|A lot of questions swirling around Bryan for Mania|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
First, @HummerX wants to know how he can quit going to wrestling message boards.
I used to go to a wrestling message board quite frequently as well. I've even referenced it on here a few times. Honestly, I can't talk too much shit about that place, because the linkbacks I got from it gave me some page hits back in the day even after I left. But why did I leave? I was a posting member there for over a decade.
As it turns out, message boards tend to attract the worst kinds of people. Not all message boards are garbage. Dylan, who has a question below, will swear by places like Pro Wrestling Only. But intelligent discussion doesn't usually happen at these places. Furthermore, they also tend to attract the misogynists and the transphobes and the unironic versions of @PFTCommenter. So in addition to HOT RASSLIN TAKES, you tend to get the Bitcoin enthusiasts and birth certificate truthers as well.
Anyway, the best way to quit those kinds of places is just to stop going altogether, like I did with the one site in question. Quit cold turkey. Take refuge in the warm, comforting blanket that is Twitter, where you can filter out the people whose feeds you choose to take in. I joked the other day that I see and hear more people bitching about people who do nothing but complain about wrestling than I do the people who spam complaints all day long. The reason is that I don't follow anyone who is an Eeyore about the art. That fact about Twitter is utter brilliance. Just stay swaddled in Twitter, load up your RSS, and keep track of all the folks' birthdays you care to remember on Facebook, and your online life will be not as painful.
Next up, crack journalist Ken Borsuk asks if Triple H and Daniel Bryan will go on last in order to give Bryan his WrestleMania moment.
If I were laying out WrestleMania, I would have a hard time deciding among three choices. First choice obviously would be Trips/Bryan, which contains the payoff to eight months of storyline development. The second choice would be Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. The Streak pretty much has become the de facto top Championship in all of American wrestling, and with only a few matches left in Taker, each contest becomes more and more special. The third choice would be a triple threat for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and the only way that three-way would go on last is if Bryan were inserted into the match for the eventual win. CM Punk coming back doesn't lift that match past Bryan/Trips or Taker/Lesnar. Obviously, Randy Orton vs. Batista by itself is not anchoring WrestleMania XXX. Either way, Bryan has a 2/3 shot of ending WrestleMania in the world's largest YES! chant. I like those odds.
@riskteenz wants to know who should go over to New Japan Pro Wrestling as the new crop of gaijin.
Currently, the gaijin on the roster are the Young Bucks, Alex Shelley, Karl Anderson, Prince Devitt, Tama Tonga, King Fale, Doc Gallows, Shelton Benjamin, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith, Jr., Rocky Romero, and Alex Koslov. That lineup is pretty intense to go along with their impressive list of native Japanese who wrestle for them. I don't watch NJPW regularly, but I think I get their style enough to know which wrestlers I might want to see take a tour or two for them. TJ Perkins is first on the list, because he's legitimately the most gifted mat wrestler I've ever seen. The ease with which he makes exchanges and holds look is incredible. Second, I would probably go with Masada just to fuck some shit up over there. Why should FREEDOMS and the other death match promotions get all the fun? Third, Michael Elgin would probably fit over there like a glove. Let him get a run with NJPW and see how that goes.
@unicomehe asks which son of Mike Rotunda is making him prouder: Bray Wyatt or Bo Dallas.
The apparent answer would be Wyatt, because he's going after the biggest fish to fry in WWE's pond, and Dallas is a goober who just lost his hardware to a guy Renee Young had to take a wide stance just not to tower over. However, Rotunda's character arc over the years has been super-patriotic American dude, snooty letterman jacket-wearing jackass, pencil-pushing number cruncher, and nWo B-Team member. Dallas is the son who is staying in the family business. Wyatt took some experimental drugs, and before anyone knew it, he left the family estate to go join a cult. I would think the former IRS would feel a bit more pride for the Troll King son rather than the psycho hillbilly. But then again, I'm not Mike Rotunda, so I just don't know.
@OkoriWadsworth wants to know who my favorite WCW and WWE Cruiserweight Champions were and why.
Best WCW Cruiserweight Champion would be Rey Misterio, Jr. He was the signature Champion in the early days as a feelgood babyface and a technical and high-flying marvel in the ring. Plus, he had one of the best matches in WCW history for it with Eddie Guerrero at Halloween Havoc, one where he staked his mask to gain the title.
The WWE version of the title was mostly contested while I was on hiatus from wrestling, but I do remember Tajiri having a few swanky matches for the belt. I'll go with him.
Sitemaster of Pro Wrestling Update Jonathan Sullivan asks if I think ska will have another revival period.
Was ska ever really that big in the first place? I remember when Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris broke out that one year, but the genre felt like a blip. Anyway, I doubt any kind of rock 'n roll music will ever truly boom again, although really, any genre, no matter how expansive or narrow, will survive.
@mikechauvet asks if WWE should put a NXT match on the WrestleMania card.
Absolutely yes. The company has put NXT onto The Network, and it's bleeding the edges between continuities more and more by the day. So, of course NXT should have a spot at the table. The big question is which match should be booked? The hopeless romantic in me would go for Sami Zayn vs. Antonio Cesaro V, but realistically, I would probably book Zayn vs. Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship. Basically, I want Sami Zayn at WrestleMania in an honest to God match.
Wrestling Culture co-host Dylan Hales asks what arcane wrestler, time period, or territory he should obsessively research next.
Steve Regal. No, not the English wrestler who came over, did a lot of drugs, became a Man's Man, and who is widely regarded as one of the most technically gifted wrestlers of all-time, but the dude of the same name who wrestled in the AWA and other territories in the '80s, before the other Regal came over. I want to know more about this guy, and why Bill Watts decided that he would so blatantly crib that name for his English import. Was this Steve Regal that forgettable that Watts thought no fan would care? I need to know!
@PlanetaryWren asks if I could do a HOSS RANKING for the current WWE roster.
Going WWE proper and not NXT here, just because I can.
1. ANTONIO CESARO - He's not only the strongest guy on the roster, but probably the most graceful too. DUAL THREAT HOSS.
2. BROCK LESNAR - I'll forgive getting stabbed in the hand by The Undertaker, especially since he probably got a whole crate of Jimmy Chips to heal up.
3. ROMAN REIGNS - He's so smooth, his blood type came up "SWAG" at his last Wellness checkup.
4. CORPORATE KANE - I want to know how he got so jacked. I also wanna know how he actually wrestles in wingtips and dress slacks.
5. UNDERTAKER - For a guy who only shows up for two months out of the year, he retains an awful lot of HOSSINESS.
6. BIG E LANGSTON - Sure, he might be a massive prop right now in the Real Americans break up, but he at least takes home the prize of FUNNIEST HOSS.
7. LUKE HARPER - Surprisingly articulate for a guy who hangs out with a mute in a sheep mask and Max Cady with a glandular condition.
8. JACK SWAGGER - Hey, his jacket says BIGG HOSS. Who am I to argue?
9. SHEAMUS - I would rank him higher, but for a HOSS, he bruises a little too easily, don't you think?
10. MARK HENRY - Even though he only shows up anymore as Lesnar's personal punching bag, Henry is HOSS PRIME, and leaving him off this list is NOT WHAT I DO, WHUT.
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES. BRODUS CLAY, GREAT KHALI, BIG SHOW, ERICK ROWAN, BATISTA, JASON ALBERTS/TENSAI, TITUS O'NEIL, THE RYBACK
INCOMPLETE. ALEXANDER RUSEV - His theme song and podium-standing game are on point, but I need to see more than preening and presentation. I NEED FLESH SLAPPING AGAINST MORE FLESH, DAMMIT.
Strong Island bro @mikepankowski wants to know if I agree that the lariat is a weak finisher.
I absolutely disagree. Watch Stan Hansen do a Western Lariat. Even JBL's Clothesline from Hell looked devastating. Hell, the most over finisher in NJPW and maybe the most popular non-WWE finisher in the world is the Rainmaker, which is a ripcord short-arm clothesline that looks absolutely stellar when done right. I know Adam Rose may not have the best lariat right now, but he'll grow into it. Don't judge all clotheslines by his right now.
CZW bro @RealRobPandola wants me to play some Genesis.
@Jason_DeFarge wants to know what the best way to get heels over on purpose is in WWE in the PG era.
Discussing fan psychology is always tricky because trying to discern whether entire crowds are making the noise or just a really vocal minority is a pain in the keyster. I'm sure some folks get legitimate heel heat nowadays. Damien Sandow got a lot of heat for his Money in the Bank shenanigans, but he seems exception rather than rule. Maybe meta storytelling is the wave of the future, or maybe WWE is getting closer and closer to the point where it can present characters for consumption the way NASCAR or UFC do out of necessity. No more heels or faces, but wrestlers of varying fanbase sizes.
Noted anteater @Enrico_Palazzo_ asks why WWE just doesn't force JBL and Jerry Lawler to sit, A Clockwork Orange style, and watch Bobby Heenan commentary on loop for hours.
Jesse "The Body" Ventura would work too. Hell, even Jerry Lawler from the '90s might be a good substitute if his racism and sexism wasn't more overt and accepted. Anyway, if the rumors are true, Vince McMahon is to blame for the obnoxiousness in the booth. Apparently, JBL amuses him, and Lawler right now seems to have as much will not to follow the leader as Wimpy when his nose catches the scent of hamburgers. The best hope for the future is that the way Triple H runs NXT will be the way he runs WWE when he gets his hands on it.
Kayfabermetrics head bee guy Matthew Timmons asks if The Shield could split amicably to preserve the option of future team-ups.
Well, Razor from Kick-Out Wrestling had the idea that The Shield should be like The Avengers. That kind of comic storytelling would actually feel innovative for WWE, although they dabbled in it during the Attitude Era. D-Generation X went in diaspora for awhile, but when Triple H made the call for them to get back together, they reassembled. Do I trust WWE to do the same with The Shield? Not particularly, but I do think it could work.
Published author and auteur of The Only Way Is Suplex Carrie Dunn wants me to pick the next Divas Champion with one wrestler on the roster and one off it.
I will parse this question down even further and choose a current WWE roster member, a current NXT roster member, and someone from outside WWE. From within the main roster, I would choose Nattie Neidhart. The Divas Division seems to have been built around her as a mascot since Total Divas started, and to be completely fair, Vince McMahon owes her a solid after that whole farting gimmick. Seriously, how shameful was that? My NXT choice would be Bayley, who is the most natural babyface down there and who would have a money feud with AJ Lee, of course if WWE allowed women to have killer feuds over things that aren't boys or being jealous. From outside of the company, I would go with Athena. Again, I'm not sure WWE would let Athena and Lee have the match they could and should have, but I'm an idealistic shithead, so yeah.
@KolonelKayfabe wants to know what I think will be the main event of the first Chikara show.
The money match is going to pit Icarus vs. Jimmy Jacobs, but I doubt Chikara would blow that wad right away on the return card. In the past, the company would stack the lower parts of the card with feud matches and then put a fun match in the main event in the early stages of a big story. Then again, the "old" Chikara seems to be in the past at worst and a hand-me-down to Wrestling Is Fun! at best (see: TWGP). If they go with prior standard operating procedures, I would project a trios match in the main event, The Colony (Fire, Green, and assail/Worker Ants) vs. The Batiri (Obariyon, Kodama, and Kobald). If they decide to have a showdown-style match that ties into the big feud, I would project Jacobs, Qefka the Quiet, Ares, Fake Tursas, and Dr. Cube vs. Icarus, UltraMantis Black, and the Colony.
The wild card, however? A Grand Championship match. If gold is on the line, then I would project Kingston to defend against Icarus in a rematch.
@fairbeezy asks if I think anyone could pull off the shooter/amateur badass gimmick in 2014.
TO be honest, I don't think "shooter" is a gimmick that has legs by itself. What is that wrestler going to do, talk about how he/she trains all the time? Wrestling isn't about winning and losing so much as it's about character development and storytelling. A shooter as an in-ring style would be great, but the best way for it to work in 2014 would be the way Kurt Angle's early career played out.
@Doc_Ruiz2012 asks if Xavier Woods were a Rocky character, how quickly would he lose.
I'm sure you were tickled pink to see Xavier Woods refer to himself as the dude who died in the beginning of Rocky IV in the face of Rusev's Ivan Drago.
Stanford athletics booster @ajuarez_thatSID wants my breakdown of Vince McMahon's play-by-play announcing.
McMahon was not the best play-by-play announcer ever. He didn't know the names of any moves, and he seemed wooden at times. However, he brought two things that are supremely important for any wrestling announcer to the table. He was enthusiastic, sometimes to a fault, and he had rapport with his announcers, whether they were Ventura, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, or Bobby Heenan. He always tried to put over the importance of the story, and even if he didn't know a wristlock from a wristwatch, he was a valuable addition to the old school WWF announce booth.
Resident burger scion @georgemucus asks what pay-per-view event through the Network so far has surprised me the most with how well or poorly it aged.
I've only watched three events so far - I'm a busy man - but I'd have to say all three of them looked like they aged pretty well. Starrcade '83, WrestleMania I, and the first Royal Rumble all felt like modern wrestling events even with their stylistic anachronisms like primitive finishing moves and the use of promos to build matches instead of recap spam. I don't know whether wrestling is just an unchanging art that requires little change in the actual nuts and bolts (as opposed to distribution methods, which have changed for the better like wildfire in the last 30 years), or whether wrestling just has held itself back out of promoter inertia, but on the mainstream level at least, a wrestling show from the mid '80s is just as likely to entertain as one from the last five years.
TWB Royal Rumble statistician and co-author of Irresistible vs. Immovable Scott T. Holland asks if a wrestler's name-chantability is important and if not, whether he needs a catchphrase.
The question on Twitter was couched in Antonio Cesaro and his problematic "WE THE PEOPLE" chants, but the thing about all that is "Cesaro" lends itself to great, harmonic chanting. Seriously, three syllables, all of which flow together. That name was MADE for chanting. I think having a great name is part and parcel of being a great babyface, but then again, in the post-modern WWE, alignment really isn't mattering as much as it has historically. So yeah, I approve of everyone having a readily chantable name, especially in lieu of slightly racist at worst and xenophobic at best chants like "We the People."
@DasNordlicht91 wants to know my thoughts on DRASTIC character changes within WWE like Leo Kruger->Adam Rose and Husky Harris->Bray Wyatt.
WWE taking a character within its own canon and totally making it over might seem drastic, but the company has been doing it for years. The main difference is that Tony Atlas and Mike Rotunda had time to go to other territories before being reborn as Saba Simba and Irwin R. Schyster. Now that WWE really is the only game in town when it comes to the mainstream, its drastic rebranding of characters seems a bit more extreme. However, the examples listed in the question are both fantastic. In Rose's case, his change was a slight incline from the already-awesome Kruger character. But going from Harris to Wyatt? That move was the very definition of a game-changer. Husky Harris wasn't getting out of developmental. Bray Wyatt will headline multiple WrestleManias.
With Leather bloglord Brandon Stroud wants me to rank the Rosebuds.
1. KALISTO THE LIGHT STICK RAVER - Anyone who reminds me of the halcyon days when I would religiously check back to Homestar Runner for Strong Bad e-mails is alright by me. In fact, he was a lightswitch and knockoff Pikachu cosplay away from literally becoming The Cheat.
2. DUDE IN THE BLACK GREEN-MAN GET UP - Seriously, any callback to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a winner with me.
3. THAT OLEG THE USURPER LOOKING DUDE WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE BOUNCER - I would have ranked him #1 if he had an axe.
4. WHITE ODDJOB - Bowler hats are in, though.
5. ALEXA BLISS ALL PAINTED UP AND SUCH - She made me wistful for Daizee Haze for a second with her makeup. Also, her mom looks like her sister. SERIOUSLY.
6. SIMON GOTCH AS WHERE'S WALDO - Oh, there he is.
7. DJ SOLOMON CROWE - I would rank him higher, but he didn't shut down the NXT Arena from his iPad. COMMIT TO THE GIMMICK, SON.
8. EVERYONE ELSE - Honestly, I really should have ranked all the Rosebuds tied for first because they look like they are having so much goddamn fun. I wanna be a Rosebud.
Dirty Dirty Sheets site photographer Gregory Davis went to the Milwaukee Ring of Honor show and noted that Matt Taven's main event status had the crowd asking for shots. He wants my thoughts on this.
Depends, was the crowd asking for shots because Taven cheerled them into wanting it, or did they want shots because Taven was in the main event and wanted to get the experience wiped from their minds? I keed, I keed, from what I've seen from him, I've liked him enough.
Wrestle-fan librarian @LanceGarrison asks which wrestlers' legacies will be hurt and helped the most by the availability of archives on The Network.
Depending on how available WWE will make footage from Garden tapings, I imagine the wrestler who might be hurt the most is Bruno Sammartino. A lot of the aura surrounding him to newer fans might come from the talking points about how he was a huge draw at Madison Square Garden and all that, but from what I've heard, he was actually quite plodding and slow as a wrestler. I wonder if his perception will drop as more and more matches of his come to ready availability. As for those who may be helped, a bunch of midcard guys from both NWA and WWF could end up getting boosts in reputation. I imagine Greg Valentine, Ken Patera, and even Tito Santana might get boosts with newer fans. However, as for the guy I think could get the most shine, Bam Bam Bigelow might be your man. In my experience, Bigelow is universally respected as one of the first true hosses of the modern era. He may end up being seen in Vader territory with all the footage being released. He put in work across all three major promotions of the '90s, and with the trends towards appreciating bigger wrestlers, I think he might stand to gain the most in terms of notoriety.
Stephen T. Stone of the Complete Shot Blog asks how I'd book Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan.
I'm going to let @FalseUnderdog handle this (Seriously, follow him, he's cool):
Only acceptable booking for Bryan/HHH at WM: HHH laughs, smooches Steph, turns around into the Knee-Plus, gets beat in 18 seconds. Fin.
— Scar (@FalseUnderdog) March 4, 2014
Cole Hamels enthusiast @PhilaBCoulter asks if I think Michael Cole has been less annoying lately and why.
Cole's never really been that bad except when he was told to be the obnoxious bad guy play-by-play announcer. Sure, he can irritate with his shilling, but even when he's been distracted the most by JBL. For example, last night on Smackdown, he dropped a "that's not how I remember it" after Batista's white-washing of the events on RAW. That single phrase reminded me so much of when McMahon or Gorilla Monsoon would act as the voice of reason when a bad guy or Ventura/Heenan would try to spin an event in their favor. The problem isn't Cole.
Posterior connoisseur @GayWrestlingFan wants to know how WWE should build Orton/Batista assuming a third person isn't added.
WWE experimented with a heel vs. heel build at Elimination Chamber. I don't know if they built the Wyatt Family vs. The Shield because it was a hot hand or if they wanted to test the waters and see if black hat vs. black hat could be sustainable. If I were WWE, I would totally build up Orton and Batista as the most unlikeable people ever and let the match be an utter shitshow. Bryan/Trips, Lesnar/Taker, and Cena/Wyatt are gonna have way more heat anyway. Regardless of who wins, both guys would then be in the position of being in Trips' doghouse to the point where he has no choice but to give the guy who kneed him in the face at Mania the next shot at the title.
@TheEnforcer4 asks who rules the world.
|Photo Credit: WWE.com|
Official WRESTLEGASM sidekick Andrew Southern wants my top five alliterative wrestler names.
A lot of rankings this week. No explanations for this list, however.
1. BASTIAN BOOGER
2. DAMIEN DEMENTO
3. BIG BULLY BUSICK
4. DUKE "THE DUMPSTER" DROESE
5. BAM BAM BIGELOW
Yes, I skew towards the early '90s WWF, but no one can say they didn't do at least one thing right.
Assuming transportation and money aren't issues, Arizona Wildcat @JohnJohnPhenom asks me to pick two events from the following list: Extreme Rules, the ROH/NJPW Manhattan show, the EVOLVE NYC doubleshot, and the Chikara comeback show.
The Chikara comeback show is a given, because it's my favorite promotion making its grand return after almost a year away. The second pick is now among the two EVOLVE shows, the ROH/NJPW show, and Extreme Rules. EVOLVE is out because I doubt either show will be anything different than the milquetoast bullshit Gabe Sapolsky is famous for. The wrestling will be good, sure. However, two things are in play. First, I could go to ANY Gabe-promoted show and see something roughly similar to what will happen at the next doubleshot. Why should I forsake the Chikara return, ROH co-promoting show with the second biggest promotion in the world, or the WWE pay-per-view most likely to have my favorite wrestler right now winning the biggest prize possible?
The second show is now left to a choice between Extreme Rules and the NJPW Invasion show. The pros for going to see Extreme Rules would be that I'll be able to see Daniel Bryan either win or defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a packed house with 20,000 like-minded people screaming YES! YES! YES! The cons would be that I can get a far better view at home on the WWE Network, and that if he wins the title at Mania, the moment is decreased a bit. The pros for the ROH show is that not every day does NJPW send its top stars over to ANY promotion to co-mingle with another company's top wrestlers in a circus special attraction. The cons are that I haven't watched enough NJPW lately to know if I even like its in-ring product. With all the cards on the table though, I think I'd have to choose the ROH show. Again, I have The Network, and I get the feeling Bryan is being inserted into the title match at Mania, whether ahead of time or at the last minute. What better way for me to get my first real taste of New Japan than by seeing their stars up close and personal.
Wrestling on Earth co-conspirator @typicalROHfan asks where one could get a good cheesesteak around 30th Street Station or University City.
The wonderful thing about Philadelphia is that a good cheesesteak is probably no further than a stone's throw away. Many of the locals and students who go to Drexel University or the University of Penn will say that Abner's, located on Chestnut Street one storefront down from 38th, has the best. I've had one of its cheesesteaks a long time ago, and I thought it was above average, but not excellent. Then again, I've only had one while I was in college. A lot of things could have changed, so I would say start there.
But my late nights at the Drexel Triangle office have given me an affinity for two others in the area. One of the perks of working on a newspaper that sold ad space was that we had deals with several local pizzerias where we'd offer them block space in exchange for a weekly allowance of food. The first is Ed's Pizza and Wings, which is found on the 3500 block of Lancaster Ave., right up the street from Drexel. The second is Allegro Pizza at 40th and Spruce on Penn's campus. Both had cheesesteaks that fit the bill.
However, if you are on campus early enough for the food trucks to be open, you might want to try one from any number of the greasers that line the internal street on Drexel's grounds. If you head up Market Street, right past 31st, and hang a left on the pedestrian walkway right after the entrance to the first of Drexel's engineering buildings, you can see all the trucks lining up. I lived off those cheesesteaks when I had money and wasn't at the paper office.
The point here? Good cheesesteaks are everywhere. Just don't ever go to Pat's or Geno's. Ever.
Finally, Renee Young Fan Club President @brandon120 wants to know what I think will happen with True Detective since Matthew McConaughey won't be back for season two.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven't watched an episode of TD this season, although I may go back and binge-watch it. So my take on the whole thing might seem uninformed. That being said, I think the whole endgame was to have a self-contained miniseries and reset the pile next year. So not only will McConaughey not be returning, but Woody Harrelson isn't going to be back either. Tonight marks the finale of this first season, so I would expect some kind of permanent resolution. I heard that the showrunners are going to get more of a female presence in the protagonists' roles. Hopefully, the show won't take a patronizing turn like that awful-looking Killer Women show ABC tried to peddle.