By Mike Mooneyham

May 28, 2006

There’s no denying that Rey Mysterio is one of the most entertaining and talented workers in the entire WWE. It was a classic feel-good moment when the Hispanic star won the Smackdown version of the world title at Wrestlemania and dedicated the victory to fallen friend Eddie Guerrero.

But it’s time to give up the gold. .

The problem lies beyond Mysterio’s 5-2, 170-pound frame. WWE has done a terrible job of booking him, especially in recent weeks, as the undersized wrestler has been matched against monsters such as JBL, Mark Henry and Great Khali. Having Rey booked as the “underdog champion” week after week with stiffs like the seven-foot-tall Khali and the 380-pound Henry hasn’t helped the cause and has only served to undermine Rey’s title reign.

“I have never seen a babyface champion so poorly treated,” Lance Storm commented last week on his Web site. “He has been destroyed four weeks in a row. He’s doing more jobs than I did on WWE TV and he’s the world champ. Rey is such an amazing, one-in-a-million kind of performer. If they don’t want the title on him, just beat him for the title, don’t completely destroy him and the world title in the process.”

Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Knee problems have continued to plague Mysterio, and he needs surgery that is expected to sideline him for several months. While it appears that a ready-made program will be waiting for him when he returns, unfortunately it looks to be with Chavo Guerrero, which means we’ll get to see yet another round of the Eddie Guerrero exploitation storyline.

– The Smackdown tag-team division took a big hit with the dismantling of the MNM combo of Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro. Last week’s storyline firing of Nitro and Melina resulted from real-life backstage unrest involving the two. Both reportedly have generated heat in the Smackdown locker room and are expected to be moved to either the Raw or ECW brand. Mercury is expected to stay put on the Smackdown roster.

– Shawn Michaels, who is scheduled to reform DX with Triple H in time for the June 25 Vengeance pay-per-view in Charlotte, has been working with a sore knee and is scheduled to undergo an MRI.

Smackdown brand stars Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle also are spending time on the sidelines. Benoit is out of action with a shoulder injury, while Angle was ordered to take time off due to his recurring neck problems.

– The rash of recent injuries may precipitate the return of WWE bad boy Randy Orton.

Orton, who received a 60-day suspension for unprofessional conduct over Wrestlemania weekend, is now scheduled to return immediately after completing his sentence. Initial reports indicated that Orton might have to serve an extended suspension in order to send him a strong message.

– Former U.S. heavyweight champ Orlando Jordan was released by WWE last week.

Jordan, who had spent several years with the company, was pulled from last week’s scheduled Smackdown match with Tatanka and given the news.

There had been plans for Jordan, who had served as JBL’s “Chief of Staff,” to play a bisexual character, but it was never introduced on television.

– John Cena’s exchange with Rob Van Dam last week on Raw doesn’t bode well for their title match at the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view June 10. RVD’s a little past his prime in terms of in-ring ability, Cena remains a less-than-stellar worker, and it may be difficult for the two to put together a main-event worthy PPV bout. Paul Heyman’s involvement in the match, however, could make a difference.

– The heavily hyped blood-and-gore horror flick “See No Evil,” featuring WWE star Kane (Glen Jacobs), ranked No. 6 on the top-10 list for the domestic box office marketplace. The low-budget movie, which reportedly costs $8 million to make, took in an estimated $4.35 million in its first weekend.

The film’s per-theater average of $3,460, however, was higher than the per-theater averages of the three movies above it: “RV,” “Poseidon” and “Mission: Impossible III.”

A Motley Fool reviewer found the news mildly encouraging and downplayed the relatively anemic box-office estimates.

“Even with marketing costs, I think the ‘See No Evil’ experiment was a worthy risk – the budget wasn’t overly high, and the company has the opportunity to amortize costs through the DVD/pay-TV channels.

“So what’s the bottom line? ‘See No Evil’ didn’t fare as well as John Cena at the last Wrestlemania, but WWE should continue making films targeted toward a young audience. The company can eventually make a good deal of cash from a film library, and the operating segment will add diversification to the core wrestling business; if WWE can make enough low-budget, low-risk films, a few hits will surely arise. The synergy case between the wrestling platform and celluloid production is too compelling to shut down just because of a lukewarm response to this movie – Linda and Vince McMahon won’t be that easily dissuaded.”

The Associated Press was less than favorable with its review of “See No Evil.”

“Nothing about ‘See No Evil’ is scary,” noted the AP review. “With its run-down, abandoned setting, which is lousy with roaches, rats and flies, it’s just dark, dirty and gross. And the killings themselves, while gory, are also unintentionally hilarious. As for the acting – and the action – it’s more believable in any given episode of WWE Raw.’

– Even “God” couldn’t help the buyrates for WWE’s Vengeance pay-per-view.

Early estimates came in at a disappointing 220,000 buys, down almost 100,000 buys from last year.

– WWE officially announced last week that its ECW TV show will debut June 13 in a 10 p.m. time slot on the Sci Fi Channel.

The yet-to-be-titled series will air through the rest of the summer. Bonnie Hammer, president of USA and Sci Fi, hopes the latter channel gets the same ratings lift that USA has gotten from WWE’s Raw.

“This is going to be a great summer series for us,” Hammer told the Hollywood Reporter.

She cited research documenting an overlap among Sci Fi’s viewers and WWE fans. “It’s a huge duplication,” she said. “Close to 50 percent who watch Raw watch Sci Fi as well.”

Hammer said the series is being developed to match the sensibility of the channel’s “stretching the imagination” theme. “It will have a nice little twist that will fit in the brand,” she said.

WWE owner Vince McMahon said on the company’s Web site that he realized the new ECW would have to be different than its predecessor.

“It can’t be the same. That’s pretty much impossible. It’s now five years later. A lot of the performers now have five more years under their belt, and the ECW style has taken a great deal out of them. This is something that the ECW audience already realizes. They know that if ECW was still in business today, they would be very different from what they were five years ago.”

The first ECW house show is scheduled to be held June 24 at ECW Arena in Philadelphia. The second ECW house show will take place June 25 at the Court Time Sports Center in Elizabeth, Pa.

– Cowboy Bob Yuma, a headliner in Arizona during the ’70s, passed away May 23 at the age of 54 from lung disease.

– Sioux Falls-based Hot Stuff Foods has filed a lawsuit against wrestling announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund. The company has accused Okerlund of trying to steal the “Mean Gene Burgers” brand bearing his name.

Web site reported that Hot Stuff says its has paid Okerlund more than $1,000,000 to appear at events and in advertisements calling the food products “the burger that says bite me.” The dispute is over Okerlund’s alleged attempt to solicit Hot Stuff vendors in an effort to bypass “Hot Stuff” and to deal directly with the vendors.

“Mean Gene signed a personality endorsement agreement that we believe he’s violating,” said Stephen Landon, a lawyer for Hot Stuff Foods.

Okerlund’s son, Todd; his nephew, Blaze; and a former Hot Stuff Foods employee, Mark McKee, also are named as defendants in the lawsuit.