Greetings everyone, and first off thank you for reading my column. As a new columnist for WrestleView.com, I want to thank a few people before I begin. I want to first off thank the great people that are on this website, especially Hunter, Paul, and Adam for welcoming me to their team in December of 2008. Out of the hundreds of applications they received for the positions, I was shocked and surprised that my sample on the History of Pro Wrestling in Pittsburgh would be a winner, and I am glad it was. I will try to make all of you proud each week. I also want to thank my friend Travis Thomas for introducing me to this website about a year and a half ago. I want to thank my Anthony DeBlasi from the Don Tony and Kevin Castle Show for the help he has done for me and for plugging my column on his show recently. Thanks to my friends and family for letting me do what I have wanted to do for at least a few years, and that was to have a weekly column on a popular website.
Now, for what my column will be all about… I’m looking to lay out some ‘rules’ for Pro Wrestling, but looking at the do’s and don’ts over the course of the year. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll have something to look back on the year and what we’ve learned from it. Thanks large in part to the influx of strong TV wrestling lately, I will be featuring the weekly ?honor roll?, which will be the matches I really enjoyed on TV from the three WWE shows (RAW, Smackdown!, and ECW) and TNA (Impact!).
My favorite part of this column, however, will be my weekly ?Report Card? for the TV commentators of pro wrestling. Wrestling announcers play an important, yet frequently overlooked role in wrestling. I believe it is time to shed some light on it, catching the lame announcing, and at times, praise it as well.
So with that, time to take your seats, class!
Rule #1: If you want to be a super heel in a company, don?t look like a fool the next week.
I was one of many that believed Randy Orton was about to reach new heights with knocking out Vince McMahon, going face to face with the RAW authority figure, and winning in the event that, I believe, is the next best event a wrestler can win after the any main event in Wrestlemania. Pre-Royal Rumble, I enjoyed the Randy Orton push and I predicted a Royal Rumble win for him weeks before he punted Vince into Mars. So, what do the WWE provide us with the next week you ask? Randy getting ?punked out? by none other than Shane-O-Mac, a 41 year old, grey in the hair non-wrestler. Gosh, I don’t know if i’ve ever seen a more disappointing finish to RAW in quite some time because of this, and I hope that someway, somehow, they can rebuild that aura Orton had for the weeks leading up. In my opinion, there’s a huge void for a top-notch heel in the WWE. I hope this can be turned around.
For some reason, I’ve got a feeling that Shane is going to end up as part of the Legacy, but I could be wrong. I mean seriously, Shane McMahon (yes, the leader of the Mean Street Posse) knocking out Randy Orton??? What is going to be next, Pete Gas is going to super kick Cody Rhodes? Let’s just hope that good will all come to this storyline, the fans deserve that much I guess.
Rule #2: One should never offer a job to anyone, and I mean ANYONE who either got suspended from the NFL, or just lost a job in the political office.
My students, when I first saw this posted on wrestleview.com and on TNA’s (that is right, look it up) websites, I thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it is all true, and it is, dare I say it, flat out embarrassing. First it was Pac Man Jones(who they awarded him with some Tag Team gold), and now impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is offered a job. The report was titled ?TNA offers Rod Blagojevich a job?. My gosh, is TNA really that stupid?
See, I’m really trying to not be a guy whose going to come on here and just dump on TNA, because everyone seemingly does enough of it already. Heck, I even LIKE a few things about TNA, don?t get me wrong, but this pandering to society’s biggest losers for cheap publicity is appalling.
Honest to god. I want to take TNA and the Main Event Mafia seriously. I really do! But taking these guys, who we’re supposed to buy as the elite talents in the wrestling world and throwing out angles like inviting Governor Blagojevich to join them, goes beyond ‘awesomely ridiculous’ and treads into ‘stupid’. TNA fans, I feel sorry for you. And where the F___K is Christoper Daniels!?
There will be more Classroom Rules next week.
As of now, I am issuing out demerits. Yes ‘demerits’…. to Monday Night Raw and TNA Impact!. Monday Night Raw gets one demerit point for the Randy Orton deal and TNA gets two demerit points for this latest debacle.
Mister V.’s Honor Roll from January 1 ? 30, 2009
I only use the matches from Raw, Smackdown, ECW, and Impact to determine my honor roll. Everyone always chatters non-stop about the pay per view matches, but this is a TV MATCHES ONLY~ shtick, so only grades going in the ‘gradebook’ are for TV matches that I use to fry my bountiful brain every week.
Distinguished Honors ? Friday Night Smackdown’s match between Shelton Benjamin and Undertaker on January 9, 2009.
What can I say about this match? Shelton may have lost this match, but it was absolutely brilliant for a TV match. Shelton has been underrated for quite sometime considering the fact that since he’s been a heel, he’s really grounded his stuff… but this match was a thing of beauty. Both wrestlers never botched a move, showed great technical skill in the ring, focused on the gameplan and took this match to a whole new level. Seems weird that this would be a no-brainer for a good pairing, and so far, its my favorite TV match of 2009.
High Honors ? Friday Night Smackdown’s match between Shelton Benjamin and Undertaker on January 23, 2009.
This is not a re-test, I just graded these two matches higher than all the other matches for this month. I think this ends a nice brief feud and really showed the skills of these two wrestlers before the Royal Rumble this past Sunday. I know the Undertaker is in the main event for No Way Out, but will Shelton find a way to be in the Chamber? We don?t know at this point, but I’d really like to see him in there, as I think he’d be a great compliment to the guys already there, and hey, he’s had two really great matches heading in, why not give him a reward for the hard work.
Honor Roll ? Monday Night Raw’s IC Title Match between CM Punk and William Regal on January 19, 2009.
The matches between these two wrestlers for the two weeks prior to this IC Title match part three were very uneventful. Stiff, nothing bad, but just rather uneventful and not particularly noteworthy. I wondered why CM Punk was not the IC winner after he won the tournament, but looks like they wanted to burn it a bit, which is fine. My answer came when I found out that the January 19th RAW was hosted in Chicago and then like most, I felt a dunce cap moment coming on. I don?t need to tell anyone who is from Chicago in this match and if I have to, please find a nearby chalkboard, place a circle on that chalkboard, and place your nose directly in the middle of that chalkboard until Wrestlemania 25. Then getthef—outofmyclassroom NOW~
The conclusion was a brilliant no DQ match for Regal’s title. The match was great and showed solid execution for all but one move in which CM Punk took a huge bump towards the head and neck area in the middle of that match. However, no one can argue that Regal is among the best mat wrestlers in the business and I thought was deserving of a brief IC reign. Guy is a master of a five minute match, so any Regal is good Regal basically. They were able to make the belt seem a little more important which is fun, and who doesn’t love the home town guy getting the big win in front of the hot crowd.
Honorable Mention matches: Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena on 1/12, Jack Swagger vs. Finlay on 1/06, Swagger vs. Matt Hardy for ECW Title on 1/13, Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles Table Match on 1/22, and Kurt Angle vs. LAX Handicap Match on 1/29.
Worst Match of the Month: TNA Impact’s match between the TNA referres and Booker T on Jaunuary 27, 2009
This is another reason why we can?t take the Main Event Mafia seriously at this time. The only thing that could have made this worse is if Don West was doing color commentary on this match. Oh wait. We heard this week that Booker T is not happy with the creative team in TNA, and I think conceivably this is the reason why.
Dishonorable Mention: Any match involving Cryme Tyme in January, Big Show vs. Festus on 1-30, any Boogeyman vs. Jobbers matches in the month of January, the lack of TNA X Division matches this month, and any Great Khali match during the month of January.
TV BATTLE WAR~
I will also be grading each show based on overall wrestling and storylines. The best show of the week (again RAW, Smackdown, ECW, and Impact) will receive two points and the second best will receive one point. The other two shows get nothing. By the end of 2009, this classroom will finally find out what is the best show of the year. Starting in February, I also would like your feedback in this column, so in a fan vote, you can also tell me what was the best wrestling show by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best show by your votes will be one point. Again, this will be weekly, but in this column, I will do it for the entire month of January:
Week of January 5 ? 9, 2009:
Best Show: Friday Night Smackdown (2 points)
Runner-Up: ECW (1 point)
Week of January 12 – 16, 2009:
Best Show: Friday Night Smackdown (2 points)
Runner-Up: Monday Night Raw (1 point)
Week of January 19 ? 23, 2009:
Best Show: Monday Night Raw (2 points)
Runner-Up: Friday Night Smackdown (1 point)
Week of January 26 ? 30, 2009:
Best Show: Monday Night Raw (2 points)
Runner-Up: Friday Night Smackdown (1 point)
Best Show of 2009:
1)Friday Night Smackdown (6 points)
2)Monday Night Raw (5 points)
3)ECW (1 point)
4)TNA Impact! (0 points)
COMMENTATOR REPORT CARD
I think it is time to grade these announcers for a reason. I usually give out good grades to the announcers who:
1)If doing play by play: One must be skilled in clearly and concisely calling the action, showing emotional fluctuations and illustrating the non-verbal aspects of the match.
2)If on color commentary: One must keep the viewer interested in the action by giving then, uh, color. Amplifying what the play by play announcer is saying, re-inforcing and challenging the viewer to take a closer look.
With this column, I will give out the overall average for the month of January. Starting in February, I will do this weekly, and also give out the overall grade for each announcer.
Monday Night Raw
Michael Cole: D+
Jerry ?The King? Lawler: F
Analysis: Michael Cole reminds me of that kid in elementary school that always tattled on you for bullying him around. Just something about him. He plugs the WWE shows all the time and, while he does that during a match (of course), and that’s a necessary evil and all, HE’S JUST SO ANNOYING!. I still wonder why he has a job after all these years. He rarely calls a match showing emotion (like Joe Buck calling NFL games or JR doing Smackdown smack talkin’) and he lacks clarity in calling a match. I gave him a C+ the first week of January, but his commentary flat out stinks as of late.
As for Jerry Lawler, one thing has irritated me since he came back to the WWE after taking a woman ahead of his job. He always and I mean always, cat calls the divas in that same annoying pre-adolescent punks I occasionally see in classrooms. His entertainment value sunk faster than the stock market, as he recycles his antics all the time. It was funny the first few years in the pre-XFL days, but now it is 2009, and he has been saying the same lines for over a decade now. An assignment that I would love to see someone do during a live taping is to have a sign that says ?Fire Lawler? or ?King needs fresh material?. It was bad enough then, now he’s got a PG rating to work with and now what’s he got? Those are a couple reasons why I have failed him a couple times this past month.
Todd Grishham: B
Matt Striker: A
Analysis: I will for once say that Matt Striker is, like I am, a certified teacher in these United States. Mr. Striker from New York, Mr. V from Pennsylvania (if PA schools are hiring, let me know, Thanks). I will grade him as the same as any other. However, I can not find one blemish on Matt Striker’s color commentary skills this month. Dare I say, they are perfect! His jokes on Grisham are spot on (the clean-and-jerk joke to him on 1/27 was hilarious). He even makes an average match worth watching because of his attention to detail. He does exactly what he should do, and that is to keep the viewer entertained. He is already a leading candidate for Announcer of the Year in my book.
As for Grisham, he was awful in the past. However, with Striker, he can do no wrong. Shows you how important a good partner can be. He calls the match precisely and with fluency. He show a good bit of emotion in calling a match. I got nothing wrong to say about these two announcers at this time, and I hope not at all this year. Note to WWE: in the 2009 WWE draft, put these two on RAW and see your ratings go above a four. Bank on that one if it happens. People really underestimate the value of the verbal communication in the overall presentation of a show.
Friday Night Smackdown:
Jim Ross: A-
Analysis: There was nothing wrong this month with the play by play for Jim Ross. The only reason why he go the ?minus? next to his A was because on the 1/30 version of Smackdown, he just did not have his usual ?A? game. Perhaps it was the last two matches of the night, but overall, JR continues to be the best play by play man in the business, if not of all time.
Tazz is like a mixed bag to me. There are weeks where he is spot on, and probably working with JR helps massively, I mean JR turns Lawler’s crap into diamonds at times. Tazz has improved greatly since he started doing it, and he does better each week with the best in the business. I graded him high a couple weeks because he did keep me entertained, but there were a couple bad scores because he occasionally loses his train of thought. However, it is nice to see a slow and better showing from the man known in ECW as ?The Human Suplex Machine?. By the way, if you are new to the wrestling scene, I suggest you watch some of Tazz’s matches from ECW, he’s one of the best ‘bada__’ guys, ever.
?Iron? Mike Tenay: C-
?Dunce Cap? Don West: F
Analysis: Mike Tenay, I hope you are reading this . Please, PLEASE go back to your old school WCW days. I was thoroughly entertained by your insight on the moves and the backgrounds of the wrestlers that you called back in the 90s. TNA is holding you back now. Don West is DEFINITELY holding you back in your play-by-play. And if WWE one day fires Michael Cole, please send a resume. I am sure you will call a match better than Cole ever will. Now that I am done talking to Mr. Tenay, I will say he had one good week (one in which I scored a B+), but since that day that I would so kind, he was just blah, but not abysmal. He has the enthusiasm, but shows WAY TOO MUCH enthusiasm. If he tones it down a few decibels, I am sure his grade will be higher.
Now speaking of abysmal, if ?Malodorous? Mike Adamle did not show up to take the Wrestling Observer Worst Announcer of the year in 2008, Don West would build a dynasty. Don West is so bad right now that the Wrestling Observer should just change the name of that award in his honor. Don West is so bad right now that I actually gave him an Incomplete one week for his constant annoyance and lack of intelligence in the wrestling field. I think honestly that a color commentator in professional wrestling, and what experience did Don West have to really get this gig. In my opinion, even though I failed Jerry Lawler this month, Lawler is even 10 times better than this embarrassment. Note to TNA: If you want to consistently have a solid 1.5 rating, fire Don West and replace him with someone that can actually entertain the viewing audience, say B.G. James?
??.and for the heck of it (because we teachers have a unique sense of humor)?.
BLACK SNOW and and others!- Grade: C
Honestly, I did laugh a few times with their commentary. And quite frankly, I would rather take either one over Don West. On a lighter note, I am glad to see Mr. Lemon is doing well now after his solid career with the White Sox and Tigers. Anyways, Booker T was good at times, and Kevin Nash was just what a color commentator should do, talk only when he is required to talk.
Like it, Hate it, have a wrestling question for me, or just want to e-mail things about wrestling, let me see it. The e-mail address is email@example.com. Thank you for reading my column. Go ahead, have a gold star for reading this long piece. Until the next column comes out, enjoy your week. You are all?.Dismissed.