Pro Wrestling Enigmas: The Top 10 Conundrums in Sports Entertainment Today
If there is anything that we—as wrestling fans—suffer from, it's a myriad of confusing conundrums that will make your head spin faster than a Sin Cara huracanrana.
Whether we're watching WWE, TNA or one of the various independent promotions around the world, there always seems to be at least one instance of ineptitude from the booking and creative teams that leave us scratching our heads.
From bogus storyline ideas to extremely bad booking to unnecessary pushes to wasted talent, wrestling fans and the IWC specifically never seem to run out of things to complain about.
Being that there are so many enigmas floating around the wrestling world today, curb your wrestling nerd rage just a tad and let us delve into my perception of the top 10 most illogical and nonsensical things happening in wrestling today.
10. Mason Ryan
What is it about Mason Ryan that's got everyone's knickers in a twist?
I already know I'll probably catch significant heat for this but if anyone has proven themselves comfortable playing devil's advocate, it's me.
So I'll ask again—What is it about Mason Ryan that screams "big time player!" to everyone?
Is it because he's big and strong? Or maybe it's because he's got lots of muscles and he can throw people.
If that's what you base your argument on, then good luck making a case for him.
Vince McMahon is notorious for favoring big men in his company. While certain guys like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were able to break through that particular mold, the fact remains that the good majority of big-time players in the WWE have been larger guys.
His look isn't nearly enough to convince me of anything as Mason Ryan falls into a large pool of guys exactly like him—big, lumbering, muscle-bound behemoths.
This does not make him stand out.
The fact that he looks like Batista and has been touted as his figurative doppelganger makes him even less original.
He's shown about the same potential on the mic as The Great Khali and in the few outings I've seen him in that weren't unofficial group beatdowns, he's shown that he's green as grass and could likely have done with a bit of molding on television before being forcibly thrust into a program involving the New Nexus.
Yet anyone that watched RAW last night could see exactly what was being done.
Mason Ryan was put into the Main Event of the evening against one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions in Kane in a match and segment that were designed for the sole purpose of trying to get Ryan over.
And you know what? I still don't buy him. So he can growl, flex and spear Big Show.
He's not the first guy with the ability to do that, and he certainly won't be the last.
Obviously, he hasn't had significant time to run his course or reach his full potential but he makes this list simply between the WWE appears determined to push him before he's ready and as usual, there are a myriad of fans foaming at the mouth singing the praises of a glorified Batista clone.
Time will tell what kind of impact Mason Ryan makes but I stand by my claim that the push he's starting on is way too much, way too soon.
9. Michael Cole
This man would probably be much further down the list if not for the fact that his eight list successors possess more mystifying cases than his.
Reports are circulating that Vince McMahon is very high on heel Michael Cole as one of the company's best characters.
There are a lot of complaints I have about him, both personal and professional that I'll get into but I'd like to start with the one major issue I have with this man and his push.
He's a freaking announcer!
Someone please explain to me why the best heat on RAW belongs exclusively to Michael Cole and Vickie Guerrero, an announcer and a valet.
Someone please explain to me why valuable heat that could be used on getting a competitor over is being wasted on an announcer.
At least Vickie Guerrero is associated with a competitor in Dolph Ziggler and her heat, while completely overshadowing, still translates over to Ziggler.
Michael Cole is not translating heat to Jack Swagger. In fact, Jack Swagger is being used to translate more heat onto Michael Cole!
Again, someone explain this to me! What good is this doing for anyone?
Is Michael Cole a fully trained and and experienced wrestler? No he's not. Will people pay money to see him get his butt whooped?
Well, certainly. And I'm sure that's the general reason being given for his inane push but why is it so excessive? This storyline of his has gone on long enough.
In addition to this, the man overdoes the gimmick in spades.
Does anyone remember legendary heel announcers, like Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Jesse Ventura and the earlier version of Jerry "The King" Lawler?
If there is any one defining trait that all three of these men share, it's that they pick their spots. Their lines incite you, which is good, but they are far more effective because they take potshots.
Michael Cole just jabbers non-stop about himself, putting himself over, to the point where it literally becomes difficult—not just annoying—but difficult to enjoy the program.
It's run it's course. He's not the second coming of Vince McMahon. He's a middle-aged annoying jockstrap-sniffer in a monkey suit who occasionally puts on a traffic cone colored singlet and irritating headgear to "compete."
It was interesting at first. Now, it's just wasting valuable camera time that could be used real talent.
The only way Michael Cole goes from being a conundrum to viable would be to remove him from the desk and use him as a manager, so his heat benefits someone other than himself.
But that makes too much sense, doesn't it?
8. Zack Ryder
Much like he has displayed on his increasingly popular YouTube show, Z! True Long Island Story, the WWE has completely and utterly missed the boat and dropped the ball as it relates to Zack Ryder.
My writing colleagues are already aware of my Zack Ryder markishness but as always, I come prepared with ammunition to back up my claims.
The man is one of the only true characters left in WWE and he is a rarity in that he does not fall into the pool of "generic WWE Superstars" that so many wrestlers are falling victim to.
He's got an original catchphrase, a unique look and personality coming out of his ears.
He eats mic skills for breakfast, solid ring-work for lunch and brushes his teeth with charisma-paste.
What about Zack Ryder keeps WWE from pushing him?
I'm not going to overhype the guy like the IWC tends to do.
Is he an instant World Champion?
He could be. Look no further than The Miz if you want proof that anyone with the proper tools can overcome gimmick restrictions and break that mold to become a major player.
At the very least, the man should be featured on RAW and in a mid-card Championship hunt. He's built a fan following 101 percent on his own merits, with absolutely no support or backing from WWE management.
And yet, that may be the very thing that keeps him held back.
WWE management seems incredibly spiteful of anyone that they deem unimportant that finds a way to get over on their own merits. If you get over without the WWE's backing or blessings, they'll find a way to nip that in the bud.
After all, an atmosphere where the Superstars didn't have to rely on management to be successful would be dangerous. It would promote independent thinking and creativity. Sounds an awful lot like what our Government does, right?
Without getting into politics, I'll digress.
I'm a proud member of the Zack Pack. A man who shoots a webshow from his house with a handheld camera and amasses over 100,000 views per video is clearly sending a message. He's got the talent and he's money waiting to be made.
He's a ready made, pre-packaged character complete with his own storyline, and he has the ring-work and the mic skills to back up a push.
You don't even have to work WWE. Just stick the guy in matches and promos and let him do the work and he'll make you the money. It's not that hard of an equation.
7. Cruiserweight Wrestling
As the caption dictates, this particular ball has been dropped by both WWE and TNA but Vince McMahon's empire holds the dubious distinction of completely eliminating the division from its existence.
This has always been a mystery to me and with the every growing number of wasted competitors within WWE ranks, the lack of a Cruiserweight Division and Championship is more mind-boggling than ever.
Let's keep in mind that the prestige of the Championship was almost irreparably damaged when it was retired by Hornswoggle of all people.
With guys like Yoshi Tatsu, Evan Bourne, Tyson Kidd, Zack Ryder and Primo—among others—being completely wasted and a new international cruiserweight sensation being signed in Sin Cara, there is literally no good reason to not have a division for these guys.
In fact, I can even present a scenario for WWE if that's too much work for them to do.
Take all of the WWE Divas, since most of them can't wrestle worth a flip anyways, and stick them on RAW, the show best known for it's entertainment value.
Take all of these light-heavyweight and cruiserweight guys that are drowning in midcard hell and stick them all on SmackDown!, the show best known for it's in-ring product.
Bring back the Cruiserweight Championship and tweak that weight limit rule a little to let some of the slightly larger but wasted guys compete or reinstate the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Not only will this give each show it's own exclusive division, but it will also give all of these wasted guys something to compete for and something to do on TV.
One of the few things that WCW did right, at first anyways, was the Cruiserweight Division. This was the place where guys like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Rey Mysterio really made their mark and established themselves.
And even though WCW never wanted to admit it, people paid to see these guys do their thing.
If nothing else, people have paid before and would pay again just to see the car crashes that some of these competitors could put on and it would give all of them a chance to establish themselves and potentially build future Main Event competitors.
Or is that too much work for a creative team featuring Hollywood writers, soap opera scripters and Freddy Prinze Jr.?
6. World ********* Entertainment
Now, in hindsight, I can understand why World Wrestling Entertainment decided to re-brand themselves as just WWE.
The chances of them being pigeonholed as only a pro-wrestling company decrease when the word "wrestling" is no longer in their name and they do have plenty of opportunities to capitalize on outside of the world of wrestling.
However, I feel that WWE has taken this measure way too far.
In the end, wrestling will always be wrestling, no matter how hard it tries not to be. What will WWE always be best known for?
No matter how many movies they make, no matter how many scripted shows they produce, regardless of if they have their own TV network or not and despite the fact that they're a leading seller of merchandise and producer of live event television, at the end of the day they are still a wrestling-based company.
Taking the word wrestling out of the company name may help with pursuing their other endeavors but banning the word from ever being used just insults everyone's intelligence.
Even when people use terms like "WWE Superstar", they're still going to refer to these people as wrestlers. No casual fan in his right mind is going to refer to it as an action-soap opera and having your announcers and promoters call it that simply desensitizes and discredits everything these people do.
The whole point of kayfabe is to allow people to suspend their disbelief. When you can get into a match and forget that professional wrestling (yes WWE, I said it) is scripted, then you are suspending your disbelief. Kayfabe keeps things in character and allows people to do that.
When you literally promote and describe yourself as an action-soap opera, you've taken these people's ability to suspend their disbelief and you've snapped it like a cheap Slim Jim.
Some may call this nitpicking, but this is my story and I'm sticking to it.
Oh and WWE, it doesn't make much sense to ban words like wrestling and wrestlers and then let your competitors and announcers continue to use them on TV anyways. Make up your minds.
5. TNA's Booking
Anyone that has read my work knows my stance on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
I'm one of their staunchest critics, often chastising them for their inability to succeed after nine years in existence.
Can you blame me?
As a fan of professional wrestling, I understand that competition breeds success. Competition leads to everyone going all-in and producing the best product possible and the ultimate winners in that scenario are the fans.
The man featured in the slide image is one of the single biggest reasons why TNA is equivalent to cannon fodder marinated in failure sauce.
The following is an excerpt that happens to be one of the most accurate depictions of Vince Russo's contributions to wrestling that I could find:
"Russo attempted to use the same style in WCW that had made him successful in the WWF at an accelerated pace, including constant heel/face turns, fake retirements, and title changes.
"Swerves and scenarios treated as "shoots" were heavily emphasized, as wrestlers supposedly gave unscripted interviews using "insider" terms that were only recognized by the Internet smarks; chaotic broadcasts became the norm. Russo booked actor David Arquette to win the WCW World Title and at one point toward the end of his WCW stay even booked himself to be champion."
Put these all together and you have exactly what TNA is today, minus Ted Turner's bottomless pocketbook.
So it should come as no surprise that with Vince Russo at the helm of TNA's booking team, they've done nearly everything WCW did that killed them. And without even stopping for that 83-week ratings win we seem to always talk about.
Need I say anymore?
Fail, TNA. Complete, utter fail.
4. WWE's Booking
I've known for quite a while that Vince McMahon has loaded the creative team for Monday Night RAW with actors, soap opera script designers and Hollywood writers.
I've known that for quite a while and it still makes me sick just thinking about it.
While TNA is largely known for having absolute crap booking, it's almost expected at times.
Not that TNA automatically equals crap because they've had plenty of moments of brilliance. But taking into consideration that they have considerably less resources than WWE and their creative team is headed by Vince "Wrestling shouldn't make sense" Russo and you nearly expect there to be flaws.
But what is WWE's excuse?
You're a multi-billion dollar corporation. You're the best known wrestling company on the entire planet and a giant in the realm of merchandising and live event production.
There is absolutely no excuse for WWE's booking to be as lackluster as it is. With the WWE in general falling into a dangerous formulaic pattern in regards to all of their writing and in-ring performance and it's no wonder that so many fans are quick to balk at them.
With so many abundant resources and the name value and television credentials to back it up, there is no reason for a bunch of Hollywood yahoos who know zip-zero nada about wrestling to be booking a wrestling oriented television show.
Oh, and TNA Apologists, keep in mind that I've ranked WWE's booking as being even more of a nonsensical fail than TNA's booking. Not only is it true but it's also for the fanboys that accuse me of:
A. "Hating" only on TNA.
B. Praising the WWE and never criticizing them.
Nice to see a little journalistic integrity in the world, isn't it?
3. TNA Originals
Do you see the above picture?
What do you see when you look at that? I see AJ Styles, legitimately one of the best wrestlers in the world today. A man who was recently ranked Number One on the PWI 500 list of the best wrestlers in the world.
Now, granted it's Pro Wrestling Illustrated so take that with a grain of salt but you'd be hard pressed to find a professional wrestling publication that is better known.
Given that even the mighty WWE has referenced PWI in the past, it's safe to say that the rankings are probably as legitimate as any others you'll ever see.
So how does TNA respond to having the No. 1-ranked professional wrestler in the entire world?
They take him and the other TNA home grown talent and TNA based wrestlers and cram them all in the backseat of a used limousine being driven by aging WCW stars from the '90's and ex-WWE talent that have flocked to TNA as a way to stay relevant and/or avoid the WWE Wellness Policy.
You might be thinking, "Gee Quinn, that's still a limousine. That's not a bad ride at all."
The problem is, when you've got an abundance of TNA home grown talent and young guys that should be getting over and they are all being crammed into one back seat to make headway for ex-WWE guys and the Hogan And Bischoff Variety Show, it stops mattering that the vehicle is a limo and it starts mattering that they're crammed into a frigging back seat.
Take Bound For Glory 2010.
Want to know what TNA's example of proper use of their home grown stars is?
Jobbing AJ Styles, the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the entire world, out to Tommy "Quintessential Jobber" Dreamer. In a match that never should have taken place because the overwhelming majority of one of the teams (EV 2.0) was comprised of ECW bingo hall stars that, God bless them, couldn't get over outside of ECW if their lives depended on it.
If that's not enough proof, look to the main event of that same PPV offering.
Mr. Anderson vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle.
And no, that's not a WWE marquee you're reading. That was TNA's main event to their biggest event of the year.
AJ Styles gets pinned by Tommy Jobber while three ex-WWE stars main event.
If that's not enough proof for you, look further back to AJ Styles holding the TNA Championship for six months.
The man defended it against all comers, raised its prestige and truly earned that ranking as the number one wrestler in the world (I keep repeating this for emphasis.)
Why did he do all this?
So he could job the title to Rob Van Dam, a man who had been in TNA long enough for a cup of coffee in a match they gave away for free on TV.
Fast forward to present day and who is in the World title picture?
Mr. Anderson and Sting.
An ex-WWE guy and an aging veteran that was more than likely given the Title as an incentive for not signing with the WWE during WrestleMania season.
Where is AJ Styles?
He's still floating around in a faction.
Did I mention that Vince Russo just loves factions...?
2. Tag Team Wrestling
What is it about tag team wrestling that apparently spells "C.R.A.P.?"
We've come to a point in the cyclical wrestling process where we find that the glory days of tag teams are long gone.
Well, in the big leagues, Vince McMahon has deemed tag team wrestling a bit archaic and claims that no one really pays money to see that.
Over in TNA, they had the right idea at first and like everything TNA does, they rammed that face first into a wall until we were left with nothing more than an unrecognizable jar of fail paste.
Here's the true conundrum here—Why on Earth does anyone in their right mind thing that throwing two random guys with no direction together will form a successful tag team?
In very specific cases this has worked.
Rob Van Dam and Booker T. RVD and Rey Mysterio.
But discounting rare cases like that and it usually doesn't go very far.
You want to know why no one pays to see tag team wrestling?
You want to know why tag team wrestling isn't drawing?
Because there are no freaking tag teams!
All we have are guys being thrown together for absolutely no reason. Who is going to emotionally invest in two guys that are obviously only teaming because WWE won't give them anything to do in a Singles capacity?
Why pay to see the Tag Team Titles being chased and defended when we have lackluster matches featuring teams that, as we've established, no one has emotionally invested into?
Remember when a lot of names on the rosters were parts of factions? I don't mean TNA style factions or even today's mediocre WWE styled factions.
I'm talking things like the Nation of Domination, the Corporation, the McMahon-Helmsley Era. Real, honest to goodness factions that had reasons for existing and proper storytelling and matches to make people buy into them.
Remember when we had TLC matches and two out of three falls matches and tag team turmoils?
How could you not care about the Championships when watching people sailing through tables, insane double team combinations and groups of men literally beating the crap out of one another for the right to be called Champions?
Want to know why tag team wrestling doesn't draw?
Because you took away all the real tag teams and their most unique ways of entertaining us.
Speaking of which, this leads us to number one...
1. The PG Era
This has been done to death so I won't beat a dead horse too much but I've rarely addressed my extreme dislike of the current PG era of wrestling being offered by WWE. This to me is the most puzzling and nonsensical conundrum of all.
You're a company that has a core market in professional wrestling.
Professional wrestling is also a form of entertainment that more or less teaches you how to solve your problems with violence. In professional wrestling, people are frequently struck with folding chairs, put through tables and slammed into floors and ring stairs.
Yet this same product is being marketed towards children?
I do understand that children (and more importantly, their parents) are likely the main source of revenue as far as show attendance and merchandise goes.
My problem is the hypocrisy in all of this. There is no way to safely market wrestling to kids.
You just can't do it. You can show all of the "Don't Try This At Home" commercials you want, dumb it down and remove any and all things that might make it even slightly appealing to adults and still, it's a bad idea to market this to kids.
Yet WWE does it anyways.
In the PG Era, we've seen that bleeding is taboo, cussing is frowned upon and anything that might have once been considered a dangerous gimmick match (Hell In A Cell, Elimination Chamber) has been reduced to nothing more than giant steel stage props that barely get any use.
Marketing towards younger fans? Yeah, I guess.
Subliminally teaching them to spend all of their parents' money on WWE merchandise, that's pretty cunning.
Insulting the intelligence of and alienating the majority of older fans for the sake of ineptly marketing your inherently violent product towards children and you have the makings of today's formulaic, unimpressive and generally mediocre WWE.
Of course, understanding that the way to go is to go 120 miles per hour speeding in the opposite direction, TNA regularly features grisly acts of bloody graphic violence and provocative scantily clad women.
Oh, and 60 year old Ric Flair bleeding all over the place.
Let's not even go there.
As I said in the beginning, there are plenty of conundrums and nonsensical goings-on that you could unravel in the pro wrestling world?
Did you love my list? Did you hate it?
Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comment section below and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @Sir_Quinn.
Who knows? Maybe some of you will find enough head-scratchers to compile your own lists with.