A Modest Response: Wrestlemania Edition Part 2

Click here for Part 1.

This Week on Pulse Wrestling

Big Andy Mac discusses what will be the Match of the Weekend between the ROH weekend shows and Wrestlemania. I don’t want to spoil his pick, but it shows a lot of confidence in two guys who’ve never been on a stage this size. My pick for match of the weekend is Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong on Saturday. Aries and Strong have amazing tag team chemistry and could not know each other better. They can and should completely steal the show and put on a stellar match.

Grutman has posted a ton of comedic articles. This is the best one, in my opinion, although the quantity is leaving me a bit worn out.

Brashear discusses Sabu in WCW. This is a thoroughly depressing subject. Sabu, while a declining worker at this point, has an amazing mystique and look that was completely wasted by both the WWE and WCW.

Murray complains a lot while looking at the bright side this week.

Eric S is wrong about WWE always having better production than Nitro. There was a time when Nitro was live and WWE was still doing the monster tapings that Nitro was far ahead of Raw.

Wheeler has a strong second column. He thinks Benoit will be just another face on Raw, but what is he exactly on Smackdown? While he has the potential to be a star there, he is far too often left to languish in the midcard, just like he would on Raw. Also, from Punk to Benoit, someone knows where his IWC bread is buttered.

Vin fantasy books Team Canada. He sticks with the obvious names, unfortunately.

Mark Allen discusses the Wrestlemania battle royal. Battle royals bore me to tears because they so severely limit what guys can do in the ring.

A Modest Response: What Show Fits?

Since this is Wrestlemania Weekend, I thought I’d do something a little different for this week’s AMR. This week several other writers and myself will take a look at who would fit on which other show or product were such a move possible. We’ll go show by show here. The companies and brands involved are the three WWE brands (Raw, Smackdown and ECW) along with TNA and Ring of Honor.

Let’s go show by show to begin.

Raw

Pulse Glazer: Raw is a show all about sports entertainment that has very little to do with actual wrestling. Raw is also very heavy on major faces, with only Edge holding down the heel ranks at the top of the card. Randy Orton and Umaga are upper card heels, but not main event level. The problem is, there are very few major heels left around. Who would fit on RAW and be able to make the most of the massive opportunity to be hated against the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and whoever turns out of Orton and Edge. That man is Bryan Danielson.

To establish Bryan as a major heel force would be very simple. A small heel coalition constantly beating on Michaels would do the trick. After several beatings, Michaels could claim he was bringing in a former student to reform DX and reclaim his glory. At this point he could introduce Danielson who would come to the ring to DX’s music and they would cut a generic face promo about how their opponents needed to watch out in the upcoming tag match. The tag match, however, would never get underway.

Shawn would come out again to introduce his new partner again before the match, to help give Danielson a big time feel. As the lights dimmed and DX’s music hit, blackness would envelop the arena. As the lights returned, Danielson would have Shawn in the Cattle Mutilation, his submission finisher. Danielson, a master at riling up crowds, would then admit he was behind all the attacks on Michaels and was merely making sure he was brought in and established at the top of the card. A major, cocky, cowardly heel who has no desire to get cheered would offer fresh matches. That Danielson is so fantastic in the ring allows for options more than the same old Sports Entertainment formula, although it’s a formula Danielson could clearly manage.

Rob Blatt:I’ve got two. If you’ve noticed, RAW’s main event is face vs. face for Wrestlemaina. The biggest heel is Vince McMahon, followed by Umaga, Edge and Orton. Orton’s been weak lately with the crowd and Edge has been seen as a standout in their team. Umaga has been pushed to the moon, but I don’t think that anyone buys the guy as a real contender to the WWE Championship. With HHH scheduled to return to the active roster sometime before Summerslam, unless he returns as a heel, we’re looking at a drought of heels on RAW. Booker T would probably fit the show the best. While he had a great year on Smackdown, I think it’s time to move on. He’s out of people to feud with on the show without being silly (see his feud with the Boogeyman) or a retro feud (see the best of seven series with Benoit).

The other man that can shake up the show is Chris Jericho. If you remember last time we saw Jericho, John Cena had cost him his job. He’s got beef with Triple H, he’s got beef with Shawn Michaels. He has history with Edge and he’s never far from trying to make a statement telling people like Michaels and Ric Flair that it’s retirement time. And he’s one of the rare guys that can make a younger guy look good. I’m specifically thinking about Kenny Dykstra, who probably needs a makeover. This one’s more of a pipedream, because we know Jericho’s got screw you money and doesn’t particularly want to come back to a full schedule.

Andy Mac:The person that I would add to Monday Night Raw would be Christian Cage. Raw needs some fresher talents as they have had one of the more static rosters of any of the WWE brands. He also has built in potential feuds with Edge and John Cena. He was on the cusp of winning the World Title at one point, but he was then moved to Smackdown and jobber hell. After that he opted for TNA and proved that he could be trusted at the top of the card. He could immediately come in and claim that Cena tried to push him to the side because he was afraid of the Canadian Rage taking his title. Christian would also immediately be one of the top in ring talents on Raw after Michaels.
The big money with Christian moving to Raw would be a reunion with Edge that could lead to a feud. He could be part of the Orton vs. Edge angle and then segue nicely into a feud with his former partner. Christian and Edge riffing against each other on the mic could rise to Austin/Rock levels of verbal parlay. The matches would be pretty sweet as well.

Smackdown

Pulse Glazer: While Raw is the Sports Entertainment show, Smackdown is the pure wrestling show . mostly. The undercard of Smackdown features great wrestlers like Finlay, Chris Benoit, William Regal, Rey Mysterio, Shane Helms, Chavo Guerrero, Paul London and Brian Kendrick. These guys make up the majority of the show, but the top of the card is focused around larger athletes right now- namely the Undertaker and Batista. Along with these two, there is also Kane, another large wrestler. In order to successfully traverse the upper and lower cards to create interesting feuds and match ups, the wrestler here should be able to work both styles. Heel or face isn’t especially important here, as all the major players can work either style, although this does make it more important the wrestler in question could work either.

The best wrestler for this role, the only who has proven he can handle the various modes necessary at the top of the card, is Samoa Joe. Joe worked as both an effective face and heel in TNA and worked with both big men, like Abyss and the smaller X-Division guys. He got over as a main eventer; besides AJ Styles, Joe is the only man without national exposure prior to TNA to do so. He puts on good interviews and better matches. Samoa Joe is the perfect fit.

To introduce Samoa Joe, WWE must play off the dream match factor while acknowledging Joe is not as well known due to TNA’s lesser exposure. The perfect dream match for Samoa Joe exists in Chris Benoit. He has main event WWE status, but is not currently in the main event. He could get Samoa Joe over with absolutely great matches, while putting both men further over. The sheer credibility Joe would gain, along with his previously established reputation (see also: Punk, CM) would allow him to credibly move all the way up to a main event slot where he would add quality work to the established top of the card, helping the product all around by taking the most over men on the roster to some of their best matches in years.

Rob Blatt: Who doesn’t this show need? That’s not entirely fair because they’ve managed to make this show more entertaining than RAW on average for the past 8 months. With Batista as champ, the show’s fizzled, but with the Undertaker at the reins, the show will have a bit more snap to it because this will open up the playing field to a lot of young heels. Where the show needs a good kick in the pants is in the US Championship division and the cruiserweights. When I think of the US title, I think of Benoit. Unfortunately the man cant hold it forever without getting the slightest bit stale. With the return of Rey Jr. on the horizon and a crop of young guys (Kennedy, MVP, Noble, London, Kendrick) and non-monster veterans (Taylor, Finlay, Benoit, Booker, Chavo, Regal) the highlight of the show could certainly be A.J. Styles. Styles fits in somewhere between all those guys and could produce top notch performances across the board. And he can let his craft be seen by a large audience and prolong his career in the process.

Andy Mac: “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson could be a perfect fit on Friday nights. His natural starting point would be in the cruiserweight division. He could have great matches with Jamie Noble-boy, Gregory Helms, Jimmy Wang Yang, and Chavo. He would have to get a fairly quick push to the Cruiserweight Title. After winning the strap he could take it to the heights it has never before reached.

I Smackdown is the “wrestling” show of WWE’s canon of programs, and if there is one thing Dragon can do it is wrestle. I think it would be most interesting to bring him in as a baby face and kind of a “Great White Hope” type of gimmick. When he eventually wins the Cruiserweight Title he would start showing signs of the cockiness that made him such an amazing champion in Ring of Honor.
If all went according to plan, he would eventually become “too big” for the cruiserweight division, both in his own mind and in reality. The next step is obvious and would provide for a Smart Mark dream match for all time. “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. “The Canadian Crippler” Chris Benoit would never dip below four stars in match quality if they were allowed to do all they are capable of. This could also serve as a passing of the torch from one icon of pure wrestling to the next generation. After eventually defeating Benoit, a World championship feud would not be out of the question.
Dragon as champion would be almost completely new ground for WWE. The other thing I would like to see if Dragon won the belt would be a man coming out of nowhere to make a challenge. A man who has stayed on the outside of the main event picture his entire career, a man who taught American Dragon how to be a wrestler, a man whose gear Dragon stole, a man who some have referred to as a “Man’s Man.” This man is William Regal. Regal would get a world title feud. The matches would be awesome. Regal could also get a “thanks for all the good work” title reign. Dragon on Smackdown has so many things going for it.

ECW

Pulse Glazer: ECW will be, after Wrestlemania (see the news above), a show dominated by heels. The New Breed will make up the high majority of the roster, with their only opponents on the face side CM Punk and Bobby Lashley. Whole there is nothing inherently wrong with a heel faction vs. the major faces, the faces are distinguished mostly by their strict heroism and virtuousness. Lashley, through his Marine background, and Punk, through his straight edge lifestyle, are good guys in every sense of the word. With these two as the faces of ECW, the show is lacking a major edge. ECW needs an anti-hero rebel. Since ECW is so heavily focused on brawlers, a great brawling background is a must. With the WWE’s new focus on the Hispanic audience, the answer to who fits best in this role should be obvious. The answer is Homicide.

Homicide is a very small wrestler who would not fit in most places in the WWE. In ECW, however, where most wrestlers are smaller to begin with. Homicide, a former(?) Latin King, is a real life outlaw. His attitude and swagger are legitimate and he is viably a very dangerous man. His size allows for some ingenuity in how he could battle the New Breed and makes his eventual beatdowns seem more legitimate. Homicide is a top notch brawler and experienced wrestler who could help make the New Breed better wrestlers in the ring. Out of the ring, he only has to appear dangerous and strike fast. Long interviews are not a must in ECW since it only runs an hour, so Homicide’s weakness there (his promos are insane) is easily overlooked.

Perhaps Homicide’s biggest strength would be his cross promotional opportunities. A legitimate thug, with licensed music from, say Dipset, would be an immediate cash cow for the WWE. Merely standing around in a video is a great cross promotional opportunity and a way to cross promote and create new fans who would not be turned off by the fake feel of Homicide’s character the way they would of someone like John Cena the superthug.

To debut Homicide and get him over is a simple task. Announce that indy worker Homicide is getting a tryout with WWE on ECW television against a New Breed opponent. After Homicide gets in too much offense and refuses to be pinned, the New Breed can cost him the match and beat him down. From the on Homicide could appear at inopportune time, costing the New Breed matches and opportunities by taking ever more dangerous action. The rebel outlaw character could refuse to unite with Punk and Lashley, but still be firmly on the side of destroying the New Breed, thus keeping him a face while allowing him to feel edgy and violent- a trait current ECW sorely lacks.

Rob Blatt: There are two options here too. I don’t like the first, but it would work. Umaga. After Wrestlemania, we’re going to see less and less of the ECW Originals. Sabu’s made people upset backstage, Dreamer will most likely slink back to his role as a “producer” in the WWE, Sandman will probably be used less and less and Rob Van Dam is most likely headed for greener (get it) pastures. You know how many faces that leaves behind? CM Punk and Balls Mahoney. ECW will be in need of faces badly and the easiest thing to do would be to bring in a monster heel liek Umaga and turn some of the New Breed face. I could see Elijah Burke and Marcus Cor Von turning quickly. This will give some separation between Umaga and LAshley when he first comes on the program. What Umaga has going against his is height, and Vince likes his champions tall, which creates an issue for him.

It’d be great to see Kennedy on the program. If putting Lashley into the small pond that is ECW, it’ll work for Kennedy as well. People like Kennedy enough to cheer him over Batista (which isn’t hard to do these days) and letting him be embraced by the crowd without changing much about him would be great for him. It’ll give him the opportunity to wear a world title belt without upsetting one of the veterans that’s currently holding a belt. I’d love to see Kennedy on the show much more than Umaga.

Andy Mac: There is one person that needs to be a part of ECW and that man is Raven. Raven’s sole purpose would be to make other people look good. He could be added to the New Breed vs. Originals feud in a very logical sense, but I think there are two feuds that would need to happen that would immediately make top stars. Those men are Bobby Lashley and CM Punk.
Raven is the main reason that CM Punk is on the map in the wrestling world. Their feud in Ring of Honor was one of the best things in RoH’s second year and one of the best wrestling feuds of the past decade. Punk has only scratched the surface of what he could do with the Straight Edge gimmick. They could even run the feud between the two men note for not and no one would have any problem with it. The direction that I would take the feud would be Raven trying to mentor punk to get him over to the next level and Punk insisting on making it on his own steam. The hatred would slowly build and then they would just turn up the old ultra-violence in their matches.
The other feud would bare many similarities, and that feud would be with Bobby Lashley. Lashley can get all the wins he wants over Tommy Dreamer, RVD, Sabu or any other ECW original but none of them have the charisma of Raven to really make it mean something. I don’t think that I am alone in not buying Lashley as a champion. Raven could be the man to truly put Lashely over and make him into a star. Umaga isn’t going to do it. Getting pinned by Vince sure as hell isn’t going to get him over as a star. He needs a man who can carry a feud on the mic, which is Raven’s strong suit. To have a truly great hero, you need a truly great villain. Austin would not have been as over without Vince. The Rock would not have been as over without Triple H. Hogan would not have been as over without Bobby Heenan/Andre the Giant. Raven is just the villain to add to Lashley’s heroism.

TNA

Pulse Glazer:TNA has probably the best roster of any single show on television due to the brand split. Talent is not their problem, but booking is. Short of them hiring Paul Heyman or Gabe Sapolsky, there’s not a lot of talent that can make a difference to TNA. In fact, so entrenched are they in their issues, I can only think of one wrestler, who if he were to commit to wrestling, would have a noticeable effect. This wrestler is The Rock.

This is clearly a fantasy. There’s no way The Rock would ever return to wrestling full time and if he did, it would be with the WWE. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s the only wrestler already established who could change TNA’s fortunes. With his immense wrestling following and his fans from movies, the audience and attention he brought to TNA would immediately legitimize them as more than a WWE clone. When on The Rock is very good in the ring, amazing at getting a crowd reaction, and the best wrestler in the world on the mic. He’s also a draw like no other and even part time could completely change the face of TNA.

Andy Mac: The man to add to TNA is Chris Jericho. Many people would automatically assume that Jericho would be thrust into the main event picture, but I would go a different way. I would put Chris Jericho into the X Division, but not as a mentor which many would assume is his logical role. I would start his arrival much like his arrival into the WWE. At random points during Impact broadcasts a countdown would show up and the countdown would reach zero at whatever Pay Per View made the most sense.
He would not appear across the ring from Sting, or Jarrett, or Abyss or anyone else. He would make his appearance after an X division championship match. He would say that during his hiatus he saw the best wrestling, the most innovative moves, the future of the business, all titles bestowed upon him during his career. He would say that he wants to be a part of the future once again.
Jericho joining the X-division would immediately lend a ton of credibility that the division has been lacking since AJ Styles, Chris Daniels, and Samoa Joe. Jericho could have unbelievable matches with Austin Starr, Senshi, and the wrestler that many have referred to as the next Chris Jericho Alex Shelley. It would be a new direction for a big star. It would be TNA focusing on its best aspects, and it would be a fresh start to a promotion that is slowly burning away the entire buzz that it had.

Ring of Honor

Pulse Glazer: Ring of Honor, without TV, is all about the quality of the product. The product being what it is, wrestling is the main draw here. There are a lot of obvious guys who could improve that quality. Before the Kenta Kobashi showing, he might have been the top guy I’d have liked to see in an ROH ring. With news of Misawa coming over around the end of the year, news I marked hard for, but it isn’t 5 years ago and Misawa isn’t what he once was. This, along with the regular presence of KENTA, Marufuji, Morishima, and the Dragon Gate wrestlers make my original first choice- Toshiaki Kawada- take a step down.

The next choice here would be a released, major WWE star who is a great wrestler. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle fit the bill best here, but due to age, cost, injury history, ego, and status, it’s doubtful that either would be helpful long term additions to the roster, as tempting as it sounds. Shawn Michaels would also fit under this category, except for him you can underline ego.

The man who would best fit Ring of Honor is the man who helped build it to what it has become today, the man for whom an era is named, the man who was involved in the biggest and most memorable feuds in company history: CM Punk.

When asked who, if anyone, he would bring in, ROH head booker Gabe Sapolsky told me there’s no one he’d rather have in Ring of Honor than CM Punk. Gabe, as a booker, has earned the fans trust with consistency and quality over time. Without another obvious answer for reasons outlined above, I’ll stick with Gabe.

Besides, I’d mark out unbelievably to hear Miseria Cantare at a Ring of Honor show again.

Andy Mac: In all honesty Ring of Honor does not need anyone added to their roster, they have one of the most complete roster they have had perhaps in their history. If I could add one man though, it would be Kurt Angle. If Kurt got off the crazy pills and settled back into the Kurt that was around in like 2003 or 2004 it could be absolutely amazing. He would have classics with Claudio, Hero, Nigel, Albright, and pretty much the entire roster.

Takeshi Morishima is the current champion, and as clichéd as it would be a little patriotism could be just the thing to add to the overthrow of the Smooth Pimp Godzilla. Angle could claim being the American Hero and the only man to topple the Japanese Giant. If Angle could get the crazy out, he would be a great addition to the Ring of Honor roster.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to check back later today for the Ring of Honor Roundtable for the weekend’s shows, tomorrow for the Wrestlemania Roundtable and all the ROH results. Thanks for joining us and hope you will again next Friday!

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