Thursday, August 7, 2014

Twitter Request Line, Vol. Eric Lindros

The WWE's new BFFs
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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!

Oh, you didn't mean a HOT SPORTS TAKE, but rather an opinion on the team? Well, at first, I thought the pairing was odd and a victim of the circumstance of budget cuts. Both Titus O'Neil and Heath Slater are part of WWE's future in some capacity (O'Neil is 37, which means his fresh-by date is coming up a little sooner than Slater's), and both were hit by the loss of tag partners, either by injury or future endeavoring. But both guys have personality, and the teaming could end up being a good stopgap for them on the way to something different in the singles division. I would love to see them get some backstage vignettes, especially now that Slater holds a RAW MAIN EVENT VICTORY over Seth Rollins, but I'm not holding my breath.
So, the good news is that two out of three potential additions to the mix tape, which you guys can find here, feature guys who aren't already booked. The Alberto del Rio/Christian World Heavyweight Championship match has its challenger already booked for the Tag Team Championship match, but then again, that match is third on my totem pole of bouts from last year's event, which leaves the WWE Championship match between John Cena and Daniel Bryan and the Attitude Era-styled schmozzfest between Brock Lesnar and CM Punk as valid choices. Both could go on this tape easily. However, which match would be subtracted to add Punk/Lesnar? The first choice would be Big Boss Man vs. The Mountie, but that match is on the card for balance's sake. Every card needs some comic relief. The other match that this one could replace would be Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle. On one hand, I don't think I would want to leave Guerrero off the card, but on the other, man, that Punk/Lesnar match was so goddamn good.

Also, is adding Cena/Bryan to the card justification enough to subtract Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart? ANd if it is, where would I reinsert the Hitman onto the tape, since he's arguably Mr. SummerSlam? Thankfully, Hart has another epic SummerSlam main event that he could slide easily into the tape, and that's the Intercontinental Championship match with the British Bulldog from 1992. Of course, that match would knock the Rey Mysterio/Dolph Ziggler match from the tape easily. Taking that match out of the proceedings would also free up the ridiculous but super-memorable Mysterio/Guerrero ladder match for the custody of Dominick to be added to the card. Sure, the card already has a ladder match, but at this point, I just don't care about doubling gimmicks. I think ten matches (Plus a Free for All featuring Steve Austin) for a SummerSlam mix tape is not unreasonable. So, without further ado, the revised SummerSlam Mix Tape:

Free For All: Steve Austin vs. Yokozuna
Open: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero, Custody of Dominick Ladder Match
2: Mark Henry vs. Sheamus
3: Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano, WWE Women's Championship Match
4: The Big Boss Man vs. The Mountie, Loser Spends the Night in Jail
5: Bret Hart vs. the British Bulldog, WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
6: The Rock vs. Booker T, WCW World Championship Match
7: Edge and Christian vs. the Dudley Boyz vs. the Hardy Boys, WWE Tag Team Championship TLC Match
8: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
9: John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, WWE Championship Match
Main Event: Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant

I think I just created a monster...
The knee-jerk reaction would be to say Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins, because it's basically the only feud that's been both interestingly built and skillfully executed in WWE over the last couple of months. Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler has two guys who are on their A-games right now in the ring and out of it, but that feud has been blander than a flavorless mush I like to call root marm, and Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella has been built pretty well except that the way Bella has been executing her character has turned a bunch of people towards rooting for the evil 1%er who has put the screws to everyone and should get MASSIVE comeuppance in any sane scenario. Rollins and especially Ambrose have been killing it on screen lately, and their feud makes the most sense out of any of the lot.

However, the wild card is the John Cena/Brock Lesnar feud, which has pretty much just come out of nowhere, but has gotten the mythical "pure sports build" that a certain portion of the fanbase seems to love more than life itself. That pre-taped vignette on Monday where Lesnar was allowed to talk for himself was the best thing that feud produced since, well, actually since the Cena promo in response to Paul Heyman the week before. Lesnar and Cena bring out the best in each other it seems, and I am irrationally pumped for SummerSlam based on this main event, both in what has happened and what will probably happen when the match is performed.
Apparently, it's hidden inside of Ryback's hulking chest cavity. That explanation is the only one I have for why the Dust Bros. wrestled Rybaxel in their first match back from their stint in the panic room despite having wrestled them a billion times before those vignettes started.
  1. Kenta Kobashi - The man no-sold cancer and helped create the HOSS template that I so dearly love today.
  2. Mitsuharu Misawa - He was part of one of my favorite matches ever (vs. Kawada on 6/3/94), and he is probably the most influential pro wrestler in recent history.
  3. Toshiaki Kawada - Sure, he was also a part of that aforementioned match, but I think Misawa has him beat just slightly.
Disclaimer: I only nominally follow New Japan and its politics, so this might come off as insanely uninformed. However, with one night left to go before the final, and knowing from some in-the-know people on Twitter how the tournament has worked in the last few years, I think the final will be Bad Luck Fale vs. AJ Styles. Fale currently is two points off the lead in block A, but his final match is against co-leader Shinsuke Nakamura, and he has a head-to-head victory over the other co-leader, Hiroshi Tanahashi. I see Fale beating Nakamura, and Davey Boy Smith, Jr. taking out Tanahashi to give Fale the win. The calculus for the block B winner is a bit less complex. Kazuchika Okada has the head-to-head over Styles, so he'll lose to Minoru Suzuki, while Styles bests Togi Makabe. Of course, that scenario would place the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Styles against the Intercontinental Champion Fale, and both are high-ranking members of the Bullet Club. That fuckin' stable has to come to a head at some point, doesn't it? DOESN'T IT?
My best guess is that Vince McMahon is the Pokemon trainer who was pissed he missed out on the Mew special event way back in the day, and now he's going all out to get that elusive last piece for his Pokedex. Of course, nearly sexagenarian Sting is nowhere near as awesome as Mew, but hey, I don't write the rules here.
I have NOT seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet, but I will eventually, because I will see every Marvel Studios movie until they begin to suck consistently or I die. I am aware of the Awesome Mix, and the only answer is "Cherry Bomb."
Seven! Oh, it's a rhetorical question? Rhetorical, eh? Eight!

I have no idea what the word rhetorical means.
WWE is such a volatile company that apparently is subject to the whims of a crazy old man that I have no idea what the landscape is going to look like. However, if I had to stab in the dark and make a guess, I'd say the price point has a good chance of going up to something like $12.99/mo. I also think that someone within the company has to yell at the powers that be and tell them that the only way to make the Network attractive to new customers is to add new or exclusive content. Main Event and NXT just aren't enough; it needs a hook for casual fans and especially fans who have kids. The latter solution would be to add a shitpile more kid-friendly shows.

Saturday Morning Slam being a Network exclusive is a great start, especially if it's made on demand IMMEDIATELY after it's initial airdate. I had a discussion on Twitter with some folks about how WWE could attract kids, and we all came to the conclusion that airing content on Saturday mornings may not be as effective as it used to be. But if a parent can come home and put on Saturday Morning Slam, a modernized version of the Rock 'n Wrestling Cartoon, or even a more fleshed out version of Slam City, then kids can grow up in wrestling fandom accessibly and without really needing to change much of what goes on on RAW (even if I think RAW, Smackdown, and the other shows could stand to be shoved further in the TV-PG direction, and I mean WAY further).

Of course, the non-kiddie content has to be addressed too. While adding archival footage is great for nerds like me, I'm not entirely sure that adding full runs of Nitro or RAW or whatever old school TV show is going to attract the casual base that WWE needs for the Network to be successful in its grandiose expectation. The doomsday scenario would be to pull RAW and/or Smackdown and make them Network exclusives, but then WWE would be pissing away its still-lucrative television rights deal. The best thing to do would be to make RAW and Smackdown available on demand almost immediately after they air so that the busy people or those who don't have cable but do have an Internet connection can watch in as timely a fashion as the stubborn old-timers like me.
Man, if you think WWE is hesitant to change archetypes and tropes for NEW wrestlers, then man, that company is probably overcome with ALL THE INERTIA to freshen up an existing character on a victory lap, especially one like Jericho who's only going to be around until Night of Champions. I agree that I could stand to see Jericho do something different, but I think at this point, he's just back to give the fans one last taste of him as a wrestler and to use that goodwill to help get Bray Wyatt over.
Baba ganouj and pita rounds, please and thank you. I want a nosh, but I'm trying to watch my girlish figure.
Oh man, cheesy '80s action movies and pro wrestling go together like lamb and tuna fish. Wait, did I just make a post-Wedding Singer Happy Madison movie reference? From Rob Schneider's character no less? Eh, deal with it.
  1. Top Gun, starring The Miz as Maverick, Dolph Ziggler as Iceman, David Otunga as Goose, Emma as Charlie, and Roddy Piper as Viper
  2. Conan the Barbarian, starring Mark Henry as Conan, Tony Atlas as Thulsa Doom, Arnold Schwarzenegger as King Osric (callback!), and KENTA as The Wizard
  3. Rambo First Blood, Part II, starring Daniel Bryan as John Rambo, and instead of machine guns, he takes fools down with his rapid fire KICKS
  4. A View to a Kill, starring Wade Barrett as James Bond, Charlotte as Stacey Sutton, AJ Lee as May Day, and Christopher Walken reprising his role as Max Zorin
I don't like fantasy booking death and destruction, so I'll be omitting target areas for each hurricane with the exception of BROCK LESNAR. He's a Category ∞ Hurricane targeting the Subway corporate headquarters. Anyway, as for wrestler equivalents to hurricane categories, here you go. Category 5 is John Cena, Category 4 is Mark Henry, Category 3 Sheamus, Category 2 Big E Langston, Category 1 Jack Swagger, and a tropical storm is Kofi Kingston.
I don't listen to podcasts anymore, because I gotsta have my tunes bumpin' in my car while I'm driving rather than people talking about t hings. However, when I used to listen to podcasts and when I invariably start listening to them again, the two that I will subscribe to first are the What A Maneuver! show and the Wrestling Culture podcast. The former is the most important show anyone could listen to because it's an even-handed look at an era that a lot of fans look back at with rose-colored glasses. The latter has two of the most knowledgeable and engaging people I know hosting it, and it covers the widest array of topics of any show known to man. The Mandible Claw, Wrestlespective Radio, Steve Austin Show, and Art of Wrestling podcasts are all good for regular subscription or piecemeal downloads here and there, but those first two I mentioned are essential listening.