PWI UPDATE ARCHIVES: July-December 2007

THE TURN: Skewering The Year Of 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 14-20, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 7-13, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 30-December 6, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 23-29, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 16-22, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 9-15, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 2-8, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 26-November 1, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 19-25, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 12-18, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 5-11, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 28-October 4, 2007
PWI Acquired By Golden Boy Enterprises Subsidiary
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 21-27, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 14-20, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 8-14, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 31-September 7, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 24-30, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 17-23, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 10-16, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 3-9, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 27-August 2, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 20-26, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 13-19, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 6-12, 2007
THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 29-July 5, 2007

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PWI Update Archives: November-December 2006
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PWI Update Archives: August 2006
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PWI Update Archives: June 2006
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THE TURN: Skewering The Year Of 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Yet another calendar year has gone by and what are we, as fans, left with? Well, from a wrestling perspective, 2007 wasn’t exactly one of the most memorable years on record. In 2006, we saw the return—for better or worse—of ECW, the continued building of TNA, and both Smackdown and Raw hold steady. We didn't get very much from 2007.

While the past 12 months gave fans a couple of huge happenings that looked great on paper, by and large we’ve just gone through a transition year for the industry. WWE took steps to eliminate (although they’ll tell you it’s to strengthen brand loyalty) the borders between brands by starting a talent-sharing program between Smackdown and ECW. TNA finally, finally, received a second hour of programming, yet has chosen to make up the time with increased backstage segments and promos for upcoming cards.

Raw continued to be the John Cena show despite fan reaction pretty much remaining the same—mixed. After surviving a surprisingly high amount of serious injuries to cash cows such as Triple-H, Shawn Michaels, and Bobby Lashley, Raw lost Cena to a debilitating pectoral injury of his own. Because of the perceived lack of marketable talent from those who make decisions, Raw was left to essentially tread water for 2007 and not lose to

When the pace is set as poorly as it was, it’s only natural that the same feeling would permeate the rest of the company, right? Well, with ECW being awash with virtually no prospect of getting any better in 2008, Smackdown actually stepped up during the 2007 and, at times, showed signs of true viability. Yet, once again, injuries prevented what seemed to be a promising year from fully taking shape. Edge, The Undertaker, Batista, Rey Mysterio Jr., and Matt Hardy all succumbed to major injuries in 2007, which never allowed the blue brand to flourish when it seemed it would.

ECW is still on television. That actually may be the most impressive feat of any televised wrestling program in 2007. C.M. Punk is finally champion of the “hardcore” brand, whose roster is so diluted now that two of the biggest names in the brand are Mark Henry and the giant guy who has so many flesh rolls that he looks like he’s melting, Big Daddy V. If WWE was so hellbent on resurrecting a brand only to completely emasculate it on a weekly basis, then why couldn’t it have been WCW? There has to be some modicum of sick pleasure that still can be derived from that, eh?

In other “hurt your eyes” news, MTV threw its sideways-crooked hat into the ring with the short-lived Wrestling Society X. Although the talent roster was promising, the show amounted to very little more than … well … exactly what you’d expect from an MTV-produced wrestling program. There were tons of high spots, copious amounts of yelling, and explosions as far as the eye could see. Garbage? You betcha. Still, the worst part was that the only thing the participants could have hoped for—specifically, that WSX would showcase their talent to WWE and TNA—never came to fruition. Hey, at least WSX didn’t last long enough for MTV to cross-promote with members of the Real World cast coming on a guest referees, right?

In the mainstream media wrestling was placed under the microscope once again for various reasons, most notably as part of the nationwide focus on steroid use in athletics. Obviously, the attention was no greater than during the Benoit family tragedy this past summer. Speculation and theories still abound as the investigation into Benoit’s personal physician and allegations of steroid disbursement continue.

For the most part, 2007 was not monumental from a televised wrestling standpoint. There were some bright spots and great matches that perhaps didn’t get the type of attention they deserved. Ring of Honor began a pay-per-view schedule and indy promotions such as Pro Wrestling Unplugged here in Philadelphia have now secured timeslots on the regional airwaves.

In short, there’s plenty of wrestling to watch in a given week, but, as fans, we need to be more discerning in 2008 with how we spend our time in front of the tube. While “The Turn” will not endorse or bury a television experience overtly, we will encourage our fellow fans to throw some of your support to those wrestlers out there who still compete more for the love of the sport and not a marketing deal. You won’t see them in their own video game or pimping a Subway sandwich anytime soon, but more often than not they will entertain you.

Become a connoisseur of televised wrestling in 2008. Don’t go back for seconds when a WWE or TNA spoon-feeds you gimmick after re-used gimmick. Go out, take one of the 250 gift cards you received this holiday season, and buy a DVR or TiVo. This way, you can load up on all things wrestling and, even better, roll past the Snitsky promos of the world at your whim. Remember, we’re the consumers, and we’re the folks that drive the industry. Be selective in 2008, support your local promotions, and don’t get any silly ideas to get out of the house and exercise. Your television would never ask so much from you.

And Finally …
The Most Notorious Televised Moments Of 2007 (as voted on by “The Turn” staff)

5. TNA and NWA unceremoniously part ways: There wasn’t ill will. Hell, there wasn’t much of an explanation either.
4. Teddy Long’s wedding day heart attack: Moments like this make the old adage of professional wrestling being a soap opera for men actually insulting to soap operas.
3. Raw’s 15th Anniversary broadcast … a month early: We loved the show, but it felt like pandering. Magically, WWE re-upped its deal with the USA Network during the same weekend. Shocking.
2. TNA outdraws ECW in a head-to-head matchup: TNA optimist sees a head-to-head victory. TNA realist knows it wasn’t by much at all.
1. Mr. McMahon is blown up: Never thought we’d have to write that. Hope we never have to again.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 14-20, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

While we hate to admit it, the Y2J experience seems to have lost some steam over the past month. Of course, no one assumed that the not-so-unexpected return of Chris Jericho truly would “save” a fanbase looking for fresh entertainment. Still, it seemed like a safe bet to say that most people—WWE execs included—assumed that the Jericho addition would carry the company at least until WrestleMania 24 in Orlando. Unfortunately, fan reaction and confusing storyline angles have all but killed any momentum the “Ayatolla Of Rock And Rolla” brought with him.

Enter JBL.

Yes, what better way to revive a slumping, overly hyped return than by hitching it to another return; and this time, one that most fans weren’t exactly clamoring for. In most circumstances a move such as pairing up Jericho and the returning John Bradshaw Layfield would be so transparent as to just reek of desperation. While that could be the case, a closer look at the two men involved shows that, as fans, we should expect more from this feud.

Apparently, Jericho returned to “save us” from Randy Orton, but only for one night. The lead-up to their match at Armageddon was rushed and choppy and really seemed to give fans no real sense of an angle to the feud. The basic premise was that Jericho returned, didn’t like Orton, could not capture the title at the pay-per-view, and then went off in another direction. Not exactly something we’ll be writing about for years to come.

Various wrestling insiders have speculated for what seems like years that JBL was looking to make a full-time return to active competition once he fully recovered from a career’s worth of nagging injuries. Hence, his sudden desire to lace up the boots for one more run shouldn’t shock the fanbase at all.

So, WWE is now at a place where it has two names from the past—who weren’t expected to wrestle again anytime soon—squaring off against each other and, while this certainly won’t be a huge selling point for pay-per-views, this may be the smartest move the company has made in a long time.

There is probably no better person in the entire company to draw the smarmy “Man Of 1004 Holds” out of Jericho than JBL. As accomplished a talker as Jericho is and has been throughout his career, JBL is every bit as impressive. A feud between these two men will force each to be as good, if not better, than the other, and the winners in this battle will undoubtedly be the fans. If we had to choose, the early advantage would have to go to JBL, seeing as how he’s been thinking and speaking wrestling consistently during the two years Jericho was away. Unfortunately, though, there are a few liabilities that come with pitting these two against each other that, with proper positioning up front, WWE should be able to counteract. Should.

First, one of these guys is going to come out as the loser—plain and simple. Whether each of their matches ends with a disqualification or countout, someone will still come out as the bum. Jericho needs … needs … to come out on top here. JBL can continue to be a ruthless rulebreaker even if he loses this feud; Jericho, on the other hand, could get pushed to the side quickly if he drops two feuds in the span of a month.

Another potential pitfall here is that neither man is exactly at the top of his game right now. Jericho is still trying to sell the fans on his “Codebreaker” finisher (regardless of how crazy they go when he slaps on the “Walls Of Jericho”), and while JBL appears to have gotten himself into shape, there will no doubt be signs of ring rust every time he steps through the ropes. We’re not getting Bret Hart and The Dynamite Kid here anytime soon … okay, probably never … but, at the very least, it’s going to take more time than the fans will likely want to devote to get both guys back to top form. Hopefully, in the spirit of competition and ego-boosting, both will up their game to match the other.

Finally—and possibly the most disheartening—is that unless there is a major change of heart from either JBL or Jericho, fans will be left with the newly presented fan favorite “Y2J” and not the nasty, sneaky “Lionheart” from years past. If anything, this feud could be the best opportunity for Jericho to teeter back into that gray area between beloved and hated. He cannot possibly come off as more evil than JBL when all is said and done, but he could start to show the inklings of vindictiveness that made him the star he is today. Jericho didn’t win many friends as a villain for most of his career, but he certainly did capture his fair share of gold.

In the end, this should be a rather entertaining feud. Both guys are professionals and will likely keep things going long enough that fans will either be entertained or, at the very least, angry enough to sort of dictate the flow of the angle. Either way, WWE will get the reaction it was hoping for, and fans will have something to enjoy on the mid-card.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (12/14)
Just a friendly word of advice to the good folks at Smackdown: The only way the “David vs. Goliath” angle works is when Goliath actually squashes David at some point. Not that anyone wants to see The Great Khali and Hornswoggle continue their angle, but at some point the littlest McMahon is going to have to take a beatdown for this to at least keep us from going to the bathroom during the segment.

Raw (12/17)
Although Ric Flair’s had nearly as many retirement tours as The Rolling Stones, this latest one actually has the feeling of finality. Maybe it’s because he’s roughly 192 in dog years, or possibly it’s the buildup before each match, but something feels like this could be it. A big win over Umaga on Monday night (how awesome was his crashing through the barricade?) certainly has helped progress this angle along nicely.

ECW (12/18)
Chavo Guerrero appeared at the end of ECW on Tuesday night to attack C.M. Punk following the champ’s match against U.S. titleholder MVP. Guerrero, as accomplished and well trained as they come, is returning from an extended vacation that lasted, oh, roughly 60 days only to return to WWE via ECW. If WWE wants ECW to come off as legit, maybe it shouldn’t make it the conduit for which allegedly suspended wrestlers return to television. If it’s viewed as a punishment to move there, how can anyone take it seriously?

Impact (12/20)
Last night, Impact had a Christmas theme throughout, including a “Santa’s Workshop Knockout” streetfight won by Awesome Kong and a “Reindeer” ladder match that ended up with A.J. Styles dressed as a reindeer. Yep. That’s Thursday nights from 9 to 11 p.m., folks. Or, if you are in possession of a time machine, it used to air Monday nights on TBS.

And Finally … Do yourself a favor and make a point of checking out this year’s “Tribute To The Troops” on Monday night. Sure, it may be tough to sell your family members on skipping some stop-motion animated show from the 1970s to watch wrestling on Christmas Eve, but even the non-wrestling fans will be touched by the reception the troops give to WWE.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of December 7-13, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Special Raw 15th Anniversary Edition
It’s hard to imagine a world where at least two hours of your week is not devoted to plopping yourself down in front of a television somewhere and watching wrestling. Of course, as with most things in the industry today, this can be directly attributed to WWE.

Fifteen years ago … well, to be accurate, 14 years and 11 months ago … WWF Monday Night Raw made its hour-long debut on the USA Network. The reaction was mixed at first. Characters such as the recently resurrected (for one night only) Goon and Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz were fairly typical of that time period.

Soon thereafter, though, the race to the proverbial bottom began when WWF’s Attitude Era began and shock value became the most effective sales device the company had ever seen. Gimmicky characters were shelved, lady wrestlers became Divas, and people everywhere were greeting each other with crotch chops. Life—for the business—at least, was good.

Throughout it all, Raw remained the industry standard for televised wrestling, even when it was lagging behind the competition. When WCW overtook its competitor to the north, oftentimes exposing the fundamental flaws with Vince McMahon’s product, the business was never hotter. And, like a snake in the grass biding its time, WWE waited for the right moment to make its move.

In the end, it was WWF/E that ended up outlasting the competition and cornering the market, culminating with the company buying up all of the competition and plucking only the most marketable talent to add to its roster. Additionally, fans were given greater access into the world behind the curtain in a move that is still talked about to this day.

This past Monday night, WWE celebrated 15 years of live, televised, weekly wrestling by inviting back names of the past as a treat to the fans. And, while the focus of the night was thriving in the tremendously cut-throat television industry, WWE could have just as easily trumpeted the fact that, without Raw, the industry very well may have fallen back into the dark corners from whence it came.

That’s the beautiful conflict that comes with being a wrestling fan today; without WWE and Raw, we’d likely not have much (if anything) as far as televised wrestling, yet with that greater good inevitably comes the bad—and there’s been plenty of bad over the years. But this all-or-none dichotomy is surprisingly common throughout the world of wrestling. Had the industry goliath not pushed the envelope, tried new things, and continued to move forward, there may have been virtually no medium at all.

It’s that thought that all fans should keep in the back of their minds whenever they’re inclined to call out WWE for a lack of passion. Sure, we’ve all had to deal with Doink the Clown and Skinner, but, without them, could we ever truly appreciate the greatness that was Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels? For every Chyna there has been a Trish Stratus. Sure, that’s like comparing apples to she-males, but you see the point. When WWE fails, or goes in one direction that doesn’t garner the type of fan reaction it had hoped for, it often ends up with a repackaging until it gets at least part of it right. Raw has made as many stars as it has dispatched cheesy characters.

So, it’s with great conflict—and appreciation—that we at “The Turn” thank Raw for 15 interesting years of programming. Without Raw, the people would have no champion, kissing one’s ass would not be an induction, and our electric bills would never get paid. Keep up the morbidly intriguing work, Raw.

The Abbreviated Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (12/7)
In the night’s main event, Edge and Kane went to a no contest after the “Rated R Superstar” introduced a chair into the proceedings, which then, in turn, brought both Batista and The Undertaker into the ring in the hopes of pimping the Smackdown World title match this Sunday at Armageddon.

Raw (12/10)
We’re not sure which was harder to stomach: Hulk Hogan’s rambling “Greatest Company In The World” promo, complete with a plug for his new American Gladiators gig, or the animatronic Mae Young taking on Mr. McMahon’s hip like a dog in heat. Both left us a little queasy and feeling sorry for the elderly. Oh, and for the record, Sunny still gives us that uneasy, weak-in-the knees-feeling she did in high school.

ECW (12/11)
Sometimes we here at “The Turn” tend to be a bit hard on Smackdown World champ Batista. Truth is, there are times even we enjoy his fireworks and limited moveset. But, in giving credit where it’s due, his spear on Elijah Burke who was flying off the top turnbuckle was one of the most devastating we’ve seen in a long time. Find that clip online and be prepared to cringe—it’s worth it.

Impact (12/13)
Christopher Daniels was fired last night when he opened his “Feast Or Fired” briefcase to reveal that he ended up with the pink slip and not a title match. While we can’t imagine a TNA world without the “Fallen Angel,” reality would indicate that at some point soon Daniels will find a way to work his way back into a six-sided ring. Until then, we bid the man good luck.

And Finally …
With WWE’s Armageddon pay-per-view taking place this Sunday, the spotlight is being firmly affixed on the Raw World title match between current champ Randy Orton and our wrestling savior Chris Jericho. Naturally, the crack team of researchers at “Turn” headquarters looked back at both competitors’ records in singles title matches at Armageddon and the result is interesting. Both men are 1-0 in singles championship matches, with each capturing the Intercontinental title. Orton took the strap from Rob Van Dam at the 2003 edition of the show, with Y2J capturing the gold from Chyna at the first Armageddon in 1999. We’re going to give the nod to Orton on Sunday. Y2J just doesn’t seem to be back to championship form just yet.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 30-December 6, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

There’s a phrase that’s bandied about far too much in sports; however, every so often, it fits perfectly.

That phrase: “bush league.”

Ask any 50 people and you’ll likely get 50 different interpretations, yet the common thread amongst them all would be the same. “Bush league” refers to something that’s not ready for the big-time or is of low quality. The term allegedly originated as a reference to low-level minor league baseball that was played on thrown-together fields that were lined with shrubs.

To our good friends at TNA: The “Feast Or Fired” battle royal at Turning Point was cheesy enough, but to delay the opening of the briefcases another week in a clear ploy to try to keep fans interested is, in fact, bush league.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (11/30)
Last Friday night marked the surprising and pleasant return of Teddy Long to the blue brand, as the affable general manager wasted no time making his presence known. Following the melee of a main event in which The Undertaker cost Edge his most recent shot at the Smackdown World title in a particularly fierce bout with Batista, Long announced that the three would meet with the gold on the line at Armageddon this Sunday. While it’s great to have Long back—and it is—is anyone else concerned as to the whereabouts of his paramour, Kristal? I mean, the heart issues and lack of a wedding must have been very traumatizing on her, and yet, while Teddy was on the shelf, we heard nothing from the would-be Mrs. Long. With all the difficulty in her life right now, she must be in a fragile state. Thank goodness that she at least has her job with WWE and major on-screen exposure coming her way, right? Oh that sweet, sweet job of hers. No way would that ever be taken away, thus sweeping a ridiculous angle under a huge rug never to be seen again. Being such a dominant part of Smackdown for so long guarantees that the story of these star-crossed lovers will be finally told, no? There’s no way that WWE would ever let such an emotionally distraught woman—who nearly lost the love of her life—languish in obscurity … again. Right?

Raw (12/3)
It is official: While we’re still on the Triple-H bandwagon for the time being, the innuendo to his famous familial links needs to stop now. Not next week or the week after, but now. This week, once again, Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon made reference to his father-in-law on Raw in a segment meant to illustrate just how evil the 11-time World champion can be when gold is on the line. Hunter promised that he would pedigree members of his own family, including his father-in-law, to win a world title. Naturally, the fans went nuts for this reference, as anytime “The Game” chisels away at the ruins of the fourth wall, we all tend to feel as if we’re a part of some inside angle. We at “The Turn” actually have a more cynical (shocking, I know) take on the whole situation, which is: they’re screwing with us all. They know fans eat garbage like that up and, naturally, they feed us and string us along with such kibbles. There’s nothing insider or, at this point, clever, about it. There are three great truths in wrestling: 1. Hulk Hogan will always be orange, 2. Everyone’s convinced that it will never be as good as it used to be, and 3. Triple-H is married into the McMahon family. The sooner we accept all of those the quicker we can move past it.

ECW (12/4)
How come, since the borders between Tuesday and Friday nights were officially opened, fans haven’t been treated to weekly, big-name matches occurring on both ECW and Smackdown? Sorry, correction: Why aren’t the big dogs from Smackdown making the appearances on ECW that the top guy(s) of ECW do for Smackdown? Oh, occasionally you’ll get an appearance here and there, but is a mélange of mediocrity really something that is going to get fans excited about either brand? On one hand, the situation is damn-near unwatchable from any perspective unless you’re a fan of someone specific; on the other hand, it’s the most riveting thing we’ve seen since the XFL. That’s right, we invoked the only three letters Vince McMahon despises more than “F,” “B,” and “I.” Seeing the company flounder in such a way gives off the impression that everything is sort of being run—from an ECW perspective—minute to minute in some of the most dreadfully compelling television in existence today.

Impact (12/6)
Okay, so what, exactly, is Rellik supposed to be? Now, don’t get us wrong, we actually like what the creature formerly known as Johnny Stamboli does in the ring. He’s strong as hell, very quick, and utilizes his low center of gravity to his advantage. Plus, we’re all for guys re-inventing themselves and letting some of their darker side shine through. What throws us off about the whole situation is the way Rellik appears to be kind of a demonic gladiator with mask, yet he runs with Black Reign, who is more “crap, they sent me silver instead of gold paint.” Lumping freaks solely because they are freaks is not something we advocate here at “The Turn.” Keep you freaks separate unless absolutely necessary and let guys like Rellik cut their own path.

And Finally …
Forty-nine years ago today one of the most reviled rulebreakers in wrestling history was born in the wrestling hotbed of Minnesota. While “Ravishing” Rick Rude’s tenure with then-WWF was brief, his imprint on the company was lasting. Sporting personalized, air-brushed tights and a catchy self-introduction that’s still ripped-off to this day, Rude quickly became as hated as he was talented. Sadly, it’s been over eight years since Rude passed away due to heart failure.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 23-29, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

It’s not often that “The Turn” focuses its collective attention on something outside of the world of the industry’s televised product, but given the current state of things in the ongoing saga of the Hogan family, and the surprising amount of e-mails we’ve received asking us to address it, the time feels right to issue an official statement.

For anyone not following the news, Hogan’s had arguably one of the worst stretches of time of any celebrity in recent memory. Currently going through what promises to be an ugly divorce as well as the rapidly unfolding legal trouble surrounding his son’s auto accident earlier this year, Hogan’s 2008 doesn’t appear to be taking shape any better than the end of his 2007 is going.

Because of this, we at “The Turn” have made an executive decision to not discuss the Hogan situation after today. While we’re not going to ignore the situation, we find it’s best to leave personal issues to the people involved and the parasitic mainstream press that makes a living off of them. And, although Hogan is still considered one of the most popular wrestling figures in the world, it just doesn’t seem right to take shots at someone’s personal issues.

Now, of course, when Hogan and Vince McMahon settle their differences for the thousandth time and this nightmare becomes fodder for an ill-conceived angle on Raw, that will be a different story.

For the time being, let’s just focus our smartassitude where it belongs most—at your television set.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (11/23)
Remember a little over five years ago when Chuck Palumbo was thriving in sexual ambiguity as Billy Gunn’s tag team partner. Together, they rivaled any well-matched team, won the World tag title twice, and were actually named PWI Tag Team of the Year in 2002. Of course, their partnership would come to a strange end during their partnership unification ceremony on Smackdown in 2002. For those of you with the amazing benefit of selective memory, that Palumbo and Gunn—in furtherance of their “are they really?” relationship—planned to cement their union as partners forever, complete with rings and a ceremony. Of course, at said ceremony was the duo’s personal stylist, the equally ambiguous Rico. Okay, memory adequately refreshed? Good. With all of that in mind, somehow—somehow—doesn’t Palumbo’s current homage to Lorenzo Lamas’ Renegade just feel weirder? Yeah, we tend to agree.

Raw (11/26)
The end finally appears nigh for the all-time favorite wrestler in “Turn” history, Ric Flair. This past Monday night, Mr. McMahon finally tossed out an ultimatum that could actually signal the end of Flair’s hall of fame career. In essence, the next match Flair loses, in any manner, will be his last with WWE. Compelling, yes. Likely, who knows—this is wrestling for God’s sake. Everyone retires returns, makes movies, returns, and then retires before returning again. It’s the nature of the business. And, despite having a body that looks like a slowly melting candle, Flair remains one of the most beloved wrestlers on any of the WWE rosters and, while not drawing fans to the arena, he certainly gives them a great match to enjoy once they are there. Very likely, at some point soon, Flair will lose that fateful match and be forced to end his regular, in-ring career with WWE. Of course, he will remain with the company in some capacity and, very likely, in an on-air role. Still, we’ll enjoy the litany of knife-edge chops while they last and encourage you all to do the same.

ECW (11/27)
Shelton Benjamin’s ECW experience has started better than many of his other moves of late, although his match against Shannon Moore on Tuesday night left much to be desired considering the tremendous level of potential that was in the ring. Both Benjamin and Moore have been considered two of WWE’s hottest up-and-coming talent over the past few years yet neither have panned out in a way commensurate with their abilities. Moore followed the Jeff Hardy plan of leaving WWE, heading to TNA, and making the jump back up north, only he couldn’t catch on as a viable mid-card talent. Benjamin is a multi-time former Intercontinental and World tag team champion who seemed poised to make the leap, at some point, to viable main-event contender. A brief stint as a “mama’s boy,” Heat regular, and tag competitor has pushed Benjamin dangerously close to Carlito territory. As a part of ECW, Benjamin will once again be considered a top guy, which should do wonders for the talented South Carolinian’s exposure, whereas Moore should at least get television time. Whether either man takes advantage of this opportunity remains to be seen.

Impact (11/29)
Last night, Booker T made his official Impact in-ring debut with TNA when he squared off with Robert Roode in a short, well-contested match that was used primarily to set up the promotion’s Turning Point pay-per-view this weekend. On Sunday night, Booker will team up with Kaz to take on Christian Cage (who apparently is feuding with everyone now) and Roode. Naturally, Booker made it known that he’ll do whatever it takes to reach his ultimate goal, which would be winning the TNA World championship. While we at “The Turn” have touted the skill of Booker T time and again, something about TNA adding yet another main-eventer that it cannot possibly accommodate fully bothers us upon further review. For every big name TNA brings in, it’s not illogical to think that equates to less television time for someone who’s been with the promotion for years. On top of that, TNA’s heavyweight division is so loaded with randomness right now, that Booker’s inclusion in a mid-card, slapdash tag match sort of gives off a confusing message. Maybe TNA has too many top-tier guys for its own good. Could it be time to thin the herd a bit? While we’re still thrilled to see Booker anywhere on television, the feeling that something is amiss in Orlando is getting harder and harder to shake.

And Finally …
This Sunday, TNA will present its 2007 version of the Turning Point pay-per-view, prompting us to look back one year to last year’s edition. At Turning Point 2006, the enigmatic Abyss won the NWA World title for the first time in his career. Since then, TNA’s top title has change hands four times, between three different men. While that may seem like a lot, TNA’s version of musical titles is still not the winner. Here’s the breakdown:

 

TNA

Abyss
Christian Cage
Kurt Angle
Sting
Angle
 

Raw

John Cena
Vacant
Randy Orton
Triple-H
Orton
Batista
Smackdown

Batista
Undertaker
Edge
Vacant
The Great Khali

 

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 16-22, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Everyone here at “The Turn” wishes anyone out there in cyber land a very happy belated Thanksgiving. To our international readers, and there are quite a few, Thanksgiving is the day we Americans celebrate how thankful we are that the Christmas shopping season is mere hours away. Hell, it’s something along those lines. Frankly, we forget at this point.

One thing, as wrestling fans, we are thankful for is the return of all-time favorite Chris Jericho to professional wrestling. While the lead-up to his return was anticlimactic, the actual realization that Y2J would once again be gracing a WWE ring just seemed right by our standards. Will he save WWE, as promised? Who knows; more importantly, who cares. Jericho is a hell of a wrestler who’s just fun to watch, which is more than can be said about most of the WWE roster right now.

Still, and we know it’s only been one night, but who else is waiting for the inevitable and highly entertaining rulebreaker turn? Us, too.

Now, put down the drumstick, take off that ridiculous hat with the buckle, and enjoy “The Turn”—putting folks to sleep quicker than any amount of tryptafan since 2006.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (11/16)
For one, it is his first taste of WWE championship gold; for the other, it may actually be a huge step back in his career. Last Friday night the inevitable finally happened when the unlikely tandem of MVP and Matt Hardy finally imploded with The Miz and John Morrison being the beneficiaries, an equally mismatched duo. For Miz, being one-half of the Smackdown World tag team champs is a big deal; for Morrison it’s not only old hat at this point, but perhaps an indicator that he just can’t do it alone for the most part. His brief stint as ECW champion—one in which he tweaked the rules more often than not to retain his gold—was largely forgettable and little more than a precursor to the C.M. Punk administration. Now that he’s apparently back in the tag ranks, and the John Morrison as a full-time main-eventer period appears to be in a holding pattern, it should be interesting to see where ECW as a brand—and Morrison as a viable singles wrestler—goes from here.

Raw (11/19)
Ever get that feeling that you’re looking at something or someone for the last time? It’s that feeling you get the last day of a trip when you give the area surrounding your hotel one last glimpse as if to cement all the great memories into the annals of your mind so that you can fondly recall them in the future. Anyone else get that feeling Monday night with Carlito? With rumors circulating on a near daily basis that the talented yet seemingly unmotivated former Intercontinental champ may be nearing his end days with WWE, it was terribly disappointing to see Carlito in a joke of a match with Hornswoggle on Raw. Although his future with Stamford seems to be uncertain for the time being, Carlito will certainly turn up somewhere. Still, it’s hard to deny that our hopes for him in WWE far exceeded what he was able to accomplish.

ECW (11/20)
As the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season commences with the busiest shopping day of the year, we direct our attention now to one of the most time-tested strategies in all of professional wrestling—the repackaging. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen (who the hell are we kidding … just gentlemen), if there’s a wrestler who may show signs of talent, or simply fits the physical makeup you’re looking for in your promotion, yet they’re just not getting over with the fanbase, you can pull them off the airwaves for an undetermined period of time, rebuild their image, and then reintroduce them into the wild. Take, for instance, Kevin Thorn, who has gone from menacing, blood-drinking scourge of the night to spiky-haired, unitarded grappler in the span of a month. Now, we at “The Turn” are of the opinion that it wasn’t the look that hurt Thorn as much as it was his cardboard personality and choppy in-ring performances, but what do we know? Still, if our collective high school experiences are any indicator, Thorn’s next image leap will be into the pseudo emo drama club guy prior who writes his own poetry and smokes clove cigarettes.

Impact (11/22)
Were it not for our sobering up far too soon following Thanksgiving dinner, it would appear that Thursday’s episode of Impact was either a tribute to, or rip-off of, an old-school edition of WCW’s Nitro. Complete with a turkey suit and show-dominating sketch that took place in the Angle family living room, TNA’s first Thanksgiving-themed episode of Impact was actually filled with some entertaining matches in spite of the silliness. Giving some credit where it’s due, the main event of the evening, the Turkey Bowl final between Samoa Joe, Chris Sabin, and A.J. Styles, ended up being a borderline Match Of The Year candidate, with Joe coming out on top. Still, in a world where we’re supposed to ignore reality for a couple of hours, how many people were confused at the speed with which people were able to get to and from the Angle household and the Impact Zone? Either the highly successful Angle family secured prime real estate in Universal Studios (most likely near the Jaws ride) or (gasp) it was taped in advance. Must have been all the pre-holiday nog, but something just didn’t sit right about the evening. Far too Russo for our liking.

And Finally …
Ten years ago today, Scott Hall—who will be making his in-ring return to TNA next weekend at Turning Point—won a 60-man battle royal at WCW’s World War 3 to earn a shot at then WCW World champion Sting. Although he was unsuccessful in his bid to capture World championship gold, Hall’s tenure in WCW was considered the hallmark of his career and the defining period of his wrestling resume.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 9-15, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

It’s unanimous—the entire staff at “The Turn” (which consists mostly of opinionated folks who compare notes with me, your writer)—is glad to see Booker T back in wrestling after an abbreviated absence. Booker is truly one of the all-time greats who does not get nearly the level of respect a man with his wrestling resume should.

Now, Booker in TNA … that’s something on which we’re not entirely sold on.

Of course, we’ll take our Booker anyway we can get him, be it TNA or anywhere, but there’s just something about seeing the man in a six-sided ring next to Jim Cornette that doesn’t feel right yet.

With time, things may change and someday seeing Booker T come down to the ring to a Casio keyboard version of his trademark theme song (which apparently is owned by someone in Stamford) might seem normal. Hell, we’ve accepted it with Kurt Angle and, to a greater degree, Christian Cage. I suppose the old adage of begging and choosing would be appropriate here, but in reality, we’re just snobs when it comes to wrestling.

The Week In Televised Wrestling

Smackdown (11/9)
Historically, we’ve tended to be a bit harsh on Rey Mysterio Jr. in this column. It’s not that we don’t love Rey’s ability or this enthusiasm for the sport—because we absolutely do. Without any reservation, “The Turn” fully endorses Rey as one of the greatest pure wrestlers in the sport today. It’s just the way he was being used (notice the operative word there—used) by WWE that bothered us most. His improbable Smackdown World title run still irks us in so many ways, it’s painful. However, Rey’s vicious and increasingly personal feud with Finlay has once again kept us all riveted to the high-flyer and, at times, we’ve found ourselves lost in the impressive nature of what would otherwise be considered a throw-away angle. We’ve always loved Finlay and, try as we might, we can’t find anything with his current angle with Rey to make us feel any differently. Skip the bathroom break and check this one out if you haven’t thus far.

Raw (11/12)
Comedy has its place in any form of entertainment, even professional athletics, and especially wrestling. When done properly, it’s doesn’t disrespect the sport, nor does it insult the fans’ intelligence or steal their precious television viewing ability. Now, when comedy is done, as the scholars say, half-assedly, then you get what we were all treated to on Monday night. The segment on Raw showcased Hornswoggle’s training session against Jonathan Coachman dressed as The Great Khali. It was filmed earlier in the day in an empty arena to no doubt protect the very health of the participants, as either the fans’ revolution or comatose lack of response would have severely injured those involved. Truly, among many flawed segments we’ve been subjected to in recent months, this one ranks up there as one of the absolute worst. It’s an awful use of Jonathan Coachman and a damn shame that William Regal was included at all (we had such high hopes).

ECW (11/13)
So, the other night, the “Turn” offices’ super-exclusive, virtually non-existent phone lines were abuzz with activity and all regarding ECW. Of course, the concern was not over Big Daddy V’s cholesterol count or whether we would be treated to yet another Punk-Morrison match, but rather whether or not our fellow fans were even watching ECW at all. See, for those of you who missed it (and, again, the numbers indicate it was most of you), the opening match on this Tuesday’s episode consisted of The Hardys—of Raw and Smackdown fame—taking on Mr. Kennedy and MVP, from the same brands. That’s right—the referee was the most ECW part of the match. Hell, if the lead-in to the show wasn’t something that resembled Stargate shot by guys we went to high school with, we would have had no clue what channel we were watching or, for that matter, what day of the week it was.

Impact (11/15)
She doesn’t get much of it, but here’s a little love thrown the way of Awesome Kong. Frankly, there’s a good chance that, with a little TLC, she may calm down just a bit and give her eye sockets a rest. Seriously, they’re going to pop right the hell out of her head if she doesn’t just ease back a bit and enjoy the fact that were if she the longest tenured Knockout in TNA, she would very likely be the current women’s champion instead of the object of her disdain, Gail Kim. Regardless, few can argue just how physically dominating Kong truly is. It’s only a matter of time before she does capture the gold and goes on a long and dominant championship run.

And Finally …
With Survivor Series a little over two days away, we go back to the last edition of the event to be held in the lovely “Sunshine State”—the 2000 Survivor Series held in Tampa. In one of the strangest finishes not involving Montreal, the main event saw “Stone-Cold” Steve Austin battle to a no-contest with Triple-H in a no-disqualification match. How does one go to a no-contest in a match where you cannot be disqualified? Well, the answer’s simple—drop your opponent, who’s managed to work his way into a car—off of a car lift. Ta-da! Strange, but entertaining. Here’s to hoping someone gets dropped from something on Sunday.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of November 2-8, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

The Fabulous Moolah was, throughout her career, one of a kind. Many followed, and almost all copied, but no one female wrestler truly was able to capture the spirit, ability, and overall determination of Moolah.

While “The Turn” generally shies away from eulogizing wrestlers who have passed, we felt compelled to give the greatest lady wrestler—as Moolah preferred to be called—in the history of the sport her due. As champion for nearly three decades in a sport where most competitors don’t last more than 10 years, Moolah became synonymous with women’s wrestling. And, spending the majority of her career as a rulebreaker seemed to work well for Moolah as she seemed to dispatch, with ease, every upstart fan favorite she encountered.

Although her role in recent years had become more of a traveling novelty act, playing second fiddle to the amazingly uncomfortable pseudo-sexual exploits of long-time friend Mae Young, Moolah still drew a reaction each time she appeared in an arena with WWE. Parents pointed her out to their kids who stared in wide-eyed amazement at a woman—older than most of their grandmothers—who could still take a bump or two in the ring. Moolah’s appeal transcended generations of fans and influenced nearly all of today’s would-be women’s champions.

Still, the most impressive feat Moolah ever accomplished was living a long and fulfilling life. In an era where wrestlers—both male and female—seem to die well before their time, Moolah persevered and lived her life to the fullest. She never forgot her wrestling roots while being mindful to make a life for herself outside of the ring. Her ability to not fall into the traps that seem to befall celebrity athletes may be her greatest accomplishment of all.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (11/2)
We at “The Turn” never thought we’d ask this question but, what happened to The Spirit Squad? Now, wait, hear us out for a second. We’re not advocating a return of the group, but rather questioning whatever happened to the component parts that were supposed to be building up followings so that fans would care about them after the group’s inevitable demise. Take, for example, Kenny Dykstra who is the only remaining member on weekly WWE television. He was considered to be the crown jewel of the group and, by far, the most ready for a spot on one of the three brands. To say that Dykstra has been used sparingly would be an understatement and, when he does get some face time, it’s less than memorable. Still, we’re going to hold out for the former Squaders to make their mark someday; however, it’s hard not to feel angry at the fact that, as fans, we were subjected to hours of goofiness with absolutely minimal payoff thus far.

Raw (11/5)
The DX traveling road show made one “final” appearance together on Monday night, kicking things off by nearly inducting every strange figure not named Snitsky into the faction for the evening while simultaneously tearing down the already crumbling “fourth wall” of television by reviewing the programming sheet for the night’s show. For DX detractors and supporters, the opening segment of Raw certainly provided plenty of material to support their respective causes. At its worst, the segment was hacky, repetitive, and completely pointless. Like anyone really thought that the likes of Hornswoggle or The Boogeyman would be a DX member for the night—c’mon. Still, DX was once again at its finest when Shawn Michaels pulled the run sheet—the nightly itinerary for the television breakdown that’s given to all the wrestlers—from his boot so that Triple-H could read from it to illustrate to Hornswoggle that he wasn’t part of the plan. The segment, at times, came off masterfully, but we at “The Turn” are okay with this latest last run being the curtain call.

ECW (11/6)
It’s the same damn thing each week on ECW. Literally. Every week the hardcore-ish brand re-does the same show. This week, however, they took things to a whole new level by borrowing an angle from Smackdown as part of the new “What’s Ours Is Yours” policy WWE has seemingly created. Since opening the floodgates between ECW and Smackdown and allowing members of each brand to appear on the other’s programs, ECW has actually gotten more obscure and, in some cases, less watchable. For example, Kelly Kelly—the vapid pseudo-wrestler—will now be playing the role of Jamie Noble for the ECW brand as The Miz forces her into matches with women far superior to her. Naturally, Kelly is being defeated and humiliated in a manner similar to Noble’s fruitless ventures (which we loved) against Smackdown’s top guys. Unfortunately, it’s not working, nor is it very entertaining, but that’s become the hallmark of Tuesday nights as of late.

Impact (11/8)
Relax fans of TNA—Scott Hall will not be Sting’s mystery partner at Genesis. Put down the remote and feel good about shelling out your hard earned coin for the pay-per-view. Everything’s going to be okay. Last night, Hall announced to a bewildered Kevin Nash, and a relieved rest of the world, that he will not be returning to TNA (yet) to pair with Sting at Genesis, leaving the true participant’s identity up for continued debate. Really, anyone who is currently not wrestling for WWE would seem to be a possibility. However, the hot money is on none other than Booker T filling the role. TNA has historically been very good about surprise acquisitions (Kurt Angle) as well as making the non-surprises seem exciting (Sting). Still, we at “The Turn” are going to place our bet on a triumphant Jeff Jarrett return. Okay, not really, but you just got a little pit in your stomach, didn’t you? Enjoy that feeling until Sunday.

And finally …
Today is a special day in the lives of wrestling fans as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the infamous Montreal Screwjob that officially marked the end of Bret Hart’s tenure with WWE and gave fans ample opportunity to speculate as to the motivation and authenticity of the event. Since that date, Hart has been openly critical of WWE, appearing only sparingly on behalf of the organization, and even then only to promote career retrospective merchandise. Conversely, the other participants of the Screwjob—most notably Shawn Michaels and Triple-H—have gone on to long, successful careers with WWE that included multiple World title reigns, phenomenal wealth, and marriage of the boss’ daughter. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to “time to play the game,” doesn’t it?

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 26-November 1, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

You know how there are times where you’ll hear a word repeated over and over until it gets to the point where it doesn’t even make sense? You know, like falafel (go ahead, try it). And, of course, there are those words that really are absurd to begin with, yet with constant repetition go from goofy to just plain irritating, like glamizon.

While we at “The Turn” love—love—Beth Phoenix, we will gladly spearhead the national call for the word glamizon to be retired back to whatever 1950s B-movie skin flick from whence it came. Just look at the word in writing: glamizon. According to PWI Managing Editor Lisa Rocchi, the combination of two words to create a third word is called portmanteau (it’s true, look it up). In the case of Beth Phoenix, the word is meant to be descriptive of her stature—apparently Amazonian—and her celebrated femininity—hence, the glamorous. Is it even a compliment? Actually, it doesn’t seem like it. The backhanded “compliment” glamizon is akin to your high school crush telling you that you have a great personality and she treasures your friendship, right Heather? Right?!

Wait, where were we? Ah, that’s right—portmanteau.

So, with no real benefit to Phoenix other than obscuring her hotness through tough imagery and a painful overuse on a weekly basis, we at “The Turn” beg WWE to, please—for the children—kill this word dead, throw it in the stocks in town square, and make it an example for all other asinine words.

Oh, and since we’re calling out wrestling vernacular, you’re officially put on notice, slobberknocker. That’s right, we’ll take on anyone.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (10/26)
As if the scene at Smackdown hasn’t been strange enough lately, the bizarre circumstances surrounding the injury that kept Matt Hardy out of action at Cyber Sunday really throws the spotlight on the faltering state of Friday nights. During his non-title tag match with partner MVP against Cyber Sunday opponents Finlay and Rey Mysterio Jr., Hardy caught the edge of Mysterio’s knee brace, which opened up a 17-stitch-worthy cut right at his hairline and gave him one of the nastiest gashes since Bob Holly’s table-shredded back. The beauty part of it: Hardy impressively finished the bout despite losing a tremendous amount of blood and stumbling around the ring like a drunken prom date. The better part: There was no MVP-Hardy boxing match possibility at Cyber Sunday. Sure, we all had to suffer through a countout victory for Hardy’s replacement Kane over MVP. Thus, WWE committed robbery—in roughly $40 increments—yet again. Adding the star power of ECW should go a long way into helping maim, if not completely kill, the blue brand.

Shame they have no shot—none—of landing Chris Jericho on the blue brand.

Raw (10/29)
For those of you who haven’t gotten sick of the “she’s out of your league” storyline, or just don’t care to watch it on Tuesday nights when ECW runs the same damn thing between Mahoney and Kelly Kelly, Raw offers up for your viewing pleasure the tale of forlorn would-be lovers Mickie James and Trevor Murdoch. Ever since Murdoch cost him and partner Lance Cade their mixed tag match against James and her partners Paul London and Brian Kendrick, the former women’s champion has been mildly flirtatious with the Deliverance knockoff leading to tension between the tag champs. How will this play out? Who knows? More importantly, does anyone really care at this point? The fact that WWE is currently running the same mismatched couple angle on two of its three brands is not only infuriating, it’s also lazy. We can try to find a difference between the two, but what’s the point? Unless this ends up with either James revealing she’s really a man (no shot) or Murdoch spontaneously bursting into flames (too messy), this is something we can all do without.

Oh, and we still await Jericho on the red brand—still.

ECW (10/30)
Completing the proverbial 0-fer this week in the finest television Stamford has to offer, WWE celebrated Devil’s Night/Mischief Night by treating the fans to a “Monster Mash” battle royal on ECW. Pitting all four massive behemoths—Kane, Mark Henry, The Great Khali, and Big Daddy V—in the same ring against each other in a more formalized setting was exactly what, well, none of the fans were clamoring for after the brief confrontation of the massive quartet a few weeks back. For the sake of keeping records—and we all know how much WWE loves historical accuracy—Mark Henry outlasted the other 1,231 pounds of humanity (we counted) to emerge victorious. His prize: He’s the most agile slow man in WWE.

Well … Chris Jericho was in ECW once, right? Maybe there’s a slight chance … ah, hell. Forget it.

Impact (11/1)
Unfortunately for the nihilists among you, the week in televised wrestling wasn’t a total loss, although you had to really pay attention or else you would have missed one of the only redeeming moments of the past week. While TNA has encountered its fair share of problems over the past month—most notably the complete lack of well-developed angles and a veritable plethora of random mid-card matches—there is actually a tandem of wrestlers who, if used correctly, could restore the faith of everyone here at the “Turn” offices on Thursday nights. As the Motor City Machine Guns—a throwback to their ROH Murder City Machine Gun days—Alex Shelly and Chris Sabin have made the most of being mired in a rehashed angle with Team 3D, taking over the role once held by Kevin Nash as resident X division haters. Shelly and Sabin, when focused (and, hence, not pimping a Jackass movie or playing art house movie hero) have consistently been two of the most exciting wrestlers on the TNA roster. Likely, this angle won’t go very far and the Machine Guns will go their separate ways once again much sooner than they should. But, for the time being, keep an eye on this duo and enjoy.

In the spirit of the recently passed Halloween season, we’re reminded of the long-deceased WCW pay-per-view Halloween Havoc, naturally. Hardcore fans of wrestling might be able to recall that the main event of the first ever Havoc, which took place at the Philadelphia Civic Center in 1989, featured five all-time legends of the ring. That night, Sting and Ric Flair defeated The Great Muta and Terry Funk in a match officiated by none other than Bruno Sammartino. Amazing, right? Well, what those very same fans may not be able to recall is what the very last main event in Halloween Havoc history was. From the wrestling Mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada, Bill Goldberg defeated the team of Brian Adams and Bryan Clark (collectively known as Kronik) in a handicap elimination match in a lusty 3 minutes 35 seconds. Amazing what 11 years and a blinding amount of mismanagement can do, eh?

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 19-25, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Something’s not right in Raw land.

WWE has come outright at times and admitted that injuries and unforeseen occurrences (such as the Benoit tragedy) have hurt its flagship program and forced the brand to reorganize and thus lose the momentum of the direction in which it was headed. Momentum has been hard to come by for the brand and, with devastating injuries to Bobby Lashley, John Cena, and, most recently, Candice Michelle, things don’t appear to be headed for a renaissance anytime soon.

In the past, WWE would do something outrageous or bring in someone—even if only for a short run—that would spur interest in its programming. It was shameless, beautiful pandering, and we, as fans, ate up every last bit and came back for seconds more often than not. With ratings struggling and fan interest waning, now seems like one of those times where the company should consider such a move.

Sadly, WWE seems content with maintaining the status quo and simply forging ahead with the crew it has. Even if it takes our advice and goes for the cheap pop of yesteryear, it still doesn’t bode well for the future. This was a time where WWE could have showed us all that it could maintain entertaining angles and build charismatic personalities in spite of all its personnel issues. Instead, history will show that the company plugged along until that one big bump it received due to some one-shot gimmick.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (10/19)
We at “The Turn” have never hid our disdain with WWE’s tremendously poor handling of its cruiserweight division. Consider this: There hasn’t been a cruiserweight champion for nearly a month since Hornswoggle was stripped of the gold and, honestly, has anyone noticed? Still, in spite of our issues with the company’s degradation of a once-prestigious championship, we are enjoying very much the resurgence of Jamie Noble as a member of the Smackdown brand. Sure, his primary role each week is to annoy acting General Manager Vickie Guerrero just enough to earn himself a world-class ass-kicking at the hands of one of WWE’s top big men, but something about the whole thing works for us. Noble, when given the opportunity to showcase his talent, is a very impressive wrestler and a multi-time former champion in various promotions. At the very least—if WWE is intent on phasing out the cruiserweight strap—he’s getting some television time as part of an entertaining enough angle to keep fans remembering that he’s still with the company. Call it the silver lining of a massive injustice if you must, but we’ll take whatever we can get.

Raw (10/22)
With so much negativity swirling around the Raw brand right now, there was one huge positive to come out of this past Monday night, and that was the official WWE television debut of D.H. Smith. Known as Harry Smith throughout his time with Stampede Wrestling and in WWE’s developmental system, the 6'5" son of Davey Boy Smith debuted with an impressive victory over perennial disappointment Carlito. While Smith’s dedication of the match to his father was touching enough, finishing off his opponent with Davey Boy’s patented running powerslam absolutely stole the show. It’s common to hear a phenomenal amount of hype for much of WWE’s developmental talent, but Smith could be the real deal for once.

ECW (10/23)
When Kane is the most innovative and quick of all the competitors in the ring, something’s wrong … until you look at the competition. Kane gained a disqualification victory over Big Daddy V on ECW earlier this week after fellow monstrosities Mark Henry and The Great Khali took it upon themselves to intervene in the match. What followed was a series of individual battles that actually made a three-toed sloth rolling around in molasses seem like a riveting watch. Kane, who successfully defended himself against the advances of all three attackers, was literally two to three seconds ahead of each competitor, which translated to painfully bad television. We get it—they’re all really big and strong. But if there is any credence to the argument that WWE has imposed a premium on big men with little ability, this was absolutely it.

Impact (10/25)
Oh, good lord … here it goes again. Everyone stay calm. We at “The Turn” are certified wrestling promotion suicide specialists and are well equipped to deal with the current series of events that TNA has conducted. We recognize how confusing last night’s sloppy finish of the Kurt Angle-Sting TNA title match was. We are also all in agreement over the confusing nature with which Jim Cornette proposed to resolve it in a tag team match involving Kevin Nash and a mystery opponent at Genesis. And, yes, we too have heard the David Arquette rumors. But, hopefully this is merely just a stumbling point for TNA as it struggles to find its legs in the world of two-hour programming and not the proverbial “beginning of the end,” as many other websites have forecasted. Sure, it certainly feels that way, and yes TNA does in fact employ the Silver Surfer of professional wrestling in Vince Russo, but who’s to say this isn’t the start of something great, right? Right?

Finally, with WWE’s interactive pay-per-view Cyber Sunday taking place this weekend, it’s interesting to point out that the first ever match in the history of this three-year old card (when it was originally called Taboo Tuesday) saw Shelton Benjamin capture the Intercontinental title from none other than Chris Jericho.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 12-18, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Reports have surfaced through various outlets that, during WWE’s recent tour of the U.K., a great many—if not all—signs were confiscated from the fans entering the arena in yet another sign of fun-killing by the fat cats up at Stamford.

Okay, so “fun-killing” may be a bit harsh. Please pardon our hearkening back to third-grade accusatory name-calling. It’s just that fan-made signs at a wrestling event—when they’re well done—are as much a part of the fabric of America as apple pie, rock ’n’ roll, and childhood obesity.

Actually, we at “The Turn” don’t have much of a problem with signs being confiscated. At the next WWE event you attend, try to get there a little earlier than usual, when arena security is more concerned with securing the paying customers than taking away their laminated odes to their favorite wrestlers. At least 80 percent of all signs that show up at the beginning of a WWE event are confiscation-worthy. They’re either bulky, pointless, or bulky and pointless.

While there’s really no sure-fire way of creating the perfect, “no way in hell they’ll take this one” sign for a WWE event, we do have a few suggestion for those of you who so desperately feel the need to ask Melina to marry you via cardboard.

First, be “inside,” but not too inside with your references. It’s fine to refer to a wrestler of the past, but if you’re too cryptic, the security will think your sign is an homage to a friend of yours or local radio show offering prizes for getting their names on the show.

Next, and we can’t stress this enough, it never hurts to be as cheesy as possible when constructing a sign. Try this: Think of something that would make you chuckle for a second and then want to slap the person that wrote it. Got it? Now write that on your sign and avoid the use of glitter, Internet rumors, or magazine cutouts. You’re a sign-maker for God’s sake. You’re better than that.

Finally, and most importantly, leave the damn signs at home if you’re going to a non-televised event. The wrestlers can’t read it, there’s no television cameras to capture it, and it’s highly likely that the construction worker sitting two spots behind you craning his neck to see the match will insult you—and likely your mother’s chastity—for your efforts.

Stick by these rules and you should be well on your way to wrestling sign immortality. Of course, rules are subject to change, and we at “The Turn” make no guarantees.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (10/12)
We at “The Turn” are desperately trying to figure out why, oh why, Smackdown officials would pit the brand’s tag team champs—one of which also being the U.S. titleholder—up against Kane and The Undertaker in a non-title match. Sure, it’s good for ratings, and, yes, we get that Vickie Guerrero has a job to do, but having two of the top three champions of your brand get absolutely squashed—without the gold even being on the line—just doesn’t look great. Even though both ’Taker and Kane are legends of the sport, it still hurts the brand more than it bumps the ratings numbers. Never have we advocated a team getting itself intentionally disqualified, but this would have been an acceptable case of MVP being MVP in our eyes.

Raw (10/15)
In front a decidedly anti-Randy Orton crowd, the newly crowned Raw World champion went one-for-three over the course of this past Monday, and he’s probably just fine with that. Orton was forced by apparently the most popular man in England, Raw General Manager William Regal, to wrestle all three of his potential Cyber Sunday opponents in the same night. Fortunately for the champ, his opponents were more interested in screwing each other over than winning the match, as both Jeff Hardy and Mr. Kennedy interfered in each other’s respective matches, with only Shawn Michaels getting the best of Orton, and even then by disqualification. What may not seem like a particularly impressive night actually could be seen as an indicator of how sinister and clever Orton is as champion. He’s surveyed the landscape and, for a guy whose previous title reign lasted all of a hot minute, he’s playing the role like a hall of famer.

ECW (10/16)
Choosing between Big Daddy V, The Miz, and John Morrison to face C.M. Punk for the ECW title at Cyber Sunday could possibly be one of the least savory election processes fans have gone through since Eugene and Jimmy Snuka actually fought Rob Conway and Tyson Tomko two years ago at the same event (look it up, it’s true). While we at “The Turn” try not to sway the vote one way or the other, here we feel we need to jump in and make a difference in the interest of fan entertainment. This may come as a surprise, but how nice would it be to see The Miz get beaten silly? Big Daddy V is slow and boring, and we’ve all seen a John Morrison-Punk feud already. Let The Miz have his due, get put to sleep, and give the fans a brief, yet enjoyable, glimpse at whatever remains of Extreme Expose.

Impact (10/18)
Which is a more likely sign that the end of days are soon upon us: TNA crowning and trying to maintain a women’s championship, or the triumphant, two-minute return of Disco Inferno? Yes, we recognize that right here—in the middle of this very column—we discussed the possible virtues and downsides of a TNA women’s division and came to the conclusion that it’s probably not a great thing right now, but that was before the man formerly known as Glen Gilberti dusted off his bell bottoms and resurrected one of the worst personas in the history of not only wrestling, but also hand-to-hand combat. Seriously, studies show that there were cavemen with better gimmicks than Disco Inferno. So, for now, we’ll go with Disco Inferno’s brief return as this week’s ominous sign of things to come. Odd, but wasn’t TNA’s problem originally that it had so much great talent to showcase that one hour simply wasn’t enough?

In closing, wrestling fans everywhere today remember the man who claimed to “snack on danger and dine on death,” Road Warrior Hawk (Michael Hegstrand), who died of a heart attack at age 46 on this day, October 19, in 2003.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of October 5-11, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

2.8?

The night after a pay-per-view in which, and we loosely quote, “history would be made.” Well, unfortunately, it was … the night after. Fans—for whatever reason—were so disenchanted that the night after No Mercy they simply didn’t tune in to Raw. How can this be explained? Let’s give it a shot.

For our fellow disgruntled fans, here’s a brief assessment of the surprisingly low rating for Raw this past Monday night. While things did not seem worthy of such a surprising drop, we can somewhat understand our fellow fans’ malaise. Upon hearing the news that not only had Triple-H won and lost the Raw World title the night before, many of the embittered masses voiced their displeasure in the form of tuning out. Still, here’s our take:

A.  WWE needs a big-name, top-tier fan favorite right now that the fans will support now that John Cena is out for up to a year.
 
B.  WWE historically goes with the "safe" and easy option. For example, when Bret Hart was battling Yokozuna for the gold—and few folks south of Calgary cared—Hulk Hogan was thrust into the title picture and unexpectedly won the strap at WrestleMania IX. Today, the new "go-to" guy is Triple-H. 
 
C.  Triple-H, while marketable as hell and popular, gets hammered because he may be a little too connected to those in charge of WWE.
 
D.  Some fans tend to reject an over-emphasis on the “Cerebral Assassin” while still loving to pound their collective chests each time he succeeds because they feel it verifies their belief about perceived favoritism when in all honesty this has been the company’s trademark over the past 20 years.  

So, that’s our take on the case of the missing viewers. WWE feels as if it’s scurrying to find some common ground on which it can reconnect with fans and keep the product fresh. Unfortunately, that’s not how things appear to the majority of viewers, and situations such as this past Monday night occur.

Fortunately for all of us, WWE tends to react like the parent who feels they’ve punished their child too severely and desperately wants to win back their affection: They’re going to buy us off with anything we want. And, when it comes to WWE, the next overblown step could be hit-or-miss. Yet, we’re guessing that a 2.8 for the flagship program Justifies some televised goodness for the fans as of next Monday night.

Got that, WWE?

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (10/5)
After weeks of promoting their pending arrival and just as many questions as to their Steinbeckian angle, Jesse and Festus debuted on Smackdown, easily defeating Mike Tolar and Chad Collyer in a highly one-sided contest. While both looked solid in their Friday night debut, Festus was of particular interest to one staff member of “The Turn” who pointed out that at numerous times throughout the match the massive brawler seemingly lost his vacant stare and became far more animated—hell, cognizant—of his surroundings. In particular, following the match, Festus was lucky to have Jesse gently remind him that his emotionless expression sort of disappeared. Thank goodness that Festus has Jesse around to keep him expressionless and mired in confusion, right?

Raw (10/8)
Lost in the confusion of Randy Orton’s Raw World title coronation and Shawn Michaels’ surprising return to the roster was an excellent match between Jeff Hardy and Ken Kennedy that saw the risk-taking champion retain the strap. Hindsight being what it is, both men should actually feel cheated as less fans tuned in to see their excellent performance than Raw has seen in a long time. What’s most impressive is that while Monday’s match was just another night for Hardy, the man continues to put his body on the line each time he steps between the ropes. Further, Kennedy looked as impressive, and hungry, as ever. You would think that for a guy who lost his spot in both world title chases, motivation would be a bit lacking. Yet, the best part of the night—that didn’t involve a returning main-eventer—was undoubtedly this overlooked match.

ECW (10/9)
The second major return of the week for WWE occurred on Tuesday night, with former ECW champion John Morrison returning to the ring for the first time since he lost the gold to C.M. Punk and mysteriously disappeared into oblivion. Morrison’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for ECW, which is currently relying on one-trick pony Big Daddy V to carry the brand as the top rulebreaker for the time being. Morrison’s addition to the roster will, at the very least, add another body to the brand so hurting—like the rest of the WWE programs—for top-tier talent. Assuming fans can stomach yet another 6-8 weeks of Punk vs. Morrison, ECW should remain relatively steady. Good luck with that, ECW.

Impact (10/11)
All right, we get it. Everyone’s read the paper, and we’re all in on the slap-fight between TNA and the NFL’s Tennessee Titans over the usage of Adam “Pacman” Jones and what level of involvement he’s allowed to have while part of the promotion. Sure, we thought it was a bit confusing when Team Pacman—Jones and Ron Killings—won the TNA tag team championship. You’d think that with TNA knowing that Jones would be limited in his participation that the duo wouldn’t even be put into a situation where they could possibly win the gold. But, alas, they were and they did. Fine. Now we’re left with a tag team in which one man can wrestle and the other’s greatest contribution is taking his shirt of and scurrying around the ring goading his opponents into easily avoided situations. Does it work? No. Is it a draw? Can’t imagine that it is. Is it insulting to the fans? Probably to some, yet they still go nuts for Team Pacman each time they enter the Impact Zone. We don’t get it and with each passing week we’re unfortunately becoming immune to it. No good can come from this in the long run.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 28-October 4, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Some weeks are lean and others—and they don’t come by often—are not. And, every now and then, you get a week when the wrestling industry has so much going on that all the “Turns” in the world couldn’t adequately capture—and subsequently question—everything that occurred.

Think about the events of the past seven days for a moment. John Cena—the most divisive champion of the past 25 years—is forced to vacate the title due to a terrible injury. TNA finally … finally … makes the leap to two hours with the hopes that mainstream acceptance is soon to follow. Oh, and there’s the little matter of where the much-coveted free agent Chris Jericho may, or may not, show up. Plus, every amateur code breaker this side of Quantico has taken a shot at cracking the "Save_us.222” conundrum (our vote is that it is, indeed, tied to Y2J). Oh, and those fans who have not experienced a Ring of Honor pay-per-view are doing themselves a great disservice.

How will WWE handle the tremendous void both financially and from a programming perspective that the loss of Cena presents them? Can TNA do two hours? Where will Jericho’s eventual return rank amongst the all-time resurrections?

There’s just so much to ponder in the coming weeks that we at “The Turn” encourage you all to bring back the forlorn fans you know who have turned their attention elsewhere—be it improving their physical well-being, spending more time with their families, or donating time to charity—and get them back on the couch and watching wrestling. Hell, there will always be time to visit grandma at the home, but how often do you get to see a vacated world title? Not often, my friends. Not often.

Stay in tonight, watch Smackdown (as if you had a choice, really), and look forward to the weekend. Check out No Mercy at your favorite pub or, if you’re not old enough to get into said watering hole, guilt your folks into ordering it for you. We as fans need to cherish the times when the planets align and the industry is firing on all cylinders.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (9/28)
We here at “The Turn” try our best to not make news in wrestling, but rather just report on it. Hell, to insinuate that we have any pull inside the industry is as laughable as Smackdown having Hornswoggle as its cruiserwe … oh … our bad. See, we had been a tad critical in the past of Hornswoggle McMahon’s controversial cruiserweight title run and, lo and behold, the first task of interim Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero was … ? That’s right: stripping Hornswoggle of the gold. Now, we’re not saying that suddenly WWE has wised up and begun taking our advice on such critical issues, but in the off-chance that such is the case, let’s throw a few more out there. Ban the phrase “Glamazon.” Explain the appeal of Cody Rhodes (he’ll be good down the line, but we’re talking right now). Expand the ECW roster as soon as humanly possible. And finally—and perhaps most importantly—bury Saturday Night’s Main Event once and for all. You’re welcome, in advance.

Raw (10/1)
John Cena’s year-plus title reign came to an unceremonious end earlier this week when it was revealed after Raw went off the air that he had a severely torn right pectoral muscle that would keep him out of action for up to a year. Whether you love Cena or hate him, the fact of the matter is that the guy deserved better than this. Odds were that the seemingly invincible champion would drop the title soon. With Randy Orton and others targeting him more closely than ever, combined with the onset of a shocking breakdown of discipline, Cena seemed more beatable than ever over the past few months. In fact, it was only two weeks ago that Jonathan Coachman threatened to strip Cena of the title. One way or the other, Cena’s waist was going to be naked by Survivor Series, whether it came from a loss in the ring or at the hands of devious executives. Still, the biggest loss in this whole unfortunate event will be felt by the company itself. Absence most certainly makes the heart grow fonder, but unless something is done soon and the walls of complacency are broken down, the ratings could drop even further.

ECW (10/2)
Poor, poor Tommy Dreamer. Seriously, how awful did it feel on Tuesday night—even if you’re not a Dreamer fan—to see the man defy the odds and win the chase to become the number-one contender, only to lose it to the ECW flavor of the month: Sweaty Man Boob, otherwise known as Big Daddy V. The monstrous V, who was written off on multiple occasions as just another massive guy with no wrestling ability, has suddenly become the toast of ECW. With John Morrison still MIA and C.M. Punk experiencing a severe drought of viable competitors, it makes sense that Big Daddy V would be elevated to main-event status through a series of lopsided beatdown victories over marshmallow opponents. Still, fans had to be pulling for Dreamer to come through in the end and get at least a shot at his second ECW title reign. Unfortunately, it appears as if Dreamer will have to make plenty of room for Big Daddy V, and, at the same time, Punk now has a massive task waiting for him on Sunday.

Impact (10/4)
TNA finally made the long-anticipated jump to 120 minutes of weekly airtime last night with a show that was, overall, not bad. At its best, Impact showcased all that TNA has to offer, including up-tempo wrestling (LAX and Samoa Joe were particularly impressive) and relatively intriguing angles (the Team 3D retread somehow came off as entertaining). When it was at its worst (Kurt Angle simply picking up where Jeff Jarrett left off in his feud with Sting), the show dragged and had a distinctly WCW feel to it. Still, it’s the first night and it’s not fair to gauge how this will play out in the long run after one two-hour spot. There will be a maturation process that comes with this move, and we’re betting the fans are loyal enough to wait out the hard times to see where this is headed. Well, we hope so at least.

PWI Acquired By Golden Boy Enterprises Subsidiary

Sports and Entertainment Publications, LLC, is extremely pleased to announce the acquisition of the following titles from Kappa Publishing Group, Inc.: Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, The Ring, KO, and World Boxing, which are the leading periodicals in the wrestling and boxing industries. Sports and Entertainment Publications, LLC, is an autonomous member of Golden Boy Enterprises family of companies.

The Ring was founded in 1922 and is known in the industry as “The Bible of Boxing.” It pioneered the concept of boxing rankings and has been awarding the prestigious Ring championship belt to genuine world champions since then-heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey was the first recipient. Pro Wrestling Illustrated was launched in 1979 by Stanley Weston and is acknowledged as the number one independently published pro wrestling magazine in the world.

 “We have a very skilled and capable team at The Ring, headed by Publisher Stu Saks and Editor-in-Chief Nigel Collins, and I have all the confidence that these magazines will not only continue to prosper, but in fact grow globally,” said Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Enterprises. “These magazines will be held in an editorial trust where they will be operating totally independent of any influence from me or others from the Golden Boy Companies as it relates to editorial direction or content.”

“This is the kind of asset you never really own, but rather safeguard for the next generation,” said Golden Boy Chief Executive Officer Richard Schaefer. “We are proud and honored to be part of this next generation and are mindful of the responsibility trusted upon us.”

 “The Ring and Pro Wrestling Illustrated brands are, in our opinion, two of the strongest and most recognized brands in their respective fields,” said Schaefer. “We are looking forward to being part of the next chapter of these great titles and are very respectful of the deep history of each.”

“Oscar and I would like to thank Nick Karabots and Despina McNulty of Kappa Publishing for giving us this opportunity as well as all fight fans for all they have done for these great magazines during their ownership,” said Schaefer.

De La Hoya continued, “As a young kid growing up I was always waiting with anticipation to get the new issue of The Ring. To be here now and actually own the title is truly a dream come true. We encourage fight fans, fighters, and promoters to rally together and continue in the impressive resurgence our beloved sport of boxing has experienced this year.”

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 21-27, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

An open note to Mark Henry … again:

Miz-ark, Miz-ark, Miz-ark … what happened? We had such high hopes again for you after making yet another return from yet another injury. Now, you’ve been back long enough to do something more than to play second fiddle to The Great Khali, and—guess what—that’s all you did last week. When you earn a nationally televised match against the World champ—albeit non-title—you have to make the most of the situation; hell, at least do it on your own. When Khali interfered, thus costing you the match, any slight credibility you had built as a viable contender to the gold was shot … again.

Frankly, we at “The Turn” officially give up holding out any hope that you can finally come around and win the big one. To us, you’ve officially joined the ranks of underachievers who, despite lady luck mouth kissing them at some point in their careers, could still not take advantage of the situation. You’re every 12th man who somehow made it onto the roster of the team that almost wins the NBA championship. You’re the placeholder that was added to the football team right before the playoffs that goes on to lose the big game because of a botched field goal.

Yeah, that guy.

We’ve tried channeling our angst as a way to hopefully motivate Mark. You know, Internet-column tough love and whatnot. But, alas, our desires were met with more mediocrity and disappointment. At the very least we hoped Mark would ditch his angry image and just return to the always-lovable “Sexual Chocolate”-style ways. Sadly, there would be no chocolate for us, sexual or otherwise.

Oh well. Lesson learned. On to bigger and better things. No way will we be suckered into hitching ourselves to unrecognized potential. Hmm … wonder what Carlito’s up to.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (9/21)
Would you believe that nearly 100 percent of the staff here at “The Turn” is married. No, it’s true. We’ve all basically found someone to rook into a lifelong commitment that includes sports, entertainment, and expansive pay-per-view bills. A simple poll of the “Turn” staff—obviously all of which followed the events of last Friday night’s doomed marriage ceremony between Teddy Long and Krystal Marshall—returned some shocking results. While 100 percent of those males polled said that they were happily married, they also researched how to induce a heart attack to stop the ceremony. Surprisingly, only 50 percent agreed that a “ho-train” is a nice touch to a wedding, whereas 22 percent asked what a “ho-train” was (they were summarily fired). Finally, it was unanimous that having Ron Simmons as one of your groomsmen is 100 percent badass. Get well, Teddy.

Raw (9/24)
It’s either brilliant or completely insane and, given the way things have shaken out for WWE over the past six months from a storyline perspective, we’re willing to guess it’s more of the latter. The most recently overhyped return to the Raw roster did not get the type of fanfare as say a Triple-H or now even Hornswoggle, yet it was still a bit overblown and out of place. As Lilian Garcia proudly announced that Cody Rhodes’ opponent was someone making his return to Raw, everyone’s interest piqued just a bit. When Hardcore Holly stepped through the curtain, concession stands and restrooms were undoubtedly overrun with fans seeking to take advantage of their newfound six minutes of freedom. At the risk of being pummeled into oblivion, we at “The Turn” chose to take a hard-line stand on Holly’s return primarily to shed some light on Raw’s desperation to find some niche talent. Unfortunately, for the very hard-working Holly, he’s just the latest in failed attempts, and thus his contribution will be overlooked.

ECW (9/25)
WWE’s other “earth-shattering” return of the past week was the not-at-all heralded reemergence of Mike Knox to the ECW brand. ECW, a brand that couldn’t field a baseball team due to lack of available talent, is obviously hurting right now despite some intrigue in the chase for the number-one contender spot (we’re throwing our support behind Tommy Dreamer). Knox’s return probably won’t give the brand the type of jolt it needs to get the type of bump in ratings that it needs. Realistically, Knox’s return probably won’t do much of anything aside from add another rulebreaker to the mix while John Morrison’s employer-imposed sabbatical takes place. Incidentally, what happened to Knox’s physique? The guy was jacked before he left ECW, but now he just looks lumbering. We’re not sold on this return by a long shot.

Impact (9/27)
Sharkboy? Really? Wow. Sharkboy? Please pardon our confusion, but something tells us that our bewilderment at the actions of Team 3D last night are very likely shared by most fans who caught Impact. For anyone who did not, here’s the scenario (stop us if you’ve heard this): Feeling disrespected, Team 3D decides to attack everyone they can in TNA and, sadly, the primary recipient of their own special brand of justice is Sharkboy, who got more masktime (it’s like facetime, only for guys in masks) last night than he has in quite a while. Our concern—aside from the health of Sharkboy, who truly received a beating for the better portion of an hour—is that Team 3D has pretty much become a retread of, well, itself. Actually, what may be scarier is that poor Sharkboy was the first in their sights. Sure, Sharkboy may just have been the unfortunate sucker that was there at the time, or maybe Team 3D truly is working its way up; still, this doesn’t bode well for the former Dudleys. They’re losing ground in TNA, and we’re losing interest.

Wrestling Society X
This breaking news just in: Wrestling Society X is still dead.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 14-20, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

It’s rare that one match would shape the opening of “The Turn”; however, after going back over the tape and reviewing Kane and Finlay’s “Belfast Brawl” from last Friday, we felt the pressing need to extol the virtues of both men and issue a challenge to the rest of the wrestling world.

Plus, we just thought it was a really impressive fight.

In an otherwise uneventful phase for Smackdown—which held so much promise only six months ago—it was refreshing to see a straight-up fight between two seasoned veterans with tremendously differing styles. For those of you who missed it (and ratings indicate that a few of you did), both men went at each other with the fury of a world championship match, with Finlay stealing the victory thanks to an opportune chair shot and amazing “Celtic Cross.” The beauty of the thing is that there was really nothing on the line aside from pride.

It should serve as notice to all those out there who prefer the flashiness of the industry to the true competition of the thing that not only are there still some of the old guard left who are willing to continue the fight (so to speak), but also to carry the program when things look most bleak.

Sure, it wasn’t necessarily a Match of the Year candidate, but few can ignore efforts such as those that we were treated to on Friday night. It was one of the rare instances of late where even those in the arena who would usually make the obligatory beer/T-shirt run during a Finlay-Kane match stayed put and gave the competitors their due. In a world full of Hornswoggle title reigns, this two-sided beat down was a nice—albeit tremendously violent—change of pace.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (9/14)
Something’s been missing on Friday nights. We couldn’t quite figure out what it was that made the most relaxing night of the week feel uneasy … until now. See, while Batista and The Great Khali’s battle has been getting increasingly interesting over the past few weeks (well, as interesting as it possibly could be), and Rey Mysterio Jr. has made his triumphant and revenue-inducing return, there was still something about Smackdown that did not feel complete. Enter, the “Dead Man.” In a Hall-of-Fame career marked by impressive runs and legendary moments, ’Taker looks better now than at any time in his career, and the fact that he cut right through Mark Henry and immediately focused on the Smackdown World title just shows how focused the big man is. Our bet: ’Taker’s wearing championship gold by year’s end.

Raw (9/17)
When it was announced—after much fanfare mind you—that Jonathan Coachman would be Mr. McMahon’s executive assistant, fans once again chalked it up to being yet another announcement with tons of hype and little return (see Hornswoggle and/or the invincible Snitsky). But—and we may end up paying for this in the long run—by and large Coachman has not been a bad addition to the Raw hierarchy. Each week he appears to be getting more comfortable with his position, and, quite frankly, at times he’s one of the most entertaining aspects of the night. There’s something that makes us want to love and hate Coach at the same time, and that’s truly one of the hallmarks of being an integral part of any successful wrestling program. Still, something tells us we’re going to live to regret this assessment.

ECW (9/18)
Just when we were certain that ECW was once again in the throes of its demise (“mysteriously” losing your champion will do that to any promotion), the once hardcore brand throws us the proverbial curveball yet again. General Manager Armando Estrada’s recently announced chase for the number-one contender spot to the ECW title should prove to be some of the most compelling programming ECW’s run since its relaunch under WWE. The only thing that disappoints us: the early elimination of Steven Richards. Pretty much an asterisk and/or throw-in for every battle royal since he joined the company, Richards had finally stepped back into relevance of late with ECW. He’d looked better in the ring than he has for years and the fans were reacting to him as such. His early bounce from the chase is disappointing, yet we’re still excited to see where it all leads. Should be a good upcoming month for ECW.

Impact (9/20)
Something struck us at “The Turn” last night that, although it has been going on for quite some time, never actually registered. Has anyone else noticed how frequently the talking heads at TNA actually acknowledge a wrestler’s past personas, championship runs, and promotions? Again, Mike Tenay and Don West have been doing this forever, but, for some reason, it just sunk in last night during Junior Fatu’s entrance. Fatu—most commonly known as Rikishi—was referred to by the announce team with the words “formerly known as Rikishi” and a “one-time WWE Intercontinental and World tag team champion.” If you listened to the way WWE spoke of the now-unemployed Monty Cor Von Brown, you would think they actually believed he was from the Serengeti. Of course we understand the tactic of ignoring the competition (and, thus, they don’t exist), but somehow TNA’s method of oh, you know, acknowledging the past, legitimizes the whole thing.

In closing, we’d like to remember Rocco Rock (Ted Petty), who died on this day, September 21. Today is the five-year anniversary of his death. Rocco died at age 49 in 2002 of a heart attack.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of September 8-14, 2007

By Al Castle

The old saying about what comes in “small packages” just wasn’t flying with a lot of fans this week.

There was an almost audible, collective groan in the Internet wrestling community around 11:10 Monday night when none other than Finlay’s diminutive mascot, Hornswoggle, was revealed as the long awaited answer to the mystery of, “Who is Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son?”

It’s easy to understand why so many fans would be turned off with a midget joke being the payoff to one of pro wrestling’s more intriguing storylines in recent memory. We at “The Turn” will come “short” of dismissing the Hornswoggle reveal as a total disappointment. Rather, we’ll say the jury is still out on whether this was a good turn of events or not.

The “bastard son” storyline has always been less about who would be cast in the role and more about where the storyline is going—namely, a money feud between two wrestlers, and ultimately, a highly anticipated showdown.

We can’t imagine a Hornswoggle-McMahon kinship will translate into anything more than cornball comedy segments, but there is reason to believe there are still some developments to come in the storyline. Many fans know that the angle was originally written with Mr. Kennedy in mind. When his recent suspension threw WWE’s plans for a loop, writers were left to fall on a backup plan. Rather than cast somebody else in a role tailored for Kennedy, they decided to go a completely different route. The other option, of course, was to wait to reveal the identity of McMahon’s child until after Kennedy returned from his suspension. And who’s to say that still isn’t the ultimate plan?

We’ll see where it’s all going. We’re as troubled as anyone by the notion of more McMahon-centered comedy dominating our TV screens. Let’s hold out hope that WWE has something cleverer in mind.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (09/07)
Watching the main event of the Friday night CW staple, it sure was clear how much the definition of a pro wrestling “good guy” has changed over the years. The “I Quit” main event match up ended with the colorful, family friendly, human action figure Rey Mysterio Jr. unrelentingly whaling on Chavo Guerrero’s knee with a steel chair, until Chavo begged for mercy. Yikes. While the revenge-driven hero is a long-respected institution in wrestling, we here at “The Turn” couldn’t help but feel Mysterio strayed over the line from perennial “babyface” and into sadistic torturer. Nonetheless, the grudge match between these two longtime foes made for one of Smackdown’s better main events in a while and featured a healthy dose of hard-hitting, high-impact offense. Mysterio got a reality check shortly after his victory when the brand’s massive world champion, Kahli, nearly imploded his head between his giant mitts—literally causing blood to ooze from Mysterio’s trademark mask. Fortunately for Rey, Batista ran out to make a save—adding a new layer to the three-way rivalry that is set to pay off this Sunday in a triple threat world title match at Unforgiven. Good luck, Rey. You’ll need it.

Raw (09/10)
The highly anticipated payoff to the illegitimate son mystery surely had a few extra viewers tuning in to WWE’s flagship program this week, but we here at “The Turn” can’t help but wonder whether the coveted final segment of the show wouldn’t have been better spent promoting WWE’s annual September pay-per-view, set to take place just six days later. John Cena, who usually commits much of his microphone time to questioning his opponents’ sexuality and spitting out insults that would keep fifth graders in stitches, showed a rare intensity in his showdown with Vince McMahon backstage—moments after breaking through heavy security to get his hands on Randy Orton. The well-built angle has been somewhat lost among all the talk of little people born out of wedlock to billionaire daddies. We’ll be tuned in on Sunday for the next chapter. In other news, Triple-H became further entrenched in his first full-fledged rivalry since returning to the ring last month. Jonathan Coachman announced that the “Game” will take on Carlito at Unforgiven in a match where only Triple-H can be disqualified. The announcement came after Triple-H made relatively quick work of Shelton Benjamin, a man who holds a pair of upset wins over Hunter. That must have been two years, and one hair color ago for Benjamin.

ECW (09/11)
Although newly appointed ECW general manager Armando Estrada introduced “for the first time” C.M. Punk as the new ECW champion this week, his first televised appearance with the belt came a day earlier as the “Straightedge Superstar” stood around the ring as one of the many potential candidates to be the mysterious heir of the McMahon kingdom. It was rather disheartening that Punk’s first interview since reaching his career highpoint was a thinly veiled plug for his new T-shirt. Nonetheless, his face-off with former New Breed co-captain Elijah Burke did make for some good television. Burke is the right man to step up and be the first challenger for Punk’s title, although it’s too bad that it appears that designation was based more on a lack of options than a desire to reward Burke’s efforts. Like Punk, “The Silver-Tongued Pugilist” has all the makings of a breakout star, but it’s tough to be taken seriously as a big fish when you’re swimming in the smallest of ponds—one in which perennial “enhancement talent” Stevie Richards has recently been elevated to main-event status. That said, this week’s featured bout of Richards and Punk taking on Burke and Kevin Thorne featured some good action, and—in the former “Big Stevie Cool”—the tiniest of remnants of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Impact (09/13)
We here at “The Turn” have decided that we definitely liked TNA more back in 1999 when it was called the WWF. Dustin Rhodes playing a painted-up weirdo, a returning Phatu, and a creepy man-demon, possessed by his sinister dad making his debut by interfering in a cage match; it all adds up to warmed over sports entertainment that feels about as relevant today as a Limp Bizkit track. The closing moments of this week’s installment featured the long-hyped debut of James Mitchell’s son, Judas Mesias, who made his grand entrance during a Kurt Angle vs. Abyss “Six Sides Of Steel” match by cutting a hole from beneath the ring and climbing through the canvas. The pupil-lacking Mesias dominated the “Monster.” Mesias also ensured yet another heavily hyped TNA main event would end without a conclusion. There’s no question that the recent announcement of Impact going to two hours should be good news not only for TNA, but for wrestling as a whole, but unless TNA takes the time to take a breath and shake up its format, the product‘s future is no brighter than it was a year ago. Think less “adrenaline rush,” and more mild caffeine high.

In closing, it’s worth noting that the best televised pro wrestling match of this week likely won’t make it to our TV screens for a couple months. Ring of Honor is taping matches for its third pay-per-view offering this Saturday in Chicago. In the main event slot will be a rematch of the long-awaited ROH heavyweight title showdown between champion Takeshi Morishima and challenger Bryan Danielson. Their first matchup last month in Manhattan was a brutal war that ended with the “American Dragon” suffering a serious eye injury. Those in attendance have raved that the battle was worthy of Match of the Year contention. This Saturday’s rematch promises to be doubly intense. It’s a crying shame that most pro wrestling fans still haven’t been exposed to the ROH product. It’s 100 percent athleticism and intensity, and completely leprechaun-free.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 31-September 7, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

“Things are looking up.”

Four words, numerous implications, and one “Genetic Jackhammer” at the center of the whole damn thing. What’s more interesting, is not so much that the Mr. McMahon illegitimate child angle now has its first legitimate clue, but that one very popular potential heir was eliminated this past Monday night and we at “The Turn” are just as surprised as anyone.

When Ken Kennedy staked his claim to the McMahon family fortune by revealing himself as the Wisconsin-born love child of his employer, every hot rumor that had been circulating throughout the underbelly of wrestling circles seemed to be validated. Hell, things couldn’t have played out more accurately had those perpetuating the misbelief actually conducted the DNA test themselves. Then, with one full and crushing blow, the attorney for the strumpet who bore McMahon Child Number Three unequivocally dismissed Kennedy as the child.

Alas, everyone who believed (and secretly hoped) that Kennedy was the bastard son was suddenly left scrambling for the next best choice.

So, who could it be? The clue insinuates that it could be someone of great height, making the likes of a Great Khali or the departed Big Show potential candidates. Or, what about the possibility that Vince’s son is someone of a more diminutive stature who would thus have to “look up” to see into his father’s maniacal eyes? In that case we’d be dealing with a possible Rey Mysterio Jr. or Hornswoggle situation. Of course, it could just mean that Vince’s son is someone whose luck is good right now, thus things are “looking up” for him. That could be anyone from a C.M. Punk to a … Triple-H?

Oh good lord … they wouldn’t do that … right? Crap … now we’re hooked.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (08/31)
Well, well, well … finally something we’ve never seen before. Rey Mysterio Jr.—Smackdown’s lil’ engine that sort of could—won a title shot at WWE’s Unforgiven pay-per-view by defeating Finlay in the final match of an abbreviated number-one contender’s tournament last Friday night. Of course, the 5’6” Rey-Rey will now be heading into a potential matchup with current Smackdown World champ—the 7’3” Great Khali. That’s right fans, we’re getting the classic really, really big mean guy (let’s call him The Great Nash Show for argument sake) versus the really, really likeable little guy (let’s call this one … well … Rey Mysterio Jr.). The potential is limitless, right? Ugh. While it makes for a great photo op for our excellent staff at PWI, we at “The Turn” can’t condone it yet another time. For fun, we recommend that you make a game of it and either enjoy an adult beverage or punch your nearest friend in the arm each time JBL or Michael Cole utter the amazingly predictable “David versus Goliath” reference. Hell, it may actually make the match worthwhile.

Raw (09/03)
Maybe it’s the fact that she can hold her own with the best female wrestlers we’ve seen in the last decade; maybe it’s just that we’ve got a thing for blondes. Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that she could kick our collective tails and look like a model doing it. What? Some guys are in to that, right? Whatever it is, the staff of “The Turn” are pleased to announce that we’re throwing our support behind the dangerously hot Beth Phoenix to walk away from Unforgiven as the new WWE women’s champion. Now, of course we have nothing against current champ Candice Michelle, but Phoenix is on a Randy Orton-like tear right now (minus the brain damage to old men thing), and, quite honestly, we don’t think Michelle has the chops just yet to stand up to the “Glamazon.” She’s living up to the hype and reviving interest in the women’s division, both of which were no small task.

ECW (09/04)
If at first, second, third, or fourth you don’t succeed, try, try as many damn times as it takes for you to separate Val Kilmer from the ECW championship. Is there anyone out there that’s not excited about C.M. Punk finally capturing the ECW strap from John Morrison? Punk is infinitely more marketable and well-liked by the ECW fan. However, with Morrison’s fall from grace, it now seems as if the newly crowned champ will have to look elsewhere for competition. Morrison, who of late has waxed poetic in a way that made Lanny Poffo resemble Yeats, is not the type of wrestler to regain the motivation to return to glory. During his multiple runs as Intercontinental champion, the man never really was able to regain the drive he showed during his first reign. Subtract Melina, and Morrison may experience a University of Michigan-esque drop from title contention.

Impact (09/06)
When James Mitchell was leading then-mindless drone Abyss around by his tortured conscience, we have to imagine it made for awkward dinner table conversation with his “son” at home. With his very own psychotic giant at home, it’s sad to see Mitchell go outside of the household to find someone to wreak havoc over TNA. Geeze, neglect like that can really scar a kid. Luckily for the Mitchell household, Daddy’s found a spot for junior in TNA. Last night, the former “Sinister Minister” announced to the world that he had a new monster—his “son” the extremely foreboding Judas Mesias—and, immediately, Mitchell began drawing his former charge’s attention to this fact. This will be Abyss’ first true test of whether anything Sting has taught him has sunk in or if the original TNA “Monster” is still under the spell of his former adviser. This could end up being the most intriguing—and intensely personal—feud on TNA in the coming months.

And finally, a nugget of wrestling trivia for your amusement:

With TNA’s No Surrender right around the corner, thus signaling the first TNA tag team title defense of newly united partners Kurt Angle and Sting, we at “The Turn” went back through the PWI archives and, after hours of laborious research, came across something interesting.

It was nearly 15 years ago that two former NWA World champions held a major tag team championship together. You’d have to go back—by our count—to 1992 and the pairing of Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas (yes, he counts) to find the last two NWA World champs to hold tag team gold together, outside of WWE.

Now, of course we realize that Angle technically was not the NWA World champion. But, he is the first TNA champion, winning the gold after the promotion parted ways with NWA. Really, if TNA and NWA could have held off their amicable dissolution by a few weeks, this tidbit would be air tight and we’d look like rock stars. Instead, we’re jamming the square peg into the round hole and forcing an analogy. We suppose, in this case, we’re taking a page out of WWE’s book and simply imagining that Angle and Sting fit the bill.

Hey, it’s a stretch. Deal with it.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 24-30, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Randy Orton once again kicked another grown man in the head and scrambled whatever he had going on upstairs, thus leaving him an unconscious, mumbling mess. When it was the departing RVD, it was expected. Same goes for the chronically injured Shawn Michaels. Hell, we at “The Turn” didn’t even have much of an issue when “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes took a size 16 to the side of his noggin. But, Orton’s most recent victim—John Cena’s father—kinda made the entire staff of “The Turn” cringe.

For the first time in his reign of terror, Orton has now turned to someone not associated with WWE, making his feud with Cena that much more personal. It feels like only a few months back we addressed the issue of Orton’s psychotic rampage here in “The Turn,” and yet something feels different. It’s likely that once someone steps between the ropes—be it a legend or current competitor—all bets are off. But, when Orton took it upon himself to pull Cena’s father over the barricade and into the ringside area only to send him home with a massive concussion, things reached Ron Artest territory.

There’s little doubt that Cena will look to exact revenge as swiftly and viciously as possible and, unfortunately for fans of the Raw World champion, retaining the gold is secondary. Cena may satisfy his bloodlust, but it seems as if Orton’s finally got the champ right where he wanted him all along and the longest World title reign in a decade could be coming to an end sooner than we all think.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (8/24)
You know your brand has had an off night when the most memorable part of the card is an 84-year-old woman stripping down to her skivvies and bouncing around in a manner far too reminiscent of anaphylactic shock to really allow the viewer to appreciate the very real thought of their great grandmother nude that comes with it. Sorry, Gam Gam. For those of you who missed it, Mae Young won a Diva bikini contest on Smackdown that featured the likes of Crystal Marshall, Torrie Wilson, and Michelle McCool. Sexy? Well, no. Intriguing? Um, still no. But, who can deny that it was compelling television? Again, we’ll step up on that one. No mas.

Raw (8/27)
Triple-H is back and, accordingly, so are the easier-than-usual potshots at Mr. McMahon. While for many, shots like those Triple-H take at his boss would be considered pedantic and boring, “The Game” actually makes them seem, well, funny … for now. That’s right, despite his past history, Trips is riding the wave of good will that comes from returning after a potentially career-threatening injury. So, for the next four to five months, the “Cerebral Assassin” can make any ridiculous, overdone goof about anyone in the industry and we are obliged—as fans—to laugh as if it’s the first time we saw Moe slap Curley on the forehead (admit it, you still laugh). By Royal Rumble it’ll be okay to boo the semi homophobic insinuations, but, for now, you love it.

ECW (8/28)
Props to “The Turn” favorite and modern day fashion plate Mahoney for using what the Good Lord gave him to win the affections of Kelly Kelly against all odds and most laws of human decency. And who knew Double-K was so capable of looking beyond the exterior to Mahoney’s chewy nougat center? Sure, these never end well—Kane and Lita, Kane and Chyna (okay, not a bad thing), and Randy Savage and anyone—but, for the time being, Mahoney should just enjoy life as he’s living every average, “Chair Swinging Freak’s” dream.

Oh, and C.M. Punk is the number-one contender, yet again, for the ECW title in what’s become a one-horse race for that coveted spot. In a related story, Punk will be hosed out of the title in some painfully predictable way.

Impact (8/30)
Far be it from us to go the ol’ Barry Horrowitz self-pat-on-the-back route, but wasn’t it right here—in the middle of this very column—that one week ago it was prognosticated that Sting would share one-half of the TNA tag title with Kurt Angle? Oh, hell, let’s just take a quicksy look, shall we:

“Our early favorite here at ‘The Turn’ is Sting, as we believe that he appreciates the opportunity that this situation provides more than the others, and one more championship run added to his already impressive resume couldn’t hurt.”

We’re not saying that we’re geniuses here at “The Turn,” but really, we’re friggin’ geniuses.

Today—Friday August 31, 2007—one of the modern-era’s greatest high-flying wrestlers leaves his reckless 20s behind. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to stop flinging his 225-pound frame off of ladders, but, in reality, it’s amazing that Jeff Hardy has made it this far. Speaking of his uncanny ability to fall with tremendous grace, Hardy once cryptically said:

"Don't think you can … know you can! Your human body is the most impressive tool you'll ever own. Even if you can't control everything, you can always control something. Your body … use it … amuse it … because one day you're gonna lose it."

Some may see that as prophetic; others see it as insane. Either way, as long as Hardy supplements his daredevil behavior with taking on extremely dangerous opponents (like, say, Umaga), he’s going to continue down the path of wearing down his body.

Still, from all of us at “The Turn,” happy birthday, Jeff. Keep up the great work. We wanted to get you something, but apparently there isn’t a Cameron area orthopedic surgeon that sells gift certificates.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 17-23, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Today should be a national holiday for wrestling fans.

In fact, we at “The Turn” urge all of you to ditch your jobs at EB Games or Baby GAP (seriously, we’re worried for you, man) and take the day off to go rent old WWF DVDs in celebration of the man responsible for providing you with hours of girl-avoiding entertainment.

That’s right: A mere month after cheating death today, August 24, is the 62nd birthday of Vince McMahon. Although, if you ask us, he doesn’t look a day over 63.

Love him or hate him, Vince has provided us all with entertainment, fodder for debate, and a singular face to rally against when the industry is stale. Without Vince—and deep down you know it’s true—there very well may not be professional wrestling today. Fans owe the man a great deal, and, in honor of that, “The Turn” is declaring today the second national wrestling holiday (behind WrestleMania Monday, which is when you nurse your Zima hangover, sissy).

Happy birthday, Mr. McMahon. Here’s to 62 more years of insinuated incest, necrophilia, fake deaths, illegitimate children, superhuman personalities, Gobbledygookers, and whatever in the blue hell else you’d like to feed us each week. Sure we’ll gripe, but we always seem to come back for seconds.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (8/17)
Kiddies and creepy older guys, dust off your replica Rey Mysterio Jr. masks! The time has come for the triumphant return of your beloved underdog champion/merchandising king. SummerSlam 2007 will signal the official comeback of Rey-Rey from knee surgery that sidelined him for the better portion of the year, and who better to welcome the king of mystery back than the man who put him out of action, Chavo Guerrero Jr. Now, I know what you’re all thinking: Are you friggin’ kidding me? Again with this feud?! We felt pretty much the same way; however, we’re willing to give this one last chance as—and we’re hoping this is true—this will probably be the finale of a long past-due angle. Of course, if that changes by next Friday, you have our permission to burn your masks in protest.*

(*Don’t actually burn your masks as there are millions of maskless children in the world who would love to sit through a drawn out feud with little intrigue.)

Raw (8/20)
We’re still trying to figure out just what was funnier on Raw the other night: William Regal constantly referring to the Intercontinental champion as “Umanga” or the deafening silence that followed Mr. McMahon declaring that John Cena’s opponent for the night’s main event would be Snitsky. Having the brand’s GM butcher the name of the Intercontinental champ is pretty good, but nothing could beat the collective indifference of the Snitsky announcement. Seriously, you could almost actually hear the sound of Mr. McMahon regretting the decision after that “bombshell” (for those of you who don’t know, regret sounds an awful lot like a baby crying). We at “The Turn” have defended Snitsky from time to time, and this is no different. You can’t blame him for being who—or what—he is. What he’s not is a main-event level guy just yet and the fans in Fayetteville, North Carolina, made that abundantly clear.

ECW (8/21)
All right … we’ve bit our collective tongue long enough. What is the deal with Johnny Nitro becoming John Morrison? At least guys like Umaga have the good sense to disappear for a while before being re-incarnated. Morrison quite obviously is channeling up his best (which isn’t so good) imitation of iconic Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, and fans, like us, are left wondering why. His persona is not that different from the man he left behind. The outfits are the same, however the feathered Farah Fawcett hair (go look her up or ask your father) and the obscure promos that even the “Lizard King” himself wouldn’t understand are all brand spanking new. Still, whatever Morrisonitro calls himself, it shouldn’t take away from the fact that he’s quickly becoming an impressive champion. Albeit a very odd one.

Impact (8/23)
It was announced last night that next week on Impact Kurt Angle’s tag team partner—and hence the luckiest man in TNA—would be determined through a four-way match between A.J. Styles, Sting, Christian Cage, and Samoa Joe. Why is this person so lucky? Well, by outlasting three others, the fortunate son will then become one-half of the TNA tag team champions and thus head into No Surrender with Angle to defend the straps. Our early favorite here at “The Turn” is Sting, as we believe that he appreciates the opportunity that this situation provides more than the others, and one more championship run added to his already impressive resume couldn’t hurt.

And finally, this weekend is SummerSlam 2007 at the lovely Continental Airlines Arena (so called for now) in scenic East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the event, the great city of East Rutherford ties its big brother to the north—NYC—in most summers slammed at three each.

An interesting bit of trivia about the last time SummerSlam was held in New Jersey is that the August 3, 1997, pay-per-view would be the last appearance of WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart at the event. Hart captured the then-WWF World championship that night from The Undertaker after accidental interference from the referee.

That referee: Shawn Michaels. Only three months after SummerSlam 1997 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the same man that helped Hart capture his fifth WWF World title would unceremoniously help force him out of the promotion forever at the Survivor Series in Montreal, Quebec.

Book your flights to Miami for the Survivor Series as soon as humanly possible. We’ve got history on our side!

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 10-16, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

The Sunday before last, “Turn” early birds caught an interesting piece on ESPN’s Outside The Lines discussing the dangers of repeated head trauma and concussions in professional sports and a potential link with dementia-like behavior, which, in some cases, has led to dangerous and fatal consequences. The interesting part of this study—notwithstanding the obvious implications on the world of professional wrestling—is that one-half of the team investigating the possible connection is former WWE Tough Enough competitor and full-time grappler Christopher Nowinski, author of Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis.

Fans recall that Nowinski—the Harvard grad turned wrestler—was forced to retire from full-time competition in 2003. Since then, he has been instrumental in shedding light on head and brain injuries experienced by those in contact sports such as football and wrestling. His unique perspective as someone who not only suffered concussions, but also participated in both sports has made him an intriguing voice in the study of this troubling epidemic.

We at “The Turn” commend Nowinski’s efforts and will keep you all abreast of any future happenings. It’s refreshing to see someone from the industry use his resources to do something positive for the future of the sport. It would have been easy for Nowinski to harbor resentment and turn his back on professional wrestling, yet the agile former hardcore champion chose to attack a controversial issue and hopefully prevent what ended his career from ending others in the future.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (8/10)
Fritz Von Erich (who would have turned 78 today) … Baron Von Raschke … Blackjack Mulligan. These are three men who utilized and perfected one of the most simple and yet painful moves in all of professional wrestling: the iron claw. Add to this trio a man who will no doubt go down in history as one of the greatest face/stomach/chest grippers of all time: current Smackdown World champion The Great Khali. No, it’s true … seriously, for as much as we hammer Khali for his astonishing lack of mobility, general sense of athleticism, and basic knowledge of professional wrestling, the big man might have found something that works for him. On Friday night, Khali defeated a man with 15 more championship reigns than himself—Ric Flair—with that very hold. Hence, we at “The Turn” are confident in naming Khali the modern day master of the iron claw—a hold even Chris Masters would consider trite.

Raw (8/13)
It’s week number two, and yet we still do not know who Mr. McMahon’s spawn truly is. The juiciest bit of information came from half-sister Stephanie who, in order to get back at her father for faking his own death, announced to the world that Vince’s child is a current WWE wrestler. Still, as long as the whodunit surrounding Mr. McMahon’s explosion would have lasted, we at “The Turn” tend to believe that this current course of events will stretch even further. There’s no telling when the rightful partial-heir to the McMahon family fortune will be revealed, although the best guess would be by Survivor Series. On a more serious note, referring to family issues, “Raw Idol” hurt everyone here at “The Turn” as well as our yet-to-be conceived children. While it was nice to see legends The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff regale the crowd with a rendition of the Soviet national anthem that would make Khrushchev tear up, the game show segment must … must … go. Please, for the children.

ECW (8/14)
You know something, it’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. See, we fans were treated to one of the most obnoxious (meaning “entertaining”) managers in two decades when Armando Alejandro Estrada first appeared with the equally ominous Umaga over 18 months ago. But, as quickly as he appeared … poof … he was gone. Taking a backseat role to the McMahons during the Umaga-Bobby Lashley feud, Estrada soon was missing from television altogether and, as a result, his massive Samoan charge is a fan favorite, Mr. McMahon is searching for his illegitimate child, and no one has yet to fill the Mambo Kings loungewear Estrada left behind. Thus, imagine the roar of excitement when Estrada appeared on ECW on Tuesday night. It was nearly as resounding as the crushing sigh of defeat when we realized that Estrada was now the general manager of ECW. Oh, well.

Impact (8/16)
Okay, so the cool thing is you get to walk around with every piece of gold TNA has to offer. Hell, we’ll go one better and give you the IWGP strap for good measure. Sounds pretty good, no? Well, it was at that point on Thursday night when Kurt Angle’s life got just a bit more difficult as the all-everything champion was told he would defend all three TNA-sanctioned titles in one night at the promotion’s No Surrender pay-per-view next month. The early line here at “The Turn” (we’ve consulted with Tim Donaghy and Pete Rose on this one) is that Angle will retain only the TNA World heavyweight championship by night’s end and that the X division and TNA World tag straps will call new waists home. Mark that one down—in ink.

And, finally, a friendly word of advice from current Raw General Manager William Regal to all the go-getters out there who just don’t feel that there are enough hours in the day to get things done. If you think about it, his time management technique is actually quite good:

"I have resolved to wake up an hour earlier each day so I can hate you just a little bit longer."

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of August 3-9, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

It’s not funny … seriously. And, according to some of you out there, we at “The Turn” are people who know unfunny and, as such, we feel specially qualified to point out when something just isn’t funny.

Raw’s ridiculous spoof of The Dating Game on Monday night was not only unfunny, but probably the death knell for Santino Marella. Whenever a fellow paisan is put out to pasture, we feel the need to pick up the fight for them and … wait, huh … not really Italian you say … Russian, but only in Kentucky? Oh, forget we even brought it up.

But, still, aside from Jim Duggan’s truly banging leisure suit and Maria Kanellis—who is still so attractive our television takes on a radiant, almost heavenly, glow every time she is on screen—Monday’s longest segment was undoubtedly a flop of epic proportions. Oh, I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill promo that runs far too long; we’re officially in Katie Vick/J.R.’s colonoscopy category.

Yes, we’ve invoked two of the three prongs of the unholy trinity of WWE angles from the past decade. While there are so many potential contenders to fill that final slot (Boogeyman’s impromptu cosmetic surgery on Jillian Hall comes to mind), none has officially reached such a lofty designation. For, of course, if that third truly horrific segment does ever come to fruition, the world as we know it will cease to be. You know, real Gatekeeper-Keymaster stuff.

Of course this most elongated setup to an equally disappointing punch line will not complete that dark triumvirate. All in all, it just felt lazy and contrived. Frankly, no one cared that much about the budding emotionally abusive relationship between Maria and Santino enough for there to be an entire segment about it. This really felt like it was being phoned in to fill the gap where a Triple-H “I hate everyone but you still love me” promo would have gone.

No more, Raw. Please. Things were promising when you blew up your boss and, just because the plans changed, now is no time to slack off.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (8/3)
So, Teddy Long and Kristal Marshall will be making things official on September 21 as the two become the latest in a long line of couples to tie the proverbial knot right there in the middle of the ring. Unfortunately, the odds are against the happy couple, as the past few in-ring weddings haven’t had the most story book of endings. Think about it: Macho Man and Elizabeth, Lita and Kane, Al Wilson and Dawn Marie, the list just goes on and on. To find the last wedding on WWE programming to go the distance, one would have to look all the way back to Uncle Elmer and Joyce back on Saturday Night’s Main Event some 22 years ago (Trips and Stephanie don’t count … on TV at least). All we’re saying is that maybe you two lovebirds want to rethink where you’ll take your vows. The Cape is nice this time of year, as is Vermont. Hell, anywhere but the squared circle.

Raw (8/6)
Vinnie Mac … a baby daddy … nah. C’mon, he’s a multimillionaire. Surely any spawn of his loins would have come forward years ago to claim what was rightfully hers. Plus, someone with a rightful claim to the McMahon throne would not have to be part of a paternity suit unless, of course, he or she was a minor. In fact, that would be the only way a paternity suit would be filed in this case. It would have to be the mother of Vince’s most recent offering to humanity that would bring a paternity case against him. Now, assuming that the age of majority is 18, that would mean that the “Genetic Jackhammer” spread his million-dollar seed within the last 17 years, which would place the alleged indiscretion in 1990 at the earliest. In an effort to narrow down the potential baby mamas out there, we’ve comprised a list of every woman the WWE chairman has either groped on television or simply been linked to throughout the company. Here are the results:

1. All of them.

Crap. We’ll keep looking into this and hopefully have more info for you next week, assuming this isn’t spoiled by Monday.

ECW (8/7)
We here at “The Turn” only do the occasional sit-up when the remote slides off the dark side of our collective guts. You know, when you shift in your seat just enough that the remote falls off your belly toward your legs and essentially you’re then stuck watching whatever was on television at that time? No? Well … fair enough. The point we were trying to make is that we’re in no position to criticize someone’s physique. However, has anyone caught a load of Big V and the slimming black unitard he’s been sporting since his move to ECW? Does anyone else get the feeling that it was something left over from Trinity’s personal wardrobe after the company kicked her to the curb? While it’s not much worse than anything we’ve seen … personally … at the Jersey shore, V may want to consider hearkening back to his King Mable days and investing in a nice purple mock overalls/satin shirt combo. Throwbacks are very “in” now, and it comes with the added advantage of not showing the world your six teats on a weekly basis. Win-win, my friend.

Impact (8/9)
With nervous excitement, the members of “The Turn’s” Board of Bad Ideas tuned in to Impact last night to catch a glimpse at the most heralded acquisition TNA has made since Matt Morgan. That’s right, last night was all about the TNA debut of the true renaissance man of wrestling, Adam “Pacman” Jones. “Pacman” comes to Orlando with an impressive resume that already includes such high-profile positions as Tennessee Titans cornerback, police blotter mainstay, and amateur nightclub meteorologist. Will Jones change the face of TNA? Probably not. Could his presence hurt the promotion? Even less likely, assuming TNA doesn’t really build behind him as if he’s a legitimate competitor. This is WWE-style headline grabbing at its best, and, frankly, there’s not much wrong with that. Enjoy the limelight, TNA, and keep “Pacman” away from the gold. Oh, and try … try… to not pay him in one dollar bills. Just a bit of friendly advice.

In this week’s closing, we honor one of “The Turn’s” all-time favorite mind-boggling personas, Tugboat, who celebrates his 51st birthday today by taking everyone back to one of the greatest flubs in wrestling history. As Tugboat was being introduced to the WCW audience as the mysterious “Shockmaster” (seriously), he not only fell through the interview set, but lost his helmet in the process. As “Shockmaster” lay exposed on the studio floor, popular wrestling lore is that Davey Boy Smith was heard saying:

“He fell on his arse … he fell right on his arse.”

YouTube it and love it. Thank you, Tugboat, and thank your pseudo-nautical arse. Happy birthday.

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 27-August 2, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

“The Turn” once referred to Lance Hoyt as the “Andrew ‘Test’ Martin of TNA.” Well, oddly enough, the massive Texan isn’t even worthy of that less-than-desirable moniker, as it turns out that now Andrew “Test” Martin is the new Andrew “Test” Martin of TNA.

Well, to be fair to WWE’s trademark rights—and to avoid getting our collective areses sued off—it’s now “The Punisher” Andrew Martin of TNA.

No one here at “The Turn” ever wishes a wrestler ill despite their past indiscretions. In fact, by and large, Andrew Martin is a wrestler we’ve never had much of an issue with in the past. Was it his fault that he was brought in to be the rulebreaking face of the new ECW? Nope. In fact, the minute he signed his name to the no doubt embarrassingly excessive contract (given the product), Martin was set up for failure. As big and lumbering as he is, Martin was just not “extreme” in the classic sense of the word and, hence, was never accepted by the ECW crowds. But, again, not his fault.

This new start in TNA could be the best—and potentially last—chance for Martin to truly take a step toward legitimate main-event status. He’ll no doubt have a fair amount of control over his path in TNA and is by far one of the most physically impressive big men in the promotion. His mike skills will be tested (so to speak), however given Impact’s current one-hour length, he won’t be relied upon to deliver the droning diatribes that were required in WWE, which is a distinct benefit.

Add to that the fact that WWE defectors tend to have nice initial runs with TNA (Jeff Hardy, Christian Cage, Kurt Angle, for example), and the formula is in place for Martin to actually become a top guy in Orlando. Now, for the first time in his unfortunately lackluster career, Martin has no one to blame for any failures than himself. No one’s holding him back, and, politics be damned, he’s one of the most bankable talents in the promotion. It’s time for “The Punisher” to step up and either prove to the world that he’s ready for the spotlight or, yet again, that the pressure is just too much. Here’s to hoping that this time next year we’re looking back fondly on Martin’s first TNA championship reign.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (7/27)

Chyna and the Intercontinental championship. David Arquette and the WCW World title. Mr. McMahon and the WWF championship. Mighty Molly and the WWF hardcore strap. And now, being formally added to the pantheon of unlikely and, well, head-scratching champions: WWE cruiserweight champion … Hornswoggle. That’s right, the bite-sized ring dweller continued his tiny reign of terror by retaining the strap he stole as an uninvited guest at The Great American Bash when he defeated Jamie Noble—via countout, no less—last week on Smackdown. The crack research staff here at “The Turn” assures us that not only is Mr. Swoggle the tinies champion in WWE history (sorry Rey-Rey), but also the first to be a mythical being. [Insert trite, Jerry Lawler-esque “gold at the end of the rainbow” joke here.]

Raw (7/30)

In the interest of reporting the important happenings from the past week of wrestling, Bobby Lashley severely injured his shoulder in his clean loss to Mr. Kennedy. He was expected to visit Dr. James Andrews and a course of action (likely surgery) would be determined. Now that the newsworthy item from Monday night is out of the way, on to the amazingly juicy bit of info WWE chose to promote through the company website. According to WWE.com, this coming Monday night will signal the return to television of the formerly exploded Mr. McMahon, who, as the site cryptically states, will “strike back.” How this is going to play out following the disposal of the angle due to the Benoit tragedy is anybody’s guess, but you can bet for damn sure that we at “The Turn” will be glued to our big screens during Raw in nervous anticipation for the first time in a while. Funny what a few weeks of lousy ratings will cause, eh?

ECW (7/31)

Okay, fine, it wasn’t exactly a bona fide Match of the Year candidate, but I pray that all the ECW doubters out there—of which we at “The Turn” tend to be at times—caught the triple-threat main event on Tuesday night between Tommy Dreamer, C.M. Punk, and the increasingly impressive Elijah Burke. Not surprisingly, Punk walked away with the hard-fought victory and yet another shot at John “The Lizard King” (c’mon, you know you were thinking the same thing) Morrison and the ECW title. But what we fear will be lost in the annals of history are the phenomenal efforts of both “also rans.” Burke and Dreamer looked every bit the legitimate contender as Punk. It’s matches and efforts such as this that can make even the staunchest of ECW abolitionists grant the pseudo-extreme brand clemency for at least another week.

 Impact (8/2)

Shame on us. Shame, shame, shame on us. See, for as much as the folks here at “Turn” headquarters have ripped on grandpa Kevin Nash (a man who “Turn” U.K. correspondent Andy Cain’s wife astutely mistook for Kenny Rogers), we’re loving his current role in TNA as the most useless and politically incorrect therapist this side of Dr. Phil. Nash’s latest psychological masterpiece came last night as he tried to mend the broken marriage of Kurt and Karen Angle, as well as urge Mrs. Olympic Champion to deal with her weight problem (which was hilarious, as Mrs. Angle is a stunner). In the end, it’s probably best that Nash never get near a six-sided ring again, but assuming he can continue to entertain us on a weekly basis while mocking himself in the process, then that’s absolutely something we’re willing to live with.  

Quote of the week:

Leave it to “The Bad Guy” Scott Hall to offer his thoughts on the best tactic for success in the ring. Given his personal issues outside of the squared circle over the past few years, this actually may be his best plan of attack at this point. Stating the obvious, the former Outsider one quipped:

"Kick him [a man] when he's down … he's easier to reach."

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 20-26, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Finally, the feud to settle all feuds is taking place and yet fans worldwide don’t seem to be embracing it as much as they should. Of course, we’re talking about the epic Jerry Lawler-King Booker battle over who should be considered the one true royal of WWE.

Not a big deal, you say? Nothing more than filler? We at “The Turn” strongly disagree. In fact, this is not only the most entertaining battle on Raw right now, but it’s also the most important feud in the history of professional wrestling, or athletic competition for that matter.

Okay, so it’s not that big, but it is something worth watching. Think about it: How could one company have two kings. It just doesn’t make any sense. We’re talking sleepless nights of tossing and turning in bed wondering who is the true undisputed king of WWE. Fine, that may be overstating it a bit once again.

The truth is Jerry Lawler—love him or hate him—is one of the most consistently entertaining parts of the Raw brand and, thanks to a spate of injuries, Monday nights need more compelling personalities grabbing a part of the spotlight. For his part, King Booker is an impeccably sound wrestler who evokes a reaction from the fans every time he steps on to the ramp. Whatever the feud will end up lacking in wrestling excitement, it should more than make up for with wit, amusing commentary, and grown men in capes.

“Filler” this feud may be, but it definitely hearkens back to days past when mid-card battles actually had consequences and fun side notes, and maybe that’s what WWE is missing right now.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (7/20)
Are you freakishly tall and barely mobile? Can you grunt? Do you consider great, technical wrestling to be a series of chops and occasional punches that appear to miss your opponent by at least nine inches? If so, then, boy, do we have the job for you—Smackdown World champion! That’s right, for just a few physical abnormalities, you too can hold one of the most prestigious titles in the sport. The fact that Khali is now Smackdown World champion is not exactly a shock; however, it’s not something that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy either. If one-dimensional brutality and apparent invulnerability are prerequisites for being a champion, we would have preferred an Umaga title reign. That’s right, the thumb-in-the-neck guy.

Raw (7/23)
For those of you who may have missed the ending of Raw this past Monday night, Randy Orton has concussed his way into the number-one contender’s slot for the Raw World title and will face John Cena for the strap at SummerSlam next month. Orton, who really hasn’t sniffed a World title shot as prime as this since his brief reign as champion, may not have done things on the up-and-up, but results are results. Look at the most recent victims of Orton’s rage: Rob Van Dam (injured so badly he may actually have forgotten where he works), Shawn Michaels (concussed into a well-deserved break), and Dusty Rhodes (hell, take your pick of what a kick in the head will do to Dusty). As unstoppable as Cena seems right now, Orton may actually pose the greatest threat to his nearly year-long reign. “The Legend Killer” seems finally ready—both physically and psychologically—to be World champion again.

ECW (7/24)
First, we have to admit that even we were shocked that Nunzio still was under contract with WWE. Sure, he pops up every now and again, but every time the former “Little Guido” appears on screen, it just feels nostalgic and good. In fact, despite Nunzio’s less-than-shocking loss to the suddenly effective Miz, Tuesday night’s offering of ECW wasn’t all that bad. Hell, for the ECW purists out there (if that’s even possible), even Stevie Richards was victorious for the first time in what feels like a decade. Sure, filling time with guys like Nunzio and Richards certainly won’t move merch, but it does show that WWE at least has some connection to those lesser-appreciated guys that helped make a local promotion like ECW seem so important. Where’s my pizza? … where’s my pizza, indeed.

Impact (7/26)
Three words can best describe last night’s Impact: classic Scott Steiner. And we mean “classic”! We were treated to rants on his trachea, Brother Ray’s thyroid, and Scotty’s awkward affection for the Puerto Rican people. It had everything! Seriously … we DVRed the whole segment just to watch it again later with a big bowl of popcorn. Actually, we at “The Turn” were excited to see four teams like the aforementioned two, along with VKM and LAX in the ring all with scores to settle, but Steiner absolutely stole the show. There isn’t a human being alive that can transition so smoothly between describing his uncomfortable adoration for the Puerto Rican people who saved his life and calling Team 3D a couple of “fatasses” a dozen times.

Quarterbacks and fighting dogs. Referees working with the mob. The “cream,” the “clear,” and all things in between. The state of professional sports—wrestling included—is currently going through one of the most controversial and unsavory times in recent history. Leave it to the great Bobby Heenan to shed some light on the mindset of the professional athlete. Referring to a particularly thuggish unknown wrestler, “The Brain” quipped:

"I once asked him what came at the end of a sentence … and he said ‘parole.’”

 

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 13-19, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

We at “The Turn” are conflicted.

See, TNA’s next pay-per-view is really shaping up to be something we can actually get excited about. We’re talking genuine, Christmas morning excitement, here. Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle will battle it out for all the gold in TNA plus the IWGP “third belt,” for good measure. Triple-X has made a stunning return, the Steiners and Team 3D are ready to tear each other apart, and you know Sting will do something cool within the next few weeks.

The problem with all of this is simply the name of the show. TNA’s Hard Justice is our first official nominee for the worst name of a wrestling card in the history of goofy names being attached to wrestling cards.

Of course there have been plenty of names bandied about over the last decade alone that are worthy of honorable mention. Hell, WCW was responsible for such chestnuts as Hog Wild, Beach Blast, and Greed. WWE is not immune from adorning an otherwise interesting card with awful names. Take, for instance, Tuesday in Texas, Mayhem in Manchester, and, more recently, December to Dismember (even further burying the legacy of the original ECW).

Still, it doesn’t matter what we think—send us your thoughts on not only what you consider to be the worst pay-per-view name in all of professional wrestling history as well as what TNA should call its August pay event. Keep it clean, and we’ll put your thoughts right here next week.

The week in televised wrestling:

Smackdown (7/13)
Mark Henry continued his reign of terror over the Smackdown brand by once again targeting one of Friday night’s top stars—Eugene. Okay, fine, so Eugene isn’t the “Next Big Thing”… hell … we don’t know how to even describe the guy at this point, but the fact is that the man formerly known as “Sexual Chocolate” has taken yet another step toward wrestling immortality. Oh, did I forget to mention that WWE’s self-spoiling of tonight’s Smackdown World championship change (check back next week) has now led me to start a fan revolt in the form of blind support of “Miz-ark”? Hell, he’s been there long enough that if someone was going to get a legit title shot, why not him?

Raw (7/16)
We aren’t trying to start anything by bringing it up, but did anyone else notice that when King Booker teased the fans by coming out to Triple-H’s theme music (foreshadowing a potential WrestleMania X-9 return feud, perhaps) the fans did not fall all over themselves as they have in the past? Once “The Game” does return, the night will be the most talked-about event in professional wrestling, but we found it to be quite telling that there wasn’t the usual mass hysteria that comes with a Triple-H injury return appearance.

ECW (7/17)
We at “The Turn” really, truly, honestly want Johnny Nitro to succeed. Seriously, we do. There’s nothing more exciting that seeing a guy grow as a singles wrestler, come into “his own” (whatever that is), and truly make a name for himself in the sport. PWI has compared him to Shawn Michaels in the past and, frankly, we all still stand by that assessment. Still, it appears that even as ECW champion, Nitro still lacks that certain unknown factor of a true legend in wait. His promos seem snarky, but not snarky enough. He wants to intimidate, but he’s really not an intimidating presence. In an industry where time is certainly not in the fans’ best interest, Nitro is definitely running out of it.

Impact (7/19)
Dearest Team 3D,
What happened? You made us love your spirit and integrity and drive to capture yet another world tag team championship just a few months ago. You took fans back to the old bingo hall to show us where you came from and what in your past made you the hard-nosed legends we see today. Now, suddenly and with a surprising lack of warning, you’re kind of turning your backs on us as a pending blood feud with the Steiners looms. Was the will of the fans not enough? Did we not root loudly enough for you as you chased down LAX? If this keeps up, we just may not care anymore and that, truly, would be tragic.

We’d like to think Jake Roberts was speaking to us here at “The Turn” when he bellowed this week’s quote:

"I'm here to connect your mouth to your brain because it seems you're talking out of your ass!"

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of July 6-12, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

You know what? God bless the guy for trying. I mean really, he went all out with shaving his head, dying his teeth, and putting on even more muscle mass than anyone can recall. Still, I’m just not buying Snitsky as a viable big-time contender on the Raw brand.

The industry being what it is, a company has a very daunting task ahead of it when it attempts to repackage a guy as more vicious or suddenly unstoppable. A few years ago, Snitsky was a guy with plenty of upside, but no real niche on WWE programming. First, everything “wasn’t his fault.” The next thing you know, he’s salivating over women’s feet. Literally.

As a wrestler, I’m actually a fan of Snitsky. Putting all southeast Pennsylvania biases aside, I find the guy to be quite an impressive big man in a company filled with slow, sluggish big men. At his best, Snitsky mixes strength, speed, and a viable repertoire of wrestling skills to be a hell of a competitor; the rest of the time, he’s being made the punch line to strange and less-than-entertaining gimmicks.

 

Still, it’s Snitsky’s current path that has me the most concerned for the longevity of his career. Foot-suckers come and go, but indestructible sociopaths, they’re career killing. Plus, I thought WWE had filled their quota of lurching, silent assassins with Umaga and The Great Khali. Everyone knows the rule is two moderately disinteresting personalities per company, duh.

It would be wise for WWE to study some of the most famous lessons of pro wrestling. Goldberg starts losing and the fans lose interest. Umaga’s undefeated streak ends and shortly thereafter the most entertaining part of his act is jettisoned into oblivion (his name was Arrrmando Alllejandro … oh, you know the rest).

Hell, even Clubber Lang couldn’t recover after dropping the title back to Rocky (sure, we don’t know that for certain, but c’mon … he was as one-dimensional as any Giant Gonzales or Zeus).

Save our Snitsky! Don’t let this guy become the next in a line of cheesy monsters.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (7/6)
I don’t know what intrigues me more about the growing Batista-Great Khali feud: the possibility of a Batista bomb on the seven-footer or watching the lumbering former champ get chopped in the head by a man whose move set essentially consists of standing in the middle of the ring and pivoting. This could be one of the worst matches at The Great American Bash and yet it’s one that I’m eagerly anticipating. How great will this be? The only atrocity that could excite me more would be a Gobbledygooker-Repo Man best of seven.

Raw (7/9)
What was the point of having John Cena via satellite? Yes, Raw’s 3.4 rating was one of the lowest it has had in the past year for a non-holiday episode of the show, but was Cena that necessary? All in all, and I’m actually being serious about this, I thought the show was fine. It is hilarious to me that when Cena or Triple-H or Shawn Michaels is not on Raw, WWE appears to visibly panic. Rather than take that week to actually allow someone to develop mike skills and take the reins of the show in hopes of developing the next star, it’s almost entirely devoid of promos done by wrestlers born on the late side of the 1970s.

ECW (7/10)
My karmic mea culpa for this week goes out to reality show also-ran and apparent object of Extreme Expose’s desire, The Miz. Ahh hell … this is going to be tougher than I thought, but here goes: he could be good. Could, could, could, could. Did I mention, could? He’s as raw as they come in the ring, his size leaves much to be desired, and, if I hear “hoo-rah” one more time, I may actually join the Marines to learn the necessary skills it would take to injure The Miz, yet, for some reason—some strange, possibly Molson-induced reason—I really had the feeling on Tuesday night that The Miz could be here for the long run. Of course, that’s assuming he’s not needed for whatever Real World-Road Rules reunion competition comes next.

Impact (7/12)
With six words (“Tomko, Styles, three days, Click Doomsday”), did Abyss begin to shed light on the mystery and horror that made him as revered as he is with the TNA faithful? Probably not, but TNA needs to be careful about Abyss becoming chatty on a weekly basis. As I sat there last night, I flashed back to the days of Kane speaking through an artificial voice box and just how ridiculous that was—and I smiled. With the benefit of hindsight, TNA at least has similar angles of the past to gauge the next move of their resident “Man-Monster.” Then again, they really don’t have an excuse if it all goes awry.

Wrestling’s love-hate relationship with television is certainly nothing new. I leave you with a quote from quite possibly the best cross-culture celebrity wrestler in the history of recorded existence:

“If I play my cards right, I could bring network wrestling back to TV. Unfortunately, to most people, wrestling is a laughingstock. But, fortunately, I'm reaching people who otherwise wouldn't watch it.”
—Andy Kaufman

THE TURN: Skewering The Week Of June 29-July 5, 2007

By Frank Ingiosi

Where are my endorsements, huh?

I was just thinking that so many people out there, far less talented than I (which is tough, trust me) have some lucrative deals to endorse products they don’t use in the hopes that people—who don’t need them—purchase said wares.

Really, it’s the sweetest gig in the world, and—you know something—it’s time for the PWI contingent to cash in on our myriad knowledge of the world’s most consistently entertaining sport. Move over current Raw World champion/Subway pitchman John Cena—your boy Jared ain’t got nothing on me. I can sell a hoagie (or, for the Philadelphia-challenged: sub, hero, or simply a big-ass sandwich) with the best of them.

Hell, there’s a whole group of PWI-staffers that would be perfect for pitching products and cashing in on those sweet, sweet endorsement dollars. I can personally guarantee that were there a need for someone to promote the overall goodness of goofy cardigan sweaters, there would be no stauncher advocate than one senior writer Dan Murphy (we’re talking straight from the Heathcliff Huxtable collection). Encyclopedia sales your racket? Allow me to recommend our editor-in-chief, Harry Burkett (the guy knows everything about everything). Having trouble convincing people you exist and are not just the figment of someone’s imagination (I’m looking in your direction crazy UFO abduction guys), why not hire a Stu Saks or Brandi Mankiewicz (both of whom do very much exist … or do they?).

Of course, reigning “Hottest PWI Editor” Lisa Rocchi is always available for your entire spokesmodel—or grammatical—needs. In fact, she’s probably correcting this sentence right now, free of charge! If only Webster’s Dictionary and Cover Girl could somehow merge into one odd, yet strangely enticing, entity. Oh well.

Point is, as wrestling fans, writers, or what-have-you, we’re oftentimes relegated to the waste bin of corporate advertising. Think about it: Is there anyone else in the world better suited to pimp Wild Turkey bourbon or plastic visors than Matt Brock? We think not.

When I caught Cena’s commercial for the Subway sandwich chain the other night—for roughly the 10,000th time—it actually brought a smile to my face. There on my TV was a wrestler as part of a mainstream company’s massive advertising campaign, a campaign, mind you, that has featured many mainstream athletes, including baseball’s National League MVP Ryan Howard, NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker, and a slew of other big-name talent.

Now, will a sandwich commercial ever truly advance the cause of promoting wrestling as an equal to some of the bigger, mainstream American sports? In a word—no. In two words—hell, no. Still, it’s fun to see wrestling getting some sort of mention in a mainstream national campaign. It’s nice to have some positive publicity for a change.

The Week In Televised Wrestling:

Smackdown (6/29)
Wow, talk about your all-time backfires. So, let me get this straight: When the gold is on the line, Batista just can’t quite get the job done. However, when all hope is lost, he looks like the most dominating man to ever step between the ropes. Sound about right? In the years that I’ve followed Batista’s career, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him more dominant that he was last Friday night during his match with Edge. Sorry, I missed something there—his non-title match with Edge. Now, I’m not exactly a huge fan of Batista’s, but I also don’t crush the guy like most writers. Still, I’m a bit shocked with the big-man’s ability to stay competitive yet not seal-the-deal when the strap is on the line. Snake bites like that can get to a guy and possibly turn him to the ways of the rulebreaker. Hmm, maybe this isn’t all bad after all?

Raw (7/2)
Bobby Lashley, congratulations! You’ve earned yourself a one-way ticket to an astonishing, semi-unexpected defeat at the hands of John Cena. Way to go, son! Okay, sure, it’s not written in stone that Cena will defeat the newly crowned number-one contender at The Great American Bash, but are the odds in the “Blaster’s” favor? Probably not. Cena’s on a hell of a roll of late, actually passing JBL’s modern-day (meaning the past 10 years or so) record of longest title reign. Lashley’s ring presence still impresses the hell out of us here at “The Turn,” but, were we betting folks, we’d have to wager the house on Cena at the Bash. For once—and I apologize to the Cena-haters out there—the champ comes in as the distinct technical wrestling favorite. That’s right—a five-knuckle shuffle is the equivalent of Bob Backlund’s crossface chicken wing in this match. Start your shivers … now!

ECW (7/3)
Wait … two damn matches? Two?! Seriously … two? I mean, even TNA tends to put on a few extra matches for good measure, you know, just so the audience feels as if they got their money’s worth (and they get in for free). For those of you too fixated on the local fireworks display to catch EC-Nuffin-W the other night, let me recap: Brand champion Johnny Nitro defeated Tommy Dreamer while number-one contender C.M. Punk beat Kevin Thorn. That’s it. Nope, aside from copious commentating and recapping the Mahoneys off of everything, that’s all we got. Was it the night before a holiday and thus very likely a throw-away program—sure. Can ECW afford that? Not a chance. The talent pool barely covers the tops of my feet at this point. I wonder how a promotion can run two matches and make us feel entertained. Hmm. I wonder …

Impact (7/5)
… Oh, that’s right—I still have TNA to salvage my wrestling week. While I try not to be a TNA apologist nowadays, I’m also generally not the biggest fan of multi-man matches, as they tend to come off as lazy programming. Damn my evil mouth or, in this case, nimble typing fingers. But last night’s three-way tag team match to determine which duo would go on to Victory Road in two weeks to defend the TNA tag team straps in the “Match Of Champions” turned out to be a wildly entertaining pay-per-view quality match that actually had me sit up on my massive, insanely comfortable bed. Reigning champs Team 3D looked great in successfully retaining the gold against A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels and LAX. My winner of the week goes to TNA for entertaining the bejesus out of all of us here at “The Turn.” Kudos, Orlando.

And finally, I don’t think there’s any greater way to examine today’s ways of the world—be it wrestling or otherwise—than one of the more famous quotes by my personal, number-three all-time favorite wrestler, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper:

"Just when you think you know the answers … I change the questions!"

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