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Archive for June 19, 2012

Ramblings of a Wrestling Fan – TNA Is Better Than WWE

Hello, hello. Greetings fellow wrestling lovers. It’s been a while since my last post, but that’s mainly because I grew tired of complaining about things that will never change and decided to have a more open mind about the state of Sport’s Entertainment today. I mean, come on. Does Vincent Kennedy McMahon really give a damn what we think? He’s probably sleeping on a bed made out of all the money he makes each day which is, in all likelihood, more than any of us will ever make in this lifetime. So why should he care what we think? However, that does not mean I can’t resort to my trusty laptop and my fellow L.E.W.D chaps when I feel like whining about something or another.

I don’t know if any of you noticed it lately, but there seems to have been some dramatic shift in wrestling within the big two. I don’t mean some mass exchange of talent either. I’m talking about the quality of their programming. I never thought I’d say this, but I cannot stress enough how much better TNA Impact Wrestling programming is over WWE’s current programming of Raw and Smackdown. I cannot speak for Smackdown much because I rarely watch it. I might catch it once a month if that because I have a small life outside of wrestling. Either way, TNA “seems” to be on the right track in its own weird way while WWE is making me feel like I’m wasting hours of my life each week.

I’ll start with Monday Night Raw, the flagship of WWE programming. Honestly, who actually–as of right now–think three hours of Raw is a very good idea? If you’re looking forward to three hours of a snoozefest then either you’re being completely optimistic or you’re insane. Most L.E.W.D readers, with the exception of the few TNApologists we get, are often optimistic so we’ll go with that. And I hear your optimism. I have heard many arguments as to why three hours of Raw is a good idea.

For instance, some people are hoping the first hour of Raw is dedicated to FCW/NXT hopefuls that want to main event someday. That’s actually a good idea, but I don’t exactly see that happening. I feel like it will be the same “business as usual” attitude with Cena closing the show each week. No Way Out gave us jumbled up tag team match and the end result was a future title match featuring Young and O’Neil versus Kingston and Truth. I guess I could get behind the idea of this fresh new tag team, but WWE’s track record with tag teams as of late hasn’t led me to believe they are ready to get behind the tag team division full force. If that were the case, the Hart Dynasty would have never been “screwed”, The Usos may have had a strong push for the belts and Epico and Primo never would have lost the belts to begin with to two main event level superstars who were thrown together as a tag team. Why not use the tag teams you already have and let main event stars main event?

In the case of Jerishow, they had a purpose which was, and I am assuming here, to revamp the tag team division and it worked for a while, but like most everything in WWE these days, it fizzled out somewhere down the line. I will say though, that the hope–possibly false, but hope nontheless–lies in the fact that WWE currently has more tag teams these days. At No Way Out we saw the Usos, Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, Epico/Primo and Young, O’Neil. There’s also Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks which I think they don’t often get the credit they deserve, but as you can see, there’s clearly some kind of tag team division forming. Does this mean we’ll get to see the tag titles defended on a regular basis rather than just as a random filler for pay per views? Well, during three hours of Raw there’s certainly plenty of time for decent tag team action.

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Cyndi: Better smile kiddo. By 2012, all of your accomplishments will be buried by no talent eye candy they call Divas. Just enjoy the moment…

From tag team action, we move right along to women’s wrestling which is actually what finally pushed me into sorting my thoughts. On last night’s Raw, we saw an appearance by none other than WWE Hall of Famer Wendi Richter along with Roddy Piper and Cyndi Lauper, her former manager. The crowd was absolutely dead for this segment. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen such a dead crowd since Nascar drivers attempted to guest host Raw. It was that bad. Some feel like Heath Slater saved that segment, but to be honest, I don’t think anything except Sweet Chin Music could have saved it. Shawn should have been teleported from his couch and sent in to superkick everyone in the ring, including the writers who thought this segment was a great idea.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of all those legends (including Lauper) who were in the ring, but the segment was just cringe worthy. Not only that, but it made me feel sorry for the ladies due to the fact that nobody seemed to care. The crowd popped BIG time for Vader, another person whom we haven’t seen on WWE programming in years and yet when Wendi Richter, another legend, makes her way to the ring there’s no pop. There’s nothing and it makes me think about how WWE has ruined everyone’s perception of women’s wrestling. In a nutshell–the Divas get no love, not even the ones who paved the way.

Layla and Beth Phoenix did a fantastic job during their match at No Way Out. I say fantastic by WWE’s standards because any smart “wrestling” fan knows that those women weren’t exactly tearing it up like Marti Belle or LuFisto. (Yeah I know who they are. I might not watch them often, but I do know them.) But for a WWE women’s wrestling match, it ranked up there with Michelle McCool and Layla’s match before McCool retired. I was entertained, people discovered Layla actually has moves, and they (Layla/Beth) got a great deal of time to tell a story which is what helps wrestling fans get into the match. When there’s no kind of story going on, it makes it hard–at least for me–to invest in that person. When I started watching wrestling, women were actually allowed storylines. They worked the mic–quite often–and even had decent length matches. Of course, they weren’t always five and ten minutes, but if there’s a good story going on, there is no need for a ten minute match each week. Segments are used to keep people interested and invested in that character so it all works out.

These days though, it is very hard. AJ Lee, who is currently the only interesting Diva in WWE programming right now, doesn’t get the mic very often. However, she IS involved in a major storyline and people are beginning to like her. Rose Mendez is a “manager” for Epico and Primo, but no one cares because she never speaks for them often. She doesn’t do the things women like Sherri Martel used to do. Only Vikki Guerrero is playing the part of the classic female manager. She doesn’t wrestle often, but you can bet her Dolph Ziggler is gaining a following. Not only that, but she gets a reaction. I just think it’s sad that the women are only seen as a bathroom break and that a legend like Wendi Richter got absolutely no love from the crowd. I would say, “Shame on you WWE fans”, but if WWE cared more about their women, so would the people who watch their programming.

From WWE’s hatred of women, we now turn to the main event scene. Punk and Bryan have been tearing up as of late. I’m sure it may not compare to their old Ring of Honor stuff, but by WWE standards it’s been great stuff. Even Sheamus has been kicking a whole lot of ass lately and yet that isn’t enough to make two hours of Raw and a three hour WWE pay per view exciting. In the case of No Way Out, I do not think it was a bad show. The match between Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler was very entertaining and had many wanting more. It was a great way to set the tone for the show and yet, as usual, WWE finds a way to ruin such momentum.

Cody and Christian’s match was sorta just there. It only got good near the end. It’s not Christian’s fault, but I don’t feel like Cody’s there yet. The crowd did not seem so hot for that match. The Santino match absolutely killed the pay per view. The crowd obviously, did not appreciate it for they shouted “boring” very loudly. I’m sure that gets edited out for the DVD copy, but that match had no business on the pay per view. Some folks complained about Ryback, but honestly, he didn’t kill the momentum–the Suits match did. The triple threat match was great and should have closed a sour show, but the Cena match closed it. While some people hated that, the crowd certainly popped for Cena so your opinions of Cena closing a show are irrelevant.

But despite No Way Out being watchable, TNA’s Slammiversary kicked No Way Out’s ass six ways from Sunday. Hear that TNA fans? I am openly admitting the fact that I enjoyed a TNA pay per view more than a WWE one and I’ll do you one better. TNA programming, as of late, is BETTER than WWE’s. Yes folks. We’re finally reaching the point of my ramblings. WWE programming seems to drag on and on from one show to the next in the span of two hours. By the time 11pm hits, I’m already half way asleep only having forced myself to stay awake long enough to see John Cena. If WWE is putting me to sleep in two hours, I have no doubt by 10pm, I will not be able to stand much more of it.

I am not, by any means, saying WWE sucks. That isn’t true. It doesn’t suck completely, but it’s mundane, mediocre and predictable. It’s the same old routine. You get your opening 10 to 20 minute promo, followed by a match that will have at least one commercial break, pointless backstage segments with random Zack Ryder, another match, a Diva sighting, a Punk or Bryan match to save the show and then Cena to close it out. Even the damn matches are routine. Its like each match is paced slow and methodically that I often find myself zoning in and out–even during the good ones–because there’s no quick action. No, I’m not saying each match needs that Rey Mysterio pace, but at least in TNA, we get a variety. The matches are not all the same. Not all of them are fast paced, but they don’t seem to drag either. You might get an Aries/Xion match to start things off followed by something a little less quick such as Abyss and someone else. Then you might get a Knockouts match which isn’t at all like a Divas match.

To be fair, I was concerned at one point, but after last week, it looks like things are shaping up again for the ladies of TNA. My point is that TNA has learned (or so it appears) that in a two hour live show, one must keep the audience’s attention and you can only do so much in two hours. Last week there was way more ring action than segments. WWE–that’s another problem. They tend to talk entirely too much during a broadcast and that’s going to keep me from watching, especially when its the same old people holding a mic each week.

I urge all of you to give TNA a chance. They’ve put on two great shows and a great pay per view, but don’t get the ratings to show for it. I actually QUIT watching TNA for months. I think I quit right around November of last year and only just recently got back into it. Even if you’ve never watched TNA, I guarantee you’ll recognize old WWE superstars. That is how I got into the show to begin with. I saw people that I recognized and decided to give it a shot. No, TNA isn’t perfect and God I despise Hogan.

However, I won’t quit watching while they’re trying. If everyone who’s always tooted their nose up at TNA gave it a shot, I think you all would be pleasantly surprised. In fact, you can watch full episodes of TNA on YouTube and looky here. I did you the favor of looking up last week’s show so you can enjoy it. Watch with an open mind and prepared to see wrestling and not that methodical, slow, boring, predictable stuff you see every Monday Night. When TNA actually does something right, they deserve to be watched. With WWE’s epic permanent move to three hours, it’s hard to see a bright future when they’re only advertising returning legends rather than the new generation while current shows are boring everyone to death. Dixie Carter, keep up the good work and with that, I’m finally shutting the heck up,

–T


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