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Shades Of Gray #8

This week’s column includes a preview of tonight’s Sacrifice PPV. The ratings for TNA “iMPACT!” have gradually declined over the last month and this PPV offering is unlikely to generate more interest in the product. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons of the WWE incorporating an off-season during the calendar year. Would Vince McMahon ever implement drastic changes to the travel schedule at the expense of his wallet size?

The developing Mike Adamle storyline took an unusual turn this past week, and I’ll give my thoughts on the former American Gladiator host. And the “Links of the Week” will fill you in on what you need to know, and “Extras” will provide some comedy from Ultimate Warrior, Sid, and Vince McMahon (who pulls a Michael Hayes).

TNA Sacrifice Preview

The go-home show for Sacrifice “scored” a 0.9 rating on Spike. The show has averaged a 1.1 since the move to 2 hours in primetime. Obviously, this is not a good sign for TNA, and shows how little interest there is in the Deuces Wild Tag Team Tournament, and perhaps in Samoa Joe as TNA Heavyweight Champion.

As was discussed last week, there’s always more interest when a babyface is chasing the heel champion. It’s hard for a wrestler to become more likeable when he’s always winning (see: Cena) and when he’s no longer the underdog. With that said, I think it’s understandable that there’s little interest in tonight’s Triple Threat main event in which Joe defends against Kurt Angle and Big Poppa Pump.

It’s obvious that Joe’s going to win - he waited over a year to get the title, so he’s not going to lose it after only one month as champion. Plus, Steiner is not going to be heavyweight champ at this (or any other) stage of his career, and Angle’s had his time as champ. In fact, the main event scene needs an infusion of fresh faces. Robert Roode, James Storm, and A.J. Styles could all be viable challengers to the Heavyweight Championship, and all of them are recognized as distinctive TNA wrestlers (unlike Angle, Steiner, Sting, Christian, Nash, etc.)

The Triple Threat match itself has a chance to be good, although there’s a couple of factors working against them. Apparently, Angle injured his neck in Korea a few weeks ago and he’s missed a couple of house shows as a result. Suffice to say, Angle should be extremely careful with his neck considering his injury history. Triple Threat matches are generally hard to pull off too, although the WWE has seemingly perfected the match ever since Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit tore down the house at WrestleMania XX. Having three guys in the ring could actually be beneficial tonight, however, as it will allow Angle to rest and not take as much punishment.

As for the rest of the card: the Deuces Wild Tag Tourney is ridiculous, but the end result could make all of the bullshit worthwhile. The tag titles have become almost as worthless in TNA recently as they are in the WWE, considering Tomko and A.J. rarely defended the titles and the crazy circumstances which led to the titles being vacated. But a victory by LAX or Team 3D could signify a more competitive division in the future. But I’m not holding my breath. I can just as easily picture James Storm and Sting walking away with TNA Tag Team Championships.

On the topic of ridiculous gimmick matches, 10 Knockouts will compete in the TNA Knockout Makeover Battle Royal: “One wins a title shot, while another gets her head shaved!” According to dirtsheets, this magnificent idea was concocted as punishment for the TNA women who have been complaining backstage. So I guess the biggest bitch is getting a Britney Spears makeover. Rhaka Khan has the most heat backstage after the trading card incident, so I expect her to take one for the team. Plus, it could somewhat fit her gimmick - Petey and Steiner already rock the short-haired look, so it would make sense, right? (Author’s note: nothing makes sense in TNA)

On the topic of ridiculous gimmick matches, 10 X-Division wrestlers will compete in the “TerrorDome” to determine the No. 1 contender. Lockdown’s “Cuffed in the Cage” match was a disaster, and this one probably will be too. Having 10 guys in the ring at the same time is too much - there’s just not enough room for all of them to work. To TNA’s credit, though, the X-Division has been re-emphasized somewhat since the Team 3D storyline; still, I’d rather see a one-on-one contest or even a 3-way dance instead of month after month of multi-person matches for the X-Division title.

Here are my predictions:
Samoa Joe retains TNA Heavyweight title
LAX wins TNA Tag Team titles
ODB wins shot at TNA Knockout title; Rhaka Khan gets her head shaved
Kaz wins shot at TNA X-Division title

Off-season for WWE

Wrestlers take more punishment than any other professional athletes. They get beat up, which leads them to drugs, which leads to death. I don’t want to oversimplify things, but that’s a proven formula in professional wrestling. And that’s not even taking into consideration the crazy travel schedules, which turns one’s family into strangers.

According to recent internet reports, Randy Orton has requested time off house shows because of the punishment his body has taken over the past 5 years. He’s only 28 years old! To the same point, Rob Van Dam has said that Chris Benoit envied him for being able to walk away from the business and take time off as he chose. Only wrestlers absolutely secure in their spot in the company will take time off, and even then it’s usually not enough time to fully heal.

It’s clear that some measure needs to be taken to force wrestlers to take time off, because as long as they get paid more for the more they work, they’re going to continue to kill themselves. I think the best solution would be instituting an off-season.

The idea of instituting an off-season has been tossed around almost as much as Nick Hogan will be tossed around in jail. Admittedly, instituting an off-season creates a few problems, such as deciding when it would be and for how long it would last. I suggest it happen for 2 months after WrestleMania - there’s always a lull after the big show, and this year has proven to be no different as all three shows have lost viewers since the end of March.

Another issue is fans forgetting characters and storylines, although I think fans should be given more credit than that. Plus, the WWE’s website could be used to continue or even create new storylines. McMahon, I’m sure, would also be worried about the viewers who would tune into TNA’s programming in the absence of “Raw,” “SmackDown!” and “ECW.” The biggest issue, though, is the revenue lost from television, pay per view and house shows. The fed just had their biggest quarter ever, and I highly doubt Vinnie Mac cares enough about the health of his talent if it means less money in his pocket.

Still, an off-season, in my opinion, has more benefits than detriments, including a healthier (physically and mentally) roster. Most of all it would create interest in the WWE’s eventual return to TV. Personally, I miss the NFL so much during the off-season that I’m willing to watch meaningless preseason games in August. I even watch the CFL! The first “Raw” back from the off-season would be must-see television.

The off-season would also be the perfect time to hold the draft, which would be shown on TV to appease the fans dying for wrestling programming. It could be used to shake up the rosters, or, like other major sports leagues (NFL, NHL, NBA), the draft could be used as a platform to call up workers from developmental. The off-season could also act as a 2-month window in which trades are permitted between the General Managers of each brand.

Overall, there would still be plenty of happenings to appease the hardcore fan, and at the same time, even more interest in the product would develop. Best of all, of course, the boys would be given some much-needed vacation time.

Mike Adamle as ECW announcer

Adamle’s announcing skills (or lack thereof) have been a weekly point of discussion in “Shades of Gray.” And if you’re an avid reader, you know that I was a fan of the “train wreck” element Adamle added to “ECW” (it’s not like the show has much else going for it anyways). In fact, when Adamle made his debut, I went out of my way to watch "ECW" for the first time in months, and I was glad I did.

I also liked it when he walked off the show nearly 2 weeks ago, which left the main event without commentary. And on “Raw,” I initially O’d for Adamle replacing J.R. for the Paul Burchill and Katie Lea handicap match, and it was clear from the crowd’s response that Adamle has plenty of heat. However, while announcing the match, he made no mention of “ECW” or why he walked out the week before. This point I can accept, though, since it was the major selling point for the following night’s show.

But what was also disappointing was that he wasn’t playing up his heelness, which was clearly the point of the segment (along with getting Regal more heat) as it was orchestrated by Regal, and Lawler (in an annoying way, I should add) kept making fun of Adamle’s comments. Another disappointment: whereas Adamle’s shittiness came naturally before, lines like “The Cutler did it” and “She is definitely not a pretty face” seemed forced.

To add even more confusion to the whole thing, Adamle came out at the beginning of “ECW” and delivered a straight-faced promo about wanting to improve as an announcer, blah, blah, blah. So it seems as if the fed is trying to make it seem as if Adamle is trying to improve, but are actually feeding him corny lines in order to continue his inept character. I must say, I liked it better before when such unintentional gems as “Jamaican me crazy” and “Jeff Harvey” left me in stitches. At this point, I’d rather see Adamle make a conscious effort to improve (which he has in picking up character names and understanding storylines), than have him pretend to be an even worse commentator than he already is.

Links of the Week

1. Mike Adamle on Raw
2. The entire “ECW” roster against Kennedy and Triple H - so, the whole "roster vs 2 guys" gimmick wasn't bad enough when it was the “Raw” roster vs. Orton and Cena, that they had to do it again?
3. Mike Adamle addresses the “ECW’ fans
4. Colin Delaney vs. Armando Estrada for an “ECW” contract - clearly, someone listens to Rated O Radio because Rico suggested a few weeks ago that Estrada become an in-ring competitor (and like Rico, he’s jacked)
5. James Storm and Sting on iMPACT! - Storm makes it clear that the two of them are not friends
Personally, I would have liked it more if their argument had turned out like this:
6. On a related note, this past week, Storm visited a fan who lost his home to a tornado in Tennessee. Yep, Storm’s got “it.”
7. Phil Atlas on “SmackDown!” - the most you can do in this situation is sell your ass off, and Atlas does a good job
8. The second half of Championship Chase Battle Royal, which includes some Undertaker “magic” at the end


9. Top 10 Worst Gimmicks ever (yes, Yeti makes another appearance)
10. In celebration of Warrior’s return to the ring, here’s his debut promo in WCW where he added some new words to the dictionary
Part 1:
Part 2:
11. This is why I want Sid to make a return:
12. How can Michael Hayes get suspended when Mr McMahon was saying the same thing on the air?

3 comments: on "Shades Of Gray #8"

Anonymous said...

do we not review smackdown here anymore?

Anonymous said...

fuck smackdown.
whats the trading card incident?

Andrew Gray said...

Like the rest of the roster, Khan was asked to autograph 1000 cards as part of a new trading card deal TNA signed. But when she sent in her cards, some of the signatures didn't match - "Rhaka" and "Khan" were spelled differently on a bunch of the cards. Anyways, her excuse was that she got tired of signing the cards and changed her signature half-way through, although others suspect she had someone else sign the cards for her. Either way, Jeff Jarrett made the decision to cut her from the trading card set.