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The Midweek News

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Since it looks to be (as usual for the past two months) a slow news week in the world of wrestling, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I’ll still get the week in wrestling news out, and I’ll get to combine it with a look at the NFL at the quarter-pole of the season. And you, the Eager Reader, get, at no additional cost, twice the amount of big hairy men groping each other for fun and profit, so everybody wins.


Since Monday Night Football is a better option than Raw recently – despite the best efforts of Jim Ross and Easy Eric to persuade you otherwise – I’m starting with football. If you’re not a big fan of the NFL (you suck), skip ahead to the grappling news.


Several teams have been surprising this year, as is always the case with the NFL. The hard salary cap forces parity, so while a lot of teams are vanilla and never draw much attention, there are a few every year that are notable for their unlikely success or unexpected ineptitude. Here are the pleasant and unpleasant surprises in the NFL this season, starting on the bad end because I’m a pessimist:


These Guys Really Suck


St. Louis Rams. Yeah, I know I said they were a playoff team at the start of the year. They still have the talent on offense, though the defense is hurting for the quality veterans (guys like Chidi Ahanotou) that Mike Martz jettisoned in the offseason because they didn’t bow down and suck his dick enough. Martz has now been fully exposed as a fraud, not an offensive genius. The pod person who replaced Kurt Warner has been injured, which might be a blessing for this team. If only Martz remembered that he had the game’s most explosive offensive weapon in his backfield, the Rams might have won a game this past week. Alas, Martz was as beholden to his image and ego as all exposed frauds are, and his playcalling (not taking the safe pass on third-and-3 late in the game) directly led to the missed field goal that allowed Dallas to pound the final nail in the Rams’ coffin.


Minnesota Vikings. Hey, that offense built around Randy Moss sure is turning heads, isn’t it? It’s just a shame they’re all turning to vomit. Moss has proven himself to be as flaky and unreliable as always, which seems to be the burden of those who are both immensely talented and immensely stupid. Mike Tice has made some incredibly conservative playcalls (what was that FG all about when you’re losing by a bajillion points?), and no one has stepped up anywhere. The Vikings’ best offensive player right now is Moe Williams, which should tell you something. Their defense insults Swiss cheese with the comparison (four touchdowns in under two minutes, guys?), their supposed star player is an infant and a clubhouse cancer, and their coach has no idea how to turn any of this around. It’s going to be a long season in Minnesota, folks. The Purple People have been eaten by their own internal problems.


New York Jets. J-E-S-T Jest Jest Jest! As in, “surely you jest that a team that can write Curtis Martin down for 1400 yards in August could be so thoroughly miserable.” Well, they can, and they are. Only a pair of special teams touchdowns saved the Jets in their first game, and they’ve been annihilated in their last three. Vinny Testaverde isn’t hurt enough to be out of the lineup, but Chad Pennington is getting the call anyway, which just means the Jest have given up on the season. Getting outscored 102-13 in your last three games can infect a team with that brand of malaise. Martin’s ankle problems have plagued the team, also, as has the dreadful play of the offensive line. The defense has been as porous as a sieve, allowing over 700 rushing yards in four games. Numbers like that are an embarrassment to teams that are mediocre, let alone good.


Cincinnati Bengals. Unlike the previous three teams, everyone expected the Bungles to suck. They always suck. They show no hope of not sucking anytime soon. Corey Dillon and Takeo Spikes deserve better.


These Guys ... Don’t Suck? Wassupwitdat?


San Diego Chargers. Hmm, maybe Marty-ball works after all. Marty Schottenheimer is 12-3 in his last fifteen regular-season games, and he's been fired during that time. The Chargers are probably playing a little over their heads, but consider this: they have a promising young QB, a young RB who's come into his own, a good defense, and good enough talent at receiver and offensive line. Oakland will beat them for the division title, but look for the Chargers to be hanging around come playoff time. Marty has brought his run-and-defense-based football to the West Coast, and he's having quite the time of it. People complain that kind of football isn't much fun, but when your team is undefeated, all the games are fun to watch. Believe me, I enjoyed the hell out of watching the Ravens in 2000. The Chargers aren't that good, but they're certainly on a roll right now.


Carolina Panthers. It's hard to believe this team was 1-15 last season. It's even harder to believe they're winning games with octogenarian Rodney Peete playing under center, but they are. Let's be clear about one thing, though: this team is not as good as their record indicates. They beat one bad team (the Ravens) and two miserable teams (the Lions and the Vikings) for their three wins. Almost taking the Packers into OT was a nice feat, but 1) the Packers are overrated, and 2) I think that was more the Pack looking past Carolina than the Panthers stepping up and playing. Enjoy this ride while it lasts, Panthers fans: your team isn't shitty like it was last year, but they're definitely playing over their heads. Both the Bucs and the Saints are better teams, and that will show over the course of the season. The Chargers have a real chance at the playoffs; the Panthers do not.


Quick Hits From The Squared Circle


Velocity earned a 0.7 rating, Confidential (the Austin episode repeated) got a 0.6, and Heat was the big wiener of the weekend with a 1.0. Props to the Nielsen folks.


According to 1bob, the decision to have the Raw announcers attack competing programs like Monday Night Football and Everybody Loves Raymond came from Vince McMahon himself. This is a reverse of the former policy, which never acknowledged the competition at all.


From the AP folks: Robin Christensen, the 23 year-old daughter of the late Andre The Giant, feels her father has been treated shabbily by WWE since his death in 1993. She would like WWE to have a ceremony honoring Andre at next year’s WrestleMania, in Seattle. Vince has promised a gala event, as always, but said there are no definite plans to honor Andre The Giant.


On his website, Kevin Nash posted a wishful prognosis for his recovery: he’d like to return by the Royal Rumble. Considering that’s less than four months off, Nash would be returning even faster than HHH did. It’s pretty obvious HHH returned sooner than he should have. Quad injuries like H and Nash suffered used to end careers, and they still require a long and difficult rehab process. It’s more important for anyone – but especially Nash, who has at least ten years on HHH – to let the leg heal fully and wait to return, instead of rushing back and being a slow cripple in the ring. Not that Nash wasn’t a slow cripple in the ring before, but he shouldn’t hamper himself anymore than he has to.


The Observer reports that WWE is considering giving Smackdown its own tag team titles. Considering how weak the division is to begin with, I fail to see how this is a good idea. If they would have simply let the tag team champions move between shows (like the Undisputed Champion used to do), this could have been avoided. The belt situation is starting to suck, and for a perspective on how I would have done things, look here.


According to the Torch, Vince McMahon indicated that he may have interest in reviving the ECW brand. This came up at a stockholders’ meeting. WWE is currently trying to gain the rights to all of ECW’s assets. Vince did say the company would focus on its two existing brands first, but said he felt there is still demand for ECW’s niche market, and that it would do well in a late-night time slot.


The Observer reports that WWA (remember them? Don’t worry, no one else does, either) is still planning to do a European tour next month. No talent has been booked as of yet, but Disco Inferno has been brought in to book the talent for the tour. We’ll see.


According to 1bob, Hulk Hogan reported on the radio that he is working for WWE without a contract. Hogan’s handshake deal has been fulfilled, and the WWE creative staff has told Hogan they have nothing for him right now. He added that he hasn’t spoken to anyone in WWE for weeks, and that he has no idea if or when he’ll be back.


There Was A Raw This Week?


I watched my Ravens school the Broncos on Monday night, so I missed Raw. I tried to convince myself to put a tape in for it, but … NO POBO~! Ergo, there will be no Raw Cliff Notes from me this week. If you don't already know what happened (and even if you do), check out JHawk's Raw Report for all your recapping needs. I'll tell you this, folks: Raw is very hit and miss (usually miss), but JHawk turns out consistently good reports every week. Even if you can count on the show to suck the baloney pony, you know TSM's recap is going to be a good one.

Since I'm a little short on time this week (and basically out of subject matter, too – convenient, no?), that's all for this edition of The Midweek News. I'll return tomorrow to dish the goods on Smackdown, and your weekend news fix will be in the capable hands of Byron Vester. Over and out.


Dr. Tom

Send me your mone ... er, mail.

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