VS. #19 – Jake Mulligan vs. Steve Murray

Can Jake Mulligan grow his hot streak to 4-0 in VS. competition or will Steve Murray put a stop to the juggernaut and make everyone see “The Bright Side”?

Hello to one and all out there in Internet-land. Pulse Wrestling’s own special brand of quiz show, VS., is back once again. This time defending champion Jake Mulligan returns, looking to go 3-0. His opponent is recent returnee to the Pulse Wrestling staff, Mr. Steve Murray. By now you guys know the deal, five questions, I decide who had the better answer and we go from there.

And once again, I am Mark Allen back as your host and entertainment for the evening. Alright, let’s make like Buck Zumhoffe and rock & roll.

Question One: WWE does good things at times, but usually for PR reasons and still doesn’t help a lot of former employees, or even many current who are clearly on the gas. Given what we know, is it moral to support them?

Jake Mulligan: It’s just as moral to support them, if not more moral, than it is to support any other wrestling promotion. I mean, people are going to have to come to terms with the fact that this is a dirty, dirty, business. And people everywhere are going to be on the gas. Have you seen CIMA lately? Don’t think steroids are just a WWE issue. They’re in the indies, they’re in Mexico, they’re in Japan, they’re everywhere. The fact is, WWE has done a lot more to stop this personal choice than any other promotion perhaps in the world with all their programs, so supporting them may be the most moral choice you can make.

Steve Murray: Just after the Benoit tragedy last year, I announced that I was quitting my regular column, “Look on the Bright Side”, and would not be supporting WWE until they changed their policies toward wrestler health and drug issues. Since that time, the SI article came out, and WWE has instituted the policy of helping any of their current or former wrestlers with drug issues, which I felt was, yes – primarily PR-driven, but I don’t care. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me *why* WWE would be doing something helpful,
just so long as they are. The fact that they also seem to be implementing a “concussion management program” is also great news.

No drug-testing program is every going to catch every single user – the NFL and MLB has infinitely more money to spend, and they certainly aren’t catching everyone. So, is it “moral” to support your favorite NFL team? Do you think that 6’3″, 255 lb linebackers that can run a 4.8 40 are “natural”?

My problem with the WWE wasn’t the fact that there was steroid use – it was the fact that nobody cared about it, and the attempts to do anything about it were pathetic. Any pro athlete, wrestler or linebacker or pitcher, who wants to gain an edge however they can, will find a way to do so. Now that WWE seems to at least be
trying cut down on the drug use, I think sports fan can watch Raw without feeling guilty.

I think both men really had solid answers. Jake brings up the fact that steroids aren’t just in WWE, but in the wrestling world in general. Murray brings up the same argument by comparing WWE to legit sports organizations like MLB or the NFL. I’ve got to give the edge to Jake on this one just for the idea that he brings up that wrestling is a “dirty, dirty business.” That line made a laugh a little. Plus Jake is a big supporter of wrestling not named WWE so I give him credit for giving WWE some love for their recent improvements..

Jake: 1 – Steve: 0

Question Two: Will WrestleMania exceed the 1.4 million buys that WWE is internally hoping for?

Jake Mulligan: Look, I’m not big into following the business side of wrestling (kinda ruins my enjoyment) or WWE in general, but I’ll just say no. Celebrities are a big draw on TV, but no ones paying $60 to get a look at a celebrity, so they ain’t helping. The Mayweather angle wasn’t hot and had to be reorganized halfway through so no help there. And then none of the title matches had a special buzz that you don’t normally have at WrestleMania. So ya, 1.4 million sounds high, I say they don’t get it.

Steve Murray: Well, honestly I don’t care – business is business, and their bottom line doesn’t affect me at all.

But I don’t think they will. The wrestling audience is what it is nowadays, and that’s certainly not large enough to get to 1.4M by itself. So, I have to believe that they are banking on MSM exposure from the Mayweather/Big Show match pulling up numbers. But again, I think they miscalculated. Mayweather just isn’t a big enough name outside of the boxing world (a la Tyson) to pull in casual fans, and many of the boxing fans who do know about him fall into one of two categories: 1) true hardcore fans who think wrestling is a joke, or 2) people who think Mayweather is kind of a dick. And I don’t see enough people from that second group shelling out 60 bucks just to see Mayweather potentially get chokeslammed.

Both men acknowledge that they aren’t big fans of following the business side of wrestling, which I appreciate their candor. They both agree hat the 1.4 million number is also high and that WWE won’t reach that figure. I also appreciate Jake admitted that he isn’t a big fan of WWE in general. But Steve really brought up a good point about how WWE was banking on the Mayweather-Show match to bring in those numbers and that true boxing fans probably wouldn’t be converted into buyers of WrestleMania. Essentially their answers were quite similar but Steve had the more solidly constructed, detailed answer.

Jake: 1 – Steve: 1

Question Three: How should CM Punk use his newly won Money in the Bank Championship shot?

Jake Mulligan: As much as the net loves him, it seems CM Punk is not yet ready for a World Title. So here’s what I’d do. Put him on SmackDown, and give him a push to the upper midcard. Eventually, have him use it to challenge Undertaker, preferably in Chicago, and if possible, on RAW (push it as a special attraction) so the most possible people see it. Make it the main event, and have him come as close as humanely possible without actually winning. This will hopefully mint him as a main eventer, then, next time you have a strong heel champ (Edge, Orton, a turned Cena, whatever), by that time he should be ready and you push him to take the belt then, now that he got a huge rub from Undertaker.

Steve Murray: Definitely *NOT* for the ECW title. That accomplishes absolutely nothing for the company, or for Punk’s character.

He definitely has to go after one of the big two. Hopefully, the rumors about him going to WWE after the next draft are true, even though that doesn’t lock him into chasing the World title. Ideally, I’d like to see him turn heel, and go after either Cena or Triple H, after they’ve won the title in some brutal match like the Elimination Chamber. But apparently, his merchandise is selling too strong. So, here’s my ideal situation:

Triple H turns heel. Cena beats Triple H for the title, and a match between Cena and Triple H seems obvious. At the end of Raw, Cena is having his rematch with Orton, when Triple H comes out and gives both of them a Pedigree, ending the match. As Triple H walks to the back with a big smirk on his face, Punk appears, quickly hands over his briefcase to the ref, picks Cena up, delivers the GTS – 1-2-3. Trip is left standing at the top of the ramp with his mouth hanging open, Cena is out cold, Orton is confused – Punk is celebrating. The next PPV is either a Triple Threat or Fatal Four Way, then Punk can transition into a feud with Triple H, and Cena and Orton can feud for a while. The next 6-9 months let the main event circle amongst these four.

I understand where Steve his coming from with his fantasy scenario, but I just don’t see it happening. Plus the way he described was direct rip off of how Edge cashed in both of his briefcases, and I’d like to hope that WWE is more creative than that when it comes to Punk’s championship chase. I see where Jake is coming from with his storyline, but it seems like the exact thing they did with Jeff Hardy against Undertaker back in 2002. I did like that Jake had Punk not win the Championship during his cash-in, as it adds some unpredictability to Money in the Bank. I also appreciated the effort Jake went into explaining the scenario, putting it live in Chicago, but I fear that if Punk doesn’t win in his hometown it would just burn out the hot crowd.

Jake: 2 – Steve: 1

Question Four: On the indies, people regularly cheer whomever they want, regardless of face or heel alignment. Is this acceptable? Why or why not? Who are the best heels and faces at getting the desired reactions?

Jake Mulligan: Of course this is acceptable. People pay their money to come watch the show, to cheer their favorites, who is anyone to tell them who is “acceptable” to cheer? If I go to see the Red Sox in Toronto, I’m not going to cheer the Blue Jays because it’s the “acceptable” thing to do. If people cheered exactly who the bookers wanted, and fans were just a huge herd of sheep, we’d have Jeff Jarrett: TNA Champ for all of eternity, and say, fan favorites like Austin would have never risen up in the 90’s, because Diesel and Sid would be dominating. Fans NEED to react how they want to dictate where the promotion is going, and without that, how would anyone know how to make the fans happy?

As for people who are amazing at getting the desired effect, theirs a few on the indies right now, I’ll throw one out there for face and heel. El Generico, as a babyface, is amazing. His gimmick just appeals to everyone as a fun loving happy Canadian luchadore. And the man sells a beating so well, and can bump like a fiend. I truly don’t think I’ve ever seen him booed by anyone, ever. As for the other end of the spectrum, Eddie Kingston’s work in CHIKARA has been amazing as far as heel work, and those crowds boo him 100% of the time. He is just this big bully beating down all the poor luchadores, while cutting amazingly intense promos, and mocking Lince Dorado’s near death experience. So ya, somebody, anybody, put together Generico vs. Kingston. NOW!

Steve Murray: Of course it’s “acceptable” – people are going to cheer whoever they want. I actually interviewed Kevin Steen about this backstage at an ROH show once – his answer was, “Hey, as long as they’re reacting, I don’t care how.” Besides, I’m from the Philadelphia area, which has been cheering or booing anyone, heel or face, since the 70’s.

The best heels make you want to watch somebody beat the living crap out of them – and you don’t even care whom. And, they have to be able to bring this reaction out of you, whether in the ring (by cheating to win, beating your favorite wrestler, etc.) or on the mic. The ideal heels back in the day where the big stables who existed simply to keep the title on the champ, such as the Four Horseman or the first incarnation of the nWo. We don’t really have anything comparable to that nowadays, and there are very few “true” heels anymore.

Currently, most of the best true heels seem to be in the indies, such as Chris Hero and Jimmy Jacobs, who both can really bring out the crowd’s wrath with minimal effort. The best heel in the WWE is probably JBL (I am disqualifying Orton because of his distinctive lack of mic skills, and Edge because he still gets cheers against anyone but UT). And Morrison and the Miz have, surprisingly, turned their characters into very effective cocky heels.

And, we have the same issues with faces – there are very few “true” examples left anymore, since the crowd always turns on the virtuous hero (e.g. John Cena), while the cocky faces have too many heel tendencies (e.g. Triple H). In WWE, the Undertaker is bringing about the best true face reactions – the marks love him, and the smarks have enough respect not to boo him. Sting has been a face his entire career, and Nigel McGuinness is probably the best true face working the larger indies right now.

They both say that it is acceptable to cheer or boo whomever you want and I wholeheartedly agree with them in that regard. As for the rest of the question, Jake just nailed it beautifully. He brought up a face who gets cheered and a heel who gets booed. Steve brought up too much WWE stuff for my liking, as I was looking for a more indy-centric answer. Plus Nigel has recently become a true heel in Ring of Honor, and Sting has played heel in a couple different runs, first in his early career in Mid-South and again in 1999 against Hogan.

Jake: 3 – Steve: 1

Question Five: If Samoa Joe beats Kurt Angle for the TNA World Championship, will it matter? Why or why not? Editor’s note: This question was asked and subsequently answered before TNA Lockdown aired.

Jake Mulligan: Of course it won’t matter, it’s TNA. Let’s go over things that didn’t raise their miniscule buy rates in any way. Sting, one of the biggest names of the 90’s. Numerous mystery WWE debuts. Massive ridiculous gimmick blow offs after never ending feuds (sup Elevation X). Promised title changes. KURT ANGLE, Olympic Gold Medalist and basically a household name as far as wrestling is concerned, debuted and popped one buy rate. Do you think Samoa Joe, who still isn’t that big a name, and whose work has rapidly declined recently, finally winning the belt three years after he got hot is gonna be the thing that turns them around? Who knows of Samoa Joe that doesn’t watch already, indy fans? If they don’t watch now they’re not gonna randomly start cause some dude is carrying around a belt now. The storylines aren’t gonna stop being ridiculous because Joe’s champ. No, the only thing that could matter at this point is a complete product overhaul, and a simple belt switch isn’t gonna get that done.

Steve Murray: No, because TNA could not book themselves out of a wet paper bag.

I loved Steve’s simple and effective answer. It made me laugh out loud. Jake was saying the same thing but took the time to explain to in more frustrated detail. I do have to give the edge to Steve here just for implied sarcasm and disdain included in the answer.

Jake: 3 – Steve: 2

Jake continues his hot steak. With his victory he’s now running 4-0 during this VS. relaunch. Is he paying off the judges or is he just putting out solid and consistent answers? Tune in to find out the answer to that question and many more in the next edition of VS.

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