Thursday, February 12, 2015

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 109

Zayn already bumps and flies like a Smash Bros. character...
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 afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers!

After his display ragdolling around the ring for best frenemie Kevin Owens last night, Sami Zayn is the first obvious answer. While nothing about his offense screams Smash Bros., the way he bumps is straight out of the game's physics engine. Triple H is another candidate because he's already got the hammer, and seeing him go berserk with it, Donkey Kong-style, would amuse me. Chuck Taylor and his hand grenade would fit in super-well, although his ongoing feud with children may not make him the best candidate for a kids' game. Finally, Leva Bates, or Blue Pants to y'all who only know her from her NXT jobber stints, would make the perfect Kirby-type candidate with all her wardrobe changes and assumed power absorbing from said costume deviations.

I wouldn't need to create one from scratch, because Vince McMahon and Dave Meltzer already have the best options. McMahon's hall is a sham, but it's a transparent sham. He picks whom he wants to go in for whatever reason, and he has no pretense about it. Meltzer's methodology is similar to the way "real" sports select their halls, but instead of journalists, he has newsletter subscribers vote, which is a way better voting pool. Peter King or Bill Plaschke have highfalutin agendas and an inflated sense of ego with no real desire for discussion past what gets them paid on national television. While the average WON subscriber/forum member may have an inflated sense of ego (I'm not entirely sure, I only know a few of them), the selection process comes with real, actual debate that is meaningful and germane. It's also debate that Meltzer himself participates in. I'm not into fixing what's not broke, and both McMahon and Meltzer have the right ideas with their halls.

Ideally, he's not Fandango anymore and is part of a newly revamped Authority hit squad that includes Sheamus and is led by Seth Rollins. Johnny Curtis is a total Triple H guy, and WWE dropped the ball by  not having him replace Batista in Evolution. (Yes, I am still bitter about The Shield breaking up.) It's clear the Fandango gimmick has no legs, and Curtis can do more than job hilariously to Roman Reigns and suggestively dance with a Diva du jour.

Realistically? Say hello to your EVOLVE 48 main event, Dirty Johnny Curtis vs. Chris Hero!

NJPW fans may be sick to death of the Bullet Club; I'm only a newbie New Japan fan, and I already am tired of the whole thing. However, I will take five more years of Bullet Club overkill if I can get every wrestling promotion in the world to eliminate the fucking evil authority figure character tomorrow. Real talk, that trope has done more to kill legitimate heel heat in most wrestling companies than t-shirt sales or cool heels or anything else people want to blame it on. Evil GMs/commissioners/matchmakers/poobahs/whatever are the only ones who can get over, and most of them can't deliver a meaningful payoff in the ring to end any effective angles. Bring me back the mostly silent authority figure. Bring me back Jack Tunney.

I don't think crowds or the network are as complicit as one might think they are. Crowds are easily swayed, and if a promotion presented women in the ring as worthy competitors, crowds will react. I've been among several larger indie crowds that went bonkers for women getting over on men. Sara del Rey defeating Claudio Castagnoli generated maybe the biggest pop at any ECW Arena show I've ever been to. Even if WWE never puts on an intergender match, I see no reason why a match between Charlotte and Paige can't headline RAW or even a pay-per-view to vociferous fanfare. In the same vein, if it sells, I doubt USA Network will object to it.

The stumbling blocks have to be McMahon and his coterie, especially Kevin Dunn, who is reputed to be the grossest, most sexist motherfucker in existence. Watching how much care with which the NXT women's division is treated shows that the disrespect isn't pervasive in the entire company. The question is, how long does McMahon have left? I fear that answer won't be liked.

My marketing department is my three-year old son, so I can't in good conscience fire him. C'mon man.

Honestly, I don't see any other satisfying endgame other than turning them heel and rebelling against the management, which should be a total face move, but this is WWE in question here. How can anyone put three black dudes in a "happy fun time" gimmick in 2015 and not expect backlash? America's still got a lot of racism within it, but the climate is getting wiser, or at the very least the backlash against the racism is getting louder. The only way to fix this problem without turning them heel is to go back in time and not form the stable at all. But that's impossible right now.

Itami's greater success depends on how long it takes Triple H to ascend to power within WWE. Under McMahon, WWE has had a pretty terrible record pushing Japanese superstars, and especially now that Papa Bear has seemingly retreated into his most insular, reactionary booking practices, I have little hope for Itami once he leaves the womb. But in an idealized WWE where Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are the movers and shakers creatively, Itami can possibly make it all the way to the main event. I don't think he needs lucid grasp of the English language to get far in WWE, especially if the fans take to him. He's got a hard-hitting, fan-friendly style in the ring, and for as little English as he speaks, his body language and facial expressions help get across his narratives between the bells.

Whether or not you're looking for the next indie guy to come up or want to look back upon the histories of at least Cesaro, Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Solomon Crowe, and Seth Rollins, you gotta go with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. The company will have been around for 12 years this summer, and has pretty much housed every major independent star in that time with the exceptions of Dean Ambrose/Jon Moxley and a bunch of women (because women are apparently icky to Super Dragon, *shrug*). My suggestion is to get the PWG Sells Out DVD compilations if you want a good idea of what the company is all about. Even now, it still puts out some of the best indie supercards one will find, so I suggest getting anything it's produced in the last couple of years for a more modern snapshot.

I don't see "Punk" when I look at Owens. Punk's best oeuvre as a babyface was as the Voice of the Voiceless, and as a heel, he was a smarmy, moralistic dickbag who preached being better than everyone. Owens comes off more a guy with the Joker's capacity for trolling people, but instead of acting manic and peacocky (which is more Finn Bálor's domain), he's dispassionate and cool. I can't see him caring about anyone but himself and his interests, which will be an interesting case study going forward in WWE, especially if the fans turn him face like they've done with every multi-talented indie guy who's come up through the ranks from Punk through Cesaro. Owens and his foil Zayn have the potential to be the two biggest guys WWE has had since Steve Austin if the cards are played right, but at the same time, Owens especially is not an easy card to play, at least not as easy a card as Punk was in his heyday.

On one hand, it's hard to imagine a guy as talented and charismatic as the former Sami Callihan having trouble fitting into any roster. On the other, Rival took place last night, was a stacked card, and the Vaudevillains, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Tyson Kidd, Emma, and Marcus Louis were nowhere to be seen. With only two hours to fill during Takeover events and one during the weekly show, it can be hard for even the most talented wrestlers to get more than a shoutout. His debut could not have been timed worse.

BUT, some of the wrestlers that were featured last night will be moving up to the main roster sooner rather than later. Some of those wrestlers, like Bull Dempsey, will probably fade into obscurity. Crowe will get his shot, and if he goes as hard as he did in the indies, he won't look back when he gets the ball.

For awhile, Hunico was actually doing well under the mask, actually, but then Rival happened and he was so sloppy that he transmitted some of it to both his partner and his opponents. The mask isn't cursed so that every time its put on it does something bad, but it tends to strike at the most inopportune times. Maybe WWE just needs to retire the character and the name and find something else for Hunico, who's actually not bad, to do on the roster, other than sit around and collect dust like 1/3 of the main roster that sits by and watches the same fucking matches unfold on RAW each week.

The most WWE thing in the world would be Sting jobbing his first match in the company to Triple fuckin' H, as one last fuck you to the legacy of WCW. That being said, Trips has done the right thing with respects to Daniel Bryan and The Shield in the last year. I doubt he'd be the one to fuck up Sting's debut. Trips will get a win down the line, for sure, but at WrestleMania? Sting's winning all the way.

WWE - Fire JBL into the Sun, give Jerry Lawler a nice retirement package. Take Vince McMahon out of the commentators' ears and put whoever is doing the thing in NXT there. Michael Cole and Renee Young call RAW. Tom Phillips, Booker T, and someone new call Smackdown.

NXT - If money's no object, then I'm putting the Performance Center on a helicarrier and allowing NXT to take its entire operation on the road.

NJPW - How the fuck can the #2 promotion in the world have ZERO women performers, especially when the joshi have done more to inform modern puro than anything else out there? Get some women on the fucking roster, whether in their own division, or integrated into the main narrative. Kana vs. Kazuchika Okada needs to happen.

Lucha Underground - Again, if money's no object, I am taking the cash gun and firing it at every major cable provider until all of them carry El Rey, and then as a rider, LU can not, I repeat, NEVER hire Vince Russo as long as it wants to remain on said network.

Chikara - HD cameras. A whole legion of them, and dedicated, professional camera operators to work them. I'm not hearing good things about the company's new filming set up, and if any pro wrestling company needs to be seen with the best possible footage, it's Chikara.

Honestly, I don't know if many of them will get the call. Adrian Neville and Charlotte seem to be locks to head to the main roster. The Zayn/Owens feud might keep them in NXT until December (which would be fine by me). Bálor seems to be on the fast track given how quickly it's taken him to acclimate to WWE, and Kalisto might end up being shunted to the main roster to get him far, far away from Sin Cara as possible, especially after last night. So conservatively, I'd say four wrestlers (Neville, Charlotte, Kalisto, Bálor), and liberally, I'd go with those guys plus Enzo Amore and Big Cass, possibly Zayn, possibly Hideo Itami, and perhaps Sasha Banks and/or Bayley.