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Friday, October 20, 2006

Game Over: At Whose Expense?

The road to the top for Triple H was a long one. Under the downright abysmal pun name of Terra Ryzing, he made his way from the independent scene into World Championship Wrestling. After a fairly unforgettable run wrestling on WCW Saturday Night, he was lucky enough to find a spot on the WWE roster.

The Greenwich Snob, Hunter Hearst Helmsley certainly didn't have an easy climb to the top, but he eventually made it there, and upon his arrival he unleashed a reign of "Terra" that has prevented more than one superstar from "Ryzing." His latest victim however, baffles the mind.
Triple H effectively destroyed the credibility of Rob Van Dam, Kane, and Booker T in 2002. Time heals all wounds, however, and Rob Van Dam and Booker T both have been positioned into World Heavyweight Championship roles in 2006. Possibly Kane will get a chance to run with the ball for more than a day as well.

However, the latest victim of the Cerebral Assassin might not be so lucky. On the August 28th edition of WWE RAW, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were slated to face mystery opponents. A little over a week removed from overcoming five members of the Spirit Squad, Ken Kennedy, William Regal, Fit Finlay, ECW World Champion The Big Show, Umaga, and both McMahon's at Summerslam, DX was unreasonably on top of the world.

Despite the fact that the McMahon/DX angle had more than run it's course, and most agree that the reunion of Degeneration X reunion has largely been unable to recapture the group's past magic due to religious beliefs amongst other things (like the fact that no one wants to see two 40 year old guys acting like high school sophomores), we are still in the middle of a McMahon vs. DX feud.

Smackdown's number one prospect, Ken Kennedy, and their two strongest mid-card heels, Finlay and Regal, showed up on RAW to gain a measure of revenge in a handicapped match against Degeneration X. All three men, and the Smackdown brand itself took a huge blow as Triple H pinned Regal for the victory.

After the match had concluded, Shane brought ECW World Heavyweight Champion, The Big Show, out for his vengeance. I breathed a sigh of relief as together with the three defeated Smackdown superstars, Big Show was finally getting the advantage.

Both Michaels and Triple H were worked over with Finlay's Shillelagh. Both Michaels and Triple H were chokeslammed. Michaels laid in the ring and played dead. Triple H on the other hand was showing signs of life.

Out comes Vince McMahon. Now, Vince McMahon is not a wrestler, but we've all seen that he's no normal man either. He's built, and there is some credibility to the idea that Vince can hold his own. Add to the equation, Vince is carrying a lead pipe.

Michaels took his beating and laid prone on the mat as expected. Triple H, however, does not stay down so easily. Between Vince and Shane, Triple H had to have taken approximately 20 blunt strikes to the head the aforementioned lead pipe.

Now, I am certainly not built like Vince McMahon, but if I were to hit you in the head with a lead pipe once, I am pretty sure I could muster up the amount of lethal force required to kill you in one or two blows. Since you are an O Show reader however, I'll not test my theory...

Shane hit both men with running lead pipe strikes right in the head. At no point did Triple H ever simply lay down and act as though he was unconcious like his stablemate. Triple H, after 20 or so blows to the head with a "lead pipe" continues to crawl around the mat, as if somehow he was going to get up and exact a measure of revenge.

Only days after what should be considered a deadly assault, Triple H and Shawn Michaels announced that they would be back in action that Tuesday on ECW against the Big Show. Wait, wha?

Maybe it's my fault. Maybe, I underestimated the amount of pain that Triple H can withstand. I didn't forget about the time that Steve Austin operated a crane and lifted Triple H and his car 50 feet in the air and pulled the release. Triple H not only lived, but wrestled the next week on Raw as Jim Ross explained it as a "miracle."

This is in stark contrast to the wrestling world I grew up watching. Hulk Hogan, wrestling's equivalent of Superman, took three Earthquake splashes from Earthquake and was out of action for months. If a wrestler was hit with a chair or piledriven outside of the ring, you could expect him to be out of action for some duration of time. A table or the ring bell? That was months off TV. Many major stars spent time at home selling injury angles. Very few had ever incurred anything nearly as serious as being struck in the head with a lead pipe.

Somehow, we had moved from there to a place in wrestling where the only credible weapons used by wrestlers are the baseball bat, lead pipe, and sledgehammer. Thanks to the Cerebral Assassin's resistance to lay down, we can now cross another off that list.

What has happened to injury angles in professional wrestling? Can the lead pipe be rebuilt as a credible wrestling weapon? Is there anything in this world capable of stopping Triple H?

Indeed the Game is Over, but his book fails to mention that talent and traditions that have been completely destroyed while "Making the Game."
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Monday, October 02, 2006

From the Vault: The Flair/Foley Nightmare

8/01/06: Mick Foley has the creative leeway to say pretty much whatever he wants, as evidenced by his promo a few years ago where if you don't hold a title in the WWE, there is something wrong with you, said in ring on Raw.

Foley's current promo's do irreversable career damage to Flair. Flair doesn't get less old, broke down, or washed up when this feud is over.

The problem?

Flair is the babyface.

Foley is putting himself back over hard at the expense of the angle and at the expense of what's left of Flair's career. Why does this make him the best promo guy ever?

Foley has had some entertaining nights on the stick, I will not deny. However, to call him the best of all time is irresponsible. You think Foley is the only one that can come up with good shit to say nowadays? No. He's just one of the only ones left with the ok to say it.

When he essentially shot on Flair, Flair was left in the ring like a wounded dog. The next week, Foley used that vulnerability against Flair. Why was Flair only able to come up with Fat Boy? I dunno that he had any idea the verbal assault that he was about to receive.

And to be honest, half of wrestling fans are not internet smarks. Just because Foley's book is a best seller doesn't mean every wrestling fan read it. I know guys that go to WWE shows TODAY that think they will see Austin and the Rock.

Shoot promos get over with a certain audience, but because you are allowed to make them and it satiates the Internet Wrestling Community, that doesn't make you a great talker.

Great talkers are the guys that used the stick to get them somewhere in the business.

Hogan
Flair
HBK
Austin
The Rock
Triple H

Hell, then you had the guys that said absolutely nothing that ever made sense, but people listened:

Warrior
Savage
Sid
Vader
Dusty Rhodes

Then on top of that, you have the guys that could just flat out talk. Talk about wrestling, talk about matches, and make you care.

Rick Rude
Jake Roberts
Ted Dibiase
Curt Hennig

Then you had the managers:

Cornette
Heenan

Who did more to get the story and the emotion where it needed to be than those guys?

I think Foley stomps on his ability to cut promos every week nowadays, because he cut some of the best ever, but now he is simply a patsy of the internet, and in every promo he cuts, I hear him begging for the internet's approval. Foley has never had any self-esteem in the business, because he knows deep down that his stunts did get him to the top.

He is truly one of the all time greats, but the more he begs for our acceptance, the more he brings himself off the pedestal and back on our level.

I think that it's a telling sign for the current state of the product when last night's verbal showdown between Flair and Foley is so critically acclaimed.

Foley again flip-flops and puts under Flair. Flair is incoherent and babbly. I much prefer the limousine riding, jet flying cocky son of a bitch to this crazy heart attack having old man.

It seems when Flair and Foley and Funk for that matter are out there, they have a general outline, but ALWAYS forget where the hell they are going. Flair will start yelling and screaming just to make sure someone is saying something. Foley appears to be waiting for the cue that never comes. Finally Flair remembers, oh Melina.

That sets off the Foley family man comments 5 minutes after they should have originally come.

Don't get me wrong, they are two of the best. I mean that. I just don't see last night as the magic moment that many others seem to.

I think they are two men who believe their own hype. Foley is tearing down Flair's legacy, but Flair is doing business and actually building Foley's further.

I am happy that they are getting fans into their future encounter, but am worried when the talent that the WWE actually needs to propel them into the future is losing time to very long and often multiple promo segments between Flair and Foley.

These aren't classic promos by old standards. They are just way above the low bar set by current superstars.

The fact that Foley ever referred to anyone in the industry as an "imaginary badass" exposes the business. It was cool to hear Flair tout legends that normally don't get their due on WWE TV, but that a good promo does not make.

We all will have our differing opinions. My personal opinion is that if this promo is at any other time when the business is up, and if any of those other great talkers we mentioned are anywhere insight, we look at this as being long, unfocused, and probably a 6 or 7 out of 10.

At points, Flair seemed like a deer in the headlights. Luckily he has his crazy old man act to fall back on.

At one time, diamonds were forever, and so was Ric Flair. This program with Foley has shown that perhaps Flair's time is running short.
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