Alright, we're four days out from "the date". Whoa, let me rewind first and give you the catalyst behind why every fanboy this side of Secaucus is getting ready to jizz on the first Monday of the New Year.
Ten years ago. January 4th, 1999.
At this time, yours truly was under the employ of Uncle Sam in the United States Navy. I can tell you where I was when Raw and Nitro was on, what I was eating (Pepperoni Pizza) and drinking (2 liter soda). In any event, this night lives in infamy for wrestling fans for quite a few reasons.
When I think of people who make me want to buy a lottery ticket, Ric Flair is right up at the top. That's why North Carolina's state lottery launched a Nature Boy-themed WHOOOOO! Scratch-off Game. Seriously, there's commercials for it and everything!
As my friend Andrew said, "Nothing makes Ric Flair look older than putting him next to an actual old person."
Why You Should Care About Wrestlemania XXV (Preview)
Alright, we've done the Japanese wrestler thing...so now we're going to do the Wrestlemania thing. In a little under 8 days, one week from tomorrow, the WWE will stage its biggest event of the year. Since 1984, Wrestlemania has been the be all, end all of wrestling events. That first one was headlined by Cowboy Bob Orton Jr. and Roddy Piper taking on Mr. T and Hulk Hogan. It has gotten bigger ever since and this year, will be no different. So what I will do is give you a rundown of the card, how we got to this point and why should you care about it. Fun? Fucking right it is. Starting with...
Okay, I've been meaning to write about wrestling for a while now and at long last, I'm going to. Last night the WWE held its annual draft, but before I get to that, a general blurb.
I've been watching wrestling for most of my natural born existence. At least 22 years that I've been breathing in and out, I've been a wrestling mark. I was a mark for the likes of Flair at an early age and before anyone asks, I was NOT a Hulkamaniac growing up. Come to think of it, I think his heel turn in 1996 is one of the most overrated things in wrestling history. (Someone remind me to divulge more on that at a later date.) Anyway, as most know, ten years ago right about this time we were in the middle of the Monday Night Wars which by this point, WCW was on the verge of losing. The WWE had started hitting its stride and WCW was starting to gas. Back then, I don't think anyone believed that ten years later, there'd be no ECW or WCW and that the WWE would be the only game in town. (Yes, they're the only game in town until TNA gets out of the boonies and gets into the town limits. And yes, I just went Mercury Morris because that's how sick I am of TNA pussyfooting after five damn years of existence.) In any event, last night marked the annual "Draft" that the WWE holds to shuffle around its talent and in most years, it's fairly ho-hum. Move one stale piece in place of another, but last night dare I say, I was genuinely shocked with what went down. Oh and I'm not going there with the Vince crap, because that's what it was for anyone who saw it. Crap. I get that he's done giving away money to folks who care to the sum of zero about his product and that it was a bad idea to begin with (never mind the fact I didn't get called to begin with, bastico). Anyway, let's get to things, shall we?
I think in the year that I've started here, I've written about a lot of stuff. I've beaten some things to death with a stick (The Fall of the "Evil Empire") while I've ignored others (what will be spoken on in a few minutes). Let it be known that I'm an avid wrestling enthusiast. Have been for about 23 years now and hell, on the weekends it was a bonding thing for my Dad and I to watch WWE events when they came to the Garden on the MSG Network. A few months ago for my 27th birthday, I actually got to attend a live event at the James A. Rhodes Arena on the campus of Akron University or the University of Akron (as the yokels here say). I probably should've written something then, but I dunno. I'm an infamous procrastinator and eh, it didn't hit me until now to write something.
In a move that boggles my mind, the CW and the WWE have announced that theyre unable to come to terms on an agreement to renew Smachdowns contract, so the consistently top-rated show on the CW will soon be on a new TV network somewhere. Quite frankly, its an incredibly dumb decision, but when have networks ever made a smart decision regarding wrestling?
TNN cancelled its top-rated show, ECW on TNN, and constantly interfered with the product they were offering. Later, they picked up the WWE only to do the same thing to them. Now TNN uses TNA to fill in their weekend schedule. Youd think after going through three different companies, theyd learn the value of the ratings draw that is wrestling. I know that ECW and Raw were the top draws on Spike TV/TNN, though I doubt TNA is doing that much other than filling space.
USA had Monday Night Raw on forever, let it go, and as soon as it was available, picked it back up again where its consistently been one of the top rated shows on cable. Ratings are down from wrestlings peak, but having one of the top draws on TV is never a bad thing when it comes to finding advertisers. We all know money is the lifeblood of television, and the WWE is far from an expensive product to produce like a scripted show would be.
Media Week says that wrestling isnt the image the network is looking for. Considering their other big draw is Americas Next Top Model and shows like Gossip Girl, the CW seems to be shooting more for a female demographic, and males ages 18-49 on Friday nights isnt part of their overall plan. Id always believed the conventional wisdom that 18-49 was the key demographic for ad sales, but apparently the CW thinks differently. Thats probably why theyre a distant fourth in the ratings.
Where will Smackdown go? I dont know. MyNetworkTV, which started as a network catering to women with prime-time soap operas, has now turned into a more male-oriented station with the International Fight League as its main ratings grabber. I have no doubt itd immediately catapult MyNetworkTV from an incredibly distant fifth to a distant fifth, but advertising revenues would perk up instantly. Plus, unlike the CW which seems like its trying to fail, MyNetwork TVs blend of reality police shows, accident footage, and fighting seems perfect for the soap opera that is wrasslin.
Of course, I think an American Gladiators/WWE Smackdown tag team on Saturday nights for NBC would be a huge ratings grab. NBCs always been friendly to the WWE, and Saturday Nights Main Event is remembered fondly by wrestling fans. Besides, as Friday Night Smackdown proved, the WWE can draw steady ratings any night of the week. Why not stick it out there in the worst ratings night youve got?
Japanese Wrestling Moment: Masahiro Chono vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
For the people who like to rip Ric Flair, I'm going to give you a match to allow yourself to shut the fuck up. For those who thought that Chono was overrated back in his youth, you also get to join the Flair hate squad over there. This match is going to be in the 35 minute mark. It's from the G1-Climax tournament. What's the setting? It's "Mr. G1" vs. the living legend. What more do you need for a story. From New Japan, 1995.
Oh, we've got more parts, folks. Right this way...
Japanese Wrestling Moment: Mistuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi
Alright, did you miss me? I'm sure none of you did. So, to help ease back into the writing, I'm going to do something every few days. A Japanese wrestling match or an odd match to get you kids talking. This time. Misawa vs. Kobashi. As most of you know, this is Japanese Wrestling, so don't look for any WWE crap like comedy.
This one runs about 49 minutes, so grab some popcorn.
I'm gonna take the flat out, realistic viewpoint of this, because at the rate stuff's being discovered...they'll have found Tupac's murderer before they get to the bottom of what REALLY happened in the Benoit house over the weekend.
I told someone yesterday that it's rather ironic that someone who made their professional living making others tap out, ended his own life and in a rather odd way of looking at it, tapped out himself because life had him in a no escape situation. I'm not God, don't play one on TV, but I know enough to know that God doesn't look too highly upon people who take their own lives. It's basically a slap in His face and it's like saying to God Almighty, 'yeah, I know you sacrificed your only son for me to live on this planet, but I don't care because life's dealt me a crappy hand and I can't deal with it anymore'. I read last night while at work that there was some back and forth stuff over the care of his now deceased son and the recommendation that Benoit stay at home more to oversee it or something along those lines. Apparently, Chris didn't dig that idea too much and as a result, killed Nancy for suggesting it and then his son for being the reason said suggestion was made. Then, not willing to deal with the consequences of his heinous actions, took his own life so he could be remembered by the wrestling public as a tragic figure rather than the murdering piece of crap he really is.
More Benoit coverage, and more of the promised bizarre details concerning the murder/suicide of the professional wrestling champion, his wife, and 7-year-old son. This is starting to get really interesting.
There were steroids found in the home, but the steroids appear to have not been for Benoits use. Instead, the steroids were apparently for use by his son, whom District Attorney Scott Ballard describes as having needle marks on his arms and as being very small, even dwarfed. Steroids and HGH are commonly used to treat dwarfism.
Benoit passed his most recent employer mandated drug test, given on April 10th, and never failed a test while with the company, unlike several other top talents.
Benoit was in the house for over a day with the bodies before taking his own life, which does not suggest a steroid fueled rage. Preliminary autopsy results suggest Nancy Benoit was killed Friday, and Daniel Benoit was killed Saturday or early Sunday morning.
While no history of domestic violence was noted, in their May 2003 divorce filing, Nancy alleged cruel treatment and the usual irreconcilable differences. The filing and a request for a restraining order were later withdrawn. There is no evidence to back up the claims in the divorce paperwork (people will say anything in a divorce proceeding to boost their chances at getting whatever it is they want, regardless of truth).
Toxicology results may not be known for several weeks, but Im interested to see the results. This is fascinating, in a train-wreck sense.
When football players go nuts, everyone blames post-concussion syndrome. Why has no one other than myself mentioned that pro wrestlers suffer more concussions more often than any football player, because pro wrestlers fall on their heads constantly, accidentally get kicked and punched in the skull, and generally take more abuse more often than your average offensive lineman? Wrestlers don't have an off-season and until they make it big, only get paid when they work.