The Hogans, Goldberg, WrestleMania, and IFL . . . Mallory Looks at a Week of Stars Where You Least Expect Them.
By Mallory Mahling
Just when WWE thought it had wrestled any potential Monday night competition to the ground, along came "IFL Battleground" on MyNetwork TV. Not only that, this upstart had the nerve to go head-to-head with the first hour of Raw. However, whether "IFL Battleground" lasts long enough to make an impact is another thing.
If the International Fight League ("IFL") is new to you, it is an MMA team sport. While "MMA" and "team" would seem to be mutually exclusive concepts, it really does work, largely because the teams are captained by household names (assuming your household is made up of MMA fans).
Anyway, MyNetwork TV ran an hour-long preview last Thursday night to explain the team concept and set up some of the rivalries, such as the bad blood between the Shamrock brothers, who each captain a team, as well as Renzo Gracie vs. Pat Miletich, who share a history and are also team captains. So far, so good.
Then came Monday night's debut, and IFL blew it. What were they thinking??? For all the good UFC has done in making mixed martial arts respectable, IFL focused on the very elements that make it appear to be nothing more than a violent blood sport. Unfortunately, that will probably play right into the hands of those who view MMA as "human cockfighting." Although there was the usual disclaimer about violent content, it was airing at 7:00 p.m. in my time zone and there had to be plenty of little kids watching at home. Bas Rutten was shown later in the program, warning viewers not to try this at home, but the horse was out of the barn by that point. And don't get me started on the smarmy voice-over announcer.
I'll give "IFL Battleground" another chance next week, since I did enjoy it when it was on Fox Sports. Hopefully, they'll make some much-needed changes. If not, then Raw will have nothing to worry about. IFL will have counted itself out.
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If you saw the episode of "Hogan Knows Best" where Nick tries out to be a race car driver, you were probably struck by two things:
(1) The ease with which HulkaDaddy borrowed a Viper from a new car showroom on face value alone (literally); and
(2) What a natural Nick was at the sport of drifting.
I'm sure the car dealer did pretty well when the pricey vehicle eventually sold, since the Hulk Hogan connection gave the Viper some unexpected provenance.
And as for Nick, his talent at drifting has earned him a spot on the race circuit. He will be making his Formula Drift debut on the streets of Long Beach, California, on April 15.
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WWE was looking to get the WrestleMania message out to NASCAR fans last weekend and sponsored Jeremy Mayfield's Nextel Cup car. The race was in Las Vegas, so I guess WWE decided to take a gamble. Mayfield is a "go-or-go-home" driver, and is one of a handful of drivers who had to qualify in order to get into the race. Unfortunately, Mayfield came up short when it came to getting his Toyota into the show.
A sure thing would have been to sponsor one of the cars that was assured a spot in the race. As it was, the WrestleMania Toyota was on the hauler and headed home long before Sunday's race rolled around.
Live and learn.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway turned out to be a popular spot on Sunday for cross-promotions. Bas Rutten was there on behalf "IFL Battleground," and Bill Goldberg was in Greg Biffle's pit plugging his new Spike series, "Bullrun." Unlike WWE's venture into NASCAR sponsorship, whoever made Goldberg's deal picked a driver who would be in the race regardless of where he qualified.
Speaking of "Bullrun," last week I'd playfully suggested that if Goldberg's "Bullrun" series stunk, there would be an ideal one-word critique for it: Bullsh*t. I was prepared to like the show, but after watching last night's debut episode, I'm leaning in the direction of that one-word critique. I'll have more on the first episode of "Bullrun" next week, but suffice it to say that as hosts of reality races go, Goldberg is no Phil Keoghan.* * *
Thanks for reading and see ya next week.
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