Monday, April 24, 2017

The Optics of Pushing Jinder Mahal Right Now

Mahal is the number one contender to Orton's title, but why?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Jinder Mahal is the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship right now. I don't know if his title match vs. Randy Orton (or Bray Wyatt, I guess?) will headline Backlash or feature as support for the Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles United States Championship contest that's almost guaranteed to happen (unless WWE pulls a massive Charlie Kelly and gives the strap back to Chris Jericho), but it's definitely something that's going to happen. The timing seems curious at best. Mahal is coming off stooging at WrestleMania and his first show as a member of the Smackdown roster for Rob Gronkowski (and Mojo Rawley I guess), and before that was a barely-seen member of the RAW roster. Of pushes that came out of nowhere, this not only rivals but surpasses Jack Swagger's Money in the Bank win or Sheamus' quick capturing of the WWE Championship after coming to the RAW roster. However, at least both of those guys were relatively pushed. Why is Mahal getting his main event shine now, of all times?

Ain't Gonna Stop Me Now: Total Divas Season 6, Episodes 11 and 12

Renee Young is the top of the heap for the last two episodes
Photo Credit: WWE.com
When Total Divas returned a couple of weeks back, they did so with the nice dramatic seismic shift of the 2016 WWE Draft. This worked nicely as a narrative device to split up the season because holy shit look at where everyone is going. And said episode seemed to imply a real split in the whole lineup, especially when the following episode involves exclusively folks on the Smackdown Live roster. But it didn't quite work out like that. When you expect Total Divas to get weird, it'll get traditional as hell just to make you wonder just what you were to expect. And also, as you can tell, I've given myself two episodes to power rank because sometimes the combo works (i.e. there wasn't much to write about last week and it's better to combine the two now).

Friday, April 21, 2017

NXT In 60 Seconds

A new contender emerges!
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Bobby Roode: I'm the biggest box office superstar in the business today!  I killed off every last remnant of the old NXT.  Shinsuke didn't get promoted, he ran away because I'M the champ!  Get on the bandwagon or hit the bricks, losers!  Ahhhh...you know what the best part about gloating time is, well, besides the gloating, is that there will be no comeuppance!
Hideo Itami: walks out silently
Hideo: slaps Bobby in the face
Bobby: (after recovering) Did, did you... did you just... (sets down his belt) You're going to learn to respect the champion.
Hideo: silent
Bobby: (taking off his jacket and rolling up his cuffs) Things have changed!  This place is about me!  Not you, not them, not
H.I. Punk: makes Robert GO TO SLEEP
Robert: does so
Hideo: straightens his tie, see above, lays it back down and leaves
Robert: silent

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Podcast Deep Dive: Killing the Town with Storm and Cyrus, April 18

Kelly is on the Storm and Cyrus show this episode
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Show: Killing the Town with Storm and Cyrus
Episode: 4/18/17
Run Time: 1:23:11
Guest: Kevin Kelly

It's been a while since we've checked in with Lance Storm and Cyrus (now usually going by his real name: Don Callis), and not much has changed. Storm is still a genial, serious host who keeps things level-headed, and Cyrus likes to be the more opinionated guy and to talk shit on the Disco Inferno. This is a noble pursuit.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Braun Strowman Is Your God Now

BOW BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY STRENGTH OF YOUR NEW PHILOSOPHER TITAN
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If I were in charge of WWE through some genie's wish or accursed monkey's paw (the latter is more likely, be real about it), what I would do right now is pencil in the main event of WrestleMania 35 as Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn. Everything else between now and that point two or so years from now would revolve around making that match not only happen, but be the biggest possible match in the company since The Rock vs. Steve Austin II at X-7. Everyone knows my feelings on Zayn, and honestly, his path to wrestling immortality has been sung ever since he wore a mask and pretended he knew how hablar EspaƱol. It was always Strowman whose path was more obscured when he debuted. The history of Vince McMahon's attempt at finding the next Undertaker or Andre the Giant is littered with the bodies of failed experiments from Giant Gonzalez to Heidenreich to Mason Ryan and all the other failed body guys in between.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fun with The 2016 TWB 100, Finale: TH's Ballot

Number one on my ballot grapples number 64
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Yes, the time has arrived to put the TWB 100 to bed for another year. However, before settling back into the groove of regular posts* around here, I will do as I have done in every other year this list has been done and release my ballot to the public, along with blurbs for any wrestler who didn't make the top 100. IF you have any comments about it, please take it to Twitter since TWB hasn't had comments since the Great Spam Explosion of '1something-or-another. Also, be sure to check out and spread around the actual TWB 100 list. Awareness is a big part of expansion. I don't care if it's a massive time sink; I want as many voters next year as possible. But without further ado, my ballot.

Wrestling Is Anything, Wrestling Is Everything

Yoshihiko, shown here pinning Kota Ibushi, is not killing wrestling, sorry Rip Rogers
Professional wrestling is a wonderful thing, but it can be the subject of heated, divisive debates that fall into several categories. Some are constructive, others not so much, but perhaps the most destructive form of debate comes from people who want to dictate what wrestling can and cannot be. Usually, the ones driving the debate come from a bygone era where men with barrel chests and beer bellies threw punches and stomps at each other and finished matches with body slams or flying hammerlocks. Their definitions of what wrestling should be are narrower than Hank Hill's urethra. The patron saint of GET OFF MY LAWN takery is Jim Cornette, who once wished someone would set off a dirty bomb at a Lucha Underground taping. As a dabbler in shitposting left irony Twitter, I can respect the exaggeration, but I think you get where I'm going with this.

Friday, April 14, 2017

NXT In 60 Seconds

A final bow from the King before bluer pastures (Photo Credit: WWE.com)
WWE: New graphics!  New theme!  We're back at Full Sail!
Full Sailors: WHOO!

Tommy End Aleister Black:  Who are you?  Oh, that's right, I don't care.  ROUNDHOUSE
Referee: Winner!
Full Sailors: Holy crap, dude.
Black: silence 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 183

It's time for Big E to have a bigger strap
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 afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

The answer is Big E, and it's not even close. I love Sami Zayn, and Baron Corbin has grown on me a lot to the point where I could and will buy him as WWE Champion some day. But Big E has been ready for far too long. Real talk, the biggest reason New Day's talents were wasted as WrestleMania host wasn't because they could have done an entertaining tag feud, but because Big E should have won the Royal Rumble and vaulted the canyon between mid-show tag novelty to main event dude. Now that Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are both battling various maladies, the time has come for Big E to become the paragon of Black excellence he was meant to be within WWE. Sadly, I don't think that will be the case, but it should be.

Fun with The 2016 TWB 100: What If I Used WDKW 100 Weighted Scoring?

Gresham would've made the cut with weighted scoring
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Today's hypothetical exercise doesn't fiddle with the number of wrestlers on each ballot, but the amount of points they get. Specifically, what if the people in the top ten had their votes weighted more heavily? Tuesday, I posted a TWB 100 variation that only counted people's top ten votes for the reason that the top ten feels like a good postmarker for excellence. Expanding on that idea, would integrating that idea into the full ballot be prudent? Luckily, another project already worked that idea into its own inner mechanics.

Podcast Deep Dive: The New Generation Project Podcast, Ep. 80

This episode of the NGP details Hart losing a very different title in far less friendly circumstances
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Show: The New Generation Project Podcast
Episode: 80
Run Time: 3:49:39

Starting with the 1993 King of the Ring, The New Generation Project Podcast has been chronicling every major WWF show and building toward the major event of their own Act IV of V: the Montreal Screwjob. Stewart, Adam and Paul have always known that this moment was coming, and that it would be the turning point and ultimate payoff of their narrative, which was to show how the WWF transitioned from the lean years of the New Generation Era, ending with the beginning of the Attitude Era. Since it's arguably the most infamous thing to ever happen in a pro wrestling ring, the guys knew such a task required lots of work.

Ain't Gonna Stop Me Now: Time Flies

Renee Young, shown here with Tom Phillips, is the real star of Total Divas
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Hey guys! So, umm, it's been a while. Looks like two and a half years have passed. We're now in a nightmare world with actual ogres and demons and whatnot. But enough about RAW, let's talk about Total Divas~ *Please don't leave, this is all I have.* Tracking my stuff, I apparently stopped around season three and we're now bowling midway through season six. I thought to catch up on this but these seasons are ENORMOUS in length. Like, 20 hour long episodes per season. My sister loves Grey's Anatomy more than any human person and has barely gotten through eight years of hour long episodes in months. So this is a recap strictly from the top of the head.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fun with The 2016 TWB 100: What If Every Ballot Contained Only the Minimum?

Still don't know how you can separate these two
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Part two of going down alternate paths of the TWB 100 this year increases the uniform ballot size from ten to 25 wrestlers. After all, 25 wrestlers is the minimum number to be mandatorily compiled on every ballot. Why did I come to that number originally? It seemed like it was the best compromise between inclusion and comprehensiveness. Anyway, I'll skip the verbosity and post the list. Again, any ties were broken first by highest vote and second by number of votes received. This iteration had no ties within the top 100.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fun with The 2016 TWB 100: What If Only TOP GUYS Were Included?

Two of what the top ten would look like if only ten wrestlers were submitted per ballot
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
The 2016 TWB 100 has been announced in its entirety, and you can view the whole list and links to entries with the first place entrant, AJ Styles. Styles absolutely earned his top spot as being the best and perhaps only consistently excellent main roster WWE worker for the entire calendar year. He didn't get the first place vote on my ballot (which I will reveal later this week), but he was in my top five. Besides, it's not like 35 other qualified TWB 100 voters could all be completely wrong, right?

The Undertaker: An Appreciation

What a poignant image from Undertaker's final WrestleMania
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The Undertaker is dead. Long live The Undertaker.

Okay, maybe that intro is a little dramatic. Mark Callaway isn't dying, no matter what kind of vibes he gave off in some of his most recent matches. He's just going to be stepping away from any kind of active WWE competition. My guess is that the next time he appears at a WWE function will be when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as next year in New Orleans. Everyone will be happy to see him again, whether or not he maintains character. And life will move on.