The Fantasy Book on Stuff, Lots of Stuff (Raw, Smackdown, ROH, NJPW, Tapping Out)

Good day. It has been quite a while since a Fantasy Book has been seen around these parts. Let me explain. I started running low on steam with the Fantasy Book columns right around Thanksgiving. I began to become bored with wrestling in general and the thought of a weekly column became less of an enjoyment and more of a chore in my head. So I took a break for a few weeks over the holidays to try to recapture some ambition again.

I returned with the 10 Thoughts columns regarding Ring of Honor, but this column was still alluding me. Finally, I just had to admit to myself that it couldn’t go on as it was before. So, as of this column, The Fantasy Book will no longer be a weekly column on Inside Pulse, but will hopefully be able to live on as an occasional column to fill space when the bug bites me. (Of course, that will happen only if our fearless leader Widro says that is okay.) I’ll still continue with the ROH 10 Thoughts columns and I will try to sprinkle in some columns for the other areas of the site as well (I’m working on my annual summary of the Oscar Best Picture nominations now – look for it soon!) and I will throw a Fantasy Book in when something major happens in the wrestling world or when I get a flash of inspiration for a storyline that would be so much more fun if it weren’t just in my head.

But, since it has been a while, let me touch on just a few of the items that have happened in the wrestling world recently:

  • Enzo Amore was fired. I do not care about Enzo and am fine with his firing. It is a little hypocritical that they still have never addressed the whole “Triple H drugging and marrying Stephanie in Vegas” storyline though.
  • Austin Aries left WWE and showed up over on TNA. The big news here – TNA is still a thing apparently.
  • Raw celebrated 25 years on the air by bringing back a lot of old stars to talk and do backstage skits and mostly to stand around. Seriously, the introduction of past divas and general managers just to have them stand there? What a waste of time.
  • Any Raw 25th celebration without Mick Foley is just wrong.
  • Jericho putting Elias and his scarves on the list was pretty funny though.
  • And I know someone needed to do it, but did they really have to bury The Revival like that? Now, if they had the Revival or even the Balor Club just take out Generation X, THAT would have been a worthwhile time.
  • There is a general manager on 205 Live now. Someone named Drake Maverick. Now, I know the WWE didn’t want to keep his TNA name (Rockstar Spud) because frankly it was stupid. But did they have to scrape the bottom of the antique soap opera name generator? The dude’s name is James Curtin. What’s wrong with that? It even sets up an easy to write gimmick/story with him and Goldust (who inserted himself into the Cruiserweight world recently in God-awful fashion). He and Goldust can start a new series of behind-the-scenes films and/or documentary interview segments called “The Curtin Call.” Get it? Curtain call? Curtin call? Because that’s his name. Ah, never mind.
  • Poor Dustin Runnels. Apparently someone in WWE feels that it is necessary to have Goldust buddy around with one of their black wrestlers. It worked with Booker T and Goldust because we felt the genuine affection and connection those two guys had for one another. It was well booked, well acted, and was a sweet and rewarding little storyline. They decide to try to replicate it with R-Truth. It didn’t work, because, well, it was R-Truth and no one cares. Now they have Goldust buddying up with Cedric Alexander for some reason. It is starting to get really uncomfortable now. And Cedric Alexander doesn’t need it. Let the man fly on his own.
  • Matt Hardy is now woken? Yeah, I still don’t care. It is still Matt doing his normal 90s offense, only worse and with more clubbering. Although the promo with him in the home theater with all the kiddos sleeping cracked me up, I have to admit.
  • Did everyone see that backstage pic with Drake Maverick confronting his old nemesis King Maxel? How cute was that?
  • The Bar has regained the Raw tag titles and we have to wonder what the purpose of them losing to Jordan and Rollins was? Are Jordan and Rollins going to feud now? I’d rather have Rollins and Finn Balor have a series of matches, even teasing an eventual Shield versus Club showdown. Maybe Jason Jordan could take on Triple H or something.
  • The Miz is champion again and all is right with the world. Now, if they insert Reigns into the Elimination Chamber match and have him take the title off Lesnar at WrestleMania, I will be pissed. Miz has two clean pins on Reigns in back-to-back weeks now. In every rational way, Reigns should be way down the list of contenders now.
  • Going back a couple weeks during the build to the Royal Rumble… why was there a grappling hook backstage? What possible purpose could it serve?
  • Far be it for me to second guess a decision by creative, but in the Rumble match, is it possible that Dolph Ziggler was the biggest let-down for a final comeptitor ever? He easily could have been replaced by … I don’t know … ANYONE. Seriously, find a place for Ziggler or just cut ties and let him go loony on the stand up comic circuit.
  • Ric Flair as Colonel Sanders? I would have preferred Hillbilly Jim, but okay.
  • The first all-female Rumble match was surprisingly great. The right person won in Asuka. The stories told during the match were well done. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch both looked like superstars for their performances. Nia Jax looked like the monster she is booked to be. Lita looked amazing in there and it was smart to have her in early so it wouldn’t conflict with Trish Stratus. Trish at #30 was a great surprise. The callback to the Trish versus Mickie James feud was excellent. Beth Phoenix getting in Nia Jax’s face was fun (although I do wish that spot would have been Awesome Kong). Kelly Kelly and Torrie Wilson had no reason to be in there though. It was good to see Molly Holly though. Why was Michelle McCool so dominant though? And where was Layla to assist her friend? Speaking of which, I missed Melina. And while I liked the Trish Stratus surprise at #30, I know others were looking for Ronda Rousey in that spot, I was holding out hope that we might have seen AJ Lee in that spot. That would have sent that Philly crowd into an insane tizzy. All in all though, that match completely outshined the men’s match and deserved to be in the main event slot.
  • And then afterwards, we get Rowdy Ronda Rousey’s entrance and dramatic pointing at the WrestleMania sign. I know she was loving the moment, but her smiling all the way down the ramp did not make her seem like such a badass, you know? Her wearing Piper’s old leather jacket and using that font was a very nice touch though. But she pointed at the sign! What does that mean? Is she going to buy a ticket? Is she looking to wrestle Charlotte? Is she looking to wrestle Alexa Bliss? Is she looking to wrestle Stephanie? Notice how she only extended her hand to Asuka and Stephanie during that whole segment. Hmm… Basically, if they are going to make Rousey be the Brock Lesnar of the women’s division, she better start breaking arms and knocking people out soon.
  • Speaking of which, Asuka smacking away Rousey’s hand during her attempted handshake made Asuka look 100 times more badass than Rousey did in that whole segment. Go Asuka! Add that to Asuka’s laughing at Ember Moon’s injured arm and Asuka is just doing next-level awesome shit.
  • Oh, I forgot, Trish’s mocking of Sasha Banks during the rumble match was too perfect!
  • I hope Samoa Joe is getting better quickly. His intensity is missed out there.
  • So, they called up Hideo Itami and inserted him into the Cruiserweight division. One of the first things he does is shatter The Brian Kendrick’s face. Now, I know they don’t want to promote a real injury, but if they don’t take advantage of that freak accident and have Itami be a vicious monster in that division, I don’t know what they are doing over there.
  • I really feel bad for Paige if her in-ring career is over. I’ve always liked her.
  • I know I am probably speaking to the choir here, but every show needs to have a Paul Heyman promo.
  • Wanna know how I know the writers don’t really know what to do with Kevin Owens right now? Not only are they recycling the best friends storyline Owens did with Jericho, but they are going to have him wrestle Sami Zayn AGAIN next week. Owens seems like such a different character from when he was the brash NXT champion coming out to take on the John Cenas of the world.
  • Bobby Roode bores me. There, I said it.
  • The Usos are still the obvious best tag team on Smackdown. And as their promo stated on Tuesday night, they are running out of competitors. Rowan and Harper may be looking awesome right now, but Rowan doesn’t have the athleticism to hang with the Usos. Can we just call up reDRagon from NXT already?
  • Yes, I am over The New Day and their breakfast foods. Cereal. Pancakes. What’s next – waffles? Cyborg and Beast Boy already did that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HOlXJ2EJxw
  • Carmella better do something with that briefcase soon because it is becoming a boring gimmick in her hands.
  • It is good to see Jonathan Coachman back on the broadcast team. Hopefully they allow him to be a more serious announcer/reporter/etc. He has mainstream credibility now, don’t piss it away by making him the butt of some John Cena or The Rock jokes. Now, can we find someone to take over for poor Corey Graves on Smackdown? That dude is working more gigs than Ryan Seacrest.
  • Over in NXT, Andrade “Cien” Almas is the champion. Everyone thought it was a fluke due to Drew McIntyre’s injury, but Almas is showing why he is worthy. That match with Gargano at NXT Takeover was incredible.
  • Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish are light years ahead of any tag team on the WWE payroll. The WWE would be stupid to not take advantage of that.
  • Adam Cole is looking good and trying to kill himself to get over in NXT (did you see some of the insanely sick bumps he took against Aleister Black?) so hopefully it will pay off.
  • I am not a fan of EC3, but I am glad to see War Machine coming over to NXT. And I will wait to see what Ricochet will be allowed to do.
  • The NXT woman’s division still looks strong, but I really hope Nikki Cross doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. I would love to see Rosemary sign with NXT and have those two either team up or have the craziest feud ever.
  • Switching over to Ring of Honor, Cody is no longer champion. That is a good thing, but Dalton Castle is champion. I like Castle, but I am not sure of him being the top guy in your wrestling company. Especially not when you have Jay Lethal, Marty Scurll, Jay Briscoe, Christopher Daniels, and others on your roster. Castle is really really good, but he just strikes me as a second-tier champion, that’s all.
  • Silas Young holds the ROH TV title right now and that is excellent. There should be many good to great matches coming out of that decision.
  • The Motor City Machineguns are the tag team champions and that is okay with me. Personally, the fact that it isn’t the Young Bucks is a big plus to me. I am suffering Young Buck fatigue.
  • Ring of Honor is going to crown their first ever Woman of Honor champion soon. Seriously, it is about damn time.
  • In case you have forgotten, Jay Lethal and especially Marty Scurll are putting on some professional wrestling clinics these days. If I were Vince McMahon, I would throw mad money at those guys and bring them into the fold immediately. Let them debut at WrestleMania if you wish. Just get them in front of a larger audience asap.
  • Hey, guess what? Things are going a little crazy over in New Japan Pro Wrestling. For example, the Tempura Boyz are now being managed by Rocky Romero and are called Roppongi 3K. Not only that, but they are the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champions. They really got better and better during their time in ROH and it is good to see them succeed.
  • Also, Will Ospreay has apparently learned how to defeat Marty Scurll as he is the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion. That set up a ton of interesting and high flying challenges in the near future.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi is dealing with a bunch of injuries yet still had the IWGP Intercontinental Title for a while. They just took it off of him recently and gave it to bad-ass Minoru Suzuki. Personally, I am tired of Tanahashi’s schtick and think he needs a good long vacation which might build some goodwill for a return. He’s just played out.
  • Personally, I would have liked to have seen Chris Jericho take out Tanahashi and do an injury angle thing. But Jericho has been busy with Kenny Omega and the IWGP US title. By the way, that belt is now around the waist of Jay White, now known as “Switchblade,” but still without a scrunchie. Maybe he will tie his hair back with the belt. Back to Omega and Jericho, they threw down and had a crazy match which everyone loved. Later Jericho attacked Naito for good measure, setting up another big payday down the line.
  • Omega, meanwhile, has apparently been kicked out of The Bullet Club by Cody Rhodes. Or maybe not. Maybe there will be a fight between the two of them for the leadership of The Bullet Club. But Cody did get into Omega’s grill and beat him down and no one has said anything else on the matter.
  • Look, Omega probably doesn’t need Bullet Club to be over. Plus, I’ve been well done with Bullet Club for a long time now. Omega has made a good case to have been the strong leader (in the history of Prince Devitt and AJ Styles), but it would be a considerable drop-off to Cody as the leader of the group. Just my two cents.
  • Okada is still the big dog in NJPW, as he should be, because he is the best wrestler over there. I know I have stated it before, but this dude has Hulk Hogan levels of star power written all over him and Vince might want to consider trading Shane for him and adopting him if he won’t take a huge contract.
  • Finally, why does it appear that every single wrestler in NJPW have to be affiliated with a group of some kind? Bullet Club, Chaos, Los Ingobernable de Japon, Suzuki-gun, and Taguchi Japan? It really is kind of ridiculous that EVERYONE has a group affiliation. At least that is how it looks from this side of the screen.

 

And with that, I shall end this run of Fantasy Books. I may be back in a few weeks with a roll up to WrestleMania, but no promises. Feel free to drop me a note though whenever and I will see you over at the ROH recaps.

Toodles.

 

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