Monday, May 20, 2019

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for May 20, 2019

He's back and ready to go
Photo via Eagles Wire
Welcome to a feature I like to call "Best in the World" rankings. They're not traditional power rankings per se, but they're rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it's bottled water or something else really common. They're rankings decided by me, and don't you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here's this week's list:

1. Carson Wentz (Last Poll: 1) - His 2018 season ended in ignominy with a backbreaking loss to the Cowboys, but it turns out that his back literally was broken, although no one really knows when. However, the word dropped that he will have no limitations at organized team activities (which are optional, by the by) this year. Wentz will have a lot of pressure this season since he will have no Big Dick Nick (Foles) security blanket backing him up. Cody Kessler, Nate Sudfeld, and Clayton Thorson don't exactly inspire the fear that Foles did. But I have faith in my quarterback to get the Eagles back where they belong, and that's the Super Bowl, baby.

2. Game of Thrones Viewers (Last Poll: Not Ranked) - It's easy to lose sight of the real heroes from last night, the people who stayed aboard for eight seasons even though the wheels started coming off around, oh, I don't know, season three, episode nine. People will judge them on their complaints, but I mean, look at the last three episodes from this season. Those shitheads David Benioff and DB Weiss packed like two seasons worth of advancement into three episodes. Grey Worm might as well have been put under a spell to go from noble infantry leader to The Co-Inventor of War Crimes! So to all my fellow 73-episode trekkers, I salute you.

3. Orange Cassidy (Last Poll: Not Ranked) - It's hard defending the Independent Wrestling Championship all the time, but especially when noted trickster god Joey Janela dresses up like you and calls himself Tangerine Cassidy to try and sneak the belt off your waist. You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to fool ol' Orange Cassidy, you do.

Brock Lesnar? Really?

I don't need or want to see this again
Photo Credit: WWE.com
I didn't watch all of Money in the Bank. I missed the first hour because I was being a dad, and I missed the main event because that's about when my wife got home to watch the series finale of Game of Thrones that we had on DVR delay because she went to a show during the live airing. What I did see was mostly good for a post-Saudi Fuck Money pay-per-view. AJ Styles and Seth Rollins finished their Universal Championship match hot as a volcano. Kofi Kingston and Kevin Owens surpassed them in the WWE Championship match later on. Before all of that happened though, WWE pulled out one of the most brilliant booking decisions in a quick minute by orchestrating the transition of the Smackdown Women's Championship from Becky Lynch to Charlotte Flair to Bayley. If the snippet of show from 8 PM ET until around 10:20 PM was all that Money in the Bank was, then it would've been one of the better non-Big 4 shows in recent memory.

Double or Nothing Loses a Huge Match

Neville is off Double or Nothing
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Just eight days before the airing of Double or Nothing, All Elite Wrestling's official debut show, the card took a major hit. PAC vs. Adam Page, which was reportedly slotted to be the main event, was scrapped after "creative differences." The news dropped Saturday. PAC is also currently the Dragon Gate Open the Dream Gate Champion, the promotion's top title. Dragon Gate has wished for him not to lose any matches outside the promotion to keep him and the title strong. In order to put various opponents of his over, he has worked time-limit draws, but apparently, AEW brass strongly wanted Page to win the match. PAC will now not appear on the show, although it is assumed that his partnership with AEW is not in jeopardy. The two shot a match with a disqualification finish in England with an angle explaining the match being scrapped.

Friday, May 17, 2019

NXT In 60 Seconds for May 15, 2019

BOMBS AWAAAAAAAAAAAAAY
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Beth Phoenix: replaces Percy Watson at the announce table

Viking Cougar Mellencamp: come out
Full Sailors: WAR! chants
VCM: Over the past few weeks we've raided Monday Night Raw and brutalized the tag division. We're ar from done there but since we're still the champs...well, we'd like Mr. Regal to please join us out here right now.
Master Regal: comes out
Full Sailors: chant for him
VCM: Since there's no one that can take the titles from us, we relinquish the titles. put them on Regal
Full Sailors: D-Bry NO! chants
Master Regal: I must say that I'm surprised. I

RIP Ashley Massaro

RIP to a real one
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Ashley Massaro, former WWE wrestler, Playboy model and Survivor contestant, died yesterday. She was 39 years old. The cause of death has not been released yet, although police do not have a cause of death, they are classifying it as "non-criminal." The Blast reported that a rescue call came from her home in Smithtown, NY at 5:23 AM yesterday morning (May 16). She died at the hospital. She is survived by her daughter, Alexa.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 259

Rhodes' AEW will be in good shape in a year, although decidedly without his wins/losses mattering shtick
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

I was asked this question in a prior TweetBag with no real clarity of thought (and also with a longer timeframe), but now with the announcement of their landing on a prime cable television network with a streaming service to back it, I feel confident that All Elite Wrestling will be in a good spot next year. I feel like they'll surpass Ring of Honor pretty easily, since they have TNT and ROH has whatever godforsaken obscure network they're on now in addition to whatever Sinclair local stations they're on. They won't be close to WWE in terms of total revenue, but I can see them being culturally relevant and talked about as the "second-place" promotion.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

WWE Oddsmakers: Money in the Bank, Men's Match

Is the briefcase McIntyre's to lose?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Yesterday, I handicapped the women's Money in the Bank match. Today, I will handicap the men's match, which I feel will probably close the show after reports that the McMahon-Levesque-Dunn regime at the top of the company is blaming women's wrestling for its recent downturn in ratings. Sure, it's not the fact that the company has sucked at creating stars in the last who knows how many years or that the scripts regularly get rewritten because an insane septuagenarian has a change of heart. It's the women, sure.

All Elite Wrestling Is Officially on TNT

AEW made it to TNT
All Elite Wrestling, the company backed by Tony Khan's billions and run by the collective of Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, has found a home on television, and guess where that home is...

Yep, TNT, the home of World Championship Wrestling Monday Nitro for the better part of a decade, will air the fledgling wrestling company's television output. This deal has been rumored for awhile now with conflicting reports on what the financial situation would be. More than a few people reported that AEW would be paying for time on TNT like their wrestling was an infomercial. This practice may seem backwards given how much money networks are tripping over themselves to give WWE, but it's not an uncommon practice historically at least. More than a few promotions in the territory days bought time on local television, the most notable being Memphis/Mid-South. However, they could buy the time locally because local TV was cheap and Memphis was one of the most lucrative, well-attended territories.

Follow-Up: Lars Sullivan Fined, To Undergo Sensitivity Training

Sullivan's been fined
Photo Credit: WWE.com
So last week, I wrote about how Lars Sullivan shouldn't have a job. I bemoaned that WWE wouldn't do anything about it because the people in charge share the same values, only not as vitriolic in a public venue where they can be documented. The only way any action would be made is if someone went to the sponsors, which would then trigger a public relations headache. Sponsor-action has precedent, as Mars Wrigley Confectionery put pressure on them to remove Fabulous Moolah's name from the Women's WrestleMania Battle Royal after people pressured them not to name such a match after an abusive pimp. As it turns out, MWC once again was the player that would put the pressure on WWE to get something done.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

WWE Oddsmakers: Money in the Bank, Women's Match

Will Mandy Rose be standing victorious over Ember Moon and others on Sunday?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Every year, I handicap the field for Money in the Bank, and this year, I may be more woefully prepared for it than in any other year because I am woefully divorced from the weekly product. However, being wildly uninformed has never stopped me from prognosticating before, and I am shamelessly unafraid of being wrong. Therefore, I will continue the tradition this year for both the men's and women's matches. Today, I will run down the women's match and give each of its competitors odds. How fun!

The Field - 1000/1

This includes anyone who isn't already in the match except for one, whom I will cover later. I don't see WWE coming with an out-of-leftfield choice, not even Shayna Baszler, who really should lose the NXT World Women's Championship at Takeover: Bridgeport. The winner will come from the announced, or from a more prominent position.

RIP Silver King

Rest in Peace, Good Brother
Photo via WWE.com
César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón, better known as the luchador Silver King, passed away Saturday in London, England. He was 51 years old. Silver King was wrestling for the Lucha Libre World promotion against Juventud Guerrera, when he collapsed suddenly from what is believed to be a myocardial infarction. Medics administered CPR to him in the ring, but he died before an ambulance got there. The show was cancelled when the incident happened. According to The Cubs Fan (via his @luchablog account), Silver King collapsed after delivering a clothesline to Guerrera. He collapsed to all fours and then his body shut down. Someone took video of the whole thing, but out of consideration to people who may not want to see a person die on video, I will not be sharing it.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Tale of Two Matches

Another Taker match? snooooooze
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Both WWE and All Elite Wrestling announced matches for upcoming supercards today, the former for its latest Saudi Fuck Money show, Saudi Super Showdown, and the latter for its formal debut as a company, Double or Nothing. One match will resonate with more people, obviously, so it might seem unfair to compare the two, but when time has created enough distance between the present and those two shows, the other one will seem far more important to the advancement of the art of wrestling. I'll start with WWE's first:

It's the Spectacle and the Stars, Stupid

Reigns is a star, but who else is? That's a problem.
Photo Credit: WWE.com
About two weeks ago, friend of the blog Sean Reuter posted something at Cageside Seats about how Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones showed how WWE is lacking in terms of audience satisfaction. It's a good piece that touches on why at least the MCU has been able to engender such a positive response, both monetarily and critically while chiding WWE for the same things that everyone's been chiding them for over the last, I don't know, 50-plus years of its existence. If WWE runs a storyline, an amount of people above replacement will come out to critique its narrative direction, and rightly so. While the company can do beginnings well, the only times it has achieved satisfactory resolutions on a grand scale have been by accident, most recently with Becky Lynch's coronation at WrestleMania 35, which only happened after she went supernova and crashed the all-blonde party that had been written in stone since Brock Lesnar sent a confused and tired crowd home even more dissatisfied than they'd have been if Roman Reigns had beaten him.

Friday, May 10, 2019

NXT In 60 Seconds for May 8, 2019

To quote Rod Stewart, "Oh, no!  Not again!"
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Mia Yim and Bianca BelAir: both come out to solid pops
Both: exchange holds on the mat, go for dropkicks at the same time and come up flashing the Wakanda Forever! handsign
Bianca: I see you! I see you, okay!
Mia: Yeah, I see you! Right? offers the Hand of Friendship
Bianca: feints reciprocating then throws her down by the hair GURL. UH uh! I'm un de fea
Mia: kicks her in the arm and lands the dropkick Who do you think you tried that on? Legroll! Basement dropkick! Strike party! Pele! Cannonball!
Bianca: NOPE! Stomphole! Cravate! 747!
Mia: Kickout!
Bianca: starts working her back over You want my spot? Fight me!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 258

Did Bliss' instant cash-in help freshen up Money in the Bank?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

On one hand, absence makes the heart grow fonder. The fact that both briefcases were burned before Thanksgiving has given the audience a reason to look forward to whoever wins them this time around. Fans haven't had the Sword of Damocles hanging over proceedings, so it's fresh. On the other hand, well, WWE's creative rot is settling in again like it has for most of the last decade outside of a few spurts. WrestleMania was great, but everything after has felt like throwing shit against the wall in an attempt to please the whims of a septuagenarian, which is never the recipe for success. So I'm not sure it's redeemed completely, but it does feel fresher than it has in the past. That doesn't at all answer the question of how many people are gonna watch it live, since Vince McMahon and his crack team of schedulers didn't take into consideration that maybe putting its fifth (or fourth depending on your feelings for Survivor Series) biggest pay-per-view/Network event on opposite the series finale of Game of Thrones wasn't such a good idea. That's a totally different conversation though.