Archive for the ‘Potato Shooter’ Category

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by @anarchyroll

One of the greatest high flyers in the history of professional wrestling died recently.

Hayabusa (real name Eiji Ezaki) died on March 3, 2016.

People of a certain age likely first discovered Hayabusa under the name Hannibal in the Nintendo 64 video game WCW vs nWo World Tour.

Many US wrestling fans discovered Hayabusa while at in the wrestling VHS/DVD aisle at Sun Coast and/or Best Buy and reading about the wildest sounding deathmatches in the history of wrestling from the FMW promotion.

However, most US wrestling fans were introduced to Hayabusa in one of the most entertaining tag team matches of all time, at one of the most entertaining pay per views of all time, ECW Heatwave 1998.

Hayabusa innovated the Falcon Arrow and the Phoenix Splash. Moves used regularly in the modern era by Jay Briscoe of ROH and Seth Rollins of WWE. Two men who a year ago at this time, respectively held the world titles for two of the three biggest pro wrestling promotions in the US.

Hayabusa was so far ahead of his time, that he would just in the decade be surrounded with people of his speed, style, and talent despite debuting in 1991. Hayabusa would have fit like a glove in CZW in 2003, ROH in 2005, DGUSA in 2008, PWG in 2012, and of present day Lucha Underground seems custom made for him.

The in ring tragedy that paralyzed him is nothing short of horrific. I won’t link to the video here, but you can look it up if you’re a glutton for the suffering of others. The fact that he walked again just last year was amazing and brings strong goosebumps to me now just as it did when I first read the story.

Hayabusa to me was imaginary, video game wrestling come to life. Every person I’ve ever shown that Heatwave ’98 match to always has the same look on their face when they see him, child like awe and amazement.

The man, the myth, the legend. A series of words as befitting Hayabusa as any professional athlete or entertainer in history. For a fan of my taste he is the ultimate combination of wrestlers. Cactus Jack meets Shawn Michaels. Abdullah the Butcher meets Brian Pillman. The Sandman meets Too Cold Scorpio. AJ Styles meets Abyss. Pentagon Jr meets Prince Puma.

Hayabusa was a hero, Hayabusa was an innovator, Haybusa was a legend, Hayabusa will Rest In Power.

 

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By @anarchyroll

Life can be funny, and by funny, I mean frustrating as fucking hell why the fuck is this bullshit happening?!!!!

That was basically how every fan of Daniel Bryan/Brian Danielson felt when he retired earlier this month. A very low low. Premature retirement for one of the greatest and most popular of all time can’t be spun as positive.

The low of Bryan’s retirement completely overshadowed the ecstasy high that alternative wrestling fans had been feeling in the days following the long anticipated and even longer overdue debut of AJ Styles. Styles’ debut in the Royal Rumble match and subsequent programs with The Miz and Chris Jericho have been great. Only fantasy booking nitpickers could find flaws in how Styles has been showcased thus far.

AJ Styles is the biggest name and greatest star created outside of WWE since the end of the Monday Night War. He is one of only two legitimate superstars created by TNA Wrestling (Bobby Roode the other). His arrival and white glove treatment is validation of both him and his fan base.

His arrival also signifies the final deathnail in the coffin of the previous paradigm of WWE Superstar requirements. Young, tall, bodybuilder, without any accent, or experience outside of the WWE system. AJ Styles is an old (by pro wrestling standards), short, gymnast, southerner who is the face of alternative professional wrestling since 2002. The signings of Fergal Devitt, Kevin Steen, El Generico, and Samoa Joe were all fine and good, but AJ Styles was more successful in the non WWE world than all of them put together. AJ Styles is the embodiment in every way of the type of wrestler that WWE does not sign and showcase on their main roster.

But none of that matters right now does it? Not now, not for another month or two. Why? Because Daniel Bryan had to retire due to injury.

Daniel Bryan was the next John Cena, Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rodgers. Daniel Bryan was THE guy. The new face of WWE. The leader of the next generation. The main event player for the next five to ten years. The fans couldn’t have been happier since they went to war with Vince McMahon over the issue and won.

And now he’s gone. Cut down in his prime, right as his prime got started. How many televised matches did Daniel Bryan have after Wrestlemania 30?

Life isn’t fair, Daniel Bryan being forced to retire is not fair. AJ Styles’ ten year overdue WWE debut being lost in the shuffle of an entire generation of fans’ grieving the loss of their hero isn’t fair.

Daniel Bryan was so great, that if he never debuted in WWE, he would be the other face of alternative pro wrestling next to AJ Styles. Brian Danielson is still to this day the greatest star Ring of Honor has ever produced. He was an American indy scene main eventer for half a decade and international pro wrestling title holder years before ever debuting on the first season of the NXT on SyFy tournament.

AJ Styles is still the face of TNA Wrestling even though he hasn’t been there for two years. That company was built on his shoulders. He left as their World Champion and went on to become the most successful American in Japanese pro wrestling history with only maybe Big Van Vader in his league. He also main evented the last ROH pay per view of 2015, a company he first debuted for at their third show ever in 2002.

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Less than a month before debuting at the Royal Rumble, Styles co main evented a show in the Tokyo Dome against the second most popular and profitable of the last decade in Japanese wrestling (Shinsuke Nakamura).

The last memory of Daniel Bryan’s in ring career will be standing on top of a ladder, as WWE Intercontinental Champion, leading 70,000 people in a YES chant. Not a bad way to go out but not what anyone wanted, expected, or had a nightmare about.

What we can hope for is that AJ Styles will be slid into Daniel Bryan’s main event spot like Rey Mysterio slid into Eddie Guerrero’s spot in 2006. More importantly, hopefully Bryan’s rise and quick fall will serve as an impetus for WWE to strike while the iron is hot for wrestlers who get over in the future.

Daniel Bryan should have been the guy The Rock feuded with, not John Cena. Cena was over and overly exposed three years before his feud with Rock. Bryan had emerged as the most loved babyface in the company coming out of WrestleMania 28. Cena could have easily been slotted to continue his feud with Punk going into 29. A feud which btw, never had a blowoff.

Hopefully WWE will accept rather than resist when a super junior heavyweight gets over more than Vince McMahon’s chosen super heavyweight superman.

AJ Styles is already more over as a babyface than Roman Reigns. His babyface reactions in the arena are second to no full time wrestler on the active WWE roster with the possible exception of Dean Ambrose. But Styles is already selling more merchandise than Ambrose.

Will WWE do the right thing and listen to their fans? They are already paying AJ Styles like he’s a main eventer. They have to be considering what Styles was being offered via duel contracts with ROH and NJPW. So lets see where Styles is slotted both at WrestleMania and after it.

What would a healthy Daniel Bryan be doing at WrestleMania and Summerslam this year? We know what that answer should be. And that should be what AJ Styles is doing. I’m excited to find out. But not as excited as I am sad that the American Dragon will fly no more.

One legend exits, another arrives, and the machine rolls on.

 

 

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By @anarchyroll
12/8/15

Do you have a pro wrestling themed podcast, blog, or website? Are you a retired pro wrestler or pro wrestling personality? Do you make the choice to sit through every minute including commericials of WWE presented television every week? If so, you likely think the current state of WWE is half a drop of sweat from tiping over the point of no return into the doomsday pit of armageddon, hell, and Impact Wrestling levels of no return.

If you are not one of the types listed above but still watch and pay attention to pro wrestling on a casual or slightly dedicated status you likely think the current state of WWE is somewhere between; meh, could be better, and damn good wrestling but the promos are too scripted.

I am not a fan of the current product WWE is presenting on television every week. I think it is too predictable, formulaic, and presented in a tongue and cheek manner as PG as it has been in the last ten years.

However, the negative bias against WWE by those who choose to dedicate their time, energy, and focus on a weekly basis has reached levels previously reserved for terrorist attacks and Star Wars prequels.

If you choose to watch every minute of the seven plus hours of content WWE produces every week, it is easy to loose the forest in the trees. To think that the current product is the worst ever, which I have read and heard on numorous sites and podcasts is to also choose to ignore or not remember WWE in 1983, 1993, 1995, 2003, 2010; WCW from 1994 through the birth of the nWo ; ECW of Syfy ; and TNA Impact Wrestling from 2011- present.

To have such a viciously negative paradigm of WWE while ignoring the good to great work being done consistently by Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Lucha Underground, and Pro Wrestling Guerilla makes the bloggers, podcasters, and haters part of the problem as much as Vince McMahon’s unwilligness to change/evolve/retire.

Choose to not watch, not cover, not report on the bad and to focus on the good of alternative pro wrestling. That is what I have done. I stopped watching WWE on a consistent basis during the Road to WrestleMania 21. John Cena and Dave Bautista have never been my cup of tea after 2004.

I still watch WWE, but not as often. I will read results before choosing whether or not to watch except for the big four ppvs (Rumble, Mania, Summerslam, Survivor Series). I instead choose to spend my time, focus, and money supporting ROH, NJPW, and the indies. From 2003-2009 I also happily did so for TNA.

But it is not WWE’s actual quality that all these podcasters and retired wrestling personalities hate. It’s that if they don’t choose to cover WWE someone else will. The fear of being unpopular and irrelevant. The fear WWE hasn’t had since March of 2001.

Sheamus isn’t that bad of a champion. Roman isn’t that bad of a lead babyface. Neither are my preferred choice. If were up to me the wrestlers currently feuding for the IC and NXT titles would be the faces of the company. But…..

WWE is not obligated to live up to the expectations of my imagination and personal taste.

Just because you have a blog, podcast, Twitter account, and/or a history in the pro wrestling business doesn’t mean WWE owes that to you either.

Accept that and cover them with some integrity and respect for journalism/broadcasting or accept that you are as thick headed, immature, and unable to evolve as the people booking the current WWE product.

That being said…..

CVw_aAkUYAErdjZ

 

 

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by @anarchyroll
10/13/2014

I have written far too little about Ring of Honor. As someone who was a fan of the original ECW, neither of the big two come close to being as good as the ROH product on a consistent basis in my opinion.

If you’re not familiar with Ring of Honor, it was founded by Paul Heyman’s #1, Gabe Sapolsky in 2002. Some of the stars and superstars that ROH has produced to TNA and WWE since their inception are;

  • CM Punk
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Samoa Joe
  • Seth Rollins
  • Austin Aries
  • Cesaro
  • Low Ki/ Kaval

The Ring of Honor product, style, and presentation has also been copied/used to build TNA’s X Divsion as well as WWE’s developmental territory NXT.

Years before either Chris Jericho or CM Punk were inserting the label Best in the World into their promos and onto their merchandise, fans were shouting those words after seeing ROH’s finest matches to the point they named their biggest show of the year Best in the World, which takes place every June.

If you’re an older wrestling fan who liked the Original ECW; then Ring of Honor is the product for your. If you’re a younger fan who likes NXT better than either RAW or Smackdown; Ring of Honor is the product for you.

I saw ROH live for the first time in 2005, during their 3rd Anniversary Show. The main event was Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title. I was hooked. The show stealer was Brian Danielson vs Homicide in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.

Ring of Honor has long been established as the top American independent professional wrestling promotion. They are the ECW of this era. They are about the best between the ropes, bell to bell wrestling on the planet. They are the only product in America that can rival the between the ropes action of Japan. If you like the matches that CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro have been having on WWE TV for the last two years, then you’ll love Ring of Honor.

I have seen ROH live at least once a year, every year, since 2005. The product not only thoroughly entertains me, but consistently restores my faith in pro wrestling. My personal taste is pro wrestling is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I care far less about storylines and characters than I do about fast paced, physical, high intensity pro wrestling matches. I am fully aware that to draw big money like WWE has done for 50 years, the model of success is inverted from my taste.

Since 2010, there are very few who have seen the product who would disagree with the thought of; if ROH had the corporate backing that TNA has had, ROH would be in a much more prominent place in the pro wrestling and sports entertainment landscape. ROH has routinely proven they are able to produce memorable, unique, entertaining characters, promos, and storylines. People like Jimmy Jacobs, Truth Martini, and Kevin Steen have been involved in programs and promos that would have slid perfectly into the WWE’s Attitude Era.

What makes ROH great in my opinion is that in their world/universe, wrestling didn’t stop evolving after the end of the Attitude Era. They didn’t hit the pause, rewind, or erase buttons in the wake of the Austin/Rock retirements, the Chris Benoit incident, or the John Cena PG Era. ROH is what ECW on SyFy would have looked like if Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer would have been allowed to control the product as opposed to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon.

It is important that there be three major pro wrestling promotions operating within the United States. For the purpose of competition, innovation, and evolution of the business as a whole.

  1. NWA, AWA, and WWWF
  2. WWF, WCW, and ECW
  3. WWE, TNA, and ROH

Me and all the other smart marks will keep crossing our fingers and hoping someone with a lot of money decides to invest in ROH. They can make it if money isn’t as much of a limiting issue as it has always been for them. They have manufactured new superstars. They have a unique presentation style. They believe in storyline continuity and character evolution. Their product doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence. The product would fit like a glove on FX, Adult Swim, or Showtime. The product isn’t overly vulgar or obscene. ROH routinely walks the line between family friendly and for adults only, they always have, and have always had the proper proportions.

Without ROH I likely wouldn’t be a wrestling fan anymore. What John Cena and the PG Era did to WWE and what Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff did to TNA were both more than enough for me to do, what so many fans of my generation have done; make a permanent switch to exclusive mixed martial arts viewing. But ROH pulls me back from the ledge everytime I need to be. With their great matches, clean finishes, intense rivalries, straight to the point promos, and continuous evolution I can’t recommend ROH enough to the casual fan whose looking for something different to Super Cena and the not ready for prime time booking of Impact Wrestling.

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by @anarchyroll
10/3/2014

As a fan of the original ECW, there are few wrestlers I want to dislike more than Bobby Lashley. And for years, Lashley made it very easy to dislike him whether he was pushed as a face or a heel in WWE or TNA.

Bobby Lashley was what is known in pro wrestling as a “body guy”. Someone whose success in pro wrestling is entirely dependent on the fact that they are or look like a body builder. Lashley’s run in WWE from 2005-2007 was the textbook definition of the WWE using their marketing machine to try to force fans to like a body guy with no charisma, no mic skills, and a mediocre at best level of technical wrestling skill.

Why as an ECW fan did I intensely dislike Lashley? Because body guys are antithesis of what ECW is all about, and when ECW was revived in 2006, at their second and final pay per view event, Lashley was chosen over CM Punk to win the only ECW Elimination Chamber match to become ECW Champion. Lashley then co main evented WrestleMania with the ECW Title around his waste and to this day, a generation of wrestling fans associate a body guy as the face of ECW. Sigh, thanks Vince.

Flash forward seven years later, and Lashley can only be classified as strictly a body guy by fervent haters of him and TNA Wrestling where he is (as of this writing) their World Heavyweight Champion. Why can Lashley no longer be classified as just a body guy? After all he still looks like a walking commercial for anabolic steroids.

Because after his run in the WWE and after his first run in TNA, Bobby Lashley went out and became the second most legitimate pro wrestling to mixed martial arts crossover in history. Second to only Brock Lesnar.

Lashley has had 3 times as many fights as Lesnar had, though no one would argue Lashley has faced nearly the same level of competition Lesnar did. But unlike Lesnar, Lashley isn’t retired, he’s still actively fighting.

It is worth noting, and praising, that Lashley while actively competing for TNA as their World Champion, fought and won a fight in Bellator MMA. That is something that Brock Lesnar never did and never will do. It is a little caveat, but a legitimate one.

Lashley’s in ring pro wrestling skills, have also improved dramatically. He tells a story with his facial features and plays to his strengths. TNA to their credit, has booked him as well as someone like Lashley can be booked. In an era where TNA can’t seem to do anything right, they have done very little if anything wrong with Lashley since he returned to the company at Lockdown in March.

Since Lashley apparently doesn’t know how to talk arrogantly, TNA gave him a mouthpiece/hype man in MVP. That was a double win as MVP was nursing a broken ankle at the time and needed something to do on camera. TNA killed two birds with one stone and now, it is almost impossible to think of or book Lashley without MVP as his version of Paul Heyman.

TNA has booked Lashley against technically proficient opponents who are able to bump for Bobby as well as mask his deficiencies in the same model of The Undertaker’s last five WrestleMania opponents. Lashley’s matches against Samoa Joe (twice), Eric Young, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode have all been American style, pro wrestling/sports entertainment heavyweight style matches. Fans of wrestling both pre PG and pre Attitude eras would have an appreciation of those matches. Storytelling, selling, submissions, hot crowds, manuever exchanges, a high spot or two, go home. TNA has also booked him as an unstoppable monster. When he inevitably loses the world title, it will be a big deal, at least by TNA standards.

Lashley has come along way since his unwatchable runs as United States and ECW Champions in WWE. He is becoming the type of talent that Vince McMahon likely envisioned him as when he tryed to ram Lashley down the fan’s throats for almost two full years before releasing him after main eventing a pay per view with John Cena. Yeah, you read that right.

Lashley has also become a face in the argument of the legitimacy of pro wrestlers as real athletes and genuine tough guys instead of phony actors. Actively holding the world title for the #2 pro wrestling company and actively winning fights for the #2 mixed martial arts promotion is a bigger deal in both sports than many seem to want to give it credit for. It’s understandable, Lashley’s work in WWE was just awful. But his work in his first run in TNA in 2009 was good. His matches against Rhino, Samoa Joe, and Scott Steiner are all worth looking up on You Tube. He then spent four years bouncing between independent pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. Now he’s a top guy in the #2 promotion for both sports. What’s next? Lashley isn’t that old. He may not just be getting started, but he certainly isn’t finished.

It’s hard for me to believe that a body guy could be such an inspirational figure. But in the year 2014 in the worlds of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, there is no better story than the renaissance of Bobby Lashley.

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by @anarchyroll
9/30/2014

One of the greatest and most exciting fighters with the undisputed most intimidating nickname in the history of mixed martial arts retired recently.

Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva called it a career with 35-12 record in the middle of September 2014.

Silva retires with a wimper rather than in a blaze of glory, the opposite of how he fought and will be remembered by mixed martial arts fans worldwide. Silva retired by posting a video online, which was picked up by the mma and sports press. Shorty after the video announcement, Silva received a $70,000 fine and lifetime ban from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Silva blasted the UFC for underpaying him and all fighters in the video, also saying they killed his love of the sport by making him fight too much. Dana White responded by saying Silva was paid $9.7 million for six fights in five years.

It is unfortunate the way Silva’s career has ended. Regardless of specter of PED use and fight ducking that will hang over his retirement, Wanderlei Silva’s legacy and place in mixed martial arts history is forever intact thanks to his historically entertaining run through the Pride Fighting Championships of Japan from 2000-2007.

I originally became a fan of the UFC during their first few shows in the mid 90s but then like the majority of people, stopped watching. There are three fighters that made me a fan of the sport again; Wanderlei Silva, Frank Mir, and Tito Ortiz.  Ortiz for his ability to hype fights, Mir for his submission skills, and Silva for his insanely entertaining knockout ability.

During his prime Silva was a textbook knockout artist. Truly an artist. He KO’d top flight competition with his fists, elbows, knees, and kicks. He fought in the wild wild far east of Japan. Silva routinely fought people above his weight class in a promotion that was about the big fight atmosphere and freak match ups. In that environment and era, Silva was the king of the freaks and the big fights.

His middleweight title run (Pride’s equivalent to the UFC light heavyweight title) alone is worth looking into PrideFC. Silva was everything that fight fans want a fighter to be whether they admit it or not. Throwing caution and safety to the wind for the sake of either knocking out his opponent or getting knocked out in the process in the name of entertaining the people who paid to see him fight.

Silva is one of the last of a dying breed in mixed martial arts. A fighter first, martial artist second. He fought in bare knuckle fights years before he entered sanctioned competition. He wanted spectacular KO finishes rather than grinding out a decision victory to get a payday and a padded record. He fought heavyweights and super heavyweights rather than only fighting people he had a distinct size advantage over. He competed in tournaments regularly both before and during his championship reign.

2004 was the peak of Wanderlei Silva‘s career. He was the undisputed best fighter in the sport that year. Taking multiple awards/honors for fighter of the year and fight of the year from publications such as Sherdog, MMA Fighting, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and Sports Illustrated.

No one who saw Wand’s prime will care about the checkered ending to his career. Our memory of him is too full of images of knockouts and Silva screaming into the camera after administering said knockout or as I like to think, the way a person who gets paid to be a fighter should be remembered.

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by @anarchyroll
8/27/2014

Better late than never, but is it too late? TNA officially hit the reset button at their recent television tapings in New York City at the Manhattan Center. How do I know they hit the reset button? Because both Kurt Angle and Taz said as much on camera during the first of six episodes taped in NYC this summer. However, in the middle of the taped episodes airing, reports surfaced that Spike TV will not be renewing their contract with TNA to keep Impact Wrestling on the air.

Coming out of the Hogan/Bishoff era, followed by the kayfabe heel Dixie Carter era, TNA desperately needed to hit the reset button. Putting the World Title on Eric Young saw ratings hit an all time low between the Lockdown and Slammiversary pay per view events.

From a skeptical distance one can chalk up the reset button being the following things;

  • Putting and keeping the World Title on Bobby Lashley
  • Bringing back the six-sided ring
  • Reuniting the Hardy and Dudley Boyz
  • Exploiting ECW nostalgia
  • Putting the annual one month spotlight on the X Division

If one were to read the results or highlights, or have a friend tell them what happened at Destination X or Hardcore Justice (two pay per view like events that aired free on Spike) one could summize that TNA simply combined WWE and ECW nostalgia acts with a couple of their own classic concepts to try to pop a rating. However, one must have watched or at least skimmed through the shows with their own eyes to see and feel how the mood has indeed changed in TNA.

  1. Bobby Lashley is being built, showcased, and promoted like a heel world champion should be. The fact that Lashley will be fighting at a Bellator MMA event as the reigning TNA World Champion is a great thing for both TNA and the wrestling business, because it is the first of its kind. Can you imagine the press WWE would get and how much their mark fan boys would be gushing if any sitting WWE champion went to fight in the UFC?
  2. The return of the six-sided ring is a metaphor that the fans’ opinions matter to TNA management.  It was ridiculous that Hogan/Bishoff got rid of the six-sided ring in the first place. It did nothing to help the product in any tangible way. Bringing it back won’t pop a rating, but it will send the message that TNA cares about their fans again. Since TNA clearly hasn’t cared about the fans’ opinions for several years now, a symbol like the return of six-sided ring is a great start to rebuilding the trust between TNA management and pro wrestling fans.
  3. In case you haven’t seen the NYC episodes, Jeff Hardy has been involved in the best match on each show he has wrestled on. His match with Lashley was the best of Lashley’s career until Lashley had a match against Austin Aries at Destination X. Both matches the reunited Hardy Boyz had (versus The American Wolves and The Dudley Boyz) were as good as tag team wrestling gets in 2014 or any year for that matter. Both the Hardys and Dudleys reuniting has worked, why? Because the matches have delivered and I am genuinely excited about the upcoming Triple Threat Tag Team Match Series that will round out the NYC tapings.
  4. WWE is allowed to exploit ECW whenever they want but when TNA does it, it’s tacky and outdated. That is the opinion of Paul Heyman and most of the internet wrestling community. This type of ridiculous bias is why it is always hard to get a true read on TNA’s quality without seeing it oneself. The fact is that is that there was kayfabe, storyline appropriate reasons for Devon Dudley and Tommy Dreamer to be brought into Bully Ray’s feud with Dixie Carter. Rhino has worked for TNA on and off since 2005 and if Al Snow can stay in that kind of physical shape, and be that over with a live crowd, there is no reason he can’t be on television for TNA, ROH, or WWE. Not to mention that as I write this, the “ECW” nostalgia angle has already been done with for as long as it was presented as an on camera angle/feud.
  5. TNA was built by the X Division. The X Division got them to Spike TV, getting to Spike TV got them to Sting, Sting got them as close to the mainstream as they’ve gotten. With Sting gone and Spike TV apparently on their way out, there is no better time to refocus on the X Division. The recent X Division showcase has been built around Samoa Joe and Low Ki. If you don’t want to see Samoa Joe and Low Ki get not only ring time but mic time weekly, on a nationally televised pro wrestling show, then my friend I suggest you binge watch reruns of Saturday Morning Slam and AWA on ESPN until the cows come home.

TNA has lost the benefit of the doubt with the vast majority of wrestling fans. Their live attendance, ratings, and problems securing a new TV deal with Spike TV reflect that. In a way, TNA deserves to go out of business. But we all know that would be bad for wrestling. I remember 2001, WCW deserved to go out of business too, but was the wrestling business better because they did? Alliance anyone?

The episodes of Impact Wrestling from New York City has looked and felt like the TNA Wrestling I was a fan of from 2003-2009. At the very least, watch the title matches. The best wrestling I have seen this summer that hasn’t involved Brock Lesnar or ROH has been the title defenses or wins involving Bobby Lashley, Samoa Joe, Gail Kim, and The Wolves.

TNA has hit the reset button. The consistent quality of the last six weeks beckons a second chance from their alienated fan base. Let’s just hope it’s not too little too late.

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by @anarchyroll
7/28/2014

The overall best wrestler on the American independent wrestling scene wrapped up his farewell tour this past weekend and will be reporting to WWE’s developmental territory in Florida, NXT. Kevin Steen has been the “top guy” on the indy scene for several years now. His matches, promos, and marketability have been a cut above anyone and everyone else on the indy scene since 2011. Steen has been a machine producing non stop entertaining matches, interviews, and t-shirts that also rival any wrestler that has ever been on the indy scene. The only thing holding him back from being signed by WWE has been his physique. Once Steen made the choice to start dropping weight, as he has done every month in 2014, WWE signed him to a developmental contract.

Kevin Steen has been a cornerstone of Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) and Ring of Honor (ROH) for over half a decade. His tag team run with El Generico (now Sami Zayn in NXT) and subsequent feud (both in PWG & ROH) put both men on the map nationally by showcasing both as complete talents in need of only a national stage to be showcased on.

If you have seen Kevin Steen live then you know he has the “it factor”. The intangible element that all wrestlers who have gone on to achieve super stardom have possessed.

Steen has also been one of the best handled or booked indy wrestling talents in recent memory. From 2009 forward Steen was presented by PWG and ROH as a big deal both in his tag team work, then as the vicious heel which was so well executed he became a face based on the consistent high quality entertainment value he offered. Good talent plus good promotion equals success in the entertainment industry at every level. Steen, ROH, and PWG are great examples of what good can come of management and talent working together for common goals.

Kevin Steen’s ROH World Title run of 2012-13 was the best thing the indy scene produced since the Summer of CM Punk in 2005. I’m getting goosebumps just writing and thinking about it now. Steen truly was on fire. His title win and every defense was as high level of a match that the indy scene is capable of producing with the talent they have to offer.

The die-hard pro wrestling fans of the independent scene truly love Kevin Steen. It is a type of admiration very few professional wrestlers reach but all aspire to. Steen is not only a great talker and mechanic in the ring, but he is also a money-maker. No one in the last ten years on the indy scene has been a merchandise producing machine like Kevin Steen has been. I don’t think many would object to Steen being given the label; Best Indy Scene T Shirt Producer Ever (forgive me Colt).

In the process of being signed by WWE, Steen laid a blueprint behind him of how to get signed by WWE. It’s called the Take Away All the Excuses Method. One by one Steen took every reason for WWE to not sign him away. Like Daniel Bryan on the main WWE roster, Steen kept improving until he became a complete performer, or as complete as an independent wrestler can become. WWE already doesn’t want to sign indy guys. They want body builders and football players, so if you’re an indy guy, and Steen was THE indy guy, then you have to work extra hard to get signed. Steen showed in 2014 he was willing to do whatever it took to get signed.

Steen had been pumping out great matches and great promos for years. When he showed that not only could he be marketed as well or better than any of his contemporaries, and was willing to get himself into the physical shape he openly lamented for years prior, WWE had no more reasons to not sign him to a developmental deal.

Make no mistake, as great as Steen is (great, not just good), he still needs to be developed. The weight he has lost up to his point in 2014 is only a start. He’ll have to learn how to work the WWE style which is a vast change from his 100 mph high spot centered style (a style I prefer). He’ll have to learn to perform for the hard camera and prove to both himself and WWE that he can cut the same high level of promos he is known for, without the high level of vulgarity that goes with his promos like PB & J.

But not since WWE signed CM Punk has an indy prospect had more potential for greatness on the big stage. If Cesaro, Sami Zayn, and Adrian Neville have gotten as far as they have with underdeveloped mic skills, what is going to happen when the best talker the indy scene has had in a decade gets a live WWE mic in his hands? If WWE is begrudgingly pushing a generation of undersized cruiserweights in NXT, what is going to happen when the most agile heavyweight in recent memory makes his television debut? If creative is having a hard time finding ways to market the growing crop of young prospects in Orlando, what is going to happen when the one man t-shirt machine arrives?

Kevin Steen did it all on the indy scene. He won the primary singles title of every major indy promotion in North America. He helped blaze a trail of leveraging social media as a means of getting over and making real money on the independent wrestling scene. He became so entertaining as a vicious heel that he became the most popular babyface wherever he performed, whenever he performed. He pushed all of the limits and all of the boundaries that can be pushed in the minor leagues of the pro wrestling world. Kevin Steen became the big fish in the small pond. When that happens in the world of professional wrestling, WWE usually comes calling. WWE should have come calling for Kevin Steen and they did.

Kevin Steen has everything it takes to be the next big thing in the WWE. He has earned the opportunity he is getting. Four years ago there wouldn’t have been much hope for Steen to get over on WWE’s main roster due to the full immersion of the PG Era. But in the time of Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt, and Dean Ambrose there is definitely a place for Kevin Steen in the big leagues. Here’s hoping management allows him to hit it out of the park.

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by @anarchyroll
7/16/2014

My personal taste in professional wrestling and professional wrestlers leans towards a faced passed, aggressive, technical, high impact maneuver style (both in wrestler and match style). Neither Ethan Carter III (picture above to the left) or Michael Bennett (picture above to the right) fit with what I listed, and that’s not just fine, it’s good for pro wrestling.

As I have grown up I’ve become less dogmatic when it comes to personal taste, especially when it comes to personal taste in entertainment based subjects. In my adolescence I would have been the smarkiest, snarkiest Mike Bennett hater on the internet. But that is when I was naïve enough to think my personal taste and opinions deserved to be conformed to by the outside world.

For the longest time I didn’t understand why Mike Bennett was on the ROH roster, then I learned he was dating and later married to former WWE Diva and Playboy Playmate Maria Kanellis. The increased attention and publicity someone like her could bring to ROH if she was associated with it explained why they would bring him in, but not why they would keep him for years.

Michael Bennett is completely different from anyone else on the ROH roster. He is very much a look based, body guy. He gets heat from the jealously of male wrestling fans, or as they’re most commonly known, wrestling fans. It is hard to get heat on the independent pro wrestling scene. This is because the wrestlers are usually trying to get pops from the crowd via high spots or are so untalented, they get booed for being bad at their chosen profession. There have been several matches that I have seen in person where Mike Bennett deserved to get booed for not having the talent to deserve the spot in the company he was/is in.

But he has grown, he has improved, he has evolved. ROH has shown confidence in Bennett in 2014 (notably allowing him a high-profile one on one match against the most popular wrestler in Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi at War of the Worlds in May). Bennett is now going to be representing ROH on a tour of Japan and he has earned it. How? Certainly not for being a skilled technician in the ring. Bennett gets heat, and heat is what draws money in pro wrestling, not high spots. If high spots drew money, then ROH and WWE would have opposite financial standings.

Ironically, Michael Bennett did nothing to make me see this. It was only after Ethan Carter III (formerly Derrick Bateman in NXT) debuted in TNA earlier this year and had a string of what I thought were very impressive matches did I realize that I had been judging Bennett completely wrong. I read so much anti Carter/Bateman talk on the internet it completely threw me off, I thought he was very entertaining. The words used to describe EC3 were essentially the same words I used to describe Bennett.

Guys who are more about look than technical proficiency always have had and always will have a spot in professional wrestling. EC3 and Bennett are much more technically proficient than many body guys that have come before them but many fans don’t see/realize this, why? John Cena obviously.

Hahaha, it’s all Cena’s fault. You’ll notice that there is not much text below this, so a long anti Cena rant is NOT coming. But with Cena being over exposed and over pushed for now over a decade based on him being a body guy, the fan base that watches pro wrestling as their dominant form of consumed entertainment, is not just tired of Cena, but of all body guys…Bootista anyone?

EC3 and Bennett are not to be confused for Bret Hart or AJ Styles, nor would they contend they should be. If one can look past the fact that both men are in better physical shape and are better looking than they are, they will see two young professional wrestlers who love the business, respect the business, and want to become better at their craft.

I can see the effort and improvement in both of them every time I see their matches and/or promos. If a person can’t, they are letting emotion and bias be fuel for negative emotion directed towards them…which means that both EC3 and Bennett are doing their jobs.

 

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by @anarchyroll
7/7/2014

3, 5, 7, and 10 years ago the mid carders and jobbers on the main roster of the WWE were five to ten years younger than they are now. That is all the youth movement that WWE has allegedly been going through for the last three years means. Nothing more, nothing less.

Vince McMahon has no faith in anyone under 32 currently on the WWE roster. The arenas can be packed with fans chanting their hearts out for Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, and Cesaro but none of them have been with WWE for more than ten years, none of them were in WWE during the Attitude Era, none of them were in WWE when Vince McMahon was young and willing to take risks.

WWE will not take the risks that the fans are dying to see because Vince McMahon is not responsible to the fans in the arenas, he only answers to the stockholders.

By the way, have the internet fans completely turned on Adam Rose yet after being ga ga for him the first two weeks of his act just like Brodus Clay in 2011? Thought so.

Daniel Bryan is going to be out for an extended amount of time with a neck injury. Vince McMahon recently lost $300 million in one day. Someone needs to be a transitional champion for Brock Lesnar who is several levels above rumored to be having a lengthy run with the WWE Title starting at Summerslam. To me this sounds like the perfect time to give a young guy a two month run with the big belt(s) to see what he can do with it.

Instead John Cena got his 15th WWE Title win, yahoo.

Cena is a money man, he is a top guy. But if WWE was having a youth movement as so many employees and mark fans of WWE have been saying for the past few years, then someone other than John Cena or Randy Orton would have won the title at #MITB. Instead the people who should have been winning the title were in a secondary number one contender match. That sounds like WWE in a nutshell since 2002.

Now John Cena is on the road to dropping the belt to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. John Cena? Brock Lesnar? 2014? Youth movement? Sounds more like business as usual.