|Kozlov! Russia! Da!|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
@PureGristle kicks off the Tweet-bag this week by suggesting that Vladimir Kozlov wasn't that bad now, was he?
I was a huge fan of his tag team run with Santino Marella. I think he was the best possible Steve Blackman they've had, and that statement is coming from the foremost historical fan of Head Cheese one might find. However, I get the feeling that tag team was pretty widely loved. I could be wrong though. However, I dug his pre-turn run as the neo-Soviet automaton. I've always been a fan of the Russian invader archetype. He wasn't the best guy in the ring, but I thought he was an able foil for guys like Jeff Hardy. I wouldn't mind seeing him come back, but at the same time, I'm not sure where he'd fit on the roster today. But yeah, Kozlov was cool with me.
Cybernetic Twitter friend @robot_hammer asks which Dusty Rhodes promo is my favorite outside of the infamous Hard Times spot.
No, I didn't just pick it because he was wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, but it helped.
Real life friend @soggyhydrox asks my favorite non-traditional grilled cheese cheese.
In order to answer this question, one has to ask what a traditional cheese for the iconic sandwich is? I would assume cheddar and American are the top two (although American is just the mildest, creamiest version of a cheddar). I would also assume Muenster is a popular cheese as well. Mozzarella is a pretty good canvas from which to build a grilled cheese. I'd say my favorite among the non-traditional choices would be mild provolone. It's creamy and melty, and it has good flavor for a grilled cheese. Plus, it's an Italian cheese, so of course it goes well with tomato-based products like, I don't know, soup.
@OkoriWadsworth asks what my favorite non-cheese ingredient for a grilled cheese is.
Geez, what's with all the grilled cheese questions? Did the grilled cheese lobby get to youse guise?
Anyway, the knee-jerk answer here would be bacon, but keeping it crispy while in the sandwich is a difficult task, and rubbery bacon is I believe a war crime prosecutable by the Geneva Convention. Besides, cheese is rich and fatty, and so is bacon. The only thing going for it to differentiate is texture. My favorite is the caramelized onion, especially against the backdrop of a sharp cheese. They're sweet and unctuous, and they go well on anything, honestly.
@RasslinBro asks if William Regal will ever have a role on the main roster again, and if so, what it should be.
Goldust right now is tearing it up in a main event role. Nothing good can stay, obviously, and the enjoyment of his current run comes with the knowledge that it won't last as long as the run his brother will get rocketed out of it. Regal is similar to Goldust in that he's on his last legs, but that he also has a lot to give. His work against Kassius Ohno (pbuh), Dean Ambrose, and Antonio Cesaro shows that he can still carry a big story on the developmental level. If Daniel Bryan is bound to be Champion, then why couldn't he have a summer fling against his real mentor? The months between Extreme Rules and Money in the Bank are sunk costs anyway. A Bryan/Regal mini-feud would be pretty awesome. I doubt they'll ever do it, because Vince McMahon has lost his maverick spirit somewhere between 1998 and today, but it is what they absolutely should do.
Matthew Timmons of Juice Make Sugar and Kayfabemetrics asks what outside influence could improve WWE the most outside of a new promotion springing up and competing with it.
I don't know if WWE will ever be challenged by a competing promotion in my lifetime at this point. Anything could happen, but the only way WWE can let the outside world improve it, outside of something catastrophic like a court ruling against their woefully backwards independent contractor policy or CTE research breakthrough, would be for them to initiate the contact. WWE has a problem with keeping their roster fresh. Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, R-Truth, and others have gotten stale through no fault of their own. Creative too often "has nothing" for wrestlers, and they recycle stories like whoa.
The best thing for some of these beleaguered parties would be excursions into other companies, whether they be domestic or abroad. Wrestlers can go for tours in selected indies, international companies, or even in NXT (which is a parallel universe anyway). Even better, writers can go on educational excursions into these companies as well, so that maybe instead of stealing ideas wholesale from them, they can understand the logic behind the decisions instead of aping them and not getting the context or follow-through. Imagine Ziggler taking a tour of Dragon Gate, or Barrett finding his groove as Bad News in live situations down in NXT. The cross-pollination of ideas would benefit everyone involved, mostly WWE of course. Nothing could replicate the WCW or territorial eras where guys could meaningfully change companies and create the idea of flux, but WWE can replicate that flowrate to its advantage.
International Object purveyor and my podcasting landlord Sawyer Paul wants to know how excited I am at the prospect of Elimination Chamber being the last pay-per-view I'd have to purchase separate of the WWE Network.
@CDSBackfists asks if Eddie Guerrero had never died, would Chris Benoit still be alive.
Life is an amazing thing because of how random and dependent on every variable it is. Trying to comprehend how things might have turned out when every little thing can affect the outcome of a situation is like staring Cthulhu in the eye and trying not to go insane. To distill Chris Benoit's horrific actions down to whether one person dying or living would be foolish. Was he affected by Guerrero's death? Of course he was, unless he was lying about his feelings. That depression may have led him down some dark paths, sure. But what is also known is Benoit's history of sociopathy. The man always had a sadistic streak as documented by his history of mean-spirited ribs on greenhorns in Japanese locker rooms. The CTE and drug abuse was also pretty much well ingrained before Guerrero died.
So the answer to this question is that I really can't answer it without projecting my feelings onto it. Would I love it if one change in the past could have spared the lives of two innocent victims? Of course. Would I have preferred to have a guy I liked to see perform not turn out to be a murderous piece of human garbage? Well, I would like it if murderous sociopathy would erase itself from Earth regardless of whether the purveyor of it was in a field of entertainment I liked or not. But I just can't look at the Benoit murder/suicide and answer accurately whether his friend dying was the spark.
Serial live-tweeter of past wrestling events @wrestlefeed asks what old, failed gimmick I'd like to see repurposed.
Given that Christmas is still fresh in my mind, I wouldn't mind seeing someone take a crack at the evil Santa Claus gimmick. Xanta Claus had an epic debut, but the execution was pretty drab, par for the course for mid '90s WWE. Sure, the gimmick would maybe have a six-week shelf life, but I think wrestling could use more short-term gimmick runs, especially in the midcard.
Librarian wrestle fan mafia consigliere @LanceGarrison wants me to book an eight-team tag tournament featuring nothing but brother teams.
My eight teams would be:
Goldust and Cody Rhodes
Jon and Jey Uso
Mark and Jay Briscoe
Harlem and Lancelot Bravado
Jake and Dave Crist
Nick and Matt Jackson
Those six teams are the gimmes. The two wildcard teams though would be:
Dolph Ziggler and Hot Young Briley
Matt and Jeff Hardy
FIRST ROUND: Them Rhodes Boys beat Ziggler and Briley. The Young Bucks beat the Usos, while the Briscoes take out the Brothers Crist. Hardy Boys over the Bravados. SEMIFINALS: Young Bucks over the Rhodes Boys and Hardys beat the Briscoes. Of course, the finals would be the Hardy Boys vs. the Young Bucks, which would be a dream match in any promotion. In a hard fought match, the Bucks get the win.
Philly Twitter bro @jackcantcook asks if the Royal Rumble is the greatest gimmick match ever created.
I can only think of two contenders to that crown. Money in the Bank has become the signature car crash match of the industry today, while War Games is the ultimate gang warfare match. But I actually agree. The Royal Rumble takes the battle royale concept, a fine gimmick match in its own right, and tweaks it just enough to maximize drama for the biggest prize in all WWE. It could very well be the best thing Vince McMahon has ever given to the wrestling world.
@ray_fuck wants to know my favorite kinds of cake.
Kinds, plural? THIS CALLS FOR A POWER POLL. Truncated, because this ain't Holzerman Hungers, pal.
5. Ice Cream - The only reason this cake isn't higher is because it's a bear to cut once you take it out of the freezer, and then when it is pliable enough to cut, it's melty. But it's still pretty damn good.
4. Red Velvet - Sure, the red in the red velvet is food coloring, but the cake itself is so delicious, man.
3. Oreo - Oreo cookies are great, but turned into cake, they're elevated.
2. New York Cheese - The cheesecake is not only delicious by itself - cream cheese with the graham cracker crust YUM - but it is so versatile. Put fruit on top? Mix in some chocolate? Pumpkin? TURTLE? Sure!
1. Maryland Crab - I like dessert as much as the next guy, but I'm a dinner dude at heart. Very few things in this world are better to eat than a well-done crab cake.
@TheEnforcer4 wants my ultimate appetizer table.
The best appetizer tables have something for everyone. For those who like crisp, clean, and fresh before eating a meal, I've got a crudite tray with an array of all kinds of vegetables. As a part-Italian who married into an Italian family, I gotta have the full antipasto tray with all the cured meats, cheeses, and roasted veggies. Then, I finish with the hot bites. I would go first with bacon-wrapped scallops, because they are a staple for any hors d'oeuvres spread. Then I would go with potato puffs, mini-spanakopita, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus tips, margherita mini-pizzas, and as a grand finale, macaroni and cheese bites.
Kommentariat bro @FosterVsWorld wants to know the best '90s Royal Rumble that wasn't won by Ric Flair.
For the sheer spectacle, I'm going with 1998. This Rumble was at the height of GANG WARFARE in WWE, had Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack brawling wildly to start, and of course, was the infamous Three Faces of Foley match. The Attitude Era had a lot of schlock, but when the insanity was done right, it was totally satisfying.
Crack journalist Ken Borsuk asks what the best match for Batista would be at WrestleMania.
To be honest, the match I most want to see him in is another go against John Cena, even if that's not the most desirable option for Cena for me this year. The two have unfinished business in my view; their feud in 2010 was great, but the way it finished just left a sour taste in my mouth. Still, I would rather see Cena go up against Undertaker, because that Streak match is one that befits an anniversary Mania if I ever saw one.
So, as a compromise, I would love to see Douchebag Batista, the SPAHTLITE-demanding jerkbag who left WWE in a huff, come back and wrestle CM Punk. The fame-hogging musclebrain who actually has a few successful movies under his belt against the man formerly known as the voice of the voiceless? Sign me the fuck up, man.
University of Arizona alumnus, whose men's basketball team is only four points better than Drexel, @JohnJohnPhenom wants to know my favorite musical.
Does the Nightmare Before Christmas count as a musical? If so, I choose that. If not, I'd go with The Producers. The remake went full musical, and it was the best film Mel Brooks made since Robin Hood: Men in Tights, although I still preferred the non-musical, Gene Wilder version from the late '60s.
My BPL sherpa @RTVWOW asks if I think Luke Harper or Erick Rowan can break out on their own as singles stars.
Harper definitely has that potential, although he's always been entrenched as part of a stable, both in the indies and in NXT/WWE. However, he's got wild-eyed charisma and is a decent promo. Along with his hoss skillset, he could break big in WWE. Rowan is a bit more unknown to me, but I'm also the douche who thought Ted DiBiase was the breakout star from Legacy and not Cody Rhodes. The point? Anyone can break out, but it's also very difficult to do so.
@blizzowski wants to know why Sami Zayn isn't on the main roster yet.
My guess is that they're not going to debut a red hot prospect in the swell of WrestleMania season where he could get lost in the shuffle. I don't think Zayn would get lost there, but then again, who knows what WWE officials are really thinking. I'd debut him in the Royal Rumble and recreate the Wade Barrett/Bo Dallas story with someone who can actually capture the underdog spirit, but hey, I'm just some jerkoff on the Internet.
Irresistible vs. Immovable contributor and newest member of the TWB staff Scott T. Holland gives me a tag team name: "Monday Night Wars." Who are they and what is their shtick?
I think I would go in one of two directions. First would be a literal military gimmick with the ironic nod to a wrestling term from the past. The second, and the one my sensibilities would pull me towards, would be having a team of literal impressionists of gimmicks from the late '90s. One week, one of the guys would be in DX regalia while the other would have nWo gear on. They'd always be arguing, but their double team offense would be impeccable, as if they bring out the best in each other. The concept is pretty high risk for WWE's creative staff, but I think it would be worth a shot.
Marc Normandin of Over the Monster wants me to choose between Daniel Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels or Bryan vs. the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania.
Not only do I unequivocally want Bryan in the marquee match for the title at Mania, I think a WrestleMania main event against Randy Orton would have a better chance of being the better match between one with Michaels. I think HBK is one of the best to lace up the boots, but I'm not completely over the moon about his Mania performances since returning from back injury. He's been away for so long, and really, the better story is Bryan finally vanquishing Orton. The Michaels stuff is just a welcome distraction.
Philly area freelance sportswriter Ryan Petzar wants to know what'll happen when Vince McMahon dies.
Well, he'll have a funeral, and RAW will be dedicated to his memory after he dies. After that, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon will assume control of the company the way he had it. Now, what will happen in a Levesque-McMahon controlled WWE? I can't necessarily answer that question without an intimate knowledge of both Trips and Steph, their philosophies, and where they disagree with Papa Mac on philosophy. I could make guesses, sure, but a lot of those guesses would be projecting my own hopes for the company. Maybe Daniel Bryan would have a better chance at unfettered stardom, but maybe he wouldn't. Maybe the image fetish would die, but then the rumors that Triple H was the one who was yelling at Kassius Ohno for not wanting to spend every moment of free time in the gym also suggest he might have the same dysmorphic view of how a wrestler should look. I just don't know what the answer would be outside of a lot of people would be sad, others would be happy, and wrestling would have lost an iconic figure, for better or worse.
(Also, a chance exists that McMahon will never die and he'll have his brain implanted in a cyborg after his body fails, but I think that goes without saying.)
CZ-Bro @RealRobPandola asks which trends in indie wrestling I want to see continue and die a bloody death.
I want to see the current bigger-than-top-title stars continue to go up against the stars of the past who are still wrestling. The Young Bucks going up against Mikey Whipwreck and Yoshihiro Tajiri is a match that absolutely should be happening. If Kevin Steen isn't getting signed by WWE, then why can't he wrestle guys like Tracey Smothers or Chris Masters on a regular basis? Chris Hero vs. Lance Storm is probably the best match for both guys at this point in their careers. As long as the old guys still have a modicum of "it," let them intermingle with the stars of today, especially the ones who've already done nearly everything a wrestler could do.
I have a lot of problems with wrestling companies, both mainstream and indie in general, but the one thing I want to see really die is the idea that every match has to have two guys hitting each other with no attempt at defending themselves against those strikes. The idea is absurd as it is; if you let a dude hit you in the face any amount of times, your bell's gonna get rung and you won't be controlling your own faculties. I want to see more attempts at defending, dodging, and countering. I understand everything's a performance art more than a faux-fight in wrestling, but the trading of hits is such a niche thing that works for me sparingly has been spammed to infinity. Let it die, man.
@brandon120 asks if I also see the similarity between Game of Thrones and the WWE title scene, with the Authority and Orton as the Lannisters and Bryan as Robb Stark.
The comparison works for me if you ultimately believe that Bryan is going to fail thanks to his own hubris and if you see The Shield as Roose Bolton, The Mountain That Rides, and uh, that guy who cut off Jaime's hand? I don't think WWE is similar to GoT inasmuch they're copying the story. I just think the archetypes are similar.
Finally, @dan_spaceman asks who has had the better post-SummerSlam arc, Bryan or Orton.
The only conceivable way Bryan would be a legitimate answer for this question would be if matches alone were considered. Orton has grown more as a character, been better on promos, and has had better interactions with other wrestlers. Surprising to say, but Randy Orton has evolved into one of the best characters WWE has. Bryan has stagnated, but his stagnation is still pretty great to watch.