Friday, September 24, 2021

Poacher's Delight, Case Number Three: Big E

Big sweaty men slappin' meat in AEW? Maybe...
Photo Credit: WWE.com

 All Elite Wrestling has done what WWE has conditioned people to think could never be done. They got Tony Schiavone and CM Punk to return to wrestling and overcome the malaise they developed for that business in their prior stints. They made a deal to honor Owen Hart with Hart's widow and family when WWE CONVINCED everyone that Martha's problem was with wrestling and not with the negligent and callous company that killed her husband. And they've overrun New York City, WWE's home base for DECADES, setting attendance records and exciting the city with wrestling at levels not seen since at least Rock vs. John Cena, once in a lifetime part two. All signs point to them not just being a fringe alternative to WWE in the North American wrestling market, but as legit competition and a future potential market leader.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Instant Feedback: He Has 'Til Five, Ref

He's back

 I didn't know what to expect from Bryan Danielson's return to a ring outside of WWE's purview. Honestly, I should have gone with my gut. He is, after all, the greatest wrestler in the history of the sport, the art, the whatever the fuck this thing everyone reading this rag loves. You don't lose the ability to have a great wrestling match, especially against Kenny Omega, who takes his craft more seriously than anyone ever has at least since Randy Savage was still alive and active. The means by which you have a great match may change. Genichiro Tenryu did not have the same incredible bouts in 2005 that he did in 1985 after all. Yeah, Danielson didn't have the same exact excellent match in 2021 that he had in 2006, but how close a simulacrum it was to what his wars with folks like Takeshi Morishima or Low Ki or Nigel McGuinness was now, post-medical retirement, post-years of being in a WWE environment not known for stimulation was, in a word, incredible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The TWB Draft: Judgment Day, Part One

The winning roster had these two guys on it

Roster construction is the first phase of creating a wrestling promotion. For this exercise, a hypothetical scenario was created where the WWE was dismantled and the McMahon family was jailed for their crimes. In the ashes, six promotions in six different distinct North American territories sprang up, and the talent in this country was allocated via draft and a post-draft free agency period. Everyone's rosters are complete, and before the second part of this exercise, the booking of the first pay-per-view cycle, is begun, judgment must come for the roster construction.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Poacher's Delight, Case Number Two: Charlotte Flair

Would Flair be too big to succeed in AEW?
Photo Credit: WWE.com

 With Bryan Danielson, Ruby Soho, and Adam Cole debuting at All Out and more names rumored to be on the way, AEW is well on its way to becoming a legitimate contender to WWE's wrestling hegemony. If you read into the ratings numbers and think Dynamite's larger draw of the much-desired 18-49 male demographic is not an aberration and a sign of a trend to come, then they already are a competitor. Folks who were not around when World Championship Wrestling was in business don't know the excitement of wrestlers who were on one program one week showing up on the other team's programming the next. All in all, that was half the mystique of watching each Monday night between the years of 1996 and 2000.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

On Representation in Modern Booking

Sky has been a missed opportunity for AEW so far

Brian Cage is not happy in All Elite Wrestling. He hasn't said anything, but his wife, former Lucha Underground ring announcer Melissa Santos, has been vocal on social media about how he's been "misused." As an interested observer, I was baffled by the notion that Cage, who has been a fixture on AEW television since his debut at the Double or Nothing 2020 Casino Battle Royale, was misused. He has been in a feud with Sting and Darby Allin, including a payoff in a memorable cinematic match where Sting wrestled for the first time since his infamous Seth Rollins match in WWE years ago. He got to have a mini title program with Jon Moxley when he was Champion. He was the centerpiece of the Team Taz story, both as a member at first and now as the babyface fighting them. What else more could you want than having all that exposure in a hot company where fans react to everything (except for.... you).

Friday, September 10, 2021

Poacher's Delight, Case Number One: Baron Corbin

Corbin, All Elite? Not as shocking as you think
Photo Credit: WWE.com

All Out was the best mainstream American wrestling pay-per-view of all-time even without the shock of all the debuts into All Elite Wrestling. However, those debuts, namely, Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole, have opened a lot of minds to the possibility of big names from WWE leaving the company and signing with AEW not because they've been jettisoned from their deals in cost-cutting measures (the way FTR and Ruby Soho were), but because they now had choices for places of employ. WWE wanted to keep Danielson and Cole, and they couldn't because they refused to offer them things they wanted. Now, other wrestlers may have that option on the table.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The TWB Draft: Free Agency

Mauro and Corey, together again
Screengrab via SportsKeeda

When I last left off describing the TWB Draft to one and all, I summarized the actual draft portion. It's called the "TWB Draft," so that should be the most important thing, right? Well, sure, but what good is roster allocation if you don't use it? Twenty-five wrestlers comprise a good start for any promotion, but post-draft, so many other viable wrestlers were left available, as well as all the non-wrestling staff that had now become bereft of employment. The commentators, managers, and agents of the world needed to be signed. Referees, under this plan, would become the domain of the Federal Wrestling Bureau.

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Best Wrestling Pay-Per-View, Ever: An All Out 2021 Conceptual Review

He's here

The last time I did one of these "conceptual reviews," I called Double or Nothing earlier this year the "best show since WrestleMania XXX." I thought it would be hard to top, especially with such a rushed build and the lack of All Elite Wrestling's rising star and possible Most Valuable Wrestler, Hangman Page. With his desire to be present for the birth of his first child, a desire that I understand, support, and think AEW was absolutely correct to accommodate, the presumed tension point at the top of the card was out the window. They replaced him with Christian Cage, which I thought was something you'd do for one of those heretofore unnamed Clash of the Champion-tribute shows they're going to start running next year, not for their biggest show of the year.

Friday, September 3, 2021

RIP Daffney Unger

Daffney, shown here at a 2011 meet and greet, passed away September 1
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Shannon Spruill, better known from her performing days in World Championship Wrestling and the independent circuit as Daffney Unger or Shark Girl, passed away Wednesday night. She was 46. Spruill had shown erratic behavior on Instagram Live, which had sparked concern across all the people she had touched over her career across social media and real life. Attempts were made to send help to her house, but she died before they could arrive. During her Instagram Live session, she had made reference to wanting her brain to be studied for signs of CTE from her wrestling career. This desire has shown to be common among suicidal people from industries, like wrestling, American football, and hockey, with increased risk for head trauma. The most notable among these was former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, who took his own life after requesting his brain be studied.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The TWB Draft: The Results of the Draft

Which territory got this as their top feud?
Photo Credit: WWE.com

You know the story so far. The McMahon family and WWE braintrust have been compromised to a perman... I mean, they're in jail. The post-apocalyptic landscape of wrestling is in disarray. Luckily, six regional promotions have sprung up to fill the void in North America under the central authority of the Federal Wrestling Bureau. As a review, those six promotions are as follows:
  • International Wrestling Federation (Northeast and Maritimes)
  • World Ass Championship Wrestling (Southeast)
  • Midwest Federation of Wrestling (Midwest and Central Provinces)
  • Lone Star Wrestling (Texas and the Southwest)
  • Rocky Mountain Wrestling (Mountain States and Provinces)
  • Pacific Championship Wrestling (West Coast and Hawaii)

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Don't Cut Yourself on the Edge(Lord) of the Knife

Lambert has fire, but does he fit on a "progressive" show?
Screengrab courtesy of Wrestling Inc.

Personally, I've found Dan Lambert of American Top Team an entertaining part of any All Elite Wrestling show he's graced with his presence. I'm not rooting for him, obviously. He's basically taking Jim Cornette's real life criticisms of the show, which amount to an old man yelling at a cloud, and turning them into heel heat. At first, it was unclear which wrestler was going to take the bumps for him, although he took lumps his first appearance from an irate Lance Archer. His second appearance was a fakeout in that he had two UFC fighters, Andrei Arlovski and Junior dos Santos, flanking him but it was The Men of the Year, Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky, who laid in wait to ambush Archer as he predictably went to defend the honor of pro wrestling and his home company. Lambert appears to have taken on a regular role as Sky's and Page's manager, as he appeared in a pre-taped segment with the tag team flanking him.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Underpromising and Overdelivering

Punk's AEW debut shows how to create satisfying wrestling
Graphics Credit: AllEliteWrestling.com

Before Friday night at 10 PM Eastern, at no point in time did All Elite Wrestling promise they were signing and delivering CM Punk. Okay, so I know that's really not the story. There was a lot of winking and nudging. Darby Allin said he wanted "The Best in the World" for the August 20th edition of Rampage. The sheer fact that they booked the United Center for their B-show instead of the Sears Center or something smaller in the area had to be BLATANT foreshadowing. If Tony Khan or the executive vice presidents didn't themselves leak word of Punk signing to the dirtsheets weeks in advance, they certainly looked the other way when people in the office did. You know they were stirring the pot even if they never at once said the names "CM Punk" or "Phil Brooks."

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Introducing The TWB Draft: McMahon Apocalypse

Enjoy jail, bozos
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Imagine a hypothetical scenario, one that is probably too farfetched for the current state of America, but one that I feel leads to the most fun for this exercise. The United States of America has finally decided that pro wrestling, the pristine artform we all know and love, has been poisoned too much by carny bullshit over the years. The Departments of Labor and Justice have finally cracked down on Vince McMahon’s abuses of the independent contractor label, seized his assets, and liquidated WWE. For good measure, they used a few Predator drones to level Titan Towers. WWE is no more. While McMahon, his blood family, son-in-law Paul Levesque, and associated cronies like Nick Khan and Kevin Dunn have been prosecuted and brought to justice, the penalties for other wrestling promoters and promotions were less severe. All Elite Wrestling, Ring Of Honor, Major League Wrestling, and all other promotions based in the United States are also liquidated, and wrestling has become nationalized. The people behind those promotions, like Tony Khan, Court Bauer, and even the slipshod and haphazard team running Impact Wrestling, have been spared.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

"Eww, Wrestling Fans Smell!" - Wrestling Fans

As always, wrestling's problems stem from this jerk
Photo Credit: WWE.com

WWE is finally venturing back on the road after spending a COVID-19 residency at the Performance Center and then various arenas rigged with fans in virtual attendance from home called the Thunderdome. They will join All Elite Wrestling, who welcomed non-plant fans back in waves until they finally went with full arenas at Double or Nothing, whether or not it was a completely great idea at the time due to their location in the most Florida-location in Florida, Duval County. AEW went back on the road last week, and the results, outside of one moron fan jumping the rails in an unsuccessful attempt at impressing Jim Cornette, showed the magic of pro wrestling with a full crowd.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Where Should They Go?

Lovelace would be a wonderful addition to STARDOM in her post-WWE career.
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Wednesday, WWE let go six wrestlers in an attempt at shaving the budget. How a multibillion dollar corporation with no fewer than three revenue sources that pay them billions of dollars before the first fan walks through the turnstile or fires up a streaming service can cut talent for budgetary reasons would be beyond me if I were born yesterday. Either Vince McMahon and his shareholders are gearing up to sell the company to a multinational media conglomerate, or he's once again showing his true colors as the greediest shitbag even among the greedy shitbags that populate the ranks of wrestling promoters both currently and throughout history.