The MeeThinks Saturday Spectacular 04.28.07
Posted by John Meehan on 04.28.2007
Orton's a rock star, RVD's a question mark, Batista is a buzzkill, and... PALMER CANON? Holy crap, THAT GUY is still around?!?
Hi everybody, and thanks again for reading. WWE is back from Europe, and they've brought a ton of rumors, newsbytes, and all sorts of "he-said, he-said" gossip with them... so what's say we hit the ground running with a boatload of fresh-off-the-plane 'rasslin news.
Before we all get *too* worked up over this, folks, let's put things in perspective and chill out for a second, yes? First things first, we all know Van Dam was looking for WWE to pay him for a lengthy sabbatical away from the ring. Chances are, if WWE didn't sweeten the deal enough for him on this go-round of contract negotiations, there's every reason to believe that Mr. P-P-V might just as well ride out his contract to the end, coast through the no-compete clause, and then "fire up" (wink) a new round of contract negotiations with *both* WWE *and* rival promotions like TNA.
For Van Dam, that's the win/win.
If WWE doesn't offer him a contract to his liking by July, then he gets that automatic sabbatical he's been "burning" (wink) to take for some time now. Even if it's just thirty days of a no-compete clause, it affords RVD the perfect opportunity to rest up and re-evaluate what all is most important to him about this business. Namely, the simple question of "fame" versus "money."
If Van Dam decides "money" is the sweeter end of the deal than a push-to-the-moon (for after all, ya' can't buy weed with "but I'm popular!"), odds are very good that he'll re-sign with WWE. If RVD would rather go it on his own and receive a king's welcome from the moment he sets foot in a rival promotion (like TNA), then look for him to say "thanks, but no thanks" to ANY offer WWE throws his way as he signs on the dotted line to main-event (for a lot less money) with fellow WWE-alums like Christian Cage and Kurt Angle down in Orlando.
In either case, these next few months should tell fans a LOT about who, exactly, RVD is as both a person *and* as a professional wrestler.
It's no secret that I'm not above taking the errant "pot-shot" (Hiyo!) at our pal Cheech for his screwed up order of priorities from a few months back (it's simple, Rob -- smoke up on your own time, not when you're the Champion and key player at the front and center of the world's largest wrestling company). But that said, RVD has been very vocal in recent months in his criticism of the backstage politics, the booking of the "new" ECW, and in general about the all-around "crap" that life behind the curtains at WWE has shown him.
So it's simple, really --
If RVD is really a man of his word, and he's more willing to take a paycut for the sake of his pride -- he'll jump ship from WWE's land of pre-scripted promos, backstage politics, and junior-varsity rehash of ECW... and he'll head for greener (though less immediately lucrative) pastures in TNA. In which case I'll totally admit to having misjudged the man, as he really does, in fact, care first and foremost not only about what's best for R-V-D.
If, however, RVD re-signs with WWE... it'll pretty much prove the point that all his incessant months of whining, angling, and complaining about politics, glass ceilings, shoddy booking, and other backstage nonsense was simply nothing more than a bargaining tool to eek some more cash out of Big Brother WWE. In which case, RVD is one hell of a businessman and I'll applaud him as such -- but it's still a pretty crappy thing to think that the guy would much rather collect a WWE paycheck than actually stand up for all that stuff he claims to have believed was so wrong with the company in the first place.
Kinda like when Bill Goldberg joined WWE after badmouthing the company for the better part of two years, really. Or how Hogan and McMahon will (inevitably) do business together again in the future despite the fact that each one is shouting from the rooftops just how sleazy and no-good the other one is.
With WWE's Wellness policy still in full effect, I can't help but wonder why they haven't added a "three strikes and you're out" addendum to really help cut the crap when it comes to repeat offenders like Randy Orton. Not to be a negative Nancy here, but sometimes it just pays to learn from past mistakes lest we be doomed to repeat them. Let's take a look at young Randall's less-than-stellar track record of past behaviors for a second, shall we?
1998: Randy Orton joins the U.S. Marines, goes AWOL on two separate occasions, and disobeys a direct order from a commanding officer. Private First Class Orton was tried and convicted under special court-martial, serves thirty eight days in a military prison, and is dishonorably discharged.
2004: Orton accused of harassing fellow WWE employees Amy Weber and Rochelle Loewen. Orton is said to have made disparaging slurs toward both women in question, and was confirmed to have vandalized Roewen's belongings in a gym bag filled with baby lotion and oil. Weber quit the company soon after, while Loewen was transferred to Smackdown so as to avoid further confrontation.
2006: In April, Randy Orton is suspended for 60 days without pay for "unprofessional conduct." In July, Orton admits to WWE magazine that he'd been suspended after being caught smoking marijuana backstage at a SmackDown! taping, and that he spent four weeks of the unpaid suspension checked into a $15,000-anger management clinic in Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly after the suspension, Orton is re-assigned to WWE's RAW brand; rumors circulate that the move was made to bring Orton into more direct dealings with WWE heavies like Triple H, Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels, in hopes that they might "keep a closer eye on him."
2007: In March, Orton is among the WWE athletes fingered by Sports Illustrated magazine in their ongoing exposé of steroid abuse in pro sports. Orton is alleged to have obtained clomiphene citrate and the steroids stanozolol, nandrolone, anastrozole, oxandrolone, and testosterone. Fearing media backlash, WWE pulls Orton from all promotional and media appearances in the weeks leading to WrestleMania 23.
Present: In April, Orton is sent home early from WWE's tour of Europe. WWE lists the official cause of Orton's dismissal as the result of a stomach flu, but Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer reports that Orton caused an estimated $30,000 worth of damage to a German hotel room, wherein the superstar was found passed out prior to being sent home.
In other words?
Randy Orton is a behavior problem and the product of his own repeated failures. If reports are true, he's clearly got issues with ego, anger AND substance abuse -- and if WWE isn't careful with the guy, they're liable to have another Curt Hennig on their hands (minus the moveset and charisma, of course). Orton's been a behavior issue in WWE ever since his failed World Title run, and it's pretty obvious that his undue sense of entitlement (coupled with his fleeting tastes of success) have only made things worse along the way.
So what can we do?
Stop cheering Randy Orton, stop booing -- just stop responding to his segments at all. Stop buying his merchandise, stop paying for shows where he's headlining, and stop paying attention when he's in the ring or on the screen. The man needs help, people, and cheering or booing him won't get that done -- it'll just keep him on TV and keep him making money to feed his ego and addictions. If wrestling fans really care about Randy Orton, they'd do the poor bastard a favor and let him hit rock bottom in hopes that he might change his ways before it's too late. William Regal needed a full-blown stint in rehab to kick his demons, and Eddie Guerrero needed an all-out WWE firing to kick his -- and even then it might all have been too late.
If you really care about Randy Orton, don't let him suffer a similar fate.
Then again, you can just keep cheering and booing the guy instead. Keep feeding the man's ego and his addictions, and keep waiting for the next inevitable screwup when his "demons" do him in with the next go-round of suspensions or what have you.
At this rate, he'll be main-eventing against Curt Hennig in no time.
The official poster for WWE's June pay-per-view (as you can see above) features photos of all three current WWE champions. Since promotional materials are often made a good three to six months in advance, however -- don't count on the fact that 'Taker, Lashley and Cena are pictured as "champions" here to mean that they're all gonna' be champions come June 24 of this year.
Well, then again -- if they can make it through this weekend's PPV? Doesn't look like there's much planned in the way of title programs just yet for One Night Stand... so we might just be seeing those three walk into Vengeance with their titles *after all*.
In case you missed it, a bevy of former Deep South Wrestling talent are taking the promotion's closing as the opportunity to talk smack on just about everyone involved with the company. Former trainer Bill Demott (aka. "Hugh Morris") has received the lion's share of the trash talk that's been handed out, and so former Smackdown! talent "Palmer Canon" decided to set the record straight. Here's what the former "network executive" had to say:
With the recent demise of Deep South Wrestling, preceded by the firing of Bill DeMott as head trainer, it seems that now is a great time for people to come forth and air their dirty laundry- especially about the treatment they received while training with Bill. I found a recent blog posted by Kevin Matthews to be pretty unsettling, and not just due to his kindergarden-esque name calling (Billiam, Mr. Neck fat, etc). I was actually more disturbed by his blatant misrepresentation of what occurred in DSW. While I have no interest in getting into some sort of internet pissing contest (Kevin has more free time on his hands, and therefore he wins), I do feel that any ‘smart fan' who reads this site should know what actually occurred in that building in Mcdonough, GA.
First, I would like to address the facts regarding the schedule & training. Practice was held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Fridays. Kevin was correct in saying that the DSW roster was split into two groups and assigned to either Bill or Dave Taylor's class. The assignments rotated, so that you were in either one class or the other about 50% of the time. Bill's class began at 12pm and usually lasted no more that four hours. The first 30 minutes of class consisted of light stretching, a ¾ mile jog, 500 hindu squats, 100 push ups & 100 crunches (4 sets of 25, alternating). The remaining 3 ½ hours of class consisted of drills, which were admittedly very tough, from a cardio vascular standpoint (I used to throw up a lot). On any given day, there were about 10 wrestlers who were participating (not injured). Since you could only have 2 men in the ring at any given time, that means that you & a partner were in the ring about 20% of the time- about 42 minutes (and 168 minutes of down time watching others drill, drinking water, throwing up, etc). Add that 42 minutes to the 30 minutes of warm ups, and you were working out for a total of 72 minutes, 4 days a week. Kevin, with a physique that more closely resembles John McCain's than John Cena's, I would have thought you would welcome the extra cardio with open arms!
I recently re-read Ric Flair's biography "To Be The Man", and I would like to compare the training Flair underwent with Verne Gagne to "Bills Kill Drill Class" (Kevin's words, not mine- does that even make any sense?). Flair states "We had to do 500 free squats, 200 push ups, and 200 sit ups. I'd never trained so hard in my life." Ken Patera, commenting in the same book, said "We were doing neck bridges, calisthenics, jumping jacks, everything. Then we went to works out in the ring, which was inside on of Verne's horse barns… it was below freezing temperatures." Flair also describes how shooter Billy Robinson would regularly stretch people. By comparison, Bill's training, held inside an air conditioned facility with a nice WWE ring, seemed like a vacation. And another big difference: we were getting PAID to train!
Kevin also takes an opportunity to rip on Bill's credentials as a trainer: "god knows he doesn't have a clue about how to work". I could respond, but why bother: Bill has had a successful career in Puerto Rico, Japan, WCW, and WWE, where he was a wrestler, commentator, and trainer on Tough Enough III.
Kevin goes on to grind his ax with a few others in DSW- again, I won't even touch those subjects. ‘He said- she said' high school drama was something I tried to avoid at all costs. When we went out at nights, I tried to ensure that everyone was invited, everyone had a drink in their hand, and everyone had a good time- regardless of what petty differences arose during practice.
I'm not sure why Kevin is so sour on his DSW experience. My experience in DSW was great from beginning to end- sure, there were some grueling practices, but I'm a better man for having gone through them. And what's more: it was my job! I may be accused of being in Bill's ‘clique', but that never afforded me any privileges: I never skipped practice, never sat out on drills, and never got injured! It seemed clear to me, from my observations at the time, and from reading his latest rant, that Kevin had a poor attitude upon arriving in Deep South, never had the physical and mental tools to succeed in Deep South, and now trying to cope with these shortcomings by blaming Bill DeMott.
I'm sure that this letter will provoke some type of insult ridden response (I'm a pussy, I quit the WWE because I couldn't hack it in Europe, etc.) That's okay- I am a lot less worried about my own reputation than that of a man who helped a lot of us down in DSW.
Why did Deep South Wrestling close it's doors? The answer lies within the halls of a big building in Stamford, CT. That's a whole other topic, for a whole other day.
100% class act by Canon, right there. Good to see that not *every* ex-wrestler turns into an embittered asshole when their time away from the squared circle is through.
In a story that (surprisingly) hasn't been getting all that much press around the webs this week, The UK's Express and Star newspaper recently featured an article about a kid in England who received the cold shoulder from the former World Champion. Here's an excerpt, as it was reported to the paper from Colin Peplow, the young boy's father:
"Kyle got a ticket and couldn't sleep the night before, he was so excited at meeting Batista and he had the afternoon off school. All his mates were telling him how jealous they were.
"But when he got there we were told Batista would only be signing WWE merchandise. We queued for nearly two hours and he signed a WWE book, didn't even look at him or say a word and that was it. His mum was trying to take a picture of the two on the mobile phone but his bouncers kept standing in the way to stop it.
"And he refused to sign a birthday card that Kyle had taken in because it is his birthday in three weeks.
"I think it is absolutely disgraceful for a man who is loved by so many kids to behave like this. We go down to the Wolves training ground all the time and they can't do enough for us. If they can make the effort I don't see why a jumped-up bloke in tights can't do the the same. Kyle couldn't stop crying."
Ok, normally I'd come to the defense of the WWE superstar here saying "he was jetlagged," or "hey, WWE merchandise only -- them's the rules!" But after reading more about this story (and piecing together other details about Batista's less-than-stellar attitude toward fans), I'm left with nothing more than this:
Sounds to Mee like Dave Batista is a dick.
Though I totally understand being "too tired" to put on a happy face or "contractually obligated" to sign only WWE-approved merchandise, things like autograph signings are HUGE opportunities for superstars to connect with and make lasting impressions on their fans on the most intimate and personal of levels. So yeah, be jetlagged and tell the fans "sorry, no can do" when they're asking you to sign a basketfull-o-crap that's bound to wind up on eBay in no time... but do so in as polite a manner as possible, and there's a BIG difference between skeezy-thirty-something Comic Book Guy looking to make a quick buck and innocent eight-year-old kid hoping to get a birthday greeting from his hero.
Any fan can tell you -- a good autograph signing (like when I met Mick Foley, for example) can leave your fans walking away all the more impressed and in awe of that guy they see slugging it out in the ring every week. But a *bad* autograph signing can do irreperable harm and cost a performer the very thing that made them famous in the first place. Not to judge a book by it's cover here, but when you start making a mental list of all those "negative" marks about Batista these days...
1) Bitched about his spot on the card at WrestleMania.
2) Has declined in the ring since returning from injury.
3) Cheated on (then divorced) his cancer-stricken wife while on the road with a WWE diva.
4) Got into a legit off-camera scuffle with Booker T.
5) Has backstage heat and a reported ego problem.
6) Is "too tired" to be nice to kids at an autograph session.
I will reiterate -- sounds to Mee like Dave Batista is a dick.
Though any *one* of those aforementioned incidents could easily be dismissed as a "one-off" case of a guy having a legit gripe and/or an "off-day," the fact that not one but ALL of these six stories have broken in the past 365 gives fans every reason to greet The Animal with the same tepid, "too good for us, eh?" reception that our pal Dave has become somewhat famous for in recent months. For what it's worth, though, I'm still a big believer in Batista and am personally hoping that he can adjust his attitude in quick enough time to regain his lost momentum and win back some of the fans he's lost and critics he's earned along the way.
At the WWE house show in Paris last night, two WWE Titles changed hands.
Mickie James defeated Melina and Victoria in a Triple Threat Match to win the WWE Women's Title. Later on in the night, she lost the title back to Melina.
Interestingly enough, the first title change was apparently not planned and a mistake by the ref. Therefore, it remains to be seen if WWE even acknowledges the title changes.
MeeThinks? There's an old saying in the wrestling business that "if it didn't happen on television, then it didn't happen." But it looks like WWE has already acknowledged this little snafu in their "official" title history online, so maybe it'll be spun into a positive and used to put more heat behind Mickie's quest for the gold in the weeks and months to come.
Incidentally (and I have no idea if these two incidents are in any way related, so please don't quote Mee on this one) -- the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has reported that WWE referee Chris Kay has been given a sixty day suspension. Again, no idea if he was even the ref for this bout (Kay is usually a Smackdown! official, so that's not likely), and no idea what all his suspension was for -- but even if he *was* the culprit of the screwy Women's Title outcome (again, probably not the case) -- 60 days for botching a non-televised finish to a Women's Title match sounds a bit steep.
So yeah... MeeThinks the two incidents are probably completely unrelated, but I just figured I'd mention that a referee was suspended this week just so y'all know that the 'E *does*, in fact, keep a close eye on more than just the wrestlers themselves.
Though I'm shocked it took the better part of six months for this little gem to surface 'round the webz, here's the latest on what all went down between Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman that lead to the "Mad Genius of ECW" earning himself an extended "time-out" from WWE employment. Word has it that apparently before his removal from ECW creative, Paul Heyman came to Vince McMahon asking to bring (then already a TNA talent, if I'm not mistaken) Spike Dudley as a "giant killer" (a role Spike had played in the original ECW). Understandably, this caused friction between McMahon and Heyman, and when Paul E. suggested that Spike Dudley defeat The Big Show at last year's One Night Stand PPV, McMahon soured on the idea (and Heyman's competence as a booker in general), as he felt having Spike Dudley going over WWE's resident "giants" would hurt their credibilities.
Hate to say it, but I've gotta' side with Vinny Mac on this one. Simply put -- once RVD burned out and Angle jumped ship, ECW was in dire straights and desperate for a credible main-eventer to plug in as the brand's champion. Love him or hate him, Big Show was just about the only guy left on the roster who fit the bill. Having him lose to a curtain-jerker like Spike, while fun and exciting for a one-off event, would hardly have left Show in any position to be pushed as the brand's resident powerhouse "monster."
Now were there some nonsensical matches and off-brand snafus along the way (cough dX cough)? No question. But the simple fact of the matter is that for the better part of six months' worth of ECW programming, Big Show was booked like a monster in order to make the ECW title seem like it had some value -- and he busted ass on a nightly basis to make sure fans took this new brand (and its champion) seriously.
Jobbing Show out to Spike, while fun and "unpredictable", would have made a fluke win over the Giant seem like all-too-real of a possibility. And if WWE was keeping Show strong in order keep in in reserve as their "contingency champion" once Van Dam and Angle went sour, it simply wouldn't make sense to have the guy go on a six-month, unstoppable title-streak rampage squasing everyone in his path if SPIKE FREAKING DUDLEY could have beaten him in a fluke.
Think about it:
Show loses to Spike + Van Dam and Angle flake out an ECW desperately needs a credible champion = Show gets the belt and is a "monster" for six months, but nobody takes him (or his challengers) seriously. Because after all, if Spike Dudley can beat him, why couldn't Kane, Batista, Sabu or anybody else out there?
So yes, to wrap -- though he's made some silly mistakes in his day, Vince McMahon is still a pretty sharp cookie.
Stumbled across these three items yesterday and thought y'all might be interested:
1) One of the roles considered for new IC champion Santino Marella was to be Kurt Angle's protege.
2) Another idea discussed for Marella was for him to be introduced as Anthony "Killer" Karelli.
3) ECW head writer Dave Lagana believes Marella could be the next Tazz.
Pretty nifty, eh? Since I've conveniently numbered these news items above, here's the blow-by-blow MeeThinks on all the hubub in a likewise convenient numerical fashion.
1) Kurt Angle's protege = yeah, because that worked *so* well for Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. And it worked really well for Orlando Jordan when he was Undertaker's protege, too, right?
No real loss here, and when you consider how much time last year Angle spent on the shelf and/or on suspension (not to mention the fact that he left the company altogether) -- it's probably for the better that Santino's arrival on the main roster wasn't hotshotted simply to give him a "brush with greatness" on his way back down to the developmentals once Angle went AWOL.
2) Anthony "Killer" Karelli, eh? Given the fact that Santino's arrival on RAW also just so happened to coincide with the tragic and untimely events of last Monday in Blacksburg, Virginia -- perhaps the omission of a new wrestler with a nickname like "Killer" was likewise a good move for all parties involved.
3) The fact that Santino is already drawing comparisons to Tazz means two things. First, that WWE officials really see something in the guy (so much so that they compare him with a legit badass, former ECW Champion). Here's hoping that doesn't mean he'll receive a similar (lack of) push in a WWE ring. Second -- and more importantly -- it means that people in WWE's locker room still remember, recognize and respect Tazz for all he accomplished during his in-ring career. Though I know it sounds like a small point, it's good and rewarding to see current WWE writers and agents so clearly in touch with some of the often-overlooked "stars" of not so long ago. Though they certainly make more than their fair share of screwups along the way, it's really quite nice to see that the guys writing much of what we see on WWE television *DO*, in fact, have a knowledge of and appreciation for some of the lesser-remembered but equally-talented stars of yesteryear.
Austin Starr not only ruffled feathers at the fanfest by sporting a Ring of Honor t-shirt, but he also refused to cut promos on his day off. These actions apparently led to his 90 day suspension by TNA.
Now if the guy was simply refusing to cut promos on his day off, I'd completely understand... after all, it *is* called "a day off" for a reason.
That said --
The fact that Starr also just so happened to be donning a Ring Of Honor t-shirt at the time (while refusing to work) pretty well lets ya' know who all was doing *what* and *why* in this case. Long story short, Starr was being difficult however he could, and TNA had no choice but to bring the hammer down on the guy in an attempt to curb his unprofessionalism. Sucks for Starr and his supporters, but life goes on and the company is probably better off *without* another backstage annoyance for the next few months as they desperately scramble to keep the rest of their increasingly-frustrated undercard happy. Not an enviable task, to be sure... so here's hoping Starr's time-out will help TNA cool some jets in their lockerroom as everybody tries to check egos at the door and do what's best for the company.
Because in all honesty -- two-hour TV slots or no, the place is too small for bad egos and backstage politics to prevail, and the company simply cannot survive in the long term the moment its roster starts turning on one-another backstage. Because frankly, there's already a certain company up North who would be more than willing to feed you all the backstage drama you can handle... only they pay quite a bit more, ya' know?
Alright, enough of that... what else have we got?
YouThinks Reader Mail
Due to Gmail apparently hating Mee this afternoon, we'll have to save this week's e-mails for a double-dose of 'em next week. So thanks again to all who've written so far... and keep those letters coming!
(wow, I feel oddly like Ryan Seacrest. Let's see if we can change that...)
The MeeThinks Pay Per View Tracker
Yahoo! New feature!
Since Backlash is this weekend (and since I'm often a bit late in making it to the staff forums in time to chime in on the PPV roundtables), I figured it might be a good idea to start throwing in the MeeThinks PPV Tracker (patent pending) right here in the bottom of my weekly column on weeks where there's a major pay-per-view event instead.
That way, I can single out each show's prediction ratio, and y'all can see just how well (or how poorly) I fared in pegging the winners and losers of each major event. Incidentally, and if any of my distinguished colleagues are so inclined, I'd love to see fellow staff members keep a running tally of their own so that at the end of the year we all can compare notes and see just who among the 411 "smarts" is really all that *smart* after all.
As you will soon see from the stats below, I'm barely making .500 at this point!
(Proof once again, folks, that you needn't be a psychic to have a weekly column about pro wrestling on the internet ;-)
Here's the track record of my predictions so far...
WWW New Year's Revolution - N/A TNA Final Resolution - 3/7 WWE Royal Rumble - 2/5 TNA Against All Odds - 2/9 WWE No Way Out - N/A TNA Destination X - 4/9 WWE WrestleMania 23 - 4/8 TNA Lockdown - 7/9
Cumulative Total: 22/47 Percent Correct: 47%
The good news? Ever since No Way Out, it would seem like I'm *gradually* getting better at this guessing-the-winners thing. The bad news? I still only managed to predict more than half of a card's matches correctly just ONCE all year.
For shame, Meehan.
Let's see if I can't do better with this weekend's PPV, yes?
Mickie (no title switch), MVP (new US Champ), Hardys (retain), Lashley (via shenanigans), Cena (Orton gets the pinfall), and 'Taker (because Batista's an ass, of late).
Here's hoping we fare better this time around than the last few, eh?
And With That, I'm Outta' Here...
Thanks again for reading, folks. Enjoy Backlash this weekend as I put the finishing touches on my life in a "wild and crazy bachelor pad" and make the (gulp) big jump into a life of sweet, sinful cohabitation with my ladyfriend starting next Saturday. Don't worry Mom and Dad, y'all raised Mee right and I'm still a good Catholic boy. :) In the mean time -- I'll see y'all back here next week, so stay chaste, and always stay positive!