Truth or Consequences: A Flair for the Gold

Welcome, one and all, to the latest edition of Truth or Consequences, the column that everyone’s calling “Eh? Nope, I’ve never heard of it, sorry.”

I quick flick through this week’s mailbox for starters…

InsidePulse columnist, Andy Campbell said…

“Kevin,

Fellow Pulser Andy Campbell here. Another nice column this week. I was gonna write to you last week regarding the women’s column, but I just gave you a quick plug in my column instead. I wanted to ask you about LuFisto and Chamera. I’ve heard both are great wrestlers, and I wanted to see what you know about them.

Also, about this week’s column: I don’t think Puder was released because they didn’t know what to do with him, or because Vince hates wrestlers. I’m almost positive that it was because of that million dollar contract. Only the first year (for $250K) was guaranteed, and I don’t think the WWE wanted to pay that much anymore for a rookie. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hired him back with a much smaller contract, because he’s become quite popular in OVW, even earning himself a title shot this week.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Andy”

Thanks for your comments, Andy. With regards to LuFisto – foremerly known as Precious Lucy, trivia fans – she is an ultra hardcore diva, who, like Mickie Knuckles, is just as happy scrapping with the lads as she is with the ladies. She’s a good high-flier and not afraid to blade for her art, even if it is with the help of a few dozen fluorescent light tubes. Chamera, on the other hand, I know little about, other than the fact that she’s dirt cheap when I play Extreme Warfare Revenge 4.2. However, a quick search on Google throws up that she’s wrestled for NWA: Ireland and NWA: Hammerlock, here in the UK and that she’s quite the hottie. However, I can’t really tell you any more than that until I see some tapes – anybody want to trade?

As far as your comments about Puder are concerned, I have no doubt that you’re right – which, of course, begs the question: why was the eventual winner of Tough Enough 4 offered a million dollar contract in any case? I do understand that WWE is having to make drastic cuts due to a substantial loss of revenue through the various TV show moves and if cutting Puder constitutes a $750,000 saving then it really is the only logical step but the fact remains that WWE (and the WWF before them) have never had a problem throwing that kind of money away before. If Puder is a rookie, then why not make that a good thing and call him a plucky young kid or a rookie sensation – make his youth something to be admired, rather than some kind of detriment to him. After all, when they were busy pushing Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton to the moon over the last couple of years, the respective announce teams couldn’t wait to put over how young both guys were. In their eyes, young didn’t mean inexperienced, but merely that they had years of potential ahead of them. If Creative had wanted to, they could have pushed Puder as a wrestling machine, who is treated as an underdog because nobody thinks he has a cat in Hell’s chance of beating a ‘real’ wrestler (imagine the love-child of Chris Benoit and Spike Dudley, if that’s not likely to make your brain hurt) and catapulted him into the main event, thus making him worth the million bucks.

Graham Wise admits that he’s just not in my league…

“OK, you bitched me. I’m man enough to admit it! Nice theories about Puder, by the way. Stay away from me and my family? That’s jolly nice of you, old bean. Much appreciated, Kev!

Poor old Puder. His total contribution to the company was to have the living snot chopped out of him at the Rumble, then to be fired TWICE whilst finally getting the chance to show what he could do. It sucks to be him. Here’s another theory for his future. Danny Davis signs him to an Indy contract with OVW (not everyone is under WWE contract there, right?). The guy’s making something out of his passion for the job, so why not let him keep that chance? Okay, so Vince doesn’t want him under contract any more, but I’m sure Davis and Heyman could carry on using him. Other than that, I think he’ll head to TNA or ROH and pretty much carry on with the shooter gimmick.

Later

Graham”

You’re damn right I bitched you, Graham – who’s your Daddy?

Ahem – anyway, as far as Puder remaining in OVW is concerned, I must admit that I’m not completely sure what the situation is regarding OVW. I do know that Jim Cornette often reiterated that Ohio Valley Wrestling was an independent promotion that just happened to train up future WWE superstars, but the only guys you ever seem to hear about from OVW are those on a WWE developmental contract. Assuming that you’re right and OVW truly is an Indy federation, then keeping Puder on would seem to be a sensible thing. I do think, however, that if a larger wrestling company, whether in the States or Japan, wanted to sign him, that they could easily beat OVW’s checkbook.

Manfredi Giammanco speaks out on WWE writers…

“Passionate, passionate article. Loved it. A vicious, scathing indictment of the WWE writers.

Those embarrassments to the writing profession who aren’t good enough to write for a UPN sitcom pilot or a Lifetime TV film have no right to be involved in our sport. They have no right to degrade, denigrate and degenerate those wrestlers who work so hard to entertain us.

All the best for Puder. He’s got a million-dollar gimmick waiting for him in another company, a good build, youth, actual wrestling ability and athleticism.

He’ll do great.

Thanks for the article

Manfredi

No problem – glad you enjoyed it. You’re correct in what you say – Puder’s gimmick really is great and he would be a worthy addition to any roster. Wrestling promoters have always had a thing for legitimate tough guys, be it William Regal, Perry Saturn…even Haku when it comes down to it and there are promotions out that that will allow smaller guys like Puder to be booked as tough men. I’d love to see him work against guys like Low-Ki or Samoa Joe as I think we could see some seriously good action going on.

Rusty Nailz chooses to sit on the fence rather than voice a heartfelt opinion…

Great column man…I’m gonna keep this short and sweet…You were completely right about Puder’s potential future in the ‘E’ that was ruined…These “creative” guys, Vince included, are f*ckin’ DUMBASSES! Fuck them!”

Can’t add anything to that…gotta love that kind of fire.

Ryan Holliday proves that Puder’s a great guy outside of the ring, too…

“I’ve met Puder once at an OVW show and he was a hell of a nice guy. He actually struck up a conversation with me and my friends because he was bored and had nothing to do. I have to cheer for a guy like that.

I’d love to see him try out for the 3rd season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. It would be a dig at the WWE and he could parlay whatever success he had there into a spot in TNA, who have used MMA guys like Shamrock and Tito Ortiz.”

I like hearing stories like this. Too often you here about celebrities acting like complete and utter tools when they meet the fans, so it’s always nice to know that some of them are just people (anybody who wants to bitch about Puder not, technically, being a celebrity would do well to remember that this took place at an OVW show, where Puder is the Man.).

It’s another interesting way to use Puder as well. He’s made it through Tough Enough and if he could make it through The Ultimate Fighter as well, then that would prove to the world just how much potential the man has.

And finally, InsidePulse’s own Vin Tastic wants me out of his head…

“Kev-Berg,

Vin Tastic (“Alternate Reality” author) here. Dude, I couldn’t POSSIBLY agree more with everything you wrote here! It’s like you were typing this column from inside my head!

Great stuff! Puder was a storyline waiting to happen, as you so deftly described. I can’t imagine how the sitcom writers failed to see his value. He was even in the middle of some good stuff in OVW when he was released! Very well designed and well written column.

I had the same thought about Trish as you mentioned, the moment she came out on Raw. “Why is she a face now? She wrestled the last Diva Champ at WM21, because she resented her fast-break into the big time! Why does she protect this one?”

Great job, Kev.

Vinny”

And that’s half the problem with the Creative Team in WWE at the moment. They seem to think that wrestling fans have an attention span roughly comparable to the common goldfish and remember far back enough to worry about little things like continuity in storylines or consistency in characters (ironically, they do want us to remember events from decades ago, because that helps to shift Hall of Fame DVDs). Trish was the best heel on Raw for a time (note, I did not say the best heel Diva, just the best heel…period) and her whole beef with Christy Hemme was that she didn’t think that some girl who was just a pretty face should be awarded a $250,000 contract.

Granted, this whole scenario was probably contrived in order to give Victoria something else to do as she and Trish are the only Divas on the roster who could be referred to as wrestlers in the traditional sense but still, it makes no sense. Have Trish as a face, by all means – let’s face it, she was going to get a pretty hefty pop when she returned, at any rate, because she’s just that goddamn awesome – but at least credit us with a promo to explain the sudden change of heart.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that – not being part of the booking team – but let me just give a sample of what I would have do, had I been booking this turn.

Picture the scene: it’s the September 12th edition of Raw and Ashley brings out Trish Stratus as her surprise for the terrible heel trio of Candice, Torrie and Victoria. Trish cleans house, the three heels scurry off to the back, leaving Trish and Ashley in the ring, celebrating. There are cheers for the return of the greatest Diva in recent memory and then, she calmly picks up the microphone.

“Thank you. Thank you so much. You know, I wasn’t sure what kind of a reaction I was going to get when I came out here tonight. I haven’t been in front of a Raw crowd for over four months and I know that, just before I left, I was acting like a spoiled little bitch. I can’t defend anything I did, I was just being a horrible, horrible person and, in the end, it turned round and bit me in the ass. [To backstage] Can you roll the clip please?”

[We see a clip of Trish berating Viscera and receiving a Big Splash for her troubles]

“Yeah. Big Vis really did a number on me – he messed my back up real good. But you know, that’s okay. I don’t hold anything against you, Viscera – in fact, I want to thank you. That’s right, I want to thank you. You see, whilst I was at home, rehabbing from my injury, I had a lot of time on my hands to think things through. My back was really hurting and I honestly began to wonder whether I should com back to the WWE at all. [Boos from the crowd] I tried to remember why I became a wrestler in the first place. So I got up out of my bed, I dug out some old wrestling tapes and I sat down and watched them. I watched them all day and into the night. I watched Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Tito Santana, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret “The Hitman” Hart and it was like a revelation. All of these guys were and are legends…icons and that’s what I wanted to be. They’re either already in the WWE Hall of Fame or they’re destined to end up there one day. That’s what I wanted to be.

So I asked myself, what do I want my legacy in this business to be? When I’m inducted into the Hall of Fame, how do I want the fans to remember me? As some spoiled little bitch who treated everyone like dirt when she couldn’t get her own way? Or as the best damn Diva in the history of the WWE? [huge cheer from the crowd] I think it’s pretty obvious.

Which brings me to our latest Diva, Ashley. You know, we’re an awful lot alike, you and I. When I started out in this business five years ago, nobody – not one person – thought I would ever make it. I was just another pretty face, another piece of eye to grace the ring while everyone else does the “real” wrestling. You’ve had people say that to you, right? [Ashley nods] Well let me tell you something – arguing with people like that gets you nowhere. If you want them to know that you’re a real Diva, that you deserve your spot under these bright lights then you’ve got to prove it to them; you’ve got to prove it over and over again. But most important of all, Ashley, you’ve got to prove it to yourself.

I believe in you – I know that wrestling in your heart and in your soul, just like it’s in mine and if Divas like Torrie Wilson, Candice and Victoria can’t accept that then you’ve got to make them accept it. You’ve got to got out there and make the whole world stand up and take notice, the only way you can – not through Lingerie Pillow Fights or Bikini Contests or Bra and Panties Matches, but by knocking them down in the middle of the ring and pinning them 1, 2, 3. [Throws down the mic]

There you go – in a seven minute promo, Trish explains her return, her face turn, her support for Ashely and her disdain for the heel Divas, without breaking kayfabe once. At the same time, she gives Ashley the rub and make women’s wrestling look important once again.

Come on Vinnie Mac – gimme a job…you know you want to.

Now, before I start with the main body of this week’s column, it’s time to BREAK OUT THE PLUGS!

More worthwhile reading on InsidePulse from the last seven days…

Gordi Whitelaw looks at the Best of the 2004 G-1.

David Ditch checks out the first of the Best of All Japan: Volume One, a tape that, coincidentally, I have just flogged on eBay.

Jeremy Lambert rambles on about a great many things, including his thoughts on the latest TNA Pay-Per-View.

Ross Williams and Iain Burnside continue their trawl through this year’s Top 50 Wrestlers, proving that they are the greatest tag-team in IWC history.

As singles competitors, they’re just as good – as Burnside’s Anti Pulse and Williams’ Ross Report readily attest.

Dan Hevia covers for Eric Szulczewski, discusses Raw and provides the most disturbing Sean Waltman photo since somebody e-mailed me the screen captures from ‘1 Night in China’.

Vinny Truncellito discusses the ingredients that make for great announcing, but completely fails to include the ultimate commentary team of Nick Diamond and Johnny Gomez – go figure.

Bambi Weavil dissects both the latest WWE PPV and the post-Unforgiven edition of Raw.

David Brashear takes a second look at Mark Henry’s career.

Kevin Wilson reviews some lucha libre action, which is great for me, because it’s an area of wrestling about which I know virtually nothing.

Phil Clark discusses the possible career returns of Foley and Austin.

Whew…I’m all plugged out and I’ve still got a column to write.


I watched the replay of Unforgiven on Monday night, here in the UK and, what’s even better, I got to watch it for free on Sky Sports – woo-hoo!

It was a good show, but I’m not going to recap it here – if you want a Brit’s eye view of the event, check out Michael Fitzgerald’s recap…it’s a good ‘un.

No, I’m just going to discuss the opener, where Ric Flair raised the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Title over his head for the first time in his long and illustrious career. The match he had with Carlito on Sunday night was a good, entertaining match and their rematch the following night on Raw was even better. I can truly say that I haven’t seen the Nature Boy look this focussed and in such good match condition for ages. It was a sight for sore eyes as Flair’s decline from wrestling God to Triple H’s baggage handler has caused your humble reporter more than a few unsettling thoughts. Had it really come to this for the greatest and most prolific wrestler of all time, reduced to servicing the Tripper’s anal cavity, where and whenever he might demand it?

But then, Triple H took a sabbatical from wrestling for a spell and, for what it’s worth, I think it was a good decision all around. Whatever your views on the WWE’s franchise player, he had certainly been overexposed on Raw for a good while and it would seem that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, as I can’t wait for his return in October. Either way, Flair was left with seemingly nothing to do. All of his former Evolution cohorts were missing, so there was no obvious feud to throw him into, until Carlito came along and dissed Flair during an segment of Carlito’s Cabana, in the heart of Flair Country, no less, and suddenly it was on!

The Flair-Carlito feud has been entertaining and, whilst Flair may no longer be able to reach the sort of heights he did during his late-eighties, early-nineties heyday, he can still deliver the goods in terms of entertaining the crowds and building up to the match. As I said, the end result was a decent, if not spectacular, PPV offering followed by an even better rematch on Raw and this got to thinking, should Ric Flair add another World title reign to the sixteen he already has under his belt?

Note to Smarks: I’m aware that Flair has actually had closer to twenty world titles but, for some reason, 16 seems to be the official score.

There are two things that need to be considered when answering such a question – does he deserve to hold the WWE Heavyweight Title and would he make a credible champion.

The first part is easy – Flair is a legend and, unlike Hogan, can still take his bumps like a man. He is a master of psychology, an icon and, even with the loss of profile that has come thanks to standing in Triple H’s shadow for a couple of years, Flair’s legacy is more than enough to warrant booking him as a world champion one last time.

The second question is more complex. Would we, as wrestling fans, believe that a 57 year old man would be a legitimate world heavyweight champion? I mean, that’s the same age as my Dad and I couldn’t imagine him dropping Cena any time soon.

Of course, in wrestling, age isn’t really an issue, as long as the guy you’re working against is good enough to disguise any limitations that the years might have wrought upon you. Let’s not forget, either, that Naitch is in far better condition as a professional wrestler than other guys from his generation – guys like Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Carlos Colon, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine – and is capable of more than just flat out brawling. He sells like an absolute champion, as he has always done, so you can actually job to Flair and still come away looking like the best wrestler on the planet. The crowds love him, too and they respect him for all that he has done for the industry as a whole. And yet, there is that nagging doubt that Old Man Flair would be a joke as the champ, because we’ve all seen him lose too many times, we all know that he’s blessed in years and nobody believes that he could beat a muscle-bound superman like John Cena.

Hmm. Funny thing is, when Flair was in his mid-forties, nobody believed that he could beat Vader for the title and yet he managed it; same thing when he defeated Kevin Nash for the WCW title. In this game it’s all about the build up and the impression that a wrestler gives. If the writers chose to, they could put Val Venis over Cena and, provided both guys were prepared to put on a decent show, it would be believable.

However – whilst I think Flair does deserve one final title reign, I don’t think Cena should be the one to drop the belt. Here’s how I think things should play out…

Cena and Angle have a rematch at Taboo Tuesday, as do Flair and Carlito – both champions retain cleanly. Following that, Angle should beat Cena for the title at Survivor Series, whilst Team Flair goes against Team Carlito at Survivor Series, with the Intercontinental Belt on the line for the winning team’s captain. As for the teams, well – I see Flair, Michaels, Big Show and Eugene going against Carlito, Snitsky, Masters and…Triple H. Michaels and Flair are the sole survivors, after Michaels pins Trips.

Still with me? Either at Armageddon or New Year’s Revolution (whichever one is a Raw PPV this year), Trips challenges Flair for the I-C title, and HBK barges his way into the match, citing the fact that he won the Survivor Series match as his reason for winning the belt. Trips wins the match. In other news, Angle successfully defends his title against Cena in the rematch.

Onto the Rumble, then where Triple H, as Intercontinental Champion, is the rightful Number One contender to the WWE Title (harking back to the good old days of wrestling) and beats Angle for the belt. Flair, meanwhile enters the Rumble and wins it for the second time in his career – WHOOOOOOO!

In the build-up to WrestleMania, Flair cuts some promos on Triple H about how he’s sick of standing in his shadow and that he’s gunning for the WWE Title. Trips, meanwhile, loses his Intercontinental title to Carlito, thus legitimising him by having him beat the most dominant World Heavyweight Champion in recent memory, albeit for the secondary belt. At ‘Mania, Flair faces off against Triple H in the main event, pinning him clean on the grandest stage of them all.

In this scenario, both Cena and Angle keep their heat, by not losing to a man in his fifties; Carlito regains his Intercontinental Title from Triple H, which makes it even more important than last time (with all due respect to Shelton Benjamin); Flair gets another title run, however brief it might be, and millions of Triple Haters and Flair fans alike get to cheer like crazy on WrestleMania night.

That’s what I’d like to see anyway but, knowing the WWE, I fully expect to see Flair losing his strap to Candice in the main event of Taboo Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s enough for one week. More commentary and less phantom booking next week, I promise you.

E-mail me at the link below with your thought’s on Flair.

Until the next time, farewell…