Well I think our first date went well. I picked you up on time, bought you dinner, told some funny jokes, picked a decent movie, and then dropped you back home before curfew. All in all it was a good night, except for one thing. I did all the talking. It was all about me. So, enough about me…for our second date lets climb the ropes together and turn our attention to where it belongs, the wrestling ring.
I thought in general this was a shaky week for the WWE. I like Jack Swagger and think he has a great future, but to have him cash in his MITB briefcase on a taped program like Smackdown seemed to detract from the moment, from the important elevation of his career. Nothing is as exciting when you know it is taped. Whether the WWE wants to admit it or not, show spoilers are out there and people do find out results beforehand. Michael Cole called us “Internet geeks” this past week. Whatever. Maybe it’s not a huge percentage, and maybe it’s not their target audience (i.e. kids), but there are plenty of us that do read the results beforehand and I felt the intimacy of the moment was stolen from Swagger. Do it on RAW (they cross brands all the time) or at a PPV. Give him that special “live” moment. I kind of felt bad for him even though this win is great for his career. I don’t know. Am I wrong here? To what degree should the WWE care about how the Internet affects their business?
And just to remind you…there are only 4 weeks to go until the first “rookie” is eliminated from NXT. Settle down. I know the excitement is overwhelming. I can only imagine the “innovative” challenges NXT has in store for us over the next few weeks, maybe jumping rope, maybe karaoke. This past week was bizarre, although I haven’t had that much fun watching dudes carry a keg around since I was a junior in college. For me personally NXT has been a major let-down. I support the concept – trying to establish new stars – but I expected this show to be a “peek” into the training and conditioning of future superstars, not 8-on-1 matches vs. Kane. I think NXT is so contrived I find myself missing The Abraham Washington Show. And at least with ECW we would get the occasional Rosa Mendes “cha cha cha”. (Speaking of bad WWE TV, what happened to WWE Superstars? They should just change the tag line from “Expect Everything” to “Expect William Regal and a Colon Brother”.)
We already discussed the RAW Diva battle royal on this week’s podcast, and after a few more days to reflect on the show I still don’t understand why the WWE put the girls in dresses. Just give us a battle royal to determine the #1 contender. Why is this so complicated? Ironically, I think girls like Gail Kim and Eve look HOTTER in their wrestling gear then they do in formal dresses. Plus, the product in the ring suffers when the performers don’t have on their usually attire. So, anyway, Eve is the #1 contender and now faces Maryse this coming Monday in a match that hopefully goes beyond 2 minutes and 2 hair flips. Question – why does Eve get her title shot right away yet on Smackdown Beth just keeps squashing people but can’t get her own title match (Damn you Vickie!) Maybe if the Glamazon “dresses to impress” and walks down a red carpet she will finally get a shot at McCool? I guess she should head to Bloomingdales instead of Gold’s Gym. Yes I’m bitter. (PS – my contract with Diva-Dirt says I am legally allowed to mention Beth Phoenix 3 times in each column.)
As much as I’d love to see Beth regain the Women’s Title I really hope she doesn’t do it by opening a Lock Box. Remember the line in the movie Airplane “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” Well, “I picked the wrong week to start following the Knockouts.” What a goofy show. Let’s start with the good – TNA tried to be creative (bonus points here), the Knockouts were a major part of Monday’s program (major bonus points here), and I do like the diversity of the girls on the roster. Well, except for ODB. Somebody needs to tell me why she kept touching herself in places that should only be reserved for Mr. ODB. I have always loved stables like the Heenan Family, the Hart Foundation, and 3-Count (oops, that’s a typo) so I am definitely digging The Beautiful People right now. Cool idea and I like their spot in the company.
My problem is how TNA devalued the Knockouts championship by just handing it to Angelina Love. I know she won a “key” during the 8-girl match, but taking the belt off of Tara and basically giving it to AL bothers me. Champions need to be credible (kayfabe here for a second) so I hope they let Angelina keep the title for a while to build it back up. You can pass around spiders but you shouldn’t pass around title belts. I know there have been other shady title changes in the past (DiBiase “buying” the world title in 1988 shook me up so much I think I missed a week of school), and maybe TNA accomplished their goal because it got a lot of people talking about the show (the ratings seemed strong too), so we’ll see. But please TNA, don’t pull the belt off of her right away. And don’t tease any more stripping, its stale. I’m not 13. I can Google.
Let’s hope each show delivers a great title match this coming week. I am actually excited for the KO title match Monday, so for me that is a good sign – I’m still on board! Monday’s Post RAW / Impact show should be fun.
I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the return of Bret “Hitman” Hart at WrestleMania 26. I mentioned before that I am a huge Bret fan. The original Hart Foundation will never be topped for me. Check out a replay of WrestleMania 3 when the Harts and Danny Davis beat the Bulldogs and Tito in “classic” heel fashion with Jimmy’s megaphone. They looked great in the pink and black and seemed like the coolest guys around. By the way, if you would have told me they were friends / family with the Bulldogs in real life I would have instantly exploded…I couldn’t have handled that when I was 13. I still remember October 27, 1987 when Strike Force stole their WWF tag team titles (the Anvil never submitted!) That was a dark day. Their second title reign wasn’t as much fun because I didn’t buy the Harts as faces. I did enjoy following Bret’s subsequent singles career and although I faded in and out of the wrestling scene for several years, I have since gone back and smartened up on the Hitman’s impact and importance to the WWE during the 90’s. Then there was Montreal…and Owen…and WCW…and Goldberg. Eventually Bret left the business and took a lot of bitterness with him (read his autobiography, it’s a good book but it’s filled with sadness and anger). For me, it was a disappointing end to the Hitman character I had always loved.
So, if handled correctly, this Bret return should have worked. I flipped out when he returned to RAW on January 4th. I thought the next several months promised to be great TV leading up to WrestleMania, and I couldn’t believe we were seeing Bret back in the WWE again…which was great as long as he wasn’t going to “wrestle”. Again, if handled correctly, this should have been a “WrestleMania Moment” right up there with Rock-Hogan, the HBK Ladder Match, and the RUN-DMC WrestleMania Rap (please shoot me). My GOD Bret Hart was back in the WWE!! Well the storyline got convoluted (his “broken” leg, the limo, the match stipulations, etc.) and at WM26 that night, believe me when I tell you the crowd was dead the entire time. Bret vs. Vince certainly didn’t blow the roof off the building. I know this for a fact because I was looking at the roof the whole time praying for the match to end. On the way out of the stadium I asked my friend Zac, dressed in all pink and black, what he thought of the match and he said he was “satisfied…I guess”. You won’t be seeing that quote on WWE.com any time soon. So what went wrong? What was the problem?
We all know Bret is not healthy enough to wrestle. The severity of his injuries have been well documented and we know he can’t take bumps or move smoothly in the ring. So why even give the impression that he could wrestle a legit match (or Street Fight), regardless of the opponent?! A few weeks ago on RAW he even told Vince he was “100%”. Sadly we know this is not true. The storyline’s credibility was sabotaged. I really do believe most people are happy to see Bret back. The WWE is doing great business with new Bret T-shirts, sunglasses, etc. (there are more Hitman things on WWEShop.com than for all the Divas combined…sigh) and there IS a spot for Bret in the business. Let him do some promos and then slide into a GM-type role or anti-McMahon figure. He can help put over the new Hart Dynasty (which thank God he is doing now…yeah Natty!) He seems to be enjoying his time back in the spotlight and I feel very good for him in that regard. He was gracious to everybody at the WM Art Auction and I was thrilled to meet him. His family seemed to love being in Phoenix to share this return with him. But the match itself was slow, plodding, and uninteresting (we knew Bret would win and somebody would get screwed). And by this point we had seen Bret in the ring for several months so some of the novelty had worn off. At the end of it I was just happy that Bret didn’t hurt himself and that Natalya got a spot. That is what “satisfied” me, but I’m not sure that is what the WWE had in mind with their big Hitman payoff. I love ya Bret…but please no more contract signings (or jean shorts). I hope we saw your last sharpshooter on Sunday night March 28, 2010.
Two quick stories before I sign off. When Jamie and I met the “American Dream” at WWE Axxess, the conversation went like this:
Jamie: “Hey man, you should have brought “Sweet and Sour” Sapphire with you!
Dusty: “Ah, she dead.” (without missing a beat)
Jamie: “Really?!?” (dead serious)
Dusty: “Yeah, she dead a long time.”
Me: (shaking head, feeling awkward)
We laugh about it now. Poor Sapphire. I was going to make a polka dot joke but that probably is in bad taste…like polka dots (sorry, couldn’t resist). Lastly, I mentioned in the last column how Jamie and I wrestled as the Twin Towers during our high school talent show. I forgot to mention that during rehearsals the director of the show thought we should bring ketchup packets and drop them while we were coming to the ring, a tongue-in-cheek nod to fake blood. He busted out laughing like he was “in” on the joke. Jamie and I just looked at him and shook our heads. He didn’t get it. We were there to put Hogan over that night, and I was ready to blade if I had to. Some people just don’t understand. And that’s why I enjoy the readers of Diva Dirt, we respect the business. (Cue “Jive Soul Bro” by the Slickster!) “Well I met this lady and I told her quite a story…”
— Mr. Glamazon