First things first (such logic I learned from the master, Yogi). Blogger, for some reason, placed the Sept. 22 edition on the 13th, as the second entry therein. It did for me, anyway. Those of you (if indeed there are any readers) left scratching their heads as to how I could have been commenting on the Emmy results and show before they occured, rest assured. Evererything is perfectly normal here...
How about that Ralphie May? He's voted off Last Comic Standing and the only thing he can think to respond with is how crappy he feels this show has gotten. The first season (his), he thinks, was the best, the second not too bad either. But this third one, rushed as it was (though how much so I wonder) to production, has been nothing short of a disgrace for the portly comic, left last standing 0-2 now. He doesn't feel like his fellow comics are pushing the medium's limits enough. It's clear he doesn't like John Heffron, one of four comics left standing before next Tuesday's final results. Heffron, who won this summer's season two, apparently isn't edgy enough for May, whose hallmark is his weight and his mildly angry brand of humor (black folks stole fat people's clothes!), delivered perfect with not as much finesse as it could be. No, I didn't develope this assessment after reading his parting shots. The guy is memorable for more than just his size, but I'm still not sure he's as funny as his second place finish in 2003 might indicate. He's brash. Maybe people like that.
Apparently not enough people like Dat Phan's Vietnamese jokes. It got him all the way to the end in the first edition, which I'm sorry I didn't follow (though of the two formats I have to choose from, this current one I prefer, which cuts through odorous bull). This guy has some of the best delivery I've seen. Rich Vos, angry as Ralphie but not so big, has a delivery to match, which is one reason why I'm certain he won't be the winner. Dave Mordal is always bemused, even by his own paper clip tripping. He became a favorite this week, but I still will not call him the most memorable of the LCS set. I think that's the reason season two has done so well this season in the head-to-heads. It has the more memorable comics. Heffron, though, reverses this, as much as Phan does. I love Heffron, and once I drew a bead on him I was totally on his bandwagon, but I would have still have gone for an Alonzo Bodden, Gary Gulman over him to win.
Bodden suddenly got very political this week. Perhaps to make Ralphie proud (he was singled out as comics May respected). It might even get him the victory, in this charged period before elections not a month away now. But I would have loved to to Phan move further along. During the roast of host Jay Mohr (apparently Mohr is so easy a roast target that most of his roasters could spend most of their time roasting people other than him), someone mentioned how they "get" Phan and his Vietnamese bit, just like they got Ant and his Scooby Doo bit. No one's going to say it, but Dat don't go far because he's targeting too small an audience with his routine. Who doesn't have Heffron childhoods (well, among those actually watching)? He might be the most hilarious man in the room, and still not score as much as he should. It's the same reason Alias is not the huge hit it deserves to be. Although Lost seems to be one, and it is equally deserving.
Okay, on to Smackdown's No Mercy pay-per-view from this past Sunday. Call me crazy, but I still believe that this was one of the best cards of the year, and it would have been even when Raw held its last PPV (Unforgiven in September, after having had the last brand PPV, and with Taboo Tuesday now weeks away), as I said at the time. And as I've also said, if Smackdoown's not going to get any respect, then I'm still going to enjoy the results (so long, Rodney).
The show kicked off with Eddie Guerrero taking on Luther Reigns. What a way to start things. Some might say Eddie kicking off a show is demeaning toward the things he's done over the past year, but the context has to be understood. Reigns is still establishing himself, and the feud to set up this match, was never exactly focused on. Someone needed an excuse to give Reigns a prominent perch on a card, so they turned to Guerrero. Who better? I haven't seen the match, or the rest of the card, but it's one very good reason why I should get the DVD when it's released a couple months down the road. The match does nothing to kill the buzz Eddie has built, since his best opponents are all locked up elsewhere in climactic matches that need to be played out. And it does everything to lend credibility to Reigns, even in defeat. This guy's a future heavyweight champion.
Nuznio takes on the Boss, Spike Dudley (not Springsteen, but that would probably be interesting, too, variations on axe handles and everything), as a way of saying Spike is defending his cruiserweight title when the booking folks have obviously run out of real options at the moment. Nothing but the storyline is keeping the belt around his waste, to my mind.
Then we come to Billy Kidman v. Paul London, in one of the better built feuds. These two deserve to be wrestling in a spotlight, and if they have to do it against each other to reach other ends (maybe Kidman could move on to Spike now, and we can find out which one is less deserving emotionally for that championship?), then so be it. London has already struck it up with Booker T, so his future is looking good. If this wasn't a highlight of the card, I'd be very surprised.
Tag team champions Kenzo Suzuki (hair newly thinned of late) and Rene Dupree defended their titles against Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam, two wrestlers who excite the fans but apparently not the booking staff. As mock-ups go, this was probably a good one.
This next one could easily have been the main event. Kurt Angle and Big Show finally met in the ring after the events of last May. Angle, who has built the stable rumor had him building months ago, interestingly lost, which may set Show up for yet another WWE title capture at Survivor Series. I'm not sure where else they could be going with this, except a drawn-out feud between these two. If Show were headed in the direction I think he's going, it might mean the first time the fans would actually be rooting for him to defeat the champion, in this case the against-all-expectations-and-possibly-reason JBL, who survived once again as the champion with the worst personal closing record in modern wrestling history, this considering even Y2J and Latino Heat.
John Cena finally reclaimed the United States championship by winning the best of five series against Booker T. I would almost have prefered Cena losing, as it would have put him in a more interesting position, but apparently not one the writers are ready for. I'm not sure this series gave us any classics (those tend to come from specialty matches, not specialty series), but the two worked well together. Hopefully this means both can move on and start agitating again. They're extremely good at that, and if there's been one thing sacrificed unexpectedly by this series it's been Cena coming out agitating just about everyone by brandishing his own form of respect, and Booker likewise by not respecting anyone else in the lockers. This will no doubt be remembered as an important moment in both their careers.
Charlie Haas and Rico got their way onto the card, plus Miss Jackie, as they wrestled the Dudleys and Dawn Marie. Rico since his return has proven more entertaining than the last we saw him, possibly because no one's asked him to speak yet. He's got wrestling ability and the power to entertain beyond that as well. It's how the tag team contenders got so popular. It's not through their vocal skills. So Haas and his fate are looking less bleak, and his future a little better as well. He's going to be a major player one day. This is the "meantime" in the equation.
Finally, there was the Last Ride Match, where Undertaker once again had to lose twice to the same champion (Brock Lesnar made most of his impact as champion by doing this). Too bad to get here we had to sacrifice (literally, at least in wrestling terms) Oz, Orlando Jordon, who could stand receiving his first PPV match already. Bradshaw continued to be the champion the fans hate to love, this time thanks to Heidenreich (who, regretfully, did not bring a poem with him). This sets up a feud Taker hopefully will not have to dodge because his opponent isn't ready yet (Mordecai), though there's been plenty of talk our Wretched Romeo isn't quite ready either. I guess we'll soon find out. It wouldn't be the first time a big man was pushed, even in what would amount to abandoned onscreen development, in an angle with the Dead Man. But at least Paul Heyman has his revenge, which means the events of this summer didn't go so absolutely to naught as they seemed to.
Compare this to earlier Smackdown cards from this year and you'll see how rapidly the brand has reestablished itself as more than a worthy rival for Raw. And that's all the eye I'm chewing off today...