Sunday, September 19, 2021

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Mr. Glamazon’s Hitting the Ropes (Issue #23) – I Can Handle the Truth

If you listen to Diva Dirt LIVE, you know that I get fired almost every week.  I really do try my best but inevitably I screw something up – either by calling someone the wrong name, or messing up the switchboard, or making some lame joke that not even my co-hosts will sell.  Whatever the reason I always find myself on shaky ground, which stinks because I really do love hosting the show.  Interacting with the callers and special guests is a lot of fun and if I can learn something about the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” along the way, all the better!  Fortunately for me Melanie usually has a change of heart during the week and lets me keep my job, so basically I’m working on a series of 1-week contracts (although what Melanie doesn’t know is that I’m kind of like a stray cat…feed me once and I’m hard to get rid of.)  So I never know how long this gig will last, but Diva Dirt LIVE has been on the air since June 2010 and I’m extremely proud of that.

Now, if there ever WAS a reason for Melanie to fire me it was during this past Royal Rumble in Boston (and no, I’m not talking about the plaid shirt I wore.)  I admit, I dropped the ball…big time.  See the WWE sold t-shirts at the event that advertised the Divas Championship as a fatal 4-way match, which is fine except no one was supposed to know that before the “anonymous general manager” changed the match at the last minute.  As Natalya was all set to defend her Divas title vs. Lay-Cool in a handicap match, Michael Cole received an email essentially adding a fourth competitor.

Of course I would have already known that had I just read the back of my son’s t-shirt.  UGH!

Initially my heart skipped a beat.  “Oh my God, Beth Phoenix is going to win the Divas title tonight” I said out loud, or “shouted” out loud if you ask Kofi Kingston’s dad who was sitting right in front of me.  Turns out our seats were in the “WWE family” section.  Before the show Mr. Kingston asked me, “Who are you here with?”  I should have just made up something, like “The McMahons, of course”, he might have been impressed.  Instead I froze and said, “Ummm, we’re just fans”.  (Insert awkward pause)  Glad those Toastmasters classes are paying off!

Sadly Beth was not the surprise entrant in the match.  Eve was announced as the fourth Diva, and as you know, she went on to capture the championship.  I felt good for Eve and in general I liked the match.  I always enjoy Layla and Michelle, and although my son was sad Natalya lost, we both cheered when Eve hit her magnificent moonsault off the top rope (just breathtaking in person).  Maybe the best part of the match?  Eve was featured for her considerable wrestling skills.  No silly dancing.  Just good solid action in the ring.  I’ve wanted the WWE to showcase Eve like this for a long time so I’m excited to see where she goes from her.

Of course it wasn’t even 2 minutes after the Divas match was over that I saw something fishy on my son’s Royal Rumble t-shirt.  What?!  The shirt actually SAYS Eve is going to be in the Divas match?!  I thought it was meant to be a surprise!  And I missed that beforehand??  I know I’m oblivious to most of the world around me but, damn, I’m supposed to scoop things like this.  A simple photo and quick email to Melanie and Diva Dirt would have had a great exclusive well before the actual match.  Ugh!  Ugh!  Ugh!  I have to admit I thought about keeping this news to myself, basically not telling anyone about the t-shirt and hoping no one at the show broke the news later.  If they did I would just claim that my attention was diverted the whole time because my son was being a pest (which is about 31% true…I’m pretty sure Momma Kingston went home with his footprints all over her jacket.  Just shoot me.)

I was also afraid to tell Melanie because I thought; “Now she really will fire me!”

Let’s just move on before she thinks about this anymore.  I’ve been working for Diva Dirt since December 2009.  First as an audio contributor and now as a columnist.  In my time with the site I’ve received more feedback from the readers about Eve and Kelly Kelly than any of the other women combined.  This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve been hard on them as performers (again, let’s leave all personal feelings aside…although I did meet Eve several years ago in Houston and she is radiant.  Why someone isn’t casting her in a new Wonder Woman movie is one of today’s biggest mysteries).  With Kelly I’ve been hard on her wrestling skills and bland personality (however I’ve retracted my comments to a degree because I think she has improved and I like her a lot more now that the WWE has allowed her to show more personality.  She is shining on SmackDown right now.  Good for her!)

With Eve it was always about the character.  I love that she is tall, athletic, and strong and I think she flows well in the ring.  I like her move set.  I like her emotion.  I buy her as a competitor even though the WWE often handcuffs their babyfaces with vanilla material.  When given the chance she can work a great match and cut a very strong, very emotional promo (calling Miz a “frog-faced loser” was hilarious.  “Really?!  REALLY?!?”  Yes!)  I also remember several of her backstage segments with Cryme Tyme that came across very well.  I don’t always love her ring gear because sometimes it looks like she came right from her American Gladiators audition, but compared to some she usually gets it right. (Sorry Tamina.) Her top-rope moonsault is my favorite “non-Glam Slam” move in the division (although Gail’s finisher would be my favorite if she, you know, called it something else…have I mentioned that before?)

So to recap: I think Eve is beautiful, a good worker, and a solid interview.  I’m proud to own her SummerSlam cup and every now and again I crank her theme song on my iPod – ”She looks good to me, she’s got everything I want, she’s got everything I need!”  Basically I think she should be one of the focal points of the Divas division for the next several years.

And that’s what frustrates me – I just don’t understand how the WWE has used her to this point.

There have been some good moments in the ring with Natalya, Layla, and Michelle McCool, but like most of the girls Eve often finds herself muddled in short (i.e. meaningless) 6-Diva tag team matches.  I was happy she won the Divas championship in April 2010 (even though she did have to win a “Dress to Impress” battle royal to become the #1 contender) but her time with the belt was short and uneventful.  I was disappointed they took the title off of her so soon.  I think champions need time to breathe and settle into their new role, which also allows challengers to grow into interesting title contenders.  This didn’t happen for Eve (NOTE – I had a similar reaction when Alicia Fox lost the Divas title this past summer…why so soon?)

More disappointing though has been her association with some of the male superstars on the roster.  Hanging out with Cryme Tyme kind of worked for me.  I liked their backstage sketches and Eve was dressing in an edgier, cooler wardrobe.  But this partnership ended when Eve got drafted to Raw, a bad move in my opinion.  Her friendship / relationship with Chris Masters seemed completely random and never felt right to me.  Then she started…umm…chillin’ with R-Truth, which again seemed random and didn’t raise her profile at all.  In fact, every time Eve came to the ring doing the “crunk” or “buck” or “cronk” or whatever that style of dancing is called, I felt myself getting physically ill.  It was brutal.

I expressed my displeasure on this topic many, many times on the “Post Raw Show” and “Diva Dirt Live”.  “Why?  Why are they asking her to do this?  Why?  It’s terrible!”  Here is where Eve fans jumped all over me.  Let me summarize the wide variety of comments, emails, and tweets I received on this topic: “David, let it go.  Enough with the dancing jokes.  We know you don’t like Eve!  We know you don’t like crunking.  She can dance you idiot, she was a professional dancer before becoming a Diva!  Sorry she isn’t your precious Beth Phoenix.  GET OVER IT!”

I’ve already clearly stated I do really like Eve.  So enough with that.  But that’s not the whole picture.  I’m telling you if Vince asked Beth to crunk on her way to the ring I would write him a letter every day begging him to stop.  Maybe even twice a day.  I would lose sleep over this.  I don’t think this style of dancing would work for anyone.  In professional wrestling I don’t think many individuals can pull off stylized dance moves unless they are playing them off as a joke or are super, super talented in that one area.  And really, very few styles of dance look good when performed as solos (don’t believe me, ask Rosa Mendes, who is probably a fantastic Latin dancer…when she is partying in Miami!  But not when she is center ring getting ready for a match vs. Michelle McCool.)

“What would you know about dancing anyway, David, you’re an old white guy.”  (This last comment was submitted by Cryssi, with perhaps some stronger language.)  Well, that’s the thing…I actually DO know something about dancing.  My mom has been a professional dancer / choreographer her entire adult life, so I’ve been educated on many styles of dance and I’ve seen many Broadway musicals.  I know enough about this topic to be dangerous.  Can Eve dance?  OF COURSE she can! I know she was a pro dancer for the LA Clippers (insert joke here that Eve could’ve also played for the Clippers…God they’re a star-crossed franchise.)  I seriously doubt, though, the Clipper girls were crunking to get the crowd fired up before a big game.  An even if they were, they perform as a dance TEAM!  (Tap dancing is another good example of what I’m talking about – when it’s done solo it quickly gets repetitive and boring.  When a group of people are tapping is can be electric.  If you’ve seen “42nd Street” you know what I am talking about.)

This is where Eve becomes a shining example of my “Tom Cruise Theory”.  (Yes!  Less than 2 months into 2011 and I’m ready to bust out another theory!  Thank you, thank you everybody.  I told you the higher learning here would never end…) See, I love Tom Cruise as an actor.  I grew up watching his movies and some of them are in my pantheon of great films: Top Gun, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, and Cocktail are all favorites of mine.  His finest work in my opinion is A Few Good Men, which is one of my top-5 favorite movies ever because it features my favorite scene of all time (the courtroom scene when Jack Nickelson yells “You can’t handle the truth”), and my favorite movie line of all time (when Cruise tells Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson “You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor.”)  CHILLS!!!  So, yeah, basically I like it…

But you know what I don’t like?  Eyes Wide Shut.  Far and Away.  Days of Thunder.  Or Tom jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch.  And I don’t understand anything about this scientologist stuff.  But that’s OK.  I like most of what he’s done.  I’m a fan, but I don’t need to like EVERYTHING about him, right?  It would seem insincere if I did.  (Is that what they call a “blind mark”?  Look at me busting out the derogatory wrestling terms!  Now I feel like a true fan…)

Tom is certainly not the only celebrity I like who has made a few mistakes.  I have been inspired by Madonna my whole life but man some of her movies are God awful.  I loved Evita and A League of Their Own, but have you seen Shanghai Surprise?  It makes The Chaperone look like an Oscar contender (and I think that movie looks so bad I can’t believe I’m not in it.)  I loved Warren Beatty in Bugsy but I couldn’t watch 10 minutes of Bullworth.  My point is, all actors and singers have screwed up at some point – it’s almost impossible to like EVERYTHING about someone or EVERY project they have done.  Same goes for athletes, politicians, and (let’s be honest) friends and family members.

That’s why Eve exemplifies my “Tom Cruise Theory”.  There’s a great deal I like about her.  I think her future is very bright.  But I don’t feel bad (or hypocritical) for criticizing her dance segments because when the WWE writes poor material we should voice our displeasure.  We should always have high standards and not accept mediocre programming.  Similarly, we should cheer when the writing is strong (like we are seeing right now with Kelly Kelly on Smackdown).

I think for Eve to reach her full potential the WWE needs to let her shine during this title run, her second chance now with the Divas championship.  I don’t know exactly what that means in terms of actual victories.  I don’t know exactly how long she needs to hold the belt to gain traction with the fans.  But I do know one thing, lately Eve hasn’t been paired with R-Truth and I have enjoyed her work so much more.  No silly dancing.  Just good solid action in the ring.

I believe Eve will continue to get better and better if given the right material.  That’s all I’ve wanted from the WWE writers all along and that’s why I’ve been critical of these dance segments in the past.  Hopefully they will continue down this path and she can become a stellar Divas champion (although I’m still bitter Beth wasn’t the fourth girl in that match).  So just give me Eve as she is…a girl I can support as champion based on her skills as a professional wrestler – not as a dancer, or whatever she and R-Truth were doing.  Over time I will forget her crunking to the ring and I’ll just remember the flawless moonsault that pinned Layla at the 2010 Royal Rumble (much in the same way I forget about The Last Samurai when I’m watching Risky Business, another Cruise classic!)

On our way out of the TD Banknorth Garden my son was pretty disappointed that Natalya lost her title.  He genuinely felt badly for her.  I tried to lift his spirits and said, “I know you’re sad, but at least we saw a new Divas champion crowned tonight!”

He thought about that for a minute and then said, “Yeah, I like Eve…and wow, that move in the corner was cool!”

He started to smile.  Then we gave each other a big “high 5” – kind of like Goose and Maverick – as we celebrated the Divas new Top Gun…Eve Torres.

— Mr. Glamazon

PS – I think it’s cool Eve graduated with honors from USC because that was Taylor Wilde’s recent advice to young girls who want to be pro wrestlers – get an education so you have something to fall back on.

PPS – Make sure you check out Taylor Wilde’s last match vs. Alissa Flash, now available on ClickWrestle.com.  It was an honor for me to be a part of the event and both girls put on a great show!

PPPS – Follow me on Twitter @dlb19338 and send your mailbag questions to [email protected]. The next Reader Redux question: “How would you define Trish Stratus’s legacy?”

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