This is VS, the Inside Pulse feature where we take two writers and pit them against each other to answer five questions. I’ll judge the answers and we’re keeping score. Last week, we saw Eric S. defeat Andy Mac by a score of 3-2. This week we’re playing with Pulse Glazer facing off against Allen Noah.
Pulse Glazer is a Pulse Wrestling feature columnist, writing the weekly Friday Column, A Modest Response. His focus is the newly national Ring of Honor. Give him a whirl.
Allen Noah writes Campus Chatter about College Football and College Basketball when each are in session. Not only is Neil a great writer, but he was an intern at HWA and worked directly under Les Thatcher, making him quite well versed in all things wrestling, particularly the proccess behind booking.
1. Feces in a gym bag, a demeaning attitude towards the divas, a suspension for violating the wellness policy and recently getting kicked off the European tour. Randy Orton is a problem. What should the WWE do to handle him? He would be too hot of a free agent if they let him go and he’s a time bomb if he’s in the company. What should happen to Randy Orton?
Pulse Glazer: Randy Orton is what he has been for several years: a waste of talent who was given too much too soon. He is not a draw anymore than literally any superstar given his type of push would be. He was put in the hottest heel stable with one legend, Ric Flair and one other legend in the making, Triple H. He was pushed to the world title and kept at the upper mid-card beating major opponents and “killing legends.Ã¢â‚¬Â He is certainly over and has value to the company due to the credibility of his push. The thing about Orton is that he is absolutely lazy in the ring as evidenced by the fact that he is the king of the chinlock, he’s slightly above average on the mic, but certainly nowhere near the level of the other top carders like Edge, Cena and even Batista, and he’s not especially over despite his credibility. Randy Orton took a lot of time and energy for the WWE to build, but with that great build, he has done precisely nothing that a litany of other wrestlers could not. Just sticking to the current Raw roster so as not to spoil any other answers, Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Johnny Nitro, Carlito, Kenny, and even maybe Chris Masters could take the spot of Randy Orton with some time and care. Each of those mentioned above have just as good of a look, comparable mic skills, in ring skills and charisma to Randy Orton (once again, save perhaps Masters). If WWE did not have Orton at all, within 6 months to a year any one of these gentlemen and a myriad of others on Smackdown, ECW and in the indies, could completely replace Orton in his upper mid-card spot.
Orton is in the process of self-destructing. He really believes he is above punishment and rules apparently because WWE spent so much time building him up. Well, Orton should be cut due to his recent behavior. He’s on the path to self-destruction so why let him get their on your watch and have to pick up the pieces. Let him go. If he’s going to clean up, it’s always possible to resign him. If, by some long shot that possibility never arose again, he’s not that good of a worker or charismatic of a star that he’s going to make or break any competition with his presence and since, as we’ve already established, he can be replaced, what’s the loss?
Imagine Randy Orton in TNA. He might immediately turn around and be a success, but that’s hardly going to change the company’s fortunes. Kurt Angle, a once a generation talent, Sting, a major face for almost two decades, and Samoa Joe, the best independent talent of the past decade, cannot turn TNA around. What is Randy Orton, with mediocre skills in every facet of wrestling, going to accomplish? Fire Randy Orton. Punish these infractions and let a time bomb go to TNA. If he succeeds, it will be limited. If he implodes, at the price he will cost, he can cost TNA a huge amount of money.
The last reason to let Randy Orton go is to send a message. Orton was the company’s golden boy. Kicking him off the roster all but ensures smaller talents will be aware that they cannot get away with this type of behavior. When you are strict and consistent in your punishments, people learn what they can and cannot do. Orton can find out what TNA will and won’t tolerate. Everyone on the WWE roster will know exactly what line they cannot cross thanks to the WWE’s former golden boy.
Orton and his middle of the road act leaving cannot hurt the WWE because he is so mediocre in all the important areas of the business. Him being released could allow the WWE to save face, avoid future problems, potentially harm TNA, and allow them to set an example of what can happen when you don’t tow the company line. Goodbye Mr. Orton; you’re fired.
Allen Noah: Wait, I thought those things deserved a push? This question made me laugh at first because my friend and I have taken a liking to Orton because of all the above stories and because he is so unbelievably cocky and egotistical that we find it comical.
Anyway, Orton’s mic work leaves a lot to be desired and he is inconsistent in the ring. Aside from his size and lineage, he doesn’t have much else to offer. Having said that, he has no definable skill that makes him a necessary keeper.
If the WWE were to release him, there is no doubt he would be in TNA the day his no-compete clause expired. My only question is, would it matter? When Kurt Angle signed with TNA everyone acted as though the company was about to soar into new heights. Here we are a few months later and his presence could not be any more insignificant to the casual fan. If Kurt Angle couldn’t turn around TNA, are we really supposed to believe Randy Orton will?
My answer is yes, the WWE should release Randy Orton, Carlito and all of the other young superstars who have consistantly been in the dog house for various reasons. I spent a year in the locker room at Heartland Wrestling Association and from experience; there is no doubt in my mind that such behavior is going on because people continue to get away with it. Bad locker room behavior tends to be contagious and by getting rid of the cancers it would send a message to the locker room that said behavior is unacceptable. Chemistry is a key element in sports and sports entertainment and is essential when you are on the road 200 days out of the year with the same people. Letting Randy Orton go would be warning enough to the locker room but letting him go and watching him fail in TNA would be the ultimate statement.
Judge Blatt’s ruling: Apparently both guys think he should go and the wrestlers on the WWE roster should watch his humiliation on Spike TV rather than within their own locker room. It’s an interesting idea. On the other hand, I don’t know how much a paid suspension is a punishment. No one has reported if the suspension is paid or unpaid. If it’s paid, then it’s not punishment at all. Ask Carl Pavano about being paid to sit at home. It’s pretty difficult to judge this one because both guys have the same opinion that Randy Orton should be released and he couldn’t make that much of a difference in TNA because he’s no bigger a name than Sting, Christian, Samoa Joe or Kurt Angle. For the larger perspective on this, a point goes to Glazer for his mentioning of the other spoiled brats on the WWE roster. 1-0 for Glazer.
2. TNA’s booking situation seems to always be in flux and TNA constantly is moving men up and down the roster on a monthly basis. If you had the book, who would you move up or down the roster? Why?
Pulse Glazer: I’ll choose one man I’d move up and one man I’d move down on the TNA roster in order to allow for a clear presentation of the direction TNA is so lacking. First, the man I’d move down the TNA roster: Samoa Joe.
Samoa Joe had a special aura about him when his first push was ongoing. He was a clear top tier talent few could match in the ring and out of the ring he felt like a charismatic and special wrestler. Well, months of circle jerk booking have removed that aura and mystique from Joe. Now he’s hardly more than a faceless member of the horde in Angle’s battle against Christian. Well, it’s time for Samoa Joe to realize that publicly, he’s lost his way.
Samoa Joe should announce his return to the X-Division to rebuild himself and find the direction that he’s lost. Once in the X-Division Kevin Nash should take issue with Joe insulting the division that he created and Joe should be annoyed at the mockery Nash has made of all of his hard work. At a measured clip of one per month, Joe should take out each and every member of Nash’s horrible version of the X-Division. With no one on his side, this one man against the masses routine mixed with the phenomenal matches he can have with X-Division talent will both reinvigorate Joe and the X-Division in one fell swoop. The X-Division is what TNA has that’s different than WWE. Let Samoa Joe make it the crown jewel of the company that it once was and after he’s taken out the X-Division, he can move back up to the heavyweight division with a new purpose and his motivation and focus properly aimed at the NWA title.
The man that should be moved up the card is not a man, but in fact a team. That team is LAX. Kurt Angle is an American symbol and LAX has become so embroiled in their love of the gold that they have forsaken their original mission statement. That’s about to change. It’s time for LAX to become a main event stable by going after the American Icon, Kurt Angle. Let Kurt Search for partners and have most prove too frightened of the militant thugs or be beaten to a pulp by the brutality LAX can unleash. There don’t need to be titles on the line, but let LAX elevate to the top of the card and get the rub from Kurt Angle in the process by doing as their mission statement states: taking what’s rightfully theirs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the top spots on the card.
Allen Noah: I can honestly say that I would not move anyone up the ladder in TNA, at least based on the current booking. Russo and company have completely distanced the main eventers from the rest of the workers to the point that they are essentially on their own island. If I could pick anyone though not based on the storylines I would go with Homicide. Homicide has experience main eventing in ROH and I have always found his matches to be entertaining. I’m usually not a huge fan of hardcore wrestling but his matches that involve weapons always seem to have a great deal of psychology to them. I can envision him having a bloody feud with Christian which would do more to legitimize the title than anything Kurt Angle, Sting or Jeff Jarrett can do. Yes those guys have name value but their better days all appear to be behind them. Showing that Christian is willing to go to war for his title would up the value of the title and gain Christian a lot more respect from the casual wrestling fan.
As for who would I move down the roster, how about almost the entire main event scene? The one common theme behind every wrestling boom has been innovation. Hulk Hogan took America by storm with his comic book like aura, Ric Flair became a legend because of his stylin’ and profilin’ and Steve Austin, DX and The Rock helped usher in a new attitude like we had never seen before in wrestling. Repeatedly using the same old names of yesterday has never been a recipe for success and it will continue to be that way. People want to see something new. By constantly throwing Kurt Angle, Sting, Jeff Jarrett and whatever other familiar face at Christian is just an example of Raw and Nitro being recycled.
I know this is almost sacrilegious to say but I am also not a huge fan of Samoa Joe. Not to take anything away from his in-ring work because I think he is solid but he just lacks that “itÃ¢â‚¬Â factor. He may just need more time though.
Judge Blatt’s ruling: Bisman makes the better point that no one deserves to be elevated in TNA because of the over population of the main event scene and that old names don’t make new ratings. I’d like to see both suggestions move into the title picture, having Homicide vs. Samoa Joe headline a few house shows around the country (ha! TNA and house shows.) and build a large feud that leads to a string of title matches between the two. The score is tied 1-1.
3. With Jimmy Wang Yang, Jaime Noble, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Ace Steele, CM Punk and Colt Cabana on the WWE rosters and AJ Styles, Austin Starr, Christopher Daniels, Homicide, Jay Lethal, Samoa Joe, Alex Shelley, Low Ki in TNA, it seems like ROH is the breeding ground for the future of the WWE and TNA, if not the total future of wrestling. Take one current ROH talent and move them to each of the two big wrestling promotions. Why?
Pulse Glazer: Moving ROH talent to the big two companies is a practice that it seems has barely begun. Ring of Honor is a meeting point where the best independent talent in North America come to show what they can do against the other bests. More than one man from ROH will certainly be signed to WWE and TNA. Let’s take a look at who those men will be and why.
First, into WWE will come a man they recently released: Brent Albright. Brent was a victim of bad politics, being blamed for being like Chris Benoit when that was how he was booked and being hated for being a project of Heyman’s. Those who hated Albright have lost the powerplay for the control of WWE programming as evidenced by the renewed push of CM Punk. Albright is one man who, like Punk, the WWE will look at re-evaluate, and see great potential in. Albright is a very good in ring wrestler who looks convincing in his suplex based style. He has a great look and good size. Albright is even solid on the mic. If you haven’t had a chance, check out his OVW work against guys like CM Punk and see what he’s capable of. It’s available on sites like dailymotion.com. If you want something more recent check out his Tables Match with BJ Whitmer on The Fifth Year Festival: NYC DVD (link to my review of this here please). He’s a great wrestler who the crowd can legitimately get into. He’s a good talker with a good look and intensity. The WWE is just about to cut a major star, in Randy Orton, who isn’t better than Albright in any significant way but credibility with the fans. Hell, they’re both even homegrown WWE talent. Well, Albright, who was set to be a major player once as Gunner Scott, has now been seasoned on the road and not shown to be wanting. It’s time for the WWE to resign Albright and push him into being the legitimate upper card talent which seemed his destiny when he was lighting up OVW with CM Punk just a year and a half ago.
Once again, in TNA it is not simply one man that should be signed to help revive the company, but a tag team. That team is the Kings of Wrestling. The Kings of Wrestling, for those who don’t know, are Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli. Both are big men who the WWE has scouted (and in the case of Claudio signed) and are quality enough wrestlers to both carry independent promotions (they were tag champions in 4 major indies at once, an unheard of feat) as well as be booked regularly in major Japanese promotions. As a team they carry the outsider aura of the Outsiders, except both are great wrestlers who can work lucha, strong style, brawling and European style. As a major heel team that needs no mouthpiece thanks to Hero’s versatility they can add something TNA sorely lacks: big heels the fans can genuinely hate. The only major heel team in TNA right now is LAX and the fans really buy into them and cheer them more as tweeners. That’s why above I have them attacking the beloved Angle. They can be major heels that way, but that vacates the main heel spot in the regular tag division. That’s a spot the Kings of Wrestling deserve. Their cocky heel ways, cheating, awesome double teams, and great size (both are about 6’4Ã¢â‚¬Â) make them the perfect team to be chased by the various face teams the promotion employs. Their unique look ensures they stand out on the 60 minute adrenaline rush, their unique styles make sure they don’t get mixed in with other teams or other X-Division guys, their size ensures their credibility, and their cockiness ensures they get over. The Kings of Wrestling should be the Kings of the TNA tag division.
Allen Noah: I’m going to name drop here but I am going to go with two friends of mine from my HWA days in BJ Whitmer and Nigel McGuiness. Nigel just seems like he would be a good fit in the Intercontinental Title picture in the WWE (at least in a world where Santino Marella didn’t hold the strap). He is versatile enough that he would be able to get a good match out of Shelton Benjamin, Carlito and the rest of the crew that currently occupies the mid-card. He has a great deal of charisma, is technically sound and is a good locker room guy all of the things that the mid-card is sorely lacking. Just by placing him into that division the overall body of work would improve by association.
By process of elimination that sends BJ to TNA, a fate I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Whitmer isn’t past his prime so that immediately eliminates him from title contention and sends him to the X-Division. Whitmer has worked with many of those guys a bunch in ROH and on the Indy circuit so it would make for a very smooth transition. Aaron and I have actually discussed this in the past and we both feel that Whitmer may be best served in a tag-team role with a guy like Gregory Helms. Or is it Shane these days? I always forget. Anyway the question said that we have to send them to both promotions so for arguments sake Whitmer goes to TNA but I feel he would truly be better off in a tag-team setting in the WWE.
Judge Blatt’s ruling: Sorry guys. The two big wrestling promotions are Chikara and Chaotic Wrestling. No points.
A joke. Anyway, I tend to side with Bisman here because I don’t think that a tag team will really make an impact in TNA or in either of the big two as of late. I also don’t think that the WWE is going to resign Brent Albright so soon, and I don’t think that he’s going to sign with them so soon either. His stock can rise high in ROH and ROH could build him into their first legitimate star. I think Nigel has a real place in the Intercontinental division and while I support Neil’s reluctance to send anyone to TNA, Whitmer could fit in well there, but I’m more afraid to send anyone to either company as a tag specialist than I would be to send someone to TNA in general. Bisman is up 2-1.
Pulse Glazer: You may have dropped the ball on the Wrestlemania feature, Rob, but you’ve more than made up for it running VS for a touchdown. There are short nothing matches and there are bad matches in wrestling. Bad matches not only hurt the participants, they reveal the business and are difficult to watch. Well, this isn’t an actively bad match, but it hurt the business, was a pure ego driven move, a slow and boring match, and hurt the participants. The match? Well, it’s one that should have made your aborted Wrestlemania feature. The match in question is Triple H vs. Booker T from Wrestlemania 19. Booker T and Triple H was built around Triple H’s racism and feeling that black people, such as Booker T, didn’t deserve to be in the same ring with the white Triple H. Often a match with a build this tasteless will be relegated to the undercard, but not here. Here it was for the title and a Main Event. Because of that, at the very start this makes wrestling as a whole look bad.
The match itself was horribly boring. Triple H dominated much of it and neither man had any business letting a match like that be a major attraction of a card as big as Wrestlemania. Made worse is the fact that both men have been in great matches before and since, so that this abortion of a match stand out horribly. The slow and terrible match built slowly and eventually Triple H hit the Pedigree. After the move both men laid there for almost a full minute before Triple H made the cover for the three count. The fact that the move and pin were so separated exposed the business and made Booker T look terrible. The fact that the heel was clearly a racist and wrong, yet still won left a bad taste in everyones mouth. This hurt Booker T in that he was shown to clearly be below Triple H in kayfabe and turned practically everyone against Triple H who was at all in the IWC. The poor taste, approval of racism, boring match, damaging of both performers and business exposing ending created the perfect storm for the shittiest match in the most ways I’ve ever seen.
Allen Noah: I’m somewhat torn on an answer because I generally tend to enjoy train wrecks when it comes to wrestling. Put two guys in the ring who couldn’t work their way out of a paper bag and I could not be happier.
Just to answer this question though I will go with a mixed-tag match from Raw a few years back, Trish Stratus and Bradshaw vs. Jackie Gayda and Chris Nowinski. The match is almost a PSA on what happens when people appear on TV before they are ready. I’d say more but the video says it all.
Judge Blatt’s Ruling:While I support Glazer’s thought that the Booker T vs. HHH match at Mania 18 was boring and not very good by any standards (unless you’re talking Hereos of Wrestling standards, then it’s ***** all the way), I don’t allow suck ups to gain points. Bisman gest the point for bringing up a match that I remember I was watching with people who thought wrestling was stupid to begin with and I wasn’t winning any arguments watching that match. Point to Bisman, 3-1.
5. Sport or Sports Entertainment? Does this debate matter? Should wrestling be put in the same category as football, baseball and hockey?
Pulse Glazer: The difference between sports and sports entertainment is obvious one would think. Sports are a real competition to see which man or team has better skill and coaching at the game of chouse. Wrestling is a fixed entertainment set to mimic a sport, but build a story compelling enough around the winner of the contest so that the fact that it’s fixed entertainment does not matter. The mimicking of a sport takes athletes no less skilled than those that play a sport, but the intended result is entirely different. To an athlete in a sport the entire focus is on being as good as you can to win. In a wrestling ring, sports entertainment is built around telling as compelling a story as you can so as to emotionally involve the audience. The hook is different and the end result is never in question to the athletes. The sport part of the professional wrestling is in the training and athletic feats of the competition. The question of the outcome, however, is all in the minds of the fans in sports entertainment, not in a sport. In a sport the athletes work against each other to win a game. In sports entertainment the athletes work together to produce an effect. That really is what makes all the difference.
Allen Noah: Sports entertainment, without question. Wrestlers generally are in tremendous shape and have to be extremely athletic in order to pull off some of the things that they do in the ring on a nightly basis, but that does not make it a sport. Sports have standings and seasons, two things wrestling does not have. Plus, I watch a lot of sports and I can’t remember the last time someone from the crowd was called in to participate in a game and won a championship.
Could wrestling be considered a sport? Absolutely, but it would have to change a great deal. All of the necessary components are there to make it a sport, it just won’t ever happen. As a matter of fact I think a company would be far better off if they modeled itself in the same manner as a pro sports season. It would eliminate faulty booking and would lessen the possibility of inconsistent booking. WWE and TNA may be able to pull the wool over your eyes now because to them the past does not exist but with standings and record to look back upon, they would have no choice but to build from it. Plus I think it might be pretty exciting to see a younger wrestler have a good “seasonÃ¢â‚¬Â and watch his progression over time.
Judge Blatt’s Ruling: I think while Aaron would have a hard time calling Ring of Honor Sports Entertainment, the point goes to him because I wholeheartedly do not support the idea of a wrestling “Season”. I don’t like the idea of standings or really sportifying wrestling as a regular idea. I don’t mind for a gimmick or angle here and there, but I think it makes turning a wrestler who was jobbing around too difficult. The ability for them to forget the past is what helps angles move forward at times.
So thus ends another VS, which Allen Noah beating Pulse Glazer 3-2. I swear I’m not doing this scoring on purpose, it just happens to be going this way.