Thursday, August 6, 2015

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 132

Did New Japan give Elgin swag enough to improve his ROH standing?
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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!

It's hard for me to say, because I haven't seen any footage of the G1 Climax so far. I can't really discern whether Michael Elgin's performance has improved, or whether it just played better in New Japan Pro Wrestling than it has in Ring of Honor to date. On one hand, people who have panned his work in the States are raving about him so far. On the other, I get this feeling that perception differences might play into factor here. Namely, things that might get panned in ROH (or WWE or any American promotion) will get lauded if they happen in NJPW. But the thing is this is all just speculation, because the only way to judge if Elgin has improved in NJPW is to watch him there. I just haven't gotten the chance yet.

However, I will get a chance to see #BigMike up close and personal if I end up getting tickets to ROH's ECW Arena show on August 21. So if he comes off as better, then maybe he did magically improve when he stepped into the G1 rings.

I honestly don't know. WWE is perhaps the thirstiest company in entertainment given how many times names get dropped even if no appearances are scheduled. It is notorious for slobbering over The Rock's non-wrestling achievements even if he's not scheduled for any kind of appearance. It's known that WWE wants desperately to have Rousey's star-power in fold, and it comes off like a socially maladjusted boy who is trying so hard to get a girl to notice him without ever knowing how to treat a person as a person and not a prize to be had.

Conversely, WWE did set up an angle at WrestleMania this year for a future in-ring scuffle between Rousey and Stephanie McMahon. Smoke rises from fire, and WWE has been increasing the frequency of mentioning her. It would be one thing if spotlighting her shoutout to Roddy Piper was the only thing. But her name got dropped on RAW at least twice, once oddly enough by Naomi, whose character stands to lose a lot of ground if Rousey shows up and murks everyone in sight. If I had to guess, Rousey will probably end up thwarting interference from McMahon or her husband Triple  H in the Winner Take All double Championship match between Seth Rollins and John Cena. But that's only a guess.

Look, I will stan for anything New Day-related, because that group provides hours of entertainment for my personal amusement. However, nothing will beat Batista co-opting the Kanye West VMA stage invasion of Taylor Swift's Video of the Year presentation at the Slammy Awards. That act was memed to death, but I still think for once, WWE had the best interpretation, although it probably had a lot to do with Batista finally showing how fucking awesome he could be when he wasn't derping it up and asking "I CAN HAZ TITLE SHOT?"

Dipper Pines - Chikara interregnum Icarus: He's always looking for answers in a strange and unusual world with resistance from people along the way, much like Icarus was between Chikara's closure and reopening. On the surface, both seemed to be boring, but they always win/won me over with their hearts.

Mabel Pines - A less-assholish version of Colt Cabana: Like Cabana, she sometimes gets super-serious, but often, she's the one bringing some much-needed levity to the proceedings. But her fun doesn't get mean spirited as Cabana's does at times.

Grunkle Stanley Pines - Kane: He spent some time masquerading as someone he wasn't before embracing his shadier, more occult side. Well, the Glenn Jacobs and Stan Pines timelines may not line up perfectly, but it's the best roundabout comparison I could think of. It works, I swear!

Stanford Pines - UltraMantis Black: No one's really sure what side they're really on. They have a tendency to be brusque and seclusive, and both have interests in dark arts.

Soos - Doc Gallows: Like Gallows, he's best suited as a sidekick, but he's always there to help. Also, both have somewhat goofy sides.

Bill Cipher - Brock Lesnar: Both are ridiculously overpowered and only show up a few times during the year/season if at all.

Gideon Gleeful - The Miz: Throwing out all comparisons of size, Miz and Gleeful are both charismatic talking heads whose plans sometimes come close to fruition before being derailed by a heroic figure.

Wendy - Lana
Robbie - Rusev: This coupling of comparisons really is the weakest one, and their breakup ended up being more amicable than Lana and Rusev currently are having, but for awhile, Robbie was super thirsty while Wendy just wanted to be independent. *shrug*

Fiddleford McGucket - Mark Henry: At one time, Henry was a proud Championship contender and dominant force with the ECW and World Heavyweight Championships. Then he fell into a spiral of inefficacy. Replace physical feats with mental acumen, and you've got McGucket's arc, although Henry didn't have a singular moment that could be traced to his fall from grace...

Waddles the Pig - Damien Sandow: Sandow for most of his career has been kind of a pig (whether as Idol Stevens or post-Magneto Sandow) of a character except that one stretch where he was the Intellectual Savior of the Masses, which is Waddles' arc on the show to a tee, even down to that episode of vignettes where he got super smart and was voiced by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Gompers the Goat - The Swamp Monster: They don't speak but might hold more significance to their respective plots than what has been let on... or not.

Pacifica Northwest - Oleg the Usurper: Sure, she's done some terrible, awful things, but when she got a taste of humanity on occasion from Dipper, she's shown her heart might not be as rotten as an egg left on the sidewalk for a week. Oleg's current overtures towards tecnicodom have suggested the same.

The Rest of the Northwest Family - Sidney Bakabella, Devastation Corporation, Jaka: Oh, the rest of the Northwests are evil overlords, much like the rest of the Wrecking Crew.

Time Baby - John Cena: Cena is a mewling pissbaby character, but is so overpowered that he's nominally in control of the entire WWE Universe, whether anyone knows it or not.

David Draiman, so that the chance of him getting shot on in the ring is on the table. Wait, whom am I kidding? Most of the WWE roster probably agrees with him politically anyway. The real answer is John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, if only because Beat the Champ has made him germane to the industry and sparked a personal revival in it for him. Imagining him as an arthouse heel using both hipster condescension AND old school villain techniques of the dastardly evildoers of his youth sounds almost too good to be true.

Part of me believes they gave Sheamus Money in the Bank because a similar Irish person with crazy red hair is blowing up Ultimate Fighting Championship. The rumors of Vince McMahon's capriciousness sometimes can be overstated, but Sheamus' win felt so... random, especially in the face of the main briefcase having purpose. WWE had plans for Kane and Miz in 2010, Alberto del Rio in 2011, John Cena in 2012, Randy Orton in 2013, and Seth Rollins in 2014. Sheamus has felt like more of an afterthought before his win and has followed the Daniel Bryan-post briefcase malaise after it, which will kill any reaction he gets when he finally does cash it in. I don't know. Sheamus made less sense than even New Day to take the briefcase. I just hope it pays off for him, because he really is a better performer than his reputation.

This one, if only because of the hilarity of him big-timing Andre the fuckin' Giant.


The meaning of the nWo probably started out as a play on corporate espionage and a way for the valiant World Championship Wrestling to beat back tyrannical tradition and establish itself and its own rich past in former lifetimes as the only true deserving party of national plaudits. Then, its meaning became "thing WCW uses to try and be cool again."
I irrationally loved those action figures as a kid, even though each one was only designed to do one move, and the range of motion for each one was pathetic. However, the designs were really distinctive and colorful, which is what a toy should be. My favorite was the Randy Savage one in his classic orange tights with white stars and the big one-piece sunglasses, mainly because it looked cool and could best emulate the flying elbow drop.

The question isn't "if," it's "how many." Pillaging ECW's corpse for money and notoriety continues today, which shows that if something is fresh enough, it will last far past its sell-by date. Guys like Pentagón, Jr. and Drago getting bookings in the American indies is the first sign. If LU doesn't get a second season, I expect copycat promotions to spring up, maybe not in numerous numbers because of the nature of the beast, but they'll try to emulate the promotion's oeuvre. Other promoters and companies will do "reunion" shows or themed-cards with the talent but they probably won't capture its spirit. Of course, the biggest sign of its appropriation will be if WWE tries to ape the concept as a Network exclusive series. I don't know if it'll get that far, but don't be shocked to see more and more direct influence spreading by the end of the year.

It was about as nice as it could be for a work trip. I spent most of my time driving around or working, but when I got a chance to relax, I did. I didn't really see the sights, because work and driving takes a lot out of me. But I did get a chance to sample some of the great restaurants in the Portland-Freeport-Yarmouth extended area, including meeting up with SB Nation bro Marc Normandin. All in all, it was a good time when it could be a good time.

The current NXT roster probably doesn't have enough for 20 in the ring without scraping the bottom of the barrel for your Steve Cutlers and such let alone 30, but that's what the main roster low-card is for. I'm gonna try to stretch it out to 30:
  • Kevin Owens
  • Samoa Joe
  • Rhino
  • Tyler Breeze
  • Aiden English (or Buddy Murphy)
  • Simon Gotch (or Wesley Blake... want to keep the NXT Tag Champs out of this if possible)
  • Enzo Amore
  • Big Cass
  • Baron Corbin
  • Bull Dempsey
  • Jason Jordan
  • Chad Gable
  • Scott Dawson
  • Dash Wilder
  • Zack Ryder
  • Mojo Rawley
  • Solomon Crowe
  • Marcus Louis
  • Sylvester Lefort
  • Tye Dillinger
  • Apollo Crews
  • Bo Dallas (as Mr. NXT)
  • Kalisto
  • Sin Cara
  • THE Brian Kendrick
  • Jason Albert
  • Billy Gunn
  • Dana Brooke (SCANDALOUS)
  • Cesaro
  • ...and for the big return pop, HIDEO ITAMI
Out of that, the final four would be Crews, Owens, Cesaro, and Itami. Now, the Royal Rumble is situated as such that it is for the title shot at the biggest event on the main roster calendar. With that in mind, Owens or Itami should probably win. But since all Takeovers seem to be created equal right now, you can take a chance on a new guy taking the win. NXT is still in a transition period, because Owens ain't sticking around too much longer (he'll probably wrestle William Regal and go full main roster). If Itami catches fire and Vince McMahon wakes the fuck up to realize that he can make money with a John Cena/Samoa Joe program, those two will be gone too. NXT will need replenishment, which is why Crews would go over here. He wouldn't beat Finn Bálor right away, but it would be the start of a new era for the brand that would last until your Crews/Crowe/Gable/Dempsey/Bayley/Brooke/Jessie McKay/Cassie core is ready to graduate.

It's hard to say McMahon made many mistakes with how his nationalization attempt went in the early going. He had his  and his father's formula - faces on top except for transitions to other faces - and he was going to go with it. Hogan as Forever Champion did big business anyway, and Piper may not have ever needed the title to be as over and iconic as he was anyway. Of course, after around WrestleMania III, cracks in the Federation's veneer started to show, and McMahon made plenty of mistakes going around, including giving Hogan too much power, cutting Ricky Steamboat off at the pass, putting all his chips on a flaky and still green Ultimate Warrior, and other things, but I don't think Piper never getting the strap was one of them.

Right now, I'm a Jervis Cottonbelly gentleman. He devotes so much time and energy into cultivating his character on shows and on Twitter, and it's such a unique one to play for the wrestling industry. Plus, he's a tremendous wrestler, which can sometimes get lost on the pageantry and hand-shaking. Honorable mentions go to Heidi Lovelace, Kimber Lee, and as always, those goddamn Young Bucks.

First off, WWE would be idiotic to remove NXT as a bargaining incentive to get the Network just to get it on a national television audience that's fractional compared even to Smackdown on Syfy on an outlet that doesn't really command ad dollars. Main Event and Superstars are another story, especially since the former can't be aired on The Network thanks to its distribution deal with Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.

As for TNA and ROH, both are probably gone by the end of the year if the tea leaves are correct. If you can trade Impact for WWE programming, even C-level shows, you do it. With ROH, the situation is trickier. The company obviously has room to grow, but taking it out of its 8 PM timeslot is a move that speaks volumes about how Destination America views the company, either on its own or with nudging from the WWE. Sinclair's market penetration is suboptimal, and I would love to see ROH get back into the good slot on DA, but it just is not going to happen.