fate/karma/whatever by making even more terrible "comedies". Just saying, is all.

-- HHH and HBK talk a whole bunch. And then a long time on top of that. Good god, this promo was long. The match should be good, though.

-- I thought Booker vs. Kane could be decent, but it took all of 30 seconds to dash THOSE hopes. When a guy doesn't even sell for people who are at his level (or arguably higher), that's just ridiculous and counter-productive. The terrible clothesline (I won't even dignify it with the word "lariat", which I usually prefer) sealed the deal. Fast forward with me to the ridiculous DQ ending! It's just like a roller-coaster, without the turns or loops! (Booker T beat Kane, DQ [from throwing him into the ring steps, of all things], 0:47). Yep...they gave two of the arguably upper-echelon guys 47 seconds to do their thing. Amazing.

-- The anti-weed ad with the basketball player is priceless. If the guy was good enough to affect his team's chances one way or the other, anything short of multiple homicide would be swept under the rug. Actually, even then, he'd probably have to eat the corpses too before getting so much as a suspension. Then again, I'm an Unapologetic Occasional Recreational Smoker, so take this for what you will.


That damn liberal media...

Counterspin Central (an absolute A+ blog), linked to a story in the Times of India that was just a TAD...well...obvious, but curious all the same.

"Asked by the BBC's veteran interviewer David Frost, when WMD would be discovered, Blair replied candidly, if in calculated downbeat mode: 'I do not know is the answer….You can't be definitive at the moment about what has happened.'"

Our media is SO liberal, I had to discover that from a newspaper located HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD. Guess it just couldn't knock Britney or Kobe or whoever the fuck it is today off the front page, eh? You want to know why I hold completely bare contempt for the average American person? There it is...right there. When you're more concerned about who Ashton Kutcher is dating now than something truly important that has affected everyone in the country...guess you can't truly be shocked that Bush and the rest of his criminal buddies have gotten away with what they have for as long as they have.

What is it going to take to make the left (and middle, while we're at it) angry enough to actually react and do something about all this? The 2000 election didn't. Enron and Haliburton couldn't do it. The Viet...ahem...Iraq fiasco hasn't done it to any real extent. Does any sane individual really want four more years of this? There are many nice things about this country, but our "middle" being the equivalent of "ridiculously far right" in every other civilized country is not one of them.

And, the electoral college makes it so that just being from this area means that my vote won't matter for a damn thing. New York/New Jersey will probably vote blue if Mickey Mouse was running on the ticket (which isn't necessarily ideal, but when you have all those Southern states that do the same thing for red...). Our only hope at real societal change lies in the left-and-middle of the swing states, wherever they may be this time around. I hope Dean recognizes this (I say him with certainty, because if he has a decent lead in freaking IOWA, then he's certainly going to play well with Democrats of all stripes), and focuses enough energies there to maybe just come up with the upset of the century.

Maybe this is like the stories we all read growing up...Evil does always look the strongest (and it always looks like the situation is hopeless for Good) before the hero finally smites the evil villain. You know, Bush WOULD make a good Sauron, wouldn't he?


A(nother) American in London...

Well, most likely, anyway.

Fulham are apparently just days away from completing the signing of former Chicago Fire left back Carlos Bocanegra on a free. While I myself am a Metrostars supporter, I'm nothing but pleased for him. Not only does his presence mean that the USA's national team left back position is stitched up for years to come, but he'll only get better playing in the rarefied air of the Premiership.

Well, assuming he actually PLAYS, of course. Fulham is the side where Eddie Lewis practiced his right-bench position for so long, after all. The Cottagers' manager, Chris Coleman, is making it sound like Boca is coming in as a squad player only. However, when Everton loaned Brian McBride last season, they thought he was only going to provide cover as well (what the hell were they thinking with THAT one, especially when their striking situation has been so bad for so long?), and then he came in and started scoring goals like mad. I think Boca will force his way into the first team...he's a damn good player, and I'll certainly be rooting for him the whole way.

What puzzles me is that Fulham were interested in Bocanegra for a while, but MLS wouldn't sell him. What, like he's going to stay in Chicago when he could play in England's top flight? You're shitting me, right? I understand that MLS wants to keep its top players, but they have to recognize the reality that, even with its' major improvement, it's still on par with, say, the Belgian First Division (on the field AND in terms of the fact that when the big boys come calling, even their best clubs are selling clubs). He was going anyway, so MLS absolutely SHOULD have gotten at least a nominal fee for him.

So, here's to you, Boca, and your new future in the EPL.


Time for a goddamn rant...

I never did get to see that Arsenal game. Fox Sports World, in their infinite wisdom, gave BOTH the 2 PM AND 8 PM slots to the Manshit United-Aston Villa game. Now, I knew that I should be used to the entire world dangling from Man U's johnson, but you know what? I'm not. And, now, you get to hear me bitch about it.

I understand that you have to take for granted that any entity with stupid amounts of money is going to attract fame, attention, and more than its fair share of bootlickers. However, Man United makes the New York Yankees look like a salt-of-the-earth organization. Really. Oh, Manchester United...how much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

1. They're above the law, to an absolutely sickening degree -- Look back at the "Battle of Old Trafford". The Man United players took part in the same handbags-at-six-paces (and, really, that's all it was) that Arsenal did. Now, look at the punishments involved. The Arsenal players got multiple-game suspensions and big fines, while Man United players got practically nothing in comparison. Meanwhile, the press was baying for Arsenal blood, while making it seem that poor United was being picked on once again (I'll get to the press...believe me). Man United players can surround a referee like crazed savages whenever a call goes against them, and they get away with it. Ruud van Nistelrooy can give Greg Lougainis a run for his money, and almost never gets taken to task for it. However, Robert Pires, who hits the deck at around 10% the rate that van Cheatingcunt does, is labeled a cheat and a diver. How does THAT work? Ryan Giggs elbows a Russian player in the face while playing for Wales, but he just happens to get off on a technicality long enough to play the return leg. I guarantee you that if it was John Hartson (keep in mind, Celtic are not a poor club), he would have been banned until approximately 2048. I'm not a huge fan of the Yankees (to put it mildly), but when their players do something wrong, they get held accountable for it. Even Don Zimmer was rightly taken to task for his part in the Pedro Martinez fiasco. Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia are having to face up to beating up that Boston groundskeeper. If you substitute John O'Shea, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Paul Scholes for those three, would the punishments have been the same? I doubt it.

2. They're sickeningly above the law, the Rio version -- All I'm going to say here is that if a Birmingham or Newcastle or even Arsenal player "forgot" to take a drug test, they would have gotten the full two-year suspension, and probably been forever blacklisted in Mark Bosnich territory (I bet you he's slumming it somewhere in the Belgian Seventh Division when his drug suspension is up). But, since it's Manchester fucking United, he has the players' union backing him up, and the press making excuses for him, and their mindless drone fans saying he didn't deserve even the 8 months he got. Also, I love how the suspension was pushed back to allow the Manks to have Rio until the busy Boxing Day fixture list was passed. That sure was a nice Christmas present from the FA.

3. The press -- Well, I basically hit the points I was going to make. But, to recap, Man United seems to have the same relationship with the English sporting press that George Bush has with the spineless American press. That is, they can do no wrong, no matter what it is they do. Even the merest transfer rumor is treated with the same "Well, why on Earth would they turn United down?" air. I especially love the ones that naturally assume that Arsenal's (or Newcastle's, or any other top club's) top stars are going to jump into United's bed at the first chance, like they were Kylie Minogue, and we were Oprah Winfrey. What the FUCK?! I once spent 3 months in London, and read the papers every day...it got to a point where I wanted to hit Fleet Street with a napalm bomb.

4. "All hail the conquering heroes...or something." -- If I see one more team go into Old Trafford and lay down without a fight, I think I'm going to start clotheslining random passerby. Why is it that even the Portsmouths of the world come into Highbury ready to make a glorious charge into Valhalla, but the same types of teams do their Jenna Jameson impersonation the second they walk onto the Old Trafford pitch? It's sickening, shameful, and just plain fucking gutless.

5. Their fans -- Look, I can understand that Arsenal fans do a lot of the same stuff with Tottenham fans. But, they ARE our local rivals, and the fact that Tott'Scum fans still think they support a big club leads me to believe that they need to be knocked down 10 or 20 pegs...for their own good. But, in general (not as a whole, as I know some cool Man U fans), they're a bunch of smug, ignorant pricks. Hell, they make Yankee fans look like Mr. Congeniality.

6. "There's only two sets of rules in this game! Errr....wait a minute...." -- Outside of that AWESOME anamoly against Chelsea this season, when was the last time Man U got a penalty called on them at home? Hell, or on the road, for that matter. When I'm early for games at Nevada Smith's, they tend to have the video of last season's Manshit United highlights on, and every 30 seconds, I see van Divingcheat taking a penalty. However, there's a distinct lack of anything going the other way. Isn't that just amazing? While I don't recall Man U winning the Fair Play Award any time recently, it seems to me that in crucial situations, they ALWAYS get off the hook. I don't want to beat it into the ground, but compare Man U's cards to Arsenal's cards over the last 4 or 5 seasons. With a psychotic freak like Roy Keane in their side, how are they not up there with us?

So, in conclusion: Hey Manchester United! Kiss my sweet Irish ass, you pricks!

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