THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 18-27
SummerSlam 2006 Report: Edge, Booker Sneak Out Of Boston With The Gold
   (August 20, 2006; TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA)
MAYHEM MADE SIMPLE (August 16, 2006)
MAYHEM MADE SIMPLE (August 9, 2006)
MAYHEM MADE SIMPLE (August 2, 2006)

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THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 18-27

By Frank Ingiosi

Most of you may be confused at what you’re looking at right now, and that’s understandable. After hours upon hours of playing Madden 2007 in your “crib” (which doubles as your folks’ attic), you roll out of bed only to find that your beloved “Tuesday Morning Turn” is nowhere to be found on the PWI Web site. No, your bloodshot eyes do not deceive you. For all intents and purposes, the “Tuesday Morning Turn”—as you all know and love it—is no more.

I’ll give you a moment to reflect on that last statement and get your head in order.

Everyone okay? Fantastic—on with the splaining.

I chose to make the format change for a few reasons, the primary of which is that I realized I had become something of the hypocrite. A wrestling writer … hypocritical … shocking, I know. Fortunately, I realized my flaw before it was too late and have decided to make right what once was wrong.

Basically, it occurred to me that as much as I bashed WWE for abandoning all responsibility for the Smackdown brand, I was just as guilty of ignoring the ugly, in-on-Friday-night, stepchild of WWE. That’s a big “my bad.” Plus, I actually received e-mails from people complaining that we didn’t cover Smackdown. Sure, they were all signed by a “Mr. T.A. Tanka,” but still, there were plenty of them. Them Lakotas sure love their Blackberrys, I’ll tell you that much.

Sorry, losing focus. And … back.

So, realizing the error of my ways, I marched up the gold lined hallway, past the armed guards, and made my way into the office of the president of PWI. Once there, I demanded that Mr. Kappa fork over some extra dough so that I could properly get in the mindset to deliver the extra analysis of Smackdown on a weekly basis. I had him cornered—his only option was to either pay me that which I so richly deserve, or watch my world-class ass walk right out the doors of PWI, never to return.

He agreed to allow me to do the column for free, and he promised to forget about my “little burst of confidence.” Good guy, that Mr. Kappa.

Enjoy “The Turn”—three days later, and roughly four-times more entertaining.

* * *

Smackdown (8.18):
So, for the first time—that I can recall—in the Internet age, word leaked that The Undertaker-Great Khali “Last Man Standing” match was aired on Smackdown (and won by ’Taker) rather than at SummerSlam because WWE was not pleased with the lack of progress Khali had shown.

Was this a good move? Absolutely. Not only were fans completely disinterested in the outcome of this feud, but also the quicker WWE could get past the Khali era the better. He was a liability in the ring, and absolutely ridiculous during his “speaking” segments. Undoubtedly, those who enjoy criticizing WWE’s policy of pushing talentless giants were given a great boost by this most recent flop. Personally, I’m just glad no one got seriously hurt.

To think, ’Taker actually dropped a match to this modern-day Giant Gonzales. Oh well; if Khali saunters quickly enough, he may be able to catch up to Imposter Kane.

Perhaps Smackdown should follow suit with the current angle involving the Guerreros and Rey Mysterio Jr. and just have the whole damn thing go away. Sure, that won’t happen, but a fella can dream, no?

Last Friday, Vickie Guerrero pleaded with Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long to cancel the pending match at SummerSlam between Mysterio and Chavo Jr. over who has the right to live off of Eddie’s legacy for another six months. History shows that Vickie failed in her efforts, and Chavo would go on to defeat Mysterio after the grieving widow “accidentally” bumped Rey.

Hmm … I wonder what will happen later tonight.

In other Smackdown news:
Montel Vontavious Porter is apparently still negotiating with WWE regarding his in-ring debut with the company. Reports are the last sticking point between the sides is just how much his greedy athlete gimmick will suck.

I’m really enjoying what Smackdown is doing with the brand’s tag division. The addition of Idol Stevens and K.C. James is a nice touch for a division jam packed with talent. For those of us who dig classic tag team contests, it doesn’t get any better than Smackdown right now. No, I’m not kidding.

Ken Kennedy is being wasted by the minute. WWE must move him to Raw … soon. Right on his heels: one Bobby Lashley.

Allow me to admit up front that I’m a huge fan of King Booker—always have been, always will be. However, his days appear numbered now that Batista has his sights fixed firmly on the big gold belt. After attempting to force the “Animal” to kiss his boots last Friday, the Smackdown World champion took the first of what promises to be a series of beatings on his way to becoming a six-time former world champion. The lesson here, kids: Be strong and huge and to hell with wrestling ability and charisma.

* * *

Raw (8.21):
The biggest return in the history of American professional wrestling was the re-emergence of Jeff Hardy on Raw this past Monday night. Okay, that may be overstating things a bit. But that’s the impression that WWE would have liked the fans to buy into.

Hardy, whose “demons” appear to have been sit-ups and a light jog here and there, appeared to bulk up a fair deal since his last televised appearance. Still, the “Daredevil” looked good. The fans were hot for Hardy, who fought valiantly against Edge in a relatively innocuous matchup.

Interestingly, and I’m not sure anyone else is geeky enough to notice this crap, but J.R. and Jerry Lawler used the word “impact” four times while mentioning Hardy. Shot at TNA? You betcha.

From new beginnings to predictable endings: Mick Foley’s been both goofy looking and around wrestling long enough to know the age-old incontrovertible truth: beautiful women are nothing but trouble. This maxim held true as the always-devious Melina turned against Foley after the hardcore legend kissed the rump of Mr. McMahon to save her job.

Heartbroken, Foley was nailed by a low blow by Melina, whose shocking acts came much to the surprise of … well … pretty much only Foley. Is there anyone else in the wrestling world—with at least one operable eye—that didn’t see Melina turning against Foley? Now, Foley is officially fired from WWE and Melina has leapt past Diva Search winner Layla to become most likely to be groped by Vinnie Mac as part of a “storyline.”

In other Raw news:
The Highlanders teamed with Jim Duggan and Eugene to defeat The Spirit Squad in an eight-man tag team match. I hate to admit it, but The Highlanders are growing on me. They’re just a fun team to watch with a surprising amount of talent. My prediction: They’ll be slobbering and chewing on the straps by year’s end.

Thanks to DX—who spray-painted everything from the WWE jet to Titan Tower—Vince McMahon felt “gnarly” on Monday night, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. On a related note, I felt radical … dork.

WWE doesn’t realize how good it has it with both Trish Stratus and Victoria. Despite reports of her pending departure, Stratus is the new number-one contender to the women’s title held by part-time woman and full-time skank Lita.

Evolution’s bookends met just one night after Orton (no doubt reeking of old man smell at this point) lost to Hulk Hogan and Flair defeated Foley at SummerSlam. Orton got the quick win and beat on “Naitch” until Carlito—who had words with Orton earlier in the evening—made the save, raising the question: Is he getting pushed to be one of the big boys or is Orton down in the I-C division?

The Kane and Umaga feud that will no-doubt result from Umaga’s attacking of “The Big Red Machine” could be the best we’ll see in WWE during the rest of 2006. Yes—you just read that.

Just how skewed is WWE’s view is of reality? Well, after a preview for John Cena’s WWE Films debut in The Marine, complete with sexual innuendo, explosions, gunfire, and enough violence to make Kill Bill look like a documentary on Japanese culture, “Good Ol’” Jim Ross refers to it as “a film for the whole family.” Who can blame the guy; when the company’s idea of a family value is Vince McMahon, The Marine seems damn near suitable for all audiences.

* * *

ECW (8.22):
It’s as if everyone’s favorite “suicidal, homicidal, genocidal” uncle, Sabu, felt the collective pain of the ECW faithful and reacted accordingly during his championship rematch with The Big Show.

About seven minutes into a surprisingly well-contested bout, Sabu lost whatever shred of patience he still possessed and proceeded to brain Show with the ring bell at least a half-a-dozen times, busting the ECW champion open and dropping him off the ring apron and through a table on the arena floor.

While Sabu did not walk out of Wilkes-Barre with the title, his calculated act of brutality may have done far more for a brand still struggling to determine its identity. In essence, Sabu was pummeling all that the fans detested about the new ECW in the form of Show, while still maintaining the new WWE feel. So, while it still made me feel dirty to enjoy WWE’s ECW, I was able to rationalize it far easier. Now that’s what a one-night stand is supposed to feel like.

In other ECW news:
If there ever was something to drop to your knees and thank whatever deity you believe in for the fact that you’re a man, it would have to be Torrie Wilson, who appeared on ECW as part of an “Extreme Bikini Contest” with Kelly Kelly. Does she belong on an episode of ECW—well, no … no way in hell, to be accurate. But still, I’ll take her over the sexy, yet tremendously uncomfortable Kelly any day.

Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman are 35 and 43 years old, respectively. I bring this up only to point out that these two grizzled veterans are putting the 31-year-old Test and 28-year-old Mike Knox to shame in their feud. And ECW needed these two guys, why?

Some new additions to the hardcore, psychotic symphony that is ECW are:
Matt Striker: A man with a teacher gimmick that singlehandedly has kept the sweater vest industry afloat.
Hardcore Holly: I’m thinking I’ll change my name to “Sex With Models And Stacks Of Cash” Frank because apparently, in wrestling, if you’re named it, then you’re automatically entitled to it. Sweet.

ECW’s vampire, Kevin Thorn, and his valet of the undead, Ariel, have been impressive during the past few weeks. Thorn is looking relatively solid in his limited appearances, whereas it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before Ariel’s something pops out of her something and Sci-Fi Channel fans everywhere blog feverishly.

C.M. Punk defeated Charles W. Anderson in what has to go down as his most difficult match to date in ECW. Still, Punk made quick work of Anderson, forcing the original-ECWer to tap out to the “Anaconda Vice.” It may be early, but I feel it’s time to start the countdown: By WrestleMania 23, C.M. Punk will be part of the Raw roster.

Remember when Rob Van Dam was important?

* * *

Impact (8.24):
The re-education of Christian Cage continued last night with the former NWA World champion attempting to explain to the fans why he turned against Sting at Hard Justice. Cage’s scathing indictment of Sting—as well as the fans that support him—was brief, harsh, and absolutely perfect.

It’s always been my belief that fans of TNA weren’t thrilled to see Cage jump from WWE to Orlando, but rather they were excited at the symbolism of the whole event. They felt as if they had pulled a fast one on Vinnie Mac by having one of his own turn their back for the greener pastures of TNA. In reality, it could have been anyone from WWE coming to TNA last November and the fans would have likely gone just as mad.

But, alas, it was Cage who was immediately embraced by the fans, causing him to lose his edginess and play nice. Now, as a full-blown heel, Cage can be the man everyone loved to hate during his career. Add to that a very nasty, personal feud with Rhino, and Cage is right where he belongs: near the bottom of the card and bending the rules.

In other TNA news:
While I’m still not ready to give up on The “Newly Franchised” Naturals, it seems that each week either sees them win an inconsequential match or lose an important one and get yelled at. The only way Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens are going to get the respect mentor Shane Douglas wants them to have is by doing the logical thing (in professional wrestling at least) and turn against him as soon as possible.

Did you ever pick up a thumbtack and accidentally jab your finger with the pointy part. Okay—multiply that feeling by 10,000 and you should have a general idea of what Brother Runt will feel like during next week’s 10,000 thumbtack match with Abyss. For good measure, have your neighbor soak himself, wrap a belt around his face, and beat the crap out of you for like 10 minutes in order to get the full effect.

Homicide and Hernandez of The Latin American Xchange defeated A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels to win the NWA World tag team title in front of a stunned crowd at the Impact Zone after Konnan interfered to assist his brethren. With the victory, Konnan officially cemented his place as the most successful hanger-on in modern wrestling history, passing former record-holder Shawn Waltman in the process.

SummerSlam 2006 Report: Edge, Booker Sneak Out Of Boston With The Gold
(August 20, 2006; TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA)

By Frank Ingiosi

The third leg of WWE’s “big four” pay-per-view cards kicked off last night from historic Boston, Massachusetts, with the highlight of the evening slated to be hometown boy-made good (then hated, then beloved, then hated again) John Cena taking on the reviled Edge in the hopes of winning his third Raw World championship.

The rest of the card was filled with high-profile grudge matches (including one with the Smackdown World title on the line) that promised to signal the end of some battles as well as the possible start of future angles. The unofficial end of the WWE summer looked to usher in the next phase of WWE’s road to Detroit and WrestleMania 23.

* * *

From First To Worst
In the battle of Eddie-lite vs. Eddie Jr., Chavo Guerrero defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. (who was headlining shows roughly a month ago) in a hotly contested match that set the tone of the night, and not in a positive manner.

Both men closely imitated the repertoire of Eddie Guerrero throughout the match, with the “retired” Chavo appearing to have not missed a step since he walked away from the industry on Raw back in April. In the end, it was Vickie Guerrero’s “accidental” bump into Mysterio, knocking him off the top rope prior to him executing a frog splash that allowed Chavo to take the advantage. Eddie’s nephew landed a frogsplash of his own to gain the victory.

With the belief among many that Vickie will turn against Rey and support Chavo, I still hold on to the slight possibility that she’ll do the right thing, align with Rey, and hopefully help bring about the end of this angle, as well as using Eddie as part of WWE programming.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of information: The fans booed both men at various points. Even the wildly popular Mysterio was subject to the displeasure of the fans, which should prove to WWE that the use of Eddie as part of an angle has more than run its course at this point. The fans are rebelling; the next step is to stop watching.

* * *

The Rodney Dangerfield Of Pro Wrestling Is …
The Big Show!

I’m reasonably certain that Show could beat Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and Bob Backlund in a four-corners match and still be considered a joke to many fans.

Show retained the ECW title over Sabu in an extreme rules match that, in all honesty, should favor the smaller, more innovative Sabu than the larger, stronger champion. Add to that the fact that Sabu is flat-out nuts and has been in this situation literally hundreds of times and you’ve got a Triple-H-John Cena ’Mania 22 situation where the challenger is not only the fan favorite, but also the odds-on favorite. And, just like that April night in Chicago, it would be the less popular champion walking away, gold still in tow.

What might be the most unfortunate byproduct of what should be Show’s defining moment as ECW champion is the fact that regardless of whom he defeats, the big guy will never get the respect or admiration a promotion’s champion needs to have. It’s not a great sign for ECW when the champion is not simply disliked, but rather not respected by the fans.

* * *

Turn The Page
In a match flowing with symbolism—and its fair share of sloppy wrestling—Hulk Hogan bested a man roughly 30 years his junior to maintain the status as the only WWE legend that cannot fall to “The Legend Killer.” While I may fall into the minority of people that feel that the “Hulkster’s” mad-as-hell, well-intended beatdowns don’t work well in today’s industry (see Cena, John), I must admit that this was a great move on WWE’s part.

There was no way—via interference or otherwise—that WWE could have their biggest legend fall to anyone on one of its biggest pay-per-views, even if he’s not part of the active roster. Having Hogan win last night in Boston was a throwback to the great legacy of the exciting WWF days, and really I have no problem with that.

While I’m certain that this angle will go on until every last penny that can be made from it has been pocketed, I hope this signals a change in the career path for both wrestlers, particularly Orton. The legends are running out, and the gimmick is quite stale, leaving no better time for a change of direction for the third-generation grappler.

* * *

Nowhere To Go But Down
Arguably, the match with the greatest amount of hype leading up to it that didn’t involve a McMahon was the Mick Foley-Ric Flair “I Quit” match.

Taken for what it was meant to be—simply an entertaining and brutal grudge match—the Flair-Foley contest was very good. Both men reached new levels of violence and mayhem, with Flair being the obvious surprise of the night due to his willingness to sacrifice his body in ways no one would expect a 16-time former world champion to do. Foley was at his hardcore finest, proving once again to the world why he’s the best hardcore wrestler alive today (feel free to gripe about that to, and you’d better bring your “A” game, Terry Funk fans).

Toss the sultry Melina into the mix (she was in Foley’s corner) and we have all the sex, violence, and intrigue that WWE promises us on a weekly basis. Yet, in the end, this match did virtually nothing to elevate the legacy of either man. Sure, Flair competed—and won—a vicious hardcore match, but will that ever be recounted amongst his all-time best? And Foley—with so much more to lose—dropped his specialty match to a 58-year-old man whose experience in the modern-day version of hardcore matches is limited at best.

Flair walked out of Boston last night the victor, but, in the long run, the biggest winners were the fans, who were treated to a relatively exciting match.

* * *

All Hail, The Bookers
A first glance, the King Booker-Batista match for the Smackdown World title was not only painful to watch, but so unsatisfying as to actually evoke anger from an increasingly frustrated fanbase.

However, a closer examination proves that not only was a sloppy, DQ victory for Batista (Sharmell smacked him on the back) a good thing, but a necessity for the long-term survival of the entire Smackdown brand.

Let me put this as bluntly as possible without using profanity or sketches: Smackdown needs this feud to survive or else it has nothing. Were Batista able to reclaim the title last night (as everyone expects him to at some point), then what is the incentive to watch a minute of Smackdown over the next few months? Quick answer—until Bobby Lashley is chasing the big gold belt, nothing.

Plus, from a marketing standpoint, there was very little buildup to a major, SD World title match. Clearly, the folks running the Friday night brand know that not only are they second (possibly third) fiddle in the WWE pecking order, but also that even during a big, cross-brand card, they’re still not considered equals. Why give it away for free? Save the inevitable Booker-Batista grand showdown for a Smackdown-only PPV somewhere down the road.

Sure, this match was bad on the eyes, but likely good for Smackdown.

* * *

Fun While It Lasted
I hate to do this, as I feel I’m actually betraying the 17-year-old in my psyche that was able to enjoy the first run of DeGeneration X, but it’s time to end this angle now. Actually, the time to end the angle was probably a few weeks ago (circa the feces drop), but now seems like a fine point for Trips and HBK to go their separate ways.

Basically, last night’s grudge match between DX and the McMahons would have been the main event of the evening were the card not in Boston—the hometown of one John Cena, who was competing for the Raw World title. That is truly a scary thought, considering that not only was there no stipulations placed on the match, but also that the angle really has been going nowhere over the past few weeks.

In the end, DX prevailed over two multimillionaires who aren’t trained as professional wrestlers. The McMahons attempted to increase their odds of winning by recruiting the likes of The Spirit Squad, Umaga, and basically every heel from the Smackdown roster who wasn’t being used on the card to attack the degenerates and soften them up for the Chairman and his baby boy.

And, while there is no doubt in my mind that DX will be standing there on Raw tonight insinuating that their boss is latently homosexual, I feel I must reiterate that the time is now to wean the fans off of their green-and-black addiction.

* * *

Hometown Disadvantage
Was there any doubt in the minds of the fans that John Cena wouldn’t walk out of TD Banknorth Garden with his third Raw World title? Cena, of nearby West Newberry, Masachusetts, seemed a lock to take home the strap in a match that would actually cost Edge the title were strumpet Lita to interfere on his behalf. The stage was set for Cena to once again reign atop WWE’s top brand and at the same time reclaim his throne in front of throngs of his hometown supporters.

And, then, the usually complacent WWE threw the fans the ultimate curveball.

Edge—the most entertaining heel champion in WWE in a long time—used a well-timed brass knuckles shot to the back of Cena’s head to retain the title and send thousands of 13- 25-year-old females home disappointed. Cena, the odds-on favorite to win, not only lost the match (and yet another shot at the title), but he may have lost even more of the fickle fan base.

The chants of “Cena Sucks!” boomed throughout the arena and were clearly audible to the television audience … and this was in Cena’s hometown! Five years ago, a response such as this would have prompted an innovative WWF to make a change—and fast. Today, it seems as if the company is turning two deaf ears to the fans when it comes to Cena, who would be more marketable as a heel right now than he currently is as a fan favorite.

WWE must turn this man; turn him now, and make it a memorable one.

MAYHEM MADE SIMPLE (August 16, 2006)

By Frank Ingiosi

In all honesty, any wrestling fan who has watched WWE programming for any amount of time knows that the final program before a pay-per-view is generally intended to build up buy rates for the card. And, to be entirely honest, I’m okay with that; it’s just part of doing business.

Unfortunately, I don’t think ECW has the luxury of throwing away a program at this stage of the new brand’s development to pump an event like SummerSlam. While I don’t expect anything to be different (WWE is pulling the strings), I’m going to hold out hope that ECW continues in the positive direction it’s been heading.

* * *

Stumbling Out Of The Blocks
It’s funny, of all the angles heading into SummerSlam, I figured that the one that was beaten to death nearly as much as DX and the McMahons would be the pending bloodbath between Ric Flair and Mick Foley. Mercifully, Monday night appeared to signal the end of the war of words that is a Flair-Foley angle … until tonight.

For my own sanity, I will not rehash in-depth Foley’s rant or Flair’s response, as it would just perpetuate the angle that will not die. However, for those of you out there who may not have access to the Sci-Fi Channel, here’s a quick breakdown: “washed up piece of crap,” followed by punches. Ta-da!

Still, as far as a subliminal marketing campaign goes, last night’s Flair-Foley segment may have worked as well as could have been expected. Foley hit the fans with PPV buildup and followed it with the lovely Kelly Kelly and Melina seductively dancing with the hardcore legend in the ring.

Sadly, Foley was the second-best dancer in the ring, as Kelly still has yet to master the fine art of the standing lap dance.

* * *

Lines Of The Night
Tonight’s selections were chosen for sheer ridiculousness as well as the uncanny ability to make me angry. None of these gentlemen should be in ECW, and to hammer that point home, WWE apparently burdened them with awful angles. Enjoy!

Bronze: “Question authority.” This clichéd sentiment was urged by Shannon Moore, who was inexplicably staring into a corner when the cameraman approached him.

Silver: “We all know I’m the most beautiful man in sports entertainment.” Renee Dupree pushing yet another “pretty boy” gimmick during his photo shoot, which, for those of you keeping score, is not extreme.

Gold: “That’s assault! I’m pressing charges!” The 7-foot-tall Big Show—who took no legal action when Kane attempted to pull his eyeball out—to Kurt Angle after the Olympian slapped him a few times in the chest.

* * *

C.M. Punk kicked Justin Credible’s ass yet again, defeating the former ECW champion with the vicious “Anaconda Vice.” As much as I like Punk, I think ECW’s use of Credible thus far has been the most disappointing and ridiculous aspect of the new brand. He’s become the whipping boy for whomever WWE is looking to get over with the fans.

Still, how good is Punk? While last night wasn’t the greatest match of his career, Punk still looked solid. At one point—and this is the truth—he kicked Credible so damn hard in the face that my girlfriend actually heard it in the other room.

* * *

Climbing The Ladder
For those of us out there who shudder at the thought of a sloppy, ill-conceived wrestling match, last night’s ladder match between RVD and Sabu should have been a nightmare. Fortunately, after about 15 minutes of unusually sloppy wrestling, both remembered that they’re very good wrestlers and have done this hundreds of times before.

As part of the RVD punishment program, Sabu walked away with the contract after grabbing the shoddy-looking “legal” document while on top of The Big Show’s shoulders. Show interfered in the ladder match hoping to prevent either man from winning the title shot at SummerSlam.

I have to admit that I’m glad Sabu is nearing the top of ECW, but … didn’t this guy get arrested as well? As someone with extensive legal training and a $100,000 piece of paper to prove it, rest assured that there’s no one out there who’s a bigger fan of “innocent until proven guilty” than myself. Still, after looking at the police reports, and reading other published versions of the story, one point still rings true—Sabu was arrested as well, on a lesser charge, but incarcerated nonetheless.

While I support, and personally am a fan of, Sabu, the mixed message that this sends to the fans is confusing at best.

* * *

What Did We Learn?

After two solid weeks of programming, ECW took a bit of a necessary step backward with this throw-away program prior to SummerSlam. And, while this was pretty much what I expected last night, it’s still a bit disappointing.

I was hoping—perhaps naïvely—that ECW would buck the trend and continue on its path, primarily because only one ECW match was announced for SummerSlam. That being the case, it seemed pointless to grind the progress of the brand to a halt in order to push one match. Unfortunately, that was the case last night.

Still, I’m not ready to kill off all the good will I’ve been throwing ECW’s way the past few weeks. The brand seemed to be moving in the right direction prior to last night’s PPV preview, and thus I’m willing to give it a WWE-mandated mulligan for last night. Sometimes, I can be quite the kind and merciful guy, no?


By Frank Ingiosi

The Raw World champion had a bad night last night.

He stumbled twice during his promo to open the program, once by announcing that he had a title match against Carlito (which he didn’t) and then by losing track of the “chapters” in his “story” with John Cena. While these stumbles were overcome by the always-adept timing of Jim Ross (who questioned whether Edge had lost his mind), they were merely the least of Edge’s night of discomfort.

How does a champion with a massive ego take it when any amount of the spotlight is taken from him? Likely not well. Hence it should be interesting to see how Edge handles Lita’s women’s title victory over Mickie James. No doubt the champ is groping and tongue-kissing his precious belt a little more this morning as he clings to relevance.

Top all of this off with a sound thrashing by Cena during his match with Carlito, and Edge must officially be considered an underdog (or less of a favorite) going into SummerSlam this weekend. The champ is physically and mentally on the ropes right now, making him prime for defeat this Sunday in Boston.

Check out the show this weekend. It’s going to be better than you think.

* * *

Not The First Time
Lita is now the women’s champ, which may well be a none-too-veiled plea by WWE to keep her with the company when her contract expires, as it looks like wildly popular Diva Trish Stratus is on her way out, and WWE can’t afford to lose two big-name, legitimate female wrestlers.

WWE’s main brand is now in the position where an acknowledged on-screen couple holds the top titles in their respective genders. If I’m correct, the last time a couple in WWE held both the Raw World and women’s title was Triple-H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley in 2000. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, and I’ll feel free to ignore you and rewrite wrestling history, McMahon-style.

* * *

Let’s See Where It Goes
Umaga beat another jobber, and, to be quite honest, I’m actually intrigued by the “Manster” (half man-half monster—get it? That’s a portmanteau for you literary geek-types … you know who you are).

I want to see how WWE would’ve handled a Bill Goldberg-like streak had he called Stamford home during his heyday. Either WWE has come up with a failsafe way to handle Umaga’s eventual first loss (and it will happen), or the “Samoan Bulldozer” is expendable and thus being booked into a corner with no real future in sight. Either way, it should be a fun ride for a while.

* * *

All Things Equal
It’s somewhat amusing to think of the ramifications of a Johnny Nitro, 27, and Ric Flair, 57, fight.

Were this to occur anywhere else other than a wrestling ring, Nitro would likely beat the legend’s tanned ass to within an inch of his life. Here, in WWE-land, the cagey veteran Flair—whose body now resembles pruned, shower fingers—is likely to pull off the victory. Wrasslin’ is the ultimate equalizer, and that is why we love it.

Still, speaking of asses: If one competes for “face time” with someone’s ass and is somehow less compelling, what does that say about his (cough, Nitro’s) face? Or, conversely, her (Melina’s) ass? That may be one of them there circular questions.

* * *

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of a Divas water fight.

If there was no contest involved and it was simply a matter of one segment a week being devoted to a Diva water contest, I’d be okay with that. And by “okay” I mean I’d start my own in the office cast with some of the finest ladies I can bring in off the mean streets of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Hot!

* * *

Was it just me, or did Shawn Michaels slink a bit to his right when Triple-H referred to himself as the “King Of Kings”? Expecting a bolt of lightening?

* * *

Not Quite Oscar And Felix
I generally agree with about 90 percent of what “Good Ol’” Jim Ross says. However, I feel that I must take exception with his assessment of the tandem of Jim Duggan and Eugene as WWE’s Odd Couple.

I’ve consulted my associates who are far better versed in classic television (no one here has seen the play), and they confirm my initial belief that the premise of The Odd Couple was the focus on two men with quirky, yet opposite, personalities.

When, in the case of Eugene and Duggan, you have essentially the same character, only one of them carries a board, that doesn’t exactly fit the premise. Just because they’re odd, and there are two of them, doesn’t mean the analogy works.

Ahh, with that off my chest, I feel that I can finally get to the match. Duggan and Eugene pulled off the non-title victory over The Spirit Squad with some help from The Highlanders. While the victory was impressive, the more interesting aspect was Jim Ross hammering away at the “uniqueness” of each Squad member. Sounds like there may be five new additions to the mid-card very soon.

* * *

Not expecting much from the Randy Orton-Hulk Hogan showdown that was slated to close the program was probably the best approach to take as what started out as a silly, retread of Orton insulting a fake Hogan turned into sheer comedy when the real Hulkster made his appearance.

Hogan made his dramatic entrance and proceeded to pummel both Orton and his red and yellow doppelganger, the latter of which bounced around the ring like, well, someone who didn’t belong in a wrestling ring. For those of you who didn’t see it, picture this: Hogan’s sloppy wrestling combined with a non-wrestler and—voilà—you have the official recipe for disaster.

They should’ve just gone with a dressed-up midget, like the good old days.


By Frank Ingiosi

As I write this, TNA is a mere three days from its Hard Justice pay-per-view and, for the first time in a very long time, I must admit that things seem to be amiss down in Orlando. Maybe TNA is still reveling in the announcement that October’s Bound For Glory (or “our Super Bowl” as Don West would have you believe) would be the promotion’s first off-site pay-per-view event; or, maybe Hard Justice is what I like to call a “transitional pay-per-view.”

“Transitional pay-per-views” are pretty much self-explanatory. These are the shows that a promotion put on with really no intention of having anything groundbreaking happen. In WWE, this would be your No Way Out or another overlooked show prior to a bigger card. It’s a way of maintaining a 12-PPV-per-year schedule at the expense of quality and intrigue. It is, unfortunately, the state of the business right now.

While TNA does have a better track record of producing enjoyable PPVs, Hard Justice is shaping up to be a disappointment before it even starts. I’m willing to give the promotion the benefit of the doubt this time around. Who knows—they may just surprise us.

* * *

Slow And Steady Loses The Fans
The Kevin Nash-X division experiment has reached an all-time low; not only is Nash avoiding contact at all costs, but when he does indeed wrestle, he’s slow … really, really slow.

What’s worse is that the angle that had so much potential a few months back seems to have run its course without anything really being resolved.

I remember an episode of Impact where Jay Lethal and Chris Sabin giddily emerged from their closed-door meeting with Jim Cornette excited as if they had an ace up their collective sleeve. For once, it appeared that the “vanilla midgets” had pulled one over on “Big Daddy Cool” and would exact some revenge on Nash. But then—nothing.

Was it that—over much time—they would slowly, and eventually get their revenge on Nash? Long, drawn out revenge plans don’t lend well to one-hour televised wrestling programs. Fans—myself included—have relatively short attention spans and, along those lines, a team getting their asses kicked on a weekly basis all as part of their grand scheme just doesn’t do it for me.

* * *

I know I was hard on them just weeks ago (let’s be fair, it was the angle I disliked, not the wrestlers), but LAX is continuing to impress me with each week. They are the only true heel tandem in the tag division; plus, their individual skills actually make them a better team, which is a rarity.

* * *

That’s Why He Calls Himself “King”
Jeff Jarrett has never been called a “cerebral wrestler,” but I think last night’s elimination of his own bodyguard may have been the smartest thing he’s done in years.

Going into Hard Justice and his match with Sting, Jarrett will be without Scott Steiner in his corner thanks to Christian Cage’s DQ win over “Big Poppa Pump” last night on Impact. At first glance, this seems to be a foolish move by Jarrett, who was the one that cost Steiner the match. Not only will he go it alone on Sunday, but Sting will have his friend Cage in his corner. By all accounts, this should spell doom for Jarrett, but, I believe that’s not the case.

See, Jarrett knows how badly Cage wants the NWA World title; he also knows how jealous Cage has become of his “friend” Sting over the past few months. Add into the thought process the fact that Jarrett knows—with every fiber of his being—that he cannot beat Steiner, and you have a perfectly calculated plan by the “King Of The Mountain.” Eliminate the unpredictable Steiner and then wait for the envious Cage to turn against his friend.

The best possible result: Sting wins, Cage turns against him, and we have a nice feud; the worst: Steiner interferes, Jarrett retains, we all die a little bit more inside.

* * *

I think we can all agree that Brother Runt will likely be crippled by Abyss on Sunday. But how much fun is it to watch him take down a massive competitor such as “The Monster”? Regardless of the outcome—and assuming Runt can still remember how to tie his shoes—the former Spike Dudley should head over to the X division and make a run at the strap.

MAYHEM MADE SIMPLE (August 9, 2006)

By Frank Ingiosi

Now the hot rumor making its rounds amongst those in the industry is that Paul Heyman has requested, and been granted, an increase in creative control over the ECW product. Of course, as with every rumor, I can’t emphasize enough that this is not, in fact, news, but rather something that may or may not be true, and is picked up and reported.

That being said, please bear in mind that I’m not here to confirm or deny said rumor; in fact, my sources won’t even respond to rumors when pressed (and trust me, I press). To be completely honest, I don’t particularly care whether the rumor is true or not. As far as I’m concerned, if ECW can continue to put forth cards such as the one it aired on Sci-Fi last week, I couldn’t care less who’s working behind the scenes.

My main concern, as is the case with many fans, is that WWE’s ECW is entertaining and, I know this may hurt some of you to read this, last week’s program was just that.

Of course, I still think the Phillies have a shot at the National League Wild Card, so that goes to show something about my naiveté.

* * *

Sweet Dreams
On paper, the opening contest of the evening appeared to allow me enough time to take the garbage out, iron a shirt, and basically get some stuff done around the apartment. Yes, that’s the kind of excitement a Mike Knox-Tommy Dreamer snooze-fest would usually bring with it around my apartment.

Boy, was I wrong.

Not only did the match devolve into a slugfest involving both The Sandman and Test, but, while there was actual wrestling (at least from Dreamer’s side), it was pretty good. I have to admit that I’m intrigued to see this rebirth of Tommy Dreamer and have developed a greater appreciation for his style of wrestling (and, yes, he does actually wrestle).

Plus, and, God, this sickens me, I’m starting to see potential in Mike Knox and Test. I’ll withhold my final judgment of the big men until I see them work with someone more their own speed.

* * *

There’s a fair amount about the new ECW that doesn’t work for me, but perhaps nothing is more disturbing than the solo, pre-taped vignettes that air with various ECW wrestlers telling us what they’re “all about.” Yes, I understand this is done to introduce ECW’s roster to the casual fan, but that doesn’t make it right or at all entertaining.

Oh, and the “Extremists” thing is still really making me uncomfy, so if WWE could go ahead and do something about that, it would be great—thanks!

* * *

Everyday ECW
As a public service, I thought it would be interesting to recommend ways that you—yes, you—reading this from whatever library you ducked into for free air conditioning, can bring the nuttiness that is ECW into your daily life.

Try this around the office today: Every time anything even remotely surprising happens today—and I’m talking things like seeing a fresh pot of coffee, or finding an extra packet of Post-It notes—just blurt out a classic, over-the-top Joey Styles “Oh, my God!”

Trust me—no one will get sick of that, and maybe even Sally down in shipping will lift that restraining order. Talk about a great Wednesday!

* * *

Despite her wanton attempts, Ariel hasn’t quite grown into her WWE mandated trashiness just yet. My recommendation: WWE should consider investing in a skanky Diva developmental territory where the eye candy of the future can hone the finer points of their craft, such as bra-and-panty matches, seductive dancing, and being groped by a 61-year-old billionaire.

* * *

There Can Be Only One
I like The Big Show. He’s a funny, charismatic guy that never has been in much of a position to allow it to show through. A few weeks back, he was mean, nasty, and—supposedly—all things “hardcore”; now, since he was trotted out in a suit, he’s going to be classy and vicious? What gives?

Oh wait, I get it: The Big Show is like that guy in the movie Highlander. Whenever he defeats someone, he absorbs his power. Think about it: Show beats Batista and now he’s using even fewer moves; he finishes off Kane and now he’s choppy and confusing on the mike; he beats Ric Flair and all of the sudden he cares about fashion?

I think we may have something here. Now, all Show has to do is beat someone with more than three legit moves and he may actually become a solid champion.

* * *

Anything ECW at SummerSlam just seems wrong.

* * *

C.M. Punk looks like he’ll be a favorite of the fans for the time being. Anyone who knows anything about Punk will tell you that he’s fun when he’s a good guy, and absolutely brilliant when he’s not feeling as affable.

* * *

Welcome back, RVD. Let’s see if ECW’s most high-profile suspension is thrust right back into the title chase, or if he’s put on the Randy Orton “job to stars/defeat guys who belong on Heat” plan.

* * *

What Did We Learn?

For the second week in a row, ECW was not only watchable, but nearly entertaining. It’s flowing more smoothly than it did during the first two months of the re-launch, and angles appear to be developing nicely.

Again, I’m not ready to formally throw my support behind the brand just yet after a couple of better-than-usual weeks. Plus, I refuse to go back and advocate for the “wait and see” approach that WWE—and myself—had pushed for so long. I find myself firmly entrenched in the “it is, what it is” camp. Still, the show is getting better by the week if viewed as WWE programming and not ECW. If you can train yourself to think that way, it may be worth checking out in the coming weeks.


By Frank Ingiosi

I saw how the other half lives.

For everyone who ever questioned why a young, angry Triple-H, or a title-driven veteran like The Undertaker would ever join up with Vince McMahon (and they both have at points), it must be because of all that being one of the “elite” promises. Fame, fortune, and easy livin’ awaits all who have either been blessed financial or, conversely, willing to abandon their dignity and follow the “Genetic Jackhammer.”

See, I spent the weekend in the wine region of pristine upstate New York, just west of Vinnie Mac’s kingdom, Connecticut. I, a guy who did not own a blazer until my senior year of college, was sipping fine wine as I watched yachts glide effortlessly across sapphire blue waters.

I suddenly hated myself for a moment. I’ve always prided myself on being something of—for lack of a more appropriate, real world comparison—an “anti-McMahon.” From humble beginnings I came, and from even humbler endings I intended to stay. Why?! What could possibly bring great hardasses like Triple-H, ’Taker, and myself to abandon all that makes us bitter to embrace the evil that is high society?

Because it’s pretty freakin’ sweet, that’s why.

Enjoy “The Turn”—selling out since Saturday.

* * *

Edge Of Reason
Perhaps, the most intriguing of all angles right now on Raw would be that of the torrid, non-love, love affair between Carlito, and the woman he sometimes saves, but mostly gets injured, Trish Stratus.

Last night—in the heat of the moment—Trish finally planted a kiss on Carlito prior to their mixed tag match against Lita and Edge that saw her get nailed with a vicious spear by the current Raw World champion.

With speculation running rampant that Trish (and possibly Lita) will bolt WWE for greener (that’s a money reference to the sarcastically challenged) pastures of Hollywood, it’s still a bit baffling that she gets as much face-time on Raw as she does. Despite being under contract for the better portion of 2006, Stacy Keibler was barely mentioned after dancing impresario Jerry Rice eliminated her from Dancing With The Stars.

If official word comes out that Stratus is leaving WWE upon the expiration of her contract, this angle would end up making as much sense as Imposter Kane, who, in my best guess, is off on some island with Shelton’s mama and other ill-conceived, short-lived angles that WWE wrote off with very little (or no) explanation.

* * *

Whether you love him or you hate him, very few fans could reasonably argue that Jonathan Coachman wasn’t born for his new role as henchman for the McMahon empire.

For once, this seems to be the proper utilization of non-wrestling talent; of course, this is only after years of trial and error.

* * *

Land Of Confusion
Allow me to apologize to anyone who may have bought into my theory that with the addition of Johnny Nitro to the mix the Intercontinental title picture would be more interesting. What I meant to say is more confusing and frustrating than ever before. It’s a common mistake, but one I intend to rectify in the weeks to come.

Just to catch anyone up who may have missed it last night—former WWF World champion and current WWE movie star extraordinaire Kane is now the number-one contender for the I-C strap after defeating Shelton Benjamin, who last week beat Carlito—who’s now leapt into the World title chase, somehow—to regain the top spot.

So, according to a link on that you cannot find even if you spend hours looking for it, here are the new rankings for the contenders to the I-C title:

Champion: Johnny Nitro
1. Kane
2. Shelton Benjamin
3. Me
4. The Honky Tonk Man
5. Pat Patterson

* * *

With Hulk Hogan’s injured knee—and I withhold my judgment on the legitimacy of it—keeping his match with Randy Orton at SummerSlam in limbo, it seems like this would be the perfect time to distance the controversial youngster from his dead-end “Legend Killer” gimmick.

Regardless of the legitimacy of the injury, it’s not a good sign when one’s opponents miss matches due to degenerative, pseudo-geriatric injuries. Orton, despite all of his issues, is far more valuable than that.

* * *

Wait … Was That A Shot At Us?
Was it merely a coincidence that John Cena stated that the only magazine Edge has the “privilege” of being on the cover on is that of Crying Bitch Illustrated. Coincidently, we here at Pro Wrestling Illustrated just had Edge on the cover of our August issue (available on newsstands everywhere for a paltry $5.95—it’ s like you’re stealing from us). And, for the record, we here at PWI choose only the highest quality crying bitches to be on the cover of our magazines.

This is odd seeing as how I’m usually up on other magazines’ cover stories so as to not repeat them with ours. Unfortunately, my subscription to CBI lapsed this past May, which is a shame because that must have been when Edge was used.

So, my apologies go out to our subscribers. I promise I will try even harder to look into fake magazines that sort of sound like ours to ensure that our readers get only the highest quality journaltainment available.

* * *

The Diva Search is killing whatever credibility Mike Mizanin’s hoped to have with a WWE audience. It’s doing to The Miz what The Spirit Squad is doing to its five members—putting their face on WWE television for all the wrong reasons.

* * *

Buy Stock In Wite-Out
What are the odds that these two angles from last night required just a touch of Wite-Out where the names were originally listed last week?

1. Shawn Michaels Triple-H will face the undefeated “Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga after Triple-H Shawn Michaels is thrown in jail for trumped up charges. Let’s go with possession of Cuban cigars inadvertently hitting a police officer.

2. Ric Flair Mick Foley will call Mick Foley Ric Flair a “piece of crap” and challenge him to a match.


By Frank Ingiosi

Surprisingly, seeing as how so much of my job is based in watching wrestling on television, I’m generally not much of a couch potato (or, potatoe, for my friends from the red states).

If I really give it some thought, there’s only a handful of shows that I’ll watch on a regular basis. Of those elite few programs, one that I’ll always make time for is Seinfeld (a show I never watched during its original run). I think what appeals to me is the timelessness of the goofy storylines and the fact that even today it’s still very funny.

I bring this up because just the other day I caught the episode where Kramer has seizures every time he hears Mary Hart’s voice on Entertainment Tonight. He goes through a series of wildly exaggerated convulsions before he realizes what it was that caused him to do so.

Last night, while watching Impact, I realized that Jeff Jarrett is my Mary Hart. As a sneaky, rulebreaking villain, he’s actually quite good; it’s when he opens his mouth to speak that hurts him the most. Whether it’s simply a lack of charisma, or just the capacity to not come up with new material, Jarrett reminds fans why they dislike him.

It’s not his ability (he’s actually a very good wrestler) or the fact that he’s constantly near the top (see, Helmsley, Hunter Hearst) but rather his lack of ingenuity with his persona that really hurts TNA. If he can somehow freshen up the stalest angle in all of professional wrestling maybe—just maybe—fans will start to appreciate him for what he is, a very serviceable villain.

* * *

Is it me or does Senshi have the deepest voice in the history of spoken language. Every time I hear him speak, it’s like I’m listening to a tiny Barry White.

* * *

Mea Culpa
My apologies go out to LAX—specifically Homicide and Hernandez—for not giving them the credit they deserve as wrestlers and as a very impressive tag team.

Yes, I am capable of admitting when I’m wrong … you jerks.

Now, I’m well aware that it wasn’t The Road Warriors in their heyday that LAX was taking on last night. However, in beating Jerrelle Clark and Chasyn Rance, they looked like the most legitimate threat to A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels’ NWA World tag title reign in all of TNA. Homicide seamlessly shifts from power wrestler to technical wizard, whereas Hernandez is all force, all the time. Together—under the tutelage of wrestler-turned- political-activist Konnan—these two could become the top rulebreaking tag team in TNA. And, I, like many of my fellow fans, would have no complaints.

* * *

I don’t care how many times I see it, the “Canadian Destroyer” is still the coolest damn move in the history of Canada. Thank you, Petey Williams.

* * *

Thanks, But No Thanks
Now, let me get this straight: Next week on Impact there will be a match between Christian Cage and Scott Steiner for the right to stand in the corner of their respective buddy (Jarrett or Sting) at the Hard Justice pay-per-view’s main event. That part I get.

Where I take exception to this is the fact that if Steiner wins the match, Jarrett has the distinct advantage, as “Big Poppa Pump” is always more than willing to intervene on his partner’s behalf. Yet, if Cage wins, there’s a good chance the jealously and unwarranted paranoia that has plagued him since Sting’s main-event push started could cause him to do something rash, thus costing Sting the NWA World title. My guess: He’s rooting for a time-limit draw.

Hence, I give you my Remington Sure Shot Pick O’ The Week: Sting’s not winning at Hard Justice … period. Check back with me after Cage screws him over.

* * *

Weekly Freebie
Each week I take it upon myself to give TNA a piece of unsolicited advice. It’s just my way of playing annoying analyst, as well as getting out there some of the random thoughts that bounce around my cranium. My advice for this week:

Please … please … ditch the name Hard Justice the minute after the pay-per-view. You don’t need an imagination as clever and sharp as mine to figure out the awful ways in which Hard Justice can be misconstrued.

There are plenty of justice-related phrases that can be used to fill the spot that don’t conjure up thoughts of prison porn.

You’re welcome, TNA.

MAYHEM MADE SIMPLE (August 2, 2006)

By Frank Ingiosi

ECW returns to its summer home in the Hammerstein Ballroom for yet another week of desecrating the memory of the hardcore brand and, to be honest, I couldn’t be happier. There are perhaps no better two venues than either the Ballroom or the ECW Arena down here in Philadelphia to gauge just what the fans think of the new product. The fans will be loud—for better or worse—and honest, which, experience tells us, is not how WWE likes to run business.

That being the case, I have to admit that I was actually looking forward to tonight’s broadcast for quite some time, if only for my own state of mind. Personally, I need to know whether the animosity I believe exists is widespread throughout the fan base, or just something those of us who cover wrestling have constructed because it’s the easy thing to do.

* * *

The Sandman & Tommy Dreamer vs. Test & Mike Knox
Thank whatever deity you may worship for men like Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. Do it now! See, without guys like that, there would be no real reason to tune in each week to ECW. Love them or hate them, one has to realize that as long as both men are a part of ECW, the chances of something cool happening are exponentially higher.

Case in point: Over the course of one match, the fans were treated to a bloodied Dreamer spanking Kelly Kelly in the middle of the ring, only to then be thrown on to a board covered in barbed wire by Paul Heyman’s security team. This is pay-per-view quality stuff, here. That, my friends, was relatively hardcore … seriously … it wasn’t that bad for this ECW

On a sadder note, it’s my duty to report that Kelly Kelly has been the victim of a crime. See, her acting coach is apparently stealing boatloads of cash from the young Diva in training. Anyone who caught the conflicted (or constipated—I’m still not sure) look on her face as she bravely protected her man Mike Knox from a caning at the hands of The Sandman could be called as a witness once charges are filed.

* * *

Holy hell—maybe it was the warm sixer of Black Label that I just drank, but did I just see Kurt Angle beat the crap out of The Brooklyn Brawler?

Let’s pray that it’s the beer, because there’s no way they’d dust off an ancient WWF-era jobber rather than use an ECW-ready developmental wrestler for Angle’s return match … right?

* * *

C.M. Punk will be a WWE world champion at some point in his career—write that down, in ink.

* * *

Big Mistake
The first indicator that maybe you’ve chosen the wrong main event for an ECW card: The crowd broke out into a chant of “RVD” as Show stood in the ring prior to the start of the match. Not a good sign when a guy busted for possessing illegal drugs is more popular than your sitting champion. Although, in his defense, the WWE Wellness Program announced that Show had tested positive for unusually high levels of boring.

In the end, it was Show retaining the ECW title by disqualification after, by WWE standards, a surprisingly good match (although the fans in attendance may disagree). Batista looked solid, and more nimble than I remember him pre-most recent arm injury. On the other side, Show—God bless his giant, oversized heart—seems to really be putting forth an effort at becoming a legitimate wrestler (or, as legit as he can be at this point in his career).

For the first time in the third brand’s brief existence, I have to disagree with my fellow fans. In hindsight, I strongly believe that the negative fan reaction was primarily due to the fact that they were blindly booing two WWE guys rather than appreciating a relatively sound match.

* * *

Lines Of The Week
I received such a positive response to this segment last week that I felt compelled to do it again, but only on the condition that there were lines worth noting. I’d like to congratulate the fans in attendance at the Hammerstein Ballroom for taking both the silver and gold this week—you crazy bastards earned ’em.

Bronze: “The blood of ECW will be mine.”—Kevin Thorne, the vampire, on his plans to drain whatever life is left right out of ECW

Silver: “Change the channel!”—A suggestion by the fans in attendance during the Batista-Big Show main event

Gold: “You both suck!”—The fans before the bell even sounded prior to the main event

* * *

What Did We Learn?

I was wrong and I’ll be the first to admit it.

This was, without a doubt, the best ECW yet. Yes … you did just read that.

For once the new brand seemed to strike the perfect blend of wrestling, storyline progression, and classic ECW mayhem. Sure, there was a Big Show-Batista match—and yes, upon further review, that was indeed The Brooklyn Brawler—but still, this was a good sign for ECW. Now, if they can change those WWE wrestlers with talented, deserving ECW-style talent, and continue to build angles and viable feuds, we may just have something here.

That being said, what’s the over-under on how long it takes for a McMahon to appear now that things seem to be looking up?


By Frank Ingiosi

The dog days of summer are officially upon us in the greater Northeast. It’s about 140 degrees outside, the only team worth watching is the stinkin’ Mets, and somehow the back of my legs are stuck to a fabric desk chair, which is starting to concern me.

Plus, Raw is in full-on promo mode for SummerSlam, the third of the “Big Four” pay-per-views that WWE runs in a given calendar year. But for you—the greatest fan on earth—I will work through the pending heat stroke and give you my humble opinion on last night’s Raw. Am I a hero? Well, that’s up to you and the good folks that hand out the Pulitzer Prize to determine.

Enjoy “The Turn”—strong enough for a man, but Ph balanced for a really sissy man.

* * *

Things Always Are Weird After A Three-Way
Johnny Nitro retained the Intercontinental title last night against Shelton Benjamin thanks in part to the distraction provided by the lovely Melina, coupled with some quick thinking on the champ’s part.

Do I have a problem with a rulebreaking champion breaking the rules to retain his title? No, not at all. In fact, it’s what they do. Still, I did feel there were two glaring, damn-near insulting errors with last night’s I-C title match that requires a skewering of the highest order.

Error Number One: Ahh-k … I’m only going to say this once. I live 10 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and, consequently, I’m an Eagles fan. Last night, Jim Ross referred to Shelton Benjamin as the “Terrell Owens Of WWE.”

Mr. Ross, I watched Terrell Owens. I cheered when he mocked Ray Lewis, and I suffered through every “heartfelt” press conference. I hate Terrell Owens, and, Shelton Benjamin, you are no Terrell Owens.

Error Number Two: Didn’t Benjamin win a number-one contender’s match last week over Carlito? Yet we have a three-way match, for the I-C title, one week later where anyone—regardless of contender status—could walk out with the belt. Hence, why the hell have the original match?

And even further proof Benjamin’s not the “T.O. Of WWE”: At no point did Benjamin have a demand more money, do sit-ups in his driveway, or call Carlito a hypocrite, despite the three-way match for the title.

Oh—on a side note—does anyone else think that maybe Trish is luring Carlito into a trap?

* * *

One Out Of One Male Cheerleader Agrees
Now, the poor fellas in The Spirit Squad have taken their fair share of lumps from those of us in the journaltainment industry, and why not—they’re the easiest target. I sure as hell know that when I experience a touch of the writer’s block, there’s no better remedy than either showing legitimate concern for the careers of the Squad members or, conversely, just taking shots at their awful, awful gimmick.

However, being the research bug I am, I actually consulted a friend of mine who was a male cheerleader in college for reasons too disturbing, and relatively confusing, to go into in a forum such as this. But I digress.

According to my friend—let’s call him “Anthony R.”—The Spirit Squad does, indeed, suck. There you have it! He’s an expert at being creepy and chanting in unison, and even he feels that The Spirit Squad is a waste of talent.

Oh, and Highlanders, I’ve got my eye on you guys next. My brother’s been to Scotland, and he assures me that there are really very few unkempt bearded men wandering the countryside in kilts. In fact, most resemble extras from Trainspotting.

* * *

The “Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga remained undefeated by beating Shawn Michaels in a lopsided match that saw both McMahons as well as Armando Alejandro Estrada become involved.

Where was HBK’s hetero life-partner Triple-H during all of this? Well, of course, he was sent to jail for the evening after two interns in their best Today’s Man suits busted him with Cuban cigars (planted by the McMahons) in one of his bags.

Naturally, this is only a precursor to a match between the four men at SummerSlam that, likely, will be more hyped than the Raw World title bout between John Cena and Edge.

I’ve been reluctant, but I think it’s time to call it: DX time of death—11:05 p.m.

* * *

The Best O’ The Rest?
Let’s look at those few segments last night that won’t be garnering Raw any Emmy nominations anytime soon. Sure, they made little sense, but they also did absolutely nothing to advance any angle whatsoever. Futility like that is impressive, no?

T-N-Eh?: The phasing out of a legitimate women’s division on Raw continued with a sloppy tag match that pit Trish and Candice against Victoria and Mickie James. The match ended when Trish landed a botched “Stratusfaction” to gain the pinfall.

Philosophy majors everywhere take a moment from duping freshman girls back to their ganja-scented studio apartments to ponder aloud: How can something so beautiful be so ugly?

AARP Slugfest 2006: Ric Flair and Mick Foley—two men who have absolutely nothing left to achieve in wrestling—will go toe-to-toe at SummerSlam to settle a score that, frankly, no one cares about. Flair’s book and indictment of Foley’s talent came out last year, which—and this is just my opinion—would’ve been a more timely point for such a feud to take place.

No One Knows Funny: Hogan Knows Best lost it’s appeal quite some time ago. Still, it’s far more interesting than Randy Orton’s Orton Knows Best skit last night, which, essentially, was him bringing out impersonators of the Hogan family only to decimate the men and charm the women.

Message to Creative: Okay, we get it—Randy screwed up. But, please, enough is enough. You’re killing the poor guy with one awful appearance after another. He’s served his sentence. Punishment like this is just plain cruel, although not entirely unusual.

Who Brings Nothing To The Show?: That’s right: Lita brings nothing to the show!

Last night, former Raw World champion and current target of ire John Cena defeated Matt Striker while Edge and Lita announced from a special booth they have set up. Now, for the record, Edge was repetitive, inaccurate, and relatively monotone; basically, the perfect bad guy to Cena’s squeaky clean, “I curse so I’m tough” persona.

Edge’s lady friend—well—she’s not much of the talker. In fact, I actually muted the sound during the match and listened to the soothing hum of the air conditioner, which, interestingly, provided me with more insight into the match than Lita ever could.


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