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The Weekender

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Guest TSMAdmin



Since my first course is over and the second one doesn’t start until this coming Thursday, I have a gap in my workload. Times like these are when this article will appear. Those of you who were fans of my Midweek News column (now replaced by Peter Kostka’s “Hump Day News,” which really isn’t about the porn industry) will probably find this one similar. I expect this will have a little more in the way of opinion content to it, though, as well as some current events-themed stuff from time to time, talk about sports, etc.


However, for this introductory column, I’ll start things off with the wrestling content.


What Is The Sound Of No Hands Clapping?


Backlash is tonight, and that large round of indifference you heard sounds like everyone’s reaction. This looks like one of the most lackluster cards I’ve seen in a while. It was odd to watch Smackdown and see WWE do almost no promotional work for their PPV event that follows three days later. Maybe they’re already waving the white flag on this one, which might not be a bad decision based on the card. Of course, the Raw-only PPV that follows it (given the spectacularly unexciting name of “Bad Blood,” at least for now) threatens to suck even worse, simply because Raw sucks so bad. Since I missed TSM’s Crossface preview for Backlash, I’ll briefly run down the card and what I think of it.


The Rock vs. Goldberg: Considering Rock is going back to Hollywood very soon, the outcome here isn’t in doubt. Goldberg has to get the win so he can go on to lose to HHH soon. Don’t expect a classic, but this should at least be watchable, and the heat should be excellent.

Winner: Goldberg. Projected Rating: **1/2


Smackdown Title: Brock Lesnar © vs. John Cena: Cena’s buildup has been botched since his fluky win over The Undertaker, and there’s no reason for Brock to drop the strap here. It’s still good to see Cena get an important match on a PPV. He’s going to have more of them in the future, and he’ll probably win some of them, but not this one.

Winner: Brock Lesnar. Projected Rating: ***


Shawn Michaels, Booker T, and Kevin Nash vs. HHH, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho: So instead of the Fake World Title being defended, we get this. A lot of people are looking for the faces to go over, but I’m going with Team Naitch. This will help build the expected HHH-Nash match at the Raw PPV. Booker will probably eat a Pedigree at some point, too, just to hammer home the fact that he’ll never win the belt because he started with the wrong company.

Winners: HHH, Flair, and Jericho. Projected Rating: Highly dependent upon who gets the lion’s share of ring time. Let’s say they do it wisely and keep the cripples out as much as possible ... **3/4


Smackdown Tag Titles: Los Guerreros vs. Team Angle ©: This is a hard one to predict. Team Angle could use a win without Kurt to help legitimize their reign, while Los Guerreros need a win to cement their still-shaky face turn. I’m going with Team Angle to hold it for a while longer.

Winners: Team Angle. Projected Rating: ***1/4


Raw Tag Titles: RVD and Kane © vs. The Dudleys: Zzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzz. I really don’t give a shit about either team. The Dudleys are stale, and RVD and Kane are not a good pairing, IMO. The champs retain, but no one really gives a shit about these titles anyway.

Winners: RVD and Kane. Projected Rating: **


The Big Slow vs. Rey Mysterio: Who booked this crap? Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, what a dreadful matchup. I like Rey, but against a fat tub of shit thrice his size, he’s not going to have a good time out there. Unfortunately, I hear Slow is moving up the card again, so he has to win here, but I really hope Rey goes over.

Winner: The Big Slow, goddamnit. Projected Rating: 1/2 *, all for Rey.


Women’s Title: Trish Stratus © vs. Jazz: If these two ladies get enough time, this could be one of the better matches of the night. Jazz can work the tough girl style, and Trish has shown she can bump like a maniac. I think Jazz wins and goes on to feud with ... Victoria, I guess, since Molly is unfortunately a Heat jobber now.

Winner: Jazz. Projected Rating: **


Rikishi vs. Sean O’Haire. Let’s see how the smark darling does in the ring on a large stage. One thing Rikishi does well is bump, so you know he’ll make O’Haire’s offense look good. I can see both Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka getting involved in this one, but it doesn’t make sense for Rikishi to win. Piper lends a hand, but O’Haire gets the duke.

Winner: Sean O’Haire. Projected Rating: *1/4


Cruiserweight Title: Matt Hardy © vs. Brian “Spanky” Kendrick. This one may or not be on the card. It should be, since the fans need to see at least one action-based, fast-paced match live. Matt’s too over to drop the belt now, so if they do this match, he retains.

Winner: MATTITUDE~! Projected Rating: ***


Overall, nothing stands out, and a lot of the matches linger in the average-to-good range. I don’t expect Backlash to completely suck, but there’s no flagship match there for people to care about and remember. Most of the matches should at least be watchable and decent, but there’s really nothing on the card for the fans to really sink their teeth into. Backlash used to be something of a WrestleMania redux, and that was the better way to go with this one, instead of hot-shotting a bunch of meaningless feuds together in a few weeks.


This will be another of the Buyrates We Don’t Hear About For a While.


Kids, Lay Off The Crack


Jeff Hardy was fired this week by WWE, mere hours after our own Matt Ditaliano wrote an article saying how much he sucks. Perhaps someone in Titan Towers has TSM on their favorites list? Either way, it’s a move that could be seen coming a mile away. Jeff’s been unmotivated for quite some time now. He’s been blowing spots on TV with more and more frequency, and has had trouble appearing at house shows. When he was given “time off for personal reasons” recently, the writing was on the wall, and now we can all read it.


There’s a lot of speculation that Jeff was on drugs, particularly heroin and painkillers. We’ll probably never know (at least not for a while), but considering the daredevil style that brought Jeff to everyone’s attention in 2000-2001, it wouldn’t surprise me if he needed more than the recommended dosage of painkillers to sleep at night and be able to get up in the morning. Wrestling is a business that takes a great physical toll, and that toll is even higher when someone wrestles with a style like Jeff used. I’m not going to call him a painkiller addict, but I will say that I won’t be surprised if we eventually learn that. And if he does have that problem, then maybe being away from the wrestling business will allow him to overcome it.


Remember when the Hardy Boys had zero personality, and Matt was looked at as the one who would fall on his face in a singles push? It turns out Matt stepped up to the plate with the roster split and hit a home run with the “Mattitude” idea and his “Version One” character. It turns out that Matt was able to connect with the fans and make them are about him in a way Jeff just couldn’t.


Of course, the reason for his departure may be – as Bryan said in the Crossface chat – that kissing a hot chick finally pushed him over the edge.


You decide.


The Return of ... Let’s Talk About FOOTBALL~!


Those of you who read The Midweek News religiously (and yes, it WAS a religious experience) know that I typically kicked off the column by talking about the previous weekend’s football action. This continued throughout the playoffs, with previews and reviews of all the games. After the Super Bowl, I think we all wept into our beers a little at the lack of football content that would be featured in the column. However, with the NFL Draft this weekend, we can talk about America’s Sport once again.


I’m going to focus on the early picks from my hometown team, the Ravens, and give some impressions on the draft overall.


The Ravens’ Picks: Ozzie Newsome, Phil Savage, and Brian Billick obviously have experience working as a band of thieves. That’s the only way to explain the absolute STEAL of Terrell Suggs with the tenth overall pick. A guy who was a consensus top-five pick going into the Scouting Combine, Suggs apparently hurt himself by running his forty-yard dash time slower than expected. He called everyone back for a second run, and got an identical time of 4.8 seconds. Scouts and teams, who perhaps place more emphasis on Combine results than they should (doesn’t it matter that the kid had two dozen sacks last year?), shied away from Suggs based on his forty-yard time. When the first nine teams all passed on this top-five talent, the Ravens wisely stepped in and grabbed him. Where Suggs will play is not yet known, and he’s probably not the ideal weight for either position. He’s a little light for a defensive end in the NFL, so he’d need to add some weight without sacrificing his explosiveness off the ball. If he plays the Lawrence Taylor role of outside linebacker/occasional rushing end (like Peter Boulware does for the Ravens), then he could probably stand to shed a few pounds. This is a young man who needs to know his role early. Of course, if the Ravens decide on the latter option, a linebacking quartet of Boulware-Lewis-Hartwell-Suggs looks pretty dashed good.


Later in the first round, the Ravens traded up to take the highest-rated QB left on their draft board – and a player they were very high on – Cal graduate Kyle Boller. They traded their second-round pick this year and their first-round pick next year to New England for the right to move up and select the player they think is their franchise QB. Is he? It’s hard to say. Only his last year at Cal was impressive, but that’s also the year he got his footwork and mechanics straightened out. Formerly all over the place when he dropped back and threw, Boller now has good footwork and a compact throwing motion. He also has a big-league arm, as the video of him throwing a ball thru the uprights while kneeling at midfield will attest. How accurate he is while throwing on the run, and how accurate that strong arm is downfield against good pass defenses remain to be seen. I think Newsome and Savage have proven their draft acumen in years past, so if they think Boller is the real deal, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. All I can hope is that they don’t rush him into the starting role. Let him develop in the system, let him learn all he can, and give him another good receiver or two to look for down the field.


In the third round, the Ravens picked former Georgia RB Musa Smith, who did not run or work out at the Combine. A powerful runner with speed that’s a little above average, Smith is not known for his toughness or durability. I’m guessing he’ll see some time on special teams, and probably spell Jamal Lewis on short-yardage situations. Lewis is irritatingly fumble-prone near the goal line, with his patented one-handed reaches, so getting someone in there who can cover the ball up and move the pile would be a welcome change. How this pickup will affect Chester Taylor’s playing time has yet to be determined.


With their second pick in the fourth round, the Ravens snagged former Wake Forest FB Ovie Mughelli. Obviously lacking a strange name on the team after the departure of Obafemi Ayambadejo, the Ravens filled that need, and their need for a good blocking FB who can pull double duty as a tight end when needed. He needs to develop his upper-body strength some (Wake Forest’s weight program inexplicably omits the bench press), but Mughelli is a physical back who can wipe people out on blocks. He’s not a great pass catcher, but he can be groomed into that role.


Elsewhere Around The Draft: I really like the Ravens’ draft, but I’m used to them drafting well. A team that never drafts well and has managed to put together a tremendous draft, though, is the Bengals. With Marvin Lewis having some input into the selections, the Bengals have made very smart picks every time they’ve come to the podium. I’m not convinced Carson Palmer is the real deal (he’s not a leader, not very instinctive, and his accuracy plummets past short range), but he can definitely succeed in the right system. The Bengals had some talent last year, but the franchise’s stigma as a laughingstock is a large obstacle to overcome. Much like Jon Gruden did with the Tampa Bay cold-game playoff curse, Marvin Lewis will have to lift the “Bungles” reputation from players who did nothing to earn it.


Fuckheaded Team of the Draft Award goes to Minnesota, who managed to put their collective thumbs up their asses and pass on their seventh overall pick. Jacksonville smartly stepped up the plate and grabbed Byron Leftwich, and the Vikes didn’t get their pick until #9. Had their picks been tremendous, their gaffe could be forgiven, but Kevin Williams?


Drew Henson was a tremendous sixth-round pick by Houston. If he doesn’t crack the Yankees’ roster next season, he could abandon baseball and go back to his football career. Following an excellent run at Michigan, Henson could have been a top-five pick had he not opted to play baseball. Now, Houston has another young QB who can step in if David Carr gets hurt, or an attractive trade option, since they retain Henson’s rights thru next year’s draft. Very good pick.


As I write this, the sixth round is drawing to a close. Don’t be surprised at all if Ken Dorsey isn’t drafted. Being 38-2 as a college starter doesn’t matter when you cave under pressure, have a below-average arm, and happen to be surrounded by the best team in the nation. Being an undrafted free agent might serve Dorsey better, since it would give him more control over where he went. Someone will take a chance on him at some point, but I don’t really see him being anything better than a backup in the NFL. College success doesn’t guarantee pro success when the player has questionable NFL makeup.


Welcome Back, Good Riddance


Two returns could be looming on the horizon for WWE.


Certain to return is Billy Gunn. Injured in a non-televised show last year, there was concern until recently that Gunn would never be able to wrestle again because of the nerve damage in his arm. That damage has cleared up, except for some numbness around the radial nerve. Gunn’s original shoulder injury, suffered in 2000, was severe, to the point that orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews told him it was almost unfixable. Gunn’s gimmick has yet to be determined, with former partner Chuck Palumbo now in the FBI faction. He’s a serviceable veteran, though, who’s good in a tag team role, though his aspirations of being world champ in six months seem to be rather unreasonable.


WWE.com has a story about Gunn’s impending return here.


The other possible return is Lex Luger. Thankfully, he has shown a lot more interest in returning to WWE than WWE has shown in brining him aboard. Let’s hope it stays that way. There are already enough old guys who can’t wrestle on the roster without adding Luger to the mix. While he’s always had a great look, the fact remains that Luger sucks in the ring and is nothing special on the stick. His only value is in his name, which shouldn’t mean much to WWE fans at this point. Then again, I thought the same thing about Goldberg. Luger’s signing would definitely be a sign of the Apocalypse, or at least a sign that Vince McMahon has lost his mind and immersed himself fully in a self-destructive trip down Nostalgia Lane.


Quick Hits, Notes, and Sundry Asides


Yes, Will, you can use my Patented Column Wrapup Header if you need to. I’ll even be nice and not ask for any royalties.


-- The Matt Hardy/Spanky match does not appear on WWE’s official listing of the Backlash card. At this point, it might not even make it to Heat.


-- Kevin Millwood threw a no-hitter today for the Phillies, blanking the Giants. Financial deal or not, the Braves look like fucking retards now for letting him go and only getting a backup catcher in return. Considering Greg Maddux’s struggles, Millwood would look pretty good in the Atlanta rotation now.


-- The Philadelphia-Ottawa game (game 2 of the series; Ottawa leads 1-0) is at 7:00 tonight on ESPN2, and looks to be infinitely better than Backlash. As usual, the hockey playoffs have been excellent. How the ratings will be affected by expected Cup contenders Detroit and Colorado getting bounced early remains to be seen, but I think it’s great to see some new blood in there.


That’s all for this time, kids. This column will appear when my workload at school gives me a chance to do it. There will be no Smackdown from me this week (I’m out of town after school Thursday night, so JHawk and I are switching), so I’ll be liquored up and irascible for Raw tomorrow night. Ave atque vale.


Dr. Tom

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