1) Night of Champions, the One Match Show
My turn to add to the never-ending discussion about the booking of Night of Champions and the following Raw, and the way the title is being held up. I can see positives and negatives in what they are doing, but the main thing I think many people are missing is that this story-line has everyone talking again. They have managed to get the public – from young kids to jaded old guys and everyone in between – invested in a story about a little guy who is wrestling like a demon and a tattooed guy who has been phoning it in for a long time, overseen by an authority figure who has a reputation of doing what’s best for himself and not business. We all hope the blow-off is not going to burn us, but, somehow, they have us interested and invested.
They have given us Daniel Bryan, wrestling machine, but with a personality. He has now defeated Cena and Orton cleanly (the fast count didn’t matter, not really – he had Orton beat) and so we, the fans, know he can win and can defeat anyone. We also have HHH abusing his power, so we, the fans, know Bryan is up against it, no matter how good he is. And we have Randy Orton who is starting to get his full-on nasty heel persona back to act as the perfect foil to the wrestling machine, some-one who will do anything it takes to win. We are invested, and, to their credit, the WWE are dragging us along with their story-line.
2) TNA is WWE-lite
Despite some stellar matches recently, the TNA story-lines are straight out of the WWE playbook. This past week we had AJ Styles delivering a ‘pipebomb’ promo (I am growing to really dislike that term for what it’s worth) just like CM Punk (including name-dropping people who we didn’t think we’d ever hear from again… though not Jeff Jarrett) and then Dixie Carter coming out and dressing him down, telling him he’s not being as good as he thinks he is, just like HHH and Stephanie McMahon did to Daniel Bryan. Sure, I have come to understand that there is little cross-over audience between the two companies, so the TNA fans might not know anything about WWE’s stories, but that does not take away from the fact that this is a rip-off.
Okay, okay, I understand that the WWE did it before with the Austin v Vince storyline (although that was more about an attitude of Austin than the look of Bryan) and I understand that even before that it was Eric Bischoff who master-minded the “evil wrestling boss who sides with the heels” schtick with the dilution of the nWo he was involved with. But we are talking about story-lines that are still really fresh in people’s minds, and which the WWE and its performers have done so much better.
TNA has some fantastic athletes. They should try to be TNA, not mini-WWE or WCW v2.0 or WCCW for the 21st century.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – hire Jed Schaeffer. Offer him whatever money it takes to get him in and writing the storylines and then give him the book as well. He has no allegiances, he is non-partisan, and he is one of the best wrestling writers I have ever come across anywhere. But that’s not the sort of message TNA wants to hear. They just want sycophants, and that’s obvious by the way they are presenting themselves.
3) Oh, tag!
The one thing I really, really miss in wrestling is a decent tag team division. I thought for a while there that TNA had decided to put a good emphasis on the tag team division, and then that WWE by having the Bryan-Kane pairing and the Shield running rampant was putting a new push on the division. But I was wrong.
TNA have teams like Magnus/Samoa Joe and Kazarian/Daniels and… well, there’s two decent teams, and the first is a part-time team at best. But the champions are James Storm, who looks to have lost all motivation in the past year, and Gunner, a green guy who could benefit from being in the tag team ranks; their prime opponents seem to be WWE reject Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez, who was great in a tag team. But not this one. They should get the Young Bucks back, get Shelley back to reform MCMG, and grab Homicide full-time to partner with Hernandez to reform LAX.
WWE seem to be building a few teams – Usos, Prime Time Players, Wyatts, Real Americans – but at the moment they only seem to be fodder to the Shield to keep them looking strong. That’s not a division; that’s a way to keep guys employed.
I don’t know what to do about it because tag team wrestling as an art-form seems to be dying, and that’s a shame. Teams like Blanchard-Anderson, the Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, Road Warriors, Steiners, Demolition, et al made the tag team battles something to behold. Classy moves, great double-teams, awesome ring psychology. But then we were hit with the garbage wrestlers, like the Nasty Boys and Public Enemy and that whole ring psychology thing started to die off, and with it the interest in tag teams. Add to that the superstar teams like Brothers of Destruction, D-X, Rock’n’Sock, and other superstar pairings and the tag team formula became a thing that was done, but without the extras that made tag teams different. Even the glory days of Edge & Christian/The Hardys/the Dudleys involved a lot of gimmick matches but this was close to the classic tag team era, and closer still was the era of the Smackdown 6; but in both cases we had 3 good teams, and three teams does not a division make.
I think we’ve lost a lot of the art; I think this might end up being something that is there in name only, but nothing like it used to be. Tag team wrestling will be the stuff of nostalgia, spoken about in glowing terms by old guys like me to modern fans. It’s going to be like trying to explain to modern rock fans why the Foo Fighters might be a really good band, but they’re no Led Zeppelin (and flaming starts in 3…2…).
4) Missing who?
It’s now been over a month since John Cena was forced to take time off, and even longer since Sheamus last did his smiling doofus impersonation on our TV screens and… who cares? Sure, a few little Cena fans might bemoan the lack of their own Fruity Pebble, but the fans who are going to arenas and chanting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” or booing the ever-loving crap out of Orton and HHH don’t seem to be missing them.
But that’s odd. Wasn’t Cena the face of the WWE? Wasn’t Sheamus really popular?
Well, guess what, this just proves once and for all that Vince McMahon has finally done what he set out to do. Wrestling is no longer one person. It’s not Hulk Hogan, it’s not HHH, it’s not Steve Austin, it’s not the Rock, and it’s not John Cena. Wrestling has finally become more than just one person. It has become its own entity that does not need one over-arching personality driving it forward. We don’t even have Vince McMahon as the evil owner person in the current story-lines.
Wrestling has finally gone beyond relying on that one face. It has become something that exists as its own self.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, can only be a good thing.
And that is the view!
Tags: AJ Styles, Anderson, chavo guerrero, D-X, Daniel Bryan, Daniels, dixie carter, Eric Bischoff, Hart Foundation, HHH, john cena, kazarian, Prime Time Players, randy orton, Raw, Rock, Samoa Joe, sheamus, Shield, Steve Austin, Tag Team, TNA, usos, vince mcmahon, WWE