|All smiles now, but her against Bryan? WAR FACE|
Photo Credit: Gregory Davis/DDS
First up, Stephen T. Stone of the Complete Shot Blog asks what my dream match for 2014 is with no barriers in place.
If contracts, distance, and style are not barriers, then I want to see, at the Rosemont Horizon (or whatever it's called nowadays), unaffiliated with any promotion but my own mind, two of the best wrestlers in the world (if not the best) going at it. In one corner, the uncrowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the man who has been everywhere and done everything except maybe headline WrestleMania, the best beard in all wrestling, Daniel Bryan. In the other, the owner of the best and sexiest roundhouse kick in all combat sports whether staged or real, the most recent former JWP Openweight Champion, the owner of the scariest facepaint in all wrestling, Kana. The kicks in the match would be unreal. They'd trade submissions. I don't know who'd win. Wait, actually I do. The fans would.
My other dream match is Triple H vs. three rabid possums. Maybe I'll put that on the undercard...
@OkoriWadsworth asks what my favorite tournament in wrestling is.
The obvious answer is King of Trios. Chikara not only does a great job presenting the trios format, but they have also been super-creative with the teams and matchups they've put together. The three-day format also feels like a festival, maybe the closest thing to a true Wrestling Woodstock that I can think of outside of WrestleMania. Really though, Chikara's grassroots presentation is closer to the original. WWE's corporate sheen makes their weekend look more like '94 or '99.
Since King of Trios is dormant for the time being, however, my favorite active tournament, by far, is DDT4. I can't wait to see how this year's model plays out...
@Doc_Ruiz2012 wants to know if Xavier falls in the Woods, and no one's around to hear him if Brodus Clay gets his gimmick back.
I don't think falling in the woods is proper gimmick transference. I think if Clay wants his gimmick back, he'd have to go to the High Elder Council of Gimmick Infringement, which is all the way in Parts Unknown. I'm not sure he even wants it back.
If I can be serious for a moment (speaking of gimmick infringement), I think Clay needs a fresh start as a wrestler. He's gone as far as he can go as a children's attraction, but I also think he could be a great Monster of the Month for whoever is Champion. The Funkadactyls are better off without him too, as they get to be real live people instead of booty-based valets with pom poms.
Noted anteater @Enrico_Palazzo_ asks why I'd waste Batista's return on Alberto del Rio.
Why I would put Batista against del Rio from jump at first is probably the same reason why WWE is doing it. del Rio has nothing to do, is a great wrestler, and will be able to inject some heat into the Rumble match for reasons other than, well, "Every man for himself." I doubt the confrontation and "feud" lasts longer than the couple of weeks after the Rumble before the hype for Elimination Chamber begins in earnest. I think Batista could do far worse for a reintroductory feud.
Podcast landlord Sawyer Paul of International Object asks what style guide I would decide upon for the wrestling blog community.
Back when I was a columnist/Web manager/jack of all trades for the Drexel Triangle, we used the Associated Press' style guide. Since that guide is the one with which I'm familiar, I would go with that one. Well, either that, or we wrestling writers should create our own style-guide, one that recognizes that the Oxford comma belongs alongside the Saito suplex.
Official Royal Rumble statistician Scott T. Holland wants to know my ideal final four for this year's Rumble.
I want maximum drama. So, my ideal final four would be the four guys I think have the best chance of winning. First is Daniel Bryan, because, DUH. Second, Roman Reigns is left standing. Third, gimme Cody Rhodes, who remains a dark horse candidate to headline WrestleMania and get his ultimate revenge on Randy Orton for getting him fired. Finally, Big Dave Batista, because they have to tease the johnny-come-lately big mainstream comeback in the final. I don't know who should win (well, Bryan should win, but I'd be happy with Reigns or Rhodes), but if drama's the name, then that final four is the game.
As a fallback, however, I would love to see The Shield and Batista being the last four, with the Hounds of Justice taking out Batista and then, calling back to Katniss Everdeen's gambit from the end of the first Hunger Games, all eliminating themselves simultaneously, and claiming victory for the group rather than individually.
Philly sports bon vivant @jackcantcook asks my five favorite Rumble matches ever.
1. 1992 - This one is considered to be the best Rumble ever by a vast consensus, and I find it hard to disagree. Ric Flair was at his best here. He may have had more memorable singles broadways, but overall, this match may have been his best actual single contest run. The Hogan/Justice stuff worked as well.
2. 2010 - This individual Rumble match was actually bound together by three different threads. The first was CM Punk holding court on the mic and eliminating fools. The second saw Shawn Michaels, desperate to get at the Undertaker, try to win the Rumble before getting dumped by Batista, causing his neurosis. Third was the surprise return of Edge come back to dump Chris Jericho and claim his prize. Beth Phoenix's cameo here was great too.
3. 1998 - Austin-won Rumbles are always a fun time. However, in addition to the mayhem wrought by the Texas Rattlesnake, this Rumble featured some gang warfare spillover from the dissolution of the original Nation of Domination, which actually added some much-needed chaos to the match and direction to often directionless characters in the DOA and Los Boricuas. This match also included Mick Foley appearing as all three of his personae, including a CRAZY brawl with Chainsaw Charlie to start.
4. 1994 - This Rumble often gets lost in history because it was buried in the garish mid-'90s WWF, but I can't understate how awesome it was to watch the Diesel push unfold with the original guy, as well as the spectacle of EVERYONE trying to eliminate Mabel. The finish was controversial, but I thought it was a creative way of setting up WrestleMania. Plus, it directly led to Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, which is one of my favorite matches in Mania and wrestling history.
5. 2011 - The 40 man Rumble could have been a bloated mess, but it actually flowed quite nicely, thanks to more gang warfare between the New Nexus and Corrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre in the beginning. However, this Rumble match was all about the finish, which I think might be the best in its history. When Santino Marella came shuffling back in the ring and apparently eliminated Alberto del Rio, I nearly lost my shit along with the TD Garden. Of course, that result was not to be, but man, I got goosebumps.
Twitter gadfly and Classical contributor Gregg Gethard wants to know where I think Bray Wyatt's ceiling is.
Honestly, the sky is the limit for Wyatt. I think the only thing he needs to do is prove that he can bring it in big matches, and then he can be a worthy heir to the Undertaker. He may not be the guy to be undefeated at WrestleMania, but that streak was not the only thing the Phenom has brought to the table. Wyatt already has passed Taker in promo skills, and he's got a similarly spooky aura around him. He knows how to curdle the blood, and he uses every trick in his seemingly infinite repertoire. Rumors are abounding that he'll be involved with John Cena in some capacity at Mania this year, and while I've heard a lot of my peers balking at that, I welcome that opportunity for Wyatt. He needs big match experience. Why not ease him into it against perhaps the best big match performer in WWE history at an anniversary Mania?
Wrestling fan librarian @LanceGarrison wants a Peter Gabriel-inspired wrestling gimmick.
Peter Gabriel, both with Genesis and as a solo recording artist, has been one of the most imaginative musicians/singers of the last four decades. Wardrobe changes, lyrics, and music videos have put him straight on the avant garde edge. I could see much of his art inspiring wrestlers. For example, a fox-masked exotico based off his Fox on the Rocks wardrobe from stage performances of "Supper's Ready" would fit in well down in Mexico. Kaiju Big Battel would be a wonderful place for a Slipperman to take hold. If the war between the Baltic Siege and Polar Baron's Union rages on, perhaps a trio of sentient Giant Hogweed could come along to make peace ("Long ago in the Russian Hills..."). Instead of looking at his 1982 smash as an action, an enterprising luchador could take on the guise of Choque El Mono. The possibilities, actually, are endless.
Y-Not Radio DJ Joey O wants to know if the following picture is what my nightmares look like.
Not before now, but now they are. Thanks, jerk.
Wrestling fandom's foremost ex-theologian @el_spriggs asks if Punk really is going to retire next year, what should he accomplish between now and then?
I have the same amount of skepticism at Punk retiring as I did when Davey Richards promised to leave wrestling to be a paramedic. That being in mind, if Punk really is serious about retiring, then he needs to have one last story, one last big feud that puts the guy over huge and is able to fill the void that Punk is going to inevitably leave. That feud should be against someone like Dean Ambrose, Big E Langston, or most ideally, Sami Zayn. The match at Mania XXXI would be Punk's farewell, and be plotted out to be so epic in scope that no matter where his challenger would be before the match, he'd end up being a stone cold main eventer afterwards. How it all plays out is up to interpretation. However, Punk going out on his back to put over his replacement has to be the endgame.
I still don't think he'll leave when he says he will though. Not by a longshot.
@Tvs_Tim_Biewald wants to know what's better, cold or hot mac 'n cheese.
Wrestling Twitter's foremost user of CAPS LOCK, @typicalROHfan wants to know my ideal condiments/toppings for a cheesesteak.
First off, contrary to popular belief, no real standard for toppings exists for the cheesesteak. The sandwich doesn't need to comprise of anything except cheese, beef, and a roll. Otherwise, the cheesesteak is a blank canvas, ready for anything you want to put on it.
Now, as for my ideal toppings, first, fried onions are a must. Second, mushrooms go really well on a cheesesteak as well. With the onions, I get unctuous sweetness, and with the mushrooms, I get an earthy, textural addition into the steak. To top it all off, I would put some sriracha on it for heat and tang. For completion's sake, my cheese of choice is a nice, creamy American cheese, and the roll is crusty Italian. Damn, now I want a cheesesteak.
Diabolic dinosaur enthusiast @KevinNewburn wants to know if a wrestling storyline could ever replicate what he feels as a Sonics fan while watching Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Not only can't I liken that feeling to a wrestling story, I can't even begin to empathize. I'm lucky enough to live in Philadelphia, a city where the fans seem to take sports more seriously than their civic duties and local politics. One time, Norman Braman threatened to move the Eagles to Phoenix, and the backlash was so vitriolic that he had to sell the team. So to lose a team that seemed to have support from the fans like the Sonics feels like a real gut punch. The reality of modern sports relocations usually has very little to do with fan support. The Browns were beloved in Cleveland before Art Modell moved them, for example, yet teams like the Jaguars or Bengals, both of which have had documented problems drawing fans to games at times never have moving rumors materialize into anything more concrete.
All I can really say is I'm sorry that greedy shitbag gross white people decided that they'd rather have your team play thousands of miles away than in your locale. Hopefully, the NBA will do the right thing, grant Seattle an expansion team (along with someplace like Louisville, Pittsburgh, El Paso, or Kansas City, for example), and realign into four eight-team divisions.
Dan Vecellio of the Penn State SB Nation blog Black Shoe Diaries wants to know what's better, Vince McMahon's power strut or Steve Austin "I'm ready to beat your ass" ring walk.
McMahon's "cock of the walk" strut is great and all, but I find watching a guy walk to the ring while he looks like he's holding in a monster log shit to be hilarious more than awe-inspiring. Austin, however, used his ring walk as an extension of his character. However, neither holds a candle to ECW Champion Mark Henry walking to the ring with a pissed-off scowl on his face with an Everest sized chip on his shoulder. Watching him walk to the ring around 2008-09 made me feel like I was about to watch someone get their goddamn wig split.
Brad Hindsight of the Place to Be Nation asks what the Doomsday scenario for the Royal Rumble is.
The absolute bummer scenario would be the loser of the John Cena/Randy Orton match entering himself in the Rumble match and winning. I don't think WWE would drag out this feud from TLC to WrestleMania. They almost never have the landscape stay the same for that specific stretch of time. However, past history doesn't make me any less easy at that scenario playing out.
Austin bro @NDEddieMac asks if they flipped the Bray Wyatt with Daniel Bryan too soon.
If one were to look at Bryan's Life with the Hill-Bill(y) Kult as a self-contained angle within itself, then maybe his sojourn there was too short lived. Despite the fact that I believe people should have the right to watch wrestling the way they want to, I also think looking at the story at such a narrow time window is a mistake. Bryan's arc with the Wyatts started months ago, and he's endured beatings upon beatings upon beatings. I think the breaking point happened when Luke Harper and Erick Rowan threw him off a loading dock (still one of the best shot moments WWE has ever done). So, what was two weeks of beatings in order to get Wyatt in the cage, by himself, with a little help from his best friend? Looking at the story from that perspective might end up providing a bit more clarity and perhaps satisfaction.
Minnesota maven @Jessico09 wants to know my favorite Parks and Recreation character.
Gonna level with you. I don't watch Parks and Rec, but that doesn't mean my favorite character from the show isn't this guy:
@ajuarez_thatSID wants to know what I think went wrong with Dolph Ziggler since his split from Team Rocket.
If one believes the dirt sheets, then Ziggler ran afoul of the bosses by shooting off at the mouth in interviews. Obviously, I don't necessarily believe that's the case, although it would provide convenient explanation as to why Ziggler's been relegated. Ziggler seems to be a savvy guy, and I doubt he'd publicly trash the company especially when they have a reputation of responding to words with bad booking. I still think the outside chance exists that he was playing an angle that got dropped when the SummerSlam buyrate came in.
Now, if you want to know why Ziggler's character fell off, I think it was because WWE really has no idea how to book cocky heel-to-good babyface transitions well. Ziggler came off really phony and cruel in regards to AJ Lee, and I'd hope the non-vocal members of the crowd saw through it and didn't support him with the misogynists who like seeing women humiliated for no reason other than their genitals.
@BrandunKyla asks what names I think are left to announce for National Pro Wrestling Day, and whether anyone from DDT4 will fly out on a red eye to be there.
Well, I can officially eliminate Kevin Steen, Drake Younger, Candice LaRae, Kyle O'Reilly, Adam Pearce, Cheerleader Melissa, B-Boy, PPRay, the RockNES Monsters, Willie Mack, Brian Kendrick, Joey Ryan, Brian Cage, and Christina von Eerie, since they're booked for the Quintessential Pro Wrestling card for that day. As for the other guys, I would count out Chris Hero until he actually makes a Chikaraverse appearance. That shoot interview where he laid into Mike Quackenbush was pretty rancorous, and I'll believe that bridge is repaired when I see it. So, among those who aren't booked in Cali that day, are as follows: AR Fox, Roderick Strong, Tomasso Ciampa, Chuck Taylor, Trent? Michael Elgin, Rich Swann, Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole, Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, and ACH. Of those, I would consider Taylor very likely to come back East, while Swann, Gargano, Ricochet, Fox, and ACH are all somewhat likely, or plausible if you will.
Outside of whom PWG has booked, I'm not sure who else is out there to be announced outside of the Chikaraverse. Obviously, Icarus, the rest of the Spectral Envoy, the Colony, other School of Roc grads, the Batiri, Jigsaw, Mr. Azerbaijan, 3.0, and Knight Eye for the Pirate Guy all could be announced soon. Truth be told, I wouldn't hold out for a whole lot of guys from outside the Wrestling Is sphere of influence. I think the main thrust of this show is going to be majorly advancing the current plot and possibly bringing back the Chikara name and not bringing in ALL THE WRESTLERS like it was last year.
Rowdy N'awlins bro @hakimdropsball wants to know whether I think Jeff Jarrett's new promotion will last more than two years.
I hope so. But in all honesty, that promotion's lifespan is wholly dependent on whether Jarrett and his financial backer, Toby Keith, are able to convince themselves that they're not competitors to WWE (or even TNA and ROH at this point). If they're smart enough and keep their perspectives in perspective, they can fill a niche and maybe, just maybe, be able to "break out" so to speak.
@ray_fuck wants to know what my ideal lunch is.
Asking me what an "ideal" meal is is like giving a wide-eyed theater student an unlimited budget to make a movie. The options available are so immense that I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one dish. Do I go Vietnamese and pick pho? Do I stay more traditionally American and pick a soup and sandwich combo? When in doubt, I will almost always fall back to a cheeseburger. So, with that in mind, I'll take a cheeseburger, done medium-to-medium well, with gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and horseradish mustard, on a toasted, buttered artisan bun. On the side, I'd have a dill pickle spear and shoestring french fries, fried in lard and salted lightly. Since this lunch is "ideal," I'm eating it on a weekend and can have a beer, I'll pair it with a Kronenbourg 1664.
Finally, Arizona Wildcat @JohnJohnPhenom wants to know why most of the Chikarmy is critical of Eddie Kingston not helping Icarus while most of the other Chikara regulars are also bailing on the former Worst in the World?
Since I'm not in the heads of other Chikarmy members, I can't say why they think that way with any definition. However, the answer might lie in the fact that Icarus has torched bridges with the Colony, 3.0, and so many other traditional tecnicos. But Kingston? Icarus never really did much to wrong Kingston, at least recently. I would say he never did much to wrong UltraMantis Black either recently. In fact, Icarus coming to their aid during Dark Cibernetico ought to have endeared him to those two more than anyone else on the roster. Maybe those fans realize all the context and are putting their scorn on targets who are easier to heap it upon. However, I do agree. Chikara's more important than luchas de apuestas or petty grudges. But hey, what do I know.