KWANG THE WEEKLY #5 - The Rock's Announcement, Free Agents, and nWo Version 5.0?
Greetings wrestling readers,
What a tremendous week to be wrestling fans! Lots of news tidbits this week, so, without a further ado, here are the stories you might’ve missed while you were wondering what time machine Sean Mooney popped out of…
* IS IT JANUARY YET? *
Of all the news coming out of last Monday’s 1000th RAW spectacular, the biggest had to be The Rock announcing he would challenge for the WWE World title at next year’s Royal Rumble. With this being only the third wrestling appearance for The Rock since he came back and vowed to never leave, there is no doubt this show will do even bigger numbers than it typically scores.
Thankfully, from every comment I’ve read here at the LOP Forums or on other less important sites, nobody is raising a fuss about The Rock declaring himself number one contender. First, he's The Rock - 'nuff said. If you still think he needs some cred how about the fact that The Rock beat John Cena at WrestleMania – if that don’t make you a top contender for any championship in the WWE, I don’t know what would.
I am also glad to see nobody raise questions about possible injuries that could ruin this slated Rumble bout. The night after WrestleMania 27, when The Rock announced he would face Cena a full year later at WrestleMania 28, many worried that an injury to either would keep the dream match from happening – especially as Cena is no stranger to the operating table. Despite these worries, Cena competed regularly all year and was in fine form by WM28. The Rock, meanwhile, was never at great risk of injury as he only wrestled one other match that year.
This time around, the WWE took an even smarter route, though. Wisely, the WWE has not cemented Rock/Punk for the Rumble the way they did Cena/Rock at WM28 (though this currently seems like the most likely scenario). Instead, by keeping things open as “Rock vs. Insert Champion Here,” they are protected from (1) having to guarantee a bout that may not happen due to Punk getting injured and (2) guaranteeing a bout that may be in demand today, but not so hot 5 months from now. As much as it pains me to say it, as over as CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are now, wrestling fans are fickle – and so are the powers that be in the WWE. By January, Triple H, Cena, Orton, or the Undertaker could be given the strap. While I'm hoping we will get to see Rock/Punk, I applaud the WWE for not setting it in stone when we have half a year to get there.
* PLEASE, NOT AGAIN *
Mere days after all past male members of DegenerationX reunited on RAW, Kevin Nash took to Twitter, proclaiming that a New World Order reunion was in the works. This may actually prove to be accurate as there are currently plans for the WWE to release an nWo DVD package. Oddly enough, though, Nash’s tweet would be re-tweeted by someone working for the competition – namely “Sleazy E” Eric Bischoff, currently cashing checks from TNA/Impact Wrestling.
Whether the nWo reunion occurs on Impact or RAW, I’m hoping it is a one-night-only deal and not a “takeover” as Nash mentioned (before adding that the nWo would have the back of “Phil,” aka CM Punk, at the Rumble this year).
The original New World Order angle was the kind of storyline so entertaining that I feel bad for fans of today’s product who missed it. When the nWo was hot, it was white hot – easily the most captivating stable of wrestlers to exist since the glory days of the Four Horsemen. The original nWo changed the course of wrestling history - no stable since has reached that height.
BUT as great as the original nWo was, the nWo has now come to symbolize something else: desperation and booking ineptitude. The original nWo split in the spring of 98’, branching off into face and heel factions (the Wolfpack and nWo Hollywood respectively), a few months after Sting defeated Hogan at Starrcade 97’, and basically this should have been its end…but the problem was, WCW had no follow-up aside from Goldberg's winning streak.
So, WCW dusted it off and brought the nWo back not once, but TWICE – first, in January 1999, following the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom (the two factions reuniting once Nash conceded the WCW World Title to a returning Hulk Hogan), and a second time, one year later, under the name “nWo 2000” (inexplicably headed by Jeff Jarrett and Bret Hart). This third reformation was ratings poison, further burying the WCW in its losing war against the WWE.
Two years later, Vince McMahon exhumed the nWo corpse himself, rehiring the original trio of baddies (Hogan, Hall, and Nash) to help him wrest control of the WWE from storyline co-owner, Ric Flair. After three or four months, the nWo concept in the WWE died off too, primarily because Hogan was getting massive babyface pops, Hall’s alcoholism got him fired a month after an underwhelming bout with Steve Austin at WM18, and Nash would (almost comically) injure himself performing the most basic of wrestling manuevers. Despite big names like Shawn Michaels and the Big Show joining the stable (by then, it no longer included Hogan or Hall), the storyline was dropped with little explanation. Few complained.
If only the story ended there.
Eight years after the WWE realized bringing back the nWo would be fruitless, TNA decided to give it a shot. This time around, the nWo would have to reform under a new name, however, as the WWE owns the copyright.
Dubbed “The Band,” the trio of Hall, Nash, and longtime wingman, X-Pac, reunited on the January 4th edition of Impact, which happened to be the first of several live shows designed to compete with RAW on Monday Nights. As you may know, this strategy did not turn out so great for TNA.
To go into the complete story of “The Band” would be torturous for you (the reader) and I (the author). Basically, imagine all the inane swerves typical of a TNA storyline in 2010, throw in a miscast Eric Young, add a sprinkle of Hulk Hogan playing up the uninspired question of “Is he with them or not?,” and wrap the whole thing in a giant tortilla made of inexplicable face/heel turns – nuke it for 30 seconds - and you have the piping hot mess that was “The Band.”
According to Nash and Bischoff, yet another nWo reunion is in the works. God help us if either company thinks “getting the band back together” is going to be entertaining, let alone help ratings or buyrates (the nWo has been flaccid in that department for 15 years now, by the way). Like fans who still rally around the letters E-C-W, there will always be a segment of the audience that wants the nostalgic buzz of seeing the New World Order. Fortunately, that audience has had that option for years via autograph signings, indy events, and shoot videos. Just last month, for example, Frank & Son Collectibles in LA advertised an nWo reunion featuring six former stablemates. To me, that's the type of place the reunion should stay in - not on TV.
* THE HOTTEST FREE AGENTS IN WRESTLING *
Womens’ wrestling has a long history. The NWA’s Women’s World Championship, currently held by Tasha Simone, dates back further than the WWE Championship by close to 30 years. Still, every promotion that has tried to cater to fans of women’s wrestling has gone belly up.
Most famously there was GLOW, which aired four seasons of TV episodes in the late 80s and early 90s. More recently, SHIMMER, based out of Chicago, and Women Superstars Uncensored, based out of New Jersey, have sprouted up. Then there’s Wrestlicious, owned and operated by Powerball winner, Jonathan Vargas. On the risqué side of things, Women’s Extreme Wrestling has been around since 2002 and has had quite a few notable talents on its roster, including Mickie James, over the years.
BUT while some of these promotions have dabbled in DVD distribution, TV shows, webisodes, traditional PPV, and iPPV over the years, no womens’ wrestling promotion has broken through to the mainstream. For years, conventional wisdom has held that there is simply not enough interest.
In 2012, though, if someone had the capital, expertise, and industry connections, they could certainly contest this point.
Based on recent developments in TNA and WWE, it seems obvious that women’s wrestlers feel a little underappreciated. A few years ago, TNA’s Knockouts were regularly scoring some of the show’s best ratings week to week – but that success was hardly built upon and the division has been left in shambles following several major departures (and rumors of even more in the near future).
Similarly, over the past three years, the WWE has let millions in potential revenue simply walk away in the form of Mickie James, Michelle McCool, the Bella Twins, Kelly Kelly, and, most recently, Kharma. This is to say nothing of women like Melina, Jillian Hall, Gail Kim, Maria Kanellis, and Maryse, all of whom had their fair share of detractors but an equal amount of rabid fans.
This week, Velvet Sky joined the growing list of free agents. Again, she may not be the female equivalent of Kurt Angle, but she does have at least a modicum of name value and five years experience.
Imagine a promotion, airing episodic TV, that featured many (or better yet, all) of the names I have listed above – then throw in Katie Lea Burchill, Lacey Von Erich, Portia Perez, Shelly “Ariel” Martinez, hardcore knockout Roxxi, Jackie Gayda, Serena Deeb, and Sojourner Bolt. Add in the occasional appearance by vets like Jacqueline, Terri Runnels, Stacy “The Cat” Carter, Trish Stratus, or Lita and you have the makings of a fairly stacked roster (pun intended?).
You may not be guaranteed a five-star match every time, but you would have a full roster capable of delivering passable matches and some lovely eye candy. If the show were to find an audience, or better yet become a smash hit, it would undoubtedly inspire other names to make the jump, especially those like the Bellas and Kelly Kelly who obviously don’t want to be on the road with the WWE 300 days a year.
The fact is, the amount of female talent currently off TV but capable of making an impact is higher than it has ever been. While it would obviously take the work of a genius swindler to put all these personalities into one package, there has never been a time when it could and would be a more successful endeavor. Sadly, there are only two people that could make this work. The first one has his hands full with the number one wrestling company in the world. The second is busy playing lawyer right now every Monday night.
But who knows? Maybe one will see the potential sitting on the sidelines right now looking very pretty. Maybe he’ll decide to a start a true wrestling revolution – a bona fide women’s movement.
Thanks for reading, gang! Enjoy the Olympics!
A pleasure as always DMJ!
Rock - Fully agree that WWE has made a much wiser choice by not specifying Rock's opponent for January. It gives them a lot more leeway and quite honestly helps the Rock quite a bit. I think even the most diehard Rocky fan was getting a bit tired of his Cena jokes by the end of that year. This gives Rock a chance to have fresh material ready as soon as we hit 2013, and it won't go on so long that it tires out a portion of the fanbase. I've been a little iffy on some of the Rock's work since he came back, but I'm extremely excited for this. It should be a blast.
nWo - 2 years of great material has been grotesquely stretched over the last 16. I don't even see how the nWo could reunite, considering Hogan is in TNA, Nash has ties to the WWE, and Hall is in frankly awful shape from all reports. Then again, if it is an impossibility, maybe that's all for the best at this point.
Ladies - Very interesting notion here, and I'm not sure I buy that only Vince or Heyman could run with it. I'm not saying a name is jumping to my mind, but you never know where the next great wrestling mind might pop up. There's a surprisingly large talent pool to draw from right now, as you pointed out, so I'd love to see what someone could do with the idea if they had a mind to see it through.
The coloring seemed a bit off, coming more infrequently (and once a bit sloppily!). A reaction to 'Plan's criticism, or just a less colorful week? Didn't affect the quality of the piece really, it was as fun a read as ever. Just something I noticed.
Looking forward to next week!
“Similarly, over the past three years, the WWE has let millions in potential revenue simply walk away in the form of Mickie James, Michelle McCool, the Bella Twins, Kelly Kelly, and, most recently, Kharma.”
Despite this one gross overstatement, I very much enjoyed your column. It was easily digestible and contained plenty of insight.
I especially liked the excerpt “To go into the complete story of “The Band” would be torturous for you (the reader) and I (the author). Basically, imagine all the inane swerves typical of a TNA storyline in 2010, throw in a miscast Eric Young, add a sprinkle of Hulk Hogan playing up the uninspired question of “Is he with them or not?,” and wrap the whole thing in a giant tortilla made of inexplicable face/heel turns – nuke it for 30 seconds - and you have the piping hot mess that was “The Band.”
Nice and succinct.