Sunday, April 27, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 74

Why do I have to follow his character development on Instagram?
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!

Oh, WWE might be doing fine right now, but the company is far from perfection, which is about the only thing that precludes any entity from needing to improve. For example, the announcing is godawful and is the wrestling world equivalent of listening to a series of wet farts. Though Paige's debut seems to be a step in the right direction, the Divas need a shitload of work. WWE still budgets time like Congress budgets money, and while the rash of extended matches the company has put on has been satisfying on my end, I wouldn't be too sad if it lopped off a little bit of time of each longer match to give some midcarders mic time or some stories below the main event narratives some play. Like, Big E Langston making his Instagram a must follow is great, but why is he forced to do most of his character development via social media instead of on camera?

WWE is in a great place right now, don't get me wrong. The main event stories are cooking, the match quality has never been better, and The Network is working as an awesome supplement to what's on the main narrative. But the company is far from not needing any improvement.

Bam Bam Bigelow is a great choice, and probably my kneejerk reaction answer. He got to strut his stuff in all three big companies in the '90s, but then again, how many memorable matches did he have for the right reason? I'm sure he's got a few, but Vader, who got the big pushes to go with his ability, has plenty of great bouts. Then again, comparing matches just based on push alone seems disingenuous and unfair. This comparison sounds like a project to be aided by the WWE Network! That all being said, my answer isn't either one of them at present time. Kevin Steen is my pick for the best agile big man ever. That answer could be my recency bias speaking, but Steen is the consummate pro wrestler, and the fact he's doing it with a beer belly makes him even more awesome in my view.

Wrestler number one would be Bryan Danielson/American Dragon/Daniel Bryan. He's clearly the best modern wrestler ever, and while his body of work behind him is impressive and imposing, his work at redefining the landscape of WWE only seems like it's beginning. Not only would his excellent work in WWE and ROH be included, but he'd have spot appearances in DGUSA and Chikara, plus formative years stuff in TWA and Memphis and overseas wrestling.

Wrestler number two would be Eddie Guerrero. In a relatively short career for an all-timer, Guerrero worked in a bunch of important places against a myriad of top opponents. His cross-section would include lucha libre, WCW, ECW, New Japan Pro Wrestling, WWE, IWA Mid-South, and ROH, which is a fantastic career trail.

The third and final wrestler would be "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Sure, his career got a bit warped and awful by the end in WCW, but from his humble beginnings in his father's promotions through Memphis, the WWF, and finally the first portion of his WCW career, his arc was fascinating to say the least. Whether wrestling in marvelous, well-regarded contests like against Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, or Diamond Dallas Page, or in weird clashes of style like against Bruno Sammartino, George Steele, and Dusty Rhodes, Savage's career was entertaining to say the least.

As long as you wake up late for school, even if you don't wanna go...

I'm not sure if any '80s wrestling death will mess me up as much as Randy Savage's did. He was the pinnacle for me, an enigmatic but endearing wrestler whose body of work left an indelible mark on my formative years. Everyone else who affected me like Savage has waivers on their theoretical deaths. The loss of Bobby Heenan's lower jaw to cancer has already affected me like he's died, which could turn out to be morbid. However, seeing him the way he is so sad that I'm not sure death would add that much more grief. Hulk Hogan is such a cartoon character that I almost wouldn't believe he'd died.

I guess the one person who could die that would screw me up bad would be "Mean" Gene Okerlund. He was such an iconic voice, and he looks like he's aged maybe five years in the last 30. He's a guy who feels like he'd live forever, so that if/when he goes, I dunno how much I'd be able to handle it.

Nope. NXT and WWE either need to be in full continuity, or they need to be separate. Pointing back to the first question, it's just another reason why WWE needs continual improvement.

I'm willing to forgive the initial feud vs. Kane, who has a career as a sub-main event kinda guy, for two reasons. First, Bryan has a deep history with him that this match makes sense. Second, Bryan just came off getting the most royal treatment at the WrestleMania that the most people theoretically saw in history. Taking one pay-per-view off to focus on The Shield, three men who have only been the most important cog in WWE since November 2012, is not only acceptable but desired. However, if SummerSlam comes along, and the main event for the fifth straight pay-per-view is something other than Bryan vs. challenger, then WWE will have shown its true hand. I hate saying to give the company the benefit of the doubt when it doesn't particularly deserve it, but it's treading new territory with The Network and the PPV structure. I'm willing to wait, regardless of how tenuous it feels.

The worst heel turn was Rikishi's, revealing that he ran over Steve Austin for The Rock. WWE isn't the best company to be doing race-based angles now; what made anyone think it was the outfit to tackle such a story in 2000? The most telegraphed heel turn, in retrospect, was probably Tatanka's. No one puts the hard accusation on someone else in wrestling without having skeletons to hide in their closet to begin with, and Tatanka accused Lex Luger of joining the Million Dollar Corporation more vociferously and frequently than the Tea Party accused President Obama of being a traitorous Muslim Kenyan socialist.

Again, my recency bias might be showing here, but Daniel Bryan kicking the shit out of Bray Wyatt in the cage after his two week occupation by savages ended was pretty slick. The ferocity of the beatdown, coupled with how badly Wyatt had been harassing him for the two moths prior AND the crowd noise, made for a surreal, special ending to RAW.

As pointed out by @InTerraDeorsum, Chikara announced that it might not even announce any of the matches before the show. That announcement has rankled some folks who demand that wrestling companies announce matches before shows happen. I can understand that mindset, but in the case of Chikara, the company sold out its initial allotment for tickets for its return show within a week of announcing it three months before the date. It sold out the first half of a show in Chicago so fast that it announced a second show. Obviously, if people are buying tickets to the show within minutes of it being announced, they don't particularly care who is appearing or in what capacity.

I'm the last person to ask whether Chikara should announce matches ahead of time or not, because whenever I see that a show is happening within driving distance on a date that works for me, I am buying tickets. Chikara is my favorite wrestling promotion of all-time, and I go to its shows regardless of what the matches are. If more people are like me than are like those who demand matches be announced, then what incentive does the company have to announce matches? Will that strategy work forever though? I don't know. But then again, closing up shop for nearly a year, going completely viral, and building a story through ancillary promotions was against the grain too. Unlike WWE, Chikara's earned my trust, so it will have said trust until it does something to break it.