A Rather Splendid Wrestling Article

As the people who will read this column will soon find out, I am a man of very many words but few of them need be wasted in introduction. However, since I am new here, I will, at least, give the briefest of introductions – my name is Liam Burnside, erstwhile cousin of the infamous Mr Iain Burnside and I enjoy kayaking, 18th century literature, salsa dancing and Homicide. The wrestler, not the crime. I gave *that* up for lent.

Above all else, I enjoy wrestling, both watching it and performing it. I’ve recently begun training and these columns that will come straight to your desktop, or laptop if you are so inclined, each and every Friday will speak regularly of my progress in the ring and hopefully entertain, enthral and educate those who bother to read it about the process of turning an average and slightly overweight man into a viable in-ring participant.

I will also be taking an ongoing view of what is happening in the world of wrestling each week and offering my particular and often peculiar views on the subject matter.

So grab a beer, sit back and let’s talk wrestling!

An obvious point of discussion it might be but Night of Champions weaselled its way on to PPV this last week. I’d like to offer my tuppence on the booking and the delivery of the show. Lord knows, you can never have too many reviews on the Internet!

I have read elsewhere that the opening match between the Big Show and Chris Jericho against Legacy has been much maligned and I’m not quite sure why. I actually rather enjoyed this, although I did think that the first half of the match was, admittedly, a little clunky since the heel versus heel dynamic did not lend itself to a particularly interested crowd. Having the Big Show as Chris Jericho’s partner was about as good an outcome as they could have delivered in the wake of Edge’s injury. A lot of people were clamouring for usage of The Miz or Dolph Ziggler in the spot but I’m not certain that either would have worked. Let’s be honest, as much of an upside as both of these young men have, neither of them are anywhere near too close to the level at which Jericho currently resides. Yes, yes, I know – the Big Show has been an on and off upper-level guy for the best part of the last decade and has lost more conflicts than he has won but his size makes him an immediate threat and believable in the role, especially in a tag team where there is somebody else to carry a lot of the weight of the work. The interview after the match also worked nicely as it put Big Show across as an intelligent giant, which is by all accounts exactly what he is. There’s very little point putting him in the role of monster heel anymore because very few people actually buy it. We’ve seen him too much and too long to believe that he is a vicious monster so casting him as an overlarge athlete who just simply want to win championships and is not particularly concerned about the manner in which he does so seems to fit like a glove.

You have to give credit to all four wrestlers in this one because they managed to engage the crowd by the end of the match. The final few minutes were really rather exciting – and if you had told me a month ago that I would describe a match involving Big Show, Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase as anything close to exciting, I would have called you a preposterous liar, kicked you in the groin and then slept with your sister. Presuming that she’s attractive, that is. If she’s not, I would have kicked her in the groin too.

It doesn’t bode well that I am having trouble remembering what the second match of the night actually was but, after a fair old while thinking about it, I’ve realized that it was the ECW title match. As far as I’m concerned, Christian once again proved that he is far and away one of the most accomplished all-round performers on the roster and carried Tommy Dreamer to a passable and, at several points, enjoyable match. This is not to demean the performance of Mr. Dreamer, who has held his end up, for the most part, over the past few months in what surely must be his final run as an active, full-time wrestler. That said, the ECW title is much better slung over the shoulder of Captain Charisma and I actually quite like the idea of building the third brand around him for now and holding off on sending into one of the two main WWE shows until next year. Heck, why not even hold off longer than that? As good as Christian is, there are always going to be glass ceiling problems on Smackdown or Raw whereas on ECW, he can rule the roost and rule it in style. I think a series between him and William Regal has some serious viability.

The exclusion of the Big Show and the inclusion of Primo in the six-man US title clusterfuck made for a good executive decision. Whilst I was very interested to see how five other fellows were going to work around the Big Show’s obvious limitations, having a bunch of neo-cruiserweight in the ring provided me with several of my favourite things, namely spinning, twirling, flipping and jumping. Given my particular penchant for these activities, it should come as no surprise to the reader to learn that I am exceptionally supportive of Kofi Kingston and often think about buying him a small gift in appreciation of his superlatives efforts in the field of leaping and spinning. Nothing too fancy, but something like a teapot or ornamental bell, that sort of thing.

I’ve not seen much out of Primo since he arrived in the promotion but I was reasonably taken with what I saw in this match. Unquestionably, he is more motivated than his loafing brother and could well evolve into something special. Carlito is one of the ongoing mysteries of wrestling as to why somebody who seemingly has such a piss poor attitude still remains gainfully employed in a business where the promotion for which he works has absolutely no need to retain his services for fear of competitors one-upping them. Still, here he remains and we must continue to endure his shitty springboard moves. Seriously, he’s been a wrestler now for how many years? When Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles do a springboard, they leap into the ropes and bounce back off them whereas Carlito seemingly runs up to them, stops, jumps up to the middle rope and then bounces back in one very-not-fluid motion. It’s like watching Tajiri with brain damage.

The treatment of Jack Swagger and MVP continues to perplex me. I was under the impression that MVP, having elected to stop tormenting people who look at his cock, was in for the royal treatment and would finally be pushed up from the mid-card and into a viable position from which he could have a genuine crack at the main event. The man is adapting quite nicely to his new-found face status which I was initially concerned about, given that the essence of his character is very much heelish. Perhaps it will take one or two new moves and tweaks to elevate him because outside of his silly elbow drop, he’s not got much the crowd can interact with and I suspect here that interaction is the key. He needs a catchphrase or two outside of “Ballin’” and he desperately needs a new finisher that is not some form of hackneyed spinny thing involving far too many legs and arms. For a while, he was using a running kick to the face which I thought worked fantastically as it could be hit out of pretty much anywhere and it looked very effective but I suspect they have told him to stop doing this as it has been deemed too similar to Randy Orton’s punt of colossal death and ultimate demise. Which, by the way, is not *actually* a punt since he doesn’t kick with his toes – he kicks with the top of his foot and therefore it’s *actually* a volley. Anyhow, regards MVP’s kick, I can sort of see their point but not enough to agree with it. By the way, I’m talking about the kick that MVP did whilst his opponent was on the ground, not the one that he did with the person propped up in the corner. I didn’t like the one in the corner, at least not as a finisher. Either way, both are better than his playmaker thingy. I hate that move with a passion. Any move that puts the protagonist in a position where he is exceptionally off-balance is not believable in a sport that requires as much suspension of disbelief as possible. No doubt Bret Hart is somewhere out there shaking his head. Pah. Not real enough.

Swagger is an interesting character. I can understand why a lot of people are getting quite excited about the prospects for him but I personally think it’s far too soon. I understand that you don’t want to wait forever to bring such an imposing physical specimen up to the main roster but he just seems too green to me in most respects for me to get behind as a viable upper-mid card guy. The problem comes in that he is not believable as a lower mid-card guy either so they are in somewhat of a quandary. I’m against bringing a person in like they did with Brock Lesnar and then pretty much putting him over everybody on the roster but there is only so long that you can hold back on a guy like Swagger. Being honest, I think his current push is probably the right approach for him but I would have liked him to get maybe another year of seasoning in developmental so that he didn’t look so damn goofy all the time. And the two press ups in the aisle simply have to go… they do nothing to help matters.

The Miz is quickly becoming one of the WWE’s most forgotten men. It makes you realize why he is desperately trying to out-Twitter Chris Jericho since he’s got to do something to keep himself in the public eye. I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon that is suggesting that he should have been put over John Cena since I believe that such a suggestion is ridiculous but I will agree with the notion that he should have been allowed to at least look competitive with him. Again, he is a decent example of a new era in the WWE where mid-card guys are technically sound enough to get by and have enough character to be easily differentiate-able but everything is so markedly average beyond that that it becomes difficult to care. Miz, for example, has a couple of signature moves, the obligatory shitty mid-card finisher and a character that is definitely above adequate but could be so much more with that little bit of effort and commitment that WWE just does not seem prepared to give.

I would be very interested to hear the views of the readers on this one; who do you think has the most potential out of the current crop of mid card Raw competitors and how would you suggest elevating them in a way that is practical – and realistic considering the political situation within the WWE?!

I shall leave this subject for now and revisit the pay-per-view in my next article, discussing the current scene as it pertains to women’s wrestling and the WWE title race.

I shall also write the first of several sections talking about my ongoing training – I do hope that it will prove to be of interest to you all!

In closing, I’d like to encourage any readers who live in England to get out there and support the British wrestling scene. I’ve been to a few shows now and whilst they do, admittedly, range from really rather good to absolutely shocking, it’s not a particularly expensive night out and providing you choose the right group to go and watch, you will get your money’s worth and have a good time. Notably, for anybody living in the south of England, an organization called VPW (www.varsityprowrestling.com) is touring this next week and they are DEFINITELY worth a watch. They have none other than Bob “Hardcore” Holly on this tour and several of the Brits on their roster are definitely worth a look. They will be in Plymouth, Exeter and Portsmouth next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively and I would wholeheartedly recommend their production to any British wrestling fan – so give it a go and drop me a line afterwards to let me know what you thought!

Will offer some plugs and recommended reading around the Pulse next week once I’ve had a chance to settle in to my desk!

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