He’s big, he’s black, he likely runs through trees and eats tables. He drags 20 ton trucks several feet, two at a time. He maintains a fictional location where he fictionally enshrines the people he beats up. He’s the one of the only people active or inactive in the WWE who can still become a true Grand Slam champion. He can make the claim towards being the world’s strongest man and maintains, at this moment, the title as “The Second Strongest Man That Ever Lived”. He’s one of the inductees to the International Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2012, also known as the FIRST class of the International Sports Hall of Fame, and he’s the only professional wrestler amongst his classmates. His theme music is courtesy of Academy Award winning artists. He “romanced” the likes of Chyna and Mae Young and is the father of a now full grown hand. He joined up with a coalition of black people as a means to take less guff from “the man”. He battled the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 22. He was a pallbearer at Michael Clarke Duncan’s funeral. His catchphrase is “That’s what I do!”.
Frankly I could continue, but it would play out like a massive drawing of the people who have an opinion on James Howlett. Mark Jerrold Henry is simply “that dude”. Everyone knows someone who they would define as “that dude”. He’s the big shot. It could be argued that he is to professional wrestling/sports entertainment what James Howlett is. His catchphase could just as easily be “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice.”
No shit. In the ring he throws you, slams you and causes massive damage. Backstage he bum rushes you, leaves you mangled and walks away after proclaiming “THAT’S WHAT I DO!” In the parking lot he drags eighteen wheelers for the hell of it. In the WWE, he is tasked with entertaining the people, and through senseless violence and being the threatening black guy (because the other black guys are non-threatening, what with their lack of facial hair (Kingston is African so technically we don’t count him as a “threatening black guy”)) he succeeds!
But what will ultimately make this a relatively short post isn’t his accomplishments, but what he represents. Mark Henry has been part of the WWE for eighteen years as of March 11th. Eighteen years. Non-stop. No other company. Just the WWE. And through thick and thin, good and bad, controversial angle after controversial angle after humiliating angle, he’s been a part of the WWE. Through multiple injuries, he’s been a part of the WWE. If nothing else, you can gain a terrific lesson in perseverance and company loyalty from Mark Henry. It was one thing for him to get the European Championship at a time when being a part of a Nation of Islam-type of group was big. But on September 18, 2011, we all knew that Randy Orton was going to beat Mark Henry to defend the World Heavyweight Championship.
We all knew.
And we were all so wrong.
Mark Henry isn’t an in-ring technician like a lot of his smaller peers. He’s amazing when he has a microphone in his hand or a headset on his ears. He isn’t a fighter so much as a massive brawler. He inspires fear when he opens his mouth and I’m completely convinced that he’s the nicest guy you could possibly know outside of the realm of his in-ring character. Perhaps most importantly, he stands as the only high-profile person on the WWE roster that the Shield hasn’t messed with, and I don’t know why but I think that’s significant. Much like a woman scorned or Wu Tang: a terrifying black man with a lot of facial hair “ain’t nuttin’ ta f*** wit”.
So in bringing this completely praiseworthy piece to a close, I say thank you, Mark Jerrold Henry, for being entertaining and vicious in a way only bears and Mr. Rogers have ever had the capacity to be. Thank you for the years of joy and the Hall of Pain. Thanks for the memories, and here’s to many more.
On Thursday, April 18, 2013 a press conference was held in Orlando, Florida by World Wrestling Entertainment.
It was at this press conference that WWE Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events Paul “Triple H” Levesque, along with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Full Sail University President Garry Jones, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orange County Commissioner Peter Clarke, announced the opening of the WWE’s state-of-the-art Performance Center. The Performance Center will serve as the home to WWE’s talent developmental system and will also create at least 100 new jobs in Orlando.
The following is taken from the press release about the facility:
“With 26,000 square-feet, seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program and cutting-edge edit and production facilities, the new Performance Center will give WWE the ability to train more potential performers than ever before through a comprehensive program including in-ring training, physical preparedness and character development.
The new center will be the training ground for talent that includes former professional and collegiate athletes, Olympians and entertainers, and will offer a best-in-class sports medicine program creating a central location for all WWE talent to receive the best care both in and out of the ring.”
Among other things this announcement also furthers WWE’s relationship with Full Sail University, which serves as the current home for the WWE NXT taping series and also allows students (such as our very own THE Nic Johnson) of the university to gain “real-world experience” alongside WWE production team members.
The creation and announcement of WWE’s Performance Center is rife with irony, the incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.
The irony of the whole Performance Center project is that most people expect the facility to produce top-notch WWE Superstars when the actual result will more than likely resemble the same crop of superstars already present in the company. Effectively it appears that WWE has partnered with several entities in Orlando to create more modern and efficient methods of producing crap.
That assessment of the situation is a tad bit unfair, particularly seeing as the fruits of the Performance Center won’t be truly seen for at least another year or two from today. As nifty as the bells and whistles sound, however, all the wrestling rings and hi-tech equipment in the world cannot and will not replace some of the most fundamental and rudimentary realities that are necessary for the development of a “true” wrestling superstar.
The phrase “Performance Center” is oddly reminiscent of the same cold and mechanical training regimen used by Ivan Drago in the blockbuster film Rocky IV. Despite the flashing lights, the new age equipment, the meter readings and steroid vitamin enhancement injections, there was no machine or drug vitamin in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that could develop the one muscle Drago needed to defeat Rocky Balboa…heart.
WWE’s hi-tech Performance Center will undoubtedly provide wrestling hopefuls the tools and opportunities necessary to become a WWE superstar, but it will most assuredly lack the proverbial heart needed for athletes to excel as wrestlers with the total package. The skills and tools needed to have the total package cannot be found or taught in a fancy facility in one of the country’s most well-known hot spots for tourists and alcoholic college students.
This facility will not “train” men and women wrestlers to become WWE Superstars; it will eventually breed WWE Superstars flat out, and a WWE Superstar is something very different than a wrestler looking to become a WWE Superstar.
On April 5, a pre-WrestleManiaXXIX interview with WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan was featured in The Washington Post. In the interview, journalist David Malitz had the following to say about Bryan’s journey thus far in his career:
“Bryan’s path to WWE was built on giving his best showing night after night on stages microscopic compared to the scale of that on which he’ll perform Sunday. Over a decade, he has worked for dozens of companies on the sprawling independent wrestling circuit, from Pennsylvania to Japan, and earned a reputation as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world. This means he is someone who can make any move in the ring look devastating, graceful and believable, whether he is on the giving or receiving end — an essential skill for a wrestler.”
According to Malitz’s piece, Bryan—formerly known to wrestling fans by his real name Bryan Danielson—honed his craft for ten years prior to arriving in WWE. In those ten years Bryan traveled extensively all over the United States and even wrestled in Japan on numerous occasions; Malitz implies that it was during this time and not upon his arrival in WWE that Bryan gained a reputation for being one of “the best technical wrestlers in the world.”
What’s missing from the Performance Center is a focus on talent developing their skills as wrestlers before landing a developmental contract with WWE. More telling is the idea, the notion that these men and women (or professional/collegiate athletes, Olympians and entertainers) would have gained this experience on their own which would ultimately lead WWE to giving them a developmental contract. That idea is not necessarily a given, as has been made painfully obvious with certain Superstars and Divas in the past (Kelly Kelly for example).
Fans paying attention to this are witnessing a distinct difference in the execution of a developmental territory as opposed to a developmental system. Wrestlers today looking to make it big in the WWE enter into its developmental territory and spend 2-4 years translating their craft into an easy-to-swallow WWE-esque style, not necessarily gaining any experience from working around the world by being a part of a network of territories in a full-fledged developmental system.
But in those 2-4 years these men and women are picking up the habits, traits and skills that will define their careers in terms specific WWE. These wrestlers will learn one particular style that is honestly suitable for that specific company and its specific audience. As a result the wrestler will only have limited resources to pull from when it comes to putting together a match that energizes and entertains fans.
In the WWE’s case, that is a simplistic style that tends to look and operate like the pro wrestling equivalent to a color-by-the-numbers activity book. This, of course, does not sit well with older fans or those fans that prefer “wrestling” over “sports entertainment.” In the same breath it positions the company to consistently churn out more and more individuals will simply provide the WWE with the same results they’ve been garnering for the past 10-11 years.
Consider Bryan’s words towards the end of the Washington Post interview:
“I don’t consider it wrestling…I’ve done wrestling. Everywhere. And just by being a good wrestler you can become popular. But not here. It’s more important to be entertaining than it is to be a great wrestler. It’s fascinating to me…”
The new WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida is perhaps best equipped to produce entertainers. The problem is that wrestlers can be very entertaining if they’re given the opportunity to add new dimensions and layers to their already vast repertoire (i.e. Bryan Danielson).
On the other hand it is not set in stone that an entertainer will be able to be a convincing wrestler, “someone who can make any move in the ring look devastating, graceful and believable, whether he is on the giving or receiving end — an essential skill for a wrestler.” That’s not something than can be trained or gained in 2-4 years in a stint in a facility in Orlando.
Chris Jericho’s amazing story as a professional wrestler serves as a perfect example of this point. Although Jericho’s journey has been extensively covered in his books A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex and Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, his path in wrestling was most succinctly described in his DVD “Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho.”
Jericho began his trek with two goals: to become a rock star and a wrestler. This started with Jericho getting a degree in communications at 19, wrestling at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1989. In 1992 he traveled and wrestled in Mexico City until 1994, where he learned how to “work a crowd.” It was in Mexico where he also learned and adopted elements of the Lucha Libre style.
For six weeks after his stint in Mexico City he worked in Hamburg, Germany where he learned how perform mentally a different match every night (as he performed in front of the same crowd every night for six weeks straight). From that point Jericho found himself in Japan, where he learned how to become a technically gifted wrestler and gained the respect of several key figures and wrestlers in the industry. Jericho also learned the Strong style and adopted that to his repertoire.
Also in 1994 Jericho worked for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in Tennessee, where he learned the Southern style of cutting great promos. In 1996 Jericho was able to land a job with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he wrestled in front of the country’s most rabid and diehard wrestling fans. From 1996-1999 Jericho worked for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Finally in August of 1999, Chris Jericho debuted in the WWF, bringing altogether 10 years of experience from organizations spread across five different countries in Asia, North America and Europe. To this day Chris Jericho is one of the most well respected wrestlers and veterans still able to entertain fans as a wrestler…and a rock star.
Is it feasible or possible for those same skills to be taught to a young wrestler coming into the Performance Center for a 2-4 year stint before being brought up to the main roster? Even with the guidance and tutelage of veterans in the business, nothing can replace the real life experience of having to perform for different crowds around the world or even the country.
That being said, the WWE’s state-of-the-art facility can only exist to help future superstars add one more element to their skill sets as wrestlers. The real issue, an issue WWE will have to respond to eventually, is whether or not they’re open to hiring wrestlers that have honed their skills over a solid period of time in promotions outside of the United States. Better still, will WWE have the gumption to send all of its developmental stars around the world (or even the country) to adequately hone their skills and talents?
It’s exciting to have a facility in Orlando with seven rings and a team of nutritionists, but all the fancy pants flash in the world can’t make up for a wrestler’s experience in putting on an entertaining and captivating story.
Straight from the “Who Gives a Damn” files of pro wrestling comes a cute story about Ring of Honor Wrestling…
Every Tuesday ROH Wrestling sends out an email to fans called the “Tuesday Rollout,” which is essentially just a weekly note about ROH events and merchandise. What’s impressive about this weekly email is the rate at which the company is able to pump out new DVD releases. Then again when you have eleven years of footage at your disposal, it’s not really a bad thing to put out more than just a PPV on DVD…*ahem*
Tuesday’s ROH Rollout featured a DVD entitled “Colt Cabana: Chicago’s Favorite Son.”
This DVD is a 16-match compilation of some of Colt’s most memorable matches in ROH. Here’s a blurb about the 2-disc set:
The funny man, the man who has given us so many Good Times and Great Memories, he is Colt Cabana and this is a chronicle of his journey in Ring of Honor. Whether it be standing alongside CM Punk & Ace Steel as a Second City Saint, or running solo in pursuit of championship success, Cabana has proven himself a master of the art of pro wrestling.
He can brawl, he can grapple, he can go hold-for-hold with Nigel McGuinness or punch-for-punch with Homicide, Cabana has prided himself on adapting to his opponents and this 2-Disc DVD set is a showcase of his ability. Through 16 complete matches, not to mention several “Good Times, Great Memories” segments, this collection features Colt facing the likes of Samoa Joe, Low Ki, Austin Aries, and more as he shows just why he is Chicago’s Favorite Son!
Sounds like a good deal, right?
On that very same day, Cabana put out this interestingly telling message via the Twittahverse:
While it’s safe to assume that only the plucky and easily agitated members of the IWC were irate at such an occurrence, this whole situation is enough to make even the most apathetic of casual wrestling fans shake their head in disbelief.
We here at L.E.W.D. are not above shameless plugs and promotions (please visit The Color Commentator and The Brady Hicks for more pro wrasslin’ greatness), but it truly is an odd day for pro wrestling fans when a company has to blatantly resort to coasting off of the success of former stars in order to stay relevant; please take that tongue-in-cheek comment in any way you see fit or deem appropriate.
On the other hand this is not a practice that has occurred and is occurring only in Ring of Honor. TNA fans (and some of the wrestlers) have recently accused WWE of copying storylines (AJ Styles/Dixie Carter/Clair Lynch vs. John Cena/AJ Lee), stealing production practices (the “Last week on IMPACT Wrestling” opening videos), and even adding current members of the IMPACT Wrestling roster to their Alumni Page.
In comparison half of TNA’s roster gained notoriety in other promotions and a good chunk of their major storylines have either happened in the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars, or tend to be rehashes of the same hostile takeover programs that have occurred in the company since…well…forever.
What makes Ring of Honor’s situation depressingly sad is that up until Colt Cabana’s tweet (and arguably afterward), very few people noticed or even cared enough to speak about the company’s uncanny ability to release a “new” DVD for a former ROH star conveniently after said star started becoming more of a household name.
This practice honestly came to my attention after CM Punk’s groundbreaking and refreshing Pipe Bomb promo on the June 27, 2011 episode Monday Night RAW. What followed was one exhilarating roller coaster ride that saw Punk win the WWE Championship from John Cena and “leave” the WWE with the title. Soon after that commentators made comparisons between Punk’s actions in WWE and his actions in ROH prior to his departure from the company in 2005.
In February of 2012 ROH released the Summer of Punk DVD…because…well…to show fans how awesome a company ROH was and where CM Punk’s initial disregard for oppressive institutions developed.
From that point on Ring of Honor gained a surge of momentum when it came to churning out footage of former stars, primarily the stars that were making big strides in WWE and TNA.
When Claudio Castagnoli transitioned into Antonio Cesaro and captured the WWE United States Championship, ROH released this DVD:
When Nigel McGuinness trotted out his tear-jerking documentary, ROH managed to pull this chestnut out of the pantry:
When the creative team found something meaningful for Samoa Joe to do:
When El Generico landed a WWE developmental contract:
When Adam Cole got a WWE tryout match:
Although WWE has been criticized heavily and rather harshly for its refusal to create or build new superstars, and in less harsh language, TNA has also suffered somewhat for their inability to deliver fresh matches and rivalries with new talent, Colt Cabana’s tweet ultimately shows that this problem is not unique to one promotion.
It would seem all around that a part of today’s pro wrestling landscape has been shaped by an overall shift in what makes the business profitable. In the process of relying on big ticket names to push or sell the product, the three major companies have all neglected to groom the next generation of main event superstars in their own unique ways.
The WWE uses John Cena, The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar to get butts into seats; TNA uses Hulk Hogan, Sting, and Jeff Hardy to do the same. ROH apparently resorts to repackaging archived footage to get our attention and our dollars, which is particularly important for a company whose iPPVs last about as long as a case of PBR at Steve Austin’s house.
Everything ultimately falls back on us, the fans; what are we willing to support and pay for? What are we willing to watch on television and on pay per view (despite what some may say, ratings do in fact equal dollars for promotions)? It all ends up being about perspective…
If you truly enjoy and respect Colt Cabana’s work as a person, wrestler, athlete and performer, you’ll purchase merchandise from his site and from places he’s given his stamp of approval on.
If you enjoy pro wrestling and happen to be unfamiliar the stuff Cabana did in ROH (perhaps the work he’s most well-known for), then you’ll purchase the DVD from Ring of Honor without question or regret.
If you’re tired of seeming the same old faces doing the same old things from the same big three companies in the United States, perhaps you’ll invest in Lucha Libre or Puroresu (shout out to Ray Bogusz).
Regardless of how you view the situation, these companies will continue to do these types of things if we, the consumers, are complacent about these things. We can moan and complain all we want via the internet, but to really make a difference we have to start speaking with our wallets and not just with 140 characters or less. It’s not a bad thing if you pick up ROH’s 2-disc set on Colt Cabana, but it certainly won’t help Cabana if more people support the company that deemed him unmarketable rather than supporting the supposedly unmarketable man himself.
The choice is yours.
“I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your TV
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me
I tell you one and one makes three
I’m the cult of personality…”
It was only a matter of time before parallels were made between two of the industry’s most prominent and squeaky clean babyfaces.
It wouldn’t take much for any given fan—casual, hardcore, average or “extraordinary”—to recognize that both A.J. Styles and John Cena had terrible stints in their respective companies last year. While 2011-2012 saw the rise of unlikely champions in several pro wrestling promotions (CM Punk, Austin Aries, Johnny Gargano, Eddie Kingston, Kevin Steen, Colt Cabana and Adam Pearce), it also saw Cena and Styles play diminished roles in companies that had at several times in the past ten years relied heavily on their presence and activity.
For A.J. Styles, 2012 was a year that saw him as a suffering protagonist accused of engaging in adulterous and illicit activities with a pregnant “crackhead.” Once vindicated and redeemed, Styles then suffered a humiliating loss to his longtime on-screen friend-slash-rival, Christopher Daniels.
John Cena’s 2012 was mired by his bench-warming role in CM Punk’s historic yearlong WWE Championship reign. After suffering a devastating loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII and surviving a brutal thrashing from Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012, Cena found a sliver of hope in winning the 2013 Royal Rumble, awarding him the chance to face his rival for the second time in a lifetime.
As different as both instances were from each other, the John Cena and A.J. Styles characters (as well as the individuals portraying them) are traveling on similar highways at this point in their professional wrestling careers. Both characters have arguably suffered from severe stagnancy, a type of static complacency that resonated with few and nauseated most. With Cena relegated to inconceivably winning unimportant matches and incessantly spewing promos like a southern Protestant preacher or pee-wee football coach, and Styles meandering around aimlessly in a god-forsaken storyline like Howdy Doody in a Martian whorehouse, each character was on the fast track to irrelevancy.
It would become necessary, at some point, for the creative writers in TNA and WWE to evolve the Cena and Styles characters beyond the straight-laced, doe-eyed do-gooders they’ve portrayed for most of their careers.
It is assumed that the natural evolution of a “good guy” character means that they should inevitably be turned heel, made into a callous and uncaring “bad guy” that is the exact anti-thesis of what they once stood for. That often abused notion of duality, however, is what keeps most wrestling fans in their arena seats and not the plush and cushy creative director office chairs in a promotion’s front office.
Infamous wrestling guru Vince Russo once noted that he believed wrestling characters should mirror the “characters” of everyday life, noting that in life there were no completely “good” or “bad” people. To Russo, all people were a mixture of both good and bad, and if wrestling characters were to remain relevant they would have to resonate in the hearts of consumers. In other words, fans would cheer or boo people they felt were more like them (i.e. Stone Cold Steve Austin).
While Russo’s perception had it’s strengths and weaknesses, it raised a point that has surfaced in the John Cena and A.J. Styles characters. For each character to remain relevant a slight adjustment was all that was needed to provide fans with fresh faces in the stale seas of mediocrity they navigated.
A.J. Styles’ character represents retaliation, a notion of justice that’s needed to right the wrongs inflicted upon an unsuspecting individual who had lived by a disciplined code of morals and ethics. Styles’ character can be easily associated with the “Crow Sting” character from WCW after Hulk Hogan’s heel turn (something I spoke of in this piece); he can also be associated with the biblical character Job, a righteous man that found himself caught in a bet of sorts between God and the Devil.
John Cena’s character represents redemption, a response to an injustice that has occurred at his own hands. Cena’s character can be associated with Michael Vick more so than Donavon McNabb, as Cena’s downfall—the year he spent languishing in nothing in particular—was due to his own irresponsible behavior.
That being said one important question arises from these occurrences: which character has experienced the more compelling shift in evolution and priorities?
John Cena’s segment with The Rock on the March 25, 2013 edition of RAW was brilliant for several reasons, one of which was the brief glimpses of an arrogant, heelish John Cena that we haven’t seen since the rarely mentioned “Ruthless Aggression” Era. Cena was contemptuous in his resolve, admitting that his loss to The Rock was due to one simple-minded act that left him on his back staring at the lights. Cena was vehement in making it known that he defeated himself, which reveals to us a character that truly believes in the hype that has surrounded and dominated his career.
In that sense, the John Cena character is reminiscent of the real life Bret Hart, a man that honestly believes he is the end all, be all when it comes to professional wrestling. The implication from the words that came from Cena’s own mouth is that The Rock never defeated him; John Cena defeated himself.
The only reason The Rock scored the pinfall was because John Cena slipped on the goal line, allowing Rock to take advantage of the fumble to score the game winning touchdown. From this Cena contends that The Rock was never strong, talented or determined enough to truly beat Cena, that The Rock was still a Hollywood sell-out that doesn’t deserve to be in a wrestling ring.
This type of Cena is very different from the Cena that has openly admitted to losing to stars like CM Punk, Sheamus, and countless others. This type of Cena is the All-Star Varsity Team Captain who goes unpunished for violating the privacy and personal space of a cheerleader, simply because “she was asking for it.” This is the Cena that fans despise, that fans yearn and thirst to smack when they see him in the streets.
This is also the type of Cena that could snap when he loses to The Rock again, the type of Cena that could “injure” The Rock during his post-match celebration at WrestleMania XXIX. The injury would sideline the WWE Champion and force the WWE Title to be vacated, thus allowing for a reinvigorated and more edgy John Cena to find his way back into the main event picture while embracing the jeers of the crowd.
A.J. Styles, on the other hand, returned to IMPACT Wrestling two weeks ago after a lengthy hiatus following his embarrassing loss to Christopher Daniels at Final Resolution 2012. In the final moments of the match, Daniels utilized Styles’ own finishing maneuver, The Styles Clash, to gain the pinfall.
Prior to this match, Styles was the unlucky recipient of a pinfall loss in a triple threat match at Turning Point 2012 to determine the number one contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Styles was locked out of receiving a championship match until Bound for Glory 2013.
Dejected and absolutely humiliated by Daniels’ victory (ironically, a victory gained in the same manner that caused John Cena to lose his match to The Rock), Styles appeared on the December 13, 2012 episode of IMPACT Wrestling and gave a bitter soliloquy in the middle of the ring disguised as an address to the fans.
Styles’ words that day were surprising at most, but effective nevertheless in planting seeds for an A.J. Styles that fans had never seen before.
Styles’ inner thoughts and feelings were revealed for the entire wrestling audience to consider (and are loosely quoted as follows):
I don’t know where I’m is going or what the next step is. I’ve spent too much time being a corporate man and worrying about everyone else that I forgot about myself. (While taking off his Impact Wrestling shirt and hat) I’m tired of cleaning up TNA’s messes and doing the right thing. From now on, I’m going to be doing my own thing (Styles drops the microphone and leaves the ring).*
When the broken and disenfranchised wrestler returned to IMPACT Wrestling on the March 14 episode, he attacked the two men that were the source of his year long consternation (Daniels and Kazarian) and James Storm, the man that pinned him at Turning Point 2012. These actions make him a social outcast, an outsider that has every justifiable reason in the book to walk around with a huge chip on his shoulder.
This A.J. Styles is a shell of the Phenomenal One that captured the hearts of fans for his years of dedication to TNA; this A.J. Styles is only concerned about what’s good for A.J. Styles because it seems that no one else really cares. This A.J. Styles spits in the face of TNA’s beloved authority figures. This A.J. Styles will climb to the top of TNA’s ladder of success just to throw it back into the faces of all his naysayers.
Ironically enough, this A.J. Styles is also the savior TNA will need to rid the company of the Aces and 8′s infestation come Bound for Glory 2013; unfortunately for TNA, he’ll be doing it for himself and not for the company.
So the question remains…which character is more compelling? Which character would you be willing to pay money to see?
On Sunday, March 17 TNA will tape footage for its Knockout Knockdown “One Night Only” pay per view. Advertised as a Knockouts exclusive pay per view, the event will showcase the several of TNA’s female performers in order to crown one woman the “Queen of TNA.” As thrilling as the pay per view sounds, most of its publicity to date has focused on the women not attending the event instead of the actual event itself.
Bonnie Maxon (Payton Banks/Rain), Sarah Stock (Sarita), Katarina Waters (Winter), Lauren Williams (Angelina Love), Tracy Brookshaw (Traci Brooks), Kia Stevens (Awesome Kong), and Nicole Raczynski (Roxxi Laveaux/Roxxi) have all declined offers to participate in the Knockout Knockdown pay per view special.
That’s seven (7) women that have politely responded negatively to an offer to work with TNA for “One Night Only.” As delicious as the irony may be there are probably several justifiable reasons as to why these women declined the offer, most of which probably have little to do with TNA. Scheduling conflicts, interests outside of professional wrestling, and burgeoning careers in other areas could deter anyone from being available for a one shot, pay per view taping.
These issues don’t begin and end with TNA, however; according to a report from Dave Meltzer the WWE reached out to a few former Divas, offering them an opportunity to return to the company. While it was reported that a few unnamed Divas turned down the offer, the Bella Twins were apparently the first to put their pens to the contracts. This would explain their random appearance on this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW.
At first glance it would seem that these separate incidents in two different companies are not even remotely related to one another. Given the particularly fragile state of women’s wrestling in TNA and WWE, however, these incidents point to a much larger issue that warrants some conversation among fans.
Consider the following piece that offers more insight from Meltzer’s report. Speculation has it that WWE decided not to call up Divas in their NXT developmental system, with reasoning that is hearsay at best:
That’s quite the vote of no confidence in the women in NXT, but almost all of those there with the requisite looks aren’t good enough workers yet to be brought up to the main roster. The Anti-Diva Paige, who has gained a cult following at Full Sail University, is ready, but lacks the swimsuit model physique that WWE management wants from their femme fatales.
Oddly enough this “news” coincides with another report regarding the WWE’s recent efforts in creating its next cadre of Divas:
It is very obvious that the WWE has a specific agenda when it concerns their women’s division and its athletes, an agenda that typically angers the scant number of fans that actually appreciate women’s wrestling. On the other hand, it’s equally damaging to the division for fans to have an unrelenting belief that the division is without women who can actually wrestle.
In fact it could be argued that prior to the aforementioned tidbits, the WWE’s Divas Division was beginning to look a lot like TNA’s Knockouts Division from two years ago; this was something discussed, in some form or fashion, in two separate pieces written for this site which can be found here and here.
The aforementioned tidbits also conflict with two separate Twitter posts from legendary Sara Del Rey, who now works with training the up-and-coming WWE Divas:
The real question is, what is the future of the division looking like if “good work” is being done, considering the fact that former stars such as Maryse Ouellet and Barbara “Kelly Kelly” Blank (also including Kia “Kharma” Stevens, Elizabeth Kocianski “Beth Phoenix” Carolan, and Eve Torres) are being courted for returns to the company?
Things aren’t much better south of Stanford, Connecticut either; TNA’s Knockouts Division, as they are now, is a far cry from what once use to be a stellar women’s division. The lack of star power could put a serious damper on this Sunday’s Knockout Knockdown “One Night Only” pay per view taping, despite former Knockouts’ sincerest wishes to be a part of the event:
Several fans have commented on various sites and blogs that TNA’s women’s division lacks depth; even with some strides being made with the Knockouts via the Gutcheck Challenge segments, very little progress has been seen, accomplished, or (in the best case scenario) “revealed” in the product.
Taeler Conrad-Mellen (Taeler Hendrix), Lucy and Kelly Knott (Hannah and Holly, The Blossom Twins), Lei’d Tapa, and Ivelisse Velez (formerly known in WWE’s NXT as Sofia Cortez) have all attempted to gain contracts with TNA and have had some air time on IMPACT Wrestling to be introduced to the fans. Out of the five women, however, Velez is the only one to “fail” at gaining a contract with the company (an interview with the Blossom Twins revealed that they indeed have a developmental contract with TNA). Most disconcerting about Velez’s “failure” is that it came at the hands of losing the contract to Lei’d Tapa, whom most fans considered to be “too green” to even justifiably gain even a developmental contract.
The only thing that adds more fuel to the fire is the fact that prior to her Gutcheck match, Velez performed in what was received as a stellar, five-star match for the SHINE promotion affiliated with Gabe Sapolsky’s DragonGate USA/EVOLVE promotions:
This of course isn’t taking into consideration the fact that TNA’s current Knockouts Champion, Jamie “Velvet Sky” Szantyr, has been panned by some fans and critics as being least “deserving” of holding the championship over women such as Gail Kim, Mickie James, and Lisa Marie “Tara” Varon. Keep in mind that even Varon’s latest KO Title run was marred by the presence of Jessie Godderz, who’s character turned one of the most dominating female wrestlers in recent times into a starstruck, boyfriend obsessed mess of a heel.
What does all of this have to do with the current state of women’s wrestling in TNA and WWE, besides the obvious shambles that its in?
It may be nothing more than a conveniently timed occurrence, but it is telling that both companies have to look to their past in order to move their company forward. Wrestling fans at large are still very divided on what they expect to see when two women enter the squared circle.
The loudest and harshest critics, as few in number as they are, scream viciously and consistently for what is essentially equal treatment for women wrestlers. They want and expect women’s matches to go longer than one minute; they want and expect the women wrestlers to be competent in the ring. They want and expect their women’s wrestlers to be more than just eye candy doddering around the ring aimlessly.
Other wrestling fans seem content with women’s wrestling being a passing fancy, an intermission giving them a break to hit the concession stands or the bathroom stalls. They don’t expect much from the women wrestlers and are more interested in photo ops with them than they are backdrops and Iron (Wo)Man matches.
If you synthesize both of those expectations you realize that TNA and WWE are unequally yoked in responding to all of their consumers’ wants and expectations. Each promotion only caters to one specific demographic, the demographic that will add significantly to their profit margins. If this is the case, then the most pressing objective for either promotion will be to respond to the immediate concerns of the demographic that spends the most money on the product.
In the case of WWE, most fans are still stuck on the legacy of Patricia “Trish Stratus” Stratigias, who is and was arguably the last “perfect storm Diva” to compete in the WWE. To say that Stratigias was the “perfect storm Diva” is to say that everything aligned to make her 8 year stint in the WWE the Diva stint for future Divas to emulate or surpass. Stratigias’ athletic ability, combined with her particular looks and sex appeal, paired with the incredibly talented Divas surrounding her during her run, created her mythical career that is only second to the legend of Tammy Lynn “Sunny” Sytch.
The WWE has yet to find another “perfect storm Diva” and the fans’ resistance to change keeps them from advancing forward towards altering the way Divas are defined. This is why it would make sense for the WWE to court former Divas or create new ones in the mold of Trish Stratus instead of allowing a new and talented crop of Divas (i.e. Paige) to resonate with fans in their own unique way. Consider also that the company’s product is catered towards children and women (see: John Cena’s 10 Year Reign); if that is the company’s bread-winning demographic, are they the ones openly clamoring for a ten minute match between Beth Phoenix and Natalya Neidhart?
In regards to TNA’s situation, the fans surely appreciate the women’s wrestling offered by the promotion. The division’s lack of depth and focus, however, gives some the implication that the company is not concerned or as focused on the division as they have been in the past. This could be a result of the company’s attempt to define itself in terms that separate it from its closest competitor, which has ultimately caused it to look more like its competition than anything else.
Truthfully speaking the main thing that separates the Knockouts from the Divas right now is the length of their televised matches.
With their flagship show going on the road, TNA is now more in need of athletes and stars that can make their product a household name. The more they move towards this worthy goal, the more the company will look towards men and women that “look good” for media appearances.
In that sense they too are looking for a “perfect storm Knockout,” but they also cannot risk losing their hardcore demographic in the process; they cannot stand to irk their diehard fans that want to see great wrestling from female wrestlers that can go in the ring. Particularly with awarding Lei’d Tapa with a contract over Ivelisse Velez, one can only wonder about the company’s rationale in such a decision, a type of decision that is becoming more and more stereotypical of the company as they progress forward.
TNA is stuck with filling in the very visible gaps within their Knockouts Division while defining the division in the midst of fine tuning the overall vision and mission of the company. Needless to say something is bound to get lost in translation when such things are being juggled by a relatively small board of directors and creative team. The all-Knockouts pay per view on Sunday only complicates matters, forcing the company to also rely on “one-time” performers (as opposed to the “part-time” performers of WWE) to make the division appear more robust than it truthfully is.
All of these things combined leave fans (and some female wrestlers) feeling as if women’s wrestling isn’t being taken seriously by both companies in some form or fashion. Depending on your perspective, that feeling is correct and justifiable in a lot of ways.
Think of entertainment as a reflection of our society; following the events of September 11, 2001 a surge of war themed video games hit the shelves. Even to this day games like “Call of Duty” or “Halo” are best sellers among hardcore gamers. For the past few years the highest grossing movies have been films based off of comic book superheroes, dating all the way back to Tobey Maguire’s stellar performance in Sam Raimi’s 2002 blockbuster movie Spider-Man.
If the two major companies appear to place women’s wrestling as more of an afterthought, what does that say about the fans who support the product? Could it be that, despite the blog posts and YouTube videos of some prescient and super savvy fans, we’re not all that inclined to support women’s wrestling as much as we’d like to think that we would?
It says a lot about both company’s perceptions of its fans when more time is spent reaching out to former wrestlers than pushing and promoting the next generation of female superstars. What do we value if bringing back The Bella Twins, Maryse and Kelly Kelly is more of a priority than focusing on current Divas Champion Celeste “Kaitlyn” Bonin who, by the way, was a professional weight lifter (just like John Cena) before becoming a pro wrestler?
What must we value if even by kayfabe standards TNA felt it necessary to give Lei’d Tapa the contract on television over Ivelisse Velez? What must they think of us if a star like Jason “Christian York” Spence or Wesley “Wes” Brisco can win their Gutcheck challenges and immediately get placed on television and pushed, while the Blossom Twins, Taeler Hendrix and Lei’d Tapa have to report to OVW?
Finally, what can be said about the state of women’s wrestling in both companies if they’re having trouble winning back women that have already worked for them?
I still say this and stand by the point: the day wrestling fans by and large receive the best in women’s wrestling from both major companies is the same day either one of them can pull off what Dana White did with the latest UFC pay per view…
On behalf of the entire L.E.W.D. family, I would like to express our deepest sadness on the news of the passing of William “Bill” Moody, better known to most wrestling fans as Paul Bearer. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Moody’s family and friends during their time of bereavement, and we also pray that may he rest in peace as we will surely miss him.
As scores of fans and wrestlers express their sorrow at William Moody’s passing, I’d like to take a brief moment to discuss the effect this man had on my life and my gratitude for his passion and love for pro wrestling.
I’ve always known Mr. Moody as Paul Bearer, the creepy pale manager for the WWF’s/WWE’s Undertaker. I didn’t become remotely familiar with his wrestling career prior to that until recently, but to a certain extent as far as I’m concerned he’s still the Undertaker’s manager.
I realize he managed Mankind, and sure he was revealed to be Kane’s father/manager; I can’t also forget that he was encased in cement, tortured by Edge and rolled off a precipice in a wheelchair. But despite all of that, to me he’s still The Undertaker’s manager. It was as his manager that I was more drawn into The Undertaker’s character, and ultimately more drawn towards pro wrestling.
I grew up during the late eighties and early nineties when the “internet” was inconceivable and the concept of a weekly primetime live wrestling show was the most revolutionary insane idea out there. It was easier to keep kayfabe then more so than it is now, so everything I saw—everything we saw as kids—we believed.
I say that to preface my next statement…The Undertaker scared the s**t out of me.
There wasn’t just one thing that gave me the chills whenever he appeared or wrestled; I absorbed everything about his character and gimmick, making it somewhat difficult for me to watch him perform without being seized by an irrational fear of him visiting my house in Birmingham, Alabama. A large part of that irrational fear can be credited to the work of Paul Bearer.
Undertaker’s original gimmick relied on him being silent for the most part, uttering short sentences or his famous “Rest…In…Peeeaaaaccceeeee” catchphrase every now and then. In that light his gimmick was almost similar to that of a masked wrestler, an athlete who depends heavily on body language to convey emotion to the fans. Because The Undertaker was such a large, imposingly ominous and semi-mute character, Paul Bearer literally carried the cross of mic work for his client; as the “bearer” of the stick, everything about Paul had to be as equally creepy and ominous as Taker’s character, yet far less intimidating and imposing.
To say that William Moody played this role excellently would be an understatement.
Paul Bearer’s heavily make-upped and melanin deficient face, his weird sing-song whiny voice, those memorably undecipherable facial expressions, the random salutation and adoration of the mysterious urn…it’s hilarious to imagine now that all of these things caused me to fear The Undertaker. Yet they did, and Paul Bearer added volumes to the mystique that was The Undertaker. There aren’t many managers today that can do that, and there are even fewer wrestlers that can do that on their own.
This is why it’s truly difficult to say goodbye to William Moody. We’re not just saying goodbye to a wrestler or a pro wrestling manager. We’re saying goodbye to a man that was able to engage us on levels that even some of our closest friends and family members can’t do. We’re saying goodbye to a man who ran the roads and put his body on the line in the weirdest ways just for our entertainment.
If you know anything about William Moody the person, you’d know that we’re also saying goodbye to a man responsible for helping us say goodbye to our own deceased family members and friends (Moody was a funeral director in real life).
To say it succinctly, thank you Mr. Moody. Thank you for the laughs, the sheer terror, and the comforting shoulder you provided for fans and clients alike.
As you raise a glass today in honor of Paul Bearer’s memory, and as you share your favorite Paul Bearer moments with other fans, please keep in mind that we do these together this day for William Moody and the countless others who lived for pro wrestling and died after sacrificing precious moments in their own lives to giving us their all. Judging from the remarks made by wrestlers and others inside the business, I’m sure that Mr. Moody appreciated entertaining us, and we want him to know that we truly appreciated him.
Mr. Moody…rest in peace.
According to reports from celebrity gossip magazine, TMZ – recent winner of the Smackdown! Elimination Chamber match, WrestleMania 29 headliner, and American Patriot Jack Swagger was busted leaving the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS on Tuesday night. Swagger is alleged to have been speeding when he was pulled over. Officers then had suspicion to believe Swagger was driving under the influence (though not believed to be alcohol), and then searched both Swagger and his vehicle where they found marijuana.
As of writing, WWE has not released an official statement on the matter. However, according to Section 15.B of the WWE Wellness Policy -
B. FOR POSITIVE MARIJUANA DRUG TESTS
In the event of any positive test for marijuana, the WWE Talent shall be fined Two Thousand Five Hundred US Dollars ($2,500.00) per positive test, which shall be deducted from the WWE Talent’s downside guarantee.
I don’t expect Swagger to be suspended or for this situation to even be mentioned on WWE programming, however, it is interesting to note the parallels of this situation with that of another former WWE Superstar who’s career was jeopardized by his love of the herbal influence.
If you aren’t familiar, take a few moments to read over this story of the incredibly untimely arrest of Rob Van Dam and Sabu, at the peak of RVD’s popularity in WWE. The arrest came on the heels of a monumental night for pro-wrestling, where perhaps the first “Indy-Sweetheart” not only defeated John Cena in an “ECW” ring, but was crowned WWE and ECW Champion simultaneously. Of course, the subsequent arrest led to his suspension and therefore immediate plummet to the bottom of the card sans any championship gold.
Again, it’s hard to compare the two situations as the similarities are almost as numerous as the differences. However, we’d be remiss to not think of the push Swagger may have just cost himself with this stunt.
Place in your predictions as to who you think will will these matches. If you have a certain scenario to go with your decision, then put it in a comment for this article.
Today is February 11, 2013. On this particular morning I woke up a bit later than usual, yawning, stretching, groggily going to the newspaper to browse through the classifieds. I had a few frozen waffles and a glass of root beer in a pint-sized glass with a video game theme. My ears listened to CNN on the television while my eyes focused on pictures that may or may not have been safe for work as well as the Grammy won by Arturo Sandoval for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album Dear Diz, and as I considered resuming my month long free trial of Netflix watching Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, something occurred to me.
“Hey… the Pope is stepping down… meh.”
Seven words, and that was the extent of my thought process behind it. Know this: I’m black Catholic with a somewhat pantheistic point of view on things, which sort of puts me in a titular role like that of Sinead O’Conner (heh). I joke about my faith and most faiths honestly. If anything, the only “gripe” I have with any faith practice is that of Scientology, and that’s mostly because I see it as the Hollywood religion for the sexy people. For real, Super Bowl ads and poorly crafted movies aside, seeing the famous people that put money into it make me think I couldn’t be a Scientologist if I wanted to: granted, if I DID want to it would have been to meet Katie Holmes. But she’s Catholic again. Hurray!
But back on topic, that was the extent of my initial reactions. My mother called me around noon and asked me what I thought about it. I responded with one word of the original seven. “Meh”. Why now, she implied, why now when Lent is upon us and all that? I shrugged. Honestly I don’t know, I hardly care, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see it coming. Maybe I’m one of the few people that remembers him saying that he was going to have a short run as the H.C.I.C.
But the world has reacted and the responses are all expected. “Why is he stepping down?” “So the Antichrist is leaving before he dies?” “Good riddance!” “He was a Nazi, wasn’t he?” “I wonder if the next one will be African?” “He looks like the Emperor!” “Why is this happening now?” “I never liked the Church anyway.” “I wonder if Tom was right…?”
Okay, that last one was part of a debate I was having with someone about (500) Days of Summer, but the rest focused around Pope Benedict XVI. From a personal standpoint, I was never – and still can’t claim to be – more than melancholy about the guy. As important as my faith is to my personal development, I never truly dwell on it. It’s just something that I hold to and keep it moving. It’s one of the reasons I can laugh and joke with everyone and not try and pull a J.R.R. Tolkien on C.S. Lewis (oh poppycock, no one is going to get that reference). Long and short: I’m religious without being in your face about it.
As you can guess by now, I’m writing this as Chris Lamb, outside of the DiZ character once again. Conversations about religion or the opposition thereof fascinate me and I love talking about them. Unfortunately, I enjoy actual conversation, and like an idiot I completely forgot about the Pope situation when I logged onto Twitter today. You know what that means? That’s right! Idiocy!
I follow and am followed by a number of people as diverse as four teams of Assassins Creed developers, so I get a good mix of thought processes and lifestyles all the time. Some are black, some are white, some Asian, some Hispanic, some from Parts Unknown. Some are Christian, some Jewish, some Muslim, some atheist, some agnostic, one may even be a practitioner of Shintoism, I don’t know, but the mix is good and if I’m really good with them then our conversations will go beyond the realm of Stupid City, better known as Twitter.
After all these paragraphs, you may wonder where CM Punk comes in to play. Well as you can guess by my job as a writer on this blog, I follow, and am followed, by a number of professional wrestling/sports entertainment people. Recently, as in the past hour or so, I’ve seen way too many tweets related to CM Punk. Normally this isn’t a problem; CM Punk is one of my favorite wrestlers, the Best in the World, one of the finest talents to pass through the WWE’s doors, and I’ve been a fan since he began demanding the spot light (long before the infamous first pipe bomb, mind you). But when CM Punk is retweeted and mentioned so often in my timeline, I’m forced to pay attention to why he’s mentioned so often in my timeline.
Today: the Pope.
According to Wikipedia and, originally, from his tweets, CM Punk is an atheist (and a pescetarian, but that’s not relevant to this). Again, my standard response to “revelations” such as these is “Meh”. You couldn’t pay me enough to give a damn what someone believes or doesn’t believe in, unless it involves ritual sacrifice of farm animals. In which case, invite me over, because I’m pretty sure that might actually be a cookout indirectly sponsored by the Church of the NFL and it’s many denominations. Apparently Mr. Brooks tweeted something about the Pope and his youth as a Nazi (I think they’re called Nazi Youth… or Gremlins).
Sitting in my four-cornered room, staring at hammers (thinking of renovating a bit), that’s about how I have to approach this wave (that’s hyperbole; uncomfortable ripple) of uncomfortable tweets. “And?” They aren’t uncomfortable tweets because of CM Punk’s personal views, but more so the frequency and sheer intensity of most of them, ranging from the hyper religious right wing manifest destiny loving crowd to the hyper non-religious left wing “I say God is dead!” Broadway loving crowd, and it’s unnerving. God (heh) forbid there be some middle ground here, you know, say, a person who nods his or her head and keeps it moving and then decided to write something on a fairly popular blog where he or she normally writes in the character of a lost Mobian with three tails.
I’m not saying I’m better than people (that’s Da Infamous One’s job) but one thing a lot of non-religious people have right is that a lot of religious people get into too much of a tizzy (I thank @64Rallo for that word) when someone says anything that might challenge their faith or views. Frankly it’s annoying. Stop it, Kurt Angle. Normally I’d say Adrian, in all caps and with an exclamation point, but I’m Chris Lamb speaking, not Da Infamous DiZ. I guess my ultimate message comes down to this: if you’re going to be offended by what CM Punk says (and he really didn’t say much at all anyway) then maybe you shouldn’t have, oh, I don’t know, been listening to CM Punk. Ever. Man speaks his mind, I don’t apologize if that offends you. Hell, I’m a huge proponent of free speech; after all, I DID unleash Corbin Macklin onto the internet as a blogger. If that doesn’t tell you something then ask the Ratchet Revolutionary himself.
With my timeline calming down a bit and going into its standard filth flarn filth (nothing really safe for work, and I blame others for it) I can stop with the shoulder shrugging melancholy of Punk’s “latest episode” (?), as one person called it, and go into the real issue: the one that doesn’t exist.
Heh. More pseudo-religious humor. Get it? “The one that doesn’t exist?” Bah, this is just loaded with references that you all won’t be able to appreciate. It’s a gift: I remember when Michael Jackson got in trouble last time (one of the last times before he died). My Boondocks brand of humor went unappreciated then too. Apparently someone under 18 with a t-shirt reading “I Love You, Michael Jackson” is seen as inappropriate. Sue me.
The issue that doesn’t exist is the matter of perception (isn’t it always?). The question that began buzzing around, in the midst of the new “faithful vs. faithless” war I had in my timeline, was whether or not this would reflect on the company. Perception is everything, or so philosophers and marketing executives lead us to believe, and CM Punk is undoubtedly one of the premier faces of sports entertainment, with the premier company no less. Like when Linda McMahon was in the midst of her unstoppable campaign, the WWE is constantly under a microscope, and that means that people are always watching.
Translation: people are always watching and they have their own views and sensibilities. Say one wrong word and one of these people can be on the last train to Paris after foaming at the mouth long enough. If you’ve ever played Mass Effect 2, you might have run across a particular conversation Shepard can have with the asari justicar Samara; one discussing her chosen profession, her opinions on other species and the early possibility of charging up her loading dock. It was profound to me that she said that humans were the most opinionated species she had ever encountered. She said:
“Yours is a very interesting species. For example, if there are three humans in a room, there will be six opinions.”
Wise words from a sexy woman. Alien. Feminine extraterrestrial. It’s not fair to call her a woman when her species is technically monogendered so woman and man doesn’t have meaning to them. They all come across as female. So, wise words from a sexy non-human. Because they wouldn’t be aliens to themselves, or flying through space because they weren’t a factor on the planet Earth.
Sorry, I got lost in thought. I like asari. In any case, a lot of the very people that keep the WWE under said microscope are rooted in a train of thought that may not appreciate comments like those made by Mr. Brooks. Let me first preference this by saying that this is speculation, and I’ll second preference this by saying I’m on nobody’s side. I simply like to add perspective, like I did when I talked Pokemon with some people and introduced them to the notion that it was a colorful expression of sla—
You know why the WWE was under the microscope with McMahon’s failed Senate run? Because anyone – namely opposition – and use even the slightest issue as fodder for a skillful and dangerous attack campaign. Crucify a Superstar? You worship the devil! Hot lesbian action? You don’t support traditional family views! Mexican world champion? You support illegal immigration!
Something as minuscule as a tweet can carry long reaching consequences, in select circumstances. I honestly don’t think CM Punk did anything wrong OR sparked anything, but let’s just assume the worst, shall we? Murphy’s law and all being the mixed bag it is. For someone who is a decidedly low ranking or hardly popular Superstar or Diva, saying something of any significance is low risk. If JTG said that some high ranking member of the WWE hierarchy didn’t like black people right now, who would know? Few. It would get out depending on who spread it, mind you, but it wouldn’t pick up steam for a little while. On the other hand, if John Cena said that the head of the Divas didn’t like black people, it would be a national headline, under the latest news on Seal Team Six and Katy Perry’s cleavage (both things that I find a separate, if unequal, interest in).
But it all comes back to CM Punk, easily one of the faces of the company. Easily one of the most outspoken voices of… well, anywhere. Could his comment on the outgoing Pope negatively affect the WWE?
I doubt it. That’s not to say it couldn’t. That’s not to say it won’t. But I highly doubt it. He’s a man saying what he feels. That kind of thing can only get you in trouble when it so drastically goes against the grain that the company or organization has so painstakingly planted before, and take that with a grain of salt. The long standing perception of the WWE (and many professional wrestling companies with a significant commercial fanbase) is that the wrestlers AND the people running the business are a load of Christians (born again and otherwise) who blur the lines between decency (incest and necrophilia storylines, anyone?) and confusing (it was a hand, man…). Hell, plenty of the biggest wrestlers and/or Superstars are big time Christians; I’m pretty sure TBN devotes Thursdays and the month of September to the born again Christian wrestlers at this point.
I apologize to any I’ve offended with that joke.
I apologize that I just used the previous line to lie about an apology.
Enter CM Punk, however. His very presence is odd in that familiar hodgepodge of Bible Belt types (save for the Catholics; the Bible Belt is quite Protestant). He’s an atheist, non-meat eating, booze-avoiding, drug-free, cigarette-stomping would-be grunge rocker, if Kurt Cobain was a Chicagoan. He has tattoos galore, an attitude that warrants questionable obedience from fans, the backing of Paul “I am what you call great” Heyman and he doesn’t eat meat.
Contrast that to two of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. Bob Backlund and Bruno Sammartino. Big (so to speak; Backlund was about Punk’s size), clean cut, possibly Christian (citation needed), meat eating, probably booze avoiding, drug free, cigarette stomping would-be rockabilly rockers, if Buddy Holly didn’t die in such an untimely fashion.
Okay, so many the wrestler base isn’t so, so different after all. Talent reaches across all fields. Contrast often leads to advancement. After all, one of the best recent matches is between CM Punk and Chris Jericho, as seen here, and those two couldn’t be more different. I mean, one of them claims to be from Canada. The nerve…
Ultimately the people that make the biggest noise about the pointless things are the smallest denomination of the significant whole. And people like me, who reply to many things with “Meh” and look at the universe as the ultimate ocean, merely comment on it as a means to express themselves. All it takes is a spark and everyone will jump on a particular bandwagon, jumping behind those who agree with them and barking but never biting those who think differently. I’d swear it was like, oh, what’s it called… worship? Not that I’m going to get into the humor of the worship-worthy devotion some have towards those who lambast worship, not today at least.
It all comes down to one mentality though: mine. Because I wrote this. And as I look at the whole “controversy” and wonder if the next Pope will indeed be African or Brazilian (no American Popes in my lifetime, thank God (yeah, I said it)), my thoughts, ideas and queries towards the now-passed issue are as simple as a single word.
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?
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*
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…
DISCLAIMER: This is simply food for thought. I want to make L.E.W.D. put some more wrinkles back on the brain because I’m sure it’s about as smooth as a baby’s backside after the Friday Farces.
On April 4, 2011 (the night after WrestleMania XXVII), many Professional Wrestling fans, I included, witnessed a verbal contract agreement between John Cena and The Rock for a match at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, Florida. At some point, I vaguely remember Cena seeking to raise the stakes by carrying the WWE Title to that match…
On May 1, 2011 (Extreme Rules), Cena won the WWE Championship from The Miz in a Triple-Threat Match involving John Morrison. Many fans (I included) were a little peeved about this outcome simply because we had a sinking feeling that Cena was going to be champion from May 1, 2011 to April 1, 2012 and defend his belt against The Rock at WrestleMania. These fans (I included) were DEAD WRONG!!!
On July 17, 2011, just 77 days after winning the belt for the 8th time, John Cena would lose the belt to CM Punk would claim his first WWE Championship and flee the company (Arrival Point).
During Punk’s time away, Rey Mysterio and John Cena would lay claim to the New (Interim) WWE Championship. Upon Cena winning, CM Punk returned to make the statement that HE was the WWE Champion, and Cena was just keeping the seat warm, and on August 14, 2011, CM Punk defeated John Cena to be the undisputed WWE Champion (Arrival Point). Then Alberto Del Rio would cash in his “Money In The Bank” and win the WWE Championship from CM Punk.
Del Rio would hold the belt for 35 days and lose it to John Cena for what seemed like the title reign that would lead to WrestleMania XXVIII…But it wasn’t.
Only 2 weeks later at Hell in a Cell on October 2, 2011, John Cena was both literally and metaphorically locked out of the WWE Championship scene. Alberto Del Rio would regain the WWE Championship. (Arrival Point)
The one question that seemed to stick out from many fans, “Did the WWE really give the belt to Cena just to give him his 10th Title reign?” Maybe the better question was, “Did the WWE change their plans for something and/or someone bigger?”
Del Rio’s reign would last 49 days before he would lose it to CM Punk at Survivor Series on November 20, 2011. (Arrival Point)
This Survivor Series featured a returning Rock teaming with Cena in the “Never Before, Never Again” Tag-Match… Given that Survivor Series is one of the WWE’s Classic 4 PPVs, the WWE Championship can’t just be involved in a Tag Match and not defend it unless the WWE revisits the Shawn Michaels/Diesel vs. Owen Hart/Yokozuna Championship Match (4 Men, 3 Titles, 2 Teams, 1 Match) scenario.
It seemingly felt like we had the answer to our aforementioned question. Cena can’t be champion if he teams with The Rock in this match for one of the WWE’s Classic 4 PPVs, so the WWE hit the reset button and put the belt back on Del Rio.
Now remember that The Rock promised that he was never leaving again…We all (including Cena and I) knew that he would be gone to do more movies, so basically that statement was a lie…or maybe we were taking him to literally… maybe he was saying that he would be in and out, but was going to be involved for a long period of time…maybe the plans were drawn out farther than just WrestleMania XXVIII…
On November 20, 2011, CM Punk would start a WWE Championship reign that would last 434 days. CM Punk was raising the standard of the WWE Title. He was making the belt a Hot Item, and made it more important to hold, even after the fans turned on him when he became obsessed with receiving the proper respect.
Punk was not being respected as the Best In The World even when holding the Title that represented that stature. John Cena and The Rock upstaged him on the first night of him being champion in this historic reign. 434 days later, John Cena wins the Royal Rumble, and The Rock wins the WWE Championship on January 27, 2011. (Arrival Point)
Who was the transitional champion in all of this?
A transitional champion (as defined by Wikipedia.org) is defined as a short-reigning champion who serves to move the title indirectly from one wrestler to a third. They are usually used when the title is to be moved between two faces, to avoid requiring them to wrestle each other.
Based on this definition, one could argue that Alberto Del Rio was a transitional champion; but was he?
I challenge one to think a little more about this situation. Does the arrival point have to be a person or a situation?
What is the big picture?
As mentioned before, The Rock vs. Cena was the main attraction/advertisement for WrestleMania XXVIII. It was billed as “Once in a Lifetime”, but given the recent events, one could believe it may become “Twice in a Couple of Years.”
Given that The Rock promised to be here for a long time, could one also believe that plans were being made and stories were being written for time periods that would span over the course of years. This was seemingly already going on with some storylines. For example, Triple H and The Undertaker and their two matches at WrestleMania’s XXVII and XXVIII. The ending of the first match just short of obviously led to the rematch a year later. Could it be possible that the situation with John Cena and The Rock was written 2 years out, and could that plan have been put in place on October 2, 2011 (Hell in a Cell)?
I remember being on the phone with Mr. Ashley Morris and Mr. Quinn Gammon during that PPV, and when Cena was locked out, we all agreed that the symbolism of that turn of events was too strong to ignore.
Did Del Rio hold the belt to keep Cena from fighting Punk?… Well seeing that Punk was involved in the match that Cena lost the belt, I doubt it.
The last time the belt was in the hands of Cena was September 8, 2011, and The Rock won it on January 27, 2013. There were 507 days between, and CM Punk was Champion for 434 (86%) of them, and if the story was written out to be that John Cena (Royal Rumble Winner) will face The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIX, could it be said that CM Punk was given the belt to raise the value, make it a Hot Item, and make it stand for the Best in the World to give it back to The Rock and John Cena’s WrestleMania stint, and would that mean that CM Punk was the man to hold the belt to keep it out of the hands of John Cena?
This is a business right? CM Punk did benefit a lot out of the 434 day reign, but no one is bigger than the business, and if the business is going year to year, then everything in between is just a group of arrival points leading to a big payoff at each year’s end.
Now I am very aware that this argument is only valid if a few things are true: My theory that the WWE is writing in a long-term and full-circle format. and if CM Punk is out of the Title picture by the time WrestleMania XXIX occurs.
Was CM Punk’s reign a transition to raise the value of the belt and to keep it in a high profile?
Tell me what you think.
Hi, I’m DiZ. The following is a rather profane, though dangerously focused, rant from L.E.W.D. brother Corbin Macklin. While L.E.W.D. does not intentionally seek to dilute the potency of brother Macklin’s original piece, it has been edited so as not to greatly offend the audience and to maintain a particular level of professionalism and certain standard maintained by the writers of the site. Nevertheless this piece is fueled by pure emotion, people, and I feel it clearly coincides with a lot of people’s views after the Royal Rumble PPV last night.
I offer this disclaimer though: this is a VERY explosive rant, and in reading it you agree to read some very explicit material. That is your warning. If you are of a weak constitution or find yourself easily offended, I suggest you stick to the other pieces on the site.
It must also be said that the comments and views posted here in the piece, including the language and style represented here, do not reflect those of the other members and writers of the L.E.W.D. Crew and website. To reiterate, this piece is intended for MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY. Reader discretion is advised.
With nothing more to say, I present Corbin Macklin’s rant: “…”
I feel worse right now than I did when my grandfather died, and the chick I loved at the time stopped talking to me the day before he was buried. Somewhere somebody is thinking “Gahdamn this dude Corbin’s priorities are JACKED up! So much emotion over fake fighting…” To those people: screw you.
Screw Dwayne Johnson. Screw John Cena. Screw Vince McMahon. Screw Paul Levesque. Screw Stephanie McMahon. Screw any and everyone that was remotely invested in the fuckery that took place in the main event of the Royal Rumble. Especially screw you if you’re happy Rocky Maivia is WWE Champion.
One of the main reasons I’m mad is because Punk won. Then they Dusty Finished all the smarks by restarting the match. In the space of two or three tweets I went from clicking my heels 3 feet off the ground to laying face down in the floor. One could say: Great job by creative eliciting such emotion from a fake fight. Screw that person. Screw creative. That mess wasn’t creative at all. After that transpired all the hell I saw all up and down my timeline was “EFF CENA AND ROCK II”. Meaning, this stuff is boring and ridiculously predictable.
I called my best friend and sat in stunned silence before he pissed me off by saying “You knew Rock was gonna win”. I screamed “NO” then told him what I opened this rant with. I told him: “You just ended the longest title reign in forever, for a guy who won’t wrestle but two more times before absconding back to Hollywood to make his boring ass movies I’m not going to watch.” Because screw him. Forget building a new star to rival Punk and Cena that will actually wrestle on RAW. Forget giving that rub to someone who needs it.
Things like this is why I don’t believe in the word ‘deserve’. Tell me Rocky Maivia deserved to be in a world championship match after wrestling two matches in eight years and Iswearfogawd I will slap the taste outchu.
Nothing any of you can say to me @CorbinMacklin on twitter or in these comments will convince me that this mess needed to transpire. I WILL curse you out should you be dumb enough to attempt. I quintuple mothereffing dog dare anyone to try to explain to me how the HELL putting a part timer we may not see again in 2013 after WrassleMania over the company’s top two workers makes sense.
Chick Magnet Punk can win the belt back on RAW. I’m still going to be pissed. Chick Magnet Punk can win the belt back at Elimination Chamber. I’m still going to be pissed. Chick Magnet Punk can win the belt back at WrassleMania. I’m still going to be pissed. You know why I’m pissed? BECAUSE EVERYONE READING THIS KNOWS GOOD AND WELL PHIL CHICK MAGNET PUNK BROOKS HAS A SNOWBALLS CHANCE IN HELL OF SNIFFING THAT MAIN EVENT UNTIL AFTER THE ROCK LEAVES AGAIN.
You destroyed a potential classic between Phil Brooks and Mark Calloway, Vince.. Screw you. The table was set to make history. By Mania, Punk would have been champ over 500 days. That streak plus Taker’s streak is a license to print money. We. Would. Actually. Believe. Taker. Could. LOSE. At. Mania. BY SHOW OF HANDS WHO IN THE HELL THINKS CM PUNK IS BEING POSITIONED TO END THE STREAK NOW? FORGET YOU IF YOU RAISED YOUR HAND!
Vince ‘deserves’ to be losing money quarterly for dumb stuff just like this. Nothing they do will be as great as my fantasies of my hometown superstar besting Hollywood’s Champ and the work once a year Satanist in the same year. Nothing. Phil Brooks could win back the belt and hold it ten years and you have still shat on something great.
Show of hands… who thinks Cena is going to pick Alberto Del Rio? Screw you. Get off my website reading my greatness. You disgust me. We all know WWE is going to make Rock – Cena: Twice in A Lifetime now. Dumbest stuff ever. Even if they make it a triple threat and Punk wins, you STILL made your top two guys job to that candy ass jabroni. THE HELL!!!
So all that said, I’m not doing anything drastic like not watching Raw. But I will be pissed when Rock does little more than cut promos. I’m going to be pissed when every tweet that reflects on that result positively trolls me. I’m going to be pissed about this mess forEVER. And… this is EXACTLY why I love this fake stuff.
WWE’s One Major Flaw: Three Hour Raws
WWE is the pinnacle of all the promotion in the world. It has outlasted them all! They neutralized the territories, euthanized WCW, and basically monopolized the Pro-Wrestling market on a global scale. No other promotion has ever reached having 13 million viewers in the U.S. and currently broadcasting its shows in 30 languages to more than 145 countries.
They’ve been around since the 1952, which means they have the experience that Ring of Honor or Wrestle Impact has yet to acquire. Yet, that does not mean they are NOT the epitome of perfection.
WWE has its flaws. Some big, some small, and a few that makes you want to dive into a tank of electrical eels. Deciding upon WWE’s one major flaw is a herculean task due to the fact that it’s a matter of opinion. What a flaw to one person could also be a strength in the eyes of another.
With that said, the major flaw the WWE currently has is Raw being three hours long. No, I won’t take the easy way out by saying, “The WWE will revert back to two hours…” as that clearly a cop out. The WWE will be sticking to the three hour format for the foreseeable future unless something none of us is aware of occurs.
To watch anything for three hours takes a lot of up a lot of energy to do. Consider the fact that television shows are 30-60 minutes long. My estimated average runtime for a feature length film was 110 (close to two hours) minutes. This leads me to the conclusion that three hours is a lot to sit, watch anything.
Raw has been filled with squished matches, filler content and having to witness repeat matches over and over to see the WWE fill three up the three hours of Raw. On the 1/21 edition of Raw, I calculated the total times, from bell to bell to be estimated at 39:25. The Longest match was Orton vs. Cesaro which was 11:36 long.
Three hours is 180 minutes. Subtract 180 from 39 and you’ll end up with roughly 141 minutes of filler, skits and other miscellaneous things occurred.
Enough with the number crunching, and let’s get to my solution to fixing this flaw. I’m a strong believer that every flaw or weakness can become a strength.
Let’s first accept the cold hard truth that The Rock is making the three hours at this moment bearable to withstand. Fans from nearly every era love him, fans of any ages cheer for him, and he is good at being a sport-entertainer. Yet, he’s a Band-Aid solution as he’s only going to be around for the WrestleMania season.
The overreliance on part timers, leads to others being under-utilized. Thus, I propose each hours being dedicated to each tier-level. By tier-level I mean, Lower-card, mid-card and main-event. Each hour will only focused on a few storylines for those groups of wrestlers, thus giving fans the chance to view many of their favorites that rarely get to see.
It also makes it more bearable to watch as the pacing is more fluid, and we don’t see the same guys wrestle each other every week. People will enjoy seeing Alex Riley, Jack Swagger, Curt Hawkins and others have television time to prove they can hang with the upper tier groups.
Mid-card guys will consist with the secondary belts, with the Diva/Tag belts takings turns being featured every other week. Along with non-title feuds, which will lead to each episode of Raw feeling unique, and different than being left with feeling like you saw the same episode last week.
The final hour being the main event guys, the men that fans pay to see, or how the WWE seems to think. People will have to wait towards the final hour to get to the major storylines, and see the progression of that said storylines. Maybe, even a match that was promoted last week, could lead to the two previous hours have one interview each for both wrestlers to share their views.
By following that structure, theoretically leads to the creative team having to strain less to write storylines to fill up three hours. Instead of filler, they can have a more structured show that leaves us feeling more fulfilled, and satisfied.
Possibly, the creative team can split up to focus on each of the one hour portions of the show. Let’s assume their six creative writers for RAW. Two writers can focus on the lower card on the first hour, two on the 2nd and two on the 3rd hour.
In the end everyone wins. Vince McMahon will be making more money, and will make more utilizing this structure to Raw. The Creative team will not have to pull ideas out of their asses, and can consistently write a good watchable program. Wrestlers will get more airtime, will the main-event will still get the primary focus, but in a more subtle way.
We the fans be able to watch three hours as the pacing will make it feel like it’s a two hours show. We would be watching less filler, less meaningless matches, and overall get a much better product.
I’m sure my solution would not be cure to all of WWE’s flaws. Yet, making three hours better paced, flexible and less draining with my proposed structuring will make other flaws less noticeable, or at least make us more tolerant towards them.
I don’t know how long the WWE will maintain RAW being three hours, or that my proposed solution would work. All I know that it’s better than what we currently have in place.
I’d first like to take this opportunity to thank Quinn Gammon, Ashley Morris, and L.E.W.D for having Jacob and I from WrestleEnigma.com. Our rivalry has gotten too big, and we will take it anywhere to resolve the issues. Now to the article, the guys asked us to pick between WWE, TNA, and ROH on what one of them needs to do better at basically, and how I’d fix it.
I picked the most obvious one in my mind, ROH and their Production value. To break down Production, here is what you look for:
- Great overall look on a TV Show or PPV
- Good Lighting
- Good Camera and Camera work
- Proper Angles in shooting
- Good sound or audio in general
- Good set
- Great Writing that works with the production
- A production that can work with the type of show something is
When you suck from a creative stand point, you can improve that and it takes little to no real money to do. You can hire as many writers as you want, it won’t matter until you put pen to paper. You can even hire top names, but it will all mean nothing without proper production in the end. Production these days is the most important part to the wrestling product. In a world of multi-million dollar TV deals, these are the facts.
ROH clearly has a lot of great, talented individuals. But the execution around them is lackluster. When they first got a proper TV deal, it was with Mark Cuban’s HDNet Channel. They did a great job production wise at this point, all cameras were HD and even PPVs had some higher quality to them. They didn’t do a whole lot backstage besides an interview. Past that, nothing was really done other than wrestling. But at least it looked good the entire time. You also got some cool stories off and on.
They had guys like Austin Aries, Nigel McGuiness, Bryan Danielson, Tyler Black, on top of other great up and comers like the American Wolves and Roderick Strong. Even the Briscoes. The talent was without equal when you thought of Indy companies. They became the highest rated show on the entire network, which wrestling has a habit of doing when properly promoted.
We saw 4 and 5 star matches, and everything seemed to be uphill for them. Then McGuiness and Danielson got WWE deals. Nigel was going to WWE before the health issues he experienced blood wise; he is now back in ROH as a commentator.
However, they began to slowly start from being a hot company to seemingly going through the motions.
I wrote an article a while back around that time saying that ROH was slowly declining and HDNet losing money would only hurt ROH long term. They didn’t pay them much at all in the first place. ROH, as most Indy places struggled financially after a while. This got me into a heated debate with Marc Cuban himself, me and my big mouth, right?
ROH then moved away from HDNet and was bought by Sinclair Broadcasting; to me this was at one point the greatest thing that could happen for ROH. The next minute, I realized who bought them. This was a company unheard of by those outside the broadcasting world, and owner of several TV outlets in America. However, they only owned a fraction of network channels in America and were not big spenders. When I say not big spenders, I mean they would fire people instead of paying them what they were worth, despite need.
FOX wanted ROH at one point….oh what could have been.
Because Sinclair is not a high spending company, they aren’t quite in the next generation and most of their channels lacked High Definition for quite a while. A lot of them are only HD because of the network basically forcing it upon Sinclair. TV stations for example have to stay competitive with the other local companies for ratings simple enough. Interesting point though, because they weren’t considered a news station company they didn’t have to go digital and HD as quick as other stations. They are now digital, simply because this was FCC forced. But still not HD with all their channels, only on some packages are they such.
Watching things on channels they owned in certain markets such as the CW or MyNetworkTV is bad enough, but at least those shows had some production value outside of no HD for a while. ROH went from being seen as a greatly done Indy production at the least, to what you see from the local Indy group early Sunday morning. Which is virtually crap on a stick. But at least it’s a stick right?
They film the shows as if they are back in 1975, with quite a number of wide angles for the TV show and low quality cameras. They barely have anything for entrances, and there is little to no focus on the actual “SHOW” part. They do not “produce” good shows unless you’re a diehard Indy fan who can get past low quality. The wrestling and talent has always been good from ROH. This was never in doubt. The stories have been good too. Issue is that you don’t get to see them properly done because there is a huge lack of production.
Now, hardly any backstage things, and rare behind the scenes sort of things actually happen. And this is just the TV show people. JUST THE TV SHOW! So keep that in mind, they suck on their TV show production wise.
Let’s move on to PPVs that ROH tries to put out. I bold that because it matters! The shows are done through iPPVs, meaning online pay per view. The shows are cheap enough, so they are worth the buy for the average wrestling fan vs. the 50 to 60 you drop on WWE or TNA.
Last year I attempted to watch one of ROH’s better PPVs, my friend Aaron and I were pumped for it because the card looked great. It was highlighted by Steen and Richards in the main event for the ROH World Title. I had heard there were some issues with ROH’s production for the iPPV the month before, but didn’t think about it before this show, I pressed on not caring due to how pumped I was. Alas, the show had production problems throughout, specifically at the start where it kicked many of the site all together or logged them out of their accounts.
It then would start for some, and push them back off the site again. When you finally did get to the show, the commentator’s mics cut off and no one told them. Then only one mic worked and you heard background noise of one man talking. Sound issues, seeing the show itself, then the actual suckish quality of the show viewing wise made it a horrible PPV. And it sucked too, because it had such promise. And it seemed like no one in the back even cared, because the issues took forever to fix. I didn’t see a production guy come from the back for at least 20 minutes or so, which is an eternity in TV time.
It was so bad that ROH had to give money back to everybody who wanted it. They even had to offer a free PPV the next month for those people who bought the last one. THIS GUY!
This probably lost them thousands, as both shows were highly promoted. This was the time that everyone was really on the ROH bandwagon. People were taking a chance on ROH at this point and it was “their time”, and they blew it faster than a kid with Sinusitis. Oh and by the way, that show had issues too, just about the same story as the first.
Ever since then, ROH has suffered with PPV buys. Btw, the show that had a ton of production issues was going to be one of the highest bought in some time. And they had to give that money back, ouch.
Nowadays, the PPV issues as far as website bugging have been fixed up some; however this doesn’t make the shows any better. The sound for them still sucks, and the viewing quality leaves much to be desired.
The TV Show more than anything else lacks everything that makes a good show. You really believe ROH is still Indy, and they look like they have taken a massive fall from grace since their time on HDNet. It’s mainly due to Sinclair refusing to push forward into the 21st Century. It’s the fact that ROH, owned by Sinclair, has talent but will never be able to keep them all. It’s the fact that WWE and TNA can royally suck on a show but still get viewed because they at least try production wise. It’s the fact that at the end of the day, ROH if they stay the same, will never go down as the best promotion you can see. Rather, the number three best. And Chikara is arguing that point now. Two words, Dragon Dragon!
The time for action is now when it comes to ROH. If they don’t work on things now, the loss of talent, loss of interest, and loss of all that makes them great and special will surely pass away. It is their right, no, responsibility to put out great content. Kevin Steen and Davey Richards can only do so much just out of talent before ROH has to do something worthwhile themselves.
Wrestling is more than just two men wrestling in the ring these days; it’s a performance and show itself. When you have none of that, and just rely on the two men in the ring, it’s just not enough. Sorry, but these are the facts.
How would I fix it? Simple.
You go out and get HD cameras. 6 of them at the very least. They don’t have to expensive. Good HD cameras go for as low as a few thousand dollars. This in the TV world, is a steal. High end cameras that go to 1080i or 1080p and are used more for Network shows or movies can go from 100,000 up to 500,000 for everything, even a million for some. Oh, for those that don’t know, cameras aren’t sold together when you go higher up. Lens are one price, body is another, and so on. This is why a lot of companies didn’t like having to go HD when the “digital era” kicked in fully around 2008 and 2009.
The cameras that would work best would cost them around 10 to 20 grand a camera. Sounds harsh, but it’s the best for them.
I’d then start to put things out called blocking and angles. Yeah, this means more than one wide ring shot and camera by the announce table. You put cameras on all ends. One up top, you get a wide shot, medium shot, and then close up shot. You know, simple stuff you learn in film school on day one.
Then you focus on lighting that makes you stand out. They did a good job on this with HDNet by darkening the crowd and lighting up the ring where it stood out. But, I wouldn’t take the crowd out of it totally. Rather, tint the crowd to where they can be seen. But the main light is on the ring.
I’d then make sure that the backstage area was used more. As right now, I beg to see backstage material for ROH. Really, the entire production needs a massive overhaul. And it’s not just that side of production, but also the side of backstage production, pre-production, etc. There are so many things that they can do, that they just don’t do. And a TV company owns these guys? Seriously?
Overall, do everything different ROH. It’s funny that the most produced company in the entire wrestling world, WWE, still wants to keep improving on production value. And has said they will in 2013, yet the company that needs to do it most refuses to get it done. I realize the sugar daddy known as Sinclair has to pay for this to go down. But ROH itself can do more with what they have. Right now, it’s just getting bad. I loop in Sinclair and ROH as one, because they are. So, whenever ROH needs to work on things, Sinclair does and then reverse order.
As of now, ROH looks like they are some small budget Indy company that started two weeks ago. And for a company around a decade old, this is simply unacceptable. We as fans deserve more.
But I’m just saying.
Signed, a concerned citizen.
The Weigh-In! Our Friday Fracas of the Afternoon Competitors Deliver Their Final Words Before The Bout
Not to be outclassed on the day of a fight, both the Joe Burgett and Jacob Waring camps came absolutely prepared for one another on this day, the day of reckoning. What follows is what I am going to call our official “Weigh-In” for today’s competition, as both competitors were given one final chance to speak to you, the readers, and to one another before laying the literary smack down on each other.
DISCLAIMER: It got just a tad heated. L.E.W.D. (League of Extraordinary Wrestling Devotees) does not endorse or condone any particular opinions laid forth by Mr. Burgett or Mr. Waring and their views do not necessarily represent the views of any particular member of the L.E.W.D. Crew individually or on the whole.
Mr. Quinn Gammon: “Jacob…Joe…give us a little insight into how this whole competition came about.”
Jacob: “Simple, his head is too far up his ass. Since he’s lives in the bible belt, it’s not that far-fetch to believe he may think o himself as the product of Jesus semen.”
“Granted, it all started in a normal Enigma vs. Enigma match-up in-which I concede to admitting he won fairly. I proposed a two out of three type of deal to truly settle things. I won the next two, and he became condescending little ass by demeaning my wins with his “conspiracy theories.”
Joe: “Well, he and I first were put together for Wrestle Enigma‘s EvE competition. Winner moved up in the rankings. I won, but it was close due to Waring getting some “outside help” if you know what I mean. So, we basically were forced into a Round 2. It was near Christmas and both of us had a lot to do. I didn’t feel I did my best work and thought Waring would beat me if he wrote even half a good article. However, he wrote BS in a can. One person said, “It’ll take a Christmas Miracle for you to beat Joe”.
“But he did beat me with again, outside help. Having numerous FB friends come on and vote for him. He claims he told them to read both and base their opinion and vote on that. But you tell me, honestly, you think they gave a rat’s tailbone about my article? No, they didn’t even read it. And voted for Waring. Which is flippin’ wrong. So, we had to do the Round 3, and I made the decision we needed a Panel to do the voting because I could not trust Waring again.”
“We did the Panel, and he somehow won. I am still baffled, because no one from the site has yet to tell me Waring did better than me. Yet he won? So, here we are with you guys. Going to Round 4.”
Mr. Quinn Gammon: “So basically the competition on Wrestle Enigma ended in controversy. Is it safe to say that there is some personal heat rising up underneath this writing competition between the two of you?”
Jacob: “In his wee little mind there was controversy. I mean, claiming I got pity votes? The panel of judges to vote was his stipulation, and he lost.”
“Personal issues? This dates back in the Bleacher Report days due to the fact that he has issues with authority, and can’t accept that there are better writers than him out there.”
“Hell, I concede that there are better writers than me. He’s just not one of them.”
Joe: “You could say that. I don’t think I would have been as mad about losing to him had it been done fairly or made sense. I just feel that Waring is no one near my level, and never has been. Yet he consistently tries to put it over that he’s better than me due to these controversial wins. It’s basically like he cashed in MITB. He won, yeah. But, did it require any real skill to beat me in the situation it was in? No. He needed so much help to even get a few votes in. So yeah, I am pissed about it. And he knows that, so he keeps at it and keeps picking. I am freakin’ tired of it, which is why it blew up like it did with us.”
Mr. Quinn Gammon: “Now, this thing has been hyped pretty well and the eyes of our little corner of the wrestling world will be squarely on the two of you when you throw down, man to man. Have you put any thought into the implications of being on the losing end?”
Joe: “Of course, I don’t think it’d be right of me to think I could never lose. Issue is, I don’t plan on it. I study social sciences, so I understand the psychological pressures that come with things such as losing. It’s said that the best winners are the worst losers. Which is true. I simply do not even consider losing as an option, but am not blind to the fact it “could” happen.”
Jacob: “What does it mean to be the best? It means you have to be better than the number two guy. But what gratification is there in that? He’s a loser—that’s why Joe’s number two. I don’t see myself losing at all.”
Mr. Quinn Gammon: “For those readers who may not be as familiar with you, can you give us a little insight as to your legacy? What does sports-entertainment and more specifically this write-off, mean to you?”
Joe: “Well, I have been in the online journalism scene now for about 5 years. I started in 2008, around the time I was in my Senior year of high school. I got a job as a news writer for some small news site I enjoyed. And from there, Bleacher Report opened up. I quickly made a big name for myself there. I was the fastest guy and longest reigning “Top Writer” in the section, getting the title in 28 days and holding it for near a year at around 10 months. I was mostly known for my new type of news style and the one that B/R still uses today in the wrestling section. Trust me however, I never intended for them to make it as frequent. And no, no one does it better than me.”
“I went from being a news guy to an editorial guy. I would put out such good articles eventually I became like B/R’s golden child. I was on top of the mountain. Speaking with site executives regularly, and basically running the wrestling section. I was the first B/R WWE and TNA Featured Columnist and one of the first Syndicated Columnists as well. I also never graduated from B/R U and pretty much wrote the book on how to do online wrestling journalism. No one could gain more attention per article than me. I got several offers from several places to write for them, and took up several. So, I was pretty much everywhere at one point.”
“Then I did a video series on YouTube about B/R’s golden years and my thoughts on a few people. B/R didn’t take well to it, and suspended me. Eventually I returned, put out some great articles, my best work ever. Then, got an interview for B/R, told them I got it before I published it, and then was told I broke the rules and got let go permanently. So, basically screwed over. I wrote there from 2008 to 2011.”
“I ended up with EnigmaticWrestling.com at the end of ’11, became the President of it, eventually was put into the CEO role. I then changed the name to Wrestle Enigma in ’12 and now we are considered to be one of the best up and coming wrestling sites on the market.”
“I have always loved wrestling, since a child watching it with my dad. After he passed away when I was 11, I was obviously devastated. But kept him alive through me by doing what we loved. Watching and cheering for Alabama football and loving Pro-Wrestling. So, it means the world to me. More than anyone could ever know.”
“This write off, at the end of the day is simply going to determine who is better at this time. Thing is, no matter if I win or lose, I know my legacy. Waring doesn’t even have an ounce on my legacy. So I don’t have to beat him to seal mine. It’s the other way around. He has to beat me, and fairly for his legacy.”
Jacob: “I’m going to answer this one seriously, without me stroking my ego, and pounding my chest at Joe.”
“The majority who read either site is from our combined following that migrated from B/R which is just my opinion as I neither have the factorial evidence to support my claim, only my observations.”
“People whom are part of the IWC, will more likely remember Wade Keller, and his fellow writers than two sites that are among many other created by fans.”
“If me, and Joe just….suddenly quit writing online about wrestling. People will forget us. Yeah, our online friends might recall some moments but our legacy would be non-existent.”
“I strongly believe both sites, and their writers have a strong potential of being on the level of PWTorch, or least carve out a corner IWC to where they become a legit place to go to for your Pro-Wrestling urges.”
“This write off, is just to settle a score of who’s the better writer. It won’t shatter the internet, and be talked about for generations.”
“Our legacy is to teach aspiring writers the spirit to improve their craft through practicing wordsmiths, to having a rival that brings the best, and worst of your skills out. To be cornerstones to a site that could one day eclipse PWTorch in popularity and page views.”
“That is our legacy.”
“I don’t view myself writing on pro-wrestling forever. I got novels to write, pursuing my dream of journalism. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be one of the writers who stay on Wrestle Enigma to witness it hitting the big time.”
Mr. Quinn Gammon: “Excellent responses gentlemen. My final question to you: Do you have any final words for your opponent before your pieces drop later today?”
Joe: “I hope Waring brings all he has. I truly do. If people vote for him, then I truly hope he would have earned them. He has yet to truly earn a win over me in a legit fashion. I will never be one to claim I can never be beaten, because I can. But all in all, good luck to Jacob. He’s truly going to need it today.”
Jacob: “I will win without boasting. Lose without excuse. Something Joe will not do. Ever.”
Strong closing comments from these two gladiators of squared circle writing, who will throw down mere hours from the time of this posting. It’s clear that regardless of who wins the write-off, the real winners will be the readers. We here at the L.E.W.D. Crew also shamelessly consider hosting this battle as a win for us. Look out for Burgett vs Waring in our “Friday Fracas of the Afternoon!!” only hours away right here at L.E.W.D. HQ. Because it’s still real to us, dammit!
I hope the L.E.W.D. Crew is ready for one heck of a throw down! As we’re all aware of now, prolific sports entertainment writers Joe Burgett and Jacob Waring will clash this Friday afternoon in a final battle to settle the controversial score set from their confrontations on Wrestle Enigma.
In an update on the looming battle, the Jacob Waring camp has defiantly chosen not to be unraveled by the poignant comments made by the Joe Burgett camp. The following is a response to Joe’s rather inflammatory monologue regarding the upcoming competition that was posted on ask.fm:
“Joe Burgett is a man whom does not gracefully accept defeat; he attacks the credibility of his opponents. He’s a little southern man whom is a one-man truther to his pathetic cause of being the best in Pro-Wrestling writing.
Allow me to dissect that disillusioned man boy whom is an egomaniac whom shoves his own ego down the throats of the masses. When he lost against me, he accused me of rounding up my friends to vote towards my way, and only vote for me.
I specifically told them to vote for whomever they wanted, but preferred if they voted for me, and for those In the other competition. I cannot control their actions, nor am I a puppet master of the voters that Joseph seems to paint me of being.
The third match-up, he added a stipulation being that an anonymous panel of five judges would vote on the better article. I won. I beat that ignominious fool, under his own stipulation. I slayed the man who believe he’s a god among writers.
He did not stay slayed for long. NO, he cried, whined that the panel of judges awarded me pity votes. He wanted another rematch, one that was undeserving.
Before our match-up this Friday, I want it to be known that I SHALL NOT FAIL! The pen is mightier than the sword, I will write the article with his blood from past competition. I shall deflate his ego to the point where he shall have to breast feed his ego to re-inflate it.
I shall beat him down by the might of my skills! The same way Hercules subdued and destroyed monsters, bandits, and criminals. He shall learn to bow down to my wisdom, learn to ACCEPT defeat. He shall rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor bowing down towards defeat.”
In true warrior fashion, the Jacob Waring camp has fired back resoundingly. Nevertheless, no amount of monologuing or posturing will be enough to determine the winner. The only way to do that is to stop by L.E.W.D. HQ this Friday to see these two pro wrasslin’ wordsmiths lay the journalistic smack down on one another!
Prepare yourselves for one heck of a throw down!
The announcement was made official last week, and we’ve received word from both camps that their fighters are ready to get down and dirty! So we, the faithful L.E.W.D. Crew members, proudly present the Friday Fracas of the Afternoon!!! Two top pro wrestling writers will duke it out here on the site, with the winner claiming ultimate supremacy over the loser, and the loser leaving with his head pathetically drooping in shame.
That’s right! Joe “OMG” Burgett will go toe-to-toe with Jacob “I’m Sorry, I Forgot the Tuna Salad” Waring in an analytical assessment that will titillate your senses, exasperate your emotions, and permeate your person to possibly percolate your intellect in a rousing wrasslin’ discussion!
Both wordsmiths of the squared circle have been engaged in a brutal war of words over the past few days concerning an alleged controversial ending to a recent contest over at Wrestle Enigma. This war recently came to a head on Twitter and Facebook, the 2013 alternative to meeting someone on the playground. Much like a modern-day, electronic and slightly more stylish Don King, our very own Mr. Quinn Gammon seized the opportunity and offered our home here to host another confrontation between these two giants in the pro wrestling internet community (not to be confused with the Internet Wrestling Community…there is a difference).
While we’ve yet to get any official word from Jacob Waring on the upcoming battle, sources within Mr. Burgett’s camp have authoritatively let the entire world know that the “champ” is ready to dispense one hell of a whoopin’ on his opponent. And in case you’re wondering it’s not considered “instigation” if it’s already on the internet for the whole world to see.
So make sure you grab all your friends and head to this site THIS FRIDAY, JAN. 25 for the Friday Fracas of the Afternoon!!! It’s gonna be a bombastic brouhaha!!!
I have a problem with wrestling fans.
Man, do I have a problem with some wrestling fans.
Following my usual routine of following the action on Twitter while simultaneously following the action on Monday Night Raw (‘cause I’m just good like that), I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming abundance of “smart marks” dumping their collective poop chutes all over the product, per usual.
Not that #Raw20 last night was extraordinary. On the whole, the 20 year anniversary of Monday Night Raw was fairly average. There were some good wrestling matches, some silly booking fails and the show did its job of building towards the Royal Rumble.
The part that gets me is that everyone was complaining about the fact that the show wasn’t loaded with Attitude Era stars.
Let me get something straight, people: You same pious flapjacks whine and gripe incessantly about how WWE needs to not load their show with older part time stars because it “takes time away from the younger talents who need it.” Then, when WWE has something lined up like an anniversary show/reunion/celebration event, everyone simultaneously cries foul that those same older part time stars that YOU DIDN’T WANT TO SEE aren’t there to fill time on the show.
I actually saw people on Facebook blaming the PG era for this.
Let’s call a spade a spade people (and get to enjoying that phrase, we’re gonna revisit it frequently in this piece) and just admit that:
A. Most of the people reading this (Not all but a fair few) have no concept of what the PG Era actually is and it has become a scapegoat for your dissatisfaction with the product. The PG Era is responsible for wrestling’s decline about as much as the Happy Meals you buy your son three times a day are responsible for him being the size of a dump truck.
B. On ANY OTHER NIGHT, if these guys were making cameo appearances, most people would be on Twitter or Facebook or whatever social media outlet they feel would make them look the most important and they’d be screaming from the rooftops about how WWE doesn’t need to be giving the spotlight to older stars.
I find this funny for a variety of reasons.
One reason the IWC will never be taken seriously by most professional wrestling companies is because the vast majority of them behave foolishly, doing things like whining on Twitter about how bad the show was because THEY could have booked it better. Much like our aforementioned obesity analogy, personal responsibility needs to be taken into account.
Don’t sit on your hands like a bunch of idiots and blame the WWE for things they have no control over. Do some research. ‘Taker didn’t show up because he’s likely to make an unannounced return at the Royal Rumble (Be real people: When does ‘Taker just show up on a show anymore? It’s too early for him to pick a ‘Mania opponent so the Rumble is the logical place to be.)
Austin and Shawn Michaels had prior booking engagements at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show in Las Vegas last night. Did we expect Triple H to just randomly show up on Raw?
Someone said on Facebook that he should have reformed Evolution to fight the Shield. Honestly, does anyone think before they speak?
Batista is gone. Orton is already fighting the Shield. Flair isn’t about to put on the panties for another match. Use some common sense folks.
Did anyone stop and think that maybe the reason that WWE didn’t advertise the hell out of this show was because they weren’t planning on doing anything extraordinary with it? If none of those special appearances were able to happen then of course they’re not going to promise a huge show. THEY DIDN’T. Everyone who watched with their expectations on Mars expecting Randy Savage (God rest his soul) to come back to life to re-enact his IC Title match with Steamboat was just delusional.
The show was average and did what it needed to do: It built towards Royal Rumble.
Let’s call a spade a spade people. Everyone throwing up memes about how horrible it was, comparing it to WCW’s dying days, get over yourselves. You’re not funny, you’re not witty, you’re not clever and you’re not right.
Once again, blame the WWE for things they have control over. Blame them for stupid booking moves like jobbing Ziggler to Cena for the 3rd straight time, since he clearly needs about 15 wins to make up for one loss.
Blame them for things like that. Things they control. Don’t blame them for global warming, the violence in the Middle East, smart cars and the extinction of Twinkies. Have some self respect for goodness sakes.
While we’re on the subject of calling a spade a spade, let’s talk about TNA for a moment. If you’re a butthurt TNA fan then don’t even bother reading this because I’m going to offer critique and you will not like it because you don’t like anything that doesn’t involve worshipping this company.
The following is straight from one of the many wrestling dirtsheet sites, who copy/pasted it directly from PWInsider.com.
“According to PWInsider.com, backstage morale at TNA Genesis last night was said to be high. Overall, everybody felt the show was solid from top to bottom, with a great main event. Most of the roster feels the company is moving in the right direction at this point.”
Let’s call a spade a spade (Told ya we would revisit this phrase) and dissect this logically.
OH NO, HE’S USING LOGIC! LOCK UP THE WIFE AND KIDS, EARL! I FEAR A TWISTER IS HEADIN‘ FOR KANSAS!
For starters, whoever decided to start using the word “solid” to describe wrestling shows should be drug out back and shot in the trachea. That is the SINGLE most overused word in the world of wrestling analysis. The only word that even comes close is “buried” but we’re not going to use that word here.
For this analysis, we’re going to do something different. I’m going to school some TNA fans on how to build a logical argument. I am going to do something TNA fans can’t do and I’m going to critique this product without mentioning any other company. That IS possible, you know.
Because much like with those weirdos in Connecticut, personal responsibility is our lesson here. Personal responsibility and perspective. We’re not going to blame TNA for things they can’t control. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of their woes stem from things they CAN control.
Back to our point.
Screw the word “solid.” That’s a lazy way of saying that the show didn’t fall to pieces. If you build a car that’s extraordinary, you can imagine it’d go fast, be durable, hold up well in an accident, get good gas milage, come with restraints and mouth gags for kids on road trips (Totally kidding about that last one.)
If you build a car that’s solid, all one can expect from it is: “It goes. Vrrooooom.”
Now that we’ve pointed out the sin of using the word “solid”, let’s delve deeper into this, shall we?
Reading this very vague report, we can sum up that according to “the roster backstage at Genesis”, talents are feeling good about the direction of the product/progress of the company.
Calling a spade a spade again (you will never want to play cards again after reading this), the questions need to be asked.
Just who in the heck was polled?
I could say something along the lines of:
“According to PWInsider.com, backstage morale at JCW was high. Overall, everyone felt the show was solid from top to bottom with a good main event. The roster feels the show is moving in the right direction and hope to transfer to a large front yard with a few more successful shows.”
And that’s just what I came up with off the top of my head.
If morale is really that high, cite examples. Who did you poll? And here’s the interesting part that no one is going to notice because apparently, I’m the only one who dives this deep into this crap.
Are we to assume that you only polled the guys backstage at Genesis? Because that’s a fairly skewed opinion. Of course they’re gonna be happy about the direction of the show. THEY’RE ON THE SHOW!
Did anyone go down to OVW, where talents have been collecting dust like cars in a garage for years and ask them how they feel about the direction of the company? Did anyone ask them how they feel about TNA bringing in random outsiders for Gut Check instead of using their own flipping developmental territory?
Did anyone outside of the usual 17 stars on TV each week get to speak? How about anyone who didn’t get a spot on the show because TNA is bringing in guys for one-off returns and no contracts?
Did anyone ask Bully Ray if he thinks this absurd angle is a good move for the company? We’ll never know because our grandiose report just says “The roster,” and/or “everyone backstage.”
If I went and I polled Jeff Hardy, Austin Aries, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Bobby Roode about TNA, then obviously they’re going to say they’re happy with the direction. They’re getting what they want from it.
TNA doesn’t get off scot-free for being TNA. They make some of the most idiotic decisions I have ever seen but they’re the only ones who get praised for it week in and week out.
Take this PPV change for example. Everyone is jumping TNA’s bones ready to start sucking. Well, maybe not everyone. But it seems like most people just read the headline “TNA to make MAJOR changes to PPV schedule in 2013” and immediately assumed it was good. Does anyone read anymore?
A good example was given on Twitter not that long ago.
After pointing out the fallacy of their tweet, they quickly amended it by reminding everyone that the six sided ring was coming back for ONE NIGHT ONLY.
But no one clicked on the link. People were responding to the headline itself, praising the company for bringing back the beloved six-sided ring.
Fans do the same with the PPV lineup. It’s already going to be talked about on the podcast so I’m not going to go completely off on it here. But facts are fact.
Fact: TNA is only dropping from 12 PPVs a year to 11.
Fact: TNA is only moving seven of these events to Friday night as opposed to Sunday night.
Fact: TNA isn’t really saving any money here. They’re just spending less.
Wake up folks. Stop putting pool floaties on TNA and telling them it’s okay to never learn how to swim. Stop wiping their tears away and telling them that there are no winners and losers. That’s half the problem with society nowadays. Stop babying them.
Throw ‘em in the pool and let them swim you knuckle headed fruit booties.
And remember: Let’s call a spade a spade. (Insert Aces & Eights joke here.)
~Mr. Quinn Gammon
During the WrestleMania XXVII Weekend, the L.E.W.D. crew had its inaugural Round Table Discussion in which we discussed and voted on may topics.
The following charts are the results of the voting.
|Best Entrance/Music||Most Memorable Moment|
|Gangrel||18||Hogan Turns Heal (nWo)||20|
|C.M. Punk||12||Mankind/Taker Hell in the Cell||11|
|Drew McIntyre||10||Brock Lesnar & Big Show Destroy Ring||9|
|The Rock||9||Montreal Screw Job||7|
|The Undertaker||6||Goldberg Defeats Hollywood Hogan||6|
|Edge||5||Shane McMahon’s Titantron Leap||5|
|Vince McMahon||4||Kane’s Debut||4|
|D-Generation X||3||Last Episode of Nitro||4|
|HHH||3||Vince McMahon’s Demise||3|
|Randy Orton||2||Brock Lesnar F5′s Big Show||1|
|Eugene||1||Chris Jericho’s Debut||1|
|Kurt Angle’s TNA Debut||1|
|Best PPV||Worst PPV|
|WWE WrestleMania X-Seven||19||TNA Victory Road 2011||25|
|WWE/WCW/ECW Invasion||17||WWE Badd Blood ‘03||15|
|WWE One Night Stand ’06||11||TNA Genesis ‘10||7|
|ROH Era Begins||6||WWE/ECW December To Dismember||7|
|WWE WrestleMania 23||5||TNA Against All Odds ‘09||6|
|WWE No Way Out ’09||3||WCW Sin ‘01||5|
|WCW Starcade ’97||2||TNA Destination X ‘10||3|
|WWE Royal Rumble ’02||2||WCW Greed ‘01||2|
|WWE/ECW December to Dismember||2|
|ECW Heatwave ’99||1|
|WWE Backlash ’00||1|
|Best Gimmick Match||Worst Gimmick Match|
|Ultimate X Match||10||Judy Bagwell on a Pole Match||22|
|World War 3||8||Kiss My Foot Match||11|
|Royal Rumble||5||Feast or Fired||7|
|Barbed Wire Match||4||Bull Rope/Dog Collar/Strap Match||5|
|Monster’s Ball||4||Chamber of Horrors||5|
|“I Quit” Match||3||Inferno Match||4|
|Hell in a Cell||3||Punjabi Prison Match||4|
|Iron Man Match||2||Reverse Battle Royal||3|
|Money in the Bank||2||Last Rights Match||1|
|Punjabi Prison Match||1||Scramble Match||1|
|Tables, Ladders, & Chairs Match||19||King of the Mountain Match||1|
|Best Referee||Best Stables|
|Rudy Charles (WCW/WWE)||20||4 Horsemen||24|
|Mike Chioda (WWE)||8||D-Generation X||7|
|Nick Patrick (WCW/nWo/WWE)||7||Dudley Family||8|
|Earl Hebner (WWE/TNA)||6||Dungeon of Doom||3|
|John Finnegan (ECW)||6||Evolution||3|
|Pee Wee Moore (ECW)||6||Hart Foundation||2|
|Mickey Jay (WCW)||5||Heenan Family||6|
|Charles Robinson (WCW/WWE)||3||Million Dollar Corporation||2|
|Dave Hebner (WWE)||3||Ministry of Darkness||3|
|Tim White (WWE)||3||Nation of Domination||3|
|Bill Alfonzo (ECW)||2||nWo (Hollywood & Wolfpac)||9|
|Theodore ‘Teddy’ Long (WCW/WWE)||2||Raven’s Nest/Flock||1|
|Mark ‘Slick’ Johnson (TNA)||1||The Rottweilers||1|
|Best Commentator (Non-Wrestler)||Best Tag-Team|
|Jim Ross||24||Harlem Heat||11|
|Bobby Hennan||17||Steiner Brothers||9|
|Joey Styles||11||The Roadwarriors/Legion of Doom||9|
|Michael Cole||5||World’s Greatest Tag-Team||7|
|Mike Tenay||5||Acolyte Protection Agency (APA)||4|
|Todd Grisham||4||Edge & Christian||4|
|Gordon Solie||2||America’s Most Wanted||3|
|Don West (Post-Alcoholic Heel)||1||Outsiders||3|
|Mike Adamle||1||Briscoe Brothers (NWA)||3|
|Vince McMahon||1||Briscoe Brothers (ROH)||3|
|Best Commentator (Wrestler)||The Eliminators||3|
|Nominee||Votes||D-X (Michaels & HHH)||2|
|Gorilla Monsoon||14||Motor City Machine Guns||1|
|JBL||12||The Dudley Boys||1|
|C.M. Punk||8||The Hardy Boyz||1|
|Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler||8||Rock & Roll Express||1|
|Tazz||6||Most Effective Finisher|
|Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura||5||Nominee||Votes|
|“Rowdy” Roddy Piper||4||Stone Cold Stunner (SCSA)||17|
|Mick Foley||3||The Cobra (Santino Marella)||13|
|Matt Stryker||2||Canadian Destroyer (Petey Williams)||12|
|Chris Jericho||2||Grapevine Angle Lock (Kurt Angle)||8|
|Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage||1||Diamond Cutter (Diamond Dallas Page)||7|
|DDT (Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts)||6|
|Juji-Gatame Armbar (Alberto Del Rio)||3|
|Green Bay Plunge (Mr. Kennedy)||1|
|Most Prolific Wrestler||Most Ridiculous/Annoying Gimmick|
|“Stone Cold” Steve Austin||11||Kane (Unmasked & Happy)||15|
|The Undertaker||4||3:16 Sharkboy||6|
|Dean Melenko||3||WWE Pirate (Paul Burchill)||5|
|Hulk Hogan||3||Big Show||3|
|Randy “Macho Man” Savage||2||Sheamus||2|
|AJ Styles||2||The Hand||2|
|Chris Jericho||2||“Just Joe||1|
|Triple H||2||Best Big Man (Weight or Height)|
|Christopher Daniels||1||The Undertaker||18|
|Edge||1||Andre The Giant||7|
|John Cena||1||Bam Bam Bigelow||7|
|Tommy Dreamer||1||Big Show||7|
|Eddie ‘Umaga’ Fatu||3|
|King Kong Bundy||2|
|Most Underrated Wrestler||Brodie Lee||1|
|Low-Ki (Kaval)||7||Most Overrated Wrestler|
|Abyss (Mute)||5||Jeff Hardy||13|
|Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP)||4||Ken Shamrock||12|
|“Rowdy” Roddy Piper||3||Ultimate Warrior||11|
|AJ Styles||3||John Cena||9|
|Samoa Joe||3||Great Khali||3|
|Ultimo Dragon||3||Lacey Von Erich||3|
|Zack Ryder||3||Hulk Hogan||2|
|Monte Brown||3||Jackson Andrews||2|
|Kane (Masked Mute)||2||Lex Luger||1|
|Matt Hardy||1||Robbie E.||1|
|Most Influential to the Business||Wasted Potential|
|Vince K. McMahon||20||TNA||34|
|Hulk Hogan||13||Goldberg (WWE)||13|
|Stu Hart||8||AJ Styles||11|
|“Stone Cold” Steve Austin||5||Low Ki||4|
|Ric Flair||4||Bobby Lashley||3|
|Nick Bockwinkle||3||Mr. Kennedy/Anderson (WWE/TNA)||3|
|“Rowdy” Roddy Piper||2||Spirit Squad||3|
|Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan||2||“The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar||2|
|Jesse Ventura||2||Jay Lethal||2|
|Mick Foley||2||Lex Luger||2|
|Shawn Michaels||2||Marcus Cor Von||2|
|“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka||1||Shelton Benjamin||2|
|Jim Ross||1||Christian (WWE)||1|
|Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler||1||Rikishi||1|
|ALL-TIME BEST “TOTAL PACKAGE” WRESTLER|
|“Stone Cold” Steve Austin||5|
|Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart||2|
Many things have happened since this meeting of the minds, so if you have some different thoughts about these results, feel free to air them out here!
We are back again with another Podcast covering the state of the industry.
Topics came from the following:
Vitality of the Pro Wrestling Industry for both WWE & TNA
Champions of the Industry
And various current events.
What was it I said back when AJ was simply known as “Daniel Bryan’s manager”? Oh yeah: “She’s cute, but I can’t say what I really want to because she CAN’T be legal.” Yes, she was a bubbly thing of freshman innocence and barely legal physique, but there was something undeniable about her appeal as well. Maybe it was her smile. Maybe it was her obsessive traits. Maybe it was because the chick was crazy, and as we all know because of this saying that I paraphrase from a Mr. Peter Ian Staker: “Crazy chicks do it better.”
I guess that’s true, whatever “it” is. I have theories. Maybe “it” is sports. AJ is a rather athletic little imp. Maybe “it” is collecting nerd things. AJ is something of a video game nerd, a real geek as it were. God bless the population of gamers that look that good and act that crazy. Gives this heavy gaming geek hope he hasn’t had since Zoe Saldana broke it off with Keith Britton. Sure, she’s with Bradley Cooper now but I have hope. Let’s start this hashtag and get something started: #BoycottBradleyCooper.
Then, at the end of the day, maybe it’s just that she has a magnetic appeal that draws people in. Maybe that “it” is sheer appeal. Or straight sex, I don’t know. But when her power pop music hits and her brightly colored Titantron intro begins, the crowd cheers. When she skips out from backstage, with her usually tight midriff shirt, impossibly short short-shorts and Converse sneakers, we get that warm feeling along the lines of what Leopold Bloom had in The Producers. Max Bialystock called it an erection… or Malaria… not that it matters: there’s a shot for everything these days.
And in complete transparency, I have to say that I love the character of AJ Lee. I love how she rose from being Daniel Bryan’s latest conquest to being the leading woman in the company (arguably sports entertainment (that’s a post for another day)). I love seeing her come out week after week, from the position of manager to the position of lunatic to the position of power to the position she is in now. And much like our friend Bryan Danielson, her story is a curious one. It literally is a story that extends as far back as NXT, Season 3, where she was the rookie to Primo, of all people. This is my confession: I did NOT watch NXT Season 3 that much at all.
I know it doesn’t really help my “Women’s wrestling is valid!” argument (another post for another day) but I just didn’t care. My feelings towards NXT were lacking because it wasn’t what it is now. This lends to the issue of expectation, but I appreciated what it was even then, just didn’t care to watch it. Season one of the program had Wade Barrett win and shortly after the Nexus came into existence, as well as the rise of Daniel Bryan (funny how these things connect). Season two featured Kaval, aka Low Ki, aka that guy whose racial makeup is harder to read than Vin Diesel’s, win and, subsequently, get let go. That guy Alex Riley was there too. Great how that worked out. It’s really something when your greatest claim to WWE fame is getting thrown into a wall by the Big Show.
By the time Season three came along I was really “meh” about NXT. I watched two episodes, saw Naomi kicking serious buttocks, and just assumed everything would end up copasetic. End of the day, Kaitlyn won – to my surprise – and outside of Jaime the women all had futures in the WWE. Just to jog your memory, these women are: Kaitlyn, Naomi, A.J., Aksana and Maxine. You may be wondering to yourself what they’re all doing now. Well here’s the short form:
Kaitlyn is wrestling at the top of the Divas division right now, a stark contrast to most of the Divas in that she doesn’t come out as a sex object so much as a violent tank of a woman (I like that). Naomi is paired with Cameron as a Funkadactyl, dancing for Brodus Clay and touching her cohort’s behind with her own (I like that too). Aksana went through a bout as Teddy Long’s love interest, which was bizarre and unnecessary, but mostly bizarre and mildly amusing as old sexual innuendos are smile worthy, not guffaw worthy. Maxine was paired with Johnny Curtis, and that’s all that needs to be said about that. She was released and she most definitely will NOT be Fandango’s dance partner, if you catch my meaning.
And then there’s A.J. She was paired with Kaitlyn and they were thrown into the tag team fray, one representing power, one representing speed (I’m assuming). Prior to all of this she was FCW, had the title but gave it up to Rosa Mendes. That should have been mentioned earlier but I don’t do traditional rules of literary form. Anyway, paired with Kaitlyn, the team known as the Chickbusters tried to do damage to the tag team division, but kept getting damaged in return by the Divas of Doom (Beth Phoenix and Natalya), a team that was unfair in every conceivable way. After getting repeatedly beaten up, A.J. focused on a new prize: the then-James Bond of WWE Superstars, former World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. Like I said, funny how these things interrelate, eh?
So as some of us pondered on what Jay Lethal was thinking as A.J. was slobbing down his old tag team partner, we saw the dark fall of Daniel Bryan, and A.J.’s degradation as a result. With Wrestlemania and the 19.3 second loss Bryan suffered, the degradation began to affect A.J. parallel to Bryan. As he went through his denial of losing the title and began to long process of growing his beard to Bunyan proportions, A.J. was going through the denial of being dumped and, you could argue, was feeding off of the cruelty that was Daniel Bryan’s entertaining anger. Superstars and Divas alike attempted to calm her. Her reactions to that comfort ranged from mild to extreme, and the further we went down the line the harsher she was. She noticeably smacked NXT Season 3 winner Kaitlyn, twice, but the second time came much later.
This was around the time of the turning point, where A.J. advanced from sympathetic jilted sidepiece to sexy violent jilted sidepiece. Before Wrestlemania the Big Show served as the catalyst to Bryan’s true “feelings” towards A.J. and it became clearer and clearer before TRULY culminating in A.J.’s straight demolition of Kaitlyn. An amused Daniel Bryan went to the ring following A.J.’s furious assault and further berated the woman who claimed to still hold a torch for him. Introducing Crazy A.J., who went from cute and bubbly to “Oh my, it appears I’ve been struck with a rigor mortis in my….” Well, you get the idea.
With this new crazy (as well as sexy (not necessarily cool)) A.J.’s affections turned to the WWE Champion CM Punk. I remember the first words I said when she cried around him and stopped as suddenly as she began….
Because, of course, I had grown invested in the character at this point, and like an
underwhelming episode episode of Days of Our Lives. I looked at CM Punk the way I would Chad DiMera, confused and questioning the world at large following a major revelation when here comes that bitch Abby Deveraux ready to screw up everything with her… uh…
She seduced CM Punk who famously “digs crazy chicks”, and shortly after Kane was brought into the fray. Remember this, reader, because it comes back later. Daniel Bryan began to show signs of jealousy and he and Punk feuded, and then Kane feuded, and as the WWE Championship was being pursued by two new upstarts there was a curious thing going on: A.J. She was the center of everything, with Punk’s growing attraction to her at one point, Bryan’s confused feelings for her at another, and Kane’s recovering memory of what lust for a living
teenager woman feels like at another. Who was the point of that triangulation though?
She locked lips with the whole of them, Bryan before, Punk later, Kane most humorously as it led him to tag himself out of a match and probably go to the back for a date with Pamela Handerson. Then everything became about A.J. first and that belt second. This was when Punk was still an underappreciated face, Bryan was slowly coming around to face territory and Kane was… well, Kane was, as he always is: Kane. After a while, A.J.’s popularity reached skyrocketing status, and prior to the 1000th episode of RAW, Bryan had made a full turnout to sympathetic face territory. Punk was slowly going towards heel territory and Kane was, as he always is: Kane. This, of course, led to the proposal and, subsequently, the wedding on that aforementioned episode. This was the proposal of Bryan to A.J. mind you, not the one from A.J. to Punk before. Lunacy was running rampant. Anyway Reverend Slick, in all his greatness, led us to the most light hearted wedding we’ve seen in the WWE since Kane made a habit out of a assaulting religious figures. It was nice, it featured the sexy nymph in her Converses even as she skipped out in a wedding dress and…
She said no. Forget the fact that Daniel Bryan was about to make that word as great as it is now following his successful campaign to make “Yes” Webster’s word of the decade, the fact was that A.J. was about to do what no Diva had done and take over a show. McMahon came out and introduced the new general manager of RAW: A.J. Lee. As she left the ring, doing the infamous “Yes!” chant her now ex-fiancé popularized (this was the birth of Daniel Bryan’s equally awesome “No!” chant and tantrum) we could see that a new era had begun. And only so soon after Johnny Ace introduced People Power too. At least the new unnamed era of A.J. Lee was easy on the eyes. She has the touch.
A.J. began to run RAW with a cute, iron fist. Bryan was reprimanded for his cruel behavior to her and committed (remember how we all wondered about the orderlies on episode 1000?) and Kane was sent to help. Punk gained a new enemy following a heel turn and began to taunt A.J. with expanded definitions of “best in the world”, if you catch my meaning. Sure, it was funny. We all miss the segments with Dr. Shelby and the oh-so-awesome Harold, but it was still all about A.J. As she ruled backstage and the like, we saw her begin to break down little by little in her finest corporate attire, a look she managed to pull off better than Eve in my opinion. Eventually it became a little uninteresting to follow, and eventually it turned to Vickie Guerrero to challenge A.J. and constantly refer to her as “little girl”. By this point I had put aside my underage jokes too so I didn’t find it to be amusing. And, because I’ve skipped a few minor elements to get to this point, eventually Vickie began a campaign of her own to remove A.J. from power and become the new GM in the same way she wanted to run Smackdown. This brings us up to her firing from the position of general manager, Vickie’s rise as an emperor to the WWE shogunate.
Oh, and John Cena is involved too. That’s nice, I guess.
Now back in the Diva role, A.J. is still doing something spectacular, and that’s pushing along what has the potential to be a truly compelling story. Ultimately what she’s pushing forward is the rise of Dolph Ziggler, which began as a proxy from Vickie’s ambitions and Cena’s unnecessary (at least I think so) inclusion. Short form: A.J. lost her position because of an alleged affair with John Cena, and now Ziggler is involved because Vickie wouldn’t let up. The latest real culmination was a backstage brawl that featured Ziggler nearly murder Cena by putting him into and thus through bathroom stalls. To quote that school therapist from ‘Til Death: “It’s pretty awesome.”
But despite that, let’s look at what’s really interesting here: A.J. is once again leading something of a triangle. The original was Punk, Bryan and Kane, all fighting for her attention and prepubescent body, NO! Bad DiZ, no more jokes like that, stop it! What I mean to say is that they were all attracted to her completely legal persona. This time we have Cena, Ziggler and, surprisingly enough, Guerrero. Walk with me as I get into this.
Point one. It started with Vickie Guerrero. She’s on a standard power trip but her consistent use of the term “little girl” when referring to A.J. spells blatant jealousy as well. The necklace she wears, “Cougar”, would normally imply a kind of acceptance or admiration of her age and personal sex appeal but the constant booing from the audience, booing that drowns out everything and sounds louder than almost ANYTHING that the WWE can generate right now, is a definite deterrent to that confidence that she exudes when she comes out. A.J., on the other hand, is almost on the completely opposite end of the scale, from her physical appearance to her personality. Whereas Vickie is thick (in a good way, mind you), A.J. is VERY slender, if athletic. Vickie is in her mid forties whereas A.J. is a spry twentysomething.
At the same time, Vickie could and likely DOES see similar elements of herself in A.J. The most obvious thing might be the vengeful attitude they both share. It comes across differently, with Vickie being a bit of a deceptive sort and A.J. being the type to preserve her anger until it explodes, but they share the same kind of mean streak that manifests in SOMEBODY getting messed up royally. You could also say their desire for men is similar, with both of them going above and beyond their stations as managers to achieve their goals and help their Y chromosomed companions win or maintain their championships or chances thereof. For Vickie the clear reference is Dolph Ziggler, her longtime “client” whom she has a physical attraction to and has made clear implications to being attracted to, arguably under the guise of maintaining his Money in the Bank briefcase (kind of like the second female voice in Saints Row the Third, who wants to do things to Pierce that I highly doubt are legal outside of Bangkok or Mongolia). A.J., on the other hand, had Daniel Bryan before, the World Heavyweight Champion, who went further and further down the path of villainy. A.J. stuck by him before it, during it and after he dumped her, and made any effort she could to maintain that championship run in her man, past, present and future. Did it not continue with her relationship with CM Punk?
Finally, they are both of Hispanic origins. I’d make a comment about how they’re both dangerously hot headed, but that would be racist. And I’m not racist: I drive a Prius. Wait… no, I mean… damn that The New Adventures of Old Christine logic. Damn that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her fine ass…
Point two. The second person to be introduced into the arc was technically John Cena. At this point John Cena doesn’t need an introduction or a rationale: he’s John Cena. He comes out and cuts a promo and there is guaranteed money. What his inclusion into this story means is likely (A) a result of his aging, (B) utilizing him to put other stars over, or (C) just because. An affair with John Cena seems to have some element of validity with the sports entertainment world, I don’t know, look at the whole Cena-Ryder-Eve mess from way back (which I CALLED!). Cena was accused of having an affair with A.J. He seems to play second fiddle to everyone else involved right now though. He’s the straight man, the one who wonders aloud what he’s doing and tries to play the good guy despite the temptations around him. Despite Vickie’s accusations he tries to merely deny them. Despite A.J.’s advances now he tries to merely remain professional. His focus, as usual, is on the man standing opposite him in the ring in all his sweaty goodness. Before you think it: yes, I do think John Cena is a major gay icon. You know, in the same vein as Madonna, who isn’t gay herself, but has a TREMENDOUS gay following. Just saying: you got a kid six, seven years old, watches John Cena every week, don’t be surprised if he’s bringing home a male cheerleader for dinner ten years later. Yeah, I said it.
John Cena also plays the role of the knight in shining armor, the man who protects the damsel in distress (A.J.) and fights the dragon (Ziggler) and the evil witch (Guerrero) for the sake of it being the right thing to do, not anything else. But despite all this he’s human, and on one hand he attempts to appease the dark forces by actually indulging in the very thing he’s criticized for. Does he look like he enjoys it? Not when he initiates it. Why? Because he was just making a point. But when the other side of that fence initiates it, well, it’s a different story. With a healthy dose of plausible deniability towards beginning a PDA with a co-worker, he indulges, so long as he didn’t start it. It’s similar to how he was with Eve so long ago. Remember: he didn’t kiss Eve. Eve kissed him. Otherwise his focus was on protecting Eve and Zack from the villainous Dark Lord of the Sith Kane. But he was kissed, and as a result, when Zack went to the ring to confront him, who came across as the innocent one, even as he stepped to his sidekick as if he was the enemy? That’s right…
Point three. The real focus, the man of the hour, Mr. Money in the Bank himself, Dolph Ziggler. You could make a case that his inclusion into the storyline revolves, in the beginning, around his protection of his manager. Soon after it becomes an attack on A.J.’s life and personality, even accusations about her motives and intentions. That’s part of what made the culmination of his and Cena’s brief backstage brawl so compelling. Recall how it began. Ziggler made an assumption that A.J. was thinking about him when she was kissing Cena (because it’s PG we can’t say when they’re doodling each other’s no-no regions (remember: it’s the Attitude Adjustment in the ring, the FU in the boudoir)) and Cena, being the boy scout that he was, went to defend the lady’s honor, or get revenge for his “girlfriend” with a Forrest Gump type of focus. Either way, he ended up messed up.
But Ziggler’s role in this triangle is the most interesting of them all. When A.J. burst into the men’s locker room and confronted Ziggler, I found it almost divine that he went off on her the way he did. It wasn’t loud, it wasn’t extra, it was straight up and, in a way, empowering. April Mendez’s circumstances in life were bad, this is true, and implanting them into a WWE storyline is a questionable tactic, but we watch for the character versus the person behind them, even though oftentimes they blend, something we’ve seen with CM Punk’s family being utilized in his feud with Chris Jericho, or Jerry Lawler’s recently deceased mother when he was feuding with Michael Cole.
We also have to look at what Ziggler he said on both sides of his argument about A.J., berating her in one instance and almost joyously claiming to be the object of her desires in another. A solid heel tactic, it also shows us Dolph’s confusion towards the woman, likely being just as disgusted by her as he is attracted to her. What began as a two-sided conflict between Cena and Ziggler over the attack and defense of Vickie’s accusations, respectively, turned into a three-pronged assault for A.J.’s eye following Ziggler’s grand standing statement of “She’s thinking about ME!” Like I said, normally this would just be a common heel tactic. When A.J. is involved it becomes a question along the same vein of Lupe Fiasco as Michael Young History: “‘Do I love her?’ Said, ‘I don’t know…’”
Ziggler’s character is that of a big time chauvinist and ego maniac. What he said to and about A.J. was harsh, enough to spawn a rough silence even in the audience, but behind what seemed like a damning serious of accusations (which, again, were translated into PG territory) was a scary subliminal message of “Do better!”. As a person, mind you, a character. When I watched Ziggler and A.J. in that segment, I didn’t get the sense that I was watching a man with an inflated ego talk down to a woman trying to get answers for her friend. I got the sense that I was watching a concerned elder brother deliver tough love to a troubled younger sister unable to see – or acknowledge – her faults.
It’s weird. Of course saying brother and sister is a bit of a stretch, but it does paint Ziggler as a more well rounded figure as opposed to just being an asshole (sidenote: Bully Ray is more of an asshole than Mr. Anderson according to Aaron James, Ph.D). He represents the stark reality of who A.J. just may be. He’s on the rise to greatness in this company, and it’s great to see his character is more than just a heel with an overactive ego.
But who is at the center? A.J. Again. To make it even stronger, she’s in the center of a storyline with John Cena being a part of it. That’s like having a Wrestlemania match with the Undertaker* in terms of prestige. Seeing the two in the ring together, sharing a kiss, I couldn’t help but think about that Cena-Ryder-Kane-Eve storyline that took place so long ago. As great as that storyline could have been it was ruined by the payoff that was Eve’s “revelation” of using Ryder and Cena for prestige, grandeur, greatness and possibly physical pleasure. If anything you could argue that SHE was Kane’s protégé the entire time, or the Amanda to Kane’s John Kramer, if you will. It makes me wonder about A.J.
That’s the second major point of the curious case of April Mendez. If the first is that she forms triangles around her, the second is a question of her ultimate intentions. While the kiss with Cena physically resembled the infamous Suddenly (as sung by Billy Ocean) moment with Eve, the cold-blooded words from Ziggler got the cogs in my head turning. “What does A.J. Lee really want?” She went from tag team Diva, to Bryan’s latest conquest (maybe it was SHE who invented “Yes! Yes! Yes!”, if you know what I mean), to main event symbol of attraction, to general manager, to sharing the spotlight with John Cena. That’s arguably a step up in power each time.
What does this have to do with Eve? Eve lusted after power, and she went from top Diva to Ryder’s reason for plunking his twanger to Cena’s fleeting but significant snake charmer, to being Johnny Ace’s head administrator, and yes, I have to admit that it sounds really sexualized but that last part was her official title. She rose in strength, and last I checked she was Divas’s Champion, again, after a bit as Teddy Long’s assistant.
I say they ruined that storyline with Eve the second they had her reveal her intentions; Cena overhearing was just icing on the nasty cake. If A.J. is supposed to have some kind of dark element or egomaniacal intentions to her, it can work because she’s believable as a long-term planner. Eve seemed to use, of all people, Zack Ryder, and John Cena was thrown in later as some kind of twisted “big brother” to the man who made wheelchair violence seem funny. A.J. can come across as vindictive and sympathetic, and all the while everything can seem organic with her. If she does turn out to be doing all she’s doing, forming these triangles and such for her own advancement, would it seem wrong? Would she not have motive and proper motivation? What if she was really just crazy? What if she really did just jump from guy to guy because she liked the attention?
This is what makes A.J. Lee such a curious case. She’s the girl next door but she’s so impossibly believable too. How can you not love her bubbly personality and, if I am to paraphrase Rich Boy: “Dat ass”? April Mendez, in all her wonder, is at the top of her game right now, and this is completely unrelated, but she’s not too too bad in the ring either. All that in mind, I look forward to what’s next for April Mendez, aka A.J. Lee. She’s the queen of the crazy in the WWE. The queen of sanity.
Oh, and just because I’m feeling nice, here’s a John Laurinaitis promo:
* denotes hyperbole, exaggeration or drunken assertions
According to Gerweck.net, Matt Hardy commented during a recent interview that a Hardy Boys reunion in the WWE early next year would be “very likely.”
Please allow me the opportunity to present myself as one that is as, if not more, prescient than Matthew Moore Hardy…
*ahem* It’s very likely that everyone reading this piece right now will die someday; ba-da-bing, I’m brilliant.
All jokes aside this news seems intriguingly befuddling to me for various reasons.
On one hand it is not uncommon for fans to hear an athlete working in the professional wrestling business make the statement, “never say never.”
In fact that statement is one of the few tried and true things of the industry built on scripted or staged athletic contests. While we fans build imaginary walls between pro wrestling organizations, the reality consistently remains that pro wrestling/sports entertainment is a business; hundreds and thousands of people (if not millions) make their living off the blood, sweat and tears that comes with “wrasslin’.”
From that perspective “never say never” provides an entirely different connotation. We’d like to believe that most wrestlers have blood feuds and vendettas against certain pro wrestling promotions and companies, but the bittersweet truth is that the thin line between morals and ethics creates an uncomfortably grey area of understanding for fans when it concerns an athlete’s well-being after one’s wrestling career is over.
While the “cool thing” at the moment is to lambaste everything offered by Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment, one would easily epitomize feeble-mindedness by ignoring the company’s status as the big dog on the block.
Being the big dog on the block means that everyone’s on your tail one way or another; the pipsqueaks are either out to get you or out to get with you. Getting with the WWE is no small feat as we’ve seen through numerous episodes of Tough Enough, Diva Search, and countless tryout match and developmental contract signing news blurbs. Most fans won’t admit this but there are wrestlers scratching and clawing their way to WWE just to be Security Guard #7 in a Great Khali/Hornswoggle skit.
Let’s take it one step further: Taz, Jeff Jarrett, Bully Ray and Devon, and Kurt Angle all received residual checks for appearing in the WWE’s recent Attitude Era DVD. Fans can berate the company six ways from Sunday, but money talks and you’d be a post-pubescent bed wetter to think that anybody would turn down a six figure check from just appearing on a DVD with 15 year old matches and backstage skits.
With that reality in mind it isn’t absurd that Matt Hardy would proudly admit that it’s “very likely” the Hardy brothers would appear back in WWE sometime in early 2013. The money would be spectacular, the duo could end their careers in the place that afforded them global notoriety, and they could potentially put over the next young and hungry tag team in the company. Everybody wins, right?
What is absurd is the idea that (a) fans should easily accept that possibility and (b) fans should actually give a damn at this point in time.
At times it appears that the bulk of the Hardy’s collective fame comes mostly from Jeff Hardy falling off stuff. This doesn’t negate their legacy in pro wrestling at all; the role they played (along with others) in the tag team boom of the Attitude Era is easily recognizable and laudable.
That was twelve to fifteen years ago. Since then Jeff Hardy has become as recognizable as John Cena to the hardcore and casual wrestling fan alike. His “extracurricular activities” are near mythic and reminiscent of the days when wrestlers played as hard outside the ring as much as they worked inside the ring. His appeal resonates with fans who like to go full throttle with their balls-to-the-wall, cherishing individualism, uniqueness and creativity while shunning and cursing everything that screams middle-management conformity.
Theoretically speaking Jeff Hardy would thrive as a top star in any organization that chose to seriously capitalize off of the devil-may-care mentality that seems prevalent in a good number of fans today.
Yet and still fans still want him saddled to his older brother in a tag team. That’s the modern day equivalent of asking Shawn Michaels to return for “one more run” with Marty Jannetty.
If both Jeff and Matt Hardy were to return to WWE no doubt the nostalgia factor would blow the roofs off arenas across the country and the world. But how feasible would it be for the company to pass on the marketing potential that comes with pushing the more popular brother as a singles star versus the mediocre money that comes with trotting them around like the McGuire Twins?
The bread and butter that would come with placing them back in a tag team would be their ability to elevate the division and help create new tag team stars, even though for some odd reason that despite all the compelling and available evidence, most fans still believe WWE’s tag team division is non-existent.
Other than that placing the brothers back in the tag team division would be a monumental waste of talent, money, and energy if the only goal was celebrate their epic tag team greatness while tacitly ignoring their potential as singles’ stars.
The second idea is that fans by-and-large are clamoring for are Hardy Boys reunion. Half of WWE’s current fan base wasn’t born until well after the Hardys had separated as tag team stars. The implication is that the only fans who truly desire to see the Hardys back together in WWE are those who probably watch Impact Wrestling.
The irony of that implication is that their well-intentioned desire wasn’t even strong enough for TNA to consider placing them in a full time tag team; mind you this is the same company that brought back the Nasty Boys.
Apparently Vince McMahon made a very poignant comment on the Monday Night Wars DVD some years ago: “Fans know what they like, but don’t know what they want.” The idea of a Hardy Boys reunion is fantastic while the reality of it may be as popular as diarrhea in a swimming pool.
This situation can easily remind one of the clamoring for a return to an Attitude Era-esque product. All things considered fans don’t really want a return to vulgarity, blood and ad hoc nudity; fans desire for the athletes, writers, and owners to show the same passion today that was present in 1997.
Although the today’s circumstances are very different, the foundation and spirit that existed then should still be present. The Attitude Era was great because of the passion that was visible in the product; today’s unholy triumvirate (writers, wrestlers, owners) seems almost apathetic to providing a compelling product.
The same is true about the Hardy brothers; fans really don’t want the 1997-2001 Hardy Boys. Instead we want what they represented, an unparalleled desire to provide fans with non-stop, action packed and compelling in-ring storytelling that is fueled with segments of comedy, drama, and suspense.
If there are tons of stars today that can offer that for years to come, why the heck would anyone want to go backwards and unnecessarily push stars from the past?
For example: on any good given day this year Matt and Nick Jackson (a.k.a. Generation Me, b.k.a. The Young Bucks) could provide an equally entertaining and thrilling match as the Hardys. One could even go as far as saying they could do so without the use of ladders or 20-50 foot dives.
Now how many dirt sheet sites have you seen with commentators lobbying for the Jacksons to get another chance in WWE? It is somewhat counterproductive to lobby for young and new talent while clinging to the past.
The Hardy Boys come with a certain nostalgia factor that cannot and should not be ignored, but it seems far-fetched to hang one’s hopes and dreams on a WWE Hardy reunion. Matt and Jeff have most assuredly carved an unequivocal name for themselves in the annals of pro wrestling history and unless that legacy is used appropriately and sparingly (think The Undertaker and Sting), fans will never truly appreciate the hell they put themselves through for the sake of entertainment.
If it were up to this analyst, I would rally the troops to support each brother in their current efforts. Jeff Hardy, in one light, seems perfectly fine in TNA and should be the over promoted standard bearer for the company.
Matt Hardy, in that same light, seems to have found a perfect niche in being a free agent lending his skills and knowledge to up-and-coming wrestlers; keep in mind that the better workers in tag teams are not always the ones with “successful” singles careers (*cough cough Marty Jannetty*).
From that vantage point, a Hardy reunion in WWE is unnecessary and pointless. When it’s all said and done, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that Matt Hardy was very likely blowing smoke out his ass for the sake of it.
And just in case you didn’t get that McGuire Twin reference up there, here’s a picture of the brothers…
On behalf of the team of writers here at L.E.W.D., we would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! For those of our readers who don’t celebrate this holiday, we’d like to express our sincerest gratitude for your reads and visits to the site, and it is our hope that whatever you choose to do this day, you a) keep it within the city limits, b) keep it legal, or c) whichever comes first.
In the spirit of the Black Friday holiday I’d personally like to do a shameless plug for DragonGate USA and EVOLVE Wrestling. I find it amusing that “real” wrestling fans will harp incessantly over sports entertainment all the while never checking out orgs that don’t have Vince McMahon or Dixie Carter’s sticky and greasy fingerprints all over the product.
Having said that, DGUSA has an excellent Black Friday sale going on where all of the DVDs are 50% off. The sale ends Monday at midnight, so hop to it and click here to get your wrasslin’ on.
Also don’t forget that TNA’s Thanksgiving episode of Impact Wrestling airs tonight. After you’re done stuffing your face with stuffing and having the obligatory conversation with an older relative about all the things you’re not doing right in life, plop down and chillax with what we all know will be a fun episode of sports entertainment.
Once again enjoy the holiday, enjoy the day and your family/friends, and spend some money on DragonGate USA products!
Have a great day, folks!