Thursday, March 22, 2018

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 228

The greatest ever? Far from it, but that perception is WWE's fault.
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:

Charlotte Flair is the best women's wrestler of all-time? Who considers her this? WWE canon doesn't even have her surpassing Trish Stratus and Lita yet, I don't think. If you look across the spectrum of women's wrestling, she's probably not "greater" than many of the AJW women's talents from the '90s like Bull Nakano, Aja Kong (who's still active), Manami Toyota (who only just recently retired), or Akira Hokuto. I think that the fact that Flair can so easily be named "the greatest" by a modern fan (and this is no shade on the person asking this question, I swear) speaks to how poorly WWE had presented women's wrestling up to the time that Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch were introduced on the main roster. These current female stars are basically blazing trails by acting as the for-real versions of Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, and others from when Capitol Wrestling was renamed the World-Wide Wrestling Federation and thus modern WWE history was born. I don't mean to answer this question in brusque manner, but it feels like it's based on a premise that isn't all that true.

The safest place is probably WWE because of its combination of a relatively low-impact style and the money it has available to at least reactively treat injuries. Yes, I know, WWE's track record with proactive protection of workers and even its history in treating injuries is awful, but I mean, it's not that much better anywhere else. Hiroshi Tanahashi has been working hurt probably this whole decade. Wrestling companies on the whole don't give a flying fuck about their workers. It's just WWE has some measures in place that make it seem like it cares for legal reasons, most of which are in the ring (banned moves, no piledrivers, no blading rules, etc.).

Creatively is a whole different question, and the answer certainly isn't WWE. The knee-jerk reaction would be that Bryan f'n Danielson could very much work as a Cody Rhodes-esque freelancer, work wherever he wanted, and choose the place to settle down in that allows him the most creative freedom. Basically, the answer is "anyone but WWE." Danielson right now is probably bigger than any non-WWE company in the world, even New Japan Pro Wrestling. He could go anywhere and get creative control. Staying in WWE would probably get him similar clamped down stories from before his injuries, maybe with more latitude because he's headlined WrestleMania and spent a good deal of time as an authority figure, so he's got that part-time aura on him, no matter how strenuously a schedule he works. However, no matter how much latitude he gets, he's not going to be able to go into Vince McMahon's office and demand he get to plot out his own story. Top guys get that power, sure, but even then, McMahon learned a lesson when he guaranteed it to Bret Hart in his contract. I'm also sure that as much latitude as guys like Undertaker and John Cena have, they don't butt heads with McMahon on the reg. They're not shot callers. Danielson can be a shot caller if he freelances and does tours of Ring of Honor one month and CMLL the next or whatever.

Kris Wolf is the top answer, and most of the time, it isn't even serious wrestling or wrestling at all. Hell, in fact, you could probably make the case for the entire STARDOM roster as being the answer to this question. It's such a gif-able promotion, from Kairi Hojo elbow drops to Hana Kimura walking by and flipping the bird. I should probably sub to STARDOM World, shouldn't I?

Well, WWE would have to re-sign him first. Bryan's contract is up in the autumn, I think. It's not enough time for him to drop out and show up at All In probably, but if WWE doesn't get him to sign a new deal, he could be gone from the company in time to start building towards a marquee match at WrestleKingdom. I'm not sure what the temperature is between the two sides. I think that WWE clearing him might be a gesture on its end to keep him in the fold. I don't know many backstage details at this point on his contract situation. However, should he re-sign with WWE, he'd almost certainly have to be on the brand that Roman Reigns isn't on. In that respect, the brand split is still a success, although the ending of exclusive pay-per-views might muddle that situation even further. As long as Bryan is in the pool with guys who can keep up with him and away from narratives where the crowds would sense he's clearly a secondary player to Reigns, he'll be fine I think. Again, the injury situation and the time spent as an authority figure has some unexpected silver lining to it.

The best executed one by far is the Undertaker, right? I mean, he got a shitload of mileage out of the spooky mortician gimmick, and it forms the backbone of his most recent current character, no matter how warped and twisted by his fetishistic love for MMA it became. The least successful one would be nearly every other second job gimmick that WWE tried in the mid-'90s. Duke "The Dumpster" Droese. Isaac Yankem, DDS. The Goon. Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz. The level of thought put into them and the caliber of worker behind them doomed all of them to fail.

The chances are decent, I think, as long as Angle and Bryan retain their current roles as brand general managers. I'm not sure where the match would be, and both are trending towards losing their positions of power anyway. That being said, I'm sure WWE would find a reason to put them together in the ring if it really wanted to. As for how good the match would be, well, Angle hasn't really looked all that great in his return matches. However, if WWE has one guy who can get a really good match out of anyone, let alone someone with the skillset of Angle, it's Bryan. So I wouldn't be too pessimistic if that match happened.

1. The Miz - WWE has been building up heat between Bryan and Miz since the brand split began, and Miz is still using those YES! kicks. So the payoff had to be delayed for awhile. Who cares? I still wanna see Bryan punt Miz's head clean into the nosebleeds.

2. Andrade "Cien" Almas - El Idolo probably isn't staying in NXT for much longer, and I feel like Bryan would be a perfect feud for him at any point in his early main roster career. Bryan has stated he wants to work lucha, so he can handle Almas' native stylings. Plus, if the Almas/Johnny Gargano matches have taught the world anything, it's that the former La Sombra vs. an elementally pure babyface has off-the-charts potential.

3. AJ Styles - C'mon, the two best wrestlers of the last decade squaring off, preferably in a pay-per-view main event? I want it. I NEED IT.

Honorable mention to Shinsuke Nakamura, since both guys want to do that match and since Bryan is probably an opponent that would make Nak switch out of paycheck mode. Second honorable mention would be for Rusev, since Bryan so fortuitously came back on Rusev Day.

Protected user @adamsgroove:
What do you think will happen the night after WrestleMania? NXT call-ups, things of that nature...
My guess is the first seeds get planted for the Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins program that will probably headline RAW throughout the spring. I don't know how they get planted, but they will. Second, watch for Carmella to cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase, but not on Asuka. I foresee her sneaking over to RAW and sneak attacking either Nia Jax or Alexa Bliss and taking that title, citing that her contract never had any language stating she had to cash in on the Smackdown Women's Champion. Undertaker will probably formally retire, win or lose against John Cena at Mania. As for the call-ups, I'm guessing that you'll get the Authors of Pain, Lars Sullivan, Ethan Carter III, the Ember Moon/Shayna Baszler loser, Kairi Sane, and the Iconic Duo.