Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The 2019 TWB 100: Meet Your Voters and Others Receiving Votes

Shelton was one of many wrestlers who got a vote but not enough points to make it
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Good day, and welcome to the rollout of the 2019 TWB 100. The votes have been tagged and bagged, and now, the fruits of your labor and mine will be released! This year, I received 35 ballots, down from 41 last year. Of those ballots, 13 were contained the full 100, while an extra six of them got up to 99 either by choice or because they had a repeat wrestler on there that had to get lopped off. Still impressive! Even though it's hell during the tabulation process, I prefer the bigger ballots to the smaller ones, but any votes are good votes. Moving on, in the interest of transparency, I will now list everyone who submitted a ballot, along with their favorite color, as assigned by me:

TH - Timberwolf

Chris McDonald - Red-violet

Dan Pierce - Macaroni and cheese

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for January 27, 2020

Gianna Bryant, with father Kobe, was only 13 when she left this earth
Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today

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. Gianna Bryant (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Life is unfair. One moment, you're with your father at a basketball game, caught on camera because he, one of the most cerebral and tenacious players ever, was breaking down what was happening in real time to you, and the next, you're crashing in a helicopter, headed to a far too early grave. Gianna Bryant should have had the world, but instead, the weather made her helicopter malfunction and crash, killing her, her father, and several other people on board. Bryant wasn't going to revolutionize women's basketball, but she sure as hell was primed to finally have the attention brought to it that it deserved. And in an instant, she was gone. Life is unfair. Too unfair. Rest in peace.

2. Daniel Bryan (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Although I wished he'd have rejected WWE's contract offer and made his way out in the world at-large, Bryan is doing what he loves in a place that against all odds respects him. So while he's not able to go to New Japan and work insane matches in the G1, he can still prove he's the greatest ever and elevate schlubs like Bray Wyatt far above anywhere they'd be otherwise. You gotta respect it.

3. Maki Itoh (Last Week: 7) - NO MAKI, DON'T LEARN THAT TERM.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

the Black and Gold Standard: Episodes 14-18 (12/18/19 - 1/15/20)

#9 in the record books, #1 in your hearts
Photo Credit: F4wonline
So, it's been a crazy month for NXT heading into a baby Takeover Worlds Collide this weekend with the domestic brand facing off against the UK contingent on a card so packed that Mia Yim v. Kay Lee Ray is on the pre-show, let alone the full-fledged Takeover in Portland (PNW) next month on the 16th.  Hopefully this compendium will help us all catch up so that we can get back on track as Championship Wrestling from Florida continues to evolve and almost impossibly improve...

DECEMBER 18th
  • Adam Cole retained the NXT World Championship over Finn Balor after the re-emergence of Johnny Gargano, a low blow, and the Last Shot.  Post match, Gargano tuned up Finn with a chair a few times.
  • Damien Priest pinned Killian Dain after the Reckoning.
  • Cameron Grimes pinned KUSHIDA following a Cave In.
  • Io Shirai beat Santana Garrett after God's Moonsault.
  • Pete Dunne pinned Travis Banks after a Bitter End in a match that earned a standing O from the Full Sailors.
  • Rhea Ripley overcame Underling interference and pinned Shayna Baszler (c) after an avalanche Riptide to become the 9th different NXT Women's World Champion and kick off the 10th different title reign of the title.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for January 20, 2020

He had a dream, and that dream wasn't to be co-opted by Nazis and White moderates
Photo via Relevant Magazine
I swear I'll post more this week.

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. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Last Week: Not Ranked) - You're going to see a lot of people co-opting Dr. King today who really don't get what he was about. I'm sure if you're tuning in to watch WWE RAW, well, that'll be the most egregious place where you'll see his image presented by people he would speak against in real life. In addition to being hella racist, WWE is one of the most exploitative places to work in America, hell, the world. Did you know that Dr. King was a socialist who wanted to radically redistribute the wealth in the US so that his goals of Black liberation, and liberation of all people, could be achieved. A lot of people will correctly say he was antiracist, but when talking about the things he wanted to do to eradicate said racism, well, they all turtle up and say "uh, magic." Dr. King's dream is alive today in Bernie Sanders, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and all the other nascent members of the American left. Remember his message not just today, but everyday, and especially when you head to the ballot boxes.

2. That Guy Who Punched Richard Spencer (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Happy anniversary to one of the greatest Americans doing something that should be done every day.

3. Effy (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Not only is he hosting a Big Gay Brunch WrestleMania weekend, Effy is the inaugural Prime Time Wrestling 51st State Champion. There are big things ahead for the man turning indie wrestling on its ear.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for January 13, 2020

WARHORSE RULES YOUR ASS
Photo Credit: Robert Starkz-Bellamy
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. Warhorse (Last Week: Not Ranked) - WHO IS THE INDEPENDENT CHAMPION AND WHO RULES ASS? Warhorse is, buddy. It's about time TWB recognizes this stalwart Champion, who has been holding down the fort since he won the title from Erick Stevens (who won it from Orange Cassidy). Plus, he and Danhausen have a Mania Weekend show where the loser of a match between Shazza McKenzie and Allie Kat Bat gets sacrificed to Satan. How can you not love that?

2. Tetsuya Naito (Last Week: 1) - I think winning two nights at The Dome is worth two weeks on the list, right? Wait, are you guys gonna start comparing me to Dave Meltzer? Please don't or I'll start quote-tweeting 31-follower accounts on Twitter in an attempt to dunk on them and cover for alleged abusers because they give me good quotes.

3. Maki Itoh (Last Week: 4) - Session Moth Martina and Maki Itoh are friends now? THE WORLD IS FUCKED.

The 2019 TWB 100: Introduction and Call for Ballots

Johnny Gargano was last year's number one. Can he repeat?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
It's time, once again! The 2019 TWB 100 is upon the world! This will be the 11th edition of the rankings. What is the TWB 100? Well, it's a fan-voted, crowd-sourced, open-participation that attempts to rank wrestlers from around the globe based on their in-ring work only. It’s not based on promos. It’s not based on character development. It’s not based on booking. It sure as hell ain’t based on Twitter, or else Malcolm Bivens would win in a walk. It’s based on the matches, stupid.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Safety at Wrestling Shows

Chikara has lowered the boom on Gulak, but will all companies get rid of all abusers?
CONTENT WARNING AHEAD - You may not want to read this piece or click on any links within if the mention of child abuse, sexual or otherwise, is a trigger for you. The Cliff's Notes are that Rory Gulak got accused of something really, really bad. Now, wrestling companies are cutting ties with him, but all companies need to cut bait with all who make fans and their peers alike feel unsafe at shows.


Over the weekend, a Twitter account called @pwwhistleblower emerged to "[expose] predators in professional wrestling." Their first target was a doozy, or at least the accusations levied against him were doozies:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for January 7, 2020

Winner!
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
A day late, but it's still good.

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. Tetsuya Naito (Last Ranking: Not Ranked) - The bastard did it. He upended both his longtime rival Jay "Knife Pervert" White AND his unbeatable archnemesis Kazuchika Okada to become the first wrestler to hold both the IWGP World and Intercontinental Championships simultaneously. And he also did so without ever having to give a fuck about anything. Career Goals.

2. Carson Wentz (Last Ranking: Not Ranked) - He started his first ever playoff game, but before the midway point of the first quarter had ended, he was out of the game with a concussion on a borderline cheapshot from Jadaveon Clowney. From the moment he left the sideline to go into the locker room, the calls started coming out. "Injury prone!" "Soft!" "MY quarterback stayed in after taking a cheap hit to the head!" They were all garbage. Head trauma is still an egg that the NFL hasn't cracked and may never do. And people are out here treating taking a hit, where Clowney launched himself helmet-first into the back of Wentz's head as he was diving to the turf after being tripped up by another Seahawk player, like it's a character flaw or something you can simply brush off.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The 2019 Bloggie Awards

Your Wrestler of the Year!
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com

The 2019 Year End BLOWOUT continues into 2020 because you're insane if you think I'm blogging on my vacation. Anyway, the blowout continues with the 2019 Bloggie Awards! What are the Bloggie Awards? Well, they're wrestling awards! Furthermore, here's what they are and aren't, in convenient list form!
  • The Bloggies are NOT a measure of who drew money or drove business. Look to the Observer for that scope.
  • The Bloggies are NOT a measure of kayfabe accomplishment. Pro Wrestling Illustrated has that covered like a boss.
  • The Bloggies are NOT crowd-sourced or openly voted upon. They're chosen by me and me alone, so if anyone has a problem, take it up with me.
  • The Bloggies ARE a measure of who did the most to advance the ART of wrestling. Who told the best stories? Who talked with the silverest of tongues? Who wrestled the best matches? Who had the biggest emotional impact? These are the questions that these awards have set out to answer.
Without further ado, the awards start now.

Wrestler of the Year - This is the award for the wrestler who excelled highest critically inside and out of the ring.
Previous Winners:
2009 – Chris Jericho
2010 – The Miz
2011 – CM Punk
2012 – Daniel Bryan
2013 – The Shield
2014 – Sami Zayn
2015 – Sasha Banks
2016 – Broken Matt Hardy
2017 – Drew Gulak
2018 - Becky Lynch

The Nominees
Chris Dickinson
Jon Moxley
Kris Statlander
Nick Gage
Tetsuya Naito

This year's winner is Jon Moxley! Despite beginning the year as a zombie in WWE, Moxley picked up strong in the second half of the year. He felt like a genuine star in All Elite Wrestling, elevating everyone and everything he touched. His run in New Japan was truncated due to injury and weather, but his G1 run a breath of fresh air not only for himself, but for the company overall. Watching him as Dean Ambrose was frustrating at times because folks knew what he was capable, and in the seven months he was out of WWE, he showed that he didn't forget what made him special. A few people have bristled at the notion that Mox could be the Wrestler of the Year despite spending a good four months of the year at least in WWE's purgatory. Wrestling isn't about the grind only. If you can work every day and be special like, say, Daniel Bryan in 2012 or 2013, then it's worth highlighting the sheer volume. But in a year where even wrestlers in places that allow their workers to shine individually had spotty calendar frames, it's Mox who popped the most.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 285

Caroling is a Christmas thing, but what are the best songs to sing?
Photo Credit: The Courtesy Christmas Matters Holiday Carolers
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:

Phrasing of this question makes me believe that you mean the old school church-ass songs. Not every Christmas song is a Christmas carol, but are carols only supposed to be religious? Is "Jingle Bells" a Christmas carol? Is there a line of demarcation in time? Ah who cares about semantics:

"Jingle Bells" - I love this song because it describes things I'll never do on Christmas. It sounds pretty dope though. Riding on a one-horse open sleigh? Hell yeah, I'll do that before the world succumbs to climate change to the point where snow is no longer possible even on the highest mountains.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - I'm not a religious guy at all anymore, but I just love the self-serious tone of the song.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - I don't know if it counts, but really, it's not just a Christmas song, but it's a good tale on not making fun of people for being different. Two birds, one stone!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Dy-No-MITE, Episode 12

Evil Uno rained his terror down on the end of Dynamite
Screenshot via AEW YouTube

Last week on Dynamite, Chris Jericho offered a deal to his biggest competition in All Elite Wrestling, MJF did the most e-fed promo of the year, Marko Stunt counted a victory for Jungle Boy over Chris Jericho, and the Young Bucks earned the right to be in the main event of Dynamite two weeks in a row. This week's episode emanated from Corpus Christi, TX, a town where WWE has traditionally gotten negative decibel reactions.

Hangman Page's Seasonal Affective Disorder - Apparently, Hangman Page and Kenny Omega haven't been in sync lately, a fact that wasn't readily apparent last week, which only means that I probably had to watch, ugh, Being the Elite to pick that up. I WILL NEVER WATCH THAT YOUTUBE SHOW, DO YOU HEAR ME? Of course, Page having a sad is so far the first pertinent character development fodder that Jim Ross has picked up on in between ranting about rules or giving general sports aphorisms about a roster he probably should know intimately by now. Ross doesn't get kudos for finally doing something he should have been doing since Double or Nothing; it helps that the character development has been mostly of the "tell, don't show" variety. So much of AEW's storytelling to date has relied on Excalibur saying things and both Ross and Tony Schiavone blindly agreeing with him. The commentary and the lack of cohesion in the narrative structure are the two biggest problems with AEW to date.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

2019 Year in Review/2020 Year in Preview: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Ibushi got the first part done, can he get the rest?
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
The second biggest wrestling company in the world had a tumultuous year, filled with title switches, retirement tours, potential returns, and the exploits of the Knife Pervert.

What Happened in 2019: Kenny Omega entered the year with the International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight Championship. By the end of the day on January 4, he would not only not have the title anymore but be on his way out of the company. Hiroshi Tanahashi, the Ace and 2018 G1 Climax winner, took the title, the first time since New Japan used the G1 to decide the challenger to the IWGP Championship at the Dome that the challenger came out on top. Tanahashi's reign would be short, as in one-day short. Jay White, the nascent, and with Omega leaving, unquestioned leader of Bullet Club, defeated the Ace at New Year's Dash, marking his arrival as one of the top antagonists in the company. White's reign might as well have been one day long; he had zero successful defenses. At the joint-branded show WrestleMania weekend with Ring of Honor, White fell to, who else, Kazuchika Okada, winner of the New Japan Cup.

the Black and Gold Standard: Episode 13 (12/11/19)

WIN ALL THE THINGS
all photos courtesy of WWE.com
It wasn't the best episode of NXTV ever, but man if it didn't have something for pretty much everybody intrigued by the pro graps. Starting off with an absolutely blessed title match and closing with a match with NXT World Title implications certainly helped, but even the things in the middle of the show incorporated danger, a little blood, further establishment of somewhat underdeveloped characters and introducing new players into Full Sail's ecosphere.

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for December 16, 2019

Ward was the hero in the final moments of the Eagles/Slurs game
Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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. Greg Ward, Jr. (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Ward caught the game-winning touchdown against the Landover Racial Slurs yesterday for the Eagles as the seventh wide receiver up this year. Ward was a quarterback in college who made the jump to receiver to get on a roster. Spending the year on the practice squad, he watched as the team lost various players at his position to injury or bad play before getting his shot, and he made the most of it as the only WR who caught a pass yesterday. It's not ideal, but if Ward continues to make tough plays, maybe the Eagles will be okay.

2. Maki Itoh (Last Week: 2) - She's learning so, so, SO much.

3. Orange Cassidy (Last Week: 3) - Pfft, what's the big deal anyway?

Year End Sorting Bins: Eh, If I Must

The definition of "he's not going anywhere so deal"
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
The Year End Sorting Bins continue with the next group up. Begrudging Toleration belong to the folks whom I don't like much but will allow to infiltrate my wrestling viewing experience enough that I won't throw a milkshake containing fast-drying concrete at them*. Maybe they can be serviceable in the ring against someone I like. Maybe they're good wrestlers who are annoying elsewhere. Or maybe they're really bad at one thing but inoffensive at another. Who knows. Anyway, here goes:

SANADA - SANADA is one of the many topics that the Wrestling Twitter discourse has poisoned, and although it's not entirely fair, I do see where the opposition to him has a point. A big point. I don't think he's that great a wrestler, or at least he's not a wrestler I enjoy watching most of the time. I know that doesn't mean he shouldn't be pushed, obviously. People like him for whatever reason. Some people like his work. The act of wrestling is varied, and not everyone's styles appeal to everyone. Also, you can't understand how much of a role thirst plays in fandom. People like him because they're horny for him, and that's okay. But I think it's okay for people not to find him all that appealing. The maturity in being a wrestling fan is knowing that any company you like will push people that you don't quite like. SANADA isn't egregious, but he's not exactly the guy I think should be carrying a torch in 2020. And that's okay too.