Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic


The Future”¦
PLUS: December to Dismember Roundtable results.

So many wrestlers refer to themselves in promos as “the future of the business” that it has become a popular expression in today’s pro wrestling landscape. But which major-league wrestlers of today actually have what it takes to become mainstays in the industry for years to come?

TODAY’S ISSUE: The Future of the Business

When I think of current performers with nothing but great things in their future, one of the first to come to mind is ECW’s CM Punk. Punk brings a unique approach to the business; he lives a straight-edged lifestyle, with his single self-admitted addiction being competition. It’s refreshing to see a character who’s supposed to be an athletic competitor act this way. He actually takes the competition side of the game seriously. Punk’s in-ring style includes a bit of ju-jitsu, which complements his individualized persona. This man is anything but run of the mill, and he’s a bright spot on some very dim Tuesday nights.

AJ Styles is an amazing competitor who combines risk-taking and innovation with sound ring psychology, skill and storytelling ability. Styles is equally at home in the X Division as he is in the tag team or NWA championship title hunts. Perhaps this new heelish edge he’s developing will be the catalyst he needs to jump it up a notch and take TNA, and the world, by storm. The Phenomenal One is a master artist between the ropes. Hopefully his personality will evolve to the levels of his moveset and dynamic in-ring presence.

Ken Kennedy. Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that WWE is getting behind Mr. Kennedy in a big way. I can’t remember the last time Undertaker was as generous in a feud, and Kennedy’s been allowed to add a dimension to his promos because of it. His sit-down discussions with the camera regarding the ‘Taker have been well planned and much better executed than his two dimensional “how great am I?” promos prior to his feud with the Dead Man. Plus, the four-way issue between Kennedy, MVP, and the Brothers of Destruction makes for a more developed character. I’m not afraid to admit that I enjoy Kennedy as a fresh face at the top of the card. He’s got a Rock-like ability to reach the crowd, and his in-ring skills aren’t as underdeveloped as some would claim.

Kenny (Doane) from the Spirit Squad had a shot at becoming a big-time player, especially with a legend like Ric Flair working with him. He’s in terrific shape, has a good look and some nice high-flying moves off the top rope, and is young enough to have a long future ahead of him. But then DX pulled that horrible skit out of their asses (which were no doubt painted green and oiled up) in which they shipped the Spirit Squad back to OVW. Real good, idiots. Mock your own talent, whom according to your business model, I have recently been paying money to see on pay-per-view, and skipping Monday Night Football to watch live. Brilliant. I hope Sir Eric’s illegitimate son can recover, but it will take one hell of an effort from Creative.

Petey Williams has it all, including a great look and physique and an outstanding moveset. His in-ring skills are highlighted by the coolest thing since sliced bread, the Canadian Destroyer. The chance to see his devastating flip-piledriver makes Williams an exciting competitor to watch each time he enters the squared circle. Now he’s showcasing his “acting” ability in a pro-US face turn against the LAX. It’s too bad he was eliminated from the tag team title match on iMPACT! last week, because I was looking forward to Williams being on the same level as Kurt Angle, even for a short time. I’d say the only thing working against Williams is his height. At 5’7″, it’s doubtful he’d ever get a serious heavyweight push. Then again, Rey Mysterio, who’s four inches shorter than Williams, was the World Heavyweight Champion for several months. As the saying goes, anything can happen.

Randy Orton has all the tools a pro wrestler could have. He’s got size, a great physique, a good look, charisma, confidence on the mic, a rare pedigree, and some ability in the ring. However, Randy is his own worst enemy. He’ll self-destruct before he can become one of the greats. Once the youngest World Heavyweight Champion on record, Orton gets push after push after push, although he constantly proves he can’t interact with his coworkers backstage like a human being. Eventually, McMahon’s patience will run out, and Orton won’t survive his own antics. I hope TNA can handle him when he gets released.

Carlito Caribbean Cool grew up in the business, and has the presence that all second generation grapplers seem to possess. He, like CM Punk, brings a distinct moveset and look, making his segments on RAW stand out from the usual fare. Carlito could challenge for the WWE title in the right conditions, but otherwise seems a solid fit in the Intercontinental division. He often flashes moves that are not often seen in heavyweight matches, and is dynamite on the stick. And that? That’s cool.

Gregory Helms has stepped up his game since shedding the Hurricane gimmick and has become a brash, arrogant, cocky heel champion. His new character reminds me of Ric Flair in his heyday. Regardless of what Helms needs to do to keep the Cruiserweight Championship (including never defending it), he still proudly crows about being the longest reigning champ in the game today. His feud with Matt Hardy on SmackDown! has been wonderfully entertaining, as the pair of OMEGA alumni put on a solid match every time they step into the ring together. Along with a good look and great command of the inflated heel ego, Helms brings ring generalship, psychology, aggressive offense, and experience to the table, although he’s still fairly young. Helms could be exactly what JBL claims he is: the best kept secret on Friday nights.

Before Robert Roode settled on the boring choice of Traci Brooks as his manager, I would have included him as a major force to be reckoned with. However, his gimmick has devolved into the typical bully heel who blames his manager for not properly cheating on his behalf. He loses all the time since his character makeover, and the dynamic between Roode and Brooks is becoming reminiscent of Savage and Elizabeth in WWF circa 1988. Unless Creative can add a compelling twist to the gimmick soon, Roode’s impressive appearance, speed, strength and agility will go down the drain. Russo’s supposed to be good at fleshing out characters for mid-carders, and Robert Roode is his chance to prove it.

Bobby Lashley has a huge, cut physique, which should automatically guarantee him a long and fruitful career in professional wrestling. He’s often been compared to Brock Lesnar and Goldberg, but does he have that “it” factor to make him the next big thing? I don’t know. I can’t imagine WWE would move him to ECW if they thought as highly of him as Lesnar when he debuted a few years ago. I have observed that his spear is nowhere near as quick and impressive looking as Goldberg’s was when he tore people in half during his epic run in WCW. Lashley also needs to develop a personality to compliment his impressive frame. Perhaps his title victory in the Extreme Elimination Chamber will give him the opportunity to improve his promo ability. I wish the fledgling champion luck.

Shawn “Khosrow” Daivari has a lot to offer from a performance standpoint. He’s young, in great shape, and can go in the ring. However, his greatest asset might be his ability to fluently speak Farsi, and to play a character of Middle Eastern descent (he was born in Iran). In the past German, Japanese and Russian heels were all the rage, as promoters capitalized on world events in which the USA was engaged. A Middle Eastern heel character represents a great threat to American ideals and invokes our fears. Keeping that in mind, Daivari can go a long way in front of the largely xenophobic US fan base. I hated to his former associate Muhammed Hassan leave; like Daivari, that character also had a great deal of potential.

TNA has a few guys on the roster who, if given the right push, all have what it takes to make it big in pro wrestling. Christopher Daniels, Alex Shelley, Austin Starr (Aries), and Chris Sabin all have the goods, but like Petey Williams, their size is most likely a limiting factor. This height/size issue is not based on my personal opinion, as I prefer the more hard-hitting, fast paced, high-flying action offered by cruiserweights as opposed to a lumbering punch-and-kick festival performed by 300-pounders. But it’s been demonstrated over the years that bigger guys get pushes more often, no matter how bad they are in the ring.

Other TNA wrestlers with the right stuff include AMW and the Naturals. Both teams possess a good look, better than average speed and agility for their size, and solid ring presence. Either team could go far in the industry. To shed some light on how TNA guys can succeed, I think it will be interesting to see how Monty Brown fares in WWE. This might indicate how guys like AMW and the Naturals could be looked at by McMahon and pals. Not that succeeding in WWE is the definition of “making it” in the business, but it is a pretty decent yardstick at this point.

Is the next Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, or Stone Cold Steve Austin in the group above, or has that performer not yet debuted on the global stage? Time will tell. I look forward to hearing who you think is the future of the business, and why. E-mail me to let me know.

ECW’s December to Dismember ppv was last night. As usual, we Inside Pulse staffers put together our Roundtable. When you compare our predictions to either PK’s Live Coverage or Widro’s Extreme Perspective, you’ll see that the card changed a bit from what little was advertised. Still, we did what we could. How did we fare? Take a look below”¦

IP Staff Roundtable Results for December to Dismember
(plus one bonus point for correctly predicting who would compete in unadvertised matches.)

ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 4-0
Total: 9-2

Vinny Truncellito
ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 4-0
Total: 45-27

Danny Wallace
ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 4-0
Total: 25-13

Eric Szulczewski
ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 3-0
Total: 33-37

ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 3-1
Total: 21-11

Matthew Michaels
ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 3-1
Total: 20-12

ECW December to Dismember (3 Dec 06): 1-2
Total: 17-26

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. — Interesting Fact: The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

Master Sergeant, United States Air Force