Thursday, May 21, 2015

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 11-Squared

Don't fuck with the Lariat
Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated via
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!

Honorable mention goes to the Dubstep Cowboys, who aren't really cowboys and don't have a gimmick unless you count the Brandon Stroud/Erin Provolone joint theory that they're secretly in the closet and overpursue Carmella (and now Alexa Bliss) in order to hide that. Of course, that doesn't give you the right to chant homophobic shit at them, and I hate that I think I need to explain why in order for the densest/most ignorant in the crowd. But regardless.

3. "Cowboy" James Storm - While not so much during his post-Beer Money singles run, his half of the team worked as a contrast to Robert Roode and his Wall Street cash glommer gimmick.

2. "Cowboy" Bob Orton - Something about a "rough and tumble" cowboy who always had his arm in a cast felt like a cool juxtaposition to me.

1. Stan "The Lariat" Hansen - The man was legally blind and had a fat wife and nine children at home to feed. I don't care how hard he adhered to the cowboy ethos, the ten gallon hat is enough for me to stay on his good side. Plus, LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Via protected user @CMUChips:
@tholzerman how many powerbombs from Owens at the chamber?
At least two. John Cena matches have been turning into Ring of Honor-styled faux-epics, replete with at least one finisher kickout from each participant. While as Kevin Steen, Owens was always one of the more sane individuals when it came to match layout there, no one is immune to the iron will of Cena. My guess is that Cena kicks out of one pop-up powerbomb, Owens kicks out of an Attitude Adjustment, one of them gets a finisher while the ref is knocked out or gets to escape it under dubious circumstances, and the other one gets to win with his finish.

You answered your own question. Only six have run so far, and plotting out a card with mostly the same roster is pretty hard. For example, which Sami Zayn match should be selected, and if it's Zayn/Cesaro IV at ArRIVAL, that leaves only Adrian Neville vs. either Bo Dallas or Tyson Kidd as the NXT Championship match for the card, and frankly, neither one of those matches deserves in over any one that involved Zayn. But I will give it my best shot...

NXT Championship Match: Sami Zayn (c) vs. Kevin Owens, Takeover: Rival - I have to get Owens on the tape, and honestly, this match may have been my favorite Zayn match in NXT outside of anything he'd done with Cesaro.

NXT Women's Championship Match: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Becky Lynch, Takeover: Unstoppable - Yes, it just happened, but holy shit, was it a thunderously good title defense. I'm also done describing it as the "best women's" anything, because I'm not so sure that if it was plopped right in the middle of WrestleKingdom 9 that it wouldn't have been the best fuckin' match on the show.

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Ascension (c) vs. the Lucha Dragons, Takeover: Fatal Four Way - The Tag Title crop is achingly poor comparatively speaking, but this match belongs just barely.

Finn Bálor vs. Adrian Neville, Takeover: Rival - Neville belongs on the tape, and despite his slow start on the Network series, he did have at least one match within the yellow ropes that didn't also involve Zayn.

Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami, Takeover: Rival - I know I'm loading up on matches from Rival, but it was the best Network special of the six, and I needed to get Breeze and to a lesser extent Itami on the tape.

Enzo Amore vs. Sylvester LeFort, Hair vs. Hair match, Takeover: Fatal Four Way - The match isn't that good, but it had some essential character hijinks and works well as a cooldown match to be inserted in between any of the above.

Match order:


I reserve the right to change this drastically this time in two years, when NXT has given more specials to draw from. Mainly, I want to be able to get more than just one women's match on there and find a way to replace Owens/Zayn in the main slot so I can get a different NXT Title match and be able to put Cesaro/Zayn IV on there like it belongs.
The shortlist would be Abraham Washington, since that was his gimmick for awhile; Mick Foley, because the man has the personality of a talk show host; and Renee Young, who excels at her job which is basically interviewing people. Of that three, my "pick the best one" senses say Foley, but my "promote diversity in a field dominated by white dudes" says Young. So I'll go with Young, who isn't much of a dropoff from Foley and would bring some much-needed diversity to the landscape.

1. Zack Ryder - He was at Unstoppable last night, and I wanted, nay, ACHED for him to get his career back on track. The guy is legitimately personable and has a connection with the crowd, and when he was allowed to show off in the ring, he delivered. The only problem is that his biggest opponent on the main roster wasn't Vince McMahon but Triple H and guess who runs the show at Full Sail. Regardless, he needs an avenue badly, and since NXT is not just a developmental territory anymore, he could be that guy who is a veteran but also needs a rub and a stage.

2. Eva Marie - Rumors of her being in the Divas Championship scene by SummerSlam feel way too premature. She can do Sliced Bread #2 and a springboard tornado DDT, but can she work them into a match? If not, she'll get eaten alive on the main roster, but in NXT, she may not be the worst woman working even if she still has kinks in her game. Let her take a test run before turning the Divas Division into All Red Everything.

3. Damien Sandow - This Meta Powers stuff is amusing in the short term, but Sandow is still at heart damaged goods if he's going to remain as a mimic rather than someone who "is himself" like he initially promised after dropping the Mizdow shtick. I truly believed that he could have headlined a WrestleMania as a heel in his "Intellectual Savior of the Masses" character, and you don't project that kind of aura if you can't back it up. He should find himself back in the place where he first showed his massive potential and then let him run wild on the main roster.

PS, I'm still really bitter that Curtis Axel's run in NXT at the beginning of the year got truncated, even if the Axelmania stuff has been entertaining to date. Still man, he can also be so much more.

Owens does. Zayn's gotta be out for a longish amount of time after taking that beating and getting stretchered off, and once he returns from injury, he'll have unfinished business in NXT, even if Owens is gone by the time he gets there. Owens, however, seems to be on a fast track to the main event, and his match with John Cena at Elimination Chamber will go a long way to forecasting how his prospects are with Papa Vince. I have this gut feeling that once he and Cena potentially tear the entire town of Corpus Christi down, he's not going to be long for the world after he defends and possibly drops the Big X to either Finn Bálor or Samoa Joe at Takeover: Roger Goodell's Iron Fist in September.

Yes, but this comes with the caveat running Bálor out there now would be incredibly stupid. I'm biased because it's an idea that I fell far too much in love with when it drifted into my mind, but anything less than The Demon Bálor stalking into the Barclay's Center and ending the Cena Open Challenge at SummerSlam would be leaving, *extremely Prime Time Players voice* MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS on the table. Although I think Breeze could be the first in the wrestler class of "NXT Lifer," he also aches for a chance to peacock for the RAW crowds. The dude has worked so goddamn hard that denying him a shot to be on RAW would be absolutely criminal.

TH will never stop running out of worlds to conquer. The Universe is functionally infinite as far as humanity is concerned right now. I WILL NEVER REST UNTIL I DIE, MUHUHUAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA.

I would be absolutely shocked if either guy goes over completely clean at this point. Owens is clearly a big deal right now. Cena can absorb a clean loss, but WWE won't risk it, even if the company did a completely shocking thing by letting Owens murk him on Monday in the first place. If Owens goes over Cena, however, it will be via the machinations of the Evil Face of Triple H, which works towards the same goal as his Good Face - the advancement and protection of his brood of superstars in NXT.

Freitag is my favorite because she has the best equilibrium between winning personality and having her head shoved up her own ass the least out of all the other judges. I think it's a requirement for a Chopped judge to be cantankerous, unreasonable, confrontational, and hypocritical. Not one episode passes where I don't go near apoplectic with one of their criticisms, and the worst thing is that they are total cowards in dishing it out. If the group of contestants is a total bunch of random chefs, they're catty as all hell, but once the judges themselves, their Food Network cronies, or some celebrity panel, no matter how insignificant, comes along, they turn into obsequious glad-handers. What was the question again? Oh yeah, I like Freitag the most because she seems to do this the least, although she has her moments. She has her moments.

I actually was planning on doing a whole alternate universe series of posts, the lynchpin of which being that Godfather actually ended up breaking Hart's fall at the Kemper Arena and saved his life. I think I got one or two posts into it before the crushing weight of creativity squished me back to covering things that were really happening in the world. My guess is that if he had lived, the reconciliation with Bret Hart would have happened much sooner, he would have gone on to win multiple World Championships, the post-2000 malaise with Triple H as the top heel would have been blunted with a two-pronged rudo attack to help build more stars, and a whole mess of other things might have happened, for the better or for the worse. Predicting specifics with "what if" scenarios is tricky and difficult since one event can change the course of a billion different things. But unless Hart was planning on retiring early (and I would not have been shocked by that at all), he would have had a rich future ahead of him.

The best and my most favored wrestling game ever is and always will be No Mercy. The Aki/VPW2000 engine is the best one I've ever encountered. While the create-a-wrestler option may have lacked in costuming and appearance options, it sure was the best for tailoring a moveset. I don't want to be all "GET OFF MY DANG LAWN," because the reason I don't play a lot of wrestling games nowadays is because I don't play a lot of new video games, period. But I can't see any other wrestling game getting me as excited as No Mercy.

Right now, it's a 7-out-of-10. I'm not nearly as high on Rollins as some others in the ring, although Lesnar is a special opponent. Those two might have one of the best car wreck matches of all-time if given the chance. However, right now, I'm at about a 8 or 9 on that scale if you're talking a Roman Reigns rematch. Crazy to think that the dude that elicited a DO NOT WANT reaction out of me around the Rumble has gotten me excited to see him back in the main. He's improved a lot.

For the record, the only matches that would get me to a full 10 on the excitement meter for SummerSlam are Daniel Bryan (not happening), Kevin Owens (unlikely to happen), Sheamus (DEFINITELY not happening), and Ryback (probably never happening). But I'm an asshole.

As I mentioned above, I'm not as big on Rollins in the ring, and it has a lot to do with my tepid feeling on him as a Champion right now. You either have to be a superior character (like Yokozuna) or a phenomenal worker (like CM Punk) to make a lengthy heel title reign work. Rollins is closer to fulfilling the former than he is the latter right now, but both seem to lack. He'd be far better suited to run with a title as a face, mainly because he needn't cut long promos as a good guy, and his skillset in the ring is far more suited to playing as a good guy.

As for his booking, it actually is quite standard operating procedure for most heel Champions in WWE. I don't necessarily agree with the strategy, but it's nothing new. I've become numb to it, to be honest.

Firstly, the match should probably be good if not great. Owens' brutality is overbearing enough to put Cena down, although the inevitable no-wear Cena comeback might be even more grating. Of course, Cena has done wonders to help get over the good guy indie faves in actual matches, but his feuds have been absolutely no help to up-and-comer heels. If you don't believe me, the line starts with Rusev, and it stretches back even further than Wade Barrett in '10 and Miz in '09 (and '10-'11). I'd be concerned, but I'd also not be surprised if Owens was handled more carefully thanks to his status as one of Triple H's biggest pet projects right now. Either way, the Elimination Chamber match is dark and full of terrors, but it also could hold something better than what's come before.

Hoo-boy, this scenario is tricky, because I'm not entirely sure it can be booked without needing a storytelling touch that WWE just doesn't have right now on the main roster. Remember the Nexus? I sure as hell do. Plus, most of the NXT guys that would do well on the main roster are babyfaces, while Triple H may or may not position himself as a heel in any main roster story. Remember, Papa Vince is well-liked as a character despite being just as evil as he was when he was pestering Steve Austin.

But if I were to book any NXT invasion, I would include Finn Bálor, Tyler Breeze, and The Ascension as the forces. They'd all take runs mainly at John Cena (unless Seth Rollins also turned on Triple H in the process, which would make the booking even murkier), with Bálor being the one to ultimately succeed. I don't know if the battle should last that long, but it should end with Cena and Bálor coming to terms of mutual respect and then turning their guns against both McMahon and Triple H, running them out of town and ending the era of Authority-Figures-As-the-Top-Heels for good.