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Monday, April 30, 2007

Have You Seen It?

A few years back, one of my best friends moved away to Texas to pursue a graduate degree in Chemistry. He has only made about two visits back since he's been gone. On one, he made sure that I sat down and watched this little gem. Rather than me tell you about it, I will send you over to the master of talking about crap in professional wrestling, R.D. Reynolds of Wrestlecrap.com.

"Pop quiz, hot shot: name the number one best selling wrestling DVD of all time. Go on, try. I dare you.

Want a hint? Well, it's not the Ric Flair Ultimate Collection, nor is it the Bret Hart set. It wasn't a Wrestlemania release. It doesn't have Hulk Hogan, Rock, Steve Austin, or any other top WWE name. In fact, it wasn't even put out by WWE. Or WCW. Or ECW. Or, for that matter, any other wrestling promotion you have ever possibly have heard of.

Give up? It's a DVD entitled Grand Masters of Wrestling, and you've likely seen it sitting in the $1 bin at the local Wal-Mart. It was an independent release, and while we generally give indies a free pass here at the Crap, we can't this time, as we feel it would be a disservice to the entire wrestling DVD buying public if we didn't warn those folks that even one hundred Lincoln coppers is way, way too much to pay for the pain and agony you will unleash upon your eyeballs and eardrums.

Actually, that's not true. The original Grand Masters is a pile of crap, to be sure, but it's not horribly offensive. Heck, there's even a decent match on there in the form of the opening bout of Ace Darling versus "Dangerous" Devon Storm, who WCW viewers will know as Crowbar. The rest of the disc, featuring the likes of King Kong Bundy versus Jobber of the Week favorite "Iron" Mike Sharpe (who looked to weigh as much as Bundy by this point) was a perfectly acceptable trip down memory lane.

But following the success of the first disc, a second disc was released. No no - scratch that, as "released" is far too kind a word. It was more unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, not unlike the return of polio or perhaps the black plague. Seriously, think of the worst wrestling card you've ever seen. I can state, without hyperbole, that this is at least 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times worse.

The show, as best I can tell, looks to be taped in a grade school gym. I wish I could give you more details, but I've scoured the globe (ok, so I just did a Google search and didn't find anything on the first page - shoot me) and discovered nothing.

One thing I do know, however, is that it appears to be for some type of Jewish festival. I know this, because throughout the disc, various wrestlers put over those of the Jewish faith and there's a guy named the Mighty Maccabee in the main event, fighting for the Maccabiah Heavyweight Championship. I figured this was something very prestigious in the Jewish community, so I contacted my good friend Jeff Cohen, the guy who brought me into the business (yes, you can blame him for all this) to give me some insight on both the man and the belt.

His response?

"Never heard of them."

On with the show!"

Read the rest at:
Wrestlecrap.com
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Friday, April 27, 2007

TNA: Wasted Opportunity

Wasted Opportunity. That is what TNA should have called Impact last night. Now don't get me wrong, I thought Impact was very good last night, one of the best of the year thus far. TNA did a lot of things right last night. Most importantly they got the wrestling right. Yeah, there were three crap finishes but the matches before the finishes were actually really good. The promos didn't run on too long and were funny and entertaining while advancing the story lines but they primarily focused on the wrestling.

But they missed an opportunity to do something which just isn't done much anymore. They missed the chance to have a major title change hands on prime time television. For too long now, both in the WWE and TNA, title changes have been reserved for pay-per view events. Yeah, every once in a while a belt changes hands but it doesn't happen often and when it does the fed plays down the title change. Last night TNA had a great opportunity to do something special and advance the storyline going into the Sacrifice PPV. Yet they screwed the pooch.

Do I think Sting should be holding the number one contender's slot when it is pretty apparent they want him working with the younger guys to help them get over? No. But they made their bed at Lockdown by having him get the win, so why not advance your storyline in a positive manner? I mean they set it up perfectly. Angle and Sting attempt to settle their differences the old fashioned way. Christian and gang interferes, brutalizing Angle. Cornette then books the title match for the main event that very night.

By having Sting win the belt on Impact would turn some heads. But instead they take the well worn path and have Angle interfere allowing Christian to keep the belt. This sets up their triple threat match for Sacrifice, which leaked only a couple of days after Lockdown. But if Sting had won the title the triple threat match could still have been had and I think it would have been much better. Bear with me a moment longer and let's say Sting won the title. Sting offers Angle the title shot based on the events from Impact. Christian complains he should get his rematch. And poof, there is your triple threat match and it comes off of a nice gesture to the fans as well but instead we get more of the same. What a waste.

On a side note, the man who boils my blood, Jeff Jarrett got his largest crowd pop in years when he came out to help Eric Young and the guitar shot on Ms. Brooks was priceless. If they plan on having Double J work with the younger stars, much like their plan for Sting, then I think even I may be able to stomach him.
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Introducing myself and thoughts on Randy Orton

Hello wrestling fans! Before i get started here, i would personally like to thank everyone at Pro Wrestling Pundit for giving me the oppurtunity to be part of their team. I look forward to a long relationship with them.

So now let me give you a little background on me personally. I have been a big wrestling fan for many, many years. As far back as i can remember. I grew up watching wrestling in the old school era of Mid-South Wrestling as well as World Class Wrestling. Those were the days!! Great wrestling action.

Now as you will become to learn about me if you are a repeated visitor of my blogs, I am very straight forward. I say whats on my mind and leave nothing behind. Which brings me to my first topic......Randy Orton.

For those of you that havent heard yet, the WWE has been doing a tour recently of the U.K. And while this is all "brand new" news and we are just getting bits and pieces at a time. It is rumored that Mr. Orton was found in his hotel room passed out and his room was to be estimated at well over $30,000 in damages!! This really sickens me. Now number one, no i have never been in the business, but i still think that there is a way to handle yourself professionally, and Randy Orton has proved over and over again numerous times, that he just cant do it.

How many chances has the WWE gave this young man? Its really a shame. Because he is an outstanding talent! Unlimited talent at that! But what is it that makes this man do the things he does? Is he that arrogant? Can he not handle the pressure of being a WWE Superstar? I, unfortunately, do not have those answers.

What should be done about it you ask? Well if I was Vince McMahon and the WWE, and granted, im not, I would personally send Mr. Orton home!! Just because he is one of your top talents, doesnt mean he gets any different treatment. Wasnt it just a couple of months back when the WWE fired Joey Mercury and sent him home for violating the wellness program? There should be the same consequences for Randy Orton. Maybe its time to shake things up in the WWE. Give those guys who are watering at the mouth, like CM Punk, Mr. Kennedy, and hell for that matter Chris Benoit the ball and let them run with it!

I guess in a round about way, im just more disappointed seeing a great, young talent like Orton throw what could be a great career away. Theres still time Randy. Get yourself together anddo the right thing!

Well everyone, there you have it. My first post here at Pro Wrestling Pundit. I hope you enjoyed it and i look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback. Until next time, watch out for the "ChairShot"!!
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Scorekeeping: Lockdown

Welcome to what I hope to have as a monthly feature here on PWP, entitled Scorekeeping. What Scorekeeping will be is a review of TNA's monthly pay-per-view on a match by match basis. If in the event I happen to see a WWE PPV during that month, Scorekeeping will be head-to-head between TNA and WWE. This month, the inaugural edition of Scorekeeping happens to be one of those special months as April hosted the Granddaddy of Them All Wrestlemania.


WWE's Wrestlemania 23 took place on April 1st and immediately after seeing it I thought it was a poor April Fool's Joke that had cost me $50. It just didn't feel like Wrestlemania to me. TNA's Lockdown took place this past Sunday night, April 15th and was a giant opportunity to out-perform WWE, not in terms of sales but at least in terms of actual quality considering how un-Wrestlemania like Wrestlemania actually was.

So let's get to it. Please not that the matches are not presented in the exact order (although they are pretty close) they appeared on the PPV.

Openers: Money in the Bank vs. X-Division Escape

Money in the Bank is almost always a good time and with performs such as Edge and the Hardy Boyz involved this was the perfect way to start Wrestlemania. The finish was a little off for me but overall it did its job and got everyone into the show. B+

The X-Division is TNA's backbone. They have built a federation using the insane stunts and high powered performances of the X-Division wrestlers. So what isn't to like when you stick five guys in a steel cage and tell them to go at it with the winner gaining or retaining the X-Division Title? It was missing a few things that could have made it better but just like the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania, it did its job and got everyone into the show. B

Mid-Card: The Great Khali / Kane vs. Senshi / Austin Starr

Khali and Kane. Two monster behemoths with whom no one wants to play. Despite their size the two put on a decent match, just not Wrestlemania quality. C+

As with all the Lockdown matches, Senshi vs. Austin Starr was in the Six Sides of Steel. I have not been a big fan of Austin Starr but he put on a great performance for this match putting over Senshi. B

Mid-Card: Chris Benoit / MVP vs. Robert Roode / Petey Williams

Benoit is one of the best technical wrestlers still wrestling today, unfortunately he has terrible mic skills and no one has ever really been able to use him well, except maybe when he was part of the Horsemen. MVP looks like a deranged Power Ranger, so I fully expected Benoit to rip him apart. Good match but nothing I will remember. B

Robert Roode's new Million Dollar Man type gimmick is tiring and I have never really liked him in the ring but I really like Petey Williams as an in-ring performer. Surprisingly Roode put on a very good performance and got the win, nothing special but entertaining. B

Mid-Card: Undertaker / Batista vs. Christopher Daniels / Jerry Lynn

The Undertaker has never lost at Wrestlemania so the outcome here was not in question. What was in question was if Batista and Undertaker could put on an entertaining match to get to the ending everyone knew was coming. The answer was yes. B

Christopher Daniels vanished for a couple months before emerging with a new tattoo. While he was gone Jerry Lynn made a case for geriatrics wrestling. Upon his return Daniels singled out Lynn as his first target for cleansing. The storyline going in was trash but with these two performers you were not going to get a stinker. B

Mid-Card: ECW Originals / New Breed vs. Team 3D / LAX

Taking the original stars of the ECW and pitting them against the new "stars", and I use the term loosely, of the ECW seemed like too much roster, not enough space for everyone. It turned out RVD is out of the doghouse though (afraid he might jump ship Vince?) as he gets the win in a short yet entertaining match. B

The Dudley's Legacy against LAX's tag titles. In the culmination of a almost four months of feuding Team 3D met LAX in the "electrified" steel cage. I guess dimming the lights blue and having an annoying hum radiate throughout the arena makes the cage electrified. Whatever. Take out the "electrification" of the match and it actually is pretty good, with some great action in the cage, but the terrible handling of the gimmick brings this down a notch. C+

Super Gimmick: McMahon / Trump vs. The Blindfold Match

When I heard the big gimmick match for Wrestlemania was going to be a hair match involving Vince and the Donald I cringed. On paper it was a disaster. In practice Vince put on the second best performance of the show, even with Trump's terrible punches. Shane hitting the dropkick from the other side of the ring was just icing on the cake. B+

James Storm hits Chris Harris in the face with a beer bottle, supposedly blinding him in one eye. Harris wants revenge and months after America's Most Wanted had broken up the two come face-to-face in a grudge match. To make it even both combatants must wear an execution bag over their head (Hey I thought this was a blindfold match), that hardly ever stays on. Regardless it is the worst match I've seen since returning to wrestling, the crowd hated it, I hated it and I think even Storm and Harris hated it. F

Girls, Girls, Girls: Melina / Ashley vs. Gail Kim / Jackie Moore

The WWE has the women to do it but for some reason cannot put together a decent women's match for Wrestlemania. Instead we get a Lumber Jill match involving Ashley and Melina and the rest of the WWE tramp patrol. At least it was short. D+

TNA does not have the women to have a decent division but they do have two that can put on a hell of a match when given the opportunity. Gail Kim flying off the top of the cage just proves that these ladies are more than able to get the job done. Before they go full steam ahead into women's wrestling though they need to expand to two hours of television time. B

Main Event: John Cena / The Heart Break Kid vs. Lethal Lockdown

I've never liked John Cena. To me he signifies everything that is wrong with Vince's approach to his stars. HBK on the other hand has been a favorite of mine since he was part of The Rockers. I so thought HBK was going to get the win and maybe a nice farewell tour before he retired but instead Cena got the win. Surprisingly though this was actually a very good match, not great but very good. Cena failed to sell his leg injury (did he get a cortisone shot mid match?) but overall he worked real well with Michaels. B

The Lethal Lockdown. Two teams, 10 men, one cage. The build-up to this match was done very well and despite my distaste for Jeff Jarrett this (see Two Words, One Man) match still held my attention. All night, all eyes were on Jarrett to see if he could be trusted and it turns out he can be. Lethal Lockdown is exactly why I like TNA. The top ten stars for the company in an extreme cage match. I wasn't thrilled with the ending, despite being a huge Sting fan, but overall Lethal Lockdown shined as the match of the night. B+

Totals: Using a 4.0 Grade Point Average scale, the WWE's Wrestlemania comes in with a 2.88 GPA while TNA's Lockdown nabs a 2.63 GPA. Considering Wrestlemania is the WWE's flagship PPV, TNA should be proud that they put on an entertaining show that only cost their fans $30 (as compared to Wrestlemania's $50 price tag). TNA still has a good amount to improve on but they are steadily improving and Vince might want to keep watch a little bit more, improving his product along the way.

Check back next month when I will score TNA's Sacrifice PPV and feel free to send your comments and questions to me at pwp.chris@gmail.com
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Soup Du Jour

“Show me that smile again. (Show me that smile)
Don't waste another minute on your cryin.
We're nowhere near the end (nowhere near)
The best is ready to begin.

Oooohhh. As long as we got each other
We got the world spinnin right in our hands.
Baby you and me, we gotta be
The luckiest dreamers who never quit dreamin.

As long as we keep on givin
We can take anything that comes our way
Baby, rain or shine, all the time
We got each other Sharin the laughter and love.”

Who would have ever thought years ago that three guys posing as extreme vampires would be the future of wrestling? Not this wrestling fan…no way. But it’s only appropriate to use the theme from “Growing Pains” to describe the collective careers of Edge and Christian.

Its hard to not picture Edge with his devilish smirk grinning at Christian after they won the tag team titles for the first time. At that time you had to think that their combined careers were no where near the end. Oh yes dare I say it the best is yet to begin.

As long as they had each other (and either Gangrel, R.E.C.K., The Ministry [which later sold out to corporate sponsors], or even Miami ink’s favorite customer: Tyson Tomko). They had the world in their hands in 2006; when both Edge (WWE) and Christian (NWA) had won the Crown Jewels of their respective companies. With wins over “chump stains” John Cena and Jeff Jarett. Edge’s belt did spin!

They were the luckiest of dreamers who never did quit dreaming. Christian most likely did the best for his career when he bolted for TNA. While Edge got to have “Live Sex Celebrations” on Raw. Nevertheless, I’d rather be a perennial contender than to hold the breath taking breasts of a retired Diva.

They’ve kept on giving blood sweat and tears from tables, ladders, and chairs. They took every opportunity that came their way. It’s a shame now that they don’t have each other. Because I know I’d be sharing in the laughter and love.




Baby, rain or shine, all the time, that is why you have to have nuts to make the soup du jour!

This is for those fans who have flash photography as well as flash shockwave!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cpYPCBdbOk



Lyrics taken courteously from Blackcatter's World of Tv Theme Songs Lyrics http://www.cfhf.net/lyrics/growing.htm
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Two Words, One Man

As I said in my article last week, I like TNA. I really do. I enjoy it much more than anything Vince has put out in the last few years. I enjoy the personalities that TNA has produced, I enjoy the athleticism that TNA delivers, and most importantly I enjoy the actual wrestling that takes place on TNA.

There are a few things I don't like about TNA though and last nights Impact had more than its normal share of them. You see normally I let the things I don't like about TNA slide. I mean really the half-developed story lines I can forgive because they only have one hour of TV a week so it really isn't much of a shock that the story lines are a little half cocked. As long as the wrestling is good who cares.

Don West and Mike Tenay I can forgive for being complete and utter tools because.... OK really I can't forgive them, so I just ignore them instead. The commercial breaks mid-match I can forgive because that's what pays the bills. Last night was a different story though. Last night all these things annoyed me.

Why, Chris? Why did these things annoy you more than anything last night? Oh TNA Prophet, why are you annoyed going into one of the biggest pay-per-view events in the history of TNA Wrestling?

Well since you so very much want to know, I'll tell you. My problem is two words. Two words that form one man. And those words (and that man) is Jeff Jarrett. Double J put me on annoyance level 10.

In possibly the worst kept secret in recent TNA history, even worse than Kurt Angle coming to TNA, Jeff Jarrett returned to the ring last night, interfering in the AJ Styles / Samoa Joe match on the side of Team Angle. Yes, Jeff Jarrett is back and he is the fifth member of Team Angle for the Lethal Lockdown match, joining Angle, Sting, Joe and Rhyno. Not only is Jarrett back, but he very nearly ruined Impact for me last night and has seriously soured my mood going into Lockdown on Sunday. Jarrett's return had everything I don't like in TNA rolled into one.

Over the course of the final 15 minutes of Impact everything I dislike about TNA reared its ugly head and then Jarrett topped it all of like a cherry on a sadistic sundae. Don West and Mike Tenay made numerous inane statements throughout the AJ / Joe match, then in the middle of the match they cut to commercial only to return and show me something, via replay, that I didn't miss because it aired before the commercial break. Then with Joe on the verge of winning, Christian's Army (by the way, how hokey can you get? Why don't they just paint red crosses on their chest. I mean really they already have Sir Galahad.) enters the Impact Zone and of course out comes Team Angle to fend them off.

While a ridiculous melee is going on at ringside, Jarrett's terrible entrance music plays and he walks out of the tunnel, enters the ring, looks at Joe, looks at AJ and then smacks AJ over the head with his guitar. Jarrett then proceeds to make Joe smell his hand, flashing his five fingers directly in Joe's face, solidifying the half cocked Lethal Lockdown storyline as completely moronic. All this happens with the inane commentary of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum screaming like the Korean's have launched a nuclear missile strike.

I was quite excited for Lockdown on Sunday but now, after these events, well not so much. Thanks Double J. Glad you are back. When are you leaving again?
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From the Vault: Lugerman

It's my birthday and I'll post what I want to... The following is a parody of Eminem's "Superman." It was originally posted on 3/28/03, the week before WrestleMania XIX which featured the last Rock/Austin showdown as well as Lesnar/Angle.

Mmmhh
You high baby?
Cause you are gonna have to be for this one
You want me to tell you somethin?
Too Bad, Listen Anyways
I know what you wanna hear...



I know you want me back
I want to come back too
I know you love me baby
I think I love you too
I'm here to save this thing
Let me back in the ring
Ratings will grow I tell you
Let my return unfurl
You know you want me baby,
You know I want you too,
They call me Lugerman,
I'm here to rescue you,
I wanna save you fans,
Here's Flexy Lexy's Plan...

They call me Lugerman
Leapfrog Flair in a single bound
I'm out of work now
Got no ring to bump in now
Cause WWA doesn't really count
In the scheme of things
Even though it's got Sting
A WWE Ring
It makes me sing
Lugerman here to say Bling Bling
You can jump on Luger's Dingaling
Shoot from the hip
Cut to the chase
I'll tell Hulk Hogan to his face
No Political Games
Based on Names
ever since I heard smarks say workrate
I'm a different man
Get on my back
I'll grab your face
You'll feel my rack
Take the forearm
Take your bumps flat
Total Package gonna whoop your ass
You won't sell, I'll make you sell
I won't sell?, Hey, oh well...
That's just swell, far as I can tell
You Job to me or GO TO HELL
Am I over enough to main event
It doesn't matter, go get bent
What you don't like hearing lexy vent
I'll get with your bitch and pitch a tent
The one thing about this rhyme
WWE signs names all the time
Saturday through Sunday Monday
This Sunday why not mine
It's Wrestlemania time
Wouldn't I be a nice suprise
I bulked up specifically to catch Vince's eye

Cause I can't be your Lugerman
Can't be your Lugerman
Can't be your Lugerman,
Can't be your Lugerman,
I can't be your Lugerman,
Can't be your Lugerman,
Can't be your Lugerman,
Your Lugerman, your Lugerman...

Don't get me wrong,
I love The Rock
It's no secret,
I want to suck his cock
Can't we fuck?
Stone Cold says what?
That's the way a good catch phrase goes,
It's not the end,
I'll be back again,
I'll go to every indy show scouts attend,
Never know what kind of shape i'll be in,
That's how I plan to get to the fed,
Vince has to want me back,
I love Triple H,
I could be in that stable with him and Naitch,
Batista disappeared without trace,
And Randy Orton is hurt,
Oh hell you put me in the place of Kurt,
I could work Brock Lesnar oh,
On the biggest stage of them all a sold out show
Wrestlmania Ten wasn't that long ago
I headlined then and jobbed to Yoko
The one thing about this rhyme
WWE signs names all the time
Saturday through Sunday Monday
This Sunday why not mine
It's Wrestlemania time
Wouldn't I be a nice suprise
I bulked up specifically to catch Vince's eye

Please Let Me Be Your Lugerman
Let me be your Lugerman
One more time your Lugerman
Your Lugerman, Your Lugerman
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

PWI Reporter's Notebook

Each week, Pro Wrestling Illustrated senior writer Brady Hicks provides his insights into the world of professional wrestling for you to study. He can be reached by e-mail at bradyhicks@gmail.com. ***

I still have an hour of Raw to watch, an hour of ECW to watch, and last week's entire SmackDown on tape waiting for me. And I really need to get those done before iMPACT tomorrow night, otherwise I'm going to be running out of room on my three VHS tapes. Thank god there's no more Wrestling Society X, right? No - I mean seriously.

Such is the lonely life of a PWI reporter.

It's still not as bad as back in the day when I had 16-1/2 hours to contend with between WWF, WCW, ECW, and local programming that took up hours on end. I mean, have you ever in your entire life HAD to sit through an entire three hour taping of Thunder just in the event that WCW might be planning something original, different, or - at the very least - worthy of writing about?

Didn't think so.

You wrestling fans today have it easy. You complain because you don't like John Cena (the most important champion since The Rock or Steve Austin). You complain because you don't like the particular creative direction that this week's watered down ECW show has taken or you aren't happy that Snitsky is now a monster or you don't even care if Batista learned a new move this week. And does it matter the slightest?

No.

Because Triple-H is no longer raping Katie Vick. Because we don't have to sit through two years of Sting dressing up like the Crow and doing nothing week after week only to come back and appear to conspire with Bret Hart to screw Hulk Hogan out of the title. You don't have the Bushwackers. You don't have preliminary wrestlers main eventing your Saturday Morning Superstars. You don't have Sean Mooney to bitch about.

I think you should all be kissing Vince McMahon's ass for keeping wrestling from returning to what it used to be. I'd take MVP any day of the week over Earthquake's Damian pancakes.

***

To the mailbag Batman:

Tim writes: WWE needs to protect this guy [Lashley] from the wrath of the smarks, cause he's on his way down Batista Boulevard to John Cena Drive.

Dear Tim: And would that be such a bad thing? I hope for Lashley's sake he is one-sixteenth as successful as John Cena or Batista. That would automatically make him more important than Chris Benoit. Wait a minute. He might be more important as we stand now!
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Carlito's Way

It's been said time and time again that one bad apple can spoil a whole bunch. Initially groomed as a future world champion, second generation superstar Carlito was given the US title in his debut match on Smackdown and the Intercontinental title in his debut match on Raw.

Carlito's unique look and character, accompanied with his incredible push made fans like Carlito. Funny how when McMahon shoves a babyface down your throat you get pissed, but giving a heel the world in a day makes you love him more and more. Examples? How about Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Randy Orton, all heel debuts, all unbelievable pushes, all got huge pops.

However, since Carlito has been turned babyface, he's been a shell of his former self. The WWE has realized this and pulled back on Carlito's meteoric rise to main event status. Well, that's if you consider pairings with Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson punishments. Poor Carlito. Leading up to Wrestlemania, one interviewer got a hold of Carlito, and the caribbean lost his cool.

WWE had been building a program with Carlito and Ric Flair for a short time. This would be the second program between the two, as their first run in came in August of 2005 and had to do with respect. This time, Carlito and Flair's confrontation had to do with passion for the business, and Flair's promo appeared to be a shoot. Everyone saw the writing in the sky, knowing that a Flair/Carlito showdown was destined to take place at the showcase of the immortals, WrestleMania.

The next week, Flair defeated Carlito with an inside cradle, but the two took a different path. With the WWE writers completely overwhelmed with the total awesomeness of tag team fallout angles, they placed Flair and Carlito together, while at the same time doing similar storylines with Cena and Michaels and Rated RKO.

Fans waited for WWE to pull the trigger before Mania. Flair and Carlito were pitted against one another twice in Money in the Bank qualifying matches, the second having a three way that saw Carlito drill Flair with the backcracker, leading to a Randy Orton victory. They were even the last two in the ring during a last chance battle royal, until Edge returned from faking an injury to reclaim his MITB spot.

Wrestlemania arrived, and the WWE had still not definatively driven Carlito and Flair apart. Neither man had a spot on Wrestlemania, and while 16 time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, current Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero, and WWE Tag Team Champions London and Kendrick took the news with a grain of salt, Carlito was not so "cool."

"I'm out of WrestleMania. Apparently, they had to make space for Kane VS. Khali and Melina VS. Ashley."

Now, I am certainly not going to tell you that Khali has more in ring skill than Carlito, nor will I tell you that I would rather see Khali/Kane than Carlito/Flair. What I will say is that Khali, based on size alone is an attraction, similarly to how Flair based on reputation alone is an attraction. Kane is a fantastic worker for a man his size, he has always been unselfish when it comes to politics, he always works hard, and he is more than deserving of a spot at WrestleMania, despite being paired with such a difficult opponent to work with. Carlito, on the other hand, half-assed all year until Wrestlemania rolled around, and now he just expects a spot to be waiting for him. In my opinion, he isn't entitled to shit.

Also, while I may never go on record to say that Kane is a better worker than Carlito, I will say that being a good worker doesn't mean doing flippies and springboards. Big men have a place in wrestling too, and Kane is one of the best of all time.

During this same interview, Carlito was asked what it would take for him to make it to Wrestlemania.

"How can I be at WrestleMania? If I politic and kiss ass, I should make it." Carlito then went on to say, "I'm not going to cry or be bitter, there's always next year. I don't want to get fired. But they're showing disrespect by not having Ric Flair at WrestleMania and even more disrespect by not having Carlito there."

Yes folks, you read right. He used the words EVEN MORE when describing respect in relation to himself over "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. And Carlito still wasn't finished.

"I absolutely hate being a babyface more than anything else."

Company all-stars for the year 2006 that were left off Mania included Gregory Helms and Mickie James, neither of which publicly had any comments about the booking of Wrestlemania. Why? Because they handled themselves with the class you'd expect from a professional. If anyone had any justification to say anything, it would have been Ric Flair, but the "Nature Boy" has always carried himself a cut above the rest.

What could Carlito have remotely hoped to accomplish with his tirade? Did he believe it would get him on to Wrestlemania? What would letting Carlito on the show after his little tantrum tell other roster memebers who worked hard all year and also been left off? That acting like a four year old is how to get things done in the WWE?

As a second generation superstar who was perhaps given too much too soon, Carlito feels that he is entitled to all the things that fans once saw in his future. However, the truth of the matter is, Carlito has to earn his spot.

I think if you watched this year's Hall of Fame inductions and heard Dusty Rhodes talk about passion, giving fans their money, driving around for shitty paydays, and working 1 hr matches 7 nights a week, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Still when WrestleMania rolled around, Carlito was given a dark match, teaming with Flair to face the makeshift team of Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms. Now, while not the four star classic that Wrestlemania IX's dark match of El Matador vs. Papa Shango was (sarcasm folks), it is likely to be recorded as a part of Wrestlemania history, show up on the DVD of the event, and count towards Carlito's overall win/loss record at the PPV, which now stands at 1 and 1.

His local Puerto Rican wrestling community has condemned him for making the jump to the WWE to begin with. Since his father Carlos Colón is a legendary wrestling promoter, many fans and insiders believed that it was only natural for Carlito to take the family business from his father one day. When Carlito chose to go to the WWE, he was not only criticized by the locals, he was also labeled as someone who had "sold out" Puerto Rican wrestling tradition for the "flash and flair" of the WWE. Why am I mentioning this?

Because Carlito had quite the outspoken response to that too. "I didn't care about what they thought. I've always dreamed of working for the WWE when I was young, and I took that chance when it came."

In the week following Wrestlemania, Carlito seemingly contradicts that statement in the May issue of WWE magazine. In an interview, Carlito speaks of being with his father as a child, and how he was never truly all that passionate about pro-wrestling to begin with.

We all would have figured that Carlito's comments were a one way ticket to the WWE doghouse. This past week on Raw, Carlito walked out on Ric Flair after their team had lost a number one contender match to Cade and Murdoch, which seems to be the next peice of the puzzle in the eventually heel turn of Carlito.

It just goes to show, no matter what he may say, things always go down Carlito's way. The question is, is that cool?
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Soup Du Jour

You are driving down a road shaking furiously at what you know was a disgrace. You’ve just witnessed a travesty, a low down dirt shame. You stop at a bar and try to drink away your pain, but this feeling just doesn’t leave your mind. It’s a slow grueling pain like having someone jam a spoon in your abdomen and turning it like they were eating spaghetti. You finish the long arduous journey home, only to stumble out of your car and induce vomiting in hopes to make yourself feel better. Only to toss and turn for the rest of your night and wake up at 5 am to get ready for a horrible day of work.

Sound like a nightmare? Well that was my personal fall out after witnessing the WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania. At first you must know that if I put all personal favoritism aside, I still think I might have projectile vomited at performance turned in by your WWE Champion John Cena.

Personally, when The Champ came to Raw it seemed to be a breath of fresh air. The consistent title reigns of HHH had become stale, Brock Lesnar was looking forward to his fruitful career in Pro-Football, and Goldberg was, well he was old. A new young charismatic face with silky smooth mic skills that rivaled any rapper on No Limit Records and I was drawn right in.

After a 280 day reign, Edge beat Cena. Thinking that we finally could start fresh with a new champ…but no Edge’s 21 day Rated R championship stay was ended by Cena which made me wish that Jesús would have punctured a serious organ or just shot him in the face. So now with a CD, a few music videos, and a full length feature film under the Doctor of Thugonomics’ belt what is there left to do. Well apparently at the top of his list was to piss me off.

But on April fools day up in Bright lights, on Center Stage, in the Main event, Hyped as The Boy Hood Dream vs. All Grown Up: The Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels versus The WWE Champ John Cena. HBK a stellar effort and arguably maybe his best match since dare I say 1996. However the Chain Gang Soldier got worked. He got schooled by a wrestler who is everything his aliases imply. The main event, the show stopper, the icon; but not even all of that would stop the marine. A bum knee, a haggard elbow, a sore back who knows maybe it was the pile driver off the ring steps that made Cena forget how bad he was beaten. Or maybe Good old J.R. threw this seaman a can of spinach. The world may never know. Nevertheless, “The Champ is STILL Here” and needs to be dealt with.

News Flash: it doesn’t matter how many kids cheer you or young women want to sex you up. Mr. Cena, you’re just not one of the special ingredients in the soup of the day.
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Raw is Pena

If you are looking for opinions on last night's WWE Raw which emenated live from Bridgeport, Connecticut, (thumbs up, yeah!), you will mostly find complaints and misgivings. Not here, not today.

Last night's Raw stood out in my mind because of a tremendous commitment to one special young man, Mr. Michael Pena. Pena lived out the dream of millions of professional wrestling fans when he was able to serve as Raw General Manager for a Day. Pena's wish was granted through the Make a Wish Foundation.

Now, a brief on camera appearance with an inappropriately dressed Maria would have been more than enough for the WWE to say they fufilled their commitments, but WWE went the extra mile in allowing Pena airtime with Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Edge, and Randy Orton to announce the four way main event at the upcoming Backlash Pay Per View.

Michael made these comment courtesy of WWE.com: “It’s bigger than I thought,” said Michael. “Today I’ve gotten to meet almost all the Superstars. It was very cool hanging out with Mick Foley.”

Michael showed no hesitation and no nerves when presented with the duty of making the announcement in front of a sold out arena and the millions of fans at home.

Michael added: “It was very fun and at the same time scary, because you never know what the reaction of the crowd is going to be,” said Michael, who received a great reaction from the audience. “It was exciting.”

Kudos to the WWE for really doing something special with this opportunity. It is truly a moment that I will remember for a long time.

Elsewhere on Raw, we witnessed the continuing emergence of one Mr. Bobby Lashley. With hair stipulations abounding, one has to wonder when his moniker will be changed to Bobby "The Barber" Lashley. At least it would further remove him from Lesnar and Goldberg comparisons, which WWE Magazine even makes in it's latest issue.

I read an article this morning where one fan feels that Lashley's Raw presence is a big FU (and I am not talking about John Cena's finisher to logical storytelling and to the fans. It is written that this is because Lashley is an "ECW" superstar.

To this I say, who the hell cares? Shane and Lashley put on an entertaining match, and while it ended with the typical beatdown a face normally receives, it does lead to a lot of intrigue as to how Bobby Lashley will be able to get revenge in the face of what seems like insurmountable odds. If any wrestling fan is a big enough fan to be blogging about the business, he or she should realize that when Vince and Shane are part of a storyline, that story takes presidence. Expect to see a lot more of Lashley on Raw as well as ECW. Only time will tell if he ends up overexposed, as questioned in Brady Hicks' The Wrestler article.

There is also written concern about the fact that ECW wrestlers seemingly have nothing to shoot for in the wake of the Backlash title announcement. The writers have done a pretty good job of tying up the most prominent would be contenders in a ECW Originals vs. New Breed feud, that frankly, writes itself. The most well groomed ECW title challenger at the moment is Gene Snitsky, and you can't tell me that a Snitsky/Lashley showdown at this time is a better story than what WWE is doing. The only real intrigue there currently is that they are the White and Black versions of one another with their black tights and bald heads.

I am not sure how any wrestling writer missed the memo that WWE pay-per-views would be tri-branded from now on. If you plan on being a wrestling journalist, you probably owe it to your fans to check on a WWE conference call report once in a while. This came straight from Linda McMahon's mouth weeks ago.

In one of my from the vault articles, there is an article I wrote that is almost a year old about Tag Team wrestling. It seems now that the WWE is showing some inkling of respect for the division as there was not one but two tag matches on raw that featured something more than makeshift tag teams. This is a week removed from not one but two ten team battle royals to determine the Tag Team Champions.

WWE is playing there cards right, setting up tension between Flair and Carlito for their inevitable feud. I am happy to see them building up some true anticipation for the match, rather than pulling the trigger immediately, as they have done over the past few years with many storylines. If done correctly, a Flair/Carlito feud could run for a long time. Flair has some issues with Kenny Dykstra that are seemingly unresolved. What if Carlito recruited Dykstra and two other young men (possibly WGTT or Cade and Murdoch) to form a heel faction that is representative of "New Era" Horsemen. After fans who don't know are educated by the release of this new Horsemen DVD, it would be interesting to see Flair have to tangle with a group that is as devious as he once was. Would he play dirtier than the youngsters? Would he repent for his old ways? It could make for some interesting TV.

Back to tag teams, how about Shelton Benjamin's performance in the match against the Hardys. Coming out on the losing end isn't so bad, when you get noticed. I think that people backstage had to see that fire back in Shelton that they saw two years ago. Great to see Cade and Murdoch get the victory as well, as they are more than deserving of a Tag Team title shot. Often afterthoughts on Raw, they will get the Hardys on Pay Per View.

It was great to see Mickie James and Victoria back involved with women's wrestling on Raw, as these are the top two in-ring divas, hands down. All four women put on a great match, and how great did Mickie and Victoria look in their new gear? Wow!

Rounding out the show, was one of the best matches on Raw in a long time. Michaels and Orton really put on a show. This is the type of wrestling you hope to see when you turn your TV's to USA on Monday nights. I know a lot of places are shitting all over every little idiosyncracy from last night's raw, but for me, I thought the show was certainly a step in the right direction.
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Friday, April 06, 2007

I Like TNA

There, I said it, not that I was holding it in.

Every Thursday night, I park myself in front of the television (sometimes at differing times) to watch my favorite hour and only hour of wrestling programming each week. Go on, ridicule me. Mock mercilessly. I'll take it gladly. Because while Impact may not boast "Total Nonstop Action" (despite its name), this is the best wrestling on TV. You will mock me and say WWE puts on a better show but I shall strike you down like the inglorious bastards you are.

TNA is more Extreme than ECW (a brand that is a disgrace to the original name) and implements better storylines into four hours of monthly programming than the entire WWE does in 20. TNA does all that and puts on a better monthly pay-per-view than WWE does. A McMahon vs. Trump feud? This is what Vince feeds his followers? I'll take a Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle feud any day of the week. I'll even add an extra day to the week, just so I can take it again.

By the way, I'm Chris and I'm one of the new writers here. As you may or may not be able to tell, I am slightly slanted towards TNA. This slant mostly came after a couple years of, outside of Wrestlemania, being away from wrestling all together. News hit me that Sting was about to get a push to win the NWA World Title and I sat down to watch the drama unfold. Yes, I am a big Sting fan and you can hold him directly responsible for my renewed interest in Sports Entertainment. Regardless, I started watching TNA religiously at its ever changing date and time. What caught my eye though was the quality of the matches, and I'm not talking Sting's matches here either (I'm such a mark for him that I would watch him wrestle a ham sandwich and would find it entertaining as long as he put said sandwich in the Scorpion Deathlock). No, instead I was introduced to the likes of AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin and Samoa Joe not to mention a host of other X-Division stars. These guys were doing things that I hadn't seen, well some of it since never.

Not only that but TNA had a host of big names stars in addition to Sting, including Christian Cage, Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner, The Dudleys (under the guise of Team 3-D), The New Age Outlaws (in the guise of the James Gang, since changed to the ridiculous Voodoo Kin Mafia) and Raven (once again being grossly under-used). This was like a dream fed for me, some of the best from WCW and the Attitude Era WWE, the only thing that was missing was Chris Jericho and I would cream my pants.

But enough about the roster because this is about wrestling and TNA did it better than anything I had seen coming out of WWE. It seems sometime around the end of the Monday Night War Vince forgot that one of the W's in WWE was for wrestling. TNA doesn't even have a W and I was getting more wrestling and better quality out those matches than what Vince was producing up the coast.

Let's not even start on the PPV quality. On second thought let's. What TNA really excels at is their PPVs. Given three hours uninterrupted to play with, they make a real wrestling fan like me smile. Sometimes it even brings a tear to my eyes. I watched Genesis on November 13, 2006 and while it didn't quite live up to the two previous TNA PPVs I had watched (No Surrender and Bound for Glory), when compared, head to head, with WWE's November 26, 2006 Survivor Series TNA takes the cake. Nothing on the WWE card compared to Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle. I know, I was there in the Wachovia Center struggling to stay awake with the rest of the crowd. I myself am more pumped up for TNA's Lockdown PPV, taking place in a little over a week, than I was for last Sunday's Wrestlemania. The more I think about Wrestlemania, the more I am disappointed.

Sure TNA needs improvement but some of the fun is seeing what sticks and what doesn't with them. I mean really Elevation X was a complete joke but something the WWE would most likely not even attempt. At least TNA took a chance, something the WWE seems unwilling to do. Cena, Undertaker, Lashley? WWE these are your champions? Christian Cage has more charisma than those three do in his left finger and is arguably a better wrestler than all three.

As I said improvement is needed, as well as a two hour show, but overall TNA gives more in it's limited time than either RAW, Smackdown or ECW. Oh and before you go on about how ECW has the same amount of time TNA does, please know your role and shut your mouth. ECW has the same amount of time to prepare for, at best, a couple of PPV matches not an entire card, so it's nowhere near the same.

Anyway those are my two cents. I like TNA and I'll obnoxiously tell you about it.
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Daily Dose of Vitamin Steele

BC Steele entered the world of professional wrestling in July of 2001 as a referee under the name Mark Steele. Having done everything from music, to gopher (go for this, go for that), ring crew, etc… Steele has been around the business learning since 1998. Steele stopped reffing (or in some cases, was FIRED) in October of 2003 to pursue a career on the managerial side of things. Thru his career he has worked with the likes of Psychosis, Juventued Gurrera, Chris Hamrick, Matt Hardy, Rhyno, Nova (Simon Dean – WWE), CM Punk, Christopher Daniels, Low Ki (Senshi – TNA), Dan Severn, the late Shinya Hashimoto, and many more. Steele is never at a loss for words and thus shall be proven here in this column.

#1 - "You ain't in the business, what do you know?"

Let me start off by saying "Yes I realize this isn't a daily column I am writing" but Daily Dose just sounds better. Just read the thing everyday. Also, I am not a literary scholar so I apologize for any errors in grammar or word usage. I thank you for reading this although it should be YOU who thanks me. I take my time to take the thoughts in my head and type them out just for you. Be grateful. My opinions are not those of anyone else's but they probably should be. If you are offended, get over it. If you have something constructive to say (good or bad) then e-mail me. If you don't have my email, check my website. Same goes for if you have an idea of a topic for me to write about.

I was thinking of what I could write for the debut of DDVS. I could write about myself, which I know quite a bit about. It's also my favorite subject. I am great, hell just ask me. I am honest. I am intelligent. I am modest. Ok ok, this column isn't meant to put myself over. It is meant to hopefully entertain and possibly even drum up some intelligent conversation. That is something that can be a rarity among wrestling fans.

For my first go round with this I'm going to talk about a stigma that has bothered me before I got in the business. It bothers me being in it. It will probably bother me till my dying days. I will offer the point and counterpoint. Then, let the intelligent debate begin. There is an opinion of some that people who are not in the business know nothing about it. They feel that not being in the business gives you no right to speak on it.

I agree with this to an extent. There are some people that believe they know what is best for the business. Look no further than the internet. Some of the people that see the fans as "know nothing marks" are people that have an old school mentality. I agree that being in the business definitely changes your views on it and I think some people who insist they know what is best have no clue what is going on. I sometimes see on message boards and things of the like, fans discussing what is best for the promotion, as if they had some financial backing in the company. Or there is my other pet peeve of ripping apart a guy just because he isn't their favorite style of worker. "This guy should go over." "This guy is terrible." "What I wanted to happen, didn't happen and it sucks." What ever happened to simply enjoying a show? Cheer the good guys, boo the bad ones, and just have fun. Why must everything be gone thru with a fine tooth comb? I know of wrestlers who have quit promotions or wrestling all together because of something some smartass fans thought. Let's put aside for a second the fact of fans trying to get over on a message board or worse, on a show. I'll save that for another column. I can understand not enjoying a particular part of a show or wrestler. Fact of the matter is, criticism is one thing. Thinking you are some wrestling genius is another. If you truly feel you can do it better (be it from a wrestling or booking standpoint) then do it you prick.

Now, to flip the coin and offer the other side, which I also understand. I am not a chef. I will probably never cook roasted duck. But if I order it, and it tastes like crap, I do not expect the chef to tell me "You're not a chef. You aren't in the food industry so you don't know what you are talking about." Most people can tell what they like and don't like. It's just a matter of being respectful of how you handle it. I don't like the food. I can politely let someone know. Or I can spit on it and ask the chef why I got served roasted turds. Another argument for this side is the ECW fans. A lot of those fans were creative in their signs, dress, ideas, etc… Stevie Richards even mentions it on the "Rise and Fall of ECW" DVD. So fans CAN be helpful.

Another point is that some people that ARE in the business just don't have a clue. I have worked a show or two with people that are beyond noticeably terrible. Some names, which I shall not include here, think they are the next Thesz or Flair. When in actuality, they are hardly trained, IF at all. People like that support the "if THAT guy is a wrestler, I can be" argument. Not saying I am the best worker ever (if you've seen me wrestle, you can attest I am NOT) or because I am in the business I am better.

Maybe in this day in age (yeah listen to me, the grizzled vet that I am) the fans, marks, smart marks, WHATEVER you want to call them ripping things apart is accepted. Maybe I am just too touchy on things like that. Fact of the matter is, if you have an opinion, that's great. Give it respectfully. Don't bitch and moan and complain and do nothing about it. Speak up. But don't be a dick. If you are a dick, don't be surprised to be called out or, to quote a famous unnamed poet, "don't be surprised if you get punched in your cocksucker". To workers and those in charge I say listen to the fans but also understand what they are saying. Don't think that all of the fans out there are just there to rip everything apart. Understand not EVERY fan thinks they can do it better.

With all of that said, I'd like to change my line from earlier. If you have something to say, I don't care, you aren't a columnist so you can't do it better. Kidding…. No really. Send opinions my way. I now end with a link for the masses. It may be a youtube video. It might be randomness. It may be something useful to your daily life. Today it is a Magnum TA promo athttp://youtube.com/watch?v=nvalrcu1eYU

This has been your Daily Dose (yeah I KNOW) of Vitamin Steele. More on This Story...

I like the new ECW

There, I said it.

Every Tuesday night, I park myself in front of the television to watch my favorite hour of WWE programming each week.

Yes, I realize this is not the same ECW that brought us crucifixion angles, historic title belts being thrown down and naked ladies dancing atop arenas.

I get more action in this one hour of wrestling than from a company that boasts "Total Nonstop Action" in its name. I typically see one or two matches that go ten minutes or longer. I get a nice blend of high flying, hardcore and mat-based wrestling.

I'm witnessing the birth of a future world champion. No, I'm not talking about C.M. Punk (who I'll discuss later) but Elijah Burke, leader of the New Breed. Elijah has it all, the look, the mic skills, the in-ring ability. I see no reason why he won't hold a world championship within the next three to five years.

For years, people have complained that Vince changes talent who already have good gimmicks on the independent circuit. Enter C.M. Punk. I loved the original backstage promos. Here is a man who would describe his lifestyle so intensely, then his music would fire up as he burned a hole in the camera lens with his glare. I thought his character would lend itself more to a feud with say...the Sandman, but I like that they are pushing a wrestler based on his wrestling ability. What's even more amazing is how the crowds have taken to him. How about Survivor Series when "C.M. Punk" chants erupted in the arena, overshadowing a ring that contained Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Edge and Randy Orton.

And finally, I'll discuss the current ECW World Champion, Bobby Lashley. Lashley is an interesting choice to lead the new ECW brand, but I have to say I've enjoyed watching him grow into the role. Lashley is proof that the smiley babyface can still get over, even in 2007. I hope to watch his ring work improve to that of his predecessor, Brock Lesnar. For Lashley to grow in that fashion, he needs to be in the ring with some ring generals on the level of Angle or Taker, much like Lesnar was given during his title run. With the right opponents and angles, Lashley is a megastar waiting in the wings.

There are many other great things about this brand, the vastly underrated Matt Striker, Monty Brown in a WWE ring (where he belongs) and even Extreme Expose (for bathroom breaks).

I like the new ECW and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
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Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

Welcome to my first column for PWP. I hope you liked the Family Guy reference in the title, expect to see more of those. I am going to apologize in advance now, as my writing skills are comparable to the workrate of Sid Vicious…

A little background on myself: I've spent the past 7 years as an independent wrestler in the West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio areas. Like most guys in the business, I am a wrestling fan myself. That's what gave me the desire to become a wrestler. As lame as this sounds, it was an episode of WCW Monday Nitro where Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger were all cutting a promo about the Upcoming War games that got me hooked. Looking back on it, I guess it was seeing the big stars that first drew my attention to wrestling. I slowly started getting into it by watching Nitro, Saturday Night, and even the weekend's syndicated shows that featured the best curtain jerkers and enhancement talents around. I slowly started getting into the WWF(E) and attended my first house show. I wouldn't order PPVs, but instead watch the static on the screen and listen to the play by play. Then I actually started getting PPVs. I discovered ECW on syndication. I started buying PWI magazines. I got every wrestling video game that Sega Genesis had to offer. I made a wrestling ring out of a cardboard box, pencils, and rubber bands for my action figures until I got actual wrestling figures. I became such a hardcore wrestling fan out of no where in a matter of months.

During this time, I joined my middle school wrestling team because in my mind it would be the closest I'd ever come to becoming a real professional wrestler. I was saddened my first day of practice to see hard mats on the floor instead of a big ring with colorful ropes and turnbuckle pads. I stuck with wrestling throughout high school, and made friends with a man that would later become my Tag Team partner on the indies. We were both on the wrestling team together and when school was over we would rush to the locker rooms, get changed, go in the wrestling room and have pro wrestling matches on those hard, hard mats for nearly 15-20 minutes (with the rest of the team cheering us on and joining in on the fun) before the coaches showed up. I didn't wrestle my senior year, as working a job after school became more of a priority. At that point, I had a good run and I came as close as I thought I was going to of fulfilling my dream. My friend (those who know the least bit about me knows who this person is, but for inconspicuous readers of this column, we'll keep his name disclosed) introduced me to a man who had a ring, was starting his own promotion, and was training anyone who was interested. This was a dream come true for me.

Fast forward to seven years later, and I've wrestled over 300 professional matches, won numerous Singles and Tag Team Titles, wrestled for several different NWA Affiliates, have shared locker rooms and listened to stories from some of wrestling's biggest stars, and have made some of the best friends along the way that anyone could ever ask for. But enough about me, we're here to write a wrestling column.

Now, while I'm not so much the hardcore wrestling fan that I was as a teenager, I still consider myself to be a fan of the sport. You pretty much have to be if you're in the business. Now that I have experience and know the inner workings of a lot of things that go on, watching the stuff that gets put on TV nowadays just makes me lower my head in shame. I think one of my biggest pet peeves is the amount of time that is spent on a wrestling program with no wrestling going on. I'm all for developing characters and all, but there is no need to have your promo go 10-15 minutes long.

The other pet peeve I have is a little more complex, and it deals with titles. There are 3 shows on WWE programming. There is 5 hours of WWE TV per week (not including PPVs and Specials.) There is a total of 9 Championships (and 11 Title Holders) between all of that. That's fine and all, but why weren't there 9 Title matches at Wrestlemania? They did a pretty good job of covering most of this up by having Raw's Tag Team Champions fighting for Raw's Heavyweight Title (notice how they lost the tag belts the very next night on Raw) and having the Intercontinental Champion facing the ECW Champion in a match where shaving someone's head was more important than giving either title credibility with a defense on the "grandest stage of them all." Other Championships (and Champions for that matter) were not so lucky, as The Smackdown Tag team and Cruiserweight Titles weren't even lucky enough to get a pre-PPV match that would show up on the DVD of the event.

My beef isn't so much that there are 9 titles. If you look at it, it seems pretty reasonable in a sense if you think of Raw, Smackdown, and ECW as territories. Raw has a Heavyweight Title, Tag Team Titles, the Intercontinental Title as a midcard singles title, and a Women's Championship. Smackdown is pretty even in comparison with the US Title as their secondary and a Championship for their Crusierweight competitors. ECW seems to be lacking with only a Heavyweight Title. In a way, this is for the best as they only have an hour of TV and a roster half the size of Raw or Smackdown. They don't have any Tag Teams, so what's the sense in having Tag Team Titles? They could bring back the TV Title (or even the old WWE Hardcore Title) but that would just be another title to ignore when it comes time for PPVs.

But if we are comparing the WWE to territories, then there is something pretty big that is missing from the picture. Each territory has their own Heavyweight Champion, but there is no Champion over all of the territories. The sad thing is that they did have this concept before and it was called the Undisputed Champion, but it was abandoned so Triple H could have a World Title of his own. Now do I think that Triple H should be the undisputed Champion over John Cena, The Undertaker, and Bobby Lashley? No. Do I think that Cena, Undertaker, and Lashley should compete in a Title unification? It would be a step in the right direction, but still no. My idea is rather ingenious, and it would truly decide an Undisputed Champion.

The problem with the crowning of an undisputed Champion before, is that it took the top 4 main eventers (2 of which were the WWE and WCW Champions) and put them in a tournament. While my idea does involve a tournament, you can't determine that you're the best of the best by winning a 4 man tournament. Maybe something along the lines of Wrestlemania IV, The Deadly Games Tournament, or even WCW's 32 Man Tournament? Not quite, but you're getting there. By counting how many wrestlers are on the active roster for Raw, Smackdown, and ECW, there is roughly 70 workers. Start out with a 64 man tournament, meaning that you have to win 3 matches to make it to the elite 8. The matches would take place during the 5 hours of TV per week and would take care of your booking for the next month or so and can make for some unique match-ups. Hopefully something like that can create enough interest to increase the ratings. From there once you have the elite 8, we hold something that has not been done in the US (to my knowledge) in a very, very, long time… the dreaded Round Robin Tournament. There is TV for another month, folks. Yes, you'll be giving away PPV quality matches with your top guys on free TV, but if you're doing that already as an attempt to boost ratings and it isn't working, then why not try something new? Have the finals of this take place at a PPV, and here is the most important part of the whole scheme… NO DUSTY FINISHES!!!!!! The best man out of 64 other wrestlers shouldn't be determined because someone distracted the referee or had outside interference. The best should be determined, heel or face, by clean finishes.

Give crash TV a rest, and let's get back to the wrestling. Let's give everyone an opportunity for some TV time, and most importantly make your top belt mean something. Already it would mean something if there was one top belt instead of 3. Will it ever happen? I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning as the news reporter calls my winning lottery numbers, but maybe if we all have enough faith in the great writers and bookers *rolls eyes* then maybe, just maybe, the wrestling world could be a better place.
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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lashley Backlash? Will His Biggest Win Become His Biggest Regret?

Reposted from Volume 13 of The Wrestler.

By Brady Hicks

It seemed like the crowning achievement of a very young career. Newest ECW star Bobby Lashley—in his first title match since joining the brand—speared ECW champion The Big Show and made the pin. The fans in attendance at the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Georgia, came alive, realizing they had witnessed history. And Lashley, with a smile on his face and a new title belt, looked as if he had just conquered the world.

He finally won a big one: the ECW heavyweight title. And Lashley hadn’t just defeated The Big Show, he had also outlasted four other stars—including Hardcore Holly, C.M. Punk, Test, and Rob Van Dam—in the “Extreme Elimination Chamber” at December to Dismember. To nearly everyone in attendance, it seemed that Lashley had made the right decision leaving Smackdown, where he had been running in place for about a year, never really making a good name for himself, and always coming up short in the few World title opportunities that had been given to him.

“I’ve talked with him about this before. It’s a disagreement we’ve shared for a long time,” said Chris Benoit, who mentored Lashley during his time on Smackdown. “In Lashley, I see youth and determination and a whole lot of strength. But I also see over-anxiousness. Bobby Lashley just loves to jump into the deep end for everything he gets involved in. It’s just his personality. He thinks his time is now and thinks he is invulnerable to all of the shortfalls that have derailed all of those young guns before him. Even though Bobby won the ECW championship right out of the gate, I think it may be too much, too soon for him.”

Many insiders agree with Benoit. They say Lashley is far from fully developed as a wrestler. His inexperience didn’t prevent him from beating some mid-card talent or even lucking his way into a title belt or two by catching opponents by surprise. There is also fear he will start to believe his own hype. “I’ve seen it many times, where a young wrestler develops some sort of a ‘false reality’ as to how good he really is,” said Matt Hardy, another of Lashley’s backstage friends on Smackdown. “I worry for him that by achieving the successes that he has this early in his career, that it could actually harm him in the long run.”

In other sports, they call it “peaking too early.” In wrestling, it has spelled many a long, frustrating period for those who achieved too much, too soon in their careers. For every Tom Brady to step off the bench late in the season and unexpectedly help his team win the Super Bowl, there is a story of an athlete who sets a goal for himself, achieves it early in his career, and founders from that point forward. And many of Lashley’s peers feel his early success in ECW could also potentially signal the end of his effectiveness.

By beating an injured Big Show so easily, Lashley may assume that titles, fame, and marketability are all within his reach. He may assume that these successes are just the beginning for what is to be a long and prolific career.

Lashley’s inexperience continued to be a factor until he switched from Smackdown to ECW. During the King of the Ring tournament, that inexperience caused him to lose his temper against Booker T, who went on to win the crown and cape. It caused him to lose the U.S. title to a physically inferior but more experienced Finlay. And—most recently—it cost him at No Mercy when he seemed more consumed with showing up Batista than actually winning the Smackdown World championship.

Fortunately, there is no solid evidence that Lashley will become the latest victim of his own success. He enjoyed a considerable amount of success before becoming a pro wrestler. When Lashley attended Missouri Valley College, he was able to win national wrestling championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998 after placing fourth in the U.S. during his first try in 1995. Throughout 1997 and 1998, Lashley was the NAIA National Wrestling champion and later became a champion in the U.S. Army.

Even after entering pro wrestling, Lashley pinned former Smackdown World champion John Bradshaw Layfield to win the U.S. title only eight months into his run on Smackdown. Lashley has shown an ability to cope with success in the past, but he has never experienced such high-profile success as his ECW title victory. Will it be too much for the young man?

“One thing’s for sure: You have to admire the kid’s guts,” said Tommy Dreamer. “He set a goal for himself, and he went out and achieved it. And he was able to do so very quickly, too. That doesn’t mean that he’s finished developing as a wrestler. It just means that he was fortunate enough to bring home a title belt in spite of all that he still has to learn.”

Unfortunately for the ECW champion, enjoying success before gaining experience can be a dangerous thing. But, if anyone is up to the task, it just may be Lashley.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

From the Vault: Dirk Ciglar Should Be in the Fed?

7/16/02: (The following is one of the first opinion articles I wrote on professional wrestling. It is from 2002 and talks a popular local independent wrestler whom many thought should be wrestling for the WWE or TNA. At the time, local wrestling promoter Jim Miller was acting president of the National Wrestling Alliance and making appearances on their weekly Pay-Per-Views. His wrestlers were working for little to nothing in a building that sweltered in the summer and froze in the winter. The general point was to illustrate that in life and in wrestling nothing is handed to you. Almost 5 years later, CM Punk (who used to make frequent stops in Pittsburgh) made his WrestleMania debut because of his drive, initiative, and extensive travel. In contrast, Pittsburgh indy fans are still waiting for there first breakout star since Shane Douglas.)

I am a fairly popular guy around these parts. I mean, for the most part, my opinions are well respected, and people seem to genuinely see me as a nice guy. I've had some decent conversations in person with some of you, others of you online. I was given a live journal and am occasionally invited into gimmick chat. For the most part, "The Onslaught" is in.

However, there are times when concerns with making people happy have overshadowed my opinions. Well, this Live Journal entry should shatter that. After reading this, you may not like me as much or value what I have to say as much. I honestly do not care. What is to follow my friends, is a shoot...

All I hear all the time is that Dirk Ciglar should be in the fed. Much the same way I am told that Brock Lesnar is the "Next Big Thing", certain times ideas are shoved down your throat to the point where you either accept them, or resent them.

Well, I refuse to accept the notion that Dirk Ciglar should be in the fed. Why, you ask?

Is it that he isn't talented enough? No

Is it that he doesn't have the look? No

Today, while bored at work, I took a gander at the ECWA site. No, not the fake on with Julio and Hamrick. The real fucking deal East Coast Wrestling Association.

I am peering through the roster, and I am like holy shit. This sounds incredible. Then, the more I think about it, I realize that the only members of the roster I have seen are Crowbar, Christopher Daniels, Simon Diamond, Pete Gas, and Low-Ki.

Then I look at names like Abunai, American Dragon, Scoot Andrews, Red, Cheetah Master, Charlie Haas, Prince Nana, and Reckless Youth.

I have never seen one of these guys work ever, but I am told relatively everywhere that these guys are good.

Now, are the writers of PWI, the makers of Promotion Wars, and the writers of Wrestling News Sites attending every damn wrestling show to see first hand that these guys are good? It's doubtful.

I live in Wheeling, West Virginia, one hour away from Pittsburgh, and facts are, I knew who these guys were long before I heard of Jimmy Vegas, Dirk Ciglar, or Brandon K. In many ways that is very sad.

So I wonder, why doesn't Dirk, Brandon, and anyone else who Pittsburgh believes to be fed worthy making headlines in major magazines, on the internet, or even in simple games that wrestling fans are playing? Simple. Lack of good promotion.

I am one who strongly believes that bringing in Nova is not worth the money. It's much more impressive to make your own stars, or find your own indy standouts.

Dirk Ciglar is a very talented individual. Why is he not an indy standout? As much as I have never seen Scoot Andrews, chances are your ECWA fans have not seen Dirk Ciglar. Why haven't they heard about him yet?

What would make Vince McMahon choose Dirk Ciglar over any of the aformentioned ECWA wrestlers.

Pro Wrestling Express has Jimmy Vegas, Dirk Ciglar, Brandon K, Mad Mike, Zubov, The New Freebirds, Paul Atlas, Quinn Magnum and many others who's names should be being talked about and heard in other areas besides McKeesport. I have a cousin in Pittsburgh who is a wrestling fan who has never heard any of these names.

Pro Wrestling Express has a great young up and coming roster consisting of Nikita Allenov, The Premiere Players, Sterling, Devin Devine, and Lance Dayton.

Give me one reason Lance Dayton couldn't be the next AJ Styles.

One big difference between PWX and IWC, is that the wrestlers that Norm actually has that he really cares about, get press. Super Hentai being a good example. If it is believed so strongly that Dirk should be in the fed, why is his name not popping up in the places that Hentai's is?

PWX has an infastructure that seems to feature young vs. young and old vs. old. I think that Lance Dayton should be wrestling Brandon K and getting some much needed experience that could turn him into a standout. Sterling, Justin Idol, Devin Devine need put in there with the guys that can teach them things.

The PWX roster is very heavy right now. Maybe it is time to cut strings with those that haven't shown they have what it takes to be on a PWX show. When you can book a card featuring the young talent PWX has, Atlas, Zubov, Dirk, Brandon, Quinn, Vegas and others, why water down the rest of the card with people that make even the other wrestlers cringe.

Realize every time you are in the back thinking, here comes a shitty match, the fans are thinking that 10 fold. I know a lot of guys were loyal in rough times with PWX, but the roster has gotten so big with APWF, Glenn Spectre, Justin Idol, and Jimmy Vegas all coming in at once.

I wish that if I was a fan in Wheeling, West Virginia, 60 miles from Pittsburgh, I could hear about Axel Law, Nikita, Zubov, Dirk, Brandon, and Vegas in depth the way I hear about the Backseats, Andrews, Abunai, and the American Dragon.

There is no reason right now that PWX shouldn't be beating the shit out of IWC. PWX has an awesome full time roster of PWX guys. They need pushed as if they were names being brought in, marketed as if they were names being brought in. Come see Dirk Ciglar and PWX action.

The loyal fan base of PWX may be good enough for you, but it's not for me. Not anymore. Not when you have a roster like you have now. There is no reason that Looney Lenny, Grimace, Paula Heyman, and that crazy riddlin kid should be the only people who know about these wrestlers.

It is time for PWX to make itself known. For the wrestlers to make themselves known. PWX has all the potential in the world to be what ECWA has become. Yet the only mentions I ever hear are straight results on sites. Dirk Ciglar defeated Crusher Hanson. Not Dirk Ciglar amazed crowds with his aerial skills in a defeat over Crusher Hanson. (I know that sounds kind of lame, but it's trying to make a point). I get mentions of Jim Miller on TNA, and the Hashimoto title win from December 15th.

I think rather than talk about who needs to go to the fed, you should work on who needs to be on TNA. The Jarretts have taken Low-Ki who wrestles occasionally around here. Who is gonna tell Jeff and Jerry about Brandon, Dirk, Jimmy, and the rest???

When it was time to get a tag team, was it Brandon and Dirk or was it York and Matthews? When it was time to get muscle, was it Spellbinder or Vegas?

No offense to Jim, but the wrong man is going down for these TNA tapings. He should at least have a few guys in the car with him.

Should Ciglar be in the fed? Maybe...

Should Ciglar be more than he is right now? Hell yes.

Should PWX be better than what it is right now? Hell yes.

When your talent isn't known within an hour of you, and you are that good, it is a sad state of affairs. Get the word out, or get the f out!
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