|What a time to be a rasslin' fan|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
First up, @OkoriWadsworth asks if now is the best time for wrestling since mid-'90s All Japan.
I think right now, the scene is the absolute best it has been and can be for the sheer reason that the wrestlers within are drawing from every influence they possibly can. The spirit of that AJPW scene is alive, as well as the old New Japan junior heavy style from the '80s, the classic WWE/NWA main events laden with psychology, and even scenes such as the joshis and English World of Sport, filtered through the lens of Chikara. The current scene should be the best scene ever all the time because it can draw from everything that came before it. The fact that it always hasn't been the case in any given company at any given time speaks to the hubris promoters from time to time.
Crack journalist Ken Borsuk asks in honor of The Streak ending what my five most shocking booking moments ever were.
TOP FIVE LISTS YESSSS
1. The Streak ends - I know Brock Lesnar just ended it not one week ago, but I was part of the masses who didn't think he had a chance to fell Undertaker whatsoever. I thought it was the lockiest lock that ever locked that Undertaker would win.
2. Chris Jericho "defeats" Triple H - One Monday night in 2000, RAW began with a WWF Championship match between Chris Jericho and Triple H. I thought Jericho would be served up for fodder, but lo and behold, he actually won the match and the title. JOY! SUCCESS! PLEASANT SURPRISE! I didn't think the company would have the guts to pull of such a switch, but I was happy.
Of course, the good vibes were short lived. The show came back from commercial, and Trips had bullied referee Earl Hebner into reversing the decision. The rest of the show played out as frustratingly as I remember RAW was from 2000 through the time I stopped watching for a bit, with Triple H getting all his heat back and then some in the main event trios match, but I was still eminently surprised to see the company tease the title switch in the first place.
3. 1-2-3 Kid upsets Razor Ramon - Those jobber matches never ended in upset, at least in the kind of upset that launched a career like this match did for Sean Waltman. I remember watching in disbelief as Razor lost to this schlub.
4. Daniel Bryan pinning John Cena, clean, without shenanigans - I wasn't shocked that Bryan won, but winning in the middle of the ring with the busaiku knee and without some kind of convoluted plot? Especially when the only other wrestler to beat Cena clean in the middle of the ring in the prior 18 months was the fucking Rock? That element was what took me off guard.
5. Tadasuke wins Young Lions Cup IX - Maybe the surprise was more directed at Tadasuke taking the Cup back to Osaka Pro rather than him winning it. That shock was compounded when Green Ant went over to Osaka Pro presumably to retrieve the trophy and failed. In retrospect, having the Cup around may have taken away from the 12 Large Summit. Still, having Tadasuke take it out of Chikara was a legitimately surprising way to nullify its attention and put it all on the Grand Championship.
@ThisPhillyFan asks if I notice laziness in executing the Russian side leg sweep nowadays, especially with the lack of the user tucking his/her foot behind the victim's leg.
I've noticed the form on the Russian side leg sweep has gotten different to say the least over the years as well too. One of the only things I don't like about Damien Sandow in the ring is how he does the move. For all I know, he could be doing it in an acceptable way to himself, his opponent, and his agents and peers. Sometimes, aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder. I don't know if it's laziness or just form. But I do see a marked difference that could be construed as sloppiness or laziness.
Rumble statistician and co-author of Irresistible vs. Immovable Scott T. Holland asks how I'd salvage Damien Sandow.
Ah, unintentionally speaking of Mr. Sandow, he, like any one of many of the talented people floundering in WWE's sea of ignorance, just needs a good story, a reason to care. I would have him feud with Dolph Ziggler over a personal issue that starts from a random bump into each other in the back or a war of words on an in-ring talkshow segment like Miz TV or something better than Miz TV. They both can talk, and they've already proven that their excellent in-ring stylings mesh with each other. The Broadway Brawl was one of my favorite matches last year.
Stories about personal issues outside of the main event would help so many floundering midcarders within WWE. WWE's idea of a feud below the main thrust of the show is having dudes trade wins over a short period of time with no reason or advancement. No one gets a chance to stand out, so no one gets over. The reason why the Rock 'n Wrestling and Attitude Era midcards stood out wasn't because the wrestlers were more talented back in the day. They were presented better. Give Sandow, Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, or anyone that kind of platform, and they will be perceived better.
@Doc_Ruiz2012 asks on a scale of one to five how I'd rate Xavier Woods' movespeed.
Official East Coast emissary to the Badlands @dajerseyboy asks how I'd fantasy book Sara del Rey into WWE.
Fantasy booking? I would have her eat a Mario mushroom and koppo kick a bunch of bricks and collect gold coins.
In all seriousness, if I were in charge of WWE booking, I would have Antonio Cesaro lay out an open challenge after a hot streak of putting down guys like Big Show and Mark Henry. He'd be an intimidating presence, keeping possible challengers in the back. No one would step forward except for Sara del Rey. She would come out, claim she's beaten him before, and they would wrestle in a surprisingly even match. Cesaro gets the Giant Swing in, but del Rey would roll to the outside. Cesaro gives chase, she catches him with a koppo kick, rolls him back in, and pins him. Boom, instant impact made.
Diabolic dinosaur enthusiast @KevinNewburn asks if little TJ in 2030 decides he wants to join Zack Ryder's wrestling school what my reaction would be.
I would be aghast, but only because I don't want my son getting into a business that would chew him up and spit him out.
I kid, I kid. Hopefully, by the time TJ would want to get into wrestling, the business would have changed to be safer for the workers. As for Ryder as a teacher, he's made it to the top company in America, and when he was given a stage to perform in extended matches, he's shown he can be entertaining to watch. I could think of worse talents to open schools.
Token Canadian @DasNordlicht91 wants to know if I'd change anything about WrestleMania XXX if given the chance.
I had some minor quibbles with the show, but the one thing I wish I could change would be Lesnar giving Undertaker that concussion. However, the business of concussions isn't something that can be changed by a booking move. Even the safest workers can put their opponents in harm's way accidentally. With that in mind, no, I don't think I would have changed anything about the show. The 30th installment of WrestleMania wasn't perfect, but its flaws were inconsequential.
Purveyor of International Object Sawyer Paul asks how many hours of The Network's Mania coverage I watched before the big event.
I didn't watch a single hour until the pre-show, to be honest. Even then, I cut into it a half-hour late because my son was watching Sheriff Callie's Wild West. Note, do not come between TJ and his Disney, Jr. shows. To be honest, I have taken only to watching actual wrestling shows on The Network. Whether they be old footage shows like pay-per-views or the random ECW Hardcore Televisions or the first-run shows like NXT. The panel preview shows are good ideas in theory, but they need some work.
Paul's co-host on the International Object podcast, Rich Thomas, asks whom I think will have the biggest rise and the biggest fall between now and WrestleMania XXXI.
The biggest fall might just be Daniel Bryan, if only because people not named John Cena tend not to headline WrestleMania two years in a row. He will definitely still have a high-profile match. Bryan's not going anywhere in WWE's long term plans, but he may have had the most royal treatment at any WrestleMania of any superstar in history. Anything less than a title match victory in the closing match would be a huge dropoff, and honestly, I can't see anyone else as a candidate just out of the sheer heights to which he ascended this year.
As for the biggest riser, Cesaro comes to mind. The Andre the Giant Battle Royale win was sold as a big deal, but the match itself was the epitome filler to get a bunch of dudes a spot on Mania. I underestimated his absolute ceiling, and nine months out from the Royal Rumble, he's as good a candidate as any to project as a winner, right? The other high-risers would be Bray Wyatt, any of the three members of The Shield, or maybe even Big E Langston. But I just have a gut feeling about Cesaro.
Snorlax aficionado @mutantdog123 asks if WWE is pushing the Adam Rose gimmick along too quickly to the main roster.
The gimmick might be new, but the man behind it has been in developmental forever. The Aldous Snow-style party boy gimmick is one-dimensional; that dimension just happens to be incredibly fun and entertaining. The worst thing WWE could do is allow Rose to blow his proverbial wad in NXT when he's waited so long to get to the main roster. Rose's best chance for a long career is not to develop his gimmick, but to let his gimmick get him an in on the roster and to develop himself over time.
Big-shot freelance writer and Philly Magazine contributing editor Dan McQuade asks what my favorite Hulk Hogan movie is.
Does Gremlins 2 count?
He had three major starring roles - Mr. Nanny, Suburban Commando, and of course, the tour de force known as No Holds Barred. Then he had all the cameos and B-movie roles, the most famous of which was Rocky III. I like Rocky III a lot, but that movie was carried by Mr. T's over the top badassery and the unintentional same-sex romantic vibes between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, not by the Hulkster's turn as Thunderlips. Of the three big movies, I've not seen Mr. Nanny, so that's out. No Holds Barred was so over the top and kitschy, but I get embarrassed watching movies where the premise is that wrestling is totally real.
Suburban Commando might then seem like it wins by default, but that movie had a good heart, Christopher Lloyd acting as hammy as all get out, and the cinematic debut of THE UNDERTAKER. So yeah, that movie wins in a walk.
@DexDynamo wants me to break down the various subfactions of The Flood that threatens Chikara.
1. The Wrecking Crew - The Crew is five wrestlers deep, managed by a ruthless despot, and attracted to deep pockets. Those who wish to destroy Chikara seem to have loads of money, which will keep Sidney Bakabella's rogues busy.
2. Dr. Cube's Laboratory - His unholy will to create grotesque warriors is frightening. Plus, he may bring in Tucor.
3. The Faux-BDK - Ares knows how to infiltrate Chikara and conquer from within. That knowledge is dangerous in a war such as this.
4. Jimmy Jacobs - He is Mr. Indie Heel Faction, so him alone should send shivers down people's spines.
5. Gekido - This group can get under skin easily, but other than turning Jigsaw, they've been pretty ineffectual. Their ranking might shoot up if they can convince Jig to join them full time.
6. Sinn Bodhi's Carnival - lol
Philly expat @wildvulture asks if I think Bray Wyatt was obliquely referring to Undertaker in his promo to John Cena at Smackdown.
He might have been referring to Undertaker. Wyatt is on some next-level shit when it comes to his promos. However, my guess was he was making cryptic threats towards Cena.
Triumphantly returned Philly sports Tweeter @brianbrown25 asks my three favorite tag team names ever.
1. The Minnesota Home-Wrecking Crew
2. Head Cheese
3. Two Skinny Black Guys
Bro from the old neighborhood @Bdonn120 asks whom I see going into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 45 and 50.
Because wrestling is full of careers that end prematurely due to injury, I find projecting whose careers will span decades and whose will end abruptly like Edge's difficult to handicap. The manner of whether one happens to be on Vince McMahon's good side or not is an issue too. Regardless, my best guesses for each class:
WrestleMania 45 - Daniel Bryan, Scott Steiner, Evolution, the Dudley Boys, Maria Menounos, Wahoo McDaniel
WrestleMania 50 - Vince McMahon, Michael Cole, Mickie James, The Miz, Bill DeMott, Bo Dallas, Hugh Jackman
Those choices are more or less blind stabs, but then again, who would've thought that WWE and Bruno Sammartino ever would have buried the hatchet and had him inducted last year? Or the same for Warrior this year?
Finally, newsroom maven @czach1r asks me to stop bunting.
No, seriously, bunts are okay if you're Billy Hamilton and can get halfway up the baseline before anyone knows in what direction the ball is dribbling. But the willing sacrifice of an out just to move a runner over and increase the odds of scoring is the dumbest, most self-defeating strategy in baseball ever. You only get 27 outs in a game, and you want to waste one of them just for the chance to get a guy over one base? Get. The. Fuck. Outta. Here.