Monday June 1, 2009 could be a wrestling turning point. It could also be a tease, but for the sake of optimism, let's go with the former.
For those who may have missed Monday Night Raw this week, and judging by the ratings, that would be most of you, Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) defended his US title against Kofi Kingston.
Prior to them coming out to have the match, the two had a friendly banter backstage building this match as two respected friends fighting over the same title. This is something done in the old school (see Bret Hart/Roddy Piper at Wrestle Mania 8).
Well, the promo built the match well, but the crowd did not seem into it. Then again, this crowd was never up all night, as they just seemed bored with the entire presentation.
Considering the shows that have been produced for Raw lately, I am not surprised. To review, the last few weeks have been either John Cena or Big Show fighting, Randy Orton trying to avoid Batista, the Miz delivering good promos against Cena without letting Miz get over in the ring and finally, Ric Flair hinting a return to the ring.
Did I forget Vickie Guerrero feuding with the Marella "family?" Sorry!
Needless to say, the flagship show of the WWE has been floundering terribly. And no, HHH is not the reason, as the show was awful when he was around also.
However, once you get past another lousy Kelly Kelly match, you find WWE's next big stars.
Matt Hardy and William Regal have been around a while, but as respected guys in the dressing room, these two are perfect to be the ones to help put the younger stars over. And they are building themselves in the process of building the younger guys, which is perfect for all.
No star has shone brighter than MVP. MVP was able to quickly sway from a hated heel to respected babyface.
In one of the WWE's better recent storylines, MVP went through a 20+ match losing streak, where he was losing some of the wealth he acquired from his SmackDown contract.
By the time he finally did win, the crowd seemed happy to see a man redeem himself and get back to where he came from. And ever since, MVP has flourished both on the mic for promos and in the ring.
Then came the WWE draft. I hate the draft, but it is WWE's way of shaking up the rosters for each show (even though guys go to and from each show all the time). MVP was drafted to Monday Night Raw and granted a match against Randy Orton on the first night in.
I was hoping for a Shelton Benjamin moment for MVP. For those unfamiliar, Shelton Benjamin was drafted to Raw in 2004. Upon arrival, Shelton Benjamin went against HHH the first night in. Thanks to a distraction from Chris Benoit, Shelton upset HHH and seemed to be a made man that night.
Of course, we know WWE never pushed further with Shelton, despite Shelton having a Match for the Ages with Shawn Michaels later that year.
So, the fact MVP lost his Raw debut by DQ thanks to Shane McMahon that night might be a mixed blessing. Then again, it could be another in a long line of mistakes by the McMahon's of not seeing a star when it is staring them right in the face.
Now, as for Kofi Kingston, he started on ECW. He survived the whole "Jamaican me crazy" nonsense from Mike Adamle and went on to gain plenty of fans on the show. While never winning a title on ECW, he developed a style unlike any other superstar, and fans took notice.
June, 2008 was looking to be the official turning point for WWE.
In this month, former Ring of Honor champion and longtime indy favorite CM Punk captured the World Heavyweight championship from Edge. In this same time period, Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase were introduced as Team Priceless and were the reigning World Tag Team Champions.
Finally, Kofi Kingston defeated Chris Jericho to become Intercontinental Champion.
All looked right with the world, but just as soon as it started, it all fell apart. By the end of the summer, CM Punk would no longer be the World champion, and he never was even in the match for his belt.
Then, Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix won a convuluted tag match for the IC and Women's title, meaning Kofi lost his belt without him taking the fall. And of course, we all know Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase have been buried as part of Randy Orton's Legacy ever since.
So, after reviewing all that history, we come to the match between Kofi and MVP. For all the youngsters out there, this match harkened back to Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat in 1987.
In that match, Savage and Steamboat both showed themselves as future world champions having what many still consider the best WrestleMania match of all-time. A huge reason for this was the fluid movement in the match and the 29 near falls in the contest.
MVP and Kofi Kingston displayed this same drive. And the finish to this match warmed this old wrestling fan's heart, as MVP reversed a sunset flip, only for Kofi to reverse it back and score the victory.
MVP and Kofi Kingston could be added to a who's who list of former US and IC champions that went on to the world title. That list includes Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, HHH, The Rock, Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Pedro Morales and Lex Luger.
I know the titles have had less meaning in the past years, particularly the Intercontinental and US titles. However, if this match is any indicator, maybe two future World champions came out of this match, and both putting each other over might finally create the next boom for WWE.
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