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I am presently in Phoenix where Tuesday nite we will tape Friday Night Smackdown and our Superstars bout. Here's some thoughts on this past weekend in Los Angeles.
I arrived in LA at 5 pm on Saturday and headed to the downtown Sheraton Hotel which served as HQ for the weekend. After a challenging week multi tasking, I was beat when I arrived at the hotel and actually was in bed asleep Saturday night at 8:30 pm Pacific time. Of course, I had a 5 a.m. wake up call Sunday morning to be ready to roll tape at approximately 6 a.m. for the Food Network's "Dinner Impossible" program that will air, as I understand it, in November. I will keep every one posted as to the exact date. I had a great time stepping sort of out of the wrestling world and was assigned to make multiple gallons of BBQ Sauce which I did and that everyone seemed to love. The Miz was a riot on this shoot and we were also joined later in the morning by Gail Kim who sure looks nice in a kitchen and I mean that in a positive way. Stephanie McMahon and The Big Show also joined in the non kitchen festivites so WWE was well represented. Chef Robert Irvine is a hoot to work with and is a former cook with the British Royal Navy.
Then it was back to the hotel about 7 hours later to prepare to get ready to head to the Staples Center to broadcast the SD portion of Summerslam. I was worn out tby the time the PPV started but the adreneline and the 17,000 plus fans helped erase any fatigue I had once the pyro went off.
There is also always that "twinge" of competition between the other announce teams, expecially the Raw team and that always adds to the presentation. Todd Grisham is still improving daily and I would have to think that with Grisham being the competitor that he is that he will some day want to sit in the chair that I occupied for so long on Monday nights. I realize that ship has apparently sailed for me but through the coming years the competitoion between Grisham and Cole should be fun to watch. Both men are the long term future in that role for WWE and we should not discount Josh Mathews. I felt bad for the ECW guys as their evening essentially consisted of calling a 7 second bout and a subsequent beat down of ECW Champion Christian who seemingly has multiple opponents to deal with on a brand that doesn't have a long talent roster. There is no doubt in my mind that bigger days lie ahead for Matt Striker and Mathews even if Josh's distinctive shirt that he wore on Summerslam looked like a table cloth for a country picnic or a uniform from the Cracker Barrel.
From the SD perspective, I think that our bouts either delivered what was basically expected or over achieved. I realize that I am not unbiased plus I'm coming off a 22 hour day so I may be more delirious than usual.
Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler got the event off to a superb start and Ziggler once again got "this much closer" to winning the IC Title and, at the same time, continued to build upon his persona. Ziggler is a keeper and will hopefully continue to push himself to raise his personal bar of PPV performances. Rey is simply tremendous and is the most unique performer in all WWE for my BBQ dollar.
Kane vs. Khali was never going to be a Brisco-Funk classic because that's not the type of bout two, massive men have. I've seen big men have great matches with smaller men on many occasions but pairing two "monsters" together is often times challenging. BTW, Dick Weber is a famous pro bowler which was a loose reference to "bowling shoe ugly" wrestling bouts. I thought this bout was what it was going to be and not to sound like former Arizona Cardinal Football Coach Denny Green, "They were who we thought they were!!"
Chris Jericho and Big Show had a solid bout with Cryme Tyme and the Undiputed Tag Champs won as most expected. Not a bad night for Cryme Tyme either as they got in the game on a major PPV and they continue to establish themselves in the ring and continue to establish their body of work.
Jeff Hardy vs. C.M. Punk....WOW! TLC matches are all about the risks, car crashes, and "Holy S**T" moments that so many fans feed off of during these bouts that have no pinfalls,etc. As I was visiting with Todd Grisham on our way to Phoenix from LA late Sunday night, I discussed with him that wrestling bouts that eliminate pins, submissions, count outs and disqualifications make them more one dimensional and make the high risk stuff the star of the show. This match was tremendous and if you could have been sitting at ringside as we were you could not have helped but feel the angst and element of profound danger that Jeff and Punk put themselves in on multiple occasions during this World Title Bout.
I hope to see both men Tuesday night in Phoenix where both are expected to be as they were in no condition after this match Sunday in LA to want to visit with any one. Nonethless I am so proud of both men and what they did to entertain the fans in arguably the best one on one TLC match I can personally recall.
So, do I think that we've seen the last of the Jeff-Punk rivalry? I don't know for sure but I "think" not and more specifcially I "hope" not. I just have a feeling that Tuesday night in Phoenix will equate to must see TV Friday night on MyNetworkTV for Smackdown viewers.
Of course, the surprise return of The Undertaker was HUGE and seemed to add the exclamation point to what seemed to me to be a surprisingly strong Summerslam that my lovely wife thought rivaled Wrestlemania. Nothing at Summerslam could have topped the Undertaker-HBK match for me based on my long history with both me but from a female viewers standpoint I can easily see where the Mrs is coming from.
Cena vs. Orton was a scene right out of the "Wild West" and reminded me of some of the Mid South days with all the crazy goings on that lead to the RKO victory by Orton that I certainly did not see coming when I sat down at ringside.
The return of DX was memorable and their entrance with all the production values was cooler than having a 'fridge full of JR's Sauces and Ketchup. It was great to see HBK back in a WWE ring and his paring with HHH certainly brought back wonderful memories of the "glory years."
BTW today is Mr. McMahon's 64th birthday and when people have birthdays on Raw or Raw is in one's hometown....look out! I feel regarding this matter that I know of which I speak.
After Summerslam I got to meet "Slash" of Guns 'n Roses Fame who I found out is a WWE fan from way back. I also saw Tito Ortiz sitting ringside but never got the chance to congradulate him on his return to UFC.
So it's a day of recovery for Ol J.R. here in lovely Phoenix where one of my oldest pals and his family live. My buddy Charlie Wilson, not of the "Charlie Wilson's War" fame, was our headlinesman on our football crew for almost 20 seasons so we're going to renew old times and work out the details for him and his family to join Jan and me in Dallas on September 5 for the Oklahoma vs. BYU college football game. I also hear that there is a good BBQ joint in Gilbert, Arizona that we might check out.
No matter where I travel, it seems that BBQ and football are not far behind.
Thanks for stopping by and please head to our store and take advantage of some amazing offers. I will know better when this sale will end once I arrive back to Norman on Wednesday thanks to my friends at Southwest Airlines. Nonetheless these offers can't last long and your business, as I mentioned earlier, is so appreciated.