THE WEEKEND NEWS

Since this is a PPV weekend, that means Dames is on Summerslam detail, and I'm pulling double news duty this week. I think he's getting the better end of this deal, friends . . .

There was no winner in Wednesday's edition of Spot The Classic. I did toss a rather obscure one out there this time, and I guess there are no fans of Dorothy Parker among my millions (ahem) of readers. "Money is only congealed snow" is a quote from Ms. Parker – who was known for her poor spending habits – compiled in the book The Late Mrs. Dorothy Parker by Leslie Frewin. I'm not going to do a Classic in this report, since it's still a slow news week, and doubling up on obscure literary references is probably unfair.

Now that the old business is off the agenda, let's delve into all the news that's fit to steal, all the dirt that's fit to deal, and all the mud that's fit to sling.

Kane's Pyro = Ratings~!

Like Raw, Smackdown got a small ratings bump this week, earning a 3.6 composite rating (6.0 share). That's up .1 from last week, and is a good sign considering the ratings for the show have been flagging for some time. With Raw making the same improvement, it's obvious that Kane's pyro draws about 11,000 viewers all by itself.

(Credit: 1wrestling.com, Nielsen Media Research)

College Football, Injuries, And Hosses, BAH GAWD!

It's the weekend, so you know what that means . . . time to dive into another edition of the always-exciting and never kayfabed Ross Report and pull out the interesting snippets and "highlights!"

-- JR puts over each match on the PPV as if it were a ***** classic, like he always does. Summerslam does look to be a very solid card, though.

On the notable injury front:

-- RVD is working thru elbow pain, believed to be tendonitis or bone chips. He'll be evaluated next week.

-- Maven will be out eight more weeks while his ankle heals.

-- Val Venis is still a few weeks away from coming back after his freak neck injury.

-- Kanyon still needs a couple weeks to recover from the open wound in his shoulder. It'll be a few months before he gets back in the ring.

-- Jazz will be out another one to three months after her knee surgery.

-- Kevin Nash will pause his rehab from quadriceps surgery to attend Summerslam. It'll be sometime around Wrestlemania that he'll be able to return.

-- Perry Saturn is expected to be 100% recovered from knee surgery sometime in October. No word on Moppy's recovery from the wood chipper incident.

-- Rhyno is looking at a November return, one year after his spinal fusion surgery.

-- JR put over the increasing quality of the free TV shows. He seems to favor Raw because it's live and done "without a net," but he did give props to the Smackdown wimps who tape their show two days in advance.

(Credit: WWE.com's Ross Report)

Don't Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Split Ya

It finally happened.

The moment many of the internet fans had been clamoring for for months – hell, for years in some cases – finally came to pass this week. X-Pac and WWE mutually agreed to part ways. This has been brewing for a few months, after X-Pac became increasingly difficult to work with and unwilling to job on more than one occasion. He then hid an injury from WWE staff that only became apparent when he passed out in the middle of an airport. He was taken off TV, and WWE had been negotiating with his agent to bring about his release ever since.

It's a shame that a guy who could be so good and so talented in the ring when he wanted to, saw his career bogged down by misplaced loyalties and general apathy.

(Credit: WWE.com's Ross Report)

Whatever Happened To The Super Machine?

Kane's return is apparently very close, and it looks like his gimmick has been tweaked a bit while he was sidelined with the arm injury. "Big Freak'n Machine" has apparently replaced "Big Red Machine" as the moniker du jour. Kane's outfit has also been restyled. The mask is a different design, smaller than before and with a different color pattern. Glen Jacobs has said the new mask allows him to breathe and speak easier.

The character of Kane continues to grow and transform. When he debuted, his costume covered all but one arm, and the mask hid his entire face. Then we had the voice-box period, when Kane tried to talk using the handheld silver device to help him. Since then, the costume hasn't been so all-inclusive, Kane has been able to speak quite normally, and now the mask is getting cut back as well. I think unmasking Kane would completely ruin what mystery the character has left, but WWE has done a good job of humanizing him since he first appeared.

After his return, Kane is expected to join the Smackdown roster. He was booked on Smackdown house shows in September with Kurt Angle as his opponent, but that has recently changed. Angle is now listed as having no opponent, with Undertaker and Brock Lesnar having a series of matches billed as interpromotional. Kane's absence from the house shows changed very recently. Take all of this for what you will.

(Credit: Wrestlingobserver.com)

I Am Not Knowing What All Of This Is About

The absurd trend of ignoring personal accountability in favor of just suing the pants off of someone continues. Gurjit Singh Hans, who wrestled under the name Tiger Ali Singh, is suing WWE for $7 million dollars, citing a career-ending injury he blames them for, as well as what he says was religious discrimination at the hands of other wrestlers.

Hans claims his turban, which is sacred in the Sikh religion, was stolen in 1999 and stuffed with cigarette butts and garbage by other WWE wrestlers. Hans claims they then referred to him as a "taxi driver." Those in and out of the business call this a "rib," and while it might not have been the most tasteful of ribs, at least Hans never had to deal with Bradshaw in the shower. He doesn't mention that in his lawsuit, at least.

The other major claim the Hans lawsuit makes is that he suffered a career-ending injury working an outdoor tag team match in the rain in Puerto Rico. WWE had allegedly encouraged him to go down there to work on his ring skills, though the injury occurred while Hans was wrestling for another promotion. Hans also claims he was forced to play a stereotype on then-WWF TV, having to wear a turban and make disparaging remarks about some of his people in America. WWE fans will note that Eddy Guerrero plays a stereotype, doesn't complain about it, and has managed to get over with it.

Hans' father, Jagjit Singh Hans, who wrestled as Tiger Jeet Singh, is also suing WWE for $1 million, claiming WWE stopped paying him in 1999.

WWE's position is that they were unaware of any harassment Hans may have suffered, and that they stopped paying him because he can no longer wrestle.

(Credit: Rajahwwf.com, The New York Post)

Encouraging Signs North Of The Border

Last night, Bret Hart honored a commitment he made two months ago, before his stroke and motorcycle accident. He appeared at Jacques Rougeau's show in Montreal, and was a huge hit with the fans. Hart signed autographs for about an hour, then made his way to the ring. He reportedly needed some help getting into the ring, but he's still recovering from a stroke, and things like that are to be expected.

After Hart addressed the fans about coming to Rougeau's show no matter what, the host himself got on the stick and told Hart he was "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be." This drew a huge pop from the crowd.

It's good to see Bret Hart moving down the road to recovery, and we wish him the best on his continued journey.

(Credit: 1wrestling.com)

Count The Posters And Napkins

WWE has started a rather conflicting contest.

First, all horny teenagers are encouraged to vote for the WWE Babe Of The Year (what, they're not Divas anymore? For shame!) at www.2002babeoftheyear.com. While voting for the hottie who made your hand cramp the most this year, you can also register for the grand prize, a round-trip getaway to New York, including nice hotel accommodations.

The conflicting part comes in when it says the winner will also receive a one-hour facial makeover at a spa of WWE's choosing, while accompanied by a Diva.

I don't get it . . . guys are going to vote in this poll, but the winner gets a makeover? Something seems profoundly wrong about that to me.

(Credit: Rajahwwf.com)

The Prophet Stared At His Crystal Ball

I'll close with Summerslam predictions. Opinions were offered on Summerslam, by myself and others, in our most recent Crossface here at TSM. In case you missed it, and even if you didn't, here are my picks, both for results and star ratings.

Eddy Guerrero vs. Edge: This should be a very good match. Edge is on his way up the card, and even though Eddy is in the upper midcard, we know he's not getting a main event push anytime soon. Edge is the logical winner here. ***1/2

Undertaker vs. Test: No one I've talked to is looking forward to this one. I admit that it could be brutally bad, but I think both guys will lace up their working boots and put on a watchable match for a major PPV. Undertaker wins, of course. **

Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho: Finally, a PPV where Jericho doesn't have to job. WWE's portrayed Flair as a crazy old man, so it's not like there's a lot of rub there to give. I look for this one to be good, but not great. Flair's just past that point in his career, as sad as it is for many of us to admit it. **1/2

Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio: This could be another booking quandary for WWE. If Mysterio wins, then the cruiserweight division looks good, while Angle becomes a joke. If Angle wins, WWE has to count on the fans recognizing Rey's good showing to give the cruisers the rub. I'm actually going to go with a screw ending here, as I think Kane will come out and play a large role in the finish. Let's go with Angle by DQ after Kane comes out. ***1/2

Storm/Christian vs. Booker/Goldust: For the Canadians to remain strong, they obviously need to win here. But remember that the anniversary of 9/11 is coming up, and there's no way WWE will have its tag team champs running down America and wearing inverted-flag T-shirts. I think the Canadians retain here, only to lose the straps on TV before that fateful day in September. ***

Chris Benoit vs. RVD: The rematch for the IC Title. The reason given for Benoit moving to Smackdown was to balance out the title scenario, which heavily favored Raw at the time. There's no point in reversing that field so soon. Look for this to be the match of the night. ****1/4

HHH vs. Shawn Michaels: This is an "unsanctioned" match, and I hope it's better than the last unsanctioned confrontation we got, where Undertaker punched DDP a couple of times and then left. The question is whether Shawn has anything in the tank at this point, especially considering his back. My take: his back's not broken, and he'll do what he can to make this watchable. HHH has to win here. **

The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar: All signs point to Lesnar winning the strap here, since Rock is about to take another Hollywood vacation. His absence will be very noticeable again, both in the ring and on the stick. WWE has been getting Lesnar over of late, though I still don't think he's over enough to carry the title. We'll see how it turns out; a lot depends on his first feud. ***

Overall, I think this should be a very solid show. WWE has been riding small increases in their free TV ratings of late, and a good outing at the PPV tonight could see those ratings continue to rise. Slow and steady often pays off, after all.


That's all for the weekend news. There's a bit of a switch coming in the TV coverage this week, as Smackdown will be pre-empted in my area. JHawk will take his excellent work to Smackdown this week, and I'll take my turn on Raw. I think he's getting the better end of that exchange. Damn, I'm just getting the short end of the stick all over the place this week. Check back later tonight for the post-Summerslam Crossface, where several of our writers will chime in with their thoughts on the PPV. Dames will also add his Diatribe on Summerslam, probably tomorrow. I'm leaving before I get shafted out of my email address . . .

Dr. Tom