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The Midweek News

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Guest TSMAdmin



Happy New Year and all that, as this is the first Midweek News column of 2003. It’s also the 26th overall, meaning I’ve been doing this gig for a half a year here at TSM. I would expound more on that, but I resolved not to depress myself to the point that I need a drunken stupor to pull me out of it, so we’ll just leave it alone.


Anyway, since we partiers and revelers established that auld acquaintances should not be forgot(ten) last night, welcome back to the best damn rasslin’ news column on the whole wide internet. I hope everyone hoisted enough brewskies and other adult beverages last night. Surprisingly enough, I stayed sober last night, mainly since I was at a party with a bunch of people, none of whom are heavy drinkers. If you take nothing else away from these columns of mine, kids, remember this: being the only slobbering drunk at a party = bad form.


We’re going to kick things off in the usual way.


Let’s Talk About FOOTBALL~!


With bonus college content, too! But first, we’ll cover the players who get paid above the table.


In more recent news, Bill Parcells was finally announced as the next coach of the Cowgirls, and Rich Gannon won the league’s MVP award. Parcells was given control over his coaching staff, the roster, and less of Jerry Jones on the sidelines. All good perks, especially the last one. The deal is worth $17.1 million over four years. Gannon edged out Brett Favre in becoming the only league MVP who wasn’t even wanted out of college, and had to sit out a year because no one bothered to pick him up. He revitalized his career in Kansas City, and has been very good for the Raiders the last three seasons. He might be 37, but Gannon was a backup and a journeyman for many years, so there’s not much mileage on his arm. He can still scramble, too, so he should have at least three good years left. Besides, the Raiders let Vince Evans play until he started collecting Social Security, so they can certainly stick with Gannon a few more seasons. On a personal note, I had Gannon on my fantasy team (in the money league, where I’m pretty sure I finished fourth), and I enjoyed all of his 4700 passing yards and 26 TDs.


The playoff picture came down to the last weekend before being finalized. My Ravens played themselves out of the postseason by losing games they should have won the past two weeks. Jeff Blake got picked off in the end zone to wrap up the Pittsburgh game, forcing the ball into double coverage when a field goal would have sent the game into overtime. The Ravens moved the ball very well in the second half, so I would have been perfectly happy to see the game go into the extra period. But no, Blake again shows that he’s all arm and no brain, and the Ravens have an extended winter of fishing and golfing ahead of them. I’d like to see them bring in Jake Plummer (a guy who’s shown he knows how to win, despite being saddled with shitty teams every year, and someone who’s a leader on the field) and David Boston (a big, physical receiver, something the Ravens lack) from Arizona, shore up the offensive line, and head into next season. The Ravens have a lot of cap money to spend, after getting themselves out of Cap Hell this season and fielding the youngest team in league history as a result. I know they weren’t expected to contend for the playoffs, but when you’re in position to get there, it’s frustrating when that doesn’t happen. Still, I have to say it was a good season, considering how young the team was, and the important injuries that beset them along the way.


Games this weekend: Colts-Jets and Browns-Steelers in the AFC; Falcons-Packers and Giants-49ers in the NFC. Early predictions:


Colts-Jets: The Jets keep their hot streak alive. Chad Pennington is playing some excellent football, and Curtis Martin isn’t slowed by ankle problems. Also, Marvin Harrison will suffer without Qadry Ismail on the other side to draw coverage. Everyone knows Reggie Wayne isn’t all that, and you need only look at Harrison’s numbers from this past weekend (6 catches for 28 yards) to see the impact of Q’s absence. Factor in the inconsistent rushing game, and it’s going to be a long day for the Colts.


Browns-Steelers: Pittsburgh won both regular-season games by a field goal. The Browns are the Cardiac Kids, and if the game is close late, they have an excellent chance to win. I’m going with the upset here and taking Cleveland. They’re on a pretty good run, while Pittsburgh struggled to beat the Ravens. Tommy Maddox doesn’t protect the ball well enough, and I think the Browns’ D will stop the Bettis/Zereoue tandem effectively.


Falcons-Packers: It’s Lambeau, it’s the playoffs, it’s another Packers win. I think the Falcons will give them a few fits along the way, but Brett Favre has known how to win playoff games since Mike Vick was in middle school.


Giants-49ers: I’ll have to go with the other Jersey team here. The Giants are just on a roll, while the 49ers have been inconsistent. Take the hot hands heading into the playoffs. Jim Fassel has revitalized the Giants’ offense since he started calling the plays, and the whole offensive unit has responded with some excellent performances. Look for that to continue at least one more week.


The Titans, Raiders, Bucs, and Eagles all have first-round byes, with the Raiders and Eagles having home field throughout the playoffs in their respective conferences.


In college, it’s time to Fear The Turtle once again, after Maryland capped off an 11-win season by completely dismantling Tennessee. The Vols provided little competition, bowing out 30-3 in the Peach Bowl, ending their worst season (8-5) in a dog’s age. Allow me to say . . . YEAH TERPS~! In a few select other bowls, Virginia smashed their separatist brethren 48-22 in the dismally named Continental Tire Bowl. Byron Leftwich ended his college career on a winning note, as Marshall beat Louisville 38-15 in the GMAC Bowl. Michigan upended Florida, 38-30, in a good Outback Bowl contest. Had Florida won, I think Rex Grossman would have declared for the NFL draft, where The Ball Coach certainly would have been salivating at the prospect of drafting the latest Gator QB to fail in the pro ranks. In a solid Gator Bowl matchup, NC State beat Notre Dame 28-6, ending the Irish’s season at 10-3. After their unbeaten start, some people probably expected more out of Notre Dame, but remember this team was 5-6 with the same players last year. Tyrone Willingham came in and revived the program, which was definitely on the decline, and did the most with a sub-.500 team. There are no doubt a bunch of good ol’ boys who are spinning in their graves at the thought of a black man coaching Notre Dame, but the fact is, Willingham got results. Hopefully, this will open up some more opportunities in the college ranks. Willingham has already declined a couple offers in the NFL, so his effect on the sport is encouraging already.


I guess it’s about time to get to the real reason we’re here.


Raw: The Cliff Notes


It was a best-of show, but JHawk still has your detailed Raw report ready to go. I think I’ve talked about all of these matches before (except maybe the Rock-Hogan bout (** for the wrestling, ***** for the crowd heat and SE value)), so there’s really no need to get into them again. It’s pretty easy to quibble with some of the choices (like the Jeff Hardy-Undertaker ladder match), but the presentation was good enough. Nothing of note happened, of course, since this was a best-of show.


Note: Smackdown! is live this week to kick off the New Year.


Weekend Ratings Not To Hang Yourself By


Velocity broke out of the 0.7 doldrums, picking up a 0.9 this week. Someone should make a sign the next time they go to a Smackdown/Velocity taping: Velocity: 1.0 Or Bust! Of course it was a good show, since I recapped it.


Confidential pulled in a 0.8 on a repeat week.


Sunday Night Heat carried the weekend flag again, getting a 1.1 rating.


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


Just What The Hell Does “Auld Lang Syne” Mean, Anyway?


Since it’s understandably a slow news week, I figure you won’t mind a little diversion. And if you do . . . well, too goddamn bad.


Auld lang syne” literally means “old long ago,” though a better and more gramatically sensible translation would be, “times gone by.” The song that is sung on New Year’s was adapted from several traditional songs in Scotland, England, and France (dating as far back as 1568), by Rabbie (Robert) Burns. Commonly, just the first verse and the chorus are sung, though the first verse is often done incorrectly, and the song has many more verses besides.


If you’re interested, the complete lyrics are available right here. Now you, too, can sing along to “Auld Lang Syne” next year, when Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve again blights the airwaves. I swear, Dick Clark must be a lich who feeds on the life essences of the younger B, C, and D-list celebrities who turn up on his annual ball-dropping extravaganza.


Steroids Don’t Fix That


Scott Steiner doesn’t seem to be impressing many people in WWE right away. He’s been working some house show matches, typically about five minutes or so, and is reportedly getting very blown up, despite not doing a lot of offense. This can’t bode particularly well for his match with HHH at the Royal Rumble, since most PPV main event-level matches go twenty minutes or more. Steiner is said to need a lot of work on his cardio conditioning at this point.


Other reports also say that, while Steiner’s conditioning and timing need work, his body is simply broken down. It’s believed he’ll have to be protected in the ring once he starts wrestling on TV, just to hide his weaknesses.


(Credit: PWTorch.com newsletter)


From The “I’m Back!” “You Left?” Department


Shawn Stasiak is dropping some pretty strong hints that he’s returning to WWE in mid-January. He was supposed to do a radio interview for No Holds Barred Wrestling, but backed out on short notice, saying he didn’t want to get any heat with his return so close. You may recall that Stasiak spilled the beans a couple years ago, announcing on the radio before WMX7 that he’d signed with the WWF, and that he and 24 other WCW chaps would be putting in appearances. That earned him a lot of heat within WWF, and almost got him fired before he started. His relationship with the company has always been rocky, but it looks like he’ll be back again.


(Credit: No Holds Barred Wrestling, 1wrestling.com)


Quick Hits, Notes, And Sundry Asides


Since this a pretty slow week for news, I’m going to do the rest in quick-hit format.


Sources are wrestlingobserver.com, PWTorch.com, their respective newsletters, Rajahwwf.com, and 1wrestling.com, so give them the credit and the props.


-- Author Richard O’Sullivan has contacted Linda McMahon, demanding compensation for the opening description used by Gene Okerlund setting up the Ric Flair plane crash segment on Confidential. O’Sullivan claims it’s almost verbatim from a book draft he wrote a couple years ago. A lawsuit is threatened if he’s not compensated.


-- HHH has been railing against Tough Enough and Confidential, saying they have exposed the business and undermined his heel character. I’ll agree with him on the first part, especially concerning Tough Enough. If people believe nine weeks of training on an MTV show is all it takes to be a pro wrestler, then it takes a lot of the “magic” away. The business had become exposed long before either show hit the air, though, and I think the poisoned fruits of that are now being harvested in the dreary ratings and tepid public response to everything WWE does. HHH’s heel character foundering is his own fault, though, and shifting the blame isn’t going to change that.


-- Steve Austin is capitalizing on the movie craze, too. Austin has signed on to voice himself in “Celebrity Deathmatch: The Movie,” which is expected to come out later this year.


-- Reports are beginning to circulate that Bill Goldberg has signed a two-match deal with WWE. Ostensibly, he’ll work both WrestleMania and Backlash against the Rock, with each man getting one win (great, Rocky jobs at Mania yet again). Goldberg would also appear on TV shows between the two cards, but in a non-wrestling role. It’s unknown whether Goldberg will sign long-term with WWE, but this will at least give them a chance to gauge fan reactions to him, as well as his ring work, before making a horrible mistake and signing him to a real contract.


-- It’s starting to look like there’s a good chance The Rock will be turned heel when he returns. It’s about freaking time. This would also allow him to feud with Goldberg (presuming he signs) and Steve Austin. Austin-Rock has been done before, but not with Rock in the clear heel role, and they always put on good matches, anyway. Sign me up.


-- Hulk Hogan talked some more about his possible return to WWE at a recent book signing. He said he doesn’t know when or if he’ll be back, but he wants to return with Jimmy Hart as his manager, and to “Real American” playing him to the ring. He mentioned a possible match against Vince McMahon at Mania.


-- Lance Storm is reportedly upset that footage of him talking to the students on Tough Enough didn’t make it to the air. MTV apparently thought Storm was too bland, though his visit was said to be very helpful to the students.


-- In the “I haven’t made this mistake yet, so why not try it?” department, rumors are going around that Vince McMahon is thinking about handing the reins of Raw to Eric Bischoff for six months. He’d be allowed to bring in new talent to improve the show, though it’s unknown how large his role in the overall creative process would be. This is a disaster waiting to happen, IMO, since Bischoff has never before shown any acumen for running a national wrestling promotion.

That’s all for this edition of the Midweek News. I hope everyone’s new year was a good one, and that 2003 is better than 2002 for all of us. I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of the live Smackdown. Ave atque vale.


Dr. Tom

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