Thursday, January 26, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 176

Ambrose, not Triple H, should've won last year's Rumble
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:

The most obvious candidates are probably 2014 and 2015, but I'd hesitate to change them for these reasons. In 2014, Daniel Bryan not even being in the Rumble, though abhorrent at the time, was a perfect catalyst to his insertion into the main event of WrestleMania. While a lot of his time as an active worker in WWE was mishandled and built on accidental providence, the one bit of mistake booking at the time was actually an ideal kickoff to his YES! Movement. He was the perfect guy to kick off an Occupy Wall Street populist movement, Batista was the perfect behemoth otherwise contender, and of course Randy Orton had history with both guys. In 2015, Roman Reigns winning would have gone over a lot better if the match had been laid out better. Key eliminations felt flat and came at the wrong times, Kane and Big Show were AWFUL big bads, and the agents recycled the Santino Marella/Alberto del Rio '11 Rumble finish with tone deafness. In the long run, the decision to tell the Reigns story through Mania that year was the right one regardless of crowd reaction, but again, no one in the office did him no favors at all, from his return to his storytelling to Seth Rollins cashing in.

But you didn't ask which controversial Rumbles had the right decision. You asked which one I'd change, and honestly, it would be last year's Rumble. Triple H winning the Championship from Roman Reigns made contextual sense, but honestly, their feud didn't need the title to have juice for WrestleMania, and in retrospect, having it close the show with how overwrought it was was a mistake. Obviously, Reigns winning the title back at Mania gave the world his feud with AJ Styles, which at least produced great matches, but I would've put the strap on Dean Ambrose there. He was hot at the time and the options for title matches at Mania were wide open. Plus, knowing what everyone knows about how his in-reality Mania match with Brock Lesnar turned out, an alternative opponent might have suited him better.

If you want to know who's already in the Rumble, Scott detailed that in his Rumblemetrics post earlier today. Anyway, if I were filling the other eight spots, they would be:
  • Finn Bálor - Rumors are he's medically cleared, so he's a possibility. Personally, if he does come back, I'd have him win and take on Kevin Owens at Mania for the title he never lost, but from what I've heard, WWE has different plans anyway. While bringing Bálor back not to win would be a waste, well, like Scott said in his post, WWE has taken Rumble crowd poisoning to new levels recently.
  • The Roman Reigns/Kevin Owens loser - My gut tells me Reigns is probably losing Sunday, but even if he doesn't, I can see Owens in the match too.
  • The John Cena/AJ Styles loser - Again, both guys are so inextricably linked to the title that I'd be shocked if either one didn't get into the match after their loss.
  • Samoa Joe - A Rumble debut for the Samoan Submission Machine in the vein of AJ Styles' last year would do him good, especially since Joe has dick all left to do in NXT. Let him choke dudes out on the main roster.
  • Hideo Itami - Speaking of NXT dudes with mean attitudes, it's clear that Itami in NXT is a cursed idea. I don't know how close he is to a return, but if he's anywhere near ready, put him in the Rumble and let him kick dudes into infinity.
  • James Ellsworth - Someone has to replace Santino Marella as comic relief, right?
  • Beth Phoenix - She's rumored to be in the Hall of Fame, so why not do some free advertising to let her get a shot in the Rumble that doesn't involve her smooch-eliminating someone.
  • Tony Atlas - He's the right legend to bring back in these troubled times.
With all those great options open, watch all eight spots be filled by Kane: Original Recipe Kane, Maskless Kane, The Demon Kane, Corporate Kane, See No Evil Kane, Kane with Hat, Kane Yankem DDS, and the most evil Kane of them all, Patrick Kane.

For some reason, no one's been asking me for match recommendations yet, but I will reply with a small list of matches for awesome dudes you should be checking out:
  • Fred Yehi: vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. at EVOLVE 71
  • Mike Quackenbush: vs. Eddie Kingston at Chikara High Noon
  • Ember Moon (Athena): vs. Mercedes Martinez at SHIMMER 45
  • John Silver: vs. Lio Rush at Beyond Wrestling By Popular Demand
  • Caprice Coleman: vs. Jason Collins at last year's Scenic City Invitational

Everything is problematic at its heart, to be unfortunately honest. The McMahons support Donald Trump, but so does Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of liberal favorite television program Saturday Night Live. Ronda Rousey is a noted transphobe. Michael Jackson an accused pedophile. If you can separate the art from the artist, that's great. If you can't, that's great too. In the realm of content owners/producers like Vince McMahon, one has to remember that he's not the sole beneficiary of all that's good that comes from it. Wrestlers, cameramen, announcers, producers, agents, and several other class of people who all have diverse political opinions and leanings have skin in the game. The whole world is intertwined with these webs that it's hard to pinpoint how best to fight the bad things. I certainly won't begrudge someone for boycotting WWE for its Trump-support among the highest powers, but at the same time, so many other people are hypothetically damaged too that I can't hold it against anyone for continuing to watch, even the most hardcore leftists.

I can't argue with Big E at all, because New Day as a tag team is sort of past its sell-by date, and Ol' Ettore Langston is the one with the biggest breakout potential. However, if I were putting money on a dark horse Rumble candidate, it would be Cesaro. He and Sheamus have gotten big play in this tag team angle, and the fact that Sheamus has gotten over has to have been noticed by the office. If Cesaro can get a toxic property like Sheamus over, then he's gotta be considered for other bigger roles, right? Sadly, I don't think that elevation will ever happen if it doesn't happen this year, and Cesaro would be considered a dark horse for a reason. But stranger things have happened.

EAGLES: Sean Considine - The Eagles have had some decent safety play and some bad safety play among the non-Brian Dawkins players in that role. While Dawk casts a long shadow even now and makes people think otherwise decent players are bad, Considine was REALLY terrible. Honorable mentions: Nelson Agholor, Miles Austin, Winston Justice

PHILLIES: Travis Lee - Since the caveat is here is "from their playing days' action," I technically have to disqualify Curt Schilling. Lee was actually a product of the Schilling-to-Arizona trade, and he replaced Rico "RBI Machine" Brogna at 1B. Let me tell you, he was such a disappointment and he always carried around some kind of unworthy air of entitlement. Honorable mentions: Billy Wagner, Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Young

SIXERS: Todd McCullough - Big Todd was affable off the court, which made it tough to hate him, but man, going from Dikembe "WHO WANTS TO SEX" Mutombo to him was a serious downgrade. If he moved any slower, he'd be the Second Coming of Christ. Honorable mentions: Spencer Hawes, Lou Williams, Keith van Horn

FLYERS: John Vanbiesbrouck - With the exception of the Second Coming of Ron Hextall, the Flyers have always been star-crossed when it comes to goaltending, but Vanbiesbrouck was washed and a former Ranger when he came in. I forget whom I wanted to play over him so badly, but even if I was wrong, Beezer was terrible. Honorable mentions: Chris Gratton, Dan Carcillo, Andrew MacDonald

From protected user @LUTang_Secret:
Fastlane is Raw-Branded and has no (predicted) gimmick matches. What main event do you predict as of now, pre-Royal Rumble?
I was all-in on some kind of Seth Rollins-centered title matches until Dave Meltzer posted some rumblings about how Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania would be for the Universal Championship. It makes sense, since Goldberg's post-Survivor Series promo asked if he had one more title run in him. So with that in mind, I see the main event being Kevin Owens defending (and losing) the Universal Championship to Goldberg only for Lesnar's third try to be a charm at Mania. Of course, Lesnar as Champion was such a hit the last time that you have to do it ag... sorry, I couldn't finish that sentence without throwing up.