Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Free Agent Market

So everyone has their panties in a bunch about the Ayatollah of Rock N' Rollah. Well, with good reason. Inevitably however, Chris Jericho will once again blend into the WWE scenery, and then what do we have to look forward to?

It is my position that no one man is going to "save" the WWE from their current predicament. Obviously just the returns of Shawn Michaels, Ken Kennedy, and Umaga will have a solid impact. The return of Hardcore Holly will have significantly less of an impact. I mean seriously, what hasn't WWE tried to get us to care about this guy over the last 15 years. Pay attention WWE. It's not working…

Recently, one of the world's premier wrestling publications, Pro Wrestling Illustrated unleashed their latest edition of the PWI 500, rating superstars on a criteria that I am sure only Stu Saks and company fully understand.

What does this year's list tell us about professional wrestling's next batch of free agents? As you read this, I want you to keep a few things in mind. Who fits into the WWE umbrella? Who would fit better in TNA? If you ran a promotion that competed with both, who would you use?

First and foremost, the highest ranked non-WWE talent was Mistico. Mistico came in at a very impressive number three. Some fans will recognize the name, as WWE seemed to be targeting the luchadore not too many months ago. Is he the next Rey Mysterio? Only time will tell, but I can bet he will remain on WWE's radar as they look to add more star power in the future.

Would-be NWA Champion Brian Danielson makes a formidable showing at number 17. The American Dragon has already amassed quite a following, not unlike current ECW World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk did before him. Could he turn his indy success into a lucrative WWE run? Many ROH fans hope so. Then again, many ROH fans do not.

I would be interested to know how many WCW fans remember Yuji Nagata and his Nagata-Lock from his brief run in the mid-to-late nineties. Nagata returned to his home country and found an incredible amount of success. Could Nagata be interested in returning to America, and if so, would his success be able to transfer with him? America doesn't have an impressive history of embracing Japanese wrestlers. It might be interesting.

One of the most talked about free agents is former WWE and ECW World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam. RVD messed up when he got caught speeding and weeding a few years ago. From there, it was a downhill slide. Still, RVD has always been able to capture the imagination of the fans based on his in-ring abilities. RVD has recently stated that any decision to return would likely come down to the money and exposure of the WWE vs. the lighter schedule offered by TNA.

One of the most successful Japanese wrestlers in America was Jushin Liger. While Liger is a good bit older than he was when he tore up WCW with "Flyin" Brian Pillman, he is obviously no slouch, as his number 34 ranking illustrates. Liger survived a freakin' brain tumor and he is still a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully before he hangs up the boots, he will take them on one last tour of America.

Right behind Liger is the 7 foot tall 500 pound Big Show. Paul Wight is now most visible on Hogan knows best, but it is likely that any major American promotion would love to have him. Often hated by smarts, I think that the Big Show gets a bad wrap. When he is booked correctly, this guy is a big draw.

To those who don't trade for Puroresu tapes, Hiroshi Tanahashi might be most familiar to American fans as the IWGP champion that never seems to make it past the first stage of G4's Ninja Warrior. I strongly suggest to those who haven't seen Ninja Warrior, that they check the show out. In fact, I could care less about seeing Tanahashi in America, I just wanted to shout out Ninja Warrior. Also, Olivia Munn from G4's Attack of the Show may just be the most attractive television host ever.

What would it take for number 49 Chris Hero to break through the glass ceiling? If WWE wants to send a message that steroids and bodybuilder-physiques are not what makes a superstar, I can't think of a better choice for a new talent than Chris Hero. Hero can put on a great match, and that's what it should be about.

Has number 58 Sabu worn out his welcome in every major American promotion? Neither TNA nor WWE really seems to want to do business with him, but both have. Why? Because Sabu is an attraction. Years ago, people suggested Sabu couldn't even walk. In that time, Sabu has worked his style in every major American promotion. Jim Ross recently stated that Sabu may not have the resume to make it into the WWE Hall of Fame. Regardless, Sabu is something special when booked correctly.

The most recent release is likely to be one of the most controversial free agents. Monty "Marquis Cor Von" Brown may have burnt his bridges in TNA, but I would not be surprised if WWE doesn't come back knocking sooner than later. My understanding is that his release was a mutual decision based on Cor Von's family issues. I think that TNA made a bigger mistake not putting the belt on this guy than they did with Samoa Joe. He deserves to be something.

One of the hottest indy wrestlers out there right now is number 63 Brent Albright. WWE fans may remember his short-lived stint as Gunner Scott on the Smackdown brand. Albright was lacking charisma, but had all the other tools to be a star. In that way he reminded many of the man that he was paired with, Chris Benoit. In time, Albright should have the opportunity to really shine in a major wrestling promotion.

Claudio Castagnoli is other wrestler making quite a name for himself on the indies. There was a long time where that didn't seem to mean much, but with the recent pushes of Joe in TNA and Punk in ECW, it's seeming that a strong indy following may mean more now than it did ten years ago when Christopher Daniels, Michael Modest, Reckless Youth and other can't miss indy prospects couldn't break through.

Don't be confused by number 68, L.A. Park. Park is the original La Parka, no matter who the other guy is using his name. The "chairman" of WCW could likely have success in the WWE as well, as Parka is a bit of a pro-wrestling cult classic. The main problem is, he doesn't have domain over his name. It's still likely with that dance and unorthodox style that he could be a very popular addition to any wrestling roster.

ROH's Briscoe Brothers could be a nice shot in the arm for either of WWE's struggling tag team divisions. Their style may not be cut out for Raw or Smackdown, but the money they would receive would be more than enough to make them change. I think they could be successful in the WWE system, and what's even better is that they are AN ACTUAL Tag Team, rather than two dudes stuck together.

Austin Starr was an exciting part of the TNA X Division, but a rumored bad attitude put a stop to those plans. Well, he's not the first or last pro-wrestler to suffer from that. I think in Vince's hands, this guy would be nothing but dollar signs.

Number 105 Giant Bernard is more recognizable to American fans as WWE's A-Train. Train had a series of great matches with Chris Benoit before leaving the WWE. Not that it's saying too much to have great matches with Benoit. Still, Train was a versatile big man with more of a moveset than most. His look was downright horrible, but also a source of great heat. With Big Show gone, Train could be a great addition if Khali were to leave.

Number 109 is Essa "Mr. Aguila" Rios. Could WWE's Lightheavyweight mainstay return and reignite the division? Most likely not, but the Cruiserweights definetely need something to get excited about. It would be nice to see WWE investing more into this group than they currently are.

Vampiro's last major run in America saw him capture the WSX title. I guess it could be argued if that's a major run or not. One of the most popular stars in the dying days of WCW, could he reignite a feud with Sting in TNA, or be something special in the WWE? I wouldn't mind seeing either.

Since I have recently spoke of attitude problems and reigniting the cruiserweight divisions, it's appropriate that I come to Juventud Guerrera and Sean "X Pac" Waltman. Both of these men have burned their share of bridges, but you can never say never in professional wrestling. I would predict seeing number 144 or 145 in a major American promotion again before the better-behaved number 146 Taka Michinoku.

Teddy Hart, Harry Smith, and TJ Wilson all are in WWE developmental territories working, but their buddy Jack Evans isn't. Evans had some of the more entertaining WSX matches. He would certainly need to learn some psychology before being picked up by a real company (and yes, that is me saying WSX wasn't a real company).

Number 150 is Andrew "Test" Martin. Dude is roided up, and neither WWE nor TNA want him as the government looks further into performance enhancers in pro wrestling. Still, at times, both companies have seemed to look at this guy as a potential major star. It's likely at some point he will get another try.

Number 151 Kaz Hayashi is a poor man's Taka Michinoku, but it would be a mistake to have a chance to mention that he bought Glacier's stuff and not take it. If I had the rights to the Glacier gimmick, I'd sign the dude just for my own personal amusement.

MNM is so dead. Melina is propositioning Hornswaggle and Johnny Nitro is John Morrison. Still, a clean Joey Mercury can be a huge asset to any wrestling company. Can he stay clean though? That's up to him.

It's sad that I went from really digging Doug Basham to really not even giving a damn about looking up whether or not TNA released him. I am pretty sure they did. Too bad. Both he and Damaja have been misused in both the WWE and TNA. Both of them could be World Championship contenders. Hopefully one day they get a chance to shine as individuals.

Aaron "Idol" Stevens was recently released for being too boring. He has a great look though. I don't know if that will do a lot for him in the long run, but perhaps he can find his niche somewhere.

WWE has recently released the Sandman. This confused many, because the dude was undoubtedly over with fans. Sandman appears to want another shot with Vince and company. If I were any major promotion, I would give the guy the chance to be a midcard guy. Jim Duggan still has a job for pretty much the same reasons Sandman should.

Steve Corino is like the super indy guy. With title reigns in the NWA, AWA, and Japan, there is not much left for him to do outside of a major promotion. It's unlikely he will get his chance, and that's a true shame. I think he could be a very interesting piece of any major promotion. I guess it just goes to show tommorow's young workers. Be really careful when you blade. No major promotion wants roast beef forehead.

Fans will have a lot to say about how to get the most usefulness out of Eugene. Recently I read he will be working as Ugene Dinsmore. The comedy gimmick works, and it's likely to be most recognizable to the casual fan. The more hardcore fan will want to see Mr. Wrestling Nick Dinsmore. Either way you package him, he can have some value, but he is another who has to stay clean.

Cryme Tyme's Shad Gaspard and JTG were recently released for their actions on a house show right at the height of their popularity. Without doubt, they still have a great deal of value. Will they make a quick return to the WWE like the Boogeyman, or find greener pastures elsewhere?

Is there any appeal left for Spike "Brother Runt" Dudley? Is he worth anything without his brothers in the same promotion? I don't know if he'll have another major run, but stranger things have happened. What you ask? Well, there was the Gobbledygooker.

Danny Doring just strikes me as that dude that could never catch a break. I thought the new ECW would really give Doring a chance to shine. Instead, he caught a fairly quick release. It would be nice to see him capture a bit more success on a larger stage.

I dunno if Ultimo Dragon will ever work in the US again, but man did WWE ever misuse him. Ultimo was freaking amazing in WCW. I would have liked to see the WWE cruiserweight division built around him at least for a time. Vince just wanted him to be another Mysterio. I prefer him being Ultimo Dragon.

Do I prefer Michael Shane to Matt Bentley? Actually yes. Too bad those damn Gymini dudes had to put the kabash on that. Still, Bentley is reminiscent of a young Shawn Michaels. Is that too much pressure to put on the guy? That's up to him. I would like to see WWE sign him up and quick.

If anyone is not familiar with number 219, the Human Tornado, get familiar. I first came across his video on Myspace about two or three years ago. His gimmick is gold and his style is even better. He doesn't have the traditional look of a superstar, but isn't now the time to let a guy like him shine?

I alluded to the Gymini just a minute ago. Whether they are Jake and Jesse or the Shane Twins or even the dicks, they are two big dudes that can work a pretty exciting match when the spirit moves them. They are way more intriguing than the Harris Twins. I am not sure their reasons for parting with TNA or WWE, but I do know that I am just cool with pretty much any tag team being added to the WWE roster right now.

Speaking of tag teams, apparantely The Naturals screwed up by announcing their WWE tryout on their Myspace. Granted, their look is pretty similar to the Major Brothers, but I actually dig Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas. WWE, pay attention. You need tag teams.

Remember when WWE wanted us to believe we cared about Kurt Angle vs. Sylvester Terkay. Well, TNA, you can try to make us care too. Terkay was the most overhyped dude in recent memory, but I never really personally got a chance to see what he could do. Perhaps he could be an asset. Perhaps TNA could book the Angle/Terkay showdown.

Back to tag teams. Hmm, I am smelling a theme in who is being released right now. What about La Resistance. Ok, I am not throwing Conway in, because he never should have been there anyways. Dupree and Grenier though? Give them a freaking job. They are an established team. God forbid we have any of those.

And that brings me to number 275, Rob Conway. All I heard about Conway before he got to the WWE was how good he was. Then he gets thrown into La Resistance, and then he gets his conman gimmick with that ridiculous gay stripper look and stupid Randy Newman music. I still think Conway should be a star, and it is nuts to me that he just isn't under contract anywhere.

WWE in their infinite wisdom decided to put a dress on Vito. He was far removed from the tough bastard with the stickball bat that I liked so much in WCW. Either way, he has gotten whatever he was asked to do over. I like a guy with that sort of ability. I like Big Vito.

Orlando Jordan might have had all the personality of a rice cake, but he had a great look. When he initially came out as a babyface, I actually found myself rooting for him. It seemed he had some potential before Bobby Lashley came and just stole the spotlight entirely. I would give him a chance in an atmosphere where he didn't have that type of competition.

Another dude I like. CW Anderson. This guy never got the chance to really do anything in the new ECW, but his Extreme Horsemen group with Corino has a lot of entertainment potential. I like watching the guy work too.

All the way back at 298 is Too Cold Scorpio. This guy got resigned after having great matches and looking in the best shape of his life. Then he got released before he could really do anything. I think the 450 splash will always be an attraction, and this guy was the first I ever saw do it, and his was prettier than Juventud's.

Speaking of Juventud, his former Mexicool partner Psicosis comes in at 302. I am not sure the status of the guy's legal problems, but he can be an asset to an X, Cruiserweight, or Tag division if his head's on straight.

One guy that I felt never reached his potential in the WWE is Justin Credible. His TNA runs are largely unimpressive also. I am not sure why. ECW made me care a lot about this guy. Could anyone get him back to that role of being a true impact player?

Dan Rodman was Stephanie McMahon's pet project. He had undeniable charisma during the Tough Enough competition. Can he work? I have no idea. It was said that he was going to join Rated-RKO last year at this time. He might have an upside. Who knows?

As tired as I am of the whole Scotty 2 Hotty thing, it stayed over for ten years in the WWE. Fans for whatever reason still wanted to see the worm. Scott Taylor is a good worker with a good attitude, and I am happy he was able to have such a long healthy WWE run. Does he deserve another?

Other notable wrestlers making the list are "The Donald" Ace Steel, "Mr. 630" Jerrelle Clark, The Heartthrobs, Joey Mercury's former partner Christian York, The Stro, Pierre-Carl Ouellet, and "One Legged Wonder" Zach Gowen. All of these guys could possibily have some value.

Not included are perennial Indy main eventers like Chris Hamrick, Buff Bagwell, Lex Luger, Sid, and New Jack.

So rather than tell you what to think, I am going to let you decide. Are there guys I am looking over? Where is the best place for some of these guys to end up? Who deserves to have a big contract somewhere?

And the big question: If you had an unlimited cash flow, and you could make a 30 person roster based on these free agents, who would you use to compete with WWE and TNA?

You can have your feedback here next week, just like John Reid. Last week Reid wrote in about WWE's Wellness Policy, and how their emphasis on muscular builds has affected his viewing habits.
Vince knows that with many of the suspensions already taking place and fans still turning in droves to watch, their thought is "If it isn't broke don't fix it?" Perhaps it will take the death of some of the more "muscular" grapplers to make the WWE realize that this is not the way to go, as sad as it is to say. Maybe they look at Guerrero's and Benoit's deaths as isolated incidents and not their responsibility as a whole. Making sure there are less blows to the head will help, but I'm just not confident that Vince will change what he feels has worked all these years.
What's even more amazing about all of this is if you go back to the height of sports entertainment (the Attitude Era) many of the top stars were pushed on not only on their mic skills but the ability to carry a match. These days you can count on one hand the number of stars in the WWE who can do both convincingly.
I no longer support the E and only view TNA (which has issues of their own, I know) and ROH because they don't have to rely on roided up freaks to put in main event pushes.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

411wrestling's Fact or Fiction featuring PWP Founder Tim Haught

Welcome back to another week of 411 Fact or Fiction: Wrestling Edition! This week, two 411 NEWBIES go head to head as TG Corke and Tim Haught enter the 411 arena to do battle!

Let's get to it!

1. Batista winning the world title was a needed move.

TG Corke: FACT. With further elaboration necessary. In my opinion, Batista shouldn't have been in the main-event for Smackdown! for four billion consecutive pay-per-views. He looked like a choker time and time again, and it was getting to the stage where they could no longer justify him winning title shot after title shot against countless opponents. They swerved us with the idea of Rey vs. Khali one-on-one, which actually made me want Batista there. The reason this is Fact is because, though I wouldn't have booked Big Dave in all these matches, the fact is that he WAS booked in the match, and the way they booked him previously did require that he win this Sunday. He is no longer ‘Little Hennig' - he is a three-time World Heavyweight Champion. And, dick or not, he probably deserves it.

Tim Haught: FICTION. Was it a need move for Batista? Sure. Was it a needed move for the Smackdown brand? No f'n way. Even if the point is to transition the belt to a returning Edge, I would have rather seen Mysterio capture it, as at least he has a bit of momentum from his return. The David vs. Goliath showdown was actually more intriguing to me than the triple threat match, but I understand why they threw Leviathan in the mix. Now there isn't one in the lot of them that has any momentum on the Smackdown brand. In fact, the only guy that does is the Undertaker. I would rather have seen Taker unseat Khali and then start a long program with the returning Rated R Superstar.

Score: 0 for 1

2. TNA has done the right thing by announcing the Bound for Glory Card so early.

TG Corke : FICTION. I don't know that this is a definite Fiction. I do like that it's very different from the past few months, especially in the run-up to Slammiversary and Victory Road, where we didn't know what the final card would be FOR THE MAIN-EVENT until the last set of tapings. It's a nice change of pace. That said, this might not be the best way to start storylines. I don't know about you, but my traditional way of thinking is "Guy dislikes guy/is jealous of him >> Guys feud >> Match announced". Not "Match announced >> Do something till it happens". For that reason, I'm a little apprehensive about the possible build for this, though I'm still looking forward to the matches themselves. Except…what's with yet another reverse battle royal?

Tim Haught : FACT. I hate to be so argumentative, but seriously... TNA runs a PPV every month. We are either given something that feels like it has had no time to develop or something that we've already seen numerous times. In TNA, it appears as though guys create feuds just to have spots on the PPV. What are people even feuding over? This is how you can get bookers involved in wrestling without breaking kayfabe. The matchmakers have scheduled you together to determine who is the better man. One of you will climb the rankings, and the other will not. The tension and apprehension for the upcoming showdown has a month to build. Will it turn personal? Perhaps. This gives fans a basis for determining whether or not to purchase their pay per view far in advance. This also helps fans determine if which pay per view they will choose if they don't have the cash to throw down for both TNA and WWE. Smart fans read the spoilers and know the card in advance anyways. Why not let everyone in on what's going on?

Score: 0 for 2

3. By offering up a second straight DQ finish in a title match on PPV, WWE is sending the message to fans that they shouldn't care about the matches.

TG Corke : FICTION. WWE sent the message that we shouldn't care about those particular two matches. Look, I'm just as disappointed and enraged as a lot of you are, but think about it. Cena and Orton went to a DQ, Cena and daddy beat the shit out of Orton, and immediately afterwards a Last Man Standing match was booked for No Mercy. Argue all you want (and you should) about how ripped-off you were by a DQ in a highly-anticipated WWE Championship match, but to say WWE don't care about the matches AS A WHOLE when they've used one match to book a potentially much bigger match…that's a bit absurd. They probably should have had Orton/Cena on Raw the week after Randy booted Johnny Fabulous in the cranium, have the DQ there and lead to the Last Man Standing at Unforgiven (or not even HAVE a WWE title match at Unforgiven, build to No Mercy and allow Smackdown to take centre-stage in September). But, either way, they do care and it's heading towards something fun.

Tim Haught : FICTION. The DQ finish is building to something greater than the Unforgiven showdown between Orton and Cena. As I said earlier, if WWE plans on taking their top draw and having a no-finish, they should at least give fans something else worthwhile on the show. I'm sure they thought they were going to with the Batista title win and the Undertaker return. Booking wise, this makes about as much sense as possible. Orton kicked Daddy Cena's head clean off. Cena never got his revenge in a very personal feud. What are they going to do? Have Orton just beat him for the title? That would be pointless. Marks were waiting for Orton to get his, and they still are. Smarts are waiting for Orton to take the title from Cena. This Last Man Standing Match has something for everyone. I like that WWE is thinking long term, rather than booking for the short-term reward. This feud still has legs, and they should get all the money out of it that they can. If anything, the DQ finish should make fans care about the matches more. It's not about high spots and chair shots, it's about telling a story. When it's all said and done, Orton and Cena will have given you something you will remember.

Score: 1 for 3


4. Kurt Angle vs. Sting is the biggest match TNA can offer for Bound for Glory.

Tim Haught : FACT. Without looking outside of their current roster, Angle/Sting is the biggest thing TNA can offer at the moment. It's sad that despite these men's individual accomplishments, this has no big match feel whatsoever. It is simply another TNA main event at another TNA pay per view. The storyline that got Sting here was sloppily thrown together, and it can be argued that is not even the most logical contender to the title considering Black Machismo's recent clean victory over Angle. Still, Sting's value is greater than anyone else on the roster, and that includes Samoa Joe. While many fans would love to see Joe finally paid off with a World Title at Bound For Glory, he is simply out of position at the moment. TNA might have missed the boat on this guy the same way they did with Monty Brown.

TG Corke : FACT. I would take it a step further than that and say Sting IS the logical choice. Look, I love Jay Lethal and all (I think my first column proved that), but I don't want him anywhere near the main event. He doesn't need it, he's already the X-Division champion. Sting is probably the only guy on the roster who not only deserves the shot but needs it as well. What else was he going to do? Feud with Cage again so Joe could have another bite of the cherry? Feud with Joe so we got face/face in the upper-card and heel-heel in the main event? Put him in Monsters Ball with Joe and Cage and have Jarrett against Angle instead? No, the choice was a simple one as far as I‘m concerned. A year after his title win that turned out to be one of the worst transition jobs in any World Heavyweight Championship's history, Sting gets the honor once more in a match many of us have been longing to see for a while. Now, we can forget those two minutes they had on Impact! that ended in a No-Decision and enjoy our true contest.

Score: 2 for 4

5. WWE Unforgiven was the worst PPV of 2007.

Tim Haught : FACT. With fans currently debating whether or not it is the worst wrestling pay per view ever, Unforgiven is at this point in our calendar year the worst of 2007. Quite remarkable considering how many main events have had either Khali or Batista in them. Now, TNA has offered some particularly crappy shows of their own this year, but I still give the nod to this one because of expectations. Unforgiven 2007 was incredibly predictable. Despite the fact that WWE was able to throw together a relatively impressive card despite the recent Wellness-related suspensions, they failed to deliver. The stipulation in the Carlito/Triple H match has effectively ensured Carlito's midcard for life status. Batista and Mysterio's championship stock was relatively worthless going into this PPV, and having Batista take the title does nothing to make him a credible champion after his string of losses leading into this match. The Orton/Cena showdown is what sold this show, and fans were ripped off by the DQ ending. I am not trying to argue that DQ's should never occur on pay per view. The problem with Unforgiven was that WWE had nothing else to offer anywhere on the card to make up for this decision. That makes for a disappointment to smart fans and marks alike.

TG Corke : FICTION. But it wasn't exactly great, was it? I agree with most of what my esteemed colleague says here - it was a second consecutive poor effort from WWE which is somewhat unforgivable, the wrestling was average-at-best and little seemed to matter, especially with the DQ in the Cena/Orton match (though I stand by my earlier ‘Fiction' regarding WWE affecting our attitudes towards pay-per-view matches). However, the show was made worth watching, not value for money but worth watching, for Batista finally getting the belt back and Undertaker's return match, which I really didn't think was that bad. Most importantly, both of these things were considered a massive deal by WWE and the fans in attendance seemed to agree. Also, Triple H vs. Carlito was better than I expected, though I expected to be in tears watching it so that's not saying much.

No, the worst for me so far was WWE Summerslam. This was an event that promised so much and delivered so little. No titles changed hands that night, which nobody really expected and left a bad taste in some peoples' mouths CO*mine*UGH - although this in itself wouldn't be bad if it wasn't revealed to be due to creative's inability to come up with decent finishes for the main-events. We also had Triple H and Rey Mysterio returning on the same night to huge fanfare but very mild intake, again disappointing at best and disastrous at worst. The only highlights were an impromptu Stone Cold skit straight out of…Saturday Night's Main Event a couple of weeks before, and Orton vs. Cena (which was admittedly awesome). But, overall, Summerslam was worse than Unforgiven, in my opinion anyway. Also, bear in mind this was BEFORE any of the suspensions, so they don't have that to fall back on.

Score: 2 for 5

6. The Reverse Battle Royal at Bound for Glory will live up to it's predecessor and be the worst match of 2007.

Tim Haught : FICTION. Is the idea contrived and ridiculous? Of course. Is it TNA's worst idea? By no means. Are Battle Royal's supposed to be a showcase of fantastic work rate? Most certainly not. Am I personally a fan of Battle Royal's? Oh hell yes. My main gripe with this one is, it's likely to be a vehicle to get Samoa Joe back into the World Title picture, and quite frankly, we've been there and done that, and it's just not interesting anymore. Rather than clamoring for his eventual victory, I just quit caring. As far as being the worst match of 2007, I will say this. The Fight For Your Right match is likely to be an abomination if you are rating it on a scale of four-star classics. However, it has the potential to at least be a bit intriguing and entertaining, and that is much more than I can say for many matches I have watched this year.

TG Corke : FICTION. I will say immediately that this match should NOT be happening. It can only end badly, I'm sorry to sound so negative but the idea's already a bad one in theory and has proven to be similarly atrocious in practice. Having said that, they've tried it once and it was about as bad as it could get. I doubt even TNA will fail to improve on that showing. Knowing what they're getting into, I'm sure many of the athletes will have an easier time putting on a decent show. TNA make lots of mistakes, but they have to be confident this concept can work if they're willing to try it again on (what they consider) their biggest show of the year. Whether the buoyancy is justified is a matter that will only be settled once the dust has cleared, but for now…it SURELY can't be as bad as Ace Steele in a wig fighting a Rosie O'Donnell look-a-like on Raw to build a hair-versus-hair contest between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump, can it? I highly doubt it, and that's the crux of why I've deemed this Fiction.

Score: 3 for 6

These two finish 3 for 6! Join us next week for more Fact or Fiction!

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What It Takes To Be A Superstar

For has long as I have been watching professional wrestling, big men with big personalities have dominated sports entertainment.

Occasionally, a unique talent will come through and break the mold. When a man like Dusty Rhodes, Mick Foley, or Rey Mysterio leaves the ring with a World Heavyweight Championship, the fattest, ugliest, and shortest guys find themselves believing that they too could one day realize their wildest dreams.

Now it is undoubtable that Rhodes, Foley, and Mysterio brought their own unique blend of talent and charisma to the ring, and they are all three undoubtedly deserving of their successes. They have shown the world that there is no blueprint to being a professional wrestling World Champion.

Just when we believe that, Vince McMahon puts his foot down and reminds us: professional wrestlers are supposed to be larger than life. In a similar vein to anyone who is a fan of professional wrestling, Vince McMahon views his product and finds certain individuals, which he marks for. In the almost 25 years that McMahon has been in charge of WWE, he seems to have come to a conclusion that the in-ring product itself is not the determining factor in what makes a superstar.

It wasn't always like this however. Superstar Billy Graham, Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, and others can be credited with the current emphasis on the human body in professional wrestling.

Obviously current WWE superstars feel the pressure, as recently 10 men have been suspended for their association with Signature Pharmacy.

Following the death of Eddie Guerrero, WWE appeared to be taking their Wellness Policy much more seriously.

When Chris Masters arrived on the scene in the WWE, it appeared that the world would be handed to him on a silver platter. The Masterpiece was very reminiscent of Luger in his Narcissist character, and he appeared destined for superstardom based on his tremendous size and serviceable charisma. Masters may indeed have been the future of the business.

That is until the WWE exercised a new Wellness Policy, and Master's push vanished along with his muscles. Masters returned "leaner and meaner," but to folks at home he looked more like a "wiener." WWE had the option of restarting Masters right where he left off. Instead, they gave him a series of losses to Super Crazy. Master's career has been ill fated ever since, as mere technicalities with Ron Simmons and a soldier in Iraq are all that have kept any legitimacy to his "Masterlock Challenge."

Masters became a tool in the building of one of the men that Vince views as a real superstar, Bobby Lashley.

Why do you put anything over for two years to simply toss it aside with no feud, no payoff, nothing. Chris Masters' identity was lost as an accessory of a storyline he is not even involved in.

What does this say to Masters? Well, the answer is apparent, as "The Masterpiece" bulked back up rather quickly. How does this enforce wellness?

At Unforgiven, WWE continued down the path of hypocrisy. Now, I am not trying to insinuate that any of the winners at the most recent PPV are currently on the gas, but it is undeniable that John Cena and Batista are two wrestlers without a lot of technical ability and a whole lot of muscle.

Now the last time that WWE went through a steroid trial, the belt was immediately put on the technically sound, not-so-large Bret "Hitman" Hart. Who in the WWE thinks that Batista is a good figurehead in light of the current scrutiny?

The WWE has no shortage of athletic looking guys. Shelton Benjamin and Elijah Burke are two that uphold the legitimacy of what a pro wrestler should be without carrying an extra 50-100 pounds of unneeded muscle mass. What do they get for it? They get to be jobbers on their respective programs.

Burke got a chance to be a part of the Unforgiven Pay-Per-View, jerking the curtain along with "Straight Edge Superstar" CM Punk. In light of recent goings-on, you'd think these guys would really get a chance to shine. Instead, they are just an afterthought.

Now why aren't agility, technical skill, and charisma elevating these men to the same places that Batista's muscles have taken him? Why isn't a healthy athletic look celebrated, and the body builder look discouraged?

As Batista begins his third title run and Cena begins his second calendar year as WWE champion, it almost makes you wonder where the Ric Flair's and Bret Hart's have gone…

It seems today that only things that Vince cares about are the preservation of sports entertainment, the downplaying of wrestling in his product, and the creation of these beefed-up moneymaking megastars.

The WWE has the ability to do whatever they want at their leisure, until fans show them their decisions are incorrect by tuning out. All of us who disagree with the current product, regardless of the reason, are in Vince McMahon's back pocket.

We are the one's blogging, buying DVDs, and we will be watching "Raw" this Monday and purchasing Pay-Per-View's regardless. Vince is trying to appeal to the ones he hasn't already hooked, and he knows that first and foremost.

As a fan, I believe there is a place for the Undertaker's, John Cena's, Batista's, Big Show's, Hulk Hogan's, Ultimate Warrior's and other larger than life superstars. However, there is room for a great deal more. I am not calling for a drastic change. I would just like to see the wrestling put back into World Wrestling Entertainment.

I touched on WWE's reluctance to push guys who are not extremely large. I suggested how this sends the wrong message, and is a huge contributing factor as to why seemingly can't miss guys like Ken Kennedy, Umaga, John Morrison, King Booker, and others are sitting on the sidelines serving Wellness related suspensions.

Reader Rick Helley wrote in to suggest some other ways WWE could possibly improve the product while ensuring the safety and long-term health of their workers:

"The WWE could become a better alternative to its current incarnation if it banned chair shots, and other sorts of trauma, to the head. I remember Eddie Guerrero's final match, on SmackDown, when he took a wicked chair shot to the head from Mr. Kennedy. Although the cause of Eddie's death was ruled a heart attack, I cannot help but think that that nasty chair shot might have precipitated or hastened his demise.

And now, it's been learned that Chris Benoit, at 40, had brain damage comparable to an 85-year-old man with Alzheimer's disease. I know a great deal about Alzheimer's and dementia; and if Benoit did, in fact, suffer from dementia, then he was in a desperately bad mental condition. Every time I saw Benoit perform his flying head-butt off the top rope -- and plough head-first onto the mat in some cases -- I wondered what all that trauma must have been doing to his brain. And now we know -- as well as the horrible consequences.

I cringe every time I see chair shots and head bumps, and always have, long before the deaths of Guerrero and Benoit. I don't need to see such useless and risky nonsense in order to be entertained.

Some of the most exciting wrestling matches I ever saw were the televised National Wrestling Alliance matches from the San Francisco Cow Palace in the early 1970s, featuring such greats as Ray Stevens, Pat Patterson, Peter Maivia, Rocky Johnson, Pepper Gomez, and Stan Stasiak. These guys put on fantastic matches and exhibited pure professional wrestling skills superior to most of what I see today -- with nary a chair shot or a flying head-butt.

In the wake of the Chris Benoit tragedy, I hope that WWE will come to its senses, and ban chair shots and other moves that induce head trauma -- and tragedy afterwards. In that way, WWE will become a better and more entertaining alternative to itself -- and a safer alternative for its hard-working wrestlers. And maybe, when wrestlers pass away, their obituaries will indicate that they died in their 80s instead of their 30s and 40s."

Thanks for the feedback Rick. Here is a classic match from the 1970's, just for you:

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Suitable WWE Alternative: The McMahon Plan to Put TNA Out of Business

CM Punk is a World Heavyweight Champion. Regardless of what brand he is a champion of or the circumstances surrounding his win, at the end of the day CM Punk has a World Heavyweight Title around his waist.

Is that enough to satiate the ever-critical Internet Wrestling Community? Likely not.

Is it enough to get more fans watching the ECW brand? Probably still likely not.

Much like Samoa Joe, CM Punk lost the payoff match that would have made his title reign significant. Due to a wellness policy suspension, he is afforded the luxury of keeping the belt warm for the impending return of John Morrison. This makes him a glorified Ronnie Garvin in the annals of wrestling history.

Punk's title win came at a TV taping, and was spoiled on before it aired on the poorly rated ECW on Sci-Fi.

The WWECW experiment has been an interesting one to say the least. Beginning with Rob Van Dam's title run, the brand has experienced nothing but issues. It's hard to determine what WWE's actual plans were for the brand, as additions of RVD, Kurt Angle, and the Big Show imply that they expected the brand to draw on it's own.

All three of those aforementioned wrestlers are gone. Bobby Lashley took the ball, but when he ran with it, he often ended up on the Raw brand. Lashley was removed from ECW and stripped of the World title, but fans kept hope with the announcement that Chris Benoit would be putting on fantastic matches with young athletic workers. We obviously all know how that turned out.

Outside of Morrison and Punk, the supporting cast of ECW wrestlers is a veritable who's who of wrestling jobbers as ECW originals Balls Mahoney, Nunzio, and Tommy Dreamer haven't won a match in recent memory. Wrestlers receiving half-pushes like Stevie Richards, Kevin Thorn, The Miz, and Big Daddy V are hardly anything to get excited about.

This leads to the ECW World Heavyweight title having a feeling of being more on par with Raw's Intercontinental title or Smackdown's United States title.

TNA on the other hand has somehow been able to keep the big belt feel around their World Heavyweight Title. Kurt Angle, Sting, Christian Cage, Samoa Joe and others have all been built to be legit title contenders.

Despite the fact that the logic of having Kurt Angle lose clean to Jay Lethal to return and defeat Abyss is seriously flawed, the belt itself only moderately suffers. The main argument of most wrestling fans would be that Lethal should now be considered the number one contender. I agree, but would rather personally not see Angle squash Black Machismo to get his heat back.

Still, TNA has it's own fatal flaw. TNA's purpose in the wrestling game is to provide an alternative to the WWE. When I started watching wrestling in 1989, the NWA/WCW provided a suitable alternative with a different and often superior in-ring product.

Years later, when WCW acquired Hulk Hogan and other former WWE stars and looked, sounded, and felt more like their competitor, Extreme Championship Wrestling stepped up and truly did something unique in the world of wrestling, blending world class grapplers, unique high flyers, and hardcore wrestling.

Since the original ECW folded, many have come and tried to rekindle the magic. XPW and CZW have appealed to a specific type of fan, but they have been unable to capture the imaginations of America the way ECW did. One might suggest that they're overboard tactics and sort of lower class, if not dirty, feel has a lot to do with their lack of mainstream marketability. If ECW was comparable to edgy magazine Playboy, XPW and CZW are BSDM specialty mags.

Undoubtedly, pro wrestling fans have been looking for something new and different. For some fans, this is found in Ring of Honor. To make another analogy, if WWE were beer, ECW is WWE Lite, and TNA is WWE Ultra Lite. Ring of Honor is Natty Light. Cheaper, but at least it tastes a bit different. Fans are looking for a Miller to compete with their Bud, and have been since the dissolution of WCW and the original ECW years ago.

With TNA shoving VKM, Black Reign, Rhino, Team 3D, and various other WWE rejects down the collective throats of their fans, it has appeared at times that they might get rid of the X Division entirely. Obviously the TNA brass doesn't understand what brought them to the dance.

So why doesn't a millionaire-wrestling mogul like Vince McMahon understand that there is a demographic he is not reaching? After all, there is a great deal more money to be made.

Jim Ross has recently stated in his Barbeque Blog that "ECW is still a work in progress and the final form it eventually takes could be termed as ‘still to be determined.' I am not a major fan of a weekly hardcore or extreme rules match because they cease being special if one sees them every week and these matches increase the odds of a wrestlers getting injured. With the overall lack of quality depth available, injuries should be avoided when they can."

While many fans cannot accept this, I am perfectly fine with it. I grew tired of WWE style hardcore matches, and I detested watching bums attempt to recreate and outdo them on the Indy circuit. I don't want anyone to get seriously injured for my dollar. That is not why I am a wrestling fan.

So what can the WWE do to reinvigorate the ECW brand and provide the alternative that TNA is failing to be, essentially shutting them out of the market entirely?

Well, the first step is to get a deal for ECW to move to a different network. ECW is handcuffed by their Sci-Fi affiliation, as characters like The Boogeyman and Kevin Thorn must be there to grab any type of crossover audience from the network itself.

If ECW could score a deal with FSN, FX, or another network with a more general theme and a larger audience, it would benefit them greatly. I personally am unable to watch ECW on the television in my room, because we only get digital cable on one TV in the household.

The second move would be straight to Thursday nights to compete directly with Total Nonstop Action Impact! What is a bigger slap in the face than to send your third and lesser brand into direct competition with your rival? Writers and wrestlers would both be expected to step up their performance.

The next step is to introduce a Women's Championship to Smackdown. This will undoubtedly be the most controversial point. However, Victoria is on the brand, and she is undoubtedly the most talented wrestling diva in the company. She would like to see a belt there, and I would like to be her unconditional love slave. Therefore, what Victoria wants, Victoria gets.

Plus, this opens up the option of taking the Cruiserweight title off of Smackdown and moving it to ECW. Along with the title, any wrestler from any brand who is considered a cruiserweight should be moved as well. This would place Daivari, Santino Marella, Super Crazy, Funaki, Chavo Guerrero, Shannon Moore, and Jamie Noble all on the ECW brand.

Cruiserweight title matches would be contested under a highflying, hard-hitting cruiserweight style. One huge difference between WWE and TNA is TNA lets their X Division separate itself from the rest of the program, while WWE essentially has smaller guys working a heavyweight style for a cruiserweight title.

Other wrestlers who might be considered for movement to the ECW brand depending on their storyline involvement on their respective brands would be the Hardyz, Rey Mysterio, and Kenny Dykstra. These men would be ECW World Title contenders.

The ECW World Heavyweight title would only be contested under extreme rules, which can mean as much or as little as the performers involved want it to mean. There was a great difference between Jerry Lynn/RVD matches and Tommy Dreamer/Raven matches in the old ECW. Still, it gives wrestlers the option of pushing the envelope in matches where it would be worthwhile to do so, i.e. World Heavyweight title matches.

Now that pay-per-views are tri-branded again, the ECW brand would actually be set apart and provide one or two unique and exciting matches for each.

All members of the ECW roster should wrestle with a hardcore mentality. This does not necessarily mean Extreme Rules. Kurt Angle's intensity upon joining the ECW brand, and Big Show's attempt to work a different style and use a new move set while in ECW were fantastic examples of what I mean. Hardcore doesn't necessarily mean going through a table. It's about wrestlers pushing themselves to the limit.

It's likely that a reworked ECW could destroy TNA's market share, as WWE would provide a suitable alternative themselves. If done correctly and given a more legit feel, it may also attract some of the ever-growing MMA audience.

Without a doubt, it would increase ratings, increase merchandise sales, and give fans a reason to once again chant ECW, ECW, ECW!

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Back When...

Back when a guy who didn't take steroids could make just about anyone into a star... More on This Story...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Project 161 Reveals itself

Credit Photo: jbennett from the message board:

Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, and Necro Butcher do some damage!

After the Briscoe's win what is being called the best ladder match ever, they are attacked by the men behind Project 161. They hang Jay by his feet from the hook where the Tag Belts were being suspended above the ring and while Jay's blood dripped to the mat, Jacobs stood under him and cut a promo while Jay's blood covered Jacobs white coat. And to drive the point home Jacob's opened his mouth as Jay's blood dripped into it!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Why I am Tired?

I haven't been posting much recently. At this time last year I was at the height of my resurgence in wrestling fandom, having latched onto TNA and the rising company they seemed to be at the time. Since then I have gone a year of watching the wrestling industry from a TNA fan perspective.

I admire what Vince's company does but for me the real wrestling was over at TNA. But then something happened. Shortly after Slammiversary TNA took a direction I haven't been happy with, basically making the show the Kurt Angle hour. I love Kurt but when TNA has such great talent every Impact does not have to be Angle-centric.

Anyway I recently went to a local NWA event here in PA. The guys there put on a fantastic show, utilizing a ring that looked like it could fall apart at any minute. The culmination was when Sure Shot Shawn Reynolds (Better than you since 1982) dove off a ten foot ladder onto a table to cover "Dirty" Don Montoya for the win. These guys have no TV contract. Reynolds is a local police officer by day and does this only for the thrill of the 70 or so people that filled into the hot Salvation Army gym on that night. Now don't get me wrong, I am by no means suggesting that these little Indy guys with limited move sets should be my Thursday night programming but rather that TNA should utilize what it has.

Guys like AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelly, Christopher Daniels and Jay Lethal are all being tragically wasted because TNA management feels they need to spotlight Angle for 90% of the show. I don't tune into Impact to watch Angle sunbathe in his underwear, while talking to his therapist (Kevin Nash). I tune into Impact to watch high Impact wrestling. Yet all I really get is Angle and Joe or Angle and Sting (and I love Sting) over and over each week. It is time for TNA to turn up the product or get out of dodge because frankly I'm just tired of the same old, same old.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Possible ROH TV Deal

ROH On Versus?

There is a rumor going around that Ring Of Honor has secured a pilot deal of 18 shows on the network Versus. This has not been confirmed by any ROH official but I feel this will be announced very soon.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Mixed Message

What defines a wrestling superstar?

In my earliest days as a wrestling fan, I idolized Sting and Hulk Hogan. There's no denying that these are two larger than life personalities with larger than life bodies. Does an impressive physique equal superstar potential? Not necessarily, but don't tell Vince McMahon that.

I've always thought that anyone with the right talent and/or charisma, pushed properly, can be a huge star. Look at Dusty Rhodes, Mick Foley or even Rey Mysterio. Note that I said the right talent and/or charisma. This doesn't mean every fat dude or luchador can be a superstar.

This brings me back to my original point. Now, the WWE is saying they don't want their superstars on any illegal substances, yet they still want their talent to look like bodybuilders. Plus, new talent has to pass a drug test to get signed. That's tough. Who are they going to sign? Isn't this the same company that depushed a returning Chris Masters after suspending him for being on steroids?

I can't understand wanting their wrestlers to look like athletes. Elijah Burke looks like an athlete.

I'm confused why they won't let the talent get over based on their own merits. Look at the two biggest stars of the past ten years: Steve Austin and The Rock. These two guys got over almost on accident. Why not let some natural progressions happen? The only talent I've seen them let get over on their own is CM Punk. They've changed Cena so much since they've made him a top guy. Why not let some of these guys bring their own personality to the table and see what happens?
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Monday, September 10, 2007

Devaluating the Titles: A World Championship Just Can't Catch A Break

I had asked this question in a previous column, but it bears repeating again. Remember when titles actually meant something in Pro Wrestling? It seems like ages ago, and it's just not with WWE. TNA has been guilty of this also, and when the opportunity came for them to do something about it, they completely flushed it down the toilet.

From the start in TNA, they had control over the NWA World Heavyweight and Tag Team Titles. They didn't want the Board Represented Champions to be their Champions on PPV, so they vacated the titles. It's a shame seeing as how they stripped Dan Severn of the belt to give to Ken Shamrock, when fans had been wanting to see them meet since 1998. To my knowledge, Severn never had a chance to appear in TNA at all. What's even more of a shame is the fact that they vacated the World Tag Team Titles, held by the Shane Twins (fans may remember them better as The Gymini.) Why, you ask? They worked for TNA right off the bat, although someone thought it would be hilarious to dress them in bodysuits and masks, call them The Johnsons, and make a bunch of dick jokes.

So they wanted to form their own identity and establish their own stars and own Champions. Well that's fine and all, but the wrong thing to do if you're leeching off the lineage of the NWA World Title. Honestly, who could blame them. They got more out of the deal, than the NWA did. They had complete control over the booking of the belts. They didn't have to worry about booking workers from other NWA Promotions, just the Promoters themselves (Jim Miller, Bill Behrens, Bert Prentice, Rich Arpin, etc.) Their contribution to the NWA was advertising show dates on a ticker during their PPVs, and even that didn't last long.

The NWA didn't make this any better for themselves. The NWA North American Championship was still controlled by the NWA Board, and they wanted the belt back when Champion Quinn Magnum was unable to make defenses because of injury. As a result, Magnum dropped the title to Paul Atlas (I should mention that I was a stablemate of Atlas at the time and did a run-in on the match) who, as talented and deserving as he was, was used as a Transitional Champion to drop the belt to a TNA guy. Bringing him in to job to Jorge Estrada at that year's NWA Anniversary Show was cheaper than Fed-Exing the belt (and that is a shoot.) They showed a 30 second highlight video of the show and made mention of Estrada winning the belt, but was it ever shown or defended on TNA?

Before the deal, NWA Affiliates would bring in the Board's Champions for shows on occasion. After TNA kicked off, who could afford to bring in Jeff Jarrett for an Indy appearance. To my knowledge, there was only one instance of this where Jarrett defended the belt on an NWA Virginia Card. Hell, the World Title Matches wouldn't even take place on the NWA Anniversary Shows. When Raven was the Champ he dropped the belt to Jarrett on a non-NWA card in Ontario. Actually, to this day, it still follows, as the finals of the NWA World Title Tournament took place on an IWA Puerto Rico card.

Back to what this column is really about, post NWA/TNA split. Despite the fact that Kurt Angle won the NWA World Title in Christian Cage's last defense (the night that the NWA announced the split) the title was held up due to a controversial finish. Okay, fine… Who wins the title when they decide a new Champion? Kurt Angle. Okay, then what was the point of vacating the title in the first place? Then comes the match where all titles were on the line and Samoa Joe, already the X Division Champion, wins the Tag Team Titles. Instead of Angle and Joe becoming the Tag Team Champions, Joe holds both belts on his own and doesn't defend them until the next PPV match with Kurt Angle. I cannot begin to describe how big of a problem I have with one man holding a Tag Team Title on his own. WCW was infamous for this, as they did this numerous times. Heck (edit) I would have been happy with Samoa Joe and Judy Bagwell as the Champions. Okay, not really, but still…

Next month Kurt Angle beats Samoa Joe in the match that everyone was sure was made just so Joe could finally win the big one, but instead we have Kurt Angle holding the World, Tag Team, and X Division Titles all on his own. He's then booked to defend them all at (insert PPV Name here.) Did Angle or Joe even defend any of these titles in the last two months leading up to this? I get that they were looking to do something unique by having Angle defend 3 different Championships in 3 different nights, and hopefully draw some interest to the event, but they backed themselves into a corner so far that the only direction they could go is down.

Match one of the night: Kurt Angle and Sting defending the Tag Team Titles against Ron Killings and Pacman Jones. Why was this match made in the first place? I'll save the fact that they had to release 3 guys to pay for Pacman's Salary for another rant, but why when you have a solid Tag Team division with numerous worthy contenders? Why not LAX, Team 3D, MCMG (edit) Triple X, The Steiners, VKM, or Shark Boy & D-Ray 3000? (Okay, my timeline's off a bit on the last one) Now I didn't see the actual PPV itself, and this is going just by reading the report of the show, but Killings wrestled the match himself for the team. Angle turns on Sting, lays him out with the Angle Slam, and Pacman gets tagged in and pins Sting. Great…

First professional match ever, and you go over on two of the biggest names in wrestling history, one of them you get a clean pinfall on without having to break a sweat or take a bump. This may not necessarily end up being the case, but not having to pay dues usually leads to guys getting massive egos. I guess time will tell with that. It's not like Sting gave the rub to Pacman because it didn't help his credibility by being able to beat the legend. He was just in the right place at the right time. If anyone should have gotten the rub from Sting, it's Christopher Daniels. All this match accomplished was getting the titles off of Angle & Sting, which they shouldn't have been on in the first place. It's nice that Killings at least got something out of this, but hopefully we can get the titles on a real team sometime soon.

Match two of the night: Kurt Angle vs Jay Lethal for the X Division Title. Lethal gets the upset here and rolls Angle up when he attempts an Ankle Lock. This is good for Lethal, as it is certainly the biggest win of his career. However, he didn't have the momentum, desire, and emotion going into the match as he did when he was chasing Sabin for the belt. His momentum was gone when he lost the belt to Joe one night after the initial title win. So the only purpose of him losing it was to do the stupid storyline with Angle getting all the belts. Hopefully Lethal can use the win over Angle to project himself even further. I really like the Black Machismo gimmick and I want to see him do well.

Match three of the night: Kurt Angle vs Abyss for the World Title. He's already 0-2 at this point, and having him lose the belt to Abyss here would be the best thing for the Title's credibility. Does it happen? Of course not. Angle makes Abyss tap out. So we're supposed to believe that Kurt Angle is still the best wrestler in TNA because he's the Heavyweight Champion of the World, yet he lost two matches in the same night prior to retaining that title. The announcers put it over as he kept the one that mattered. I don't think so. All it means to me is that Jay Lethal should have been the one challenging for the World Title and not Abyss. It would have been a little more believable and credible if Angle couldn't get the job done against Abyss but was able to retain the X Title over Lethal. I know Angle is their new top dog and they're content on pushing him to the moon, but they just derailed his momentum by jobbing him out prior to the Main Event. Sure, you could argue that this is similar to Bret & Owen Hart at Wrestlemania 10 prior to Bret beating Yokozuna for the World Title, but I'm sure Lethal isn't going to get a World Title shot because he pinned Angle.

While it was a breath of fresh air to see someone other than Triple H with the WWE Title, fans are now tired of John Cena being shoved down their throats. The same can be said about TNA. While it's nice to see someone other than Jeff Jarrett at the top of TNA, the fans are soon going to start resenting Kurt Angle as their Champion. And the sad thing is the victim in all of this, is the TNA World Title. Not a good sign going into a two hour timeslot, now is it?
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Sunday, September 09, 2007

PWP Founder Tim Haught Hired By

On September 1, 2006, I opened this blog with a scathing article that I felt needed to be written about Bret "Hitman" Hart. On September 8, 2007, one year and one week later, I received confirmation from Larry Csonka of that I am their newest staff member.

411mania is a pop-culture website covering movies, television, music, pro-wrestling, politics, sports, video games, MMA, and more. The site dates back to August of 1996 and is independently owned by founder Ashish Pabari.

The site houses a large online forum community with over 10,000 registered members. As of June 2006, 411mania claimed four million unique visitors and nearly 20 million impressions per month.

411mania started as 411wrestling slightly prior to the boom in pro-wrestling interest during the late 1990s. 411wrestling shifted their core focus in 2002 from pro-wrestling only, adding sections for video games and action figures. 411wrestling continued to expand out of the pro-wrestling area and by 2003 had established sections in movies, music, television, video games, action figures, comics, politics, and pro-wrestling. The site also re-launched in 2003 as 411mania.

Pro wrestling remains 411mania's main focus, followed by movies, games, and music.

Notable past readers include WWE wrestler Matt Hardy, who, in 2004, responded to a column by 'Asteroid Boy', in which the author claimed that Hardy's career had suffered due to his relationship with Lita. Writing on his site, Hardy denigrated Asteroid Boy's column. Hardy's response was removed within 24 hours by WWE. Hardy most recently praised a positive 411 article by Daniel Wilcox on his official MySpace page, in his blog entry titled "The QUEST to be the BEST begins now!" has been mentioned in several mainstream media outlets, including most recently in The Boston Globe, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, and the Toronto Star.

Screenshots of's forums and news pages have been seen on CNN, most recently regarding the death of WWE wrestler, Chris Benoit, and his wife and son.

I want to assure all of our PWP readers and staff that this does not mean the end of Pro Wrestling Pundit. I still have big dreams for where I want to steer this vehicle.

I am honored to have an opportunity to be on the 411 staff, and I hope I can do the best for both audiences.

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Who Can Invigorate the WWE?


What’s up with this???

Every time I open up a web browser, my Google Desktop is telling me that another WWE wrestler has been suspended, or that another one has quit.

The two latest additions to the quit category are Ric Flair and King Booker. Reports are saying that both of these major players are upset with some current decisions and policies.

Now the question is how will WWE react? Two options come to mind to fill the void of the stars that are leaving and those who are being suspended, unable to fill time on shows, and unable to build storylines.

Option one is to begin filtering some of their developing talent up the ranks of their development territories and try to cultivate them into characters that handle the rigors of the road, as well as the tightened policy on substance and performance enhancement use. This is very possible and may in fact be the way to go.

However, the other way to go is to look back in WWE history at the past employees we have not heard from in a while. Getting a familiar face on tv with a little history might be just the shot in the arm to spur ratings and fan interest.

Who can step out from the shadows to help the WWE out? It will have to be someone who has the ability to pop a crowd and to deliver excitement.

There are innumerable possibilities out there, but one in particular that I would like to see is Psycho Sid.

Say what you want about Sid. Sure, he poked more holes in Arn Anderson than a noodle strainer with a pair of scissors back in the early 90’s, but he’s long since been forgiven for that little error in judgment. And sure, he has been known to be a little more interested in getting his games of softball in than making the next road trip, but he’s probably gotten that out of his system since then, plus I heard ball cleats bother him since the nasty spill he took facing Big Poppa Pump at WCW Sin, 2001.

I am making light of some of the unfortunate things that have taken place during Sid’s career, but I am serious that I think Sid could make an impact in WWE.

I want to see him come in and liven things up a bit. These young guys are walking around like they own the place, prancing around giving weak bumps to one another. Give me a break. Stiffen up a bit. Sid will come in a show them what a monster really is. He’ll wring Santino Marella’s neck so hard, his forearm will pop his body glove arm brace off. Then he’ll flip him upside down and power bomb him so hard, Marella’s back tats will rub off on the canvas.

Just stay off the top rope, Sid.

The man’s promos are unbelievable. No scripting needed for Sid. He just needs an idea of where to go and he’ll cut a blood-curdling interview that will have you thinking that he is going to wreck whoever stands in his way. Hopefully, if WWE heeds my suggestion then the first person on Sid’s termination list will be Chris Masters – boy, I can’t stand that punk – of course some speculation is that he could be on his way out, too, due to wellness violations.

The last I heard of Sid, it was shoot interview my college roommate picked up. He was talking smack about Vince. Some will say he’s burnt his bridge with WWE, but I’ve seen sicker dogs than that get better.

So there you go. If Flair and Booker are gone, then somebody should hunt down Sid Eudy. He’s got the gift of gab to make up for the loss of Flair, and the size and crushing power of King Booker.

Don’t think it’s possible?

Well, I just read that Sid was in a feud with Jerry Lawler in Memphis Wrestling during July, and that he referenced a return to WWE in a recent interview. Don’t believe me? Check out his wiki.


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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Please Excuse Our Mess...

Pro Wrestling Pundit is currently Under Construction as we upgrade from the old blogger template to the new layout. We will be adding plenty of new features, a happy 1 year anniversary gift to ourselves. Please bear with us. More on This Story...

Well, that's retarded...

Believe it or not, Eugene being released from the WWE may just have been the best thing to happen to his career. Why, you say? Well were was his career prior to this? When was the last time Eugene challenged for a singles title? When was the last time he got a PPV Payday? It's sad because Nick Dinsmore was one of the most talented prospects to come out of OVW. Chris Benoit went down to work a match with him, and after Dinsmore held his own and then some with the Rabid Wolverine, Benoit told Danny Davis he was every bit as good as he said he was. The sky was the limit for him, and he eventually got called up for the opportunity of a lifetime…

As Uncle Eric's retarded nephew…

I questioned the logic of this first. In all fairness, this seemed like a logical choice in the beginning. It was something different. It was something fun. It was something the kids could enjoy just as much as adults. But once the new car scent wore off, what else was there to do with him? He couldn't be a main event player or a serious singles champion under this gimmick. He was cursed with the gimmick of a simpleton with no way out. Many had been in this rough of a spot before and survived, but for him there was no going back. He was stuck with "The Eugene Curse."

What's funny is CM Punk almost suffered the same fate under the "Eugene Curse," as he was slated to debut with a gimmick where he was a deaf wrestler. Had this happened, he most likely would not be your ECW Champion today . He'd be pretty hot for about a month or two, then go from jobbing on heat to getting an honorable mention on wishing him the best in his future endeavors.

Ironically enough, I essentially was doing the Eugene gimmick in Pro Wrestling Xpress about 6 months before Eugene showed up on WWE TV. Because I wasn't wrestling on a National stage, it just made me look like a copycat. But the difference was I was acting goofy, picking fights with wet floor signs, and carrying around a Bob The Builder backpack because I took too many chairshots and got a concussion every show. I simply stopped taking so many shots to the head and returned to normal. With Mr Dinsmore, it was genetics.

Sure, the Eugene character has filled us with some unforgettable moments over the years. Who could forget WWE Musical Chairs during his brief tenure as General Manager of RAW? Plus, without him we never would have learned that Matt Stryker loves poop.

Luckily for him, the sky is once again the limit. He's a talented performer with name value. He can make a pretty decent living just working the Indies. I just hope that he's smart about it…

What he should do...

- Get involved in the NWA Title Picture. Since the NWA broke away from TNA, they've gotten their hands on two of the biggest named Independent Contractors in Bryan Danielson and Brent Albright to try to get their World Title some credibility. While I'm sure Adam Pearce is talented and worthy of being the NWA's Top Titleholder (although I'm not familiar with his work at all) I don't think he's exactly the household name you want to be promoting as your World Champion. The NWA World Title needs recognizable names to go along with it. Mr. Dinsmore could be one of them.

- Open up a training school. Why the hell not? He was responsible for training so many of the OVW names that went on to the WWE. While some of them may no longer be employed, he's still responsible for training some talented workers.

Here is what he should not do...

- Sign with TNA. Even if they are getting a second hour for Impact, their roster is already overcrowded with former WWE names who have lashed out against their former employer and burned their bridges. The sad part is though, that half of them pretty much recreated their old WWE gimmicks (Team 3D, Platinumdust or whatever he is called) and it just seems like a cheap parody. The last thing we need is a 2nd rate Eugene gimmick. Then again he could join the other half that shoot on their old gimmicks and try to be themselves. This wouldn't be so bad, but he's just going to get lost in the TNA shuffle.

- Work for Ring of Honor… or any other promotion that runs in the Philly area. Those fans are brutal and will completely boo him out of the building. Remember Jeff Hardy's ROH run? Probably not, and there's a reason why.

Regardless of what happens, Nick Dinsmore is out of gimmick purgatory and has a chance to re-establish himself as a legitimate wrestler. Who knows, maybe we'll see him get resigned in the future and become the major player that he was destined to be…

Or he could go back to being Eugene, showing us all what a retard he truly is...
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The O'Rawlly Factor: Things are Looking Up?

Welcome readers to a new weekly feature on Pro Wrestling Pundit. Following our 1 year anniversary which took place September 1st, I have decided to do a weekly Raw report.

Last night, WWE shattered internet rumors that Mr. Kennedy would be Mr. McMahon's illegitimate son. Could this be because of the impending suspensions levied recently? Only time will tell. The only clue wrestling fans have is that "things are looking up." Interesting since thus far in 2007, things have all been downhill thus far.

I personally haven't given a damn about this storyline since it started, and to be honest, I haven't been too into making sure I catch Raw yet this year. Nothing has really grabbed my attention. The draft lottery was a flop, the McMahon death angle was crap before the Benoit incident, and this is just more of the same.

I am happy to see Ken Kennedy not saddled with the stress of being a McMahon for the rest of his career. Family related storylines tend to dominate everything a superstar does until he retires. This is a blessing in disguise. After all, it's Kennedy's gimmick to say his name. Why fix something that's not broken?

The segment with all four McMahon's was just plain terrible, and hopefully ratings will show that the majority of fans tuned out. It's doubtful, but I personally would like to see more W and less E when it comes to my WWE main events.

The wrestling on Raw has a chance of possibly getting a lot better in light of theses suspensions and releases. With the recent release of the only over tag team on any WWE brand roster, Cryme Tyme, Paul London and Brian Kendrick now have the opportunity to actually gain some momentum on Raw. If Haas serves a suspension, this could be the perfect time to elevate Shelton Benjamin back into the IC title picture. Imagine the matches he and Jeff Hardy could have. Is a Hair vs. Hair ladder match in the cards? Doubtful, but it would be more interesting than what they are likely planning.

Yes, Jeff Hardy is once again IC champion, and while it by itself is fairly well-trodden territory, it was the best business decision WWE could make with Umaga likely on the shelf due to a steroid suspension. Hardy is looking better with his short hair, and there are plenty of guys for him to work. Regardless of how I feel about him, he stays over. That is undeniable.

Interesting that he was able to snag a clean victory over the Samoan Bulldozer, as it seemed later on in the night that WWE was trying to keep Umaga strong for his return. More interesting because Jeff himself is now returning from being suspended himself.

Triple H had the pleasure of being the one to dispose of Umaga. Great, he's been back two weeks and he's already killed King Booker and Umaga. Carlito is next, then likely Kennedy, then Orton. And what for? The same tired crap...

As Triple H worked over Umaga with a sledgehammer, I actually found myself sympathetic towards the former Intercontinental Champion. Was the second shot really necessary? Umaga is like a wild animal who doesn't understand. Yes, Triple H needed to do what he had to to protect himself from Umaga's assault, but by the end he was viciously attacking a man who seemingly didn't know any better. As Umaga fought to return to his feet, Triple H lowered the final boom, then held Umaga's head up like a big game trophy. Triple H has done nothing for me as a fan since he captured his first title belt. It hasn't been "his time" in some time. Unfortunately, he has the stroke to keep telling us otherwise.

Triple H, himself, needs to realize what brought him to the dance. He was a strong midcard heel in a company with Steve Austin, the Rock, Mankind, and the Undertaker in the main events. WWE made him and Kurt Angle into forces so that many men could carry the ball. Other than elevating John Cena, I don't know what real contributions Triple H has made to the future of the business. I will tell you however that he killed any momentum Booker T, Rob Van Dam, or Kane could have had as legit main eventers. Now he is killing the next generation.

Speaking of hair, with Jeff Hardy and Benjamin earlier, What the hell did Carlito do to himself? His fro was basically his gimmick. Without any muscle tone to speak of, Carlito is now just a dude. When the recently released Mike "Nova" "Simon Dean" Bucci debuted in the WWE, he had to cut his hair cause it matched too closely to Triple H. Maybe Carlito's doo was a little bit too close to Steph's pubes...

About the only thing really good storyline wise going on with Raw is the Women's title hunt. It sucks because I don't think anyone has had time to give a shit about Beth Phoenix, but I marked out for Candice running in to make the save and then totally pussing out at the sight of "The Glamazon." While he is not the size of Chyna, nor does she have the muscle mass of Jazz, she is being used perfectly, and she's way hotter than either of the two aforementioned former divas.

PWP readers may be interested to know that PWP columnists Dash Bennett and Daron Smythe have worked against Phoenix in the past. Maybe they could add some insight into how she is being used currently by the WWE.

Santino Marella is the current king of raw one-liners. I don't really care for when that arm sling comes off, but in the mean time, he is gold as a midcard heel.

Is Raw GM William Regal on the chopping block for his association with that pharmacy list? John Cena certainly took it to him last night. Cena and Orton's match at the last house show I attended was off the charts, and I've heard nothing but good about their Summerslam match as well. I really feel these two have the goods to pop a decent buyrate for Unforgiven regardless of the current goings-on in the WWE. Heck, maybe things actually are looking up.
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