VS. #17 – Matthew Michaels vs. Jake Mulligan

Welcome back to VS. – The Comeback, as we are now deep into Week 3 of our return experiment. I am a little excited that we’ve made it three consecutive weeks on this comeback. Congrats to everyone involved in that. Pulse Wrestling’s main go-to-guy Matthew Michaels is looking to extend his streak to 2 this week. His opponent? Our resident puro “young boy” Jake Mulligan. These two definitely represent a clash of styles in regards to the Pulse Wrestling staff. Let’s see what kind of mayhem they can cause this week.

And once again, I am Mark Allen back as your host and entertainment for the evening. Ryan Seacrest I am not, but we’ll make do with what we’ve got.

Question One: No question about it, Ric Flair is a legend in this business. He has battled every big star in the wrestling industry. What in your opinion is Ric Flair’s greatest rivalry, based on in-ring quality, promos, crowd heat, longevity and any intangibles that come into play?

Matthew Michaels, Reigning VS. Champion: Pass.

Jake Mulligan: In my opinion, Ric Flair’s greatest rivalry is undoubtedly Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. You want in-ring quality? How about 3 of the finest matches ever seen, and some that didn’t air, which Flair referred to as “the best of the series”? The feud itself, as well, is perfect. Ricky the family man who brings his son to the ring, vs. Ric the playboy, with the limos and the jets. It raged on over years, and was so successful Ric had to be turned face afterwards, for another legendary feud with Terry Funk. Plus, it’s late 80’s NWA, so you know the crowds are nuts. Steamboat is Flair’s greatest rivalry bar none, it was never topped.

Mark Allen: MM takes a pass on this answer so I’ve got to with Jake by default on this answer. But his answer is pretty solid. I mean who doesn’t love a good Flair-Steamboat match?

Matthew: 0 – Jake: 1

Question Two: Ring of Honor announced recently they will be running in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on May 10. That venue holds about 3000 people, which is quite a step up in attendance for usual Ring of Honor shows. What should they do to sell it out that’s within their means?

Matthew Michaels: TNA just sold out a 3000-plus seat venue on Long Island, so I don’t think this will be difficult with ROH just “doing what they do.” Sure TNA has Kurt Angle and other stars that have national television exposure, which is definitely a leg up…but its fan base is NOTHING compared to ROH’s in terms of rabidity (assuming rabidity is a word). Ring of Honor fans know how important of a step-up the move downstairs is in the Manhattan Center, and they will make sure to bring friends, spread the word, and pack the place. I think rather than talk about this in terms of what should it do, the key question is what does ROH have to make sure it DOESN’T do to turn those loyal fans away? One example is the much-talked-about Larry Sweeney/Allison Danger angle from the latest ROH NY show. I haven’t seen it, but obviously the implications of molestation (or worse, sexual assault) have caused enough of a backlash that ROH and head booker Gabe Sapolsky have publicly apologized for letting it get as far as it did. Gabe’s solid connection to his fans will probably allow ROH to move on from it…but they have to be extra-careful not to do anything to hurt the trust that’s been built over the past six years.

Jake Mulligan: ROH is going to have major trouble selling the building out. Some have suggested using major Japanese stars. I disagree, as one of the biggest, Misawa, hardly got 1300 in the door, as it did not “sell out” till the night of the show, and no one was turned away. Also, a stacked card ain’t gonna do it, as ROH just ran the biggest match it had, Dragon vs. Nigel, and again barely sold out 1300. 1300 is clearly the max for regular ROH fans in NYC, so they need someone with American Name Value who will bring in non-ROH fans. They need someone on TV as a major star, or who has a lasting legacy. The ROH crowd in the area is maxed out, so they need to focus on people who will come based on someone not in ROH. At this point, I feel it could be done by Samoa Joe, who would bring in TNA fans en masse, Rob Van Dam for the WWE fans, or MAYBE AJ Styles, who could also bring in TNA fans who don’t give ROH a chance. Also, I’d do a mass advertising blitz, with fast paced, ECW style ads during WWE and TNA programming in the area. No matter what, selling the building out will be an uphill battle for ROH.

Mark Allen: I don’t MM really answered the answer to the best of his abilities. He just brushed it off saying that they could sell it out “doing what they do” but then brought up how TNA drew 3000 fans thanks to the likes of Angle and other big stars. Jake took it a step further and brought up the thought that ROH is going to need a mainstream star to fill up the seats not taken by ROH regulars. His ideas of Joe, RVD and Styles are good options without going overboard, but I question his notion about the media blitz when ROH has been under a little financial crunch lately.

Matthew: 0 – Jake: 2

Question Three: TNA has been accused a lot lately of misusing a lot of their talent. Who, in your opinion, is the most misused or underutilized talent on their roster?

Matthew Michaels: This depends on what you mean by “misused,” I guess. My gut reaction to the question is Samoa Joe, since around a year ago this time, he had quite a bit of momentum behind him (and was still undefeated) and instead of putting the World Title around his waist, TNA’s creative team wasted the opportunity to push a true home-grown superstar to the moon. So in the “missed opportunity” category of “misused,” my answer is Joe.

Then again, you can also take this question to mean who has been used incorrectly or in a way that’s been detrimental to his/her character. My answer there is of course A.J. Styles, but even that’s not a black or white answer. Sure they’ve made his accomplishments as a three-time World Champ (and one of TNA’s only triple-crown champions) the butt of a joke by the way they’ve booked him as Kurt and Karen Angle’s lackey… but then again, I thought he was (out of the ring) quite bland before this ridiculous booking provided him an opportunity to show that he had a lot more RANGE as a character than anyone ever thought he had. Was A.J., NWA Champion, used better when the much-taller Vince Russo was booked as his manager?

Then there’s the underlying question: who would be so much better off only for better booking? I think that one’s not as obvious an answer, but something worth thinking about: Robert Roode. The guy isn’t perfect, but he’s a good worker, decent on the mic, and had — up until recently — a great character being developed. Unfortunately, TNA hasn’t pulled the trigger, and it doesn’t look like they will. He went from a nondescript member of Team Canada to a really cool Randy Savage/JBL hybrid, seemingly joined the Angle Alliance (only for that to be forgotten), had the beginning of a good feud with Booker T and then… it all stalled for him.

I guess time will tell if TNA has the balls to pull the trigger on someone new — which is really the biggest “misuse” of talent on an overall basis — or if they continue to just trade wins between former WWE/WCW stars while the promotion runs in place.

Jake Mulligan: The most misused talent to me, is without a doubt AJ Styles. You can say ROH made Joe, WWE made Christian, but AJ is 100% a TNA product. He should be their signboard player, but instead, he’s Angle’s flunky at best and doing comedy angles while Angle does Ankle Lock festivals in the main. AJ is one of the best in the world, watching TNA clusters like Lockdown and KOTM, he clearly comes off as a level above everyone else. And his Tanahashi match in Japan recently showed he can work heel, get heat, AND have great matches without resorting to overkill. The man should be on everything TNA does, but he’s lucky if he’s featured in the background.

Mark Allen: Both men brought up the idea of AJ Styles being the most misused or underutilized talent. They also both make mention of Samoa Joe as well. Matthew also had a really good point about Bobby Roode and how booking could help him greatly, but from a personal standpoint I think Kaz and James Storm could also fall into the same category. However Jake brought up how AJ could still be an entertaining heel character and still put on good matches. I’ve got to go with Jake again, putting him over already at 3 – 0.

Matthew: 0 – Jake: 3

Question Four: Was the JBL-Hornswoggle angle from RAW last week in bad taste? Why or why not?

Matthew Michaels: Nah. If Dylan Postl was 12 years old or something, sure. But a big guy beat up a little person… happens all the time in wrestling and isn’t really “in bad taste” per se. It’s just kind’ve lazy. (Although, if JBL’s big reveal makes the story of “Vince’s bastard child” more interesting, it was worth it.)

Jake Mulligan: NO, I don’t feel it was in bad taste. It did not play off any real events that may offend people, and the whole point of midgets in Pro Wrestling is to take extensive beatings. It got JBL over as a heel, and was just slightly worse than JBL killing Cody Rhodes, and who would have cried over that? Hornswaggle is a loved character, and it’s time to use that to get a heel over. Quite frankly, it was no worse than what you see from WWE every week, so I have to say it was in fine, “normal” taste.

Mark Allen: Neither man got into a real uproar about the beating of Hornswoggle and I frankly echo both their sentiments. I don’t agree with Jake putting Hornswoggle on the same level as Cody Rhodes, because sadly the leprechaun is way more over and more useful to WWE right now than Rhodes is. I liked how MM pointed out that this would’ve only been bad if Hornswoggle the person was actually a kid, as they seem to portray him as being young and child-ish, as opposed to just little. Plus I liked his thought that it was just kind of lazy booking.

Matthew: 1 – Jake: 3

Question Five: The Money in the Bank ladder match has quickly become a WrestleMania institution. As of this writing, Jeff Hardy, Mr. Kennedy and Shelton Benjamin have qualified for the match. Who else should be in Money in the Bank? Why? Who should win? Why?

Matthew Michaels: As I answer the question, Chris Jericho is also in, and well-deserved since I really don’t want to see him face Bradshaw again and there’s no other obvious match to book him in at Mania. He’ll be able to shine in the MITB match vs. Jeff Hardy, Ken Kennedy, Shelton Benjamin and the others, and I’m looking forward to it. So which other four should be added? Hmm… Let’s look at the current (non-spoiler) Mania line-up:

  • Orton vs. Cena vs. Hunter
  • Edge vs. The Undertaker
  • Floyd Mayweather vs. The Big Show
  • Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels
  • Umaga vs. someone from Smackdown
  • Maria & Candice vs. Beth & Melina

Last year’s show had eight matches, and seven are already booked for WM XXIV. I can see some combination of MVP vs. Matt Hardy, JBL vs. Finlay and/or an ECW Championship match being added to the card, and in fact… with not much time between now and Mania to properly build up to the Hardy/Porter match-up, an ECW match is probably the best way to go. So let’s add MVP and Matt Hardy to the Money in the Bank, bringing the total to three from Raw and three from Smackdown/ECW. MVP is the U.S. Champion, but has been wrestling the big-boys lately, and quite frankly is on the same level as Kennedy and higher on the totem pole than Benjamin. Hardy is his natural rival, and bringing him back for MITB is a nice way to put him back in the mix, re-start his feud with Porter, and tease stuff with his brother.

The other two? I want Punk in an ECW Title match so I’ll skip him for this one. Batista’s “above” this match. I think WWE might end up putting Finlay and Bradshaw in here if they feel there isn’t enough time to do their own match (although if Vince is involved, I can easily see something like Finlay/Hornswoggle vs. JBL/Vince), but this isn’t about what WWE will do; it’s about what I think should happen. So… I’d add Stevie Richards, to continue his impressive come-back from multiple surgeries. He won’t win it, but there’s a strong storyline there (the ultimate finish to his come-back is getting a chance at the ECW belt) and he can work well with the others while bringing a fresh face into the mix. From the Raw side, the best choices are Brian Kendrick and Paul London. Both are great workers, fun high-fliers, and would add an element of “ya never know what’s gonna happen” to the match. That said, I’m a realist, and there’s no way either of these two, in the current position, should be in world title contention (down the road perhaps, but as I explained above in my Hardy/Porter commentary, I think pacing is important). So here’s my eighth entrant into Money in the Bank: Ric Flair. Have Flair beat Michaels in a classic match-up, perhaps by cheating, then enter the match (either someone could be in it and “get hurt” or bow out due to respect for Flair OR that eighth spot can be left open for whatever reason OR better yet, Vince can be so mad that Flair won, he can put him in the match saying that he has to win with the odds stacked against him or he’s done)… AND WIN IT. Flair then challenges new WWE Champion HHH to end the show. Why? Because it would make for a much memorable moment to end Mania on than yet another Taker or Hunter title win…

…and who knows? Maybe then I can answer Question 1 with “Flair vs. HHH.” 😉

Jake Mulligan: We now have four competitors in MITB, all who fit in quite well. We have 3 RAW guys and one ECW, which leads me to believe we’ll have one more ECW, and three SD guys. I feel the following men would fit into the match well: Elijah Burke, whose explosive nature could make him a name and fit well into the match, Colin Delaney, who deserves a spot on the show and could take some huge bumps, and finally SD’s tag champs MorriMiz, who could use some great tag moves with a ladder and build a program with two people through the match. The winner should undoubtedly be Jeff Hardy, who can overcome taking a huge bump early to rally the crowd behind him and take the win. With his momentum you shouldn’t risk a thing by having him lose, and you know he’s getting another shot soon so you might as well let him name when, where, and what type of match…as a Ladder Match would allow him to win the belt he deserves while protecting the defending champ by not pinning them.

Mark Allen: Jake’s answer here is tight, concise and too the point and I commend him for that. MM goes into booking for the rest of the show, which was nice, but unneeded for this question. But I give MM credit for being cheeky at the end of the answer and implying that maybe is answer for question one is Flair-Triple H.

Matthew: 1 – Jake: 4

Good effort from both our contestants today, but Jake really knocked this one out of the park early. So that means our resident puro expert Jake Mulligan will be back next week to defend his newly-won crown and see if he can be the first to actually retain the title in his first defense.

For everyone else this Mark Allen, I would like to thank you all for stopping by and good night.

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