A Modest Response

A double A Modest Response this week and I call out the Pulse Wrestling Staff. The first is about Cena, for the marks, keep reading after for the second AMR.

Also, for those that liked my DVD reviews, I’ll be covering the entire Ring of Honor Fifth Year Festival through Wrestlemania Weekend’s shows and opening up the column to ROH questions and ROH history so that we can try and get everyone enough background information to get started. Drop me a line right here, comment on the forum, or even send me a message on AIM at HBK826 if you want more information, to help, to give me some feedback, or anything else I might be able to help you with. See the second A Modest Response this week for more.

News of Honor

Colt Cabana signs with WWE

No word on if this is a developmental deal or not, but huge news nonetheless. WWE now has the entire Second City Saints under contract: CM Punk, Colt Cabana and Ace Steele. It’s no secret I’m not the biggest Cabana fan in the world, but his humor and antics are made for WWE. He’s one guy they really shouldn’t change. HERE are his last matches and shows for your consideration.

Mark Briscoe was badly concussed at the last ROH show in Detroit

He’s now probable for the Long Island and Edison shows next week. He really needs to cut out the Shooting Star Press. He’s almost seriously hurt himself with it several times.

TNA Stars Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin to take on the Briscoes for the ROH Tag Titles

After the quick title changes, Jay and Mark beating some big names is a good way to create some importance around the titles again. More importantly, the match should be phenomenal.

Albright is hired by Cornette to take out Homicide

And Homicide has direction again. This can make Albright a major player.

Rocky Romero joins the No Remorse Corps

This was widely predicted. He’s a good worker. If he can make a lot of shows, then this is a great move. Romero is a very good worker with a big attitude that fits the heel stable. If he continues to be very part time, then this move makes no sense. The rub here could have been better given. I’m still hoping for a big name member like Nigel.

Erik Stevens is now a regular part of the ROH Roster

It’s almost like being called up to the big leagues from FIP.

In Other News

TNA is going to Nashville for their Fifth Year Anniversary

Hopefully they go back to their early quality, particularly in the X-Division

Err, not a lot of news from the big two, eh? Well, moving along.

Commentary on the Televised

This is a new section in which I’ll give comments for whatever show I happened to see this week and whatever DVD’s I watched in quick little blurbs. For this week I’ll be throwing in star ratings for the Wrestlemania matches.

Wrestlemania

Money in the Bank (****). This had the regular fun bumps. Everyone got their chance to shine, particularly Punk, Finlay and Jeff Hardy. Punk mostly took the stupid bumps of the match, making everyone else look good. Jeff got, of course, the big move of the match, which looked great and was probably the in match highlight of the night with the butt splash through a ladder onto Edge. Finlay showed that a man his age could compete in a match like this. I’d really like Finlay to get a transitional title shot as a thank you, but beating The Undertaker clearly isn’t in the cards.

Khali over Kane (*). They held this from being atrocious well, but when that’s the best you can say the match doesn’t belong on the biggest show of the year.

Benoit over MVP (***). MVP isn’t bad right now, no matter what the IWC would have you believe. He’s actually solid and learning on the job in around the right spot, the mid-card. He’s far less offensive than Lashley is now or Cena was about a year ago (more on this later) because he’s being left out of the main event while learning. He’ll never be Benoit good, but he could end up better than many above him on the card now because he’s being allowed to learn and work with the best.

The Undertaker defeats Batista (*** 1/4). Barely better than Benoit and MVP. Less psychology with more energy, the crowd helped this match a lot. The Undertaker can really bring it when he wants to, which makes it more the shame that he wants to so rarely.

The Originals over the New Breed (**). Well, this was nothing. They could have had another **** match here, as ECW TV showed us, but chose instead to give the paying customer less for their money. Disappointing.

Lashley defeats Umaga (*). Overbooked crap, but this was all about the moment afterwards with Vince getting his head shaved, so on that level it’s acceptable. There was way too much Austin involvement for a match designed to make Lashley. What does it say that Umaga can get to **** with Cena, but nothing passable from Lashley?

Women’s Match- I skipped, Shimmer it wasn’t. I put on a ROH DVD. The general consensus on the match is it’s a Dud; it doesn’t sound like I missed much.

John Cena over Shawn Michaels (****). Well, this was badly overrated by Keith. The pacing was stop and start here, as, I believe it was Eric who stated, because Cena might have blown up because of the amount of time this match was given. The psychology was solid for a bit, but never paid off in any meaningful way, and it really felt like an extended Superman Cena formula with a hot finish tacked on and HBK making the proceedings look better by working within Cena’s limits. Keith really needs to stop doing the insta-reviews when drinking or hanging out with people while watching- the review scores, where he used to be so reliable, have been quite skewed lately.

Ring of Honor: The Round Robin Challenge III

This is an early show and it’s nice to see Alex Shelley and Roderick Strong before they were a big deal.

Samoa Joe and Ricky Reyes have a decent non-title match, but Reyes is a very limited wrestler.

Homicide wrestles Spanky in a very good, unfairly forgotten match. This is a great point in the evolution of Homicide’s character as he’s starting to snap but not yet a full heel. The match is a bit slow, but both guys really get going good.

The Round Robin Challenge itself isn’t that great, but the finale with the Briscoes against Cabana and Punk is very good. Mark and Colt have both improved a world as workers, but both are still at least good here. This match makes the challenge.

Ring of Honor: Supercard of Honor

AJ and Sydal against Aries and Evans is a forgotten classic. The match is great and perfectly highlights each man. The Dragon Gate 6 Man is better, but not by that much.

Roderick and Danielson feature way too much Danielson for me to have bought that Roderick might have won at any point.

Respondents of Honor

The contest for a free ROH DVD is pushed up for one more week so get your responses and votes in!

Next on tap is the person who caught the song in last week’s column- KurtK26! The song, for those who were wondering is Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta.

Others who got the song correct were Will Ryan, Janel Snook, and Andrew Boris.

Thanks for participating one and all. Be sure to try last week’s contest for free ROH DVDs. I’ll be back next week with the contest winners and another contest for a free Ring of Honor DVD!

Respondents of Honor

JMull
Stacy J
Goat Graves
Shabaz
Ryan Ro
Kyle K Sparks
Dan Snyder
Kurt K26

This Week on Pulse Wrestling

The top spot goes to Andy Mac again who dedicates his column to chronicling Colt Cabana’s Ring of Honor career. I won’t pretend to have been a fan of Cabana in Ring of Honor, but he’s made for the circus atmosphere of WWE. Good luck Colt! The rest of you, read Andy’s column for a nice retrospective of Cabana in ROH.

This isn’t wrestling, but still is really good.

Murray is cynical about WWE booking and politics but positive about their television shows. Lashley can be an absolute darling outside the ring, but if he had any intensity in the ring, it wouldn’t matter. He’s a puppy in the ring, with bad timing and no intensity. Remember, the stories are a service to what happens in the ring, not vice versa. As far as original ECW goes, I’ve only been a fan of two companies ever: ECW and Ring of Honor. I complained about Justin Credible as ECW champion. Why does that mean I wasn’t a fan of the company and their general direction? They put the belt on the wrong guy once. I wasn’t crazy about James Gibson as Ring of Honor champion. Does that mean I’m not a ROH fan either?

Wallace looks ahead, now monthly. As a note on the roundtable for Wrestlemania: of course we all did well, it’s the logical closing point for most of these feuds. It’s the illogical twists and turns in the middle that cause errors.

Great Article from Brashear about the history of the NWA belt.

Blatt vs. probably the best ECW show since its new incarnation. Blatt still kicks its ass. It’s worth noting for newer fans and forEric S (in his ECW Short Form), but Stevie Richards was one of the best wrestlers in the original ECW. Besides the real big world class guys like Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and the luchadores, you could make a case that he was the best worker in ECW. Funk was way past his prime or he’s a clear number one, but Stevie was right there with Douglass, Foley, and Whipwreck for a good while before the injuries took their toll. Add in his brilliant character work and he’s one of the true forgotten gems of the era.

Burnside answers all questions. Iain is slightly wrong on Dragon Gate rules, at least how they are usually applied. It’s not no tags needed, it’s either A) you can leave the ring, allowing your partner to enter or B) make a tag. Either is fine. ROH stole these for the rules of their Scramble matches before just admitting defeat and calling them Dragon Gate rules matches. The Observer’s Match of the Year, the Dragon Gate 6 Man from last year’s Supercard of Honor is one example of this match type.

PK, our most mark-like writer by far, goes to Wrestlemania, sees Ring of Honor for the first time, and agrees fully with me on wrestling for the very first time.

Column of Honor: Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. by Eric S. Well, if you read the site regularly, this can’t be a surprise. Eric and I have been discussing Cena’s improvement or lack thereof for several weeks. Here’s what he said in this weeks column and what I’ll be responding to:

Oh, there are supposedly people “coming around” to Cena and claim he’s improving. Bullshit. He’s just like Flex. His wrestling skills were put into escrow the moment he started to get over with his promos. I said that to Aaron last week, and not even he disagreed with that assessment. Yet Aaron still claimed that Cena was improving. Of course, he did so on the basis of the Benoit match. You can put me, a forty-two-year old bipolar diabetic with two bad knees and a bum ankle, in the ring with Benoit and we’d get three snowflakes out of it (of course, I know how to sell, something Cena has never quite mastered). Also, Aaron is our ROH Black Belt. He’s so used to quality wrestling that any alleged improvement from Cena would be considered cause for celebration.

Yes, Michaels carried him. Michaels is a true professional at all times (these days). Michaels will do so out of a sense of personal pride. He’s reached the fat and happy point in his career, yet he still has that drive in him to not disgrace professional wrestling. He’ll do anything to not look bad, put anyone over that he’s told to. It’s a point of professional and personal pride on his part. So he carried Cena here as much as humanly possible. That attitude is something that’s rubbed off on Trip, by the way; it’s a wonder what a sense of personal security can do to a person. But there’s no way in f*ck that this match was a hair short of five snowflakes, Scooter. A match at that level implies that both wrestlers are contributing to the best of their ability. Cena was there for the ride. He contributed only the minimum of what he was capable of, and that at the minimum quantity. But Michaels? Jesus, did he go above and beyond. He’s about my age, yet he whipped out an Asai moonsault on to an announce table. Add that to stopping a would-be streaker (viz. Meltzer), a Flair Flip, doing his normal messy blade job, performing a benefit to mankind by superkicking Mike “The Real Emo Warrior” Chioda, etc., and he showed his consummate professionalism at the highest level. Why would you not want a person like that to hold the strap for a while, especially considering that he’s 1) more over than Cena and 2) selling as much merch, if not more, than Cena?

So, that chunk is what I’m responding to, along with a bit of ROH stuff tacked on at the end, just to make me feel less dirty for discussing the most over-discussed person on the net.

A Modest Response: How we know Cena has improved
The most important thing to do in any debate of this sort is to determine the terms we’re using at the start. Eric S and many others use wrestling skills to mean the style a performer uses. Click here for a discussion on Wrestling skills and the role a performer plays in the ring. Also click here for the basics on creating a good story and making a good match.

Those are possibly my two favorite pieces as they are about what goes into a good match, regardless of who is in it. A good match is not determined by the style. Style is a personal preference and is determined by the athleticism, preference, and skill of the performers and the company. The role of Cena in the ring is basically a superhero who refuses to give up the fight even when badly outmatched. Because of this his mat wrestling, which many will confuse with wrestling skill, will never be up to par with that of a Benoit or Michaels. Wrestling in that manner fits neither his role, his size, nor the preference of his company, so it appears to many that he lacks skill.

Being a good wrestler is in participating in the build of a good match. The most important element a good match must maintain is building an engaging story so as to maintain the audience involvement in the match while creating a growing sense of drama. This, not the style used is the tell-tale sign of a good wrestler. Mick Foley and Terry Funk have both wrestled ***** classics where they’ve barely thrown more than basic punches and relied on timing and bumps to create the drama for many matches with various opponents. I’m not suggesting that Cena is in a class with either, mind you, they are merely proof that a different style can lead to one being a great wrestler. One match as a specific example of how a match can be fantastic without anything fancy, and this should be easy to find on various Best of DVDs since Meltzer gave it *****, 1984- Dory and Terry Funk vs. Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen. If you need or want more examples, or have a few to offer up, feel free to drop me an e-mail. The emotion, story, psychology, and drama of this match are unparalleled with no fancy moves.

John Cena is unlikely to ever reach the heights of a Terry Funk in this arena, to say the very least, but those that focus on his uninspiring moves, particularly the bad STF and Five Knuckle Shuffle, fail to see how he is able to heighten the drama in the ring. With both Michaels and Benoit, Cena was led to a good match, his weaknesses well hidden by what are probably the two best workers of this generation and certainly the two best in the WWE today. Please not led and carried have different meanings. Among Cena’s current weaknesses are a lack of stamina, weak transitions, and a habit for playing to the crowd a bit too much and pulling the audience out of the match. His former weaknesses, as little as a year to a year and a half ago, were everything. Basic timing on his comebacks (hope spots) and ultimate comeback were lacking. Focus of his offense was all over the place and his approach was halting he’d forget what he was trying to do and just throw moves together, becoming lost in the ring against all but the best opponents. He used heel maneuvers that didn’t quite make sense for his babyface character at the entirely wrong point in the match. In short, he did then what Bobby Lashley does now. To see how far he has come then, we need only look at two of Cena’s best opponents, who just so happen to match up well with two Lashley opponents.

The two best recent Cena matches were not the Benoit and Michaels matches, they were the Umaga and Michaels matches. Both matches check in at about ****, with Cena’s limitations preventing both from rising more. I don’t have either match on me, but anyone who’s seen these matches can speak to their relative quality. Their quality can be compared to matches with Rob Van Damn and Umaga. Rob Van Damn has been on a hot streak on ECW TV, putting on good matches with nearly everyone. He isn’t the worker that Shawn Michaels is, obviously, but since both Lashley and Cena are relatively green, the build to both was relatively simple. Guys like Bob Holly and Test were able to follow the same simplified formula of RVD to *** to **** matches, but the results Lashley got with the same formula were in the low ** range.

The second major opponent they both shared was Umaga. The Umaga matches from Lashley at Wrestlemania and on Raw were terrible. They were both under ** efforts with no build, flow, psychology and only a rudimentary story. Cena and Umaga at the Royal Rumble managed a **** match without anyone to “carry” the match in sight. A year back at Wrestlemania, with an experienced but limited opponent, Cena had a terrible match with JBL. Thanks to his hard work with Edge, Cena no longer has that type of match, even with a limited opponent like Umaga. He is not a great worker and likely never will be. He is an improving worker who can put together a proper match with proper build and drama, if limited to a predictable style. This is not him being great now, but he has certainly become good and able to perform at a higher level with better opponents than he was at this point last year. Whether you like Cena or not, his improvement as a wrestler is real. As green as he was, it would be hard to not improve to that point.

Now, that’s covered, another bit from Eric S., this time about Ring of Honor and our coverage thereof:

The item in question in that case is Mark Briscoe being released from the hospital after a big scare, where he had a seizure and was admitted to ICU for a while. Right now, Briscoe will make his comeback in a tag title match against Shelley and Sabin here in Chicago later this month…hmm, may have to ask Fingers to arrange another comp for me. The 28th is a Saturday, which means I’m not working. Well, if I can drive by that point, maybe I’ll go and help out Aaron in his quest to have the most complete ROH coverage of any wrestling site around and help out Gabe and Cary by bringing my six-figure audience to read about the goodness that they consistently bring.

A Modest Response: InsidePulse’s Ring of Honor Coverage

Andy Mac and myself cover pretty much ever Ring of Honor event in the northeast. Our website has a load of readers, the wrestling section particularly reaching a large audience. I’m not privy to the numbers, so I won’t pretend I know the exact or look bad by speculating, but from what Fingers and others have assured me our readership is anything but trivial. I’m reasonably sure due to the fringe nature of the product we cover, Andy and I get less hits than much of the site, particularly big names of the IWC that have loyal readerships like Scott Keith, Burnside, and, of course, Eric S. Others like Blatt and Grut are fantastic writers whose audience is constantly growing.

Andy and I are attempting a two man crusade to give you the best Ring of Honor coverage on the net. Several other sites have very good coverage, but employ at least one or two semi-literate writers who spew common nonsense at the expense of insight. If we did that, at the very least Eric S. would have our head on the Writer’s forum. With our readership and considering the internet basis of much of their business, we can have an actual impact on the product and growth of Ring of Honor as a company.

Most of our staff has seen at least some Ring of Honor. The New York shows, at least, generally have a good 5-6 writers in attendance. Another group of authors have seen at least some of the DVDs. Gabe and the other Ring of Honor heads have been more than generous in providing us tickets and DVDs upon request.

We, as a staff, voting Ring of Honor the promotion of the year based upon the limited viewing of much of the staff. We all know the product is one worth supporting. Andy and I are always available to provide background information and coverage on anything Ring of Honor related for our audience, but the amount of coverage we give the best North American wrestling product on the market, given what we think of it as a staff and how willing the company is to help us support them the amount of coverage we give them is sinful.

This is me calling out the staff of Pulse Wrestling. As Eric S. said, let’s get out and cover the product Ring of Honor produces. Instead of complaining about the same old mistakes and weak product WWE and TNA consistently thrust upon us (connotation intended), let’s try and make a difference with a better product that is readily available. Let’s get out to the shows. We have Midwest writers; we should have coverage at those shows. We have multiple people going to the northeast shows; we should have multiple perspectives on these shows. We can get the DVDs; multiple writers should be reviewing them, not just leaving them to the specialists. Let’s get the word out. Let’s disprove the notion that the IWC is self-sustained on negativity. Let’s get out and cover a product that deserves it.

Right now, the Pulse Wrestling staff are working on a series of features for the TNA 5 year anniversary. No one has any passion about it. You can tell from how it’s being discussed on the writer’s forum. This isn’t good. Ring of Honor just had it’s Five Year Anniversary. Where are the features? This is something we can have passion about. Something we can express passion for. Why spend the time and effort putting together a TNA special for a product so muddled they can’t figure out how to book a simple hour long show, but do nothing for a product that we reached consensus was the best promotion around?

I urge you readers, pick a favorite author on the site. E-mail them asking for more Ring of Honor, or other independent products, coverage. Let’s get the ball rolling as the hardest of the hardcore coverage for some products that we can make a difference for. We can affect change for the better, together, so, together, let us.

As I said in the openning, writers and readers, Drop me a line right here, comment on the forum, or even send me a message on AIM at HBK826 if you want more information, to help, to give me some feedback, or anything else I might be able to help you with.

See you next week for another edition of A Modest Response.

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