For as long as I could remember, I've always loved both writing and professional wrestling. When I was ten, I would create my own "WWF Magazine". A friend had his dad photocopy them at work, we'd staple them together, and hand them out to kids in the class. Years later, in high school, I wrote a "newsletter" that boasted "inside news and expert views from James Guttman". Although only lasting for about a year, it was mentioned in New Wave Wrestling and Wrestling Eye magazine. I even spent some time doing wrestling reports for Beth Ziff's "Kids in Charge" AM Radio show here on Long Island. I took the spot over from their old "wrestling guy" who had to leave suddenly. You know him. His name is Vince Russo. Yes. The same one. Seriously.
Then, well, I fell off for a while in terms of writing. I spent my early 20s in a haze wondering what would make me happy in life. Strangely enough, I knew the whole time. I had never been happier than when I was commenting on the business I loved.
It wasn't until 2002, that I truly realized my dreams.
Answering a call by the Wrestling Torch for writers, I submitted my name and was immediately taken in. The first Raw Insanity (reprinted below) was published online September 23 of that year.
My goal was simple. I wanted to speak to you, the wrestling fans, as if you were in the room watching Raw with me. The snide remarks, off hand references, and things that floated in and out of my mind during the show were usually reserved for people viewing the broadcast live by my side. Raw Insanity gave me the ability to share that with the readers. As people in my life slowly started switching the channel from today's "Sports Entertainment" product, I was lucky because I still had friends I could watch the shows with - all of you.
It's something that I have taken great pride in watching evolve over the past decade. From Katie Vick to Dixie Carter, we've seen it together. It's shaped my writing style and is the entire basis for this site. In many ways, "JG's Raw Insanity" doesn't only mean ownership in the sense that the Raw Insanity belongs to JG. It means that JG is Raw Insanity, because that's what has happened. It's become who I am in many ways and encompassed everything I try to do when interacting with people through this site, online, or anywhere.
Since 2002, it's been a roller coaster ride. My dream has come true countless times since then. Between my two books for ECW Press, run at Pro Wrestling Illustrated, time at Powerslam Magazine in the UK, and even a quick sprint through WWE Magazine, I wake up every morning thankful for all I've had the chance to accomplish. Add to that the people I've had the opportunity to work with and interview from this amazing industry and you'll know why even when the ring seems darkest for fans, I'm always looking for the next ray of light shining up the aisle.
Once again, I thank all of you for allowing me to write and present this site to you. It means the world to me. As we pass this milestone, I can't help but be excited for the future. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm never content with being content. There are some big changes on the horizon around here so buckle up. Ten years in and we've only scratched the tip of the Insanity iceberg.
Be Well…and Thanks For Sharing My Insanity,
Originally Published September 23, 2002
The show opens abruptly with the introduction of Trish Stratus. Jim Ross welcomes us to Raw is War. He says that it's on the heels of a very controversial Unforgiven. I guess in Oklahoma, "controversial" means "boring". J.R. and the King run down the card as they announce Kane and a partner of his choosing, challenging the WWE Tag Team Champions, Cheap Heat (Lance Storm and Christian). Also, the Union Underground will be performing the Raw theme live. Well, at least it isn't wrestling. That's the important thing.
(1) Trish Stratus defeated Molly Holly and Victoria (pinfall on Molly) to retain the WWE Women's Title. I still can't fully grasp what is going on with the women's division. Am I supposed to admire the wrestling ability or chant "HLA"? Why bother putting the same women in the same matches over and over without any buildup or storyline advancement? The only real rub these two got was the whole "You have a fat ass" angle. Speaking of which, Victoria was competing with Molly for the junk in the trunk award tonight. But, I'm not supposed to be looking at that... I think. I'm supposed to be watching the moves - like when Molly picked up Trish and tossed her over the top rope to the floor. It was a good shot and definitely merited a mention. I think the cameraman agreed, because in shades of Monday Nitro, the camera missed Victoria attacking Molly from behind. Victoria and Molly go at it and Victoria misses with a pretty sharp looking Moonsault. There were a few 2 counts and roll up reversals before the "3 stooges finish" saw Molly and Vicki bump into each other and Mighty Molly being rolled into the three count. For the match quality I give this an average rating. I think it was good for what it was. But, with nothing behind it - what's the point. No post-match angle - no story line advancement. Match is now over and it's like it never happened. Poof.
Booker T refers to himself as B Tizzy and Goldust as Gold Dizzy as he unveils a private screening of Eric Bischoff getting the stinkface last night at Unforgiven. Kane, The Big Show, Jeff Hardy, Steven Richards, and Bubba Ray Dudley sit in the room watching. Which made absolutely no sense considering that two of them were fighting each other later on tonight. Does no one else notice this? Am I asking too much? Jeff Hardy is actually sitting next to the Big Show! They watch the video of Rikishi being introed as a lesbian and making out with Stephanie (does that mean that Rikishi will start getting unlimited airtime too? Seems logical). Golddustin says he hasn't seen anything that bad since Chris Jericho's band Fozzy performed. So, I guess now we a can say Fozzy sucks? Nice. I was waiting. Goldust then presents a picture of Bischoff with Rikishi's butt where Eric's head should be. Rico sees this and says he is running to tell Eric on them. Hey! Wasn't that DDP's old job?
- Commercial - Watch CSI... or you will die...
Eric Bischoff's off white puffy face is seen welcoming someone new to Raw. You can't see the guy's face - but they say he is from Smackdown. Rico comes in and Eric goes off on him for not saving him last night. Rico tattles on the boys in the back and tells Uncle Eric about his employees mocking him behind his back. Bischoff is angry and is going to take care of it. Yay! More mic time for non-wrestlers!
Lawler and JR are shown at the announcers' tables for the first time. Lawler was showing the scars from his surgery. They discuss the ethics of tattling. Next week: How we feel about sharing and nap time.
The Marshmallow-like Bischoff comes to the ring and tells the people that he is not "in the mood". We get to the root of Eric's bloated anger as he reveals how hurt he was that Smackdown's roster came to Stephanie's aid during her attack. Yet, his own Raw crew laughed at him during his similar attack. (Could have been worse, Eric. They could have sent you a Fed Ex package to laugh at you.) He then says that Vinnie Mac called him and ruled that there will be no more jumps between Raw and Smackdown without a proper trade. This will cure the problem of why you would work for Eric if you hate him. Oh, how I can never get enough of the whole "You work for me. You're not going anywhere" story line. Can we do it again? But, good old Eric got some last minute deals put to ink before the deadline. But from this point on, if you work for Eric, you can't leave. That's it. No backsies. He brings out Booker T. Eric takes exception to Book laughing at what he went through last night. Booker says that HLA stands for "Huge Lumpy Ass". (I thought HLA was for "He Lost Austin".) Booker does the Sucka line and Bischoff pulls out his trump card. He only has 3 minutes. Rosey and Jamal jump Booker but he overcomes them and is jumped by Rico. They triple team him and Goldust makes the run in and eventually gets destroyed. Ho hum. I feel empty. Raw has been pretty hollow. Also, there has only been one match so far.
- Commercial break - Triple H tries to think of a way to make the commercials be about him, too.
Eric Bischoff is gassing up the 3 minute Islanders and Rico Martel. Y2J comes in and asks for a match with Goldust. It seems that Jericho has taken exception to what Goldy said about Fozzy. Because, Jericho thinks his band is good. He is also deaf. Eric makes the match and puts the IC title on the line. Jericho is distraught about having to defend his title.
(2) Big Show pinned Jeff "I Finger-paint My Face" Hardy following a chokeslam. Weren't these guys just sitting next to each other? Ross makes a number of comments about Big Show being "over 500 pounds" and "always hungry". Him and the King made snide remarks about Show's weight the whole time. Then they stole his lunch money and called him a fatty. I mean, I understand that JR needs to keep the talent in shape and at the top level. But this guy has all the subtle charm of a train wreck. Jeff takes all the standard "big guy versus Jeff Hardy" bumps before being chokeslammed by Big Show for the non-sensible job. Don't get it. I don't. I just don't get it.
Recap of Dreamer/Nowinski feud. We join Chris Nowinski on "Dean" Douglas's old set as he preaches about being "Harvard Educated". The Harvard Grad gimmick is sure better than Chris' alternative choice - "Tough Enough Loser".
-Commercial...Has Castrol GTX been advertising on Raw and it's predecessors forever?
Kane is shown doing pushups. From the openings in his mask, we can see that Kane is bald on the top of his head. He also must be burned only on his nose and forehead now and nowhere else. Ah, the miracles of modern science.
(3) Tommy Dreamer beat Chris Nowinski via knockout. Very good hardcore match. It's funny, but hardcore matches come off a lot better when the premise is based on hate rather than the hardcore title. Dreamer puts Chris through the "rookie beatdown". He knocks the hell out of him. At one point he puts Nowinski through the ceiling and breaks a number of things over his head. The finish comes when Tommy slams Christopher in the face with his cane and leaves him lying. Not really a match as much as an old school brawl. But, very well done. I continue to be won over by Tommy Dreamer.
Jim Ross hypes that he will be announcing the newest defector to Raw. I hope it's not someone stupid. See where I'm going with this? Well, if you're reading this, you can just skip down. Me? I had to sit through the...
-Commercial break - CSI CSI CSI...
(4) Randy Orton beat Steven Richards with a frog splash body press. Orton didn't really defect from Smackdown. It's more like he jumped to Raw from Velocity. I swear that Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross must live in the Twilight Zone. They went on and on about how Randy Orton is such an amazing talent, and how what a big coup this is for Raw, and how Orton is so talented, and respected, and he can turn water into wine. Lawler actually appeared to fall in love with Randy Orton during this match. I kept thinking that they were kidding; it was actually that far over the top. It became apparent that they were giving newcomers to Raw a clean slate. However, there is a difference between having a guy start fresh and blatantly pretending he's been doing more than he has on Smackdown. It was transparent and strange. The match was pretty good. Although, as is typically the problem with Raw, the circumstances surrounding this contest was so poorly presented, that the match suffered regardless of what these 2 did. Richards nailed an amazing superkick but was thwarted by an Orton frog splash pin. The commentary on this match was surreal. Maybe it'll go to Randy's head and he'll turn heel. Then again... that would make sense.
JG 2012 Note: Think I was exaggerating about Lawler's Orton Love here? Check this out...
Ric Flair is seen walking down the hall and coming...why, he's coming to the ring!
- Commercial break - Slam of the Week is Flair's heel turn... It was also Slam of the Week in 1989, 1994, 1995, last April...oh you get the picture...
Lillian Garcia introduces...Union Underground. Nothing much to say about this...except one. What is the point of making me sit through that opening Triple Threat Women's match if you're just gonna drag out the entire female roster and have them bump and grind to the Raw theme an hour later? That's right, kids - there is none. Pointless, unneeded, thrown together... and you say that there's no more Nitro.
Flair comes to the ring. Was he walking that whole time? It was like 10 minutes! Then again, he is 100.
For those of you who don't remember. There was a time a few years back when the WWF(E) was competing with WCW. During Raw, the start of hour two was always set up with an awesome moment so as to counteract WCW's main event match. Tonight, hour two started with Ric Flair adjusting his watch. The 90's are officially over.
Flair attempts to explain his latest heel turn. He says that he cared more about giving the fans what they wanted instead of what he should do for himself, but Triple H showed him the way. Hey, if there is one thing that Hunter knows it's that you should put what you want in front of what the audience wants to see. Flair is going to take Triple H to the next level. It's like when Harly Race took over as Lex Luger's manager in the old WCW. I suppose if it's worth anything, they're ripping off failed story lines from the early 90's rather than the late 90's now. As Flair styles and profiles, RVD comes out all taped up and stalks the "dirtiest player in the game". Which is a very funny line when you consider that Triple H claims to be the game. Yeah, wink wink - I get it. RVD walks the aisle and is jumped by Mr. Stephanie. Hunter (sporting his non-leather/denim look in favor of his more stylish duds) double teams Mr. Monday Night with Flair and delivers a classic "You can't win" line on him. Bubba Ray Dudley (in his new shorts that show the world his bright bright white legs) makes the save... forcing the Game and the dirtiest player in him to retreat.
-Commercial break- I swear - watch CSI or you are gonna pay... Also order the encore of Unforgiven and pay to see all the clips we're gonna show tonight and Thursday...
Bubba Ray is approached by the Coach and declares that he is sick of Hunter. He says that Raw is not the Triple H Show or the Flair Show - it's the fans' show. RVD comes out and the two of them decide to go after Hunter and the Nature Boy. Bischoff stops them. Apparently, referring to Raw as the fans' show hurts his feelings too because The Gamy One and the Old one will face Van Dam and Bubba.
(4) Chris Jericho defeated Goldust via submission with the Walls of Jericho to retain the Intercontinental Title. First and foremost, Lawler referred to the Union Underground as the Union Station. Ok that does it - Lawler doesn't care and they pay him... I definitely don't care. The funny thing about this match is that at first I was not into it. It gained momentum as time went on and one thing became obvious when watching it. Jericho is not a main eventer. He fits very well into the mid card roll and can actually generate interest at that level. I know it sounds harsh, but it might be time for us to admit that Jericho can't get to the next level because he's not meant to be there. Let's stop looking for the "missing piece" to take him to the main event and accept that he's not able to be a main event star. It's not to say he's untalented, he's just sorely overrated. He's more of a Chavo Guerrero than a Shawn Michaels. Yeah, I said it and I stand by it. Oh, and here's one for ya, when referring to the arena's rich history, JR cited the match between Shawn and the "Great Bret Hart" (his words). I guess now that the front office can blame everything under the sun on Stone Cold - they can finally let Bret keep some dignity. Austin will just have to wait until the Undertaker screws up now. This match was good as time went on. Jericho slapped on the Boston Crab of Jericho following a reversal of the Curtain Call.
-Commercial break -
Meredith Brooks is in the crowd tonight. Lawler remembered her name.
(5) Kane & Hurricane defeated Lance Storm & Christian to capture the WWE Tag Team Titles when Kane pinned Storm following a double chokeslam. I felt all the air sucked out of the arena when the Hurricane came out. It's rough for Shane Helms considering that he's got talent and a fairly good following, but did the writing team think that unveiling Hurricane as the show long build-up mystery partner was going to get anyone jumping for joy? It was the type of angle that had to work twice as hard to be half as successful. William Regal looks like Mr. Bentley from the Jeffersons - just an observation. I have to say that the match wasn't bad. Although, putting the belts on the watered down Kane and Hurricane rather than run with the only solid heel stable left is pretty insane. Even if you wanted to get the belts off Storm and Christian to advance some other story, I can't believe that this team was their best choice. Finish saw Test run out and distract ref Nick Patrick while Regal nailed Kane with one of the tag titles. Storm only got a two count prompting Test and Regal to get into a debate with Nick Patrick. Test should have been like "Hey man, come on - remember the Alliance?" But no dice, Test and Regal are bounced to the locker room. Helms ducks a spinkick by Storm that nails Christian. Double chokeslam, 3 seconds later... new tag champs. Soak that in while we take a much needed...
-Commercial break - Scorpion King on DVD? I'll be too busy watching CSI...
Terry's cleavage interviews Hurricane Helms. She asks why Dr Kane chose him to tag with. Hurricane claims that he wanted Kane as his sidekick. Kane overhears this (because his ears aren't burnt either). Kane claims that Hurricane is a freak like him and freaks are cool. Hurricane wants to go celebrate. Kane tells him to wait and proceeds to attack Terri and kiss her prompting countless school children to start Tuesday morning at school by forcing their tongues down the throats of pretty girls in class because "Kane did it".
We cut to another interview...this one with the un-American Cheap Heat. Lord William Bentley claims that they are not going to make excuses. He said they would regroup or something like that. Please forgive me - but I'm still trying to figure out why Jeff Hardy and Big Show were sitting next to each other.
(6) Booker T pinned Rico after a scissors kick. Nothing makes sense. Not the fact that Rico jobbed, as that was a bit logical. It was the way in which it was done. More like a Heat opener than a closing half-hour match. Here's something that got to me. How do you take a guy who just 3 weeks ago was portraying the role of a gay manager on Smackdown and put him into the main storylines of Raw without any sort of transition? Are these people for real? With something like this, no one can figure out what's wrong with Raw? Ugh. As far as the match, classic spots. Spinaroony. The whole nine yards. Then there must have been 3 unentertaining minutes in there because Rosey and Jamal came down and jumped the Bookerman. Goldust made the save and hit the "Shattered Dreams" on Rico. He was then attacked and squashed by the 3-minute henchmen. Why do I get this bad case of d...j... vu? Maybe because I saw this an hour and twenty minutes ago? Now they're redoing angles from the same night?
Booker and Goldust are hurt and Bischoff is happy about it. What does he care if 2 of his top guys are gone? He has Randy Orton and the Hurricane. Easy E books the poor man's Rock and Sock Connection against Rosey and Jamal next week. Booker tells Eric "You are what you eat... You're an asshole". When he first said that, I though "Eric is what he eats? He must be everything!"
RVD and Bubba discuss their match tonight. RVD says he has nothing left to lose.
-Commercial break - Is that Matt Pinfield for Forcible Entry? Didn't Forcible Entry come out sometime around Piledriver? How many copies must they still be stuck with?
(7) The Nature "Old Man" Ric Flair & "The Man with No Neck" Triple H beat Rob Van Dam & Bubba Ray Dudley when Flair pinned Bubba. No Mercy is brought to me by Subway this year. Bubba Ray starts out against Hunter. It looks like a world class bodybuilder fighting the guy that works at the deli by my house. I think the WWE should just change Bubba's name to "We Want Tables" so every time he's in the ring and the fans chant it - it doesn't seem so disrespectful to his ability. I watched as Flair botched a number of spots. It was very difficult seeing him in there with RVD. Flair messed up a monkey flip and some other bumps. It was more or less a very blatant showing of why Flair should no longer be in the main event - if wrestling at all. Not just for the fact that he can do serious damage to himself at this point, or that he's taking away from young guys, but I have 1 word for Slick Ric - Legacy. Preserve it. I don't want to remember this match. I want to remember 1989. Flashback of the match saw Bubba Ray hit Triple H and Flair with a Dusty Rhodes type "double bionic elbow" while they gyrated and convulsed in center ring. Bubba did his classic tag team moves with Rob including the What's Up and Get the Tables (why did they split him and D-Von, again?). They get a table out and Triple H guillotines Bubba on the top rope from the outside and Flair grabs the tights for the cheap win. Following the match, Team Nose take out the sledge hammer (which isn't so intimidating considering that Rob Van Dam was beaten with one last night and is in the ring now). Bubba knocks the sledgehammer down and tosses Flair. He then picks up Hunter for a powerbomb through the table but botches it terrible and looks like he almost cuts Hunter's head off on the table's corner. You can just hear the Game's cell phone speed dialing Stephanie about it. Bubba goes down for some reason and Van Dam puts Helmsley through the table with a double leg drop. Awkward ending as the show went off the air with Ric and Triple H trying to cover their mouths as the camera zoomed in on them talking to each other.
All in All... Bad. These shows have just gotten bad. Every time I sit down to watch this show I expect it to be bad. I know it will be bad. Then, when it's bad... I'm not disappointed. All in all, I would give this show a star and a half out of 5. The few good matches saved it. But it was your classic, hamster wheel spinning, long winded, and watered down Raw. But, alas I am a fan of this great spectacle we call wrestling. No matter how ill conceived the angles become, I will always be a sucker for this industry. So, every week I will watch this program whether it's good or bad and report on it. That's my promise to all of you. So next week be here once again when we suffer through another 2 hours of Raw. Psssstt...I betcha it'll be bad!