THE JOHN REPORT
Raw, Mixed Emotions About Foley, Benoit/Jericho and More!
There are times when the WWF is clicking on all cylinders and this past
Monday's Raw was one of those times. It was one of those shows that had a
lot of good things and very few bad things. They delivered a main event that
was hyped for several weeks, they brought back the great Mick Foley, they
showcased eight of their superb tag teams, they debuted the lovely Trish
Stratus but for yours truly the highlight of the night was seeing Chris
Benoit wrestle Chris Jericho. Overall it was a superb Raw with a super hot
crowd that was on the same level of that magical Dallas crowd in early
February. In today's column I will take a look at Raw and other WWF
happenings but there will be no R&R this week. I have decided to do the R&R
every two or three weeks so you can look for another one of those in the
future. Also, I have not seen Beyond the Mat yet but when I do I may
(although probably not) write about it in a column. Here she blows...
Foley's Return Has Left Me With Mixed Emotions
I am having mixed emotions about the new WrestleMania main event. On one
hand, I think it is great how they added a fourth person to the match but on
the other hand I am sad to see Mick Foley back. Mick went to a lot of
trouble to make everybody believe that he would retire for good. I thought
he would be different from the likes of Hogan, Funk or Piper (who have
combined to retire about 92,176 times) but after only four weeks Mick has
returned. I know that he is not going to be wrestling regularly and I would
be surprised to see him wrestling at the next PPV but why did he go out of
his way to say he was leaving only to return at the next PPV?
I remember his interview on the TSN program Off the Record back in
November. OTR is a Canadian show so I know a lot of you are unfamiliar with
it but OTR is the type of show where all the guests, whether it is Steve
Austin or Vince Carter, speak out truthfully about any subject that OTR's
host Michael Landsberg brings up. When Mick was on the show he said that
when he retired he would not come back like others have because he did not
want to lie to his fans. I would have absolutely no problem with his return
if he said something like "I need to spend time with my family" or "I need
to re-evaluate my career" but to go on TV and radio to say that he would
retire for good has bothered me. I don't think anybody would say no if they
were given a chance to headline an event like WrestleMania but why did they
do the retirement angle in the first place? If he was going to come back all
along why did he say all that stuff about going out with your head held
high? I guess he was just working all of us but I did not think Mick was the
type of person to do such a thing.
I thought he was different, I thought he spoke the truth even when the WWF
cameras were on but I guess I was wrong. I still like Mick Foley, I feel
like I know him better than any other wrestler after reading his book and I
still respect the man for everything he has done but the whole "retirement"
thing has left a sour taste in my mouth. It happens all the time but in the
end the status of such legends are not tarnished. Maybe that is why Shawn
Michaels is my favourite of all time because when Shawn said he was retired
(from the WWF) he meant it (I know Shawn is going to have one more match in
TWA but he is done with the WWF). I guess we'll know more about it in the
coming weeks but for now I am undecided about this whole situation. I am not
mad yet I am not really happy either.
I just read some spoilers of Smackdown and learned that the WrestleMania
main even will supposedly be Mick's last match ever whether he wins or
loses. If he wins then he retires as champion with the WWF holding a World
Title tournament at Backlash. I am bitter because I believed in Mick and I
trusted him but like I said before, once I see him in the ring headlining
WrestleMania I'll cheer him on just like everyone else. Nobody has given
more to this business than Mick Foley and I still respect him as much as any
man that has ever been in the business but I wish he never brought up the
retirement subject until he REALLY meant it. Maybe I am making too big a
deal about this whole thing but I would be more than happy to know what you
all think about it. I think I am overreacting so maybe some of you can talk
some sense into me.
The World Title Situation
I don't know about you but I think a Fatal Four Way Elimination (FFWE) match
is much better than the Triple Threat match we saw on Monday's Raw. I
remember the Unforgiven PPV (September '99) that had six wrestlers in one
match. It was not a match that featured good workers but it turned out to be
pretty good because each wrestler was able to stay fresh throughout the
match. The best Four Way match I have ever seen took place at the February
'97 PPV "Final Four" but I have written about that a lot in the past so I
will just move on. This FFWE match will be bigger than the Unforgiven match
because it is the main event for the biggest PPV, the world title is on the
line and it is the (probable) last match of one of the greatest wrestlers
ever. The chances of it being a great match is pretty high even with average
workers like Rocky and Big Show taking part. I am looking forward to this
match and with the possibility of Steve Austin appearing as guest
commentator I think I will look forward to it even more. It should be a good
match but I will miss the traditional one on one match for the world title
that WrestleMania used to bring us. Oh well, that's what memories are for.
A Future PPV Main Event on Raw
What match am I talking about? Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit of course!
When I read about that match being booked for Raw I was ecstatic because, as
you all know, they are two of my favourite wrestlers with Jericho being
number one. In preparation for this match, I popped in a tape of their match
from Super J Cup '95 (it's a show that took place in Japan) which ended with
a Benoit tombstone off the top rope! The J Cup match was superb and is truly
one of the best matches I have ever seen anywhere. I did not expect the Raw
match to be as good as their epic match from '95 but I was pleased with the
effort of both guys. This three-way feud over the IC and Euro titles has
been fantastic yet I know the best is yet to come. When you put three
wrestlers like Chris Benoit (the best worker alive), Chris Jericho (very
good worker, superb all around) and Kurt Angle (good worker, great
character) in the ring at the same time you have the formula for a really
special match. These three guys will be, along with The Rock and Triple H,
the cornerstone for the WWF for the next five years. In my opinion, the best
match at WrestleMania is this one with everything else playing second
fiddle. Enjoy this feud now because we may never, e-e-e-e-e-ver see a feud
like this a-gayne! (Sorry, I just had to do that!)
Booking the Kane & Rikishi vs. Road Dogg & X-Pac match
I usually avoid fantasy booking but I couldn't resist it in the case of this
upcoming WrestleMania match. This is how I would book their match at 'Mania.
Kane & Rikishi enter the ring first awaiting DX. RD & X-Pac come down
accompanied by Tori and Major League Baseball's all time leader in Hits,
Pete Rose! Pete comes down wearing a DX shirt doing crotch chops while the
camera pans over to several fans carrying a "Pete Rose = Hall of Famer"
sign. Also in the crowd is MLB commissioner Bud Selig who conveniently has
front row tickets.
Before the match starts Pete gets on the mic and says that he is there to
get revenge on Kane for tombstoning him during the last two WrestleMania's.
After about ten minutes in, DX is in control sending Rikishi to the outside
while beating Kane in the corner. Kane is set up in the Bronco Buster
position as X-Pac charges in on him but Rose jumps on the apron telling
X-Pac to let HIM deliver the Bronco Buster. Rose heads into the ring, the
ref is outside dealing with the fallen Rikishi who is now being stomped on
by Road Dogg, charges into the corner but is stopped by Kane. The crowd
erupts as Kane is set to chokeslam Rose but the Big Red Machine is clipped
in the knee by X-Pac. X-Pac goes for the X-Factor and the pin but Rikishi
manages makes the save. After giving a belly to belly suplex to Road Dogg,
Rikishi delivers a superkick to X-Pac sending him crashing to the mat in the
corner. Kane and Road Dogg fight on the outside as the ref looks over at
them instead of the action in the ring. Rikishi sets X-Pac up for the
Rikishi Drop but just before he is set to come down Rose cracks him in the
head with a baseball bat. Rose yells out "HOMERUN!" as Rikishi crumbles to
the mat. X-Pac covers Rikishi, puts his foot (the classic heel move) on the
ropes and gets the victory. X-Pac leaves the ring as Pete laughs at Rikishi
as the crowd boos the former Reds star mercifully.
As Pete leaves the ring he has words with commissioner Selig giving Kane
enough time to get up and throw Rose back in the ring. Without hesitating
Kane delivers a tombstone to Rose for the third straight year as Rikishi
comes to his senses in the other corner. Kane drags Rose's carcass over to
the corner, pointing to Rikishi leading to Rikishi delivering the Rikishi
Drop onto Rose. The camera focuses in on Selig as the commissioner applauds
the efforts of Rikishi and Kane. The crowd pops huge as Rose lays on the mat
motionless just like he has done for the past two years. The heels win the
match but the faces win the war giving the people what they want.
That is how I would book the match. Let me know what you thought about it
via email and I may consider doing some fantasy booking in the future.
I am sure it confused a few of you who may not follow baseball (Go Blue
Jays!). For those that don't follow baseball here's a quick rundown. The
story is that Pete Rose was caught betting on baseball while he was manager
of the Cincinnati Reds in 1989 (I think it was '89 but that is not
important). Ever since he was caught gambling he has been banned from
baseball (by the commissioner at the time) yet he has done everything in his
power to be a part of the game again. Because of this banishment, Rose is
not allowed in the Hall of Fame even though he is baseball's all-time leader
in hits and clearly has the statistical figures to warrant a spot in the
Hall. Commissioner Selig has said on numerous occasions that he will not
reinstate Rose under any circumstances. This issue will probably never go
away and if the WWF is smart they could make an angle out of this if Selig
and Rose are willing to participate. Getting Selig and Rose to work
cooperatively is almost like asking the WWF to do a joint PPV with another
promotion so I wouldn't count on such a thing happening. However, I do think
it would work perfectly.
Other WWF Thoughts I really liked all of the tag team matches and the whole #1 contenders
tourney even though that sort of thing has been done a lot. The WWF has
eight good (three of them are excellent) tag teams right now and they did an
excellent job of showcasing them on Raw. It is so much better than seeing
teams like The Rock & Sock Connection or Undertaker & Big Show because these
are ACTUAL teams who actually give a damn about the tag titles. Apparently
the WrestleMania match will be The Dudleys vs. Hardys vs. Edge/Christian in
a Ladder match for the tag titles. That should be sweet, I just hope they
find a spot for Headcheese on the card too because Snow and Blackman deserve
to be there.
People complain about too many McMahon's being on TV and while that may be
true the good thing is they are no longer wrestling. Pairing Shane with The
Big Show is a good move because now TBS no longer has a chance to bore us to
death on the mic. Shane is good on the mic so by having Shane with TBS it
will make TBS become a better heel.
I am really excited about Smackdown and Heat this week because two of my
favourite wrestlers are back. Eddy Guerrero is making his return to the ring
on Smackdown and TAKA Michinoku is also back (he's actually on Jakked/Metal
too) from the injury he suffered at the Royal Rumble. The WWF has four of
the best workers alive with Guerrero, Benoit, Malenko and Michinoku to go
along with some other very good workers like Saturn, X-Pac, Jericho, Esse
Rios, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Edge, Christian, Scott Taylor and several
more. Oh yeah, you can toss the returning Steve Austin into that list too.
Damn, they are hot right now! No wonder I am so happy to be a wrestling fan
right now. Never before has such a roster been put together so enjoy it
while you can cause if history has taught us anything it is that injuries
happen so enjoy it now before it's too late.
Why did I like Raw so much? The Bossman was on for about one minute, the
Godfather got his ass kicked, there was no Mark Henry, there was no Mae
Young and now that Billy Gunn is hurt we don't have to see his annoying ass
too. I haven't heard much about Bull Buchanan but he did more moves in that
one minute run in than the Bossman has done in his career. Believe me, when
the crap is kept to a minimum the show tends to be great and that was
definitely the case on Monday night.
I think the WWF did a tremendous job introducing Trish Stratus as they
also formed a new tag team that has a lot of potential. Obviously Trish is
beautiful and will get all the attention but Test and Albert are talented
big men. This team can be very successful but it's a shame that everybody's
attention (including mine) will be on Trish's body. The problem with Test
and Albert is not their talent; it is their lack of charisma and ability to
tell a story. With Trish getting a lot of the attention I think they can
build off of that and people may start to care about them.
Anything can happen in the WWF! I think that is obvious after reading
reports of two girls taking off their tops and making out in the crowd. That
is the reason why the crowd chanted "Asshole" during the Acolytes match; it
was for the security guards that stopped the lesbo love session. Moments
like that make me wish I were a security guard because that sort of thing
does not happen in an accounting firm. Hmmmmm, maybe I am in the wrong firm?
My friend Caryn Mower (learn to spell it right people!) emailed me last
week to tell me that her character has a name but she wanted to confirm it
before letting everybody know. If you don't already know, Caryn is the one
that runs out during breaks in the Smackdown tapings telling everybody to
get in shape. She told me that the WWF is happy with what she has done so
far. She hopes to be on TV soon but nothing is planned yet. Her website will
be up soon and once I learn more from her I will pass it along to you too.
I am sorry that I didn't get to talk about Uncensored but I have not watched
the tape of the event yet so there is nothing for me to talk about. I doubt
that I will have a Raw based column next week due to the fact that I will
have the WrestleMania preview to work on anyway. This weekend I will do
another match in the "Greatest Matches" series and next week I will be back
for the World's Greatest WrestleMania Preview with my buddy drqshadow. I am
really excited about 'Mania in less than two weeks. I had planned on doing a
retrospective look at the history of the event but time is not on my side so
maybe I could do that another time. Have a great week and remember to pay
your accountant accordingly!
Smell ya later,
Mail John C.
Visit Big3 Oratory