Monday, October 21, 2019

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for October 21, 2019

That ball's outta here.
Photo Credit: Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports
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. Jose Altuve (Last Week: Not Ranked) - The Astros are going back to the World Series thanks to a walk-off homer from the diminutive but talented second baseman in Game Six of the American League Championship Series. The Astros will look for their second title in three years facing the upstart Washington Nationals, who made their first World Series in franchise history, whether in DC or Montreal. It's a shame the Nats still aren't the Expos, because this World Series could've been a match between the 'Spos and 'Stros, baby.

2. Darby Allin (Last Week: 1) - Allin may have faltered in his attempt to win the AEW Championship from Chris Jericho, but man, he looked impressive in defeat. He's only 22, and he has such a grasp of the moment. He's gonna be huge someday and someday soon.

3. Lamar Jackson (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Do not say to me the words "Philadelphia Eagles." Anyway, Jackson was titanic in the Ravens' road victory over the Seahawks in one of the toughest places to play in the league. He won with his arm and with his legs, and he's on pace to break Michael Vick's rushing record for a QB. Jackson is so likable and talented that he's singlehandedly changed my opinion on the Ravens franchise.

The Wrestling War Goes Global

Coming to America
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com 
American wrestling is undergoing rejuvenation to levels not seen since the downslope of the Monday Night War. Much as late World Championship Wrestling posed no threat to the then-World Wrestling Federation starting in 2000 or so, All Elite Wrestling probably isn't at a point where it can affect what main roster WWE does in terms of revenue overall. However, one can look at the ratings of the last three weeks and see that AEW's Dynamite program is kicking the ever-loving shit out of NXT and that Friday Night Smackdown ratings are sliding into the toilet only after three weeks. Once again, one cannot discern a pattern after three weeks, but the opening signs show that sooner rather than later, AEW might be player on the level of 1997 WCW.

the Black and Gold Standard, Episode 5 (10/16/19)

Just like old times, more or less
all photos courtesy of WWE.com
NXT has problems.

Real problems.

More accurately, real life problems. The ratings are continuing to go down by degrees and remain secondary to Dynamite; more concerningly, some injuries to the upper midcard are starting to have on screen consequences, keeping a narrative from taking hold within the North American division.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 277

I ain't 'fraid of no ghost
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:

This is hard for me because the first movie that I really noticed for its soundtrack was Batman Forever, which came out in 1995. Before that, the earliest soundtrack I own is from 1992 (Singles). So this might be a cop-out answer, but I mean, no other movie soundtrack from the '80s has "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr., so my answer is Ghostbusters because it has the song "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dy-No-MITE, Episode 3

The future of AEW right here
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Last week on All Elite Wrestling Dynamite, Chris Jericho revealed a name for his stable, Darby Allin won a shot at Le Champion and then assailed him with his skateboard, Riho and Britt Baker roughhoused their way to a tag win in preparation for their match this week, and Jon Moxley not only confronted Kenny Omega again, but showed his disdain for PAC attacking his target before he could. Episode three emanated from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA this week, and it was a show built on title bouts and tag matches.

Lucha Sneak Attack! - Dynamite opened this week with Feníx and Pentagón, Jr. waylaying Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian of SCU in advance of their first-round tag tournament match with the Best Friends. It was a vicious beatdown, the kind that really gets the blood pumping, and it ended with Penta spiking Daniels on the ramp with a package piledriver and Scorpio Sky making the save before Feníx did the same to Kazarian. The good news is that the Lucha Bros. get to be the BAMFs that they need to be in order to get the most out of them. The bad news is that SCU was positioned as a sympathetic babyface team when, uh, they come out and say every town they're in is the worst town they ever have been in. Again, it feels like AEW is either playing with shades of gray or they really don't care about keeping alignments consistent, which I get it, everyone in the company is over at this point. Somewhere down the line, I wonder if it'll be an issue.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

On Mike Bennett and Free Movement of Labor

If Bennett wants out of WWE, he should allowed to be out
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Mike Bennett (called Mike Kanellis in WWE) signed a five-year extension with WWE earlier this year. That's why it was so surprising, at least without any other context, that he'd ask for his release from WWE on Monday. The reason he gave in that Notes screenshot was that he was only wrestling one time a week. While I would be content to be paid money to work for 15 minutes a week at best, I'm also not a prideful professional wrestler, one who takes pride in their output and isn't nominally in the business as a means to an end. I buy Bennett's reasoning only so much.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Does the Hidden Blade Look Too Good to Be Worked?

Does the Hidden Blade look too good to be a staged move?
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
Bret Hart once said that the thing he was proudest of during his career was that he never hurt anyone. Part of that is luck, yes. Even in the olden days with lower risks, fewer dates, and lesser impact, people still got hurt doing wrestling. Whether or not it was easier to work several matches without an injury happening in them, to you or your opponent, it is still a point of pride for a wrestler to be able to say they never saw an opponent get hurt in a match. I don't want to say that attitude has eroded completely, because if wrestlers didn't protect each other, it would be MMA in there. However, you see it with a preponderance in dives in WWE with less than half the roster being able to catch their opponents correctly. You see it with wrestlers bragging about the marks they leave on others with their chops or how they're so macho on how red their chests get from being chopped. Everything has to look stiff nowadays. The desire to make everything look as real as possible (in an age where more and more people are in on the joke than when Hart was active) significantly decreases the margin of error for keeping you or your opponent from getting hurt. This isn't to say that all dangerous looking moves are bad; I'd venture to say that most of them are okay with moderation and a company that doesn't run its roster into the ground ('sup, WWE).

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for October 14, 2019

The coolest
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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. Darby Allin (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Look, you can laugh at wrestling being behind the times or levy that it is inherently uncool, but honestly, most people who watch it are out of high school now. No one watches wrestling to be cool. No one ever watched wrestling to be cool outside of maybe a few months in 1998 when everyone loved Steve Austin kicking his boss' ass. Darby Allin flying down the ramp in a skateboard to beat the shit out of Chris Jericho isn't "cool," but it was cool to wrestling fans, cool to me, visually impressive and something not tried since probably the beginning of the '90s. And really, the Dynamic Dudes were an old guy's idea of what skaters were. Darby Allin was born in the halfpipe. Darby Allin IS the halfpipe. Authenticity is key, and Allin may be the most authentic wrestler going right now.

2. Maki Itoh (Last Week: 3) - Do you really think a typhoon could do any damage to Maki Itoh? You are a fool if you think so.

3. Orange Cassidy (Last Week: 8) - Pfft, so what if he got the biggest pop of the night Wednesday? Shhh, no big deal.

POWER In Being Different

Power's first episode shows promise in being different
Graphics via NationalWrestlingAlliance.com
The National Wrestling Alliance has been promising some return to prominence ever since Billy Corgan bought the rights to the name. While I wouldn't say it's in the upper echelon of promotions right now like another company that just debuted television, All Elite Wrestling, having a fully formed wrestling program on a platform even as public as YouTube is a start. NWA Power dropped for streaming this past Thursday, October 10. It was, much like the televised wrestling of the '80s, shot in front of a live studio audience. The only match that ran over ten minutes was the main event pitting NWA World's Champion Nick Aldis against Tim Storm. It was in every sense of the word a throwback to the olden days, and it was refreshing, not in a sense that all wrestling should be like what the NWA produced, but that it was so different from what everyone else was producing.

the Black and Gold Standard: Episode 4 (10/9/19)

The Champ of the Hour
all photos courtesy of WWE.com
If you're reading #IV of the BGS, there are two things that are certain: you're probably having a better week than Clayton Kershaw, and you know that so far the ratings scoreboard reads Dynamite 2, NXT 0.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. PA Turnpike Between New Jersey and Valley Forge

Say it, Frenchy, SAY IT
Photo Credit: FoodNetwork.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:

This is a tricky question, because yes, I can say New England clam chowder is the best soup, but it's also a soup that has the biggest disparity between good and bad. The best clam chowders are briny and creamy with just-right clams and hearty potatoes. The worst clam chowders aren't fit to use for wallpaper glue. It's also not like you can only find the worst shit at a few places. No, the split is like 50/50, and there's no middle ground whatsoever. If you want the "best on average" soup, it's probably boring old chicken noodle soup. The best chicken noodle soups, usually homemade by an old grandmother (if it's a Jewish grandmother, it's matzoh balls instead of noodles), are up there with the best chowders. The worst chicken soups? Eh, they're still not so bad, and they have medicinal properties, I swear by it. So if you want the best of the best, it's New England clam chowder. If you want reasonable assurance of quality, it's some kind of chicken broth soup with starchy shit in it.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Dy-No-MITE, Episode 2

The best ever, no hyperbole
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Last week, Chris Jericho introduced his posse, Riho made history as the first ever All Elite Wrestling Women's World Champion, and Jim Ross didn't say anything embarrassing. All in all, it was a creative success for the fledgling company's televised debut. How would they follow it up? Well, that's what I'm about to unpack here in the second edition of Dy-No-MITE.

The Young Bucks Are Not Cowards - The show opened with the first match in the AEW Tag Team Championship tournament, a blockbuster pitting EVPs Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks, against Private Party, who match them hop for hop in high-flying prowess. While at some points in the match the bodies were flying high, a lot of the match went back to the Bucks, especially Matt, working over the upstarts, in the style of a methodical mid-'80s heel. There were a few spots where I thought Matt had a submission victory locked up with the sharpshooter. The match was laid out superbly though, basically a cat-and-mouse affair where the Marq Quen and Isaiah Kassidy no matter what the situation would find a way out of peril.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I Don't Miss WWE

You won't miss out by dropping the E
I haven't watched a minute of WWE programming since the penultimate match of Money in the Bank. This isn't so much a brag as it is a statement of fact. I hadn't watched weekly programming since late 2018 on a regular basis, coming back only for the infamous RAW and Smackdown after WrestleMania. My WWE Network sub lapsed when I got a new debit card in July, and I decided not to renew. I used to think that no matter how frustrating it was to watch the company that I would miss out on the party, or let my wrestling fandom lapse. For most of my life, WWE was wrestling. It seems growing up in a then-World Wrestling Federation town and getting into wrestling when the territories collapsed (thanks to Vince McMahon and WWE) and when World Championship Wrestling was just starting will do that to a kid. When the Monday Night Wars were going on, I saw WWE as "the good guy" against evil corporate WCW. When I came back from my hiatus watching in 2008, I wasn't turning on Impact.

Japanese Wrestlers Don't Need Translation

The new Women's Tag Champs don't need a translator
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Madusa/Alundra Blayze has logged onto Twitter again to give an opinion to the world. Thankfully, it's not to gather everyone onto the Trump Train again or to cast aspersions at trans people. This time, she made a public suggestion that would also land her a job back on television with WWE:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

AEW Dark Is The Best Idea of the Year

Allin is the centerpiece to the first episode of Dark
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Wrestling tapings, live or otherwise, often have more matches than what make the telecast. These "dark" matches are for the live crowd only, but sometimes, they can be interesting enough to warrant wider release. While wrestling is still a live experience first and foremost, there's no denying that with the insane availability of avenues for release putting these matches out there makes too much sense. There's no need anymore for "dark" matches. I would wager that most people who go to wrestling shows live don't go for exclusive matches anyway, which I feel would be the only reason not to keep cameras rolling.