Enhancements

This post is in regards to the “string” of comments made by friends of Rob “The Boogie Woogie Man” McBride regarding the episode of RAW last night and the insertion of Ryback into the Hell in a Cell main event against CM Punk for the WWE Title. Terry’s comments were:

“I know the mindset for pro wrestling has changed over the years due to larger tv viewing and sponsorship, but it seems to me like they need to take a page from how it used to be done. Very seldom did you see main eventers wrestler each other on “free” tv. The storylines between them would be built up over a period of time, then they would battle it out at an area setting where you would have to buy a ticket to see it. You can see main events every week now on tv. Ricky Morton does some really good Shoot interviews about this very subject.”

Terry it was a few years ago that Ricky and Dusty Rhodes and I talked about the same thing in the locker room in Washington, NC during one of Rikki Nelson’s NWA MidAtlantic shows. ROH is a good example of how you build interest for a Main Event match in the “old school way” but still have fans interested in your TV and PPV (in this case iPPV). They have been building up Michael Elgin for months, teasing his split with his manager and stablemates, having him be aggressive but wrestling like a face and keeping him away from any contact with Kevin Steen until a few weeks ago when they got into it but were quickly separated. Now the fans have two heels that have baby reactions for the most part (Steen and Elgin) primed for a match. The other thing is that Steen’s faced several guys for the title since beating Richards and it’s been different guys. The problem is that WWE wants all of their workers to be “superstars” and they have no one that’s an experienced “enhancement worker” like a David Isley, Gary Royal, Chuck Coats, George South, Mike Sharpe, Les Thornton, etc.

They’ve done the same thing with Jay Lethal and not what his primary rival’s out for a long time with an ACL tear, Lethal’s getting slowly moved into the World Title storylines as well. ROH is using a lot of the young guys from promotions in Georgia, Florida, NC and Alabama that Bill Beherens works with as their “enhancement” talent but they are never painted as “jobbers”. WWE’s writers (whoever they are this week) don’t understand this concept. They think that if you just swap rivals in between weekly matches that people will be interested in a PPV match. Almost universally unless you’re a younger Cena fan the average person cared more about the Big Show/Sheamus World Title match than yet another Cena/Punk match. They have no “feud” to end because they never developed any heat in the first place. Cena/Shawn Michaels was a run with heat. And pretty much everyone has forgotten that The Rock has a match scheduled at Survivor Series for the title. So now do they put over Ryback by DQ or give him the strap to keep him rolling or do they basically kill off any interest in the guy by having him job to Punk at Hell in a Cell? And, to me, it’s not a Hell in a Cell without The Undertaker around somewhere.

WWE, you want your young guys to learn? Hire George South and have him teach them on how to make the names look good on their way up instead of going straight to the limelight from FCW or NXT.

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Why I Hate Valentines Day

I know that there are a lot of men (and some women) out there that share my complete and utter dislike for the “holiday” known as “St. Valentine’s Day”. There are a multitude of reasons that I could give to wish that I could stay at home until all the stupid Cupid’s arrows, red hearts and streamers are taken down and the Easter junk goes up. Ranting about some of the stuff that gets hawked for Easter is a completely different subject for later. So, I will limit this diatribe to a couple of points.
First, there’s nothing to link the Roman Catholic feast of St. Valentine to anything having to do with romance, chocolate candy and red Victoria’s Secret outfits (not that there’s anything wrong with women in red Victoria’s Secret outfits). There’s a reason for a Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving…heck even Halloween has a basis in the eve before All Saint’s Day. We don’t get the day off and nothing gets celebrated so what the heck is the point?
Another thing is that many of us that were not popular as children (like me) still carry around the horrible memories of Valentine’s Day as a kid. The fact that people get upset about Christmas in schools and then don’t care about this psychological torture is yet another reason that I don’t have a lot of faith in humanity. Popular kids got lots of nice valentines, like the kinds that had a lollipop attached to it. Kids that “liked” each other made hearts with lace during craft times for mom and their friends. Unpopular kids got the cheap dime store valentines with stupid cartoon characters on them that were made in some foreign sweat shop without copywrite approval. Popular kids got stuff and their friends laughed with them. Unpopular kids like me had some jackass come up, drop the card on my desk like it had “cooties” and said “I only got this for you because I HAD to.” Or “because they make us give them to EVERYBODY.” As an unpopular kid this immediately let you know that you could never, ever be your true self and have anyone like you.
As you got older, it only got worse. If you were a girl then some guy dumped you ahead of Valentines and then made up before Easter just so they wouldn’t have to get you anything. If you were a guy then most of the time what you could afford didn’t live up to the girl’s expectations or she took it and then immediately broke up with you afterwards to go out with the guy that dumped his girlfriend before Valentines. Or there is the guy who keeps several girls out there and gets a bulk discount on cards and candy each year along with the girl that had to clear out a shelf to put all the candy and stuffed animals from the idiots that she keeps stringing along.
For married couples, it’s much easier to make Valentines a bit of fun but I still don’t understand why some woman (or man) would get upset at a spouse for not going into debt just because the calendar hits February 14? Did you not go out to eat somewhere during the rest of the year? Do they only sell chocolate candy after Christmas? Is there some magical reason that lingerie and “fun stuff” gets used only on one night? If so then it’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high in the United States today. My wife prefers her flowers to be alive and in a garden where they can be enjoyed rather than slowly dying in a vase. And, gentlemen, if you have not already bought your wives jewelry on birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries then you have shopped way too hard.
“But isn’t Valentine’s romantic?” Sure, about as much as oral surgery is relaxing. There is no way in hell that anyone can be stressed out, anxious, broke, rushed and pressured and still “have fun and be romantic.” That’s like taking a vacation by going to Marine boot camp. I wonder some time what kind of fantasy world so many folks live in that they can buy into the movies and TV version of what love is supposed to be.
So tonight I will go home and cook dinner for my wife just because I want to, not because the Hallmark folks say so. And when 2/14 rolls around I will continue to do what I do for the people I love and ignore all the wasted glitter. And to all the people that told me that they “had” to give me a valentine I hope that you grew up a bit somewhere along the way for your sake.

An Open Letter to the folks that want to be NC Governor…

Dear Democratic Candidates for NC Governor: The majority of us have no idea who most of you are, even the Lt. Governor. In fact, I did a quick survey yesterday and four out of five people surveyed did not even know the State of NC has a Lieutenant Governor. Of course, if my title was “Lieutenant Governor” behind Bev Purdue I would have kept a low profile, too. So when ya’ll start making the Barbecue Circuit don’t be surprised or upset when folks keep looking for Jim Hunt instead. Maybe they should change the name to “Vice Governor” (which sounds like a really good name for a punk rock band…).

Those that we do know either got your butt kicked in your election (Ethridge, Moore) or you have some connection to Mike Easley, Bev Purdue or Bill Clinton. Since Mike and Bev have been in court almost as much as “Big Daddy” Edwards over the last eight years I can tell you that won’t be a positive, even with my “yellow dog” Democrat friends. Bill, well Bill is kinda like butterbeans…some people love him and others hate him depending on their taste. Erskin Boyles, if you decide to run, expect to be called Harry Potter…a lot.

This is a weird year in politics, folks. Republicans cannot buy a viable candidate that doesn’t make me feel like I threw up a little in my mouth after hearing them debate. In NC the Democrats have the first woman governor also be the first governor to not run for re-election since they approved consecutive terms. So when you’re out campaigning, please understand that we as the general public are having as much trouble dealing with the state of politics in the state and nation as Demi Moore has had since Ashton left. I keep waiting for Newt Gynrich to start talking about his “goddesses” and how he has tiger blood.

So please understand the situation you’re getting yourself in. When both one of my most liberal friends, attorney and author J.D. Rhodes, and I both agree that Bev Purdue was a horrible governor and that Newt Gynrich is a condescending, hypocritical fear-monger then things have gotten pretty bad. The President said that we should all be “a team…not playing politics…putting differences aside like the military” while not realizing that military and paramilitary personnel voluntarily give up certain freedoms in order to PROTECT freedoms. So what should be your approach to gain support from the people of NC this year? Running as an Independent might help. Finding an actual Yellow Dog may be a start. Good luck with that.

Sincerely,

Juan Epstein’s Mother (RIP, “Juan”!)

2011 – The year of “WTH”?????

I know that as you get older you’re supposed to dread the passing of time, especially since it seems that this thing that we measure as “days” and “years” goes to Turbo-Speed somewhere around your 35th birthday. Also, I’m not a big fan of “New Years” as a holiday other than a huge excuse to get plastered and act like a jackass the first of which I no longer do and the second of which I try to avoid as much as possible. No, really… I do.

The most important thing about New Years Eve for me was that it was on this night way back when that I met the love of my life and the most important person to me, my wife, for the first time. It was at a party and I was getting plastered and acting like a jackass (I said I don’t NOW…don’t judge me by my past, please..) when I first met her and, despite the fact that I and others I was with that night did some particularly stupid and immature (but kinda funny) things she still went out with me. I’d like to think it was God’s plan to send this woman to me to get my life straight rather than just poor mate selection on her part. Happy Anniversary, Claudia! I love you!

Now, back to this past year. It seemed like everytime I turned around I was saying “What the hell?”. My job was incredibly difficult due to the economy cutting into our budget, people stealing like there’s no tomorrow and general chaos. Family illnesses, family crisises, stress, tears and some moments of banging my head on the wall were pretty much the norm. On the week I experienced an earthquake and a hurricane one behind the other I was thinking “You know, this Rapture thing can’t be all that bad…”. Everybody suddenly started saying that the Mayans, Edward Cayce, Nostradamas and the Psychic Hotline are all predicting the world will end in 2012. I think some folks went to the movie “2012” with kinda high hopes that they were right. Personally, I’m going with the biblical answer to that one which is “No man shall know…”. And since no angel’s showed up to tell me otherwise I’m sticking to that one.

There were some personal highlights. I did get to go to Mississippi on a trip where I was actually treated by members of the community and the local city fathers as if I were someone that had a clue what he was doing. That’s a refreshing feeling every now and then. Too bad I have to leave home to get it.

I also got to go to Chicago and hang out with folks from all around the world at a conference. I ate Chicago Deep Dish pizza three times that week. That made up for at least the earthquake and part of the hurricane. It’s like manna with sausage and cheeze.

The “silly season” of elections started up and for the first time in my life there is NOBODY running for ANYTHING that I’d be excited enough to vote for or campaign for. Not a Republican and not a Democrat. Simply put the only Republican candidate with half a brain is Newt Gynrich and other than the fact that I would cringe at the thought of world leaders being introduced to our president “Newt Grinch” is the fact that Gynrich is an egotistical, condecending attention monger that apparenlty can’t deal with personal relationships very well. I have no problem with Mitt Romney being a Mormon but I do have a problem with some of the others being morons. Huntsman would be the only one that I’d think about supporting but I think he’d be better off running for Vice President with Obama on the Democratic ticket.

We got to see the “hippie movement” briefly flare up in some bigger cities with the “Occupy Something…Anything…Just Occupy Space” movement. Which, apparently, shows that if your cause is liberal and you don’t keep good hygene and have people OD in your park-camp then you don’t have to pay for picketing or marching permits like conservative groups do. I actually saw and heard some of the folks from this group in “Occupy Chicago” and despite all my efforts to try to understand I still don’t know what their main point is other than “Rich Folks are too rich”. What I pretty much saw were people that would be pretty comfortable in the socialist and communist movements back in the 60’s. Of course, there’s a reason that it was in the 60’s and not today. Neither of them work and apparently neither do Occupy protesters.

So as man counts time this is the end of something and the beginning of another. As God sits outside of time I have to wonder if he doesn’t shake his head and look at Times Square and marvel that we his creation celebrate a random measurement of time more than we celebrate Him. My prayer is that He continues to love us and offer His Grace through Jesus Christ and that perhaps, just perhaps, more people have to say “WTH” a bit less.

“I hear voices…”

If you haven’t heard the recent Country Music song “I Hear Voices” then you’ve missed a pretty good hook. The singer talks about all the voices in his head of people that he loved giving him good advice that he’s glad he followed over the years. I immediately understood the song because I have a set of voices in my head as well. Some of the things I still hear include:

“You don’t save money by trying to fix something that you have no clue how to work on. You just end up breaking it more and having to spend more to get it fixed.” Daddy

“If you paid cheap, you get cheap. You get what you pay for.” Daddy Frank

“Men get stupid over a woman like she’s the only one the Lord made.” Grandmu

(She also said something else along that same line that’s not really good for a “family friendly” blog but Grandmu wasn’t one to mince words…)

“A wanton waste makes for a woeful want.” Grandma Twisdale

“Don’t ever say what you’d do in a situation. It’ll make a liar out of you.” Mama

“How you do something is just as important as what you do.” Reverend Sam Martin

“Always carry a sermon in your pocket, just in case you get called on.” Reverend Henry Lovelace

“Why buy something new when you have the same thing and it works fine? Just keep what you’ve got working good and you can spend your money on important things.” Oliver Brewer

“You can’t fit a chair in the back of a Mustang!” My wife and my sister.

“I got you another Long Island Iced Tea! Enjoy it!” (Jerry White trying to make me into one of his customers during my batchelor party….)

“I don’t think trying to fight the entire NC State Wrestling team in the bar was a good thing.” Mike Moore, the night I quit drinking.

“Next time you have a thought like that run through your head, let it go on.” Ron White

“I wanted to send my dog to school because I never went.” D.J.

“I have no bucket list.” Kenneth “Skeeter” Clark

And one of my personal favorites that I try to remember every day: “Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you really know anything.” Daddy

Little Johnny doesn’t smoke Camachos…

I know that there are a lot of folks that don’t agree with ANY kind of tobacco use. If you are one of those people you’re probably not going to agree with this blog but bear with me for a moment.

It seems that for quite some time the folks at the Orange Bowl Committee have had an agreement with Camacho Cigars (which is a company started by a family from Cuba in Tampa) in which the folks at Camacho would be a corporate sponsor for the bowl game and would host some of the VIPS and others that have the bucks to get one of the “suites” at the stadium as well as providing a “cigar lounge” area from which folks that choose to purchase and smoke expensive cigars could herf a “stogie” and watch the game.

Now, by “expensive” I mean that this is a smoke that I might could spring for one cigar from J&R Cigars every once in a blue moon. A box of Comacho Triple Maduro (one of their best selling “full bodied” cigars) sells at the J&R discount rate of $260 for a box of 21 (6×60). A single is about $6.60.

To quote from Frank Seltzer at J&R:

Camacho Cigars signed a three-year deal as a corporate sponsor of the Miami based bowl game. There were plans for there to be on-site Camacho lounges where you could smoke. According to the company’s release,

At the Orange Bowl Game Day Fan Zone, the Orange Bowl’s largest pre-game event, guests can relax before kickoff in a beautifully appointed Camacho Club Lounge. There will also be two cigar lounges located in the designated smoking areas of the stadium on the Club Level for attendees of the Orange Bowl VIP pre-game party.

Dylan Austin—the head of marketing for Camacho—said since Camacho’s roots are in south Florida it was an honor to be partnered with such a class operation. Well maybe the honor ain’t so hot and certainly not a lot of class.

Late last week, a bunch of health groups (including Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the American Cancer Society) started pressuring the Orange Bowl to drop the sponsorship. (It is for the kids don’t you know.)

On Thursday, three Democratic Senators jumped on the bandwagon (Lautenberg of NJ, Durbin of IL and Blumenthal of CT). They wrote to both the Orange Bowl and the NCAA saying the sponsorship should be dropped. By Friday, the bowl officials and NCAA responded to the congressional pressure and kicked Camacho out. (Wonder who will reimburse Camacho ?)”

These groups said that it would be a “bad influence” on kids to portray cigars as “athletic, masculine and cool”. My first reaction was “What the heck are these people REALLY smoking???”

First off, little Johnny ain’t going to be in the areas where these events would have gone. Second, Camacho’s ain’t the kind of thing that little Johnny can go to the corner convenience store and lie about his age and pick up to go sneak a smoke behind the garage. Third, a group of grown men and women (yes, I know women who smoke a good Montecristo sometime) can’t go to a sponsored cigar lounge but you can paste Beer and other alcohol ads from one end of the stadium to the other and (gasp!) SELL BEER at the concession stand. How about the athletic apparel ads? I don’t know about the rest of ya’ll but in all my time of smoking cigars I’ve never been in a store humidor when suddenly a riot, fight or gunshots rang out because they just got in the new Excaliber “Black Knight”. But put Michael Jordan’s new shoes out and all hell breaks loose (Mike also likes cigars when he’s playing golf or at the casino, by the way).

Let’s see what else. Doritos…I can tell you from personal experience that they will make you FAT if you eat too much. Video games? Please…don’t get me started on that as that’s a rant that would take up an entire blog in itself. Car commercials? Why are you trying to sell me a four-wheel bullet that can do 0 to 100 in a nanosecond when the highest speedlimit in the US is about 70 mph???

So what are my points in this? First, that three senators from states other than Florida should have never interjected themselves into an event that is in another state that they had NOTHING to do with. Second, the NCAA has more things that they should worry about (just check the sports section of your paper for the last year) than if a group of grown people get to sit in a lounge in a DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA and puff on an expensive cigar por gratis. And third, any sporting event in the US that decides that they can give in to each and every special interest group will soon find themseleves hosting the NCAA Badmitton tournament sponsored by Depends and Right Guard.

Meanwhile, a responsible, reputable company that signed a THREE YEAR DEAL now has to go through the trouble to try to recoup the money they spent thus far because someone was scared Little Johnny might see someone smoke a cigar. Now all he has to see are the drunks getting kicked out of the stands and the latest sports scandal on ESPN but at least nobody’s smoking.

“Where were you when the World stopped turning…”

I’ve noticed a lot of posts on Facebook and other places about representatives of Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS personnel not being at the 9/11 10th Anniversary memorial event tomorrow due to lack of space. While right now I haven’t seen where this is the case or another lame internet “urban legend” I have already decided that this event can go on without my participation via television.

I am not watching that ceremony already because no clergy of ANY group was invited. How quickly those in office forget the prayer services, joint services that gathered Christians, Jews, Muslims and other groups together to mourn our dead and implore God to intercede on our Nation’s behalf. How soon humanists and others have gone after the symbols of that day (the Iron Cross left standing) and then focus on us turning our backs from fighting the regimes that sponsor terrorism. How soon the memories of civilians, Law Enforcement Officers, Firemen, EMS Personnel, chaplains and others were cheapened by trinket selling shills and their memories evoked by charlatans seeking “donations”. Have we become so “politically correct” in this nation that no one can bring faith into ANY public arena without worrying about “offending” anyone? Is this what we’ve learned in 10 years since the cowardly, devious attack on our nation that we are still feeling to this day every time we look at the news? The economy, world politics, gas prices, US Military action, the schism-like division of the American political spectrum, all of this may not have been originated with the events of 9/11 but those that were not were certainly worsened and magnified by it.

In my mind, nothing that can be done from this point on will be as moving and as touching as the removal of the “last man standing”… the final piece of the towers that was lowered, covered with a black shroud, wreaths placed on it and escorted by an honor guard from the pit in the memory of the many, many people whose remains were never recovered.

The memory of tomorrow should be hallowed in the hearts and minds of the “common people” of this nation and the brothers and sisters to the first responders and military personnel that paid “the full measure” that day and since that day. With the exception of the Mayor of the City of New York (who is the representative of that metropolis), the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff (for the Pentagon) and the President of the United States (who should be present in the field in Pennsylvania to mark the remains of the most gallant victims that may well have saved the White House or the Capital) all other politicians, public officials and “celebrities” should, for once, move aside and render silent respect with all of us. What words of comfort can politicians give us who still can’t look at a clear, crisp, blue September sky without a shadow over our heart and lump in our throat as we wondered if there would be any more attacks. If so, where? Would they be close to the area I’ve sworn to protect? Will I and those I work with need to deploy to other areas? Will other civilian targets be hit? Do we have supplies, ammunition, etc.?

What comfort and faith can a politician evoke for one that will never forget laying his (now grown) children to bed and having them ask “Daddy, will they crash an airplane on us?” and realizing that a feeling of safety that had long been taken for granted would never quite be the same. That the world my children would and have grown up in would be a more difficult and harder one than I had realized since the end of the Cold War.

Every year at this time I listen to the most moving song written during that horrible time. Alan Jackson sang “Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” As I remember the world really did “stop turning” and became eerily silent and sad. I was on my way to work at the Police Department on I-85 when the first reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center started coming in. When I got to the break room of the old PD I was watching the first live shots from the “Today Show” and then went to the Patrol Captain’s office where the Chief, Captains and I watched the events unfold. I will never forget the horror of watching live as the second plane hit the second tower. It was then that all of us in the room knew in a blood chilling second that this was NOT a tragic accident and we were under attack. Then the reports of the plane down in Pennsylvania…and watching live as people jumped out of the top floors of one of the world’s tallest buildings rather than burn to death in an inferno so hot that it would vaporize some of the metal in the building frame. As we talked about putting people on alert and what the regional response by law enforcement might be we watched in horror as the first tower fell. Having been to NYC and been up on the observation deck of that tower, looking across the harbor at Liberty Island years before I could not imagine something that big collapsing. I knew there had to be people still left in the building. I knew that the passengers on the plane, all innocent souls, were incinerated on impact. I knew that it would have taken out all the NY Port Authority Police, NY Fire Department and Rescue Personnel in the building that would be doing what I would have done were that in my home…trying to save people. That was just setting into me when the unthinkable happened…the second tower fell and with it the lives of so many people. The symbol of the prosperity and financial leadership of the United States had been leveled by a group of demonic individuals sacrificing our own people. We had literally been shot with a bullet from our own gun.

Then the other stories poured in. One plane was down in a field in Pennsylvania. Speculation was that this plane had been headed to Washington DC to either the White House or the Capitol. I had no idea the stories of heroism, bravery and faith that would come from that event alone. I will never forget the passenger asking the skyphone operator to join him in the Lords Prayer or the now famous words…”Let’s Roll”. The decision of these people to risk and then sacrifice their lives in order to prevent this plane from hitting its target. Such courage. Such FAITH.

When I’m working my part-time job I end up getting a lot of assignments in the NorthEast and Midwest. I almost always fly back into Reagan National to get my commuter flight to RDU. Each time we make that approach to Reagan I look out the window at the side of the Pentagon where a plane on a similar flight path came in and turned that outer ring of that giant building into an inferno. This time the symbol of our Military had been struck with the sacrifice of our own people.

In the last ten years this event has been examined by news reporters, scientist, politicians and so forth. The “conspiracy theorist” abound and each time one of them is given a public ear it seems more and more idiotic. More insipid are those that had the gall to say “we deserved it” after the BILLIONS of dollars in US aid, support, charity, manpower and assistance have been rendered to the other nations of this world since World War II. Cultural reasons be hanged there was NO justification for that day and there never, ever will be. There is a small comfort that the “mastermind” of all this is now at the bottom of the sea but the damage to the culture of our nation is still there, still raw to the touch.

If human progress, human government, secular “community” are all that we have to remember these events by or to lead us as a nation in the future then we are destined to follow in the steps of so many cultures and empires before. In order for this nation to be “united” there must be something greater than ourselves. There must be something greater than this selfish, defiant human nature that we see so much today. It must be that spark of the divine, the “image of God” that exists within each of us and yearns to see the reflection of its Creator that is acknowledged and allowed to worship, to have faith in the eternal and spiritual, that unifies us both politically and morally. The founding fathers of this nation were quick to point out that their Enlightenment views of government were rooted in the conviction of the leadership of “divine Providence”, “their Creator” and for many (despite what you may have heard) “the lordship of Jesus Christ”. It does not honor those that have died to allow our society to forget that.