Monday, July 14, 2008

TV Project #1 - Jan. 28 - Feb. 1

This is a new, ongoing project I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. Thanks, in large part, goes to fellow staff member Adam for graciously handing over copious amount of the American wrestling from TV for me in the guise of crudely labeled digital video discs. Each disc has one week’s worth of programming on it, for each week I’ll be ranking in order of quality the four programs featured, as well as giving analysis on the shows themselves.

To honor Adam for spending so much time faithfully burning this discs for yours truly, and to punish myself for getting so damn behind, I’ve vowed to never touch the fast-forward button, solemnly pledging to watch and every second, be it in-ring action, interviews, video replays, marketing for upcoming shows, and other misc. vignettes. Let’s get this Southern California gangster pool party started!

1st place:
WWE Smackdown! 2/01/08
Ranking: 42% (21 points out of 50)

1. Ric Flair vs. MVP - 3
2. Rey Mysterio and CM Punk vs. Edge and Chavo Guerrero - 5
3. Fit Finaly and Hornswoggle vs. Deuce and Domino - 3
4. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins vs. Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon More - 4
5. The Undertaker and Kane vs. Mark Henry and Big Daddy V - 6

While in terms of wrestling this was the best of the week’s three WWE shows, thus scoring the best percentage mark, that doesn’t necessarily translate into it being the most enjoyable, as outside of the in-ring work, the rest of the content was garbage. Teddy Long’s pandering in-ring promo to start, countless video replays and packages, Batista’s short and pointedly uninteresting in-ring promo hosted by the latest WWE Diva contest winner whose name I’ve already forgot, etc. made for me to squirm during the transitions from segment to segment hoping for more wrestling as they didn’t deliver on the entertainment side of the show.

Flair and MVP was flat, Ric looking particularly troubled with his crotchety demeanor and flabby, old skin. The tag was pretty good, mid-level stuff, with no one truly trying to impress, but the heat built up in the last moments and Punk getting the win with the “Go to Sleep” on Chavo was a nice finish. The Finlay match was a squash, but at least it was really stiff, so it got points accordingly. The Ryder/Hawkins versus Yang/Moore match was satisfying but void of any heat or crowd interest to get it heated up enough to elicit much emotion. The main event was really great, though, and the most satisfying main event of any TV program that week. Henry was the all-star here, just eating all of Kane and Undertaker’s stuff and making it look awesome. When Big Daddy V finally got into the ring he brought the stiffness, laying in some chops on Kane in the corner that surely made Kane’s ex-wife Lita wince. The finish was boss, too, with Undertaker using the gogoplata for the second straight weak leading to some blood sputtering and in my case underwear soaking.

2nd place:
WWE Raw 1/28/08
Ranking: 35% (21 points out of 60)

1. Mickie James and Ashley vs. Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall - 2
2. Carlito vs. Cody Rhodes - 3
3. Shawn Michaels and Triple H vs. Snitsky and Umaga - 5
4. Brian Kendrick vs. Mr. Kennedy - 3
5. Melina vs. Maria - 2
6. Chris Jericho and Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton and JBL – 6

Raw was an entertaining show, the first American wrestling TV program I’d watched completely in a very long time. The non-wrestling stuff far excelled compared to the same week’s Smackdown! broadcast while the in-ring stuff didn’t compete. John Cena, fresh from shocking the world by being entrant #30 at the previous night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view and winning the prestigious match, opened the show with an in-ring promo, and it’s just ridiculous how much heat he has.

The women’s tag match, a staple of Raw programming, was really lackluster being far too short and unmemorable to be noteworthy. Carlito and Cody came off pretty lukewarm, too. Hell, Cody’s then partner Hardcore Holly legitimately broke Shawn Michaels’ nose the night prior, they should have allotted him this valuable TV time just to gloat! The Degeneration-X tag was by-the-numbers for those guys, but that being said, even when Shawn and Hunter are taking it easy, they still put together more entertaining stuff effortlessly than a lot of guys kill themselves trying to top on the indy scene. Kendrick’s talent was wasted against Kennedy in a real lousy waste, save for Brian slapping the taste out of Kennedy’s match to start the bout. Melina and Maria are two of the more serviceable members of the Diva contingent, especially in the charisma department, which made this doubly disappointing as their match lacked any. The main event was a real treat, as neither teams featured are regular partners, so it was neat seeing these four diverse talents working together for once. The faces had the crowd hot and looked to have a win secured, but leave it to dastardly heels to disrupt things, as an Orton “RKO” let JBL score a pin on Jericho in a good finale.

3rd place:
ECW on Sci-Fi 1/29/08
Ranking: 32% (16 points out of 50)

1. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kane - 4
2. Victoria vs. Kelly Kelly - 3
3. John Morrison and The Miz vs. Colin Delaney - Handicap Match - 2
4. CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke - 4
5. Kofi Kingston vs. Rob Ecko - 3

Regardless of it’s ranking, this was a show with mostly perfectly fine, easily digestible TV wrestling. Fitting five matches into an hour leaves little room for other stuff, but there was a Chavo Guerrero celebration in-ring during the program’s last segment, complete with mariachi band, confetti, and CM Punk disguised with a large mustache blasting “Chavito Heat” in the face with a mandolin.

Shelton and Kane were having a truly top-notch match, especially for an opener, but the ending completely took me out of it. Benjamin simply walked off in the middle of the match. Shelton’s athleticism made Kane’s usually plodding move-set look spectacular. Victoria carried Kelly to a better woman’s match than either of the two featured on Raw, even though Monday’s bouts contained arguably better workers, the ECW bout had a clear heel/face structure and albeit simplistic it worked well. The handicap match seemed tacked on and I wasn’t feeling it. Burke and Punk had a good singles match, void of much heat or compelling storytelling, it was well-worked and moderately fun at parts. The main event was a forgettable Kofi squash, but it was adequate given that, and I tossed the Jamaican some pity points.

4th Place:
TNA Impact 1/31/08
Ranking: 33% (21 points out of 60)

1. Rock ‘N Rave Infection vs. Petey Williams and Scott Steiner - 3
2. Kip James vs. Hernandez - 3
3. Kory Chavis vs. Judas Mesias - 2
4. Roxxi Laveaux vs. Angelina Love vs. ODB - 4
5. Robert Roode, Payton Banks, and James Storm vs. Sonjay Dutt, Traci Brooks, and Eric Young - 4
6. Kurt Angle vs. Tomko – 4

Even though it scored one more percentage point than ECW, TNA still gets last place this week as outside of the wrestling, which wasn’t too good either, the rest of the show was garbage. All of my friends are always razzing on TNA for their TV show and after this episode I can certainly understand why. Who thinks Jim Cornette is a good fit? TNA is supposed to be young, fresh, and total non-stop action, right? Well, none of those buzzwords describe decrepit and severely outdated Cornette. Also, a lot of guys got mic time pre-match, none of it useful, and throughout the show we got AJ, Kurt, and Karen segments that are already driving me nuts and I’m fearing for my sanity preparing myself to watch six-plus months worth of them.

The opening tag was fine, but sizzled out, as it started hot with small Petey dominating the other team, but this ultimately was just to serve an angle as Steiner smashed Petey in the face with a briefcase and left his partner. Kip and “Super Mex” had a decent throwaway bout; highlighted by some decent facial selling in the corner by Hernandez of some James strikes. Roxxi tossed white powder incidentally into Kip’s face, no pun necessary, and he fired her afterwards. Nice to see a FIP guy on national TV, but Kory and his fun to say ring name were a mere afterthought as Mesias squashed him. The women’s three-way was pretty good for what time it was given, with some decent sequencing and sells. All three of these women can put together good stuff when they’re on. The six-person intergender tag match was fun, but mostly servicing angle advancement, although most of the work was acceptable with Payton’s facials showing fear a treat. The main event was quite good but marred and jumbled by constant crap, as AJ worked as special guest ref, unsure of making counts, etc. and this match suffered as a result of all the surrounded hoopla.

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