7 Things I Think I Think This Week (8/19/12 to 8/25/12)
I'm going to try to do this, but no guarantees. Partly based on my mood each day and partly based on if/when/what Sheepy and company have in mind for me for CSI. But for now, we'll keep the logo and beautiful banner I made myself. and roll on with the...
For August 19-26
1. We are glass.
Saturday night my wife, Mellisa, was looking on her Ticketmaster app for the area in which we live. Last Labor Day my daughter and I went to see a concert that was joint-headlined by Train and Maroon 5, which I originally came across by looking to see if The Killers were touring because I really want to see them/listen to them perform live. Now that "Battle Born" comes out Sept 18, I told Mellisa that what I really want for Christmas/my birthday is tickets to see them. Well, they're playing in Venice, IT on August 31, so you know, Fluk Yeah! </eye roll> However, I'm not just a rock and roll fan. I, my friends, am a fan of music and she thought I was a fan of Josh Turner, which I'm not. I am, however, a fan of his opening act, and since my daughter likes Turner and the tickets are only $27, we're going to see them on Sept 30. His opening act is called "Thompson Square" and I knew I liked them by their singles "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" and "I Got You." What I didn't know is that they also sing the most beautiful song on the radio right now--"Glass." Part of the lyrics to that song are "We are colored by the light that we let through us." and after reading the fairly entertaining predictions by Skitz and Super Chrisss on the Main Page and a comment that Sidgwick made in feedback to my SummerSlam column, I was struck again by the--pardon the pun--reflection of how true that is for internet wrestling fans.
A lot of times we consider ourselves to be so superior to the masses that make up the majority of the WWE Universe that we don't take time to think how much ignorant we are in a different way. Yes, they are sheep that pretty much go along with what WWE wants them to do. Other than John Cena--which has basically become an audience game of hot potato--they cheer for the faces and boo the heels with pathetic regularity and they are actually impressed and empowered, one assumes, when WWE announces another boon in their cap with the "Did You Know?" feature. Meanwhile we are so much more in the light, aren't we? We're able to judge "workrate," "promo skills," "selling" and everything else under the sun that a professional wrestler is supposed to do, but does that actually make us better fans or just different types of ones? I'd argue that it's the latter. How much more would we have enjoyed SummerSlam if we actually thought that The Big Show had a chance to win the WWE Title? How much more entertaining and unpredictable would the next five months before the Royal Rumble be if we didn't already know that The Rock is (probably) facing CM Punk there, followed by Cena at Wrestlemania? I try to walk the line between being a smart and a mark and it's not an easy thing to do. At times I've tried to go back, but this is one genie that I have found impossible to get back in the bottle. Still waiting for my damned wishes, too.
Because we're a community inside of a community, our ideas bounce off each other and into each other and then either stagnate or expand into other branched ideas. We're infectious with both our positive and negative opinions. We are, in some ways, a cancer cluster. Someone says Triple H is burying all of his opponents and dictating matches? Must be true; I read it on the internet. Rey Mysterio is a little midget who doesn't belong in the heavyweight division. Must be true; I read it on the internet. Wrestlers need to be built up over a specific length of time before they get a championship. Must be true; I read it on the internet. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm an internet wrestling columnists. As such, I believe it's possible for the internet to have value to wrestling fans and I believe I have an opinion that's worth reading. Hopefully my columns make you think, feel, remember, and smile at least once or twice. However, that doesn't mean I expect my readers to just believe everything I say absolutely just because I said it. If I can persuade someone to my way of thinking or get you to reconsider an opinion you've held. Awesome. If I've done some of these things, I'm alright. If I've done all of them--especially in a short piece like this--then I'm content that I've done my job well. If not, what I used to say at the end of each and every Excuse the Aggravation applies and I'll try and do better next time.
This is an opinion column. Always has been, always will be, so the following is my opinion, but it is, I'm certain, the correct opinion. It is not always necessary or even desirable to build up a professional wrestler extensively before giving him a championship. Yes, last time I went into a mini-rant about a certain Italian being unworthy to hold the United States Title, etc., but that's in retrospect and Marella is a babyface--as Jim Ross would like us to call him--a wrestling hero. My prediction for Antonio Cesaro to defeat Santino for the strap and my scenario for Cody Rhodes to win his first World Championship in a Championship Scramble at SummerSlam would have worked precisely because they are not babyfaces. Now, let me be clear, it's not that a heel should never be built up before they win a midcard or world title. That would be silly; besides, who among us really believes in evers, always, and nevers? Not I, friends. No, it makes a ton of sense for a wrestling villain to be built up before a huge pay per view match--especially if it's a one-on-one upper card match or main event. That's not what we're talking about here, though, is it? Not even close. The situations here have nothing to do with either of those scenarios. The United States Heavyweight Title was in desperate need of saving from irrelevancy due to a nearly half-year long reign of terror by a more evil clown than Pennywise, while the World Heavyweight Title scene just needs a shake-up right now due to blandness.
Antonio Cesaro defeating Santino Marella for the U.S. Title on a pre-show card may lack a little elan, but it does two things very well. First, and more (notice "more," not "most" for less than three items) importantly, it gets the strap off of Marella. Secondly, it gets viewers to believe that tuning into the pre-show is critical because by not doing so they missed something pretty important. Smart fans like you and me also now believe the same thing because we're stuck with the knowledge that we just missed the start of something that could become historic--especially if you're not the torrenting type. The Cody Rhodes idea, likewise, had multiple benefits in addition to ending the lame duck reign of Sheamus. It would allow the wonderful match idea that is the Championship Scramble to return for the first time since 2009 and it would help the WWE Universe remember that surprise Money in the Bank wins aren't the only time that "anything can happen in the WWE." Rhodes winning the World Title would have been a terrific thing for Smackdown and an even better thing for us fans. A heel starting off his reign near the bottom and working himself up to the top against established faces is entertaining as hell, edge-of-your-seat dramatic, and, in this case, preferable to any of the likely alternatives. TNA has been doing a lot of thinking outside the box lately and it shows. As good as professional wrestling is right now--and make no mistake, it is very, very good--it could be even better if the Smackdown writers were showing the same creativity as their Impact! and RAW counterparts instead of giving us the same old, same old. If Smackdown is inferior talent-wise because it's supposed to be a proving ground, it's time to let Rhodes and Cesaro prove what they can do as heels carrying the respective World and U.S. banners.
2. At SummerSlam, real recognized real.
Some of you may already know this from the first half of my magnum opus edition of The Northern Star called "Drugs or Jesus," which is no longer available online and which I, regrettably, also no longer retain a copy of, (I do still have part 2 so if anyone out there is interested in (re)reading it, I'd be happy to post it in the Hall of Fame section.) but for those who don't, it was my late brother Travis who got me into professional wrestling back when I went along with my dad's view that it was all just a bunch of "fakey shit." It wasn't until my younger--and bigger brother--told me to just sit down and watch it that I gave it a legitimate try. So, while my two brothers had been watching the WWF for weeks, it just so happened that the very first wrestling card I watched was Wrestlemania III. To say that I was awed by the spectacle would be an understatement. I mean, not only are there these larger than life figures doing crazy things like diving off turnbuckles "ten feet" in the air, but there's a guy chewing up turnbuckles, another with a snake, and yet another guy cutting the hair of someone who lost a match. There's even a crooked referee wrestling! And then there's the main event where the biggest guy I've ever seen (even now) is dwarfing and tossing around the guy who made Sylvester Stallone look scrawny in Rocky III. Still, with all of this going on, the three guys who stood out the most to me were The Hitman, The Macho Man, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
I know about a week ago I said I wasn't going to say this just because CM Punk is my favorite wrestler in the world, but I just got done watching RAW and both John Cena and Jerry Lawler pissed me off, so here it is. CM Punk is the best wrestler in the world, and to watch him come out in pink and black tights at SummerSlam made me smile and my heart swell. At the time guys like Hart, Savage, and Steamboat were in the tag and midcard, there was absolutely no place in WWE for guys of there size and there wouldn't be now if it wasn't for those guys, starting with The Macho Man, who had to get his first world title with the assistance of Hulk Hogan in order to get the acceptance of the fans as the man in the World Wrestling Federation. While there's really nothing specifically in CM Punk's repertoire that would indicate any link to the lineage of Rick Steamboat, I think it's obvious to anybody who's been watching wrestling over the last quarter century that his success and that of his body type owes a lot to the Dragon. If it wasn't for the flying chops and cross bodies of people like Steamboat and Snuka, Punk and Daniel Bryan wouldn't have the aerial offensive style that they use so often and effectively. I don't know if that means that what's past is prologue, because wouldn't that imply there are constantly going to be better and better wrestlers? I doubt that's true, because as much as I like today's current crop, I still can't believe they're better than the wrestlers I grew up watching.
They don't have to be. I hear guys on First Take and other shows talk about how Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were the greatest players of all time, where for me it will always be Michael Jordan. Yeah, Jordan never won a championship without Scottie Pippen, but for six straight years the Chicago Bulls were the dominant force in the NBA because of the indomitable will of Michael Jordan. We'll never know if he could have done it without Pippen, but c'mon, we know. We know nothing was going to stop Michael Jordan from getting to the top of the sport because of his pure desire to win, just like we know LeBron James never would have won a championship without Wade and Bosh playing alongside him. If Bosh hadn't exploded from behind the 3-point arc against Boston, The Heat wouldn't have even made the Finals. Meanwhile in the 6 championship years for the Bulls, they were never even taken to seven games in a series. I feel the same way about Barry Bonds in baseball. You can call him a cheater all you want, but despite the various "Wellness programs" organizations have, we all know that performance enhancing drugs are ingrained in the business and probably will be forever in some form or another. Bonds may not have been great at winning championships, but baseball's fundamentally probabilistic and one player can't influence the outcome game in game out in that sport like he can in basketball. So while I have respect for Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, etc., they'll always pale in comparison to Barry Bonds because he's the best I ever saw.
That's the way I feel about Bret Hart. He's the Barry Bonds of professional wrestling in my eyes, but maybe those are covered with rose-colored glasses when I look at him, because it's probably pretty obvious to a lot of people out there that he isn't, "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, or The Best There Ever Will Be." I'll admit that when I go back and watch his matches now there are times when I get bored, but it isn't because of Bret, it's because of the wrestling style that was practiced at the time. I remember a ten-minute time limit draw during the tournament at Wrestlemania IV between Ravishing Rick Rude and Jake "The Snake" Roberts that I absolutely loved. If I had so rated at the time, it probably would've gotten a ClassicX from me, but I'm willing to bet that if I were to go back and watch it today that I'd be bored with it because of all the "rest holds," which at that time were simply the psychology of wearing down a body part of your opponent to weaken them enough to finish them off. Ring psychology has completely changed; even the art of wearing down an opponent's body part has changed; just look at the way Albert Del Terrible absolutely goes to war on an opponent's arm. It's completely different from the way in which Steamboat would have done it, but the evolution has been gradual. The way Bret worked over a leg, for instance, was different than the way Ric Flair did, but it wasn't the brutal way that you'll see someone try to completely cripple someone today.
So wrestling's changed, it's evolved, and in some ways it has definitely devolved, but I have neither the time nor the (self-alotted) space to discuss all of that here. I'll simply say that as good as professional wrestlers are today it's as tough to compare CM Punk to Bret Hart as it is to compare Michael Jordan to Bill Russell. Different eras, different expectations, different audiences, different conditions; pretty much nothing is the same now as it was then. Maybe the past shouldn't always be celebrated, but it should at least be remembered and that's why when I saw CM Punk on his way down to clobbering time at SummerSlam in his Hitman tribute tights I got chills. We all know one of his signature moves has become his version of Macho Man's flying elbow because Savage was one of his favorite wrestlers as he was growing up. Like or hate the man, you have to admit that it's all class to acknowledge those who have come before and set a shining example of what a professional wrestler can be. That's for today, even if it's for one day only, I acknowledge CM Punk as the best in the world. It's not like he's that far from it in the first place, he also honored one of his contemporaries by using the Christopher Daniels-invented Koji Clutch to make the Big Show tap out (how's that for truth in reporting?,) and he's about to become the 10th longest reigning WWF/E Champion in history. He's right, folks, he's all about respect, and, like the legends of those in whose footsteps he follows, mine for him just keeps growing.
3. Ryback is not Goldberg.
And anyone who thinks he is should shut their mouths, bite their tongues, swallow the blood, enjoy it if they're feeling particularly vampiric, and pay attention. Yes, he's a big, bald, undefeated power wrestler who sports a goatee, decimates multiple opponents at once, and uses a vertical suplex lift into a slam of sorts to finish off his opponents. That, right there, is where the similarities end. Will Ryback lose anytime soon? Well, how the hell do I know? Even if he doesn't, though, he won't be Goldberg. I watched everything Bill Goldberg ever did. Goldberg was a once in a lifetime phenomenon and I'm not dead yet. Now it's certainly possible that WWE is positioning Ryback in an attempt to make him into their Goldberg, but it won't work with him any more than it did with Vladimir Kozloff. An (non-Wrestlemania) undefeated streak just doesn't work in the WWE. I'm hard-pressed to remember the last time it did, and I'm sure someone *cough*skull*cough* will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was with Mr Perfect. Looking back it's amazing that with the roster WCW had Goldberg's undefeated streak worked, but it did mostly because it wasn't planned to last that long. Wrestlers win and lose matches; it's the nature of the beast of the job of being a professional wrestler. If you're unbeatable there's no drama, if you lose all the time there's slightly more than zero drama, and the best thing to do is maintain some sort of balance comparable with your place on the card.
WWE understands this, so there's absolutely no way that they are going to have Ryback go on an eighteen month winning streak. Hell, the way they do their current booking, there would not be anyone left to challenge him after that time was up if they did so. However, that's not the only reason Ryback isn't Goldberg no matter what ignorant WWE crowd members chant--I'm not going to say WWE Universe members because those sheep would never even remember Goldberg, much less think to chant his name in contrast to WWE's desires. I, unlike it seems most members of the IWC, was a fan of Goldberg. Yeah, he was a terrible worker, whatever that means, but he was an unstoppable force inside the ring and wrestling needs those, too. Maybe for a company like ROH or NOAH where it's pretty much strictly wrestling-based and filled with knowledgeable fans that isn't the case, but when you're dealing with WCW or WWE, entertainment is a huge factor and watching Goldberg run people down with a spear and then destroy them with the Jackhammer, was infinitely entertaining on a visceral level right up to the point that it wasn't. And the biggest reason that it wasn't is that eventually he just became a superhuman robot telling people that they were next. That's not so with Ryback. I already care about him because of the brief promos he's done and he's already got a much better catchphrase that works with his character. I don't know how long he'll last, but he's built to succeed, while Goldberg's push could never have been sustained.
Now, just because Ryback isn't Goldberg, that doesn't mean there isn't a current guy that fits the bill. This guy also has facial hair, also has mown down all the competition he's faced in his promotion, and his primary finisher also begins in a vertical suplex lift before he sends his opponent crashing down. The guy that I spent some time talking about CM Punk honoring in yesterday's thought, Bret "Hitman" Hart was stagnating for a bit in WCW before Goldberg destroyed "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and had to vacate the U.S. Title. Then Bret won it and started his semi-decent career as a not-quite-main-eventer for WCW, just like Zema Ion has started his career as whatever the hell he's going to eventually be in TNA. Yes, folks, the best example of Goldberg we have right now is A-Double, The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Austin Aries. Now, don't get me wrong, he's no rookie, he's on his thirdish stint with Total Nonstop Action, he'd already been a 2-time World Champion, and he's been defeated plenty of times, but he's also been on a major roll, has become a large part of the success of TNA despite former World Heavyweight Title talent all around him, became so over as a midcard champion that TNA practically had to give him his place at the top with their World Title, and like he said on last week's episode of Impact!, going through him is something that nobody, and I mean nobody, has been able to accomplish yet.
Is it blasphemous to compare Austin Aries to a semi-legend like Bill Goldberg? I'll concede that it is, as long as you concede that the blasphemy is including Goldberg in the same thought as Aries, not the inverse. Remember, I'm speaking from a position of authority on this topic because I've watched nearly every match that Goldberg ever had and a large majority of the matches that Austin Aries has, as well. They both grew up as wrestlers in front of my eyes. I'm one of the relative handful of people who have seen them both live at a televised/video taped event, and I tell you that as good as Goldberg was at one time--as tremendous a two-year run as he had--he can't touch Austin Aries. Now, is my main muthaflucka really the greatest man who ever lived or my own personal Jesus? No, he is not, but he is a damned fine wrestler who has all of the tools it takes to be a superstar in this day and age of professional wrestling. Like CM Punk, he probably would have had trouble surviving as even a midcarder in the 80's and early 90's, but wrestling fans and--by extension--wrestling promoters no longer emphasize size to a humongous extent over pure, raw, unadulterated talent and passion. To be sure, there's always going to be a carnival sideshow attraction to the giants if you can get them to be somewhat athletic and able to learn enough to be at least a little adept at the sport of kings, but for the moment the days when those types dominate the business are over.
Austin Aries is Goldberg because he represents a paradigm shift that has been coming for a long time, much the way that Goldberg's arrival and ascension signalled that the NWO angle was about to end. Sure, it didn't go away right away and there were various factions that came and went, but for all intents and purposes, the original NWO died the night that Goldberg punked out Hogan for the championship. In this same manner, the dinosaurs of professional wrestling will slowly fade away until we're left with a large majority of guys that can keep up a fast, furious, technical pace in the ring. Jeff Jarrett and Kevin Nash are already gone. Triple H and The Undertaker are on their last legs. The champs on top of each federation are now guys that would have been competing for the Cruiserweight Title and Light Heavyweight Title a decade ago if they were even on the roster at all. Meanwhile the two most over heels (not counting Aces and 8's) in each federation are also on the smallish side. Daniel Bryan is easily the #1 heel in wrestling right now--assuming Punk remains a tweener and maybe even if he doesn't--and is almost exactly the same size as A-Double, while Bobby Roode is probably closer to Austin size than Punk, but still by no means a giant. Guys like Super Mex, The Big Show, and Matt Morgan are mostly around to enhance the auras of these guys who bring it to the ring with passion every night and I, for one, couldn't be happier. This is the day I foresaw three years ago when I was touting ROH on the Main Page. I knew the change was coming. But this soon? It's almost like someone took a galactic jackhammer to the glass ceiling--not only shattering it, but pulverizing it into unexistence.
4. Maybe Eric Bischoff was right.
When I started watching professional wrestling it was exclusively the World Wrestling Federation for several years before gradually adding in whatever National Wrestling Alliance shows I could find on in my area, since we didn't have cable. At the time, Hulk Hogan was firmly entrenched as WWF Champion and he looked completely unbeatable--even against Andre the Giant, who was "undefeated" and even (as I later saw on video) against King Kong Bundy when Hogan's ribs were badly damaged. Hogan might have been the most popular wrestler in the world, but I got on the organization's bandwagon 3/4 of the way through his first (and best) run with the belt, so I had no emotional investment in him and basically viewed him as a superhuman. I'm not sure if super[i]hero/i] would apply, simply because he didn't really play by the rules, as Jesse "The Body" Ventura seemed enthusiastic to point out and Gorilla Monsoon was more than willing to ignore. So since an unbeatable superhuman--much like one of the topics in yesterday's thought, now that I think about it--was WWF Champion (or, as I thought of it, World Champion,) it fell to wrestling fans to find their emotional connection with performers in other divisions. As I mentioned earlier in the week, the focus of my adulation became on Bret "Hitman" Hart and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, who has to have the shortest *event* Intercontinental Title reign of all time. Think about it, he won the strap in a match generally considered the best Wrestlemania match ever and lost it to the guy who would go on to have the longest reign ever with it.
Though I liked Steamboat, once he dropped the belt he was gone and I became a huge fan of watching The Hart Foundation, who were the tag champs. Since I was living in South Korea at the time my access to wrestling was strictly limited to whatever was shown on the Armed Forces Network or whatever bootlegs we could convince my dad to buy. The shows were impossibly delayed, (By the time I actually saw Wrestlemania III, Savage was already WWF Champion, for instance, though I had no idea that was the case until we arrived back in the States in June 1988 and picked up a wrestling magazine showing a team I'd never heard of called Demolition on the cover and they even had the tag titles. Honky Tonk Man, though, still had his title that I had seen him win about a week before.) but we did get WWF Superstars of Wrestling every week on Saturday mornings and every four weeks Saturday Night's Main Event would air. They'd be even older episodes, which created a weird dichotomy where the past was merged with the present. (Though, of course, it was really an earlier and later past merging.) On these shows, Hogan would normally defend his title, but there'd also be tremendous tag team matches at a time when tag team wrestling was outstanding and the roster was huge. Teams competing for the World Wrestling Federation at this time included The Killer Bees, The Dream Team, The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, The Rougeau Brothers, The Can-Am Connection, and Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik, among others.
Usually those SNMEs had one or more matches featuring those teams going at each other, so at first I was more a fan of tag team wrestling than singles wrestling. My favorite guy was part of the tag champs (or not, depending on which event they were showing out of order) and the division was rock solid with all of the teams seeming to be pretty much dead even, while the main event scene had a superhero vanquishing all of the villains in the exact same way. It wasn't really until Bret became a solo act that I paid more attention to the singles scene than the tag one. It just didn't interest me as much because pretty much nothing was happening. First Hogan, then Savage (who looked unbeatable except against Hogan,) then Hogan again, and then the Ultimate Warrior were at the top of the heap: superheros all while the lowly workmen helped the tag division make the midcard the real thing to watch. I still think the greatest 2/3 falls match ever is the one with The Hart Foundation vs Demolition at SummerSlam 1990--and for the record, no, I don't count 3 Stages of Hell matches as 2/3 falls. So, yeah, all of this is just my way of explaining that I love tag team wrestling and always have, even when I realized that every tag team match played out to basically the same scenario. I think part of the beauty that makes the art of tag team wrestling so fun to watch is that the best at it are great at hiding that it's the same old story. But wrestlers like that don't exist anymore--at least not on the major league level.
For years, WWE has been all about having one tag team at the top, bringing a team in to challenge them, breaking up the former champions for some worthless reason, and then starting the whole cycle over again. I wonder how much of that has to do with the success of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who both went from outstanding tag teams to become Hall of Famers as solo stars. Nominally World Wrestling Entertainment has four tag teams right now. I think the champs work well together, especially since I'm convinced Kofi is never going to be a major singles star and R-Truth is past his prime, but no matter how good they are together we all know it's not going to last. They'll either drop the tag straps and have a rematch for them, which they'll lose, or they'll drop them and go their separate ways. It doesn't really matter, because the result will be the same: two more guys lost in the midcard shuffle of WWE. Then you have the Prime Time players who are green as hell, but also foolish enough in an arrogant way to make me pay attention to what they're doing. When they eventually get their reign, maybe they'll be able to make the public care about the tag titles again, though I think it would be easier if AW was still around to annoy the crap out of the humanoids. The Usos are just awful. I don't care who their dad is. They stink (probably literally) and they're uninteresting. Primo and Epico are capable of having epic matches, but against whom could they do so in WWE?
Sad to say that the situation is just as bad in TNA. (2 pts) Beer Money is no more. The Motor City Machineguns and Team 3 D have split up, as well. Morgan and whatever the hell his partner's name was were just annoying while they had the titles. Magnus and Joe were awesome, but they're split up and in the Bound For Glory series, probably never to rejoin. So what's left? I'm sure the Aces and Eights will form a tag team out of their gang. Once that's fleshed out there will be four teams: The Two Planets of Great, D'Von and Garrett Bischoff, Supermex and Chavo, and the motorcycle club duo. Ring of Honor has their belts on the Briscoes for the billionth time because they apparently ran out of ideas also. I think it was fourteen years ago that Eric Bischoff got rid of the WCW World Tag Team Championships, basically stating that tag team wrestling was boring, repetitive, and dead. Well, they were eventually brought back, and the resurgence brought about by Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and The Hardy Boyz showed that its demise had been exaggerated, but maybe it was just an idea that was ahead of its time. I still love tag team wrestling, but I loathe what the divisions have become, and I despise the people that aren't doing a damned thing about it. If the powers that be aren't going to fix the tag divisions, they should both be scrapped. You don't need a tag division to still have tag wrestling--hell, it's one of the staples of feud building to be in tag matches against your hated rival, so let that be where the tag division lives, along with having its summer home in my heart. I'd rather the titles be dead than alive without meaning.
5. I guess tonight we’ll see if we’re in for a Roode awakening.
In my third thought of the week, I praised Austin Aries because he, quite simply, is awesome and now that he’s brought a high level of prestige back to the X-division Title at around the same time that Bobby Roode made the TNA World Heavyweight Title more relevant than it ever had been, it’s safe to say that the future is brighter now for TNA than at any point since they arrived on Spike TV back in 2006. However, the weird, hot-shotted stipulation they put on the World Title rematch for Hardcore Justice not only hurts the fans who won’t be treated—it seems—to a rematch of a XXXX ½ bout, it puts the man whose reign made the strap mean something again in somewhat of a quandary. Since he was World Champion when the Bound For Glory Series started, he didn’t qualify to participate in it, so now that his long-time nemesis is at the top of the leaderboard without any real resolution to their rivalry and by contract he isn’t allowed another shot at the World Title that became almost like an extension of his body over the last ten months, what’s next? He’s gone from Bobby Roode—phenom of Team Canada, to Robert Roode, to one half of the second greatest tag team in TNA history, Beer Money, to the “It Factor” of professional wrestling. That’s a lot of stops to make in a few years, and he’s come a long way, but his journey is far from over.
The most obvious next step for the man for whom the World Title means everything is to try to weasel his way both out of the stipulation he agreed to after whining about its original inclusion in the contract (Which, by the way, was entertaining if only because there was a contract signing on a wrestling show that actually meant something for the match instead of just being a way to artificially create a tense atmosphere between the two competitors. and into another shot at Austin Aries World Title. After all, we’re talking about a man who gave up his friends and family to obtain and retain the Heavyweight Championship of the World, so it’s not like it’s against his character to be dishonest. I don’t, however, think it fits his character in the sense that although he bitched and whined about his loss being the fault of everybody but himself, he doesn’t really want another match against Aries. Bobby Roode is a prideful man and despite the World Title meaning so much to him, he just can’t take the chance that the man he still refers to as a fluke would beat him three straight times for the “most prestigious prize in all of professional wrestling,” which means he now has to gather himself, take up his wrestling boots, and walk to his next challenge.
The way I see it, he pretty much has three choices. The first is that he can man up and stand up to Sting’s call to arms. His World Title reign may be over, he may be out of rematches for now, and he may even have been broken by losing two straight World Title matches after winning so many for so long by simply being mentally tougher than his opponents, but he also has to get back on the horse and try to ride his way back into contention at some point. In an ironic twist, he has to cowboy up, rebuild his pride, and defend the company that he put on his back and helped find its footing over the last year from those who are trying to take it over. There will, of course, be communication errors and mistrust on both sides; and it will take a minor miracle of writing to have the fans remember that he may be an asshole, but he’s their asshole, and it’s not altruism that has Roode fighting for TNA against those evil masked men who have brutalized everyone from Hulk Hogan to DeAngelo Dinero. Actually, ideally in this scenario, a large portion of the audience would forget and then at the precise moment the company emerges triumphant, Roode would lay out whoever the World Champ is during the celebration announcing his intention to resume his title reign. That might actually be a lot of fun.
The second scenario involves Roode calling out the man who robbed him of his first opportunity at the World Championship at last year’s Bound For Glory. See, Roode’s singles ascension started when he won the inaugural Bound For Glory series by tying Bully Ray’s point total and then defeating him in a tiebreaker match at No Surrender in order to earn a title shot at TNA’s biggest event of the year. The referee did a worse job than the one in SummerSlam’s World Heavyweight Title match, though, missing both Kurt Angle’s feet on the ropes for leverage and Roode’s arm being under the bottom rope to break the 3-count and due to Angle’s machinations, there was no return clause for the challenger. In order to attempt some type of remedy, Sting ordered Angle to defend his title against Roode’s best friend and tag partner, James Storm. Storm won the title, a week later Roode won a title match, and a week after that Roode was World Champion, Beer Money was no more, Fortune was no more, and, since the man Angle had lost the title to was no longer the champion, he didn’t get his rematch. Now, taking all that into consideration, if Roode can be twisted enough to convince himself that he didn’t really lose to Aries, that everyone else stole victory from his grasp, imagine how good the storyline could be if Roode goes all the way back to the beginning and blames Angle for the loss of his friends, his tag team, and, eventually, his title because everything would have worked out differently if Angle had just not cheated him out of the World Title three different ways in the same match.
Personally, that’s the scenario with which I would go, but I’d be down with either of the previously mentioned alternatives. Total Nonstop Action is in a doubly precarious situation right now with Bobby Roode. They are trying to establish a pecking order with the youth on their roster that should already been well on the way, but was hindered by their former insistence on relying on past greats, while they now have to figure out what to do for the poster boy of that evolution following the greatest World Title reign in their company’s history. I’m not envious of the task in front of them, and in order to find a fresh angle to go with, maybe the best thing to do with Roode is for him to go back to his recent past for the next couple of months and finish things with James Storm at Bound For Glory. It’s the more obvious way to go, since for months James/Roode has been speculated as the main event of BFG. Former longtime tag partners turned bitter enemies who won the first two Bound For Glory series with the one trying to unseat the other who eventually turned his BFG series success into a superb championship reign. They can still do the match and resolve the feud; it would simply mean Roode costing his former best friend the series just like he stole the World Title from him. Once the feud is finally over with closure for both men, all avenues are once again open and the Angle/Roode feud is still sitting there to be had. Any of these scenarios would work. If they come up with something lesser or a cop out second World Title rematch, I’ll be disappointed, but at least I’ll get to see Roode/Aries again.
6. I suck at comedy.
@It'sadamnSheamus: Once again The Great White defeats Bertie and he and Ernie need to go back to Sesame Street.
@TheRiverofTerrible: Great White? No shark is safe in these waters. I'll get you for your cheating ways.
@It'sadamnSheamus: My cheating? All I did was use a shoe that your little buddy tossed to me. I saved your life.
@TheRiverofTerrible: What are you talking about? Your typing is almost as hard to comprehend as your brogue.
@It'sadamnSheamus: I'm talking about your little frog in a tuxedo having a severe foot odor problem. I still don't know how I survived.
@TheRiverofTerrible: You are going to lose that World Championship the next time we meet. I still haven't forgotten what you did to my Ferrari!
@It'sadamnSheamus: After what your little buddy talked you into doing to me with the hood of your other car, you can just consider that car-Mick retribution.
@TheRiverofTerrible: Ah ha ha. How funny. A double pun. Perhaps I should hire @ViperaApexa to give you a double *punt*.
@It'sadamnSheamus: I'm The Great White. Orton's the Apex Predator and The Viper. Ricardo is a frog. What are you? A weasel? Slimy bacteria crawling out of ooze?
@TheRiverofTerrible: I'm a lobo on the hunt for your title and your soul, punta. I'll not be denied my destiny of greatness by your cheating tricks.
@It'sadamnSheamus: I knocked you out at SummerSlam, I made Ernie and every attempt you had to try and win the World Title inept, and I survived every brutal assault you've been able to come up with. Face it. I'm great and you're just a little eel swimming in my pool. Ha! I hit on your species.
@TheRiverofTerrible: You're the slippery and slimy one, you Ginger son of a bitch and I will destroy your body and your soul when I take that title from around your waist that hasn't seen the sunlight since it saw your mom's lack of sunlight.
@It'sadamnSheamus: You couldn't take candy from me when I was a wee lad, much less take my title away. You had your fun with your little beatings, so now I'm going to have my fun making sure you don't win any matches for a while. Your destiny is to be swallowed whole and spit back out into the deepest part of my ocean.
@TheRiverofTerrible: You stupid Ginger. You both swallow and spit? That's as apathetic as you are pathetic. At Night of Champions I will be leaving with the World Title gold around my waist and that red scalp of yours as my hood ornament! Nobody screws Alberto del Rio!
@It'sadamnSheamus: I guess we'll see tonight whether Booker T agrees to you getting another title shot. Whether he does or not, I'm going to keep messing with you since you decided to make it personal. I guess I'll see you tonight you arrogant punk!
@CMPunkBITW: Hey, Sheamus. WWE Champion here. How about a little respect Champ to Champ!
@CMPunkBITW: I'm the WWE Champion and the best in the world, even at tweeting! Show me some respect!
@CMPunkBITW: Respect Me!!!!!!!!!!!
@CMPunkBITW: Time to go find @TheKingofNothingbutDenial.
7. It's WWE S-app-turday.
So I got that nifty free WWE app and one of the things posted on there this week was 7 opponents Sheamus would like to face along with WWE.com's analysis of the potential match. Well, let's see what I think.
I. The Big Show--This will almost certainly happen in some capacity after the draft next year. Possibly even earlier. I wouldn't mind seeing the two of them have a chairs match against each other. Whenever it happens, I wouldn't want to see the two have a protracted feud. A one-off title defense for Sheamus in about ten to twelve minutes would probably be enough. It would be one of those matches that Big Show dominates but loses to a fatal strike at the wrong moment. I think maybe Show will miss the WMD and Sheamus will push him far enough away to hit the Brogue Kick. It would be amazing for TBS to be felled by the Celtic Toss.
II. Brock Lesnar--With Lesnar's current style this would likely be a trainwreck, but if he can go back to the wrestler he was back in 2002-2004, I think this could be an excellent series of matches. Sheamus is good and getting better even while champion, but he's not ready yet to fight an MMA style match. A flat-out brawl between the two would be fun to see also, but I'm hard-pressed to give the current incarnation of Sheamus much of a chance to win this battle. If he were to return to the dude who put Mark Cuban through a table, however, then we could be in for a real animal vs animal treat of a war.
III. CM Punk--This one practically writes itself. Punk usually has a smile on his face, but it isn't always one of happiness. Smirks, sardonic glances, etc. He's got a chip on his shoulder the size of I. and is always looking to prove he's the best in the world and deserves to be respected for it. Sheamus, meanwhile, is a happy-go-lucky, take-life-as-it-comes sort who seems to not care much about anything until you get him riled up. I think their styles would mess well and produce some real classics.
IV. Kane--This would be nothing short of a knock-down drag-out brawl. These guys have very similar styles in that they're both big men who can wrestle and fly with a lot more agility than they'd seem to have just looking at them. Kane is bigger and wiser, while Sheamus is faster and younger. The Great White vs. The Big Red Machine. Seems like a toss-up to me and I don't think you could do much better if you're booking hoss vs. hoss.
V. Wade Barrett--Again, two guys with similar styles. They're also of the same generattion and both from the UK. If Barrett gets as good as WWE seems to think he will--I'm still not completely sold on him--this could be a years long rivalry a la The Rock and Stone Cold or Cena and Edge. I still prefer the Kane/Sheamus match-up myself, but then I've always been a fan of Taker's little brother.
VI. Randy Orton--This will almost certainly happen in October, so it's not exactly a "dream match," but it's on the list, so what the hell. I'm starting to think when you've seen one Orton match, you've seen them all, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Ziggler can do with him at NoC (assuming that was the point of last night's RKO.) (Hey, as an aside, did anyone catch that Caitlyn said "last night" when talking about the divas battle royal?) That said, they'd probably put together an all right match with the focus being on which of WWE's golden boys would come out on top. To be sure, Sheamus' reign is getting old and stale, but Orton's one Wellness violation away from sayonaraville. Tough call.
VII. The Undertaker--Pretty ridiculous, really. Taker wrestles one match a year now and Sheamus specifically says the only thing he has left to do is end The Streak. Never gonna happen. Still, assuming The Undertaker is able to put on the kind of performace once a year that he did against Triple H, this would probably be the second best match out of these seven. Punk's still the gold standard and I'd love to see that as the main event of SummerSlam 2013.
Last edited by XanMan; 08-25-2012 at 06:48 PM.
Reason: Added Thought 7
I once wrote 2 columns about how I hate opinions, in this modern day world they are soon to be replaced by one person making a statement and people from around the globe will agree with a single grunt icon available with a brain-mouse invented by the Irish one from One Direction. I like your opinions though, so now I hate myself, and I long for a grunt button...
I once saw the Killers live but was too drunk to remember any of it (100% fact), like NONE of it, but I woke up in a tent with sore calves and sick on my jeans. Must be pretty good.
"We are, in some ways, a cancer cluster."
I still disagree with your Cody proposal, despite how well it was pitched in this (very) well-written piece. It would create a dramatic storyline going forward, and add a layer of unpredictability to WWE programming...
I just think that:
A) Rhodes is not over enough to carry the belt. Smackdown! post-production sweetener noise be damned - judging from the reaction he gets when he appears on RAW, he has still not connected with fans on any meaningful level. I don't think he'd be accepted as champion.
B) He hadn't been booked strongly enough going in to SS. I thought your counter to this argument was really well-made, but I still can't let myself agree. The curious cases of Jack Swagger and Daniel Bryan support each of our arguments, so perhaps it would be best to agree to disagree here.
Thought # 2 has been posted. In the meantime:
CB--That's because my opinions rule. I've never understood why people go to concerts and then get so drunk that they can't remember a damn thing.
A) I don't understand what you mean by "accepted." He's a heel. If someone is a tyrant, he doesn't rule because the public accepts it. If you mean accepted by the rest of the guys, that I could probably agree with, but the fans? Get outta here.
B) I actually wanted to include Swagger in my column, but I ran out of space with the constraints I place on myself. I've met Jake Hagar once and I really like him. He's a smart, down-to-earth guy from my neck of the woods (more or less) and I think we'd be really good friends if he weren't traveling all over the place. But the guy has no real charisma and that's why he doesn't work well in the pros and the major reason for his failure as World Champion.
Still, we can agree to disagree if you really want.
I saw Thompson Square live at a local Rib Festival and was impressed. I'm not a big country fan but they put on a good show live. I hope you enjoy it, I also would like to see The Killers live. They are a great band.
Woo, Woo, Woo.
Awwww so THAT'S what you're talking about. Well, to each his own. I was rooting for Antonio to win the U.S. title - I just didn't think it would happen so soon.
Considering this is THE column that inspired me to start writing dailies, you don't understand how psyched I am to see it return. I feel like a little 20-year-old all over again.
See The Killers any way you can. After Coldplay, they're the best band I've ever seen live.
jstar--It's awesome to find so many fans of The Killers here in the CF. Badass.
S-cubed--Yep, that's what I was talking about. Consider yourself disproven. I know I inspired you. I'm proud of what you've done since, my man. I like The Killers so much that I think I'll explode if I miss yet another tour of theirs.
Okay, folks, Thought # 3 is up. Both 4 and 5 may go up at the same time tomorrow. You have been warned.
He Hate Me
I liked the column, I think opinion columns can be a good thing. Hell, this website was basically powered off one guys opinion on the main page for years, mainly because he did it Daily and Phat. So there is value to it.
I kind of share your opinion on Cena and Lawler, but not really. I think had Lawler said, you are the champion, you are the best, then everyone would understand. But that doesn't fit Lawler's character and it doesn't fit this story line. This is all about making Punk heel, and I will cover this in something I'm putting together. But Lawler represents the common man's opinion. In real life he doesn't watch anything WWE outside of Raw, he only comes to events and only knows what he sees and he goes off the crowds reactions and he hates people whining. I hate that a legitimate legend is used like this, but I digress. It was all perfect, and as a long time fan, when I saw Punk call Lawler back in the ring I knew right away Lawler was going to get hurt. Hell I thought Punk was going to hurt Lawler and that would bring out Cena. It's the perfect way to get the common fans to boo Punk.
As for Ryback/Goldberg. I dare say I enjoy Ryback more than Goldberg. I think Ryback's slow build will lead to better places. Goldberg's fast rise really hurt him in the long run. Goldberg had every single tool to be a true force in wrestling. Even with limited resources that was WCW in 1997-2001, Goldberg was still the greatest force that company had. The Hogan victory should have been a true passing of the torch, hell I would have built Goldberg as an nWo Hollywood killing machine leading to Starrcade. But that's the past. The present is Ryback, and comparing him to Goldberg. While I don't think he'll ever reach Goldberg levels, I think he'll have a better career. Kobe Bryant has had a better career than Michael Jordan, even though Jordan won more title's and scored more points. Why, because Kobe has lost, Kobe lost against the Pistons and the Celtics. It made Kobe seem mortal, and therefore his victories were just that much sweeter. Jordan was untouchable and when he won it was almost boring. That's how I feel about Goldberg/Ryback. Goldberg may have been better, but Ryback will have the better career if he plays his cards right.