Thursday, May 4, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 185

Matt Jackson at NXT Takeover: Chicago? No chance in hell. Kyle O'Reilly, however...
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:

The state of WWE contract awarding right now is so dense that I can't get a handle on how many or who. Apparently, Adam Cole is being courted like the hot girl during prom season, so the actual slam dunk of him showing up is more like a 20-foot jumper at this point. Anyway, it's hard to gather who definitely will show up, but grouping them into pools of likelihood feels easier and more constructive at this point.

NOT A CHANCE - Zack Sabre, Jr., the Young Bucks, the Lucha Brothers (Rey Fénix and Penta El Zero M), Shane Strickland, Michael Elgin, Trevor Lee: Most of these guys have contracts elsewhere except maybe Elgin. However, I feel like he loves New Japan too much to scuttle his chances to rise up there.

POSSIBLY, BUT NOT PROBABLY - Trent?, Sami Callihan, Keith Lee: Trent? might make his way back eventually, but I feel like he's got more mileage in Roppongi Vice first. Callihan could come back to WWE a la Chris Hero, but the timing still feels off. Keith Lee could show up to NXT tomorrow and I wouldn't be surprised, but I also feel strongly that WWE is waiting for him to get red hot on the indies, especially EVOLVE, before taking him.

A VERY GOOD CHANCE, BUT STILL A LITTLE UNSURE - Adam Cole, Lio Rush, Mark Haskins, Bobby Fish: All except Haskins have been explicitly linked to WWE in rumors and reports, and with Haskins, I can see WWE making a play for him to anchor its UK show. Either way, all four may make it there eventually, some the next day, but I'm not confident enough to peg any one of them for NXT just yet.

A MORTAL LOCK: - Kyle O'Reilly: And boom goes the dynamite. He'd have been in Orlando in like February if not for the game of contractual chicken WWE had to play with Ring of Honor to get him there. Basically, two corporations engaged in penis fencing, and the loser was O'Reilly. However, Triple H has been saying all along that O'Reilly is going to be in NXT "when the time is right," which is his way of thirst-portenting a huge debut. If he doesn't show up in Chicago, then I will... do nothing, because I am wrong all the time and contrary to the corner of Troll Wrestling Twitter who likes to go GOTCHA, I do not claim to be an insider expert. But still, this feeling in my gut tells me that he's showing up.

Yes you can!

(I hope longtime readers of the TweetBag get that reference)

The only outcome I can see clearly from this is Hogan is never the big star that Vince McMahon gave him the stage to become. I know I'm always "it's the wrestler, not the promoter, stupid" in terms of giving credit, but a promoter can't create a star all by him/herself, he/she CAN hinder one. McMahon did the smart thing and stepped aside to give Hogan the stage. Gagne? Well, he just kept spamming Nick Bockwinkel and himself. Hogan would've gotten a run with the AWA Championship when it was too late, and he'd have probably spent the rest of his post-WrestleRock Rumble rap stanza as a Stan Hansen-esque gaijin in Japan, not nearly having the impact on the industry as he would have but ironically becoming a hardcore fan favorite because of his ability.

As for the WWE, I can see McMahon riding Junkyard Dog in the early years and then by WrestleMania III at the very latest elevating Randy Savage. Would Macho Man have been the one to slam Andre the Giant? It's hard to say, since he was a lot smaller in stature than Hogan. However, it might have been more resonant given the more extreme underdog status. One side-effect of Hogan never getting to WWE, however, might be unionization in the company and thus across the industry. If he was never in WWE, he never uncovers Jesse Ventura and Bobby Heenan forming plans for a union in secret. No one knows if the other potential top guys at the time would've been as quick to rat as Hogan. Savage seemed just as paranoid, but his worries were more personal than career-oriented. I don't know exactly how it might've played out, but yeah, wrestling probably looks a lot different today if Hogan never got free of the AWA.

This scenario is even harder to forecast than the previous question, because what title programs would he have done between his last match on the post-WrestleMania 31 tour and now? Would an AJ Styles program have been not only done, but done in between the John Cena program? How much deeper would Bryan's feud with Roman Reigns have been? What other challengers for the Intercontinental Championship would he have had? Was his feud with The Miz that ideated on Talking Smack done just because of Bryan's injured authority figure status? But I'm dancing around your question. If I had to hazard a guess, Bryan would be in Styles' spot right now as number one contender to Kevin Owens' United States Championship in a much similar role that Styles is in right now. Where would that leave Styles then? Well, that question wasn't asked now, was it?

I'm trying to wrack my brain for a more obscure example, but Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair in the main event of the first Philadelphia NXT House Show is the best example I can think of. I don't know where Flair's in-ring results have gone, but at that time, she and Banks could do no wrong together. Hell, at times when they got to the RAW roster, they still had some magic in them. But for now, that's the best example.

Without knowing how any of the picks will turn out, I'm extremely pleased with both the positional spread and the assumed quality of player for the Eagles' picks. I love Derek Barnett in the first round because one, I love going pass rush early, and two, he comes with great tape and big production against quality opponents. Sidney Jones in round two troubles me the most because an Achilles injury is bad news for a position that relies on footwork and speed the way cornerback does. However, those injuries aren't the death sentence they once were, and Jones has the ball skills and the tireless thirst for film consumption that make the potential rewards worth the risks. However, the risk is why backing him up with Rasul Douglas was another solid pick. Additionally, I like the chatter I hear around the receivers (Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson), and the fourth round is the sweet spot for running backs, so I'm all in on Donnel Pumphrey. Overall, it sated my need for offseason moves.

AL PASTOR - The undoubted king of taco fillings is al pastor, or marinated pork roasted on a spit with pineapple, so that slot goes to Fred Yehi. It's a little sweet, a little tangy, but wholly satisfying, which describes Yehi to a tee.

CARNE ASADA - Carne asada is the more well-known GOAT taco filling, so for a more well-known standard-bearing wrestler, and that's Sami Zayn.

POPCORN/FRIED CHICKEN - Wrong people will tell you crispy chicken doesn't belong on a taco, and those same people will tell you Sasha Banks isn't a good wrestler because of the bumps she has to take vs. Charlotte Flair. Kindred spirits, they are.

CARNITAS - Carnitas, much like Drew Gulak, are similar to another type of meat in its milieu, in this case, al pastor/Fred Yehi, but are a slight notch below. Nothing wrong with it and still among the best, however.

FISH - Much like fish tacos, Michael Elgin is definitely not my style, but I can't deny how popular either one is.

SHRIMP - In the same vein as Elgin/Fish, shrimp tacos/Kyle O'Reilly aren't my first choice, but I'll eat/watch and enjoy them in the right situation.

GROUND BEEF - The most ubiquitous taco filling correlates to John Cena in that many people enjoy it, but a vocal minority will shout it down in favor of a better filling.

NON-FRIED CHICKEN - Some stewed/grilled chicken tacos can be inspired. Others are, well, there for people with non-adventurous palates. Sounds like a Randy Orton taco if I ever saw one.

PORK BELLY - A non-conventional taco filling that has all the cool kids following it but might turn off traditionalists? Hello Kenny Omega/Kota Ibushi!

VEGETABLES - When you're at a joint where the meats look sketchy and you have to order a safe taco option (as long as you're not vegan/vegetarian), you order veggies as a first option. This filling correlates to [insert ex-Big Three legend on a card full of local jabronis here].

EGGS - Breakfast tacos are all the rage nowadays, much like Cesaro, whose love of coffee also makes him inextricably linked to breakfast. Also, eggs are full of protein, and Cesaro is fuckin' jacked, man. JACKED.

ICE CREAM - Look, I'm not saying watching Kikutaro matches and only Kikutaro matches is unhealthy, but even I, Wrestling's Number One Comedy Fan, realize that he's only good as a treat one match a show. Watch exclusively Kikutaro, and you might get a skewed view on what wrestling is, much like consuming only Choco Tacos will make your health skewed towards a direction you won't want it to be.

As I wrote in THE DEFINITIVE REVIEW OF PAYBACK and as Kate Foray backed up with her column which I agree with and endorse, I don't think House of Horrors was necessarily as bad as some folks have made it out to be. Specifically, the actual "house" portion was entertaining in spots. However, the match had three major problems. First, it never should have ended up at the arena. Never, not in a million years. You don't have an all out kookydukes brawl in a dilapidated boat house just to have it end with a RKO false finish into interference to set up the opponent's NEXT feud. That would be like ending Guardians of the Galaxy with a courtroom scene where the group gets an injunction against Ronan the Accuser despite last minute testimony from Thanos. Speaking of that opponent, Randy Orton was the absolute worst, DIRT worst opponent for Wyatt in that match, especially since the "give a shit" switch in the back of his neck was toggled to "none" instead of "all." Third, they didn't nearly use the house as a weapon enough. Yeah, Wyatt tossed Orton through some drywall and toppled a fridge on him, but the other shit felt about as superfluous as the projected images of bugs at WrestleMania.

So the template for the match is fine with me. Wrestling as theater of the absurd can work taken to illogical extremes given the right mix of rules, action, and wrestler. So for that match to be good, those three flaws would have to change. First, the match would end at the house with some kind of stipulation, either the winner having to escape or get some kind of MacGuffin to get an official win. Maybe capturing a flag, or hell, even scoring a submission or knockout of some kind. Second, No way in goddamn fuck would Bray Wyatt wrestle someone as vanilla and apathetic as Orton. Several opponents would be better fits. One person on Twitter suggested Jimmy Havoc. If I had my druthers of people not on the WWE roster right now, I'd probably go with Matt Riddle in terms of sheer charisma and being able to sell the match from an outside perspective. Inside WWE, Matt Hardy and Finn Bálor are no brainers. Third, and most importantly, the match would be laid out in a way where the house itself was used as the essential weapon. What about tearing out the kitchen sink to use as a striking weapon? Actual fire could add several more elements of danger. Hell, if WWE is so adamant on Wyatt having supernatural powers, then it could spring for some indie wrestlers to get all made up as Deadites, since the actual concept of a House of Horrors jibes so well with the Evil Dead mythos among others. I don't think House of Horrors as it was was good, but I don't think it was terrible either. It could easily be fixed as demonstrated with these ideas.

From protected user @adamsgroove
Predictions, far too early, for the 2017 NFL season? MVP, rookie of the year, division winners, etc... Who wins the Super Bowl?
You're right, it is far too early, but that has never stopped me before.

DIVISION WINNERS: Eagles, Lions, Bucs, Seahawks, Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Raiders
WILD CARDS: Cowboys, Falcons, Texans, Chiefs
SUPER BOWL: Raiders over Bucs
MVP: Derek Carr
D-POY: JJ Watt
O-ROY: Corey Davis
D-ROY: Derek Barnett

Those predictions will be ridiculously wrong, but hey, like you said, it's way too early.