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, January 31, 2006
Pro Wrestling--- WWE and Rey Mysterio Team Up to Whore Out Eddie Guerrero's Memory for Profit
Is there anything that Rey Mysterio won't do to whore out Eddie Guerrero's memory whenever WWE management asks him to do so?

It was bad enough to blow up the trademark low-rider that was at ringside "in loving memory of Eddie Guerrero" two weeks after he died in order to put heel heat on Randy Orton, but now it has become a recurring theme and is apparently going to be the foundation on which Mysterio's push is going to be built for the forseeable future. Every bit of success that Mysterio has in pro wrestling matches is now being credited in storylines to Eddie Guerrero helping him from beyond the grave.

To anyone who says that Eddie Guerrero would have no problem with any of this, the only indication of whether Eddie would have wanted his memory to be exploited comes from his own actions during life. Those actions were refusing the idea whenever he was asked to exploit his late father's memory for an angle, and also refusing the idea whenever he was asked to exploit his late tag team partner Art Barr's memory for an angle.

Seriously, what would WWE management have to ask Mysterio to do before he would stand up and say "no" as many others before him have done when presented with ideas by WWE management?

The Torch's Bruce Mitchell wrote this regarding the ongoing exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's death for profit:
"This was yet another example of how low the McMahon family has sunk in the last year. Rey Mysterio has no character anymore. He just won the sweepstakes with Nephew Chavo to be the living symbol of this exploitation of a death that very well may never have happened if Eddie Guerrero hadn't felt pressure to live up to the standard that Vince McMahon set for this business."

The Torch's Wade Keller followed that up with this:
"By having played that card so often, it seemed exploitative (and it was). I can't imagine Rey is making Eddie proud these days, even if Rey thinks Eddie 'would understand the pressure to do what Vince says.' There are times to take a stand in life. What is Vince going to do, bury one of his most marketable, popular babyfaces and top Hispanic draw because he pulls Vince aside and tells him, in honor of the memory of one of his best friends ever, he'd prefer not to mention him on the air in any storylines again?"

Mysterio's Desecration is Surprising, WWE Management's Is Not
While Mysterio's desecration of his best friend's memory is surprising, one can't really say that it's surprising for WWE management to do this. The Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer reported about the Eddie Guerrero tribute shows, which were taped on the same day as his death, that he had numerous sources telling them that the shows were designed with two purposes in mind: To draw ratings and to get the McMahon family over, and also other things that Meltzer said were too bad to even print.

Also, Bruce Mitchell wrote in his annual Year-in-Review feature for the Torch that Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H actually had their tribute show lines written for them by the creative team and just acted out the scenes like they would for any other pro wrestling promo, so that everyone could see them cry about Eddie's death on television (which supports what Meltzer previously wrote).

WWE Follows Up the Royal Rumble with a Tasteful Mention of Eddie Guerrero on Raw
The day after the Royal Rumble, Triple H said on Raw that he was pissed off about being eliminated from the Rumble match by Rey Mysterio (who is on the Smackdown brand, not Raw), and since he couldn't take out his frustrations on Mysterio or on Eddie Guerrero, he would take out his frustrations on the "next best thing," Eddie's nephew Chavo Guerrero. Triple H followed that up by saying that Chavo better hope that whoever was helping Mysterio win the Royal Rumble will bail him out as well. He then followed that up by mocking Eddie Guerrero's signature moves, celebrations, and mannerisms during his match against Chavo.

As James Guttman wrote on the WorldWrestlingInsanity web site, "Did that just happen? Just when you think it can't get much worse, huh? Nothing's sacred around here. It's a pity that Triple H can't take out his anger on Eddie Guerrero, isn't it? Unfortunately, Eddie died at a young age while under contract to Triple H's family."

With the exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's death now taking place on every single show that WWE runs, the Torch's Wade Keller took a closer look at the situation and wrote this:

"Let's break down the Eddie Guerrero exploitation, giving a WWE-apologist defense: Triple H is a heel, he does mean things... Fans should be upset at Triple H for demeaning Eddie, his family, and his friends... Rey is showing great honor by recognizing the loss of Eddie Guerrero, and using his memory as an inspiration, with the context of the wrestling storyline... Rey really has something to fight for and inspire him by referencing Eddie so much...

That's all crap, though. Eddie Guerrero died. Not the wrestler, not the superstar, not the roster member, not the character - but the actual, living, breathing human being died. He died of causes related to years of abusing his body in various ways that were neither discouraged nor prohibited by WWE during his stint with the company. WWE's moral right to earn money off of his name ended the day he died.

Realistically, Eddie's autobiography should be published, distributed, and marketed tastefully. That's understandable. Incorporating Eddie's memory into a storyline to sell more tickets is not okay. It just isn't. Anyone outside of the bubble would see that. Had Eddie died in a bank robbery incident while cashing his paycheck, his death shouldn't be exploited to boost ratings or buyrates. The fact that he died due to the WWE-encouraged-and-rewarded lifestyle makes it much worse."

WWE Hits a New Low with a Segment Scheduled to Air This Friday Night
All of that was written before this week's Smackdown tapings, at which point WWE management hit a new low and Rey Mysterio went along for the ride. WWE management booked a segment on this week's Smackdown--- and Mysterio agreed to go along with it--- in which Mysterio talked about how Eddie Guerrero helped him win the Royal Rumble from beyond the grave, and then Randy Orton came out and said that Eddie Guerrero went to hell when he died.

More heel heat for Orton, and more babyface heat for Mysterio. Seriously, there are prostitutes who sell their body on the street who are lesser "whores" than Rey Mysterio, who is willingly pissing on his best friend's grave and whoring out his legacy every single week even though he could say "no" at any time and not lose his job.


Saturday, January 28, 2006
Pro Wrestling--- I am a huge fan of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter and have been a subscriber since Issue #300-something (they are now up to Issue #900-something), but I take great exception to one specific topic and the way in which the Torch has handled it.

In a Torch forum thread regarding the fact that Triple H took last summer off so that he could try to conceive a child with his wife, Stephanie McMahon, Torch editor Wade Keller wrote that readers should "go back and look at [the WWE Newswire in the Torch Newsletter last summer] and you'll see me dance around this without saying it." Wade previously said something similar on the forum, which is that if you go back and read between the lines, you could tell what he was saying over the summer.

Far beyond the Stephanie-Triple H issue, this is turning into a problem at the Torch these days: There is too much "dancing around," at least when it comes to this situation and one other situation. I do not think that it's okay for the Torch to "dance around" the issue of Kurt Angle's life-threatening health situation and then maybe several weeks or months from now if he dies, point back to the previous coverage and say, "See, we did report on the Kurt Angle situation, we just 'danced around it.'" That would be the opposite of good journalism.

(If you're wondering what in the hell I'm talking about when I say "the Kurt Angle situation," here is a brief recap to catch you up: Kurt Angle needs help and should not step foot into a wrestling ring again until he gets it. The Torch has reported through a series of blind news items that Kurt Angle's life is in danger due to an extreme addiction to high levels of prescription pain pills. Rather than taking time off to let injuries heal, or undergoing major surgery that could be career-ending, Angle wants to prove to WWE management that he can continue to work the full-time WWE schedule and be a reliable main event wrestler. He continues to work despite the fact that he still has a broken neck, and he also has an additional major injury to his lower back that he just suffered in the past few months. Angle has already lost his wife and children due to his extreme dedication to continuing to work the WWE schedule at all costs, and if someone doesn't do something, this story is not going to have a happy ending.)

When Wade Keller talked about the point at which he decided to go ahead and report on Triple H and Stephanie trying to conceive, he wrote, "By that point, it was well enough known to not create any kind of an uproar from anyone that I mentioned it."

Okay, so if the standard of whether it's acceptable to report something, or at least a significant part of that standard, is whether it's well enough known, would the Kurt Angle situation not meet and exceed that standard? From the initial Torch reporting, it sounds like it would have met that standard from the very beginning when the Torch published its first blind item about Kurt Angle's dire health situation... and if not, it would certainly meet that standard now with the subsequent weeks of the Torch continuing to "dance around" the issue by indirectly (but never directly) saying that Angle needs help and should be taken off the road or he's going to drop dead.

The two defenses to the way that the Kurt Angle situation has been journalistically handled by the Torch have been: A) They can't do anything for legal reasons, and B) They can't do anything because of protecting a source.

The legal reason is not a valid reason, and if anyone wants to get into the specifics of why it's not a valid reason, I'd be happy to do that. In short, the legal standard for libel is to not only prove that someone spread false statements about you, but also that the person knew the statements were false and spread them with malice.

(It's also laughable to try to say that the Torch can't report on someone's drug issues by name... with one example being that the Torch reported on Steve Austin's drug problems in his latter years of wrestling, and he wasn't even on a "death watch" or thought to be in a life-threatening situation.)

The "protecting a source" reason is also not valid, if for no other reason because enough people in WWE know about it that it's not compromising any individual person (or even a group of individuals) to publish any information that the Torch has. The Torch's indirect, blind-item reporting on the Angle situation has made it clear that they have more than one source, so that's also not an issue.

The Kurt Angle situation is a lot more serious than Triple H and Stephanie McMahon trying to conceive because it's about someone on a "death watch," which according to the definition of "death watch" in the Torch's Sean Waltman interview, means that he could drop dead at any moment and no one in the wrestling business would be surprised or wonder why it happened.

The way it has been handled by the Torch is such that when and if Kurt Angle dies prematurely, the Torch can say, "All these wrestlers knew about it and they did nothing to stop it, so we don't want to hear a damn word from them about being upset or wishing he was still alive."

The problem with that line of thinking is that the Torch falls into the same category, regardless of whether it would be convenient for people to pretend that it doesn't.

As I said when Wade (rightfully) patted Triple H on the back for having exposed Billy Gunn's drug problems when Billy Gunn was in WWE, "I think it's great when people who are in a position of having some degree of influence, who are aware of someone having a serious, life-threatening drug problem, choose to do something about it instead of sitting back and doing nothing and then talking about it after the person dies as if they're not among the people who could have done more than they did. That's just my opinion."

Unfortunately, there is little that I can do that would potentially affect change in the situation, as I could scream it from a mega-phone on the roof of WWE Headquarters and no one would listen. The Torch, on the other hand, does have a certain amount of influence, visibility, and clout, as evidenced by the fact that Kurt Angle felt the need to respond to the Torch blind items by issuing a ridiculous statement that he is in "perfect health" (which Angle himself has contradicted many times in mainstream interviews).

I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning and read a headline that Kurt Angle was found dead somewhere, not just for myself as a fan and admirer of Angle's, but much more importantly for all of his friends and family.

Since the publication of the Torch's first blind item about Kurt Angle, I have been troubled by the Torch's journalistic handling of the situation, and by the possibility that Kurt Angle, one of my favorite wrestlers and one of the people who I have admired more than anyone else over the years, could drop dead at any moment.

It has been troubling since the publication of the first blind item, and now it has only gotten more troubling with the Torch openly talking about "dancing around" issues and having inconsistent standards for when it's okay to come out and report something.

I have a great deal of respect for Wade Keller, and I'm a huge fan of the Torch Newsletter, but on this topic they've got it all wrong.


Saturday, January 14, 2006
Pro Wrestling--- World Wrestling Entertainment and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are going head-to-head for the second time ever this Monday night, but it's not a battle of the same magnitude as their first-ever head-to-head showdown. Spike TV scheduled the UFC's live two-hour show to run from 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM, instead of the previous timeslot of 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM from October 3, 2005. With the later timeslot, only half of the UFC show will be going head-to-head with WWE Raw.

So, if WWE just happens to run all of its hotshot angles and major matches in the 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM hour this week and appears to neglect the 9:00 PM hour in comparison, it will not be a coincidence.

Already, WWE has announced Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels in what is supposedly the final match of their classic series. (Speaking of Angle, WWE decided to move Angle to Smackdown and give him the world title/top position on that brand, despite the fact that absolutely no one in the wrestling business would be surprised if Angle died tomorrow due to his health issues, and he should not be allowed to step foot in a wrestling ring until he gets the help that he needs.)

WWE has also announced new champion Edge vs. Ric Flair in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Even though pro wrestling is worked, TLC matches are very risky due to the dangerous bumps involved in such a match. That's true for normal, healthy pro wrestlers... add in the fact that Edge has a torn pectoral muscle, and it doesn't make sense to book that match. On top of that, add in the fact that Ric Flair is a 56-year-old man with a broken neck and herniated disks in his back, and it's downright irresponsible for WWE management to book that match.

Hopefully it's just another bait-and-switch tactic and WWE doesn't actually put these two wrestlers in harm's way. As Bruce Mitchell put it on the Pro Wrestling Torch's VIP Forum, "If you needed further evidence that Stephanie and Vince McMahon don't give a damn abut what happens to their WWE 'family,' now comes word they've booked one wrestler with a serious back injury against a fifty-six-year-old with a broken back and a broken neck in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match with two days notice."

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Vince McMahon would over-react to the fact that he's facing head-to-head competition this Monday. One of the most overlooked stories of 2005 is how truly insane it made Vince McMahon when Spike TV booked the UFC to go head-to-head with Raw on WWE's first night back on USA Network. WWE blew through at least six months' worth of big-name returns, angles, matches, and special guest appearances in one night.

Then there's the fact that WWE offered a UFC announcer who admittedly knows nothing about pro wrestling a $500,000-per-year contract to jump to WWE (plus a huge bonus if he double-crossed the UFC by showing up on Raw without giving the UFC any notice), and when they got turned down they still pulled the trigger on the planned firing of Jim Ross even though they had no replacement for Ross. The company's subsequent horrible treatment of Jim Ross, including making fun of his real-life cancer scare and Bell's Palsy, led to a major falling out with WWE's biggest star of all time, Steve Austin, who is now considered unlikely to make a WrestleMania appearance as a result. Vince McMahon's over-reaction to one night of head-to-head competition cost his company millions of dollars in potential revenue.

The January 16th UFC show is not viewed as an equally big deal by WWE because it's no longer "the first time" something like this is happening, and it's only a head-to-head battle for one hour of Raw, but there is definitely still some over-reaction going on within WWE.

On the larger issue of how WWE deals with competition, it's ironic that WWE once sued Time Warner and WCW for "predatory business tactics." WWE only knows of one way to react to anything that it perceives as competition, as evidenced by the Wrestling Observer news item about the order coming down from the top (ie, Vince McMahon) for WWE to sign absolutely anyone who TNA is interested in signing, then bury those wrestlers and saddle them with long no-compete clauses when they eventually get released, so that they will be seen as damaged goods by the time they become available to TNA or any other pro wrestling competition.

The Observer specifically mentioned Frankie Kazarian and James Gibson (aka Jamie Noble) as fitting into this category, and one can safely assume that Brian Kendrick and the recently re-signed Charlie Haas also fit that bill. The fact that WWE is suddenly showing interest in Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong is also likely just their attempt to squash any competition, although Strong is under contract to TNA.

When Mick Foley and Matt Hardy were free agents who were each on the verge of signing with TNA in mid-2005, WWE paid Foley and Hardy a lot more than they would have otherwise paid them, largely just to keep them away from TNA.

Hopefully, the fact that Foley and Hardy have subsequently been buried on WWE television, as well as the Observer's disclosure of WWE's new signing policies, will lead to more wrestlers joining the likes of AJ Styles and Christian in flat-out turning down WWE contract offers in order to sign with TNA.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Television--- Bill O'Reilly and David Letterman Engage in Sissy Slap-Fight for the Ages
As you may or may not have heard by now, Bill O'Reilly's appearance on David Letterman's latenight comedy show on Tuesday night ended up having very little to do with comedy. I saw the show as it aired, and if you want to know what I thought of the interview, keep reading. (If you don't want to know what I thought of the interview, you should probably not keep reading.)

First, let me say that I have been a big David Letterman fan for many, many years... as in years before Bill O'Reilly's TV show even existed. Also, I watch David Letterman's show far more often than I watch Bill O'Reilly's show. I would say it's an average of two-to-three times per week that I watch Letterman's show, and once every week or so for O'Reilly nowadays.

With all of that said...

I think it's great that David Letterman feels he can debate someone about specific topics while simultaneously admitting that he knows absolutely nothing about the topic(s).

I think it's great that when presented with facts that contradicted what Letterman thought about certain things going into the interview, Letterman had no response whatsoever other than to change the subject in one case, or in the other case to simply say that he thinks 60% of what O'Reilly says is crap.  

I think it's great that after initially dismissing anything related to Christmas talk because of "what he has read" about O'Reilly (and you can imagine what that might be), Letterman responded to a series of facts and examples about the topic simply by pretending that it all must be fiction or just one or two isolated incidents.

I think it's great that Letterman can use the phrase "people like you" repeatedly and not get called on it like anyone else (including O'Reilly) would be and should be if they repeatedly used that phrase.

I think it's great that Letterman can say that O'Reilly is "not objective" while at the same time admitting that he has never seen O'Reilly's show.

As off-the-wall as Letterman was, O'Reilly was insincere when he tried to claim that he didn't consider himself a big fan of the Bush administration.  He was biased, but he was still presenting facts within that interview, which is more than I can say for Letterman.  Better to be a biased fool than a completely ignorant fool.

Letterman clearly hates O'Reilly with a passion... so he had him on his show why, exactly?  The answer could theoretically be to have a debate, if it weren't for the fact that Letterman did the exact opposite of having a debate in the interview. Letterman ran from any semblance of a debate, in favor of a personal pissing contest that was neither a comedy segment nor a valid debate segment. (On a side note, if Letterman and O'Reilly ever end up settling their differences in a mixed martial arts bout, it should be put on the same card as Joe Rogan vs. Wesley Snipes...)

Honestly, Letterman's political views going into the interview were not a secret.  Letterman's liberal leanings and Leno's conservative leanings are no secret, but at least Leno tries to maintain a semblance of keeping the jokes fairly even between anti-Republican jokes and anti-Democrat jokes on his comedy show (or at least not 90 percent to 10 percent).

Letterman is "just a comedian" in the end, which is something that people who are "just comedians" are far too eager to fall back on as a safety net when their complete lack of any knowledge whatsoever on one topic or another is exposed.

Letterman is a damn good comedian who really needs to stick to areas in which he has a shred of knowledge.  If he had done any research beforehand, Letterman would have found that there are a good half-dozen issues that he could have delved into that actually would have made O'Reilly look very bad if he tried to take the opposite position.  But that's not what happened.  

Letterman was just shooting off into the dark and had nothing to back up anything he was saying. If Letterman was going to call O'Reilly on any of the topics that he could have called him on, that would have required Letterman to go into the interview with something in his mind other than, "I hate this person because of what I've heard about him, so I'm going to pick a fight."