Metalhead’s Riff: Paul Heyman and Stone Cold Steve Austin (plus KUSHIDA!)

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This week, before I comment on the final of the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament and give my thoughts on the winner, I want to take you back to this past Monday, and more specifically to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Podcast with one Paul heyman. Now there have been quite a few podcast with a veritable who’s who of pro-wrestling participating but this one caught my attention much more than anything else. Part of it was the lack of comment there was about. I have no idea why actually, maybe people expected something else, maybe people expected more fireworks, hell maybe people expected Paul to go on a rant against WWE and everything else, I don’t know what people were expecting but I do know I’ve watched it 4 times by now and found it to be one of the most interesting podcast I’ve seen until now.

Now I’m gonna go at it in a non-linear way and start with the last third of the hour, ending not included. It was populated with a couple of road stories which, while funny were not really essential viewing. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the first two parts of the show. And here I enjoyed myself tremendously because, without really seeming too, without even once naming anyone, those two completely obliterated most of the current WWE way of doing things. Let’s take, for example their discussion about selling moves. After Austin regretted that the DDT was no-sold by everyone and his Torito nowadays, Heyman stated that you could take Someone like Mark Henry, have him adopt an headlock as his finisher and you could get it over without troubles IF Henry himself, the wrestlers taking the move, the booking team and the announcers all reacted in the right way. If everyone gets back up as if nothing happened then it’s meaningless.And you know what? He’s right. When you go outside WWE, you will notice that many wrestlers in Japan for example employ finishers that would be considered “weak” by WWE officials standards. Only they are not, not even close. And the reason for that is, the very simple rule stated by Heyman is respected. When you got a move, you protect it. I mean think about it, if you got a move that everybody kicks out of or simply shrugs off, why even bother utilizing it?

This is actually the problem of people kicking out of Cena’s AA. Some say it’s great for the wrestlers allowed to do it, I’m wondering what’s so great about it. If one wrestlers does it (say at Wrestlemania like Heyman suggested in his example), then yes. But each time someone else does it it diminishes the impact of kicking out of the move, AND diminishes the importance of the first one who managed to do it. Having Neville and co do it doing the Cena Open Challenge might seem like a good thing, but, in my opinion, it is counterproductive in the long run. Owens kicked out of the AA at EC. So what, everybody else did it already.  Now imagine no-one had kicked out of the AA in recent months and THEN have Owens kick out at EC. See my point?

Another point of talking was promos with Heyman saying today’s promos where too much about preaching and not enough about engaging the audience. Now coming after the Cena “look at this little cancer patient fighting and I’m the better man” promo, I don’t know if it was done on purpose or not, but it felt absolutely spot on. Not only Cena can be targeted here, of course, but it was a great example of what Heyman was saying. Paul himself talked about one of his WCW promo, where he ran wild for minutes, went backstage, met Dusty Rhodes who said: “That was good kid, but, where is the money?” And at that point Heyman realized he had forgotten to sell what he was supposed to sell (Starcade in this particular case). Same thing on Monday, yes Cena delivered his stuff with passion, as he always does, but what was he selling exactly? Let me put this another way, was anyone MORE exited about the re-match after Cena stopped talking? Feel free to chime in if you were because I honestly don’t know how I’m supposed to be after the Cena-talk.

There were lots of little hints and nudges during the show, I’m not going to recount all of them, there was also some interesting stuff about Punk and the personal history between Heyman, Austin and the McMahons. They ended with basically an illustration of what they’ve been saying with Heyman asking Austin if he would fight Lesnar at WM32, Austin first answering amicably and then getting worked up after a bit of poking from Heyman. Some are calling this segment contrived, and, maybe it was. But it worked and completely sold me on an idea that will, perhaps, never happen. And that, my friends is true promo artists at work.

If you haven’t seen this yet, I absolutely recommend it, and don’t be afraid to read between the line a bit, I promise you, you’ll have a blast.

Now, moving on and unto the Best of Super Junior Final Show. Well, the final actually since I’ve not been able to watch the whole show yet. I might do a more complete review of the tournament itself and the final show in the coming days, if time permits, but no promises here, not gonna put any pressure on myself, I get grumpy when I do that.

Anyway, in quick results for the tournament, the final standings in block A where: O’reilly first with 12 points, followed by Taguchi (10), Liger, Baretta and Owens (8), Cavernario (6), Gedo (4) and poor Komatsu with zero points. Speaking of Komatsu, While he didn’t win one single match, his performances were generally lauded and he did get quite some crowd support. I’m sure Gedo and Jado noticed.

Meanwhile in block B KUSHIDA ended up in first place with 12 points, followed by Fish and Dorada (10), Romero and Tiger Mask (8), Nick Jackson (6), Alex Shelley (2) and David Finlay with zero points.

WHich gave us the following final: Kyle O’Reilly vs KUSHIDA (contrary to what I announced last week, only first place in each group gave the right to advance, sorry about that).

And what a final it was. Yet another serious contender for match of the year,  O’Reilly and KUSHIDA delivered an absolute masterclass of crazy moves, intelligent building and working the crowd and  and near-falls that had you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Seek out the event for this match alone, skip the others if you must (I did, but I do intend to watch the rest soon) sit back, grad a beer or soda or coffee or whatever it is you like drinking and enjoy. And that’s all I’m willing to say about that one for now, if you wanna know more, WATCH!

The winner of this great match ended up being KUSHIDA, which means he’ll face Kenny Omega for the Junior Heavyweight title at Dominion. Every sign points toward a possible KUSHIDA win and, after the amazing final he had against O’Reilly I’m tempted to follow suit and predict a KUSHIDA victory, followed by a KUSHIDA/O’Reilly re-match. This is not only on the base of match quality, but also because audiences really have gotten behind them and, especially KUSHIDA’s momentum is at an all-time high. I can’t wait.

Finally, to stay into the KUSHIDA/O’Reilly spirit, my match of the week is the battle between the Time Splitters and ReDragon at last year’s Power Struggle. about 25 minutes of pure fun this will perhaps give you an idea about why I believe so much in all 4 involved as singles wrestlers. Enjoy!

This is all from me this week, see you all later and have fun!

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