Chair Shots: The Obligatory End of Year Column
Dec 22, 2013 - 9:14:58 PM
Welcome back dear readers to the column that just bought a new house- Chair Shots! Yes, that’s right; I’ve taken the leap and purchased a new home. Now comes the fantastic fun of moving. So who wants to help? Anyone? Anyone? Anyway, we’re at the end of 2013 and what a year in wrestling it has been. We’ve seen the rise of Daniel Bryan, the unification of the WWE and World Heavyweight Titles, the rise and fall of TNA, and so much more. Instead of doing the usual “Wrestler of the Year”, “Match of the Year” type of thing, I’ve decided to point out some of the highlights and lowlights of the year that was 2013.
Biggest Surprise of 2013- The Title Unification in the WWE
Quite honestly, this was one I didn’t see coming. For quite a few years now, wrestling fans have been debating the merits and the problems surrounding unifying the WWE Title and the World Heavyweight Title. On the plus side, there is more uniformity to the WWE title landscape. No more questions of Royal Rumble winners and who they challenge. No more PPV that have the World Heavyweight Title curtain-jerking the card. Those days are gone. But on the negative side, there is now a more narrow Main Event focus. Those wrestlers who previously were given the opportunity to challenge for a top tier title are now jockeying for position even more than ever. At the end of the day, whether you’re Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio, CM Punk, or Randy Orton, you have to be a bit dismayed that John Cena still remains the #1 guy in the WWE. Time will tell how this plays out, but it’s been an interesting journey so far.
Biggest Flop to an Angle that Started Off Strong- Aces & Eights
Much like TNA’s 2013, the path of Aces & Eights started off with a bang, but ended with a whimper. I’ll admit it, I was intrigued. A group of thugs attacked Sting, and week after week we saw masked men take their shots at the TNA Elite. Who were they? Why were they there? Who was in charge? There was so much potential in this angle, and for a little while it seemed like it was going to be a real winner. When Bully Ray was ultimately revealed as the leader of Aces & Eights and won the TNA Title, things couldn’t have been going better for TNA. But then things went downhill, and downhill fast. Releases started happening left and right. D’Lo Brown was cut loose. DOC was let go. Mr. Anderson left for a short time, and when all was said and done it was Bully Ray, Wes Briscoe, Garrett Bischoff and Tazz on commentary. How exciting was that? Bully Ray did his best to continue to make the club seem like a force to be reckoned with, but even the die-hard fans knew the angle ended in a thud.
Best “Got Me Off My Sofa” Moment of the Year- The Rhodes Boys win their jobs back
You guys know me by now; I’m an old school mark. So when Dusty Rhodes showed back up on my TV screen I was in total bliss. I grew up watching the son of a plumber shuck and jive the NWA for years and years. The angle worked beautifully and nothing excited me more than the match that followed with Cody and Goldust fighting for their respective careers, and ultimately futures in professional wrestling against The Shield. Had the match not delivered, everything that had been previously been built up could have fallen by the wayside, but for me it was high on my list of MOTY candidates. Seeing Dusty throw the bionic elbow; seeing the joy in the faces of Cody and Goldust teaming together- it was all too much. It got me off of my sofa cheering at the TV screen. I’ve been watching wrestling for over 35 years. It takes a hell of a lot to do that. This was that moment.
Best Tag Team That Deserved a Title Run and Didn’t Get It in 2013- The Usos
The increased emphasis on the WWE’s tag team division has given some much needed air time to a lot of wrestlers on the roster as of late. Just a few short years ago, the WWE Tag Title scene was dominated by thrown together teams that tossed around the title with little significance. But with The Shield, The Rhodes’, Team Hell No, The Real Americans, etc., the Tag Titles are as strong as ever. One team though really took advantage of the increased time they were given, and that was Jimmy and Jey Uso. I can’t think of one match on any PPV, or even on weekly TV where they didn’t give it everything they had. Their chemistry with The Shield was similar to that of The Midnight Express and The Rock and Roll Express, and it didn’t hurt that Roman Reigns is part of the Usos family. So why didn’t they get a title run in 2013? That’s a very good question, as I thought it was going to happen on a couple of occasions. I’m hoping their great run of matches continues into 2014, and that the WWE gives them a shot at the gold. They earned it this past year.
Worst Title Reign of 2013- Chris Sabin as TNA Heavyweight Champion
Did anybody buy into this? When Sabin decided he was going to cash in “Option C” and challenge Bully Ray for the title, I laughed. I legitimately sat at home and chuckled at my TV. Then HE WON! This was another one of TNA’s decisions that I just didn’t understand. Week after week, he was trotted out by the Main Event Mafia, who continually saved his skin like he was their little mascot. The focus was not on the belt for even one minute, except for when Bully Ray whooped his ass to take it back. Quite honestly, I don’t even really have anything against Chris Sabin, but I feel like this was Dixie Carter’s way of rewarding Chris Sabin for coming back from back to back awful injuries. It was a mistake, and one of many that would continue through the year for TNA.
TNA Wrestler That Needs to be in the WWE in 2014- Bully Ray
If there was anyone that reinvented themselves in 2013 to be better than ever before it was Bully Ray. Ray got himself into the best shape of his life, took the bull by the horns and become THE GUY in TNA for the better part of the year. He managed to keep a dying angle relevant with his great mic work and his solid in-ring performances. He went toe to toe with Hulk Hogan and even made me not hate seeing Brooke Hogan on the screen all that much. But he’s done there. There’s nothing left for Bully Ray to do in TNA, and I’d love to see him have one more run in the WWE before he calls it a day. Will he be a Main Event guy in the WWE? Probably not, but he’ll most certainly get some considerable ring time, and probably some fairly high profile feuds. Imagine Bully Ray going toe to toe with Punk, or even Cena for that matter. Bully Ray, the ultimate Thug vs. John Cena, the man that used to preach Thug Life. It’s like Heaven vs. Hell all over again. Make it happen WWE!
Person I Couldn’t Be Happier For in 2013- Goldust
How can you not be? If you’ve followed Dustin Runnels career you know he’s been as high as you can get in the business, and at the same time been as high as you can get in the business. This is a man that practically lost everything- his career, his family, his money. But to his credit he turned his life around and is in the best shape I’ve ever seen him. He’s somehow managed to turn back the clock and look as sharp, if not sharper than he did 15 years ago. At 44 years of age, Goldy has seen his share of bumps and bruises in not only a WWE ring, but an NWA/WCW one, and even a TNA one. But what continues to impress me is that he’s not just coming out here and doing the same old stuff he did years ago. Goldust continues to bring out new maneuvers almost weekly that we haven’t seen before. He’s truly a poster boy for second, third and fourth chances.
Biggest Fall from Grace in 2013- Dolph Ziggler
Does everybody remember that post WM pop when Dolph cashed in his briefcase? It was, for a time, a lot of fans “wrestling moment of the year”. And then it was all gone. He got a concussion, and ultimately lost the title to Alberto Del Rio, never to be close to it again, not anywhere close. In fact, Dolph has been on the losing end of things for the better part of the second half of 2013. It really makes you wonder who Dolph pissed off backstage. He’s been known to speak before he thinks, with his tweets often times being quite questionable. It probably also didn’t help his reaction when his brother was released from NXT this year either. Dolph has all the talent in the world, and just as little common sense. I’m not sure Dolph will ever recover quite frankly, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he was gone at the end of 2014.
Biggest Personal Wrestling Moment of 2014- Interviewing Matt Morgan and John Morrison
When Kurt Angle went back into rehab, Matt Morgan tweeted out support for his friend. He asked for fans to do that as well instead of judge. I tweeted back to him what a classy move that was. To my surprise, he responded to me. We ended up talking for a while, and eventually he followed me on Twitter. We kept in touch on and off throughout the year, and eventually I was able to interview both him and his friend John Morrison as they were promoting the FWE Open Weight Grand Prix. It was a great moment for me personally, and for LOP Radio as well. Matt and John are two of the biggest free agents in the business right now, and why no one has snapped them back up is beyond me. Big thanks to both of them for being a highlight of my wrestling year.
Promotion That Could Have an Impact in 2014 If…- FWE
Yes, there’s an “IF” to that. Let me tell you though, with the talent that FWE has coming through their door, if they can get some financial backing behind them they could be a legitimate player. As I’ve already mentioned, they have John Morrison, Matt Morgan, Carlito, Tony Nese, The Young Bucks, Petey Williams, and Ted Dibiase Jr. just to name a few. If you look at one of their cards, it’s like a Who’s Who of the independent wrestling scene of former WWE, ECW, and TNA wrestlers all rolled into one organization. The “IF” comes with them being able to deliver their product without glitches on an iPPV basis. We’ve already seen RoH completely STOP doing live iPPV, and when I tried to watch the Open Weight Grand Prix, it was riddled with technical difficulties. Right now, this is the only way for them to get their product out there. They HAVE to get it right. They just have to.
Match of the Year 2013- CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
Yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to do the typical year end column stuff, but I had to throw this one in. True confession time- I’ve HATED the return of Brock Lesnar. It’s been too “stop start” due to the schedule they signed him too, and I don’t feel as though Lesnar really CARES about professional wrestling outside of collecting a paycheck. But when this match rolled around, I became a fan, at least for a short time. Punk and Lesnar delivered like no other match of the year for me. While the WWE will tell you that the Universe voted for Rock/Cena II, and somehow didn’t feel this match even warranted being an option, most fans will tell you this deserved to be there if not win it outright. The brutality and physicality that both men endured was a sight to behold, and I saw a little something out of Lesnar that I hadn’t seen previously- investment in the match.
So there you have it Chair Shots readers, my 2013 year-end column. I hope you all have a great holiday and welcome 2014 in with the best possible way. I’ve enjoyed writing for LordsofPain.net this year, and hope the New Year continues to provide me with tons of topics to cover. Happy Holidays!
Until next time,
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