It's good to be home after a challenging road trip smack dab in the middle of a helluva heat wave in California while producing LOTS of TV. There were plenty of weary folks on the tour by the time WWE arrived in Bakersfield on Wednesday night. We finished there by around 10:30 p.m. Pacific time and headed to LAX for my much anticipated flight to OKC on Thursday. Now here's some BBQ'ed Random Thoughts smoked low and slow...
The Smackdown/ECW locker room dynamic seems to have changed significantly over the past few weeks and especially after the big "trade" of earlier in the week. The vets are doing a good job delivering the steak while the young talents are still searching to find their personas and what it is going to take to make themselves successful.
Success in wrestling comes through wrestling aggressively and by using logic in the ring. It also, more importantly and especially in the technological age where there is seemingly an abundance of "experts," doesn't come quickly. Patience is a virtue but also is a fleeting thing in our impatient, instant gratification oriented society.
It's funny when the "vets" in today's Smackdown locker room are guys like Jericho, Edge, Punk, Jeff Hardy and Mysterio. All those guys still seem young to me but there is a distinct gap between these talents and the next wave.
As it relates to Friday Night Smackdown, it seems as if Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison are lining up to be the next talents to move up the ladder. Both are getting more opportunities to shine and are doing a nice job of producing positive results.
There is plenty of room for others to join these two, aforementioned young men and I hope that's the case.
Certainly the new talents will need time to establish their in ring personas and to overall refine their game. The announcers, especially on ECW, will have to provide the viewers will new bits of info on the rookies weekly so that the audience can get to know these talents better and hopefully make the all important some emotional investment in these newcomers. This certainly isn't a mountain that can't be climbed and is something that was done with regularity in the territory era of wrestling.
But it does take some time and it is my opinion that fans back in the day were generally more forgiving and more patient.
I can't remember a era within the business that there has been more of a need to add to the main event mix and to create new top level bouts especially on PPV. This goes along with creating new stars which one would think is logically every wrestling organization's top priority.
Wrestling is a star driven, attraction friendly entity that thrives on personal issues between people in which fans have a vested interest. This sounds like a simple equation but it isn't.
My friend Bret Hart had a birthday this week and my best wishes go out to the "Hitman." It sure seems as if one wanted to guarantee a huge turn out in markets like Calgary and Edmonton that a "Hitman" appearance would be in order if all the arrangements could be worked out. Bret is one of the all time greats and I have flash backs to many of his great bouts in WWE every time I see the "Hart Dynasty" appear on SD dressed in their pink and black attire. I look forward to seeing these three young people evolve on Friday night's and become the stars that they want to become and that WWE needs for them to become. Happy Birthday Bret and here's hoping you have many more. When we next visit, the first cold beverage will be on me.
I'm not condoning that anyone drink and drive but it sure seems as if some are making a federal case about Roddy Piper's recent arrest for an apparent DUI. Again, don't get me wrong, DUI's are serious business, but luckily there was no accident associated with this incident and no one was injured. I'm sure that Roddy feels as badly as one could feel about this embarrassing matter but everyone makes mistakes in life. I text Roddy this weekend, before the arrest for the record, and he was in amazingly, positive spirits and we largely discussed family and our health. I have great respect for Roddy Piper and I hope this issue can be resolved quickly and that history won't be repeating itself. I, too, traveled down this road many years ago and learned a valuable lesson in the process.
It's almost inevitable that UFC 100 on July 11 will produce some upsets. None of the favorites in the main events are lay-ups by any means. Many insiders feel that GSP will be challenged as never before. Lesnar is a beast and will be at his usual 280 pounds by match time and that will be a lean, cardio friendly 280 at that, but Brock certainly isn't a lock to waltz past Frank Mir. I am pulling for Lesnar and GSP but if both lose it likely won't shock those that are really joined at the hip to MMA. I am certainly not a MMA insider but merely a big fan of the genre.
The WWE Superstars have a brutal travel schedule especially those on the Raw brand as they will be flying to all their events in Australia which is challenging to say the least. Because of curfews at the airports these flights will be EARLY morning flights and generally not short hauls. The good news is that it looks as if all the Australian events will be sold out or near capacity. For those Aussie fans reading this, please don't ask if WWE is going to schedule a TV shoot or a "major" PPV in the land down under son as I don't have a clue but if forced to guess I would likely say "it's unlikely." However, I hope that I'm wrong as I have never traveled to Australia and would enjoy doing so.
The Smackdown crew gets to spend a few hours in Hawaii on the 4th of July weekend before heading to Tokyo. Sounds better on paper than it actually is as they arrive late the night before their live event which essentially gives them a few hours of possible beach time before going to work. As I reminded one competitor recently who was bemoaning the schedule, "it is the life that you chose." ( I got that line from Tony Soprano BTW.) Ironically the younger talents, in general, are looking forward to the trips abroad. Youth is a wonderful thing.
Will the next major trend in the biz be an elaborate and through scouting department that looks high and low for the next wave of prospects? The potential to earn big bucks in sports entertainment is a nice selling/recruiting point for an extroverted, skilled athlete with drive, character and a sense of entrepreneurship.
I think that you will like Friday Night Smackdown this week but, honestly, what would you expect me to say? (If it weren't as good as I hoped I likely would not mention it for the record.) I actually can't remember all the nuances of the broadcast but when we finished it I felt like we had a good night. The Punk-Hardy story in particular is really coming along nicely and at a pace that I can absorb and emotionally invest.
Talk about talent, Todd Grisham can read his GPS and text simultaneously while driving. I've seen it. Todd and I are traveling partners and he does the driving while I provide the "entertainment" via stories. We have already started talking about this year's college football season. TG is an Alabama fan and most know that my allegiance is with the Oklahoma Sooners. Duh.
I hope that before my "run" ends that I can help Todd continue to improve as I feel he has the ability to be a top flight WWE "story teller" in the years to come. We have had some great discussions regarding our profession while we are driving which I feel end up helping me as much as I hope it helps Todd.
Hopefully you will have the time and inclination to visit our store here on the site and do some ordering. If you are in the Norman area this weekend, you might consider dropping by JR'S Family BBQ at exit 109 off I35 in Norman as I plan on hanging our there before I have to head north to Connecticut on Wednesday.