Thursday, June 22, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 192

The odds of seeing a nWo-type feud/invasion in the indies feels slim
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:

I hesitate to say yes because so much of the current independent scene dips from the same well. Maybe if you had a promotion from Eastern Ontario/Quebec dipping down south to battle a Georgia promotion, it could be interesting, but at the same time, are those companies big enough to sustain something that would "catch fire?" And of course, the question of visas would come up, but you know my thoughts on that. The only major invasion/promotion warfare angle that would truly turn some heads wouldn't truly be independent because one side is owned by a giant media conglomerate, and the other sucks off WWE's teat. Ring of Honor vs. EVOLVE/WWN Live would absolutely be the one interpromotional angle that would stoke flames, but with the bad blood between ROH and Gabe Sapolsky, WWE using the NXT/EVOLVE combo as a proxy to attempt WCW-ing ROH off the map, and ROH's legal haranguing of WWE signing former talent, it has a slim-to-none chance of happening. That being said, wrestling is a crazy art/sport, and stranger things have definitely happened.

The chase is better than the catch in wrestling. It's not exactly a trenchant insight or whatever, but few title reigns really live up to the chase to get them. However, I can think of two that I've seen personally that I would put up as examples of title reigns done right. The first is John Cena's United States Championship reigns from 2015. Outside of the two defenses against Rusev on pay-per-view, his title reign was simple but effective; put his belt on the line and have bomb-ass matches to back it. He'd come out every week on RAW, throw down, and answer a challenge, and at least 75 percent of those matches were good, if not better. The second would be Claudio Castagnoli's Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Championship run. He was an out-of-leftfield Champion, and he went on to have a six-match run with the title that was great even by PWG match quality standards. The first defense against El Generico was an unwitting presage to their NXT series under different names.

I have no good reason. I will now lash myself 25 times and remember to order vanilla fig balsamic vinegar for my next shindig.

I would be a zucchini and hope that a sitophiliac would eventually buy me.

The do-over is the worst possible answer, because it reinforces yet another ugly truth about society after laying the groundwork with the original one, going from the real winner of a woman's work being a man to women needing to do double the work to get half the respect. Even if Carmella wins again, it's diminished because the first match was such a disaster. As Lacy pointed out earlier today, the problem is James Ellsworth being front and center in every segment pertaining to the Smackdown women. So short of time manipulation, which at present time is impossible, the best option would be for Carmella to beat the shit out of him, kick him to the curb, win the damn thing herself (it doesn't have to be clean), and then move on with him being deemphasized or moved into another milieu. It wouldn't fix the initial snafu, but it would be more than a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound that this do-over is right now.

Hoo boy. Allow me to start from the very beginning.

On May 11, 2013, Tony DiLeo was fired as Philadelphia 76ers general manager. Three days later, Sam Hinkie, who interviewed for the position in 2012 and was passed over for DiLeo, was named new GM. The franchise was in shambles, having gutted assets to acquire Andrew Bynum, who never played a single minute for the team. Hinkie began the process, or The Process, of renovating the team and returning it to contention, a process that would involve intentionally fielding a bad enough team to depress probability of winning games in the NBA by trading away current veteran stars for draft picks or allowing them to walk in free agency to release salary cap room. This process was widely panned by many people who saw it as short-sighted, toxic, and detrimental to the league, despite the fact tanking as it is called is a proven path to success.

Whether tanking for one year, as the San Antonio Spurs did in 1996-97, or over a series of years as the Cleveland Cavaliers did before LeBron James got there and in the years he left and played for the Miami Heat, intentionally fielding the worst team to get the right amount of draft picks to work for you is one of the best paths for success in the NBA. Hell, it also works in other sports. Houston Astros are in year three of contention for the American League after years and years of intentional crapulence, and the Edmonton Oilers' bounty of sucking and getting really, really lucky in the NHL draft lottery paid off with a Western Conference Final appearance this year.

Despite this, critics were impatient. Whether national like Albert Burneko or Brian Geltzeiler or local like Marcus Hayes and Howard Eskin, people took every turn to trash Hinkie's losing culture, blasting him for fielding a trash roster, getting rid of Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic and anyone else with a pulse for a neverending parade of second round picks, for drafting Dario Saric who, in some opinions, was never coming over from Turkey, for being aloof with the media, or even for being a, and I quote, "a ridiculous, TED-humping moron."

Basically, everyone who had a problem with Hinkie yelled and screamed and filled their diapers without realizing what he was doing and how he was building the team. The pressure was so great from both the masses and presumably from league offices who didn't like having tanking be this transparent, that Hinkie resigned with suspected pressure from ownership and replaced by the father and son tag team of Jerry and Bryan Colangelo. However, with the Colangelos taking charge, The Process never really ended, and in fact, it culminated with the trade over the weekend of two first round draft picks, the Sixers' this year and a conditional pick with number one protection, for the top overall pick, where the team will almost assuredly select guard Markelle Fultz. After selecting big man after big man after big man, the guard/shooter Fultz should be where the first phase of The Process (building/losing) ends and the second phase (trying to actually win) begins, and it will happen with several players with top pedigrees.

This milestone trade was reason enough for the Sixers Process Trusting fans, led by Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast host and WIP program director Spike Eskin (yes, Howard's son and in this case antagonist), to organize #RTArmageddon, to unleash retweets of all the bad takes about how terrible The Process was in the face of the bright future. It focused both on the nags like Burneko, Hayes, and Geltzeiler, but also on singularly bad takes like people touting dumpster fires like the Kings (whom Hinkie fleeced in at least one trade) and the Knicks (who right now are about to lose their two best players thanks to GM Phil Jackson's gross incompetence).

Now, is it premature? Yes and no. This could all blow up in Sixers' fans faces because the future is always uncertain as it is unwritten. None of these players could pan out, especially Joel Embiid, who has played a third of a season out of a possible three whole seasons in the time since he's been drafted. However, every single criticism of The Process was based upon the same speculative doubt, that it was bad because it wasn't going to work, even if it always had a chance to work. Hinkie made some mistakes along the way, like drafting Jahlil Okafor, but his seemingly-shrewd moves more than made up for it and have presented a starting lineup plus sixth man that if healthy could contend not just for the playoffs but the league in two-to-four years. The groundwork was a success. The losing had a goal, which is more than enough ammunition to fire at these dorks who want to be Skip Bayless without embracing the ignorance that makes Bayless Bayless.

And besides, even if it does blow up in our faces? What was the alternative? The Sixers have a proud history, but the dirty truth is that even with the titles and the years of contention and the golden years whether with Wilt Chamberlain or Julius Erving or Allen Iverson, the dry periods have been longer and more predominant. If the Sixers didn't blow it all up and tried to win with the Holiday/Young/Hawes/Andre Iguodala/middling draft picks and free agents plan, the ceiling is probably an occasional Atlantic Division title and playing also-ran to even the eventual also-rans in the East who would end up getting slaughtered by the Western Conference Champion. So anyone who hates on this #RTArmageddon for the potential hubris, well, we as a fanbase weren't living high off the hog before, and we weren't going to live high off the hog with a lesser alternative.

So anyway, it was definitely a petty exercise, and one that is based not off results on the court, but on results of getting a great team on paper. But for right now, it's all we as Sixers fans have, and one that even the dorks writing this Process off before didn't think we'd attain. If Burneko and Eskin the Elder had carte blanche to shit all over Hinkie, his Process, and Sixers fans in general based on hypotheticals, then we totally have the right to shit right back on them based on the same hypotheticals. That's what #RTArmageddon was all about.

The question you mean to ask is, "Why does WWE's main roster hate tag teams?" or "Why does Vince McMahon hate tag teams?" I don't know the answer as to why McMahon loathes tag teams. But tag teams feel like more of a "rasslin'" thing and not a "sports entertainment" thing. Southern territories, especially Jim Crockett Promotions, loved to use tags as secondary draws. When Ric Flair was on the A-circuit, the Rock 'n Roll Express and Midnight Express headlined the B-loops. McMahon's wrestling, however, has always been built around the singular iconoclast, and teams were always an afterthought or a sideshow except in the rare times when they were the hot hand (like with the Hardys, Dudleys, and Edge and Christian, and even then, they played backseat to Triple H/Rock/Steve Austin). So that could be a reason why tag teams have always seen an ephemeral construct in a company built on strong solo personalities.

Low, but not because it's a bad gimmick, at least in a vacuum. I'd like to see more of its execution before judging how good it is because asking WWE to book something that involves nuance and not broad-stroke misogyny/homophobia is a tall task. But yeah, it's definitely a tandem that fills an underserviced role on a wrestling show. However, it's low on that list because Bennett/Mike Kanellis is not nearly as bad in the ring as one might suggest. Furthermore, while he was an ill-fit in the high-tempo, big-workrate environment of Ring of Honor, he might be better off in a WWE that plays to his strengths, i.e. pacing, playing to the crowd, selling, overt heeling, etc.