The Skip Bayless Era at ESPN came to an end on Tuesday, which probably came as a delight to many people. Apparently, it also came as a delight to many people at ESPN as well. It's been well documented the past couple of days but some ESPN on-air talent took some shots at Skip on his way out. The on-air shot by Scott Van Pelt was the most surprising to me. Now full disclosure, I didn't watch the entire segment and have only seen the 20 second clip so there may be more context to the video than I've seen. But that seems like a pretty blatant shot at Bayless as he's on his way out the door. Van Pelt strikes me as the ESPN anchor that is the most down to Earth despite his fame and would be a great guy to share a beer with after work. And he also strikes me as a guy who would stand up for what he believes in and speak his mind, which he was probably doing here with Skip. He probably, or apparently, is not a Skip Bayless guy and doesn't appreciate his style or demeanor. But still, that felt like a cheap shot to a guy on his way out to me. Does Van Pelt make that same comment if Bayless still has two years left on his ESPN contract and not two days?
More surprising to me than other ESPN personalities taking shots at Skip as he leaves the company is ESPN allowing their employees to take shots at another employee on his way out. ESPN has taken a pretty rigid stance on that in the past. Maybe they will do that here as well by fining or suspending some of these guys but there has been no rumors or speculation thus far about it. And again, I'm not in the room or in that environment. I'm just an outsider looking in but if that's the case I think that's a petty move by ESPN after all that Bayless has provided that network. I'm sure there are scores more of information that I'm not privy to but just from my public perception I would have liked to see ESPN show Bayless a little more appreciation and gratitude on his departure. I'm not saying hype of his final episode or make it a prime-time special or anything but they could have at least not treated him like a doormat in his final week.
Skip brought a lot of eyes, attention, money, and notoriety to ESPN. He was a monumental part in making that First Take show into an empire and must see TV at times. Remember that show didn't start out as First Take, it was originally called Cold Pizza. And it wasn't just debate, it was like a sports version of Good Morning America with a variety of topics and interviews. The debate section was just a small part of the show. But that section of the show with Skip and Woody Paige became so good they kept giving it more and more time, and it eventually became its own show. Skip was so good at what he did and got so many people to watch him that ESPN created a new show for him. And since that point, the show kept getting bigger and bigger to where it's basically its own brand now.
People may not have agreed with Skip on everything (most things) but the guy was entertaining and you wanted to at least hear his opinion. Even if it was just to get angry at it and disagree with it, people wanted to hear his opinions. The man was entertaining. And he said it often and I agree with him....I do think that he believed everything he said on that show. I don't think he ever said anything on that show that he did not personally believed. Now, big caveat here, I do think he turned up the intensity and bravado on a lot of his Hot Takes to be more entertaining and most lightning rod-ish. But I do think he believed what he said. Long-time readers of this blog (2 weeks!) know by now that I like to make a lot of professional wrestling analogies and I want to do one here as well. Skip's on-air personality was very similar to a professional wrestler's.
You often hear in wrestling that to find a great character that the audience will believe and buy into, you have to find something true to yourself and then amplify that trait to boisterous levels. Steve Austin would always say he just took his personality and turned the volume on it up to 11. He was a rough and tough guy raised in the south. He took those traits and turned the volume up to 11 on it and became Stone Cold Steve Austin, who transformed the wrestling industry and became one of the best performers WWE has ever had. Do I really think he wanted to "kill Mr. McMahon" or goes out chugging beers every Friday night? No, but I believed that character and think it was similar to the real Steve Austin today. Same with The New Day in the current WWE. I think that is just a group of guys who are friends that have great chemistry together off-camera and like to joke around, goof off, and have a good time. They do those same things on-camera just turned up to 11. And they have been the most consistently entertaining group of guys on WWE TV for over a year now. I think Bayless did the same thing. I think he took the things he believed, his #HotTakes if you will, and then turned some of those takes up to 11 to make his points more entertaining or debatable or controversial. And it made him a star. And it made him a lot of money. And it made ESPN a lot of money. And it brought a lot of attention to ESPN
Now, that doesn't make what he did quote-unquote "right". His opinions upset a lot of people and many people did not like his act. But people watched. And it worked out very, very well for Skip. He became a household name, but not always for the positive. He apparently is on the verge of signing a very healthy contract with Fox Sports. Whatever he did worked, it worked for him and it worked for ESPN. And I know that probably upsets a lot of people but I'd at least try to imagine what you would do in his situation. Would you do the same thing and become a star, with all the fame, notoriety and money that comes with it? Or would you be content keeping your volume at 4, not 11, with the risk of never getting that fame and money?
I can't speak for you personally but I can tell you how I'd play it. I just started this Three Count part on my blog less than two weeks ago. I am a high school teacher so I'm currently in my vacation time and wanted to be a little more active on this site. I'm sure once mid-August rolls around that the Three Count will either disappear or become way less regular. But, I had the time and enjoy writing my thoughts out and hopefully entertaining some people in the mornings when they read this. And it gives me something to do. I'm not looking to parlay this into a part-time job with anyone or make any money off of it. BUT.....let's say some major sports news organization picked up on the Three Count and really enjoyed it. Let's say they want to add me to their staff. They say "We want you to work for us full-time. You'd get a daily spot for your Three Count and we'd pay you a six figure salary. You'd be guaranteed a million clicks per month on our site. But, we'd like you to change two things. One, we'd like one of your points each day to be about the NHL since we just signed a big TV partnership with them. And two, we'd like you to add a picture of a model looking sexy each day because sex sells and gets us clicks." I may think that offer over for a couple minutes but there is a great chance that I would be signing up for that deal. I'd immediately start researching Calgary's second line and try to figure out what's going on with the Sabres goalie situation. And try to figure out a way to tell my wife I have to start Googling sexy women for a living without her getting too upset.
I think Skip Bayless was great at what he did. I think it's a smart move by FOX to try and bring him to their network. I think he's an even bigger get than Cowherd or Whitlock. Everyone who enjoys sports has opinions on sports. And most people like hearing other people's opinions on those topics, even if they don't agree with them. And Skip Bayless is great at giving his opinions and evoking and emotion out of viewers. That leads to more eyes on the product and more attention to the product. Eyes and attention is what FOX Sports is trying to get right now. I think Skip is a great person to try to accomplish that at FOX Sports. Good luck to you Skip on your new deal. If ESPN won't give you the credit you deserve, I will.
The Bollmeyer Summer Matinee Movie Tour continued yesterday with a 12:40 pm showing of Now You See Me 2. It was my fourth matinee movie of the year (the goal is 10) and here are the standings so far:
- Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (91 out of 100)
- Money Monster (85 out of 100)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (81 out of 100)
I would put Now You See Me 2 in the two spot with a 88 out of 100. If you liked the first Now You See Me than I'd think you'd enjoy this one as well as they are very similar in style. However, there are still enough differences in plot and storylines that make it seem like two distinctly different movies. It's over 2 hours long but did not feel long at all to me. It moves quickly and felt more like a 90 minute movie, which I think is the sign of an enjoyable movie.
It would be helpful to rewatch the first movie if you have time before you what the sequel. With it being an original movie and not a franchise, I was a little fuzzy on some of the details and characters early in the movie but it does a nice job of bringing you back up to speed. I think the real factor on whether you are going to enjoy this movie is your ability to lessen your sense of believability when you enter the movie theater.
These movies are about a group of magicians trying to steal things across the globe. Similar to the Ocean's Eleven franchise, some of their acts and tricks are cool in the movie but hard to believe that they'd translate well in real life. The likelyhood of them pulling all these things off consistently in one take in real life is really, really, really slim. But that's why you go to the movies, to watch fascinating things happen. If I wanted everyday life I'd go to Fareway and watch people pick out their groceries. I have no problem stepping out of reality a little bit and enjoy the show. If you can do that, I think you'll really enjoy this movie.
The last part that makes this movie great in my opinion is the shades of grey for most of the characters. It's almost like a big mystery where you are trying to figure out who is ultimately a good guy and who's a bad guy and where everyone's true motives lie. You never really know for sure. And then you are trying to look for clues throughout the movie of where everything is going or leading, which makes every scene and detail seem important. That's what made the 129 minute movie feel like a 90 minute movie for me, I was always looking for things that seemed important and how they tied into the big picture. There were no dead scenes or scenes that dragged on too long. And all the unpredictability and shades of grey make this a movie that could be even better the 2nd or 3rd time you watch it once you know the plot and what you're looking for.
I'm not putting it in the 90s though for 2 reasons: I was hoping for a little more comedy and I left the theater not knowing exactly how the entire plot tied together. There were some subtle funny parts of the movie but I thought there could be more. And I won't spoil anything, but with all the moving parts in the plot and in the movie I'm still not 100% of how it ended and how everything tied together. I think with a 2nd watch it would make more sense, but I still left the theater a little on the fuzzy side. So it gets an 88 from me and a solid recommendation, especially if you liked the first movie.
Just going to be brief here since I don't have all the details yet and the first two bullets were longer than I expected. But this is a huge deal for the WWE. Apparently Roman Reigns was suspended 30-days by the WWE for a Wellness violation. I don't know what the violation was or when they WWE found out about it but the timing of this is both brutal and interesting.
Rumors are circulating that the WWE knew about the violation prior to the PPV on Sunday, which is why Roman lost the belt to Seth Rollins, who eventually lost it to Dean Ambrose. And they still chose to put him in the championship triple threat match at Battleground since it would be after his 30 day suspension. I'm not sure I believe that but it does make more sense I guess than them not knowing on Monday, making the decision to have a Shield triple threat at the next PPV, and then finding out about the wellness violation AND make an announcement by Tuesday afternoon. That seemed like a quick turnaround for such a big event and decision.
But if they did know before the PPV, getting the title off of him makes sense but also putting him in the next main event is a bit of a head-scratcher. Especially when that next main event is the first ever Shield reunion match. If all stays the same between now and then that's a WrestleMania main event that he's not going to be around to help build up. And the build up should be part of the entertainment leading up to the match. It was already curious enough that they were doing this match at Battleground and not SummerSlam, but it's even more curious now if they knew Roman wouldn't be around until the PPV. But, I'll give WWE the benefit of the doubt and hope they have a plan for this and know where they are going. A lot of variables could change and it could easily turn into a great angle. I'm looking forward seeing where they go with all this.