Thursday, December 7, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. Jawn

Photo Credit: TH
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 have a confession to make. I could become a lacto-ovo vegetarian or even a vegan if I wanted to. I like enough food that I could cut out meat and be happy. However, speculate if you will a moment of weakness. I do get cravings every once in awhile, and usually, those cravings point towards breakfast foods, stuff like eggs, potatoes, bagels, that sort of thing. So it should follow that if I'm feeling carnivorous at a certain point in the day, it will be for breakfast foods, namely, a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich on a long roll, a Kaiser roll, an everything bagel, whatever. The bread is mostly unimportant. What matters is sweet, sweet pork products will be on that sandwich, namely in the form of a tangy kind of ham that is found in New Jersey and places that border New Jersey.

Man, translating from NXT to WWE as a major star is so weird because I'm not sure you can predict with accuracy. The main roster seems to chew up developmental guys and spit them out with randomness, and it's all due to the philosophy of how they're booked in one against the other. Guys like Sami Zayn or even Bayley come up to the main roster with no idea how to be handled. Even if creative has big plans for someone, like The Revival, injury luck is a fickle master. Yeah, Kevin Owens and Charlotte Flair translated. To a point, Sasha Banks has too. Otherwise, the biggest successes seem to be Alexa Bliss and Elias, and who the fuck saw either one of those coming? So with that in mind, I'm going to go on a spectrum:

  • Can't Miss - Drew McIntyre: I know he had a run in the big time before, but one could argue he wasn't ready, not because he couldn't work, but because he really hadn't found his own voice and didn't really have an advocate on the main roster. This time around, when he recovers from his injury, he'll head to RAW or Smackdown and with Paul "Triple H" Levesque in his corner, he should get the chance to redeem his WWE career and make something of it.
  • Likely, but Hey, WWE Fucked up Easier Layups - Aleister Black: Like Finn B├ílor, Black is an indie favorite with occult savoir faire. Unlike B├ílor, he's got an incredibly different look and is larger than a cruiserweight. His rollout in NXT honestly was nested in nebulous trappings, but he overcame them and looks like a goddamn star. I can still see WWE fucking him up, because look at Bray Wyatt and even B├ílor right now. However, I feel good about his chances.
  • Dark Horse - Kyle O'Reilly: More than his Undisputed Era cohort, Adam Cole (BAYBAY), O'Reilly could get ahead on the main roster even apart from the purgatory of 205 Live because he's incredibly talented in the ring and subtly charismatic out of it. He's been tasked to be more of a straitlaced badass in the past, but he's done the gutty babyface thing in Ring of Honor at the end of his career there, and he's even showed off some more whimsical and lighter tones when he showed up in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses working as a "scumbag." This guy could be an utter star in WWE in every facet if management gave him a chance to, which for a guy his size isn't always a guarantee.
  • Dark Horse, Female Division - Nikki Cross: I felt like Bayley was a layup, and WWE botched her by making her just like any other babyface. Asuka should be a slam dunk, but she's hampered by an emphasized streak that will end unsatisfactorily (it will, trust me on this). Saying Cross is a can't-miss is foolish because if you look at the most successful women on the main roster from NXT, they're either prominent through sheer force of the crowd's will (Banks, Becky Lynch to an extent), that they're Charlotte Flair, or that they were pushed exactly like Flair was as a heel (Bliss). I will reserve the right not to get excited about female call-ups until WWE proves it can do right by them consistently, or at least as right as they do the male ones (which isn't that great a track record either but still).
  • Should Be Huge, but LOL, WWE and Pushing Queer or POC Characters Correctly, Good One - Velveteen Dream: I don't need to explain this one. He should be meteoric for them, but when WWE's idea of "LGBTQ+ storylines" is the Fashion Files, well...

My current match of the year is Chris Hero's EVOLVE farewell, which he had against Zack Sabre, Jr. It happened January 28 of this year, and I'm not sure that I've heard about it since I watched it. I don't know why, because it's perhaps the finest match I've seen either guy have in EVOLVE. It had stakes, huge bumps, both men working in the avatar state of their styles, and it had an emotional finish with great catharsis for a guy who'd been a rock for EVOLVE between his WWE stints. I would say the fact that it happened in EVOLVE and not either New Japan Pro Wrestling or WWE is why people are sleeping on it now, but it discounts two things. One, WWE matches across the board also feel like they're being judged with a recency bias more than anything, and two, EVOLVE was hotter then than it is now, so if it happened in October or November with all this FloSlam bullshit surrounding it, the chances of it being forgotten now would be even greater. However, I stick by that answer, because it was a phenomenal match that happened during a time when people were still remembering their favorite matches from 2016 and not ready to take in great matches that happened anywhere that wasn't the Tokyo Dome on January 4. For some reason, a deserved reason obviously, WrestleKingdom is immune to recency bias discussions, but that's what happens when you're the critical king of wrestling, I suppose.

In one corner, you have 2011, Hall of Pain Mark Henry. In the other, it's time, it's time, it's VADER TIME, from like 1992 or so. Small cities wouldn't be able to handle the tremors produced by those two going at it.

I honestly don't know anymore. Everyone famous seems to have gotten there by stepping on other people. While I nervously support people like, say, Shailene Woodley, Mark Ruffalo, or Rosario Dawson in their dual attempts at creating art and showing humane activism, would I be surprised if any one of them were child abusers or closet Recep Tayyip Erdogan supporters? Not in this hell world. Not a chance. To quote modern day bards Tame Impala, "The less I know, the better," in this case, about celebrities' or artists' personal lives.

WrestleMania XXX will go down as one of the greatest wrestling events of all-time for a few reasons, none bigger than Daniel Bryan pretty much getting to celebrate his career with 70,000 of his closest friends and family and fans. One could point to the finish of the main event as the time when most would be happy because it was the resolution to years of tension around him, but it wasn't for me the zenith moment for two reasons. One, he tapped Good Guy Dave Batista instead of Scumbag Steve Randy Orton to win the title. Bryan spent all that time chasing Orton, he should've tapped Orton, fuck your precious idea of protecting someone for a rematch down the road, ESPECIALLY since Bryan's post-Mania feud was against fucking Kane. But the second and more important reason was that I had attained peak happiness after the first match of the show, when Bryan defeated Triple H.

The "mark fan inside of me watching and taking over" seeped out when Bryan punched his ticket for the main event because at that point, I knew WWE would have to have a collective lobotomy for him not to win the title. He beat Triple H, so he was going to do the thing. It was like the point in a movie where you knew everything would turn out alright, but you still had to watch the exposition to show that it did. But more importantly, you need to understand how much I love Bryan Danielson and how much I loathe Triple H to understand that even in the kayfabe sense, when Corporate Bigwig with Veto Power Paul Levesque had to agree to put Bryan over in the middle of the ring and thus be as much a part of the positivity of the decision as Bryan was for actually attaining it. That's where the whole "in the moment" thing comes in, but it works. You could have told me Donald Trump would be President within four years, and I would've shrugged it off, because Bryan did it. He ascended the top of the mountain where he, critically, had been his entire career anyway.

I think it would almost be better to have the Money in the Bank briefcase match in secret and then air it after the person cashes in, right? WWE has exhausted so many different options of storytelling with the briefcase that it's lost so much of what made the initial cash-in or some of the best cash-ins ever feel important. The best way to go would be to make the entire ordeal a surprise. Tape it in absolute secret, not letting anyone know outside of the participants, and then whenever that person cashes in, it'll feel like a shock out of leftfield. Would that path be too risky in the age of omnipresent information? Yeah, probably. At the same time, I see the people holding their briefcases around as story props and maybe it's just the way that recent briefcase winners have acted with it or how they've been booked, but it feels so played out to have that Sword of Damocles hanging over the Champion.

Or who knows, maybe WWE should just stop making the briefcase the only thing that defines its holder for the time that person is holding it. Radical thought, I know, but I'm sure that could help matters too. But I've learned that incrementalism, while it might work in some cases, is wholly unattractive to me anymore in terms of imagination. Give me the blackout briefcase winner, or give me death. Okay, maybe don't give me death, but still, you get it, right?

I honestly don't know, because I pretty much own all my favorite bands' discographies for the most part, so I'd have no motivation to buy it. Conversely, even though I own all but like two or three of their albums on the fringes of the band's career, I'd go with Genesis and put it a replica of the fox mask Peter Gabriel wore on stage during on of his many costume changes during "Supper's Ready."