Hello out there Bleacher fans, wrestling fans, the IWC and anyone else reading this article. I have noticed in reading posts of some of my fellow contributors and even my own posts, that we do an awful lot of complaining about the current wrestling fare.
Admittedly, this is deserved in many cases. TNA has strayed from what has gotten it to the dance, the X Division, and is paying the price. WWE has a ridiculously bloated roster where many talented wrestlers are wasted with lousy plots or no plot at all…and let’s not get into the tag team subtraction (it’s so bad it doesn’t deserve to be a ‘division’).
I’ll address these at another time.
I wanted to take this opportunity to address a pleasant trend: both companies are making better, more enjoyable shows in my opinion.
This article will look at some of the things I have enjoyed from the two companies and what I hope will continue coming from the creative teams of the house of Messers Helmsly and Hogan.
If I had to hand out a most improved award I’d have to hand it out to WWE. There have been a number of things that I have really enjoyed from WWE including:
John Cena vs. CM Punk
Without question, this has been the best plot coming out of WWE in so very long for several reasons. First off, you have two very talented wrestlers…I can hear the IWC Cena haters howling already at this statement and I will be the first to say that CM Punk is one of the very best pure wrestlers out there and the superior one in the ring. But John Cena is greatly underrated and in a way, the differences in their styles has made for some great matches.
Punk is a masterful technical wrestler with a lot of kicks. Cena is basically a brawler and while “brawlers” are looked down on, they are fun to watch and Cena is masterful in this style. The result of this is a great contrast of styles with two wrestlers who know how to sell a match. It is no mistake that the Romans used to make gladiators with very different and contrasting offense/defense combinations clash in the ring. It makes for entertaining matches and of these two gladiators were placed in a roman arena we could easily see the beefy Cena as one of the armored Provocatores or Samnites, tanks of the Roman ring vs. the Cestus or Hoplomachi, agile and dashing fighters.
Aside from the clinic in contrasting styles, we have two very good mic workers. Again, CM Punk, one of the best around, but Cena not being far behind. Another bit of genius allowing CM Punk to really take the lead in this feud and in the mic wars as all good heels should.
This leads me to the best thing about this feud and that is the CM Punk promos, especially the infamous 6/27 shoot on Raw. Not only was he riveting as the Machiavellian villain spouting his manifesto and listing his gripes, but also more importantly, the blurring of the already blurred line between reality and kayfabe. Punk even references it in the promo. Not since the NWO and DX has there been a more tantalizing look at the smoke behind the house of mirrors which is Pro Wrestling. And with the Straight Edged one returning this past Monday sporting the fitting “Cult of Personality” as an entrance song, this is one plot that is the gift that keeps giving.
Finally! The days of the rapping Mark Henry, dancing Mark Henry, ridiculous looking Mark Henry are over. Mark Henry has been the victim of some of the worst character development in a company notorious for crappy character development. It is great to see Mark Henry back as a heel in a big, monster way. A character like Mark Henry belongs as a heel and is ill suited for anything else. Henry’s main foil in all this, Big Show, is able to do both and it is a credit to his flexibility, but Mark Henry is a monster heel, period. In fact, this plot line is about the best, most interesting thing on SmackDown. The Orton vs. Christian feud bored me quickly and it is probably because while I love Christian no matter what, Orton as a face doesn’t fit.
The days of "What’s Up" and the even worse "Get Crunk" are gone and good riddance. Truth is one of the more entertaining heels in a while to come out of WWE creative and I don’t know what took them so long. He is the perfect, most versatile heel because his constant claims of a conspiracy against him give him an excuse to start with any superstar he perceives as having more success than him, which is everybody. He’s a good worker, but more importantly, he is very entertaining on the mic and cuts hilarious promos.
Alberto Del Rio
The heel I love to hate. I can’t help but cheer for this guy. Great worker, great look, awesome gimmick that fits him like a glove. This wrestler in many ways reminds me of a cross between the Million Dollar man and Rowdy Piper but with his talent, he can advance even farther than both. This is one Heel I am happy to cheer and I eagerly await the day when this son of Mexico fulfills his destiny.
TNA has also been getting things right lately. Here are some ways I feel Hogan’s heroes are bringing it home:
Bound for Glory Invitational
Although this concept is beginning to drag on, I like the idea of matches that mean something outside of this plot or that. Not only does it add an added level of import and tension to the matches, but we are also treated to some great concept matches not normally seen outside of a PPV like steel cage matches, ladder matches and X matches. The idea of having tag team matches and having only one person get the points is a great idea which I hope TNA will do more with. Finally, this concept gives the idea of a No.1 contender a lot more meaning and I feel the winner, in all likelihood Crimson who I love, should get the strap and he’ll have earned it in spades.
At first, a crazy Sting prancing around as a Joker wannabe was…well, I thought it was lame. But give credit to the Icon, he has proven his adaptability and has pulled it off believably and very entertainingly. I have long argued that the strap should be around AJ Styles as an originator and innovator of this company, but if there is one wrestler of the old guard that has proven his relevance and deserves to have the strap, it is the Icon Sting.
I love Eric Young. EY has been an underutilized commodity and is tremendously entertaining. He is great on mic, great as a nut case and a much better wrestler than people realize. While he has been mostly used as comedic filler, it is great to see more of EY and I really hope that TNA uses him a lot more in the future.
Brian is another great wrestler whose time has come. I love wrestlers like Kaz and the Fallen Angel, Christopher Daniels, but I am very glad that TNA is beginning to revitalize the X division. This must continue and expand. Brian Kendrick is in many ways a prototypical X division wrestler and his outlandish personality and better than average mic skills make him a good face of the division. While I would like to see Kaz, Daniels and Styles (for a while, he needs to be champ before the end of the year) get the strap in the coming months, Brian Kendrick is a great way to begin rebuilding this greatly abused and underused cornerstone of TNA and deserves the prominence he has been given.
I was wrong. When this group first formed, I never took them to be a great tag team but they are. Skill and mic come together in the dynamic duo of James Storm and Robert Rood and they are great to watch. The Tag division of TNA is by far the crown jewel of the Pro Wrestling Scene (WWE can’t even compete in this category) and they deserve to be the leaders of this division. Plus, this feud between them and the Mexican American Alliance is an entertaining, well played and well wrestled feud and brings back the good old foreign heat scenario. A clear heel and a clear face, an old but good concept.
Well, that’s it for me fellow nose bleeders. I love to get feedback from you, fellow wrestling fans and hope to get your insights on what YOU feel is good about these two promotions.