By Mike Mooneyham

Oct. 12, 2003

You’ve got to give Jim Ross credit. Having to sell outlandish, over-the-top angles such as last week’s Shane McMahon-Kane limousine demolition requires an acting performance on par with The Rock.

But it’s really an injustice to a seasoned announcer like Ross and an even bigger insult to the audience. The Shane-Kane angle, in particular, is counterproductive on a number of levels, not the least of which is its total lack of believability.

It’s also fairly obvious the writers don’t seem to understand the roles of heels and babyfaces. Trying to “murder” the bad guy (Kane) by smashing a limo – containing a helpless Kane – into a parked semi-trailer makes the babyface (McMahon) the heel. It’s Booking 101, but it seems to be a fairly simple concept lost on the WWE creative staff.

Jim Ross

Jim Ross

Listening to co-host Jerry “The King” Lawler rehash a litany of bizarre angles involving Kane while Ross reacts with his best game face makes one seriously question the credentials of the writers of a show that increasingly looks like it’s put together on the fly.

Some proponents might laud the visual effects of a limo crashing into a parked truck, a wrestler being tossed into a fiery dumpster, or an announcer torched by a psychotic monster. No matter how well the stunts are staged, however, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to take any of it seriously. No one, of course, believes Kane is really hurt, especially since he’s come back week after week virtually unscathed following a variety of brutalizations.

Although he was reported in “critical condition” at the end of Monday night’s Raw episode, Kane was still scheduled to make his shots at house shows against McMahon this weekend. One has to wonder if the company will even have him selling any injuries at the shows.

While WWE might enjoy temporary ratings spikes for its version of Stunt TV, these angles eventually undermine the characters and the show. When you completely kill all suspension of disbelief and compound that by failing to follow up in any cohesive manner, it’s a sure bet that viewers will reciprocate in kind, eventually refusing to invest their time or emotion in a product that treats them like mindless lemmings.

– Jim Ross, who doubles at WWE’s executive vice president of talent relations, fortunately has other avenues available to display his considerable talent. His second culinary offering, “JR’s Cookbook: True Ringside Tales, BBQ and Down-Home Recipes” (World Wrestling Entertainment Books, $26), published in May, demonstrates not only his ability to tell a good wrestling story, but his obvious love for good food.

Good ole’ J.R. takes you right back to his mama’s kitchen in Oklahoma for some tried-and-true country cookin’ dishes, noting that the recipes have been in his family for years. Some are barbecue recipes that he has perfected; being a native Oklahoman, BBQ and grilling have been a right of passage for him since his daddy first taught him how to light a grill.

The book is rightfully dedicated to his late mama, “who always worked one or two jobs outside our home, but never failed to provide our family with delicious home cooking every day.”

There’s more than 100 recipes in the book, and plenty of nifty photos to boot. And, with a good meal, you have to have a good story, and J.R. is more than up to the task.

– Like I mentioned last week, Triple H may be gone (temporarily) but is making sure he’s not forgotten. With his longtime buddy Kevin Nash already in line for a heel turn and main-event program with new champ Bill Goldberg, it now appears that ex-Clique cohort Shawn Michaels will be getting a piece of the action as well, along with Evolution member Randy Orton. A good bet is that the door is officially closed on the likes of Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho and the returning Booker T as far as world titles go.

While Triple H is keeping the fire alive on Raw, his future kin continue to dominate Smackdown, as shown by the lineup for next Sunday’s No Mercy pay-per-view.

The Vince McMahon vs. Stephanie McMahon unofficial headliner will now have Vince putting up his position as chairman of the board against Stephanie’s job as general manager of Smackdown. In addition, Sable (Rena Mero) will manage Vince, while Linda McMahon will manage daughter Stephanie. w Maven (Maven Huffman) is gearing up for his biggest push yet this week on Raw against Ric Flair.

Like many before him, Maven is a huge Flair mark whose biggest thrill making it to the big show was when the 16-time world champ first approached him and shook his hand.

“It’s unbelievable,” said the former major league baseball prospect. “It’s a humbling experience to just meet someone like that, a man who I watched in my first-ever wrestling match at the Richmond Coliseum against Magnum T.A. Just for him to go out of his way and come up and shake my hand is mind-boggling.”

Look for Flair to give the youngster more than just a handshake Monday night as Maven moves up the ladder and toward a spot in Evolution. – Last week’s Raw did a 3.6, the same as the previous week, going up against Monday night football (10.2) and baseball playoffs (8.5).

– It might not come as a shock that even some of the performers on the Raw roster don’t watch their show, a fact surprisingly reported on the company’s own Web site.

“Went to the Bucs-Colts game last night,” wrote Edge, who has been on the shelf recovering from neck surgery earlier this year. “Usually I’m at work while football is played. Sunday and Monday nights are spent throwing people around. So when my neighbor came to the door with two Bucs tickets in hand, I decided, what the hell. I’d never been to a football game, and I was not disappointed. It was a different atmosphere than any team sport I’ve ever been to. Luckily I got to see one hell of a game, too.”

– The deal bringing Hulk Hogan to NWA-TNA for a Nov. 30 pay-per-view match with Jeff Jarrett reportedly is in its final stages. The expanded, three-hour Sunday night PPV will be held at a location yet to be determined.

Hogan will meet Masahiro Chono at a New Japan Pro Wrestling show Monday at the Tokyo Dome.

It will be Hogan’s first match since appearing as Mr. America and teaming with Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar against Big Show, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin at WWE’s Smackdown taping at Madison Square Garden on June 24.

– Del “The Patriot” Wilkes and George South will make appearances at Betaw Christian Church’s fall festival at 6 p.m. Oct. 31. The church is located at 2915 Santee River Road, St. Stephen, on S.C. Highway 45, four miles off S.C. Highway 52.

The event, which is open to the public, also will feature food, games and prizes. For more information, call (843) 567-2567.

– Steve Austin is slated to do an appearance on the Howard Stern show to promote his upcoming book.

– Randy Savage’s new rap CD has been receiving a number of scathing reviews.

From the New York Post: “At the risk of getting snapped in half by muscle-bound wrestler Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage, I have to say his debut record defies the laws of physics by blowing and sucking at the same time. The Macho Man is one of the best in the ring, but as an MC his elocution is slow, thick-tongued and seems to lisp at times. As for content, he treats rap as if it is a were a televised wrestling match – half-threat, half-brag, all bore.”

– Boston Red Sox hurler Derek Lowe apparently picked up a bad wrestling habit when he displayed his version of the crotch shop after striking out Oakland’s Terrence Long finish Boston’s 4-3 victory in the AL division series Monday night.

The A’s thought Lowe simulated a sexual act when he appeared to cross his arms, grab his crotch and point to the A’s dugout following the final out, sending Oakland shortstop Miguel Tejada into a rage in the clubhouse moments later.

Tejada, deeming the celebratory salute disrespectful and obscene, returned fire by doing his best impersonation of a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin tirade, unloading a barrage of four-letter expletives aimed at Lowe. “Derek Lowe is going to be paid back for that sign,” Tejada screamed hysterically through the clubhouse.

“I’m a (bleeping) man. I’m a (bleeping) professional. I’ve got my kid up there and the (bleeper) is doing that? … Giving that (bleeping) sign? … He’s going to be paid (back). That’s the only thing that I have to say,” Tejada said. “He’s going to pay for it. I’ve got my (bleeping) kid in the (bleeping) stands.”

Oakland general manager Billy Beane escorted the overwrought Tejada away.

“I don’t even know what they’re speaking of,” Lowe later said. “If I offended anybody, that’s not sportsmanship … I’m sorry, because that’s not the way you play the game.”

Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP who likely was playing his last game with the A’s, was later told that Lowe had apologized.

“I feel better now that I hear he apologizes,” Tejada said after calming down. “He was jumping around and making a scene. They have families up there, we have families up there.”