Hidden Highlights 08.27.06: Issue #52 (Part 2 of 2) [REPOST]
That Other Section, Part 1
That Other Section is an idea, a free forum where we get to explore the other bits of positivity in the universe. Sometimes, though, it might not exist at all. Hey, if we don’t have anything to talk about, why force it?
This week, JT has something for That Other Section, Part 1.
JT: This week’s issue is Hidden Highlights first birthday, and well, we didn’t have money for cake and birthday card seemed a bit much, so I figured do something else! I wanted to take a look back at our first issue and see exactly how much we’ve grown over the last year. Kind like looking at your freshman year picture as a senior; “oh my God, I actually wore my hair like that?”. Or even more as it pertains to writing, pulling out your best friends yearbook five years later and seeing what you wrote in it. I know I’ve read some where not only did I think, “my goodness, I can’t believe I wrote that!”, but also, “man, those were good times”. So, while this isn’t necessarily a trip down nostalgia lane, I figured what the heck, let’s bust it out. SO, for those of who may have joined us halfway through our Hidden Highlights journey, we present the first official issue of Hidden Highlights (don’t worry, it was only six pages!)
**NOTE**: As you can see, the entire article is in italics. If it’s bold & italics, that means it’s the original. If it’s bold and not in italics (and seemingly separate), it is a comment I’m making in this week’s issue regarding the first issue which you’re now reading. Got that?</b>
JT: Too bad! Because here it is…
By JP Prag and James “JT” Thomlison
Hello Sunday morning, and welcome to the premier issue of Hidden Highlights!
Hidden Highlights is designed to look at the wrestling we watch each and every week and point out all of those understated things that go into making the shows great. This could be anything from a wrestler making a facial expression to an announcer talking about the history of a belt to the production guy timing fireworks just right. There are just so many unsung heroes of wrestling that it is impossible to cover them all. So every week we will take the top 3 Hidden Highlights from the top 3 wrestling shows on television (and maybe a PPV if we aren’t being cheap).
Who are we? Well, I’m the One and Only JP, and you might recognize me better as the ultimate defender of the truth for In Defense Of…! My cohort in crime is the venerable and often underappreciated Byte This! Recapper James “JT” Thomlison! Together we are the most positive duo to ever step foot in the IWC… if stepping foot into an imagery realm made up of a mass network of computers and people sitting in their mom’s basement were possible.
Still, we bring you Hidden Highlights with one goal in mind: to appreciate all those subtle bits that make a huge difference. JT?
JT: Thank you, JP. First off, I’m putting the whole year on DVD, which means I order every Pay Per View. So if you need to be cheap for a month, I got your back.
Set myself up for doom from the start!
I’m just excited I get to be put somewhere other than TV Reports. Although, considering ByteThis! isn’t even a TV show, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. And, I’m working ‘til 11 p.m. on LABOR Day. What the hell. JP?
Damn it JT, I thought I explained how you are just a slave in all of this. Besides we have a whole week to cover here!
He didn’t even call himself JP yet! He just talked like he ran things and I was a guest!
Of course, before in engaging in the Hidden Highlights, be sure to read:
JT’s WWE Byte This! Report starring the guy I love more than anybody (yes, sarcasm), Chris Masters, who spent the whole time loving and hating HBK all at the same time. Plus, I was stupid enough to post a picture in my column which requires readers to not only scroll up and down, but left and right (I hate that!). I guess I thought a ByteThis! recap wasn’t bad enough.
JP’s In Defense Of… Goldberg (Part 3 of 3)! So good that I have a topic dedicated to it over at the Goldberg message board!
Now, on with the Hidden Highlights!
Hidden Highlights for TNA Impact: Saturday… ummm… Nobody yet
This space will remain empty until TNA Impact premiers on Spike TV. We only watch real TV. Sorry! Meanwhile, we’ll give you a TNA tidbit to hold you over. JT?
Why does everyone pick on the WWE when talking about ROH and TNA? All I hear from marks of those companies (and not fans… I’m talking die hard marks) is “TNA is better than WWE” or “ROH is better than WWE”…. why isn’t anyone comparing TNA and ROH? Well, here, let me do it for you. “ROH / TNA (your choice) is better than ROH / TNA (your choice)”. That being said, congrats to TNA on landing a TV deal, and I can’t wait to finally have options again….wait…. Velocity is on Saturdays at 11…. did I say options?
Hidden Highlights for WWE Raw: Monday, August 29, 2005 by JP
After the WWE moves to USA do Velocity and Heat exist anymore or is it just their new Saturday morning recap show? Awww, we should concentrate on shows that do exist. Like RAW!
(3) Dress the part:
After Todd Grisham interviewed Edge while he was hanging out with Alterbridge, something struck me: how was Edge going to get ready in time for his match? And that’s when it hit me; Edge was ready for his match! It’s a street fight, so Edge did not need to get ready. Not only did Edge just wear jeans to the match, but he also was wearing regular dress shoes. Kudos to Edge for putting that little detail into his match to put over the fact that it was a street fight, not a wrestling match.
(2) Matching Tag Teams:
One of the problems I have with tag team wrestling in the WWE is that they are not teams, just two people tagging (with the exceptions of MNM and the Heartthrobs). Even LOD2K5 do not match (Heidenreich should have gotten some tights before he got some spikes). But someone in the WWE costume department got it right with one of the new tag teams on the scene. And what tag team am I talking about? Why none other then Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle! They came out looking like a solid unit (no pun intended… ok, so maybe it was intended) in their matching sparkling silver skirts. Nothing says a team like matching outfits!
See, kids? Our love for talking about clothing (and JP’s love for matching tag outfits) has been here since the beginning! Actually though, that wasn’t very hidden JP. What were you thinking? I kid; more on that later, because if you can’t make light of yourself, you shouldn’t make light of others.
(1) Knowing how to wrestle? That’s cool:
A while back I talked about how wrestling is an art, and how some people go the extra mile in their matches to make them great. Usually we notice the big things, like when RVD does a leap all the way across the ring to hit someone in the head with a chair. But it is really the small things that go to making a match better. Like when William Regal has someone in a reverse arm lock, he also pulls back on their fingers to dish out just a little more pain. It just goes to show how much he knows about wrestling.
So this week’s William Regal Award goes to Carlito… Caribbean Cool. During his match with Chris Masters against Shawn Michaels and the late arriving Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels was knocked down and Carlito went for the cover. Shawn was on his stomach, so Carlito had to flip him over. But Carlito took the extra effort to roll Shawn TOWARDS him and away from the ropes, thus negating Shawn’s ability to use the ropes to get out of the pin attempt. Now that is a detail that just shows how well Carlito understands the ring and the match. And that, well, that’s cool.
Hidden Highlights for WWE SmackDown!: Thursday September 1, 2005 by JT
Good stuff JP. The Edge thing is EXACTLY why we write this column.
(3) Cowboy Bob Orton:
As much as I’m not the biggest fan of him being on TV… he didn’t interfere or even distract the entire time…. he waited calmly… advised his son, and then, when the moment came, BAM…. Cowboy Bob with the grabbing of Rey Rey while he went for the finishing Splashboard. Most times, there is entire too much interference in a match when someone is ringside, but CBO waited his turn, and pulled his prank at the exact right moment (notice the ref distracted), setting up the RKO off the second rope. Kudos to Cowboy Bob for hardly being noticed, until it counted.
And now I’ll get on myself the same way I did JP earlier. A ref distraction? Pffft. I definitely needed to work on my HH game!
(2) Tazz remaining neutral:
You never think about it because, besides Coach, there’s no CLEAR heel host on WWE TV. King and Tazz (respectively) always remain on the moral high ground, despite not always agreeing with their co-host. Somehow, they (King and Tazz) seem to always remain friendly with the heels. Tazz couldn’t understand Eddie (during the Dominic angle). King couldn’t understand Kane (during the angle before Hardy was fired). But as seen this week, as with other weeks, Cole is always the asshole when a heel is in the announce booth. Despite Tazz’s agreement in matters, he still remains friendly and un-objective when in the presence of heels. This week it was Christian. But we’ve seen it 100 times before. Tazz is the middle ground who sees where Cole is coming from, yet is always on good terms with the heel. Lines like “Cole, can’t you let him talk”, and “How are you, JBL” keep him completely cool, neutral, but yet not a heel.
(1) The Booking Team:
They knew they had one week until they went to Fridays. They knew they had to pull ratings. They knew they had to draw interest. So what’d they do? Basically give us every SummerSlam match (from the SD! side) all over again, only better in the same way. Gimmick matches galore (Eddie VS Ray Steel Cage, JBL VS Batista Bullrope), and similar matches we want to see again (Benoit WILL make Jordan tap in 17 seconds, MNM will finally get them back, etc)… plus, despite it won’t be a match, we’ll see Taker and Orton. Nice job booking team. Let’s hope you can keep it up, instead of just trying to draw ratings for ONE week.
Reader Write-in Hidden Highlight of the week
I like anything that puts Tazz over. Remember when he was the only one invited to the heel and face parties on Halloween? And he got kicked out of both parties for telling it like it is. Nice!
By the way, we aren’t just doing this article for our health. We want to make you the reader a more active and attentive viewer, and one who appreciates the hard work that goes into making all of the wrestling we have the privilege to watch. So don’t just sit there and stare, but take in everything that goes in to making the product this great!
This week I, JP, get to pick our Reader Write-in Hidden Highlight of the week.
JT: Why do you get to pick? We don’t even have feedback, it’s our debut column!
JP: I’m pulling rank here!
JT: Yeah, whatever "Mr. Pulls Rank because of the Alphabet"…
JP: Anyway, I actually do have something from a regular reader of mine. Of course, you wouldn’t know what a regular reader is, would you JT?
JT: Only because he gets confused by the name and thinks you’re me.
JP: Oh, you keep on dreaming there, buddy!
This week’s Hidden Highlight is brought to you by nWo 4-Life member Andrew Strom. Andrew said (*GENERAL WARNING*:: may be edited for grammar, spelling, English translation)…
I thought it was really cool how Edge tried to play off the bump by yelling "My neck, my neck!" and JR bringing up the fact that Edge had major neck surgery last year....continuity is something we don't get a lot of with the WWE.
Thanks Andrew, that is exactly what I am talking about! I noticed that, too, and how the when the King went over, he kept yelling at the medical technicians to get Matt off of Edge because of the angle of his neck. Edge’s crying really put over how much he loves what he does, and the fear he had of being paralyzed again. Very good catch. JT?
Woah! Anybody notice a lack of something!? No continuity love fest from JP! In fact, it was me who used the term first!
JT: Actually, despite my bitterness over the reader thing (and also considering the fact JP spelled my last name right), I have to agree with Andrew. It was a good call. Continuity is certainly something half the creative team has never heard of.
Do you have a Hidden Highlight of the week? Or a Classic Hidden Highlight that you would like to share? Please e-mail JP..erT…er…us at email@example.com with your thoughts! Send them by Friday afternoon to be considered!
And speaking of Classic Hidden Highlights…
Classic Hidden Highlight
Every week we take a look into the past and remember something that was done to make a show that much better. Well, sometimes we don’t remember, but you remember for us. Anyway, without further ado, JT presents the Classic Hidden Highlight of the week:
Never forget the crowd, or how to improvise
Monday Night RAW – April 18th, 2005. Trish Stratus and Lita were in the ring… Madison Square Garden. The crowd is chanting (among other things) “Slut! Slut! Slut! Slut!”, and as applicable as it is to Lita, they’re actually talking to Trish, because she’s on the mic. What does Trish say? “Come on guys, you don’t have to call her that”. How BEAUTIFUL…. she included the crowd, and also strayed from whatever she planned to say. I know the goal of this article is the small things that make watching the show on TV better, but we have no boundaries, and that included crowd participation. Everyone in that building marked like she was the biggest face on the planet. People give Trish a BUNCH of shit. I hear “she’s a slut” more than I do “Cena is the man”… yeah, think about that and be sure to include your general / average wrestling fan. If I had to draft today, and my first pick had to be a woman, Trish is it without a doubt. She is the complete package. Not only that, she was NOTHING when she started. Couldn’t wrestle, couldn’t talk, stood around and acted whore-ish… now look at her. She put forth the effort to improve, and she’s now 7 time Women’s Champion. Watching her that Monday night when she said that reminded me of exactly why.
And how ironic is that? Here we are a year later and Trish is riding off into the sunset.
JP: That was classic, I do have to agree. I like that you chose to go with a modern classic instead of an old school classic. That just says to me that great moments are being built all the time. But I can’t believe you dropped an S-bomb in an article with my name on it!
The Last Page is where we get to express something else positive in the world of wrestling. For myself, JP, it is most likely an In Defense Of… Mini-Case. For JT, it’s most likely time for a weekly rant! Who knows? Well, actually, you do…
In Defense Of… Mini-Case: Tony Schiavone “That’ll put butts in seats
By JP Prag
Certain people, events, organizations, and storylines in wrestling history have gotten a bum wrap. Certain writers have presented overtly critical comments and outright lies as fact, and others have followed suit. Well no more! “In Defense of…” has one reason: to bring the truth to the wrestling fan!
Not familiar with In Defense Of…? Be sure to read our past full cases!
On January 4, 1999 on a live episode of Nitro, Tony Schiavone let the audience know that Raw was taped, and that former WCW wrestler Mick Foley—now known as Mankind—won the WWF Championship. In response to that win, Tony sarcastically said, "And on the other channel you will find that Mick Foley has won their world title. Yeah, that will really put butts in seats." Consequently, 600,000 people switched the channel to see Mick Foley win the title instead of watching the Finger Poke of Doom. Boy, was that a controversial night!.
Many people have said that it was the most horrible thing Tony has ever done, and he is a terrible person for ever saying it. Except the problem is that Tony was told to say this from the back. As an announcer, he was often told to say things he did not agree with. And it is not like this is without precedent, as Eric Bischoff used to go on the air and give away the RAW results and make fun of the matches.
Some have said that Tony should have stood up and refused to say the comment. To what end? So that he could be fired from the largest wrestling organization in the world (at the time)? What would that accomplish? It is not like he and Mick Foley were best friends, or that saying the comment would physically hurt Mick. Schiavone was just a pawn in the big game, and could be replaced at any moment with Scott Hudson, Mike Tenay, or Dusty Rhodes. He had no job security, but did have one of the greatest jobs in the world for a company that always treated him right. Whether he agreed with the line or not does not matter: his job is to put over the talent and product, sell the merchandise and PPVs, and say whatever else the boss wants.
Besides, on July 27, 2005 on the WrestlingEpicenter’s Interactive Interview, Foley said that he knew right away that it was a comment that Tony did not want to say, and that he was just told to say it. He understood that Tony had a job to do, and despite everything holds no ill will towards him because of it.
If Mick Foley—the man most effected by Tony Schiavone’s comment—does not have a problem with Tony because of the comment and understands Schiavone’s position, then why have so many of us held a grudge against Schiavone for it till this day?
The mini-defense rests.
And the Response
Since this is a mini-case, it would be too much for this to go out to vote. So the one vote goes to JT. Oh my gosh, what was I thinking…
JT: I’m going with not guilty. Why? Well, first off, JP makes a couple of great points (did I say that?). Secondly, it might have been the most unnoticed swerve of the year. Why? Maybe Schiavone knew the popularity of Foley, and maybe… JUST maybe, he knew that if in fact he DID say that, he’d give a left hook to Bischoff by having a million people immediately turn over to RAW to see it happen. Either way… NOT GUILTY!
Exit, stage left!
Whew, that was a close one! I only won with 100% of the vote!
That finishes us off for this week. Thanks for joining us for the premier issue of Hidden Highlights. Be sure to drop us a line at and let us know what you think and all the other Hidden Highlights we missed this week. We’ll see you again next time for the most positive article in all of the IWC: Hidden Highlights! Until then!
JT: Wow… reading that and then reading last week’s issue just made me realize how far this really has gone. I can remember when we first put this idea together (i.e. when JP emailed me), we were really excited to even be given a second column. I doubt we ever imagined that we’d catch on the way we did, or that Hidden Highlights would become one of the most read columns on 411-
JP: And we’re on Sundays, no less!
JT: Indeed. It’s kind of funny how despite the fact the column has changed drastically, you can still see a lot of things from that first issue in the current version (Carlito love anyone?).
JP: I think the banter has definitely gotten better.
JT: Yeah, it seemed a tad forced, didn’t it. At any rate, that was a fun little flashback, eh!? Man, ONE Reader Write In. We’d get murdered for that nowadays! Speaking of the readers, remember folks, it’s not just our (JP & JT) birthday, it’s our (JP, JT, & Readers) birthday. You guys are just as much a part of Hidden Highlights as we are. The only difference is we put it together, slap some HTML in, yell at each other, and put it up on the site…. Okay so maybe that’s quite a bit different but you get the idea! We especially want to thank the likes of LaFave, RC, Manu, Divas, Bobby, and everyone else I’m forgetting and who’s been here from the beginning-
Larry: I’ve been here since the beginning.
JT:> You HAVE to read it!? You’re the editor. That doesn’t count.
Larry: I gave you permission for this.
JT: Again - Editor.
Larry: So what you’re saying is that you’re a fag?
JT: Cute. Very cute. Kidding aside, I suppose we do owe you thanks for letting us get this thing going and then run with it.
Larry: Who said I was kidding about you being a fa-
JT: WE GET IT! Are you done?
Larry: No, as a matter of fact, I’m not. First, you’re welcome. Second, you’re also welcome for the three Great Positivity Debates nobody ran by me first.
JT: Oh now you’re just being a grumpy goose. Besides, that was JP’s fault.
JP: Well, I just assumed since the hit count for the first one was so go-
Larry: No excuses peons! Now. Carry on.
JT: Finally… sheesh now I’ve forgotten what I was… oh yes, the readers. Thanks again to all the readers from the ones who’ve been there from the start, the ones that have joined the family along the way, and even the readers on the 411 Forum who show us love. We really do appreciate it, and keep it coming! Happy Birthday Hidden Highlights! And always remember kids:
JP: That better get on TV!!!
And yes, happy birthday to all of us here at Hidden Highlights. I think I’ll use this opportunity to just list…
JP’s Top Five Hidden Highlight Moments
(5) The Ghost of Chanukah Past – JT and I were both away for the entire week leading up to Christmas, and had not seen one minute of wrestling. So instead of skipping a week, instead I employed the Ghost of Chanukah Past and about half the staff to make the issue happen. It really showed how hard it is to come up with Hidden Highlights (or even write a correct one).
(4) The Day Meehan Cried – The week after winning the Great Positivity Debate, JT and I got to get some major gloating going on, and started linking to the term “most positive article in the IWC”. To this day, Meehan still hasn’t removed that from his profile, though I’ve mentioned it to him dozens of times.
(3) New Format #25 – Hidden Highlights has always been an evolving process, and issue #25 proved it as much as anything. We completely redid the style and look of the article, and in the end I think it helped clearly define the content. It was an overall improvement that we still use today.
(2) WrestleMania Hidden Highlights – In one of the most ambitious undertaking we have ever done, JT and I worked for about six weeks straight to come up with a 22-page special on the Hidden Highlights of Wrestlemania, including massive reader feedback for the issue premiered. Still have to give props to Stevie J for his contribution that day.
(1) The Hidden Highlights Hall of Fame – One of the reasons we created Hidden Highlights was to put over the Chris Jerichos of the world. And what better way to do it than to spend half an issue reminiscing about all the awesome Hidden Highlights Jericho has done over the years. You couldn’t ask for an issue that exemplified what this is all about.
And as a bonus, I will say this issue reaching 30 pages!!!! How ridiculous is that? And we still have to get to…
That Other Section, Part 2
This week, JP and JT have something for That Other Section, Part 2.
JP: If you didn’t read what this is about, then click that link because it will explain all.
THE GREAT POSITIVITY DEBATE 3 TOURNAMENT
JP: It’s hard to live in a world of positivity, and the Great Positivity Debate is a demonstration of that. In a typical debate, the writers are trying to make the most valid point for their side. In TGPD, the writers are trying to make the most valid positive point as a test of their writing skills and imagination. You the readers are the ultimate judges and decide who moves on and who hits the bricks. As a reminder, here are the rules for the opening round:
We will list four topics.
Each side may have only one response to each topic.
The response to the topic can be no more than 500 words.
The response to the topic must be the most positive thing that side can think up.
The positive response must be something that side believes in (honor code in effect).
The first two topics will be answered first by one side, and then the two shall switch answering order.
At the end, you the readers will vote who is the winner.
Neither of these two competitors are fighting for who is more positive. Instead, they are fighting over who has more writing skill in the confines of positivity.
Last week, Jordan Williams took on Jeff Small in a furious battle of lost tag team matches, Cena joining up with DX, Kurt Angle’s work ethic, and wanna-be-Divas showing their “talent”. And with 54.0% of the vote, the winner was:
Another landslide! Well Jordan, looks like you’ve got a bit to go to build up a reputation as big as Small’s. Get it? Small reputation?
JP: Oh, whatever. The important thing is that Jislaine will be helping me edit my articles from now on.
JT: I’m pretty sure THAT was not on the line in that match.
JP: Oh, the love of a pretty lady is ALWAYS on the line, JT.
JT: You know. Did you ever stop to think that you aren’t even aware how old Jislaine is?
JP: ...what do you mean...?
JT: She could be underage for all you know. I mean, she did mention that her and Jordan will be starting school next week, AND I know for a fact that they do not live together...
JP: ...oh... so you’re saying... oh my.... well, I mean I never even consi-
JT: mmmhmmm. Now maybe you won’t be so quick to flap your gums around all the ladies that write us!
JP: ...I... I was very nice to everyone this week! You didn’t have to chime in once!
JT: Okay! Enough fun for me! You can stop squirming. They are in fact starting school again soon, but it is of the collegiate nature.
JP: ........you really are an ass, you know that!?!?!
JT: This is getting out of control. Can we continue?
JP: Sure, sure…
Well, because of that win, here are the updated brackets:
As a reminder, opening round matches consist of four questions, semi-finals six questions, and the finals eight. The winner of the tournament goes on to face JT and I in THE GREAT POSITIVITY DEBATE 3: THE SEQUEL NOBODY ASKED FOR!
Without further ado, this week’s competitors are:
Mathew Sforcina – By IWC standards, Sforcina is a veteran who is often overlooked. His acclaimed series Evolution Schematic has covered a variety of wrestlers, events, and gimmicks from the kayfabe perspective over many multi-part issues. This style of writing was <del>stolen</del> re-appropriated by JP for his premier article In Defense Of…. Sforcina is here to take back what he rightfully created and get the respect that all his hard work deserves. That, and pimp the re-launch of the Fink’s Payload.
Will Helm – If Sforcina is a veteran, than Will Helm is an Ancient One. Helm is currently known for his widely read Misunderstood Masterpieces over in the Movies/TV Zone, though he has been around for much longer. Helm is here to show that he can still take on all the young blood, and prove the Movies/TV Zone superiority to all over Zones.
JT: You know the rules gentleman. I want a good, clean debate. If either man takes a shot at me, they may be subject to instant disqualification. By the flip of the coin, Will Helm will go first.
JP: Question 1: SmackDown! only had two matches on the SummerSlam card (the second largest PPV of the year), and one of those ended in DQ. Should SmackDown! have had more matches?
Will Helm: For all intents and purposes, SmackDown! did not need any more than two matches on the SummerSlam card. As many consider SmackDown! to be the WWE's "B-show" – this writer excepted – it is imperative for SmackDown! to put its best face forward on a grand stage, and SummerSlam is the second biggest stage in the WWE universe. Rather than stuff a few meaningless matches onto the card to get more face time for its roster, SmackDown! made the best of the situation by featuring its two hottest feuds on the card.
First, Rey Mysterio versus Chavo Guerrero is a great and honest feud with a logical reasoning behind it. Say what you will about the way the memory of Eddie Guerrero has been handled by the WWE but this is the perfect culmination of all those controversial storylines. Throughout nearly the past year, Rey has defended his late friend and now he must defend his friendship itself against the only man on the roster closer to Eddie than he. This is a feud that has been brewing for a long while and feuds such as this will always be better than a randomly cobbled together feud started in mid-August "just in time" for SummerSlam!
More significantly, the title match between King Booker and Batista – and it's DQ ending – not only promises that this hot rivalry will continue but it also may bring curious viewers to this week's episode of SmackDown! Additional viewers, no matter how garnered, are always a plus for the so-called "B-show." Perhaps as a bonus, the continuation of the feud also opens up a little more room at the top, as rival claimants – especially up-and-comers like Lashley and Kennedy or a reinvigorated Rey Mysterio – may insert themselves into the title hunt. Suspense is the key to any great action story and the DQ ending to the title match at SummerSlam has given SmackDown! – and its title scene – a much needed dose of it.
In the end, SmackDown!'s two matches on the SummerSlam card – while seemingly too few – have nothing but upside as, at worst, they continue two great feuds and, at best, they bring in more viewers and a greater sense of suspense.
Mathew Sforcina: Look, I'm not going to defend the two matches that got on, as my opponent did, since that's slightly irrelavant, since the question is should SD have had more, not defend the ones that did get on. I'm also not going to claim SD is a 'B-Show', since that's patently false, the 'B-Shows' are Heat and AM Raw, maybe ECW if you're feeling a bit narky. I will state "SD would have had 3 but they realised that would put Taker/Khali on a major PPV" and leave that at that. What I will say for my main point, however, is that Summerslam was a group effort. All 3 brands got together to put on the best show possible, all interworking and all being selfless for the greater good, that being the Summerslam event. The DQ was designed to show that Edge was REALLY in trouble, since if his girl tried to stop the unstoppable (street) beast in a similar way, then Edge would be waving his belt goodbye. And Rey/Chavo was the hot opening cruiser battle, and when you have a hot opening crusier battle with a really long, involved background, you are doing something in terms of long term booking right. And those two matches built the card, did their job. Could other SD matches have done that? Possibly, although lack of long term storylines made it iffy. Ergo, when they went from 3 (+1...Orton/Hogan is only technicaly Raw really)/3/1 to 4/2/1, instead of throwing on some random match, they gave everyone else more time. That's much smarter, and makes for a better overall show.
JP: Helm: 365 words. Sforcina: 266 words. JT?
JT: Question 2: Trish and Lita both seem to be on the way out. In terms of legitimate wrestlers that probably leaves Mickie, Victoria, and Melina. How can the division go up from here?
Will Helm: For fans of the WWE's Women's Division, the rumored exits of both Trish Stratus and Lita may appear to be the end of the world but, to this writer, it can be nothing but a rebirth for an exciting – if, at times, underutilized – division.
Even though the prospects for the future of the division may seem slim with only Victoria, Mickie, and Melina to shore it up, the vacancies on the roster leave room for new blood to enter the picture. While some skeptical viewers may have written off Candace Michelle as a pretty face with little talent, she has been coming into her own in the ring in recent weeks; perhaps the rumors of none other than Arn Anderson training her are, in fact, true. If so, more power to her and her possible future within the division; it wasn't long ago that Trish Stratus herself – arguably one of the best North American women's wrestlers of the current generation, if not of all time – was considered nothing more than eye candy who didn't belong anywhere near a wrestling ring. It's funny how the situation can change over the course of a few years . . . and with some proper training.
Speaking of training, Candace's advancement gives hope to the other "Divas" that they too can become entertaining, if not – like Trish – spectacular, in the ring. With Trish and Lita on the way out, opportunities have arisen for unheralded commodities such as Jillian Hall or Beth Phoenix – who have yet to show their true wrestling skills onscreen to their fullest – to burgeoning neophytes like Ashley or Krystal, who may follow Candace's lead to greater things within the division with a touch of training to bolster their natural talent. In fact, the oft lambasted Diva Searches could hold the next Trish Stratus or Lita among their contestants, perhaps because beauty and charisma can't be taught but wrestling skill can.
Even though the possibly impending departures of Trish and Lita may appear a shock to the division, the influx of new talents and new possibilities – as well as toeing the line between sensuality and skill – may very well take the WWE Women's Division in an exciting new direction and I, for one, look forward to watching it.
Mathew Sforcina: You have to be careful when speaking positivly. I mean, if you state a fact, which doesn't sound very helpful, friendly, positive, and so on, you might come across as not being positive. But bear with me here for a moment.
Women's Wrestling in North America, on the whole, is not respected. I don't think many people are going to argue the point, there are highpoints, the occasional match/wrestler/division/company/fan, but for the most part it's seen as a side show, mostly. Most NA Wrestling fans think Joshi is that lizard thing from the Mario games. You can easily count the few times when it almost got to a respected/like point, maybe even did get there (Ritcher, maybe Blaze, Lita Mark 1, The Golden Finlay era, Chyna). My point is that it's pretty low on the totem polem right now. And yes, on the surface, Lita and Trish leaving does seem to indicate even less respect will be coming along, even if My Goddess is still around.
Now for the positive bit.
There's a bit of a change going on right now, one that doesn't require Trish or Lita's involvement, and in fact their vanishing could help. I am referring to the Raw Diva Search.
(Yes, I'm about to wax positive on it. Get Ready.)
A couple of facts that many online are overlooking about the RDS mean that Women's Wrestling will eventually, not over-night, but at some point, become accepted and respected. One, the Diva Search is fairly constantly the highest rated, or very nearly the highest rated, segment on Raw/SD. And two, the big one, current fans are being trained to expect and like seeing a whole lot of women running around their wrestling shows. If you tune into WWE, and hence Wrestling, the average fan is more and more expecting to see some women at some point. Ergo, Women's Wresting is going to automatically gain ground when it's the logical way to get women in. Hence, more attention will be shown on it, since it becomes more and more important.
The net result of which is while, yes, there might be a dip in the talent pool for a while (although the 3 listed are great, Candice is improving by leaps and bounds, WWE could have every great Women's Talent tomorrow if they wanted and Maria is an untapped resource), the size of the pool is growing day by day. One day, not tomorrow but soon, women's wrestling will be respected. And on that day, The Golden Age of Women's Wrestling is going to look like so much tarnished brass.
JT: Helm: 376 words. Sforcina: 432 words. JP?
JP: Question 3: TNA continues to give away huge matches on free TV and has not seen an upwards rating bump because of it. Is this a viable strategy for the longterm health of the company?
Mathew Sforcina: There is a difference between upwards ratings and solid ratings. See, WWE can afford to shovel out crap, if they want, because they have a solid, 2.5-3.0 or so fanbase that tunes in each and every week to anything above a certain level of importance, and thus they can put on whatever they damm well like and still draw a decent enough rating. TNA do not have that luxery. It seems like they have a 0.6-0.7 core base, but they can't yet take the risk of putting out non-great free TV matches and rely on the solid base to stick with them. They are still not established enough on mainstream TV to get that cute with the booking, they can't tease us like WWE. So, they put on huge free TV matches to keep that fanbase happy. And also, TNA are still fighting to establish themselves as a worthwhile alternative. Putting on big, huge matches week in, week out, is a very good way of doing this, since WWE doesn't do that. WWE tends to only put on a 'big' match maybe once a month or so on free TV, maybe, on average. TNA tends to have one every damm week. Hence you have to watch this week, LAX win the tag titles! Joe chokes a bitch! There's this insane triple flip pheonix suplex with a double flip and extra cheese! So on and so forth. TNA has to put out big matches to prove that they are big. WWE can get away with "Rob Conway is important, trust us." TNA can't, yet. And that's a good thing for us, regardless of the ratings.
Will Helm: To be honest, TNA isn’t necessarily giving away “big” matches every week; seemingly, part of their grand scheme is to give every match – or, at least, every Impact! main event – that “big” feeling. This “big” feeling is key to their future on television and as a company as, over time, TNA builds the reputation of being the federation where “important” things happen.
Even though it may appear that TNA is cutting off its nose to spite its pay-per-view face, in reality they’re making sure to establish the short-term so they can be more successful in the long term. It must be remembered that, even though TNA has been around for a few years, their Spike show has only been on the air for a relatively small fraction of that history. For all intents and purposes, the first broadcast on Spike can be considered Day 1 of TNA as we know it currently, as that was their highest-profile moment to date. TNA – in the Spike era – is still building their identity and their marquee stars.
Those marquee stars, honestly, hold the key to TNA and give each match that aforementioned “big” feeling by being wrestlers the audience wants to see. TNA viewers want to see Jeff Jarrett fight – and lose; they want to see Samoa Joe impress the wrestling world with his unparalleled skill; they know that whenever Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles are in the ring, the match will be epic, whether they are allies or competitors. Also, viewers can’t help but be captivated by Eric Young as he does what he seems to do best: entertain.
As TNA is finding that identity through its solid roster, they key to their future audience lies not with them but with Spike and their parent, Viacom. All TNA needs once they settle on their identity and firmly establish the “big” match reputation is a little marketing through the Viacom network and the sky’s the limit for many years – or even decades – to come.
JP: Sforcina: 274 words. Helm: 331 words. JT?
JT: Question 4: SummerSlam didn't feature an Intercontinental, US, Tag Team (either), or Cruiserweight match. It practically had no undercard at all. How can this be a good thing for the WWE - especially considering it's one of the big four?
Mathew Sforcina: Uh, what? Seriously, this question makes no sense. Summerslam had no undercard because EVERY MATCH WAS IMPORTANT. You had 3 world title matches, 2 blood fueds, Legend vs. Legend Killer, and the DX & McMahons show, and would have had Taker had Khali not been...Khali. Would it have been nice to showcase younger talent? Of course. Would a Hooliganz/Hardy vs. Idol/Stevens/Noble match or a Helms/Jeff Hardy match been nice? Sure. Is it possibly short sighted to not invest any time into getting newer talent involved and ensureing the future of the company? Debatable. But Summerslam is supposed to be the second biggest PPV of the year, and it doesn't have a gimmick like Survivor Series or the Rumble (which probably really is the second biggest PPV of the year), so it needs to have a 'big night' atmosphere. Throwing on a cruiserweight match or a title match for no good reason would only have diluted the effect that this was SUMMERSLAM-slam-slam-slam. WWE said "look at how many important and exciting things are happening right now! You should tell your friends to watch!" and what have you. WWE is the big time. Summerslam is a big time show. Every match was big time. Hence the show was big time. QED.
Will Helm: Perhaps for the first time in a long time, this year’s SummerSlam felt more like the SummerSlams of old rather than the championship-filled supercards of recent years. While Wrestlemania is traditionally the card where most – if not all – WWE belts are on the line, SummerSlam is all about blood feuds and rivalries that have festered through the long, hot summer.
The inaugural SummerSlam, in 1988, was main-evented by the MegaPowers vs. MegaBucks feud, not a title match. Another feud held the top spot in 1989 and it wasn’t until 1990 that a title match was at the top of the card, with Ultimate Warrior defeating Rick Rude for the then-WWF title. The next big title match was two years later and, that time, it was for the Intercontinental belt between Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith, not the WWF Championship. Even though there were a few title matches at the top of the card in following years, normally they were overshadowed by feuds coming to a head elsewhere on the card; everyone remembers – for good or for ill – Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales, Undertaker vs. Undertaker, and Mankind vs. Undertaker, to name a few. By and large, championship matches were few and far between . . . and that was a plus.
More recently, especially after the WCW merger, the Alliance angle, and the brand split, the SummerSlam cards – and most of WWE’s dual-brand cards in general – have been a bit bloated with title matches and a desperate need to get anyone and everyone onto the card. Even though this is a boon for the wrestlers and their paydays, the end result was usually a muddled and unfocused event with oft thrown-together matches that lacked the epic feel of SummerSlams past. This year’s SummerSlam, however, was streamlined and invigorated with matches built up over at least most of the month, if not most of the summer. SummerSlam ’06, while lacking on championship representation, instead highlighted the matches themselves and removed the added – and sometimes manufactured – drama of a title from the equation.
In addition, the lack of titles on the card actually helps the titles themselves by allowing their matches to exist in their own frame of reference, specifically the television programs and the single-brand pay-per-views. There the secondary and tag team titles can show their true importance without being upstaged by other matches and shunted down the card in favor of title-less feuds. The scarcity of title matches just makes those matches more important when they are contested, apart from SummerSlam and any other competition for attention.
JT: Sforcina: 209 words. Helm: 427 words. JP?
JP: All right, now it’s time to vote. Who won TGPD match between Mathew Sforcina and Will Helm?
JP: Voting will remain open until Saturday September 2nd at 2:00am GMT. Thanks for playing!
Next week the opening round comes to and end as the Top Ten’s Julian Williams takes on Thursday news reporter Steve Cook. Will Cook get revenge for Julian stealing his gimmick, or will Julian give the top ten reasons he will beat Cook into the ground?
JT: Cook has been prepping for this for two weeks (albeit while drunk), so Julian better bring his A game!
Exit, stage left!
JT: For those of you who packed a lunch and stuck it out through the whole issue, thanks! See you next week, my little bumble bees.
JP: We should probably have just made this a two week issue. It sure as hell had enough content! Hope you enjoyed spending the last six hours with us, and many more to come!
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