Smackdown Moving.. Lashley speculation.. Shaq.. Sherri Remembered.. Black History Month.. Buckethead Radio Show.. Farewell OVW

Random thoughts from hither and yon…

WWE Friday Night Smackdown leaving the CW Network at the end of this season seems to be the most topical news story of the day. Smackdown will move to another network, come Fall, after being on the air approximately 10 years on network, prime time TV. It would seem to me that Smackdown would have ample suitors for the two hour program with an established, built in audience. Original, first-run programming, 51 weeks a year, is a premium commodity for any TV network. One could also assume that it is possible that Smackdown could theoretically move back to its original Thursday night slot if that’s where the negotiations took it. Bottom line, as Stone Cold Steve Austin would say, is that Smackdown will undoubtedly find a new home this Fall, while the compelling aspect of the matter is where and on what night? Yours truly actually broadcast the very first episode of Smackdown, which might be the answer to a trivia question some day. Since then, Michael Cole, if that is his real name, has admirably sat in the lead announcer’s chair and has quietly put up some damn impressive numbers as it relates to the number of episodes on which he has appeared.

News of the WWE severing its ties with Ohio Valley Wrestling was met by yours truly with mixed emotions. The WWE made a business decision to consolidate all their developmental talents under one roof, in Tampa, which makes sense. For young athletes to live in Florida isn’t all bad, as one could easily surmise. The Florida facility is apparently a bona fide, first rate operation that has been a significant investment by the WWE to make it state of the art. Nonetheless, OVW’s legacy will be that of helping to develop some of the WWE biggest stars of this generation and for that, Danny Davis and his crew, including trainer Al Snow, among others, should be commended. I have long said that the future success of the WWE largely lies in the success of their developmental program and now that responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the Florida operation. Recruiting athletic, extroverted, preferably long time wrestling fans to train to be WWE Superstars is a huge responsibility, as the actual number of individuals who make it and become main eventers is minuscule compared to the number of people that are signed. Many more people will not make it to the Promised Land than will, which mirrors other major sports and entertainment entities.

It has been reported that former WWE Superstar Bobby Lashley has signed with a representative that reps MMA competitors. This is one of the rumors making the rounds about Lashley and his future plans. Knowing that Bobby had a monstrous 2007 financially and his apparent dislike for travel and/or sports entertainment, one could assume that the MMA world might be Lashley’s calling. No one knows, but Bobby, what he wants to do with his future and the rest of us are purely speculating.

When I spoke with Shaquille O’Neal in Miami in November he indicated that he was really getting worn down after all the years of pounding his 300 pound plus frame took up and down the hardwood in the NBA and that he hoped to get two more years out of his body. Now with Shaq traded to Phoenix the huge WWE fan has likely joined the final team of his amazing career. Seeing Shaq in the ring at a major event like Wrestlemania after his NBA days have concluded would not surprise me. The big guy is a great fan and has the personality to be perfect for a “one off” appearance at the right place at the right time.

Sensational Sherri would have been 52 years old today (Friday). The member of the WWE Hall of Fame is still the most physically tough female that I have ever been around in the business, which is to take nothing away from the ladies of the 50s and 60s, many of whom were boot leather tough. I just wasn’t around them, but know that Mildred Burke, June Byers, etc were very un-Diva like in their heyday. Training with men and traveling thousands of miles a year by car made the lady wrestlers of the 50s and 60s extraordinary and Sherri was a throw back to a degree. This is not meant to “knock” today’s female performers, but comparing today’s Divas to the women wrestlers of yesteryear isn’t a fair comparison on several fronts, no pun intended.

With February being Black History Month it reminds me of just how challenging it was for African American wrestlers to make it a generation or two ago. Most of the wrestling promoters were white males and a fair amount of them unfortunately had issues with the color of a man’s skin. Regional territories even had unwritten rules as to how many blacks they would have in their territory at one time. Usually it was one and usually the black man was a fan favorite because promoters feared what their mostly white fanbase would do, IE riot, if a black villain garnered ample angst. It wasn’t until men like Ernie Ladd had the courage and conviction to be cast as a villain in the wrestling ring. White promoters also had a major hand in naming their black wrestlers and the names provided these men were stereotypes to say the least. “Pork Chop”, “BoBo”, “Sweet Brown Sugar”, “Bearcat”, “Junkyard Dog”, “Rufus R. Jones” and “Soulman” were just a few of the monikers with which African American performers were saddled. While there is still, unfortunately, racial issues that need to be addressed in our society, I can honestly say that within the wrestling business that there has been noticeable improvement in the positioning of African American performers.

The WWE Superstars just left Alaska after two events there, where the high in Anchorage was 7 degrees yesterday. Business was brisk, nonetheless, as the RAW crew is now bound for South Korea and Japan.

Oklahoma had another top ten recruiting class, ranked #5 by Rivals.com, but I am still trying to figure out how Alabama signed 33 players to letters of intent. Apparently, the Crimson Tide had many more scholarships available than anyone outside Tuscaloosa was aware. OU signed the top three high school players from the state of Texas, as well as the top two players from Oklahoma, the top player from New Mexico, and arguably the top player from New Jersey. Not a bad haul at all for the Sooners.

Yours truly made my first Friday morning appearance on the Buckethead Radio Show which you can hear live every Friday morning at 8 eastern time and/or check out the archived version at www.bucketheadradioshow.com. Friday morning we talked Wrestlemania, No Way Out, Smackdown moving to a new network, Diva cosmetic “enhancements”, and a little Bar-B-Q in our 6-8 minute segment. I will be doing this every Friday thru Wrestlemania 24.

Take a look at our special prices on selected J.R.’s Beef Jerky and if you have not tried our Bar-B-Q Sauces they are all in stock and we generally ship Federal Express Ground the day we receive your order. Plus, we have several, personal autographed copies of “J.R.’s Cookbook” available and as I have said, this is much more than just a cookbook as it has some wrestling, road stories and a bunch of top ten lists I think you will enjoy.

Thanks for checking out our site and don’t forget to read our weekly Raw Superstar of the Week column at www.wwe.com. Keep your feedback rolling our way. Thanks.

Boomer Sooner!

J.R.

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