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The Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #895

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Guest EastCoastJ



By Wade Keller, Torch editor


It is possible that at the start of the month, Vince McMahon had expected Batista and John Cena to end the month as his world champions. By day ten, neither was champion. Each situation came about due to circumstances out of Vince McMahon's control.


Batista badly injured a tricep muscle in a singles match against Mark Henry at a Smackdown house show on Sunday, a similar but more severe that he suffered to a tricep in 2004. After having the arm evaluated at Dr. James Andrews' clinic in Birmingham, Ala. on Monday, he relinquished the title at the Smackdown TV tapings on Tuesday night. A battle royal was then held to quickly crown a new champion, and one of Raw's lead heels, Kurt Angle, entered and won.


Angle was a "surprise entrant" in the battle royal, moved over from Raw. An explanation for Angle's ability to enter a battle royal on a brand he is not part of may be addressed in commentary by announcers on Friday's broadcast.


Two nights earlier, Edge cashed in his "Money in the Bank" contract, locked safely in his briefcase for the last nine months, and got an instant, "unplanned" title match against John Cena at the conclusion of Sunday's New Year's Revolution pay-per-view. Cena was easy prey, having just won a grueling Elimination Chamber match.


Edge was probably not in line for a pre-WrestleMania title run, but because of the intense booing of John Cena at the previous week's Raw in New Jersey, Vince McMahon felt pressure to make a move. Cena managed to turn a lot of boos into cheers the next night on Raw based on how he handled his title loss. Cena will get a rematch against Edge at the Royal Rumble.


These two title changes throw out all previous predictions for WrestleMania 22. It was assumed John Cena would enter WrestleMania as a strong, long-running champion against Triple H, while Batista would defend at WrestleMania presumably against Randy Orton. With Angle as World Champ on Smackdown, and Batista's recovery time knocking him out of WrestleMania entirely this year, a new babyface challenger will have to be found on the Smackdown brand.


Undertaker is the most obvious candidate based on tenure with the company and a lack of any other obvious top level wrestler for him to face on the big annual show. Hulk Hogan could also be added to the Smackdown roster a month or so before WrestleMania and get what is billed as his "final world title shot." Shawn Michaels could also be moved from Raw to Smackdown to strengthen the diminished roster and be a natural opponent for Angle, but that seems unlikely since he expected to wrestle Vince McMahon in a special attraction match. Dark horse challengers could be Rob Van Dam, who is scheduled to return to action at the Royal Rumble, or Rey Mysterio. Or Angle could lose the belt before WrestleMania, shuffling all expectations again. Or, WWE could give in to Angle being cheered and use the fresh Smackdown setting to turn him babyface, allowing Randy Orton to remain in the no. 1 heel slot and co-main-event WrestleMania against Angle.


Meanwhile, it seems most likely that Cena will regain the WWE Title from Edge at Royal Rumble, then defend against Royal Rumble winner Triple H as planned. Edge could then move on to a new feud or renew his feud with Ric Flair. If Edge retains the WWE Title and defends it at WrestleMania, it could be in a rematch against Cena, although that would leverage Triple H out of the main event picture, which seems extremely unlikely. Triple H could turn babyface in time to challenge Edge for the WWE Title, too. It's unlikely WWE would feature a heel Triple H challenging a heel Edge for the title.


The WWE world titles had not changed hands since April last year. John Cena and Batista each won the belts at WrestleMania 21, and while they switched brands since then, they had not lost the belts. There was a good chance both would have held the belts a full year headed into WrestleMania, but the odds caught up with both.


Batista and Cena each ran into problems that could have been prevented, but were not 100 percent predictable. Batista suffered a lat tear nearly two months ago, but rather than take time off to rehab it or get surgery, he opted to work through it. The death of Eddie Guerrero weakened the roster enough that Batista decided to "tough it out for the team." Vince McMahon allowed it, even though it's well known that working through an injury can often lead to overcompensating and thus incurring another injury. It's not clear whether that was the case in this instance. Batista does have a body type that is susceptible to muscle tears. The career of Del Wilkes (The Patriot) ended prematurely due to repeated muscle tears.


Meanwhile, Cena faced a growing backlash from fans. Although WWE tried to fight if off, the backlash grew in recent weeks to the point that it was embarrassing to present him as a top babyface when he was getting booed. Rather than continue to ignore it, a frustrated McMahon didn't want to be shown up and appear as if he wasn't in tune with (or in control of) his audience. Cena, by all accounts, has taken the situation in stride. He isn't the type to get worked up over something out of his control, and he realizes he still has the support of Vince McMahon in the long run as a top tier, featured main event performer. All that is needed are some tweaks. Removing the title, perhaps temporarily, is step number one.

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Guest EastCoastJ


By Wade Keller, Torch editor


1. Edge beats Cena to win first world title


Time was running out for Edge to cash in his "Money in the Bank" title shot, earned at last year's WrestleMania. From a storyline standpoint, no better opportunity could have arisen for him to cash in at an opportune moment. After Cena won a brutal Elimination Chamber match, Edge got an immediate title shot and easily beat Cena after two spears. It marks the start of Edge's first world title reign, fulfilling a childhood dream of his.


2. Batista suffers arm injury, gives up belt


At the Jan. 8 Smackdown house show in Verona, N.Y., Batista injured his triceps in the main event match against Mark Henry. Henry crashed down on Batista's arm as he was against the ropes. Batista was escorted to the back before he returned to complete a DQ finish to retain the World Title. Tuesday night at the Smackdown tapings, Batista said he will need surgery on his arm, and thus has to relinquish the World Hvt. Title. He said whoever wins it in his absence is only champion because he was injured, vowing to regain it as soon as he became healthy.


3. WWE promises "Live Sex" on Raw


As a ratings stunt and an opportunity to promote the heel characters of Edge and Lita, WWE pushed that Raw would feature sex, live in the middle of the ring the day after the New Year's Revolution PPV event. Edge and Lita said they abstained from victory sex on Sunday night, instead wanting to gloat about their victory by celebrating in front of the fans. The sex act went further than most steamy cable movie scenes, with both stripping to their underwear, then taking off each other's underwear under the covers. Lita's left breast was briefly exposed when the covers shifted. After simulated oral sex under the covers, Ric Flair interrupted before any humping began.


4. Edge & Lita Live Sex Stunt Pops Rating


The overrun segment for Monday's Raw drew a 5.2 rating, the highest rating for an individual segment in over a year. The only other 5.0-level rating in the last year was for Batista signing his WrestleMania contract. The overall rating for Raw was a 4.3, one of the four best ratings for Raw since switching back to USA Network last fall and an increase of 0.6 from the previous week's rating.


5. Stephanie McMahon pregnant


WWE announced that Stephanie McMahon and Triple H (Paul Levesque) are expecting their first child later this year. Stephanie will remain in charge of WWE creative throughout most of her pregnancy.





The Edge and Lita "Live Sex Scene" wasn't something either Edge or Lita were especially comfortable with, says sources close to both. There are no indications, though, they put up any kind of resistance. Edge (Adam Copeland) has reconciled with his wife of last year, whom he cheated on with Lita (Amy Dumas) early last year. After a public breakup which included vitriolic statements by Copeland's wife, Lisa, including her accusing him of using steroids, they have worked to rebuild their relationship in recent months. Although Copeland and Dumas were romantically involved last year, the stress that came from Matt Hardy making it public, the fact that it cost Hardy his job (which did bother Dumas, who despite cheating on Hardy, did still care for him), and the whispering at the workplace all contributed to their relationship not lasting long or developing much past its early stages.


Lita has a rep for being a private person. She expressed that in a Byte This interview when she was promoting the Edge vs. Hardy feud. "She knows she's got a great character who can be a successful heel for a long time to come," says one acquaintance from WWE. "The problem is, to cash in she has to play into being a slut, and so she has mixed emotions about it."


Edge is more apt to be willing to go along with this type of raunchy angle, but the awkwardness that it caused for him and his wife made the situation worse than it would have otherwise been because of his history with Lita. "Adam'll do whatever is asked of him," says one friend. "He's not the type to put up a stink about it. But he had to limit how far they went with it, so they found a happy medium to keep the company happy."


Lita's left breast was exposed briefly during the segment, which was blacked out in some countries, but not in the main U.S. feed. A freeze-frame of the exposed breast was circulating all over the Internet on Tuesday. Lita's facial expression didn't convey comfort and serenity, either, at that moment, as half of her face was visible in the shot.




WWE and Juventud Guererra agreed to terms for Juventud's release last week. The release equates to Juventud being fired, as he had been late to shows and an overall disruptive, unreliable, unbearable presence backstage since his arrival. The final straw for Juventud was his Smackdown TV match against Kid Kash for the Cruiserweight Title on Jan. 3. Once he was told he was jobbing, he tried to take a number of key moves out of the match so that Kash wouldn't kick out of them. In the match, he sandbagged it (meaning he was uncooperative with Kash and was dead-weight for Kash's moves), and even potatoed Kash once or twice The agents noticed and addressed it with Juvi, who claimed he was injured. Vince McMahon, who was already down on his attitude and his ring psychology, fired him less than 48 hours later.


Juventud acted almost so outrageous as to seem like a parody of a delusional egotistical superstar. Juventud has always had a big ego, has always had a rep for being immature, and has always been known for strange occurrences (such as dancing naked in a drug-induced stupor in a hotel lobby in Australia while on tour with WCW years ago). It got to the point that Super Crazy and Psicosis had asked not to be associated with him because they feared they'd be grouped in with him and lose their jobs since it seemed inevitable Juventud's time was limited. Psicosis hasn't gotten along with Juventud for years.


Juventud would often pitch ideas for himself to the writers, but it almost never included Super Crazy and Psicosis. One of his ideas was to put his mask back on and win a "mask vs. mask" match over Rey Mysterio. He proposed on the tour of Italy that he host an interview segment called "Juice on the Loose," and play into the Rock gimmick of saying, "Finally, the Juice is back in Italy."


Juventud always wore dark sunglasses backstage, always referred to himself in the third person, and always acted as if he were on the same level of not John Cena or Batista, but of Undertaker or Steve Austin - a proven top tier draw and legend. There are stories of him on airplanes telling passengers who recognized him that he is The Rock of Mexico, and now as big as Rock in the U.S. Rock was upset with Juventud using his gestures and moves while in WCW, but Juventud used them because he believed it was his right since he was as big as Rock. Juventud had been late to shows recently and in general difficult to work with.


Vince McMahon brought on some of this himself. On the first day that the Mexicools were in the WWE locker room, during a speech addressing the entire roster, he pointed them out. He said they looked eager and hungry to be there and that others should take their cue from their enthusiasm. He then said, jokingly, something to the effect of: "Who knows, maybe some day I'll make Juventud the World Champion." Juventud took it to heart, not realizing McMahon was in essence saying he was one of the last people anyone would expect McMahon to make champion, but a good attitude and eagerness could take you far. Those who knew of Juventud's rep - which included almost everyone in the locker room, especially anyone who had toured with him previously and knew of his talk-of-the-locker-room partying ways on the road and his out of control ego, groaned when McMahon said that, realizing he had just created more of a monster.


Juventud was once one of the most talented athletes coming out of Mexico. In the early-'90s, he was seen as Rey Mysterio's equal as the two elite world class luchadors. "He probably thinks Triple H or Batista felt threatened by him, and that's why he was fired," says one wrestler who was at that meeting on Juventud's first day. "He'll never change."




-Former WWE wrestler and diva Dawn Marie has filed a complaint with the EEOC claiming wrongful termination, claiming she was released because she became pregnant. She is seeking to be paid for the remainder of her contract, which was less than one year at the time she was released by WWE. The reason she was told she was released was because "Creative had no ideas for her." She had apparently been in good standing with the company with a track record of being on time and fulfilling her duties.


-WWE is working on the drug testing policy behind the scenes. Vince McMahon is planning to use the same testing agency that Major League Baseball uses. There is no known timetable for its implementation, but it hasn't been discarded or forgotten about by any means. A cardiologist regularly conducting stress tests will be a major aspect of testing, not just testing for drugs.


-Regarding Batista's injury, says one WWE veteran: "When you're trying to overcompensate for another injury, you're more likely to end up injuring something else. He should have taken time off for the lat injury. There's more important things than keeping your spot. It's not 'your spot' anyway. If you're that important, they'll make a new spot for you when you get healthy."


- At the Jan. 7 Smackdown house show in Ogdensburg, N.Y., Kid Kash retained the Cruiserweight Title without wrestling. Prior to his match against Jamie Noble, Funaki, and Nunzio, Kash announced he couldn't wrestle due to injury. Teddy Long said the match would be for the vacant Cruiserweight Title for the remaining three men. Nunzio was pinned first. After a ref bump, Kash knocked out Noble with brass knuckles, dragged Funaki on top of Noble, and put the brass knucks on Funaki. The referee counted the pin and declared Funaki the winner. Kash pointed out the brass knucks on Funaki. The referee reversed his decision and DQ'd Funaki with Kash keeping the title because a title can't change hands on a DQ. The next two nights, Kash didn't withdraw from the match, but instead officially participated, but only at the beginning and very end. See pg. 7 "Live Event Report" for details.


-Although he's appeared to be dealing with pain during matches lately, Shawn Michaels has given indications he wants to wrestle several more years and retirement is not part of his plans anytime soon.


-Joey Styles has been getting harsh reviews from Vince McMahon, who expressed that he was focusing too much on calling wrestling moves and not enough on getting the storylines and characters over. One source says Styles was told, in essence, that it's not a lifetime job unless he earns it.


-Jerry Lawler recently signed a contract extension with WWE, so it doesn't appear he'll be "odd man out" anytime soon. In fact, with Coach having been in the dog house recently (before Styles showed up) and now Styles being in the dog house, plus issues with Michael Cole and Tazz last week, Lawler is the only main announcer without heat with McMahon.


-Tazz and Cole were embarrassed last week when a satellite feed version of their commentary during commercial breaks made it to the Internet. They were heard talking about how difficult it was to work with the table broken during the entire show. Although not part of the satellite feed, one source says they also expressed discontent with having to share the announcing desk with Ken Kennedy for one match a week indefinitely.


-Ric Flair arrived at Sunday's PPV with his young girlfriend (the one mentioned in his divorce papers). People were "whooing" because he was making out with her in the parking lot.


-On the Jan. 4 edition of WWE.com's Byte This, Chris Masters joined the show to discuss the New Year's Revolution PPV. In character, Masters insulted Carlito, saying that when he takes off his shirt, "he looks like a fourteen year old boy going through puberty." Masters compared himself favorably against Hulk Hogan and Triple H. Masters said Hogan is about 110 years old. He said Hunter's career is winding down. Masters planted the seed to work with either one of the two in the future. In any event, Masters is scheduled to team with Hunter against Shawn Michaels & Ric Flair around the horn on February house shows. Carlito called in to discuss the PPV. He said he started spitting in people's faces after "some old guy" upset him many years ago. Carlito stayed in character to comment on specific wrestlers on the Raw roster. On Chris Masters, Carlito said he's a "big dumb goof." Kurt Angle is a "big Olympic zero." Kane is a "big red dumb machine." Carlito cut to the chase on John Cena and called him "a wannabe rapper, a wannabe wrestler, and a terrible champion." Carlito described Shawn Michaels as "HBGay because that's what he looks like when he does that stupid little dance."


-On the Jan. 4 Byte This, a caller said Cena is "played out" and hopes someone new will be able to push WWE into 2006. The caller also said Bret Hart should be the new Raw GM. [Michael KopStick]


-Gregg Groothuis (Jack Bull), Mike Mizanin, Mikey Matts, and Nick Mitchell have been called up to OVW from Deep South Wrestling. It appears OVW will be considered a step above Deep South in the developmental hierarchy.


-The following is the plot summary for the movie "See No Evil" starring Kane, set for release on May 19: " Seven feet tall. Four hundred pounds. A rusty steel plate screwed into his skull and razor-sharp fingernails that pluck out his victims' eyes. Reclusive psychopath Jacob Goodnight is holed up in the long-abandoned and rotting Blackwell Hotel, alone with his nightmares until eight petty criminals show up for community service duty along with the cop who put a bullet in Jacob's head four years ago. When one of their own is kidnapped by the killer and her fate uncertain, the remaining lawbreakers must fight this indestructible force of nature with a violent score to settle."


-Vince McMahon was said to be showing signs of frustration, if not embarrassment, with crowd reactions to Cena. McMahon prides himself on controlling his audience, and their continued rebellion against his top babyface was showing him up. "They tried everything to get fans to cheer Cena, but they just threw their hands up last week in New Jersey," says one wrestler. "That really shook them up."


-Big Show's contract expires this fall, but it's considered a given he'll re-sign. Mark Henry's contract expires this fall, and it's not considered a given he'll even be offered a renewal. He has been injury prone and an overall disappointment since he was signed to a seven-figure deal when Vince McMahon thought he had a chance to turn him into a wrestling superstar based on his Olympic powerlifting credentials.


-The advertised line-up for the Feb. 24 live event in Manila, Phillippines is: John Cena vs. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H with John Cena as special referee, Shawn Michaels & Ric Flair vs. Edge & Chris Masters, Big Show & Kane vs. Tomko & Snitsky, Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito, Chavo Guerrero vs. Trevor Murdoch, Trish vs. Torrie Wilson, and Viscera vs. Lance Cade.


-One of the reasons WWE may stick with John Cena as a top act through thick and thin is that he was one of Stephanie McMahon's first hand-picked choices to be pushed to the top. She was won over by his rapping to her on an airplane ride once and has been one of his biggest backers ever since. She might be resistant to admit failure.




Jan. 7 Smackdown house show in Ogdensburg, N.Y. (est. 3,000, near capacity): MNM (Mercury & Nitro w/Melina) beat Psicosis & Super Crazy with the Snapshot to retain the WWE Tag Titles, Bobby Lashley beat Vito, Matt Hardy beat Sylvan, Kid Kash retained the Cruiserweight Title via DQ over Nunzio, Jamie Noble, and Funaki, Boogeyman beat Simon Dean, Animal & Heidenreich beat The Dicks, Chris Benoit beat Orlando Jordan after three amigos suplexes, Mark Henry (w/Melina) beat Batista via DQ; Batista retained World Hvy. Title. [Kevin Decent]

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Samoa Joe says the sprained ankle he suffered at the Dec. 30 IWA-Mid South event in Illinois hampered his holidays. "I got a little bit of a banged up ankle so I spent most of the holidays with my legs in an ice bucket trying to rehab injuries," Joe told Brian Fritz on a TNAWrestling.com podcast. "(It was) just a sprain, but a little bit more - the kind of stuff that will ruin your day." Joe said he's paying the price for the high impact offense expected in TNA, especially after dislocating his jaw against A.J. Styles at the December PPV.


Joe said he thankful for the opportunity to display his talent in TNA. "TNA has given me a venue to wrestle and do my thing in the ring and that's all I ever asked for," Joe said. "TNA definitely has given me that opportunity." Joe said many fans come up to him saying they heard about his work in Ring of Honor, New Japan, and other independent promotions, but never saw him live. Joe said the fans in Orlando have been receptive.


When TNA and Joe negotiated for him to debut in June, Joe told management he would deliver in the ring. "I had something to prove; I've been surrounded by doubters my whole life," Joe said about the criticism that his style of wrestling would not translate into mainstream wrestling. "People understand aggression and I try to bring that to the ring when I wrestle. I told the TNA office, 'give me a shot and I'll make it worth your while.'" Joe said it was an honor to face Jushin Liger at the "Bound for Glory" PPV in October 2005. "Liger's history speaks for itself," Joe said. "He's put on phenomenal matches. It was really nice to have the opportunity to get in the ring with him."


Joe said there are other wrestlers from New Japan who he would like to face in TNA. Joe mentioned the working relationship between TNA and his former employer, New Japan, that created an opportunity for Liger to work in TNA, Tanahashi to face A.J. Styles at Final Resolution, and other wrestlers from Japan to wrestle in TNA. Joe said he would love to take on former IWGP Champion Yuji Nagata as well as Shinsuke Nakamura, who he worked with at New Japan Dojo in California when was employed by Inoki Sports Management. Nakamura recently challenged Brock Lesnar for the IWGP Title at the Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show.




TNA Impact from New Year's Eve drew the standard 0.8 rating. The midnight show on New Year's drew a strong 0.7 rating. It was encouraging that fans checked back three hours later for the half-hour show. The Dec. 24 Christmas Eve show drew a strong 0.9 rating. Well, strong compared to every other edition of Impact on Spike.


Both shows drew a 0.5 rating for the replay the following Monday. The combined rating for the main airing and Monday replay of Impact was 1.4, the highest overall rating for TNA on Spike to date.


TNA Impact on Saturday, Jan. 7 drew a 0.9 rating, and the Monday replay drew a 0.4 rating, adding up to a strong 1.3 rating.


Spike TV is considering giving TNA a Monday night prime time special on Feb. 14, the night that Raw is preempted on USA Network for the dog show. Spike officials were considering it this week. Obviously, TNA would jump at the opportunity. Spike is alternately considering airing a UFC taped special in that timeslot, but it sounds as if TNA has a good shot to be offered the special timeslot.




-Jeff Jarrett's tribute to Sting, which aired on the Jan. 7 edition of Impact, was heavily edited for airing. The tribute was kept as the final segment of the show, but lasted just over five minutes. Eric Young played the blonde-haired surfer Sting of the late '80s and early '90s. Chris Harris played the crow Sting from the anti-NWO days. Monty Brown played the "current" Sting and wheeled a stroller to the ring. Christian interrupted the segment. Chants of "boring" greeted Jarrett as soon as he began the tribute. However, other derogatory chants were edited out as approximately 75 percent of the segment was chopped out.


-On the Jan. 4 Byte This, a caller sincerely asked Todd Grisham about Sting signing with TNA and how Vince McMahon must feel about it. "I don't think Vince McMahon cares," Todd replied. He avoided the question by keeping Vince in character. "He's the interim GM and he only cares about himself and that's about it right now," he responded.


-Christian sounds as if he'll be a great recruiter for any other WWE wrestlers considering jumping to TNA. All indications are he's loved his time in TNA so far and feels creatively fulfilled, recharged, and excited about his career.


-Jeff Jarrett has more political power and creative input now than he ever has in TNA. Even Dixie Carter has backed off, letting Jarrett make decisions and sink or swim as a result.


-In the second week of Todd Grisham's anti-TNA campaign on WWE.com's "Byte This" show, Grisham responded negatively to a question about Sting. The caller asked if Vince McMahon cares about Sting signing with TNA. "I don't think Vince McMahon cares," Grisham snapped before putting McMahon back into character. "He's the interim G.M. and he only cares about himself and that's about it right now." Grisham also praised one person in the chat room for posting "TNA sucks."


-Final Resolution card for January 15: Sting & Christian Cage vs. Monty Brown & Jeff Jarrett, Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels for the X Division Title, A.J. Styles vs. Tanahashi, Rhino vs. Abyss, AMW vs. Team 3D for the NWA Tag Titles, Raven vs. Larry Zbyszko's mystery opponent.


-Kevin Nash is still under TNA contract through October 2006. He has around 15 dates on his contract that TNA is committed to paying him for, but they don't have to be used in any particular time frame, so they could be saved until late this summer or spread out during most of the year.


-Sting was backstage at the TNA tapings last week, but not used on the TV taping. Those who saw him said he looked good, was laid back, and was interacting with a variety of wrestlers. He seemed to be enjoying himself and didn't seem distant or have a prima donna attitude, which he was accused of during his previous TNA appearances. TNA wrestlers expect him to earn his money.





JANUARY 8, 2006



On Heat prior to the PPV, Chavo Guerrero beat Gene Snitsky with a frog splash.


(1) Ric Flair beat Edge (w/Lita) via DQ at 7:10 to retain the Intercontinental Title. Edge dominated early on before taking Flair to the outside. Edge hit a suplex on the floor and Flair took a hard bump on his back. Back in the ring, Flair connected with a top rope double axe handle. Lita got on the apron and Flair pulled her into the ring. Flair tossed Edge to the outside then placed Lita in the figure four. Edge retrieved his briefcase and cracked it over Flair's head, prompting a DQ. Edge continued to wallop Flair over the head, opening him up. Edge and Lita eventually left and Flair lay motionless on the mat covered in blood. Flair was helped to the back by referees. Short match. (*3/4)


Backstage, Kurt Angle was with Daivari. Angle told Todd Grisham that France is the best country, he hates blacks, and he'd like to put the ankle lock on Jesus Christ. Angle said he could say anything he wants and the fans would still cheer him. The fans cheered in the background. Angle said the "You suck" chants turn into cheers when he steps into the ring.


(2) Trish Stratus beat Mickie James at 7:24 to retain the Women's Title. At the beginning of the match, Mickie went through her schizophrenic expressions of joy and disdain based on her happiness facing Trish and desire to win, respectively. Mickie and Trish exchanged hard forearm blows to set an energetic pace. Mickie stepped out of the way of a body kick and Trish flew through the ropes to the outside. Mickie picked up the Women's Title and contemplated using it as a weapon. Mickie opted not to and brought Trish back into the ring. Mickie stalled instead of continuing her attack. Trish ducked a side kick and caught Mickie in the face with the Chick Kick for the win. Trish walked out of the ring with a scornful look on her face. (*1/2)


Backstage, Maria interviewed herself about the upcoming bra and panties match. Gregory Helms interrupted and demanded respect. Shelton Benjamin and his mom arrived at the arena. She scolded Shelton about not eating properly. Elsewhere, Edge told Lita to stay at the WWE Axxess room and answer questions while he tended to more important matters.


(3) Jerry Lawler beat Gregory Helms at 9:02. Lawler dominated early on before Helms took a short cut to gain the offensive advantage. The crowd was lifeless through the majority of Helms's attack. When Helms charged Lawler in the corner, Lawler moved and Helms hit the corner hard. Lawler pulled down his strap and dropped a fist on Helms. Lawler called for a piledriver, but Helms slipped out. Helms went up top and Lawler knocked him off balance. Lawler connected with a fist drop from the corner for the win. Basic match. At least Lawler established a move involving the fist as a potential finisher. (*1/4)


Mickie James walked into the Axxess room and thanked Trish Stratus for their match. Mickie said it was great touching Trish in the ring. Mickie nearly kissed Trish again. Todd Grisham asked Trish if she was ready to answer questions. Mickie jumped into Trish's seat ready to answer questions on her own.


Backstage, Shelton Benjamin's mom analyzed the catering table for food quality. She was frustrated with a boxed lunch of Peanut Butter and Jelly. She bent over near the table for an extended length of time as Viscera - complete with entrance music - walked into the picture and stared at her posterior. She popped up and told Viscera not to disrespect her. Viscera said he was just looking for some action. She ignored him and walked away before returning to snatch a sandwich out of Viscera's hand.


(4) Triple H beat Big Show at 16:20. Show came to the ring with his hand in a full cast. Hunter stalled early on because he didn't want to wrestle Show because he had a weapon on his hand. Hunter avoided early punches. Show went on the offensive and used his alternate hand to work on Hunter. Show went for a clubbing blow with the cast, but Hunter ducked and Show's hand slammed into the ringpost. Hunter ripped off the cast revealing Show's cartoon-like throbbing hand. Hunter attacked Show's hand repeatedly. After a referee bump, Hunter retrieved a sledgehammer. Show broke the handle with his hand, but aggravated the injury. Hunter grabbed a chair on the outside and bashed it over Show's hand. Back in the ring, Show ran over Hunter with a shoulder tackle and called for a chokeslam. Hunter slammed the remaining portion of the sledgehammer over Show's head. As the referee came alive, Hunter delivered the Pedigree and the referee made the three count. The story was the key element of a plodding match. (**1/4)


(5) Shelton Benjamin beat Viscera at 7:05. Shelton's mom walked with Shelton to the ring and called out her son before re-doing her line to call out Viscera. Benjamin tried taking Viscera down throughout the match, but Viscera stayed on his feet. Shelton's mom screamed from outside of the ring with her purse dangling around her arm. Benjamin knocked Viscera near the ropes and Shelton's mom clubbed Viscera over the head with her purse before the referee had a chance to turn around and conveniently admonish Shelton while turning his back to the outside interference. Shelton hit a spin kick for the win. Poor match and a waste of Shelton's talent. (1/4*)


Backstage, Vince McMahon walked into Shawn Michaels's locker room. McMahon sarcastically wished Michaels luck winning the Elimination Chamber. McMahon pointed out that the first entrant has never won the match. Michaels countered that he has always been the first person to pull off unprecedented feats. McMahon said hell would freeze over if Michaels won.


(6) Ashley beat Maria, Candice Michelle, Victoria, and Torrie Wilson at 11:30 in a bra and panties gauntlet match. Order of elimination: Candice, Maria, Torrie, Victoria. Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah made an unadvertised appearance mid-way through the match. Mae Young stripped herself down then went after Victoria. Mae, nearly pulled all of Victoria's upper body clothing off before Victoria held Mae back. Eventually, Ashley came to the ring as the final entrant and immediately pulled off Victoria's shorts to win. (n/a)


Backstage, Shelton Benjamin was overjoyed with his victory. Shelton's mom hugged him then she pulled out a brick from her purse, which she used to aide Shelton to victory. Shelton wasn't as happy with his win after seeing the brick.


(7) John Cena beat Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Chris Masters, Carlito, and Kane at 28:24 to retain the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match. Order of Elimination: Angle, Michaels, Kane, Masters, Carlito. Cena came to the ring to the loudest chorus of boos since becoming WWE Champion. The boos intensified when he gained the offensive advantage during the match. Angle entered the match on an ankle lock rampage. However, Michaels caught him with Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere and eliminated Angle. Carlito eliminated Michaels after delivering a spinning facebuster. Masters and Carlito, who organized a plan backstage before the match, teamed up to eliminate Kane. This left Cena, who was covered in blood, against Masters and Carlito. Masters placed Cena in the Masterlock, but Carlito turned on Masters with a low blow. Carlito quickly rolled up Masters to eliminate him. Cena didn't waste any time and he rolled up Carlito from behind to win the match. (***1/2)


As Cena slumped in the corner after the match, Vince McMahon walked out and ordered the Chamber cage to be raised. McMahon said Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and would face Cena for the title. Edge handed over the briefcase and ran to the ring.


(8) Edge beat John Cena at 1:41 to capture the WWE Championship. Edge charged Cena and delivered a series of punches. Edge set up for a spear and waited for Cena to struggle to his feet. Edge connected and made a cover. The referee's arm dropped three times, but Cena pulled his shoulder up for a nearfall. Edge pulled his hair in disbelief that Cena kicked out. Edge set up for another spear and connected for a second time. Edge made the cover and scored the victory to capture the title. Edge celebrated with the belt and Lita in the ring. Tears eventually came out after several minutes of celebration. The show closed with Edge and Lita embracing with the title. (n/a)


After the show, Edge told Todd Grisham on WWE.com that there would be "live hot sex" involving himself and Lita the next night on Raw.

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Guest EastCoastJ


Anatony of an Angle

By Bruce Mitchell, Torch columnist


Maybe you caught it on TNA Impact last Saturday night, you know, the segment about half way through where Ron Killings and Bobby Roode wrestled three straight times. If you missed it, Killings got a quick pin on Roode the first time. Roode and his manager Scott D'Amore were furious and begged Killings for another match, so then Killings pinned him again when D'Amore's interference backfired. So of course Roode begged for another match and this time he won. One ten minute segment made both guys look stupid. Bobby Roode got beat with ease twice. Ron Killings looked like a dope wrestling a guy the third time after proving everything he needed to prove.


Maybe you reacted to this like any rational viewer, by scratching your head and wondering what the hell that was all about. Fair enough. The germ of that piece of Non Stop Puzzlement was one of the classic territory angles, one that hadn't been seen on the national stage in over 20 years. It was an angle that if used with restraint, at the right time and with the right people, could catapult a new babyface into main event status. It's also an angle both Mike Tenay and Dutch Mantel were very familiar with, as students of the business over the course of several decades.


The rationale for the angle was solid. Four Live Crew had broken up. While the unnamed New Age Outlaws had their spot and Konnan had his new LAX crew in place with Homicide and Apollo, including a chance to finally show his acting and promo talents, Ron Killings needed a jump start. This angle was designed and tested over the years to do just that.


It works like this: Dominant main event heel rolls over jobbers week after week, month after month. One day a new wrestler appears to take him on. He looks a cut above the villain's usual prey, but he doesn't much play to the crowd and it seems this is just another match.


But things are not what they seem and with a burst of energy the new guy beats the big star quickly and decisively with his finisher. New guy celebrates, crowd goes crazy, announcers are in shock, and main event heel is furious. He claims he was taken by surprise and demands a rematch. Truth be told, it happened so fast it hardly seemed real. Everyone is excited to see the rematch, but no way it happens again. No way main event heel who never loses on TV loses twice on one TV show.


New star beats dominant main event heel right in the middle with his finisher again. Place goes even more bonkers than before and the promotion has a brand new star and brand new top feud to freshen up your shows. Off the top of my head I remember this one being used with (dominant heel first) Strong Kobayashi and Billy Robinson (AWA), Ken Patera and Jim Brunzell (Mid-Atlantic), Road Warrior Hawk and Tim Horner (Georgia), Buzz Sawyer and Pistol Pez Whatley (Georgia), and Jerry Lawler and Bobby Blaze (Smoky Mountain Wrestling). That's hardly a complete list either (and to be honest, it had varying degrees of success). Proven angle, fresh audience, worth a try, right?


Not the way TNA designed it...


First, Bobby Roode is hardly a dominant heel. He's one of the better workers in the faceless (unless you're counting assistant bookers) Team Canada contingent. No one is surprised when he either wins or loses. Second, the table hadn't been set for an exciting, important angle by weeks of squash matches, or even one squash match. Third, Ron Killings wasn't a new act to even the viewers who just started watching TNA in the weeks and months since it got on Spike.


Most importantly, TNA just couldn't leave a simple concept alone. Never mind it's a fresh concept if you've never seen it - and no one in this audience has. The TNA Booking committee had (well, two of them), so they had to change it.


The thing about changing a story archetype is, you ought to have a good reason for changing it. If you're worried that your story is too corny, don't use it. TNA's change ensured neither guy progressed. Add this needless and self-defeating change to the wrong characters playing the story out without the proper set-up and no wonder this segment was a head scratcher.


It's too bad, though, because under the right circumstance, with the right detail work, and with the right performers, it's a storyline that could pay off today.


Listen to the two hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Update, hosted by Wade Keller, every Friday night at the Torch VIP website, available in Flash Streaming on your computer or MP3 download for your iPod or to burn to CD.

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Guest EastCoastJ


WrestleMania Dark Horse: Despite the huge babyface reaction Kurt Angle got for his battle royal title win on Smackdown this week, Angle should still be a heel headed into WrestleMania. There is one "feel-good" scenario that would be a historical, memorable WrestleMania moment which could rival the Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit embrace - and that is Rey Mysterio winning the World Hvt. Title from Angle at WrestleMania.


Vince McMahon likes to end WrestleMania, if possible, with a feel-good moment. If Triple H vs. John Cena is the Raw main event, and Triple H wins the WWE Hvt. Title, it won't be the way McMahon would want to end the biggest show. Even if they decide to have Cena retain the title against Hunter, there will likely be a mix of boos from the Chicago fans.


A better way to end WrestleMania and make it feel like a special show is for Rey Mysterio to defeated Kurt Angle to do the impossible, and become the smallest world champion ever. With everyone expecting Triple H to win the Royal Rumble, the journey could start with Rey scoring a surprise Rumble win. Hunter could still end up earning a Raw title shot, but Rey would earn a shot at Angle - a wrestler with whom he can have a great match, and a wrestler with whom Angle can trust won't hurt him or threaten his neck.


Also, Mysterio may be the one and only wrestler who can get fans to boo Angle. Rey is really well liked and respected by fans, and he'd be a huge underdog going into WM against Angle. With Batista going down, and with no obvious Smackdown Title match, it would be the perfect opportunity to do something out of the ordinary. Rey has been rumored to be in line for a World Title run of some kind in the next couple of years as a show of respect for his accomplishments and because it would be good for business. WM22 would be the right time to seize the opportunity. It'd be a great use of Angle, also. Certainly better than sticking Angle against Randy Orton or Undertaker instead.


Props to Dusty: No, not Dusty Rhodes. PWTorch.com contributor Dusty Giebink, who called the finish of New Year's Resolution in his Torch website column hours before the PPV began. He wrote in an article published early Sunday afternoon: "I am going to contend that tonight is just the right time for Cena to lose his belt. The most obvious candidate in the Elimination Chamber match would be Kurt Angle. But even he might not be the best choice. WWE has the opportunity to elevate Edge further on this show. The scenario is simple. Cena wins a brutal 30-40 minute Chamber match, overcoming much adversity and spilling much blood in the process. Edge comes out and claims his Money in the Bank title shot, and is able to easily overcome his battered and bloodied opponent to win the title. Edge looks like the biggest sleazebag in the world for winning the belt in that manner, and Cena doesn't lose much by looking as though he got cheated in the process."


Since all indications are the Edge title win was an idea conjured up only since Cena was badly booed in New Jersey the week before, it couldn't have worked out better than Money in the Bank hadn't been spent yet. Edge probably otherwise would just cashed it in on Raw in coming weeks. This worked out much better. Had that stip not been available for Edge, it would have impossible to pull off the surprise title change in the same, logical (and if you're Dusty Giebink, totally predictable) manner. If word gets out that the decision wasn't made until Sunday, Dusty deserves royalties.


Correction: Booker T should have been ranked no. 27 in the Torch Annual Draft listing two weeks ago. Monty Brown was mistakenly listed at no. 27 in his place. Monty was also listed at no. 24, which is his correct placement.


PWTorch Podcast: If you've got an iPod or iTunes, I encourage you to sign up for our weekly free PWTorch Podcast. Just enter "Torch" in the iTunes Podcast search box, or go to the Sports listing (we're ranked among the top 50 sports podcasts). By subscribing, iTunes will automatically download the PWTorch Podcast each week automatically. Also by subscribing, you help us move up in the rankings; entering the top 25 would give us additional exposure to potential new listeners since we'd be on the main Top 25 listing in the sports category. In the weekly podcast, I run down the latest headlines for the week, usually on Fridays. We, of course, continue to offer dozens of VIP Audio Updates exclusively for Torch subscribers each month, which you can manually download on iTunes and listen on your iPod or other MP3 player.

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