Happy Monday, everyone! This is my 6th week of doing the Monday Headlines, and I’d have to say it’s been the slowest weekend for news yet. Usually, I am challenged to choose which 5 or 6 headlines to share with you. Not the case this time, proving that John Canton is indeed a sage wrestling writer, because he told me the news slows down around Christmas.
As you may have already read, John, Hugh Firth and I have posted articles on WhatCulture.com. We’ve been having fun with their “Top 10” style of writing, and it will not affect our work here at TJR. This will be the last week that I mention it here, but please check out my latest called “10 Hot Reasons To Believe In Roman Reigns”. You can guess what one of my reasons is.
Let’s see what DID go down these last few days in the wacky world of pro wrestling.
The Slammys Are Coming!
I will hand it to WWE, they’ve been promoting the heck out of the Slammy Award episode of Raw, airing live tonight. Even though the consensus seems to be that low expectations are the correct ones, I appreciate what they’re doing in advance of the show. I think it’s a great idea to release a steady trickle of Slammy nominees, which engages the fans to continually check the website and the WWE App. It gives us something to talk about ahead of time, though I suspect the anticipation will be sweeter than the payoff.
A lot of people, both fans and WWE wrestlers, have expressed disbelief over the exclusion of certain nominees. The Match of the Year contenders are particularly puzzling, given the glaring absence of matches like Punk/Cena from Raw or Punk/Lesnar from Summerslam. I realize that the nominees are chosen to achieve a desired finish, so whatcha gonna do, but if Rock/Cena wins, I swear I’m not going to watch wrestling for the rest of the day. That match was not just far from being a Match of the Year contender, but it was also painfully boring to watch.
Both Ricardo Rodriguez and Damien Sandow have tweeted about their respective exclusions from the Double-Cross of the Year category. I would argue that the Rodriguez/Del Rio storyline doesn’t really resonate when I think back on the year, but Sandow’s double-cross on Cody at Money In The Bank was excellent. Mark Henry’s fake retirement speech deserves its place on the list, but they should lump all of the double-crosses on Daniel Bryan into one nominee (call it “Triple H Ruins Stuff”) and give Sandow a spot on the list.
If he hadn’t double-crossed Cody to win the briefcase, Cody wouldn’t have subsequently stolen it, and we wouldn’t have had that brilliant moment beside the Gulf of Mexico.
WrestleMania 31 Location
On Tuesday, WWE will announce its location for WrestleMania 31. The announcement will take place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California, and reports indicate that the Showcase of the Immortals will be held at Levi’s Stadium (Inc) . Looking at a map, there are a whole lot of high-tech companies in the vicinity, and an amusement park. So start saving your doubloons and read the excellent “Microserfs” by Douglas Coupland to prepare for your visit to Silicon Valley in 2015. This is a rare opportunity for west coast wrestling fans to attend the big event, and Levi’s Stadium is a brand-new NFL venue. It should be glitzy!
WrestleMania 21 was the most recent to be held in California (poetically, it will be 10 years later) and that event saw such highs as Rey vs. Eddie and HBK vs. Angle.
It also gave us the nightmare-inducing match that was Big Show vs. Akebono. I can’t un-see it, and now neither can you.
Ooooh Yeah! Hall of Fame Doin’ The Thing!
Much has been made of Randy Savage’s absence from the WWE Hall of Fame, the most popular reason for it being that he had relations with a young Stephanie McMahon. I’m not going to weigh in on that, juicy as it may seem, because none of us will ever know the real reason, and I feel kind of icky talking about this one. Another person who gets the icks when it comes to all things McMahon is Lanny Poffo, the Macho Man’s brother and former WWE wrestler who went by “Leapin’ Lanny” and “The Genius”.
Lanny appeared on the Shining Wizards podcast recently, and talked about how he’s come to terms with WWE possibly inducting his brother into the Hall of Fame (Savage always said that he wouldn’t go into the Hall unless the entire Poffo family was inducted, but it looks like that won’t be happening according to Savage’s wishes):
“I don't have a battery of lawyers on retainer, so my belief is, do what you want. You want to honor him? Go ahead. This is the same company that didn't send its condolences to my mother who is going to be 87 in January. Now I know they made a nice video tribute, but don't you understand that that's just PR. Just like when they fire you, they wish you luck on your future endeavors? That's PR.” (Inc)
I like that he’s decided to let This Business do whatever it’s going to do, and not let it cast a shadow over his life just because it’s not exactly what Savage wanted. Although you can tell that he’s still quite bitter about WWE not sending condolences. He says that Slim Jim sent flowers and notes to the family, and he’s gotten phone calls from Howard Finkel and Steve Lombardi (the Brooklyn Brawler). Geez, The Fink is always a class act. As is Slim Jim, apparently.
You can tell that Lanny has a huge amount of respect for his brother, crediting Randy for getting him the break he surely wouldn’t have gotten otherwise in the WWF. He cites Randy’s attention to detail, something that Ricky Steamboat also talked about with regards to their legendary match at WrestleMania III. Lanny says that Randy wanted to finish his in-ring career by putting over the up-and-coming Shawn Michaels, but Vince opted for a “youth movement”. That’s when Savage left for WCW, and we all missed out on a great feud (and the opportunity to see Sensational Sherri play a psychotic double agent!).
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
Someday soon I will write a column about Bret Hart’s autobiography “Hitman”. The book had an enormous influence on my “coming back” to being a wrestling fan, and my opinion of Bret has changed a lot over the years. For the time being, let’s read what he had to say on the Smart Mark Pro Wrestling Radio show. I guess because he’s Canadian, he was asked to comment on Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford:
“Toronto deserves Rob Ford, they put him in office…Toronto deserves everything it gets. Up in Calgary we’ve got a more prestigious mayor. I think we’ve got the best mayor in North America.” (Inc)
Wow. It’s pretty ignorant to say that Torontonians deserve Rob Ford, because no one deserves that guy, and as if they would have elected him to office knowing he was a crack smoker. But here’s what I don’t get: even if Rob Ford managed to be miraculously re-elected - which would certainly make the citizens of Toronto look foolish – Bret Hart really put his foot in his mouth here. As a WWE Legend with decades of PR under his belt, Bret should know better than to be rude towards one of the largest and most wrestling-oriented cities in his home country. And then to brag about his own city’s mayor, it sounds so immature, and well, dickish.
I once drove 90 minutes to Toronto, stood in a line-up that wrapped around a city block, and paid $25 to have Bret sign his book for me. Toronto wants to love you, Hitman. Why are you cutting a promo on them? Don’t let Bret Screw Bret.
Breaking News: WWE Signs Stuart Tomlinson
Those of you (and me) who don’t follow English football won’t recognize the name, but it’s just been announced that WWE has signed a deal with former goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson. He retired with a knee injury last year, and has tweeted that he’s headed Stateside to begin his new career. (Inc)
I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this, from those who are in the know about Mr. Tomlinson! I just googled him (not a euphemism) and it’s come back with some scantily-clad photos from his stint as a model. Please not another The Model gimmick! There can be only one.
That’s all she wrote for now. I apologize in advance for missing next week’s Monday News Update, as I will be away. I hope to write an extra column this week and have John post it for me next Thursday. Thanks for reading!