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Take The Right Road

May 27, 2006

"You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."

At the suggestion of my movie-expert friend Adam Kelley, I rented the movie Mulholland Dr. and watched it last night. In one of those funny mix-ups that happen sometimes, I initially thought I had seen it when he brought it up... only I was thinking of the Tim Robbins movie Arlington Rd. It reminded me of the time I confused the movies About Schmidt and Almost Famous.

And, wow, I'm still trying to figure out Mulholland Dr. What a film! It was a David Lynch movie, which I knew meant it was going to be "out there", but wow it was great. Lynch was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for the film, and I see why now. Interestingly, the film grossed only $7.2 million in the United States, but it made nearly twice that worldwide. Though, with the film being so sexually charged and not having the typical linear A-B-C-D plot, there were elements that I'm sure kept away the simple-minded and the holy rollers. And people like me who managed to confuse it with another movie...

It's not due back at Blockbuster until Tuesday, and I imagine I'll watch it at least another time before then. One huge annoyance: at about the 25 minute mark, the movie froze up in my DVD player (the one in my bedroom that I bought in 1999 for $300 that won't play DVRs), due to what I presume is a scratch on the disc or something. For some reason, the disc I have doesn't have chapters on it, so I couldn't even skip past it with that feature. I had to go into the living room and watch it on my PS2. Oh well, as least I was able to watch it.

Why does the NFL continue its obsession with wanting to hold games outside of the United States? It's not like Mulholland Drive where it has double the demand internationally. Interest in the game in the U.S., and season-ticket sales, are at an all-time high. You only get eight regular season home games a year as it is; why take one away to force your team to go play in Düsseldorf or London or Tokyo? I just don't see the logic in that. Alienating a strong, loyal fan base in an attempt to reach people who mostly care about soccer seems like a misguided effort to me. Don't fix what's not broken. I hope that whomever takes over as the next NFL Commissioner realizes this.

Remember the column I wrote about ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) on May 3, 2006? Well, forget it. WWE issued a press release yesterday, it which it denegrated the former ECW product. Direct quote from the press release: Going worldwide with the likes of Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer and Sabu, however, is miles away from where ECW was prior to its closing in 2001. In fact, stationed out of Philadelphia, many looked at ECW as just a northeastern wrestling promotion. That, incidentally, is the only place in the release where the word "wrestling" appears.

Go down then to the final paragraph, and there's this cheerful text: So with the launch of the re-established brand right around the corner, will former ECW head Paul Heyman have a role? “Absolutely,” exclaimed McMahon. “But at the end of the day, Mr. McMahon is in charge.”

In other words, don't get your hopes up. I said that for ECW to work, four things needed to happen. Of those, we'll get ½ of the 4. 1. Give ECW its own location for TV tapings (0 of 1.) It will be taped at SmackDown! initially, which is not exactly what you need for any sort of "brand separation" or whatever corporate-speak they want to give it. The goal is to bring in new fans with more money to spend, right? Why would I go to an ECW show if it's billed as a WWE SmackDown! show?

2. ECW needs a two hour weekly timeslot on USA (½ of 1.) Well, it'll get a one hour slot... and it'll be on the Sci-Fi Channel. But as opposed to being an "internet-only" show or other such nonsense, it will have a weekly cable timeslot, so I give it a half-point. It won't have enough time to really have long wrestling matches, but I get the feeling that won't matter? Why, because...

3 & 4. Keep Vince McMahon's hands off of ECW, and let Paul Heyman handle the booking. (0 of 2.) McMahon will ruin this, just like he's ruined everything involving ECW since WWE acquired its product name/rights, or WCW (World Championship Wrestling) for that matter. Heyman appears destined to be an on-camera character, and I can only imagine what kind of sabatoge will happen if this manages to catch on in spite of itself. McMahon is notorious for hating ideas that he didn't come up with himself (look at how he mishandled Goldberg when he fell into his lap, for example.)

Here's a question: how much would it cost to acquire the North American distribution rights for All Japan and New Japan pro wrestling tapes for the 1990s? If it wouldn't be outrageously priced, I'd think that by getting English play-by-play voiceovers and graphics, and then marketing them aggressively on DVD, you could make some money. There are some really good matches out there, including some with American-known wrestlers, who would be of interest to the wrestling fan base that's out there. As it is, just the rights to the 1994 Super J Cup would be great.

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