Thursday, July 10, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 84

Bryan's (final, maybe? *gulp*) run in WWE was him in god mode
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, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday morning. Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!
What would one define as "prime" either guy? Regardless, I haven't seen "prime" Liger as I've only seen him in spot duty in WCW and other American excursions, but one could argue that Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan had two peaks. His Ring of Honor Championship run happened during at time when I wasn't even watching WWE let alone the indies, but I would argue that his stretch between Extreme Rules 2012 and WrestleMania XXX could perhaps be the best run of any pro wrestler in WWE history. WWE has had some excellent wrestlers pass through its ranks, and having to choose Bryan among a pool that has two highly-regarded Shawn Michaels runs, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Kurt Angle, and even John Cena, but Bryan arguably revolutionized singles wrestling in WWE and helped define trios wrestling as a regular opponent of The Shield. It's a shame that his career hangs in the balance now, but man, what a run he had, what a mind-blowingly tremendous two year span he spent redefining art.

I think the best course of action is to tell children right off the bat that wrestling is a staged endeavor. The old kayfabe is dead, and quite frankly, I'm glad it is. You don't need to be defrauded into believing something is legitimate competition to know in your heart what you're seeing is real or feels real. I would advise teaching children to appreciate wrestling as an art, but as a special kind of art that relies on their participation and suspension of disbelief. Once they understand that the wrestlers aren't intentionally hurting each other, then I would probably go hard on letting them know not to repeat the stuff they see on TV in real life or at least without adult supervision. Raising wrestling fans takes a lot of work.

Not a chance. Heyman may be a great promo still, but I don't think he's helped anyone who hasn't already been established since the Dangerous Alliance, which I'm not sure is a function of him changing as a mic man or whether it was more a circumstance of the times. Could he tweak his style and get guys over? Maybe, since Curtis Axel's failings were evident in the booking from his first appearance under his new name, and since Cesaro was failed the moment he was a Heyman guy because his advocate decided to talk about Brock Lesnar for a month before even mentioning his other client. However, WWE seems to go with what it thinks works. Heyman draws reactions for what his shtick is, and if that is in Vince McMahon's or Kevin Dunn's or Triple H's comfort zone, then they're not going to change what they think works. Meanwhile, once Creative finally pisses on the ashes of that smoldering fire that was destined to break out after WrestleMania for Cesaro, it's not Heyman who's going to get the blame. WWE's lucky to have the immense resources it has, because any lesser company would be a dumpster fire with the poor decisions it makes.

Fourth down and eight at the other team's 45. 2:05 left on the clock, down three, only one timeout left. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

(You know I'm going to do this every time you submit lyrics from A Tribe Called Quest, right?)

WWE is a company that thinks that if it tells you what you're watching is the greatest shit ever, then you'll be more inclined to keep watching it. The talking points are centered around the false grandeur, which is why everything's historic and not a shred of historical perspective is to be found. That being said, if THAT talking point is what sticks in your craw the most watching WWE today, then I'd have to question your priorities.

The truth of the matter is that being a top guy in WWE rarely is ever a matter of having "it" and having "it" alone. Whether that mythical quality is immortal mic skills, sublime in-ring talent, superior presence, superlative body language, or some combination of all of the above, the most immortal stars in history needed some kind of luck to get where they were headed. Hulk Hogan had to be jerked around by the AWA. Ric Flair had to survive a plane crash. Bret Hart needed George Zahorian to put heat on the steroid users. Steve Austin needed Triple H to get in trouble for breaking kayfabe. Daniel Bryan had to lose in front of a crowd of hardcore fans in humiliating fashion and then for CM Punk to quit. Meanwhile, other guys like Brian Pillman and Art Barr and Del "The Patriot" Wilkes and everyone else who had some form of excellence attached to them but didn't make it for whatever reason, be it injury or whatever, outnumber the ones who did by a staggering number.

But the question you posed was more or less whether Dallas has that mythical "it" to make it given a break or two, and I think he can break through. His ironic ins-BO-rational character has a footing with the assholes in the crowd like you and me, and big stars in wrestling nowadays have to resonate with the vocal hardcore contingent first before spreading throughout the rest of the crowd. I also think he's got the tools to become an adequate at least WWE main event wrestler. He just needs a break, but sometimes, even the best prospects can't get lucky enough to burst on through.

Maybe WWE will do a bullrope match again if Stardust ever becomes Cody Rhodes again and embraces his daddy's Texas roots. A chain match, however, seems to be too violent for WWE's milieu anymore. While some Attitude Era strains are seeping back into the show, I think the company knows it would be a mistake if they soaked itself in blood again, not just for health reasons, but for its TV-PG rating (which, I remind everyone, is necessary to keep new fans coming in). The visual of metal on flesh also seems a lot more jarring and violent than regular rope (unless said rope was around the neck).

The World Cup's problems mixed both. You can't do a World Cup if most of the members of your roster are from one country. You'd truly have to have an international promotion or a precarious peace between several promotions in different countries. The one promotion that can pull a World Cup off might be New Japan Pro Wrestling because it has a strong gaijin roster and working relationships with promotions in several countries outside of its native land. Of course, anything TNA tries to execute will turn to shit because the people in charge love ripping off other companies, implementing convoluted rules, and pushing the exact wrong person at the wrong time.

Regardless of whether he could go in the ring or not, I have no real desire to see Angle in WWE again. The Kurt Angle who wore the tiny cowboy hat and preached the three "I"s and was the epitome of the paradoxical phrase "goofy badass" is dead. Never coming back. If Angle returns to WWE, he'll be just as he left it, the prototype of the kind of character Davey Richards epitomizes nowadays. I don't want or need that in any company, let alone one I dedicate at least four hours a week watching if not more. This Kurt Angle seems to be the guy who wants to be seen as the toughest guy in the room, who wishes he'd gone into MMA instead of pro wrestling, who just isn't palatable to me anymore. He's just about as desirable to me as...

...this guy! If I had my druthers, Sting would get his Hall of Fame induction, his DVD set, and then get trotted out for random legends appearances and that's it. He has nothing to offer me anymore outside of viewing into the past when he wasn't broken down or his character wasn't spent. But then again, Sting is the only WCW guy who hasn't had a run on WWE television. Even Eric Bischoff was a recurring character for years. I get the feeling that Sting will get his victory lap on WWE TV at some point, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Everyone in baseball, from the chiseled superathletes like steroid-era Alex Rodriguez to the more Rubenesque players such as Prince Fielder (not meant as an insult, obvs, he represents people of my body type with pride), has the athletic chops to transition into wrestling. But who has the personality? Brandon McCarthy is a sardonic dynamo on Twitter, but would he be suited more to be the heir apparent to Santino Marella rather than the man who could defeat John Cena? Yasiel Puig has mad charisma, but how much of his "heeling" is due to unreasonable crusty old sportswriter standards for people of color and not natural asshole quotient? Brian Wilson has personality, but he's way too weird for WWE's consumption. A-Rod and Barry Bonds both could play off the aloof, vitriolic villain roles, but they're both too old for WWE. Maybe TNA could give them a shot?

But if you put me on the spot, I would go with Brian McCann. Sure, he's up there in years, and playing catcher may have put hell on his knees. However, like Batista, he could be a late bloomer. He certainly has the ornery temperament to get over with crowds, and he's polarizing enough in baseball to assume he can generate the same kind of dueling chants that Cena does. Plus, I'd love to see him eat a discus lariat from Luke Harper. For my own amusement.

All three have big hypothetical negatives working against them. Devitt runs the risk of being "the other Irishman" or "Sheamus' little buddy," because everyone knows WWE can only have white Americans represented en masse at any given time. Steen is not the right body type for a WWE main event guy, although Bray Wyatt's success and the impending Dime Store Eddie Kingston Bull Dempsey push in NXT might bode well for diverse body types in the future. WWE's abysmal track record for promoting Japanese-born wrestlers factors against KENTA. And just for posterity's sake, Willie Mack will run into the same problems literally every black WWE employee in history not named The Rock has. OF course, all four are immensely talented in their own ways. I'll go with the devil I know and say Steen has the best chance, only because I've seen him the most and know that what he can do translates to a WWE ring better than the snippets of what I've seen from Devitt and KENTA. Regards to Mack, he's similar to Steen only with less seasoning. In a perfect world, all four would be huge in WWE within five years, but of the group, Steen seems best-fitted for success.

Because he's going to join the Bullet Club (hail Hydra) and he's just too sweet to be in some ramshackle tournament.

The above is honestly the best explanation for his cryptic 7.7.14 tweet yet. You win a gold star.

For as stacked a 24 man field as BOLA is this year, it's totally missing wrestlers. In fact, my beef with how the field was filled out is one that's as old as when I used to write for Cageside Seats. The lack of women (especially since Candice LeRae is a bona fide main event talent in the promotion RIGHT NOW) and native SoCal wrestlers in the fray is pretty disappointing to me. Granted, arguing for taking a guy like Biff Busick or Matt Sydal out of the tournament to insert Adam Thornstowe or Famous B might sound insane to the casual ear. NO doubt the 24 people assembled for the tournament have some kind of hook nationally. PWG is trying to sell DVDs nationwide, and I can't hate them for it. But PWG didn't get famous by being the West Coast repository for every huge name on the East Coast indie scene. It always had a mix between the Roderick Strongs and Low Kis of the world along with the Chris Boshes and Scott Losts. The company made stars alongside importing them in from other parts of the country. That starmaking power has fallen to the wayside a bit, not for lack of talent, mind you. Willie Mack should've gone out of PWG on top, but instead, he's leaving with a relative whimper. Granted, LeRae may be coholder of the Tag Team Championships by BOLA weekend, and she's already been announced in a HUGE three-way tag match with Joey Ryan against the Inner City Machine Guns and Bad Influence.

I know I'm being hypocritical here complaining, because when the matches are announced, I salivate. When the DVDs end up dropping, you know I'm going to get all three. PWG is staple viewing for me, more than any other promotion except for WWE and Chikara right now, and I doubt that will ever change. But I want to see them give me someone different to go with all the big indie names that get spammed by Ring of Honor, the Gabe-Land Promotions, and Combat Zone Wrestling, y'know?

Firstly, I am not unifying them. I would never unify them, because each belt can serve a purpose. Second, each belt gets its defined role. The Intercontinental Championship would get the same protection it did from its inception until the Attitude Era. It would become the gatekeeper Champion for the King of the Eternal Midcarders or the Next Big WWE Champion. The title is currently vacant and about to be decided in a battle royale at Battleground, so the possibilities for the wrestler to win it are seemingly endless. Even though Alexander Rusev is primed to square off against Jack Swagger at the event in singles action, I would still insert him in the battle royale and have him win. He would defend it at big events until Survivor Series, when Roman Reigns takes the belt off him. He would then annihilate whomever the Authority places in front of him at TLC before losing it at the Rumble to Cesaro due to interference from said group's Plan B/World Champion, Brock Lesnar, setting up Reigns to win the big battle royale later on in the night. Cesaro would then take the Intercontinental Championship through the Elimination Chamber to WrestleMania XXXI, where Sami Zayn finally gets that big win over the Swiss Superman that he'd been desiring all along.

As for the United States Championship, I would have it be come the de facto Television Championship. It would be defended every week on RAW, sometimes on the other shows as well, and it would be defended at every pay-per-view. Basically, this title would become the Championship for my workhorse, the guys on television that go out and are designated at having great matches every week whether or not they have upward mobility. It would be a goal for both the future main eventers, the current big guys with nothing to do, and the "good hands" who may not have great futures but are good for chewing up 10+ minutes of TV time with entertaining in-ring fare. Sheamus is a great representative for the title now. I'm not sure how I would have it change hands between now and Mania, but the idea of guys like Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Goldust, and Alberto del Rio having a belt to pursue without the pressures of needing to be over or in stories written by dorks who have no idea how to write for them is an enticing concept.

The Police do need a rhythm guitarist, imo, can he play?

Video games are probably the perfect embodiment of the concept of old kayfabe. Ironically, the electronic simulation of pro wrestling is far more "real" in terms of potential outcomes generated than the actual real thing is (the same with unlicensed fantasy wrestling, known colloquially as "e-fedding"). So, in a game like WWE 2K15, the hate that the Authority and Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose have for each other is far more of a palpable, immutable concept than it is in real life, where it's possible that Triple H and Reigns have knocked back cold ones after a successful taping somewhere inconspicuous. I'm not saying it has happened since I don't know these people personally, but the probability exists.

Of course, new kayfabe is wholly different from the old one in that it is a manipulation of the story to reflect what happens outside of the bounds of story to create subterfuge around what's real and what's not, and I'm not entirely sure how that plays into video games and other licensed material. However, that subject would be a fascinating grounds for a research essay for someone who has more time than I do.

I would be completely shocked if the move hasn't already been banned and become a fineable offense like the piledriver and unprotected chairshot to the head are right now.

The male character who'd make it best in wrestling would be Uncle Buck, the titular character played by John Candy. He might not win the most titles due to his comedic gimmick, but he'd be hella entertaining and hard to take down because of his size. For the female character, gimme Allison Reynolds from The Breakfast Club. Ally Sheedy's outcast weirdo character would tap into the same counterculture vein that got Jeff Hardy so over, and I would imagine she'd have more than enough tricks up her sleeve to succeed in the ring. She's wily.

The German suplex is one of my favorite moves in all of wrestling. The Argentine backbreaker is at its best when it leads to something else. What I'm trying to say is let's go Germany win the World Cup on Saturday!

The ballsac W is way easier to write, but I prefer to think of it as looking like a nice butt.