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September 20, 2008

Kozlov is one mad Russian

One week after attacking Jeff Hardy, Vladimir Kozlov laid out both Triple H and Hardy – the WWE champion and the No. 1 contender, respectively – last night on Smackdown.

After bringing Kozlov along slowly, WWE has pulled the trigger on elevating him to top-tier status. It seems obvious that he is somehow going to be involved in the Triple H-Hardy match at the No Mercy pay-per-view on Oct. 5.

It’s never a bad idea to get fresh faces into the mix – and what a face that is on Kozlov. The man doesn’t have a wide range of expressions, but that sure is one heck of a scowl he has there.

It’s hard to believe the robotic, seemingly indestructible Kozlov is same guy who a little less than two years ago played a happy-go-lucky character (using the same name) who was seated at ringside every week proclaiming to “love Double Double E.” He ended up being sent back to developmental before ever getting in the ring on television, reportedly because he was nowhere near ready to be on the main roster.

He still might not be a great worker, but he has been booked brilliantly – winning one squash match after another. The real test will be how he fares when he has to wrestle a give-and-take match with top stars.

Other thoughts on last night’s show:

Given the events of this past Wednesday, Hardy’s promo (which was taped Tuesday night) took on a whole new meaning. He talked about his career in WWE, saying that “the journey hasn’t always been smooth.” The Brian Kendrick then came out and made a reference to Hardy’s “extracurricular activities.” Hardy showed a lot of fire and his delivery was good. …

Since Hardy is main-eventing the pay-per-view, of course he had to defeat Kendrick, but I sure would like to see Kendrick start winning matches again soon. …

Like Hardy beating Kendrick, there was no doubt that Triple H would defeat MVP. However, MVP pretty much dominated the match before losing, so I can’t say he was buried in any way this time. …

The crowd popped for R-Truth’s non-title victory over U.S. champion Shelton Benjamin. While R-Truth was doing his “What’s Up?” thing before the match, the look on Benjamin’s face was pure gold (no pun intended). …

Some might have found it corny, but I liked the backstage vignette with Chavo Guerrero and The Undertaker. The way Guerrero turned around and faced the camera as Undertaker’s hand appeared out of nowhere to grab him by the throat reminded me of Barnabas Collins goozling Willie Loomis on Dark Shadows. How’s that for a non-wrestling, dated, obscure reference? …

I think The Big Show was guilty of gimmick infringement when he said that he was going to make The Undertaker humble. Everyone knows that’s The Iron Sheik’s catch phrase. Next thing you know, Sheik will be cutting a promo on Show on YouTube. Probably something like this:

“The Big Show is a low-life, piece of [expletive], no-good [expletive]. He is a big jabroni [expletive] just like the Brian Blair and the Hulk Hogan. Next time I see Big Show, I’m gonna break his back, make him humble, and then [expletive] him in the [expletive]. [Expletive] The Big Show.” …

Was it just me or were Carlito and Primo Colon dying out there at the beginning of Carlito’s Cabana? It did get better when Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder arrived. Surprisingly, the WWE tag team champs showed some personality, as did Primo (Carlito, of course, always does). Festus stole the show when he chased Hawkins and Ryder up the ramp while carrying a fake palm tree. …

It was good to see Gregory “Shane” Helms (he was referred to as Hurricane Helms last night) back on TV after a long absence. He has been out since undergoing neck surgery in May of last year. Sort of like a pop-up video, Helms’ face appeared in a bubble during two matches. In each, he made a wisecrack about the heel and then said, “I’m just sayin.” This gimmick could be a lot of fun, and Helms in real-life has that smart-aleck personality (and I mean that as a compliment) that could make it work. I wouldn’t be surprised if he came up with the idea. …

Scotty Goldman’s attempt at comedy before his match against The Great Khali was as bad as anything I have ever seen on TNA Impact. It was so lame that I was rooting for Khali to squash him. …

I’m guessing just about everyone had already figured out the Bre Bella under-the-ring mystery, but last night WWE pretty much gave it away. As Christian Cage would say, “If you don’t know, now you know.”

Posted by Kevin Eck at 6:47 AM | | Comments (13)
        

Comments

I have to admit I don't really get much from Kozlov or R-Truth, but I suppose the fans are buying into them both, so it's good to see the WWE push new talent. I just think in both cases they might be going too fast. Having R-Truth cleanly beat the US champ after basically beating low-level talent and having kozlov challenge the two top stars on SD after beating basically nobody might be too much, too soon.
And if you are worried about Kozlov's in-ring work, maybe the WWE should've chose someone a little more suitable than the Great Khali to try and make him look good. That match may be "bowling shoe ugly".
I have to disagree with you on Helm's little pop-up commentary. the idea seems like it may have promise, but the actual remarks were pretty lame. if Helms is a truly witty guy in person, hopefully he will come up with more creative things to say in future episodes.

Ron Killings might have the most annoying entrance in the history of wrestling.

I love Kozlov. I hope they aren't just building him up to job to HHH, like the rest of the SD! roster. Its been complete squashville for Hunter since moving to SD.+

Next week, is there any chance that Jesse and Festus could secure Maryse for transport?


RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Only if they ship her to my house. On second thought, Mrs. Ring Posts probably wouldn't go for that.

Last week I was watching season 2 of the wire when low and behold Kozlov was used as an extra as part of the wire as part of the greeks gang.

I'm not a big fan of monster heels in the first place, but I think WWE is going a little too far with them. We all know how well Khali has worked out, Umaga amde a decent run before dropping off the map, why go to that well again so soon? Between Kozlov, Khali, Umaga, and Festus WWE could almost make a whole division of wrestlers who don't sell and don't speak a word of intelligible english. Yeah, these gimmicks are mildly entertaining at first, but after a few months they just turn into another monster heel who's not good for anything but main event filler when someone gets injured.

" Mrs. Ring Posts " , that what your'e calling Shawn Michaels now ? :)

I have to disagree with you completely on MVP. They are very much burying him. He's basically been spinning his wheels for months, to the point now that fans barely respond to him. He hasn't been in a meaningful feud or been given any real mic time in weeks. He was one of their more over guys, and seemed like a clear future champion. Apparently from what I've been reading (I'm sure you've heard the same), someone at Titan Sports has convinced themselves that he doesn't know how to work or generate heel heat, which is absurd. They've completely dropped the ball with him.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I agree they have dropped the ball with MVP. I predicted a world title reign for him in 2008. I wasn't saying that he isn't being buried now -- he clearly is. My point was that he wasn't totally buried in the match against Triple as far as him dominating the match before losing. It wasn't like he got squashed.

Just in case the WWE powers that be read this blog and take note of the dissatisfied comments about Kozlov, I would like to balance things out by saying that I really like the character. His accent, facial expressions, and entrance music are bang-on. He is my favorite heel right now.

I agree with Christopher on this one. Kozlov isn't the best pro wrestler but he's probably the most convincing match to his current ring persona. And if there was ever a post-Cold War time to push an evil Russian character, this is it. Can't blame WWE for zooming him up the card.

I've got to say that I agree about your comments on Cabana's I mean Goldman's humor before the match. It really didn't do anything for him and for some reason I expect to see more of it.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: I agree they have dropped the ball with MVP. I predicted a world title reign for him in 2008. I wasn't saying that he isn't being buried now -- he clearly is. My point was that he wasn't totally buried in the match against Triple as far as him dominating the match before losing. It wasn't like he got squashed.
----------------------------------

Agreed on the match, but in reality he was buried before the match ever began. Everybody watching knew he had about a 0% chance of winning that match, which is why the crowd was mostly silent during the stretches he dominated. They just sat back and waited for the inevitable HHH comeback, kick to the stomach, and pedigree.

I hope they don't end up making the same mistakes with R-Truth and push him too fast as they did with so many others. I really like him in the ring and I think he has star potential, the only thing negative I can say is I hope he comes up with a better catch phrase... "What's up?!" doesn't do it for me... but I'm 33, having watched wrestling since WM 2. So maybe that will appeal to the younger fans... dunno.

Guys like Kennedy, Umaga and to a lesser extent Shelton Benjamin were all pushed to the moon very quickly and now they are all struggling to get back on track. Back in the golden ages, guys like Shawn Micheals, Bret Hart, Mr Perfect, and the most recent success story of Edge were all pushed in mid card high profile story lines before moving up the ranks to main event. I hope that WWE realize that THIS is the way to make a superstar. Stone Cold, Bret Hart and Shawn Micheals career making matches came out of losing a high profile mid card story. Not being pushed to main event so fast.

"Guys like Kennedy, Umaga and to a lesser extent Shelton Benjamin were all pushed to the moon very quickly and now they are all struggling to get back on track. Back in the golden ages, guys like Shawn Micheals, Bret Hart, Mr Perfect, and the most recent success story of Edge were all pushed in mid card high profile story lines before moving up the ranks to main event. I hope that WWE realize that THIS is the way to make a superstar. Stone Cold, Bret Hart and Shawn Micheals career making matches came out of losing a high profile mid card story. Not being pushed to main event so fast. "

I so agree with ROB there. People have forgotten including column writers(no disrespect to you Kevin) that wrestling was ALWAYS a story. Remember that. ANYONE can fight and yell and dance and say a catchphrase. But to put it in the context of a feud so it plays out fluidly is an art. And that takes time. Wrestlers should be pushed accordingly. MVP while annoying had a great match with Hunter which really told a story. Bourne is amazing though I fear he may repeat his moves in the future and not show the dynamic ring presence which he displayed earlier on. Kozlov is very impressive. He keeps it simple which isn't that easy to do. But I do hope that he is made to wait till Royal Rumble before he became a main eventer. The Kendrick is pathetic. Sure give him a push. But his gimmick?!? He 'SASHAYS' to the ring. SASHAYS... He prances like some pansy loser. If people like Rey took so long to come up then The kendrick is no exception. Hell, Bourne is much better than Kendrick.

There was a time when people like Austin, Rock, HHH, Owen, Ahmed Johnson, FOUGHT for the IC title like it meant something. But NOW!!!! the Kendrick is main eventing?!? That explains the lowest low for WWE since early 90s. Where is Dykstra?? Some people say he is a pr[jerk]. None of us KNOW that. And even if he was, so what? Shawn Michaels was the biggest [jerk] out there in the history of WWE/WWF till 98'. And that didn't stop him from main eventing again and again. Dykstra is no exception. Give him a run. He can wrestle as good as anyone, He can talk, He has a great gimmick(get respect) and a good body. What the hell is McMahon waiting for. Ohh wait I forgot. Shawn's students like Lance and Brian Kendrick are more important. And that would explain your crapped up ratings these days.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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