Saturday, February 15, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 65

Photo Credit:
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, especially around Friday night after Smackdown, and wait for the call. Anyway, time to go!

Notre Dame fan and taco connoisseur @NDEddieMac asks why I think they scrapped the Leo Kruger gimmick, and what is with all the name drops.

I'm baffled and discouraged by Kruger's gimmick and name change too, man. Kruger seemed to find a niche as Wrestling Kraven, and like Batista in 2010, his work in the ring improved with his advancement in character. The Full Sail crowd is kinda hot for everything that isn't CJ Parker, so I can't see him not being over as the reason. Maybe they took the Kraven ethos seriously, and had him "commit suicide" after losing 2-0 to Sami Zayn in that best two-of-three falls match? I don't know. What I do know is this Adam Rose gimmick feels derivative, and he's going to need to nail it.

Now, as for Antonio Cesaro becoming "Cesaro" and Big E Langston becoming "Big E," honestly, I don't think it matters. For one, WWE has been giving their women singular names forever, so I'm glad it's practicing some semblance of gender equity. But really, WWE is your entertainment provider/wrestling company, not your mother. They can call those wrestlers by one name or fifteen names. HOw you want to refer to these wrestlers is up to you.

/plans on calling Triple H "Fuckface von Shittinmouth" from here on out

Stephen T. Stone of the Complete Shot Blog asks which HOSS FIGHT I want to see in WWE this year.

WWE gave a preview of it on RAW Monday. I want to see a 20-minute, RAW-or-pay-per-view main/sub main event match between Antonio Cesaro and Sheamus. Both men have the potential to be the best wrestlers in WWE regardless of size; for me, Sheamus was hands-down the best guy in WWE in 2012, and Cesaro was at least in the running with Daniel Bryan and Goldust this past year. If WWE were to give these two a platform and an extended story to tell, they would tear down the arena. Sheamus is maybe the best ever at looking realistically vulnerable as a big man, which plays to Cesaro's strengths excellently. Meanwhile, Sheamus also has the imposing stature and roughneck moveset that looks best when implemented against the Swiss Superman.

Co-author of Irresistible vs. Immovable, David Kincannon, asks what Christian being the only one to lose to Randy Orton in the build for Elimination Chamber so far means.

You could read something into the rumors that WWE isn't going to offer Christian another contract once his current one is up, or the fact that noted Vince McMahon ass-kisser JBL is parroting the "CHRISTIAN IS UGLY HURR HURR" talking point now that he's back as evidence that Christian is just there to play out the string or because one straggler in Creative goes to bat for him. Personally, I think Orton losing all five matches would be a bad look going into the Chamber. If I were booking things, he would've lost to Cesaro, needed Kane to beat Bryan, and beaten the other three cleanly but by the skin of his teeth. Of course, the Sheamus match on Monday is looking more and more like an Orton win now, but who the fuck knows anymore.

What I'm trying to say is the win over Christian was less a referendum on Captain Charisma and more an indictment on how weaksauce week-to-week WWE booking is. Again, I know creating 267 hours of original content a year (roughly 250 more than a regular TV show) is difficult, but that strain doesn't necessarily absolve them of creative mistakes.

Father of the World's Strongest Baby, @AyYoAlo wants me to pretend that I'm JTG. Do I stay on the roster even if I'm barely on television, or do I try to seek employment elsewhere?

Well, according to the salary reports floating around, JTG will approximately make $120,000 during 2014. Getting paid six figures basically to travel, hang out backstage, maybe wrestle once a week for a dark match, and keep being associated with the "WWE Superstar" label sounds like a pretty decent deal. Of course, all of the above is contingent on that $120K figure being accurate, but for the sake of argument, I'll assume it to be true.

Obviously, money isn't everything for everyone. Professional fulfillment is a strong draw for some folks. Now, is JTG one of those people who needs to do stuff in addition to being compensated financially? I don't know. However, I have no problems drawing a paycheck for doing not a whole lot. I'd stay on the roster for as long as I could, train at the Performance Center in preparation for the day when Vince McMahon realizes I'm dead weight, and then go on from there. This economy is not kind to the unemployed, and for as much intrigue or reinvention as JTG might be able to pull on the indie circuit, if I were he, I would wanna suck on that WWE teat for as long as I could.

The folks at the What A Maneuver podcast ask who the ONE TRUE TIGER MASK is.

C'mon bro, Satoru Sayama is the one true Tiger Mask. He's the original guy under the hood, and he had the most memorable string of matches anyone had under said hood. Besides, Tiger Mask II attained his own glory without the mask as a guy you may have heard of, Mitsuharu Misawa. The other Tiger Masks are all clones of clones anyway.

Official Royal Rumble statistician Scott T. Holland asks whether I'd rather wrestle the opener or the penultimate match on a big card.

Give me the opener all the time. The penultimate match is a toss-up. Sometimes, that match will be Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H, a match that gets scads of time and a story behind it. Other times, you'll get to be the cool-down match that everyone goes to the bathroom for. But the opener? Everyone's in their seats for that match, and you get to set the tone for the event, whether the match is thrown together or has a story behind it.

Michigan's finest, @sallen_87, asks if the WWE Network doesn't render them obsolete, which Best of Compilation would be a must-buy for me.

Well, first I would go back into the DVD sets that I have already and FINALLY finish watching my Eddie Guerrero best-of comp. I started watching it one day and just never got back into it after I stopped. But as for wrestlers who never got official WWE releases, I want to see a Dynamite Kid comp, but only if WWE gets footage from his New Japan work against Tiger Mask. Dynamite may be one of the most influential wrestlers ever, but I struggle to agree with whether that influence was good or bad. I want to see the straight dope and judge for myself.

Local Chikaraphile @GayWrestlingFan asks if I make anything of the Bond-theme for the upcoming Chikara shows.

I'm sure Chikara has a reason for this thematic choice of show naming, but that reason eludes me at the present time. Maybe it's comparing the Jimmy Jacobs-led villainous conglomerate of henchmen to SPECTRE, although Jacobs is far more dashing than Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Future weatherman and former Penn State blog maven Dan Vecellio asks if Cody Rhodes is a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

This question is tricky because a fundamental difference could exist between my view of things and reality. Personally, I see Cody Rhodes work in the ring and see a fundamentally pure babyface wrestler who seems to know how to orchestrate a crowd to his advantage. But I've had the argument made to me that WWE doesn't see things that way because this partnership with Goldust has done more to put the shine on the bigger brother than get the little one over. I can see that being the case, even if I don't agree with it. WWE wouldn't be having Rhodes jump off cages if they didn't think he was the future. I can see him winning Money in the Bank and cashing in honorably (or even dishonorably if they want him to go heel again).

@OkoriWadsworth asks what the better export from Detroit is: The Motor City Machine Guns or coneys.

Since hot dogs can't take part in misogynist stories involving their girlfriends, let's go with the coneys. Apologies to Alex Shelley, of course.

Moustachioed Robocop enthusiast @NielJacoby asks how I'd book a Real Americans breakup.

I wouldn't break the team up as much as I would split them from Zeb Colter. I don't think Jack Swagger is ready to be a singles superstar (I don't think he'll ever be ready), but as an enforcer/tag partner/gatekeeper, he could have a really long career. Cesaro is the guy who has the most upward mobility, and I think if they stay tethered to each other, they could help each other out in the long run. As for how I'd split them from Colter, I would keep building tension between the team and manager by having Colter's anger level at their mistakes grow and grow until he's furious at them over nearfalls within matches. The breaking point would come at WrestleMania, when Cesaro and Swagger lose to whatever team Hulk Hogan decides to manage. The next night on RAW, Colter blows a gasket and fires them on the spot. Swagger and Cesaro don't take kindly to it and approach Colter until his new team of new Real Americans, Ryback and Curtis Axel, rolls out to attack them.

Quidditch maven @chudleycannons asks which wrestlers would make the best curlers.

I honestly have very little clue about how curling works except that it takes concentration, upper body strength, and Canadianness. With that in mind, I'd probably go with William Regal, who is patient and has excellent concentration during matches, Mark Henry, who is the World's Strongest Man in part because he's got a rock solid upper body, and Christian, because he's Canadian.

@DexDynamo wants me to choose a member of the Chikara and WWE rosters to switch places and give reasoning.

I would put Eddie Kingston in WWE, after dropping the Grand Championship to Icarus, of course. He's done about all he can do in Chikara, and he's gotten himself into great shape over the last year or so. From WWE to Chikara, I would transplant Justin Gabriel. He seems not to be doing anything in WWE right now, and he'd be a great stylistic addition to the Chikara roster.

Assuming he doesn't win the Chamber, my Barclays Premier League sherpa @RTVWOW asks what I'd like to see Antonio Cesaro do at WrestleMania.

Mark Henry is the World's Strongest Man. Cesaro is the WWE's official purveyor of Feats of Strength. Put two and two together, and you get the World's Strongest WrestleMania Matchup.

@TheEnforcer4 asks if I think Cesaro is good to his mother.

This TweetBag sure is Cesaro heavy, isn't it? Anyway, I think not being nice to your mother is illegal in Switzerland, so he's probably grown up with that maternal fealty imbued by law.

The folks over at the Bushido Blog ask if I prefer long hair/tights Chris Jericho or short hair/trunks.

Give me the long hair and the tights any day. As good as post-comeback Jericho was at times, the short hair and trunks always felt weird to me. Classic Jericho with the glitter t-shirts, the lion's mane hair, and the long tights was always his best look.

Semi-anonymous Philly sports maven @jackcantcook asks what five wrestling themes I'd like to see figure skaters do a routine to.

5. The Wyatt Family Theme - Let's get weird, shall we?

4. Quebecers Theme - Honestly, the Canadians don't need help doing ice sports, but some enterprising Quebecois figure skater NEEDS to do a routine to this song.

3. Mark Henry's Theme - The judges wouldn't dare give the skater or pair using this theme anything lower than a 9. Not even the French judges.

2. Real American - ESPECIALLY if someone uses it at Sochi this year.

1. American Males Theme - Ditto above, only up the irony factor by a billion.

Foremost fan of California's First Corgi, @rancho_king33, asks if WWE should bring back Championship scramble matches.

I actually dug the concept of the scramble match. I would like for WWE to bring it back as a yearly staple instead of Hell in a Cell because the Scramble is the kind of match it can book with random guys without cheapening the gimmick. Hell in a Cell is a blood feud culmination match.

Once and future TWB writer Bill Dempsey asks who's better to end the Streak than Roman Reigns.

Reigns is definitely a good choice, but Daniel Bryan remains the best choice to end The Streak. Bryan right now is set up so that things outside of winning Vince McMahon's Brass Ring©. Getting the chance to wrestle Undertaker would be the ultimate sign of respect from the last remaining member of the old guard in good standing, and winning would signal that he's the chosen one of the locker room, a mantel he could carry like the Undertaker did throughout most of his career. Taker never really held a whole lot of titles in his career for how long it was, but nearly every match and feud he was in was important. Bryan beating him could symbolize a similar importance and lessen the blow of him not getting as many title runs as you or I might think he should get.

That all being written, we now know that John Cena will be the one to end the Streak, because that's how it always works out.

In honor of NBA All-Star Weekend, @Tvs_Tim_Biewald asks me to come up with a Skills Competition that befits pro wrestling.

A skills competition would be a great addition to WrestleMania weekend, especially since the WWE Network will be in place by that time. You could get really creative with the different kinds of events, but I'll kick it off with three:

Body Slam Challenge: A freestyle event where the competitors look to perform the most impressive variant of a body slam. Whether the move is performed on a really fat guy, an exceedingly tall and muscular fellow, or multiple wrestlers at a time, whatever is adjudged to be the most impressive by the panel wins.

Skin the Cat: How many times can you "skin the cat" without getting rope burn on your hands? This event will get repetitive, but trying to get back into the ring while hanging from the top rope is a talent worth measuring.

The Flippy Shit Challenge: Get the Performance Center training ring in there and challenge wrestlers to see who can do the most impressive flips and twists mid-air. Since this challenge is most like figure skating of the three, Sylvester LeFort will always serve as the infamous "French judge" just so he can undersell everyone in the contest, especially that dirty Englishman Adrian Neville.

I almost went with "Hornswoggle Tossing" as an event, but somehow, I don't think that one would go over well.

Displaced Philadelphia expat @wildvulture asks if because of DDP Yoga and the Wellness Program whether this generation will last longer than prior ones.

All I could think of when I read this question was John Cena headlining WrestleMania L against Aurora Rose Levesque because of a combination of DDP Yoga and stem cell milkshakes that he consumes every day. In all seriousness though, while the conditioning methods are getting better and better, the art is getting more and more high impact, and diagnosis tools are getting more precise in locating problems with the body. Wrestling is never going to be so safe that the traditional dangers of joint damage, paralysis, and CTE are going to go away. That being said, DDP Yoga/Wellness/other conditioning methods combined with a rotating offseason could help stars stay healthier longer.

But then again, the silver lining of the Hulk Hogan era for a lot of fans is that it ended. Do you really want to see John Cena and Randy Orton's careers prolonged that much?

Noted liar, fraud, and co-host of the Wrestling Culture podcast Dylan Hales asks why I'm still awake.

I'm actually not. I've been sleeping through writing this blog for the last three years.

@HeyDarsie asks if John Cena's 14-time World Championship mantel means as much as Ric Flair's 16-time record.

I used to think title reigns didn't mean as much anymore, but I don't think that the big Championship will ever not be over. I think title reigns, both the length and amount, mean as much as what the people promoting the art want them to mean. I don't want to generalize about every wrestling fan, but I think the vast amount of fans out there will take a good portion of what the wrestling companies give them at face value. While I don't watch like that and don't advocate consuming wrestling thoughtlessly, many people "turn their brains off" when they tune into RAW or go to any kind of wrestling show at any level.

So if they're told a title means something, guess what? It means something. Obviously, the generation gap will cause arguments. Some of those who grew up watching Ric Flair's title reigns are going to swear that the belts don't mean as much today as they did back then. However, wrestling tropes have remained remarkably stable over the last 30 years outside of a blip during the Monday Night Wars that I think both Flair and Cena are somewhat similar.

Marc Normandin of Over the Monster and Sports on Earth asks if The Shield were to continue on without Roman Reigns, which wrestler from NXT or the current roster would I want to replace him.

My dream replacement for Reigns is actually someone not even on the roster right now. I would love to see WWE sign Uhaa Nation and insert him right next to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins after Reigns invariably splits from the group. Going from what they have in house, however, I would go with Leo Kruger. Abrupt name-change aside, he already has a similar motif, and he's similar to Reigns in size and look. HE would be the perfect replacement.

Future podcast guest and representative of Bucky's 5th Quarter Andrew Rosin asks whether or not I think Cesaro will be a main event player this time next year.

WWE has this weird habit where a guy breaks out and gets hot, and then it cools that person down by doing something monumentally stupid like booking them in a no-win angle against John Cena or giving them an insane losing streak angle. I don't know what the post-WrestleMania season holds for Cesaro. He could win the Money in the Bank briefcase in July and headline Survivor Series, or he could spend three months jobbing to Great Khali. Given the god-mode treatment he's being given now and his sheer size in a company that values size though, I'll give him 3-1 odds to be a main event type dude by next year.

Finally, @PhilaBCoulter asks how pro wrestling handled a gay athlete coming out better than the NFL has so far.

I can't speak for other promotions, but WWE seems to have handled one of their own coming out for one big reason: Pat Patterson. The worst kept secret in the WWE locker room was Patterson's sexuality, and surprisingly in the face of a lot of people within the company having almost caveman attitudes in other areas of social progress, he was able to rise to considerable power within the structure of the Federation. I guess having the guy who MADE the Royal Rumble being gay was able to soften attitudes around the company towards other gays. Either way, their attitude has been pretty good, at least since Darren Young came out.

Then again, I've heard some pretty nasty stories about how Chris Kanyon was treated during his time in WWE, so maybe it wasn't all sunshine and unicorns...