Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- Please tell me that I did not just witness WWE blatantly exploit Eddie Guerrero's death just two weeks after he died, in an attempt to pop a rating for their first primetime network TV "special" in years. I am in a state of shock right now about what just aired. I don't even know what to say, so I'm just going to say whatever comes out.

I will first offer a summary of what happened for those of you who were fortunate enough to not see it play out, with an overview of how I felt it got more offensive as the show went on, and then I will try to put into words how sick and disgusted I feel right now.

Overview of What Happened
The advertised main event for the "WWE Smackdown Live Special" on UPN was a David vs. Goliath-style match with Rey Mysterio vs. The Big Show. Both of these men were friends with Eddie Guerrero in real life, and both of them were on TV just two weeks ago speaking out of character and shedding some tears about the loss of their real-life friend. Early in this show, Smackdown play-by-play announcer Michael Cole mentioned that Rey Mysterio was dedicating this match to his friend, Eddie Guerrero.

To me, this came off as hardly offensive at all, because it may have really been intended as a tribute to Eddie... if that's all that happened. Rey Mysterio subsequently driving Eddie Guerrero's trademark low-rider to the ring for his match, and the low-rider being out there "in memory of Eddie Guerrero" was border-line exploitative. It was also just borderline exploitative when they re-aired an Eddie Guerrero tribute video and immediately followed it up not with a fade to black and a commercial break, but with a plug to stay tuned for Rey Mysterio wrestling his match against The Big Show in memory of Eddie Guerrero.

When he was getting beat up in the match, Mysterio would go to ringside and hug the car as if he was looking up to heaven for Eddie to help him in the match. It was getting a bit creepy at this point and definitely approaching the line of flat-out exploiting Eddie's death, but it hadn't crossed that line yet. (The low-rider had been made the defining symbol of Eddie Guerrero on the tribute show, as during the tribute show WWE Champion Dave Batista took off his title belt, put it on the hood of the low-rider, and left it there as a tribute to Eddie.)

Then we have The Big Show slam Mysterio up against Eddie's car and then power-bomb him on the hood of the car. So now we have Eddie Guerrero's car, which is supposedly out there "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero," being used as a prop in a pro wrestling match. We also have Paul Wight (aka, The Big Show) appearing to be all of a sudden playing a character who wants to dishonor the memory of Eddie Guerrero (including spitting on the windshield of the low-rider), when he was just on TV two weeks ago talking as a human being about what Eddie meant to him during his life.

I suppose this could have still been salvaged in some way (though it still would have been offensive) if it was all meant to build up to a clean win for Mysterio, and perhaps Mysterio looking up to the sky after the match in tribute to Eddie Guerrero. But it wasn't. The Mysterio vs. Big Show match ended in a no-contest and was dropped altogether when a run-in was made by The Undertaker, a man whose gimmick is that he's a "dead man." Rather than shying away from the fact that a match supposedly dedicated to someone who really did just pass away had just been abruptly halted by a man with the gimmick of being a "dead man," WWE embraced it and actually had Michael Cole say in a dramatic-sounding voice, "The dead have risen!" With Eddie Guerrero's car at ringside and with the announcers having mentioned Eddie Guerrero's name literally a dozen times in the previous half-hour, they just said, "The dead have risen!" That was flat-out tasteless.

After this Randy Orton, who WWE desperately wants to get over as a top-level heel around whom they can build the Smackdown side of the company, came out and attacked Undertaker. Okay, so at this point all of that stuff about the Mysterio vs. Big Show match being "dedicated to Eddie Guerrero" ultimately didn't lead anywhere, but the worst was yet to come.

Eddie Guerrero's car, the car that was out there "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero," was used as a prop for a pro wrestling storyline yet again when Randy Orton retrieved a tire iron that he had supposedly hidden in the car, and used it to hit The Undertaker. He slammed Undertaker up against the car and left him laying on the back of the car, on top of the trunk, and hit him flush on the head with the fake tire iron several times. It appeared that the show was going to end with the image of the Undertaker left unconscious, laid out on top of Eddie Guerrero's car, which would have been tasteless enough.

Instead, with Undertaker's supposedly unconscious body still on top of Eddie Guerrero's car, Randy Orton got in the car, started the ignition, put the car in reverse, and floored the gas pedal, driving backwards about 30 feet until the car hit the Smackdown entrance set and Undertaker went crashing through it, which is something that could seriously injure or kill a person from the "storyline perspective" where everything that happens is real. Eddie Guerrero's car was used essentially as a weapon for attempted murder, which was depraved and sickening. The fact that it was Eddie Guerrero's car was not treated as incidental and "just another weapon" for Orton to use; the announcers specifically played up the fact that Orton was using Eddie Guerrero's beloved low-rider, all as part of WWE's attempt to get Randy Orton over as a money-drawing top heel act.

(For those of you unfamiliar with pro wrestling, the goal of any heel character is to make you hate that character as much as possible, and the more despicable things that character does in the storylines, the more you will theoretically hate them. Scripting a storyline in which Randy Orton would have the audacity to use Eddie Guerrero's car as a weapon was designed to help get Randy Orton over as a top-level heel.)

Then, just to top it all off, as Randy Orton stepped back and watched the scene unfold, the car had supposedly tripped up some electrical wires, and with the Undertaker still supposedly lying on the back of the car (though by now it was surely just a dummy that was made to look like the Undertaker), a bunch of sparks went flying, there were multiple explosions, and the car burst into flames. As the announcers continued to play up that it was Eddie's car, the show went off the air after about 30 seconds of giving the impression that the Undertaker was presumably dead from the collision and the subsequent fire, and the the car that was originally at ringside "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero" burned in the flames.

My Commentary and Personal Opinions on This
I'm not going to sugar-coat this. Vince McMahon has some more burning to look forward to, and it's himself burning in hell. Normally, this miserable puke of a human being is able to contain himself to wait a few years before he blatantly exploits someone's death for profit... you know, like the whole "Legion of Doom reborn in the memory of Hawk" angle that exploited the death of Michael Hegstrand (aka, Road Warrior Hawk) for profit earlier this year.

We just had a week of TV after Eddie Guerrero died in which Vince McMahon actually appeared to show some class for once in his pathetic excuse for a life, with two tribute shows that featured no storylines and were all about honoring Eddie Guerrero.

For Vince McMahon to be using Eddie Guerrero's name and memory to pop a rating for a pro wrestling storyline two weeks later, and using Eddie's trademark low-rider as a prop, and actually blowing the damn thing up in a storyline where Randy Orton supposedly "killed" Undertaker, is a new low for a man who has once again demonstrated himself to be a of a human being.

Just in the past year, Vince McMahon has blatantly exploited terrorism for profit, first in a subtle way and then in a far-from-subtle way with a simulated terrorist attack and beheading that was taped on July 4th and still aired on the evening of July 7th even though a real terrorist attack had just killed dozens of people in London less than 24 hours earlier.

He has mocked the real-life cancer scare of a long-time employee, Jim Ross, in a televised segment that was designed solely for him to get his jollies from it. According to the Wrestling Observer, while preparing that segment behind the scenes he also mocked the real-life Bell's Palsy condition that causes Jim Ross to suffer from partial paralysis of his face.

Just two days ago, Vince McMahon was on national television using the N-word, which I suppose might be explainable for those who really want to defend Vince McMahon's every action if it were just a storyline of a 60-year-old man "trying to seem cool" with the context in which he used the word. But that's not the case, especially for someone with as much of a racist track record as Vince McMahon (please see pro wrestling history from 1980 to 2005 if you don't know what I'm talking about).

As bad as all of that was, it pales in comparison to what I have just witnessed. The pro wrestling world and all of its fans, and more importantly Eddie Guerrero's many close friends and the Guerrero family, lost a great human being two weeks ago. And now his death is being used to pop a quarter-hour rating for a main event storyline on a Tuesday night special, and the last defining trademark image of Eddie Guerrero is being used as a prop, literally blown up in an explosion, and used to supposedly "murder" someone whose pro wrestling gimmick is that he's a "dead man." Truly a disgrace.

Recent history and not-so-recent history both indicate that Vince McMahon loves to draw attention to himself even if it's in a controversial fashion, and I have no doubt that he's getting off on the fact that dishonoring and exploiting Eddie Guerrero's death is going to piss off lots and lots of people. Maybe this kind of outrage is just the reaction that he wants. Even if that's true, I don't think he wanted this particular reaction (and I don't think I'm the only fan who is thinking this right now): I'm done with Vince McMahon and his blood-money company.

I'm done with saying to myself, "Yeah, WWE is run by a vulture, but I've been watching pro wrestling since I was three years old and even today I really enjoy Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle and several other wrestlers and I really want to watch them." I have purchased every single WWE PPV for many years (and there have been 16+ pay-per-view events per year in recent years), and I am now going to either just buy the "Big Four" pay-per-view events every year, or buy none at all. I hope TNA continues to put on high-quality shows, because they now represent 95% of my pro wrestling consumption in the future.

I've said it before and I've never felt it more than I feel it right now: Vince McMahon is a piece of s--t as a human being. If he's not contributing to various people's deaths, he's exploiting their deaths for profit. Vince McMahon has no use for a dead person other than to exploit their death for profit.

I don't know for sure where we go when we die, and neither does anyone else, but I'm pretty sure that Eddie Guerrero is in a better place right now than the place where Vince McMahon will be going when he dies. You'd be naive if you didn't think that the same substances that allowed Vince McMahon to magically recover from two torn quadriceps in less than three months earlier this year (how does he do it?!?) are going to lead to his death sooner or later, and I truly believe that this Earth will be a better place without that scumbag on it.

I sincerely hope that Eddie Guerrero's wife and children were not watching this show tonight. May Eddie Guerrero rest in peace, and may his legacy and memory not be tarnished by WWE's sick attempts to exploit his death for profit.


Sunday, November 27, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Here's an interesting news item about the always classy Phil Baroni, from the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter...

"After the UFC show on 11/19, many of the fighters went to Pure, a night club in Caesar's Palace. Phil Baroni was there, and apparently way out of control. He saw Chris Leben, who UFC was attempting to match him up with, but it fell through, largely because Baroni was under contract to Pride. Baroni, pissed off and angry, approached Leben. Leben, seeing the state Baroni was in, stayed very calm. Baroni asked Leben if he wanted to fight him, and Leben said, 'No, you would probably kill me,' smartly diffusing the situation.

However, Baroni then saw an MMA web site reporter who apparently had made a lot of cracks about Baroni and steroids, and punched the guy in the face. The reporter was sitting with BJ Penn, who stepped in and told Baroni to cool it. Baroni, who was holding a drink, put his drink down and then challenged Penn to go at it. Unlike Leben, Penn was ready [to fight], but it was broken up by security because a punch had been thrown [at the reporter] and Baroni was out of there."

Labels: ,

Friday, November 25, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Medical Suspensions Handed Down to Various UFC Fighters
Mixed martial artists put their bodies on the line each and every time they compete, as reflected in the medical suspensions that were handed down after several recent UFC events. There has never been a death in any sanctioned MMA bout, but injuries are part of any sport and MMA is no exception. Many of these medical suspensions are given out as a precautionary measure.

Zuffa doesn't have anything to do with the length or type of medical suspension that any given fighter receives, as these decisions are left up to the doctors of the various athletic commissions, in this case the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

These medical suspensions were given out after various TUF 2 fights that were taped between June 15th and July 12th, the Ultimate Fight Night show on Spike TV back on October 3rd, the live TV finale of The Ultimate Fighter 2 on November 5th, and the UFC 56 pay-per-view on November 19th.

Medical Suspensions Stemming from Ultimate Fighter 2 Pre-Taped Fights
-Rob MacDonald was medically suspended indefinitely due to a torn left labrum and a torn left bicep
-Dan Christison was medically suspended indefinitely due to nasal and facial fractures
-Jorge Gurgel was medically suspended indefinitely due to a torn left ACL

Notes and Analysis:
-In the case of all three of these fighters, they will all need to get medical clearance from a doctor before they can fight again. What is so disheartening about these injuries is something that I've written about before, and that is the way in which these fighters were treated and portrayed on the show.

Dan Christison was portrayed as someone who "just didn't step up" and perform as well as he should have in his loss to Seth Petruzelli. The reality show would have led you to believe that he either gassed out or just didn't have the heart and desire to be there. In fact, he suffered multiple fractures to his nose and face. You'd think that tidbit of information would have been mentioned on the show, but it apparently made more sense to bury a fighter who was on his way out of the show at that point.

Jorge Gurgel was treated as a warrior who tried to gut it out despite having a torn ACL, which is a very serious knee injury. At the same time, Rob MacDonald was portrayed as a bum and a coward despite the fact that he stepped into the Octagon and fought with a torn labrum, which is a very serious shoulder injury. Not only that, but in the process of fighting with a torn labrum, MacDonald also tore his bicep. Everyone involved in the show who made disparaging remarks about MacDonald should be ashamed of themselves, from the people who made the comments in the first place, to the editors of the show who put a strong emphasis on them.

Beyond the fact that fighters who didn't deserve it were disrespected on national television, TUF 2 also brought back up the issue of fighters who go into fights knowing that they have a major injury, and the fact that this has repeatedly managed to elude the attention of the athletic commissions.

How exactly is it that Jorge Gurgel was allowed to fight with "no ACL in his knee," as he put it? How exactly is it that Rob MacDonald was allowed to fight with a torn labrum? Either the athletic commission knew that they had these serious injuries and still allowed them to fight (which would be wrong), or the fighters lied to the athletic commissions and/or failed to disclose their serious injuries (which would also be wrong).

This is not just limited to TUF 2. How did Ken Shamrock get medical clearance for his fight at UFC 40 when he had a torn meniscus in his knee going into the fight? How did Ken Shamrock get medical clearance for his fight at UFC 48 when he had a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder going into the fight? How did Forrest Griffin get medical clearance for his fight at UFC 55 when he had a torn rotator cuff and a torn ligament in his knee going into the fight?

The various athletic commissions, whether it's the Nevada State Athletic Commission, New Jersey State Athletic Commission, or Mohegan Tribe Athletic Council (since those are the only three jurisdictions in which the UFC regularly holds events), need to band together and do everything in their power to make sure that their pre-fight examinations are thorough enough to discover serious injuries even if a fighter wants to keep his injuries hidden.

One other note on the TUF 2 medical suspensions is that the doctors didn't hand out anywhere near as many suspensions as they normally would for twelve fights, largely because short-term medical suspensions were unnecessary under the circumstances. As part of the exhaustive agreements that they had to sign to be on the show (which included a multi-million-dollar fine if they told anyone about the fight results), all of the fighters involved in TUF 2 were already barred from fighting again until TUF 2 was done airing. Therefore, the doctors had no need to give out a bunch of short-term medical suspensions where they otherwise would have.

Medical Suspensions Stemming from the Ultimate Fight Night show on October 3rd
-Evan Tanner was medically suspended for eight weeks due to multiple large lacerations on his scalp and face
-Jay Hieron was medically suspended for eight weeks due to a large laceration on his forehead
-Josh Koscheck was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Fabiano Scherner was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Brock Larson was medically suspended for four weeks due to a facial laceration

Notes and Analysis:
-There were no long-term medical suspensions on this card, which is a rarity for a sanctioned MMA event. Only five of the fourteen fighters who competed on this event were given any medical suspensions, and three of those were due to cuts.

-Not coincidentally, when a cut is bad enough during a fight that the doctor advises the referee to stop the fight, it's usually a bad enough cut to warrant a medical suspension, as was the case on this event with Evan Tanner and Jay Hieron.

-At the same time, you can be medically suspended due to a cut even if that cut didn't end the fight. Brock Larson fought the entire three rounds on the non-televised undercard of this event, and lost via decision to Jon Fitch, but he was still given a four-week medical suspension due to a cut.

-Josh Koscheck and Fabiano Scherner were both medically suspended due to the fact that they took some clean shots at the end of their respective fights (both of these fighters lost by TKO). Koscheck in particular was not only knocked into a state of semi-consciousness, but was then choked out while in that state, causing him to lose for the first time in the UFC.

Medical Suspensions Stemming from the Ultimate Finale show on November 5th
-Kit Cope was medically suspended for six months unless he can get his shoulder and clavicle injuries cleared by an orthopedic doctor
-Sam Morgan was medically suspended for six months unless he can get his orbital and nasal fractures cleared by a doctor
-Kerry Schall was medically suspended for six months unless he can get his left knee and right hand injuries cleared by a doctor
-Marcus Davis was medically suspended for eight weeks due to an eyebrow laceration
-Diego Sanchez was medically suspended for six weeks due to an upper eyelid laceration
-Nick Diaz was medically suspended for six weeks due to facial bruises and a scalp laceration
-Rashad Evans was medically suspended for six weeks due to the heavy amount of punishment that he took in his slugfest decision victory
-Brad Imes was medically suspended for six weeks due to the heavy amount of punishment that he took in his slugfest decision loss
-Joe Stevenson was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his decision victory

Notes and Analysis:
-This event was the complete opposite of the October 3rd Spike TV event in terms of the number of major injuries that were sustained on this card. There wasn't a single fight that didn't result in at least one of the fighters being medically suspended, and in total nine of the fourteen fighters who competed were medically suspended. There were also three major, long-term suspensions, which just goes to show the risk that these fighters take every time they step in the Octagon.

-After his loss to Kenny Florian in the opening televised bout, Kit Cope made reference to the fact that he went into the fight with shoulder and clavicle injuries, and he wasn't kidding. It's courageous for a fighter to want to go ahead with a scheduled fight despite being injured, but the question has to be asked yet again: Why did the doctors not detect Cope's major injuries in their pre-fight physical examination of him?

-Three of the four biggest medical suspensions came from the non-televised undercard, including the six-month suspension handed down to Sam Morgan. It's hard not to feel bad for Morgan, who knocked out Duane "Bang" Ludwig in an MMA match on the very same night that the TUF 1 finale was taking place earlier this year (April 9th). Viewers had just seen Morgan lose an exciting fight in the TUF 2 semi-finals to Luke Cummo, a fight that had just aired a few days earlier but originally took place on July 11th. Just a few days after that fight aired, Morgan was knocked out in the first 30 seconds of his undercard bout against Josh Burkman. A nasal fracture is bad enough, but an orbital bone fracture is even worse and usually prevents a fighter from doing any contact training for several months.

-The knee injury that Kerry Schall suffered shortly after arriving at the TUF 2 filming in June was re-aggravated during his undercard fight against Keith Jardine on November 5th. To make matters worse, Schall also suffered an injury to his right hand in the Jardine fight.

-Marcus Davis suffered a cut near his eyebrow during his fight against Melvin Guillard that was severe enough to cause his fight to be stopped and to warrant an eight-week medical suspension.

-Diego Sanchez and Nick Diaz went through a classic 15-minute war, and both fighters were pretty banged up after the fight. Sanchez had a big cut near his eyelid that would have likely caused the fight to be stopped if the fight were five minutes longer, which would have caused him to lose by TKO even though he was winning the fight by a fairly wide margin. Meanwhile, Diaz had several bruises and cuts on his head, causing him to get the same six-week medical suspension that was given to Sanchez.

-In their three-round, back-and-forth slugfest, Rashad Evans and Brad Imes did not suffer any specific injuries that concerned the doctors, but they did take a huge amount of punishment and also fought in an exhausted state for most of the contest. Though Evans came out on top via decision, both fighters were given six-week medical suspensions. In response to those who have asked, Tony Weeks was the one judge who had Imes winning the fight on his scorecard, while Nelson Hamilton and Abe Belardo had Evans winning.

-In another reminder that winning or losing doesn't necessarily have any impact on whether you will be medically suspended, Joe Stevenson was actually given a medical suspension after his victory over Luke Cummo, while Cummo was not given a medical suspension. In a competitive fight between the two, Stevenson dominated the positioning game and also came close to finishing the fight with submissions on more than one occasion, but it was Cummo who landed the more punishing blows in the stand-up. The doctors do not necessarily give stand-up striking exchanges any more or less regard than ground-and-pound striking exchanges, but in this particular case they chose to give Stevenson a six-week medical suspension, while not giving Cummo any medical suspension.

Medical Suspensions Stemming from the UFC 56 event on November 19th
-Nate Quarry was medically suspended for six months due to multiple nasal fractures suffered in his KO loss (if his nose is cleared in the next six months, Quarry will still be medically suspended for a minimum of two months)
-Trevor Prangley was medically suspended for six months and must have his right hand X-rayed and cleared by a doctor
-Sean Sherk was medically suspended for eight weeks due to a nasal laceration and punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Keith Wisniewski was medically suspended for eight weeks due to punishment taken in his decision loss
-Ansar Chalangov was medically suspended for six weeks due to punishment taken in his TKO loss
-Kevin Jordan was medically suspended for six weeks due to an upper lip laceration

Notes and Analysis:
-This event had a significantly lower amount of medical suspensions, with only six of the sixteen fighters getting medically suspended. It helps that there were no fights on this card that resulted in both fighters getting medically suspended, and there were two fights that resulted in neither fighter being medically suspended (Matt Hughes vs. Riggs, and Sam Hoger vs. Jeff Newton).

-Due to the brutal nature of his knockout loss at the hands of Rich Franklin, it is likely that Nate Quarry would have been medically suspended for at least a few months even if he didn't suffer any injuries. However, Quarry's suspension was lengthened to six months due to the doctors' belief that Quarry suffered multiple fractures to his nose in the fight. If a doctor subsequently determines that Quarry's nose has healed and decides to medically clear him sometime in the next six months, Quarry will still be medically suspended for a minimum of two months due to the fact that he was knocked out in such a brutal fashion.

-Trevor Prangley is believed to have broken his right hand at some point during his fight against Jeremy Horn, which Prangley lost via decision. All three judges (Marcos Rosales, Nelson Hamilton, and Glenn Trowbridge) had Horn winning the first two rounds and Prangley winning the third, resulting in a 29-28 victory for Horn on all three judges' scorecards.

-Sean Sherk took a lot of punishment in his surprisingly one-sided loss to Georges St. Pierre, and also had a fairly big cut on his nose, resulting in an eight-week medical suspension. Kevin Jordan was given a six-week medical suspension under much the same circumstances, with a big cut coming alongside a TKO loss.

-To demonstrate that the manner in which you lose doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the length of your medical suspension, look no further than the cases of Keith Wisniewski and Ansar Chalangov. Chalangov was TKO'ed in his fight, while Wisniewski lost his fight via decision. On paper, you would think that Chalangov would get a longer medical suspension, but you would be wrong. Due to the fact that Wisniewski took a lot more punishment over the course of his three-round decision loss than Chalangov did in his TKO loss, Wisniewski was medically suspended for eight weeks, while Chalangov was only suspended for six weeks.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Video Games--- The Xbox 360 is off to a heck of a start at retail, with gamers all across the country lining up to get their systems. Countless gamers and parents have been turned away from retail stores without an Xbox 360 (though I'd be willing to bet that Jack Thompson was not among those waiting in line), due to the fact that the strong demand for the system far outweights the supply.

The most critically-acclaimed original games at launch have been Project Gotham Racing 3, Perfect Dark Zero, Call of Duty 2, and Condemned. Personally, I bought Madden NFL 2006 with my system and immediately rented Tiger Woods 2006, because I'm a huge fan of both franchises. The next game on my "to-do list" is Project Gotham Racing 3, which has been heavily praised for its single-player modes and even more so for its online multi-player modes.

The mainstream media and the video game press extensively covered the massive launch hysteria with plenty of stories about the long lines and angry mobs. One of the strangest bits of news came in a GameSpot news story. Here is an excerpt from that news story:

"On Tuesday, GameSpot staffers witnessed even more chaotic scenes at the local Target in Colma, on the peninsula south of San Francisco. There, a lone security guard spent most of the night shooing an increasingly unruly crowd away from the parking lot. The situation nearly spun out of control at around 7:00 AM, when the guard left his post for five minutes, prompting a mass influx of would-be customers eager to receive vouchers good for an Xbox 360.

When he returned, the security guard's attempts to get the 100-plus-person crowd to form a line were rebuffed until the arrival of police and a California National Guardsman at around 8:00 AM. A trio of veteran [GameSpot staff members] witnessed the Guardsman quickly take control of the situation and move to the head of the line--- where he promptly turned around and asked for an Xbox 360 voucher himself. The Guardsman then fled the scene, voucher in hand, leaving police, Target employees, and a visibly agitated crowd to fend for themselves."


Monday, November 21, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- We've got one more Eddie Guerrero tribute to add to the list, this one from former WWE announcer and executive Jim Ross. Ross was the Head of Talent Relations in WWE for many years, including the time period when Eddie Guerrero was hired.

"Eddie Guerrero and I had a special relationship that came together over time. The catalyst was the challenges this wonderful human being faced in his daily life. I know our relationship was special because I can feel it so strongly in my heart at this very moment — and because Eddie told me so this morning in a dream.

I managed the talent roster for WWE when Eddie was hired at WWE [in 2000]. I had known him and his famous wrestling family for years prior to Eddie becoming a WWE Superstar. But it was after Eddie came to WWE that our relationship became diverse, involved, and, luckily for me, one of the most rewarding and valued relationships I have ever developed in this business.

I will never forget Eddie. I will never forget the face-to-face, spirited discussions we had over his demons. I will never forget the moment we finally reached common ground, with tears flowing and hugs abounding. We both knew we had turned the corner and now there was a fighting chance for this amazing wrestler to live out the balance of his life clean and sober. Eddie got the help he needed. He returned to us a better man, and he became an even bigger star. Eddie Guerrero is easily one of the 10 best in-ring talents I have seen in 33 years in this business. I was so proud of Eddie, and I told him so every single time I saw him from the day he returned to work until the last time I saw him at SummerSlam [this past August].

Eddie seemed a little tired at SummerSlam in August when I saw him at the MCI Arena in Washington, D.C. But when our eyes locked he immediately had an ear-to-ear grin on his face and we embraced like long lost brothers. I guess in a way we were brothers … of the wrestling business. I kidded him about stealing the show at SummerSlam and how that might not sit well with those that had to follow “Latino Heat.” He smiled that mischievous smile of his that we all grew to love because that was exactly what Eddie had on his mind. I wished him good luck and told him how excited I was to be able to sit and watch his match just like a regular fan. We hugged for a few moments but not nearly long enough — as I realized when the news of my friend’s death reached me early Sunday morning.

Eddie, I am sorry I could not be a part of your tribute on Monday Night Raw. But you know my heart was there and you know that I will never forget you or what you have meant to me. You once told my wife that I saved your life. I don’t know about that, but I do know this: You definitely made my life better by me simply knowing you. I hope the young wrestlers in this business continue to look to you for inspiration and guidance. You were a wonderful inspiration to me and to so many others — not only as a wrestler but as a husband, father, brother, and friend.

I want to smile as I remember you now because I am weary from crying. Goodbye 'Uncle Eddie,' until we see each other again."


Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- A Wide-Ranging Look at the Life and Death of Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero died this past Sunday, November 13th, on the morning of a scheduled WWE TV taping in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Like millions of other people, I have been very distraught over Eddie's death, and I'm just a fan. I can't even imagine what his friends and family are going through.

The WWE tribute show that aired on Monday night provided a glimpse into what the entire WWE roster is going through, especially the people who were like brothers to Eddie such as Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and Eddie's nephew Chavo Guerrero. As difficult as it was for many people to witness the overwhelming sense of despair that was conveyed in those people's faces on Monday night, there is nothing that properly can convey the fact that a wife is now without a husband and three young girls are now going to have to grow up without a father.

The cause of death has been initially determined to be heart failure from a grossly enlarged heart. Eddie had just celebrated his four-year anniversary of being sober, but he would be the first to admit that he had many demons and addictions before that timeframe. Just one week ago, Eddie along with his wife and children were moving into a new house in the Phoenix area where he planned to eventually retire.

For the past several days, I have wanted to write a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, but I haven't been able to find the words to do so. I still can't. It still doesn't feel real. It still hasn't sunk in.

I wish I could just wake up and find that this is all just a bad dream... not merely for myself selfishly as a fan, but for Eddie Guerrero's family and for the many, many other people that he was personally close with.

I also wish I didn't have this sick feeling of dread that causes me to wonder who might be the next to die out of the group of wrestlers who go the extra mile (or several extra miles) to put their bodies on the line for the entertainment of the fans. I don't want Ric Flair to be next. I don't want Chris Benoit to be next. I don't want Kurt Angle to be next. I don't want anyone to be next.

Many different people have said and written many touching and poignant things about Eddie Guerrero in the days since his tragic death, and I wanted to share some of these articles and statements with you.

(If you would like to support Eddie Guerrero's wife and children, there is a special Eddie Guerrero Tribute T-Shirt that you can buy on WWEShop.com, and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Guerrero family.)

This is Dave Meltzer's initial report on Eddie Guerrero's death, published on Sunday morning:
"Eddy Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room in Minneapolis this morning at the age of 38.

The only details available are that Guerrero came in yesterday for tonight's scheduled television tapings at the Target Center, where he was scheduled to be in the main event. He was staying at the Marriott City Center hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

He had an early wake-up call shortly after 7 a.m. that he didn't answer. Chavo Guerrero, who he was traveling with, called the room and again got no answer. When knocks on his hotel room door went unanswered, security got the door open and Eddie was found dead in the bathroom. The belief at this time is that he suffered a heart attack while brushing his teeth... Guerrero was one of the best wrestlers of this generation and immensely popular within the industry."

Eddie Guerrero's wife, Vickie, spoke about Eddie's autopsy report and gave the following public statement on WWE's web site:
"It was heart failure. It was from his past, the drinking and the drug abuse. They found signs of heart disease. She [the medical examiner] said that the blood vessels were very worn and narrow, and that just showed all the abuse from the scheduling of work and his past. And Eddie just worked out like crazy all the time. It made his heart grow bigger and work harder and the vessels were getting smaller, and that's what caused the heart failure...

As soon as they saw his heart, they saw the lining of his heart already had the heart disease. There was no trauma, and Eddie hadn't hurt himself in any way. It answered a lot of questions. I knew Eddie wasn’t feeling very good for the last week. He was home and kept saying he wasn’t feeling good and we thought it was just 'road tired.' So we thought he just had to rest. It answered a lot of my questions, too, because he was just so exhausted. She said it was normal because the heart was working so hard.

When he didn't call me last night and the night before I knew it was for real, because he would call me every night. I miss his phone calls... I loved his laugh. His laugh was the best.

We just celebrated his four-year sobriety last Thursday. We just thought we had life by the handful. We thought we had it all figured out. He worked so hard to make a better life for us.

I’m just overwhelmed by how people are coming out. It’s touched my heart a lot. Everybody was just in awe last night in how beautifully everything was put together [on the tribute show]. All my life was wrestling. All he did was take care of them and live for that. And I don’t know what to do now."

Eddie Guerrero's nephew, Chavo, said this to the crowd after his match at the Smackdown tribute show tapings:
"From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Eddie thanks you. Eddie gave his life to this business, to the boys in the back, and for you the fans."

Chris Benoit, who spent most of the past 15+ years on the road with Eddie Guerrero and was one of his closest friends, said this on the Raw tribute show:
"We laughed, we cried, we fought... Eddie was the one person that I could go to and pour my heart out to, no matter what was happening in my life. I knew he would understand and talk me through it. We would talk about life, past, present, and future... I love his family. My heart and prayers go out to his wife Vickie and his daughters. I can't imagine the sorrow they're going through... Eddie, I know you are in a better place. You made such a great impression on my life and I want to thank you for everything you've given me. I want to thank you from my heart and tell you I love you and will never forget you and I will see you again someday."

Dave Batista, who had become very close friends with Eddie Guerrero in the past few months, said this on the Raw tribute show:
"Eddie helped me out of some tough spots. Being in the position that I'm in with the title, there was a lot of weight on my shoulders. He would quote scripture to inspire me. He helped me through personal problems, keeping my head on straight. He was so funny, so easy to work with... Eddie always seemed to be in pain. He seemed to be in so much pain, but then he'd walk through the curtain and you'd never know it, the adrenaline would just kick in and he would put on a show for all of the fans... Eddie Guerrero loved this business. He found peace in this ring. My one comfort is Eddie is at peace. Eddie is with God... Eddie, I miss you, and I will never forget you."

Chris Jericho, who worked with Eddie Guerrero all over the world and was one of his closest friends, wrote this on his web site (using the Spanish spelling of "Eddy"):
"I am devastated by the news of Eddy's passing and I am so sad... I've lost a lot of friends over the years, but this one hurts the most by far.

I had the pleasure of meeting Eddy in Mexico City almost 14 years ago and we've been close ever since... He is one of my favorite people that I've ever met in the wrestling business, as well one of the greatest performers I've ever seen and had the pleasure to work with... He was also so humble and a true family man and most importantly a warrior for God. He taught me so much about wrestling and about being a man and it is an honor to call him a true brother and friend.

I have so many classic Eddy stories that I would love to share, but instead I'm just going to go and cry myself to sleep remembering what an awesome human being Eddy was and will always be. May God bless your family and your soul and may he keep you safe forever... I love you, my brother..."

Rob Van Dam, who worked with Eddie Guerrero in both ECW and WWE, said this on WWE's web site:
"I'm glad I had the chance to tell Eddie what he meant to me. One time, when there was nobody there in the dressing room, I had a serious moment where I said, 'Eddie, you know what, when I see you, you know what comes to mind? What I think of? Strength.' Strength comes to mind. I told him, 'You're overcoming your struggles and are so strong to do that.'

I'm glad that I got to tell Eddie that he definitely symbolized strength for me. I would be in a joking, goofing around mode, whatever I can do to get me through that time and sometimes I would look over there at Eddie, and he would be so serious and intense and I would see that he was strong and he was overcoming something. I don't know, maybe he was upset about a promo he had to do that night or maybe something personal in his life, I don't know but there were a lot of times where he was fighting, he was always fighting, and I respected him for that because he was always able to get everything done and he really seemed like he was juggling a lot and had a lot on his plate and I always felt like that about him."

Current WWE play-by-play announcer Joey Styles, who also knew Eddie Guerrero when they were both in ECW, wrote this on his web site:
Eddie was the last person I saw when I went up to my room on Saturday night because he was checking in with Chavo as I was going to bed. I spent a good portion of the day on Sunday looking for a private place in the Target Center to hide and let out a good hard cry. I will never forget how awkward I felt when WWE agent David Finlay and the entire roster of WWE Divas found me sobbing in the corner of the agents' room.

As for Raw, each time an Eddie tribute testimonial or Eddie highlight package came up on my monitor I wanted to cry, and I felt so nauseous with grief that I wanted to vomit but I just kept doing what I needed to do, counting the minutes until the show was over...

I am so upset posting this that I cannot do anymore, so just let me say that I look forward seeing Eddie again so I can share the story about Mr. Finlay and the Divas with him and Jesus and we can all laugh. God bless you Eddie."

Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch wrote the following about the Monday night tribute show:
"The show felt 98 percent genuine and two percent border-line exploitative. That's about the best margin possible in this type of situation. Putting all angles and promos aside made it feel like it was about Guerrero, not anything else...

Chris Benoit's crying and outpouring of emotion was as memorable as anything you'll see on TV this year... After Chris Benoit's moving tribute to his friend, it almost seemed like we were all voyeurs looking in on something we weren't really part of. But if one thing came through in the big picture, it's that Guerrero would have wanted everyone to be part of the tribute show - including if not especially the fans.

The way the night went, it was cathartic for everyone to be together on such short notice. How often does a public figure die, and at least half of his best friends in the world, most of his co-workers, and 8,000 fans gather within 12 hours to pay respects, laugh and cry, and share memories? ... Guerrero had such a vibrant personality and was so open with his emotions and open about problems in his life that fans felt a greater bond with him than most public figures. That showed.

WWE put together a tasteful, classy, memorable night that the Guerrero family can be proud of and look back on years from now (especially his young kids) whenever they want to get a feeling for the public, professional side of their lost loved one."

WorldWrestlingInsanity's James Guttman wrote the following about Eddie Guerrero and about the Monday night tribute show:
"There are some days that just seem to last forever. Yesterday, November 13th, was one of those days. It was the day that we all lost Eddie Guerrero, one of this industry's most talented, respected, and loved performers.

Eddie touched all of our lives. Whether you knew him personally or not, you shared in his art. You watched him compete and entertain. At the end of the day, you took part in his craft by watching him practice it.

At the time of his death, Guerrero was a top wrestler in World Wrestling Entertainment. Sitting atop the Smackdown totem pole, Eddie seemed to be a staple of WWE's programming. While no death is predicable, Guerrero's was especially shocking. I mean, we were still analyzing his performance on Smackdown last week and wondering if he would win the World Title at the next set of tapings. In an instant, that all changed and many of us were left asking why.

Death is a hard thing to understand for many people. How could someone so alive and vibrant one day be gone the next? ... The hardest part with handling a death like this is the immediacy of it all. Eddie was someone who many people had just seen. He wasn't sick. He wasn't incapacitated. He was up, smiling, and looked more alive than most. Now that he's gone, his voice is still vivid in our minds. It's a shock to the system when you realize that he's no longer with us. After all, if you close your eyes, you can still hear him. You can still picture him. It doesn't seem real.

It won't seem real for a while, if at all. There's some losses I've experienced in my life that still don't seem real. The most we can do is sit back and honor Eddie the best way we know how. We need to celebrate his life and achievements. Whatever emotions that brings out are okay. Some will be sad. Some will be angry. Some will be confused. Whichever emotion you experience is the right one because it's yours. Everyone mourns in their own way.

Tonight's Raw is not a normal episode. It's about the legacy of a good man who loved what he did. It's about someone we all knew in some small way and will miss very deeply. It's about Eddie Guerrero and the memories he helped create. Thank you, Eddie. Thank you for all you've given us. Tonight, we celebrate you...

... A video of Chris Benoit discussing Eddie Guerrero followed. This was the most heart-breaking thing I've seen in a long time. Benoit was overflowing with emotion and just broke down. I can't even begin to express how terrible I feel for Chris and how many fans who saw this must be hurting for him right now...

...I thought WWE did a great job with tonight's show. It was nice to remember some of the great moments that Eddie Guerrero gave us. The night was heart-wrenching at times, and you couldn't help but feel emotional watching some of Guerrero's friends and colleagues break down. There's nothing more to really say here. I'm just sitting here staring blankly. There's a lot of emotion to digest."

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer wrote the following after Monday night's tribute show on USA Network (edited for punctuation and paragraph breaks):
"I think everyone needed to cry and on a personal standpoint, I would like to thank the people involved in the show last night, in particular the people who spoke from the heart about Eddy Guerrero last night, because I don't think any of them realize how much they did for all of us watching. It is a tragedy that a great wrestler passed away too young, when he had so much to give the profession. But that is a terribly minor tragedy compared to the fact that a wonderful human being passed away.

I recognize that almost everyone reading this is hurting right now, and if they aren't, I'm very sorry for you, but there many people who lost a very dear friend. Unfortunately, something like this had to happen for the whole world to realize it, and if there is a such thing as him watching from above, I guess he saw it... One thing about these tragedies and it really is the most important thing, is that his children and his wife loved that man. He and his wife were childhood sweethearts and no doubt with Eddy she had the highest of highs, and unfortunately, she had to endure the lowest of lows a few years ago... The plight of the families left behind is rarely thought about. That is the real heartbreak here, and elsewhere.

For every wrestler, and everyone in wrestling who makes decisions, you should try to at least learn something from this, whether it's being a better friend, or being humble, because Eddy Guerrero had the talent of 100 people and was never arrogant about it, and he didn't get so good at his profession without loving to give people the kind of show that he perceived his father did. He had gigantic shoes to fill in the ring, and he more than filled them.

He had battles every day of his life with his own problems, and being in a world that in many ways is the worst world to be in for someone with depression and addiction issues. He appeared to be winning the battle. He achieved things that few would have ever thought were possible for a man of his stature. But there is a real truth here about the families left behind, and that this was not a freak occurrence but the result of bad decisions. Most of all, the greatest thing that can happen to celebrate Eddy's memory is not watching clips of him performing against Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko or Rey Mysterio... but if somehow this is learned from, and becomes a true watershed moment in the profession, and some families are saved from this in the future."

Here are a few excerpts from Wade Keller's in-depth news story about Eddie Guerrero's life and death:
"Eddie hadn't been feeling well for several weeks. According to friends and his wife, he had felt weak, run-down, achy, just not right. History has taught wrestlers, though, that you never slow down unless you have to or else you might 'lose your spot' to someone healthier who is deemed more reliable. The second you step aside to take a breath, someone else may swoop in, get over with fans due to an increased push and TV exposure, and knock you permanently down the card. So Eddie churned on, with the carrot of another World Title reign being dangled in front of him due to Batista's recent injury...

... The scene backstage at the event [the show taped on Sunday night] was said to be somber. Wrestlers and staffers were walking around in disbelief and shock, sharing memories and consoling each other. Before the show, on his way from the hotel to the arena, Batista - a close friend of Guerrero behind the scenes - hid his eyes behind sunglasses and hung his head. He moved slowly, deliberately, appearing to be overcome by grief. Later that afternoon, he'd break down and cry when talking about what Eddie meant to him as a person and to his career. That aired on Raw. He also later talked about Guerrero from center-ring for the opening segment of Smackdown.

Chris Benoit appeared to be the most emotionally distraught. To open Raw, all of the WWE wrestlers in attendance that night stepped onto the stage. A lot of tears were being shed. Benoit, though, was sobbing. Uncontrollably. He was grieving the loss of his best friend. The message was clear from what Guerrero's colleagues said about him - he was respected, loved, appreciated, and already missed...

... It has been brought up numerous times this week that he was the first Mexican-American to hold a major World Heavyweight Title in a national promotion. Perhaps more remarkably, he was the smallest wrestler to hold a major national World Heavyweight Title. Several inches under six feet tall, his climb to the top of WWE - known traditionally as a 'big man's promotion' with an owner who has a size fetish - may be the best indication of just how good he really was."

Dave Scherer of PWInsider wrote:
"As I sit here and type this, I am numb, blindsided by news I didn't see coming, from miles away. It was just Friday night that Eddie Guerrero was in the ring with Ken Kennedy entertaining us on Smackdown, and now he's gone.

His dying, far too young, is a tragedy. There is no other way to look at it. A wife has lost her husband, children have lost their father, and it's just downright sad, my friends.

I remember the first time I saw Eddie work [in New Japan Pro Wrestling]. He was a guy who, the first time I saw him, I knew would be a star in the business for a long time due to the simple fact that he was an amazing wrestler. As we would later find out, there was more to him than just wrestling prowess in the ring.

In the ring, there was no one like him, but putting his body on the line, night after night, would take its toll in the long run, as would the pride that he took in his work and the pressure that he put on himself to succeed.

The bumps that wrestlers take throughout their career hurt more and more as the years go on, and there were a lot of bumps on Eddie's body. It's also no secret that his run as WWE Champion took its toll on him emotionally as he put a ridiculous amount of pressure on himself to succeed.

Now, he's gone, at just 38 years old. It's still so hard for me to comprehend. It hasn't sunk in, really. All I can I hope out of all this is that Eddie has found peace and that the pain is gone."

(Note by Ivan Trembow: As much as we'd all like to pretend that no such problem exists, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that Eddie Guerrero was a victim of the way that the pro wrestling industry is set up. So, these last three articles focus on the problems of the pro wrestling industry, and how they specifically helped contribute to the death of Eddie Guerrero.)

James Caldwell of the Pro Wrestling Torch wrote the following (this is a series of brief excerpts from a much larger column by Caldwell):
"[I had been] inspired by Kurt Angle's promo on the November 7th edition of Raw where Angle delivered one of the more entertaining five minutes of television seen on a wrestling program this year, before moving into a heartfelt discussion of separating from his wife and making many sacrifices for the wrestling business. I considered the lifestyle that a wrestler must live to be part of the business. It's a lifestyle that can make it a struggle for a wrestler to make it to the next town.

Eddie Guerrero fought that struggle for many years and through the struggle, he put forth his best effort in the ring every night to make sure fans who bought a ticket got their money's worth. His dynamic personality and in-ring ability made him one of the top reasons anyone would tune to UPN on a Friday night to watch wrestling...

... Eddie Guerrero was a victim of the vicious pro wrestling cycle that eats up even those who go through rehab and take a stab at sobriety. Some will argue it's up to the individual to make the decision and address his or her own problems. Yes, many of Eddie's struggles came from his own decisions. However, the system is broken. It demands an unsustainable lifestyle that produces too many victims...

... Hopefully, Vince McMahon and the wrestling business will take Guerrero's death as the final piece of evidence that it's time to address issues that compromise wrestlers' health, like not demanding meatheads [heavily-muscled wrestlers] for wrestlers, and allowing wrestlers an opportunity to heal from injuries without the consequences of being questioned for their dedication to the company. Vince McMahon has the power to initiate change for the sake of the health of his business. More importantly, he can ensure that today's headliners live long enough to tell their grandchildren about their days as a WWE headliner."

Andrew Martin, who wrestled as Test in WWE, made a post on his web site on Sunday night. In a shocking move last year, WWE released Martin just a couple of months into a 12+ month recovery process for surgery to repair a broken neck, which was an injury that he suffered while wrestling for WWE. Here are excerpts from what Andrew Martin wrote (edited for punctuation and grammar):
I've been up all night and haven't really slept as everyone knows by now that Eddie Guerrero has passed away. Everybody knows Eddie had his demons, but he had been clean for a long time. It was way too soon for him to go, and he leaves behind three young daughters and a wonderful wife. My heart goes out to them.

Eddie was a huge help to me. He helped me progress in the ring, and we even wrestled each other at WrestleMania in Houston in 2001. Eddie, I pray that you are in a better place and I thank you for everything you taught me...

... Now, I'm actually wondering who's next. Who's next to die? How come [so many pro wrestlers die prematurely] while football players and hockey players don't? The answer is simple: Wrestlers, especially WWE wrestlers, work five days per week all year long, taking bump after bump in the ring. A doctor explained it to me like this: Every bump that you take in the ring is like being in a car and getting rear-ended by a car that's going 20 miles per hour. So, how many bumps per night do you take in the ring? Multiply that by how many times per week you work all year long, and that's all of a lot of whiplash and pain...

... I can remember hearing a conversation from some unnamed WWE head guys talking about how a certain wrestler needed to go to rehab, but they couldn't send him because he was too important to the show. That's the reality, people. That's how we are treated.

When Johnny Ace called me and told me that they were releasing me, I said to him, 'What kind of message are you sending the boys in the locker room? That if they get hurt and miss time, they are going to get fired?' So for all the guys who don't want to lose their jobs, what do they do? God forbid they say they are hurt and lose their job... I'm not going to name names, but I know of at least a dozen or so wrestlers who are addicted to these things [prescription painkillers] and that's the reason--- 'Get hurt, lose your job.' I just turned 30, my back aches every day, and I have a metal plate in my neck. You guys don't see the ugly side of this business. Yes, wrestling is entertainment, but the bumps and bruises are real, and sometimes they don't go away.

... The sad part is that Eddie was clean and I guarantee you that he won't be the last one to die in the next 12 months, so that's why I say 'who's next?' Don't take your life for granted. It's a gift. Don't go to bed mad, and always tell the people you care about that you love them because you never know. Take care."

Bruce Mitchell of the Pro Wrestling Torch wrote the following (this is a series of brief excerpts from a much larger column by Mitchell):
Eddie Guerrero should have been a natural. But he wasn't. Eddie Guerrero was too small, too short, too thin to be a star in the U.S. Well, that's not true. Eddie Guerrero was just too small to get a job, at least with either of the two national wrestling companies, WCW or the WWF. No matter what else Eddie Guerrero brought to the craft, he wasn't even going to get the opportunity in that era's wrestling world.

You see, Vince McMahon had a vision of what a professional wrestler should be. Hulk Hogan and The Road Warriors personified that vision. The fans ratified it. Eddie Guerrero didn't come close...

... For Eddie Guerrero, [getting hired by WCW] was the break he'd been waiting for and the continuation of an unnatural progression, because no matter how good he was in the ring, no matter how fans reacted to his charismatic grinning and sneering, the talk in the WCW locker room (and it was Hulk Hogan's locker room) was that he was too small.

So Eddie Guerrero did what it took to get bigger. It's easy to forget after watching him and all his peers who made their calling card their work ability and not their size for all those years, but Eddie Guerrero carried much more muscle mass than his frame was naturally built to carry...

He felt compelled to look like that, even if it was never enough, and that alone was going to take its toll over the years. Compounding that was the talent and desire that made Guerrero push himself beyond his physical limits in the ring year after year, month after month, night after night... Guerrero wanted the main event position, he wanted his family to have the financial rewards that came with it, and he paid the enormous price to get them...

... [This year] Eddie was facing up to a harder reality. He was 38 years old, his body was breaking down, his window of opportunity to stay a top performer was closing, and he had a young family that he loved and wanted to provide for, the same way he always had. He didn't always see that his acting ability and psychology might have carried him forward as a top performer for many years to come.

That was a heavy burden to carry for a man who wore every emotion he felt - his joy at delighting fans, his passion for working great matches, his love for his mother, his brothers, his wife, his daughters and his friends, his religious faith, his insecurity, and his despair on that expressive face for everyone to see.

And then, like so many times before, that burden was lifted off his shoulders forever."


Saturday, November 12, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter 2 Live Finale Sets New UFC Ratings Records
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Despite the fact that its ratings started to collapse in the second half of its season, the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 2 drew an overall rating of 2.0 this past Saturday night on Spike TV. This makes it the most-watched live television broadcast in the history of the UFC, surpassing the previous high mark that was set by the first season finale back on April 9th of this year.

When looking at the big picture of TUF 2's ratings, there are two different sides to the story. On one hand, the live season finale was hugely successful. On the other hand, the 12-episode regular season demonstrated an alarming trend of decreasing ratings as the season progressed. We are first going to look at the live season finales of both TUF 1 and TUF 2, followed by a look at the first 12 "regular" episodes of each season.

TUF 1 Season Finale vs. TUF 2 Season Finale
If you just looked at the ratings for the two season finales and nothing else, you would have no idea that a problem even exists. TUF 2's live finale drew a 2.0 overall rating, compared with the 1.9 overall rating that was drawn by TUF 1's live finale.

This was very surprising given the decreased public interest in TUF 2 as the season progressed, and it stands as proof that most casual MMA fans will go out of their way to see live MMA fights on free television even if they lose interest in the reality show that sets the stage for those fights.

In the 18-to-24-year-old male demographic, the live season finale of TUF 2 was the most-watched show on all of television on the night that it aired (with a 3.9 rating in that demographic), a feat that was also accomplished by TUF 1's season finale. TUF 2's finale also had more 18-to-24-year-old male viewers than the majority of shows on television in the past week, including college football on NBC and ESPN, The OC on Fox, The Real World on MTV, WWE Raw on USA Network, and even the two shows that have the most overall viewers of any shows on television: CSI and Desperate Housewives on CBS and ABC, respectively.

The Ultimate Fighter 2's finale drew better ratings than the TUF 1 finale in the 18-to-24-year-old male demographic, and also in the 25-to-34-year-old male demographic. However, the TUF 1 finale actually drew a higher rating than the TUF 2 finale in the 35-to-49-year-old male demographic. The result is that when you combine the aforementioned three demographics and look at all male viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the bottom line is that the finales of TUF 1 and TUF 2 both drew the same 2.7 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old male demographic.

However, Spike TV and its advertisers are primarily focused on viewers under the age of 35, so the drop-off in this demographic is probably of very little concern to Spike TV.

What they care about more than anything, other than the overall rating, is the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic. That is the target audience for the vast majority of the commercials that you see on UFC programming, and in that demographic the TUF 1 finale drew a 3.3 rating, while the TUF 2 finale drew a 3.7 rating.

Taken on an hour-by-hour basis, the TUF 2 season finale grew in viewership as the show progressed. The first hour averaged a 1.6 overall rating, the second hour averaged a 2.1 overall rating, and the third hour averaged a 2.2 overall rating.

In the key demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males, the viewership for the TUF 2 finale grew even more as the show progressed. The first hour averaged a 3.2 rating in this demographic, the second hour averaged a 3.8 rating, and the third hour averaged a 4.0 rating.

The Monday night replay of The Ultimate Finale, which aired from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM, drew an overall rating of just 0.8. The replay went head-to-head not only with WWE Raw, but also with the highest-rated Monday Night Football game of the year thus far, as the Colts vs. Patriots game drew a 13.1 overall rating.

TUF 1 Regular Season vs. TUF 2 Regular Season
Looking at the regular season ratings for TUF 1 and TUF 2, it's a completely different story. The ratings collapsed as the TUF 2 season progressed, and Spike TV has to be nervous about the kind of ratings that will be drawn by TUF 3's regular season next spring. (For the purposes of this comparison, we will look at the two numbers that matter the most: the overall ratings, and the 18-to-34-year-old male ratings.)

Looking at the first 12 normal, pre-taped episodes of each season, TUF 1 averaged a 1.6 overall rating, while TUF 2 averaged a 1.4 overall rating. Not that big of a deal, right? Wrong. The problem is that the viewership patterns for TUF 2 were the complete opposite of TUF 1. While TUF 1 gained viewers as the season went on and more people discovered the series, TUF 2 lost viewers as the season went on and more people were turned off by the series and decided not to watch it anymore.

If you take each season's 12 regular episodes and break them down into groups of three episodes apiece, TUF 1 started off by averaging a 1.5 overall rating for its first three episodes, and ended its season by averaging a 1.8 rating for its final three episodes. The lowest-rated episodes were the first two episodes (both of which drew 1.4 overall ratings), and it was all uphill from there.

The pattern with the second season was the exact opposite. In the case of TUF 2, the first three episodes averaged a 1.7 overall rating, the next three episodes averaged a 1.4 overall rating, the next three episodes averaged a 1.2 overall rating, and the final three episodes also averaged a 1.2 overall rating. That is an alarming trend, and it represents a big challenge for Spike TV and Zuffa in the future.

The final six episodes, which no longer had WWE Raw on Spike TV as a lead-in, were only able to average a 1.2 overall rating, and future seasons of The Ultimate Fighter are never going to have WWE Raw as a lead-in for even one episode now that WWE has gone back to USA Network.

If an overall rating of 1.2 is all that future seasons of TUF can muster, that's still a hit show by the standards of cable television ratings, but it won't garner as much in advertising revenue because it's nowhere near what the ratings were at the beginning of the second season.

Spike TV and Zuffa can, and almost certainly will, point to the fact that TUF 2 performed better in the key 18-to-34-year-old male demographic than TUF 1, and that is true if you're strictly talking about the season average. The first season's 12 regular episodes averaged a 2.2 rating in this demographic, and the second season averaged a 2.5 rating in this demographic.

However, to simply say, "The ratings average was up in the key demographic" would be ignoring the fact that the same disturbing trend also existed in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic. While TUF 1 gained viewer support in the key demographic as the season progressed, TUF 2 turned off viewers in the key demographic as the season progressed.

Looking at the twelve regular episodes from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, the first three episodes of the season averaged a 1.8 rating in the key demographic. After that, the next three episodes averaged a 2.1 rating in this demographic, the next three episodes averaged a 2.2 rating, and the final three episodes averaged a 2.5 rating.

Once again, the pattern was the exact opposite with TUF 2 (albeit not as drastic). The first three episodes of TUF 2 averaged a 2.6 rating in the key demographic. From there, the next three episodes averaged a 2.5 rating in this demographic, the next three episodes averaged a 2.4 rating, and the final three episodes averaged a 2.3 rating.

How to Improve The Ultimate Fighter's Future Ratings
The question for the UFC at this point is how it can build interest back up for a series that much of the first-season audience has stopped watching. As I've previously written, one of the biggest reasons for TUF 2's audience collapse was likely the way in which many of the fighters were presented. What do Mike Whitehead, Dan Christison, Rob MacDonald, Tom Murphy, Kenny Stevens, and Eli Joslin have in common? If you answered, "They were all treated like a piece of garbage and a bum when they were eliminated on the show," you answered correctly. Reality show viewers want to get attached to certain characters and root for them, and there's nothing more discouraging on that front than the constant threat that their chosen character(s) could be buried at any time and unfairly portrayed as a bum.

Another thing that needs to happen in future seasons of The Ultimate Fighter is that the over-the-top product placement spots have to be eliminated. No matter how brief, it severely hurts the credibility of the show when you have fighters participating in scripted-looking scenes where they say things like, "Hey, is that Xyience you're using? Why, yes it is, I love Xyience! I love Xyience, too! We all love Xyience!" This might not be that big of a deal if it only happened once or twice during the TUF 2 season, but the fact that it was an almost weekly occurrence is nothing short of ridiculous. This hurts the show as a whole because scripted-looking scenes like that are naturally going to give many viewers the false impression that other aspects of the show are scripted as well, and that can be the kiss of death for any reality show in terms of viewer interest.

Hopefully, the producers of TUF will not resort to cheap tactics like putting large amounts of hard alcohol in the house like they did with the first season. I wrote about those tactics extensively during the first season, calling it Trash TV, and I stand by those comments. It not only hurts the image of the sport, but also hurts the show's long-term ratings appeal just for a short-term gain. It would also hurt TUF's future advertising rates if the show's contestants were consistently perceived as a bunch of drunkards, whereas right now TUF is actually viewed by the television advertising community as a fairly "high-brow" product when compared to franchises like WWE.

How to Improve the Ratings of Future Live Fight Specials
In the case of the TUF 2 finale, the UFC was very fortunate to have had what was probably an even better night of fights than the first TUF's season finale. While the TUF 1 finale had one classic fight for the ages and two fights that were fairly short and one-sided, the TUF 2 finale had a good opening fight and three back-to-back fights that were all excellent. Those fights could just as easily have turned out to be stinkers, and there's nothing the UFC can do about that.

There is certainly something that Zuffa can do about the pacing of the shows, but instead the company continues to shoot itself in the foot. Let me first state that I am not just blindly saying, "I hate commercials!" as some people have said on MMA message boards. Every hour of television is going to have approximately 16 minutes of commercials, and that's just the way it is. The 48 minutes of commercials on any given three-hour UFC broadcast on Spike TV are essential because they generate very large amounts of revenue for both Spike TV and Zuffa, which allows them to produce more live fight specials. Forty-eight minutes of commercials on a 180-minute broadcast still leaves the UFC with 132 minutes of television time to fill, and the issue here is how the UFC chooses to fill that 132 minutes of TV time.

It wasn't a direct acknowledgment that there is a problem that needs to be fixed, but UFC President Dana Whiteby did say in a recent media interview that the TUF 2 finale would be faster-paced, with more action and less talking, than the UFC's October 3rd live fight special. In fact, the exact opposite was true.

As I have previously documented, the long gaps between fights on the October 3rd broadcast lasted 17 minutes, 25 minutes, and 21 minutes. Instead of cutting back on this down-time by airing more fights in the allotted time, which was the stated goal going into the show, the long gaps between fights were actually longer than ever before.

The gaps in between fights on the TUF 2 finale lasted 27 minutes, 33 minutes, and 32 minutes, which is just inexcusible. Also, the first fight didn't start until 17 minutes after the show went on the air. In total, four fights aired on the three-hour broadcast.

There is a way to properly hype each fight, and also hype upcoming PPV events, without having a half-hour black hole between every fight. Hardcore MMA fans are going to keep watching through the down-time no matter what, but the vast majority of the viewership consists of casual MMA fans, and many of them have undoubtedly tuned out during one of the half-hour-long gaps in between fights.

The TUF 2 finale was able to draw an excellent 2.0 overall rating even with these painfully long gaps in between fights, but it would be naive to suggest that the UFC wouldn't be drawing even better ratings if the shows had better pacing with more action and less time in between fights.

Quarter-Hour Ratings Support the "More Fights, Less Filler" Philosophy
Besides common sense, a look at the quarter-hour ratings for the TUF 2 finale also backs up the simple assertion that I have made, as the general trend of audience growth was clearly slowed down at times by the lack of action, and the viewership actually dropped at other times when there was no fighting.

The first 15 minutes of the broadcast, which featured zero fights, drew a 1.3 overall rating. The second quarter-hour, which featured the Florian vs. Cope fight, shot up to a 1.6 overall rating. The rating for the third quarter-hour, featuring zero fights, stayed the same instead of growing; while the fourth-quarter hour, featuring the Stevenson vs. Cummo fight, shot up to a 1.9 overall rating.

The next quarter-hour, featuring the rest of the Stevenson vs. Cummo fight, increased to a 2.2 overall rating. The next two quarter-hours, neither of which featured any fights, actually dropped in viewership to a 1.9 rating. When the Evans vs. Imes fight started in the next quarter-hour, the rating increased drastically to 2.5.

The next quarter-hour, featuring the final three minutes of the Evans vs. Imes fight, drew a 2.4 overall rating. The following quarter-hour, with no fights, dropped down to a 2.0 overall rating. The final two quarter-hours of the broadcast, both of which featured parts of the Sanchez vs. Diaz fight, increased once again and drew quarter-hour ratings of 2.3.

You might be thinking that maybe it's just older viewers or other "un-important" demographics that are often unwilling to sit through the long gaps in between fights. However, that is not the case, as there was a similar pattern among the UFC's core audience of 18-to-34-year-old males.

In the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic, the ratings increased at various times when the show went from a "non-fight quarter-hour" to a quarter-hour with a fight in it. The presence of the respective fights caused the ratings in this demographic to increase from 2.7 up to 3.2 (for Florian vs. Cope); from 3.4 up to 3.5 and 4.0 (for Stevenson vs. Cummo); from 3.5 up to 4.2 and 4.1 (for Evans vs. Imes); and from 3.8 up to 4.2 and 4.0 (for Sanchez vs. Diaz).

On the other hand, the lack of fighting in various quarter-hours caused the ratings in the 18-to-34-year-old male demographic to drop from 4.0 down to 3.7 (after the Stevenson vs. Cummo fight); from 3.7 down to 3.5 (when there was still no fight after Stevenson vs. Cummo); and from 4.1 down to 3.8 (after the Evans vs. Imes fight).

The long gaps between fights are clearly causing many viewers to tune out. The solution to this problem is simple, and it is what UFC President Dana White publicly said was going to be applied to the TUF 2 finale broadcast.

If the UFC were to put more fights on the air during any given broadcast (airing prelim fights if necessary), there would be less down-time in between fights, the UFC could still spend 10 to 15 minutes sufficiently hyping whatever they want to hype in between fights, and a combination of common sense and statistical evidence clearly demonstrates that the UFC's future live fight specials would draw higher ratings as a result.

The UFC's Ratings Conundrum
Reality shows generally tend to burn out in terms of viewer interest, and given the fact that The Ultimate Fighter already experienced this burn-out in just its second season, it's going to be a challenge for Spike and Zuffa to retain interest in TUF 3 and TUF 4.

Fortunately, the ratings for TUF 2's live season finale demonstrate that even if casual MMA fans grow tired of The Ultimate Fighter as a reality series, they will still watch live MMA fights en masse.

There is no doubt that the public wants to see actual fighting a lot more than they want to see a reality show about fighting. That point is proven not only by the TUF 2 finale ratings, but also by the fact that UFC Unleashed has averaged a surprising 1.1 overall rating in its new timeslot of Monday nights at 10:00 PM.

UFC Unleashed has been able to draw these ratings despite the fact that it goes head-to-head with WWE Raw every week, despite the fact that it's just a simple compilation of old UFC fights without anything to spice up the presentation, and despite the fact that Spike TV has done a woefully inadequate job of advertising the show's new timeslot. Despite all of that, UFC Unleashed averaged a 1.1 overall rating in the same four-week period when The Ultimate Fighter and its massive marketing push averaged a 1.2 overall rating.

At the same time, there is also no doubt that the 12-episode seasons of The Ultimate Fighter are a significant factor in helping to build public interest in seeing its fighters compete in the Octagon. The UFC has had a total of four live fight specials on Spike TV. The two live specials that were Ultimate Fighter season finales drew overall ratings of 1.9 and 2.0. The two live specials that were not the culmination of an Ultimate Fighter season drew significantly lower ratings of 1.5 and 1.6.

So, Spike TV and Zuffa find themselves in an odd situation. It's unquestionable that the TV-viewing public wants to see live MMA fights a lot more than they want to see an MMA-themed reality show, but it's also unquestionable that the reality show helps to build up interest in the live MMA fights.

How well Spike TV and Zuffa are able to strike a balance between these two factors will play a key role in the UFC's future level of success in the ratings. The UFC plans to run twelve live fight specials on Spike TV during 2006. If two of those twelve specials are live Ultimate Fighter season finales and the other ten are simply live fight shows that have no connection to TUF, it would seem likely that the TUF season finales will be the two most-watched UFC TV shows of 2006.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 10, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- Forum Post Leads to Interesting Discussion about Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman
When a member of the MMAWeekly Forum recently suggested that Vince McMahon could start his own MMA promotion at some point and put Paul Heyman in charge of it, I responded by saying, "Anything that Paul Heyman does outside of WWE will have no involvement from the McMahon family."

A different forum member then responded with a long and well-thought-out post about the possibilities of McMahon and Heyman working together in such a capacity, which I responded to with a long post of my own. The original post and my response to it each brought up a lot of interesting points, so here are the aforementioned posts for your reading pleasure...

Brian7199 wrote:
Shane McMahon is long-rumored to have wanted to get involved with MMA. Vince is pissed off at Spike and the UFC. Yes, Vince and Paul Heyman do not see eye to eye mostly because Paul speaks his mind and is not the most "political" WWE employee. Vince likes to be surrounded by "Yes Men." However...

In the interest of business, Vince has brought back quite a few people over the years whom he has either had altercations with, or simply just does not like. Eric Bishoff is probably the best example. People like Rena Mero in the past, and as recent as Matt Hardy. He has recently been trying to re-sign Brock Lesner, who walked out on the company with little notice and zero respect for those who sold for him and helped make him who he was. If Vince believes that it's good for business, that is all that matters. He's being stubborn w/the Jim Ross situation, but I believe we still may see Good Ol' JR back on TV since Joey Styles is playing hardball, wanting the same money offered to Mike Goldberg, and Vince has admitted that Coach is not panning out. Bret Hart has a new DVD coming out, and they want him back on their programming, regadless of all of the vile venom Brett has spewed towards them over the last several years. There are plenty more examples, but it is late and my head is a mess.

My point is that if it will make him money... and in the process crush somebody he doesn't like, he will do it. If this means working with Heyman to try and hurt the UFC, don't put it past the old man.

Vince has been erratic as of late, and his product has been suffering. He is long rumored to want to branch out and be remembered as something more than just a wrestling promoter. His recent dabble into films is an example. Failed attempts at football and bodybuilding are also painful reminders. He is also rumored to be getting to the point where he wants to turn his company over to Stephanie, Shane, and Paul Levasque (Triple H). According to the Pro Wrestling Torch, he has been spending a lot of time behind closed doors lately. All kinds of stuff are going around the rumor mill. I'm not saying that it has anything to do with this situation, I'm just stating what is reported in the VIP section of the Torch web site. Vince may be growing tired of "The Business," and ready to try something new. There is a lot of speculation amongst peers that this may be the case.

By the way, I'm not arguing with you, I'm just curious as to why you think they would not work together on this. Paul and Shane could run the day-to-day operations, and Vince could oversee things. It ould not be the smoothest ride, but it could be done. Vince has shown that he wants to do damage, and regardless of how he feels towards Paul, he does respect his mind and passion. If it means dealing a crushing blow to someone with whom he is at war, like I said before, I would never put anything past the old man.

My response:
Brian, that's a very good post, but one point that you might be overlooking is that Vince McMahon does business with people he doesn't like primarily to undermine them or humiliate them, not because he's some kind of magnanimous person who forgives and forgets if that's what is best for his company and his stockholders. It's quite the opposite.

Note: What follows is not a rant against you, so much as it is a rant against Vince McMahon. In your post, you seem to be aware of what kind of person Vince McMahon is, so I'm just adding to what you said and disagreeing on some points.

Just looking at all the names you mentioned, there are mitigating circumstances in almost all of those cases. Bischoff was brought in and continues to be used after three years because McMahon is now his boss and gets to tell him what to do, which is something that McMahon gets off on because Bischoff almost brought WWE to its knees for a time. Bischoff is also frequently booked into humilating situations.

The things that Rena Mero did to get her job back have been alluded to plenty of times in the Torch and Observer. I won't come right out and graphically say what those things are, for the same reasons that the Torch and Observer didn't either. But in general, it's one of the worst kept secrets in the business.

Matt Hardy has been buried from Day One of his return to WWE, was forced to shake Vince McMahon's hand right before his money return promo (effectively shooting his "anti-authority" character dead on the spot), did clean jobs on subsequent weeks to Rob Conway and Gene Snitsky, and will likely never, ever get the push that he deserves simply because he dared to negotiate seriously with TNA, he dared to question WWE's decision to fire him for being cheated on, and he dared to make an Internet sensation out of himself that Vince McMahon didn't control.

Brock Lesnar was given a lowball offer in early 2005 and it was openly said that he would have at least a full year of "humbling/humilation" just to prove a point. When Lesnar challenged WWE's legally invalid no-compete clause, he won. He is wrestling in Japan, and some of his matches from Japan will even air on American PPV. The only thing WWE won was that Lesnar can't call his finishing move the "F-5." So it's now called "The Verdict," which is Lesnar's way of giving a big middle finger to WWE after they tried and failed to bully him legally.

Bret Hart was basically threatened with a "Self-Destruction of Bret Hart" DVD that had actually been partially produced, in order to coerce him into working with WWE on the DVD project instead of refusing to participate in it. Or as Dave Meltzer put it in his newsletter, Bret Hart was essentially blackmailed. The "Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior" DVD stands as an example of what happens when you don't play ball with WWE.

And while I don't think the events of November 1997 were entirely one-sided and all Vince McMahon's fault like many people do, can you really blame Bret Hart for "spewing venom" in Vince McMahon's direction in recent years? He signed him to a 20-year talent contract in 1996, then told him one year later that he didn't want to honor that contract because McMahon felt that it was too much money. Then of course came the events of November 1997, which don't bear repeating here.

But on the list of reasons for Bret Hart to hate Vince McMahon, we should never forget that it was Vince McMahon who sent Bret Hart's brother Owen up to the rafters for the stunt that would ultimately take his life. It was Vince who was reportedly upset when Owen didn't immediately get released from the harness at the previous year's Survivor Series, which is one of the major things that led to Owen using a ridiculously unsafe "quick-release snap shackle" on that night. It was Vince who pressured Owen into doing the stunt in the first place when Owen didn't want to do it because he was so afraid of heights (as detailed in the book "Broken Harts"). It was Vince who ordered the show to go on after Owen died, despite the fact that stopping the show would have cost WWE maybe 1% of its annual revenue at most. It was Vince who has spent a significant amount of time in the past six years revisiting that night by having many "The show must go on!" kind of moments on TV after worked injuries to various wrestlers. So I don't really blame Bret Hart for spewing venom in Vince McMahon's direction.

As for Vince McMahon getting into something else other than pro wrestling, he has always wanted to be more than a pro wrestling promoter but he has always failed miserably at everything else he has ever done. What has been going on behind those closed doors is Vince coming to grips with the fact that he's 60 years old and is going to die someday (and probably not when he's 90, due to the lifestyle choices that he has made and continues to make). This has caused him to go "crazy" as the Torch put it, and to "lose his mind" as the Observer put it.

So with Vince apparently having completely lost his mind, I really can't see him staking out a claim in a whole new business and turning it over to Shane McMahon and Paul Heyman without running it himself. He is more controlling than ever and would want to get into MMA himself if he started an MMA promotion.

Also, he hates Paul Heyman more vehemently than he hates most people on his proverbial enemies list (or literal enemies list, if you read Bruce Mitchell's latest piece) because Heyman is the answer to the question that Vince doesn't want to have answered.

His own creativity is gone from all indications, as the most involved storyline that he has co-written himself in the past few months according to the Observer basically consisted of standing around backstage with Ed Koskey and making fun of Jim Ross' Bell's Palsy (before making fun of Jim Ross' cancer scare in an on-air segment), and as the creative team continues to self-implode with Stephanie's clueless Hollywood writers being shuffled in and out on a constant basis, he has to know deep down that the only thing that could save his company in the long run is a creative genius like Paul Heyman being given control of creative. And that's simply not going to happen as long as Stephanie McMahon is his daughter and Paul Levesque is his (second) son. Therefore, with the way those people operate, Heyman must be neutralized, and I wouldn't classify "giving him the reins of a huge new project" as "neutralizing him."

If Heyman is offered a renewal, it will be purely to keep him away from TNA or another company, and it won't be for anywhere near his current salary, and even that kind of offer is being strongly discouraged by Stephanie, Hunter, and Kevin Dunn, according to the Observer.

The fact that he has apparently lost his mind does mean that his behavior is more unpredictable than ever before, and he could do something totally out of character. But so far his mental meltdown has only led to his worst character traits coming out more than ever, as opposed to any kind of magnanimous side coming out. So I can't say there is a ZERO percent chance that he would give Paul Heyman the reins of an MMA company, but I can say that it's damn near a zero percent chance.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- Ultimate Fighter's Live Season Finale Draws Record Ratings
Despite a shaky second half of its season in the ratings, the live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 2 came through in the ratings with a huge 2.0 overall rating (the highest-rated live UFC broadcast in history) and an even more impressive 3.7 rating in the key demographic of 18-to-34-year-old males.

Much of the damage that was done to TUF's reputation as a ratings draw over the past several weeks will likely be erased by the huge ratings for the finale.

You can expect to see a big article comparing the Season One ratings to the Season Two ratings on this site in the coming days.

Other Thoughts on the Ultimate Finale Broadcast
-Regarding the 30 to 27 scoring of the Diego Sanchez vs. Nick Diaz fight, it's true that the fight was a lot closer than the score "30 to 27" appears to be, but you have to take it one round at a time in the scoring. Sanchez won the first round and the second round. The third round was extremely close and could have gone either way, although I would probably have to say that Sanchez won the third round if I had to pick. Sanchez wins regardless of the third round scoring; all the third round scoring does is determine whether it was a 29-28 victory or a 30-27 victory. In any case, it was a fantastic fight in which both fighters showed a lot of heart. The same can be said for Joe Stevenson vs. Luke Cummo, and also for Rashad Evans vs. Brad Imes.

-Regarding Nick Diaz' post-fight comments, I didn't have that much of a problem with what he said. He was understandably frustrated with his loss and knew he had been beaten. It would be particularly frustrating to have been so confident that you were going to take someone to school, only to lose a unanimous decision to that person. Diaz is still one of the top welterweights in the world. There's nothing wrong with what Diaz said in his post-fight interview, other than dropping the S-bomb, but fortunately the Spike TV censors were paying attention and they temporarily cut out the audio just before that part of the interview aired.

-As for whether Diego Sanchez vs. Nick Diaz was a Fight of the Year Candidate and whether the fact that it went to the judges' decision hurts its chances in that regard, I don't think going to a decision should make a difference in this kind of thinking. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar went to the judges' decision, and that was an all-time classic. Three different fights on the Ultimate Finale card went to decision and were all excellent fights. I don't think going to decision lessens how good a fight was in hindsight, although of course a particularly spectacular knockout or submission can't hurt a fight's perception either.

As far as the Sanchez vs. Diaz fight in particular, I do believe that this fight rose to the level of Fight of the Year candidate. Tons of heart and skill displayed by both men, and more world-class grappling exchanges packed into 15 minutes than I expected (and I expected a damn good fight). I wouldn't pick it to actually win Fight of the Year, but when you're thinking of the top five or ten fights of the year to call "Fight of the Year candidates," I think this is one of them.

-Regarding the three undercard fights that did not air as part of the Ultimate Finale broadcast, those three prelim fights will be on UFC Unleashed in the coming weeks. There would have been time to air some of them on tonight's broadcast under different circumstances, but three of the four main card bouts went to decision, and there was still a huge amount of stuff in between fights.

-Regarding the fact that there were four fights in a three-hour broadcast, that is just a question of pacing. There were approximately 48 minutes of commercials. That's not counting the "special sneak peak" at 50 Cent's movie, which was a separate deal sold on top of that in much the same way that the now-infamous Burger King "CoqRoq" ads were. That's a normal amount of advertising for a three-hour television broadcast. The question is how Zuffa chooses to space out the 132 minutes of broadcast time that they do have for a three-hour special.

Labels: , ,