|Does this feud really need a face/heel dynamic?|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
From Scott Holland of Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object - "Give me one out-of-the-box idea you'd like to see WWE try by 12/31/12."
- "Out of the box" and "WWE" don't go together very often. A lot of times, it's superhero booking at its finest with a little bit of "teh shootz" mixed in, because Vince Russo's influence totally wasn't going to be expunged without leaving some kind of vestige now, was it? That being said, they've tried at least. The Nexus was a great example of that. Putting seven rookies on a pedestal with the established gentry of WWE was a ballsy move at first, even if the execution and resolution left a lot of people flat. If the nWo went on too long, the Nexus was compressed too short.
That being said, the actual tweet asked me for what I wanted to see, not what I thought they were going to do. I thought of maybe fantasy booking an idea where Dean Ambrose and AJ turned into the Joker and Harley Quinn of WWE, but that almost feels like I'd be playing into what a lot of people would want to happen already. Personally, I feel like the last frontier for wrestling is conquering the dynamic of tapping into the true sport fan mentality. What I mean is they stop telling us who to root for and they start letting guys perform and play off each other and let fans decide for whom they want to root.
It's not a "Let's go Cena!/CENA SUCKS!" thing. That's more a product of backlash against the top guy. It's not in any way an indication that they're doing anything to enhance the idea of two guys trying to compete for the fans' affections. Cena's villains, even CM Punk last year, were always disruptive, crass... wrong. There's no doubt that Vince McMahon wants you to root for John Cena. He wants you to root for CM Punk, for Sheamus, for Kofi Kingston. Even if he gives you no reason to want to root for his babyfaces, he wants you to root for them.
Instead, give me at least one story where I make my mind up on my own. Give me a story between two guys where one isn't trying blatantly to tell the fans to stick it where the sun doesn't shine. I think they're dancing around that idea with Chris Jericho/Dolph Ziggler, and it would be a fine place to start. Both are in weird positions with the fans. Making the crowds choose for whom they want to root is a tough concept to wrap one's head around in wrestling, especially since those giant reactions for guys, positive or negative, is as instant a feedback as one can get. That being said, it's gotta start somewhere, so why not start with two of the best?
And yeah, cacophony is still noise. Dueling chants are better than dead silence.
From @phatti, who asked for my thoughts about Damien Demento and about Virgil wrestling at TWO Manias.
- Gonna combine this into one answer, because I think it's simple. The WWF in the '80s and '90s was not the place to go if you wanted mat classics as a rule. Yeah, there were great matches, but cards weren't built around them like they are today. They were built upon simple stories to hold children's attention spans. So it didn't matter if Virgil was a slug in the ring. He fought for his independence from Ted DiBiase! He had to be a hero, right? Well, the crowds didn't think so, but hey, it was a different time. The WWF HAD to keep hammering home the guys they had because wrestlers weren't growing on trees. They were either too broken down to work after grueling careers, or they were being courted by Turner.
So that's where you had Virgil at two Manias. That's where you had Demento coming in with all the goth flash and style but with nothing but a target on his back for the Undertaker to dispatch. It was a wholly different time, but in its own way, it was both better and worse than it is today. Still, would a Demento character work today? I think there's always room for the macabre in WWE, but I also think that it's hard for WWE Creative to book around their own deficiencies. They don't have a handle on how to do real people; what makes anyone think they'd be able to gimmicks who may or may not be one-dimensional well?
@DaveMuscarella wanted to know about age bias being shattered with Jazz's current run through the indies.
- There seems to be this prevailing notion that women break down sooner than men in any sport or athletic type performance. Ballet dancers often have peaks in their 20s before retiring, same with gymnasts. It's rare to see the top female tennis player last into her 30s on top of the heap. Women in wrestling flame out with an alarming rate, but then again, what women are we looking at here?
Models and Divas either get bored or they don't want their looks to fail before they can make "real" money. Meanwhile, Fabulous Moolah was in the industry for something like 50 years and died without ever officially retiring. To me, if there's ever an analogue to Moolah nowadays, it's Jazz. Quite frankly, I feel like the only reason she wasn't always on our radar was because she barely worked in places where the sun shone brightly as a spotlight. Now, she's part of ventures like Anarchy Championship Wrestling and SHINE. She's making people take notice of her again, and honestly, no matter what the gender, she's a lifer. I don't see her going away.
@boomerluvsqueen wants to know how I'd book a Wade Barrett return.
- I actually was thinking about this a little bit earlier on in the day, but the thought train now has long left the station without a trace of its carriage or cargo. That being said, there's virtually a clean slate with him coming back. He'd have no problem talking his way into any story if they let him have the time. That "if" is a big one, because there's no rhyme or reason to how WWE operates sometimes. That being said, I do have two options.
The first involves Randy Orton, since he was entangled with the Viper before he got hurt. Orton's due back soon from his drug holiday, so when he comes out for his first appearance, I'd have Barrett ruin it from jump with a sneak attack. Let them renew hostilities and have a two or three PPV run of high-level matches up in the card and in stature. The moment would be a great spark point, and I think with Orton carrying his end in the ring (I can't believe I just wrote that about Randy Orton) and Barrett doing the heavy character lifting, it would be a good feud.
The other idea would be having him come back and tease that he knows how to defeat Ryback, playing up their time together on NXT and in the Nexus. He keeps teasing it until one day, he finally exploits it to defeat Ryback. The expectation would be that Ryback would doubt himself, but I would play it up that he becomes even more pissed off, just like the Wiggler worm enemies from the Super Mario Bros. series. If you step on their heads, you don't kill them, but you make them so pissed off that they run even faster. That's what happens to Ryback. He starts beating up jobbers three or four at a time before either another match with Barrett where he powers through that weakness or through a continued story with him where Barrett, after defeating him, tries to harness his anger into reforming a stable not unlike the Nexus (But not called the Nexus or the Corre either).
@yankeesman77 asked me what my five "simple" steps for fixing Ring of Honor would be.
Five simple steps? Man, I don't think the fix is that simple. That being said, a request is a request, so here goes:
1 - Find a TV partner who isn't in it just to say that they have wrestling on their programming. Neither HDNet nor Sinclair Broadcasting Group seemed or seem to want to do any work in promoting ROH. There's always the possibility that SBG is the best possible option for them (which would suck), but if there's a better option out there, the company needs to pursue it.
2 - Fire Jim Cornette. I hate calling for the job of another man in this economy, but holy shit, the guy is polarizing, stuck in the past and has a warped idea of what the future should be.
3 - End the petty feud with Gabe Sapolsky. The ball is in their court. They can choose to excise the stupid rule that their contracts are exclusive. That would open up a whole new set of wrestlers that they excluded themselves from and would help foster a better community. When the community is better, people tend to buy more stuff from you.
4 - Define narratives. Don't advertise you're what WWE or Impact are not. Speak in definite terms more often. Develop an identity and characters within the identity that have a clear focus.
5 - NETWORKING! The talent base isn't going to grow itself now. It's too expensive to fly out scouts, but there's enough footage on YouTube nowadays, and wrestlers work an extensive amount of promotions enough to be able to bring in more and more wrestlers for ROH to fill their severely depleted ranks.
Rich Thomas, co-host of the International Object podcast, asked a series of questions. First was what indie wrestler out there fit the WWE's mold best. Second was where I saw ROH in the next two years, and third, which WWE superstar on top will be off the radar in 12 months.
- The first question has a few answers. WWE's "mold" stereotypically is a big steroid-addled guy who may or may not be able to wrestle, which would pretty much point to Ahtu (who can't wrestle) or Uhaa Nation (who's an awesome wrestler). Lately, they've been looking for guys who have a combination of size, charisma and wrestling ability. With that in mind, the answer is still probably Nation. Obviously, he reminds a lot of people of Ezekiel Jackson, and it would all depend on whether he recovers from his injury and whether they let him do the things that make him stand out (standing shooting star press, planchas, etc.). But yeah, there's no reason why they haven't signed Nation yet with the exception of the aforementioned injury.
Second, ROH in two years is tricky. It depends on the outlook. As an optimist, I see them still in their niche, running shows in their strongest markets (NY, Philly, Chicago, Baltimore). As a pessimist/typical "wrestling smark", I can see them closing up shop after Final Battle this year or in '13 because again, SBG does the least they can for operations. As a realist, I see them existing in a wholly different capacity than they do now, because that brand name is pretty recognizable. Finally, the Internet troll in me sees WWE purchasing the video library for their stars' DVD sets. Average all those out, and I feel like it's too hazy to accurately predict where ROH will be, but that the future's not looking good for them.
Finally, as to the WWE superstar that will be off the radar in 12 months who is living high off the hog now, the elephant in the room is the feeling of dread that everyone enjoying Daniel Bryan right now has that this is too good to be true. I don't wanna say that he's my pick, but who else gets the bump? Randy Orton racking up a third wellness violation isn't out of the realm of possibility, neither is Rey Mysterio in the same situation. Punk's entrenched, no matter what happens to him. Cena would have to unexpectedly retire due to injury. So yeah, I guess it has to be Bryan if we're picking just one. That being said, maybe he will stick. It's all a matter of how jaded you are, and as much as I like to look on the bright side of life, I can't shake the feeling that this isn't permanent.
Site banner creator Billy Dunlevy wants to know my thoughts on Heath Slater.
I used to think he didn't have much value to me as a viewer. Yeah, I guess he was a "fine worker", whatever that meant, but he really didn't do anything to me that I felt was worth defending. Then he got socked in the face by Big Show at WrestleMania XXVII and I saw something that I really dug about him; he was really, really good at getting his ass kicked. That's something on display right now as the cavalcade of legends comes back to put him on his ginger rear end. Being good at getting one's ass kicked is a great asset to have in wrestling. It makes the matches look that much better, because really, if everyone had the same stamina as Ultimate Warrior, Goldberg or The Ryback, would it be as fun?
@el_spriggs asked me what two guys would make the most entertaining tag team option right now.
This really vexed me, not because I couldn't find an answer, but because there are so many answers to choose from. I guess it depends on what kind of "entertaining" you're looking for. In terms of comedy, I'd say Santino Marella and Eric Young for obvious reasons. For crazy, exciting high-flying, the team already existed in the Motor City Machine Guns. For the best total package character plus wrestling work at the highest end, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk would be pretty intriguing. Finally, I think I would love to see Robert Evans (or his mysteriously too-similar looking doppelganger Archibald Peck) team with Davey Richards for the ultimate odd-couple tag teaming.
Sorry that this came a bit late, because I was busy with vacationy stuff, but maybe I'll do another one next week. Would you guys like to see this be a regular feature?