twitter google

Postcard from the Couch: Reviewing Strikeforce “Destruction”

Welcome to Postcard from the Couch – Strikeforce: Destruction.

I’ve looked forward to this edition of P.C.F.T.C. because it’s the first one I’ve written that hasn’t focused on a UFC event.

Ironically, I came away from tonight appreciating the UFC more than ever.

Strikeforce: Destruction, which aired live on HDNet – and on my 42-inch high-def television with a surround sound home theater system – may as well had been telecast on a black and white TV with three-inch speakers.

And no, I’m not bragging about my television. I’m simply stating that I was adequately equipped to enjoy this telecast in its highest form.

Unfortunately, I spent two hours and 15 minutes watching a flat, unenergetic telecast that, quite frankly, served no purpose being broadcast in HD. You see, high-definition television doesn’t lie. Some of the “entertainers” in the adult entertainment industry say that they actually prefer NOT to see their movies in HD because it exposes their flaws, such as plastic surgery scars and other things that don’t need to be mentioned on this site.

How I know this is not important. What IS important is that my real name IS Lee Gerowitz and not Lee Hammerrod, and that my point is, HD television embraces beauty and exposes ugliness for what it is.

Tonight’s telecast was ugly. I’m well aware of the fact that HDNet/Strikeforce doesn’t operate on the same kind of budget that Zuffa/UFC does. Therefore, I need to make those of you reading well aware of the fact that I really don’t care. My job is to critique what I see, end of story.

And this is what I saw…

ANNOUNCING –

Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten called the action tonight. The best way to describe Kenny Rice in general, I think, is “professional.” He calls it like he sees it, for better or for worse, and he stays pretty level headed. Personally, I’ll take the hits and misses of the more energetic Mike Goldberg. As for Rutten, I don’t mind him on HDNet’s “Inside MMA” show. But on a live card, I’m simply not a fan because I believe he’s more about gimmick than substance. To me, he’s the Chris Berman of MMA on television: enough already with the shtick, thank you.

Rice and Rutten got off to a rough start during tonight’s show. As they were doing a preview of the co-main event, Bobby Southworth versus Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Rice intended to lead Rutten into discussing Southworth while Southworth footage was being played. Instead, Rutten spoke about Babalu almost the entire time over the Southworth footage. When Babalu footage was finally played, Rutten had nothing else to say and Rice wisely filled time. Still, it came off as a sloppy and ill-prepared bit.

Rice, perhaps sensing the overall dullness of the night, also reached when describing Scott Smith’s knockout of Terry Martin by stating, “You will not see a better knockout than that.” Really? I paid $50 to see one last week when Jeremy Stephens went Goose Gossage on Rafeal Dos Anjos’ chin during UFC 91. Smith’s KO was absolutely textbook, but I am sure MMA fans more experienced than I could name 10 knockouts better than that one.

Overall, the announcing was in-sync with the rest of the night. I give it a Blah-plus.

OVERALL PRODUCTION VALUE –

As I mentioned earlier, I looked forward to writing this particular column because it was a non-UFC event. Coming into tonight, I knew the biggest difference I would notice between a UFC event and one that airs on HDNet is the production value.

It’s hard to argue that the UFC, from the second one of their pay per views begins, doesn’t do everything in its power to make their telecast as high energy as possible, whether it’s Goldberg yelling, Bruce Buffer doing his Thriller dance/ring announcements, the lighting, the music, or their tremendous audio and overall presentation.

HDNet, on the other hand, really needs to step it up in this department, and tonight was a shining example of that. Again, I don’t care about how much money they don’t have. One thing I have learned in television is that you don’t always need to be a major network or high-budget production to make something look and sound good.

LIGHTING & AUDIO –

Was this a funeral or a mixed martial arts card? The lighting went hand in hand with the low energy output of the telecast. The crowd was too dark (possibly to cover up empty seats), and aside from several useless cutaways of them, the crowd almost seemed non-existent.

Which leads me into my biggest complaint: the audio. Wow. Paging Mark Cuban, paging Mark Cuban, can you hear me Mark Cuban? No? Well guess what? I couldn’t hear portions of your network’s telecast either.

Crap. I hope he doesn’t delete me as a friend on Facebook now.

Not only were there audio dropouts on several occasions, there was a constant issue with the audio levels in general. Besides being lit too dark, the crowd’s audio was also nearly non-existent. I live in New York City, and I’ve heard audio of neighbors fornicating three floors below me that sounded crisper than what I heard tonight. Also, when music played during fighter introductions, it was almost louder than the announcers. HDNet surely had a feed of the arena audio, so there was no reason why they couldn’t monitor it in a more professional manner.

During the Duane Ludwig-Yves Edwards fight, injured Josh Thomson joined Rice and Rutten to call the fight. Right away, his audio levels were so low that you could barely hear him speak about his toe injury that forced him out of this fight with Edwards.

They even disrupted an interview Ron Kruck did with the beautiful and talented Gina Carano. Kruck was asking Carano about possibly working for Strikeforce or the WEC, and as she was trying to answer, you could hear Rice and/or Rutten’s off-camera audio bleeding through. Thankfully, Carano is the kind of interview you can watch with the sound down and still enjoy it.

However, I will give props to HDNet for letting us see and hear WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown instruct Edwards from his corner during round two. I believe that this is a valuable asset to have in case a fight has some dead spots. Corner men are always talking, so it lets the announcers take a breather while giving the viewer another layer of insight to a fight. Otherwise, the audio was absolutely atrocious.

GRAPHICS –

HDNet’s graphics, for an HD telecast, were completely underwhelming. Their graphics should use crisp colors and moving animation that pops out at you on an HD television. Instead, they bore you, and they would even bore you on a standard definition television.

Information-wise, I am personally a big fan of the CompuStrike stats. They don’t tell the entire story, especially in a fight that stays mostly on the ground, but I appreciate the effort as a viewer. I also thought that Rice did a good job incorporating them into his announcing, particularly during the Nik Theotikos-Luke Rockhold fight, when he updated the viewer on the CompuStrike stats during the first round.

HDNet also uses the standard “mini-facts graphic” for each fighter as they enter the cage. These quick facts generally give the viewer good, simple facts about each fighter. However, I didn’t need to know that Luke Rockhold’s “Brother is a Pro Surfer.” They may as well followed that up with a text messaging poll that asked, “Does anyone give a s**t?”

PACKAGES & PACING –

If you watched HDNet/Strikeforce’s show opens and fighter packages and compared it to what the UFC does, you would immediately notice the difference in energy.

Personally, I love the way the UFC kicks off any of their fight cards with their show opens/opening teases. Tonight’s open to the telecast, on the other hand, really set the tone for the rest of the night. It was voiced over and had low energy music – and most of all, you didn’t even get to hear from the fighters. You heard a bad voiceover, but nothing from the fighters. Huh?

The fighter packages completely failed to get a viewer amped for the upcoming fight. It actually made me miss Goldberg’s over the top voiceovers he does for the UFC’s pre-fight packages. But there’s also an obvious difference in the production value of these packages, from the music selections to the shooting and even the editing. This isn’t a money issue, either. This is a creativity and talent issue. These packages did absolutely nothing for me and seemed to serve more as filler than relevant content.

Pacing-wise, I like the idea of what HDNet does by having Jimmy Lennon, Jr. toss to a fighter’s pre-fight package, and then after the package, having the fighter’s entrance to the cage. However, there are a couple of problems here. One is Jimmy Lennon, Jr. He’s great with boxing. But I feel like he doesn’t supply the energy an announcer needs for MMA. I don’t need everyone to be Bruce Buffer. But at the same time, Lennon just doesn’t seem to fit in. The other problem with the pacing is that while the flow is good, once again, the lack of energy just kills it. Lennon is too laid back and you cant heard the crowd anyways due to the poor audio. Get a new announcer and improve the audio, then the pacing would seem even quicker.

QUICK HITS –

The Lina Kvokov-Kim Couture “fight” was disturbing. I truly felt sad for Kvokov, who would basically turn her back to Couture every single time she got hit. I respect anyone who enters a cage, ring or octagon. But this fight should have never happened. Besides general cage experience, I can’t imagine what Couture got out of it.

So Bobby Southworth loses his light heavyweight title in controversial fashion and we don’t get to hear from him? We heard from him at the top of the show before his fight, so why not after the fight? A champion loses his belt and we don’t hear from him? C’mon, people.

Finally, they interview Cung Le, but we never get to see him on camera? Not that I personally needed to see him, but it just seemed awkward. Matter of fact, we didn’t even see Rice and Rutten during their final wrap up of the show…we saw random shots of the arena instead as they spoke. What, they couldn’t find a camera to shoot their own talent with?

THE FINAL WORD –

This was obviously a big card and telecast for HDNet/Strikeforce, but you wouldn’t have known it by watching tonight. It doesn’t take network dollars to produce a high-energy show. As a viewer, I felt like the production was simply going through the motions. The bad lighting, horrible audio and overall low energy were unfortunately the highlights of this card for me.

I now realize why Zuffa/UFC doesn’t ever change its own production values, either. Not that they need to. But, if they can be the television giants that they are while networks and promotions like HDNet/Strikeforce produce cards like this, why should they change? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Well, this one’s broke and someone needs to come fix it. Now.

30 COMMENTS
  • Davey D says:

    Was it really that bad, Lee? I didn’t get to see the the show but from seeing result’s. The fight’s themselves must’ve been entertaining, no? It seems they clearly didn’t use all their resources according to your story. Oh well…I guess if Strikeforce gets that deal with NBC, maybe the production value will increase? NBC surely knows how to organize an MMA event right?

    You have a background in television…you might consider sending in a resume to some of these smaller org’s. Either that or you could be a freelance consultant?

  • Handover Fist says:

    I just don’t get the appeal of Bas Rutten, don’t think I every will.

    Using the word “Gimmick” to describe his commentary is being kind.

  • Ertz says:

    Yea Bas is horrible. He seemed more interested in the tattoo’s of the fighters and the boob jobs of the girls in the floor seats. I mean c’mon, saying “that’s a nice view” 2 or 3 times is totally ridiculous.

  • RJA says:

    I do like bas,but i have to agree with the above statements.He’s just not announcing material.I think he even makes kenny rice uncomfortable sometimes.There just doesn’t seem to be any fluidity between them,even on inside the mma i get the same feeling at some points in the show.

  • Mike says:

    seriously? you compared HDNet’s broadcast to HD porn? what a freaking lowlife/amateur. I thought you had higher journalistic standards, Sam. I mean, we know Morgan and Huckaby are lowlife stoners, but its not only the design that is making this site tank.

    Editor’s Note: Everyone in entitled to their opinion but to say 5 Oz. of Pain is “tanking” is simply not accurate. Earlier this week we broke our record for page views in a month and the month isn’t even over. The site continues to grow bigger each month. BTW, for the record, I enjoy the writing of Lee, Adam Morgan, and Michael Huckaby, as do many other people that read their articles on a routine basis. If I didn’t like their work, they wouldn’t be writing for 5 Oz. Also, if you’re reading this Lee, I love the new format.

  • Lee Gerowitz says:

    Davey D, the production value was, as I stated above, pretty bad. I actually like the Strikeforce shows on NBC, but they’re pre-produced and not live. A completely different element,

    I am fortunate enough to have other work in television right now, but the focus of this column is not about me. I simply make a quick mention of my credentials just so the column has SOME validity to it. But getting a job out of these companies is not a goal of it:)

  • Robert says:

    Bas Rutten’s humor may not be for everyone but he’s more tolerable than Frank Trigg always referencing himself or his training partners constantly. I think people are being a little harsh on the shows production it was not as bad as some are making it out to be. Bottom line I thought it was a good show and I hope Strikeforce ends up putting live events on NBC.

  • Josh says:

    Lee, you have to remember this as well – UFC owns both the in-arena production team and the broadcast team. HDNet has an obligation to produce, but its Strikeforce that is running the show in-arena, and they are somewhat at the mercy of that. Same with the Dream broadcasts. I’m sure HDNet would prefer that they not be 6 hours long (they do cut them down in the replay), but they are at the mercy of DREAM in-arena production.

    the UFC has the option to go ahead and send a fighter out if the show seems to be dragging – HDNet does not. Would you rather not have watched it at all? Seems like they at least gave you something to do on a Friday night rather than listen to your neighbors slap skins.

  • ACK! says:

    As a diehard PRIDE rube, I’ll always have a soft spot for Bas’ quirky commentary. I mean, what other MMA announcer has inspired numerous viewers to get wasted at the mere utterance of a word?

  • ekc says:

    as someone who works in MMA production, the HD Net show was just horrible. plain and simple. on every aspect of a prodcution, and its not the money… it bad directors, bad camera crew, bad audio, bad lighting, bad announcing,… i mean, the cameras were not even white balanced or exposed properly.

    a true embarrassment to MMA i feel.

    and the fights were all pretty bad on top of that…. but i was nice to see scott smith get a win.

  • RJA says:

    I agree he does have a colorfull personallity,and his quirkyness does kind of draw you to him,wich i think is great on certain levels.But when it comes to announcing a fight,i personally want someone who’s quick to break down and anylize whats going on and bas seems to speak his own language sometimes(figuratively)speaking.

  • Davey D says:

    Lee, thanks for your response. I hope NBC and Strikeforce can work a deal to produce live events. They could agree to 4 shows in 2009 perphaps? I haven’t caught any of their late night shows just becuase I’m usually busy then. Cheers!

    I am a fan of Bas Rutten. When he and Quadros did Pride FC’s commentary, I enjoyed it. Whenever Rampage was in the mix it was gold. Good times man. I don’t see Bas to much anymore . Practice makes perfect, isn’t that what we strive for anyways?

  • Lee Gerowitz says:

    I actually like Bas a lot, just not as an analyst, which seems odd since the man obviously knows what he’s talking about. For me, it’s simply his delivery. He’s more of a personality than a television analyst. Joe Rogan, on the other hand, understands television more, having worked on non-MMA shows such as Fear Factor. So, having played the role of a lead host/announcer, he has a better understanding of how to pace himself and when to interject his comments and when not to as an MMA analyst.

    Also, ekc nailed it. There were other things that I also noticed last night that were a bit more on the technical side, but not really worth going into, because it would lose those who read this. But, I think ekc would agree with me when I say that if you worked on that production last night, there is no way you walk out of that show and say, “Stellar show, guys and gals.”

    Thanks for the comments, keep them coming.

  • modogg says:

    you hit it on the spot with the Lina-Couture fight, the ref should have called it earlier, because it was paifully obvious that Lina was not ready for the fight. And this is quite assuming on my end, but I have to assume that maybe Dana is on to something with saying not enough women are in MMA to get heavily into it. Maybe what happened to Lina was that she doesn’t fight at a big camp like Xtremem Couture, and maybe she doesn’t have other females to prepare for fights with. It was not fun to watch that fight, it was like a youtube video of a H.S. kid getting beat up.

    And no comment on Scott Smith’s comments after his win!! I was quite surprised with his reference to Tom Attasio, was it known that he “had a life partner named Lance”. I don’t think Scott was “outting” Tom, and in my opinion it doesn’t matter to me, but i know not everyone feels that way. Will this be a big deal? And i don’t think Dana would stoop to using it for one of his rants, and let’s hope he doesn’t

  • HexRei says:

    ekc on November 22nd, 2008 1:23 pm

    as someone who works in MMA production, the HD Net show was just horrible. plain and simple. on every aspect of a prodcution, and its not the money… it bad directors, bad camera crew, bad audio, bad lighting, bad announcing,… i mean, the cameras were not even white balanced or exposed properly.

    a true embarrassment to MMA i feel.

    and the fights were all pretty bad on top of that…. but i was nice to see scott smith get a win.

    The production wasn’t great but who cares? I had no problem understanding what was going on in the cage and really that’s what matters to me. With the exception of the Kim Couture “fight” I actually enjoyed the bouts. I don’t mind early KO’s and you can’t really put the blame for a cut stoppage on Strikeforce.

    If you dislike Strikeforce so much, don’t watch it! They simply don’t have the resources or experience to put on shows with the UFC’s level of production. But as long as they are showing good fights, it just doesn’t bother me much, MMA is about the fights not the camera angles.

  • Lee Gerowitz says:

    HexRei…I’m glad you gave your opinion because there are viewers out there who don’t care about the production and only care about the fights. Having said that, this column is one that is based solely on the production of televised MMA events. I’m not here to provide predictions and expert analysis on MMA cards. But I appreciate your opinion because I know there are others who agree with you.

    Also, HDNet is not free to most viewers. For me to get it, it is part of an HD package that I have to pay for. So, if it’s part of an exclusive package, yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing some quality out of it. Especially from a network that sells itself on bringing high definition mixed martial arts programming into our homes.

  • Cash says:

    Lee, I hope you get a chance to watch a dream card. I LOVE the look and feel of their events. I’ll grant you 5 or 6 hours is an investment, and you’ll be pulling your hair out over the pacing of the event. But they are generally visual brilliance.

  • Lee Gerowitz says:

    I actually have caught a bit of DREAM and absolutely will do one of these on them some day.

  • yomomma says:

    What about the FIGHTS??????????

    Who gives a rats arse about all that stuff. i mean to a degree it’s important, but come on…MMA fans care about THE FIGHTS and the fights WERE GREAT.

    How the F**** could you enjoy anything when your critiquing the lighting and all other stuff. Geez man……

    you take up a whole article saying what’s wrong with the production and barely mention the fights……..

  • borocker says:

    I felt like the fights were fine but I agree with Lee that the production was horrible. For the record I pay an extra $17 per month for HD. In most cases it’s well worth it….not this time. Thanks for a great column Lee.

  • G-DUB says:

    Solid article Lee … I couldn’t agree with you more and production value DOES INDEED significantly impact the entertainment value (and thus my enjoyment) of fight cards. Some people like fine wine …. others can’t tell the difference between a Chateau Lafite and a California Chablis.
    It is absolutely because of production value that I will not be purchasing the upcoming Affliction show. It was so horrible the last time around that I felt like a schmuck for coming $40 out of pocket. Until I hear that they’ve made some serious improvements in production, I’m not chancing getting taken again. Especially these days, people want their money’s worth. In that respect, the UFC never lets the customer down.

  • Robert says:

    I can’t believe that Lee agrees with this ekc you honestly think the Strikeforce card was an embarrassment to mma, come on talk about going overboard with the criticism,and for someone to say that they aren’t ordering the up coming Affliction card because they had some technical issues the first time must becoming from a casual mma fan because the card looks great and if you felt like a “schmuck” for paying $40 for the first show which was pretty good,then you must have felt like a big jackass if you’re one of the people who shelled out $45 dollars for UFC 90.

  • Aaron says:

    I whole heartedly agree that the production of this event was flat… There seemed to be a lot of ‘audioless’ air time, especially after the decision was announced. I was sitting there waiting for Kenny or Bas to say something. Lee makes some good points in this article that if implemented, could really improve the enjoyability for the viewer. That being said, I thought it was good card with some good fights, aside from the Couture debacle.

  • Lee Gerowitz says:

    It’s interesting to hear how some people don’t care about the production quality of the event, while others do.

    Some who are commenting are conveniently forgetting the point of this particular column, which is to focus on the PRODUCTION VALUE of these televised events…not the fights themselves. There are other articles on this very site that give that angle. While I have given my opinion on a card’s fights before, it is not the focus of this column.

    Plus, it’s the fighters who execute the fights, not the people producing the card for TV. Those producing the telecast are responsible for everything but the outcome of the fights. Thanks for the comments, positive or negative.

  • Caidel says:

    I must agree with most of the Lee’s points. This broadcast was definitely one of the worst one’s I’ve seen on HDNet (and I saw most of them…) I don’t know if it is because Strikeforce has a different crew in arena or something, but HDNet can actually make a lot better job on events they are covering completely (like Sportfight events, Ring of Combat events and so…).

    For me, fights are the most important thing, but at the same time, good production can make me enjoy it more (which don’t really works other way – if the production really sucks, it doesn’t really destroy the enjoynment for me but it could be better). I agree that things like statistics, interesting facts and storylines are a great asset and made a lot of difference.

    I would also like to see have their commentating team either changed or filled with some new staff. As much as I like Bas, he really repeats himself a lot (when you saw a few events, it doesn’t matter that much, but if you saw a lot of them, it is being very obvious. He knows what is he talking about, but at the same time, he is not really good as a comentator, because he fails at communicating his wisdom… It is mostly about cliches, propagating body blows and so. I don’t have a big issue with that, but still, I would prefer to see also other teams in work. Ron Kruck wasn’t that bad when he filled for a Kenny of Bas…

    BTW: Quality of the picture… Well, I’m not American and I don’t really have a possibility to view PPV’s or other broadcasts legally, so I download everything from internet :) Bonus is, that I download practically everything, from UFC to smallest shows that make it to the TV. From this POV, HDNet are gods, because everything that is broadcasted sooner or later can be viewed also by me :) At the same time, when I compare rips of normal UFC show and HDNet broadcasts, HDNet broadcast is picture-quality wise several class higher… And I’m talking about ripped video, not real thing.

    Fightwise, it was a average event – quite a lot of fights unfortunately ended on the ground with not too good groungame – no subs whatsoever. Smith-Martin was good (although short), Couture-Kvokov a mismatch and other three bouts were average. I’m not complaining though, this is noone’s fault, things like that just happen.

    LEE: I would also like to see your PFTC on some of the smaller HDNet broadcast, for example 5.12. – MFC 19

  • Sam Caplan says:

    I wanted to add one thing… I definitely do love the new format of Lee’s column but I wanted to state that I couldn’t disagree with him more about Jimmy Lennon Jr. Jimmy Lennon Jr. is the man. It’s as simple as that.

  • Jeremy says:

    I see that the CSAC did no drug testing for this event. Appears it had to do with the new commisioner revamping the drug testing system, which he says will be out next week. Let’s see how, if any, things change in CA.

  • Anibal Alejandro Jaramilla says:

    Lee – You picked an interesting show to critique. I heard thru the MMA grapevine that HD.net had a new producer for that show. Not sure if this is truth or not. I have friends that work for HD.net in their Texas offices. Apparently their old producer is no longer with them. It show you how little they care about HD production as I thought there shows kept getting better and better and better and then they took a grande step backwards last week. Also, as far as budgets go – there budgets are terrible and it does affect everything. More money buys more and better staff and more time to organize and trouble shoot – “practice and preparation” days, etc, which the UFC always has I hear…I hear that the HD.net is cheap – much more cheap than they should be with Cuban’s billions available. Their philosophy is “just get it on the TV” and there is a sense of sloppiness that comes from the top down. Plus dealing with a MMA team like Strikeforce is a factor – there’s a reason why Dana has nice things to say about them – he has no fear of them – another low budget operation. Maybe HD.net and Strike deserve eachother! Adios from Monterrey, Mexico! Viva MMA!

  • Lee Gerowitz says:

    Who is this Sam Caplan? How dare he!

    Anibal Alejandro Jaramilla…in defense of those who worked on that show – and I don’t know any of them – is that sometimes in television, the result of a production doesn’t reflect how hard those individuals worked to make that show happen.

    Sometimes, talented folks aren’t given the proper tools to execute a show properly, whether it’s because of lack of budget or whatever. Other times, the crew just isn’t good, end of story.

    For the purpose of these columns, I prefer to not know any inside information about budgets, crew, etc. It’s a bottom line thing for me: was the show good or not from a production point of view.

  • Grappo says:

    Lee, are you a producer for HowardTV? I heard Artie Lange drew “Lee Gerowitz” for the Secret Santa the other day, and 5 oz. instantly came to mind.

    It would partially explain the obsession with graphics and all things production 😉

LEAVE A COMMENT!

You must be logged in to post a comment.