Monday, October 20, 2014

Instant Feedback: Tropes vs. Wrestlers

Dammit, don't make Ambrose into just another guy
Photo Credit: WWE.com
In terms of narrative direction, WWE does one thing exceedingly well. This company knows how to turn its hottest wrestlers into "just another guy." The altar to its top star, whether it be John Cena or one of his forefathers, is soaked with the blood of up and comers who dared demand room made at the top. Sometimes, those wrestlers make it to the top of the food chain, but they never make it the same. They always lose something, because they have to make it on WWE's terms, not their own. Whether it be Ricky Steamboat or CM Punk or anyone in between who had a flicker of a spark, the WWE machine uncannily was able to grind them down into a fine paste before they were able to be rehydrated. The notable exception was Steve Austin, who made it because the company was lagging behind another, and because he hit so big, every character going forward had to be something like him.

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings, October 20

YOU NEVER GO FULL MEMPHIS, NICOLE
Photo Credit: @IchibanDrunk
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. Nicole Matthews (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Matthews unexpectedly won the SHIMMER World Championship this past weekend thanks to a timely fireball to the face of Madison Eagles to get the deciding pin in the four way title match. Matthews has been, no pun intended, on fire this year with her second big title win, as she's also the reigning and defending Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling Champion too. Some say that getting the title with shenanigans is cheap, but I say if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. Ninjas reign supreme, y'all.

2. Madison Eagles (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Of course, Eagles, a former SHIMMER Champion as well, has a legitimate gripe over being scorched in the face. Then again, being a native of Australia, the fire couldn't have been that much of an obstacle for the Punisher. Grabbing the morning mail is an activity where the average Aussie risks life and limb. Ficus plants are marginally deadly on the Continent Down Under. I'm sure she'll rebound just finely after taking a fireball to the face.

3. Filet Mignon (Last Week: Not Ranked) OFFICIAL HOLZERMAN HUNGERS SPONSORED RANKING - Anyone who says this cut of meat has no flavor has had it prepared wrong for them their whole lives. The king of steaks.

Best Coast Bias: Reedemable At The Pay Window

This here what you call redemption
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Coming up Thursday at 9 pm EST on Stamford New Classics, the Sami Zayn Redemption.

As opaque as things have been between himself and his friend frenemy friend for now at least Adrian Neville in the past few weeks, Zayn's promo after Baron Corbin beat some guy so fast time may have reversed was not. (It should also be noted that Alex Riley of all people calling Sami Zayn a choker is like a Raiders fan...well, like a Raiders fan saying anything this year that isn't "Dear God, what I have done?") He didn't dodge the loss that happened in last week's main to Titus O'Neil, and said he was sick and tired of it. His eyes were still set on the prize, and as the crowd was applauding him yet again a wild Tyson Kidd emerged with an InZayn shirt on to ruin the feel-good moment. Zayn was never going to win the Big X (a bit disappointing that Sami didn't have a rejoinder to that, since Kidd is currently on the outside looking in by edict of his last lost to the Man That Gravity Forgot), and how dare he lie to the NXT Universe, the people behind TK All Day? While Zayn got a You Got Served chant going by asking if Kidd had Nattie's permission to appear, he hit right back with saying he'd rather be on Total Divas than a total loser. Eventually, it sussed out they'd renew hostilities in the main event.

RIP Ox Baker

 RIP Ox Baker
Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated via WWE.com
Ox Baker, the pro wrestling legend known for his devastating Heart Punch, long, bushy moustache, t-shirts with ostentatious messages, and post-wrestling career in bit movie roles, has passed away. He was 80 years old. Baker's death was announced earlier this morning by Jerry Lawler on Twitter. The cause of death is unknown at this point.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat w/Chris Jericho

Jericho joined the boys this past episode
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Cheap Heat
Episode: Oct. 16, 2014
Run Time: 1:16:17
Guest: Chris Jericho

UT Supports UT

Photo via @QCosby17

After years of employer mandated reclusion thanks to a gimmick that required fans to believe he was a legitimate zombie automaton controlled by ashes in an urn, Undertaker has been turning up in the wild with astounding frequency in the last year or so. Just about a month ago, he participated in a fun run in Austin with Brandon Stroud, and yesterday, he was in attendance for the University of Texas' thrilling last-second win over Iowa State. Either the man is *this* close to retirement, or even he knows that the old kayfabe is dead and no one really needs to believe he's a shoot-zombie anymore. Then again, that illusion went out the window first when he came back as a biker, and second when he asked everyone to believe that he was super-serious about being a MMA-tapout artist with STRATS and FORMS.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 220

The man who cofounded SHIMMER is on the Art of Wrestling this week
Photo Credit: Gregory Davis/Dirty Dirty Sheets
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 220
Run Time: 1:11:13
Guest: Dave Prazak

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 96

Why take his side in any wrestler dispute?
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 140 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 morning (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

I notice this annoying phenomenon all the time from people who probably don't even mean to toady for a megalithic corporate entity that needs amateur quality control enforcement as much as I need a fecal transplant. However, it is not at all common to pro wrestling. How else could the Republican party run on a platform of protecting the lax taxation of the super rich and not get all out revolt from the poorest members of its voting public? It's all about promoting an atmosphere of desire and opportunity. The only thing is that instead of defending Republican brass on the slight chance that maybe you'll be rich one day, stans for the McMahon family don't really have a whole lot of personal gain that could be brought through their defense. Okay, so you're going to stick up for a monolithic corporation over someone who actually experienced the treatment behind the scenes. What's the benefit? Do these people think WWE is going to push their favorite wrestler if they defend the company in a public forum? I just don't get it either.

Best Coast Bias: We HOSS FIGHT On Tuesday Nights

A welcome renewal of hostilities
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Mae West may've once said too much of a good thing is wonderful, but she wasn't trying to book the biggest professional wrestling game in town in the 21st century, either.

At times it feels like WWE's roster is like the one rich kid in school growing up who not only had all the toys you wanted but some stuff you'd never even heard of that you didn't realize would complete your first grade life until the little sawed off brought it to Show and Tell and left chunks of your brain matter all over the desk. While this is generally great for John Cena and anybody else who ends up either in or on the front lines against the Authority, there's a lot to be desired once the absolute top shelf has been cleared.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 35

The man behind this drawing and more was one of Ross' guests this week
Art Credit: Rob Schamberger
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: The Ross Report
Episode: 35
Run Time: 1:34:47
Guest: Brian Shields (29:18), Rob Schamberger (56:30)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pro Wrestling SKOOPS on The Wrestling Blog: Issue 5

What kind of news dropped this week? FIND OUT BELOW
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Well, well, well, lookit who has returned again this week to give you all the hot NUGGETS of wrestling news that the Surgeon General DEMANDS that you have. It is I, HORB FLERBMINBER, and I am here on The Wrestling Blog spinning to you all the most pertinent news and eXXXclusive scoops that you can't find anywhere else on the 'Net. Dave Meltzer wishes he got the scoops I did. Wade Keller would eat pond scum if it meant he could fish for news like I can. WALTER CRONKITE DIED BECAUSE HE WASN'T HALF THE NEWSMAN I WAS. You are tuned into the right place at the right time for NEWS and SCOOPS.

Guest Post: Kris Travis Needs Your Help

He's got cancer. Give him a hand, alright?
Photo/Graphics via Preston City Wrestling site
Kieran Shiach is a podcast personality, certified WrestleBro, and one of the most rabid members of the English branch of the Chikarmy. You can find him on the Have a Nice Day Podcast, but with this post, he has a special plea to help out an indie wrestler in England who has recently disclosed a nasty cancer diagnosis. Note, because he is from England, all superfluous "u"s have been kept intact.

The first time I saw Kris Travis wrestle was around a year ago. As part of TIDAL Championship Wrestling’s debut tour, he teamed with Martin Kirby (known together as Project Ego) to take on Mark Haskins and Ring of Honor’s Adam Cole. When Haskins and Cole came out, the fans noticed a great similarity between the two men, and started chanting “ARE YOU TWINS?!” For the rest of the match, the crowd, the referee and all four men in the ring treated Haskins as Cole and Cole as Haskins. It was a unique, unplanned, hilarious addition to the match enabled by four skilled improvisers and great wrestlers.

Your Midweek Links: Kharma Speaks

Kharma/Amazing Kong sat down for an interview
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It's hump day, so here are some links to get you through the rest of the week:

Wrestling Links:

- The Only Way Is Suplex Interviews Kharma [Part 1|Part 2]

- The Best and Worst of RAW: Chrisley Knows Best and Worst [With Spandex]

- WWE Reportedly Announces 40 Man Rumble, Here Are Five Predictions [Wrassle Rap]

- Ten WWE Superstars Who Had Near-Death Experiences [What Culture]

- Where's the Beast? Why No Lesnar Makes No Sense [TJR Wrestling]

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 159

Austin answers listener calls
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 159
Run Time: 1:11:34
Guest: None

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are the Fans the Real Heels?

Bryan is a poster boy for good guys acting bad, but is it because the fans are really bad people?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE started running a bumper ad before WrestleMania, back in the halcyon days of an apparently healthy Daniel Bryan and RAWs that flowed as smoothly as a perfectly poured Guinness straight from draught. It flashed statistics of how many people producing a WWE show took, paying off with Bryan walking into the arena doing his YES! chants, only except no one was in the stands. The message was to show WWE's gratitude towards its Universe by saying without the fans, said Universe didn't exist. It's a sweet message, if not one that's been relayed a bunch of times by various sports leagues and entertainment outfits. Bryan as the emissary made the most sense because he had become the essence of a folk hero, a wrestler that the kids and the jerk-ass nerds like you and me could get behind, one who seemingly united the "LET'S GO CENA" and "CENA SUCKS" crowds.