Hello all. I’m a week late for my fortnightly column, but I wanted to comment on Ross & Iain’s Top 50. So blame them! Anyway, this column is going to be a bit of a hodge-podge. I’ll start with a little Ring of Honor, then probably comment on some of the other columns here on InsidePulse. Let’s see what I come up with…
Ring of Honor
I’ll start with a question I posed last column: do you think that WWE has a working relationship with ROH, in the same vein as the one they had with ECW? Would that explain the WWE-bound guys winning the World Title? Or Al Snow mentioning Nigel McGuinness winning the Pure Title during a match in OVW? Or Matt Hardy shouting out support for ROH on WWE tv (albeit in a marble-mouthed fashion)?
I got some responses, so I’ll post a couple here. First, Ryan Holliday says:
I absolutely think that ROH and WWE has some kind of relationship. I first noticed this when WWE was using a lot of ROH guys on Velocity, Heat, and for the Masterlock Challenge. With the examples you mentioned and add the fact that WWE guys like Tommy Dreamer and Stevie Richards have shown up and the evidence is overwhelming.
Shawn Brady has this to say:
As for a working relationship with the WWE I think its more of a feeling out process. Vince is sizing up ROH to see what they have that he might want and in doing so gives them a plug here and there. Plus they have a big northeast presence which he has wanted.
At this point, we obviously have no idea what the situation is. I’m sure Vince doesn’t consider ROH to be competition (I know I sure don’t), not only because of their size, but because they are a completely different product. WWE is all about the sizzle, ROH is all about the steak. There’s nothing wrong with either, they’re just different approaches. So, is Vince behind ROH in some way? I guess only time will tell.
The other big news is that "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson, perhaps my favourite wrestler today, defeated James Gibson for the ROH Championship. And, though Iain Burnside may drunkenly mock me, I think this is great. Danielson is one of the best, if not THE best, in the world, and this title has been a long time coming. I don’t know what more to say other than "congratulations."
Ross and Iain’s Top 50
Ross and Iain wrapped up their annual Top 50 U.S.-Based Wrestlers this week with the Top 10. I think that, once again, they are pretty much spot-on. Gordi laments the omission of Bryan Danielson, but I think he missed the "U.S.-Based" part of the Top 50, as Danielson spent the bulk of the year overseas. Anyway, AJ Styles took the top spot, becoming the first independent wrestler to do so, and he rightfully takes his place among some real legends. I have never seen a bad Styles match, and am not convinced that such a thing could even exist. In fact, I’d like to see him take on someone like Mark Henry. That way, I could see the impossible: a good Mark Henry match.
So, kudos to Ross and Iain on another job well done.
Around the Pulse
Now, I’ll take a look at what some of my co-workers have written recently, and give you my thoughts.
We’ll start with some TNA stuff. Lambert says:
So at a house show sometime last week, TNA put the World Title on Jarrett as he defeated Raven. Smart move? Yes. Besides Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett is probably the most known person in TNA to the casual fan. People know Jeff Jarrett. They know he was J E Double F J A Double R E Double T, Jeff Jarrett. They may remember the long blonde locks flowing as he country battled Jesse James. They may remember him jobbing to Chyna in a house-keeping match. They may remember him winning the first and only triple deck cage match. And they may remember him saying "Slapnuts" while hitting people with his guitar. A casual wrestling fan that followed the Big 3 in the 90’s will remember this. What memories do they have of somebody like Abyss or AJ Styles? TNA made this move to appeal to the casual wrestling fan and you can’t fault them for wanting to do so.
A casual wrestling fan that followed the Big 3 in the 90s will also remember Raven. I don’t think putting the title on the most well-known person on the roster is the best move anyway. Say someone knows who Jarrett is, but doesn’t know who Raven is. They tune in to TNA and see Jarrett, and then see Raven with the title. They’re going to think to themselves, "I don’t know that guy, but he must be good if he’s the champ." Seriously. It’s hard for us smarks to think like that, since we know all these guys, but that’s how casual fans think. I remember when I first watched IWA: Puerto Rico. Aside from Savio Vega and Vampiro, I didn’t know any of the guys that wrestled for them. However, when a guy named Shane came out with the title, I instinctively payed more attention to him and held him in higher regard than the other previously-unknown wrestlers I had seen.
Also, Lambert, I believe you’re thinking of Ultimo Dragon, not Liger, as the guy with 10 titles at once.
Phil Clark is also talking TNA:
The reality is…this is judgment day for TNA. Up until the Spike deal was signed, they were basically a really big Indy promotion with a T.V. deal. Now, they are in the big leagues as a possibly lucrative cable T.V. deal has landed in their lap. This officially makes TNA competition to the E, something there hasn’t been for nearly five years.
While TNA has anything but a lucrative time slot (10PM CT on Saturdays and re-runs the following Monday at 11PM CT), there is still wonder as to how far Spike is going to with the little company that could.
Now, as I’ve said in the past, I really wish TNA well, but I don’t consider them competition to WWE, whether they have a tv deal or not. As you said, the time slot is not the best (actually, it’s terrible). Until TNA has a prime time show, I will not consider them competition, because you have to be seen to compete. And let’s not forget that ECW also had a tv deal, on the same network no less (though they are going in a different direction now). ECW was much more popular than TNA is now, and they STILL failed. If TNA can present a truly unique product, then perhaps they can compete. That brings me to something else Clark said:
Another reason that I believe TNA’s popularity will continue to increase is because of how opposite it is from the E. They’ve almost taken on a ROH mentality ("Sports Entertainment is Dead") as the only soap opera type angle the company has done in the last year was Abyss being manipulated by Goldilocks into beating up disciples of Erik Watts.
I disagree. ROH is MUCH more "no-nonsense" than TNA has ever been. And TNA is hardly "opposite" from WWE. TNA may have less backstage segments, but they still have storylines, nonsensical heel turns, and absurd amounts of run-ins. Unless they stop doing the last two, I can’t see them realistically providing enough of an alternative to compete with WWE. Really, the run-ins turn me off to TNA more than anything else, I think. They have more run-ins than the WWE, and that’s sad for a company that’s supposed to be centered on their wrestling.
Vinny is also talking TNA:
TNA iMPACT! debuts October 1st on Spike TV, hopefully ushering in the next era of competition and great programming. Vince McMahon is slowly losing his stranglehold on domestic major league wrestling, and that can only be a good thing for us fans. TNA consistently offers exciting in-ring action, sensible storylines, and reasonable character development and motivation.
Now, to be honest, I almost always disagree with what Vinny says in his columns. That doesn’t make him wrong and me right, we just see things differently. For instance, as I pointed out above, TNA certainly does NOT consistently offer sensible storylines or reasonable character development/motivation. To give a couple examples, AMW’s recent heel turn was kinda sketchy, and Monty Brown’s was one of the most nonsensical turns I’ve ever seen. Another big issue with TNA is their in-ring action. When talking about TNA, most people say that their in-ring action is way better than that of the WWE. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. People will see one or two X-division matches on a show, and based on that, say that the in-ring action is better. However, for every awesome X-division match, there is a Sonny Siaki or Apolo stinker. Vinny continues:
Vince may already be feeling the pressure of TNA’s debut, because the September 19th Raw featured a liveliness and fun that I don’t remember seeing in a while…Plus, the hype for the USA Network "Homecoming" show on October 3rd was through the roof. I was at WrestleMania 21 in L.A., and I’m not sure the hype
for THAT show matches up to the hard-sell they’re doing for the first USA Network edition of Monday Night Raw in years.
I think the hype for the move to USA was less due to TNA’s debut and more due to making sure the fans know that they are moving to a new channel. If you want John Q. Redneck to continue to follow your show, you have to repeat over and over that the show is moving. I’ll also reiterate another major point: TNA is debuting in an 11:00 pm Saturday slot. That’s TERRIBLE. No matter how much hype they get, that time still sucks, and less people are bound to watch it. I know I probably won’t.
Bufton talks about the Ultimate Warrior:
You see, whilst I don’t believe much of what Warrior says, and that which I do believe I couldn’t give two f*cks about (call me old-fashioned, but it’s what happens on-screen that determines a good worker in my eyes) I have a Hell of a lot of respect for him for one reason only.
He didn’t sell-out.
Amen, brother. Now, I have no problem with people "selling out," especially in wrestling. You have to feed your family, ya know? But when someone DOES stand up for what they think, I have to give them props. When Spanky quit the WWE, I applauded him (even though he’s now back), and I applaud the crazy, delusional Ultimate Warrior too.
Incidentally, everyone should read up on Bufton’s columns. He’s been churning out some top-notch stuff lately.
Another day, another column. Let me know what you thought via e-mail or IM, and I’ll see you here in two weeks.
AIM = GoldenAce 007