Monday, July 6, 2015

Instant Feedback: Talent

A collection of terrible people, judged by how good they are, could be the future
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE likes to say that it tells stories. It's a fair assessment; WWE does tell stories in the same way that your uncle who had a little too much regret in his life and a little too much to drink at Thanksgiving does. But a story needs characters just as much as it needs a narrative structure. What kinds of characters does WWE employ? Well, the protagonists, antagonists, and background characters all tend to be shitty people. Terrible, awful, shitty human beings interact with each other all show long. Nobility is a lost art, as if WWE only embraces the dirt worst people who populate the crowds, y'know, the ones who chant "PUPPIES!" or eat up The Rock's homophobia and misogyny.

The Bellas Begged Vince McMahon to Call Up NXT Women after Mania

The Bellas, shown flanking Alicia Fox here, would welcome competition from NXT
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Nikki and Brie Bella are the avatars for the shitty past and problematic present of WWE women. They were hired straight from modeling and had a rough go in the ring up until around the autumn of last year. Their story arcs have been more advertisements for Total Divas rather than self-contained narratives within the RAW/Smackdown/pay-per-view cycle, and they represent everything that the current crop of NXT favorites are not. One might think that would make them protective of their spots ahead of the apparent fans' choices, but honestly, I think they've been pegged wrong from day one of their second stint with the company.

NXT to Takeover Brooklyn

Whoa
Graphics Credit: WWE.com
The next NXT live special was announced on Friday, and it stands now as the most ambitious one ever. For the first time, the Takeover series will leave Full Sail University and its normal timeslot to hit up the Barclay's Center on August 22, which is the day before SummerSlam. The special will be aired live on WWE Network as is the custom. The biggest news is that this special will be held in the largest arena to host NXT by far. The developmental/premium brand has mostly played to smaller venues, whether at home at Full Sail or during the infancy of its touring life. The Barclay's Center, however, is a full-sized arena that will also host SummerSlam and RAW the next two nights respectively.

Smackdown: Friendship is Magic

Instead of fighting, Wyatt and Ambrose should be friends
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It won't be Canada Day when you read this, and it wasn't even Canada Day when I watched this episode, but it was Canada Day when it aired, so I feel justified in wishing everyone a happy Canada Day! Swig some maple syrup in celebration.

Should Be Friends – Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose
I'm pretty sure I wrote about this back when they were feuding full-time, but I still believe Wyatt and Ambrose should be pals. They work well together, and even though I've seen them wrestle each other many times I still like seeing their matches, even when they aren't terribly exciting, as was the case on Smackdown. All of this points to a certain amount of chemistry that could be the foundation of a beautiful friendship. Bray Wyatt, at least, would never leave Ambrose out of his plans for messy revenge, the way that Roman Reigns did last week.

The Defending Champions Are IN

Two in a row?
Graphics via ChikaraPro.com

The first native Chikara trio to be announced for this year's King of Trios tournament are the three men who won the damn thing last year. Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive, and Flex Rumblecrunch, known collectively as the Devastation Corporation under Sidney Bakabella's tutelage, will attempt to do what no other trio has ever done - repeat as KOT medalists. Even as their larger force last year, the Flood, was flagging, they tore through the field last year en route to their emphatic victory. Since then, Smashmaster and McMassive have collected Los Campeonatos de Parejas, and the three as members of The Wrecking Crew in the Challenge of the Immortals, are leading the pack. They're still riding high as one of the most protected groups in all of wrestling.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 257

Mason, a veteran of the English scene, is Cabana's guest this week
Photo via Catch-Arena.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: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 257 (July 1, 2015)
Run Time: 1:08:04
Guest: James Mason

Thoughts on Beast in the East

This show felt different from top to bottom
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Note: I'm not going to write a full review for this show for various reasons.

Beast in the East was very much an experimentation on behalf of WWE. People have said that it felt like a house show, except the only matches that would have appeared on such a card would have been the two title matches. Feuds drive the circuit, and I doubt most of the other matches, whether televised or not, didn't fit that mold. The way the wrestlers worked, especially John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Kane, and Wade Barrett in the nominal main event, evoked that sort of house show ethos, but it was different enough to feel different, if that makes any sense.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Andrew Everett, Trevor Lee, And Why PWG's Booking Is So Frustrating

Everett (top) and Lee were Tag Champions... for only one show
Photos Credit: Devin Chen
In a lot of ways, PWG is a heel territory. This isn't a bad thing. It is not a value judgment on the men behind the curtain, but a statement of fact. The other thing that is true based on the first statement is that the Young Bucks are always at the top of the place, and when they're not, it's not for very long. And because that's true, what happened at Mystery Vortex III is a lot of things, but surprising isn't going to be one of them. Still, it's infuriating. Deeply infuriating.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 72

Tenay is Ross' guest this week
Photo Credit: Lee South/ImpactWrestling.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: The Ross Report
Episode: 72 (July 1, 2015)
Run Time: 1:33:40
Guest: Mike Tenay (20:25)

Everybody Took the Week off From Watching Wrestling

Ethan Carter III's big moment was not seen by many people
Photo Credit: Lee South/ImpactWrestling.com
The ratings for RAW on Monday were abysmally bad if you haven't read already. It drew its second-lowest non-holiday rating ever, going up against not a whole lot in terms of competition either. ESPN aired a baseball game on national television, and that was it. Anyway, longtime readers of TWB know my thoughts about ratings, or at least paying attention to week-to-week ratings. Plus, it still was the highest-rated show on Monday, so it's not really that much of a big deal.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 127

I see ROH going across the pond soon
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 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 afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

Ring of Honor is actually expanding, it seems. Expanding companies tend to try things like "get on television in other countries," especially English-speaking ones where it already has promoted shows. I don't want to get your (or anyone's) hopes up by saying I think some network in the UK will pick up ROH soon, but with TNA approaching its death-knell, it might open up a door for ROH somewhere around the fall. Don't quote me on this, however, but I wouldn't be shocked at all.

Inter Species Wrestling Is Going to Own Halloween

Perfect company, perfect show name, perfect date
Graphics via Inter Species Wrestling Facebook
Wrestling and Halloween should go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Yet, the only company that has really embraced the ghoulish holiday was World Championship Wrestling. No one has picked up the mantel since, until now, when the most appropriate company to co-opt Halloween has finally come out and claimed the holiday for its own. Inter Species Wrestling, the Connecticut-and-Quebec based adult-directed, mask-heavy promotion, will be running Candy Apples and Razorblades on the actual day itself.

Best Coast Bias: Opposites React

Vintage Oka--Bálor!
Photo Credit: WWE.com
For someone from across the pond, Finn Bálor sure is the embodiment of a favorite longstanding American pop culture archetype - the reluctant hero.  It's up to Becky Lynch to shed tears because of his humanity and talk about how he's the wave of the future; up to Jason Alberts to talk about how he went from gangly teen to the real deal Holyfield on two separate continents before settling down Florida way, and up to Sami Zayn to be the Waco Kid to the Bart that the artist formerly known as Prince (idea nearly free of charge, WWE) is.  Seeing him talk in these special looks ramping up to the biggest Saturday of his career, you can almost palpably feel that he'd rather talk about Legos, his connection to the fans, or how receiving their art hits him in a special place since he has now gone from being that kid to being the man they chalk, sketch, and/or paint about than the fact part of what gives him his unique aura between the ropes is the fact that he puts in capital W work once he gets between them.

The State of Inspire Pro, Part I: Inspire Pro Championship

Graphics via InspireProWrestling.com
Hello, and welcome to what will become a six-part series on the State of Inspire Pro. As you will have noticed, I did not provide a review of Clash at the Bash II that happened way back on June 21 for a variety of reasons. The main one being that it was a show where a whole mess of shit went down and I didn’t think anyone would want to slog through 20,000 words of me detailing everything in a single sitting. There’s really a lot of information to take in. On top of that, nearly everything segues from that show to the one happening on August 9, Fade to Black. So, I felt it was in everyone’s best interests if I changed things up a bit (I can never stick with one style and probably never will) and provided a series of reviews/previews of CATB2 and FtB respectively, and do so broken down by category, once per week, heading into what is shaping up to be an even bigger show at Clash was. Crazy as that sounds.

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat June 30

The gang talks about this match and more
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: June 30, 2015
Run Time: 1:02:07
Guest: None