A year ago I said Luther Reigns was worth a dozen or so Batistas...Am I still saying that? Well, what I can say is that Batista now has to prove that he really can improve on the Goldberg formula, become the loyal Brock Lesnar, the successful big man champion. He hasn't been pushed, seriously, as a singles wrestler until now, so Raw's most interesting days are here. Triple H may have found someone he was willing to let roost as champion in his stead, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet. Randy Orton is out to repear himself again (the way he ended up in Evolution is also the way his saga with that clique is ending), so that leaves the champion and the ego to clash so settle on the new rules of the clubhouse.
And all this time it looked like Smackdown was the show that was regressing. Instead, we find Raw continuing to wait on the next lightning bolt to strike. Oh sure, Mohammed Hassan is a fine new addition, and even if the fans don't like him, Chris Masters is an impressive addition, certainly better than Garrison Cade ever was. Simon Dean, if he ever gets down to wrestling, is an entertaining one. Shelton Benjamin continues to prove he's ready to be the next big thing. Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, they're settling in, and so is Edge. Raw is solidifying into a more complete, competent show, knowing just how to use all of its players. Even Y2J has something to do, and it doesn't involve Christian.
Christian, by the way, is pretty much the same case as Matt Hardy, as far as his potential is concerned. He has a personality, and a fine finishing move, but other than that, he's a glorified jobber. He brings very little heat as an actual competitor, and he's done that for a long time now. Hardy, I realize, was released for other reasons (as too was Rhyno, who was either hamstrung or never really had much to offer), but he might as well have gotten his walking papers for the sin of having no future. He's the more experienced Mark Jindrak.
On Smackdown, meanwhile, the roster is bursting to the seams with young bucks waiting for their chance in the spotlight, and it's harder to juggle on Thursday nights. How do you give everyone their shots and still maintain a modicum of momentum? When someone gets something lively to do, someone else doesn't, and since Raw has most of the established stars (and is using them in actual matches now), Smackdown has to play catch-up even though they're the ones with their act together, and have had it together the longest. It just doesn't seem that way. Smackdown is vibrant, it just doesn't have enough time to show it, unlike Raw, which is able to show pretty much all its cards on a weekly basis. You don't miss anything on Heat because that's a show for people either being used to fill that show or as a sideshow to give the new bucks an additional spotlight. Smackdown, meanwhile, outsources many of its stars to Velocity. Paul London toiled for months there until he was given the chance to compete for the cruiserweight title. It's the haven for tag teams and cruiserweights, Charlie Hass, the Bashams and Akio. If it was held in as prominent a timeslot as Heat, Velocity might even be making the waves is deserves to. It could actually be a second show, rather than just an overlooked treasure nothing really develops from. Who on Smackdown, or who watches it, really knew what London was up to, or why Haas and Hardcore Holly were worthy opponents of Eddie Guererro and Rey Mysterio a couple of weeks ago?
The rumor is there'll be another draft, to shake up the rosters again. It ended up working just fine last year, despite my concerns. Randy Orton is still rumored to Smackdown, which makes me wonder who will go to Raw in return. Some seem to think it'll be Booker T, or Big Show. Neither really has anything to gain (and neither does Orton, who deserves a nice, extended feud with Batista) unless Raw wants something new to do with Kane. Has Show ever feuded with him? And a feud between Show and Triple H would be epic. I'm not sure a lot has been done there, either. But Booker still has use on Smackdown. Would this be an opening for Marty Jannetty? He was rumored to have signed a contract after the Angle-HBK stint he pulled last month, and yet he hasn't appeared since. I half-expected Michaels to announce him as his partner for Backlash, but that's probably more fanboy than mark out right there.
Smackdown should retain the services of Carlito and Orlando Jordan. Mr. Cool has been doing fine keeping his name around despite his injured wing, which now seems healed, or should I say heeled. Hopefully he can pick himself back up in the ring now, and we can see more of what he's capable of. Same with Oz. So he's US champion. More rumors have it that he'll be fighting Rey-Rey next, which almost certainly means he won't be champion much longer. He hasn't really defended the title yet, which doesn't make this a particularly significant reign. I hope he has the chance to finally prove himself a capable wrestler, and not just accessory. One step would be to develop a finisher or two. All he needs is consistence ring experience. Maybe once JBL moves beyond the WWE title (I doubt he'll end up #1 contender; Booker's my pick), his cabinet can branch out. Hopefully not bottom out. The Bashams really need to capture a tag team championship.
Luther Reigns, meanwhile, still has a bright future in store. He's been working on his ability to fly solo, much more aggressively than Batista ever did, and if that ever works out, I'll still say he's worth a dozen or so Batistas. In the meantime, I'll enjoy Hassan and Daivari, thank you very much.
I haven't been keeping the Monk in touch for a while, and haven't even mentioned WrestleMania 21 yet. From what I understand, it's another show I'm just going to have to see for myself, which I intend to, when the DVD is released.
In the meantime, I get to enjoy the final episodes of two favorite series, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda and Star Trek: Enterprise. Both are highly underrated, because people let expectations get in their way. Star Trek started dying the day people started getting other interests to follow, and tried to continue their interest in Star Trek as well. They couldn't, and so they started ranting about how poor it was getting. Okay, so the studio didn't help by pumping out one more series so quickly when the last one failed to catch on (okay, the last two, even if one eventually developed its own cult). Resentment built, and interest declined, until Star Trek for cancelled for the second time in history.
I've been watching the latest new flavor, BattleStar Galactica, and for once I actually like it. The last new flavor I enjoyed was The X-Files. If there're any problems with BSG, it's in two casting missteps, and they're major ones. now, I have no problem with a female Starbuck. I could care less. But Katee Sackhoff, she's a problem. She's deadweight. And so is Jamie Bamber, otherwise known as Apollo. They don't ring like they should, like James Callis (Baltar) or Mary McDonnell (Roslin) or even Edward James Olmos (Adama), whom I think undersells, and I'm not sure if it's because of the actor or the character. But Sackhoff can't sell a poorly written character (or maybe it just seems that way because the actress is uninspired) and Bamber is too much of a nonentity. Grace Park as Boomer (x2) is a fine example of understated, and Tricia Helfer, for what she's done, is smoldering. Rich Hatch is sadled with an underwritten Tom Zarek. Because like any other show trying for such huge scope, this series can't carry it all.
But's it's got the good faith going on, so it doesn't matter. It sucks to see these double standards.
Anyhoo, I think I saw the first episode of Will & Grace last night in syndication, and it's bizarre to see these half-developed characters in play. I don't know if I would have continued watching past that premiere episode, but the ones that've followed were worth it. It's like having inspiration and waiting for it to gesticulate. In the meantime, do you take the inspiration for what it's worth, or do you go looking for something else and forget about this half-formed thought? Recently I've been engaged in trying to figure that out. How do you know when you've come across a diamond in the rough? How much do you really need to know to decide whether or not you're wasting your time and should rather continue on with your search? Can you blame someone for not seeing something you did? How far do you have to push before the bolder starts picking up its own momentum? Can you possibly come up with a universal calculation? Or are things really just random?
It's really hard to say, and I challenge anyone to.
Leopold's Concentration, by the way, has not been abandoned. I've got most of the rest of the story sketched out. I've been continuing to pursue other projects in the meantime. And it'd be grand if I knew anyone was paying attention.