Batista..UFC 92...Canada not Bizarroland...Wrestling Signs...John Wayne...JaMarkus McFarland...JR Taps

Here's hoping that everyone had a great holiday and for those that celebrate Christmas that you had a great day. We had family in from California and Pittsburgh for several days and they left around noon on Christmas Day so the Mrs. and I hung out quietly at home and she indulged me by allowing me to enjoy "Christmas with the Duke" on AMC. The John Wayne movie marathon was and has been one of my favorite things to do on Christmas Day for years. Mrs. J.R. even surprised me with a pair of red, long handle underwear, in a beautiful shadow box frame, that the Duke wore in such films such as "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and "Fort Apache."  Random thoughts begin now.....

I see where "Wrestling with Shadows" is making a 10th Anniversary return with a new interview from Bret Hart. The "Hitman" is one of my all time favorite people and any wrestling fan who doesn't read his autobiography really needs to evaluate if they are actually a wrestling fan or not. However,  I am totally over talking about the 1997 Survivor Series and the never ending story of controversy that has followed it. I do know conclusively that neither myself or the King, who were broadcasting the show that night from Montreal, were unaware of the game plan, and that we did not come near the "grassy knoll." It was an unfortunate night that I wish had never occurred but it is nothing but a memory now and hopefully at some point those interested in the matter will simply move on and find another cause in which to wear out. I am tapping on November 1997 in Montreal where I spent half the night on the phone talking to WWE wrestlers especially Mick Foley as we spoke for what seemed to be hours.     

Oklahoma's star running back, Demarco Murray, #7, has a ruptured hamstring and will miss the National Title Game on January 8 against the favored Florida Gators. Reason I bring this up is that Sooner surgeons say that Murray will be out of commission about 5 months before he can begin training.  It will be interesting to see how long Batista will be sidelined after he undergoes hamstring surgery on Friday. In the ill fated "Brawl for it All" Steve "Dr. Death" Williams ripped his hamstring and finished his fight but was then operated on and out of commission for several months. Hopefully Batista will be able to return sooner than later but WM25 looks totally unrealistic. Is Summerslam more of a realistic return for "The Animal?" 

There is never a good time to be injured but perhaps this will allow Batista to come back fresher than ever and sometimes absence makes the fan's hearts grow fonder. The controversial Randy Orton is proof of such. 

Nice to see that Universal HD will soon begin replaying both Raw and ECW on Saturday nights. Universal HD also airs some MMA product which I enjoy watching.

UFC 92 is this Saturday night from Vegas and looks to be a strong show with at least 3 bouts that feel like main events to me. I catch hell from many MMA purists when I express my opinion in this space on the MMA world but they simply need to get over it. I am a MMA fan and especially enjoy the UFC. I like to write about things that I enjoy on  a personal level. The general consensus seems to be that Nogueira will beat Mir in a heavyweight tilt that seemingly will set the winner up to fight Brock Lesnar in 2009. Nogueria vs. Lesnar is a big money PPV as MMA die hards will pay handsome cash to see former WWE Champion Lesnar get his ass whipped. The Rashard Evans-Forrest Griffin fight is too close for a novice like me to call but I have been impressed with Griffin's guts in the past. Griffin's post weigh in added weight might be a positive for him in the strength department but Evans' take down abilities can't be discounted either. Like I said, too close to call for me. I'll leave that to the "experts." Memphis native and Jerry Lawler fan Quinton "Rampage" Jackson needs a win and to continue to distance himself from the controversial issues after his last fight but fighting a guy with the nickname "Axe Murderer" feels like a bona fide slobber knocker to me. 

After a full day of John Wayne movies on Christmas, I'm trying to strategize how I get the Mrs. to condone "us" watching UFC 92. If necessary, I'll DVR it.

The WWE has essentially sold out Madison Square Garden Saturday night to the tune of well north of $700K which is a helluva "house." There is nothing like working in the "Garden" and it never ceases to motivate yours truly every time I work there. You know wrestling historians that I once "wrestled" in the main event of a sold out MSG and boy do I use the term "wrestle" looser than a widow's sleeve. The bloody shots of me are apparently under lock and key in the WWE photo department as I couldn't even get any for my personal collection. No, I wasn't going to put them in JR's Family BBQ. Duh.

Tuesday night in the Izod Center in Jersey Friday Night Smackdown will tape two, 2 hour broadcasts and over 10,000 tickets have been sold for that one and tickets are still available. For a broadcaster, voicing over 22 segments of TV in one setting, sans a 5 minute "Mother Nature" break is one of the more challenging duties we have.  Thank goodness that the "World's Angriest Announcer" Tazz can carry the bulk of the load. These are the TV days when one has to begin limiting one's liquid in-take at about 4 p.m. And be sure to wear a dark suit.

I like the fact that my Sooners are the underdogs going into the Florida game for the National Championship. It's a nice motivator and reverses the role that OU has been in the past couple of years. The Sooners' BCS Bowl drought really needs to end on January 8 which I will be able to enjoy due to the fact that we tape two Smackdown's this Tuesday in Jersey. 

I remember one year I missed the historic Fiesta Bowl game where Boise State upset OU because I apparently was the only human on Earth who could broadcast the vaunted Cena vs.K-Fed on January 1 down in Miami on Monday Night Raw. Not that it sticks with me or anything.

Oklahoma is known for three seasons, the regular football season, spring football season and the recruiting season. I bring this up because any fan of college football knows that recruiting is the key to building a great team/program and OU just got a verbal commitment from the best defensive tackle in America, Jamarkus McFarland out of Lufkin, Texas. McFarland might be the next Tommie Harris a former Sooner who is currently making mucho monies playing DT for the Chicago Bears. JaMarkus had narrowed his choices down to OU and Texas and after giving OU the verbal around midnight on Christmas night, soon there after Texas fans started saying that McFarland wasn't "that" good. As Michael Cole would say, "stop my pain."

I don't agree with what has been said about Canada being "Bizarroland" where they cheer for some wrestlers that other fans don't. Canadian fans simply are a loyal lot who enjoy cheering  for their countrymen (and women). Nothing wrong with that and I think that the American TV viewer or any other viewer can easily understand such without too much explanation.

That's like me getting booed when the WWE plays Austin, Texas because Longhorn fans strongly dislike "Boomer Sooner" the music with which is played when I enter the arena. I never take it personally I can assure you. Same goes for Omaha, where there are many proud Nebraska fans and many of them aren't wild about my entrance music either but I never feel as if they "hate" me,  just the music that is used for my entrance. In any event, fans that pay their cash should be able to cheer or jeer who in the hell they want.  

We are getting ample emails on my recent comments on signs that fans bring to events. First of all, I do not make nor do I enforce the sign policy, what ever that may be. I am not a member of the sign police. There are signs that are confiscated that I would not waste my energy on and as Larry the Cable Guy would say, "Let it Go." Profane signs that kids have to ask their mom's and dad's to explain to them aren't good in this sort of family gathering. Times have changed from the attitude era to today. One can easily argue, for better or for worse, but it is what it is. If a PG rated wrestling show isn't to one's liking then they should simply change channels. When I watch a NFL game that gets boring or isn't a compelling broadcast for whatever reason,  I am reaching for the channel changer. Point is I cannot nor will I try to convince anyone of what is approiate and what isn't regarding signs. The WWE rents the facilities, promotes the events with their money and manages said events as they see fit including monitoring what airs on their TV show.  Are they wrong in censoring some signs? Some of you will always say "yes" while others will likely respond as have I and choose not to die on that hill or in other words, "who gives a damn?"

After watching all the John Wayne films and TV in general over the past few days,  I have one question for you. As seen during the many, many commercial breaks, who in the hell is the yelling, pitchman with the REALLY black beard, as in Bill Dundee's hair color black, Billy Mays and what did he do before he became a TV pitchman?  If this guy earns a portion of his income via sales he is probably making a bunch of bread because he almost makes one want to order in hopes that it will silence him. Former WWE announcer Joe Fowler is still doing TV infomercials and makes a good living selling products on television usually of the 30 minute variety specializing in cook ware.

Our Q&A section is working again and we have answered many of your emails over the past few days and are making a gallant effort to stay caught up. If your recent emails did not get answered it means that I deleted them usually because they had been addressed before. 

My wife asked me who the role model for "The Wrestler" was based on. I don't know if there is an exact answer but I do know that it is NOT Mick Foley.  Sports Illustrated's adaptation of such is really lame reporting and sensationalistic in nature and belongs in the National Enquirer and not in an allegedly respected weekly that I have subscribed to for years. There are probably many, many wrestlers from the 80's that Mickey Rourke's character could have been drawn from for Rourke's Randy "the Ram" Robinson character. 

The movie is a dramatic masterpiece from what my friends tell me, is a moving film, and described in a word as "sad" by many within the business that have seem it. "Sad" doesn't denote "bad" by the way as I was sad when John Wayne's character got killed, again, in the final scene of"The Shootist", the Duke's last film before his death. 

Thanks for checking out our site and thanks for making the holiday shopping center so successful. Many of our specials are still up and we do appreciate your business. 

Enjoy Friday Night Smackdown on MyNetworkTV and don't forget to check out my weekly blog on WWE.com. Be well. 

Boomer Sooner!

J.R.          

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Comments

As for the PG.

I've been a WWE (then it was WWF) fan for 19 years now, and yes, shows are changed, indeed. But it's always been a slow gradual change over the months.

I actually don't see any major changes in WWE programming now that it's PG. Storylines are still as intringuing as they've always been and matches are still violent, a kick to the head is very violent, Y2J Vs HBK at the Great American Bash was almost disturbing, but wonderful, the Hell In A Cell at Summerslam was very violent. Randy Orton is now one of the most violent evil people I've ever seen in a WWE ring, he enjoys hurting people(it'd be pretty fun to see Randy Orton in a Tag Team with William Regal :D), it seems he enjoys hurting people more than Kane does(by the way, I like him being so psycho)! 

I'll also admit that I miss something about the Attitude, well, basically I miss Stone Cold and The Rock, but who doesn't? I also miss Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Ted DiBiase (he was the definition of S.O.B.), Jake The Snake, Bret Hart and many others; but WWE is entertainment and entertainment has to change, unless it will bore us.

Many people bitch about PG like WWE is becoming the Teletubbies or Winnie The Pooh, but as long as WWE keeps giving me a reasonable amount of spectacular violence, some comedy and deep storylines I'm happy!

I also think that less violence is not only better for the Wrestlers, but is also better for the show, less violence means that when violence will be used it will be more epic, it will have a bigger impact on the story.

At the moment my favorite story is the one involving JBL and HBK, I'm looking forward to seeing how it will evolve, it's deep, and it is a serious situation with the need of money for him and his family and the strong morals of HBK will collide while working for a reckless person like JBL. And that's not a childish storyline, actually there are not childish storylines or childish characters.

PG is the way to go, JR you told me in a Q&A, and you're right, and WWE is doing a great job in gaining new viewers while keeping its old viewers, that has to be a really challenging situation, creatively.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

First off, I want to say that I appreciate the time you and everyone else involved has put into this site.  I lived in Midwest City, OK as a kid in the 1980s, and followed Mid-South/UWF when you worked there.  My dad took me and my brother to many events at the old Myriad in OKC.  Lots of memories of that for sure.  Anyway...

The timing of Batista's hamstring tear couldn't be any worse for him, and I have my doubts about him returning quickly.  He got over real well on Smackdown! a couple of years ago when he came back after giving up the world title, so I see that happening again this time around.

DeMarco Murray's hamstring tear is unfortunate as well because he was really beginning to show how good he is at running back.  Luckily for the Sooners, they are deep at running back, but replacing Murray isn't easy.  BTW, I like the underdog role for the Sooners, too.  Also, I'm glad DeMarkus McFarland will be a Sooner!

I fully agree with you about Canada and their fans.  It's a natural reaction to jeer someone of a rival fan's team or town they're from.  I'm not sure why Americans criticize them for that when you see different heel wrestlers getting cheered at different venues every week in the U.S or vice versa for babyfaces.  It's a hypocritical statement to make when it's being done in every venue across the U.S.

The sign policy is what it is.  I'm in no position to tell someone what is appropiate or not as far as they go.  But if you bring one that's offensive, you take the risk of having it confiscated.  It's the fan's own choice to do so on that.

At any rate, keep on keepin' on!

BOOMER SOONER!

Hi JR. First and foremost, happy holidays. One of the bright spots of my holiday gifts this season was some JR's BBQ Sauce and Ketchup, along with spices, and an autographed cookbook. The relatives were extremely impressed with the site, shipping and ease of purchase.

Anyway, I think the main complaint about Canadian fans, which is what made the King coin or at least borrow the term bizzare-o-land, is that we oft. cheer for the "wrong" wrestler. In my experience, more Canadian WWE fans seem to be males who are "in-the-know" rather than just casual. Therefor, they often cheer for the performer the majority of which just plain like more, rather than buying into any specific storylines or gimmicks at the time. Two of the best examples that come to mind are when they booed The Rock at Wrestlemania X8 (who came in as the face), and I seem to recall they even booed Canadian-born Chris Benoit at Summerslam '04 when Orton won the world title. Both occurred in Toronto of course, but other Canadian cities have been guilty as well.

Anyway, love the site. Love the blog. Keep up the good work! 

"The Shortest"?  Don't you mean "The Shootist," JR?

My spell check missed it. Thanks as it has been corrected.

JR I'm definitely with you about Billy Mays.  He's loud and annoying, and he sells EVERYTHING. I honestly think he would sell feces in a box if he was paid to do so.

Jr.,

Billy Mays began his "career" (used loosely) as a Carnival barker (according to him) and was also a salesman on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

As far as the Canada "censorship" goes, i can see both sides of the coin. I don't think anyone should be ejected for a sign (unless it's REALLY bad), but in the end, since the WWE is renting the building, it is, for that specified time, their property and have the final say. I couldn't walk into a store with a sign that says "say No To Milk". If I did, as innocent as the sign may be, I would be ejected from the premises.

- Shon

Hi JR!  Glad you had a good Christmas and hope you have a fantastic New Years!

I'm with you on the Billy Mays thing.  He's annoying and loud and seems to be in about every commercial out there.  I don't think I'd go as far as to order what he's selling to shut him up though. ;)  Some of the items look interesting, but most seem to be junk that probably don't work.

I am looking forward to the shows in Omaha on January 13th.  My friend, who lives in Florida, and I are traveling there for the shows (I live in Missouri, not far from the Iowa border).  We've got our tickets (2nd row even!) and this will be my first WWE show (used to go to shows in KC but that was a long time ago and never made it to a WWF/WWE show, let alone a tv taping).  I am really excited about seeing you live, even though we won't be able to hear you in the arena.  I'll be sure to tape the shows when they air though!

Hugs!

Rowan

"If a PG rated wrestling show isn't to one's liking then they should simply change channels."

Seriously?  Could you say a more dangerous thing?  When you're in a business that depends on growing a fanbase, simply telling them "If you don't like it, leave" is just about the dumbest thing you can do.

And if the signs were directed towards anyone else besides Cena, you and the rest of the WWE would not be so upset, yeah, I said it.

It's a TV show,  period. Just as any other show on TV if one doesn't like it don't watch it. Dangerous? I don't think so. common sense? More likely. The WWE is cracking down on many signs and even things the announcers say that wold seem harmless to many of us but aren't considered that way today.

Well, first and foremost.... dele344 is a jerk... But, hey JR!! I love reading your blogs. I only have one issue with some of our canadian fans, that is the 11 year long issue that they have with Shawn Michaels.. I really think that they should get over this whole fiasco that is out-dated and legendarily old. Especially Montreal, Shawn gets booed out of the building! I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion though.

Also, I agree with this whole PG rating... I grew up with attitude.... Look at how I grew up... I am in jail for life.. lol, kidding... but do you get my flow? Vince is obviously doing this for a good reason! I happen to like this new HD Era as I call it!

Keep up the good work JR!! I have always been a fan! I am the guy from the DC Verizon Center that was yelling your name when Batista was shaking hands....

I Love Double-Double E

 Hey J.R.

Just wanted to say that without you talking up "The Wrestler," I doubt I would have heard about it, and therefore missed out on a great movie. Mickey Rourke deserves all the accolades he's getting and I really enjoyed Marisa Tomeii's performance. Also, it didn't insult my intelligence as a wrestling fan, which is something quite a bit of "wrestling" movies do.

Thanks,

JM

It was obviously wrong for the guy to judge Mick Foley like that. But it was just a mistake, the guy doesn't watch wrestling, and made a journalistic error, it happens all the time, get over it.

"Allegedly respectable" honestly did make me laugh though, So because the guy made a mistake by judging a guy that showed up to the premiere looking like a bum, the magazine loses all credibility whatsoever? I doubt you'd be so pissy about this if it were about something other than wrestling.

As for my comment earlier:

Saying "if you don't like it, leave" is common sense when you're not the face of commentary of Professional Wrestling today. 

You, who in the minds of just about every American wrestling fan including myself, happen to be the face of Professional Wrestling to them.  Thus, it is bad in terms of common sense in business.

Signs that express a fan's distaste for a wrestler, in the Toronto example: "We've Cena Nuff" aren't profane.  And if they are, please explain to me how so.

I apologize for coming off so rude, but I think the "new policy" is silly and ridiculous.

I'd have to agree with the previous commenter, "change the channel if you don't like it" seems like an unusual strategy in difficult economic times. 

But beyond that - obviously, you're right about the legality of WWE's removal of signs - it's their show and not a public space.  However, much like the constant intellectual dishonesty in criticizing Canadian fans for their refusal to let go of Montreal given how repeatedly WWE has stoked that anger over the years, WWE spent many years (with you as the spokesman) trumpeting "freedom of speech" as a core WWE value.  Constantly telling the world - hey, this is the WWE Universe where we value self expression - and then confiscating signs that are even moderately off message (personally, I think you're lucky to get any adult reaction for John Cena, who strikes me as wholly a children's character and as wildly overrated a 21st century worker as anyone not married to a McMahon) is hypocritcal.