VS. #16 – Danny Cox vs. Matthew Michaels

Welcome back to the triumphant return of VS. This is a rare post by Inside Pulse Ring of Honor ghost Big Andy Mac. Duties in my regular life prevent me from adding to the best Ring of Honor coverage on the net, but I will occasionally be helping Mark Allen and Pulse Glazer in their judging duties.

This week Danny Cox tries to keep his winning streak going at the insurmountable number of 2 against Inside Pulse Guru Matthew Michaels.

Let’s see who will win in week 2.

Question One: How can Jeff Hardy be elevated for good? Should he be?

Matthew Michaels: “For good?” Define that. Assuming you mean “so that fans continue to buy his merch,” then he’s already there. If you mean “so that even smart fans psychologically see him as a legit world title contender,” I think he needs to win MITB. If you think even FURTHER than that, then he needs to win MITB and, assuming Randy retains the belt, be the man to finally unseat the dastardly legend killer, some time this summer. Jeff over Randy, clean, at Backlash? That’d do it.

Danny Cox: Jeff Hardy has impressed me incredibly since returning to the WWE. His workrate has improved tremendously. He is very entertaining in the ring and keeps a high pace in his matches at all times. He works his ass off and always takes the role of the underdog that you can’t help but root for to win the whole shebang. Considering how WWE publicizes it now and any wrestling website would blab it anyway, Jeff also seems to have kept his nose clean behind the scenes also. I honestly feel he has taken his rightful place in the main event scene and should stay there. He’s going to be the next Eddie Guerrero or Rey Mysterio and capture the title after a long battle throughout his career to get there and it will truly be an awesome thing.

Here is the problem that plagues Jeffykins though. He is missing something that both Eddie and Rey have/had in a big way. Ok, at least Eddie had in a big way and Rey can kinda do. Jeff is horrible on the mic. He can’t give a decent promo to save his life, and almost everything he says sounds a lot like the old eighties promos. He always mentions the fans, that he wants to win it for the people, and that he’s “not going down without a fight.” To make matters worse, his tone of voice doesn’t change. Listen to him; whenever Jeff wants to get a point across: he clamps his teeth together, speaks loudly through them, and over enunciates every other word. It is more annoying and childish then convincing. It is a big problem because the main event scene wrestlers need to be able to at least put a halfway decent promo. I loved the Orton/Hardy feud leading into the Royal Rumble, but it was missing the really great promos that Flair, Kennedy, Foley, or HBK could deliver to really up the ante.

This isn’t to say of course that a horrible promo giving, non-charismatic, green in the ring wrestler can’t be champion or at the main event level though. Look at what Lashley did, and Jeff only has ONE of those problems.

Big Andy Mac: So Matt didn’t really answer if he should be elevated, and Danny didn’t answer the “how” part in an excellent way. I have to give the edge here to Matthew Michaels, though. It is clear that he feels Jeff Hardy belongs on the top of the card and outlines a very believable way for him to reach the top and stay there. So Danny Cox goes in the hole to start.
Danny: 0 – Matthew: 1

Question Two: How can SmackDown! develop its own identity? Who
should their main guys be and how do they differentiate themselves
from raw light?

Danny Cox: Smackdown did a good thing by joining forces with ECW to help build up not only the roster in terms of size and feud possibilities. It may not have its own identity in terms of that, but it does help. But as long as Raw constantly gets all those coming back from injury/retirement and has constant crossovers to other shows, then it will always be the B-show and lurk in Raw’s shadow.

Let’s break it down shall we? Smackdown’s biggest talents (and I use that word loosely): Edge, Khali, Undertaker, Batista, Kane, MVP, Finlay, Mark Henry, and Rey Mysterio. That is essentially their main event scene. Not too bad actually, but then you look at this.

Raw’s biggest talents (again, loose definition): Triple H, HBK, Jericho, JBL, Umaga, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Cena, Carlito, Kennedy, and Snitsky. Big difference there just in name recognition alone. But then matters are made worse by Finlay and Hornswoggle (two Smackdown superstars) being involved in quite possibly the biggest angle on Raw every week. Then throw in Big Show returning and being on Raw. Throw on top of that the fact that Flair just appeared on ECW as other Raw wrestlers do frequently and that takes time and space away from SD/ECW guys for Raw superstars. No matter how hard they try, Smackdown just can’t win because it ends the week instead of beginning it; it is taped and therefore results are always known ahead of time; and the show is looked at as a B-show by the writers and therefore will always have a lesser roster and lesser storylines. It is doomed and always will be unless…UNLESS it goes to a live show like Raw every week. Give it that one thing and every table will turn.

Matthew Michaels: It already has its own identity: solid wrestling, more of a focus on tag teams, and way too many giants. It’s a good show that gets solid ratings, particularly when Rey Mysterio is on TV, but it’s RARELY a “can’t miss” show. That’s what I think the show can really improve upon. Stick with being the “wrestling” brand (with Raw being the “sportz entertainment” brand and ECW being the “younger, occassionally extreme-ish” brand), put all the good tag teams on Smackdown — in fact, put the entire tag division there and combine the belts — and focus on talent that’s no worse than Taker and Batista. MVP and Matt Hardy need to have their blow-off match for the U.S. strap, but once that’s over with, I’d get the belt off of Matt and have both of these two men in the World title race as soon as possible, and put the U.S. title on a midcarder. And cut some of the monsters. One or two on each show is plenty. Oh, and stop being afraid to feature non-world champions in main events. Take a page from UFC and feature different champions on different PPVs. If Smackdown can re-establish the tag division to the point where it can main event a PPV here and there — starting with a tag title unification match — that’d be a great start towards differentiation.

Big Andy Mac: This one is clearly Matthew Michaels. Danny does not even address all parts of the question. He talks about who the top stars are and not who they should be, while Matthew, again in fewer words, gives a well written plan for making Smackdown its own show and not just an obvious B show. Danny Cox is now in a “must win” situation on the next question.
Danny: 0 – Matthew: 2

Question Three: TNA is drawing better ratings than ECW. Is this an
actual victory, moral or otherwise?

Danny Cox: I don’t think this can really be looked at as a victory in true standards or even in a moral sense. “Yay we are getting better ratings then the WWE’s third show in only six years. One step down, let’s try and double our ratings in the next six years and beat out Smackdown now!” Right.

There are three main problems facing TNA right now: 1.) Vince Russo is their head booker and it truly beginning to show. 2.) The show is getting more and more boring every week and it is beginning to look like a recycled version of old WWE storylines that don’t want to be seen again. 3.) It is becoming WCW. That can in no way be a good thing. It has all of WWE’s castoffs, the storylines are horrible, and it is actually even recycling old WWE gimmicks on its current wrestlers. Come on now. You aren’t being your own entity and using the talent you have on your roster to build up a better promotion. TNA has done nothing but waste their opportunities since getting the two-hour show, and it is only going to continue. It may be getting better ratings then the C-show in WWE, but that’s all it will get. And competing with your main competition’s third rated show is not how you want to go into a battle.

Question Three: TNA is drawing better ratings than ECW. Is this an
actual victory, moral or otherwise?

Matthew Michaels: Who wrote this question, Kurt Angle? ECW’s ratings are still better. And no it wouldn’t be a victory. TNA needs to worry about converting a higher percentage of the couple of million people who watch the TV show into PPV buys. Beat a WWE PPV buyrate. THAT would be worth noting.

Big Andy Mac: TNA has beaten ECW on a couple of occasions, but on the whole a show that features names that certainly have been at the top of the business cannot regularly beat an ECW that has no “major stars” on a consistent basis. The only show TNA consistently beats is AM Raw, and that is only by 3/10 of a point. The point and overall victory goes to Matthew Michaels.
Danny: 0 – Matthew: 3

Question Four: Which ROH star could move to TNA or WWE and have most
success with their current gimmick and why?

Danny Cox: Having to choose one and having them go to one promotion, I’d have to go with the Briscoe Bros. moving to WWE. It’s not like the racial card hasn’t been played out before so the Confederate flag shorts wouldn’t be a big deal. The Briscoes have a mean streak in them that comes out with such violence and rage; it surprises me that Vince hasn’t already been drooling over these boys and gotten them under contract already. Not only are they good in the ring on a technical and creative basis, but they are just absolutely relentless when it comes to their opponents. It doesn’t matter who they are in the ring with; they’re going to put their bodies on the line no matter what the costs may be.

The Briscoes remind me of the Dudley Boyz from ECW. They are violent, don’t give a damn, and will slap their mother in the face right after they offer her a chair. The Dudleyz were huge when they got into WWE and were for numerous years, but when their act got stale as they got older…they were given the boot and are now boring people to death in TNA. The Briscoes are a young and fresh team that could put on some great matches against the Hardyz, Miz/Morrison, Rhodes/Holly, and even Deuce & Domino. It’d make for a great storyline there seeing the New York Greasers going up against the Redneck Confederates.

Matthew Michaels: Nigel. He’s got a great look, he wouldn’t look like a midget next to most WWE main eventers, his style is unique ENOUGH (but he’d be able to fit in while staying unique, like a Regal, rather than be forced to tone down too much, like some others have), and he can talk. I’d love him in WWE or TNA.

Big Andy Mac: The Briscoes have the style in RoH that may be least conducive to WWE. They could work in TNA if they wrestled LAX or MCMG every week. In WWE they would rot in development hell until they learned to put a match together without head drops and unsafe moves. Nigel on the other hand is probably the wrestler in RoH right now that could debut in WWE unchanged and get over in a fairly short amount of time. I have to give the fourth point to Matt Michaels. Can he make it a clean sweep?
Danny: 0 – Matthew: 4

Question Five: We recently saw the Elimination Chamber in full play
this past weekend. In your opinion what is the best gimmick match
used by any company? What are the traits of a good gimmick match?
Why has been successful? What is your favorite single gimmick match
ever?

Danny Cox: In my honest opinion, the ladder match would have to be the best gimmick match ever used by any company. It is one of the oldest and the quintessential gimmick that can see any wrestler from any time period get involved. The concept of it is quite simple. Something is hanging from the ceiling and the participants must incapacitate their opponents enough to get plenty time to scale the ladder and retrieve said object. It can be graceful, brutal, thought-provoking, strategic, and edge of your seat insane.

A good gimmick match is one that can add a bit of suspense or excitement without overdoing it. In the case of the Elimination Chamber, it is a big fanfare and works because it is still simplistic. TNA has faulted gimmick matches by adding way too many rules and stipulations that honestly make things too confusing. I find it hard to follow along with what is happening and can never quite understand who needs to do what in order to win until all is said and done. Same goes for the God awful Kennel In A Cell match from years ago and the stupid Punjabi Prison match. Too many rules and too much going on to enjoy it leisurely.

The ladder match is so simple that it should be insulting or boring, but it’s neither. Anyone can get involved and make it fantastic: Ramon/HBK, the Money In The Bank matches, 3 Count/Jung Dragons, Jeff Hardy/Undertaker, Jericho/Benoit, and even Flair/Edge. It adds excitement and weaponry all at the same time. It adds strategy and violence together. Sure it has a downfall in that the wrestlers sometimes have to do the “slow climb of doom” in order to have their opponents get up in enough time to set up a spot, but a lot of the better wrestlers work around that too. Anything can happen, the brutality will reach new levels, the spots just get crazier, and the tension will mount every time someone steps foot on that third rung from the top. Not to mention that the sunset flip off the top of the ladder will never get old. And if you’re looking for one of the best ladder matches to ever see, then check out Chris Benoit versus Chris Jericho from the 2001 Royal Rumble. That my friends is a lesson in ladder excellence.

Matthew Michaels: The Royal Rumble is and always will be the best gimmick match. It’s simple to follow, high in drama, not overly convoluted or dangerous, and carries a PPV on its OWN year in and year out. My favorite gimmick match ever, however, was the TLC on Smackdown, May 24, 2001, where Benoit & Jericho beat Edge & Christian, the Hardyz and the Dudleyz.

Big Andy Mac: Danny’s answer is his most well thought out and well written in this game of VS. Matthew is short sweet and entirely correct in his response. I agree with Matt that the Royal Rumble is the best gimmick in history, but I have to give the final point here to Danny for really going above and beyond.
Danny: 1 – Matthew: 4

I guess that gives the win to Matthew Michaels this week. He will be back to defend his crown next week on VS.

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