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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Royal Rumble

Welcome, one and all. It's your trusty managing editor, Jeff Ruoss here reporting from the Royal Rumble. Well, not really. Instead of being in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm sitting on my couch in Manayunk, Pennsylvania. I've got my blog, bros (friends), and bourbon, and I'm ready to take notes. Expect updates at the end of every match and we'll hopefully keep you entertained.

So sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy!

ECW championship
Christian (C) vs. Ezekiel Jackson

8:09 - Everyone shows up. Well, Shawn, Karen, Brittany, and Gardner come. Gardner brought his bear hug shirt, infinitely more interesting than this match has been so far.

8:11 - William Regal is kicked out of the match. Who even knew he was involved?

8:13 - Shawn is pretty sure Christian is going to come back in the end. If WWE wants Christian to be recognized as a solid champion, they won't let him lose this way. Even Karen feels bad for him, and she's not even sure why she's here.

8:15 - Someone is really trying to build up Ezekiel Jackson. That's the only reason I can think why this match has gone this long.

8:18 - Christian wins. He had no right to do so based upon how badly he was beaten. Britt isn't sure why the smaller, less athletic person came out on top. No one in the crowd is either.

Had a lot to post about The Miz vs. MVP but even my computer wasn't sure how to handle it. Thus I got the blue screen of death. The Miz wins, pretty sure this PPV has been rather odd so far.

WWE championship
Sheamus (C) vs. Randy Orton

8:47 - It's pointed out that the WWE championship has never changed hands in Atlanta. Please begin to place bets that the WWE championship will now change hands in Atlanta.

8:49 - People are cheering Orton. Has he become a compassionate figure. Why does this seem wrong on a lot of levels?

8:52 - Sheamus looks relatively strong in this match. Guess old Vince is trying to make sure the big, white monster is as believably tough as everyone thinks he should be.

8:55 - Shawn points out that the WWE championship match has been placed before a women's match. Either there is going to be a killer twist to the Rumble or someone made the big guy angry backstage.

9:00 - So Sheamus keeps the title thanks to a Cody Rhodes' interference. Thanks, WWE, for making sure your main champion is presented in a strong way. Gardner isn't sure how Cody didn't know he was doing something wrong. Or why Randy is so upset.

9:02 - Well, this is the beginning of the downfall of Legacy. Orton has dropped everyone. And now Sheamus gets to be a strong figure by boot-smashing Orton. Yet the crowd still boos him. Maybe it's because he's so pale; they just don't know how to cheer for someone with a lack of pigmentation.

WWE Women's championship
Michelle McCool (C) vs. Mickie James

9:14- Layla and Michelle McCool are surprised when Mickie James' music came on. Were they not aware she was in the match?

9:15- Mickie James wins in under 20 seconds. It actually took me longer to write this sentence. No idea where Creative wanted to go with this one, and something tells me they didn't know either.

WWE World championship
The Undertaker (C) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

9:24 - The Undertaker still has the most impressive entrance of anyone in wrestling. Take that, Hulk.

9:28 - Rey can still fly. Unfortunately for him, it's not due to his own will. Wow, 'Taker.

9:30 - Matt Stryker is pretty adamant that old Rey is going to take this one. The little man is going to need to actually connect on some offensive move first; guess Stryker and I are reading from a different script.

9:32 - If there is one thing we've learned from this match, it's that Stryker can't tell the difference between his left and right.

9:33 - 'Taker's nose is busted open. "If it bleeds, we can kill it," Arnold Sh
warzenegger, Predator.

9:35 - T
his is a pretty one-sided match. Even Lawler and Cole have called it that way. Is it possible to say that a guy whose been in the big leagues for more than 15 years is getting a bad rub? If it is, Mysterio is getting one of those rubs.

9:38 - Rey gives a hell of a final push to make it a great fight. Not Match of the Year, but still a good one. No way Rey was walking out of Atlanta with the belt, could tell that from the get-go.

Royal Rumble

9:49 - Dolph Ziggler draws number one. I'm going out on a limb here and saying his losing streak continues. Ever notice how his losing streak hasn't gotten as much attention as MVP's did? Go figure.

9:50 - Evan Bourne draws number two. Let's start the countdown to see who number three will be. Obviously, this time can't count come soon enough.

9:52 - Punk draws number three and quickly eliminates Ziggler and Bourne. Joy, now we get to hear a solid minute and a half of his "straight-edge" nonsense. Who will be the one to step in and stop this?

9:53 - The answer is JTG. But now he's gone, too. Well, this is going well for everyone.

9:55 - Here's The Great Khali. This is odd. But only so because Beth Phoenix has come in and eliminated him.

9:58 - And Punk eliminates yet another. That's five by the official count. Well, if you include Beth Phoenix. Say what you will, but he is damn good as an obnoxious heel.

9:59 - Here comes Triple-H. Something tells me Punk won't be eliminating him as fast as he has everyone else. But I've been known to be wrong before.

10:02 - After all that buildup, a quick departure for Punk. Nice reversal from HHH.

10:07 - If I had a dollar every time they mentioned that Kane has eliminated 11 participants in one Rumble, I'd have at least have been able to afford this pay-per-view.

10:11 - Carlito is in at number 15; I thought he was future endeavored. Well, that's neither here nor there, but he's putting up a rather impressive showing. Okay, spoke too soon. The Miz has dropped Carlito like a bad habit. And still no sign of HBK or Cena. Interesting. Very interesting.

10:14 - Hello, Matt Hardy.

10:14 2/3 - Goodbye, Matt Hardy.

10:15 - And "The Game" is awoken!

10:16 - In less than 30 seconds, HBK has eliminated three men. Make that four. And that includes my pick, Ted DiBiase Jr.

10:18 - Remember when finishing moves actually meant a finish? Well. Cena isn't staying down from a Pedigree, but Triple-H isn't getting back in the ring after some "Sweet Chin Music."

10:29 - Best name of a move in wrestling, hands down, "Skinning The Cat." Amazing. Find me the man who came up with that name and I will shake his hand.

10:32 - Welcome back Edge.

10:33 - So your final four are Edge, HBK, Cena, and Batista. My pick goes to Edge, mainly because he has the best beard. Gardner thinks Brett Michaels is going to win. Poison fans worldwide stand in unison and cheer with him.

10:35 - Is it just me or does it take Shawn a really long time now to tune up the band?

10:37 - So Shawn gets knocked out and superkicks two refs. Pretty sure the look on his face says it all. None of this translates well onto the blog world, however.

10:40 - Edge wins. Fans cheer. Does this mean I should cheer for Edge now? Shawn is upset that he can't grow a beard like that. I'm just happy R-Truth didn't somehow stumble into a victory. The world remains a much more realistic place.

So here's my prediction for Edge: 'Taker loses to Jericho and we see an Edge-Jericho main event. Take it for what it's worth, I broke a shoe lace today.

Jeff Ruoss
Managing Editor

Friday, January 29, 2010

Royal Rumble Predictions

Pay-per-views are always a hot topic of debate here in the PWI office. From people proclaiming outlandish surprises to the slightly jaded older guys like Matt Brock who refuse to believe any real surprises exist anymore. With that being said, we've decided to compile some of the predictions from our writers and editorial staff and throw 'em up on here.

Let us know what you think about our "expert" picks. Agree? Disagree? Only you have the power to let us know where our heads really are. Also, don't forget to check back on Sunday during the Royal Rumble PPV as Managing Editor Jeff Ruoss will keep a running blog going of all the happenings of the biggest wrestling organizations first big show of the year.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the predictions from our contributing writers Brady Hicks (BH), AL Alven (AA), and Louie Dee (LD), senior writers Frank Ingiosi (FI) , Dan Murphy (DM), Al Castle (AC) and our very own Editor-in-Chief Frank Krewda (FK).

Enjoy!

The PWI Editorial Staff

ECW championship
Christian (C) vs. Ezekiel Jackson

BH - Christian is the best on ECW ... PERIOD. I don't see the point in him losing the belt to anybody other than that Zack Ryder guy, and only because he's ready to step up to Raw or Smackdown.
WINNER - CHRISTIAN

AA - Christian has been a terrific champion holding the ECW strap for a WWE-era record six months. He's overdue for a promotion, especially with WrestleMania right around the corner. Jackson has emerged as a monster, and is primed to take the next step.
WINNER: EZEKIEL JACKSON

LD - I think Big Zeke takes it and wins the title. Why? Well, two reasons: A) He has William Regal by his side, and B) It's youth movement time.
WINNER: EZEKIEL JACKSON

FI - Regal interferes and we have a new champion.
WINNER: EZEKIEL JACKSON

DM - I’m calling for Ezekiel Jackson to take the ECW title, leading to a Jackson/William Regal feud and freeing Christian for a jump to either Raw or Smackdown.
WINNER: EZEKIEL JACKSON

AC - Christian's due for a promotion to Raw or Smackdown, but Ezekiel is far too green and unsophisticated in the ring to carry the ECW brand.
WINNER: CHRISTIAN

FK - Christian will retain by DQ after Regal & Kozlov interfere on Jackson’s behalf.
WINNER: CHRISTIAN

With a vote of 4-2, the tribe has spoken. Ezekiel Jackson will take the ECW title from Christian, at least in our opinion.

Women's championship
Michelle McCool (C) vs. Mickie James

BH - Part of me was expecting Maria to turn on her friend and join with Team McCool. Since that hasn't happened in recent weeks, I'm going to go with Mickie James FINALLY getting her revenge.
WINNIER: MICKIE JAMES

AA - McCool and her cohort, Layla, have humiliated "Piggy James" at every turn for months now. Some sort of retribution for James, even if it comes in the form of a win here and a brief title reign, is likely.
WINNER: MICKIE JAMES

LD - This issue is still going on? Could've fooled me with all the TV time they get. Maybe this is the blowoff; either way, I'll take Mickie. There are more heel Divas on SmackDown to challenge her anyway.
WINNER: MICKIE JAMES

FI - WINNIER: MICKIE JAMES

DM - This is the hardest to predict for me. Common sense would dictate that Mickie gets the last laugh after all the taunting, but if WWE truly is upset with Mickie’s so-called weight gain (and for my money, she is by far the most attractive woman on the WWE roster, so this whole weight issue seems completely ridiculous to me), then I see McCool getting the win. After all, WWE is a company that seems to get its jollies from publicly humiliating its talent.
WINNER: MICHELLE McCOOL

AC - Basic storytelling dictates that the good guy - or gal, in this case - wins in the end. And you don't get much more sympathetic than a cute little farm girl being teased about her weight. But considering WWE's past track record, I think the message being sent here isn't, "Be proud of who you are," but rather, "Hit the gym, ladies." And so evil will triumph over good in this one.
WINNER: MICHELLE McCOOL

FK - Piggy, despite her new country music career, is a very sympathetic figure right now, so she’ll get the belt-and turn heel somehow.
WINNER: MICKIE JAMES

With a vote of 5-1 in favor of Mickie James, our council is pretty solidified on who is walking out of the Rumble with the belt. What about you?

World championship
The Undertaker (C) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

BH - Look for 'Taker to retain his title. At this point, The Undertaker needs the title much more than Rey. Retaining it at WrestleMania is a different story ...
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER

AA - Obviously, 'Taker is set for another showdown with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania, but a title doesn't need to be on the line for that to happen. So, we're likely to see a new champion here. Best guess is that Batista gets inserted into the match by Vickie Guerrero, and walks away with the belt. Either way, poor Rey doesn't have a chance.
WINNER: BATISTA

LD - Neither man is what they were 10, five, or even three years ago. And if this were the Rey of yesteryear, I'd say he has a puncher's chance. But he can't fly around the ring as well anymore, and that's about the only way he'd be able to tackle 'Taker's ground game.
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER

FI - With a little help from Batista, The Undertaker takes this one.
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER

DM - Of course, if WWE is building to Michaels vs. Undertaker, there’s little chance 'Taker will drop the belt to Rey Mysterio. I expect a DQ finish involving Batista, leading to the inevitable three-way match at No Way Out.
WINNER: REY MYSTERIO JR.

AC - The winner of this match may depend a lot on its placement in the card. If it goes on before the 30-Man Rumble match, then the Undertaker must hold on to his title in order to make Shawn Michaels' pursuit of victory dramatic. But if it goes on after the Rumble match, it might be even more dramatic for Michaels to win the Rumble, only to have the Undertaker lose the world title later in the night. There goes Michaels' WrestleMania rematch. But I'd bet on the former.
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER

FK - 'Taker’s banged up and it makes sense for him to work even fewer dates. Besides, he called out Shawn last week on Raw. I expect WWE to build the HBK-UT for 'Mania, plus Rey has tons of heels to defend the title against on Smackdown.
WINNER: REY MYSTERIO JR.

With a vote of 3-2 with a very oddly placed vote for Batista, The Undertaker gets the nod to hang on to the big gold belt.

WWE championship
Sheamus (C) vs. Randy Orton

BH - I expect Sheamus has to lose his championship at some point, but I don't think it will be on this night, and to another rulebreaker. I see Sheamus enjoying a run until WrestleMania, to help establish him as a force on Raw.
WINNER: SHEAMUS

AA - Devoid of much build, this comes off as a placeholder match, basically a way to kill time until WrestleMania. WWE has invested too much in Sheamus to have him lose here. Plus, Orton is a stale figure in the main event scene. Sheamus gets another feather in his cap and Orton moves on to, um, something else ...
WINNER: SHEAMUS

LD - As conniving as Orton is (especially with Legacy around), I have a feeling that there's too much volatility in the situation with Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, and John Cena. Someone's bound to get involved and it's going to cost Orton.
WINNER: SHEAMUS

FI - WINNER: SHEAMUS

DM - I see Sheamus getting an upset, “flukey” type victory over Randy Orton, but my Celtic brother will drop the belt prior to 'Mania.
WINNER: SHEAMUS

AC - There's no question that Randy Orton will wear world title gold again by the end of the year, but this doesn't look like his best opportunity to win back his belt. This match seems to be more about testing the waters for Orton's eventual turn into a full-fledged fan favorite. And nothing spells sympathy like being robbed of a world title victory. This may be a sort of passing of the torch from WWE's current top villain to its future one.
WINNER: SHEAMUS

FK - Orton will win with help from Cody Rhodes to help lead to an Orton-DiBiase WrestleMania.
WINNER: RANDY ORTON

Another one sided vote here as the pale-skinned Celtic Warrior seems to be on track to keep his title, at least in our eyes, with a vote of 5-1.

Royal Rumble

BH - Only a handful of names are being tossed around as possible winners. One wrestler who nobody seems to be talking about is Edge. I believe Edge will leapfrog his rival, Chris Jericho, to earn the WrestleMania title shot. And if WWE can find a way to get the World title around Jericho's waist, this could be one of the most intense - and certainly well built - WrestleMania main events in many years.
WINNER: EDGE

AA - One of these years, it would be great to see an out-of-left field winner. As it is this year, I see only John Cena, Shawn Michaels, and Triple-H as realistic possibilities. Cena won the Rumble as a surprise entrant two years ago. And HBK seems too obvious, given his recent interaction with the Undertaker. Triple-H winning may seem obvious on many levels as well, but the potential of a Wrestlemania title match against Sheamus brings this outcome into focus.
WINNER: TRIPLE-H

LD - My heart says Jericho or Punk, my gut says Triple-H. While I'd love to see one of the young guns get the push, it's been "whose turn is it anyway?" among the big names in the Rumble the past five or six years. Jericho and/or Edge are about the only "top" guys who haven't won the Rumble. If Edge is back, I think he and Jericho have a built in 'Mania match waiting to happen so there goes that idea. HHH won the Rumble the "longest" time ago so I think he takes it.
WINNER: TRIPLE-H

FI
- Call it a reversal of fate, as Shawn Michaels will get screwed by his old partner, Triple-H when all is said and done.
WINNER: TRIPLE-H

DM - I have no interest in seeing Shawn Michaels face The Undertaker at WrestleMania again. There’s little chance a rematch will be able to top last year’s Match of the Year, and I’d much rather see the streak on the line against a younger star where a win over “The Dead Man” would mean much more. So, since Michaels/’Taker is the match I’d prefer not to see, I expect it to happen.
WINNER: SHAWN MICHAELS

AC - Fifteen years after he won his first Royal Rumble match, Shawn Michaels will once again stand alone in the ring at the end of the night. And in doing so he will not only have guaranteed himself a WrestleMania world title match, but likely also his equally-coveted 'Mania rematch with the Undertaker. How will Triple-H react to this, especially if he is the last one to be eliminated by Michaels? That's good, old-fashioned wrestling intrigue right there.

WINNER: SHAWN MICHAELS

FK - I've already said it, but Ted DiBiase Jr. will take home the win. This will set up the separation from Orton he needs to split up Legacy and set up a WrestleMania showdown.
WINNER: TED DiBIASE JR.

So the final votes are in. In possibly the toughest match in WWE to predict, we have a prediction. One vote for Edge, two for Michaels, and one for DiBiase Jr. stretch out our votes just enough that three for Triple-H give him a solid victory, at least if our votes actually counted for anything.

There you have it. PWI's crack board of writers and editors have taken their time to set up some predictions, how do you think the Rumble will play out? Feel free to comment on our predictions and overall outcomes. And don't forget to check back on Sunday during the Royal Rumble for an updated running blog of all the what not that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Royal Rumble Surprise Party

Every year, it seems that at least one spot in the Royal Rumble is held back for a “surprise” entrant. Be it a random old-timer, a returning Superstar or even someone back from TNA, there’s always one guy that draws the “hey, I know him!” pop.

Last year it was Rob Van Dam back for a one-night appearance…and I was “lucky” enough to draw his number in the little Royal Rumble pool my friends and I set up.

Who will it be this year?

As of now, there are 24 names announced for the Rumble on WWE.com, and you can up that to 25 if you've read WWE Superstars spoilers. That leaves five spots open for potential surprises.

Sure, there are a few filler guys who will be added in that have no chance of winning (Primo Colon, I’m looking at you), but one of those slots is bound to be taken by a guy you’d never expect, right?

In that vein, I’m going to have a little fun and list five names I wouldn’t mind seeing in the Rumble.

No. 1: Edge
First and foremost, we have a returning star. No one has seen or heard from him in six months or so, and he very well could be fully (or almost fully) recovered from his torn Achilles tendon.

If that’s the case (and the rumored Edge vs. Chris Jericho match at WrestleMania is a go), he could easily return in the Rumble. Have him run in quick, go right after Jericho and eliminate both men. You have an instant feud igniter, an easy way to get rid of Jericho and a quick night for Edge.

No. 2: Booker T
It has been three months since Booker was last seen leaving TNA Bound for Glory on a stretcher.

So why not bring the Bookerman back, even if it’s for a one-shot deal?

The fans (myself included) would pop if “CAN YOU DIG IT, SUCKA?” hit the PA, and because Booker was at the main event level when he left, pretty much anyone would buy him having a chance at winning.

I can dig that.

No. 3: Rob Van Dam
Hell, he did it last year, so why not again? RVD has traditionally done well in the Rumble (he’s been in the final four or five a handful of times) and fans still love him no matter what.

If they threw him in there at, say, No. 15 or 16 and let him hang around for 15 minutes, it wouldn’t be the biggest waste of a spot.

No. 4: Dusty Rhodes
Two years ago, the roof came off Madison Square Garden when WWE Hall of Famers Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka showed up in Rumble.

The 2010 Rumble is in Atlanta, home of Jim Crockett Promotions/NWA/WCW lore. With Dusty stationed in Florida as a huge part of FCW these days, why not bring him up and let him get funky like a monkey for a few more minutes?

I don’t know how easily he could get over that top rope, but there’d be no more fun moment than seeing Dusty, Goldust and Cody Rhodes in the ring at once nailing some poor schmuck with triple Bionic Elbows – nor would there be any easier way to trigger dissension in Legacy (again, if a rumored breakup truly is in the works) than to have Ted DiBiase toss the “Dream,” or even by having Cody do it himself.

No. 5: Doink the Clown
Why the hell not? After all, you could at least have him throw down a banana peel and eliminate, say, Big Show or some other behemoth.

So who would you want to see?

--Louie D
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Paying Tribute To Our Den Mother (Some Georgie Remembrances)

Georgiann Makropoulos, the queen of wrestling journalism, impacted nearly everyone in the industry for 50 years. From wrestlers to the fans, she was everyone’s friend and a respected journalist.

She died of an apparent heart attack on Monday at age 69.

We first met when the former Miss Orsi wrote her monthly fan club review in the ’60s newsstand magazines. She looked at my Original Sheik newsletter and said "Needs work, Hon." That was Georgie—brutally honest.

I’ll never forget her taking me to Arnie Skaaland’s private Holland Hotel enclave in 1974 to get credentialed to photograph a show at Madison Square Garden. “He’ll forget he took care of you last month. Give him this cigar and you’re set!”

She was right. She usually was.

At home, Georgie was all about family, dedicated to husband, George, and their Siamese cat Rocky. She was usually the first person to send me a holiday card each year (with photos including Rocky “reading” PWI).

Georgie attended nearly every Madison Square Garden card for years on end, sitting in her reserved second-row seat. She loved wrestling but had several other interests. “When I want a break from reporting, I hit Atlantic City to gamble and see Don Rickles,” she once told me.

Georgie was also an Elvis Presley historian and loved to talk about being at the Ed Sullivan Theater to see The Beatles’ U.S. debut.

She was a wonderful person who left a huge impact on so many. She will have a sacred spot in my heart for as long as I live.

—Mike Lano

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TNA Genesis: The Beginning of the End?


I hate to beat a dead horse or piggyback on Al's geometry lesson posted below. But as a wrestling journalist, it's usually my duty to cover the sport objectively, even if I don't like the product.

As such, I gave TNA a chance on January 4 (and going forward) because it was a "new era." While I didn't actively dislike TNA before then, I didn't follow it as fervently as others.

To me, it was the 1997 Florida Marlins of wrestling - sure, there were a handful of homegrown future stars, but the bulk of the product relied on past their prime former Superstars thrown together to make a run at the top.

Yet I had several TNA fanboys (who actually now seem more simply like WWE haters) telling me I needed to "cross the line" and that TNA was different, fresh, alternative, insert adjective here. They were wrestling, not sports entertainment - and no sirree, they don't just push WWE retreads simply because of their name value.

Then, I saw a 3-hour Impact where, not counting the outstanding Angle/AJ main, there was about 25 minutes of wrestling content in a 2 1/2 hours, every wrestler who has either ever been tight with Hulk Hogan or released from WWE in the past year show up and booking that made me feel like I was watching a "History of WCW Nitro" seminar.

Fine. First night, gotta establish new stuff, etc.

Then came Genesis.

Know what I saw on Sunday night?

I saw a PPV where the ring setup was changed to look exactly like a 1990 WCW PPV.

I saw 8 matches, all of which featured someone who made their name in WWE (half of which featurd people who have been in WWE within the last 18 months, no less).

I saw Daniels, a TNA stalwart who challenged for the TNA title just weeks ago, jobbed out in the second match to Sean Morley - who looked exactly like the Val Venis that hadn't been relevant since 2005, character and all, just with a different name.

I saw not one second of Jeff Hardy, Orlando Jordan, the Nasty Boys or 90 percent of the other "namedrops" that showed up on the Jan. 4 Impact.

I saw Hogan blatantly namedrop Vince McMahon in an attempt to bash his product - when McMahon's is, at least in terms of ratings, 3x the product Hogan's company puts out.

I saw two matches I had just seen (good or bad) on the 1/4 Impact.

And I saw two more matches where there was a last minute bait and switch replacement. Sure, I'd infinitely rather watch Kevin Nash and Ken Anderson than Scott Hall and Bobby Lashley, but the point remains.

Does any of this sound like a bad WCW flashback to you?

Because it does to me.

Yes, they pushed the homegrown guys a bit. Beer Money Inc. went over "The Band," Matt Morgan & Hernandez won the tag titles, and A.J. Styles is still the TNA champion.

Great. Booker T was WCW champion at the end too.

Unless Hulk Hogan has grand plans to get out of the Impact Zone, TNA has a very good chance of being dead by the turn of 2011.

Considering that people can get into the Impact Zone for free (seriously - it's $20 for a picture of you riding the Mummy inside the park, but Impact tapings are basically just another attraction) there will always be a crowd.

But he's already alienating the diehards within the Zone, and within a year, the nostalgia kick for those who started watching TNA again will have worn off.

What'll be left is a crowd full of attraction seekers that will make the old WCW Disney taping audiences look like the ECW Arena by comparison and a 1.0ish rating of apathetic TV viewers who are stuck in 1998.

The only reason I watched WCW in its dying years was because it was habitual. The product was god awful, but the cable loop in my college dorm didn't have TNN, so if I wanted to continue watching wrestling on Monday nights (like I had since 1986, when my parents used to let me stay up late one night a week to watch WWF Prime Time Wrestling), it was Nitro or nothing.

The way things are going for TNA, a lot of their diehards might find themselves in a similar position.

Changes, indeed.

-Louie Dee
PWI Contributing Writer

Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson


When we first heard the news that Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness were parting ways with Ring Of Honor, Contributing Writer Al Castle took an educated guess at how the future would unfold for both men in their new homes ("It's Danielson vs. McGuinness Again! This Time, However, It's Long Distance," p. 50, The Wrestler/Inside Wrestling, Vol. 31, 2010)

After only a few months, I think it's apparent which wrestler is benefitting more from the change.
Days after signing McGuinness, TNA introduced the cocky Brit as Desmond Wolfe, another cocky Brit, and thrust him into a feud with the company's most talented and widely known wrestler, Kurt Angle. Meanwhie in Stamford, Danielson was held under wraps for weeks, long enough to develop so much ring rust that he actually requested a trip to Florida Championship Wrestling (WWE's developmental organization) to recover the step or two he lost during his exile.

Hmm, after two months, McGuinness/Wolfe had several head-to-head matches with a world-class opponent; Danielson has had one meaningless Dark Match against Chavo Guerrero Jr.and a conditioning stint in the minor leagues.

Accordingly, TNA fans are far more familiar with Wolfe's character. WWE fans have little idea of Danielson. In fact, "The Best In The World" is seemingly M.I.A. Wrestling fans are clamoring for Danielson, but it's the kind of clamoring a wrestler doesn't want to hear. The thrust of nearly every email, post, and letter we get here in the office about Danielson is, "What happened to Bryan Danielson?" "Can anybody tell me when Danielson will wrestle again?"

Of course, both men are barely settled into their new places of work. Unless somebody here owns a crystal ball, there's no way we can tell how their careers will pan out.But judging by what I've seen so far, I think I can make an educated guess:

Nigel/Desmond will continue to push for the TNA World title. Expect compelling feuds with Angle, Styles, Daniels, Amazing Red, and Samoa Joe. Eventually, Wolfe be sucked into faction of some kind that will later spit him out ... and he'll land right back up at the top of the card. Danielson, I fear, has a one-way ticket to ECW/Smackdown purgetory-if he even survives the traditional WWE New Year's house-cleaning. He may one day end up as the silent partner of some enhancement-level tag team on Smackdown. But given his lack of charisma and overabundance of technical skills, I'd say he's more likely to end up back at Swanson & Ritner Aves. before his career is over.

That is not meant as a knock on Danielson, who is an extraordinarily gifted wrestler. It about the fit. Nigel has a grating personality hewn over years in ROH. He's simply more TV-ready than Bryan is. Of course, Danielson's move set is the envy of any person that has ever laced up a pair of boots. But that'll do him little good in WWE, where TV-friendly 4-minute matches prevail.

I wish both men good luck with their new employers, however, I can't help but feel that McGuinness will land in a better place than Danielson.

--Frank Krewda
Editor-In-Chief

Four sides or six? It actually does make a difference


Here are two topics you don’t see combined too often: Professional wrestling and geometry.

There’s been a lot of discussion in the wrestling community since Hulk Hogan banished TNA’s signature six-sided ring and replaced it with a standard four-sided wrestling at Sunday’s Genesis pay-per-view. While some TNA officials, including Hogan and color commentator Taz, both praised the change as a welcome “back-to-basics” move, other TNA loyalists had become quite attached to the six-sided ring, which they saw as a symbol of TNA’s distinctiveness. Many of the latter group of fans made their preference quite clear as they chanted “We want six-sides!” at the start of the pay-per-view.

The majority of wrestling fans likely fall into a third category – those who don’t really care one way or another what shape TNA’s ring is. They believe the company is wasting time and energy spending more than a second addressing the matter – especially when so much else needs fixing. Those fans would argue that, other than aesthetic appeal, there is no significant difference between a square ring and a hexagonal one.

But I beg to differ. While I agree that the six-sided ring did serve to set TNA apart from WWE – if only in a largely shallow way – I applaud Hogan and company for making the change back to a standard-issue, four-sided ring. Besides the fact that they simply look right, wrestling rings have historically had four sides for several reasons. Here are a few of them:

. A four sided ring has more space: Take a couple of slices of hard salami, some pepperjack cheese, and honey maple turkey, put them between two slices of white bread, and you’ve got quite the appetizing lunch. Now, take your knife and cut off each of the four corners. Indeed, the length of the sandwich from the top to the bottom, and from the left side to the right would all remain the same. But the perimeter is quite a bit smaller. In other words, you’d have considerably less sandwich to eat. It’s simple geometry. While the distance between opposite sides on the six-sided ring may be the same as in a four-sided ring, overall wrestlers have lost square footage in their workspace. If you believe otherwise, I’d encourage you to attend a live TNA event. You’d be surprised how small the ring looks up close.

. A four-sided ring has right angles: My fifth grade teacher Ms. Youngs would be so proud of me for what I am about to write. You see, as a square, a standard wrestling ring has four 90-degree angles. However, an equilateral hexagon, as TNA’s six-sided ring was, has six angles of 120 degrees each. While that may mean little to you, right angles actually serve several purposes within a wrestling match. For one, they allow wrestlers to plant there feet in a more natural forward-facing position when standing on the top rope – giving them firmer footing when executing high-risk maneuvers. Right angles are also effective tools for inflicting punishment. Ramming your opponent back-first into a sharp, 90-degree angle during a ringside brawl could do considerably more damage than a wider 120-degree angle.

. A four-sided ring keeps wrestlers further away from the ropes: Nothing takes the suspense out of a potentially perilous submission hold like having the ring ropes just a few inches away – almost ensuring that the wrestler in danger will reach the ropes, and force the referee to break the hold. In a standard ring, a wrestler –in-peril can hope to be within reach of one of four sides. In a six-sided ring, he’s got a 50-percent better chance of forcing a break – making submission moves considerably less suspenseful.

. A four-sided ring allows fans to be closer to the action: While TNA officials may have had no problem in laying out the Impact Zone so fans would be seated facing each of the ring’s six sides, such a layout can present a challenge in most other arenas. And so, while TNA’s ring may have had six sides, ringside fans were routinely seated on four sides. That means that fans seated near the corners would be considerably further away from the ring than fans seated in the middle of the rows. And I bet there tickets weren’t any cheaper.

If I racked my brain out, I could probably think of other reasons to favor a traditional four-sided wrestling ring over TNA’s experimental six-sided one. And, of course, reasonable people could probably find some benefits of keeping the hexagon. Chief among them would be that TNA’s will likely now have to scrap some of the infrastructure that was especially built for the six-sided ring, including its steel cages.

But, I for one, am a firm believer in the old adage about not fixing something that ain’t broke. It’s called the “squared circle” for a reason.

- Al Castle
Pro Wrestling Illustrated Senior Writer

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hogan and the Knockouts


Although I enjoy women's wrestling for all the reasons you'd suspect, I have no illusions about its role in the industry. I just hope that Hulk Hogan doesn't have any as well. Ever since TNA announced the Hogan acquisition, we've heard plenty about his supposed likes and dislikes-the six-sided ring, creative writers, cruiserweights, etc. What we haven't heard yet is how he feels about women's wrestling.

Under most circumstances, I wouldn't even care about Hogan's mindset in this regard. But because female wrestling is one of two areas (tag team wrestling is the other) in which TNA thoroughly outclasses WWE, I'm very interested to see how he manages this asset.

If the January 4 head-to-head showdown with Monday Night Raw was any indication, I suspect Hogan will squander what the Knockouts division brings to TNA, which many weeks has been Impact's most highly rated segment. While TNA probably did the right thing by installing Awesome Kong & Hamada as new tag champions over the talented but vanilla team of Taylor Wilde & Sarita, the company demonstrated very little regard for the Knockouts title by a) Giving a title match away on Impact; b) Changing champions in a match that lasted just 2:40; and c) Undercutting ODB with the screwjob finish (although I didn't mind the .0003 seconds of Tara's exposed backside). Whether intentional or not, the entire Tara-ODB segment smacked of WCW circa 1999, and that is not a good omen.

Now, back to the illusions. I can't sit here and tell you I think TNA can or will ride the Knockouts to massive ratings or compete against WWE by virtue of its female roster. What it can do, however, is play to this strength, thereby drawing more fans to its product. But that will never happen if Hogan is allowed to treat the Knockouts the same way he treated WCW's cruiserweights.

--Frank Krewda
Editor-in-Chief

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How a (reality) star was born on Monday's RAW

I have to admit something - even though I am still deep down a WWE fan, I'm probably one of the most jaded you'll find. If not for force of habit, I might've "lost interest" the minute I left the company.

If I had, I'd have missed quite possibly the best moment on Raw in a long, long time - a moment that could become one the most important of the 2010s: Monday night's promo between The Miz and MVP (check it out for yourself).

It doesn't even have anything to do with the content, per se. Yes, most of what they said was a shoot. But in the process of using that info as storyline fodder, both Miz and MVP showed more character depth than most of the roster has in months.

And it could be the moment that launches both men into the upper echelon for good.

For once, people now have a reason to care about Mike Mizanin as more than just the reality star goofball who puts himself over at everyone's expense and causes trouble everywhere he goes.

Now, the general public is seeing what those of us who have been behind the scenes at WWE already know - his road to success hasn't been easy.

Fans hated him. Superstars hated him more. His in-ring talent was limited. People resented him and where he came from, and used every little excuse they could to bury him.

He kept going, because he wanted to be a WWE Superstar. Love or hate the guy, I can tell you this much about Mike Mizanin: When it comes to desire, he's much more John Cena than Brock Lesnar, so to speak.

I know the feeling. I always wanted to be in the wrestling industry too. And even though my path took me down the journalistic route, I can identify with what Mike Mizanin has gone through to make "The Miz" a WWE Superstar.

After he delivered the promo of his life on Monday night, 15,000 Minnesotans did too, because they had no problem chanting along with his "I'm Awesome" catchphrase.

All because he finally showed his true colors.

And the truth is, he has worked hard and is leaps and bounds better than the guy who lost Tough Enough IV to Daniel Puder (remember him?) in late-2004. He's shown it in the ring by winning the U.S. title and both halves of the Unified tag team titles, though not when they were unified. He's shown it by finding success on all three brands. And he's shown it in his personality; when I worked for wwe.com, "The Dirt Sheet" was always one of our top-streamed videos of the week (and, to be honest, also usually the most entertaining).

He's built the sundae, so to speak - and now, this feud with MVP might just be the cherry that completes it.

Of course, MVP had a hand in that too. Ever since he became "fan-friendly," as he put it, he has been sorely lacking something. As a heel, his ego and his killer instinct were his entire character, but since moving to Raw he's been just another dude in the midcard shuffle. Now, he's back in the game.

But on a show that has relied on decade-old nostalgia as of late, the MVP/Miz brouhaha had me harkening back to a decade-old rivalry that actually was great for both parties: The Rock vs. Triple-H, circa DX vs. The Nation.

Miz could easily be The Rock - a guy who came into WWE with much fanfare but was hated by the fans until he developed a personality and/or catchphrase that made him cool.

Likewise, MVP could be Triple-H - a guy who came in as a "holier than thou" character, had some midcard success, and floundered a bit until he developed an edge.

Throw in a secondary title to feud over, and voila! A recipe for success.

That Rock/Triple-H feud - highlighted by a tremendous ladder match at SummerSlam 98 - generated a lot of buzz and made both of their careers.

If the Miz and MVP can knock one out of the park when they finally step into the ring, they could do the same exact thing.

Louie Dee
PWI Contributing Writer

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Impact Left My Head Spinning


It was fun to pretend for one night at least that it was the late-1990s and that Monday night was as much about business as it was who pinned whose shoulders to the mat. We may never see another rivalry the likes of WWF vs. WCW again, but Monday night, January 4, could be as close as we ever get.

Truthfully, player-for-player, TNA stacks up well with WWE, so this was anything but a mismatch from the perspective of talent. But as Mrs. McMahon will find out in November, it's not easy to topple the incumbent.

Frank Ingiosi's column at pwi-online.com presents an entertaining and informative timeline of the night's matchup. He even has a running scorecard and I won't ruin it by telling you his final tally. But I will say this: January 4, 2010, was far more about TNA than it was WWE. Raw has its audience and doesn’t need to do anything special to impress (though bringing Bret Hart in as guest host was not an accident of timing). Impact was given an opportunity to make a first impression on Monday night channel surfers, and while we have no idea at this moment how well they scored with the Nielsen families or if this night will indeed change the course of the company’s history, here are a few things that I jotted down on my notepad:

Impact could not have gotten off to a worse start. Presenting an X division match was a great call, but putting eight of them in a bright orange cage with thick bars was a huge production blunder. On long camera shots, you could barely make out what was going on in the ring. Close-ups made the wrestlers more visible, but only Super Director could have made sure we didn’t miss the best spots. The no-contest conclusion was made even worse by the fans’ chant that had to be bleeped. It was altogether embarrassing. Fortunately, Jeff Hardy came out, and even more fortunately, TNA was running unopposed for the first hour.

Things could only get better. In some ways they did. In others, they did not.

The positives: Kevin Nash’s interview with Christy Hemme was refreshing. It’s not often you get to hear a wrestler just speak and not go into promo mode … The TNA Knockouts tag team match pitting Sarita and Taylor Wilde against Awesome Kong and Hamada was superb, and a stark contrast to a very weak Maryse vs. Brie Bella offering on Raw … Sneaking in a commercial for Impact on USA Network was incredible, especially considering TNA had done the same thing a week earlier, albeit not when the two shows were going head to head … Hulk Hogan looked and sounded very good … Eric Bischoff has not lost a beat … A.J. Styles vs. Kurt Angle was tremendous, though the wrestlers went to the well with their finishers a bit too often in a match that may have been a tad long. The ending was conclusive and very satisfying.

The negatives: Everybody loves the finale of a fireworks display; Impact looked like it tried to be the fireworks finale for the full three hours. There was a lot of neat little surprises, but maybe too many. By the time the show was half over, I wasn’t even thinking about Jeff Hardy anymore. He is more important to pro wrestling in 2010 than Scott Hall and Sean Waltman and The Nasty Boys, etc., and left no impression. Truthfully, TNA tried to cram so much down our throats that much of the good food lost its flavor … Speaking of Hall, he needs to go far, far away. He looked awful and sounded worse. At least he and Waltman were there to party and not to wrestle - I hope … Maybe my mind was a little numb last night, but didn’t we discover Beer Money Inc. assaulted back stage and then find them in the same condition an hour or so later? … Strip poker? Ughh! … Val Venis, The Nasty Boys? Bubba the Love Sponge? Pure cronyism. Can Jimmy Hart, Brutus Beefcake, and Jason Hervey be far behind? … Finally, we saw Dixie Carter in the stands and it’s kind of understandable why she did not have a role. TNA was intent on trying to build new WWE fans with characters they were most familiar with. But I think we need the TNA president to step forward and make us understand this power shift within her company. How did Hulk become her “partner,” and what exactly does that mean? If Hogan is the new law in town, was Eric Bischoff deputized matchmaker? What happened to Jeff Jarrett’s power? You know what he did wrong, I know what he did wrong, but what about the majority of TNA fans? One minute he’s in the ring being cheered by the fans for beating the odds and keeping TNA alive; the next he’s being sent to the back of the line by Mr. Hogan? What gives? How far can Hogan go before he usurps whatever authority Dixie apparently has bestowed upon him? Might he go too far (storyline and otherwise)? I’ll tune in to see TNA straighten out this mess. I guess TNA would consider that a plus.

As for Raw, nothing much to report. I watched as much of both shows as I could and can’t really say anything bad about WWE’s offering. Bret Hart was far better than I could have imagined. His encounters with Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon were predictable, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. One last note: The tribute to Steve “Dr. Death” Williams by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, while brief, was heartfelt and classy.

Stu Saks/Publisher

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hypedown: 2010

Is there any way possible that either, or both, WWE and/or TNA meets the phenomenal expectations of this evening's Monday night skirmish?

If so, who wins and who loses?

-Frank Ingiosi
Senior Writer, Pro Wrestling Illustrated