Posts Tagged ‘wrestling’

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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
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
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 naĂŻve 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.

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by @anarchyroll
6/04/2014

The United States Championship in WWE is essentially useless, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be the bridge belt for NXT call ups and main roster mid carders who have lost their way, place, momentum, or all of the above.

In a by gone era, a title belt like this was called the Television Title. The best wrestler on television today is how it was branded in kayfabe. However, in reality it was a way for new wrestlers to a promotion to make their mark, for young up and comers to show if they were worthy of moving from the mid card to the main events, and for former main eventers to regain some momentum or play gatekeeper.

The NWA, WCW, and ECW all utilized the Television Title correctly for many years and created many stars with that roster spot. Even TNA had a TV Title for a while, technically they still do, but let’s not go down that very dark, very disappointing road now.

From the late 1980s through the late 1990s wrestlers like Steve Austin, Steven Regal, Paul Orndorff, Ricky Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Chris Jericho, Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Rob Van Dam all had runs as Television Champion in either the NWA/WCW or ECW or in the case of Jericho, both. The title helped each wrestler as well as many not listed. The shiny gold belt around their waste let the masses know to pay attention to them. It was made clear by how early on the show their match was taking place that they were not to be confused with the World Champion. But it got more eyeballs put on the talent, which allowed them to get over as a heel (Austin) or a face (RVD) or in the case of gatekeepers like Anderson help get younger talents over or show that they weren’t yet ready for prime time.

In the year 2014 there is no reason to have Intercontinental and United States Champions. But there is no way that the WWE will ever rebrand the US Title as TV Title. That’s fine, don’t rebrand it, just treat it like a TV Title.

WWE is in the midst of a youth revolution. In my opinion, I think there is an overkill of NXT call ups who are not ready for the main roster flooding my television screen. However, regardless of opinion, one need only have working ear drums to hear that the majority of these talents are not over with the live crowds. For every Wyatt and Shield member, there is a Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Xavier Woods, Alexander Rusev, and Curtis Axel who through no fault of their own draw cricket noises when they are in the ring. Why? The fans have no reason to care about them. They’re all green in the ring or don’t have a unique character or don’t have mic skills or a combination of the three. How would a US/TV Title get them over?

It would help. A shiny belt draws eyes and symbolizes importance. That’s why world titles are big and gold. Bo Dallas got called up to the main roster because he spent over a year as NXT Champion. But was he NXT Champion because he was over? Or was he over because he was NXT Champion? Or is he nepotism incarnate? Regardless, the Bo-lieve gimmick/character would gain some steam with a win over Sheamus (as of writing the current US Champion) and a lengthy run with the United States title. Bo could then drop the title to another NXT call up who needs to get over as a face like Xavier Woods, Adam Rose, or Sami Zayn (fingers crossed).

Or much like Sheamus; a former main eventer needing to pick up some purpose and momentum again; perhaps someone like Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, Ryback, Mark Henry, or Rob Van Dam could have a transitional run with the title before dropping it to someone like Adrian Neville, Tyson Kidd, or Kalisto.

Dean Ambrose was the right person to hold the US Title for a year. However, management not booking him to defend it for multiple four-month clips did him and the title no favors. This is the perfect time to rebrand or in the case of WWE, repurpose the United States Title. Changing the look of the physical belt also wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

Unofficially officially making the US Title the NXT bridge belt, as well as a way for main roster journeyman to regain some shine is what is best for business in 2014.

Over half of the main roster is doing nothing of storyline substance. Every NXT call up since the Wyatt Family have been greeted with silence. Using the US Title to put a wee bit of spotlight and attention on these talents to see if they can generate heat, good promos, good feuds, and god forbid money will be good for everyone in the long run. It puts the US Title to use, it puts it in its place, and gives the talent another safety net to fall back on before getting a creative has nothing for you pink slip.

And let’s change the look of the physical belt please. Every other belt in the company has changed looks at least twice over since 2003. No time like the present for a new look and a new purpose for the illustrious United States Championship.

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by @anarchyroll
5/20/2014

Daniel Bryan, the WWE, and this generation of wrestling fans got lucky. His neck injury has turned out to be minor. That’s the good news.

The bad news is WWE has traditionally waited far too long to give the most popular and most deserving wrestlers the proper full push until it is too late and an injury cuts short their run at the top.

  • Steve Austin (neck) Should have gotten the belt a full year before winning it at WM 14
  • Eddie Guerrero (heart attack) By the time WWE got around to getting him his overdue second title reign, it was too late.
  • Edge (neck) Although they got around to giving him a plethora of title runs, he again had to wait two years too long.
  • Christian (concussions) Christian’s first WWE/World Title run should have been 2004, check the tape.
  • Dolph Ziggler (concussions) Makes me take a sad deep gasp just thinking about it. Will he ever be trusted with the big belt again?
  • CM Punk (knees) As time passes it appears his plethora of nagging injuries made him want to quit. He was world title material in 2006.

 

Daniel Bryan has been the most popular wrestler in the company for two years now. Cena sells the shirts, but Bryan sells the tickets. The Yes Movement started at WrestleMania 28 and Bryan had to wait til 30 to get the belt. That is ridiculous.

Dolph Ziggler as a heel, had large crowds in major media markets shouting for him to get the world title two years ago. The arena exploded when he won the belt at Night After Mania 2013. The man he is currently sharing dog house bitch duty with, Damien Sandow, who also should be in the main event scene, will both likely be in purgatory until another top name quits or retires by choice or by injury.

What if Daniel Bryan had to retire? What if he still does? Neck injuries in wrestling don’t just go away. Just ask Steve Austin. Just ask Edge.

Anytime a wrestler is forced to retire due to injury, it sucks. If the most popular wrestler of his generation has to retire do to injury (like Steve Austin) it not only sucks but can create a half decade dark era that the industry has to slowly dig it’s way out of (2003-2007). The next Daniel Bryan is not ready. The next Daniel Bryan is probably just paying to enter a wrestling academy. The industry can’t handle Bryan retiring and can’t rely on Cena anymore.

I would love to think Ziggler, Sandow, Cesaro, Barrett, Cody, Ambrose, Rollins, Sami Zayn, and/or Adrian Neville could get pushed to the top spot. But none of them are ready. Ziggler, Sandow, Cesaro, Cody, and Barrett could be ready by the end of this year. But they each need a full six months of being treated seriously for the common fans to look at them seriously again. Barrett is well on his way in that regard. Cesaro has been slipping since aligning with Heyman somehow. Ziggler and Sandow, what did they do to deserve what they’re getting?

The moral of the story is strike while the iron is hot and don’t wait years to put the big belt(s) on guys who get over, mega over, with the fans. The consequences are too severe. Remember 2003? I do, and I wish I didn’t. Remember 1993? I do, and keep trying to forget. Those dark eras weren’t just bad creatively, it was bad financially. How many indies went belly up because wrestling was lame, stale, and not doing good box office because the next generation of stars wasn’t ready to carry the business?

Hopefully this will serve as a wake up call. But after losing $300 million in one day, I’m sure Vince McMahon has other things on his mind.

 

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by @anarchyroll
5/11/2014

AJ Styles recently became the first American born pro wrestler to win the International Grand Prix World Heavyweight Title in Japan since Brock Lesnar in 2005. AJ Styles is every bit as worthy now as Lesnar was then. AJ Styles has a resumĂ© that is worthy of that honor. AJ Styles has a resumĂ© worthy of breaking The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Undefeated Streak as Brock Lesnar did. If you don’t know that, or don’t know who AJ Styles is, you owe it to yourself as a wrestling fan to find out.

AJ Styles is the Sting of his generation. So much so that Sting put him over, clean, for the TNA World Heavyweight Title at Bound For Glory V. What does being the Sting of this generation mean?

It means AJ Styles it the best pro wrestler/sports entertainer to not work for WWE. There is no argument there. I’m a fan of Samoa Joe, Kevin Steen, Bobby Roode, Roderick Strong, Chris Daniels, and Austin Aries as much as the next indy scene/TNA mark. But AJ Styles is a cut above the rest, and none of those guys I just listed would argue that fact. One of the many things that makes AJ Styles not just good, but textbook great, is that everyone likes him. Even the internet’s golden calf CM Punk had NO problem losing to AJ Styles in the finals of the tournament to become the first Ring of Honor Pure Wrestling Champion.

TNA Impact Wrestling was built on the back of AJ Styles like WCW was built on the back of Sting. Both were original, home-grown stars  of their respective company. Both were the guys that WWE castaways put over clean after steamrolling everyone else. Both made as much money and gained as much prestige as possible while never working for Vince McMahon in the pro wrestling business.

If you know about TNA Impact Wrestling, you probably know one of the following things. They’re on Spike TV, they film in Orlando, they used to have this really exciting thing called the X Division. AJ Styles is the key player in front of the curtain responsible for each. He literally is what the X Division was built around. TNA got to Orlando and got to Spike based on AJ’s star power. AJ Styles is who Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter sold in business meetings to get the deals to shoot at Universal Studios and to get the one hour Saturday show on Spike TV. Not Sting, not Kurt Angle, not Hulk Hogan…AJ Styles. AJ is what is known in sports as a franchise player. He is Derrick Jeter, he is Lebron James, he is Tom Brady.

AJ never had to think about going to WWE because TNA always paid him well. He has three children and a wife that live in a pseudo mansion in Georgia. Just as Sting and his wife and children live in a mansion in California. Alternative wrestling money spends the same as WWE money. Not working for WWE doesn’t make one a failure or a wannabe. Do the legacies of AJ Styles and Sting take a hit for never being on a WrestleMania card? Yes. Does it mean that they need to take a backseat to anyone of their respective generations? Absolutely not.

Sting takes a backseat to no one in the New Generation or Attitude eras. AJ Styles takes a backseat to no one in the Ruthless Aggression or Universe eras either.

AJ Styles accomplishment list reads like this:

  • 2 time TNA World Heavyweight Champion
  • 6 time TNA X Division Champion
  • 2 time TNA Television Champion
  • 2 time TNA World Tag Team Champion
  • 3 time NWA World Heavyweight Champion
  • 4 time NWA World Tag Team Champion
  • 1st ROH Pure Wrestling Champion
  • ROH Tag Team Champion
  • Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion
  • PWI 500 #1 of 2010
  • Recipient of Dave Melter 5 Star Match Award for Unbreakable 3 Way vs Samoa Joe & Chris Daniels in 2005

That list should paint the rest of the picture as to why one need not be a mark to consider AJ Styles the best wrestler of his generation.

Certainly one can hold up John Cena’s merchandise checks, CM Punk’s title reign, and Daniel Bryan’s explosion against AJ Styles. And, there would be no argument against any of those three. But it is important to remember that AJ Styles is on par with all of them. AJ Styles is literally a contemporary of Punk and Bryan, he worked multiple matches against both of them in Ring of Honor. AJ Styles and John Cena are text-book yin yang. You couldn’t pick more different wrestlers to be the faces of the two biggest pro wrestling promotions in North America.

AJ Styles can retire a proud, happy, and satisfied man. He does not need to work for WWE, he does not need that vindication. WWE’s current youth movement indicates that they don’t need him either. Although both would be wise to swallow pride and dogma and work together. There is absolutely no reason AJ Styles can’t sign a three-year contract, work NXT for one, and be a mid card mechanic on the main roster for the other two. A US and IC Title reign along with a handful of WWE Title shots would add to his legacy and make his opponents better workers in the process. AJ Styles doesn’t have an ego. Just don’t give him a ridiculous new name and he’ll be happy to do business. His kids can use extra money in their college fund. With Daniel Bryan being the face of the company for at least the next half decade, there is no reason AJ Styles can’t fit right into the mix on RAW and Smackdown, especially when all of the part timer wrestlers are on hiatus.

But if AJ Styles never sees the inside of a WWE ring, he is still a high level success story. One of the most athletically gifted and technically proficient wrestlers of all time as well as the best high flyer of his generation bar none. He didn’t just dominate the indy scene, be wrestled for and won world championships on national cable television and pay per view for almost a decade. He is equally praised by wrestlers and promoters. He’s a straight edge, religious, family man. He was a PWG Champion before PWG was cool. We as fans have not just been lucky, but have been blessed to have seen AJ Styles have a prime run in the wrestling business from 2002-2014. If John Cena wasn’t your cup of tea for the last ten years, all you had to do was flip from USA to Spike TV and watch AJ Styles have some of the best matches of this or any generation.

In winning the IWGP Heavyweight Title, AJ silences all of his critics. Because now his greatness is undisputable. If WWE doesn’t want him, there’s nothing more he can do to prove he is worthy of not just a contract but a top spot on the main roster. What more can a person do beyond the accolades listed above in the pro wrestling world?

AJ has done everything that is possible without being born half a foot taller so amassing an extra 30 lbs of muscle would be feasible.

AJ Styles started out as just the best and most jaw dropping highspot machine/high flyer of his generation when he became the first TNA X Division Champion. At the same time he showed he could work as a tag team specialist by being 1/2 of the first NWA TNA Tag Team Champions with Jerry Lynn and shortly thereafter being an ROH Tag Champion with Amazing Red. Rather than being a jr heavyweight, flippy flop, tag team guy AJ proved he could work traditional broadway and heavyweight strong style by winning both the NWA World and ROH Pure titles within just a few months of each other. Styles proved such a master at every style of pro wrestling, so quickly, he was able to seamlessly transition between each kind for the next half decade as TNA’s franchise player. He would float between the tag, x, and heavyweight divisions from 2005-20010 depending on whichever division had a hole that TNA needed filled. AJ Styles was used to twice stabilize the horrendously booked TV Title division. In fact it was AJ who named it the TV Title after for whatever ridiculous reason(s) the belt had been branded Legends and Global. Only a franchise player can do something like that.

The knock on AJ was always his mic skills. Not his charisma, but his mic skills. If someone said AJ Styles didn’t have charisma, they weren’t watching his matches. But AJ’s mic skills left much to be desired. His best run of promos came during his first run as NWA World Champion, when he was a cocky heel with Vince Russo as his manager. But his matches were so great, not good, but great that anyone and everyone was happy to ignore his lackluster promos. Just like how John Cena’s merch sales and charity work are supposed to forgive his equal parts boring and predictable ring skills. But unlike Cena, AJ Styles worked hard to correct his obvious shortcomings as a performer.

Styles worked with behind the scenes and in kayfabe with the likes of Vince Russo, Raven, Jeff Jarrett, Chris Daniels, Christian, Ric Flair, and Sting to evolve his character, grow as a performer, sharpen his acting chops, and bring out the verbal “it factor” to connect with fans on the mic. He made progress, certainly. His promos were never has bad as his critics would make it seem. They were easily on par with his PG Era WWE contemporaries John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Big Show, Edge, and Alberto Del Rio. AJ is certainly a step behind the likes of CM Punk, Triple H, and The Undertaker but who isn’t?

Unlike even most top-tier stars, AJ’s strengths far outweighed his weaknesses. His last year in TNA was a 12 month story about the rise, fall, and rebirth of AJ Styles. From the Phenomenal One to No One. Styles was again willing to do something different, that he hadn’t done before, and go dark heel. Old school heel like Chris Jericho did after his return to WWE in 2008. Styles cast aside all of his high-flying moves and his iconically innovative finisher the Styles Clash to become a submission specialist.

Styles fused the No One and Phenomenal One characters together to win the Bound for Glory Series #1 Contender Tournament, then main evented and won the TNA World Title in the main event of Bound For Glory IX. His last month in the company saw him have some of the best promos and matches of his career. Less than six months after leaving TNA when a new contract couldn’t be negotiated he is the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

He won the title as a heel, after aligning with the Bullet Club faction. But while his stablemates kept kayfabe in the ring, Styles couldn’t help but smile, cry, and breathe a sigh of relief that will last the rest of his life…then he snapped back into kayfabe and did the heel celebration pose thing.

AJ Styles has achieved the peace of mind of knowing he has done all he is capable of doing to achieve all that he is capable of achieving. That ladies and gentlemen is called success. AJ Styles is a true success story of wrestling and of life. AJ Styles can look himself in the mirror and can look any other man, woman, or child in the eye and say he did everything within his power to become the greatest professional wrestler/sports entertainer of all time. He can’t make Vince sign him. He can’t make Triple H push him. He can however be The Phenomenal AJ Styles, and if you ask me, I’ll agree with the man himself that being phenomenal is better, than being the best in the world.