|The Macho King of the '80s|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
'80s: You said "top," but does top mean "best" or "most successful?" Ah, fuck it, most successful is boring. The best wrestler from the 1980s is the "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Ric Flair got more critical acclaim. Hulk Hogan was probably the biggest draw of all-time. But Savage was probably WWE's first great modern worker, a character with manic sensibilities, electric delivery, and eyes that cut across the room like a hot knife through butter. Honorable Mentions: Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan@tholzerman if you had to pick your top wrestlers from the 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s, they would be....? No repeats.— Matt Craig (@mcraig8037) September 7, 2016
'90s: This might be the easiest choice, because no one really dominated a decade like "Stunning"/"Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He morphed from critical darling in World Championship Wrestling into a mainstream phenomenon, all the while not losing the things that made him great under the radar. Few wrestlers were more enjoyable to watch in any incarnation. Honorable Mentions: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Mick Foley, Vader
'00s: This decade is hard because I stopped watching for a huge chunk in the middle. But from what I recollect and what I've gone back to watch, the answer is clearly Bryan Danielson. He ascended to Wrestling Nirvana in the current decade, for sure, but he spent the years prior innovating and making technical wrestling cool. And he did it with such a dorky charm. Honorable Mentions: Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio
'10s: It may not be a sexy pick, but the best this decade is probably John Cena. He's settled into a veteran groove and has been doing the best work of his career. His matches are out of sight, and he's been doing a lot better on the microphone, morphing from cheesy WWE babyface to a heartfelt lover of the sport. Honorable Mentions: Cesaro, Rachel Summerlyn, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens
Going on the expectation that TJ Perkins is winning the Cruiserweight Classic, all the signed competitors are in the ring expecting Perkins to be awarded the title. Stephanie McMahon comes out and says that anyone can win a tournament when few eyes are watching, but this is the big stage of RAW, the bright lights, the big viewership. So she announces another tournament, much in the same vein of the original Universal Championship tournament. Perkins takes offense to this because he indeed won the tournament, but Jack Gallagher steps forward and points out that it is not the gentlemanly thing to do cause such a ruckus. Perkins gets in his face and they have to be separated. The first match pits Gallagher against Cedric Alexander, Brian Kendrick, and Akira Tozawa. Perkins appears and does the ol' distract finish to get Gallagher eliminated. Kendrick ends up winning the match overall. Tony Nese, Rich Swann, Gran Metalik, and Perkins are in the other match. Nese and Swann are the first two out, and Perkins looks to have Metalik put away. He preens over at the announce table where Gallagher has come out to commentate, but Metalik recovers and gets him with the Metalik Driver for the win.@tholzerman How would you book the first month of the cruiser division on RAW?— Jeffrey Paternostro (@jeffpaternostro) September 7, 2016
At Clash of the Champions, Kendrick and Metalik face off for the right to be the first ever Cruiserweight Champion. It's a heated match that goes back and forth and back and forth, but Metalik has Kendrick in position for the Metalik Driver. However, Kendrick rakes the eyes and turns Metalik's mask around so that his vision is obstructed. He is able to use that to get the Bully Choke in and he wins the title.
The next night on RAW, Metalik has an issue with the way the match went down, and he confronts Kendrick. With management's blessing, Kendrick offers a rematch to make things right, because while he's got his last shot at glory, he doesn't want to become bitter and greedy. Meanwhile, Gallagher and Perkins are at each other's throats for last week on RAW. So they also have a match booked for that episode. Perkins and Gallagher have a technically proficient but chippy match that gets more and more out of hand until Perkins, driven by being bested at every turn, gets himself disqualified by not breaking a hold after the five count and repeated warnings from the ref. Meanwhile, the title rematch goes similarly to the Clash. Metalik has Kendrick up for the Driver, but Kendrick escapes it cleanly this time. Metalik gets him up again for it, but Kendrick then rakes the eyes and his own eyes grow wild and wide like he knows he's about to get beat. So he intentionally pulls the referee into the path of a Metalik kick, kicks him in the nuts, and then just wails on him. By the time the ref wakes up, he's too groggy to realize he's been had and counts the pin to give Kendrick the incredibly cheap retention.
So the first two weeks set up two big feuds, one for the title, and one right below it, with four of the wrestlers WWE wants embodying the division. WWE signed a lot of guys for a division that will, at best, occupy an hour of RAW, maybe less. I've already booked myself in a corner after two weeks, so hopefully, what I have is alright. But you see where I'm going with this.
First, Enzo Amore should totally not wrestle anymore and just manage because I cringe every time he takes a big bump anymore. Obviously, he would continue to manage Big Cass all the way through his inevitable rise through the ranks of WWE, at least until one of them turns on each other. If Cass turns heel, then Amore would garner Tony Nese and the Hype Bros as his charges. If it's Amore who goes rogue, then he'd do so by getting his Hugo Knox on as his next big thing.@tholzerman 3 current performers that you can make the first of a new wave of old-school managers. Who r they, and who's in their stables?— Josh (@JB_Shakes) September 7, 2016
Second, Matt Hardy is already a better Bray Wyatt than Bray Wyatt is. Once his days as a worker are over, I could see him taking on charges in many different companies, actually. I would rather not see him work for Meek Man again, so I will send him to New Japan to manage LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON which I can see lasting for several more years. I mean the Bullet Club is still kicking way past its due date, right?
Finally, Titus O'Neil would make a great football coach style manager. As for whom he'd take under his wing, I think I'd love to see him interact with Tino Sabbatelli. He'd be a great starter charge.
Time to make an embarrassing confession; I still haven't seen any of season 2 yet. However, from my understanding, the show embraced its telanovela tendencies to the fullest while still providing big time wrestling matches. I'm not sure how much more into the occult the show can get, but I think that it'll be a fun experiment to see if it will.@tholzerman What are your spoiler-free expectations for Lucha Underground S3?— Jay (@Jay_Sanin) September 7, 2016
Team Captain: Princess Kimber Lee
Rest of the Team: Leva Bates, Delilah Doom, Meiko Satomura
Kimber Lee has to assemble the most righteous, virtuous team in all the land. However, the landscape of women's wrestling has changed so that many warriors are sellswords and cool antiheroes. However, she would recruit three to stand by her side. In Bates, she gets the spirit of populism and fun. With Doom, she gets an ebullient innocence that still hits hard. And Satomura provides a wise, veteran presence with the cutting power of the strongest sword.
THE PUNK ROCK POWER
Team Captain: Heidi Lovelace
Rest of the Team: LuFisto, Vanessa Kraven, Nicole Matthews
Lovelace, in order to win her side, will have to go to the less scrupulous side of wrestling to get her charges. Even if Lovelace and her right hand woman, LuFisto, aren't necessarily evil, they know that realistically, the sides must be blunted in order to attain victory. That's why they claim the ruthless hammer of Kraven and the clever unpredictability of Matthews to ride at her side.
First, any new "established" guys who come in have to come in with something more than "he's the HOTTEST FREE AGENT in wrestling." NXT has skated on that for too long, and it's diluted the product. Samoa Joe was fine. James Storm didn't really have the same cache. Austin Aries started pushing it. Shinsuke Nakamura kinda was okay because he's Shinsuke Fuckin' Nakamura. Eric Young was intolerable. Bobby Roode was allowed to establish a character, however, and that's what was needed for all of them. Second, I'd pretty much cool it on the established guys. RAW and Smackdown need bodies. The guys coming in should be getting those paydays. Let NXT be the stomping grounds for Performance Center grads, who need the reps the most, and for the indie guys needing a bridge between said indies and the big time.@tholzerman Oh.... And what would you change about NXT in this time of change?— Nick Malone (@yankeesman77) September 7, 2016
- Matt and Nick Jackson - I'm counting them as a single unit because I can't separate them. The Young Bucks are one of the last of the pure tag teams, and while they may make more money on the indies working their schedule, WWE is the place where they need to conquer. Imagine the Bucks vs. the Usos or American Alpha or New Day or the Revival...
- Tomohiro Ishii - Why Ishii over the rest of the New Japan guys? Because the man exudes the HOSS ESSENCE and gives no fucks.
- Meiko Satomura - I've been blessed to see her live on three separate occasions, and she is the truth. She did appear for World Championship Wrestling when she was a young doe, but she's gotten so much better in that span.
- Ricochet - Gotta give it up for the fuckin' mack daddy of high flyers right now. His flips may infuriate some, but he has such a cool grasp on them and how to fit them into the context of a match.
- Mercedes Martinez - She's back working, so she's on this list. I used to think she was overpushed back when she was the token lady on early EVOLVE shows, but then I caught wind of what she was throwing down, and I was there.
AJ Styles would be a fine, fine choice if the year somehow ended today. However, several wrestlers whose work I've seen also merit discussion. For one, Cesaro has put in his usual body of work this year. Bayley has shone in big matches, which is how Sasha Banks got her number one last year. Drew Gulak, Zack Sabre, Jr., and Gran Metalik have all given some snapshots of their excellence in the Cruiserweight Classic, and I've seen quite a bit from the first two to suggest they deserve some dap otherwise. Heidi Lovelace's work in Chikara warrants a look alone. And hell, guys like Matt Riddle, Fred Yehi, and Chris Hero are gonna warrant mention as I watch more of their stuff and verify that they belong. Like I said, no one is going to blame you or anyone else for voting AJ Styles number one. However, this year, I feel, is going to have a LOT of valid choices to top the ballot.@tholzerman Provide a counterargument to me writing A.J. Styles in pen atop my TWB 2016 ballot. #TweetBag— Black Cesaro (@butchcorp) September 7, 2016
With an attitude like that, you are! In all seriousness though, you may fail. A lot of people who get into wrestling will not make it through the grinder. HOWEVER, the beautiful thing is that you might just succeed. Whether it's getting to the Performance Center and making it in WWE, or even just being a name indie wrestler, you might make a career out of the graps. If you truly love it, pursue it. And it's only been a week. Keep at it, but keep your options open.@tholzerman I moved to Orlando by myself with no job to pursue wrestling. Been a week and I only had like 2 job interviews, am I gonna fail?— Matt Hawk (@MattHawk16) September 7, 2016
For Jazz, go with the Anarchy Championship Wrestling Queen of Queens 2012 first round match against Rachel Summerlyn. It was one of the hardest-hitting, snuggest matches I've ever seen. Mickie James had a righteous feud with Beth Phoenix over the WWE Women's Championship in 2008-'09ish. Check out some of those matches on RAW if they're on the Network. As for Victoria, I don't remember a whole lot of great matches about her, but I also didn't catch a lot of her run in TNA. Ask a TNA maniac about her for a better handle.@tholzerman Team Original Divas Revolution was great! What other matches of those three would you recommend watching? #tweetbag— Bug Catcher David (@chudleycannons) September 8, 2016
She has to drop the title first, but what wrestler can realistically defeat her right now? The answer is no one. Nia Jax and Bayley are on Monday nights now, and Ember Moon is not ready just yet. While the scuttlebutt said that Asuka was signed to bolster NXT, right now, it's looking like developmental is not going to be able to contain her. She needs to go to one of the main brands. While my preference would be putting her on Smackdown to give it another top name, Brand Blue's women's division is far deeper than RAW's, which is heavy on top and a chasm as you go down the card. So let her go to Monday nights to rekindle old feuds and give the world the matches with Sasha Banks she was meant to have, if Banks doesn't end up bumping herself to death in the process.@tholzerman What would you do with Asuka at this point? Is she needed to carry NXT more than help the main roster? #TweetBag— Star of Savage (@StarOfSavage) September 8, 2016
I posted predictions on Facebook, but after some of the last minute roster moves, I may have to pivot. Anyway, I will revise slightly and go with:@tholzerman #Tweetbag Your prediction for the 2016 NFL season? Who'll win it all (division/conference/SB)?— J. Adams (@adamsgroove) September 8, 2016
NFC Playoff Teams: Giants, Packers, Falcons, Cardinals, Seahawks, Buccaneers
AFC Playoff Teams: Patriots, Bengals, Texans, Chiefs, Jets, Raiders
Seahawks over Giants
Falcons over Bucs
Jets over Bengals
Raiders over Texans
Cardinals over Falcons
Seahawks over Packers
Patriots over Jets
Chiefs over Raiders
Cardinals over Seahawks
Patriots over Chiefs
Cardinals over Patriots in the Super Bowl
Now watch as those predictions go down in a mass of flames.