Thursday, January 25, 2018

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 221

A shitty combat soap opera that is still enthralling? That's wrestling!
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:

Actually, that might be the best description I have ever heard of pro wrestling. Writing and story construction never rise above the best pulp fiction. One could call catch-as-catch-can a martial art. Yet, it invites viewership so easily because it's engaging and satisfying at its best and even car-crash must-see at its worst. You might be onto something, friend.

I wouldn't. Seriously, weight classes in WWE are dumb when the guys in charge really don't know what to do with it or have the will to do with them what needs to be done to make someone who isn't Roman Reigns-sized or who can compete with Roman Reigns-sized people. I don't want to see Drew Gulak and Cedric Alexander and all those other really awesome great wrestlers segregated away from the people who matter. I want Gulak making PowerPoint presentations on why he should be the next Intercontinental Champion. I want Alexander to have dope-ass sprints on RAW against Jason Jordan and Sheamus. I'm so beyond the purple belt and shit that I can't even imagine a scenario where I'd even pretend to think that the separate division is a good idea.

The men is a tough call, because I'm still not sure who's winning. If the winner is NOT Roman Reigns, I can see him getting the iron man run. The narrative around the Intercontinental Championship has been framing it as the "workhorse title," which fits Reigns and doesn't really fit Miz, which was the whole point of that angle (the face is the genuine article, the heel lies and says he is but isn't, wrestling 101). If he is winning, I can't think Vince McMahon is dumb enough to allow the match to be laid out so that the fans see the most of Reigns only to see him win, especially after the last time he made the call for Reigns to win the Rumble in Philly. In that case, I would probably peg some slimy-ass heel with a penchant for not going away. Dolph Ziggler fits that unless you've talked yourself into him drawing number 30 and coming out to Daniel Bryan's theme song. Miz is another good candidate for that role.

For the women, my guess is it'll be a Horsewoman, probably Bayley because it would personify her determination and will. WWE loves using fake Rumble stats to pump people up, at least in the short term anyway, and Bayley could use some pumping up, especially if she's not winning.

Protected user @adamsgroove asks:
Outlook for the current crop of (declared) QBs and where they might be taken in the NFL Draft?
I like Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Rosen. I don't like Josh Allen or Sam Darnold. Everyone else is a late-round backup pick. Outside of liking and not liking them, I don't want to tie any hard or fast predictions to how they'll do because I suck at it. I thought Aaron Rodgers would suck and Byron Leftwich would be a franchise QB. Still though, it's not as hard to project where they'll land in the draft as it is to project a career. Of those five quarterbacks. three will probably go near the top of the draft: Mayfield, Rosen, and Allen. Darnold may go high, and Jackson will be disrespected and probably evaluated as a wide receiver because racism or whatever.

The top ten picks have three teams I'd label as needing a quarterback: Browns, Giants, and Jets. The Broncos could also be in the market if they end up bailing on Paxton Lynch already. I don't know if they are. The Browns will more than likely go QB with the first overall pick to ensure that they get their pick of the litter; waiting until the fourth pick would be risky. I think they take Allen. The Giants are the next team up barring trades, and that organization is making a point to get whom they feel are big boys who wear big boy pants after the debacles over the last few years with Ben McAdoo and Eli Apple and Odell Beckham, Jr. So they'll probably opt for Rosen, who doesn't come with the dreaded *extremely spooky ghost voice* character issues that Mayfield has. That would leave Mayfield to drop to the Jets, which again, is barring any trades. Several quarterback needy teams could trade up, like the Cardinals, Landover Racial Slurs (pending whether Kurt Cousins leaves), the Bills (pending what they do with Tyrod Taylor), the Ravens (Joe Flacco, lol), the Vikings (that quarterback situation is, hoo boy) or maybe even a team with an aging quarterback who could retire in the next five years like the Steelers, Chargers, or Saints. Whatever team doesn't trade up into the top of the first might roll the dice with Darnold or Jackson later on. I don't know if they'll go mid-first, but my gut feeling is that in a league where people overrate the shit out of quarterbacks, they won't slip into the third.

I would say the biggest underachiever is Bayley, but I'm not entirely sure it's her fault, much like it's not Bo Dallas' fault or the Ascension's fault, and it won't be Velveteen Dream's fault when he's brought up. Shinsuke Nakamura is another answer, but honestly, that might have been more on fans' expectations rather than WWE's, especially fans who didn't really watch a lot of New Japan Pro Wrestling to know that Nakamura has always taken shows off. I know it's shitty to make excuses for anyone who doesn't meet expectation, but I can't really think of anyone who failed to translate based on their own merits. So the answer circles back to Bayley, I guess.

As for the biggest overachiever, you don't need to walk with Elias to know that he's batting way over his projections right now.

So, I'm gonna book Smackdown's WrestleMania card! It all starts at the Royal Rumble, where AJ Styles defeats Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens thanks to Owens walking out on the match after Styles makes a furious comeback. Zayn goes ballistic on Owens the next Smackdown, and their tenuous friendship snaps again leading into their Mania match. Styles will get the winner of the Royal Rumble, Shinsuke Nakamura. You don't need a whole lot of build there, although that match would have a lot of the same problems that the Owens/Zayn feud in WWE has had to date. It'd have to borrow a lot from work that Vince McMahon and his creative team didn't create. But it's gotta happen at some point in a WWE ring, right? The third big match would be Charlotte Flair defending the Women's Championship against Becky Lynch, whether or not she ended up winning the Rumble match. As for the rest of the roster, well, I'm not sure where they'd all fit into Mania, since that show is for McMahon's furious masturbatory variety show and celebrity mish-mash and not to give the roster a pinnacle point to reach for. That's more and more becoming SummerSlam.

Anyway, as for non-Mania feuds, I would definitely put the Smackdown Tag Championships on Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin and let them run as prick jocks who are just better than all their challengers until Breezango is ready to challenge them sometime in the spring. I would put a third guy in the Bobby Roode/Dolph Ziggler feud to get the United States Championship away from them. I would probably position Rusev away from the tag division and set him up as the first challenger for either Styles or Nakamura post-Mania, while keeping Aiden English viable as a midcard guy. Maybe they recruit another wrestler or two and start a trend of Smackdown having New Japan style stables. Or maybe I'm just dreaming a bit too hard. I don't know. I would probably also run secondary feuds for the women too, like Naomi vs. Carmella and Ruby Riotttttttttt vs., uh, I don't know? God, when did Smackdown's female roster get so thin, especially on the babyface side? I can't wait for after Mania, and also for Michael PS Hayes to retire full-time to singing songs about racism and not writing wrestling.

White cheddar cheese for richness and sharpness. Sauteed but not caramelized onions for a slightly sweet note that retains a bit of the acidic tang that said onions have when they're raw. Spinach for freshness and body. Boom. You don't need meat for a great omelette.

The answer is going to depend on viewership. WWE is slavish to numbers, no matter what the context is. If the numbers are good, maybe it'll force them to make a change. But then again, if you watch weekly NXT, you notice a marked difference between presentation. I don't know if NXT is rigidly scripted or if the wrestlers are given a skeleton outline of what to talk about and they riff on it. But it feels way more natural, which says to me that Paul Levesque and his crew down there aren't trying to reinvent the RAW wheel. Now, whether or not they go as full-bore as they are with the MMC is a whole other question, but consider this. Vince McMahon is going to have his time occupied with the reboot of the XFL. Levesque will presumably have more say. MMC showrunner Ryan Ward is a Levesque guy. Maybe he gets more influence and things get loosened up on the main roster. I don't know. But I'm hopeful, I guess.