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The Midweek News

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After a week off . . . I’m ba-aaack! Between doctor and dentist appointments, post-work meetings, and the opening of The Two Towers, yours truly just didn’t have the time to churn out a news column, even in abbreviated form. You’ll note that Byron filled in nicely for me in my absence, so I made sure y’all were covered for your news fix. No abbreviated version this week, though, friends. It’s in the spirit of giving that I’m going full-out on this one, cutting no corners and leaving no stone unturned.


Don’t worry, I didn’t believe that, either. And I wrote it.


Anyway, in case you’ve forgotten in the last week, I’m Dr. Tom, and this is best damn rasslin’ news report on the whole wide internet. But before we get into the rasslin’, it’s important we don’t break with tradition.


Let’s Talk About FOOTBALL~!


“Who dat” losin’ to da Bungles?


Why, it was the Saints, the “Who Dat” kids of old, who continued to piss away their two wins over Tampa Bay. New Orleans has now lost to Minnesota, Detroit, and the freaking Bengals this season. That might not be grounds for expulsion from the league, but it does raise serious questions about the Saints’ ability to do anything in the playoffs. When you run into a lousy team, you’re supposed to beat them. Hold your own against the good teams while beating the scrubs, and you’ll do pretty well. While the Saints have beaten some good teams, they didn’t show up for a must-win game against the worst NFL team of the last decade. People blame the Saints’ losses on their defense, but losing to such a ridiculously beatable club is a failure of the whole team and the coaches.


On the home front, the Ravens squandered a chance to be in control of their own destiny, both in Sunday’s inexcusable loss to the Browns, and in the AFC playoff picture. I guess it’s good they’re not going to playoffs, since I’d rather find out Brian Billick has no balls during a regular season game. For those who missed it, here’s the situation: 4th-and-1 on the Cleveland 35, and you’re up 13-7. Cleveland has no timeouts left. The field goal would be 52 yards and into the wind. There’s about 2:30 on the clock. Do you . . .


A. Kick the field goal

B. Go for the first down

C. Punt


If you answered “C,” then you’re a gutless fucking pussy, and your only consolation is that a man who won the Super Bowl two years ago is, too. Going for it is absolutely the right decision. If you get the first down, you win the game, plain and simple. If you don’t get it, there’s a 25-yard difference in field position, but you’re also expressing confidence that your defense can stop Cleveland, as they had since the game’s first possession. Compounding this sin was the Ravens’ inexplicable decision to play the prevent-you-from-winning defense, despite only being ahead by six and giving the Cardiac Kids ample time to march down the field. Games are won and lost on the gridiron, but Billick’s spineless decision and the poor defensive schemes doomed an otherwise solid outing by the team. Poor officiating, which seems to be the norm in the NFL of late, was pretty even in shafting both sides, though I seriously question Chris McAlister’s late hit call on the winning drive. The Ravens are basically out of the playoff chase now, as are the Browns with Pittsburgh’s Monday night win.


Speaking of losing out, the Patriots sure seem to be doing a good job of that. The defending champs were looking pretty good at 8-5 – which was their record last year when they charged into the postseason – but they now sit at a tenuous 8-7. They’ve been falling behind early a lot this year, and despite Tom Brady’s early success, playing a pass-happy offense really isn’t their game. They didn’t beat the Rams by passing 55 times. They can actually win their division this weekend, which just goes to show how weak the AFC is right now.


Speaking of the AFC, the playoff picture became clearer on other fronts, as both Oakland and Tennessee clinched their respective divisions. The Titans started off 1-4, yet have rebounded incredibly well, and now sit at 10-5. Their loss in their past ten games was a squeaker to the Ravens, proving the Titans are still Baltimore’s bitches, regardless of divisions. Steve McNair should be getting serious consideration for the NFL’s MVP award, considering he’s played hurt the whole season and has still managed to play the best ball of his career. Home field is still up in the air, but I seriously doubt anyone outside of California wants Oakland to end up with it. The last weekend will decide a lot, as it should. Is it any wonder why football’s so much better than baseball?


Ok, let’s push along to the real reason we’re all here.


Raw: The Cliff Notes


As always, JHawk has your detailed Raw report taken care of. This might be the only week I’ve liked an episode of Raw more than he has.


-- Fire and Smoke vs. Two Fat Samoans. Standard fare from the opener. It was a fun little match, though I’d like to see the team of RVD and Kane higher up the card. 3/10


-- Test vs. D’Lo Brown. “Down with the Brown” is apparently D’Lo’s new catchphrase, which opens up a couple cans of worms the writers might not have intended. Anyway, D’Lo gets DQ’ed for shoving the ref after the zebra refused to count a Flair pin. OMG RACISM~! 1/10


-- Chris Harvard vs. The Hurricane. Maven provides the distraction, and Hurricane wins a two-minute affair. It’s about time he came out on the good end of a two-minute match, instead of being fed to much larger men with far less talent. 1/10


-- Batista vs. Spike Damn Dudley. Squash. DUD, though the powerbomb on the guardrail almost persuaded me to throw a half-point out there.


-- Victoria/Ivory/Molly vs. Jackie Not-Gayda/Yummy Stacy/Trish. The girls were dressed in Santa suits, with Molly’s being appropriately frumpy, of course. Trish picks up the duke (duchess?) on Ivory. Fun little match, if completely empty. 2/10


-- Chris-Chris vs. Black Gold. This was the highlight of the show here. An excellent 16:00+ affair that sees the champs retain after Goldust rolls up Jericho with some help from a handful of tights. Both teams should move on to something else, so if this was the blowoff, if was a good one. 8/10


-- Storm/Regal vs. Jim Ross/Jerry Lawler. Yes, you read that right. Lawler does all the “work” for his team, of course, and a Dudleys run-in turns the tide. JR shows Regal the Power of the Punch for the win. At least this time, Ross didn’t get his face shoved into another man’s ass. Homecomings have to be bittersweet for him. DUD


Other Developments: D’Lo Brown’s new mean streak continued, as he tried to steal Stacy away from Test to jumpstart his career. If they let D’Lo do a little more in the ring, this could be a good turn for him. F-View showed JR and Lawler commenting on the Raw Rewind, when JR got his face crammed into Vince’s ass last year. Easy E and High Chief Morley made the announcers wrestle or get replaced by Tony Shill-vone and Jesse Ventura. I’d LOVE to see the latter replace Lawler, however it happens. Jericho created some more self-doubt for Goldust by calling him the weak link of the team, but the Gold One redeemed himself by pinning Jericho. It’s odd that Dustin Runnels now has the best-developed character on Raw after it looked like he came back for a nostalgia run last year. HHH and Scott Steiner arm-wrestled, and the one who took more steroids won. HHH is actually playing a heel this time, but they’re still booking him as the underdog, which should be reserved for the babyface. Overall, this was a decent episode, with the excellent tag title match carrying the in-ring action, and the Goldust/Jericho skit carrying the vignettes.


As The Smackdown! Turns


Smackdown pulled in a 3.3 rating last week, putting UPN in fourth place for the night. That’s down from the 3.5-3.6 the show was consistently getting a short while ago. I’m sure the recent pushes of the HOSSES BAH GAWD on a show that used to be known for quality wrestling has NOTHING to do with the rating . . .


In other Smackdown news, reports have been circulating almost everywhere that UPN is considering changing the show to one hour. The reasons are tied to advertising: some advertisers shy away because of the wrestling stigma, and the show’s not what it once was in terms of bringing in the big dollars. There is talk of either expanding Velocity, re-branding Heat to SD, moving it or Velocity to another, better night, or turning Smackdown into two one-hour shows. With the split roster now, WWE has to consider the TV time its Smackdown stars would get on a reduced show, as opposed to the time the Raw wrestlers would have. UPN is also concerned that Smackdown’s decent ratings are only serving to lead in the local news, not another UPN show that might benefit from a stronger lead-in.


My solution: I have two possibilities, actually. The first is to start Smackdown at 7:30 instead of 8:00. My local UPN affiliate runs syndicated sitcoms in that spot, as I imagine most do. Things like that can always be moved around. This way, UPN could put a show on at 9:30 that can benefit from Smackdown as a lead-in, and the wrestlers still get two hours of airtime each week. Velocity and Heat would be unaffected.


The other possibility is to make Smackdown ninety minutes. I remember at least one episode running an hour and a half so UPN could debut a show behind it. While it’s a half-hour less time, that would probably force the writers to concentrate on the ring to get things over. Less time could be wasted putzing around backstage or devoting airtime to pointless bimbo feuds. This would lead to less airtime no matter what, though, so Velocity would have to be moved to a better timeslot – and given some better matches – to make up for it.


Taking Smackdown down to one hour, or making it into a pair of one-hour shows, though, would not be good moves, in my not-so humble opinion.


(Credits: Nielsen Media Research; PWTorch Newsletter)


Grasping At The Usual Straws


It’s kind of funny that whenever the McMahons are asked about the business being down, they grasp at straws for answers to satisfy the interviewers. A couple months back, Linda actually mentioned Test as a rising star. I guess the laughter from that one finally died down, because there was some more Q&A with the McMahons last week.


Basically, 2003 is going to be a better year because WWE will persist in making stupid business decisions. OK, I added that last part, but I think you’ll agree before long. Who would want a WWE-themed wireless phone? Wow, 500 minutes a month for $30, and for just $1.95 per minute, I can hear a prerecorded, insincere message from an actual wrestler? Oooh, sign me up. WWE is still considering producing movies, and they might want to get around to it, since they started an adjunct company for that earlier this year. There was also talk of a WWE cartoon show. It would be there that the “lack of support” for HHH could be made up, as I’m sure he’d spit a deluge of water and batter the Evil Forces from TNA to the ground. Of course, more overseas tours will be held. When the business is down, nothing makes a statement to your investors like taking million-dollar talents into disease-riddled third-world countries to entertain people who barely speak English. Of course, the statement it makes is, “Help! I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my own company!” but at least it says something.


There has also been talk of WWE starting an all-wrestling channel. They’ve denied this in the past, but it makes a lot of sense. They have tons of old WWF footage, plus the WCW tape libraries. WWE is also trying to acquire the tape libraries of ECW, the AWA, and the UWF/Mid-South. If they get at least two of those, look for the wrestling channel to become a reality. As long as they show good footage, I think it would be a money-maker for them.


(Credit: Wrestlingobserver.com, and its newsletter for the last bit)


In Other News, Sun Rises In East Again Today


HHH’s politics are again becoming a problem.


It’s reported that there’s a feeling in the Raw locker room: Raw is the place where HHH gets showcased, and Smackdown is the place to watch your star rise. (The hoss pushes might change that perception, but I’m sure everyone hopes that sad situation is only temporary.) Apparently, RVD being left off the Armageddon card entirely is what hammered this point home in the eyes of some.


Word is that RVD and a couple other Raw wrestlers are hoping they could find their way to Smackdown soon. Personally, I’d gladly trade all the hosses on Smackdown for RVD, Hurricane, and Chris Jericho.


(Credit: Rajahwwf.com)


The Once And Future (snicker, snicker) Savior


Bill Goldberg did a radio interview a few days ago. As usual, he talked about his favorite subject: himself. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:


-- Said he was in the right place at the right time for the winning streak, an alleged 173-0. Goldberg also put Hulk Hogan over big here.


-- Said Vince Russo was a joke and that he’d like to get his hands on him.


-- He enjoys wrestling in Japan, where he has a thirteen-month contract and only has to wrestle seven times. Goldberg says this keeps his mind and body fresh (duh), and makes it more meaningful when he’s in front of the fans. Excuse the beeping noise, please; that’s just my bullshit detector going off.


-- Said he’s had some talks about working Mania 19. Goldberg put over The Rock, Steve Austin, Undertaker, and Kurt Angle as people he’d like to work with. He also said he knows how he’d deal with HHH if he tried to pull any politics.


-- Said he lays down for absolutely nobody. I’m really surprised he and HHH don’t get along after hearing things like that.


Personally, I think bringing Goldberg in would be a HUGE mistake. He meant something to the business four years ago, but WCW is almost two years dead, and Goldberg stopped mattering a good while before that. Add in his carelessness in the ring, unwillingness to work a full schedule, and admission to the fact that he wrestles only for the money, and you have precisely the kind of person WWE doesn’t need right now. All of those factors, of course, mean he’ll sign sooner or later. Desperate men do desperate things, and many reports indicate that Vince McMahon is quite a desperate chap these days.


The full interview can be found at http://www.noholdsbarredwrestling.com.


Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, Brother


The first part of what will be a bipartite interview with Hulk Hogan aired on TSN’s “Off The Record” last night. Here are some highlights, and some of them are more . . . shall we say, interesting, than others.


-- Said he had no problem jobbing to Brock a second time, which was the plan all along. He also said that going on a winning streak and then getting beaten by Lesnar would have elevated Brock even more. It’s good to see that some things never change, isn’t it?


-- Said he wishes the creative team would “take the high road” when it comes to storylines, and that he rejected a couple of ideas for his return on those grounds.


-- Said that WWE underestimated the reaction his return got, and failed to properly capitalize on it as a result.


-- Said that he would have passed the torch if he were in Steve Austin’s position, instead of just walking out because of some problems. My response to this can be summed up quite neatly: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!


-- Said that the fans have finally figured Rock out: he’s using wrestling as a vehicle for the movies. I have to disagree with this one. Rock doesn’t need to wrestle anymore. He gets paid quite nicely to do much less risky work in Hollywood. But whenever he has an extended break, he comes back to WWE. When Austin walked out and they needed star power on the show, who was there? When Brock needed to win the belt, who dropped it to him? Rock always comes back and always puts people over. Sure, he’s a main event guy and all that, but he jobs more than anyone else in the main event scene. It’s a shame he’s wrestling around his movie schedule instead of the opposite – which leads to the conclusion Hogan drew – but the fans have to get used to it. It’s obvious he still cares about the business, probably a lot more than some folks we see every week.


-- Says he decided not to be a locker room leader because he didn’t want to alienate anyone. You can add your own punchlines to this one.


-- Says Mick Foley wouldn’t be having physical problems if he had trained properly. Obviously, Foley should have followed the training program of HHH, who is the picture of perfect health . . .


-- Says that Trish Stratus won everyone’s respect by working constantly to improve, and for her willingness to potentially mar her beautiful face and body by taking bumps. I’ve been giving Trish props for a while now, and she definitely deserves them. It’s good to see that her peers think so, too.


Part 2 airs tomorrow night.


(Credit: 1wrestling.com for the highlights)


Pimping The Ho Ho Ho’s


Since I haven’t done this column in two weeks, and since it’s a holiday, I’m willing to lend my millions . . . okay, hundreds of thousands of hits to my fellow TSM staffers.


Jay Spree gifted everyone with a comprehensive review of the ECW DVD “Path of Destruction.” Jay also did an equally excellent and comprehensive review of Legends of Wrestling 2. He’s about more than just DVD news, folks, and you should definitely give him a read.


“Metal Ed” Bonham reminded us all what Xmas is about . . . sort of. For those who don’t frequent the TSM Forums, Ed is better known as our very own Danny Gregory, and yours truly really wishes he’d write more for the site in his non-Metal Ed persona. Hint, hint, and all that.


Peter “Fake Razor” Ramon always does a good job with the highest-rated weekend B-show of them all.


Brandon Truitt got one more shoot interview off the “to do” pile, a sit-down with two of the most famous ladies in wrestling history: Missy Hyatt and Tammy Sytch. Brandon’s also been getting props from chaps like Tom Zenk, so you know it’s worth your time to click that link.


Byron continued bringing the news fix to the junkies among you with this weekend’s Newsflash.


Edward Robins put everyone in the proper Xmas spirit by reviewing a movie that paints religion with the brushes of drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, corruption, and premarital sex. Gotta love it.


There. I expects gifts in the mail from all of you.


Quick Hits, News, And Sundry Asides


Credit for the following tidbits belongs to Wrestlingobserver.com, PWTorch.com, RajahWWF.com, and 1wrestling.com.


-- Due to not having any movies scheduled until the fall, The Rock is expected back for about six months when his latest project wraps up.


-- HHH is in line to play Conan’s son in the next Conan movie. Ah-nult will again reprise his role as the barbarian. The Rock was up for the part, but it was decided that HHH has a better look for it. Stringy-haired steroid fiends were obviously quite common in Conan’s time.


-- TNN is considering a re-branding, along with a new name, with a target audience of 25-34 year-old males.


-- Tickets for next month’s Royal Rumble sold out over the weekend.


-- The Steve Austin watch continues: many people believe he will be back in the fold by February, possibly in time to be a mystery entrant in the Royal Rumble.


-- Mick Foley’s no-compete clause in his former WWE contract expires shortly. NWA: TNA is justifiably interested in bringing Foley aboard in some capacity.


-- Scott Taylor (Scotty 2 Hotty) is reported to be uncertain whether he will be able to return from neck surgery. Obviously, the Worm is quite taxing to a fused spine.

That’ll do it for this edition of The Midweek News. While there might only be a few hours left in the day, I’d like to wish the millions (and millions!) of you reading this a Merry Xmas. If you don’t celebrate Xmas, then Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, or Cheerful Saturnalia. If you’re an atheist like me, I hope your day of family and presents was enjoyable. Whatever you celebrated today, I hope it was a good one. I’ll be back tomorrow with Smackdown. Ave atque vale.


Dr. Tom

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