Randy Orton, Kelly Kelly and Why It Matters

Over the past couple of days the Internet has been awash with reaction to the derogatory comments Randy Orton made about Kelly Kelly’s personal life during an interview with a Phoenix radio station. In the interest of giving an informed opinion I’ve listened to the interview in full. The comments themselves relate to Kelly’s sex life, suggesting that she has slept with several of the WWE roster, to which the sex was regularly referred to as ‘method acting’ by Orton and the astonishingly obnoxious hosts. The alleged notches in Kelly’s bedpost became a running joke throughout the interview, with the hosts asking Randy if Kelly had “banged” almost every Superstar who came up in conversation, before collapsing in laughter.

There are really two main issues here – the unprofessional nature of Orton’s conduct and the double standards women are held up to with regard to sexuality, particularly in the WWE. Randy Orton certainly has form when it comes to unprofessional behaviour, but in the past it was when he was either on the brink of making it truly big or such a believable villain that it didn’t quite have the same impact that this incident has had. Previously his character suggested it was almost expected that he would be controversial in interviews. Orton is now the face of SmackDown; the brand’s number one good guy. When he’s sent out on these assignments he’s there to promote the company, the shows, the merchandise in a wholly positive light and as the newly loved World Heavyweight Champion. I think Randy Orton’s just found out that it’s not such an easy job being the good guy. He would do well to take some tips from John Cena, who continually oozes professionalism in interviews. Even more impressive is the Miz, who manages to be the man everyone loves to hate, yet comes across as utterly charming in every interview he gives.

Regardless of what you think of your colleagues and the standards by which you quietly judge their life choices, you simply cannot discuss their private lives in public. It’s not what I expect of someone representing a global business. It’s not what I expect of anyone. I once worked in an organisation where a colleague was severely reprimanded for quite modestly speaking ill of the boss, in the pub, after working hours. Someone reported the comments back to the boss and the colleague was punished. In the real world, people get fired for less than Randy Orton has said and I sincerely hope there have been some repercussions here. I cringe to think that young boys who idolise Randy Orton have listened to that interview and think it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss women in this way. Whether he wants to be or not, Orton’s a role mode and should conduct himself as such.

Aside from the fact that Randy Orton makes both himself and the WWE look painfully unprofessional during this interview, the matter he commented on could not be any less his concern. He had no right to report on Kelly’s private life so publicly and especially using such crass language. Our sexuality is ours to own. Whether we choose to have no sexual partners at all or a different one every night, we all make that choice for ourselves and don’t expect to be judged for it. The problem with the way female sexuality is viewed is that, the moment a woman does something even remotely sexual, it comes to define who she is in a way that just doesn’t apply men. CM Punk, for example, is alleged to be quite the lothario. It is mentioned in passing among wrestling fans but it never impacts how he is viewed as a wrestler or a human being. Fans and colleagues alike are currently fawning all over Punk following his glowing performance in what might possibly be the defining storyline of his career. Women (including the WWE Divas) aren’t afforded that same respect. Men are actually congratulated for sexual conquests, while women are considered ‘sluts’. Sexy isn’t a dirty word regardless of gender.

For example, I watched Beyoncé close the Glastonbury festival on television on Sunday night. I’m biased in that I’m a huge fan of hers, but I was incredibly moved by how she managed to woo 175,000 people with the most outstanding performance I’ve ever seen her pull off. The overwhelming response seemed to be that Beyoncé had taken the nation’s breath away. The following day on Twitter a female journalist I (still) adore and respect, Julia Raeside, boiled her performance down to this:

JNRaeside
Re Beyonce: she is professional, clearly works hard, all of the things you say. But she shakes her bottom for money.
27/06/2011 12:59

I was genuinely upset by Julia’s comment. As long it’s not all you think you have to offer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with displaying your sexuality. There is nothing wrong with going on stage in a leotard, heels and a spangly jacket. I see no problem with shaking your arse to music just because it feels good. It was as if Julia had bypassed Beyoncé’s operatically trained voice, her impeccable dance skills, her acting credits, her writing skills and her obvious humility because she had chosen to be sexy during some of the performance. If Usher had joined her on stage shirtless and grinding his crotch at the audience, nobody would have blinked an eye. Run the World (Girls) may not be entirely lyrically accurate, but if I had a daughter I’d want her to listen to it and feel she could run the world if she wanted to. I do think Beyoncé is a positive role model for young women. Her sexuality is just one part of her personality, which she sometimes plays up as part of her performance. This should be the case for the WWE Divas too.

The WWE itself isn’t totally blameless here. Smart, Sexy, Powerful is a good tagline to attach to the women on the roster, but I’m concerned that only one of those words is currently being fulfilled. If the business is trying to gear itself towards a very young audience, it should be trying much harder to define its female talent by more than just their sexuality. They get plenty of opportunities to appear sexy, but very few to display their intelligence and power in the form of clever storylines, long matches and equal billing. I don’t have a problem with the plethora of female photo shoots WWE pumps out so frequently. What I do have a problem with is that the male roster members don’t seem to be required to take part in them nearly as often as the women do. The net result of this is that the Divas’ sexuality appears that much more overt than that of the male Superstars and it becomes what they’re famous for.

I wasn’t exactly banging my drum for feminism when such a huge deal was made of Kelly Kelly’s appearance in this year’s Maxim Hot 100 list. I’m not sure it really achieves anything to ask adolescent boys looking for wank fodder to rate women according to their looks. I think it’s a ludicrous concept as outdated as beauty pageants. But lads’ mags are on the slide on the newsstand anyway, and I’d be surprised if any were still in circulation in ten years time.  For now, they exist and I know Kelly was pleased to be have been included, but it’s really worth no more than some free publicity for the company. Regardless, suggesting that Kelly’s appearance in the list somehow sets her up for derogatory comments is pretty pathetic, yet it’s an argument I heard in Orton’s defence.

Over the past 24 hours I’ve read some outrageous justifications and excuses for Randy Orton’s comments. It doesn’t matter which magazines Kelly’s modelled for. It doesn’t matter what she did for a living in the past. It doesn’t matter which characters she’s played in previous storylines. Pondering whether Randy’s punishment is adequate based on who the woman he humiliated is gets away from the fact that he made the comments in the first place. If you’re thinking he might have chosen his words more carefully if Kelly’s boyfriend was someone more powerful in the company, you’ve definitely missed the point. It doesn’t matter if you like her, find her attractive or enjoy her wrestling, there should be zero tolerance of this kind of behaviour and no room for compromise.

Randy’s an extremely well paid and (supposedly) media savvy professional. It’s not sufficient to say that he was just hanging out with ‘the guys’ and got caught up in a rowdy moment. He wasn’t in a bar bullshitting with his mates, he was on a radio show available worldwide. That should have been his first thought before answering every single question.  This is why his Twitter apology (in which he asked people to drop the subject for her sake) seems a little wet. Irritating and archaic as they were, it’s not as if the hosts held a gun to his head or coerced him into discussing Kelly’s private life. The words spilt out quite freely. Who on earth was Orton trying to impress? Randy Orton repeatedly mentioned his wife and daughter during the interview. A good rule of thumb should be ‘if someone were about to embarrass my daughter/wife/girlfriend/sister/mother with these words, how would I feel about it?’ If your reaction would be to punch the guy in the chops, show every woman the same respect you’d show the women in your life and keep your mouth shut.

If none of this seems important and you think it’s all a silly overreaction (particularly if you’re a woman) I urge you to read Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman. It’s the most fantastic, rich, funny, honest book you’ll find about being a woman and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you disagree with what I’ve said here, I almost guarantee you’d take a different view on Randy Orton’s humiliation of Kelly Kelly after reading it – women and men.

Keep the Noise Down

I’ve thought long and hard about whether I want to write this post or not, but Andrew is a wise man and is right in saying that I need to get it out of my system so I can fully enjoy wrestling again. I’m struggling with wrestling at the moment, but it has nothing to do with wrestling itself. I’m finding Raw surprisingly enjoyable, Smackdown is rebuilding itself after the big shift in personnel, Tough Enough was fantastic, Superstars is the hidden gem that not enough people realise is excellent and that’s all before the plethora of indie DVDs we’re slowly making our way through. We recently finished watching CHIKARA’s 2011 King of Trios tournament, which was so outstanding I’d struggle to find the words to describe it. Luckily, Matt Jones did that for us after attending the shows himself. We’re moving on to Colt Cabana’s Wrestling Road Diaries next. I can hardly wait.

So what, you might ask, am I struggling with? Well, it’s the Internet. It’s colouring how I view wrestling, bringing me down, turning me off, urinating on my fire etc.  I spent several months hardly checking in with the Internet Wrestling Community. It made me angry, so I avoided it. But after a recent difficult personal event, wrestling was a welcome distraction and I revelled in sharing it with others. That all changed again when Christian lost the World Heavyweight Title just a few days after winning it for the first time at Extreme Rules. The IWC was outraged, I was not.

To me this just seemed like another twist in a constantly rolling series of stories. Christian dropped the belt to Randy Orton. So what? If Edge hadn’t retired, Christian may never have been a contender anyway. Who was to say that this wasn’t the beginning of something much bigger? This may have been the start of the Story of the Year. Fans behaved as if Vince McMahon and Co. had somehow betrayed them by promising a title run before snatching it away again. I didn’t see it that way. Nobody had been promised anything and, in reality, they were probably more concerned with establishing Randy Orton as the new Smackdown poster boy. I couldn’t cope with such ridiculous Internet venom and when people started tweeting death threats in Randy Orton’s direction I checked out of Twitter, vowing not to return until it had all blown over. Unsurprisingly, it took no more than a week for ‘the most awful thing that had ever happened in wrestling’ to be forgotten.

I started wondering if I was getting too old for wrestling. I don’t actually think you’re ever too old for wrestling; I’m just outgrowing the crowd of people who spew inconsiderate and unintelligent nonsense around the Internet. If nothing else, my time away from Twitter forced me to accept that not everybody watches wrestling for the same reasons and with the same agenda that I do. We all take something different away from it and I decided I’d just have to accept that there would always be fan reactions I didn’t understand. My angst settled again, until the WWE Over the Limit Pay-Per-View.

We decided not to watch the show live, opting to avoid spoilers and watch it on Monday. I watched during the afternoon and, while it wasn’t a particularly memorable PPV, I quite enjoyed it in parts. I certainly didn’t feel angry about anything that happened during the show. I returned to the Internet to see what others had thought and was met with a shower of insurmountable negativity. In some places, whole streams of comments made throughout the show were nothing but diarised bullets of anger shot out at anyone who cared to read them. For want of a more elegant way of putting it, it killed my buzz.

We all have our frustrated moments, but I don’t understand why people continue to watch and comment on wrestling when it is mustering such fury within them. Wrestling isn’t a sport where the outcome of each event is unknown. It’s a scripted television programme. If I’m watching a TV series that’s gone off the boil  (however much I used to enjoy it) I stop watching. Just as an example, I watched and adored the first series of Glee. Andrew will vouch for me when I say that anything where people suddenly burst into song and dance makes me extremely happy, but I didn’t enjoy the second series. To use some wrestling terminology, I thought it became a spot-fest and forgot what it was supposed to be about. I’m disappointed that Glee became something I didn’t want it to be, but I don’t feel that I have or should have any control over the creative process. In wrestling it seems that everyone feels they have a right to dictate how stories will play out. We all have opinions and suggestions, but many wrestling fans seem to express them with such life-and-death desperation it just makes me want to stop conversing altogether.

The only way to make an impact is to vote with your remote control. Stop buying the PPVs and stop watching the free stuff.  I know it’s not easy and I should have done it myself during the atrocious Raw Guest Host months. I loathed it. The shows were painful to watch but I kept writing about just how awful they were week after week. It wore me down and I resented spending my weekends writing about it. I’m sorry I subjected people to that. At the time we were on a blogging treadmill and it took several months before we were able to step off and only write about things we thought deserved our time. It was the best decision we ever made. If you’re hating wrestling, step away from it for a while. If you miss it, you’ll come back. If you’re hating WWE, find an alternative.

After some of those who watched Over the Limit live had stolen my enjoyment of the show, I quite seriously considered deleting my Twitter account. Instead, I checked out again and tweeted a statement I still stand by. ‘There is more to wrestling than the WWE and there is more to life than wrestling.’ There are far more important things worth getting worked up about. I started paying serious attention to independent wrestling less than two years ago and now I couldn’t do without it. It gives you a bigger picture of wrestling. When WWE isn’t hitting the spot, it’s a place to go where your faith in wrestling is instantly restored. When you have options, you worry less about the WWE. King of Trios was our ‘happy place’ during the usual post Wrestlemania slump. In fact, while watching CHIKARA recently, both Andrew and myself agreed that if we had to choose between the two, we’d easily select CHIKARA over WWE. A show that makes you smile for three hours straight once a month is far superior to a collection of shows broadcast three or four times a week where the expectation is that only small portion of the shows will be entertaining.

Once again I tried to ignore the rubbish, but when the Kharma story started seeping across the Internet like an unstoppable torrent, it tipped me over the edge. As a woman, I struggle with the way the WWE treats its female roster. It goes against many of my principles and I’m often embarrassed by the lack of equal billing (among other things) between Divas and Superstars. Still, I persevere because the WWE is loaded with wonderfully talented women who will surely one day be given an opportunity to be trusted with stories and main events currently set aside for the boys. [Incidentally, there’s an excellent article on Feminism and Pro Wrestling by Danielle Stull in the first issue of the Fair to Flair Quarterly. I highly recommend it.]

Kharma (Kia Stevens) was an impossibly exciting addition to the WWE roster. Nobody was more thrilled than I was when she started gate crashing the established Divas matches, paralysing them with fear as she drove each of the girls into the mat, one show at a time. I was brimming with ideas and excited at the possibilities to come. It shouldn’t have taken one contract signing to inject such vigour into the division, but at least it felt like there may be something of a watershed on the horizon.

Out of nowhere on the May 23rd edition of Raw, Kharma broke down in tears in the middle of the ring surrounded by the bewildered Divas. It began emerging online that Kharma would be out for several months. This seemed odd considering she hadn’t had a match yet. It would be terribly unfortunate for her to have picked up an injury after such little ring time. Before Kharma had even had an opportunity to explain her forthcoming absence, it leaked that her time away would be at least nine months. Oh. NINE MONTHS. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge-saynomore. It was disappointing that the announcement of such a personal event had been taken away from her, but if the news was true I was thoroughly pleased for her. What more exciting news is there than finding out you’re becoming a parent for the first time? It never really crossed my mind to consider how it would affect my hopes for the Divas division. Some things in life are more important. Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same way.

I was genuinely stunned at some of the comments I saw online. People were annoyed that Kharma would be disappearing so soon after her arrival. Some were more than ‘annoyed’, they were nasty. Interestingly, on going back to find a couple of them, I notice that some have been taken down. In writing this post I had several examples saved that I planned on using here, but upsetting people for the sake of it is not my style. I’m not much for confrontation. The people who spouted off online about how a woman’s pregnancy ‘let them down’ know who they are. I will, however, quote the comment that upset me the most.

Nine months = pregnancy.

And, if that is the case, one would wonder why she couldn’t use birth control or something before the biggest push of her life. Anti-climactic.

Yeah, mate. How dare a woman have a child when your leisure time is at stake. How very selfish of her. Another comment on the same article described Kharma’s then alleged pregnancy as “PREGO!!!!! Epic fail by Kharma.” A child is never an epic fail. By the way, those who asked if Kharma had broken down because it was her ‘time of the month’ and was she feeling emotional should be ashamed. I saw that question asked by women. Despite the fact that the Internet had already ‘broken the story’, no official statement had been released by the WWE. It was announced that Kharma would address the audience on the next episode of Raw, drumming up significant speculation online about how the announcement would play out. Much of the discussion was about how trashy the WWE would make her departure, considering the fact that maternity leave hasn’t been high on their list of priorities in the past.

Kia is a classy lady and the WWE allowed her to temporarily bow out of competition with real style. I was proud of her and I was pleased they resisted the urge to turn something very simple and touching into anything less than it deserved. Even the Bella Twins coming out to verbally bitch-slap her was done with a touch of coolness. The show must go on! If ever there was a moment for them to ramp up their heel credentials, that was it. When the WWE has handled a female issue with more tact and delicacy than the fans, something is very wrong and I’m not sure I want to be part of it any more.

I’ve reached a point where I’m embarrassed to call myself a wrestling fan and it has very little to do wrestling at all. That’s frustrating, and I’ve had to seriously consider whether the Internet enhances or detracts from my enjoyment of wrestling. At the moment it’s spoiling it. We’re definitely not closing the blog because we love it dearly. And I’m not deleting the Twitter account, but it’s time to reconsider the sources of information I seek out, take note of and allow to cross my path. Differences in opinion and debate are healthy and spark new ideas, but pandering to rumours, sourceless stories and the fans who force their negativity on others only fuels their fire. Being passionate about something isn’t measured in how loud you shout and, from here on in, I refuse to allow people shouting far too loudly to steal professional wrestling away from me.

 

 

that’s quite enough, thank you

On last week’s Smackdown, Mickie James was ‘reduced to tears’ when Michelle McCool and Layla interrupted her match against Natalya by cutting her clothes to pieces with some dressmaking scissors.

I didn’t like it, but I made a joke of it and chalked it up as another lame Diva storyline that might end up with Mickie beating Michelle McCool for the Women’s Title somewhere down the line. But this week the silliness didn’t just continue, it became infuriating. To the point where I feel embarrassed for the women involved.

The main premise was that following a pitifully short but victorious match against Layla , Mickie James was pointed in the direction of the titantron by her opponent. There she was met with a pre-recorded cartoony video of Michelle McCool referring to Mickie as ‘Piggy James’. McCool proceeded to sing her own version of ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’, replacing McDonald with McCool and singing that Mickie was the newest piggy on her farm. This left Mickie James to walk out of the arena dejected and in tears.

I’m not stupid. I’ve watched wrestling for a long time. I understand that this is a work. All professional wrestling in the ‘sports-entertainment’ stable is based on very basic principles.  There is a good guy/girl, a bad guy/girl, and ultimately good will prevail over evil. How and when each feud reaches that conclusion is down to the creative team, but the story will reach the same conclusion almost every time. Mickie James will, no doubt, get her revenge on Michelle McCool and Layla, we’ll all cheer and the story will be done and dusted. But there’s something more important going on here and I’m concerned about what it means for women in the WWE.

The most obvious reason for this storyline is that Mickie James’ shift from Raw to Smackdown during the recent Divas draft was down to the fact that she has become overweight. But that theory makes no sense. Firstly, I saw Mickie James in person a couple of weeks ago. She isn’t even close to being overweight. She looks incredibly healthy. You could possibly say that her work rate has very marginally decreased, but I would be more inclined to attribute that to the lack of time given to Divas matches than to Mickie’s actual wrestling talent.  Also, Smackdown is by far the superior wrestling show. Its mainstream media profile may be lower than Raw, especially since the introduction of the celebrity guest host feature, but among the wrestling community Smackdown has rarely missed the mark in recent months and I look forward to it more than any other brand. If being drafted to Smackdown is such a punishment, why would Beth Phoenix, debatably the most talented female wrestler in the entire company, be drafted at the same time? All indications were that Smackdown would be the place to go for strong, exciting female competition. Unfortunately, this is turning out to be painfully untrue.

I’m not too worried about Mickie James’ state of mind. Wrestlers are actors. They can summon up tears in the same way they can limp up the ramp with a fake knee injury. And I suspect Mickie had to agree to this storyline before it got started. But what worries me is that all Creative can come up with for these talented women is a sniping, catty, bitchy feud revolving around clothes, weight gain, the importance of physical appearance. Gender stereotyping in its purest form. Very little importance is placed upon the actual wrestling. I’m all for jokes and silliness. This website is based on just that and if you’re not taking wrestling with a pinch of salt, you should probably navigate to a different form of entertainment. Whether you’re a fan or a superstar you certainly need tough skin, however deeply involved with this industry you happen to be.

But what message does this ‘piggy’ story send out to the kids who watch wrestling? Personally, I preferred when wrestling was targeted at adults. I came to it during the Attitude Era when anything was fair game. As an adult, I found that exciting. But if WWE are making the shrewd business move of marketing their product to children, they need to think more carefully about how children might interpret the storylines they throw out there. When I watched Mickie’s entrance I was happy to see this little girl in the crowd.

It’s nice to see girls cheering for girls as well as the male wrestlers. But I wonder what she made of seeing Michelle McCool’s nursery rhyme based attack on her heroine. You’re a fat pig, you should feel ashamed and cry about it? I wouldn’t want any daughter of mine exposed to that. Of course, Mickie will eventually overcome the bullies and deliver a message of positivity. But this feud isn’t sitting comfortably with me at the moment. Women in general are bombarded with negative media and fashion industry messages concerning physical beauty, largely that physical beauty equals personal success and anything less than airbrushed perfection is failure. To a certain extent, physical appearance is an important theme within wrestling for both men and women. Wrestling’s connection to the bodybuilding and fitness industries suggests that a certain level of fitness and muscle tone are required as standard. But women within the WWE are held to higher physical standards than men. Men get away with carrying extra pounds in a way that women do not.

I’m not opposed to female feuds. On the contrary, I want to see more made of the exchanges between the women on the roster so that fans will start caring about the matches. I want that snowball to start rolling. But the methods and ideas currently used within these storylines are both lazy and outdated. Batista and Rey Mysterio’s current intense battle is based upon the breakdown of a long-standing friendship. CM Punk’s fight with R-Truth is based on the fact that Punk claims to be morally and socially superior to Truth. His feud with Jeff Hardy ran along similar lines. Mickie James’ feud with Michelle McCool is based on the suggestion that she is fat and her two bullies aren’t. There is no clever characterisation. No depth. No narrative. It’s insulting. Not necessarily to Mickie James, because she can take it on the chin, but to the audience. Women care about physical appearance above all else, right? So let’s just throw that out there and spend the rest of our time coming up with clever insults for CM Punk to chuck at the audience. It’s so very wrong.

According to a piece I read on Diva-Dirt.com earlier today, the piggy storyline also pertains to some concern among WWE management that Mickie James has an interest in pursuing a career beyond the company. If this happens to be true, I wish her good luck. A wrestler’s career is short and could be ended at any moment by serious injury. The in-ring career of any wrestler, male or female, will not take them through to their pension. A back-up plan is required. Today’s young, college educated talent have a Bachelor’s degree and in some cases a Masters degree to fall back on. I doubt we’ll see Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison ripping each other to pieces on an overseas tour into their late fifties and sixties. They have options. Flair and Hogan do not.

Female careers in wrestling are even shorter. The importance placed on youthful looking women within the WWE means that their shelf-life is significantly shorter than that of their male counterparts. The Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels are all headlining well into their forties. Can we say with any confidence that Michelle McCool, Mickie James and Layla will still be wrestling into their forties? There are all kinds of issues concerning why women don’t reach positions of prominence in the workplace, not just in wrestling but in the Western workplace as a whole. One argument, for example, is that women are more likely to leave their jobs when starting a family and are less likely to return to full-time work until after their children reach school age than their male equivalents.

These issues are far too complex to discuss here, but it’s interesting that Lillian Garcia recently left the WWE because she was getting married and wanted to start a new chapter in her life. Vickie Guerrero took several months off work because she felt she was travelling too much and needed to spend more time with her children.  We rarely hear of male superstars taking this kind of action. Two of the WWE’s most popular Divas, Trish Stratus and Lita, both left to forge successful careers in other industries. If Mickie James’ career aspirations lie elsewhere, why should she be denied that opportunity? WWE seem to have few plans to develop their women’s division, yet as soon as one of its most popular female stars expresses the tiniest indication that she might leave, they object. Like I say, I’m only responding to a rumour I read elsewhere, which may be untrue. But if it is true it’s extremely bad form and I’d like to see them give Mickie and her female colleagues a reason to stay, rather than punishing them for wanting to leave.

I don’t often write long, serious posts such as this. My mission statement has always been to look on the lighter side of the industry and find the comedy in the product the WWE put out there. But sometimes seemingly small developments make me angry and I have to get them off my chest. This has been one of those occasions. Normal, comedic service will resume with the Raw and Smackdown recaps.

it’s check-mate! but i’m not sure who won

I feel like I need a good rant.  And since this is the only blog I’m using at the moment, you get to be at the business end of my pent up personal frustration. You should brag to your friends about how lucky you are! I could rant about the fact that my good iPod earphones have a loose wire and the left ear no longer plays properly.

I knew the tape wouldn't work. But I tried is anyway.

I knew the tape wouldn't work. But I tried it anyway.

Or I could whine about the fact that I bought the new Rolling Stone today and Megan Fox’s cover shot made me feel sub-human.

35892386

But neither of those things would be very interesting on a wrestling blog. Actually, they wouldn’t be interesting on any blog. So I’ll rant briefly about a wrestling topic.

On last night’s Raw a Diva draft was set in motion. Again. We  had the main annual draft in April (good times), we had an additional bit of personnel shuffling at the end of June (neutral times) and now we have another run of Diva movement (bad times). Let me just say, my exasperation has nothing to do with the fact that I’m annoyed I won’t now be able to marvel at Mickie James at the Raw house show in Cardiff next month. Alright, it might have a little bit to do with it. But my main beef is with the women’s division as a whole.

The lacklustre WWE women’s division is no secret. In fact, it has become a standing joke. When Trish Stratus returned as guest host of Raw a few weeks ago it only seemed to highlight how the profile of the division has slowly fallen following Trish’s departure. This is in no way a slight on the ladies’ in-ring talent. True, there are some who are still in the developmental stage and some who have limited roles as wrestlers. That is nothing new. But there are a handful of excellent workers who, when they’re given TV/mic time and their matches aren’t rushed through, pull off some very good matches. What’s sorely lacking is creative input. Instead of investing in its women’s division and capitalising on the talent they have on the payroll, the WWE seem more than happy to allow the female roster to languish in a town called mediocrity.

I struggle to watch TNA. Half the crowd appear to be British tourists in regional football shirts with no clue what they’re watching. And at times the quality of the production makes me bite down on a cushion. It may be a collection of has-beens and wannabes, but we’ve all got to start and end somewhere. Oh, and its women’s division just happens to be brilliant.

I am increasingly willing to spend my time watching a show which sets my teeth on edge purely to see some decent female characterisation.  They’re cashing in on the trick the WWE fail to acknowledge. And that’s why this latest Diva draft frustrates me so much. It’s the equivalent of sitting down to a game of chess without knowing how to play or what to do with each piece. Each piece moves in a different way and has its own specific attributes. You can move those pieces from one square to another as much as you like, but if you don’t do anything deliberate and clever with them, you lose. In this case, we lose too.

Divas can flit from Smackdown to ECW to Raw as many times as creative feel like picking them up and placing them down again. But if reaching the WWE is supposed to be pinnacle of a professional wrestler’s career, it must surely be an anti-climax for the women who sign WWE contracts. Or at least those who were already wrestling with other companies. It’s as if they’re trying to give each brand the perfect mix of women, because once they crack that tricky combination lock everything will be ok. I wouldn’t even mind if they just tried to give the ladies some storylines. Somehow, indifference is even more offensive than writing poor feuds.

So, Mickie James and Beth Phoenix go to Smackdown, Melina, Eve and The Bella Twins go to Raw and Rosa Mendes heads off to ECW. Of course, it means absolutely nothing unless the creative team have some interesting feuds and well thought out plans for each ‘character’ in the office filing cabinet. Each shake-up seems to promise so much and deliver so little. I would very much like to be proven wrong on this occasion.

raw(lite): bespoke suits and amateur tanning

The jury’s still out on the whole guest host thing. It’s a shrewd business move and I’m not necessarily against it, but it would have been nice to see a few more former wrestlers getting a night with the mic. Jobs for the boys and all that. For me, ZZ Top hosting was hideous. But I’m really not a fan of theirs so it felt kind of pointless.

Everyone loves Shaq. Even people like me who get turned off by the whole bad boy thuggery of the NBA and get sick of hearing about King James. So I was certainly looking forward to this one. He didn’t disappoint. In fact, Vince should keep him on the books and snap him up the minute he hangs his high-tops up for good.

Shaq was eager to get to work straight away and set up a 5-man Beat-the-Clock challenge up. Whichever fella beats their opponent the quickest becomes number one contender against Randy Orton at Summerslam. But, oh dear, looks like the be-suited genius that is Chris Jericho has a little beef with Shaq. If someone gets a poster made of Shaq kissing Jericho’s forehead, make me a copy at the same time? I’ll put it up in my office and look at it in moments of general malaise and aggravation. How they both kept from cracking thoughout that segment is beyond me. And the crowd’s spontaneous chanting of CHRIS-TI-NA (Shaq’s new moniker for Jericho) made my heart smile.

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Shaq flicked Jericho away with one finger, so Chris decided to introduce him to his new tag-partner. It would appear that just 24 hours in the company of Chris Jericho has rubbed off on Show. Ooooh, look at him in his stylish bespoke suit.

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Ok, so pretty much every piece of clothing Big Show owns is going to be bespoke. I doubt even High n Hefty or Lofty n Mighty or whatever those shops are called stock Big Show Size as standard. The verbal slanging match between Show and Shaq ping-ponged back and forth beautifully as Shaq challenged Show to a match. Show wriggled his way out of it with a wordy theory on why he would not accept the invitation. Oh and…………

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Shaq was determined to make the tag champs fight SOMEONE that night, so he put Cryme Tyme in front of them, leaving the champs to scuttle away up the ramp.

With that hilarity done and dusted it was time for some fisticuffs and the first man jostling for that number one contender spot was Mark Henry, up against Carlito. Bad luck, Carlito. You drew the short straw on that one. Carlito decided to implement the tactic of flying kicks and piggybacks in the hope that he could topple Henry and keep him down long enough for the pin. But just like a really huge Weeble, Mark Henry rolled back to his feet again and smooshed Carlito in to the canvas. You remember Weebles, right? Those freaky, egg shaped people that always swung back up no matter how much you knocked them down?

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Looks more like a chubby CM Punk weeble than Mark Henry, but you get the idea.

Mark Henry wrapped his hands around Carlito and finished him off in 6 minutes, 49 seconds.

Moving on and the brand new Diva’s Champion, Mickie James, brought Kelly-Kelly and Gail Kim along to take on Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendes and Alicia Fox. This is exciting. No. REALLY! First off, Beth is back and without even a whiff of Santina. Second….err….off (?) a storyline involving Mickie and Beth is a female feud I think people will actually get behind.  Mickie has always held a special place in my heart. Her feud with Trish Stratus was brilliant. I’d love to see something that big again. Do it!

From one blast from the past to another, part two of the Beat the Clock Challenge involved M.V.P vs Chris Masters. Yep! Chris Masters! Back in the ring and clean as a whistle. I’m guessing.  Proof positive that the there is always a road back to WWE.  One thing though, if you’re gonna go down the spray tan route, you need to make sure you get it everywhere. That means lifting your arms when you stand in the tanning booth, Chris. Ask Randy to go with you next time.

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Both were out of the ring too long and were counted out. No M.V.P vs Randy Orton at Summerslam. Shocker!!!

Another break from Beat the Clock – The Brian Kendrick vs Kofi Kingston. Kendrick was giving Jerry Lawler some verbal heat when Kofi Kingston took him out with a kick in the face and ended the match.  A few days later Vince McMahon metaphorically punched Kendrick in the stomach and ended his contract.

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Back to business and it was time for Triple H to take Cody Rhodes on for his ten millionth shot at Randy. But wait, what’s this? Ted DiBiase ran out with some form of truncheon and gave Hunter a big whack on the back of the knee.

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Cody Rhodes did the most camp little run out to the ramp ever (watch it again, you’ll see what I mean) and Triple H limped out to the ring. In the words of my brother, “Triple H has got the best fake limp in the business.” But that’s probably because he’s had a lot of practice with real limps. I believe that’s called method acting.

The match trundled along nicely and I was super impressed when Triple H pulled off a dainty pilates move when he reversed Cody’s figure-4. The countdown was getting close and Triple H really needed to stop messing with his prey and finish the job. But Ted DiBiase reappeared and began doing a strange little leg dance which, with a bit more effort and a few additional spins and head flicks, he could totally have turned in to Jennifer Beals’ Maniac dance in Flashdance. If you’ve never seen it, watch. It is a thing of fitness beauty.

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Same leg movements as Jennifer. Trust me.

At first it seemed odd that DiBiase even got involved in the end of the match. There appeared to be no point to it. But all became clear when Triple H gave his Josh Matthews interview later on. More on that in a bit. Cody was pinned but after the time had expired. No dice for Hunter.

Time for some light relief, so we go to Shaq’s office where he is playing an epic game of scrabble with Santino.  I try not to smile at Santino, but I can’t help it. The Cryme Tyme boys rolled in, bumped fists with Shaq and generally loved all over each other, slipping in to Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah! But Santino felt left out so he threw a Cavs hat on at a jaunty angle, did some rapper-fingers and added his own lyrics. Careful, Tony. You don’t want that Canadian accent to slip through. The Italian’s not so easy to keep up while you’re hippin’ and hoppin’, eh?

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I won’t crush your enthusiasm by speaking about Hornswoggle and Chavo, so I’ll scoot over to the Jack Swagger/Evan Bourne Beat the Clock match. I’ve mentioned my brother a couple of times since being back from the USA, but that’s because he’s been watching wrestling with me again and it’s interesting to hear the views of someone who stopped watching wrestling because they couldn’t handle the silliness of it any more. He REALLY likes Jack Swagger and was impressed by Evan Bourne. Anyone who questions the pushing of all the new collegiate guys has got it wrong. If their hard work and new style can prick the interest of someone who abandoned wrestling can only be a good thing.

The match only lasted about three and a half minutes. Evan Bourne took the pin, so there’ll be no Swagger/Orton at Summerslam. That just leaves John Cena to beat Mark Henry’s time. Hmm. Wonder how that one will turn out?

Triple H was still fuming backstage about Ted sabotaging his match with Cody and vowed to take both of them out by himself next week.  By himself? Really? Seems like an awfully big task to set yourself. He could probably do with some help. From someone who’s refreshed by a long break, maybe? Someone to act as a tag partner? Has Hunter ever been in a tag team?

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By the way, Triple H mentioned ‘the tail that wags the dog’ in his JM interview. For a perfect explanation of this phrase, watch the Wag the Dog movie.  It’s brilliant. And it’s De Niro and Hoffman (pre-Meet the Fockers). How could you possibly lose?

The final Beat the Clock match was John Cena vs The Miz, with Randy Orton watching from the annouce table.  Not that I would ever dream of complaining, but why was Randy without trousers when he had no involvement in any matches that night?

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The Miz had already dissed various D.C. sporting teams and tried to run Cena’s clock down to force his exclusion from the BTC contest without getting hurt himself.  Didn’t work. John forced Miz to tap out with well over two minutes to spare. Randy joined John in the ring and I went all…..

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Remember several months ago when John and Randy (being BFFs and all) asked the writers if they could work together?  I wrote a post about it. John was even willing to go heel. Looks like they got their wish. And I, for one, am joyous beyond belief.

Final match of the night was Shaq’s special tag match between little and large and Cryme Tyme, with Shaq himself at ringside to keep an eye on proceedings.  All was moving along swimmingly until Show interfered with the pin on Jericho and the match had to be called off.  Shaq was furious. He whipped his shirt off and faced up to Show himself. Show had him in a chokehold, Cryme Tyme came to the rescue and Shaq rolled Show out of the ring. Jericho dashed around and started screeching at Shaq like a Jack Russell defending a Great Dane.

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Best. Raw. In. AGEEEEES. Congratulations, Shackwheel….. as Santino would say.

night of champions: swagger of a college kid

Alright, so, before I get in to the matches let me just say…. POOR. PERFORMANCE. PHILADELPHIA. What was with that crowd?  They bearly managed to lift out of their seats until Jeff Hardy started Swantoning all over the place. And that was the last match! I always imagine that cities and states with a particular connection to wrestling will rock harder than other places. Maybe they were distracted by the baseball season or something. Anyway, there’s a lot of bling exchanges to get through so let’s get cracking.

15DHDPretty much every NoC recap I’ve read has said this, but it was kind of telling that Legacy’s much anticipated match with Chris Jericho and a mystery partner was on first.  First matches aren’t generally the best you’re gonna get. They’re there to make sure the people stuck in line waiting to buy an overpriced hotdog and the PPV people at home who can’t get their viewing card number to go through don’t miss the biggest match of the night.

When Jericho announced he’d reveal a new tag partner at Night of Champions, the internet tom-toms started beating and all kinds of wild and wonderful names were thrown about. My personal favourites were the Undertaker, Randy Orton and Christian. How great would it have been for Randy to go up against his helper monkeys and win? Later to lose the WWE title, of course.  And how awesome would Jericho and Christian have been? Team Canada Part Deux? Amazing. Look, I’m even making up my own wrestlegasm moments now.  Anyway, what we actually got was Big Show. Ok, so kind of an anti-climax, but he totally redeemed himself by leaving giant paw-shaped slap mark on Cody Rhodes’ chest.

If it's make-up, don't spoilt it and tell me. I like to think he gave him a really good thump.

If it's make-up, don't spoilt it and tell me. I like to think he gave him a really good thump.

Jericho and Show kept the belts. Game on!

Next up CM Punk, the Maude Flanders of WWE, wanted to confront the audience concerning their debauched, toxic ways and accused the parents (sorry, paRENT) in attendance of damaging their kids.

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It’s strange, part of me thinks “who the hell do you think you ARE, Punk? Telling ME  having a beer is tantamount to shooting heroin in my arm?’ But there’s something a little bit tantalising about a boy THAT square, even if Preachy Punk is just part of a the character. It’s almost like he’s begging to be corrupted. If he ever wants to go the other way and clink pale ale bottle necks together with someone, I’m right here.

Drank a couple of bottles of these on an empty stomach and couldn't feel my feet. True story.

Drank a couple of bottles of this on an empty stomach and couldn't feel my feet. True story.

One question though, a tattoo is ink embedded in the pigment of your skin, right? A foreign chemical under your skin? Just sayin’.

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Moving on, I don’t often give much blog time to ECW. It’s not that I don’t watch or love it, it’s just that I don’t have time to squash everything in here. I can confirm though that I am a total peep and every time Christian’s music kicks I get a funny little tingle in my fingers. We’ll call them Mini-Wrestlegasms. The match was solid and the two shared a lovely, bromantic moment when Christian took the title at the end. But you’ll have to wait til the end of the week before I tell you more about that. Man Hug Moments are now a special feature all of their own.

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Alright, so next we had a Six-Pack Challenge for the US Championship, fought over by Jack Swagger, Carlito, Primo, The Miz, M.V.P and Kofi Kingston.  It went how you might expect a Raw mid-card match to go and wasn’t spectacular, but it was energetic and seemed to turn the key in the backs of the audience for a few minutes. Especially with this ménage à quatre.

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Kofi kept the belt, which was probably a great weight off his mind, what with his dog having hernia surgery this week and all. (I <3 Twitter) I do have a bone to pick with WWE though.  What’s with all the Waffle House hate? First The Miz tells Mickie James he predicts she’ll be reduced to working as a Waffle House waitress within a few years, then Jerry Lawler describes  Jack Swagger as “tougher than a Waffle House steak”? In the interest of fairness, you could have said Denny’s or Shoney’s or IHOP or Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans. Ok, not Bob Evans. Bob Evans is freakin’ awesome.

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From one thing that makes me feel fat to another – Michelle McCool vs Melina. It’s a sad day, people. Like all passing crushes, my girl-crush on Michelle McCool has come to an end. I’m not entirely sure why, but her voice started to grate on me and, ultimately, I tend to shake my pom-poms for faces. I always fall out of love with heels after the initial excitement. (Unless they’re Chris Jericho.)  So, I was fully in Melina’s corner, despite her Smackdown promo involving her chucking foundation powder all over Michelle. Must we ALWAYS use beauty products to fight, ladies? I’m looking at you too, Maryse! My brother informs me that that’s the only way girls know how to fight. I proved him wrong by punching him in the gut………. and sweeping some Jeff Hardy inspired liquid eye-liner across his face.

The match wasn’t bad, but they’ve probably done better on Smackdown. I should know. I actually pay attention to most women’s matches. I would have concentrated a little more closely on this one but the incessant screeching kept distracting me. Kind of like watching women’s tennis. Michelle kept the title, but it’s ok Melina. You’ll get another chance. And, alright, you haven’t got any gold to hang around your waist at the moment, but you boyfriend can hold jewels IN his waist. Hmm? Feel better?

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Ok, time for a big ‘un. Triple H and John Cena try to capture the belt from around Randy Orton’s waist…..or his shoulder depending on what mood he’s in that day.  It started off kind of slow. There was all kinds of slipping under the ropes and posturing. Not that I ever complain about man parades but from a wrestling point of view… slow. But proceedings picked up and it turned in to a pretty good match. Hunter had Randy in a sharp shooter, John joined in with an STF and even the great Randy Orton couldn’t take the pain of the two of them on top of him and started tapping out. I’d be willing to give it a shot, but that’s for another day. Despite the submission, with both guys on top of him, the ref couldn’t decide whether to grant victory to John or Triple H. Tricky! The official scratched his head and consulted his mental rule book on what to do.

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But all this dithering gave the helper monkeys time to scuttle in and remove the boys from Orton’s back.  John tried to put Cody out of action, but before he could adjust his attitude Randy stuck the RKO on John’s neck and took the match. Ok, I need to sit down for a moment to recover. What? You didn’t realise I write these things standing up?

I’m gonna go and sneak backstage to eavesdrop on someone’s conversation. Oh here’s something juicy – The Miz and Maryse. The Miz made his usual advances which, after initially encouraging, Maryse shot down in flames. The line between flirty retreat and outrageous tease is fine and it looks like Maryse travelled too far in the wrong direction.  When even The Miz is turning you down, things ain’t looking too crash hot.

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It was the start of a bad night for Maryse, who went on to lost the Women’s Title to my new number one chickie, Mickie James.  The crowd were AWFUL for this match. AWFUL! And ok, it certainly wasn’t the best match they’ve had together, but apart from the odd wolf whistle and a decent cheer when Mickie took the match, nada.

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It’s funny how things change. Who would have thought a year ago that Smackdown would dominate the final two matches of a PPV and that one of them would involve a former Spirit Squad member.  But Dolph Ziggler has moved up the ladder pretty swiftly over the past few months, and even though I was suspicious of him at first (mainly because of his hair) he was impressive in this match. Ok, so Rey Mysterio is a more than generous performer. But still, I thought Ziggler was kind of special and it makes me excited about the band of college educated athletes floating round the roster at the moment.

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As expected, Mysterio won the match, taking Ziggler out with a 619 once but he’d had his fun. But he gave him a gift of a match. Welcome to the big-time, sir. By far the match I enjoyed most but, oh dear, looks like Maria might be rethinking her choice of beau. She didn’t exactly run to his broken side, did she?

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By the way, if you were as hypnotised by Dolph’s tiny, shiny shorts as I was, keep your eyes peeled at the weekend. I might have a treat for you. Wink-wink. Nudge-nudge. Say-no-more.

Final match of the night belonged to CM Punk and Jeff Hardy. Ok, listen guys. I wanted Punk to win as much as you did. You KNOOOOW how I feel about Mr. Brooks.  But all the marks need to take a Xanax (very un-Punk like, I know) and give Jeff his props.  He’s been working hard for a long time now and if you remember, he only held the belt for a few seconds before Punk cashed in his MITB contract and snatched it away. It’s not Jeff’s fault the powers that be decided to push him. He even asked for a break! It’s not his fault that kids are eating up the promos and feel connected to him.  Embrace! Rant over.

The match itself was pretty solid, as most of their matches have been, and it was awesome to see even more personality then usual from Punk. This strong Straight Edge angle has really brought him out of his shell and I LOVE it. Excuse me for going all-out girly, but there were points when my mind said things like “Oh My God, I don’t think he could look any cuter than he does right there.”

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Punk put the GTS on Jeff but failed to make the pin. And again. And again. Exasperated, Punk took his ball (belt) and went to go home, hoping he’d be counted out, disqualified and remain keeper of the gold. But Jeff was having none of it and dragged Punk back in the ring by the ear.  A few minutes and a Swanton Bomb later – the title had changed hands.

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Ahhhhhhh, it’s awesome to be back on my wrestlegasm throne. I missed ya. More before the end of the week and lots to come over the weekend.

UPDATE: As you will see from the first comment in the comments box, Maude Flanders was supposed to be Helen Lovejoy. Soz. A lapse of concentration on my part. But the dearly departed Mrs. Flanders  would not have been a Jeff Hardy fan anyway. And  you got the idea, right? No harm, no foul.   Huge thanks to my colleague, Adam of LOL Wresslin, for so graciously pointing out my error.

smackdown(lite): eh-men

After the ridiculous dramatics of Trump Buys Raw, I was looking forward to the understated genius that is Smackdown. To kick things off, Josh Matthews decided to hold an in-ring interview with Jeff Hardy.  First, Josh reminded him of his win over Edge at Extreme Rules. Ahhh. Good times. But then he reminded him of how CM Punk cashed in his MITB contract just seconds later. And theeeeen, just to rub even more vinegar in to the gash, Josh went on the remind Jeff that he had been SOOO CLOSE to regaining the title on the special Raw earlier in the week, but Punk had foiled his plans again and kept the belt. Bloody hell, Josh! How about you remind ME not to call YOU next time I’m feeling a bit blue.

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Jeff was given  a moment to leave his failures in the past, so it’s only fair that CM Punk has his say too.  The crowd are still confused about what to make of New Punk. It’s kind of like when New Wave music hit in the very early 80s. It’s not hard, it’s not soft. Kind of in the middle. New CM Punk is the Blondie of WWE, but with black hair and strange insomnia bags under his eyes. Phillip, get some sleep chicker, or at least borrow some of Debbie’s concealer. (BTW I’m not actually old enough to remember New Wave ‘hitting’. I just watch a lot of rock-docs.)

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They ALMOST did the Drugs v Just Say No story, but they bottled it. Chickens! They just skated around the topic, like the Seinfeld ‘The Contest’ episode.

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During the break, Punk left and Jeff stayed to have a roll around with Jericho. This match had no reason, other than to be exquisitely entertaining and not to ruin the PPV matches by showing us something we have the priviledge of paying to see a couple of weeks later. But wait, there’s a twist. A simple but perfect twist.  The front row directly left of the ramp was graced with three guys in Rey Mysterio face-shirts and masks.  Ah! But! One of them WAS Rey Mysterio. At an opportune moment Rey jumped the barrier, swung his legs around Jericho’s neck, took him down and jumped back in to this seat. Naturally, the referee was otherwise engaged in the ring and missed the whole thing. With Jericho dazed and confused, Jeff was able to make the pin for the win.

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PSSST! REY! The guy behind you with the camera is blowing your cover.

Oh, Smackdown. It you were a fella I would have the biggest crush on you right now. I’d write I <3 SD on Post-Its and stick them all over my office. Which would be quite embarrassing as I am:

a) a fully grown lady

b) more immature than the students I try to teach how to be a grown up

Anyway, backstage Layla and Eve were arguing over who a can of hairspray belonged to. Yeah. Really. They needed Maria to separate them and allocate the spritzer to Eve. Seems the dance-off, the arm-wrestle and the cat-fighting was all worthless ’cause all they needed was a gentle word from Freuline Maria. Who knew? Their moment was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler who, by some freak of nature, I am starting to dig. DOH! The ladies pretended they didn’t know what his name was and he skulked off in a mood.

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His match with Khali was kind of a wipeout. Ziggler won via DQ. I’d like to see him get  a feud going with someone else. I’m kind of biased against Khali.

He's the shame of sexy? Duh! Actually, Todd looks amazingly handsome in that picture, so he may be in with a shot.

He's the shamen of sexy? Duh! Actually, Todd looks amazingly handsome in that picture, so he may be in with a shot.

Alright, time for the girls to get up and, oh boy, am I happy there’s going to be a Women’s Title Match at The Bash. There hasn’t been a proper Women’s division match at a PPV since before Wrestlemania. Alicia Fox took Melina on with, of course, Michelle McCool at her side. The match was fine.  I think at one point Todd Grisham might have said “you’ve gotta bend Melina pretty good to make her scream.” Oh, Todd. You like to pretend you know that from experience, don’t you? Melina went on to win the match but Michelle took exception, kicking her in the face and out the ring.

But here was the shocker….. Michelle took a microphone and SPOKE! Yes, a women’s match at a PPV AND a promo. My cup runeth over. Although, the lack of mic time might have hampered Michelle’s delivery technique. She seemed a little….awkward. But I don’t care. A promo, however disjointed,  from one of the girls totally made my day.

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Alrighty. Back to the boys and Edge was in the ring, not too chuffed about being paired up with rising star, John Morrison. I swear, every single time I write about Morrison I type ‘Jim’ and then have to backspace for ‘John’.  Anyway, Edge accused John of wanting to ‘be’ him. Morrison responded by doing a REALLY bad Canadian accent, and he told Edge he’d better stop complaining of he’d give him something to complain about. Oooh. Handbags at dawn.

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It's rai-ning eh's. Halleluiah! It's raining eh's, eh-men!

I heard lots of talk about the mainstream introduction of The Hart Dynasty last week, but Morrison’s big match with Edge was an understated big-deal too.  Definitely a step up the career ladder. Brilliant match! BRILLIANT! Edge took it with a spear, but it was so good. How many times can I say I love Smackdown before I get so annoying people stop visiting? I think I’m probably on the borderline right now. I’ll stop.

R-Truth and Cryme Tyme took Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin and Ricky Ortiz on in a three-man tag. It was fine. Ya know, as expected.

Fresh from his stint sitting in the crowd, Rey Mysterio made his way past the crowd and jumped in to the ring. You know what I was thinking when he was touching foreheads with the masked kids this week? That he must whisper inspirational phrases in their ear. Life-affirming statements that will carry them through their adolescence and in to adulthood.  Stuff like this maybe…….

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Ah. If only I’d touched faces with a masked wrestler when I was a kid, maybe I’d have been a superstar. *day-dreaming*. Anyway, Mysterio challenged Jericho to a rematch so he could regain his Intercontinental Title. His speech was interrupted by Jericho who, after a beautiful verbal tustle, told Rey that if he wanted a rematch he’d have to be willing to de-PVC his face if he lost. This was all agreed so we’ll see  how that pans out at The Bash, but it’s pretty safe to say we won’t be seeing Mysterio’s face any time soon. Or will we? Oooh.

As Smackdown is all about delicately interwoven storylines that don’t need to show you a PPV main event before the PPV, Rey Mysterio stayed in the ring to go up against CM Punk while Jericho slid over to JRs hip, donned a headset and spoke mean words about Rey.  Jericho is wicked on commentary. Seriously. He never runs out of the perfetc words. Take note Rhodes and DiBiase. Stringing a coherent  sentence together is part of your job. K?  When Jericho reaches retirement, PLEEEEASE give him a commentary job.

By the way, don’t think I didn’t notice at the beginning of the show that Punk was back in his lavender tinted shorts again. The article of clothing that made CROTCH WATCH possible in the first place. So just in case you thought the white trunks on Raw were a fluke…. see? He DOES like the attention.

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The match was moving along nicely when Jericho jumped out of his seat, drove Mysterio in to the turnbuckle while the ref was twiddling his thumbs and left him in the grip of a count-out. Rey managed to drag himself back under the ropes but Punk stuck the GTS on him and it was all over. Being the fine, upstanding citizen he is, Jeff Hardy could not ignore the injustice he had witnessed and tried to reason with the ref and Punk. Neither wanted to listen , Punk was booed and he held his belt aloft and exited the arena. Game on!

raw(lite): almost as important as my birthday

It’s been a busy week round these parts. The lofty business of higher education and facilitating the graduation of the kiddies under my wing has been hectic beyond any kind of hectic I’ve ever experienced.  An Everest type mountain of paperwork, so many digits my eyes started shivering, and almost impossible deadlines that were so tight they made my heart beat faster (not in a good Jeff Hardy in a falling towel sort of way – Thanks Adam & Matt). On the plus side, the chaos was punctuated by my birthday, which was made even better by the personal birthday card and message from my John. He even recorded a special message for me. Wondering why he didn’t say my name? He did. ‘Champ’ is his cute nickname for me. Listen…..

(click n play)


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I’m coming to get some, John. I’m coming!

Soooo, another event almost as important as my birthday took place this week. Yes, a special 3-hour Raw that wasn’t just Raw, because it had Smackdown and ECW matches on it too.  Like a Pay Per View, but not, ’cause it’s  free. Huh? Let’s give this strange hybrid a whirl, shall we?

It’s Raw, so who’s the first person out? Oh, Chris Jericho. According to Jericho, Raw has gone in to a tumultuous tailspin since he left. Well, I wouldn’t go that far, Chris, but……. Anyway, he couldn’t go on without insulting the crowd in his usual adjective heavy manner. This week’s Jericho Jibe is brought to you by the phrase “All of you [the crowd] are still the same ignorant, insipid, bulbous manatees you’ve always been.”

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Charlotte residents, according to Jericho. Cuter than Ric Flair, anyway.

He went on to diss Rey Mysterio which, of course, was answered but the playing of Booyaka-Booyaka-619! Good lord, I do love when Rey’s all fired up and angry. Raaaaawr! As soon as the bell tolled he tripped Jericho, leaped on to him and began the onslaught.  But Chrissy-boy was not over-n-out. I know people are getting a bit bored with these two together, but seriously, they are awesome rivals in the ring. AWE-SOME! Mysterio jumped from the top rope on to Jericho, but Chris managed to grab him and started pulling his mask off again. Worried about being exposed further, Rey grabbed at the mask and  lost his concentration, giving Jericho the cover.

vlcsnap-848244 copyKnow what I feel like now? A Josh Matthews and Randy Orton interview. Well, whaddaya know, here’s one right now. I love when I get what I want.  I’m not entirely sure what happened in the first part of the interview, because I was Googling ‘How tall is Josh Matthews?’ and was shocked to find out he’s 7″ taller than me. Which means that Randy would be REALLY EFFING HUGE stood up against me. NIIICE! If I ever get one of those “Please welcome my guest at this time…….” jobs, I’m gonna need a little box to stand on. Like when Vickie had to do scenes where she was stood next to Big Show.

Anyway, Randy was kind of mean and Josh being a sweet little thing, John Cena (fresh from recording my birthday message) came to the rescue. He told Josh to run along and took Randy on himself. John suggested that the WWE Universe would like to know why Randy is such a gutless, spineless, disrespectful Grand Wizard of the Baby Oil Boys’ Club. He also went on to suggest that, as Randy seemed to have forgotten there were FOUR people contesting for the WWE Championship now that Batista was out of action, maybe all the oil he rubs on himself was starting to rot his brain.

Ok, first of all, this whole scene =

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Secondly, Grand Wizard? Baby Oil Boys’ Club? Too easy, John. WAY too easy. But that doens’t mean I’m not gonna do this………………..

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Moving on, Mr. McMahon had an announcement to make and, apparently, it wasn’t to announce the new GM in the wake of Vickie G’s resignation. Ok, here’s where my timezone problem chimes in and stops me from getting the full impact of this whole thing. In theory, if I had avoided being on the internet for the whole of Tuesday, I could have watched Raw after work and experienced its dramatic events the same as everyone in North America. But asking me to stay away from the information super highway for  a full 24 hours is like asking Barack Obama to stop being charismatic for 24 hours. Ain’t gonna happen. So I’ll do my best to act surprised, but I can’t promise successful faking. K?

Vince McMahon, looking even more tangerine coloured than usual, appeared on the Titantron and announced that he had sold the Raw brand to a currently unnamed bidder.

Convincing performance? Send my Oscar via FedEx. Thanks.

Convincing performance? Send my Oscar via FedEx. Thanks.

Faced with the trauma of knowing that Raw had been sold to a mystery wealthy person, what else could they do but send out an ECW title match to refocus the mind. Christian (who is the owner of my fave theme music in the whole company BTW) made his way out, closely followed by current champion, Tommy Dreamer. Oh, right, I skipped Extreme Rules. He won the belt and a contract extension at the PPV. All caught up? Good. Christian put up a good fight, but Dreamer capitalised on Christian’s niggly ankle and pinned him, keeping the belt for another week.

Dave Batista successfully underwent major bicep surgery this past week to repair the injury he suffered at the evil hands of Randy Orton and a steel chair. Yah. That was it. Randy did it. He didn’t have the injury already. Honest.

Mmmm. Iodine-y.

Mmmm. Iodine-y.

But all this means the WWE Championship is up for grabs and so important is its capture that we were graced with a countdown clock leading up to the match. Phew! I would have missed it had I not had the clock on the screen. Mr. RKO, John Cena, Big Show and the newly returned Triple H batttled it out to take home the belt. Eight minutes after the bell ding-ding-dinged, Big Show was bearing the brunt of everyone’s attack and it looked as if John was going to pin Show for the title. But he hadn’t counted on Randy Orton slithering his way under the ropes. Randy slammed John in to the turnbuckle, put a beautiful RKO on Big Show and pinned him. He grabbed at the belt like a kid grabbing at his new Tonka Truck on Christmas day and triumphantly made his way up the ramp.

vlcsnap-87837 copyAlright, with the WWE championship in the hands of, well, anyone, it was time for Vince to tell us who he was selling Raw to.  It waaaaaaaaaaas *drumroll*…..

Donald J. Trump. Yep. Him. Billionaire dude. Legendary businessman. Head honcho on the American version of The Apprentice. Had it been Alan Sugar I might have been happy, but I was initially furious. Like I said in my last audio post, I like to see non-wrestling jobs go to people with a connection to the industry. It’s the wrestling tree of life. I was annoyed that someone with no connection other than a much publicised Wrestlemania Battle of the Billionaires which ended with Vince being scalped a few years ago, had been given such a high profile role. But, after listening to the business and marketing pitch on episode 3 of Kick-Out!! Radio this week, I concede that my stance was a little naiive. Must learn to engage my brain before speaking.

Donald Trump, who managed to look even more orange than Mr. M, will just be a figurehead for Raw. It’s not like he’ll be the GM, popping up on every show. He’ll appoint a general manager and things will swiftly move on. And, I wonder how Shane and Stephanie feel about this? Aren’t they heirs to the company? Will they be happy that daddy dearest sold off their inheritance? Doubtful. Actually this could be more interesting than I originally thought.

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This whole segment was followed by Mickie James vs Rosa Mendes. Rosa wrestles? Really? Good for her. If ever you thought WWE doesn’t care that much about the Women’s Division, your fears were confirmed when it created a nothing match and put it right after the biggest announcement in weeks.  It was almost like saying, we’ll put something on nobody will care about so everyone at home can have five minutes to digest and debate D. Trump’s “purchase” of Raw. Sometimes I feel like giving up on this crusade. But I won’t.  Mickie won, Maryse did a hair swirl, Mickie tried to kick her in the face and Maryse ran away laughing.

Feeling like the crowd needed some light relief, we returned to join Goldust and Hornswoggle in the ring, shooting t-shirts in to the audience with one of those mascot machine gun thingies. Aww. Nice guys. But they were rudely interrupted by The Miz, as per usual, so I went out to take a whizz. Which is why I’m not sure what else happened in this part, but it ended up with The Miz knocking Goldust out and shooting Hornswoggle in the knackers with the t-shirt missile launcher. I get the feeling this ain’t over.

imyrimytsAnyone else need a break from Raw? Yeah, me too. Let’s Down some Smack with Edge, Punk and Jeff.  There I was thinking that the two big events this week were my birthday and the Trump topic. But there was something else. Something really special I didn’t think I would be welcoming back so soon. Yes, it’s the majestic return of CROTCH WATCH. If you’re new here and unfamiliar with CROTCH WATCH, it all started when CM Punk started wearing some rather skimpy, lavender tinted trunks. So taken with them was I, that I began monitoring Punk’s choice of trunks on a weekly basis. Purely for fashion purposes of course. But, he soon stopped wearing the light coloured trunks and I took the hint that I was being inappropriate, putting that segment away in the back of my knicker drawer until he decided he missed the attention.

It appeared it only took two weeks for him to miss my perving and he came out this week in WHITE TRUNKS. WHITE! Everyone knows that people who wear white bathing suits (and wrestle trunks) WANT to be noticed in the groinal area. How lovely to know he really did enjoy being the object of my affections after all.

So. Yeah. There was a match too. It was actually the best match of the night. I love you, Smackdown. Despite all the ‘over-egging the pudding’ in the Raw storylines, Smackdown still managed to pull an awesome match out of the bag without a ridiculous fanfare. Beautiful.

Edge ran at Punk to try and take him out with a spear, but Punk did an amazing jump over his head and Edge took Jeff out instead. Punk threw Edge in to the turnbuckle, and was running at him when Edge managed to push him over the ropes, damaging his knee on the steel steps as he fell. The medics came to Punk’s aide while Edge and Jeff continued in the ring. Jeff stuck a Swanton on him and went in for the pin, but Punk managed to get back on his feet, dragged Jeff out and pinned Edge to keep his title. Oh my god. AMAZIIIING!

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Now a return to Raw. Or is it ECW? Oh, it’s both. The Hart Dynasty v Primo and Carlito. And we had the pleasure of listening to Rhodes and DiBiase at the announce table. They rendered the match pointless by interrupting it. What a waste of The Hart Dynasty. Was that the first time we’ve seen them outside ECW? I think so. Shame.

Know what else was a waste of time? The 16-man Battle Royal*. It was like they were saying, we’ve got loads of Raw guys who didn’t get a pop this week, so we’ll put 16* men in the ring and let Triple H win. He’ll only end up taking his revenge on Randy at The Bash anyway. But wait, the new boss-man has something to say. Trump decided that he didn’t want to wait for The Bash. Orton v Triple H would be on the next Raw. That gives me hope of something different for The Bash. My feelings of hope are often way off kilter though.

* I know it was 10. But there were so many faces I couldn’t keep up  with who was there. It was a joke that went over most people’s heads. It’s ok. I know I’m not very funny. Thank you to those who took the time to email me to tell me I got it wrong. I know. It was deliberate.