AS I SEE IT 11/7: Thoughts on Stamford's Chaos Central

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Last week's Taboo Tuesday was turned upside down as the major angle/storyline of Jim Ross was placed in limbo the day before, as Steve Austin refused to put over Jonathan Coachman... who was suddenly to receive the help of the returning Vader and Goldust to go over in the match. Austin was also reported to be angry about the fact that Jim Ross was not returning as RAW announcer, leaving Vince McMahon with little to do but insert a substitute match of Batista-Jonathan Coachman (with Vader and Goldust) in its place.

Yup...the World Champion of the brand that WWE runs on broadcast TV...going against a TV announcer (and two former WWF/E wrestlers brought in for no apparent storyline reason). I imagine that the kiddie newz site rumors are probably untrue that David Arquette is to go against Batista at Survivor Series for his World title.

Another version of the Austin story on quoted claims from a WWE source that Austin DID actually injure his back moving furniture, but that Austin could easily have gutted it out had he been "motivated" (translated: Austin was pissed over the way Ross was being treated, refused to put over Coachman, AND he was hurt...simultaneously).

So much for those who insisted that the Jim Ross situation was all a work by Vince McMahon. Whether Ross will be moved to the online broadcast of RAW after he recovers from his colon surgery, remains to be seen.

However, last Tuesday, an entirely new element was moved into the equation...

Joey Styles.

Styles was brought in for Taboo Tuesday literally "out of nowhere" and what Dave Meltzer described as "an amazing about-face, because just a few days ago the office feeling on Styles was that they wanted nothing to do with him."

Meltzer suggests that Styles may be the only way to get out of the Ross storyline, that Coachman cannot handle the job after his performance last night; and may be the only alternative fans will accept as a replacement "without a significant backlash."

In my opinion, Joey Styles sounded on Taboo Tuesday like the announcer he was always capable of being, before he veered toward self-parody at last year or so of ECW with what seemed over-exaggerated mannerisms, rather than the enthusiatic communicating of storylines he had done previously.

Lawler took his game up as well. A lot of people forget that Jerry Lawler is capable of doing so much more than his acting like an over-aged hyper-hormoned teenager he's done in recent years. Old school Memphis fans might recall that Lawler used to do a legit Sunday morning sports talk show on local TV in Memphis. I've seen tapes, and he's surprisingly articulate (for those who only know the WWF/E version of Lawler as commentator).

All this...owing to fans voting with their remote controls, saw RAW have its lowest rating since the return to USA Network at 3.4 with a week's worth of promotion of Steve Austin...only to have no Austin appear. A 3.4 rating equals a drop of 1.5 million viewers since the initial rating achieved when WWE returned to USA.

In some positive news, Styles is reported to be doing the next two weeks of RAW in what appears to be a try-out of sorts. Lord only knows what happens if Styles and Vince McMahon don't agree on contract terms after that.

Speaking of other issues regarding WWE...if Vince McMahon thinks there's an outcry among certain segments of fans with Jim Ross...there's something that may have that beaten. Its been widely reported that Chris Benoit's contract will expire later this month, and that he has not yet been re-signed by WWE. Some reports even suggest he's "being lowballed" in terms of a salary proposal as in the cases of the recently departed Christian and The Dudleys.

If these reports are true, letting a world-class talent like Chris Benoit go at a time like this (and potentially wind up with TNA) is suicidal, as someone like Benoit would give TNA instant credibility among many current and former WWE fans.

Last night, I attended the Hardcore Homecoming show at the ECW Arena which drew a crowd of upwards of 800 fans, despite a major transit strike that eliminated all bus and subway/elevated service in a five-county area. The show's highlight being The Dudley' 3D's match with Sabu/Terry Funk after a 3D on Funk. The match also saw Spike Hyson... ran in, only to be put through the flaming table that the Dud...Team 3D had set for Funk and Sabu.

Pre-match, the crowd serenaded WWE with “F*** Johnny Ace” chant prior to the match. Post-match, Bubba Ray Dudley put over Sabu and Terry Funk and asked the crowd, to "chant those three letter that the guy in Stamford tried to take away from us". This resulted in one of the loudest "ECW" chants I've ever heard in the building in my 12 years of shows there. The moment was essentially what a last tip of the cap to ECW in the building (rumors of a WWE One Night Stand 2 in the building next summer notwithstanding) mixed with a collective "F#$k you Vince" (a chant which itself also broke out during the show) from the deepest part of the crowd's wrestling souls.

There is a connection with the reaction for the Dudleys and the other items in this week's column in that the loud dissatisfaction with WWE among many segments of fans is a situation that doesn't seem to be improving, and is showing itself in many forms.

As I've been doing in recent columns, I'd like my readers, wherever they may live, to take some time and consider how they might help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Wilma. The various charities listed below can receive donations online through the Network for Good portal.

To donate cash by telephone:

  • American Red Cross (800) HELP NOW/(800) 435-7669 English; (800) 257-7575 Spanish
  • America's Second Harvest (800) 344-8070

    To donate cash or volunteer:

  • Adventist Community Services -- (800) 381-7171
  • Catholic Charities, USA -- (703) 549-1390
  • Christian Disaster Response -- (941) 956-5183/(941) 551-9554
  • Christian Reformed World Relief Committee -- (800) 848-5818
  • Church World Service -- (800) 297-1516
  • Convoy of Hope -- (417) 823-8998
  • Lutheran Disaster Response -- (800) 638-3522
  • Mennonite Disaster Service -- (717) 859-2210
  • Nazarene Disaster Response -- (888) 256-5886
  • Presbyterian Disaster Assistance -- (800) 872-3283
  • Salvation Army -- (800) SAL-ARMY/(800) 725-2769
  • Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief (800) 462-8657, ext. 6440
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief -- (800) 554-8583

    Until next time....


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