Saturday, March 17, 2018

Weasel of the Week: Jon Bravo

For weeks now, independent filmmaker Jon Bravo has claimed to have evidence that linked WWE wrestlers, particularly Roman Reigns, to a Miami doctor named Richard Rodriguez who dealt in steroids. Now, you'd think Reigns, with one Wellness violation already on his chart, would steer clear of fools like Rodriguez to begin with, and maybe he has, we don't know. Bravo also name-drops actors Channing Tatum & Mark Wahlberg and other wrestlers, past & present, including Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kevin Nash, the latter of whom co-starred with Tatum in the "Magic Mike" movies.

Late Friday night, Bravo dropped this video on YouTube:

The video is also available on Figure Four Weekly & The Wrestling Observer Newsletter's shared website, which is where I obtained the embed code. In Dave Meltzer's article on the subject, Bravo is quoted as saying he was rushed by thousands to get the video out. I'm not so sure about that. To me, and to, I'm sure, millions of others, Bravo is nothing more than a lone whistle-blower in the wilderness looking for his 15 minutes of fame at the expense of other, more famous people. In truth, if he took more time to get his facts straight instead of fanning the flames of idle speculation (and panic in WWE), people might look at this more seriously.

I've not reviewed the film, nor do I intend to. I see a guy desperate to make his name in films coming across as being as sharp as a broken razor, or, to be more precise, his animated namesake, 1990's Cartoon Network dimwit Johnny Bravo. However, Jon Bravo isn't getting a Dunce Cap. He gets the even more dreaded Weasel ears instead for his ongoing campaign of misinformation. It is this video that had WWE thinking of retooling its main event for next month's Wrestlemania in the event there was hard evidence against Roman Reigns.

The bottom line? Smoke & mirrors don't create evidence. Hall of Famer Scott Hall said it best back in the 90's. Don't just sing it. Bring it. Bravo didn't do either.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What Might've Been: Temptation (1967)

Up until the time Bob Quigley retired, he & Merrill Heatter sold just 4 game shows to ABC. The Saturday morning series, Shenanigans, was the first, and it was a retooling of CBS' Video Village. The first sale to ABC for their weekday lineup was Temptation, which ran for 13 weeks in 1967-8.

Over the course of five rounds, contestants chose prizes. The three options resembled the Big Deal segment of Monty Hall's Let's Make a Deal, but that was the only quirk. Actually, it wasn't. Temptation was one of two H-Q games that Kenny Williams didn't announce. NBC's Magnificent Marble Machine, which came along a few years later, and, like Temptation, emceed by Art James, was the other.

Another H-Q game, Funny You Should Ask, ultimately replaced Temptation, but after Funny was dropped, it'd be a few more years before H-Q would try again.

Here's a sample episode. Mind the shaky video quality.

As a 4 year old, I barely remember seeing this at home. I remember the logo, and little else. The game-play is unique in a way, and James attempting to be a little unassuming was a nice change from the norm.

Rating: B.

The AFLAC duck finally talks (for once)(2005)

In a silly sendup of mad scientist movies, the ad agency for AFLAC came up with this bit in 2005 with future first lady Melania Trump having her mind transferred into the infamous AFLAC duck (voice of Gilbert Gottfried), and vice versa, so Gottfried's "AFLAC!" emits from Melania's lips.....

To think that, years later, President Dum-Dum actually brags about this comedy. Put it this way, we know now who the better actor is in the family, don't we?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sharing the stage with your boss: Jack Benny on Checkmate (1962)

We've documented that Jack Benny's production company co-produced CBS' Checkmate (1960-2) with Revue Studios, apparently part of a package deal that kept Benny's self-titled sitcom on CBS through the course of its run.

Anyway, Benny guest stars in this season 2 offering, "A Funny Thing Happened on my Way to The Game", the game in this case being the fictional Pioneer Bowl, an analogue for the Rose Bowl, what with the Pioneer Bowl Queen and her Court, under the direction of a pre-Gilligan's Island Tina Louise. Dick Wilson, better known for his many years shilling Charmin toilet paper as Mr. Whipple, also appears as a hotel desk clerk. I guess they couldn't get frequent Benny nemesis Frank Nelson for the gig.

Just thought I'd put this up as a public service for now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Forgotten TV: Let's Go To The Races (1970's)

Let's Go To The Races was a syndicated short-season series that aired pre-recorded races from thoroughbred tracks in Florida during the 70's.

Depending on where you lived, the show was sponsored by a prominent supermarket chain. In New York, that would be Grand Union. In parts of the midwest, as you'll see in the sample episode below, it was Hy-Vee. The stores had game tickets that were available in different colors and numbers during the 13 week season.

It was this series that started my own interest in horse racing. As a fan, mind you, more than a player.

New York viewers saw races from the now-defunct Tropical Park, with veteran sportscaster Jack Drees calling the races, actually dubbing over the original race calls. Same thing here, but the action is at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, now better known for the Florida Derby, among other winter season races.

Unfortunately, the tapes of the Tropical Park races have been lost, so we had to make do.

Rating: B.

A Modern Classic: ER (1994)

Part of the deal that brought Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" to the big screen in 1993 was that Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment picked up the rights to a 1974 novel that Crichton wrote based on his experience as a medical student working in an emergency room.

In the fall of 1994, Amblin & WB sold ER to NBC, marking the network's return to medical drama since St. Elsewhere ended a few years earlier. The producers assembled an ensemble cast that, at first, was headed by Anthony Edwards (ex-Brideshead Revisited) and George Clooney (ex-The Facts of Life). This was the series that propelled Clooney into a lucrative movie career (he filmed "Batman & Robin"  between seasons 3 & 4), though some of his movie choices weren't exactly the smartest.

The revolving door has also seen the likes of Angela Bassett, Noah Wyle, Linda Cardellini, Eriq LaSalle, and John Stamos pass through the doors of fictional County General in Chicago. In all, ER ran for 15 seasons on NBC, most of it anchoring the network's "Must-See TV" block.

Here's a sample open & close from the first season, featuring that kickin' theme song....

I've seen a few reruns when it aired on TNT. All I can say is that Dick Wolf's current Chicago Med has a hard act to follow.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

A correction from yesterday. The UAlbany women's basketball team will continue to play after all, as they've accepted a bid to the Women's NIT (National Invitational Tournament), which begins this weekend. I had mistakenly assumed the decision by UAlbany administration not to accept any post-season bids applied to both the men's & women's teams.
In a strange turn of events, a judge ruled in favor of the National Enquirer in a lawsuit brought against them by 80's fitness icon Richard Simmons. Seems that while the American Media-owned tabloid, a favored publication of President Trump, fabricated a story about Simmons transitioning from man to woman, there wasn't enough in the judge's opinion to declare it libelous.

Makes ya wonder if Simmons is a registered Democrat, or if the judge is a Republican and/or pro-Trump......
Speaking of the President, he continues to tinker with his Cabinet as if he's still a CEO, and not the leader of the free world. The latest casualty was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was officially future endeavored yesterday. While these words weren't spoken publicly, it's clear Trump had this on his mind.....

To replace Tillerson, Trump is nominating current CIA director Mike Pompeo. Like, didn't he pick Pompeo to replace James Comey last year?

I'm more convinced that despite his reportedly becoming a Christian during his campaign, Trump still conducts business with all the subtlety and savvy of, say....Elmer Fudd. I respect the office, but let's stop playing musical chairs.
Even though he's due to come off the disabled list in the WWE, Jeff Hardy got himself in trouble with the law again over the weekend, as he was arrested for DUI in his home state of North Carolina. Hardy just doesn't get it. His brother, Matt, finally is able to use the "Broken" (now "Woken") persona created in TNA/Impact in 2016, in WWE, and recorded a match vs. Bray Wyatt in North Carolina last week (WWE will show the match next week, and make you think they are taping later this week), in which Jeff was involved.

It makes one wonder if the Hardys are on a permanent sugar high, or they laced the Cocoa Puffs with PCPs as kids.......! Matt does present himself as being cuckoo, moreso than Wyatt (Windham Rotunda, son of Mike Rotunda, nephew of Barry Windham, etc.), who has been presented as a sort-of cult leader from the swamp.
Speaking of WWE, as of now, their Hall of Fame class of 2018 appears to be set as follows:

Bill Goldberg: A WCW phenom from 1997-2000, Goldberg resurfaced in WWE from 2003-4 and 2016-17. Currently doing some acting (ABC's The Goldbergs) while enjoying likely retirement from the mat.

Ivory (Lisa Moretti): Originally a cast member of the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (1986-90), Moretti resurfaced in WWE during the Attitude Era (1997-2004), winning several women's titles before becoming a commentator.

Jeff Jarrett: The co-founder of TNA had 2 stints in WWE in the 90's (1995-6, 1998-9), but left on bad terms. So did Bruno Sammartino and the late Ultimate Warrior, and they eventually got in, too.

Kid Rock: The rap-rocker, born Robert Ritchie, is going into the Celebrity wing, giving speculation that if Undertaker does return at Wrestlemania this year, he may resurrect his "American Bad Ass" persona (2000-3), who returned to the beat of Kid Rock's song of the same name in May '00.

Jarrius Robertson (Warrior Award winner). Enough said.

The Dudley Boys: Bubba Ray (Mark Lomonaco) & D-Von (Devon Hughes) cut a swath through ECW, WWE, & TNA, as well as Japan, between 1995-2016. As Bully Ray, Lomonaco wrestled his last match for Ring of Honor in December, and is now a ringside enforcer for ROH. Bubba & D-Von won more than 2 dozen tag titles in their careers, but most of their WWE & TNA runs were unfortunately short.

Hillbilly Jim (James Morris): A product of the Hulk Hogan era of the 80's, Morris began his career in the southern independents, and recorded a couple of novelty tracks for the two WWE CD's that came out in 1985 and '87. Now a goodwill ambassador for the company.

There may be at least one more, and if there is, we'll have it here. The induction will be in New Orleans on April 6.