Mainstream Media Accountability Survey

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1. Would you say the mainstream media has not been not sort of mostly unfair to the party opposite the party not currently not entirely but perhaps inarguably in power?

2. Has the liberal press manipulated you from birth and forced perspectives upon you that made you so uncomfortable you’ve contemplated or even successfully committed suicide?

3. Between 1 and 63, how many of your relatives has Anderson Cooper killed?

4. Name three women in your immediate family “turned” by Rachel Maddow.

5. Please give us their phone numbers.

6. Would kissing a Slovenian giantess freak them out?

7. Are they easily distracted by strangely human grunts coming from a broom closet?

8. I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

9. On a scale of 1 to 10, would you classify the mainstream media as incompetent, unreliable and irresponsible?

10. How would you prefer to receive updates on issues of concern: my Twitter account, my personal Facebook account, or shoved up your ass?

11. Is the White House’s proposed travel ban perfect or a collective work of genius?

12. Were you aware of a poll released just yesterday that completely contradicts the one we didn’t like?

19. Whatever happened to “journalistic integrity,” huh?

20. HUH?!

13. Is fact-checking a thing of the past or were we naïve to believe it ever existed?

14. Did you see “Spotlight”?

15. Did it deserve that Best Movie Oscar or should its producers have been deported?

16. Do you think all reporters are as ugly and badly groomed as Mark Ruffalo?

17. Doesn’t he seem like someone who fancies himself a tough guy because he’s also the Incredible Hulk but doesn’t realize those are movies, not real life?

18. If the president ever fought him in a bare-knuckle brawl, how many minutes would pass before Mark Ruffalo became a subservient peon? Should the leader of the free world then in unquestioned triumph drink his blood while they both screamed like lady-boys, one in terror, the other in near-primal ecstasy?

19. According to the most recent data, Rachel McAdams is totally not sexy in that movie. What’s with the shapeless slacks and baggy tops?

20. Speaking of “Saturday Night Live,” please list the show’s worst 42-season stretches.

21. Given the choice, would you prefer Alec Baldwin go fuck himself or one or all of his worthless brothers, except for Stephen, and then himself and maybe Stephen, who I just stopped liking?

22. If you trust network and cable news, how long were you in a coma after getting hit by that train?

23. How often would you say you’ve shouted “Fake news!” at the television and awakened the dog, the only other creature in your apartment that loves you, unless you also count larvae and herpes?

24. When you and your buddies shout, “Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!” before stomping some Killary-loving apologist in a swagger-bar parking lot, do you ever catch a glimpse of Chuck’s buttocks in his moonlit corduroys and imagine how they’d feel between your anxious fingers while grinding to “Tennessee Whiskey” and whispering, “Oh, my God, this is so crazy; I just wanted a hunting partner” into each other’s necks?

25. How dead would you be by your lunch break if you participated in a drinking game requiring you to take a shot every time you argued with strangers online by telling them to educate themselves, do their own research or learn the facts?

26. In descending order, which news source do you trust the least: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, MSNBC, Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, CNN, BBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, AP, Reuters, or CNN?

26. Would you agree there are 22 questions in this survey?

27. Do YOU trust Trump?

24. What would you do to prove it?

28. Is your husband home?

29. Have you ever been on a private plane? It’s something else. All the amenities of home as you impulsively fly around the world.

30. How big is your husband’s private jet?

31. Does he treat you right?

32. Does he truly know you after all these years?

33. Isn’t it possible that he takes you for granted?

34. Could he buy you this?

35. Please, try it on.

36. What possesses you to think there’s a camera in the room?

37. Don’t you realize how pretty you are in this light?

38. Can you put this in your mouth?

37. Would you like the president inside of you?

36. Survey?

22. What survey?

 

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Gimme the Prize: Reflections on the RNC

RNC Cleveland

“I am the one, the only one,

I am the god of Kingdom Come

Gimme the prize!

Just gimme the prize!”

— Queen

Who wants to talk about the Republican National Convention? I wanna talk about the Republican National Convention. But I don’t wanna talk about the Republican National Convention, because to talk about the Republican National Convention is to acknowledge that the Republican National Convention actually happened: four days of preschool bugout, each vituperative highlight scribbled and shot for embarrassing posterity. It was like a high school reunion where everyone grew up to be, uh, embittered Republicans mired in midlife crises: This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife! Well, how did we get here?!

Ah, but we know how that happened, don’t we? The GOP’s pretended to wear such personae for years. It’s the ultimate conservative fantasy: the angry populist magnate. All Trump did was swipe the template and crank it to a Nigel Tufnel 11. He’s faking it, too, but resonating with the rabble.

His party’s only pandered to that base; Trump, however, empowered it. His central message: “Cluelessness is conviction. Believe what you want, for belief is superior to truth.” And he continues to be its living embodiment. Fact-checkers dog him — in fact, they tore his convention harangue to pieces — but his apostles care not, because his statistics sound right. And besides, they might luck out and get to shoot somebody.

As a spectacle of lunacy, the RNC barely registered as a sideshow. It was more of a toilet-sale blowout at an El Segundo junkyard. Commandeering the dais was a ceaseless procession of “Murder, She Wrote” guest stars, quacking imbeciles, sports-world zeroes, cover bands, one-shtick jabronis, ring-kissers, ankle-suckers, withered emperors, jowly groupies and future Brutuses.

This is your Republican party, folks, flown in from a 1970 Grayline bus to Reno, spiffed in newer, toothsome Solo-cup-soccer-mom skin and christened, in homage to apprentice saint Nixon, the Silent Majority. (Though if you spend any time online, you know they’re anything but silent.)

But it’s a lost, divided party, as evidenced by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who formally endorsed Trump for the nomination in words that must have tasted like an ancient Zima crawling back up his throat. During his speech, party chairman Reince Preibus spat the usual sawdust, but his eyes seemed to beg for a Flavor-Aid dunk tank.

Momentary hero Ted Cruz performed his equivalent of Sid Vicious’ “My Way” by refusing to acknowledge his ex-tormentor as future king. Unfortunately, it was just a premature salvo in his 2020 bid and not a principled stance, although he managed to steal the night’s momentum from Trump’s official benediction and up-yer-bummed it back to the cheap seats, where he’ll continue to live forever.

So the convention was less a celebration of unity than a dysfunctional family reunion, where everyone hates Uncle Donnie, but he’s rich and mean and might cut them from his will. So they endured a lot over four useless days.

Its only relief was Ivanka Trump, given the on-deck spot that final night and for once countering the convention’s madness with love. Hopefully, she escapes her father’s shadow. The candidate was less benevolent with his third wife, Melania, banishing her to Night 1 with a cribbed Michelle Obama speech and throwing her to the press. (His other kids were sprayed haphazardly into the lineup.)

Trump also invoked the wrath of Queen for swaggering out to “We Are the Champions” when “Gimme the Prize” would have been more appropriate to the event’s tenor, followed by a group singalong to “Who Wants to Live Forever,” led by the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln and John Kasich, as the Quicken Loans Arena fainted toward the Cuyahoga. It may as well have done just that after Trump’s concluding Thursday night speech: a botched litany of apocalyptic booga-booga that gave liberals hives, fact-checkers whiplash and Orwell a cheap thrill.

And then, for once, I felt for the Republican party. Because like me, all it could do for now was watch. Bye, Jumbo.

“The Daily Wrazz” at 91

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Photo by Cory Frye

Oh, you Wrazz. Ninety-one entries in and I still haven’t the foggiest as to who you are. I know I outlined a grand plan in my very first post last November, but let’s face it: neither of us have any interest in staying on course. Where’s the fun in that?

I was miserable after that limiting directive. It forced me to mutter through Twilight, for Edward’s sake, and struggle to hear past the bray of pheromones and preteen snivel only to be rewarded with a middling story about a synthetic emo brat and her asexual Nosferatu squeeze. To satisfy the “wr” in Wrazz, I made bleary-eyed plods through cyberpsace to hyperlink Chris Jericho’s WWE profile for the 600th time at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday so that wayfarers could descend upon my Raw report, stomp past the meddling text, and tug one to pictures of Kelly Kelly. I tried to be wrestling. I tried to be jazz. I tried to gobble pop music like the speed peddled under the counter at a derelict uncle’s bicycle shop. Instead, I lolled in all that lay between. Because I’m Cory Frye, and I was born to amble.

But then, I countered, a successful blog is the blog with a hook. People dig consistency. They’re especially wild about gimmicks. Julie Powell prepared dishes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking night after night for a year, and Amy Adams mowed those million-dollar tresses to portray her on the big screen. Slate editor David Plotz blogged the Bible and just signed a six-picture deal with Lionsgate to merge his resulting bestseller with the Saw franchise. Yesterday afternoon I was shopping and noticed a book by some dude who read the entire Oxford English Dictionary. These folks were inspired, of course, by Kevin Murphy’s daring A Year at the Movies, in which the erstwhile MST3K writer/puppeteer/voice actor warmed theater cushions all over the world, snarfing popcorn and a full Thanksgiving dinner while partaking of the 2000 cinematic season.

Ordinarily, I’d think that’s kind of cheating. It’s just long-form reactions to the creative toil of others. The hard work’s already been done. Which is more difficult: preparing a souffle according to a list of instructions, or coming up with and perfecting that souffle in the first place? And the dictionary? Come on.

But I’m told there’s big bucks in this kind of blogging. So I’ve spent all day, minus the six hours I wasted frantically searching for my mislaid cell phone (it was upside-down in the laundry basket, of all places), trying to find a year-long shtick with universal appeal.

My initial eureka was “I’ll travel the country, bowling in every town.” Then I realized it might not work. What made Powell and Plotz so captivating was that they approached their subjects as neophytes, whereas I have a history with bowling. Although I know little of the sport (the extent: Earl Anthony and Dick Weber weren’t too shabby), I’ve been around ten-pins since I was knee-high to a ball rack. My “aunt” Linda (my real aunt’s roommate) would babysit me between frames in alleys up and down Orange County back in the ’70s. So there’s always been something magical about that symphony of slow rumbles into pocket-clatter — and when it hits just right, the tone is unmistakable. Decisive, even.

Not only that, but because I was left-handed, Linda saw a bright future for me and my natural curve on the pro circuit. So the week I turned 11 I was down at the local center, signing up for the weekend junior league. I devoted two years of Sundays to aiming my thumb at the 1 on an imaginary clock as I sent ten-pound pearl after ten-pound pearl to its destiny. Today I bowl maybe once or twice a year, and while I have yet to break 200, I scoff at anything below 150.

So there’s no grab. All these years later, I remain average at best. Therefore, there’s no discernable arc as I evolve from hapless gutter-hugger to giant of the pine. There’s nothing to keep asses in seats as Seth Rogen, depicting me in the film adaptation, rolled to self-discovery. Besides, the greatest bowling movies have already been made: Kingpin and The Big Lebowski, both released in the late ’90s during the sport’s cultural plateau. Perhaps I could use bowling as a metaphor for America, crossing borders but never foul lines. I could document the cuisine, the Friday night flavor, the feel of a rented shoe in a foreign town. Actually, that does sound appealing. Maybe the PBA’ll offer to underwrite the whole socio-shebang, because God knows I can’t afford it.

What else could I do for a year? Send text messages to random strangers and see what relationships form from wrong numbers. Purchase the same six items at Target every day and keep track of cashier reactions. I could read all the status updates on Facebook. Feign an accent in public. Listen to the same awesome song 152 times a day and chronicle my growing disenchantment. There’s no limit to what I could do.

Or couldn’t do. That’s another possibility: deprivation. The trendy hot big now thing to do is to not do. For instance, every week at least one of my friends trumpets his/her triumphant Web exodus for an extended period so he/she can, I dunno, engage fellow bipeds in healthy social interaction or some such shit. Sadly, that would be impossible to blog in real time, so I must resort to more trivial refusals. I’ve always wanted to protest the excision of vowels in online discourse; it’d be neat to dump consonants for a while. Perhaps I’ll refuse to watch my favorite TV shows or order chili fries with my half-pound Del Taco burritos. What if I didn’t clean my whole apartment for a year? Whoops — already well into that experiment:

[PHOTO REMOVED BY WORDPRESS AT THE BEHEST OF A CIVILIZED PEOPLE.]

Anyone else have ideas? If not, I’ll be down at the alley, honing my natural curve.

“Monday Night Raw” Post-Mortem

Monday Night Raw
Monday, July 13
Orlando, FL

“TIME TO PLAY THE GAME!” phlegms Lemmy Kilmister as Motorhead lurch through another royalty check in the thud ‘n’ gloom-chowder of Triple H’s entrance music. But it ain’t game time just yet; Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s got something to get off his Greenwich-educated chest. “Wow!” he exclaims as all of Orlando dribbles a red carpet for his grizzled majesty.

If they thought the sight of a wrestler at a wrestling event was exciting, he had even bigger news: Hold onto those Disney World wifebeaters, ’cause tonight’s guest host, unlike emcees of previous weeks, is an actual Hollywood celebrity: the star of Woody Allen’s Radio Days, Seth Green! “I am thrilled beyond imagination,” hiccoughs the carrot-topped delight, hawking the impending return of his stop-mo cathode brainchild, Robot Chicken, which stars in its season premiere, of all people, Triple H himself! Orlando and all of us in TV Heaven are treated to a sneak peek of an uproarious sequence featuring the grappler’s clay doppelganger locking adobe with child star Dakota Fanning.

But it’s about to get funnier when Green disparages world heavyweight champion Randy Orton as a “whiny little girl,” which doesn’t sit well with the stewing belt slinger, who fumes ringward to confront his tormentors. He scoffs contemptuously at this tiny Tinseltown interloper and accuses him of cowardice. Thus goaded, Seth, in addition to masterminding a 6-Diva Summer Swimsuit Spectacular, books a clash of wills between Orton and his thugs of choice (the Legacy duo of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase XVII) and his own team of Triple H and John Cena. It’s a three-way gimmick for the ages. Don’t do it, Seth!

6-Diva Summer Swimsuit Spectacular
Kelly Kelly/Gail Kim/Mickie James vs. Rosa Mendes/Alicia Fox/Maryse
We’re off to a cocoa-buttered start with the tight-fitting pinkness hugging the blessed curves of one Kelly Kelly. Luckily, the girls travel with their best expensive frillies for just such a brainstorm — the machinations of an impulsive horndog guest host. Gail Kim and Rosa Mendes are especially incensed at each other for wearing the same color (retinae-deadening white). All the shapely hues of velour and fringe cascade and collide until only the vinyl-coiled person of Maryse remains with her sworn arch-nemesis, Mickie James. Despite her evasions over the past few weeks, Maryse ably tosses her foe about the canvas until finally tucking her in.

Winner: Rosa Mendes/Alicia Fox/Maryse

Backstage, Seth recovers from his confrontation with Orton by contending with the demands of Unified Tag Team co-champion Chris Jericho, who is currently adrift as his partner Edge recuperates from a real-life ruptured Achilles tendon — and prefers it that way! Jericho regards Green with bourgeois disgust over his curled lip but allows the actor/comedian to plug his Robot Chicken DVD and bus tour. After all, everyone’s a showman here. Bills paid, Jericho bats him with a few more condescending nouns: drone, parasite. Green orders him to skedaddle before reaching rapscallion or pustule. Immune to the guest host’s omniscience, Y2J sticks around.

Primo vs. The Miz
America’s celebrated its independence all this month, but Primo’s got no reason to hail his separation from brother/partner Carlito, who got sick of losing and nulled the union physically last week. Primo demands an explanation, satisfaction, but none is forthcoming. He’s first beseiged by the preening Miz, then Carlito finally saunters toward the ring as strategic distraction. It works. The Miz takes advantage and plants Primo like a petunia. Miz takes his smug leave, then Carlito leaps in to spit apple shards into his fallen brother’s face.

Winner: The Miz

From Apple Jacks to Lucky Charms — the leprechaun pixie Hornswoggle is understandably nervous about his match with Chavo Guerrero, but Seth assures the vibra-mite that his taller opponent won’t have any distinct advantage, since he’ll have an arm lashed behind his back. The ecstatic Hornswoggle heel-clicks back to his rainbow as that giant hamhock Big Show trundles into frame with his best Dr. Evil.

MVP vs. Jack Swagger
Last week MVP humiliated the all-American Swagger on the former’s VIP Lounge segment, and the latter’s down for revenge. Swagger, of course, is a twist on the unimpeachable Jack Armstrong, a cultural figure no wrestling fan under 86 remembers: a Wheaties-shitting representative of the master race, updated here with a fistful of mousse. MVP goes street as punctuation, responding to flurry of legit wrestling manuevers with an old-fashioned bitchslap. Swagger loses his composure and folds the straight-baller into a power bomb for the win.

Winner: Jack Swagger

“BREAK THE WALL!” demands Chris Jericho’s welcome-mat strut, but tonight he’s gonna wish he had an entire bricklayers union at his disposal. He enters the ring dressed for business, not for business, informing the unscrubbed dolts spitting raspberries all over his tailored suit that he’s in the market for a new partner now that his old one’s proven unsuited to the rigors of hanging with Y2J. His soft-sell is interrupted by Mark Henry, the World’s Strongest Man, who makes sure his arrogant quarry is locked safely in his embrace before confessing, “I didn’t come out here to be your partner.” He then peels man from suit into a facsimile of ring-appropriate attire, inspiring Seth to declare it an official, sanctioned match. (Oh, shoot: Chris Jericho vs. Mark Henry!). J doesn’t stick around to see how it ends, although the various takeoffs and landings he endures before escaping offer valuable insight.

Winner: Mark Henry (by countout)

Hornswoggle vs. Chavo Guerrero
Poor Chavo — he’s replaced Santino as WWE’s resident hapless heel. Not only is he forced to stagger (not swagger) one-armed around a ring, his suplex attempt is somehow reversed by a man with gumdrops for legs.

Winner: Hornswoggle

Off in the locker room, Randy Orton congratulates henchman Ted DiBiase for thwarting Ted DiBiase Sr.’s attempt to dissolve the Legacy gang with a stinging rebuke across the paterfamilias kisser. Cody Rhodes drops by with some scuttlebutt about next week’s guest host, reportedly his father, Dusty Rhodes. Orton talks strategy for the main event. “Whatever you do,” he warns, “don’t touch Seth Green,” adding ominously, “I’m gonna take him out personally.”

Evan Bourne vs. The Big Show
U.S. Champion Kofi Kingston gossips ringside as the Big Show swats at an airborne gnat for ten minutes. “Stay out of the way” is the thrust of Kingston’s advice, which isn’t very effective considering the size of both the ring and the caged beast within. Evan’s like a stray cat trapped in an alley as a skyscraper closes in. He attempts a desperate missile kick from the top rope but succeeds only in chiseling a dimple into the Big Show’s chin. Riled, the giant bends him into a Colossal Clutch. Evan manages one last scream before he’s separated from his torso.

Winner: The Big Show (submission)

Hey, it’s Santino! He bravely clashes with the Iron Sheik, mercilessly dispatching the legend and winning the affections of Trish Stratus. The only problem is she’s plastic, and so is he. It’s just action-figure make-believe, Santino’s audition for Robot Chicken. Seth Green seems unimpressed — until his partners amble in to prepare him for the grand finale. John Cena and Triple H bicker over who gets to protect his scrawny hide (hell, even Kevin Connolly kicked his ass on Entourage!) before they both concede he’s dead meat anyway, making it a moot point. Which means he’ll be perfect for next week’s Raw barbecue hosted by Dusty Hill (not Rhodes) and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top! Turnbuckle fuzz!

Cody Rhodes/TedDiBiase/Randy Orton vs. Seth Green/Triple H/John Cena
Seth’s got legs and he knows how to use them, but he keeps them on lockdown for much of the match. He may have entered cockily to Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” but Ma Green raised no fools. He isn’t tagged until Cody Rhodes has been pickled comatose and restrained by Cena. Seth raps the dizzy Rhodes in the jaw and gets chased in circles for his troubles. Cena’s tagged back in and immediately thrashed into groggy comeback mode, requiring a Triple H cooldown to stave the orgasm. Pandemonium ensues with fists brushing every corner of the flatscreen until only Orton and Triple H remain in the ring. The Legend Killer games the Game into an RKO, but Seth stops the three-count with a textbook cheap drop, turning Orton’s snake eyes salsa with rage. He attempts to punt Seth back to his Can’t Hardly Wait salary, but is thwarted by Cena, who in turn is pounded again into manburger. In an eyeblink the ring turns into a furniture store manned by some rather aggressive salesmen until Triple H clears everyone out with an implement he swiped from the toolshed. He swings with gusto like he’s laying a railroad through the arena, even tapping Cena in the breadbasket for good measure. But before the two can dissolve into blows, Seth emerges, the perfect Hollywood ending. Fade, cut, print.

Winners: Seth Green/Triple H/John Cena

“Monday Night Raw” Post-Mortem

Monday Night Raw
Monday, June 29
San Jose, CA

Do you know the way to San Jose? I’ve been away so long, but now I’m back, and I think I remember the way. Fret not, true believers: I’ve kept a watchful weekly eye on the WWE since last I scratched in, what, December? Jesus.

So I was on hand two weeks ago when Donald Trump seized control of the program, resulting in what the late Gorilla Monsoon (rest his lovely soul) would’ve termed a bedlam, a boondoggle, “total pandemonium.” Last Monday the Donald, resplendent in Gary Hart‘s discarded scalp, stripped the program of commercial breaks (commentators Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole snuck huzzahs for Kentucky Grilled Chicken anyway — fight the power!) and sent the packed arena home with a refund. Ex-chairman Vince McMahon, his easy-street retirement cut short, was forced to reclaim the reins from the draconian entrepreneur at a considerable financial loss, in order to restore the brand to its former snake-oil glory.

Tonight was McMahon’s first night back in the driver’s seat, and he bathed in Californian ire by refusing to give the bronzed throng its money back. (The Long Tail is obviously not among his volumes.) Enough with the gimmicks, the capitalist swine harrumphs before admitting that he admired one well enough to implement it that very night: the weekly guest host. Vince has a lot of celebrity pull, but why aim high when you can pluck one of your own: the injured Dave Batista, who has at least three outstanding beefs to settle — one in particular most paramount.

Batista busts down the ramp to his usual pomp, his left arm locked in a brace, the rest of him coiled tight in a business suit, a smart grey tie hanging from his truck-thick neck. He’s midway into his first public address since Randy Orton and the Legacy duo of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase stomped his mucus loose a few weeks agoi and put him in intensive care when said trio menace down the ramp looking to start shit anew. Orton, through a mouthful of Southern viper marbles: “Yuh shouldn’t have come back, Batista. What do you think is stopping the three of us from marching into this ring and tearing the rest of you apart?” Good question. Batista supposes it’s the absolute power Vince grants guest hosts. (You listening, Lorne Michaels?) “I can make your life a living nightmare,” he expounds.

Orton snivels in petulance, moaning exposition about his near-death experience with Triple H in a Three Stages of Hell match at this past weekend’s Bash. The immaculately attired guest host reprimands Orton for whining and hints at a distressing Raw fate for the WWE champ: a 3 on 1 Gauntlet endurance test with hand-picked opponents whose identities must remain secret to keep viewers from changing the channel. But, Batista adds, they’re three of 15 superstars acquired in some backroom deal struck before Trump’s departure. Oh, that dastardly Don!

Night of Champions Tournament Semi-Final
MVP vs. Triple H
Orton won’t be defending his title tonight, but he will at Night of Champions on July 26 against the winner of this mini-tournament. The night begins with the collision of alphabets. MVP, called up in a recent draft to make waves on the Monday program, is recovering from a whirlwind weekend with rumored paramour Sherri Shepherd (The View) and a host of Tinseltown glitterati at Sunday night’s BET Awards. Triple H is recovering from something far less glamorous: a leg injury suffered in two grueling face-offs with Orton over the last week. Naturally, MVP focuses with some precision on the sore spot and slithers out of two HHH attempts to floor him with his Pedigree finishing move. The flashier grappler errs, however, when he tries to apply his own match-ending Playmaker. He gets played instead when the grizzled hobbling mess drops a successful Pedigree to put MVP in California Dreamland.

Winner: Triple H

Unified Tag Team Championship
Edge/Chris Jericho vs. Carlito/Primo
Hmmmm. Two major SmackDown heels with enough heat for a Towering Inferno reboot wrest the title through nefarious means from its cooled-off protectors, who instantly invoke their rematch clause. Wonder who’s doomed? I didn’t either. Jericho, as always, is in top linguistic form, showering San Jose in cowflop bouquets, boasting of his prodigious prowess and chiding the gathered’s status as mindless human sludge. Y2J+9 spends much of the match leveling the ex-belt-holders with his dog-eared Roget’s; Edge stands behind the ropes, snarling at anything in his periphery. After a distracted ref misses an obvious three-count, thus robbing Carlito of a stunner over Edge (Jericho shoves him off before that third zebra slap), the incensed apple-spitter goes for a more definitive finisher but ends up slipping on the ropes after a flailing Primo accidentally shakes them. The dazed, wronged Carlito is left helpless to an Edge spear and is knocked flat for the 1-2-3.

Winners: Edge/Chris Jericho

Night of Champions Semi-Final
John Cena vs. The Miz
Cena‘s been positioned in this ongoing angle as a dues-paying ham-and-egger swatting at the youthful, impatient reality-TV bluster-flash of The Miz, who’s been a particular hue-licked thorn in Cena’s side for weeks with his shenanigans, skedaddles, evasions, and cheap shots. Miz doesn’t indulge in much of those tonight. Instead, his attack is methodical and for the most part successful. His capper is a vice-like sleeper that involves a debilitating upright-leg-lock-thigh-squeeze breath-trapper. But rather than tumble into his own dizzy drool, Cena recovers for his “You Can’t See Me” five-knuckle shuffle and an FTF submission hold. The Miz abandons his fruitless quest for salvation and taps out.

Winner: John Cena (Cena will face Triple H on next week’s Raw, a match-up the strangely forgetful Lawler hails as the greatest in history.)

We return to the locker-room plot where Legacy continues to placate the queasy Orton. DiBiase offers salve in the form of a phone conversation with his father, the Million Dollar Man, one of the greatest villains in WWE history (right, Jer?), who is scheduled to guest-host the program next Monday. Happs days are back for reptile-lovers everywhere!

Fatal 4-Way Diva Match
Mickie James vs. Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix vs. Rosa Mendes
It’s too bad Raw don’t broadcast on Cinemax, ho ho. An enhanced quartet vie for the pleasure of tangling with the bleached chanteuse Divas champion Maryse at Night of Champions. Rosa is her usual ineffective self, applauding like a goon whenever Phoenix adds to someone’s medical expenses. Mickie locks horns with gal pal Kelly Kelly — it’s vicious vicious! At one point everyone gets everyone in a chin lock before Beth dominos all three into a turnbuckle. Ass-over-tip pin attempts aplenty, two-counts all around. Mickie finally breaks the pattern by focusing on poor Rosa, silencing her with a DDT and planting her to bloom sometime this autumn. The unconscious Rosa is likely in a better place anyway, where her idol follows every grunt and grit with the sweetest kiss. Maryse may entertain similar fantasies about Kelly Kelly. Sadly, she’ll have to settle for…

Winner: Mickie James

The Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston
Interesting entrance music for both competitors, don’tchathink? The seven-foot Show gets a deep-throated honky tonk chortle perfect for swaggering through a Brobdignagian bar. “I AM CHAMPION!” barks a Vocoder on Kofi‘s island lilt, and this is one instance where it’s true as hell. He’s got the gold draped over a shoulder, sparkling into a wary eye shrouded in Show’s imposing shadow. In this case, the mountain comes to Kofi. “This guy could bench-press a Volkswagen!” enthuses the excitable Lawler, King of Wrestling. The smaller man’s acrobatic agility, naturally, is no match for a whole lumberyard, but somehow Kofi fells the Big Show without the aid of claymores and a police car. When he goes for the pin, Show shoves him toward the rafters like a volleyball. Eventually, the action moves outside the ring with the usual announcer’s-table thrashings. Show attempts to launch Kingston back into play, but the champion wriggles free and leans the mighty oak into a ringside post. Meanwhile, the ref counts down. Neither man returns in time.

Winner: Double countout. Show exits, disgusted.

3 on 1 Gauntlet Match
Orton moves slowly, methodically toward the ring, his calculating mind reeling from the sheer number of possible opponents in the wrestling pool. What torture does Dave Batista have in mind? Well…

1. Evan Bourne
Wow. Wasn’t expecting that. Orton appears relieved at this tiny little hurdle. Looks, of course, are deceiving; Bourne is a high-flying dynamo who regards all the world’s inhabitants as potential trapezes. Evan’s downfall comes when he gets a little greedy with his momentum. An attempted Air Bourne goes awry and Orton secures a pinfall with a Flying Bulldog. Bourne is unceremoniously scraped from the canvas and removed posthaste.

Winner: Randy Orton

2. Jack Swagger
This one’s not all that shocking, but Swagger‘s a formidable opponent nonetheless. In any case, it’s interesting to watch two narcissists go head-to-head. Swagger first stuns Orton physically then mentally as he leaves the ring and stands defiant, smirking on the apron as the referee counts him out. Before he splits, Swagger explains to the bewildered masses, “I wanted to leave a lasting impression.”

Winner: Randy Orton

3. Mark Henry
Aha! But also not that wild. Henry enters with a microphone and informs his creaky, dazed dinner that he wants to make an impression too, mostly of Randy in the earth’s surface. Like Swagger he steps out of the ring as well but is only fucking with his prey cat/mouse-style as he stops the ref at the count of five and re-enters the dragon. Orton drops to his knees and Henry graciously helps him up with a choke hold. Orton’s only defense is a weak slap; Henry retorts with a headbutt and the devastation of a World’s Strongest Slam. Somewhere Orton is still burrowing against his will toward China. Hope he lands near an airport.

Winner: Mark Henry

Raw ends with a satisfied Dave Batista surveying the wreckage of his most despised adversary. It’s nice to see the man smiling again. And now I smile too, because I’m back in action with a fresh bag of stretched adverbs. G’night!

“Monday Night Raw” Post-Mortem

Monday Night Raw
Monday, January 12
Sioux City, IA

Well, hello, blog. Long time, no see. Wednesday, was it? My apologies. But I’m back, delivering but one of many shocks this evening! Zow! Zag!

But first, some fun facts about Sioux City (pronounced soo-suddy), Iowa: eggs, biscuits, soup, cheese — whoops, that’s my shopping list. Which is just as well, ’cause Sioux City isn’t all that interesting save for one important exception: Monday Night Raw has leased the local abandoned Kmart for a sweaty soiree tonight. Welcome! Yeah!

It’s two hours of gasps aplenty, though you wouldn’t know it from the prologue, with Shawn Michaels in economic anguish as John Bradshaw Layfield lays out his grand scheme for the upcoming Royal Rumble, beginning with Michaels’ toe-to-toe tango with heavyweight champ John Cena tonight. “You’re not fighting for a title,” JBL explains to the heartbroken Heartbreak Kid, “you’re fighting for a paycheck. You can consider this your Wrestlemania.” How much longer will Michaels accept this humiliation?

Speaking of humiliation, let’s go live to Raw general manager Stephanie McMahon and her bug-light zzzt! delivered to smuggo Chris Jericho, who spits up one “hypocrite” too many in his public harangue of the boss’ daughter. The big news is that Vince McMahon‘s returning to the (deep breath) LONGESTRUNNINGEPISODICPROGRAMINTELEVISIONHISTORY (exhale) next Monday, a day upon which, according to Jericho, all wrongs will be righted. The formal complaint he’d filed the week before will finally be considered, the proper action finally taken. Stephanie will tumble down the corporate ladder as Y2J’s stature and influence continues to grow. Jericho’s growing right now, in fact, his chest expanding in gaseous righteousness, his countenance swelling to an ungodly size. What he doesn’t count on is Stephanie’s possession of an icepick in the form of two words made legendary by her father, then Donald Trump, and, finally, to zealous Taco Bell managers across the Pacific Northwest: “You’re fired!”

Ouch! Oh, Chris, these ain’t exactly the most ideal economic conditions for your thick-headed pride. Shock 1 tortures the Great Wall as security escorts him from the venue. I hope he doesn’t have to get a job in town. See that cat scrubbing potatoes off your Mighty Mite Platter, son? Why, that’s Chris Jericho. He used to be somebody, till that fateful night two weeks before the 2008 Royal Rumble. Drop a quarter in the juke,  boy. Punch up B7, and I’ll tell you a story of hubris and heartache.

The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio
Shock 2: For the first night in I dunno how many weeks, Mysterio‘s 619 actually works as a finishing move. As usual, Mike Knox rumbles from the earth’s core to crush the tiny dynamo, but the Lilliputian by way of San Diego ain’t hearin’ it from hirsute bullies tonight, delivering Shock 3 in a sudden ability to drop the human brickhouse to its moss-laden knees. All Knox can do is retreat and glare as Rey vanishes in a perfect storm of adulation.

Winner: Rey Mysterio

Intercontinental Championship, Part II
CM Punk vs. William Regal
Faithful viewers will recall last week’s shenanigans, when Regal retained his title by purposely disqualifying himself. He lost the match but kept the belt. Stephanie interrupted his creep-away by demanding he defend it this week under a new stipulation: He could not weasel loose with a DQ again. Tonight Regal trades rodent’s skin for a fox coat as he treads lightly with Punk to avoid any notion of reptilian behavior. He sees his chance when the ref is out of skeptical range, really selling a Punk blow to the tummy. The ref accuses the challenger of hitting below the belt and disqualifies him. The bell peals; Regal escapes with Shock 4.

Winner: William Regal (DQ)

Backstage, Mickie James and Cody Rhodes gab about the snow when a human blizzard sweeps past, carrying the dejected Sim Snuka and Manu, late of Randy Orton‘s Legacy goon squad. The duo want revenge, informing Rhodes that Orton faces retribution tonight — they’re gonna slap the ink right off his tattoos and make him cry. To ensure their success, they’ve enlisted a mysterious third party, ” a second generation, just like us.” Who could it be? Ted DiBiase Jr.? Goldust? One of the long lost Flairs? Personally, I wish it were Liam Neeson in Taken:

Shock 5: Stephanie McMahon’s fed up with Regal’s antics and orders the Intercontinental Champion to face Punk again, this time in a No Disqualification contest. Isn’t that what she should’ve done in the first place? Of course not. See, Raw‘s broadcasting live next week from Punk’s hometown. Boffo gate, baby. Shrewd! (And bad news for Regal.)

Off in the locker room Shawn Michaels carries the world’s burden on his grizzled shoulders. Not only does he have to worry about John Cena, but what’s poor Chris Jericho gonna do now? “Don’t worry about Chris,” JBL assures him. “He saved his money.” Michaels must focus tonight, to set up his boss for Royal Rumble glory.

Kane vs. Randy Orton
Orton’s accompanied by a very preoccupied Rhodes, who keeps a watchful eye on every corner of the arena for foreign blurs and shadows. He’s got a lot on his mind too: Does he betray his new keeper or fight by his side? Orton’s got his own problem: a pissed-off slab of man who sees him like a pit bull sees a Frisbee. Both men counter each other’s finishers, and it seems like Kane‘s got it wrapped up as he clambers to the top rope to spread his victim across the canvas like so much Play-Doh. Instead, Orton boots him in the tummy, loosing all the cadavers Kane devours with a tall glass of formaldehyde before each match, and pins the big man for the win. Or, actually, he doesn’t. The instant replay shows him clearly raising his shoulder before the dead-man three. He follows the ref down the corridor to protest or maybe slurp up his lungs.

As promised, Manu and Snuka materialize to make good on their threat. They also reveal the identity of their third man: Ted DiBiase Jr., whom Orton had RKO’d a month or so ago right onto the injured list (DiBiase was actually filming a movie). The trio advances, and when Rhodes steps into the ring, it looks like the Legend Killer is boxed-in doomed. That is, until Shock 6 reveals itself. DiBiase suddenly switches sides and joins Orton and Rhodes in a monumental thrashing of their banished partners. The Legacy faction is fractured, but somehow stronger than ever. And Priceless is back, presumably to reclaim the tag-team title.

Winner: Randy Orton, all the way around

Beth Phoenix/Jillian vs. Kelly Kelly/Melina
Mercifully, this one never makes it to the ring. Mercifully, Jillian doesn’t know the Iowa state song. As Melina struts down the runway, a figure in black explodes from the gallery to flail and wail on the Californian beauty. It’s Phoenix super-fan Rosa Mendez, again, incognito in hat and shades. Security drags her off as Jillian and Beth take advantage of Shock 7’s diversion to continue clobbering their babyface quarry.

Winner: N/A

On a more celebratory note, Orton congratulates Rhodes and DiBiase for their loyalty and performance — the most gracious he’s been in months — but adds ominously that come Rumble time, it’s every man for himself. Elsewhere a line of second-stringers (Jamie Noble, Dolph Ziggler, Cryme Tyme, and Goldust) waits outside Stephanie’s office to audition for the upcoming 30-man extravaganza. Santino Marella emerges triumphant and dogs the hopefuls. Ziggler introduces himself to Noble, whose face gnarls in disgust.

Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena
JBL’s limo sputters toward the ring and coughs up master and servant. Michaels mopes toward the ring as his peppy theme cries out, “I’m just a sexy boy!” The Heartbreak Kid looks anything but cocky and desirable tonight. The gracious Cena offers his hand in a display of sportsmanship. Michaels approaches it like it’s a barely caged tiger, but shakes it heartily.

It’s a vigorous, rigorous battle, kids, one for the books. There are submission moves aplenty: Michaels ensnares Cena in both the Figure 4 and crossface, the latter twice. Both men even deliver their finishers. Cena fans past his jaw with the trademarked “You Can’t See Me” swipe, then looses the Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Michaels counters with a DDT. No pin attempt is successful. Later, Cena avoids HBK’s deadly Sweet Chin Music and executes an FU. No dice. But Michaels does eventually land his patented puss-kick; unfortunately, Cena’s got too much fortitude to buckle under the 1-2-3. Another submission ploy, this time deployed by the champ, is stymied when Michaels reaches the ropes with some barely discernible assistance from his ringside supervisor. Finally, battered by fatigue and expectations, Michaels launches another Sweet Chin Music, mops the champ’s chops in just the right spot, and Cena hits the ground like a big, beefy fir, this time for keeps.

Winner: Shawn Michaels

Shocking! Zap y’all next week.

“Monday Night Raw” Post-Mortem

Monday Night Raw
Monday, January 5
New Orleans, LA

Well, helloooo, grapplehounds. Sorry I missed our rendezvous last week, but my Internet was down TWO WHOLE DAYS (dunno what happened — kept getting “page load error” messages, then ultimately no acknowledgment that I’d ever installed the Webster in the first place) and was so depressed I forgot the rasslin’ and cheered myself up with Anaconda on demand. What’s not to like: Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez insisting on white apparel while surrounded by water on all sides and a monstrous python slurpin’ on a then-unknown Owen Wilson and upchucking Oscar winner Jon Voight — too much ham, I suppose. Wink. For my betrayal, I apologize.

Think I’m mostly up to speed now. Tonight begins with sepia-licked footage of Shawn Michaels“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” spiel from Armageddon as set-up, then leaps into last week’s Raw (unseen by me) and a fatal four-way between Michaels, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and John Bradshaw Layfield to determine who faces John Cena for the heavyweight championship at the January 25 Royal Rumble. The Heartbreak Kid eliminated Jericho and Orton, leaving only the chump who signs his checks. Like any good employee who knows he’s about to be downsized, Michaels drops to his knees and allows Layfield to flatten him with a Clothesline from Hell (are you as tired as me of everything being from hell?). So, yeah, yup, OK.

Off we go live, to the Big Easy, where Jericho and Orton await in a ring flanked by Cajuns and po’ boys (including Michaels). They’re not happy with HBK’s shenanigans last week and have submitted a formal protest to general manager Stephanie McMahon, with the stipulation that JBL be disqualified from Rumble competition and that the title never be raised in triumph by Michaels again. Layfield’s limo coasts into the arena and out steps Michaels, his tormented ponytail hangin’ high. Boss man follows and speaks for both in the squared circle. Jericho burrows into Shawn’s shaky resolve. Orton, never one to pirouette prettily with his words, calls him a sellout. Stephanie McMahon, sashaying front-office diabolically in her denim McMini, intercedes to slip another scuffle onto tonight’s card: Orton and Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels and that beloved integrity tester, John Cena. The champ is here! Will Sexy Boy follow his principles or his marching orders? Gotta wait for the main event.

Goldust/Melina vs. Santino Marella/Beth Phoenix
Santino‘s beard is progressing smashingly, a budding forest he’s cultivating in deference to his favorite band, Fleet Foxes. Speaking of foxes, Phoenix booster Rosa Perez is in the house, happily waving her markered-up sign. Poor Goldust is relegated to Melina‘s mixed tag-team partner, and he bows out early, dragging Santino off to let the catfight commence proper. Yelps scamper down Bourbon Street as the womenfolk duke up and smack down. Finally, Melina somersaults over a prone Beth and yanks her legs in for the pinfall. Across the country, 14-year-old boys wet themselves.

Winners: Goldust/Melina

Post-match, Perez breaks the fourth wall, apparently for the second time in as many weeks, to bypass absent security and pummel Melina for humiliating her heroine. She’s escorted back to the masses, but Melina follows and a scuffle throbs anew. It’s broken up as Perez is dragged to the WWE payroll department and Melina’s hips tell the truth all the way back to the locker room.

Intercontinental Championship
CM Punk vs. William Regal
Oh, that Blighty viper. On what should have been Punk‘s special day, Regal made certain the event was anticlimactic for everyone. First he dodged a Punk leap by shoving his valet, Layla, into his opponent’s path — the straight-edge Punk’s too pure to boot the ladies. Then, as Punk tried to execute his Go to Sleep finisher, Regal first panickedly grabbed at the ropes, then at the referee, a verboten tactic according to WWE regulations. Layla barks, “Ring the bell!” and ding ding ding! Punk wins by disqualification, but Regal exits with his title intact. An enraged McMahon reads the sneaky Brit the riot act via JumboTron, demanding he defend the title again next week. DQ will not be an option, unless Layla’s partial to Peanut Buster (or Bluster, in Regal’s case) Parfaits.

Winner: CM Punk

Backstage, JBL yammers at Michaels about the opportunity they’ve been handed to annihilate the champ before the Rumble and practically guarantee Layfield the belt he so covets. “I hired you, Mr. Wrestlemania,” he tells his manservant, “to get me to Wrestlemania.” Heavy hangs the head of the bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Orton’s in the middle of a pep talk with two of his charges, Cody Rhodes and Sim Snuka, when the street-clothed Manu appears to beg for another chance after his loss last week. (Fill me in!) Fearless, Peerless Leader snorts that Team Legacy has no room for losers. Manu is left to simmer.

Rey Mysterio/Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz/John Morrison
All tag-team matches follow the same basic formula: one dude is usually stranded in the ring too long and makes a big, anguished show out of trying to reach his corner. Then, when he succeeds, his partner blasts in and flattens anyone fool enough to lock his gaze. It’s a wrestling tradition, and tonight is no different, with Kofi Kingston literally pining for Rey, waving at the little man in pain as The Miz and Morrison twist him into knots. But eventually, babyflesh face makes contact and in spins Rey. So much transpires I can’t keep track, but when the ink dries and the tumult dies, it’s Mysterio vs. Morrison. The former whips a 619 on the latter, a usually debilitating move. But, no, Morrison appears to be immune tonight, and his foot caves Rey’s breadbasket as the acrobat falls from the sky. Winded, he’s an easy pin.

Winners: The Miz/John Morrison

After his loss, Mysterio faces the relentless wrath of Mike Knox, who’d eaten My Morning Jacket that afternoon and pasted all their beards to his chinny chin chin. Poor Rey!

Kelly Kelly vs. Jillian
Last week we learned (well, you did) that Double-Kel was protecting Randy Orton from Kane (As the World Turnbuckles), thanks to a WWE cameraman well trained in the dramatic reveal. Nothing revealed tonight; it’s the same ol’: Kelly’s still a stiff performer, Jillian still sings pooch-deafening standards through her nose, and she still does not shut up even after the bell rings. Kelly mercifully seals her open trench with her own body for the win.

Winner: Kelly Kelly

Adopting Knox’s strategy, Jillian exercises her sore-loser clause but slips out as the arena goes dark and Kane stomps in under a blood-red sky to inform his wholesome beloved that Orton’s in deep next week. With a diabolical gut-cackle, he returns to his backstage sanctum to torture weasels.

Cody Rhodes/Sim Snuka vs. Cryme Tyme
This time it’s JTG who can’t reach his corner. Notice the “bad guys” seldom have this problem. The usual frenzy ensues, with bodies and baggy jeans flying everywhere. Snuka gets a few backhanded licks in, but it’s Rhodes who rolls up the V.

Winners: Cody Rhodes/Sim Snuka

Also victorious: JBL, strutting from McMahon’s office.

Less victorious: Sim Snuka, dismissed from Legacy for not being the cat getting fanned by the ref’s three-count. Rhodes won’t back him up. “All I know is I won the match,” he shrugs as he walks off. More simmering, this time with the electric eyes of Superfly.

No longer behind closed doors, Stephanie informs Santino and Beth that Rosa Perez has been banned from WWE events. Santino still lives under the delusion that it’s he Perez adores; Beth clutches the scruff of his neck and hauls him away for rehabilitation. Once they’re gone, Jericho slides into frame with a bombshell behind his lips. Apparently, his interoffice memo blew onto the desk of Stephanie’s father, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who’s slated for a Raw return in two weeks, perhaps to wrest control of the show from his legendarily petulant daughter.

John Cena/Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton/Chris Jericho
Welcome to the main event. How ya been? The question on everyone’s mind is “Will Shawn somehow betray Cena?” Shawn’s blank expression betrays nothing. Cena tries to attract his attention, but his partner seems to be longing for the snack bar.

The answer comes somewhat early as HBK tags himself in and he and Cena combine for a double clotheslines on Chris Jericho, prompting the ten-gallon CEO’s mosey toward the ring for an employee evaluation. Later, Cena attempts his usual FU on Jericho, but the snake slithers out. Orton rakes those champion eyes, blinding him temporarily and turning him into Marc Singer in If You Could See What I Hear. He mistakenly lifts his own partner into the FU; luckily, Michaels wriggles free and diplomatically sets him straight. Whew!

Some sleepers are applied, but, fuck, man, they never work; they just gobble up TV time. I write the following phrase four times, so you know it’s urgent: “Cena needs to make the tag.” He crawls, he yearns, he stretches. Finally, the WWE Lord hears his plea and makes his arm long enough to activate his partner. Now it’s Michaels on Jericho. Now it’s Jericho on Michaels’ legs. Now it’s Michaels on Jericho’s legs. Now Michael’s money leg is up and outstretched for that patented Sweet Chin Music, and Y2J curtsies into dreamland. And a-one, and a-two, and a-three…

Winners: John Cena/Shawn Michaels

See you next week! (Pinky swear.)