It's Still Real to Me, Dammit!

Booking 101

Stop And Go

A few months ago, every single episode or Raw and SmackDown furthered the storyline that The Shield was gonna break up. Now, they appear stronger than ever. They’re even being booked like babyfaces while being aligned with the heel Authority. While fighting ‘the director of operations’ and HHH’s old DX buddies. This… is retarded. Yes, I WILL find something to complain about if this is fixed, but… WWE has to stop pushing and depushing, turning guys face and heel every other week, and teasing breakups and groups forming, then doing nothing with it.

Recently I was thinking back to 2011, when R-Truth was the best heel in WWE. Not Miz and certainly not CM Punk, who had yet to cut his ‘pipebomb’ promo. I never thought I’d be here for R-Truth in a main event capacity, but he did it. I honestly wanted to see him win the belt, not even for ‘Cena-nough’ reasons. He main evented ‘Capitol Punishment’ for the belt and at Survivor Series against Cena and Rock, with Miz as his partner. WWE established he and Miz as a dangerous tag team, and I’ve written here before… the seeds were planted for a faction led by John Laryngitis, starring Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Nash, The Miz and R-Truth.

Go back to SummerSlam 2011. Kevin Nash jackknifed Punk half to death, allowing Alberto Del Rio to cash in MITB. At HIAC, ‘Awesome Truth’ helped Del Rio beat Cena and Punk to win the belt back. At Vengeance, ‘Awesome Truth’ hit Cena with the ‘Lil Jimmy Finale’ or whatever they called their tag team finisher to help Del Rio retain. And they dropped that shit simply because R-Truth failed a drug test for weed. It would have been WAY more interesting than everything that has happened since then.

I look at Ryback and remember just a year and a half ago he was unbeaten and looked unstoppable. Then they had him lose every PPV match for a good year, changed his gimmick like 36635324 times, made him a Paul Heyman guy for like two months and now he’s in a wack tag team with the other failed ‘Paul Heyman guy’, Curtis Axel. Who they gave up on after never making him legit by having him win like 10 matches by screwy finish. No one has ever been legitimized by winning by countout or DQ repeatedly. Then they threw him into a tv feud with CM Punk where he never won once and it was pretty much over from there.

WWE likes taking guys they’re ruining with lame gimmicks that don’t get over and slapping them together with other rejects to form jobber tag teams. Jack Swagger was with Ziggler last year, Cesaro this year. Now Cesaro is getting over inexplicably (fake smarks cheering heels whose ‘work’ they appreciate) and I have no faith that when they break up ‘The Real Americans’ he’ll be in a good way. The Usos were jobbers last year who started to get hot, but lost like 35232252 tag title matches before winning on Raw. Now they’re going to defend on the Mania pre-show. Yay.

Everything that’s happening to Daniel Bryan is REALLY a ‘fuck you’ to CM Punk, who walked out on a TV feud with Kane and a Mania match with HHH. Daniel Bryan was reportedly in line to face Sheamus. Again. And this is after he joined the Wyatt Family for two weeks. I’m still pissed about that and how much potential THAT had.

HHH came out with his golden shovel and buried Fandango. (Hi, Quinn!) There was no good reason to point out that this time last year, Fandango was in line to become IC champ after debuting at Mania with a win over Chris Jericho… but he got injured and they’ve jobbed him out since… and now ‘Fandangoing’ isn’t as popular. NIGGA THAT’S YOUR FAULT! Truth be told, the Yes Movement would die if Daniel Bryan got jobbed out every week and at every PPV. But, he is trolling. Quite successfully, I might add. People think Bryan is being buried in high profile matches and segments all designed to get you to feel sympathy for the underdog who has only lost clean once that I can remember, since SummerSlam.

Anyway… my point has been made. You can look at Randy Orton since SummerSlam and see how shitty the booking is. From week to week, IS Orton face of the company? IS The Authority behind him? ARE they unified? WILL Orton win a match on TV as champion? I have no clue but odds are… no. Batista has been booked weak as fuck too, which is how I KNOW he’s getting the belt. They gotta cut this bullshit out and come up with a plan to build stars and then stick to it, or they’ll keep having to pay old men to come back.


Made Men

John Cena is really the only true MADE wrassler in WWE. By that, I mean he’s so big he transcends the sport of professional wrasslin. THIS is why WWE brought back The Rock and Batista and Brock Lesnar. Those guys have done movies or, won a legitimate fighting championship. I have my theories as to why this is.

Only a moron has paid attention to the last good decade of wrasslin and not noticed that WWE was ill prepared for all of the deaths, defections and retirements of top talents. Go back to WrassleMania XX. Since then… Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit died. Edge retired. The Rock left for a good seven years and techically never came back. Same for Brrrrrrrrrrrock Lesnar who tried football before becoming UFC WHC. Chris Jericho has come back and left repeatedly. Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy are languishing in some unknown promotion. Batista and Bobby Lashley left to try MMA.

At this point fans would both welcome the intrigue of these guys coming back part time and cry “the young guys are being buried”

Randall Keith Orton is the very picture of what that transition did to WWE. He came in at the same time as Cena, but did not have the character and personality of Cena to stay off drugs and not catch an attitude when he’s trapped in the midcard for protacted periods. Orton has spent most of his career getting beat the fuck up by The Undertaker, HHH and John Cena. Those losses cannot be unseen. SO… now Taker only wrassles at Mania and makes an odd appearance… HHH goes maybe two three times a year. Cena is that guy so entrenched as “The Man” it’s too much for him to put over the FACT that Orton beat him clean for the WHC at TLC… then ‘bury’ him in a promo declaring their rivalry over once he won a good yet forgettable match on Raw. Orton has never at ANY point been ‘the man’. When HHH roamed the Earth, Orton was his footstool. Now, even when he’s touted BY HHH as the ‘face of the company’ it’s just empty words because they refuse to book him like he can hold his own against ANYONE. Counting XXX, Orton will have been in four WrassleMania title matches. He. Won. One.

The point of that last paragraph: Randy Orton has arguably everything but the comportment to be a TRUE superstar… and WWE has consistently treated him as second rate. And that’s why bringing back old guys is necessary, because Orton fatigue is as real as Cena fatigue. But, beating Orton just isn’t WORTH as much as beating Cena WOULD be, if they had him ACT like the class act he allegedly is. Honestly… my worst fear is that hypothetically speaking, Cena will drop the title to Roman Reigns next year… and WWE will do everything in its power to make it more about Cena losing than Reigns winning. Listen… I’m not a Cena hater at all. I just wish they’d fucking use him right to build new stars.

There’s this short guy who is very popular amongst all demographics, although he reportedly does not draw money or ratings yet. They let him beat Cena clean… and ever since then he’s just been a guy hovering between midcard and main event status. Fans aren’t dumb… they won’t put money into a guy they know the promotion won’t put the machine behind. Ratings and tshirt sales and network subscriptions would probably go up if they booked him right. As it is… people are just watching and waiting… HOPING they do the right thing, fearing that if and when they do… noooooooo one will care by then.

There was this guy that used to work for WWE that cut a scathing promo that made him very popular amongst the fake ass smarks. They did NOT allow him to beat Cena clean… he won because of outside interference and then because the special guest referee didn’t see Cena’s foot on the rope. They still sold a shit ton of “Best in the World” tshirts. At one point… this man’s merch was outselling Cena’s. WWE then showed its faith in him by having him drop the belt, and as I’ll never get tired of writing… he won it back three months later after losing much of that momentum losing to HHH for no apparent reason and held the belt over a year. A year that saw him still take a backseat to whatever Cena was doing. And he was promised ANOTHER match with HHH… and he left. Cuz fuck it. The ‘glass ceiling’ he referenced in that promo is still intact.

So. I look at Big E and see a guy devoid of personality. Nothing about him is marketable except that he LOOKS like an action figure. Everytime he speaks he SOUNDS like he was fed scripted material, and makes him plain like vanilla ice cream. I look at Cesaro and see a guy who’s had dumb gimmick after dumb gimmick slapped on him. Right now, ‘The Swiss Superman’… is a ‘Real American’. They’re gonna end that soon… but I’m scared they’ll have him yodeling again. I’m fearful Bray Wyatt will be another offering on the altar of the Temple of Cena. Roman Reigns… can do no wrong… but I have little hope they won’t do him wrong.

Cena is approaching 40. It’s time to START putting the machine behind Roman Reigns. They’re off to a decent start… but we’ll see. I get that in pro wrasslin… Hogan did the nWo thing in his 40s and damn near put WWE out of business and he and Ric Flair would STILL wrassle if they let them. Facts are, only so long you can hitch your cart to old men like Batista. I’m just saying…


Wrestling Fans Are Very Stupid

There are two places I go when I need a belly laugh: the threads on Wrestlezone, and the comments on IGN. There you will find all the trolling and the most hairbrained logic ever known to man. Today I saw a thread about how Randy Orton needs to be reduced from main eventer to lower midcarder and thought: THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WWE HAS TO CHANGE ITS PLANS TO CONSIDER!?!

I watched Triple H: Thy Kingdom Cometh on Netflix the other night and thought to myself… HHH was great and I don’t think nepotism had anything to do with it. If anything he had to be that much better, so that he wouldn’t feel in his own heart that he got where he did from banging the boss’ daughter. Plus, this is the guy who gave us multiple iterations of DX. He does know what is best for business, and if WWE listened to the IWC (if it was like it is now) those eras would have completely sucked.

That said… I watch SmackDown every week and usually come away thinking SmackDown is better than Raw. Because SmackDown tends not to focus on these convoluted storylines, and focus on straight WRASSLIN. There is also less of a focus on the bigger stars. What many people forget is Raw gets better ratings not because of what day it comes on, not because of the storylines, but BECAUSE people want to see the stars. Batista’s return allegedly popped 700,000 more viewers. People watched the Rumble to see him return to in ring action and KNEW they didn’t bring him back to not have him in the main event of Mania.

In previous eras… let me exemplify: WrassleMania X7… the main event was future movie stars Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. On the undercard there was a 2 fall match where Chris Jericho and Chris “He Never HAPPENED” Benoit took the European and IC titles off Kurt Angle. NO ONE can tell me Rock and Austin are better wrasslers than those three. And I will bitch slap you if you try to tell me those three would have sold WrassleMania. At WrassleMania 3 Hogan and Andre were the big draw but Macho Man and The Dragon had what is considered one of, if not the GREATEST matches in Mania history for the IC title. I don’t think Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat sell PPVs as the main event.

WWE’s booking mirrors the economy: The upper and lower classes are squeezing the middle. Everyone is a jobber now. Only a few rise from jobber to main eventer. There IS no middle. Only jobbers fight for midcard belts, for the most part. The midcard does nothing to elevate guys like The Shield, because once they held the tag and US titles, they were feuding with jobbers WWE tried to sell as credible threats to guys that demolished the main eventers. Back in the day, the technicians in the ring WERE the midcard. The Hart Foundation. Mr. Perfect. Chris Jericho, Benoit, etc.

Now that there is only one world title, it would be best for business if Daniel Bryan went for the IC title when not in the main event picture. The belts are props that are used to make matches and feuds seem more important. Now, dumbass wrestling fans think the title elevates a wrestler. WELL I’VE GOT BAD NEWS: The wrassler elevates the title. I remember people were complaining that Orton and Cena were in the unification match… dog, they were PERFECT for that match, because you had two guys who were in developmental at the same time, debuted around the same time, that had accrued 25 world championships at the time of the match. These two have defined WWE for the last decade.

Let me remind you of something that you may have forgotten: The SAME IWC crying that WWE doesn’t listen to its fans… remarked that Santino Marella was more over than the World Heavyweight Champion… Daniel Bryan. THIS is why who you cheer and chant for doesn’t matter. Just two years ago Santino. Motherfucking. Marella. was more over than Daniel Bryan. Nearly three years ago everyone loved some guy named CM Punk. Now that he’s gone people who were saying he was stale are chanting his name at house shows and blowing up the WWE facebook page with #WeWantPunk. You motherfuckers don’t know WHAT you want.

Lemme tell you what EYE want. Orton versus Batista does not have a compelling story behind it. I don’t want to see Cena versus Batista again in the Mania main event. Christian and Cesaro ain’t happening. That’s right. It would be best for business if Daniel Bryan leaves Elimination Chamber as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Then in about 20 minutes have The Authority screw him out the belt at Mania. Dummies will cry burial (Hi, Quinn) and moan and bitch and not see the bigger picture that Extreme Rules will be in Seattle, where Daniel will win again. Yep. Batista will be better as a heel. Part of me hopes for a new Evolution, starring HHH, Batista and Roman Reigns. That would be dope. Plus Orton could turn face/tweener and try to bring down The Authority, maybe even ironically help Bryan win the title back.

Yeah. The same people crying how much WWE sucks watch every tv show and PPV. Say Cena and Orton and Batista suck and buy their merch. Then when WWE gives CM Punk or Daniel Bryan the belt the ratings fall off the face of the earth then you make excuses about how they’re booked.

Let me ask you a question. When Daniel Bryan was a heel champion, would you have had him beating up The Big Show and Mark Henry? Yes? You’re a moron. No? You realize that’s why he’s not a credible TOP guy right? Credible main eventer? Yes. Top guy when men built like real men exist? No.

When Hulk Hogan roamed the earth, a lot of you smarks would have rather pushed HBK and Bret Hart because they’re better wrestlers, right? WELP… there was this little thing called the Monday Night War, where it WAS HBK and Bret Hart up against Hulk Hogan’s nWo vs Sting and Goldberg’s WCW… AND WWE WAS GETTING OBLITERATED. But, keep on believing you know what’s best for business, mates.

I hope HHH has the cojones to ignore the IWC but the brains to throw them enough bones.


Missing The Point

WWE is going to give in to its audience. Killing the Daniel Wyatt thing proved that. Wrasslin fans have very little patience these days. And rightly so. Everything is so instantaneous now. Let me give you a history lesson so you can understand how completely people are missing the point with Daniel Bryan’s booking.

In the summer of 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin won the King of the Ring, and started selling a shit-ton of tshirts reading Austin 3:16 after he defeated Jake the Snake Roberts and cut his famous “You wanna thump your bible, quoting John 3:16… well Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass” promo. He would then win the Royal Rumble and main event WrassleMania and famously pass out in a puddle of himself in the Sharpshooter. If this happens today, fake smarks cry burial, right Quinn?

Stone Cold did not win the world title until WrassleMania the next year, when, fortuitously, Bret Hart was gone and Shawn Michaels was going to leave to take YEARS off to heal his back. Austin was the ‘organically over’ star that WWE NEEDED at the time. Austin would be the cause of record merch, attendance and PPV buyrate numbers. If we are being honest with ourselves, Daniel Bryan has given us “Yes” chants. That have also been used for AJ Lee, The Big Show, and even Alberto Del Rio had fans chanting “Sí” during his five minute face turn.

Right now at this moment, The Rock is the most bankable movie star in the world. John Cena and Batista have film credits. So does Randy Orton. Unfortunately… the fact that my favorite, CM Punk and your Daniel Bryan do not look the part… plays a part in why they will never be the center of the so-called WWE Universe. If you insist that looks don’t matter I riposte that you yourself aren’t very good looking and you’ve never had a great looking girlfriend. Looks matter… a lot. Last year, I wrote a scathing reaction to CM Punk losing the WWE title to The Rock. Because I didn’t give a fuck if CM Punk looked like a prototypical WWE Superstar or not. Here we are a year later and it’s the same exact story. EYE have smartened up. A lot of my fellow ‘IWC’ members, have not learned shit.

I wonder if WWE will change plans and have Daniel Bryan lose to The Undertaker, like CM Punk did last year. I have wanted to see CM Punk main event Mania for years and it may not happen. I’ve wanted to see Lesnar lose to Taker for years and that is allegedly set in stone like Punk/HHH and Sheamus/Bryan and Wyatt/Cena and Orton/Batista. This rumored card is trash to me. I’m not even gonna waste characters on what I think should happen, except to say, the best fans can hope for is Bryan versus Undertaker. It might happen, based on all this internet vitriol and people thinking chanting and booing at the Rumble matters.

On another note, I was glad to see Roman Reigns put on a good showing at the Rumble. He. Is. Money. The only thing that can stop him is Ryback like booking. He might main event Mania next year or the year after that, because he has that look. We, all of us, need to get over this pipedream that while guys like him exist, guys like Bryan and Punk will be at the forefront.

I think both will finish their time in WWE with 5-10 world title reigns but like Punk’s 434 day reign, shit like John Laryngitis vs John Cena will be the main event. Hmm. Who was that guy CM Punk beat that night (Over The Limit) in the midcard again?


It’s Time To Complain

When was the last time The Authority appeared unified on TV? I think the main event picture has sucked ever since the fall because Randy Orton is being booked as a crybaby and a coward. When The Authority storyline ends it will just go out with a whimper simply because it’s been so all over the place. One second Orton is face of the WWE, the next he is on his own and has to prove himself, the next they believe in him again.

Why is The Shield still affiliated with The Authority but they allowed ‘The Brotherhood’ to not only get their jobs back, but hold the tag titles for months? THIS is a half complaint, because it doesn’t make sense to me, storyline wise, but in terms of how Cody and Dustin have looked, it’s been cool. Now the Old Age Outlaws are poised to get one last run with the belts. Blah.

CM Punk should win the Rumble from the number one spot, but he won’t. He’ll probably be in the last five or so to be eliminated through some screwy circumstances, because based on all rumors, he has beef with HHH and they’ll meet at Mania. Unlike Big Show, who had beef with him and no match to speak of. Another aspect of this story they’re doing wrong.

Batista is considered the favorite to win the Rumble and many assume he’ll meet Brock Lesnar at Mania. I guess.

I’m still pissed they’re blowing off the Daniel Wyatt thing.

So. The Authority thing… who will kill it? Not Cena, not Bryan, not Punk… then who? I… have no idea. I guess that lack of predictability is good… but without any logic or reason, the storylines kinda fall flat.

And I feel so ‘meh’ about all of this I’ll be even shorter than usual with nary a profanity or racial slur to be found.


NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! What was the point?

Let me get this out of the way first: At first glance, it seemed like WWE was trying to kill Bryan’s crowd heat by having him join the Wyatts. Then, I realized we were all being bitches for thinking that, because Bryan’s popularity BEGAN when he was a heel. The so-called WWE Universe is FIRMLY behind this dude. All of us in the so-called IWC love to show our smarkiness by shitting all over things that can potentially be great. I dare ONE of you motherfuckers to explain to me what we gained from Daniel Bryan being in the Wyatt Family FOR TWO WEEKS.

I had it all mapped out in my head when I thought about it. Bryan wouldn’t do jobs. The entire Wyatt Family would dominate the WWE for months. They’d fail to win the Rumble because they aren’t strong enough to beat the machine… yet. But by SummerSlam, Bryan would win the world title again. And then Bray Wyatt would want it for himself. At that point you can go one of three directions. Bryan could give him the belt a la Andre the Giant when he gave the belt to Ted DiBiase. I don’t like this because there’s no REAL payoff there. Bryan could lay down for Wyatt somewhat comically like the time Hogan poked Nash in the chest the night after he ended Goldberg’s streak. In this scenario, I’m not really for it because the story basically ends up being Bryan did all that JUST to lay down? Finally there’s the Orton vs Evolution angle where Bryan has beaten the machine, and now Wyatt wants to beat him, monster versus monster. And Harper and Rowan help screw Bryan out the belt. From here, Bryan can out-creep the creeps. He can hunt them like when Stone Cold hunted DX.

Having Bryan beat up Bray Wyatt and giving up on a potential long term feud that could carry us to next year’s Mania is pointless. In a parallel universe in which WWE follows through on nice things, Bryan, the ultimate underdog could have overcome the machine. Got screwed by the monster that helped him overcome the machine. Became an even bigger monster. Win the Rumble. Beat the monster in the main event of Mania. On its own, Bryan vs Wyatt is NOT a main event type match. But, being set up and built over a year it’d be a hell of a payoff.

You motherfuckers are really happy that Raw went off with the crowd loudly chanting yes? *deep sigh* Imagine the crowd at Mania next year with Bryan in the main event, against the guy who built him up only to try to tear him down. THIS. WAS. TWO. WEEKS. YOU CAN’T EVEN CALL THAT SHIT A BUILD! What are they gonna do now?

Bryan is not winning the Rumble this year. The Wyatts AND the machine will see to that. There is literally no one worth watching Bryan face at Mania at the moment. They’re gonna have him face Bray at Mania in the midcard now. Maybe even as the curtain jerker. What a waste.

These rumors that they’re building towards a CM Punk/HHH match at Mania are ALSO a waste. They built up all that heat between Big Show and HHH to completely blow off that angle without a match. HHH has done much to harm Daniel Bryan where THAT match would be worth caring about. The ONLY angle that makes sense to me is to have CM Punk FINALLY main event a big PPV and defeat The Authority’s champion. But… WWE is proving things that make natural sense don’t matter, so…


Give Daniel Wyatt A Chance, Dammit!

Because I’m a hypocrite, I’m going to write as though I did not excoriate WWE creative for having Daniel Bryan join the Wyatt Family last week. I’ve been seeing a lot of things echoing the points that I made, but missing the positive spin I tacked on at the very end. Because I am committed to watching five hours of WWE every week, one way or another I will give shit a chance. And I feel as though many are not seeing the bigger picture here.

First off, I’m not backing off of my stance that Daniel Bryan can never be the face of the WWE. That, at BEST he will be Mick Foley, a guy who had a lot of memorable matches and moments but not necessarily remembered as THE guy. Not considered the best. And that’s ok. I’m not one of the binary thinkers who considers everything classic or trash with no in between.

That said, I DO acknowledge that Daniel Bryan has embedded himself as one of the top five acts in WWE today. If the world were a meritocracy, he should be WWE World Heavyweight Champion TODAY. But, alas, our world is NOT fair, so… he’s not. At this moment, he is still a notch below MY guy, CM Punk as that guy who SHOULDN’T get the big push, but will because he’s just that damn good. “Pipebomb” aside, Punk has this edge to him that Daniel does not and THAT is what excites me about this angle!

When CM Punk turned heel at Raw 1000 we all knew what that meant: He was being thrown to the likes of Cena, Ryback and The Rock. Right now, after Randy Orton and The Shield, what top heels are there to work with? The Wyatts are being built up now, but they’re no main eventers. Daniel Bryan IS. Just off association, he raises the level of Bray Wyatt. I didn’t think that WWE was going to have Bryan join the group, but now that he has, it adds to the creep factor. CM Punk has an innate ability to work an audience whether he’s heel or face, so I’m looking to see if Bryan can use this angle to continue his momentum.

A lot of people are saying this ‘heel turn’ is WWE trying to kill his momentum. I am one of those people. The more I think about it, however, the more I realize, CM Punk never stopped getting good crowd heat. This past Monday, the sense that the crowd was still behind Bryan AND felt betrayed by him was portentous of how if this is done right, Bryan will be hotter than ever before! After all, Bryan’s first title reign was as a heel and that’s when the ‘YES’ chants started. Between then and now he has vacillated between heel, face and tweener. Crowd heat white hot. Let’s be real, we wrasslin fans are some complaining ass cynics. WWE has hurt us too many times. But… they’ve done right by us enough times that we keep watching.

My prediction is that this angle may well carry us into SummerSlam where Bryan will likely win the world title again and get screwed Evolution style, irony of ironies, a la Randy Orton. I think it will be cool to see him develop a darker, more twisted edge to his character, and as I have forestated, see Bray rise by association with WWE’s hottest commodity. It’ll be interesting to see if they do an angle where Bryan lays down for Bray, or if they fight and screw him out the belt(s). If this angle blows off by Mania, it was a waste of time. Speaking of which, that’s technically what this is, something to keep Bryan interesting, yet out of the title picture. Not a burial. (Hi, Quinn!)

I wasn’t pleased with how they were booked this past Monday… doing a finish where Harper gets rolled up because he was mad Bryan wanted to get the victory was foolish, in my opinion. Teasing that there will be dissension in the group points towards this breaking down before there can be an appreciable payoff. I’m not saying they should never lose, just it’s too much to have dissension in the ranks WHILE doing the same exact fucking story with The Shield.

Speaking of which, a lot of people are saying Roman Reigns needs to get better at promos to be what WWE wants him to be. I call bullshit. During his entire time with the group, he has been the strong, silent type. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to make him growl or yell Memphis style promos when his soft-spoken yet impactful style fits his look and personality so well. Watch the Piper’s Pit from the Old School Raw and you had Rollins and Ambrose talking cash shit to Piper while Reigns just sat there looking cool, yet intense. When addressed, he told Piper to cut the shit or he’ll beat his ass, more or less. Simple, but effective. Sometimes, less is more.

Related/unrelated: When are we going to see Big E Langston get to unleash this charisma I’ve heard so much about him having on NXT and Twitter? Why does WWE give so much mic time to people who suck at promos for different reasons like Orton (boring, droning delivery) and Del Rio (English as second language, seeming lack of charisma) and none to guys who ARE entertaining talkers? Iono, man. To dovetail these last two paragraphs, Big E and Roman could be future rivals for the top of WWE. The charismatic irresistible force versus the stoic immovable object.

Overall, I feel there is way more to be excited about than there is to bitch about. Batista is coming back. Sheamus returning from injury. RVD may re-sign. Brock Lesnar is in the fold. You can see new stars being made, and potentially, current stars being remade. As Daniel Wyatt would say: YES!


L.E.W.D. Booking 101: “A.F.R.O. is in business.”

I’m not one to talk about race or racial relations very often (unless I’m talking about police brutality, Hollywood or the unintended consequence of the concept of Pokemon) but when it comes to the WWE, I’m the first to say it: they don’t give a brotha a chance.  When R-Truth came into the fray and introduced Almost Dr. Xavier Woods and the Funkadactyls, he pleaded with the crowd to give a brotha (read: brotha) a chance, and I shook my head and said, “Man, they ain’t trynna give a brotha a chance…”

But that’s just my perception.  Most prominent black Superstars are relegated to background roles or unmemorable personas, such as Mr. Shuck-and-Jive R-Truth or Kofi “Always Making This Face” Kingston.   Sure, there’s Mark Henry, but even he functions as a massive, powerful continent of a man who goes in, wrecks shop, dances a bit, wrecks more shop, and leaves.  Is it awesome?  Very, but I’m greedy: I want more for my brethren in color.  I want more for the human embodiment of Torterra and his would-be protégé, the Intercontinental Champion and candidate for Venusaur, Big E. Langston.  I want to see Xavier Woods as more than just Lamont Sanford, finding himself in violent situations with his partner in crime Rollo Lawson, er… I mean Ron Killings.  What can I say: they’re both felons.

But how awkward would it be for an angle or a storyline that pushed some level of prominence on these particular Superstars just based on the shade of their skin?  The Nation of Domination worked because of what it was and when it was.  In a time of PG-13 rated angles, stories, content and foolishness, the Nation was acceptable.  This was a time where a group such as the Nation could thrive and just be seen as business as usual; it helped that it became a platform for Dwayne Johnson to grow as well. 

Doing something like that now, an angle such as the Nation, and the gods of political correctness would swoop on the world of professional wrestling faster than Kevin Nash at the Fingerpoke of Doom. 

And swooping is bad. 

As are fingerpokes. 

Unlike the world of “We are the World-ness”, I am NOT politically correct, so don’t expect me to shy away from anything.  Say an angle that DID focus on the shade of the skin existed, but at the same time, it DIDN’T exist.  Say there was a blatant idea that the black Superstars were coming together to compete with what they see as an… let’s say “unfair” system, but it wasn’t about them being “unfair” to “them”.  Would a professional wrestling company be capable of something so reasonably complex?

Over the past few months we’ve seen some more-than-simple stories, long-form exploits that have garnered just as much hate as they have praise; some might say significantly more hate than praise.  The “Best for Business” storyline has many yawning and complaining, often to their own hypocrisy considering that despite their “boredom” they watch every week (your views mean ratings).  Daniel Bryan’s rise and background battle with that same Authority is another testament to that long-form talent, but without being in the limelight the casual viewer concludes that the story is over and “burial” begins. 

Forgive me: that “burial” (hi Quinn!) begins.  The unwritten rule is that we always say… never mind.

I want to go into the concept of A.F.R.O. but it’s important to remember that the casual fan doesn’t care about long term storytelling so much a dedicated viewer such as us fine people here at L.E.W.D.  If anything, we’re even MORE critical about the long term because we have more time to critique and dismantle.  There’s a reason we spit on the Aces and Eights and Claire Lynch and anonymous Raw GM storylines so much; part of it is longevity. 

That’s the issue with a long story: you run the risk of getting boring or repetitive.  Loyal fans will stick by it, but after a while even they will turn their nose up at it.  With that in mind, you HAVE to stay entertaining.  You HAVE to stay relevant.  You HAVE to keep their attention, and as much as Ashley and Quinn may disagree with me, maybe because it’s a copied storyline or maybe because it’s of the “enemy” (my words, no one else’s) company, but I think the Magnus/AJ Styles thing still has a chance to be reasonably compelling.

It’s been done, but what hasn’t?  AJ Styles should’ve just LEFT and said “Screw you, Dixie, I’m going home!” and Magnus should just take the World Heavyweight belt he possesses that he gets on TV in about two weeks (the beauty of taped shows), but the dynamic of a king versus an uncrowned king is always something fun.  Usually.  I haven’t read the spoilers yet, outside of the fact that Magnus is the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.  Oops.  Spoiler.

Whatever you do, if it takes a while, keep it amusing. 

Exposition out of the way, let’s talk A.F.R.O.  Imagine a nation (no pun intended whatsoever) where people who get fed up with the higher ups of their society stop and leave.  They don’t leave forever, just for a while, and in that while there’s a notable absence.  Where went the massive pair of Mark Henry and Big E. Langston (who still has his title and just hasn’t been around)?  Where went the high flying yet massively pointless Kofi Kingston?  Where went the rapping Truth?  Where went the almost doctor Woods?  And you don’t ask about Ezekiel Jackson because he was gone already. 

Yes, he’s still employed in the WWE. 

You DO ask about the Funkadactyls though.  You do ask about Alicia Fox.  You might ask about Brodus Clay and Layla, but one is still in hot water with me because he dared use the phrase “main event player” to describe himself and the other… the other can do no wrong in my book.

Where did they go?  For at least a month they’re all gone.  It’s business as usual and, as usual, people are bitching and moaning about every little thing.  It’s professional wrestling and sports entertainment, that’s what you expect, but slowly and surely even the people behind the scenes, the talent and the staff, are grumbling.  The company is not doing well in their eyes, the operations are shoddy and more and more the people are saying that the company is more reckless than it’s ever been. 

Enter a business card, one with nothing more than the name Mr. H, the profession “fixer” and a phone number.  The GM sees it and, out of sheer desperation, dials, and the voice on the other end, a familiar, gruff voice, merely says, “See you in a week.”

So Brad Maddox paces in his office at the beginning of the show, blowing off any nonsense from Guerrero, trying to hurry any words from the authority, and the door to his office slowly opens.  He looks frightened, then happy, then scared.  Why?

Because who walks in by Mark Henry, dark shades on, CLEAN three-piece suit, and he’s on his phone, talking business.  Mark Henry is scary enough.  New agile Mark Henry is even scarier.  New agile Mark Henry rocking a suit and talking on a phone, demanding the attention of the person he’s standing before even as he’s on the phone is enough to make you crap a brick.  He ends his phone call and says happily, “Johnny!  Good to see you again!”

Brad: “It’s, uh… it’s BRAD, sir, my name is—”

Mark waves him off.  “Sorry, I gave you the wrong impression; you think I care.  You called me and you called the right one.  My team and I, we’ll get this company in ship shape in no time.”  He smiles.  “Ah, Franklin, it’s great to be back!”

Brad: “Uh, it’s Bra—”

Mark: “Still don’t care, Alice!  I need to look around again: my team will be taking notes throughout the show too.  Now, get out of my office.  I have musing to do.”

Brad: “I—”

Mark grabs Maddox and literally throws him out of the office.  He closes the door and sits at Maddox’s desk.  “Lashawnda better not try and correct me again.”  Then he goes to the phone.  Henry is in charge now, and slowly but surely his “team” is going to come out. 

It starts off swimmingly.  A throwaway match takes place between random mid-card number one and random mid-card number two.  Who do we see at the entrance ramp, taking notes on his tablet, speaking on his bluetooth?  Big E. Langston, not in a suit but certainly business attire, belt over his shoulder, glasses on, scoping potential competition?  Perhaps. 

The tag champions win their match later on and Woods and Truth come out, one in a suit, the other like Langston, conversing amongst each other, circling the ring but engaging in no action. 

A Divas segment backstage shows Fox, not amused, on her bluetooth, and walking on her way.  The Divas match has Layla sitting ringside, silent and watching. 

Towards the end of the show, the Unified Champion (assuming of course they refer to them as the Unified Champion) is walking backstage, pleased with his victory, smiling, already tired, and in the hallway he encounters Mark Henry.  He doesn’t look amused either; don’t let Aaron McGruder’s satire fool you: black people are NOT a jovial people.  The champion stares down Henry, Henry stares him down, and out of the blue, BAM!  A kick right in the temple, leveling the champion, and Kingston, in his suit and tie, rises from his violent strike.  Henry nods.

Henry: “Assessment?”

Kingston: “Weak.  You’d think a real champion would be ready for anything.”  He grabs the belt, shrugs and drops it right back on the champion.  “Even the belt is garbage.  We’ll have to design a new one.”

Henry: “We’ll need a new champion too.  Can’t have the face of this company smiling and looking weak.”

Kingston grimaces.  “I’m done with that smiling BS.  We done here?”

Everyone mentioned before comes up, clean, dressed to kill, not rallying behind Kingston so much as standing beside him.  Henry pulls a cigar from his jacket (I’m assuming he would smoke a cigar; he IS from Texas) and lights it.  “We have enough data to get it started then?  It was pretty easy going today but orientation is over.  Next week we hit the ground running.”  He kicks dust on the champion.  “A.F.R.O. is in business.”

——————————————————————————————

Now admit it: THAT would kick ass.  It would be great to see and it would be compelling, and the scenarios that would come from it (and believe me, I have dozens upon dozens, including having Ron Simmons as A.F.R.O.’s director of Human Resources and Wade Barrett being the “affirmative action” employee). 

But that’s just how I think.  What do YOU think?


Divisive Unified Thoughts

WWE has been trolling for the last week. First, by not using the word ‘unification’ during a title unification announcement. Then, by having hella polls and articles about people holding two titles, but never at the same time. Lastly, they made sure to close all loopholes and, as usual, book themselves into a corner by having a contract signing and WWE App poll for the title unification. As always, I’m going to complain, even though I’m mostly happy.

For one, doing the title unification NOW means it won’t happen at WrassleMania. We won’t have to throw the Rumble winner in there as the guy with no belt fighting for two belts. Think logically and whoever wins NOW… who can they possibly face at Mania? If Cena wins… do we really want to see him versus Orton, Punk or Bryan at Mania? NO. If Orton wins, Cena and Bryan are out… which leaves Punk. Some guy has been writing for months that the perfect ending to The Authority storyline is Mr. Anti-Authority taking the belt off the corporation’s choice at Mania. That guy knows shit.

I marked out when CM Punk cut his promo about being anti-authority… as I have been wondering forever when he would be inserted into that storyline. Having him get beat up by The Shield is a brilliant way to start his “underdog babyface overcomes the stacking of the deck”… which reminds me… WWE’s heel booking sucks tremendously. Am I saying every heel needs to be booked as a monster and always win clean? No, I’m not, Quinn Gammon. I do not like how WWE books Orton at all. He has always kinda come off as a whiny coward as a heel. It was off-putting as fuck to have him attack Big Show, then complain that no one helped him. To demand help against Big Show, get help, then swear he never needed help. Yes. This IS how a heel should act. Yes. I am complaining simply because I want an 11 time champion to act secure and confident.

Cena is notorious for ‘burying’ guys in his promos. Orton is notorious for having a bad attitude over how he is booked. Which I can’t blame him for. They made him youngest world champion ever… then made him a midcarder for the better part of 3 years! Cena said Orton got lazy and expected to be handed things… nigga are those the abs of a lazy person? Naaaaaahhhhhh nigga… WWE booking is RARELY about work ethic… it’s about how much McMahon excrement you can swallow and call it chocolate. Do I need to remind you about how Daniel Bryan has been world champion twice this year for less than a day or how CM Punk won, then lost, and lost to HHH of all people while in the midcard, all while being as hot as one can possibly be?

Yeah. Orton will win at TLC. He won’t win in a fair one, as Cena has lost ONE match clean this year. I won’t care. (Yes I will. Expect, at some point in the near future, to read me bitching about how in EVERY possible chance WWE has to elevate guys to Cena’s level, they intentionally fuck it up) Between HHH, Kane, and The Shield, SOMEONE will help Orton climb that ladder. The storyline is, was and WILL be… Orton has finally become accepted as the man. (Kinda like when Rock finally got his Mania win over SCSA) I still love when HHH said after SummerSlam “the lump of coal that has become a diamond” which hearkened back to his formation of Evolution promo calling Orton “the next diamond”. IF Cena wins, which he won’t… that shit will be completely pointless.

Speaking of pointless… did you remember that Dean Ambrose was the US champ? Yeah… that belt needs to go away soon. I won’t care if they unify the IC and US belts on Main Event, nigga, that shit needs to happen ASAP. A hidden benefit to shrinking the main event and midcard title pictures, is that the belts will mean more. The WHC had become what the IC belt used to be, and the IC belt became like the Million Dollar belt or Zack Ryder’s Internet belt… yeah.

Cuz I’m contrary… as I write about less belts making belts matter more, I still say the Light Heavyweight or Cruiserweight title needs to come back for Hunico/Sin Cara to truly get his shine on. I have always liked him, and if they can finally make him versus Mysterio at Mania, that match NEEDS to be for the belt. I say bring back Evan Bourne, Justin Gabriel, throw in Heath Slater, Tyson Kidd, Yoshi Tatsu (if they still have him LOL) and whoever the hell else… and have Sin Cara push Rey off the ladder and win the belt and BAM… feud.

Annnnnnnd… nothing else worth talking about, so FIN.


I Finally Understand…

I’ve written here about being for a title unification/ending the brand extension because there aren’t enough top shelf stars to fill a year of main events. Then I changed my mind, and decided that there could be two title pictures, they just need to stop putting the belt around people like my man Alberto Del Rio that kind of dilute the championship. Then John Cena became WHC again, and it seemed like WWE cared about making the WHC legit again. Annnnnnd just a few minutes ago as I type this, HHH announced they will unify the belts at TLC. I finally understand the point of the brand extension and why two titles were necessary, and still may be.

The biggest problem WWE is facing is not that they don’t have enough stars or potential stars. The problem is overexposure plus horrible booking. WWE has a guy like Alberto Del Rio on EVERY episode of Raw and SmackDown and he has fought for a world championship at damn near ever pay per view going back two years. He debuted months before the 2011 Royal Rumble and before he could connect with the audience or develop his character, he was thrust into the spotlight. He doesn’t have any charisma at all, but I think he’d be a legit main eventer with years of winning midcard titles and building real crowd heat. I just wrote about The Miz, who WAS the main event of WrassleMania, and is the inverse of Del Rio, not a technically proficient wrestler, but has charisma and can cut a promo. He has been jobbed out like a motherfucker. I’m not sure he can ever be built back up to that main event level. I hope that he can.

Cynical fans, the so-called IWC, love to say stupid shit about how John Cena and the PG era are destroying wrestling. (Yes, I’m spelling it right, Quinn) What is watering it down is seeing guys like Kofi Kingston lose every week. Before WWE thought it would be a good idea to put all the top stars on Raw every week, you could focus on writing storylines for a guy only being on one show. Now, every week you have to figure out a way for John Cena and Randy Orton to not lose clean twice. I can understand why that is difficult. The entire reason they did the brand extension in the first place… was they put Stone Cold and HHH on Raw, The Rock and The Undertaker on SmackDown. Then, every year just to keep shit fresh, they’d do a draft to move guys from show to show. They broke THAT model circa 2009. SmackDown was arguably better than Raw 2007-2008. The title picture was Batista, Edge, HHH, Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho, CM Punk and The Undertaker. LOTS of memorable matches there. Then like all those guys went to Raw. SmackDown became an afterthought.

Raw has always been Vince’s baby. Vince seems to need Raw to be the only show that matters. Which is fucking retarded when you have no less than 5 shows on tv and online a week. So all the big stars are on Raw, all the big storylines happen on Raw. Raw is recapped 46533544 times on Main Event, SmackDown, Superstars and NXT. NXT is the developmental show. Superstars is ironically named because it’s for jobbers. Main Event features jobbers and midcard level guys. SmackDown has become where we have matches they’ll repeat on Raw because THEY ASSUME NO ONE FUCKING WATCHED SMACKDOWN! My point again: Raw and SmackDown should have a separate roster evenly balanced, with two world titles.

WWE doesn’t care what its fans want though, so we’re returning to the era where storylines carry from one show to the other, with less talent and worse writing/booking. All I want is for Randy Orton to be put over Cena, and since TLC is no dq it won’t be clean and doesn’t have to be. So this probably means that WrassleMania will be trash but Daniel Bryan and CM Punk might jerk the curtain… *sigh*


WWE Thinks They’re Slick: Miz Wuz Set Up

Go back to WrassleMania XXVII. Michael Mizanin was the main event of WrassleMania. They played a wonderful video package set to “Hate Me Now” showing his meteoric rise from The Real World to WWE Champion. It’s so funny to think of that… then remember he’s facing Kofi “I do more jobs than real Jamaicans” Kingston on YouTube, where he’s BEEN on the card for most of this year. Everything SINCE WrassleMania XXXVII was the set up to his failure, and it’s OBVIOUS.

I remember the Mania match for three things. One: It was slow paced and boring. Two: The main event ended by double countout. Three: Miz won when Dwayne screwed John Cena, then suffered a similar fate when, in a foreshadowing of the next two years of booking, The Rock stood over the main event of WrassleMania. I am of the impression that WWE booking is essentially the management telling them who wins and loses and how, and they fill in everything between the entrances and the finish themselves. If that is the case, then John Cena helped paint a disasterpiece. No one was expecting Taker/HBK, Savage/Steamboat, Austin/Bret, Angle/Lesnar etc but when you THINK about THOSE Mania matches, that brutal brawl looks even MORE brutal.

It was inevitable that The Miz would lose the belt feuding with Cena. He is the picture of how not to book a guy you want to be taken seriously. He won the belt with the Money In The Bank after Orton had been beaten before a title match by the Nexus then after he finally beat Barrett. This is not a crime, winning is winning, my nigga. But then… he would feud with Orton and… Jerry Lawler? Jerry The King Lawler was literally on the last rung of climbing the WWE title ladder when Michael Cole would cost him the belt by grabbing his ankle. Orton had him beaten multiple times but was cost multiple title opportunities by CM Punk. In a nutshell… every last damn one of Miz’s successful title defenses was a screwy finish. Heel or no, this is NOT how you book a guy you want people to buy into as the real deal. And yes, I get that CM Punk and Orton feuded, as did… Lawler and Cole… Blah. Overall… The Miz came tertiary to two midcard feuds and was a stepping stone to Rock/Cena main eventing the next two years.

All of that is bad enough if that was all. No. The next year at Mania, Miz only made the card as part of a tag match. Year after that, he won the Intercontinental title on the preshow. Main event to midcard to preshow. Yikes. What did Miz do immediately after losing the belt to Cena? He jobbed to his lackey, who stopped mattering like three months later. Seriously: When was the last time you saw Alex Riley on Raw or SmackDown? Yeah.

This piece was inspired by me watching Aaron Rift’s No DQ&A video… when he was saying that Miz needed to turn heel because the face turn didn’t work. He said Miz was over in 2011 and fans were chanting “Aaaaaaaawwwwwwweeeeeeesooooooommmmmme” with him… that he could see Miz being a lesser version of The Rock, with the fans chanting his catchphrases and whatnot… Here’s where I get conspiratorial: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD “I’m The Miz… and I’m aaaaaaaaawwwwwwweeeeeeeesommmmmmmme”!?! Almost as if… WWE didn’t WANT him over as a babyface. The most they ever did for him was have Ric Flair pass him the Figure Four so he could botch it repeatedly. VERY easy to see how he is set up to fail. Look at how Daniel Bryan is never given promo time or opportunity outside of his entrance, during and after matches to lead “YES” chants. And now Big Show has successfully horned in on his crowd heat, because without “YES” by association, he’d get *crickets*. Remember when Zack Ryder got himself over with his internet show, signed over his gimmick to WWE, cancelled his show, and got jobbed into irrelevance? Seems mighty like WWE is not at all into people getting over organically, and penance is sliding down the card, doing jobs along the way. Miz is working the preshow, and The Best In The World and Goatface are going to job to The Wyatt Family. Survivor Series: Where Screwjobs Happen.

Hey… remember back a couple years when there was a little tag team called “Awesome Truth”? Remember they brought back The Rock, but they blamed The Miz for the low buyrates? Yeah. Kinda like how it’s not Orton or lack of Cena or terrible booking and cards explaining low buyrates during Bryan’s leprechaun time main eventing. Yeah.

Good luck creating stars when you refuse to push guys AND book them strong while they are hot, WWE.


What These Marks Want From… Wrasslin

I’m sitting here watching Raw Country. Big E Langston really needs a new name, new ring gear, and they shouldn’t have changed his theme. Well, at least he’s no Wade Barrett in that department. Yes, I wrote that as he was coming out to face Curtis Assho… I mean Axel. I’m gonna go ahead and say they finally end Axel’s pointless title reign and possibly his push. I, am the picture of a demanding wrasslin fan. Some people (Hi, Quinn!) might say I complain too much about wrasslin for someone who watches it faithfully. That’s when this came to me: I watch wrasslin because it’s predictable when nothing about life is, and unlike real like, 9/10 when it surprises me, I am pleasantly surprised.

Every real wrasslin fan has their fantasy booking direction for their favorite wrasslin promotion. It is, in my opinion, the duty of those companies, to lead fans to believe storylines are going in a direction they WANT them to go, and when they do NOT… don’t piss us off to the point where we won’t buy the product. Exhibit A: The Rise And Fall Of Daniel Bryan. First off: TOLD YOU! Second: Smart fans like me knew there was no way they would book a 5’8 funny looking person to be the ‘face of the company’. And we hoped they wouldn’t do dumb shit like ‘hold the title in abeyance’ for two months. We wouldn’t have been mad if HHH just gave the belt back to Orton and said Bryan’s win at Night of Champions NEVER. HAPPENED. (Marks totally saw what I did there.) Then you can still do that dumb ending at Battleground where Big Show knocks out champion and contender… but… your company still has a face, or champion. Why would people buy your PPVs when TWO IN A ROW essentially had NO ending?

(Btw, I was right and now Big E is IC Champion. I hope they don’t do dumb shit and have him lose every match on tv then drop the belt in like 3 months or less, or… kinda what they do to every champion)

Back to how HHH let us down the hard way with Daniel Bryan…

Daniel Bryan deserves so much better. In a world where ‘deserving’ and ‘merit’ and ‘fair’ are real actual things, he is world champion as I type this. But, one more time, I was smart enough to know he had a snowball’s chance in hell of being a long term champion. At BEST he’s going to lose to Cena for the WHC at Mania. Being in two world title matches at Mania in three years is nothing to sneeze at. Rumors abound that they’ll do a title vs title, Orton vs Cena with a possible unification… which I’m against, but mostly cuz “What’s the point of winning the Rumble again?”… so again… I could see the ultimate underdog breaking Rey Mysterio’s record and starting the Rumble and ending it, only to come up short. LOL. Short. Cuz he’s 5’8. Dammit I want Orton/Punk and Cena/Bryan and Lesnar/Taker and anything else will be irrelevant.

All my fantasy booking? It’s led by how I see storylines playing out, influenced by the knowledge that all wrasslin storylines are repeated. The Authority is just The Corporation 2013. Which leads me back to how WWE tends to do dumb shit no one wants to see like Big Show getting the biggest fucking push of the year and not say… Dan… nevermind. Remember when CM Punk was justifiable “Best In The World”? Now he’s “Best Midcarder In The World” and if he doesn’t challenge and defeat Orton and defy The Authority at Mania it will defy everything I think I know about sound logic.

A true mark… is the kind of person dumb enough to believe… saaaaayyyyyyyy… Daniel Bryan can make John Cena tap out. Then you are the very definition of a trick ass mark ass buster. LOL. I will self identify as a smart mark, or smark. Cuz I be knowing. I love this wrasslin shit because for every time they swerve us and do dumb shit no one saw coming cuz no one wanted it, we do get what we want from it, for the most part. Cuz otherwise… why still watch? That’s like having a girlfriend who refuses to… Oh look Ryback is about to lose again!


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “TNA World Heavyweight Champion vs. AJ Styles”

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Photo: © 2013 TNA Wrestling, LLC. All rights reserved.

Former TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles will defend his title in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, November 3.  His opponent will be El Mesias, also known as Judas Mesias from his days in TNA.

The word “former” is used to describe Styles because earlier today it was announced via TNA’s new 24/7 initiative that the promotion’s president, Dixie Carter, has stripped Styles of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.  As early as last week, however, it was also leaked (via spoilers) that Carter would utilize tonight’s Halloween episode of Impact Wrestling to announce a tournament to decide a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

As much as this storyline reeks of something done before, most fans welcome this news as a sign of exciting things to come within the promotion.  TNA has been beleaguered in recent weeks with more negative news than paternity tests on The Maury Show, so any bit of positivity for the company should be received with open arms and smiling faces … even at the expense of fuzzy logic.

AJ Styles defeated Bully Ray at TNA’s 2013 Bound for Glory pay per view to become the promotion’s new World Heavyweight Champion.  Styles successfully defended his title against the former champion on the October 24 episode of Impact Wrestling where, despite constant please and bribes from Dixie Carter, walked out of the company while still in possession of the championship belt.  It was during an in-ring interaction with Carter that Styles made it clearly known that he did not have a contract with TNA nor did he intend to sign a new one.

At that moment AJ Styles technically abdicated his position as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, thus vacating the title and giving Dixie Carter the go ahead to vacate said title … which she did today.

When Styles faces El Mesias this Sunday for Mexico’s AAA promotion, what exactly will he be defending?

The TNA World Heavyweight Championship is TNA’s most coveted title, an award given to the promotion’s top heavyweight wrestler.  Being TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion implies that you’ve faced and defeated competitors from all around the world on behalf of Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, LLC.  TNA recognizes you as their champion and allows you to defend their title in their name against competitors they deem worthy of having a shot at it.

If TNA no longer recognizes an individual as their world heavyweight champion, for whatever reason, that individual can no longer claim the right or authority to be the TNA World Heavyweight Champion; plain and simple.

The title currently held by AJ Styles means very little inside of TNA and even less outside of the promotion.  It is a symbol of his last reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion, but that’s about it.  Even more damning is the fact that AAA can’t recognize him as TNA World Heavyweight Champion within the Mexican promotion especially after it was announced by TNA President Dixie Carter that he was stripped of said title.

As far as the storyline goes from this point, AJ Styles will tour the world defending a title and championship devoid of all but sentimental meaning.  The title he possesses is no longer sanctioned by the promotion he no longer works for; AJ Styles will literally tour the globe to defend his own personal Global Championship.

Where could TNA possibly go with this storyline?

magnusDixie Carter will publicly announce the beginning of the tournament to crown a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion on tonight’s episode of Impact Wrestling.  This tournament could easily last a month, with Magnus eventually being crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

AJ Styles returns after having several awesome matches and “title defenses” around the world, making a claim in TNA that he is still the TNA World Heavyweight Champ because he wasn’t defeated for the title.  His claim would be (and should be) immediately dismissed by the real TNA World Heavyweight Champion, who would possess the promotion’s only sanctioned World Heavyweight Championship.

Styles would claim that after defending his “title” against legendary stars around the globe, Magnus could never rightfully claim to be “the man” in TNA because, as the saying goes, he’s yet to defeat “the man.”  Styles would go on to insult Magnus by calling him a paper champion, a puppet of Dixie Carter that will get used and abused for years just as he did.  Styles would claim that Magnus’ only way of legitimizing himself and his legacy in TNA would be to prove that he can best the company’s de-facto face and a true world champion.

Magnus would have nothing to gain by wrestling Styles, so he refuses to wrestle him for some time.  To Magnus, bragging rights for defeating a former champ that left the company means nothing to a champ that climbed his way up the ranks and defeated TNA’s biggest names to gain recognition as their World Heavyweight Champion.  Magnus would refuse to face Styles because facing Styles, at this point in his career, would be beneath him.

Styles and Magnus would go back and forth in a war of words for a period of time before a third party steps in and forces them to face each other for the rights and privileges to be called TNA’s World Heavyweight Champion.  Magnus wins in a hard fought battle and becomes the “face” of TNA moving forward with renewed vigor.

That’s one way things could go; but alas, what do YOU think?

 


Furthest Thing: The Gap Can Never Be Overcome

The main events of last night’s PPV were very indicative of how real that glass ceiling Phil Brooks ranted about is. Alberto Del Rio lost AGAIN to John Cena… because WWE wants SO badly for us to care about him. And Daniel Bryan lost to Randy Orton with help AGAIN. Because they want to send that message that size and looks don’t matter! Remember kids, Be a STAR! As far as heaven is above the earth, such is the difference between WWE Superstars… 

Am I saying I want “Anything can happen in WWE” to mean that Santino can hit John Cena with the Cobra and be world champion? FUCK no. But I am saying that high midcard talents cannot be tomorrow’s main eventers if they can’t realistically compete with the main eventers today.

John Cena gave Kurt Angle a hell of a fight in his very first match. He had memorable feuds with the likes of Undertaker and Brock Lesnar on SmackDown. This was back in those days where guys didn’t lose every match and Michael Cole chirps: “What a rivalry!” Similarly, Randy Orton beat Hardcore Holly in his first match. Became youngest world champion ever by beating He Who Never Existed So His Name Shall Not Be Uttered. Feuded with legends like Mick Foley and Undertaker while still being in that midcard. Am I saying Cena and Orton didn’t take hella losses while being midcard heels? NO. But they were respectable. You could see the potential. And look at them now.

Do you see that same potential in Cody Rhodes or Fandango or The Shield or Big E Langston, to name a few? EYE do. But I wonder if WWE does. I think that if Cody is booked right he can be a contender in the next year. I think Fandango needs to change his gimmick to be taken seriously. The Shield needs to stop losing so much to not lose the wonderful build and momentum they had before they ran out of main eventers to beat on. Big E Langston needs a new name and ring gear and he’ll be somebody.

I think Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio and Kofi Kingston are guys who will always be exactly what they are, purely because they’ve lost so much in ways that can’t be unseen. If Cena and Orton died today, ANYBODY else can take their place on the card but them. And it’s sad because they are good hands who can sell well and work with seemingly anyone and make them look good.

And now… I want to touch on two things: One… this ‘Authority’ storyline is making no fucking sense. Two… the rumored direction makes even less sense.

We had no WWE champion after the last two PPVs because of a fast count, remember? So… how does it make sense that HBK superkicked the beard off Daniel Bryan and that’s ok? Hmm?

Also… for Vince and HHH to have publicly fought over who could or should be face of the company, before deciding it was Orton, tell me how it makes sense that Vince will come back as a babyface, backing Big Show, who’s ‘helping’ Daniel Bryan? Yep.

Furthest thing from logical.


Too Much: The Big Show Push

Raise your hand if you’re enjoying how much WWE programming is about The Big Show these days. If you like this rumor that Vince McMahon is behind Big Show’s sudden rebellion in what they’re calling the “Authority” storyline, I should slap you. That push SHOULD go to almost ANYONE else, like say, Daniel Bryan. But… since I’ve BEEN telling you, he’s no Stone Cold, so… it really should go to CM Punk.

CM Punk’s current feud stopped being interesting to me the second he lost to Brock Lesnar and Brock disappeared back into the woods to eat a dangerous all protein diet some more. Curtis Axel bores me to death with everything he DOES. Ryback was ruined like two or three gimmicks ago, and so far, being a Paul Heyman guy has done him no favors.

When you get past the idiocy of saying a guy has an ironclad contract that lets him do what he wants and still get paid, then saying he’s broke, then firing the guy that can’t be fired, all of the things they’ve done with Big Show are wasted on him. I would have rather seen his push go to Dolph Ziggler or Kofi Kingston if not to CM Punk. Alas…

I think those two storylines become a whole hell of a lot better if you combine them. Align Heyman, Lesnar, Ryback, and Axel with HHH. Because if HHH can forgive Orton terrorizing his family, he can forget he doesn’t like Heyman cuz best for business, right? Then… you can have an alliance of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Big Show, Cody Rhodes & Goldust and Dolph Ziggler versus Orton, The Shield, Ryback and Axel.

I’m not here for the rumored world title feud between Big Show and Orton, I’m just not. MAYBE you can do a one off match for Survivor Series and have all those other parts compete in the traditional Survivor Series match… but a feud between those two lasting until, say… the Rumble? ZzzzzZzzzz

I’m all for building to a WrassleMania 27 rematch between Orton (c) and Punk at 30. And maybe a SummerSlam rematch between Cena (c) and Bryan. Which brings me to…

I feel bad for Del Rio, as always. He does have the charisma of cardboard… but then so did the Excellence of Execution. Interesting they sometimes call him “Essence of Excellence”. And I pity him, because once again, they’re going to feed him to someone beyond him, which further de-legitimizes his five world championships. I believe in Ric Flair booking logic: To be the man you gotta beat the man… and at almost every turn, Del Rio loses to Cena, Punk, Orton, etc.

People are speculating that Del Rio may just defeat Cena with his armbar, seeing as how Cena is returning from an arm injury. Have you people WATCHED John Cena matches!?! Here’s the match/finish: Del Rio works the arm as the commentators put over how Del Rio is SO vicious and aggressive. They speculate Cena may have come back too soon. The armbar is applied. Cena will pick Del Rio up with his surgicaly repaired arm, and finish him with the Attitude Adjustment as the commentators exult: “He is not human” and the IWC will bitch and moan.

I will admit: As much as I love Del Rio as a worker, as a longtime fan of wrasslin, he just doesn’t have “it”.

To someone who does have “it”… that would be Daniel Bryan. I fear that he’s going to be somewhat wasted in the midcard before losing his rematch with Cena at Mania, then he will maybe win a midcard title until again challenging for a World Title, then dropping it AGAIN shortly after winning it. I honestly don’t see him getting a long title reign a la CM Punk JUST because he’s short, and no one really gives a damn that he’s so good at wrasslin. Because unfortunately, looks do matter in this industry.

An argument CAN be made… that in a world full of big 6’4ish, 300lb Greek Gods, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk never even get as high on the card as they are right now. Like how you can’t tell me, if Ultimate Warrior wasn’t a fuck nigga, Randy Savage doesn’t ‘retire’ and leave and Hogan, Hall and Nash never take Ted Turner’s money… HBK and Hitman get less world titles on their resumes. I’m not saying I agree with it or that it’s fair. Shit, I say all the time, wrasslin, like life… is no meritocracy.

Nigga… the whole reason Big Show is being shoved down our throats right now: He’s seven feet tall and around 500 lbs. *yawn and stretch*


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “WWE vs. TNA, LIVE On Pay Per View”

There wasn’t much hullabaloo immediately made when TNA President Dixie Carter commented in an interview last month with Digital Spy about being “absolutely open” to doing a crossover event with Vince McMahon and his WWE machine.

Believe it or not I share this opinion with Carter much to the chagrin of a few of my L.E.W.D. brethren.  With the business on the whole situated in a PG period of stagnancy, a crossover event between the two largest pro wrestling promotions in the United States would bring something new and different to an industry growing increasingly stale.

Americans living in the United States are taught early on that competition among businesses is excellent for growth, development, and success.  Carter stated in the interview that although she believes this to be true of the pro wrestling industry, she has justifiable concern that her company’s competition feels differently.  To be honest with TNA currently standing second to the WWE in many different ways, the latter company has yet to have any good reason to acknowledge TNA without pretense; there’s no reason the big dog in the yard has to give the pipsqueak pup a chance to compete with them on a level they’ve yet to earn on their own merit.

If the WWE has maintained a vice like grip on the industry for the last 11-12 years, why would they willingly give that position and power up just for another company (Carter also mentioned this same thing, in a way, during the interview)?  That honestly is the main reason why a crossover event between the two companies would be out of the question today.

A recent post by blogger Tom G at Gerweck.net has me thinking differently about that seemingly unfathomable event; as numerous sites and blogs are now asking fans to build their dream event that would see TNA wrestlers go head-to-head with the WWE superstars, I can’t help but to wonder how things would work if the wrestling world was perfect and a TNA versus WWE event was scheduled.

Establish WHY the Event Should Take Place

To begin with both companies would have to negotiate the terms of the event and decide how they would and could benefit from working with one another instead of against each other.

There's one sure fire way we'd get our dream WWE vs. TNA pay per view from Vince McMahon...

There’s one sure fire way we’d get our dream WWE vs. TNA pay per view from Vince McMahon…

The immediate and obvious beneficiary would be TNA, the smaller company that gets scores of publicity and revenue from being attached to the WWE and its global audience.  Granted TNA has a large number of fans around the world, but consider the numerical difference between IMPACT Wrestling’s 1.2 million U.S. viewers weekly and RAW’s 3.5 million U.S. viewers before making a stink about semantics.  I would consider this a short-term benefit for TNA, as any momentum gained from the event would have to be maintained and capitalized upon by TNA.

There would be no instant gratification for WWE unless there was a specific reason for working with their closest rival (we’ll talk about that in a second).  However in the long run, the WWE creative team(s) and booking team(s) would be forced to reevaluate the way they present their product if TNA capitalizes off of the publicity and momentum.

The long term benefit would also be for the business as well, creating a hype and buzz that would bring some new excitement and create buzz for an industry lacking in mass appeal all around.  Essentially both companies would be looking at communal and individual success, both companies gaining something far more important by sacrificing personal and hubristic glory or domination over the competition.

If those goals alone aren’t enough to entice McMahon (Carter would agree from the very beginning), perhaps another goal could be to provide funds and support for a relief effort or other charitable causes.  A portion of the money raised from the event could be donated to the many non-profit organizations supported by either company.  Or, as Tom G. mentioned, perhaps the money raised from the event could benefit victims of natural disasters (Hurricane Sandy or the Oklahoma tornados) or tragic violence (Sandy Hook or Boston Marathon families).

McMahon rarely turns down opportunities to offer financial support to numerous charitable organizations, and an event of such magnitude that brings together an even larger array of fans and media attention would certainly whet his appetite.

Establish Parameters for the Event: The Overarching Story and 5 Year Plan

After both companies come on board and agree to work with each other, negotiations would have to take place that discuss what the event should look like and how it should play out.

Tom G. noted that an independent booking committee would be necessary to hammer out the details of the event, but seeing as most of the writers and booking committee of TNA has already worked with WWE in some form or fashion, such a committee would me more of a desire than a need.  A solid crew representing the interests of both companies, in my opinion, would suffice just as well.

Regardless of the participants of the event it’s more important to lay out a plan that highlights the strength and weaknesses of both companies.  The resulting storyline would lead to a resolution that tacitly shows fans what makes each promotion worthy of attention and money while also not denying the weaknesses each company suffers from.

The only thing that would frustrate talks at this point is the desire for either company to “prove” that it’s “better” than the competition.  That should be a point left for the fans to decide, the result of which would ideally create a new era of prime time wrestling wars.

My particular idea would involve the event spanning over five years, with one specific pay per view show per year.  This event, which I have conveniently named Proving Ground, would pretty much be a bi-promotional Bragging Rights that would take place in December each year.  Each company would build towards the pay per view in their own unique way, using the three months prior to turn the focus of their major storylines towards the pay per view.

Think of it like this: in the way that TNA builds for Bound for Glory though the BFG Series, or in the way that WWE begins the “Road to WrestleMania” with the Royal Rumble pay per view.  Similar things could happen in each company, perhaps with WWE having a “series” of matches to determine Team WWE and TNA having a battle royal to begin the storyline journey leading to the Proving Ground pay per view.

Over the five year period of time each pay per view would be designed to send a specific message to the fans regarding each promotion.  These messages would either speak to each company’s strengths or weaknesses in a way that is truthful but not offensive a company and its fans.  I imagine that the final pay per view in Year Five would involve a high profile match that would be the ultimate pay off in the series, each company progressing after the event in their own manner.

ProvingGround_TNAYear One: Cross the Line

Keeping in mind that how a wrestler wins a match is more important than winning the match itself, it would be absolutely necessary for TNA to lose the pay per view in Year One.

Now in its eleventh year of operation, TNA has managed to survive financial ruin, booking disasters, and harsh fan criticism with an unrivaled level of skill.  The company and its president continuously fight against a heavy tide of criticism and disdain from most fans; they cater to a diehard and rabid fan base that will support and protect it against any and all dissenters, including against ex-employees of the company.

Despite their dogged persistence and spunky nature, TNA has yet to really go beyond a certain point in its eleven year history.  It’s questionable whether or not they’re making a profit and their best efforts cannot seem to raise their viewership beyond another specific point.  Having acknowledged this reality, how much sense would it make to have the company dominate and defeat the WWE conglomerate on the very first pay per view?

The point of Year One would be to establish TNA as a serious competitor to the WWE machine.  It will be highlighted that TNA can beat WWE, not that they have beaten WWE.   The point to drive home with each match—win or lose—is that TNA has the heart and persistence to bring WWE to its knees.  That can be done even if TNA more matches on the card than the WWE, including the main event match.

Year One would also highlight the differences between the two companies, most notably the difference between “wrestlers” and “superstars,” “Knockouts” and “Divas.”  TNA would show consistently that their roster is filled with athletes while the WWE’s roster is brimming with entertainers.  I even picture someone from Team TNA commenting that the WWE superstars “talk too much” instead of wrestling.

On the other side of the coin, the WWE reveal their weakness of underestimating the TNA wrestlers while highlighting their prominent position of employing some of the world’s top athletes.  Team TNA would assuredly give Team WWE some frustratingly stiff competition, but Team WWE would prove that they cannot be pigeonholed as having a roster filled with flashy fops and doo-lolly dandies.

The main event match would pit WWE Champion John Cena against TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray, assuming that by the end of the year both men would still be champion in their respective company.  Cena would win the epic and brutal bout and bring home the first Proving Ground trophy for WWE.

Year Two: Our Time Is Now

Year Two would see TNA regroup and capitalize off of WWE’s indifference to TNA’s abilities.   The idea would be that even after staving off a TNA victory, the company failed to learn from the experience and once again treated TNA as a minor hiccup in the grand scheme of things.

ProvingGround_WWEYear Two would decidedly be TNA’s year at Proving Ground, showcasing the company’s ability to grow from one level of operation to another in specific areas.  Their weakness, which WWE would exploit throughout the pay per view, would be their tendency to make minor changes in areas of little import in the grand scheme of things.

For example: if a Year One match between Zack Ryder and Robbie E resulted in a loss for TNA, that same match in Year Two would give them a victory between the same two individuals.   Perhaps Robbie T would win a match against Mason Ryan, Velvet Sky would be victorious over a Bella Twin or AJ Lee.  In Year Two TNA would amass several victories while coming up short in a few of the high profile matches, matches that would “matter” the most throughout the pay per view.

The main event match would see TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles (necessary) defeat WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler (interchangeable with Del Rio, Swagger, or another solid collegiate “wrestler”).  The match would easily be a five-star MOTY candidate, with high drama and exhilarating near falls.  Styles would win clean, without any interference or excuses, and bring the Year Two trophy home to TNA.

WWE would have an easy out, admitting to the defeat but consistently pointing out that the WWE Champion didn’t lose his match.  This approach could potentially devalue the importance of the WHC, but no more than it has already been.  Point being the WWE comes to terms with accepting their loss at the hands of the young company, but also maintaining its status at the top of the ladder.

The Year Two pay per view would also set the stages for the Year Five pay per view, providing the stage for the rubber pay per view between the two companies.

Year Three:  Death by Honor

The build towards the third annual Proving Ground pay per view would include an invasion from ROH, the small third company ignored largely by WWE and TNA.  This build would include honest grievances that can be seen between ROH and both companies.

Imagine if THIS guy showed up in either company looking to star something...

Imagine if  ROH’s Tommaso Ciampa showed up in either company looking to start something…

Stars from ROH would argue that TNA’s most prominent stars made names in their company first, and that TNA greedily snatched up their stars as they became popular.  It could be noted how TNA, in all of its pro-fan wrestling based ethics systematically barred wrestlers from competing in ROH, a tactic that makes them no different from the company they claim to be better than (WWE).

In WWE, ROH stars can claim that management sold their souls for money and notoriety as the WWE “paid them off” in order to buy contracts from their remaining top tier talent.  They could state how WWE would be nowhere near as popular without ROH stars bringing ROH-like excitement to the company.

In the midst of such claims wrestlers from both TNA and WWE would begin to take sides, either defecting to ROH or staying with their respective company.  ROH would over time prove to be a threat that neither WWE nor TNA considered or was prepared for; each company would then work to maintain their rosters as well as prepare for the Proving Ground pay per view.   Eventually ROH would work their way into a spot on the pay per view card.

The Year Three pay per view would see WWE and TNA extremely preoccupied with obtaining a decisive victory over each other without truly considering the presence of ROH in the events.  Each company would dismiss victories obtained by ROH while remaining focused on attempting to gain victories over each other.

Team ROH would run into trouble gaining victories over Team WWE outside of defectors, but would give Team TNA a heck of a fight similar to the way TNA did WWE at the Year One pay per view.  The WWE would maintain a small lead in overall victories, with TNA and ROH battling over second place throughout the night.

The main event match would pit the world champions from TNA (Austin Aries, AJ Styles, Magnus) and ROH against each other and the WWE Champion (Daniel Bryan, CM Punk) in a triple threat match.  The finish would come when the WWE Champion (a former ROH wrestler) to ROH allows the ROH champion to pin the TNA champion, the significance being that WWE still remains on top and remains on top as their champion was not pinned or made to submit during the match.  The WWE will also point out that even without winning the Proving Ground trophy, they still won the most matches during the pay per view (by one match perhaps).

TNA becomes bitter after having been underestimated and disrespected by WWE a third year in a row.  This anger and bitterness will fuel them throughout the year and prepare them for the fourth annual pay per view.

ROH celebrates with the Proving Ground trophy, having “hung in there” with the big dogs and proving that they too should be recognized and taken seriously in the pro wrestling business.

Year Four: United

The build to the Year Four pay per view would begin earlier than usual unbeknownst to the fans.  Both TNA and WWE would aggressively train talent in their respective developmental systems.  Both companies would also pay attention to high profile names from well-known international or independent organizations such as DragonGate USA, EVOLVE, SHIMMER, SHINE, Resistence Pro, AAA, CMLL, New Japan, etc.  These stars, after having honestly been in each company’s developmental system for some time (courted or hired prior/during Year Two) would debut throughout the year in the months right before the actual build to the Proving Ground pay per view.

I personally believe it's only a matter of time before Uhaa Nation shows up on either company's radar.

I personally believe it’s only a matter of time before DragonGate USA’s  Uhaa Nation pops up on either company’s radar.

ROH would once again “invade” both companies, claiming that their victory at the previous pay per view humbled the organizations and weakened their domineering control over the fans.  They rejoice at the fact they’ll once again be able to humble each company.

Both TNA and WWE would begin to reveal their teams for the pay per view, each consisting of stars from the independent and international organizations.  The pay per view would then feature these stars, plus each company’s “regular” stars, waging war against ROH.

ROH would have trouble gaining victories over these independent stars wrestling, and would maintain a second place position behind TNA and WWE trading leads and vying for the top spot.  Even with a common foe in ROH, WWE and TNA would still attempt to gain a lead on the other company.  This vying would eventually lead to an ROH victory that squeaks them ahead of both companies by one match.

The main event match would pit a team (tag, 6-man, Vintage Survivor Series teams) against ROH in an elimination match.  The wrestlers on Team WWE/TNA would prove to be incapable of working together, with losses coming as a result of the team’s instability.  With only two wrestlers left, Team WWE/TNA mounts a comeback and gains the victory from the pay per view when a WWE star makes the last ROH wrestler submit while the TNA wrestler scores a pinfall (far-fetched, but there’s a method to the madness).

With ROH sufficiently dispatched for the moment a debate ensues over just exactly who scored the victory for their respective company.  With confusion reigning supreme over the finish, it is eventually decided that both companies can claim rightful ownership of that year’s Proving Ground trophy or award.  This dispute will be the foundation for the final Proving Ground pay per view.

Year Five: Winner Takes All

The hype around the Year Five pay per view would focus on the controversial finish to the Year Four pay per view.  The stakes are high, and it is noted that technically speaking that TNA and WWE are tied with two victories apiece in the series.  The best of the best in all three companies are recruited to represent their promotion at the pay per view, which the stars training and wrestling feverishly to be in the best shape they can be.

The pay per view occurs and ROH puts up one hell of a fight, ultimately falling short of gaining a lead in victories over either TNA or WWE.  In the first of two main event matches, they score a well fought victory over either or both companies which cements the idea that they should be respected and taken more seriously among fans as a promotion even though they still have some ground to gain to be at the same level as TNA and WWE.

The second main event would pit The Undertaker against Sting, which would (and could) lead to a second match at the following WrestleMania.

The third main event and final match of the last Proving Ground pay per view would see the WWE Champion face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion to proclaim the winner of the Proving Ground series.

The tricky part about deciding a victor at this point is deciding who should walk away with the bragging rights.  All things being equal it can be assumed that five years of crossover events has created a fervor among casual and hardcore wrestling fans that surpasses that of the Attitude Era.  Hopefully the goal of the series has been achieved in that all parties involved have benefitted from increased attention and revenue.  The writing is better in all three companies, the presentation of the product (especially in ROH’s case) is better, and the fans are excited and thrilled to spend their hard earned money on pro wrestling again.

Regardless of who’s winning the ratings war I would give the WWE a controversial victory that allows both companies to retreat from the series in ways that speak to the realities that exist in each promotion.  The finish would be controversial, but not “dirty” or “dusty.”

Think of it in the same way as you would the finish to Triple H’s Extreme Rules 2013 match against Brock Lesnar; even though Brock Lesnar won the match, he limped away from it and disappeared from television.  Although suffering from a beating, Triple H still managed to show up to work the next few episodes of RAW.

The win would maintain the WWE’s position as the top dog in the industry, something it had claim two ever since the beginning of the series.   Although the finish to the match is controversial, the company limps away from the victory and continues on its way of conducting business as it sees fit.

TNA, on the other hand, suffering from a questionable loss, returns to its business and can rightfully claim that it took the mighty WWE to the limit and even had it on its knees.  The point during the loss would be that a) TNA has finally proven to be worthy of consideration as a competitor to the WWE and that b) WWE is not invincible as many believe it to be.

Whatever the finish may be it would involve interference from Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter, perhaps even with Carter landing a shot on McMahon after his blatant attempt to disrupt the match.  This would give TNA fans something to cherish as the impending WWE victory creeps up on everyone.

With all that said and done the only thing that’s left is to book the very first Proving Ground pay per view.  Stay tuned…


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “Hulk Hogan, General Manager”

The word “compelling” is used often on this site, mostly to describe a must-see character that has ability or potential to easily pique the interests of fans.  Some characters are able to evoke fans’ interest without much effort, their motives and actions made to be irresistibly clear and  tantalizing to the viewing audience.  Other characters grab our attention for their depth, their many layers peeled before our eyes revealing a far more complex individual who relates to us more than we first imagined.

While some characters are far more interesting and intriguing than others, every now and then there’s always one character that stumbles into a situation that ultimately makes them compelling by default; that character, static and flaccid by design, immediately becomes dynamic and fascinating because the circumstances force them to become so.

Such a case can be made for IMPACT Wrestling‘s current general manager, Hulk Hogan.  Wrapped in the throes of the Aces & 8′s presence in TNA, Hulk Hogan is once again the linchpin of the company’s major storyline.

Hogan_01The Immortal One’s official stint as the man in charge (as opposed to the Immortal coup d’etat from 2010-2011) has been atrociously laughable from the start, even by general manager standards.  Not much has changed from this previously nuanced opinion here on L.E.W.D., but it must be reiterated that the longer Hogan stays in his position of authority, the more likely it is that there is something larger looming on the horizon.

As TNA supporters consistently praise the reality based format of IMPACT Wrestling, logic and reason dictate that Hogan’s ineptitude and questionable decision making skills will ultimately lead to his downfall.  Unless an intervention occurs that involves TNA President Dixie Carter (or an unlikely savior in the form of A.J. Styles), the company will be destroyed from the inside out, with Hulk Hogan fearlessly manning the sinking ship straight to hell; this, of course, is speaking strictly in terms of the Aces and 8′s storyline.

The subtle maturation of Hogan’s general manager character is provocative for one of two reasons: everything that makes the character tick and react is either intentional or unintentional.  While this is a very juvenile, black-and-white way to describe the character, the truth is that either the writers intended for Hogan to gradually reveal his incompetence or that same incompetence is an unexpected by-product of the Aces and 8′s storyline.  Either way there are distinct possibilities that can open up for IMPACT Wrestling moving forward.

Before looking a few of those distinct possibilities, recall Hogan’s actions from the past few episodes of IMPACT Wrestling.  Ever since Bully Ray won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship and declared his allegiance to the Aces and 8s at the Lockdown pay per view, Hogan has blamed Sting for coercing him to place unquestioned trust into Bully Ray.  Hogan ignored his gut feelings about Bully Ray at the insistence of Sting and his daughter Brooke Hogan, both of whom pleaded with Hogan on several occasions to give the self-professed “Not-a-Nice-Guy” to prove his worth as a decent human being.

When things fell apart Hogan immediately focused his frustrations and anger towards Sting, refusing to even hold a decent conversation with him until their confrontation during Thursday night’s “Open Fight Night.”

During the confrontation Sting called Hogan out for avoiding him and failing to take responsibility for the poor decisions he made as the general manager regarding Bully Ray.  Sting pointed out that regardless of who told Hogan what, the final decision on everything was up to him.  This fact has been repeatedly pointed out on TNA television, from the many references to Hulk’s unrivaled ability to “always do what’s right for business” and his decision making process during Championship Thursdays, to the process in which he chose Bully Ray as the #1 Contender for Jeff Hardy’s TNA World Heavyweight Championship despite Ray’s complete absence in the matches to determine that same #1 Contender.

Undaunted by Sting’s comments, Hogan proceeded to assert his authority by kicking Sting out of his ring.  Tensions were high, causing Sting to challenge Hogan’s authority by staying in the ring and getting in the Immortal One’s face.  This prompted security to not only escort Sting from the ring, but also from the arena as well.  As a visibly (and justifiably) frustrated Sting left the building, TNA wrestler Matt Morgan taunted him by applauding and simply saying, “Yet again, another Hogan mistake.”

Morgan_01Morgan’s words spoke more truth than meets the eye.

The existence of the Aces and 8s club came about, according to Bully Ray, because of Hulk Hogan’s practices and policies as general manager.  With the exception of Taz, D’Lo Brown, Mike “Knux” Knox and DOC, the Aces and 8s members were all jilted and directly affected in some form or fashion by Hogan’s decision making process.

Once the Aces and 8s were able to gain unfettered access to the Impact Zone after winning their match at Bound for Glory 2012, a match that Hulk Hogan scheduled on a huge gamble.  Prior to that match Hogan did little and next to nothing to ensure that the group was denied access to the company’s events or televised shows.

Even when members of the production team attacked wrestlers, even when handfuls of faceless “prospects” ran around the tapings and the Impact Zone, there were no security checks in place and the contracted wrestlers and TNA employees were not questioned or scrutinized about their knowledge or possible connections with the club.  Simply put, the general manager was not doing his job to the best of his ability.

Wrestlers outside of the Aces and 8s, such as Matt Morgan and Austin Aries, openly complained about Hogan’s inability to run the company effectively by citing their own observations of his managerial skills.

It would also appear that these traits are not limited to Hulk Hogan, as his daughter Brooke has also slowly slipped away from her duties as the TNA Knockouts Executive and only returning to those duties recently.

These things do not include the rationale behind Hogan’s appointment as IMPACT Wrestling‘s General Manager, especially considering the hostile takeover Hogan masterminded with Eric Bischoff two to three years ago:


The point of it all is this: if Hogan is truly out of his league when it comes to being IMPACT Wrestling’s General Manager, why has he yet to come under any performance review or scrutiny from the president of the company or its board of directors?  At the moment these questions have no answers, but in an ironic twist of fate they create the circumstances under which Hogan’s character becomes an important figure to watch and invest in as the Aces and 8′s storyline continues to develop and evolve.

Hogan’s character is compelling because there is no logical or rational reason that explains why he’s still employed by TNA; at some point he has to answer to the accusations levied against him by the wrestlers and the Aces and 8s.

This brings us back to the two points made earlier: either Hogan’s character is intentionally inept for a much more intricate storyline or the character is simply what’s leftover from the Aces and 8′s rise to dominance in TNA.

Let’s assume that Hogan’s character is intentionally lacking, which would lead to some sort of competency hearing by a panel of directors or a closed door meeting with the president of the company.  Hogan’s methods could be found insufficient, reckless and damaging to the company, which would lead to his “release.”  This release would be the Aces and 8′s checkmate in their year long game of chess with TNA, forcing Dixie Carter to create a new strategy to rid the company of the club.  That strategy could involve utilizing A.J. Styles, which would place the focus on the company’s most recognizable star and shift attention away from Hogan for an unspecified amount of time.

With Hogan ousted , Carter could appoint a new character (or returning one, such as Jeff Jarrett) as General Manager, and thus begins a new year long storyline.

On the other hand let’s assume that Hogan’s character wasn’t purposefully designed to be inept.  Questions surrounding his worth as a general manager will go unanswered and Styles could still be courted as IMPACT Wrestling’s savior.  No one will bat an eyelash or think twice about Hogan’s effectiveness as the man in charge, and everything will continue down the path already plotted by the creative team.  The only fans that will suffer are the ones who will relentlessly point out Hogan’s horrendous job as general manager.

The difference between these two scenarios is the focus of the product; is it better to have Hogan depart from an on-screen role as to focus more attention on the younger stars of the company or to continue having him play a central and integral role in all of the major storylines?  Is Hogan better positioned to bring attention to the company in an on-screen role or as an off-screen consultant and ambassador?  Has TNA grown as a company to the point where they no longer need Hogan’s name or face on the marquee in order to draw fans and revenue?

Idealistically he’d be better suited at this point in time to allowing the company’s stars to shine on their own.  His presence doesn’t detract from the shows at all, but how much more time could have been given to the X-Division, Tag Team Division, Knockouts or Knockouts Tag Team Division if Hogan did not dominate screen time or major storylines?  Would Hogan’s diminished role allow for financial resources to be diverted from his contract and spent on hiring and debuting new stars to the company?

The answers to these questions remain to be seen, but all point back to the compelling character that is Hulk Hogan, General Manager.  Whether you think his character is screwing up each and every way he turns, or you don’t really care about him at all, he’s still the linchpin to the Aces and 8′s storyline and he’s still the central figure in pro wrestling and sports entertainment today.

If that’s not compelling, then everything else is just misspent time and energy.


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – “AJ Styles: D.T.A.”

A very profound thought struck me the other day concerning the current direction of AJ Styles and his character on IMPACT Wrestling.  In order to accurately express that thought here in L.E.W.D. Booking 101, I have to go back to a conversation that took place several years ago.

A photo of James in my car...back when I had that car.

A photo of James in my car…back when I had that car.

I have a very close friend named James* who can best be described as a casual fan of pro wrestling.  Although James doesn’t indulge in pro wrestling and sports entertainment as frequently as I do, he follows the product enough to have great and analytical conversations about wrestlers and promotions at any given time.  While James was (and still is) fond of WWE, he always favored WCW’s product more, especially during the mythic Attitude Era.  It was during this time that he reveled in the many antics of his favorite wrestler, the man they call Sting.  Even to this day he gets particularly giddy and filled with girlish glee when discussing Sting; his favorite iteration of the superstar is the “Crow” Sting, a character based off of the movie made famous by action star Brandon Lee.

Seriously; to this day, James can recite the creepy little kid monologue verbatim from the Sting’s theme at that time.

Many years after WWE’s purchase of WCW and several versions of Sting later, I asked James to explain to me his fascination with this dark and brooding Sting character.  More specifically I asked him to explain why so many other fans were absolutely in love with this Sting, let alone Sting in the first place.  To loosely paraphrase what he said (mostly because he won’t email me what he said):

The thing about it is this: when Hulk Hogan turned heel—and you gotta remember that Hulk Hogan was the epitome of all that was right in the world, “Eat your vitamins and say your prayers” and all that s**t—it completely messed everybody up!  The person that took it the hardest was Sting, because here was somebody who did the right thing his entire career, and the only other thing “right” in the universe was Hogan.

With Hogan joining the nWo, and half of WCW doing the same damn thing, Sting was absolutely mind-f***ed.  So Sting disappears and when he comes back, he’s literally dead to everything on the inside, and then he just proceeds to brood all over the damn place.  And that’s what made it cool, because even though it was a blatant rip off of The Crow, it made perfect sense because a lot of younger fans were feeling the same way because of Hogan’s heel turn.

And besides, that s**t was real cool too.

James’ words resonated in my mind the other day when I started thinking about TNA’s latest M.I.A. wrestler, AJ Styles.  One thing led to another, and before you know it I had this epiphany: AJ Styles will be TNA’s “Crow” Sting!

At this point you should brace yourselves, because the next comment coming from yours truly will surely shock and surprise you: out of all the things TNA has conveniently borrowed from other promotions, this character development for Styles is perhaps the best idea they’ve stolen come up with and will probably create the most compelling and interesting wrestler the company has ever had.

Don’t expect Styles to be phenomenal in the rafters of arenas around the country anytime soon.  It is also highly unlikely that the company will attempt to turn Styles into a mini-Sting like they attempted to transform him into Lil’ Naitch Ver. 2.5 when Ric Flair joined the company.  What is quite probable is the creation of a neat, tweener Styles character that will operate in the same spirit as “Crow” Sting so many years ago.  If my epiphany has any merit, Styles’ new character will be somewhat similar to the heel character that John Cena could have been two years ago.

This epiphany came about when I started to connect the dots between two posts about Styles on the most trusted TNA fan site on the internet.  The first post came on February 8 and was nestled quietly in a recap of a Dixie Carter interview during her appearance during a Bellator fight.  Apparently the TNA President had an encounter with Styles at the event, an encounter were Carter described Styles as being “cold, distant, and unapproachable.”  After careful consideration of this development, I couldn’t find myself to be “mad” or disgusted with Styles’ actions at all.

"Never forget..."

“Never forget…”

While Carter’s summation of Styles’ behavior seemed “unusual” (as described by the good folks at TNAsylum.com), one could not feel any iota of sympathy for her given Styles’ craptastic 2012 in TNA.

Without dredging up too many memories of the swerves and storylines that besmirched his year and his good name, we must remember how well Dixie defended Styles during the Claire Lynch debacle.  We must remember how she set her husband straight after leveling Styles with the King Mo One Hitter-Quitter.  We have to recall how Dixie used her executive powers and prowess to get to the bottom of Claire Lynch’s accusations against Styles in order to exonerate her company’s most decorated and beloved star.

Seeing as all of that stuff didn’t happen it would appear that Styles is somewhat justified in having such lukewarm feelings towards Dixie Carter.  Styles, after all, is easily the most recognizable TNA Original still with the company.  He gave his all for Jeff Jarrett and Dixie, yet neither offered their on-air unconditional support for him during his series of unfortunate events.  In fact if one wasn’t careful, one could easily get the impression that Dixie and her cronies cared very little for Styles during this period of his career; talk about a slap in the face.

The second post that caught my attention was a report on February 20 about a TNA producer’s tweet concerning Styles’ behavior.  The producer didn’t explicitly say how Styles behaved, but did comment that in five years he had never “had him act like he did today.”  The producer then went on to say that he was “disappointed.”  Is it just me or does it sound incredibly pompous of the producer to comment on how he would or would not have had Styles to behave?  It’s one thing to say that in five years you’ve never seen a person act in a particular way, but its also very telling to see someone comment that they never had someone act a certain way.

I sure the assumption is that once a vanilla babyface, always a vanilla babyface.  For the better part of his career in TNA Styles has played the one dimensional role of stellar athlete and upright model citizen/human being.  Styles plays this character well because it’s pretty much him in real life.  Everyone has their breaking point, however, and even the most model and upright human being has a breaking point.  He arguably reached that breaking point after his demeaning loss to Christopher Daniels at Final Resolution 2012; even after Styles announced to the world on the December 13, 2012 episode of IMPACT Wrestling that he was no longer a “company man,” this plucky TNA producer still found it disappointing that Styles behaved in an unmentionable fashion?

Photo © TNA Wrestling, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo © TNA Wrestling, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

If you’ve been subjected to a person behaving in a particular way, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to expect that behavior to be consistent and synonymous with the person.  If the person turns out to be a louse, it’s easy to dismiss them and wish them well in their future endeavors.  On the other hand if the person has proven to exhibit exemplary qualities, we have the tendency to abuse and/or neglect that person because no matter what happens we’ll expect them to continue to be “good” people.

The only person to come to Styles’ aid during his trials with Daniels and Kazarian was Kurt Angle.  Other than that, Styles was expected to man up and handle his situation on his lonesome, even though the harassment he endured from his coworkers was ridiculously ignored by management.  After putting up with that Styles was also locked out of challenging for the TNA World Heavyweight Title for one year, a crushing and heart-wrenching defeat that almost makes his presence in the company worthless for at least 365 days.  The fans moved on to Austin Aries, Robert Roode and Jeff Hardy; the only person that cared about AJ Styles, it seemed, was AJ Styles.  And even he neglected his own needs, wants and desires for the sake of the company and making Dixie Carter look like one million dollars.

From that perspective, how dare anyone expect Styles to behave a certain way or even tacitly imply and/or demand he behave a certain way any reason.  Being himself hadn’t gotten him very far since he lost the TNA World Heavyweight Title to Rob Van Dam in April 2010, so what good will the goody-two shoes bit do for him at this point?

After all that, what does any of it have to do with “Crow” Sting?  Simply put, the very man that Styles was should be long gone by now.  Having grown bitter and disillusioned with all that he knew to be right in the world, Styles’ character should evolve into a self-serving man justified by the inconsiderate actions of the institution that was once his life and livelihood.  He doesn’t have to be overly obnoxious in his disdain for the company (Aces & Eights), and he doesn’t have to be an Attitude Era-esque edgy and cool tweener either (Ken Anderson).

All Styles has to do is be himself minus the concern and care for being Dixie’s golden boy and the fans’ favorite athlete.  Styles has to become the wrestler that competes for the company’s top prize while maintaining an eff you attitude towards anyone or anything that represents the institution that snubbed him.  Styles shouldn’t perform for the fans, nor should he be the face of a company in need of a savior.  Styles does what Styles wants for Styles’ benefit.  This was essentially the same rubric for the evolution of Sting’s character in WCW after Hulk Hogan’s heel turn and the creation of the nWo, except there were actual buzzards and crows involved.

Sting_03Sting’s descent into this depressing and unforgiving darkness revitalized the character and WCW.  In the same way that this dark and emo Sting resonated in the hearts of many fans, so too can this new AJ Styles character.  How many of TNA’s fans have been abused and taken for granted by their employers?  How many fans have felt betrayed by TNA’s sports entertainment-like approach in their product as of late?

If we can be narcissistic for one second, how cool would Styles look with new, darker gear?

This drastic character makeover for Styles couldn’t come at a better time in the company’s history.  With the very flat Aces & Eights storyline going nowhere fast (perhaps, in hindsight, purposefully so…) and their almost hostile takeover of the company, TNA needs a familiar face to help drag them out of the social group’s fun house of inequity.  With their show being taken on the road after the upcoming Lockdown pay per view, TNA needs a homegrown top star to build their franchise around, a top star that can make the same media rounds as John Cena while drawing interest towards the product instead of away from it.  With a concentrated effort to focus on building four pay per views out of the year, TNA needs a star that will increase buyrates at the mere mention of his name.

Personally speaking I would pay money to see a moody, grizzle-faced AJ Styles tan Jeff Hardy’s high-flying fanny six ways from Sunday for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

Even thought I still believe my epiphany to be one unique to my own experience, I’m also sure that most fans have already speculated on Styles’ character development.  Whether you’ve considered this level of maturation for Styles or not, the reality is that change is coming for one of the company’s most prized wrestlers.  Do not be surprised to see Styles return to the scene as angry and bitter as Sting did in WCW many years ago; do not be surprised if he returns only to rage against the machine with his own agenda instead of defending TNA from the rising tide of the Aces & Eights domination.

Do be surprised if Styles turns out to be the leader of the Aces & Eights, because I for one am expecting this new wrestler to rely on his own abilities and to not trust anyone, anywhere at anytime.

But above all else, expect to be thoroughly surprised and pleased at wherever Styles and the creative heads take his character.  As long as the man isn’t inexplicably kidnapped or forced to wear a leather vest, the end will justify the means.

*Note: The moniker “James” was used in this piece because Adam didn’t want me to use his real name.


The Story Unfolds Exactly How It Should

Image

While everyone is up in arms over The Rock’s controversial victory at the Royal Rumble, I am left pondering, as any great writer should, what’s the bigger picture? Why was the decision made to end such an amazing title run that had been continuously hyped? Why have Punk get the victory, and then have the match restarted, instead of just having The Rock beat him cleanly? Why are we building to “Once In a Calendar Year – The Rock vs. John Cena 2″?

While it is far too early, and there is still an entire ppv to get through before the true build to WrestleMania will begin…speculation is always fun, and I spent the majority of my day pondering why exactly the events of last night unfolded the way they did…. stick with me here.

CM Punk’s title reign was the most hyped of any in the modern era, and considerably longer as well. Outlasting reigns of such Legends as Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan (trust me, the list goes on…) and he didn’t just do it – WWE made sure you knew he did it. Over and over, like never before in the history of the company we were made constantly aware exactly how many months, weeks, days, hell hours had passed since CM Punk was crowned WWE Champion. Isn’t that quite the accomplishment itself?

Second…

What DOES Punk get from his historic run? Sure, he doesn’t get to be the final match at WrestleMania against either John Cena or The Rock (both of whom we have seen him wrestle, out promo, and beat) and be left feeling underwhelmed and like we were getting just another PPV. Headlining WrestleMania isn’t the shining moment of Punk’s reign, it’s not why you want to be champion. You want to be champion for respect, honor, prestige, to have a place in history. Punk undoubtedly has all of that with this reign. In addition, he has the respect of the veterans of the business (minus “Superstar” Billy Graham)

Can’t you see the promo unfolding in front of your eyes?

“I am the greatest WWE CHAMPION in modern history! Not only did I beat everyone in my path, I did things no other champion in this company has ever been able to. I beat Ryback, I beat Dolph Ziggler, I beat Chris Jericho, I beat Alberto Del Rio, Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, I went into Elimination Chamber and walked out the champion, hell…I beat The Great One…I beat…The Rock! I have beaten everyone…”

*Lights go out*

*Bell tolls*

Who IS The Undertaker going to wrestle this year? He’s guaranteed to have a match this year, and when you look at how the cards are stacked, there is a very short list of possible opponents. Cena and Rock, Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio, some combination of Orton, Ryback, Sheamus, and Big Show…none of which have the clout enough to take on ‘Taker right now. So where does that leave CM Punk? Sans opponent.

So how does this go back to the bigger picture? The Undertaker comes back and calls Punk out for having the accolades of a champion, but the mouth of a scoundrel. Undertaker has always been big on respect and I feel like he would have a huge issue with Punk in the real-life wrestler world (where wrestlers exist in a comic-book and have real backstage wrestler drama) (not to be confused with the actual real world, where Mark Calloway respects Phil Brooks).

CM Punk has the same problem with Undertaker that he had with The Rock – the schedule, the implied “veteran”/”legend” status, the way people swoon for them when they do nothing for the people, etc… the promos would be magical.

This also ties back into the Royal Rumble, because you couldn’t have the title on Punk when he faces Undertaker. There’s no way Undertaker is going to take on a championship run again, and you lose the believability of Punk being able to beat Undertaker if you keep the strap on him. Either “the Streak” ends of the Undertaker would be WWE Champion.

Also, having John Cena beat The Rock and get vindication for losing last year isn’t compelling enough. Cena has to have a driving factor underneath it all.  Rock isn’t better served in any other role, and since he’ll be skating off into the Hollywood sunset immediately after ‘Mania…it only makes sense for him give Cena the rub and the title, restarting the Cena-era…for the immediate future.

It all makes sense, and could lead to a lot of great, story-filled matches at WrestleMania, and at the end of the day – that’s all we can ask for. Compelling, entertaining, riveting stories. The Rock vs John Cena for the WWE Championship and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker provide the absolute best storytelling background, possibility of money and excitement, and interest in the WWE audience. It all makes sense. Just let the story unfold…


Popcorn Wrestling and their Addicts…NO!

Once you clean your desk and computer of VOMIT then please read this post!

Once you clean your desk and computer of VOMIT then please read this post!

When most people choose to eat popcorn, they eat it as a snack.  I’m not sure many people sit down at the dinner table and prepare a steaming plate of popcorn as their choice meal for the evening.  Also, many people don’t sit down at a restaurant and ask, “I didn’t see the price for the Popcorn Meal on the menu. I was hoping you could locate that for me!” If you meet a person that does either of these things, back away slowly, and run in the opposite direction as swiftly as possible.

This is the same mentality I take with TNA Addicts because they devour Popcorn Wrestling every week on TNA iMPACT.  Total Non-Stop Anticipation is responsible for more ADHD outburst than a fireworks and laser/lights show in a room with tear away walls…wait…that IS the iMPACT Zone…

The Popcorn Wrestling that I’m referring to is the idea that a company can have a product that has a number of pop-up moments that are exhaled by the ADHD (IWC) wrestling fan base. Ultimately these Popcorn moments do not lead to anything.

After last night’s (1-17-13) episode of TNA iMPACT, I realized something very important.  I am not conditioned to watch TNA due to my heightened level of analysis! TNA Addicts watch iMPACT in an episodic manner.  They can celebrate every episode because that’s all they are looking for, a weekly fix.

I, along with many other members of the L.E.W.D. Crew, analyse the product for the value that it brings and the value that it provides for both the past and future product.  Unfortunately, TNA does not present a product that is promising for either the past, present, or future.

SO…Last night, the wedding of Bully/Buh-Buh/Mark (he was referred to as all three last night) Ray and Brooke Hogan was to take place. The wedding went as a wedding is supposed to until it was time for the presiding official to declare them husband and wife. Tazz then proceeded to interrupt them with two points: 1. Nonsensical babbling about whether or not Bully Ray wanted to do this. 2. “Is it just me, or is it hot in here?” Then he removes his tux jacket to reveal that he was wearing an Aces & Eights vest…

This is where the separation between me and the TNA Addicts comes in.  Beyond the fact that it provided a “Moment” that will be talked about in the collective basements of the 40 Addicts convulsing from their overdose of Anticipation, what good came from last night? (I’ll wait……………………………………………………….)

Let’s look at this in the three categories of time.

The Past:

The biggest issue I have with this is that TNA and their Addicts have boasted about how their product is “Cutting Edge,” “Not the WWE” and “Pro Wrestling”…Now maybe I am just…NO!! For almost a month now, the show has been closed out with the “Worst GM in Wrestling” “The Infamous” Hulk Hogan, his ravaged daughter/”Knockout’s GM” Brooke, a suspended talent/”Best heel in the business” Bully/Buh-Buh/Mark Ray (Whom is now a face…), and a band of biker men that don’t have contracts or personalities but can cause chaos for the sake of chaos given that we still don’t know their motives.  Pro Wrestling right?

The most recent episodes have featured the TNA Champion Jeff Hardy (carrying 2 belts) in the opening segments and maybe having a match preceding the dramatic close not involving said championship,  thus making the main event the aforementioned debauchery!

Maybe I’m wrong…NO!!! That is Sports Entertainment be definition!

The Present:

A moment…That’s all it was. (Thanks Da Infamous DiZ)

Tazz took off a jacket, became a public member of Aces & Eights, and this provided a brief moment of WTF.  But as my good friend Mr. Quinn Gammon stated, there are 2 types of WTF’s. One is the expression of Shock and Awe, and the other is the expression of confusion and distaste.  The problem with this “Moment” is that the percentages for the WTF had to be 40%/60%. This would mean that more than half of your live studio audience was confused as to what was going on, and why is the announcer guy joining the other team.

Mr. Ashley Morris brought up a great point as well in a conversation that Tazz is the “Human Suplex Machine” only to those who knew of him in his ECW days. He had a very short (unmemorable) stint as a wrestler in the WWE, so to the vast majority/casual fan, Tazz is no more than the announcer guy, and given that you can’t hear the announcers during a live recording, most of the Addicts in the arena, whom are regulars, will not be familiar to Tazz’s contribution to the product, therefore causing confusion as to why it is important for him to go to the “other side”.

The Future:

Not much of one with this story…

What happens now? What value does the A’s & 8′s get with the addition of Tazz? They already have sponsored segments on the show anyways.  They already have infinite access to the arena. If they can just learn how to wrestle in matches, they may actually make an impa…NO!!! They simply do not matter! We still do not know why they exist. Every other Hostile Takeover that has happened has had an immediately stated motive as to why they do what they do…except this one! That is not innovative or groundbreaking, that’s just STUPID!!!

Popcorn Wrestling is just something that I can not get into simply because I look at wrestling to be thorough entertainment.  There is a big difference between whimsical and nonsensical. I will watch (and sometimes enjoy) the whimsical over the nonsensical any day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love some good old-fashioned wrasslin’, but I like to deal with organization that don’t have an ongoing identity crisis!

What do you think?

Rt. Rev. Showtime


The Road to WrestleMania 29 – Dream match in the works?

I certainly hope everyone’s 2013 is off to a great start. This is my favorite time of the year because the “Road to WrestleMania” is arguably the most intense, exciting time of the wrestling year.

That being said,  here at the L.E.W.D. Headquarters I am the one who is always pontificating on weird scenarios I think I see playing out, and possible matches as we head towards the “grandest stage of them all”.

Given that tonight is the first Monday Night Raw of the New Year and officially marks the beginning of the “Road”, I thought I would share something I found very interesting and get our loyal readers feedback.

Recently, Showrenity posted some comments from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson regarding his upcoming WrestleMania match:

“The storyline will be that starting this coming Monday [for RAW], I’m gonna go back, and it’s going to be a big return. That will lead to, hopefully, what will be the biggest WrestleMania of all time at Giants Stadium. I will headline that show, with someone who I can’t say right now. We’ve got an amazing four months lined up and planned out that will culminate in the biggest WrestleMania of all time. It’s going to be a hell of a thing.”

“…biggest WrestleMania of all time.” Those are mighty big words…even for The Rock.

Now, riddle me this LEWDers… does The Rock vs. CM Punk sound like “the biggest WrestleMania of all time”? What about The Rock vs. John Cena – ‘Once In A Lifetime, Again?’ Nay, I say.

What if…WHAT IF… Cena causes Punk to lose to The Rock at the Royal Rumble out of mere spite for having not been able to beat the “People’s Champ” at WM28, hoping to once again rub shoulders with the “Brahma Bull” in New York, this year? Well, that’s all fine and dandy except that little stipulation that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets to main event at WrestleMania against a champion of their choosing (of course, not forgetting that Dolph Ziggler having his guaranteed World Heavyweight Championship match would pretty much lead the winner of the Rumble to the WWE Championship.)

Then the thought struck me – what other marquee name and match is missing from the WrestleMania line up? Ryback isn’t quite ready. Orton will need an opponent… HHH and Lesnar are set to do battle…..hmmm….(this is when I got that eerie feeling I get sometimes)

Could the Undertaker be a mystery entrant into the Royal Rumble, win it, and go on to have a true blockbuster of a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 29? Aaaaand……..discuss!


Wrasslin is Nothing Without Logic (by Corbin Macklin)

I thought about writing a year end review or a “What I’d Like to See in 2013” and said “Fuck it”; I’ll just type in a vacuum in which only my thoughts matter. Today I want to talk about how much I think the talent in WWE is great, but just horribly booked. There is no logic in most major storylines, if there is a storyline.

If you ever watch a boxing or an MMA PPV, the lead into or the build to the fight is often more entertaining than the actual fight. Think about some of the best wrasslin matches you ever saw and tell me it wasn’t the storytelling of said match that made it great!
I’m currently watching the Brock Lesnar DVD and he had great matches with the Undertaker… but it was the story, that Brock touched his wife’s pregnant stomach before Unforgiven, leading to a no contest brawl. Then before No Mercy in Hell in a Cell, he broke Undertaker’s hand, then beat the shit out of him. That easily shits all over ANY story WWE has told in the past couple of years.

Leading up to WrassleMania 27, CM Punk cost Randy Orton the WWE Championship on several occasions with help from the New Nexus, because Orton cost him the World Heavyweight Championship with help from Legacy. He defaced Orton’s bus, threatened his wife and injured his knee with a pipe. Orton took out the entire Nexus with punts… then the entire thing went to SHIT IMO when CM Punk did not win any of the great PPV matches they had.

See the huge disparity between the stories? WWE books heels weak as fuck now, making all the heat worthless. Babyfaces are supposed to overcome adversity at the end, if at all… but now faces win all the fucking time. It’s to the point where you’re shocked when heels win anything.

I’ve written about my frustration with how Alberto Del Rio is booked. IMO he is in a class with only CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan (and maybe Dolph Ziggler) in terms of pure technical wrasslin ability. He is made to look weak by constantly losing to top faces like Cena, Sheamus and Orton, and when he lost the WWE ship to Punk. Recently, out of nowhere, he was booked in a PPV tag match as a face then like a week later the nigga ran over Santa Claus, then the SAME week wrassled Big Show for the WHC as a face seeking revenge for his friend and personal ring announcer… huh!?!

WWE does not give any fucks about a little thing called “logic”. Yet another reason I believe ratings and PPV buy rates are low is because most matches are storyless, predictable jobber squash matches. Too much time is given to logic black holes like a bitch wearing a “Cougar” chain who helped not one but two men win world titles while in power… accusing someone else of having an affair. Soap opera trash.

PG rating or not, wrasslin is a violent sport. All the fuck you need to do is present a LOGICAL reason why two motherfuckers want to beat the shit out of each other. Then, don’t fuck it up by having the so-called good guy win every fucking time. Shit is REAL simple.

Hypothetical scenario: Mark Henry comes back, and in a backstage interview, he says that before he got hurt, he was beating the brakes off Superstars left and right, and now he’s back to add new names to his Hall of Pain. *camera cuts to Sheamus* Sheamus talks about how much he loves a good fight, and he’d love to pick up where they left off… because he hasn’t forgotten being thrown through the barricade at the Money in the Bank PPV. Later on its announced that they will face off in a Street Fight in the main event. Henry wins, with help from Big Show. They have a rematch at the next PPV in a cage match. Sheamus escapes the cage to win. They fight a rubber match, Big Show causes a DQ loss for Henry, who cracks him in the back with a chair, grabs a mic and says “I haven’t forgotten you taking that WHC from me at TLC… I want what’s mine!” *drops mic*

Didn’t that story sound… logical? Don’t you care what happens next?


The Shield – inJUSTice?: TOO SWEET!

shieldnwo

OK, first of all… don’t get me wrong… I like “The Shield”. I like the “nWo”. I know there have been countless diatribes about how “The Shield” is the new “nWo”, and how horrible and atrocious it is. Just a few quick thoughts on the whole angle…

I think what we so often forget is that not everything needs to be reinvented or brand new. “Ice Ice Baby” and “Under Pressure” are both awesome songs. Krystal’s and White Castle – delicious. American Idol and The X Factor – entertaining. Every ride at the State Fair picks you up, spins you around, and has flashing lights…and we line up for every one of them.

You’re right, Nic. All of those things are very similar, if not identical, and we love them – but what does that have to do with pro wrestling?

A-ha! See, the nWo revolutionized everything we knew about professional wrestling at the time and to this day I challenge you to go to any live wrestling event and NOT find a dozen black and white t-shirts, and kids proclaiming everything is “Too Sweet!”. In 2002, Vince McMahon announced the end of “nWo era” in professional wrestling.

Can you believe it’s been nearly 11 years since there has been any makeup of the nWo in a professional wrestling company? 15 years since the original nWo splintered, in WCW? Yet they are still everyday conversation in the pro-wrestling world.

Which brings me to my next point – all of the biggest factions we’ve ever loved in wrestling are all ultimately the same idea, with a different a paint job. The Four Horsemen were flashier, DX was edgier, the Nation of Domination were more supremacists, The Corporation were more corporate, The Ministry was darker…yet, they all had the exact same makeup, goal, and gang warfare approach. A group of men set apart (by social class, wealth, race, lack of respect for authority, or sense of injustice…), and all decided they were going to take matters into their own hands to achieve their sought after result.

None of these groups fell flat, and all were parts of significant moments in the history of pro-wrestling. So what’s the big stink of alluding to the nWo, arguably the most influential and course shifting faction in pro-wrestling history? I see none. Now, should The Shield be running out in black and white shirts, doing black and white promos, calling themselves “The Outsiders”? No. However, any group with any sort of “invasion” aspect to its approach is going to draw comparisons to the nWo. Why not embrace that, and capitalize on it?

A few “Fantasy Booking” tips, inspired by the nWo that The Shield could benefit from:

HOW IT WAS DONE

  • The Shield’s “interview” on Monday Night Raw came across incredibly awkward, flat, scripted, polished and everything that these guys are not. 

HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN (aka Armchair Quarterbacking, Fantasy Booking, HuffPuffery)

  • On the second week of Monday Night Raw after The Shield had made themselves known. Not a ton of exhausting references made to them throughout the show and no discussion of who they are, by name or otherwise. Some subtle allusions to what has happened already, and during one of the third hour segments they appear from the crowd and blindside the announcers mid-commentary. Roughing them a little (grabbing tie’s, collars, shoving them out of the way, etc…)
  • Acost the announcing table, and headsets. Off the cuff, unscripted, unpolished promo like a group of rogue “wrestlers” would give. Allude to who they were, and what their intent was. Mess the ringside area up a little bit on their way out, the last 15-20 seconds of the segment have no commentary, and the show cuts to commercial. When the show comes back, the announcers are back and in slight disarray and pissed about what happened.
  • Not unlike this: 

HOW IT WAS DONE

  • We saw The Shield looming over the crowd, and ultimately interfering in key moments of the program where they felt “injustice” was present. While one or two of these group beatdowns makes sense – these could be handled differently as well.

HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN (aka Armchair Quarterbacking, Fantasy Booking, HuffPuffery)

  • At the end of the lie detector test, this past week on Raw, right when Miz has Punk cornered and the tension is building…we cut to a shot of The Shield storming into a “production truck” and bullying the director into cutting the feed. When he declines the request, they ultimately get aggressive and begin hitting all of the buttons, breaking screens, whatever it takes to “stop the injustice” from occurring. 

Closing Thoughts…

The Shield needs a “moment”. An iconic image that signals their era has begun… who will ever forget Hogan storming to the ring during the “Hostile Takeover” match and ultimately dropping the leg on Savage, the ring filling with trash, and the cutting the promo signifying the dawning of the “New World Order of professional wrestling”?

One of the most controversial, and one of my favorite moments, was the debut of the Age Of The Fall in ROH. Words don’t do it justice, but after one of the most brutal matches in history referred to only as “Ladder War” between the Briscoe Bro’s.  and Kevin Steen & El Generico, the Age Of The Fall would make their debut, hanging a sacrificial Jay Briscoe upside down above the ring, while Jacobs cuts a promo with blood dripping down all over his white suit…(ahem…what’s up Tyler Black?!)

I can’t help but feel like The Shield should have been distanced from “NXT” in their debut. The fact that they are being associated with CM Punk, the fashion in which they debuted, and their obvious connections to the developmental organization, just made the whole thing uncomfortable “Nexus-y”. I’ve intentionally avoided talking about them in this discussion, because I feel like Nexus was an unsuccessful attempt at what The Shield could accomplish, but linking the two together will almost instantly doom the angel from the beginning.

To avoid going into any more depth and detail on the intricacies of this angle, I will wrap this up. I look forward to seeing what comes of the new TLC Main Event (Ryback & Team Hell No vs. The Shield – TLC), and welcome any and all discussion, retorts, and feedback on my opinions here.


L.E.W.D. Booking 101 – Is This The “End” of Claire Lynch??? (Pt. 2)

For those of you just now joining our conversation, here’s Pt. 1 of our discussion on Claire Lynch.

I’ll admit that the title of this two-part post is a bit misleading, particularly because I’ve attempted to show how the story line doesn’t have anything to do with Claire Lynch really.

The real issue is that fans have associated the story line with Claire Lynch, thus believing that her hasty exit from IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! and TNA meant the end of the story.  From that perspective, yes Claire Lynch is good and gone from our television screens.

What remains is a bitter rivalry between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, one that reaches way back into the early days of TNA Wrestling.  Kazarian simply adds a new face to a symbolically ancient feud between two off-screen buddies.

Why is any of this significant?  Without going into deep detail of the personal relationship between the two men, Daniels and Styles work well together in the ring because of their relationship outside of the ring.  It’s no different than the bromance between BFFs Triple H and Shawn Michaels.

Collectively speaking Styles and Daniels are one of TNA’s greatest assets when it comes their product and talent roster.  Both men are capable of having excellent matches, but they’re even more capable of having five-star matches with one another.  This isn’t saying that all of their matches have been MOTY candidates, but 9 times out of 10 you can count on them to put on one hell of a show at any given moment.

This also happens to be one of TNA’s greatest weaknesses.  The company relies heavily on these two, and when creative seemingly can’t come up with anything to do with either one of them individually, they just slap them together and let nature take its course.  This creates a major problem: what exactly do you do with Daniels and Styles when the honeymoon is over?  This problem is complicated further when you’ve slapped the tag team titles on Daniels and “The Other Guy.”

In three days Kazaniels, also known as the World Tag Team Champions of the World, will be celebrating the two month anniversary of their second reign as tag team champions.  From June 28th (when they won the titles) up until today, they’ve only defended the titles once: on the August 9th episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! against the team of Garett Bischoff and Devon.

It’s ludicrous to believe that Kazaniels should be defending the titles every week, but consider the fact that TNA proudly promotes the “wrestling” side of its product more so than the “sports entertainment” aspects and fans can begin to make some important connections between points A and B of this story line.

The World Tag Team Champions of the World are/were wrapped up in the Claire Lynch portion of the AJ Styles “golden boy” story.  To place them in a significant feud with another tag team would complicate their involvement with Styles.  Therefore any title matches not involving AJ Styles would only be necessary for the sake of saying that the belts have been defended.

Here’s a real rib-tickler: who would Kazaniels defend the titles against?  There are very few, if any, established tag teams left in TNA right now.  So even if the WTTCOTW’s were not involved with Styles, who would they defend the titles against?  Hernandez y Guerrero?  Kid Kash and Gunner?  Magnus and Joe?

Idealistically Claire Lynch’s departure would free up the tag team champs, enabling them to get involved in a feud that value to the titles and prestige back to the division.  Hell, even the Aces and 8s could provide invigoration and new blood for the failing division.

That’s not going to happen though.  The tag champs are still involved in a story line with AJ Styles and adding two more individuals to the story line would unnecessarily complicate the already convoluted story line.  But the story line has ended, right?  That frees up AJ, Daniels and Kazarian for new story lines.  Wrong again; it’s anybody’s guess as to who will win the BFG Series now that the Aces and 8s story line has taken center stage.

Here are some facts we know: the top four men in the BFG Series are (from the top down) James Storm, Samoa Joe, Rob Van Dam, and AJ Styles.  The next four competitors with an immediate chance to rise above the red line of death are (from the top down) Kurt Angle, Bully Ray, Mr. Anderson, and Jeff Hardy.

The round robin portion of the BFG Series will end in two weeks on September 6th, and the four competitors above the red line of death will compete in a single elimination tournament at the No Surrender Pay Per View on September 9th.  The winner of that tournament will move on to become the number one contender to face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the Bound for Glory Pay Per View, which takes place on October 14th.

Austin Aries, the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion, was attacked by the Aces and 8s gang on last Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE!  Former champion Robert Roode has lost the right to challenge Austin Aries for that title after losing to him at the Hardcore Justice Pay Per View on August 12.

Here is a bit of speculation: Austin Aries may have suffered an injury that will keep him from competing, forcing him to vacate the title.  If he’s forced to vacate the title a series of matches may take place to crown a “new” champion in a main event match at No Surrender in two weeks.  Robert Roode could easily end up in the tournament and regain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, moving on to the Bound for Glory Pay Per View to face James Storm, the winner of the BFG Series and the superstar who has a major grudge to settle with Roode anyway.

Or…Robert Roode returns and demands that as the former champion and previous number one contender, he deserves the right to be crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.  Interim General Manager Sting, or General Manager Hogan, places him in matches to determine the new number one contender culminating in a championship match at No Surrender.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Austin Aries, still hell bent on regaining his title, will return more focused on seeking revenge against the Aces and 8s, taking him out of the title hunt for awhile.  Everyone else rallies once again against the scourge that is the Aces and 8s, including AJ Styles.  But AJ has been thoroughly humiliated by Kazaniels two times, when they accused him of having an affair with Dixie Carter and when they accused him of siring Claire Lynch’s unborn and fictional child.

Logically speaking Styles cannot simply walk away from this situation.  One week ago the man wrestled Daniels just to gain the right to have a paternity test to prove he wasn’t the father of the baby because he couldn’t remember whether or not he actually slept with Claire Lynch.  He avoided talking to Claire, was accused of running away from his responsibilities when he went to Australia to do a promotional tour for TNA.  The message from Claire’s attorney was cute and sweet, but it doesn’t explain AJ’s silence or confusion on the matter.  It also doesn’t solve the initial problem: Kazaniels dislike of Styles’ golden boy image.

And there’s the question: what do you do now with Styles and Kazaniels?

I got a great idea! Seeing as Kharma was released by the WWE, and her 90 no-compete clause could be coming up soon…you see where I’m going with this…

The answer is simple; you keep the story going between the three of them and conclude the drama at the Bound for Glory Pay Per View OR with another Wild Card Tournament beginning in December for the World Tag Team Championships.  Whatever the case may be, the feud between Kazaniels and Styles is not over and done with.  With no competition, Kazaniels can still work to prove that AJ Styles isn’t as clean cut as he makes himself to be.

Styles, on the other hand, needs at least one more episode of IMPACT Wrestling LIVE! or a Pay Per View match to put Kazaniels out of their misery to move on to bigger something else.  A really good way to stick it to the team would be to take the tag titles away from them again…much like he and Kurt Angle did at Slammiversary 2012; but that’s just wishful thinking.  Or is it?

My last thought is this: TNA can drag out a story line for at least one year, and the true beginning of the drama between Styles, Daniels and Kazarian had nothing to do with Claire Lynch.  With Lynch gone, the absurdity of the drama can be replaced with a more compelling and intriguing finish to the 500th iteration of Styles versus Daniels.  At this point we can only hope that things won’t get as worse as they already have.


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